Page:VCH Surrey 1.djvu/345

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

THE DOMESDAY SURVEY read that any one 'holds' either Guildford or Southwark, but that 'In Guildford' the King has certain rights, and that '/ Southwark ' bishop Odo has others. Neither of them, indeed, is styled a borough, and Guildford is even, in three places, spoken of as a mere ' vill ' ; but the peculiar way in which they are entered sufficiently denotes their position. Now the point to which I would invite attention is one which is of more than local interest ; for the Surrey evidence in Domesday Book has a very direct bearing on Professor Maitland's theories. As originally advanced, his argument, suggested by a German writer, contained these passages : l Another striking sight meets our eyes in the boroughs of Domesday Book. The barones comitatus have, and their predecessors, the great folk, hallowed and lay, of the old English shire, have had, houses and burgesses in the county town. These town houses, these burgesses, are often reckoned as belonging ' for rating purposes ' to rural manors of their lords which lie many miles away from the borough. What did the Anglo-Saxon thegn want with a town house ? He was not going to spend ' the season ' there in order that he might take his wife and daughters to the county balls. ... Is it not a duty of burgivard which obliges the thegns of the shire to have houses and dependents in the burh of the shire ? To me it seems that we enter on a new and a very hopeful line of speculation when we shift our attention from markets and handicraft and commerce to the military character of the ancient burh. . . . The important point is that many of the burgesses in a royal borough were not the king's immediate tenants ; they did not pay their rents to him. The burgesses were a tenurially heterogeneous group. Some of them were reckoned to belong to divers distant rural manors of the barones comitatus. . . . I believe that, for England at all events, Dr. Keutgen is pointing in the right direction when he suggests that the Burgfriede, or special royal peace conferred upon fortified places which are military units in a system of national defence, is the original principle which serves to mark off the borough from the village. Again, in his Domesday Book and Beyond, the learned writer developed his view on the same lines, but at greater length. The trait to which we allude we shall call (for want of a better term) the tenurial heterogeneity of the burgesses. . . . The fact that we would bring into relief is this, that normally the burgesses of the borough do not hold their burgages immediately of one and the same lord ; they are not ' peers of a tenure ' ; the group that they constitute is not a tenurial group. . . . And the mesne lord will often be a very great man, some prelate or baron with a widespread honour. Within the borough he will, to use the language of Domesday Book, ' have ' or ' hold ' a small group of burgesses, and sometimes they will be reckoned as annexed to or ' lying in ' some manor distant from the town . . . Seemingly the great men of an earlier day, the antecessores of the Frenchmen, have owned town houses : not so much houses for their own use, as houses or ' haws ' (hagce) in which they could keep a few burgesses. When we have obtained this clue, we soon begin to see that what is true of Oxford and Wallingford is true even of those towns of which no substantive descrip- tion is given us. Thus there are ' haws ' or town houses in Winchester which are attached to manors in all corners of Hampshire, at Wallop, Clatford, Basingstoke, Eversley, Candover, Stratfield, Minstead and elsewhere (pp. 178-180). This tenurial heterogeneity seems to be an attribute of all or nearly all the very ancient boroughs, the county towns (p. 182). When we search the Domesday Survey of Surrey for traces of this principle, we soon discover that they are not wanting ; but instead of the 1 See EngRsb Historical Review [1896], XI. 16-18. 285