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Robin Hoods in Wakefield Manor Court Rolls (links)

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From east to west, localities discussed on this page: Stanley, Wakefield, Alverthorpe, Hipperholme, and Sowerby.
The Manor of Wakefield, from Briginshaw Family. Click to enlarge.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2015-07-11. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2017-05-06.

The Manor of Wakefield was a vast estate covering two large areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire. In addition to Wakefield, towns within the manor include Stansfield, Heptonstall, Northowram, Hipperholme, Brighouse, Clifton, Hartshead, Dewsbury, Ossett, Sandal, Walton, Holme, Shepley, etc. (see map of the estate). An almost unbroken series of records of the manorial court exists from 1274 to 1925, when the manor was dissolved.[1] During the first third of the 14th century, families surnamed Hood with at least one member carrying the first name Robert were found in Wakefield, Alverthorpe, Stanley, and Sowerby (see Google map). Joseph Hunter famously suggested that one of these Robert Hoods, a Wakefield tenant who appears in the manor court rolls during the first quarter of the 14th century, was the historical original of the traditional character.[2] For this reason, and also because the other R. Hoods in the court rolls are of interest, we must take a close look at the Robert Hoods that are mentioned in the court rolls (links to relevant records are found below). This will involve also an attempt to establish as much as possible of their ancestry.

Robert Hoods in Wakefield manor court rolls

It is hoped that eventually all court roll entries relating to men named Robert Hood occurring before 1500 will be entered. Of the five volumes for the 14th century currently available,[3] so far only vols. I and III have been covered; work on vol. II is in progress.

Robert Hoods in the medieval court rolls of the manor of Wakefield:

The Hoods of Alverthorpe

The court rolls examined so far include four entries relating to a Robert Hod of Alverthorpe. The 1309 entry shows that he was then a grave, an administrative official elected by the township.

The following records refer to the Hoods of Alverthorpe:

The Hoods of Sowerby

Five court roll entries from the period 1308-15 are concerned with one or both of the sons of John Hood (or Hodde) who were named Robert. The 1314 entries are concerned with property transactions, that under 1315 with straying animals:

The following records refer to the Hoods of Sourby:

Their father was named John and his father, in turn, Richard.

Richard Hood of Sowerby

Eleven entries in the printed court rolls for the period 1275 to 1313 concern Richard Hood of Sowerby:

  • 1274-11-22: Richard Hodde liable to a fine "for falsely and through hate presenting many trespasses against John de Miggeley and others, the Foresters of Sourby. [...] Respited until the Earl's coming." A Henry Urebrother to be "distrained for the like until he come to make satisfaction." Under heading: "Soureby".[4]
  • 1275-02-02: "Henry Urebrother and Richard Hodde remain under surety, as at the last Court, to answer the Earl as to a false presentment made by them against the Foresters of Soureby, until the Earl's coming." Under heading: "Soureby".[5]
  • 1275-02-02: Richard Hodde fined "for taking a heifer, which he says is his, out of the Earl's custody in the forest of Soureby". Under heading: "Soureby".[6]
  • 1275-05-23: Richard Hood and Henry Urebrother are fined for their false presentment. Under heading: "Sourby".[7]
  • 1275-07-13: "Henry Hourebrother and Richard Hodde complain of William and John de Noteschawe, Robert son of Roger, Richard de Estwode and Robert de Saltonstal, for trespass". Under heading: "Sourby".[8]
  • 1275-08-15: Henry Hourebrother and Richard Hodde implicate the four men just mentioned in the production of the writing against the foresters of Sowerby. They allege that they, Richard Hood and Henry Urebrother, were essentially only messengers in presenting the said accusations, and as they were heavily fined for their actions they now want compensation from the four men named. An inquisition finds for the plaintiffs. Under heading: "Sourby".[9]
  • 1285-01-13: Richard Hodde fined for taking six hazels; under heading: "Sourby".[10]
  • 1285-04-25: Richard Hodde fined for "trespass in le Bekynges"; under heading: "Soureby".[11]
  • 1286-09-08: Richard Hodde figures as pledge for Alice of Wyttcley, two of whose beasts have strayed.[12]
  • 1297-05-11: Richard Hodde surrenders one acre of land to John the Miller; under heading: "Soureby".[13]
  • 1313-10-06; court at Wakefield: Richard Hodde's suit of debt against Elias, son of Ivo, and Robert of Saltonstall respited until Halifax court turn.[14]
  • 1313-10-18; court at Halifax: Richard Hodde sues Elias, son of Ivo, and Robert of Saltonstall for debt and does not prosecute the suit. His fine for this is pardoned because he is old and blind.[15]


An "inquisition touching the evildoers in the Forest of Soureby" was held on 22 November 1274. The members of the panel swore that John de Migeley, one of the earl's foresters, who was charged with poaching a stag, had done no such thing but was "in all things a good and true man towards the Earl and all others." He had been charged also with receiving four oxen and 16 sheep whih were the chattels of Hugh of Barkeshere, a fugitive. The jury said what actually happened was that the king's coroner claimed them for the king's use. They further swore to the innocence of Philip le Waleys and Alan del Rodes, who had been charged with taking a stag and a kid. The stag, they said, had been taken by an employee of Stephen le Waleys. All the foresters of "Souresbyschire", who had been charged with "very many offences in the Forest, such as hunting, vert, and allowing pigs in the Forest for moneys of which the Earl gets no part", were innocent and "in all things good and true men towards the Earl and all others, and keep their bailiwick well in all respects." Finally they stated that the said foresters were also innocent of "having taken 16s. to conceal complaints, fines and attachments". This had been "presented against them through the hate of their enemies."[16]

Of course we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that there were more than one Richard Hodde in Sowerby at the time, but the population of Sowerby stood at a mere 1,743 in 1881,[17] and the medieval village can hardly have had a very large population. All the entries relating to the allegedly false accusations against the foresters of Sowerby must concern a single Richard Hodde, and as some of these associate him with Henry Urebrother, we must assume that the Richard Hodde mentioned in another entry where the two figure together is the same person. Very likely all the above entries refer to one and the same Richard Hodde. He was the father of John Hodde.

John Hood of Sowerby

At least six court roll entries under the heading of Sowerby refer to a John Hood. In three of them he is referred to as John, son of Richard Hodde:

  • 1296-11-06; court at Halifax: John son of Richard Hodde successfully sues Adam son of Alice of Hipperholme for debt; Adam Migge is pledge; under heading: "Sourby".[18]
  • 1296-11-06; court at Halifax: John son of Richard Hodde is a pledge; under heading: "Sourby".[19]
  • 1296-11-06; court at Halifax: Similarly; under heading: "Sourby".[20]
  • 1297-05-11: John Hodde successfully claims 40d. from Adam Migge; under heading: "Soureby".[21]
  • 1297-06-24; court at Wakefield. John, son of Richard Hodde figures as a pledge; under heading: "Soureby".[22]
  • 1297-07-07; court at Wakefield. John Hodde figures twice as a pledge; under heading: "Soureby".[23]


Again we cannot entirely rule out the possibility that two John Hoods might be involved, but at least three of these entries – those referring to John, son of Richard Hood – must be assumed to refer to one and the same man. It is very likely, therefore, that we can thus reconstruct a bit of the family tree of the two Sowerby Robin Hoods: their father was this John Hood whose father, in turn, was the above Richard Hood. It is possible, but does not seem likely, that some of the court roll entries listed under John Hood of Wakefield below do in fact refer to the Sowerby man of that name.

The Hoods of Stanley

The court rolls examined so far include a single entry relating to a Robert Hood of Stanley.

Adam Hood of Stanley

  • 1286-07-13; probably court at Wakefield. Adam Hod licensed "to take half a bovate of land in Stanley from Adam Balle".[24]

The Hoods of Wakefield

Eleven court roll entries from the years 1313-16 are concerned with one or more Robert Hoods of Wakefield. In 1313 two persons are concerned, one just referred to as Robert Hodde, the other as "Robert Hodde of Wakefeud". This of course suggests that the first of them came from somewhere else than Wakefield, but I don't think we can be entirely certain of this.

Records mentioning the Wakefield Robin Hoods:

The published court rolls I have examined so far do not reveal the ancestry of the Wakefield Robert Hood or, for that matter, that of his 1313 namesake of unknown abode. However, three other Hoods living in Wakefield are found in the court rolls, each of whom could be the father of the Wakefield Robert Hood.

Adam Hood of Wakefield

An Adam Hod appears in the court rolls from 1274 to 1314. He seems to have been a Wakefield man, but there is no indication of how he was related to the other Wakefield Hoods.

  • 1274-11-22; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod and 23 others, including Henry Hod, swear that they know nothing about the goods and chattels of John the Forester of Sowerby, who was killed. They do not know who has them, what has been done with them or who distributed them; under heading: "Wakefeud".[25]
  • 1277-06-11; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as a pledge.[26]
  • 1277-08-15; court at Wakefield. Similarly.[27]
  • 1285-01-13; court at Wakefield. Similarly.[28]
  • 1285-01-13; probably court at Wakefield. Adam Hod twice acts as a pledge.[29]
  • 1296-10-28; probably court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as a pledge.[30]
  • 1296-11-16; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod on jury that acquits Richard, son of Hugh de Schipeden, who had been indicted at the Tourn at Rastrik for stealing 8 sheep".[31]
  • 1297-02-15; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as a pledge; under heading: "Essoins".[32]
  • 1297, Friday in the first week of Lent; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod on a jury that acquits a woman of stealing a hood; under heading: "Ossete".[33]
  • 1297-03-25; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod twice acts as a pledge; under heading: "Essoigns".[34]
  • 1297, Friday in Easter week; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as a pledge; under heading: "Essoigns".[35]
  • 1297, Friday before Whitsuntide; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod twice acts as a pledge; under heading: "Essoigns".[36]
  • 1297, Friday before Whitsuntide; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod on a jury that acquits two men of burglary; under heading: "Alvirthorpe".[37]
  • 1314-01-13; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as pledge; under heading: "Bailiff".[38]
  • 1314, Friday in Whitsun week; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as surety; under heading: "Essoigns".[39]
  • 1314-09-21; court at Wakefield. Adam Hod acts as surety; under heading: "Essoigns".[40]

Henry Hood of Wakefield

These three court roll entries relate to a Henry Hood of Wakefield. There is no indication of how he was related to the other Wakefield Hoods.

  • 1274-10-18; court at Wakefield. Henry Hod and nine others charged with trespass but are quit as they "did suit at the Earl's mill." Under heading: "Wakefeud".[41]
  • 1274-11-22; court at Wakefield. Henry Hod is a surety; under heading: "Wakefeud".[42]
  • 1274-11-22; court at Wakefield. Henry Hod and 23 others, including Adam Hod, swear that they know nothing about the goods and chattels of John the Forester of Sowerby, who was killed.


They do not know who has them, what has been done with them or who distributed them; under heading: "Wakefeud".[43]

John Hood of Wakefield

A John Hood lived in Wakefield in this period. He appears by the court roll entries listed below to have been a well-respected man who at times served on juries:

  • 1313-10-12, court at Wakefield: John Hode is fined 12d. for blocking up "a pathway at the end of the town of Wakefeld, in Kergate, between Hesperode and chiterike".[44]
  • 1316-02-25, court at Wakefield: John Hod is a member of a jury that acquits an accused thief. The thief was indicted at a tourn at Halifax. Judging by their names, jury members came from localities such as (South) Crossland, Osset and Stanley.[45]
  • 1316-03-12, court at Wakefield; John Hod essoins.[46]* Similarly on April 14 that year.[47]
  • 1316, before 04-14, court at Wakefield; John Hood among a multitude fined for not coming to court.[48]
  • 1316-04-14; court at Wakefield; John Hod essoins.[49]
  • 1316; Friday in Whitsun week; court at Wakefield. John Hod is a member of a jury that sentences a thief to be hanged in the Whitsun week of that year. Judging from their names, the jury members are from Birstall, "Crosseland" (South Crossland), Ossett, Saltonstall, etc.[50]
  • 1316-07-25; court at Wakefield. "John Hood of Wakefeld" sits on a jury that includes members with surnames such as Birstall and Crosseland.[51]
  • 1316-08-05; court at Wakefield. John Hod stands surety for an essoin.[52]
  • 1316-08-29; court at Wakefield. John Hod essoins.[53]


Unless we believe both John Hood of Sowerby and John Hood of Wakefield sat on juries in 1316, we must assume that all of the entries just listed refer to the Wakefield man, but there is of course the (faint?) possibility that the Sowerby and Wakefield J. Hood were one and the same person. The man I have referred to as John Hood of Sowerby is in fact never explicitly connected with that town, but his two sons (or two of his sons) are and cases concerning him are listed under that locality. One or both sons named Robert Hood was/were involved in property transactions there, one was injured there, and both were fined for animals straying into the wood there. Unless evidence could be found for John Hood of Sowerby moving to, or having acquired property in, Wakefield by 1313, we must consider John Hood of Sowerby and his namesake of Wakefield two different persons. The Wakefield man could be the father of the Robert Hood of Wakefield who is mentioned in 1313 and 1314 (once each year) as well as 1315 and 1316 (twice each year), but of this I have found no evidence whatsoever.

A tale of thieves

The jury John Hood was on c. 25 July 1316 dealt with an intriguing case:

Richard del Wyndhill — taken as a suspected thief, because he
came with a message from several thieves to the wife of the late
William de Stodlay [? begging] victuals for the said thieves, and
because he threatened the woman to burn her unless she sent food
and money by him, and fled when the Earl's foresters tried to
attach him for this, and shot at the said foresters with arrows —
being asked what he has to say, denies the charges, and refers
himself to the court. An inquisition is taken by the oaths of
. . . . . . Thorneton, John de la More, William del Okes, Thomas
del Bellehous, Richard de Salsa-mara, Richard de Birstall, Robert
de Heyrode, Robert de la Grene, Richard de Crosseland, John
Hood of Wakefeld, John, s. of Hugh de Northland, and Richard
de Counhale — by whom he is found not guilty of frequenting the
company of thieves, etc.[54]

This occurs in a section apparently dealing with cases from 'Hipperum', i.e. Hipperholme, c. 3.25 km east of Halifax. Salsa-mara is Saltmarsh.[55] Whether or not the widow was telling the truth, her story sounds more credible than many outlaw tales.

Background

Also see

Notes

  1. See Yorkshire Archaeological Society: Wakefield Court Rolls.
  2. Hunter, Joseph. The Great Hero of the Ancient Minstrelsy of England, "Robin Hood." His Period, Real Character, etc. investigated and perhaps ascertained (Critical and Historical Tracts, No. 4) (London, 1852).
  3. Baildon, William Paley, ed. Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. I. 1274 to 1297 (The Yorkshire Archæological Society. Record Series, vol. XXIX) (1901); Baildon, William Paley, ed. Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. II. 1297 to 1309 (The Yorkshire Archæological Society. Record Series, vol. XXXVI) (1906); Lister, John, ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.] Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. III (Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. LVII (1917); Lister, John, ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.] Lister, John, ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.] Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield. Vol. IV. 1315 to 1317 (Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. LXXVIII) (1930); Walker, J.W., ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.], Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield. Vol. V. 1322-1331 (Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. CIX) (1945).
  4. Baildon (1901a), p. 96; for date see p. 93
  5. Baildon (1901), p. 104.
  6. Baildon (1901), p. 105.
  7. Baildon (1901), p. 107.
  8. Baildon (1901), p. 142; date cf. p. 137.
  9. Baildon (1901), p. 151f; date cf. p. 151.
  10. Baildon (1901), p. 195; date cf. p. 193.
  11. Baildon (1901), p. 201; date cf. p. 199.
  12. Lister (1917), p. 178; date cd. p. 176.
  13. Baildon (1901), p. 285; heading cf. p. 283; date cf. pp. 278, 283.
  14. Lister (1917), p.
  15. Lister (1917), p. 6.
  16. Baildon (1901), pp. 93-95.
  17. Wikipedia: Sowerby.
  18. Baildon (1901), p. 244.
  19. Baildon (1901), p. 244.
  20. Baildon (1901), p. 246; date and location cf. p. 344.
  21. Baildon (1901), p. 284; heading cf. p. 283; date cf. pp. 278, 283.
  22. Baildon (1901), date cf. p. 292; court location cf. p. 287.
  23. Baildon (1901), date cf. p. 296; court location cf. p. 287.
  24. Baildon (1901), p. 227; date cf. p. 226
  25. Baildon (1901), p. 92; date cf. p. 87.
  26. Baildon (1901), p. 166; date cf. p. 165.
  27. Baildon (1901), p. 176; date cf. p. 175.
  28. Baildon (1901), p. 194; date cf. p. 193; court location cf. pp. 190, 193.
  29. Baildon (1901), p. 204.
  30. Baildon (1901), p. 238; date cf. p. 237.
  31. Baildon (1901), p. 250; date and location cf. p. 248.
  32. Baildon (1901), p. 266; location cf. p. 263.
  33. Baildon (1901), p. 272; court location cf. p. 263.
  34. Baildon (1901), p. 273; court location cf. p. 263.
  35. Baildon (1901), p. 276; date cf. p. 275; court location cf. p. 263.
  36. Baildon (1901), p. 289; date cf. p. 288; court location cf. p. 287.
  37. Baildon (1901), p. 290; date cf. p. 288; court location cf. p. 287.
  38. Lister (1917), p. 25.
  39. Lister (1917), p. 53.
  40. Lister (1917), p. 53.
  41. Baildon (1901), p. 86; date cf. p. 82.
  42. Baildon (1901), p. 90; date cf. p. 87.
  43. Baildon (1901), p. 92; date cf. p. 87.
  44. Lister (1917), p. 5.
  45. Lister (1917), p. 109.
  46. Lister (1917), p. 112.
  47. Lister (1917), p. 133.
  48. Lister (1917), p. 132; court location cf. p. 127; date cf. p. 127.
  49. Lister (1917), p. 133.
  50. Lister (1917), p. 136.
  51. Lister (1917), p. 148.
  52. Lister (1917), p. 151.
  53. Lister (1917), p. 154.
  54. Lister (1917), p. 148. Lister's brackets and ellipsis.
  55. Lister (1930), p. 206.