In the past the High Bailiff was appointed by the Lord of the Manor to act on his behalf. In the mid-15th century the High Bailiff’s main functions were to collect the rents and other payments due to the lord, to conduct parliamentary elections and probably to convene the Court. To carry out these and other responsibilities the High Bailiff would appoint officers of the court with specific roles.
In the mid-18th century the Court appointed the bailiff, two aldermen, two constables, two ale tasters, two water bailiffs and two inspectors of meat. It also appointed a crier, who was possibly responsible for convening it and for the swearing in of the jurors and officers. By 1799 the yearly appointment of aldermen and of one of the water bailiffs had ceased and the appointment of two leather sealers and a scavenger had begun. Later a hayward was appointed. One constable acted for that part of the borough in St Mary’s parish, the other for that part of the borough in St Sampson’s, and the same division of labour apparently governed the activities of the other officers elected in pairs. The number and type of officers has changed over the years according to need.
Today the Court comprises the High Bailiff, whose appointment is chosen by the members of the Court and ratified by the Lord of the Manor; 13 officers with varying roles (including one ex-officio officer) and 12 jurors. Officers and jurors are appointed by the Court as and when vacancies occur. Members, although unelected, are chosen by the Court based on their long-standing voluntary service to the Cricklade community. Appointments to the Court are for life or until the member resigns or is unable to carry out their duties due to absence, becoming physically or mentally incapable of acting as an officer of the Court, or are disqualified from acting as an officer of the Court by virtue of sections 178-180 of the Charities Act 2011.
“Steward of Normead” is an honorary title given by the Court to retiring members in recognition of outstanding contribution to the work of the Court. Normead is an old name for North Meadow, which over the years has been variously named as Narmead (Inclosure Act of 1814) and/or Northmead.
The Court meets several times a year and every other year it holds a Public Court, which is open to members of the public to attend to watch proceedings and hear about the activities of the officers and the appointment of new Freemen of Cricklade, if any.
The Court has, over the years, adopted different sets of rules depending on the legal framework that it operated within. Today, the Court operates within the terms of its Constitution, dated 4th September 2018.