MEMBERSHIP Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval monasteries Eynsham mesne boroughs topography town-founding charters property development rental burgage tenure urban design planted towns recruitment burgesses occupations economy market competition administration moot court Witney
Subject: An urban extension to an existing community
Original source: Oxford University, Christ Church Library and archives; 1. D&C vi.a.2, f.21v; 2. ?, ff. 42r-45r
Transcription in: H.E. Salter, ed.. The Cartulary of the Abbey of Eynsham, Oxford Historical Society, vols 49 and 51 (1907-08), vol.1, 60-61, vol. 2, 50-56.
Original language: Latin
Location: Eynsham
Date: 13th and 14th centuries


1. Charter concerning the new land in Eynsham [1215]

Adam, by the grace of God, abbot of Eynsham and the monks of the same to all sons of Holy Mother Church to whose attention this document shall come, greetings. Know that we, for the benefit and advantage of our house, and at the advice of our friends, have made available for rental all the land, formerly of our demesne, that lies beyond the vill of Eynsham – that is, between that vill and the south side of the highway leading to the bridge to Cassington; and similarly all that land, formerly of our demesne, on the north side of the road, extending for a distance of twenty perches to the north. The [rental] terms are that anyone who becomes tenant of an acre of that land is to pay us four shillings annually – viz. 12d. at Christmas [25 December], 12d. at the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin [25 March], 12d. at the Nativity of St. John the Baptist [24 June], and 12d. at Michaelmas [29 September]; he who becomes tenant of three-quarters of an acre is to pay us three shillings at the stated due dates; he who becomes tenant of half an acre is to pay us two shillings at the same dates; and he who becomes tenant of a quarter [acre] is to pay us the stated dates.

Whoever takes up any unit of those lands for the aforesaid payments is to hold it, without any gainsay, by hereditary right, he and his heirs, in perpetuity – both [with access] to road or lane, and [with right] to ingress and egress, from the boundaries of the land assigned – freely and quit of all service or secular payment due us. They also are to be permanently quit and free from all foreign service, as much as is our demesne in Eynsham. If tenants should wish to give or sell their tenement to any lay person, they may do so freely, so long as the seller gives us 2d. and the buyer 4d. as an acknowledgement of [it being within] our fiefdom.

These [tenants] may also have a provost whom they may freely elect from their own number, and who is to swear to be faithful to themselves and to ourselves. If anyone commits a wrong, or has a complaint, against someone else in regard to his tenement, the matter is to be tried by a court convened in regard to that property. Whoever is found at fault is to pay an amercement to us commensurate to the gravity of his offence, by the view of his peers; however, amercements may not exceed 10 shillings. Should it happen that any of these burgesses dies having made provision for the disposal of his possessions that are within this fief, it [his will] shall hold good; but if instead he dies without having made provision, his goods shall be divided into three parts: one part for his children, another for his wife, and a third to be [expended] for [the good of] his soul by his closest relatives.

We grant and confirm to them these liberties, along with all good customs we could possibly give them, based on the best and freest held by the burgesses of Oxford, or others in the county of Oxford. In testimony of which we have delivered, to the community of those who shall hold these tenements, this charter, to which an impression of our seal is appended. Enacted in 1215, witnessed by the chapter.

2. [Survey, 1366, of ] Eynsham New Land

Rents of tenements and lands of the New Land, measured by Abbot Geoffrey, 1366.

John de Wygyntone holds one cottage with croft opposite the Hythe Croft, measuring 2 perches 5 feet at the end next to the highway and 3 perches at the other end, while along the side it measures 19½ perches; it thus comprises [an area of] 1 rood, 11 perches, 3 quarters of a perch, 1 foot, 3 parts of a foot, 2 inches.
Total rent 15d., a farthing, half a farthing, a quarter farthing.

Henry Halewy holds 1 cottage with croft and it measures 2 perches 4 feet at the west end, and at 2¼ perches 2 feet at the other end next to the highway, while along the side 20½ perches 2 feet; it thus comprises 1 rood, 7 perches, three-quarters of a perch, half a foot, 4 inches less a quarter of a grain.
Total rent 14 d., a farthing, a quarter farthing.

Thomas Frankeleyn holds 1 cottage with croft and it measures 2 perches 2 feet at the end next to the highway, and 2 perches 3 feet at the other end, while along the side 20 perches, one half [perch], 1 foot; it thus comprises 1 rood, 4 perches, half a perch, 1 foot, 1 inch.
Total rent 13¼d.

Henry Halewy holds one tenement without a croft and it measures 10½ perches at the end next to the highway, and half a perch at the other end, while along the right side 17 perches; it thus comprises half an acre, 13½ perches.
Total rent 2s. 4d.

William Sclatter holds 1 tenement with croft and it measures 7½ perches at the northern end next to the highway, and 8¼ perches 3 feet at the lower end, while one side next to the highway is 21 perches and the other side 20¼ perches; it thus comprises 1 acre, 5 perches, a quarter perch, 2 feet, 2 inches.
Total rent 4s.1½d, a quarter farthing.

John Vyncent holds one tenement with croft measuring 6¼ perches at the end by the highway, and 6 perches 3 feet at the other end, while along the side 20¼ perches; it thus comprises half an acre, 1 rood, 6 perches, half a perch, a quarter perch, half a foot, a quarter foot, 2 inches, 1 grain.
Total rent 3s.1¾d, half a farthing, a quarter farthing.

Joan atte Hulle holds one tenement with croft measuring 4¼ perches at the end next to the highway, and 4 perches 3 feet at the other end, while along one side 21 perches 3 feet, and along the other side 20¾ perches; it thus comprises half an acre, 9 perches, 6½ feet, 3 inches.
Total rent 2s. 2¾d.

John Vyncent holds another tenement with croft measuring 3¼ perches 1 foot at the end next to the highway, and 3½ perches 2 feet at the other end, while along the side 21½ perches 3 feet; it thus comprises half an acre, 4 perches, 2¼ feet, 1 inch.
Total rent 2s. 1¾d., a quarter farthing.

William Sclatter holds another tenement with croft measuring 1½ perches, 2 feet next to the highway, and 2½ perches at the other end, while along the side 27 perches; it thus comprises 1 rood 15 perches 3½ feet 1 inch.
Total rent 16½d., half a farthing.

John atte Halle holds one cottage with croft measuring 2½ perches 2 feet at the end next to the highway, and 2¼ perches at the other end, while along the side 27 perches. It thus comprises 1½ roods, 5½ perches, 5 feet.
Total rent 19½d., half a farthing. Of which half a farthing of rent is for a plot not built on, which John Vyncent holds beside the highway, being a rectangle comprising in itself half a perch, 1 foot.

Total acreage of the aforesaid: 5 acres, half a rood, 5¼ perches, half a foot, a quarter foot, and 1 inch less a quarter grain.
Total rent of the aforesaid: 20s. 6½d, half a farthing, a quarter farthing.

The northern part

Richard Lynde holds a plot only partly built on, with croft, measuring 5 perches 3 feet at the end facing the highway, and measuring five perches at the end facing Cattesbrayne, while along the side it measures 22 perches, 1¾ feet. Of which Edith Marche holds a tenement built on, being 2 perches at the end facing the highway and 1¾ perches at the other, while in length it is 12¾ perches. It thus comprises half a rood, 5¼ perches, 2½ feet, 2 inches, half a grain.
Total rent 2s. 9½d., of which Edith [pays] 7½d., a quarter farthing.

Dionisia Irlonde holds a tenement with croft measuring 6½ perches 1 foot at the end next to the highway, and 4 perches at the other end, while it is 21 perches in length; it thus comprises half an acre, half a rood, 7&190; perches, 3¼ feet, 1 inch, half a grain. Of which John Bamptone holds 17½ perches in a tenement built on, with curtilage adjacent.
Total rent: 2s. 7¼d., a quarter farthing, of which John Bamptone [pays] 5¼d..

Thomas Schermon holds 1 tenement known as the hall, measuring 7 perches 3 feet at the end facing the highway, and 7 perches less 1 foot at the other end, while it measures 7 perches in length; it thus comprises, with curtilage, 1 rood, 9 perches, 7 feet. One end of the croft of the same measures 7¾ perches, the other end measures 7 perches 2 feet, while it measures 13 perches 3 feet in length; thus the croft is half an acre, 19 perches, 5¾ feet.
Total rent of tenement and croft 3s. 8½d.

William Sclatter holds 1 tenement with croft, of which the tenement measures 3½ perches at the end by the highway, and 3¼ perches at the other end, while in length 7½ perches. The tenement with curtilage thus comprises 25¼ perches, 1 foot less three-quarters of a grain. That croft measures 4 perches at one end, and 4 perches 23 feet at the other end, while it measures 12½ perches 3 feet in length; thus the croft is 1 rood, 12 perches, 4 feet.
Total rent 23d., a quarter farthing.

Avicia Lavyntone holds 1 tenement with croft measuring 2 perches less 1 foot at the end next to the highway, and 1½ perches at the other end, while in length 7¼ perches 3 feet; the tenement with curtilage thus comprises 14¼ perches, 1¾ feet, 3 inches. The croft measures 2 perches at one end, and 2 perches 2 feet at the other end, while measuring 13 perches in length. The croft is thus 26¾ perches, 1¼feet, 1 grain.
Total rent 12d. farthing.

Walter Ryng holds 1 tenement with croft, one end of which measures 2 perches 3 feet facing the highway, 3 perches at the other end, 7¼ perches three feet in length; it thus comprises 19¾ perches, 3 feet less one inch. Its croft measures 2 perches 2 feet at one end, 2 perches 1 foot at the other end. The croft thus has 27¾ perches, 2 feet, 3 inches.
Total rent [14¼d.]

John Edward holds 1 cottage without croft measuring 1¾ perches 1 foot towards the highway, and 1½ perches at the other end, while 7 perches 2 feet in length; it comprises 12 perches 1½ feet, 2 inches.
Total rent 3½d.

Henry Deyesone holds one messuage with croft, of which the messuage measures 2¼ perches 2 feet beside the highway, 2¾ perches at the other [end], and measures 7 perches in length; thus the messuage with croft comprises 17¾ perches, 3 feet, 1 inch, 1 grain. The croft measures 4 perches 2 feet at one end, 4 perches at the other end, 13 perches in length; the croft is thus 1 rood, 12¾ perches, 1¼feet, 1 grain.
Total rent 21½d.

Nicholas Colyns of an ancient holding.

Elena Riches holds one tenement with croft, of which the tenement measures 6 perches less one foot at the end beside the highway, and 5½ perches 3 feet at the other end, while 7½ perches in length; the tenement with curtilage thus comprises 39¾ perches, 1½ feet, 2 inches. The croft measures 5 perches 2 feet at one end, and 5 perches 1 foot at the other end, while measuring 13 perches 3 feet in length; the croft is thus 1 rood, 17½ perches, less one inch.
Total rent 2s.8d, a quarter farthing.

Robert le Strynger holds one tenement [with] croft measuring 5 perches by the highway, and four perches 5 feet at the other end, 20½ perches 3 feet along one side, 19&!89; perches along the other side; it thus comprises half an acre, 13 perches, 2¾ feet 2 inches.
Total rent 2s. 3¾d., half a farthing.

Total acreage of this part: 4½ acres, 1½ roods, 11 perches, a quarter foot, 1 inch, ¾ grain.
Total rents: 19s. 8d.

The part across from Elena Riches [tenement]

William Jakkes holds a croft formerly of Richard's lady Elena, and it measures 30½ perches at the east end facing the Hythe Croft, 22 perches at the opposite end, 21½ perches along the northern side next to the highway, 21 perches along the opposite, southern, side; it thus comprises, hedges included, 3 acres, 1½ roods, 18¾ perches, 1 foot, 1 inch. In that croft, on the south side, is an area planted with trees, measuring 5½ perches on the side facing the Hythe Croft, 3½ perches at the other end, and 12 perches in length; it thus comprises 1 rood 14 perches.
Total rent 15s. 3¾d., a quarter farthing.

There is one plot there, at the end of that croft, which is in the hands of the lord, and it measures 5 perches at the end facing the highway, 4 perches at the other end, and 21 perches in length; it thus comprises in all half an acre, 14½ perches.
Total rent 2s. 4¼d.

Isabella Bollynge holds one tenement with croft measuring 2½ perches 2 feet at the end beside the highway, 2½ perches at the other end; it thus comprises 1 rood 12½ perches, and one foot less a grain.
Total rent 15¾d.

William le Baker holds one tenement with croft measuring 4 perches 2½ feet at the end beside the highway, and 3½ perches 2 feet at the other end, while 20½ perches in length; It thus comprises 1½ roods, 19¾ perches, 1 foot, 3 inches.
Total rent 23¾d., a quarter farthing.

John Bamptone holds a tenement with croft measuring 3½ perches 2 feet at the end next to the highway, and 4 perches 1 foot at the other end, while 20¼ perches in length; it thus comprises 1½ roods, 19 perches, 4¾ feet, 1 grain.
Total rent 23½d., half a farthing.

Richard Belgrave holds a tenement with croft measuring 5 perches at the end next to the highway, and 4¼ perches at the other end, while 21 and five-eighths perches in length; it thus comprises half an acre, 19½ perches, 3½ feet less a grain. Of which there is, at the foot of the croft across from the holding of Henry Halewy, a tenement elsewhere referred to as Pryuyte, and it comprises 12 perches in all.
Total rent 2s. 5¾ d., of which 3½d. is for the tenement Pryuyte.

John Blake holds one tenement with croft, at one time called Goseford, measuring 1½ perches 4 feet at the end next to the highway, and 5 perches 6 feet at the lower end of the curtilage facing the croft, while the right side measures 8 perches; the tenement with curtilage thus comprises 28½ perches, 1 foot less an inch. That croft measures 5 perches 6 feet at its upper end, 13 perches at the lower end next to Hythe Croft, while along the right side, towards the south, it measures 21 perches; the croft thus comprises 1 acre, half a rood, 13 perches, and half a foot.
Total rent: 23s., half a farthing.

Total acreage of the entire New Land: 18 acres, 1½ roods, three-quarters of a perch, 1½ feet, 1 inch, 1½ grains.


Eynsham is today a large Oxfordshire village in the Upper Thames Valley, not quite within the orbit of its county town; the Thames runs east of Eynsham and is met, to the north-east, by the River Evenlode. That it once aspired to borough status is reflected in the above documents – the first of which is part prospectus and part borough charter, the second a view of the tenements laid out to form the borough. It is also reflected in the continued presence of a High Street with associated market square, and in a lane (immediately north-west of the borough) once known as Town's End – for the main road westwards left Eynsham there – which gave rise to a local toponymic surname. The Victoria County History account of medieval Eynsham consistently refers to it by the terms 'borough' and 'town', though a little too liberally, and partly because of the tendency of authors of that series to render villata as town, often without due consideration. That it has long been of at least some small significance is suggested by a reference in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to it as one of four Romano-British settlements falling into the hands of the Saxons in 571 and by the suspicion that it was the site of a minster by the eighth century. However, its main interest, from the perspective of urban history, is as the location of one of the numerous small planned towns planted during the High Middle Ages; and particularly as a foundation that illustrates how new towns were not guaranteed to prove successful.

Settlement grew up at Eynsham on land rising above the flood-plain that has always separated village and river, at what should have been an advantageous location near a crossing of the Thames (Swinford). Archaeological evidence indicates at least modest industrial activity of some kind in the Saxon period. Eynsham was a royal estate, of some consequence, by the ninth century. But only five miles away lay the future site of Oxford, on another Thames crossing, and it would rise to a prominence eclipsing, and acquiring borough status earlier than, Eynsham. A Benedictine abbey was founded there by 1005 by the Earl of Cornwall, a member of the royal family, who endowed it with Eynsham manor and several others, as well as properties in Oxford, whilst its later acquisitions included tenements in Banbury, one of the county's more important wool markets; the abbey was re-founded in the late eleventh century by the bishop of Lincoln, with some of the old and some new endowments, accumulating enough lands to become moderately wealthy. Its location lay on a route from London to Wales and close to Henry I's hunting lodge at Woodstock, which Henry II turned into a palace; one consequence was regular and burdensome demands for hospitality from members of the royal entourage, although another was improved access to the king, to request favours.

King Stephen, in the opening years of his reign, granted the abbey a Sunday market – if, that is, we may trust the authenticity of a charter known only through a text copied into the abbey cartulary – and two fairs were licensed by Henry II ca. 1160, when he confirmed the market grant. The settlement was focused around a junction of the road coming from the Swinford crossing and nearby wharf, and continuing westwards a little further north, with another (Mill Street/Abbey Street) connecting the abbey, immediately south of the village, to its mill at the north end of the manor, on the Evenode, a tributary of the Thames. A dedicated marketplace was just east of this junction, which had before the close of the Middle Ages become an actual crossroads (known later as Carfax, as at Oxford). The junction of these two routes had long been of some importance, for archaeologists have found a Bronze Age enclosure beside it, though whether used for secular settlement or religious ceremonies is not clear; this was the site of the later abbey.

At the opening of the thirteenth century the volume of commerce taking place in Eynsham's market may have seemed promising; one of its fairs took place at the important festival season of Pentecost, when there was traditionally a procession from Oxford to Eynsham, and the other around a festival of the Virgin Mary, to whom the abbey was dedicated. A century later we see Eynsham's wharf, connected to the Thames by a canal utilising the flow from local brooks, being used to send agricultural produce and construction materials – grain, hay, malt, timber, stone – by barge to Oxford, and watermen are recorded as living in its vicinity, while the abbey's fishery in the Thames supported a small group of local fishermen. Such may have been elements of the local economy by 1215, in which year Abbot Adam (1213-28) tried to move developments forward a step further by laying out a new town, called Terra Nova, to the north of the abbey on land almost uninhabited, promising any who settled there the same local regulations as had the burgesses of Oxford; in a handful of deeds dating between ca.1220 and 1294 were hear of a novo burgo or novo burgagio [Salter, vol.1, pp. 166, 189, 245, vol.2, p.177] , which is assumed to be another way of referring to the Newland. For his purpose Adam allocated a rectangular area of abbey arable that sat around an existing east-west road; the rough size of this area extended 20 perches on either side of the road (40 perches making a furlong), and two furlongs along the road, beginning at its junction with a north-south road; this would have made for 20 acres of land but, allowing for the streets and other anomalies, the 1366 survey calculated the rentable land to be a little over 18 acres. This size and shape suggests that existing defined areas of ploughland strips, which were measured in furlongs, were designated for transfer to the new use.

Salter [vol.2, p.xli] observed that the rent to be charged, at 4s. an acre, was four times the amount that could be expected from land rented for agricultural use, thus providing the abbey with enhanced revenue in rents – once enough of the burgages found takers. In return for this higher – but theoretically fixed – rent, occupiers would, by acquiring the status of burgesses within their own community distinct from that of the manorial villagers, have the right to dispose of their holding, or part thereof, in a relatively free fashion (so long as not to some other ecclesiastical institution, which would have compromised the abbey's reversion rights), and would be immune from the kinds of payments to the manorial lord to which servile tenants were liable, excepting a nominal fee if the tenement were sold. They could develop their properties, sell or rent them out, pass them down to children or others, and had a high degree of control over their own time and labour, along with freedom of mobility – things that servile tenants did not (in theory) enjoy. The conduct of their personal and business affairs would be governed, to a large degree, by their own court, presided over by an elected official and juries composed of fellow-townsmen, administering by-laws in which they themselves had some say. Similarly, burgage rents were to be collected by an officer elected by the burgesses – ostensibly another privilege, but as the post was unpaid, it proved unpopular. The advantages offered to prospective settlers by Abbot Adam stopped short, however, of freeing them from all obligations to the abbey, nor did it offer the degree of self-determination or the immunities from outside interference that could be obtained from royal charters of liberties, so that Eynsham could not be a borough in its fullest form of medieval expression. It was only rarely referred to as a borough in abbey records, and then perhaps as an oversight, and its compact size allowed it to be treated, for frankpledge purposes, as a single tithing.

Along this new town's main thoroughfare of Newland Street and a lane running off it, known as Puck Lane (later Love Lane, now Queen Street), twenty-seven burgage plots of varying sizes were laid out. Although Puck Lane ran south to connect the New Land with the Oxford road not far from one end of the marketplace, the width of Newland Street suggests Adam's intent was to relocate the market there, perhaps restricting commerce in the existing marketplace to the fairs; the street narrowed only alongside the easternmost and westernmost tenements. While part of Adam's purpose in creating the Newland is likely to have been providing the abbey with additional sources of revenue, it may equally have been to remove the market from in front of the abbey; the bustle and noise of village life had earlier prompted an abbot to assign a chapel above the north gate of the abbey precinct to the use of the villagers for worship, while reserving the abbey church for the monks. The relocation of the marketplace and settlers serving it appears part of a larger scheme to protect the monks from the distractions of the secular world immediately outside the precinct.

Adam had become a monk at Eynsham around 1190 and his brother Edmund joined him in that community in 1194; they were of an Oxford family, possibly sons of a doctor. Two years later Edmund had a vision of Purgatory that was taken seriously by his fellows and it fell to Adam, by then sub-prior, to reduce this, in his spare time, to a written form. Its survival today in a dozen manuscripts is indicative of the importance attributed it by the ecclesiastical establishment; it was known to Dante and has been proposed as one influence on his own poetical description of the afterlife. Adam was promoted to prior not long after this, but he was soon taken out of the abbey by St. Hugh (Bishop of Lincoln 1186-1200), to serve him as his chaplain and general assistant; it had probably been Hugh who had earlier asked Adam to write an account of his brother's vision. Their close association led Adam, after Hugh's death, to write a biography of him (completed ca.1212), which would become Adam's main claim to fame; he may even, as prior (1197), have initiated the compilation of the Eynsham cartulary, as a tool to assist Bishop Hugh in a (successful) legal battle with the king over the right of patronage of the abbey. His removal to Hugh's side meant Adam did not have the management of abbey affairs during an extended period of vacancy in the abbacy, vacancy in the bishopric, and then the absence of a new bishop during the interdict under which John's realm was placed; for part of that time Adam was in Paris. It was soon after the interdict was lifted (1213) and the bishop took back the reins of his diocese, that Adam was chosen abbot. Salter [vol.1, p.xix] describes him as "not only a scholar, but a man of high moral tone." Such men do not necessarily make the best administrators. Yet Adam was not short on ideas, and he must have desired to emulate his mentor Hugh, an energetic and capable man who had, before becoming bishop, taken on the challenge of fostering the foundation of the first Carthusian monastery in England, subsequently began an extensive rebuilding of Lincoln Cathedral, and a few years later launched a project to expand the Oxford church of St. Mary Magdalene.

Inspired by such achievements, Adam aimed at an ambitious expansion of the abbey precinct, of which the opening up of the New Land for settlement could be considered the first phase. He acquired land to the south east and west of the existing precinct, through purchase, exchange, or other means. The new precinct boundaries enclosed a stretch of the Chil Brook to the south, and (to the west) part of what is today Abbey Street, while substituting a new road (the present Station Road) just outside the western boundary, furnished with a new bridge where it crossed the brook; he had obtained royal licence to relocate the street in 1217 and the related entry in the Patent Roll [1216-1225, p.78] gives a fairly detailed account of his plan while ordering the sheriff to see that no-one obstructed its implementation. This diversion of one of the main routes through the village could have provoked some local resentment. But it also provided Adam with additional land to be allocated, and a corrody agreement with a Woodeaton couple shows that the abbot was not averse to granting such as burgage plots, even though there is no reason to think he envisaged the new road as a borough foundation, or as part of his Newland borough. These changes brought the existing abbey farm, to the west of the monastic buildings, within the precinct, and this component of the abbey was subsequently developed into a complex with granges, housing for livestock, and a storehouse for the meat of slaughtered animals. In the new southern part of the precinct Adam had a series of fishponds constructed, fed by the brook, to supply fresh fish. The property development venture at Newland must be understood in the context of this broader scheme to expand the abbey's facilities, relocate displaced residents, and at the same time separate the monastic community more from neighbouring secular activities and from commercial through-traffic. It also seems to have been in the final year of Adam's abbacy that a plan was implemented to raise the height of the dam channelling water into the mill-pool within the Evenlode; for by that period the original grain-mill, mentioned in Domesday, had been increased to three – one perhaps being used for fulling – and an improved flow may have been required to power them all. Shortly after Adam's time the residents of Hanborough complained to the king, that, by thus raising the level of the mill-pool several inches, their adjacent meadowland and woodland (where pigs foraged) was being flooded.

What went wrong with the new town part of the plan is not fully clear. The proximity of Oxford's thriving market must have been a major factor, while on the opposite side of Eynsham lay Witney, where perhaps only a decade or so prior to Adam's foundation charter the Bishop of Winchester had added an urban component around the green of an existing market village and had obtained a fair licence for it. That there was no legal battle between the owners of Eynsham's and Witney's markets is an indication that both had been in operation before licences included the requirement that new markets not be to the detriment of existing ones in the vicinity. But, thanks in part to Witney's location on the route connecting Gloucester with Oxford, flourishing commerce attracted settlers to Witney, so that the lord of neighbouring Cogges (where there a small castle and priory provided a regular clientele for goods and services) laid out plots on his own Newland around 1213, and Witney itself was extended in 1220 with the addition of 16 new burgage plots, which bridged the gap between the village green and the Cogges Newland. Witney's first fair, licensed in 1202, was around the festival of the Ascension, not so close in date to Eynsham's Pentecost event that the Bishop of Lincoln could complain of unfair competition, but close enough that it could have siphoned away some trade; it was successful enough that a subsequent Bishop of Winchester obtained the grant of a second fair in 1231. Adding to Eynsham's discomfort was that the manor of Standlake, just south of Eynsham, acquired a licensed market in 1230, while the manor of Bampton, a few miles south-west of Eynsham, obtained a market licence in 1241; a market had in fact existed at the time of Domesday and the manor's farmer was complaining about competition from other markets as early as 1187. By the close of the thirteenth century, however, Bampton's owner was earning a respectable 40s. a year from market tolls. This was the competitive environment in which Eynsham's Newland found itself, and Witney – despite some downturn in its economy in the fourteenth century and the failure of Cogges' Newland – had the advantage over Eynsham.

Another problem facing Eynsham's economy was that the crossing at Swinford could at times be a risky one, and in 1362 was described as having been, for some time, impassable because of the abbots' failure to maintain it; the same inquisition found the causeway between Newland Street and Cassington mill, along with the Evenlode bridge there, both to be in as bad a state of disrepair. The abbot of the time denied responsibility for either, so no remedy for these deficiencies is evident. A ferry that had come into existence to one side of Swinford generated enough income that ownership became contested between Eynsham and Abingdon abbeys, which held the territories on opposite banks of the Thames; the dispute – which seems to have entailed obstructionism from both parties – was resolved (1299) in favour of Abingdon, in return for a small annual payment to Eynsham (for landing rights on the latter's meadow and passage through it to the highway) and the right for Eynsham's monks, servants and carts to use the ferry free of charge. Furthermore, the road between the crossing and Oxford was not a good one. Consequently many carters came to prefer a different route, bypassing Eynsham on its northern side, but bound for Witney in one direction and in the other a north-south route connecting Banbury and Oxford. Eynsham's market thus became isolated from heavier commercial traffic, though the crossings at Eynsham continued to be used by horses and pedestrians, and river traffic between Oxford and Eynsham was possible.

It appears Adam's new town and other grand plans contributed to driving the abbey deeply into debt, without generating significant new revenues. One of the creditors was a Jewish money-lender of Lincoln, to whom £152 15s. was owed in 1227; a little over a century later the abbey would be contracting more numerous and larger debts, but that was a different time. Adam's depletion of abbey resources may also have taken other forms; for around 1230 his successor made a fine with the king to recover possession of those Oxfordshire woodlands of which the abbey had custody and to obtain immunity from prosecution for past waste of said forest; while the abbey had the right (known as estover) to harvest wood for reasonable needs of fuel and maintaining its buildings, Adam's projects may have placed excessive demand on the forest, including by permitting takers of his burgage plots to cut trees for house-building materials, there being other examples of such a concession [Maurice Beresford, New Towns of the Middle Ages, London: Lutterworth, 1967, p.164-65]; a survey of the woodlands concerned showed that some had been virtually clear-cut (although work on the castle at Oxford bore part of the responsibility). While we cannot fairly describe the Newland as an abject failure, it did not achieve the kind of success that would have justified the effort and expenditure. This, perhaps along with local antagonisms to which his initiatives gave rise, had unfortunate consequences for Adam. A chronicle compiled at Dunstable Priory has an entry for 1228 that reports: "In that year Adam, the Abbot of Eynsham, as a proven perjurer and squanderer, was deposed by Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, and the Prior of Friston was, with solemnity, put in his place." [H.R. Luard, Annales Monastici, Rolls Series, no.36 (1866) vol.3 p.109, my translation]

Whether Adam was really an incompetent manager, or a victim to political opponents within or without the abbey, we cannot know. Hugh of Wells pursued, during his episcopacy, the canonization of his like-named predecessor and must have been appreciative of Adam's biography, which would have supported the effort, accomplished in 1220. Thereafter Bishop Hugh, who had earlier in his career been a royal bureaucrat and judge, may have turned a more critical eye on Adam's other activities. Yet the bishop was no stranger to, nor opponent of, the kinds of secular initiatives Abbot Adam had taken, for Hugh had some experience of operating a market even before becoming bishop, and as bishop not only inherited markets on several of his manors, but obtained a blanket grant from King John in 1214 to establish markets and fairs on all episcopal manors he wished (so long as not detrimental to others already operating in the vicinity). We know that Hugh had done so at Biggleswade (Bedfordshire) by 1227, perhaps founding a small new town there at the same time. Nor does it seem likely that Bishop Hugh could have objected to Eynsham's market as a potential rival to his own market at Banbury, for the two were almost twenty miles apart, and Hugh was not reticent in having the market at closer Chipping Warden suppressed (1227). The story behind Adam's deposition is unlikely ever to be known. Perhaps, after a decade of existence, the new town at Eynsham had simply failed to attract many settlers and antagonistic locals had successfully resisted market activity being transferred to the new location; in a rental of 1389 it is in the original marketplace that we hear of shops and butchers' stalls, and the market cross there, now replaced by a replica, probably dated from the same century. On the other hand, perhaps there was a power-struggle within the abbey; it may or may not be significant that the bishop chose to replace Adam with an outsider, rather than promoting the prior. Again we cannot know whether there is any significance to the fact that the deposed abbot was not given a place within the abbey, but instead retired to its manor of Rollright, some miles northwest of Eynsham, where he spent his final few years, not disgraced but away from any interpersonal hostilities.

Although the new town continued on for a while, and even today is remembered by Newland Street in Eynsham, by the time of the 1366 survey only about thirty tenements are reported as occupied in the borough – there having been little further expansion of settlement and only a little of the sub-division of original plots that was rampant in flourishing boroughs – in contrast to a much larger number in the original settlement. Some of its burgages, if they came back into the hands of the abbey – through purchase, bequest, or failure of heirs – were, as early as the 1260s, being re-granted on less generous terms and later as ordinary freeholds or copyholds whose tenants had no power to transfer them. The court rolls, which survive only from 1307 on (and then sparsely), give no indication that trade disputes were dealt with in that venue; this is probably an indication that the market had never taken root in Newland Street. However, certain matters such as the assizes of bread and ale were separately held by the abbot as part of market administration in the portmoot – though his right was challenged at the hundredal enquiry of 1275, but defended at Quo Warranto proceedings a decade later as having been held from time immemorial (which may have referred to the market grant by Stephen) – and at the view of frankpledge, control of which was also disputed up until 1313 when the abbot was authorized to hold it in his manorial court, or to delegate the right to principal tenants. Through the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries Newland still had its own court, meeting regularly, if infrequently, but perhaps only a shadow of its former self. It also still had its own rent-collector, but there was little increase in the total income from borough rents during that period, suggesting no further population growth in Newland; the total rent in 1366 was not much over &$163;3, while half a century later it had not reached £4, despite the abbey changing the rental terms of a number of tenements.

There are other indications that the new town at Eynsham was not prospering in the way hoped. In the national tax of 1334 Eynsham had the lowest wealth assessment of any Oxfordshire town except Woodstock; low assessments in that and earlier taxations of the century seem due to it having only a relatively small number of residents over the minimum tax threshold, and few of those were notably wealthy. The outbreaks of plague led to an adjacent hamlet being abandoned, with survivors moving into Eynsham, yet by 1377 it still had one of the smallest populations of towns in the county. In 1440 the abbot handed back in the market licence for cancellation, on the grounds it had never proven a success, from the perspective either of the abbey or of the residents of Eynsham; a new licence for a Monday market was issued in compensation – options being limited, as Wednesday to Friday were already allocated to the markets of Bampton, Witney, and Standlake. Abbey accounts of the Late Middle Ages make no reference to any income from market tolls; whereas by 1218 the tolls, stallage, and seldage from the Witney market and fair were generating large enough amounts to warrant separating out those items within the manorial accounts, and in the 1220s tolls were totalling over 80s. annually, though declined in the latter half of the century, despite some increase in stallage and seldage profits mid-century. The impression is that the peak of success for Witney's market and fairs was occurring precisely in those decades when Eynsham's Newland was trying to find a footing; during that period the bishopric of Winchester obtained toll exemptions for Witney's tenants, an advantage the abbey tenants lacked. That in 1476 the portmoot had to remind residents of their duty to keep the streets clean in front of their houses might be interpreted as a weakening resolution to keep the place inviting to whatever commercial travellers were still coming through. Eynsham's market and fairs limped on into the sixteenth century, and the concept of a borough was transferred from Newland to central Eynsham as a whole. Yet the change had little effect on Eynsham's economic viability; taxation records of the sixteenth century show it somewhat more populous, but still lacking wealthy taxpayers – the largest assessments were those of farmers, and the kinds of tradesmen present in the town were much the same as in the Late Middle Ages (see below).

A map of 'Ensham Town' prepared in 1762 allows us to visualize the Newland layout in a very rough way, although the original burgage tenements have undergone an uncertain number of amalgamations and sub-divisions over the intervening centuries, and indeed show signs of having undergone a few such changes between 1215 and 1366. Properties south of Newland Street, but west of Queen Street, are listed first in the survey and their number (10) is close to that shown in 1762. The Sclatter tenement, since flanked by roads on two sides, must represent the property on the south-east corner of the junction of Mill Street and Newland Street. Halewy's triangular-shaped tenement seems to be that shown on the 1762 map of Eynsham with its east end facing onto Queen Street, if we assume that its original northern boundary continued westwards to meet the eastern boundary of the Sclatter property near the latter's south-east corner; this hypothesis is supported by the description of the location of the tenement known as Pryuyte. Halewy's cottage tenement could be that shown on the map immediately to the south of the triangular property, again facing onto Queen Street; it could represent an extension to his principal holding, or a property he rented out to a third party. Properties north of Newland Street were next surveyed; here the property of Richard Lynde seems to correspond to the western-most plot on the map, with the Marche property, carved out within it, still apparent. Finally, the surveyor reverted to the south side of Newland Street to deal with a group of properties east of Queen Street.

Names of tenants in the Newland survey/rental do not give a strong sense of it as an urban settlement. Although the date is rather late to rely overmuch on surname evidence, few of the names are indicative of occupations, and practically none of these point to the more specialized occupations associated primarily with an urban economy. Nor do the names suggest that Eynsham had much pull for long-distance migrants, who would surely have been drawn more to Oxford, if seeking within this region improved opportunities or to break the bonds of serfdom. The prevalence, among the surnames, of patronymics, toponymics, and nicknames are suggestive more of a burgess population built from land-workers looking to upgrade their positions or prospects; a lack of references, beyond the survey, to most of these individuals does not give a sense that they were of any great account. However, it is dangerous to argue from silence and, besides, the sample is too small to draw firm conclusions. But occupational activities of most Eynsham residents seem to have retained a rural focus. The only individual named in the abbey cartulary whose occupation can clearly be associated with commerce is the John fitz Stephen merchant, who is seen in the years following the establishment of Newland. It is not clear whether he can be considered an immigrant, for his aunt was the daughter of an outsider though, once widowed, had remarried an Eynsham man; nor do we know if John had one of the Newland burgages. Around 1260 John's son William seems to be selling up all his Eynsham properties, including his rights in those held by his mother in dower. In 1437 a John Vyntenar was bailiff of Newland, but the surname does not necessarily point to the vintner's trade, as it might also be derived from the title of a sergeant of militia.

In contrast to this meagre indication of a commercial element within Eynsham's population is the fact that by 1268 the wool produced on abbey estates was, after being transported to Eynsham, not sold through any middlemen of Newland; rather Roger Harang, a merchant based at Witney, was given the contract to buy it all. Though we do not know for how long such arrangements persisted, the cellarer's accounts for 1471 show a large volume of cloth purchased from a Witney man, while in 1352 the abbey was involved in some large-scale financial transaction with a London woolmonger. Witney became a regional centre for trade in wool – not only that of Eynsham abbey estates but also those of the bishops of Winchester, collected and stored at Witney – and in sheep; this drew its residents into the cloth industry, supported by the construction of three or more fulling-mills on the River Windrush, and it became one of the principal cloth-making centres in the county, later acquiring a reputation for the rough woollen blankets woven there. It was Witney that in the Middle Ages achieved the commercial success and prosperity that eluded Eynsham.

This, then, was perhaps part of Abbot Adam's offence: to speculate – maybe recklessly in the opinions of some – with abbey resources by establishing a borough in the shadows of the existing market centres of Witney and Oxford, thereby giving it longer odds for success. Adam had contravened the principles of prudence and economy which were supposed to guide the manager of a monastery's assets. Whereas Adam's mentor, St. Hugh, is not evidenced as having any interest in, or particular experience with, markets, Bishop Hugh of Wells was certainly experienced in founding and administering markets, as well as protecting them from competition; he would have had no difficulty perceiving the flaws in Adam's policies.

The seeming lack of an urban character of the Newland community in 1366 may be due to the late date of the survey. Almost a century and a half had passed since the foundation of the borough and the situation in Newland, and indeed Eynsham as a whole, had altered somewhat in the interim. With the failure of any effort by Adam to relocate the market to the wide street through Newland, and probable abandonment of such a policy after Adam's departure, there was ample time in the next hundred years or so for tenements to change hands multiple times and deplete the number of tenants with commercial or artisanal occupations. We have no older survey or other documents that can show us what the Newland community was like in its early days. Other than the foundation charter and a deed of 1294, the earliest records clearly specific to the Newland are a few court rolls from the reign of Edward II, which have not been transcribed for publication. The Hundred Rolls of the 1270s include in the survey on Eynsham [Record Commission, Rotuli Hundredorum v.2, p.860] a list of freehold tenants, a number of whom have occupational surnames – mason, clerk, porter, falconer, and cook – but this hardly has an urban look and besides, it is very doubtful that any were Newland residents. By the Late Middle Ages, and probably earlier, the abbey was employing its own artisans and service-providers – such as gate-keeper, carpenter, shoemaker, tailor, washerwoman (who also darned clothes), barber, cooks, bakers, maltster, brewer, and carters – their services not necessarily limited to the abbey; but it seems more likely these would have lived closer to the abbey and neighbouring marketplace than in Newland. Other than such employees, the abbey's wealth was not necessarily channelled predominantly into the local economy. Some of the staples required to support the monastic community and guests entertained at the abbey hospice came from its own demesne resources, while most of the wine, spices, medicines, high-quality cloth, and other luxury or specialized goods purchased for the abbey were likely obtained by the cellarer or other abbey officials during trips to Oxford, London, Bristol or elsewhere, while the Stourbridge Fair seems to have been an annual source of purchases.

Salter believed Eynsham comprised an Old Borough and a New Borough (the latter being Newland), and this notion was adopted by the authors of the Victoria County History account of Eynsham, though they only mention it in passing and present no evidence of any ancient borough status. Indeed, it is not clear that there are any grounds for this interpretation. Salter did not explain his reasons for the distinction, but seems to have based it partly on the existence of a portmoot distinct from the Newland court – the latter's early fourteenth century rolls not using such a term in their headers. But the portmoot records are all from the fifteenth century and, as will be seen below, not evidence of urban status but, rather, associated with a market-endowed settlement. It may also have been that Salter assumed, from the reference to Newland as a Novus Burgus, that there must therefore have existed an Old Borough, in the form of the original market settlement; however, many other examples of town foundations unimaginatively named Newport, Newtown, or the like, show that such naming logic did not apply. Given the fact of unitary lordship, there would hardly have been a need to describe New Land as a new borough, or give it its own court, if Eynsham already had borough status and a portmoot.

While not impossible that obtaining the grant of a market was associated with promoting at least part of the village – presumably that around the crossroads and adjacent marketplace – to borough status (that is, an area where property was held by burgage tenure), there is no clear indication in the cartulary that any such act of foundation occurred, nor documentary or cartographic evidence supporting the presence of burgage tenements around the original marketplace itself. The 1215 charter gives no indication of a pre-existing borough at Eynsham, and the selling-point of its new plots, not very convenient for the existing marketplace, was that they offered a more liberal form of tenure than was previously available in the vill; but then, it may be argued, nor does the charter explicitly refer to the New Land as a borough. On the other hand, a row of a dozen or so tenements – of varying frontages but all of the same depth and terminating in Back Lane (a name often associated with burgage blocks) – located along the west side of Mill Street, opposite its junction with Newland Street, has the look of a possible planned unit expanding the settled area; also, tenements along the east-west arm of the crossroads – that is, the north side of both the future High Street and a stretch of Acre End Street (which runs west from the market square) just beyond the seeming extent of the older village, are possibly also burgage type, though less deep, and also furnished with service lanes at rear. If these represent morphological components of a late medieval borough, it is unknown whether all were laid out at the same date or as different phases of expansion, nor whether the growth of the cloth industry in nearby Witney was a stimulus for such.

An alternative interpretation to Salter's is possible: that, as Adam's New Land failed to establish itself as a true borough, and with the effects of the Black Death, perhaps exacerbated by the contemporary power-struggle over the abbacy, giving impetus for changes in the terms of relationship between the abbey and its tenants, the former transitioned towards a freehold model, reliant more on rents than services, while at the same time squeezing as much out of rents as possible, and attempting to reassert claim to some services; the 1366 survey of the New Land was both a consequence and an illustration of changed circumstances, as were other similar documents entered into a new abbey register during the latter half of the fourteenth century. In this context the concept of borough, though not the characteristic tenurial privileges, was transferred to central Eynsham – notably the area around the crossroads and market square (possibly excluding certain holdings associated with the abbey farm and houses reserved for lay servants of the abbey); this became the core around which future development would take place. Newland became little more than a neighbourhood within a larger burghal entity, and in the post-medieval period was treated as a manor in its own right; though still retaining its own officials and its own court sessions for tenurial pleas and nuisances, it dealt with no market matters other than the selling of ale, and in its final years only with transfers of tenements. Had there existed a borough in the market centre of Eynsham prior to the foundation of Newland, we might reasonably expect it to have been more clearly evidenced in the abbey cartularies.

Under this interpretation the portmoot, although it may have originated as a court for the Newland tenants, in the post-plague period acted as a court for the refocused borough; it dealt with the kinds of matters typically within the jurisdiction of borough courts, except for property transfers, which remained the prerogative of the manorial court. It might well have continued to be held in the hall situated in Newland. An alternative possibility is a building (demolished 1954) at the south-east corner of Carfax named in local tradition the old manor-house. A description of its features [C. Cooper, "The Old Manor House, Eynsham, Oxon", Oxoniensia, vol.19 (1954), pp.146-48 suggests it no earlier than late fifteenth century, but it represents an encroachment into the marketplace that would have required abbey approval, and it was associated with a family that in the sixteenth century supplied manorial officials; so it may have served as the manorial court-house, though probably not the original one. The same register in which the 1366 survey was recorded refers to a portmoot in two documents copied into it. One is a manorial survey of 1363 in which the jury included the declaration that "the lord has there, if he wishes, his [manorial] court every three weeks, and also a portmoot; as well he has there view of frankpledge." [Salter, vol.2, pp.27-28, my translation]; although this was a survey of Charlbury, it shows the abbey having instituted a portmoot in a non-urban context. The second is a group of memoranda related to local administration at Eynsham, undated but probably also from the later fourteenth century; after mentioning the three-weekly manorial court, it implies that the assize of bread and ale were administered (by grant of an unnamed king) through the portmoot, and that the market pleas were likewise dealt with in portmoot, each of these two courts having its own suitors. Judging from surviving records, portmoot sessions were also held every three or four weeks. The surviving fifteenth-century examples show it dealing with issues related to quality of commercial products, but do not give an impression that local commerce was particularly lively, nor that it was broader than the basic range of trades found in large villages or small towns: (victuallers, leather-workers, smiths, builders). No reference is made in either of the aforementioned documents, nor elsewhere in the abbey cartularies except for the 1215 charter, to the Newland court; even though it generated its own separate records, in the fifteenth century, it was probably only a specialized session of the portmoot. Under this interpretation the 1366 survey of Newland depicts a borough only in a vestigial form.

From the ashes of the original new borough emerged a larger entity that could, by the Late Middle Ages, be thought of by its lord as a borough – perhaps unwarrantedly, yet there was no precise legal definition of a borough at this period; though lacking true burgage tenure and associated privileges, and having none of the other attributes that tended to characterize boroughs in the eyes of national administrators, its tenants were freeholders – except ironically in the Newland, where copyholds would eventually become predominant, the survival of copyholds there was a factor in the preservation of an otherwise redundant Newland court. This newer borough had its market, a portmoot, and a chief executive who could in 1476 be styled a mayor. The marketplace, with its adjacent parish church and with the street linking it to the Thames crossing – part of which would become the High Street – had reasserted itself as the natural focus of what could in future be referred to as Eynsham Town, and to which the term burgus was in the 1470s applied, in the context of the account of the bailiff who collected the portmoot perquisites. Adam's new town initiative thus proved only a temporary deviation in the natural course of Eynsham's development, which entailed no long-term future for any borough component. Still today, although Eynsham has been undergoing a new period of population growth, its centre remains only lightly commercialized, the predominance of residential elements making for a village feel that the community values.



"bridge to Cassington"
This was an alternate route to/from Oxford from that using Swinford.

"four shillings"
The rents specified in the invitation to settlers may have been only examples, unless the acreage of the original plots was only roughly calculated for initial tenancies, which seems to have been the case from the limited evidence we have. The 1366 rental shows that actual tenements were not laid out so as to be exactly in sizes of acres or part-acres, but approximated within the constraints of the landscape. The taking of precise measurements and a precise rent calculated for the determined size, may have been a later change in policy. This fastidious approach resulted in the assessment of rental amounts that almost look ridiculous, being brought down to fractions of a farthing (the smallest coin minted), so that it seems rents cannot have been paid using coins (without clipping, which was illegal), or not coins alone.

"his heirs"
If a tenant died without legitimate heirs, however, the tenement reverted to the abbey, which would allow dower rights but tolerate no demur from any other prospective claimant.

"service or secular payment"
That is, labour obligations or payments due from the tenant or his holding to the manorial lord; non-secular payments such as tithes were excluded. By 1294 the burgages were being granted according to terms that had dropped this exemption and brought the burgage tenures in line with other abbey tenures; perhaps it had originally been intended only for the initial takers of burgages, but that is not the implication of the 1215 charter, and it seems rather that abbey policy had changed. These immunities from service helped define burgage properties as freeholds within a territorial unit administered separately from the manor proper.

"foreign service"
Payments or labour obligations due from the manor to some external authority or lord (i.e. other than the manorial lord); the acquittance did not include certain national obligations (such as military service). One example would be the exemption acquired ca. 1109 for abbey tenants from the duty of beating the woods when the king was hunting in the vicinity. In 1272 Henry III confirmed that the tenants were exempt from royal tallage (occasioned by an attempt by the Oxford authorities to have abbey properties there contribute to tallages imposed on that borough).

"gives us"
These fees due the chief lord of a tenement when it changed hands, a remnant of feudal tenure, are found as an obligation of burgage tenure in a number of towns – mostly smaller towns established by mesne lords – and sometimes known as inpenny and outpenny. The custom varied locally in a number of regards, such as which party had to pay (usually the seller) and the amount due. Such fees mostly seem to have been small amounts, tokens of recognition of the residual rights of the chief lord of the property, although at Maldon this customary payment, known as landcheap, was calculated at one-sixteenth of the sale cost. Once a burgage tenement became sub-divided among two or more owners, one portion of it was designated the capital messuage from which the alienation fee remained due. For more information see Morley de Wolf Hemmeon, Burgage Tenure, Harvard University Press, 1914, pp.54-58.

"a court convened"
In pleas of land a jury would be assembled, from residents of the neighbourhood, and might visit the tenement that was the subject of the plea, to ascertain first-hand the validity of a plaint. See for example cases of nuisance at Ipswich and Norwich, while disputes over possession would likely also have been handled by this process. However, here it is not clear whether super tenementum refers to convening a jury physically on the property that is the subject of the dispute, or to the power of the court to hear and determine tenurial pleas.

"found at fault"
Literally, "placed by judgement at the mercy" (of the court in regard to imposition of a punishment).

"view of his peers"
This would seem to refer to assessment of amercements by the fellow burgesses of the convicted party (specifically, a jury of affeerors), rather than that the punishment would be declared in the sight of the suitors of the court.

"may not exceed"
The limitation of amercements, at least for first-time offenders, was a not uncommon feature of charters of liberties granted to boroughs, but there was no common standard. Concerns over arbitrary or ruinous fines were long-standing and would find a place in Magna Carta.

"the best and freest"
This is how Ballard chose to translate this element of the transfer clause, although it may alternatively refer to the manner in which customs were applied ( interpreted in practice) in particular boroughs. In essence the transfer clause authorized the burgesses to reach a pick-and-choose consensus on their own custumal, to be applied through the portmoot. It should be noted that while the abbey could permit its burgesses to adopt the local customs of other Oxford boroughs, this transfer could not include regalian rights obtained by charter, such as exemption from tolls throughout the realm.

"Abbot Geoffrey"
This was Geoffrey de Lambourn, who was elected abbot about 1352, following a period of disturbance at the abbey. In 1344 the chapter-elected Nicholas de Upton was deposed from the abbacy and the Bishop of Lincoln appointed William de Staunford, creating a political division within the monastic community. Nicholas was enabled to return with an armed force and expel William and those monks supporting him, who included Geoffrey. William raised a force of his own and the two sides clashed; a royal commissioner sent to investigate the disturbances was himself assaulted by one of the parties and forced to take refuge in the abbey, where the besiegers demanded he surrender the documents indicting them. In 1348 Nicholas seems to have been ousted again, but at some point carried off the abbey valuables and plundered the local vicar's house. Conceivably some of the abbey records may also have fallen victim to the warring parties. The Black Death intervened to amplify the chaos into which the abbey had been thrown, but within the next decade the contending parties reached a settlement of differences, which entailed in 1358 a royal pardon for Nicholas, although his principal accomplice, a Chipping Campden man, had to enter military service to win his pardon. Geoffrey must have had a great deal on his plate to restore the abbey to orderly operations, and the survey of abbey properties may be seen as part of the restoration of good management. Geoffrey remained abbot, despite becoming blind and decrepit, until his death in 1388.

"John de Wygyntone"
The surname points, most probably, to the Wigginton that lay some 15 miles north of Eynsham.

"Hythe Croft"
A field that was one of the ploughlands of the abbey demesne. It was situated just south of the New Land, between the village and the wharf on the Thames, lying north of the original east-west road through the village (Thames Street). That part of Eynsham was known as Hythe End. By the eighteenth century a tannery had been established in the Hythe Croft and such waterside operations existed by the Late Middle Ages, for the odd tanner is heard of at Eynsham in the fourteenth century and the abbey itself held a tannery in the mid-fifteenth century.

40 perches; as a measure of area, a perch was equivalent to 30.25 square yards, so that a rood was 1,210 square yards. 4 roods made an acre.

"Henry Halewy"
A family of this surname (two or three generations) is evidenced in Eynsham a century earlier, Richard Halewy witnessing a number of abbey charters.

A measure equivalent to one-third of an inch. The use of such a measure in calculating the area of something as large as a plot of land suggests a desire for precision that might today be considered excessive, though in the medieval Church it was probably thought conscientious. More important, it points to a change in policy by the abbey. Whereas in the first century after the foundation of the new town burgages seem to have been granted as per the 1215 charter, with sizes being estimated only in round terms and the pertinent rent applied, by 1366 the abbey was trying to squeeze more out of this arrangement, through precise measurement of acreages and calculation of rents as a percentile of the 1215 figures. A similar situation is seen at the manor of Witham (Essex) which already had a market in the twelfth century, but to which the Templars' added the market town of Newland, ca.1212, where the standard was a half-acre plot and the rent two shillings an acre; a survey made half a century later showed a large minority of the holdings were of sizes other than half an acre, with rents calculated down to fractions of a penny [Richard Britnell, "The Making of Witham", History Studies, vol.1 (1968), pp 15-16].

"Thomas Frankeleyn"
Several individuals resident on abbey lands are found with this surname, or its variant Freeman, which derives from social status, pointing to a non-servile cultivator of arable. Being a moderately common surname across much of England, there is no reason to assume these various individuals were related, although a family of the name is evidenced in Eynsham in the 1260s.

"William Sclatter"
The surname is occupational in derivation (Slater being the modern successor) and designates an occupation similar to that of a tiler. Roger le Sclatour witnessed an Eynsham deed in 1312, and in 1294 he and his wife were granted by the abbot a one-acre tenement with curtilage and garden in the New Borough of Eynsham, for 4s. annual rent – although at that time he is described as 'of Eynsham', so he was perhaps an upwardly mobile resident. A John Sclater was reeve of the abbey's vill of Charlbury (a few miles north-west of Eynsham) in 1373.

"John Vyncent"
He might possibly be the man of this name who in 1366 also held a 17-acre farm of the abbey in its manor of Stoke; but this was a servile tenure, so the connection is dubious. The surname is one of the less common patronymics, although individuals of that personal name are documented at Eynsham and Oxford in earlier centuries.

"Joan atte Hulle, John atte Halle"
Around the same period John also held a strip of land in an abbey field near Catsbrain, as did a William atte Hulle. These two toponymic surnames are too vague to permit confident identification of the features (not necessarily in Eynsham) that gave rise to them.

Catsbrain was an area of the abbey's demesne fields, just north of the New Land.

"Dionisia Irlonde"
In 1366 John and William Irland were holding abbey lands in Stoke, but there is no reason to assume a relationship with Dionisia. The presence of settlers of apparent Irish descent in the area is explicable not only through trade ties but through Irish students coming to study at Oxford's university.

"Thomas Schermon"
The surname denotes someone who may have had a role in the cloth-making industry, but as a technician rather than a dealer.

"the hall"
This suggests it was intended for use as the court house of the new town. It had been converted to an inn by the mid-eighteenth century (though Newland courts were held there in the nineteenth) and today is the White Hart; the oldest surviving domestic building in Eynsham; it still has parts of its medieval cruck roof structure, which would have stood over a large open hall.

"Avicia Lavyntone"
The surname does not otherwise appear in those abbey records that have been printed; it may therefore point to a vill some distance from Eynsham (e.g. Levington in Suffolk).

No amount is entered in the Ryng entry of the survey, but can be supplied from the rental which follows the survey, though that is of slightly different date.

"ancient holding"
This is not surveyed nor a rent given, for it was not a burgage tenement. It was evidently a farmhouse, probably held by servile tenure, that was in existence prior to the New Land being laid out, and in the seventeenth century (when a gentleman's residence was built there) was still tenurially distinct from other Newland properties, becoming later known as Newland House. Nicholas Colyns also held two acres of abbey land elsewhere in Eynsham and there is no reason to think him one of the Newland burgesses.

"William Jakkes"
Other men of this surname and the cognate Jacob are evidenced at Eynsham in this period, holding farmlands of the abbey. William himself is mentioned in 1365 as one of a group of Eynsham men whose alleged, but unspecified, offences – involving some group action that caused disturbances – were to be investigated by royal justices; he was in that context identified as a tanner (the only member of the group whose occupation was specified). The croft he held in 1366 was either close to or the same as a property much later used as a tannery, in what was then known as Tanner's Lane, which ran off Queen Street in the direction of the river.

"planted with trees"
Probably an orchard.

"Isabella Bollynge"
The surname is evidenced at Eynsham a century earlier. It seems to derive from a local toponymic.

"John Bamptone"
"alias Webbe" (i.e. weaver) is interlined in the manuscript, and the rental uses that name for this property, although retaining Bamptone for his earlier-mentioned holding. The hundred and vill of Bampton lay several miles south-west of Eynsham; the abbey had landed interests there, although the Earl of Pembroke was lord of the hundred.

"Richard Belgrave"
If the surname derives from the Leicester suburb, this family (evidenced at Eynsham in mid-thirteenth century) might represent long-distance immigration, though not necessarily directly to Eynsham. In 1284 Robert Belegrave – who a few years earlier had surrendered to the abbey his fishing rights in the Thames (his father having been a local fisherman) – and his wife were granted a corrody from the abbey, in the form of a daily food allowance, and the abbey leased him the Thames fishery for the remainder of his life; in return he quitclaimed to the abbey all his real estate in Eynsham – seemingly fairly substantial and including a water-mill – except for one messuage (non-burgage) which he exchanged outright for another provided by the abbey. In 1302 the abbey made a life lease of the fishery, which was focused around a number of islands linked by weirs, to Robert's son and heir William Belegrave.

Perhaps derived from a former owner named Prewet, or from the presence of a privet hedge.

Named for a goose ford over a small stream that crossed Queen Street (at the time it was just a lane giving access into the demesne fields).

"1366 survey"
Alan Crossley ["Eynsham – A suitable case for treatment," The Eynsham Record, no.1 (1984) p.8] warns that the surveyor: "was not using a standard perch.... Beware, too, that the printed version is not quite an accurate copy of the original and, more serious, that the clerk faced with transcribing Abbot Geoffrey's conclusions was clearly, and understandably careless." The king's perch was the standard in England and he could require it to be used in some circumstances, such as when measuring out areas of royal forest in which private privileges were to be granted; but its use does not seem to have been imposed on land surveys to the extent that market weights and measures were on commercial transactions in public spaces.

"four times"
This must be understood as a generalization. The rent assessed for arable and pasture land was determined on the basis of quality, supply and demand, and other factors; however, at this period pasture was commonly rentable for between 6d. and 1s., although riverside pasture (i.e. meadow) might obtain a rent of 2s. an acre. The Eynsham burgage rent of 4s. per acre was not prohibitively high, though nor was it enticingly low. The examples of such rents given by Hemmeon [op.cit., pp.67-70] range from very small amounts dating back to the eleventh century up to 2s. 6d, and these would have mostly been for smaller properties, without the croft element associated with the Eynsham tenements. Burgage rents became antiquated as property values increased during the Middle Ages; by the late thirteenth century Eynsham abbey was demanding 20s. a year for one of the better-placed houses it owned in Oxford, while a small shop in Oxford's High Street could generate a rent of 12s.

"Oxford family"
A third brother is identified in a witness list to one of Adam's grants of a burgage tenement and he appears elsewhere in the cartulary as William de Oxonia. At some point in his life his occupation was a smith. He also (again identified as Adam's brother) acquired land at Luttershulle, within Eynsham parish, which (in the time of a later abbot) he gave to the abbey in exchange for land elsewhere. A deed of the 1260s tells that William's son, Adam, had at some earlier time held one of the 'new burgages' in Eynsham, though had sold back to the abbey a house on the property; the abbey was now granting the remainder to Robert the Cook for an up-front payment of £4, an annual rent of 4s., and 2s. commutation annually (payable to the almoner) in lieu of feudal services and secular payments – though otherwise with the same freedoms associated with burgage tenure in the 1215 charteer.

"corrody agreement"
In 1219, in return for them surrendering to the abbey their right in a quarter knight's fee in Woodeaton, Stephen de Fretewelle and his wife Sarah were promised, for as long as each should live, a daily allowance of two loaves of bread, two gallons of ale, and several dishes of pottage from the abbey kitchen, enough hay and fodder to nourish one horse, and one gown (or clothing allowance) per year; the abbot also guaranteed to find a suitable husband for one of their daughters within five years, and he allocated them a one-acre plot in New Street, to be held in free burgage, and on which the abbot would build, at his own cost, a house with a frontage of thirty feet, to be held by Stephen and his heirs for an annual rent of 6d. This New Street was probably not that in Newland, but rather the road created alongside the expanded abbey precinct's western boundary, for this would give the couple more convenient access to the abbey kitchen. An additional part of the agreement was the abbot's promise of financial assistance to Stephen in pursuing at law his hereditary rights to properties in various other locations, on the understanding that half of any he recovered would be given to the abbey – another form of speculative investment by Adam. Adam's successor tried to break this unconventional agreement – which could have fuelled arguments for Adam's removal – and a new agreement was drawn up in 1231 whereby the widowed Sarah surrendered to the abbey her claim to a lifetime corrody and to dower rights in the New Street property, in return for 40s. cash and continuance of the corrody for just one year further.

"complained to the king"
Hanborough was held by the dowager queen Isabella. Although an inquisition partly confirmed the complaints, the problem was evidently not satisfactorily resolved, for it resurfaced later in the hundredal enquiries and around 1295 a group of the aggrieved took matters into their own hands, demolishing part of the containment wall of the mill-pool, so that the mill was put out of operation. The matter appears to have been addressed by the installation of floodgates (mentioned 1328) to enable cresting water to be discharged.

As an aside, Abingdon's was another Benedictine abbey – an order that was relatively active in town-founding – which may have sought to introduce planned elements into an existing town; if Roger Thomas ["Monastic Town Planning at Abingdon", Oxoniensia, vol.75 (2010) pp.49-60] is correct in his belief that such planning took place in association with defining the abbey precinct and to improve the marketplace by providing more commercial frontage, then we may have some parallels with Adam's planning at Eynsham.

"demand on the forest"
Salter [vol.2, p.276] notes that the account of the vision of Edmund, into which he considers Adam interposed his own viewpoint, evidences a dislike of the forest laws that was fairly widespread in society of that period.

"abject failure"
Or as stillborn, as Michael Postan described it [The Medieval Economy and Society, Pelican Books ed., 1975, p.240].

"perjurer and squanderer"
Adam's offence was that he depleted the financial resources of the abbey with his various initiatives. The condemnation as a perjurer may mean no more [Salter, p.v, notes] than that he had broken his oath of office to be a conscientious preserver of the abbey's goods; yet it was perhaps more that sin than mismanagement that enabled his opponents to engineer his removal.

"critical eye"
It may be that the bishop was also motivated by the spirit of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), whose broad-ranging reforms – which included a measure of crackdown on monastic orders, prohibition of churchmen becoming too involved in secular matters, limits on the involvement of Jews in Christian society, and restrictions on the power of abbots to contract large debts without approval of their chapter – required bishops to be more pro-active in correcting abuses at monasteries subject to their diocesan authority. The Council's ordinances could have provided grounds for Adam's opponents to complain to the bishop.

A form of tenure in which, instead of relying on customary practice (as in the case of villein tenures) or title deeds (for freehold tenures) to protect the tenant against unjust dispossession by the manorial lord, an incoming tenant had title through a copy of the manorial record admitting him to the tenement. This record would specify rights and obligations (the principal of which was performance of customary services associated with the tenement) and thus in effect created a written contract which might be used by the tenant to defend his interest in the holding. The tenant had secure tenure so long as he performed his obligations, but could not dispose of the tenement as freely as in the case of a freehold: though the tenant might sell his interest, any transaction had to be completed in manorial court by the surrender of the property back to the lord, and the latter's re-granting (for a fee) to the buyer, while free inheritance was only possible if the heir was identified in the original contract.

A royal investigation in 1290 had conceded the abbot's right and a manorial court roll of 1296 reveals the abbot was holding the view in that year, but in the early years of Edward II's reign profits from the view were being shared, albeit unequally, between the abbot on one side and the sheriff and the bailiff of Wootton hundred (who presided) on the other. After the abbots obtained control over the view in 1313, they still had to compensate the bailiff to the annual tune of 8s. Jurisdiction over the view could, however, still be disputed as late as the 1360s.

This decision gave the abbey grounds to beg off paying tax on the hamlet.

"never proven a success"
We should take this with a pinch of salt. The same excuse was given, on the same occasion, for altering the day of the abbey's market at Charlbury (licensed 1256, along with a fair) from Monday to Friday. Both that and Eynsham's market may never have attracted the large-scale business for which market owners hoped – neither having the same access to Gloucester-Oxford traffic that benefited Witney – but the late date of doing something about the problem suggests more an adjustment to alterations in the competitive environment.

Henry II did grant (1156) that any food, clothing or other necessaries purchased for the monks be quit of toll, but this was advantageous to any local tradesmen only to a limited degree, and even this was disallowed at Oxford, so that by 1279 the abbey was having to pay the borough authorities 6s.8d a year for toll exemption.

"limped on"
This may be too unkind, for the market doubtless served local needs, but there is no evidence its activities generated revenue for the abbey; possibly market income was assigned to an abbey official whose accounts have not survived. Local commerce was lively enough in the fifteenth century to warrant the annual election of aletasters and inspectors of victuals old in the town. Many other small market towns were vulnerable to the economic downturn of the Late Middle Ages, another indicator of which at Eynsham is that by 1442 only two of the earlier three mills are heard of, and one of those was ruinous, though subsequently repaired and returned to operation.

The surname may reflect the fish that was a staple part of the local diet, including that of the monks (whose intake of meat was very limited), and suggests that the family – of which earlier generations are documented in the area – may have at one time been importers of herring from the east coast. However, it is also possible the name is an abbreviated toponymic.

"no clear indication"
The cartulary includes charter grants to the abbey by Stephen and Henry II that incorporate the phrase infra burgum et extra, but this was a standard element of legalese and does not specifically refer to Eynsham. More intriguing is a quitclaim to lands (ca.1241-64) said to be "in uilla de Egnesham tam in ueteri quam in nouo burgo" [Salter, vol.1, p.183] but this is ambiguous; it could be translated either as "whether in the old borough or the new borough", or as "whether in the older part of the vill or the new borough"; certainly it is too flimsy a statement from which to assume a twin borough existed in such a small place.

"held in the hall"
It is important to remember that different types of court did not necessarily imply different court-houses, especially in smaller towns; one venue might serve to host the sessions of various judicial institutions. Thus at Eynsham the Newland court and portmoot could both have been served by a single court-house, although the manorial court would more likely have been held elsewhere.

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Created: April 12, 2016. Last update: January 5, 2019 © Stephen Alsford, 2019