Chancery Proceedings: Introduction

Pages 69-71

Cardiff Records: Volume 3. Originally published by Cardiff Records Committee, Cardiff, 1901.

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Chancery Proceedings.

RECORDS of proceedings in the High Court of Chancery, even when they relate to private property, are often of great interest to the local historian. An example of their value may be found in the document printed in this chapter, under the reference "Bundle 146, No. 110, 1559." It may be summarised as follows: Complaint by William, Earl of Pembroke, that, whereas from time immemorial the inhabitants of the Lordship Royal of Glamorgan have been charged with payment of a mise of 1,000 marks, at every succession of a new lord (apportioned and levied by arrangement made between Commissioners appointed by the lord and Assessors chosen by the inhabitants), Thomas Mathewe, gentleman, and others, inhabitants of Miscyn and Glynrhondda, parcels of the said Lordship of Glamorgan, refuse to pay their proportion of the mise due to the said Earl at his succession to the said Lordship under the grant of the late lord, King Edward the Sixth. He craves a Writ of Subpæna compelling the defaulters to appear before the Court and answer the premisses.

Morgan Mathew, and others of the Defendants, answer that the payment of mises was instituted as a commutation for certain oppressive taxes anciently levied by the Lords of Glamorgan. King Henry the Eighth abolished all those Marcher customs, including the mises, except that the lord may levy one mise on succeeding to his ancestor. They do not admit that the late King granted the Lordship Royal of Glamorgan and Morganwg unto Complainant; for the truth is that the seigniory of the said Lordship Royal remained continually in the said late King Edward VI., and from him descended to the late Queen Mary, and is since descended to Queen Elizabeth, and still remains in her, "ungiven or granted." Wherefore the inhabitants owe the mise to the Queen only, as Lady of Glamorgan in succession to Queen Mary.

Bundle 18, No. 80, relating to the Prebend of Saint Andrew's, is one of several documents concerning Church property at Llandaff, out of which a number of enterprising people (including the Bishop) were busily extracting as much ready money as possible. It will be noticed that the Bills of Complaint almost invariably, towards the conclusion, state that the Defendant has wrongfully got possession of deeds whereby the Complainant is kept out of his rights. This technicality was a legal device for obtaining "discovery of documents."

A good deal of curious interest attaches to Bundle 55, No. 69, the Complaint of Reynold David, servant to the Earl of Pembroke (inter 1570—9). Anthony [Kitchener], late Bishop of Llandaff, granted the Registrarship of the Episcopal Court to John Lloyd, who conveyed the same unto William Powell. The records of the Registry have got into the hands of William Evans, clerk, and others. The Complainant prays they may be ordered to restore them.

William Evans answers that, being Chancellor of the diocese, he had to send to Complainant for the Register Book. Complainant was from home, but his concubine, Jennet Griffith, handed the book to this Defendant's servant. He keeps it because it is necessary to him in his office of Chancellor.

Complainant replies by offering to prove that, although Chancellor Evans permits, for bribes, a great number within his jurisdiction to live incontinently, Jennet is his (Complainant's) wife, not his concubine. Evans craftily got possession of the Register because it contained evidence of his (Evans') evil living and of his Popish delinquencies.

Defendant William Evans rejoins by denying that, since the accession of Queen Elizabeth, he has committed any papistical offences or forborne to receive the Communion in the Established Church. On the contrary, he upholds "her Majesty's godly acts and proceedings in that behalf."

We have a long series of suits about lands in the Manor of Roath Dogfield, and other places in the neighbourhood of Cardiff. They are valuable for their enumeration of old place-names; but as I have, for the most part, greatly condensed in making my copies, there is no need to enlarge upon the documents here.

The Complaint of Peter Samyn (of an old Cardiff family), inter 1617—21, is worded with amusing quaintness. The premises in question, Parc-Coed-Marchan, were, I believe, parcel of the Manor of Pentyrch. It is interesting to note that they comprised a deerpark.

The Chancery Proceedings here printed (except the last three) are of the reign of Elizabeth, and form a complete set for that reign, so far as concerns the Cardiff district. The Elizabethan Proceedings are, however, only a section of the whole series at the Record Office.