Posts Tagged ‘Bukerel’

Andrew Bukerel’s fine – a note from Ian Stone

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Ian Stone is a research student at King’s College London, working on producing a critical edition of the Liber de Antiquis Legibus, a thirteenth century manuscript written and compiled in London. Ian writes about a discovery in the fine rolls:

As an undergraduate interested in medieval London, I recall reading Gwyn Williams’s study of the capital in the `long thirteenth century`.  I was mesmerised.  Since then, many of Williams’s conclusions have been challenged, but that should not detract from the quality of his writing.  Above all, he had an ability to bring the energy and drive of London in the thirteenth century to the page.  Simply put, it made me want to know more.

So it was that, whilst studying for my MA, I decided to research one of the most prominent families in his work: the Bukerels of London, after whom the road Bucklersbury in the City of London takes its name.  Like any good student of the thirteenth century, my research began with the records – and of course, the Fine Rolls of Henry III are now the most accessible of all of those records.  As one would expect, a family which provided London with at least six sheriffs, five aldermen, two royal chamberlains and one mayor frequently appears in the chancery records.  One of the most enigmatic entries was that to be found on the Fine Roll in November 1221 relating to Andrew Bukerel.  Andrew was the eldest son of Andrew and Idonea Bukerel.  By 1220 he was Henry III’s royal chamberlain in London, responsible for supplying the court with wine, spices, wax and other luxury items.  So close in fact were his links to the court, that he’d actually helped to cover the costs of Henry’s second coronation at Westminster.

In November 1221, we learn that Andrew had fined 4,000 marks with the king, and that his pledges included several noteworthy people, perhaps most interestingly, Hubert de Burgh, the justiciar and effectively regent of the kingdom.  We are not told what this enormous fine was for; it took some further enquiry for me to learn that it was to hold more office – this time as Warden of the Exchanges at London and Canterbury for three years.  This lucrative role would have placed Andrew in charge of the exchange of all the silver coming into the country at these two places.  No wonder the fine was so great.

What this entry on the Fine Roll did show, however, was the company that Andrew was keeping.  Aside from Hubert, his other pledges are five leading citizens of London, including his brother, and later heir, Thomas.  What is clear, then, from this entry is that already by 1221 Andrew was extremely well connected in London.  This must have helped his later career.  He was an alderman of Cripplegate Ward in London.  He was later to serve as sheriff for two years, and mayor for almost six years.  Only three men have ever served as mayor, consecutively, for a longer period.  What we can see in 1221 is that these bonds of connection between leading citizens in London were already formed, and working in one of their interests.

What it further shows is just how close Andrew was to the real power at court, Hubert de Burgh.  This fine was subsequently cancelled, for which no reason was ever given.  One is given to wonder what role Hubert might have really been playing in all this.  Did he cancel the fine, in return for some of the profits of the exchanges of which Andrew was master?  This sort of shady deal would, of course, be one that would be kept hidden from the records.  Every trace of this fine could, however, not be removed from view, and in this one brief entry, there is much to provoke further historical enquiry.