The Domesday of Inclosures 1517
being the extant returns to Chancery for Essex.
Sir Thomas More was involved in establishing this Commission of Inquiry to assess how best to tackle rural decline and a shortage of grain. The Inquiry only encompassed nine counties, Essex being one, but its entries were very few and incomplete. In all of Essex, it was the Winstree Hundred that had most of the entries, Peldon, Little and Great Wigborough, Salcott Virley, Langenhoe, Fingringhoe and Layer Marney. Two entries for the half-hundred of Clavering complete the entire Essex section.
The Commission was set up as the rural community were leaving the countryside and moving to the towns. Small farms were being ingrossed with large areas of land being taken over by one hand. Some copyhold tenants were denied their usual inheritance rights or charged unaffordable 'fines' upon transferring property but it was freeholders who enclosed a great proportion of the land. Farmland, hitherto ploughed and used for arable crops, was being enclosed and converted to pastureland and many farmworkers were evicted. Homes were being allowed to fall into decay, and, indeed, these few entries for Winstree Hundred tell of this widespread decay of the buildings, indicating too how many people have been turned off the land.
The following is a transcript from a book produced by the Royal Historical Society in 1897. Notes by I S Leadam Following each entry is a translation into modern English.
INQUISITION OF 1517
THE HALFE-HUNDRED OF PARUA WINSTRE
Within the parrech of litell Wydeborrowe
Item whe fynd that ther ys a ferme of Sir Roberd Cotton Knyght late deceased within the parrech aforesaid Caled Copedhall [Note 1] the M[a]ner plase therof ys decaid and pulled doun by the said Sir Robert and non Inabytacyon wher Ther was wont to be kept on yt a good howseeld and ferm lond plowid and now lyeys no lond plowyd nor in howsold vse wher ther was wont to be kept in yt a fermer and his wyfe and xviij or xx personys fownde on yt and now yt ys reterned to pasteur and graseng and the tenaunt and his wyfe kepyth and the fermer therof ys won Wylliam hyll of Soffok Marchant and it hath leye to paster thys xvij yers.
Note 1 Copped-Hall, otherwise Cipped or Cipt-Hall stands near the east end of the church. The incloser was Sir Robert Cotton, of Landwood, in Cambridgeshire, Lord of the Manor, died July 18 1517
Within the Parish of Little Wigborough
Item: we find that there is a farm belonging to Sir Robert Cotton Knight,now deceased, within the aforementioned parish called Copt Hall. Its Manor is decayed and pulled down by the said Sir Robert and no longer inhabited. Where there used to be a good household, farm and ploughed land now there is neither ploughed land nor household in use where there used to be a Farmer and his wife and 18 to 20 people. Now it is returned to pasture and grazing and the tenant and his wife look after it. The farmer is William Hill of Suffolk, a Merchant, and the farm has been down to pasture the last 17 years.
Within parrech of Salcote fyrly
Item whe fynd that ther ys a ferme of won John Newportes [Lord of the Manor] gentylman within the said parrech Caled the merchowse leten for x li a yere and John Cawston gentylman fermer of the same wher ther was wont a good howsseeld to be kept on yt and a plowe wele ocupyd and yt ys now reterned to pasteur and grasyng and non Inabytacyon on yt and yt hath ley to pasteur this viij yers.
Within the Parish of Salcott Virley
Item: we find that there is a Farm of one John Newportes [Lord of the Manor], gentleman, within the said Parish called the 'Merchouse' let for £10 a year and John Cawston, gentleman, was the farmer there. There used to be a good household and a well-used plough there and it is now returned to pasture and grazing with no one housed upon it. It has been down to pasture the last 8 years
The parreche of leyardemarny
Item whe fynd that ther ys a ferme of sir henry Merny [Keeper of the Privy Seal, February 4, 1522, Lord Marney April 9 1522, ob May 14 1523] knyght and Caled the degrry wher ther was wont to be a plow wele ocupid and now yt ys retorned to pasteur and grasyng and no lond plouyd on yt and the fermer thereof ys now John donyng and yt hath ley to pasteur this xij yers.
The Parish of Layer Marney
Item: we find that there is a farm belonging to Sir Henry Marney [Keeper of the Privy Seal, February 4th 1522, Lord Marney, April 9th 1522, died May 14th 1523] Knight and called the 'Degrry'. There used to be a well-used plough and now it is returned to pasture and grazing and none of its land ploughed. The farmer is now John Donyng and it has been down to pasture the last 12 years.
The parrech of Peldon
Item whe fynd that ther ys a ferme with a c acars of erable lande therto belonging of won Esebell Scharpe gentylwoman Caled Newportes within the said parrech and the houses therof ys decayed and fallen down and non Inabytacyon on yt and yt hath ben decayd this x yers and oon Gregory senyor ys fermer of the land And occupieth it with his own hous and it was wont to have a houshold vppon it and vi or vii persones vppon it
Note The family of Tey or Teye, enclosers in the next parish of Moche Wygborrow held the manor
The Parish of Peldon
Item: we find that there is a Farm with 100 acres of arable land belonging to Isabel Sharp, a
gentlewoman, called Newpots within the said Parish and the houses there is decayed and fallen down and uninhabited and it has been decayed the last 10 years and Gregory Senior is farmer of the land and occupies it with his own house. It used to have a household upon it and 6 or 7 people.
Within the parrech of leyard bretyn
Item whe fynd that ther ys a tenement of won Wylliam hogge with cl acars lond therto belonging [and] ys decayd and fallen down and non Inabytacyon on yt this xvj yers and the land now [is] occupied with another hous wher ther was vppon the tenement kept v or vj persones and a housheld.
Within the Parish of Layer Breton
Item: we find that there is a tenement of William Hogge with 40 acres of land which is decayed and fallen down and uninhabited for the last 16 years and the land is now occupied with another house where the tenement used to keep 5 or 6 people and a household.
With In the parrech of longnoo [Langenhoe]
Item whe fynd that ther ys a tenement of won John abell Caled bleyndehall with xl acars of land therto belongyng ys decayd and fallen down and non Inabytacyon on yt this xvj yers and vppon that wher the housyng was meyntend ther abode iiij or v persones vppon yt.
Within the Parish of Langenhoe
Item: we find that there is a tenement of John Abell called 'Bleyndehall' with 40 acres of land which is decayed and fallen down and uninhabited the last 16 years and upon where the house was maintained there lived 4 or 5 people.
The parrech of Vyngrengoo [Fingringhoe]
Item whe fynd that ther ys won Thomas Crestemas of Colchester Marchant hath taken down and seferd to becayd vj Tenementes in the hamlet of darson within the parrech aforsyad wher ther was wont onyst howssys to be kept on them and l or lx personys found and Inabyt ther and now the said Thomas Crestemas hath Inclossyd them and wher Ther was ij plowys wele ocupyd now yt ys retorned to pasteure and garsyng and but a man and his wyfe now kept on yt and yt hath be thus ocupyd this x yers.
The Parish of Fingringhoe
Item: we find that there was a Thomas Christmas of Colchester, Merchant, who took down and allowed to decay 6 tenements in the hamlet of 'Darson' within this Parish where there used to be honest houses and 50 or 60 people living there and now the said Thomas Christmas has enclosed them and where there were 2 well-used ploughs now it is returned to pasture and grazing and only one man and his wife kept on it, it has been thus for 10 years.
The parreche of Moche Wygborrow [Moulsham Manor]
Item whe fynd that ther was won sir henry Teye Knyght hathe Inclosed and paled in won c acars of ground pasture and wode by estimacion within the said parreche in messyng and Wygbarow and viij acars therof of yerabyll lond in Wygbarow within the parreche of messyng of his owyn prope lond and yt hath be Inclossyd thus xiiij yers and now Master Thomas Teye squier ys the prope owner of the same and the tillage of this lond left.
The Parish of Great Wigborough
Item: we find that there was Sir Henry Teye, Knight, who had enclosed and fenced in, it is estimated, 100 acres of pastureland and wood within the Parish in Messing and Wigborough and 8 acres of arable land of his own in Wigborough within the Parish of Messing. It has been thus enclosed for 13 years and now Master Thomas Teye, Squire, is the owner of it and the tillage of the land has ceased.
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