Posts Tagged ‘Guildford Castle’

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 18 November to Saturday 25 November 1257 (and a contribution by Dr Richard Cassidy)

Monday, November 26th, 2012

King Henry spent all this week at Guildford castle. There was no great press of business and he  had time to plan  extensive improvements  to what had become one of his favourite residences.  On 25 November he ordered the sheriff of Surrey to carry out a whole series of works, works which, as he said,  he  had explained in more detail to ‘Master John the mason’. The John here was of Beverley who was also the master mason at Westminster abbey. We can imagine the two men walking over the castle together and discussing what needed to be done.


The works commissioned were as follows:


A door and a fireplace.


A saucer and a larder under one roof


A building to store brushwood.


The paving of the chapels and chambers of king and queen.


A stable between the hall and kitchen.


The blocking of the outer and inner doors of the chamber under the gallery and the making of a new door to enter it under the gallery from the wardrobe.


A small building for  warming the queen’s food.


A passage from the chamber of Edward, the king’s son, to the kitchens and another from the chaplains’ chamber to the kitchens.


Repair of the almonry.


One notes, of course, Henry’s concern for Queen Eleanor and Edward and his son and heir.


In terms of fine roll business, one item this week (no.80 in the translation) shows Henry carefully establishing the status of an heiress’s inheritance so that (although this is not stated explicitly) he  could observe the stipulations of Magna Carta. The Charter had laid down that  the ‘relief’  (that is inheritance tax) for anyone entering a barony should be £100 whereas that for a knight’s fee should only be £5.  On 21 November Henry took the homage of Thomas of Aldham. Thomas had married an heiress, Isabella, but the nature of her inheritance was unclear. Henry, therefore, ordered the exchequer to inquire, by examining its rolls, whether the inheritance  was held by barony or by knight service.  The exchequer was then to levy a relief accordingly.


Richard Cassidy writes:


The names of Thomas of Aldham and Isabella should have rung a bell with the Chancery clerks. Only a few years before, they had featured in the fine rolls and the close rolls: Isabella’s first husband was Ralph de Haya, who died in 1254; early in 1255, Isabella had married Thomas without licence, despite having taken an oath not to marry without the king’s consent, and the lands of both Isabella and Thomas were taken into the king’s hand (Close Rolls 1254-56, 40). In April 1255, Isabella fined 200 marks for licence to marry whomever she chose. The fine was assigned to Geoffrey de Lusignan, and when Isabella paid the first instalment, the sheriffs of Sussex, Lincolnshire, Somerset and Kent were ordered to restore Thomas and Isabella’s lands. Thomas and Isabella had paid the full fine by January 1256 (CFR 1254-55, no. 332; Close Rolls 1254-56, 67-8, 263).


The clerks could also have checked the inquisitions post mortem. The query in 1257 concerned lands which Isabella had inherited from her sister Margery, who had been married to William of Etchingham. William had died in 1253, and the inquisition then recorded that William held half the manor of Chiselborough, near Yeovil. He held this half as part of Margery’s inheritance, and it was held of the king in chief by barony. The other half of the manor was held by Ralph de Haya, by reason of his wife, Isabella (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, I, no. 287). So the inquisition showed that the sisters shared a manor held as a barony. After Margery’s death Isabella was to hold the whole manor (among many other properties).


Margery’s executors, Robert le Poher and Osbert Huse, were given administration of her estate, and undertook to pay her debts to the king (E 368/33 m. 5d). The fine roll records that the sheriff and escheator of Somerset were ordered to give Thomas and Isabella full seisin of Margery’s lands. They seem to have exceeded their orders, by ejecting Robert le Poher from land in Chiselborough with which Margery had enfeoffed him (Close Rolls 1256-59, 213-4).


In the long run, Thomas and Isabella’s status as holders of a barony must have become plain. When Thomas died in 1275, the inquisition noted that he had held Chiselborough through Isabella, as her inheritance, and that she now held it of the king in chief by barony (Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, II, no. 193).

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 15 January to Saturday 21 January 1257

Friday, January 20th, 2012

We saw in the last blog the major items on Henry III’s political agenda in 1257: the Sicilian affair, the peace with France, and the rising power of Llywelyn ap Gruffud in Wales.  All of these posed problems, but  Henry had  one reason to look forward with confidence. The balance of power in Europe was about to be transformed in his favour, or so he might hope. Just after a Christmas 1256, in ceremony before Henry and his council in St Stephen’s chapel in Westminster palace, during a great storm of thunder and lightening,  his brother, Richard of Cornwall, had accepted  election  as king of the Romans. He was now busy preparing his departure for Germany where he would be crowned.

During this week, which Henry spent at Westminster,  there was more good news.  On 18 January the abbot of Westminster and the bishop elect of Salisbury got back to England with news that the pope was prepared to extend the deadline of the Sicilian enterprise.  Under the original agreement  in which the kingdom was conferred on Edmund, his second son, Henry had been obliged to pay the pope £90,000 and send an army to Sicily to conquer the kingdom by Michaelmas 1256, which, of course, was  long gone.  Henry now learnt that the pope had graciously extended the deadline down to the start of June 1257.  There was no chance of Henry actually paying the money and sending an army within that term either, but at least he might be able to show he meant business. That above all meant getting a tax to support the enterprise from parliament.  The planning of a parliament must have now become a subject of earnest discussion between Henry and his advisers.

Meanwhile the fine rolls show that the attempt to build up a gold treasure to pay a Sicilian army was continuing. There were twelve fines of gold in this week, of which eight were for respite of knighthood.  Following on from last week’s discussion of the gold treasure, it might be worth explaining the form of these fines. Let us take as an example that translated as no 358 in the Calendar of Fine Rolls 1257  Its image is six items from the bottom in, with the marginal annotation ‘De fine auri pro respect milicie’. Here the Yorkshire knight, Robert de Etton’ (probably of Etton in the East Riding) is said to give the king half a mark of gold for respite from his  knighthood, which means that he has an exemption  from having to take up the honour.  Although the fine says he ‘gives’ the gold, in fact he  is not paying cash down. Instead as the fine goes on to indicate, he is to pay the gold into the wardrobe at the coming Michaelmas.  The ‘order to the sheriff of Yorkshire’ referred to is an order to the sheriff  to take security for this payment. In fact, as the entry goes on to indicate in a later addition (note the change of ink), Robert  paid the gold to the then keeper of the wardrobe, Peter des Rivaux, on Friday after Ash Wednesday in the regnal year 42, that is on 8 February 1258, so he missed his stipulated term.  Note ‘a’ to the translation adds that ‘This entry is not in the originalia roll’. The originalia roll was the copy of the fine roll sent the exchequer so it knew what monies to collect. The absence of the fine, like all fines of gold,  from the originalia roll thus meant that the exchequer had nothing to do with the collection and audit of the gold treasure, which was entirely a wardrobe affair.  Hence the record that the fine has been paid and that Robert is ‘quit’  is made here on the fine roll not on the exchequer’s pipe roll.  Unfortunately, like most of its kind, the fine does not indicate in what form the gold came.

The fine rolls for this week also reveal another way in which the king was accumulating his gold treasure.  This was from the towns who were offering  gold, or silver to buy gold, in return for charters giving them various privileges. Thus on  21 January the citizens of Northampton offered 100 marks of silver to buy gold for a charter of liberties, while in an undated entry, the men of Guildford offered one and a half marks of gold for a charter which established moved the county court of Surrey  to Guildford. This caused great anger locally since it meant moving the county court from the much more central Leatherhead.

Does anyway know whether these charters survive?  If the Guildford one does, it will clear up a mystery over its date. Although the fine for it appears in this week, and the actual charter is enrolled with others for January and has much the same witnesses, the charter roll calendar says it bears the date 7 September. An image of Guildford castle, much visited by Henry III, appears on the Guildford Borough website.

The witnesses to the Northampton charter, which is dated 18 January although the fine is three days later, show who was at court in this week. The list is  headed by the king’s Poitevin half brothers, Guy de Lusignan and William de Valence. Peter of Savoy, the queen’s uncle, does not feature, although he was at court around this time.  Henry’s generosity  to his foreign relatives is very clear.  On Friday, 20 January,  he confirmed an earlier gift  to Peter of Savoy  which meant  he was pardoned  the £625 he owed  each year for custody of the Vescy lands during the minority of the heir, a very major concession.   On the same day Henry took steps to give Guy de Lusignan 200 marks, and also compensated one of his clerks for giving way to the queen’s request to surrender a wardship. This was  so that it could be given to her daughter the queen of Scotland. The tensions between the Savoyards and the Lusignans in this scramble for patronage were to explode in 1258.