Manorial Rolls

A Manor Court was often known as a Turn Court or Court Baron and was held every three weeks.

The Leet Court where more serious matters were heard at the Michaelmas and Easter Courts at Pontefract.   The court consisted of a jury of tenants presided over by the Steward on behalf of the Lord, under him was the Bailiff.   The Grave or Reeve was the representative of the tenants elected to collect rents etc.

The records Source : Thoresby – The History of Methley – Castleford Library.

The Methley Rolls covered the period from 1331 to 1590, from the reign of Edward III to Elizabeth I.  The rolls demonstrate the use of the court as an organ of petty justice and estate administration. They provide evidence of title to copyhold land and record the proceedings administering customary law as well as statutes as to the Assize of Bread and Ale.

The rolls are stored in Leeds City Library Archives and are parchment records written in latin and later, early english.    The co-authors of the Thoresby book, ‘The History of Methley’, the Rev. HS Darbyshire and GS Lumb in the introduction offer their thanks to Mr JE Myers for his careful and accurate translations.

This must be one of the great understatements – having seen some of the rolls, I can say that the work must have taken years of reading, diligent recording, rewriting and improving.   The work illustrates mostly management of land tenure and care such as scouring ditches, making stiles and livestock management.
It was clearly noticeable that records of dates for summons or enforcement of judgements were identified by holy dates eg.
….before the feast of the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary
….on the feast of the conversion of St Paul
….before the feast of the nativity   etc
The sovereign of the time was always recorded at each sitting.   Other items of note were the references to Hoghton (Glasshoughton) and Castleford in relation to the village of Methley.   Many instances refer to the felling of oaks.    In 1499 Master Dymmoke and Master Tempest (owner of Dunsford House) were appointed ‘Impers’ (umpires) over a disagreement of land ownership.    The earliest reference to the West Riding occured in 1505.
The following are just some extracts from the Manorial Rolls in subject order.

Coal Extraction
1341AD 6th July    Hugo Wyland was accused for digging up coal, he claimed he did not know he needed a licence of the court  – fined half a mark.
1367    Robert del Holte and John de Deusum were given licence to dig a coal pit for 1 cartload in land which they hold some 20 feet in circumference.
1371    Roger Broun and other tenants have a day until next court to inform the steward of those who dug sea coal (coal) and also the people who did the carting.
1413    It was presented that Rich and John Cooke carried away wood, young oaks, and that the same John took by night and carried away coal from the coal pit of the Lord.
1537    It was enjoined on Robt Crosland that he shall fill his pits in at the northern side of Crooklaine (Park Lane) this side of the Feast of the Purification of the BVM.

Land Rights/Transgressions
1372 ad    A proclamation is made that if anyone having the right to a messuage  and bovate of land should present himself  at the next court sitting to prove  his right and receive the aforesaid tenement according to the custom of the  manor under pain of forfeiture.  According to the decree that those who do not  excercise the claim within three courts of this proclamation.
1377   John  del More was summoned to answer Wm Broun and his wife Marjery on a plea why he  had not rendered to her a cooking pot, a silver buckle, silver ring and a  curtain which Isabella del More had bequeathed.
1392   Adam de Wombwell, a  bastard held a messuage, two bovates and three acres of land near to Wakefieldgappe died,  the lands and tenements fell to Master Ludwyke of the Hospital (Pontefract) as was the custom.
1448   The Lady Beatrice Waterton  bought through the court the marriage right of Margaret Norman bondswoman from  Leon Lord of Welles.
1508 14th October   It is enjoined upon all inhabitants  in Mickletown and Woodrow who have any land opposite a lane which leads to the  Mill of Flett (Fleet Mills) they shall make that lane sufficiently.
1510    It was enjoined on Robt Ward that he shall make a fence called a wer in  Swailand next the Haire (A weir at the river Aire).
1525    It was enjoined  on Robt Hemsworth that he cause to be purified Holmedike.
1525    The inquest  according to the officers who hath viewed and laid houses upon the north side of  the Church hath granted to Geo Sharpe and his heirs – houses and land between  the north church wall.and the highway and abutments at the west end and the  church stile.
1562  24th October    It was agreed that one of the fower (4)  fields in Methley shall be fallowed and so to proceed one after another and if  hereafter they do enclose within the sown fields the same to lie open when the  field is fawghe?
1579 5th June    Penalty on Alan Christopherson that he.shall  throw open a parcel of land in the Westfield of Methley near Barnebie Laithe   penalty iijs. ivd.
1579 5th December    Penalty on Robt Pickering that he  shall not make a custom of going with his horses on Crooke Park as far as the  Westfield pen. vjs. viijd.
1584    The Jurors say that the water of the Kelder  (Calder) lately encroached and won half a rood of land in a place called  Beckcrooke.
1584    14th October    Penalty on John Pearson that he shall  repair and build up a barn in Mickletown   pen. xxs.
1587     Robt Layborn the  Younger, Wm Nunns the Younger and Andrew Hagger have not made their fences in  the Kirksike (Churchside)    They wouldn’t know it yet but one year earlier, Sir  Walter Raleigh had introduced the potato to this country which was to have a  significant effect on farming and diet.

1350 a.d.    Tuesday before the feast of Phillip and James,   John Malet  and Thomas Wooderowe had fished in the waters of the Earl of Lancaster and the  Master of the Hospital of St. Nicholas at Pontefract in the Calder in the  meadows between Methley and Altofts.
1352     Robert de Imworth (Rector) was  attached to answer because he took many hares found in the Lords (Manor)  warren.
1352     Thos son of Robt of Methley for snaring fowl (300)  partridges
1389     A swarm of bees found within the Lordship before the  Nativity of St John the Baptist was sold to Wm Cooke.
1413     The Jurors say  that John Leper had a great dog which he used to slaughter many hares without  licence  a precept was given to attach him.
1423     It was presented by  the Forester that the dogs opf John Hallifax killed a fawn in the park of the  Lord    precept given.
1572   8th April    The Jury presented that Wm Watson  placed nets for taking (blank) in the close called Hespes without licence fine  ivd.    Also they say Wm Haggar killed hares contrary to statute fine ivd.

1341 a.d.    Monday after feast of St Michael Robt Alisson was fined he drew  blood from Marjery Guderoide.
1350    The Jurors say thatJohn de Windeshouer  drew blood from John Allaine – fined iijd.
1351    Thursday on the eve of the  Epiphany –  The constables of Methley present that  John Allain and Thos del Wro  are disturbers of the peace both by force and arms wondering at  night.
1375    Two tenants were guilty of contempt one alleging a knife was  drawn over a matter of debt.    One of them (Wm Hallifax) had his fine pardonned  on condition he gave up the game of Cockfighting.
1406    The Jurors say that  Wm Marshall at Morehouse drew the blood of Wm Spanold, beat, injured and ill  treated him against the peace – fined in amercement.
1414    Margaret,  daughter of John Deuson a villein of the Lord was de-flowered by   Wm  Crosbie, priest.   A penalty for defiling a bondswoman was vid., if she became  pregnant she would be unable to fulfil her duties.
1435    The Jurors say  that Wm Dawson and Richd Lockington assaulted Robt Marshall and wounded him with  arrows.
1564  5th October    The Jurors present James Knowles (vjs. viijd.)  who made an affray on Robt Townend and shed the blood of his head, penalty as  appears.
1584   8th October    They say that Rich Sharpe made an affray on Wm  Duffaine of Sandall and drew blood fine iijs. ivd. and Rich Walker on Thos Oates  fine iijs. ivd. and that Thos Oates made affray on Rich Walker and drew blood  fine xs. (Rich Sharpe was Constable).
1590    Inquisition taken here for the  Lady Queen (Eliz. I) by oath of John Young,   Rich Burton, Robt Webster,  Edw Dowson, Wm Taylyer, Wm Hollyns, Robt Shann Jr.  Henry Kitchin, Robt  Shann Sr, John Pearson, Robt Leyburne Jr, Ralph Dobson and  Rich Perkin  Jr. who shall have a day for giving verdict until the next court to be held here  on the 21st of May.   Having made oath that Rich Burton iijs. ivd. made assault  and affray on John Nalson and he is amerced as above.

Ale Tasters
1348 ad    John Smith and others brewed ale contrary to the assize. This year was the first visit of the plague (Black Death).
1350    Tuesday after the Feast of St. James the wife of Adam Prann, the wife of Hugo del Wro and others were fined for brewing and selling ale without license.
1356    The Jurors described John Allaine as a contumelious person.
1356    Adam Prann and others brewed and sold ale contrary to the assize.
1357    Christiana Wright  wife of Adam Prann and others were fined for selling weak ale in short measures.
1360    William Prann was tried for wrongfully witholding a quantity of lead.
1362    After the Feast of All Saints, all the tenants chose Wm Prann for the office of Grave (Reeve, rent collector) for which he took oath  –  if you cant beat ‘em?
1362     William Prann was often brought to the court for non repair of ditches, along with many others including Rectors.
1368    Wm Prann again was assessed by the court, for holding a swarm of bees belonging to the Lord.
1369    Wm Prann asked the Lord to excuse him from the Office of Grave  –  which was agreed.
1370    The Ale Tasters presented that Wm Pinder did not expose an ale stake (sign).
1383    It was presented by the Ale Tasters that Cecelia of Thorne and Alice Brown brewed ale but exhibited no sign : Also Wm de Thornton sold ale in dishes not measures.
1429   A penalty is laid on all the brewers that they should not sell ale after the eigth hour before none.
1512    The Jurors say that the wives of Thos Burton, Thos Bawdewyn, Rchd Sharpe, Wm Shillito, Rchd Shann, Wm Shann, Wm Parkin, Rchd Nalson, Thos Couldwell, John Shann, and John Marshall are bakers and brewers and brew and sell ale contrary to the assize  –  fine.
1559  26th October    All ale houses shall have a pole (ale stake) before their door.
1566    Penalty on Richard Speight and all others who keep ale for sale that they shall not have by night or by day any person or persons who are not of good fame but the constable has knowledge of them.  penalty xs.

Other Misdemeanours
1374 ad    It was ordered in the court by consent of the Steward that if any of the tenants of Methley should harbour any dice players or persons involved in unlawful sports shall on conviction be fined by the Lord of the Manor.
1374  4th October    Wm Prann fined for taking 2 cartloads of wood from enclosed land on Methley Myers (Mires).
1374    Adam Brown was taken to the suit of the Lord for allowing his dog to worry sheep and a sow.
1375    William Prann fined for not cleaning ditches at Olderodegappe.   Matilda Seamster was proved to be a listener (guilty of idle chatter re other tenants).
1409    The Grave was fined for not doing his duty in ensuring a man accused of debt attended the court as commanded.
1458    It was enjoined on tenants not to dig clay at Ethingap  –  not to cut rushes except from his own land.
1465  4th July    The town was charged with a number of matters  –  of which included not presenting that John Scholes a villein otherwise called John Saxton was placed at learning without a licence.  Also for not having an obstruction cleared (hedges) on the common way to the Allerton ferry (before the canal).
1491  20th August    The Jurors say that Robert Owron threatened the Jurors.
1496    Penalty on Wm Taylor the weaver and Wm Tinker that they shall not strip bark from trees within the Lordship.
1506    A penalty on all who live in the Town (Methley) that they shall not keep any vagabonds beyond………days.
1523    The Jurors present Brian Gibbonson because he has carried away 2 waggon loads of stone beyond stonilane  –  fine ivd.
1535    It was enjoined on the tenants that they shall repair Methley Brige and the Briglaine and everyone will be ready on the day appointed by the bailiff with his implements and wagons.1537    It was enjoined on Robt Turner that he shall keep his dogs ‘hummeled’  – the ball of the foot or 3 claws cut out, or, fastened up for the whole year.
1544    It was enjoined on John Dicconson that he shall remove a midden in the Kings highway before the house of Richard Sharpe  this side of the Feast of Pentecost and that neither he nor anyone shall keep any filth on the Kings highway.  penalty vjs. viijd.
1549  29th July    Penalty that no hunters shall hunt without warrant after partridge, pheasant or fox without licence.   penalty vjs. viijd.
1549  December    Penalty that none of the inhabitants shall keep any women being with child not begotten by their men but shall put them from their houses.
1554    Penalty on John Vevors and other inhabitants that neither he nor they shall exercise deception by watering grain (to make it heavier).  penalty vjs. viijd.
1563  21st April    Paines that everyone that hath any land in Cutlerlaine shall carry one load of stones there before the Feast of St. John the Baptist.
1571Penalty on the inhabitants of Methley that none of them after the date of this court shall collect acorns within the Lordship except from his own lands.  A penalty on the inhabitants, they shall not receive the pigs of anyone without licence of the bailiff  penalty  xs.
1576    the Jurors say that Wm Roides has encroached on the waste of the Lord in Mickletowne and has erected a house called ‘swincote’ (pig house) without licence to the Lord. fine  ijd.
1578  25th April    The Jury present that the inhabitants of Methley shall not wear felt hats on Sundays or Feast days (protecting the woollen cap trade).

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