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Vol. LXXIV. Three Lancashire Documents of the Fourteenth And Fifteenth Centuries
I — The Great de Lacy Inquisition, Feb. 16, 1311.
II — The Survey of 1320-1346.
III — Custom Roll and Rental of the Manor of Ashton-under-Lyne, November 11, 1422. (transcribed)
UNDER the feudal system, as developed in England from the period of the Norman conquest, all land was held directly or indirectly of the king, who was the supreme lord of all the territory of the kingdom. When the king granted a tract of land to any noble, or knight, he required that certain services should be rendered to him in return. These services being usually military, - the contribution of men and arms and horses to the king in his wars, - it became necessary from time to time that the king should know the quantity and quality of the land, and the amount of service renderable, in respect of every holding of land throughout his kingdom. The means of ascertaining these particulars, though various, were to some extent alike in their general principle and their organization of machinery. A general survey throughout the kingdom being commanded, it was effected by certain high commissioners, few in number, calling to their aid the chief functionaries in counties, the earls or counts, and the sheriffs; and these in turn apportioned out the task among the hundredors of each wapentake or hundred; these again subdividing the labour; so that ultimately the great survey
was effected by an aggregation of juries of inquiry in every lordship or manor, nay even in every village throughout the land. Such was the character of the great Survey of all the lands throughout England, made twenty years after the Norman conquest, and commonly known as the Domesday Survey, which was completed in the year 1086, and has remained ever since the oldest register extant of the value, tenure and services of the lands therein described. It is stated by an old chronicler1 that William the Conqueror caused this survey to be made in imitation of the policy of Alfred the Great, who, at the time he divided the kingdom into counties, hundreds and tithings, had inquisition taken and digested into a register, called, from the place in which it was deposited, the Roll of Winchester. However this may be, we find that the task of making the great Norman survey of England was entrusted to four commissioners, styled the king's justiciaries, who seem to have associated with themselves some principal person or persons in each shire. The inquisitors were to inquire, upon the oaths of the sheriffs of counties, the lords of each manor, the presbyters or priests of every church, the reeves of every hundred, the bailiffs and six villeins of every village, - into the name of the place; who held it in the time of king Edward the Confessor ; who was the present possessor; how many hides of land there were in the manor; how many carucates, carves or plough-lands in demesne; how many homagers; how many villeins; how many cotarii; how many servi; what freemen; how many tenants in socage; what
quantity of wood; how much meadow and pasture; what mills and fish-ponds; how much added or taken away; what the gross value in king Edward's time; what the present value; and how much each freeman or soc-man had or has. All this was to be estimated - first, as the estate was held in the time of the Confessor; secondly, as it was bestowed by the Conqueror; and thirdly, as its value stood at the taking of the survey. The jurors were further to state whether any advance could be made in the value. These very numerous inquisitions being taken all over the country, the record of each was sent by the justiciaries to Winchester, and there the whole were arranged, classed, methodized, and entered in a register, such as we now see it in the admirable photographic facsimiles of the original Domesday survey.
Such was the record of the first great English survey of the lands of the kingdom in the eleventh century, and it long remained the great authority on all the subjects embraced in its inquiry. But various causes would naturally arise in course of time to render other inquiries desirable or necessary, either extending over the entire kingdom, or over a county, a hundred or wapentake, an honor or great lordship, or even limited to a single manor. Traces remain of several such inquiries as to Lancashire in the thirteenth century. In the printed copy of the Testa de Nevill (fol. 808) is an entry recording an inquisition of the county of Lancaster which sets forth that.
This is an Inquisition made by the oath of the faithful knights of the tenements given and alienated within the Lime, in the county of Lancaster, to wit by Roger Gerneth de Burg, Robert
de Lancaster, Adam de Middleton, Richard de Burg, Walter Fitz-Osbert, Walter Fitz-Swane, William de Wynewye, Richard Fitz-Swane, Richard Fitz-Robert, William Blundel, Robert de Anielsdale, Richard de Orhull (Orrell), Richard de Perpont, Alan de Rixton, William de Radeclive, Alexander de Pilkington and Henry de Trafford.
From the names of these seventeen knights who held this undated inquisition, we are enabled to limit the time at which it was taken to some year within the eight years 1200-1207. Again, we find a perambulation of the forests of Lancashire was made by twelve knights, and recorded in 1227 or 1228.
As early as the reign of Henry II. that king instituted justices in eyre, or justices itinerant, who were to go through all the counties of England2 with a general commission wider than the special one usually given to justices of oyer et terminer. For instance, it was a function of the justices in eyre to inquire of knights' fees, escheats, wardships, marriages, presentations to churches, the usurpation of the rights of the crown, as well as into any oppressions and frauds of the king's ministers and officers. The mode of procedure was for the justices in eyre, in each county in which they held their court, to deliver to the hundredors, or officers in charge of each hundred or wapentake, certain articles of inquiry, termed "Capitida Itineris" to which the hundredors had to make written replies or returns.3 During the turbulent reign of Henry III., the revenues of the crown
2 The king divided the kingdom into six parts or districts, and assigned three justices to each such district.
3 Bracton, lib. ii. foll. 116, 117.
had been considerably diminished by tenants in capite alienating without license, and by ecclesiastics, as well as laymen, withholding from the crown, under various pretexts, its just rights, and usurping the right of holding courts and other jura regalia. Numerous exactions and oppressions of the people had also been committed in this reign by the nobility and gentry claiming the rights of free chase, free warren and fishery, and demanding unreasonable tolls in fairs and markets; and again by sheriffs, escheators, and other officers and ministers of the crown, under colour of law. Edward I., who was on his return from the Holy Land on the death of his father, did not reach England till towards the end of the second year of his reign, and these abuses remained uncorrected till his return. One of the first acts of his administration after his arrival, was to institute an inquiry into the state of the demesnes, and of the rights and revenues of the crown, and concerning the conduct of the sheriffs and other officers and ministers who had defrauded the king and severely oppressed the people. The "Capitula Itineris" would have embraced nearly all these abuses; but it was found that the circuit of the justices itinerant - generally once in seven years - would not return till the sixth year of this new reign (1278), and it was necessary to afford a speedy remedy to the crown and the subject. The king, therefore, on the 11th October, in the second year of his reign (1274), appointed special commissioners for the whole kingdom, as appears from the patent rolls of this year,4 whereon are
4 "Do inquirendo per totum regnum de omnibus libertatibus ac de articulis eorundem."
enrolled thirty-five articles of inquiry. Twelve other articles not on the patent rolls are among the returns, making in all forty-seven articles. The commissioners made their return in the third year of the reign (1275), and then it became necessary for the court of exchequer to have in one view such part of the returns as affected the rights of the crown and the abuses of its officers. To this end certain rolls were drawn up, containing a selection under the denomination of "Extracts," and thus the crown was furnished with evidence, upon the oath of a jury of each hundred and town of every county, as to the various matters under inquiry. From these sources the public records termed "Rotuli Hundredorum" were compiled, and have been printed in two thick folio volumes; but it is not a little remarkable that these hundred rolls, as printed, do not contain any entry or extract relative to the county of Lancaster, though the inquiries were made some seventy-six years before the creation of the duchy of Lancaster, and the vesting of its jura regalia in its duke for the time being. It may be added that the first chapter of the statute of Gloucester (6 Edward I.1278), as to the liberties, franchises, quo warranto, &c., was founded upon the previous inquiries under this commission. Immediately after the passing of the statute of Gloucester, the circuit of the justices in eyre returned, and they had the rolls delivered to them, to inquire into the matters therein set forth; and it would seem that in many cases these later inquiries were made before the same juries of the hundreds who had made the returns to the royal commissioners.5
5 See Introduction to Rotuli Hundredorvm.
The enumeration of the various inquiries respecting land, its tenure and services, during the latter part of the thirteenth century, would not be complete were we to omit to mention what is generally known as "Kirkby's Inquest" of Yorkshire in the years 1284-5, a general survey of Yorkshire in its several wapentakes, conducted by Sir John de Kirkeby, then the king's treasurer. There were also the pleas of quo warranto - inquiries by what warrant lords, knights, and others claimed to hold manors and estates, and to exercise certain priviliges and franchises, and to enjoy certain immunities. These Placita de quo warranto were held before Hugh de Cressingham and his brother justiciaries, as regards Lancashire, in Trinity term (May and June) 1292.
The statute "Extenta Manerii," passed in 1276, rendered it imperative to survey or "extend" manors under its provisions, and to this legislative act we are inclined to attribute the survey of a considerable part of Lancashire, including the barony, lordship, or manor of Manchester in 1320-46, and the extent of the manor in 1322. Indeed, it is not improbable that to this statute we owe the later portions of the Testa de Nevill (a.d. 1325-30) and some parts, at least, of the Birch Feodary (ranging from a.d. 1307 to 1380), and of the Lansdowne Feodary (1349-51).
A more limited kind of inquiry was that made after the death of any baron, lord, knight, or other tenant in capite of the crown. These were termed Inquisitiones post mortem, and they were usually held before the sheriff of a county, or the king's escheator, who summoned a jury, whose finding
as to the possessions of the deceased, the name, kinship, and age of the heir, &c., were all recorded on the inquisition, which was returned by the presiding officer to the king's chancery or exchequer. Of this class of inquiries was the celebrated "De Lacy Inquisition" of 1311, the first of the three records printed in the present volume. It was not, however, of the ordinary character, but included the whole estates of the earl of Lincoln, and amongst others, the entire extent of the honor of Clitheroe.6 It was also taken with
6 The modern honor of Clitheroe, the seat and centre of which is the castle of Clitheroe, is of great extent, and covers a large tract of country, both in Lancashire and Yorkshire. That part of the honor which is in Lancashire has for its lord his grace the duke of Buccleuch. It comprises the whole of the hundred of Blackburn, being that portion of the county which, by "the Representation of the People Act, 1867," forms the parliamentary north-eastern division of Lancashire. The honor also includes the boroughs of Clitheroe, Blackburn, and Burnley. The manor of Tottington -- comprising the two quarters of Tottington-higher- end and Tottington-lower-end -- in the hundred of Salford, is also within the honor of Clitheroe. A considerable area within the honor is copyhold, and held either of the wapentake of Blackburn, or of one of the several forests or manors within it, for which courts are held half-yearly at Easter and Michaelmas. The Yorkshire portion of the honor, of which Charles Towneley of Towneley, esq., is now the lord, is called "the "Wapentake or Liberty of Bowland," and comprises the several townships of the higher and lower divisions of the Forest of Bowland, - Slaidburn, Newton, Easington, Grindleton, West Bradford, Waddington, Bashall and Great Mitton. The townships of Slaidburn, Newton, Grindleton and West Bradford, are principally copyhold, and held of the manor of Slaidburn. The steward of the honor, Dixon Bobinson, esq., by virtue of his office, is coroner for the Liberty of Bowland. The official residence of the steward is at Clitheroe castle, where the court rolls are kept. Some of these date as far back as the reign of Henry the Seventh.
much more care, accuracy, and minuteness of specification than was usual in these inquiries, for the reason given in page 3. It is now printed for the first time. The second record in the volume is of the nature of an extent or survey which probably, in its perfect state, included every hundred of Lancashire. Of the original record nothing is known; and the portions of the document now first printed are derived from a copy made late in the sixteenth century. It is remarkable that there is not known to exist any full survey of Lancashire at all resembling in character "Kirkby's Inquest" of Yorkshire, of 1284-5, which has just been printed for the first time by the Surtees Society. It cannot be doubted that under the special commission of Edward I. in 1 274, Lancashire was included; yet, in the hundred rolls, the product of that commission, Lancashire finds no place.
It may be suggested that this survey, so far as parts of it have reached us, like the Testa de Nevill, the Birch and the Lansdowne Feodaries, - all, so far as they can be traced, relating to the fees and the land during the first half of the fourteenth century, - may be fragments of some general record of survey, at least as to Lancashire, the original of which has long since perished. The Testa de Nevill7 has been printed by direction of the Record commissioners, and a copy of its Lancashire portions is also to be found in Gregson's Portfolio of Fragments, where is also printed a copy of Birch's MS. Feodary. A copy of the Lansdowne
7 Besides the list of inquisitions for the whole county, already noticed, the Testa contains like lists for every hundred or wapentake except Lonsdale.
Feodary,8 has been printed in Baines's History of Lancashire9 and to these is now first added this MS. extent or survey, taken within the years 1320-46. Though the portion of it now printed only includes three of the six hundreds of Lancashire (all that remains of Salford hundred being printed in Mamecestre), viz., West Derby, Amounderness, and Lonsdale, yet, as far as it extends, there can be no doubt that it is a valuable addition to our scanty and meagre records of the state of land tenures in Lancashire in the earlier part of the fourteenth century.
The third document in the volume is a record of survey of a different kind, - what is termed a Rentale, rental or rent-roll of a manor. This was us ally a long and narrow parchment roll, wherein the rents of a manor were written down, and by which the lord's bailiff collected such rents at the terms at which they were fixed to be payable. The Rental usually contained the quantities of land in each holding; the land and tenements let to each tenant; the names of the tenants; the several rents apportioned and for what time, usually a year; and the times of payment, which varied in different manors, some being at two, some at three, terms in the year, - and others, and this most generally, at the four quarterly terms of Lady-day, Nativity of John the Baptist, St. Michael's-day, and the Birth of the Lord, - or March 25th, June 24th, September 29th, and December 25th. One example of the old manorial rental will be found in Mamecestre,10 being the rental of Thomas West,
8 See Lansdowne MSS., cod. 559, fol. 23.
9 Edition of 1836, vol. iv. p. 756.
10 Vol. iii. p. 476.
lord la Warre and baron of Mamecestre, of his manor of Mamecestre, in May 1473.
The Rental in the present volume is that of Sir John de Ashton, knight, of his manor of Ashton-under-Lyne, in November 1422, thirty years earlier than that of Manchester. Besides the rental proper, this document contains the arrangement of the forms or benches in Ashton parish church, for the wives, daughters, and servants of the manor of Ashton-under-Lyne. It also contains a rental of the lands and tenements which Sir John Assheton gave to his son and heir, Thomas de Assheton, on his marriage; the yearly rent thereof being 9L. 2s. 7d., and the total of Sir John's own rental 27L. 12s. 11¾d. making the total rental of the manor so far as set down, 36L. 14s. 6¾d., to which, however, must be added the value of all the boon services and presents.
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A General Introduction & Internet Resource Links
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Part III — Custom Roll and Rental of the Manor of Ashton-under-Lyne,
November 11th, 1422 (extracts transcribed, pps. 93 - 134)
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Index to Part lll