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Chapter 2

Domesday and the Rawdon Family to the Dissolution of the Monasteries1

“You should read the Peerage, Gerald, it is the best thing in fiction that the English ever did”

Oscar Wilde

The Domesday entry of 1086 is as follows:

“Terra Regis (i.e. lands held directly of the King, as were both Yeadon and Horsforth). In Roudon (also spelt Rowdun and Rowdon) 2 Glunier, Gamel and Sandi had three carucates to be taxed, land to three ploughs ten shillings. Robert de Bruis held six oxgangs. Gamelbar had two carucates to be taxed, land to one plough eight shillings.”

A carucate was 100 to 120 acres, an oxgang as much land as a team of oxen could plough in a season, 10 to 25 acres depending on the soil but generally reckoned about 15 acres. This gives something between 500 and 700 acres of pasture and 80 to 200 acres of arable land. 3 Given the heavy nature of the soil it is likely that the arable figure would be towards the lower end. It is unlikely that much other than oats or rye was sown.

Glunier and Gamel also held land in Yeadon and de Bruis in Horsforth. De Bruis took his name from Bruis near Cherbourg in Normandy and certainly came with the Conqueror. His son received the Manor of Avondale from David, King of Scotland. The eighth Robert in line became the arachnaphillic King of Scotland and thus an ancestor of the House of Stuart and the present Queen. All the other names are Saxon and Cudworth wrote:

“It would appear that the land was in possession of several Saxon thegns previous to the Conquest, after which, according to tradition, it was handed over along with other possessions to ‘Paul de Rawdon of immortal fame, Renowned in war, who with the Conqueror came’ as a reward for the services rendered by a body of archers which he commanded. ”
Slater viewed this with some suspicion and I do even more so. We are not told the source of the couplet. Burke’s Peerage (1839 edition) quotes some appalling doggerel4 in dealing with the Marquis of Hastings’ lineage. Joseph Foster in his ‘Yorkshire Pedigrees’ (1874) completely ignores it. Nor does the armorial evidence impress i.e. the three pheons (arrowheads, now to be seen on the badge of Benton Park School) adopted by the Rawdon family. When? The first history of the family is in a manuscript dated 1667 by Marmaduke Rawdon (published by the Camden Society 1863). He was the son of Lawrence Rawdon. (See Appendix A.) This was written two years after George Rawdon had been made a baronet. Nothing can be put past genealogical writers of those days but the most telling point is that if Paul had acquired the estate as the doggerel suggests in 1069, why was he not mentioned in Domesday in 1086?

I do not say that the story is untrue. I do say it is not proven. What is reasonably certain, though, is that for about 400 years the descendants of Paul had a home at or near to the house now known as Layton Hall, opposite the present churchyard, and with a fine commanding view of the Aire valley. During those years they made various gifts of land5 to Bolton Priory, Kirkstall Abbey and on one occasion to Esholt Nunnery. Slater goes so far as to suggest that by the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 their gifts to the monks had been so large that they had barely enough land left in Rawdon for their adequate support. This shocked his Protestant susceptibilities but it may well be true. Dugdale’s Monasticon’ (1655-73) puts the annual rent of land in Rawdon held by Bolton Priory at £1.6.11. Moreover we know that a younger son, Ralph,6had gone to live at Kilpeck in Cleveland by 1520 and about 1624, George, later the first baronet, went to London to make his fame and fortune. A pedigree of sorts can be constructed from Slater but that in Appendix A is based on Foster.


1. See also ‘Rawdon Arms and Crest’ by S.C. Rawdon of Hursley, Hants. (A descendant?)

2. Rawdon or Rawden? There can be some etymological significance. ‘Den’ was a wood; don, a settlement. Old deeds and maps use Rawden. The Rawdon family used Rawdon from about the beginning of the 16th century. W.M. Thackeray in ‘Vanity Fair’ (1847) uses Rawdon when Beccy Sharp becomes Mrs (or perhaps Lady) Rawdon Crawley. Regular use of Rawdon seems to have come in the 1860s, perhaps at the instigation of the Post Office. Rawden Hill, the wood between Arthington and Harewood, is spelled on the O.S. map with an ‘e’. Neither the Harewood Estate Office nor Mrs M. Sheepshanks, formerly of Arthington Hall, knows of any connection with Rawdon or the Rawdon family.

3. Slater put the arable at 380 acres, I think this optimistic; the area of Rawdon U.D.C. before 1937 was about 2,400 acres. The balance in Norman times would be woods and waste, impenetrable and unclaimed.

4. “I, William, Kyng, the thurd yere of my reign,
Give to Paulyn Roydon, Hope and Hopetowne,
With all the bounds both up and down,
From heven to yerthe, from yerte to hel,
For the and thyne ther to dwel,
As truly as this kingright is mine,
For a crossbow and an arrow,
When I sal come to hunt on Yarrow.
And in token that this thing is sooth,
I byt the whyt wax with my tooth,
Before Meg, Mawd and Margery,
And my thurd son, Henry.

I suspect that both the couplet and the doggerel are by Thomas Weaver (1616-93) whom the Dictionary of National Biography aptly calls a poetaster and not a poet. Mrs A.M.W. Stirling in ‘The Annals of a Yorkshire House’ (1911) Vol. 1 page 64 and Vol. 2 page 223 makes the point that this doggerel bears a very striking resemblance to the ancient Roddam Charter of the family of Roddam of Roddam near Wooler, Northumberland (Ancestors of Hilary Clinton?) to whom Mrs Stirling was distantly related. Sir Bernard Burke was described as “uncritical to a degree”.

5. Set out in more detail in Slater p.225 & 6.

6. He was the grandfather of Sir Montague Rawdon (1582-1645), a wealthy London Turkey (i.e. trading with the Levant) merchant and M.P. for Aldbrough, Suffolk in 1628. He was knighted by Charles I for his efforts in the defence of Basing House, Basingstoke. As he had 10 sons there may be descendants in a male line. Sir Montague wrote that his ancestors had mostly been buried at Kirkstall Abbey.