The Ledger Book of Vale Royal Abbey. Originally published by Manchester Record Society, Manchester, 1914.
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To all the faithful of Christ etc. William, abbot of the monastery of the Blessed Mary of Vale Royal, greeting etc. Know ye that I, the aforenamed abbot, have appointed my wellbeloved in Christ, Peter Sompnour, my coroner to enquire and proceed in and upon all and all kinds of murders, homicides and other accidents, articles and matters, of right concerning and belonging to coroners, in my manors of Dernhall, Weverham, Conerwardesley, Merton, Moresbarowe and Twemlowe in the county of Chester; and that I have given and granted the office of coroner in my manors aforesaid to the same Peter, to have, carry out, execute and enjoy the office aforesaid in the manors aforesaid to the same Peter, so long as he shall conduct himself well in the said office. In witness whereof my seal is affixed. Given on the tenth day of March in the year etc [c. 1500].
Concerning the plea of Bachemoos.
The assize came to recognize whether Robert, son of Robert of Wynynton, unlawfully etc. disseised Richard, abbot of Vale Royal of his free tenement in Weverham, after etc. And thereupon he complains that he disseised him of a moiety of one rood of moss in [divers] places etc. And Robert comes in his own person, as tenant of the aforesaid moiety of a rood, and says that an assize ought not to be made between them on this writ, because he says that the aforesaid moiety in question is in Wynynton and not in Weverham, and he demands judgment etc., and he holds the said moiety together with Ellen, his wife, who is not named in the writ, under a certain charter which he produces and which testifies this fact etc., and he held it on the day of the suing forth [of the writ], to wit, on the 24th of May in the 13th year of the reign of the now Lord the King , and therefore, by consideration of the court, these proceedings were discontinued. Thereupon [fo. 30 (267)] the abbot complained to the King, and obtained a record in these words:
Edward etc. to his well-beloved and trusty Robert de Holland, his justiciar of Chester, and his lieutenant, greeting. Our well-beloved in Christ, the abbot of Vale Royal, has shown us that, whereas he lately arraigned an assize of novel disseisin before you in our county of Chester, by our writ, against Robert de Wynynton concerning a tenement in Weverham, and the parties aforesaid pleaded at the taking of the assize aforesaid before you in the county aforesaid, and that assize, for want of jurors, was adjourned to be taken at the next county [-court] then following, and the said Robert came to that court, and began to plead afresh, with another plea than he had previously used, whereupon the said abbot demands judgment, because the said Robert is of full age etc.: We command you to read and inspect the record and proceedings in the aforesaid matter, and to call before you the parties aforesaid, in order to hear their arguments on the subject, causing whatever may have been done incorrectly in the same record and proceedings to be amended in such manner that we may not be troubled any further on the subject. Given at London on the 20th day of October in the 14th year of the reign of King Edward . And afterwards Master Richard, then abbot of Dore, and a number of other people arranged an agreement between the said abbot and Robert, and divided the ground, and drew up a deed indentate to last for ever.
Be it remembered that Robert de Hykedon [and] William de Hykedon, his brother, were indicted for the death of John Daa in the time of Richard Dammery, justiciar, and for five oxen feloniously stolen in the first year of the reign of King Edward the Third after the Conquest, and they were afterwards outlawed for ten years. And Richard Doun made the peace of the said Robert in this matter in the time of Henry de Ferrars, justiciar, in the twelfth year of the abovesaid reign, by Richard del Wode, clerk of the rolls, and Richard de Venables of Newbold, then vice-justiciar; and the aforesaid William Hykedon remained outlawed at that time [1327, 1339].
[Middle Aston, or Middleton Grange.]
This cirograph witnesseth that the abbot and convent of Vale Royal have given and granted etc. to the prior and convent of Norton and their house for ever two bovates of land in Midlaston, which were heretofore given and assigned to the rectors of the church of Frodsham for finding a chantry for the lords of that manor in the chapel thereof. The said abbot and convent have also granted and for ever demised to the said prior and convent [and] their house, all the tithes, as well personal as naturally predial or arising by industry, which in any way soever belong to the said abbot and monks in the said manor or vill of Midlaston by reason of the chapel aforesaid, together with all fisheries, liberties of common, and all other rights, commodities and immunities, which at any time belonged to the said land or to the said chapel of Midleaston, or by right or custom ought so to belong, as the rectors of the church of Frodsham have ever most fully, wholly and freely received the same, or by right or custom ought so to have had and held the same, excepting the petty tithes, offerings and mortuaries of the men dwelling in the said vill of Midlaston. And the aforesaid prior and convent and their successors will pay to the aforesaid abbot and convent of Vale Royal and their successors, for the aforesaid two bovates of land, with their appurtenances, as also for the tithes, liberties of common and rights abovesaid, 40s. of good and lawful sterlings by the year, payable faithfully and without fraud in equal portions at the feasts of St. Michael and Easter for ever. And moreover the said prior and convent and their successors will cause mass to be celebrated in the said chapel on three days in every week throughout the year, to wit, on the Sunday, Thursday and Saturday, at their own expense, for ever, and will for ever acquit the said abbot and convent from all and singular the things which to the said chapel belong, with regard to all men, as well the ordinaries of the place as all others, who may be concerned. In witness whereof etc.
[An assault at Swettenham.]
Thomas de Swetenham [fo. 30d (266d)], lord of Swetenham, was indicted before John de la Pole, lieutenant of the justiciar of Chester, at his eyre at Middlewich on Thursday next after the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the fortyninth year of the reign of King Edward the Third after the Conquest [13 Sept. 1375], for that the same Thomas with force and arms etc. on Monday, the feast of St. Gregory the Pope in the year aforesaid, at Swetenham, assaulted Richard Giile of Kernyncham, and beat him on the head with a stick and wounded him, so that the blood flowed copiously. He came, brought by the constable. And being asked how he would acquit himself concerning the trespass aforesaid, he says that the aforesaid place, in which it is supposed that the said trespass was committed, is in the manor of Weverham, and parcel of that manor, in the which Stephen, abbot of Vale Royal, holds his court every fortnight, and he has there such liberty and jurisdiction, that if any trespass against the peace is committed within the said manor, as well by the tenants dwelling therein as by others, he can both arrest the trespassers (or offenders) found within that manor, and inquire in his court aforesaid as to such trespass by twelve honest and lawful men of the same manor, and can take indictments there, or enquire by twelve men, as is abovesaid, either making or not making any arrest in the matter, and can there arraign the men arrested or indicted, and try them according to the common law; and, in case they acknowledge, or be convicted of, such trespass, he can imprison them until they make a fine, and can take and have such fines to his own use. And the aforesaid abbot and his predecessors, from the time of the foundation of the abbey aforesaid, and all those whose estate they have in the manor aforesaid, have from time immemorial been seised of these liberties and jurisdictions, as pertaining to the manor aforesaid; the which liberties were claimed by the predecessors of the aforesaid now abbot in the full county[-court] of Chester, and thus allowed. And he says that on Saturday next before the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary in the first year of the reign of the now King, it was presented in the aforesaid court at Weverham, by twelve men of the same manor, before William de Bostok, steward of the aforesaid now abbot of the manor aforesaid, that the said Thomas de Swettenham committed the trespass aforesaid on the day and in the place aforesaid; whereupon, by proceedings in due form of law against the said Thomas had, by pretext of the presentment aforesaid, the same Thomas came into the court there, and was charged there before the abovenamed steward with the trespass aforesaid, and made a fine by 10s. And thereupon he demands judgment, whether he ought to make a fine a second time, at the suit of the King in this court, for the trespass aforesaid.
And John de Scolehalle, who prosecutes for the King, says that it is not proved that the aforesaid claim was allowed to the predecessors of the said now abbot, nor was it found that the said abbot has such liberty and jurisdiction of taking inquisitions and indictments, and this he is ready to prove on behalf of the King; and thereupon he demands judgment etc.
And after an examination as to the liberties and claims aforesaid, it appeared that the same abbot ought to have his prison in the manors of Darnalle, Ouere and Weuerham, so that if any one commit an offence or be taken within the liberty aforesaid for any cause, he shall be detained there in the prison aforesaid, until he be delivered according to the form heretofore accustomed, to wit, by the common law, and that the same abbot ought to have the fines of all men whatsoever committing any offence against the peace, or in any other way, within the liberty aforesaid. And therefore it was considered that the said Thomas should go quit thereof.
Writ of privy seal directed to the auditors of Chester for having fines and amercements.
Henry, (fn. 1) by the grace of God King of England and of France, and Lord of Ireland, to the auditors appointed to receive the accounts of our officers and ministers in our county of Chester, greeting. Whereas on the sixteenth day of October last past, by our letters patent under our great seal, (fn. 2) we confirmed amongst other things the grant of Lord Edward, son of King Edward, formerly [fo. 31 (268)] Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, made to God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and to the abbot and convent of Vale Royal and their successors for ever, of certain fines and amercements of artificers and labourers, and of all their men and tenants in the county of Chester; we, unwilling that the said abbot and convent, or their successors, should be in any way molested, disturbed or annoyed, with regard to the said fines and amercements by him, or by his officers and ministers whomsoever, as in the said letters of grant and of our confirmation more at large is contained, charge you to suffer the said abbot and convent peaceably to have and enjoy the said [fines] and amercements, as they and their predecessors have had and enjoyed the same by force of their said patents, not vexing or annoying them in any way contrary to the tenor and effect thereof. Given under our privy seal at Westminster on the 20th day of October in the ninth year of our reign .
These parcells (fn. 3) following be the summes of money and service that the abbot of Vale Royall demands of Mr. Dutton of Dutton.
First the said abbot demands for the yearely rent of the Lordship and wast of Dutton being unpayd the space of . . ., every yeare 2s., as appeareth in the grene booke in the title of Feilt[ies] & Homage of the Tennents of Weuerham.
Item he demands of the said Mr. Dutton 50s. for relefe of halfe a knights fee by reison that the said Mr. Dutton holdens 6 meses et 6 oxganges of land in Dutton aforesaid of the said abbot by the same seruice, as appereits per an Inquisition found afore the Escheator of Cheshire anno 1 Edw. III.
Item it apperits in the said title in the said booke that Hugh of Dutton, ancestor of Mr. Dutton, did homage to the predecessor of the said abbott.
Item it apperits in the said title that the said Mr. Dutton holdits 6 oxganges of land within the maner of Dutton of the said abbot to make sute to his court of Weuerham, and for lack of soe doeing it hath bin used out of tyme of mynde to amercy him and his ancesters for every default in 2s., and that the tennents of the said 6 oxgangs shall appere ones in the yere at the court of Weuerham to enquire de assisis fractis etc. and to find serten men on fote in harnes to doe seruice in the warre against Wales.
Item it apperits by a writ in the said booke the second yeare of K. Henry the 4th that the copar[c]eners of Acton do holde Acton of the maner of Weuerham by xijd. by yere, which rent belongs, to Mr. Dutton to pay, and not payd by the space of . . .
Memorandum of the receipt of money for wine being in arrears to the abbot and convent of Vale Royal, as appears hereafter.
To wit: In the great roll of the year 7 Hen. VI in Stafford, in an allowance made to William Troutbek, esquire, chamberlain of Chester, from Michaelmas in the fourth year of the King to Michaelmas in the eighth year [1425–9] amongst other things it is thus contained:
And to the abbot and convent of the monastery of the glorious Virgin Mary of Dernale of the Cistercian Order, now called Vale Royal, £32 for eight casks of wine, price £4 a cask, by the King's writ, enrolled among the Memoranda of the ninth year of the now King, in the second roll of Michaelmas term, in which it is contained that the Lord Edward, son of King Henry, late King of England, progenitor of the now King, by his charter which the now King has confirmed, granted to the same abbot and convent and their successors, one cask of wine to be received every year from the right prise of the King in the city of Chester, by the hands of the King's justiciar there for the time being, or the hands of his lieutenant, or of some other official of him and his heirs; and afterwards the Lord Edward, when he was Prince of Wales, by his letters patent, which the now King has likewise confirmed, granted to the same abbot and convent and their successors for ever one other cask of wine to be received every year from the King's right prise abovesaid, in form abovesaid, by the said abbot and convent, etc.
Henry [fo. 31d (268d)], by the grace of God King of England and of France, and Lord of Ireland, to his justiciar of Chester or his lieutenant there, or to any other his official (minister) in the same county, greeting. Whereas the Lord Edward, son of Henry, late King of England, our progenitor, by his charter, which we confirm, granted to his well-beloved in Christ, the abbot and convent of the monastery of the glorious Virgin Mary of Dernhall, of the Cistercian Order, called Vale Royal, one cask of wine to be received every year by them and their successors out of our right prise in our city of Chester, by the hands of our justiciar there for the time being, or of his lieutenant, or of any other official of him and his heirs; and afterwards the Lord Edward, when he was Prince of Wales, by his letters patent, which we have likewise confirmed, granted to the same abbot and convent and their successors for ever one other cask of wine to be received every year from our right prise aforesaid in form abovesaid, as in the letters and confirmations aforesaid more at large is contained; we command you [to cause] the same abbot and convent [to have] what is in arrears to them of the aforesaid two casks of wine a year out of our wines delivered to us in our city of Chester aforesaid, according to the tenor of the letters and confirmations aforesaid, taking from the aforesaid abbot and convent their letters of receipt, which will be sufficient for us in this behalf, upon which and this our order we will cause you to have due allowance thereof in your account at our Exchequer. Witness: Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, Keeper of England, at Westminster on the 14th day of October in the ninth year of our reign .
Be it remembered that it is found on the roll of the 28th year  that Richard, son of Warren le Grosvenour, [was] attached in that year for the inclosure of a certain piece of land of the waste of the forest of la Mare, within the meets and bounds of Ouere, which vill the King in time past gave to the abbot and convent of Vale Royal, with its appurtenances; and he found pledges to answer at the next pleas of the forest, Robert Daa and Adam de Kelsale, formerly "Poker" [? parker]; and he was prohibited, through (per) Gilbert le Rider, from working any further in that place. But notwithstanding this prohibition he enclosed the whole piece, against the King's command to the contrary.
Richard de Buddeworth and Margery, his wife [were] attached to answer the abbot of Vale Royal in a plea of land. And the abbot says that Richard and Margery, on Monday next after the feast of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist in the fourth year of the now King [28 June 1311], at Great Ouere, in a place called Blakedene, with force and arms etc. broke down a bridge belonging to the said abbot, to [his] damage £40.
And Richard and Margery come and deny force etc., and say that the aforesaid place of Blakedene, where the aforesaid abbot says the bridge was raised (levatum), is partly the soil of the said Richard and Margery in Merton, and partly the soil of the said abbot in Great Ouere, and that the same abbot had fixed the timbers and planks of the same bridge to the soil of the said Richard and Margery in Merton. Therefore the same Richard and Margery removed the said timbers and planks from their own soil, etc.
And the abbot says that Walter, late abbot of Vale Royal, his predecessor, died seised of the aforesaid bridge, raised on his own soil in Great Ouer, as in right of his church, so that the same now abbot found his church seised of the aforesaid bridge, raised in the place and vill of the same [church], and so continued the estate of his predecessor in the aforesaid bridge, raised there, for a long time, until etc.
And afterwards proceedings were continued until the county [-court] on the Tuesday in Easter week next following, when R. de Holand, then justiciar, came, and likewise twelve jurors, who say upon their oath that Walter de Hereford, formerly abbot of Vale Royal, was seised in his time of the aforesaid bridge as in right of his church of St. Mary of Vale Royal, and died seised thereof, and, in like manner, John, the now abbot, is seised thereof, as in right of his church etc.
In the great roll of 6 Edw. III, in the account of John Paynel, chamberlain of Chester.
And to the prioress and nuns of Chester, who receive £16 yearly of the ancient alms appointed to them, and £4, 17s. in recompense of certain tithes belonging to the church of Oure, which they demised to the abbot of Vale Royal at the King's request; and 10s. in recompense of 4 acres of land near Godesbache, resigned to the aforesaid abbot at the King's request; and 105s. 2d. in recompense of the tithes coming from the vills of Bradeford, Little Oure, Sutton and Merton in the parish of Oure, which were assigned to the aforesaid abbot by the King's writ, at the terms of Easter and St. Michael in equal portions £26, 12s. 2d. by the King's writ, and by the letters of the prioress acknowledging the receipt.
As yet [fo. 32 (269)] in the account of the chamberlain of Chester. Know all men by the presents that we, Elizabeth, prioress, and the nuns, of the house of the church of the Blessed Mary of Chester, have received from John Troutbek, esquire, chamberlain of Chester, £10, 12s. 2d., which Lord Edward the First, formerly King of England and Earl of Chester, ancestor in blood of the now King, [gave] to the prioress and nuns of our house and church aforesaid then being, and to their successors for ever, to be received every year at the Exchequer of Chester, by the hands of the chamberlain there for the time being, at the feasts of Easter and St. Michael in equal portions, in recompense of 4 acres of land near Godesbach, and of sundry tithes in the townships of Ouere, Bradford, Sutton, Littil-Ouere and Merton, then belonging to our church (fn. 4) of Ouere, resigned at the request of the aforesaid then king and earl by the prioress and nuns to the use of the abbot and convent of Vale Royal then being, and their successors for ever. Sealed with the common seal of our house aforesaid. Given on the 18th day of October in the nineteenth year of the reign of King Henry the Sixth .