Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/336

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


A HISTORY OF SURREY It is the emphatic verdict of Professor Maitland on Domesday that c one great purpose seems to mould both its form and its substance ; it is a geld book.' 1 The first question, therefore, that we have to consider in its study is that of the assessment it records for the tax known as (Dane) geld. This may at first sight seem a somewhat forbidding sub- ject, but recent research has shown how much of our early history is concealed behind the details of assessment recorded in the great Survey. All this was hidden from the student until within the last few years, for it was not known that these figures represented a vast system of artificial assessment, based on what is now termed the five-hide unit, and practi- cally unconnected with actual area or value. A few examples of the working of this system, in Surrey, may here be given. Croydon and Mortlake were assessed at 80 hides each, and Farnham at 60. Egham was assessed at 40 hides, as was Walkhampstead (Godstone) ; Cobham, Sutton, and Cuddington at 30 hides each, and Limpsfield at 25, which was also the assessment of each moiety of the great manor of Beddington. Merstham, Cheam, and Coulsdon are examples of a 20 hides assessment, Petersham stood at 10, and Mickleham, Rodsell, and Walworth at 5 hides each. These assessments, as observed above, formed part of a vast system. The remarkable document that Professor Maitland has named ' the Burghal Hidage,' and that he has assigned to somewhere about the year 900 a contains the entry ' To Eschingum and to Suthringa geweorc 1 800 hides.' This, it is supposed, refers to Surrey, and means that the assess- ment of the whole county was 1800 hides, which were appendant for certain purposes to two ' burghs,' Southwark and ' Eschingum.' It is, at least, a remarkable coincidence that ' the great roll of the Pipe ' for 1130 shows us Surrey assessed for Danegeld at 1750! hides, and shows us within it two ' burghs,' Southwark and Guildford.' But what is termed the hidation, that is the assessment, of the county had undergone in the meanwhile a strange and violent fluctuation. Manor after manor is entered in Domesday as assessed in 1086 at only a fraction of what it was assessed at under Edward the Confessor. It is difficult, if not impossible, to trace the principle on which these sweeping reductions were made throughout the county. Two manors are entered together on the fief of Richard de Clare and in the same Hundred (fo. 35^). The assessment of the first is reduced to exactly one-half, while that of the second remains unchanged. It might be suggested that reductions in value accounted for such a difference ; but each of these manors alike had lost about half its value in the early days of the Conquest. William de Braiose possessed two manors in the county ; the assessment of the first had been reduced 90 per cent., and that of the second 60 per cent. It is true that the first had, at the worst, depreciated 80 per cent. ; but 1 Domesday Book and Beyond (1897), p. 3. * Ibid. pp. 503-5. 8 'Burgusde Sudwerca,' Burgus de Geldeforda ' (Pipe Roll 31 Hen. I. [Record Commission], pp. 51-2). It was suggested by Professor Maitland that Bashing in Godalming ('Eschingum') 'may have been supplanted by Guildford.' 276