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The Abbot of Battle's Court at Brithwaltham

Although the primary function of a manor court was to hear cases involving property and inter-tenant disputes, manorial court rolls are especially useful to social historians who wish to see the dailiness of Medieval life.

Lawday. Court of Brightwaltham holden on Monday next after Ascension Day in the twenty-first year of King Edward (A.D. 1293)

The tithingman of Conholt with his whole tithing present that all is well save that William of Mescombe has stopped up a . . . [the word is indecipherable in the manuscript, but Maitland thinks it is a watercourse] wrongfully. Therefore he is in mercy (12 d.). Also they say that Edith of Upton has cut down trees in the enclosure and the seisin of the lord contrary to a prohibition, and they say that she has no property and has fled into foreign parts, (amercement, 12 d.).

Adam Scot is made tithingman and sworn to a faithful exercize of his office.

(b) John son of Hugh Poleyn enters on the land which Randolph Tailor held saving the right of everyone and gives for entry-money 4 marks and will pay 1 mark at Michaelmas in the twenty-second year of King Edward, 1 mark at Christmas next following, 1 mark at Easter, and 1 mark at Mechaelmas next following, and for the due making of all these payments the said Hugh Poleyn finds sureties, to wit, Adam Scot, John Gosselyn, William of Mescombe, Jhn Gyote. And because the said John is a minor the wardship of the said lands and tenements is delivered to his father the said Hugh Poleyn until he be of full age, on the terms of his performing the services due and accustomed for the same. Also there is granted to teh said Hugh the crop now growing on the sown land, and the heriot due on this entry, for a half-mark payable at Michaelmas next on the security of the above-named sureties.

(a) Hugh Poleyn gives the lord 2 s. that he may have the judgment of the court as to his right in a certain tenement in Upton which J. son of Randolph Tailor claims as his right. And upon this the whole township of Brightwaltham sworn along with the whole township of Conholt say upon their oath that Hugh Poleyn has better right to hold the said tenement than anyone else has, and that he is the next heir by right of blood.

(The Conholt case as to the tenure of Edith wife of Robert Tailor according to the inquest made by the jurors. One Alan Poleyn held a tenement in Conholt upon servile terms and had a wife Cristina by name. The said Alan died when Richard was the farmer [of the manor]. Thereupon came the friends of the said Cristina and procured for her a part of the land by way of dower making a false suggestion and as though [the land] were of free condition, and this was to the great prejudice of the lord Abbot. Upon this came one Richard Aleyn and espoused the said Cristina and begot upon her one Randolph. Then Richard died, and the said Cristina of her own motion enfeoffed Randolph her son of the said tenement. Then Cristina died, and Randolph being in seisin of the said tenement espoused Edith the present demandant; and after Randolph's death Edith married Robert Tailor. Now you can see and give your counsel about the right of the said Edith. And know this, that if I had at hand the court-rolls of the time when William of Lewes [was steward] I could certify the facts and I could show you many strange things that were improvidently done.)

The whole tithing of Hartley comes as it ought to come and presents that all is well.

The tithingman of Brightwaltham with his whole tithing present that all is well, save that William of Westwood has made default. They say also that John son of Richard at Cross dwells at Bromham and is not in a tithing. Therefore his father is ordered to produce him at the next court. They say also that Henry Smith struck Sir Robert the chaplain and drew blood and then to conceal his fault raised the hue. Therefore he is in mercy; pledges, John Atgreen, Richard Young and Thomas Smith. They also present that Cristina widow of Ralph Smith has received [a guest] contrary to the assize. Therefore she is in mercy, pledge, Richard Smoker.

Agnes Maud's daughter at the instance of her friends gives the lord 12 d. for permission to marry; she gives no more because she is very poor.


Court of Brightwaltham holden on Wednesday next before the feast of S. Peter at Chains in the twenty-second year of King Edward [Maitland thinks it is the 21st year of Edward's reign, making this A. D. 1294]

Prohibition is made that none of the lord's tenants upon pain of a half-mark do in anywise give any sheaves in the fields to anyone of the township or to any stranger.

Inquest made by the steward on Tuesday the morrow of S. Matthew as to the abduction of sheep and other trespasses committed in the manor of Brightwaltham in the said year: by which inquest it is found that John Sket bought from the reeve three sheep and when a price had been agreed on between them the said John pastured the said sheep in the lord's pasture. Therefore he is in mercy. Pledges, John Parlefrens and Richard Young; [amercement,] 40 d.

Richard Fette in mercy for receiving sheaves in autumn upon the delivery of the reeve against the prohibition of the steward; pledge, the whole vill.

And the jurors [of the said inquest] further say that the sheep were not abducted nor brought back again by any malice, but owing to the negligence of William Wachel the shepherd many sheep were wandering about the country hither and thither; and therefore the said [William] is inmercy; pledge, the whole vill.

They say that John Atgreen, John of Southwood, Thomas Smith and Richard Young are the best and most competent men of the whole vill for the purpose of filling and executing the office of reeve. And of these the steward has chosen Thomas Smith for the office. Afterwards the said Thomas made fine that he might be absolved from the office of reeve and gives the lord 40 s.

They say also that John surnamed Lord is a good man needful to the lord for the keeping of the ewes. And the whole vill undertook for him that he shall keep them well and truly and with all diligence and will answer for him. They say also that John son of John Atgreen is needful to the lord for keeping the lord's muttons; and he is admitted [to the office] and the whole vill undertakes for him. They say also that Thomas Bagge is needful for holding one plough and Richard Uhtred for driving it. As to the other teams whether of oxen or of horses, they say that it is well that those men should stay with the lord who were wiht him in the past year.


View of Frank-pledge on Wednesday next [before or after] the feast of S. Matthew in the twenty-first yer of King Edward [A.D. 1293].

Richard of Fulrith tithingman of Hartley with his whole tithing present that Gervase May, John Cooper, John at Moor and Nicholas Sharie are missing [from the frank-pledge]; they undertake to produce them at the next court. And because they make insufficient presentment, therefore they are in mercy, (12 d.).

Prohibition is made that none of the tenants of Hartley upon pain of 100 s. do go to the hundred court or the county court at the summons of any foreign bailiff, and if hereafter they do so, although they may have been distrained into doing it, if they be convicted of it they shall incur the said penalty.

Adam Scot tithingman of Conholt and his whole tithing present that . . . [Maitland thinks the information trivial]

Geoffrey Willam tithingman of Brightwaltham and his whole tithing present that . . . [like above, Maitland thinks the information trivial] They also present that Thomas Miller laid violent hands on Alice daughter of ralph and that she raised the hue. And for that Geoffrey the tithingman presents that there was no violence but that [Thomas and Alice] were in play, and this is not likely since the hue was raised, let the said tithingman be in mercy, and let Thomas Miller be in mercy for the trespass; pledges, Richard his father and Richard Young.

They further present that Warin Agodehalf does not pay obedience as he ought to his tithingman [or his tithing]as regards contributions and other matters. And the said Warin comes into full court and says that he is of free estate by the service of 1 d. a year. And it is found by the court that his father was of servile estate and the father's issue must continue of the same estate. And because against right he says that he is free, whereas he is a serf, therefore he is in mercy, both as to this false claim [of freedom] and as to the main matter [the charge originally made against him]. Pledge, the whole tithing.


Court of Brightwaltham held on the day and year aforesaid.

Richard Young the swineherd appointed by the whole township of Brightwaltham is in mercy for pasturing more pigs of his own than he ought to have in the several along with the pigs of the lord; pledges, John Atgreen and Geoffrey Willam. Also the said Richard is in mercy for allowing the lord's pigs to perish and being unduly negligent in keeping them; pledges, the said John and Geoffrey.

John Sket in mercy for feeding his own sheep in winter time with the lord's forage and for also being negligent about keeping the lord's sheep. He makes fine with a half-mark.

Richard Young and John Atgreen, who undertook for Richard at Cross that the tenement of the said Richard should be repaired and maintained as regards the buildings and other appurtenances, say that so long as they had the custody of the said tenement they repaired and maintained the houses belonging to it, and when that tenement was wasted and fell out of repair it was not in their custody but in that of Richard at Cross; and as to this they put themselves high and low upon the lord and Sir Luke the present sacrist of Battle.

Roger Chapman complains of Roger Bysouthwood in a plea of detaining beasts; pledges for prosecution, William Carter and John Parlefreyns; pledges for defence, Geoffrey Willam and John Woodward. And for that it is found that the said plaintiff offered the defendant as pledge in the replevin of the said beasts Warin Bysouthwood who was quite sufficient surety for teh damages and the defendant would not accept him, it is considered that the defendant be in the lord's mercy and do make sufficient amends to the plaintiff for wrongful detention.

Richard Young gives the lord 6 d. to have aid as regards a certain slander and injury done to him by Ellen, wife of Roger Chapman. And it is found by inquest that at the instance of the said Ellen, Richard has been damaged in his estate to the amount of 5 s. Richard forgives all for 12 d. for the sake of peace.

Roger Chapman gives the lord 2 s. for an inquest as to the right which he claims in a certain tenement formerly held by William Bysouthwood. And it is found by inquest that the said William did not die seised of the said tenement, but had surrendered to the lord all the right that he had in it, and the lord demised it to William Page to have and to hold according to the custom of the manor; and after the death of the said William Page his son and heir entered on the said tenement as next heir and gave the lord 40 s. for entry and held it for teh term of his life and died seised; and after his death came the said Roger Chapman and married Ellen the widow of the said William.


Court of Brightwaltham holden on Thursday next after the Exaltation of Holy Cross in the same year. [Maitland thinks it is A.D. 1294]

Robert of Evershole is in mercy for letting his land to Ralph Tailor and others for a term of years without license. Pledges for the amercement, John Woodward and John Atgreen.

John Woodward is in mercy for counterpleading the lord in his court. Pledges, John Atgreen and Robert of Evershole.

Ralph Reeve is in mercy for accepting the land of Robert of Evershole for a term of years without license. Pledges, Richard Young and William Parlefrens.

John Atgreen is elected by all the virgaters to guard the wood and swine of the lord and has undertaken . . . [Maitland left this information out] And it is enjoined him that if he finds the beasts of any persons in the lord's wood he shall forthwith go and impound them, upon pain of 40 s.

To this court came the whole commonalty of the villans of Brightwaltham and of its mere and spontaneous will surrendered to the lord all the right and claim that the said villans have heretofore claimed by reason of common in the lord's wood called Hemele and the circumadjacent lands, to the intent that neither the said villans nor those who hereafter shall hold their tenements shall henceforth be able to exact, demand or have any right or claim by reason of common in the said wood and circumadjacent lands. And in return for this surrender the lord of his special grace has remised to them the common that he had in the field called Eastfield which lies along the road which runs from the Red Pit to the lord's wood called Hemele. And he has further remised to them the common that he had in the sood of the said villans called Trendale, to the intent that the said lord shall have no beasts pasturing in the said common nor in the said wood. And the lord has also granted that at the time of pannage so soon as ever the lord shall enter his said wood of Hemele for the purpose of pannaging his pigs, they [the said villans] also may enter with their pigs until Martinmas and shall give for pannage according to the age of the pigs as is more fully contained in the Register [of the Abbey], to wit, for a pig of full age a penny, and for a younger pig a halfpenny.


Court of Brightwaltham holden on Wednesday next before the feast of S. Margaret in the twenty-fourth year of King Edward (A. D. 1296).

Sir William the chaplain is in mercy for a trespass committed in the lord's garden by his brother Thomas, for whom he has undertaken; pledges, William Fulk, Richard Young, Geoffrey Willam, William Parelfrens, John Bysouthwood, Ralph Tailor, John Parlefrens, and William Bingeys.

Sir William the chaplain has waged his law that he did not defame Henry the lord's butler charging him with divers crimes. He has a day at the next court, to which he is to be summoned, to make his law with five compurgators who are to be chaplains and clerks.

The same [Sir] William is convicted by a good inquest of jurors that he broke the lord's hedges, and carried away the lord's fowls and caused them to be takne to his house. He will not justify himself as to these trespasses, but has departed in contempt. It is considered that he be distrained by his chattels that he has within the lord's franchise.

Henry Morcock, John his brother, John Jocelyn, William of Mescombe, William his brother, Thomas Chaffinch, William at Cross, John Guyot, Joh Pope, Adam Scot, Geoffrey Willam, John Aurey, Geoffrey Jordan, Thomas Bayge, Roger Smoker, William Sket, William at Kepe, Ralph Tailor, Richard Young, Robert Osmund, John Bysouthwood, John Woodward, Roger Chapman, Roger Bysouthwood, Warin Bysouthwood, being sworn, say upon their oath tha one Alan Poleyn held a certain tenement in Conholt on servile condition and espoused a woman called Cristina and had by her a son Elias by name. On Alan's death the said Cristina held the whole of that tenement according tot he custom of the manor and afterwards married one Richard Aleyn, who had by her a son Randolph. Afterwards Elias son and heir of the said Alan [Poleyn] hearing how his mother had lost all right that she had in that tenement because she had married without the lord's leave, came to the lord's court and demanded that the tenement of his father, whose heir he was, should be rendered to him as his right and inheritance according to the custom of the manor, and was admitted [thereto] as by right he ought to have been admitted; nevertheless by the lord's consent and of his own proper will he granted that Cristina his mother might hold a certain portion of the tenement for the term of her life; and of that portionthe said Cristina, de facto, though she could not do it de jure, enfeoffed the said Randolph her son; and then she died. Then the said Randolph being in seisin of the said portion married one Edith and had by her a son John and then died. And after his death Edith married one Robert Tailor, who being in seisin of the said tenement surrendered to the lord in full court all the right that he had in the said portion of the said tenement. After this came Hugh Poleyn, son and heir of the said Elias son of Alan, and demanded to be admitted to the whole of the said tenement, and made fine for an inquest in the lord's court as to the right that he had in the said tenement. Thereupon came an inquest and said upon oath administered to it that Alan Poleyn who had espoused one Cristina begot Elias, and that on Alan's death Elias his son and heir married one Juliana and had by her a son, Hugh the demandant, and that the said Hugh had sufficient right in the said tenement, nor was there any nearer heir. Whereupon the said Hugh was admitted to the said tenement and made fine for his entry etc. Wherefore they say expressly that the said Edith who now demands the said portion of the said tenement has no right at all in her demand. Therefore it is considered that the said Hugh who now holds do hold in peace, and that the said Maud [Edith] be in mercy for her false claim.



(Court of Brightwaltham holden on Wednesday next before the feast of S. Margaret the Virgin in the twenty-fourth year of King Edward. To this court came John Bolter and in full court confessed himself the born bondman of the lord Abbot of Battle, and he gives his lord two marks of silver that he may freely depart from his lord's franchise without any claim of naifty being made against his body at any time hereafter. Pledges of the said John that the said fine of two marks will be paid before Michaelmas next, Robert Osmund and Ralph Tailor.
This text is taken from:
Maitland, F. W.,ed. Select Pleas in Manorial and Other Seignorial Courts: Volume 1--Reigns of Henry III and Edward I. London: Bernard Quaritch, 1889.

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