Houses of Austin canons
The priory of Newstead

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Victoria County History

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William Page (editor)

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1910

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112-117

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'Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Newstead', A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2 (1910), pp. 112-117. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40090 Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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7. THE PRIORY OF NEWSTEAD

The priory of St. Mary of Newstead (De Novo Loco) in Sherwood, a house of Austin Canons, was founded by Henry II about the year 1170. The first witness to the foundation charter was Geoffrey, Archdeacon of Canterbury; he was preferred to the see of Ely in 1174. This charter, executed at Clarendon, conferred on the prior and canons a site near the centre of the forest; Papplewick, with its church and mill and all things pertaining to the town in wood and plain, together with the meadow of Bestwood by the side of the water; and 100s. of rent in Shapwick and Walkeringham. At the same time the king confirmed to them lands in Nottinghamshire, the gift of Robert de Caus and John the cook. (fn. 1)

The great forest wastes around the monastery granted to the canons by their founder were known in the old charter as 'Kygell' and 'Ravenshede,' their bounds being set forth with much particularity at the beginning of an old chartulary. (fn. 2)

King John in 1206 confirmed the founder's grant, making mention also of the church of Hucknall, and of his own gift, when Earl of Mortain, of £7 0s. 6d. of lands in Walkeringham, Misterton, 'Sepewic,' and 'Walkerith' (Lincolnshire). (fn. 3)

On 8 May 1238 the royal mandate was sent to the Prior of Newstead to let Thomas de Dunholmia, citizen of London, have all the goods late of Joan, Queen of Scots, deposited with them after her death by Brother John de Sancto Egidio and Henry Balliol to do therewith what the king has enjoined on them. (fn. 4)

In April 1241 the convent of Newstead had licence from the king to elect a prior; the said licence being delivered at Westminster to Henry son of Walkelin and Thomas de Donham, two of the canons who took the news to the king of the death of Prior Robert. (fn. 5)

A confirmation charter of Henry III in 1247 makes further mention of the gifts of Robert de Lexinton of all the land of Scarcliffe, with the capital messuage, park, mills, homage, and service of William de Grangia from his holding in Crich (Derbyshire) with the towns of Staythorpe (Nottinghamshire) and Rowthorn (Derbyshire). (fn. 6)

Henry III in 1245 ratified the gift which John de Stutevill made by charter to St. Mary of Newstead in Sherwood and the canons there of 40s. rent and a quarter of wheat yearly out of the manor of Kirkby in Ashfield and to provide wine and bread for the altar use. (fn. 7)

In 1251 Henry III gave to the priory 10 acres of land out of the royal hay of Linby, to be held quit of regard and view of foresters and verderers and of all forest pleas, with licence to inclose the land with a hedge and dike. (fn. 8)

The convent was so seriously in debt in 1274 that the king appointed Robert de Sutton of Averham to take the custody of the priory during pleasure. (fn. 9)

The Prior of Newstead maintained his various rights in Misterton, Papplewick, Staythorpe, Walkeringham, &c. at the beginning of the reign of Edward I, by the production of charters that covered the various possessions of the convent in Derbyshire as well as Nottinghamshire, and also their various chartered privileges, such as freedom from toll and custom throughout England. They had neither pillory nor tumbrel jurisdiction on their Nottinghamshire manors, but were able to maintain their rights to assize of bread and beer and to view of frankpledge. (fn. 10)

A few years later, namely in 1279, the prior and convent obtained leave to fell and sell the timber of the wood of 40 acres which had been given them in 1245; such a step as this would bring considerable financial relief. (fn. 11)

The Taxation Roll of 1291 gives the income of the priory as £86 13s. 6d. The appropriated churches of Stapleford, Papplewick, Tuxford, Egmanton, and Hucknall Torkard produced £49 19s. 4d.; the remainder was from temporalities in Nottinghamshire £35 17s. 6d. and in Lincolnshire 16s. 8d. (fn. 12)

This house was again in financial difficulties in 1295, when at their own request Hugh de Vienna was appointed by the Crown to take charge of their revenues, applying the income, saving a reasonable sustenance for the prior, canons, and their men, to the relief of their debts, no sheriff, bailiff, or such-like minister to lodge in the priory or its granges during such custody. (fn. 13) On 25 July 1300 another like custodian, Peter de Leicester, a king's clerk, was appointed after a similar fashion. (fn. 14)

The king in 1304 made an important augmentation of the possessions of Newstead, by granting the house 180 acres of the waste in the forest hay of Linby at a rent of £4 due to the sheriff, with licence to inclose them and bring them into cultivation. (fn. 15) Two years later a grant was made of all tithes of these 180 cultivated acres, provided they were not within the limits of any parish. (fn. 16)

Both Edward I and Edward II seem to have been attached to this house in the centre of the forest, notwithstanding the important royal hunting lodge at Clipston. Edward I sojourned at Newstead in August 1280 and in September 1290, and Edward II in September 1307 and October 1315, as is shown by the Patent and Close Rolls.

In 1310 the priory, on account of its indebtedness, was once again taken into protection by the Crown, John de Hothun, king's clerk, being appointed to administer the revenues. (fn. 17)

The royal licence was obtained in 1315, when Edward II was at Clipston, to permit the appropriation of the church of Egmanton. (fn. 18)

In 1317 the prior and convent obtained licence from Edward II when at Nottingham to acquire in mortmain lands, tenements, and rents to the value of £20 a year. (fn. 19) This licence was vacated and surrendered in 1392, for it was not until that date that Newstead acquired (by a number of small grants) lands and tenements in full satisfaction thereof. (fn. 20)

A grant of some pecuniary value was made by the same king in 1318, when it was settled that on a voidance of the priory the sub-prior and convent of Newstead were to have the custody thereof with full and free administration of all its possessions and issues during such voidance, saving to the king, however, knights' fees, advowsons, wards, reliefs, and marriages which might fall in. (fn. 21)

In 1324 the Crown granted pardon to the Prior and Convent of Newstead for the unlicensed alienation to them in mortmain by Ralph de Frechville of all the lands which they had of fee of Ralph in Scarcliffe and Palterton, Derbyshire, with capital messuage, inclosed park, mill stews, services of freemen and villeins, &c., together with the homage and service of William de Warsop and his heirs for a tenement he held in Crich, with grant that they might hold the same in frankalmoign. (fn. 22)

News of the resignation of Prior Richard de Grange was brought to the king at Nottingham by the canons Robert de Sutton and Robert de Wylleby on 13 December 1324, and they took back with them leave to elect. On 10 December the king signified the Archbishop of York that he had assented to the election of William de Thurgarton, canon of Newstead, as prior. Owing to informality, the archbishop quashed the election and claimed that the right of preferment had devolved upon him. Recognizing, however, the worth of William de Thurgarton, the archbishop proceeded to collate him as superior; and the king, when at Ravensdale, the forest lodge of Duffield, Derbyshire, on 10 January 1323, issued his mandate for the deliverance of the temporalities to the new prior. (fn. 23)

The financial difficulties of Newstead do not seem to have much abated when Edward III came to the throne. In 1330 the prior and convent, in consideration of their poverty, had remitted to them the rent of £4 due to the sheriff for the 180 acres within the hay of Linby, granted to them by Edward I. (fn. 24)

Licence was granted in 1334 for the alienation by William de Cossall to the priory of twelve messuages, a mill, and various lands, &c., in Cossall and Nottingham, to find three chaplains, to wit, two in the church of St. Katherine, Cossall, and one in the priory to celebrate daily for the souls of him, his ancestors and successors. (fn. 25)

In 1341 Henry de Edwinstow, king's clerk, and William and Robert his brothers had licence to alienate to the priory various lands in the counties of Warwick, Leicester, Nottingham, Derby, and Lancaster, of the annual value of £10, to find two chaplains to celebrate daily in the church of St. Mary, Edwinstowe, one in honour of Our Lady and the other for the good estate (and after death for the souls) of the donors, their father, mother, and other relations, friends and benefactors, and to celebrate Henry's obit. The prior and convent bound themselves to pay to one of these chaplains, who was to be warden of the altar of St. Margaret in Edwinstowe Church, ten marks a year for the stipends of himself and his brother chaplain and another mark for the obit of Henry. After the donor's death, and the death of one Robert de Calverton, the presentation to these two chaplaincies was to rest with the priory of Newstead. (fn. 26)

Richard II in 1392 granted to the Prior and Convent of Newstead a tun of wine yearly in the port of Kingston upon Hull, in aid of the maintenance of divine service. (fn. 27)

Henry VI in 1437 licensed Prior Robert and convent to inclose 8 acres within Sherwood Forest, just in front of the entry to the priory, and to dike, quickset, and hedge it, for which they were to render at the Exchequer one rose at Midsummer. (fn. 28)

Edward IV in 1461 licensed John Durham the prior and his convent to inclose 48 acres of forest granted them by Henry II, adjoining the priory on the north, east, and south, with a ditch and low hedge, and to cut down and dispose of the wood growing thereon. (fn. 29)

Much can be gleaned relative to Newstead Priory from the York Episcopal Registers.

The appropriation of the church of Stapleford to the priory of Newstead was sanctioned by Archbishop Gray in 1229 on the score of their poverty. (fn. 30)

Archbishop Gray in 1234 on account of their poverty granted to the priory and convent of Newstead the church of Hucknall Torkard for their own uses, of which they already had the advowson; they were to enter into it after the death or cession of Helias the then rector. (fn. 31)

Archbishop Gray visited Newstead Priory in the octave of the Holy Trinity 1252, when he found, after individual examination, that the prior and canons were fervid in religion and lovers of peace and concord. After praising them most highly the diocesan laid down, for their still better rule, that the third prior was to regulate cloister discipline when the prior and sub-prior were not present; that the prior and sub-prior, with three or four canons, were at least once a year to hear from the cellarer and other obedientiaries an account of the expenses and receipts of all matters under their control; that when this audit was finished they were to present to the convent the state of the house and what money was owing; that they were to make a special inventory of the rents and of the stock of every kind, stating sex and age, that it might readily appear whether the goods of the house were increasing or decreasing; that one copy of the account was to be in the charge of the treasurer and another in the charge of the cellarer; that the seal of the convent, sealed with the seal of the prior, should be in the treasury in the custody of some discreet canon, nor were any letters to be sealed with it save in the presence of the convent or of the senior part of it; that the collection and custody of alms should be put by the prior into the hands of some honest person; that the cloister, refectory, and other places appropriated to the canons be guarded from the access of boys and dishonourable persons; and that these injunctions be read twice a year before the convent. (fn. 32)

Archbishop Geoffrey de Ludham (1258-65) personally visited Newstead on 4 July 1259 and approved of the statutes made by Archbishop Gray, adding certain injunctions of his own. The prior, considering the evil days in which they were living, was to do his best to obtain grace and favour with patrons; he was personally to receive guests with a smiling countenance (vultu prout decet hilari et jocundo) and to merit the love of his convent, doing nothing without the counsel of the older canons. Medicines were to be reserved for the sick; any brother noticing the infringement of a rule was to speak; there was to be no drinking after compline, nor wanderings outside the cloister; and a canon was to be specially deputed to look after the sick. (fn. 33)

It is often forgotten that all the chief religious orders had their own scheme of visitation, independent of the diocesan. An interesting reminder of this occurs in an entry of a Newstead visitation which took place on 16 July 1261; it was subsequently entered in Giffard's register. The visitors on this occasion were the priors of the two Austin houses of Nostell and Guisborough, who were at that time the duly appointed provincial visitors of the order. They enjoined that a good servant, with a boy, was to be placed in the infirmary, and that one of the canons was to say the canonical hours for them, as well as celebrate mass, according to the rule of the Blessed Augustine. (fn. 34) A chamberlain was to be appointed to provide clothes and shoes for the convent; he was to have a horse to attend fairs and a servant assigned him to buy necessaries. The canons' dishes were to have more eggs and relishes, but within moderation, never more than three eggs. No one was to drink but in the refectory after collation, and then to attend compline. Accounts were to be rendered twice a year. Canons were to make open amends in chapter on Sundays for transgressions. A lay brother (conversus) was to look after the tannery, with a canon to superintend and to see to the buying and selling. Another lay brother was to have charge of the garden, under the sub-cellarer. Finally, the prior was ordered to bring Canon Richard de Walkeringham with him to the next general chapter; he was to testify whether these injunctions had been obeyed. (fn. 35)

On 24 October 1267 the resignation of Prior William, who had held office for thirty-seven years, was accepted by Archbishop Giffard, in consequence of age and infirmity. (fn. 36)

Consequent on a personal visitation of Newstead, Archbishop Wickwane, on 4 July 1280, issued injunctions, wherein he charged the prior to be earnest about divine service and the spiritual refreshment of the brethren; to punish impartially; and to obtain the convent's consent in matters of business. The sub-prior was exhorted to be zealous in his office, to see that silence was kept as appointed and the rule generally observed. Those who were really ill were to be well treated; nothing was to be drunk after compline, save in illness; the carols were to be unlocked twice a year, and oftener if there was occasion, in order to eradicate the vice of private property; clothes were to be allotted from a common store, the distribution of money for this purpose to be altogether abandoned; the roofs of the frater and dorter were to be repaired; visits of outsiders to cloister, frater, farmery, or the precincts of the monastery were interdicted; letters to be sealed before the whole convent and the seal to be in safe custody; two of the canons, Robert de Hykeling and John de Tyshulle, to be confined to cloister for the improvement of their manners; another canon was to be restored to the general convent through penitence, but the cellarer and cook were to be deprived of their office; accounts were to be rendered twice a year; and these injunctions to be read in full chapter once a month. (fn. 37)

The submission of Adam, sub-prior, and of the convent of Newstead is enrolled in Archbishop Romayne's register, under date 1 August 1288, inasmuch as they had proceeded to the election of a prior, the cession of the former superior, John de Lexinton, not having been admitted. On the following day the cession was duly admitted by the Archdeacon of Richmond, the archbishop's vicar-general, and licence granted to elect his successor. On 2 September Richard de Hallam, sub-cellarer of the house, was presented to the vicar-general as the new Prior of Newstead, elected in the place of John de Lexinton. The election, however, was quashed on account of various technical irregularities, but the vicar-general, recognizing the personal fitness of Richard for the position, appointed him to the office on his own authority and prayed the king to be favourable to the appointment and give it his sanction. (fn. 38)

On 9 January 1292-3 the archbishop confirmed the election of Richard de Grange, a canon of Newstead, as prior; mandate was issued to the archdeacon to install him; and on the same day information was forwarded to Edward I asking for his royal sanction. (fn. 39)

Consequent on a personal visitation of this priory by Archbishop Romayne, injunctions were issued on 19 August 1293 for the correction of the house, to the effect that silence was to be observed in church, cloister, dorter, and frater; that anyone receiving new garments from the common store was to give up the old ones; that the sick were to be more delicately fed, and not with the gross food of the convent; that the presence of seculars was to be discouraged; that accounts were to be rendered once a year; that no corrodies were to be sold; and that the carols were to be inspected once a year. The archbishop at the same time laid down that John their late prior was to be honoured and his counsel followed, because of his great services to the house and his generosity about his pension in freely and voluntarily giving up much to which he was entitled. As a new ordinance for his pension, the archbishop ordered that Brother John was to have his chamber and garden as previously arranged, with a canon's livery for himself and another for the canon who was to dwell with him and say the divine offices, and another for his boy; and also 30s. a year for his own necessaries and for the boy's wages; any guest who came to visit him was to have his meals in the frater or in the hall.

Another of the injunctions concerned the restoration of eight marks out of the legacy of R. de Everingham for the fabric of the church, which sum Brother John, who was then prior, converted to other uses of the house; and a loan of twenty marks lent to the sacrist was to be secured. The sacrist, for various lapses, was to be removed from his office. Richard of Hallam, the late prior, was to be confined to the cloister. Finally, all games of dice were prohibited. (fn. 40)

In September 1326 Pope John XXII issued his mandate to the Archbishop of York to appropriate the church of Egmanton, valued at £10 per annum, to this priory, due provision being made for a perpetual vicar. (fn. 41)

Archbishop Richard le Scrope on 19 September 1397 commissioned Prior William de Allerton to administer vows of perpetual chastity to Cecilia, widow of John Crowshaw, burgess of Nottingham, giving her ring, veil, and mantle. (fn. 42)

The Valor of 1534 gave the clear annual value of this priory as £167 16s. 11½d. The spiritualities, amounting to £58, included the Nottinghamshire rectories of Papplewick, Hucknall Torkard, Stapleford, Tuxford, and Egmanton, and the Derbyshire rectory of Ault Hucknall, with the chapel of Rowthorn. The temporalities in the counties of Nottingham and Derby brought in an income of £161 18s. 8½d. The considerable deductions included 20s. given to the poor on Maundy Thursday in commemoration of Henry II, the founder, and a portion of food and drink similar to that of a canon given to some poor person every day, valued at 60s. a year. (fn. 43)

Notwithstanding the considerable drop of the clear annual value of Newstead below the £200 assigned as the limit for the suppression of the lesser monasteries, this priory obtained the doubtful privilege of exemption, on payment to the Crown of the heavy fine of £233 6s. 8d. A patent to this effect was issued on 16 December 1537. (fn. 44)

The surrender of this house was accomplished on 21 July 1539. The signatures attached were those of John Blake, prior, Richard Kychun, sub-prior, John Bredon, cellarer, and nine other canons, Robert Sisson, John Derfelde, William Dotton, William Bathley, Christopher Motheram, Geoffrey Acryth, Richard Hardwyke, Henry Tingker, and Leonard Alynson. (fn. 45)

On 24 July Dr. London, to whom the surrender was made, forwarded to Sir Richard Rich the pension list he had drawn up, and asked for its ratification. The prior obtained a pension of £26 13s. 4d., the sub-prior £6, and the rest of the ten canons who signed the surrender sums varying from £5 6s. 8d. to £3 6s. 8d. (fn. 46)

Immediately on the surrender being accomplished the custody of the house was handed over to Sir John Byron of Colwick. (fn. 47) In May 1540 Sir John Byron was put into legal possession of the house, site, church, steeple, churchyard, and of all the lands, mills, advowsons, rectories, &c. of the late priory. (fn. 48)

There is a good impression of the first (12th-century) seal of this priory attached to a charter in the British Museum. (fn. 49) The Blessed Virgin is represented seated on a throne, with the Holy Child on her left knee, and in the right hand a fleur-de-lis. Legend:—

+ SIGILLUM . SANCTE MARIE NOVI LOCI I SCHI.

There is also a cast from an imperfect impression of the second seal (14th-century) which also bears the Virgin and Child, and has a diapered background. Only two or three letters of the legend remain. (fn. 50)

Priors of Newstead

Eustace, 1216 (fn. 51)

Richard, 1216 (fn. 52)

Robert, 1234 (fn. 53)

William (late cellarer), 1241 (fn. 54)

William, 1267 (fn. 55)

John de Lexinton, resigned 1288 (fn. 56)

Richard de Hallam, 1288 (fn. 57)

Richard de Grange, 1293 (fn. 58)

William de Thurgarton, 1324 (fn. 59)

Hugh de Colingham, 1349 (fn. 60)

William de Colingham, resigned 1356 (fn. 61)

John de Wylesthorp, resigned 1366 (fn. 62)

William de Allerton, 1366 (fn. 63)

John de Hucknall, 1406 (fn. 64)

William Bakewell, 1417 (fn. 65)

Thomas Carleton, resigned 1424 (fn. 66)

Robert Cutwolfe, resigned 1424 (fn. 67)

William Misterton, 1455 (fn. 68)

John Durham, 1461 (fn. 69)

Thomas Gunthorp, 1467 (fn. 70)

William Sandale, 1504 (fn. 71)

John Blake, 1526 (fn. 72)

Footnotes

1 Cited in confirmation on charter of 1247; Chart. R. 31 Hen. III, m. 9.
2 Cited in Dugdale, Mon. vi, 474-5.
3 Chart. R. 6 John, m. 4, no. 42.
4 Pat. 23 Hen. III, m. 8 d.
5 Pat. 25 Hen. III, m. 8.
6 Chart. R. 31 Hen. III, m. 9.
7 Pat. 29 Hen. III, m. 2.
8 Pat. 35 Hen. III, m. 7.
9 Pat. 2 Edw. I, m. 3.
10 Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 60; ii, 25, 26, 29 301, 302, 305, 311, 315; Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 646-7.
11 Pat. 7 Edw. I, m. 2.
12 Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 74, 310, 310b, 311b, 312.
13 Pat. 23 Edw. I, m. 3.
14 Pat. 28 Edw. I, m. 8.
15 Pat. 32 Edw. I, m. 28.
16 Pat. 35 Edw. I, m. 19.
17 Pat. 4 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 5.
18 Pat. 9 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 2.
19 Pat. 11 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 32.
20 Pat. 15 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 7.
21 Pat. 12 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 25.
22 Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. ii, m. 27.
23 Pat. 18 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 2, 1; pt. ii, m. 34.
24 Pat. 4 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 41.
25 Pat. 8 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 24, 18.
26 Pat. 15 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 10; pt. iii, m. 1; see also Pat. 17 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 25; and 20 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 21.
27 Pat. 16 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 37, 19.
28 Pat. 15 Hen. VI, m. 18.
29 Pat. 1 Edw. IV, pt. iii, m. 10.
30 York Epis. Reg. Gray, fol. 30.
31 Ibid. fol. 66.
32 York Epis. Reg. Gray, fol. 210.
33 This visitation is entered in Giffard's Reg. fol. 98b.
34 'The master of the infirmary ought to have mass celebrated daily for the sick, either by himself or by some other person, should they in anywise be able to come into the chapel; but if not he ought to take his stool and missal and reverently at their bedsides make the memorials of the day, of the Holy Spirit and of Our Lady; and if they cannot sing the canonical hours for themselves, he ought to sing them for them, and frequently in the spirit of gentleness repeat to them words of consolation, of patience, and of hope in God; read to them, for their consolation, lives of Saints; conceal from them all evil rumours; and in no wise distress them when they are resting.' Willis Clark, Customs of the Augustinian Canons, 205.
35 York Epis. Reg. Giffard, fol. 100b, 101.
36 Ibid. fol. 98b.
37 York Epis. Reg. Wickwane, fol. 137.
38 Ibid. Romanus, fol. 73.
39 Ibid. fol. 79d.
40 Ibid. fol. 82, 83.
41 Cal. of Papal Letters, i, 254.
42 Harl. MS. 6969, fol. 93.
43 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 153-4.
44 Pat. 28 Hen. VIII, pt. iv, m. 18.
45 Dep. Keeper's Rep. viii, App. ii, 33.
46 L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), 1313.
47 Ibid. 1321.
48 Pat. 32 Hen. VIII, pt. iv, m. 7.
49 Harl. Chart. 83, C. 43.
50 Seal Casts, lxx, 54.
51 Harl. MSS. 6957, fol. 241.
52 Ibid.
53 Pat. 19 Hen. III, m. 17.
54 Close, 25 Hen. III, m. 9.
55 Harl. MS. 6970, fol. 177.
56 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 5; Pat. 16 Edw. I, m. 10.
57 Ibid.
58 Harl. MS. 6970, fol. 107; Pat. 21 Edw. I, pt. i, m. 22.
59 Harl. MS. 6872, fol. 16, 279; Pat. 18 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 2, 1.
60 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 18; Pat. 23 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 6.
61 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 20.
62 Ibid.
63 Ibid.
64 Ibid. fol. 24; Pat. 7 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 3.
65 Dugdale, Mon. vi, 474.
66 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 25.
67 Ibid.; Pat. 2 Hen. VI, pt. iii, m. 12.
68 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 30.
69 Ibid.; Pat. 1 Edw. IV, pt. i, m. 14.
70 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 34; Pat. 7 Edw. IV, pt. ii, m. 19.
71 Harl. MS. 6972, fol. 42.
72 Ibid. fol. 46.