The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.
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CHAPTER IV - THE THIRTEENTH CENTURY
Here 1201, here 1206.
The first reference to a prior by name, after Prior Roger, occurs in the Curia Regis Rolls in the year 1201, where there is an entry, which translated reads:
'Richard the prior of St. Bartholomew's puts in his place Andrew his canon against Henry del More concerning a plea of warrant of charter.' (fn. 1)
Richard may have been prior many years before this, and, judging from his activity in the interests of the monastery, it is quite probable that it was he who, as just recorded, claimed the view of frankpledge in the year 1194. He may too have continued, for all we know to the contrary, until G. of Osney was elected in 1213, but he does not appear in the records by name, so far as we have been able to discover, after the year 1206. The following deed should help, but, unfortunately, like so many others, it is undated.
Translated from the Latin it reads: (fn. 2)
'Richard the prior and the convent of the church of St. Bartholomew London to all the sons of Holy Mother Church: be it known that we have conceded and by this our charter we have confirmed to the present and future brethren of our hospital house that tenement which Roger Punchenall gave to our church in frankalmoyne to wit that tenement which John Bucuinte held of us to have and to hold to himself of our church for ever paying to us rent four shillings per annum at the feast of St. Michael and the other half at Easter, of which are witnesses Henry the Mayor of London (Henry FitzAilwin, mayor 1189–1212); Roger son of Alan (sheriff 1193) (fn. 3); Robert le Bel (sheriff 1198) (fn. 4); William son of Sabelina (William FitzIsabel, sheriff 1194); John Bucuinte (sheriff 1191); Ernulf son of Alulf (Arnold FitzArnold, sheriff 1199); Thomas, Alderman; Michael de Valentin; John the Burgundian; Gilbert Waldine; Richard son of Roger Punchenall; Nicholas and Peter his brothers; Ralph the bedell.'
It will be seen that none of these names fixes a date, other than showing that it was between the years 1189 and 1212, when Henry FitzAilwin was mayor; for it is not stated if any of the men who follow were sheriffs at the time of witnessing. (fn. 5) The same prior gave his consent to a grant of land by the master and brethren of the hospital to the prior and convent of Sempringham, but here again there is no date given. (fn. 6)
In the year 1202, Richard is mentioned by name as prior in the Middlesex fines, (fn. 7) when he was represented again by Andrew his canon. He was the defendant in the collusive or mock action regarding a virgate of land in Heggwere (Edgware) which Humphrey Bucuinte released to him for two marks of silver. He is also mentioned by name in the Buckingham fines in the same year (1202), (fn. 8) and also in the year 1206. (fn. 9) In the first instance Roger de Argenton and Matilda his wife granted 'Richard the Prior' and convent the advowson of a moiety of the church of Mentmore, (fn. 10) in consideration of which the prior and convent admitted them to all benefits and prayers in the church of St. Bartholomew. In the second instance the same man and his wife granted to 'Prior Richard' and the convent, represented by Andrew the canon, a rent charge of 2s. on a virgate of land in Mentmore. (fn. 11) (This seems to be the gist of the long and complicated collusive action.)
The same Andrew the canon appears as attorney for the Prior of St. Bartholomew's against the same Roger de Argenton in the Curia Regis Rolls (fn. 12) concerning a plea of land, but the prior's name is not given, neither is the entry dated.
It was certainly within the years of Richard's priorate that a charter of confirmation was obtained from King John; for it was sealed at Brill on December 29, in his fifth year (1203). (fn. 13) By it the king takes the church and canons under his protection and confirms the charters of Henry I and Henry II. He orders that the hospital shall be in the disposition, rule and governance of the prior and convent of his 'demesne chapel', as they were at the time when 'Rahere the first prior founded it'. And he goes on to say:
'If any one shall intend to withdraw the hospital house from the church and rule of the prior and canons, he shall be subject to the royal prerogative and it shall be done unto him as unto one who shall intend to diminish the liberty of our crown.'
Which reads like a counterblast to the letters of Popes Lucius III and Celestinus III. (fn. 14)
He confirms all the possessions (without enumerating them) and again forbids the prior and convent from being set to plead concerning any of their tenements, save in the King's Bench. (There are many entries of such pleading in this court, but the want of even an ordinary index of names and places mentioned in these early Curia Regis. Rolls renders a thorough search impracticable, except at great cost. (fn. 15) )
The witnesses to this charter were (fn. 16) G(eoffrey) son of Peter, Earl of Essex (one of the judges while King Richard was on crusade, and who did much to secure the succession of King John); W(illiam) Marshall, Earl of Pembroke (who did great service in the crusades and was regent in 1216); Hugh de Nevill (who also went to the crusade with Richard I); Robert de Vieuxpont, baron of Westmorland (who supported King John against the barons); William Brewer (another of the justices left by King Richard; he was one of John's evil advisers who, in the year 1213, sealed the charter surrendering the crown and the kingdom to Pope Innocent III); Peter de Stok and Geoffrey de Lucy.
SECOND HIATUS IN THE NAMES OF THE PRIORS
The prior of this period had to deal with the circumstances arising out of the great interdict of Pope Innocent III, which lasted for six years from the 24th March, 1208, to the 2nd July, 1214. It was promulgated, as is well known, in consequence of King John refusing to accept the appointment of Stephen Langton as Archbishop of Canterbury. It was pronounced by William of St. Mary Church, Bishop of London, and other bishops, who then fled the kingdom. Under the interdict all rites of the church were suspended; no bells or tapers were allowed; nor any services in the churches. The churchyards were closed and the dead interred in unconsecrated ground without a service. Baptisms were permitted and confessions of the dying; also prayers and sermons in churchyards on Sundays and marriages at the church doors. Dean Milman says no privileges were granted to monasteries, but there are indications that it was otherwise here, for Pope Lucius III, in a letter to the hospital in the year 1183, (fn. 17) says that 'should there be a general interdict the brethren may nevertheless celebrate the divine offices in a low voice but with closed doors, without ringing of bells or admission of excommunicated people'. In fact the following ordinance of the Bishop of London, probably made during the brief time that he was in England in the year 1209, expressly states that those dying in the hospital were to be buried as usual during the interdict. As the last clause in the ordinance shows a desire to prevent a quarrel between the church and the hospital, we can hardly doubt that the same privileges were accorded to the canons as to the brethren.
There is a Latin transcript of this ordinance in the hospital cartulary, (fn. 18) which translated reads as follows:
'William by the grace of God Bishop of London to all the sons of Holy Mother Church throughout the bishopric of London greeting in the author of salvation for ever. When lately a general sentence of interdict had been promulgated by apostolic order throughout all England to the effect that it should be nowhere lawful to deliver the bodies of the dead to Christian burial as was customary, notable men and our well-beloved sons in Christ H. the mayor (fn. 19) and the citizens of London requested our well-beloved sons the prior and canons of St. Bartholomew's and the proctor and brethren of the hospital of the same to allow to them a certain plot adjoining the hospital of St. Bartholomew on the eastern side for the public burial of their dead; and the said canons and also the brethren aforesaid, listening to their pious petition and at the same time having regard to their plea of the inconvenience of the whole city, granted a favourable and kind consent to their requests. But lest, under pretext of that piety, there should arise an occasion of impiety, with wise and salutary counsel it was provided between them that the said plot for disposing of the dead, in accordance with what all parties arranged ought to be settled, should be enclosed on all sides, keeping an entrance for the use of the citizens for burial. Particular provisions were also made that no one should be allowed to bury in the same plot the bodies of the dead who should happen to die in the hospital aforesaid; for all those from the hospital, whether brethren or the poor coming from elsewhere, are to be buried during the interdict as was the former custom, according to the will of the canons, in some suitable place to be provided by those canons for the reason, doubtless, that in that way, God's grace blessing His holy church, they might enjoy their former peace and the uninterrupted observance of their oaths. The aforesaid spot is to revert freely to the right possession of the brethren of the hospital, but no one whatever is to be allowed any more to bury any dead person in the same plot. But in order that peace may be preserved in future unbroken between the said canons and brethren of the hospital we have taken care to strengthen this which has been written, by the testimony of our seal.
None of these witnesses enables us to fix an exact date to the ordinance, but Sir Norman Moore places it between March 1208 and October 1209, (fn. 20) and there seems no reason to doubt this. The special provision that those from the hospital should only be buried in the ground provided by the canons was no doubt not to prejudice the case of the separate cemetery, for which, at this time, they had only obtained the sanction of the pope and not that of the Bishop of London.
In the year 1212, whoever was prior approved the appointment of William as the new proctor to the hospital, and as such he continued to rule the hospital for twenty-eight years (fn. 21) (according to dates in the hospital cartulary).
PRIOR G. OF OSNEY
In the year 1213 there is a brief record of a new prior, but he only remained for a few days, when he joined the Benedictine order. He was chosen from outside the convent of St. Bartholomew, from an abbey of Augustinian canons at Osney, near Oxford. We do not know his name other than that he had the initial G. The only record we have concerning him is in the annals of Dunstable, where it is recorded (in Latin):
'In the year from the incarnation of Christ, one thousand two
hundred and thirteen, G. canon of Osney is made prior of St. Bartholomew's London, but after a few days the same man becomes a
monk of Abingdon' (fn. 22) —
which was a Benedictine monastery in Berkshire.
THIRD HIATUS IN THE NAMES OF PRIORS
There is now a period of thirteen years during which there are many records of the priory, but no mention has as yet come to light of the name of the prior or priors.
It is possible, and even probable, that prior John Blund, who was here in 1226, was the immediate successor of Prior G. of Osney in 1213; at any rate there are indications that justify a surmise that he may have been prior as early as 1216, for he witnessed a grant to the hospital (unfortunately undated) by John Testad, of 8s. quit rent from land in St. Sepulchre's parish 'once belonging to Osbert the Chaplain' (fn. 23) (says the grant), who probably died about the year 1200, and among others it was witnessed by 'Roger the Baker' (Rogero pistore), who witnessed three other grants to the hospital, one of which was as early as 1212–1213, (fn. 24) so that Sir Norman Moore thinks 1216 would not be too early a date for a grant made, he says, soon after the death of Osbert. However, it is safer not to assume that John Blund was prior before the actual date when his name first appears (1226).
The following records relate to this period:
King John, who had despoiled the monasteries, submitted to the pope in 1213, as a result of the interdict mentioned above. In 1215, the year he sealed Magna Carta, a controversy arose between the prior and convent and H. de Napford and M. de Mentmore his wife concerning some lands; so Pope Innocent sent a commission to the Dean of St. Paul's and others to inquire into it, (fn. 25) but with what result does not appear.
In the year 1219, a case is recorded in the pleas (i.e. the obligations to attend court) in the Curia Regis Rolls (fn. 26) in which John de Shelford and Robert de Amnervill (or Aranovill) were against the priors of St. Bartholomew's and of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, and the dean of St. Paul's. The meaning of the entry, apart from its legal technicalities, is that a writ of summons issued to the priors and the dean on complaint by John and Robert that they had purported to deal in an ecclesiastical court with a matter properly triable in the king's court, that they did not appear: whereupon a writ of attachment issued, but they still evaded jurisdiction (unde vicecomes mandavit quod non fuerunt inventi). It is one of the numberless cases of conflict between civil and ecclesiastical courts as to which should have jurisdiction. Each was jealous of the other, and civil courts were always ready to issue process at the instance of disappointed suitors in ecclesiastical courts, who used this method of getting a new trial; particularly was this the case where either party to the suit was an ecclesiastical person or corporation.
In the year 1224 there is a further case recorded in these rolls in which William de 'Rennes' claims against the prior the advowson of the church of Bradfield in Essex, and the jury decided in his favour and against the prior; (fn. 27) eventually, in the year 1262, the prior recovered the advowson, but by fine (fn. 28) and free gift.
In the same year (1224), a deed of gift by the Abbot of Coggeshall to the hospital is witnessed by Domino . . . Priore Canonicorum Sancti Bartholomei, but the name is left blank, (fn. 29) which may possibly indicate a vacancy at the time.
During the period we are now considering, the relations between the hospital and the church were again becoming strained under Hugh the master (about 1214–1223). The ordinance of Richard de Ely in 1197 had not removed the causes of disagreement, as we have already seen. (fn. 30) In the year 1217, the hospital had obtained from Pope Honorius III a confirmation (fn. 31) of the letters granted by Pope Lucius III in the year 1183. In the year 1220, Pope Honorius delegated Benedict de Sansetun, Bishop of Rochester, with the Archdeacon of Colchester as an assessor, (fn. 32) to inquire into the controversy. This resulted in an agreement being arrived at, which formed the basis of the ordinance promulgated by Eustace de Fauconberge, Bishop of London, in the year 1224. (fn. 33)
In the previous year (1223), the dispute seems to have caused the temporary withdrawal or suspension of William the proctor, for the young king issued letters patent (fn. 34) from Keninton in that year entrusting the wardenship of the hospital to one Maurice, Chaplain 'of the house of the Temple' until the king and his justiciar (at that time Hubert de Burgh) should come to London and 'more fully arrange concerning the governance of the hospital'. The king also issued letters close, (fn. 35) to 'the master or reader' of the Temple, to so entrust Maurice the Chaplain; and also to the prior of St. Bartholomew's, and to Richard Ringer (probably the escheator), not to set their hands on the hospital until the king should have so come and arranged. William was master when the ordinance was sealed in 1224, for it is expressly stated 'William the proctor being then master of the hospital' (but who was then prior of the church unfortunately is not stated). William remained master until the year 1246.
The only record of this ordinance of Bishop Eustace is Cok's transcript in the hospital cartulary, so that neither the copy belonging to the priory, nor that of the hospital, nor even the one belonging to St. Paul's, has survived.
Of the coming of the Friars (the Dominicans in 1220 and the Franciscans in 1224) there is no mention in any of the records of St. Bartholomew's, though the latter were neighbours.
The prior of this hiatus would have had the induction of William the Master of the Hospital in 1224.
PRIOR JOHN (BLUND)
The first record we have of Prior John by name occurs in the year 1226 in a Feet of Fines (fn. 36) when 'John Prior of St. Bartholomew's London' appears as plaintiff in a friendly action concerning a carucate of land belonging to Henry de Merc. We have no record as to when John was elected prior; he may, as has been said above, have been the immediate successor of Prior G., of Osney. He appears as John 'Blund' in 1227, as witness to a deed still in the hospital, but nowhere else. (fn. 37) After that we have not found his name in any other record until the year 1232, when it is stated in the Annals of Dunstable, (fn. 38) 'in the same year, John the prior of St. Bartholomew's having been changed, Gerard a canon of the same place is substituted in the priorate'.
In the year 1227, the year when Henry III declared himself of age, the prior obtained a royal charter (fn. 39) from him. It is identical with the charter granted by King John in the year 1203, with only a slight variation in the last few lines. It was witnessed by:
J(ocelin) the Bishop of Bath;
R(ichard) the Bishop of Sarum (surnamed 'The Poor');
P(eter) de Rupibus the Bishop of Winchester (this was Sir Pierre des Roches, Knight);
H(ubert) de Burg (the justiciar, who with Stephen Langton governed for the young king until 1232);
Hugh de Nevill (baron, one of King John's advisers);
Martin de Paleshill;
Ralph and Nicholas and Richard de Argenton 'our Stewards';
Ralph de Trubleville (or Turberville);
Henry de Capel; and others.
Given by the hand of Ralph (de Neville) Bishop of Chichester the Chancellor (an office he held from 1227 to the year of his death, 1240).
In the year 1229 the king granted another short charter (fn. 40) by which he confirmed to the church of St. Bartholomew the church of Gorleston; and the churches of St. Nicholas, Little Yarmouth, of Lodwenstofts (Lowestoft) and of Beleton (Belton, Suffolk), 'which' (he says) 'are of our own gift', to hold in perpetual frankalmoign for their maintenance 'as the charter of King Henry, grandsire of King Henry our grandsire, and the charters of the said King Henry our grandsire and of King Richard our uncle'. The witnesses were:
H(ubert) de Burg (Earl of Kent, ob. 1243);
R. de Gray;
H. de Sedgrave;
John son of Philip.
Why these Suffolk churches should be singled out for confirmation does not appear, unless it be that they were all omitted from the charter of Henry II, about the year 1190.
In the year 1226 the king granted a licence to Katharine, the wife of William Hardell, to found an anchorite's cell adjoining the hospital (fn. 41) where she was herself an anchoress. There is no record that there was an anchorite at the church, though Newton states that it was so. (fn. 42) Bequests to anchorites in London were numerous in the fourteenth century: we have counted fourteen such bequests in the Husting Wills in the years 1341 to 1372. Reference is made to an anchorite at St. Peter's Cornhill, in the years 1345 and 1350, to an anchoress at St. Bennet Fincke, in the years 1345 and 1368; and at St. Giles, Cripplegate, in the latter year, and to the hermits there in 1350. (fn. 43)
In 1368 there were also bequests to anchoresses at St. Mary de Manny and at 'Holbourne'. In other years there are bequests to many anchorites without mentioning where they abode. In 1353, Edward III gave to Alice de Latimer, a recluse anchoress, 20s. in aid of her support. (fn. 44) In 1370 he gave money to three hermits and eight anchorites within the City of London. (fn. 45)
The practice continued to the time of the suppression, for in the year 1521, an anchoress, professed in a new house of the Blackfriars adjoining the church, having alleged that the prior would not suffer her to be professed unless she gave sureties to his house of meat, drink, and clothing, the prior was sent for by the court of aldermen and the sureties were given accordingly. (fn. 46) And in the year 1532 there is an entry in the Repertories that the next voidance of the anchorite in the wall at St. Paul's should be granted to Champneys alderman that he might name a person for the same (fn. 47); by which it would seem that the anchorites in the city were regulated by the corporation.
An anchorite was not infrequently a chantry priest who never went beyond the threshold of the church. He would often live in some little cell communicating with or near to the chantry chapel itself. People would ask spiritual advice of him, which was given through a little window or grated opening looking out on to the churchyard. (fn. 48) Although there is no mention of an anchorite at St. Bartholomew's, it does not at all follow that there was not one there; and the foundations of a small chamber recently discovered outside the north-east corner of the church, which communicated by an arched doorway with the east ambulatory, may well have been an anchorite cell.
In the year 1231 there is a record of a general chapter of the Augustinian order being held at St. Bartholomew's, when canons were published (as mentioned in the chapter on the order), (fn. 49) but Prior John is not referred to by name.
Gerard, as mentioned above, was 'substituted' for Prior John in the year 1232. Beyond this record his name appears once as a witness and several times as plaintiff or deforciant in the Feet of Fines, but in no matter of great interest. It was probably he who carried forward the work of building the nave of the church, as will be seen presently, but there is no direct record.
In the year 1232 'Gerard the Prior of St. Bartholomew's' appears as witness to a grant of land to Richard, the prior of Holy Trinity, London (1223–1248). (fn. 50) Among the other witnesses were Robert, the prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England; Warin, the prior of The New Hospital without Bishopsgate; Alexander, Canon of Bridlington; Andrew Bukerel, Mayor of London (1231–1237); Gerard Bat and Henry de Edmonton, Sheriffs (in 1232), and others.
In the year 1234 'Gerard prior of St. Bartholomew' was deforciant in a case recorded in the Feet of Fines when Geoffrey de Heyno, the plaintiff, agreed to remise to the prior the advowson of the (second) moiety of the church of Danbury in Essex; for which grant Geoffrey was received into all the benefits and prayers of the church. (fn. 51)
In 1236 he appears in two fines as plaintiff. In the first he agrees with Richard de Idebir, and in the second with Ingenulf de Suleby and Benselina his wife to exchange half a virgate of land in Mentmore, Bucks, for three ½-acre and two i-acre plots elsewhere. (fn. 52)
In the year 1238 he again appears as plaintiff in a fine, which resulted in his agreeing to exchange with William de Raimes a messuage and a carucate of land in Bradfield, Essex, for the reversion of all the land which William's mother, Egidia, held in dower in Little Stanmore; for which the prior paid William £42 sterling. (fn. 53)
In 1239 he agreed by fine to exchange with Henry de Merc the advowson of the church of Little Bardfield, Essex (save an ancient pension of the church) for 7s. rent in Finchingfield. (fn. 54)
In all the above entries 'Gerard prior of St. Bartholomew's' is mentioned; but in the year 1241 the collusive action is between 'the prior of St. Bartholomew London and Brother William his canon put in his place', and William Hannselin and Egidia his wife, the name of the prior not being given. It is probable that the prior here and in the next entry was Gerard, who, no longer able to appear in person from sickness or old age, was represented by William his canon. The cause of this fine was a complaint that the Egidia mentioned above, and her new husband, William, were making waste and sale of the dower lands, of which the prior obtained the reversion in 1238. It was therefore now agreed that the prior should, in order to stop further waste, have all the lands, and William and Egidia all the tenements for Egidia's life; the prior forgoing any claim for past damages and paying 40s. to William and Egidia. (fn. 55)
In the same year (1241) the prior, by William his canon, once more came to an agreement by fine. His cattle had been distrained by Randulphus le Poer for homage and suit of court and reapings of a hide of land at Mentmore, his liability to which the prior did not acknowledge. But it was finally agreed that Ralph should grant the hide of land in Mentmore to the prior for 12d., doing a proportion only of the service of the king; the prior forgoing claim for damage caused by distraining his beasts. (fn. 56)
In the year 1239, Henry III made several grants to the monastery, as will be seen by the following extracts from the Calendar of the Liberate Rolls. (fn. 57)
'April 15, 1239. Liberate to the canons of St. Bartholomew's, London, £20 for the works of their church, of the king's gift; and to Richard de Haddestock £8 for 4 lasts (lestis) of herrings bought from him and given to the said canons in Lent.' (fn. 58)
'June 26, 1239. Liberate to the underwritten in recompense for the damages that they had sustained by the wall and ditch of the Tower of London, appraised by the oath of upright and lawful men. . . . The prior of Holy Trinity London 20s. . . . the said prior 76s. 8d. . . . the prior of St. Bartholomew's London 10s., the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's 5s.' (fn. 59) &c.
'Sep. 24, 1239. Liberate to the sacristan of St. Bartholomew's, London, £20 for the works of the church, of the king's gift.' (fn. 60)
'Oct. 29, 1239. Liberate to the sacristan of St. Bartholomew's, London, 2 marks to redeem (acquietandum) a chasuble (casulam) previously pawned.' (fn. 61)
Two gifts in one year of £20 each for the works of the church represent a large sum at the present value of money. It points to a great work being in progress which, with but little doubt, must have been the building of the nave. Whether the work commenced in Prior John's time (1226–1232), or when Gerard became prior, there is no record; but the fact that a chasuble had been pawned points to an urgent need of money at this time.
The gift of 4 lasts of herrings in Lent is remarkable, especially as the monastery had fishing rights of their own in Little Yarmouth. A last contains 1,300 herrings, but it does not follow that the 4 lasts (5,200 fish) were all consumed during Lent; for any surplus, after providing for the canons, their servants and their guests, was probably sold.
The damage sustained 'by the wall and ditch of the Tower' was probably due to some tenement being encroached upon by enlarging the Tower moat. The damage was paid for by the king and not by the corporation, because the Tower always was, and still is, the property of the Crown.
These are all the records of Prior Gerard, though if he were the prior in 1241, it would have been he who consented to the election of Bartholomew the Chaplain to the mastership of the hospital in that year.
PRIOR PETER LE DUC
There is no entry in the Patent Rolls of the election of Prior Peter, but there is a record concerning him in a MS. at St. Paul's, which dates from some time between October 1241 and October 1242; for the deed is witnessed by Ralph Aswy (or Eswy), the mayor, and Thomas de Dureme, and John (Fitz-John) Vyel (or Voyle), the sheriffs, in their year of office. (fn. 62)
It is a grant 'by brother Peter le Duc, called prior of the church of St. Bartholomew', to Sir Peter de Neuport, Archdeacon of London, for ten marks, of the service and yearly rent which he and his successors were bound to pay for land and houses in the parish of St. Martin, Ludgate. (fn. 63)
There is, also at St. Paul's, (fn. 64) a bond which probably dates from the same time. The bond is given by 'Peter prior of the canons of St. Bartholomew, London', to grant seisin (fn. 65) to 'Alexander de Swereford, treasurer of St. Paul's', for his life, of the land of Tewin with the advowson of the church which he had given them for the maintenance of four canons to celebrate divine service for his soul in the church.
The witnesses do not help in dating the deed; they were:
William de Alneto (the Hermit who held the prebend of Portpoole, 1226–1267) (fn. 66);
William de Pres;
Walter de Felebrug; and others.
Alexander was thus treasurer of St. Paul's when the bond was given, and he was still treasurer on the 10th November, 1241, for on that day 'Alexander the treasurer' witnessed a grant by the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's to Herbert de Winton. He did not die until 1246, but it is known that he retired some years before then, though the date of his retirement is not recorded. It may, however, be assumed that this bond was given at the time of his retirement to secure him the income of the Tewin lands for his life. As no record has been found describing him as treasurer after 1241, and as Le Neve says that his successor was treasurer 'about 1240' (fn. 67) (obviously too early), it is probable that the date of the bond was at the end of 1241 or the beginning of 1242.
At his death, in 1246, (fn. 68) his grant of lands and of the advowson of the church of Tewin was confirmed to Peter the Prior by Godfrey de Tewyng, on payment of 5 marks down and 1 penny a year. (fn. 69)
This Alexander de Swereford was a great benefactor of St. Bartholomew's and was a man of some importance. In 1227 he was, when Archdeacon of Salop, a chaplain to the king and also held the prebend of Consumpta per mare of St. Paul's. In 1233 he was appointed treasurer of St. Paul's. In 1234 he was appointed a Baron of the Exchequer and became a famous collector of historical precedents. (fn. 70) In 1235 Henry III granted him for life the free use of one of the turrets of the city wall on the north opposite his garden near the Ludgate, so that he might build in it what he pleased; but in time of war he was to surrender it for the munitions of war like other turrets in the city. (fn. 71)
In 1241 he appears in connexion with the hospital as one of the witnesses to the deed determining the controversy between Roger de Horset and the master and brethren there, concerning lands in the prebend of Portpool. (fn. 72)
In 1245 he was ordered by the king to present to the prior and convent a chalice of the value of 4 marks (fn. 73) (unam cuppam ad eukaristiam). He built the altar of St. Chad at St. Paul's and founded a chantry there for one priest to celebrate daily for his soul; he was buried before the altar.
But to return to the history of Prior Peter's time. In 1246 the prior and convent (as will be seen when dealing with the Fair (fn. 74) ) got into trouble with the corporation for setting up a scale or 'tron' of their own. The mayor, the principal men of the city, and a multitude of the citizens went to the priory to protest, with the result that the prior and convent made amends for their presumption. (fn. 75)
In 1250 the monastery received a valuable gift enumerated in the following acknowledgement (fn. 76) (translated from the Latin):
'To all the faithful in Christ the prior of St. Bartholomew and the convent of the same place send Greeting in the Lord. Know ye that we have received by the gift of Master Richard de Wendover (fn. 77) imbued with pious charity, a psalter glossed in two volumes, and the epistle of the blessed Paul and an altar slab (mensam) and an altar cloth (mensale) for the honour of God and of all the saints and the advancement of our house. And we, imbued and full of pious charity, have received him to be a brother with the consent and goodwill of the whole convent. And we grant and give to him participation in all the benefits of our house given and to be given hereafter, so that his name, with the brethren of Christ, may be inscribed in our roll. Given in the year of grace 1250 on the day of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. In witness whereof we have set our seal to this writing.'
The only other record of this prior is a copy of a grant made in the year 1251 by 'Idonea' daughter of Andrew Blund to 'Peter Prior of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield' and the canons, of rents issuing from tenements in the parish of St. Augustine the Little (Watling Street) and in 'Shoperers Lane' (Sopers Lane). (fn. 78)
But the one event that overshadowed all others during the priorate of Peter le Duc was the forcible visitation of the house by Archbishop Boniface in the face of the protests of the sub-prior and convent. The account given by Matthew Paris is a contemporary record, for the affray took place in the year 1250 and Matthew Paris died about 1259. It was a deplorable event which gave him full scope to denounce the promotion of foreign ecclesiastics in England.
Boniface was the son of the Count of Savoy and uncle of Eleanor, the Queen Consort. He was forced on the monks of Canterbury against their will, and so strong was the opposition of Simon Langton, the Archdeacon of Canterbury (brother of Stephen the archbishop) that, although Boniface was accepted by the king as archbishop in the year 1240, he was not consecrated until four years later, and was not enthroned until 1249. He was not even in holy orders when appointed archbishop, for he was only then admitted to his diaconate and priesthood (at one and the same time) by the authority of the Pope (Innocent IV). (fn. 79) He was practically an Italian, and proud, tyrannical, and ambitious. Finding the diocese poor, he obtained a grant from the pope of first fruits from all the benefices in his province, by which he obtained large sums of money: those bishops who refused to pay were suspended.
In the year 1250 (fn. 80) he claimed the right of visitation, beyond his own diocese, over the whole province. This was strongly opposed in London, as will be seen by the following account translated from Matthew Paris's own words: (fn. 81)
'Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury, stimulated by the example of the Bishop of Lincoln, who had obtained the power of visiting his canons, attempted to make a visitation of the bishops, abbots, clergy and people in his province. He, therefore, in the first place, made a visitation in the chapter of his monks at Canterbury with great strictness and without mercy, so that the monks said amongst themselves "We suffer this from our own deserts, because we sinned against his predecessor St. Edmund, whom we considered austere and froward; we endure what we have justly deserved for electing a foreigner, an illiterate, unknown and inexperienced man, and one adapted to and versed in warlike rather than spiritual matters. Oh! what excellent men were his predecessors, martyrs, authorized teachers, and holy confessors of God. Alas! why did we in this election obey our earthly, rather than our heavenly king?"
'From thence the archbishop went to the abbey of Faversham, the pusillanimous monks of which place, through fear of his tyranny, did not dare to oppose his visitation. Thence he went in great anger to the priory of Rochester, and extorted more than thirty marks from that poor house. Hence it appears that he exercised this office of visitation more from a greedy desire for money than for the reformation of the order or its customs, for he was ignorant of the rules and customs of the order, and also devoid of learning.
'On the 12th May (1250), which was the day of St. Pancratius and his fellow-saints, the said archbishop came to London, to visit the bishop and his chapter and the religious men of that city. Without leave from any person he took up his abode in the noble house of the Bishop of Chichester, near the houses of the Converts, and did not go to his own house at Lambeth; he also ordered his marshals to procure him provisions by force at the king's market, which they did, at the same time heaping threats, reproaches, and insults on the traders; he did not, however, invite any guests.
'On the following day he visited Bishop Fulk, the shameless extortions practised on whom by the said archbishop in his demands of food, drink, and harness, that is to say harnessed horses, would, if any one could relate them, offend the ears and minds and wound the hearts of all that heard them. When about to visit the Chapter of St. Paul's, at London, the canons opposed him, and appealed to the supreme pontiff; wherefore he excommunicated the dean and some others. (fn. 82)
'On the following (fn. 83) day, still swelling with anger and clad in armour under his robes, as those who saw him asserted, the archbishop went to the priory of St. Bartholomew to visit the canons there. But on his arrival, as he was entering the church, he was met by the sub-prior (the prior not being then in the house) attended by the brethren of the convent in solemn procession, bearing numbers of lighted tapers, and amidst the ringing of bells; the brethren themselves dressed in their rich choral copes, the most handsome one of which was worn by the sub-prior. The archbishop did not pay much attention to this honour being paid to him, but said that he came thither to visit the canons. All of the latter were now assembled in the middle of the church, that is, in the quire, as well as the archbishop with the greater portion of his retinue, who were squeezed together in a disorderly way. One of the canons then, on behalf of all, replied that they had an experienced and careful bishop, who held the office of visiting them when it was necessary, and they would not, and ought not, to be visited by any other, lest he should appear to be held in contempt. On hearing this the archbishop burst into an unbecoming fit of anger, and, rushing on the sub-prior, forgetful of his station and the holiness of his predecessors, impiously inflicted blows with his fist on this holy priest and religious man, whilst standing in the middle of the church, and cruelly repeated his blows many times on his aged breast, his venerable face and his hoary head, exclaiming with a loud voice, "Thus it becomes me to deal with you English traitors"; and then, raving more horribly, with unmentionable oaths, he demanded a sword to be brought him immediately. As the tumult increased, and the canons were endeavouring to rescue their sub-prior from the hands of his violent aggressor, the archbishop tore the valuable cope which the sub-prior wore, and broke away the fastening, commonly called a clasp, which was rich with gold, silver, and jewels, and it was trodden under foot in the crowd and lost; the noble cope itself was also trampled on, torn and irreparably injured. Nor was the fury of the archbishop yet appeased; for, like a madman rushing on this holy man, with great violence and forcing him backwards he pushed his aged body with such force against a spondam, which divided two of the stalls, and was made for a podium, (fn. 84) that he crushed his bones to the very marrow, and injured his lungs and the parts about his heart. The rest of the assembled persons, when they saw the immoderate violence of the archbishop, rescued the sub-prior, with much difficulty, from the jaws of death, and thrust back his aggressor, and as he fell back his robes were thrown aside and his armour was plainly visible to the multitude, who were horror-struck at seeing an archbishop in armour, and many declared that he had come thither, not to visit or correct errors, but to excite a battle. His impetuous followers, fellow-countrymen of his, in the meantime had cruelly attacked the rest of the unarmed and unprepared canons, and, by the orders and following the example of the archbishop, cruelly treated them, striking and wounding them, and throwing them down and trampling on them. With bruised and bloody feet, and disordered, maimed, and otherwise badly injured, the canons then went to the bishop of the city and, amidst tears, made a heavy complaint to him of this detestable proceeding, in reply to which the bishop said "The king is at Westminster; go to him and see if this public and violent disturbance of his peace in his chief city will arouse his anger".
'Four of the canons, therefore (the rest being unable to go from the pain of their wounds), went to the king at Westminster, and showed him their torn garments, and the traces of the blows, which were visible from the blood, and the lividness and swelling of their flesh, in the presence of many people, who compassionated their sufferings and detested such an enormous deed. The said sub-prior was unable to go to the court either on foot or on horseback but was carried, groaning, to the infirmary and, taking to his bed, passed the rest of his life in a state of feebleness. The king, however, refused to see the aforesaid canons, although they waited for a long time at the door of his chamber, nor would he listen to their complaints; and they therefore returned in greater trouble of mind' to their church, which the archbishop had polluted and profaned with the blood of the priests and religious men. The city in the meantime was greatly excited and, as if a sedition had arisen, the citizens proposed to ring the common bell, and to cut the archbishop to pieces, whatever afterwards might happen. Insults and reproaches resounded, and the people, who were rushing in crowds in search of him, cried after him, as he was hastening to his house at Lambeth, "Where is this robber? this impious and bloody aggressor of our priests, not a gainer of souls, but an extorter of money, whom not God nor a free election promoted to his dignity but who was illegally thrust into it, illiterate and married as he is, by the king, and whose foul infamy has already infected the whole city".
'Soon afterwards he embarked secretly on the Thames, and going to the king, laid a heavy complaint on the matter before the king, justifying himself and accusing the others, and then hurried to the queen and made a more serious complaint to her. The king, then being in great fear of a sedition arising in the city, ordered proclamation to be made by herald, forbidding any one, on his life and limbs, to interfere in the controversy. Thus, rejected by the canons of St. Bartholomew's as well as by those of the Holy Trinity, who boldly appealed against his proceedings, the archbishop, taking courage from the king's favour, proceeded to Lambeth, and in the chapel there solemnly renewed the sentence of excommunication he had pronounced against the canons of St. Paul's, involving also in it the Bishop of London, as being an abettor of the said canons. They therefore, as they suffered harm and injury on all sides, with pitiable complaints entrusted their cause to St. Bartholomew, whom they served continually day and night and prayed that God, the Lord of vengeance, as man either could not or would not, would deign to punish such great offences.
'The archbishop, still full of the gall of anger, proceeded on the following day to a manor of his called Harrow, about seven miles from the convent of St. Albans, in order to hold a visitation there, and at that place he renewed the aforesaid sentence. And although he had been told by his friends and clerks, learned and eloquent men, of the noble privileges granted to that church by the Apostolic See, he concealed his knowledge of them and superseded them. He then returned and made preparations to cross the sea, that he might lay snares for the innocent at the Roman court, where he had great influence and where he made a practice of taking up his abode more than presiding over his flock, as a good shepherd ought to do. The dean of St. Paul's at London, however, a good and old man, and one of experience, Master Robert Barton, and Master W. of Lichfield, eloquent and learned men, and canons of the said church, in company with the proctors of their bishop and of the aforesaid canons, also went to the Roman court to make a heavy complaint to the supreme pontiff of all the above-mentioned proceedings, being properly instructed in the matter and strengthened by the testimony of many, to prove the truth of their complaint.
'The Archbishop of Canterbury, (fn. 85) thinking that the sulphureous stench of infamy and scandal, which arose from the enormous excesses he had committed in the churches of the canons of St. Bartholomew's, had infected the whole extent of the kingdom, secretly sent messengers to these canons, and by soft speeches and promises, mingled with threats, suppressed the clamour of their complaints. They therefore held their peace, both because they were so poor, and because the archbishop had influence enough to justify himself, although plainly culpable; and keeping their minds patient and calm, intrusted their cause to God and St. Bartholomew.'
The names of those excommunicated, given in a MS. (fn. 86) in the British Museum, are:
Henry de Cornhill, the Dean of St. Paul's;
Peter de Newport, the archdeacon;
Robert de Barthone, the precentor;
Master William de Lichfield; (fn. 87)
William la Faite; (fn. 88) and
Robert 'the said monk canon of London'.
The bishop is not mentioned, neither are the sacristan, the cellarer, nor the precentor of St. Bartholomew's, though it is elsewhere recorded that the latter were excommunicated, and Matthew Paris mentions the excommunication of the bishop. If this Robert was the subprior who was so grievously assaulted, and if he is the same 'brother Robert de Novo Loco canon of the house' by whom the king in the year 1255 sent licence to elect on the cession of Prior Peter; and if 'Robert the sub-prior' who was elected was also the same man (as seems probable), then he could not have been so badly injured as Matthew Paris tells us, for he filled the position of prior from 1255 to 1261.
The dean of St. Paul's and the priors of St. Bartholomew's and of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, appealed to the Roman court then at Lyons, whither Boniface, and also the Bishop of London, the dean, and five members of the chapter (fn. 89) proceeded in person.
The result was that on October 28th the pope, in a letter addressed to the prior, the sub-prior, the sacristan, the cellarer and precentor of St. Bartholomew's, annulled the sentence of excommunication issued against them by the archbishop, so far as it was issued against them for the fault of the convent; but added that he would hear the archbishop as to his statement that it had been issued against them for their fault. (fn. 90) A mandate was issued at the same time to the Abbots of St. Albans and Waltham, and to the Archdeacon of St. Albans, to put a stop to the publication of the sentence. (fn. 91) But full absolution was not granted until two years later (1252), when the pope wrote a letter of which the following is a translation: (fn. 92)
'Innocent bishop &c. unto his venerable brother the Archbishop of Canterbury greeting and apostolic blessing. As the dean and chapter of St. Paul, and the priors of the churches of the Holy Trinity and of St. Bartholomew and their convents at London have taken care to notify unto us that because when thou wast proposing to hold a visitation and procuration in such churches the aforesaid dean and others withstood thee, herein refusing to admit thee to the aforesaid churches, thou, after their appeal was lodged before us, hast proceeded against certain of those persons to sentence of excommunication and hast denounced them as excommunicate and hast also caused them to be so denounced, at the motion of thine own will; and after a case hereupon had been brought by way of appeal to the Apostolic seat, and had been decided there by definite sentence, supplication was humbly made unto us on the part of the aforesaid dean, priors and others that in our fatherly love we should take care to protect them in the matter of the excommunication and denouncing aforesaid; wherefore O brother, we command thee by this apostolic writing that within eight days after the receipt of these presents without any hesitation as to taking security thou shalt take care to release the excommunication and utterly to refrain from such denunciation, by this same writing giving thee hereon strict injunction, or where fitting making request. Furthermore, by our letters we enjoin upon our beloved son the abbot of Waltham, in the diocese of London, that he shall further be diligent to release the same sentence by pronouncing absolved those of the aforesaid against whom such a sentence was passed in places where it shall appear to him to be expedient, and further if they have committed any irregularity by joining in divine service or assuming orders before the benefit of absolution was granted, either by means of thee or of the said abbot, let them obtain the benefit of absolution by dispensation and by restraining cavillers by ecclesiastical censure putting aside appeal, notwithstanding that any may have indulgence from the Apostolic seat so that they cannot be interdicted, suspended or excommunicated by letters from the same seat, except in such letters full and express mention is made of that same indulgence, or of the meaning thereof word for word, or by any other apostolic indulgence by the omission whereof from these presents the effect of this command might be hindered or delayed.
'Given at Perusium on the nones of June in the ninth year of our pontificate.' (fn. 93)
Five months before this the pope had addressed his decision to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the question of his claim of visitation, in which he condemns the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, and the priors and convents of St. Bartholomew and Holy Trinity, to admit the archbishop to visit their churches as metropolitan and to pay procurations. (fn. 94) The pope also issued a mandate to the above three bodies to admit the metropolitan: also to the Abbot of 'Boxele' to see that the archbishop was not molested in regard to the same. (fn. 95)
The statement that Boniface built the chapel at Lambeth Palace by the injunction of Pope Urban IV (1261–1264) in atonement for his tyrannical and sacrilegious treatment of the canons of St. Bartholomew's, (fn. 96) we have been unable to verify; there is no mention of it in the calendar of the papal registers, and it is difficult to believe without documentary evidence. That the right of visitation was subsequently exercised by the metropolitan is shown by the injunctions issued by Archbishop Winchelsey in the year 1303. (fn. 97)
In the year 1253 Prior Peter obtained from the king a charter (fn. 98) confirming the possessions of the monastery, which are all enumerated therein. Five of the possessions are additional to those enumerated in Henry II's charter of cir. 1187 and in Richard's of the year 1190. These charters have been already quoted, so that it will be only necessary here to give those possessions that have not already been mentioned:
Of the fee and of the gift of William de Ramis all the lands and rents which they hold in Little Stanmore and Bradfield (Bradefeud).
Of the gift and of the fee of Adam son and heir of Ellis de Somery and of Saier (Saerii) son of Henry, all the lands and rents which they hold in the vill of Shenley (Shenle).
Of the gift of Alexander de Swereford, sometime treasurer of St. Paul's London, of the fee of Godfrey de Twying son of Richard de Twying, and of John son of John son of Vitalis all the lands and rents which they hold in the vill of Tewin (Twying) with the advowson of the church of the same vill.
Of the gift of the same Alexander Swereford all the lands and rents which they hold in the vill of Hertford, Amwell (Amewell) and Lockley (Lockeleg).
Of the fee of Henry de Merke and of William de Verdun all the lands and rents which they hold in the vill of Shortgrove (Shortegrave).
Some gifts mentioned in the previous charters are omitted here, such as possessions in Edgware and Elstree; the moiety of Aldermarichurch (probably exchanged); the church of Bardfield (exchanged as has already been seen); (fn. 99) the chapel of St. Bartholomew of Wenhaston (still in their possession, for it is mentioned in the rental of 1306); the chapel of Mannestree; tithe and movable property at Colchester (which with the following are all in the rental of 1306 (fn. 100) ), tithe in Charlton; half a hide at Peltend and ten shillings rent in Islington; possessions in Maldon and Langley; and two hides in Shortgrove. (No mention is made of the many rents in London.)
Beyond this confirmation of the possessions, there is nothing in the charter other than a further confirmation that the hospital shall be in the rule, ordinance and governance of the priors and canons, as declared in the charters of Henry I and John. The witnesses to this charter of Henry III were:
Aymer (de Valence), Bishop-elect of Winchester (son of Isabella the widow of King John by Hugh X, Count de la Marche, d. 1260);
Bertram of Crioll;
John de Grey (judge, d. 1266);
John de Lessyngton (for a short time Keeper of the Great Seal, d. 1257);
Peter Chaceport, Archdeacon of Wells (favourite of King Henry III, treasurer of Lincoln Cathedral, d. 1254);
Master William de Kilkenny, Archdeacon of Coventry (afterwards Bishop of Ely, d. 1256);
Henry de Wingham, Dean of St. Martin's (Chancellor of England and Bishop of London in 1259, d. 1262);
William de Grey;
William de St. Ermine; and others.
Dated at Westminster 15 June, 37 Henry III (1253).
The king granted another charter, (fn. 101) of the same date, inspecting the charter of Henry II (cir. 1173) (fn. 102) and confirming the same. The witnesses are the same as those above, with the exception of Archdeacon Chaceport, who is not included.
Prior Peter relinquished the priorate in November 1255, (fn. 103) but whether from old age, or from what other reason, we have no record.
In the year 1246 he had presented Bartholomew as master of the hospital.