Manor courts held by landlords for their tenants and other local people existed in their thousands across medieval England. Debate persists concerning the character of these institutions during their heyday in the decades before 1350. This article uses a new database containing hundreds of manorial personal actions – lawsuits which treated areas roughly equivalent to modern tort and contract law – to explore the work of the manor courts, and to reconstruct their development over the first century for which records of their proceedings survive. [---]