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Saturday, November 29, 2014

40.1 Establishing the Durnfords in England - King William's invasion - Cornwall region


Members of the Dernford/Durnford family have been traced to South West and Cornwall areas, and to the Wiltshire area.

For an understanding of the conditions from the Conquest the following posts provide some early historical research

While King William defeated poor old King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066,
the Saxons  still tried to put up a fight for lands in Cornwall.      
In 1068, Harold's sons raided the south-west coast of England (dealt with by William's local commanders), and there were uprisings in the Welsh Marches, Devon and Cornwall.

William appointed earls who, in Wales and in all parts of the kingdom, undertook to guard the threatened frontiers and maintain internal security in return for land.

In 1069, the Danes, in alliance with Prince Edgar the Aetheling (Ethelred's great-grandson) and other English nobles, invaded the north and took York.

Taking personal charge, and pausing only to deal with the rising at Stafford, William drove the Danes back to their ships on the Humber.

William imprisoned Edgar

In a harsh campaign lasting into 1070, William systematically devastated Mercia and Northumbria to deprive the Danes of their supplies and prevent recovery of English resistance. Churches and monasteries were burnt, and agricultural land was laid to waste, creating a famine for the unarmed and mostly peasant population which lasted at least nine years.

Although the Danes were bribed to leave the north, King Sweyn of Denmark and his ships threatened the east coast (in alliance with various English, including Hereward the Wake) until a treaty of peace was concluded in June 1070.

Further north, where the boundary with Scotland was unclear, King Malcolm III was encroaching into England. Yet again, William moved swiftly and moved land and sea forces north to invade Scotland. The Treaty of Abernethy in 1072 marked a truce, which was reinforced by Malcolm's eldest son being accepted as a hostage.

William consolidated his conquest by starting a castle-building campaign in strategic areas. Originally these castles were wooden towers on earthen 'mottes' (mounds) with a bailey (defensive area) surrounded by earth ramparts, but many were later rebuilt in stone. By the end of William's reign over 80 castles had been built throughout his kingdom, as a permanent reminder of the new Norman feudal order.

William's wholesale confiscation of land from English nobles and their heirs (many nobles had died at the battles of Stamford Bridge and Senlac) enabled him to recruit and retain an army, by demanding military duties in exchange for land tenancy granted to Norman, French and Flemish allies.

He created up to 180 'honours' (lands scattered through shires, with a castle as the governing centre), and in return had some 5,000 knights at his disposal to repress rebellions and pursue campaigns; the knights were augmented by mercenaries and English infantry from the Anglo-Saxon militia, raised from local levies. William also used the fyrd, the royal army - a military arrangement which had survived the Conquest.

The King's tenants-in-chief in turn created knights under obligation to them and for royal duties (this was called subinfeudation), with the result that private armies centred around private castles were created - these were to cause future problems of anarchy for unfortunate or weak kings. By the end of William's reign, a small group of the King's tenants had acquired about half of England's landed wealth. Only two Englishmen still held large estates directly from the King. A foreign aristocracy had been imposed as the new governing class.

The expenses of numerous campaigns, together with an economic slump (caused by the shifts in landed wealth, and the devastation of northern England for military and political reasons), prompted William to order a full-scale investigation into the actual and potential wealth of the kingdom to maximise tax revenues.

The language of the day

The Domesday survey was prompted by ignorance of the state of land holding in England, as well as the result of the costs of defence measures in England and renewed war in France.

The scope, speed, efficiency and completion of this survey was remarkable for its time and resulted in the two-volume Domesday Book of 1086, which still exists today    

William needed to ensure the direct loyalty of his feudal tenants. The 1086 Oath of Salisbury was a gathering of William's 170 tenants-in-chief and other important landowners who took an oath of fealty to William.

William's reach extended elsewhere into the Church and the legal system. French superseded the vernacular (Anglo-Saxon). Personally devout, William used his bishops to carry out administrative duties. Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1070, was a first-class administrator who assisted in government when William was absent in France, and who reorganised the Church in England.

Having established the primacy of his archbishopric over that of York, and with William's approval, Lanfranc excommunicated rebels, and set up Church or spiritual courts to deal with ecclesiastical matters. Lanfranc also replaced English bishops and abbots (some of whom had already been removed by the Council of Winchester under papal authority) with Norman or French clergy to reduce potential political resistance. In addition, Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals were rebuilt and some of the bishops' sees were moved to urban centres.

At his coronation, William promised to uphold existing laws and customs. The Anglo-Saxon shire courts and 'hundred' courts (which administered defence and tax, as well as justice matters) remained intact, as did regional variations and private Anglo-Saxon jurisdictions.

To strengthen royal justice, William relied on sheriffs (previously smaller landowners, but replaced by influential nobles) to supervise the administration of justice in existing county courts, and sent members of his own court to conduct important trials. However, the introduction of Church courts, the mix of Norman/Roman law and the differing customs led to a continuing complex legal framework.

More severe forest laws reinforced William's conversion of the New Forest into a vast Royal deer reserve. These laws caused great resentment, and to English chroniclers the New Forest became a symbol of William's greed. Nevertheless the King maintained peace and order. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1087 declared 'he was a very stern and violent man, so no one dared do anything contrary to his will ... Amongst other things the good security he made in this country is not to be forgotten.'

It should be noted that there was a language barrier between the Anglo Saxons and the new nobility.  The people in Cornwall had their own dialect, and nobility spoke French, surnames were not used, and only scholars and bishops could write, so much of history at that time, has been carried out by learned people over many centuries.

This story from the Cornwall Heritage Trust presents some great information

The Normans arrive...
With the arrival of the Normans to the British mainland in 1066, the River Tamar became the agreed border. There was an acceptance that Cornwall had a separate identity to the rest of England but Cornwall was nevertheless included in the feudal political system established across the country.
The first Earl of Cornwall was Cadoc, a survivor of the Cornish royal line.

A revolt based at Exeter forced the King to march into Cornwall in 1068 after which he gave most of Cornwall instead to Count Brian son of Eudes, Count of Penthièvre in Brittany, who had fought with William at Hastings.

In 1069 he fought-off an attempt by Harold Godnwinson’s sons to reclaim the English throne. When Brian died leaving no heirs William gave Cornwall to his half-brother Robert, Count of Mortain, the second- largest landholder in England.

He had supplied 120 ships for the invasion of England, fought at Hastings, appears in the Bayeux Tapestry and was a loyal and trusted servant: most of Cornwall was his reward. The King kept some Cornish land for himself and some was kept by existing monasteries and by the Bishop of Exeter. 

The Domesday Book 1086 and the growth of towns

The Domesday Book recorded that the very best of the Cornish estates, 227 (of 350) and valued at £424, were in the hands of Robert, Count of Mortain. The remainder were held by a mixture of Anglo-Saxons, Bretons and Flemings.

Mappa Mundi, drawn around 1290AD, 
kept in Hereford Cathedral, shows
the four constituent parts of Britain as 
England, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall.
Mappa Mundi, drawn around 1290AD

By this time Cornwall was divided into 7 (later 9) administrative areas known as 'hundreds'. The original hundreds were Penwith, Kerrier, Pydar, Powder, East and West Wivel and Trigg.

 Trigg was then subdivided to create two more “hundreds”, Lesnewth and Stratton. 
Robert of Mortain became the Earl of Cornwall and built Launceston Castle. 

A new town grew up around the castle and this became the capital of the county. At around the same time castles were built at Trematon, Restormel and Tintagel.

Truro was given its charter in 1173 by Reginald de Dunstanville, 1st Earl of Cornwall 'to my free burgesses of Truro'. It was addressed ' to the barons of Cornwall, and all men both Cornish and English'. The language shows the strange relationship between Cornwall and the English crown, very much an independent nation under the 'protection' of the English state.

Restormel Castle. Built around 1100, this is one of the 
best-preserved Norman motte-and-bailey castles in Cornwall.
It dominates the Fowey Valley near Lostwithiel.
Restormel Castle. Built around 1100, this is one of the
best-preserved Norman motte-and-bailey castles in Cornwall.
It dominates the Fowey Valley near Lostwithiel.
The biggest settlement in 1086 was Bodmin, with an estimated population of 1000 people. Domesday, of course, only lists men so the numbers of women and children have to be guessed-at. It had 68 a market and 68 dwellings, becoming a borough in 1285.

Launceston was the capital of the Earldom of Cornwall, its wooden castle soon was replaced by one of stone; so important was Launceston that it was the only Cornish town to have a town wall and gates built around it.

However, in about 1280 Lostwithiel was made the county capital by Edmund , Earl of Cornwall and the 'Duchy Palace' was built in the town at about this time. This once extensive building incorporated the Shire Hall, the Exchequer of the Earldom (later Duchy), the Stannary Gaol and the Coinage Hall. (see later notes on the stannary system).

In 1295, reflecting their status within the county, Truro, Bodmin, Tregony, Launceston and Liskeard were each granted the right to send 2 representatives to the Parliament of Edward I. This privilege continued until the Second Reform Act of 1867.

A contemporary picture of the Black Death.
At the time its cause was a complete mystery, 
this picture seeming to blame it on Halley’s Comet.
A contemporary picture of the Black Death.
At the time its cause was a complete mystery,
this picture seeming to blame it on Halley’s Comet.
The Black Death
The Black Death (or “Great Pestilence”) reached Cornwall 1349, almost certainly by ship, peaking in 1350/1 and breaking-out again in 1352. Estimates suggest that towns such as Truro and Bodmin lost half of their populations.

The Dukes and Duchy of Cornwall

Throughout the middle ages noblemen were created Earl of Cornwall, but each time their lines soon died out and the title lapsed for a few years. Here are some of the notable holders of the post at this time:
  • 1135-41 Count Allan of Brittany (appointed by King Stephen) 
  • 1141-54 Reginald de Dunstanville (appointed by King Stephen)
  • 1154 Richard, uncle of Henry II (appointed by Henry II)
  • 1225 Richard, younger brother of Henry III (appointed by Henry III) Richard had already been granted the rights to the Cornish tin-workings 
  • 1272-1300 Edmund who modernized Restormel Castle and was the last Earl of Cornwall to live in the county. 
  • 1300-1307 Kings Edward I and Edward II kept the title for themselves
  • 1307-12 Piers Gaveston, court favourite, (given the title by Edward II) until his execution in 1312.
  • 1336-7, Edward, the “Black Prince” (appointed by Edward III) and the first “Duke of Cornwall.” By this time the Duke’s lands in Cornwall consisted of 17 manors and the boroughs of Camelford, Grampound, Helston, Launceston, Liskeard, Lostwithiel, Tintagel, Trematon and Saltash. Other benefits included the profits from the county courts, control of wrecks and the right to collect a duty of £2 on each 1,000lbs. of tin produced in Cornwall.
Since 1421, the title has automatically gone to the eldest son of the sovereign.

Cornwall and the rest of England

Cornwall was still a distinct and to a great extent separate part of the kingdom. The Cornish were expected to play their part in the defence of the kingdom. In 1415, for example, Cornish archers fought under a banner depicting two Cornish wrestlers at the Battle of Agincourt.

An early map of Britain showing Cornwall
as a distinct part of Britain
An early map of Britain showing Cornwall
as a distinct part of Britain
In 1485 Polydore Vergil, the Italian cleric commissioned by King Henry VII to write a history of England, wrote that "The whole country of Britain is divided into four parts, whereof the one is inhabited by Englishmen, the other of Scots, the third of Welshmen, the fourth of Cornish people ... and which all differ among themselves either in tongue, either in manners, or else in laws and ordinances."
Mediaeval Cornish Church history

Most of the parish churches in Cornwall date from this time. In the medieval towns which developed during the middle ages there was usually just a “chapel of ease”, with the rights of burial and other parish functions remaining at the ancient parish church often some distance away. An example of this is Penzance, whose parish church was at Madron, some two miles to the north of the town.

Dupath Holy Well
Dupath Holy Well
Over a hundred mediaeval holy wells exist in Cornwall, each associated with a particular saint, though not always the same one as the dedication of the nearest church. One of these, at Dupath, is in the protection of Cornwall Heritage Trust.

Glasney College at Penryn
Glasney College at Penryn
Various kinds of religious houses existed in mediaeval Cornwall but there were no nunneries; the benefices of the parishes were in many cases appropriated to religious houses within Cornwall or elsewhere in England or France. 

Perhaps the most significant religious house of this time was Glasney College, set-up at Penryn by the Bishop Bronescombe of Exeter in 1264-5. This fortified residence, a “collegiate house”, housed 26 clerics and had its own church, domestic quarters, refectory, chapter house and cemetery. It became as a focal point for Cornish literature, largely religious-themed mystery plays, in the 14th century. It was subsequently destroyed during the Reformation

Medieval Cornwall supported an internationally important tin industry. Tin streaming and shallow shaft mining provided employment and created wealth far beyond the norm for such a remote and poor agricultural area. Shallow mining effectively mapped the major areas where tin occurred and many valleys in Cornwall were streamed for tin.
Archaeological evidence of these activities still exists on Bodmin Moor, in West Penwith, on Goss Moor, Breney Common and Redmoor, as well as in the county’s wooded valleys. The landscape of the region’s medieval tin mining industry represents the most extensive remains of pre-1700 mining in Britain.
Streaming had some particular consequences: the removal of millions of tonnes of overburden, together with the finely crushed waste of ore-processing resulted in the rivers and estuaries in the region becoming heavily silted-up. Looe River, the Fowey, Fal, Carnon, Helford, Cober, Hayle and Red Rivers all have mineral deposit in them many metres deep and tidal limits have been progressively pushed downriver, many former ports becoming subsequently marooned amidst marsh and mud-flats.

The importance of the tin industry at this time led to the establishment of a special legal framework, first enshrined in a charter from King John in 1201, because of '....the desire of the Cornish tinners to be separated from those of Devon...' . This charter gave privileges to the tinners, and their industry, exempting them from normal laws and taxation, allowing tinners to search for tin on common land and gave them their own courts and goal at Launceston. 

In return for these rights they paid a special tax, that was calculated at the time of coinage. The areas of jurisdiction were defined as four Stannaries in Cornwall: Foweymore (now Bodmin Moor); Blackmoor (Hensbarrow Moor north of St Austell); Tywarnhayle (St Agnes, Truro and Scorrier); and the united Stannaries of Penwith & Kerrier.

The Stannary Palace
The Stannary Palace (or “Duchy Palace” in Lostwithiel), dating from the end of the C13th,
was built to house a Court dealing with the Cornish tin industry.
No fixed boundaries were set for the stannaries so in effect they covered all of Cornwall and as each stannary appointed 6 “stannators” to the “Stannary Parliament”, which represented all of Cornwall.

Each stannary had a “stannary town” (or towns) where tinners presented their blocks of smelted tin to be tested for purity, before paying tax on them. This provided the Duchy of Cornwall, set up in 1337, with a significant source of revenue. The Duchy was also probably the largest single mineral lord in the south-west. It owned the beds of most of the rivers and some of the estuaries, and royalties were earned from tin-streaming activities conducted in them.

The importance of tin mining during this period is clear from the Stannary Charter of 1305. This re-affirmed the Crown's right of “pre-emption”, (the crown had “first call” upon the tin mined in Cornwall). This was confirmed politically when in 1338 Edward the Black Prince, (eldest son of Edward III) was created the first Duke of Cornwall.

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