22. EXCERPTS FROM DOMESDAY BOOK

(A) Herefordshire

In the city of Hereford, in the time of King Edward, there were 103 men dwelling together inside and outside the wall, and they had the customs hereinunder noted.[1] If any one of them wished to leave the city, he could, with the consent of the reeve, sell his house to another man who was willing to perform the service owed from it, and the reeve got the third penny from this sale. But if any one, because of his poverty, could not perform the service, he gave up his house without payment to the reeve, who saw to it that the house did not remain vacant and that the king did not lose the service. Every entire messuage (integra masura) inside the wall rendered 7d., and [also] 4s. for the hire of horses; and [the holder] reaped for three days at Marden[2] and spent one day gathering hay wherever the sheriff wished. Whoever had a horse went thrice a year with the sheriff to the pleas and the hundred [court] at Wormelow.[3] When the king engaged in a hunting expedition, one man customarily went from each house to serve as a beater (ad stabilationem) in the wood. Other men, who did not have entire messuages, found guards for the [royal] hall when the king was in the city. On the death of a burgess who served with a horse, the king had his horse and arms.[4 ]From him who had no horse, when he died, the king had either 10s. or his land, together with the houses [on it]. If any one, overtaken by death, had not divided what he possessed, the king had all his chattels (pecunia). These customs were had alike by those living in the city and by those dwelling outside the wall, except that an entire messuage outside the wall rendered only 3d. The other customs were common [to both groups].

Any man's wife who brewed inside or outside the city gave 10d. according to custom. There were six smiths in the city, each of whom gave 1d. for his forge. Each of them made 120 shoes (ferra) from the king's iron, and to each of them 3d. was customarily paid on that account, and these smiths were quit of all other custom. Seven moneyers were there; one of them was the bishop's moneyer. When the coinage was changed, each of them gave 18s. to obtain the dies, and from the day on which they returned each of them gave the king 20s. for one month;[5] and in the same way the bishop had 20s. from his moneyer. When the king came to the city, the moneyers made for him as many pennies as he wished — that is to say, of the king's silver. And these seven had their sac and soc. When any moneyer of the king died, the king had 20s. as relief.[6] But if he died without having divided his cash (censimi), the king had all of it. If the sheriff went into Wales with an army, these men [of Hereford] went with him. But if any one was summoned to go and did not do so, he paid 40s. fine to the king.

In this city Earl Harold[7] had 27 burgesses enjoying the same customs as the other burgesses. From this city the reeve rendered 12 to King Edward and 6 to Earl Harold, and he had in his farm all the aforesaid customs.[8] The king, however, had in his demesne three forfeitures: namely, breach of his peace, house-breaking, and assault by ambush. Whoever committed one of these [offenses] paid the king 100s. fine, whosesoever man he was.[9] Now the king has the city of Hereford in demesne,[10] and the English burgesses who dwell there have their previous customs. The French burgesses, however, are quit, through [payment of] 12d., of all forfeitures except the three aforesaid.[11] This city renders to the king 60 by tale in assayed money.[12] Between the city and the eighteen manors that render their farms in Hereford 355. 18s. are accounted for, besides the pleas of the hundred and county [courts].[13]

In Archenfield the king has three churches. The priests of these churches undertake the king's embassies into Wales, and each of them sings for the king two masses every week. When any one of them dies, the king customarily has 20s. from him. If any Welshman steals a man or a woman, a horse, an ox, or a cow, on being convicted, he first returns what has been stolen and [then] pays 20s. as a fine. For theft of a sheep, however, or of a bundle of sheaves, he pays 2s. fine. If any one kills a man of the king or commits house-breaking, he pays the king 20s. compensation for the man and 100s. as fine. If he kills any thegn's man, he gives 10s. to the lord of the slain man. But if a Welshman kills a Welshman, the relatives of the slain man come together and plunder the slayer and his kin and burn their houses until, toward noon on the following day, the body of the slain man is buried. Of this plunder the king has the third part, but they enjoy all the rest of it in peace. He, however, who burns a house in another fashion, on being accused of doing so, defends himself by [the oaths of] forty men. But if he cannot [clear himself], he has to pay 20s. fine to the king. If any one conceals a sester of honey out of a customary payment, and is convicted of it, he renders five sesters for one, should he hold enough land to warrant the payment. If the sheriff calls them to the shire court, six or seven of the better men among them go with him [as escort]. He who is summoned [to the court] and does not go gives the king 2s. or an ox; and whoever stays away from the hundred [court] pays the same amount. He who is commanded by the sheriff to go with him into Wales, and does not do so, pays a similar fine. But if the sheriff does not go, none of them has to go. When the army advances against the enemy, they customarily form the advance guard, and on return [they form] the rear guard. These were the customs of the Welshmen in Archenfield during the time of King Edward.

Here are set down those holding lands in Herefordshire and in Archenfield and in Wales....[14]

The land of the king.... The king holds Leominster.[15] Queen Edith held it.... In this manor ... there were 80 hides, and in demesne 30 ploughs.[16] In it were 8 reeves, 8 beadles, 8 ridingmen, 238 villeins, 75 bordars, and 82 serfs and bondwomen.[17] These together had 230 ploughs. The villeins ploughed 140 acres of the lord's land and sowed it with their own seed grain, and by custom they paid 11. 52d. The ridingmen paid 14s. 4d. and 3 sesters of honey; and there were eight mills [with an income] of 73s. and 30 sticks of eels.[18] The wood rendered 24s. besides pannage.[19] Now in this manor the king has in demesne 60 hides and 29 ploughs; and 6 priests, 6 ridingmen, 7 reeves, 7 beadles, 224 villeins, 81 bordars, and 25 serfs and bondwomen. Among them all they have 201 ploughs. They plough and sow with their own grain 125 acres, and by custom they pay 7. 14s. 8d.; also 17s. [worth] of fish, 8s. of salt, and 65s. of honey. In it are eight mills [with an income] of 108s. and 100 sticks of eels less 10. A wood 6 leagues[20] long and 3 leagues wide renders 22s. Of these shillings 5 are paid for buying wood at Droitwich, and thence are obtained 30 mitts of salt.[21] Each villein possessing ten pigs gives one pig for pannage. From woodland brought under cultivation come 17s. 4d. An eyrie of hawks is there.... Altogether this revenue, except the eels, is computed at 23. 2s. This manor is at farm for 60 in addition to the maintenance of the nuns. The county[22] says that, if it were freed [of that obligation], this manor would be worth six score, that is to say, 120....

(Latin) Domesday Book, I, 179-83b.

(B) Cheshire

Earl Hugh[23] holds Rhuddlan of the king. There in the time of King Edward lay Englefield, and it was entirely waste. Earl Edwin held it [in the time of King Edward]. It was likewise waste when Earl Hugh received it. Now he has in demesne half the castle that is called Rhuddlan, and it is the administrative centre (caput) of this land. There he has eight burgesses and half of the church, half of the mint, half of the mining of iron wherever it may be found in this manor, half of the water of Clwyd in both mills and fisheries that may be conducted there — that is to say, in the part of the river that belongs to the earl's fief — half of the forests that do not belong to any vill of this manor, half of the toll, and half of the vill called Bryn. There is land for three ploughs and they are in demesne, together with seven serfs.... Robert of Rhuddlan holds of Earl Hugh half of the same castle and borough, in which Robert himself has ten burgesses....

In this manor of Rhuddlan there was recently built a castle, likewise called Rhuddlan. A new borough is there, and in it [are] eighteen burgesses [divided] between the earl and Robert, as mentioned above. To these burgesses they granted the laws and customs that are [enjoyed] in Hereford and in Breteuil: namely, that during an entire year they shall give for any misdeed no more than 12d., except for homicide, theft, and premeditated house-breaking.[24] In the year of this description[25] the toll of this borough was placed at farm for 3s. The income of Earl Hugh from Rhuddlan and Englefield is valued at 6. 10s.; Robert's share at 17.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 269.

(C) Berkshire[26]

When geld was given in the time of King Edward, commonly throughout all Berkshire the hide gave 3d. before Christmas and the same amount at Pentecost. If the king sent an army anywhere, only one soldier went from five hides, and 4s. were given him from each hide as food and pay for two months. This money, indeed, was not sent to the king, but was given to the soldiers. If any one was summoned for an expedition and did not go, he forfeited all his land to the king. But if any one, for the sake of remaining [at home], promised to send another in his place, and yet he remained who was to have been sent, his lord was quit through [payment of] 50s. On the death of a king's household thegn or cniht,[27] all his arms, as well as one horse with a saddle and one without, were sent to the king as relief. But if he possessed dogs or hawks, they were given to the king as a present, if the latter was willing to accept them. If any one slew a man enjoying the king's peace, he forfeited to the king both his body and all his substance. He who broke into a city[28] by night paid 100s. fine to the king, not to the sheriff.[29] He who was summoned as a beater for hunting, and did not go, paid the king 50s. fine.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 56b.

(D) Worcestershire

In this county, if any one knowingly breaks the peace which the king has given by his own hand, he is outlawed.[30] If any one knowingly breaks the king's peace given by the sheriff, he pays 100s, fine. He who commits assault by ambush pays 100s. fine. He who commits rape can offer no atonement save judgment upon his body. These forfeitures the king has in the said county except on the land of St. Peter of Westminster, to which King Edward gave whatever [rights] he had there[31] — so the county says. When the king advances against the enemy, any one who is summoned and who remains behind, if he is so free a man that he has his sac and soc and can go with his land whither he pleases,[32] is in the king's mercy[33] for all his land. If, however, the freeman of some other lord remains away from the host, and if his lord takes another man in his place, he has to pay 40s. to his lord who received the summons. If, however, no one goes for him at all, he shall indeed give to his lord the 40s., but the lord has to pay the same amount to the king.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 172.

(E) Nottinghamshire

... In Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire breach of the king's peace, given under [his own] hand or seal, is atoned for by [a fine of] 18 hundreds, each hundred [being] 8.[34] Of this fine the king has two parts, the earl the third; that is to say, 12 hundreds go to the king and 6 to the earl. If any one, on conviction of anything, is exiled according to law, no one except the king can restore peace to him. A thegn having more than six manors pays no relief for his land except to the king, [namely,] 3m. of silver — wherever he may live, in borough or out of borough. If a thegn having sac and soc forfeits his land, half of his land and his chattels is shared between the king and the earl: his lawful wife, together with his legitimate heirs if there are any, has the other half.

(Latin) Ibid., I, 280.b


[1] On the interpretation of the following entries, see especially Round, in Victoria History of Herefordshire, I, 263 f.

[2] A nearby royal manor.

[3] This was south of Hereford, toward the wild region of Archenfield. On such a trip the sheriff needed an armed escort.

[4] The heriot of the ordinary thegn in Canute, II, 71 (above, p. 24). Cf. the moneyers of Hereford, the Welshmen of Archenfield, and the thegns of Nottinghamshire in the following passages.

[5] Presumably a pound a month, for relatively large sums were reported from mints elsewhere.

[6] The Anglo-Saxon heriot; see n. 4 on the previous page.

[7] The Normans refused to recognize Harold's title to the throne.

[8] The borough, including the revenues described above, was farmed by the portreeve for 18 a year, two-thirds to the king and one-third to the earl.

[9] The list of crown pleas varied from region to region; cf. the customs of Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire below, and Canute, II, 12 (above, p. 22).

[10] Earlier there had been three great border earls who enjoyed all regalian rights within their respective territories: Roger de Montgomery, earl of Shrewsbury; Hugh d'Avranches, earl of Chester; and William Fitz-Osbern, earl of Hereford. Before 1086, however, the third of these earldoms had been forfeited as the consequence of a rebellion.

[11] Cf. the entry for Rhuddlan, below.

[12] See below, p. 49, no. 25, n. 1.

[13] These manors had earlier belonged to Earl William, and so had been brought into a financial organization centering in Hereford.

[14] According to the regular plan, the king heads the list of landholders and is followed by his barons, first the ecclesiastics and after them the laymen. The lands held by each person in the list are then described in turn, manor by manor.

[15] On this "gigantic manor" see Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, p. 112.

[16] By caruca is meant, not merely the plough proper, but also the team of eight oxen. The hide in Domesday is a unit of assessment for geld and other royal services. It was divided into 4 virgates or yardlands, 8 bovates, and 120 acres.

[17] The beadle appears in Domesday as the subordinate of a manorial reeve. The radcniht or ridingman seems to have been much the same as a geneat; see above, p. 8, n. 8. The villani of Domesday, being distinguished from servi, were legally free; for it was only later that serfdom and villeinage came to be arbitrarily identified. According to Domesday, the normal villein holding was thirty acres of arable. The bordar or cotter, on the other hand, held only a hut and a garden plot. See especially Maitland, Domesday Book and Beyond, pp. 26 f.; Vinogradoff, Villeinage in England.

[18] About two dozen eels were counted as a stick. Most of them, obviously, were taken from mill-ponds.

[19] Swine were commonly allowed to run wild in woodland. Rent paid for the privilege was called pannage; see immediately below.

[20] The Domesday league is a mile and a half, but these measurements are only rough approximations.

[21] Salt-wiches are a prominent feature of this region; see Tait, The Domesday Survey of Cheshire, pp. 39 f. The wood bought at Droitwich was for the furnaces used in connection with salt-pans. The mitt included two ambers of four bushels each.

[22] I.e., the jury that spoke for it.

[23] See above, p. 42, n. 10; and for illuminating comment on the whole entry, the introduction to Tail's work just cited.

[24] On the significance of these customs, see Mary Bateson, "The Laws of Breteuil," in the English Historical Review, vols. XV, XVI; C. Stephenson. Borough and Town, pp. 88 f., 120 f.

[25] The year of the Domesday inquest, 1086.

[26] Round (in Domesday Studies, pp. 77 f.) was the first to explain the significance of the Berkshire custom. For further comment on this and the following entries, see the appropriate volumes of the Victoria County History.

[27] See above, p. 41, n. 4. The cniht was a sort of lesser thegn; see Gross. Gild Merchant, I, 183 f.

[28] Cf. Ine, 45 (above, p. 9); and see above, p. 37, n. 5.

[29] The meaning of this provision and the similar ones below is probably that small fines were included in the sheriff's farm, while more extraordinary ones were not.

[30] Although the present tense is used, the customs described were those of the Anglo-Saxon period.

[31] Cf. no. 15G, above.

[32] That is to say, can commend himself, with his land, to a lord of his own choosing.

[33] See below, p. 48, n. 6.

[34] A method of reckoning peculiar to certain Danish regions; see Round, Feudal England, p. 73.


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