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And I further make oath and say that in all surrenders and aclmittances the land which is included in a surrender or admittance is stated to consist of so many farms or fractional parts of a farm and a fine of £4 for a farm, £2 for half a farm, and £1 for a quarter of a farm is paid to the lord on each surrender ; the word 'farm' meaning such antient reputed farm as aforesaid. And I further make oath and say that in the year 1790 a certain Common called Billy Mill Moor was divided under the authority of an Act of Parliament passed in the 28th year of the reign of his late Majesty King Geo. 3rd intituled •An Act for dividing, alloiting, and enclosing a certain common moor or tract of waste land called Tynemouth Moor, Shire Moor, Billy Moor, or Billy Mill Moor, within the manor of Tynemouth otherwise Tynemouth Shire, otherwise Tynemouth with Tynemouth Shire, in the County of Northumberland,' and that the said common was divided among the proprietors of such antient reputed farms as aforesaid ; a certain value of the unenclosed lands being awarded to or on account of each antient reputed farm and so in proportion for a fractional part of such antient reputed farm.
And I further make oath and say that the paper writing hereunto annexed and marked with the letter ‘A’ and signed by me contains a true and correct extract from the original award made in pursuance of the said Act. And I further make oath and say that the number of the said antient farms which is comprised in each of the said townships is perfectly well known and notorious and I have often heard of the same from divers old inhabitants of the said parishes. And that in all the said payments, surrenders, and admissions and division of Common each antient farm was considered as being one of several portions of land of equal value of which each of the said townships consisted, although the relative value of these is no longer the same, changes by cultivation increase of population and other circumstances in the course of years having completely changed this and these antient farms have no relation to the farms as now held and that the word 'farm'as used in all these matters and proceedings was used in a sense totally and entirely different from the modern and general acceptation of the word as expressing a parcel of land uncertain both as to extent and value. And I further make oath and say that I have been informed and verily believe that the word ‘farm' was formerly generally used in the County of Northumberland as one of several parts of a township of the same value.
The evidence was ample that the word farm was used in the county to express an aliquot part in value of a township, and that a farm was one of the several portions of land of which a township consisted, each one of such portions having originally been of equal value. But the question naturally arose how such an equalization could have existed in spite of all the differences in the value of the soil in any one township. The Continental and English works which now exist upon the subject, and which would so fully have explained this point, were not then in existence, but evidence was found that the
township of North Middleton in the same parish of Hartburn (of which Netherwitton was a chapelry) had only been enclosed as lately as the year 1805, and that up to that time it had remained undivided both in tillage and pasture ground, and had been occupied in common, each proprietor's share or interest being estimated by the number of ancient farms, or parts of a farm, of which his land was known to consist. Evidence was adduced in the suit to the effect that prior to the division and enclosure of that township in 1805 it had been customary for the proprietors or their tenants to meet together from time to time and re-divide or re-allot the tillage and 'meadow-land amongst themselves in proportion to the number of farms to which they were entitled, and after the Chancery suit had been determined and compromised Sir W. C. Trevelyan copied from the documents in the muniment room at Wallington, and gave to Mr. Woodman, the following account extracted from a case laid before counsel with regard to the undivided North Middleton land:
The township of North Middleton in the parish of Hartburn in Northumberland consists of 14 antient farms comprising about 1,100 acres of arable meadow and pasture land.
The Duke of Portland is proprietor of 10 of these farms; Messrs. James George & Robt. Hepple of lf of a farm; Lord Carlisle of 1 farm; Wm. Hodgson, Esq., of f of a farm ; John Arthur of of a farm. In all 14 farms.
The sesses and taxes of the township are paid by the occupiers in proportion to the number of farms or parts of farms by them occupied.
These farms are not divided or set out, the whole township lying in common and undivided except that the Duke of Portland has a distinct property in the mill and about ten acres of land adjoining and that each proprietor has a distinct property in particular houses, cottages, and crofts in the village of North Middleton, The general rule of cultivating and managing the lands within the township has been for the proprietors or the tenants to meet together and determine how much and what particular parts of the lands shall be in tillage, how much and what parts in meadow, and how much and what parts in pasture, and they then divide and set out the tillage and meadow lands amongst themselves in proportion to the number of farms or parts of farms which they are respectively entitled to within the township, and the pasture lands are stinted in the proportion of 20 stints to each farm.
So that upon the pasture land the Duke of Portland or his tenants are entitled in respect of
his 10 farms to
and mill lands to
1 & g of a farm to
32 20 17] 10
Messrs. Hepple, Mr. Hodgson, and John Arthur have each of them a distinct property in several small parcels of land which lie in the open fields and which are known by the name of cottage lands, and when the lands in which any of these cottage lands are situated are in tillage the proprietor or the tenant of such cottage lands is entitled to sow such cottage lands with corn and reap and carry away the crop of corn which shall grow thereon to his own use. And when the lands in which any of these cottage lands are situated are in meadows the proprietor or his tenant of such cottage lands is entitled to cut and make into hay the grass grown thereon for his own use. And when the lands in which any of these cottage lands are situated are in pasture such cottage lands are also in pasture and are depastured in common with the other lands of the township but in such case the proprietor or tenant of such cottage land is entitled to a certain number of stints in respect of such cottage lands over and above the number of stints above mentioned, that is to say the said Messrs. Hepple are in such case entitled in respect of their cottage land to 3 stints and
of a stint, the said John Arthur is entitled in respect of his cottage land to 1 stint and f of a stint, and the said Mr. Hodgson is entitled in respect of his cottage land to 4 stints and of a stint. Further there belongs to the Duke of Portland 2 stints commonly known by the name of Bailiff or Manor stints.
Besides affording valuable evidence upon the local customs of ancient farms in Northumberland the above case is also interesting upon the general question of the origin and customs of the common field system, because it shows a still more archaic method of cultivation than is found to be the case with regard to common fields in England generally. According to Professor Vinogradoff, the latest writer on the subject, and one of the most careful investigators of the ancient muniments bearing upon it, the re-division of the arable land is not generally found in the documents of the middle ages. There is, according to those documents, no shifting of the arable strips, and Professor Vinogradoff compares the strips in the arable fields to the ice-bound surface of a Northern sea. He says, “It is not smooth, although hard and unmovable, and the hills and hollows of the uneven plain remind one of the billows that rolled when it was yet unfrozen.'60
Mr. Elton also, in his Origins of English History, 61 after mentioning that in several parts of Germany the land held in common was divided by lot, the drawings for the arable having originally been held once in three years, but afterwards at longer intervals, goes on to say :— It is true that there is hardly any documentary evidence to show that the arable in England was ever divided in this way.' He adds in a foot-note that it is said that the Enclosure Commissioners had met with instances of arable which was distributed by lot. The statement as to North Middleton does not mention whether the distribution was effected by lot,62 but it states clearly that there was a redistribution, and this statement is therefore a not unimportant contribution to the literature existing on the subject. To follow up the simile used by Professor Vinogradoff, it shows a portion of the sea still unfrozen and its waves still in motion.63
The prominence given to the cottage lands in the account of this undivided township should not escape attention. The place of the cottager in the rural economy of the middle ages was almost as conspicuous as that of the villan or holder of the customary farm. The cottager's duties are mentioned in the Saxon laws of land right' of the tenth century. It is there laid down that he ought to have 5 acres in his holding, 'more if it be the custom on the land, and too little it is if it be less.' According to the Domesday Survey, whilst the villans embraced 38 per cent. of the whole population, the cottagers embraced another 32 per cent., and in no county were there less than 12 per cent. of them.65 According to the same survey,
the cottager's holding varied from one acre to ten, but was generally five acres. To some this holding will suggest the “five free erws (or common field strips) cotillage of wastes and hunting,' which, under the ancient laws of Wales,66 were the three immunities of an innate
Pp. 403, 404.
pp. 405, 406. 62 The Corbridge strips are still known in the district as 'the cavils,' a term which supports the supposition that they were at some time apportioned by lot.
Compare the customs of Lauder in Berwickshire, cited in Maine's Village Communities, p. 95. Gomme, 149.
61 Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, Ed. Thorpe, p. 432.
ATTORNEY-GENERAL V. MIDDLETON.
Cymro,' and to some the fact that these cottage lands in North Middleton were defined and ascertained whilst the rest of the common land was fluctuating and re-divisable, will afford an argument that the cottage lands were held by a still older title or under a still older system. Possibly the nineteenth-century appeal for three acres (which approximately represents in area the five free erws of the innate Cymro ') is an echo from a time long past.
The list which forms Appendix A to this paper contains the number of farms ascertained by the evidence in the action of the Attorney-General v. Trevelyan to have existed in the various parishes and townships in Northumberland. The bishop of Peterborough has a somewhat similar list as an Appendix to his paper read before the Archaeological Institute in 1884.67 There are, however, in my list further particulars of payments and of local names which may be useful to other workers in the same field.
It will be seen from the nature of the evidence epitomised in that Appendix that clergymen and church wardens of parishes, overseers of townships, and those who, as land agents, solicitors, or antiquaries, have access to the muniments of the great landowners of the county, can add from many sources much valuable information upon the subject of these Northumbrian farms. The points to which their attention should be directed are, (1) as to the time when the word farm was first used to express a yardland or husband land, (2) as to the nature of the tenure of the cultivators of these holdings, (3) as to the nature of the services rendered by the tenants, and (4) as to the extent of the holdings. I purpose to contribute a few suggestions under each of those heads.
Although the documents in the suit of Attorney-General v. Trevelyan throw such ample light on the use of the word farm as meaning a yardland, they do not contain any evidence of the antiquity of that use of the word in the county of Northumberland. In Appendix B are some notes as to its derivation and as to its use in England generally.
With regard to the nature of the tenure it will be observed that although in other parts of England the present representatives of these customary tenants are to a large extent copyholders, yet in Northumber67 Archaeological Journal, xlii. P.