The twelfth century: Six Royal Charters

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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E A Webb, 'The twelfth century: Six Royal Charters', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 100-105. British History Online [accessed 20 May 2024].

E A Webb. "The twelfth century: Six Royal Charters", in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921) 100-105. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024,

Webb, E A. "The twelfth century: Six Royal Charters", The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921). 100-105. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024,

Six Royal Charters

During the twenty-seven years (1174 to 1201) in which there are no records of the names of the priors, with the one exception above, several additional charters were obtained, both from King Henry and King Richard.

Thus, in an undated charter (fn. 1) given by Henry II at Westminster about the year 1176, all the gifts made to the church by Henry I and others are enumerated and confirmed in simple frankalmoign. (fn. 2)

It was witnessed by:

Richard, Bishop of Winchester (1174–1188).

B., Bishop of Ely (as there was no 'B' bishop of Ely, Geoffrey Ridel must be intended, 1174–1189).

J(ohn), Bishop of Norwich (John of Oxford, 1175–1200).

Bishop Richard de Luci (d. 1179).

Earl Albericus (Aubrey de Vere, created Earl of Oxford soon after 1142; d. 1194).

Simon de Beauchamp.

Geoffrey de Sai.

Gervasse de Canvilla (of Canvell priory, Staff.).

The charter was therefore given between the years 1175, when the Bishop of Norwich was consecrated, and 1179, when Richard de Luci died. As the charter shows the possessions of the monastery acquired by gift during the first sixty-four years after its foundation, they are given here as they occur in the charter, with the addition of the churches of Gorleston, of St. Nicholas, Little Yarmouth, of the other moiety of the church of Mentmore, and of the church of St. Michael Bassishawe, which are omitted from this charter; (these are inserted within [ ] with references to charters where they occur).

1. By the gift of King Henry his grandfather (Henry I) the place of Smithfield (Smerefeld) in which their (the prior and canons) church was founded and the hospital house of the same church with all its tenements and appurtenances which Rahere the founder of the same church built for the use of the poor and infirm.

2. [By gift of the same king the church of Gorleston near Yarmouth with other churches and chapels in Ludyngland. (fn. 3) ] (fn. 4)

3. [By gift of the same king the church of St. Nicholas, Little Yarmouth, (fn. 5) with the chapel of Northville (Nortvilla) annexed (fn. 6) and Lowestoft (Lodewistoft) and of Belton (Beleton) (fn. 7) ].

4. By gift of Roger Bishop of Salisbury the church of St. Sepulchre in the Bailey (de Balio) with its tithes and appurtenances within borough and without.

5. By gift of Hugh Buisel (or Bussel) a moiety of the church of Mentmore and a hide and a half which they have in the same parish.

6. [By gift of William son of Milo another moiety of the same church. (fn. 8) ]

7. By gift of Walter de Dunn (some omission here on the roll) and a part which Robert de Cestresham granted them of his tithe at Grove (fn. 9) (Granam).

8. By gift of Robert de Ramis the church of St. Bartholomew of Elstree (Herts) (Tydulfnestre) with its appurtenances.

9. By gift of Roger de Ramis the church of St. Lawrence of Stanmore (Stanmere) with its appurtenances and whatever William de Ramis or Adam Buchiunte or Earl Patrick or Countess Ela have conceded to them in the village of Edgware (Eggeswere) and at Elstree (Tidulfnestre).

10. By gift of Ralph Trichet (or Trochet) the church of St. Martin Pomeroy (de Pomerio).

11. By gift of the same Ralph (fn. 10) a moiety of the church of St. Mary Aldermary (Aldermarichurch).

12. [By gift of Gilbert Bishop of London (either Gilbert the Universal, 1128–1134, or Gilbert Foliot, 1163–1188) the church of St. Michael Bassishaw (de Bassingeshagh). (fn. 11) ]

13. [By gift of William de Bosco the church of Theydon Bois (Taiden) with its appurtenances. (fn. 11) ]

14. By gift of Earl William de Mandeville (fn. 12) a moiety of the church of Danbury (Danningebere) (Essex). (fn. 13)

15. By gift of Geoffrey son of Ailwin a moiety of the church of Wenhaston (Wennacheston) (Suffolk), with all its appurtenances.

16. By gift of Atropus de Merc the church of Little Bardfield (Berdefeld) (Essex).

17. By gift of William de Ramis the church of Bradfield (Bradefeld) (Essex) [with the chapel of Manningtree (Mannester) (fn. 14) ].

18. By gift of Geoffrey the chapel of St. Bartholomew of Wenhaston (Wennacheston). (fn. 15)

19. By gift of Miles de Verdun two parts of the tithe, with all the movable property of his domain of Oslakester. (fn. 16)

20. By gift of Alan Dapifer (fn. 17) a part of the tithe of his domain of Charleton (Cherbuton or Cherlinter) (Midd.).

21. By gift of Ralph de Berners half a hide in Peltend.

22. By gift of the same Ralph ten shillings' worth (solidatas) in Islington (Iseldun).

23. By gift of Miles de Verdun and William de Nineris two hides at Shortgrove (Sortegrave) (Essex).

24. By gift of Oswald de Malden whatever they had at Malden.

25. By gift of Robert Lebel and by gift of Henry Cawesnefes and by gift of Cecily daughter of Robert Bloet and by gift of Lefumer the charcoal maker and Joscelyn the fishmonger whatsoever they had [of the fee of Robert FitzRoger (fn. 18) ] in Langley (Langeleia, Laindon).

A further charter (fn. 19) was also obtained from Henry II dated at Windsor, but again without the year being given. It was a charter of protection for the church and was witnessed by:

Geoffrey, Bishop of Ely (1174–1189).

Ralph de Glanvill (the chief justiciar of England; d. 1190).

Earl Albericus (the first Earl of Oxford, d. 1194).

Simon de Beauchamp.

G(eoffrey) de Sai.

As four of these five witnesses are the same as those of the previous charter, its date is probably about the same year, viz. 1176. We have not found either of these charters anywhere other than in the Letters Patent of inspeximus (fn. 20) given 11 Edward II.

A further charter (fn. 21) was apparently obtained from the same king dated at Winchester in his thirty-third year (1187). It seems to have differed from the earlier charter of about 1176 (No. 6) only in the smaller number of the gifts confirmed and in the names of the witnesses which are given in the Memoranda Roll of 1325; these are:

Richard, Bishop of Winchester.

Hugh de Beauchamp.



William Ruff.

Richard Bert.

Very shortly after this, a fourth charter (fn. 22) was obtained by a prior of the hiatus, viz. in the first year of Richard I (1190), when the king was at Rouen on his way to the third Crusade. It is merely a confirmation of the charter of Henry II (fn. 23) of about the year 1173, which simply recapitulated the great charter of Henry I.

It was sealed at Rouen on the 24th March by the Bishop of Ely, he then being the chancellor.

The witnesses were:

B(aldwin) Archbishop of Canterbury (who died the same year).

H(ugh) Bishop of Durham (who, with William de Longchamp, Bishop of Ely, was appointed justiciary during the absence of the king).

R(eginald) FitzJoceline, Bishop of Bath (1174–1192).

H(ugh) Bishop of Coventry (1188–1198).

W(illiam) son of Ralph, seneschal of Normandy, and W(illiam) the Marshal.

Another charter, (fn. 24) dated the 23rd March in the same year, recapitulates the grants of lands, churches, &c., which are set out in full in the charter of Henry II of about the year 1176, and adds to the gifts there enumerated, as mentioned above, (fn. 25) the church of St. Michael Bassishaw and the church of Theydon Bois, (fn. 26) the second moiety of the church of Mentmore, and states that what the prior and convent had in Langley was of the fee of Robert FitzRoger; otherwise the two charters are alike.

The witnesses were the same as those of the preceding charter, except that the Bishop of Bath was not among them. The charter only occurs in the Memoranda Rolls 1 Edward III and in part in those of 19 Edward II.

It is known that King Richard granted many charters as a means of raising money for the crusade, and it is probable that these two charters were granted with that object.

The bulk of the possessions of the priory had been acquired by this time; for the additions enumerated in King Henry III's charter of the year 1253, and in the Rental of 1306, are few and comparatively unimportant.

A sixth charter obtained during this period consisted of a short reminder charter granted by the king at Rouen at the same time (1190). It briefly confirmed all the charters, franchises and free customs granted by King Henry I and King Henry II; and again forbade that the prior or canons should be impleaded in the matter of any of their tenements, save before the king or his chief justice. It occurs in the Cartae Antiquae (L. 9), where the date is given as March 22, but when recited in the inspeximus granted by King Edward II in the year 1318, (fn. 27) the date is given as March 26th, which is probably correct, being after and not before the longer charter. It is only witnessed by William Longchamp, Bishop of Ely.

At the same time, on the 24th March, the king issued Letters Patent from Rouen (fn. 28) to the Sheriffs of London and Middlesex not to interfere with the fair of the prior and canons of the church, which he again says was his 'demesne' church (referred to in the chapter on the fair). (fn. 29)

In the following year, 1191, the prior had to contend with the agitation on the part of the hospital for a separate burial ground, in favour of which the master (Alan) (fn. 30) and brethren had obtained a letter from the pope. As shown in the chapter on the disputes with the hospital, (fn. 31) this agitation for a separate graveyard was successfully resisted for nearly 200 years; it was temporarily parried at this time with the assistance of Richard de Ely, Bishop of London, who (as already mentioned (fn. 32) ) issued an ordinance in 1197–8 to allay the quarrel, at which time the second Stephen had become master (1198).


  • 1. App. I, p. 479, Charter No. 6, Latin transcript.
  • 2. A tenure by spiritual service by an ecclesiastical corporation free from all temporal service, as already explained.
  • 3. A hundred in the north of Suffolk.
  • 4. App. I, p. 481, Charters Nos. 8 (1187), 16 (1253).
  • 5. Ib., Charter No. 16 (1253).
  • 6. App. I, Rent. Bodl. p. 428.
  • 7. App. I, p. 484, Charter No. 15.
  • 8. App. I. pp. 481, 485, Charters Nos. 8, 16.
  • 9. A small place in Bucks which was annexed to the parish of Mentmore soon after the conquest.—Lipscombe, Bucks, iii, 356.
  • 10. App. I, p. 482, Charter No. 10 says 'of the gift of Roger Perrom'.
  • 11. ,5 Ib., pp. 481, 482, 485, Charters Nos. 8, 10, 16.
  • 12. Third Earl of Essex (d. 1189).
  • 13. The second moiety was granted in 1234; see below, p. 116.
  • 14. App. I, p. 482, Charter No. 10.
  • 15. Distinct from the church referred to above.
  • 16. App. I, p. 480. Charter No. 6.
  • 17. Ib.
  • 18. App. I, p. 482, Charter No. 10.
  • 19. Ib., p. 480, Charter No. 7 (Latin transcript).
  • 20. Ib., p. 487, Charter No. 19; also Cal. Pat., p. 158.
  • 21. App. I, p. 481, Charter No. 8.
  • 22. Ib., p. 481, Charter No.9.
  • 23. See above, p. 98. App. I, p. 478, Charter No. 4.
  • 24. App. I, p. 482, Charter No. 10.
  • 25. See p. 102.
  • 26. See p. 102.
  • 27. App. I, p. 482, Charter No. 11.
  • 28. Ib., p. 482, Charter No. 12.
  • 29. Below, p. 303.
  • 30. Alan succeeded Stephen I, 1182–1198.
  • 31. Above, p. 87.
  • 32. Above, p. 82.