Commoners

Picture of commonersMembers of the Old Corporation, the Warden and Freemen, are all commoners. They receive equal shares in profits from their land on Malmesbury Common or King’s Heath. The maximum number of commoners is 260, which is the number of allotments laid down in the enclosure Act of 1822.

Commoners had to be married men, householders and to live within the Malmesbury area. They also had to be the son or son-in-law of a commoner.

If any generation failed to take up their rights they were forfeited forever. However this rule was dropped in 1990s and in 2000 the rules were changed again to allow women equal rights. The qualifications now are to be over eighteen, to be able to prove ancestry and to live within the boundaries of Malmesbury.

King Athelstan granted the land in around 934AD. If the rules had been strictly applied since then, this means that there are in Malmesbury today nearly 260 people whose ancestry stretches back over a thousand years, who have never left Malmesbury.