Leaving Warboys: Emigration from a Fifteenth-Century English Village

  • Anne Reiber De Windt
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


After the fall harvest of 1411, villagers gathered either in the Warboys manor house or in the neighboring parish church, both ofwhich overlooked a vast expanse of marshland (fen) in northern Huntingdonshire, about 26 miles northwest of the town of Cambridge. They had been called to attend a session of their landlord’s court, although it is doubtful that all of the approximately 100 tenants bothered to show up. High on the list of priorities for this meeting was the tenants’ obligation to report to the steward the names of the villeins who had left the manor. Included among the 10 individuals they chose to report were two sisters living in Upton and Godmanchester, one married woman living in Ramsey, and another woman who was “with” Thomas Bellman at an unnamed location. The steward’s clerk then recorded, yet again, the familiar order that those men and women should be “captured” and their chattels “seized,” as the tenants’ landlord, the abbot of Ramsey, was having trouble ensuring that there would be enough able-bodied tenants on his manors to provide the rent and labor services his monastic community required.1 A situation that was hardly unique to the Ramsey estates.2 From the late fourteenth century, an increasing number of parliamentary petitions and statutes reflects the problems that landlords were having maintaining a labor supply on their manorial demesnes.


Fifteenth Century Home Village Market Town Popular Destination Account Roll 
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Copyright information

© Charlotte Newman Goldy and Amy Livingstone 2012

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  • Anne Reiber De Windt

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