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.
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.
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.
1564Â 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.
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.
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).