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Richard Copley Christie (editor)

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'Introduction', Annales Cestrienses: Chronicle of the Abbey of S. Werburg, at Chester (1887), pp. V-XXXI. URL: Date accessed: 25 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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THIS Chronicle, sometimes called the Annales Cestrienses and sometimes the Chronicle of S. Werburg, has never before been printed, nor, so far as I know, ever cited or referred to, except by Wharton in his Anglia Sacra and in his MS. collections, by Le Neve (and his recent editor Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy) in the Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, by Bishop Kennett in his MS Diptycha preserved in the British Museum (Lansdowne MSS 935), by Dr. Ormerod in his History of Cheshire, and by the editors of Dugdale's Monasticon. The references made by Hardy in his edition of Le Neve's Fasti are all taken second hand from the Anglia Sacra, and the citations in the edition of Dugdale given by Sir Henry Ellis and others, are also taken either from Wharton, from Kennett's Diptycha, or from Ormerod's History of Cheshire, where there is to be found a long series of extracts from the Annales Cestrienses or Chronicon S. Werburgæ, not, however, taken from the MS. in the possession of Lord Mostyn (from which this volume is printed), but from a MS. bound up at the end of Bishop Gastrell's Notitia Cestriensis, a large folio volume preserved in the Diocesan Registry at Chester. This MS., consisting of six leaves, written in the early part of the last century (but, as Mr. Earwaker tells me, not in the handwriting of Bishop Gastrell), was believed by Dr. Ormerod to be a copy of the Mostyn MS. from the fact that all (except the last of) the extracts in the Diptycha of Bishop Kennett are identical with passages to be found in the Gastrell MS., and that Bishop Kennett states that these extracts were from a MS. then at Gloddaeth "penes D. Tho. Mostyn Baronettum." When Dr. Ormerod wrote, this MS. was believed to be lost, but he says "the Author has identified with these Annals (by collating with the extracts in Kennett's Diptycha) the MS. Chronicon incerti Auctoris appended to Gastrell's Notitia, and generally quoted in this work as the Chronicle of St. Werburg, a transcript of which is in his possession." (fn. 1) The Gastrell MS., under the title Annales Cestrienses, was designed for publication by the Chetham Society more than forty years since, and is included in the list of proposed works appended to the first volume issued by that Society in 1844. A transcript of it was made by the late Canon Raines, and with his other MS. collections is now in the Chetham Library. A few years since, at the request of the Council of the Record Society, and on the assumption that the Mostyn MS. was still lost, I undertook to edit and translate the Gastrell MS., with the view of the same being inserted in the volume of Miscellanies which appeared in 1885, but before the volume was issued, the Bishop of Chester discovered that the Gloddaeth MS. was still in existence at Mostyn Hall, and was the same as that described in the Appendix to the Fourth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, p. 353, among the "Notes of the Manuscripts of the Right Honourable Lord Mostyn at Mostyn Hall," as follows:-

"'No. 157, 4to. paper. Old Mostyn Catalogue, No. 19. "Annals of ye Abbey of Chester to ye year 1297.' (Never "printed. Note in old catalogue by Bp. Humphreys.)

"A chronological account of remarkable occurrences in "Latin, commencing from the birth of Christ, and continued "to the year 1297. From the year 1093, the entries are "numerous, and, besides those relating to public events, there "are notices of the deaths, &c., of the Earls, Bishops, and "Abbots of Chester, and other particulars relating to the "Abbey. On the first page there is a list of the Kings of "England from Aluredus to Henric. (I.). On the next the "work commences 'Jesus xr't filius dī in bethleem natus,' &c. "Ends 'Mo CCo noneg. Septimo. E. Rex. xi K'l Septēbris "transfretavit in Flandriam.'"

Upon application being made to Lord Mostyn, he liberally consented to lend the MS. It was found on examination to contain more than four times as much matter as the Gastrell MS., and at the request of the Council I consented to edit and translate it.

The manuscript proper consists of forty-eight leaves of paper, and is written in various handwritings, all of them, as I should judge, of the end of the fifteenth or early part of the sixteenth century. The first page contains the list of kings, forming page 1 of the present volume, the second page is blank, and the third commences "Incipit vj Etas Seculi"; it ends on the ninety-first page, with the words quoted in the Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. No title or other description, neither Annales Cestrienses, Chronicon S. Werburg, nor any other, is anywhere to be found. The years up to 1139 occupy forty-five pages, ruled throughout, with the date of each year in a centre column; a space of about half an inch in depth, and two and a half inches long on each side of the date being prepared for the entries for the year, with the exception of the years 1093, 1094, and 1095, to each of which double spaces are given. The majority of the spaces are left blank, as will be seen from the fact that there are entries only in 104 years, though there are 1139 spaces. Where the entry is too long to be inserted in the proper space, it runs forward into those which follow. The whole of the entries up to this period are in the same handwriting. In the twelve pages, extending from 1140 to 1192, the plan is the same, the date being still in the centre column with the events of the year on each side, but the spaces vary considerably; to the year 1184 nearly two pages of two columns each are allotted. Up to this date, however, it is not always clear to what year some of the entries refer, as they occasionally run on beyond the next date without any break. From the year 1193 until the end, in 1297, the middle column where the dates have hitherto been is left blank, each year having a space ruled out for it with the date intended to be written in a narrow ruled space above it; and the date is invariably inserted until the year 1265, when it is omitted, as is the case in several subsequent years (see note, p. 92). From about the year 1100, several different handwritings appear, often more than one in the same year. The original scribe would in general seem to have made his entry, and afterwards additions were made by others. The greater part of the entry for 1173 is in a hand which I have not elsewhere noticed; from the year 1178 down to nearly the end of 1187, the greater part of the entries are in a different hand to any which elsewhere appears, a very much larger and bolder hand, the letters being nearly a quarter of an inch in height, but with portions here and there interspersed in two hands, one very similar to that in the earlier part of the MS., but the other different. In the subsequent entries there appear to be two if not three hands, one of them the same as, or very similar to, that of the earlier entries. It certainly appears as though there were at least four scribes concerned in the MS., yet all about the same period, i.e., the latter part of the fifteenth or the commencement of the sixteenth century.

That the principal scribe was a Welshman there can be little doubt. In the left-hand space by the side of the date ccxviii, instead of an entry relating to the affairs of that year is the following:-

"Y vloyddyn hon i Slesit scrivenu.
Y Kydcoric sy wedi scrivenv ao ccxxix."

The Venerable D. R. Thomas, M.A., F.S.A., Archdeacon of Montgomery, has kindly translated this, and has added the note which follows:-

"This year Slesit wrote.
Cydgoric has written ao 229.

"Slesit and Cydgoric appear to be the names of two scribes; though possibly the Article y (the) prefixed to Cydgoric may imply the known Fellow Scholar or Chorister (Cyd cor-ig)-known then but not now- has written it. Slesit is to me a new name."

There is no other entry for this year, and, so far as I can judge, the entry for 229 is in the same hand as this for 218 and many other entries. Whatever may have been the names or distinctions of the scribes, the knowledge of Latin shown by several of them was certainly very limited, nor was their skill even in deciphering the words that they purported to copy much greater. Numbers, genders, and cases are frequently in all but inextricable confusion; many non-existent words are to be found, and it is impossible to suppose that the extracts which go to make up the MS. were accurately copied. Frequently the several syllables of a word are so divided as to show that the scribe had no knowledge of its meaning, but took it for two distinct words, (e.g. the word "manu," in the entry under 1066, has a considerable space between "ma" and "nu"). Several of these cases, where it is difficult to decide what are the words intended, are referred to in the notes.

That the present MS. is not an original is clear. Its extremely corrupt condition sufficiently proves this. But whether it is an imperfect and corrupt copy of some earlier original, or whether it is a series of extracts from several MSS., seems doubtful. The Gastrell MS. is neither a copy of, nor a mere series of extracts from this Mostyn MS., for, although as before stated it does not contain more than a fourth of the contents of the Mostyn MS., yet it includes several considerable and interesting additions thereto. All that is printed in this volume in the Latin text in Italics is taken from the Gastrell MS., and is not to be found in the Mostyn MS. The fact that the Gastrell MS. is much more accurately written would lead to the inference that it was copied from an original that was more correct than the present. Yet it is to be noted that several of the blank spaces to be found in the Mostyn MS. where words are clearly omitted also appear in the Gastrell MS. (see p. 78, containing the entries under the year 1259). Upon the whole, what seems to me the most probable conclusion is, that the person under whose authority the Mostyn MS. was written gave directions for some earlier MS. preserved in the convent (and probably originally compiled under the supervision of the abbot Simon of Whitchurch) to be copied, and that it was intended to make considerable additions thereto from other sources, but that only a portion of these additions were, in fact, made. It would certainly seem as if the Mostyn MS. was based upon an earlier and therefore more trustworthy original than the Gastrell MS., since it neither contains the fable of the foundation of Oxford by Alfred, nor the account of the removal of the remains of S. Werburg from Hanbury to Chester, nor does it contain several other matters referring exclusively to the abbey or church of S. Werburg. The Gastrell MS., there can be little doubt, was copied from a MS. compiled and preserved in the abbey, and devoted to its special glorification and that of its patron saint, and probably based, as to the affairs of the thirteenth century, on the MS. compiled under the direction of Simon of Whitchurch. As the Gastrell MS. is very brief, and as what it contains and what it omits must be equally important points for consideration in any attempt to come to a conclusion as to the age or authority of the Mostyn MS., I have caused it to be printed as an Appendix to this volume, though I have noted as they occur the more important variations in the two MSS.

The Mostyn manuscript is a small folio on paper, the outer covering (which has evidently been originally the cover of some other MS.) being vellum, half of which at the beginning has been cut away, while on that which forms the end is written in large letters "llyver e monach a Caerlleon." Immediately after the cover at the beginning, two vellum leaves follow, with similar ones at the end, which have been taken from a breviary with musical notes. The third leaf is of paper, and contains a list of Councils as follows:-


Antioche in Syria anno domini cccxlvi Antiogenum.
Arminium in Italye anno dni ccclxi Ariminense.
Orleaunce anno dñ viiicxiiij Arelatense.
Baslle in Almayne anno domini mcccxlv Basiliense.
Calcedon in Bithinia anno domini ccccliiij Calcedonense.
Carthage in affricka anno dñi ccccxix Carthaginense.
Constaunce in Helvetia anno dñi ccccxiiij Constantie.
Constantinopoli anno domini viijclxix Constantinopolitanū.
fferaria in Italye anno dñi mccccxxviij fferariense.
Rome in the palace called lateranū ao dñi mccxvj lateranense.
liones in frannce anno dni Mcclxxiij lugdunense.
Necia a citie in bithinia cccxxvij Nicenum."

The fourth leaf (of vellum) has clearly formed part of a book of devotions. On the recto is a drawing of Our Lord rising from the tomb, surrounded with the symbols of the Passion, namely the cross, the crown of thorns, the scourging post, the dice, the sponge, the hammer and nails, and what is probably a vinegar pot, somewhat resembling a pestle and mortar, under which are the following lines:-

"Attendite et videte si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus."

"Vivere qui gaudes consulo disce mori
Mors est nam requies vivere pena, boni"

"Ecce qui transis quia tu michi causa doloris
Qui ultra debui pro te facere quod non feci."

On the verso is a similarly-executed drawing of Our Lord on the Cross, with the Blessed Virgin on one side and S. John on the other. Both these drawings are clearly of the fifteenth century. After this comes the MS. proper.

The annals end on the ninety-first page of the MS., then follow four pages blank, and then a page containing the following in a sixteenth century hand:-

"Hynn sed yn llyver gwyn Ryderch.

12 Ebestyl a gymerassant rannav y byd i bregethu.

Peder a gymerth Rovain.
Andras Achiam.
Iago yr yspayn.
Thomas yr India.
Jeuan yr Asia.
Matheus Macedonia.
Phylip Galileam.
Bartholomeus liconiam.
Symon zelotis Egiptum.
Mathias Judeam.
Iago Brant yr argluyt caerusalem.
Paul a rei ereill ni roded rãnav priant vdunt, namyn pregethu y gyffredin ir pobloed y lle y mynynt.

hyn sy mewn llyver cronicles a scrivenodd John Stowe. (fn. 2)

The holy apostles being dispersed throughout ye whole earthe, dyd deuide prouinces amongest thē by lot to p[rea]che ye gospel in.

Peter undoutedly fyrst at hierusalem yen in Galatia Bithinia with ye higher Asia, Capadocia yn al Italia taught the Gospel.

John in Asia, who ended hys life ther.

To Andrew fel ye p[ro]uinces on ye coast of euxine, all Scithia, Byzans, Macedonia and ye fyrme land of Greece.

Thomas amongest ye parthiãs Indians and the Isle of Tabroban did publish ye Gospel.

An other chose Egypte and libia:

An other the uttermost coastes of the Ocean, wyth the Iles of Britayne."

Then follows another leaf of paper and the two vellum leaves from the breviary before mentioned. On this last paper leaf, and also on the foot of one of the leaves from the breviary, is a series of verses in Welsh, Latin, a mixture of Welsh and Latin, and one in English. I am indebted to the Venerable Archdeacon Thomas for a translation of the Welsh verses, and for the following description of them:-

"Ten verses appear to be a love song with a moral to console the bard for his disappointment, three seem to be imitations in English, Latin, and Latin and Welsh combined, of the Welsh metre of the Pennillion with its peculiar recurrence of rhythm; the motive is the same as that of the ten first mentioned, and it appears, from a comparison of them with the long Welsh love song, that the young lady's name was Gwen, and that her residence was Trefwlen. There is a township and an ancient house called Trefalun in Gresford parish. The two other verses appear to be independent epigrams in the same metre upon set subjects."

With regard to the sources of the Annals, a large part of the entries, especially those referring to the abbey of S. Werburg and to the city of Chester, and nearly the whole of those in and subsequent to 1250, that is to say, for the last half century of the Annals, are original, in this sense, that they record events, however wanting in interest or importance, which are known to us only from this and the Gastrell MS., and are not, so far as I know, taken from any existing source. With regard to other entries, I have from time to time, in the notes, referred to parallel statements and passages in other chronicles. For many entries either the Polychronicon of Ranulph Higden, himself, it will be remembered, a monk of the abbey of Chester, is the source, (fn. 3) or, what is, I think, more probable, Higden and the compiler of this MS. have gone to some earlier MS., possibly to the Cottonian MS., Otho, B. iii., which it seems likely was preserved in the abbey. For a certain number of matters, the series of chronicles now generally cited from their latest editor and continuer, as Matthew Paris, seem to be the authority, and for others, the several chronicles included in the Annales Monastici, especially the Annals of Waverley and of Worcester. Of the earlier entries it is difficult even to suggest whence they were taken, since they are similar to those found in many early chronicles. It will however be noticed, that in several cases the same event is twice recorded under different dates, showing that the compiler either of this MS. or of that from which it is copied, had carelessly inserted these double accounts. (fn. 4) Up to the year 1078 a considerable number of entries are devoted either to the archbishops of Rouen or to other matters relating to Normandy and France; but these almost entirely cease about the time of the foundation by S. Anselm of the abbey of S. Werburg, and I have suggested in the note to p. 16, that it is probable that the first abbot brought with him from Normandy to Chester, a Rouen chronicle, from which the entries relating to the archbishops of Rouen and to other Continental matters were made. Whether owing to the compilers or scribes being Welshmen, or to the fact that Welsh matters were of supreme interest to the abbey of Chester, situate as it was upon the Welsh borders, a considerable number of entries relate to Welsh affairs. Many of these, if not taken from the Annales Cambriæ, have a common origin with that work, though others record transactions not elsewhere to be found. The proper names are generally written as they would be by a Welshman rather than by an Englishman.

The Indictions are given, though not always accurately, in the margin, beginning with the year 12, and extending to the year 1166, after which they are unnoticed. The Chronicle commences with the birth of our Lord, the first year of the sixth age of the world; it ends in 1297 with the record of King Edward having crossed to Flanders. At the suggestion of Mr. Earwaker, I have added a translation of the Chronicle, inserting occasionally within brackets some explanations and additions which seemed useful, or which, at least, will make the reading more convenient. Of much of the work a translation is unnecessary; but of other parts, especially with these insertions, it saves the necessity of explanatory notes, of which no more are given than seemed to be absolutely required.

It seems probable, as suggested by Dr. Ormerod, that this Chronicle was composed by Simon of Whitchurch, or under his direction. "The supposed author (or director)," he says, "was a zealous supporter of Simon de Montfort, whom the Chronicle also decidedly favours. It must be left to conjecture, whether he derives his name from Oswestry (Album Monasterium) as a place of nativity, or whether he was a cadet of the family 'de Albo Monasterio' or Blanchminster, who were at this time connected with Cheshire." But, notwithstanding this statement (vol. i. p. 252, second edition), which was an addendum to the original work, in the text Dr. Ormerod translates the name of this abbot as Simon of Whitchurch, and in this I have followed him.

A large part of the MS., and that the most interesting, is devoted to the affairs of the abbey of Chester during the thirteenth century. Most of this portion is to be found in the Gastrell MS., and was extracted therefrom by Dr. Ormerod, and has appeared in the two editions of his History of Cheshire. Many of these entries would be of special interest if they now appeared for the first time; but, in addition to these extracts which have already been printed, the Chronicle gives us dates of several more or less important matters, and is a confirmation of other authorities on some doubtful events, especially the dates of the consecrations and deaths of several bishops. It points out in detail the misfortunes which befell those sacrilegious persons who attacked the abbey or its possessions, as well as others who, like the great earl Marshal and his family, had given just cause of offence to the ecclesiastical powers. The strong sympathy with Simon de Montfort, and the cautious way in which this is allowed to appear, is a special point of interest. The Chronicle is also an independent and important authority for the belief that during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of the great diocese which included Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire, the greater part of Lancashire, and half of Shropshire, were indifferently styled bishops of Chester, of Coventry, and of Lichfield. King, in his Vale Royal, gives all the authorities that he was able to find for these prelates being styled bishops of Chester, but has not noticed these Annals, which confirm those of our early chroniclers who give them this title. The entry under the year 789 is not without interest, as showing at least the prevalent belief that the excessive drinking of our Saxon forefathers was taught them by the Danes. It will, however, be noted that this entry is taken from the Gastrell MS., and is not to be found in that of Mostyn.

But perhaps the most interesting, and, in the eyes of all Cheshire antiquaries and genealogists, the most important matter in this Chronicle is the light which it throws on that bitterly-debated point, the age of Hugh Kyveliock, earl of Chester, and consequently on the question of the legitimacy of his daughter Amicia, wife of Ralph Mainwaring. It is strange that none of those who have discussed this question have referred to these Annals, in which the date of the birth of earl Hugh is authoritatively stated. The assumption of sir Thomas Mainwaring, in his defence of the legitimacy of Amicia, on which he insists over and over again, is that earl Hugh must have been at least forty-one years of age at the time of his marriage with his countess Bertrada, and that it is in the highest degree improbable that a person of his rank and importance should, in those times, have remained a bachelor until that age; that therefore the strong presumption is that he had married before and was a widower when he married Bertrada. Sir Peter Leycester, on the other hand, from various facts, though not upon any positive contemporary authority, comes to what it now appears is the true conclusion, that earl Hugh was not more than six or seven years of age at the death of his father in 1153, and consequently not more than twenty-two at the time of his marriage with Bertrada. But neither of them could ascertain with certainty the date either of his birth or of his marriage, nor was Mr. Beamont, who edited the Tracts on the Amicia Controversy for the Chetham Society, more fortunate. He indeed concludes that there is a strong presumption that the earl was born in or about the year 1129, and consequently that he was more than forty years old when he married Bertrada, and he thinks that certain dates given by him "show to an absolute certainty that, when he married Bertred, his daughter Amicia was of marriageable years, and was then given in marriage to Ralph Mainwaring" (Amicia Tracts, Introd. i. lxxiii). We have in these Annals a distinct and early authority that Hugh Kyveliock was born in 1147, and that he was married in 1169, then being only twenty-two years of age. It is in the highest degree improbable that the chronicler, who has so carefully noted his birth, his knighthood, and his marriage with Bertrada, should have omitted his previous marriage, if any such had taken place. But in no case could he possibly have had a daughter, legitimate or illegitimate, of marriageable years, at the date of his marriage with Bertrada. (fn. 5)

It may also be noted that anything like contemporary evidence of the parentage of the countess Bertrada has hitherto been sought in vain. "Among the old chroniclers," says Mr. Beamont, "there is an altum silentium as to Bertred, the mother of earl Hugh's heir." Her father is indeed called Simon, count of Evereux, in Vincent's "Discovery of Errours in the catalogue of Nobility, published by Ralph Brooke," but no authority is quoted.

The earliest reference that I have been able to find to any book or manuscript with the title Annales Cestrienses, or Cestrensis, is in the Anglia Sacra of Wharton (1691). In a note (1) to Thomas of Chesterfield's History of the bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, part i. p. 435, Wharton writes as follows:-"Richardus Peche seu Peccatum . . . . obiit 1182 6 Octobris feria 4 fide Annalium Ecclesiæ S. Werburgæ Cestrensis"; and on the same page, note (m), in reference to the death of Gerard Puella on 13 January 1184, he says, "Obituarium Cant. et Annales Cestrenses fidem faciunt." In the Addenda et Emenda, p. 804, are the following entries:-

"p. 439. Hugo de Pateshul intronizatus est 1240 21 Sept. fide Annalium Cestrensium.

"p. 440. lin. ult. Obitum Roger Meyland à nobis positum dedit Thomas Chesterfeld, sepulturam Annales Wigornenses. Annales autem Cestrenses obitum illius 1295. 11 Dec. reponunt."

These are all the references that I have noticed in the Anglia Sacra, and Wharton gives no information as to what these Annales are, or where they are to be found. All the four extracts, however, are to be found as well in the Mostyn as in the Gastrell MS. But these extracts do not represent the whole of Wharton's references to the Annales Cestrenses. In the Diptycha of Bishop Kennett two columns are devoted to the abbots of Chester; the first contains only extracts from the Mostyn MS.; the second is headed "Series Abbatum S. Werburgæ Cestrensis per Henr. Whartonum, MS. R.," and the first part of it until the year 1292 is as follows:-

"Hugo Comes Cestriæ et Ermentrude uxor monasterium Cestriæ in honorem S. Werburge fundaverunt, 1093. Reg. Cestr. Faustina B. 8. anno 1094. Annal. Cestr. Otho, B. 3.

"Ricardus Monachus Beccensis Abbas primus ab Anselmo (rogatu Hugonis) constitutus Abbas, 1094. Obiit 1117. Annal. Cestr.

"Willelmus fit Abbas 1121. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1140 3 non. Oct. ibid.

"Radulfus succ. 1141, 11 Cal. Febr. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1157. ib.

"Robertus benedictus apud Lichfield 1157 die S. Nicolai. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1174. 31 Jan.

"Robertus II. electus 1175. die 3. Werberga sid. 3 Non. Febr. benedicitur in Eccl'ia St. Joħis apud Cestriam die S. Agathæ. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1184 2 Cal. Sept. ib.

"Robertus de Hasting fit Abbas per bienni vacationem 1186. Annal. Cestr. depositus ab Huberto Archepo. 1194. pensionem annum 20 marcarum recepit.

"G . . . . post diuturnam litem ejecto Roberto substitutus est 1194. Annal. Cestr.

"Hugo Abbas 1214 installatus 1214. 3 Cal. Apr. die Pasche obiit 1226. die S. Mariæ Magdal.

"Willelmus electus 1226. Dominica post Festum S. Jacobi et prox. die Martis benedictus ab Episcopo Cestriensi Eccl'ia S. Joħis Cestriæ Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1228. ibid.

"Walterus successit 1228. Obiit 1240. Annal. Cestr.

"Rogerus Frend benedictus 1240 die S. Matthæi. Obiit 1249. Annal. Cestr.

"Thomas de Capenhurst loci Prior successit 1249. Annal. Cestr. Superfuit anno 1272. Placita Parl. Rileii, p. 97.

"Simon obiit paulo ante initium anni 1292. Placita Parliam. Rileii, p. 96.

"Thomas successit et a Rege in Parliamento 1292, decerni obtinuit, ut juxta morem antiquem Rex nil de exitibus Abbatiæ Cestrensis vacantis perciperet. Placit: Parl. Rileii, P. 96."

The next entry refers to Thomas Esdale, abbot in 1434, thus passing over nearly a century and a half. Now, the points to be specially noted in these extracts, so far as they affect our Annals, are that in the first entry the reference to the Annales is to Otho, B. iii.; secondly, that all the entries for which Annal. Cestr. are cited as the authority, are identical with those in the Mostyn MS. and the Gastrell MS., with the following exceptions:-One entry-that relating to the date of the death of Richard, first abbot, in 1117-is contained in the Gastrell but not in the Mostyn MS. (though in the Gastrell MS. the date is given as 1116); while, in the entry relating to the election of William Marmion in the same year, our two MSS. give merely the year, and neither the day of his election, nor any reference to his receiving the benediction. The last point to be noted is that for the death of the abbot Simon of Whitchurch, Wharton does not cite the Annales Cestr., but refers only to the Placita Parliam ., thus clearly implying that he was acquainted neither with the Mostyn MS. nor with that of which the Gastrell is a copy, each of which, though not quite consistently, records the death of the abbot Simon with the date. A further point to be noticed is, that no authority is cited for the entry relating to the installation of Hugh Grylle in 1214 and his death in 1226. Neither the Mostyn nor the Gastrell MS. mentions his installation, and, though both give 1226 as the date of his death, neither states the day on which it took place. I can draw no other inference from these entries than that Wharton had examined Otho, B. iii., and had taken the facts which he states (including those relating to Hugh Grylle) from the Annales which formed the first article in that MS. volume. The reference in the case of Hugh Grylle was probably accidentally omitted.

In 1696 Dr. Thomas Smith printed his Catalogus Librorum Manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Cottonianæ (which also forms part of the Catalogi Librorum MSS., published at Oxford in 1697); and in his account of the several MSS. constituting Otho B. iii., the first article is as follows:-

"Annales a Christo nato ad annum C. 1255, in quibus multa de rebus Angliæ adnotantur, præsertim post adventum Normannorum in Angliam; et versus finem de obsidione Cestriæ, et de prælio ibidem, et de gestis Ranulfi Comitis de Cestria."

This description does not seem to apply to a MS. of our Annals, of which nearly half, and all the most important and interesting part, is after the year 1255. Nor do our Annals before 1255 give any account of a siege of Chester, or of a battle fought there, though in 1265 there is a brief notice of the siege of the castle of Chester by prince Edward, and of its subsequent surrender. But, in addition to the identity of several of the extracts before cited from Wharton with several of those in our Annals, the ground for connecting these Annals with those now printed is to be found in a reference in Le Neve's Fasti (1716) among the authorities for the notice of Ralph of Maidstone, bishop of Hereford.

Le Neve published his Fasti in 1716. I have only been able to find one reference to our Chronicle, namely (pp. 108-9), in this account of Ralph de Maydenstune, bishop of Hereford, who, Le Neve says, "had the king's consent to his election, Sep. 30, 1234, was consecrated 2 Id. Nov. (12) following, and 16 Cal. Jan. (Dec. 17), 1239, he voluntarily quitted his charge and took on him the habit of a Franciscan Fryar at Oxford. He lived afterwards the monastic life at Gloucester for the space of five years, and then dying was buried there. Pat. 18 H. 3 m 3. Chron. Cestrens.,MS. Cotton. Otho, B. 3. Mat. Westm. Godw., p. 456." The question that immediately interests us is, what part of this statement rests upon the Chronicon Cestrense? Matthew of Westminster merely mentions Ralph of Maidstone's consecration in 1234 by Archbishop Edmund. Godwin states his consecration in 1234, his resignation in 1239, and all that follows in Le Neve after the word "voluntarily." The Patent Rolls of 18 Henry III. deal only with the year 1234, and there therefore remains the day of the resignation, 16 Cal. Jan., for which there is no authority except the MS. Chron. Cestrens. Now, in the Mostyn MS. it will be noticed under the year 1234 the year and day of Ralph of Maidstone's consecration are both given, as stated by Le Neve, and the inference certainly would be that the MS. Otho, B. iii., from which Le Neve quoted, contained not only entries relating to Ralph of Maidstone as contained in the Mostyn MS., but a further entry giving the day of his resignation.

In Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy's edition of Le Neve (3 vols., 1854), under Ralph of Maidstone (i. p. 459), after giving the date of the bishop's consecration as 12 November 1234, the editor states in a note that Ralph was consecrated "4 November, prid. non. Nov. 1234," and cites as his authority "Annales Cestrens.," then a few lines further on for the burial of the bishop he cites together with Matthew of Westminster, "Chron. Cestrens. MS., Cott. Otho, B. iii." This latter reference is, as we have seen, that of the original Le Neve, but what authority Sir T. D. Hardy had for giving the "Annales Cestrens." as the authority for the consecration of Ralph of Maidstone, and the "Chron. Cestrens," for his burial, I do not know, since I have not met with any references for any matter relating to Ralph of Maidstone, except those in the original Le Neve to the "Annales" or "Chronicon," and I imagine, like most references in Hardy's edition, if it is not a mere guess based upon the original statement in Le Neve, it is taken second-hand from some other printed book. Two other references to these Annals are given by Sir T. D Hardy, namely, those relating to Richard Peche, which is stated to be taken from the Anglia Sacra, and that for the burial of Roger de Meulan, for which Hardy is also clearly indebted to the Anglia Sacra, though this work is not referred to.

Bishop Kennett died in 1728. In his MS. Diptycha (Brit. Mus., Lansdowne MSS. 935) is contained the earliest mention that I have found of the Mostyn MS., which, as before stated, he says was then at Gloddaeth "penes D. Tho. Mostyn Baronettum." The page containing the references to the abbots of Chester is 154 b, the first column of which consists of fifteen extracts from the Mostyn MS., relating exclusively to the succession of the abbots of Chester, with dates, each extract being also contained in the Gastrell MS. The second column, as before stated (p. xix), comprises extracts from a manuscript of H. Wharton. In that part of the Diptycha in which Kennett gives a list of the bishops of Coventry and Lichfield, he has also a reference to the Annales Cestrenses for the date of the death of Richard Peche in 1182, while he notices the consecration of Alexander of Stavensby in 1224 in the following words, "Consecratus est magis. Alexander de Stavensby in Epm. Cov. a dno. papa Honorio et venit Lichfeldium in translationem beati Benedicti." -Chron. Cestrens. MS. Cotton. Otho, B. iii. It will be observed that this entry is not in the words of the entry in the Mostyn MS., which contains no reference to the arrival of Alexander at Lichfield.

In 1731 the fire took place in Ashburnham House, where the Cottonian Library was then lodged, and Otho, B. iii. formed one of the 114 MSS. reported as burnt or entirely spoiled. The fragments of Otho, B. iii., of which the earlier parts are to me wholly illegible, and the latter parts mostly so, have been inserted and mounted in a volume now at the Museum, and called Otho, B. iii.

Mr. E. Maunde Thompson has most kindly examined the fragments and compared them with the proof-sheets of these Annales Cestrienses. He writes to me as follows:-"Only two of the leaves of Otho, B. iii., as it now stands, are attributed to article I. of Smith's Catalogue. They are both defaced, and only here and there can a passage be read. One has a hole burnt out of the middle. But there is enough to show (by the rubrics particularly) that it was a much fuller chronicle than your Annals; in fact, a chronicle or continuous narrative, and not mere annals. The two works appear to be totally different. The MS. is of the 14th century."

The seventh article in Otho, B. iii., is described by Dr. Smith as:-

"Annales acephali, qui incipiunt ab anno 1195 continuati ad annum 1307 . . . inseruntur . . . et inquisitiones in Concilio Provinciali tractandæ, et multa quoque de rebus Londinensium, et circa id temporis multa ordinationes factæ."

On folio 8 of the fragments is written in black lead, "Vide Add. MSS. 5444. On reference to this MS. it appears to be a copy of these Annales Acephali, and the following note is written at the beginning:-

"Transcribed from the Cotton. Library before the fire [1731] for the use of John Bridges, Esq. The original perished in ye flames, it seems to have been a sort of chronicle or register of the more remarkable transactions of ye kingdom kept by the Town Clerk or registr. of the City of London, and to have had many of the particulars entered at the very time they happened."

It seems clear that these Annales Acephali have no connection with the Annales Cestrienses.

In 1771 Dr. Foote Gower printed A Sketch of the Materials for a New History of Cheshire (London, 4to), a second edition of which appeared in 1773, and a third, after the author's death, was given by Dr. William Latham in 1800. In this Sketch, after giving an account of the Red Book containing the evidences, endowments, gifts, legal proceedings, etc., of the Abbey of S. Werburg, Dr. Gower (p. 15) proceeds:-

"Partly coëval with this record is a remarkable manuscript frequently quoted under the Title of Annales Cestrienses or the Chester Annal . The Author of this Manuscript is unknown. It consists of Annals from the Birth of Christ to the year 1255, and particularly recites many Historical circumstances relative to Chester, with the renowned Acts of its Great Monarch, the famous Earl Randal."

From the resemblance of the two descriptions it seems certain that Dr. Gower refers to a MS. of the same Annals as formerly (according to Dr. Smith's Catalogue), formed the first article of Otho, B. iii.

From a subsequent "summary view of those Manuscripts which are either at present in my possession or which I have been favoured with the obligation of a promise" (p. 83), it would seem that "the most material part of the Chester Annals" was then in Dr. Gower's possession. On the following page (84) the author says, "The following Manuscripts have not been mentioned in the preceding Sketch of Materials because the Authors and Collectors of them were equally unknown. But I am sufficiently happy either in the Promise or Possession of them." Article 12 is "A Transcript in a large Folio volume of Miscellaneous Articles under the following titles"; the fifth of these is "Extracts from the Chronicles of the Abbey of St. Werburgh." It is much to be regretted that Dr. Gower affords no information as to where the MS. of the "Annales Cestrienses" then was, or from whom he obtained "the most material parts of these Annals" or the "Extracts from the Chronicles of the Abbey of St. Werburgh." (fn. 6) The fact that the renowned acts of the famous Earl Randle are specially mentioned as though they formed a principal part of the "Annales Cestrienses" would seem to imply that these "Annales" must have contained much more about this person than we find in the Mostyn MS.

In addition to the volume now styled Otho, B. iii., which, as I have said, contains such fragments as remain of the original volume under this title, there is in the Cottonian MSS. a volume marked Otho, B. iii.* It contains simply a partially burnt MS. of the first five books of the Scotichronicon of Johannes de Fordun (or an abridgment thereof), having no connection with any of the articles described by Dr. Smith in his account of the original Otho, B. iii. In the beginning is written the following note:-

"This volume is not the original Otho, B. iii. as described by Dr. Smith in his Catalogue of 1696, and in the Report of 1732 after the fire, but was substituted in its place by Planta.-F. M. [i.e. Sir Frederick Madden], July 1866."

Dr. Ormerod in his History of Cheshire (new edit., p. 252), has fallen into some confusion between Dr. Gower's Sketch and the Cottonian MS. Otho, B. iii. He remarks that

"The description of the Annales Cestrienses mentioned in Dr. Gower's prospectus as a remarkable MS. consisting of annals from the birth of Christ to 1255, and reciting the renowned Acts of Earl Blundeville, appears to be taken from Smith's Catalogue of the Cotton MSS. Otho, B. iii., with which it coincides. This MS., if it ever existed, was obviously a different work from the Annales; but it was one of the MSS. which were nearly destroyed by fire, and the burnt fragments which remain in the case referred to are part of a copy of an abridgment of Fordun, incidentally noticing the connexion of the Earls of Chester with the Royal family of Scotland in the person of the last Earl."

It is quite clear that Dr. Ormerod did not know of the existence of the existence of the MS. now called Otho, B. iii., but that he had referred to Otho, B. iii.*-(the fragments of Fordun) -and was not aware that they had been substituted by Planta for the fragments of the original MS. which when Dr. Ormerod wrote had not been mounted in their present volume.

In the preceding pages I have stated all the facts known to me that have any bearing on the question of the relation between the Cottonian MS. Otho, B. iii. and the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS. It seems to me clear that Wharton personally consulted Otho, B. iii., and that the references to the "Annales Cestrenses," given in the extracts from his MS. contained in the Diptycha, were taken actually by him from that MS. It seems probable also that Le Neve had consulted this MS. in reference to Ralph of Maidstone; but, although it was certainly possible for Bishop Kennett to have done so, and although his entry relating to Alexander de Stavensby no doubt came from this MS. as he states, yet I incline strongly to think that he had no personal acquaintance with the MS., and that, like the extracts relating to the abbots of Chester, that relating to Alexander of Stavensby was taken from the MS. of Wharton. (fn. 7) Had Kennett actually examined and made extracts from the MS. itself, he would not have given the extracts as merely from the MS. of Wharton, and he could not have failed to make some reference to the resemblance or the differences between the Mostyn MS., which he had certainly examined, and Otho, B. iii. It results from the comparisons I have made of Wharton's references and extracts, with the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS., and from Mr. Thompson's examination of the existing fragments of Otho, B. iii., that the first article of this MS. contained much that is to be found in our two MSS., at least before 1255, but that it also contained much additional matter, and was in a narrative form and not in that of annals, and that it did not contain the entry relating to the death of Simon of Whitchurch and to Thomas de Lythelas, which we find though with a difference of date in both the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS. I have stated in a note to p. 117 that these entries in the Mostyn MS. are in a small hand, different from the other entries in the same year, and the ground on which I infer that they are not to be found in Otho, B. iii., is, that Wharton can only refer for his authority as to the death of Simon of Whitchurch to the Placita Parl. The probable conclusion seems to be that the first article of Otho, B. iii., was the original (or a copy of an earlier original) compiled and preserved in the abbey of Chester, from which many of the entries in the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS. relating to events before 1255 were copied, and that the subsequent entries, and probably the whole of the MS. of which the Mostyn MS. is a copy, were made and compiled under the direction of Simon of Whitchurch and completed after his death.

How best and most exactly to print a Latin MS. full of abbreviations and errors is a matter of some doubt, and one upon which opinions differ. The course that I have adopted has been to correct without notice all obvious blunders in matters of Orthography and Syntax, and in like manner to extend all those abbreviations where the extension is clearly free from doubt. On the other hand, wherever the word or the construction has seemed in the slightest degree doubtful, I have either printed in the text or in a note the words with the abbreviations exactly as they are in the MS. In like manner, with regard to the proper names, where these are ordinary Christian names, or where, in the case of a surname or a title, the extension of the abbreviation is obvious, I have so extended it, but in all other cases the name is printed exactly as it appears in the MS., (fn. 8) with, in some cases, the addition of a few letters in square brackets. All that appears within square brackets in the Latin text is not to be found in the MS., but must be taken to be the editor's conjecture. The portions of the English which are in square brackets are not represented by any words in the original Latin text, but are added either for the purpose of completing the sentence or of giving some necessary explanation. The entries in the Latin text, printed in italics, are not to be found in the Mostyn MS., but are taken from that of Bishop Gastrell appended to the Notitia.

In citations from and references to the Chronicles which have appeared in the Rolls Series, those editions are always referred to except when otherwise stated; and the references to Le Neve are to the edition in three volumes, edited by Sir T. Duffus Hardy, Oxford, 1854. When "Wharton" is referred to, the citation is from the extracts from the Wharton MS. contained in the Diptycha (see ante, pp. v, xix).

In all mediæval works, the chronology of the first three months of the year is doubtful, and not unfrequently a source of confusion. So far as I can judge, the writer of this Chronicle treats the year as beginning with the 1st of April, and the events which he records in, for instance, 1250, begin with the first of April in that year, and end with the 31st of March, 1251, new style. In a few cases, where there seemed any possibility of confusion, I have inserted the date with N.S. appended thereto. The days of the month are noted according to the Roman Calendar in Calends, Nones, and Ides, and, though in general the chronicler appears to have reckoned these in their ordinary and retrograde order, yet in some cases he appears to have reckoned them in direct order. Thus the death of Thomas of Capenhurst is recorded on iiii Cal. Maii, though the 17th of April, and not the 27th, is the day intended (see pp. 92, 93, note 2).

My thanks in the first place are due to Lord Mostyn for his kindness in intrusting me with the original MS. and in permitting the same to be printed. I have also to thank Mr. J. P. Earwaker, F.S.A., for much valuable assistance; Mr. E. Maunde Thompson for examining and reporting on Otho, B. iii.; and the venerable Archdeacon Thomas for his account and translation of the Welsh verses before referred to.

To the Bishop of Chester I and the readers of this volume are under special obligations. I was unwilling to undertake a work for which I felt far from qualified, and for which my previous studies had not specially prepared me, and I only consented to the wish of the Council upon the Bishop's kind assurance that he would afford me his assistance, an assurance which he has more than fulfilled. He has been good enough to read the whole of the proofs, has corrected many errors into which I had fallen, owing to my want of familiarity with mediæval MSS. and mediæval Latin, and has made many valuable suggestions of which I have availed myself. Although Bishop Stubbs must not be held responsible for anything contained in this volume, yet it is indebted to him for much that it possesses of value and interest.

The Index has been compiled by Mr. John Cree, who has also rendered much further assistance in the preparation of the volume.


June 3, 1887.


1 History of Cheshire, new edit., vol. i. p. 252. Most of the extracts from the Gastrell MS. (referred to as Chron. S. Werb. MS.) will be found in vol. i. pp. 230, 231, 250, 251.
2 "This was in the book of Gwyn Ryderch. The 12 Apostles took parts of the world to preach, Peter took Rome. Andrew [took] Achaia. James [took] Spain. Thomas [took] India. John [took] Asia. Matthew [took] Macedonia. Philip [took] Galilee. Bartholomew [took] Lycaonia. Simon Zelotes [took] Egypt. Matthias [took] Judea. James [took] the privileged [place of the Lord] Jerusalem. To Paul and others no particular parts were given, but they preached to the people in general where they would. This is in the book of Chronicles written by John Stowe."
Mr. Earwaker has kindly had this translation made.
3 Compare entries in these Annals under the years 1160, 1162, 1188, 1258, 1259, 1264, 1268, 1269, and 1282 with the Polychronicon under the same dates.
4 See the entries respecting the conversion of king Lucius under the years 166 and 188; those respecting the emperor Philip under the years 230 and 246; and respecting S. Augustine of Hippo under 424 and 470.
5 I confess I have entirely failed to find any evidence for the statement that, when Hugh married Bertrada, Amicia was given in marriage to Ralph Mainwaring, or was of marriageable years. The only evidence for the date of the marriage of Amicia seems to be the deed by which the Earl made his celebrated gift in frank marriage (Amicia Tracts, pp. 19 and 449); but this deed is undated, and "R. abbot of Chester," who witnessed it, may have been any abbot between 1140 and 1184, during which time three abbots with this initial governed the Abbey of Chester. To discuss the question of the legitimacy of Amicia here would be altogether out of place, but certainly the dates given in these Annals cut the ground from under one of the assumptions which all those have adopted who have maintained that Amicia was legitimate, and contribute materially to strengthen the case of Sir Peter Leycester.
6 I am indebted to Mr. Earwaker for the following note:-"Dr. Foote Gower's MSS. passed into the possession of Dr. William Latham, and from him to Dr. John Wilkinson, F.R.S. On the latter's death his library was sold by Sotheby on Oct. 27, 1819, and three following days. The sale catalogue, a copy of which is in the Bodleian Library (Catalogues 89, 1817-1820), includes all Dr. Foote Gower's MSS., &c., entitled 'The very extensive and valuable materials, both manuscript and printed, collected by the late Dr. Gower, for a new and complete History of Cheshire, &c.' I have a copy of all the items, and there is nothing which can be identified in any way with the copy of the Annales Cestrienses, to which he refers in his Prospectus. I have also two transcripts of a Catalogue of Dr. Gower's MSS., which I met with among the Gough MSS. in the Bodleian Library, and there is nothing in either of these which can relate to the Annales. Many of the volumes were in folio, and contained miscellaneous collections for the proposed history, and among these it is just possible that the Annales may occur, but I do not think it is likely. Many of Gower's MSS. were purchased by the British Museum and by the Bodleian, and I think I may say I have examined most, if not all of these, and I have no recollection of seeing anything at all relating to the Annales, or anything like it. Dr. Gower made the most of his collections, and the statements in his Prospectus require to be received with caution."
7 A diligent search among the Wharton MSS. preserved at Lambeth might result in the discovery of further extracts from Otho, B. iii.
8 Certain obvious errors, e.g., Oxoniæ and Oxoniensis, where (the Bishop of) Exeter is clearly intended, have been corrected sub silentio.