The Wiltshire Estates of Edward of Salisbury, Jean Martin


According to the Domesday Survey of 1086, Edward of Salisbury was a wealthy landholder with estates in nine counties in southern England. His largest property comprised adjoining manors on the Dorset/Hampshire border at Canford Magna and Kinson with a combined value, in 1086, of £70. Wilcot was probably his principal Wiltshire manor; this is the first of his estates mentioned in
the Survey and had a large house, a vineyard and a new church.

In all, Edward held forty-two estates in Wiltshire as a chief tenant of the Crown; these varied in taxable hidage from 20 hides at Shrewton to ¾ hide at Middleton. Many of these estates appear later as possessions of either Edward’s descendants, the Earls of Salisbury, or the de Bohun family, who were related to Edward through marriage. Edward also held land as a subsidiary tenant, although the exact amount is unclear due to a lack of positive identification. However, as land at Mildenhall, Tisbury, Durnford and Boscombe appears in the records of the Earls of Salisbury, it is reasonable to assume that Edward of Salisbury was the tenant in 1086.

Jean Martin, Estates of the Crown and Edward the Sheriff in 1086

Estates of the Crown and Edward the Sheriff in 1086.
Basis for Map: Hundredal Maps in F. Thorn & C. Thorn, Domesday Book Wiltshire, and map of ‘British and related place names’, B. Eagles, ‘Anglo-Saxon Presence and Culture in Wiltshire c. 450-675’, in Roman Wiltshire and After, ed. P. Ellis (Devizes, 2001)

The Domesday Survey for Wiltshire gives little indication of how Edward acquired his estates. No 1066 tenants were given for Wilcot, Alton Barnes or Etchilhampton, and this has led to speculation that these manors were in Edward’s possession in 1066, either as owner or tenant. Eighteen of his estates (seven in Wiltshire) came from just three 1066 holders of land, Wulfwynn, Azur and Alwine. Edward appears to have received all of Wulfwynn’s estates, representing approximately a third of his total Fee, with a value in 1086 of £148.10s. Entries in the Domesday Survey and the earlier Geld Roll give the impression that Edward was avaricious. It is evident there were disputes involving land in Wiltshire with Wulfwi, the former holder at Langley Burrell, Croc the Huntsman (North Tidworth), William de Picigny (Bradenstoke) and Glastonbury Abbey (Little Langford). These were specifically mentioned, but disputes may also have occurred
with ecclesiastical authorities at Christian Malford, Bremhill, Ashton and Burcombe.

Most of Edward’s Wiltshire estates were in one of three groups: in the north-west of the county, mainly around the Bristol Avon and its tributary the Bybrook; to the north-east of Salisbury Plain in the upper reaches of the Salisbury Avon and the Pewsey Vale; and lastly on the southern part of Salisbury Plain and along the tributaries feeding into the Salisbury Avon. These properties served to support his administrative duties as sheriff; others were exploited for their agricultural incomes; and the remainder were held by his military tenants.

Edward’s principal rôle was as the king’s representative in the county, and his duties included administering royal estates and collecting revenues; and he may also have had military and judicial duties acting as castellan of Salisbury Castle and attending the shire court. He probably also had duties associated with the king’s hunting rights in the county. The distribution of Edward’s estates indicate that a number were in close proximity to royal manors at Warminster, Chippenham, Rushall, Calne, Melksham and Ogbourne. Edward’s estate at Lacock bordered the forests of Melksham and Chippenham; and manors at Ludgershall and North Tidworth were close to another royal forest at Chute on the Hampshire border. Other indicators of an administrative function are place and occupation names. ‘Shrewton’, located near the royal domain at Tilshead, is derived from scirgerefa-tun, the sheriff ’s settlement; and Edward’s tenant at Somerford was Scirweald.

Edward’s demesne estates in Wiltshire accounted for approximately two-thirds of the total value of his holdings in the shire, his English tenancies around ten percent and his Norman tenants the remainder. Edward appears to have fully exploited his demesne estates. An analysis indicates extensive areas of pasture and woodland. Pasture was concentrated on manors in the vicinity of Salisbury Plain, principally at Chitterne and Shrewton. Chitterne also had a concentration of woodland, as did Lacock and Poole Keynes on the Gloucestershire border. He also had revenues from several mills, seven of which were on estates held in demesne. Five of Edward’s English tenants had estates in the valleys to the west of Chitterne; and they probably assisted in the farming activities of the main estates.

Osmund is probably the only one of the Norman tenants who can be identified with any certainty, as he is likely to have been the Bishop of Salisbury, appointed to the diocese in 1078. He held two small estates at Amesbury, not far from his cathedral seat at Salisbury. The rest of the Norman tenants were likely to have been knights holding land for military service, in all probability consisting of guard duties at Salisbury castle. However, it is worth noting that three of these tenants held land adjacent to major route-ways and river crossings at North Wraxall, Langley Burrell and Blunsdon. Edward’s own estates at Porton, Lacock, and his tenancy at Mildenhall were all at major river crossings. These locations could have served to increase Edward’s revenues from tolls; but also provided an opportunity to control the movement of people if required.