The Domesday Book

This comprehensive survey of England was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1085. It listed all the lands granted to each overlord starting with the names of their tenants, recording the properties in detail, the land, the building, the people, the animals and the value at the time of Edward the Confessor and also at the time of the survey. This gave William, and future rulers, closer control over the barony and was used for taxation purposes and as a general government reference book for many years. The script is in Norman Latin and uses Roman numerals. It is extensively abbreviated, each item being separated from the next by a shorthand symbol for “and”, similar to a large figure seven. Each individual heading is in red ink and a red line is drawn through each place name as a form of highlighting.

The manor of Halsway was part of the lands granted to Roger de Courcelles and the tenant’s name was Alric. The Doomsday record states that Alric held Halsway from Roger de Courcelles, Alric ten(t) de Ro(ger) HALSWEIE and had held it in the time of King Edward, Ipse tenuit T.R.E. (tempore regis Edwardi) when he paid tax for three virgates of land, geld(a)b(at) pro iij virg(ates) t(er)ra, about 90 acres. Other items include land for three ploughs, e iij car, three slaves, iij servi, four villeins with one labourer, iiij villi cu i bord(ar), and four hundred acres of pasture, cccc ac pasturae. It was worth twenty shillings valete xx sol(idare). Alric also held the nearby manors of Bicknoller, Coleford, value four shillings, and part of the larger manor of Monksilver, Selve, valued at forty shillings. Land was held by him in other parts of Somerset including the manor of Combe Hawey, now Combe Hay.

In the Index of Personal Names in the modern translation of The Somerset Doomsday Book (Gen. Editor: John Morris) there are several areas of land listed under the name Alric and much of these he retained after the Conquest. In the Index of Place names we find in the entry for Combe Hay that the land is held by Algeric. The name Algeric is not in the personal names index, but from what else is known it can be assumed that Algeric was a variation of Algeric.

Collinson’s History of Somerset of 1791 gives details of the de Halweia family who took the name from the manor of Combe Hawey (or Hay), where they lived. The de Haweias owned lands in England and Wales and Halsway was only eight miles from the port of Watchet, just across the Bristol Channel from their estate in St Donats.

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