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Blunham Charter of 1471

The opening text of the copy of the Blunham Charter [L26/229]
The opening text of the copy of the Blunham Charter [L26/229]

Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service has a copy of a charter from Lord of the Manor of Blunham Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent [c.1420-1498] to the inhabitants of Blunham in 1471 [L26/229]. The charter is an interesting example of how a Lord of the Manor viewed his property and the rights of his tenants, who are allowed to buy and sell land within certain limits, for example not breaking up cottages with land into smaller units for sale and only being able to sell to other tenants.

For family historians it is most valuable that the names of thirty seven tenants are attached. Interestingly two of these are women. The charter is in English and a transcription, complete with archaic spelling, is as follows:

EDMUND, EARLE OF KENT, GREETING! Knowe ye us to have graunted at the request of our Tenants of Blonham that they shall holde of us theire cottages and lands according to certayne articles here ensuing.

1. Yt shall be lawfull for every tenante to bye and sell theyre cotag, reserving to us such fine as shall growe to us by righte.

2. As ofte as any tenante changeth any cottage, he shall paye to us the duble of his rent.

3. Every half-lande at everie change from one tetante to another, for everie acre, shall pay 6d., and for everie acre of meade 20d. A halfe yarde-lande ys 14 acres of lande and 2 acres meade.

4. No tenante shall sell land but to the tenants resident within the sayde lordship, or ells not.

5. If any tenante will sell his messuage [house], lande and meade hole together, he shall sell yt to whome he will, so that the seyde byer shall be receant [resident] upon the same.

6. Everie tenante shall repayre his cottage sufficyent.

7. No tenante that holdeth a cottage shall not breake for dismeamber any parte thereof, and yf he will sell yt he shall sell yt hole.

8. Everie tenante that holdeth a cottage may purchase any lande of any tenante and the sayde lande to sell to what tenante of ours that he will; but to none other.

9. Everie tenante that holdeth of my lorde a messuage and half a yearde-lande shall leave styll unto the sayde messuage 6 acres of lande at all tymes, unless he selleth his hole messuage. Every tenante that holdeth a quartern of lande shall leave still to the sayde messuage 3 acres at all tymes, or ells the bargayne voyde.

IN WYTNES WHEREOF:

  • Thomas Malyns
  • Thomas Stephens
  • John Styles
  • John yerelde
  • John Est
  • John Clay
  • Roberte Fyssher
  • Rauffe Taylor
  • John Ward
  • Walter Samwee
  • Geffery Oselove
  • Walter Plowright
  • John Passelowe
  • John Wymonde
  • Walter Smyth
  • John Mylward
  • Adam Poulter
  • Everard Cooper
  • Thomas Pecke
  • Edmonde Butler
  • William lorde
  • William Wymonde
  • Richard Lovelyche
  • Roger Taylor
  • Johanna Oseborne
  • Thomas Farthing
  • Nicholas Edmond
  • Wylliam Brystall
  • John Fyssher
  • John Rawlyn
  • Thomas Raulyn
  • Thomas Raulyn
  • John Nokke
  • Thomas Raulyn, clerke
  • Johanna Passelowe
  • John Moore
  • Richard Garsing

Now our customary tenants of our seyde lordship

GIVEN AT OUR MANOR OF AMPTHILL the 9th day of July the yeare of the raygne of KING EDWARD THE FOURTHE the 11th.