PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


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

Æthelræd 76 Æthelræd tenant of Glastonbury abbey in Somerset (fl. 1086)

Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

  Discussion of the name  



In 1086 Æthelræd (Adret) held 5 hides at North Wootton, part of the abbot of Glastonbury’s great manor of Pilton.

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

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB


Subtenant in 1086

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Subtenant DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Subtenant ID conf. Show on map
Somerset 8,20 North Wootton Adret Æthelmær 'of Ham' Æthelnoth, abbot of Glastonbury Thurstan, abbot of Glastonbury Æthelred 'of North Wootton' 5.00 2.00 3.00 A Map
Total               5.00 2.00 3.00  



In 1086 Æthelræd (Adret) held 5 hides at North Wootton, part of the abbot of Glastonbury’s great manor of Pilton. North Wootton was the nearest part of the manor to the abbey, only 4 miles away, occupying a ridge which projects from the Mendip Hills and reaches precipitously down into the levels of the Queen’s Sedgemoor. The holding ‘could not be separated’ from the abbey before the Conquest and was evidently held on lease. Exon names Æthelræd’s predecessor as Almar; given the common first name-element, they may have been father and son. Exon also specifies that Æthelræd had 3½ hides and two ploughs in demesne at North Wootton, with 4 slaves; and his tenants (viz. 2 villans and 11 bordars) 1½ hides and one plough (Exon 165b2). The meadows, pastures, woods, and mills of North Wootton cannot be distinguished from the resources of two other leasehold estates with which they were recorded in DB.

Æthelræd was the latest in a long succession of the abbey’s leaseholders at North Wootton: in 946 King Edmund (Edmund 14) had granted the 5 hides of North Wootton to his thegn Æthelnoth (Æthelnoth 23) with the grudging consent of Abbot Dunstan (Dunstan 1), ‘unwilling but obedient to royal instructions’ (nolens sed regalibus obediens verbis) (S 509; Abrams 1996: 181–5). Æthelnoth’s rent was an annual food-render to the abbey of 5 measures (congii) of ale, 1 of mead, 30 loaves with pottage, and 5 measures of wheat. GDB gives a value in money (though only for 1086), the food-rent evidently having been commuted, perhaps long previously. The valuation of £7 10s. (£8 10s. in Exon) is not divided between the three leasehold estates, and Æthelræd may well have held on more onerous terms than the Norman newcomers who had taken over the other two leases.

The king’s grant to Æthelnoth in 946 said that it was given ‘as a perpetual inheritance’ (in eternam hereditatem)—no wonder Dunstan’s assent to the charter was pointedly grudging—and it is striking that the three known holders of the lease shared a common first element in their names: Æthelnoth (946), Æthelmær (1066), and Æthelræd (1086). Æthelræd may have been the last to hold North Wootton on lease: the twelfth-century surveys of Glastonbury’s manors show that North Wootton was taken back into the demesne of Pilton (Stacy 2001; VCH Som. IX, 214).



Abrams 1996: Lesley Abrams, Anglo-Saxon Glastonbury: Church and Endowment (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1996)

S: P. H. Sawyer, Anglo-Saxon Charters: An Annotated List and Bibliography, Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks 8 (London, 1968), revised by S. Kelly, R. Rushforth et al., The Electronic Sawyer: Online Catalogue of Anglo-Saxon Charters, published online through Kemble: The Anglo-Saxon Charters Website, currently at

Stacy 2001: Surveys of the Estates of Glastonbury Abbey, c. 1135–1201, ed. N. E. Stacy, Records of Social and Economic History, new series 33 (Oxford: Oxford University Press for British Academy, 2001)

VCH Som. IX: The Victoria History of the Counties of England: A History of the County of Somerset, IX, ed. R. W. Dunning (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer for the Institute of Historical Research, 2006)

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