The Stone cartulary: Introduction

Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1. Originally published by Staffordshire Record Society, London, 1885.

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'The Stone cartulary: Introduction', in Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1, ed. G Wrottesley( London, 1885), British History Online [accessed 15 July 2024].

'The Stone cartulary: Introduction', in Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1. Edited by G Wrottesley( London, 1885), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024,

"The Stone cartulary: Introduction". Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1. Ed. G Wrottesley(London, 1885), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024.

In this section

The Stone Chartulary.


According to the ancient monastic tradition, Wolphere or Wulfer, the first Christian King of Mercia, founded a religious house at Stone for nuns and a priest, circa 670, in expiation of the barbarous murder of his two sons Wolfade and Rufin, who, before his own conversion, he had put to death, in consequence of their having embraced the Christian faith. (fn. 1)

Wolphere's hermitage or nunnery was converted in the reign of Henry I. into a priory, under circumstances very characteristic of the age, and which are thus described in an old rhyming chronicle in black letter which hung on a tablet in the refectory of the monks at the date of the suppression of the Priory in 29 H. VIII.:—

"In the time of the Conquest was the Lord of Stafford
Baron Robert, which here was chief Lord,
And in his life time befel such a rase
That two nuns and one priest lived in this place,
The which were slayne by one Enysan,
That come over with William Conqueror than.
This Enysan slew the nuns and preest alsoe.
Because his sister should have this church thoe;
But for that offence he did to Saint Wolfade
His sister soon died, and himself great vengeance had.
And when Enisan this cruel deed had doone,
The blessed Baron Robert bethought himself soone
To Killingworth anon that he would goe,
And tell Geffrey of Clinton there of his woe,
Which was in the Castle of Killingworth then dwelling,
And was Chamberlain to first King Henry the King,
And founder of that Castle and Abbey alsoe;
Which counselled this blessed Baron Robert tho'
To restore and helpe Saint Wolfad's house again
And make canons there in steed of the nuns that
Enysan had slayne," etc., etc.

This old legendary account of the foundation of the Priory, temp. H. I., appears to be confirmed to some extent by the deeds relating to Stone which were printed in Vol. II. "Staffordshire Collections," and by the following extract from the Pipe Roll of 31 H. I.

"Ernaldus filius Enisand debet x. marcas ut habeat pacem de hominibus quos interfecit."

Eyton however is of opinion that this entry on the Pipe Roll of a.d. 1130 has no connection with the re-founding of the Priory temp. H. I. He writes at page 200 of Vol. II. of these Collections:—

"One form of the monastic legend says that Stone Priory was founded by Enisan de Walton, at the dictation of Geoffrey de Clinton and Robert (sic) de Stafford, and as an expiation for the said Enisan having murdered two nuns and a priest at the Hermitage of St. Wulfade. Doubtless the original Church and Hermitage of St. Wulfade of Stone were founded in expiation of a murder, but that murder was committed some centuries before Enisan de Walton's time. Doubtless also, there was a second murder, and murder of men, not of women, at or near Stone, but it was perpetrated not by Enisan but by his son Ernald, before the latter had succeeded to Walton, but after the Church of Stone was purchased from Enisan and given to Kenilworth. It was expiated, moreover, not by any foundation of a priory, but by a round fine, payable to the Crown, and very possibly inflicted by the Justiciar Clinton."

I am inclined however to attach more weight to the tradition than Eyton, and think it very probable that Geoffrey de Clinton the Justiciary, Chamberlain and the powerful favourite of Henry I., had taken advantage of an homicide committed by Ernald de Walton to extract from Enisan the father of Ernald grants of land in Walton and Stone, in order to benefit his newly founded Priory of Kenilworth. It is true that Ernald was fined 10 marks for his offence, but the reader will not fail to observe that for another homicide committed by Liulph de Audley, the amercement on the same Roll amounted to more than 200 marks.

The Priory remained a cell to Kenilworth until a.d. 1292, (fn. 2) when it was freed from subjection to that House, saving only the right of patronage and a yearly pension.

The following synopsis of the property of the Priory is taken from the "Valor Ecclesiasticus," temp. H. VIII.

In Stone they held rents of assize from tenants, and rents of burgages and cottages, and perquisites of Court. Here the Canons evidently had a Manor Court.

In Aston, Stoke, and Darlaston (in Stone), and Burston, they possessed rents from tenants.

They also possessed rents in Meyford (Meaford), Hildreston (Hilderston), Stafford, Shebridge (Seabridge), and Fulford.

In Walton they possessed rents of assize, i.e. commuted rents from customary tenants and others. These tenants doubtless and others performed suit and service to the Manor Court at Stone.

At Stallington and Tittensor they possessed manors which were at farm; and they appear also to have had another manor at Burston at farm.

The most valuable portion of their possessions were their Rectories. That of Stone was valued at £39 annually, and they held in addition those of Tysoe in Warwickshire, and Madeley and Milwich in Staffordshire, an annual pension of £2 from the Rector of Swynnerton, and another of £1 from the Rector of Checkley. When a religious house possessed a Rectory it appropriated the great tythes to itself, and placed a vicar at a small stipend to perform the duties of the Church. On the dissolution of the religious houses these Rectories passed into the hands of laymen either by purchase or by gift from the Crown, and it is owing to this circumstance that the great tithes of so many parishes are now in lay appropriation. (fn. 3)

The deeds conveying all the above property to the House will be found either in the Chartulary now printed, or in the Cottonian Charter, XIII., 6. This latter document is one of great interest. Its description is a misnomer, as it is really a roll of parchment which formed originally a part of the archives of the Priory, and is of much earlier date than the Chartulary. All the deeds of most importance from this old Roll have been printed and annotated by Eyton in Vol. II. of these Collections, pages 201, 210–217 and 233–238, and in these notes the reader will find the best and most authoritative account of the foundation and early history of Stone Priory.

No further lands were acquired by the Convent subsequent to the date of the deeds in this Chartulary. The religious zeal which founded these houses seems to have evaporated before the Statutes of Mortmain of the reign of Edward I., and the latter proved a permanent obstacle to further acquisitions.

The Chartulary, of which an abstract is here given, is an octavo of forty-three pages of vellum, written in a character of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; a note on the first page states it was given to Sir Robert Cotton by Christopher, Baron Hatton. Its official designation at the British Museum is Cottonian MS. Vespasian E. XXIV.


  • 1. See the "New Monasticon," which gives the legend at full length from an old chronicle in the British Museum. Wolpher is the same name as Guelph.
  • 2. This date is taken from the deed at folio 30 of the Chartulary. Dugdale quotes a document relating to this transaction in his "History of Warwickshire," but gives a.d. 1260 for the supposed date of it.
  • 3. The method of levying tythe in kind was so productive of loss and trouble to the cultivators, that the lords of manors and owners of land from which the tythe was raised purchased them in most instances from the Crown on the dissolution of the religious houses, in order to preclude vexatious interference of strangers with their tenants. In all these cases the Crown seems to have exacted the full value of the tythe from the purchaser, for I find that Walter Wrottesley paid over twenty years' purchase for the great tythes of the College of Tettenhall on its suppression, and this is more than the value of freehold land at this date. Touching appropriation, Bishop Hobhouse informs me, "This alienation could only be effected by the Diocesan, with consent of the Dean and Chapter, upon the Patron's petition; and when completed in due form it secured a portion of tithes and glebe for the resident priest who was, under name of Vicar, to officiate for the absentee rector impropriate. Sometimes the "ordinatio vicariæ" or assignment of vicar's sustentation was neglected, and then the whole of the "ecclesia" or revenue was in the absentee rector's hands, subject only to the burdens of providing spiritual offices and visitation fees. This great abuse was resisted by the Papal authority wielded by the Legates Otto and Ottobon in the 13th century, and by statute in the 15th century, but to this day it subsists in full mischief."