Elsdon : Parish, Townships and Wards
The origins of Elsdon parish and its possible links with an early medieval unit of lordship have been discussed above. Hodgson was writing in the early 19th century, lists the seven townships which made up the parish of Elsdon, comprising Elsdon itself, Otterburn, Monkridge, Troughen, Woodside, Rochester and the small extra-parochial Ramshope (Hodgson 1827, 82-3). These arrangments are illustrated by the Elsdon Parish tithe map of 1840. Each of the townships maintained its poor separately, according to the terms of the 1662 Poor Law Act, which designated 'every Township or Village' in northern England as the unit for poor-rate assessment and collection (cf. Winchester 1987, 27).
Six of the townships were labelled 'wards' and formed integral parts of the parish. However, the remaining one, Ramshope, was extra-parochial, for reasons which are unclear. This was a small township consisting of only a single house and seven inhabitants in 1821 (Hodgson 1827, 154-5). Anomalies of this kind can often provide useful clues regarding the development of local settlement and communities.
Elsdon, Otterburn, Monkridge, Troughen were long established communities which had probably formed townships since the medieval period (although they were perhaps not the only settlements in the lower part of the valley which functioned as townships in that period). Woodside too fell within the zone of medieval settlement, comprising the valley of the Grasslees Burn and its tributaries.
Rochester was probably settled in the first half of the 16th century and marked the limit of permanent occupation in the Redesdale at that stage. Ramshope, by contrast, was still just listed as a shielding ground or summer pasture in the early 17th century surveys (1604 survey, 83, 104 (where it is labelled Ravenshoulme); 1618 rental, 334). It was probably settled in the mid-late 17th century.