All the information in this article was taken from ‘Domesday Book – History from the Sources’ published by Phillimore in 1979.
In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Domesday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085 ‘at Gloucester in midwinter . . . the King had deep speech with his counsellors . . . and sent men all over England to each shire . . . to find out . . . what or how much each landholder held . . . in land and livestock, and what it was worth.’
The Domesday Book was undertaken not only as a means of tax assessment, but also so that ‘every man should know his right and not usurp anothers’. Because it was the final authoritative register of rightful possession, the natives called it Domesday Book as an analogy to the Day of Judgement.
The Domesday Book described old English society under new management. Foreign lords had taken over but little else had changed. The chief landholders and those who held from them are named, and the rest of the population was counted.
The detail below shows the names of the primary landlords in Heyford and of those to whom the land was sub-let. It also shows the size and value of the land, the number of ploughs, and the working population, both slaves and free. It also shows the name of the person who held it prior to 1066.
Hide. A unit of land measurement, generally about 120 acres. A measure of tax liability.
Virgate. A fraction of a hide, usually a quarter, notionally 30 acres.
Land of the Bishop of Bayeux
William Peverel holds (from the bishop) 2 hides and 1 ½ virgates of land in Heyford.
Land for four ploughs. In lordship 2 ploughs; 2 slaves;
7 villagers and 2 smallholders with 1 plough.
Meadow 10 acres.
The value was 10s.; now 20s.
Bishop and Aelid held it freely before 1066.
Land of the Count of Mortain
(Robert, Count of Mortain was a half brother of King William 1. He also held land in Weston Favell and many other manors scattered all over England.)
Walter holds 1 virgate and 3 parts of 1 virgate. Land for 1 plough, which is there, with 2 slaves.
A mill at 16s; meadow, 4 acres
The value was 10s; now 30s.
Bishop held it. The jurisdiction lies in Bugbrooke.
Ralph holds one virgate of land and two parts of 1 virgate.
The jurisdiction lies in Bugbrooke. Land for one plough; it is there.
Meadow 1 acre
The value was 5s; now 10s
Wulfstan held it.
Land of Gilbert of Ghent
Sasgar holds 1 hide and 1 ½ virgates of land from Gilbert in Heyford. Land for 2 ploughs.
In lordship ½ plough.
3 villagers with 1 smallholder have 1 plough.
Meadow 4 acres.
The value was 10s; now 20s
Extract from “The Story of Heyford” – Local book series published in the late 1990’s
Volume 3 of 4 | Chapter 4 of 17 | Page 8
Heyford’s Historical Heritage | How the books were created