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which he quoted from Bourne as follows : 57
The place was formerly the inheritance of divers persons owners thereof, who were accustomed, from ancient time, to take the fore-crop therof yearly, at or before Lammas Day, and after that, by an ancient custom, all the Burgesses of the Town used to put in their kine and used the same in pasture of them till Lady Day in Lent yearly and then to lay the same for meadow again until Lammas.
The Rev. John Hodgson, the learned historian of Northumberland, knew little or nothing of the subject when he was consulted upon it by Mr. Woodman ; and Kemble, the author of the Saxons in England, writing to Mr. Woodman in 1849 says :
It was indeed little to be imagined that a system, whose details I had induced from such a heap of heterogeneous arguments, and from so many isolated facts, should be after all found to exist as it were under our eyes. I trust it is not only a feeling of gratified vanity and selfishness that causes me to rejoice at this confirmation of my view. It has quite given me much comfort and much strengthened my confidence in the methods and nature and results of my investigations.
Mr. Woodman found from the ancient grants and leases dating from before the time when the land was parted with, and from the evidence taken by commission in 1710, that the whole of the township of Netherwitton, at the time the lease was granted, consisted, and that in 1710, although it had then been enclosed, it was still deemed to consist, of 191 farms, and that of those 19£ farms, 5} farms formed the charity estate which he was seeking to recover.
It was his object to show that those 57 farms formed an aliquot proportion of the entire 19} farms into which the township was divided, or, in other words, that each of those 194 farms was of exactly equal value, and that he was therefore entitled, in respect of his 5} farms, to exactly it of the total value of the entire township of Netherwitton, which was still, in 1832, held as one property by Mr. Raleigh Trevelyan. It had devolved on him through the marriage of Walter Trevelyan with Jane, the heiress of James Thornton.
Mr. Woodman was met at the outset by the difficulty that, at the time when he was reviving the suit, the word farm had in ordinary parlance no such equational meaning as that which he sought to attach to it ; and that it was, in 1832, used in Northumberland, as it was elsewhere in England, in the modern and general acceptation of the word, as expressing merely a parcel of land uncertain both as
57 Brand, vol. i. p. 438.
to extent and value. There had even been so early as the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth a legal decision in a case of Wrottesley v. Adams,58 laying down the general local acceptation of the word in England in a sense different from that which he sought to establish.
The definition in that case had been adopted by Lord Coke, and by the editors of all the law dictionaries published after that time. In that case Anthony Brown, (Justice) and Dyer, (Chief Justice) decided that farm was :
A collective word consisting of a messuage with the lands, meadows, pastures, woods, common and other things appertaining to it, and that the messuage was not a common messuage and that the lands were not of the quantity of the other lands ordinarily belonging to the other messuages in the same township but was a chief messuage in the town, and that the lands belonging to it were of great demesne and more ample in quantity than the demesnes belonging to the other messuages.
Mr. Preston also, who was the great authority on conveyancing matters in the beginning of this century, added the following note to the above definition of the word farm where it occurred in his edition of Shepherd's Touchstone, published in 1820 :-By the word farm is understood : Any such quantity of land in all its varieties and to any extent as are occupied by one tenant.' I think perhaps he would have been still more correct if he had added the words at one rent.'
Mr. Woodman, however, made enquiries as to what had formerly been the meaning of the word farm in all the parishes lying around Netherwitton ; and he collected in support of his case a remarkable series of affidavits from the leading agricultural authorities connected with the parishes which stretched from Elsdon in the north-west to Tynemouth in the south-east of the county, showing that in all the townships of all those parishes the word farm had been used to denote an aliquot part of an entire township, and that each township consisted of a certain recognized number of these ancient reputed farms.
The witnesses who made affidavits to that effect in 1847 included many names well-known in the county of Northumberland. here mention those of William Forster of Burradon, Thomas Arkle of Elsdon, Middleton Henry Dand of Hauxley, Robert Swan of Bedlington, and Francis Brummell of Morpeth, and the names of other Northumbrian agricultural authorities carrying equal weight will be found set out in Appendix A.
58 Plowden, 195.
Their evidence proved that ‘Church Rates and Poor Rates, Land Tax, Parish Clerks' Fees, and Lord's Rents were assessed and paid by farms, each farm in every case contributing an equal sum, and that in some cases the custom was continued almost to the present day59 that property was described in deeds as so many farms and parts of a farm, that commons were stinted and divided according to farms and parts of a farm which each proprietor of ancient land had ; and that the reputation of the meaning of the word as an aliquot part of an entire township was almost universal in the county. It was so used in terriers prepared by the collective wisdom of the parish in deeds of all kinds, in rate books, in court rolls, and proceedings in the Court of Chancery.'
Vice Chancellor Shadwell, the judge before whom the suit was tried, after carefully reading the affidavits, stated in court that they had convinced him that the word farm had been used in the county of Northumberland in a sense different from that which was usually attributed to it.
It is impossible in this paper to do justice to the evidence which was collected relating to each parish and township, but I have endeavoured to epitomise it in Appendix A. One affidavit on the point was so conclusive and valuable that I have thought it best to set it out in full in the body of my paper, both as an example of what the other affidavits are like and also because it possesses a peculiar interest of its own ; inasmuch as it speaks to facts which still affect many property owners in 1892. The affidavit is made by the late Mr. Cuthbert Umfreville Laws, who was then the deputy steward of the manor of Tynemouth. The value of this affidavit is enhanced by the fact that this division of townships into ancient farms still exists in theory in the transactions of the manor of Tynemouth at the present day. The copyhold tenants of that manor still pay annually the hall corn rent which represents the weekly work the original villan had to perform in ploughing for, sowing, and reaping the lord's corn; commuted first into a corn rent and then into a money payment; the boon day rent, which represents the additional services or precariæ which they rendered-services generally acknowledged by the lord finding them provision upon the day they were so occupied ; and the
59 The above sentence occurs in a brief written in 1847.
shire rent, which represents either the tenant's contribution to the payment for county purposes which was assessed upon the lord in respect of the entire manor, or possibly a rent payable for the right of pasturage on the Shire Moor, or possibly a rent payable by all the householders in the ancient shire of Tynemouth-for the parts of Northumberland known as Tynemouthshire, Hexhamshire, Norhamshire, and Bedlingtonshire, are supposed by some to be divisions of the ancient northern kingdom of Bernicia.
In surrenders and admittances which I have passed this year before Mr. Edward Leadbitter, the present steward of the manor of Tynemouth, copyhold land is still described as a quarter of a farm, meaning a qnarter of the ancient holding of one customary tenant ; and I venture to think that there are few instances still existing in any part of England where traces of the ancient village community are so practically impressed upon the transactions and dealings of so large and influential a number of nineteenth century property owners as they are in the manor of Tynemouth to-day.
Mr. Laws's affidavit is as follows :
I, CUTHBERT UMFREVILLE LAWS of Tynemouth in the County of Northumberland, Gentleman, make oath and say that I am Deputy Steward of the Manor of Tynemouth in the said County of Northumberland that all surrenders of and admittances to the copyhold lands within the said manor are prepared by and passed before me and all customary payments to which the lord of the said manor as such is entitled are received by me, that the said manor comprises the several townships of Tynemouth, North Shields, Cullercoats, Chirton, Murton, Preston, Monkseaton, and Whitley in the parish of Tynemouth and Backworth and Earsdon in the parish of Earsdon. That the townships of Tynemouth, North Shields, and Cullercoats are of freehold tenure and consist principally of houses and buildings but all the other before named townships comprise considerable tracts of land held by copy of Court Roll and also portions of freehold land and each township consists of a certain number of antient farms, that
That the following payments are annually due from the copyhold tenants of the said manor and from time immemorial as I verily believe have been received by the lord of the said manor and are now received by me on his behalf that is to say 2s. 6d. per farm for · Boon days' or 'days work money' for or in respect of each copyhold farm within the said manor, 32 bushels of bigg or barley and 16 bushels of oats for or in respect of each copyhold farm within the said town. ships of Earsdon, Monkseaton, Whitley, and Preston, 24 bushels of bigg or barley and 24 bushels of oats for or in respect of each copyhold farm within the said township of Chirton and 32 bushels of oats for or in respect of each farm in the township of Murton, all which several corn-rents become due and payable at Saint Andrew's day in each and every year, and are rendered or paid by each of such copyhold tenants by a money payment calculated according to the average price of corn or grain in Newcastle market on such day commuted for or in lieu of the quantity of corn or grain payable by him for or in respect of and according to the number of antient reputed farms or fractional part or parts of a farm of which his land consists, contributing for each such antient reputed farm the quantity of corn payable in respect thereof as herein before mentioned or a proportionate quantity for any fractional part or parts of such antient reputed farms which he holds. And there is also due and payable by the said copyhold tenants an antient immemorial payment called “Shire Rent,' each antient farm in the township of Earsdon and Monkseaton paying 20 shillings, those in the said township of Whitley 16s. 8d., in Preston 138. 4d., in Chirton 18s. 8d., and in Murton 1ls. Od. The following schedule sets forth the mode in which these payments are made in the said township of Earsdon :
Each of the farms in the following townships also paid a modus for hay tithe, which payment continued up to the commutation of tithes a few years ago, viz. :
0 8 per farm in all.. Monkseaton ...
08 do. Whitley
1 3 do. Preston
08 do. Chirton
0 8 do. Murton