The Sayles

Joseph Hunter  is credited with identifying ‘the Saylis’ as recorded in the Gest, with Sayles, a small and obscure tenancy of the late medieval manor of Pontefract, which contributed towards the feudal aid granted to Edward III in 1346-7 for the knighting of his eldest son, the Black Prince, when Richard son of Adam de Sayles paid four shillings for one tenth of a Knight’s Fee. (Great Hero, pp. 15-16) Hunter did not establish the exact whereabouts of the Sayles, not a village nor apparently even a Hamlet, but rather a land holding within the parish of Kirk Smeaton which survives almost unchanged to the present day. An ‘acre in the Sailes’ is listed in a Kirk Smeaton glebe terrier of 1688 that can be identified with a plot of land referred to as ‘Sailes Close’ in a glebe terrier in 1857.(1) With this evidence of continuity there can be little doubt that ‘the Saylis’ know to Robin Hood of the Gest is still partly preserved as ‘Sayle’s Plantation’ on the northern edge of Barnsdale and five hundred yards east of Wentbridge.(2)

There are other records such as a Close Roll entry of 1224, which tells of 36 acres of land within Sayles that was granted to the Prior of Worksop by the king, because William son of Thomas had abjured the land because of murder. (PRO, C54/3, m. 31) The holding is further confirmed in an index of charters belonging to Worksop Priory, made in 1449 by Charles Fleming, the prior at that time. (Northamptonshire Record Office, Finch-Hatton 215, p. 365b) In 1275, William de Sales held one tenth of a Knight’s Fee, from which we know that the area had given its name to a family called Sailes. (West Yorkshire Archive Service: Leeds, GC/F5/14, f. 1) Twenty two years later, an account of the Earl of Lincoln records twenty seven shillings paid for the custody of land of the heir of Sailes until his heir is of age. (Nottingham Archives, DDFJ/6/1/1, m. 10) In an account of 1325, Sailes and Richard de Sailes is mentioned, as well as a William de Sales being noted as an officer of Osgoldcross wapentake. (WYAS: Leeds, GC/F5/14, f. 19) In 1351 lands and tenements formerly held by Richard de Sailes were in the Earl of Lancaster’s hand because of the minority of Richard, son and heir, (WYAS: Leeds, GC/F5/14) and in the Poll Tax of 1379 there is a record of William and Joanna Salys, presumably descendants.(3)

Dr John Maddicott discovered a privy seal warrant of 23 June 1329 (P.R.O., C.81/163/2703) that records a robbery at ‘le Saylles‘ by two men of Doncaster and others.(4) William Felton was attacked and robbed by William Frere and others of Doncaster, the case is expanded in the Patent Rolls of Chancery and the Supreme Court, (PRO, C66/171, m. 14d.) where the assailants are named as William Frere of Doncaster, William the Taverner of Doncaster, Thomas Frere, John Frere, Nicholas of Ticdhill, Matilda of Clayton and John the Carter.(5)

1. The term ‘Glebe Terrier’ is specific to the Church of England. A terrier is a written survey, or inventory, of land (the word derives from the Latin terra, land). The Glebe is the land or other property held by the vicar for the support of himself and his church. A Glebe Terrier is a detailed list describing the church’s property in the parish – its rectory or vicarage, its fields and the church itself. (Bedfordshire County Council)

2. This paragraph contains information found in Rymes of Robyn Hood, Dobson and Taylor, p. 22.

3. From the paper Life Versus Fiction, by David Hepworth.

4. Rymes of Robyn Hood, Dobson and Taylor, n. 3, p. 24.

5. Life Versus Fiction,  David Hepworth.