Sunday, September 21, 2008

Question from Margaret - Duties of a Tudor bailiff

Roger Whitton received a grant to be Bailiff of Watlington in 1519. Would be grateful if someone could explain the duties of a bailiff in Tudor times.

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

There were several kinds of bailiffs, including civil and church (parish) bailiffs as well as private bailiffs on larger manorial estates. From the way your question is worded, it sounds as though Whitton was a civil bailiff in a small town or village. Civil bailiffs were often responsible for collecting certain types of local taxes and fees, collecting fines imposed by the local justice system, assembling juries for trials when needed, and executing writs or orders from higher-ranking officials (eviction notices, foreclosures, and such). They also oversaw the local small courts, called hundred courts ("hundreds" being local sub-divisions of counties or shires). He reported to the sheriff of the county or shire. But because of the nature of the work involved, it could be a lucrative job, since many bailiffs received inducements ("gifts" and bribes) to speed the wheels of justice in favor of a particular party, and others were able to skim a little off the top of the fees and fines they collected.