Posts Tagged ‘John Sundy’

More details on John Sundy in 1261

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

More details have emerged concerning John Sundy, whose fine for harbouring outlaws in the 1261 Oxfordshire eyre had been pardoned on account of his poverty (see 4 April blog). The pleadings for Sundy’s case have survived on a plea roll in The National Archives and confirm that he had been indicted for harbouring a thief and outlaw. Sundy, moreover, had been accused of several thefts himself and had fled in advance of the itinerant justices’ arrival in Oxfordshire. He was therefore outlawed in absentia and his goods and chattels seized. Interestingly, the plea roll also reveals that rather than being a poor freeman, he was actually a person of some status in his local community, possessing lands in both Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Sundy’s moveable goods were valued at £6 2s 4d by the Oxfordshire hundred of Benson. The plea roll likewise records that he held land worth £7 3s 4d in Benson and further unspecified lands in the Berkshire hundred of Ock. Eighteen years later, the hundred rolls record that his children were possessed of fifty acres in Benson and Newnham. Sundy was protective of his position, having engaged in litigation during the 1241 eyre against the Countess of Oxford concerning common pasture in Crowmarsh Gifford. Furthermore, this same roll notes the settlement of another dispute with the Countess over the ownership of ten acres in nearby Nuffield. Interestingly, John Sundy was not the only member of his family accused of a felony during the 1261 Oxfordshire eyre: his son William had been acquitted of being both a thief and an accomplice of one. 

Posted on behalf of Dr Adrian Jobson.

Henry III Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 3 April – Saturday 9 April 1261

Monday, April 4th, 2011

In this week in 1261, Henry III remained in the Tower of London, safe from those opposing his resumption of power.  People continued to come to the Tower to obtain writs from the chancery to further their litigation according to the procedures of the common law.  Thirteen such writs were purchased in the week.  This was routine business which did not require the direct involvement of the king.  Henry, however, was involved in an act of measured compassion to a poor man, an act which shows how the poor  could gain access to him. One John Sundy had been accused before the justices in eyre in Oxfordshire of harbouring criminals. He had fled in fear and his chattels had been seized into the king’s hands. Now Henry ‘out of compassion for his poverty and wishing to do him special grace’ ordered the sheriff of Oxfordshire to restore to John his chattels, although he was to pay the king the price at which they had been valued.  The writ to the sheriff, dated [Wednesday] 6 April can be found at no.329 of our translation of the roll for 1260-1261.

More generally the week saw some relaxation in the political tension. Henry had shaken off the conciliar control imposed on him in 1258, but had yet to proclaim his wholesale rejection of the scheme of reform known as the Provisions of Oxford. Instead, earlier in March, he had  drawn up a long list of complaints about the way the council had behaved, and agreed to submit these to some form of arbitration.  In this week (as last), the justiciar imposed on Henry by  the reform regime, Hugh Despencer, was with the king in the Tower and still acknowledged as holding his office. Hugh was very close to Simon de Montfort and on 9 April, Henry allowed him  to authorise a  writ  allowing Montfort to have timber for the manor of Rodley  in Gloucesteshire.  Rodley was a property Montfort had managed to prize from the king in 1259, much to Henry’s anger. This, therefore, was a considerable favour to the man now emerging as the chief opponent of the king’s recovery of power.  We may wonder whether it was genuine act of conciliation, in the hope of some settlement, or whether Henry was just playing for time until he should receive the papal letters quashing the Provisions altogether.