Final Concords of the County of Lincoln 1244-1272. Originally published by Lincol Record Society, Horncastle, 1920.
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XVI. OTHER FEATURES OF INTEREST
(1) General interest of Final Concords.
In the seventeenth century, and even earlier, final concords had become dismal and monotonous documents. Allowing for the necessary changes in the names of the parties and in the particulars of the land, one concord is exactly like another: 'ex uno disce omnes.' But in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries it is far otherwise. The structure of the concord became stereotyped before the end of Henry II's reign, but within that unchanging form are found actions of the most diverse kinds. Some matters of interest have already been mentioned; but others remain to be noticed. What Joseph Hunter says of the fines of Richard I and John is also true of the final concords of Henry III:
Whoever looks in this work for facts, which singly considered, are of a very striking character, will assuredly be disappointed. The subject of it is the exchange of property, the passing of manors, advowsons, and lands from hand to hand, the chief changes, in short, in respect of the possession of these things in the reigns of Richard I and John. This from its very nature does not present single points on which the mind can rest, and discern in them matter of high importance. It is in the multitude of these facts, in the notices which the Fines contain of innumerable persons, perhaps only to be found here, in whom possessions of manors or churches inhered in those early times; in the notices of partitions of estates among co-heirs, with the marriages of those co-heirs; in the mention of the wives—a species of information which is almost peculiar to the Fine; in the innumerable local terms which occur in them; in the notices which they not unfrequently contain of dependencies and connections between contiguous properties, important perhaps in the adjustment of rights even in the present day; in the mention which they contain of the course of the ancient roads of the kingdom, [...] in the notices which they contain of peculiar services, peculiar customs, and the habits of a state of society which has long passed away; in the view which they present of the progressive accumulation of property in the hands of the religious, and the frequent mention which they make of the superiors of the communities of religious, of whom a catalogue almost complete might be made from this species of document alone—it is these things, which singly are perhaps of no great moment, which give the value to the species of document of which this publication consists. We may add, that each Fine is also the basis, the secure and venerable foundation, on which some interest of the present day may be resting. (fn. 1)
The Subject Index, under the head of Names, gives some unusual and interesting christian names and surnames, and for the notes about the origin of the former the editor is indebted to Professor F. M. Stenton and Miss D. M. Parsons.
(3) Marriage settlements.
Several concords are evidently settlements of property before or after marriage. (fn. 2) On pages 31–32, no 97, there is an arrangement relating to an interchange of rights of giving several children in marriage, one of whom is not to be married against her will, nor is she to be disparaged by a mćsalliance. By a statute of 20 Henry III, cap. 7, an heir might refuse to marry at the request of his lord, provided that he paid his lord as much as anyone would have given him for the marriage. (fn. 3)
(4) Customs and Services.
Actions concerning customs and services (fn. 4) provide some interesting cases. A free tenant pays 44s. 6d. to compromise a claim that he should do a specified amount of ploughing, reaping, and mowing for his lord, and find one man for one day at the two great boon-days for mowing his lord's meadow and reaping his corn. (fn. 5) In 1263, another free tenant agrees to pay an increased rent and to do suit at the lord's court from three weeks to three weeks in settlement of a claim that he should pay merchet (fn. 6) for leave to give his daughter in marriage, and also do two days ploughing every year with his own plough, and give two boon-days in autumn with one man for reaping the lord's corn. (fn. 7) Another free tenant makes a compromise whereby he escapes the liability to ride on horseback as his lord's messenger, at his own cost within the county of Lincoln, and at his lord's cost outside the county, and also to be present every autumn at his lord's great boon-day with all his household except his wife and eldest daughter. (fn. 8)
(5) Homage and suit of court.
Homage and suit of court led to many actions. Suit is to be done on two 'lawedays' yearly and on some other solemn occasions in the bishop of Carlisle's court at Horncastle, (fn. 9) and on two 'laghedays' yearly in the abbot of Swineshead's court at Hale. (fn. 10) Forty-seven free tenants of the prior of Spalding in Spalding, Pinchbeck, Moulton, and Weston acknowledge that they and all the males of their household, being of the age of fifteen years, and all their villeins and cotters are bound to do suit every year at the view of frank-pledge. (fn. 11)
(6) Feudal Aids.
The feudal aids rendered to the lord for knighting his eldest son and marrying his eldest daughter occurs in several cases. (fn. 12) Of quite distinct, and apparently more ancient, origin, is the sheriff's aid, a contribution towards his expenses in holding the view of frankpledge and riding his tourn (fn. 13) in each hundred.
Another service that is demanded is castle-guard, that is the duty of helping to garrison a castle of the king or of a feudal lord—Belvoir, Lancaster, Lincoln, Richmond, or Rockingham. (fn. 14) By Henry III's time a money payment had generally been substituted for personal service.
The drainage of the low lands and the protection of the marsh land from the encroachment of the sea have always been matters of importance in Lincolnshire. Neighbouring owners agree to have a common sewer with a gowt (guttera) at the sea-bank, and bridges (fn. 15); and the maintenance of the sea-bank is an important service. (fn. 16)
(9) Rights of Way.
Disputes about rights of way, of chase and rechase, are sometimes settled by a final concord, (fn. 17) and ancient roads or causeys or bridges or streams or waters or fisheries are often mentioned. (fn. 18)
(10) Rights of common.
The open fields and rights of common pasture are fruitful of disputes, and lead to many final concords. Whose beasts and sheep, and how many, and at what times, are to be put into the fields; what is to be done in the way of temporary enclosure (fn. 19); what rules are to be followed about impounding beasts which have no business to be there (fn. 20) — all this provides work for the curia regis. It is necessary too to deal with obstructors who maliciously leave their corn and hay in the fields and meadows, and thus deprive their neighbours of pasture; and with those who bring in foreign beasts. (fn. 21)
(11) Sporting rights.
Hunting and fishing furnish some interesting suits. Robert de Tateshale is to have the right to take game in the woods of his neighbour, the abbot of Kirkstead. If he is refused the keys, he may break the locks and enter the woods. But in the abbot's woods of Old and New Dowood he must not hunt. If his dogs enter those woods, Robert must wait outside, and call them back by mouth and horn. But he has the right to any game which they have chased into the woods and caught there, and the abbot's men must bring it out to him, if he has the patience to wait for it, unless, indeed, as it is wisely provided, the dogs have been too quick for them, and have already devoured it. And if they have devoured it, their guilt is by no means to be imputed to the abbot. (fn. 22)
There is also an agreement between the same abbot and another powerful neighbour, Philip Marmion. The abbot complains that Philip has deforced him of certain fisheries in the river Witham with the neighbouring booths. These fisheries with their booths have archaic names, which for the most part are long since forgotten, Langrake, Nokefub, Tynebering', Swetybyth, Inganwater, Dryedisk, Tawylewes, Rauncewater, Asegerwel, Aldebythe, Lytlewater, Brotherwater, Mermuthe. The abbot and Philip agree to divide the fisheries, and the abbot's shepherds are to swear upon the relics every year that they will not let his cattle trespass in Philip's woods. (fn. 23)
(12) Rents. (fn. 24)
The rents covenanted to be paid by the tenant to his lord are very varied in character. Money rents whether of a substantial or of a nominal amount are common. Of the other kinds the majority consist of very small amounts, partaking of the nature of quit-rents. Some of the commonest are a pound, or other small quantity, of cummin or of pepper, or a pair of gloves, or a clove gillyflower, or a rose, or a pair of gilt spurs. Rents of corn are not uncommon. Some other kinds occur less often; sticks of (i.e. lots of twenty-five) eels, herrings, mallards, a sore sparrow-hawk (i.e. a bird in the first year), salt measured by the sextary, incense, wax, hens, and eggs. Warnoth, which is due from a free tenement in Claxby by Normanby (fn. 25), is an ancient form of rent, occuring already in the Lincolnshire Domesday. (fn. 26)
(13) Corrodies, liveries, estovers.
Corrodies were annuities consisting of victuals and other necessaries granted by religious houses. Thus Adam de Flexburgh and Emma his wife, grant to Selby Abbey in frank almoign land in Stallingborough, and in return the abbot grants to them for their lives a messuage and an acre of meadow with two monks' corrodies and a corrody for a servant, and a yearly allowance of money, cheese, and butter for their suppers, two pairs of monastic boots, turfs, firewood, oats, hay, straw, salt, tallow, wax, and hog's grease. (fn. 27) In another case (fn. 28) a corrody, or livery as it is there called, consisting of fourteen loaves a week, four carcases of mutton, two stones of cheese, four stones of butter, two hundred herrings, and a pair of boots every year, and sevens ells of russet every other year, is quitclaimed to the abbot of Revesby in return for a small rent of corn.
Another concord records the purchase of a livery. William quitclaims to Bartholomew all his right in a carucate of land, in consideration of an undertaking on Bartholomew's part that he will find him for life in victuals in an honourable way at his table, and give him a yearly allowance of twenty shillings. (fn. 29) Or again, Elena makes a grant of land to Peter, who covenants to provide her with all her estovers (Old French estover, estovoir, to be necessary), that is all necessaries for her maintenance. (fn. 30) The word estovers, it may be noticed, is used with a different application at page 296, where it means a reasonable allowance of wood for the reparation of certain mills.
(14) The Poor.
It will be seen that the poor are not forgotten in the final concords. Certain lands are charged with a yearly payment in the church of Raithby by Louth of 6s. 8d. to provide bread for distribution amongst the poor for the salvation of the founder of the charity and his kin. (fn. 31) Another concord effects the foundation of an almshouse: a messuage and mill and land at Gedney are given to a chaplain who is to celebrate divine service in the chapel, and to maintain five poor people there, giving them daily one loaf apiece of the weight of fifty shillings, and one mess of flesh or fish or other food, according to what the season requires, between two of them; and every year a tunic of cloth apiece. (fn. 32)
(15) Lands of the Normans.
The lands of the Normans, mentioned as having escheated (Old French escheoir; Latin excidere: Med. Latin escaetare), that is fallen to the king. (fn. 33) were the English lands of those who preferred to keep their possessions in France when King John's loss of Normandy and Anjou compelled them to choose whether they would be subjects of the King of England or of the King of France.
(16) Lands of the Bretons.
The lands of the Bretons (fn. 34) were the possessions of the earldom of Richmond which were forfeited to the king when Peter de Braisne, duke of Britanny and earl of Richmond, in 1234, renounced his homage to the English king.
(17) Knights' fees.
A knight's fee is sometimes divided into minute parts. Thus we have a sixtieth part of a fee (fn. 35) or a twentieth part. (fn. 36) But for the commutation of military service for scutage, a money payment which could easily be apportioned, such subdivision would probably have been impracticable.
A concord of 1179 from the Nun Coton cartulary, for a copy of which I am indebted to Professor F. M. Stenton, provides a case of the division of a knight's fee amongst three coheiresses. (fn. 37) It seems that William the grandfather left three daughters and coheiresses (1) Emma's mother, who was the eldest (primogenita), (2) Richard's mother, and (3) Maud, who was probably the youngest, since she received less than Emma and Richard, whose mothers were evidently dead. 'Amita,' properly a paternal aunt, seems here to be used in a general way, for aunt. The service of Emma and Maud's parts of the fee is to belong to Richard, seemingly by virtue of his tenure of the capital message; and it is worthy of notice that he is not to have the wardship and marriage of Emma which, according to feudal law, would fall to him as her lord. This case is interesting because the sub-division of the fee seems scarcely in some respects to agree with the later law of England as recited in a statute for Ireland, 14 Henry III, a.d. 1229:
We do you to wit, that such a Law and Custom is in England in this case, That if any holding of us in chief, happen to die, having daughters to his heirs, our ancestors and we, after the death of the Father, have always had and received homage of all such daughters, and every of them in this case do hold of us in chief. And if they happened to be within age, we have alway had the Ward and marriage of every of them. And if he be tenant unto another Lord, and not to us (the sisters being within age) the Lord shall have the Ward and marriage of them all, and the eldest only shall do homage for her self and all her sisters. And when the other sisters come to full age, they shall do their service to the Lords of the fee by the hands of the eldest sister: yet shall not the eldest by this occasion exact of her younger sisters, homage, ward, or any other subjection, for they be all sisters, and in manner as one heir to one inheritance. If the eldest should have homage of the other sisters, and demand wardship, then the inheritance should be divided, so that the eldest sister should be seignioress and tenant of inheritance (simul et semel) that is to say, heir of her own part, and seignioress to her sisters, which could not stand well together in this case, for the eldest can demand no more than her sisters, but the chief mease by reason of her ancienty. Moreover if the elder sister should take homage of the younger, she should be as a seignioress to them all, and should have the Ward of them and their heirs; which would be none other but to cast the Lamb to the Wolf to be devoured. (fn. 38)