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Knottingley and Ferrybridge Local History

FIELD SYSTEMS AND PLACE NAMES
OF OLD KNOTTINGLEY


SOME FACTS AND THEORIES

by TERRY SPENCER B.A.(Hons), Ph D.

INTRODUCTION : BEGINNINGS : DOMESDAY : PORT OF KNOTTINGLEY :
MANORIAL RE-ORGANISATION : GAZETTEER

DOMESDAY, KNOTTINGLEY:

The entry in the Domesday Book refers to the manorial vill as Notingeleia or Notingelai which prior to the Norman Conquest twenty years earlier, was under the lordship of an influential Saxon, Barthr, who also held several neighbouring manors. (11) At the time of the survey the vill contained four carucates of taxable land valued at £4.

A carucate was the amount of land a yoke of eight oxen was capable of ploughing within the space of a single year. The carucate, also known as a ploughland, had gradually replaced the hide as the standard unit of land measurement throughout Yorkshire during the eleventh century and became the unit of tax assessment in the post Conquest period. The caracute was, however, of variable acreage according to the system of tillage and could be as little as 80 or as large as 144 acres. (12) Nevertheless, a formula of 10 acres per caracute appears to have been the norm and on this basis the total area of arable land at Knottingley may be calculated as 320 acres with half that amount in use at any given season and an equal area lying uncultivated or fallow. (13) The acreage is confirmed by the Domesday reference to four ploughs in the pre Conquest period. However, a considerable decline had occurred in the taxable value of the land during the two decades following the Conquest and although it has been suggested that the vill may have been spared the worst excesses of the harrowing of the North in 1070, the Domesday Survey reveals that the monetary value of the land had fallen from four pounds in the time of King Edward the Confessor to forty shillings. (14)

Not all the manorial land was entered into the Domesday Book, merely that which was profitable and therefore suitable for payment of tax. In addition to the areas of arable, woodland, pasture and meadowland which were recorded, giving a total of 480 acres, were further tracts of wasteland and common, making the vill about 1,481 acres in extent. (15)

By 1086 the lordship of the honour of Pontefract had been granted to Ilbert de Lacy, a liegeman of William the Conquerer, who as the tenant in chief had replaced Barthr by one Rannulf Grammaticus as the undertenant of the manor of Knottingley. (16) At the time of the Survey the lord of the manor held a plough and a half with a further plough and a half being owned collectively by the two bordars resident within the manor. As a result the total area of cultivable land had reduced to 240 acres. (17)

Of the size of the local population the Survey gives little indication, listing only the two bordars or smallholders who held land of the manorial lord and undertook services in lieu of their holdings, and six villains, virtual slaves, being mere chattels. On this basis, Forrest adjudges that at Notingeleia there were only nine families resident. However, not every member of the community held land in the common fields, the allotment of which was dependant upon ownership of the component part of an ox-gang. There was often a residual element of the manorial population which was unrecorded in Domesday, being restricted to their crofts and customary rights of grazing, pannage, turbary, etc., for subsistence. (18)

Terry Spencer

INTRODUCTION : BEGINNINGS : DOMESDAY : PORT OF KNOTTINGLEY :
MANORIAL RE-ORGANISATION : GAZETTEER


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