Monday, March 28, 2011
The First JONES Surname in English Records
The land and who owned it was the foundation of feudal society. To own land, or at least be given title to the land, required a complex social order of "might makes right" verses those who actually lived upon and occupied the land. When William I arrived to the island, the Saxons, the Danes, and the ancient Britons had been trying to settle this issue for generations. Of course, William I settled most of this discussion when he got around to documenting his new land in the Domesday accounts. From 1086 onward, those who lived upon the claimed territory had to adjust their thinking and life-style to fit into this new, French speaking, "might makes right". By the time of Henry III, the new dominions (700 baronies) had been established, and those folks who opposed this were forced to occupy the high ground. For more than 50 years, Henry III shook all the bushes and managed to hold this domain together. At his death in 1272, his son Edward was out of the country learning his military strategies. Interestingly, one of the first acts that Edward did upon his return in 1272, was to inquire into the state of his land. This was officially called his "demesnes" and considered the right and revenues of "the crown". [ A demise comes from the French language meaning the transfer of the sovereignty to a successor.] Edward wanted to know what lands were under his control [linked to the crown by knight service], and what lands were under other types of "tenures". He also wanted to check if the sheriffs, officers, and ministers of his father had been ripping off the treasury. This fairly rapid inquiry became know as "Hundred Rolls", and is the first set of English documents to record the surname JONES! A set of commissioners were sent out to survey the land. They were to go into all cities, boroughs, and market towns and inquire of all demesnes, fees, honors, escheates [land lapsing back to the crown], liberties, and things involving fees and tenements belonging to the king or to others. The record involving Huntingdonshire hundred, summarized in 1273, is reported to contain the name of Matilda Jones! She is the first individual recorded in the English records using the surname JONES. Much more to come!