There were three main classes of ceorl, although the dividing line between the classes was indistinct.  Third were the gebur, who were totally dependant on their lord.  The gebur's life was dominated by the labour services owed to his lord.  It is probable that the gebur class started out by giving their land to a thegn in return for protection from raiding parties.  The Thegn's Law source on the duty of a gebur:
"The gebur's duty varies; in some places they are heavy, in others moderate.  On some estates it is such that he must perform such work as he is directed for two week days each week for every week throughout the year, and three week days at harvest-time, and three from Candlemas to Easter; if he performs cartage he need not work while his horse is out.  At Michaelmas he must pay ten pence tax, and at Martinmas twenty-three sesters of barley and two hens; at Easter one young sheep or twopence.  And from Martinmas until Easter he must lie at his lord's fold as often as it is his turn.  And from the time when they first plough until Martinmas he must plough one acre each week and prepare the seed in the lord's barn himself; if he need more grass, then he is to earn it as he is allowed.  He is to plough his three acres as tribute land and sow it from his own barn.  And he is to pay his hearth penny.  And every two are to support one deer-hound.  And each tenant is to give six loaves to the swineherd when he drives his herd to the mast pasture."