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trict to the Humber and the Trent made it one of the first places of landing to the Danes. In the year 797, a great fleet of them came into the Humber, plundered the whole country from there to the river Trent, and having obtained a very large booty returned home with great joy. In 838, another fleet of them being driven into the Humber by a storm, plundered Lindsey, and wantonly murdered the inhabitants. Those parts of this division of Lincolnshire, which lay nearest to the Trent, suffered most severely from their depredations.
The next visit of these blood-thirsty marauders was in 870, when, having left York, they passed through the Isle of Axholme, the direct road to Lindsey, laying the country waste wherever they came. During this expedition, after sending their booty to Denmark, they wintered in the towns of Lindsey, and ascended the Trent as far as Torksey, where they had quarters, and staid nearly three years plundering the country.
In 993, a party of Danes sailing from Bebbanburgh, near Durham, entered the mouth of the Humber, wasting the country on both sides, in Lindsey and Yorkshire. In 1013, Sweyn, King of Denmark, came over to England with a powerful fleet, landed at Sandwich, and from whence, after remaining a few days, he put off to sea; wasted the kingdom of the East Angles; and from thence proceeded to the Humber. Entering the Trent with his fleet, Sweyne landed at Gainsbrough, which place was then just growing up out of the ruins of Torksey*, where he assumed the title and dignity of King. In the following year he died at Gainsbrough; when Cnut, his Son, who had been left in command of the encampment there, endeavoured by the strict administration of justice, to secure the hearts of the inhabitants of Lindsey, and parts adjacent: but Æthelred, who had been compelled by Sweyne to seek refuge with Richard Duke of Normandy, hearing of the death of the Dane, lost no time in sending his Son Edward with Ambassadors into England, promising his forgiveness to all those who had taken part with his ene. mies. Edward was favourably received, and Æthelred was no sooner re-instated in his royal dignity, than he placed himself at the head of his army, and entering Lindsey, revenged himself severely upon the inhabitants, by burning the country and putting them to death. The Danes, on hearing of his approach, retreated to their ships, and having got all their treasure on board, touched at Sandwich, previously to setting sail for Denmark. It was on this occasion that, taking all the gentlemen's sons with them, whom they held as hostages, they barbarously cut off their hands, ears, and noses, and set them on shore.
stated surrounded him; and suddenly falling upon him and his escort they killed him,plundered the neighbouring habitations, and hastily re-embarked.— Henr. Huntingdon Hist. p. 348.
* De la Prymne.
In 1068, the Sons of King Sweyne, his brother Osbeorn, and five other Danish Chiefs of high rank, entered the Humber, under very different auspices from what their fore-fathers had done. They caine as the allies of the Saxons, who, north of the Humber, were attempting at that time to throw off the Norman yoke. On the approach of winter, the Danish ships were moored at the Trent Ness, between the confluence of the Ouse and the Trent, and just within the channel of the river Don; from which circumstance the place has taken the name of Æthelingsfleet, now called Adlingfleet, from Edgar Ætheling, heir to Harold and the Crown of England, who had fled into Denmark, and accompanied the Danes on this expedition. This camp was situated in a very strong position, having part of the Humber and Trent on the east, the Ouse to the north, and the river Don to the south; so that a few forces could defend it against very superior numbers, especially as the Danes by their fleet were masters of all these rivers. On the offer of a large bribe, however, from William the Conqueror, they deserted their allies, and departed without fighting. This was the last excursion of the Danes into England.
THE landed property of England was in few hands during theSaxon times; and we have hints given us by the Historians of the great power and riches of particular noblemen, such as Alfric, Edric, Godwin, Harold, Leofric, Seward, Morcar, Edwin, who controlled the authority of the King, and rendered themselves quite necessary to the government. The Saxon Lord surrounded himself with dependants, who held portions of his land by the performance
of certain services. They were distributed into different classes, and distin guished by appropriate names : Sochmanni, Villani, Cottarii, Cottereli, Colliberti, Porearii. The Sochmanni*, or Socmans, were those inferior land-owners who had lands in the soc or franchise of a great Baron, privileged Villani, who though their tenures were absolutely copyhold, yet had an interest equal to a freehold. A certain number of these were necessary in every manor to hold the pleas of the Manor Court.
Villani were those who held their lands on condition of doing whatsoever was commanded, and“ were always bound to an uncertain service.t”
Colliberti were a middle sort of tenants between servile and free, or such as lield their freedom of tenure under condition of such works and services. The same class of land-owners as were afterwards called Conditionales.
Cottarii or Cottagers, who paid a certain rent for very small parcels of land. They were divided into two classes, Cottarius and Cotterellus. Cottarius had a free socage tenure, and paid a rent, in provisions or money, with some customary service. Cotterellus held an absolute villainage, and his person and goods were liable to be disposed of at the will of the lord.
Porcarii were free occupiers, who rented the privilege of feeding pigs in the woods, some for money, some for payments in kind,
Servi and Ancillæ were distinguished from absolute slaves, inasmuch as their lives and their limbs were under the protection of the laws.
The number of socmen, villains, and bordars or cottarii, found on the different manors, is marked in Doomsday Book. They are the predecessors of the modern freeholders, and, with the burgenses found in the towns, the progenitors of the great body of the population of Englandg. There is no place in the Isle of Axholme returned in Doomsday as having burgenses ; nor was there any place which, in the Saxon times, answered to our idea of the word Town. The villages would be nothing better than a collection of miserable hovels; for some of the principal towns, such as York, Exeter, Hereford, and Norwich, were no better than villages of the present day.
* Introduction to Doomsday Book, + Bracton. & Hunter's Hist, of Deanry of Doncaster.
Under the Saxon government every Vill, containing ten families, had a peace officer, called a Head-borough ; and it may be presumed that such ancient vills as never had this officer were too small, and on that account were reckoned in connection with another vill in the vicinity. Ten of these townships, large enough to have a Head-borough, comprised a Hundred, over which presided a superior officer, called an Hundreder. Crowle, Belton, Epworth, Haxey, and Owston, would each be under the superintendance of a Head-borough; but these places not being sufficient by themselves to con stitute an Hundred, were joined to several vills on the east side of the Trent, which, together, constitute the Hundred of Manlake or Manley.
The tenants of the Saxon Lord who held the Isle of Axholme at the time of the Conquest were,—at Epworth, Ledwin;—at Belton, Ulf, Alnod, Colgrim, and Ulfenisc ;-in Haxey, Siward Barn and Wazelin:-in Lound, Fulcheri and Weghe ;-in Owston, Guede ;-in Crowle, Fulcheri and Ulfenisc.
After the Conquest, the Manors of Epworth, Belton, Haxey, Owston, Crowle, Althorpe, Luddington, Burnham, and Lound, that is the whole of the Isle of Axholme, were given to Geoffrey de Wirce; together with the Ma. nors of Blybrough, Gainsbrough, and Somerby. He gave certain lands in the Isle to religious houses, which land, he says in the grant, “emerui" of William King of England. These grants were afterwards confirmed by Nigel D'Albini, to whom all his possessions came, “whether,” says Dugdale, in his extinct Baronage of England, " by forfeiture or otherwise I cannot tell." One thing is certain, he founded no family. He might be one of those who repassed the sea with the Conqueror, when he went to deposit his booty in Normandy; or he might be killed in some subsequent battle which took place between the vanquished and their oppressors, in which case, if he had no issue, his lands would revert to the Crown, to be again granted to some other vassal. Geoffrey de Wirce was probably a man of mean extraction ;-one of that host of outcasts and warlike adventurers which crowded to the standard of William, when he collected his army for the invasion of England : and when the man who had passed the sea with the quilted cassock and black wooden bow of the foot soldier, found himself, after the battle of Hastings, mounted on a war horse, and wearing the military baldrick. He who had cross
ed the sea a poor knight, soon lifted his banner, as it was then expressed, and commanded a company, whose rallying cry was his own name. The herdsmen of Normandy, and the weavers of Flanders, with a little courage and good fortune, soon became in England men of consequence, illustrious Barons; and their names, ignoble and unhonoured on one side of the Channel, were glorious on the other*.
The revenue of the owner of this, as well as of other such large fees, arose from rents, fines, reliefs, benevolences, maritages, wardships, and escheats ; and the services, which those who were sub-infeuded by them were bound to pay, was another great source of their wealth and splendour. The money which they received were sums now hardly worth collecting, but the works they performed would be sufficient to exhaust the most princely incomes, even of modern days. And this command of labour ought to be the standard by which we should estimate the wealth of the great Norman lords.
The castle of Kinnard, in the parish of Owston, though it has now disappeared, must, from the extent of its site, and the size of the tumulus on which the keep was erected, have been a work of very great labour. So also must that splendid building, the Carthusian Monastery, at Low Melwood, founded by Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham,and Earl Marshall of England, Lord of the Isle of Axholme. The splendid churches which that family built and endowed on different parts of their extensive possessions, affords another proof how easily works could be accomplished which now require very extensive funds. The Churches of Haxey, Epworth, Owston, and Belton, were no doubt erected at the expence of the same Lord; for we find him afterwards impropriating them to a monastery which he had founded near Easingwold in Yorkshire.
The next notice which history affords us of the state of affairs in the Isle of Axholme, is the grant by deed of John de Mowbray, made to the freeholders there, in the year 1960, after he had made an approvement to himself of some of the wastes in that Manor.
This deed seems to have been made for the purpose of settling certain disputes which had arisen between the Steward or Bailiff of Mowbray and his tenants. The persons mentioned in the deed are Rawlyn of Burnham,
William * Thierry's Hist. of the Conquest.