Æthelwulf 53 was a small landowner in south Wiltshire whose single manor of 1½ hides was worth £2. Later evidence hints that he was a royal official.
Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB
List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB
West Grimstead, in the heavily wooded south-east corner of Wiltshire, was divided into two manors of 1½ hides apiece in 1066. The more extensive and valuable of the two belonged to Æthelwulf 53. There are no links with the other distant estates in western Wessex which belonged to the other Æthelwulfs.
West Grimstead passed after the Conquest to Æthelwulf 53’s son Edmund, who also in 1086 held four other manors in the immediate vicinity (Wilts. 67:55–58). One of them had definitely not belonged to Æthelwulf; the other entries do not name the TRE holder.
Æthelwulf’s male descendants, who took the surname Grimstead, retained the manor until the 1340s, and by the 1270s held it by the service of keeping the king’s park of Melchet, which operated as a timber reserve rather than a place for deer (VCH Hants, IV, 542–3; Mileson 2009: 65). His son Edmund was a king’s thegn in 1086, but DB does not spell out Æthelwulf’s own status. Since valuable rights to take timber and underwood and feed pigs in Melchet wood already existed in the later eleventh century and were attached to manors some distance away (Wilts. 13:10, 18), Edmund, and perhaps his father Æthelwulf before him, may already have been in charge of the king’s woods at Melchet.
Mileson 2009: S. A. Mileson, Parks in Medieval England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
VCH Hants, IV: The Victoria History of the Counties of England: The Victoria History of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, ed. William Page [and H. A. Doubleday], 5 vols and index (London, 1900–14)