Front Page Titles (by Subject) LINCOLNSHIRE COURT ROLLS AND YORKSHIRE INQUISITIONS 1 - The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 3
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LINCOLNSHIRE COURT ROLLS AND YORKSHIRE INQUISITIONS 1 - Frederic William Maitland, The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, vol. 3 
The Collected Papers of Frederic William Maitland, ed. H.A.L. Fisher (Cambridge University Press, 1911). 3 Vols. Vol. 3.
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LINCOLNSHIRE COURT ROLLS AND YORKSHIRE INQUISITIONS1
“Having, through the kindness of the lord of the manor, been afforded the opportunity of transcribing and studying at my leisure the court rolls of a Lincolnshire manor, which form an unusually complete series, and seem to me of special interest, I have thought it worth while to print the results in the interests of county history, and I am even ambitious enough to hope that my abstracts may be found to have a still wider historical value.”
With these words the rector of Ormsby prefaces a book which deserves perusal by all who are studying the rural economy of medieval England. In the first place we must always be grateful to those who will give us the substance of legal records that are in private hands, so great is the danger of their remaining unknown and even of their perishing. In the second place Mr Massingberd is right in thinking that the rolls of Ingoldmells have some special claims upon our attention. The manor lay in the extreme east of England, its lord was not a religious corporation, and it has been remarked before now that we have in print comparatively little information concerning eastern manors and concerning manors which were in the hands of laymen. What Mr Massingberd gives us is enough to show that from such manors we yet have much to learn. If he is right, then in one most important respect this manor of Infidels differed widely from what we might call the classical type. The rolls begin in 1291, and yet, “during the time the rolls cover there was no demesne farm at Ingoldmells.” In other words, as we understand the matter, there was no land there which was the lord’s demesne in the narrowest sense of that term: no land the produce of which went into his barns. Nor is this all. There is no agricultural land which has been demesne and has been let in one mass to a farmer together with the right to exact labour from the villeins. From his villeins—of whom there were plenty—the lord got money; but he got no work. Their whole time was their own. And yet it must be understood that this manor was not some little trifle which might be set down as an anomaly. “In 1295 the rents of the free and bond tenants were £51. 17s. 1d. inclusive of £10 of tallage, but exclusive of fines, perquisites of courts etc., amounting to £18. 11s. 8d. “These are handsome amounts.
We have spoken hypothetically. We have said that this is so if Mr Massingberd is right. The extracts that he prints give us no reason to doubt his word: quite the contrary. But his assertion concerning the non existence of any seigniorial demesne is of so much importance that we should wish to see it amply proved. And apparently there are account rolls where the proof lies. These are at the Record Office and therefore accessible to all; but we very much hope that Mr Massingberd, with a full sense of the gravity of the task, will complete the investigation that he has begun, for he has learned so much of Ingoldmells that those account rolls would give up their story more easily to him than to strangers. It is a serious thing to find a large, handsome, profitable manor without demesne land, without labourservice, in the year 1291. We are far from saying that there were not many similar estates, but the establishment of one good instance beyond the possibility of doubt would be a meritorious deed.
Mr Massingberd gives us English instead of Latin,pleading that he cannot give us both; and as such books cannot be remunerative the plea must be allowed. On the whole, his English is such as to inspire confidence. But we would point out to him the desirability of putting in a Latin word whenever there can be any doubt of its meaning. As an example we will take a case in which he has seen the desirability of doing what we could wish that he had done more frequently. According to him, presentments are frequently made that women have been “chastised”; whereupon those women are amerced. Thus in 1313 Beatrice, Joan, and Matilda “have been chastised.” The sort of offence of which they had been guilty will be guessed by those who have seen manorial rolls, and Mr Massingberd, as we may learn from his introduction, knows what it was. But why “chastised”? We should have been left to speculate about some queer use of castigata which made it the opposite to casta, if the editor had not on one occasion revealed the secret. The Latin word appears to be allopantur, and this, so it seems, he has connected with alapa and not that somewhat mysterious AngloFrench aloper which is the origin of our elope. Apparently, “seduced” would be better than “chastised.” Similarly, when he tells us that the usual habendum on the admission of a tenant to bond-land was “to him and his boys,” we should like to know what is the Latin word that is rendered by “boys,” for if it is pueris we might have been inclined to go as far as “children” or even as “issue.” But we cannot say that we are often in serious doubt as to what it is that he has seen upon the rolls, and the few instances in which a lawyer might have suggested a better, or at all events a more orthodox, translation than that which he has adopted are not of great importance.
The lately issued volume of Yorkshire Inquisitions covers the period between 1281 and 1302. Of the earlier volumes notice has been taken in these pages. It is among the best features of Mr Brown’s work that he gives us a good deal of Latin. He is a translator whom we trust not the less but the more because he allows us an opportunity of questioning the accuracy of the words “twelve quarters of wheat (siliginis)” which stand on the first page of his book, for we thought that in our medieval Latin siligo always stood for rye. An example of a more serious kind is a translated petition to the king and council, presented, so we read, by “the ten burgesses” of Scarborough, who assert that the two hospitals in the town were “founded by the ancestors of the said ten burgesses.” But the original French is printed in a footnote. In it the petitioners call themselves les diz Burgeys, and say that the hospitals were foundous de les auncestres les diz Burgeys. We submit that les diz is not “the ten” but “the said,” though it is true that in the French of English clerks a final z was often written where a final s would have been better, just as it is true that the use of foundu for foundé was a very common error. It is true also that no burgesses are mentioned before les diz Burgeys appear. But the document begins thus: Uncore au Rey e a sun Counseyl prient les diz Burgeys, and the Uncore seems to show that in this, as in many other instances, a string of petitionary clauses written on a single piece of parchment was converted by a knife into a number of separate documents after it had been presented. We do not wish to speak dogmatically, but we are glad that Mr Brown gave us the French as well as the English, for the partonage over these municipal hospitals is a matter of no little interest to those who study the development of municipal corporations.
We hope that the society which is fortunate enough to have Mr Brown for its secretary is well supported. Perhaps there is no class of documents better suited for publication by similar societies than that which consists of inquisitions post mortem and ad quod damnum. Apart from matters of purely local interest, there are some large open questions of national history of which they will supply the solution. For example, there is the question whether the kings used the Statute of Mortmain in furtherance of a deliberate and continuous policy, or readily sold licences to the detriment of their successors. Mr Brown’s industry and accuracy are supplying us with excellent materials for an answer to this inquiry.
It is almost needless to say that such documents as he and Mr Massingberd have been translating let in light into out-of-the-way corners. In spite of what has been done in the publication of ecclesiastical service books, we are glad to get from the verdict of a jury the words used by a bridegroom and his father where there was to be an endowment ex assensu patris. The son said the English for “De anulo isto te disponso, et de corpore meo te honoro, et de tercia parte omnium terrarum Willelmi patris mei te doto.” The father said the English for “Et ego predicte donacioni assensum prebeo.” Then, to turn back to Mr Massingberd’s book, we see a curious illustration of the manner in which the jurisprudence of the royal courts played upon local usage. In 1341 we find a husband concerned to assert that his wife is a bondwoman, for if she is not a bondwoman she can have no right in bond-land. To this it is replied that she is a free woman because she is a bastard. A jury finds that until ten years past the custom of Ingoldmells did not exclude bastards from claiming rights in bond-land. Apparently the custom had just yielded to what had lately become the doctrine of Westminster, namely that illegitimate children are always born free. This and other entries have induced Mr Massingberd to paint the condition of the Ingoldmells villein in colours that are by no means lugubrious, and he seems to show pretty clearly that in the sixteenth century the “unearned increment” due to changes in the value of money came not to the lord, but to the villeins or their successors in title. But, as already said, we hope that he will return to his theme. “The condition of England question” is to be answered by account rolls.
English Historical Review, Oct. 1903.