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Great Staughton and its people by Anthony Withers, Chapters 7 & 8

2000 Years of English History.

This book is about the remarkable people from this modest Huntingdonshire village who, over thepast two millennia of England’s history, exercised power and influence both locally and on the national stage. The book gives a detailed biography of each of these characters, setting their lives in the wider context of English history from the time of the Romans to the present day.

An introduction to Chapters 7 and 8

The story of Sir Adam de Creting can be traced through the military and social records of the time. He was a loyal warrior of the ‘great and terrible’ king Edward I and builder of the motte and bailey castle which became Cretingsbury, for four centuries the principal manor of Great Staughton. Chapter 7: Sir Adam de Creting, miles admodum probus of Edward I tells his story from his marriage to a Great Staughton heiress to his death in Gascony. Thanks to the Hundred Rolls of 1279 we also know a lot about Adam’s landholding in our village. The Hundred Rolls constituted Edward’s project to update the Domesday book, giving precise details of who owned what and how much, in taxes and military service, was due to the lord of the manor and thence to the king. Historians tended to ignore the document until a ground-breaking study appeared in the late 1940s. It bore the rather daunting title of ‘Studies in the agrarian history of England in the thirteenth century.’ Surprisingly, the author was not an English historian. That honour has to go to a Soviet scholar, Yevgeny Alekseyevich Kosminsky (1886 – 1959) who analysed the Hundred Rolls according to strict Marxist ideology. His work proved a lasting influence in the study of power, politics and the peasantry in the medieval era.

Chapter 8: Taxpayers and gaolbirds in Great Staughton 1327 – 1332 looks at the subsequent careers of John de Creting and John de Engaine and the roles they played in village life. Not all citizens were law-abiding and records from the courts show the villainy that occurred in Great Staughton.

NEXT WEEK: Chapter 9: From Waweton to Walton: birth of a dynasty

This chapter of the book will be uploaded to the website on Monday October 10.

Feedback is welcome:

Click the PDF below to read Chapters 7 & 8.

Chapters 7 and 8
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For further information on this book and to read the rest, visit:

The entry for Great Staughton in the Hundred Rolls of 1279. (19C transcription from original)

From the Hundred Rolls of 1279

A typical entry from Great Staughton

Kosminsky E.A. Studies in the Agrarian History of England in the Thirteenth Century (1956),


William, son of Gregory, a juror from the Hundred of Toseland. In Beachampstead, he holds a windmill, and for the situs molendini, he pays 4d to Geoffrey Beaufuy and 4d to William Aungevin. In the same place he holds 2 acres from John Engayne for 1lb of cumin; two pieces of meadow (3 ½ and 1 ¾ acres) he holds from Thomas de Beachampstead for ½ d. In Southoe he holds 40 acres of arable in una cultura by joint tenure with four other individuals for a rent of 20s and the scutage due from one- fiftieth of a knight's fee. In Great Staughton he has one sixth of a knight's fee, which he holds from Adam de Creting for homage and scutage. In this property he has 20 acres of demesne and small free holdings. In the same vill he has half a virgate and a messuage held from the prior of Huntingdon for 6s., a quarter of a virgate held from William Scohisfot for ½ d, one virgate held from Adam de Creting for homage and scutage, 2 acres held from the same man for 4d., 3 ½ acres of arable, ½ an acre of woodland and ½ an acre of meadow and pasture held from Thomas de Beachampstead for 1d. and ½ a virgate held from the Prior of Bushmead.

[Knights would typically obtain an income from land of £10 to £20 per year. The freemen became increasingly important and would be in receipt of 20s per year which would entail jury duty. ]

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