Sunday 21 September 1264: fines and earls

At this time, for the most part the fine rolls record little except a series of payments for judicial writs, or for having an assize taken by a particular justice. On 18 September, there were two less common payments.

Thomas de Craven offered 5 marks not to be placed on assizes. Such fines were common in the 1250s, when Henry III had a deliberate policy of raising money by selling respites from knighthood, and exemptions from the burdensome obligations of serving on juries and inquests. The reformers of 1258 had objected to this practice, as it led to a shortage of qualified personnel in local administration. The sale of exemptions was then greatly reduced – there were none in 1258-59. Scott Waugh thought there were also none in 1263-64 (‘Reluctant knights and jurors’, Speculum, 58, (1983), table 2), but it would seem that the baronial government made at least one exception to the reformers’ usual policy. (CFR 1263-64, 195).

A plaque showing the arms of Roger de Quincy, in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey.

A thirteenth-century plaque showing the arms of Roger de Quincy, in the south choir aisle of Westminster Abbey.

The other unusual fine was from the executors of Roger de Quincy, earl of Winchester, who had died on 25 April. They had found pledges for the payment of the earl’s debts to the king. This would allow them to proceed with the distribution of his estates. The close rolls include an extent of de Quincy’s estates, valuing them at £385 a year, and instructions to provide dower of one-third of this amount for his widow Eleanor. De Quincy also had extensive estates in Scotland (he was constable of Scotland), but had not been particularly wealthy, as earls go, compared to incomes of £2,000 for Simon de Montfort, £2,500 for Roger Bigod, or £3,700 for Gilbert de Clare. (CFR 1263-64, 193; Close Rolls 1261-64, 407-8; Morris, The Bigod Earls of Norfolk, 70; R.D. Oram, ‘Quincy, Roger de’, ODNB) De Quincy had three daughters from his first marriage, but no sons, so the earldom lapsed. His oldest daughter, Margaret, had married William de Ferrers, earl of Derby, who had died in 1254. She was Ferrers’ second wife. The widow Eleanor was de Quincy’s third wife. She was William de Ferrers’ daughter by his first marriage. Margaret had thus been step-mother to her own future step-mother.

The defence of the coast was being maintained by the fleet at Sandwich, which needed provisions of grain and wine. Royal officials were ordered to take 300 quarters of wheat from nearby towns; it would be paid for in October. (Foedera, I, I, 447; CPR 1258-66, 349)

Some less serious matters also occupied the government this week. The king was making preparations for his annual celebration of the feast of St Edward (13 October), and ordered his goldsmith, William of Gloucester, to provide gold for the completion of the paintings in his chamber. (Close Rolls 1261-64, 366)

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