English feudal barony

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King John signs Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage. Illustration from Cassell's History of England, 1902. King John signing the Great Charter (Magna Carta) by English School.png
King John signs Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215, surrounded by his baronage . Illustration from Cassell's History of England, 1902.

In the kingdom of England, a feudal barony or barony by tenure was the highest degree of feudal land tenure, namely per baroniam (Latin for "by barony"), under which the land-holder owed the service of being one of the king's barons. The duties owed by and the privileges granted to feudal barons are not exactly defined, but they involved the duty of providing soldiers to the royal feudal army on demand by the king, and the privilege of attendance at the king's feudal court, the Magnum Concilium , the precursor of parliament.


If the estate-in-land held by barony contained a significant castle as its caput baroniae [lower-alpha 1] and if it was especially large – consisting of more than about 20 knight's fees (each loosely equivalent to a manor) – then it was termed an honour. The typical honour had properties scattered over several shires, intermingled with the properties of others. This was a specific policy of the Norman kings, to avoid establishing any one area under the control of a single lord. [1] Usually, though, a more concentrated cluster existed somewhere. Here would lie the caput (head) of the honour, with a castle that gave its name to the honour and served as its administrative headquarters. The term honour is particularly useful for the eleventh and twelfth centuries, before the development of an extensive peerage hierarchy.

This type of barony is different from the type of feudal barony which existed within a county palatine. A county palatine was an independent franchise so its baronies were considered the highest rank of feudal tenure in the county and not the kingdom, such as the barony of Halton within the Palatinate of Chester. [2]


William the Conqueror established his favoured followers as barons by enfeoffing them as tenants-in-chief with great fiefdoms to be held per baroniam, a largely standard feudal contract of tenure, common to all his barons. Such barons were not necessarily always from the greater Norman nobles, but were selected often on account of their personal abilities and usefulness. Thus, for instance, Turstin FitzRolf, the relatively humble and obscure knight who had stepped in at the last minute to accept the position of Duke William's standard-bearer at the Battle of Hastings, was granted a barony which comprised well over twenty manors. [3]

Lands forming a barony were often located in several different counties, not necessarily adjoining. The name of such a barony is generally deemed to be the name of the chief manor within it, known as the Caput , Latin for "head", generally assumed to have been the seat or chief residence of the first baron. So, for instance, the barony of Turstin FitzRolf became known as the barony of North Cadbury, Somerset. [3]

The exact date of creation of most feudal baronies cannot be determined, as their founding charters have been lost. Many of them are first recorded in the Domesday Book survey of 1086.

Servitium debitum

The feudal obligation imposed by the grant of a barony was termed in Latin the servitium debitum or "service owed" and was set as a quota of knights to be provided for the king's service. It bore no constant relation to the amount of land comprised by the barony, but was fixed by a bargain between the king and the baron. [4]

It was at the discretion of the baron as to how these knights were found. The commonest method was for him to split his barony into several fiefs of between a few hundred acres possibly up to a thousand acres each, into each of which he would sub-enfeoff one knight, by the tenure of knight-service. This tenure gave the knight use of the fief and all its revenues, on condition that he should provide to the baron, now his overlord, 40 days of military service, complete with retinue of esquires, horses and armour. The fief so allotted is known as a knight's fee. Alternatively the baron could keep the entire barony, or a part of it, in demesne, that is to say "in-hand" or under his own management, using the revenues it produced to buy the services of mercenary knights known as "stipendiary knights".

Under- and over-enfeoffment

Where a baron had sub-enfeoffed fewer knights than required by the servitium debitum, the barony was said to be "under-enfeoffed", and the balance of knights owing had to be produced super dominium, that is "on the demesne". This does not mean they were resident within the baron's demesne, but that they had to be hired with the revenue arising from it.

Conversely, a barony was "over-enfeoffed" where more knights had been enfeoffed than was required by the servitium debitum, and this indicated that the barony had been obtained on overly-favourable terms.

Cartae Baronum

The Cartae Baronum ("Charters of the Barons") was a survey commissioned by the Treasury in 1166. It required each baron [lower-alpha 2] to declare how many knights he had enfeoffed and how many were super dominium, with the names of all. It appears that the survey was designed to identify baronies from which a greater servitium debitum could in future be obtained by the king. An example is given from the return of Lambert of Etocquigny: [5]

To his reverend lord, Henry, king of the English, Lambert of Etocquigny, greeting. Know that I hold from you by your favour 16 carucates of land and 2 bovates by the service of 10 knights. In these 16 carucates of land I have 5 knights enfeoffed by the old enfeoffment:

  • Richard de Haia holds 1 knight's fee; and he withheld the service which he owes to you and to me from the day of your coronation up to now, except that he paid me 2 marks.
  • Odo de Cranesbi holds 1 knight's fee.
  • Thomas, son of William, holds 1 knight's fee.
  • Roger de Millers holds 2 knight's fees.

And from my demesne I provide the balance of the service I owe you, to wit, that of 5 knights. And from that demesne I have given Robert de Portemort 34 of 1 knight's fee. Therefore I pray you that you will send me your judgement concerning Richard de Haia who holds back the service of his fee, because I cannot obtain that service except by your order. This is the total service in the aforesaid 16 carucates of land. Farewell.

Summons to Parliament

The privilege which balanced the burden of the servitium debitum was the baron's right to attend the king's council. Originally[ when? ] all barons who held per baroniam received individual writs of summons to attend Parliament. This was a practical measure because the early kings almost continually travelled around the kingdom, taking their court (i.e. administration) with them.

A king only called a parliament, or council, when the need arose for either advice or funding. This lack of a parliamentary schedule meant that the barons needed to be informed when and where to attend. As baronies became fragmented over time due to failure of male heirs and descent via co-heiresses (see below), many of those who held per baroniam became holders of relatively small fiefdoms. Eventually, the king refused to summon such minor nobles to Parliament by personal writ, sending instead a general writ of summons to the sheriff of each shire, who was to summon only representatives of these so-called lesser barons. The greater barons, who retained sufficient power to insist upon it, continued to receive personal summonses. The king came to realise, from the complacency of the lesser barons with this new procedure, that in practice it was not tenure per baroniam which determined attendance at Parliament, but receipt of a writ of summons originated by himself.

The next logical development was that the king started issuing writs to persons who did not hold per baroniam and who were not therefore feudal barons, but "barons by writ". The reason for summoning by writ was based on personal characteristics, for example the man summoned might be one of exceptional judgement or have valuable military skills. The arbitrary summons by personal writ signalled the start of the decline of feudalism, eventually evolving into summons by public proclamation in the form of letters patent.

Deemed feudal barons

The higher prelates such as archbishops and bishops were deemed to hold per baroniam, and were thus members of the baronage entitled to attend Parliament, indeed they formed the greatest grouping of all. Marcher lords in Wales often held their lordships by right of conquest and appear to have been deemed feudal barons. The Barons of the Cinque Ports were also deemed feudal barons by virtue of their military service at sea, [6] and were thus entitled to attend Parliament.

Baronial relief

Baronial relief was payable by an heir so that he might lawfully take possession of his inheritance. [7] It was a form of one-off taxation, or more accurately a variety of "feudal incident", levyable by the King on his tenants-in-chief for a variety of reasons. A prospective heir to a barony generally paid £100 in baronial relief for his inheritance. [7] The term "relief" implies "elevation", both words being derived from the Latin levo, to raise up, into a position of honour.

Where a barony was split into two, for example on the death of a baron leaving two co-heiresses, each daughter's husband would become a baron in respect of his moiety (mediaeval French for "half"), paying half of the full baronial relief. A tenant-in-chief could be the lord of fractions of several different baronies, if he or his ancestors had married co-heiresses. The tenure of even the smallest fraction of a barony conferred baronial status on the lord of these lands. [7] This natural fragmentation of the baronies led to great difficulties within the royal administration as the king relied on an ever-increasing number of men responsible for supplying soldiers for the royal army, and the records of the identities of these fractional barons became more complex and unreliable. The early English jurist Henry de Bracton (died 1268) was one of the first writers to examine the concept of the feudal barony.

Abolition and surviving vestiges

The power of the feudal barons to control their landholding was considerably weakened in 1290 by the statute of Quia Emptores . This prohibited land from being the subject of a feudal grant, and allowed its transfer without the feudal lord's permission.

Feudal baronies became perhaps obsolete (but not extinct) on the abolition of feudal tenure during the Civil War, as confirmed by the Tenures Abolition Act 1660 passed under the Restoration which took away knights service and other legal rights.

Under the Tenures Abolition Act 1660, many baronies by tenure were converted into baronies by writ. The rest ceased to exist as feudal baronies by tenure, becoming baronies in free socage, that is to say under a "free" (hereditable) contract requiring payment of monetary rents. Thus baronies could no longer be held by military service. Parliamentary titles of honour had been limited since the 15th century by the Modus Tenenda Parliamenta act, and could thenceforth only be created by writ of summons or letters patent.

Tenure by knight-service was abolished and discharged and the lands covered by such tenures, including once-feudal baronies, were henceforth held by socage (i.e. in exchange for monetary rents). The English Fitzwalter Case in 1670 ruled that barony by tenure had been discontinued for many years and any claims to a peerage on such basis, meaning a right to sit in the House of Lords, were not to be revived, nor any right of succession based on them. [8] In the Berkeley Case in 1861, an attempt was made to claim a seat in the House of Lords by right of a barony by tenure, but the House of Lords ruled that whatever might have been the case in the past, baronies by tenure no longer existed, meaning that a barony could not be held "by tenure", and confirmed the Tenures Abolition Act 1660. [9] Three Redesdale Committee Reports in the early 19th century reached the same conclusion. There has been at least one legal opinion which asserts the continuing legal existence of the feudal barony in England and Wales, namely that from 1996 of A W & C Barsby, Barristers of Grays's Inn. [10]

Geographical survivals

Survivals of feudal baronies, in their geographical form, are the Barony of Westmorland or Appleby, the Barony of Kendal, the Barony of Arundel and the Barony of Abergavenny. [11] The first two terms now describe areas of the historic county of Westmorland, in the same way that the word "county" itself has lost its feudal meaning of a land area under the control of a count or earl.


Ivor J. Sanders searched the archives, for example Exchequer documents such as fine rolls and pipe rolls, for entries recording the payment of baronial relief and published his results in English Baronies, a Study of their Origin and Descent 1086–1327 (Oxford, 1960). He identified a number of certain baronies where evidence was found of payment of baronial relief, and a further group which he termed "probable baronies" where the evidence was less clear. Where he could not identify a caput, Sanders named the barony after the name of the baron, for example the "Barony of Miles of Gloucester". The following lists include all of Sanders' certain and probable baronies.

For a full comprehensive list of feudal baronies in the 13th century along with earldoms, bishoprics, and archbishoprics see List of nobles and magnates of England in the 13th century.

Certain baronies

Name of baronyCounty of caputFirst known tenantEarliest record
Aldington KentWilliam FitzHelte1073
Arundel Sussex Roger de Montgomery pre 1087
Ashby LincolnshireGilbert de Neville1162
Ashfield Suffolk Robert Blund 1086
Atherleigh Lancashire Domhnall Uí Bhriain post 1086
Aveley EssexJohn FitzWaleran1086
Bampton Devon Walter de Douai 1086
Biset Manasser Biset (d.1177)pre 1177
Gloucester (baronial court at Bristol [12] )Gloucestershire Robert FitzHamon(d.1107)pre 1107
Miles of Gloucester/BreconBrecon Miles de Gloucester 1125
Basing Hampshire Hugh de Port 1086
Beckley Oxfordshire Roger d'Ivry 1086
Bedford Bedfordshire Hugh de Beauchamp 1086
Belvoir Leicestershire Robert de Todeni 1086
Benington Hertfordshire Peter I de Valoynes 1086
Berkeley Gloucestershire Robert FitzHarding temp. Henry II, pre 1166
Berkhampstead Hertfordshire Robert, count of Mortain 1086
Beverstone GloucestershireRobert de Gurney1235
Blagdon Somerset Serlo de Burci 1086
Blankney Lincolnshire Walter I de Aincourt 1086
Blythborough Suffolk William FitzWalter 1157
BolhamNorthumberlandJames de Newcastle1154
Bolingbroke Lincolnshire Ivo de Taillebois 1086
Bourn Cambridgeshire Picot 1086
Bradninch Devon William Capra 1086
Bulwick Northamptonshire Richard FitzUrse 1130
Burgh-by-Sands CumberlandRobert de Treverstemp. Henry I (1100–1135)
Burstwick/"Holderness" [13] Yorkshire Drogo de Brevere 1086
Bywell Northumberland Guy de Balliol temp. William II(1087–1100)
Cainhoe BedfordshireNigel d'Aubigny (died before 1107)1086
Castle Cary Somerset Walter de Douai 1086
Castle Combe [14] WiltshireHumphrey de Insula1086
Castle Holgate Shropshire"Helgot"1086
Caus ShropshireRoger FitzCorbet11th century
Cavendish Suffolk Ralph I de Limesy 1086
Caxton CambridgeshireHardwin de Scales1086
Chatham KentRobert le Latin (held under Odo Bp. of Bayeux)1086
Chester Cheshire Gerbod the Fleming 1070
Chipping WardenNorthamptonshireGuy de Reinbuedcurt1086
Chiselborough [lower-alpha 3] SomersetAlured "Pincerna"1086
Clare Suffolk Richard fitz Gilbert c. 1090
Clifford Hereford Ralph de Tony 1086
Cogges Oxfordshire Wadard (held under Odo Bp. of Bayeux)1086
CottinghamYorkshire Hugh fitzBaldric 1086
Crick Derbyshire Ralph FitzHubert [15] 1086
Curry Malet SomersetRoger de Courcelles1086
Eaton Bray Bedfordshire William I de Cantilupe 1205
Eaton SoconBedfordshire Eudo Dapifer 1086
Ellingham NorthumberlandNicholas de Grenvilletemp. Henry I
Embleton NorthumberlandJohn FitzOdardtemp. Henry I
Erlestoke WiltshireRoger I de Mandevilletemp. Henry I
Ewyas Harold HerefordshireAlfred of Marlborough1086
Eye Suffolk Robert Malet 1086
Field Dalling/St.HilaryNorfolkHasculf de St James1138
Flockthorpe in HardinghamNorfolkRalph de Camoys1236
Folkestone KentWilliam de Arques (held under Odo Bp. of Bayeux)c. 1090
FolkinghamLincolnshire Gilbert de Gant 1086
FramlinghamSuffolk Roger I Bigod 1086/temp. Henry I
Freiston LincolnshireGuy de Craon1086
Great BealingsSuffolkHervey de Bourges1086
Great Torrington DevonOdo FitzGamelin1086
Great WeldonNorthamptonshireRobert de Buci1086
Greystoke CumberlandForne son of Sigulf1086
HanslopeBuckinghamshireWinemar the Fleming1086
Hasley/HaseleyBuckinghamshireRodger d’Yorey1086
Hatch Beauchamp [16] SomersetRobert FitzIvo (under Count of Mortain)1086
HeadingtonOxfordshireThomas Basset1203
Headingham Essex Aubry I de Vere 1086
Helmsley Yorkshire Walter Espec temp. Henry I
Hockering NorfolkRalph de Belfou1086
Holderness (see caput:Burstwick)
Hook NortonOxfordshire Robert d'Oilly 1086
Hooton PagnellYorkshireRichard de Surdeval (under Count of Mortain) (part) Ralph Pagnell (under King) (part)1086
Hunsingore YorkshireErneis de Burun1086
KendalWestmorland Ivo de Taillebois temp. William II
Kington Herefordshire Adam de Port c. 1121
KirklintonCumberlandAdam I de Boivill(?)post temp. Henry I
Knaresborough YorkshireWilliam de Stutevillec. 1175
Kymmer-yn-Edeirnion MerionethshireGruffydd ab Iorwerth ab Owain Brogyntyn 1284
Launceston CornwallDescent as Earl of Cornwall 1086
Leicester Leicestershire Hugh de Grandmesnil 1086
Long Crendon Buckinghamshire Walter I Giffard 1086
MarshwoodDorset Geoffrey de Mandeville (c. 1070 – c. 1119) temp. Henry I
MonmouthMonmouthshire Withenoc c. 1066
Morpeth NorthumberlandWilliam I de Merlaytemp. Henry I
Much Marcle Herefordshire William fitzBaderon 1086
Mulgrave Yorkshire Nigel Fossard 1086
Nether Stowey Somerset Alfred de Hispania 1086
Nocton LincolnshireNorman I de Darcy1086
North Cadbury Somerset Turstin FitzRolf 1086
Odell BedfordshireWalter le Fleming1086
Okehampton Devon Baldwin FitzGilbert 1086
Old Buckenham Norfolk William d'Aubigny Pincerna temp. Henry I
Oswestry ShropshireWarin the Bold (held from Roger of Montgomery)temp. William II
Pleshy Essex Geoffrey I de Mandeville 1086
Poorstock DorsetRoger I Arundel1086
Prudhoe NorthumberlandRobert I de Umfravilletemp. William I
Pulverbatch ShropshireRoger I Venator (held from Roger of Montgomery)1086
Rayne EssexRoger de Raimes1086
Redbourne LincolnshireJocelin FitzLambert1086
Richard's Castle Herefordshire Osbern fitzRichard 1086
Salwarpe Worcestershire Urse d'Abitot (held from Roger of Montgomery)1086
Shelford Nottinghamshire Geoffrey de Alselin 1086
Skelton Yorkshire Robert de Brus temp. Henry I
Skirpenbeck YorkshireOdo the Crossbowman1086
Snodhill HerefordshireHugh the Ass1086
Sotby LincolnshireWilliam I Kyme (held from Walden the Engineer)1086
Southoe HuntingdonshireEustace Sheriff of Huntingdonshire1086
Stafford Staffordshire Robert I de Stafford 1086
Stainton le Vale LincolnshireRalph de Crioltemp. Henry I
Stansted Mountfitchet EssexRobert Gernon1086
Staveley DerbyshireHascuil I Musard1086
Stoke Trister SomersetBretel St Clair1086
Styford NorthumberlandWalter I de Bolbectemp. Henry I
Sudeley GloucestershireHarold de Sudeley1066
Tarrington HerefordshireAnsfrid de Cormeilles1086
TattershallLincolnshireEudo son of Spirewic1086
ThoreswayLincolnshireAlfred of Lincoln1086
Totnes Devon Juhel de Totnes 1086
Trematon CornwallReginald I de Vautort (held from Count of Mortain)1086
TrowbridgeWiltshire Brictric 1086
WalkernHertfordshireDermantemp. William I
Wallingford Berkshire Milo Crispin 1086
WarwickWarwickshire Robert de Beaumont, Count of Meulan 1086
Weedon Pinkeny/LoisNorthamptonshireGhilo I de Pinkeny1086
Wem Shropshire William Pantulf (held from Roger, Earl of Montgomery)temp. William II
WeobleyHerefordshire Walter de Lacy temp. William I
West Dean WiltshireWaleran the Huntsman1086
West GreenwichKent Gilbert de Maminot, Bishop of Lisieux (held from Odo Bishop of Bayeux)1086
Whitchurch BuckinghamshireHugh I de Bolbec1086
WigmoreHerefordshire William FitzOsbern temp. William I
Winterbourne St MartinDorsetwidow of Hugh FitzGrip1086
WolvertonBuckinghamshireManno le Breton1086
WormegayNorfolkHermer de Ferrers1086
WrittleEssex Isobel of Huntingdon, sister & co-heir of John the Scot, Earl of Chester1241

Source: Sanders (1960)

Probable baronies

Name of baronyCounty of caputFirst known tenantEarliest record
Alnwick Northumberland Ivo de Vesci 11th century
Appleby Westmorland Robert de Vieuxpont 1203/4
Asthall OxfordshireRoger d'Ivery1086
Barnstaple Devon Geoffrey de Mowbray (see House of Mowbray) [17] 1086
Barony of PortKent Hugh de Port 1086
Barony de RosKentGeoffrey I de Ros1086
Beanley Northumberland Gospatric, Earl of Dunbar temp. Henry I (1100–1135)
Berry Pomeroy [18] Devon Ralph de Pomeroy 1086
Bothal NorthumberlandRichard I Bertrampre.1162
Bourne LincolnshireWilliam de Rollos1100–1130
Bramber Sussex William I de Braose 1086
Brattleby LincolnshireColswain1086
CallertonNorthumberlandHubert de la Val11th century
Cardinham Cornwall Richard FitzTurold temp. William I(1066–1087)
Chepstow Monmouthshire William FitzOsbern, 1st Earl of Hereford pre.1070
Chilham KentFulbert I de Dover1086 [19]
Chitterne Wiltshire Edward of Salisbury 1086
Christchurch Hampshire Richard de Reviers 1100–1107
Clun Shropshire Robert "Picot de Say" 1086
Dudley Worcestershire William FitzAnsculf 1086
Dunster Somerset William I de Mohun 1086
Dursley GloucestershireRoger I de Berkeley1086
Egremont Cumberland William Meschin temp. Henry I (1100–1135)
Elston-in-Orcheston St George Wiltshire Osbern Giffard 1086
Eton Buckinghamshire [lower-alpha 4] Walter FitzOther 1086
Flamstead Hertfordshire Ralph I de Tony 1086
Fotheringay Northamptonshire Waltheof son of Siward, Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton pre-1086
HadstoneNorthumberlandAschantinus de Worcestertemp. Henry I (1100–1135)
Hastings Sussex William II, Count of Eu 1086
Hatfield Peverel EssexRanulph Peverel1086
Haughley Suffolk Hugh de Montfort 1086
Helions Bumpstead EssexTihel1086
Hepple NorthumberlandWaltheofpre.1161
Horsley DerbyshireRalph de Burun1086
Irthington Cumberland Ranulph le Meschin c. 1100
Keevil Wiltshire Ernulph de Hesding pre.1091
Kempsford Gloucestershire Ernulf I de Hesding 11th/12th centuries
Kentwell SuffolkFrodo1086
Knaresborough Forest Yorkshire Robert I, King of Scotland temp. Edward II
Lancaster Lancashire Roger the Poitevin temp. William I
Langley NorthumberlandAdam I de Tindale1165
Lavendon BuckinghamshireBishop of Coutances1086
Lewes Sussex William I de Warenne 1086
Liddel Strength Cumberland Ranulph le Meschin pre. 1121
Little Dunmow EssexRalph Bayard1086
Little Easton EssexWalter the Deacon1086
Manchester [20] Lancashire Albert de Gresle temp. William II
Mitford NorthumberlandJohnpre temp. Henry I
Odcombe [lower-alpha 5] SomersetAnsgar I Brito1086
Old Wardon Bedfordshire William Speche (Espec) 1086
Papcastle CumberlandWaldevetemp. Henry I
Patricksbourne [lower-alpha 6] KentRichard FitzWilliam1086
Peak Derbyshire William I Peverel 1086
Pevensey SussexGilbert I de l'Aigle1106–1114
Plympton Devon Richard I de Reviers 1087–1107
Pontefract YorkshireIlbert I de Lacy1086
Rayleigh EssexSwain of Essex1086
Richmond Yorkshire Alan Rufus 1086
Rothersthorpe NorthamptonshireGunfrid de Cioches1086
Skipton Yorkshire Robert de Rumilly temp. William II
Stogursey (Stoke Courcy)Somerset William de Falaise 1086
Swanscombe KentHelte [lower-alpha 7] 1086
Tamworth Staffordshire Robert Dispensator 1086
Tarrant Keyneston DorsetRalph de Kainestemp. Henry I
Thirsk Yorkshire Robert de Mowbray pre-1095
Tickhill Yorkshire Roger de Busli 1086
Topcliffe Yorkshire William I de Percy 1086
Tutbury Staffordshire Henry de Ferrers 1086
Wark Northumberland Walter Espec temp. Henry I (1100–1135)
Warter YorkshireGeoffrey FitzPainc. 1101
Whalton NorthumberlandWalter FitzWilliampre-1161
Witham Essex Eustace II, Count of Boulogne 1086
Wrinstead [lower-alpha 8] Kent William Peverel post 1088

Source, unless otherwise stated: Sanders (1960), pp. 103–151


Later establishments

See also


  1. The term 'caput baroniae' is often shortened to 'caput'
  2. The survey in fact covered all the king's tenants-in-chief, not just those who held per baroniam, which adds much uncertainty as to the exact meaning of the term "baron".[ citation needed ]
  3. Chiselborough held from Robert Count of Mortain
  4. Now in Berkshire
  5. Odcombe held from Count of Mortain 1086
  6. Patricksbourne held from Odo of Bayeux 1086
  7. Held from the Bishop of Bayeux
  8. Wrinstead: now represented by Wrinstead Court, c. 11 miles NW of Ashford, Kent

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Barons in Scotland</span> Scottish feudal barons, and a list of baronies

In Scotland, a baron or baroness is the head of a feudal barony, also known as a prescriptive barony. This used to be attached to a particular piece of land on which was situated the caput or essence of the barony, normally a building, such as a castle or manor house. Accordingly, the owner of the piece of land containing the caput was called a baron or baroness. According to Grant, there were around 350 identifiable local baronies in Scotland by the early fifteenth century and these could mostly be mapped against local parish boundaries. The term baron was in general use from the thirteenth century to describe what would have been known in England as a knight of the shire.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Knight-service</span> Land tenure under the feudal system

Knight-service was a form of feudal land tenure under which a knight held a fief or estate of land termed a knight's fee from an overlord conditional on him as a tenant performing military service for his overlord.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudal baron</span> Hereditary medieval title

A feudal baron is a vassal holding a heritable fief called a barony, comprising a specific portion of land, granted by an overlord in return for allegiance and service. Following the end of European feudalism, feudal baronies have largely been superseded by baronies held as a rank of nobility, without any attachment to a fief. However, in Scotland, the feudal dignity of baron remains in existence, and may be bought and sold independently of the land to which it was formerly attached.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mulgrave Castle</span> Country house in North Yorkshire, England

Mulgrave Castle refers to one of three structures on the same property in Lythe, near Whitby, North Yorkshire, England. One of these, known as the "old" or "ancient" castle, was by legend founded by Wada, a 6th-century ruler of Hälsingland. The second castle, caput of the feudal barony of Mulgrave, was of Norman construction and remained active until destroyed by order of Parliament in 1647. The third is a country house which was constructed by Lady Catherine Darnley and passed in 1718 by marriage into the Phipps family, when her daughter Lady Catherine Annesley married William Phipps. The Phipps family later held the titles of Baron Mulgrave, Earl of Mulgrave and Marquess of Normanby.

Feudal relief was a one-off "fine" or form of taxation payable to an overlord by the heir of a feudal tenant to license him to take possession of his fief, i.e. an estate-in-land, by inheritance. It is comparable to a death duty or inheritance tax.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudalism in England</span>

Feudalism as practiced in the Kingdoms of England during the medieval period was a state of human society that organized political and military leadership and force around a stratified formal structure based on land tenure. As a military defence and socio-economic paradigm designed to direct the wealth of the land to the king while it levied military troops to his causes, feudal society was ordered around relationships derived from the holding of land. Such landholdings are termed fiefdoms, traders, fiefs, or fees.

The Manor of Dyrham was a former manorial estate in the parish of Dyrham in South Gloucestershire, England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudal barony of Bampton</span>

The feudal barony of Bampton was one of eight feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the mediaeval era, and had its caput at Bampton Castle within the manor of Bampton.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudal barony of Okehampton</span> Barony in medieval Devon, England

The feudal barony of Okehampton was a very large feudal barony, the largest mediaeval fiefdom in the county of Devon, England, whose caput was Okehampton Castle and manor. It was one of eight feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the mediaeval era.

The feudal barony of Gloucester or Honour of Gloucester was one of the largest of the mediaeval English feudal baronies in 1166, comprising 279 knight's fees, or manors. The constituent landholdings were spread over many counties. The location of the caput at Gloucester is not certain as Gloucester Castle appears to have been a royal castle, but it is known that the baronial court was held at Bristol in Gloucestershire.

The Feudal barony of Cardinham is one of the three feudal baronies in Cornwall which existed during the medieval era. Its caput was at Cardinham Castle, Cornwall. The Barony was held in recent times by the Vivian family, the last being Nicholas Vivian, 6th Baron Vivian. Brigadier Nicholas Crespigny Laurence Vivian, 6th Baron Vivian, conveyed the title to John Anthony Vincent of Edifici Maxim's, Carrer General, Arsinal, Principat Andora, in 1995. Mr. Vincent was a member of the Manorial Society of Great Britain and died in Douglas, Isle of Man, on 31 March 2018. The Barony was then conveyed after the probate of his estate to an American citizen on 25 May 2019.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudal barony of Plympton</span>

The feudal barony of Plympton was a large feudal barony in the county of Devon, England, whose caput was Plympton Castle and manor, Plympton. It was one of eight feudal baronies in Devonshire which existed during the medieval era. It included the so-called Honour of Christchurch in Hampshire, which was not however technically a barony. The de Redvers family, first holders of the barony, were also Lords of the Isle of Wight, which lordship was not inherited by the Courtenays, as was the barony of Plympton, as it had been sold to the king by the last in the line Isabel de Redvers, 8th Countess of Devon (1237–1293).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baron Marmion</span>

There have been four different baronies held by the Marmion family, two feudal baronies, one purported barony created by Simon de Montfort and one barony by writ.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Feudal barony of Appleby</span>

The feudal barony of Appleby was a feudal barony with its caput at Appleby Castle in Appleby, Westmorland, England.


  1. Alexander, J. J. (1941), "Early Barons of Torrington and Barnstaple", Report and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 73: 154
  2. Sanders (1960), p.138, refers to the "Lord" of Halton being the hereditary constable of the County Palatine of Chester, and omits Halton from both his lists.
  3. 1 2 Sanders (1960), p.68
  4. Passage on servitium debitum based on Douglas (1959), p.894
  5. Douglas (1959), p.915
  6. Roskell, J. S.; Roskell Clark, Linda; Roskell Rawcliffe, Carole, eds. (1992). House of Commons 1386–1421. The History of Parliament. Vol. 1: Introductory survey, appendices, constituencies. Stroud: Alan Sutton. p. 751. Constituencies, Cinque Ports
  7. 1 2 3 Sanders (1960), preface, v.
  8. Collins's Peerage Claims, P287"the nature of a Barony by tenure being discoursed, it was found to have been discontinued for many ages, and not in being, and not fit to be revived, or to admit any pretence of right of succession thereupon: And that the pretence of a barony by tenure being declared for weighty reasons not to be one to be insisted upon"
  9. "1861 English Reports Decisions: The Berkeley Peerage" (PDF). Commonwealth Legal Information Institute. 1861. 8 H.L.C. 21 at 74
  10. Barsby, A W; Barsby, C (1996). Manorial Law. Barsby Ltd. ISBN   9780952162520.
  11. Sanders (1960), p.56-7 Barony of Kendal; p.103-4 probable Barony of Appleby (Westmorland)
  12. The caput of this Barony of Gloucester is uncertain (Sanders, p.6)
  13. English, B., The Lords of Holderness, 1086–1260: A Study in Feudal Society, Oxford, 1979
  14. Poulett, Scrope G., The History of the Manor and Ancient Barony of Castle Combe in the County of Wiltshire, privately printed, 1852
  15. I.J.Sanders Page 37 & 84
  16. Batten, J. The Barony of Beauchamp of Somerset, in: Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 36(1891), pp.20–59
  17. Greenway, D.E., ed. (1972). Charters of the Honour of Mowbray 1107–1191. London.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  18. Powley, E.B. The House of De La Pomerai, Liverpool, 1944
  19. Hasted, Edward (1798). "Parishes". The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent. 6. Institute of Historical Research: 386–393. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  20. Manchester was held of the Honour of Lancaster, per Sanders (1960), p.130, note 8, therefore possibly more properly a barony within a County Palatine


Further reading