The fourteenth century: Prior John de Pekesden

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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'The fourteenth century: Prior John de Pekesden', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 149-163. British History Online [accessed 11 April 2024]



As mentioned above, the king granted the sub-prior and convent licence to elect a prior on the 4th November, 1316. There is no entry on the Patent Rolls of the king's assent to an election, nor of the king's notification to the bishop that his assent had been given. There is, however, extant a letter from the king (fn. 1) to Walter Reynolds, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Walter of Norwich his treasurer, stating that he had given licence to choose a prior, but because he was abroad (probably in Scotland in connexion with the war there) he had given power to the archbishop and treasurer to give assent, and to receive fealty and to restore the temporalities. This may account for the absence of further entries on the Patent Rolls. We do not hear of John de Pekesden by name until the 8th December, 1320, but even then the prior is merely called 'John'. (fn. 2) The name Pekesden does not occur until the year 1340, when he is called 'John de Pekesdene' in the Year Book. (fn. 3) During the vacancy the question of corodies (fn. 4) was raised. The king on the 28th November issued Letters Close (fn. 5) to the prior and convent for one John de Heselarton, clerk, to receive the pension which the king said they were bound to grant to one of his clerks by reason of the new creation of 'the Abbot'. A month later the master and brethren of the hospital were called upon (fn. 6) to admit Nicholas de la Marche and provide him with food and clothing, but in a fortnight's time the writ was changed for one to the prior and convent of St. Frideswide's, Oxford. But in the year 1345 the prior and convent were again requested by the king (Edward III) to provide maintenance in their house for Maude, late the wife of Thomas de Colby, for life. (fn. 7) We also learn from the Husting Rolls that corodies had previously been imposed, for in the year 1329 a release of a corody is granted to the prior and convent by William Pippard and his wife, of Little Stanmore; (fn. 8) and in the year 1376 there is recorded the surrender, by John Copeland, vintner, and Isabella his wife (widow of Sir Thomas Lacy, Knt.), to the prior and convent, of a grant of two loaves of bread, called 'Besamitz', and two flagons of beer, formerly made to the said Isabella and Katharine her sister, daughters of Robert Sharpe; also of a house adjoining the priory. (fn. 9) In 1382, the year of Prior Gedeney's election, the king nominated John Hadham, clerk of the king's chapel, to a pension from the priory as 'by reason of the prior's new creation' they were 'bound for one of the king's clerks, until by them provided'. (fn. 10)

We have no record of any protest having been lodged against these demands for corodies until the year 1436, when the king had commanded the prior and convent to cause a corody to be given to one George Assheby, (fn. 11) on the occasion of the appointment of a new prior (for William Coventry had resigned on the 20th January that year, and Reginald Collier had been elected prior). Whereupon the prior petitioned the king against this command, showing by his charters that the priory was free from all subjection and secular service, and therefore free from granting corody, or from the maintenance of any person at the command of the king. An action, therefore, arose and was heard in the Exchequer Chamber, and the arguments are fully set out in the Year Book of the fourteenth year of Henry VI. (fn. 12) The king claimed against the prior for the reason that he was the founder of the place, and that it belonged to him to have a corody and a rent by reason of his prerogative; on the other hand the prior showed that Henry II founded the church as a 'free chapel', (fn. 13) that he released to the prior all manner of services, and that they should be as free in the church as the king in his crown. The prior won the case, for, on 4th February, 1438, the king issued Letters Patent (fn. 14) granting that the prior and convent should be for ever quit of any corody, for the reason that ambiguity and variety of opinion had arisen as to the interpretation of the words of the charter. We should, however, have thought that the fact of the tenure of their lands being in 'frankalmoine' was sufficient reason in itself for discharge of corodies. (fn. 15)

Although Pekesden did not take action to be quit of corodies, it was no doubt he who petitioned the king concerning the right of the monastery to a proportion of the sea fishing at Yarmouth, for, though the petition is undated, (fn. 16) we are told it was made twenty years after the archbishop's visitation, which gives a date of 1322 or 1323. It is in French, of which the following is a translation : (fn. 17)

'Unto our lord the king sheweth the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew London, that whereas they hold the church of Little Yarmouth unto their own use, of the grant of the ancestors of our lord the king, to which church belongeth a profit which is called "Christ's dole", to wit that the church ought to have from each ship of the parish which is fishing in the sea its portion of the gains of the fishing, so much as falls to one of the fishers or mariners of the same ship, whether the same mariners be of the same town or of other land, of which profit the said church had been seized from the time whereof no memory runneth, as of right of the church, as was more plainly found at the last visitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which was twenty years sithence (fn. 18) one John Fitz Aleyn of Kessingland, together with others of other parishes, have withheld their portion till now, to the hurt of the said prior and convent and the disherison of the aforesaid church—the said prior prayeth unto our lord the king that he will, for the sake of God, ordain such remedy in these cases that the said church lose not its heritage.'

This petition was granted, for it is endorsed:

'Let them have a writ framed in the chancery upon the matters contained in their petition against those who do them wrong.'

In the year 1325, following on the claim in regard to the Yarmouth fishing, the prior had next to claim release from tallage (fn. 19) in the city. On the 5th February in his eighteenth year (1325) the king ordered a writ under his great seal to the barons of the exchequer (fn. 20) stating that it had been shown him that the prior of St. Bartholomew's by his charters held all his lands and tenements in the City of London and the suburbs, in simple perpetual frankalmoign, quit of all tallage; yet the assessors appointed in the thirty-second year of Edward I (1303) had assessed tallage on the prior amounting to £6 17s. 0d., for which he had been distrained on by the sheriff of London. Being unwilling for wrong to be done to the prior, the king directed the barons to view the charters and to examine the Memorial Rolls of the exchequer of such tallage, and if they found the prior and his ancestors had held their possessions in frankalmoign, and had been quit of tallage, then they were to cause the prior to be quit therefrom and the distress to be released, without delay. The prior therefore came and produced the charter of Henry II, of the year 1187, which gave the list of the possessions (already described); (fn. 21) and of Richard I, of the year 1190, which gave a further list of possessions (also already described); (fn. 22) which, among other things, granted and confirmed unto the church 'which is his demesne church', in perpetual frankalmoign, all things that had been granted to 'his demesne canons'. He also produced the charter of the then king, Edward II, dated the 10th June of his fifteenth year, (fn. 23) which confirmed all the gifts in the other charters to the prior and convent, and to the master and brethren of the hospital and their successors, quit of tallage.

The rolls having been examined in the matter of tallage, it was found that the claims from the prior on his rents were as follows:

£ s. d.
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Vintry 1 0
" canons of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Tower 2 4
" prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Crepelgate 1 0
4 4
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Cornhill 2 4
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Walebrok 1 6
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Queenshithe 1 8
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Farndon 1 9 0
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Bradstrete 2 0
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Lymstrete 1 4
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Castle Baynarde 7 9
From the convent of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Bishopsgate 2 0
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Colemanstrete 1 10
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Aldresgate 17 6
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Cordewaner St. 13 5
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Bredstrete 12 6
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Cheap 1 1 4
From the prior of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Farndon 10 4
From the house of St. Bartholomew's, in the ward of Bridge 3 4
£6 16 6

It was also found that the prior and convent were not taxed before the year 1303, but they recommended an inquiry before a jury of four men from any of the above wards, as to whether any other lands or tenements in the city or suburbs had been acquired since the granting of King Henry's charter. The jury were summoned and found that the only additional property was one tenement in the parish of St. Sepulchre, which James de Mohun bequeathed in the thirteenth year of the then king, 1319-20, worth 40s. net yearly. Accordingly it was determined that the prior should be released from the sum of money aforesaid.

(The charters of Henry II and Richard I are here entered on the Rolls.)

The prior was equally successful when, in the same year (1325), he claimed to be released from an aid for marrying the eldest daughter of Edward II. The same process was gone through as in the case of releasing from tallage. (fn. 24) The complaint of the prior to the king was that he had been distrained upon for an aid granted from each military fee to the king for marrying his eldest daughter, as if he held his lands and tenements by military service and not in frankalmoign. The king, again being unwilling that the prior should be harassed in the matter, commanded the barons of the exchequer to inquire if what the prior said was true, and if so, the sheriffs were to cease from distraining. (fn. 25) So the prior came before the barons and declared he had been distrained for 20s. by the sheriff of Essex and Hertford, and 40s. by the sheriff of Middlesex, and in proof of his claim, as above, he produced, as before, the charters of Henry II and of Richard I (which are again entered in extenso on the Memoranda Rolls). The barons found that the amounts claimed were as the prior said, and there can be no doubt that they were satisfied that the possessions were not held by military service but in frankalmoign, and that therefore the distraint was ordered to cease as the king directed, but the end of the entry on the Roll is not legible.

In the year 1341 the prior had, apparently, to make a further claim as to being charged with the lay instead of with the clerical subsidy; for in that year he obtained a grant from the king (fn. 26) of an exemplification of a certificate of the Court of Exchequer, that it was found in the rolls of the taxation of the temporalities of the clergy of the diocese of Lincoln made in 1291, that the Prior of St. Bartholomew's held in Mentmore temporalities (fn. 27) taxed at 29s. 10d. as spiritualities; therefore the prior had paid a tenth with the clergy and that it was not found that they had paid any quota with the laity.

It would also seem that the prior succeeded in obtaining exemption from payment of the subsidy of a ninth and fifteenth of his grain, wool, and lambs, granted to the king in the year 1341, for in the inquisition taken to assess this subsidy in 1342, there is written by the assessors, against the valuation of 40s. 10d. for the ninth of St. Bartholomew's included in the Islington return (fn. 28) 'of which they have a writ of supersedeas altogether'; the meaning of which we assume to be that they could not have execution levied against them and were therefore in practice exempted from payment.

The hospital at this time is known to have been entirely exempted from paying this subsidy; for the king, in the year 1341, in spite of his great need of money for the war, issued 'letters close' (fn. 29) directing the collectors to stay altogether levying on the hospital, for the reason that they were so poor in rents that their goods hardly sufficed for the maintenance of the master, of the brethren and sisters, and of the poor sick people, women and children, and alms; and because at no time had they paid tithe to the pope or the taxation granted to former kings because of their poverty. In the year 1352 the king had to issue similar letters (fn. 30) to the barons of the exchequer concerning the hospital, for the reason that 'hitherto the treasurer and barons had delayed to discharge those taxes' for the hospital.

In addition to these activities of the prior in upholding the rights of the monastery, he also directed his energies to beautifying and enlarging his church. Reasons have already been given for thinking that building operations were going on as early as the year 1307. (fn. 31) Whatever that work may have been, it is clear that Prior John rebuilt the Lady Chapel and completed it by the end of the year 1335, because Stephen de Clopton, the janitor of the monastery, in his will (fn. 32) dated the 6th January, 1336, bequeathed his shops in Aldermanbury 'for the maintenance of the work of the chapel of St. Mary newly constructed in the priory'.

About or before this time there are several records of money transactions, but whether they had any connexion with the building operations it is hard to say. Thus in the year 1321 the prior gave a bond for £10 to Thomas de Kent of London, tailor (cissori). (fn. 33) And in 1323 there is a record (fn. 34) that Henry Norman of Berkhampstead and three others acknowledged that they each for the whole owed the Prior of St. Bartholomew's £400, for which they gave bond. This was paid, half at the following Michaelmas, and half at the Christmas following. It is probable that this latter represents the sale of some property of the monastery, possibly for building purposes, because at the same time (fn. 35) the prior and convent gave a release of their right in the advowson of the church of Hemel Hempstead and in the chapels pertaining thereto, to brother Ralph, rector of the house of Assherugge, the Augustinian College of Bonshommes in Buckinghamshire. There are eleven witnesses to this release; one is Roger de Luda, already referred to, and four of the others are the same as went bond for £400 mentioned above, namely Henry Norman of Berkhampstead; Thomas de Chetyngdon, Citizen of London; Ralph de Chetyngdon, his brother; and Roger Chaunteclere of London. The release was further secured by fine, (fn. 36) on the 6th May, 1324, by payment of 60 marks to the prior by the rector of 'Assherigg'. The bond was probably given to secure this payment, but there must have been something else besides the advowson sold at the same time, as the sum is so large, and it is likely that the object of the sale was the rebuilding of the Lady Chapel. The college already had possessions in Hemel Hempstead valued in the year 1291 at £50 14s. 3d.

As has been seen, the custom of founding chantries came in with the fourteenth century, or was very largely increased during that time. By far the larger number at St. Bartholomew's was founded before the commencement of the fifteenth century. Before a chantry could be founded an inquiry had to be held as to whether there would be any damage to the king's revenue, if the lands or houses for the endowment were conveyed to the prior and convent; if there was no damage then the king granted licence under the Mortmain Act of 1279.

In the year 1322 James de Mohun bequeathed (fn. 37) to the prior and convent a messuage in the parish of St. Sepulchre (the same referred to above by the barons of the exchequer) for providing two chantries, one in the chapel of the Blessed Mary in St. Sepulchre's; the other in St. Bartholomew's. The king granted licence for this in the following April, wishing, as he says, 'to show the prior his special grace' (for which, by the way, the prior had to pay 40s.). (fn. 38)

In the year 1327 an inquisition (fn. 39) was held to inquire if it would be any damage to the king to permit Adam de Herewynton, clerk (already mentioned in connexion with property in Acton), (fn. 40) to grant to the prior and convent lands and rent in Acton for the finding of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the church of the priory for the welfare of Adam during his life and an anniversary for his soul after death. It being found that there would be no damage, the king granted licence (by fine of six marks), (fn. 41) and Adam made the grant by fine in the following year. (fn. 42) It consisted of a messuage, 1½ carucates of land, 107 acres, 4s. 1d. rent and the rent of 1 lb. of pepper in Acton, (fn. 43) the prior paying 20 marks in silver; the agreement was made by 'command of the king'. These lands in Acton were held of the Bishop of London and his church as mesne lords. It was necessary, therefore, to have the confirmation of the bishop, (fn. 44) and of the dean and chapter, to the grant. The confirmation by the dean and chapter of the confirmation by the bishop (Stephen de Gravesend) is among the MSS. at St. Paul's. (fn. 45) The deed recites the bishop's confirmation, which provides for an annual payment of 2s. rent, and, at the new election of a prior, a relief according to the quantity and proportion of a knight's fee whereby the lands were held, and as the preceding tenants had held them. It is dated at Oreseth, the day before the Kalends of March (February 28th), 1327-8, and it is witnessed by master Robert de Radeswelle, 'our official', Master Richard de Brinchesle, 'our chancellor', (fn. 46) seven others named, 'and others'. The bishop recites Adam de Herewynton's grant, which is dated at York the Friday next after the feast of St. Martin, 1 Edward III (November 13th, 1327). There are nine witnesses named, among whom are: Roger de Luda (already twice referred to); Richard de Cornhulle; Richard de Wodetone; Philip de Berdene; and John de Mundene; and four men who also witnessed the bishop's deed. The dean and chapter's confirmation was made in the form of a chirograph, and sealed by the dean and chapter, and the prior and convent, but only fragments of the seals now remain. Though the deed is clearly written on indented parchment, the month and the year cannot be deciphered, but the date must have been in the first half of 1328.

In the year 1327 also, licence was granted by the king (fn. 47) to Henry le Hayward, to alienate in mortmain to the prior and convent a messuage in the parish of St. Sepulchre for a chaplain to celebrate daily at the altar of St. Mary in the church for the soul of Alexander 'de Sharford', or Swereford, treasurer of St. Paul's (the great benefactor to the priory already referred to).

Four years later, in 1331, a further endowment was made by John, son of John le Blount of 'Beckeleswade', to find two wax lights to burn at these daily celebrations by the grant of 30 acres in 'Little Stannemere' (fn. 48) (after licence granted by fine of 20s.).

This Henry le Hayward, described as of 'Westsmethefeld', and Roger de Creton, chaplain (also a great benefactor to the church, as will be seen), obtained licence, (fn. 49) in the year 1334, after an inquisition held at Smithfield, (fn. 50) to alienate in mortmain a messuage and 110 acres in 'Iseldon' and 'Kentisshetown' to celebrate daily at the altar of St. Bartholomew for the soul of the previous prior, John de Kensington (as has been already stated). (fn. 51)

In the following year, 1335, the same two benefactors, Hayward (or Heyward) and Creton, after a further inquisition held in Smithfield, (fn. 52) obtained licence (fn. 53) to grant 158 acres and 4s. 6d. rent in Little Stanmore to the prior and convent to celebrate daily, also at the altar of St. Bartholomew, for the soul of 'John de Pekesdene'. The entry on the Patent Rolls does not say that he was the then prior, but we assume that the prior is indicated, though he was still living, and not some one else of the same name.

In 1341 John de Bredstrete bequeathed the reversion of eight shops for the maintenance of a chantry (fn. 54) in this church; and in the following year William de Erthyngton bequeathed (fn. 55) certain rents to the prior and convent and willed to be buried in the church, 'if so be that they would undertake to provide a chantry there for the good of his soul'; otherwise to the nuns of St. Elena (St. Helen's, Bishopsgate). As the prior and convent were fined 40 marks in the year 1374 (fn. 56) for not obtaining the king's licence for holding these tenements in St. Martin's Outwich, no doubt they did comply with the will.

There were at this time other bequests made for the good of the souls of the testators, but they were not specifically made for the endowment of a chantry priest; thus : In 1348 Roesia, widow of John de Knopwede, bequeathed (fn. 57) shops and a garden in the parish of St. Botolph, 'Aldrichesgate', to keep the souls of herself, her father and her mother in remembrance (no mention of that of her departed husband!). And in the following year William, son of Martin de Isyldon, bequeathed houses in the parish of St. Michael Cornhill for pious uses and for the good of the souls of himself and members of his family (fn. 58) (named). Chantries at this period were also founded at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in which case the chaplains were presented to the prior or sub-prior on appointment. (fn. 59)

The priors of St. Bartholomew's, in common with the heads of other monastic houses, were apparently loath to conform to the Mortmain Acts, and in consequence they were more than once challenged as regards their licences. Prior John was twice so challenged; on the first occasion he was in the right, on the second he was in the wrong. Thus in the year 1320 the escheator of the king had seized a messuage acquired in fee from Adam de Milkestrate in the parish of St. Benedict Wodewharf, on the pretext that it had been acquired since the publication of the statute of Mortmain (1279) and without licence. On complaint to the king an inquisition was held, (fn. 60) when the prior was successful in proving that the property had been obtained by Prior Robert de Novo Loco (who died 1261) (fn. 61) long before the Mortmain Act was published, and the king instructed the escheator (fn. 62) not to meddle further with it and to restore the profits to the prior without delay.

The second case was the one referred to earlier in this chapter, (fn. 63) when, in the year 1313, William de Wibsuade and John de Honnesdone had wrongly bequeathed property to the prior and convent without licence, and in consequence the bequest of Geoffrey had, in the year 1321, been seized by the escheator. The king, however, granted pardon for these trespasses with restitution of the property.

In the year 1330 the prior made an exchange with the prior of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, of 6s. rent in the parish of St. Sepulchre and 'Little Stanmere', due to the prior from the hospital, and of a release of the tithes of corn out of the demesne lands of the hospital in St. Sepulchre's, for 6 acres of meadow in Little Stanmore; but licence was here first obtained, it is stated, 'by the prior of the hospital'. (fn. 64)

In the year 1335 the prior had to obtain licence (fn. 65) before he could appropriate the glebe and tithe of the church of 'Theydon Boys', of which he already held the advowson. The frequent application for licence to acquire in mortmain was a costly process (as the church authorities find it to-day), so, in the year 1337, the prior and convent obtained from the king licence to acquire in mortmain land and rent, not held in chief, to the yearly value of £20, (fn. 66) as before referred to. (fn. 67) Whilst the prior could thus acquire property without a fresh licence on each occasion, it was still necessary for the benefactor to obtain licence to grant, which necessitated a preliminary inquisitio ad quod damnum.

Thus in the year 1340, when Roger de Creton (the founder of the two chantries referred to above) and James of White Nottelee wished to grant a messuage in St. Botolph's parish and a messuage and three shops in St. Sepulchre's (held of the prior by the service of one clove gillyflower yearly), an inquest had to be held (fn. 68) as to whether it would be any damage to the king to permit them to grant this property in part satisfaction of the £20 of lands and rents per annum which the priory had licence to buy under the king's Letters Patent; and this was followed by the king's licence (fn. 69) to make the grant.

Another instance occurred in the year 1342, when an inquisition had to be held (fn. 70) before John Darcy le Cosyn could grant 222 acres and 38s. of rent in 'Tewyngge Hertfordyngbery and Pansangre'. Licence was given him by the king a fortnight later, (fn. 71) the priory acquiring the property under this licence.

All future grants were acquired under this annual licence and the grants were very numerous in the first half of the century.

Roger de Creton, the chaplain, continued making grants to the priory until his death in 1348; thus in the year 1344, after inquisition held, he and John de Affebregge obtained licence to alienate (fn. 72) to the prior and convent two messuages in London; and he and Roger and Richard de Birton two messuages and three shops in the suburbs of London.

Also in 1347, after inquisition taken at 'Tewyng', Roger de Creton, with the same Richard de Birton, had licence to alienate in mortmain to the prior and convent 2 messuages, one carucate of land (65 acres of which were held by Roger de Luda by knight's service), (fn. 73) 33 acres and 16s. rent in 'Tewyng'. (fn. 74)

And lastly, in 1348, Roger de Creton, who had a brother Robert also a chaplain, bequeathed to the prior and convent houses, &c., in the parish of 'St. Mary de Stanynglane', and in 'Wendageyneslane' (fn. 75) and elsewhere in the parish of St. Sepulchre, in order that he might partake of all the spiritual good things done by the said prior and convent and their successors. (fn. 76)

Most of the events during the priorate of John de Pekesden have been alluded to already in the chapter on the monastery: such as the assembly of the barons in the hall of the monastery in 1321; (fn. 77) a call to raise men against the Earl of Lancaster in 1322; and the harrying of the prior to collect subsidies for the war in 1337. (fn. 78)

Towards the end of his priorate, the victory of Crécy, in the year 1346, must have raised the hopes of the monastery that the war would cease, but there was something worse than the war in store for them. In the year 1348 came the first visitation of the terrible plague known as the Black Death, which carried off about half the population of this country. The same epidemic ravaged the land again in the years 1361 and 1369, and seriously affected the revenues of the monasteries, because, many of their lands in consequence being unoccupied, no rent was forthcoming.

This prior obtained no new large privileges, but he consolidated and carefully nursed those he had, and when they were encroached upon, as we have seen, he fought for them. In the year 1321 he had to defend his Fair when served with a writ of Quo Warranto, (fn. 79) to show 'by what warrant he claimed to hold a fair on the eve, the day and the morrow of St. Bartholomew, with the rights of fairs and soc and sac of his free tenants within the City of London and suburbs; and that all his goods and men were quit for all that they themselves bought and sold in markets, and in every passing over ways and bridges, from tolls, from ferry, and wayfarers' toll; from pontage and pavage, (fn. 80) from wharfage and lastage, (fn. 81) from stallage (fn. 82) and supplying of straw; from escapes of murderers; and from work on forts, walls, dykes, bridges, and causeways; from toll for things carried and for horse loads or for carrying any goods, whether by land or by water; from aid to sheriffs and their officers, from castleguard and wardpenny, (fn. 83) escapes on the apprehension of a thief; from keeping watches and from every tax and from villein labour', &c.

The prior claimed that he and his predecessors had had the fair from time before memory, and that Henry II had granted by charter, which had been confirmed by Henry III, and again by Edward I, that all things that flowed from the rights to fairs should belong to the canons of the church; and as to the liberties and quittances, he pleaded that the charter of Henry II had granted that the canons should be free from every subjection and earthly service, including the obligations enumerated above.

It was argued for the king that the prior ought not to enjoy the fair and the liberties and the quittances, because he had not used them at the times aforesaid; therefore a jury of 12 men (all named) was summoned to inquire into the matter, and they reported that the prior and his predecessors had held the fair from time before memory, and that they had enjoyed the liberties and quittances from the time of the execution of the charters down to that day. But they said that the men of the prior and of his predecessors had not enjoyed the quittances from work on walls, dykes, bridges, and causeways, castleguard and wardpenny, from keeping watches and every other tax within the liberty of the city, for they said that the men and the tenants of the prior in the city and suburbs had been wont to contribute together with the citizens in all aids and contributions assessed upon the community of the city, as other freemen of the city. Therefore the prior was 'discharged without a day fixed, saving the king's rights, etc.' (that is, he proved his case).

Quite early in his priorate, in the year 1318, Pekesden had taken the precaution of obtaining from Edward II letters patent (fn. 84) inspecting and exemplifying the confirmation by Henry II (about 1176) of the grant by Henry I in the year 1133. The letters also inspected the charter of protection by the same king (Henry II) dated at Windsor probably in the same year; and the charter of protection given by Richard I at Rouen in 1190. (But for this inspeximus of King Edward we should have had no knowledge, as has been already said, of these two charters of Henry II.) (fn. 85)

In the year 1324 the prior obtained a charter from the king, dated at Westminster the 10th June, which inspected and confirmed the charter of 18 Edward I, dated at Westminster on the 10th July 1290, which inspected and confirmed the two charters of Henry III given in 1253, (fn. 86) one of which inspected the charter of Henry II, which we have attributed to the year 1173. (fn. 87)

This charter of Edward II was granted by fine of 40s. in favour not only of the prior and convent, but also of the master and brethren of the hospital, for which reason, no doubt, it was transcribed by Cok in his cartulary of the hospital. (fn. 88) It was witnessed by:

Walter Reynolds, the Archbishop of Canterbury (1314–1327), (who crowned Edward III).
John Salmon, Bishop of Norwich (1299–1325), (who had been the Chancellor in 1319–1323).
Stephen de Gravesend, Bishop of London (1319–1338), (who tried to mediate between the king and his queen Isabella).
Adomar (Aymer) de Valence, Earl of Pembroke, (who was at the battle of Bannockburn).
Edmund, Earl of Arundel, (who joined Lancaster against Gaveston, and was captured and executed by Isabella and Mortimer in 1326).
Hugh le Despenser, Earl of Winchester, (probably the elder, who with his son was also captured by Isabella and executed in 1326).

The other witnesses were:

John de Clavering, and
Richard Dammony, described as 'steward of our hospice'.

In the year 1336 (on November 4th) one of the canons, Richard of Eggeswere, brought the above charter of 18 Edward I (1290) to the Court of Exchequer for enrolment, (fn. 89) a precaution which the master of the hospital (described as the prior of the hospital) had taken two years before in respect to the charter of 17 Edward II (1324) referred to above.

John de Pekesden, like John de Kensington, his predecessor, was evidently a careful man of affairs who had the confidence of all those with whom he was associated. It has been already seen in the chapter on the Order that in 1328, at the General Chapter of the Order, he was one of the nine superiors in whose hands was the chief authority of the whole chapter; (fn. 90) that in 1329 he was appointed one of the executors of the will of master Richard of Gloucester concerning St. Paul's and St. Mary's Spital; (fn. 91) and that in 1340 he was also executor to the will of Thomas Bacoun of Newton, Suffolk. (fn. 92) In 1328 he was associated with the Bishop of London and the Abbot of Westminster in the induction of the new master of St. Thomas of Acon. (fn. 93) In 1340 he was ordered (with others) by the pope to defend the benefices and possessions of the Bishop of Tusculum. (fn. 94) He was frequently employed by the pope in the matter of reservations, as in the years 1345, 1347, and 1349. In the latter year he was employed by him as examiner for the office of notary. (fn. 95)

As regards the hospital, Pekesden had to approve the election of at least four masters during his priorate. In the year 1321, William de Actone, the master, we are told, had been deceitfully persuaded by one Simon Dowel or Doyle to resign the mastership, (fn. 96) and Doyle succeeded him. He was, however, deposed the following year by the Bishop of London and Actone was reinstated. In the year 1324 Actone again resigned; this time of his own free will. At his request, and at that of the brethren and sisters of the hospital, the bishop collated William le Rows or Rouse to the mastership. (fn. 97) But whether the prior had any voice in these two elections does not appear. No doubt he would have had to approve the election of Thomas Litlington, alias London, in 1338, and of Thomas Willy in 1341; also of Laurence Cranden in 1342 and of Walter Basingboone, or Bassyngbourne, probably in 1346, (fn. 98) who resigned in 1354.

After ruling the monastery as prior for 34 years, Pekesden died in May 1350, for on the 25th of that month licence was granted to the sub-prior and convent 'to elect a prior in the room of John Pekesden deceased'. (fn. 99)


  • 1. Hist. MSS. Com. Report, 4, p. 389, MSS. Ormesby-Gore at Brogyntyn, No. 109.
  • 2. Inq. a. q. d., 14 Edw. II, No. 12.
  • 3. Year Book, 14 Edw. III, p. 318.
  • 4. See p. 8.
  • 5. Cal. Close, 10 Edw. II, 28 Nov. (1316).
  • 6. Ib., 10 Edw. II, 28 Dec. (1316).
  • 7. Ib., 19 Edw III, 30 Aug. (1345).
  • 8. Hust. R., No. 57. m. 116, 3 Edw. III.
  • 9. Hust. R., No. 104, m. 14, 107, 50 Edw. III.
  • 10. Cal. Close, 10 Mar., 6 Rich. II.
  • 11. Pat., 16 Hen. VI, p. 2, m. 40 (1438) (now calendared).
  • 12. Part VII, p. 11, No. 43. In French.
  • 13. Also so called in Chanc. Inq. P.M., 13 Edw. I, n. 125 (1285).
  • 14. Pat., 16 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 40 (as above).
  • 15. See Giles Jacob, New Law Dictionary, 1750, reciting 'The New Terms of Law'.
  • 16. Anc. Pet. R.O. 2/13 7/2 2/70.
  • 17. See App. I. p. 498.
  • 18. The archbishop's injunctions arising from this visitation are dated 1303.
  • 19. A general word for all taxes. Tallage was applicable to all tenants on all demesnes; but in the case of ancient demesne more tallage was levied on account of exemption from other tolls.
  • 20. Mem. R. L.T.R., 19 Edw. II, Mich., m. 31 d (about 107 lines) (1325.
  • 21. Above, p. 101.
  • 22. Above, p. 104.
  • 23. A clerical error of the exchequer scribe for seventeenth year (1324).
  • 24. Recorded in Mem. R. L.T.R., 1 Edw. III, Trin., m. 46 d and 47 (1327).
  • 25. Ib., dated 14 Feb., 18 Edw. II (1325).
  • 26. Cal. Pat., 15 Edw. III, 20 Feb. (1341).
  • 27. Lands and rents.
  • 28. Lewis, Islington, p. 11.
  • 29. Close, 15 Edw. III, p. 1, m. 37 d (from transcript), 1341.
  • 30. Cal. Close, 26 Edw. III (1352).
  • 31. See above, p. 145.
  • 32. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 427.
  • 33. Cal. Close, 14 Edw. II, 4 Feb.(1321).
  • 34. Close, 17 Edw. II, m. 28 d (1323), Feast of St. Lucy, 13 Dec. (Cal. since published).
  • 35. Cal. Close, 17 Edw. II, 13 Dec. (1323).
  • 36. Feet of Fines, Herts, 17 Edw. II, n. 376 (1324). See also below, p. 365.
  • 37. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 301, 13 Dec.
  • 38. Pat., 16 Edw. II, pt. II, m. 14, 14 Apr. (1323).
  • 39. Chanc. Inq. a. q. d., File 195, No. 11, 1 Edw. III, 6 Oct.
  • 40. See p. 146.
  • 41. Cal. Pat., 1 Edw. III, 5 Nov. (1327).
  • 42. Feet of Fines, Middlesex, 2 Edw. III, No. 11, 13 June (1328).
  • 43. See below, p. 357.
  • 44. Newcourt, Rep. i, 570, quoting Reg. Lond. Braybroke, 226.
  • 45. St. Paul's Lib., Box 41, No. 1509.
  • 46. This name fills a gap in Le Neve's list.
  • 47. Cal. Pat., 1 Edw. III, 6 Feb.
  • 48. Cal. Pat., 5 Edw. III, 22 Oct.
  • 49. Cal. Pat., 8 Edw. III, 10 Aug.
  • 50. Chanc. Inq., a. q. d., File 227, No. 17.
  • 51. See above, p. 149.
  • 52. Cal. Pat., 232, 9 Edw. III, 3 Apr.
  • 53. Ib., 9 Edw. III, 20 Apr.
  • 54. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 451.
  • 55. Ib. i, 466.
  • 56. Pat., 48 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 22.
  • 57. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 508.
  • 58. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 578.
  • 59. Above, p. 86; N. Moore, Hist. St. B.'s Hosp. i, 575.
  • 60. Chanc. Inq., a. q. d., 14 Edw. II, No. 12, 8 Dec. (1320).
  • 61. See above, p. 130.
  • 62. Close, 14 Edw. II, m. 11, 28 Jan. (A.D. 1321). Also Cal. Close, 288.
  • 63. See above, p. 145.
  • 64. Cal. Pat. 13, 4 Edw. III, 15 Oct. (1330).
  • 65. Ib., 9 Edw. III, 11 Oct.
  • 66. Cal. Pat., 11 Edw. III, 20 Oct.
  • 67. See p. 7.
  • 68. Chanc. Inq., a. q. d., 253/17, 14 Edw. III, 22 July.
  • 69. Cal. Pat., 14 Edw. III, 20 Nov.
  • 70. Chanc. Inq., a. q. d., 262/16, 16 Edw. III, 25 Aug.
  • 71. Cal. Pat., 16 Edw. III, Aug. 29.
  • 72. Ib., 18 Edw. III, 16 Feb.
  • 73. Ib., 21 Edw. III, 6 Oct.
  • 74. Chanc. Inq., a. q. d., 283/4, 21 Edw. III, 10 Aug.
  • 75. Windagain Lane, 36 Farringdon St.
  • 76. Cal. Hust. Wills, 531, 2 Feb. 1348.
  • 77. See above, p. 4.
  • 78. See above, p. 5.
  • 79. Plac. de Quo War., p. 469.
  • 80. Paving of streets.
  • 81. Carrying things bought at a fair.
  • 82. Payment for erecting stalls at a fair.
  • 83. Money paid to watch and ward.
  • 84. Cal. Pat., II Edw. II, 6 June; also App. I, below, Charter No. 19.
  • 85. See above, p. 101.
  • 86. App. I, p. 487, Charter No. 20.
  • 87. App. I, p. 478, No. 4.
  • 88. Hosp. Cart., f. 40.
  • 89. Mem. Roll L.T.R., 10 Edw. III, Michaelmas.
  • 90. Above, p. 23.
  • 91. Above, p. 10.
  • 92. Above, p. 10.
  • 93. Above, p. 14.
  • 94. Above, p. 14.
  • 95. Above, p. 16.
  • 96. Reg. Lond., Baldock, f. 50. Visitation of Wm. de Gravesend. Printed by Cant. and York Soc. London, i, p. 230.
  • 97. Hosp. Cart., f. 62, gives the date of accession 1327, or 19 Edw. II, which would be 1325–6; but the Pat. Roll, 16 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 4, shows that the year was 1322–3.
  • 98. Cranden died 1346. Bassingboone, the next master named, occurs as master in Close Rolls 11 Aug. 1350.
  • 99. Cal. Pat., 24 Edw. III, 25 May.