As such, this administrative division of the estates most probably emerged at an early date long before our principal manuscript. Whilst, Gervase does not provide information on whether the wardens were monks or laymen, the Assisa Scaccarii of 1225 mentions that the four warden obedientiaries were monks. Their names were Roger de Wrinedale, Thomas de Sancto Wallerico, Richard de Berkesore, and William de Lega. Both Roger of Wrinedale and Richard of Berkesore feature by name in the treasury accounts of Canterbury. In the case of Richard of Berksore, he is mentioned from as early as 1213 till as late as 1230 within the obedientiaries section of the financial records. If we consider the notion that the monastic lifespan of a monk was around 20-years, then this would suggest that the position of warden, unlike the other obedientiaries, was a far more permanent position.
Nevertheless, the role of the warden was predominantly supervisory and administrative. They oversaw the manors as well as instructed serjeants (servientes) and reeves about the nature of the agrarian policy to be undertaken. Very rarely did they intervene on specific agricultural practices, management, or property repairs. In 1225, for example, the warden of the east Kent custody was assigned £22 9s. 8d. for ‘melicoracio maneriorum per consilium prioris et fratrum’. The most common receipt within the accounts, however, was merely the payment of the serjeants and servants. In 1220, the treasurer’s received a sum of £1 12s. ‘de custodibus maneriorum de pesepaneges’, and in the following year they received £9 3s. 10½ d. ‘de custodibus maneriorum et de Welles ad pesepaneges et ad solidatas serviencium de bracino’ which is a receipt that reoccurs each year after with only slight variations. The predominant reason for the warden’s lack of representation is that the primary part of the revenues were taken to and from the treasury by the serjeants, thus bypassing the warden. The serjeant, or servientes, was a lay official in charge of individual manors. The primary role of the serjeant was to ensure that the land was ‘to be ploughed, sown, and reaped, manured and cultivated, and all the waggons and plough cattle, together with sheep, lambs, hogs, and all other kinds of stock there to be managed and tended’ for the profit of the estate. The serjeant was typically from the peasant class and, like the warden, held office for an extended period only being removed for reasons of misconduct, incompetence, or old age. Alongside the serjeant was the reeve, known as prepositus. Whilst this position was reserved for the lower peasant class, the reeve did have the opportunity to rise in status and become assimilated with the bailiff or serjeant.
Prior to around 1157, whole manors were leased out to firmarii in return for a lump sum of money or food-rents. A great number of extant Canterbury leases from 1157-1225, apart from those in Essex and East Anglia, show that the monks changed this system and instead let out parts, or whole demesne (dominium) of a manor to the dependent tenantry. This was seemingly at a standard rate of 1s. per acre and to be held in jure hereditario or in perpetuum. This phenomenon would lay the foundations of the later period of ‘high farming’ and manorial disintegration. Both Pope Alexander in 1179 and Urban III in 1187 condemned the practice but were unable to stop the rise of fee-farms, known as feodifirmae. And both the Assisa Scaccarii of 1225 and the exchequer survey of 1211 make it clear that this rental income dominated the total income of the priory. Nevertheless, this was not the only rental income received at Canterbury from the wardens. When the estates and investments were returned, the annual receipts show that the income from housing fell within three main groups: Gabulum (or Gablum), Gauelikende, and de domibus et scoppis. The former, Gabulum, represents income from retained rents where property is sold in return for a substantial gersuma, together with annual rent. Domibus et Scoppis, on the other hand, represents another class of property (houses and shops) let to tenants. Money-rents (Gabulum) and rents from shops and houses within the treasury accounts amount to reasonably similar figures. In 1215, for example, shops and houses yielded an income of £45 19s. 1d., whilst money-rents generated £49 8s. 11d. What is particularly notable is that the money generated from money-rents remains fairly consistent from 1217 with rents ranging between £79-£84. The revenues from shops and houses, however, were far more temperamental. Although there is a trend which would indicate a steady increase, the figures themselves show that the rental income fluctuated from as low as £40 to as high as £60, which is a much larger range than the rental income from money-rents.
There is, however, a third rental income from the wardens within the accounts known as Gavelkind which illustrates the connection between Canterbury and the ancient customary laws within Kent. This form of free socage tenure and inheritance is said to have been a Saxon custom prior to 1066 before the introduction of primogeniture. Nevertheless, although the majority of England converted to the new system of inheritance, Kent was allowed to continue its use of Gavelkind in return for their submission to William the Conqueror. The holder of a gavelkind tenure could freely give, sell, or let his land to whomever within his lifetime so long as the rents and services were properly secured. Equally, he could render payments to the lord in defined monetary rent; payment of livestock, agricultural produce, or goods; or specific services, but this did not include military service. Gavelkind, however, quickly became associated with partible inheritance whereby the tenant’s lands were divided equally amongst his sons. Unlike the aforementioned housing incomes, the treasury accounts demonstrate that revenues from gavelkind were consistently between £28-£31 each year. They are seemingly the only revenue to not be affected by external events or internal circumstances. That being said, it can be strongly argued that the custody of Kent was characterised by a reliance on such rental incomes and was a ‘foreign makeshift’ and ‘manorial superstructure thrown up hastily and setting clumsily to naïve foundations.’ The result of this was a large amount of personal freedom enjoyed by the peasants of the monastic estate.