The Manor Court

The Manor Court

The Manor Court was the lowest court of law in medieval England and it applied only to those who resided in or held land within the manor.

The Court had various officials:

The Steward who would preside over the Court;

The jury of twelve elected copyholders;

The Bailiff;

The Graves;

The Constables:

Additional officers of the Court would be:

Pinders for rounding up stray animals (kept in the pinfold);

Foresters who would protect the Lords forest against encroachment and poaching;

Aletasters who would check the quality and price of ale;

Heywards who would watch over the crops:

The annual reckoning was around Michaelmas when the bailiff and graves would have to account for rents, court profits and sales in the Manor.

Two other Courts or Leets, would be held in the year, one after Easter and the other after Michaelmas. All residents of the Manor would be expected to attend but it is more likely that only those directly involved would do so, officials, jurymen, offenders and witnesses etc. At these courts all men over the age of twelve living within the manor would vow to keep `The KingĀ“s PeaceĀ“, this was known as a Frankpledge.

The Grave

In the Manor of Conisbrough there were three graveships: Conisbrough, Braithwell and Clifton. The grave was an elected, unpaid official, usually one of the more prominent copyholders. His year in office would begin after the Michaelmas leet or court meeting. For many decades work that needed doing around the Manor such as road repair, field clearing and the repair and maintenance of the boundaries and ditches would be carried out by tenants and villagers. Each one would be assigned various tasks and the grave would be responsible for ensuring that the work was done on time and up to standard. Various other jobs this position entailed would be making sure there was enough winter fodder and bedding for the lords livestock, that fields were manured, ploughing done and fines that had been imposed were paid.

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