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Caddington in 1086

Domesday Book was commissioned by William the Conqueror (1066-1087) at Christmas 1085. It was designed to show who held every piece of land in the newly conquered Kingdom of England. It was known colloquially as the Domesday Book because it was seen as being as final as the Last Judgement and as difficult to conceal things from. The book does not cover the whole country - Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland, and Westmorland were omitted and London and Winchester likewise, along with some other towns. A separate book, called Little Domesday covered the counties of Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk and, despite its name, it is actually bigger and more detailed than the Great Domesday Book containing the other counties.

Both Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire portions of Caddington comprised one manor which was held by the canons of Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. It contained five hides and had one villager, four smallholders and two slaves. These would have been the heads of household so to arrive at a realistic figure for population one must multiply this by a factor of four or so – which still gives a very small population of twenty eight to thirty. The manor included enough woodland to graze two hundred pigs.

The value in 1086 was forty shillings. In 1066 the manor was held by “Young Leofwin” and had been worth one hundred shillings. The canons “have the King’s writ in which is recorded that he gave this manor himself to Saint Paul’s Church”. When he did so it was only worth ten shillings – one tenth of its value in Leofwin’s day – it must have suffered severely from depredations by brigands or armies, possibly the latter on their way from London to quash rebellions.

Young Leofwin also held manors at Kensworth, Streatley, Beeston near Sandy and Clifton. He is described as a thegn of King Edward the Confessor. Another Leofwin is also mentioned as holding manors – at Stratton near Biggleswade, Astwick, Langford, Southill and Totternhoe, he is referred to as a thegn and as “Earl Waltheof’s man” – Young Leofwin was presumably so called to distinguish him from this other man of the same name. It was not an uncommon name, a Leofwin was Bishop of Lichfield from 1053 to 1070 and another was the brother of King Harold II and died with his brother at Hastings in 1066 – he was Earl of Kent, Essex, Middlesex, Hertford, Surrey and perhaps of Buckinghamshire, too.