PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]

Beorhtsige 43 Beorhtsige Beald, fl. 1066

Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

  Discussion of the name  


Beorhtsige 43 (Beorhtsige Beald) held a single manor of ½ sulung worth 30 shillings in east Kent.

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB


List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

Holder 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Holder 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Holder 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Kent 9,3 Sevington Bresi Beorhtsige Beald Edward, king Hugh de Montfort Mainou 'of Ashford' 1.00 1.50 1.50 A Map
Total               1.00 1.50 1.50  



Sevington, a small manor of ½ sulung at the foot of the dipslope of the North Downs in east Kent, facing south towards the Weald, was said in DB to have been held from King Edward by a man who has not hitherto been identified for certain as having the name Beorhtsige. Farley (1783) printed the name of the TRE holder as one word, Bresibalt, a reading which has been followed by other editors and commentators (VCH Kent III, 247; von Feilitzen 1937: 207; Phill. Kent: entry 9,3; Alecto trans.: 32). Inspection of the facsimile, however, suggests that the scribe of GDB wrote it, though with some equivocation, as two words. There is a discernible gap of about 1 mm. between Bresi and balt which is comparable with that between the distinct words de and rege further along the line, though admittedly narrower than other word-breaks. Other personal names hereabouts are written without any gap. The best inference is that the scribe was unsure whether what he was copying was one word or two, probably because the spelling Bresi balt did not strike him as a familiar English name. As von Feilitzen recognized, Bresi is just about acceptable as a form of Beorhtsige (though the spelling does not occur elsewhere in the Domesday corpus), and balt is the byname beald, bald (‘bold’) (von Feilitzen 1937: 207; Tengvik 1938: 341–2). Bynames were preserved in the Kent folios of GDB with some regularity, and here served to distinguish Beorhtsige Beald from his far wealthier Kentish namesake Beorhtsige Cild (Beorhtsige 23).

Some light may be cast on Beorhtsige Beald’s tenure ‘from’ (de) King Edward by later circumstances. Sevington manor was afterwards regarded as subordinate to the paramount manor of Conningbrook alias Kennington a few miles to the north (Hasted 1797–1801: VII, 577). Kennington was evidently given to St Augustine’s abbey by Edward the Confessor in 1045 (Charters of St Augustine’s: pp. 94, 186), and has a name which tells of ancient royal ownership (Ekwall 1960: 272). The early history of Sevington (Sægifu’s tūn: Ekwall 1960: 413) clearly requires further investigation, but as a working hypothesis it can be suggested that Beorhtsige Beald’s small manor had only recently been detached from the royal estate and was in some way still dependent upon it.

Beorhtsige’s holding had a church and priest in DB. One of the eight churches listed in Domesday Monachorum as dependent on the nearby mother-church of Wye was named as Brixiestun (DM: 79). Given the local context, this can hardly be other than Sevington under the alternative name of Brixi’s (that is, Beorhtsige’s) tūn (Ward 1933: 81).


Alecto trans.: Domesday Book: A Complete Translation, ed. Ann Williams and G. H. Martin (London: Penguin Books, 2002)

Charters of St Augustine’s: Charters of St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury, and Minster-in-Thanet, ed. S. E. Kelly, Anglo-Saxon Charters 4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1995)

Ekwall 1960: Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th edn (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960)

Farley 1783: Domesday Book, seu Liber Censualis Willelmi Primi, ed. Abraham Farley, 2 vols (London 1783)

Hasted 1797–1801: Edward Hasted, The History and Topographical Survey of Kent, 2nd edn, 12 vols (1797–1801)

Phill. Kent: Domesday Book, ed. John Morris, 11: Kent, ed. Philip Morgan (Chichester: Phillimore, 1983)

Tengvik 1938: Gösta Tengvik, Old English Bynames, Nomina Germanica 4 (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1938)

VCH Kent III: The Victoria History of the Counties of England: The Victoria History of the County of Kent, ed. William Page, III (London: The St. Catherine Press, 1932)

Ward 1933: Gordon Ward, ‘The lists of Saxon churches in the Domesday Monachorum, and White Book of St. Augustine’, Archaeologia Cantiana, 45 (1933), 60–89

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