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