21. RETURN FROM THE DOMESDAY INQUEST (1086)

Here is written down the inquisition of the lands [of Cambridgeshire] as made by the king's barons: [1] namely, by the oath of the sheriff of the shire; of all the barons, their Frenchmen, and the whole hundred [court]; of the priest, the reeve, and six villeins of each vill. [2] Then [is set down] how the manor is called, who held it in the time of King Edward, who holds it now, how many hides there are, how many ploughs in demesne, how many ploughs of the men, how many men, how many villeins, how many cotters, how many serfs, how many freemen, how many sokemen, how much woods, how much meadow, how many pastures, how many mills, how many fishponds, how much has been added or taken away, how much it was worth altogether and how much now, and how much each freeman or sokeman had or has there. All this [information is given] three times over: namely, in the time of King Edward, when King William gave it out, and how it is now — and whether more can be had [from it] than is being had.

These men swore....[3]

(Latin) Ibid., pp. 97 f.


[1] See Round, Feudal England, pp. 3 f., 118 f. On this fundamental criticism all subsequent study of Domesday has been based.

[2] Cf. no. 26, art. 7.

[3] Here follows a long list of names, arranged hundred by hundred. These groups were the juries that made the original returns. Domesday Book is a compilation made by condensing such material and rearranging it, so that the manors are enumerated as land of the king or land of a particular baron.