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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 73 - 1959  pages 123
Late-Continued Demesne Farming at Otford. By F. R. H. Du Boulay, M.A., F.R.Hist.S. Continued

   The difficulty of striking a modern balance with a medieval account, or even appreciating a medieval account with medieval eyes, has often enough been remarked. It is not possible to point to a clear accounting reason why the lord leased off his whole demesne in 1444. Several developments may have played a part in the decision. Archbishop Stafford succeeded Chichele in 1443, and the arrival of a new lord was sometimes the occasion for a new start by the financial organization. Secondly, the cost of working the demesne was undoubtedly becoming high. Thirdly, there were men ready to take on the demesne- lands, work themselves, pay a regular rent to the lord, and go on supplying his household with provisions against cash when required. The questions of labour and of the new farmers may, in conclusion, be briefly discussed.
   The rising cost of labour has already been alluded to. In 1443-4 the surveyor, William Stevens, had not only to convert the corn liveries of the famuli to money at a rate favourable to them, but had to arrange for the serjeant to be subsidized by payments from outside super husbonciriam facienclam. Even though the standing labour force had been reduced since the earlier fourteenth century, and now stood at four ploughmen, a carter and a shepherd,they came expensive when their wages and liveries were added up. Nor was the difficulty one of commanding customary services, as it was in other parts of England, since the customary services of tenants on these west Kentish manors of the archbishop did not count for very much.

On the analogy of Wrotham and Bexley, it was more difficult in the later middle ages to keep the Kentish famulus sweet.3
   Labour-services at Otford, such as they were, came to an end with the final leasing of the demesne. Portions of the demesne were being let out before the complete leasing of 1444. The first farmer who comes to notice was the then serjeant, Thomas Brounswayn, who in 1402-3 took the demesne lands and pastures with 9 acres of meadow in Shoreham for seven years at 3 6s. 8d. per annum.4  In 1414 he was holding them for term of life,5 but by 1418 they had passed. to a member of the well-to-do Otford family of Dorkynghole,and by 1427 to Robert Tymberden,whose family were also local tenants of
  1 L.R., 871, 872.
2 L.R., 853.
3 E.g., at Bexley in 1350 the bailiff reported that the value of liveries claimed by the famuli must be allowed, et famuli aliter non potuerunt haberi (LB., 240) at Wrotham in 1401 extra pay was allowed in rewardo facto omnibus famulls maneru ut melius se haberent in servicio domini (L.R., 1142).
4 L.B. 838.
5 L.R., 850.
6 L.R., 853. That this family was of some financial standing is indicated in Early Chancery Proceedings (Public Record Office, Class Cl), File 24, no. 258 (1464). I owe this reference to my former pupil, Miss Margaret Avery.
7 L.B., 857.

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