Extracts from the records

1327 – When Edward III came to the throne he granted through his first parliament in 1327 a lay subsidy to meet the expenses of the Scottish war. Those who were considered to have the means were ordered to contribute either a 15th or a 10th of their wealth. The following 15 people were assessed from Norton-in-Hales:-

Adam de Arraz
Adam le Hore
Reginald le Hore
Richard le Bret
John Jargonn
Richard de Deoryton
Richard son of Ranulph
William Snow
Simon Bercar
William de Chirchyord
William le Palmer
John Sonnyge
William de Astone
Richard le Hore
Matilda de Beaston

1341 – the parish of Norton-in-Hales was taxed £1 6s. 8d to the ninth of wheat, wool and lamb.

1342 – In August 1342 Sir Robert de Wyndesleye, parson of the church of Norton-in-Hales, granted 4 stones of wool to the King Edward III [1].

The Black Death – The first outbreak of the plague swept across England during the summer of 1348; by the spring of 1349 it was prevalent in Wales and the Midlands, it was at its peak in Shropshire in August. It is not known how much the people of Norton-in-Hales suffered but it is believed that Robert de Wyndesleye died from the Plague on 14th August 1349 [2] and was replaced soon after by Robert de Alstone. It is believed that over half of the people in Europe died and the plague continued to return every few years up until the 17th century. With so many people dying there was an immediate shortfall of labour; there were simply not enough workers around to farm the open fields productively. Ultimately, this led to the abandonment of the open field system of farming. Left with surplus arable land, the landlords converted it to pasture. The labour shortage did bring some long-term benefits to peasants. Wages increased; there was a fall in the cost of renting land, which meant that individual peasant households could acquire a larger share; and there was an increase in the consumption of meat and dairy products, as a result of the rise in livestock. Following the peasants revolt in 1380, people were no longer bound and constrained to their landlords, they now had more freedom to move from village to village seeking better wages and low rent.

1538 – With Henry VIII’s break with Rome incurred the threat of a large-scale French or Spanish invasion. To guard against this, he began to build a chain of expensive, state-of-the-art defences, along Britain’s southern and eastern coasts from Kent to Cornwall, largely built of material gained from the demolition of the monasteries. He also requested the assessment of the availability of local militia to act as a defence force when needed. In April 1538 Norton-in-Hales was assessed and the below men at arms were documented. [3]
John Cowper who has a jacke and bylle
William Pyxley [Pixley] who has a jacke, sallett and a bylle
William Frynd [Friend] who has a horse, harness and a bylle
Roger Coton [Cotton] who has a horse, harness and a bylle
John Graifner who has a horse, harness and a bylle
John Towe who has a horse, harness and a bylle
Thomas Johnson who has a horse, harness and a bow

Harness: The generic description for a man-at-arms defensive gear, including undergarments, armoured elements, and integral equipment such as spurs, sword, etc. Bylle: A weapon consisting of a large steel blade divided at the top into a hook and a pike, having a spike also at the back of the blade. It was mounted on a long wooden shaft. Jacke: A kind of quilted coat made of thick linen or leather, padded inside with various substances. Sallett or Salade: A common helmet of the 15th century. Its characteristic mark is the projection at the back protecting the back of the neck. Some sallets were fitted with visors, while others were worn open-faced.

There was also a further list if man at arms, but these were able men with no horses or harnesses.
Thomas Malpas
Humfrey [Humphrey] Wardley
Raffe Powle
William Gregory
William Fond
William Pyxley
Raffe Frynd
Hught [Hugh] Cleyton
Thomas Hasalle
Richard Harley
John Peyrson
William Cleyton
Feleppe Pygot [Piggott]
John Frynd
William Graifner
William Rwe
Richard Sandley
John Wynbury
William Wynyton
Richard Wystorton
Harry Burges
Jamis Galowe

The Hearth Tax was introduced in England and Wales by the government of Charles II in 1662 at a time of serious fiscal emergency. By the terms of the 1662 Act, the hearth tax was payable by people whose house was worth more than 20s a year, and who contributed to local church and poor rates. One shilling was liable to be paid for every firehearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings, and was payable at Michaelmas, 29 September and on Lady Day, 25 March. The tax thus amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove per year.

Taken from the Shropshire hearth tax roll of 1672

Mr Grosvenor 8 hearths 16s
Mr Bradley 3 hearths 6s
William Pimley 1 hearth 2s
Widdowe Malpas 2 hearths 4s
Richard Minshall 2 hearths 4s
John Sandles 2 hearths 4s
Richard Clutton 3 hearths 6s
William Shore 3 hearths 6s
William Cooper 2 hearths 4s
Thomas Cowper 1 hearth 2s
William Winnington 1 hearth 2s
Widdowe Jackson 2 hearths 4s
William Fisher 1 hearth 2s
William Knight 1 hearth 2s
Richard Minshall 2 hearths 4s
Robert Pimley 1 hearth 2s
Richard Cowper 1 hearth 2s
William Biggars 2 hearths 4s
Widdowe Frend 1 hearth 2s
Widdowe (…) 1 hearth 2s
(…) Mullineux 1 hearth 2s
Richard Mooxton 1 hearth 2s
John Wodeley 2 hearths 4s
Ralph (..)per 1 hearth 2s
Thomas Greene 2 hearths 4s
(…) Ramdolls 1 hearth 2s
(..) Pixley 1 hearth 2s
Richard Pue 1 hearth 2s
Richard Beardmore 2 hearths 4s
William Gregory 1 hearth 2s
Thomas Greenwoller 1 hearth 2s
Henry Walker 1 hearth 2s
William Gregory Jnr 1 hearth 2s
Richard Pimley 1 hearth 2s
William Simpson 1 hearth 2s
Richard Cowper 2 hearths 4s
Thomas Shore 2 hearths 4s
Robert Beetenson 1 hearth 2s
Widdowe Hanson 1 hearth 2s
William Greene 1 hearth 2s
Robert Walton 1 hearth 2s

William Cotton Esq 15 hearths £1 10s
Robert Horne 3 hearths 6s
Thomas Porter 3 hearths 6s
Widdowe Foxe 2 hearths 4s
Mrs Maynwaringe 2 hearths 4s
William Sherrard 1 hearth 2s
John Horton 1 hearth 2s
William Plant 1 hearth 2s
Thomas Hill 1 hearth 2s
John Summerfield 1 hearth 2s
Edward Hill 1 hearth 2s
Edward Butt 1 hearth 2s
William Mason 1 hearth 2s
William Shaw 1 hearth 2s


[1] Calendar of patent rolls, Edward III, vol 5 p 498
[2] Antiquities of Shropshire, p 370
[3] Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, pg 263