Calverley Charters presented to the British Museum by Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, Baronet, Volume I.
Transcribed by S. Margerison and ed. by W. Paley Baildon and S. Margerison


THE Calverley Charters, of which the first four hundred are here printed, probably form one of the most complete series of private muniments in the kingdom. Beginning towards the end of the twelfth century, we have practically the whole of the deeds relating to the possessions of the Calverley family in Calverley, Pudsey, Parsley, and elsewhere, and a considerable number of more personal documents, such as wills, bonds, acquittances, marriage articles, and the like.

The plan adopted by the editors is as follows: —The first hundred charters are printed in full, with the contractions of the manuscript extended; in the remainder those portions which are merely common form are omitted, but all names of persons and places are given, and the operative parts and covenants are printed sufficiently fully to show the exact effect of the document; to each charter is prefixed a short precis in English.

It is not always easy to suggest a date for an undated charter, even approximately. The editors have done their best in this direction, and have in most cases (especially in the early ones) appended notes giving the evidence on which they have based their opinion. Several of the dates assigned in the text have been altered on further consideration; see list of corrigenda at the end of this Introduction.

From the conveyancing point of view simply, these charters are not specially remarkable. We see very clearly the gradual building up of a considerable estate by the purchase of a large number of small freeholds. Unfortunately, there is nothing to show how these were dealt with, but it is evident that a considerable number of them went to form the park.1 The cottages and other buildings would be removed, and the whole would be surrounded by a pale.

In No. 30 we get some information as to prices. William Scot had settled a rent of 15s. on Alice his daughter and Simon de Otley; Simon agrees to sell this back to William for nine marks. Nine marks are £6, which is exactly eight years' purchase. The sum seems very small, and perhaps does not represent the market value.

No. 35 is an early instance of the manumission of a villein. Ralph the prepositus of Calverley releases Richard son of William the prepositus of Bolton from all service and servile custom, and grants that Richard may go and come wherever he may wish, with all his family and his goods and chattels, as Ralph's free man; for this Richard and his heirs are to pay every Christmas certain white gloves.

This document raises a very interesting question as to the status of the prepositus, or reeve. It is generally held that persons serving the office were villeins, and not free men. Thus Vinogradoff lays down that the liability to serve as reeve is one of the indications of personal servitude; and again, "the obligation of serving as a reeve or in any other capacity is certainly derived from the power of a lord over the person of his subject; he had it always at his discretion to take his man away from the field, and to employ him at pleasure in his service."

Sir Frederick Pollock and Professor Maitland take the same view:—"The duty of serving as the lord's reeve whenever the lord pleases, the liability to be tallaged 'high and low' these also are treated as implying personal bondage, and very naturally so.". . . "As to the reeve, we only know him in real life as the reeve of a lord, the reeve of a manor, usually a villein elected by his fellows in the lord's court, presented to and accepted by the lord's steward, compelled to serve the office because he is not a free man."

If now we look at No. 35 in the light of these eminent authorities, it is quite clear that it does not bear out their statements. Here we have two reeves, one of Calverley, the other of Bolton, no doubt Bolton in Bradford-dale. The reeve of Calverley is clearly a free man, for the reeve of Bolton is his villein. The reeve of Bolton, on the other hand, is the villein, not of the lord of Bolton, but of the reeve of Calverley.

It is difficult to suggest any explanation, and this is not the place to discuss the question at any great length. Possibly Radulphus prepositus de Calverley should not be translated " reeve of Calverley," for prepositus, though generally used with the meaning of reeve, has at times a variety of Other meanings. (See Ducange.)

No. 46, 1259, shows that the process of reducing the wooded land into arable was still going on. The lease was granted for seven years at a nominal rent, a nail of clove, but a sum of money not specified had been paid by the lessees. The property comprised a meadow, and certain arable land which is described as an essart, that is land which had been cleared of timber. It is clear, however, that this had only been partially done, for power is given to the lessees to cut and use all trees, except oaks, but they are not to interfere with a wood called Wilcock-royd-green. All the land on which trees were cut was to be essarted, which probably means that the roots were to be grubbed up, and the land properly prepared for the plough.

In No. 60, 1265, we have one of the few references to customary services which are to be found in these charters; the tenant pays 5s. 5d. yearly, does three boon-works in the autumn, and does one day's work at the mill dam.

No. 92 is a good example of the way in which a holding was scattered about among the common fields. The acre thereby conveyed lay in five different strips.
N.B.—In the precis of this charter the word perticata is mistranslated perch; it should, of course, be rood. The words perticata, a rood, and pertica, a perch, are often confused, and, indeed, the distinction was not always remembered by the mediaeval scribes themselves.

No. 131 is an agreement relating to an approvement, that is an inclosure, of some common land in Calverley, about 1300. It is not quite clear what right the agreeing parties, Hugh de Woodhall and John Scot, had to give each other leave to inclose; the rights of other persons, if any, are completely ignored.

No. 173, 1279, an early account roll, gives a valuable list of prices. Barley was sold for 5s. a quarter, peas for 2s. 11d. a quarter, and oats for 3s. a quarter. One horse fetched 40s., another only 10s. 2d. Sheep fetched 1s. 8d. each. An old cart with harness for it was sold for 2s. 6d. There is also some information to be gathered as to wages.

No. 238, 1361, is not unlike a modern building lease. Walter de Calverley grants a lease for life to Peter de Pudsey of a tenement in Pudsey, reserving a rent of 3s. Peter had erected a house thereon at his own expense, but Walter found the necessary timber.

No. 242, 1363, is somewhat similar. The same Walter grants a lease for life of the fulling mill at Calverley, at a rent of 20s. Walter will pay or allow half the cost of timber recently used in the repair of the mill, and undertakes to find all future timber required, and to cart it to the mill.

No. 254, 1377, is a deed of great interest It clearly relates to certain iron-smelting works; whether actually started or in contemplation is not stated. William son of Elias de Bramley was the iron-master, and by the document in question he purchased certain woods from Walter de Calverley for the purpose of converting into charcoal for his forges. The trees to be felled were to be marked on Walter's behalf; wood-apples, ashes, and hollies were not to be touched. The loppings that were not suitable for making charcoal might be used for baking and brewing for the men at the forge. William was to pay every week 9s. and one piece of iron, but this rent was to cease when snow or other stress of weather stopped work at the forge. Certain rights of way were granted in consideration of a yearly payment of twenty-four pieces of iron. William also undertook to start forges in other woods of Walter's, if the trees should be marked as reasonably as those bought on the present occasion. The slag heaps are noticed on p. ix ante.

No. 280, 1388, is another document of great interest. It is a bill or invoice of goods supplied to Dame Joan, wife of Sir Walter de Calverley, by one Robert Derehorne. The items of dress may be compared with the drawings of the period; they comprise gowns and hoods of various colours and materials, several kinds of furs for trimmings, and forty pearls, probably for the same purpose. The pearls were evidently imitations, since they cost but 2 1/4d. apiece. There were two saddles; one of them, gilt and covered with red velvet, is described as "for a lady," and was doubtless for Dame Joan's own use; the other one, also red, was "for a woman," probably her maid. Coupled with these things are the ludicrously incongruous items of a calf, a couple of red herrings, and six salt fish.
No. 284, 1389, is a lease for lives of the manor of Eccleshill to Sir Walter de Calverley, Joan his wife, and Joan his daughter, at a rent of 40s. a year. The lessees undertook to enlarge the mansion-house by building a new hall, with an adjoining chamber, at their own expense except as to timber, which was apparently to be taken from the park. The lessees were to fell any timber in the park if they wished to do so, either to sell or to burn, and were only to pay the value of the pasture of the wood, that is of the pannage.

The most interesting class of these documents is unquestionably the fine series of marriage contracts and settlements. These are so unusually numerous, and so full of curious social items, as to warrant special treatment in some detail.

The earliest (No. I), of late twelfth century date, is the settlement by Roger Scot on the marriage of his sister Mary with Geoffrey de Arthington. The deed follows the ordinary form of gifts in frank marriage, and reserves the rent of a pair of gilt spurs.

Another settlement in somewhat similar form is that by William Scot on the marriage of his daughter Joan with Richard Ingram of Nottingham, undated, but about 1246 (No. 28). Here the rent reserved was seven silver pennies.

The settlement, circa 1261, made on the marriage of William de Wath and Margery Scot (No. 61), does not call for special comment. The rent reserved was 6d. Nor does that on the marriage of Robert de Lumby and Sarah de Woodhall (No. 67), where the rent reserved was 6d.

The same remark applies to No. 98, the settlement on the marriage of William Alayn and Maude o' the Green, and to No. 221, on the marriage of Robert the Harper and Margery de Priesthorpe in 1351.

No. 224, made on the marriage of Walter de Calverley and Margery de Dyneley in 1357, settles a considerable number of small tenements, and reserves the rent of a rose to Sir John de Calverley, the grantor.

No. 312 is the settlement made by the feoffees of Sir Walter de Calverley on the marriage of Sir Walter himself with his third wife, Joan Bigot, in 1401. It does not call for any special remarks; the rent of a rose was reserved.

No. 320 is the agreement made for the marriage of Walter, the son of the last-named Sir Walter and Dame Joan, then about 13 years of age, with Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas de Markenfield. The agreement was made by Dame Joan, Sir Walter being dead; she undertook to settle property on the young couple to the clear yearly value of £6 13s. 4d. Markenfield on his part undertook to pay £53 6s. 8d. by instalments.

No. 336, 1431, relates to the marriage of John Wentworth and Anne Calverley. John Wentworth of Elmsall, the elder, died leaving an infant son, John, who became a ward of the King. The King sold the marriage and wardship of young John to John Leventhorpe, John Saville, and John Lake, in consideration of £40, on July 8th, 1430. Leventhorpe having released his interest to Saville and Lake, they sold the marriage and wardship to Walter Calverley in April, 1431. for £53 6s. 8d. Walter undertook to provide proper maintenance for the ward, to keep his property in repair, to pay all outgoings, and not to commit waste. The settlement made on this marriage, if any, has not been preserved.

No. 344, 1434, is the contract made between Walter Calverley and Gilbert del Legh the elder for marriage of their respective children, Gilbert del Legh the younger and Alice Calverley. Gilbert the elder is to settle lands to the yearly value of £4 13s. 4s.; he also covenants that after his own death all his lands shall be secured to young Gilbert, except the dower of Margaret, wife of the elder Gilbert, which is to be £13 6s. 8d. a year. Walter on his part undertakes to pay the elder Gilbert £40 by five instalments, and 26s. 8d. to young Gilbert; he also agrees to pay the latter £2 a year for six years, to find him at an Inn of Chancery in London.

No. 348, 1442, is the agreement for the marriage of William son of Walter Calverley and Agnes daughter of Sir John Tempest of
Bracewell. Walter is to settle lands to the yearly value of £10, and covenants that after his death all his lands shall descend to William, except lands to the yearly value of £20, as to which he reserves a right to provide for his two younger sons for their lives and also dower for his widow. Sir John was to pay £106 13s. 4d. by five instalments. He was also to have the "reule and governance" of the young couple until William should be 18 years old, and until that time they were to live with him. Walter, as an afterthought apparently, reserves an acre of land in Pudsey, where he may get " thackstone," i.e. stone slates for roofing.

No. 350, 1442, refers to the marriage of John Slingsby of Scriven, and Isabel daughter of Walter Calverley; it does not call for special comment.

No. 353, 1443, refers to the marriage of Richard Brearey of Menston and Katherine daughter of William Clapham of Beamsley. Clapham is to pay £10 to Richard and Katherine, and to provide for his daughter 40s. worth "in arayment of hir chaumber." William Brearey, Richard's father, is also to pay £10, and to settle all his lands in Menston and Rossett after the deaths of himself and his wife.

No. 359, 1446, is the agreement for the marriage of Robert, eldest son of Nicholas Baildon, with Amice, daughter of Walter Calverley. Nicholas is to settle lands worth yearly £4 13s. 4d. clear on Robert and Amice and the heirs of their bodies, and other lands bringing in £1 6s. 8d., in which Amice was to have a life estate. Nicholas covenants that after his death Robert shall succeed to all his lands in Yorkshire, except to the yearly value of £4, which Jonet, wife of Nicholas, is to have in dower. Nicholas was to have the " rule and goidance" of the young couple for two years, during which time he is to find them "competently in all thynges necessarie"; he also undertakes to find Robert at Court at London for two years at his own expense, towards which Walter will contribute 26s. 8s. Walter is to pay Nicholas £26 13s. 4d. by six instalments.

No. 360, 1446, is the agreement for the marriage of Tristram, eldest son of Robert Boiling, and Beatrice, daughter of Walter Calverley. Robert is to settle lands to the clear yearly value of £6 13s. 4d., of which lands worth £3 6s. 8d. are to be settled at the time of the marriage, lands worth £2 13s. 4d. when Beatrice attains the age of fourteen, and lands worth 13s. 4d. on the death of Katherine widow of John Boiling. Robert undertakes that after his death all his lands shall descend to Tristram and Beatrice and the heirs of their bodies, except the dower of Isabel, Robert's wife. Walter is to pay Robert £46 13s 4d. by seven instalments. Walter is to have the " reule and gouernance" of Beatrice, and Robert of Tristram, until Beatrice is twelve; Walter is to have 33s5. 4d. out of the settled estates for Beatrice's keep, and Robert the like sum for Tristram's keep. When Beatrice is twelve Robert is to have the "reule and gouernance" of the young couple; he is to provide for them until Beatrice is twenty, and is to receive the income of the settled property. If Tristram dies before Beatrice is fourteen, then James Boiling, Robert's second son, is to marry her.

No. 378, 1467, is the agreement for the marriage of Christopher, eldest son of Lawrence Lister, and Joan, daughter of Walter Calverley. Lawrence is to settle lands to the clear yearly value of £5 6s. 8d., and undertakes that at his death other lands to the yearly value of £20 shall descend to Christopher and Joan and the heirs of their bodies. Walter is to pay Lawrence £46 13s. 4d. by three instalments. Many of these documents .contain elaborate provisions for the contingencies of the prospective husband or wife dying within a certain time, with or without issue, and for the repayment of some of the moneys already paid, or for the waiver of future instalments, and so on. For these the reader must refer to the deeds themselves, which are well worth careful study and comparison.

Lincoln's Inn.