11. Court Roll of the Manor of Downham, 1310-1327. Edited by M. Clare Coleman
An essential source for the workings of the manorial economy within the Isle of Ely.
This is the earliest surviving roll of a long series for the Bishop of Ely's manor of Downham. It comes from a high point of prosperity of the medieval village, revealing a wealth of detail about its physical state and its inhabitants. Much concerns the regulation of agriculture by recourse to the village bylaw, and there is much incidental information in suits between tenants about land, livestock and crops. Of particular interest are the peculiarities of the fenland economy, such as sedges, turves and fisheries. The proceedings of the court also contain information on the bonds of society, upon manorial officers like the steward and hayward and the disabilities of villeinage reflected in payments of servile dues like leyrwite and heriot.
The roll is also of interest to the legal historian, providing insight into the procedure of the manorial court and leet at a time when this was developing rapidly.
The complete roll is edited in extenso in the original Latin with English summaries to each court. It thus complements the brief but well-known extracts made by F.W. Maitland from the similar roll of Downham’s larger neighbour, Littleport, in The Court Baron 1891. An introduction sets the document in context. There are full indexes.
ISBN: 0 904323 11 0 ; 978 0 904323 11 5
Price: £ 9.50
Introduction. Latin texts with English summaries. Index of persons and places. Index of subjects. 120pp. Softback.
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Clare Coleman discovered English medieval history during an active retirement after a professional life spent in government service. Subsequently she embarked with great enthusiasm on a study of medieval Downham, publishing in 1984 Downham-in-the-Isle A Study in an Ecclesiastical Manor in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries.Sadly her death in 1988 prevented her from seeing this volume in print, but her family and friends and hope it may serve as a fitting tribute to a remarkable person, warmly remembered.