Shropshire History

Shropshire

Domesday Book

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The Domesday Book is a manuscript that records a survey of much of England and Wales completed in 1086 and naming a total of 13,418 places. The survey was executed for William the Conqueror.

 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that

… the king had a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then he sent his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out how many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire. Also he commissioned them to record in writing, how much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, and his abbots, and his earls, what, or how much, each man had, who was an occupier of land in England, either in land or in stock, and how much money it were worth. So very narrowly, indeed, did he commission them to trace it out, that there was not one single hide, nor a yard of land, not even an ox, nor a cow, nor a swine was there left, that was not set down in his writ. And all the recorded particulars were afterwards brought to him.”

 

One of the main purposes of the survey was to determine who held what and what taxes had been liable under Edward the Confessor. The judgement of the Domesday assessors was final and whatever the book said about who held the material wealth or what it was worth was the law and there was no appeal. It was written in Latin, although there were some vernacular words inserted for native terms with no Latin equivalent, and the text was highly abbreviated. The book became known by the English as "Domesday", ie the Day of Judgement.

 

Most shires were visited by a group of royal officers who held a public inquiry attended by representatives of every township as well as of the local lords. The unit of inquiry was the Hundred (a subdivision of the county) and the return for each Hundred was sworn to by twelve local jurors, half of them English and half of them Normans. The survey recorded the names of the new holders of lands and the assessments on which their tax was to be paid. It also estimated the annual value of all the land in the country at the time of Edward the Confessor's death and at the time of the survey.

 

The manuscript is held at the National Archives in Kew and is really two independent works. One is called “Little Domesday” and covers Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. The other is called “Great Domesday” and covers much of the remainder of England and parts of Wales. It excludes Cumberland and Westmorland because they were not conquered until some time after the survey.  It also excludes Durham because the Bishop of Durham had the exclusive right to tax the county. It excludes London, Winchester and some other towns due to their size and complexity. Despite its name, “Little Domesday” was larger, as it is far more detailed and includes numbers of livestock. It was probably found impossible to complete the work on the same scale for “Great Domesday”.

 

Discover Domesday

The Domesday Book

 

 

 

The Domesday Book lists 495 places in Shropshire. Click on the links below for details of :-

Alphabetical List of Manors and Lords

Breakdown of Landholders, Tenants in Chief and Lords of the Manor

Full Online Details

 

For illustrative purposes, two of the entries are analysed below.

 

Caynham

 

  

 

 

 

Hundred

Overs

 

Administrative district.

Total population

32 households

This is only the heads of families so the total number of villagers is probably around 150.

 

Total tax assessed

8 geld units

Basis of tax bill = 960 acres.

 

Value to Lord 1066

£8.0.0d

Total the old Lord used to receive in rent.

 

Value to Lord 1086

£3.9.0d

Total the new Lord receives in rent now.

 

Households

14 villagers, 9 smallholders, 9 slaves

Households in 1086.

Villager - peasant owning land.

Smallholder – peasant owning land but less than a villager.

Slave - man or woman who owes personal service to another and is unable to move home, work, change allegiance, buy or sell without permission.

 

Plough Land

19 plough lands, 4 lord's plough teams, 5 men's plough teams

Amount of ploughing land and the number of teams working on it. Each team has 8 oxen.

 

Other Resources

4 lord's lands, woodland 200 pigs, 1 mill, 1 salt house

4 furlongs of woodland belonging to the lord. 200 pigs foraging in the woodland (tax on woodland is paid in pigs). The mill will be a water mill on the Ledwyche Brook for grinding corn. The salt house shows that there must have been a brine well for making salt by boiling the water in large pans.

 

Lord 1066

Earl Morcar

Old Saxon lord of the manor.

 

Lord 1086

Ralph de Mortimer

Norman or Anglo-Saxon noble or religious establishment leasing a manor from the Tenant-in-Chief in return for military service or a rent. Where the Tenant in Chief is also the Lord of the manor, it is known as demesne land.

 

Tenant-in-Chief 1086

Ralph de Mortimer

 

Person leasing several manors from the principal landholder in return for military service. Often this could be the same person.

 

Principal Landholder

 

Ralph de Mortimer

Person given land by the King in return for military service.

 

Meadowley

 

 

 

 

Hundred

Alnodestreu

Administrative district.

 

Total population

6

This is only the heads of families so the total number is probably around 30.

 

Total tax assessed

0.5

Basis of tax bill = 2,460 acres.

 

Value to Lord in 1066

£1.5.0d

Total the Lord used to receive in rent

 

Value to Lord in 1086

£0.6.0d

Total the Lord receives in rent now

 

Households

2 smallholders, 3 slaves, 1 rider

Households in 1086.

Smallholder – peasant owning land but less than a villager.

Slave - man or woman who owes personal service to another and is unable to move home, work, change allegiance, buy or sell without permission.

Rider – freeman on horseback acting as escort or messenger.

 

Plough Land

6 plough lands, 1 lord's plough team, ½ men's plough team.

 

Amount of ploughing land and the number of teams working on it. Each team has 8 oxen

 

Other Resources

None

 

 

Lord 1066

Augustine of Strettington

Old Saxon lord of the manor.

 

 

Lord 1086

Richard de Beaumais

Norman or Anglo-Saxon noble or religious establishment leasing a manor from the tenant-in-chief in return for military service or a rent.

 

Tenant-in-Chief 1086

Helgot de Holdgate

Lord holding it directly from the crown and owing the King military service.

 

Principal Landholder

 

Earl Roger de Montgomery

Person given land by the King in return for military service.