Welcome to the Brierley Village Web site

Pronounced as "bry"-"early"

Introducing the work of Brierley and its people in photographs (Baipip)

Brierley is a small village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire England

This web site is kindly hosted by me-too. net and is intended for your enjoyment. However if you find any article offensive please email and it will be removed at once

Please email your comments on this web site and any requests to Gary (see email link below)

Introduction to this website

View the statistics for this website

Your contribution

 Local links

Old newspaper cuttings

Search the Brierley Village website

Email this website

Local news stories

Home page
Ask Richard
Facts about Brierley
Photographs on line
Index to the Baipip photograph archives
Your Email
People Search
Where R U Now
Local Services
Local Organisations
Local History Archives





by Liz Whitehouse and Stan Bristow


Page 1 of  3


Page 2 Page 3


This article first appeared in the July 2005 edition of

Family Tree magazine


Local History archives index


The Photograph shows a Manor of Brierley Court Leet meeting on 1st November 1961. On the left seated George Michael Foljambe, stood up on the left is Thomas Moxon (b.1877) who is next to Arthur Hargreaves.

Photograph reproduced from an old newspaper cutting.

For many years following the end of the Second World War my father, Stan Bristow, covered an area to the east of Barnsley, in the former West Riding of Yorkshire, as a district reporter for the South Yorkshire Times. This job entailed a close involvement in the minutiae of life in half a dozen thriving pit villages including Cudworth, Brierley, and Grimethorpe. He became a member of Hemsworth Rotary Club and, I suspect, it was in this connection that he wrote the following, originally scripted as an after dinner speech.

     For those interested in local and family history, the talk shows how the ancient manorial courts leet survived in areas where common land remained to be administered Where court rolls and records survive, they provide family historians with a valuable supplement to parish registers and other parish records. In some areas, records of the court leet and court baron exist that pre-date parish registers by as much as 300 years.

      The talk was probably written in the early 1960s. and is already a piece of history in itself with its reference to the Coal Board and the 'success of the mining industry'. All the pits in the area were closed down following the miners' strike in the mid- 1980s.

     So sit back with your glass of brandy, and your after-dinner cigar. May I introduce Mr Stan Bristow, who is going to tell us something about the ancient Court Leet of the Manor of Brierley?

   'Because our present-day community is founded upon coal and the success of the mining industry, we are apt to look back no further than the industrial revolution when contemplating the historical background of the area in which we live, That, of course, is quite wrong, for long before the first shaft was sunk, there were happy agricultural communities thriving in this part of South Yorkshire, and their antiquity is underlined by the fact that at Brierley  we can boast of having one of the few manorial courts remaining in existence in this country.

     'Although I was born in this area, I knew nothing of the Court until some 15 years ago when, browsing around the district, I looked upon a public notice board in the village of Brierley and, mixed up with the notices announcing beetle drives and Women's Institute meetings, I came across a quaintly worded edict, which caught me smack between the eyes.

     'It informed me, and all others who chanced to pause and read, that the Court Leet of Our Sovereign Lady the Queen, with the Tourn and Great Court Baron of Edmund Walter Saville Foljambe Esquire, would assemble at the Three Horse Shoes Inn, and the proclamation charged all freeholders, leaseholders and other tenants belonging to the Manor of Brierley, owing suite and service to the court, to be there then to do the same, or omit at their peril.

     'Although, as far as I know, I owed neither suit nor service to my lord of the manor, I decided that, in my professional capacity, I should seek to attend the meeting of the Court.

     'That raised a difficulty for, as a journalist, although the government had by an Act of 1908 given me statutory right of attendance at certain local authorities' meetings, as far as I could ascertain, court leets were not included. Which, when one came to consider the point, was not unnatural, because when the courts were in there heyday, Caxton and his printing press had not been thought of, much less the Daily Express or the South Yorkshire Times.

     .However, my approach for permission to attend brought a ready agreement and one morning, as I stepped over the threshold of the Three Horse Shoes Inn, into the raftered bar parlour, I got the feeling, as I have done each time I have attended an assembly of the Court, that I was stepping back down the ages.

     'As I entered, a bailiff was just calling "Oyez, oyez! All manner of persons that have anything to do at the Court Leet here about to be Holden for the Manor of Brierley, draw nigh and give your attendance, and ye shall be heard".

      'That, I think, is a good point to break off and tell you something about the origin and purposes of these ancient courts.

     'In medieval times, everyone who held land within a manor was subject to the jurisdiction of the manorial court, whose powers varied from district to district. In general, the courts divided into two sections - as you heard in the proclamation of the Brierley court - the court leet and the court baron. The court leet dealt with criminal offences and the court baron with the economic problems of the manor: the problems of cultivation, services provided to the lord and the transference of holdings of land. The courts nominated their own officers for many of the positions in the small communities over which they had jurisdiction.

     'In the court leet, appointments included those of ale taster (a much sought after job, no doubt), pinder (impounder of stray animals), pound keeper (the pound being where straying animals were held), dyke reeve, burleyman (enforcer of byelaws) and, sometimes, inspector of weights and measures.


Local History archives index