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Returns

Latin, breve.

The Latin word breve had more than one meaning in Domesday Book. In the context of landholding, it refers to the written return made by a landowner to the Domesday
commissioners. Such returns are referred to in a number of Domesday entries (SUS 10,82. GLS 28,7. 75,2. WOR X2-3).

Exactly what these returns contained, or who were required to make them, is not known, though the presumption has been that returns contained details of the
livestock, population and appurtenances on each manor and were supplied by the tenant-in-chief or his officials. By extension, the fiefs of tenants-in-chief which compose the bulk of the text for each county are conventionally known as Returns.

The word return is also used by historians - though not the Domesday scribe - to refer to the
circuit reports submitted by commissioners to royal officials at Winchester. It was from these returns that the scribe compiled Great Domesday Book. These circuit reports are also sometimes known as 'original returns' though this usage is not consistent.

For more detail, see David Roffe, Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000).

See also
writ.
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