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Presentment, Millom court leet verdict sheet, 22 October 1742
Source: Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle, D/Lons/W8/12/39,
We order that John Stable make his Fence Between parock & Heslehead pasture (to know) Between the pasture & his parock which Lays above the gate at or before the first of appril upon pain of three Shilling & fourpence
A 'presentment' was a statement on oath by the jury or by an officer of the manor court, accusing an individual of breaching a rule or byelaw (‘paine’).
Ensuring the upkeep of fences to control stock was part of the staple fare of manor courts in the stock-rearing economy of Cumbria. Fences needed to be stock-proof by spring time (hence the requirement that Stable was to repair his fence before 1st April). Notice the very specific local details which are given: the order only concerns that part of the fence between John Stable's 'parock' (a small, enclosed field) and Heslehead pasture which lay 'above the gate'. (The phrase in parentheses, 'to know', is a variant of the more common phrase 'to wit').
The entry above is the record made on the verdict sheet at the sitting of the court. Sometimes the original presentment handed to the jury is preserved. In this case it is written on a small scrap of paper pinned to the verdict sheet:
This reads: 'We John Jackson & William brockelbank present John Stable for Letting his Fences be Out of Repaire att parrack [erasure] Lying to heselhead. Wittness William brockelbank'.
Jackson and Brockelbank may have been 'fencelookers' or 'hedgelookers' appointed by the court to oversee the upkeep of fences and to bring presentments against anyone whose fences were out of repair. This painfully written scrap of paper bears the hallmarks of having been written by a member of the farming community who did not write frequently: irregular use of capitals, erasures and insertions, and letter forms (particularly the lower case 'c') which would be old fashioned in the 1740s.
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