A Manorial Court Roll.

Local Authority and Manorial Officeholding in Late Medieval and Early Modern England


This project focuses on examining the governance of local communities across the medieval and early modern eras. How did governing structures allow rural communities to organise agriculture, conserve environmental resources, maintain law and order, and manage complex tenurial relations, ultimately facilitating economic growth? To what extent did these structures create inequalities in access to political power and economic resources? And how were local governing regimes affected by the rise of the state? Through an interdisciplinary approach adopting quantitative and qualitative social-science methodologies, I answer these questions by constructing and analysing large-scale databases utilising long-runs of manuscript sources to analyse communities over the longue-durée.

Results from this research will be published in my forthcoming monograph entitledLordship, State Formation and Local Authority in Late Medieval and Early Modern England. The book uses manorial officeholding (the individuals chosen from among a manor’s tenants to help run the seigniorial estate and court) as a prism through which to examine the shift from a world dominated by powerful manorial lords to one dominated by the central state. Through archival case studies of manors stretching from 1300 to 1650, and thus crossing the medieval/early modern divide, I analyse the changing role and selection of officials to see how manorial institutions were affected by state building at the local level.


  • Gibbs, Spike, 'Open' or 'Closed'? Participation in English Manorial Presentment Juries, c.1310-c.1600: A Quantitative Approach’, English Historical Review, 137 (2002), pp. 1003-52: