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Lordship and township in Durham

Larson, Peter Lionel (2000) Lordship and township in Durham. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The neglect of northern English estates has concealed unusual features that mark them as different from southern manorial regimes. This thesis reveals several of these by examining the local administration of the bishopric of Durham during the pontificate of Walter Skirlaw, in a time when ad- hoc adaptations to the effects of the Black Death crystallized into permanent machinery. Evidence for this comes from the bishopric halmote court books. These unique books were the primary court record but also documented the bishop's rights in the estate. Their nature and internal references to other records provide a convenient window onto the changes occurring in this period. The township was the basic bishopric administrative unit in County Durham, and in many ways it had not changed since the eleventh century or before. The Durham township retained a communal identity, often functioning as a corporation. The bishop relied extensively on the township for the smooth running of the estate, while the townships looked to the bishop for justice and organization. Village officers, such as the reeve, continued to play important roles for both bishop and villagers without suffering from divided loyalties. The halmote was the focus of the estate administration, and in it we see adaptions to contemporary problems such as the decline of serfdom, vacant land and judicial stagnation. Tenants and officials were reprimanded, rules were enforced, private litigation was heard, and the bishop's rights were ruthlessly enforced. Although it was a villain court, free men appreciated the convenience of the halmote and used it to transact their business. In all of this, the Durham township was a prominent and willing partner with the bishop, and both gained immensely from this cooperation.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2000
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:27

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