"possessione Jonae Harrop de Bardsley"
"Nunc possessione Ralf Assheton, Bar. de Middleton."
Taken from James Butterworth's book 'History and Description of the Town and Parish of Ashton-under-Lyne' first printed in 1823.
"At the ffeast of Martyn in winter, the year of the King Henry (the sixth after the conquest) the first (11th November 1422). All the Tenants of the Lordship of Ashton-under-Lyne, taking their Tenements to ffarm for twenty winter term, at John of Assheton, Knight the which came out of Normandy. At the same ffeast, with all the services, customs, and usages, as after is, in this same Book written and rehearsed, and it has been used and customed of old time, every man to pay his ffarm at two times in the year, as Rental of this Book makes mention.
The service of the said Tenants is this, that they shall give their presents at Yole (Christmas) every present to such a value, as it is written and sett in the Rental, and the Lord shall feed all his said Tenants and their wives, upon Yole day at the dinner, if them like for to come, but the said Tenants and their wives, though it be for their ease not to come, they shall send neither man nor woman in their name, but if he be their son, other their daughter dwelling with them unto the dinner, ffor the Lord is not bounden to ffeed all, save only the good man and the good wife. Also every Tenant that plough has, shall plow two days, and he that half plough has, shall plow a day, whether the Lord beleiver in wheat seedling, other in Lenten seeding; and every Tenant harrow a day with their harrow in seeding time, when they bin charged, and they shall cart, every Tenant ten cart full of turve, fro Done a Moss to Asheton; and shear ffour days in harvest and cart a day corne, and they shall pay a principal at their death, that is to whit: the best beast they have, which other deed, next after Holy Kirk.
Also the said Tenants shall multer their corne growing upon their said tenements at the Lord's milne to the sixteenth vessel, an they shall go to none other milne to make their corne growing on their Tenements, but to the Lord's milne, and if they buy corne to which is dryed with the Lord's ffewel(oven), they shall multer at the Lord's milne to the sixteenth vessel, and all other corne that they buy, they shall multer to the love sucken*, which is to the twenty fourth vessel, and go to none other milne, if the corne be bought within the said lordship.
*Please see explanation on a previous page recounting the covenants between the Lord of the Manor and his tenants 1379/80 - with many thanks to Matt Tompkins - Leicester University.
This is the whole Rental of the Tenants-at-Will of the said Lordship of Assheton, and the value of their presents at Yole, the year and the day aforesaid, the which Rent shall be payd at two terms of the year, that is for to wit, the ton half at the ffeast of St John Baptist, and tother half at the ffeast of St. Martyn,'ith' winter."
This document sets out in writing all the rights and obligations of the tenants of Sir John de Assheton acquired from ancient times. There were two classes of Tenants, the Free Tenants and Tenants-at-will (the will of the Lord). The Free Tenants were not obliged to give boon service to the Lord, but were to offer military assistance in times of battle. However the Tenants-at-will held their leases for twenty years and paid their rents (ffarms) twice yearly. They were also obliged as outlined above to spend several days of the year in service to the Lord of the Manor working on his lands. It is interesting to see how far back some of our Christmas/Yole/Yule customs orignated that is the giving of presents and Christmas Dinner. As can be seen above the same rules regarding the use of the Lord's Corn Mill were still in use as had existed in an earlier covenant for the Manor dated 1379.
The following pages lists the names of all Sir John's Tenants-at-Will setting out their individual rents and obbligations.
Source: "History and Description of the Town and Parish of Ashton-under-Lyne" by James Butterworth, first printed 1823, Thomas Cunningham. Reprinted E J Morton.