Domesday Book

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Domesday Book

An ancient record of land ownership in England.

Commissioned by William the Conqueror in the year 1085 and finished in 1086, the book is a superb example of thorough and speedy administration, unequaled by any other project undertaken during the Middle Ages. Minute and accurate surveys of all of England were done for the purpose of compiling information essential for levying taxes and enforcing the land tenure system.The work was done by five justices in each county who took a census and listed all the feudal landowners, their Personal Property, and other information. The judges gathered their information by summoning each man and having him give testimony under oath. This is perhaps the earliest use of the inquest procedure in England, and it established the right of the king to require citizens to give information, a foundation of the jury trial.

Domesday was a Saxon word meaning Judgment Day, at the end of time when God will pronounce judgment against all of mankind. The name given to this record may have come from the popular opinion that the inquiry was as thorough as that promised for Judgment Day.

Two volumes of the Domesday Book are still in existence, and they continue to be valuable for historical information about social and economic conditions. They are kept in the Public Record Office in England.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Domesday Survey was commissioned on Christmas day, 1085, and it is generally thought that work on Domesday Book was terminated on the death of William in September 1087.
Unlike modern surveys, the Domesday Survey was a public event.
By the time of the Domesday survey they had certainly succeeded in cornering a sizeable share of the industry.
Lady Godiva, who in legend rode naked through the streets of mediaeval Coventry, was recorded in the Domesday Survey in 1086 as the owner of Bellbroughton.
Mentioned in the Domesday survey, two onceinaccessible areas can still be explored - one, a small chamber which provides picturesque views from round-headed windows and the other, a lessthan-picturesque medieval toilet.
AS one of the eight ``hundreds'' of Lancashire, West Derby was far more important than the little hamlet of Liverpool ignored by the Domesday survey.
She held onto the land for some time after the conquest although by the time the Domesday survey was taken, after her death, her lands were listed as being in the hands of others.
Last year the north west's report, described as a modern Domesday survey, was launched at Liverpool's Tobacco Warehouse, which is on the ECHO's Stop the Rot hitlist.
English Heritage released its first State of the Historic Environment report, described as a modern Domesday survey, today.