Tithing Groups

All people over the age of 12 in Yalding are members of a tithing group. The head of the tithing group is called a tithingman. It is his responsibility to make sure all the members of the tithing group attend the Manor Court. If a person runs away after committing a crime, the remaining members of the tithing group can be punished for the offence.

People often work the fields in their tithing groups. This is especially important when the fields need ploughing. Most plough-teams consist of four oxen or four horses. As it is unusual for peasants to own more than one or two of these animals, it is necessary for them to combine their resources so that their land can be ploughed efficiently. The tithing groups also work together during harvesting.

With good weather and reasonable soil, an acre of land in the 14th century would probably produce over 40 sheaves of corn per year. It has been estimated that 80 sheaves of corn was needed to feed each person each year. If it was a bad harvest or if the family did not have enough land to produce the necessary food, members of the family had to spend time working for someone else. The average pay for harvesting in 1340 was either one pence or one sheaf of corn per day.

If a family produced more food than they needed, they could sell the surplus to other members of the village. Villagers could use this money to help increase their food production in the future. For example, they could rent more land or buy extra animals and farming equipment.

The size of a family was an important factor in the peasant economy. When the children were very young, they consumed more than they produced. They also needed looking after. If a member of the family was looking after very young children, they would find it difficult to work in the fields. The situation improved when the children were old enough to work. They now produced more than they consumed. However, if there was a poor harvest or there was no demand for extra labour, a large family was a liability.

1. Fill in Section 7 of your Family Information Chart.

2. (a) Decide on your ploughing teams. (b) Decide on how you are going to organise your harvesting teams. Write down the results of the discussion in your books.