An undated charter from Hamo de Massey, lord of the barony, in the reign of Edward I., constituted Altrincham a free borough, with a gild merchant, the customs of Macclesfield, the right to elect reeves and bailiffs for the common council and other privileges.
Whilst the reeves are sitting on their eggs, scattered about the swamps, he is to be seen far away flitting about in flocks, and on the ground dancing and sparring with his companions.
For administrative purposes each of the various kingdoms was divided into a number of districts under the charge of royal reeves (cyninges gerefa, praefectus, praepositus).
Later lives state that the saint was also called Crimthann (fox), and Reeves suggests that he may have had two names, the one baptismal, the other secular.
The older law of real property, of succession, of contracts, the customary tariffs of fines, were mainly regulated by folk-right; the reeves employed by the king and great men were supposed to take care of local and rural affairs according to folk-right.
The first account of the borough and its privileges is contained in an inquisition taken in 1333 after the death of Anthony, bishop of Durham, which shows that the burgesses held the town with the markets and fairs at a fee-farm rent of 40 marks yearly, and that they had two reeves who sat in court with the bishop's bailiff to hear the disputes of the townspeople.
The peasant got rid of a hateful drudgery which not only took up his time and means in an unprofitable manner, but placed him under the rough control and the arbitrary discipline of stewards or reeves and gave occasion to all sorts of fines and extortions.
Both these views were disproved by William Reeves (1815-1892), bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore.