Status details for Liberty

Number of units in system: 80
Geographical Level: 9 (Middle-level District)
ADL Feature Type:countries, 3rd order divisions
Is a status within:Ancient District

Full Description:

Sometimes known as a 'Soke'. Described as an "area in which special privileges in relation to the administration of justice and other local affairs have been conferred by the Royal authority", and to an extent, "exempt from the Royal prerogative and from the jurisdiction of the county justices" (Jackson, 1966, p.5). This unit was a subordinate unit to a mother parish and was dependant on a secular or ecclesiastical lord. It is defined as either an area outside the borough where freemen had certain rights of pasturing etc. or it could refer to a group of manors held by a lord with certain privileges granted to the lord by the Crown. For Local Government purposes, an Act (1850(13 &14 Vict.,c.105)) "permitted the merging of 'liberties' in the counties by which they were surrounded on the application of their justices" (Lipman, 1949, p.69). This left six such units (Ely, Havering-atte-Bower, St. Albans, Peterborough, Ripon and Haverfordwest) which were changed to civil parishes following the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1866 (29 & 30 Vict, c.113). The Liberty of St Albans merged with Hertfordshire (1874), the Liberty of Ely was absorbed into the Isle of Ely and Soke of Peterborough Counties (1888-1965), and the other units were absorbed after 1888.