Much of the content of Norton’s Court records relate to land surrenders, amercements for a range of misdemeanours and orders which served to inform or remind villagers of the customs of the time. Below are a number of items which caught the writer’s eye.

<List>

1539 – Robert Hyll flees country

1399-1585 – Mundencroft

1300s-1567 – Land enclosure

1570-1592 – Fear of vagabonds

1494-1601 – The Poor

1564-1593 – Affray

1555 – Townshouse story

1380-1582 – Sheep incidents

1582 – Road repairs

1583-1585 – Berry picking

1560-1579 – Watercourses and ditches

1579 – Ploughing with horses

1579 – Mortgage

1574 – Order to build church style

1300s-1590 – Incidents of collective revolt

1585 – Trust for sale

1585-1603 – Relaxation (gaming, bowls)

 

In 1539 Robert Hyll was in possession of a newly built tenement with half an acre of adjoining land where he lived with Alice his wife and his family. He also held nine acres of vacant land so he was quite comfortable. However, despite this he committed a felony which necessitated him immediately fleeing not only Norton but the country. Sadly there are no details of the felony but it must have been pretty serious.

The custom of the manor meant that he forfeited his tenement with all the land and appurtenances to the lord of the manor who in 1539 was still the abbot of St Albans. The lord of the manor then granted the tenement and lands to Alice, Robert Hyll’s abandoned wife, for her lifetime after which the lord granted the tenement and lands to Richard Hyll the son of Robert and Alice. <Back to list>

Mundencroft and the boundary dispute. Mundencroft was first mentioned in 1399 when William Wynter, the tenant, was amerced for having “received and impounded divers beasts of divers tenants of Norton in Mundencroft”. In 1425 William Wynter no longer held the tenement and the new tenant (unnamed) was ordered to do fealty to the lord. This order was repeated the following year and in 1427 we learn that Sir Philip Thorneburye, knight, was the current tenant and was ordered to do fealty to the lord. For the next five years the Court ordered that Sir Philip should be distrained. We then hear nothing more until 1443 when Sir Philip upset the parishioners of Norton when he “encroached with the water of his pond called Somersponde from the land of the lord in Mundencroft in width 20 feet and they say that the welows growing on the bank of the said pond are within the lordship of the parish of Norton”. They were also upset that the parishioners of Bygrave made their processional way, ie beat the bounds, within and through Mundencroft. The Court of Norton decided to take counsel. Strangely there is another Court entry in 1443, possibly the defence, saying that Sir Philip “has encroached on the lord’s land in the croft called Mundencroft with his pond called Somersponde in width 20 feet, the said pond is within the lordship and parish of Bygrave”. In 1453 the argument still rumbled on with the people of Norton claiming that “the said bank with the welewes are, and from the time of which there is no memory have been within the lordship and parish of Norton” and that Sir Philip, his tenants and parishioners of Bygrave make unjust ways there. Sir Philip again claimed that the willows appeared to belong to the lordship of Bygrave and to be within the parish of Bygrave. The Court amerced Sir Philip and the tenants and parishioners of Bygrave for trespass to the amount of 3s 4d. The Court decided to take further counsel. Two years later the problem was still not resolved and a year later in 1456 Sir Philip decided to divert the course of the River Ivel. It is not clear from the records whether he was again trying to extend the parish of Bygrave or whether he was simply diverting the flow for his own needs. He was ordered to rectify his work under penalty of 40s and that is the last we hear of him. He died in 1457 after a long and interesting life. See Sir Philip Thornbury

Even after his death the Court was still ordering the tenants of Mundencroft to attend Court to show how they came to be in possession and to do fealty to the lord. We hear nothing further about Mundencroft until 1538 as most Court records for the period 1460 to 1530 have been lost. In 1538 there’s a reference to Sir Thomas Monyngham of Luton who had a ditch lying opposite Mundyns Close (Mundens and Mundencroft are interchangeable) which needed scouring and was very noisy and a nuisance. Sir Thomas was also a warden of the Fraternity of Baldock or the Gild of Jesus which was founded in 1459 and appears to have numbered amongst its members all the principal men and women of the town. When the Fraternity was dissolved in 1533 its possessions realised the considerable sum of £860.

In 1579 the Homage ordered that John Rocheford should reopen his enclosure called Mundens Close and allow the close henceforth to lie open when “le seasons of the Fylde requyreth”1 under penalty of 20s and it was also ordered that the aforesaid John should not dump anything disgusting in any part of his ditch belonging to the aforesaid enclosure at any time of the year under penalty of 10s.

In 1580 John Rocheford forfeited the 10s penalty as he had not scoured his ditch at Mundens style and he had also put straw in the ditch against the order.

In 1585 It was ordered that John Rocheford should permit his close called “Mundens Close” to lie with “le Fallowe Fylde” just as it used to anciently if meanwhile he shall not make agreement with the tenants of Norton for the same under penalty of 40s.

In 1586 the Homaged presented that the stone called “le mere stone lying in the enclosure called Mundens Cloose” lies just as it had always done.

Finally in 1592 the Homage ordered that John Rocheford should be allowed to “enjoy” the Close called Mundens Close in return for payment of 5s 8d. If not happy with that arrangement then the close had to lie fallow. <Back to list>

Land enclosure: Throughout the medieval period piecemeal enclosure took place where strips of land were fenced off from the common land. We see this recorded in Norton’s manorial documents where several of the more successful tenant farmers exchanged their scattered furlong strips thereby creating more practical and larger farming units. The problems started when the tenants of amalgamated strips started enclosing their holdings. Strict rules applied to everyone as to what could be grown and when. The rotational field system allowed for strips to lie fallow for a season and after the crops had been gathered the fields were then opened for grazing. Those who had enclosures, or closes, were reluctant to adhere to the old system wishing to grow what they wanted and when they wanted. They certainly didn’t want animals being grazed on their lands.

A combination of the effects of the famine of 1315/17 and the Black Death of 1349/50 led to a depleted labour force. It seemed only sensible therefore that land use was changed to something less labour intensive such as sheep farming. As demand from Europe for English wool grew so sheep farming became more profitable and spread across the country. Although this solved problems for the land owners it caused hardship for a population which by the beginning of the 16th century was at last starting to recover. A great deal of arable land had been converted to sheep grazing so not only was there unemployment and displacement of rural labourers, there was also a shortage of food. A further problem was created by increased demand for a reduced amount of arable land and rising rents.

When the population increased in the 13th century the feudal system allowed for the majority of the population to maintain themselves with subsistence farming. The 16th century increase in population instead led to a higher proportion of landless wage earners.

If a labourer lost his income he became a pauper. If he lost his home as well then he became a vagrant and vagrants were regarded as criminals. This alarmed the authorities and from Henry VII’s time onwards Parliament passed laws in an attempt to halt enclosure or to limit its effects.

See also the note on Fear of vagabonds below. We see the affect of this on the villagers of Norton. As fast as Norton’s farmers were building fences to enclose their sheep, angry and resentful villagers were breaking them down.

Even Norton’s vicar, Thomas Langley, was charged in 1580 with allowing his wife and servant to go out breaking fences.

In 1567 alone seven women and one male servant were amerced for fence breaking of which two women were threatened with a day in the stocks if they failed to pay their penalty and one women was even threatened with expulsion from the village if she failed to pay. In 1570 it was ordered that if anyone broke or destroyed any fence within the lordship he should forfeit to the lord of the manor 6s 8d, a hefty penalty. Many such orders were made but the fence breaking continued. <Back to list>

Fear of vagabonds, beggars and lodgers was a phenomenon of Elizabethan England.  In 1570 in Norton it was ordered that two husbands and two wives shall not dwell or live together under one roof under penalty of 10s.

In 1573 it was ordered that no tenant of the manor of Norton shall allow any married people called “maryed copulls” to live with the same tenants under one roof …. under penalty of 10s.

In 1581 it was ordered by the Homage that no tenant within this manor “shall take in to there howses wherin they doe inhabytt eny person to be his or hyr undertenant” without the consent of six approved and lawful men of the same town under penalty of forty shillings.

A year later in 1582 it was ordered by the Homage that no one “shall take into them to dwell eny person or persons as theyre undertenant Withowte the consent of five or six of the most substantyall & honest menne” of the same township under penalty for each two months thus dwelling against the order of forfeiture of ten shillings.

At the same Court it was also ordered that such sub-tenants who were not inhabitants there for the space of three years shall leave upon summons (notice?) of one quarter of a year under penalty of twenty shillings and it was further ordered that anyone leasing his common rights to any alien called “a forener” for each common right 6s 8d.

In 1586 the Homage reported that William Plomer had welcomed into his house one sub-tenant contrary to the rule and so he should forfeit to the lord forty shillings.

1592 sees Widow Mylbroke falling foul of the law by welcoming one maidservant to live in her house. It was agreed that she should send her away within ten days next under penalty of forfeiting ten shillings. The following year it was reported that Widow Mylbroke had taken one married man into her home to live, against the form of the Statute and against the order of the court, so she forfeited to the lord ten shillings, and furthermore she was ordered that henceforth she shall not do so under penalty of twenty shillings. A costly  experience for Agnes Mylbroke. <Back to list>

The poor. In Norton in 1586/7/8/91 it was noted in the court records that half the amercements for those not wearing their woollen hats would go towards the support of the poor.

Before the Elizabethan Poor Relief Act of 1601 those reduced to poverty, if lucky, relied on private charity but much of this charity disappeared with the Dissolution of the Monasteries between 1536-40. Life was pretty bleak for those reduced to begging. In 1494 a law had been passed ordering beggars to be put in the stocks. In 1547 the law became more punitive with the order that beggars should be branded with a “V” and enslaved for two years. A 1572 law took it even further and ordered that beggars should be whipped and if they offended for a third time they would be executed. This same law also imposed the first compulsory poor tax at parish level thus making the parish responsible for its own poor.

There were a series of poor harvests in the 1590s which exacerbated the problems caused by enclosure and the move from agriculture to sheep farming. Earlier inflation during the reign of Henry VIII and an increasing population had not helped either. The government of Elizabeth I was concerned with the growing numbers of beggars and vagrants believing that social disorder might follow. They devised the Poor Relief Act of 1601 in which a distinction was made between the deserving and undeserving poor. Each parish had to collect a poor rate to give to the deserving poor (the elderly and blind) and to provide workhouses for the “poor by casualty” such as the sick and senile. Orphans were to be apprenticed. The “idle poor” or sturdy beggars on the other hand were to receive nothing except a whipping and an order that they be returned to the place of their birth.

The Poor Relief Act did not end poverty but it did provide a safety net for those who were deemed to be deserving poor. <Back to list>

Affray. In Elizabethan Norton there is a noted increase in amercements for violence between people. Fear of outsiders, beggars, vagrants, lodgers, was a phenomenon of the time but “affray” had been extremely rare in the court rolls until now – could this violence be occurring between locals and incomers or was the Court simply looking for innovative ways of raising money?

In 1564 the sworn men presented John Graves “for bludshed” six shillings and eightpence and furthermore the aforesaid John Graves did steal an “arsshen sticke in lannocke wood” and was arrested as a thief indeed.

Ten years later in 1574 the Homage presented that William Rennold had committed affray against Thomas Longley, the vicar of Norton against the peace of the Lady the Queen, and so forfeited to the lord 3s 4d. The homage likewise presented that Thomas Camok had committed affray upon John Stokes against the peace and therefore forfeited to the lord 3s 4d.

In 1580 it was reported by the Homage that Thomas Phypp had made an affray and had drawn blood upon William Plomer so forfeited to the lord 3s 4d. It was also reported by the Homage that Thomas Lord had also made an affray against William Plomer so was amerced 12d.

In 1586 the Homage presented that John Izod had made an affray upon Antony Awbery and had drawn blood upon his head so he forfeited to the lord 3s 4d.

In 1588 it was reported that John Thompson the younger and his wife made an affray against the wife of Heathe and drew blood so they forfeited to the lord (fine concealed by folded corner of document). In the same year was reported that George Cock had drawn blood upon John Fuller against the peace and so forfeited 3s 4d

In 1593 it was reported by the Homage that Thomas Burman had made affray upon George Heath and drew blood with a stone so he forfeited 3s 4d.

It was also reported that [blank] had made an affray with William Plomer so he was in mercy 3s 4d for drawing blood. The Bailiff was also ordered to distrain the unknown person so that he should attend the next Court to show why he did not allow the aforesaid William, being the Heyward, to herd the aforesaid animals in the fields of Norton that were causing damage, into the pound until they had paid the value of the grain for the aforesaid damages according to the form of law. There is no indication of when William Plomer assumed the office of Heyward but one wonders whether the assaults he suffered at the hands of Thomas Phypp and Thomas Lord in 1580 had any connection with his duties. <Back to list>

In 1555 the lord of the manor granted to Nicholas Walles, Robert Reynold and Edward Phypp a messuage called the Towneshows or Town’s House, a croft called Fysshys Close and half an acre of arable land lying at Bootons Corner. The profits arising from these premises were to be used to help the poor people within the parish of Norton and to pay tax to the King and Queen. An added bonus to this generous gift was the female wild pig which had been living in the Town’s House for more than a year and was valued at 12p. She was placed in the custody of the three lessees. It suggests that the Town’s House was in a bad state of repair. <Back to list>

Sheep incidents. It was presented by the Homage in 1380 that “John in the Hale, shepherd, in his fault four sheep died because he did not guard them well in a certain icy rainstorm [hailstorm?] and also in his fault he lost two sheep, to ten shillings and eightpence worth of damage.”

In 1580 a penalty of 10s for each additional sheep was imposed on anyone keeping more than the allowance of one sheep per acre of “le Fallowe”.

In 1582 it was reported by the Homage that William Northe and John Pollard had overburdened the common with seven or eight score “shepe” against the custom of the manor and that they had built a fold against custom and to the nuisance of other tenants and to the nuisance of the lessee there “but under which name they scarcely know.”

From this last Court entry we are informed that the demesne lands were being leased to a farmer (lessee) and that William Northe and John Pollard were operating as a partnership.

Manorial custom did not understand business partnerships so the Court did not know which of the partners to prosecute. <Back to list>

Road repairs. In 1582 the Homage reported that George Northe did not carry stones for mending the common way according to the form of the statute but had stopped for two days and so forfeited 2s.

This is the first reference we have to the 1555 Highways Act under which the burden of highway upkeep was placed on individual parishes and every householder of a parish had to provide four days labour a year on the highways. In 1562 the Second Statute of Highways extended this to 6 days. Supervisors of highway work were empowered to take debris from quarries and dig for gravel without permission of the landowners. <Back to list>

Berry picking. In 1583 it is ordered that anyone carrying away any berries out of the fields of Norton without permission of four honest men of the aforesaid township shall forfeit for each offence 4d. This is the 2nd time there has been a record of a prohibition on picking berries. The first limited berry picking to one’s own land but this order seems to give way to the popular custom of brambling but nevertheless demands permission of the four honest men.

There is also an interesting reference to this item being made public through a church notice.

In 1585 the Homage say that Robert Slydall and William Warner and the servant of the same William shall forfeit the penalty imposed against them who carry away berries from the fields of Norton that they shall forfeit for each “le burden” fourpence so they shall forfeit that is to say Slydall fourpence and Warner and “his mayde” eightpence.

A comment from Peter Foden: Is this an anti vagrancy law or do the berries have a commercial value beyond eating – possibly dyeing? <Back to list>

Water courses and ditches. In 1560 it was ordered that John Racheford should annually clean and “escouwer” one watercourse or “Dytche” between the parishes of Bygrave and Norton next to the boundary of the township of Bawlducke under penalty of ten shillings.

In the same year it was ordered that Benedict Stockfilde should clean or “escower” one watercourse or “dytche” at Earlye Buttes before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel next to come under penalty of ten shillings.

In 1564 it was ordered that if Anthony Reynoldes did not sufficiently scour Towlers Ditche before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, the same would forfeit twelvepence.

In 1573 thirteen years after he was first ordered to regularly clean his watercourse, it was revealed by the Homage that John Rocheford had forfeited the penalty imposed upon him at the last court because he had not scoured and dug a certain watercourse next to Mundyns Close Style near to the boundary of the Town of Baldok and between the parishes of Bygrave and Norton according to order and so he has forfeited ten shillings. And he was ordered to scour it before the feast of Saint Peter in Chains next, under the aforesaid penalty.

In the same year it was also ordered that Benedict Tokefyld should scour his ditch at Erley buttes before Christmas under penalty of six shillings and eightpence.

Finally, in 1579 it was ordered by the Homage that Thomas Langley, clerk, should remove his dunghill lying in the alleyway called Churche lane before the feast of Christmas next under penalty of ten shillings and it was ordered furthermore that henceforth he should not do anything sordid in the aforesaid lane under the aforesaid penalty every time.

Thomas Langley died the following year. He does not appear to have been a popular member of the parish; he was beaten up by William Reynold, fined for over burdening the common on three occasions, ordered to build a fence between himself and Christopher Croft, is accused of keeping a boy to break his neighbours’ fences and finally his wife breaks a fence at Long Crofte. <Back to list>

Ploughing with horses. In 1579 it was ordered by the Homage that no one should go henceforth “over le Shott at Boltons pece end” with “doble horses” under penalty of 12d every time. The Latin word “averus” is ambiguous, meaning draught beast, so can be used for either oxen or horses. Here, in English, is unequivocal evidence that yoked horses were being used for ploughing in Elizabethan Norton. <Back to list>

A mortgage arrangement in 1579. It was reported in Court that Henry Gregory surrendered one messuage with appurtenances called Purcelles into the hands of the lord to the use and behoof of William Freman and his heirs until William Milbroke shall satisfy the aforesaid William Freman with seven pounds of lawful money of England and upon payment then the aforesaid William Freman will surrender the aforesaid messuage into the hands of the lord to the use and behoof of William Milbroke and his heirs for ever.

Mortgages expressly enabling purchase of property rather than releasing equity from property already owned are relatively uncommon. William Milbroke appears to be a landless newcomer buying land from Henry Gregory with a secured loan from William Freman. <Back to list>

Orders. In 1574 the Homagers presented that William Rennold has not constructed nor sufficiently repaired “le Styles leadyng from the Churche thorroughe his yard into the West end of the same Town for the easement of thenhytamentes there dwelling” therefore he forfeited the penalty upon him imposed at the previous court, that is to say 3s 4d. And he was ordered to do this before the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel under the aforesaid penalty. In the same Court it was presented that William Rennold also committed affray against Thomas Longley the vicar of Norton for a further amercement of 3s 4d. Whether this was linked to the refusal to repair the style we will never know.

A year later the Homage revealed that William Rennold had again forfeited the penalty imposed on him at the previous court for this that he has not sufficiently made his “le Styles” and so he forfeited to the Lord a further 3s 4d, and he was ordered to mend it before the feast of Christmas under the aforesaid penalty. A year later he forfeited yet a further 3s 4d. He seems that he was reluctant to allow the faithful of the parish to pass through his land. <Back to list>

Incidents of collective revolt.

1.  Grinding corn at the lord’s mill was a lucrative source of income for the Abbot. It was compulsory and much resented by the villagers of the Liberty of St Albans. A result of the siege of St Albans in 1327 was that the people “shall be allowed to have hand mills as they used to do”. This led to an increase of hand mills but the victory was short lived as the incoming Abbot Richard of Wallingford (1327 to 1336) forced the people to surrender their millstones and renunciate their right to mill. In St Albans alone there were some 80 hand mills which the abbot used to pave his parlour.

In Norton there are many instances of villagers grinding elsewhere (41 from 1307 to 1327, a further 68 from 1327 to 1373) culminating in 1373 with the jurors presenting that all the tenants had not ground at the lord’s mill. It was ordered that henceforth they should all grind at the lord’s mill under penalty of 20s. After 1373 we have no records of milling amercement until 1448 when all tenants are ordered to grind at the mill under penalty of 3s 4d.

It didn’t always go the way of the miller. In 1403 William Gerard, miller, was presented by the Homage as having taken excessive toll and duly amerced. This did not deter him and he was amerced again in 1407 for the same offence. He also failed on numerous occasions to attend Court and was amerced for committing waste in his tenement by cutting down trees valued 18d.

2.  “Waryng of Hattes”. In 1571 a law was passed that every citizen over six years of age should wear a woollen cap on Sundays and holidays no matter what the temperature. As well as the cap tax, all burials were to be in woollen shrouds. This was done to promote the wool trade in England but as with all laws there was controversy, primarily because the upper classes were excused.

In 1573 the Homage presented that they themselves had forfeited the penalty imposed upon them “for Waryng of Hattes” against the substance of the statute lately made and promulgated concerning this matter, but they themselves submitted to the lord that he may wish to forgive them on this occasion, to whom the lord by his special grace foregave them this time, but if in future they likewise offended they shall incur the penalty of the statute upon them and theirs whomsoever thus acting to the contrary.

In 1578 it was reported by the whole Homage that Nicholas Rennold, Edward Phypp, George Northe, George Fage, William Warner, Thomas Phypp the elder, Thomas Phypp the younger, Thomas Phypp son of Edward Phypp, William Wynne, William Kynge, Nicholas Bygge, John Chapman, John Stookes, Edward Aborne, George Cokk, William Ivorye and Nicholas Moole had incurred the penalty of the statute “for not Waryng of Cappes” on Sunday and so they each forfeited 3s 4d according to the wording of the same statute.

Attached to the Court record of 1586 is a short text in English; “As for our Capps every man hathe them as farr as we knowe accordinge to the statute but we doe not weare alwaye as we oughte to doe by the statute therefore we confesse we ar all faulters”

This English text probably relates to the Court entry for 1586 where it was reported by the Homage that each had broken the statute of the thirteenth year of the present Queen “for not Weryng of Cappes” on Sundays according to the content of the same statute and so shall forfeit for each Sunday 3s 4d, half to the lord and the other half to the poor. And again in 1587, 1588 and 1591. These last four entries are interesting as half the amercement goes to the support of the poor. In 1572 a law had been passed requiring parishes to provide for their poor and then in 1601 the Poor Relief Act was passed.

3.  Artillery practice.  In 1252 the Assize of Arms was passed which decreed that every man between the ages of 15 and 60 years should equip themselves with a bow and arrows. The Archery Law of  1363 ordered the obligatory practice of archery on Sundays and holidays forbidding, on pain of death, all other pointless sport which might interfere with such practice. It was later proclaimed that should an archer accidentally kill a man during practice the archer would not be held responsible for his murder! The fifteenth century saw further statutes ordering every householder to keep bows for himself, his servants and his children and for them to be used by every adult and adolescent male unless he was an ecclesiastic or a judge.

Henry VIII issued further Acts to reinforce the message of artillery practice urging local officials to do all in their power to suppress unlawful games such as football, bowls, tennis and dice in favour of archery practice.

In Norton there appeared to have been a rather half hearted attempt to abide by the law. In 1564 the sworn men presented that John Dodkyn, John Graves, Lawrence Grubbe, Robert Shawe, William Cocke, William Smythe and Goodman Tompsons did not have bows and arrows and if they did then they do not use them. Each man was amerced.

An English text in 1586 attached to the Norton Court roll of the time; “… for Artillerye we have them but we doe not shoote accordinge to the statute because the time of the yeare doe not serve”. This appears to suggest that practice was perhaps interfering with work in the fields.

In 1590 the Homage said that they had bows and arrows but did not use them according to the form of the statute. This is repeated in 1591 so by the statute they forfeited for each month 6s 8d. A hefty penalty. The same infringement is committed in 1592 and 1602. <Back to list>

Trust for sale.  In 1585 an interesting transaction appeared in the Court records which is quoted below:

“At this court it is likewise presented by the Homage that Thomas Lorde who held of the lord of this manor unto him and his heirs in reversion one cottage, one toft and one Cotland late Rasshes and afterwards Neale called Izodes did out of court since the last court on his deathbed surrender the aforesaid reversion with appurtenances into the hands of the lord by the hands of John Pollard John Thompson and William Lawman three of the customary tenants of this manor with this intention that the aforesaid John, John and William should sell and surrender the aforesaid reversion into the hands of the lord to the use and behoof of whatever person or persons wished wish or shall wish to buy it and to distribute the money arising therefrom in equal shares among the four daughters of the same Thomas that is to say Katherine, Joan, Agnes and Alice at the discretion of Nicholas Rennold and James Rocheford the elder which certain John John and William have presented the aforesaid surrender at this same court and thus it continues [altered to imperfect tense] in default of purchasers.”

Peter Foden comments as follows: “The women of Norton emerge from the shadows. This is an interesting entry because trusts for sale are supposed to have been invented by John Hampden in his will (1639) but this is half a century earlier. Daughters traditionally inherited in equal shares, so this need not be as radical as it at first appears. Where there were sons, inheritance passed first to the eldest and descended to the youngest son. Where there were only daughters the inheritance was split equally.” <Back to list>

Relaxation: The following entry appeared in Norton’s Court records for 1591: “The Homage likewise present that Richard Phypp has one ‘le payre of Tabulles’ and likewise John Ballavye but they do not keep ‘Comon playe in there houses but for there owne recreacion’.” Tabulles are probably Backgammon tables.

Later in 1603 there is the following entry: “It is reported by the Homage that William Kyng Edward Phypp and Henry Jeve have broken the statute of unlawful games called ‘bowlyng in open prayer tyme’ so they each forfeit six shillings and eightpence according to the form of the same statute.”

Earlier, in 1585 is was reported that “John Burman gentleman has not been attending the parish church of Norton ‘syns pentycost last’ on Sundays at service time, therefore according to the statute made for such a case he shall forfeit for each Sunday of his absence eleven pence not having lawful reason why he himself should stay away.” Is it possible he was enjoying a game of bowls rather than attend church?

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One Response to “Tudor Norton”

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