Introduction and Method
Summary Table
Bibliography and Thanks
The Lands of the King, Witham
The Fee of the Bishop of London, Howbridge Hall
The Land of Saint Edmunds, Benton Hall
The Lands of Count Eustace, Bluntshall and Witham
The Lands of Robert Gernon, Witham (Powers Hall), Howbridge Hall
The Lands of Ranulf Peverel, Bluntshall
The Land of Moduin, Witham

 The Lands of the King, part 1
The Lands of the King, part 1
1. Witham tenuit Haroldus tempore regis Eduardi pro I manerio & pro V hidis
2. modo custodit hoc manerium Petrus vicecomes in manu regis Tunc II carruce in
3. dominio modo III Tunc XXI villani modo XV tunc IX bordarii modo X Tunc VI servi modo
4. IX Tunc XXIII sochemani & modo similiter Tunc XVIII carruce hominum Modo VII
5. & hec perdicio fuit tempore sueani & baignardi vicecomitum & per mortem
1. Witham: held Harold in the time of King Edward, as 1 manor & as 5 hides (Harold held Witham).
2. Now looks after this manor, Peter the sheriff, in the hand[s] of the King. Then 2 ploughs on (Peter the sheriff looks after this manor)
3. the demesne, now 3. Then 21 villeins, now 15. Then 9 bordars, now 10. Then 6 serfs, now
4. 9. Then 23 sokemen and now the same. Then 18 ploughs of the men, now 7.
5. And this loss [of plough teams] was in the time of Suein & Baignard, the sheriffs, and by the death


 The Lands of the King, part 2
The Lands of the King, part 2
1. bestiarum Silva CL porci XXX acre prati Pastura que tunc reddebat
2. VI denarios modo XIIII Semper I molendinum Predicti sochemani tenent II hidas & I
3. virgam habentes II carrucas Tunc inter totum valuit X libras modo XX sed vicecomes
4. inter suas consuetudines & placita de dimidio hundreto recipit inde
5. XXXIIII libras & IIII libras de gersuma In dominio huius manerii recepit Petrus
1. of the beasts. Woodland [for] 150 pigs. 30 acres of meadow. Pasture which then rendered
2. 6 pence, now 14. Always 1 mill. The aforesaid sokemen hold 2 hides and 1
3. virgate, having 2 ploughs. Then, in all, it was worth 10 pounds, now 20, but the sheriff,
4. with his customary payments and the pleas of the half hundred, receives thence
5. 34 pounds & 4 pounds of fine. In the demesne of this manor, received Peter (Peter received)


 The Lands of the King, part 3
The Lands of the King, part 3
1. IIII & XXIIII animalia & CXXXVI porcos & CI oves Totum modo similiter
2. In hoc manerio adiacebant tempore regis eduardi XXXIIII liberi homines qui tunc reddebant X.
3. solidos de consuetudine & XI denarios; Ex illis tenet Ilbodus II de XLV acris & valent
4. VI solidos & reddent manerio suam consuetudinem Tedricus pointel VIII
5. de dimidia hida & XXII acris & dimidia reddentes consuetudinem & valent XX solidos
1. 4 [--s], & 24 beasts, & 136 pigs, & 101 sheep. The total now the same.
2. In this manor there belonged in the time of King Edward, 34 free men, who then rendered 10
3. shillings of customary payment and 11 pence. Out of these, holds Ilbodo 2, of 45 acres, and they are worth (Ilbodo holds 2)
4. 6 shillings, and render to the manor their customary payment. Tedric Pointel [holds] 8,
5. of half a hide & 22 acres and a half, rendering customary payment, and they are worth 20 shillings.


 The Lands of the King, part 4
The Lands of the King, part 4
1. Ranulfus piperellus X de II hidis & XLV acris non reddentes consuetudinem
2. & valent XV solidos Willielmus filius grosse V de I hida & XV acris unus tantum reddit
3. consuetudinem & valent III libras & XIII solidos Radulfus baignardus VI de dimidia hida
4. & XXXV acris unus reddit consuetudinem & valent XX solidos Hamo dapifer I
1. Ranulf Peverel [holds] 10, of 2 hides & 45 acres, not rendering customary payment,
2. and they are worth 15 shillings. William, son of Grosse, [holds] 5, of 1 hide & 15 acres; one only renders
3. customary payment, and they are worth 3 pounds and 13 shillings. Ralf Baignard [holds] 6, of half a hide,
4. & 35 acres, one renders customary payment, and they are worth 20 shillings. Hamo Dapifer [holds] 1,


 The Lands of the King, part 5
The Lands of the King, part 5
1. de dimidia hida / reddit consuetudinem / & valent XX solidos Goscelinus Loremarus habet terra unius & non reddit
2. consuetudinem scilicet I hidam quam calumpniant monachi sancte Adeldrede
3. de eli & Hundretum testatur eis de dimidia parte & de alia parte nichil
4. sciunt Tunc valuit C solidos modo LX & quando Goscelinus recepit C solidos Inter totum valuit
5. tempore regis eduardi XIIII libras II solidos minus modo XII libras & IX solidos
1. of half a hide, / renders customary payment, / and they are worth 20 shillings. Goscelin the lorimer has the land of one, and [does not] render
2. customary payment, namely 1 hide which claim the monks of Saint Ethelthryth (the monks of Saint Ethelthryth of Ely claim)
3. of Ely, and the Hundred testifies to them concerning a half part, and of the other part nothing (they know nothing)
4. they know. Then it was worth 100 shillings, now 60, and when Goscelin received [it], 100 shillings. In all, it [the manor] was worth
5. In the time of King Edward, 14 pounds, 2 shillings less, now 12 pounds and 9 shillings (less 2 shillings)


Many of the royal manors had unusually detailed entries such as this. In fact, Finn suggests that the initial idea of the Domesday might have been to survey the King's own holdings.

As in the rest of Essex and in Hertfordshire, the earlier ownership of the Crown property is ascribed to Harold, not Edward as was usual elsewhere in an attempt to ignore the defeated Harold. The end of the entry has an indication of how the information was collected by consulting the local people sitting in court of the Hundred (district), and how these people also helped to solve disputes.

It is not clear why two sets of monetary values were given for the manor, but the first set suggests that Peter the Sheriff had increased its productivity. In making his report, he was careful to disassociated himself from the loss of oxen from the plough-teams. A similar 'death of the beasts' was mentioned at Hatfield Broad Oak, and may refer to disease, which was common. But at Witham it could also be connected with location on the road from London to the coast. Finn notes a frequent loss of stock near this route, and suggests an association with the King's policy in 1085, of laying waste some coastal areas. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle points out that the intention was to thwart a threatened Scandinavian invasion, led by Cnut.

The extremely large number of freeholders and sokemen attached to this main Witham manor is very noticeable. It was the largest single group of them in Essex (see map below). They were more usually in a small minority, except in Suffolk and Norfolk, where there were large numbers. Lady Stenton attributes this distribution to the high degree of earlier Danish settlement in East Anglia. She writes that 'the free peasants who made up the Danish armies remained free when they became farmers'. The entry about Witham in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, relating to 913 A.D., may therefore be relevant. It says that 'a large number of people formerly under Danish domination' had submitted to King Edward after he had built the fortification, or 'burg' here. The latter is still traceable in the area round Witham railway station, which is in the middle of it.

Groups of Freeholders and Sokemen

By 1086, the seven individuals named in the text had taken over either the freemen's holdings or the right to receive an income from them. Most of the seven had other property in Essex, some quite near Witham. It is not clear what rights the Witham manor retained over these freeholds after 1086. Finn assumes that they had been taken from the King, and quotes this as an example of the intention of Domesday to survey such losses. But the Witham manor did have a large area of freehold in later years, which may represent some at least of the holdings concerned.

It is possible that more research into other documents might clarify the fate of the freeholders, and even allow the locations of some of the units to be guessed at. One part may have formed the later manor belonging to Witham Vicarage. Its land was west of Church Street, and it was also known as Hog End; it was surrounded by land belonging to the main Witham manor. But paying dues to Witham manor did not necessarily mean that the land concerned was in Witham parish. For instance, Rumble quotes the suggestion that the freehold hide of Goscelin the lorimer was in Terling.


© 1985 Janet Gyford