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Court Rolls 1 to 5

Willington Manor Court Rolls Introduction

The first five manor court rolls overlap the later part of the Bailiff's Accounts series for Willington which date from 1382 to 1397, at Add. Ch.657.

Court Roll 1

Document ref. R8/62/1/1 (membrane 1)

24th April 1394

Wylyton' Court held there in the Friday of Easter week in the xvijo [17th] year of the reign of King Richard  II

  • The business includes information about four ruined buildings, and six instances of trespass or cutting down trees and thorn bushes.
  • Three deaths of tenants were reported and there was clear evidence of the servile status of some tenants.
  • Five lands were granted out: to three men, one widow and one husband and wife. Premiums or entry fines were paid when lands were taken over by new tenants, and on five occasions more well-established tenants stood as security (pledges)for new tenants.
  • Herriots were paid on surrender of four holdings, but as was usual in Willington, a widow did not pay a one.
  • Widows were given the chance to show whether they could run the family holding without their late husbands, but often, as in this case, the property was surrendered very soon after (see next roll).

Full transcript of Court Roll 1 (pdf).

Court Roll 2

Document ref. R8/62/1/1 (membrane 2)

13th October 1394

Wyliton' View of Frankpledge with Court held there on the Tuesday next before the feast of saint Luke the Evangelist [18th October] in the xviijo [18th] year of the reign of King Richard II after the Conquest.

There is evidence of more unrest in this court roll than in any later roll.

  • The View of Frankpledge, held at the same time as the Court in the autumn, dealt with annual business such as payment of common fines, the election of the constable and the ale tasters, collection of fines for brewing, the management of stray animals and swarms of bees on the manor (see below).
  • Six tenants did not attend court and were fined 2d each. The Prior of Newnham also did not attend, but he was not fined.
  • Common fine of 12s was paid to the lord. This figure continued to be paid at the View of Frankpledge until at least 1425.
  • The number of ruined buildings had increased.
  • The brewing of ale was shared, and 23 tenants, including one woman, paid fines for brewing.
  • A lamb and a swarm of bees came into the manor as strays.
  • The tenants on the manor were involved in community policing and they called the hue, that is reported wrong-doers to the constable, on eight occasions, of which seven were upheld. There were four fights or assaults and one tenant was fined for three offences, which included breaking hedges and disturbing the peace. There was one instance of theft and the miller took unjust tolls. More seriously the constable did not collect fines imposed by the court on six occasions.
  • Some free tenants, including a member of the Gostwick family, were called to account for not clearing their ditches or making encroachments.
  • Lands were surrendered and granted out with the payment of herriots and premiums or entry fines, as previously. At this court six men gave pledges, one of them stood pledge for three new tenants.

Full transcript of Court Roll 2 (pdf).

Court Roll 3

Document ref. R8/62/1/1 (membrane 6 & 6d)

October 22nd 1395

Wyliton' View of Frankpledge with Court of Thomas Earl Marshall and of Nottingham held there on Friday next before the feast of the Apostles Simon and Jude [October 28th] in the nineteenth year of the reign of king Richard the second, after the conquest.

This document is very difficult to read in parts and has a piece of paper torn off along one side.

  • Seven men did not attend the court and were fined 3d each, an increase of 50% on the previous year. The Prior of Newnham did not attend again but this time he was fined 4d. 
  • Seven young men joined tithings, three were sons of tenants, others were servants or wards. Tithings were groups of men over 12 years of age who joined together under the leadership of a tithing man, and were jointly responsible for the good behaviour of the others in the group. Sizes of tithings varied in different parts of the country, and although it is clear that the system worked well in Willington, it is not clear how large the tithings were or how many there were.
  • As in the previous year there were 23 brewers. One brewed eight times and two brewed four times. 
  • There were ruined buildings and some tenants were charged with illegally enclosing common land. 
  • Some damaged ditches and buildings noted the previous year had still not been repaired.
  • The disturbances on the manor continued. There were five charges of trespass and hunting, two fights or assaults, and the miller again took illegal toll. The hue was called on a variety of anti-social behaviours and agreed. 
  • A bullock and a pig were strays.
  • Notice was given of five legal suits, and a variety of land transfers took place.

Full transcript of Court Roll 3 (pdf)

Court Roll 4

Document ref. R8/62/1/2 (membrane 1)

May 26th 1396

Wyliton Court held there on Friday in the Week of Pentecost in the nineteenth year of the reign of Richard the second after the conquest [26th May 1396]

  • The court was concerned about misuse of trees and woods on the manor.
  • There were several suits for debt and some money was raised from the goods and chattels of defaulting tenants.
  • Three tenants have still not mended their ruined buildings.

Full transcript of Court Roll 4 (pdf)

Court Roll 5

Document ref.R8/62/1/2 (membrane 2)

October 8th 1397

Wyllyngton View of Frankpledge with Court held there on Monday next after the Octave Of Saint Michael in the xxjo [21st] year of the reign of Richard second [October 8th 1397]

  • Six tenants, including the Prior of Newnham, did not attend court and were fined. 
  • This year there were 18 brewers, three of whom brewed three times. There were two ruined buildings, one illegal enclosure, and two fights. 
  • The constable was charged with not collecting three fines. The hue was called three times, two of which were upheld.
  • There were a variety of land transfers, including one holding surrendered by a mother and then granted to her and her son.
  • The mill was leased to a new miller for 5 years. 
  • Seven men offered pledges as security for new tenants
  • It was ordered that no-one should play quoits
  • A tenant who had not ploughed his land was ordered to do so, or risk losing his holding.


Full transcript of Court Roll 5 (pdf)