Manuscripts and Special Collections


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.


Adjoining, or lying right next to


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


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


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


Area of unploughed grass between strips in an open field


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


Alternative word for ‘abutting’


Enclosed (fenced or hedged) piece of land


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


Small piece of enclosed land attached to a house


Witness statement made in a case brought before a court


Strip of land in a common meadow


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


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


Fine levied on people who did not attend the court


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


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


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


Alternative word for furlong


A person owning land absolutely, in ‘fee simple’


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


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.


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


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


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


A long, narrow piece of ridged arable land

lay impropriator

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


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


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


Land grazed by animals


Public display of repentance for an ecclesiastical crime


Unit of area (40 perches to 1 rood)


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




Unit of area (4 roods to 1 acre)


Another name for 'land'


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


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


Someone renting land from a proprietor


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


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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Manuscripts and Special Collections

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