PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


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

Æthelræd 77 Æthelræd canon of St Martin’s, Dover (fl. 1086)

Author: CPL
Editorial Status: 4 of 5

  Discussion of the name



Æthelræd 77 held 1 sulung of the church of St Martin of Dover’s vill of St Margarets at Cliffe, on the cliffs east of Dover, and was presumably a canon of the collegiate church there.

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

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB




The Æthelræd (Alred) who held 1 sulung of the church of St Martin of Dover’s vill of St Margarets at Cliffe, on the cliffs east of Dover, was presumably a canon of the collegiate church. His unnamed father had held the estate TRE ‘as a prebend’ (in prebenda).

Æthelræd had one ploughteam in demesne in 1086; the 2 villans and 2 bordars who held under him had half a team. The value was 60s. rather than the 20s. of 1066, but whether that represents an increased value to Æthelræd or a higher rent paid by him is not clear.

In all, three Æthelræds are documented in the vicinity of Dover in the mid eleventh century, in chronological order: a thegn of Edward the Confessor in the 1040s (Æthelræd 38), the man who lived at Leueberge in 1066 (Æthelræd 73), and the canon of Dover who succeeded and was living in 1086 (Æthelræd 77).

The earliest of the three demands a closer look. Edward the Confessor gave his thegn (optimas) Æthelræd (Æþelredus) (Æthelred 38) 2 sulungs at West Cliffe between 1042 and 1044 in a charter which survives as an original (S 1044; K 769). Eadric held West Cliffe from King Edward in 1066 (Kent 5:186).

As the charter itself says, immediately east of the estate was the community of St Martin of Dover’s land at St Margarets at Cliffe (On east healfe þæs hiredes land to Dofran æt Clife). St Margarets and West Cliffe shared a place-name. Although GDB distinguishes them as Sancta Margarita and Wesclive, Clife is used for both places in the 1040s charter. The nineteenth-century boundaries of the two recommend the idea that West Cliffe was cut out of St Margarets at some point, perhaps newly so for Æthelræd 38 in the 1040s: St Margarets had a detached part west of West Cliffe, and the rectilinear parish boundaries here look very artificial (Kain and Oliver 2001: nos. 19/364–5). Æthelræd 73’s small allodial holding at Leueberge may have been in the next block of land west along the cliffs after West Cliffe and the detached part of St Margarets.

It is difficult to put substance on the feeling that the three Æthelræds of east Kent must have been connected. One possible reconstruction is that King Edward’s thegn in the 1040s gave his name to the others (sons of a local alod-holder and of a canon of Dover) by standing as godparent.



K: John M. Kemble, Codex diplomaticus aevi saxonici, 6 vols (London: English Historical Society, 1839–48)

Kain and Oliver 2001 = Roger J. P. Kain and Richard R. Oliver, Historic Parishes of England & Wales: An Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata (Colchester: History Data Service, 2001)

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

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