TOWCESTER PARISHTowcester is bounded on the east by Easton Neston; on the north by Tiffield; on the north-west by Green's Norton; and by Whittlebury on the south. It contains 2,790 statute acres, and its population, in 1801, was 2,030; in 1831, 2,671 ; and, in 1841, 2,749 souls, including the hamlets of Caldecote, Handley, and Wood-Burcote, containing respectively 98, 28, and 84 inhabitants, and also 67 persons in the union workhouse. The amount of assessed property in the town and parish is £7,508. The soil varies from a strong clay to a light red loam, and the lordship is nearly equally divided between arable and pasture land. The principal proprietors are George William Richard, Earl of Pomfret, (lord of the manor), and the Master and Fellows of University College, Oxford.
ManorTowcester, or Tovecestre, was a portion of the Terra Regis, or ancient demesne in the hands of the King, both before and after the Norman conquest. At the Doomsday survey it contained 7½ hides of land, which, with a mill of the yearly rent of l3s. 4d., 12 acres of meadow, and a wood two miles in length and one in breadth, was valued in King Edward's time at £12 but was then rated at £25; and 4 hides and 4 parts of half a hide, which before the conquest was the freehold of Earl Tosti, but was then held by Sigar de Cioches. This latter estate was valued at £6, hut the record does not state the part of the hundred in which it lay. In the reign of Henry II, William Earl of Arundel, held 7 hides and 4 small virgates in Towcester, and Wybert Atteof Chirche 6 virgates of the fee of the Abbot of St. Wandragasile, in Normandy. In the reign of Henry III., William de Munchensi appears to have been possessed of the manor here, which in Henry II's time was in the hands of the Earl of Arundel, as was the prior of Bradenestoke, in Wiltshire, of the fee of the abbot of St. Wandragasile. The former convent having lands in the diocese of Rouen, exchanged them for the possessions which belonged to the latter abbey in England. In the 9th of Edward II. (1316) Aymer de Valence [spelt Audomare earlier in Whellan] was certified to be the lord of Towcester, and in three years after, he procured a licence for an annual fair to be held here, on the eve of the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin (24th March), and the two following days. The manor soon after came into the possession of the family of De Hastinqs, from which it passed to the De Greys, with whom it continued till the 23rd of Henry VII. (1508), when Sir Richard Empson, purchased it of Richard de Grey, who, after wasting his estate in gaming and dissipation, died in a tavern in Lombard-street, without issue, in the 15th of Henry VIII. (15 24). "This Sir Richard Empsom," says Bridges, "is said to have been the son of a sieve-maker, who followed that business here at Towcester, where he had his birth and education. He was promoted by the King to be Chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, and being bred to the law, was accused of having raised to himself an immense fortune by various methods of extortion, and an oppressive execution of antiquated penal statutes." Upon his attainder the manor was escheated to the King, and in the 3rd of Henry VIII (1512), it was granted to William Compton Esq., afterwards knighted. In the 5th of Edward VI. (1552), Richard Fermor, Esq., of Easton Neston, died seized of it, and from him it descended lineally to the Earl of Pomfret, the present possessor.
In 1648, King Charles II. granted to Sir William Fermor, and his heirs, a weekly market to be held on Tuesdays for cattle, and three annual fairs. The manor, which belonged to the prior of Bradenstoke, was in the hands of Sir Richard Empsom in the reign of Henry VII., and was in the possession, together with another manor which had been the Earl of Kent's, of Richard Fermor, Esq.. at the time of his decease, and are now in the possession of the Earl of Pomfret.