The Ledger Book of Vale Royal Abbey. Originally published by Manchester Record Society, Manchester, 1914.
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On Thursday next after the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, 47 Edw. III [27 Jan. 1372–3], Robert le Grosvenour in the abbey of Vale Royal came before Stephen, then abbot, Walter de Lydbury, David de Olton, William de Boydell and others, and did his homage of all his tenements of Lostok, and acknowledged that he held the manor of Lostok from the manor of Weverham entirely, for homage and suit at the court of Weverham every fortnight, and 17s. yearly, and two customary pigs, and two men in time of war at the bridge (poutto) of Chester over the Dee, when Weverham finds eight foot-men, or three when Weverham finds six, etc., with ward and relief for Lostok for all other services.
Extent [fo. 23d (260d)] of all the lands and possessions, as well spiritual as temporal, of the abbot of Vale Royal being in the county of Chester, made before Reginald le Grey by the King's command.
Extent made by the King's command at Sutton on Monday
next after the feast of St. Bartholomew [27 August] in the
year of grace 1291 and the 19th year of the reign of
King Edward, of the lands and rents and possessions, as well
spiritual as temporal, of the abbot and convent of Vale
Royal in the county of Chester, before Reginald le Grey,
then justiciar of Chester, and Adam de Wettenhall, appointed
to make that extent, by the jurors underwritten, to wit, Sir
Hugh de Dutton, Sir Patrick de Heselwell and Sir Richard
de Sandbach, knights, Hugh le Tyn, Richard de Crounach,
Richard de Croxton, Henry de Frodesham, John de Cotton,
William de Hertford, who say upon their oath that there is
in Little Overe one carucate, and it is worth 40s. by the
year; and in Twomlowe one messuage and one carucate of
land, with a small parcel of wood and pasture, worth 30s. by
the year; and in Stanhurle one messuage and 15 acres of
land, which are worth 10s. by the year; and in Moresbarwe
one messuage and 2 carucates of land, one acre of meadow,
worth £4 by the year; and in Lache one messuage and two
parts of a carucate of land, worth 30s. a year; and in Bradford
one messuage and 3 carucates of land, worth £6 by the year,
and 3 acres of meadow there, worth ½ mark, and wood worth
30s. by the year, and a fishery worth 16d. by the year; and
in Coneward[esley] 2 carucates of land worth 4 marks by
the year, and wood and pasture there worth 7s. 4d. by the
year; and in Sutton one carucate of land worth 20s. by the
year; and in Middlewich 2 saltpans worth ½ mark by the
year; and in Northwich 3 saltpans worth 2 marks by the year.
Total of the aforesaid parcels: £23 20d.
And in the manor of Gayton one messuage, 8 bovates of land, 2 acres of meadow in demesne and a fishery worth 8 marks by the year; and 16 bovates of land in villeinage worth 102s., to wit, 6s. [sic] (fn. 1) each bovate; and a free rent of 3s., and wood which is worth 8s. Total of Gayton: £11, 9s. 8d.
And in the manor of Weuerham one messuage, 2 carucates of land in demesne, worth £4 by the year, and one acre of meadow worth 40d. by the year; and 26 bovates of land in villeinage, worth £9, 12d. by the year, to wit, each bovate 7s.; and free rent of 63s. 2d.; a wood worth 2s. by the year; the pleas and perquisites 20s.; pannage 21s.; one water-mill worth 10 marks by the year. Total of Weverham: £23, 3s. 10d.
And in the manor of Darnahale one messuage and one garden, worth 13s. 4d. by the year, and 6 carucates of land in demesne, each carucate containing 30 acres, worth £10 by the year, to wit, each carucate 2½ marks; and 2 acres of meadow worth ½ mark by the year. And in Ouer one carucate of land in demesne, containing 30 acres, worth 2½ marks by the year; and 19 carucates of land in villeinage, which are held according to the greater and the less [sic], and yearly rents of £28. 5s. 10d.; and free rent of 47s.; and 3 mills worth £11, 13s. 4d. by the year, besides 20s. which the heirs of Gilbert Salo' receive every year from the mills for the tithes; and pasture worth 15s., and a park worth 100s. by the year; the pleas and perquisites of the court are worth £4. 10s.; the deaths which occur (casus mortuorum) 60s.; the fishery in the stew 10s.; pannage 40s.; the rents of the advowsons [sic] 2s.; "weyfs" 2s. Total: £72, 4s. 6d.
And in the city [fo. 24 (261)] of Chester two burgages, which are worth 4 marks by the year, and the pleas and perquisites in the same city ½ mark. Total: 4½ marks.
The church of Frodesham 70 marks.
Total of the totals: £180, 13s.
Of the sums of money anciently given to the new work, etc.
The abbot of Vale Royal shall receive yearly from the King towards the building of the abbey aforesaid 890 marks, of which he shall receive at the feast of All Saints £100, and in the first week of Lent 200 marks, and on Ascension day 200 marks, and on the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula 160 marks. Moreover the same abbot ought to receive 180 marks, to wit, at each of the said terms 45 marks; and he shall receive his first payment on Ascension day next to come; and so he shall henceforward pay him the said sums at the said terms in manner aforesaid upon a writ of payment, in the name of Master William de Luda; and thereof he received on the feast of All Saints £100 from the wardrobe, and £100 after Christmas; and so there was wanting at the term of All Saints 45 marks, and at the term of the first week in Lent 95 marks, which he shall receive from the Exchequer.
In the parliament of the Lord the King at Acton Burnell it was ordained that the abbot of Vale Royal should receive from the wardrobe for the works of his abbey every year between the feasts of St. Michael and Christmas £100, and between Christmas and Easter 200 marks; between Easter and the feast of Saint John the Baptist 200 marks; between that feast and Michaelmas 160 marks; and in addition to this, out of the issues of the county of Chester, by the hands of the justiciar there, 790 marks. And in the whole he shall receive for the said works £1000 yearly.
To the abbot of Vale Royal for the works of his church at
the term of All Saints at the end of the 11th year £100.
To the same abbot for the same purpose for the 12th year, as well out of the Exchequer by Mark de Luca (sic) as out of the wardrobe— £526. one mark.
To the same abbot in the 13th year by the same hands— £300.
To the same abbot in the 14th year by the same hands— £723. ½ mark.
To the same abbot in the 15th year by the hands of merchants and from the Exchequer— £363. ½ mark.
To the same abbot in the 16th year from the Exchequer and by merchants— £516. 1 mark.
To the same abbot in the 17th year from the Exchequer and by merchants— £570.
To the same abbot in the 18th year from the Exchequer only upon writs for payment to [?] Master William de Lud'— £260.
To the same abbot in the same year upon the last writ for payment— £100.
Item, Master William de Lud' paid to the archdeacon of
York for the first fruits of the church of Kirkeham on behalf of
the same abbot— 100 marks.
Be it remembered that the King paid, by the account of his treasurer, for the new work of Vale Royal £32,000 sterling.
Statute of the Lord the illustrious Prince the Lord Edward the King, published in the 33rd year of his reign on behalf of religious men, that they may not be imposed upon by their superiors in the points therein specified. (fn. 2)
Of late it came to the knowledge of our Lord the King, by the grievous complaint of the honourable persons, lords and other noblemen of his realm, that whereas monasteries, priories and other religious houses were founded to the honour and glory of God, and the advancement of the holy Church, by the King and his progenitors and by the said noblemen and their [successors and (fn. 3) ] ancestors, and a very great portion of lands and tenements have been given by them to the said monasteries, priories and houses, and the religious men serving God in them, to the intent that clerks and laymen might be admitted in such monasteries, priories and religious houses, according to their sufficient ability, and that sick and feeble men might be maintained, hospitality, almsgiving and other charitable deeds might be done, and that in them (prayers) might be made for the souls of the said founders and their heirs; the abbots, priors and governors of the said houses, and certain aliens, their superiors, as the abbots and priors of the order of Cluny, the Cistercians, Premonstratensians, the orders of St. Augustine and St. Benedict, and many more of other religious orders, have at their own pleasure set divers unwonted, heavy and importable tallages, payments and impositions, upon every of the said monasteries and houses in subjection unto them in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, without the privity of our Lord the King and his nobility, contrary to the laws and customs of the said realm; and thereby the number of religious persons and others serving in the said houses and religious places, being oppressed by such payments, tallages and impositions, is lessened and the service of God also, alms not being given to the poor, sick, and feeble, the healths of the living and the souls of the dead are miserably defrauded, hospitality, almsgiving and other godly deeds do cease; and so that which in times past was charitably given to godly uses and to the increase of the service of God, is now converted to an evil tax; by permission whereof there groweth great scandal to the people, and infinite losses, to the disinheritance of the said founders and their heirs, unless speedy and sufficient remedy be provided to redress so many and grievous detriments. Wherefore our foresaid Lord the King, considering that it would be very prejudicial to him and his people, if he should any longer suffer so great losses and injuries to be winked at, and therefore being willing to maintain and defend the monasteries, priories and other religious houses and places erected in his kingdom, and in all lands subject to his dominion, according to the will and pious wishes of their founders, and from henceforth to provide sufficient remedy to reform such oppressions, as he is bound, by the counsel of his earls, barons, great men and other nobles, and the commons of his kingdom in his parliament holden at Westminster, (fn. 4) on Sunday [? die ducenta (sic)] next after the feast of St. Matthias the Apostle in the 33rd year of his reign, hath ordained and enacted.
That no abbot, prior, master, warden or other religious person, of whatsoever condition, state or religion he be, being under the King's power or jurisdiction, shall by himself, or by merchants or others, secretly or openly, by any device or means, carry or send, or by any means cause to be sent, any tax imposed by the abbots, priors, masters or wardens, of religious houses or places, their superiors, or assessed among themselves in any way, under the name of a rent, tallage, tribute or any kind of imposition or otherwise, in the name of exchange, sale, loan or other contract, howsoever it may be termed; neither shall depart into any other country for visitation, or upon any other colour, by that means to carry the goods of their monasteries and houses out of the kingdom and dominion aforesaid. And if any will presume to offend this present statute, he shall be grievously punished according to the quality of his offence and according to his contempt of the King's prohibition.
Moreover, our foresaid Lord the King doth prohibit all and singular abbots, priors, masters and governors of religious houses and places, being aliens, to whose authority, subjection and obedience the houses of the same orders in his kingdom and dominion be subject, that they do not at any time hereafter impose, or by any means assess, any tallages, payments, impositions, tributes or other burdens whatsoever, upon the monasteries, priories or other religious houses [fo. 25 (262)] in subjection unto them as is aforesaid, and that upon forfeiture of all that they have in their power, and can forfeit in future.
And further our Lord the King hath ordained and established that the abbots of the Cistercian and Premonstratensian and other religious orders, whose seal hath heretofore been used to remain only in the custody of the abbot, and not of the convent, shall hereafter have a common seal, and shall deposit the same in the custody of the prior of the monastery or house and four of the most worthy and discreet men of the convent of the same house, to be laid up in safe keeping under the private seal [of the abbot] (fn. 5) of the same place; so that the abbot or superior of the house which he doth govern shall by no means be able of himself to establish any contract or obligation, as heretofore he hath used to do. And if it fortune hereafter that writings obligatory of donations, purchases, sales, alienations, or of any other contracts, be found sealed with any other seal than such a common seal kept as is aforesaid, they shall be judged void and of no force in law. But it is not the meaning of our Lord the King to exclude the abbots, priors and other religious, aliens, by the ordinances and statutes aforesaid from executing their office of visitation in his kingdom and dominion; but they may visit at their pleasures, by themselves or others, the monasteries and other places in his kingdom and dominion in subjection unto them, according to the duty of their office, in those things only that belong to regular observation and the discipline of their order. Provided that they who shall execute this office of visitation, shall carry, or cause to be carried, out of his kingdom or dominion, none of the goods or things of such monasteries, priories and houses, saving only their reasonable and competent charges.
And though the publication and open notice of the ordinances and statutes aforesaid was stayed in suspense, for certain causes, sithence the last parliament until this present parliament holden at Carlisle in the octaves of St. Hilary in the five-and-thirtieth year of the reign of the same King Edward, and to the intent that they might proceed with greater deliberation and advice; our Lord the King, after full conference and debate had with his earls, barons, nobles and other magnates, and the commons of his kingdom, touching the premises, by their whole consent and agreement hath ordained and enacted that the ordinances and statutes aforesaid, under the manner, form and conditions aforesaid from the first day of May next ensuing, shall henceforward be inviolably observed and prevail (valitura) for ever, and the offenders of them shall henceforth be subject to the pains prescribed.
Case of the church of Kirkham.
During the vacancy of the archdeaconry of Richmond, in the year of Our Lord 1328, William de Melton, then archbishop of York, caused a peremptory edict to be published by his official, Master Robert de Dufton, and by the dean of Amounderness in the church aforesaid, the tenor whereof follows:
The official of the venerable father Lord William, by the grace of God archbishop of York, primate of England, deputed in the archdeaconry of Richmond, to the dean of Amounderness greeting. By authority of the said father's mandate, to us directed in this behalf, we command you, firmly enjoining that you shall go in person to the church of Kirkham, and peremptorily cite thither the abbot and convent of Vale Royal (who claim to possess the appropriation of that church), and publicly display in the fullest manner in the said church the peremptory edict of such citation, commanding them to appear personally or by one or more proctors before the said venerable father the archbishop of York, or one or more of his commissioners, in the cathedral church of York, on the third day of business (die juridico) after Quasi modo Sunday, (fn. 6) there to set forth whatsoever canonical [sanction] they may have, or what they may wish to claim as belonging to them in or at the aforesaid church of Kirkham in any way whatsoever, and lawfully to show, do and receive what may be directed by canonical sanctions according to the nature of the business aforesaid and the character of the circumstances. But now, in order to avoid imperilling souls, and to save trouble and expense, having carefully considered the nature of the premises, we have thought fit to make an alteration in the date and the peremptory citation above referred to; and in proof that the citation has been made, you shall send back to [fo. 25d (262d)] us the presents as soon as possible, sealed with the pendent seal of your office. Given at Scurueton [Scruton] next Lemyng, 9 Kal. April [24 March] in the year of grace 1327[–8].
And thereupon the aforesaid abbot, having taken counsel in the matter, went to York on the day in the citation appointed, and there appointed Brother Walter Welsh (Walens') proctor for himself and the convent by [letters] whereof the tenor is as follows:
Know all men that we, the abbot and convent of the monastery of Vale Royal, of the Cistercian order, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, being by canonical means owners of the appropriation of the parish church of Kirkham in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York, by these presents ordain, make and constitute our well-beloved in Christ, Brother Walter Welsh, a monk of our said house, our true and lawful proctor in all causes, businesses, matters, suits and complaints, moved and to be moved, concerning in any way whatsoever us, our monastery and our church of Kirkham aforesaid, jointly and severally, before whatsoever judges, ordinaries and their delegates, commissaries or other persons whomsoever, having cognizance or jurisdiction therein, acting in what way soever, either by reason of their office or at the instance of some party, against all our opponents whomsoever, at all times and in all places, whether we happen to be present or absent, giving him special power and general mandate in our name and the name of our monastery and church of Kirkham aforesaid, jointly and severally, to act, defend, contest a suit, accept, reply and yield to arguments, and take exceptions to errors and defaults; to produce and exhibit our witnesses, instruments, rights and muniments of all kinds, to consent and dissent as to judges, places etc. (fn. 7) Given in our chapter at Vale Royal 8 Id. April [6 April] in the year of grace 1328.
And when he had been accepted as proctor by W. Stanes in full consistory, by Masters Richard and John de Scardeborow, the advocates, he addressed the court as follows:
In the name of God Amen. To you, the venerable father and lord in Christ, William, by the grace of God archbishop of York, primate of England, or your commissary or commissaries in this behalf appointed to see, receive and examine the rights and muniments and any canonical [sanction] the religious men, the abbot and convent of the monastery of Vale Royal of the Cistercian order, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, may have to put forward with regard to their possession of the appropriation of the parish church of Kirkham in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York, in favour of their retention of the said church, I, Walter Welsh, proctor of the abbot and convent of the monastery of Vale Royal aforesaid, and a monk of their same house, say and declare unto you, in the name of proctor for their said monastery and their church of Kirkham aforesaid, that those religious men became possessed of the same church of Kirkham by the grants of Edward, formerly illustrious King of England, and by the privileges [granted] to them and their monastery by the holy Apostolic See, and they are in possession thereof to their own use, with all its chapels, rights and appurtenances whatsoever, and by such appropriation they have held and possessed the same from the time of their receiving it, and they still do lawfully hold and possess the same to their own use, lawfully receiving the fruits, rents, issues and offerings of all kinds to the said church belonging and coming, with the knowledge and allowance of the archbishops of York and the archdeacons of Richmond during the said time, and with their approval of the rights and muniments of which the said religious men became possessed touching the said church of Kirkham, which have been by them pronounced sufficient for their protection in that behalf; and that these things are publicly known and manifest in the archdeaconry of Richmond and the parts of Kirkham aforesaid. Wherefore I, the proctor aforesaid, beg that, after the premises have been laid open and stated clearly [fo. 26 (263)], and the aforenamed monastery and my lords aforesaid shown to be sufficiently protected with regard to the retention of the church aforesaid, they may be so considered by you, and dismissed in peace from examination by you in this matter, and that what may be just and fitting may be further done in the premises and in matters connected therewith. And to this end I speak, declare, allege and claim, jointly and severally, not limiting my lords to the proof of all and singular the premises, but that they may thereby obtain fully whatsoever may be proved of the same; always saving the benefit of the law in all things.
And he exhibited there the charter of the Lord the King of the advowson, and the bull for the appropriation, and the letters of divers archdeacons accepting and ratifying the appropriation, and he stated the points to be proved, which follow immediately below, in this manner:
In the name of God Amen. The proctor of the religious men the abbot and convent of the monastery of Vale Royal of the Cistercian order, in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, being canonically in possession of the appropriation of the parish church of Kirkham in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York, claims to prove jointly and severally, in the name of proctor in their behalf and in behalf of their monastery and church aforesaid:
First he claims to prove that the religious men canonically obtained possession of the said church of Kirkham, with all its rights and appurtenances whatsoever, by the grants of Edward, formerly illustrious King of England, and by the privileges of the Apostolic See [granted] to them and their monastery, and they still possess the appropriation of the same, and by reason of such appropriation and acquirement have held and possessed the same, with all its chapels, rights and appurtenances whatsoever, as is aforesaid, and do still hold and possess the same lawfully to their own use, duly taking all the fruits, rents, issues and offerings to the said church belonging and coming, with the knowledge of the archbishops of York and archdeacons of Richmond during that time, and their approbation of the rights and muniments obtained by the said religious men with regard to the said church of Kirkham, which have been pronounced by them sufficient for their protection in that behalf. Also he claims to prove that the premises are matter of common and notorious knowledge in the archdeaconry of Richmond and parts of Kirkham aforesaid.
And upon these points he produced four witnesses, whose evidence was as follows:
Master William de Cotton, advocate in the church of York, was sworn and asked whether he knows who are rectors of the church of Kirkham in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York. He says that the abbot and convent of Vale Royal are reputed to be rectors thereof, and have been so reputed for a long time. Asked for how long he has known them as rectors thereof, he says for eighteen years and more, and on one occasion, when he was official of the archdeacon aforesaid, he was invited there by a certain monk, proctor of the said abbot and convent of Vale Royal, which monk behaved as proctor of the said abbot and convent, rectors of the same church and notoriously possessing the said church to their own uses, as appeared to the witness as the archdeacon's official; and the same monk, whose name he cannot now recollect, appeared at general chapters and convocations as proctor of the same religious men, notoriously rectors of that church of Kirkham and possessing the same to their own uses, and he received canonical mandates. Asked how he knows this, he says, because he was the archdeacon's official, as is aforesaid, and he took pains to inquire into and examine the powers of the proctors thus appearing as described. Moreover he saw and inspected the presentation of the vicarage of that church to the then vicar thereof by the aforesaid religious men, and the institution following thereupon. As regards the appropriation of that church by the Apostolic See to the said religious men, and as regards any pronouncement or allowance or any thing else contained in the said articles read over to him, he can remember nothing at present, and cannot depose any further or otherwise than as above.
John de Bredkirk, who claims to be "literatus," sworn and examined touching the said articles, asked if he knows in what archdeaconry the church of Kirkham is situate, says: Yes, it is situate in the archdeaconry of Richmond; he has known the said church for forty years and more, and is a parishioner thereof, having been born in that place. Asked if he knows who is rector of the same church, he says that the religious men the abbot and convent of Vale Royal are rectors thereof, and for so long as he has known the said church he has known the same religious men as rectors thereof. Asked if he knows how the said religious men obtained the said church, and in what way it was appropriated to them, he says that they first obtained the said church by grant of the Lord Edward, formerly King of England, father of the Lord Edward, last King of England but one, and by confirmation of the holy Apostolic See, the grant and confirmation of which church the witness has often seen, read through and handled. The witness has been in the service of the said religious men for the last fifteen years and more, as he says; and, when the reverend father, the now lord archbishop of York, had that church to farm for three years, twelve years ago and more, from the same religious men, the witness carried the robes [? did business for (gessit robas)] of the said father on several occasions, carried money, levied from the said church by Richard of the Cellar, then keeper of the said church on behalf of the said father, to the same father at York. Asked if the said religious men have peacefully held and do still hold the said church to their own use, he says that when he first came to years of discretion, he knew and saw the said religious men as rectors of the same church, being in peaceful possession thereof, and receiving the fruits, rents, issues and offerings of all kinds pertaining and coming to the said church through all that time, without contradiction from any one, as this witness ever saw or heard, during the whole period. But he says he cannot depose further or otherwise to the abovesaid articles, placed before him and read aloud to him, except that all things as he has deposed above are matter of common report in the archdeaconry of Richmond and the parts of Kirkham aforesaid, and in the places round about.
Robert de Staunford, dwelling and living in Amounderness, born in the parish of Kirkham, of the age of 30 years and more, as he says, sworn upon the said articles, being asked first who is rector of the said church of Kirkham, says that the abbot and convent of Vale Royal are rectors of the same church, holding the same to their own use; and from the time he first knew anything he has known that they were and still are so held and reputed. Moreover, during all that time he has seen the same religious men peacefully taking, as rectors of the same church, all and all kinds of tithes, rents and issues to the same in any wise coming, without contradiction of any man, and disposing thereof as they pleased. And he has heard public report to the same effect in the archdeaconry of Richmond. Asked whether he has seen the muniments by which it is said the same religious men acquired and obtained the said church, to wit, the grant of Edward formerly King of England, father of the last King but one, and the confirmation by the Apostolic See, he says he has often seen the grant and confirmation of the church, but he cannot now recollect the tenor thereof. More he cannot depose touching the matters in the said articles contained, set before the said witness and read aloud to him.
Robert de Blundesdon, dwelling in the monastery of Vale Royal, sworn and examined touching the abovesaid articles, being asked first if he knew the church of Kirkham, and in what archdeaconry it is situate, and who is rector thereof, says that he has known that church for four years last past, and that it is situate in the archdeaconry of Richmond, and that he has known the religious men, the abbot and convent of the monastery aforesaid as rectors of the same church, and that from that time and now they have been and are notoriously reputed and held as such, and for the said four years he has seen them receive the fruits, rents and issues of the same church, in whatsoever way belonging and coming thereto, as true rectors thereof, without contradiction of any man. And he has heard other people say that they first obtained the said church by grant of Edward, formerly King of England, who died last but one, and also by the confirmation of the holy Apostolic See. He cannot say more with regard to how they acquired it, nor with regard to other things contained in the said articles, which were set before him and read to him, except that he has heard by public report in the parts of Kirkham and in the places lying round about it that they have peacefully held and possessed the said church, as true rectors thereof, from the time of the grant and confirmation aforesaid.
These witnesses were examined on the Thursday next after Quasi modo Sunday [14 April] in the year of Our Lord 1328.
And afterwards by letter of the lord archbishop he was dismissed, as Roger de Nasynton, notary public, wrote with his own hand, as follows:
Be it remembered that on Friday next after Quasi modo Sunday [15 April] in the year 1328, in the eleventh indiction, I, Roger de Nasynton, notary public, examined this present copy of the evidence of the witnesses with the originals, together with John de Willyngham and Simon de Appelby, clerks, in the greater church of York. Note that on the same Friday the lord abbot was dismissed by letter of the lord archbishop, by Master William de Stanes, official of the court of York (nouit' c'atu[..]). (fn. 8) Nasyngton.
Be it remembered [fo. 27 (264)] that Adam le Harper sued forth a writ as to a fourth part of the water-mill of Kirkham against the abbot of Vale Royal, the proceedings upon which were as follows: The abbot of Vale Royal had a day in the quinzaine of Easter against Adam, son of Richard le Harper of Kirkham, and Maud his wife, on which day the abbot made default; therefore let it be taken into the King's hand by grand cape; a day [was given] in the quinzaine of Michaelmas; on which day the writ was delayed [? tarde]; therefore, as before, a day [was given] in the quinzaine of Hilary; on which day the abbot waged his law. Rot. 218. A day in the quinzaine of Trinity, on which day the abbot essoined. Rot. 39. A day on the morrow of [St.] Martin, on which day the abbot essoined. Rot. 3. A day in three weeks of Easter. On which day an imparlance sine die, because the King gave him leave; therefore summon him for the quinzaine of Michaelmas; when no writ [was brought]; therefore, as before, a day in the quinzaine of Hilary; on which day the writ was delayed; therefore, as before, a day in the quinzaine of Easter; on which day both the abbot and the said Adam essoined. Rot. 6. A day in the quinzaine of Michaelmas, on which last day the said Adam did not prosecute; therefore [he was] in mercy.
Be it remembered that the church of Kirkham was in past time taxed at £320 (xvjxx), (fn. 9) and then the tithe was £16 (sic); afterwards in the time of Abbot Peter, by writ of the King and mandate of William de Melton, then archbishop of York, it was taxed anew at 80 marks, (fn. 10) and so the tithe is 8 marks. You will find the letter of this new taxation, by Master Robert de Dufton, official of Richmond, in the bursary, under the heading Kirkham.
In the year 1286 the church of Kirkham was appropriated in the court of Rome by Otto de Grandison, in the time of Pope Honorius IV. (fn. 11) But it is to be noted that, before it came into the hands of King Edward, a great dispute arose concerning the said church between one Theobald Waliter, on the one part, and the abbot of Shrewsbury on the other, as to the right of patronage of the said church, which was settled in this way, by a fine being levied in the King's court, providing that the abbot of Shrewsbury and his successors should receive from the aforesaid church of Kirkham a pension of 12 marks yearly, and that the said Theobald should remain true patron of the said church for ever. But after a considerable time and other such legal dealings (actus), Theobald le Botiler, heir of the aforesaid Theobald, came and acknowledged in the King's Bench that the patronage of the said church belonged to King Edward, founder of the monastery of Vale Royal. Whereupon the said King appropriated the said church to the aforesaid monastery. But after the death of the said founder, there came a certain abbot of Shrewsbury named Atum [sic] and brought a writ which is called scire facias against the abbot of Vale Royal, whose name was Peter, for 500 marks of arrears of the said pension of 12 marks, and for recovery of the said pension. Now Abbot Peter was a man of great wisdom, and he redeemed that writ and many others from the sheriff of Lancaster, and passed many days of love, or rather of toil, with the said abbot of Shrewsbury, at great and heavy cost, for there was nothing so abhorrent to that most prudent man as this suit aforesaid. But before he could bring the matter to a satisfactory conclusion, the said Peter was removed from our midst, and the said abbot of Shrewsbury again brought a writ of scire facias against Robert de Cheyneston, abbot of Vale Royal, successor of the aforesaid Peter. But the said Robert, perceiving that all the trouble and caution of his predecessor had been of no avail, made a vigorous opposition to the abbot of Shrewsbury, in London and elsewhere, in the cause aforesaid, and laboured arduously on behalf of his monastery, taking with him to London Brothers Thomas del More and William de Oxford, and there, after many allegations had been put forward on both sides, he gave the abbot of Shrewsbury £100 as a compensation for his trouble and expenses. (fn. 12) And I think the memory of this work is worthy to be preserved.
Edward, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, to the sheriff of Lancaster, greeting. Whereas in the articles granted to the prelates and clergy of our kingdom by the Lord Edward, late King of England, our father, with the assent of the peers and magnates of our kingdom, it is contained that distraints shall not be made upon the rectors of churches by our sheriffs or other officials in the highway, or in the fee with which the churches were endowed in times past; now we are given to understand by the serious complaint of our well-beloved in Christ the abbot of Vale Royal, parson of the church of Kirkham, that you by colour of your office [fo. 27d (264d)] have lately entered the lands and tenements which are of the endowment and fee of the same church at Kirkham, and heavily distrained the said abbot in the said lands and tenements, and do still continue so to distrain him, to the manifest prejudice of the abbot and injury of ecclesiastical liberty, and contrary to the form of the articles aforesaid: We, willing to preserve ecclesiastical liberties uninjured, command you to make no such distraints in the lands and tenements which are of the endowment of the said church, and to attempt nothing which may tend in any way to the injury of ecclesiastical liberty or the weakening of the articles aforesaid; and if you have made any distraint upon the said abbot in the fee of his aforesaid church, as is aforesaid, you shall release it to him without delay. Witness myself at York on the 26th day of January in the 7th year of our reign [1332–3]. [To] Robert Foucher, sheriff of Lancaster.
Inquisition concerning Kirkham, taken upon the letter of Lord Henry, Earl of Lancaster, to Robert Foucher, sheriff of Lancaster, on Friday next after the feast of St. Gregory the Pope in the eighth year of the reign of King Edward the Third after the Conquest [18 March 1333–4], by [the oath of] John de Bredkirk, William de Wytyngham, Ralph de Frekylton, Adam de Brokholes, Henry de Carlton, Thomas de Southworthe, Roger de Pulton, John de Rediford, John de Eccleston, Robert de Pulton, Richard de Ingelheved and Adam de More, who say that the abbot of Vale Royal and the convent of that place have had the amends of the assize of bread and ale of the whole vill of Kirkham, from the day of the making of the charter of the aforesaid abbot and convent; and they say that before the time of the aforesaid abbot there were no bakers, but there were brewers, who brewed once or twice in the year; and the amends of the assize were not enjoyed because the land is in almoin, and the tenements of Kirkham have been in almoin (elemosinate) from time immemorial. In witness whereof etc.
Writ directed etc. for provisors of the vicarage of Kirkham etc.
Edward, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and [Duke] of Aquitaine, to his well-beloved and trusty Adam de Hoghton, Robert de Syngulton and William de Bredkirk, greeting. Know ye that, whereas the Lord Edward of famous memory, formerly King of England, our grandfather, founded the abbey of Vale Royal, and endowed it with the advowson of the church of Kirkham in the county of Lancaster, and caused that church to be appropriated to the abbot and monks then serving God there, in aid of the maintenance of them and their successors; and, although the same abbot and monks, and their successors, have always hitherto, from the time of the foundation aforesaid, peacefully held the same church to their own use; nevertheless on the suggestion of some person in the court of Rome that the vicarage of the church aforesaid (which they governed by one of their monks, according to the ordination made at the said appropriation) was vacant and that the collation thereto belonged to the said court, that person procured a certain provision there to be made to him thereof, by pretext whereof he endeavours to occupy the said vicarage and to disinherit the aforesaid abbot from his rights, in contempt of us and contrary to the aforesaid ordination of our said grandfather, which by his gift he thus made: We, willing that the same should be kept inviolably, and that those contravening the same should be restrained, have appointed you, and two of you, to enquire by the oath of honest and lawful men of the county aforesaid, by whom the truth of the matter may best be known, concerning the name of the person who has obtained such provision of the said vicarage at the said court and endeavours to disinherit the same abbot and monks thereof, contrary to the form of the ordination aforesaid of our same grandfather, and presumes to take proceedings prejudicial to us and our crown and to the ordination aforesaid, and as to what and what kind of proceedings and other things prejudicial to us and our crown have been taken there by them, and how and in what way. Therefore we command you, on a certain day and at a certain place, which you, or two of you, shall assign for the purpose, to make an inquisition thereupon, and you shall take those who happen to be convicted (judicari) concerning the premises, wheresoever you shall find them, and shall send them, together with the inquisition aforesaid, when it shall have been taken, under your seals, or the seal of one of you, and the seals of those by whom it shall be made, before us and our council, together with this writ. And we have charged our sheriff of our county aforesaid to cause such and so many honest and lawful men of his bailiwick to come before you, or two of you, at a certain place and on a certain day to be signified to him by you, or two of you, by whom the truth of the matter [fo. 28 (265)] may best be known and enquired into. In witness whereof we have caused these our letters to be made patent. Witness myself at Westminster on the 6th day of February in the 38th year of our reign [1363–4].
Moreover (fn. 13) the abbot complained to the King that his people of Kirkham were assessed to the King as were the other people of the county of Lancaster, whereupon the King directed his writ to the assessors in these words:
Edward, by the grace of God King of England etc., to the assessors and collectors of the tenth and fifteenth in the county of Lancaster, greeting. We have been given to understand, on behalf of our well—beloved in Christ the abbot of Vale Royal, that the arrangements for the assessing and levying of the aforesaid tenth and fifteenth granted to us by the laity, are unjust as regards the goods of the same abbot issuing from the temporalities annexed to his church, which are assessed to the tenth among the spiritualities in all assessments and demands for such tenth, to the considerable loss and injury of the said abbot. And whereas we are unwilling that the said abbot should be charged with the said tenth and fifteenth granted us by the laity on such goods as already pay us a tenth among the spiritualities, we charge you not to molest the said abbot in any way as to his goods, which are assessed to the tenth among the spiritualities, and of which the tenth is accustomed to be given, as is aforesaid, by reason of the aforesaid tenth and fifteenth granted to us by the laity, nor to injure him in any way; and if you have caused any distraint to be taken upon this occasion, you shall cause it to be released to him forthwith. Witness myself at York on the 26th day of January in the seventh year of our reign [1332–3].
Final agreement with regard to the advowson of the church of Kirkham.
This is the final agreement made in the court of the King at Westminster from St. Martin's day in fifteen days in the eighth year of the reign of King Edward, son of King Henry [25 Nov. 1279], before Thomas Welond, Walter de Helyun, John de Louetot, Roger de Leycester and William de Burton, justices, and other faithful people of the King then present there, between the same King, plaintiff, and Theobald le Butyler, deforciant, of the advowson of the church of Kirkham, concerning which a plea of agreement was summoned between them in the same court: to wit, that the aforesaid Theobald acknowledged the aforesaid advowson of the same church, with the appurtenances, to be the right of the King, and remitted and quit-claimed the same from himself and his heirs to the aforesaid King and his heirs for ever; and for this acknowledgment, remission and quitclaim, fine and agreement, the King gave the aforesaid Theobald one sore sparrow hawk. (fn. 14)
Memorandum of the tithes of the parish of Kirkham, valued with the chapel of Gosnargh, to wit, sheaves.
It is to be rem'bred that Robt. Foucher, Shreefe of Lancaster, made to be sommond our tenandes of Kyrkham to the wappentake for to make theyr amendes of brede and of ale broken; by the quich the abbot compleynytt him to the Erle of Lancastre and of Leycestre, lord of Inglond:
Shewth to you your [fo. 28d (265d)] Chapleans abbot and convent of the Valeryall that where they have the advoysen of the Kyrke of Kirkham of the gift of K. Edward grauntfader of our Lo. the King that now is, and that have holden into thair propur use, and they and theyr predecessors abbotes and persons of the same chyrche of tyme which no mynd is, have hade in their town of Kyrkeham, quich is the dower of their seyd chirch, amendes of assisses of brede & of ale broken; so it is that now one Robert Fowcher, your shreefe of Lancastre, dystreynyth their tenandes of their seyd town of Kirkham to come to the wappentake of Amondnesse to make amendes of assises of bred and ale broken agayn the usages fraunches and rights of theyr chyrch aforeseyd. Of the quich they pray of grace and remedy.
And for that that the shreefe nothing wold do for the letter of the Earle the abbot compleynt him to the King in this maner:
To our Lo. the King shewyth his Chapelans the abbot and convent of the Vale Ryall that qwer thai ben fowndytt by the prehonorable K. Edward his grauntfader quich gafe theym the vowson of the chyrch of Kyrkeham with theyr appurtenances and now they have it to theyr proper use, and they and theyr predecessors persons of the same chyrch of tyme which no mynd is, have in the town of Kirkham which is dowr of the same chyrch amendes of assyses of bred and ale broken, it is so that now one Robert Fowcher shrefe of Lancaster distreynyth their tenandes of their town of Kirkham to come to their wappentake of Amondernesse to make amendes or the assise of bred and ale broken, to the profet of the Erle of Lancastre agayns their usage and franches and ryghtes of theyr chyrch. Of quich they pray of grace and remedy for Godds sake.
And the Kyng send his writt to his shrefe in these words: Edward, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine, to the sheriff of Lancaster, greeting. (fn. 15)
Presentation of a Vicar.—To our reverend man A. B., Doctor of Decrees, and your vicar general in spiritualities, William, by divine permission abbot of the monastery of the Blessed Mary of Vale Royal, and the convent of that place, obedience and all fitting reverence due, with honour. To the perpetual vicarage of the parish church of St. Michael of Kirkham in Amounderness, in your jurisdiction, vacant by the death of William Mallhom, last vicar thereof, and being in our presentation, moved by charity, we present to you (by tenor of the presents) our well-beloved in Christ Richard Dave, chaplain, of the said diocese, humbly and devoutly requesting that you will deign to admit the aforenamed Richard to the said perpetual vicarage, with all its rights and appurtenances, and canonically to institute him vicar therein, and to do and perform the other things which are incumbent upon your office in this behalf. In witness whereof our common seal is affixed to these presents. Given in our chapter-house on the 11th day of March in the year of Our Lord 1496[–7].
Proceedings concerning the coroner's office.
John abbot of Vale Royal was attached to answer the King for that, whereas it is not lawful to any one to take or seize deodand chattels, which belong to the King himself, without a special warrant, the same abbot, without any such warrant, took, carried away and detained certain deodand chattels found in the water of Wever, to wit, one cart bound with iron, with two horses and other chattels to the value of £4, from which John, servant of William de Brickhulle, was drowned by mischance in the water aforesaid; in contempt of the King, etc. [fo. 29 (266)]. And the abbot comes and denies force and injury etc. and whatsoever etc., saying that King Edward, father of the now King, founded his abbey of Vale Royal and granted and confirmed to God and the Blessed Mary, and to the monks serving God there, divers liberties and divers customs, by his charter; amongst which he granted to them deodand chattels arising within the lordship of the said abbey and the liberty thereof. And, because the aforesaid accident took place within his liberty, the said abbot took the aforesaid deodand chattels by virtue of the said grant and confirmation, as was quite lawful for him to do. And he produces a certain charter under the name of the aforesaid King Edward, father of the now King, by which he claims to have such liberty etc. In these words: And whereby the same King Edward, father etc. confirmed to the same abbot and monks the site of the abbey aforesaid, together with all the manors in the aforesaid charter contained, with all the rights, liberties and free customs to their manors in any wise belonging, as wholly, freely and peacefully as the same Lord the King had ever well and wholly held those same manors, without any reserve, and also if any of the men or tenants of the aforesaid abbot and convent ought, for any offence, to forfeit life or limb, or should take to flight and refuse to stand upon his trial, or should commit any other offence for which he ought to forfeit his chattels, the same should belong to the said abbot and monks and their successors, together with the year and waste of the lands and tenements of such men aforesaid, which ought to belong to the King and his heirs. Whereby it manifestly appears, from the said general words, although deodands are not expressly mentioned in the said charter, that deodand chattels ought to belong to the aforesaid abbot and monks; and thereupon he demands judgment etc. And John de Cotton, the coroner, who prosecutes for the King, says that the stream of water aforesaid, in which the said deodand chattels were found, together with the body of the servant John, is outside the liberty of the aforesaid abbot and monks, and therefore they ought to belong to the King, and this he offers to prove, etc. And he demands judgment thereupon etc.
Afterwards Laurence de Burwell, lieutenant of the justiciar, taking with him John de Cotton, the coroner, etc., went to the place where the accident aforesaid occurred, and there caused twelve men to come before him for the purpose of enquiring concerning the premises. And the jurors say upon their oath that the said deodand chattels were found within the liberty of the aforesaid abbot and monks. Therefore let the aforesaid abbot and monks have the aforesaid chattels quit etc. Saving the right of the King at another time etc. [temp. Edw. II].
Command was given to Urian de St. Peter and Richard de Sutton, sergeants of the peace, to take the abbot of Vale Royal, indicted for receiving Randolph Coyntrel, a thief, and other thieves; Walter de Childeston and John de Brecham, monks of the same house, for receiving Robert Shrap, William and John, sons of Robert de Wyninton, thieves; Richard Fraunceys of Ouere, William le Heyward of Weverham, Hugh, son of Robert of Weverham, chaplains, indicted for burglary of the house of John, chaplain of Weverham, and carrying off the goods of the said John; John Smith, son of Adam of Weverham, indicted for receiving the same Richard Franceis, William le Heyward and John Smith etc.; Yeuan, servant of the abbot of Vale Royal, indicted for receiving Randolph Coyntrel, a thief; Richard le Celereresman of Dernhal, indicted for receiving [? at] le Harecourt, a thief, Randolph de Coyntrel of Vale Royal, indicted for the theft of a tunic of Simon Saxi and David Perme and divers other men, to the value of 40s.; and saving etc. And the aforesaid sergeants did nothing therein, but commanded that the aforesaid abbot and all the others should remain within the abbey aforesaid, because they could not take them on account of their ecclesiastical liberty.
And thereupon there came one James, bailiff of Weverham, of the liberty of the same abbot, and said that it belongs to the abbot himself and to his bailiffs, and to no one else, to make such attachments within the liberty aforesaid, for he said that King Edward, father of the now King, by his charter aforesaid, granted to the aforesaid abbot and convent of Vale Royal, in all and singular the manors in the said charter contained, with infangenethef, outfangenethef, wythgulthef, murder, theft and forestalling; and that if any of the men or tenants [fo. 29d (266d)] of the same abbot and monks ought, for any offence, to forfeit life or limb, or should take to flight and refuse to stand his trial, or should commit any other offence for which he ought to lose his chattels, those chattels, by the charter and grant of the aforesaid King, ought to belong to the same abbot and monks, together with the year and waste of the tenements of their men or tenants aforesaid, convicted of felony, which ought to belong to the King himself. And thereupon the King directed his writ to his wellbeloved and trusty P. Typetot, his justiciar of Chester, in these words:
Edward, by the grace of God King of England, etc. to his wellbeloved and trusty P. Typetot, justiciar of Chester, greeting. Whereas the abbot of Vale Royal claims to have divers liberties by charters of our progenitors, formerly Kings of England, and by our grant, which he and his predecessors, abbots of that place, have been accustomed to use and enjoy, we command you to suffer the said abbot to use and enjoy the aforesaid liberties as he and his predecessors in times past have been accustomed to use and enjoy the same. Witness, etc.
By virtue of which writ it was found, as well by the rolls as by an inquisition thereof lawfully made, that the aforesaid abbot and his predecessors have hitherto been accustomed to use and enjoy the aforesaid liberties without interruption. Therefore let him use and enjoy the same etc., until etc.
The coroner of the abbot of Vale Royal, Randolph de Bradeford, did the office of coroner at Twamlowe concerning two persons crushed in Marliol'. Also John Child, coroner, did his office there concerning one who was killed, to wit [blank]. Also it is to be remembered that the son of Henry Skeg of Gayton in Wyrhalle, taken for felony and homicide at Bewmareys at the suit of [ ] was delivered to the said abbot's prison of Weverham etc. Also Hugh de Derby, taken for theft, was delivered to the abbot from the court of Mohald etc. Also John le Mileward, drowned in the vill of Suetenham by accident, was viewed and had all things pertaining to the coroner's office by Thomas Wodeford, coroner of the abbot of Vale Royal, in the year of our Lord 1335.