Posts Tagged ‘forests’

Sunday 30 November 1264: a change of plan

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

This week saw a change of plan, apparently related to the need to confront the growing disorder in the Marches of Wales. The king changed course, and rather than going to Northampton, he instead instead travelled from St Albans, via Dunstable, to Oxford, closer to the troubles in the west. Earls, barons and knights had been commanded to meet at Northampton on 25 November, but were now to join the king at Oxford with all speed; Hugh Despenser, the justiciar, was going to Northampton to explain the new instructions to those who turned up there as originally intended. Having reached Oxford, the king issued yet another safe conduct for the marchers such as Roger Mortimer and James of Audley to come and join him. (CPR 1258-66, 389-90)

This sudden change of direction meant that the sheriff of Oxfordshire, John de St Valery, had to make preparations for the king’s arrival, rather than going to Westminster for the audit of his accounts. The audit, to cover the Exchequer year which had ended at Michaelmas, had been scheduled for 26 November; St Valery had been sheriff, appointed by the new regime after Lewes, for the last quarter of the year. The Exchequer intended to amerce the sheriff for his failure to appear, at the standard rate of 100s. per day for the first three days and at will for any further delay. It was hardly St Valery’s fault that he was detained at Oxford, and the king instructed the barons of the Exchequer not to punish the sheriff. They were to defer the audit until 14 January. The audit kept being put back, and St Valery eventually presented his accounts for the last quarter of 1263-64 on 13 April 1265. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 4; E 368/39 m. 24, 4, 23)

Dunstable priory in 1730

Dunstable priory in 1730

While the court was on its travels, the government continued to use the resources of the royal forests as a means of rewarding the king’s servants, and supporting religious institutions. At Dunstable on 24 November, orders were sent out for two gifts from the forests. The king’s cook, Henry Wade, was given an assart in Windsor forest, for him and his heirs to cultivate in perpetuity. He was also given the timber and underwood in the assart. The Dominican friars of Dunstable were given fifteen oaks from Barnwood forest. This gift could well have reflected the personal interests of Henry III, rather than those who governed in his name. The friary at Dunstable had been set up in 1259, at the invitation of the king and queen; it was greatly resented by the existing Augustinian priory in the town, the annals of which say that the friars entered the town against the Augustinians’ will, by great effort and deceit. A few days later, the forests were used again for a royal gift, but this one surely showed the growing influence of the de Montfort family, and could hardly have been in line with Henry’s wishes: Guy de Montfort was to be given sixteen of the king’s deer from Rutland forest, in order to stock his own park. (Close Rolls 1264-68, 4-5; Ann Mon, III, 213; VCH, Bedfordshire, I)