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Barwick in 1086

Barwicker No 24
dated December 1991

The Domesday survey was ordered by William I in 1086, twenty years after he defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings and became King of England as well as Duke of Normandy. It covered the whole of England, except for London, Winchester, Bristol and the four northernmost counties. The returns show not only the value of the arable land on which the 'geld' or land tax was levied by the king but also the full financial resources of the country. They reveal a system of administration derived partly from Saxon times, partly from Norman custom and partly from the circumstances of the Conquest itself. No similar survey was carried out in Normandy nor again in this country until recent times.

The returns are set out in the Domesday Books by ‘manors'. This term does not occur in Saxon records but some manorial system must have operated before the Conquest as the survey compares the situation in 1086 with that in Saxon times, The precise meaning of the term 'manor' is still the subject of disagreement amongst historians, as the manors in the survey range over extremes of size and organisation. Of importance to the king was that the manor was the point at which the land tax was collected.

The following version of the Barwick entry in the Domesday Book of 1086 is taken from the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Vol.XIV.

Manor and berewick. In Chipesch (Kippax) and Ledstune (Ledston), Earl Edwin had eighteen carucates for geld, and ten ploughs may be there. To this manor belongs land which properly is called Beruuit* (Barwick-in-Elmet), in which there are eight carucates for geld, and four ploughs may be there.

This land Ilbert de Laci has now, where he has in the demesne twelve ploughs and forty-eight vlllanes and twelve borders with sixteen ploughs, and three churches and three priests, and three mills of ten shillings (annual value). Wood, pasturable, two leugae in length and one in breadth.

The whole manor, five leugae in length and one in breadth. T.R.E. (i.e. in the time of King Edward) it was worth sixteen pounds; now the same. To this manor belongs this sake:- Alretune (Allerton Bywater), six carucates; Prestune (Preston, parish of Kippax), six carucates; Suilligtune (Swillington), three carucates; Gereforde (Garforth), one carucate and a half; Sceltune (Skelton, parish of Leeds), three carucates; Caldecotes (Coldcotes), two carucates; Colletun (Colton, parish of Whitkirk), two carucates; Ossetorp (Austhorpe), four carucates; Mainstune (Manston), four carucates; Chidal (Kiddal), three carucates; Pottertun (Potterton), two carucates; Chlpertun (Gipton), one carucate; Perllnctune (Parlington), six carucates; Cuford (Cuforth near Becca), two carucates. Together for geld, forty-five carucates and a half, and twenty-four ploughs may be there. These are waste. To this manor there are thirty acres of meadow.

* Spelt Bereuuich in the Recapitulation.

The Domesday returns contain the first written information about Barwick that we have located. They show that in 1086 Barwick was an outlying, detached part or berewick of the manor of Kippax The wording draws a clear distinction between the name recorded (properly called Beruuit) and the general term berewick.

Edwin, Earl of Mercia, was a Saxon lord holding huge estates, including Barwick, before the Norman conquest. He gave his allegiance to William after the Battle of Hastings and was confirmed in his estates, but he joined a rebellion in 1069, was killed and his lands were granted to Ilbert de Lacy, a Norman lord who had come to England with the Conqueror. Through his succession and by marriage, his lands were eventually added to the vast estates of the Dukes of Lancaster.

Demesne was the lord's own estate or 'home farm'. In many manors it was cultivated by a core of permanent farm servants, mainly ploughmen and stockmen, who worked for their keep and were little better than slaves, but there is no mention of such people in the Barwick return. The demesne contained 26 carucates of arable land, eight of them in Barwick.

The carucate (called the hide in other parts of the country) was a unit of assessment for the land tax or geld. The term probably began as a measure of cultivated ground (120 acres has been suggested) but it seems to have varied with the quality of the land. In 1086, geld was assessed at six shillings on each carucate.

The survey gives no indication of how the demesne land was distributed in the manor, but it was probably scattered alongside other holdings in a system of open fields. At the time of the survey Ilbert's demesne was worked by 12 ploughs, a plough team having up to eight oxen.

The 48 villanes (or villeins) were tenant farmers holding land in return for rent and/or services to the lord, such as helping to work the demesne lands. They constituted the largest single category of persons recorded, making up one third of the rural population of the country. They were bound to the lord's land and could not leave it without his permission and the payment of a fine. As there are more villeins than ploughs it is clear that the land must have been worked in part under some co-operative system, each villein contributing some of the oxen in a plough team.

The twelve bordars were small-holders, occupying a cottage and a few acres, held in return for labour services to the lord. Their land was insufficient for their needs and they had to work for wages on the land of the lord or of the villeins.

The 60 men (villeins and bordars) recorded here would be heads of households and their number must be multiplied by the size of the average Domesday household, estimated to be four or five, to make a total population for the manor and berewick of 240-300.

The three churches mentioned were without doubt those of Ledsham, Kippax and Barwick. Churches were owned just like other resources of the manor. They brought in revenue from their land, from tithes and from marriage and burial fees. The lord therefore was entitled to a rent from the church. The listing of both churches and priests as at Barwick was not universal. In some places, churches are recorded but not priests; in others, priests but not churches. The three mills are assumed to include the mill at Hillome (see edition No.4).

The large area of woodland pasture is likely to have been common grazing for the cattle, pigs and geese of the villeins and bordars. Leugae is now usually translated as leagues. A league was a linear measure of about one and a half miles. It is the least accurate unit of measurement in the survey and is used to give the size of the least valuable land in the manor. The dimensions of two leagues in length and one league in breadth must have been calculated by summing the several pieces of woodland pasture in the manor. Similarly the separate parts must have been summed to give the dimensions of the whole manor of five leagues in length and one league in breadth.

The fact that the value of the manor was the same as it was in 1066 indicates that the area did not suffer from the 'harrying of the North' carried out by King William after the rebellion of 1069. The 1066 calculation is 'in the time of King Edward the Confessor' rather than Harold, whom William regarded as having usurped the English throne on the death of Edward.

The 14 other vills whose names are recorded are said to be in the 'soke' of the manor, a term found only in parts of the country with a strong Scandinavian Influence. 'Sokemen' were small landowners who may have descended from rank-and-file Danish soldiers who settled on the land. They came under the Jurisdiction of the manor and acknowledged the superiority of the lord and were bound to attend the manorial court. In return for the lord's protection they paid him dues but were unlikely to carry out labour services as the vills in the soke contained no land in the lord's demesne. They may have paid their taxes directly to the King, which might explain the statement that their land was assessed for geld and yet it was decribed as 'waste', that is, not taxable.

Meadow land, which was cut to produce hay for winter fodder for livestock, was the most valuable type of land and is recorded in the most accurate unit of measurement, the acre, but even this seems to have varied in area from place to place. Vhether the 30 acres of meadow included that in the soke is not clear, but even if it does not, it still represents a very small acreage. It would be required to produce hay for 28 plough teams, perhaps 200 oxen, in addition to breeding dairy stock, etc. It must have been supplemented by other forms of winter fodder such as evergreen foliage from the woodland.

For several centuries after the making of the Domesday Book, it was often consulted to settle questions of land tenure. More recently, it has been used as a source of historical material and as a focus of scholarly research but it still remains admissible evidence in a court of law and has been employed in this way as late as the present century. Perhaps the most eloquent description of the importance of the book was made in 1179 by Richard Fitz Neal, the Treasurer of King Henry II:

'A careful survey of the country was made and was set down in common language and drawn up into a book; in order that every man may be content with his own rights, and not encroach unpunished on those of others. This book is metaphorically called by the native English, Domesday, i.e. the Day of Judgement. For as the sentence of that strict and terrible last account cannot be evaded by any subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to on those matters which it contains, its sentence cannot be quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we call it "the Book of Judgement", because its decisions, like those of the Last Judgement are unalterable.'


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