This first volume is sub-titled from “La Warre to Lacy”, the surnames of the Lords of the Manor, but as far as possible, this book is about the doings of the rank and file (that’s probably you, and certainly me.) We see the rise of new-fangled surnames, so that John, who was “of Brislington” if he was in Bristol, but “of the Green” (John Green) when he came home. By 1327 we have a list of ratepayers, more than two dozen (male) villagers, all with forename and surname, collected for – what else? – poll tax purposes. By the end of the next century, our neighbour, St Anne’s with its shrine, had become popular with pilgrims, the first tourists, among them King Henry VII and his entourage. We can still walk “the Pilgrim’s Way” and though it is not that old, we can still stop for a pint in “the Pilgrim” the pub in Hollywood Road. The parish registers of Brislington survive from 1566 with those baptised, married and buried in the parish and the Manor Court, convened three years later by John Lacy, names dozens of tenantry, men and women, lands, occupations and misdemeanours. Five entrepreneurs had begun digging coal in the parish. By the next century the villagers were complaining about the mess their carts are making of the roads. T’was ever thus.
You may be wondering about the cover – nobody knew how to spell Brislington, and this is a sample of the many alternatives used.
First published 1993
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