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Meppershall 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.

The Domesday Book of 1086 holds only one entry for Meppershall, stating that it was held from the King by Gilbert, son of Solomon. It answered for 4 hides in Bedfordshire and 3 hides and 1 virgate in Hertfordshire. There were five villagers, four smallholders and two slaves. These eleven people were just the heads of households and, 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 under fifty.

The manor was valued at £6. Prior to 1066, the manor had been held by Young Leofwin, a thegn of King Edward's, and was valued at £10. The difference in 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.