A. Roots in the lands of the King

The light of history shines only sporadically on the 11th century.” Andrew Bridgeford, 1066: The Hidden History in the Bayeux Tapestry’.

England’s lands belonged to King William I after 1066 “by right of conquest”. The Conqueror parceled his new lands as feudal baronies subject to tax and “knights service”. Their were approximately 200 Barons of England at this time. They held half the land of England as such or known as “tenets in chief” to King William and were answerable to the King only. The church maintained one quarter of the lands by William. The Anglo Saxons retained  5% and tenuously at best. William kept all remaining lands of his new Kingdom for himself.

“England’s political society was built on a complex system of bonds between lords and their vassals, in a hierarchy topped by the King and his barons” – The  Plantagenets-Dan Jones, 2012

Feudal Norman society was divided into three estates: the nobility, clergy and serfs. Each had a defined role and obligations. The lower nobility often overlapped with the clergy until 1215 when the Lateran Council forbade the clergy to marry, and the previous close association between church and Norman Lords began to ebb. The early de Mittons of the 12th century were of this system. They ruled locally through the church as rectors and Norman feudal manor lords. The manors were the fundamental basic polictical institution of England.

The River Ribble from Mitton Bridge looking towards Pendle Hill. Click to enlarge.

Ralph the Red” is the first Lord of Mitton Manor: Aighton, Changley, Bailey, Twistleton and Mearley in present day Lancashire. He is the progenitor of the family de Mitton and the first persona we attribute to that family. The name Mitton derives from the Doomsday Book of 1087. King William’s Doomsday survey uses a Saxon word “Mitune” to describe this geographic location for tax identification and basic governing organization.

The Doomsday Book completed in 1086 records the  “Mitune” location in Lancashire near the Ribble and Hodder rivers where Great Mitton Hall stands today. Other locations are also referred to in the Doomsday book by similar “Mythe” or “Mitune” names are also at confluences of rivers or streams. This may be coincidental.

Prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, Mitton was held by Earl Tosti, estranged brother of King Harold as part of his holdings in “Northumbira”. Tosti had been banished by Harold for his cruelty only to have him return from exile with the dastardly Harold Hadrada, the Dane Viking King. Hadrada was defeated at Stamford Bridge by King Harold in September 1066, one month before the battle of Hastings. That battle between William, Duke of Normandy and King Harold was for the English crown.

Great Mitton originally was part of the ancient Lordship of Bowland which comprised a Royal Forest and a Liberty of ten manors spanning eight townships and four parishes. It covered an area of almost 300 square miles (780 km2) on the historic borders of Lancashire and Yorkshire. The manors within the Liberty were Slaidburn (Newton-in-Bowland, West Bradford, Grindleton), Knowlmere, Waddington, Easington, Bashall Eaves, Mitton, Withgill (Crook), Leagram, Hammerton and Dunnow (Battersby).

The manor location of “Mitune” as recorded in the Doomsday Book of 1086 was then held by Roger de Poitou, a relative of the Conqueror who held the center at the battle of Hastings. He later lost lands twice for being on the wrong side of the Conqueror’s sons. The first time was in 1094 after Roger Poitou fell from royal favor under King Rufus, the 2nd. son and successor to the Conqueror as King of England. The second time was 1102 when Poitou was permanently exiled. His English lands were forfeited to the crown and immediately given to Robert de Lacy by Henry I, (third son and the second heir to the English kingdom of William the Conqueror). Robert de Lacy became Lord of Bowland and then quickly subenfeudled “Mitune” and other manor lands to “Ralph the Red” with a charter dated Nov. 23,1102. It was the largest alienation’s of manor lands by the conquest family the de Lacy`s to that date.

“Coincidentally, it was also in that year that the Honor of Clitheroe was formed, an amalgam of the lands of Bowland, the fee of Clitheroe and holdings in Hornby and Amounderness. Some commentators suggest the de Lacy’s, Lords of Pontefract, may already have been in possession of Bowland by the late eleventh century but this claim is unproven”. (De Lacy-Bellingari 1928, Wightman 1966).






For more on Mitton please see: http://books.google.com/books?id=oE0MAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq