|Wrington Village Records
Studies of the history of a Somerset Village
Estreat roll of court fines, 1528
Pages 27 - 28
Source: Xerox copy of original MS. at Somerset Records Office. (Ref: D/P/ Wri).
This document, of Tudor date but still reflecting a medieval organisation, is a record of the financial income of the Lord of Wrington Manor, from the manorial courts held there. It is ca1led an "estreat", or "extract" : extracted, that is, from the general records of court business, financial or otherwise. It is written on a roll made of strips of parchment, sewn together, 18" long and 6" wide. Deciphering the closely written hand was extremely difficult, and the liberal use of abbreviations - as with the manorial accounts - did not make things any easier.
The roll covered three courts: the first on 6th November 1528, the second on the 18th January and the third on 15th April, 1529, in the fifth year of Abbot Richard Whiting: the last abbot of Glastonbury who was to be so tragically executed on Glastonbury Tor at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries. He was, in fact, born in Wrington.
Most of the extracts are concerned with fines, one of the main sources of income from the manorial courts. Richard Parsons was fined 12d. because he failed to repair the roof of his barn and shop as ordered; William Wastell was fined 3d. because he was summoned to attend the court and failed to appear ; Joan Durnedale is fined 4d. for not repairing the roof of her grange as she was ordered. One remarkable character is Joan Shipster. She was fined 6d. on 6th November for failing to repair the roof over her yard and bakehouse; on 18th January she was fined again, 11d., for the very same offence; and by April they must have been so fed up with her that they fined her only 4d. The court certainly controlled - or endeavoured to control - the maintenance of buildings in the village.
People also paid entry-fines in the court: fees for taking up the tenure of a property. Richard Ballard, with his wife Margerie, pays £6 13s. 4d. as the entry fine for a messuage (dwe1ling-house) with curtilage, garden, ½ acre of orchard, and a close of 1½ acres, and 20½ acres of land, meadow and pasture in strips scattered in the open fields. Edmund Leverage and .John Chaundler act as securities for his finding this large sum. A property in Burrington containing a messuage with curtilage, three perches of orchard, a croft of 1 acre 1 perch, and 6 acres 2½ perches of assorted strips, cost only 33s. 4d. in entry fine.
In the stock section, animals coming to the lord of the manor via the courts, either as heriots or picked up by the reeve as strays, are described in great detail: an ash-grey bu1lock, a grey foal, a red calf, white and black sheep, white ewes, a little red ox, and a black horse. The values placed on them by the court are interesting, but seem very variable. Bullocks vary from 16d. to 9s. ; foals from 4d. to 12d.; cows, 10s. and 13s. 4d.; calves, 20d.; rams 4d., ewes 8d. and "sheep" 8d. and 10d.; an ox is valued at 3s. 4d. and a horse at 2s. The cheaper animals were usually the strays, which were perhaps in very poor condition. ;
During the year John Squyer, John Smethes, John and Agnes Lawtre all died, and heriots were due on their estates: 2 cows and 2 bullocks, which would have been their "best beasts", went to the lord of the manor. Among the names mentioned in the proceedings, Credewell is probably Keedwell, still a local name; and Joan, widow of John Haydon, who took up the property at Burrington for 33s. 4d., was perhaps a connection of the family who gave their name to "The Haydens" in the High Street.
MR. J. HERRSTEIN.