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Medieval Sourcebook:
A Manorial Court: 1246-1249

A selection of the type of pleas heard in a manorial court.

John Sperling complains that Richard of Newmere on the Sunday next before S. Bartholomew's day last past with his cattle, horses, and pigs wrongfully destroyed the corn on his [John's] land to his damage to the extent of one thrave of wheat, and to his dishonour to the extent of two shillings; and of this he produces suit. And Richard comes and defends all of it. Therefore let him go to the law six handed. His pledges, Simon Combe and Hugh Frith.

Hugh Free in mercy for his beast caught in the lord's garden. Pledges, Walter Hill and William Slipper. Fine 6d.

[The] twelve jurors say that Hugh Cross has right in the bank and hedge about which there was a dispute between him and William White. Therefore let him hold in peace and let William be distrained for his many trespasses. (Afterwards he made fine for 12d.)

Roger Pleader is at his law against Nicholas Croke [to prove] that neither he [Roger] nor his killed [Nicholas's] peacock. Pledges, Ringer and Jordan. Afterwards he made his law and therefore is quit. From the whole township of Little Ogbourne, except seven, for not coming to wash the lord's sheep, 6s. 8d.

Gilbert Richard's son gives 5s. for licence to marry a wife. Pledge, Seaman. Term [for payment,] the Purification.

William Jordan in mercy for bad ploughing on the lord's land. Pledge, Arthur. Fine, 6d.

The parson of the Church is in mercy for his cow caught in the lord's meadow. Pledges, Thomas Ymer and William Coke.

From Martin Shepherd 6d. for the wound that he gave Pekin.

Ragenhilda of Bec gives 2s. for having married without licence. Pledge, William of Primer.

Walter Hull gives 13s. 4d. for licence to dwell on the land of the Prior of Harmondsworth so long as he shall live and as a condition finds pledges, to wit, William Slipper, John Bisuthe, Gilbert Bisuthe, Hugh Tree, William Johnson, John Hulle, who undertake that the said Walter shall do to the lord all the services and customs which he would do if he dwelt on the lord's land, and that his heriot shall be secured to the lord in case he dies there [i.e. at Harmondsworth].

The Court presented that William Noah's son is the born bondman of the lord and a fugitive and dwells at Dodford. Therefore he must be sought. They say also that William Askil, John Parsons and Godfrey Green have furtively carried off four geese from the vill of Horepoll.

It was presented that Robert Carter's son by night invaded the house of Peter Burgess and in felony threw stones at his door so that the said Peter raised the hue. Therefore let the said Robert be committed to prison. Afterwards he made fine with 2s.

All the ploughmen of Great Ogbourne are convicted by the oath of twelve men ... because by reason of their default [the land] of the lord was ill-ploughed whereby the lord is damaged to the amount of 9s.... And Walter Reaper is in mercy for concealing [i.e. not giving information as to] the said bad ploughing. Afterwards he made fine with the lord with I mark.


from F. W. Maitland, ed., "Select Pleas in Manorial Courts," in G. G. Coulton, ed., Social Life in Britain from the Conquest to the Reformation, (London: Cambridge University Press, 1918), pp. 306-308

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.

Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright. Permission is granted for electronic copying, distribution in print form for educational purposes and personal use. If you do reduplicate the document, indicate the source. No permission is granted for commercial use.

(c)Paul Halsall Feb 1996
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© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 12 June 2023 [CV]