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Glossary

This select glossary provides definitions for words used in this 'Laxton' resource. Some words in this glossary also have other meanings. Only the meaning which is relevant in the context of Laxton is given here.

abutting

Adjoining, or lying right next to

acre

Main unit used to measure area until the late 20th century, containing 4 roods

arable

Land used to grow crops such as wheat, barley, oats or beans

bailiff

Official appointed by the manorial court. He acted as the intermediary between the steward and the tenants

balk

Area of unploughed grass between strips in an open field

burleyman

Official appointed to see that the by-laws made by the manorial court were observed. Sometimes referred to as ‘the by-law men’

butting

Alternative word for ‘abutting’

close

Enclosed (fenced or hedged) piece of land

Common

Waste land which certain villagers were allowed to use to graze animals

common fields

Arable and meadow land worked co-operatively by farmers, and divided into unenclosed strips

common rights

Customary rights enjoyed by villagers in open field villages, for example to graze animals on the common fields and the Commons

Court Baron

Court held by the lord of the manor or his steward, to administer the customs of the manor and enforce payment of dues and services

Court Leet

Court held by the lord of the manor or his steward, to deal with the administration of local justice for offences against the manor

croft

Small piece of enclosed land attached to a house

deposition

Witness statement made in a case brought before a court

dole

Strip of land in a common meadow

enclosure

Process of separating open fields farmed co-operatively into closes owned or occupied by individual farmers

encroach

To occupy, farm or otherwise make use of land which was not yours, for example ploughing too far into neighbouring land on the open field

essoign

Fine levied on people who did not attend the court

excommunication

Punishment forbidding an individual to attend church services or take communion. ‘Greater excommunication’ involved the exclusion of the individual from all Christian company

fallow

Arable land not sown with crops, but left in its natural state for a period of time, usually one year

fealty

Allegiance or fidelity; to ‘swear fealty’ was to make an oath of loyalty

flatt

Alternative word for furlong

freeholder

A person owning land absolutely, in ‘fee simple’

furlong

Area of land made up of a number of strips, coming from the term a ‘furrow long’

gate right or gait right

(In Laxton): customary right to pasture an animal on the open fields at particular times of the year. Also, after enclosure of the common meadows in the 1720s-1730s, a right to a share of the proceeds of sales of grass from the sikes. Always spelt ‘gait’ in Laxton, although usually spelt ‘gate’ in other places and in the Oxford English Dictionary

gore

Irregular shaped piece of land left over at the side of the field when the rest had been divided into long strips

aide de camp

Army officer acting as personal assistant, secretary and confidant to a general.

headland

Piece of land at the edge of an open field or furlong, over which the plough would turn

inclosure

Alternative spelling of enclosure, commonly used in the 19th century

jury

Tenants of the manor chosen each year to adjudicate offences and matters of dispute in the manor court

‘land’

A long, narrow piece of ridged arable land

lay impropriator

A layman (rather than a clergyman) entitled to receive the tithe

manor

An administrative unit governed by a manor court. Tenants paid rent and service to the lord of the manor and had to abide by the customs of the manor. In Laxton the manor covered the whole parish, regardless of who owned the land

meadow

Low-lying area too damp to grow crops. Grass growing there was harvested for hay

open field

Arable or meadow land farmed co-operatively by farmers, and divided into unenclosed strips

pasture

Land grazed by animals

penance

Public display of repentance for an ecclesiastical crime

perch

Unit of area (40 perches to 1 rood)

pinder

Officer appointed by the Court Leet to round up straying cattle on the open fields and to impound them until the proper fine was paid

presentment paper

List of manorial offences presented to the Court Leet for judgement

presentment bill

List of ecclesiastical offences presented to the Archdeaconry court by churchwardens

proprietor

landowner

rood

Unit of area (4 roods to 1 acre)

selion

Another name for 'land'

steward

Representative of the lord of the manor, who presided over the manorial court

stint or stinting

Limitation on the number of animals that could be grazed in a particular place

strip

Unit of landholding in an open field, made up of a number of ‘lands’

suit roll

List of people (‘suitors’) eligible to attend the manorial court

syke or sike (pronounced ‘sick’)

Unploughed area in an open field, usually low lying and damp and unsuitable for ploughing, where grass grows

tenant

Someone renting land from a proprietor

tithe

Tax of one-tenth of agricultural produce (hay, corn, sheep etc.), given to support the church

toft

Homestead, house or outbuildings. Occupiers of tofts in Laxton were eligible to graze animals on the commons and wastes. ‘Toft and croft’ is a house with land attached.

 

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