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Profiling English Landed Society in 1066

Profiling English Landed Society in 1066

Paper given by Chris P. Lewis, Kings College, London

Given at the 2011 Haskins Society Conference, Boston College

Professor Lewis details the project, Profile of a Doomed Elite: The Structure of English Landed Society in 1066 project, which involves completing a prosopography of landowners from England in 1066. It is part of the PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England project.

No one has previously attempted to assess this information, which involves creating a database from the Domesday records, because of the complexity of names and places involved.


The project involves examining:

  • 27 000 parcels of land – so far done 7322 parcels of land checked (27%)
  • 1200 personal names – so far 356 names completed (30%)
  • 3000 profiles of individuals – so far 80 profiles completed (30%)

Currently, they are trying to sort out how likely the identify of a landowner can be established. Lewis and the other project members are further fining the database and preparing to put it online. Besides the vast amount of economic information this will provide, this project will also provide information about personal naming – which names were used where in England.

Some of the people so far profiled by the Profile of a Doomed Elite project include:

Archbishop Stigand – had estates throughout southern England – had personal holdings, and lands he held through his position – was the third richest man in England in 1066


Uhtraed of Cleveland – owned lands on northeastern coast of Yorkshire and others in central Yorkshire – he was locally dominant in one part of the shire, and spreading out to other areas of Yorkshire
– he may have survived until past 1086

Tholf the Dane – his name is displayed in 10 different ways in the Domesday Book – one of the leading thegns of Dorset – over a hundred hides, 18 manors – includes some of lands in near towns – his lands were assigned to a Norman noble after 1066

Esbern Bigga – Kentish landowner, responsible for providing an escort to the King when he was in Kent – he also has lands spread out in other places in England – his father was even a greater landowner, gave the church in Canterbury 72 houses


Thorsten 37 – has one estate, right across the river from Thetford – he also had a mill in Thetford, which he still owned in 1086 – his lands went to Roger Bigod, did he become an underman to Roger?

Also the project wants to look at the situation in 1086 – who owns what then, what do they own across the Channel

Last year we interviewed Professor Lewis about this project:

Click here to visit the Profile of a Doomed Elite: The Structure of English Landed Society in 1066 website


Click here to visit the PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England website

Click here to see our feature on the Domesday Book


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