Conisbrough & Denaby Main
Heritage Group

​Written by Carol Narey for use in the
Conisbrough & Denaby Main Heritage
Newsletter

SURVEYOR OF THE HIGHWAYS

Until 1555 the maintenance of local roads was a manorial duty but by this time the feudal system was on its way out with many responsibilities being handed over to the Parish.  Tudor legislation required every parishioner to provide four days of labour each year for each plough land or pasture that he owned.  Those who owned a draught of horses were required to make a similar commitment and to make available a cart and two men.  Later the four days of labour was extended to six - no doubt a reflection of the state of the roads.

Between 1555 and 1835 every parish cared for its roads and had a Surveyor of the Highways to monitor, arrange and supervise the work parties.  It was not easy to compel neighbours to spend several days a year doing hard labour on local roads, even if it was the law. Refusing to accept the post of surveyor could result in a fine, which goes to show the unpaid post was unpopular.  Many parishes solved the problem by rotating the task between those eligible to serve, usually people of a higher standing in the community.  The surveyor was allowed to dig for gravel, needed in the construction and repair of the roads, anywhere in the parish without needing to ask for permission.  If the surveyor was a landowner he would have control over the source of gravel and could dig this on his own property, of course he would then be paid for the gravel.
The free labour meant that the men of the parish needed to be organized, supervised and a record kept of those who refused to do the work.  The Parish Surveyor of Highways maintained accounts and three times each year he was required to ‘present’ the state of the roads to the Justices at the Quarter Sessions.

Each year a new surveyor was elected and shown how to fill in the register, once this was done the old register would no longer be needed and more than likely destroyed, few still survive.  
In these records names of local people can be found, usually with signatures, they state where the work was being done and by whom, what jobs were being carried out and any costs incurred. 

  1. Managing Director
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ALSO IN THE HIGHWAYS BOOK


MR SIMEON SIMPSON DR (OWES TO) BENJAMIN HALLAM FOR WORK CARRIED OUT ON THE HIGHWAYS

1846
JANUARY                        PLOUGHING & DRESSING 1 LAND IN THE HIGHFIELD           3s. 9d.
APRIL 24TH                   PLOUGHING & DRESSING 1 LAND IN THE HIGHFIELD            3s. 9d.
MAY 4TH                         PLOUGHING & DRESSING 1 LAND IN THE HIGHFIELD            3s. 9d.
MAY 8TH                         PLOUGHING & DRESSING 1 LAND IN THE DITTO                        6s. 0d.
MAY 22ND                      PLOUGHING & DRESSING 1 LAND IN DITTO                                  6s. 0d.
JUNE 2ND                       PLOUGHING & DRESSING DITTO & PARTE OF ANOTHER     7s. 0d.
JUNE 30TH                     PLOUGHING & DRESSING DITTO & ANOTHER                              6s. 0d.
JULY 1ST                           Ist & 2nd LOADS OF MANURE LEADING & SPREADING           6s. 0d.
1847
FEBRUARY 28TH        PLOUGHING & SOWING 2 LANDS WITH WHEAT                        7 s. 6d.

TOTAL OWING              £2 12s. 6d.

TO THE INHABITANTS OF THIS PARISH OF CONISBOROUGH IN THE SAID (WEST) RIDING TO WIT:


You may hereby take notice that the highway leading from Rotherham to Doncaster in this said riding (to wit) for six hundred yards in length of the same highway lying within the parish of Conisbrough from a place called round-about gate in a certain lane called Butterbusk Lane within the parish of Conisborough aforesaid stands presented at the general quarter sessions of the peace held for the said riding to be in great ruin and decay and that the inhabitants of this parish of Conisborough ought to repair the same and that a fine of £40 will be imposed upon the said inhabitants and will be seized for repairing of the said highway as likewise another fine of £10 on you the said surveyor for neglecting your duty if the same be not legally certified to be well and sufficiently repaired and amended at the next general quarter sessions of the peace to be holden at Pontefract for the said riding dated this 6th day of February 1756.
John Battie esq presented this road who must have notice before presentment can be dishcharged.

Thomas Pulleyn clerk of the peace
for the said riding