Headington Court Roll of 1388



The Court Rolls of the Manor of Headington

Part 1 – A View of Frankpledge & The Headington Manor Court of 1388


On the seventh day (the octave) after feast of St George, on a Thursday[I], in the eleventh year of the reign of Richard II after the conquest, or on April 30th 1388, the Manor of Headington, near Oxford, held its six monthly View of Frankpledge, together with its three weekly Court Baron.

There is nothing exceptional about either the content of the Headington Court(s) of 1388 or indeed its survival – many other Court Rolls still exist from the 1240s, probably numbering in the low thousands. (Razi, Smith et al. 1996, p.5)

This is not the earliest surviving record of Headington[II], but perhaps the earliest record by Headington (Hedyndon), Wick (Vuke) and Marston (Mershton)[III] where we can gain a glimpse into the lives of ordinary people who lived in our community over six hundred years ago.

This article explains the cultural, historical background before examining the contents most of which would be otherwise incomprehensible to the modern reader after an interval 627 years[IV] even subsequent to modern English translation from medieval Latin.

Finally, it asks the question to what extent, Frankpledge, and the habits of mind so formed, affect us today.


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Headington Heritage www.headingtonheritage.org.uk - A View of Frankpledge 1388, Manorial Court Roll

Court Roll with Latin text

Headington Heritage www.headingtonheritage.org.uk - A View of Frankpledge 1388, Manorial Court Roll

Court Roll – Structure

Headington Heritage www.headingtonheritage.org.uk - A View of Frankpledge 1388, Manorial Court Roll

Court Roll – Original

See also the English and Latin Transcript of the the roll.

The Historical Background

The Black Death of 1348-50 had killed nearly half the population of England and recurred repeatedly notably in 1361–62, 1369, 1379–83, 1389–93 which allowed the surviving peasants to consolidate land and demand higher wages.

The ensuing conflict between an establishment attempting to reassert its feudal rights and return to the status quo ante, poll taxes, and the economic and political reality of a more mobile and powerful peasantry lead directly to the Peasants’ revolt of 1381, a mere seven years before, crushed by a combination of both courage bordering on the delusional, and deceit by a 14 year old Richard II.

His ensuing reign was marked by conflict with parliament, religious turmoil and financial distress due to an escalation of the hundred year war with France involving Scotland also, civil strife bordering on war cumulating in his probable effective deposition in 1387. By 1388, the affairs of the country had reached a nadir.   Far from the rather romantic images conveyed by Chaucer’s contemporary Canterbury Tales[V], the England of 1388 was more bubonic than bucolic.

The Frankpledge System

“The main function of the frankpledge system was to provide mutual surety: the good behaviour of an individual member of the community was the responsibility of that individual’s kin and neighbours. All males, both free and servile, over the age of 12 were expected to be members of frankpledge. Wealthy freemen were exempt, their status surety in itself for their good conduct; women and clergy were also exempt. Each frankpledge unit was based, in theory, upon a vill or township, and each unit was divided into a number of Tithings, or decennae, which, as their name implies, were intended to contain ten men. Each Tithing was presided over by one, or sometimes two, chief pledges. The chief pledges were responsible for the behaviour of those in their Tithing.”

(Razi, Smith et al. 1996, p.411)

Frankpledge represented a conflation of an ancient Saxon system of mutual surety with Norman modifications. (Morris 1910, p.112)

The essential purpose was to ensure communal responsibility for misdemeanours particularly where the individual, such as a villain, could not otherwise be sanctioned by seizure of property – in effect, the whole Tithing would be held accountable for the misdemeanours of any member.

By the mid fourteenth century, the Tithing system had to a large degree broken down in many parts, due to disruption from the Black Death, the ineffectiveness of its surety functions, and gradual transfer of policing and apprehension of offenders from all members of a Tithing to officials.

The Court Leet and Court Baron

The View of Frankpledge (Court Leet/Great Court, Curia Magna), was held every six months, once after Easter (as in this case) and once after Michaelmas, and required 12 Jurors to be legally constituted as per Magna Carta and held in an appointed place. (Coke 1650, p.61)

“Court Baron are incident to every manor but few have Leets” (ibid, p.60)

Originally it was a royal prerogative consisting of a Sheriff’s Tourn, but during a period of central weakness, some manors were granted the right to hold a Private View, (Morris 1910, p.135) as in the case of Headington, presumably, due to its royal ownership.

The “Tithing Penny” was collected from each member of a Tithing, and offences such as assault, nuisances, damage or breaches of the peace were presented by the Chief Pledges or Head-Tithingmen (decenarii) who represented the Tithing and traditionally formed the Jury.

The Assessors, (afferatores) decided the “amercement” (amercementum) with the amount written above the person’s name and in the left margin for ease of adding up the total. The offender was then considered “in mercy” (in misericordia) of the court.

A “pena” by contrast was frequently a penalty that would be imposed on failure to follow the instructions of the court. (Gooder 1961, p.79)

In principle, every member of a Tithing was compelled to attend, three non-attendances were permitted where excuses (essoinia) were permitted after which he was considered “in default” (fecit defaultam) and would have to pay a fine.

The Court Leet was often held in open air by the Lord’s Steward, for example on the village green, or in a fixed public place such as a large barn, and legally required 12 Jurors. (Fisher 1794, p.57)

The Court Baron (Curia Baronis, Pavia, Small Court) held in every manor every three weeks, also by the Lord’s Steward, (ibid. , p.61), was concerned with financial matters such as land transactions and disputes and “indeed is the chief prop and pillar of the manor than no sooner faileth but the manor falleth to the ground” (Coke 1650, p.57)

Pleas of debt, trespass, or breach of promise were heard between defendants and accusers, which could be resolved by a licence to agree (licencia concordia), which involved a fine payable to the Court.

All freemen (the homage) in the manor owed suit to Court Baron.

The Manor of Headington

The Manor of Headington was a royal manor since Saxon times.   This Court Roll confirms (Evans 1928) that its writ ran to the vills of Wick, Headington and Marston as far as St John’s Hospital (Wood 1899, Vol II, p.529) formerly on the current site of Magdalen College just before the East Gate of Oxford, and probably to the North Gate Hundred, to the immediate north of Oxford.

Donnebrok (l.5) (Donnebrook, or ‘Don Brook, Headington Brook, or ‘Edenebroke) is Bayswater Brook near the future Barton Park development.[VI] (Roberts 1964, p.64) Possibly Danesbrook, which is a tributary, is a corruption the original name.

The Alde (see below), ran from the north to south, running essentially on the same course as Castle Mill stream, past Oxford Castle, after which it turned east, became Aldwere to join the city wall at the Priory of St Frideswide in modern St Aldates where Christchurch now stands. (Wigram 1896a, map)

The reach of the Alde mentioned (Iine l.21) may well have been north of modern Worchester College in the North Gate Hundred, [VII] the jurisdiction of which was to be subject to dispute between the expanding University and Headington Manor. (Evans 1928, p.173)

The manor was alienated from the Crown to a succession of owners from 1317, cumulating in 1375 with three heirs to Sir Richard d’Amory – his sister Elizabeth, Roger Colynge, husband of another, and John de Annesly, who had married a daughter of another sister, at a rent of £81 per annum.

This was “extraordinarily high” (ibid, p.172), and in 1379 an order, subsequently rescinded, of distraint or distress was issued against all men of the manor which would have enabled seizure of their property for payment. Finally, in 1399, the manor lapsed to the crown for non-payment of rent.

The Headington Courts – Overview

The Court Roll consists of the View (visus), (RED), followed by the Court Baron (GREEN), held on the same day. (Roll Structure image link in Instructions above)

The two titles, and the common ending (PURPLE) “sum of the profits of the View and Court” indicate clearly these were regarded as separate, even if they shared the same Lord(s), Steward, Assessors and probably Jury.

The date is typically expressed by regnal year, religious feast and Octave, which was eight days including the actual feast day, so seven days afterwards on a Thursday.

At the View, the Head-Tithingmen (decanarii or Chief Pledges) present the offences to the Jury.

The twelve man Jury has been sworn in, and boxed, in groups of four (l.28) (Stuart 1992, p.2) as shown by the three columns of names.

Two, or three of their number are Assessors, William atte Miller, the Chief Assessor, is listed as is customary, first in the juror list, (l.28) Mark Woburn and Thomas Strong.[VIII] (l.46rm)

The three columns of four Jurors do not correlate to the three vills, although the middle group is overrepresented in Headington. The Lord had to ensure a minimum of twelve Chief Pledges/Jurors in order to maintain his feudal right to a View, regardless of the number of Tithings.

The View is divided into the three Vills of Wick, Headington and Marston (RED boxed) each with a corresponding Tithing, Wick and Barton having one Chief Pledge each, and the larger Headington and Marston having two each – these latter each having sections for the presentments of the Ale Tasters.

The Curia Baron,(GREEN) section consists of disputes, most prominently trespass.   Headington may have had a classic three or four field (eg: Brockholes, Quarry and South) strip farming Champion system, and transgression over unclearly marked boundaries appears frequent.

In the election section, a Constable, responsible for maintaining stocks and means of punishment and dealing with vagabonds and other duties gives notice, and an Ale Taster (see below) is elected for Marston.

Line 45 confirms this court was held three weekly, in this case on the same day as the six monthly Court Leet.

The site of the probably 17th century “The Court” near the village pound and backing on the village green on the site of Laurel Farm Close is a possible location. (See Malchair Article[IX])

The Headington View – The Offences

The Assize of Clarendon 1166

Many are reported for “receiving” guests in their dwellings and fined.

This appears to be a very strict interpretation of the Assize Of Clarendon (1166) [X], which was aimed mainly as fugitives from justice and vagabonds.

  1. And the lord king forbids that any waif, that is vagabond or unknown person, shall be entertained anywhere except in the burgh, and there he shall not be entertained more than a night, unless he become ill there, or his horse, so that he can show an evident essoin
  2. And if he shall have been there more than one night, he shall be taken and held until his lord shall come to pledge him, or until he himself shall procure safe pledges; and he likewise shall be taken who shall have entertained him.

This offence appears rare in Court Rolls, but amercements paid by townships that have received men not in a local Tithing are documented. (Morris 1910, p.162)

The Assize of Beer and Ale (Assisa panis et cervisiae)

The Assize of Beer and Ale (1266) [XI] was the first act to regulate the price, weight and quality of bread and beer, supervised by the Ale Tasters, (Liquor Licencing Officials) or (tastatores/atastatores in this roll)

Twenty persons were fined for breaches at Headington (12 persons) and Marston (8 persons) including the Regrator, who sold the beer.

This offence appears commonly in rolls of this period.

Ditches And The King’s Highway

In common with most Views of this period offences such as diverting the Donnebrook (l.5), raising a ditch[XII] on the King’s highway, not maintaining ditches near Harold’s Lane (l.10) and on the river Alde (l.21), and Croft [XIII] and Ryigges Ditch (l.20) are common.

Raising a Hue and A Cry and Assault

A “Hue and Cry” is described in the Statute of Winchester (1285)[XIV] as:

“they shall levy hue and cry upon them, and such as keep the watch shall follow them with all the town and the towns near, with hue and cry from town to town, until that they be taken and delivered to the sheriff as before is said; and for the arrestments of such strangers none shall be punished.

Nicholas justly raises a “Hue and Cry” against Roger for assaulting him and drawing blood. (l.18)

Raising a “Hue and a Cry” was dangerous, as, if unjust, a fine could be imposed.


The failure of the Peasant’s Revolt only nine years before, may have been a bitter disappointment to many.

A weak economy, a king effectively deposed, and the heavy exactions both of the state and a Lord(s) attempting, and ultimately failing, to raise £81 a year in rent payable to the King allow us to speculate that Headington was a thoroughly miserable place to be in 1388.

Weighed against this is a greater freedom and economic wealth the Black Death had brought to those who had survived, and the clear evidence in the roll of a large number of guests, possibly an indicator of economic activity such as quarrying or mining, which allows a tentative conclusion that Headington, at least relative to other parts, was economically well off.

Frankpledge was nasty system where one in ten of your neighbours, a Chief Pledge, had, under oath, to report each and every misdemeanour, and would be seeking either personal enrichment through amercements or conversely avoidance of the same:

“The Tithing pursued its associate to avoid paying a fine; the capital pledge presented in court the offences of his neighbors for the same motive; and the whole community quickly reported the person who received a stranger on the manor, lest the newcomer commit an offence”

It was “nothing less than a means of exploiting the peasants in the name of public peace” (Morris 1910, p.163)“, “frankpledge was an institution that helped to keep alive medieval local exclusiveness and to foster a narrow spirit of local selfishness. The whole system was based on human selfishness.” (ibid., p.165)

It is dangerous to interpret the concluding phrase “sum of the profits of the view and court” (l.50) too literally across both language and time, yet perhaps the tourne de phrase is not entirely coincidental.

The relationship between the Headington Courts is clearly a hybrid between the classic “View” and Court Baron and an evolution towards a system recognisable today. It appears both have jurisdiction over all, or most inhabitants of the manor.

Very probably, the Headington Jury members were drawn from freeholders and men of higher status than the Head-Tithingmen or Chief Pledges, (Morris 1910, p.125, p.145) yet the later report the former to themselves for offences. This differs to the “classic” Frankpledge system described in the section above. Chief Pledge obligations could be concomitant with land holdings or by election (Razi, Smith et al. 1996, p.119)

The exact relationship of the Jury to the Tithings and its composition is difficult to define, however the Head-Tithingmen and Jury members are wholly separate groups, possibly respectively servile and free:

the multiplicity of rural experience (not to mention of legal interpretation and custom) makes the search for a typicalJury a foolhardy one. However, too little remains known about the manorial juries of medieval England..”

(Larson 2010, p.678)

To which can be added the legal evolution wrought over centuries.

The Jury members are local men, as evinced by some of their number in effect finding themselves guilty of the offences and involvement in pleas of trespass both as defendants and plaintiffs.

It may seem strange that office holders and Jury members are themselves reported for “offences”, for example, John Mayfly, Ale Taster reports himself for committing the very offence he is charged to police, brewing.

However “receiving” and “brewing” were cavalier “crimes” which were, in effect, a form of licencing a power abused by the Lord to raise revenue and represent the overwhelming majority of cases and fines imposed.

Office Holder Office Where Offence
John Gilbert Jury Marston Brewing
Henry Colles Jury Barton Receiving
Robert Woburn Jury Headington Brewing
John Chaplain (??) Jury Headington Brewing
John Bennett Jury Headington Receiving
John Mayfly Ale Taster Headington Brewing
Alexander Heryet Head-Tithingman/Barton Headington Brewing

Table: Office Holders and Offences Committed

The Manor is in effect not only imposing a hotel or bedroom tax [XV] for receiving guests in their hovels, but even the Master of St John’s Hospital possibly for patients under its care.

“..an infraction of the assize of bread and beer, the payment of a small semiannual amercement really served as a license..[and] ..was undoubtedly a corresponding miscarriage of justice”

(Morris 1910, p.157)

As exploitive as the system already was, the Lord was attempting, and ultimately failing, to pay an exorbitant rent to the King of £81 a year.

The exactions of the Lord are clear, the quid pro quo is not.   It is not clear, beyond maintaining law and order, what service the Lord did his tenants.

At this period, the collective responsibility element integral to Frankpledge was breaking down, however the entire Tithing of Barton will have to pay an exorbitant fine of 40 d (pena) if the diverted Donnebrok (Bayswater Brook) is not repaired or possibly the perpetrator identified.

After John Dosyer is reported absent in the View (l.7), in the Court Baron (l.46 – 48), it is noted he reported already attached, whereby his goods or even person can be apprehended, and both his property, and those of his Pledges are subject to Distraint or placed under the control of the court, and may be seized for non-payment. None of these however, are Capital Pledges or Head-Tithingmen, and the surety offered appears little different to that of a loan guarantor of today.

In view of both their social and religious status it is notable that these Courts impose amercements on the Master of St John’s Hospital[XVI] (receiving, blocking a drain, (l.21)) and the Prior of St Frideswide’s[XVII] raising a ditch/embankment (l.21) and hear a claim of trespass against the Vicar of Headington (l.31) as defendant.   In the case of St John’s, it seems to have been specifically granted freedom from such obligations (Wood 1899, Vol II, p.522) as more generally had religious persons and institutions.

This was a man’s world, the Tithings were composed of men acting as heads of households, as are all the office holders. Of the slightly less than 100 protagonists named, only two women, or 2% of the total appear. One, Johanna Fabian (l.24), appears as an illegal brewer [XVIII] and another, Agnes Spicer puts a man “in her place,” to represent her (l.49). Johanna cannot complain of unequal treatment however, she fined the same as her co-defendants.

The names tell us a little, John Benham, may have come from the village in Berkshire (McKinley 1977, p.103), Robert Woburn from the abbey town in Bedfordshire. John Dosyer’s (Basket Maker) (ibid, p.154) family is local, recorded in Oxford and rural areas up until this period.   Thomas Bastard’s name needs little explanation, Bastard’s Grove is marked on a reconstructed map north east of Wick. (Evans 1928, p.161)

William Clockmaker (l.9) is of interest, simply as there were not many clocks to be made in fourteenth century England. As he was a guest at St John’s near Oxford, perhaps he was undertaking a particular commission for an ecclesiastical building.

In principle, it should be possible to estimate population by simply multiplying the number of Head-Tithingmen by ten for the number of households, and, say six per household.

It is unlikely Wick would have had as many as ten households, even in an economy that was more agricultural than today, similarly, only twenty households each for Marston and Headington seems slightly small. Widely different Tithing sizes have been reported, particularly in the twilight years of the Frankpledge system. (Crowleye 1975, p.5)

We can therefore very tentatively estimate the total population at (4 Chief Pledges * 10 households *4- 6 persons per household) + others of too high a social status to be entithed, say 60, so very approximately 200 – 400 persons altogether.

Some business of the Courts is noticeably absent, in the case of the View, there is no section for entithings, either as the practice was dying out at this period, or simply as this occurred at the other biannual session at Michaelmas. In the case of the Court Baron, the cases are limited to disputes, there are no land transactions, such as “passing the rod” from copyhold tenant to tenant. (Stuart 1992, p.4)

The Document and Language

The roll is written in cat-sat-on-the-mat or anglicised Medieval Latin.

An inflective language where word order is less important than the endings of the words, a Roman could say “cat mat sat,” or more emphatically “mat, cat sat” but “the cat sat on the mat” even if grammatically correct, would have left him wondering if he had walked onto the set of Plautus’s long lost play “’alve, ’alve” or “’ello, ‘ello” reading the Latin used nearly a thousand years after the withdrawal from Britain traditionally in 410 A.D. Backwards Latin did not necessarily involve black magic in medieval England.

Medieval contraction, suspension and abbreviation would shame even the most dedicated user of social media and is very heavily used as is common in the period, however its ostensible purpose of saving space is at odds with the large gaps and extensive margination.

The scribe, in contrast to the other protagonists, appears neither local nor particularly competent. Frequent crossing out of names indicates unfamiliarity either with the names or possibly even the local accent, some sentences seem to just peter out, there is much addition and annotation.

The quality is poor, even very poor – in contrast to many rolls of this period with mellifluous phraseology and decorative styles there is an almost complete absence of flourishes or decoration.

Very regrettably we do not hear the actual voices of the participants. Perhaps this extract from the Miller’s Tale will give a flavour of contemporary Middle English:

Whylom ther was dwellinge at Oxenford..This Nicholas was risen for to pisse,And thoghte he wolde amenden al the Iape,He sholde kisse his ers er that he scape.And up the windowe dide he hastily,And out his ers he putteth privelyOver the buttok, to the haunche-bon;And ther-with spak this clerk, this Absolon,‘Spek, swete brid, I noot nat wher thou art.’This Nicholas anon leet flee a fart,As greet as it had been a thonder-dent,That with the strook he was almost y-blent;And he was redy with his iren hoot,And Nicholas amidde the ers he smoot.Of gooth the skin an hande-brede aboute,The hole culter brende so his toute,And for the smert he wende for to dye.As he were wood, for wo he gan to crye—Help! water! water! help, for goddes herte!’ Whylom was living in Oxford…This Nicholas had risen for a piss,And thought that it would carry on the japeTo have his arse kissed by this jack-a-nape.And so he opened window hastily,And put his arse out thereat, quietly,Over the buttocks, showing the whole bum;And thereto said this clerk, this Absalom,“O speak, sweet bird, I know not where thou art.”This Nicholas just then let fly a fartAs loud as it had been a thunder-clap,And well-nigh blinded Absalom, poor chap;But he was ready with his iron hotAnd Nicholas right in the arse he got.Off went the skin a hand’s-breadth broad, about,The coulter burned his bottom so, throughout,That for the pain he thought that he should die.And like one mad he started in to cry,“help ! Water! Water! For God’s dear heart!” 


Serua” or “Serva” is pronounced” ser-w-a” in contemporary Latin pronunciation, so “Vuke”, for the modern hamlet or farm of Wick near Barton is phonetic.


Why should we concern ourselves in 2015 with the Headington Court of 1388? What relevance does it have to us?

The Tithing and Frankpledge system, although founded on tradition, was very much the result of conscious decision on the part of many rulers over a protracted period of many centuries to enforce public order. The fundamental question remains, is to what extent does it influence us today?

Did the imposition, at least in part by a foreign elite of Norman invaders, of enforced communal responsibility for the actions of others, increase our sense of community and civic mindedness to the extent we would rather report the infractions of our neighbours and relatives to the authorities rather than find amicable resolution, thereby engendering mutual distrust and antipathy, or create a society that valued principles and law over personal ties creating a fairer society, or produce generations of sneaks and toddies with no thought of fraternity and shared common interest?

The very first, and shortest, presentment, from Wick “all is well” indicates at least one community may have valued personal relationships and family over legal niceties.

By submitting to the parlous, even usurped legal authority of the Lord of the Manor did we create a society that accepts unfairness and inequality, thereby hindering the development of a fair, just and equitable society, or by doing so did we barter fairness for practicality, and a slower but more peaceful evolution of society with a respect for the law however imperfect, largely devoid of the revolutions and destruction of others?

Whether Frankpledge, and the habits of mind so formed, has ultimately affected us for good or ill, or in which proportion, is beyond the scope of this article or expertise of the author, it is therefore left as it is traditionally expressed “an exercise for the interested reader


COKE, E.,Sir, 1650. The compleat copy-holder electronic resource] : wherein is contained a learned discourse of the antiquity and nature of mannors and copy-holds, being a guide and direction for surrenders, presentments, admittances, forfeitures, customes, &c. London: London : Printed for W. Lee and D. Pakeman ..

CROWLEYE, D.A., 1975. The Later History of Frankpledge. Historical Research, 48(117), pp. 1-15.

EVANS, E., 1928. The manor of Headington. Shipston-on-Stour: Shipston-on-Stour : the Kings Stone Press.

FISHER, R.B., 1794. A practical treatise on copyhold tenure, with the methods of holding courts leet, court baron, and other courts: and an appendix, containing forms of entries on court rolls, and minute books; … By Richard Barnard Fisher, .. London: London : printed by A. Strahan and W. Woodfall, for J. Butterworth.

GOODER, E.A., 1961. Latin for local history : an introduction. London: London : Longman.

LARSON, P.L., 2010. Village Voice or Village Oligarchy?: The Jurors of the Durham Halmote Court, 1349 to 1424. Law and History Review, 28(3), pp. 675-709.

LATHAM, R.E., 1999. Revised medieval Latin word-list from British and Irish sources. London: London : Published for the British Academy by the Oxford University Press.

MCKINLEY, R.A.(., 1977. The surnames of Oxfordshire. Oxford: Oxford : Leopard’s Head.

MORRIS, W.A., 1875-1946, 1910. The frankpledge system, electronic resource]. New York ; London: New York ; London : Longmans, Green.

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  1. FRIDESWIDE’S MONASTERY., 1896a. The cartulary of the Monastery of St. Frideswide at Oxford  – General and City Charters. Oxford: Oxford : Printed for the Oxford Historical Society at the Clarendon Press.

STUART, D., 1995. Latin for local and family historians : a beginner’s guide. Chichester, West Sussex: Chichester, West Sussex : Phillimore.

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The very substantial logistical help of the University of Oxford and its staff is very gratefully acknowledged, in particular, attendance at a Palaeography Course.

Clearly, this help does not imply endorsement of either the article or content of the Headington Heritage web site.

Permission to use images without charge by Oxford University is yet again, very gratefully received.

I am indebted as ever to Stephanie Jenkins’s work in particular for background information:


All images presented here were independently researched and sourced.

Last but not least to the author’s wife endured the project with remarkable aplomb.

Images & Important Copyright

The manuscript image is copyright as marked:

Copyright: The Bodleian Libraries, The University of Oxford. Shelfmark: MSS. Rolls. Oxon 120 may NOT be reproduced without its permission.

All other content is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA ( http://bit.ly/YLfYPW ) by Headington Heritage.

About The Author

The author has no academic status or qualifications in history and no other help has been received, therefore all misinterpretations and erroneous conclusions remain his alone. This is the first attempt at Latin translation outside of a classroom – any corrections to material will be gratefully received and acknowledged.


Headington Heritage


email   : headingheritage@outlook.com

Twitter : @headingheritage

Translation Notes

Angle brackets such as [con][tra] have been used to expand abbreviation, suspension and contraction marks – these are well documented in standard Palaeography texts, but are frequently nonetheless ambiguous. Standard curved brackets are used where words have been assumed.

Spelling and abbreviation expansion has been done on a case by case basis, using the standard Latin spelling and endings although this may not have been intended, except where a misspelling is identifiable in the Medieval Word List (Latham 1999)  For example “hutesium” or hue and cry, is spelt as “outhes[ium]” and “tastator” (Ale Taster) is “atastator

For example, recept[abbr] may have meant “recepta”, not “recepit” but the latter is correct.   A native English speaker may well think “received” is the same whether used adjectively, actively or passively, although it most certainly is not in Latin.

Item pres[entat/presentum]” means “likewise presents or presented” some authors expand as “Item presentum [est]”, but as there is no “n” or “m” expansion mark the former is used.

Generally, where declinable, case endings have been expanded from contraction marks, such as Latinised Christian names which have known declensions.   Surnames and place names are not declineable so abbreviations are not expanded except occasionally when it assists in the sense by identifying whether the person is doing (nominative) or being done to (other cases)

Names are translated to their nearest modern English equivalents, for example “wyuet” is changed to Wyatt.

“lm” and “rm” stand for left and right margins.

Generally little effort has been made to render each fine amount exactly correct, also the “d” with the contraction mark has not been expanded to “denarii

The “MS Roll – With Annotated Latin Transcription” was digitally manipulated by increasing contrast and darkening, and applying other treatments in different areas, this worked well at the top of the document but less so at the base.


Headington Manor Court Rolls, Medieval Court Rolls, Latin Palaeography, Medieval Court Rolls, Manorial Court Rolls, Medieval View of Frankpledge, Court Magna, Court Pavia, Curia Baron, Hue and Cry, Medieval Oxford Manorial Court Records


Initial Release : 1.0 St George’s Day, 23/04/3015


[I] It was a Thursday, See http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/

[II] There is one much smaller roll nine years earlier

[III] Cherwell is pronounced “Chaarwell” but Mershton (Marsh Town) became Marston which is regrettable

[IV][IV] A number of calendar changes and date shifts make this inexact

[V] Probably started in 1392

[VI] Donnebrook sounds like a golf course, but could not be worse than “Barton Park”

[VII] The southern boundary is still marked by a boundary stone on Parks Road opposite Trinity College

[VIII] This is indistinct but it appears Thomas Strong is listed as an Assessor

[IX] See following Malchair article for the location at http://headingtonheritage.org/c18-headington-by-malchair/

[X] See following for full text http://avalon.law.yale.edu/medieval/assizecl.asp

[XI] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assize_of_Bread_and_Ale

[XII] Raising a ditch is not as odd as it seems, it is comprised of a hole + displaced earth to form the embankment

[XIII] A croft is an enclosed area of cultivated land near a dwelling, it is unlikely to be related to The Croft or Croft Road

[XIV] For text see http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Statute_of_Winchester

[XV] This offence seems quite rare, the author is not as certain of interpretation as with others

[XVI] The Master of St John’s was Frater Johannes Iddebury see (Wood 1899, Vol II, p.529)

[XVII]The Prior of St Frideswide was John Dodeford (St. Frideswide’s Monastery. 1896a, Vol 1, xiv)

[XVIII] See (Stuart 1992, p.4) bread and ale offences were “usually women”

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