court leet of Wareham convenes at the end of November and consists
of the office-holders listed below, many of whom, in recent years,
have followed in the footsteps of their forefathers as members
of the court.
The Lord of the Manor: Mr.
J.D.C.Ryder who succeeded to the title in 1986, following his
father, who had held title for 58 years.
The Steward: Appointed by
the Lord of the Manor as his right-hand-man, quite literally the
"sty-ward", with the word sty in this case meaning "hall".
The Hayward: Appointed by
the Lord of the Manor as responsible for "enclosures and
fences"; that is the so-called "common land".
The Bailiff: Appointed by
the Lord of the Manor to administer 'arrests and summonses' and,
in practice, to supervise court matters.
The Officers: Appointed annually
by the Jury as follows:
Constables: to ensure law
and order during court sessions.
Ale tasters: to check that
a true pint and true quart are offered and to taste the quality
of the ale.
Carniter: to check the freshness
of the meat and poultry.
Bread Weighers: to check the
freshness and weight of the bread and to ensure a consistent two-pound
loaf throughout the manor.
Surveyors of Chimneys and Mantles
(otherwise know as chimney peepers): to check that chimneys are
swept clean; a measure introduced after the fire of Wareham in
1762, when a large part of the town was destroyed.
Scavengers: to ensure standards
of hygiene within the 'lanes and privies' of the town. to guard
against the spread of infectious disease.
Leather Sealer: to maintain
the quality of leather goods.
In addition to the above are the Foreman of the Jury and his Deputy,
presiding over the nominal twelve Jurymen who are appointed by
The current official functions of the court are the appointment
of officers, the swearing in of the jury, the taking of presentments
with respect to the common land, the town walls, the town pound
and other matters of local concern, and, perhaps more importantly,
maintaining the ancient and time-honored traditions of the court