Estate Terms Glossary

Glossary of technical terms used in the four 13th-century English treatises on household and estate administration
Copyright Martha Carlin, 2005-2013, all rights reserved

Not to be quoted without permission

Amercement Fine payable to a court
Aver (also affer) Adult work-horse, usually used for plowing
Boon work Extra work for the lord (e.g., at harvest time) required of servile tenants (serfs)
Conygarth Rabbit yard (see Warren)
Corn Grain (not maize or sweet corn, a New World food that did not exist in medieval Europe)
Cultura Strip of plowland
Curtilage Courtyard
Customary work Ordinary work for the lord required of servile tenants (serfs)
Demesne Manorial land retained for the use of the lord of the manor rather than rented out to tenants
Dredge Mixture of oats and spring barley, often malted to make ale
Escheat Property forfeited to the lord
Extent Manorial survey listing holdings and tenants and the rents and labor services due from them; also known as a terrier
Messor A manorial official with responsibility for supervising the reapers
Michaelmas 29 September (feast of St. Michael the Archangel). One of the standard quarter-days of the English legal year. The others were Christmas (25 December), the feast of the Annunciation (25 March), and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June).
Money denominations

The principal coin that was minted was the silver penny (in Latin, denarius).

A dozen pennies made a shilling (solidus), and a score of shillings made a pound (libra). (The shilling and the pound were “moneys of account” used for calculations and accounting; neither existed as a minted coin.)


12 pennies (12d.) = 1 shilling (1s.)
20 shillings (20s.) = 1 pound (£1)
£1 = 20s. = 240d.

A sum written as, e.g., “four-and-sixpence” means 4s. 6d.

Fractions of the penny in use were the halfpenny or ha’penny (obolus; written as 1/2d. or 1 ob.) and the farthing (quadrans; written as 1/4d. or 1q.)

Fractions of the pound in use as moneys of account (not as minted coins) were the mark (2/3 of a pound, or 13s. 4d.) and the half-mark (1/3 of a pound, or 6s. 8d.)

Murrain A plague or pestilence in livestock
Perch Measure of land. A unit of length (also called a pole) of 5 1/2 yards; also a unit of square measure equivalent to 30 1/4 square yards
Pottle Half a gallon (2 quarts)
Quarter Measure of grain (= 8 bushels)
Rewayn Milk or cheese from cows that graze on the second growth of grass or hay in a season
Rolls Court records or financial records, kept on rolls of parchment
Rood Measure of land (= 1/4 acre)
Score Unit of twenty (e.g., nine score acres = 180 acres)
Terrier Manorial survey listing holdings and tenants and the rents and labor services due from them; also known as an extent
Tithe Ten percent of one’s annual income (in cash or kind), levied for the maintenance of the parish priest and church
Tun A large cask or barrel, usually for liquids, of varying size (often 252 gallons)
Wardship Guardianship of a legal minor (the wardship of a wealthy heir was a valuable commodity)
Warren Area of protected rabbit burrows (rabbits were imported to England in the 12th century, and were bred for their meat and pelts)
Wey (or weight) Measure of weight, which varied by commodity; a wey of cheese was 32 cloves, each clove of 7 pounds (= 224 lb. in all). Also a unit of dry capacity of 32 bushels.
Whitsuntide The week that begins with Pentecost (Whit Sunday), the seventh Sunday after Easter