Bosbury in A History of Coddington, 1924

Brigadier General William G. Hamilton, C.B., C.S.I., D.S.O. published his typescript A History of Coddington in 1924. The reference for the bound version in the Herefordshire Library Service is F942.44. Hamilton also read a paper to the Woolhope Society on Field and Place Names of Coddington. A Local Study. on 17 December 1925. Historian Colin Mackie records that Hamilton served in India between September 1913 and April 1916.

page 9

St. Milburge to whom one of the altars [in Coddington church] was dedicated, was the daughter of Merewald, ruler of the Magasaetas (or Herefordshire men) under his brother Wulfhere King of Mercia (655A.D.) She was abbess of Wenlock, and to her is dedicated the church of Stoke St. Milburgh in South Shropshire in this Diocese. That she was a popular local saint is evidenced by the fact that Milburgh, Milborough, or Milbra (the name is variously spelt) was not an uncommon feminine name in these parts up to quite recent years and even still persists. It occurs seven times in our parish registers, which date from 1675, and on the tombstone of “Milbrough” Roger who died in 1882. It is also found at Eastnor, Ledbury, and elsewhere in the county it is understood.

pages 13, 14

The origin of the general restoration is indicated in the Proceedings of a Parish meeting held on the 22nd March 1865. “The following resolution was unanimously voted - that the Rector having communicated the intentions of a lady to restore the ancient church of this parish, and having exhibited us plans which appear exceedingly suitable for the purpose and of great beauty this parish accepts the kindness thus intended and wish the expression of their sincere gratitude to be conveyed to the Donor.”

A well known story tells us the reason of the beneficence of the lady referred to in the resolution of the parish meeting. One day, the Revd. Edward Higgins, of Bosbury House, had a bad accident when riding in Coddington Parish. He was taken to Coddington Rectory and there looked after until sufficiently recovered by the Rector, the Revd. George Curtis. The sister-in-law of the Revd. E. Higgins, Mrs. Hope (She and her sister Mrs. Higgins were joint heiresses), who was also a benefactress of Bosbury Church, offered as an expression of gratitude to restore Coddington Church at her own expense in any manner and to any extent the Rector desired.

pages 25, 26

The living has always been a poor one, though hardly out of proportion to the size of the parish and the number of inhabitants, which certainly never exceeded the total recorded in the parish registers for the year 1801, viz. 194.

In 1419 the prior of Great Malvern possessed a portion in the church of Coddington taxed at five shillings.(1) This was apparently a temporary arrangement, for it is not mentioned subsequently. In common with many other poor livings, the benefice was constantly exempted from the frequent subsidies voted by convocation to the King between 1422 and 1513. In 1426, it was estimated as being worth six marks, ( = £4.) and less. (2) In the list of livings in the Bishops’ presentation in Bishop Mayew’s register, undated, but somewhere between 1504 and 1516, Coddington is valued at ten marks (= £6. 15. 4.)

It may be noted for comparison that in the same list Bosbury, Colwall and Eastnor are all valued at £10.

In the return called for by King Henry VIII of the annual value of all Ecclesiastical benefices (known as the “Valor Ecclesiasticus”) and rendered by Bishop Foxe on the 27th. October, 1536, (3) the value of Coddington is certified as £3. 18. 5d. The reason for this heavy fall in value in comparatively so short a time is not apparent. Bosbury remains the same at £10. 2. 0. Colwall rises to £19. 13. 4d. and Eastnor falls somewhat to £8.

In 1920 the value of the living, as estimated for the Commission on the proposed union of the parishes of Coddington and Wellington Heath, (a proposal rejected by the Commission) was approximately £250 a year, gross, exclusive of the rent of the Rectory, being derived as to about £200 from tithe and the rest from rent of Glebe, income from funds derived from previous sale of Glebe, rent of a cottage, and surplice fees.

Compared with present value, the value of the living in the middle ages would appear to be ridiculously small and totally inadequate until we come to consider how greatly the value of money has depreciated, and the cost of living proportionately increased, since those days. For three hundred years from the middle of the thirteenth century the average value of wheat was between 5/10¾ and 5/11¾ a quarter, (4) while stock, though rising in value commanded low prices.

In 1437, oxen were sold for 10/-, in 1496 ewes for 8d, each - and as late has 1593 fat oxen were worth only £3 a head. (5) These are only examples.

Remuneration for service and labour was in proportion. A statute of Edward III fixes the yearly wages of Domestic Chaplains at 5 marks (£3. 6. 8d.) Wages, though greatly risen from the 2d. a day for an unskilled labourer or foot-soldier in Edward I’s time, only reached an average for skilled and unskilled workmen of 6/6d. a week between 1593 and 1684 - (the amount actually paid, that is, which was higher than the legal rates) - while in Herefordshire agricultural labourers received a maximum of 6/- a week, with drink in summer, and less in Winter as late as 1794. (4)

(1) Register of Bishop Lacy. Page 73.
(2) Register of Bishop Spofford, Page 93.
(3) Printed with Register of Bishop Bothe. Page 565.
(4) Thorold Rogers The Economic Interpretation of History 1909
(5) The Victoria County History of Herefordshire, Volume 1.

2012 BSS

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