Inquisitiones post mortem: Introduction

Pages 261-263

Cardiff Records: Volume 1. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1898.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


In this section


Inquisitiones post mortem.

Records of this class are not inferior in importance and interest to the Ministers' Accounts. They are returns made to the Crown, on the death of a landholder, of the nature, extent and value of the deceased's possessions, based upon a judicial enquiry and certified by the oath of a local jury. These Inquisitions, or Inquests, supplement the Ministers' Accounts, and form with the latter a mine of information on the feudal history of Cardiff.

The first two Inquisitions before us relate to the possessions of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, Lord of Glamorgan and Morganwg, who died seised of immense estates in various parts of the kingdom, leaving as his heir a boy four years old. During young Gilbert's long minority his estates were administered by custodians appointed by the King, whose ward the heir was until he came of age.

The Inquisition of 1296 contains an early reference to the fee farm rent yearly paid by the burgesses of Cardiff to the lord. It calls this "the toll of the burgh and of the fairs," and the amount is stated to be a hundred shillings. In somewhat later times the sum was £5 13s. 4½d. (as at the present day), and documents of subsequent date explain that it was paid by the burgesses as a recognition of their municipal liberties and privileges.

In the Inquisition of 1307, the toll of the burgh is stated at 105s. and is called "the toll of the markets by sea and land." This document mentions in detail the three free tenements "of ancient feoffment by charter," in the town of Cardiff, the rent of each of which was one pound of cummin at Michaelmas. Attention is specially invited to the important schedule of knights' fees in the County of Glamorgan. This portion of the document is very faint in the original, and its accurate transcription has been a work of difficulty. Note herein the 63 Welshmen of the tribe-land of Kybur, whose only feudal service to their Anglo-Norman conquerors was suit of court to the County— probably a legal fiction, moreover. I have thought well to take down incidentally so interesting an item as that relating to the coal-mine at Cefn Carnau ("Keuenkarn"), though it does not strictly fall within our limits.

In 1314 the jurors find that the Lord was seized of Glamorgan by the title of ancient conquest, and that Cardiff is the capital town of that lordship. Very important is their finding, that each of the "members" of the County possessed "royal liberty by itself." This seems to imply that each was a Lordship Marcher. In this Inquest the hundred shillings is said to be for the tolls of the market and fairs, and we learn that the odd 5s. of the last Inquisition was for the tolls of timber sold in the port of Cardiff. Under the heading "County of Glamorgan," note the ward-silver payable by the lords of the principal manors towards the garrisoning of Cardiff Castle. Here again is an interesting list of knight's fees, which in this record also is very indistinct. The jurors for Miscyn and Glynrhoddni are all Welshmen.

The Inquisition of 1349 is on the death of Hugh le Despenser. The 100s. is expressed to be for the toll of the vill and of the seas. Griffithmoor is referred to as a messuage in the lordship of Whitchurch; and Whitchurch Castle, with its moat and its barton, is included in the Extent of the "Manor of Whit-Minster." Not long after this, the said castle fell into utter and final decay.

In the next Inquisition, that of 1440, on the death of Isabel, Countess of Warwick, Griffithmoor is accounted a manor of itself, with 300 acres of land, between Cardiff and the Severn, bounded on the west by the river Taff and on the east by the Splot. It would thus seem to be the site of the present Cardiff Docks. This Inquest, which was taken at Gloucester, to a great extent follows the last.

For the year 1446 we have an Inquisition, also taken at Gloucester, on the death of Henry de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, which in its particulars follows the last two; but it mentions John Nanfan, who held the important offices of Chancellor and Constable of Cardiff Castle, and Receivor for Glamorgan and Morganwg.

The Inquisition of 1595 is on the death of Thomas Lewis of the Van, esquire. The Van is an ancient mansion, in the lordship of Caerphilly and parish of Bedwas, called after a peaked hill (Y Fan) close by it. Lewis of the Van was a descendant of Ifor Bach, and ancestor to the Earls of Plymouth and Barons Windsor. The Abbot of Margam's grange near Cardiff had come into the possession of this family, together with other Church lands.

In 1601 we have an Inquisition on the death of Henry, Earl of Pembroke (son of the original Crown grantee), preceded by the Queen's Writ commanding the same to be held. The Inquisition is in very bad condition, and in part illegible. It begins with an enumeration of the late Earl's estates in Wiltshire and other English counties, and gives the list of his possessions in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire. It then cites the marriage settlement of his Countess, Mary, daughter of Sir Henry Sydney, who received for her dower and jointure the "Borough, Town and Castle of Cardiff," etc. This document mentions the Manor of Spittle, which was situate at Crockherbtown, Cardiff.