Medieval Scholes PART II

Medieval Scholes


from The Barwicker No. 50
June 1998

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In Part 1 of this series (see 'The Barwicker' No.49), it was seen that Scholes manor was independent of the larger Barwick manor at least in so far as its accounts were concerned. A number of villeins or manorial tenants held arable land in Scholes and Morwick, but the lord of the manor was beginning to play a less direct part in the manor's affairs as his demesne land, the park and the manorial monopolies were increasingly let out for rent.

A survey of the manors in the Honour of Pontefract was made in 1341 and this included Barwick and Scholes. They were part of the vast estates of Henry, 3rd Earl of Lancaster. The Historical Society obtained a copy of this survey in old script and medieval Latin and have had it professionally transcribed and translated by Lisa Howarth of the Borthwick Institute in York.

The information regarding Scholes is included as part of the larger Barwick manor. Barwick itself is dealt with first, followed by Barnbow, Potterton, Kiddal, Woodhouse, Scholes and some general matters. The whole is supervised by single jury of 12 named local men 'and others', and includes five from Scholes. It gives details of the land holdings and the names of those inhabitants of the manor who paid rent to the lord, the Earl of Lancaster.

The Scholes section of the survey shows one free tenant; "William de Lasyncrofte holds 1 messuage and 2 bovates of land in Lazencroft freely, rendering annually 1 pound of pepper at Whitsun and foreign service or 12d as appears by his charter". A bovate was 10-25 acres of arable land. This was an estate which had been held by the de Lasingcroft family for many years, as explained in Part 1.

There are 11 bondmen (or villeins) in the Scholes section as follows;
John de Morwicke holds 1 messuage & 1 bovate of land rendering 15s.
William Morwyke holds 1 messuage & 1 bovate of land rendering 15s.
Robert son of William holds 1 messuage & 15 acres rendering 12s.
Richard de Scoles holds 1 messuage, 10 acres & 3 rods rendering 9s.
Matilda Maude' daughter holds 1 messuage rendering 12d
Agnes Pottere holds 1 messuage and 1 toft rendering 2s.
Roger Maboteson holds 1 messuage and 1 acre rendering 2s.
Nicholas de Scoles holds 2 messuages and 31 acres rendering 28s.3d.
William de Scholes holds 1 messuage and 27 acres rendering 24s.
Roger, son of Robert holds 1 messuage and 16 acres rendering 13s.
Walter de Scoles holds 1 messuage and 14 acres rendering 9s.6d.
Eight of these tenancies could be described as smallholdings, that is a house (one tenancy has two) and sufficient arable land along with rough grazing on the 'moor' to allow a family to grow crops and raise livestock to feed itself and pay the rent. The other three tenancies consist of a house and small plot only, and the inhabitants would have to find their income in some other way. It is perhaps significant that two householders were women.

All 11 tenants are said to hold their land 'in bondage', that is within the customs of the manor and the rules of the manorial court, and the requirement to carry out certain duties to the lord. They would serve as 'reeve' if elected. On the death of the tenant, his wife or son could take over the tenancy on a single payment of double the annual rent. They had previously been required as their labour services to do reaping work for the lord at Easter and Michaelmas but they were discharged from this duty on payment of 4d, or in some cases 2d, annually. This would be the common practice in Scholes as the lord no longer held any desmesne land to reap. The bondmen paid their rent at Martinmas and Whitsun.

The third tenant on the list, Robert son of William, is said to "claim liberty and licence to gather dried sticks and branches blown down by the wind in the wood of Scholes". The other eight tenants below Robert in the list have their rights and duties defined as "everthing else just as the same Robert" indicating that they too had the right to gather fuel in this place. Where Scholes wood was is not made clear.

Where these land holdings were is not stated but I intend to speculate about this in the hope that some day we will discover more information that will prove me right (or wrong). It seems certain that the first two tenants on the list held land in Morwick judging by their names and as they differ from the other tenants in having their land defined in 'bovates' not acres, and not having the right to collect firewood in Scholes wood.

It seems likely that the other nine tenants had their holdings in Scholes, judging by their names (four have the name 'Scoles). They have their land defined in acres and have the right to gather fuel in their local wood. It seems likely from the evidence of much later maps that their arable land lay to the north of the old village and east of Main Street. It is probable that their holdings were scattered in long narrow strips in an open field system of agriculture.

The wooden peasant dwellings have long since vanished but perhaps in the future some improved archaeological methods may be able to discover their locations. Working a medieval small holding was a family concern. While the man cultivated the fields, the wife's work would include spinning, milking, making cheese and butter, collecting eggs and taking produce to market for sale. A boy of seven would be old enough to tend a flock of geese on the common and walk beside the plough, goading the oxen. Later he would take animals to water, gather firewood and fetch and carry straw and rushes. A girl would help to mind the younger children, fetch water, help with the cooking and gather fruit in season. As they grew older boys and girls would begin to work for wages for other villagers.

The total rent paid to the lord by the above bondmen is given as 103s.7p at Martinmas and 103s.7p at Whitsun, giving a total of 10.7s.2d, not 9.7s.2d as stated in the text. I can only suggest that this error occurred in the copying - a jury of Yorkshire farmers would not make a mistake when adding money!

The next part of the Scholes section of the survey is headed 'Lease-holders'. These are men who leased land and/or houses for a term of years and paid a stated annual rent but had no labour services to perform. They were;
Thomas, son of William de Grenefeld holds 3 acres rendering 21d.
William de Morwyke holds acre rendering 6d. John de Morwyke holds one messuage rendering 2s.
Robert Shepard holds 1 messuage with toft and 1 acre of meadownewly ploughed rendering 12d.
William Watteson holds 1 messuage with toft 8d.
Richard Nicholson holds 1 messuage and toft, with a certain newlyploughed place adjacent to it rendering 8d.
The items suggest that there was a small increase in the amount of arable land in the manor in recent years. Of those named, William de Morwyke and John de Morwyke were bondmen in the list above and Thomas, son of William de Grenefeld, was a free tenant of Barnbow. The other three presumably lived in the houses they rented and might have earned their living as labourers or craftsmen.

The messuage of John de Morwicke is said to have been formerly reserved for the Receiver and Parker, but was no longer required as his office had disappeared as the park had been let out. Included in the leases is an item giving "all the common of Scholes" a right to draw water from a spring in the lord's meadow at an annual fee of 3d. each. The total income from leases is given as 9s.8d, 6s.1d. in rents and 2s.9d for the water rights of the 11 bondmen.

The next item of the Scholes section of the survey is headed 'Farmers', the term being used in it its old sense of men who rented land. The first of the two parts reads:
"Robert, son of William de Scoles, Nicholas de Scoles, Roger, son of Robert, Walter de Scoles, William Milnere, John Egler, Matilda de Morwyk and Robert Dranke hold the capital messuage at common for its true value, rendering annually 20s. at Michaelmas."

The first four are bondmen of the manor. As previously described this land was the site of the old manor house which was let out for grazing and haymaking. The second part of this section reads:
"Nicholas de Scoles, Roger son of Robert, William de Scoles, Walter de Scoles, Robert Dranke and William Milner hold 1 place of meadow called Thurstonshaw Parva at the will of the lord containing 1 acres by estimation."

Four of these are bondmen of the manor. The total rent appears to be 25s. Meadow land used for the production of winter fodder was very valuable and was given its own section in the survey.

This ends the part of the survey headed Scholes, but the next section named 'Foreign Issues' begins with four items that from the evidence of the earlier accounts clearly belong to Scholes. They are;
"Item there is there 1 windmill worth annually, beyond reprise (i.e. expenses), 28s, and let at 30s. at Easter and Michaelmas, namely to John Elis.
Item there is a certain park containing 90 acres of arable land with a certain place called Speightley, . the land with pasture worth annually, beyond reprise, enclosed and free, 100s., and let for 6.13.4d annually to the wife of John Manston, the above reprises to be maintained by the lord.
Item the lord's fishpond does not extend or occur accidentally (?) nor is there any underwood.
Item there is a certain external wood, the herbage of which is common pasture, the underwood of which is worth 3s. annually."
The total value of these four Scholes items is given as 6.11s. Some of the parkland has been ploughed and 'farmed out' with the rest of the grazing land. The expenses in the park would include keeping. the boundary fence in good repair. Where the unnamed wife of John Manston lived and whether she worked the land herself or sub-let it to other people, we do not know.

We have no evidence of any houses being built there. There was no commercial value in the fishpond or the woodland of the park. The term 'external wood' or 'outwood' suggest that it was outside the boundaries of the manor but where we do not know.

What does the above survey tell us about the lives of the people of the manor of Scholes at this time? In Lazencroft, the de Lazingcroft family had a house and small estate freely held. In Morwick, there were two small holdings plus a single house. In Scholes itself there were six small holdings and another three houses. On a small holding a family would cultivate its land and raise livestock to support itself and pay the rent. The houses without land would be occupied by labourers or craftsmen - workers in wood, iron, leather and cloth, perhaps. The park was being ploughed up and offered opportunities of work for landless labourers.

There were 17 houses and therefore 17 households (18 if we include the mill). With an average of perhaps 4.5 people per household - men, women and children - Scholes manor would have a population of about 80 at that time. There was somewhere in the region of 290 acres of arable land along with some meadow land and waste within the manor. According to the (rather dubious) totals given, the value of the manor was about 19.17s.

At the time of the survey, manors were very strong economically. The population of the country was rising especially in the towns where there was an increase in the demand for food. In the countryside, labour was cheap but the lords were not able to reduce the rents of their tenants or replace them because they were protected by the customs of the manor. Their strategy was to let out their demesne land on long or short term leases to tenants who were not so protected. The survey indicates that this is what happened in Scholes. This was the beginning of a change in the status of the lord of the manor from lord and master to more conventional landlord. Tragic events a few years after the date of this survey would continue this development.


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