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Hockliffe 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.

The entry for Hockliffe shows that in 1066 before the death of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066) it had been worth £12 and was held by Eskil ("Anschil") of Ware, a thegn of King Edward who held considerable estates in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, including land in the adjacent parish of Battlesden. In 1086 Hockliffe was held by Azelina, the wife of Ralph Tallboys, without a tenant. The parish was a large one of 10 hides, with 13 villagers and 11 smallholders. These would all have been men, to get an idea of the total number one should probably multiply this figure by at least four, to allow for wives and children - giving a total of about 100 or so, quite a large settlement for the time. The value had fallen to £8 by c.1070 and was still at the same level in 1086. It has been suggested that falls in value such as this show the depradations by the Norman armies moving north and east to crush rebellion, Hockliffe being on a major road such depredation would not be a surprise. There was no mill, but there was sufficient woodland for 100 pigs.