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Enclosure of the Open Fields

The Abbot of Halesowen had evidently allowed some enclosure of the common fields of Romsley for there was a complaint at the manor court in 1480 that "William Locock keeps in severalty closed one field called le middlefield, which certain field was accustomed to be open each third year and all years after the grains are carried off". The speed of enclosure increased with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, when purchasers of former abbey lands sought a quick return on their investments. In 1539, Henry VIII sold Halesowen Abbey to John Dudley, who was executed for attempting to put his daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey, on the throne in 1553. His son Robert Dudley sold the estate in 1558 to two local men, Thomas Blount and George Tuckey. They offered the best farms to the sitting tenants on 1,000 year leases and sold the remainder to John Lyttelton of Frankley, whose family have been lords of the manor ever since. Neither the Dudleys or Blount and Tuckey were in possession long enough to force through a complex enclosure of the common fields in all the hamlets of Halesowen. It is more likely that the holders of the long leases taken out in 1508 re-arranged the common fields to their mutual benefit over a much longer period.

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