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pillory.' So, in the laws of Ina, 6 If a freeman work on a Sunday without his lord's orders, he shall Jose his liberty, or pay sixty shillings.” 26 That freemen were in laborious and subordinate condi. tionsis, also strongly implied by a law of Alfred,
“ These days are forgiven to all freemen excepting servants and working slaves." The days were, twelve days at Christmas, Passion week, and Easter week, and a few others. 27
An AngloSaxon, in a charter, says, with all my men, both servile and freemen.
Their state of freedom had great benefits and some inconveniences. A slave being the property of another, his master was responsible for his delinquencies ; but a freeman, not having a lord to pay for him, was obliged to be under perpetual bail * or sureties, who engaged to produce him whenever he should be accused. 29 Being of more personal consideration in society, his mulcts were proportionably greater If he stole from the king, he was obliged to pay a ninefold compensation 30; if a freeman stole from a freeman, he was to compensate threefold, and all his goods and the penalty were to go to the king. 31 The principle of greater compensation from the free than the servile pervades our ancient laws.
But the benefits of freedom are at all times incalculable, and have been happily progressive. If they had been no more than the power of changing their master at their own pleasure, as our present domestic servants do, even this was a most valuable privilege ; and this they exercised. We have 25 Leg. Wihtrædi, 11.
26 Leg. Inæ, 15. 27 Leg. Ælf. 44.
28 Thorpe, Reg. Roff. 357, 29 Leg. Ethelr. 102,
30 Leg. Ethelb. 2. 81 Ibid.
an instance of a certain huntsman mentioned, who left the lordship of his master and his land, and chose himself another lord. 32
They had many other advantages; their persons were frequently respected in their punishments; thus a theow who broke an appointed fast might be whipped, but a freeman was to pay a mulct. 33 It was no small benefit that the king was their legal lord and patron : “ If any kill a freeman, the king shall receive fifty shillings for lordship.'
Upon the same principle, if a freeman were taken with a theft in his hand, the king had a choice of the punishment to be inflicted on him; he might kill him, he might sell him over sea, or receive his wære. That they were valued and protected by our ancient legislation, is evident from the provision made for their personal liberty: whoever put a freeman into bonds was to forfeit twenty shillings.
This happy state of freedom might, however, be lost : the degradation from liberty to slavery was one of the punishments attached to the free. We have mentioned already, that one offence which incurred it was violating the Sabbath. A freeman reduced to slavery by the penalties of law was called a wite theow 37, a penal slave. Under this denomination he occurs in the laws, and is frequently mentioned in wills. Thus Wynfleda, directing the emancipation of some slaves, extends
32 MS. Charters of the late Mr. Astle, 28.
34 Ibid. p. 2.
36 Ibid. p. 3. 37 Ibid p. 22.
Hence the will of archbishop Elfric says, “ If any one according to the custom of England shall have incurred the penalty of any slavery," he ordered him to be freed. Cott. MSS. Claud. c. ix. p. 126.
the same benevolence to her wite theow, if there CHAP.
So an archbishop directs all such to be freed who in his time had been mulcted of their liberty. A freeman so reduced to slavery became again subject to corporal punishment; for it was ordered, that one who had stolen while free, might receive stripes from his prosecutor. It was also ordered, that if, while a wite theow, he stole, he was to be hanged. 40
It is well known that a large proportion of the Slaves. Anglo-Saxon population was in a state of slavery. This unfortunate class of men, who were called theow, thræl, men, and esne, are frequently mentioned in our ancient laws and charters, and are exhibited in the servile condition of being another's property, without any political existence or social consideration.
They were bought and sold with land, and were conveyed in the grants of it promiscuously with the cattle and other property upon it. Thus, in an enumeration of property on an estate, it is said there were a hundred sheep, fifty-five swine, two men, and five yoked oxen. At another time we find some land given up without injury to any thing belonging to it, whether men, cattle, or food. So one bought land for thirty pounds, and gave seven pounds more for all the things on it, as men, stock, and corn.43
In the Anglo-Saxon wills these wretched beings are given away precisely as we now dispose of our
38 Hickes, Pref. Gram.
39 MS. Claud. c. ix. p. 125. 40 Leg. Sax. 22. and p. 18. 41 3 Gale, Script. 481. 42 Heming. Chartul. p. 166.
43 3 Gale, 478.; and see the letter of Lullius, Bib. Mag. Pat. vol. xvi. p. 92.
plate, our furniture, or our money. An arcbi. shop bequeaths some land to an abbey, with ten oxen and two men.44 Ælfhelm bequeaths his chief mansion at Gyrstingthorpe, with all the property that stood thereon, both provisions and men. Wynfleda, in her will, gives to her daughter the land at Ebbelesburn, and those men, the property, and all that thereon be; afterwards she gives Eadmær as much property and as many men as to him had been bequeathed before at Hafene." 46 In another part of her will she says, “Of those theowan men at Cinnuc, she bequeaths to Eadwold, Ceolstan the son of Elstan, and the son of Effa, and Burwhyn Mærtin ; and she bequeaths to Ead. gyfi, Ælfsige the cook, and Tell the daughter of Wareburga, and Herestan and his wife, and Ecelm and his wife and their child, and Cynestan, and Wynsige, and the son of Bryhtric, and Edwyn, and the son of Bunel, and the daughter of Ælfwer.” Wulfgar in his will says, “ I give to Alfere abbot the lands at Ferscesford, with the provisions, and with the men, and with all the produce as it is cultivated.” This will contains several bequests of this sort.47
Their servile state was attended with all the horrors of slavery, descending on the posterity of the subjected individuals. A duke in Mercia added to a donation “six men, who formerly belonged to the royal villa in Berhtanwellan, with all their offspring and their family, that they may always belong to the land of the aforesaid church in per
44 MS. Cott. c. ix. p. 135. ; and see 1 Dug. M. 306.
To this gift is added the CHAP. names of the slaves. “These are the names of those men that are in this writing, with their offspring, and their family that come from them in perpetual heritage: Alhmund, Tidulf, Tidheh, Lull, Lull, Eadwulf.” 48 That whole families were in a state of slavery appears most satisfactorily from the instruments of manumission which remain to us. In them we find a man, bis wife, and their offspring, frequently redeemed together ; and in Wynfleda's will, the wives and daughters of some slaves she names are directed to be emancipated. Ethelstan, after stating that he freed Eadelın, because he had become king, adds, “and I give to the children the same benefit as I give to the father.”
Some of the prices of slaves appear in the written contracts of their purchase which have survived.
“ Here is declared in this book, that Ediwic, the widow of Sæwgels, bought Gladu at Colewin for half a pound, for the price and the toll; and Ælword, the port gerefa, took the toll; and thereto was witness Leowin, brother of Leoword, and Ælwi blaca, and Ælwin the king, and Landbiriht, and Alca, and Sæwerd ; and may he have God's curse for ever that this ever undoes. Amen."
So Egelsig bought Wynric of an abbot for an yre of gold; another was bought for three man
The tolls mentioned in some of the con
48 Heming. Chart. Whig. p. 61, 62. ; and for the next paragraphs see Hickes, Diss. Ep. p. 12., and his Preface; and Wanley's Catalogue, p. 181.
49 Hickes, Diss. p. 12. ; and App. Sax. Dict. In the act of purchase, by which Hunnifloh bought Wuisgytha, it is added, and the brown beadle took the toll.” Cott. MSS. Tib. B. 5. As specimens of prices we may add, that, Sydefleda was sold for five shillings and