Medieval Scholes PART III

Medieval Scholes


from The Barwicker No. 51
Sept. 1998

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At the time of the 1341 survey, English manors were in a very profitable situation. A few years later, a catastrophe struck the country and many other parts of the world, the epidemic of bubonic plague that has become known as 'The Black Death'. It has been said, "Of all the forces rhat were changing the face of English society in the late middle ages, the most wide ranging in its effects was the drop in population following the visitation of the fourteenth-century plagues". It originated in Asia, was spread by rat fleas and reached England in 1348. It was characterised by large tumours appearing in the groin and armpits and death usually followed swifly. The epidemic reached its peak in the summer of 1348 and before it subsided, a third of the population may have perished.

Recovery of the population might have occurred quickly but other epidemics followed, some associated with 'pneumonic' plague, notably in 1369, 1375 and 1390. These continued during the fifteenth and later centuries, culminating in the Great Plague of London in 1665. They prevented the population from recovering and it had been estimated that between the years 1300 and 1400 there was a reduction in the population of the country of between a third and 40%.

The effect on English manor was profound. The fall in population reduced the demand for food and the profitability of agriculture was reduced. Land which had been cultivated went out of use and some settlements disappeared. Labour was now in short supply and this altered the relationship between the lord and his villeins and ultimately led to the breakdown of the old system of manorial tenancies based on bondage and labour services, to be replaced by one of free tenants renting their land from landlords.

Did these changes in English society at the time take place in Scholes? The answer given by a contemporary documents appears to be 'No'. A survey of Scholes manor was drawn up in 1425 along with others in the area. The Scholes document is separate from that of a similar one for Barwick, although both appear to have been written in the presence of the same jury. Both surveys were printed in an English translation in the Thoresby Society publication Vol.XXVIII. 1928. That for Scholes is summarised below. Under the heading 'Free Tenant', the survey includes a member of a family that would later became lords of the manors of Barwick and Scholes.
"Nicholas Gascoigne holds a messuage and two bovates of land in Leysingcrofte freely, and renders yearly one pound of pepper at Pentecost, and foreign service."
Robert Wrightson of Morwicke holds:
(F) Amessuage & a bovate of land & renders yearly 15s. as John Marshall formerly did, & 3d for a plot lately Margaret Harley's 15s. 5d,
John de Cliff holds::
A parcel of waste beside Menycroftesike and renders yearly 1d.
(F) A messuage & a bovate of land & renders yearly 15s. 15s.2d.
A plot of waste lately William Lowson's and renders yearly 3d.
John del Burghe holds::
A messuage and a bovate of land and renders yearly 15s 15s.2d.
A messuage and a bovate of land and renders yearly 15s. and 6d. for a plot of waste beside his tenement. 15s.8d.
John Sawer holds::
(F) A messuage and 15 acres of land, formerly Robert's, William's son, and renders yearly 12s. 12s.2d.
John Johnson holds::
A messuage and 14 acres of land formerly Matilda de Morwicke's and renders yearly 11s.5d. 11s.7d.
(F) A messuage and toft, formerly Agnes Potter's, and renders yearly 2s.2d. 2s.4d.
A messuage and 8 acres of land inclosed, formerly William Mylner's and renders yearly 7s.6d. 7s.8d
(F) A messuage and 14 acres of land formerly Walter Scoles and renders yearly 10s.6d. 10s.8d.
A plot of waste in which there used to be the common oven and renders yearly 4d.
John Rawson holds::
A messuage and 18 acres of land, formerly Robert Dranecke's and renders yearly 16s. 16s.2d.
John Tailor holds::
(F) A messuage and 10 acres and 3 roods of land, formerly Richard Scoles, and renders yearly 9s. 9s.2d.
John Denny, Junr. and William Johnson Diconson hold jointly::
A messuage and an acre of land and render yearly 2s.2d. 2s.2d.
John Denny Senr. holds::
(F) A messuage and an acre of land formerly Robert Mabotson's and renders yearly 2s.8d. 2s.10d.
John Willeson holds::
A messuage and an acre of land, formerly Walter Ede's and renders 20d. 22d.
A messuage and nine acres of land, formerly John Egelare's and renders 7s.7d. 7s.9d.
William Johnson Deconson holds::
(F) Two messuages and 31 acres of land, formerly Nichola Scoles, and renders yearly 28s.3d. 24s.7d.
(F) A messuage and 16 acres, formerly Roger's, son of Robert, and renders yearly 13s.0¾d. 13s.2¾d.
John Burghe holds::
(F) Two messuages and 27 acres of land, formerly William de Scoles, and renders yearly 24s.4d. 24s.8d.

Similar tenants in the previous survey were described as 'bondmen' and here all their land is said to be held 'in bondage'. They were not free to leave the manor and had to swear allegiance to the lord and obey the customs of the manor and the rules of the manorial court. Their labour services are here described as those which 'John Marshall formerly did' but what these were is not clear although they are all released from these services on payment to the lord of 2d per messuage. These sums along with the rent were paid mainly at Martinmas and Pentecost, with a few payments at Easter and Michelmas and are included in the totals in the right hand column.

The number of tenancies is 21 compared with 11 in 1341, although the number of tenants is still 11 as in 1341. Using names, acreages and rents, it is possible to identify 10 of the 11 tenancies in the 1341 survey and these are marked (F). Tenants were able to pass on their tenancies to their wives or sons at their death but none of the surnames of the 1341 villeins occur in the 1425 survey. Some families could have been wiped out by the Black Death but surname evidence of family connection is uneliable as, at the time of the ealier survey, surnames were not fixed and not necessarily inherited. We see that by 1425, the 'son of' and the place name surnames 'Morwyk' and 'Scoles', have disappeared, possibly because they did not sufficiently distinguish between the families.

John Sawer is said to claim 'licence to collect small (sticks?) withered and blown down by the wind in Scoles wood', a right described in the previous survey. The following 14 tenancies are said to be 'as above' so we can conclude that these holdings too carried that right and so they were situated in Scholes, whereas the previous 6 were in Morwick.

The survey tell us that there were 3 tenants with 4 small holdings and two plots in Morwick. In Scholes, there were 8 tenants with 10 small holdings (two with two houses each), 4 messuages and one plot. The total rental is given as 10.9s.7d. It is likely that the Scholes land holdings were in an open field system, except for the 8 acres of John Johnson, which are said to be 'inclosed' and therefore separated from the rest.

Just as there was an increase in the number of villein tenant holdings between the two surveys, so too was there a growth in what were termed 'Leaseholders' in 1341 and 'Termors' in 1425. These involved land and property let out for rent at fixed terms of years and were not held in bondage, that is there were no labour services. All the rents were paid yearly.

John Wilson and William Jonson Diconson hold::
3 acres of land, formerly Thomas's, son of William Grenfeld 21d.
William Johnson Diconson holds::
A plot of waste besides Flatgappe newly taken in 1d.
John Willeson holds::
another parcel of waste newly taken in, formerly Wm. Watson's 7d.
John Marshall of Barnboghe holds::
Half an acre, formerly William Morwicke's 6d.
John Rausen holds:
A messuage, formerly parcel of Mykelenge, which used to be used for the reception of the parker of Scoles, formerly John Morwick's 2s.0d.
An acre of land in Le Stockinge, formerly Ellen Shephard's 12d.
A messuage with a croft, formerly Robert Sheperd's and 2d for a plot of waste newly taken in 14d..
A messuage and toft, formerly William Watson's 12d..
A messuage and toft, formerly Robert's, son of Nicholas 12d..
A messuage and toft, with a certain plot adjoining newly rented 8d.
William Sayner holds;:
A messauge, formerly Gilbert Lansnell's 6d..
A plot of land with a barn thereon 6d.
John Rausen and Willam Seyner hold::
A parcel of waste, late Richard Allome's 6d.
William Norton holds;:
The road toll (chiminag') over Wynmore 5s.0d.
All the community of the vill of Scholes render to the lord yearly to have a certain lane through the middle of the demesne meadow as far as the spring together with the easement of water. 3d.

Three of the named were villein tenants. The total yearly rent is given as 16s.6d. What a pity it is that the old field names are not still in use, which would allow us to identify where they were. The entries make it clear that land was beng taken in by the leaseholders from the waste or common with the lord's approval so increasing the amount of arable land. The road toll over Winmoor remained on paper at least for several centuries and was claimed by the lord of the manor in the enclosure award of 1804. The spring mentioned would be an important part of the water supply for Scholes and the 3d. charge for the use of the lane to it was paid by the 11 villein tenants.

The next section of the survey is entitled 'Assessed Ferms' ('Farmers' in 1341) and refers to the renting of valuable meadow land, much of which is shared.
John Rawson, William Johnson Dyconsen, John Sayner, John Tailor, John Johnson and John Willeson hold the capital messuage at will in common at the true value and render at Michaelmas 20s.0d.
John Rausen, Williaim Johnson Diconson, John Sayner, John Taillior and John Johnson hold in common a plot of demesne meadow containing 3 acres by estimation and render yearly at Martinmas and Pentecost for all things 18s.0d..
William Johnson Diconson, John Johnson and John Rauson hold a plot of meadow called Little Thurstonhaghe, at the will of the lord, containing an acre and a half by estimation & render yearly 4s.6d..
John Johnson holds a plot of meadow called Le Falles, containing an acre, at the will of the lord and renders yearly 2s.6d.

All the above named are villein tenants. The total rental given is 45s. Only the first two of the above holdings were present in the 1341 survey. Apart from the park, the mill is the only remaining former manorial monopoly and it is let out as the next entry headed 'Ferm' shows: "There is a certain windmill now demised to Willam Milner for 28s.4d. at the terms of Easter and Michaelmas which used to render 30s".

John Grenfeld holds:
The herbage of the park with the pannage and renders yearly 20s.0d.
A close, formerly three closes 26s.2d.
An acre and a half of land, lately William Watson's 4d.
Robert Hancock holds:
A close called Speightly 24s.0d.
Alfred Manston holds::
A close called Knavegreve 3s.4d.
A close called Le Stank 20s.0d.
A close called Litlestank 2s.7d
John Rauson holds:
A close called Hobclose 2s.0d.
A close called Jenkenflat 6s.3d.
John Denny, Senr. holds::
A close containing two acres 2s.0d
John Johnson holds::
A close containing three acres 3s.0d.
John Burghe holds:
A close containing 10 acres 3 roods 13s.3d.
John Rausen and Robert Wrightson holds::
A piece of land containing 16 acres 20s.0d.
William Sayner holds::
A close called P'ock containing three acres 3s.6d.
There is a certain outside wood the herbage of which is common pasture, the wood of which is worth yearly 3s. nil.

Three of the above are Scholes villein tenants. John Marshall and John Grenfeld are from Barnbow. In 1341 the park was let out to the wife of John Manston for 6.13s.4d and in 1425 to a number of tenants for a total rent of 7.6s.6d . The increase indicates that more of the parkland had been enclosed and ploughed.

The 1425 survey shows that there were 27 dwellings in the manor, giving a total population of about 120, compared with about 80 in 1341, a rise of 50%. The arable land has increased from about 290 acres to about 400 acres. Most of the land was rented by the villein tenants of the manor, some with considerable holdings. John Johnson rented from the lord of the manor three small holdings, another house, a close in the park and a share in most of the meadow land in the manor. Wiilam Johnson Diconson had two small holdings (one with two houses), a house and a share in another, and a share in a close. He also held some land in Barbow. John Rauson had a small holdings, 4 other houses, and several closes in the park and elsewhere. They would have rented out their surplus houses and although they are still classed as manorial tenants they are rapidly becoming landlords themselves.

What changes can be seen from 1341 to 1425 in the country as a whole and in Scholes. In England the total population had gone down by a third or more; in Scholes it had gone up by 50%. The arable land had decresed but in Scholes it had increassd by about a third. In the country as a whole, the manorial tenants were being phased out, in Scholes they had prospered.

Local historical records often illustrate national changes, putting them in a familiar setting. However in many respects, changes in medieval Scholes ran contrary to national trends, reminding us that rural England was made up at that time of thousands of small communities like Scholes, each with its own characteristics and history. Many of its present day inhabitants think Scholes is rather special and these historical records give plenty of evidence of this.

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