Manor court roll for Lidgate (‘Lydgate’) recording court proceedings in 1397–8, noting the names of the jury, various amercements and fines, the election of officers, the swearing of fealty by villeins, an order for the apprehension of villeins who had fled the manor, the transfer of property, and permission to occupy new houses

Lidgate, October 1397 and January 1398.

80 lines written in a neat bastard hand on both sides of a single membrane of vellum, headings and sums of money in left margin, dark brown ink; slightly rubbed, creases where once folded, a little curled at head, but in very good condition. 450 x 255 mm.

£2000

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Manor court roll for Lidgate (‘Lydgate’) recording court proceedings in 1397–8, noting the names of the jury, various amercements and fines, the election of officers, the swearing of fealty by villeins, an order for the apprehension of villeins who had fled the manor, the transfer of property, and permission to occupy new houses

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An important manorial document from Lidgate near Newmarket in Suffolk, birthplace of the poet John Lydgate (b. c. 1370), recording the proceedings at two manorial courts held there on the Monday prior to the feast of St Luke and on the Tuesday following the feast of St Hilary in the 21st year of the reign of Richard II. It provides a fascinating glimpse of a rural corner of feudal England not long before Richard was deposed by the future Henry IV.

Manor court proceedings were written entry by entry, as the court was in progress, by the steward in charge or by his clerk, in this case by Laurence Trussebut (later the bishop’s steward of the liberty of Lynn), whose name appears beside the heading for each session. The basis of the manorial court was the right of every landlord to hold a court for his local tenants, and it played an important role in regulating the tenure of property, punishing trespassers, and electing the lord’s officials, among other business.

This roll names over forty individuals, beginning with the nine jurors. Numerous amercements (small fines) are recorded for trespassing on the lord’s corn, and in his woods, with cows, horses, colts, pigs, boars, geese, and sheep, in places including ‘Gronndelwong’, ‘Neweparke’, ‘Briggemedewe’, ‘Bysschopeswallefeld’, ‘Mechelfeld’, and ‘Sutheyewede’. One Robert Lemynge was a repeat offender, and even the local rector (Thomas Welles) and the reeve were caught in the act. Among other fines, Richard Deye is penalised for not flooding the water course at ‘Molleye’, to the harm of his neighbours. The election of the lord’s officials include those of Richard Revesson to the office of reeve and of William Grigge to the post of hayward (‘messor’). Seven men, described as ‘anlepymen’ (i.e. landless serfs), are listed as being fugitives, and an order is recorded for their apprehension. William and John Weneye, Simon Lamberd and Thomas Sutheye are granted houses in the street named ‘Boytonweye’, as well as newly built houses elsewhere, while John Schelford is granted the tenement of ‘Brownys’ and a pasture called ‘Brodstrete’, for six years, in return for 20 and 18 pence per annum respectively. The individuals named are by no means all men: Matilda Adylton is fined for trespass, Margaret Houyle pays sixpence to postpone a suit of court, and Katerina Carles surrenders two acres to the hayward. The amount of money raised at each session of the court is recorded, coming to a total of 1 pound 14 shillings and 3 pence.

Fourteenth-century records from Lidgate manor are rare, a few holdings only being recorded at the National Archives and at Suffolk Record Office, comprising reeve’s accounts, an extent, and court rolls.

This item is subject to the Manorial Documents Rules 1959, 1963 and 1967, and may not be removed from England and Wales without the prior consent of the Master of the Rolls.

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