History of Moulsoe

At the time of the Roman invasion in AD43, Cæsar recorded the various tribes in Briton. Of concern to us are the two tribes which met around what is now the border between Northamptonshire and that of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire. On the Northants side were the Coritani, whilst on the other side were the Catyeuclina. This would indicate that the area in which Moulsoe now stands was probably occupied by the Catyeuclina .

Indication of a possible Romano-British settlement on the site was given when several pieces of period pottery were uncovered in 1930 during the work on Lord Carringtons family vault. More Roman pottery was found by Kenton White during work at the Rectory, and in the fields around the Church. The nearby Roman military post of Magiovinium would also indicate that Moulsoe had been used as a settlement for farming, occupied by Romanised settlers. The Hundred system which came into practise later may have been based around the Roman system of allocating land for farming. Moulsoe may also have been next to a prehistoric trackway north to south, passing up through Olney.

Moulsoe was on the edge of the Danelaw, an area stretching out from East Anglia into the East Midlands, under which the Saxon Kings acknowledged the rule of Danish Law, under the Vikings. It was around the beginning of the 10th Century that the Hundreds system came into full effect, both for justice and taxation purposes. Its history dates back further to the Saxon take-over of Britain from the Britons, and was developed over many years into a finely tuned instrument for royal taxation. Moulsoe was probably chosen for its prominent location, being visible from almost the whole hundred. Under the law, meetings would have taken place regularly to mete out justice and impose the Kings taxes. Those disobeying the ruling of the Hundred court would be outlawed.

A wooden church, or some such building, would have stood on or near the site of the present church, with a hall nearby for the Thegn and his retinue.

In the Domesday Book, recorded in 1086, the village name has various spellings. Moslai and Moleshou are predominant. One theory is that it derives from "MUL," a worthy persons name, and "HOH" denoting a spur of land, hence MUL'S HOH. There are other examples of the "MUL" name being used, such as Moulsford and Moulsham. It is possible that it has some relation to the name of King Cædwalla of Wessex's brother. Mul was burned to death in Kent, along with 12 others, in 687 . If there is a connection with Mul, then this would date the naming of the village to the middle of the 7th century. Another theory for the village name states that, “MUL is an interesting name, meaning ‘half-breed,’ suggesting Anglo-British relations. There is evidence that the element hlœw ‘(burial) mound or hill,’ was once appended to the place name, and it is possible that such a feature on the spur marked the actual meeting place [of the hundred].”

The entry for the village of Moulsoe reads;

Ricard ten de Waltio MOLESHOV.p.x hid potuit fe defd.Tra.e.VII.car.IN dnio.e una.7 VII.uilli cu IX.bord hnt.VI.car.Ibi.I.feruus.7 ptu.V.car.Silua.c.porc.Int tot ual.VI.lib. Qdo recep:c.fol.T.R.E.VIII.lib.Hoc M teneur.VIII.teigni 7 uende poteur. Vn hoz Aluiin.II.hid tenuit p uno M.7 alt Vlf ho Afgari ftalre.II.hid p uno M.7 Algar ho Eduuardi.I.hid 7 dim p uno M.Elfi.I.hid. Turchil.I.hid.Lodi.I. hid. Ofluf.I.hid.Elricus dim hid.

Richard holds Moulsoe for Walter [Giffard]. It answers for 10 hides. Land for 7 ploughs; in lordship 1. 7 villagers with 9 smallholders have 6 ploughs. 1 slave; meadow for 5 ploughs; woodland, 100 pigs. In total, value £6; when acquired 100s; before 1066 £8. Eight thanes held this manor; they could sell. One of them, Alwin, held 2 hides as one manor; the second, Ulf, Asgar the Constable's man, 2 hides as one manor Algar, Young Edward's man, 1½ hides as one manor. Elfi, 1 hide; Turchil, 1 hide; Lodi, 1 hide; Osluf 1 hide, and Elric, ½ hide.

The name of the village has been confused in the past, from the Domesday Book, with the name of the Hundred of Moulsoe. The Hundred was referred to in several ways, such as Moisselai or Muleshohes. This is a corruption of the name of the Hundred that means "Moulsoes Hill," probably being the meeting place of the Hundred.

The entry gives us some valuable information about the village and Manor. Richard, the sub-tenant, is unknown, but may be the same man as hold other manors for Walter. The 10 hides are probably an artificial fiscal device with no direct relationship to the value of the Manor, nor a direct indication of the physical size. This is best taken from the amount of land available for the ploughs. This would indicate the amount of cultivatable land to be in the region of 7 hides, or almost 850 acres. An average landholding for a villager would be in the region of 2 yardlands, or half a hide; a smallholder would have something around 5 acres. The amount of meadow is listed for grazing of the ploughteams, usually 8 oxen, which gives of upwards of 60 oxen to graze. The population of the village at the time would be approximately 80-90 people, including the slave.

The above entry is the second for the Hundred of Moulsoe. The Hundred stretched from Clystone (Clifton Reynes) in the North to Brichelle (Great Brickhill) in the south. It is bordered to the West by the Ouzel, and the North-West by the Ouse. The boundary coincides with the county boundary to the East. There are many entries for the Moulsoe Hundreds, showing that Walter Giffard owned a considerable amount of land in the area.

A hide is generally accepted to be around 120 acres. The hide was a unit used in taxation evaluation, as well as being the basis of the development of the Hundreds system, where 100 hides were collectively administered for taxation and ecclesiastical purposes.

The existence of a watermill is reported in the area, although the location is uncertain.