In the late tenth century, the crown granted an estate of 22 hides to Abingdon abbey. This estate was Burbage, and it was formerly part of Bedwyn. It was reclaimed by King Æthelred the Unready [978 - 1016], but was never again merged with the Bedwyn estate. Between 978 and 1066, the crown created four manors from the former Abingdon Abbey estate. This division occurred after the creation of an open field system, for these estates shared land across established communal fields.
During the reign of King Henry VIII, there were still four manors in Burbage. Three of these manors were known as Burbage Esturmy, Burbage Savage, and Burbage Darrells. However, only the first of these estates was recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086. In a brief period of 500 years, the land of the manors of Burbage were continuously horse traded, until all of the estates ended up in the hands of the acquisitive and ambitious Sir Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and his descendants.
Mottisfont Priory A moiety, or part, of one estate was granted to Mottisfont priory in Hampshire. This estate, with additional land at Marten and Wilton, was administered from a moated mansion at Stibb Green for nearly 300 years. After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1536, the estate passed into the hands of Sir William Sandys, Lord Sandys. A frustrated and acquisitive Edward Seymour, Earl of Hertford, and heir of the Duke of Somerset, failed to purchase the land until the end of the Tudor period.
Burbage Esturmy manor This estate was the traditional home of the mediaeval wardens of Savernake forest. The location of the manor house is unknown, but it is believed to have been at Westcourt. While Morleigh (Leigh Hill) provided the setting for forest courts, Burbage Esturmy was probably the administrative heart of the forest. In the late twelfth century, the wardens succeeded in assarting large areas of land in Durley. The increased wealth of the estate, combined with the fortuitous marriage of Sir Geoffrey Esturmy [d1245] through which he acquired several Hampshire estates, enabled the Esturmies to endow neighbouring Easton Priory.
Burbage Savage manor The complex story of this estate is one of repeated subdivision of land. By the end of the thirteenth century, there were two manors, both called Burbage Savage manor. One of these estates belonged to the lords of Wexcombe manor throughout the mediaeval period. In the Tudor period, this estate was held by Sir William Darrell of Littlecote. Although his tenure was brief, the name persisted for several hundred years in Burbage Darrells manor.
The Somerset connection The last of the Esturmy wardens, Sir William Esturmy, died in 1427. The office of warden passed to his grandson, John Seymour, the son of Maud Esturmy and Roger Seymour of Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset. Roger Seymour was one of several west country men with local interests. The Mohun lords of Dunster castle held estates in Burbage until the family failed in the male line during the fourteenth century. Lesser known men such as John de Walton also held land in Burbage. Finally Sir William Esturmy and his grandson, John Seymour, married west country women. When Sir Edward Seymour was created Duke of Somerset in 1547, his choice of title was of little surprise.