Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

Fishlake History Society

Recording historical information before it disappears

The Fishlake Pinder.


Fishlake Pinfold

The Fishlake pinfold as it is today in Pinfold Lane.

The village Pinder was originally a manorial or parish officer in charge of the pound or pinfold, an important job within an open field agrarian system. The office date back to medieval times.

The Fishlake Pinder was elected at the bylaw court every year and responsible to the bylawmen. His job was to impound livestock found straying about the township and to place them in a pound or pinfold, many of these structures still survive including a brick one in Fishlake. (See above).  Early pounds were less substantial being constructed of wood. For example, in 1669 " Will(iam) Womersley for the Pinfould in wood, spickes & workman the sums of 10s 5 d".


Traditional duties were described in the bylaw book for 1603 " that yf the Pinder ffyde anye man horse or beaste tethered in the come (common) feylde that he shall tayke & carye these cattell so tetheared to the pinfold tayke for evye beaste so tethered 4d of the owner”.

A fine would have been made when the owner collected his animal from the pound, which led to a not uncommon practice of the owner to try and recover his animal or animals without paying the fine, this was usually tried at night and was known as a breach or rescue. The Pinder had therefore to keep a watch for such practice and present anyone who was caught in the act.

However, this traditional view of the Pinder of rounding up stray animals, as described above, is too simplified, in practice his duties were more numerous and invaluable.

Additional responsibilities included to view the field fences (these fences were temporary wicket hurdles placed in the open fields during the growing season) the bylaw of 1610 details the duties of the officer and his remunerations as follows…

" Soe that the saide Pynder shall serve in the saide office from this day tyll the next bylawe daye and yt ….be shall walke & veiwe the 2 sowne fields evy day twice & the said bylawe ynge evy day once betwixt lady day & michallms & when he findeth defalte in the fences or gates he shall give warning to the pty (party) to make & repe (repair) the same presently wth in such a short tyme as he shall think fyt not above 2 dayes at most & yf be yt not made wth in that tyme he shall augment 3 or 4 of the bylawmen their wth & he & they shall take a sufficient distress & to pay for the makinge of the sd (said) defalt & to let yt be made And the sd (said) Pynder shall suffer none to get pescale but the owns or suche as have leave of them to goe And yf he impounde any stranges horse or cattle he shall not allw them wth out concent of 2 or 3 of the bylawmen & he must have for his paynes his Accustomed & p..chett & for evy acre in the sowne fields jd & for evy acre in the bylawe ynge jd the saide wage to be pyed 3 tymes vidz half of the feilde at Whits  (torn page)

 Not only did the Pinder check the field fence, he had to give notice of fencing at different times of the year. October 17th 1702 the Pinder is to go about the town to give notice to fence the field.

March 26 th 1702 the Pinder is to go about giving notice to make wire fences in the Ings.

Then at Harvest time the Pinder was again in demand. After the corn had been led away the poor of the village had the right to glean (gathering, for example grain, after a harvest) the fields, they had 12 days to do this, before the fields were broken open for pasturing thus we read in 1716 that " the Pinder to have power to impound any goods (animals) within the time of 12 days after the field before cleared". As we see pasturing took place on the open fields (when out of cultivation) including on the common and Ings.

The pasturing of animals took the form of a gist or agistment which is to allow admittance of stock to feed on the pasture at a fixed charge. There was no charge and a limited number of animals were pastured, this is known as a gate or cattle gate, alternatively the term stint is used but mostly used in the South of England. So, a gate is the right or privilege of pasturing of cattle etc. Consequently, it was important to control the number of animals being pastured at any one time, therefore the names were recorded of all the owners and the number of animals they could put out to pasture.

The Pinder was involved with this practice, so in 1735 as agreement between the bylawmen and the owners or occupies of land in Town Ings, who let their fields out for pasture. That on Sunday morning in the church yard the Pinder is to "take down in writing every man horse or beast"  and if during the course of the year additional animals were placed on the pasture then a 5/-per beast fine was imposed and the Pinder was ordered "to drive impound or obtain all such beasts, horses until the same five shillings be paid", and " the Pinder is ordered to lock up the Gate on Candlemas day yearly and keep the same lock till hay time and to impound as trespasses all horses, breasts, sheep & other cattle at any time between Candlemas & Michaelmas ", that is 2nd February and 29 the September.

From time to time the Fishlake pastures were drifted meaning all animals driven off and the herd checked for stray beasts which were impounded for trespassing. The drift involved many parish officers including the Pinder who played no small part.

The Pinder was also expected to undertake odd jobs for example William Teale the Pinder in 1694 was paid "for going about to give bylawmen notice to meet twice 10d".

 In 1689 John Wright, Pinder was paid for "earthing two gates streads and opening the Howle 2s". A Howle a tunnel or culvert under a road or bank. The Pinder was paid in wages and in kind. He had his expenses and casual earnings.

Over many years varied and somewhat complicated payment or reimbursements were made to the Pinder, partly in money and partly in kind. These were discussed and agreed at the Bylaw court, some examples follow:

In 1617 we are told that Robert Ameroide, the Pinder shall have for his pay in common Ings half an acre and the common balks in the field, besides what everyone will bestow upon him in harvest time.

In 1716, an earlier bylaw was reaffirmed, saying that “ it was agreed by this Bylawmen and the inhabitants that these persons who shall refuse to pay the pinder the usual wages (viz) one sheaf of corn for every acre of land sown in the common fields, that it shall be lawfull for the Bylawmen or major that of them to Distrain of such persons for refusing and to pay the pinder”.

The Pinder like other township officers had their own rights to pasture stock. It was agreed in 1735 that in the town Ings both the Pinder and ferryman shall put in 4 Beasts or two horses towards their allowance.

By 1783 his wages were made into money payments, as it was, " an agreement the day (18 th July) betwixt the Bylawmen and John Gray the pinder that for the future the pinder is to have two pence an acre instead of steaves (this could mean sheath, a group of strips in the open fields) in the common field, Low Ings and Fen Carr”.

So, the Pinder was an officer of importance and diversity which is largely forgotten. He impounded stray animals, controlled agisted pastures, opening howles, calling the bylawmen to meetings, inspecting fences, preserving the gleanings for the poor, active participant at the drift, locking gates, repairing gate posts, catching trespasses and preventing rescues from the Pound.

The relevance of the job diminished after the Parliamentary Enclosure Acts of 1812-1825 a fate common to other township officers. However, the Pinder did not immediately disappear in fact the last formally chosen Pinder in Fishlake was Arthur Buck 1943 and the pinfold continued to be used on rare occasion until very recently.

Finally, the first Pinder recorded in the Bylaw Book is Thomas Ellys 1598

Thereafter we have the following. (Please note that there are years in the records when a Pinder is not mentioned, in these cases it is likely that the Pinder from the previous year continues in his office).

1599 Thomas Ellys, 1603 Thomas Hornbye, 1604 John Watson, 1609 Thomas Sail, 1612 and 1613 Jo Atkyn, 1614 Thomas Hornbye, 1615 and 1617 Robert Armeroide,

1622-1614 John Watson, 1631 Robert Hall, 1633 Robert Wright, 1636 and 1637 Thomas Crabtre, 1639 - 1641 Thomas Ellis, 1645-1647 Robert Wright elder,1649-1655 Marmoduke Coates, 1662-1665 Thomas Stapelton, 1666 Thomas Waite, 1667-1674 Thomas Stapleton.

1688 Thomas Bilbye, 1689 and 1690 John Wright sen, 1691 Thomas Bilbye, 1693-1695 William Teale, 1696 William Waite, 1697-1703 William Teale, 1704-1717 Roger Cooke, 1720-1728 Thomas Robinson, 1731 Jno Pedley, 1783 John Gray.

The above information is primarily taken from the Fishlake Bylaw books 1582 -1675 and 1680-1808.

Rob Downing 2 April 2018.