Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Keynesham, Bath and Burford with Chaunceler

Keynesham, Bath and Burford with Chaunceler  

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

On 17th June 1489 John Chaunceler of Keynesham made his last will and testament. With this document we can journey through medieval England with the Chaunceler family.

Chaunceler at Keynesham

In his will John Chaunceler of Keynesham asked to be buried in the church of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Keynesham. John Chaunceler made a number of bequests in his will such as 5s to the cathedral church at Wells, one blue gown to Thomas Nele, one doublet of worsted to John Snelgar and 3s 4d towards the bells of the parish church at Keynesham.[1] It seems that John Chaunceler had moved to Keynesham and that he originally came from Colerne in Wiltshire.[2] This would explain why one of his daughters joined Lacock Abbey in Wiltshire.[3]

Artist impression of Keynesham Abbey

John Chaunceler gave the residue of his goods to his wife, Edith and his son, Thomas Chaunceler of Bath. He also made both the executors of his will. Sir John Batte and Sir John Fox were the witnesses to the will which was proven on 16th July 1489 and administration was granted to the executors.[4]
Other records provide some details on the life of John Chaunceler. In 1466 John Chaunceler of Keynesham gave 100 marks towards the rebuilding of the House of the Kalendaries in Bristol. The library of the House was damaged by fire early in 1466.[5]

In the court case between the prior of Bath and the abbot of St. Augustine’s at Canterbury it is recorded that John Chaunceler gave Prior John Cauntlowe (prior 1483-1499) 100 marks in return for an annual pension. This gift would seem to be a loan to the priory. It was said that Prior John Cauntlowe was a poor manager of the priory and that the priory was burdened with the associated pension. In consequence the priory made a deal with John Chaunceler to give his son (un-named) a pension of four marks per year until the prior promoted him to a benefice worth over twenty marks.[6]

Chaunceler at Bath

One of the executors of John Chaunceler was his son, Thomas Chaunceler of Bath in which town Thomas did very well for himself. On the 15th January 1496 Thomas Chaunceler, citizen of Bath, made his will. By his death in 1497 (his will was proved on 9th March 1497) Thomas Chaunceler had become a very prosperous citizen of Bath and this is reflected in his many bequests to very parish churches and abbeys along with gifts to many friends and servants.[7] He asked to be buried by the grave of John Midwinter in the Chapel of Our Lady in cathedral church at Bath.[8]

Bath cathedral 

Thomas Chaunceler further asked for a “convenable secular priest” to sing and say masses in the Lady Chapel for the soul of Joan and Margaret, the two wives of Thomas Chaunceler. The priest was also to sing for the soul of Thomas’s parents, John Chaunceler and his wife Edith. Thomas Chaunceler gave 100 marks to Prior John Cauntlowe, the same prior accused of mismanagement in the Star Chamber of Henry VII, in return for a ten mark pension to the secular priest for twenty years.[9]

Other members of the Chaunceler family mentioned by Thomas Chaunceler in his will include his wife Isabella who was to have 40 marks and household goods along with the income from a shop. William Hostiler is mention as the brother-in-law of Thomas Chaunceler and he got a weaving loom for life.[10] Thomas and Isabella Chaunceler had a number of children including Joan Chaunceler, Isabella Short, and Margery Chaunceler along with three sons, namely; Robert, William and John Chaunceler.[11] There was at least one deceased adult child of Thomas Chaunceler as he mentioned “Joan Fox, some-time daughter” in a gift of £20 to her husband, William Fox.

Among the brothers and sisters mentioned by Thomas Chaunceler of Bath, and thus children of John Chaunceler of Keynesham, include Master Richard Chaunceler who was vicar of Burford in Oxfordshire, Dame Isabella Chaunceler who was prioress of Lacock priory in Wiltshire and Joan Dale.[12]

One of the legatees of the will of Thomas Chaunceler was William Champeneys of Wilmington, a hamlet in Priston. The father of William Champeneys also gave a loan of 100 marks to Bath priory in return for an annual pension of 26s 8d for the lives of John and his son William Champeneys. Bath priory mortgaged the manor of Chelworth to pay this pension.[13]

Chaunceler at Burford

In his will Thomas Chaunceler of Bath remembered his home town of Keynesham and gave £10 to Keynesham Abbey in return for prayers for his soul. As noted above Master Richard Chaunceler, brother of Thomas Chaunceler was vicar of Burford in Oxfordshire.[14] Richard Chaunceler held Burford from 1480 to his death in 1515 along with holding other benefices at the same time.[15] The vicarage of Burford was worth between £20 and £30.[16] As such the vicarage was coveted by many clerics who took the parish income and lived elsewhere.[17] When Time Team, the television archaeological programme, visited Burford in 2010, the presenter, Sir Tony Robinson described Burford “as one of the finest medieval towns in England”. The Time Team unit investigated the Priory of the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist and discovered Anglo-Saxon settlement nearby following the suggestion of Professor Mike Aston.[18]

The Lamb Inn in Burford by The Guardian 

Elsewhere in the town of Burford is the parish church of St. John the Baptist where Master Richard Chaunceler sang masses in 1497. Richard Chaunceler first appears in 1461 as a scholar of Winchester College.[19] The vicarage of Burford takes our story back to Keynesham where the Chaunceler family of John Chaunceler once lived. This is because in the first summary of endowments of Keynesham Abbey, taken from the Taxation of 1291, the spiritualia consisted of the churches of Keynsham, and its dependent chapels of Backwell, Burford and a portion of the church of St. Lawrence, Bristol.[20]

With this circle we conclude our journey through Keynesham to Bath and onto to Burford, and back to Keynesham again with the Chaunceler family which journey started on this day, 17th June 1489 with the will of John Chaunceler of Bath.

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[1] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills (Somerset Record Society, Vol. XVI, 1901), p. 282
[2] A.B. Emden, A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford University Pres, 1989), Vol. 1, p. 397
[3] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 344
[4] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 282
[5] John Evans, A Chronological outline of the House of Bristol (London, 1824), p. 109
[6] Miss G. Bradford (ed.), Proceedings in the Court of the Star Chamber in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII (Somerset Record Society, Vol. XXVII, 1911), p. 46
[7] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, pp. 342, 343, 344
[8] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 341
[9] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 342
[10] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 343
[11] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 343
[12] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 344
[13] Miss G. Bradford (ed.), Proceedings in the Star Chamber in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII, pp. 45, 46
[14] Rev. F.W. Weaver (ed.), Somerset medieval wills, p. 344
[15] A.B. Emden, A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, Vol. 1, p. 397
[16] J.A. Twemlow (ed.), Calendar of Papal Registers Relating To Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 8, 1427-1447 (London, 1909), p. 583
[17] Margaret Bowker, The Henrician Reformation: The Diocese of Lincoln under John Longland, 1521-1547 (Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 119
[18] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86wsSm4LGPc see 1.15 minutes – accessed on 17 June 2015
[19] A.B. Emden, A biographical register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, Vol. 1, p. 397

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Minehead fishermen at Carlingford in 1404

Minehead fishermen at Carlingford in 1404

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

In August 1404 a group of fishermen from Minehead in Somerset went out into the Irish Sea to go fishing. The fishermen were John Bray, David Neethe, John Lacy, William Touky, Maurice Spencer and David Walter, all tenants of Sir Hugh Luttrell, lord of Minehead. Yet their fishing trip went very much against them as they were captured by pirates and held in captivity in a foreign castle for many months.[1]

Minehead and fishing

The port of Minehead in Somerset was owned by the Luttrell family, lords of Dunster Castle. The chief port of Dunster Castle used to be that of Dunster but this port silted up towards the end of the fourteenth century. The first notice of Minehead as a port is in 1380 when Ralph Cooke and others were forbidden to sell their fish outside the port. But within a few years Minehead became an important fishing port. In 1383/84 fish from Minehead were export to Beaumaris. In 1419 salmon was carried from Minehead to Harfluer in France where Sir Hugh Luttrell was a member of the garrison. In 1421 Lady Margaret Luttrell gave 10s to her tenants at Minehead towards the cost of building a jetty.[2] The custom records for 1485 show many vessels of Minehead and elsewhere importing herrings and salmon to the port.[3] In the reign of Henry VII another Sir Hugh Luttrell was admiral of the admiralty court at Minehead.[4]

Boats at rest off Minehead

Tenants at Minehead

In October 1404 Lady de Mohun, then lord of Minehead, died and Sir Hugh Luttrell of Dunster Castle shortly after succeeded to the property. Sir Hugh Luttrell had Irish connections as in 1394 and 1399 he visited Ireland, the latter time in the following of King Richard II.[5] Although the names of the captured fishermen do not appear among the inquisition into the property of Lady de Mohun (they were possibly too poor to rent directly from the lord of the manor), other people with the same surname do appear at various times in Minehead. In about 1331 John Tonky (similar to Touky) lived in Minehead. In about 1383 Nicholas and John Tonky formerly held different messuages in the town. In 1407 John Bray senior and John Bray junior rented property in Minehead.[6]

Fishing off Carlingford

Early in August 1404 the above five tenants of Minehead left the port to go out onto the Irish Sea for fishing. The type of fishing boat they used is not recorded or how successful they were at catching fish. On 20th August 1404 the fishermen dropped anchor off Carlingford in order to go fishing. Just then a well-armed ship under John Goo of Spain came upon the fishermen and captured them and their vessel.[7] It is easy for sailing vessels to come quickly upon each other out on the sea in a manner of a few minutes. It seems that the Minehead people didn’t notice the Spanish vessel coming upon them or they thought it would pass by a good distance off.

There were frequent attacks by pirates and foreign governments upon shipping in the Irish Sea in the fourteenth century. King Edward III tried to control the menace with patrolling warships but the efforts of later governments were fitful. The Hundred Years War between England and France made the English Channel dangerous for shipping were piracy by Breton and Spanish shipping increased.[8]

The Minehead fishermen may have considered Carlingford to be a safe place for fishing as the town was then in the hands of the English crown. The owner of Carlingford was Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, but he was only thirteen in November 1404 and so the crown controlled his estates. His father, Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March and heir presumptive to the English throne, was killed at Kells in Ireland in July 1398 aged just twenty-four.[9]

A view of Carlingford from the sea

Taken to Scotland

In the late twentieth century Spanish ships used to battle on the high seas with Irish and English fishing boats over fishing grounds. In medieval times such battles also took place. The maritime court at Lostwithiel recorded a low profit in 1339/40 because no mariners or fishermen docked in the port due to the hostile challenges of Spanish ships and fishermen.[10]

The attack off Carlingford may have been over fishing grounds but common piracy seems more likely in this case. The fishermen were taken to Scotland and sold to William Carneys, one of the Scottish king’s squires, and held prisoner at Bothwell Castle on the River Clyde. Conditions in Bothwell Castle were not good at the time and the material condition of the fishermen’s families back in Minehead was greatly reduced with no bread winner to keep the families above the poverty line.[11] The families must also have missed their husbands and fathers without little clear knowledge of their fate.

Like in modern times when prisoners are displayed on television pleading for help to their government in return for some reward to the captors so it was for the Minehead fishermen. They were forced to send a letter to King Henry IV of England asking for release in exchange for money. The king and his council discussed the matter and on 24th November 1404 sent a letter to King James of Scotland requesting that he order William Carneys to release the fishermen but without the payment of any ransom.[12]

Other people and merchandise captured at sea

The detention of the Minehead fishermen in Scotland was not all one way traffic. Scottish seafarers also had problems of detention when going into English waters. On 24th July 1405 King Henry IV commanded William Spenser and four others of Lowestoff and Norwich to release John of Logy, Adam Strono, William Euty, William Strong, Richard of Bughwan, and Thomas Orkney, of Scotland, lately arrested by Sir William Calthorpe, in a ship stranded on the Norfolk coast. The seafarers were initially liberated by a previous letter from the King but they were arrested again on their journey homewards at Lowestoft, and were still detained there in violation of the truce with Scotland.[13]

In about 3rd March 1404 Thomas Raa of Scotland petitioned Henry IV for safe conduct to carry away his merchandises, lately captured at sea by Englishmen and since restored to him. At the same time he asked for safe conduct for the master, twelve seamen and four other merchants, and a vessel with goods, to trade for a year on the English coast.[14]

The battle of Homildon Hill

Meanwhile the Battle of Homildon Hill, fought on 14th September 1402, and its aftermath impacted on the Minehead fishermen and was connected with their story. During the time leading to the break of the Truce of Leulinghem, both Scotland and England began to raid each other. On 22nd June 1402, a small force of Scottish soldiers returning from one such raid into England was met at Nesbit Moor by George Dunbar. In the ensuing battle no quarter was given to the Scottish force.

In response, Archibald Douglas, 4th Earl of Douglas, led a large force into England. Archibald Douglas was arguably the most militarily powerful man in Scotland, and a key part of the Duke of Albany's administration. The Scots marched as far as Newcastle to avenge the battle and laid waste to the whole of Northumberland.[15]

As the Scottish army rested at Wooler on their return to Scotland, they were attacked by an English force led by Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Although caught on low ground, the Scots were able to make it onto the high ground of Homildon Hill. This position saved them from English knights on horseback but not from English longbowmen on foot. The Scottish army was destroyed with many killed and countless number captured including about 80 knights. No list of these captured people was compiled by any Scottish writer but in the 1870s, Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte discovered a list in the records of Dunster Castle while examining the archives for the Historical Manuscripts Commission. Dunster Castle was the chief seat of the Luttrell family, owners of Minehead. It is supposed that a member of the Luttrell family could have been at the Battle of Homildon Hill.[16]

The capture of so many of the Scottish leaders, including Archibald Douglas, left the Duke of Albany, governor of Scotland, in a precarious position militarily if not politically. But the English did not press home their advantage due to internal problems within King Henry's administration and the Welsh rebellion. But Henry IV was keen that the captured Scottish soldiers should not return to Scotland to fight against him, and so refused to allow those who held noble captives to ransom them. This act was one of many of the grievances that the Percys had with the Crown. In 1403 they allied themselves with Owain Glynd┼Ár, and Archibald Douglas and went into open rebellion against the English king.[17]

Plight of the Minehead fishermen

In was into this political and military climate that the Minehead fishermen found themselves locked up in Bothwell castle. Bothwell Castle was owned by Archibald Douglas which he inherited from his mother, Joan Moray. With the Scottish exchequer too impoverished to pay the ransom for the release of Douglas and Henry IV refusing to accept the payment of any ransom, the Minehead fishermen were pawns in this international exchange.

Bothwell Castle at that time of 1404 was not the best of places to be a captive. In 1336 the powerful castle overlooking the River Clyde was in such good condition that it was headquarters of the army of Edward III in Scotland. But shortly after this it was taken with siege engines by its rightful owner, Sir Andrew Murray. After its capture, Murray had the castle silted by pulling down the west wall of the donjon so as to prevent its reuse by the English.

In 1362 the heiress of Bothwell, Joan Moray, married Archibald Douglas, 3rd Earl of Douglas. The castle was rebuilt and repaired by Douglas and this repair work was continued by his son, the 4th Earl. It was only by 1424 that the castle was fully completed.[18] Its condition in 1404 therefore must have been one of a building site and makeshift fortress with little creature comforts.

Artist impression of Bothwell about the time of 1404

Meanwhile after the Battle of Shrewsbury (21st July 1403), Archibald Douglas became a prisoner of King Henry IV. He was only released in 1406 on condition that he returned to captivity by Easter having concluded some private estate business. Douglas surrendered hostages to ensure his return. But Douglas did not return and remained in Scotland. It was only in 1413, on the payment of 700 marks to Henry V, that the hostages were released.[19]

Return of the fishermen

It is not known when the Minehead fishermen were released from Bothwell Castle and allowed to go home. The parole of Archibald Douglas in 1406 seems like an opportune date for their release as part of a prisoner exchange but the records are silent of the actual date of release. In the rental of Minehead taken in 1407 John Bray senior and John Bray junior are mentioned.[20] Could one of these men be the John Bray among the captured fishermen? We can’t be sure. The letter of Henry IV to King James of Scotland in November 1404 asked that the fishermen be released without the payment of ransom.[21] It is not known if any money was paid.

Other captured Minehead ships

The story of the Minehead fishermen of 1404 was repeated nearly one hundred years later. In 1497 a fishing boat under William Bassher was taken by a Scottish ship while fishing in the Irish Sea. England and Scotland were then at war over the succession to the English throne. But peace was shortly after declared and Bassher got back his ship after paying a ransom.[22]

William Carneys

Who was William Carneys, the jailer of the Minehead fishermen? On 17th August 1405 King Henry IV gave a licence of protection for a vessel of Sir John of Mountgomery of Scotland, of which John Galway was master, and his merchants Robert Cauldwelle, William of Carnys, Alan Clerk, and John Wulson, with a crew of 10, trading to various foreign parts, for a year.[23] Was this the same William Carneys who held the Minehead fishermen at Bothwell? It is not possible to say with any certainty. The records are not extensive enough to say that it was one and the same person. Maybe other documents will come to light to discover the real William Carneys – something for another day’s fishing the archives. 

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[1] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar of Sources for Medieval Ireland in the National Archives of the United Kingdom (Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2005), p. 170
[2] F. Hancock, Minehead in the County of Somerset (Barnicott & Pearce, Taunton, 1903), pp. 37, 167, 234
[3] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar for Medieval Ireland, pp. 285, 287, 288
[4] Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte, A history of Dunster and of the families of Mohun and Luttrell (St. Catherine Press, London, 1909), part 1, p. 132
[5] Sir Henry Maxwell-Lyte, A history of Dunster and of the families of Mohun and Luttrell, part 1, pp. 78, 80
[6] F. Hancock, Minehead in the County of Somerset, pp. 165, 166, 169, 170, 441
[7] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar for Medieval Ireland, p. 170
[8] Wendy Childs and Timothy O’Neill, ‘Overseas trade’, in Art Cosgrove (ed.), A new history of Ireland, vol. 2: Medieval Ireland1169-1534 (Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. 522, 523
[10] Maryanne Kowaleski (ed.), The Havener’s Account of the Earldom & Duchy of Cornwall 1287-1356 (Devon & Cornwall Record Society, New Series, Vol. 44, 2001), p. 42
[11] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar for Medieval Ireland, p. 170
[12] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar for Medieval Ireland, p. 170
[13] Joseph Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland preserved in the Public Record Office, London (General Registry House, Edinburgh, 1888), vol. 4 (1357-1509), no. 690
[14] Joseph Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. 4 (1357-1509), no. 649
[16] Joseph Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, vol. 4 (1357-1509), p. xxviii
[20] F. Hancock, Minehead in the County of Somerset, p. 169, 170
[21] Paul Dryburgh & Brendan Smith (eds.), Handbook and Select Calendar for Medieval Ireland, pp. 170, 171
[22] F. Hancock, Minehead in the County of Somerset, p. 237
[23] Joseph Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland preserved in the Public Record Office, London (General Registry House, Edinburgh, 1888), vol. 4 (1357-1509), no. 697