Meditations on the Historical Production of Spaces

English Eel-Rents: 10th-17th Centuries

The English paid large numbers of eels in rent, and the data here is broken down by century. Combined, the extant eel rents in the archives show the following:

Century(s) Number of Extant Rental Agreements Number of Eels Due
10th-11th 221 539,785
12th 49 60,052
13th 37 437,426
14th 32 33,997
15th-17th 12 13,119

It is important to note here that the division by century is somewhat arbitrary, and that the mapped eel-rents in a given century do not reflect all extant rents at the time. What are mapped here are places where eel-rents appear in the historical record in some capacity. But active eel-rents often go centuries between archival mentions; they most often only appear when they were created, when they were ended, or when there was a problem. Some rents only appear when they are cancelled; a lack of archival record does not indicate, by itself, that a rent did not exist or was inactive.

Interactive Map

This is a map of recorded English eel-rents and payments from the late 10th century through the 17th century.  Much of the Domesday-era data is taken from the data collected by Professor J.J.N. Palmer and George Slater, University of Hull, and made public through the the Hull Domesday Project.

Any eel-rent noted as having one eel due represent a place where the record is unclear about the number of eels due (such as the rent due for the mill at Wolvey in 1251, which called for the mill to pay 1/2 of all the fish and eels caught there to Ivo de Dene). In each of these cases, the actual number of eels due almost certainly exceeded one.

Hovering over any single location will provide you with basic information about the eel-rents from that place.  Clicking on a location will call up a more thorough account, including notes and citation information.  You can toggle centuries on and off through the menu at the side.

If you have trouble with the imbedded map, you can find a larger, non-imbedded version here.

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