I know at least a little about most of the "Did you Know?" items I write about but am always anxious to learn more and, as I do so, I like to share that knowledge with anyone who may be interested. There are many people who like to endeavour to trace their ancestry back to entries in this book.
The DOMESDAY BOOK is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states:
"While spending the Christmas time of 1085 in Gloucester, William had deep speech with his counsellors and sent men all over England to each shire to find out what or how much each landholder had in land and livestock and what it was worth."
It was written in Medieval Latin, was highly abbreviated. and included some vernacular native terms without Latin equivalents. The survey's main purpose was to determine what taxes had been owed during the reign of King Edward the Confessor. (This interpretation is challenged by some historians, who see it as an attempt to assess where power lay after wholesale redistribution of land following the conquest).
The assessor's reckoning of a man's holdings and their values as recorded in the Domesday Book, was dispositive and without appeal. The name Domesday Book (Middle English for Doomsday Book) came into use in the 12th century. As Richard FitzNeal wrote circa 1179 in the Dialogus de Scaccario:
"for as the sentence of that strict and terrible account cannot be evaded by any skilful subterfuge, so when this book is appealed to ..... its sentence cannot be quashed or set aside with impunity. That is why we have called the book "the Book of Judgement".....because its decisions, like that of the Last Judgement, are unalterable."
The manuscript is held at the National Archives in Kew London. In 2011 the Open Domesday site made the manuscript available online.
The book is an invaluable primary source for modern historians and historical economists. No survey approaching the scope and extent of the Domesday Book was attempted again in Britain until the 1873 Return of Owners of Land (sometimes termed the "Modern Domesday") which presented the first complete, post-Domesday picture of the distribution of landed property in the British Isles.
This is a page from the Domesday Book for Warwickshire which is the county from where Phil hails. I wonder if any of his ancestors are included. I doubt it as I don't think any of them at that time were wealthy enough own own land.
If you are interested in finding out more about this book there is more information on Wikipedia from where I extracted the above along with the two pictures. It appears there is much dispute about the form the book took...was it one survey or two etc. etc. As it was so long ago those question will never, of course, be answered. I intend to do further research as I do find this a very interesting subject.