Staffordshire Pleas: Henry III

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

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

'Staffordshire Pleas: Henry III', in Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1. Edited by G Wrottesley( London, 1885), British History Online, accessed July 15, 2024,

"Staffordshire Pleas: Henry III". Staffordshire Historical Collections, Vol. 6 Part 1. Ed. G Wrottesley(London, 1885), , British History Online. Web. 15 July 2024.

In this section

Staffordshire Pleas Temp. Hen. III.

Taken from Additional MS. No. 12269, British Museum.

The MS. from which these suits are taken has lately been an object of much interest amongst archæologists, owing to a communication made by Professor Paul Vinogradoff, of the Moscow University, to the "Athenæum" newspaper, (fn. 1) in which the writer shows that it consists of an abstract of pleas made by Bracton temp. Hen. III., for his great work on the Law.

The MS. is a folio of 297 leaves of vellum closely written over on both sides in a hand of the 13th century, and contains abstracts of more than a thousand cases, decided by judges between the second and twenty-fourth years of Henry III. Of the Plea Rolls from which these cases have been taken, no less than twenty-nine are no longer in existence, and amongst the suits on these long lost rolls are a few relating to Staffordshire, translations of which are now given.

Folio 197b.

Headed, "Prima Placita apud Westm. post pacem factam inter Dominum Regem et Barones suos, anno regni Regis Henrici, filii Regis Johannis, secundo, de termino Sancti Michaelis." (Michaelmas Term, 2 H. III.)

Staff. An assize of last presentation to the Church of Swynnerton, the advowson of which the King claimed against the Prior of Kenillewurth, who appeared and pleaded the Church was not vacant, because he and the Canons of Kenillewurth had presented to it, and he produced a charter of Robert de Swynnerton, by which it was testified that Robert for the soul of his father, (fn. 2) etc., had given to the Church of S. Wulfade of Stanes, etc., all the right he had in the Church of Swynnerton, etc.; and he produced also the charter of Hugh, the Bishop of Coventry, which testified that at the presentation of the Prior and Canons of Stanes, he had given the Church to Adam the Chaplain, saving a pension of 2s. to the said Canons.

And Robert de Chelves: Clerk, who had been presented to the Church by the King, stated that the King had presented him by reason of his possession of the land of Swynnerton at the time the Parson died, inasmuch as Robert de Swynnerton, the son of the aforesaid Robert, who is lord of that land, was at that time in sententiâ, (fn. 3) and at the present time was suing for the presentation; and he produced letters patent of the said Robert, which testified that he confirmed (ratam et gratam habuit) the presentation by the King. And because Robert de Swynnerton, who now holds the land, was not present in Court, and the King could not claim any right except through the said Robert, it is considered that he should be summoned to show what right he claimed in the said advowson. A day was given to the Prior, in Banco, and the present suit to remain over until the same day. Folio 197b.

Folio 200.

Staff. Alice, the widow of Adam the Clerk, sued William de Grisele (Gresley) for a third of half a virgate of land in Morton as her dower, and of which Adam had endowed her.

William appeared and stated that Adam her husband had been hanged for his wickedness (nequitiâ suâ), and for robbery and other felonies of which he had been indicted and found guilty before Geoffrey fitz Piers, the Chief Justice. Alice stated he had not been hanged for any wickedness or felony, but at the will of the Sheriff, and without any judgment, and the Sheriff had been fined 30 marks for it, and she appealed to the record of the County Court and William also. It is therefore considered that the Sheriff should cause to be recorded before the Coroners of the County, in what manner and when, and for what cause, the said Adam was hanged, and should transmit the record into Court under his seal and the seals of the Coroners. Folio 200.

Folio 287.

Headed, "De Itincre M. de Patteshull et Sociorum suorum (in) Comitatu Stafford, anno Regis H. v. incipiente vi."

An assize, etc., if Henry de Fulford and Thomas his brother, had disseised Alan, son of Gilbert, and Matania his wife, of their free tenement in Fulford, etc. The jury say they had been unjustly disseised, and Alan is to recover seisin, and it is noted that Richard de Lee was named as one of the disseisors in the writ, but he had died, and the others hold the whole tenement, therefore the assize was taken against them.

An assize, etc., if Richard Kelling had disseised John, son of William, of his free tenement in Ruggele (Rugeley), etc. Richard pleaded that Ruggele was a demesne manor of the King, where no assize could be taken. And the whole county being questioned (totus Comitatus quesitus), state that there had always been assizes of novel disseisin taken of that vill at the coming of the Justices. The assize was therefore taken, and the jury found he had been disseised as stated.

An assize, etc., if Thomas, son of Roger, had unjustly disseised Thomas, son of Nicholas, and Dionisia his wife, of their free tenement in Aluredeston (Alston), etc. The jury say he had never disseised them, because they were in seisin of it, but Dionisia was for some time (cum jure suâ), because it was her dower, but she had no seisin of it as of fee. It is therefore considered that Thomas should be dismissed from the suit, and Thomas and Dionisia are in misericordiâ.

An assize, etc., if John Bagod and others had unjustly disseised John de Brunton of common of pasture in Brinton appurtenant to his free tenement in the same vill. The jury say it is true that John had assarted a part of the wood, viz., about two and a half acres of the moor, where the plaintiff used to common, and had enclosed them, but he had common everywhere else, and sufficient for his tenement. The plaintiff withdrew his writ.

An assize, etc., if Peter de Durantestorp had unjustly disseised Roger Cheles of his free tenement in Little Rideware, etc. Peter pleaded that Roger had no free tenement in the vill. The jury say that Robert Cheles, whose inheritance the land was, whilst in extremis had committed the land to his younger brother Roger de Cheles, as custos with his children, who were then under age, and after Robert's death the land remained in Roger's custody till his death. Notwithstanding the children had reached their full age after Roger's death, Roger the plaintiff had held it for two seasons (per duas vesturas), and then Peter came, and as capital lord had ejected him and put the children of Robert the eldest brother into seisin. It is therefore considered that there had been no unlawful disseisin.

An assize, etc., if John de Gnoweshale, the uncle of Henry de Rewel, was seised, etc., of twelve acres of land in the same vill, which land Adam the Chaplain holds. Adam pleaded he did not hold the land, nor did he hold it at the date the writ was sued out, because one Alditha, his ancilla, holds it of his gift. The jury being questioned, and not upon oath (absque sacramento), say that Alditha holds the land, and held it when the writ was sued out. The suit is therefore dismissed.

Folio 287 b.

An assize, etc., if Robert de Bec and others had unjustly disseised Robert de Kavereswell of his free tenement in Hopton. Robert de Bec stated that the mother of Robert de Cavereswell, whose inheritance the land is, was the wife of a priest, and he is son to the priest, and his mother died seised of the land, without leaving any lawful heir of her body, so that he never had seisin of it. Robert de Cavereswell stated he was seised of it for fourteen years during his mother's lifetime, who died during the war, and after the war he had recovered seisin by a writ, and had held the land for two years. The jury say there was no disseisin, because Robert de Cavereswell never was in seisin of the land, except at a time of war, and he had then come in by an intrusion, and that Robert and the other defendants had immediately ejected him. Verdict for Robert de Bec and the other defendants.

An assize, etc., if Milo de Verdun had unjustly disseised Henry, son of Richard, of his free tenement in Creiton (Creighton). Milo did not appear, but Amabilla his wife appeared for him, and stated that no tenement was named in the writ, and asked for what Henry was suing; and Henry replied for suit of the land, and of the men of the said Milo de Creyton to the mill of Henry at Crakemere (Crakemarsh). Amabilla asked for judgment whether an assize of novel disseisin could be arraigned for such a suit (de tali sectâ), as of a free tenement. It is considered that there was no free tenement, and the suit was dismissed.

An assize, etc., whether half an acre of meadow in Blumenhull was the free alms of the Church of Blumenhull (Blymhill), of which Herbert de Blumenhull was Parson, or the lay fee of John de Brunton, who appeared and called to warranty John Bagod, by a charter which he produced; and John Bagod was present, and stated that the meadow was not appurtenant to the land named in the deed, and therefore he ought not to be called to warranty; and he stated also that Herbert was seised of the meadow before he had given the land to John, and John had obtained it from Herbert through a daughter of Herbert whom he had married, and after her death Herbert wished to recover the land, and had therefore arraigned this assize. John stated he entered through John Bagod, and not through Herbert. The jury say the meadow is the free alms of the Church, and not the lay fee of John, and is not appurtenant to the land for which John holds the deed of John Bagod. Herbert is therefore to recover seisin.

Emma, the widow of Richard, son of Stepy (sic), sued Robert, son of Robert, for half a messuage in Lichefeud, in which Robert had no entry except by Robert de Galiâ, his father, to whom Richard had sold it, and during his lifetime Emma could make no objection. And Robert is within age, and pleaded his non-age, but because his father was present and acknowledged he had given the messuage to him, it was considered that the father should answer for it. Robert stated that Richard the husband and Emma had sold the tenement to him for 6 marks, and had released it before all the vill (et coram totâ villatâ abjuraverunt illud), according to the usage of the vill. And the vill of Lichefeud say it was not the custom of their vill that anyone could sell the marriage portion (maritagium) of his wife, and Emma denied that she had ever sold it. It is therefore considered that she should recover seisin.

An assize of novel disseisin, which Hugh de Brugfeld arraigned against Henry de Parles, remanet, because Hugh had died. It was afterwards testified that his son, who had the same name, had arraigned the assize; it therefore proceeds.

Pleas of Hillary Term, 6 H. III.

Oxon. Alice de Bendeng sued Robert Purcel (fn. 4) (who had been called to warranty by Eustace Purcel, who warranted to him) for two virgates of land in Sandewall, as her dower appurtenant to the free tenement she holds in the same vill of the gift of William fitz Ralph, formerly her husband, because she had been endowed of the whole of the manor.

Robert stated she was not entitled to the land as dower, because a fine was levied in the Court of King Richard respecting the same land between Ralph Purcel his father, and William fitz Ralph, and which he produced, and which testified that the said Ralph claimed two virgates of land in Weston, etc., (fn. 5) and for this quit claim the said William had given to Ralph two virgates in Saundewell, to be held of him by the service of one sorehawk annually; and he stated that Peter son of the said William ought to warrant the land to him, and he called him to warranty, and Peter appeared and warranted it to him. Peter afterwards acknowledged that his mother Alice had been endowed of the land, and by permission of the Justices he gave it up to her. She is therefore to have seisin, and Peter is to compensate Robert for its value during the lifetime of Alice, and the land after her death is to revert to Robert. And Robert is to compensate Eustace Purcel and Margaret (sic) the widow of William, to whom he had warranted the land. And as Peter holds no other land in this county, the Sheriff is ordered to make an extent (valuation) of it, and to return the valuation into Court, etc. Folio 23.

Pleas of Easter Term, 9 H. III.

Staff. William son of John sued William son of William de Abbedeston for half a virgate of land in Abbedeston, and he sued William father of William for a virgate of land in the same vill, of which John his father was seised in the reign of King Richard, and from John the right descended to this William as son and heir, and he offered to prove it by the body of his free man Roger de Frankvile, ete.

And William son of William called his father to warranty for his half, who appeared and warranted the land to him, and defended his right and seisin to it by the body of his free man Gerard de Colton, etc. It is therefore considered that a duel should be fought between them, and a day was given to them when the champions are to come with their arms; at which day both the plaintiff and defendant essoined themselves, and they had another day given to them by their essoins. On which day William the tenant came with his champion (cum campione suo) armed, and they offered themselves on the first day, on the second, third, and fourth days; and William the plaintiff never appeared, nor his champion. It is therefore considered that William the defendant and his heirs shall hold the land in peace, and the plaintiff and his champion are in misericordiâ. The champion is to be arrested (campio capiatur). Folio 158.

Staff. Geva Basset sued Richard son of William for a third of a rent of 4s., and of five vivaries, six acres of land, and a messuage in Bromwic as her dower. Richard did not appear, and the summons was proved. The dower claimed is therefore to be taken into the King's hands, and he is to be summoned again for the Quisdene of Michaelmas; and William de Bromwic, the custos of Richard, is not named in the writ, but he holds no land, except in custody with the said Richard. The suit is therefore to proceed against Richard. Folio 159.

Pleas of Easter Term, 10 H. III.

Staff. Robert de Coleville sued William Rufus of Waleshale for two carucates of land in Waleshale, of which one Warine de Waleshale his grandfather was seised as of fee, etc., in the time of King Henry, who was grandfather of the grandfather of the King, and from Warine the right descended to Eva his daughter, and from Eva to Robert her son and heir, who now sues.

And William appeared and stated that he ought not to be called upon to plead to the writ, because King Henry the grandfather of the King had given the land to Herbert Rufus his grandfather, by a charter which he produced, and he prayed for judgment whether the King should not warrant the land to him. It is considered that William should not be required to answer for the land before the King is of age. Folio 255.

Pleas of Michaelmas Term, 13–14 H. III.

Staff. The Abbot of Hales sued Margaret de Ripariis (Rivers) to acquit him of the service which the capital lords exacted from him for the tenement which he held of Margaret in Horeburn (Harbourne) and Smethewic, and he stated that Alexander the Bishop of Coventry distrained the said Margaret for the tenement which the Abbot holds of her for suit of court, and for scutage, by which the Abbot is damaged, etc. (fn. 6)

Margaret appeared and denied any injury to the Abbot, and stated she did not hold the fee of the Bishop of Coventry, but of William Lungespeie and Idonea his wife, and called them to warranty, because she had done homage to them. William and Idonea are therefore to be summoned in co. Berks, and the Sheriff of Stafford in the meantime is to leave the Abbot unmolested, until it was ascertained who was bound to acquit him of the service. Folio 54.

Trinity Term, 15 H. III.

Staff. Leuca de Kaunville sued Richard de Kaunville for a third of the manor of Clifton, and of its member of Honegeton (Haunton), which she claimed as appurtenant to her dower. Richard did not appear, and a day had been given to him through his essoiner. The dower claimed to be taken into the King's hand, and Richard to be summoned again. Folio 85.

Rotulus de placitis quæ sequebantur Dominum Regem H., anno regni sui vicesimo. 20 H. III.

Salop. Anketill Mallore was summoned by H. de Burgo, the Earl of Kent, to state by what warrant he held the manor of Erdlegh (Arley) which was the demesne of the Lord the King, and which the said Earl had by gift of the King, and of which he had been disseised by the will of the King (par voluntatem Domini Regis). Anketill appeared and stated that he (Anketill) had been disseised of the manor—that is so far disseised that the Sheriff impeded him at the suit (impetrationem) of the Earl, so that he could not receive his rents, nor dispose of it as he pleased, and he prayed for judgment whether he ought to be required to answer to this writ.

And the Earl of Kent stated that he was not disseised by any act of his, and he had put no impediment in his way, and if it happened that the Sheriff exceeded the mandate of the King, it was not done by him, and he was quite willing that Anketill should have full seisin, on condition he answered to the writ.

Anketill afterwards appeared and stated he had well served the King, and the King had given him the manor for his homage and service at fee farm by his charter which he produced, and which testified that he had given and confirmed to Anketill Mallore for his homage and service the manor of Erdlegh, which formerly belonged to Adam de Port, in the county of Stafford, with the advowson of the Church of the manor, to be held by him and his heirs of the King and his heirs at fee farm for 10 marks annually, and he stated he ought not to be called on to answer to the writ without the King, and prayed for judgment.

And the Earl stated that he was in seisin of the manor, and had been disseised at the will of the King, and he sued for seisin, and that he was in seisin the King had testified by his writ, and he prayed for judgment.

The Lord the King answered in the same manner as he answered in the record of Matthew Besill, (fn. 7) and therefore the judgment is the same on that point. And because the Lord the King acknowledged that the Earl was in seisin, and had been disseised by him, it is considered that the Earl should recover his seisin, and Anketill is in misericordiâ. A day is given to Anketill in a suit of warranty versus the King, as to whether the King should warrant the manor to him or not. Folio 167b.

Placita quæ sequebantur Dominum Regem H., anno regni sui vicesimo primo. 21 H. III.

Staff. The Sheriff is commanded to respite the outlawry which should be promulgated against Ralph le Foun at the next County Court for the death of Ralph son of Matilda until the next County Court after the Purification, and in the meantime to inquire by the oaths of honest and legal men of his county whether the said Ralph was indicted of the said homicide by hatred and malice (odio et atyâ), and if he killed him feloniously, or in self-defence. And an inquisition was made by Walter de Cotes and many others, who appeared, and they all say on their oath that the said Ralph did not kill Robert son of Matilda feloniously, but in self defence, for the said Robert was accustomed to come into the forest of the Earl of Ferrars day and night, and steal the wild beasts of the Earl, and Ralph was the Earl's forester, and found the said Robert one day on a certain beast (super quandam bestiam) which he and other malefactors had killed, and when Robert saw the said Ralph coming, he assaulted and wounded him, and Ralph killed him in self defence. And because it was testified that Robert was a public malefactor (pupplicus malefactor) in parks and forests, and because he had made an assault upon Ralph, and Ralph had killed him in self defence, because he could not otherwise evade his hand (ita quod se defendendo ipsum interfecit quia non potuit aliter evadere manus ejus), the Lord the King pardoned him for the death, and for the flight which he made in consequence. Folio 181.

Placita quæ sequebantur Dominum Regem H., filium Regis Johannis, anno regni sui vicesimo secundo. 22 H. III.

Staff. Anketill Mallore sued Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, for the manor of Arlegh, excepting the advowson of the Church, and which he had by gift of the King, after the said Hubert had given up to the King all the lands he held in capite, and which the King had afterwards returned to Hubert, saving the gifts he had made of them to others, and of which Anketill had been seised as of fee, and which he offered to prove by wager of battle.

And Hubert appeared by attorney and stated he ought not to be required to plead to this writ, because a certain Magister Laurence de Alvitelegh for a year before the writ was sued out was suing him, and is still suing him for two virgates of land appurtenant to the manor, and he prayed for judgment whether he should answer before it was known whether that plea would proceed or not.

Afterwards, because the plea between him and Anketill could not proceed until the suit between the Earl and Laurence was terminated, Anketill was given the choice whether he would wait the termination of that plea, or elect to proceed by a writ of novel disseisin, omitting the two virgates of land in dispute; and he elected to proceed by writ of novel disseisin, and the present suit was therefore dismissed. Folio 184b.


  • 1. Printed in the "Athenæum" of 19th July, 1884, No. 2960.
  • 2. This is probably a confirmation of the grant of his father Robert fitz Ehelen, mentioned in the deed at p. 185, Vol. III. of these Collections, and which took place between A.D. 1155 and A.D. 1159. The confirmation by Robert de Swynnerton was before A.D. 1198, as Bishop Hugh died in the latter year. This suit also shows that Robert de Swynnerton living at this date, viz., A.D. 1218, was grandson of Robert fitz Ehelen living temp. Henry I.
  • 3. Robert de Swynnerton had doubtless joined the insurgent Barons against King John, and, like many others, had been outlawed.
  • 4. Robert Purcel of Shareshill, Staffordshire.
  • 5. A sentence is omitted here, to the effect that Ralph had remitted his claim to the two virgates of land in Weston.
  • 6. This is word for word as the suit is abstracted, but a sentence must be omitted; what is probably meant is that the Abbot was distrained for the service for which Margaret was responsible to the Bishop. Harbourne and Smethwick formed half a knight's fee held under the Bishops of Lichfield and Coventry. See the notes on the "Liber Niger," Vol. I., "Staff. Coll."
  • 7. This suit occurs on the same Roll, folio 168b. Hubert de Burgh sued Matthew de Besille for the manor of Westhale in co. Suffolk, which the Earl had held by gift of the King, and of which he had been disseised by the will of the King. Matthew pleaded he held the manor by gift of the King, and produced the King's charter, and the King asked for judgment of the court if he ought to warrant the manor to Matthew and to others enfeoffed in the same way, inasmuch as Matthew and the others had given him to understand that Hubert was outlawed, and that the King could give away his lands in consequence without any judgment of a court. The court fined in favour of Hubert de Burgh.