This is the first of the manumissions and is written in a rather spiky hand. The general format is that same for each manumission. It begins with Her kyth on thissere becc, indicating that the participant has kissed the sacred book in which the document was written to demonstrate the solemnity of their oath. It is followed by the name of the person taking the oath, Rotberd apoldraham. Then comes the expression cwaeth saccles. Now this was a bit of a mystery to me, but my trusty old Shorter Oxford tells me that the word sacless (Don't worry about divergences of spelling.) is derived from sac as in sac and soke and all those other alliterative pairs of words in late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman documents, and which refer to feudal obligation. So I guess this means makes sacless, or renders free of feudal onligation. Then there is another name, in this case Willelm his brother. Did people in the 12th century keep their brothers in serfdom? I guess it must have happened.
This is followed by a long list of witnesses. Look for the word iwitnis in the third line. Note also that the first witness is a priest. The small superscript words over the names seem to be identifiers for the various Willelms, Algers, Rotberds and Ricards who were present, presumably identifying them by their trade or profession, or where they lived, or some other social identifier. This document contains a good selection of 12th century Christian names. Surnames did not abound at this time, unless you were a baron or earl. It is noteworthy that the longest segment of the document is the list of witnesses, indicating that the process of witnessed oral testimony is, at this time, more important than the document which records it.
It finshes with the announcement that if anyone attempts to undo this deed, they will be subject to God's curse, and then there is a reference to Saint Mary and Christ's goodness forever, and a final Amen.
more text
Manumissions of Serfs, 12th century (Exeter. Chapter Library, No.3501). (From The New Palaeographical Society 1903)

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