Walks index

Doomsday Book - Cambridge


This information is taken from "Doomsday Book Cambridgeshire, edited by Alexander Rumble, 1981. I think it's out of print. It gives a translation of the part of the Doomsday Book relating to Cambridgeshire. I am only interested in the Borough of Cambridge! The book also has notes, which I have given in italics.

In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Doomsday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085

at Gloucester at midwinter ... the King had deep speech with his councellors ... and sent men all over England to each shire ... to find out ... what or how much each landholder held ... in land and livestock, and what it was worth ... The returns were brought to him.

William was thorough. One of his Counsellors reports that he also sent a second set of Commissioners 'to shires they did not know, where they were themselves unknown, to check their predecessors' survey, and report culprits to the King.'

Some versions of regional returns also survive. One of them, from Ely Abbey, copies out the Commissioners' brief. They were to ask

The name of the place. Who held it, before 1066, and now?
How many hides (a land unit, reckoned as 120 acres)? How many ploughs, both those in lordship and the men's?
How many villagers, cottagers and slaves, how many free men and Freemen?
How much woodland, meadow and pasture? How many mills and fishponds?
How much has been added or taken away? What the total value was and is?
How much each free man or Freeman had or has? All threefold, before 1066, when King William gave it, and now; and if more can be had than at present?

The Ely volume also describes the procedure. The Commissioners took evidence on oath 'from the Sheriff; and all the barons and their Frenchmen; and from the whole Hundred, the priests, the reeves and Englishmen from each village.' It also names four Frenchmen and four Englishmen from each Hundred, who were sworn to verify the detail.

The King wanted to know what he had, and who held it. The Commissioners therefore listed lands in dispute, for Domesday Book was not only a tax-assessment. To the King's grnadson, Bishop Henry of Winchester, its purpose was that every 'man should know his right and not usurp another's'; and because it was the authoritative register of rightful possession 'the natives called it Domesday Book, by analogy from the Day of Judgement'; that was why it was carefully arranged by Counties, and by landholders within counties, 'numbered consecutively ... for easy reference.'

... Villages were grouped in administrative districts called Hundreds, which formed regions within Shires, or Counties...




B The Borough of Cambridge

1 answered for a Hundred before 1066. In this borough there were and are ten wards.
For the purposes of defence and administration, the Borough of Cambridge was divided into ten districts, or wards, before 1066. After 1068 the land making up one of these wards was appropriated for the site of the Norman castle. Presumably for this reason, only nine wards (the first to the fifth and the seventh to the tenth) render account in Domesday Book.
In the first ward, 54 dwellings; 2 of them are derelict.
In this first ward, Count Alan has 5 burgesses who pay nothing.
The Count of Mortain has 3 dwellings of the land of Judicael. 3 burgesses who paid 5 shillings 8 and a half pence before 1066 now pay nothing.
Ralph Banks has 3 burgesses who pay nothing.
Roger, Bishops Remigius's man, (has) 3 burgesses; they pay nothing.
Erchenger has has 1 burgess; he pays nothing.
This single ward was accounted as two before 1066 but 27 hoiuses have been destroyed for the castle.

2 In the second ward were 48 dwellings before 1066;
2 of them are derelict. 13 of these dwellings pay nothing; the remaining 32 pay all dues. Apparently a Domesday Book error, of xxxii for xxxiii.
Count Alan has 5 of the burgesses who pay nothing and 9 who dwell on the lands of the English. The significance of this phraqse is not clear.S
Under 'LAND of Count Alan' In Cambridge Count Alan has 10 burgesses.
The Ely Inquiry (put together, for the benefit of Ely Abbey, very soon after 1086) informs us that the second ward was called Bridge Ward, and that, before 1066, the Abbot of Ely had 10 dwellings within the Borough (of which 2 are now unoccupied) as well as 2 houses (both now unoccupied), 4 gardens (1 now unoccupied) and 1 church; the Abbot also claimed the fourth penny of the shire, that is, a quarter of its revenue.

3 In the third ward were 41 dwellings before 1066;
11 of them are derelict. The remaining 30 pay all dues.

4 In the fourth ward were 45 dwellings before 1066;
24 of them are derelict. The 21 left pay all dues.

5 In the fifth ward were 50 dwellings before 1066;
One of these is derelict. All the others pay their dues.

6 In the seventh ward were 37 dwellings before 1066;
3 Frenchmen have 3 of these dwellings but pay nothing.

7 In the eighth ward were 37 dwellings before 1066;
A priest holds one of them and pays nothing.

9 In the ninth ward were 32 dwellings before 1066;
3 of them are derelict.

9 In the tenth ward were 29 dwellings before 1066;
6 of them are derelict, but they still answer.

10 From the dues of this town £7 a year;
from the land-tribute £7, 2 ora 2 pence.
Land-tribute was a burghal rent owed the King. 'ora' or literally an ounce, in Scandanavia a monetary unit and coin still in use; in Domesday Book values as 16 (assayed) or 20 (unassayed) pence. [Comment by me - there were 12 pence to the shilling and 20 shillings to the pound. Shilling seems to be used for pre-1066 values.]

11 Before 1066 the burgesses lent their ploughs to the Sheriff three times a year, now they are demanded on nine occasions.
Before 1066 they found neither cartage not carts; they now do so through an imposed due.
The distinction is that between provision of a draught-beast and of the cart itself.
They also claim back for themselves from Picot the Sheriff the common pasture taken away through him and by him.
A phrase perhaps intended to include both the pasture lost through Picot's building of 3 mills for his own profit and that lost through his won actions in the official capacity of Sheriff.

12 Picot himself has made 3 mills there which diminish the pasture and (which) have destroyed many houses.
Also a mill of the Abbot of Ely, and another of Count Alan.
The mills themselves pay £9 a year.

13 Picot also has £8, a riding horse, and arms for 1 man-at-arms from the heriot of lawmen.
'Heriot' is a payment due at the time of his death from a warrior to his lord, representing the return of his military equipment.
'Lawmen' are 24 Burgesses who propounded the law in the Cambridge Borough-court. They are mentioned in connectiobn with pre-Conquest lawsuits.

14 When he was Sheriff, Aelfric Godricson had 20 shillings as the heriot of them.
Aelfric Godricson was Sheriff of Cambridge before 1066.

[Comment by me - Picot held land throughout Cambridgeshire. I don't think they like him very much! ]

The rest of Cambridgeshire is listed by the landowner, including the King. Under Land of the King 1, it says:
17 In Thriplow Hundred
In Shelford Peter of valognes holds 3 hides of the King's revenue in Newport. Land for 4 ploughs. In lordship 1; a second possible;
5 villages and 6 smallholders have 2 ploughs.
Meadows for 4 ploughs.
It pays £4 assayed and weighed and 20 shillings in face value.
This land is an outlier in Newport but its defence obligations lie in Cambridge. Earl Harold held this land.
Newport in Essex. Earl Harold was King in 1066.