|Court rolls of manors held by Durham priory
The cathedral priory of Benedictines (black monks) of St Cuthbert at Durham possessed many manors in the county. These were administered by halmotes, or manor courts, held in three sessions (tourns or turns) each year (here marked I., II. and III.), before the terrar (obedientiary), steward, bursar, and/or the prior himself. The court rolls recording proceedings in these courts survive from 1296, 1300, 1309, and from 1333, but with years missing, until becoming fairly continuous from 1365 onwards. Extracts from the rolls from 1296 to 1384 were edited by John Booth and published by the Surtees Society in 1886. The manors under this jurisdiction were Aycliffe, Bellasis, (Newton) Bewley, Billingham, Burdun, Chilton, Coupon, Dalton, Edmondbyers, Ferry (Hill, or Ferrycliffe), Fulwell, Harton, Hebburn, Hedworth, Hesledon, Heworth, Jarrow, Kirk Merrington, East Merrington, West Merrington and Mid Merrington, Monkton, Moorsley, Newton Ketton, Nunstanton, North and South Pittington, East and West Rainton, Ravensflat, Shields, Southwick, Spen, Usworth, Wallsend, Wardley, Wearmouth, Westoe, Willington and Wolviston. The main contents of the records are demises of land held by the bond tenants, neifs, cotmen and others, and of the demesne lands; and bye-laws and pains (penalties) for breach of these; and other minor delinquencies.
Normally, when a farm, cottage or piece of land was let to a new tenant, the name of the last tenant is also given, as well as the amount of the rent, and the amount of the gersum (fine on entry). These court rolls contain some of the only surviving evidence for the inhabitants of these townships in this period: but this publication was of extracts, and was not comprehensive. It should also be noted that the third tourn each year (III.) usually took place in January to March, and so by modern dating in the following year. Thus, the third tourn of 1296 was held on 4 March 1297.
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