The Settlement Around London


The Settlement Around London

Bede tells us of battles in Kent between the Jutes and the Britons during the latter part of the fifth century, and it was probably these battles that opened the way for the settlement around London. He wrote from the traditional knowledge of these events, and his statement maybe accepted as evidence of a series of conflicts that must have occurred before the British people abandoned London-a distinguished city, which during the late Roman period bore the name Augusta. There were roads into it from all directions: from Canterbury, from Pevensey, from Chichester; from Silchester and from the south-west parts of Britain; from Uriconium, or Wroxeter, and the Midlane distreict; from York and Lincoln, and from Colchester. These roads and other less important ways radiated from London like spokes of a wheel, thus proving the importance of the Roman city. They all existed at the time of the coming of the new settlers; many of them exist to this day, and the lines of others can be traced. The Romans made them, and our Anglo-Saxon forefathers wore them down, and here and there roughly repaired them.

The earliest Saxon records supply no evidence of the city in ruined state. On the contrary, they show its continued existence as a port from the earliest date to which they relate. From its greatness in roman time, Anglo-Saxon London probably declined, but there is no reason to doubt that it continued to be relatively a great commercial city. The Goths and Frisians, of whom the bulk of the settlers in Kent were composed, were the greatest navigators of Northern Europe. They, called Jutes by Bede, advanced on London. The Thames became their great waterway, and London for a time their chief port. The river by which commodities could be brought into the country and the Roman roads by which they could be distributed are sufficient to show the extreme probability of the continuous existence of London. Nowhere else in England did such a combination of advantages exist.

The city which the newcomers found was on of considerable importance. The great roads alone are sufficient to prove this, and the Roman remains which have been found attest it. It was protected by defensive walls, contained temple, elegant houses, and many other structures characteristic of a place that was the centre of a Roman province.

We must look on the forests around London, in both Roman and Saxon times, as necessities. To have cleared the land and settled a rural population on it, if a sufficient population had existed, would very likely have paralyzed the trade of the city. In an age when pit-coal for fuel was not available a great woodland tract near it was necessary for any great city , such as London was at the end of the Roman period, and continued to be during the Saxon era. We see the same connection of ancient forest lane with a city in the Ainsty, which from ancient time has been within the jurisdiction of York, and which was a great woodland. The forests around London supplied not only fuel for household purposes, but charcoal for arts and handicrafts. The smiths and metal-workers of all kinds required charcoal, and the charcoal-burners in the forests supplied it. Their occupation is one of the oldest, but has now almost disappeared from this country. In the New forest, and other areas charcoal has been has been revitalized for the `barbeque` so drifting from being extinguished. Traces of them exist around London in such place-names as Collier`s Wood. Near Merton. The smiths in Saxon London must have been numerous, and, as the evidence points to settlements an and near the city of Northern Goths, who at the time were the greatest metal-workers in Northern Europe, they were probably also skilful.

The Romans finally left England about A. D. 430, and although the settlement of Kent took place before the end of the fifth century, we have no records until the coming of Augustine, and no historical account until the time of Bede, who died in A. D. 735, or three centuries after the Roman withdrawal. This early Anglo-Saxon age is the darkest period of our history, and yet it was this period that saw the beginning of the English race, and as such must always be a time of much interest t other people of the Anglo-Saxon stock. As history tells us nothing of this period on the evidence of contemporary writers, we may take what Bede and the writers of the various manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle wrote to be the traditional knowledge of this early Saxon period. We nay supplement these accounts by information concerning the various tribes and races which are known to have taken part in the English settlement- or may reasonably be inferred to have participated- their customs, dialects, arts, weapons, race characteristics, and the relics which have been found.

In the Saxon records we first read of London in the year A. D.457, in which year Bede and the Chronicle tell us the great battle of Crayford in Kent was fought, and the British fugitives took refuge within the old Roman walls of London of which small parts mat still be seen. There are no records of what happened in the city after the this battle until the year 604, a century and a half later, when we are told that Augustine hallowed Mellitus as the first Bishop of London, and sent him to preach baptism to the East Saxons; but we know that it was Aethelbert, king of Kent, who gave him his Bishop`s See. Bede also tells us that Aethelbert built the first church of St. Paul, and in the charter granted to it more than four and half centuries later William `the conqueror` specially mentions that the church was of Aethelbert`s foundation. Thus, in the year 457 we lose sight of Roman London in connection with a great victory of the Kentish people over the Britons at Crayford, and when we get the next historical glimpse it is in connection with Aethelbert, King of Kent, founding a Bishop`s See within the city. The inference to be drawn from these two historical statements is plain-viz., that sometime between these two dates the Kentish people drove out the Britons, and took possession of the city. It may have been early or late, even as late as the early part of the time of Aethelbert himself, as Green supposes.(1)

It has been shown that the settlers in Kent must have been manly Goths and Frisians, both maritime nations known to Bede under the general name of the Jutes. It must have been the people of the Jutish race in Kent , assisted probably by emigrants from their former homes, who attacked and took Romano-British London. A great prize was theirs. We know nothing about its loot, but great loot there must have been – sufficient, no doubt, to attract a host of allies from the great shipping centre in the Baltic-Wisby, in the Isle of Gotland. The city became by conquest part of the Kentish dominion.

It would be out of place to discuss at any length how it was probably captured, but, considering that Goths, Frisians, and Wends were all maritime nations, and considering also how centuries later it was taken by the maritime Danes and Norwegians, there can be little doubt that a naval force on the Themes played an important part in its capture. Did the captors destroy it? There is no contemporary information, but, reasoning from archaeological associations, their self-interest in preserving such a commercial prize, and the relatively vast importance of the city in the later Saxon period, there is sufficient reason to think that they did not destroy it. The continuous use of the Roman roads which crossed London from north to south and east to west is evidence of the continuance of ways through it. If the so-called Saxons destroyed it, they must have immediately set to work and have rebuilt it. Some buildings, repugnant to their religious and other ideas, particularly those in the continuance of which they might suspect evil influences, they very probably did destroy, but that the city continued without interruption there is every reason to believe. It probably grew as the Saxon conquest became more and more settled. Bt the time of Aethelstan it had become so great and wealthy that it required a special code of laws of its own, and by the time of Cnut its wealth had become so vast that after his conquest he levied upon it a tax of ten and a half thousand pounds, equal to one-seventh of the levied on the rest of England, and this tax was paid.(2)

Another circumstance which points to the later wealth of Saxon London is that the laws of Aethelstan relating to the city are much concerned with regulations for the capture and punishment of thieves. It is clear that opportunities for thieves would be greater in a rich city filled with merchandise than in other parts of the country. We read of London first as a city controlled by Aethelbert, King of Kent. Whether it was or was not part of the Kingdom of the East Saxons at that time is uncertain, but in any case Aethelbert was their overlord. We have no evidence that the neighbourhood of London was originally settled by people from Essex. Some may have come westward through the great forest, if the eastern part of Essex was occupied by Saxons at that time. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence pointing to this settlement around London having been made by people of the same race as the people of Kent-viz., Goths and Frisians, with probably some Wends. It is most improbable that the Anglo-Saxon people who conquered London could have been any other than those of the Kentish race.

It was not until the year 491, according to historical statements, that the second Saxon Kingdom, Sussex, was founded. Whatever local settlement nay have been formed on the Essex coast, there was certainly no kingdom of Essex until long after the battle of Crayford; and when it does appear, it comes before us as a subordinate Kingdom to that of Kent. History, therefore, if taken alone, points to Kent as the Anglo-Saxon state which first controlled London; but there is other evidence of a remarkable kind which leads to the same conclusion. There are the customs of inheritance which survived in the city for many centuries, and on the great manors that existed around London almost to our own time, which, with other customs, bear an unmistakable resemblance to those of Kent. It cannot be said that none of these have been found in Essex, but, as Essex was subordinate to Kent in the earliest period of its history, it is but reasonable to think that some settlers from Kent may have migrated across the Thames into it. The majority of the early people of Essex were probably of a different race from the Goths, the dominant race in Kent. The Essex people were called Saxons and those of Kent Jutes, and this distinction in names must have arisen through a difference in race. Some Wends, for example, can be traced as settlers in Essex more clearly than in Kent. The name Middlesex does not occur in Anglo-Saxon records until that district became a province of the East Saxon Kingdom, and the distinctive name of Middle Saxons would be likely to have arisen from geographical considerations.

When we compare the condition of the people and customs of London and the manors around it with those of Kent, and still further with those that can be traced to ancient Gothland and Friesland, we find a remarkable similarity. Before customs of all kinds was personal freedom, and in Kent alone of all the English counties everyman was from time immemorial personally free. Similarly in London, which was called the `Free Chamber of the King of England,` everyman was personally free.(3) The name Franklins of Kent has found a place in our literature, and all the native-born men of London, or those who have resided in it for a year and a day, were similarly accounted freemen. Kentish people, when they migrated, carried with them some, at least, of their own laws and customs, certainly their personal freedoms.

The very remarkable custom of Kentish gavelkind may be considered in reference to the customs in and around London. Its nature has already been discussed. Its chief privilege was partible inheritance among the sons, and failing sons, among the daughters. The gavelkind custom also provided for the inheritance of the homestead by the youngest son. The custom of partible inheritance among sons was the ancient custom of the city of London specially confirmed to the citizens in the charter of William the conqueror. This charter runs as follows, in modern English: `William the King greets William the Bishop and Godfrey the Portreeve, and all the burgesses within London, French and English. And I grant you that I will that ye be all your law worthy, that ye were in the days of King Edward. And I will that every child be his father`s heir after his father`s day. And I will not suffer that any man do you wrong. And God you keep` As every child was to be his father`s heir (not his or her father`s), it is clear that the custom referred to was the old Kentish custom of partible inheritance among sons. This custom of dividing the property among the sons was also the custom of the ancient manors of Stepney, Hackney, Canonbury or Canbury, Newington Barrow or Highbury, Hornsey, and Islington.(4)

In view of the city`s early connection with the Kentish Kingdom, it is difficult to see any other satisfactory explanation of such a remarkable parallelism between its customs and those of Kent than a settlement of Kentish people in it and on the east and north of it; and when we take into consideration the early overlordship of Aethelbert, King of Kent, in relation to Essex, that explanation is strengthened. The Norman Kings, who desired to see a uniform system of primogeniture established, nevertheless respected these ancient customs of inheritance, so different from the rural primogeniture which prevailed in Normandy, or the feudal primogeniture which they established over almost the whole of England. We know that the partition of the lands, which was an ancient custom on some great manors in many instances, for cases have survived until our own time. In his general code of law, William I. expressly allowed it, but we know that the change from old customs of inheritance to primogeniture of the feudal type went on nevertheless, so that in a century or two after the Norman Conquest the survivals of customs of inheritance other than primogeniture became much rarer than they must have been during the Saxon period. Ganville, who wrote in the time of Henry II., tells us that partible inheritance was in his time only recognized y the courts of law in those places where it could be proved that the land always had been divided.(5) Consequently, as the custom was allowed to continue on the manors to the north and east of London, it must have been proved to have been an immemorial custom to the satisfaction of the law in the twelfth century-I,e., it must have been shown to have been the usage during the Saxon period. The custom of dividing the inheritance that prevailed among the German tribes in the time of Tactitus, which was of immemorial usage in Friesland, and can be traced further back to the Goths of Gothland, may, of course, have been brought into England, and to some of the manors on the north and east of London, by the settlers who originally formed the colonies there; but there are other circumstances that connect early Kent and London. The custom of partible inheritance among the sons prevailed at Kentish town, and it is very a remarkable circumstance that on this manor, which bears the Kentish name, a Kentish custom actually survived until modern times.

As in Kent, so in London, the people were not liable to the ordinary process of distress of debt.

Another custom which the citizens of London had in common with the people of Kent was the power of devising their property by will. Kent alone among the English counties had this privilege, which was a rare one possessed by the tenants of only a few isolated manors elsewhere. It was not until the reign of Henry VIII. That copyholds generally were made devisable by will. Another resemblance in custom between Kent and the City was the age at whish heirs could inherit. Bracton, who wrote in the thirteenth century, tells us that the full age of heirs was twenty-one in the case of a military fief, and twenty-five in the case of a soc-man. In Kent a son could succeed his father at fifteen years, and the son of a burgher was understood to be of full age when he knew how to count pence rightly, to measure cloths by the ell, and to perform other like business of his father.(6)

There was yet another resemblance between the customs of London and Kent-viz., in the widow`s dower. She was entitled to half her husband`s estate, even if his goods should be otherwise forfeited for felony. This was the custom of Kent, and the Dooms of Aethelstan tell us that it was the custom also of Anglo-Saxon London.(7)

One of the privileged customs of the Frisians was their freedom from the wager of battle as a judicial proceeding. The custom of settling disputes of right or wrong by duel is among the oldest judicial customs that can be traced. We meet with it in England in the laws of King Alfred, in which it is stipulated what course a man has to take against his foe in order to obtain justice before he proceeds to judicial settlement by force of arms.(8) To a commercial people such as the Frisians there was an injustice involved in the merchant being liable to be challenged to wager of battle in order to settle a dispute with a possible swash-buckler, whose profession was that of arms, concerning the terms of the purchase or the price of a commodity. In the old Flemish charters, which apparently embody still more ancient privileges and customs, we find a law which exempts the Frisians of the early part of the twelfth century from duel in every market of Flanders.(9)Similarly, in London one of the oldest franchises was that none of the burgesses should be compelled to wager a battle, but that they might settle their disputes according to the custom of London; and although this privilege was subsequently granted to thirteen cities and boroughs,(10) such grants do not diminish the significance of it in London, where it origin is lost in antiquity, the custom being known as the `Custom of London.`

The evidence of the early trade of London in the Anglo-Saxon period also point to its connection with the chief traders of Northern Europe at that time-the Goths and Frisians. That the maritime trade of London went on without any great break from the Roman period into that of the Saxons is extremely probable. In a charter dated A.D. 734, by which Ethelbald, king of Mercia, granted leave for a ship to pass into the port of London without tax, he speaks of the tax on shipping his royal right and that of his predecessors. This appears to be the earliest notice of Saxon London in a contemporary document.(11) For maritime commerce there must have been regulations of some kind from the earliest time, and the earliest that can be traced in the North of Europe is `The Maritime Law of Wisby.` At the time when Ethelbald granted the remission of his tax to this ship in the port of London, Wisby was the commercial centre of the North. In early London there was probably a maritime court, as there was in Ipswich. The court sat daily, as shown by the customary of that town, to administer the Law Marine to passing mariners.(12) this practice is referred to in the Domesday of Ipswich, and this is probably the earliest extant record of any court sitting regularly.(13) When and how the practice originated is uncertain, but it was a legacy of Imperial Rome that maritime causes could be heard without delay by some competent judges in each province, and there is good reason for believing that mediaeval Europe accepted this legacy and never allowed it to lapse.(14)

In the shipping trade of the Netherlands in the Middle Ages we meet with two codes of maritime regulations, one called the Rolls of Oleron, from a French source, (15) and another resembling what is known as the Maritime Law of Wisby. With these mediaeval maritime codes we are only concerned so far as regards the antiquity of the Wisby code and its provisions in reference to `

Lay days.` The Maritime Law of Wisby was first published at Copenhagen in 1505, under the name of `The Supreme Maritime Law.`(16) The provisions of this code are similar to those of `The Usages of Amsterdam,` with which those of the Frisians ports of Enchuysen, Stavern, and others on the Zuyder Zee, are indentical. The extreme antiquity of Wisby as a port points to an early code of some kind necessarily connected with it as the original source of the Frisian regulations. By the Usages of Amsterdam and the custom of the Frisian ports, and by the Maritime Law of Wisby, the interval allowed as lay-days for a chartered vessel is fourteen days, the fortnight of English usage, whereas in the `Judgement of Damme,` or regulations of West Flanders, derived from the Rolls of Oleron, the time is fifteen days.(17) There is thus a remarkable coincidence between the maritime usage of ole Frisian and Gothic ports and those of England, of which London was the chief. It points to Frisian and Gothic traders in such numbers as to be able to introduce an important provision of their maritime customs into English ports, and this probably with people descended from their own races who traded with them, as was likely to have been the case in Anglo-Saxon London.

When we eave the consideration of the Goths and Frisians, and turn our attention to the remarkable customs which have come down from time immemorial on the south and west of the city, we are met by circumstances of another kind. Inheritance by the youngest son instead of the eldest, as is common law, prevailed unto within living memory on the manors of Kennington, Walworth, Vauxhall, Peckham Rye, Wandsworth, Battersea, Lambeth, Streathem, Croydon, Barnes, Shene or Richmond, and Petersham. On the north of the Thames it existed at Edmonton, Tottenham, Ealing, Acton, Isleworth, and Earl`s Court.(18) Junior right prevails among some of the Frisians of Friesland. It can be traced and still exists in parts of ancient Wendland-i.e., Pomerania- and, as already pointed out, is found sporadically in isolated districts of Germany, North-Eastern France, and Belgium, where iso;ated colonies of Wends existed. Since junior right has prevailed until modern times at Wandsworth, and at that place we have the custom associated with the ancient Vandal name Wendelesworth, the origin of the custom around London must, apparently, be traced to Frisians or Wends, or to peopleof both races.

On the manor of Earl`s Court the youngest son inherited; at Lambeth the youngest son, and in default of sons, the daughters equally ; and at Tottenham the same custom prevailed. At East Sheen the youngest son succeeded, and in default of sons, the youngest daughter, brother, sister, or nephew ; and at Croydon the youngest son, and if no sons, the youngest in every degree. At Vauxhall the youngest son, and failing sons, the youngest daughter, was the heir. At Islington, on the Sutton Court and St. John of Jerusalem ,manors, the strict borough-English custom prevailed. At Isleworth, Sion, Ealing, and Acton, the borough-English custom extended to brothers. At Fulham, Wimbledon, Battersea, Wandsworth, Downe, Barnes, and Richmond, the inheritance, in default of males, passed to females lineally and collaterally.(19)

In tracing this custom, as far as we are able, from what appears to have been its home in Continental lands to England, we have to take into consideration the provision which the English custom shows for female rights. In it the widow had her dower ; she held the land for her life, and the youngest son succeeded after her. Also, if there were no sons, either the youngest daughter or youngest female succeeded, or the land was divided among the female heirs. Whatever may have been the provision for females among the ancient Wendish tribes, we know that the right of dower was custom among the Teutons, and is mentioned by Tacitus. We know, also , that inheritance by females as well as males prevailed among the Frisians, and was a custom of the Northern Goths. We may perhaps, therefore, see a Gothic influence in the junior right custom in England, by which dower for the widow is secured in succession by daughters provided for in the absence of sons. The growth of such provisions would be easy to understand on the supposition of a fusion of Goths with a Vandal tribe which had junior inheritance. The result would be a compromise, as maybe possibly have been the case in Kent, where, on the supposition that Wends, or some Frisian clans which had the same custom, were among the Kentish settlers, we find partible inheritance, noton the strct lines of the Gothic, but with daughters coming after sons, and the youngest son having the homestead.

The territory south of London and Middlesex, which afterwards became known as Suthereye, appears, from the custom which survived in it and its ancient topographical names, to have received as settlers Goths and Frisians, Norwegians and Wends. Some reference has already been made to them. Junior inheritance survived until modern time on many manors in Surrey, as mentioned in the chapter on Sussex. This points either to colonization from Sussex, where the same custom has survived more widely than else where in England, or to the settlement of people of the same racial descent as those in the Rape of Lewis. It is not difficult to believe that colonists crossed the forest land of the Weald and settled on the lands which form the slopes of the chalk downs of Dorking and Reigate. This country of the North Downs must at an early period of the Saxon settlement, as now, have been more free from wood than the forest land of the Weald. As this same custom also prevailed at Wandsworth, Battersea, Lambeth, Walworth, Vauxhall, Peckham Rye, Barnes, Richmond, and Petersham, all of which are on or near the river, it is probable that Surrey was colonised, in part at least, by settlers who arrived by water. We may thus, perhaps, reasonably conclude from these survivals that the country was settled partly overland from Sussex and partly by other colonists who came up the Thames. Surrey thus appears to have received among its settlers some Goths of the same Northern stock as those who settled in Kent. From Kent to Surrey migration was easy. A great forest area separated these parts of Southern England during the period of the settlement, but there were two natural routes by which people from Kent could reach even the western parts of Surrey-viz., by the Thames and along the ridge of the chalk downs which extended from east to west, and, being incapable of growing trees, must always have afforded an open route.

The AEscings is one of the names by which the early Kentish settlers were known, and a place called AEscing, now called Eashing, part of Godalming, is mentioned in King Alfred`s will. On the boundary of Hampshire and Surrey, to which the ancient limit of Godalming extended, there is a hill still called Kent`s hill. The name Godolming appears to have been derived from the descendants of one or more Goths, its old form being Godelming, and the old popular form being Godliman or Godlimen.

There are two remarkable entries in the Domesday Book that point directly to an ancient connection of some settlements in Surrey with Kent. Under Walestone, now Wallington, we are told that its woods were in Kent ; and under Meretone, now Merton, we are told that two solins of land in Kent belonged to this manor, as the men of the hundred testified.(20) We can trace Kentish place-names here and there through Surrey.

The survival of the custom under which the eldest daughter inherited the father`s property in default of sons at Chertsey, Beaumond, Farnham, Worplesdon, and Pirbright, shows that the west of Surrey must have received some settlers who were neither Goths, Frisians, Wends, nor of any race which clung to the custom of inheritance by the youngest son. The Goths and Frisians had not this eldest daughter custom. Saxons and Angles had none of it, for their customs were strongly marked by male inheritance. As mentioned elsewhere, there is only one race to which it certainly can be traced, and that is the Norwegians. We may, consequently, conclude that Norse colonists, at sometime or other, settled at these western parts of Surrey. This part of the county adjoins the north-west of Hampshire, where a similar custom prevailed, and in Surrey, on the east of Aldershot, the old place-name Normandy survives.

There is an early charter relating to the grant of land at Batrices-ege, or Battersea, to St.Peter`s , Westminster, dated A> D> 693, in which Wendles-Wurthe and Ceokan-ege are3 mentioned in the boundaries.(21) this mention of Wandsworth shows that the name is an early one, and shows also that it could not have originated from a settlement in the eleventh century during the time of Cnut, who introduced Wends from Jomberg into England as his huscarls.(22) The settlement at Wendles-wurthe was probably one of the early settlements of Surrey, and as junior right survived there, the settlers appear to have brought it with them. The name Ceokan-ege may refer to a man who was a Chuacian, or a settler of that race. It appears to point in any case to the only tribe who had such a name, the Chauci, settled between the Weser and the Elbe.

In the Middlesex settlement the old name for the people who lived around Harrow was `Gumeninga hergae.` This word gumeninga can be traced through the Anglo-Saxon to the gothic word guma, denoting a man, and thus appears to have come into the Old English language from the Goths. The words gumeninga hergae denote the children or descendants of the men of Harrow, and occur in a charter of Offa dated 767.(23) this is important, as it points to an old settlement of people of Gothic extraction around Harrow, possibly a migration of some of the men of Kent, and we find close to Harrow a place still called Kenton.

Harrow was a great domain that belonged to the See of Canterbury from a very early date. The Archbishop`s lands, apart from the monastic at Canterbury, were only separated in the time of Lanfranc,(24) just before the Norman survey, and Domesday Book tells us that Harrow was held by the Archbishop, it was a great estate, and possessed privileges which placed it outside the jurisdiction of the county. What we are concerned with is the probability of the district around Harrow having been settled by Kentish people of Gothic extraction. We cannot trace the custom of partible inheritance, such as prevails in Kent, as having survived at Harrow, but we can point to a time when the Archbishop was permitted to change his estates, or some of them, from gavelkind tenure into knight`s fees. This was in the reign of John, when a license was granted to Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, to that effect.(25) The non-survival of the custom of partible inheritance on the ancient estates of the Archbishop of Canterbury in Middelsex, that were apparently settled by Kentish or Gothic people, can thus be accounted for. The settlement around Harrow was probably an early one, before the invaders had become Christian ; for the most ancient name of the place-Hearge, or Hearh (genitive, Hearges)-denotes a heathen temple, and we cannot think that after their conversion to Christianity any settlers would have given this place name. Harrow was clearly a sacred heathen site, and there was probably a significance in the early grant of this estate to the Archbishop, and in the subsequent erection on the highest site in Harrow of a church by the Anglo-Saxon prelate.

The other estate of the early Archbishops of Canterbury in Middlesex was Yeading, or, as the manor was called later on, Hayes. It is first mentioned in a charter of Caedwalla dated 678, in which that #king granted Gedding and Wudeton to Archbishop Theodore. As Caedwalla was a West Saxon King who had succeeded a Mercian as the overlord, this was probably a confirmatory grant. The name Gedding, modified in spelling to Yeading, still survives in the parish of Hayes. These grants of lands to monasteries and Bishops by the early Anglo-Saxon Kings were colonization grants. All that they had in their power to give was the land, or who might become settled on it, and the fines and forfeitures falling to the lord from the administration of the law.

Kent, of all the Old English Kingdoms, had probably the least room for the expansion of its people. As they increased in number, they were necessarily obliged to seek new homes and migrate. We can hardly imagine any more likely circumstance in relation to the settlement of Middlesex than that some of the surplus population on the Archbishop`s land in Kent should have been allowed to settle on his lands in Middlesex, to the advantage of both settlers and their lord. In considering this probability, we should also remember the clause in the laws of Wihtraed, drawn up about 685, which refers to the Kentish freedman, his heritage, wergild, etc., not only in Kent, but elsewhere, the words used being, `Be he over the march, wherever he maybe.` It is quite clear from these words that some of them had gone over the march at that early time.

A considerable proportion of the people who settled in Middlesex appear to have come from Kent, and to have retained privileges which their ancestors had also possessed. This is shown as probable by the Domesday records concerning the cottars. They were the labouring class of manorial tenants, but had land of their own, and had also more freedom as small tenants than those called borderers in many other counties. Cottars are only mentioned in Domesday Book in considerable numbers in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Middlesex, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Dorset, Somerset, Herefordshire, and Cambridgeshire.(26)We can trace them from Kent up the Thames valley. Whatever the privilege of the cottar may have been (and it is generally agreed that he had a cottage and a few acres of land, which he cultivated himself when not working for his lord), it is certain that the man in this position, by whatever name he was called, was more free in Kent than in any other county, and probably better off in other respects. It is of interest, therefore, to trace the existence of the cottar in other counties into which Kentish people may have migrated, or people of the same races as those from which Kentish people were descended my have settled. These were mainly the freedom-loving Frisians and Goths, collectively called Jutes. The cottar was a freeman subject to certain manorial customs. He paid his hearth penny-i.e., his Rome scot or Peter`s pence-on Holy Thursday, as every freeman did ; he worked for the lord one day in the week and three days at harvest time, and he had five acres more or less.(27) his class of manorial tenants was relatively large in Middlesex and Surrey at the time of the Domesday survey. If they existed in Essex, they are not mentioned, and this circumstance alone points to Kent rather than to Essex as the State from which colonists settled in Middlesex-i.e., rather to Frisians and Goths than the so-called Saxons of Essex. The cottars of Middlesex lived in Fulham, St. Pancras, or Kentish Town, Islington, Drayton, Staines, Hanwell, Harmondsworth, Sunbury, Greenford, Shepperton, Enfield, Tottenham, and other places. These Middlesex cottars, like the Middlesex villeins, the next class of manorial tenant above them, were most important persons and more free in their holdings than villeins and borderers in other counties usually were. This, again, points to early migrations from Kent, and to the influence of the great city on the country round it.


1 Green, J. R., `Making of England,` 109.

2 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, A. D. 1018.

3 Stow, J., `Survey of London,` A. D. 1598.

4 Elton, C. I., `Robinson on gavelkind,` 34, 36.

5 Glanville, R. de., `Tract. De leg. Et cons. Angliae,` lib, vii., chap. Iii.

6 Bracton, H. de, `De legibus et consuetudinibus Angliae,` edited by Twiss, ii. 5.

7 Aethelstan`s Dooms, vi. ; Judicia Civitatis Lundoniae, i.

8 `Ancient Laws,` edited by Thorpe, i. 91 ; Maine, `Early Hist. of Intitutions,` 303.

9 `Saxons in England,` by Kemble, edited by Birch, ii., Appendix, 528, quoting `Flemish Charters of Liberties.`

10 Ballard, A., English Historical Review, xiv. 94.

11Cott. MSS., Chart. Xvii. I ; also Codex Dipl., No. 78.

12 Black Book of the Admirity, edited by Twiss, ii., Introd., vii., viii.

13 Ibid.

14 Ibid.

15 Ibid., iii., Introd., xx.

16 Ibid., iii., Introd., xxi.

17 Black Book of the Admiralty, iii., Introd., xix.

18 Elton, C. I., loc. cit., and Corner, `Customs of Borough –English.

19 Elton, C. I., loc. cit., 238.

20Dom. Bk., p. 30 a.

21 Cart. Sax., i. 116, 117.

22 Adam Bremen, ii. 59, quoted by Kemble, `Saxons in England,` ii. 120.

23 Cart.Sax., i. 284.

24 Elton, C. I., loc. cit., p. 18.

25 Lambarde, W., `Perambulation of Kent.` Ed. 1596, p. 531.

26 Maitland, F. W., `Domesday Book and Beyond,` p. 39.

27 Ibid., 327.


Taken from the book = `Origin of the Anglo-Saxon race.`

Author = J. W. Shore.