Feud over pasturing cattle
1546 – or thereabouts In mid April Campden gossip was all about a feud between two of the richest and most important men in the area. Sir Thomas Smyth was entitled to pasture his animals on the New Leasowe. When he had married Elizabeth ffitzherbert he’d not just gained a wife and half of Campden; he found he’d got rights of pasture too. Thomas Bonner disputed his right. The whole thing escalated into violence. Smyth’s man, Thomas Lydgate, drove the cattle to the pasture. He was set on by six bullies sent by Thomas Bonner. They had swords and cudgels and poor Lydgate was beaten up. Smyth called out the bailiffs who sorted things out in Smyth’s favour, and that was the end of it. Or so everyone thought.
It was 11 o’clock at night on 23rd April. One of Bonner’s toughs went to the pasture and tried to turn Smyth’s cattle off. He wasn’t successful – probably Smyth was expecting something like this. That wasn’t the end of the row though. A couple of months later Smyth’s cattle were taken off to the pound and the bailiffs were given a forged document making out they belonged to Bonner – so they handed the cattle over to him!
However Smyth had one advantage over Bonner, he’d been a royal page and knew all the right people in King Henry VIII’s court and in London. So he went to law; the matter went before Star Chamber. Smyth probably knew every one of the councillors who sat in judgement. Bonner didn’t stand a chance! So that was that.
1787, April 9th; Campden was shaken by an explosion. Most people thought at first that it was an earthquake. A house in the High Street had been seriously damaged – pretty well gutted – by a bomb. A family feud was at the back of it. Gunpowder had been put in the attic and then set off. The perpetrator was the only one killed – and he was thrown 100 yards by the force of the explosion. No one knows which house it was. Maybe one of the CCHS House History researchers will find out? Or does anyone now resident in the High Street still have evidence of this sort of damage in their house and attic? Please tell CCHS if you do!
Establishment of the Town Council
1974 Forty years ago, very early in April 1974 a toast was drunk, probably in the Upper Room of the Town Hall -. Britain’s newest Town Council and Mayor were being celebrated. The Parish Council was no more, and ‘in accordance with the Local Government Act 1972,’ Campden Town Council was in being. The first mayor was Mr L. J. Brodie.