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Doomsday Book (Domesday)


The Domesday Book is a survey of England that was conducted by William I the Conquer. Many modern scholars consider the work to be a record of England, the document is also known as the Doomsday Book. This document is quite remarkable because it is comprised of such a large amount of detail. In addition to this, it was produced within a short period of time, and many modern historians today consider it to be one of the finest works ever accomplished during the Dark Ages. However, the project was resented when it was first conducted in 1086.

The group responsible for this project was split in to eight units of commissioners who were given the task of compiling information about the different counties in the country. The information was primarily connected to the property that was owned by the king and the tenants of his court were included as well. The tenants were those who were owners of their own land due to services they offered to the king. Once the information was successfully collected, it was summarized in a documented which would come to be known as the Domesday Book. Each part of England was covered in this document except for the northern areas of the country.

It should also be noted that the Domesday Book is comprised of two volumes which are not the same. The first volume is called the Great Domesday, and it is the last record to be collected on every county in England except Suffolk, Norfolk, and Essex. The information for these three counties can be found in the second volume, which is referred to as the Little Domesday. The commissioners decided to place it in a separate volume instead of combining it with the others. Another document called the Exon Domesday has also survived to the present day. This document provides information on the counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset, Cornwall, and Devon.

In addition to these documents, another record called the Inquisitio comitatus Cantabrigiensis, or The Inquisition of the County of Cambridge, is a draft which provides us with information on how this procedure was carried out. Citizens would be given a list of questions that they had to answer. The meetings would be held in the centre of each town, and the data would be given by the various representatives of each county and village. This process is known for being highly geographic, and the information was gathered by a large number of individuals. Before the information could be presented at Winchester, the information had to be organized in a way that allowed the data to be placed under the name of the king and the tenants.

The first volume starts with the county heading, and the owners of the land are listed in order from the king to the lowest tenants. All the fiefs are listed in order, and a large group of manors are present. Not only is this information given, but the ploughing information on the land is given as well. The number of workers available was listed, and it also provides information about their property. The Domesday Book is important because it gives a clear record of English history. While the Domesday Book covers a large number of towns and provinces, none of the documents related to London or Winchester are in existence today. The Domesday Book can now be seen at the Public Record Office in London.

Original Authors: Stephen Palmer
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