Glossary of terms for the local or family historian
Advowson - the guardianship or patronage of an ecclesiastical house or benefice
Amercy Impose a
Assert-a term which is usually applied to medieval clearance. It is a piece of land, often of irregular shape, brought into cultivation from the waste, especially woodland.
Bailiff - oversaw day-to-day
running of a manor
Balks narrow lands which, in the late medieval period, were allowed to grass over.
Beast-gate - a right of pasturing for a season at a fixed price per animal.
Bercary sheep farm
Berewick outlying manor
Booth - summer pasture
Bovate 1/8 hide = oxgang
Carucate - A measure of land
equivalent to the area that could be ploughed in a year by one plough and eight
Chattel - A moveable possession, that is personal goods such as furniture, livestock, jewellery.
Chief rent - An annual charge on freehold property found in certain parts of Britain. The chief rent is payable by the freeholder in perpetuity although the amount cannot be increased.
Court baron - court held by
the lord of the manor for his local tenants to administer the customs of the
manor and enforce payment of dues and services
Court leet - dealt with the administration of local justice for common offences
Croft an enclosed piece of land which contains a house and land for cultivation and for keeping a small number of of domestic farm animals. It was long, narrow and individually occupied.
Demesne - a) Land held and worked by the owner for the maintenance of his or her own household, i.e. not let to a subordinate tenant. b) The land immediately adjacent to a manor-house etc. retained by the owner for his or her own use; the park, home farm, etc.
Doles The division of
common pasture into strips. The size of a holding in the common meadow depended
on how many yardlands a peasant possessed in the open fields.
Domesday Survey was commissioned by William the Conqueror at Christmas 1085. It means final argument
Fee - In the medieval
period, a knights fee was the land or property held by a knight in return for
service to his lord. The amount of land or property varied. Later, a fee came to
mean freehold property which could be inherited.
Fee farm - land held of another in fee, in consideration of an annual rent, without homage, fealty, or any other service than that mentioned in the feoffment; an estate in fee simple, subject to a perpetual rent.
Frankpledge - The court held biannually by the Sheriff of the hundred or the manorial lord on his tour of the hundred to check upon tithing and assizes.
Fulling scouring and beating of mill resulting in removal of grease using water power
Glebe land - A piece of land assigned as part of a parish clergyman's living.
Haies - ridges of land that separated each district
representative, leader of their village
Heriot>> - A tribute, orig. the return of military equipment, later the best live beast or dead chattel or a money payment, made to a lord on the death of a tenant.
Heriotable - subject or liable to the payment of heriots
Imprimis - especially
In annis in the year of
Locative surnames (pertaining to location) came after the Conquest
Lynchet - an artificial bank formed by a build up or loss of soil against a field boundary, or deliberately produced as the downslope edge of a cultivation terrace on a slope. Lynchets are usually found running along slopes and accumulate soil upslope, derived from downward movement of soil after ploughing, which is trapped by the boundary. They also lose soil downslope where ploughing cuts into the slope. Where a boundary has later been removed, a lynchet is often the main surviving evidence that a wall or hedge once existed. Those forming cultivation terraces often appear in groups and date from the medieval period and once lay within strip fields.
Moiety - A half.
Oxgang - A measure of land
equivalent to an eighth of a carucate. In practice about 15 acres. An
agricultural unit used by the Danish in Danelaw
Paine Used to refer to the orders and byelaws imposed by the manor court. A jury was said to lay a paine (i.e. make an order).
Patten - a) Any of various former kinds of shoe, esp. one into which the foot was slipped or one made of wood. b) A round plate of wood fastened under the hoof of a horse to prevent it from sinking in boggy ground.
Pingle A small enclosed piece of land; a paddock, a close.
Pinner - An officer of a manor, in charge of impounding stray animals.
Pledge (Assurance) was the basis of the mediaeval system of frankpledge; the good behaviour of an individual member of the community was the responsibility of that individual himself and his neighbours.
Sleat bait an animal with dogs
Strike - A unit of dry capacity usually equal to a bushel, but occasionally equal to either half a bushel or two or four bushels. Also, a measuring vessel containing this quantity
Tenant at will - often the poorest and most vulnerable. Tenants at will held their land at the will of the lord of the manor
Tithes - were payments made
from early times for the support of the parish church and its clergy. Originally
these payments were made in kind (crops, wool, milk, young stock, etc.) and
usually represented a tenth of the yearly production of cultivation or
Predial tithes were the products of crop husbandry - such as grain, woodland, vegetables.
Mixed tithes were the products of animal husbandry - such as calves, lambs, wool and milk.
Personal tithes were the profits of man's labour - such as fishing or milling (and largely insignificant after 1549).
It is more usual to refer to tithes as "Great Tithes" and "Small Tithes". The great tithes, also known as the "rectorial tithes", were payable to the rector and generally comprised the predial tithes of corn, grain, hay and wood while the small tithes, also known as the "vicarial tithes", were payable to the vicar and comprised all other tithes.
The ownership of tithe was a property right that could be bought and sold; leased or mortgaged; assigned to others. This resulted in many of the rectorial tithes passing into lay hands - particularly after the dissolution of the monasteries. These tithes then became the personal property of the new owners, or lay impropriators. A vicar usually continued to have the spiritual care of the parish and to receive the vicarial tithes.
From early times money payments had begun to be substituted for payments in kind. Fixed sums (moduses) were substituted for some categories of production, particularly for livestock and perishable produce; while adjustable payments known as compositions, which were sometimes assessed annually, were increasingly being substituted in local arrangements in latter years
Tithes were still payable in a majority of English parishes in 1836. The early nineteenth century had been an age of much political, social and economic reform. There had been an increasing demand for the Commutation of Tithe (some reformers campaigned for the abolition of tithe) and in 1836 the government of the day successfully steered the Tithe Commutation Bill through Parliament. The Act received the Royal Assent on 13 August 1836. It was this Act that was to allow the substitution of a money payment - the tithe rent-charge - for payment in kind.
The 1836 Act set up the Tithe Commission headed by three Commissioners sitting in London: William Balmire, Thomas Wentworth Buller and the Rev. Richard Jones. William Balmire was the chairman. A Cumberland farmer, he had to resign as M.P. on his appointment to the Commission. The Rev. Richard Jones was the Archbishop of Canterbury's nomination.
The first tasks of the Commissioners were to ascertain to what extent commutation had already taken place, and also to establish the boundaries of every unit in which tithes were paid separately. This unit was known as a tithe district to distinguish it from a parish or township. Enquiries were directed to every parish or township listed in the census returns. The results of these enquiries are found in the Tithe Files (Class IR18 in the Public Record Office). Tithe districts are usually parishes, but a minority are townships, and a handful are chapelries, hamlets, extra-parochial places, many of which enjoyed separate status solely for tithe commutation purposes.
There were two distinct stages to the commutation process; first the fixing of a global assessment for the tithe district and then the apportioning of the tithe rent-charge on the individual properties.
The maps vary considerably in accuracy depending on the skill of the many hundreds of local surveyors employed on the task.
Toft - A house, possibly
Vaccary cattle farm
Virgate 2 bovate Tenant known as virgater or yardlander
Wapentakes meeting which starts by the brandishing of a weapon The word was probably derived from an assembly or meeting place, usually at a cross-roads or near a river, where a vote was taken by a show of weapons, "weapon touch".
Waulk mill primitive powered by treadmill