The Ledger Book of Vale Royal Abbey. Originally published by Manchester Record Society, Manchester, 1914.
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Fo. 55 [continued]
Of the fealty and homage of divers persons in the lordship of Weverham.
Inquisition [fo. 38 (275)] taken at Vale Royal on Thursday next after the Assumption of the Blessed Mary in the ninth year of the reign of King Edward [21 Aug. 1281] before G. de Badelesmere, justiciar of Chester, by the oath of the men underwritten, to wit, William de Bostock, Randolph de Bertherton, John de Merbury, Hugh de Thyew, Ralph de Keleshale, Hugh de Merton, Hugh de Acton, William de Horton, Walter de Acton, Randolph de Acton, John de Coton [and] Randolph de Little Ouere, who say that Gilbert Salomon did suit to the court of Weverham, which suit has been withdrawn for two years past by Richard de Bromhale, who married the daughter and heir of the said Gilbert; and that the said Richard ought to do the same suit, unless he has some warrant, which they do not know of. In witness whereof the aforesaid twelve have affixed their seals together with the seal of the justiciar. Written on the day and in the year abovesaid. (fn. 1)
On Saturday next after the feast of St. Lambert in the 33rd year of the reign of King Edward [18 Sept. 1305] William de Mulneton did his homage and fealty to the abbot of Vale Royal, and acknowledged that he held the vill of Mulneton entirely, except the land of Richard Swaypden, by paying 13s. 3d. yearly, one customary pig, suit at the court of Weverham every fortnight, and suit to the mill of Oneston, without any other service.
On Saturday next after the feast of St. Michael in the 33rd year of the reign of King Edward [2 Oct. 1305] William son of Simon de Weverham did his homage and fealty to the abovesaid abbot, and acknowledged that he held all his land from the abbot and convent, by paying 13¾d. a year, half a customary pig, and suit to the court of Weverham every fortnight.
Be it remembered that it is found in the court-roll of Weverham, in the 14th year of the reign of King Edward, that Thomas son of Zedriche de Weverham after the death of his deceased father was challenged as to how he held his land; and he answers, saying that it is by ancient conquest from the time of William the Bastard, for a rent of 2s. by the year, and one customary pig, and by doing suit of court. And he held one acre of the gift of the lord abbot for 4d. a year; and he petitioned the bailiff that he might double his rent, and have seisin of his land. Nevertheless the bailiff, by reason of his office, took an inquisition to ascertain the truth as to what service the said land did in the time of Earl Randolph. And the jury say that [the tenant] did no other service in the said earl's time for the said oxgang, and for one assart containing 4½ selions. And afterwards the said Thomas pledged half a mark for the favour of the abbot at his coming, to have his land and to do what belongs to the said land.
On Saturday next before the feast of St. Chad in the 31st year of the reign of King Edward [23 Feb. 1302–3], Adam son of Adam the bailiff of Weverham acknowledged by his fealty and homage that he holds all his freehold (except the land which he holds from the Earl of Lincoln, and the land which he holds from the abbot and convent by charter) [as] belonging to his bailiwick, to wit, of carrying the serjeants' staff to court, and doing in the lord's court what to the court belongs: to wit, making distraints, levying advowries, carrying writs within the boundaries of Cheshire, summoning the feodaries of Weverham in time of war, and leading them to Chester bridge, and there presenting defaults, to wit, at the muster. And all the aforesaid tenements he claims to hold from the lord of Weverham by the homage and service aforesaid, and by ancient tenure without charter. Also he claims to hold a certain tenement from the said lord of Weverham by charter, as his charter witnesseth.
On Saturday (fn. 2) next after the feast of St. Edward the King in the 33rd year of the reign of King Edward  Robert le Grouynour did his homage and fealty for all the tenements of Lostoke, and acknowledged that he held the manor of Lostoke entirely from the manor of Weverham for homage and service and fealty [fo. 38d (275 d)] and suit at the court of Weverham every fortnight, and 17s. yearly to the manor of Weverham at the four terms, and two customary pigs, and four foot-men in time of war at Chester bridge over the Dee, when Weverham finds eight foot-men, and three when the manor of Weverham finds six, or two when Weverham finds four men, with the ward and relief of Lostok for all service.
On Saturday next after the feast of St. Michael the Greater (Major') in the second year of the reign of King Edward son of King Edward [5 Oct. 1308], Hugh de Dutton did his homage and fealty, and acknowledged that he holds six oxgangs of land in the manor of Dutton by doing suit to the court of Weverham at special courts; and those who are settled in the said six oxgangs make an appearance once in the year for assize broken; and if they can acquit themselves, they shall be quit; if not, they shall do it. And he holds the lordship and waste by one sore sparrow hawk or 2s. at the feast of St. John the Baptist; and the said six oxgangs shall find four foot-men in time of war in Wales, when Weverham finds eight men, and of a less number he shall find a third part [sic], going as the vill of Weverham do.
On Saturday, the vigil of St. Peter in Cathedra [21 Feb.] in the year of our Lord 1337[–8], the eleventh [twelfth] year of the reign of King Edward the third after the Conquest, Thomas de Swetenham, son of Richard of that place the younger, did his fealty to Abbot Peter in his chamber at Vale Royal, for his manor of Swetenham, in the presence of Thomas de Erdeswyke, the steward, William de Swetenham and Richard de Vernon of Watecroft', and he will give for his relief 25s., and let him have a day . . . and he did homage in the abbot's chapel that same year on Saturday next after the feast of St. John before the Latin Gate [9 May] in the presence of Walter Welsh (Walens') witness and John de Cotys and Marchys. And afterwards in the court of Weverham he acknowledged . . .
To the county [-court] of Chester on Tuesday, the morrow of All Souls, in the fourth year of the reign of King Edward son of King Edward [3 Nov. 1310], P. Typtot being then justiciar of Chester, there came James de Weverham, bailiff of the liberty of the abbot of Vale Royal, and demanded the bodies of Richard and Robert Houa to be delivered to him, to do and execute judgment of life and members upon the aforesaid Richard and Robert in the liberty of his lord. For he says that the aforesaid Richard and Robert are tenants of the aforesaid abbot in the liberty aforesaid, and that Lord Edward, late King of England, father of the now King, by his charter granted to the abbot of Vale Royal, predecessor of the now abbot, infangentheff of all and singular his tenants, amongst his other liberties etc., and he produces the aforesaid charter, which witnesseth this etc. Therefore [let] the bodies of the aforesaid Richard and Robert [be delivered] to the aforenamed James the bailiff, etc., to do and execute the judgment aforesaid in the said liberty etc., at the peril of his aforesaid lord, as behoves etc. according to the liberty granted by the charter aforesaid.
Richard son of Richard de Swettenham did his homage and fealty, and acknowledged that he held the manor of Swetenham from the manor of Weverham for the fourth part of one knight's fee, to wit, by finding two foot-men for 40 days in Wales in time of war, at the manor of Weverham, and ward and relief, and suit at the court of Weverham every fortnight, and the scutage that belongs to one fourth of a knight's fee, for all service, etc.
Be it remembered that in the year of our Lord 1318 Emma de Vernon, then prioress of the nuns of Chester, sold the hall of the rectory of Ouer to a certain man of Nantwich, and for that reason justly lost the common which she had in the groves of the abbot of Vale Royal, to wit, le Brendewode and le Wees etc.
On the feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle in the 15th year of the reign of King Edward, son of King Edward [11 June, 1322] William son of William de Stokehale did his homage and fealty to the abbot of Vale Royal, and acknowledged he holds his land, which he has, and Stokehalle from the aforesaid abbot and the convent of that place, by paying 5s. yearly at the feast of St. Michael the Greater, and one customary pig, and suit at the court of Over, and giving judgments in the same court, or making redemption at the will of the lord, and suit to the mill of Darnale.
On Saturday next before the feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle in the 17th year of the reign of King Edward, son of King Edward [9 June 1324] Peter de Thornton did . . . his fealty, and acknowledged that he held the vill of Acton from the manor of Weverham.
[Receipt for a cask of wine.]
Be it known to all men by the presents that we, Brother Peter, abbot of Vale Royal, and the convent of that place, have received from the Lord the Earl of Chester one cask of wine by the hands of Master William de Hesi[n]gton, his chamberlain of Chester, issuing from the right prise of the said Earl in the port of his city of Chester, according to the form of our charter; the which cask we acknowledge we have received, and by the presents do acquit the aforenamed Master William on his account against the said Earl and all other men whatsoever. In witness whereof we have affixed our common seal to the presents. Given at Chester on the feast of Whitsunday in the 19th year of the reign of King Edward [11 May, 1326].
Concerning the customs [fo. 39 (276)] of the manor of Dernale.
Here begin the customs of the bond-tenants of the manor of Dernale.
One is that they ought to do suit of court at the will of the lord, or of his bailiff, upon being summoned only, even during the night, and they ought all to come the next day.
And whereas some of them have been accustomed to give part of their land to their sons, so that it came about that after their death their sons have by the carelessness of the bailiffs of the place been received as holding those same lands without doing to the lord anything for their seisin in their father's time; those sons who hold land ought to do suit of court, or obtain the lord's grace to redeem the suit at the will of the lord, on account of the great loss which has by this means been suffered by the lord.
Also they all owe suit to the mill under pain of forfeiture of their grain, if they at any time withdraw suit; and every year they owe pannage for their pigs.
Also they ought to make redemption of their daughters, if they wish to marry out of the manor, at the will of the lord.
They will also give leyrwithe for their daughters, if they fall into carnal sin.
Also, when any one of them dieth, the lord shall have all the pigs of the deceased, all his goats, all his mares at grass, and his horse also, if he had one for his personal use (si habuerit domesticum), all his bees, all his bacon-pigs (bacones integras), all his cloth of wool and flax, and whatsoever can be found of gold and silver. The lord also shall have all his brass pots or pot, if he have one (but who of these bond-tenants will have a brass pot for cooking his food in ?), because at their death the lord ought to have all things of metal. Abbot John granted to them in full court that these metal goods should be divided equally between the lord and the wife of the deceased on the death of every one of them, but on condition that they should buy themselves brass pots.
Also the lord shall have the best ox for a "hereghett," and holy Church another. After this the rest of the animals ought to be divided thus, if the deceased has children, to wit, into three parts—one for the lord, one for the wife, one for the children; and if he leaves no children, they shall be divided into two parts —one for the lord and one for the wife of the deceased, equally. Also if they have corn, in grange or in field, then the wife of the deceased ought to choose her part, to wit, half the corn in the grange or the field, as she chooses. And if she choose her part in the field, then all the corn in the grange shall remain wholly to the lord; and if she choose her part in the grange, then all the corn in the fields shall remain wholly to the lord, together with his moiety and share in the granges; always provided that, wheresoever the wife shall choose her part, whether in grange or in field, the lord shall have his moiety and part, with her and against her; and all the other corn, in the place where the woman does not choose, shall remain to the lord; and if he has children, or a child, the division shall be made in the same way into three parts, to wit, among the lord, the wife of the deceased and his children; also if there are many children [their share shall be divided] among them.
Also it is not lawful for the bond-tenant to make a will, or bequeath anything, without licence of the lord of the manor.
The lord shall choose the best ox by his bailiffs, before the "hereghett" be given to the church. Then, out of the common goods of the deceased, vigils ought to be made round his body, and exequies, according as shall seem good to the lord's bailiffs and the friends of the deceased reasonable and suitable to be done; and the debts of the deceased, if he have any, ought to be paid by the view and discretion of the same people, or assignments made for payment, before the abovesaid division and sharing of the goods of the deceased is made; and then let the division be made, as is abovesaid.
And as to the sheep, let them be divided like all the other goods of the deceased which ought to be divided. But this is inserted in this place by itself, because, when the convent first came to Darnhale, the bond-tenants said that no division ought to be made of the sheep, but that all the sheep ought to remain wholly to the wife of the deceased. Which is quite false, because they always used to divide them without gainsaying it at all, until Warin le Grantuenour was bailiff of Darnhale; and while he was bailiff he was corrupted with presents, and did not exact the lord's share of all things in his time; and afterwards the bond tenants endeavoured to make this a precedent and custom, which they by no means ought to do, because they have been accustomed so to do according to the customs of this manor in the times of former lords.
Moreover, the whole land of the deceased shall be (erat) in the hands of the lord, until he who is next, that is to say, he who ought to succeed the deceased—whom, according to the custom of the neighbourhood, they call the heir—shall make such a fine with the lord as shall correspond with the value of the land and the will of the lord.
Also be it remembered that, if there is war in the neighbourhood and watches are kept at night at Chester, then they ought to keep armed watch at night round the court of Dernhale by turns, or in order, six, eight, ten, twelve, or more at a time as may be necessary, as they shall be ordered, or to redeem their watches from the lord.
Also be it known that, if any one wants to buy a hen from the lord, for a good hen he ought to pay 1d.; for a good goose 2d.; for a younger goose about Whitsuntide, 1½d.; because this is the lord's price [fo. 39d (276d)]. Also, if the lord wishes to buy corn or oats, or anything else, and they have such things to sell, it shall not be lawful to them to sell anything elsewhere, except with the lord's licence, if the lord is willing to pay them a reasonable price.
Also it is to be known that it is the custom of the manor to pay assize rents equally at the four terms of the year, to wit, at Christmas, the Annunciation of the Blessed Mary, at the feasts of St. John the Baptist and St. Michael. This is to be observed that, if halfpence or farthings are at the end of the rent of any term, which prevent the rent being paid equally at every term, then the halfpence ought to be paid in the rent of St. John the Baptist or Christmas, at the will of the lord or his bailiff.
Amercements of courts ought always to be levied within a fortnight after the holding of the court, or sooner, if the lord will; because the fortnight is here called "the lord's day" (quia quindina hic vocatur dies domini); and the lord's mercy [i.e. fine] is according to his will or the will of his bailiff, so that they can take according to the amount of the trespass and measure of the offence.
And it is to be noted that, if any of the goods of a person deceased have to be sold for payment of his debts, or on account of vigils kept round his body or expenses connected with his burial, it is not lawful for them to be sold until the lord's bailiff has refused to buy them, or has given permission for them to be sold elsewhere, etc.
They ought also to keep the lord's pigs and mares and horses of the woods (silvestres), and to be bee-keepers and parkers, and to feed the abbot's puppies (catulos).
These are the conditions (fn. 3) by reason of which the abbot of Vale Royal and the convent say that the people of Ouere are their bondsmen (neiffez).
1. First, if any woman of their condition may be married outside the manor of Ouere to any person whomsoever, or within the manor to any person of free condition she shall make (fra) redemption for her marriage at the will of the lord.
2. If any woman of their condition be pregnant (pqu) by any one, directly she be pregnant (pqu) she shall give leyrwite at the will of the lord.
3. And if any man or woman be summoned to the chapter for any sin they have committed, they must do corporal penance, and if they give nothing for release (? lelese) of this penance, they shall be punished in the court of Ouere at the will of the lord.
4. And none of their condition may work for any man within the manor or without, without special permission from the lord, but all must work for him at his will, and he will pay them for their work at his own will.
5. And if any one of their condition may hold or cultivate land outside the manor of Ouere, he must give chevage to the lord at his will.
6. And no one of their condition can advance his son to holy orders without the especial permission of the lord.
7. And the said lord may make any one of them whom he may choose his parker, and retain him in that office as long as he may think fit; and if he commit any offence in that office, he can punish him by imprisonment or by ransom at his will.
8. And if any one of their condition commit a trespass for which he ought to be amerced, the lord can amerce him at his will without any manner of assessment.
9. And if any one of them trespass against the lord or any of his people, the lord can put his body in prison, and there punish him and keep him at his will.
10. And for keeping the said prison and guarding their bodies therein one man holds his land, Badekoc.
11. And no one of their condition shall make any will nor dispose of anything, nor have or give anything of all their goods, but all their goods shall remain wholly to the lord except a penny, which is called Massepeny, and a "principal" to the parish church.
12. And if any one of their condition have foal or horse, he must not sell or give it to any one without especial permission from the lord.
13. And that they are truly bondsmen the King has fully proved by his charter, by which charter he enfeoffed the abbot and convent with the manors of Darnahale and Weuerham, with the bond-tenants and the profits thereof. And to prove that they are truly bondsmen, in the beginning, when our lord the King Edward, who is dead (whom God assoil), enfeoffed the aforesaid abbot and convent with the manor of Darnahale, the bondtenants aforesaid, on account of certain grievances which they were told the abbot made them suffer, went to complain to the King aforesaid, carrying with them their iron plough-shares; and the King said to them: "As villeins you have come, and as villeins you shall return." And after this the abbot threw them out of their houses, and took their goods and kept them in his hands [fo. 40 (277)] until they had made acknowledgment of their bondage, and done his will in all things. And touching their bond condition, Abbot Walter was impleaded concerning the same in the time of Sir William de Ormesby, justiciar of Chester [c. 1307], and they were so adjudged by inquest and by recognizance of their neighbours, and for the seisin thereof Richard de Foulushurst, then sheriff of Chester, took five [? sint] oxen to their (lour) grange of Moresbarwe.
14. And none of them may give, lease, or farm his land to his own children nor to any others, nor grant nor exchange nor sell the same, without the especial permission of the abbot; and if they do so, the abbot may take the land into his own hand, and grant it out at his will.
15. And no woman may have or claim any dower after the decease of her husband.
Of the pleas of the wood of Bradeford against Robert son of Warin Growenur [before] Richard Dammory, justice.
Be it remembered that in the 19th year of the reign of King Edward, son of King Edward [1325–6], Peter, abbot of Vale Royal, sold all the acorns coming in the wood of Bradford for 40s. to Richard son of Robert de Bulkelegh, the which Richard in the time of the acorns had 40 pigs in the wood aforesaid; all which Robert son of Warin le Growenour, forester, and Randolph de Wetenhale with him, attached, saying the wood was their common; and they forthwith broke down the hedge and ditch and fencing, and put in fifty of their pigs, all of which the abbot's servants Walter de Thame, Thomas de Wodeford and Thomas Doun, shut up in his grange of Kyntes [Knights]; wherefore the aforesaid Robert and Randolph sued forth writs for replevying their pigs, which writs were pleaded as follows:
Pleas of the county of Chester [held] on Tuesday, the feast of St. John before the Latin Gate 19 Edw. II [6 May, 1326]:
Randolph de Wetenhale, who brought a writ for replevin of cattle against Peter, abbot of Vale Royal, and others in the writ [named], did not prosecute; therefore they are in mercy, and the aforesaid abbot and the others to have return of the aforesaid cattle.
Robert son of Warin le Growenur of Bodewrth, who brought a writ for replevin of cattle against Peter, abbot of Vale Royal, and others in the writ [named], did not prosecute: therefore the abbot and the others [to go] therein without a day, and the aforesaid Robert and his sureties for the prosecution, to wit, Randolph de Wetenhale and David de Holgreue, in mercy etc. And the aforesaid abbot and the others to have return of the aforesaid cattle.
And because the aforesaid Robert in this plea acknowledged that he entered the wood of Bradford, which is in the liberty of the aforesaid abbot, contrary to the tenor of the charter of the King to the said abbot granted, which forbids any one entering his liberty under a pain of £20; therefore the aforesaid Robert was adjudged in the pain of £20 to the Earl for this trespass; concerning the which £20 he made a recognizance to the Lord the Earl of Chester in manner here below following:
Pleas of the county of Chester [held] on Tuesday next after the feast of All Saints 19 Edw. II. (fn. 4) Robert le Growenur of Buddewrth, Hugh de Dutton, Adam de Moldewrth, Thomas Danyers, David de Holgreue and Richard le Roter came into full court here, and acknowledged that they will give to the Earl of Chester £20, whereof they will pay him 10 marks at Easter next to come, and at Michaelmas next to come 10 marks, and at Christmas next to come 10 marks. And if they do not do so, they grant that the sheriff of Chester shall out of their lands and chattels cause etc.
After these things a love-day was arranged by the friends of the said Robert and Randolph with the abbot, and was held in the wood of Bradford in the presence of Sir Richard Dammory, then justiciar of Chester, William de Mobberle, Thomas de Erdeswick and John de Cotton, who were on the said abbot's part. And there the aforesaid Robert and Randolph gave pledges to the said abbot for the taking of the said pigs, and the said Robert took an oath that he knew nothing of the said pain of £20 contained in the abbot's charter at the time of the taking of the pigs, and that he had not acted out of malice against the abbot, but only for the profit of the earl, whose servant he was. And also that, at the time of the taking of the pigs, he did not know that the wood of Bradford was enclosed and deafforested. And therefore, at the request of Sir Hugh de Dutton, John de Wetenhale [and] Peter de Thornton, friends of the said Robert and Randolph, the abbot forgave them the return of the animals. And it is to be noted that the justiciar was there on this occasion as keeper (custos) of Vale Royal by precept of the King, who had directed letters to him, the tenor whereof is as follows: (Edward by the grace of God King etc.) [fo. 40d (277d)], by virtue of which precept all the dissension aforesaid was finally set at rest, because the justiciar publicly declared that he did not dare proceed further with the aforesaid plea, in face of the King's prohibition to him, etc.
[Royal alms.] (fn. 5)
Be it remembered that the justiciar of Chester shall pay the alms and fees due from the castle of Chester, as well the old as the new: to wit, to the abbot of St. Werburgh of Chester £4 which Lord Edward, King of England of famous memory, our father, granted to the abbot, to be received at our Exchequer by the hands [sic] in recompense of the tithes of the manor of Frodesham, which the same abbot of Chester used to receive, and which he remitted to the abbot of Vale Royal.
Item, to the prioress and nuns of Chester £4, 17s. which our said father granted to the said prioress and nuns in recompense of the tithes belonging to their church of Ouere, which they used to receive and which they remitted to the abbot of Vale Royal. Item 105s. 2d. which our said father in like manner granted to the said prioress and nuns to be received by the hands out of the rents of Middlewich, in recompense of the tithes of Bradeford, Luttel-Ouere, Sutton and Merton, which the same prioress and nuns used to receive, and which they remitted to the same abbot of Vale Royal. Also to the same prioress and nuns 10s., which our said father granted them, to be received by the hands of the farmer of Middlewich every year out of the same farm, in recompense of 4 acres of land with the appurtenances next Codesbach, which they surrendered into the hands of our said father.