A Domesday Godric

A Domesday Godric in Burgh.  (In Edmund Oldfield's "Topographical and Historical Account of Wainfleet and the Wapentake of Candleshoe") on p88 it is stated: -

" ... The account of this parish in the record of Domesday is as follows. Land of Earl Alan. Soke..  In Burch [Burgh] is soke of Drayton.  One carucate and a half of land to be taxed.  Land to twelve oxen.  Three sokemen and two villanes and three bordars have there one plough and a half.  Land of Eudo, son of Spirewic. Calnodshow [sic - Candleshoe] Wapentake.  Manor in Burgh.  Godwin and Tochi and Godric had nine oxgangs of land to be taxed.  Land to as many oxen. ..."   

Note the "had".  If a correct translation of the actual entry, this tends to suggest dispossession.  Earl Alan was Earl of Britany and Richmond, and "Nephew to the Conqueror"  (note the capital 'n').  The writer continues:  "... In the division of the landed property of the kingdom, amongst the military adventurers who by their prowess advanced him to the throne, William gave to this Earl the confiscated estates of the Saxon Earl Edwin, the eldest son of Algar, Earl of Mercia.  If therefore the property possessed by the Earls of Richmond in Burgh, formed part of the immense estate of the unfortunate Edwin, it will of course follow that a part of this parish was prior to the conquest in the possession of the Earls of Mercia. ..." 

Under Scremby:- 

... "In the same Scremby Chetelber claims one carucate of Gilbert de Gand by Godric ... [ read: 'of Gaunt'  -  Gilbert ('g' pronounced as the 's' in 'pleasure') was William's wife Matilda's nephew and was rewarded with 172 lordships in different parts of the kingdom,  113 of them in Lincolnshire (seat at Falkingham) ]  ,... and they say that he had only  half a carucate, and the soke of it was in Bardney, and the jury of the wapentake say Chetelber claims it unjustly, because his predecessor forfeited it." ... 

Make of this what you will. But it seems to confirm my long gathering belief that during the Reformation many ancient unforgotten scores were settled  in so far as they could be and that Bishop Goodricke was (may have been) well aware that once long ago in the 11th century his forebears had been dispossessed here and there by the Conqueror and his tribe of Frenchmen.  Goodricke was a 'Saxon', OK! And the Tudor monarchs, representing the house of Lancaster (Bolingbroke) as they did, were because of John of Gaunt less of Norman descent than the house of York. And had not John of Gaunt supported the 'heretic' Wycliffe of the English Bible at the end of the 14th beginning of the 15th century. And was that not precisely what the Roman Catholic church wished to keep out of our churches (but Henry VIII let in) lest the people get wise to the ignorance of their priests and the depravity of their superstitions. 

 Units of Measure used in the Doomsday Book

Land Measure


In Saxon counties, land was measured by the hide, which was as much land as would support one free family and its dependants. On good land, this might be as little as 60 acres; but up to 240 acres on poor land. The term comes from the Old English hi(gi)d, from hiw-, hig-, household. The measurement was purely for assessing tax, and does not imply there actually were free families on the land. Smaller holdings were measured in the virgate, one quarter of a hide. while a quarter of a virgate was known as a furlong.


In Danish counties, the carucate was used, being the area an eight-oxen team could plough in a day. One-eight of a carucate was a bovate


In Kent the sulung was used, usually meaning 2 hides. One quarter of a sulung was a yoke.


Vineyards, and occasionally meadow, were measured by the arpent, 100 square perches.


Distances are sometimes expressed in the League. This was smaller than the present day unit, usually being 1½ miles.




In addition to the usual weights and measures, there were several specialised units for specific goods;



Type of goods


mitta salt 6 or 8 bushels
packload dry goods such as salt, corn or fish about 240lb.
sester mostly used for honey of variable size, but reckoned as 32 ounces
sticha eels 25




Money was expressed in the denarius, the english silver penny, which was the only coin in circulation in 1086. Other units did not correspond to any actual coin:


The solidus was 12d, the ora 16d or 20d, the silver mark 160, and the gold mark £6.


Glossary of terms used in the Doomsday Book


The Domesday Book contains many obsolete words, and translation of these into modern english can present problems. The translations here used cannot be exact; the nearest modern equivalent is given




DB Latin

assart To clear land, to turn woodland into arable or pastureland; land so cleared assart
before 1066 Tempore regis Edwardi, in King Edward's time T.R.E.
bodyguard The obligation to provide the king, or a lord, with a bodyguard during a visit heuuard
boor A cultivator, similar to the Old English (ge)bur, though probably of slightly lower status and on occasion in DB equated with the freed man burus
burgess Holder of land or a house in a borough burgus
cartage The obligation to provide mules or draught horses for the King's use avera
cottager Inhabitant of a cote, cottage, often without land cotarius
customary due A fixed rent or service payable at regular intervals consuetudo
defence obligation The obligation for military service or for payment in substitution for personal service wara
escort The obligation to provide the King with a mounted man for his service or protection inward
farmer Someone who agreed to pay the King, the Sheriff, or the lord of the manor a fixed sum of money in return for administering and receiving the rents, dues and profits from a manor firmarius
forest Not necessarily woodland, but land reserved for the King's hunting; usually under Forest Law controlled for the Forester rather than the Sheriff foras
freed man A former slave, sometimes holding land and ploughs and rendering dues colibertus
freeman 'Soke man', exercising or subject to jurisdiction; free from many villagers' burdens; before 1066 often with more land and higher status than villagers; sochemannus
frenchman A french settler, usually a Norman, of similar standing to a freeman francigena
full jurisdiction German Sache, English sake, Latin causa, affair, lawsuit; the fullest authority normally exercised by a lord saca
go where he will Landholder free to place himself under the protection of a lord of his own choosing  
half-hundred A small hundredum diminium Hundredum
holding Either a landholder's total holding, or land held by special grant feudum
honour A holding, or more often a group of holdings forming a large estate honor
housecarl Equivalent to a thane in Scandinavian parts of the country  
hundred A district within a shire, whose assembly of notables and village representatives usually met about once a month Hundredum
inland Equivalent to "in lordship". Such land was often exempt from tax inland
jurisdiction and (payment of) suit 'Soke', from Old English socn, seeking, comparable with Latin qustio. Jurisdiction, with the right to receive fines and other dues from those who paid suit to the court of the district in which such soca was exercised; jurisdiction included the right to settle a saca (dispute), and sometimes the terms soca and saca are used in combination to show that the jurisdiction is of the fullest sort soca
livery To be given rights or ownership of land as a gift from the King  
lordship The mastery or dominion of a lord; including ploughs, land, men, villages, etc, reserved for the lord's use; often concentrated in a home farm or demesne, a "Manor Farm" or "Lordship Farm" dominium
man To be someone's man, to owe obligations to, usually in the form of labour or service. A woman could be a man in this sense homo
manor A territorial and jurisdictional holding manerium
mill A watermill  
moneyer A person licensed to strike coins, receiving the dies from the government, and keeping 6 silver pennies in the pound  
outlier An outlying place, attached to a manor berewic
pannage Mast, or autumn feed for pigs, which were allowed to graze freely on the acorns and beechnuts on the woodland floor. The right to pannage is still part of some forest laws  
plough A plough, with the oxen which pulled it, usually reckoned as 8 caruca
predecessor Person whom a tenant had followed in the rightful possession of his holding; also the previous holder of an office antecessor
presentation A payment for fishing rights presentationes
reeve Old English gerafa A royal officer præpositus
relief Money or kind paid to a lord by relatives after a man's death in order for them to inherit heriot
revenue Old English feorm, provisions due to the King or lord; a fixed sum paid in place of these and of other miscellaneous dues firma
rider, riding-man Riding escorts for a lord. radman, radcaitt
seat The principal manor of a lord caput
sheriff The royal officer of a shire, managing its judicial and financial affairs  
slave A man or woman who owed personal service to another, and was un-free, and not able to move home or work or change allegiance, to buy or sell, without permission  
smallholder Cultivator of inferior status, usually with a little land bordarius
steersman The commander of a ship  
tax The principal royal tax, originally levied during the Danish wars, normally at an equal number of pence on each hide of land geldum
thane Person holding land from the King by special grant; formerly used of the King's ministers and military companions teignus
third penny The local earl's share of fines in shire or hundred courts, often allocated afterwards to a particular manor or church as a regular income  
the lord's or household Belonging to a lord or lordship dominicus
tributary A person who paid tribute in money rather than in work, censarius
tribute Old English gafol, tribute or tax to the King or lord gablum
under the patronage of Relating to the situation in which a free man gave up rights over his land to someone who could guarantee his protection commendatus
under-tenant Tenant holding land from a main landholder or tenant-in-chief  
village or town Translating Old English tun, town. The later distinction between a small village and a large town was not yet in use in 1086 villa
villager Member of a villa, usually with more land than a bordarius villanus
wapentake The equivalent of a Hundred, in the Danish counties of England wapentac
warland Land which was liable for tax, in contrast to inland  
waste Land which was either unusable or uncultivated, and in any case not taxed. Although sometimes waste was the result of William's wars in the North, it could simply mean land not fit for agricultural use.





Saxon Charters




 K. iv, 299 (no. 966).-B, iij, 282 (no. I062).-Chron. Rames (R..S. 83), 6z.

 [Latin] " In the name of God. I AElfhelm and AEffe my wife make known by witness of this writing, to Ailwyn the eorlderman and many of our friends with him, that for the saving of our souls we have given and granted to God and to St. Benedict of Rameseie the land of

                         SAXON CHARTERS

 Hattenleia and the land of Pottune, with all that belongs to the same lands, for an everlasting gift of free alms. And in order that it may be held fit and firm in a genera­tion yet to be born, we have strengthened the gift of our piety by the aid of this writing under the witness of all of them at Wathamstede."


 K., Vi, 211 (no. I352).

 [Saxon].   " Here is, on this Christ's book, the witness of the half hide at Pottune, which AEfhelm gave to Leof­sige his goldsmith, for his life, and after life to deal as might best him please. There were these for witness whose names are shown.

 AElfhelm, his lord.                Wulfmaer, the bishop's brother.

 Byrhtnoth, abbot.                  AElmaer Cild.

 AElfgar, monk.                     Leofric, at Holewelle.

 AElfhelm the younger.           Godric, his son.

 AEpelhric}                            AEpelric, at Hernicwelle.

 AElfwold }his twain sons.      AEfsige, priest. Osferth, priest."



 K., iv, 299 (no. 967).----B., iii, 629 (no, I306).-T. 596. [Saxon]. " Here is the declaration how AElfhelm has disposed of his property and his possessions, before God and before the world. That then is first, to his lord a hundred mancuses of gold, and two swords, and four shields, and four spears, and four horses, two caparisoned and two not caparisoned. . . . . And I give to AElfmaer and his brother AElfstan the two lands in severalty at Haettanlea and a Pottune, except that which I give to Osgar. . . . If ever any one avert or withdraw anything from this bequest, be from him God's mercy and his eternal reward for ever withdrawn, and he be never found in his mercy, but be he excommunicated from the com­munity of all the chosen companies of Christ, unless he the more quickly that forsake and again turn to right." (Thorpe's translation).



 K., iv, 265 (no. 928).-Chron. Rames. (R.S. 83), r I z. [Latin] " I Godric grant to God and to St. Benedict of Ramesia after my life my land of Turingtona *, so, namely, that the abbot of the said church, Eadnoth my brother, may acquit it of the service which in English is called heregeat, in Latin relief of inheritance, which is wont to be paid to the lords by free heirs after the death of their fathers.  I grant also to my younger son Eadnott the land of Acleya."



 K. iv, 257 (no. 919).-T. 585.-Chron, Rames. (R.S. 83), 173.

 [Latin]      " Be it known to all who read these that I Eadnoth and my wife have given and granted to God and to St. Benedict of Ramesia our land of Acleia as everlasting alms for the souls of us and of our fathers and mothers and of our children. Now this is the agree­ment which we have made with AElfwin the Abbot and the convent of Ramesia, indeed in our life-time.

  * Thorington, co. Suffolk.

 We shall hold the land in the name of the church, but neither of us shall be able for any reason to give it elsewhere or to part it, or to seek a way by which it may be severed from the demesne of the said church; but after the death of both me and my wife, the whole shall pass together quit and free from all claim to the hand of the abbot and brethren. And when they shall hold it in demesne, they shall find therefrom two pounds in every year for AEtheric monk, our son, for clothing, in so far as AEtheric in view of this award may be humble and devout towards God, and biddable also to the abbot and his brethren.    And if he by hap shall wish to return [to the world] andleave his frock and the monastery, let him take nothing at all further therefrom.          And we have granted to Lefwin our man that virgate of land in which he has his dwelling, quit for his life; but after his death it shall return to the ownership of the church together with the main part; and we have given freedom to one half of the men who live .in serfdom on the land aforesaid. We pray therefore and beseech in the fearful name of God that no one shall grant or sell or in any wise part this land from the same church. But if any one shall have done this, be he accursed and cut off from all blessedness of the life now and of that to come, and be his dwelling with devils in hell, where their fire is not quenched and their worm dieth not."


 AEthelstan Manessunu, when parting his lands which lay mainly in Hunts. and Beds., gave Clapham to his wife with remainder to Ramsey Abbey, and two hides at Hatley to his second daughter; to Leofsige (Lefsi) he gave the rest of his land at Hatley, and to his brother's son Potton, after the death of Affa, if he could prove against her that she had not power to give it to any one.      'This he failed to do (Chron. Rames. R.S. 83, 59-b2).   Conse­quently Affa was able to dispose of it by the foregoing deed (no. vii).   


 How the pedigrees shown below are con­nected is not known; but Leofsige, who received grants from both AEthelstan and AERlfhelm described in the, Ramsey Chronicle as kinsman to both of them. It is reasonable to suppose that this is the same Leofsige as received land in Potton by no. viii., and further land in no. ix.

 There can be little doubt that the Godric who married AElfhelm's daughter was Godric, brother of Eadnoth. AElfhelm himself is said (Cart. Rames., iii, 166) to have given Eccleye (probably = Accleye, in D.B. Achelai = Oakley ; but might possibly have been misread for Ettley ? = Hettenleye = Hatley) and Potton to Ramsey.

 Of the other folk mentioned in these charters AEthelwin (Ailwyn), eorlderman of the East Angles, " the friend of God," was son of AEthelstan Half-King, and thus a connection of AElfhelm ; with St. Oswald, Archbishop of York, he founded Ramsey Abbey in 969, Eadnoth was brought by St. Oswald in 970 to be first Prior, then Abbot of Ramsey ; he became Bishop of Dorchester in 1008, and was killed in 1016 by the Danes at the. battle of Assan­dune, whither he went to pray for the success of the English arms.

 Of course, there are many other Oakleys, and (Oakley in Northamptonshire has been suggested as the subject of charters x. and xi. But its collocation with undoubted Bedfordshire vills in the confirmation charter of the Con­fessor seems to point definitely to our Oakley. In Domes­day Book the Abbot of Ramsey does not appear in possession of any Oakley, and the reason is probably given by the wail of the Chronicler about another estate : " But in what way we have lost all these lands we learn neither from writing nor tradition; but, as is believed, on the coming of the Normans-strangers seizing at their pleasure things strange to them-they allotted them all to a strange ownership, and our lot was to be lamented." (Chron. Rames. 172).