Tithing - Encyclopedia




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TITHING (for tithe, tenth; Lat. decuma), formerly a unit of local administration in England. In some districts the men who were bound to be in frankpledge were grouped in associations of ten, twelve or more individuals called tithings. When a person who was accused of any crime was not forthcoming, inquiry was made whether he was in frankpledge; if he were not, and had no right of exemption, the township was amerced, but if he were in a tithing,-then it was upon the tithing that the amercement fell. South of the Thames the tithings were districts normally identical with the township which discharged the duties of the frankpledge. Some townships, however, contained more than one tithing. There are also indications that in the ancient kingdom of Mercia the tithing was originally a district and not a mere association of persons; but in Northumbria it is doubtful whether the system of frankpledge and tithing, either personal or territorial, was ever established. If, as seems likely, the territorial tithing is older than the personal, each territorial hundred (q.v.) was probably divided into ten tithings.

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