A team of yoked oxen ploughing. Based on an illustration in the Luttrell Salter

A team of yoked oxen ploughing. Based on an illustration in the Luttrell Salter

After the Black Death in 1349, which was responsible for the deaths of about one third of the population of England, the rate of change in the traditional way of life on the medieval manor escalated rapidly. Before that time, the lord of the manor had extracted onerous work duties from his tenants, and they had no choice but to obey. After the Black Death and the large drop in population, labour became much more scarce, making it necessary for lords of manors to pay higher and higher wages to hire workers and the tenants were increasingly paid money in lieu of work services. There was an attempt to stop this in 1351 by the Statute of Labourers which was legislation brought in by the government to freeze wages at the pre 1348 rate, but it was only partly successful.(1)
In 1377 King Richard II needed money to finance his army in a war against France and so he imposed a Poll Tax of 3 groats on all men, which was probably roughly the equivalent of one month’s earnings.(2) This proved to be a very successful way of raising money, and so he taxed them again in 1379 and 1380.(3) Unfortunately for him, quite a large proportion of the population realised that this was becoming a regular occurrence, and were able to avoid being taxed, probably by leaving their homes temporarily. In Suffolk the number of tax payers in 1377 was 58,610 and falling to 44,635 in 1381. Similarly the number in Ipswich fell from 1507 to 963.(4) The later tax was also very severe for members of the clergy who had to pay 20 groats each in two installments due on 22nd February and 24th June 1381. Such was the loss of revenue the second time round that the King sent out officials to enforce its collection.(5) One of the tax collectors in Suffolk was Thomas Sampson but he was sacked in 1381 and thereafter took an active role in the rebellion.
It is significant that members of the clergy were heavily taxed in 1380, as proportionally high numbers took part in the revolt.
The unrest started in Kent and Essex on May 31st 1381. Cities, castles and large houses were stormed by the rebels where they released prisoners and destroyed documents such as court rolls and tax lists. The rebels then moved on to London attacking Lambeth Palace and destroying John of Gaunt’s palace, the Savoy.
By Friday 14th June the rebels had met with the King, their leader Watt Tyler had been killed, and the main force in London had been dispersed.

(1) Strong R. The Story of Britain Oman Productions Ltd. 1996, p.109
(2) Strong, op. cit. p.109
(3) Powell The East Anglia Rising 1381 SROI A323.33 942.038 p.4
(4) & (5) Powell, op. cit. p.6


A Map of Bramford Based on the 18th Century Estate Plans

A Map of Bramford Based on the 18th Century Estate Plans

The uprising in Suffolk started near Sudbury on the eve of the feast of Corpus Christi, which was Wednesday 12th June 1381. The following day it moved northwards to Long Melford, and then on to Bury St. Edmunds. Several prominent men were caught and killed by the rebels, mostly tax collectors or judges.
By Saturday 15th June the trouble had reached the Ipswich area, when Thomas Sampson of Harkstead called on the people of Ipswich to join him in the rebellion the following day.(1) He led a crowd of men who attacked the premises of John Gerard in Ipswich. Another group went to Melton, north east of Ipswich, and there raided the premises of William Fraunceys. The rebels led by Richard Tollemache of Bentley later caught and killed Fraunceys in Ipswich. Another man from the area who was killed was Thomas atte Oke who managed to get almost to Kings Lynn before he was caught. Both of these men were mentioned in the Bramford Court Rolls.
Thomas Sampson, an ex-tax collector turned rebel, was a ringleader not only in Ipswich, but he also travelled the hundred of Bosmere and Claydon, to which Bramford belonged, stirring discontent. After the revolt he was captured on July 23rd, condemned to death, but later pardoned by the King.(2)
The date of the revolt was significantly timed to coincide with the feast of Corpus Christi which was very important to the Church, and on that day every year a procession was held between the two priories of Holy Trinity and St. Peter and Paul in Ipswich. It is very likely that the rebels knew the premises belonging to them in Bramford would be only lightly manned, making it an ideal time to break in.(3)
The facts that we know about the Bramford connection with the uprising in 1381 are very sparse. They come from the Court of Common Pleas and are as follows:-
The Prior of Holy Trinity in Ipswich, represented by John Andrew, accused 11 men of taking by force of arms goods and chattels worth £40 from premises in Ipswich.(4)
The names of these men were:
Nicholas Fyket, Thomas atte Wod, John Tale, John Shepherd (bocher), John Sygelmere, junior, Bartholemew Andrew, Simon Blomvyle, Walter Poyntelle, John Sprot, William Brid and Simon Barker both of Ipswich

A further 6 men were accused of taking by force of arms 20 oxen, 20 cows, 20 heifers and 100 sheep worth £40 from premises in Bramford.(5)
Their names were:
Peter Dawes of Bramford, John Cok, Thomas Bakester, John Pascall de Capel, Richard Chandron of Belstead, and John Cheshunt.

(1) & (2) Powell, op. cit. pp 21-2
(3)Lilian Redstone Ipswich Through The Ages East Anglian Magazine 1948 p.77
(4)& (5) PRO Court of Common Pleas, CP 40/486 fol. 362 r2 & 483 fol. 244 r2

The same Prior, represented by Roger Car, accused the same 6 men (although their names were spelt differently) of taking by force of arms 20 oxen, 20 cows, 16 heifers and 100 sheep worth £40 from premises in Bramford. (1)
(This entry is very similar to the previous one)
Peter Dawes of Bramford, together with 3 other men from nearby villages, was accused again by Robert de Darsham of Offton for an offence at Barrow in Blackbourn Hundred.(2)
Thomas de Wode was also accused by John Mor of Needham Market of entering by force of arms his enclosure and buildings in Bramford and taking away goods and chattels worth 40s.(3)
John Notekyn of Bramford along with 36 other men, one of whom was John Waryn, was accused by John Gerard, mercer. (4)
There are very few documents surviving from this period and the ones which give most information are the Court Rolls.(5) These record changes in land tenure and minor misdemeanours. Unfortunately one Roll from 1378 to 1399, which covered the period immediately before and after the revolt and the whole of the reign of King Richard II, is missing. This is not uncommon. The Court Rolls frequently recorded the status of villagers, and at a time when some men were resentful of the old system of “free” and “unfree” tenements with their associated labour works, the Rolls were one of the first targets of attack for the rebels. However, as there is an earlier Roll, and the next Roll does not start until 1399, it may be that the second Roll went missing some time after the rebellion. Surely if the rebels had targeted the Rolls at the time of the revolt, the first one would have been destroyed also, and the run would start soon after the trouble had settled.
We can, however, obtain some useful information from the Rolls which have survived. Taking each name individually we can trace their first appearances at the manor court and estimate their ages at the time of the revolt.

(1) CP 40/489 f.143 r4
(2) CP 40/489 f.215 v6
(3) CP 40/489 f.334 rl
(4) CO 40/485 f.77 v7
(5) SROI Bramford Court Rolls HB 8/1/663-666


The name of Fyket occurred in Akenham parish in 1356, (1) but did not appear in Bramford until Nicholas was first mentioned in 1368 when he was fined for fishing in the lord’s fishery without permission. Over the next couple of years his name continued to occur for relatively minor offences such as brewing and selling ale against the assize. By 1371 he was named as a Capital Pledge, (i.e. head of his tithing) along with several of the other rebels, showing that he was by no means a “peasant”. After this date his minor offences appear to have ceased. He must have been at least 24 years old at the time of the rebellion.
atte Wood
This name first appeared in 1354 when Thomas was fined for not attending manor court, and thereafter continued to appear for minor offences. By 1371 he had become a Capital Pledge. Assuming that it is the same Thomas in all the documents, we can assume that by 1381 he must have been at least 39 years old.
The name of Tarle first occurred with Agnes, possibly his mother, in 1353, but as this was the year that the Rolls began the family could have been in the village for longer. John did not appear in the rolls until 1367 for brewing against the assize. He must have been at least 26 years old at the time of the revolt.
The name of Richard Shepherd first appeared in 1354 complaining about a charge first brought to court two years earlier and for which he was awarded damages. In 1375 he was accused of debt but did not appear in court, and was therefore attached to attend the next court with 16 pledges. He does not appear to have been outlawed as he crops up again in 1377 accusing others of trespass and debt. John, son of Richard, first appears in March 1376 accused of drawing blood from one Robert de Bocking. Richard again appears later that year accused of stealing timber worth 6s 8d. From this we could estimate that John would have been quite young in 1381, probably in his early twenties, and his occupation was given as butcher.
The family of Sigilmere, which had many different spellings, had been in the village for several generations. The name first appears in the Subsidy Return of 1327.(2) From the Court Rolls it seems to have been quite a large family, as the following names occur:-Thomas & Robert (1369), John (1370), Alice (1371) all for relatively minor offences such as trespass, or brewing ale. John Sygelmere junior is first mentioned as a Capital Pledge, together with Robert, in 1375 which would make him at least 20 years old in 1381.

(1) David Allen Ipswich Borough Archives 1255-1835 Boydell & Brewer, 2000. C/3/ 10/2/3/3/49 p.348
(2) Lay Subsidy Returns, Suffolk Green Books No. IX Vol.II p.18

The name of Andrew appeared in 1364 with the first name William. Bartholemew was mentioned for the first time in 1371 and quite regularly thereafter for the routine offence of brewing and selling ale against the assize. In 1375 he was a Capital Pledge. In the Ipswich Borough Archives he is recorded as purchasing land and tenements in Bramford in March 1381, just before the rebellion, and selling them again one month after.(1)

The place of residence of John Waryn was not specified in the accusation but as someone of this name does appear in the Court Rolls I have included the information. The name of Robert Waryn occurred in 1353 and in subsequent rolls over the next three years, usually on routine matters, and he was also a witness to a feoffment in 1359.(2) Also mentioned were Isabelle and Agnes Waryn.
John was first mentioned in 1353 when he was fined for default of suit of court, but did not occur again until 1369 so he must have been well behaved over the intervening years. By 1371 he was appearing as a Capital Pledge but in 1376 the heirs of John Waryn were fined for default. This would suggest that it was a second John who took part in the revolt and who was a young man at the time, probably related to the first, but not old enough to be considered at court as there was no mention of senior and junior.
Another John Waryn appeared in the Lay Subsidy Returns for the parish of Barrow near Newmarket, which may have had a connection with Peter Dawes, but this has not yet been established.(3)

There was no mention of the name of Dawes in the Court Rolls before Peter who first appeared in 1376 but must have been in the village for some time before that date as he was accused of trading as a butcher and not carrying out his duties in the office of ploughman for the previous sixteen years.(4) In the rebellion he was accused of three separate attacks by two different people, so he must have played a major part in the disturbance rather than merely being caught up by accident.

The name of John occurred in 1376 when he gave apologies for John Waryn to be excused suit of court but apart from this was not mentioned.

(1) David Allen, op. cit. p.378
(2) Iveagh Manuscripts SROI HD 1538/145/15
(3) Bramford Court Rolls SROI HB8/1/663

Simon Blomvyle, Walter Poyntelle, William Brid, John Notekyn, Thomas Bakester and John Sprot.
These names did not appear in the surviving Court Rolls until after the revolt so if they were living in the village they must have been very well behaved. They might have been newcomers to the parish who were first mentioned in the missing rolls, or they might have been living in nearby parishes.
The name of John Brid occurred as a witness to a feoffment in 1342, possibly a relative of William,(1) and in Bramford in the Lay Subsidy Return of 1327.(2)
A grant of 1371 mentions a witness Nicolas le Baxter, which could be the same name as Bakester.(3)
John Sprot of Little Bricett is mentioned in the Tollemache Family Papers in 1411, but it may not be the same person who was involved in the revolt.(4) Richard Tollemache was one of the ringleaders with Thomas Sampson. Descendants of this family are now the Lords of Helmingham Hall.
The Poll Tax lists for the town of Hadleigh in 1381 include the names of John Waryn – workman, Robert Sprot – cobbler, and John Cok – workman.(5) It is possible that these men were spreading the revolt from the Hadleigh area into Bramford and Ipswich.

(1) HD 1538/1145/13
(2) Lay Subsidy Returns, op. cit.
(3) Tollemache Family Papers SROI T/HEL/51/2
(4) ditto T/HEL/54/10
(5) Powell, op. cit. p111


The two men who were killed by the Ipswich rebels were William Fraunceys and Thomas atte Oak, both of whom were mentioned in the Bramford Court Rolls.

William Fraunceys did not appear often in the Court Rolls up to 1377. The first occasion was in 1371 when he was represented by his attorney who accused Thomas Leyham of debt, and as Thomas did not appear at court he was to be called to the next court. This occurred again in the next two courts when Thomas was called on four and then eight pledges. After that the case appears to have been settled as Thomas did not reach sixteen pledges and so was not outlawed. However the same Thomas was again accused of debt by Fraunceys two years later, but this time the case appears to have been settled quite quickly. Two years later Fraunceys accused William Fank (or Fauk) of debt, which again appears to have been quickly settled.
William’s home was at Melton near Woodbridge, and on the Sunday of the rebellion it was plundered by a group of rebels led by Thomas Sampson and John Battisford, the parson of Bucklesham. They took away gold, silver, spoons, cups, belts, rings, pewter, domestic utensils, corn and beasts.(1) William was pursued by the rebels, caught and beheaded in Ipswich. This was the only murder in this area, so he must have been a very unpopular person.

Thomas atte Oak first appeared as a sub-constable in the Court Rolls in 1367, then as steward in 1368, at the same court at which Nicholas Fyket was fined for illegal fishing. Thereafter his name appeared on a regular basis prosecuting villagers for various misdemeanours such as trespass, damage to crops, burglary and debt. He did not appear to have directly accused any of the men named in the rebellion, except on one occasion for default of suit of court. Until 1377, his busiest court was in January 1371 when his name appeared nine times, accusing several villagers of misdemeanours such as damaging his crops, stealing fagots, causing damage in the lord’s pasture and breaking into his property. Because the Court Rolls from 1378 onwards are missing, it is possible that he became much more officious before the revolt, but we will never know. He must have made many enemies, as during the rebellion he was pursued, caught and killed at Kings Lynn in Norfolk.(2)
Both of these men were officers of the Abbey of St. Etheldreda at Ely, and as such held positions of relative power in the parish. Fraunceys was a bailiff of the Liberty, and the gaoler at Melton. Atte Oak was a steward as mentioned above. The mere fact that Fraunceys had his own representative in the manor court sets him apart from the general population. As it would have been very difficult for the rebels to attack the abbey in Ely, the next best thing would have been to attack the officers locally, but feelings must have been very strong for the two men to be killed. However none of the men involved in these killings were named as coming from Bramford. Whether or not any Bramford men were instigators working behind the scenes we will never know.

(1) Powell, op. cit. p.22
(2) Powell, op. cit. p.22

Holy Trinity Priory

The priory had held land in Bramford for many years before the revolt. In 1311 there was a dispute over one carucate of land with appurtenances in Bramford, between the priory and John, son of Roland, who occupied the property. The judgement went in favour of the priory. It was also fined in 1371 and 1373 for not paying rent for a tenement which it held in Helmingham. It is unlikely that these items would have been the main cause of the trouble, but perhaps might have lingered in the minds of the village men and caused tension.(1) It is more likely that there was a general feeling of dissatisfaction with religious establishments in general. During the Black Death the only clergy who had worked in communities to help the sick were the Franciscan friars. The priory appeared regularly in the Court Rolls throughout the period, both before and after the rebellion, as did the priory of St. Peter and Paul, and Letheringham Priory.

Robert de Darsham of Offton
This family were substantial landowners but were not mentioned in Bramford, with one possible exception in 1366 when a John Dersham was called to Court for trespass.

John Gerard
This name occurred several times in the Court Rolls from 1368 onwards usually for default of suit of court.

(1) Rev. J. Munday, Bishop of Ely’s Survey 1251 G/3/27 pp.1-199


Although large numbers of rebels were taken to court and fined for their actions in the revolt, very few seem to have suffered permanently. This was certainly the case in Bramford. Only 20 of the Suffolk rebels were actually executed, and they were the leaders who had been responsible for the death of a representative of the crown, church or legal system.(1)
Copinger in his “Manors of Suffolk” states that there were the following manors in Bramford:- Bramford or Carlton, Weylands, Ficketts, Normans, Beverlies, Lovetofts & Overtye.(2) The first five were all absorbed into Bramford Manor, and the last two into Lovetofts.(3)
In the first surviving Roll for Bramford Manor after the revolt, for the court held on 19th July 1399, no less than five of the rebels appear as Capital Pledges. They are Walter Poyntell, Bartholemew Andrew, Nicholas Theket, John Segelmere and Simon Blomvill. Also mentioned in the roll are John Waryn and John Tarle.
As they were still holding positions of responsibility this shows that in spite of the fact they were fined for their actions in the revolt, they did not suffer in the local community. In fact the opposite seems to have been the case.
Nicholas Fyket appears to have established his own manor. In 1384, when his occupation was given as cutler, he purchased lands and tenements from the widow of Nicholas Norman, and in 1397 he purchased more property abutting the road from Bramford to Sproughton. Witnesses to these transactions included Bartholemew Andrew, Thomas atte Wode and John Segelmere, all of whom were rebels. (4)
The last entry for Nicholas Fyket in the Court Rolls was in 1413, 32 years after the rebellion and 44 years after his first appearance. At this time he was still buying land and tenements in Bramford. Assuming he was in his mid twenties at the time of the rebellion, he would have been in his 60’s when he died. It seems likely that he left no male heir, as the name died out in the village from then on.

(1) Ridgard J. The Uprising of 1381, An Historical Atlas of Suffolk p.90
(2) Copinger W.A., The Manors of Suffolk Vol II pp.264-269
(3) SROI Davy Manuscripts J400/3 and Loraine Family Archives HA 61/436 and I am indebted to Veronica Hall for her unpublished work on a mid 16th century survey of Bramford Manor SROI HA 232/1437
(4) Iveagh Manuscripts SROI HD 1538/145/16 & 17

It is likely that the Sigilmere family established a manor also, probably Overtye. But then they may have moved down the hill a short way to build a new house beside the road to Somersham. The family name continued in the village until the 17th century. In 1619 Thomas Sicklemere was buried in the nave of Bramford Church, and this could not have happened unless he was a prominent member of the community. There is still a farm on the north-west boundary of the parish which bears the name “Sycamore” – a later corruption of Sicklemore. It is very close to Bramford Tye, and in various documents members of the family were mentioned as “Sykelmere of the Tye”. In 1510 another member of the family, John the elder of Cretingham, left property in Bramford to his son, also called John. Part of the bequest included the tenement called Blomfylds, so it appears that the family also bought up property which Simon Blomvyle had acquired. By this date the John owned property in Bramford called Sykylmers, Blomfylds, Loltys, and Herry Watyrdenys along with Talbotts in Burstall, and property in Bacton and Bacton Green.(1)
Simon Blomvyle must have purchased the property mentioned above but so far the evidence has not been seen. In 1418 he sold property which was jointly owned with John Seglmere and Richard Justice, which included a cottage called Raveneshous in Ravenes Lane (which lane is still there today).(2) His last entry in the Court Rolls was in 1434.
Peter Dawes did not appear in village records after the rebellion. It seems strange that in the trouble he was accused of offences in Bramford and in Barrow, which are about 25 miles apart. He must have had his own means of transport. Presumably as a butcher he would have had a horse, which would have made him very useful as a rider to carry messages and also to provide sharp weapons. It may be significant that the name of another of the rebels, John Waryn, also occurred in Barrow in 1327.
Weylands, Normans and Beverlies are names which also appear in the Court Rolls but appear to have taken no part in the rebellion. The name of Weyland occurs mainly with a lady called Margaret at this period. In her will dated 1420 she left property in Bramford, Sproughton, Whitton, Blakenham, Ipswich and Stoke, so the family must have been quite important landowners locally.(3) She had three daughters, Elizabeth, Alice who married James Andrew, and Eleanor who married John Sprot. As two of the rebels also had the names of Andrew and Sprot, it is likely that the family supported the rebellion even though no-one with the name of Weyland was prosecuted.
John & Nicholas Norman also appeared around this time and the manor of Normans had been established by 1425 when for the first time the tenants made fealty at the court of Bramford manor.(4)

(1) SROI Ipswich Wills Vol. 5 f.261
(2) Tollemache Papers Toll/HEL/51/5
(3) PCC Wills, PRO B11/2B 49 Marche
(4) Bramford Court Rolls HB 8/1/666

John de Beverley was a major landholder with a comparatively small acreage in Bramford. He is unlikely to have been involved in the rebellion as he was one of the jurors on behalf of the crown in the trial of Thomas Sampson, John de Battisford parson of Bucklesham and Richard Talmache of Bentley, who were accused with others of breaking into the property of William Fraunceys.(1)
Another name which appeared regularly in the Court Rolls at that time but appears to have taken no part in the revolt is Runting. There is no record of a manor being established by them, but there is a small hamlet between Bramford and Sproughton, now only four houses, which is still called Runton.
Thomas atte Wod must have died soon after the rebellion as in 1388 his widow Alice sold all her property in Bramford to Richard Justice the chaplain, Thomas Bardi and John Tarle. Witnesses to this sale included Nicholas Thyket, Bartholemew Andrew and John Sigilmere junior. It seems the rebels remained supportive of each other.(2)
The name of John Sprot, probably the son-in-law of Margaret Weyland, appeared in a feoffment in 1403 when, together with John Sykylmere, Robert Tarlee and another, he purchased lands and tenements from Richard Justice, clerk and John Tarlee. He does not appear to have formed his own manor.(3)
The name of Cok was listed in an inquisition held in 1429 into the tenement Normans and Beverlies on the death of Phillip Cok.(4)
Peter Dawes did not appear in the Court Rolls after 1399. As he was relatively old at the time of the rebellion he may have died by that date. Alternatively he may have moved away from Bramford. As one of his offences is supposed to have taken place in Barrow, which is in the north-west of the county, he may have had connections with that area.
It is not surprising that the lesser manors have no Court Rolls. If they were formed by local men who had rebelled against authority, it would be reasonable for them not to continue the old traditions and work duties associated with manors. It is much more likely that they managed their own land, hiring whatever labour could not be provided by the family, therefore they would not have needed Court Rolls.

(1) Powell, op. cit. p.127
(2) SROI Tollemache Papers Toll/Hel/51/4
(3) SROI HD 1538/145/18
(4) SROI HB 8/1/666


Name First entry in Court Rolls Estimated age in 1381 Last entry in documents
Nicholas Fyket 1369 Mid 20’s Died by 1418
Thomas ate Wood 1354 About 40 Died by 1388
John Tarle 1367 Late 20’s 1431
John Shepherd 1376 Early 20’s
John Sigilmere junior 1375 Early20’s 1429
Bartholemew Andrew 1367 Late 20’s 1412
John Waryn 1353 Early 20’s
Peter Dawes 1376(1360) About 40
John Cok 1371 ?
William Brid ?
John Notekyn ?
Walter Poyntelle Early 20’s 1431
John Sprot ?
Simon Blomvyle Early 20’s 1434

(These last five may have appeared in the missing Court Rolls between 1378 and 1399).
It seems clear that Peter Dawes would have been one of the oldest Bramford residents to be involved in the revolt, with a grievance dating back over twenty years. Perhaps the other butcher John Shepherd worked with, and was influenced by, him. It would have been very useful for the rebels to have on their side two butchers and a cutler to provide sharp weapons!
The other mature rebel was Thomas atte Wood, but he did not have time to acquire any substantial land holding after the revolt as he died before 1388.


When looking at the background to the rebellion, it becomes increasingly evident that the event was a significant milestone in the evolution of the manorial system. The tone of the Court Rolls changed after 1399, from being a record of minor misdemeanours on the manor before the revolt, to primarily a record of land holding after. Instead of four or five courts being held each year, after the revolt this changed to one.
The terms of land leases also changed. From frequent fines for default of suit of court before 1377, by 1429 tenants were being granted leases of 30 and 40 years. This is typical of many manors in the late 14th century. Because of the difficulty in obtaining labour to manage the demesne land after the Black Death, many lords reduced their area of demesne land and instead rented it out. This way the land was still used productively and produced crops and money, but the lord did not have the responsibility of managing it.
For some enterprising men this meant that they were able to obtain more land for themselves, and often amalgamate strips into larger plots, which they could then enclose. Enclosure would make the land more flexible in the type of crop which could be grown on it, and animals belonging to others could be kept off making it more profitable. Long term stability was achieved by the approval of longer term leases.
What is obvious from a study of the Court Rolls, is that the rebels may have been disciplined for their part in the revolt, but they did not suffer locally. In fact the opposite seems to have been the case, with a large proportion buying land which they enclosed, and started their own lesser manors. Not all of these manors succeeded in the long term, as with Ficketts, but some determined families like the Segelmeres did manage to establish large holdings which survived for several centuries.
Although the uprising of 1381 was not the only cause of change at the end of the 14th century, there is no doubt that it was a major factor in the decline of the manorial system.