Court Rolls

Houghton cum Castleford No 1 

Castleford All Saints Church


NEW!   OTLEY COURT ROLLS  Please note that this a new feature and will be added to.

 To find out more about Manorial Records pleas visit:

Page 1 Page 2  Home

 Click on image to enlarge. Hover over photo's for a description

These transcriptions are in the original spelling format and some of the spellings and grammar may differ from that of modern times.

Castleford All Saints

The Houghton Cum Castleford Court Rolls are quiet a large collection of documents and are very extensive

They deal with various happenings in the area and in particular the mention of Lindley is quiet well recorded and shows that they were a land owning family. They held various positions of importance in the area ranging from Constables, Church Wardens and served as Jury men at the various Courts  It also shows how the family gradually sold off land as time went by and became farmers.

This page shows the transcription of  Court Rolls of Houghton Cum Castleford from the late 1500's to the late 1700's. My thanks to Peter Franklin who visited Leeds archives on my behalf, and who is an expert on the Medieval period and the transcription of those type documents These records were transcribed from the original Court Rolls;

Houghton cum Castleford Court Rolls No 1

I set out (1) to read through the court rolls in search of Lindleys and Thomlinsons, in order to establish at what dates they appear in those records and to start recovering information about them, and (2) to collect references to other records which you might find useful in your researches.

(1) Houghton with Castleford Court Rolls.

I began with the largest and earliest collection of court rolls listed in the Leeds catalogue (ref. DB 29/165), in order to try to establish if Lindleys and Thomlinsons were present and at what dates they began to appear. The 1567-1599 court rolls form a substantial bundle with quite lengthy accounts of each session of the manor court, written almost entirely in Latin. The state of preservation is very good. Large numbers of names appear, including lists of the people who were bound to attend the court (who "owed suit of court"), lists of jurors, and substantial numbers of people being fined for petty offences. I searched for more than an hour without any positive result, until I found the earliest reference to "Robert Linlay", who was fined 4d for a petty offence at the court session of 4 November 14 Elizabeth I (1572). I read on up to 1579 without finding any more references to Lindleys, or any at all to Thomlinsons, but then looked at the last rolls in the bundle (1599) in which two Lindleys and a Thomlinson appear - "Robert Lynley" (possibly the same man as in 1572) as a manor court juror and "Richard Lyndley" as one of two men appointed to arbitrate in a local dispute (his fellow arbitrator was "Roger Shillitoe, gentleman", one of a family which appears frequently in these records). There is no further information given about the status or relationships of these two Lindleys, but both references show them as people of local importance, involved with the working of the manor. "Richard Thomlinson" appears when paying 4d fine for a minor offence.

(These court rolls, incidentally, show clear signs that the old system of "open-field" agriculture, usually associated more with the Midlands and South than with the North of England, was in use in Houghton with Castleford. Local people still held substantial pieces of land in the form of the ancient units called "bovates".)

Map of Castleford

I moved on to the later court rolls. As you know from the photocopied list, there is hardly any surviving material from the 1620s, 1630s and 1640s, which is a great shame. I looked at the 1622 court roll (DB 29/166): this is in very poor condition, but I was able to find "Robert Lynley" serving as a juror at the court session held 5 June 20 James I (1622).
I then started to work back through the "draft court rolls". (These are notes made during, or just after, the sitting of the court: they were then used to write up the court rolls such as DB 29/166, which are the fair copies intended to be preserved as a record. Draft rolls do not usually survive.) I am happy to report that there are many references to Lindleys in these: at the court session of 30 September 11 James I (1613), for example, Richard, Robert and William "Linley" were all jurors, and William was elected to serve as constable of Houghton for the following year. He and Robert were fined for minor offences at that same court, and they were also involved in land transactions: in one case they appear to have acted just on behalf of other tenants, in a second case Ralph Hyll and his wife Mary give up half an acre in "le Moorefeilde" which "William Lindley" takes up and then appears to grant to "Richard Lindley" for the term of three years. A memorandum in these draft rolls, dated 16 December 1615, notes that "William Lindley" was acting as executor of the will of "Isabel Shillito".

To sum up: there are no references to Lindleys in the court rolls before 1572, but by 1599 they are present there as people of local importance, holding offices and acting as arbitrators. There are frequent references to them in the reign of James I. So far, however, I have not found any evidence of the family links between them, or of how much land they held. The only reference I have found to a Thomlinson is that to "Richard Thomlinson" mentioned above.

(2) References to Other Records.

Besides the Bland family's records listed under DB29, there are other papers of theirs at Leeds under the references DB47, DB67, DB128 and DB212. These are very mixed bags of material: much is from other parts of Yorkshire, and much of what there is from Houghton with Castleford is post-1760 or even post-1800. But a few things might be of interest: there is a list of Houghton with Castleford inhabitants "showing which has land", which is listed just as being "C18", and some copies of extracts from court rolls dated 1650 and 1655.

Kippax St Mary
I hope that you find these results interesting. My major finding is that the Lindleys come into the Houghton with Castleford court rolls some time late in the sixteenth century, there being only an isolated reference to one of them in the early 1570s. By the end of the century, and in James I's time, they are clearly people of local importance, holding offices and acting as arbitrators and executors of wills. There is, alas, virtually no evidence for the Thomlinsons.

Turning to your letter, Richard Lindley who married Jane Thomlinson perhaps c.1650 would have born somewhere about the time that Richard, Robert and William "Linley" were serving as jurors: perhaps one of them was his father and he was named after the earlier Richard. (Do bear in mind that if the Richard who was buried in 1688 was born c.1613 and was married c.1650 that would mean that he was well over 30 at the time of the marriage. The C17 had the highest average ages at first marriage that we know about, but if Richard was well over thirty I would suggest that this may well have been a second marriage.)

Could the Robert who was active in 1613 have been the Robert Lindley of Castleford whose will of 1648 you mention? If that is possible, then are the 1613 Richard and William his brothers?

Robert Lindley active in 1599 (and perhaps the 1572 Robert) may be the man of that name whom you mention who married Ellen Shiletto. I've mentioned a couple of links found with the Shillitoes above.

(A small point, you mention finding an "Abrose?" born 1659: there were some odd names in use in the C17, but I suspect that this is "Ambrose" and that the writer has missed out the "m". Medieval scribes commonly missed out "m", "n" and "u", but had a regular practice of indicating by marks that they had abbreviated a word. The practice survived into later centuries, but the abbreviation marks were often dropped.)

In my next visit to Leeds I the hopeful of finding evidence of the family relationships between the Lindley men mentioned above, any references to the women of the family, and any references to land which they held. It may well be that taking up some piece of land between the late 1570s and late 1590s led to them becoming important people within the manor, and thus to their appearing as jurors, etc., by the year 1600. A record of this kind would also be the most likely to produce evidence for relationships within the family and for women, who might well be mentioned as wives and widowed mothers, for example. If such a record could be found for James II's time, then it might be possible to discover the relationship between the Lindley men active then. Of course, it is largely a matter of chance, and it may be that further searching would only produce lists of Lindleys serving as jurors and being fined for petty offences, and it is unlikely that much will be found about the Thomlinsons.


I set out to read through the remainder of the Draft Court Rolls of James I's time in search of more evidence for the Lindleys and Thomlinsons, particularly for evidence of relationships and any references which would identify the father of the Richard Lindley who died in 1688.

Houghton with Castleford Court Rolls.

Typical Yeomans House of the 1600'sI began to read through these on my first visit to Leeds, as reported in my last letter. Three bundles of draft court rolls of James I's time survive (DB 29/172, /173, /174) and - in contrast to the isolated court roll of 1622 mentioned last time - their condition is very good. The volume of material surviving is quite substantial, as the list which you have indicates, and I am happy to report that I was able to finish reading through the whole set.

Typical Yeoman's House of the 1600's

As before, there are many incidental references to Lindleys, including references to them serving as local officials (especially as manor-court jurors) and committing the minor offences which were part of the bread-and-butter of manor court business. Novel features of these rolls are occasional lists of the names of Houghton-with-Castleford tenants. The first is attached at the start of the 1608-1613 bundle of court rolls (DB 29/173): it is not dated, but the handwriting and names are right for this period. About 60 names appear, some having been struck through. Richard "Linley" and Robert "Linley" are down as free tenants and William, Henry and Richard "Linley" are among the copyhold tenants. Unfortunately there is nothing to indicate how much land any of these tenants held. The reverse of the same sheet gives lists of people, presumably all tenants of the manor, who are living in Castleford and in Houghton. The Castleford residents include Richard "Lynley" and Robert "Linley"; there are no Lindleys in the Houghton list, but Richard Thomlinson appears there and some Shillitoes.

The purpose for which these lists were made is not clear. Traditional-style surveys of the manor ("extents" or "terriers") would have stated the amounts of land each tenant held or the sums of rent they owed, and these give neither. They may have been produced to show who had the duty to attend the manor court, but this is not stated. It is not clear whether the lists are complete, or why there is nothing to say where William, Henry and Richard "Linley" lived.

More lists of these kinds are included in the court roll of 26 October 6 & 42 James I (1608), where Robert and Richard are again amongst the free tenants and William, Henry and Richard among the copyholders. The Castleford residents again include Richard and Robert "Linley", and, again, there are no Lindleys in the Houghton list. This roll also contains a passing reference to "Richard Lynley of Castleforde".

I have found two references to relationships within the family. At the court of 20 September 6 & 42 James I (1608), Richard "Lynley", his wife "Jenetta" and their son William "Lynley", who is to succeed them, take up a collection of pieces of land: a close called "le Redhill Close" containing about 1.5 acres in "le Highfeilda", which borders Francis Shillitoe's land, and two selions of land in "le Mearefeild" containing half an acre, and one rood of land called "le Longgeroode" with herbage for 3 beasts in Houghton Carr and with meadow in Houghton, and a bovate of arable land in Castleforde. The bovate (and perhaps the other lands, though this is not made clear) had formerly been held by Edward Gylslande.

The bovate of arable land is a substantial piece of land which will require the family's attention (unless they have acquired it to rent out to someone). As it lies in Castleford this Richard may well be the same person as "Richard Lynley of Castleforde". The question is whether this and the other small pieces of land in Houghton have been acquired to add to the general family stock and will, in the course of time, be inherited by William as elder or only son, or whether the land has been acquired in order to make provision for William as a younger son. The court rolls say only that he was Richard and Jenette's son, not that he was their "son and heir", or whether they had any other sons. A few years later, William "Lynley" appears at the court of 14 October 9 & 45 James I (1611), when he takes up some pasture and woodland bought of John Nelson of Houghton.

Some minor points: "Jenetta" is the Latin form used in the court rolls, so presumably the English is "Jenette" or similar. The "selions" of land are the thin strips found in open-field cultivation, and the "bovate" is the old unit of arable land - probably large enough to support a family but not in any luxury. Incidentally, the court roll of 1 April 5 James I (1607) contains a fine collection of bye-laws in English. Most of them are aimed at regulating open-field agriculture, as is usual, but they also contain a reference to "the mayster of the Colepitts".

The second piece of evidence for relationships comes from the court roll of 26 October 6 & 42 James I (1608), where an old land case from Elizabeth I's time is mentioned, revealing that Robert "Lynley" who is now active (i.e. in 1608) is the son of a Richard "Lynley", who is the cousin of Richard Barghe. The writer could not think of a suitable Latin word for "cousin" and so has written "cozon". I suspect that, as in later times, this word may have been used in a very general way. The same roll has passing references (after this case) to "Richard Linlay the elder of Castleford", and to the Richard "Lynlay", his wife "Jenetta" and their son William mentioned above.

There are a few more references to the Thomlinsons than in the records which I first read for you, but the number is still very small indeed. Richard Thomlinson appears among the lists of those living in Houghton, mentioned above, and Thomas "Thomplinson" was chosen as a local official at the court of 15 April 13 & 49 James I (1615), but those are virtually the only references to that surname.

To sum up: the court rolls of James I's time contain plenty of references to members of the Lindley family, and, as before, they often occupy local positions of importance. The lists of tenants reveal that no fewer than five Lindley men held land of the Manor of Houghton-with-Castleford in 1608 (assuming that Richard the free tenant and Richard the copyholder were separate people). Evidence for family relationships is, alas, rather thin, but we have the fragments which reveal that a Richard was the husband of Jenette and that they had a son called William, and that Robert was the son of a Richard who was the "cousin" of Richard Barghe. I am sorry to say that I have found nothing at all to show who were the parents of the Richard Lindley who died in 1688.

But it does strike me that Robert Lynley of Castleford's brother William, who had died by 1646, could have been the William mentioned in 1608 as Richard and Jennette's son. As I said above, there is nothing in the 1608 land case to show that there were no further sons. Other Lindleys who were active in 1608 may also have been sons of this couple, though that might risk making things too simple.

I have read through all the Protestation Lists of 1642 of which you sent me copies. During the build-up to the Civil War many thousands of people agreed to this "petition" telling Charles I that rulers erred in believing that they could do what they wished with their kingdoms, "as if their kingdoms were for them, and not they for their kingdoms". I don't know what proportion of the inhabitants of a place would appear in this kind of list: two members of my society have recently produced a book on late C17 listings (Hearth Tax, Poll Tax of Charles II's time, etc.) but that is rather too late for Protestation Lists. If you like, I can write and ask if they have any information on this. Only men's names appear in these Yorkshire lists, but a few of the lists do include small numbers of names of people who would not agree with the Protestation. (The best one comes from the foot of the last column of sheet 3 b, where it states that William Pasley, a Roman Catholic, had "wilfully refused" to agree to agree to it, and had stated "that before he take it he will loose his life".)

I have marked all Lindleys, Thomlinsons and Shillitoes on the photocopied sheets, by putting a small pencilled triangle to the right of each name. I have also printed them out separately on the accompanying sheets. Altogether there are 40 bearers of these surnames listed, namely 19 Lindleys, 5 Thomlinsons and 16 Shillitoes. The nineteen Lindleys comprise;-

Edward x 1
James x 2
John x 3
George x 1
Godfrey x 2
Joseph x 1
Richard x 2
Robert x 1
Thomas x 2
William x 4

The major question is whether all of these men are likely to be members of different branches of your family, or whether there may have been a number of Lindley families connected only by the fact that they had once lived at Lindley and had taken the place-name as their surname. It is certainly very useful to know that there were so many adult male Lindleys active in this area at this particular time (and we must bear in mind that there may have been more who were not listed).

Here is my initial attempt to link up this information with that of the Methley Parish Registers and Robert Linley of Castleford's Will of 1647, which you kindly sent me.
You will see that only two Lindleys (one Richard and one William) are listed under Methley parish in 1642. This information fits pretty well with the extracts from the Methley parish registers. It should be safe to assume that the William in the Protestation List is the same William whose children's baptisms and burials were recorded between 1619 and 1642, whose wife Ann was buried in 1657, and who was himself buried in 1658. (I don't see any reason why this shouldn't be William the son of Francis who was baptised in 1591.)

The parish register entries for Richard are a little less straightforward. The easiest solution would be that the Richard in the List was the father of the children baptised and buried between 1622 and 1631, and was himself buried in 1643, and that the Richards who married at Barnsley and Mirfield in 1640 and 1642 were different people. If this is true, then the Richard in the List could have been the one baptised in 1593, which would make him William's younger brother.

The Richard who married at Mirfield is surely the Richard Lindley listed under that place in 1642.

As you know, Robert Linley of Castleford's will mentions his nephews Thomas and John. There are two Thomas Lindleys and four John Lindleys in the 1642 Lists, as mentioned above, but a Thomas and a John can only be found together at "Cartuorth" (Cartnorth?) in Kirkburton Parish. This is also the only place where a Robert is listed. Does this make sense? I don't have a map of historic South Yorkshire parishes here, but my atlas shows that Kirkburton is quite a distance from Castleford. Could they have been the same people? I know that many North of England parishes used to be enormous (e.g. the parish of Whalley used to cover almost the whole of North-East Lancashire). If you have a map of parishes which would photocopy, it would be very useful for me if you could send a copy.

I confirm that it is Thomas Linley's name which appears on the A4-sized page of names from Pontefract in different handwritings which you also sent. Like those whose names appear above his, Thomas has written one letter ("T") and a clerk has then written his name in full, so that it reads "Thomas T Linley". The neat "T" leaves little doubt that Thomas could have written his name without difficulty. There are many reasons why a literate person would have written only one letter or just made a mark: Thomas and his neighbours may have done it for the sake of speed as there was a clerk there and there were many names to record, but the different styles, especially in the second column, show that many of the names are actual signatures. Look how John Creswell, half way down the second column, has taken the opportunity to show off his penmanship! (The word written between each name is "adhuc", the Latin for "also".)
In short, there are plenty of Lindley men in the 1642 Protestation Lists, and also a good many Shillitoes (though few Thomlinsons). Comparison with the evidence from Methley Parish Registers suggests that the different kinds of record can be linked up in a straightforward way. I would be most grateful if you could send me a copy of a map of the area's old parish boundaries, so that I can get a better idea of where many of the places are and (for example) tell whether my suggestion above that Richard Linley and his nephews are the three Lindleys who appear in one particular List is feasible or not.

Protestation Lists of 1642

The lists are variously dated 27 February, 28 February or 7 March "1641" Old Style, so by modern reckoning the year was 1642.

The original sheets are clearly very large, and your photocopies cover them in two or three parts. For ease of reference, I have numbered the photocopies on the rear - e.g. 176 a & b, 179 a, b & c.

The two A4-sized copies headed "Methley" are duplicates of parts of sheets 190 c and 191 a.

Where photocopies overlap, I have usually marked each name only once.

Sheet number Parish, township Name
or chapelry

3 b, col.2 Dewseburie Towneshipp Alverey Tomlinson
with the rest of the
parish (of Wakefield)

176 a, col.5 Wakfilde Kirkgate William Tomlinson

177 a, col.3 Stanley within the William Shalletie
parish of Wakefield George Shelitoe

177 a, col.4 ditto Edward Linley

177 a, col.5 Alverthorpe within Thomas Linley
the parish of

177 b, col.5 Thornes within the Hugh Shilletoe
parish of Wakefield

179 a, col.2 Warmefield within Francis Shilletoe
the parish of Kirke

179 a, col.5 Whitwood within the William Shelitoe
parish of Fetherston

179 b, col.1 Warmefield within Thomas Shilletoe
the parish of Kirke William Shilletoe
Thorpe John Shilletoe senior
John Shilleto junior

179 b, col.3 Ardslaw East parish James Shelitoe

179 b, col.5 Batley parish William Tomlinson

179 b, col.2 Ardslaw East parish William Lindley

179 b, col.5 Batley parish Thomas Tomlinson

185 a, col.4 Towneshipp of Hugh Shillitoe
Crigglestone in the
parish of Sandall

185 b, col.3 Towne & towneshipp John Shillitoe
of Sandall

187 a, col.1 Rothwell Haighe William Linley
in the parish of

187 a, col.2 Towneshipp of James Lindley senior
Carleton in the James Lindley junior
parish of Rothwell

189 a, col.3 Hamblett of Hepworth John Lindley
in the parish of George Lindley
Kirkburtton Joseph Lindley
189 a, col.4 Hamblett of Falstone John Lindley
in the parish of Kirkburtton
9 b, col.1 Towneshipp of Thomas Lindley
?Cartuorth in the
parishe of

189 b, col.2 Hamblett of Woodall Robert Tomlinson
in the parishe of

189 b, col.3 Hamblett of Hepworth Godfrey Lyndley
in the parish of Robert Lyndley

189 c, col.1 Towneshipp of John Lindley
?Cartuorth in the
parishe of

189 c, col.3 Hamblett of Hepworth Godfray Linley
in the parish of

190 a, col.5 Towne & parishe of Richard Lindley
Mirffeilde William Lindley

190 c, col.5 Parishe of Methley Richard Lindley

191 a, col.1 Ditto William Lindley

191 a, col.3 Towneshipp of James Shillitoe
Alltofts in the Thomas Shillitoe
parishe of Normanton Francis Shillitoe

191 c, col.2 Ditto Lawrence Shillitoe

N.B. Descriptions of places and spellings of place-names and personal names are all as in the original document.

" Alverey", which is quite unusual, is a form of Alfred. There is also an Alveray [sic] Pickard in col.4 of the same sheet.

I have received the maps of Yorkshire parishes which you sent, for which many thanks. The Robert, Thomas and John Lindley listed in Kirkburton in 1642 clearly cannot be the Robert whose will you have seen and his two nephews: it is just chance that three popular names came up together.

Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls 1657-1684

During my visit to Leeds I pressed on with the post-1657 Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls. I was able to complete all of the first set, covering 1657-1684 (ref. DB 29/167). As the catalogue notes, these are in a poor state: much repair work has been done on them and there is a good deal of staining. They are a collection of parchment rolls of unusually-large format, about 15" by 36", and have not been sewn together at the top, as was the usual practice. They are not manor court rolls in the proper sense, but summaries or abstracts of cases relating to copyhold land and drawn up during (or perhaps a little after) this period: none of the other very varied business of the manor court appears at all.

The number of Lindleys who appear is very small, but these records do throw some light on the people you mentioned in your letter of 30 November 1992. "Richard Lindley of ("de") Houghton" makes no fewer than 14 appearances in these rolls, from 1667 onwards, and there are also a handful of appearances by plain "Richard Lindley". They could be the same person, as all but one of the references to "Richard Lindley" concern land in Houghton. The exception is the first, dated 26 November 1661, when he gives up two closes of pasture called "Kottercloses", containing 3 acres 1 rood in Castleforth (the old spelling), and 2.5 acres of arable in the field of Castleforth called Roundhill field, and 2.5 acres in the west field of Castleforth.

Those details show the scale of the transactions involved, and they all look like straightforward sales of copyhold land, which have been entered on the manor court rolls in the rather formal way prescribed at this time - the land being "surrendered into the lord's hand to the use of" the person who is its buyer.

Richard Lindley of Houghton's wife is named several times as Jane [Latin "Jana"], surely the Jane nee Thomlinson you mentioned. No other relationships are given in this period, but a John Lindley of Houghton appears in 1668: there must be a high probability that this is the man of that name whom you mentioned as having married in 1663.

Every reference to a Lindley which I can find in these documents refers to the family selling small parcels of land and not one to them buying any. In the later medieval period (say fourteenth and fifteenth centuries) historians have interpreted records of this kind as evidence of families being in economic difficulties, but things are more complicated by the late seventeenth century. It is noticeable also that the Shillitoes, of whom a number appear (including "John Shillitoe of Castleford, yeoman" in 1668), were following a similar pattern. It may be that these families were running down their properties in Houghton in order to concentrate on land elsewhere, or they may just have been getting out of copyhold land in order to concentrate on free land. The early seventeenth-century court rolls which I read for you listed a number of family members as tenants of free land: if their descendants were taking up more at this period these extracts from the court roll would not record it.

As a matter of interest, by this period a number of local families had stopped coming to the manor court in person to register sales and purchases of land. The Lindleys and Shillitoes were among those which got other local people to actually attend court and register the transactions on their behalf. Those who performed this service for them look like other local tenants rather than lawyers or other "outsiders".

Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls 1686-1698

I had time to make some progress with the next set of court rolls. These are listed in the catalogue (the page of which you sent me the photocopy) as "Court Roll 169(4?)-98" (ref. DB 29/168), but they begin a good eight years earlier and the dating is quite clear! They are also "real" court rolls again and contain the full range of manor court business complete with many petty offences, like the earliest ones which survive.


I was able to read as far as October 1688, and pick up confirmation of the death of Richard Lindley of Houghton there. You told me in November that you had found evidence of him being buried then aged 75. His death is recorded in the court rolls, as one would hope to find in a good series. The court of 18 April 1688 provides a brief record of death, and mentions that he held 5 roods of arable in "le ParkField" [sic] at Houghton, and that John Lindley was his son and heir.

The next court, held 24 October 1688, gets on with the division of his house and land. His widow Jane is to have a parlour which is in the west part of the house and the chamber ("cubiculum") over it. She is to have one third of the messuage (or one third of its annual profit), the use of the orchard, garden and curtillage (the scribe has translated the last term into C17 English as "Foldstead"), and also the buildings next to them. Details are given of the many small pieces of land which she is to have for her support, and she is formally admitted as a tenant.

At this point, as the next piece of business recorded at the very same court session, it is stated that "Richard Lindley of Houghton, yeoman" is giving up his holding in Houghton, with a garden, orchard and curtillage "to the use of" his sons John and Richard Lindley, and that they are also to receive 40 from him on 18 May next. The entry reads as though the elder Richard were still alive, but surely this is a record of what had happened to the bulk of the dead man's property, and I would presume that the 40 payments to his sons are bequests from his will. Does this interpretation fit with what you know of the Richard who died in the 1680s and his family? (Your November letter does not say if his will has survived.) I am wondering if this entry was made in the court roll to cover a situation in which old Richard had effectively retired, being in his seventies, but had died without formally handing over his land to his sons.

I was disappointed not to get a better idea of the size of Richard's holdings of land from this source, but at least there is the description of him as "yeoman" which confirms him as a person of local standing.

To sum up, it is unfortunate that court records which cover a period of nearly thirty years up to 1684 only give names of those involved in land transactions, but there are many appearances by the Richard Lindley of Houghton whom you told me about in your November letter, some involving his wife Jane. Richard's sales of copyhold land need explanation. They may mean that he was anxious to avoid holding by this tenure, or perhaps anxious to sell land in Houghton (to buy elsewhere?). They are probably not linked to his reaching old age, as he could easily have passed the land on to his sons. The next court rolls are more informative and record Richard's death in 1688, showing that his wife Jane survived him, that detailed provision was made for her, and that his son John was his heir. If I have interpreted the entry which follows that correctly, then old Richard was clearly described as a "yeoman" and he died also leaving a second son, again called Richard.

I did not have time to make enquiries about other sources, but have written to ask the Archivist about Methley manorial records, manors in the Lindley area and possible Constable's records. Constable's Accounts should certainly have been drawn up at the time, but whether they have survived is, of course, another matter! I have also written to Kevin Schurer, who edited the new book on late C17 sources which I mentioned to you, to ask about the coverage of the 1642 Protestation Lists. It would be very useful to know if there is any information on what proportion of the adult male population they cover. I will let you know what I can find out.


I undertook three tasks there: (1) to get full details of the division of Richard Lindley's property recorded in the Houghton with Castleford manor court roll of 24 October 1688; (2) to continue reading through the late C17 and early C18 Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls; and (3) to get information on the earliest surviving records from Methley Manor.

The division of Richard Lindley's property.

I gave a brief summary of this in my January letter, and you asked for more details in your reply, so I have made a translation of the two relevant entries. Both are taken from the manor court roll of 24 October 1688, as previously stated, and the second immediately follows the first there. Both entries are in Latin, with a few words [which I've put into italics] translated into English by the clerk of the court. Square brackets enclose editorial notes, and also material which is not placed regularly within the original text [such as words in margins and words added between lines].

The final date confirms that this is a record of an arrangement made some time before, so there is no problem in this elder Richard being the man who has just died.

Now, as regards the family holdings of the Lindleys and their neighbours, I have said before that it is very frustrating that these court records do not give details of their sizes. This is quite unlike my own experience of court rolls from the Midlands. I now think that there may be a local reason for this. In parts of North East Lancashire it was the custom at the end of the Middle Ages (and later) to describe people's holdings of land as "bovates". This is confusing because in much of the Midlands and South the very same word was used to mean a specific area of land, which was often 15-20 acres but which varied from place to place. In my part of Lancashire, however, the word "bovate" was simply used to mean a holding, and conveyed no information about its size. So local records show many people having bovates, and when detailed evidence does survive, it shows that the bovates were far from being equal. One man's might be much larger than his neighbour's, but they are both known by the same name and their actual sizes are rarely recorded.

I now suspect that something similar was happening in Houghton with Castleford, but that people there were using the word "messuage" - which in most areas means just the small piece of land on which the house and farm buildings stand - to mean a family holding of whatever size. This would explain why even the more detailed descriptions of holdings, such as that of Richard Lindley the elder's land given above, talk about the "messuage" and then only about a few other odd pieces of land. The latter have presumably been added to the family's land by marriage or purchase, etc., and are not counted as part of the "messuage". I think that the occasional use of the phrase "one messuage or holding" (Latin: "unum messuagium sive tenementum") supports this view. So, I think, does the record of Elizabeth Shillito's death in a 1690 court roll which only says that she held a messuage.

Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls, 1686-1698

(cont'd) and 1699-1711

I then continued reading through the DB 29/168 court rolls, which I described in my January letter. Richard Lindley continued to appear in numbers of minor cases: for example, at the court of 2 May 1689 he was fined 4d for not repairing his fence between "le Mear Field" and "le Mear Ingg". More seriously, he was fined 1s. at the same court because he "made an affray and drew the blood of Charles Lapidge". A court roll entry which probably dates to 13 October 1690 (part of the court roll is damaged and it may be a slightly later date), reveals that Richard has a close called "Flask Close". No Lindleys appear in the lists of those fined for default of court, i.e. for not coming to sittings of the court, at this period, so they must have attended these sessions regularly, but no member of the family was sitting on the manor court jury at this time.

Have you come across Lindleys in Leeds during your own researches? "John Lindley of Leeds" is mentioned at a manor court held early in 1692 (the top of the roll is damaged and the exact date cannot be read). John is mentioned as the former tenant of a house in Houghton in which he gave up all his rights according to a deed dated 29 December 1669 (the year is damaged, but "1669" is the most likely reading). This is stated to be the house in which Jane Lindley now lives, and the property includes her curtilage, garden, orchard and "lands". The whole property was given up by John to the use of Richard Lindley of Houghton and his heirs, and John's wife Hannah consented to this. It is not stated how John and Hannah were related to the rest of the family. Richard Lindley now comes and is admitted to this property. (There is nothing to say how this has altered Jane's position.)

Richard Lindley was in trouble at the 4 May 1693 court for assaulting the lord's steward. The roll says that Richard "male se gessit erga seneschallo", which literally means that "he wickedly threw himself against the steward". The phrasing is a bit awkward (I don't think the clerk of the court was used to recording this sort of thing!) but it must mean some kind of physical assault. Why he assaulted him is not stated. Richard was fined - probably 10s, but the roll is faded. This is an uncommon offence bringing a substantial fine.
Richard appeared at the 3 June 1695 along with John Shilitoe, when they were both described as customary tenants of the manor and acted together to give up land on behalf on John Nelson.

The next set of court rolls, DB 29/169 covering the years 1699-1711, only deal with land transactions rather than with full court business. Their condition is very variable, some being stained and the handwriting faint. The overall amount of information in them is rather disappointing, but they do show Richard Lindley and John Gawthorpe renting 12 acres of arable land from William Sagar of Catlow and his wife Margaret at the 17 October 1709 court, apparently in some kind of partnership. The Sagars were to remain the tenants of Sir John Bland, the lord of the manor, and Richard and John were to be their subtenants.

A curious record from the same court notes that Richard Lindley of Houghton, his wife Elizabeth and his mother Jane had been "secretly examined" on 10 May 1709 by William Fleeming, the steward of the manor, about the giving up of some property lying beside the king's highway in Houghton. Peter Malding and William Thorpe had given it up and James (or Jacob) Holland and his wife Mary now entered it as tenants. The Lindleys were not said to have ever held this property themselves, but I presume that they were examined as well-informed local people who would know just what had gone on.
Besides these entries, the 1699-1711 court rolls contain only a couple of minor appearances by Richard Lindley.

The earliest surviving records from Methley Manor.

I got a reply to my letter to the Leeds archivist a few weeks ago. He confirmed that a variety of Methley Manor documents dating from 1339 to 1935 are at Leeds, and offered to supply a photocopy of the twenty pages of relevant catalogue entries for 7-10. As I didn't think you wanted details of the later material, I waited until I could go to Leeds myself, and then got the staff there to make a photocopy of the five pages of their catalogue which cover the manor court records. (I made a second copy of this later: the original is enclosed for your own information, and I have kept the second copy for future use).

You will see that the number of court records surviving is substantial. I have examined the earliest ones: they are generally in good condition, with only occasional damaged or faded passages. These earliest court sessions were being held by the Archdeacon of Richmond in his capacity as Master of the Hospital of Methley. (I am not yet clear about who is the lord of the manor, but this is just my ignorance of the area!) The court is sitting sometimes at Methley, sometimes at Houghton and sometimes at Castleford, and its records are "full" court rolls reporting a wide range of business, though they do not provide lists of jurors or suitors. "Roger de Lindeley" appears at one of the earliest courts - held on "Tuesday after the feast of St Nicholas, 13 Edward III", which was 7 December 1339 - when he did not proceed with a case he was bringing against one Walter de Carleton.

The other Methley records are likely to be less useful, but I list here the brief details I noted at Leeds:

1. Manorial Accounts. Survive from 1373-1464 but with many gaps. The catalogue lists the main officials of the manor, but no Lindleys are included in these.

2. "Surrenders, etc." Records of pieces of land given up, 1625-1834.

3. Call Books. 1782-1832 only.

4. Church Records. Accounts of church income in fifteenth century. (Not a source I'm familiar with, but it may be worth glancing through to see if local people are named.)

5. Miscellaneous. Includes extracts of court rolls from Edward III's time onwards, made in the late C16.

To sum up, the document concerning Richard Lindley the elder's transfer of land to his two sons can now clearly be seen to date from a few years before his death, so there is no problem. The lack of references to Lindleys taking part in the running of manor and court by acting as manor court jurors, parish constables, etc., may mean nothing by itself (I've found examples in other areas of well-off local people who didn't take up their opportunities to play a part in running local affairs in this way), but Richard's assault on the lord's steward suggests that his relations with the manor authorities were bad. No specific reason for the incident was recorded. I have seen occasional cases of this kind in my own research, and to me they suggest wealthy members of the local community who were chaffing against the lord of the manor's authority.

The precursor of the family in Houghton, who had held at least part of their land there and then given it up to the use of Richard and his heirs, turns out to have been "John Lindley of Leeds". He looks like a Houghton man who has migrated to Leeds, though this is not actually stated. Unfortunately his place in the family is not stated: we are only told that his wife was called Hannah.

Lindleys do certainly occur in the earliest surviving Methley manorial records.

Shall I continue with the later Houghton with Castleford court records? I haven't looked at 1713-1719 court rolls yet, nor at the court books of 1714-1732, 1733-1749 or 1749-1782. The catalogue describes the last three as being "mostly jury lists and brief minutes", so there may well be little or nothing there on family relationships, but the occurrence of jurors' names might be of some use as a guide to which male family members were active in this area.

I will write to Kevin Schurer again to see if he can help with the question of the coverage of the 1642 Protestation Lists. It will only be pressure of work during term which has prevented him from writing before now.

Translation of Extracts from Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Roll, 24 October 1686

DB 29/168


"[Margin: "Division of the lands and holdings of Richard Lindley - to Jane Lindley, widow and relict."] Division of one messuage or holding of lands and holdings [sic] of Richard Lindley formerly of Houghton, who has died, situate, lying and existing within Houghton aforesaid, to Jane Lindley the widow and relict of the aforesaid Richard Lindley, for and in place of a third of the same, and for all messuages, lands and holdings with the appurtenances which pertain to them within Houghton aforesaid, of which the aforesaid Richard Lindley who has died was seised, with as many services and of what kinds as he owed from the same, according to the custom of the aforesaid manor, made and presented at this court by the aforesaid homage who divided [the holdings] and gave to Jane Lindley [property] as follows,

Namely one parlour (in English a parlour) and over the same a bedchamber in the west part of the aforesaid messuage, with the third part of the annual profit and the use of the orchard, garden and curtilage (in English a Fold Stead), and the buildings pertaining to the same and adjoining them.

And also the third part of one close or croft, the aforesaid third part lying on the east side of the aforesaid close or croft, next to Peter Malkin's croft on the east and abutting on Wightforth Lands on the north, and it is separated by four posts or stakes from the ends (in English Meer Stakes) on the west,
And also the third part of the messuage (in English of one Meas Stead), lying on the south side of the aforesaid croft and also two half acres (in English two halfe acres) of arable land also lying in le Mear field of Houghton, now in the tenure or occupation of Stephen Lake, John Taite's land lying on the east side and James [or Jacob] Waide's land on the west, abutting on the north side of the common way and on the south side of the Meer Ingg,

And also one portion of land (in English one dole) lying in le Meer Ingg abutting on the aforesaid acres on the north side and on Houghton Carr from the south side, with all ways, waters, easements, common rights and commons of pasture whatsoever appertaining to the aforesaid third part or belonging to it in any other way.
Whichpremisses,withthe abovesaid appurtenances, are to be adjudged the third part of the real estate of which the aforesaid Richard Lindley died seised within the former manor, and which the aforesaid Jane ought to have and to hold, according to the custom of the manor, for and during her natural life for the rents and services owed from it and by lawful custom.

And the aforesaid Jane Lindley came to this court and asked to be admitted as tenant to the aforesaid premisses with appurtenances as they were divided, which the lord granted to her by the steward of the aforesaid court, [she] having seisin and holding according to the custom of the aforesaid manor by customary right, [and] by the rents and services owed from it. [Added in a later hand: "And she gave the lord for fine, etc., and did fealty and was admitted as tenant to the same."]"

[Immediately following the above entry:]

"[Margin: "Richard Lindley"] To this court came Richard Lindley of Houghton, yeoman, by John Lake, one of the aforesaid customary tenants of the manor, and he was sworn before the steward of the aforesaid court.

And he rendered seisin into the hands of the lord of the aforesaid manor, according to the custom of the aforesaid manor, of all that his messuage or tenement in Houghton with all the buildings and structures [blank] pertaining to it, one garden, one orchard and curtillage (in English a Fold stead) with all and singular pertaining to the aforesaid premisses or in any manner belonging to them,

To the use and right of John Lindley and Richard Lindley the sons of [Margin: "to John and Richard Lindley"] the aforesaid Richard Lindley, and to [their] heirs and assigns forever, rendering and paying for the premisses to the lord of the aforesaid manor a rent of one penny [sic] and doing the suit and services which are owed from them by customary right,
Providing always and on condition that the aforesaid John and Richard Lindley, the sons of the same, well and faithfully pay or cause to be paid to the aforesaid Richard Lindley, or to the assigns of the same, the full and complete sum of 40 of lawful English money by or on 18 May next following,

Given 29 September 1687."


You will be interested to hear that I have finally got an answer to the query about what sort of coverage of the population the Protestation Returns of 1642 give. They are discussed in the introduction to Anne Whiteman, ed., The Compton Census of 1676, (Oxford, 1986). In brief, Whiteman found that they gave very good coverage of local populations - so much so that population figures calculated from them could be used as a check on the usefulness of other C17 sources. Not, of course, that they are perfect. Small numbers of people may have been omitted now and then, and names may be repeated because some people took the oath on more than one occasion, which is worth bearing in mind.

My contact in Cambridge has sent me a photocopy of the relevant few pages of Whiteman's introduction: let me know if you would like to see it, and I will send it on.

The extract from Whiteman is quite brief, but I hope you will find it interesting. I understand from my contact at the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure that this is used as the standard guide to the Returns as no full-scale study of them has been produced.

I went to the Leeds Archives on 16 December, and divided the time roughly equally between the eighteenth-century sources and the medieval ones, as you asked when we spoke on the 'phone in late October.

Houghton with Castleford manor court rolls, 1713-1719

These court rolls (DB29/170) are written in Latin on large - and rather dirty - parchment membranes which measure about 14 inches by 30 inches. They are the more limited kind of court roll which I have mentioned before, in that the range of court business recorded is restricted very largely to details of land transfers and deaths - jury lists and the mass of minor offences and other court business do not appear, so the number of people who appear in the rolls is very restricted.
John Bland is named as the lord of the manor, and William Fleeming is still his steward (or "general steward", as he is usually called). There are several references to members of the Shillito family, but none to Lindleys.

One of the Shillito references is of some interest with regard to the question of how these documents describe local families' holdings of land. A land case recorded at the 17 October 1719 court, involving Thomas Shillito and his son John, states that the family held "one cotland or holding" [Latin: "Unum Cottagium sive Tenementum"]. "Cotland" is another of those words, like bovate and messuage, which often has a very specific meaning in terms of numbers of acres, but here it seems to be being used just as a standard name for a holding. ("Cottagium" will also translate as "cottage", but in this extract it must mean a piece of ground and not a building.)

Houghton with Castleford manor court book, 1714-1732

This is the first of the surviving court books which, as you know, the catalogue describes as comprising "mostly jury lists and brief minutes". DB29/175 is a paper book slightly larger than A4 size, but not folio. The front cover has the official title, "Court Booke Castleford [sic], Ending 1732". It is not in a very clean condition (though a good deal better than the last court rolls!).

The book consists mainly of brief records for each court session held, giving its date - there are still two court sessions per year, one in spring and one in autumn - and (sometimes) the place where it was held, and naming the lord of the manor and his steward, the manor-court jurors, and other local officials. Brief notes of important cases are included for some court sessions: most of these relate to new tenants.

Richard Linley is named as one of the manor-court jurors at the 16 October 1721 court; William Lindley served as a juror at the courts of 20 October 1726 and 13 May 1728; John Linley was a juror at the 20 April 1730 court; Richard Linley at that of 3 May 1731. (The second, third and fifth courts were said to have been held at Castleford; no note was made of where the others were held.)

The record of the 13 October 1714 court shows that William Briggs and Richard Linley had been chosen as the "Bylaw men for Houghton". There are also two "Bylaw men" for Castleford, one of whom was James Shillito.
The record of the 20 April 1730 court states that, as well as serving as a juror, John Linley has been "sworn" and admitted as a tenant. The "swearing" must refer to the old oath of fealty to the lord of the manor, left over from the Middle Ages. No details are given of the land he held.

I have probably mentioned before that serving as a manor-court juror is usually a sign of considerable local importance, and also that the number of people on such a jury did not have to be twelve, but was often about a dozen. There was also a very old practice of swearing in about two dozen jurymen when there was a particularly important case to be determined. Houghton with Castleford juries of this date are interesting because they are of a set size - local custom has determined on having a jury of twelve "good men and true" plus the foreman of the jury, whose name appears at the head of each list. Thus thirteen has become the regular size.

Lindleys served on several juries, as noted above. None was named as the foreman of a jury, but there is a curious note after the 3 May 1731 list. Someone has written (in English), "Rich. Linley Fined for not appearing w(i)th the rest of his fellowes Jurors [sic] to deliver the verdict - 3s 4d". Though there is quite a gap since the 1693 assault on the Steward, this looks to me like another case of a wealthy local tenant disagreeing with the running of the court. The entry has been crossed out, perhaps indicating that the matter was settled amicably or allowed to drop.

I am not very well up in "Bylaw men". It was a common practice on many manors to appoint local people as officials charged with seeing that everyone brought in their harvest or kept their ditches or the sea wall in repair, or whatever, in accordance with the local byelaws and to report those who did not do so. It was often the practice to divide these responsibilities among several men, but here it seems to have been the practice to have just two men responsible for this in Houghton and another two in Castleford.

No Lindleys were recorded as holding the senior local office of reeve (here called the "grave"), but the court book often neglects to say who had been chosen to fill it. This looks odd in view of the importance of the post, but it may be simply that everyone knew who was holding it. John Shillito was chosen grave at the court of 26 October 1730. (An interesting point is that women were sometimes chosen to hold minor offices: on 18 October 1725, Elizabeth Martin was chosen to be the pindar of Houghton, and Anne Turner to be the pindar of Castleford.)

Besides containing the jury lists and occasional brief minutes of cases, the book also contains the texts of the oaths which the chief local officials took when entering their offices. These are unlikely to be preserved in any other source, and I thought you might like to have their texts;-

1) [Oath of the Grave or Reeve]
"Y(o)u shall swear that y(o)u will & faithfully [sic] execute the Office of a Grave for the year ensueing, and faithfully & truly collect the Coppyhold Rents issueing out of this Manor, And pay the same when required, So help etc.."
2) "Owth of a Bailiffe.
Y(o)u shall swear that y(o)u will well & truly Execute the Office of a Bailiff for the mannor of Houghton cu(m) Castleford, Y(o)u shall well & truly Collect all Rents, amerciaments[?] & other Annuall profits as shallbe Chargeable & issueing out unto y(o)u, And make a true Account thereof when required, And in every other thing appertaining to your Office shal & will well & truly discharge the same, So help y(o)u God."

Methley manor court rolls, 1339-1340 and 1340-1341

As I reported to you last spring, there is a considerable volume of surviving medieval material from this area, including the records of a court sitting sometimes at Methley, sometimes at Houghton and sometimes at Castleford. The records of this are "full" court rolls reporting a wide range of business, and I mentioned then that I had found a very early reference to one Roger de Lindeley.

I have now been able to read through the complete texts of the court rolls for 1339-1340 and 1340-1341 (MX/M6/1/1-2). As you know from the catalogue, these comprise nine parchment membranes altogether, but they are closely written in a small hand, and so progress was not very speedy.

I am sorry to say that in the surviving rolls for those years I could find only one further reference to add to the 7 December 1339 mention of Roger de Lindeley. It is probably closely connected with his bringing the case he was bringing against Walter de Carleton, for it records Walter being convicted of having "shed the blood" of "Roger de Lyndlay". Unfortunately the date of the court session is illegible (the roll at that point is faded and rubbed) but the case is written up on the other side of the membrane where the first case is recorded. Assaults of this kind were recorded at the spring or autumn sessions of manor courts, so the date should be either autumn 1339 or spring 1340. Details of this kind of offence are not, alas, given.

What are we to make of the almost complete absence of Lindleys from these very detailed court rolls? In my experience, there are three most likely explanations.

1) The family may have been living in the south Yorkshire
area but outside the area covered by the court's
jurisdiction. This would account very well for one
family member appearing in the records just in connection with a quarrel with a local man.

2) The family may have been poor at this time. Poor people always appear much more rarely than wealthy ones in medieval local records. If the family's rise to prosperity only really began after the Black Death, say, when people in many parts of the country had much greater opportunities to prosper, then this would provide an explanation.

3) The family may have been rich free peasants. Medieval court rolls contain far more information about families of villeins than about free families because the former were under the lord of the manor's authority to a much greater extent. The wealthiest families of free peasants sometimes ranked not very far below the gentry in social terms, and records of their activities in manorial court rolls are sometimes surprisingly thin. I came across a case of this when doing research on a Gloucestershire manor some years ago. Surveys of local landholding
showed that there was a family of rich free peasants
called Saltmarsh, but they appeared so rarely in the
court rolls that it was very hard to say whether they really lived on the estate or whether they lived elsewhere and had let their land to someone else.

The solution probably lies among these three, but it may not be possible to decide between them.

To sum up, the 1713-1719 court rolls are disappointing, but this is no great surprise as the range of information which they contain is very limited. The first of the court books contains a number of references to Lindleys, most of which relate to their service on the local manor court jury. The brief reference to a Richard Lindley dissenting from the proceedings of the court is of some interest, though the lack of details is to be regretted. Unfortunately the recording of local officials' names is very haphazard, but we can see at least one member of the family serving as one of the "Bylaw men", and now have the actual texts of the oaths which local officials were required to swear when taking up office.

The earliest medieval court rolls turn out to be a sad disappointment, and I have suggested the three most likely reasons why they should contain only the two fleeting references to family members.

Would you like me to continue working through the later eighteenth-century court books? In view of the results so far, I am rather hesitant to suggest much more work on the fourteenth-century sources, but I had a brief look through the 1349 court roll. This seems to cover the period of the Black Death, and there are many entries to land recorded at the court held on the Thursday after Michaelmas (= 1 October) 1349. This would probably be the best single source for spotting any medieval Lindleys.

Thank you also for mentioning the references to my Some Medieval Records. As I said at the time, authors are the last people to know when a book is going on the market! My first copies arrived here on 6 December (very appropriate, as it was the feast of St Nicholas!). The full price is 4-50, as you know, but if you would like one you can have it for 4-05, which is the price our Book Club will sell them for. And post free, to boot.

I went to the Leeds Archives yesterday on your behalf (and mighty cold it was too). As requested, I spent roughly half my time working on the eighteenth-century records and half on the medieval ones.

The Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Book, 1733-1749

As the dates suggest, this document carries straight on from the 1714-1732 Manor Court Book, which I reported on earlier. DB29/176 is again a paper book, a little larger than A4 size, but not folio. It is bound in a dark brown, tatty and dirty cover. The text itself is written in good, clear hands which are typical of the period. It is in a much better state than the cover, and there is hardly anything which is not clear and legible. The book has had hard usage though, and the last dozen or so pages are in danger of becoming detached from the spine.

This period sees the great changeover from the use of Latin for manorial records, which dates back to the earliest ones in existence, c.1240, to the use of English. The book's first entry is a brief account of the court held 21 October 1732 at Castleford, and this is the last entry in Latin. The next court was held on 16 April 1733 (venue not stated) and its record is the first one to be in English.
The contents of the book are very like those of its 1714-1732 predecessor. A brief record is provided for each of the court sessions held, giving the date, (sometimes) the place where the court was sitting, the names of the lord of the manor, his steward, the jury foreman and "ordinary" jurors, and other local officials when the latter were chosen. Brief summaries are provided of the most important cases: e.g., tenants' deaths are recorded, proclamations that heirs should come to take up vacant holdings, and oaths of fealty.

Sir John Bland, Baronet, is still the lord of the manor, with "William Fleming the younger, gentleman" his steward, but Bland has died by the mid-1740s when his widow Lady Frances succeeds him.
John Lindley served as a manor-court juror at the sitting of 16 April 1733 (the first one to be recorded in English), and again at the courts of 19 October 1737, 20 April 1741, 17 October 1743, 16 April 1744, 7 May 1747, and 17 October 1748. All these later sessions were said to have been held at Castleford.

He served as Constable of Castleford for the year following the court of 19 October 1741.
John also acted as an "affeeror" at the courts of 21 April 1746 and 20 October 1746, both held at Castleford. This is another manorial office left over from the Middle Ages: though the court was the lord's property and his steward presided over its sittings, fines were not assessed by them but by two "affeerors" chosen from local people. It is only a minor office, but one which required the trust of both the local community and the lord of the manor.

Lindleys make very few appearances in the brief notes of cases (there are none relating to the family's landed property, for example), but a note in the record of the court of 3 December 1744 is of interest. John Lindley is said to have produced the "Poor Assessm(en)t" for 1743, and we are told that there was an argument about the amount at which another man should be assessed. The Poor Law is really parish business rather than manor business: John is given no title, but was presumably acting as Overseer of the Poor, one of the responsible but unpaid jobs which substantial members of the local community undertook under the "Old Poor Law" system. I think it was J.D. Marshall who drew a distinction between this local management of the poor law by people who were members of the same community as those who needed relief, and who would often provide more help for neighbours in trouble than the law strictly required, and the new system of the 1830s which worked in a much harsher way enforced by "outsiders".
Richard Linley was also a manor-court juror, serving at the courts of 23 October 1734, 18 October 1736, 19 October 1737 (with John), 14 May 1739, 28 April 1740, and 19 October 1741.

At the court of 20 October 1735, Richard was chosen to be "Constable for Castleford" for the following year; one Edward Tasker was to be the "Constable for Houghton". Richard also served in the minor office of affeeror on 22 October 1739.

By this period, incidentally, the jury on this manor are sometimes called "The Inquisition". It sounds a bit fearsome, but is a straightforward translation of the common Latin word "inquisitio". ("The inquiry" would have done, though.) The pattern of having a foreman and (usually) twelve jurors continues from the earlier period, and it is occasionally stated that the jury is "Consisting of Copyholders". This is an interesting medieval survival. Medieval manor-court juries were often made up specifically of tenants of "villein" land; when villeinage decayed at the end of the Middle Ages, villein land often turned into copyhold land, so it was logical that the tenants of that land should form local juries. Page 42 of the Court Book gives a list of twenty free tenants, but no Lindleys appear.

There are signs that the authority of the manor was weakening and that some tenants resented the lord's power. At the very court at which Richard Linley was chosen as Constable, a juror called Anthony Dobson was fined 10s for "not attending his Fellow Jurors in order to make and sign the Verdict, to the great Delay of Business and in Contempt of the Authority of this Court" - an interesting piece of evidence: I have never come across a document of that kind made by manor-court jurors, and I wonder if any survive - and Tasker's predecessor as Houghton constable had not turned up at the court! At the court of 28 April 1740, one Thomas Hewitt refused "to attend with" his fellow jurors: he was fined the very large sum of 1 6s 0d, and his name was struck from the jurors' list and replaced by another. After a third incident, at the court of 21 April 1746, one John Almond was fined 10s "for indecent Behaviour [in] Court". No details were given...

No Lindley held the major local offices of grave or bailiff during this period. It may be that prominent local people were now anxious to avoid old-fashioned (and poorly-rewarded) posts of this kind. At the court of 16 October 1738, Robert Wiggin was chosen to be the grave in his absence and the court had to be re-convened the following 6 November so that he could come and be sworn in.

The oaths of Grave and Bailiff are given in this Court Book. Their texts are just as those in the earlier book, which I sent you in my last report, except that the Bailiff's oath includes the additional words, "y(o)u shall take, Notise & impound all Waives & strayes that shall be brought unto y(o)u", just before the words relating to rents. (The book also includes short oaths to be taken by administrators acting when the executors to a will are under age, and by administrators in normal circumstances.)

Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1347-1349

The Methley Manor Court Rolls of 1347 to 1349 (MX/M6/1/4 and MX/M6/1/5) are very like the earlier rolls reported on last time in both form and contents. The first set consists of ten membranes (sheets of parchment) and the second of only three. Each has Latin text written in a number of good hands. The condition of these records varies very greatly, from membranes which are beautifully preserved to some which are stained and faded and which contain some illegible passages. They are "full" court records, containing many kinds of court business including plenty of cases brought by local people pursuing their own disputes.

Map of Methley

They contain a good deal of interesting information. For example, at the court of 11 March 1349, a case reveals that at Castleford a "bovate" of land comprises about ten acres. The same court record names the malefactors and disturbers of the lord king's peace who wander about at night, who have been arrested and detained in gaol ("in prisona detineant'").

Altogether, these two sets of records contain the accounts of about twenty-five sittings of the local courts, but I am sorry to say that I cannot find a single reference to any members of the Lindley family. I thought that the best chance would come in the court roll of 24 September 1349. This clearly shows after-effects of the Black Death: there are no fewer than 43 legible cases of people taking up their family holdings and about 5 which cannot now be read, also a list of 7 further family holdings which remain "in the lord's hands" for want of new tenants, but there are no references to Lindleys. (This is the court roll I mentioned last time. I gave its date then as "Thursday after Michaelmas" which in 1349 was 1 October, but misread it as it is actually dated to the Thursday after the feast of St Matthew, which was 24 September.)

This is most disappointing. In my last report I put forward three possible reasons why your family do appear often in the Methley court records of this period. From what I have seen, I would rate the quality of these court rolls as very good, so it seems to me that the most likely explanation would be the first which I put forward there, namely that the family were living outside the area of the court's jurisdiction - it need only have been by a mile or two.
To sum up, the 1733-1749 Court Books are narrow in their scope, like those of the slightly earlier period, but they contain plenty of references to two members of the Lindley family, John and Richard, serving on manor-court juries and holding a number of other responsible offices. Unfortunately there is no evidence for the relationship between them.

I hope the negative findings from the medieval records are not too disappointing. Most likely they indicate that your family were living just outside the area of the court's jurisdiction: what can now seem like a technicality could make all the difference. There is nothing worse than getting hold of a good set of medieval documents and discovering that they contain everything except what you are looking for!

The Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Book, 1749-1782

This document carries straight on from the 1733-1749 Court Book which I reported on last time. DB29/177 is also a paper book, slightly larger than A4 size but smaller than folio. An eighteenth-century parchment "Indenture of agreement" has been folded double and used for a cover. This is none too clean and partly torn, but the book itself is in rather better condition than that for 1733-1749. I saw only one loose page, and all of the text is legible, written in good clear hands characteristic of the period. By this date the entries are, as you would expect, entirely in English.

The contents of the book are, again, very like those of 1714-1732 and 1733-1749. There is usually only a brief record for each of the court sessions held, giving the date, the place where the court was sitting, and the names of the lord of the manor, his steward, the jury foreman and the other jurors, and other local officials when the latter were chosen. Brief summaries are provided of important cases involving tenants' deaths, disputes over inheritances, proclamations that claimants should come to take up vacant holdings, and oaths of fealty.

At the start of the book, the lord of the manor is named as "Sir John Bland, Baronet": this must be the heir of the earlier Sir John who had died by the mid-1740s, as reported last time. The court of 27 October 1755 was described as being the first held for Sir Hungarford Bland, Baronet, and by 2 May 1757 he has been replaced by "Ann Bland and Elizabeth Bland, Spinsters, Ladies of the same manor". Ann was married by the spring of 1764 to one Thomas Davison who thereupon became the lord until the end of this period, when the last court recorded in this book (13 November 1782) was held for "the Reverend Sir William Lowther and Sir Richard Heron, Baronets". "William Fleming, gentleman" remained the steward throughout the period of the Blands and Davison, but was replaced as steward by John Clayton, gentleman, at that last 1782 court.

John Lindley served as a member of the manor-court jury (still often called "The Inquisition") at the sessions of 22 October 1750, 21 October 1751, 9 May 1753, 6 May 1754, 25 October 1756, 24 October 1757, 23 October 1758, 28 April 1760, 9 April 1761, 3 May 1762, 26 October 1763 and 22 October 1764, but he did not hold any other manorial offices. (His surname is usually spelt "Lindley", but occasionally "Linley" and once "Lyndley".)

After a break of five years, Lindley family members start to appear in the records again. "William Linley" served as a juror at the court of 23 October 1769, and was sworn in (with a "d" in his surname) as Constable of Castleford at the same court. (John Tasker was sworn in as Constable of Houghton at the same time.) William served as a juror also at the courts of 1 January 1770, 23 October 1770, 21 October 1771, 19 October 1772, 11 April 1774, 22 April 1776, 23 April 1777, 4 May 1778, 26 April 1779, 23 April 1780 and 10 May 1781. On the last occasion, he was joined on the jurors' bench by "Richard Lyndley".

William was quite a popular choice as "affeeror", the officer who assessed manor court fines. He held this delicate post four times (at the courts of 7 May 1770, 26 April 1773, 19 October 1774, 8 May 1775), which suggests he had the trust of the local community and of the lord as well.

"Richard Lyndley" appeared first as a juror with William at the 10 May 1781 court, as stated above, served as an affeeror 25 April 1782, and as a juror again 23 October 1782.

The succession of Lindleys filling these offices suggests that they are successive heads of the family and tenants of the family land, but things may, of course, be more complicated. The court records do not tell us how they were related to eachother, no Lindley deaths are recorded (except a possible one, below), and there may have been more than one branch of the family living locally.

As noted above, John Lindley served as a juror at the court of 22 October 1750. That list of jurors' names has an odd feature in that seven of the 13 names have a large "D" written after them. In one case (Thomas Briggs) this is expanded to read "Dead". This could mean that there has been some kind of local disaster - probably an outbreak of disease, though it is 70 years too late for bubonic plague - and half the jurors have died of it. Spectacular, but not impossible.

At the 21 October 1776 court, six of the 13 jurors' names are marked "D" in the same way, but it is noted later (23 April 1777) that they were absent from the court and were to be fined 10s each for this offence. Why this offence should be indicated by letter "D" was not explained: the most likely thing I can think of is that it stood for "Default", a popular work since medieval times (Medieval Latin: "defaltum") covering failure to undertake all kinds of obligations.

On the whole, it seems more likely that the 1750 jurors had been absent than that a large proportion of them had died, though I cannot find any record that the 1750 jurors were fined. But the parish register should make things clear. In the first interpretation, "John Lindley" is two people who rapidly succeed eachother. In the second, John does not turn up to act as juror in 1750, and is not punished for this, but he goes on to fill the office many times in later years.

Certainly, there were continuing troubles with local offices. Two men were fined at the 10 May 1756 court for "not attending along with their Fellow Jurors at this Court to present the Articles of their Charge". On 7 May 1770 Thomas Harrison was fined 10s "for obstinately refusing to sign the Verdict along with his Fellow Jurors", and on 18 October 1779 William Briggs and John Tasker (presumably the ex-Constable of Houghton) were fined the same sum each "for obstanately & Contemptuously refusing to be and appear at this Court to serve of the Jury [sic]".

The court book gives the impression that it is the record of an institution in decline, where little business is being done. Certainly the court is less important than in earlier times, but too much should not be read into the shortcomings of the record. This Court Book is a "fair copy" written up from the clerk's notes, and at times it has certainly been left incomplete. For a few court sessions (e.g. 17 June 1754) the only record provided is a heading, with the date and the lord's and steward's names, followed by no list of jurors or account of any business. The account of the 14 May 1777 court takes this form, with the rest of the page left blank. But it is accompanied by a note of surrenders of land made at that court which is pinned to the page to be written up later. Sometimes no one remembered to leave space, and so very brief records of a few sessions have had to be squeezed in afterwards. That for 14 December 1767 has been squeezed in at the foot of a page, and that for 13 November 1775 has been squeezed in at the side of a page.

By this period, the focus of court has definitely shifted to Castleford: 106 out of the 115 sessions held during this period were said to have been held there and none was said to have been held anywhere else. In theory, the court was still meeting twice per year, in spring and in autumn, but these sessions were quite frequently adjourned to further sittings, so that the average number of sessions per year was not 2 but about 3.4. The main reason for this was so that proclamations could be made of vacant holdings: it would not have made sense to leave holdings empty for months until the next "regular" court sitting was due, and special ones could be called at three-week intervals until new tenants were found.

Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1351-1353

The Methley Manor Court Rolls of 1351 to 1353 (MX/M6/1/6, MX/M6/1/7 and MX/M6/1/8) are very like the earlier rolls I have reported on before, both as regards their form and their contents. These three sets consist of five, five and seven membranes (sheets of parchment) each respectively. Their condition, again, varies greatly. Mostly it is good or very good, but each set has damage from rubbing, and there are some stains and tears. The text is in Latin, written in a variety of good hands with plenty of abbreviations. As before, these are "full" court rolls with a wide variety of business and many cases brought by local people pursuing their own quarrels.

The three sets of records contain the accounts of twenty-one sessions of the local courts, which vary considerably in length. They are a mixture of sittings at Methley, Houghton and Pontefract. Some are stated to have been courts "of Sir John de Eston, the Master [or Warden] of the Hospital of St Nicholas of Pontefract". The way in which the income from the courts is totalled shows that the Methley and Houghton sittings were regarded as two aspects of the same institution.

There is much interesting local material here. The lord is still collecting the marriage fine ("merchet") from the women from serf families. One Robert de Imworth appears as the parson of Methley. A nice reference to "Adam Priest and Agnes his wife" shows that medieval surnames should not be taken too literally.

But I am sorry to say that, again, I can find no references to Lindleys. The quality of the rolls is still very good - they look to me to be better than many of the Wakefield ones which the Yorkshire Archaeological Society has published. Again, the most likely explanation is that the family were living outside the area of the court's jurisdiction.

To sum up, the 1749-1782 Court Book is narrow in its scope, though this is partly because some of the sessions were not written up properly. They do contain plenty of references to John and William Lindley, and a few late ones to Richard, and show all three men serving as manor-court jurors and holding other responsible offices. You probably have evidence already to show whether a John Lindley died in 1750 or not. As I've said above, the evidence of the Court Book could bear two very different interpretations!

I am sorry that the results from the medieval court rolls were negative again. It is a great frustration to read through documents which are obviously of very good quality and find that they don't have the information you need - I've had this in my own research.

The Houghton cum Castleford Court Rolls No 2 Manor Court Call Books

These records again were transcribed from the original Court Rolls By Peter Franklin to whom I am eternally grateful

1743-1749 and 1766-1779

I am happy to report that I got to the Leeds Archives at last on Tuesday, 28 January, and did what I think we can count as a very useful day's work. As requested, I spent about half my time working on the eighteenth-century Call Books and half on the Methley records of about the year 1600.


I began with the later of these two documents, the Call Book for 1766-1779 (DB29/181). This is a paper book with a very dirty brown paper cover inscribed "Castleford. Call-Book." It is actually in two parts: the first part covers 1776-1773, written on paper which is a little larger than A4 size, but not folio. The second part covers the years 1773-1779; it uses slightly smaller paper and has been sewn into the centre of the first part to form a single book.

The arrangements of the two parts of the book are identical. Each consists of columns of names of the Houghton-cum-Castleford suitors, those people who had the duty to attend the manor court (who "owed suit of court", in the old phrase). Houghton is dealt with first, then Castleford, and for each place the people are listed under three categories according to whether they were freeholders, copyholders or "resiants". (I presume that the last word simply means residents, but the modern form of the word is never used.)

The numbers of suitors' names appearing at any one time are roughly as follows;-

Houghton freeholders 7
Houghton copyholders 27
Houghton resiants 29
Castleford freeholders 13
Castleford copyholders c.51
Castleford resiants c.57
Some of the figures are approximate. These are very much working documents: former suitors' names were struck through when they died or left the area and the names of new ones were written in. This makes the books quite messy at times (as we shall see) and it would be difficult to produce exact figures for the larger categories, but the total number of Houghton and Castleford people who owed suit to the court at any one time was about 180-190. That was the total number of people who should have attended the manor court when it sat, whether they were going to be involved in particular cases or not.

The fascinating thing about the call book is that it shows whether each person appeared at each individual court sitting or not, and if they did not appear it gives further information. The suitors' names are listed in columns at the left-hand side of each page, and the rest of each page is made up of very narrow "date columns" each of which has the date of a court sitting at the top. These are not exact dates: the court was assumed to sit twice per year and all its sessions were dated as "Easter" or "Michaelmas". The columns have been filled in against the name of each suitor, and so provide a record of attendance for each person.

This was done by means of a system of symbols, most of which are abbreviations. The officers using the book would have understood it, so no key is provided. I have identified six basic symbols, and think that the meaning of each is as follows;-

"am." amercement (= fine) for non
"ap." appeared at the court
"D." default?
"ess." or "essd." essoined
"ex." exempt? or excused?
"__" exempt? or excused?

The meanings of the three most common abbreviations are plain. (I should explain that being "essoined" meant that you did not attend in person. In the Middle Ages, a suitor could send a small boy in his place: if you knew that a case was being brought against you, it was a handy way of postponing it. But only a number of "essoins" were allowed.) Of the others, "ex." commonly appears after the names of spinsters and I think that it indicates people who were exempted or excused because their presence was not needed. (Spinsters would not have been asked to serve on juries or take up offices, for example.) A horizontal line "__" may mean the same: it was drawn beside the Earl of Mexburgh's name, and it is unlikely that he would have bothered to attend a local court of this kind in person. It also replaced all other symbols after the names of those who had died.

"D." is the awkward symbol - it cannot mean "Died" as those whose names it appears after come back and attend later courts! You will recall in my 9 June 1995 report that I mentioned the "D." symbol which occurs in the Court Book of 1749-1782, and which I suggested might stand for "default", i.e. failure to attend the court. If this is so here, then "D." would seem to have the same meaning as "am.", for those who committed default would surely have been amerced for it. Alternatively, it may have meant "Departed from the Town", a phrase which is written against one man's name towards the end of part two. Someone who was absent clearly could not attend the court, and perhaps escaped a fine.

Once these symbols are understood, the 1766-1779 Call Book gives us a detailed record of exactly who - out of nearly 200 people - attended each sitting of the manor court held during that period. As I think I have mentioned before, this is information which the Court Books themselves cannot give us because only the names of jurors, officials and people involved in particular cases are recorded there.

I said that these were "working documents" and that they were rather messy. The Lindley family have the honour of appearing in one of the messiest entries in the first part of the 1766-1779 book. The entry in the "Resiants in Castleford" section reads "Margaret the Widow of John Lindley and Before William Lindley" [sic]. The name "Wm. Lindley" is also written separately over the first of the narrow date columns. If I have interpreted this correctly, the record of their attendances at the court runs as follows (it is easier to print this vertically, but please bear in mind that it runs horizontally in the original book);-

Margaret William

Michaelmas 1766 ex.
Easter 1767 __
Michaelmas 1767 ess.
Easter 1768 ess.
Michaelmas 1768 ess.
Easter 1769 ap.
Michaelmas 1769 __
Easter 1770 ex.
Michaelmas 1770 ap.
Easter 1771
Michaelmas 1771 ap.
Easter 1772 ap.
Michaelmas 1772 __ ap.
Easter 1773 ap.

(N.B. In the column for the final court, the two names were bracketed together and "ap." was written once.)

If I have interpreted it correctly, this means that Margaret was exempt from appearing at the Michaelmas 1766 court and apparently from that following, was essoined from the three following ones, but did actually attend the court of Easter 1769. Why she was exempt from appearing at some, but went to others or had to be essoined I don't know.

She was evidently the person who owed suit down to 1772, but William appears to have become due to attend the court by Michaelmas of that year. The entry for Easter 1773 brackets their names together and shows that they both attended the court.

A later page of the book provides an additional attendance record for a William Lindley who was also a "Resiant in Castleford";-


Michaelmas 1766 __
Easter 1767 __
Michaelmas 1767 __
Easter 1768 __
Michaelmas 1768 __
Easter 1769 __
Michaelmas 1769 __
Easter 1770 ap.
Michaelmas 1770 ap.
Easter 1771 ap.
Michaelmas 1771 ap.
Easter 1772 ap.
Michaelmas 1772 ap.
Easter 1773 ap.

In the names column, this William's name is marked "Ex'd before", which presumably means that he was exempted or excused before the time of the Easter 1770 court. Was he a separate person to the William whose name is written by Margaret's?

The second part of the 1766-1779 book takes these records through to the end of the period. It also provides a record for Margaret and William together, and a separate one for William. Again, all are listed under the "Resiants in Castleford" section;-

William Margaret
& William

Michaelmas 1773 ap.
Easter 1774 ap.
Michaelmas 1774 ap.
Easter 1775 ap.
Michaelmas 1775 ap.
Easter 1776 ap.
Michaelmas 1776 ap.
Easter 1777 ap.
Michaelmas 1777 ap.
Easter 1778 ap.
Michaelmas 1778 __
Easter 1779 ex.
Michaelmas 1779 ap.
(Easter 1780?) ap.
(Mich. 1780?) ap.
(Easter 1781?) ess.


(N.B. In the record for William alone his name was first written as "Rich(ar)d" and then altered. I have taken this to be a simple error.)

Here there are joint entries for Margaret and William down to Easter 1779, but none after that date. Entries for William alone begin at Michaelmas 1779, so there would be no difficulty with the references being just to one William.

Three undated entries for William are written in the margin and below his name - I have put these into round brackets. Such entries are found for most of the people listed: I presume that they refer to the courts immediately following and that the steward wrote them up in this way rather than start a fresh call book. If this is correct, than they show him attending two later courts and being essoined at that of Easter 1781.

I then moved on to the earlier Call Book for 1743-1749 (DB29/180). This is a paper book with a dirty blue paper cover inscribed "Castleford Call-Book 1743 and Court Book", with the words "Old Book" added later. Despite the title, it does not contain any records of court business. It comprises purely lists of names and columns of dates, like the later call book, save for two notes about essoins on page 1. Suitors' names are set out under the same sections as in the later book. The numbers of names in each section are similar, save that more than 40 "resiants" in Houghton are listed here. There are slight differences in the symbols used: "esd." is used for essoined, "am." appears as "am. Estd." and "D." as "D. Estd.". I think that the latter two mean "amercement established" and "default (?) established".

Only one member of the Lindley family is listed, "John Linley" who was one of the "Resiants in Castleford". His attendance record throughout the period covered was as follows;-


Michaelmas 1743 am. Estd.
Easter 1744 ap.
Michaelmas 1744 ap.
Easter 1745 esd.
Michaelmas 1745 ex.
Easter 1746 ap.
Michaelmas 1746 ap.
Easter 1747 ap.
Michaelmas 1747 ap.
Easter 1748 esd.
Michaelmas 1748 ap.
Easter 1749 ap.

Thus we can see that John came to eight of the twelve court sittings, was essoined from appearing at two, exempted or excused from appearing at one, and had been amerced for not coming to the first one of all.

The Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1600, and a Comparison with the "Court Files" of that year

I began work on the Methley records of c.1600 by reading the Court Rolls for the period 10 January 1600 to 23 October 1600 (MX/M6/1/149). These are parchment rolls, with individual membranes about 14 inches wide and about 30 inches long and pretty regular in size. They are carefully-produced and impressive official records, written in Latin in a very good hand. They have been carefully preserved, and remain in very good condition.

They are "full" court rolls in the sense that they cover all kinds of minor offences as well as the limited range of land cases, deaths and appointments to manorial offices found in the later records. At this time, the court sat roughly every three weeks, so that there would be 15 to 17 sessions every year. Two of these sessions were the special court leets, here called "turns (tourns) or views of frankpledge", held in spring and autumn. Altogether, this makes a very substantial body of documentation. John Savile, "one of the Barons of the Exchequer", was the Lord of the Manor.

There are a number of references to Lindleys in the court rolls of 1600. Robert Linleye was one of the jurors at the court of 31 January 1600; his name appears (without the final "e") in a list of more than 90 customary tenants recorded at the court leet of 27 March 1600, and (with the "e") he served on the jury at that same court. He again served as a juror ("Robert Lynley") at the 26 June 1600 court, and again ("Robert Linleye") at the 21 August 1600 court. In other words, he was a juror four times in ten months, which suggests that he was a person of considerable local status. As I have said, he was listed as a customary tenant, but we cannot tell much land he held because no holding sizes were given.

A second family member appeared during this period, Francis Lindley who was one of 39 people who were "in frankpledge" at a place called "...horpsyde" (Thorpsyde?). That is to say, he was a member of one of the groups who were bound together to keep the peace, with their chief bound to report any crimes which they committed to the local court. This system had come down from the Middle Ages, and Francis's membership of it only tells us that he was a local resident and was aged at least 12 years (an "adult" in medieval terms!). He could have been any age above that, and his membership tells us nothing about his status, land-holding or occupation.

The Leeds Archives catalogue ("Manorial Records - MX") lists numbers of "Court Files" from Methley, so I took the opportunity to make a close examination of that which covers the same period as the rolls above. The Court File for 1600 (MX/M6/2/49) is a tightly-rolled bundle of about two dozen sheets of paper, a little smaller than A4 size, with a parchment deed serving as an outer cover. The sheets contain well-written Latin notes of the business transacted at each court sitting.

I made two comparisons in order to check (1) that the "finished" parchment court rolls provided records of all the court sittings which had taken place during the period, and (2) that those "finished" court rolls contained detailed records of everything which had happened in court. I found that this was so in both cases, so both the court rolls and the court files are comprehensive and dependable records, so far as we can tell.

The paper court files represent a distinct stage in the process of record-making when the clerk composed an account of what had passed at each court using the less expensive material. When they were completed, large membranes of parchment were procured and the "finished" record was written out in a larger and more formal style. Thus there are two sets of records which cover the same ground. We knew from the catalogue that no Methley Court Rolls have survived from between the years 1600 and 1643. This looked to be a serious loss, but many court files do survive from those years. Indeed, a note in the catalogue where the Court Files are listed suggests that during that period no finished rolls were made and that the files themselves served as the official record. As those I have seen are very neat and accurate, I can believe that this was the case.

To sum up, the Call Books provide evidence of a kind which complements that of the Court Books examined earlier. The Court Books of the C18 only provide the names of people who served as jurors, were chosen to be officials or appeared in particular cases. There was little doubt that that would be only a minority of the people who attended each court sitting. The Call Books make it clear that c.180-190 people were bound to attend the Houghton-cum-Castleford Manor Court. Now that most of the symbols used in the books have been interpreted, it is possible to show that not every suitor came to each session but that the majority did, so we must imagine a court-room packed with people.

The Lindleys who appear in the Call Books present few problems, for nearly all of them are people we already knew from the C18 Court Books. The John Lindley of the earlier Call Book is clearly the man who is known to have served as a juror many times between 1733 and 1764 and to have been Constable of Castleford. He must have died some time before Michaelmas 1766, and his widow Margaret then took over the family holding. The name of a William Lindley, presumably their son, is bracketed with Margaret's from Easter 1773 through to Easter 1779, which may suggest joint tenancy of the family holding. Margaret then, presumably, died, leaving William owing suit alone.

William is also known from the court books, and the fact that he began to owe suit at Easter 1770 and could no longer be "excused" attendance can be explained because he had already served as a juror for the first time and had also been appointed Constable of Castleford - both at the court of 23 October 1769. The Call Books do not make it clear whether there was one William Lindley or two active in the early 1770s, for he is shown owing suit both with Margaret and separately. Unless you have better information, I would suggest that there was just the one man and that the clerk has created a messy record by double-counting him!

I think that the evidence of the Court Books also explains the crossed-out reference to "Richard Lindley". There certainly was such a man because he first appeared on a manor-court jury on 10 May 1781, but he did not yet owe suit and so his name was not due to appear in the 1766-1779 Call Book. The clerk had heard the name, wrote it down by accident and then crossed it out when he realised his mistake.

The Methley Court Rolls of c.1600 survive in very good condition, they contain much more business than the C18 Court Rolls and they show that the court was sitting every three weeks or thereabouts. They show Lindleys living on the estate and one "Robert Linleye" serving frequently as a manor-court juror. This suggests that he was a prominent member of the community, but nothing else is yet known of him. A Francis Lindley was also active at the same time, but no connection between them is known.

I have established that the Court Rolls of this period and the "Court Files" cover the same ground. It is unnecessary to consult the latter in normal circumstances, but they are available as a "back-up" for periods when the rolls are lost and for a period of more than forty years (from 1600 to 1643) when formal Court Rolls may not have been produced.

I must apologise again for the long delay in making this visit to Leeds on your behalf. If you wish, I would be happy to make another visit later this term. Now that the main symbols in the Call Books are understood, progress with the earlier books in the series could be made quickly. The c.1600 Court Rolls present a problem in that large amounts of material survive: it would be very time-consuming and expensive to read (say) all those from the C16. But, if you wished, I would be happy to work backwards and look (for example) at those for 1580, 1560, etc, in the hope of finding the earliest references to Lindleys. Do let me know what you think of these ideas.


The Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Call Book, 1657-1682

The catalogue lists two seventeenth-century Call Books, and I made a full examination of the earlier one which covers the years 1657-1682 (DB29/178). (These are the dates given in the Leeds Archives catalogue: it does actually include the court session of 23 April 1683.) The form of the document is different from the eighteenth-century Call Books described last time: it is a bundle of papers, mostly about 15 inches by 12 inches, but with a few smaller sheets, within an outer wrapper of parchment. The papers have been sewn together through the heads, so the result is a bundle of papers rather than a "book" in the literal sense, but I will continue to use "Call Book" as a conventional name. The book is "in borderline condition", as the archivist put it - torn and dirty in parts, with some small sections torn away - so it needed careful handling. Like the later Call Books, it is very much a working document, with many alterations, so any figures I gave are approximate.

The first sheets comprise lists of names from 1669 and (perhaps) 1662 which are probably notes made for compiling the later record. No Lindleys appear.

The main part of the Book comprises columns of names of the Houghton-cum-Castleford suitors, the people who had the duty to attend the manor court, arranged into lists of freeholders, copyholders and "resiants" as in the later Call Books. As in those, the suitors' names appear in columns at the left-hand side of each page and the rest of the page comprises narrow "date columns" which have the dates of the court sittings at the top. A system of symbols has been used to record each suitor's attendance or non-attendance at the court.

This sounds just like what I said last time, but there are differences. Instead of dating the court sessions roughly as "Michaelmas" or "Easter", the clerks have usually written in the actual dates. (A single court is dated "Michaelmas", and a number are dated only by month and year.) Quite a few columns, however, have been left without headings - this looks careless, but the clerks knew what they were doing and by putting in a date now and then they made it clear which court session was which.

The system of symbols used is also slightly different from that described last time. I have identified five symbols, and believe that the meaning of each is as follows;-

"co." appeared at the court [= C18 "ap."]
"d." default [= C18 "D."]
"egr." excused because sick [perhaps = C18 "ex."?]
"ess." essoined [= C18 "ess." or "essd."]
"pc." ?

The meanings of "co." and "egr." become clear when we bear in mind that, like many C17 clerks, the writers of the Call Book were happy in both English and Latin. "Co." stands for "comparavit", meaning he appeared. "Egr." is most likely the adjective "eger", meaning sick, rather than an odd spelling of the verb "aegrotavit", meaning he was sick. "Pc." appears rarely, perhaps only after the name of the local clergyman, and I have not yet been able to work out its meaning.

There seems to be no symbol for "amercement". I think that "d." means that a suitor had committed default by not attending a court session and would therefore be amerced (fined) for that. As I mentioned last time, I don't know why the eighteenth-century Call Books had a separate "am." symbol for "amercement" - we now know that the earlier books didn't need one.

Knowing the symbols, we can now understand the detailed record of court attendance which the 1657-1682 Call Book provides. There are five records relating to Richard Lynley or Linley, three between 1657 and 1667 and two from 1668 onwards.

The three records for the earlier decade relate to a Richard Lynley who was one of about 21 freeholders in "Castleforth", a Richard Lynley who was one of about 39 copyholders in "Castleforth", and a Richard Lynley who was one of about 38 copyholders in Houghton. Each record appears on a different sheet, and there is nothing to indicate whether there were two or three Richards, or whether all the records relate to the same man.

I have brought the three separate records of the Richard Lynleys' attendances together as follows (as last time, it is easier to show this vertically, but they run horizontally across the width of the pages of the original book);-

Richard Richard Richard
Lynley Lynley Lynley
freeholder copyholder copyholder
in in in
Castleford Castleford Houghton

14 April 1657 co. co. co.
7 October 1657 ess. ess. ess.
15 April 1658 d. d. d.
6 October 1658 co. co. co.
[blank] co. co. co.
25 April 1659 ess. ess. ess.
11 October 1659 co. co. co.
9 May 1660 co. co. co.
21 June 1660 ess. ess. ess.
25 October 1660 co. co. co.
6 May 1661 ess. ess. ess.
22 October 1661 ess. ess. ess.
22 April 1662 co. co. co.
8 October 1662 co. co. co.
6 May 1663 co. co. co.
3 October 1663 co. co. co.
2 June 1664 co. co. co.
20 October 1664 ess. ess. ess.
31 March 1665 co. co. co.
29 October 1665 co. co. co.
20 April 1666 co. co. co.
[blank] d. [blank] d.
12 April 1667 ess. co. co.
11 October 1667 d. co. d.?

The degree of correspondence between the records of the "three Richards" is clearly very high: Richard the Castleford freeholder, Richard the Castleford copyholder, and Richard the Houghton copyholder all attended the 14 April 1657 court in person; they were all essoined at the 7 October 1657 court; and they all committed default to the court of 15 April 1658 by not turning up. Because of this I have little doubt that the "three Richards" were actually the same man. Richard Lynley held land both in Castleford and in Houghton, and he was both a freeholder and a copyholder. This suggests that he was a person of some wealth, but we can't really go beyond that from this kind of record.

The differences which appear at the very end of this period are probably due to his selling some of his land. Two notes in the Call Book say that Richard the Castleford freeholder had sold land to William Penes [perhaps "Pemes"] who "entred 12 October 1666", and that Thomas Sudbury had bought land of Richard "Linley" the Houghton copyholder. Richard's record of attendance as a Castleford copyholder shows that he was still coming to court (though the record of the second court of 1666 is blank) but he was being marked down as a defaulter for the lands he had sold. I can't tell from the Call Book exactly what was going on: perhaps he hadn't registered his sales in the manor court properly?

The two later records of the attendances of "Richard Linleys" (different spelling now) take us through to the early 1680s. Again, it is easier to bring these together vertically, but they run horizontally across the width of the pages of the original book;-


Richard Richard
Linley Linley
copyholder copyholder
in in
Castleford Houghton

[blank: = spring 1668?] d. co.
[blank] d.
[blank] d.
[blank] co.
[blank] d.
[blank] [blank]
[blank] d.
[blank] co.
[blank] ess.
Michaelmas 1672 d.
10 April 1673 ess.
9 October 1673 co.
[blank] co.
[blank] co.
(illegible) 1675 co.
11 October 1675 ess.
12 April 1676 co.
October 1676 ess.
20 April 1677 co.
4 October 1677 co.
8 April 1678 co.
October 1678 co.
April 1679 ess.
October 1679 co.
29 April 1680 co.
October 1680 co.
8 April 1681 ess.
10 October 1681 ess.
17 April 1682 co.
October 1682 ess.
23 April 1683 co.

No dates were written at the tops of the first nine columns. If we count backwards from the Michaelmas 1672 column, then it is likely that the first column refers to the spring court of 1668. If that is correct, then these records take up where the previous ones left off.

So far as we can tell, this is the same Richard who attended the court between 1657 and 1667. He is noted here only once as a Castleford copyholder (making "default"), and this is followed by the brief note "all sold". From then onwards he appears only as a Houghton copyholder. The notes to the earlier records of attendance said that he had sold Castleford freehold land and Houghton copyhold land, but here it is all his Castleford land which has gone (he is not listed among the tenants with Castleford freehold land) and he is still holding Houghton copyhold land down through the 1670s until at least 1683. The easiest explanation would be that the clerk became confused when writing up his notes for 1667 and that Richard actually sold his Castleford copyhold land and kept his Houghton copyhold land. The court rolls should make this clear.

The Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1580 and 1560

As I mentioned last time, the Methley Manor Court Rolls survive in considerable numbers, partly because the court sat at intervals of about three weeks, producing up to 17 records for each year. I thus set out to work back through its sixteenth-century records in search of the earliest references to members of the Lindley family.

I first examined the surviving rolls for the year 1580 (MX/M6/1/138). These are parchment rolls made up of individual membranes about 30 inches long and 14 inches wide (the same size as those of 1600 looked at last time). They are well-made official records, written in Latin in good hands. Their condition is generally very good, but they are dirty in places.

Like those of 1600, they are also "full" court rolls covering minor offences and tenants' cases against eachother as well as the basic fare of land cases, tenants' deaths, etc, which are found in later rolls. Lists of jurors' names are provided, but the choosing of local officials does not seem to be recorded.

Ten court rolls survive from the year 1580, of which two (18 April and 25 October) are records of Views of Frankpledge. The court was being held for Edward Dimocke, esquire, and his wife Katherine, and was sitting at Methley. Thomas Lyndley makes three appearances in the rolls for that year. At both the Views he was listed amongst groups of 65 and 66 local "resiants". At the October View he was recorded as being essoined.

Thomas was probably at the April view in person, because a case was concluded in which he impleaded a certain Richard Cawplande in a Plea of Debt. This had evidently begun some time ago, but it is not referred to in the earlier rolls of 1580. Brief details were given as follows: Thomas claimed that Richard Cawplande owed him 36s 8d. Richard had admitted 33s 4d of this, but denied that he owed the rest and had been given a day "to make law" ("ad facere legem"). This was the medieval procedure (very old by 1580) whereby a man proved the truth of what he said by bringing other men - sometimes called "compurgaters" or "oath-helpers" - to swear to the truth of it. Richard Cawplande evidently could not find enough men to support his story, for he did not come to the April 1580 court. As he had not turned up, the case was awarded to Thomas Lyndley, who was allowed to recover his full 36s 8d and his costs.

The case tells us a little about Thomas Lyndley. It is unlikely that he made an income by lending money. It is very hard to find anyone in late medieval or early modern rural English society who could have been a professional moneylender, but lending money to your relatives, friends and neighbours was extremely common - witness the lists of debts often attached to people's wills. There would have been some connection between Thomas and Richard before the loan was made. The fact that Thomas had 36s 8d to lend shows that he cannot have been a poor man, but we cannot say much beyond that. He did not appear as a manor-court juror.

No other Lyndleys appear in the 1580 rolls.

I also had time to look at the surviving court rolls for 1560 (MX/M6/1/130). These are parchment rolls of a form and with contents very like those for 1580, described above. Their condition is pretty filthy, but everything is readable.

Only five court rolls survive from the year 1560, of which one (9 May) is the record of a View of Frankpledge. The court was being held for Edward Dimoke, knight, the predecessor of E. Dimocke, esquire. I could find no references to any Lindleys.

To sum up, the Call Book for 1657-1682 provides records of attendance for the large numbers of people who were bound to attend the Houghton-cum-Castleford Manor Court. The form of the record is very like that of the C18 Call Books: some of the symbols used are different, but the idea is very much the same. Again, it is clear that well over 100 people attended the court and the C17 court-room would have been packed with people.

The Call Book's five records of attendance by Lindleys probably all refer to the same man, Richard Lynley or Linley, who seems to have held plenty of land between 1657 and about 1666, when he was selling land. The record is a little unclear at that point, but it looks as though he got rid of everything except his copyhold land in Houghton for which he was still doing suit down to 1683, when the Book ends.

The Methley Court Rolls show that Lindleys were certainly living on that manor as early as 1580, when Thomas Lyndley was recovering money he had lent. The sum may suggest that he was quite well-off, but he did not serve as a manor-court juror. But a search of the same rolls for 1560 failed to find any reference to the family. It may be pure chance that no family members were recorded - especially as only five court rolls survive for that year - or it may be that they had not yet arrived in the Methley area.

I did not have the opportunity to look at the other C17 Call Book which survives, that for 1683-1686. As the period covered is short, it should not take very long to go through it. I think the best thing to do with the Court Rolls would be to go back to 1540 and 1520 and look for Lindley references in those, in case the absence of the name in 1560 is just chance. Do let me know how you feel about this. Apologies agin for the delay: things are much better now, and I could go to Leeds around Easter if you wished.


I completed work on the earlier (seventeenth-century) Houghton with Castleford Call Books, and then took up the sixteenth-century Methley Court Rolls again.

I also enquired about Otley and Whitkirk manorial records, as you asked, and will come back to this later.

The Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Call Book, 1683-1686

This is the second of the two seventeenth-century Call Books mentioned in my last Report (25 February 1998). This one (DB29/179) is a paper book very like the eighteenth-century ones I looked at on your behalf last year. It measures about 12 inches by 7.5 inches. Folding has made it a bit awkward to handle, but it is in good condition. Like the eighteenth-century Call Books, it comprises columns of the names of the suitors to the Houghton-cum-Castleford manor court, arranged into lists of freeholders, copyholders and "resiants", first for Houghton and then for Castleford. As before, their names appear in wide columns at the left-hand side of each page and the rest of the page is given over to narrow "date columns" which have the dates of court sittings at the top. Also as before, a system of symbols has been used to make a record of each suitor's attendance or non-attendance at the court.

The record is neat and detailed. This is very much a working document - for example, suitors' names are struck through when they die and new suitors' names are added between lines - but everything has been done carefully. Exact dates of the court sessions are given, not just "Easter" or "Michaelmas" as before.

The system of symbols used is slightly different from those I have described before. Now there are six symbols, and I believe that the meaning of each is as follows;-

"co." appeared at the court
"d." default
"ess." essoined
"Jur." sworn as tenant
"mort." dead
"pc." leave of absence?

We have had four of these before. I didn't know before what to suggest for the meaning of "pc.". It appears a number of times beside the names of all five listed members of the Austwick, or Austwicke, family, two of whom died during this period. I suspect that it records some kind of leave of absence, but I would be happier if I could think of a Latin word as its source. "Jur." is written after the names of two men (an Austwick and William Shillito of Ferrybriggs) immediately after other members of their families who were tenants had died, so I am pretty sure it is the Latin "Juratus" meaning sworn, i.e. having taken the oath when becoming the lord of the manor's tenant. The meaning of "mort." is plain: it is the Latin "mortuus" meaning dead, and no one appears in court afterwards. Sometimes this last word is written in the narrow date columns, and sometimes next to the suitor's name in the left-hand column.

Note that "egr." meaning sick never appears, perhaps because the period covered is short.

I showed last time how "Richard Lynley" appeared under three headings between 1657 and 1667 - as a Castleford freeholder, a Castleford copyholder and a Houghton copyholder - but was probably just one man. He was selling land at the end of the 1660s, and was appearing in the 1670s and early 1680s just as a Houghton copyholder.

He continues to appear, as "Richard Lyndley", in the 1683-1686 Call Book as a Houghton copyholder and not under any other heading. His detailed record of attendance was as follows (as before, it is easier to show this vertically, though the record runs horizontally across the width of the page of original book);-

Richard Lyndley
copyholder in

5 October 1683 ess.
17 April 1684 co.
16 October 1684 co.
7 May 1685 co.
3 October 1685 ess.
30 April 1686 co.

So he appeared at four of the court sessions and was "essoined" from the other two.

There are no references to any other Lindleys, although the total numbers of tenants and "resiants" appearing (counting Houghton and Castleford together) are about 120 at any one time. Although it is hard to be sure how comprehensive records of this kind are, it does make one wonder if there was just a single household of Lindleys in the area at this time, headed by this Richard.

The Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1539-1540, 1520-1521, 1499-1500, and part of 1570

It took little time to deal with the last Call Book, so I devoted the rest of the day to the search for earlier references to the Lindley family in the extensive collection of Methley Manor Court Rolls. Having read through those for 1580 and 1560 on the occasion of my last visit, I continued to work my way backwards in time at 20-year intervals.

I looked first at the nine surviving rolls for the year 1540 (MX/M6/1/119). (To be exact, this bundle covers 21 October 1539 to 26 August 1540, but it works just as well as a sample and saves time.) The court was being held for Sir Robert Dymmoke, and was sitting at Methley. These are parchment rolls much like those described last time. They are made up of large individual membranes about 33 inches long and 14 inches wide, in good overall condition, but dirty in places. They are written in Latin in a good hand, but rather closely written.

Like those of 1580 and 1560, they are "full" court rolls covering minor offences and cases brought by tenants besides the basic staples of land cases, tenants' deaths, etc. Lists of jurors' names are provided, indeed, at those sessions when a View of Frankpledge was held two juries were enrolled, the first for the lord king ("pro domino Rege") to deal with View business which related to the laws of the realm, and the second for the lord of the manor ("pro domino") to deal with ordinary manor court cases. The names of local officials appointed were also recorded.

I continued next with the court rolls for 1520-1521 (MX/M6/1/109), for which only six survive (covering 16 June 1520 to 2 April 1521, to be exact). Again, the court was being held for Sir Robert Dymmoke, and was sitting at Methley. These are very like the above rolls, but of a smaller size, roughly 20 inches by 11 inches.


I then worked through the court rolls for 1499-1500 (MX/M6/1/100). These provide records of 11 court sessions, from 10 October 1499 to a date the clerk has left blank by mistake in September 1500. The court was being held for Sir William Tyrwhit and his fellow feoffees (who weren't named) who held the manor from Sir Robert Dymmok. They are small paper rolls, about 11 inches by 9 inches, which should probably be considered as notes to be written up later on parchment. Their form and contents are very like finished rolls, but they are much shorter than those of the later dates and provide less information.

Attached to the front of these paper rolls is a narrow strip of parchment listing the names of 21 suitors at "Methelay".

At these periods, the court was meeting quite frequently: not every three weeks in text-book fashion, but roughly every six weeks in 1539-1540, every eight weeks in 1520-1521, and every four weeks in 1499-1500. There are long lists of free tenants who owe suit (including Shillitoes), regular lists of jurors, names of officials chosen and many miscellaneous cases. But I am sorry to report that these samples of the Methley Court Rolls taken at 20-year intervals produced no references to members of the Lindley family at all.

There seemed to be no point in carrying the search back before 1499, so I thought it best to work backwards in time again from 1580 filling in gaps in the 20-year periods, i.e. looking at court rolls of 1570, 1550, etc. I therefore spent the remaining time reading through the rolls of 1570 (MX/M6/1/134). These are parchment rolls very similar to those for 1580 and 1560, described last time. Their overall size is about 27 inches by 14 inches and their overall condition very good, but they are awkward to use at first because they have been sewn together at the foot. I was able to look at three courts (19 September, 21 November and 19 December 1570), but again without success.

To sum up, the Call Book for 1683-1686 fills in the details for the few years after the 1657-1682 Book. It takes the same form as the later Books and uses a similar system of symbols to provide detailed records of attendance.

There is just a single record of attendance by a Lindley, the Richard Lyndley whom we have met before who had sold off much of his land but who remained a copyholder in Houghton for many years.

The Methley Court Rolls are very nice examples of C16 manorial court rolls, but an awful disappointment from a Lindley point of view. Searching them at 20-year intervals back as far as the start of the C16 has failed to produce any more references to members of the family, so we are still in the position that Thomas Lyndley recovering his money in 1580 is the earliest known reference.

Do let me know how you want to proceed now. As I have said above, I have started working back from 1580 with the aim of reading through the court rolls of 1570, 1550, 1530, etc. Do you wish me to carry on with this?

As regards Otley and Whitkirk, Leeds Archives does have manorial court "files" from the Manor of Whitkirk from 1589 to 1691. I presume that by "files" they mean notes from which the finished court rolls would have been written up. Actual court rolls only start in 1664. They also have what they describe as "miscellaneous court material" from 1522 through to 1925. They do not know whether the boundaries of the manor were the same as those of the parish.

The Leeds people don't know of any surviving manorial records from Otley, but say that the family and estate papers of the Fawkes family of Farnley Hall, who may have been lords of Otley in the early seventeenth century, are at the Y.A.S. headquarters at Claremont.

I have done a further seven and a half hours' work for you, at 9-00 per hour, and have incurred travelling expenses of 9-20, making a total of 76-70.

. I began work on the C17 Methley Manor Court Rolls and also on a new category of C18 Houghton with Castleford Manor Court records.

The Methley Manor Court Rolls, 1600-1602

As I reported in January 1997, there is a gap in the surviving Methley Manor Court Rolls from 1600 to 1643 but this is covered by the series of surviving Court Files. These are paper records of the proceedings at each court session, and the comparison which I made then between the Court Files for 1600 (MX/M6/2/49) and the finished Court Rolls for the same year (MX/M6/1/149) shows that the Files provide a complete record of court business, and it may well be that they served as the court's official records from 1600 to 1643 and that the finished parchment rolls were not made. We can regard them as effective substitutes for finished court rolls.

These surviving Court Files cover most of the period 1600-1643. Generally speaking, they have been arranged by New Style years with each bundle covering a single year: so, for example, MX/M6/2/50 covers the year 1601.

I began with the first two Court Files, which cover the manor courts held from 15 January to 21 December 1601 (MX/M6/2/50) and from 14 January to 16 October 1602 (MX/M6/2/51). Each comprises a bundle of sheets of paper about eight inches wide and about 12 inches long and quite regular in size. They have been sewn together at the head and rolled up: the 1601 files have a parchment deed as an outer wrapper, the 1602 files have an Indenture between the lord of the manor and the Dean of Winchester serving this purpose. They have been carefully kept in Latin in a good hand, and are in a very good state of preservation.

Like the court file I described in January 1997, these are "full" records of court business, giving details of land transfers, deaths, appointments to offices and minor offences. They even include the texts (in English) of some tenants' Wills. The court sits every three weeks or so, so there is a large quantity of documentation. The two court leet sittings are held in spring and autumn: in 1602, each of these is called "the Sheriff's tourn (or turn) and View of Frankpledge". The first half of the name suggests a royal court held by a sheriff: I suspect that it is used because the law of the land is enforced at these two special sessions, not just local business, and because the sheriff is the Queen's principal officer in the county. As there were hundreds of manors in Yorkshire, it is unlikely that he ever attended this court. John Savile, "one of the Barons of the lady Queen's Exchequer", is still lord of the manor.
These files provide further information on both of the two Lindleys who appeared in the Methley Court Rolls for 1600. Robert "Linleye" served on juries at six of the 14 court sessions held during 1601, and at three of the 11 sessions held during 1602. There is a considerable "turnover" in the men serving on Methley juries at this time: Robert's success in serving on so many suggests that he was a person of local importance and (bearing in mind that manor court jurors were supposed to have a good knowledge of local events) that he had a full role in the life of the community. At the 14 January 1602 court, his name appears first in the list of jurors which may mean that he was acting as their foreman, though this cannot be proved. On 23 April 1601 he served as juror with Edward Shillito and 11 other men, and they had to present that Shillito's wife Joan had "made affray" on one Richard Birkinshawe.

Lists of tenants and "residents" [Latin: "residentes"] were drawn up once a year: at the spring court leet in 1601 but at the autumn one in 1602. On 23 April 1601, Robert Linleye was listed as a copyhold or customary tenant, with c.92 others. This page of the files has been peppered with tiny abbreviations which make it quite hard to read. There are several of these for each of the names listed: I could read essoin and "ve.", which I think is "venit" meaning he comes, so it seems to be a kind of attendance record such as we found in the Houghton with Castleford Call Books. But this one would be very hard to disentangle because no dates are given, and the record is so closely written that it is hard to say which abbreviations apply to which tenant! He is listed in the same way in the record of the 30 September 1602 court leet.

Apart from his appearances as a juror and as a tenant in these lists made at the court leets, Robert makes only a singular further appearance in the court files of these two years. He failed to turn up ("made default") at the 10 September 1601 court, and was fined 4d.

The other Lindley who appeared in the 1600 court roll also appears in these files. Francis Linleye is listed at the 23 April 1601 court leet among 38 "residents" at a place which I can now confirm is called Thorpsyde. He was listed there again at the time of the 30 September 1602 leet: he should have been in court on that day because he owed suit, but he had not come and he was fined 4d. Evidence for him is still thin, but we find him in trouble at the court of 25 June 1601 when he had put horses (perhaps just a horse) to graze in fields which had been sown with corn. Three other men, of whom one was Edward Shillito, had done the same. It is the kind of offence which makes you wonder whether they had done it to spite an unpopular neighbour, or the lord of the manor, but we are not told whose field it was. They were fined 6d each.
Houghton with Castleford Manor File of Surrenders, 1771-1781

I carried on with the manorial records from Houghton with Castleford. As I reported earlier (June 1995), the C18 Court Books became limited in scope and during the period of the latter one, 1749-1782, the court was sitting only 3.4 times per year on average. It is now clear that this was possible because some court business was being written up at other times in documents which the Leeds Archives catalogue simply calls "Files of Surrenders".

I have looked at one of the later Files of Surrenders, that for 1771-1781 (DB29/195). This is a bundle of papers, each of which is a separate document. They are strung together at the head on a cord. When the bundle is unrolled, it forms a pile of papers about three inches thick, so the amount of material is considerable. The sizes of the sheets vary, up to about eight inches wide by 15 inches long. The texts are in English, as we would expect at this late date.

These are records of land transfers made at the time they took place. They were made by the lord's steward, William Fleming: when he was not available, he issued written authorities to other people to act in his stead, and these have been preserved with the relevant files. I do not know whether written records of this kind were made in earlier periods: I have never seen any for a medieval manor court. In places where manor courts sat every few weeks it may have been possible to carry out all such business at court sessions, so that no records of this kind would be needed. One can see that on estates where the court sat infrequently they would have been useful to provide detailed information which could be written up in the court rolls or book at the next sitting. But here at Houghton with Castleford this detailed information was not written up later. Each transfer of land was reported to the manor court, for each file bears the date when it was "Courted", which is the phrase used. But instead of the details being written up, these files have themselves been preserved as part of the manorial records.

I was able to work through about half of the documents in this large bundle, from 1781 back to 1775 (they are in reverse order). No Lindleys gave up land, but there are three references to the family.

The first comes in an unusually-long Surrender which was "courted" on 2 March 1781, but concerned land which had first changed hands on 30 November 1773. Nicholas Stead of Leeds, a cloth dresser, had sold George Kippon of Allerton Bywater, gentleman, a dwelling house in Castleford where Joseph Johnson had lately dwelt, with its garden, orchard and croft, with pews in Castleford parish church belonging to it, and with some pieces of land in the town fields of Castleford. Kippon surrendered it in 1781 to the use of he and his wife Mary's youngest daughter, Betty, who was the wife of William Lyndley of Allerton Bywater. (It might be a dowry, but the word wasn't used.)

The second comes in a surrender of 9 April 1777, when Thomas Shillito of Castleford and his wife Elizabeth sold 1 acre 1 rood of arable called "the New-Close" at a place called "the Upper-furshot" in Castleford, which had lately been occupied by William Lyndley. Nothing further is said of him. (The buyer was Thomas Woodcock of Doncaster, innholder.)

The third was made 1 May 1775, when Jeremiah Johnson of Ledstone, wheelwright and carpenter, and his wife Ann, sold a four-acre close called Carr Close in Houghton, of which William Lyndley "or his assigns" was then the tenant, to one John Banks. Again, nothing more was said about William.
To sum up, the Methley Manor Court Files have yielded more information about the activities of the early C17 Robert Linleye, who was clearly an important member of the community. We still know little about Francis Linleye, and our information on both men is limited by the kinds of records which the manorial authorities wanted: thus we know that Robert was a tenant of the manor, but not where he lived, and we know where Francis lived, but as he was not a tenant we do not know what he did for a living. But the Court Files are good sources, and the chances are good that fuller information will be provided by records of land transactions - or perhaps of a Will - in the later ones.

The Houghton with Castleford Files of Surrenders provide some of the detailed information which good manorial court records would contain but which does not appear in the C18 Court Books. Evidently these documents were drawn up by the manorial authorities when land changed hands - so they are indeed a kind of manorial record - but they were themselves preserved instead of being used as notes of things to be written up formally in the court books.

They have already produced information on three pieces of land which William Lyndley and his wife Betty had owned or occupied and the names of his wife's parents, and it is likely that they will contain plenty of other references to members of the family.

I am sorry to say that in the rush I forgot to enquire about court rolls for Pontefract and Rothwell, but I will write to Leeds about this tomorrow.

Reading through your letter, I suspect that you are right about John Linley senior of Rothwell being the father of John Linley junior of Carleton, but do bear in mind that if there were lots of Lindleys in that area there could have been several Johns alive at the same time. It would have made life easier if they hadn't chosen such a popular name!

I spent another day working for you at the Leeds Archives yesterday. I continued working both on the C17 Methley Manor Court Files and also on the C18 Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Files of Surrenders, as per our last telephone conversation.

The Methley Manor Court Files, 1603-1604

I continued work on these records with the two Court Files which cover the manor courts held from 10 January to 15 December 1603 (MX/M6/2/52) and from 12 January to 20 December 1604 (MX/M6/2/53). In form, these are very like the files for 1601 and 1602 which I read last time. Each comprises a bundle of papers eight or nine inches wide and about 12 inches long which have been sewn together at the head and rolled up. The 1603 files have a printed page of a medieval Latin religious text and a parchment deed as outer wrappers; the 1604 files have just a parchment deed serving this purpose. As before, the files have been carefully kept in Latin in a good hand, but their state of preservation is not quite so good: some of the sheets in the 1604 file have been affected by "bleeding through", where the ink has reacted chemically with the paper causing the writing to penetrate to the other side of the sheet, and there are a few signs in both files that some of the paper is beginning to crumble. This is one problem which would have been avoided if "finished copies" had been made on parchment.
Like the court files described last time, these are "full" records of court business, recording tenants' deaths, land transfers, at least one quitclaim, appointments to offices and minor offences. Again, the texts of some tenants' Wills are given in English - I will come back to this. The court sat every three weeks or so, with leet sittings in the spring and autumn. The quantity of documentation produced is considerable, especially for 1603. Tenants appear to have been anxious that details of their land transactions should be entered in the court records, and indeed, this is one of the benefits which a manor court made available to them. John Savile was still lord of the manor, and had definitely been knighted by this time. John Preistleye [sic], esquire, was his Steward.

These files contain further information on both of the Lindleys who appeared in the 1600-1602 files. Robert "Linleye" continued to serve on manor court juries: he served as a juror at two of the 14 court sessions held in 1603 and at five of the 14 sessions held in 1604. Two juries were empanelled at each of the special court leet sessions held in spring and autumn, one "for the lord king" which presented offences against the law of the land, such as affray, and one "for the lord of the manor" which presented things of purely local concern, such as tenants' deaths and the choosing of officials. Robert Linleye sat on the jury "for the lord king" at the 27 April 1603 leet, and on the jury "for the lord of the manor" at the 9 April 1604 leet.
Annual lists of tenants and residents continued to be drawn up, this time at the spring leets of each year. The 27 April 1603 leet listed Robert Linleye as one of c.96 copyhold or customary tenants who owed suit of court (i.e., who were bound to attend the manor court) every three weeks because they held copyhold land. He appears again in the list from the 9 April 1604 leet as one of c.95 such tenants. (As before, these lists are peppered with tiny abbreviations which suggest they have been used as a kind of court attendance record, but no dates were recorded so it would be very hard to make sense of this.)

Robert and three other men were fined 4d each for "default of suit", that is, for not attending the court, at the 30 November 1604 court, but this is the only offence recorded by any of the law-abiding Linleyes.
There are two more interesting references to Robert Linleye which take us beyond jury-service and minor offences. At the court of 15 March 1604, when he was serving as a juror, he took part in a land transaction. Robert Shaun officially surrendered half an acre of land at Methley to the use of "Robert Linleye of Castelford", his heirs and assigns, and the lord of the manor, in the person of his steward, granted the land to Robert, who gave 10d for an entry fine. The land was described in detail as standing in "le Netherfeild [sic]", abbuting upon "le Southemore" to the south, upon "le Lawe" to the north, and upon the land of Robert Leyburne the elder - a man who appeared quite often as a juror - to the west. It was to be held on the old terms, but details of these were not given.

This can only have been a tiny addition to whatever land Robert already held, but it does show him taking part in the active local land market and seeking to expand his holding. From the description, it may have been a strip or "selion" of arable land in an open field, but this is not made clear.

The second reference takes us into the world outside the court, for at the 13 July 1603 court we learn that "Robert Lindleye [sic] of Castelford" and John Lockwode of Crofton had been appointed by one John Marshall of "Metheleye", to be the supervisors or overseers of his will. Wills of this period sometimes explain that these people are appointed "to be advising and assisting to" the executor, or some similar phrase, but both the words supervisor and overseer have overtones also of keeping an eye on them!

John Marshall had made his will, of which what looks to be the full English text is given in the 13 July 1603 court file, on 27 January 1603. I mentioned last time that these court files contain the texts of some tenants' wills. John Marshall's widow Margaret gave the lord of the manor 5s fine for the approval (the Latin word used is "approbatione") and recording of his will, and the court accepted it as a true will and awarded its administration to her. But on a later occasion (William Nunnes' will, recorded 15 March 1604) a will was clearly said to have been proved ("probatum"), so it seems that the texts of these were recorded because the manor court actually had the probate of wills.

Its importance is that it shows Robert Lindleye undertaking one of those tasks which an important and trustworthy member of the community would be called upon to perform. This kind of thing would usually not appear in court records, and it would take a great deal of searching through wills (if those from this area survive from this period) to find such references.

Francis Linleye also continued to be listed at the courts leet. He was listed on 27 April 1603 among c.37 "residents" at Thorpesyde, and again at the same place among the same number of people, on 9 April 1604. But nothing more is recorded of him.

Houghton with Castleford Manor File of Surrenders, 1771-1781 (cont'd)

In December, I only managed to work through about half of the documents which make up this large bundle (DB29/195), working back from 1781 to 1775. I had hoped to finish it yesterday and got back from 1775 to 1772: the greater length of the 1603 Methley Court Files prevented me from finishing the job, but only the last ten, or so, documents remain to be looked at. I gave a description of its form and appearance in my 16 December 1998 report.

Two further references to Lindleys have emerged, both from early 1774. On 10 February that year, Robert Wigin [sic] who had lived at Castleford but was now at Whitwood in the parish of Featherstone, his eldest son William, both of whom are described as yeomen, and one Ann Denton of Wakefield, gentlewoman, formally surrendered their close called Roundhill Close, which comprised two acres of meadow or pasture in Castleford, and which was already held or occupied by William "Lyndley", to the use of the same William Lyndley. It was said to be bounded on the east by a close of William Prince's, and on the west by "a certain Balk or parcel of Waste Ground".

On 4 March 1774, the same three people (but the spelling is now "Wiggin") formally surrendered one acre one rood of arable land at "a Place called the Upper Turshott" at New Close in Castleford, which William Lindley held or had lately held as their tenant, to the use of Thomas Shillito of Castleford, butcher. It was not made clear whether William was to become Thomas Shillito's tenant or if he would have no further interest in the land. The two Wiggins and Ann Denton seem to have been involved in buying and selling land together: there are several references to them surrendering pieces of land at this time.

To sum up, the Methley Manor Court Files have produced more instances of Robert Linleye's service as a manor-court juror, and are now starting to produce a broader picture of him as a tenant actively involved in the local land market and fulfilling one of the roles, namely that of supervisor of a will, for which influential and trusted members of the community would be needed. Information on Francis Linleye remains very thin, though.

The Houghton with Castleford Files of Surrenders have provided further information on William Lyndley or Lindley's land-holding, which has shown him holding small pieces of land as a tenant of the Wiggins family and Ann Denton. By this date local land-holding may have become very complicated: William may have held numerous small parcels from the lord of the manor and also from wealthy neighbours, and, indeed, his neighbours may have held land from him.
St Mary's Kippax

I spent another day working for you on the C17 Methley Manor Court Files and also on the C18 Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Files of Surrenders.

The Methley Manor Court Files, 1605-1606

I continued work on the Court Files, dealing with the next two in the series which cover manor courts held from 31 January to 12 September 1605 (MX/M6/2/54) and from 13 February to 4 December 1606 (MX/M6/2/55). In form, these are very like the earlier files in this series: each comprises a bundle of papers about eight inches wide and about 11 inches long which have been sewn together at the head and rolled up. The 1605 Files have part of a C17 parchment deed in English as an outer wrapper; the 1606 Files have a parchment Indenture in English (itself dated 1606) serving this purpose. The files have again been well kept in Latin in a good hand. The state of preservation is generally good, but chemical reaction of the ink with the paper has led to some crumbling - very thickly-written letters in headings of court sessions are in danger from this, but the main body of the text of each document is not much affected.

These are "full" records of court business, as described before, with the court sitting every three weeks or so and having leet sittings in spring and autumn. Some tenants' wills are recorded (in English), and the 28 February 1605 file records that of Thomas Scawbard: a fine example of a very pithy nuncupative will (he left a cow or 40s to his grandchildren "and not to their father"). Sir John Savile was still lord of the manor, and Lady Margery was named as his wife. John Preistley, esquire, was still the Steward.

More information appears about Robert and Francis Lindley. Robert "Linleye" served on only one jury in 1605, but it was an interesting case as it shows the court was still using the medieval procedure whereby a suitor could pay to have an inquiry made into a specific matter. At the 23 April 1605 court, Thomas Hollyns of Methleye gave 6d to have an inquiry whether one ash-tree had been handed over by Robert Ward with the lord's leave. Robert Linleye and six others, all of them being copyhold tenants, were chosen, and they reported at the next court (16 May 1605) that the tree had been felled "in le Morehousefeild [sic] " without the lord's permission.

In the following year he served on the juries "for the lord of the manor" at both of the court leets held on 21 April and 30 September 1606. At the April session Robert served with 14 other men, and he was himself presented by that jury along with Richard Shann. (Manor-court juries did not experience problems with presenting things done by one or more of their own members. It would have been impossible to find enough men who never committed offences to form a jury.) The account of their offences reads,

"Richard Shann, gentleman, keeps a fire in a certain house where a fire was not kept, for a poor man called George Walker, and Robert Linley [sic] does the same for a certain other poor man by the name of Andrew Brigge."

It is unlikely that they were doing this as an act of charity. I suspect that Shann and Linley had rented out cottages to these "poor men", and they may have been employing them as agricultural labourers. The wording sounds odd, but Early Modern jurors would quite naturally think in terms of fires and hearths. If the two "poor men" were not locals, then the jurors were probably worried that they might become a charge on the Poor Rate. In an earlier age, it would have been reported to the court as an instance of "receiving strangers". Though this matter was reported, there is no record that either Shann or Linley was fined. (The clerk may well have made an error with the name of Andrew Brigge, as he recorded in the next entry that Andrew Brigge had been chosen to the office of pindar for "le Townesyde".)

Robert Linleye committed a minor offence by not turning up at the 14 March 1606 court. He and four others who had done the same were fined 4d each.

A list of c.90 customary tenants who owed suit of court (i.e., who were bound to attend the manor court) every three weeks was drawn up at the 2 April 1605 leet, and Robert "Lynleye" appears as one of them. As before, there are tiny abbreviations marked by the names: this list has evidently been used as a record of attendance. For Robert it reads,

"essoined, came, came, came, came, essoined, came,"

but there are no dates to go with this!

The exercise was repeated at the 21 April 1606 leet, when Robert appears among c.93 tenants, his record of attendance reading, "excused? [abbreviated as "ex."], essoined, came, came, essoined, came, came, essoined,"again no dates!

The 1605 leet record does not list residents, but this was done again at the 21 April 1606 leet, when there were said to be c.35 in Mickeltowne, c.40 in Thorpeside, c.9 in Hungate, c.16 in Woodrowe, and three in Churchehowses. (As before, the numbers of people in lists of tenants or residents are usually approximate: these are working lists with changes made, so exact totals are hard to get.) The c.40 residents in Thorpeside included Francis "Linleye", but that is the only reference to him in the court files of these two years.

An important piece of background information has emerged from the files of these two years. There are several references to unusual "mortality". At the 31 January 1605 court, the jurors presented that Robert Shann had died and that his son Thomas "died within six days after his father's death". But that was probably just an isolated incident as nothing further unusual appears until 12 September. A note has been added to the foot of that day's court file stating that,
"There are no further rolls for this year because the mortality came on in the township."

(The clerk's Latin was poor and he did not write a word for "no", but his meaning is clear.)

No further files survive until 13 February 1606, at which session the jurors presented that, "there have died of the mortality in this township since the last court held here, 52". Twelve tenants' deaths were then recorded, so the other 40 must have been wives, children, sub-tenants, and so on. The next file, 14 March 1606, mentions that Lionel Tenante and Luke Shillito died "at the time of the mortality in this township", and that William Hagger had died "at the time of the mortality". (This was the session at which Robert Linleye and the others failed to turn up: perhaps they didn't think it was safe.)

It is very likely that there was some local outbreak of disease. Manorial records often make no overt reference to crises of this kind - I mean that you can tell the Black Death of 1348-1349 has reached a place because so many deaths are recorded, but the clerk did not actually record that pestilence had broken out. These Methley references to "mortality" and the attempt to give a total number of deaths are very good evidence. The Latin word the clerk used is simply "mortalitas". In this period it is always tempting to suppose there was an outbreak of bubonic plague, but that is usually seen as a summer problem and Methley people had suffered some kind of winter outbreak. It would be interesting to follow it up in the parish registers, if these survive.
Houghton with Castleford Manor File of Surrenders, 1771-1781 (cont'd) and 1736-1746

You will recall that on my last visit I did not have time to finish working through this large bundle of Surrenders (DB29/195). I have now done this, and have also begun work on the following bundle (DB29/196). Please note that there is an error in the Leeds Archives catalogue: DB29/196 is dated there as "1836-1846" but is actually 1736-1746 and it fits into a gap in the earlier Files of Surrenders. I'll drop them a note!
But I am sorry to say that I have found only one further Lindley reference. The last few documents of the 1771-1781 Surrenders contain a formal authorisation by which William Fleming the steward empowers John Waugh of Oulton to take surrenders in his absence. This summarises several of these, one of which is said to involve lands "late in the several possessions of William Ingle and Widow Lindley". But I cannot find the actual document which would have given details of this surrender.

To sum up, the Methley Manor Court Files have shown Robert Linleye serving as a manor-court juror again, and have produced a case which probably means that he was subletting a cottage to a "poor man". In this very rural society, it may well be that he was employing this "poor man" as a farm-worker. But there is only a single reference to Francis Linleye as a resident in Thorpeside.

The references to some kind of "mortality" which took place between 12 September 1605 and 13 February 1606 and evidently caused many deaths provide valuable background evidence of the hazards against which the Lindley family and their neighbours lived their lives. Only tenants' deaths were recorded in the Court Files and there were no Lindleys among these: only a parish register would give the names of those who had died who were not tenants.

The Houghton with Castleford Files of Surrenders have proved disappointing, giving only a brief reference to "Widow Lindley". I am part-way through the mis-catalogued 1736-1746 bundle of Surrenders and estimate it would about an hour to finish it.
You asked whether there were any C16 or C17 manorial records surviving from Pontefract or Rothwell. Leeds Archives tell me that they have some early C16 Honour of Pontefract "records of fee receipts", but these are unlikely to be of much help. There might be Pontefract manorial records among the Duchy of Lancaster records at the P.R.O.: I will write and ask if you wish. Leeds do have Rothwell Manor Court Rolls, and kindly supplied me with a list (enclosed).

The last instructions I had from you were: (a) to carry on with the early C17 Methley Manor Court files, skipping ten years from last time and so looking at about 1616, and (b) to finish off the C18 Houghton with Castleford Manor Files of Surrenders and then carry on from the 1780s with Houghton with Castleford documents worked on earlier.

As regards the last part, I do not have a record of whether the Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Books survive from later than 1782 (the date I got up to when I worked on them in June 1995). If they do, I will work on these as they should contain more information than other documents: if they don't, then I will look for post-1780 Call Books.

I went to Leeds Archives yesterday and spent another day working for you on the C17 Methley Manor Court Files and on the C18 Houghton with Castleford Manor records.

The Methley Manor Court Files, 1617-1619
I continued work on the Court Files, going forward about 10 years from last time, as instructed. There are no surviving files for 1616 itself, so I read through the next ones in the series which cover manor courts held from 21 January to 11 December 1617 (MX/M6/2/65) and from 22 January to 9 December 1618 (MX/M6/2/66). As explained below, I later began work on those for 1619 (MX/M6/2/67), but was not able to complete them. In form, these are very like the earlier files in the series: each comprises a bundle of papers about eight inches wide and about 10 or 11 inches long which have been sewn together at the head and rolled up. The 1617 Files have a fragment of an Early Modern parchment deed as an outer wrapper and the 1618 Files a plain piece of parchment serving this purpose. The files have been well kept in Latin in a variety of hands: sometimes the headings are written in a very neat formal hand and the proceedings added in a much more "everyday" one. The state of preservation is generally good, though there has been occasional crumbling due to chemical reaction of the ink with the paper.

As before, these are "full" records of court business, with the court sitting every three weeks or so and having leet sittings in spring and autumn. Some tenants' wills are recorded (in English): the Steward grants probate and a couple of notes in the margins show that a substantial fee of 6s 8d was charged for this. Sir John Savile had died, and the court was now held for Sir Henry Savile, Baronet, who was described as the "farmer" of Sir John's widow Margery, i.e. he had leased the manor (or a large part of it) from her, including the right to hold the court and take its profits.

Robert Lindley appears again as a juror. He was one of 13 jurors at the court of 16 April 1617 and one of 12 at the court of 13 November 1617 (spelling "Linleye" both times). On the second occasion, he and his fellow jurors presented an interesting case of a local man killed by two horses. This would mainly have been business for a Coroner's Court: I think it was recorded here because the Methley court liked to record local people's deaths and perhaps also to provide a record of what had become of the horses. Robert and his fellows declared that they were "deodands" (i.e. creatures or objects which had caused a death) and because of this they would have been taken by the officers of the Crown and used for charitable or religious purposes.

As before, two juries sat at each of the leet sessions, and in 1618 Robert "Linleye" sat on one of each: at the 9 April 1618 leet he was one of 14 men making up the jury "for the lord king" presenting matters which related to the law of the land rather than to breaches of manor custom. At the 8 October 1618 leet, he was one of 12 making up the jury "for the lord". He also served (same spelling of "Linleye") on two ordinary juries in that year, as one of 13 jurors at the court of 22 January 1618 and as one of 12 at the court of 4 August 1618.

As before, the files include lists of free and customary tenants and sub-tenants who owed suit of court every three weeks. There is one set of these lists in the 1617 Files and three in the 1618 Files - presumably there is one for each leet and one has been filed under the wrong year. Robert "Lynleye" ("Linleye" on 9 April 1618, "Lynley" on 8 October 1618) appears as a customary tenant on all three lists. As before, these lists have been used later as records of attendance and there are columns of tiny abbreviations marked by the names, but no dates are given. For what they are worth, Robert's three records read,

1) List at end of 1617 File - not clear which leet refers to.

"f.? [meaning not known], [three columns blank], excused?
[abbreviated as "ex."], came, [three columns blank],"

2) List at end of 1618 File - refers to a 1617 leet? "came, [blank], essoined, [blank],"

3) 9 April 1618 leet List. "came, essoined, came,"

4) 8 October 1618 leet List. "came, essoined, came."

No.1 has lots of blanks for the other tenants too, and Nos.2, 3 and 4 appear to cover only three or four sessions each. It is difficult to know just what to make of these incomplete lists but, coupled with the fact that Robert's name never appeared amongst the lists of c.30 people who paid to avoid the duty of attending the court, we can safely assume that he usually attended these frequent sittings in person.

These court files do not contain a single reference to Francis Lindley. The evidence on him was always thin - the fact that he never sat on a jury suggests that he did not have Richard's social standing - but he did appear regularly in the earlier lists of residents at Thorpsyde. The 1617 File does not contain such a list, but one was compiled for the 8 October 1618 Leet and Francis's name is not to be found, nor do any other Lindleys appear. This may be significant negative evidence that he had died or left the manor. Do you have any parish register evidence for his death?

A "new" family member makes an appearance, however. The files give the texts of several Wills per year: most bequests went to close relatives, but I always read through them in the chance of picking up Lindleys among the in-laws, people not stated to be relatives and witnesses. The Will of Margaret Toothill of Metheley [sic], widow, was recorded at the 22 January 1618 session. It had been made on 5 December 1617; most property was left to her two married and one unmarried daughters, with several bequests to people called Crabtree (which suggests that they were relatives), and one which reads,

"It(e)m, I give unto Marie Lindley, my servant, A gray coat, A smocke & a neckcher [sic]."

(Spellings are original: abbreviation expanded in round brackets.)

Manorial court records - even the best ones - always have far more information about men than about women, and many local women never appeared at all. (There is a nice book by Judith Bennett who looks at this problem and does her best to overcome it. Her period is medieval but it applies to Early Modern records as well.) A piece of information like this is useful, even though it doesn't say how Mary ("Marie" is just C17 spelling) fitted into the rest of the Lindley family.

"Servant" is a vague word: bear in mind that it may mean either domestic servant or servant in husbandry, and in the C17 it covered a wide spectrum of "domestics". Samuel Pepys tried to get one of his female relatives down to London to be a "servant" for his wife, which I think meant being a companion and helping with the sewing.

Houghton with Castleford Manor File of Surrenders, 1736-1746

I completed work on this large bundle of Surrenders (DB29/196), which is mis-dated "1836-1846" in the Leeds Archives catalogue. No further references to Lindleys were found.
Houghton with Castleford Manor Records, post-1780

I intended (as mentioned in my last letter) to continue working on the Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Books after 1782 (the date I got up to in June 1995), or, if there were no later ones, then to continue with post-1780 Call Books.

I have looked through the catalogue and there are no Houghton with Castleford Manor Court Books listed for later than 1782, no Call Books for later than 1779 (I read the last ones in 1997), no Files of Surrenders for later than 1781, and no Files of Verdicts for later than 1774. Thus 1782 marks the end of the Houghton with Castleford Manorial records at Leeds.

Houghton with Castleford Manor File of Verdicts, 1774

As I have not previously looked at any of the "Files of Verdicts", I took the opportunity to examine the latest one, that for 1774 (DB29/201).

This takes the same form as the Files of Surrenders - papers, each of which is a separate document, intended to be strung together at the head on a cord. The 1774 File turns out to contain only one Verdict, written in English on a sheet of paper about eight inches by 12 inches. It is the record of a presentment made by the jurors on 6 January 1774, with their signatures and marks.

The catalogue lists these Files of Verdicts for the years 1666-1678, 1698-1714, 1726-1735, and 1736-1756, after which there is a gap to the single 1774 File. There are no later ones.

Little time remained to order further documents (they cannot be ordered after 4pm), so rather than look at earlier Verdicts which might be of limited use, I spent the remainder of my time beginning work on the 1619 Methley Manorial Court File, as noted above.

To sum up, ten years on from the last records looked at, the Methley Manor Court Files have shown Robert Linleye again serving as a manor-court juror and being listed among the customary tenants, but he was not involved in any cases before the court. Francis Lindley has ceased to be listed as a resident in Thorpeside: the clerk seems to have taken a good deal of care in drawing up these lists, and I suspect that Francis had died or moved away.

Although it is brief, the reference to Marie Lindley is well worth having as women and servants are usually poorly-represented in manorial records.

The mid-C18 Houghton with Castleford Files of Surrenders has now been completed: it is a shame that they have again proved disappointing, with no further references to Lindleys.

I had not realised that the Leeds Archives catalogue lists no Houghton with Castleford Manorial records later than 1782. I will look through the Files of Verdicts if you think they would be worthwhile, but their dates overlap with the dates of the Court Books which I have read for you and I don't know whether they would contain much additional information.

Would you like me to start reading through the Rothwell or Whitkirk Manor Court records? It seems a while since I got information on these for you.

If you have information (from parish registers or other sources) indicating any dates when Lindleys at Methley died, I would be happy to look through the Court Files in the hope of coming across copies of their Wills. The Files extend down to November 1642 and are pretty complete so far as one can tell from the catalogue. I don't know what proportion of a C17 population actually made Wills, and the 6s 8d fee charged by the court may have put people off from having them registered, but it would be well worth looking. The 1617-1619 cases suggest that Will-making on the deathbed was still practised and that Wills were written up in the Court Files pretty quickly after death.

I am sorry it took so long to get to Leeds: I wasn't at all well in May and we have had problems trying to get the Society's conference programme going again. A good friend of mine is arranging a meeting for us at Stoke-on-Trent on the Census. Now it's just a question of finding speakers!

It looks as though things are going to be quiet here the first couple of weeks in July, so let me know if you would like to me to do another day at Leeds and I will go across then.

Leeds Archives have written to say that they have Houghton-cum-Castleford Draft Court Rolls from 1793-1842 and Court & Call Books from 1783-1813. These are listed under DB47 and DB67 rather than under DB29, which explains why I hadn't seen them in the catalogue. There are also nineteenth-century Houghton-cum-Castleford records listed under DB153, including Court Books extending down to 1930!

An after thought:

I thought you might like to have a copy of the Will of Richard Chafter or Chaster, 1553, which I transcribed for a client recently. In line 6 there is a "mathew lyndlay" and in line 7 a "Richard lyndlay". The text relating to the latter is a bit awkward: if the clerk has not omitted anything, then "Richard" is Mathew's mother, so it would have helped if he had written Richarda or one of the other female forms in use at the time.

It does not say where the testator lived, but the Dean of Pontefract granted probate and money was left to the poor people of "Wodkyrke" parish.

 I will look at both the 1793-1842 and 1783-1813 records when I can go to Leeds again, and start work on whichever looks the more promising.


Top                                                      Home                                                   Next


Copyright John Lindley 2004/13 All Rights reserved