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THE DOMESDAY BOOK 1086 - Instructions and Extract


Inquisitio Eliensis . Domesday Book: Additamenta, p. 495. Latin.

[TR Introduction] The first approach to a modern assessment roll or cataster is the well known Domesday Book. The existing literature on this remarkable memorial is so extensive, that it has not appeared advisable to quote largely from it. Our first quotation contains the instructions issued to the Commissioners who made the record. The second is a specimen return. There is a wide variety in the returns, though certain factors recur constantly in each statement. The survey is the most extensive document, embracing as it does the entire area of England held by the Conqueror, which we possess in regard to medieval times. It is important to note how the feudal power as founded by William is no longer dependent like the Empire of Charles upon the personal estates of the crown, but brings the entire land under its influence through the feudal dues, and thus paves the way for the modern state founded upon the obligations of all its citizens.


Here is subscribed the inquisition of lands as the barons of the king have made inquiry into them; that is to say by the oath of the sheriff of the shire, and of all the barons and their Frenchmen, and the whole hundred, the priests, reeves, and six villains of each manor; then, what the manor is called, who held it in the time of king Edward, who holds now; how many hides, how many plows in demesne, how many belonging to the men, how many villains, how many cottars, how many serfs, how many free-men, how many socmen, how much woods, how much meadow, how many pastures, how many mills, how many fish-ponds, how much has been added or taken away, how much it was worth altogether at that time, and how much now, how much each free man or soeman had or has. All this threefold, that i8 to say in the time of king Edward, and when king William gave it, and as it is now; and whether more can be had than is had.


Domesday Book , Vol. 2, pp 153-l54. Latin.

The land of Robert Malet.

Fredrebruge Hundred and half Glorestorp. Godwin, a freeman, held it. Two carucates of land in the time of king Edward. Then and afterwards 8 villains; now 3. Then and afterwards 3 bordars; now 5. At all times 3 serfs, and 30 acres of meadow. At all times 2 carucates in demesne. Then half a carucate of the men, and now. Woods for 8 swine, and 2 mills. Here are located 13 socmen, of 40 acres of land. When it was received there were 2 r.,' now 1. At all times 8 swine, then 20 sheep, and it is worth 60 shillings.

There is situated there, in addition, one berewick, as the manor of Heuseda. In the time of king Edward, 1 carucate of land; then and afterwards 7 villains, now 5. At all times 12 bordars, and 3 serfs, and 40 acres of meadow; 1 mill. Woods for 16 swine and 1 salt pond and a half Then 1 r., and now and 14 swine, 30 sheep, and 50 goats. In this berewick are located 3 socmen, of 10 acres of land, and it is worth 30 shillings. The two manors have 2 leagues in length and 4 firlongs in breadth. Whosoever is tenant there, returns 12 pence of the twenty shillings of geld.

Scerpham Hundred Culverstestun Edric held it in the time of king Edward. Two carucates of land. At all tomes there were 4 villains, and 1 bordar, and 4 serfs; 5 acres of meadow and two carucates in the demesne. Then and afterwards 1 carucate, now one-hal£ At all times 1 mill and one fish-pond. Here is located 1 socmen of the king, of 40 acres of land; which his predecessors held only as commended and he claims his land from the gift of the king. Then and afterwards there was one carucate, now 2 bovates, and 2 acres of meadow. At all times two r.[note: word indicated by "r" has not been identified] , and 4 geese; then 300 sheep, now 300 less 12; then 16 swine now 3. Then and afterwards it was worth 60 shillings, now 80; and there could be one plow. Walter of Caen holds it from Robert.

Heinstede Hundred. In Sasilingaham Edric, the predecessor of Robert Malet, held 2 sokes and a half, of 66 acres of land, now Walter holds them. Then 9 bordars, now 13. At all times 3 carucates and a half among all, and 3 acres of meadow, and the eighth part of a mill; and under these 1 soke of 6 acres of land. At all times half a carucate. Then it was worth 30 shillings, now it returns 50 shillings.

In Scotessa Ulcetel was tenant, a free man commended to Edric, in the time of king Edward of 30 acres of land. At that time 1 bordar, afterward and now 2. Then half a carucate, none afterward nor now. It was at all times worth 5 shillings and 4 pence; the same.

From University of Pennsylvania. Dept. of History: Translations and Reprints from the Original Sources of European history, published for the Dept. of History of the University of Pennsylvania., (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press [1897?-1907?])Vol III:2, pp.6-7.

This text is part of the Internet Medieval Source Book. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts related to medieval and Byzantine history.

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(c)Paul Halsall August 1996
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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 5 June 2023 [CV]