Ely Inquest


The Inquisitio Eliensis (the Ely Inquest or Enquiry) is a dossier excerpted from lost drafts of the Domesday survey , relating to the estates of Ely Abbey in Cambridgeshire. The Domesday survey was a record of people and property in England, commissioned by William the Conqueror at Christmas 1085. Together with Exon Domesday, the Ely Inquest provides important evidence as to how the survey was carried out.

The preface to the Ely Inquest describes how the Domesday survey was conducted, and lists the names of the men who gave sworn testimony in each hundred (district) in Cambridgeshire and in part of Hertfordshire. The Domesday process is said to have been ‘an enquiry into landed property’ (inquisitio terrarum), undertaken by the king’s barons on the testimony of the sheriff, the barons, their French dependents and the whole hundred (comprising priests, estate officers and six men from each estate centre or vill). The text then lists twenty-three questions to be asked by the surveyors: 

1. What is the estate called?

2. Who owned it in the time of King Edward the Confessor [1066]? 

3. Who owns it now [1086]?

4. How many hides are there?

5. How many plough teams belong to the lord?

6. How many plough teams belong to the men of the manor?

7. How many villans are there?

8. How many cottars?

9. How many slaves?

10. How many freemen?

11. How many sokemen?

12. How much woodland?

13. How much meadow?

14. How much pasture?

15. How many mills?

16. How many fish ponds?

17. How much has been added or taken away?

18. What was it worth [in the time of King Edward]?

19. What is it worth now?

20. How much did each freeman have then?

21. And now?

22. How much did each sokeman have then?

23. And now?

24. All this is to be given three times: what it was in the time of King Edward, what it was when King William gave it, and what it is now [1086]

Full title:
Inquisitio Eliensis
12th century
© Trinity College Library, Cambridge University
Held by
Trinity College Library, Cambridge University
Cambridge, Trinity College, MS O.2.41

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