The Manor of Wakefield
The Manor of Wakefield was recorded in the Domesday Book, in 1086: In Wachefeld, cum IX berewicks. Sandala, Sorebi, Werla feslei, Micleie, Wadesuurde, Cru’betonestun, Langefelt, Stanesfelt.
It was one of the largest in the country, and was formed of three branches, at Wakefield, Halifax and Holmfirth. The first two both lay along the river Calder, with the gaps between them occupied by another large manor, the Honour of Pontefract. Each branch was itself formed of multiple subinfeudatory manors, with minor lords collecting rents from their tenants, and paying their own rental to the lord of Wakefield manor. Much of the land around Wakefield itself was described as lying in waste. This is commonly taken to mean it had been abandoned or razed in 1069, following widespread revolts against the new king and his subsequent action against them – the Harrying of the North.
A manor was a large estate of land, run for its lord (owner) by several types of court. There were two important types of court held within manor of Wakefield: the court baron, which primarily dealt with property transactions, and the court leet, which dealt with general law and order. The subinfeudatory manors operated their own court baron, whilst four bailiwicks were established to manage court leet. A chief bailiff oversaw each of these – Wakefield, Dewsbury, Holme and Halifax – and his constables, elected once a year by each subinfeudatory manor (or constabulary). Offences were recorded in the rolls, with the fine that usually formed their punishment.
Records of the court leet, and the court baron for some manors, were recorded in the rolls of Wakefield manor. Most rolls survive from 1274 up to 1925, when the manor was dissolved. The medieval rolls are typically formed from pieces of animal skin parchment, each several metres in length, stitched together at the top, with one roll for each year of business. They are written in abbreviated Latin, and most are legible, though some have suffered damage over the centuries and are either difficult to read, have chunks missing, are generally too fragile to consult, or entirely lost. Some of the rolls have been transcribed and translated into English. The Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society website – court rolls reference to Wakefield – is here The collections page, here
The Halifax Tourn
Court leet was held twice a year at Halifax and it was called the tourn. The moot hall, next to the church, played host, as likely did the nearby inns afterwards. Residents from Halifax parish would assemble in the hall to cries of oyez (“hear ye”), and watch as the jury of twelve men was sworn in. Each constable would declare themself, and present all of the misdemeanours that had occurred within his constabulary in the last six months. The most common of these were affray (fighting) and baking and brewing against the assizes (breaking rules on price and quality).
In the 14th century the constables may have been followed by the foresters. They were responsible for maintaining the enclosed hunting park of Sowerbyshire, encompassing Erringden and Sowerby townships. If any resident broke in and hunted the game within, or felled trees, or fed their livestock on fallen acorns without license, they were named and fined.
Heptonstall was first represented by its own constable in 1434-35:
Ricardus Wedohope, constable, presented that all was well.
The next constable appeared in 1440:
John Robertshagh, constable, presented that Emmot Machon, wife of Roger Bentley, Agnes Draper, wife of John Mason, wife of Richard Horsfall, wife of William Robertshagh, wife of William Morley, brewed and sold againt the assizes. John Robertshagh drew blood from Thomas Robertshagh against the peace.
A list of Heptonstall’s known constables is available at Calderdale Companion.
The tourn continued to be held into the 19th
century, but its records were kept separately to court baron and are not known
to have survived.
The Manor of Halifax-cum-Heptonstall
Neither Halifax nor Heptonstall were mentioned in Domesday. The word ending -tonstall denotes a vaccary, i.e. a cattle farm. Several vaccaries, including Rawtonstall and Saltonstall, were established by the lords of Wakefield manor on hillsides throughout Calderdale. We see similar in Lancashire with places called -booth. Heptonstall thus either did not exist by the time of Domesday, or it was of too little importance to be recorded. The reason for the absense of Halifax remains a mystery.
Halifax and Heptonstall together formed a single manor, from at least the twelfth century (if not earlier) until the early seventeenth century. This manor, along with all of the other rectorial (church) manors within Wakefield manor, had been granted to the Priory of Lewes, in Sussex, by the Earls of Warren. The Priory therefore had the right to hold court baron, and to receive rents and tithes from the tenants.
In the 1530s the monasteries were dissolved by Henry VIII, and this included the Priory of Lewes in 1537. The manor passed to Thomas Cromwell, who was executed for treason and heresy in 1540. It then went to Anne of Cleves, fourth wife of Henry VIII, as part of a settlement to annul their marriage. After her death in 1557 it was purchased by the Waterhouse family.
In the 1600’s tenants were encouraged to pay a large sum of money, typically equal to several years’ rent, to enfranchise their lands into freehold. Records of enfranchisement have survived for Halifax, but not for Heptonstall. Records of the court baron for Halifax-cum-Heptonstall have survived from 1570 onwards. In 1571 the lord and his jury made demands of the tenants:
We pene every householder in Heptonstall towne to cary away all coble stownes that noyeth the hye way or the watercourse betwix this and the nexte courte iiijs a pice.
We pene Thomas Draper, Richard Robertshaye, Richard Bentley, Richard Mitchell, John Crowshaye and everie one of them at that tyme that ocupy the water that thi make clene the water course and all the hyewaye from the towne end to Harshaye to cary away all coble stones or other thinges in iijs iiijd a pice.
We pene every man that did not apeare at the lords courte in iiijd a pice.
We pene Richard Migleye for layinge litter or dounge in the watercourse above his owne house for marringe the water that goeth to Edward Thomas house in ijs that he to make all clene before Martlemas.
A typical property sale, called a surrender, translates from Latin as follows:
Richard Draper of Souterhouse in the township of
Wadsworth, yeoman, surrendered all of his messuages, lands, tenements etc. in
Heptonstall, now in the tenure of Roger Lee, to the use and behood of Laurence
Bentley of Heptonstall and Richard Thomas of Pallyshowse and their assigns,
from the 17th day of October last for the term of seven years. Fine
for entry, 3s.
A Rental of Halifax and Heptonstall, 1439
On the 16th December 1439 a record of the tenants of the manor and their holdings was made. It has been transcribed from a chartulary now kept within Cotton collection of manuscripts at the British Library. The residents at Heptonstall were as follows:
Thomas Michel of Grenewodde for Heghegrenewodde
John de Grenewod of Grenewodlee for Grenwodlee, Gloghehous, Gyllotroide, Roberd Shaghe, Hemptonstalle
John Michell for Hevereldshaghe
Richard de Grenewode for Coldenynge, Walkerwyfynge
William de Grenewodde for Leyrynge, Eschap More
Richard Grenewodde for Hemptonstalle
Henry Sutcliff for Hemptonstalle
Robert Sutcliff for Appultreleghe
John Pyghehils for Hemptonstalle
John de Aykeroide for Baggeroide
Robert Walker for Hemptonstalle
Joan wife of Ralph of Stancefelde for Hemptonstalle
Great Tithe Composition Deed, 1536
The Priory of Lewes, being hundreds of miles away from Halifax, commuted their tithes into cash payments which were easier to collect and transfer. The right to these tithes was itself sublet, and in 1534 a lease of 99 years was sold to Robert Waterhouse. The price was high, due in part to a large bribe paid to Thomas Cromwell, and Waterhouse demanded the tithes in kind, which came to a much higher amount than the cash payments the tenants were accustomed to paying. This caused great upset amongst the landowners, and a commission was held, in which the cash tithes due were decided and fixed. The Heptonstall landowners were recorded as follows:
Thomas Greenwood, Thomas
Sutcliffe, Robert Bentley, Robert Sutcliffe, William Bentley, William Mytchell,
Richard Robertshaw, Richard Draw jun., Robert Utley, Robert Thomas, John Law,
Robert Brigge, James Greenwood, John Ingram
The Manor of Heptonstall
The combined manor was split in two in 1626, when Heptonstall was purchased by Rev. Charles Greenwood, Rector of Thornhill for £500. Court was held at his residence, Greenwood Lee. Greenwood died in 1642, whereupon the manor was purchased by the Saviles, who had already come to possess most of the other subinfeudatory manors within Halifax parish.
Court rolls survive from after the Civil War into the late 1800s. The first roll to survive was dated 1651 and it gives the list of copyholders, some of whom were:
John Greenwood of Hall, John Crabtree elder, John Crabtree, Abraham Sutcliffe, David Brigge, Sara Crosley, William Cockcroft of Mayroid, John Shackleton of Reaps, Henry Cockcroft, Thomas Crabtree, William Sutcliffe, William Hartley, Michael Hellywell, John Heape, William Draper of Heptonbrigge, Thomas Draper, Richard Nayler, John Thomas, John Sutcliffe of Poples, Mary Nayler, John Halsted of Mythom, Thomas Greenwood of Learinges, Abraham Hudson, John Greenwood of Colden, Thomas Greenwood of Edge, William Mitchell of Heverellshay, Wiliam Mitchell of Highe Greenwood, Jonas Thomas, Symon Sutcliffe, John Thomas of Mouldgrayne, William Aykeroide, John Sutcliffe of Hoohoile, John Shackleton of Stonesheygate, Richard Wadsworth of Widdoppe, Richard Roberteshay, Thomas Draper, John Kendall, Richard Grymeshay, Thomas Cockcrofte, James Dobson, Thomas Greenwood of Dickbooth in right of his wife
A large number of entries in the 1650s refer to surrenders from the 1640s, indicating that the courts were heavily disrupted, if not suspended entirely, during the War:
John Roberteshay who late held to him & his heires within this mannor one messuage called the Hingandroyd & the landes therewith used & a watercourse milne called Hingandroyd milne, in the yeare of our lord 1641 or thereaboute did convey & enfeoffe the same to th’use of himselfe for the terme of his life. And the remaynder thereof after his death to th’use of Richard Roberteshawe his sonne in bayle with remaynders over, or the like in effecte. And that the said John is dead. And that the said Richard is about the age of xij yeares & is in the custody of Mary Roberteshawe his grandmother. And ought to pay xijd in the name of a grissom to the Lord. And that hee ought att his age of discretion to doe fealty.
Another list of tenants was given in 1810:
John Mitchell for North Reaps, William Mitchell for Clough House, Henry Sutcliffe for Lee, John Foster for Slack, Henry Cockcroft of Burlees for Dam Stones, John Sutcliffe of Lee for Weet Ing and Hebden Bridge, Michael Heaton for Height Top and Colden (dead), Mary the wife of John Foster of Slack for Lee and Great House in Colden, Thomas Jackson for Hack Gate, John Greenwood for Hebden Bridge, Thomas Foster of Slater Bank for Hebden Bridge Lanes, Gamaliel Sutcliffe for the Bank, John Greenwood and John Priestley for Upper Smithy, William Greenwood for Slater Ing, John Crossley for Goose Hey, John Sutcliffe for Tubb (dead), William Greenwood of Land for Edge Hay Green, William Greenwood of Ingham Well for the same, John Midgley of the East Norfolk Militia for Lane Head at Sandall
Summons papers from the 19th century show that court was later held at various inns, such as the Hold in t’Wall at the bottom of the Buttress.