The Great Theft - the Norman invasion

"The Normans: murderers, thieves and founders of the English class system."

The Romans came, saw, conquered, took what they wanted and left without trace as far as Trusley is concerned - they left no legacy apart from their road - Long Lane. We like to think that Roman Legionaries stopped to quench their thirst at the spot now occupied by The Three Horseshoes pub in Long Lane Village - but that is mere romance, not history.

Note about The Three Horseshoes

The Three Horseshoes pub in Long Lane village has recently gone up market (i.e. charges more for meals) and has been renamed "The Horseshoes".

This shows a splendid ignorance of history.

England has many Three Horseshoes pubs and the name is a clue! A horse that has lost a shoe (and so has three left!) needs a blacksmith or a farrier. A pub called The Three Horseshoes indicates that it is close to a blacksmith's shop - which was immediately adjacent to the pub in the case of Long Lane village.

Why change the name? Why dump the history?

The Black Cow pub in close-by Lees has been renamed "The Cow" - rebranding gone mad! Some time ago the back room at The Black Cow was called "The Udder Bar" with a pool table for the country lads. Pool tables and other things for the locals have long gone in our area (though The Red Lion at Hollington has a decent bar, decent beer and a darts team) - the financial pressure on pubs, caused primarily by drinking while watching TV at home, means they have to make best use of the assets they have.

The Romans may have vanished without trace but the invasion by the Norman French under Guillaume le Batard in 1066 was the most cataclysmic event in English history. Within 5 years of the invasion 98% of the land of England had been stolen in "The Great Theft" and either kept by King William 1st or handed out to those who served him.

In the case of Trusley (known then as "Toxenai", or "Trusseli" - a "brushwood clearing") it was handed over to Henri de Ferrieres ("Ferrers") of Ferrieres-Saint-Hilaire, Eure in upper Normandy. Henry was a soldier who fought for Guillaume and his reward was over 200 English manors.

Since then, most of Trusley has passed through the hands of many families: Hugh de Arbalaster (Norman French), Ralph de Beufey (Norman French), Oliver de Odingsells (Norman French), Richard Piper, Thomas Coke, the Vernons (Norman French), the Manners (descended from the Norman French) and finally back to the Coke family in the 16th century.

From the time of the Norman invasion those who had previously owned the land were forced under the feudal system to provide labour for those who had stolen it. They were also, on pain of death, forced to pay tithes (produce, labour or money) to maintain the church, priests and monks as the church became more and more powerful and took on the role of a major landowner itself.

Who was here before The Great Theft?

We have no record of who was here before the murderous Norman thieves arrived but William quickly recorded the value of the loot in The Doomsday Book which was not called "the day of doom" for nothing.

The day of doom in Trusley

The 1086 entry for Toxenai records those living here as:

Aefic; Aelfheah; Aelfric; Algar; Almaer; Alric; Alweald; Baldric; Cola, man of Henry de Ferrers; Dunning; Eadric; Ealhhere; Earl Waltheof; Earngeat; Edward; Elfin; Geoffrey Alselin; Godric; Godric another; Godwine; Hakon; Hugh; Ketil; Leodmaer; Leofnoth; Leofsige; Leofwine; Leofwine Cild; Ordmaer; Ralph; Robert; Roger; Saswalo; Thorgisl; Thorir; Toki; Ubbi; Ubeinn; Ul

Note: "Cola, man of Henry de Ferrers" would have been the man assigned to control and tax the people of Trusley on behalf of Henri de Ferrieres who was given the area as part of what he helped to steal in 1066.

How big was Trusley

We don't know the boundaries of Trusley at the time, nor how much was received as stolen goods by Henri de Ferrieres. Doomsday records things in different ways:

  • 6 bovates attributed a value of 20s.
  • 6 bovates in Toxenai, Derbyshire
  • Aefic held 6 bovates in Toxenai, Derbyshire
  • This property was held by Henry de Ferrers and by Hugh from him/her
  • It was worth 20s.

An ox team of eight oxen was assumed to be able to plough a "carucate", about 120 acres, in one year. A "bovate" or "oxgang" was the amount attributable to one ox: about 15 acres.

The 6 bovates in Toxenai equate to 90 acres while the parish of Trusley today runs to well over 1,000 acres. A modern small tenant farm in this area is about 120 acres - not far from the total area described in the Doomsday Book.

The "furlongs" or "furrows" ploughed by Aefic and others can still be seen in Trusley's ridge and furrow fields.

Perhaps those descended from Earl Waltheof and Aefic would like it back?