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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday



Ancient woodlands surrounding Woodborough from 1609



The extent of woodland in Woodborough in 1609 can be seen in Bank’s map of that year. The main area of woodland in the village was to the west of the West Field and belonged to Strelley of the Upper Hall. At the time it included Woodborough Wood, Stoup Hill Coppice, Mardales, Fox Wood and the Riddings. The latter appears to have been woodland which had been felled and would have been called a ‘waste’ at the time.


The large area of woodland and coppice covered about 530 acres. The other area was on the south side of Bank Hill reaching as far as Agram Wells on Lingwood Lane. It belonged to Mr John Wood of the Middle Hall (the present Manor). It included Sowe Wood or Sowoode and Stanley Wood, which was the coppice and was about 56 acres in extent. All woodlands were on rising ground.


It appears that these two areas of woodland, totalling about 586 acres, remained for about three centuries until the time of the Inclosure Award in 1798, although by then all of the woodland was being coppiced.


Since Inclosure most of the woodland has disappeared, due probably, to the increased use of brick for building purposes starting in the village in the early 18th century, and also for the demand for agricultural produce due to the Industrial Revolution and the population growth of Nottingham in the early 19th century. By the beginning of the 20th century, with hand framework knitting then in rapid decline, the village was mainly agricultural – farming and market gardening – and only a very small area of woodland was left. In the early 21st century probably less than ten acres of poor woodland remain within the parish boundary lying roughly between Bank Hill, Nottingham Road, Dorket Head, Georges Lane and Spindle Lane.



This map only covers the western part of Woodborough Parish, however, there are no woods or coppices indicated

in the centre or eastern part of the village or parish  The areas shaded green show the location of woodland in 1609.


Woodborough nestles in a shallow fertile valley and is surrounded on three sides by rolling wooded hills; the highest being 125 metres above sea level, the village itself is 35 metres. The largest of our local woodlands is Ploughman Wood which probably formed the southern part of the much larger Sherwood Forest and which is entirely in the Lowdham Parish.


The decline of the once huge Sherwood Forest has taken centuries and what we are left with today are scattered pockets of woodland. Some of our woodlands have been left to nature and are largely untouched, others have been managed. Following the recent scourge of Dutch Elm disease, where necessary they have been replanted,

Now that there is a much greater interest in preservation it is unlikely that these ancient woodlands will be lost or allowed to decline further. Careful management by local farmers and organisations such as the Wildlife Trusts will preserve these natural habitats for the animals, birds and fauna and flora for future generations to enjoy their beauty.

Woodlands are very much part of the English landscape for which this country is renowned throughout the world. There are three fine examples on our doorstep. See also [LINK] Woodborough a Sherwood Forest village.



Acknowledgements:-


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Miscellaneous Information concerning Sherwood Forest and Woodborough

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The 1609 Sherwood Forest map [above] confers the ownership of Woodborough Mill as it names the site of Woodborough Mill as Mr Christopher Strelley’s mill, and at that time, Christopher Strelley held the Upper Hall. After the suppression of the Prebends in the Woodborough Prebend was allowed to retain the property until when it was sold. Aluric may have been a tenant of the chancel at the Nether Hall.


The parish boundary as in 1086 did not limit the ownership of land. The Epperstone and Lambley manors both held land in Woodborough and the Woodborough thanes also held manors and lands in adjacent villages. A quotation from Thoroton says “In Wodeburgh was a certain great bovate of the King’s demesne of Arnall (Arnold) was still subject to the Arnold Manor Court until 1785”.  


Plague & epidemics deaths in Woodborough

1594 (13)

1603 (13)

1611/1612 (12/19)

1617 (23)

1662 (12)

1669/1670/1671 (11/16/12)

1681/1682 (11/14)

1696 (13)

1728 (14)


Sherwood Perambulations 1657-1659


This consisted of paragraphs of instructions to the Commission for the Surveying of Sherwood Forest. Instructions were in considerable detail. The persons who were to carry out the Perambulation were all named.

George Gill

Edward Cludd

John Robinson

Adam Eyer

James Robinson Esq.

Richard Croxall

William Marr

William Moulton. Gent


Tempest destroys Sherwood Forest February 1715.


For as much I, Evelin, Marquis of Dorchester, Chief Justice and Justice in Eyre of all his Majesties [George I] forests etc., Trent North, have received information that by a late dreadful tempest of wind which happened at the beginning of February last, many hundreds of his Majesty’s trees in the said Forest of Sherwood are blown down and many others there much dampenfield (damaged). I doe hereby ordain and direct that the verderers of the said forest doe immediately view, number and value such trees as are so blown down, and cause an account thereof to be fairly written and transmitted to me under their hand, with a like account of the trees to be dampenfield that by virtue of the damage so done they ought to be taken down. To the end of January lay a full account before his Majesty or the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty’s Treasury that due care may be taken thereof.

Dorchester 1st April


Lacocks


In the following petitions and grants to encoppice connected with the Lacock family these are the family relationships:-

First petition by Philip Lacock Stoop [Stoup] Hill Coppice 1660. He was son of George Lacock who bought the Hall. This Philip probably used the timber from this coppice to build the new Upper Hall after he had demolished the previous one. He had five sons in the following order, George, Charles, Philip, Henry and Francis. His eldest son George pre-deceased him, as did Henry and possibly Francis. On Philip’s death April 1668, his second son Charles was the heir and it was this Charles who made the second petition by Charles Lacock to encoppice twelve acres of Mardales in 1672. This Charles in February 1683-4 and he was succeeded by Philip’s third son, another Philip, who made the third petition by Philip Lacock to encoppice a parcel of Stoup Hill in 1708. This Philip died in 1721, aged 78.


Grant to Philip Lacock to encoppice part of the woodland at Stoup Hill


On 11th February 1660 Philip Lacock petitioned to enclose 12 acres measure of Stoop Hill. The Verderers issued a certificate for this, after an inspection, on 22nd February 1660. On 25th February 1660 the Duke of Newcastle issued the following:-

Mr Lacock’s grant for Stoop hills William Lord Marquis and Early of Newcastle, Lord Warden of Ye Forest of Sherwood etc., to all whom these reasons any way concern sendeth greeting. Know ye that Phillipe Lacocke of Woodborough in ye County of Nott. Esq., has petitioned me that he may have license to inclose an old decaying wood upon his owne proper soyle called Stoop hill in Thorney woods and cutt the said wood and convert it to his own proper use and to Coppice the same according to the Forest Laws.


Whereupon I referred the same to the Verderers of the said Forest of Sherwood or any two or more of them to view the place and to certify me whether his desire and request might be granted in part or in whole without any prejudice to his Majesty’s (Charles II) gain or any other persons whatsoever, and with what limitations and conditions it may be granted.


And being certified by two of the Verderers that the wood petitioned for as aforesaid may as they conceive by granted to the petitioner to be inclosed for nine years from the first inclosure without any prejudice to his Majesty’s game. In regard to it is environed with woods and will be a greate relief and shelter for his Majesty’s game during the time that the wood petitioned for remains a coppice, and that the wood doth contain about twelve acres.


Forest Measure


Wherefore I doe give licence so much as in me is, that the said Mr Lawcocke (sic) may inclose and hold inclosed as aforesaid for the said term of nine years the said Stoop hills and fell, sell and carry away and take to his own use the said wood now growing. Provided that the said Mr Lawcock (sic) before his inclosure of the said woods doe give or cause to be given good security at the next Forest Court, for the perseveration of the spring during the term aforesaid from ruine or hurt of the deere or any manner of cattle of what sort so ever, and to leave stendall (note 1) and weaners (note 2) in my said wood according to the laws and to doe and perform all other things according to the laws and assize of the forest.

Given under my hand and seal the 25th day of February 1660.

Signed: William Newcastle

Note 1 - Stendall – young saplings or fence posts that have taken.

Note 2 - Weaners – young saplings which if left will grow into mature timber.

This Philip Lacock was the one who pulled down and rebuilt Woodborough Hall and died in 1668.


Granting of a petition by the Duke of Newcastle to Charles Lacock of Woodborough to encoppice twelve acres of Mardales 30th December 1672.


Charles Lacock petitioned the Justice in Eyre to encoppice twelve acres of Mardales in the autumn of 1672. The Duke of Newcastle, as Chief Justice in Eyre, instructed the Verderers, Regarders and Keepers of the area to view, consider and if thought reasonable, issue a certificate to encoppice.


The Keeper’s name Robert…….. is unknown to me.


The Verderers were Mountague Wood, Thomas Sherbrooke and Joseph Trueman.


The Regarders were Roger Jac and Oliver Bagnor and the certificate was granted 26th November 1672.


To all to whom these presents shall concern I, William Duke, Marquis and Earl of Newcastle and Earl of Ogle, Chief Justice in Eyre of all his Majesty’s Forests, Chases and Warrens Trent North send greeting.


Forasmuch Charles Lacock of Woodborough in the County of Nottingham Gent, hath petitioned me that he may Cutt an old decaying wood being his own proper soyle within my forest of Sherwood called Mardales containing by estimation about twelve acres Forest Measure or thereabout, and convert some of the sum to his own proper use according to the laws and Assizes of the Forest. Whereupon I referred the same to the Verderers and Regarders of the said Forest or any two or more of each of them and to the Keeper within whose Walke the said Mardales lyes to take a view of the said wood called Mardales and to consider whether the desire of the petitioner therein may be granted without any prejudice to his Majesty’s Forest or Game or any other person or persons whatsoever.


And having received a certificate from three Verderers, two Regarders and the Keeper, that the desire of Charles Lacock may be granted without any prejudice to his Majesty’s Forest or Game or any other person or persons whatsoever, standards being left and ye spring fenced and preserved for nine years. Therefore, know men by these present that I the said Chief Justice in Eyre, do hereby give Licence and Authority unto the said Charles Lacock and his Assigns to Cutt and enclose the said wood called Mardales and to convert the said wood to his own proper use. Provided always that the said Charles Lacock and his Assigns do cut, enclose and preserve the same wood called Mardales according to the Laws and Assizes of the Forest.;


Given under my Hand and Seale, the 30th Day of December 1672 Anno Domino.


Sealed and signed William Newcastle.


Forest Attachment Court Book 3rd January 1603 – 30th July 1716


On 13th December 1708, Philip Lacock of Woodborough to the Duke of Devonshire, Justice in Eyre of all Her Majesty’s [Queen Anne] forests, chases and parks Trent North.

Petition to cut down the wood and underwood and coppice the same according to the Forest Laws, one parcel of wood or woodland ground called Stoop Hill.


The Verderers appointed Monday 17th January 1709 to view the site of the proposed felling. A certificate was granted to Philip Lacock, and he had to give a bond that he would not allow in to the enclosed woodland any stock (except for deer) for the first three years and for the next six years only the number of stock as laid down by the Forest Laws – he could not cut down holly or crab apples.

Signed: 17th January 1708/9.

[The Verderers mentioned that the laws on stock had not always been kept and the coppices had become wastes.


Extract 2


In 1709 Mountague Wood wished to enclose lopp and cutt down the wood called Sawoods (Southwood) in the Parish of Woodborough within the forest, and to coppice and keep the same enclosed according to Forest Law.

Draft claim of Philip Lacock Esq, by his Attorney Ralph Edge – Strelley’s Manor or Upper Hall Manor in Woodborough with eight messuages, six cottages, one water mill, 240 acres arable, 76 acres meadow, 194 acres pasture, 500 acres woodland called Stoophill, Wattha, Mardales, Albumhay and Burnhay, alias Burnhaw and one close assart land called Hunowe (2 acres) free from wastes, assarts, purprestures and regard to the Foresters.

Having his own woodward with estovers, common of pasture pannage.

C 1675.


The following definitions were compiled by the National Record Office.


Pannage:-The feeding of swine (or other beasts) in a forest or wood – pasturage for swine.

The right or privilege of pasturing swine in a forest.The payment made to the owner of a woodland for the right – the profit thus accruing.


Purlieu:-A piece or tract of land in the fringes or border of a forest; originally one that, after having been included within the bounds of the forest, was disafforested by a new perambulation but still remained in some respects, especially as to the hunting or killing of game, subject to provisions of the Forest Laws.


Purprestures:-An illegal enclosure or encroachment upon the land or property of another, or of the public, as by an enclosure or building on royal manorial, or common lands, or in the royal forest, an encroachment on a highway, public waterway etc.,

A payment for permission of such.


Justices in Eyre:-Itinerant judges who rode the circuit to hold courts in the different counties.


Eyre of the Forest:-A circuit court held periodically by the Justices of the Forest.


Mete:-To mark the boundary of.

To estimate the greatness or value of – to appraise.


Verjuice:-The juice of crab-apples pressed out and used as vinegar. Formerly much used in cooking as a condiment or for medicinal purposes.


Swarimote (Swainmote):-A forest court which met three times a year to manage the Crown’s woodland. A fortnight before Michaelmas it would regulate the pasturing of pigs; about St Martin’s Day it would meet to collect dues for this. It also met just before Midsummer (June 24) when the forest was closed, and the beasts (deer) fawned. Alternatively, it was called Swainmote.


Swainmote:-The forest assembly held three times a year in accordance with the Forest Charter of 1217, probably originally to enable the forest’s officers to superintend the de-pasturing of pigs in the King’s woods in the autumn and the clearance of the forest of cattle and sheep while the deer were fawning in the summer, later applied vaguely or generically to the courts of attachment, inquisitions etc. Marwood (1615) defines a ‘swain’ as a freeholder within the forest.


Ridding:-A green lane through a wood, or a cleared piece of ground.


Attachment Court (Forest Law) 1768 Blackstone:-The Courts of Attachment or wood mote………is to be held before the Verderers of the forest……and is instituted to inquire into all offenders against vert and venison.

The Lower Court is called ‘The Attachment’, the middle one the ‘Swainmote’, the highest ‘The Justice in Eyre’s Seat’. The Royal Forest of England 1905 J.C. Cox.


Definitions of Forest:-Marwood’s definition 1598 ‘a certain territorie of woody grounds and fruitful pastures, privileged for wild beasts and foules of forest, chase and warren to rest and abide in, in the safe protection of the King, for his princely delight and pleasure’. Or perhaps a more accurate description is ‘a portion of territory consisting of extensive waste lands, and including a certain amount of both woodland and pasture and pasture, circumscribed by defined metes and bounds, within which the right of hunting was reserved exclusively to the King, and which was subject to a special code of laws administered by local as well as central ministers.


Definition of a chase - A chase was like a forest, unenclosed and only defined by metes and bounds, but could be held by a subject. Offences committed therein were, as a rule, punishable by the Common Law and not by Forest jurisdiction.


Afforestation and Disafforestation:-The Norman kings afforested great areas and certain disafforestation were made even by Henry II but in 1215 John [King] at Magna Charta had to agree to the disafforestation of great tracts which had been made forest during his own reign.


Forest Industries:–The most important industry worked in the forest was iron smelting, particularly as the forges consumed so large an amount of wood and charcoal. Such forges were met with in (amongst others) Sherwood Forest. The symbol of an itinerant forge owner was a pair of bellows and this symbol is to be found on two early incised slabs in Papplewick [Nottinghamshire] Church. Also in some forests stone quarrying for building, millstones and tombstones, and the burning of lime and the digging of marl was allowed as long as it did not disturb the deer.


The Forest Courts:–The chief forest Court of Eyre was supposed to be held every 7 years. The Sheriffs had to order the following to attend:

1. All dignitaries and other free tenants who had lands or tenements within the metes of the forest.

2. Reeve and four men from every township within the metes.

3. All foresters and verderers, both those then in office and those (or their heirs) who had office since the last pleas of the forest.

4. All those persons who had been attached since the last pleas.

5. All the regarders.

6. All the agisters.


Regarders:–The duty of the twelve or more knights who were called the Regarders was to draw up answers to a long set of interrogatories termed the Chapter, which covered every possible particular as to the condition of the forest demesnes. But the most important function the Regarders discharged was as to the assarts or enclosures of waste with or without warrant and to purprestures or encroachments made by the building of houses or the like.


The pleas of vert and venison:–The use of juries – their duty seems to have been confined to attesting the truth of any statements affecting their districts.


Venison pleas:–the chief forester was responsible for all venison delivered by warrant (or otherwise).


Vert pleas:–charges connected with damage to timber or underwood, its felling, carrying off, unlawful sale, misappropriation etc. If a man was found trespassing on the vert (cutting greenwood or saplings or gathering dry wood from oaks, hazels, etc.) he could be amerced (fined) unless the damage done was valued at more than 4d (four pence), in which case the delinquent was ‘attached’ to answer for his office at the next Eyre. The legal term ‘attachment’ had a three-fold operation in the Forest as at Common Law; a man might be ‘attached’ by:-

1. His goods and chattels.

2. By pledges and mainprize.

3. By his body.

If the foresters found a man trespassing on the vert they might attach him by his body or cause him to find 2 pledges (or bail) to appear at the next Attachment or 40 day court.


Forest Officers:-The chief local authority over a forest was the Keeper or Warden, also known as a Steward, Bailiff and Chief or Master Forester.


The Keeper:–the Keeper had considerable perquisites and privileges and was generally allowed to distribute a certain amount of venison to the county gentlemen of the district without a direct warrant.


Verderers and their Duties:-The Verderers were forest officers elected by the freeholders in the county court. They had no salary or perks. It was the Verderers duty to view, receive and enrol all manner of ‘attachments’ for vert or venison trespass and to attend all forest courts. His symbol was an axe. If they found any man in the forest with bows and arrows, snares of dogs, they might arrest or imprison him (each forest had its own prison for forest offences), as if they had actually seen him hurt or kill the deer, they had to take special care of the deer during the ‘fence’ or close month, i.e. the fortnight before and after midsummer day, when the fawns were usually dropped; and to provide them with deer browse or tree clippings in the winter.


Foresters:–Foresters had certain rights of pasturage and pannage, and usually one or two deer and one or two trees during the year.


Agisters:–Agisters were the officers who were chiefly concerned with the collection of money for the agistment or feeding of cattle in the demesne woods or lands of the forest. Beasts of the plough (for the most part oxen) were generally allowed such agistment under certain restrictions and pigs from 11th September to 11th November.


Attachment additional information:–The usual proceeding was that if the foresters found a man trespassing on the vert they might attach him by his body and cause him to find two pledges (or bail) to appear at the next Attachment Court.


On his appearance at that court he was mainprized (i.e. set at liberty under bail) until the next Eyre of the justices. If offending for a second time four pledges were necessary, if a third time eight pledges and for a fourth time imprisonment until the Eyre if, however, a man was taken killing the deer and carrying them away, or with blood on his hands and clothes, he could be ‘attached’ at once by his body and imprisoned until delivered on bail by the King or the justice of the particular forest to appear at the next Eyre.


Deer found killed:–If any beast of the forest was found dead or wounded an inquest was to be held by the neighbouring townships of the forest. The finder of the deer was to obtain pledges for his subsequent appearance, the flesh was to be sent to the nearest lazar house or given to the local sick or poor if there was not a lazar house within a reasonable distance, the head and skin were to be given to the freemen of the township where it was found and the arrow or other weapon to the Verderer who had to keep it for production at the next Eyre.


The King’s deer access to private woodland:–Private wood in the forest had to allow free ingress and egress of the King’s deer and the owners couldn’t fell timber for any reason that might be held to do damage or cause annoyance to the deer. On 5th March 1616 there were 1263 red deer in Sherwood Forest, in 1673 the numbers were down to 337 deer in the Forest.


1609 Survey:–In a survey of 1609 the Forest is divided into three parts, north, south and middle parts.


Villages in S. Keeping:–contains (amongst others) Gunthorpe, Caythorpe, Lowdham, Arnold, Bestwood Park, Basford, Bulwell, Woodborough and Calverton.


Haie:–A Hai or Haie is a separate enclosure within a Forest or Park fenced with a rail or hedge or both. Deer could be fethered and kept in a haie.


Deer in the Forest – Thorneywood 1789:–There were no deer in the Forest except in Thorney Wood which were claimed by Lord Chesterfield ‘there were in 1789 by the report of the Solicitors of Lord Chesterfield, about 500 head of fallow deer in his part of the Forest’.


Sherwood Forest Report 1793:–From the fourteenth report of the commissioners appointed to enquire into the state and condition of the Woods, Forests and Land, revenues of the Crown and to sell or alienate Fee Farm and the other unimproveable Rents (1793) ‘the Forest of Sherwood in the County of Nottingham, is of very great extent. It is the only Forest that remains under the Superintendents of the Chief Justice in Eyre, north of Trent, or which belongs to the Crown in that part of England’.


Petition for Encoppicing 24th August 1674:–In a petition by John Overberrg of Lambley to encoppice 3 acres of Spring Bovesall in Lambley Mountague Wood (father of Rev’d. Mountague Wood) and Thomas Sherbrooke were the two Verderers.


Fines 1289 to 1318: -

6d for taking honey from an oak
6d for oak boughs
1d for a load of branches (1318)
2/- for a single oak tree

The values had been paid to Verderers – the Justices imposed additional fines of one to two shillings.


Domestic animals in the Forest:–Apart from the beasts of the Forest and Chase, or the wild animals every forest district had its quota of domestic animals, feeding regularly or occasionally within its bounds. Those were subject to the strict oversight and direction of the Agisters. In almost every case, these animals were the property of the tenants of the Forest or its purlieus.


Agistment:–All Forests were liable to have agistment and pannage suspended altogether or in parts, for a certain year or more, if the circumstances of the case seemed to need it.


Swainmotes, Swine and Pannage:–Swine were usually allowed only in forest during the season called the Time of Pannage when they fed upon the acorns and beech mast which had then fallen. The mast season lasted from 14th September to 18th November. Under the English Forest Laws of Henry II, four knights were appointed to see to the Agistment and to receive the King’s Pannage, which in well wooded forests amounted to a considerable sum.

No knight might agist his own woods in a forest before those of the King were agisted, the agistment of the Royal Woods ended 15 days before Michaelmas (September 29th). The usual agistment fee was a penny for each pig above a year old and half a pence for every pig above half a year old.

The swainmotes were constantly engaged in the late autumn, in fining those who had unagisted pigs in the forest.


Pannage fees were usually paid at a special swainmote held about Martinmas (November 11th) called the pannage or ‘tack’ court. Each tenant who had common rights ‘tacked’ or declared the number of his pigs turned into the forest. Any untacked were forfeited and the tenant was fined accordingly to the steward’s pleasure. Any freeman in the cast of swine or other animals had a right, by the Charter of the Forest, to adjist any free wood of his own, though situated in a forest, as he pleased and take his own pannage.


The Charter also granted leave to any freeman to drive his swine through royal demesne woods in order to gain his own wood or some place outside the forest. Fines for collecting and carrying off both acorns and beech mast were not uncommon in the autumn swainmotes.


At one time all cattle agisted had to be branded. The reeves of the forest parishes marked the cattle entitled to agist, 1½d each. Horses agistment limited, did more damage to the forest than cattle or sheep. Sheep in Norman times could only be pastured with a licence. The theory was that deer did not like sheep. Goats expressly excluded.


Sherwood Forest:- In 1232 Sherwood Forest measured 25 miles by 10 miles. William Peveril held it in 1154.

1231 Chief forester of fee – Robert de Everingham.

Beginning of Edwards I’s reign – Adam de Everingham.

The son of Adam – Robert de Everingham.

1284 – The son of Robert – Robert de Everingham incurred King’s displeasure and office was seized by the Crown as forfeited in 1289.

The Everingham’s abused their office.

Royal grants of oaks in 1228 or thereabouts given to priorities and religious houses for building churches etc. There were three keepings (in 1251) the first between the [rivers] Leen and Dover Beck and Bestwood hay or park was one of three parks in the first keeping, to protect this first keeping Robert de Everingham was to have one riding forest with servants, two foot foresters, two Verderers, and two agisters. English Forest and Forest Trees

Holly:- It was formerly believed that the holly sprung up in perfection and beauty beneath the footsteps of Christ, when he first trod the earth.


Below the deer park and paddocks of England (Nottinghamshire) 1892. Many parks in England were destroyed by the Roundheads.

Parkland

Owner

Acreage

Fallow Deer

Red Deer

Thoresby Park

Earl Manvers

2,000

630

24

Welbeck Park

Duke of Portland

640

360 + 130 white

130 + 14 white

Wollaton

Lord Middleton

750

105

31

White cattle upto 1835

Annesley

J P Charworth-Musters

600

200

0

Wild cattle in the following parks

Rufford

Lord Saville GCB

400

300/1

0

Rainworth

J Whitaker

22

21

0

Highfield

Alderman W O Quibell

10

10

0

Chawtry House

J F Warwick

3

10

0

Bagnall House

Thomas Hancock

1

4

0

Feudal Landlords and Tenants

Thane – one who in Anglo-Saxon times held lands of the King or other superior by military service, originally in the fuller designation – King’s thane, as a term of rank, including several grades below that of an EARLDORMAN or earl and above that of the CEARL  or ordinary freeman.

A freeman holding land by military service and ranking between ordinary freemen and nobles.

The manor or demesne or lordship was the estate of an English thegn, part of which was retained by the owner of the manor as his demesne or home farm while the remainder was distributed to substantial tenants called villeins.


Villein - one of the class of serfs in the feudal system – a peasant occupier or cultivator entirely subject to a lord.
A bondsman attached to a feudal lord or estate.
A serf free in relation to all but his lord.
Freemen who, while still retaining their own land, had bound themselves for safety’s sake both to soil and theyn and paid rent according to the custom of the manor, by helping the theyn in harvest and in spring and autumn.


Villeinage – The tenure by which a feudal villain held or occupied his land, tenure of lands by bond service rendered to the lord or squire.


Bordar– A villein of the lowest rank, who held a cottage at his lord’s pleasure, for which he rendered menial service – a cottager.

Cottar – Applied in the Domesday Book to a villein who occupied a cot or cottage with an attached piece of land (usually 5 acres) held by service of labour, with or without payment in produce or money.

Besides those there were the ‘lordless’ men, or labourers, who had their cottage and garden and the privilege of turning out their cattle or swine on the waste of the manor and worked on the home farm all through the year.


Land Measures


Carucate – plough land – a measure of land varying with the nature of the soil, etc. being as much as could be tilled with one plough (with a team of eight oxen) in one year. If the land lay in three arable common fields the carucates contained 180 acres, 60 fallow, 60 for winter corn and 60 for spring corn.


If the land lay in two fields, the carucate consisted of 160 acres, 80 for fallow and 80 for tillage. Commonly, only the land under the plough in any one year was reckoned, the fallow being thrown into common pasturage. Hence in ancient deeds the normal carucate is either 120 acres or 80 acres by the Norman number – 5 score to the hundred (144 acres or 96 acres by English number – 6 score to the hundred).


Bovate or Oxgang – as much land as one ox could plough in a year, one eighth of a carucate or ploughland, varying in amount from 10 to 18 acres according to the system of tillage, one eighth of a carucate.


Hide – a measure of land in Old English times, continued for some time after the Norman Conquest, varying in extent with the nature of the ground etc. primarily the amount considered adequate for the support of one free family with its dependents. At an early date defined as being as much land as could be tilled with one plough in a year. Enough land to support a family and its dependents was estimated to be 60 to 120 acres.


Virgate- an early English land measure, varying greatly in extent but in many cases averaging 30 acres. As a linear measure – a rod or pole about 30 acres, a measure of pasture – 4 virgates in a carucates – about 20 acres of pasture.


Leuca/Leuga – A Gaelic mile or 1500 Roman paces. The leuca contained 2560 English yards, being equivalent to 1½ English miles. 12 Quarentana made 1 leuca. The Quarentana was equal to an English furlong.


Taxes - Danegeld. The geld or Danegeld was originally a tax for which the country was assessed by Ethelred to buy off the Danes, but it was made permanent and collected annually for the purposes of the King.

Geld. The tax paid to the Crown by English landholders before the Conquest and contained under the Norman kings.


The Forest


Verderer - A judicial officer of the King’s forest, sworn to maintain and keep the assizes of the forest, and also to view, receive and enrol the attachments and presentments of all manner of trespasses of the forest, of vert and vermin.


Rights of Common – No person having lands within a forest could plough up only part of his lands which has not been ploughed up before, and to do so was considered was a grievous offence and was called an Assart.


Law – that none shall assart in the forest, without being taken before the Verderer.



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