Shopland Domesday

Article by Richard Kirton - September 2012

The Domesday record for Shopland reads as follows:

"Scopelanda [Shopland] was held, in King Edward's time, by 1 free man as 5 hides.
Ingelric held (it) afterwards.
Now Count Eustace (holds it) in demesne.
Then as now 5 villeins and 2 sokemen; and their lord used to have 'soc and sac'.
Then as now 9 bordars and 2 ploughs on the desmesne and 5 ploughs belonging to the men.
(There is) wood(land) for 40 swine and pasture for 400 sheep.
(There are) 2 beasts, 54 sheep, 14 swine, 13 goats and 3 rounceys.
It was then worth 6 pounds; now 10.
There also 1 free man held half a hide and 30 acres, which Ingelric seized; then as now 1 plough (was there) and 3 bordars and this is apraised as part of the 10 pounds.

Apparently, in Domesday Essex, it was probably not the happiest place to live. By 1086 only seven per cent of the residents were freemen. In the process of Norman colonization, the Saxon men of Essex lost not only their lands but also much of their liberty. Life may have been better for the nearly 50,000 sheep recorded in 1086.

In this unhappy situation there is recorded in Domesday Book a farm and a row of cottages called Scopelanda (Shopland) listed today on the Ordnance Survey map as Shopland Hall.


King Edward - Edward the Confessor (1042-1066).
Ingelric - Descendant of Ingelger, Count of Angou (about 845-888).
Free man - Independant peasant who owed few dues to the manor.
Sokeman - A man who owed obligations such as attendance at the manor court.
Hide - A land division, it formed the basis of social organisation. The size of the hide was essentially determined by the peasant's standard of life.
Count Eustace - of Boulogne, he was married first to Goda, King Edward's sister (died c1056) and then to Ida of Lorraine. He was father of Godfrey of Boulogne and King Baldwin of Jerusalem. Also held land in Somerset.
Villein - An unfree portion of the manorial peasantry, but in the 11th century villanus meant no more than 'villager' and carried no suggestion of unfree status.
Bordars - Cottagers with a cottage and little, or no, land.
Plough - Eight-ox plough team.
Rounceys - Horses, probably pack-animals. It is not always clear whether horses or mares are indicated. Donkeys, asses and mules make occasional appearances in some records.

There are several references of this Essex Shopland place-name in the Feet Of Fines For Essex, volumes I and II, for the years 1199 to 1315. Place-name spellings are as found in the English Place-Name Society's publication The Place-Names Of Essex.

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