Contents - Index


manor
Help Main Page Return to manors Return to Domesday data



Latin, manerium.

Manors were recorded throughout Domesday Book; but it is not always clear whether the word had a technical meaning. Over a century ago, Maitland argued that it did and meant 'a house against which geld was charged'. But his arguments were disputed then, and are still the subject of debate. The best evidence comes from
circuits 3 and 6. In circuit 6 there is no room for argument. Every property there was meticulously categorised as either a manor, an outlier, or a jurisdiction, these definitions being emphasised by marginal annotations - M, B, S - which reinforced the meaning in these terms in the text.

In circuit 3, many properties were classified as manors in a similar manner but the status of other
holdings in the circuit is less clear. A handful were explicitly stated to be dependencies; the remainder were described as 'lands'. Just what this description signified has been the subject of some debate. Round believed that it was without meaning, simply a loose synonym for the word manor. More recently, it has been argued that 'lands' were properties which rendered their public duties - the payment of taxes and the performance of military service - through explicitly designated manors. In circuit 3 at least, the statistical evidence for this usage is extremely strong.

The most illuminating account of the many types of Domesday manors remains that of F.W. Maitland, Domesday Book and beyond (1897), despite the criticism which his attempt to define a technical meaning for manors attracted. R. Welldon Finn, An introduction to Domesday Book (1863), is the fullest of more recent accounts. Conflicting interpretations of the meaning of the term 'manor' are outlined by J.H. Round, 'The Domesday manor', English Historical Review, vol. 15 (1900), pages 293-302; John J.N. Palmer, 'The Domesday manor', Domesday studies, edited by J.C. Holt (1987), pages 139-54; and David Roffe, Domesday: the Inquest and the Book (2000).