Fist let`s consider how the picture changed between 1086 and 1379? The key point of interest is to ask whether there is any indication that the village was affected by the Black Death?
!n the Domesday Survey of 1086 there were five villein households and ten smallholdings in Darfield. Nearly three hundred years later, the situation was one of growth. Forty-three males and thirty-eight females were assessed as liable for tax. Now there were around forty-nine households, not including those of the extreme poor. This latter group paid no tax and we can only guesstimate their number - perhaps 10%, but possibly 25%. I have assumed that most children lived with their parents, and that servants were accommodated by those they served.
There were sixteen married couples ( five with older children ); and eight households with one or more servants.
The group of named trades reflects the local needs. A parson and a vicar cared for the spiritual requirements. The parson or rector was the prime figure with the vicar being his stand-in, or a vestige of the days when there were two manors. There were two masons, working in stone, two fleshers or butchers, a wright and a merchant of beasts.
The large racial divisions of 1086 were now gone .The Viking and Norman invaders had been assimilated, only remaining as names. Social divisions were now of class, or local squabbles. The one racial group people were expected to hate was the Jews.
Darfield was a real village in 1379. It was polyfocal (having many points of habitation). The original Darfield parish was probably an estate going back to Saxon or Roman times. Taxation was no longer based on manors but on villages. The structure of the village was still determined by agriculture, and would continue to do so until the nineteenth century.
Before 1100, no nation had ever mandated their people to have more than one name. Around that time the need for surnames did in fact become necessary. By having more than one name, the government could keep track of people easier when it came time to:
- Taxing the people
- Conducting a census of the population
- Determining the number of people available for military service
- Documenting or recording royal blood lines (lineage), etc.
Fifteen households, almost a third of families, had a head whose name incorporated "de" indicating a move from another place. The "de" was dropped in succeeding generations. These were:
Thomas from Crofton
Richard and Adam from Woodhall
Robert from Higham
Margaret from Hyndley
Thomas from Crook
Elizabeth from Huddersfield
Alice from Thorpe
Thomas from Wakefield
John from the Kechyn
William from the Dale
Thomas from Carlton
William and John from Spain
Richard from the Hill
and John from Almondbury, who is not taxed and probably a church employee.
This means that one third of tenants, and their heirs had died in the plagues of 1348 to 1379, leaving tenancies vacant for others to take over. The manor owners of Darfield must have been offering attractive terms to bring in so many tenants.
They also show that the Lord of the manor had to go outside the village to find tenants to take on land holdings. Normally a tenant`s relatives were required to take on their land when he or she died, but in these fifteen cases this was not possible. There is a strong possibility that the Black Death claimed the lives of at least this many families between the first attack in 1349 and 1379.
These new tenants came from
Doncaster has been calculated at having lost 58% of its population, although Thorne lost fewer because the black plague rats disliked water. One Darfield couple, Hubert de Derfeld and Johanna his wife, moved to Doncaster to take up his trade as a cordwainer or shoemaker, thinking he would be more affluent there. There may have been others who left the village.