|SOME NOTES ON MEDIEVAL ENGLISH GENEALOGY|
Copyright Stephen Swailes.
This document provides a transcript of the assessment of Northamptonshire authorized in 1301. It has been produced to make the original material accessible to a wider public and in listing about 8000 individuals I hope it will achieve that aim. Although the rolls have been transcribed in full this transcript is best seen as a working document to which corrections and additions are welcomed.
The original roll E/179/155/31 was thought to be the 1377 poll tax for the county but the PRO now classifies it as recording a taxation authorised by parliament in late October or early November 1301. According to the PRO, however, the collection was delayed but must have been completed by August 1303. The total collected for the country was £49,755 7s 3.5d  and the total collected for Northamptonshire was £1737 4s 5.25d. However, the surviving roll lists only ten hundreds which contributed about £947. Assuming that wealth was evenly distributed across the county, the roll gives us a little over half of the taxpayers (54.5%). The hundreds listed on the surviving roll are:
As such, the roll covers all of south Northamptonshire and the areas around Peterborough, Oundle and Thrapston. Through its detailed listings we have an insight into the residents of medieval Northamptonshire including many places that later were depopulated. Further details of the roll and its contents are given on the National Archives website (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/e179/).
This particular assessment was based on a fifteenth of the value of a person’s movable goods. Thus multiplying the value collected, shown against each person’s name, by 15 gives the valuation of that person’s taxable wealth. Previous taxations had set a minimum value for goods that should be taxed but in 1301 all property was taxed .
There are a few cases where the value collected was two pence such that people with goods amounting to as little as two shillings and six pence were taxed and this appears to have been the lowest amount considered by collectors. It is far from clear, however, exactly what was assessed in arriving at a particular valuation for a person and so we do not know how their wealth was made up. Professor Willard shows that, despite the instructions issued to collectors, assessment practice varied between urban and rural locations and from county to county .
Willard reveals that the 1301 assessment included the goods of the clergy and the instructions to assessors made no mention of a minimum valuation below which a person would be exempted. However, officially exempt materials included armour, riding horses, jewels, the clothing of knights, gentlemen and their wives and vessels of gold silver and brass. In addition to certain possessions of the gentry being excluded it seems that household goods, clothing, food and small tools used in a man’s trade and livelihood were not assessed. The general rule seems to have been that people, including the peasantry, should not be taxed to the point that they would be deprived of the tools with which they earned a living.
Examples of goods that were assessed included animals, crops and stocks of goods held for trade. Typical goods includes wheat, barley, drage, peas, beans, livestock, fish in ponds, boats, fishing nets, carts, firewood, thatch, turves (peat for burning), hay and straw. Household goods included robes, pans, pots and beds. For a detailed description of the goods that could be taxed and their values see the Yorkshire lay subsidy of 1301  and early Huntingdonshire rolls . The Public Record Office also produces a detailed guide to early taxation . Several rolls of this period have been transcribed and those for Yorkshire, Sussex, Cumberland and London are available on www.british-history.ac.uk
The following points are taken from a Warwickshire taxation of 1332  and may be indicative of what happened in Northamptonshire. Chief collectors summoned local men to value the possessions of residents in each place. The local collectors assessed the value of taxpayers’ moveable goods and the amount of tax that was due before collecting and delivering it. The amounts due from each person were written by a clerk onto a roll. The chief collectors examined the rolls and would identify local collectors who had allowed under-valuation or avoidance. Two rolls were made. One was for levying the tax and one was for the Exchequer.
At the end of the lists for some places two, three or four names are linked to a letter T alongside them. This is taken to mean that they were the local men who assessed and collected the tax and this is indicated in the transcripts. Sometimes, for example, four names were connected whereas at other times the fourth from last and the last name on a list were connected. This may mean that the third and second from last were also involved in assessing those to be taxed.
The rolls simply record the names of those people found liable to pay tax. The lists are mostly of men although some women are usually named in all but the smallest of places. Missing from the lists, therefore, are most women and an unknown proportion of men who fell outside the net cast by the assessors. It seems clear that, as now, most people took steps to reduce their exposure to tax but it is harder to tell how much this led to individuals avoiding tax altogether, and thus not making the list, and how much it is a near complete list of adult males albeit of those who had minimised their taxable possessions for the purposes of assessment.
The later poll taxes contain detailed lists of, predominantly, people who were married or widowed since they were more likely to be able to pay and the same is assumed here of the men and women listed.
The original roll is divided into two columns. For each hundred, the vills are listed side by side in the two columns. The sum collected from each vill is given at the end of the listing for each vill and the sum total for the hundred is given at the end of the listing for the hundred.
The transcripts of each hundred shown here begin at the top left, continue down the left column until the hundred ends then returns to the top of the right column. What this means is that a place that appears about half way into the transcript could be located in the original near the bottom of the left column for the hundred or near the start of the right column for the hundred.
The original document gives names in Latin form. Most Christian names and many surnames are abbreviated in the original. Since abbreviation presents little difficulty with Christian names they are usually shown here in the modern English form. Where a Christian name was unclear I have shown what was written in the original.
Carolyn Fenwick’s poll tax transcripts may be helpful to anyone checking the original . She points out that some Christian name abbreviations have more than one legitimate expansion. They include:
|Agn’||Agneta or Agnes|
|Marg’||Margaret or Margery|
|Jul’||Julia, Julianna or Julian|
|Is’||Isabella or Isolda|
|Mat’||Matillis, Matilda or Matthew|
|Dionis’||Dionisia or Dionisius|
Many surnames and occupations are Latinized, eg, bercarius for shepherd, but many are not. To minimise errors in interpretation, all surnames are reproduced as written in the original roll (or at least as my best effort at transcribing them). Against a small proportion of names the transcript contains notes or comments giving, for example, possible alternative readings of the name as well as interpretations of occupations and place names.
Square brackets are used to show where an omission mark was present and contain an expansion of the missing letters, eg, Port[er].
The symbol ~ placed at the end of a name (eg, Cok~) represents a likely contraction such as where the ending appears to have been omitted or where some other substantial abbreviation has occurred as indicated by a bar drawn above the name. Note however that some names in the original have what appears to be a contraction sign but do not appear to be contracted or abbreviated. Readers are thus advised to check the microfilm if they are drawn to particular surnames. The use of an apostrophe (eg Coop’) ‘suggests that ‘er’ or ‘re’ was omitted.
Curved brackets are used to show my best guess at a letter or letters written in the original, eg, P(ott)er.
The use of underbar spaces (for example, H__ton) shows that while the original is clear I was unable to identify a letter or sequence of letters but another reader might be able to see the name more clearly.
The use of two dots .. shows that the print-out from which the transcript was completed is discoloured, damaged or for some other reason illegible. In most cases I feel it is unlikely that the microfilm would be any clearer but in some of these cases the original roll may be readable.
Some letters and combinations of letters are particularly difficult to interpret. These include
Where uncertainty exists over interpretation the context can sometimes give a guide to the most likely spelling. But there are times when alternative spellings are plausible.
Amounts collected are given in pounds (libra, l), shillings (solidus, s) and pence (denarius, d), half pence (obolus, o) and farthings (quarta, q). Roman numerals have been expressed in the transcript as decimal fractions to facilitate any analysis that readers may want to carry out.
The Latin forms of occupations and occupational surnames have been retained in the transcript and some examples of Latin forms include;
|Weaver||Textor, Textoris, Tixtor|
Locative names (ie, of the or at the)
|ad aquam||at the water (Attwater)|
|ad aulam||at the hall|
|ad crucem||at the cross|
|ad ecclesiam||at the church|
|ad fontem||at the well (Attwell) or at the spring|
|ad furnem||at the bakehouse|
|ad molendinium||at the mill|
|ad portem||at the gate (Attgate)|
|de aula||of the hall|
|de ponte||of the bridge|
|de coquina||of the kitchen|
|de monte||of the hill|
|de ulmo||of the elm|
|in anglo||in the corner|
|in venella||in the lane|
Filius (son of), filia (daughter of) and uxor (wife of) have been modernised for the most part with the abbreviations s/o, d/o and w/o respectively.
Readers tempted to use this transcript for family history research are reminded that the listing of residents predates the earliest parish registers by about 250 years. Some families were using hereditary surnames by 1300 but some were not and some of the names given here are bynames. Bynames were used to identify a particular person but were not hereditary.
Readers are advised to view the microfilm of the original roll to check the reliability of transcript. This is especially important where abbreviations are indicated. Please remember that this is a working document and is not offered as a definitive transcript. It has been produced from a print-out from a microfilm of the original roll which is over 700 years old. Where the original roll has faded certain letters or parts of letters may not have appeared on the prints and this effect can mislead transcribers. And even when they are quite clear transcribers can make mistakes.
There is a transcript of 58 Northamptonshire towns and villages in
‘The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381 – Part 2 Lincolnshire – Westmorland’ by C. C. Fenwick, published by Oxford University Press, 2001. This book lists taxpayers in Northampton (1377) and for 1379 in the hundreds of Fawsley, Higham Ferrers, Huxloe Hamfordshoe and Willybrook.
The following summary tables for the 1301 taxation show for each location:
The total number of places named in the roll is a little over 200. The most populated places were Irthlingborough (156), Brackley (141), Finedon (136), Peterborough (126) and Titchmarsh (124). The smallest places were Pilsgate (3), Bughley (4), Thurning and Whitfield (6), Newark (7), Torpel (8), Duncote, Burcote and Churchfield (9).
The highest valuation was for Brackley at £24.15 followed by Werrington at £13.38, Finedon at £12.85, Titchmarsh at £12.78 and Irthlingborough at £12.28. The average amount collected per person ranged from £0.06 in Thurning to £0.29 in Bughley – note that both these places were very small. The average number of people paying tax was 40 with a median of 34 (range 3 to 156).
Size of the vill had little if any association with the average wealth of the people taxed. The correlation between the number of taxpayers and the average amount collected indicated that average wealth decreased with increasing size but that the relationship was very small . Furthermore, excluding the highest single valuation from the calculation of average wealth in each place reduced the correlation to zero suggesting that there was no relationship between size and average wealth.
The highest individual payments were by the Bishop of Durham at Lilford who paid 60 shillings and three farthings, Eustace de Hache at Preston Capes who paid 41 shillings three and a half pence, and Richard of Middleton at of Stene who paid 40 shillings one and a quarter pence. The lowest individual assessments that also constituted the highest amount paid in a particular place were between two and three shillings. This occurred in 11 places including Newark, Thurning, Elmington, Burcote and Warmington. The average of the highest valuations in each vill was a little under 12 shillings. In 22 places the wealthiest taxpayer contributed 30 per cent or more of the total collected from each place. The highest percentages were at Stene (66), Whitfield (57), Thorpe Waterville (52) and Churchfield (50).
Many of the people taxed contributed as little as two pence but only one person was valued at less than this - Emma le Walnere of Stuchbury who was assessed to pay one and a quarter pence and was thus the lowest rated taxpayer in the surviving survey.
In reading the tables that follow the reader is advised of the following points. Cross-checks were made between the original recorded totals and the newly computed totals and in most cases they matched. In some cases, however, and despite double checking, small discrepancies remained for some vills. This may reflect some errors in the arithmetic behind the original totals and/or errors in this transcript.
The normal pattern in the roll is to give a total amount collected for each place listed – that is, a single total for each place. Where this happened the recorded total is shown in the table. However, there are several cases where a places are taxed together, eg listed as ‘cum membris’. Here, one or more hamlets are separately identified although only a single total for the place with its hamlets is given in the roll.
So that readers can see the totals collected for each place identified, the tables also show totals computed from the modern transcript where a separate total was not recorded in the original. To show where this has happened place names are followed by an asterisk.
|Number paying tax||Total collected||Highest Individual amount||Total collected||Average collected (per person)||Average excluding the highest individual amount||Highest amount as proportion of total collected|
|Harlestone & Brockall||36||7||3||3||20||7.16||0.20||0.18||0.14|
|Brokhole & Muscot||48||106||4||10||8.75||5.32||0.11||0.10||0.10|
|Weedon Lois & hamlets||54||6||15||0||10||6.5||6.75||0.13||0.12||0.08|
|Easton Neston & Holcot||65||7||0||0.75||20||7.00||0.11||0.09||0.14|
|Evenly & Astwick||30||4||7||2.25||12||2||4.36||0.15||0.13||0.14|
|Astwell & Falcot||35||5||0||4.5||15||1||5.02||0.14||0.13||0.15|
|Aston & Appletree||23||54||6.5||18||5.25||2.73||0.12||0.08||0.34|
|Norton & Thorp||57||7||2||6.75||11||8.75||7.13||0.13||0.12||0.08|
|Barby & Kilsby||89||9||14||3.25||25||0.75||9.71||0.11||0.10||0.13|
|Ashby St Leger||46||6||5||6.75||11||10.75||6.28||0.14||0.13||0.09|
|Badby & Newnham||52||6||2||6.5||5||7.5||6.13||0.12||0.11||0.05|
|Catesby & Newbold||13||28||8||7.75||1.40||0.11||0.08||0.31|
|Benefield & Upper Benefield||55||9||10||3.5||19||4||9.51||0.17||0.16||0.10|
|Woodcroft & Glinton||35||119||9.75||26||6.75||5.99||0.17||0.14||0.22|
* denotes taxed ‘cum membris’ and the total shown has been calculated from summing the individual assessments.
** incl 20 listed with Finedon.
 Parliamentary Taxes on Personal Property 1290 to 1334, J.F. Willard, Mediaeval Academy of America, Cambridge Massachusetts, 1934, page 344.
 Taxes Upon Moveables of the Reign of Edward 1, J.F. Willard, The English Historical Review, 28, 111, 517-521, 1913.
 J.F. Willard, 1934, pages 73-80.
 Yorkshire Lay Subsidy being a Fifteenth Collected by 30 Edward 1 (1301), W. Brown, Yorkshire Archaological Society Record Series, Vol XXI, 1897.
 Early Huntingdonshire Lay Subsidy Rolls, J.A. Raftis and M. P. Hogan, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto, 1976.
 Lay Taxes in England and Wales 1188-1688, M. Jurkowski, C.L. Smith and D. Crook, Public Record Office Handbook Number 31, PRO Publications.
 The Lay Subsidy Roll for Warwickshire of Edward III (1332), F.C. Wellstood and W.F. Carter, Oxford University Press, 1926.
 The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381 Part 1 Bedfordshire – Lincolnshire, edited by C.C. Fenwick, Oxford University Press, 1998, page xlv.
 Correlation coefficient minus 0.19, significance level .008.