THE HINMAN' HISTORIES
Tenants Revolt 1398
from "The English Peasantry in the late Middle Ages" by R.H.Hilton
with comments from DR98 - 676a & 685 at SRO.
Page 66/67. A rather more impressive success (in rent reduction) was achieved during much the same period of time (late14th, early 15th century, after the black death) by some of the tenants on the estate of the Beauchamp Earls of Warwick. These were the men of Lighthorne, a big village (sic) entirely in the hands of the Earl, who was also the Patron of the Parish Church. It is about seven miles from Warwick, the centre of Beauchamp power. It is also near to the junction of the Fosse and the Warwick Oxford road, not badly situated from the market point of view.
In the 1390s the Earl was still cultivating a demesne of some 230 acres and grazing a flock of 600 sheep and lambs. The work (of the demesne) was done entirely by hired labour, the tenants labour services, (obligatory work by villeins & cottars) mainly haymaking, being relaxed without payment "Quousque Mundus Relevetus". In 1398 the demesne was leased to John de Blockley, the Rector and the tenants on a ten year lease, (This is not clear but the lessees are assumed to be the rector and the tenants of the demesne, not the tenants of the lordship) the consequence seemingly of Thomas, Earl of Warwick attainder (banished to Isle of Man for treason1397).
In September 1401, however, John de Blockley reported a fall of one twelfth in the rents due from the customary holdings, a situation accepted by the then widowed Countess and her council repeating the gloomy phrase used earlier in the rent collectors accounts "Quousque Mundus metius Relevetur". (SRO Willoughby de Broke mss DR98 672a-d, 674, 674a, 675 & 676a.).
There are many subsequent gaps in the manorial documents. In 1410 the phrase Q.M.R. is still used to excuse the relaxation of services and decay of rents has doubled.
By 1435 this item has doubled again. In 1437 a further increase in the decay of rent item is explained as being partly due to holding being in the lords hands for lack of tenants and partly due toto the reduction of rents, the occasion for which is explained in a renewed rental attached to the accounts. This gives a list of tenants names and holdings with the old rents and the new reduced rents. At the head of the rental it states that the Earl has instructed Thomas Huggeford and Nicholas Rody, the Steward, to reduce (moderate) the rents. The reason given is that the tenants had complained that the rents were so heavy could not keep alive. This was why so many holdings in the lords hands for lack of tenants. In addition the Kings Subsidy of one fifteenth was levied so often that they had protested to the Earl that unless rents were reduced they would have to quit the Manor to obtain a living. (SRO DR98-685, in a flamboyant gothic handwriting style, in latin, very hard to read, identified names Mason, Jaycock, Smyth and Taylor out of 24 entries.)
The real reduction which they achieved amounted to 5 shillings (10p) out of the yardland rent of 15 shillings and sixpence (77.5p) and this was maintained for forty years. After the Warwick estate had passed through the hands of Richard Neville and George, Duke of Clarence, the Lighthorne Tenants still kept the reduced rent even though the estate accounts showed in 1480 the full rent of 15s6d a yardland charged on the receipts side, but with the negotiated allowance on the expenses side and attributed to the negotiations of Huggeford and Rody in 1437.
Lighthorne Histories ŠP.Hinman 1999
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