An untimely death

Frank family tree


When William died he left Alwoodley Old Hall and adjoining lands to his son, Roger, who unfortunately produced no male heir. This was a matter of grave concern to the family as inheritance law dictated that, upon his demise, the King would have an immediate interest in the estate. Sadly, Roger died in February 1296 leaving a wife and four young daughters. Edward Ι was at York when news reached him of Roger’s death and he instructed John de Lythegreynes, escheator of the lands beyond the Trent, to undertake a full valuation of his estate. John’s clerk, William de Thornton, rode immediately to Harewood to ‘take possession of all the lands and tenements … and to cause them to be safely kept’. William was asked to ‘make diligent enquiry under oath of honest and responsible persons …of how much land the said Roger held on the day of his death, and also what property he held of others.17 

Just after Easter, William de Thornton summoned eleven witnesses to Harewood Castle. William Attebeck, Nicholas de Botiller, John de Middleton, Robert Attebeck, Henry, son of Jordan, Robert Petipas of Hugh Wygan, Robert de Lofthouse, Robert de Deighton, Robert at Tune End, Richard de Chappeman and Alexander Fes clearly knew Roger de Alwoodley well.  Each man was sworn in and then provided information on the extent of Roger’s wealth so that John de Thornton could assess the annual value of the lands and establish the rightful heir to the estate.

It transpired that Roger was indeed a wealthy man and in addition to his land in Alwoodley he also maintained one water mill for grinding corn. This gave him additional status in the community but he had had to pay the canons of Bolton Priory 5s a year for the privilege as it impinged on their monopoly of mills in the Parish of Harewood.18 John de Thornton established that Roger paid an annual rent of 18s 8d for the two carucates of land in Alwoodley and did ‘service at the court of Harewood, from three weeks to three weeks.’ He also paid around 46s 3d scutage or ‘shield money’ to the King, a form of tax that was used to provide a military force to support the crown. Roger held further property at Newall, including a land parcel jointly owned with his wife, Alicia.

The King decided that his estate should be subdivided between his four daughters, Joanna, Margaret, Alice and Anabel. Alicia, his wife, was still relatively young and Roger’s children were only aged eight, six, three and one respectively. It seems likely that either Joanna or Margaret died because when Anabel married William de Tunstall she held one third of her father’s property. She was still alive in 1333.19


17. J.Jones, The History and Antiquities of Harewood, (Leeds, 1859) p.209.
18. Ian Kershaw and David Smith, ed., Bolton Priory Compotus 1286 – 1325, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, CLΙV (Leeds, 2000) p.65 and p.540.
19. W.T.Lancaster, Notes on the Early History of Arthington, Thoresby Soc., ΙV (Leeds, 1895) p.157 f.n.

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