The 1327 Lay Subsidy Roll is the first record of people’s names in Martock.

These rolls of parchment record the names of all people wealthy enough to be worth taxing in England in 1327. At the beginning of the 14th century surnames are slowly becoming a fixture. Quite a few are place names, such as Roberto de Knole, a knoll being a hill, and Richardo ate More who perhaps lived near moorland (unenclosed lands).

Some names are professions, such as Johanne Fabro, John who fabricates (makes) things, and Thoma Larder, who had a job looking after a store of bacon and meat for a large household. Some surnames are nick-names such as Willelmo Shourte and Philippo Pudding. The rolls are written in Latin, the standard language for written records until the sixteenth century. So Thomas is written as Thoma, and John as Johanne. But the surnames defy being written in Latin, because they are derived from English words and cannot be translated by the clerk.

All early records are written by clerks (hence the surname Clark, Clarke and Clerk) government officials who do not know the area or the people they are recording. The names themselves have no fixed spelling, which did not arrive until the 18th century. So Roberto Elys would today be spelled as Robert Ellis, and Thoma Goding as Thomas Goodden. Where there are dots……….. it is because the writing was indecipherable or the parchment damaged. The clerk used the standard hybrid numeric system for the period, the last mumeral being written as a 'j', ijs meaning two shillings, vij seven shillings and iiijl four pounds (livres). The values are those of the individual’s property, which could either be land or goods. To see the original you will need to go to the Public Record Office in London. The photocopy we have may have cut off the pence column of the Martock and Henton entries.

Lay subsidy image