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Yelden in 1066

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 six entries for Riseley.

In 1086 Yelden, like Melchbourne, was held by Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Coutances; his tenant was Geoffrey de Trelly or Trailly. Yelden, again like Melchbourne, comprised ten hides. It had woodland for twenty pigs. The manor contained 17 villagers, 1 man-at-arms, 12 smallholders and 1 slave – 31 people. These 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 around  125, a decent sized settlement for the time.

Again, like Melchbourne, Yelden had been held in 1066 by a man named Burgred from whom five freemen held individual plots. It had then been worth £8 and by 1086 was worth £9.