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Campton in 1086

The 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. It holds three entries for Campton.

The first states that just over four and a half hides were held by Ralph of Lanquetot from Walter Giffard and the land was valued at 60 shillings, but had only been worth 20 when it was acquired. There were four villagers, and there was a mill (at this date a water mil as windmills were unknown in England before the last quarter of the 12th centuryl). Prior to 1066, the land had been held by six freemen, and was valued at 70 shillings.

The second entry states that Fulbert held half a hide from William of Eu. It claims that the value of this small piece of land 'is and always was five shillings'. There is only one villager, and prior to 1066, the land was held by Alwin, Alstan's man.

The third entry states that Thurstan the Chamberlain held two hides less than the fourth part of one virgate from the King. There were two villagers and one smallholder. The land was valued at 30 shillings. Prior to 1066, the land had been held by three freemen, and was valued at 40 shillings.

The eight people listed as dwelling on these pieces of land represent only the heads of households, and so to arrive at a truer figure for population one probably needs to multiply this figure by a factor of at least four, suggesting a population of just over thirty. The difference in land value between 1066 and 1086 is reflective of Norman armies travelling through Bedfordshire on their way to put down rebellions in the Fens and in the North and laying waste as they did so.