Manorial Terms

Manorial law has brought a large number of terms to define elements within it. This glossary provides you with an index of the most popular terms. It has been taken from a work by the University of Nottingham and the book "The Law of the Manor" by Christopher Jessel.

Court Baron

- is held by the Lord and Lady of the manor for their tenants to administer the customs of the manor and enforce payment of dues and services. The name "court baron" means court of the men of the lordship/manor.  So in Saxon and early Norman times men were known as barons.

View of Frankpledge

A system of mutual responsibility for the maintenance of law and order, usually consisting of around ten households.

Court Leet

A Court Leet of the frankpledge and dealt with then administration of local justice for common offences.

A Reputed Manor/Lordship

A reputed manor/lordship was what a true manor became when land sales had reduced the number of free tenants to one, so that a court baron could not be held.

Merchet

If the daughter of a serf was to marry someone from another manor her father needed the permission of the lord. If she married someone from the lord’s manor the children would belong to the lord. Lords always gave permission but charged a fee for his loss. Many lords charged a fee for marrying a man from their own manor.

Manorial Incident

A right contained within the lordship eg, sporting, mineral etc.

Foldage or Faldage

A right to force the lord’s tenants to pasture their sheep on the lord’s land. This meant that the lord would have all the manure from the sheep.

Estovers

A right to wood and plant life for building or fuel.

Botes

A right to take wood from common land.

Pannage or mast

The right to acorns. This sounds like a strange benefit however acorns were a valuable food for pigs.

Gallows

The right of the lord to sentence a tenant of the manor to capital punishment (death) if found guilty at the court leet.

Medieval Acre

A fictional unit like a foot.  It was the area that could be ploughed in a day.  This varied enormously depending on who was doing the ploughing and what equipment or beasts they had.

Turbuary

The right to cut turf or peat for fuel.

Medieval Acre

A fictional unit like a foot.  It was the area that could be ploughed in a day.  This varied enormously depending on who was doing the ploughing and what equipment or beasts they had.

Assizes of Bread and Ale

Right for the lord to levy tax on the sale of these items.

Accidental Services

Occasional payments to the lord, such as due on the death of a tenant.

Incorporeal Hereditments

Lordships and the titles we sell are incorporeal hereditaments.  Incorporeal is a right, so cannot be seen of touched.  A hereditament passes on death to an heir, a chattel passes to the family.

Knight's Fee

The holding of one knight in fee. Manorial land granted in return for the production of a knight for so many days a year in time of war.  Where a lord did not have a knight to offer, he would sometimes attend himself or provide other fighting men such as archers.

Enfranchisement

The process by which copyhold land (that held by a tenant of the manor proved their ownership by a copy of the court roll) became freehold land (no longer held by a tenant paying rent).