Social and economic history: Appendix 1

Pages 102-103

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2, General; Ashford, East Bedfont With Hatton, Feltham, Hampton With Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1911.

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The materials available for the economic history of Middlesex are neither copious nor consecutive. Of the Hundred Rolls-usually such a valuable source of information-only two fragments are extant, (fn. 1) and yield little or nothing to the purpose. The first membrane contains a list of persons holding land to the value of £20 who are not knights ; and on the second, Kensington is the only manor described with any particularity. The majority of the Court Rolls at the Record Office are too late to be interesting, and it is only for the one manor of Harmondsworth that there is a consecutive series long enough and early enough to be valuable.

While the earliest roll of this manor belongs to the reign of Edward I and contains nothing of interest, there is a complete series of eighteen rolls, extending from 1 Richard II to 21 Henry VIII, (fn. 2) which, with a couple of custumals and some rentals and ministers' accounts, give with some detail an interesting history of an interesting manor. There is a very complete custumal of the time of Henry I, and rentals of the reign of Edward III, Richard II, Henry VI, and Henry VIII; and although the two earlier compotus rolls, of dates in the reigns of Edward II and Richard II respectively, yield little beyond prices and wages, a third, dating from the time of Henry VII, contains a full account of the tenants' services. (fn. 3)

Seeing the paucity of the available material, it is particularly regrettable that the fine custumal and almost complete series of Court Rolls of the manor of Isleworth, belonging to the duke of Northumberland at Syon House, are not accessible for research. Only a rather disjointed account of the manor can be derived from the brief summary of the Syon Manuscripts published by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, (fn. 4) and the materials at the Record Office, where there are Court Rolls for periods in the reigns of Edward III, Henry VI, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VIII, besides some useful ministers' accounts for the reigns of Edward III and Richard II. An inquisition of 28 Edward I would afford much valuable information as to the tenures, were it not unfortunately so badly torn and discoloured as to be practically useless. Another Isleworth inquisition throws light incidentally on one of the indictments of the Peasants' Revolt. (fn. 5)

Teddington is the only other manor of which we have any consecutive account; and that only for the reigns of the three Edwards, in a series of compotus rolls extending-with a good many breaks-from 3 Edward I to 50 Edward III. (fn. 6) These are usefully supplemented by a rental of 3 Richard II, and a custumal of the manor in a Westminster Abbey custumal of the time of Henry III, in the British Museum, (fn. 7) which also contains accounts of the tenants and services on the manors of Paddington and Knightsbridge, Greenford and Hayes. For no other manors are there more than isolated documents, and for many only rolls too late to be of any use. The Domesday of St. Paul's, published by Archdeacon Hales for the Camden Society, includes two Middlesex manors-Sutton and Drayton-and for both there are later Court Rolls, and for Sutton a minister's account, in the library at St. Paul's Cathedral, which by the kindness of the librarian I was permitted to examine. The numerous prebendal manors, held in Middlesex by canons of the cathedral, are not included in the Domesday.

For the period of the Black Death we are practically reduced to such information as may be derived from one Court Roll of the manor of Stepney, and from some compotus rolls of Teddington for the years immediately following the plague year. The post mortem inquisitions do not help us at all; there are no more of them for 1348 and 1349 than for other years, and the owners of estates who died held lands in other counties as well, and it is not certain, and in some cases not even probable, that they died in Middlesex at all. Then the registers of institutions to benefices, which are generally so useful in estimating the plague mortality (Seebohm and Rogers, Fortnightly Rev. ii, iii, iv), are missing for the diocese of London for the years 1337-61. Materials for the history of the Peasants' Revolt, so far as it concerns Middlesex and Middlesex men, are found in Walsingham's Historia Anglicana and the Gesta Abbatum, in John of Malvern, in Froissart, and in the Anominalle Cronicle, first printed in the original French by Trevelyan (Engl. Hist. Rev. 1898), and in a translation by Professor Oman in his Peasants' Revolt. There is also an account of the burning of the houses at Highbury and Knightsbridge in Stow's Annals. The two latest modern authorities on the rebellion are, of course, the late André Réville and Professor Oman. The former writer (Réville, Le Soulèvement des Travailleurs d' Angleterre en 1381, App. ii, 199-215, 225, &c.) has collected and printed all the unpublished records concerning the revolt in the several districts. These consist chiefly in the indictments in the king's courts of the rebels, in escheators' accounts of their confiscated effects, and in Patent and Close Rolls containing orders for inquiries, appointments of commissions to try the rebels and of keepers of the peace. A list of the rebels excluded from the general pardon is printed in the Rolls of Parliament. The poll tax returns for the county are not extant. (Oman, Peasants' Revolt, 158.)

For the Markets and Fairs Palmer's Index (and the Report of the Commission on Market Rights and Tolls, vol. liii, 188) gives a list of all grants and references to the originals in Charter and Close Rolls, &c., and Middleton's Agriculture in Middlesex and Owen's New Book of Fairs record the later survivals of these early markets.

Norden in his Speculum Britanniae gives a good general description of the county, but no details as to inclosures. For these there are only two mutilated membranes, in the Record Office, of the depopulation returns made by Henry VIII's commission in 1517, as well as a list, also fragmentary, of suburban inclosures in a Lansdowne manuscript in the British Museum. Another Lansdowne paper contains some information about inclosure disputes and regulations for the preservation of the chase at Enfield. Middlesex owes to the Middlesex Record Society the publication of an abstract of the County Sessions Rolls, from the reign of Edward VI to 1709, made by Messrs. Jeaffreson (4 volumes) and Hardy (1 volume). These rolls are a mine of valuable information as to vagrant and poor laws, plague measures, the dangers of the neighbourhood of London owing to highway robbery, &c. Some Caesar papers in the British Museum contain valuable information about the poor law and so do the Domestic State Papers.

A good deal of information about the alien immigrations into the suburbs of London has been brought together by the Huguenot Society, in their Publications, chiefly derived from returns of Aliens and Lay Subsidy Rolls.

Finally, the reports on the county made to the Board of Agriculture in the later years of the eighteenth, and early years of the succeeding century are our chief sources of information for the agricultural conditions in the county, inclosures and wages at that period.


  • 1. athe Public Record Office. They have not been printed.
  • 2. P.R.O. Ct. R. bdle. 191, Nos. 13-31.
  • 3. P.R.O. Rentals and Surv. ptfo. 11, No. 20 ; rot. 443, 444, 446, 449 ; Mins. Accts. bdle. 1126, Nos. 5, 6, 7.
  • 4. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, Appendix 232 (Syon House MSS.).
  • 5. P.R.O. Ct. R. bdle. 191, Nos. 33-40; Inquisitions, 41 Edw. III, No. 49 and 1 Ric. II, 146a; Mins. Accts. bdle. 916, Nos. 17-20.
  • 6. P.R.O. Mins. Accts. bdle. 918, Nos. 1-25 ; bdle. 919, Nos. 1-11: Rental No. 456.
  • 7. B.M. Add. Chart. 8139.