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The Domesday Book | Yaxley History

The Domesday Book was completed in 1086 and amounts to a survey of much of England and parts of Wales. The manuscript record was ordered by King William the Conqueror. The attached image shows the entries for Yaxley, Stanground, Woodston, Haddon, Water Netwon, Sibson, Stibbington, Glatton, Old Fletton, Orton Waterville and Chesterton (modern names).

An earlier Anglo Saxon survey known as the Tribal Hidage written around 670-690 makes reference to the Sweordora who may have been a trible living in the vicinity of Sword Point at Whittlesea Mere but the Domesday Book would be the first ‘great census’ in which the village of Yaxley is named.

Yaxley is referred to as Lacheslei along with a details of the nearby great lake known as the Whittlesea Mere in the document. Yaxley overlooked the great Mere and smaller Meres, which were very important fisheries until drainage in the middle of the 19th Century.

The Domesday entries read as follows with glossary following :


YAXLEY 

In YAXLEY the Abbot of Thorney had 15 hides to the geld. [There is] land for 20 ploughs. There are now 3 ploughs in demesne; and 38 villans having 18 ploughs. There is a church and a priest, and 24 acres of meadow and 20 acres of scrubland. TRE worth 15l ; now 12l.

WHITTLESEA MERE

In Whittlesey Mere the Abbot of Ramsey has 1 boat, and the Abbot of Peterborough 1 boat, and the Abbot of Thorney 2 boats. The Abbot of Peterborough holds of the Abbot of Thorney 1 of these 2 [boats], and 2 fisheries and 2 fishermen and 1 virgate of land, and for these he gives pasture sufficient for 120 pigs, and if there is not enough pasture, he feeds and fattens 60 pigs with corn. Moreover, he finds timber for 1 house of 60 feet, and stakes for the enclosure around the house. He also repairs the house and the enclosure if they are in decay. This agreement was made between them TRE.

The fisheries and meres of the Abbot of Ramsey in Huntingdonshire are valued at 10l,[those] of the Abbot of Thorney at 60s , [those] of the Abbot of Peterborough at 4l.

GLOSSARY

Demesne

Land in the pesonal possession of a Lord, used to support that Lord rather than the tenants working it.

Geld

Tax, assessed per hide.

Hide

The standard unit of land measure, used to assess geld (tax). In theory each hide was divided into four equal parts, called Virgates.

Plough

One way of assessing the value of an estate was to estimate the number of eight-ox plough teams needed to cultivate the land. Thus, a Domesday entry might say a ‘Then as now, 2 1/2 ploughs”, meaning that there was enough land on the estate to require 2 1/2 ox teams to work it. This measure could also be used to assess the value of the estate for taxation.

TRE

Shorthand for the Latin phrase Tempore Regis Edwardi, which translates loosely as ‘In the time of King Edward’. Generically used to indicate the state of things before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Villan

The nominally free inhabitant of a village, a villan was better off than a bordar.

Virgate

A measure of land equating to one-quarter of a Hide.