The ease with which the Norman settlement in the Northern Danelaw was effected was in no small way attributable to the accumulation of territorial power by a small number of great lords before the Conquest. Evidence has been cited for the existence of bookland estates which were held by the individuals who enjoyed extensive liberties in 1066. Many of the constituent manors of these estates were let to tenants - the TRE holders who are recorded in Domesday Book - but the Norman tenants-in-chief derived their title from the overlord. It was the hierarchical ordering of landed interests in this way which facilitated the transfer of land to the newcomers, for the grant of one estate automatically conferred the right to dues from the lands dependent upon it.[1] As a type, these groups of estates had their ultimate origin in the booking of sokeland. Large sokes were frequently divided element by element before the Conquest, and the resulting estates are therefore often related to the larger wholes. But in 1066 many groups had a more disparate identity. Once held with sake and soke, an estate could be divided or amalgamated at will.[2] Nevertheless, such groups provided the datum of title in 1086. Their constituent elements, however, are rarely explicit in the Domesday text. In some areas, such as Northamp-tonshire and Leicestershire, the record of TRE holders is sparse, and is generally confined to those with extensive liberties. But it can often be demonstrated, and was probably understood, that each lord named also held the manors in which no pre-Conquest holder is noted.[3] Thus, only predecessors in the legal sense are normally recorded, and their estates can be readily identified. In circuit 6, by way of contrast, the Domesday commissioners usually recorded the tenant, if the estate was not held in demesne, and groups cannot therefore be so readily defined. However, there are two characteristics of the Lincolnshire text which suggest that tenants-in-chief who had a number of predecessors made a return which was related to the basis of their title. Groups of manors can therefore sometimes be identified.

It has already been shown that spaces were employed in the Domesday text to distinguish one textual group from another. In Lincs. DB no. 68, for example, two entirely different sections of the breve are separated by a blank line.[4] The device may not always be used in this way. It may distinguish one manor from another, or mark the major divisions of the shire within a breve, although a rubric is rarely added.[5] In neither case, however, is the usage necessarily different, for groups may consist of one manor and be conterminous with wapentake boundaries. In a significant number of cases, however, blank lines can be shown to delimit groups of estates which have an identity which is other than merely geographical. Walter de Aincurt's breve no. 31 is a typical example.[6] Its structure is represented diagramatically in figure 20, with obliques indicating one line spaces in the text. Three distinct sections are defined by the device. Each is nominally discrete, that is, named individuals only appear in one group, although this is normally a tendency rather than an invariable feature. But more significantly, in at least the first two sections there was a different predecessor, forTori and Haminc both had sake and soke, toll and team.[7] Moreover, in the first group, there is evidence to suggest that Siward and Elwi's estate in (Great) Gonerby was held from Tori for the same Elwi was Walter de Aincurt's tenant in 1086.[8] As in Nottinghamshire, continuity of person implies continuity of tenure and status. A tenant at the time of the Domesday Survey, Elwi is likely to have been of subordinate status before the Conquest.[9]


Figure 20: the land of Walter de Aincurt.








Tori, Siward, Elwi

K30, 24, 21/



Archil, Haminc, Godric

K21, 26, 23/



Aldene, his 2 brothers



Some vestige of a distinct wapentake sequence is also evident in each section of Walter's breve.[10] It is inverted in the first, and so the only real irregularity occurs in the second group. Ingoldsby, the manor responsible, however, was locally in the wapentake of Beltisloe (no. 21), although administratively in wapentake no. 26 Aswardhurn.[11] The disparity may, then, be more apparent than real. But repetition of wapentake sequence is more pronounced in other breves.[12] The phenomenon is not confined to Lincolnshire, and elsewhere it has been explained as a function of multiple records produced by the commission-ers as juries were successively recalled.[13] This explanation, however, is inherently implausible for it supposes that whole sequences of panels were assembled in exactly the same order on several occasions. It is more likely to relate to overlordship and title for, like the use of blank lines, with which it is sometimes coupled, it too defines tenurial groups. The mechanism is illustrated by the abbot of Peterborough's breve no. 8, which is among the best documented in the East Midlands.[14] It is divided into two sections by the repetition of wapentake sequence (figure 21). Spacing, again indicated by obliques, is widely,


Figure 21: the lands of the abbot of Peterborough.







Peterborough Abbey

LWR14/, K20/, 21/, 28, H31, K24 (add.)/



Alnod, Rolft, Aschil, Hereward, Alnod

LWR14, 17, 19, K20, 21, 20 (add.?)


if not consistently employed in the first group to distinguish manor from manor, and section one from two. In 1066 all the land had belonged to the abbey, and most was in demesne in 1086. The second group is of a different character. It describes land held by Alnod, Rolft, Aschil, and Hereward TRE, and was mostly tenanted in 1086. According to Hugh Candidus, all of the land in the West Riding was given to Peterborough by Abbot Brand and his brothers Aschil, Siric, and Siworth.[15] There is independent evidence to support this assertion. A charter of 10551060 is a confirmation by King Edward of Walcot (-on-Trent) in which Aschil is described as his thane.[16] A second of 10601066 is a confirmation of an agreement made in the king's presence by which the monk Brand leased to his brother Aschil Scotton, which Brand himself had bought, Scotter which his brother Siric had given him, and Manton which his father had given him by word of mouth. The lease was in these terms: Aschil should pay a yearly rent as long as he lived. After his death, the first two estates should revert to the monastery, together with another estate called Northorpe in the place of Manton.[17] Hart considered that the charters were forgeries, although he saw no reason to believe that the transactions had not taken place. Whitelock concurs with this judgement.[18] In the Clamores, however, it is stated that 'The shire bears witness that on and after the day when king Edward was alive and dead, Aschil had these three manors, Scotton, Scotter, and Ravensthorpe, of the king at his own disposal. In the same way, he had Muskham in Nottinghamshire, and one manor, Manton, he had of his brother, Brand the monk'.[19] Hugh Candidus describes these lands as belonging to the family.[20] According to Domesday Book, in 1066 Aschil held the land which later went to the abbey in Scotton, Walcot, Appleby, Risby and Sawcliffe, and Ravensthorpe.[21] Manton, supposedly held by Aschil on lease from Brand, was held by Rolft, who also held in Yawthorpe and Hibaldstow, which Hugh Candidus said was given by Aschil and his brothers.[22] Scotter was divided between Aschil and Alnod who also held land in Riseholm, Cleatham, and Messingham.[23]

The detail is confusing and sometimes contradictory, but it is clear that all of these lands were closely related. Stenton argued that Rolft and Alnod were probably the sons of Siric and Siworth who had apparently died before the Conquest.[24] But since Domesday Book records that Aschil had Manton by lease and Scotter freely, and this information is confirmed by charter evidence, then it is seems more likely that Rolft and Alnod held their land from Aschil, especially since Scotter is a multiple manor entry. The whole of the abbey's lands in the West Riding, then, can be seen to have constituted a single interest. As for the lands that follow in Kesteven, textually they may be part of the same group, but there is no evidence that they were dependent upon Aschil, unless the Elnod of 8/39 can be identified with the Alnod who held in the West Riding of Lindsey. However, it is probably more likely that the south Lincolnshire lands constituted a separate group. Since the account begins at the top of column f.346b, the fact cannot be demonstrated from the text. But it is known that Hereward was a man of the abbey, and there is no evidence that he held his estate in Witham (-on-the-Hill) under Aschil.[25]

The two textual groups defined by repetition of wapentake sequence and spacing, then, correspond very neatly with two pre-Conquest tenurial groups, with the possible exception of Hereward's manor. Clearly, the compiler of the text consulted the same geographically arranged source on two separate occasions with a different purpose in mind. A division between demesne and tenanted estates occurs in the abbot's Northamptonshire breve, although no indication of the pre-Conquest tenants is given,[26] thereby suggesting a return related to estate management. The dichotomy in the Lincolnshire Domesday, however, is not so sharp. The first section is mostly demesne, but includes two manors and two berewicks which were held by the abbot's men, while the second, although mostly tenanted, contains two demesne manors.[27] Thus, it is unlikely that the economy of the abbot's estates in 1086 constituted the criterion for the organisation of entries. There seems no alternative to the conclusion that it was the tenurial status of the various manors in 1066 which was the decisive factor in determining the groups. It seems likely that the abbot of Peterborough returned an account of his estates in this way because it demonstrated the basis of his title. The manors of the first section were each held by book, and were therefore independent of each other and so distinguished in the text by spacing. The Domesday compiler merely enrolled them in the order in which they appeared in the official geographically arranged source. In the second, however, all the estates formed an extended tenurial group in which title to individual estates was inter-linked with the whole. The scribe, therefore, enrolled them separately, again by reference to his official source. Thus, the separate wapentake sequences reflect the right to title, and thereby indicate two different types of estate.

Breves nos 8 and 31 are the best documented examples of this process, but it may be suspected that many textual groups have been formed in this way. It is clearly significant that where a tenant-in-chief can be shown to have had only one predecessor, the wapentake sequence in his Domesday breve is regular, and never repeated, and spacing is rare.[28] But, of course, not every sub-section of a breve necessarily defines the interests of a single predecessor. In breve no. 24, for example, they seem to define different elements in Ulf Fenisc's great pre-Conquest estates.[29] Each group was probably formulated by reference to major soke centres and the estates of Ulf's more important tenants such as Tonna.[30] But again the form is probably not unrelated to the need to establish title. Finally, there are instances in which no rationale can be detected, and it is possible that such groups are purely ad hoc formations in the process of compilation of the text.



[1] See chapter 4.

[2] See chapter 5.

[3] Northants DB; Leics. DB.

[4] See chapter 4; Lincs. DB, 200-4.

[5] See, for example, Lincs. DB, 15-37.

[6] Lincs. DB, 143-6.

[7] Lincs. DB, p13.

[8] Lincs. DB, 31/2.

[9] See chapter 4.

[10] The wapentake sequence in the Lincolnshire breves is, with the exception of the South Riding of Lindsey, here reconstructed from the text, identical with that found in the Clamores: Lindsey, South Riding (LSR), 1. Wraggoe 2. Horncastle 3. Candleshoe 4. Louthesk 5. Calcewath 6. Hill; Lindsey, North Riding (LNR), 7. Yarborough 8. Bradley 9. Walshcroft 10. Haverstoe 11. Ludborough 12. Bolingbroke 13. Gartree; Lindsey, West Riding (LWR) 14. Lawress 15. Well 16. Aslacoe 17. Corringham 18. Axholme 19. Manley; Kesteven (K), 20. Ness 21. Beltisloe 22. Flaxwell 23. Langoe 24. Winnibriggs 25 Graffoe 26. Aswardhurn 27. Loveden 28 Aveland 29. Roteland 30. Threo; Holland (H), 31 Kirton, 32. Skirbeck 33. Elloe. Bolingbroke and Gartree were locally in LSR, but were accounted for the geld in LNR; Boothby Wapentake cannot be located within the sequence. The Divisions do not always appear in the same order, but that preferred is LWR, LNR, LSR, K, H. The sequence of wapentakes is well-established in LWR, LNR, and K, with the possible exception of no. 25, but that in LSR is the nearest fit possible, and that in H cannot be tested since the three wapentakes do not appear consecutively in any breve. The detailed evidence for this analysis, and the method of verification, will be discussed in D. R. Roffe, The Making of the Lincolnshire Domesday, (in preparation).

[11] Lincs. DB, 31/10.

[12] Lincs. DB, breves nos 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 11-14, 16, 26, 28, 29, 30, 32, 34, 35, 40, 44, 57.

[13] MDB, 159; but see P. H. Sawyer, 'The Original Returns and Domesday Book', EHR 70. (1955), 183.

[14] Lincs. DB, 54-8.

[15] The Chronicle of Hugh Candidus, trans. W. Mellows, Peterborough 1961, 36-7.

[16] ECEE, 105.

[17] ECEE, 105.

[18] ECEE, 105; S 1059.

[19] Lincs. DB, 71/15.

[20] Hugh Candidus, 36-7.

[21] Lincs. DB, 8/15, 23, 27, 28.

[22] Lincs. DB, 8/14, 20, 22; 71/15.

[23] Lincs. DB, 8/13, 17, 19, 31.

[24] Lincs. DB, xl.

[25] FE, 159-64.

[26] Northants DB, breve no. 6.

[27] Lincs. DB, 8/6, 7, 14, 17.

[28] See, for example, Lincs. DB, breves nos 35, 37, 39, 43, 64.

[29] Lincs. DB, 105-115.





LWR14, 19/ 19/ LNR7/




LSR1,2, LNR12, K21/22/




K26, LSR(6),(3)/ 5/ 5/



Siward, Odincarle

LSR2, 3/



Tonna, Ulf, Siwate

K26, 27, 29, 30/