Website of the Laceby History Group

The Coming of the Normans

1066 is a date known to everyone, when once again England was invaded - this time by William of Normanby who became King of England. The Bayeaux Tapestry depicts this invasion and on to it is woven the figure of ODO - Bishop of Bayeaux, who was Williams half brother. Laceby has a link with the Bayeaux Tapestry, for after the conquest there was a shareout of the lands, and ODO was given part of the village of Laceby, as the Domesday Book of 1086 shows.

And so, having secured the conquest of England, William took steps to consolidate his hold on the country and to establish a system of taxation to provide him with revenue. His first step was to implement a survey of all his lands and he sent forth his envoys to record in detail the population and their wealth. The complete record of the survey was assembled in 1086 and is known as the Domesday Book. This record was in no way intended to be a social document and was prepared solely for the purpose of taxation. However, the facts contained reveal the size and character of each settlement.

Lincolnshire is surveyed in great detail, for in the eleventh century the county was one of the richest in the land. The taxation system had been established much earlier by the raiding Danes who operated a land tax known as the Danegold. William realised, however, that the Danegold was not a balanced system with taxation levels differing greatly for no apparent reason. The aim of William's advisers was to level out the system and in Lincolnshire a standard levy of two shillings was imposed for each carucate of land. The information in the Domesday Book Survey is not particularly accurate for assessing an area as a whole, for it only records the lands subject to tax and is not, therefore, a true reflection of the real size of the settlements. For ease of counting, twelves and sixes were common in the Danelaw region - this being mainly Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire, these units being in common use in the Anglo-Danish period of the seventh to the tenth centuries. Other parts of the country used tens and fives which seemed much more logical and yet the wel ve unit prevailed and it is only within the last decade that we have reverted to tens or decimilisation.

It is within this pattem that we have, therefore, the first documented record of our present village of Laceby - with approximate details of the village area and population. Laceby appears under the land holdings of the Bishop of Bayeanx and who is more famous for the Bayeaux Tapestry. The entry for Laceby is contained in the following direct translation :

"In Levesbi and Bredelou and Scarhou (Laceby, Bradley and Scartho) Swen, !rich and Tosti had 9 carucates of land to the geld. There is land for 16 teams. The Bishop of Bayeaux has 3 teams in demense, and 4 villeins and 5 bordars and 85 sokemen having 13 1/2 teams. There are 3 churches there with priests, and 2 mills rendering eight shillings, and 360 acres of meadow and 100 acres of underwood".

The realistic translation of the above is difficult because of theunits of land, bovates and carucates, were not measured areas as such, but areas that were assessed that a team of oxen could plough in a defined time. Therefore, depending upan the nature of the ground the actual area could vary considerably. For the Laceby area a fair assessment would be some 120 acres for a carucate and about 15 acres for a bovate. Using these averages the total assessment for Laceby was as follows :-

Land of the Bishop of Bayeaux - 513 acres

Land of Drew de Beusse - 15 acres

Land of William de Perci - 7 acrea

Total land assessed - 535 acres

The people described were "Villein" - an unfree tenant, ''Bordar'' - cottager or labourer and "Sokeman" - a free tenant. Assuming the population of the three settlements being equal and allowing for children then the population of Laceby at that time would have been about 140.

The Domesday Survey was followed in the period 1115 - 1118 by the Lindsey Survey under the orders of Henry I. The information given is less detailed but, in the short time between the two surveys it is evident that Laceby had expanded considerably. The entry for Laceby under the Bredelai (Bradley) Wapentate reads as follows :-

"Hamon the sewer (dapifer) has 14 carucates and 4 bovates in Leyseby and the soke".

It would appear that Hamon was in total charge of some 1700 acres of land. As a comparison the area of Laceby Parish today is some 2200 acres. This brief reference to the Domesday Book shows that Laceby was firmly established long before William the Conqueror and this also applies to the neighbouring villages of Irebi (Irby) and Alesbi (Aylesby).