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

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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.

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