Early Jocelyn Family Records
Please note that I am actively developing this page and have published it "in the rough" to get feedback on my ideas. I would like to hear from anyone who can add to the story or who can support or refute any of my arguments. If you are returning, make sure you refresh the web page in your browser to ensure you have the latest version.

The Jocelyn name in England is of Norman origin. The initial form was probably the Norman / French Goscelin or Gosselin and evolved in England and possibly France to be spelt in many ways including: Jocelyn, Jocelin, Josselin, Josselyn, Josline, Joslyne, Joslen, Joscelyne, Joselyn, Joslyn, Joslin, Josslin, Josolyne, Josling and Gosling.

For simplicity in this document I have used Jocelyn, the form used by the senior line (the Earls of Roden), for generic purposes and the spelling in the original documents when referring to specific individuals. For Domesday references I have used the spelling in the Penguin Classics version of the Domesday Book.

As many of the terms used in this document are no longer in use I have included a glossary at the end of this page.

Jocelyn Family History
According to Jocelyn History, the first English members of the family were:
"Egidius Jocelyn, a nobleman of Brittany, [who] passed into England in the time of Edward the Confessor, and was father of sir Gilbert Jocelyn, who returned to Normandy and accompanied [William] the Conqueror in his expedition against England, from whom he obtained the manors of Sempringham [and Tyrington (Torrington) in Lincolnshire (ref 2)], left issue 2 sons, Gilbert and Geoffry."

Debrett, 1820 (ref 3)

This statement is supported by:
"St Gilbert of Sempringham... Born in 1083, of a noble family, at Sempringham in Lincolnshire, he soon turned his eyes toward the church. With the view of qualifying himself for some important post, he attended the celebrated schools of Paris, where, we are told, he distinguished himself. On his return, he was presented to two livings in the gift of his family, Sempringham and Torrington .... "

Dunham's "A History of Europe During the Middle Ages" (ref 9):

confirming the two livings were in the hands of the family.

In addition:

"The prime ancestor of our family married Gerbuca, daughter of Lotharius, King of France, descended from the said Carolus Magnus, and a younger brother of his descendant Godfrey, Duke of Brabant (ancestor of the Northumberland family), was the father of Egidius Josselin, a nobleman of Brittany, who passed into England for the Court of Edward the Confessor in the year 1042, and had issue Sir Gilbert Jocelyne..."

Lodge's "Peerage of Ireland"

My initial aim in writing this was to identify the Jocelyns in the Domesday Book and to verify the above story. However, as I have researched this period of the family history I was surprised to found that the stories above are probably incorrect. As a result I broadened my reading to try to identify the 'ancestral Jocelyn'.

To distinguish the family history Jocelyn from the ancestral Jocelyn, when necessary I have called the former "Sempringham Jocelyn" and the latter "Ancestral Jocelyn".

The first part of this page attempts to answer my initial question: Can I identify Jocelyn of Sempringham in the Domesday book?

Having seemingly disproved the family story, the second part tries to answer the question: Can I identify the Ancestral Jocelyn?

Part 1 - Jocelyn of Sempringham in the Domesday Book
Possible candidates

What factors could identify the correct person? I have used the following:

There are three landowners listed in the Domesday Book as holding land at Sempringham (variously spelt as Sepingeham, Spingeham and Stepingeham) ...
  1. Robert de Tosny (Robert de Todeni) (ref 1 p 917)
  2. Gilbert de Ghent (Gilbert de Gand) (ref 1 p 924)
  3. Alfred of Lincoln (Alvred de Lincoln) (ref 1 p 930).

    ... and there are a number of people in the Domesday Book known as Jocelyne, including ...

  4. Joslin le Breton, with extensive land holdings, although not in Lincolnshire
  5. Goscelin the Lorimer, who had land in the hundred of Becontree near Ilford in Essex
  6. Joscelin fitzLambert, who had extensive land holdings in North and East Lincolnshire and elsewhere,
  7. Joscelin, Alvred de Lincoln's man, with land holdings at Sempringham and scattered through central and northern Lincolnshire.

    ... and to examine the final factor ...

  8. Is there any modern, accepted information, which connects Jocelyn of Sempringham with Lambert and Gerberga or with the Jocelyn family in the 12th / 13th century.
Robert de Tosny
de Tosny's holdings at Sempringham are described as:
In 'Sempringham' [is] 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. 4 sokemen have 1 plough there, and 10 acres of meadow, and 6 acres of scrubland.

Domesday Book (ref 1)

de Tosny had extensive land holdings around England and built Belvoir Castle to the west of Sempringham.

Apart from the land at Sempringham, Robert de Tosny does not seem to figure in the Jocelyn story.

Joslin le Breton
Joslin le Breton is of interest as the Jocelyns are from the town of Josselin in Brittany, however as his land holdings were not in Lincolnshire or East Anglia, it is unlikely that he is directly connected with our Jocelyns and so at this stage I have not explored this thread any further.
Goscelin the Lorimer
Goscelin lived in Essex in the area now known as Manor Court at Ilford. Like Joslin le Breton there is nothing to link him with Sempringham.
Joscelin fitzLambert
Joscelin fitzLambert is proving elusive and I can find no references to him apart from in the Domesday Book itself. He was undoubtedly of some importance, ranking alongside Alvred and Gilbert de Ghent in land holding in Lincolnshire. His name, fitzLambert, implying he was 'Joscelin son of Lambert' - was he connected in some way with Lambert I?
From the Domesday book:

In Blyborough , Tovi had 6 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs. Joscelin fitzLambert has 2 ploughs there in demesne; and 1 sokeman on a bovate of this land and 8 villans with 1 plough, and 20 acres of meadow. TRE worth 20s: now 33[s]: tallage 7s.

In Glentworth, Godric had 7 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen. Joscelin has there 4 sokemen on 4 bovates of this land with half a plough. Ansketil, his man, has 1 plough there, and 30 acres of meadow. TRE worth 10s 8d; now 20s.

In Normanby-By-Spital and Owmby-by-Spital, Aghmund had half a carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for oxen. Kolsveinn, Joscelin's man, has half a plough there, and 1 villan, and 4 acres of meadow. TRE worth 8s: now lOs.

In the same places Joscelin has 9 bovates of land to the geld of which Bishop Remigius has the soke. [There is] land for Oxen.

In Willingham By Stow, Aslak and Earnwig had 5 carucates of land to the geld and the third part of a carucate. [There is] land for as many ploughs. Walo, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 5 sokemen on 3 carucates and 3 bovates of this land and 1 bordar with 1 plough. TRE worth 60s: now 40(s].

In Stow [near Torksey] [is] 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. [It is] sokeland of Willingham by Stow. 4 sokemen have 1 plough there.

In Ingham, Alnoth and Aslak had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen. Ansketil, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 1 sokeman on 2 bovates of this land and 1 bordar with 1 ox in a plough, and 6 acres of meadow. TRE worth 20s; now l0s.

In Coates, Aslak had half a carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 4 oxen. 1 villan has there 1 ox in a plough. TRE worth 20s: now 5[s].

In the same place [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. [It is] Sokeland of lngham. It is waste.

In Snitterby [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. [It is] Sokeland of Waddingham. [It is] waste.

In Harpswell, Aghmund and Sighet and 2 other brothers had 2½ carucates of land to the geld. [There is] land for ploughs. Joscelin has 2 ploughs there, and 13 villans with 3 ploughs, and half a church, and 109 acres of meadow. TRE worth 9s: now 50[s]: tallage 10s.

In Hackthorne and Cold Hanworth, Sighet and Beorhtgifu had 2 carucates of land and 1 bovate to the geld. (There is] land for 4 ploughs.

In the same places [are] 4 bovates of land to the geld, sokeland of Harpswell, and another 2 bovates of land to the geld, inland of Owmby-by-Spital. [There is] land for 1 plough, Joscelin has 2 ploughs there in demesne: and 11 sokemen on 13 bovates of this land and 3 villans and ii bordars with 3 ploughs, and 1 mill [rendering] 16d, and 40 acres of meadow. TRE, as now, worth 60s; tallage 20s.

In Waddingham and Stainton [in Waddingham], Steingrimr and Aghmund had 6 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 6 oxen. Joscelin has 1 plough there, and 20 villans with 1 plough and 2 oxen in a plough, and 20 acres of meadow. TRE worth 40s: now 30[s]: tallage 10s.

In Redbourne, Aghmund and Brunhyse and Skuli had 7 carucates of land and 1 bovate to the geld. [There is] land for 14 ploughs and 2 oxen. Joscelin, and a certain man of his has 3 ploughs there in demesne: and 6 sokemen on 10 bovates of this land and 21 villans and 4 bordars with 3½ ploughs, and 1 mill [rendering] 3S, and 140 acres of meadow. TRE worth £13 now 100s; tallage 20[s].

In Scawby and Sturton [in Scawby], Aghmund had 13 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2½ ploughs. Baldric, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 6 sokemen on bovates of this land and 1 villan and 3 bordars with 1 plough. TRE worth 20s; now 30[s]: tallage 10s.

In Bottesford, Aghmund had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. Joscelin and a certain knight of his have 2 ploughs there, and 1 sokeman and 6 villans and 4 bordars with 1 plough, and the site of 1 mill, and a church, and 15 acres of meadow, and 30 acres of scrubland. TRE worth £4; now 30s; now tallage 10s.

In Cleatham [are] 2 bovates of land to the geld. [It is] inland of this manor. 1 villan has 1 ox there.

In Middle Rasen, Thor had 3 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 5 ploughs. Walo, Joscelin's man, has there 2 oxen in a plough, and 1 sokeman on half a bovate of this land and 4 villans with half a plough. TRE worth 10s: now 24[s].

In Tealby, Eadric had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen. Godard, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 4 sokemen on 1 bovate of this land and 10 villans with 1½ ploughs, and 3 mills [rendering] 16s, and (there are] 61 acres of meadow. TRE worth 60s; now 100[s]: tallage 60s.

In North Willingham [is] sokeland of this manor, 15 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 3½ ploughs, 28 sokemen and 10 bordars have 2½ ploughs there, and 200 acres of meadow. Ivo has half a carucate there.

In Sumarlithr [Osgodby near West Rasen] [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. There is 1 bordar.

In Claxby [near Walesby] and Normanby le Wold [are] 9 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs and 2 oxen. 14 sokemen have there 11 oxen in a plough, and 40 acres of meadow, and 40 acres of scrubland.

In Osgodby [near West Rasen] [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 oxen. There is 1 bordar.

In Snelland , Aghmund had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs. Rayner, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 3 sokemen on 2 bovates of this land and 1 villan with half a plough, and 10 acres of meadow, and 14 acres of scrubland. TRE, as now, worth 30s.

In Reasby [are] 14 carucates of land to the geld. [It is] sokeland of this manor. [There is] land for 12 oxen. 4 sokemen have 1 plough there, and 5 acres of meadow, and 10 acres of scrubland. Of this sokeland William de Percy holds 4 bovates.

In Swinthorpe [are] 6 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. There is 1 sokeman, and 6 acres of meadow.

In Wickenby [are] 3 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 5 oxen. There are 4 sokemen, and 6 acres of meadow.

In Bleasby , Aghmund had 14½ bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 3 ploughs. Herman, Joscelin's man, has 1½ ploughs there, and 2 sokemen on 2½ bovates of this land, and 2 villans and 2 bordars with 1 plough and 2 oxen, and 120 acres of meadow, and 120 acres of scrubland. TRE [worth] 22s: now 40s.

In Beckering (is] half a bovate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 ox. 1 sokeman ploughs there with 1 ox, and [there is] half an acre of meadow.

[from Folio 359V: LINCOLNSHIRE]

In Holton cum Beckering (is] 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 ploughs. There are 4 sokemen with 9 oxen in a plough, and 10 acres of meadow. Herman has it under Joscelin.

In Beesby In The Marsh and Maltby le Marsh , Aghmund had 6 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 6 oxen. Eurold, Joscelin's man, has half a plough there, and 1 sokeman on 4 tofts of this land and 1 villan with 2 oxen in a plough, and [there is] a church. TRE, as now, worth 10s.

In Bag Enderby , Leysinger had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen. Baldric, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 3 sokemen and villans with 5½ ploughs, and 1 mill [rendering] 2S. TRE worth 40s: now 30s.

In Hagworthingham , Joscelin has 1 mill [rendering] 2s.

In Tetford , Beorhtnoth had 2 carucates of land and 2 bovates to the geld. [There is] land for 3 ploughs. Walter, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 5 sokemen on 6 bovates of this land and 3 villans with 1½ ploughs. TRE worth 20s; now 30s.


In Somersby Aghmund had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen, 5 sokemen have 1½ ploughs there, and half a mill [rendering] 10d.

In the same place Snarri had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 12 oxen. Rayner, Joscelin's man, has there 6 sokemen with 1 plough, and half a mill [rendering] 10d. TRE worth 10s: now 16s.

In Bag Enderby , Leofsige had 6 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. Lambert, Joscelin's man, has there 3 oxen in a plough, and 6 sokemen and 1 villan and 1 bordar with 1 ox in a plough. TRE worth 8s: now 10s.

In the same place [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 oxen. [It is] sokeland of Ashby Puerorum. 1 sokeman and 1 villan have there 1 ox in a plough. Also sokeland.

In Markby [is] 1 bovate of land to the geld. 1 sokeman has there 1 ox in a plough.

In Wainfleet [All Saints or St Mary] [are] 2 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 2 oxen. 2 villans have there 2 oxen in a plough, and 20 acres of meadow, and 1 salt-pan [rendering] 8d.

In Winceby and Claxby Pluckacre , Aghmund had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. Walter, Joscelin's man, has 1 plough there, and 1 villan, and 1 mill [rendering] 4s. TRE, as now, worth 20s.

In Welton le Marsh and Boothby; [in Welton le Marsh] [are] 2 carucates of land and 2 bovates to the geld. [There is] land for 3 ploughs. [It is] sokeland of Claxby Pluckacre. Rayner, Joscelin's man, has half a plough there, and 14 sokemen have 3 ploughs.

Domesday Book (ref 1)

His lands are in Lincolnshire, north of Lincoln extending up to the area around and north of Kirton-in-Lindsey, and in eastern Lincolnshire. His landholdings at Holtun cum Beckering must have bordered onto Alvred / Joscelin's at Torrington, perhaps linking them in some way.

It seems highly unlikely that he was linked with our Jocelyns, but should not be totally discounted.

Gilbert de Ghent (Gilbert de Gant)
Gilbert was involved with the Jocelyns. His land at Sempringham is described as:
In Aslackby and 'Sempringham' 2 carucates and 6 bovates, [are] 3 carucates of land and 2 bovates to the geld. [There is] land for 3½ ploughs. There are 13 sokemen and 1 bordar having 3 ploughs, and half a church, and the sixth part of another church, and 24 acres of meadow, and 40 acres of scrubland.

Domesday Book (ref 1)

In 1139, Gilbert de Ghent gave Gilbert the land at Sempringham on which to build the Priory, 350 yards to the south and south-west of the parish church of St Andrew. Gilbert was a son of Baldwin, Count of Flanders, whose sister was wife of William the Conqueror (ref 2).

Note that many older documents incorrectly describe the Priory as being built to the north east of St Andrew's. The correct site was only found in 1938 when the RAF took aerial photos to assist archaeologists to locate the priory and discovered the site to the south west.

The priory site can be seen in this map showing St Andrew's church (center) with the priory to the south (the square shape) and it's fishpond (the wooded, triangular shape to the south-west) . Note that the church is to the west of the location shown as Sempringham, on the opposite side of the road.

Newman's "Lives of the English Saints" says about St Gilbert:

His father, Sir Josceline, was a Norman knight and a good soldier, whose service had been rewarded by many gifts of land in Lincolnshire, and especially with the lordship of Sempringham in that county. He was probably one of the vavassors, or inferior nobility of the realm. His mother was a Saxon lady, the daughter of a Thane, and of the same rank as her husband...

and a footnote ...

The Bollandists [an association of Jesuit scholars] have conjectured that Gilbert was connected with Gilbert de Gant, a great baron who came over with William the Conqueror, whose wife's cousin he was. They, however, have no reason to give for their opinion, except that he was called Gilbert, and that the family of Ghent, or Gant, held the barony of Folkingham, near Sempringham. It will afterwards appear, that Joceline was not a tenant in capite, and therefore not one of the great nobility of the realm, and that he held the lands of Sempringham of this very Gilbert. He is here called miles, and not comes, and it is observable that in one place, the Latin life of Gilbert in Dugdale, says, that Gilbert was "de plebe electus.". The Conqueror was not by any means particular as to the nobility of the men whom he employed, nor, Indeed, were his successors, as his son Henry, who is said to have been fond of low company.

"Lives of the English Saints, St Gilbert, Prior of Sempringham", 1844, by John Henry Newman (Google Books)

As will be seen below, this is partially incorrect as Joscelin was almost certainly the man of Alvred de Lincoln and not Gilbert de Ghent, however the comments regarding rank fit well with the evidence in the Domesday Book.

Also from "Lives of the English Saints..." (p20-21), the grant of the land at Sempringham and Torrington resulted (apparently not unusually) in a law suit:

... It appears likely from the terms used by Gilbert when he instituted the priory, that the church lands belonged to him not only as rector, but as lord of the manor, inherited from his father, and this may have been the grounds on which his father's right was questioned. A change had taken place in Sempringham since the doomsday survey, for it was now in the Hundred of Alveton, and belonged to Gilbert of Ghent, who held it free of taxes of the king, which does not seem to have been the case when the survey was taken. Of this nobleman, Sir Joscelin held it as Mense lord (1), and may be that it was doubted whether the presentation belonged to him or Gilbert of Ghent. Or else, it may be, that the title of these new comers to the lands themselves appeared to be of might rather than right. However this may be, the lawsuit was decided in Gilbert's favour ...

(1) This appears from the fact, that Gilbert of Ghent gave the land to to St Gilbert to found the priory, and is said in the charter to be in capite. The dominium of the land, is said indeed to have belonged to Sir Joceline, but it appears that "domain" was applied to the manor of a mense lord. The under tenants of a nobleman were sometimes called barones.

"Lives of the English Saints, St Gilbert, Prior of Sempringham", 1844, by John Henry Newman (Google Books)

In other words, Josceline owned the land in Edward's time, and in some way Gilbert managed to acquire it. In the Domesday Book, Joscelin is associated with the land owned by Alvred, but not that of Gilbert - which land is refered to here? Did Gilbert de Ghent somehow acquire Alvred's land or was it his holding?

This fits well with the family story.

Alvred of Lincoln and Joscelin, Alvred's man
Alvred de Lincoln (or Alfred of Lincoln), is almost certainly the 'Lord' of our "Sir Gilbert" Joscelin. So far I have found few references to him outside of the domesday book.
Lincoln family (per. c.1100–c.1280), gentry, held extensive lands in Dorset and neighbouring counties in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The family may have been descended from Alfred [i] of Lincoln (d. in or before 1110). In 1086 this man, possibly of Breton origin, held land in Thoresway, Lincolnshire, and it was probably the same man who then claimed half a hide of land in Wymington, Bedfordshire. The first member of the Dorset branch of the family was Alfred [ii] of Lincoln (d. in or after 1130). He was also known as Alfred de Nichol, that name being an old French form of Lincoln. He seems to have been the second husband of a Domesday tenant, the widow of Hugh fitz Grip, a former sheriff of Dorset, and he acquired nearly all his wife's lands in the county; these lands were mostly located in the eastern hundreds of Dorset and included land held from Glastonbury Abbey. The feodary of the abbey includes a list of the lands, which in 1086 were held by the widow and then later by the Lincolns and included Duntish and ‘Hermyngswell’ in Buckland (Buckland Newton), Woodyates and Okeford Fitzpaine in Dorset, and Damerham in Hampshire. The Lincolns also held Colway, probably the manor of Lym, on the border of Devon and Dorset, and Sturminster Newton in Dorset from Glastonbury Abbey at a later date. It may have been Alfred [ii] who witnessed a charter of William II in 1091, and he served as a county justice in Dorset in the reign of Henry I. He witnessed over a dozen royal charters in the period c.1100–22 although he may not have been a member of the royal court. He was a patron of Montacute Priory in Somerset to which he gave ‘Brigam’ near Weymouth (part of his wife's estate in 1086). He was still living in 1130 when he paid 60 marks to have Pulham manor for his lifetime.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

Alvred had extensive land holdings "in capite" in Lincolnshire, showing that he was of some importance in the Norman hierarchy. A number of his land holdings are listed in the Domesday Book as being with "Joscelin, Alvred's man" including Sempringham, Billingborough, Boothby Graffoe and Somerton, Alvingham, West Torrington and Cockerton. See details below.

This fits perfectly with the descriptions of Joscelin being a Vassal or Vavassor and with the many records of Jocelyn of Sempringham describing him as having land in both Sempringham and Torrington. Presumably the incorrect connection with Gilbert de Ghent rather than Alvred de Lincoln is a simple mixup - understandable as both held land at Sempringham and Gilbert had somehow acquired some of the land that Joscelin had held TRE.

From the Domesday book, land associated with Joscelin, Alvred's man:

In West Torrington , Rolf had 3½ bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. It is sokeland of the Vill itself. Joscelin, Alvred's man, has there 2½ sokemen having 2½ oxen in a plough, and 11 acres of meadow.

In the same place Klak had 3½ bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. [It is] sokeland of Hainton. 2½ sokemen have 2½ oxen in a plough there. Joscelin holds it of Alvred.

In Alvingham , Eadric had 5½ bovates of land and the sixth part of a bovate to the geld. [There is] land for 1½ plough. Joscelin, Alvred's man, has 1 plough there, and 5 villans with half a plough. 2 bovates of this land are sokeland, and [there are] 20 acres of meadow. TRE worth 20s; now 30[s].

In [North and South] Cockerington , Eadric and Maccus had 7 bovates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 14 Oxen. Alvred and Joscelin his man have half a plough there, and 1 sokeman on a toft and 2 villans with half a plough, and half a mill [rendering] 3s, and [there are] 70 acres of meadow, and 58 acres of scrubland. TRE worth 21s; now 30s.

In Sempringham , Morcar had 4 carucates of land and 2 bovates to the geld. [There is] land for as many ploughs and oxen. Joscelin, Alvred's man, has 1 plough there, and 14 sokemen on 2½ carucates of this land, and 8 villans and 2 bordars, and the fouth part of a church, and 11 acres of meadow, and 7 acres of scrubland. TRE, as now, worth 40s; tallage 20s.

In Billingborough , Toli had 1 carucate of land to the geld. [There is] land for 1 plough. Joscelin, Alvred's man, has 1 plough there, and 2 villans and 1 bordar with 2 oxen in a plough, and [there are] 14 acres of meadow. TRE, as now, [worth] 10s.

In Boothby Graffoe and 'Somerton' [in Boothby Graffoe], Healfdene and Osfrith had 4 carucates of land to the geld. [There is] land for 4 ploughs and 6 oxen. Joscelin, Alvred's man, has 2½ ploughs there, and 5 sokemen on 1 carucate of this land and 4 villans and 6 bordars with 2 ploughs, and [there are] 55 acres of meadow. TRE worth 30s; now 40[s].

Domesday Book (ref 1)

Note also a connection with the Percy's - descendants of Lamert I and supposed cousins of the Jocelyns: Alvred's land in Thoresway near Grimsby included "40 acres of meadow in the soke of William de Percy's manor of Caistor".

There can be little doubt that "Joscelin, man of Alvred" is "Josselin of Sempringham" and the person referred to in the family history as "Sir Gilbert Joscelin", the father of St Gilbert.

So, is Jocelyn of Sempringham the Ancestral Jocelyn?
Having established that Jocelyn of Sempringham was almost undoubtedly Joscelin, Alvred's Man, is there any substantiated evidence (independant of the family history) that he was:
  1. The grandson (or a descendant) of Lambert I and Geberga
  2. The ancestor of the Jocelyn family
Unfortunately I do not have access to modern literature on this era, however correspondence with medieval history buffs who do (ref 5, ref 6) shows that modern historians of this era, for example Dr. Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan, do not support either of these contentions:
  1. There is no documentary evidence to say that Lambert I and Gerberga had a son Egidius (further there is no evidence that St Gilbert's father was called Gilbert). See Josselyn Family History for a summary of this family tree).
  2. The documented children of Gozelin, father of St Gilbert, were Gilbert of Sempringham, Roger and Agnes and "Agnes by 1166 was the heir to Gozelin" and so a son Egidius is unlikely and even if he did exist, he must have presumably died without issue for Agnes to have been the heiress.
The conclusions are therefore that:
  1. the family stories describe an historic Joscelin family, that of St Gilbert,
  2. it seems reasonably certain that St Gilbert's father, Jocelyn of Sempringham, was Joscelin, Alvred de Lincoln's man,
  3. linking the family with Lambert is incorrect. This is probably the result of mistakenly linking the Jocelyn name with Joscelyn de Louvaine descendant of Lambert, who changed his name to Percy and became Duke of Northumberland ca.1130.
  4. linking Jocelyn of Sempringham to the Jocelyn family is incorrect.
I am hoping to get additional information from the Josselin Society which has been researching the family from many years which may clarify some of these points.
Part 2 - the Ancestral Jocelyn
Who is the Ancestral Jocelyn then?
Having almost certainly shown that Jocelyn of Sempringham is not the Ancestral Jocelyn, can we find who this may be?

Presumably the same factors identified above could identify the correct person. I have eliminated Joscelin, Alvred's man and we can eliminate the connections with Sempringham, probably links with Josselin in France (which appear to be via Lambert) and with Sempringham.

What factors should we consider? The obvious ones are:

    The other Jocelyn names:

  1. Joscelin fitzLambert, who had extensive land holdings in North and East Lincolnshire and elsewhere,
  2. Joslin le Breton, with extensive land holdings, although not in Essex,
  3. Goscelin the Lorimer, who had land in the hundred of Becontree near Ilford in Essex

    and geographic locations with early associations with the Jocelyns. The family was & is firmly based in Essex spreading into eastern Hertfordshire and southern Suffolk. The 'center of gravity' for the family from at least early in 13th C. was near Sawbridgeworth at:

  4. High Roding in Essex
  5. Hyde Hall in Essex
Taking the family's location in Essex as the main 'clue', I feel the we can fairly safely eliminate fitzLambert and le Breton, who did not appear to have holdings anywhere near Sawbridgeworth. However the final candidate, Goslin the Lorimer, is very interesting as he lived only a few miles from all of the above locations, near to the Battells and was 'in capite' making him a person of some importance, particularly as his land was only a few miles from the King at what is now known as Manor Court in Ilford. He would actually seem to be a better fit than Joscelin of Sempringham: of higher rank, better matching the class indicated in subsequent family marriages, and far more likely located!
Goscelin The Lorimer
Goscelin the Lorimer held land in the Hundred of Becontree
Land Of Goscelin the lorimer

Hundred of Becontree

Two free men held Ilford TRE as a manor and as 3 hides less 30 acres. [There were] then 2 ploughs in demesne; now 1. The men [had] then ½ ploughs; now 1. [There were] then 7 villans; now 4.

[There were] then 4 bordars; now 6. [There was] then 1 slave; now none. [There is] woodland for 20 pigs. [There are] 20 acres of meadow. [There is] now i mill and 1 fishery. Then as now it was worth £4.

Domesday Book (ref 1)

The ancient parish of Little Ilford, about 6 miles north-east of London, forms part of the London borough of Newham. (fn. 1) The area is now usually called Manor Park, a name first used in the 19th century for the suburban settlement near Manor Park railway station. Little Ilford was bounded east by the river Roding which divided it from Great Ilford, in Barking parish. (fn. 2) Its southern and western boundaries marched with East Ham and its northern boundary with Wanstead. The section of the parish north of the main road to Ilford and Romford, which formed the manor of Aldersbrook, appears to have been transferred from Wanstead to Little Ilford early in the 16th century. (fn. 3) Even after that Little Ilford was the smallest parish in Becontree hundred, with an area in the 19th century of 768 a. (fn. 4) Until about 1850 it was thinly populated. Growth then began, slow at first but becoming more rapid in the 1880s. In 1886 the parish was merged in the sanitary district of East Ham, and it subsequently formed part of East Ham urban district, municipal borough, and county borough. The present account describes the history of Little Ilford up to 1886, while its later history is treated under East Ham. A few exceptions to this arrangement are made clear by means of cross-references ...

... The manor of LITTLE ILFORD, also known from the 17th century as BERENGERS, (fn. 48) comprised that part of the parish lying to the south of the ancient road to London. In 1066 it was held by two freemen as a manor and as 3 hides less 30 a. (fn. 49) In 1086 it was held by Jocelin the Lorimer, who had taken 24 a. from the manor of Barking. (fn. 50) In 1210–12 Halnoth de Sifrewast, who had succeeded William de Sifrewast at Purley (Berks.) before 1186 (fn. 51) held Ilford in chief for one knight's fee. (fn. 52) By 1217 Halnoth had been succeeded by his son William, (fn. 53) who in 1226–8 was engaged in litigation with Barking Abbey concerning suit at the hundred court. (fn. 54) Statements made in this case seem to imply that William's family had held land at Ilford since the reign of Henry II, but the only member of the family who was named was his father's sister Isabel, widow of a certain Alan, who was holding land there (evidently not Little Ilford manor) in dower between 1170 and 1181. In 1233 William de Sifrewast granted 20 a. land in Ilford to Robert of Ilford for life. (fn. 55) In 1238–9 William was challenged by Roger de Quercu, in right of his wife Agnes, who claimed the manor as great-granddaughter of 'Joceamus', said to have been the tenant under Henry I. (fn. 56) Joceamus sounds like Jocelin the Lorimer, the Domesday tenant, who may well have survived into the reign of Henry I. The dispute was settled in 1240, when Roger and Agnes surrendered their claim. (fn. 57) William de Sifrewast was dead by 1244, leaving as his heir his son Nicholas, then a minor. (fn. 58) At his death he still held lands in Essex, but his Ilford estate seems to have passed soon after into the hands of William de la Pole. In 1254 Pole was patron of the church of Little Ilford, an appurtenance of the manor, (fn. 59) and in 1259 he granted the advowson and one carucate of land in Ilford, together with the tenement that Robert of Ilford once held there, to the abbey of Stratford Langthorne, to hold by rent of 45s. a year and service of ¼ knight's fee. (fn. 60) In 1291 the abbey's temporal estate at Ilford was valued at £11 12s. 1½d. a year. (fn. 61)

British History Online - Little Ilford

Becontree Hundred Map
The Manors surrounding Little Ilford in Becontree were all owned by the church and so amongst his nearest secular neighbours were the owners of Battelle Hall at Stapleford Abbots. See the map of Ongar below.

As we will see in following sections, Goscelin lived very close to the places where the Jocelyn family are first linked to in the records, only 10 to 20 miles to the North and also in the Roding River valley, at Stapleford Abbots (Ongar) and Hyde Hall and High Roding. While there is no strong evidence, this does provide some circumstantial evidence that Goscelin the Lorimer may have been the ancestor of the Jocelyn family.

HOWEVER, from Keats-Rohan book, See Keats-Rohan's 'Domesday People' (ref 10) p. 234 (thanks to Tim Powys-Lybbe ref 5):

Goscelin Lorimarius

Norman, occurs in Domesday East Anglia, where he was a tenant of Frodo, brother of Abbot Baldwin, of Ely Abbey, and he also held his own fee as Jocelyn Lorimer. Known as Jocelyn of Ely and of Lodden.

Between 1114 and 1119 the abbot of Bury made a grant to O. the widow of Jocelyn de Lodden, whose sons Ralph and Gilbert subsequently attest Bury charters. According to the Ramsey Chronicle (249-50), he had a 'nepos' Ralph, brother of Brien. He was perhaps also father of Jocelyn the clerk of Ely, a member of Nigel of Ely's household, remembered by the monks of Ely as the thief of a valuable chalice (Lib. El. pp. 322, 192). His heir by 1202 was Cecilia of Norton, daughter of Christiana of Norton, (Feet of Fines Norfolk, Pipe Roll Soc. n.s. 27, no. 381).

Which appears to eliminate Goscelin the Lorimer.
The Ongar Hundred
The earliest location associated with a Jocelyn in Burke's is that of the marriage of John Jocelyn to Katherine Battell (or Batayle) who lived in Ongar ca. 1220.
THE hundred of Ongar, lying in the south-west of the county [of Essex] is roughly oval in shape and about 17 miles long. Although only 10 miles from London at the nearest point and 27 miles at the farthest it is still mainly rural. The River Roding flows south-west through the hundred. In the summer it is usually no more than a narrow stream but is sometimes severely swollen in winter, and the repair of its many bridges was a serious problem down to the 19th century. In the Roding valley the land is never more than 200 ft. above sea-level. Elsewhere it is usually under 300 ft. and there are few hills.

British History Online - The Hundred of Ongar

Ongar Hundred Map

The Ongar Hundred lies between the Becontree Hundred, home of Goscelin the Lorimer at Ilford, and the Dunmow Hundred, location of the Jocelyns at Hyde Hall, High Roding, Sawbridgeworth etc. The River Roding flows through all three Hundreds, possibly providing a natural route for travel between these places, about 20 miles apart.

Katherine Battell is described in Burke's as dau and heiress of Thomas Battell of Ongar, Essex, by Elizabeth, dau and heiress of Richard Enfield of Enfield, Middx. While not directly identified in this article, the Battell's are almost certainly the Batayles of Battles Hall in Stapleford Abbots, about 10 miles to the North east of Ilford:

In 1066 the estate which became known as BATAYLES and later as BATTLES HALL was held by five free men as 2½ hides and 6½ acres and was worth 50s. (fn. 60) In 1086 it was worth 60s. (fn. 61) Part of it was then held by Robert Gernon in demesne. (fn. 62) One hide and a half, worth 28s. was held of Robert Gernon by Nigel. (fn. 63)

After Robert Gernon's fief had escheated to the Crown, Henry I granted it to William de Montfichet. (fn. 64) In 1267 on the death without issue of Richard de Montfichet, great-grandson or great-great-grandson of William, his inheritance was divided between the issue of his three sisters Philippe, wife of Sir Hugh de Plaiz, Aveline, wife of William, Count of Aumale, and Margaret, wife of Hugh de Bolbec. (fn. 65) The manor of Batayles was held of Richard, 2nd Lord Plaiz, great grandson of Philippe and Hugh de Plaiz, at the time of his death in 1327. (fn. 66) For some time afterwards the tenancy in chief descended with the barony of Plaiz. In 1389 John, 5th Lord Plaiz, died leaving as his heir his daughter Margaret, wife of Sir John Howard. (fn. 67) After her death in 1391 her husband obtained livery of her inheritance for his life. (fn. 68) He died in 1438. (fn. 69) His heir was his granddaughter Elizabeth, only child of his son John, Lord Plaiz (d. 1409). (fn. 70) Elizabeth had, however, already obtained the tenancy of the manor of Batayles through her mother Joan (see below) and the estate was therefore presumably held of the Crown in chief after 1438.

Before 1147 the family of Batayle obtained the tenancy of the whole manor which subsequently took its name from them. Between 1108 and 1147 Sir Hubert Batayle granted to the priory of Holy Trinity, Aldgate (Lond.) all the tithes of his demesne of Stapleford except 2 acres tithable to the churches of Stapleford and Lambourne. (fn. 71) His sons William and Matthew were mentioned in the grant. (fn. 72) In 1166 Richard Batayle held 2 fees of Gilbert de Montfichet. (fn. 73) Soon after William, son of Richard Batayle, confirmed the grant made by his great-grandfather by placing a gold ring on the altar of the priory church. (fn. 74) William Batayle was dead by 1200. (fn. 75) He was apparently succeeded by Richard Batayle. (fn. 76) In 1216 the Sheriff of Essex was ordered to put Stephen of Oxford in possession of land which the king had granted to Richard Batayle in Stapleford because Batayle had joined the king's enemies. (fn. 77) It is not surprising that Batayle was a rebel: his overlord, Richard de Montfichet, was a prominent rebel at this time and he also had had his lands seized in consequence. (fn. 78) Batayle probably regained his estates at the same time as Montfichet, in October 1217. (fn. 79) He or another Richard Batayle was holding of Montfichet in 1235-6. (fn. 80) Afterwards the manor was held by Simon Batayle who was alive in 1272 but was succeeded shortly afterwards by Richard Batayle, apparently his son. (fn. 81)

In 1298 the estates of Richard Batayle were divided between his two daughters Margery, wife of William de Sutton, and Anne, wife of Peter de Taleworthe. (fn. 82) The manor of Batayles fell to the share of Margery and William, whose son John succeeded his father by 1318. (fn. 83) John, son of John de Sutton, died in 1393 leaving as his heir his brother Sir Richard de Sutton who died in 1396. (fn. 84) At that time the annual value of the manor was £7 6s. 8½d. (fn. 85) Richard's heir was his son Thomas who apparently died without issue. (fn. 86) The estate passed to the heirs of Margery, who may have been the sister of Richard or Thomas de Sutton and who was the wife of John Walton. (fn. 87) In 1409 her grandson Sir Richard Walton, son of John, died in possession of the manor leaving as his heir his sister Joan, wife of John, Lord Plaiz (d. 1409). (fn. 88) She died in 1424. (fn. 89) Her heir was her daughter Elizabeth, later the wife of John de Vere, Earl of Oxford. (fn. 90) The earl was beheaded in 1462. (fn. 91) In 1475, after the attainder of her son John, Earl of Oxford, Elizabeth was forced to surrender her property to Richard, Duke of Gloucester. (fn. 92) She died shortly afterwards but the earl evidently recovered the manor of Batayles after his attainder was repealed in 1485. (fn. 93) He was lord of the manor by Michaelmas 1488. (fn. 94) He died in 1513 having settled Batayles on his wife Elizabeth for her life. (fn. 95) She died in 1537. (fn. 96) The manor then passed to the 15th Earl of Oxford and on his death to the 16th earl, (fn. 97) who in 1548 was forced to convey a large part of his estates, apparently including the manor of Batayles, to the Protector Somerset. (fn. 98) These estates were declared forfeit to the Crown in 1552 after Somerset's execution. (fn. 99) By an Act then passed, (fn. 1) the manor of Batayles was settled on Aubrey de Vere, brother of the 16th Earl of Oxford (d. 1562). (fn. 2) By 1574 the reversion of the manor had been acquired by Edward de Vere, the 17th earl, for in that year he granted a lease of the manor for 31 years to William Byrd, the composer, to take effect after the death of Aubrey de Vere. (fn. 3) Soon afterwards William Lewyn, apparently acting on behalf of his brother-in-law Anthony Luther, negotiated with Byrd for the purchase of the lease. (fn. 4) Byrd agreed orally to the transaction but later, considering that the oral agreement was not binding, transferred the lease to his own brother John Byrd. (fn. 5) After Aubrey de Vere's death in 1579-80 Anthony Luther claimed that the lease had been lawfully conveyed to him by 'parol' from William Byrd in about 1574. (fn. 6) Luther obtained the verdict of a Queen's Bench jury in his favour but Byrd was not satisfied, alleging that the jury was packed. (fn. 7) In 1580 the parties agreed that the case should be referred to arbitration. (fn. 8) In December 1580 the arbitrators declared that the agreement of about 1574 was lawful but that in their view Luther should surrender his claim on the ground that Byrd, having guaranteed the lease to his brother John, faced financial ruin if he could not fulfil his pledge. (fn. 9) Meanwhile in April 1580 the Earl of Oxford had sold the manor to John Byrd for £620 so that before the arbitration award was announced, John Byrd had become owner of the estate which then comprised 50 acres of arable, 40 acres of meadow, 100 acres of pasture, 160 acres of wood, 300 acres of heathland, and £10 in annual rents. (fn. 10) It is not clear whether the dispute about the lease continued after 1580 but in 1583 John Byrd sold the manor to Philip Smith, haberdasher, of Henley-on-Thames (Oxon.). (fn. 11)

British History Online - Stapleford Abbots

It is interesting to note the connection between the Battell and de Sutton families ca 1298. At about this time Ralph Jocelyn married Matilda daughter of John de Sutton confirming an on-going connection of the Jocelyn family with this area and with the Battells.
Hyde Hall and High Roding, Essex
The family were living at Hyde Hall and High Roding as early as ca. 1250 (ref 7).

The following account differs in two aspects from others that I have seen:

Otherwise it confirms other accounts.
The manor of HYDE HALL, which occupies the tongue of land on the east of the Stort, is an interesting example of an estate which has remained in the same family from the date of its first appearance until the present day. It appears first under the name of The Hyde and was held of the Earls of Essex, chief lords of the fee. (fn. 189) Early in the 13th century it was in the tenure of the Jocelyn family. A Ralph Jocelyn held land in Easton, co. Northants, in the reign of John, but there is no evidence of his holding The Hyde. (fn. 190) His son John, however, held it rather later. (fn. 191) Thomas son of John succeeded his father about the middle of the 13th century. (fn. 192) His son Thomas married Joan daughter of John le Blunt (fn. 193) (for this family see manor of Blunts). After the death of the younger Thomas (fn. 194) the rent from The Hyde was granted by the Earl of Essex to Sir Walter de Essex, who sold it in 1284 to Adam de Stratton to hold during the minority of the heir Thomas son of Thomas. (fn. 195) The next year Joan de la Lee, widow of Thomas, released her right of dower to Adam de Stratton. (fn. 196) A rental of the manor exists for this date. There was a house (curia) with garden and courtyard, 140 acres of arable land in the fields called Langeland, La Doune, Wrechewellefeld, Hallefeld, Hydewode, Suthfeld, and Wodeleye; nine free tenants, of whom four paid a yearly rent, other four paid a rent and owed suit of court, and one paid a rent and came to view of frankpledge on St. Andrew's Day and owed two capons at Christmas; six 'molmen' who paid a rent and owed suit of court, two of them being tallaged with the customary tenants; and four customary tenants who paid a rent and owed two works a week from Michaelmas to the Gules of August (forty-one weeks), and five works in the summer for mowing 2 acres of meadow, and sixteen works from the Gules of August to Michaelmas for cutting 4 acres of corn and 2 acres of oats, and also paid eight eggs and owed tallage and redemption of their blood and suit of court. (fn. 197)

Thomas Jocelyn (the third of the name) was succeeded by Ralph Jocelyn, (fn. 198) who died before 1323. (fn. 199) His widow Matilda was holding the manor with her second husband Roger de Berners in 1331. (fn. 200) Geoffrey son and heir of Ralph was living in 1360. (fn. 201) His son Ralph is mentioned as holding half a knight's fee in Hyde in 1373. (fn. 202) He died about 1383 and was succeeded by his son Thomas. (fn. 203) Geoffrey, called by Clutterbuck son of Thomas, was holding as late as 1403. (fn. 204) Thomas, his son apparently, had succeeded him before 1407, when he had a grant of the manor from Robert de la Rokell, (fn. 205) but he seems to have granted it in the same year to Geoffrey his brother and heir. (fn. 206) Geoffrey Jocelyn by will of 1424 left the manor to his son Thomas subject to his wife Joan's dower. (fn. 207) This Thomas inherited and was succeeded by his son George, who in 1457–8 granted it (for life apparently) to his uncle Ralph Jocelyn of London, (fn. 208) twice mayor of that city, who died in 1478. (fn. 209) In 1480 George settled the manor on his son Ralph, then about to marry Katherine daughter of Richard Martin of Faversham. (fn. 210) Ralph died in 1504, George, his son, being aged fourteen. (fn. 211) George had no issue, and in 1513 conveyed Hyde Hall to his uncle John Jocelyn, (fn. 212) to whom Gabriel, his brother and heir, released all right. (fn. 213) John died in 1525 and was succeeded by his son Thomas of High Roding, co. Essex, (fn. 214) created a Knight of the Bath at the coronation of Edward VI. At his death in 1585 (fn. 215) the manor descended to his son Richard, (fn. 216) who died in 1605. (fn. 217) Robert his son succeeded him. (fn. 218) He was Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1645–7. His third but eldest surviving son inherited Hyde Hall at his father's death in 1664, and was created a baronet in 1665. He was Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1677–8. (fn. 219) In 1685 he settled Hyde Hall on his son Strange Jocelyn (by his wife Jane Strange), on the occasion of his marriage with Mary daughter of Tristram Conyers of Copped Hall in Epping. (fn. 220) He died and was buried at Sawbridgeworth in 1712, when Sir Strange Jocelyn succeeded. (fn. 221) After his death in 1734 the manor descended successively to his son Sir John Jocelyn, barrister-at-law, who died without issue in 1741, and to the latter's brother Sir Conyers, Sheriff of Hertfordshire 1745–6, who died in 1778, also leaving no issue. The estates and baronetcy passed to a cousin Robert Jocelyn, son and heir of Robert first Viscount Jocelyn and Lord Newport, Lord Chancellor of Ireland, son of Thomas, fifth son of the first baronet. Robert, who succeeded his father as Viscount Jocelyn in 1756 was M.P. for Old Leighlin from 1745 to 1756 and was Auditor-General in 1750. He was created Earl of Roden, co. Tipperary, in 1771. He died at Dublin in 1797. Robert, his son and heir, was also AuditorGeneral of the Exchequer. He died in 1820 at Hyde Hall and was succeeded by his son Robert, Auditor-General and M.P. for Louth 1806–7 and 1810–20, also custos rotulorum for the county of Louth. In 1821 he was created Baron Clanbrassil of Hyde Hall. He died at Edinburgh in 1870 and was succeeded by his grandson Robert, fourth Earl of Roden, who died single in 1880, when his uncle John Strange Jocelyn, fifth earl, inherited the property. (fn. 222) On his death in 1897 the title passed to his cousin William Henry Jocelyn, sixth earl, and at his death in 1910 to his brother Robert Julian Orde Jocelyn, seventh Earl of Roden. Hyde Hall is now held by Sophia Countess of Roden, widow of the fifth earl, but the house, which stands in a park of 300 acres, is the residence of the Earl of Arran. The old house was in the form of a quadrangle, but about the year 1806 the courtyard was roofed in to form an entrance hall. (fn. 223) Many new rooms were added and the exterior entirely altered, very little of the old house now remaining, but probably the walls once inclosing the courtyard and parts of the cellars are old. The present front is of a plain classic character and is coated with cement.

British History Online - Sawbridgeworth, A History of the County of Hertford: volume 3, 1912

The information available to me regarding this era is not great! It is therefore hard to reach any firm conclusions regarding the Ancestral Josselyn.

There are a number of possible 'candidates' but the only one in the Hyde Hall area, Goscelin the Lorimer, has been eliminated.

The evidence that Ralph (G22) was connected to Easton, Northants, possibly puts the trail back into the Northampton / Lincolnshire area. Which may lead us to Joscelin fitzLambert.

Below are some of the terms that appear regularly throughout the Domesday Book, their 11th century translations and their meanings.

A  |   B  |   C  |   D  |   E  |   F  |   G  |   H  |   I  |   J  |   L  |   M  |   O  |   P  |   R  |   S  |   T  |   U  |   V  |   W  |   Y


Acre acra, ager A value of land assessment used often in Domesday for pasture, meadow and woodland. Measurement of an acre as a multiple of hides varies in Domesday from region to region.

Arpent arpent Having French origin, the arpent is an area of land commonly used in reference to vineyards in Domesday; it has no set value.

Assart Land cleared from a forest to make space for buildings or farmland.


B An abbreviation of berewic in Domesday (see below).

Before 1066 Refers to information used in Domesday from records originating from the reign of King Edward the Confessor. Domesday records list property and land values before the Conquest, after it and contemporary values. See alsoTRE.

Berewic berewica Derived from the Old English word for corn farm, berewic in Domesday refers to an outlying holding within a manor, separate but taxed as a part of that manor. See also B, above.

Bodyguard hevewarda Local customary obligation for a bodyguard for the king on his passing through.

Boor l. borus A lower class of peasant, but above slave; term only recorded in counties outside the Danelaw.

Bordar of. borde, a wooden hut A cattager: a peasant of lower economic status than a Villan.

Bovate bovata Derived from the Latin word bo, meaning ox, a bovate was a measure of land which could be ploughed by one eighth of a plough, in other words equivalent to one eighth of a carucate. Also used for customary assessment. Used in Domesday records for places under Danelaw.

Burgess burgus Townspeople. The Domesday Book lists numbers of burgesses in some settlements but not others. What constituted a burgess is unclear, as it is thought some of those 'townspeople' may have been rural labourers resident close to towns.

Back to top


Cartage avera Obligation to provide horses or mules for use by the king.

Carucate carucata Derived from the Latin word caruca, meaning plough, this is a measure of land used in Danelaw (North and Eastern) counties in Domesday. Equivalent to a hide and represented the amount of land which could be ploughed by one plough team. Also used in Domesday for customary assessment. See also bovate.

Commote An area of Wales in Norman hands but subject to Welsh law.

Cottager cotarius Lowest and smallest class of peasant.

Customary due consuetudo Payment owed to the king or lord of a manor for rent, services, tax and duties.


Danegeld An Anglo-Saxon tax that could be levied across England, so called because the money raised would be used to buy off or fight Danish invaders.

Defence obligation wara Obligations coupled with land ownership to pay tax or provide military service.

Demesne Latin dominium, Old French adj. demeigne, owned Land in 'Lordship' whose produce is devoted to the LORD rather than to his tenants: (1) MANORS held in the LORD's personal possession as opposed to those granted to his men; (2) that part of an individual estate exploited directly for the Lord's 'home-farm'. Also expressed as INLAND (Old English), as opposed to WARLAND.

d Denarius The English penny, the only silver coin used at the time of Domesday. Remained in English currency until 1971.

Dreng Free men especially used in Lancashire; required to pay customs and provide services to the king in return for holding land.

Back to top


Escort inward Similar to bodyguard. The obligation to provide mounted protection for the service of the king or sheriffs.

Exon (Liber Exoniensis, or Exeter Domesday) The only surviving circuit return from the places in Great Domesday. This circuit covered Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset, and Exon provides the original recordings of the commissioners responsible for this area, which were then abbreviated into Domesday.


Fief See holding.

Forest foras Not always a physical forest but an area under forest law, outside common law. With the exception of the New Forest Domesday does not give names of forests.

Freedman colibertus, quolibertus A lower class of peasant above slaves, similar in Domesday to boors.

Freeman francus homo, socmannus Class of peasant, substantial in number in Domesday, particularly in areas of Danelaw, and possessing relatively strong economic position. Francus homo refers to a French, particularly Norman settler, equivalent in status to a freeman.

Furlong ferlinus, ferdinus, quarentina Area or length of land for tax assessment; area was one sixteenth of a hide or one quarter of a virgate; length about 220 yards.

Back to top


Geld See tax.

Go where he will One of many synonyms used in Domesday for the Anglo-Saxon landholder who had freedom of jurisdiction over his land. Disputes over this right arose with the Normans after the Conquest as their system of landholding obliged tenants to hold land under a tenant-in-chief (lord or institution).


Hide hida Measurement of land for tax assessment used outside Danelaw counties (where carucates were used). Approximately 120 acres, depending on local variations in the acre. See also virgate.

Holding feudum Otherwise known as a fief; term used for a grouping of all the manors held by a single tenant-in-chief or under-tenant in the same county.

Honour honor A term used in Domesday interchangeably with fief and holding.

Housecarl huscarle Guards who formed part of a small standing army for the king, or for a town, funded by taxes used to buy off invading Vikings. Many were thanes.

Hundred Hundredum Large administrative subdivision of land, each having its own representative body from local villages. Domesday commissioners collected information from these assemblies for the Domesday survey. In Danelaw counties the equivalent was the wapentake.

Back to top


in capite by the laws of England, one who holds immediately of the king. According to the feudal system, all lands in England are considered as held immediately or mediately of the king, who is styled lord paramount. Such tenants, however, are considered as having the fee of the lands and permanent possession.

Inland inland Land in a lordship free from paying tax; owned and often farmed by the lord himself.


Jurisdiction soca A manor outlier which paid cutomary dues to a lord but which he did not own. The term sokeland is sometimes used to refer to similar in Danelaw counties.


Landholder See tenant-in-chief.

League Measurement of distance, twelve furlongs, or about 1½ miles.

Lease for three lives Term in a lease, referring to the holder and and two other members of a family, perhaps wife, son or grandson.

Leet Subdivision of land in Kent, equivalent of a Hundred; see also rape.

Livery Land ownership or rights received as a gift from the king.

Lordship dominium In one sense, the land owned by a tenant-in-chief (lord or institution). Also sometimes refers to the land owned by a tenant-in-chief and farmed directly by them, rather than by peasants. In Domesday entries a recurring phrase is 'is and always was in lordship'.

Back to top


M Abbreviation occurring in the margin in Domesday, meaning manor.

Man homo To be someone's man, owing service or work to them. Could also refer to a woman.

Man-at-arms miles A soldier holding his land specifically in return for military service.

Manor manerium, mansio Equivalent to a single holding, with its own court and probably its own hall, but not necessarily a manor house as we think of it. The manor was the basic unit of Domesday.

Mark marka Money of accounting purposes. A silver mark was worth 13s 4d, a gold mark was worth £6.

Mill A watermill. There were no windmills in England for another 100 years.

Moneyer Coiners; a person licensed to strike coins, receiving the dyes from the government, and keeping 6 silver pennies in the pound.


Ora ora Money of accounting purposes worth 16d or 20d.

Back to top


Packload summa A dry measure, used mainly for salt, corn, or sometimes for fish.

Pannage pannequion Mast, or autumn feed for pigs, which were allowed to graze freely on the acorns and beechnuts on the woodland floor. The right to pannage is still part of some forest laws.

Plough caruca, carruca In Domesday the word implies a plough team with its eight oxen and the plough itself. The measure of a carucate was originally the amount of land which such a team could plough in one day.

Predecessor antecessor Previous land holder or holder of an office. Using the term implied that the succession has been legally made, and the powers have passed rightfully to the present holder.

Presentations presentationes A payment for fishing rights.

Back to top


Rape A subdivision of SussexOne of five, later six, subdivisions of Sussex, each with its lord and castle.

Reeve praepositus, praefectus A royal official. Also a manor official, appointed by the lord, or sometimes elected by the peasants.

Relief heriot Money or kind paid to a lord by relatives after a man's death in order for them to inherit.

Revenue firma The provision which a manor owed the king, for example one night's keep for his court. In Domesday this is often translated into a money equivalent as cash replaced the barter economy.

Rider, Riding-man radman, radcaitt Riding escort for a lord, chiefly recorded in the Welsh Marches.

Back to top


Seat caput The principle manor of a lord. Still used today.

Sester sextarium Measure of volume, commonly used for honey, when it amounted to 32 ounces.

Sheriff The royal officer of a shire managing its judicial and financial affairs.

Shilling solidus Money for accounting purposes (there was no actual coin) worth twelve pennies.

Slave A man or woman who owed personal service to another, and who was un-free, and unable to move home or work or change allegiance, to buy or to sell, without permission.

Smallholder bordariums Middle class of peasant, usually with more land than a cottager but less than a villager.

Soke (Old English Sok). Right of jurisdiction enjoyed by a LORD over specified places and personnel.

Soke man See Freeman.

Steersman Commander of a ship.

Sulung Measurement of land in Kent, equivalent to 4 yokes, or the amount of land which could be ploughed by 4 ox-pairs (or approximately 2 hides). Used in Domesday for tax purposes. See also plough


Tallage Old French Tail, a tax or impost in cash or kind, usually in the sense of a levy by a Lord on unfree peasants.

Tax Geldum Periodic tax, first raised for the Danish wars, at a number of pence per hide, carucate or sulung.

Tenant-in-Chief Dominus Lord (or institution, such as a church) holding land directly from the king; also called the 'landholder'.

Thane tainus, teignus Originally a military companion of the king, later one of his administrative officials. In Domesday most thanes were Anglo-Saxons who had retained some of their land. Now known to most people through Macbeth, the thane of Cawdor.

Third Penny The local earl's share of fines in shire or hundred courts, often allocated afterwards to a particular manor or church as a regular income.

Toft oe. on. topt, homestead A peasant's house or cottage, to which belonged his garden or field. Croft.

TRE tempora regis Eduardis In the time of King Edward the Confessor; by implication, when all in the realm was legally correct and ownership would have been rightfully secured.

Back to top


Under-tenant Tenant holding land from a main landholder or tenant-in-chief.


Vassal, Vassalage l. vassus, oc. gwas A man, usually of noble rank, who subordinates himself to a Lord. Vassalage is the status of a Vassal, which was entered by commendation in the ceremony of Homage, sealed by the oath of Fealty. The relationship might be personal or, if the vassal received a Fief, teurial.

Vavassor l. , vavassorius The term is normally used by historians with the meaning of a feudal vassal.

Vill l. , villa, village; oe. tun, township (1) The unit of local administration at its lowest level: Geld for instance was levied on the Shire, Hundred and Vill in that descending order. Not necessarily a village in the modern sense: a Vill represents an area of land rather than the site of a specigic settlement, and mat contain more than one settlement. (2) In Domesday Book occasionally used of Urban sites which were not fully fledged Boroughs.

Village villa Village; but the same Latin word was sometimes used for a larger village or a town.

Villager villanus Member of the peasant class with most land.

Villan villanus, a villager, which translates as Old English tunsman. A peasant of higher economic status than a BORDAR and living in a village. Notionally unfree because subject to the manorial court.

Virgate virgata, virga A quarter of a hide. Used in Domesday for tax purposes.

Back to top


Wapentake wapentac Same as a hundred, in the Danish counties of England.

Warland Land which was liable for tax, in contrast to inland.

Waste Land which was either unusable or uncultivated, and not taxed. Although sometimes waste was the result of William's wars in the north, it could also simply mean land not fit for agricultural use.


Yoke A land measurement in Kent, equal to a quarter of a sulung. A yoke being a pair of ox, this represented the amount of land cultivated by an ox pair. Used in Domesday for tax purposes.

Back to top

© 1999-2004 domesdaybook.co.uk.

Notes & References
  1. "The Domesday Book", ed. Dr Ann Williams, Prof G. H. Martin, Penguin Classics, 1992
  2. "Sempringham and St Gilbert and the Gilbertines", Eric W. Iredale, 1992
  3. "Debrett's Peerage of England, Scotland, and Ireland" By John Debrett, 1820 (see Google Books)
  4. Communications with John Hallum
  5. Communications with Tim Powys-Lybbe
  6. Communications with Leo van de Plas
  7. "Burke's Peerage and Baronetage", 1999
  8. British History Online
  9. "A History of Europe During the Middle Ages" By Samuel Astley Dunham, p241 (see Google Books)
  10. "Domesday Names", "Domesday People" and "Domesday Descendants" by Dr. Katharine S. B. Keats-Rohan (Prosopographical Research Unit, University of Oxford