Posts Tagged ‘Pipe Rolls’

Sunday 24 February 1264: writs and verse

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Henry III’s return to England seems somewhat muted after the successful completion, from his point of view, of the arbitration by Louis IX. Henry spent this week in Canterbury, accompanied by Hugh Bigod and Roger Leybourne, who had gone to France to urge his return. Henry’s only recorded activity consists of a few writs issued in Canterbury: an order to the authorities in Dover to obey Leybourne’s bailiff, a writ in favour of a Canterbury church, and some minor grants for the benefit of members of his entourage.  Henry had not even resumed control of the machinery of government. The clerks of the Chancery remained with earl Richard in Hereford, where they recorded writs and fines made on his authority. (CPR 1258-66, 381-2; Close Rolls 1261-64, 335; CFR 1263-64, no. 77)

Richard was a good deal closer to the significant events of this period. Confused fighting and pillaging was going on in the Welsh Marches and Midlands. Simon de Montfort’s sons Henry and Simon junior were attacking the lands of the Marcher lords, taking Thomas Corbet’s castle at Radnor and Roger Mortimer’s castle at Wigmore. (Gervase of Canterbury, II, 233) Richard was trying to provide financial support for the royalist forces, commanded by lord Edward: the city authorities in Worcester, Shrewsbury and Hereford were instructed to anticipate the next two instalments of the farm of those towns, and pay it in advance to Edward; they were to do this without fail, ‘to despatch certain most urgent business of the king, for which he is at present in great need of money.’ (CLR 1260-67, 131)

The 1264 pipe roll shows that the citizens of Worcester did indeed pay the £30 they owed for the annual farm of their town to lord Edward, for carrying out the king’s business. (E 372/108 rot 10d) Shrewsbury also provided Edward with £30, although this was not recorded until 1267.  (E 372/111 rot 6) Herefordshire accounted a year later, covering all the transactions of the past seven years – the Exchequer did its best keep track of what it was owed, even in these turbulent times – and recorded that the citizens of Hereford provided Edward with £40 for carrying out the king’s business in Wales. (E 372/112 rot 11d)

Edward was thus able to pay and provision his troops. He joined forces with Mortimer, and captured Humphrey de Bohun’s castles at Hay and Huntington. (Flores Hist, II, 486) But he was too late to prevent a remarkable coup by the baronial forces in Gloucester. The king had committed Gloucestershire to Roger de Clifford, and ordered him to hold the strategically important bridge over the Severn. His local rival, John Giffard of Brimpsfield, supported de Montfort. The English verse chronicle attributed to Robert of Gloucester gives this account, translated into modern English (or at least 19th-century English) by Joseph Stevenson (Church Historians, V, 363):

And sir Roger de Clifford kept Gloucester also,
And at each end of the town placed a good watch.
Sir John Giffard came one day, and sir John de Balun there,
Riding upon two woolpacks, merchants as if they were,
To the west gate over the bridge, and asked the porters,
To let two woolmongers bring in their merchandise.
Covered they both were with two Welsh mantles.
When the gates were undone they both hopped down
From their horses, and cast their mantles away anon,
And then they stood armed from the head to the toes.
Then were the porters sore afraid at that sight,
And threw them the keys, glad that they might. …
Then the barons had the town, and the king had the castle.

It is not often that a source for 13th-century history reads more like a ballad of the adventures of Robin Hood.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 8 July to Saturday 14 July 1257

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Henry III spent all this week at Woodstock, while his army assembled to meet him at Chester in the first week of August. Material on the fine rolls, as it did last week, illustrates the law relating to property rights in marriage. On 14 July the king made a concession in favour of the Warwickshire knight, John of Ladbroke. John had married an heiress, namely Joan, daughter of Richard de Baresworth.  Although Joan had been married before, and her inheritance would eventually pass to the children of her first marriage,  John was entitled to control that inheritance during her lifetime. What, however, would happen after her death, for she had indeed now died? Here everything depended on whether there had been offspring from the marriage. If there had not been, then Joan’s inheritance would pass at once to the offspring  her first marriage. If, however, Joan and John had produced a child, even if it was now dead, then John was entitled to keep the inheritance for his own lifetime.  In legal terminology, this was called tenure ‘by the courtesy of England’. What the entry on the fine rolls shows (no.832) is that John was indeed in this fortunate position. The only misfortune was that, having control of Joan’s inheritance, meant that he had also to shoulder the debts to the crown, which Joan had inherited from her father. These included debts owed the Jews, which had been taken into the king’s hands, and which, so John said, were to be paid off at £1 a year. John’s complaint was that the exchequer was now forcing him to pay the whole debt, and was disregarding the terms allowing payment at the rate of £1 a year. The king, therefore, ordered the exchequer to allow John to recover those terms. The king added ‘if this is true’, so the exchequer had some  leeway, but there was evidence to back up John’s story. The pipe rolls, the annual audit of money owed the crown, do show that Joan’s first husband had been allowed to pay the debt off at £1 a year. The pipe rolls for this year, that is for 1256-1257 (for the membrane, click here), by contrast,  show  John himself paying in  £1 16s 8d, in other words he was having to cough up  more than a  £1.  In the pipe roll for 1257-1258,  John does just pay in £1 so his complaint had some effect.  The debt itself was a large one, amounting to £97, which made it  important to secure terms for its repayment.

One further point of interest is that writ to the exchequer, on John’s behalf,  is said in the  fine rolls to be ‘per’, that is authorised by Laurence de Manneby.  Evidently  Laurence was John’s contact at court, and it was he who saw the concession through.  Laurence was a king’s clerk and brother and, as the fine rolls show (CFR 1255-6, no.77; 1257-8, no.997) to Hugh de Manneby, who was at this time earning an evil reputation as sheriff of Northamptonshire.  I do not know the connection between Laurence de Manneby and John of Ladbroke. Has anyone any clues here?  How did those fair in their petitions who did not have these connections?

Next week the king gets ready for his Welsh campaign.

For the membrane with  the writ in favour of John of Ladbroke, see four from bottom here.

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.

Henry III’s Fine Rolls Blog Sunday 2 October to Saturday 8 October 1261

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Henry III spent all this week at St Paul’s in London where he was almost certainly staying at the bishop’s palace.  The chaos of the time is reflected in the continuing collapse of fine roll business. Only nine writs to initiate or further common law legal actions were purchased in this week. Henry was  anxious about control of the Cinque Ports. On 4 October, he ordered the men of Winchelsea and Sandwich to have nothing to do with a meeting the king’s enemies had tried to arrange. Ostensibly this was to settle a dispute between the men. In fact, as Henry said, it was to seduce them from their allegiance. The men were also told to prevent the king’s enemies bringing foreign soldiers into the country. This was not, of course, to prevent the king doing the same.

This week did, however, bring two pieces of good news for Henry.  First, he had evidently tried to summon his supporters to London, and the result was not disappointing. The witness lists to royal charters show that with Henry at St Paul’s on 4, 5 October were Boniface archbishop of Canterbury,* the bishops of Salisbury and Norwich, Humphrey de Bohun earl of Hereford, Peter of Savoy, the marcher barons, James of Audley and Reginald fitzPeter (see the blog for 8-14 May),  Philip Basset, the justiciar,  and John Mansel. Since one charter was in favour of John de Plessis, earl of Warwick, he was probably there too.

The second piece of good news came  from the exchequer at Westminster. Henry himself had long felt that Westminster was out of bounds. With the palace there unprotected, he  feared an armed coup like that which had overturned him in 1258. But such dangers had not stopped the exchequer courageously attending to its business. Thus the  money to be raised by the fines  continued to be sent to the exchequer on the originalia rolls (the copies of the fine rolls), and we can see the exchequer setting about the business of collecting it in the annotations it made on the rolls, ‘in the roll’ meaning the debt has been put in the pipe roll: ‘s’ meaning it has been put into the ‘summonses’, the list of debts sent to the sheriffs for collection.  It was one thing to order the sheriffs to collect the debts, another for them actually to do so when their authority was being challenged by rival sheriffs set up by the insurgents. The acid test of their success was now at hand for it was at Michaelmas,  at the end of  each September, that the sheriffs were supposed to send in to the exchequer the money they had raised. What now would be the results? Henry must have wondered that more anxiously at Michaelmas 1261 than at any other time in his reign.

In the event, Henry was re-assured, at least in some measure.  He may well   have feared that nothing at all would arrive. In fact, the sheriffs and those answering separately for various towns and manors brought in  around £1580.  On the other hand, there were some black holes,  showing clearly where the king’s authority had disintegrated.  Matthias Bezill, challenged  by William de Tracy in Gloucestershire (see the blog for 24-30 July) sent nothing.  Nothing equally came from Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Wiltshire, and most worrying of all perhaps, from Kent. No wonder Henry was concerned about the Cinque  Ports. There was also very little from Essex and Hertforshire. Still the exchequer was undaunted and vigorously set about hearing the sheriff’s accounts.  Later in the year it was to bring the rival sheriffs themselves to book, getting them to answer for their ill gotten gains. The exchequer’s buoyant spirit is reflected in the elaborate ‘A’  penned by the clerk, drawing up the memoranda roll for Michaelmas 1261, in the heading ‘Still  (Adhuc)  communia for the term of St Michaelmas’. (‘Communia’ here essentially means common or general business).

Henry himself was now facing a dilemma for 13 October was coming up. This was the greatest day in his religious year,  the feast day  of his patron saint Edward the Confessor. It was a day he ALWAYS spent at Westminster amidst splendid services and joyous celebrations. Would he go there in 1261? Read next week’s blog to find out.

*An unflattering sketch of Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury appears on the 1261-2 memoranda roll.

Fine Rolls and Pipe Rolls

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Richard Cassidy writes…

I have been looking at the way in which fines make their way from the Chancery’s fine rolls, via the originalia rolls which transmit the information to the Exchequer, onto the pipe rolls. The pipe rolls are said to relate to a given Exchequer year – that is, a year ending at Michaelmas. But I have noticed that the fines recorded in the pipe rolls do not necessarily match either the Exchequer year, or the regnal year used in the fine rolls.

For example, the Staffordshire account in the 1259 pipe roll is supposed to cover two years, from 30 September 1257 to 29 September 1259. The Nova Oblata section, recording the new entries for this roll, begins with a fine made by the abbot of Burton on 28 December 1257. The rest of the Staffordshire fines follow, more or less in the order in which they appear in the fine rolls, up to the last fine for the county from the 1258-59 fine roll, made on 24 October 1259. This fine must have been included on the section of originalia roll covering the last part of the Chancery’s year 1258-59, which the Treasurer received on 25 November 1259; the summonses derived from this roll had all been sent out to the sheriffs by Christmas 1259, according to a note on the dorse of the originalia roll. In other words, the Staffordshire entries on the pipe roll include fines made after the end of the year it is meant to cover, but before the day on which the county accounts were examined by the Exchequer (9 February 1260).

This is not entirely surprising – it is fairly well known that the pipe rolls include payments made up to the date of each county’s account, after the nominal year end. What does seem odd is the pattern of fines recorded over several years for a conveniently small county, Sussex. The Sussex fines from five years’ fine rolls can nearly all be traced in the pipe rolls (about 110 out of 120). They appear in chronological order, with one pipe roll taking over from another, but with the sequence breaking at irregular intervals:

the 1254-55 pipe roll includes fines dated up to 16 June 1255;

the 1255-56 pipe roll includes fines from 2 November 1255 to 6 June 1256;

the 1256-57 pipe roll includes fines from 12 June 1256 to 14 October 1257, plus one out-of-sequence fine from 22 November 1255;

the 1257-58 pipe roll includes fines from 16 November 1257 to 20 April 1258;

the 1258-59 pipe roll includes fines from 2 June 1258 to 30 June 1259;

the 1259-60 pipe roll includes fines from 4 July 1259 onwards.

From this sample, it seems that in most years the listing of fines in the pipe roll ended with the batch of fines sent in June in an instalment of the originalia roll. This seems odd, on the face of it, and raises the question of what exactly it means to say that a pipe roll relates to a particular year, when there seems to be no clear relationship between the nominal year of the roll and the events which it covers. I would be grateful for any suggestions which might clarify this, particularly from anybody who has already undertaken the tedious task of matching up fine roll and pipe roll entries.