Cardiff Records: Volume 3. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1901.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
ENDLESS new legal questions having arisen through the confiscation of Church lands by King Henry the Eighth, the Court of Augmentation of the Revenues of the Crown was established, to deal with such matters. The proceedings of this tribunal are often of great value in elucidating local history, especially in regard to the devolution of property which had belonged to religious foundations. The following is a selection of such documents as relate to Cardiff. The originals are undated, for the most part, but are all of the period between 1540 and 1553.
The first is a complaint by John Lambert, an influential burgess of Cardiff. He holds for life, by Copy of Court Roll, a tenement called "Crosse byghan" (Crwys Bychan), parcel of the Manor of the Grange (Cathays) belonging to Margam Abbey. Morgan Hywel Fychan and Richard Hawkyn, of Cardiff, have trespassed on those premises and committed damage. He prays redress.
In the second case John White, of Cardiff, is Complainant. The King has demised to him the house late of the Grey Friars of Cardiff, with the lands belonging to the same. John Norrys, Llewelyn ap Morgan, William Giles and John Welym have trespassed on those premises and taken away the stones, timber, windows and tiles. Moreover the same offenders, being "wild and misruled persons," daily threaten Petitioner. He prays redress.
John Noris answers: Last Michaelmas he bought an old ruinous house, which formerly belonged to the Grey Friars, from Felice William; whose late husband, Dafydd ap Ieuan, had purchased the same (with other property of the Friars) from the King's Commissioners at the Dissolution, for 16l 18s. 10d. As the house was not good enough to keep, Defendant carried away timber and tilestones therefrom, as lawfully he might.
Complainant replies: The Court of Augmentation granted a lease of the said site to him, together with a garden, three chambers, a kitchen, a stable, a barn etc., and fields called Cow Close and Great Friars' Close. He denies Defendant's statements.
The next case is that of Lewis Johns, clerk. It looks like a futile attempt by the Dominicans to retain control of their property through the medium of a trustee. Robert Miles, late Master and Provincial of the Black Friars of Cardiff, demised to him for life a house which the friars called their Frater, with a garden thereto belonging. John Lambert, capper, and Jane Lycheffelde, widow, both of Cardiff, since the Friary was dissolved have pulled down the walls, windows and timber of the said Frater. He prays redress.
Defendants answer, that if any such lease was granted to Complainant by the late Provincial as alleged, it was void in law. The King's Commissioners appointed one Lewis Blethyn to sell to the King's use all the timber, stone, glass, iron and tile upon the church, dortor (fn. 1) and cloister of the said house of Black Friars, only reserving a sufficient house for the farmer to dwell in. The said materials were accordingly sold for 10l to Thomas Lychefeld, of Cardiff, who parted with a moiety of the same to the Defendants. They have therefore only exercised a lawful right in pulling down the said walls &c.
Plaintiff replies: The Commissioners would not suffer the said house to be sold, for that, before the dissolution of the Friars, he had obtained a lawful lease thereof from the Provincial and Convent. Defendant "did spoil and pull down the greatest part of the house, and would have pulled down all, but that the Sheriff of the Shire commanded him to pull down no more till that it were tried in the Honourable Court of Augmentation."
In the next two cases, by a bit of legal fiction, the nominal Plaintiff is one of the Clerks of the Treasury. The subject-matter was two of the King's water-mills, with their houses, under Cardiff Castle, called the Castle Mills, which were demised to Thomas Lichefeld. He and his widow are both dead, and the premises are wrongfully occupied by one John Jones.
Considerable interest attaches to the Complaint of John Pyle, who for seven years had been a "singing-man within the church of Saint Mary in Cardiff." He had been wont to receive four marks a year for his services, payable out of chantry lands. At the suppression of the chantries, the Churchwardens ought to have claimed a pension for his salary. They omitted to do so, and he claims redress. It was ordered that enquiry should be made by Commission.
Next we have one of the many legal processes which arose in consequence of the suppression of Sir David Mathew's Chantry in Llandaff Cathedral, the funds and property of which were claimed by the donor's family on the ground that (as they contended) the lands which supported the chantry were not conveyed to the Church but were retained by Sir David and his descendants. (See also ante, Vol. I., p. 259.) One of the deponents, John Singer, clerk, was said to have been the chantry-priest, but denies that he was.
A matter of municipal importance is dealt with in the next document. "The Mayor, Bailiffs and Commonalty of the Town of Cardiff" are the Complainants. Cardiff is heavily burdened with the cost of repairing and maintaining two great bridges over the river Taff, and with keeping in sound condition certain sea-walls and a quay. This charge has been borne by the Parishes of Saint John and Saint Mary, whose Churchwardens have defrayed the same out of the funds of their chantries. By virtue of the Statute of Chantries (1 Ed. VI.), 10l a year was allowed by the Commissioners for this purpose. The Town is now charged with the arrears of this annuity, for 3½ years, and the matter has been referred to this Court. Complainants ask that a Commission be appointed to ascertain and certify the facts.
Next follows the Writ, and then the Commissioners' Presentment, dated 26 November 1552. Among other things which appear by this Report, is the fact that there were three bridges in the western part of Cardiff, one being of stone, about eighty yards long. The water has ruined a portion of the Town Wall on the south-west. There are six gates to the town, only two of which are in good condition. But six weirs in bad repair are left, and are the sole safeguard not only of the town and the bridges, but also of Saint Mary's parish church. When it has been necessary to draw upon the funds of the chantries for these repairs, it has been the custom for the Bailiffs to discharge one, two or three chantry-priests, as necessity required.
We now have one more suit in relation to David Mathew's Chantry. Robert Jones, alias Robert Madok, priest, complains that, after having instituted him to the benefice of chantry-priest of this foundation, Miles Mathew, the patron of the same, has entered into the lands and tenements belonging thereto and taken all the profits, allowing to the Complainant only 20s. per annum and meat and drink. Yet Complainant had been duly admitted to the benefice by the President and Chapter of the Cathedral. He now claims that the said lands ought to be in the King's hands, by virtue of the late Statute for the Dissolution of Colleges, Free Chapels and Chantries.