Dr Matthew Tompkins

M TompkinsHonorary Fellow

Contact Details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 229 7833
  • Email: mllt1@le.ac.uk
  • Office: 001, 3 - 5 Salisbury Road


My first degree was in Law at Cambridge, after which I spent two decades as a solicitor specialising in commercial property law, ending up as a partner in Field Fisher Waterhouse in the City of London.  In 2000 I left the law and took an MA and PhD at the Centre for English Local History at Leicester.  In 2006-8 I was employed by the university of Aberystwyth as a Research Assistant on a Cambridge Group for the History of Population project.  I then decided to take a year off to look after a new baby son, a retrospectively unwise decision as soon after the recession struck and the academic job market shrank.  Three years of part-time and freelance work followed, during which I worked as a research assistant on various projects for Leicester, Southampton and Cambridge universities, taught palaeography for Leicester, and transcribed and translated medieval records for several local history societies.  I am now (from January 2013) employed full-time by the university of Winchester as a researcher on the Mapping the Medieval Countryside Project, though actually doing the work from Leicester, and continuing to be a part of Leicester’s academic community.


My research interests are late medieval English social and economic history, with particular reference to rural society, landholding and landscape, and also onomastics and palaeography.  My thesis investigated late medieval peasant society through a micro-study of the village of Great Horwood in Buckinghamshire from the thirteenth to seventeenth centuries, principally through its manorial records. It can be found at:   https://lra.le.ac.uk/handle/2381/1390

My subsequent work has been in late medieval administrative records, principally manor court rolls and other seignorial records, but also in other categories, including in particular records of royal government such as escheators’ returns and the plea rolls of the court of Common Pleas.  I am presently (2013) working on the fifteenth-century Inquisitions post Mortem.


  1. ‘‘Let’s kill all the lawyers’: did fifteenth-century peasants employ lawyers when they conveyed customary land?’, in L. Clark (ed.), The Fifteenth Century VI (Woodbridge, 2006), pp. 73-87.
  2. ‘Individualism, community and lordship: the peasant demesne lessees of Great Horwood, 1320 – 1610’, in Richard Goddard, John Langdon and Miriam Muller (eds), Survival and Discord in Medieval Society: Essays in Honour of Christopher Dyer (Turnhout, 2010).
  3. ‘Counting houses: using the housing structure of a late medieval manor to illuminate population, landholding and occupational structure’, in Sam Turner and Bob Sylvester (eds), Life in Medieval Landscapes: People and Places in Medieval England: Essays in Memory of Harold Fox (Oxford, 2011).
  4. H.S.A. Fox (edited by M. Tompkins and C. Dyer), Alluring Uplands: Transhumance and Pastoral Management on Dartmoor, 950-1550 (Exeter, 2012) – completed and edited by me after Professor Fox’s death.

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