The excellent grazing land in the village has long been used for feeding cattle, sheep and horses. Little wonder then that a well know horse dealer was established in the village in the 1600s. Al though records of the trade are limited, luckily some documentary evidence survives.
The first mayor of Stafford was Matthew Craddock. Matthew Craddock kept a record of the civic business in which he was involved. It is known as Matthew Craddock's Book of Remembrance 1614-1615. The Book belongs to the Earl of Bradford. Fortunately it has been transcribed by Ann A Kettle and is readily available in the series Collections for a History of Staffordshire, Fourth Series, Volume 16.
Even in the seventeenth century horses dealers had a reputation! A system to regulate the sales of horses and to provide the equivalent of guarantees was operated. The actions of the horse dealers had to be warranted by others.
One of the duties of the new mayor was to hold and keep the local horse fairs. Matthew Craddock's Book of Remembrance 1614-1615 records these.
Among the entries are:
Horse Fair 30 June 1615
19. Exchange William Snape of Hilderstone hath exchanged a bay trotting mare for a black trotting nag with Thomas Kinson who hath to boot 10s. vouchers William Snape his son for the first and Francis Lockett for the other toll 4d.
Horse Fair 21 September 1615
2. Exchange John Johnson of Tittensor hath exchanges a grey mare for a black horse with William Snape of Hilderstone who gives to boot 13s. 4d. vouchers Thomas Coton of Colwich for Snape and Thomas Sheafe of Tittensor for the other toll 4d.
Descendants of the Snape's lived in Hilderstone village well into the twentieth century.