Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Siston manor, Gloucestershire in 1273 and 1309

Siston manor, Gloucestershire in 1273 and 1309

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

Siston is a small village and parish at the southern end of the County of Gloucestershire which contains 1,827 acres.[1] It is situated about 7 miles east of Bristol Castle, ancient centre of Bristol. The village lies at the confluence of the two sources of the Siston Brook, a tributary of the River Avon. The village consists of a number of cottages and farms centred on St Anne's Church, and the grand Tudor manor house of Siston Court.

The early history of Siston from 1086 to about 1220 was recorded in an earlier article = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2014/10/siston-gloucestershire-c1086-to-c1220.html = follow the link. In this article we focus on two inquisitions taken in 1273 and 1309 in which we get a picture of the manor and some of the people living and working within.

Siston in 1273

On Thursday in Easter week 1273 an inquisition post mortem was taken at Siston in Gloucestershire, before Sir Robert de Kyngeston, sub-escheator of the county, into the lands held by Robert Waleraund, lately deceased, in the manor of Siston. The jury of twelve good men: Adam Malet, Nicholas Joy, Roger de Hildesle, Hugh de Leytrinton, Richard Poyntel, John Woodcock, Reginald de la Leyegrave, Geoffrey de Fraxino, Thomas de Doynton, William de Ston, Walter le Hope and John de Werneleye found the following information:[2]

Robert Waleraund held the manor of Siston from Lord Henry de Berkeley, Lord of Dursley by the service of one knight’s fee. The manor had one capital messuage with a garden and curtilage which was worth 1 mark. There was a dovecote worth 5 shillings.

Demesne lands 1273

There was two carucates of land in the old demesne worth 50 shillings per year and there was two carucates of new land marled worth 100 shillings. There were 30 acres of meadow worth 60 shillings and several plots of pasture worth 20 shillings. There were two parks and the pasture of same worth 20 shillings. The sale of underwood was worth 1 mark per year while pannage in the parks was worth ½ mark per year. Elsewhere the common pasture of Kingswood and the surrounding area was worth 5 shillings. There were three small vivaries worth 3 shillings.

Tenants in 1273

The rent of the assizes of the free tenants per year was 112 shillings 7½ pence. This was broken down into 16 shillings 3¼ pence at Easter, £4 (80s) at the feast of St. John the Baptist, and 16s 3¼ pence at Michaelmas along with one pound (lb) of pepper. The rent of the customary tenants at Michaelmas was worth 40 shillings. There were twelve customary tenants each holding half a virgate of land and each half virgate was worth in customs and services 6 shillings 2 pence. There were another fourteen customary tenants holding 1 farthindeal of land each and each farthindeal was worth 2 shillings 8½ pence.

In addition to the above there were five cottagers worth 7 shillings 8 pence in all customs and services. The advowson of the church of Siston was worth 5 marks while the pleas and perquisites of the manor court were worth half mark per year.[3] Attached to Siston manor was the manor of Cobberleye which was held by Giles de Berkeley for the service of one knight’s fee. The total value of the manor of Siston was £28 15shillings 2½ pence and 1 lb of pepper.[4]

The inquisition post mortem of 1273 does not give any names of the tenants and it is uncertain if any of the jurymen were tenants. One of the jurymen, Hugh de Leytrinton, was also on the jury in 1273 at Oldbury for the inquisition post mortem for Nicholas Bordun.[5] Elsewhere we learn that Miles de Langley received a messuage and a third of a ploughland in Siston from Matthew de Bredenwick and Isabel his wife.[6]

Siston manor heirs in 1273

Robert Waleraund left no children by his wife, Matilda Russell, daughter of Ralph Russell, and thus Siston became the inheritance of Robert Waleraund, son of Sir William Waleraund, brother of the deceased Robert Waleraund.[7]

Church of St. Ann at Siston

Siston in 1309

The Robert Waleraund who inherited Siston and other lands in Gloucestershire in 1273 died in the reign of Edward II without leaving any males heirs. Siston and the other lands passed to his nephew, John Waleraund. But John Waleraund was declared an idiot and so the king acquired control of the entire Waleraund property. In 1309 a number of inquisitions were held across Gloucestershire and on various dates into the Waleraund property. The inquisition for Siston was taken at Bristol on 20th March 1309 and its findings were retaken in the same form at Wotton on 9th September 1309.[8]

Demesne lands in 1309

The capital messuage with the garden, curtilage and the dovecote was worth 10 shillings. There was 300 acres within the demesne worth 75 shillings or 3 pence per acre. There was 40 acres of meadow worth 40 shillings or 12 pence per acre. The several plots of pasture (total of 40 acres) were worth 20 shillings or 6 pence per acre. The sale of herbage and underwood of the two parks (containing 90 acres) was worth 20 shillings. Also attached to the demesne lands was a certain pasture at Doynton worth 30 shillings. The total value of the demesne lands was £9 15 shillings.[9]

Tenants in 1309

There was in 1309 five free tenants at Siston holding various tenements and paying at the assizes of Easter and Michaelmas 32 shillings 7½ pence in equal portions. There was £4 rent due from the land of Cobberleye in 1309 from Thomas le Botiler which gave a total rent of the assizes of 112 shillings 7½ pence.[10] This was the same total amount as collected in 1273.[11]

What is different about the 1309 inquisition compared to that of 1273 is in the following details of who holds what within the manor of Siston and what labour services they are obliged to give to the lord of the manor.

Work services of the tenants

Richard de Wurmelegh held one messuage and twenty acres of land in villeinage. If Richard paid rent for this land it was not stated. Instead something more important than money rent was stated and that was the work service due to the lord of the manor. In an agricultural environment, in the days before modern machinery, having people to do the work was most important.

Services of Richard de Wurmelegh and his group of tenants

The labour service of Richard de Wurmelegh to the manor was to give 66 manual works between the feast of St. Michael (29th September) and the feast of St. John the Baptist (24th June). These works were worth 2 shillings 9 pence or ½ pence per work.[12] The heavier demand on tenant work service was made in the autumn to spring time with thrashing of the corn. There was also work with sowing and harrowing. Timber was also cut at this time for building or firewood.[13] Another task was hedge planting and removal. The hedges were removed to allow the cattle to walk across the stubble fields and fertilize the said fields. In May and June the third field would be prepared for a period of fallow.[14]

Between the feasts of St. John the Baptist and that of St. Michael, Richard de Wurmelegh was to give 26 manual works, valued at 2 shilling 2 pence or 1 penny per work.[15] This was the important time of the year with haymaking and cutting the corn. Hay was the principal winter feed.[16] Furthermore Richard de Wurmelegh was to give 3 days’ ploughing for winter sowing and 3 days ploughing for spring sowing during Lent along with another 3 days ploughing of fallow land. The full value of this ploughing was 18 pence or 2 pence per day.[17]

Wheat was the usual crop planted at wintertime with oats and barley at springtime. The inquisition does not say if Richard de Wurmelegh provided a plough team, or part of a team, for the work. A full plough team would be of six or eight oxen. It is possible that Richard provided the team as he would need the plough team for his own work. His neighbours would help Richard with his own ploughing and he would help them.[18]

Richard de Wurmelegh was to give one day sowing beans on the lord’s land and this work was worth a half pence. Beans were a popular food and were mixed with pork or other meat at cooking time to make a good sustenance meal. Richard de Wurmelegh was also to spend one day carrying hay and this work was worth 2 pence. Finally at Christmas time Richard de Wurmelegh was to give the lord a hen worth one penny and this was called Wodehen. There were eleven other customars who held the same amount of property and performed the same work duties as Richard.[19]

Ploughing and harvesting on a medieval manor

Services of John Barry and his group of tenants

Another group of ten customars, led by John Barry, held ten acres of land each in villeinage. They gave the following labour services: 98 manual works from the feast of St. Michael to the feast of St. Michael and these were worth 5 shillings 2 pence. The value of the works was broken into 72 works worth half pence and 26 works worth 1 penny. John Barry gave one day planting beans (worth half pence) and one day of weeding with one man (worth half pence) and another one day putting the lord’s hay into cocks (worth 1 penny).[20] 

On monastic estates it is sometimes noted that tenants were to receive food and drink as an allowance for their work. Tenants of the Abbot of Titchfield got bread and beer with flesh or fish for haymaking. On secular estates it appears that no such food allowance was given except may be at the corn harvest.[21] 

Services of Roger Tegelyn and his group of tenants

Roger Tegelyn led another group of three customars who held one cottage and one acre of land for which they paid rent of 12 pence per year (3 pence on 4 separate days) and gave a hen worth one penny to the lord at Christmas. The labour services of this group were to give 3 days’ raising the lord’s hay (worth half pence per day) and 2 days tossing the hay (worth one penny per day).[22]

It is interesting that tenants within the group of Richard de Wurmelegh provided the heavy work like ploughing while those in the groups of John Barry and Roger Tegelyn gave work services that didn’t need oxen as they didn’t have the land to keep the oxen. Another task needing oxen was the carrying obligations. This involved transporting the produce of the manor to market and also returning with goods that the manor could not produce itself.[23]

In addition to these services each customar was to give 3 bedripes in autumn, 75 in total (worth 9 shillings 4½ pence or 1½ pence per work). The same customars were to give a certain tallage at the feast of St. Martin to the lord’s larder, worth 34 shillings.

As the fourteenth century progressed, the work services of tenants was increasing changed to work service in return for pay rather than work service to pay the lord rent for their holding. The scarcity of labour after the Black Death caused an increase in the wages of agricultural labourers which the government tried to suppress. Many lord’s tried to hold onto to the customary services but the increasing opportunities for work with a rising middle class of farmers kept up competition for labour and the increasing use of wages in exchange for work.[24]

Cottages and the manor court

At Siston in 1309 were a further twenty-four people who held one cottage each and paid 28 shillings 8 pence in total rent per year. It is possible that some of the people living in these cottages were the permanent workers on the demesne lands. There were also forty-four acres of land newly given to eleven free tenants for a rent of 15 shillings per year, paid over the four feast days of St. Thomas the Apostle, the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, the Nativity of St. John the Baptist and the feast of St. Michael. The pleas and perquisites of the manor court were worth 13 shillings 4 pence which gave a sum total of 57 shillings. The value of the entire manor was given as £27 5shillings 11½ pence.[25]

The total value of Siston manor in 1309 is less than in 1273 but the 1309 inquisition makes no mention and gives no value for the advowson of Siston church which, in 1273, was worth 5 marks or £3 7shillings. Excluding the advowson and adding other values such as the pleas of the manor court, which doubled in value, the value of Siston had increased over the thirty-six years. The bad years were still to come in the near and distant future. These included the three years of wet weather (1315-1318) which caused widespread famine and the Black Death of 1349-1351. Thankfully the people of Siston were kept too busy with farm work and other work like carpentry, blacksmithing, tailoring, etc., to find time to think of such days.   

Ownership of Siston in 1309

In 1309 the manor of Siston was in a state of double wardship. Not only did the crown hold it because John Waleraund was an idiot but the chief lord of the manor, William de Berkeley, was under age and thus his property was in wardship.[26]

Having stated the above facts the jury went on to declare that the manor of Siston should passed to Alan, son of Alan Plokenet. This Alan Plokenet was grandson of Alice, daughter of Isabella, daughter of Thomas de Rocheford and his wife, Agatha because Thomas de Berkeley gave Siston to Thomas and Agatha on their marriage. Alice, the daughter of Isabella, had granted Siston to Robert Waleraund for a term of years and thus Robert Waleraund had no title to the manor after his death.[27] The families of Rocheford and Waleraund were connected with each other and with the Berkeley family of Dursley (chief owners of Siston) since about 1210. Isabel, daughter of Roger IV de Berkeley of Dursley first married Thomas de Rocheford about 1205 and later married William Waleraund.[28]

When Joan Plokenet, wife of Alan Plokenet, senior, and mother of Alan Plokenet, died in July 1318 it was said that Alan junior was thirty years of age.[29] Alan Plokenet, junior, died on 10th September 1326 leaving land in Berkshire, Herefordshire and Staffordshire but no land in Gloucestershire.[30] The Plokenet estate had greatly decreased since his father’s death in 1299. Alan Plokenet, senior, held land in the Counties of Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Somerset, Wiltshire, Dorset, Southampton and Hereford. Some of the manors held in Wiltshire and Dorset were held of the heir of Robert Waleraund. The manor of Salterton in Wiltshire was held for the sustenance of the idiot, John Waleraund.[31] The inquisition post mortem of Robert Waleraund in 1273 for the manor of Langford in Wiltshire stated that Alan Plokenet, senior, was a nephew of Robert Waleraund.[32]

The only Gloucestershire land held by Alan Plokenet was Little Teynton in 1307 and leased to Bevis de Knovill for the service of a pair of gloves.[33] The acquisition of Siston therefore gave the servants of Alan Plokenet much more work to do after their long travel to Gloucestershire. Alan Plokenet took over Siston by 1313 and may have been earlier. We learn elsewhere that he was to give Sir Nicholas de Kingston two robes a year from Siston but he ceased this payment in 1313 and 1320 when Sir Nicholas took him to court for payment but was unsuccessful.[34]

Conclusion

The tow inquisitions for Siston in 1273 and 1309 give us a view into the life and conditions on this Gloucestershire manor. Of course the differences in information contained in the two inquisitions tell us that we only got a glimpse of life. There is much about Siston that we don’t know about and may never find out such as what was the story of Thomas of Siston, living in Bristol in 1273, who had an interest in a tenement and shop in Gloucester.[35]

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[1] Charles S. Taylor, An analysis of the Domesday Survey of Gloucestershire (Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, 1889), p. 305
[2] Sidney J. Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 20 Henry III to 29 Edward I, 1236-1300 (British Record Society, London, 1903), p. 59
[3] Sidney Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 1236-1300, p. 59
[4] Sidney Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 1236-1300, p. 60
[5] Sidney Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 1236-1300, p. 73
[6] C.R. Elrington (ed.), Abstracts of Feet of Fines relating to Gloucestershire, 1199-1299 (Gloucestershire Record Society, vol. 16, 2003), no. 775
[7] Sidney Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 1236-1300, pp. 60, 61
[8] Edward Alexander Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 30 Edward I to 32 Edward III, 1302-1358 (British Record Society, London, 1910), pp. 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111
[9] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[10] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[11] Sidney Madge (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part IV, 1236-1300, p. 59
[12] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[13] T.J. Hunt (ed.), The medieval customs of the Manors of Taunton and Bradford on Tone (Somerset Record Society, vol. 66, 1962), pp. xxx, xxxii
[14] Nathaniel J. Hone, The manor and manorial records (Methuen, London, 1925), p. 90
[15] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[16] Nathaniel J. Hone, The manor and manorial records, pp. 83, 87
[17] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[18] T.J. Hunt (ed.), The medieval customs of the Manors of Taunton and Bradford on Tone, p. xxviii
[19] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 110
[20] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 110
[21] Nathaniel J. Hone, The manor and manorial records, pp. 106, 107
[22] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 110
[23] T.J. Hunt (ed.), The medieval customs of the Manors of Taunton and Bradford on Tone, p. xxxiv
[24] May McKisack, The Fourteenth Century 1307-1399 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997), pp. 334, 335
[25] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 110
[26] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, p. 109
[27] Edward A. Fry (ed.), Abstracts of Inquisitions Post Mortem for Gloucestershire, part V, 1302-1358, pp. 110-11
[28] Bridget Wells-Furby (ed.), A catalogue of the medieval muniments at Berkeley Castle (2 vols. Gloucestershire Record Society, vol. 18, 2004), Vol. 2, p. 865
[29] J. E. E. S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 5, Edward II (Kraus reprint, Liechtenstein, 1973), no. 546
[30] J. E. E. S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 6, Edward II (Kraus reprint, Liechtenstein, 1973), nos. 678, 688
[31] J. E. E. S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 3, Edward I (Kraus reprint, Liechtenstein, 1973), no. 543
[32] J. E. E. S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 2, Edward I (Kraus reprint, Liechtenstein, 1973), p. 7
[33] J. E. E. S. Sharp (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 4, Edward I (Kraus reprint, Liechtenstein, 1973), no. 446
[34] Bridget Wells-Furby (ed.), A catalogue of the medieval muniments at Berkeley Castle (2 vols. Gloucestershire Record Society, vol. 17, 2004), Vol. 1, p. 554
[35] W.H. Stevenson (ed.), Calendar of the Records of the Corporation of Gloucester (Gloucester, 1893), no. 637

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