In the 14th century it passed to the Courtenays, and in 1698 Sir William Courtenay was confirmed in the right of holding court leet, view of frankpledge and the nomination of a portreeve, these privileges having been surrendered to James II.
A court leet and view of frankpledge have been held here from time immemorial.
Ultimately the laws of the 10th and 11th centuries show the beginnings of the frankpledge associations, which came to act so important a part in the local police and administration of the feudal age.
As a royal possession it appears to have enjoyed various privileges in the 12th century, among them the right of choosing a bailiff to collect the toll and render it to the king, and to elect six burgesses and send them to the view of frankpledge twice a year.
More especially the police association, organized for the keeping of the peace and the presentation of criminals - the frankpledge groups were formed of all " worthy of were and wite," villeins as well as freemen.
In some districts the men who were bound to be in frankpledge were grouped in associations of ten, twelve or more individuals called tithings.
When a person who was accused of any crime was not forthcoming, inquiry was made whether he was in frankpledge; if he were not, and had no right of exemption, the township was amerced, but if he were in a tithing,-then it was upon the tithing that the amercement fell.
There are also indications that in the ancient kingdom of Mercia the tithing was originally a district and not a mere association of persons; but in Northumbria it is doubtful whether the system of frankpledge and tithing, either personal or territorial, was ever established.
Of these the most important was the "view of frankpledge" and its attendant police jurisdiction.
But the history of the frankpledge proper begins not earlier than the time of the Norman Conquest.
The view of frankpledge (visus franciplegii), or the duty of ascertaining that the law with regard to frankpledges was complied with, was in the hands of the sheriffs, who held an itinerant court called the "sheriff's tourn" for this and other purposes.
This court was held twice a year, but in 1217 it was ordered that the view of frankpledge should only be taken once - at Michaelmas.
Some lords of manors and of hundreds held a court of their own for view of frankpledge, and in the 13th century it may be fairly said "of all the franchises, the royal rights in private hands, view of frankpledge is perhaps the commonest."
At the end of the same century the court for the view of frankpledge was generally known as the court leet, and was usually a manorial court in private hands.
However, the principle of the frankpledge was still enforced.
Thus Bracton says "every male of the age of twelve years, be he free be he serf, ought to be in frankpledge," but he allows for certain exceptions.
As the word frankpledge denotes, these societies were originally concerned only with freemen; but the unfree were afterwards admitted, and during the 13th century the frankpledges were composed chiefly of villains.
From petitions presented to parliament in 1376 it seems that the view of frankpledge was in active operation at this time, but it soon began to fall into disuse, and its complete decay coincides with the new ideas of government introduced by the Tudors.
In a formal fashion courts leet for the view of frankpledge were held in the time of the jurist Selden, and a few of these have survived until the present day.
Palgrave has asserted that the view of frankpledge was unknown in that part of the country which had been included in the kingdom of Northumbria.
The machinery of the frankpledge was probably used by Henry II.
The system of frankpledge prevailed in some English boroughs.
Sometimes a court for view of frankpledge, called in some places a mickleton, whereat the mayor or the bailiffs presided, was held for the whole borough; in other cases the borough was divided into wards, or into leets, each of which had its separate court.
In1226-1227when it belonged to Hugh Despenser he obtained various privileges for himself and his men and tenants there, among which were quittance from suits at the county and hundred courts, of sheriffs' aids and of view of frankpledge, and also a market every Thursday and a fair on the vigil, day and morrow of St Peter ad vincula.
Every three weeks, while twice a year all the freemen of the wapentake were summoned to the view of frankpledge or tourn held by the sheriff.