The History of Tewkesbury

By James Bennett

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2015



THE record called Domesday [96] is the most valuable piece of antiquity possessed by any nation; it still remains fair and legible, and is deposited in the chapter-house at Westminster, where it may be consulted on paying the proper officer a fee of six shillings and eight-pence, and four-pence for every line transcribed. This record was printed under the auspices of


his late majesty, George the third, at the expense of the nation, for the use of the members of both houses of parliament and the public libraries.

In this survey, Tewkesbury appears under the title Terra Regis;[97] and the following extensive possessions are described in it as belonging to this manor.

In Tewkesbury (Teodechesberie) there were in King Edward's time fourscore and fifteen hides.[98] Of these there are forty-five in the demesne, and they were free from all royal service and tax, except service to the lord of the manor.

In the capital manor there were twelve ploughs[99] in the


demesne, and fifty bondmen and bondwomen,[100] and sixteen bordars[101] had their residence about the hall; and two mills of twenty shillings,[102] and one fishery, and one salt pit at Droitwich (Wicham), belong to this manor.


At Southwick (Sudwicham) there are three hides. In Tredington (Trotintune) six hides. In Fiddington (Fitentone) six hides. In Pamington (Pamintonie) eight hides. In Natton (Natone) three hides and a half. In Walton-Cardiff (Waltone) three hides.

In Aston-upon-Carron (Estone) there are six hides. There were twenty-one villanes[103]- there, and nine radchenistres,[104]


having twenty-six ploughs; and five coliberts[105] and one bordar with five ploughs. These radchenistres ploughed and harrowed the lord's manor.

In Gloucester (Glouuecestre) there were eight burgesses,[106] paying five shillings and four-pence, and doing service at the lord's court.

In the whole of Tewkesbury (Teodechesberie) there are one hundred and twenty acres[107] of meadow; and a wood, one mile[108] and a half long, and equally broad.

At Tewkesbury (Teodekesberie) there are now thirteen burgesses, paying twenty shillings a year. A market which the queen established there pays eleven shillings and eight-pence. There are one plough more, and twenty-two bondmen and bondwomen. One fishery, and one salt pit at Droitwich (Wicham). Three radchenistres belonged thereto in King Edward's time. One of them held six hides in Aston-upon-Carron (Estone). Girard now holds them. Another held three hides in Walton-Cardiff (Waltone). Ralph now holds them. The third held two hides in Fiddington (Fitentone). Bernard now holds them. In these eleven hides there are ten ploughs in the demesne; and four villanes and one bordar and nine bondmen with one plough. There are eighteen acres of meadow. The whole was in King Edward's time worth ten pounds;[109] and is of the same value now.


At Oxendon (Oxendone) there were in King Edward's time a hall and five hides belonging to Tewkesbury (Teodekesberie). There are five ploughs in the demesne there; and five villanes and two radchenistres having seven ploughs, and twelve bondmen and bondwomen. There are twenty-four acres of meadow. At Winchcomb (Wicecumbe) three burgesses pay forty-pence. All this is and was worth eight pounds.

Four hides without the demesne, which are in Hanley Castle (Hanlege) belong to the same manor of Tewkesbury (Teodekesberie). There were in King Edward's time two ploughs in the demesne there; and forty villanes and bordars, and eight bondmen and bondwomen; and a mill at sixteen- pence; and a wood in which there is an enclosure. This land was Earl William's, but it now belongs to the king's farm in Hereford. In King Edward s time it was worth fifteen pounds; now ten pounds.[110]

In Forthampton (Fortemeltone) nine hides belong to this manor. There are two ploughs in the demesne; and twenty villanes and bordars, and six bondmen and bondwomen. There is wood. It was in King Edward's time worth ten pounds; now eight pounds. Earl William held these two lands, and they were taxed in Tewkesbury (Tedekesberie).

In Shenington (Senendone) ten hides belong to the same manor. There are four ploughs there; and eight villanes and four bordars and five radchenistres with eight ploughs. There are twelve bondmen; and a mill of three shillings. This land is taxed for seven hides. In King Edward's time it was worth twenty pounds; now eight pounds. It is in the king's hands. Robert de Olgi holds it to farm.

In Clifford Chambers (Clifort) seven hides belong to the same manor. There are three ploughs in the demesne; and fourteen villanes with five ploughs; and a mill of twelve shillings; and two acres of meadow. There were thirteen bondmen


and bondwomen, and a church, and a priest,[111] with one plough. It was worth eight pounds; now six pounds. The queen gave this to Roger de Busli, and it was taxed for four hides in Tewkesbury (Tedechesberie).

Of the five hundred hides above recounted, which belong to Tewkesbury (Tedechesberie), fourscore and fifteen hides were quit and freed from all tax and royal service.

The whole of the manor of Tewkesbury (Tedekesberie) together, was, in King Edward's time, worth one hundred pounds; when Ralph received it, twelve pounds, because it was destroyed and ruined; it is now rated at forty pounds, yet Ralph pays fifty pounds.

Brictric, the son of Algar, held this manor in King Edward's time; and he had at that time the underwritten lands, of other thanes,[112] under his jurisdiction.

One thane held four hides in Ashton-under-Hill (Essetone), and it was a manor. Girard now holds it, and he has one plough there; and two villanes with one plough. It is and was worth forty shillings.

Let held eight hides in Kemerton (Chenemertone), and it was a manor. Girard now holds it, and he has three ploughs there; and fourteen villanes with six ploughs. There are eight bondmen; and three mills of fifteen shillings. It was worth eight pounds; now six pounds.

Three hides in Bodington (Botintone) belong to this manor. The same Girard holds them, and has there two ploughs, and four villanes with three ploughs; and there are three bondmen, and a mill of eight shillings, and eight acres of meadow. It is and was worth forty shillings.


One thane held three hides in Wincot (Wenecote). The queen gave this land to Rainald the chaplain. There are three villanes there with half a plough. It was worth forty shilling's.

Dunning held six hides and a half in Alderton {Atdritone); and in Dixton (Dricledone) four hides and a half; and in Hinswick (Hundeuuic) a thane held one hide. Hunfrid holds these lands of the king; and he has four ploughs in the demesne there; and five villanes and eight bordars with three ploughs; and one radchenistre with one plough; and in Winchcomb {Wicecombe) one burgess, and there are reckoned twelve acres of meadow there. The whole was in King Edward's time worth eleven pounds; now six pounds.

Four villanes held two hides, and one thane half a hide in Twyning {Tuninge). There are four ploughs there; and three acres of meadow. The queen gave this land to John the chamberlain. It is and was worth thirty-five shillings.

Hermer and Alwin held three hides, save one virgate,[113] in Stoke-Orchard (Stoches). Bernard now holds them of the king; and he has one plough in the demesne there, and four acres of meadow. It was worth sixty shillings; now forty shillings.

The possessors of these lands in King Edward's time, put themselves and their lands under the protection of Brictric.

[96] Domesday-Book is an ancient record or register, drawn up by order of King William the Conqueror, and contains a general survey of nearly the whole of the landed property of the kingdom. It was begun in the year 1080, and completed in 1086: commissioners were sent into every county, and juries summoned and impannelled in each hundred, out of all orders of freemen, from barons down to the lowest farmers, to give in upon oath to the commissioners, by verdict or presentment, due information, for the faithful and impartial execution of it. In the description of the manors and possessions it is generally stated, how many hides or carucates the land is gelded or taxed at - whose it was in the time of King Edward - who the present owner and sub-tenants - what and how much arable land, meadow, pasture and wood, there is - how much in demesne, how much in tenantry, and what number of ploughs it will keep - what mills and fishings - how many freemen, sockmen, coliberti, cotarii, bordarii, radmanni, radchenistres, villanes, maid-servants and bondmen, there are - in some instances, what young cattle, sheep, working horses, &c. are upon the land, and how many hogs the woods will support - sometimes what churches there are, and how many priests or parsons - what customary rents, prestations and services, are to be paid and rendered out of the lands - what has been added to the manor, what withheld from it, and by whom - what land is waste, what the whole was let for in the time of King Edward - and what the net rent, whether it was too dear rented, or whether it might be improved. - Kelham's Domesday-Book Illustrated.
[97] Mr. Madox, in his History of the Exchequer, says, "the great and memorable survey of lands holden in demesne within this realm, which was finished in 1086, and is called Domesday-Book, sheweth, under the title Terra Regis, what and which the demesnes of the crown were, at that time, and in the time of King Edward the Confessor; and hath been ever since counted the great index, to distinguish the king's demesnes from his escheats and other lands, and from the lands of other men". - And Mr. Brady, in his Treatise of English Burghs, observes, that what is recorded under the title Terra Regis, "is said to be in ancient demesne, and consequently entitled to certain privileges, such as being exempted from all tolls in markets, fairs, &c. not contributing towards the wages of members of parliament, &c. &c. These lands were at the time of the survey and afterwards kept in the king's hands, and managed by praepositi or bailiff's, and called his demesnes, which in process of time were let to farm to tenants for a considerable part of their true value, a half, third, or fourth part; and this rent was called a fee-farm rent; the tenants esteeming what these lands were worth above the rent, or in respect of their tenure, to be to them as if they were holden in fee, paying their rent and tallages".
[98] A hide of land (hida) was supposed to be sufficient to maintain a house or family: the admeasurement differed in various counties, though it generally contained one hundred Norman acres, which were equal to one hundred and twenty English ones, and was valued at about twenty shillings a year. "The just value of a hide that might fit the whole kingdom never appears from Domesday, and was ever of an uncertain quantity". - Seld. Tit. Hon.
[99] Plough (carucata) signifies what we call a team's tillage, or as much land as may be tilled and laboured with one plough, and the beasts belonging thereto, in a year, having meadow, pasture, and houses for the householders and cattle belonging to it. This must of course be different in different soils: not less probably than eighty acres, or more than one hundred and twenty. The Norman scribes so frequently made abbreviations, that car. was put alike for caruca, the cart or team, and carucata, a team's tillage; and it is not in every case clear which of the two is meant. "The hide was the measure of land in the Confessor's reign, the carucate that to which it was reduced hy the Conqueror's new standard". - Seld. Tit. Hon.
[100] Bondmen (servi) and bondwomen (ancillae) differed in many instances from those of the villani: they were indeed mere slaves to the lord; they were incapable of acquiring any property by inheritance, industry or gift; their money, goods and lands, being seizable at the option of the baron, who was only restrained by the common law from maiming or killing his vassals, or ravishing the female slaves or nieves.
[101] Bordars (bordarii) were tenants who held a bord or cottage with land, but were in a very servile condition. "The yeomanry are styled bordarii in Domesday-Book; who held a small parcel of land of the manor, on condition of supplying the lord with poultry and other small provisions for his board and entertainment: hence the lands so held are called bord lands". (Kennett's Paroch. Antiq.) The word yeoman was not at that period synonymous with farmer, as in the modern acceptation. Bishop Latimer, in his first sermon preached before King Edward the sixth, at Westminster, on the 8th of March, 1549, exhibits a just picture of the ancient English yeomanry: "My father was a yeoman, and had no landes of his owne, onely he had a farme of three or foure pounds by the yere at the uttermost, and hereupon he tilled so much as kept half a dozen men. Hee had walke for an hundred sheepe, and my mother milked thirtie kine. He was able, and did find the king a harnesse, with himself and his horse, while he came to the place that he should receive the king's wages. I can remember that I buckled his harnesse, when he went to Blackheath field. He kept me to schoole, or else I had not beene able to have preached before the king's majestic now. He married my sisters with five pound, or twenty nobles a peece, so that he brought them up in godlinesse and feare of God. He kept hospitalitie for his poore neighbours, and some almes he gave to the poore; and all this did he of the said farme. Where hee that nowe hath it, payeth sixteene pound by the yeare or more, and is not able to doe anie thing for his prince, for himselfe, nor for his children, or give a cup of drinke to the poore".
[102] The shilling (sol.) mentioned in Domesday "consisted of twelve-pence, and was equal in weight to something more than three of our shillings; so that the Norman pound, consisting of twenty such shillings, was three pounds two shillings of our present money. The Saxon shilling was valued at five-pence, and forty-eight of them went to the pound: one of their pence being three times the weight of our silver penny. It is observable, there was no such piece of money as the shilling coined in this kingdom t[ill the] year 1504. The penny was anciently the only current silver coin, till about the reign of King John, or 7 Edw. I. according to others, when the silver half-penny and farthing were introduced; but in the year 1350, King Edward the third began to coin large pieces, which, from their size, obtained the name of groats. Crowns and half-crowns were first coined in the year 1551". - (Nash's Worcestershire.) Sir Robert Atkyns, in endeavouring to shew what proportion the value of silver, at the time of taking the survey, bore to the value of it in his own time (1712), says, "The rate of necessaries which subsist human life is the true estimate of money: since therefore wheat corn seems to be the most necessary of any one thing, we may best value coin by the price of wheat in the several ages. A bushel of wheat, soon after the Norman conquest, was sold for a penny, and because their penny was equal in weight to our three-pence, we may therefore allow their bushel of wheat to be valued at three-pence. At this day, a bushel of wheat, one year with another, may be valued at four shillings, which is sixteen times the value of wheat six hundred years ago: the conclusion will be, that a man might live in that time as well on twenty shillings a year of our money, as on sixteen pounds a year at present". - (Atkyns's Gloucestershire.) Lord Lyttleton has also calculated the nominal and real value of money soon alter the conquest compared with his own times, and his estimate agrees pretty nearly with Sir Robert Atkyns's: and if, according to his mode of reckoning, we set the present medium price of wheat at eight shillings, and take into account the artificial wants and luxurious mode of living since introduced, with the additional taxes and other public burthens, it will appear that a person might live as plentifully upon one hundred pounds a year at that time as upon five thousand at the present.
[103] Villanes (villani) were a class of men who inhabited the villages, and though they ranked above the servi or bordarii, yet they were obliged to work for their lord without reward. When the conqueror parcelled out this kingdom to his Norman adventurers, he also gave the inhabitants of the manors as vassals to cultivate the soil; and when these lords again granted out their lands to inferior tenants, they reserved to themselves in many respects an absolute power over the lives and properties of those who held under them.
[104] Radchenistre, a free man. They were probably men bound to do a certain portion of husbandry work, such as to mow or reap during the busy time in harvest. Du Cange thinks their service consisted in attending their lord on horseback.
[105] Coliberts (coliberti) mean those who held in free socage, or one who, being a villane, was made free - a middle rank between servi and liberi; doing the work of the first, but holding by the tenure of the latter.
[106] Burgesses (burgenses) were inhabitants of walled towns or boroughs, who held their tenements, called burgages, at the will of the lord, and worked at some trade by his permission, paying him whatever part of the profits of their industry he might think proper to require.
[107] In Domesday-Book the tillage land is commonly measured by carucates, a farm of tillage and pasture by hides, and the meadow by acres.
[108] It is not accurately ascertained what the mile mentioned in this survey measures; some call it 1500 paces, and others 2000.
[109] The pound (lib.) was the weight of a pound of silver, of twelve ounces.
[110] It appears that the value of lands varied considerably between the times of Edward the Confessor and William the Conqueror: some increasing and others diminishing.
[111] Priests were not maintained by tithes, but by a certain portion of land, with its stock of servants and cattle. Dr. Nash says, "wherever we find a priest mentioned in Domesday, we may conclude there was a church".
[112] Thanes (teini) "were the Saxon nobility, and divided into thani regis, mediocres, and inferiores. The first, in the Saxon times, were equal to the barons in the Norman times; as the thani mediocres were to the lesser barons, or lords of manors; and the inferiores made up the lowest degree of freeholders". - Spelman.
[113] Virgate, (virgata), a yard land, contained a fourth part of a hide, or about thirty acres; though in some counties only twenty-four, and in others not more than fifteen. It varied in quantity according to the richness of the soil, as did indeed all the other measures of land.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in October 2015.

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