A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 8, the City of Coventry and Borough of Warwick. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY TO 1545
It can only have been a small cluster of dwellings by a weir on the Avon that gave Warwick its name, (fn. 1) but by the 6th or the 7th century there may have been a flourishing Anglo-Saxon community in the area. Such at least is the possible implication of the two cemeteries discovered nearby, one a mile above, the other a mile below the site of the later burh. (fn. 2) The establishment of the burh by Ethelfleda in 914 and Warwick's subsequent status as a shire town must have given some impetus to economic development. The town was, at any rate, sufficiently important to have had one of the two royal mints set up in Warwickshire (the other was at Tamworth). Coins are first known to have been issued in the reign of Athelstan (925-39). Nothing further is known of the mint until 973, but thereafter it may have been in continuous production until 1066. It continued working after the Conquest until the mid 12th century: the last known issues are from Stephen's reign; and payments made by a Warwick moneyer in 1157-9 were probably connected with the winding-up of the mint. (fn. 3)
By the beginning of the nth century the owners of rural estates were acquiring town houses in Warwick: two are mentioned in 1001 and 1016. (fn. 4) In 1086 there were as many as 112 houses appurtenant to the rural estates of 27 of the king's 'barons'. (fn. 5) The Abbot of Coventry had 32, and prominent among the others were the bishops of Worcester (with 9) and Chester (7), the Count of Meulan (12), Ralph de Limesi (9), and Robert de Stafford (6). Among those with a single house were Richard the huntsman, Nicholas the crossbowman, and Stephen Stirman. Stephen may have been one of the boatswains who helped to perform the town's military obligations; (fn. 6) it would seem that these were men of some substance, for Stephen also had four hides of land in the county and two houses in Southampton. (fn. 7)
The king's 113 houses, the 112 of his barons, and those of the 19 privileged burgesses (fn. 8) suggest a population of over 1,000. But the total population of the town was perhaps nearer 1,500, for in the suburb of Coten End, just outside the burh, were 100 bordars cultivating garden plots. (fn. 9) The Survey offers no other instance of gardening on such a large scale and its existence here may reflect the demands of the military garrison. Nothing more is revealed of the economy of the town itself, though four rural estates in the suburbs are more fully described. (fn. 10)
The prosperity of the medieval borough no doubt depended largely on its standing as an administrative and military centre: its trade rested above all on the needs of the castle. Warwick's situation away from important routes (fn. 11) seems to have denied it a share in long-distance trade, and even within Warwickshire it suffered from the competition of numerous other markets and fairs. (fn. 12) Consequently it was never in medieval times a commercial or industrial centre of more than local significance. At first it retained its Domesday pre-eminence in the county. Warwick contributed £12 9s. 4d. to a tallage made in 1205, though Brailes and Ilmington, both with over £9, were not far behind. (fn. 13) By the early 14th century, however, Warwick had fallen well behind the growing industrial centre of Coventry: in 1327 it had 84 taxpayers compared with Coventry's 200; (fn. 14) in 1332 its taxpayers contributed £17 16s. (a 10th) compared with about £47 at Coventry (a 15th); (fn. 15) and in 1340 it was assessed at £6 13s. 4d. for a subsidy of a 9th of merchants' goods, while Coventry compounded for £66 13s. 4d. (fn. 16) Warwick was nevertheless still the second largest and wealthiest town in the county. In 1332 Stratford-upon-Avon paid only £12 7s., and Birmingham, Alcester, and Brailes each paid about £9, and in 1340 Stratford and Birmingham were assessed at only £2 each.
No doubt the market at Warwick was as old as the borough, though the first implied reference to it is a grant by Henry de Beaumont, Earl of Warwick (1088-1119), of a tenth of the toll of Warwick to one of his priests. (fn. 17) John du Plessis in 1247 and then William Mauduit (d. 1268) both granted the nuns of Catesby Priory (Northants.) freedom from tolls at the market. (fn. 18) The market days - Wednesday and Saturday - are first recorded in 1279. (fn. 19) The first fair was granted in 1261 when John du Plessis secured one for eight days around the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula (1 Aug.). (fn. 20) In 1268 William de Beauchamp was granted a seven-day fair at Michaelmas, (fn. 21) and in 1290 another, for fifteen days around the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul (29 June). (fn. 22) The Michaelmas fair was in 1413 moved to the vigil, feast, and morrow of St. Bartholomew (23-25 Aug.), (fn. 23) but no new ones were established until 1479 when two three-day fairs were granted, around the feasts of St. Simon and St. Jude (28 Oct.) and St. Philip and St. James (1 May). (fn. 24)
The High Cheaping or High Market (now the Market Place) was the centre of trading activity in the town, and parts of this area and the adjoining streets were associated with different commodities and trades. The Sheep Market, the Wheat Market, the Women's Market, and Shoemakers' Row, for instance, were parts of the main Market Place ; (fn. 25) and near to it were Horse Cheaping (now New Street), (fn. 26) Rother Cheaping (later Cow Lane, now Brook Street), and Hog Hill. In the centre of the High Market, in an area known as the Barley Market, was the Booth Hall, or Tolbooth, built by Thomas de Beauchamp (d. 1369). (fn. 27) Stalls in it were rented to traders until 1505 when it became the residence of the manorial bailiff. (fn. 28) Trading was therefore transferred to the Moot Hall (fn. 29) in Horse Cheaping, a building with four shops under it in 1482-3. (fn. 30) Traders remained there until 1554 when the newlycreated corporation was given the Booth Hall. (fn. 31) Shops in 'les Shamulles' were mentioned in 1482-3, (fn. 32) and shops under the 'courthous' formed part of the castle estate in 1422-3. (fn. 33)
The earls' conduct of the markets and fairs and their profits from them give some indication of the slowness of Warwick's trade. It was perhaps in an effort to stimulate trade that John du Plessis, soon after being granted the fair in 1261, exempted all attending it from tolls for six years and freed all but strangers from stallage. (fn. 34) In 1268 tolls were worth about £20; (fn. 35) in 1279 the markets were valued at £24 a year; (fn. 36) in 1298 tolls were worth £20 and stallage £1 10s.; (fn. 37) and in 1315-16 tolls and stallage were together worth £21 4s. (fn. 38) In the early 1320s tolls and stallage actually yielded about £19, though the disturbances of 1321-2 (fn. 39) kept some merchants away and reduced the profits to £15. (fn. 40) At this time all goods brought into the town suffered an additional imposition, for grants of murage and pavage were secured by Guy de Beauchamp in 1305 (for seven years) and 1315 (for three years), and of pavage alone by Thomas de Beauchamp in 1332 (for seven years again). (fn. 41)
It was on account of burdensome tolls that merchants and tradesmen were staying away from Warwick and that Thomas de Beauchamp freed them from tolls, terrage, and stallage in 1359. (fn. 42) The earls' profits from the markets and fairs were not cut off completely, for this exemption presumably did not apply to inhabitants of the town. Stallage still yielded £4 12s. 10d. in 1398-9, and in 1401-2 Henry Fisher leased the profits of stallage and of the courts for £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 43) The late 14th century also saw an additional imposition on incoming goods in the form of pontage for the repair of the 'great bridge'. Grants for this were made to groups of burgesses in 1374, 1377, and 1380, each time for three years. (fn. 44)
Trade continued to languish in the 15th century. One indication of decay is provided by the relief from taxation given to the town in 1444-5. The walled town ('Warwick infra') was relieved of £1 and the suburbs ('Warwick extra') of £4 4s. 6d. when a fifteenth and a half was levied ; (fn. 45) their tax quotas had been fixed in 1334 at £8 9s. 4d. and £11 0s. 4d. respectively for a tenth. (fn. 46) The Michaelmas fair was moved to another date in 1413 after Richard de Beauchamp had reported that it made no profit because of six or seven other fairs in the neighbourhood, held at the same time. (fn. 47) The profits from shops and stalls, both inside the Booth Hall and out, amounted to £5 8s. 9d. in 1422-3, but only £3 in 1451-2 and £2 15s. in 1479-80. (fn. 48) In the late 15th and early 16th centuries the bailiff regularly accounted for £5 from this source, but the actual profits did not always reach this: in 1504-5, for instance, he was allowed £1 13s. 4d. for repairs to the Booth Hall. (fn. 49) Richard de Beauchamp (d. 1439), in addition to having the Michaelmas fair moved, planned an ambitious scheme which, had it been carried out, might have significantly improved the town's trade. He proposed to deepen the shallow parts of the Avon between Tewkesbury and Warwick, to enlarge the arches of bridges, and to compound with millers to let ships pass. (fn. 50) Waterborne traffic was not, however, to reach Warwick for three centuries more.
While many Warwick men must have taken part in the local and regional trade centred upon the town's markets and fairs, others undoubtedly traded further afield. Several Warwick merchants were among the Warwickshire woolbuyers whose business notably prospered in the 14th century. The town sent representatives to a number of the king's assemblies of wool merchants. (fn. 51) Prominent among them was John le Whitesmith, who went, with three others, to York in 1322 and, together with Thomas Avery, to London in 1338. Whitesmith and Avery were among the five men responsible for the collection of 1,000 sacks of wool in the county in 1337, and Whitesmith was again a collector in 1341. But both men also exported on their own account: they shipped more than 65 sacks to Dordrecht about 1338, for example, and Avery was one of the English merchants who had set up an illegal staple at Bruges in 1332. Another Warwick merchant was William Thurkyl, the M.P., (fn. 52) who contributed two sacks to the collection of 1337. (fn. 53) When wool was again collected in the county in 1347 it was in Warwick, in a 'strong house' at St. Sepulchre's Priory, that some of it was ordered to be stored. (fn. 54) It was almost certainly in connexion with another of these collections that Robert and Lawrence de Shepeye, of Coventry, complained that their wool, goods, and money had been confiscated at Warwick and other places in the county. (fn. 55)
The smaller tradesmen, the shopkeepers, and the craftsmen of Warwick were typical of those to be found in any small market town. A few men may have owed their occupation to the needs of the shire hall, the religious houses, or the castle: a notary (fn. 56) or an occasional goldsmith, (fn. 57) for instance. But there is little evidence to suggest any manufactures of more than local importance; tanners and hosiers are mentioned, but only infrequently, and the only street names to suggest association with particular craftsmen are Smith Street, Shoe Lane, and Walker Street. (fn. 58) The last of these led to a fulling mill on the Avon, (fn. 59) but the cloth trade was never extensive. In 1202 Warwick paid £2 13s. for the freedom to sell dyed cloths as had been done in Henry II's reign, (fn. 60) but so small a sum can have bought no great privilege. Weavers and dyers are occasionally mentioned after this, (fn. 61) but even if all the cloths offered for sale in the town in 1397-8 and 1405-6, for example, were made there, they would still indicate only a small manufacture: 38 in the first year and 27 in the second. The cloth sellers were clearly in a small way of business, too: the average number of cloths offered by 26 men and women in those years was only two and a half. (fn. 62)
The fulling mill was only one of several watermills in the town, most of them grinding corn. Six had been mentioned in 1086: two in Coten End worth £5 and four in Myton worth £7. (fn. 63) The chief mill, first mentioned in the time of Henry de Beaumont, (fn. 64) was known as Loudesham Mill (probably a fulling mill) (fn. 65) by 1208, when it belonged to St. John's Hospital, (fn. 66) but two years later was granted to the Earl of Warwick for £3 6s. 8d. a year. (fn. 67) St. Michael's Hospital had a mill in 1266, (fn. 68) but there is no later reference to it. (fn. 69) Soon after this, Goysel Mill was granted to William de Beaumont (d. 1298); this stood near the road to Hampton on the Hill, on a small stream in the West Street suburb. (fn. 70) The Templars' Ford Mill, on Tach Brook to the south of the town, is first mentioned in 1309-10, when it was worth £1 14s. 8d. a year; (fn. 71) and the mill of St. Sepulchre's, on a stream near the priory, is recorded in 1479-80. (fn. 72)
The value of the earl's four water-mills in 1315-16 was £16; (fn. 73) the greater part of this was no doubt contributed by Castle Mill, for about this time Goysel Mill was worth 10s. a year and Loudesham Mill (described as 'two water-mills') £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 74) Castle Mill, which was apparently usually let by the earls, was worth £12 in 1398-9 and later £14; (fn. 75) in the 15th and early 16th centuries the leases often included fishing rights and meadows nearby, and in some the building is said to have contained 'two water-mills'. (fn. 76) At least in the later 15th century the earls' tenants were not obliged to have their corn ground at the earls' mills: in 1479-80 they were certainly using St. Sepulchre's mill. (fn. 77) Corn from the town was also carried to Ford Mill, though both the Templars (9s. in 1315-16, after their suppression) and the Hospitallers after them (18s. in 1451-2) made payments to the earls from the profits of the mill. (fn. 78) Warwick men may have used other mills, too, like that at Guy's Cliffe, just into Leek Wootton parish; in 1506 the millers of both Castle Mill and Guy's Cliffe Mill were presented in the earl's court for making excessive charges. (fn. 79)
The Avon was also of value for its fisheries, which always belonged to the earls' manor. The value of the fishery in 1268 was £1 6s.; in 1321-2 it was the same and in 1369 £3 6s. (fn. 80) Later the rights were shared between several lessees. By 1398-9 one fishery from Guy's Cliffe to Warwick bridge was let for £4, and a second from the bridge to Wasperton (over three miles south of Warwick), for £5 10s. These had been further divided by 1422-3: from Guy's Cliffe to the bridge, let for £2 6s. 8d.; from the bridge to Castle Mill and from there to Loudesham, both let with the mill; from Loudesham to Barford Mill, let for £4 6s. 8d.; and from Barford to 'Ingeslowe', for £1 16s. 8d. (fn. 81) The rents had fallen considerably by the late 15th century: in 1479-80 the first brought in only £1 6s. 8d.; the second and third, again let with the mill, were apparently valued at the same sum; the fourth was also let for £1 6s. 8d.; and the fifth for £1 3s. 4d. (fn. 82) By 1500-1 the whole stretch of water from Guy's Cliffe to Barford was let for only £2 13s. 4d. (fn. 83)
With so much territory lying in the suburbs, agriculture occupied a prominent place in the economy of Warwick. There were open arable fields around three of the suburban settlements; there was extensive meadow and pasture land, especially on the earls' manor; and in the north-west were the woods and pastures of Wedgnock Park. The earls' manorial estate was, indeed, the dominant feature of the town's agriculture; but the religious foundations, above all St. Mary's College, had valuable endowments of land in the suburbs, and there were several significant smaller lay estates. Many townsmen must have found an occupation in the tenancy of open-field holdings and closes and in labouring employment.
There was already a considerable extent of cultivated land in the four rural estates described in 1086 - one in Coten End, assessed at one hide, and three in Myton, together containing five hides. (fn. 84) In Coten End there was arable land for as many as 20 ploughs, though only 4 were in use - one on the demesne, where 4 serfs were working, and 3 held by 10 villeins and 6 bordars. The largest Myton estate had land for 8 ploughs, though there was only one plough on the demesne, with 2 serfs, and 3 held by 6 villeins and 11 bordars. The second estate had land for 2 ploughs, but a larger number was in use: one on the demesne, with 2 serfs, and 3 held by 7 villeins and 7 bordars. On the third estate was land for one plough, and one was held, together with a bond-woman, by 3 bordars. Most of the meadow land recorded was in Coten End - 80 acres, and perhaps more if that was not comprised in the 'meadows and pastures' worth £4. Two of the estates in Myton had small amounts of meadow, 12 acres and 4 acres. Coten had the only woodland recorded: 3 furlongs long and 3 broad.
All four rural estates had increased in value between 1066 and 1086. Coten End, where two mills (fn. 85) and £2 10s. rent from garden plots (fn. 86) were further perquisites, was worth £30 in 1086, having increased from £17. One Myton estate had doubled in value, to £6, another increased from £5 to £6, and the third increased from 5s. to 10s. All four estates were shortly afterwards acquired by the first Earl of Warwick (fn. 87) and, although much land in the suburbs was granted away during the Middle Ages, both to individuals and to the religious houses in the town, the earls remained the dominant landowners.
Though there is reason to believe that open-field land may at one time have been found on all sides of the town, the open fields which survived throughout the Middle Ages were around Coten End in the east and north-east, Myton in the south-east, and Longbridge in the south-west. In the north-east there was arable land at both Hardwick and Coten End in 1123, (fn. 88) and in the 14th and 15th centuries there are occasional references to 'the field of Hardwick'. (fn. 89) More frequently, however, the description was 'the field of Coten and Hardwick', and the latter name gradually went out of use altogether. By 1405 the field of Coten comprised 390 acres of arable and 33 acres of meadow. (fn. 90)
The fields of Myton may have been equally extensive, though there is no evidence as to their acreage. In 1417, however, there were four fields there, called Warytre Field, Beyond the Heath, Between Myton Sike and Leamington Sike, and Middle Field (or 'le Morefield'). (fn. 91) The approximate position of these fields seems clear: the first was near the Warwick gallows in the south-west part of Myton; the second in the south-east beyond the ground known as Heathcote; (fn. 92) the third between two streams flowing to the Avon, one through Myton village, the other along the Warwick boundary with Leamington; and the fourth in the north-west of Myton, between the first and third fields. There were still four fields in 1475. (fn. 93) Open-field land around Longbridge, to the south-west of Warwick, is mentioned as early as 1123 when two carucates of land were said to be 'next to Longbridge', (fn. 94) but nothing more is known of its extent.
Little is known of the methods of husbandry followed in the open fields. A four-year rotation may have been based on the four fields at Myton. In Coten End a three-year rotation seems likely for some small pieces of pasture there were said in 1315-16 to be inclosed for two years and to lie in the fallow field for the third. (fn. 95) Offences against regulations for the pasturage of the fallow and stubble fields in Myton, Coten End, and Longbridge were frequently presented in the earls' and the dean and chapter's courts. The only reference to the period for such pasturage is contained in an order of 1506 that sheep were not to be fed on the stubbles before 1 November. (fn. 96) The only certain indication of stinting, at Longbridge, concerns not sheep or cattle, but geese: in 1533-4, for example, a tenant was allowed to have four geese for each ploughland and a cottager could have two. (fn. 97) At Coten End in 1405 a total of 137 cattle and 440 sheep were kept by those holding land and meadow in the fields; the ratio was approximately one cow for every three acres and one sheep for every acre. (fn. 98) One further glimpse of commoners' animals is provided in 1425 when nineteen men were presented in the castle court for allowing more than 60 animals to stray into the earl's pastures; one man had 30 animals but most of them only one or two. (fn. 99) At least by the 15th century the size of open-field holdings was very variable. Houses in Myton in 1482, for example, had 9, 15, 16, and 40 acres of land in the fields. (fn. 100) At Coten End in 1415 there were eighteen holdings, ranging from one to 125 acres: eight were under 10 acres and only seven over 20 acres; thirteen of the holdings included some meadow, varying from one to 5½ acres. (fn. 101) Thirteen individuals held sixteen of these holdings, in one case as a tenant of the Guild of Holy Trinity, in another, of St. Sepulchre's Priory; the other two holdings were in the hands of St. John's Hospital, one of them held from the Earl of Warwick.
There is no certain evidence that there were common meadows as such anywhere in Warwick, but it seems that the common fields included both arable and meadow land. A parcel of meadow in St. Nicholas Meadow is mentioned in 1332 and again in 1482, but this is almost certainly the same as St. Nicholas Field in which there was both arable and meadow land; (fn. 102) it seems that this area was then in part cultivated and that it may have been an adjunct of the field of Coten which, as has been seen, also contained meadow as well as arable. The same admixture of meadow and arable was to be found in 1482 in 'le Spytylholme', and parcels of meadow in 'le More' in Myton (fn. 103) may similarly have been in 'le Morefield', one of the open fields there. (fn. 104) Again, Earls' Meadow was variously described in 1482 as 'in Myton Field' and 'between the Avon and Myton Field'. (fn. 105)
The only common pasture or waste in Warwick was the Clay Pits, lying near the Dominican friary to the west of the town. The Clay Pits are mentioned in 1268; (fn. 106) the area was described as common pasture in 1482, and again in 1541 when it was called 'Frere Cleypitts'. (fn. 107) It is said to have been given to the town by Margery, sister of Thomas, Earl of Warwick (d. 1242); Henry de Beauchamp (d. 1446) is believed to have proposed to increase the common, (fn. 108) but it is not known that he actually did so.
Inclosure of open-field land seems to have been of small extent during the Middle Ages. Much of the fields of Coten End and Myton remained to be inclosed in the 18th century, and at least part of those around Longbridge were still uninclosed in the early 16th century. (fn. 109) Some inclosure apparently took place, however, to the west and north-west of the town. There is little documentary evidence for the existence of open-field land in this area, but clear ridge and furrow is to be seen on the northern half of the modern common - the Lammas Field (fn. 110) - and on what was later to become Saltisford Common. The first of these areas was 'all the land called Levenhull', amounting to 40 acres, which Robert de Levenhull granted to St. Sepulchre's Priory in 1245; (fn. 111) it was later called Lethenhull or Linen Hill. By the early 16th century the priory's land there consisted of closes and meadows, some of them called Linen Field or Linen Hill Field. (fn. 112) The prior was, in fact, reported in 1517 as having converted to pasture in the previous year 80 acres of arable land, producing four closes called 'Lynelles' Fields and one called St. Michael's Field; as a result two ploughs had been put down and eleven persons deprived of work. (fn. 113) In 1547 the former priory lands in this locality included at least three meadows and two closes, one adjoining a close belonging to St. Michael's Hospital; two of them were described as 'lying in the fields of Warwick', perhaps a reference to their former open-field status. (fn. 114)
Perhaps also part of this early-inclosed area was the land, to the north-west of the town, called Stokehill. In 1123 two carucates were said to be in Stokehill and Woodloes (or Woodlow), the latter north of Warwick. (fn. 115) Common of pasture in the wood of Stokehill is mentioned in 1251-2, (fn. 116) and in one 19th-century reference Stokehill is described as in 'the field of Warwick'. (fn. 117) Land and pasture in Stokehill Field are mentioned in 1398-9, (fn. 118) and the pasture of Stokehill in 1479-80. (fn. 119) If land at Woodloes was once common, it too may have been early inclosed for it seems likely that the so-called 'manor' of Woodloes had a compact estate held in severally. (fn. 120) Another possible instance of inclosure is provided by Heathcote, in the south-east of Myton. There was apparently arable land there in the 12th and 13th centuries, but subsequently it was let as pasture by St. Mary's College. (fn. 121)
Apart from that involving St. Sepulchre's Priory, only one instance of inclosure in Warwick was reported to the commissioners in 1517. Agnes Walsh, widow, was said to have let decay, in 1502, a messuage called Booston House, to which 24 acres of arable land belonged; a plough was put down and six persons displaced. It may have been the decay of the same house and 24 acres for which Thomas Enyse was, according to Dugdale, reported in 1518. (fn. 122)
The earls' manor appears to have included arable land which at least from an early date was held in severally and may, indeed, never have lain in common. In 1268 there were 240 acres of arable (80 acres of this being 'at Wedgnock') worth £5, 60 acres of mowing meadow worth £9, and various meadows and pastures worth a further £7 8s. (fn. 123) By 1315-16 there were 342 acres of arable: 80 acres in a field called 'le Merssh', 33 acres in 'le Ryfeld', 34 acres in a field towards Barford, 80 acres in a field towards 'le Lee', 30 acres outside Wedgnock Park, and 85 acres de terra lonelli. At the same time there were 101 acres of meadow, the largest tracts being 38 acres in 'Lee Meadow', 30 acres in 'the meadow of Barford', (fn. 124) and 14½ acres in Myton. The pasture included Packmore, north of the town. (fn. 125) Of the numerous meadows and pastures belonging to the manor in 1479-80, Packmore - with 41 acres - was one of the largest areas of pasture. (fn. 126)
The names of the arable fields in 1315-16, with no mention of the customary names of the common fields, suggests that they were inclosed, especially since the field of Coten is mentioned in another connexion in the same document. The 30 acres outside Wedgnock Park is an exception to this, since it was said to be fallow and to lie in common. The other fields certainly did not lie in common for the value assigned to them was the sale value of pasture there while they were fallow. 'Le Merssh' and the fields towards 'le Lee' and Barford were probably in the neighbourhood of Longbridge; the location of the others is uncertain. (fn. 127)
By the 15th century some at least of these arable fields had apparently been converted to pasture. 'Le Field' and 'le Mersh towards Longbridge' appear among the manorial pastures in 1479-80, and in 1482 the first of these is called 'Lee Field'. (fn. 128) As early as 1448-9 St. Mary's College had let the tithes of pastures called 'le Lee' and 'le Mershe'. (fn. 129)
It seems likely that the Templars' estate, south of the River Avon, was consolidated and inclosed after it had passed to the Hospitallers. When it was founded by Roger, Earl of Warwick, in the reign of Henry I (fn. 130) the house's endowments probably included land in the open fields of Myton. In 1315- 1316 the estate included 160 acres of arable, and pasture on stubble and fallow land, as well as 24 acres of meadow. (fn. 131) The situation was similar in 1338, (fn. 132) but at the dissolution of the Hospitallers in 1540 almost all of the land was inclosed and lying between the old Banbury road and the river. Three closes of pasture contained together 89 acres (the acreage of another 'little close' is not given), two arable closes contained 50 acres, and there was a meadow of 8 acres; only 4 acres of arable were in common. (fn. 133) George Plantagenet (earl 1472=8) is said to have proposed to empark 'the Temple Fields', (fn. 134) but this was not in fact done until many years later.
It is impossible to discover at what period the earls' manor and the Templars' estate ceased to be farmed in demesne. It is not clear, either from Guy de Beauchamp's inquisition post mortem of 1315-16 (fn. 135) or from the accounts of the keeper of the castle and the town of 1321-4, (fn. 136) whether the manor was farmed in demesne even in the early 14th century. The only sales of produce were apparently of hay and wood; crops and animals are not mentioned at all. Receipts from the arable land were only for the sale of pasture on it while it was fallow; and when in 1323-4 these were reduced because 74 acres of 'le Mersh' were ploughed instead of lying fallow, it was necessary to buy ploughs, animals to draw them, and corn to feed the animals. This does not suggest the maintenance of a demesne farm, though it must be noted that no alternative form of exploitation of the inclosed arable land is indicated. The earls' land in the open fields was presumably in the hands of tenants and is hidden in the rents entry in the accounts. Late-14th-century accounts also indicate that there was little direct exploitation of the manor. (fn. 137)
The Templars' estate, however, clearly was farmed in demesne in the early 14th century, as is shown by Guy de Beauchamp's inquisition (the estate was temporarily in the earl's hands in 1315- 1316) and by accounts of 1309-11. (fn. 138) Corn and hay crops were the chief sources of income, with stock apparently of little importance. In 1310-11 106 quarters of corn remained from the previous harvest, 39 of which were sold and 32 sown. The cultivated land comprised 32 acres of oats, 36 acres of maslin, 9 acres of dredge, 8 acres of peas, and 4 acres of wheat. Animals and birds sold brought in only £2, compared with £5 14s. for corn, £1 15s. for straw, £2 14s. for hay, and £1 4s. for pasturage in gardens and fields. In 1309-10 stock had fetched only 6s., while corn was sold for £7 16s., straw for £2, hay for £4, and pasturage for £1.
Wedgnock Park provides an exception to the policy under which the bulk of the earls' manor had ceased to be directly exploited by the 14th century. Wedgnock had, of course, long contributed to the manorial income. (fn. 139) Pannage, herbage, and wood there and at other woodlands were worth £5 in 1268; at Wedgnock alone they were valued at £2 13s. 4d. in 1315-16; and in 1369 the value of the park was put at £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 140) Although some of the pasture was let out, a demesne farm was still maintained at Wedgnock in the early 15th century, and the stock-keeper's accounts of 1417-18 show that pastures and woods were the chief source of income. (fn. 141)
A total of 79 oxen, 37 cows, and 32 sheep sold fetched as much as £68 12s., and a dairy - stocked with 40 cows and 2 bulls - was let for £9. Hides fetched a further £1 2s. and pasturage was let for £5. A tod of wool clipped had yet to be sold. Finally faggots from the park's woods were sold for £19 4s. In contrast, 71 quarters of corn sold fetched only £9; in all 31 quarters of barley and 60 of oats had been available from the previous harvest, the remainder being used as cattle feed. The park also produced large quantities of hay for the stock: 100 cartloads remained from the previous year's mowing, and a further III cartloads were produced in 1417- 1418. During the year 103 cartloads were used and the rest still lay in the barns at the castle and in the park. The stock farm was concerned not so much with the breeding of animals as with their purchase, fattening, and re-sale. The 79 oxen sold had all been bought in earlier in the year, and 40 cows had been similarly purchased. The animals at the dairy were unaffected by these comings and goings. The sheep sold all remained from the previous year and none was left at the end of 1417-18.
By the late 15th century even the pasture of Wedgnock was entirely rented out. In 1479-80 the rent for the first half-year was £10, and after the lease expired the parker accounted for £7 for the remainder of the year. He also received £1 9s. for wood sold from the park. The only other sales of produce that year were of hay, the hayward receiving £4 10s. (fn. 142) The remainder of the estate was let out. It is impossible to separate the rents of land in the open fields from those of houses in the town and suburbs, to some of which the land belonged; but one of the bailiffs was charged with rents totalling £23 7s. for pasture let. (fn. 143)
The lessees of meadows and pastures were often Warwick men, though some came from nearby villages - a Kineton man, for example, leased the pasture of Heathcote from St. Mary's College in 1493-4. (fn. 144) Some of the lessees were described as butchers, (fn. 145) and Benedict Lee, who had a lease of the tithes of Lee Field and 'le Mersh', was described as a grazier. (fn. 146) Lee also farmed the herbage of Wedgnock, but died before the expiry of his lease. (fn. 147)
There are few opportunities to examine the social structure of the town in the early Middle Ages, and without detailed study the Hundred Roll entry provides only a superficial idea of tenurial relationships. (fn. 148) The Earl of Warwick and the canons of St. Mary's were clearly the largest landholders, the former with at least 24½ burgages, the latter with 20. Few other individuals had more than a half, one, or two each, but William Godwyne had 4½ and a share in another, and Richard Cobbe had 3. Similarly the holdings of tenants were generally small, and few seem to have accumulated property to any great extent. Thomas Payn, described as 'mayor', (fn. 149) was an exception: he was tenant of 12 burgages and a tenement, and he either owned or sub-let 14 burgages and several other properties. John le Norizun held 7½ burgages and 1½ tenements, William Basset 4½ burgages and 2 tenements, and Henry Scarlet 6 burgages. No others were so prominent, though John Lycoryz, who held 2 burgages, had 5½ held from him.
Shortly before 1279 one special group of inhabitants had lost its place in the town - the Jewish community, whose services had been enjoyed in Warwick for over a century. The first known members of it are the Solomon who in 1184-5 was seeking to recover money from Coventry Priory, (fn. 150) and Leo of Warwick, whose son Joce paid 100 marks in 1191 to have his father's goods and debts. (fn. 151) Six members of the Warwick community contributed to the Jewish donum of 1194, four of them also appearing among the ten named under the heading 'Warwickshire'; easily the largest sum was paid by Joce son of Benedict. (fn. 152) Individual Warwick Jews are mentioned in subsequent years (fn. 153) but the community did not contribute to the tallage of 1221. (fn. 154) In 1241, however, on the occasion of another tallage, there were at least six Jews in the town, (fn. 155) and it is clear that an order for their expulsion from Warwick in 1234 was only temporarily effective, if at all. (fn. 156)
Warwick was one of 27 centres in England which had archae for the registration of Jewish debts (fn. 157) and the Warwick chirograph chest is mentioned at various dates between 1244 and 1282. (fn. 158) This was, however, among the lesser Jewish communities: at the tallage of 1255 its contribution was the smallest of the 20 Jewries taxed. (fn. 159) Though its property cannot have been extensive, it seems that the community gave its name to 'le luerie', so called in 1347 (fn. 160) (now Jury Street); one Jew's house was certainly in nearby Castle Street. (fn. 161) So small a community may have had little impact on the life of the town. One of its early members, Magister, father of Hela, was a scholar, and another, Vives le Romaunzur, was a ballad-singer. (fn. 162) A momentary stir was doubtless caused by the bloody encounter between the families of Elias of Warwick and Leo son of Deuleben, which resulted in the latter being expelled from Warwick in 1245. (fn. 163) Elias's house was used as the community's synagogue. (fn. 164)
The Warwick Jewry was dissolved some years before the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290. There were apparently still Jews living there until 1275, (fn. 165) and as late as 1278 Moses son of Leo of Warwick was authorized to carry on his business. (fn. 166) The justices had been ordered in 1275 to scrutinise the debts recorded in the Warwick chest, and they were required to do so again in 1279. (fn. 167) By then the only Jewish houses in the town, those of Leo and Moses, as well as the synagogue, were in the king's hands. (fn. 168) The houses of Jews hanged for felony, or who refused to enfeoff new owners, were ordered to be sold later that year, (fn. 169) and Moses's house was disposed of in 1280. (fn. 170) The last is heard of the Warwick community in 1282: it was then acknowledged that shortly before he had been hanged for coin-clipping Moses son of Leo had discharged a Bromwich man's debt; six Jews who had formerly lived at Warwick were brought before the court to give evidence. (fn. 171)
By the early 14th century some light is thrown on the distribution of wealth in the town by taxation records. The untaxed poorer classes must have formed a large proportion of the total population, for within the walls ('Warwick infra') only 51 people contributed to the 20th of 1327 and 44 to the 10th of 1332; in the suburbs ('Warwick extra') the numbers were 33 and 48. (fn. 172) In both years the suburbs were the more highly taxed: in 1327 they contributed £7 7s. 6d. compared with £5 18s. from the town, and in 1332 £10 0s. 4d. compared with £7 15s. 8d. The individual contributions (see Table 1) suggest that the relatively well-to-do were rather more numerous in the suburbs, but that in the middle ranks of society the town itself had the greater numbers - perhaps mainly craftsmen and tradesmen. Two of the leading taxpayers were the wool-merchants William Thurkyl and John le Whitesmith : (fn. 173) in both years Thurkyl's was the largest contribution in the town (15s. and 20s. respectively), and Whitesmith's the second largest in the suburbs (13s. 4d. and 16s.). The leading suburban taxpayer was Hugh de Nettlestede (26s. 8d. on each occasion), and the Prior of St. Sepulchre's was also prominent there (6s. 8d. and 13s. 4d.).
|Subsidy Contributions, 1327 and 1332|
|1327 (20th)||1332 (10th)|
|5s. and under||-||7||1||8|
|4s. and under||4||6||6||5|
|3s. and under||4||3||9||17|
|2s. and under||27||11||13||9|
|1s. and under||13||1||10||4|
|TOTAL||51||32 (fn. 174)||44||48|
At the end of the Middle Ages, the distribution of wealth in Warwick can best be deduced from the subsidy assessment of 1543. (fn. 175) With nearly 300 individuals included this was a comparatively comprehensive assessment, for at least a quarter of the total population must have been too poor to be taxed at all. (fn. 176) It is clear (see Table 2) that the wealthier class was a very small one; moreover the top nine payers, who were assessed on over £20 each, owned less than a fifth of the total taxable wealth of the town. The 'middle class' was small, too, with only some 23 per cent. of those taxed being assessed on goods or lands worth between £6 and £20. Almost 75 per cent. had an estate of only £5 or less. The assessments reveal significant variations between the different parts of the town. Thus all the nine men most highly assessed were in the town as opposed to the suburbs. Among the suburbs, West Street had about the average proportion of those in the lowest class, but Bridge End (63 per cent.) was well below average and Smith Street (83 per cent.) and Saltisford (86 per cent.) well above. Among the town wards, Castle Street, Jury Street, and High Pavement all had less than 70 per cent. in this class, and Market Place had only slightly more than average (78 per cent.).
Turning to individuals, the four wealthiest men were John Bykar (assessed on goods worth £42) and Richard Wodwall (£40), both in Castle Street ward, and 'Master Hawyd' (£40) and John Knyghtley, Dean of St. Mary's College (lands worth £40), both in Market Place. Apart from Knyghtley, only one man had lands of any great value - 'Master Browne of Woodloes' with £20 ; (fn. 177) the Guild of Warwick had lands worth £16 in Saltisford. Among those with goods worth between £11 and £30 were several men later to become principal burgesses and bailiffs of the incorporated town: Richard Fisher and Humphrey Heath in Market Place ward; John Whood in Saltisford; John Rey in Smith Street; Walter Haley in Jury Street; and Thomas Oken, Thomas Brese, Daniel Haley, and Thomas Roo in High Pavement.
Doubtless some of the wealthier townspeople invested in property, and rents formed a part of their income, but few laymen seem to have accumulated property on a large scale. The available evidence reveals only modest estates. Benet Medley, for example, had three houses in the town and eleven houses and some land in the suburbs in 1504, (fn. 178) and John Mayall had eight houses in Warwick and 20 acres in the fields at about the same time. (fn. 179) Another small estate was built up by the Huggeford family, several of whose members held offices at the castle. The possessions of John Huggeford (d. 1485) included twelve houses and land in the town and suburbs, and a share in a further ten houses and other land there. (fn. 180) The property passed to Richard Cotes (d. 1504) and subsequently to John Beaufoe, (fn. 181) and it was apparently broken up shortly before 1530. (fn. 182)
One substantial lay estate in the suburbs was that of Woodloes. It is first mentioned in 1123, when the Earl of Warwick gave the tithes there to St. Mary's College, (fn. 183) and it was apparently granted soon after this to Richard son of Ivo, together with the office of master cook at the castle. (fn. 184) From his son Alan originated the Woodlow family, long owners of the estate. In 1279 Thomas de Woodlow paid 1d. to the Earl of Warwick for two burgages in the town and 'all his land' in the suburbs, (fn. 185) and in 1334 the property of Alan de Woodlow was described as a messuage and two carucates of land, with meadow, wood, and rent. (fn. 186) In 1449 Woodloes passed to the Brome, or Brown, family. (fn. 187) The Bromes had long had property in Warwick, including a house in Bridge End; some of them are said to have been tanners, and two were lawyers - both of whom served as M.P.s for the town. (fn. 188)
The earls of Warwick were, of course, easily the largest property owners in the town and its suburbs. The extent of their agricultural interests has already been seen. (fn. 189) By 1268 they had, in addition, rents from free tenants amounting to £13, and in 1298 the number of tenants producing that sum was put at 90; in 1315 the rents of 97 free tenants were reckoned at nearly £17. (fn. 190) The earls' assize rents were said to be worth £35 in the late 14th and early 15th centuries, (fn. 191) and in 1479-80 the rent-collector was charged with over £50 for assize rents in the town, mostly coming from house property. (fn. 192) The 'decay of rents' of all kinds was, however, considerable by this time, amounting to 39 per cent. of the total of assize rents, increments, and new rents recorded in 1479-80. (fn. 193) In 1482 there were approaching 200 houses belonging to the earl in the town and suburbs - 25 burgages, 56 messuages, 18 tenements, 70 cottages, and 18 tofts. The decay of rents seems to be reflected in the descriptions of a number of these properties; barns, gardens, and vacant plots were said to have formerly been cottages, and single houses were each said to have formerly been two or more. (fn. 194)
Among the ecclesiastics owning property in Warwick two were already prominent in 1086: the Bishop of Worcester then had nine houses and the Bishop of Chester seven; one other, the Bishop of Coutances (Manche), had one. (fn. 195) The Bishop of Worcester had three burgages in 1279, and the Bishop of Chester at least as many. (fn. 196) In the 1330s it was found that two men hanged for felony had held a messuage and four cottages from the Bishop of Worcester, and another messuage from the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. (fn. 197)
One institution drawing substantial rents from Warwick property was the Guild of Warwick. The Guild of St. George acquired 2 messuages, a toft and a quarry in 1392, and that of the Holy Trinity and St. Mary 7 messuages, 3 tofts, 12 cottages, 8 shops, 38½ acres of land, 4 acres of meadow, and 30s. rent in 1393. (fn. 198) The united guild, shortly before its dissolution, received rents amounting to over £25 in Warwick itself out of a total of over £32, and had already sold land worth £2 a year to obtain the royal grant of St. Mary's Church to the town. (fn. 199)
Several of the religious houses owning property in the town had held it from an early date. By 1086 Coventry Priory already had 32 houses and Malmesbury Abbey (Wilts.) one. (fn. 200) Kenilworth Priory and Stone Priory (Staffs.) were both granted houses there in Henry II's reign, (fn. 201) Bordesley Abbey (Worcs.) received two houses from the Earl of Warwick in 1189, (fn. 202) and St. Evroul Abbey (Orne) was granted two burgages by the earl c. 1200. (fn. 203) In 1279 eleven religious houses, other than those in Warwick, together had sixteen burgages. (fn. 204) Other names appear later on - Canons Ashby Priory (Northants.), for example, had a tenement in Warwick in 1343. (fn. 205) Some houses added to their possessions, including Chacombe Priory (Northants.), which had only one and a half burgages in 1279 but tenements and cottages worth £4 by the time of the Dissolution. (fn. 206) Their property in some cases comprised land in the suburbs as well as houses in the town: by the Dissolution Thelsford Friary, for example, had three houses, two closes, and land in the fields of Myton and Longbridge, together worth £2 10s. in 1547. (fn. 207)
More substantial as property owners were the Warwick religious houses themselves, all having land in the suburbs as well as houses in the town. St. Sepulchre's Priory had six burgages in 1279, (fn. 208) and three carucates of land in 1291. (fn. 209) By 1547 its former possessions - tenants' rents, twelve closes, and other lands - were worth £7 15s. (fn. 210) St. John's and St. Michael's Hospitals together had seven burgages in 1279, and St. John's had a carucate of land in 1291. Each had property in Warwick worth nearly £12 in 1535. (fn. 211) The Dominican friars had six houses and land in the West Street suburb which, together with the site of the friary, were worth £5 11s. in 1547. (fn. 212) The Templars' property (fn. 213) was worth £14 in 1315-16, after their suppression, including £4 12s. in rents from 34 free tenants. (fn. 214) In the hands of the Hospitallers, the estate was worth £18 in 1338, (fn. 215) and after their dissolution it was farmed for £16 in 1540-1. (fn. 216)
St. Mary's College, however, had much the largest income from Warwick property. Among its endowments in 1123 were 60 houses in the town and suburbs, two carucates of land at Longbridge, 100 acres at Coten End, a third of the earl's demesne and other land at Myton, and a hide at 'Hetha'. (fn. 217) In 1279 it had 20 burgages. (fn. 218) 'Hetha' - probably the same as 'la Hethe' where St. Sepulchre's had a carucate of land in 1291 (fn. 219) - was later called Heathcote and lay in the south-east beyond Myton. The college had held a hide in Myton in 1086 which the earl subsequently acquired as part of Turchil's possessions, and it was perhaps the same estate that was granted to St. Mary's in 1123. A house and thirteen acres of land were described in 1324 as being in 'Hethcote St. Mary next Warwick'. (fn. 220) In 1400 the so-called manor of Heathcote was granted to the college by Walter Power, (fn. 221) and the pasture of Heathcote was retained until the Dissolution. (fn. 222)
In 1424-5 St. Mary's had rents amounting to over £5 in the town and over £11 in the suburbs, (fn. 223) and its bailiff continued to account for rents of this order later in the century. (fn. 224) In 1535 its property in Warwick was worth over £37, (fn. 225) and in 1547 there still remained of its former possessions about 50 houses in eleven streets, and an unspecified number in two others, worth in all £4 7s., and rents in Longbridge amounting to £2 11s. (fn. 226) But much of St. Mary's Warwick estate, together with other property in the county, had already been granted in 1545 to the newly-constituted bailiff and burgesses; as 'King Henry VIII's Estate', it was for long to be the corporation's chief source of income.