Monday, September 28, 2009

Question from Jacque - Keepers and bailiffs of manors

I noticed that in Letters and Papers there are sometimes grants given to favoured courtiers where they are to be the "keeper" of such and such a manor. What does this mean? Also what does it mean to be the "bailiff" of a manor? What would keepers and bailiffs have had to do?

1 comment:

kb said...

I know more about this under Elizabeth. Keeper of a property generally meant that the grantee was in charge of maintaining the property, overseeing it's repair, decoration and the surrounding parks, forests etc. The keeper was sometimes granted a salary for this, or sometimes could pay themselves from the revenues (farms, etc.) of the manor. there might also be a steward who would do the actual management for a salary and/or percentage of profits while the keeper derived the benefits.

Keepers also could move themselves and their family into the property. They 'kept' the property on behalf of the crown so if the monarch wanted to come visit, rooms would have to available.

I can provide one specific example regarding Somerset House in London. Henry Carey was made keeper of this property 1 July 1574. It then became something of London-based Carey residence. in 1582 his daughter Margaret was married to Edward Hoby with the Queen in attendance. On 14 December 1595, Henry's wife Anne was made keeper of the same property, possibly as something akin to a retirement pension.

Another example was the granting of the keepership of Syon monastery to Sir Francis Knollys and his wife Katherine Carey Knollys on 27 May 1560. This same grant specified that Francis would also be the bailiff.

It is my understanding that bailiffs were responsible for maintaining legal and social order and reported to keepers - or if there were no keeper, the steward.

Hopefully others can fill in here