gersum

1) A gersum was a premium or fine, paid by a tenant to his landlord when he entered on his holding.

A set of vessels for table use, typically of pewter. A complete set was for twelve people. In fact, in 1593, such a payment was called ‘an encomin or girsom, but this was a comparatively late reference in Swaledale. In an undated thirteenth-century charter, probably pre-1279, Thomas, son of Ralph, made a payment in gersuma for land in Hallamshire

an account roll for Whitby Abbey in 1394-5 contains a list of the ‘firma’ or farms and that is followed by another list of about thirty payments under the heading Gersummć. Gressome was the usual spelling in the northern counties: In 1509, the tenant of land at Halton Gill was required, on surrendering his lease, to let it to one of his sons who would then ‘agree with the abbey and convent for his gressome’. Like ‘garsom’ the word was often linked directly with ‘fine’: 1572 money in the name of a fine or gressome, Salendine Nook. In 1651, in a case relating to the lordship of Tong manor it was asked what sums of money the defendant had received for fines and gressomes upon the demiseing of the landes. The variant 'garsom' was possibly regional and occurs regularly in documents of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In a dispute over land in Nidderdale, in 1521, John Pulleyn was ordered to pay suche garsome as the arbitrators agreed upon and in 1637 the inventory of the effects of Mary Knowles of Hambleton included the benefit of the garsom of two leases. Frequently, as if clerks feared that ‘garsom’ might not be understood, it is linked with ‘fine’, or with the less usual ‘foregift’. In 1551, an incoming Thurstonland tenant paid Ł5 5s in the name of a garsom or fyne. In a case in c.1570 a landlord noted that he had amendyd the rentes … of such as had rather soote [suit] do than pay a garsom , a context which suggests that this customary payment was unpopular and that tenants preferred to pay an increased rent. That would help to explain the word’s eventual decline.

spellings garsom grassom gressome girsom
dates 1279 1394-1395 1509 1521 1551 1570 1572 1593 1637 1651

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Photo by Kreuzschnabel CC BY-SA 3.0