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Everton 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.

In 1086 Everton was held by Countess Judith, niece of William the Conqueror (1066-1087). Her tenant was Ranulf, brother of Ilger and the manor contained five hides. It also contained four villagers and five smallholders for a total of nine. As this number represents the heads of household, to get an idea of the total population it is probably necessary to multiply this figure by a factor of at least four suggesting a total population of somewhere around thirty six. The value of the manor had been one hundred shillings in 1066, when it was held by Earl Tosti, brother of Harold II who became a traitor, fighting against his brother with King Harald of Norway at Stamford Bridge, where he was killed. By 1086 the value had fallen to £3, probably on account of Norman armies despoiling the countryside as they moved north and east to put down rebellion.

A note in the entry for Everton is of interest. It tells us that Everton “lay in Potton”,and that that manor was also held by Countess Judith. The manor was held from Judith by “Ranulf brother of Ilger” and comprised five hides. It contained four villagers and five smallholders. If one multiplies this by a factor of four to account for dependents this suggests a population of around 35 to 40.. When the manor had been acquired it had been worth 100 shillings, which it had been worth in 1066 when owned by earl Tostig, traitor and brother of Harold II. By 1086, however, the value had fallen to £3, perhaps due to depredations by William I’s armies as they travelled east to put down rebellion.

Ranulf also held seven hides in the Huntingdonshire part of Everton directly from the Crown. This probably also included Tetworth, which is not mentioned in Domesday Book. The manor had belonged, in 1066, to a man named Ingewar when it had been worth £10. By 1086 it contained nineteen tenants and two borders and was worth £7. The total population for Everton, probably including Tetworth, was thus 28 - suggesting well over one hundred people, a substantial settlement for the time.