Dr. Adrian Gregson, County and Diocesan Archivist, writes: The generous support of the Friends of the National Libraries facilitated the purchase of this small terrier of land owned by Thomas Yardley, dated 1506. Erroneously described as relating to Bewdley, it is actually land at Beoley, north east of Redditch. The error appears to date from earlier descriptions which misread some depictions of Beoley as Bedley. Geographic names in the terrier including Heath Cross, Mapleborough Green and Holt End confirmed the actual location.
The terrier is a beautifully preserved account of Thomas Yardley’s land with a few drawings and scratchy cartoon letters, on two pieces of parchment sewn roughly together, and then again sewn on a cloth binding at the title end. Some twenty-four estates are referred to in the roll.
It is extremely valuable in terms of information on this area of Worcestershire for which we hold very little from this period. For archivists and researchers this level of information on land ownership outside of the manorial system is rare and of great interest.
Collected as part of the History of Western Script, the value to other bidders appears to have been in relation to the use of Middle English, although this is said to be an unusually late usage. Nevertheless, the language, the style, the characters and the materials all make this a document of greater interest than simply the information content.
The terrier was one of Sir Thomas Phillips’ manuscript collection and may have been of interest in his home county, being based at Broadway, although his collecting habits seem to have been very wide ranging. This document however appears to have been part of the residue bought by the Robinson brothers in 1946 and subsequently sold on eventually to the Schoyen Collection, from where it has now been acquired by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service.
Research is now required on Thomas Yardley and any potential connections with the older manorial links with Pershore Abbey and the Beauchamps, Earls of Warwick.