Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Population in 1086

The Domesday description of Wolverton gives us some way of estimating the population almost 1000 years ago.
Land for 20 ploughs; In lordship 9 hides; 5 ploughs there.
32 villagers with 8 smallholders have 10 ploughs; a further 5 possible.
10 slaves; 2 mills at 32s 8d; meadow for 9 ploughs.
The villagers were most likely the villeins, that is those whose right to the land were tied to service on the lord's demesne. The smallholders were probably freemen whose use of the land was not tied to service. The slaves probably worked the mills, the "morter pitts" and performed other functions on the lord's demesne. The two mills were likely to have been on the sites of later mills - Wolverton Mill and Mead Mill, which disappeared in the middle of the 19th century. This latter mill was close to the present railway viaduct.

These numbers record men only so if we take an average of 4 per family, these 50 men might translate into a population of 200, surprisingly, about the same number of inhabitants in the parish in 1800. There are reasons for that which I will discuss in another post.

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