THIS Chronicle, sometimes called the Annales
Cestrienses and sometimes the Chronicle of S.
Werburg, has never before been printed, nor, so
far as I know, ever cited or referred to, except by
Wharton in his Anglia Sacra and in his MS. collections, by
Le Neve (and his recent editor Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy) in
the Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, by Bishop Kennett in his MS
Diptycha preserved in the British Museum (Lansdowne MSS
935), by Dr. Ormerod in his History of Cheshire, and by the
editors of Dugdale's Monasticon. The references made by
Hardy in his edition of Le Neve's Fasti are all taken second
hand from the Anglia Sacra, and the citations in the edition
of Dugdale given by Sir Henry Ellis and others, are also
taken either from Wharton, from Kennett's Diptycha, or
from Ormerod's History of Cheshire, where there is to be
found a long series of extracts from the Annales Cestrienses
or Chronicon S. Werburgæ, not, however, taken from the MS.
in the possession of Lord Mostyn (from which this volume is
printed), but from a MS. bound up at the end of Bishop
Gastrell's Notitia Cestriensis, a large folio volume preserved
in the Diocesan Registry at Chester. This MS., consisting
of six leaves, written in the early part of the last century
(but, as Mr. Earwaker tells me, not in the handwriting of
Bishop Gastrell), was believed by Dr. Ormerod to be a copy
of the Mostyn MS. from the fact that all (except the last of)
the extracts in the Diptycha of Bishop Kennett are identical
with passages to be found in the Gastrell MS., and that Bishop
Kennett states that these extracts were from a MS. then at
Gloddaeth "penes D. Tho. Mostyn Baronettum." When
Dr. Ormerod wrote, this MS. was believed to be lost, but he
says "the Author has identified with these Annals (by
collating with the extracts in Kennett's Diptycha) the MS.
Chronicon incerti Auctoris appended to Gastrell's Notitia,
and generally quoted in this work as the Chronicle of
St. Werburg, a transcript of which is in his possession." (fn. 1)
The Gastrell MS., under the title Annales Cestrienses, was
designed for publication by the Chetham Society more
than forty years since, and is included in the list of
proposed works appended to the first volume issued by that
Society in 1844. A transcript of it was made by the late
Canon Raines, and with his other MS. collections is now
in the Chetham Library. A few years since, at the request
of the Council of the Record Society, and on the assumption
that the Mostyn MS. was still lost, I undertook to edit and
translate the Gastrell MS., with the view of the same being
inserted in the volume of Miscellanies which appeared in
1885, but before the volume was issued, the Bishop of Chester
discovered that the Gloddaeth MS. was still in existence at
Mostyn Hall, and was the same as that described in the
Appendix to the Fourth Report of the Royal Commission
on Historical Manuscripts, p. 353, among the "Notes of the
Manuscripts of the Right Honourable Lord Mostyn at
Mostyn Hall," as follows:-
"'No. 157, 4to. paper. Old Mostyn Catalogue, No. 19.
"Annals of ye Abbey of Chester to ye year 1297.' (Never
"printed. Note in old catalogue by Bp. Humphreys.)
"A chronological account of remarkable occurrences in
"Latin, commencing from the birth of Christ, and continued
"to the year 1297. From the year 1093, the entries are
"numerous, and, besides those relating to public events, there
"are notices of the deaths, &c., of the Earls, Bishops, and
"Abbots of Chester, and other particulars relating to the
"Abbey. On the first page there is a list of the Kings of
"England from Aluredus to Henric. (I.). On the next the
"work commences 'Jesus xr't filius dī in bethleem natus,' &c.
"Ends 'Mo CCo noneg.
Septimo. E. Rex. xi K'l Septēbris "transfretavit in Flandriam.'"
Upon application being made to Lord Mostyn, he liberally
consented to lend the MS. It was found on examination
to contain more than four times as much matter as the
Gastrell MS., and at the request of the Council I consented
to edit and translate it.
The manuscript proper consists of forty-eight leaves of
paper, and is written in various handwritings, all of them, as
I should judge, of the end of the fifteenth or early part of the
sixteenth century. The first page contains the list of kings,
forming page 1 of the present volume, the second page is
blank, and the third commences "Incipit vj Etas Seculi"; it
ends on the ninety-first page, with the words quoted in the
Report of the Historical Manuscripts Commission. No
title or other description, neither Annales Cestrienses,
Chronicon S. Werburg, nor any other, is anywhere to be
found. The years up to 1139 occupy forty-five pages,
ruled throughout, with the date of each year in a centre
column; a space of about half an inch in depth, and two
and a half inches long on each side of the date being
prepared for the entries for the year, with the exception of
the years 1093, 1094, and 1095, to each of which double
spaces are given. The majority of the spaces are left
blank, as will be seen from the fact that there are entries
only in 104 years, though there are 1139 spaces. Where the
entry is too long to be inserted in the proper space, it
runs forward into those which follow. The whole of the
entries up to this period are in the same handwriting. In
the twelve pages, extending from 1140 to 1192, the plan
is the same, the date being still in the centre column with
the events of the year on each side, but the spaces vary
considerably; to the year 1184 nearly two pages of two
columns each are allotted. Up to this date, however, it is
not always clear to what year some of the entries refer, as
they occasionally run on beyond the next date without any
break. From the year 1193 until the end, in 1297, the middle
column where the dates have hitherto been is left blank, each
year having a space ruled out for it with the date intended to
be written in a narrow ruled space above it; and the date is
invariably inserted until the year 1265, when it is omitted, as
is the case in several subsequent years (see note, p. 92). From
about the year 1100, several different handwritings appear, often
more than one in the same year. The original scribe would
in general seem to have made his entry, and afterwards additions
were made by others. The greater part of the entry
for 1173 is in a hand which I have not elsewhere noticed;
from the year 1178 down to nearly the end of 1187, the greater
part of the entries are in a different hand to any which elsewhere
appears, a very much larger and bolder hand, the
letters being nearly a quarter of an inch in height, but with
portions here and there interspersed in two hands, one very
similar to that in the earlier part of the MS., but the other
different. In the subsequent entries there appear to be two
if not three hands, one of them the same as, or very similar
to, that of the earlier entries. It certainly appears as though
there were at least four scribes concerned in the MS., yet all
about the same period, i.e., the latter part of the fifteenth or
the commencement of the sixteenth century.
That the principal scribe was a Welshman there can be
little doubt. In the left-hand space by the side of the date
ccxviii, instead of an entry relating to the affairs of that year
is the following:-
"Y vloyddyn hon i Slesit scrivenu.
Y Kydcoric sy wedi scrivenv ao ccxxix."
The Venerable D. R. Thomas, M.A., F.S.A., Archdeacon of
Montgomery, has kindly translated this, and has added the
note which follows:-
"This year Slesit wrote.
Cydgoric has written ao 229.
"Slesit and Cydgoric appear to be the names of two scribes; though
possibly the Article y (the) prefixed to Cydgoric may imply the
known Fellow Scholar or Chorister (Cyd cor-ig)-known then but not now-
has written it. Slesit is to me a new name."
There is no other entry for this year, and, so far as I can
judge, the entry for 229 is in the same hand as this for 218
and many other entries. Whatever may have been the
names or distinctions of the scribes, the knowledge of Latin
shown by several of them was certainly very limited, nor
was their skill even in deciphering the words that they
purported to copy much greater. Numbers, genders, and
cases are frequently in all but inextricable confusion;
many non-existent words are to be found, and it is impossible
to suppose that the extracts which go to make up
the MS. were accurately copied. Frequently the several
syllables of a word are so divided as to show that the scribe
had no knowledge of its meaning, but took it for two distinct
words, (e.g. the word "manu," in the entry under 1066, has a
considerable space between "ma" and "nu"). Several of these
cases, where it is difficult to decide what are the words
intended, are referred to in the notes.
That the present MS. is not an original is clear. Its
extremely corrupt condition sufficiently proves this. But
whether it is an imperfect and corrupt copy of some earlier
original, or whether it is a series of extracts from several
MSS., seems doubtful. The Gastrell MS. is neither a copy
of, nor a mere series of extracts from this Mostyn MS., for,
although as before stated it does not contain more than a
fourth of the contents of the Mostyn MS., yet it includes
several considerable and interesting additions thereto. All
that is printed in this volume in the Latin text in Italics is
taken from the Gastrell MS., and is not to be found in the
Mostyn MS. The fact that the Gastrell MS. is much more
accurately written would lead to the inference that it was
copied from an original that was more correct than the
present. Yet it is to be noted that several of the blank
spaces to be found in the Mostyn MS. where words are clearly
omitted also appear in the Gastrell MS. (see p. 78, containing
the entries under the year 1259). Upon the
whole, what seems to me the most probable conclusion is, that
the person under whose authority the Mostyn MS. was
written gave directions for some earlier MS. preserved in
the convent (and probably originally compiled under the
supervision of the abbot Simon of Whitchurch) to be copied,
and that it was intended to make considerable additions
thereto from other sources, but that only a portion of these
additions were, in fact, made. It would certainly seem as if
the Mostyn MS. was based upon an earlier and therefore more
trustworthy original than the Gastrell MS., since it neither
contains the fable of the foundation of Oxford by Alfred,
nor the account of the removal of the remains of S. Werburg
from Hanbury to Chester, nor does it contain several other
matters referring exclusively to the abbey or church of S.
Werburg. The Gastrell MS., there can be little doubt,
was copied from a MS. compiled and preserved in the
abbey, and devoted to its special glorification and that
of its patron saint, and probably based, as to the affairs
of the thirteenth century, on the MS. compiled under
the direction of Simon of Whitchurch. As the Gastrell
MS. is very brief, and as what it contains and what
it omits must be equally important points for consideration
in any attempt to come to a conclusion as to the age or
authority of the Mostyn MS., I have caused it to be printed
as an Appendix to this volume, though I have noted as they
occur the more important variations in the two MSS.
The Mostyn manuscript is a small folio on paper, the
outer covering (which has evidently been originally the cover
of some other MS.) being vellum, half of which at the
beginning has been cut away, while on that which forms the
end is written in large letters "llyver e monach a Caerlleon."
Immediately after the cover at the beginning, two vellum
leaves follow, with similar ones at the end, which have been
taken from a breviary with musical notes. The third leaf is
of paper, and contains a list of Councils as follows:-
Antioche in Syria anno domini cccxlvi Antiogenum.
Arminium in Italye anno dni ccclxi Ariminense.
Orleaunce anno dñ viiicxiiij Arelatense.
Baslle in Almayne anno domini mcccxlv Basiliense.
Calcedon in Bithinia anno domini ccccliiij Calcedonense.
Carthage in affricka anno dñi ccccxix Carthaginense.
Constaunce in Helvetia anno dñi ccccxiiij Constantie.
Constantinopoli anno domini viijclxix Constantinopolitanū.
fferaria in Italye anno dñi mccccxxviij fferariense.
Rome in the palace called lateranū ao dñi mccxvj lateranense.
liones in frannce anno dni Mcclxxiij lugdunense.
Necia a citie in bithinia cccxxvij Nicenum."
The fourth leaf (of vellum) has clearly formed part of a
book of devotions. On the recto is a drawing of Our Lord
rising from the tomb, surrounded with the symbols of the
Passion, namely the cross, the crown of thorns, the scourging
post, the dice, the sponge, the hammer and nails, and what is
probably a vinegar pot, somewhat resembling a pestle and
mortar, under which are the following lines:-
"Attendite et videte si est dolor similis sicut dolor meus."
"Vivere qui gaudes consulo disce mori
Mors est nam requies vivere pena, boni"
"Ecce qui transis quia tu michi causa doloris
Qui ultra debui pro te facere quod non feci."
On the verso is a similarly-executed drawing of Our Lord
on the Cross, with the Blessed Virgin on one side and S.
John on the other. Both these drawings are clearly of the
fifteenth century. After this comes the MS. proper.
The annals end on the ninety-first page of the MS., then
follow four pages blank, and then a page containing the
following in a sixteenth century hand:-
"Hynn sed yn llyver gwyn Ryderch.
12 Ebestyl a gymerassant rannav y byd i bregethu.
Peder a gymerth Rovain.
Iago yr yspayn.
Thomas yr India.
Jeuan yr Asia.
Symon zelotis Egiptum.
Iago Brant yr argluyt caerusalem.
Paul a rei ereill ni roded rãnav priant vdunt, namyn
pregethu y gyffredin ir pobloed y lle y mynynt.
hyn sy mewn llyver cronicles a scrivenodd John Stowe. (fn. 2)
The holy apostles being dispersed throughout ye whole
earthe, dyd deuide prouinces amongest thē by lot to p[rea]che ye
Peter undoutedly fyrst at hierusalem yen in Galatia
Bithinia with ye higher Asia, Capadocia yn al Italia taught
John in Asia, who ended hys life ther.
To Andrew fel ye p[ro]uinces on ye coast of
euxine, all Scithia, Byzans, Macedonia and ye fyrme land of Greece.
Thomas amongest ye parthiãs Indians and the Isle of
Tabroban did publish ye Gospel.
An other chose Egypte and libia:
An other the uttermost coastes of the Ocean, wyth the
Iles of Britayne."
Then follows another leaf of paper and the two vellum
leaves from the breviary before mentioned. On this last
paper leaf, and also on the foot of one of the leaves from the
breviary, is a series of verses in Welsh, Latin, a mixture of
Welsh and Latin, and one in English. I am indebted to the
Venerable Archdeacon Thomas for a translation of the
Welsh verses, and for the following description of them:-
"Ten verses appear to be a love song with a moral to
console the bard for his disappointment, three seem to be
imitations in English, Latin, and Latin and Welsh combined,
of the Welsh metre of the Pennillion with its peculiar
recurrence of rhythm; the motive is the same as that of the
ten first mentioned, and it appears, from a comparison of
them with the long Welsh love song, that the young lady's
name was Gwen, and that her residence was Trefwlen. There
is a township and an ancient house called Trefalun in
Gresford parish. The two other verses appear to be
independent epigrams in the same metre upon set subjects."
With regard to the sources of the Annals, a large part of
the entries, especially those referring to the abbey of S. Werburg
and to the city of Chester, and nearly the whole of those
in and subsequent to 1250, that is to say, for the last half
century of the Annals, are original, in this sense, that they
record events, however wanting in interest or importance,
which are known to us only from this and the Gastrell MS.,
and are not, so far as I know, taken from any existing source.
With regard to other entries, I have from time to time, in the
notes, referred to parallel statements and passages in other
chronicles. For many entries either the Polychronicon of
Ranulph Higden, himself, it will be remembered, a monk of
the abbey of Chester, is the source, (fn. 3) or, what is, I think, more
probable, Higden and the compiler of this MS. have gone to
some earlier MS., possibly to the Cottonian MS., Otho, B. iii.,
which it seems likely was preserved in the abbey. For a certain
number of matters, the series of chronicles now generally
cited from their latest editor and continuer, as Matthew Paris,
seem to be the authority, and for others, the several chronicles
included in the Annales Monastici, especially the Annals of
Waverley and of Worcester. Of the earlier entries it is
difficult even to suggest whence they were taken, since they
are similar to those found in many early chronicles. It will
however be noticed, that in several cases the same event is
twice recorded under different dates, showing that the compiler
either of this MS. or of that from which it is copied,
had carelessly inserted these double accounts. (fn. 4) Up to the
year 1078 a considerable number of entries are devoted
either to the archbishops of Rouen or to other matters
relating to Normandy and France; but these almost entirely
cease about the time of the foundation by S. Anselm of the
abbey of S. Werburg, and I have suggested in the note to
p. 16, that it is probable that the first abbot brought with him
from Normandy to Chester, a Rouen chronicle, from which
the entries relating to the archbishops of Rouen and to
other Continental matters were made. Whether owing to
the compilers or scribes being Welshmen, or to the fact
that Welsh matters were of supreme interest to the abbey
of Chester, situate as it was upon the Welsh borders, a
considerable number of entries relate to Welsh affairs. Many
of these, if not taken from the Annales Cambriæ, have a
common origin with that work, though others record transactions
not elsewhere to be found. The proper names are
generally written as they would be by a Welshman rather
than by an Englishman.
The Indictions are given, though not always accurately,
in the margin, beginning with the year 12, and extending to
the year 1166, after which they are unnoticed. The Chronicle
commences with the birth of our Lord, the first year of the
sixth age of the world; it ends in 1297 with the record of
King Edward having crossed to Flanders. At the suggestion
of Mr. Earwaker, I have added a translation of the Chronicle,
inserting occasionally within brackets some explanations and
additions which seemed useful, or which, at least, will make the
reading more convenient. Of much of the work a translation
is unnecessary; but of other parts, especially with these
insertions, it saves the necessity of explanatory notes, of which
no more are given than seemed to be absolutely required.
It seems probable, as suggested by Dr. Ormerod, that
this Chronicle was composed by Simon of Whitchurch, or
under his direction. "The supposed author (or director),"
he says, "was a zealous supporter of Simon de Montfort,
whom the Chronicle also decidedly favours. It must be left
to conjecture, whether he derives his name from Oswestry
(Album Monasterium) as a place of nativity, or whether he
was a cadet of the family 'de Albo Monasterio' or Blanchminster,
who were at this time connected with Cheshire."
But, notwithstanding this statement (vol. i. p. 252, second
edition), which was an addendum to the original work, in the
text Dr. Ormerod translates the name of this abbot as
Simon of Whitchurch, and in this I have followed him.
A large part of the MS., and that the most interesting, is
devoted to the affairs of the abbey of Chester during the
thirteenth century. Most of this portion is to be found in the
Gastrell MS., and was extracted therefrom by Dr. Ormerod,
and has appeared in the two editions of his History of
Cheshire. Many of these entries would be of special interest
if they now appeared for the first time; but, in addition to
these extracts which have already been printed, the Chronicle
gives us dates of several more or less important matters, and
is a confirmation of other authorities on some doubtful events,
especially the dates of the consecrations and deaths of several
bishops. It points out in detail the misfortunes which befell
those sacrilegious persons who attacked the abbey or its possessions,
as well as others who, like the great earl Marshal
and his family, had given just cause of offence to the
ecclesiastical powers. The strong sympathy with Simon de
Montfort, and the cautious way in which this is allowed to
appear, is a special point of interest. The Chronicle is also
an independent and important authority for the belief that
during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the bishops of the
great diocese which included Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire,
Warwickshire, the greater part of Lancashire, and half
of Shropshire, were indifferently styled bishops of Chester, of
Coventry, and of Lichfield. King, in his Vale Royal, gives
all the authorities that he was able to find for these prelates
being styled bishops of Chester, but has not noticed these
Annals, which confirm those of our early chroniclers who give
them this title. The entry under the year 789 is not without
interest, as showing at least the prevalent belief that the excessive
drinking of our Saxon forefathers was taught them by
the Danes. It will, however, be noted that this entry is taken
from the Gastrell MS., and is not to be found in that of
But perhaps the most interesting, and, in the eyes of all
Cheshire antiquaries and genealogists, the most important
matter in this Chronicle is the light which it throws on
that bitterly-debated point, the age of Hugh Kyveliock,
earl of Chester, and consequently on the question of the
legitimacy of his daughter Amicia, wife of Ralph Mainwaring.
It is strange that none of those who have discussed
this question have referred to these Annals, in which the date of
the birth of earl Hugh is authoritatively stated. The assumption
of sir Thomas Mainwaring, in his defence of the legitimacy
of Amicia, on which he insists over and over again, is that earl
Hugh must have been at least forty-one years of age at the
time of his marriage with his countess Bertrada, and that it is
in the highest degree improbable that a person of his rank
and importance should, in those times, have remained a
bachelor until that age; that therefore the strong presumption
is that he had married before and was a widower when
he married Bertrada. Sir Peter Leycester, on the other hand,
from various facts, though not upon any positive contemporary
authority, comes to what it now appears is the true
conclusion, that earl Hugh was not more than six or seven
years of age at the death of his father in 1153, and consequently
not more than twenty-two at the time of his marriage
with Bertrada. But neither of them could ascertain with
certainty the date either of his birth or of his marriage, nor
was Mr. Beamont, who edited the Tracts on the Amicia
Controversy for the Chetham Society, more fortunate. He
indeed concludes that there is a strong presumption that the
earl was born in or about the year 1129, and consequently
that he was more than forty years old when he married
Bertrada, and he thinks that certain dates given by him "show
to an absolute certainty that, when he married Bertred, his
daughter Amicia was of marriageable years, and was then
given in marriage to Ralph Mainwaring" (Amicia Tracts,
Introd. i. lxxiii). We have in these Annals a distinct and
early authority that Hugh Kyveliock was born in 1147, and
that he was married in 1169, then being only twenty-two
years of age. It is in the highest degree improbable that
the chronicler, who has so carefully noted his birth, his
knighthood, and his marriage with Bertrada, should have
omitted his previous marriage, if any such had taken place.
But in no case could he possibly have had a daughter,
legitimate or illegitimate, of marriageable years, at the date
of his marriage with Bertrada. (fn. 5)
It may also be noted that anything like contemporary
evidence of the parentage of the countess Bertrada has
hitherto been sought in vain. "Among the old chroniclers,"
says Mr. Beamont, "there is an altum silentium as to Bertred,
the mother of earl Hugh's heir." Her father is indeed called
Simon, count of Evereux, in Vincent's "Discovery of Errours
in the catalogue of Nobility, published by Ralph Brooke," but
no authority is quoted.
The earliest reference that I have been able to find to any
book or manuscript with the title Annales Cestrienses, or
Cestrensis, is in the Anglia Sacra of Wharton (1691). In a
note (1) to Thomas of Chesterfield's History of the bishops
of Coventry and Lichfield, part i. p. 435, Wharton writes
as follows:-"Richardus Peche seu Peccatum . . . . obiit 1182
6 Octobris feria 4 fide Annalium Ecclesiæ S. Werburgæ
Cestrensis"; and on the same page, note (m), in reference
to the death of Gerard Puella on 13 January 1184, he says,
"Obituarium Cant. et Annales Cestrenses fidem faciunt." In
the Addenda et Emenda, p. 804, are the following entries:-
"p. 439. Hugo de Pateshul intronizatus est 1240 21 Sept.
fide Annalium Cestrensium.
"p. 440. lin. ult. Obitum Roger Meyland à nobis positum
dedit Thomas Chesterfeld, sepulturam Annales Wigornenses.
Annales autem Cestrenses obitum illius 1295. 11 Dec. reponunt."
These are all the references that I have noticed in the
Anglia Sacra, and Wharton gives no information as to what
these Annales are, or where they are to be found. All the
four extracts, however, are to be found as well in the Mostyn
as in the Gastrell MS. But these extracts do not represent
the whole of Wharton's references to the Annales Cestrenses.
In the Diptycha of Bishop Kennett two columns are devoted
to the abbots of Chester; the first contains only extracts
from the Mostyn MS.; the second is headed "Series Abbatum
S. Werburgæ Cestrensis per Henr. Whartonum, MS. R.," and
the first part of it until the year 1292 is as follows:-
"Hugo Comes Cestriæ et Ermentrude uxor monasterium
Cestriæ in honorem S. Werburge fundaverunt, 1093. Reg.
Cestr. Faustina B. 8. anno 1094. Annal. Cestr. Otho, B. 3.
"Ricardus Monachus Beccensis Abbas primus ab Anselmo
(rogatu Hugonis) constitutus Abbas, 1094. Obiit 1117. Annal.
"Willelmus fit Abbas 1121. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1140
3 non. Oct. ibid.
"Radulfus succ. 1141, 11 Cal. Febr. Annal. Cestr. Obiit
"Robertus benedictus apud Lichfield 1157 die S. Nicolai.
Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1174. 31 Jan.
"Robertus II. electus 1175. die 3. Werberga sid. 3 Non.
Febr. benedicitur in Eccl'ia St. Joħis apud Cestriam die S.
Agathæ. Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1184 2 Cal. Sept. ib.
"Robertus de Hasting fit Abbas per bienni vacationem
1186. Annal. Cestr. depositus ab Huberto Archepo. 1194.
pensionem annum 20 marcarum recepit.
"G . . . . post diuturnam litem ejecto Roberto substitutus
est 1194. Annal. Cestr.
"Hugo Abbas 1214 installatus 1214. 3 Cal. Apr. die
Pasche obiit 1226. die S. Mariæ Magdal.
"Willelmus electus 1226. Dominica post Festum S. Jacobi
et prox. die Martis benedictus ab Episcopo Cestriensi Eccl'ia
S. Joħis Cestriæ Annal. Cestr. Obiit 1228. ibid.
"Walterus successit 1228. Obiit 1240. Annal. Cestr.
"Rogerus Frend benedictus 1240 die S. Matthæi. Obiit
1249. Annal. Cestr.
"Thomas de Capenhurst loci Prior successit 1249. Annal.
Cestr. Superfuit anno 1272. Placita Parl. Rileii, p. 97.
"Simon obiit paulo ante initium anni 1292. Placita
Parliam. Rileii, p. 96.
"Thomas successit et a Rege in Parliamento 1292, decerni
obtinuit, ut juxta morem antiquem Rex nil de exitibus
Abbatiæ Cestrensis vacantis perciperet. Placit: Parl. Rileii,
The next entry refers to Thomas Esdale, abbot in 1434,
thus passing over nearly a century and a half. Now, the
points to be specially noted in these extracts, so far as they
affect our Annals, are that in the first entry the reference to
the Annales is to Otho, B. iii.; secondly, that all the
entries for which Annal. Cestr. are cited as the authority, are identical
with those in the Mostyn MS. and the Gastrell MS., with the
following exceptions:-One entry-that relating to the date
of the death of Richard, first abbot, in 1117-is contained
in the Gastrell but not in the Mostyn MS. (though in the
Gastrell MS. the date is given as 1116); while, in the entry
relating to the election of William Marmion in the same
year, our two MSS. give merely the year, and neither
the day of his election, nor any reference to his receiving
the benediction. The last point to be noted is that for the
death of the abbot Simon of Whitchurch, Wharton does not
cite the Annales Cestr., but refers only to the Placita Parliam
., thus clearly implying that he was acquainted neither with
the Mostyn MS. nor with that of which the Gastrell is a
copy, each of which, though not quite consistently, records
the death of the abbot Simon with the date. A further
point to be noticed is, that no authority is cited for the
entry relating to the installation of Hugh Grylle in 1214
and his death in 1226. Neither the Mostyn nor the Gastrell
MS. mentions his installation, and, though both give 1226 as
the date of his death, neither states the day on which it
took place. I can draw no other inference from these entries
than that Wharton had examined Otho, B. iii., and had taken
the facts which he states (including those relating to Hugh
Grylle) from the Annales which formed the first article in
that MS. volume. The reference in the case of Hugh Grylle
was probably accidentally omitted.
In 1696 Dr. Thomas Smith printed his Catalogus Librorum
Manuscriptorum Bibliothecæ Cottonianæ (which also forms part
of the Catalogi Librorum MSS., published at Oxford in
1697); and in his account of the several MSS. constituting
Otho B. iii., the first article is as follows:-
"Annales a Christo nato ad annum C. 1255, in quibus multa de rebus
Angliæ adnotantur, præsertim post adventum Normannorum in Angliam;
et versus finem de obsidione Cestriæ, et de prælio ibidem, et de gestis
Ranulfi Comitis de Cestria."
This description does not seem to apply to a MS. of our
Annals, of which nearly half, and all the most important and
interesting part, is after the year 1255. Nor do our Annals
before 1255 give any account of a siege of Chester, or of a
battle fought there, though in 1265 there is a brief notice of
the siege of the castle of Chester by prince Edward, and of
its subsequent surrender. But, in addition to the
identity of several of the extracts before cited from Wharton with several
of those in our Annals, the ground for connecting these
Annals with those now printed is to be found in a reference
in Le Neve's Fasti (1716) among the authorities for the
notice of Ralph of Maidstone, bishop of Hereford.
Le Neve published his Fasti in 1716. I have only been
able to find one reference to our Chronicle, namely (pp. 108-9),
in this account of Ralph de Maydenstune, bishop of Hereford,
who, Le Neve says, "had the king's consent to his election,
Sep. 30, 1234, was consecrated 2 Id. Nov. (12) following, and
16 Cal. Jan. (Dec. 17), 1239, he voluntarily quitted his
charge and took on him the habit of a Franciscan Fryar at
Oxford. He lived afterwards the monastic life at Gloucester
for the space of five years, and then dying was buried
there. Pat. 18 H. 3 m 3. Chron. Cestrens.,MS. Cotton. Otho,
B. 3. Mat. Westm. Godw., p. 456." The question that immediately
interests us is, what part of this statement rests upon
the Chronicon Cestrense? Matthew of Westminster merely
mentions Ralph of Maidstone's consecration in 1234 by Archbishop
Edmund. Godwin states his consecration in 1234, his
resignation in 1239, and all that follows in Le Neve after the
word "voluntarily." The Patent Rolls of 18 Henry III. deal
only with the year 1234, and there therefore remains the day
of the resignation, 16 Cal. Jan., for which there is no authority
except the MS. Chron. Cestrens. Now, in the Mostyn MS.
it will be noticed under the year 1234 the year and day of
Ralph of Maidstone's consecration are both given, as stated
by Le Neve, and the inference certainly would be that the
MS. Otho, B. iii., from which Le Neve quoted, contained not
only entries relating to Ralph of Maidstone as contained in
the Mostyn MS., but a further entry giving the day of his
In Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy's edition of Le Neve (3 vols.,
1854), under Ralph of Maidstone (i. p. 459), after giving the date
of the bishop's consecration as 12 November 1234, the editor
states in a note that Ralph was consecrated "4 November,
prid. non. Nov. 1234," and cites as his authority "Annales
Cestrens.," then a few lines further on for the burial of the
bishop he cites together with Matthew of Westminster,
"Chron. Cestrens. MS., Cott. Otho, B. iii." This latter
reference is, as we have seen, that of the original Le Neve,
but what authority Sir T. D. Hardy had for giving the
"Annales Cestrens." as the authority for the consecration of
Ralph of Maidstone, and the "Chron. Cestrens," for his burial,
I do not know, since I have not met with any references
for any matter relating to Ralph of Maidstone, except those
in the original Le Neve to the "Annales" or "Chronicon,"
and I imagine, like most references in Hardy's edition, if it
is not a mere guess based upon the original statement in Le
Neve, it is taken second-hand from some other printed book.
Two other references to these Annals are given by Sir T. D
Hardy, namely, those relating to Richard Peche, which is
stated to be taken from the Anglia Sacra, and that for the
burial of Roger de Meulan, for which Hardy is also clearly
indebted to the Anglia Sacra, though this work is not
Bishop Kennett died in 1728. In his MS. Diptycha (Brit.
Mus., Lansdowne MSS. 935) is contained the earliest mention
that I have found of the Mostyn MS., which, as before stated,
he says was then at Gloddaeth "penes D. Tho. Mostyn
Baronettum." The page containing the references to the
abbots of Chester is 154 b, the first column of which consists
of fifteen extracts from the Mostyn MS., relating
exclusively to the succession of the abbots of Chester, with
dates, each extract being also contained in the Gastrell MS.
The second column, as before stated (p. xix), comprises
extracts from a manuscript of H. Wharton. In that part of
the Diptycha in which Kennett gives a list of the bishops
of Coventry and Lichfield, he has also a reference to the
Annales Cestrenses for the date of the death of Richard Peche
in 1182, while he notices the consecration of Alexander of
Stavensby in 1224 in the following words, "Consecratus est
magis. Alexander de Stavensby in Epm. Cov. a dno. papa
Honorio et venit Lichfeldium in translationem beati Benedicti."
-Chron. Cestrens. MS. Cotton. Otho, B. iii. It will
be observed that this entry is not in the words of the entry
in the Mostyn MS., which contains no reference to the arrival
of Alexander at Lichfield.
In 1731 the fire took place in Ashburnham House, where
the Cottonian Library was then lodged, and Otho, B. iii.
formed one of the 114 MSS. reported as burnt or entirely
spoiled. The fragments of Otho, B. iii., of which the earlier
parts are to me wholly illegible, and the latter parts mostly
so, have been inserted and mounted in a volume now at
the Museum, and called Otho, B. iii.
Mr. E. Maunde Thompson has most kindly examined the
fragments and compared them with the proof-sheets of these
Annales Cestrienses. He writes to me as follows:-"Only
two of the leaves of Otho, B. iii., as it now stands, are
attributed to article I. of Smith's Catalogue. They are
both defaced, and only here and there can a passage be read.
One has a hole burnt out of the middle. But there is enough
to show (by the rubrics particularly) that it was a much fuller
chronicle than your Annals; in fact, a chronicle or continuous
narrative, and not mere annals. The two works appear to be
totally different. The MS. is of the 14th century."
The seventh article in Otho, B. iii., is described by Dr.
"Annales acephali, qui incipiunt ab anno 1195 continuati ad annum
1307 . . . inseruntur . . . et inquisitiones in Concilio Provinciali
tractandæ, et multa quoque de rebus Londinensium, et circa id temporis
multa ordinationes factæ."
On folio 8 of the fragments is written in black lead, "Vide
Add. MSS. 5444. On reference to this MS. it appears to be
a copy of these Annales Acephali, and the following note is
written at the beginning:-
"Transcribed from the Cotton. Library before the fire  for the
use of John Bridges, Esq. The original perished in ye flames, it seems
to have been a sort of chronicle or register of the more remarkable
transactions of ye kingdom kept by the Town Clerk or registr. of the
City of London, and to have had many of the particulars entered at the
very time they happened."
It seems clear that these Annales Acephali have no
connection with the Annales Cestrienses.
In 1771 Dr. Foote Gower printed A Sketch of the Materials
for a New History of Cheshire (London, 4to), a second edition
of which appeared in 1773, and a third, after the author's
death, was given by Dr. William Latham in 1800. In this
Sketch, after giving an account of the Red Book containing
the evidences, endowments, gifts, legal proceedings, etc., of
the Abbey of S. Werburg, Dr. Gower (p. 15) proceeds:-
"Partly coëval with this record is a remarkable manuscript frequently
quoted under the Title of Annales Cestrienses or the Chester Annal
. The Author of this Manuscript is unknown. It consists of Annals from
the Birth of Christ to the year 1255, and particularly recites many
Historical circumstances relative to Chester, with the renowned Acts of
its Great Monarch, the famous Earl Randal."
From the resemblance of the two descriptions it seems
certain that Dr. Gower refers to a MS. of the same Annals as
formerly (according to Dr. Smith's Catalogue), formed the
first article of Otho, B. iii.
From a subsequent "summary view of those Manuscripts
which are either at present in my possession or which I have
been favoured with the obligation of a promise" (p. 83), it
would seem that "the most material part of the Chester
Annals" was then in Dr. Gower's possession. On the
following page (84) the author says, "The following Manuscripts
have not been mentioned in the preceding Sketch of
Materials because the Authors and Collectors of them were
equally unknown. But I am sufficiently happy either in the
Promise or Possession of them." Article 12 is "A Transcript
in a large Folio volume of Miscellaneous Articles under the
following titles"; the fifth of these is "Extracts from the
Chronicles of the Abbey of St. Werburgh." It is much to be
regretted that Dr. Gower affords no information as to where
the MS. of the "Annales Cestrienses" then was, or from whom
he obtained "the most material parts of these Annals"
or the "Extracts from the Chronicles of the Abbey of St.
Werburgh." (fn. 6) The fact that the renowned acts of the famous
Earl Randle are specially mentioned as though they formed
a principal part of the "Annales Cestrienses" would seem
to imply that these "Annales" must have contained much
more about this person than we find in the Mostyn MS.
In addition to the volume now styled Otho, B. iii., which, as
I have said, contains such fragments as remain of the original
volume under this title, there is in the Cottonian MSS. a
volume marked Otho, B. iii.* It contains simply a partially
burnt MS. of the first five books of the Scotichronicon of
Johannes de Fordun (or an abridgment thereof), having no
connection with any of the articles described by Dr. Smith
in his account of the original Otho, B. iii. In the beginning
is written the following note:-
"This volume is not the original Otho, B. iii. as described by
Dr. Smith in his Catalogue of 1696, and in the Report of 1732 after
the fire, but was substituted in its place by Planta.-F. M. [i.e. Sir
Frederick Madden], July 1866."
Dr. Ormerod in his History of Cheshire (new edit., p. 252),
has fallen into some confusion between Dr. Gower's Sketch
and the Cottonian MS. Otho, B. iii. He remarks that
"The description of the Annales Cestrienses mentioned in Dr.
Gower's prospectus as a remarkable MS. consisting of annals from the birth of
Christ to 1255, and reciting the renowned Acts of Earl Blundeville,
appears to be taken from Smith's Catalogue of the Cotton MSS. Otho,
B. iii., with which it coincides. This MS., if it ever existed, was
obviously a different work from the Annales; but it was one of the
MSS. which were nearly destroyed by fire, and the burnt fragments
which remain in the case referred to are part of a copy of an abridgment
of Fordun, incidentally noticing the connexion of the Earls of
Chester with the Royal family of Scotland in the person of the last
It is quite clear that Dr. Ormerod did not know of the
existence of the existence of the MS. now called Otho, B. iii., but that he
had referred to Otho, B. iii.*-(the fragments of Fordun)
-and was not aware that they had been substituted by
Planta for the fragments of the original MS. which when
Dr. Ormerod wrote had not been mounted in their present
In the preceding pages I have stated all the facts known
to me that have any bearing on the question of the relation
between the Cottonian MS. Otho, B. iii. and the Mostyn and
Gastrell MSS. It seems to me clear that Wharton personally
consulted Otho, B. iii., and that the references to the
"Annales Cestrenses," given in the extracts from his MS.
contained in the Diptycha, were taken actually by him from
that MS. It seems probable also that Le Neve had consulted
this MS. in reference to Ralph of Maidstone; but,
although it was certainly possible for Bishop Kennett to
have done so, and although his entry relating to Alexander
de Stavensby no doubt came from this MS. as he states,
yet I incline strongly to think that he had no personal
acquaintance with the MS., and that, like the extracts
relating to the abbots of Chester, that relating to Alexander
of Stavensby was taken from the MS. of Wharton. (fn. 7)
Had Kennett actually examined and made extracts from
the MS. itself, he would not have given the extracts
as merely from the MS. of Wharton, and he could not
have failed to make some reference to the resemblance
or the differences between the Mostyn MS., which he
had certainly examined, and Otho, B. iii. It results from
the comparisons I have made of Wharton's references and
extracts, with the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS., and from
Mr. Thompson's examination of the existing fragments of
Otho, B. iii., that the first article of this MS. contained much
that is to be found in our two MSS., at least before 1255,
but that it also contained much additional matter, and was
in a narrative form and not in that of annals, and that it did
not contain the entry relating to the death of Simon of
Whitchurch and to Thomas de Lythelas, which we find
though with a difference of date in both the Mostyn and
Gastrell MSS. I have stated in a note to p. 117 that these
entries in the Mostyn MS. are in a small hand, different
from the other entries in the same year, and the ground on
which I infer that they are not to be found in Otho, B. iii., is,
that Wharton can only refer for his authority as to the death
of Simon of Whitchurch to the Placita Parl. The probable
conclusion seems to be that the first article of Otho, B. iii.,
was the original (or a copy of an earlier original) compiled
and preserved in the abbey of Chester, from which many
of the entries in the Mostyn and Gastrell MSS. relating
to events before 1255 were copied, and that the subsequent
entries, and probably the whole of the MS. of which the
Mostyn MS. is a copy, were made and compiled under the
direction of Simon of Whitchurch and completed after his
How best and most exactly to print a Latin MS. full of
abbreviations and errors is a matter of some doubt, and one
upon which opinions differ. The course that I have adopted
has been to correct without notice all obvious blunders in
matters of Orthography and Syntax, and in like manner to
extend all those abbreviations where the extension is clearly
free from doubt. On the other hand, wherever the word or
the construction has seemed in the slightest degree doubtful,
I have either printed in the text or in a note the words with
the abbreviations exactly as they are in the MS. In like
manner, with regard to the proper names, where these are
ordinary Christian names, or where, in the case of a surname
or a title, the extension of the abbreviation is obvious, I
have so extended it, but in all other cases the name is
printed exactly as it appears in the MS., (fn. 8) with, in some cases,
the addition of a few letters in square brackets. All that
appears within square brackets in the Latin text is not to be
found in the MS., but must be taken to be the editor's conjecture.
The portions of the English which are in square
brackets are not represented by any words in the original
Latin text, but are added either for the purpose of completing
the sentence or of giving some necessary explanation.
The entries in the Latin text, printed in italics, are not to
be found in the Mostyn MS., but are taken from that of
Bishop Gastrell appended to the Notitia.
In citations from and references to the Chronicles which
have appeared in the Rolls Series, those editions are always
referred to except when otherwise stated; and the references
to Le Neve are to the edition in three volumes, edited
by Sir T. Duffus Hardy, Oxford, 1854. When "Wharton"
is referred to, the citation is from the extracts from
the Wharton MS. contained in the Diptycha (see ante,
pp. v, xix).
In all mediæval works, the chronology of the first three
months of the year is doubtful, and not unfrequently a
source of confusion. So far as I can judge, the writer of this
Chronicle treats the year as beginning with the 1st of April,
and the events which he records in, for instance, 1250, begin
with the first of April in that year, and end with the 31st of
March, 1251, new style. In a few cases, where there seemed
any possibility of confusion, I have inserted the date with
N.S. appended thereto. The days of the month are noted
according to the Roman Calendar in Calends, Nones, and
Ides, and, though in general the chronicler appears to have
reckoned these in their ordinary and retrograde order, yet
in some cases he appears to have reckoned them in direct
order. Thus the death of Thomas of Capenhurst is recorded
on iiii Cal. Maii, though the 17th of April, and not the 27th,
is the day intended (see pp. 92, 93, note 2).
My thanks in the first place are due to Lord Mostyn for
his kindness in intrusting me with the original MS. and in
permitting the same to be printed. I have also to thank
Mr. J. P. Earwaker, F.S.A., for much valuable assistance;
Mr. E. Maunde Thompson for examining and reporting
on Otho, B. iii.; and the venerable Archdeacon Thomas
for his account and translation of the Welsh verses before
To the Bishop of Chester I and the readers of this
volume are under special obligations. I was unwilling to
undertake a work for which I felt far from qualified, and for
which my previous studies had not specially prepared me,
and I only consented to the wish of the Council upon the
Bishop's kind assurance that he would afford me his
assistance, an assurance which he has more than fulfilled.
He has been good enough to read the whole of the proofs,
has corrected many errors into which I had fallen, owing to
my want of familiarity with mediæval MSS. and mediæval
Latin, and has made many valuable suggestions of which I
have availed myself. Although Bishop Stubbs must not be
held responsible for anything contained in this volume, yet
it is indebted to him for much that it possesses of value
The Index has been compiled by Mr. John Cree, who has
also rendered much further assistance in the preparation of
RICHARD C. CHRISTIE.
June 3, 1887.