Custom of the Manor – A Glossary: Lord of the Manor

The lord of the manor was both the owner of the landed estate and governor of the jurisdiction that comprised the manor.

A lord of the manor is not a lord in the aristocratic sense.  Holders of manors granted directly by the king were barons by tenure in early medieval times, but this title did not confer any privileges beyond those associated with the manor.  The titles of baron created by writ or patent are unrelated to manorial tenure.  So a lord of the manor is not a member of the House of Lords or the nobility unless they posses other additional titles.

The land and associated rights (e.g. mining, shooting) of a manor could be divided or cease to be part of the manor through a change in tenure or sale.  The lordship of a manor could not be divided as it is vested in one person, the owner of the remaining manorial land.  No new manorial rights could be created after the abolition of manorial tenure in 1925, and rights that have not been registered after 2013 may cease. (Source: Land Registry, Practice Guide 22-Manors)

In legal documents, the Latin word for the lord of the manor is dominus.

© Sue Adams 2014

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3 Comments on “Custom of the Manor – A Glossary: Lord of the Manor”

  1. This is less of a reply but rather more of a plea for help.
    I reckon to be pretty well versed in the language of manorial history of the period since about 1840, but one aspect in one part of the country has me baffled because I cannot find any other references to it. In the records of the manor of Sutton Holland in Lincolnshire there are references to what I take to be local customs. These are variously the Customs of Conquest, Wark, Golvin, Westboire, Westmoll. Any ideas on what they mean or of a reference book which will reveal what they are? The nearest I have come is one definition in the OED suggesting that Conquest is the acquisition of real property other than by inheritance.

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    • Sue Adams says:

      Hi Michael
      Tough question! I don’t have an answer, but share these thoughts:

      1. Have you correctly interpreted the handwriting and sense of the manorial documents?
      2. Without seeing the context in which the terms are used, it is hard to make inferences. It occurred to me that Wark, Golvin, Westboire, Westmoll could be place names, but a few quick checks did not turn up any such places in Lincolnshire.
      3. Customs were local laws, so a legal commentary on property law may be helpful. Littleton’s Tenures is a good summary, but Coke’s commentary on Littleton makes things a lot clearer. Both are available on Internet Archive https://archive.org in multiple editions.
      4. Am I right in thinking the manor of Sutton Holland was somewhere near the modern places Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge, near the Wash and border with Norfolk? I am wondering if the customs were connected to the manor being in a wapentake, in this case Elloe wapentake http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/unit/10055994/boundary. Do these customs appear in other manors in close geographic proximity or that share a lord of the manor?
      5. Have you examined Sutton Holland’s manorial documents from earlier than 1840? There may be an explanation in a custumal, extent, terrier or rental, or a note on earlier court rolls.

      I am intrigued, so would like to see some of the documents.

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  2. […] was a formal and public acknowledgement of the feudal relationship of a vassal (tenant) with the lord of the manor, a form of allegiance. Such an allegiance was one of the terms under which a tenant may hold land […]

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