Tithing

Last updated

A tithing or tything was a historic English legal, administrative or territorial unit, originally ten hides (and hence, one tenth of a hundred). Tithings later came to be seen as subdivisions of a manor or civil parish. The tithing's leader or spokesman was known as a tithingman . [1] [2] [3]

Contents

Etymology

The noun tithing is not to be confused with the verb tithing , nor the act of tithing, though they partly share the same origin. The noun breaks down as ten + thing, which is to say, a thing (an assembly) of the households who live in an area that comprises ten hides. Comparable words are Danish herredthing for a hundred, and English husting for a single household.

Sound changes in the prehistory of English are responsible for the first part of the word looking so different from the word ten. In the West Germanic dialects which became Old English, n had a tendency to elide when positioned immediately before a th.

History

The term originated in the 10th century, when a tithing meant the households in an area comprising ten hides. The heads of each of those households were referred to as tithingmen; historically they were assumed to all be males, and older than 12 (an adult, in the context of the time). Each tithingman was individually responsible for the actions and behaviour of all the members of the tithing, by a system known as frankpledge. If a person accused of a crime was not forthcoming, his tithing was fined; if he was not part of the frankpledge, the whole town was subject to the fine. [4]

Unlike areas dominated by Wessex, Kent had been settled by Jutes rather than Saxons, and retained elements of its historical identity as a separate and wealthy kingdom into the Middle Ages. While Wessex and Mercia eventually grouped their hundreds into Shires, Kent grouped hundreds into lathes . Sussex, which had also been a separate kingdom, similarly grouped its hundreds into rapes . The different choice of terminology continued to the level of the tithing; in Kent, parts of Surrey, and Sussex, the equivalent term was a borgh, borow, or borough (not to be confused with borough in its more usual sense of a chartered or privileged town); [5] [6] [7] their equivalent to the tithingman was therefore a borsholder, borough-holder or headborough . [8] [9]

The Norman Conquest introduced the feudal system, which quickly displaced the importance of the hundred as an administrative unit. With the focus on manorial courts for administration and minor justice, tithings came to be seen as subdivisions of a manor. The later break-down of the feudal system did not detract from this, as the introduction of Justices of the Peace lead to petty sessions displacing many of the administrative and judicial functions of the manorial courts. By the Reformation, civil parishes had replaced the manor as the most important local administrative concept, and tithings came to be seen as a parish subdivision.

Frankpledge eventually evolved into both the Jury system and the petty constabulary, but tithings themselves had lost their practical significance, and fell into disuse. Despite this, active tithings continued to be found in some parts of rural England well into the 19th century, and tithings and hundreds have never been formally abolished.

See also

Related Research Articles

Historic counties of England Geographical designations for areas of England, based on historical traditions

The historic counties of England are areas that were established for administration by the Normans, in many cases based on earlier kingdoms and shires created by the Anglo-Saxons and others. They are alternatively known as ancient counties, traditional counties, former counties or simply as counties. In the centuries that followed their establishment, as well as their administrative function, the counties also helped define local culture and identity. This role continued even after the counties ceased to be used for administration after the creation of administrative counties in 1889, which were themselves amended by further local government reforms in the years following.

A hundred is an administrative division that is geographically part of a larger region. It was formerly used in England, Wales, some parts of the United States, Denmark, Southern Schleswig, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Norway, the Ukrainian state of Cossack Hetmanate and in Cumberland County in the British Colony of New South Wales. It is still used in other places, including in Australia.

In England, a township is a local division or district of a large parish containing a village or small town usually having its own church. A township may or may not be coterminous with a chapelry, manor, or any other minor area of local administration.

Lord of the manor

Lord of the manor is a title that, in Anglo-Saxon England, referred to the landholder of a rural estate. The lord enjoyed manorial rights as well as seignory, the right to grant or draw benefit from the remainder. The title continues in modern England and Wales as a legally recognised form of property that can be held independently of its historical rights. It may belong entirely to one person or be a moiety shared with other people.

Salford Hundred

The Salford Hundred was one of the subdivisions of the historic county of Lancashire, in Northern England (see:Hundred. Its name alludes to its judicial centre being the township of Salford. It was also known as the Royal Manor of Salford and the Salford wapentake.

Frankpledge was a system of joint suretyship common in England throughout the Early Middle Ages and High Middle Ages. The essential characteristic was the compulsory sharing of responsibility among persons connected in tithings. This unit, under a leader known as the chief-pledge or tithing-man, was then responsible for producing any man of that tithing suspected of a crime. If the man did not appear, the entire group could be fined.

The court leet was a historical court baron of England and Wales and Ireland that exercised the "view of frankpledge" and its attendant police jurisdiction, which was normally restricted to the hundred courts.

Advowson or patronage is the right in English law of a patron (avowee) to present to the diocesan bishop a nominee for appointment to a vacant ecclesiastical benefice or church living, a process known as presentation.

Reeve (England)

Originally in Anglo-Saxon England the reeve was a senior official with local responsibilities under the Crown, e.g., as the chief magistrate of a town or district. Subsequently, after the Norman conquest, it was an office held by a man of lower rank, appointed as manager of a manor and overseer of the peasants. In this later role, historian H. R. Loyn observes, "he is the earliest English specialist in estate management."

Vill is a term used in English history to describe the basic rural land unit, roughly comparable to that of a parish, manor, village or tithing.

In English law, the term headborough, head-borough, borough-head, borrowhead, or chief pledge, referred historically to the head of the legal, administrative, and territorial unit known as a tithing, which sometimes, particularly in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, was known as a borgh, borow, or borough. The office was rendered in Latin documents as capitalis plegius or decennarius (tenner).

A parish constable, also known as a petty constable, was a law enforcement officer, usually unpaid and part-time, serving a parish. The position evolved from the ancient chief pledge of a tithing, and takes its name from the office of constable, with which it was originally unconnected.

Blackheath Hundred or the Hundred of Blackheath was a hundred in the county of Surrey, England. It corresponds to parts of the districts of Waverley and Guildford.

Glaston Twelve Hides

Glaston Twelve Hides is one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

The Hundred of Kingsbury is one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

The Hundred of Pitney is one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

The Hundred of Portbury is one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

The Hundred of Taunton Deane was one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ancient county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

The Hundred of Tintinhull is one of the 40 historical Hundreds in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, dating from before the Norman conquest during the Anglo-Saxon era although exact dates are unknown. Each hundred had a 'fyrd', which acted as the local defence force and a court which was responsible for the maintenance of the frankpledge system. They also formed a unit for the collection of taxes. The role of the hundred court was described in the Dooms (laws) of King Edgar. The name of the hundred was normally that of its meeting-place.

Guildable Manor is a Court Leet in Southwark under the authority of the City of London, along with the King's Manor, Southwark, and the Great Liberty. The name of 'Guildable' first recorded in 1377 refers to the collection of taxes there and was adopted to distinguish this from the other manors of the Southwark area. Its legal title, according to a Royal charter granted to the City by King Edward III in 1327, is 'the ville of Southwark' i.e. 'ville = 'town'; in the more substantive charter of Edward VI it is designated 'The Town and Borough of Southwark' as is stated on its Seal. It is a preserved limited jurisdiction under the Administration of Justice Act 1977. Although neither a guild nor a livery company, the Guildable Manor does have a permanent organization, consisting of Officers and Jurors.

References

  1. Dictionary definition of "Tithing" Archived 2013-04-16 at archive.today
  2. Dictionary definition of "Tithingman" [ permanent dead link ]. Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  3. Kenneth F. Duggan "The Limits of Strong Government: Attempts to Control Criminality in Thirteenth-Century England" Historical Research 93:261 (2020) pp. 402–409
  4. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Tithing"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 26 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1022.
  5. Parsons, David; Styles, Tania, eds. (1997). The Vocabulary of English Place-Names (Á–Cox). Nottingham: Centre for English Name Studies. p. 129. ISBN   0952534355.
  6. Baker, A.R.H. (1966). "Field Systems in the Vale of Holmesdale". Agricultural History Review. 14 (1): 11 (note). Click on the link for "Full text of article" to download the article in PDF format.
  7. E 179/249/33 Part 2 of 10. (1663). The National Archives. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  8. Johnson, S. et al. (1835), English Dictionary, p. 148.
  9. Dictionary definition of "Borsholder" Archived 2013-04-16 at archive.today . Webster's Online Dictionary. Retrieved 19 January 2012.

Further reading