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Western Medieval Manuscripts : Rental roll from the Augustinian Priory of Holy Trinity, Ipswich

Western Medieval Manuscripts

<p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Introduction</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Attributed to the Augustinian Priory of Holy Trinity, Ipswich, and dated to around the second half of the thirteenth century, this roll provides a record of the priory's rental income from property it owned in the town of Ipswich and parishes or manors in the surrounding countryside.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It may have been created as a routine part of the priory's record-keeping. However, much care was taken over its creation: notably, the use of a formal, littera textualis script, unusual in a document of this nature. There is a notable lack of evidence of further use: a few annotations in plummet - mostly sums of money, perhaps adjustments to rents - against entries in Helmingham, with a few erasures and supplementary entries in pen scattered throughout the document. This suggests that the roll was created with a specific purpose in mind that, once answered, no longer required the document to be repeatedly amended or consulted. Several papal edicts were issued in the second half of the thirteenth century, granting the English Crown a tenth of ecclesiastical revenues for a set number of years, for the purpose of going on crusade to the Holy Land. These were usually accompanied by instructions for a fresh valuation of the incomes of churches and religious houses. One such edict, perhaps the grant of Gregory X at the Council of Lyons in 1274 (from which the Augustinians were not exempted), may have prompted Holy Trinity to gather information about the rents it received from its temporal land holdings, and thus resulted in the creation of the present roll. Further prosopographical study might be a fruitful line of enquiry for more precise dating of the roll: specifically, the comparison of names listed with those in other documents of this period such as the 1282 Lay Subsidy, another rental compiled perhaps early in the reign of Edward I (now Ipswich, Suffolk Record Office, HD1/9/1/4/1). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The roll comprises seven and a half parchment membranes; the first, blank membrane formed a protective outer wrapper. On the remaining membranes are written the names of tenants occupying property, first in Ipswich and then in the surrounding countryside, belonging to the priory of Holy Trinity. In four columns to the right, the roll details the rents due to the Priory at one or more of the quarter days, which coincided with four feasts throughout the religious calendar: Michaelmas (29th September), St Andrew (30th November), Easter (moveable) and John the Baptist (24th June). The rents are mostly recorded in pence ('d'), halfpence ('ob') or farthings ('q<sup>a</sup>'). Within Ipswich, there are listed the parishes of St Margaret, St Mary-le-Tower, St Mary-at-the-Elms, St Clement, St Lawrence and St Mary-at-the-Quay. Countryside villages begin on the fifth membrane, and include (among others): Claydon, Westerfield, Rushmere, Tuddenham and Culpho to the north; Clopton, Monewden, Grundisburgh and Helmingham further to the north; Kirton in Colness, Shotley, Erwarton, Chelmondiston and Stutton to the east and south; and Sproughton, Chattisham, Bramford and Nettlestead to the west. Among the locations listed are settlements that have been absorbed into the suburbs of Ipswich (such as Thurleston, Bixley and Cauldwell) and others that were abandoned later in the medieval period (such as Nekemere, remains of which were discovered near Playford in the 1970s).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>In total, the roll contains some 340 or so entries, plus a handful of contemporary or near-contemporary additions by various hands. Most of these entries are the names of individuals. Some indicate that tenancies passed down through families: within Rushmere, there is listed 'Thomas le Iur et heredes sui' and 'Heredes Heruei sperling'. Shared tenancies occured too: multiple names are given (as with 'Simon Brid . Mattheus Brid' or 'Iohannes et Rogerus Ketel' in Cauldwell), or simply unnamed partners (as with 'Ricardus Ioie de Nekemere et particeps eius'). Some individuals held multiple tenancies and are listed more than once. William Sprot is named three times within Cauldwell: his name is the first in the list, then recurs twice further down, the third entry being merely 'Idem W' ('the same W[illiam]'). Notes to the right of the second and third entries distinguished the payments from one another by specifying the lands concerned. In some cases, similar details are added elsewhere: for example, John de Livretot was paying for the lands of Peter of Bramford, with woods, and was making a separate payment of twenty-five or twenty-six pence four times a year for the mill of Shirbelund (i.e. a water mill on the River Gipping, near to where Shrubland Hall now stands).</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Besides its purely functional purpose as a record of the priory's rental income, the roll provides valuable insights into the texture of the economic life of the area and the origins, professions and status of a substantial number of its inhabitants. Many of the tenants' surnames indicate the trades or crafts that they practised; these are most heavily concentrated within the town of Ipswich. In the parish of St Margaret, one finds 'Willelmus Carpentarius' (= carpenter), 'Adam tinctor' (= dyer), 'Rogerus cocus' (= cook), 'Willelmus plumbarius' (= lead-worker), 'Elias le Cupere' (= cooper / barrel-maker), 'Stephanus piscator' (= fisherman). In the parish of St Mary-le-Tower, there is listed 'Rogerus cellarius' (= cellar-keeper), 'laurencius ypotecarius' (= apothecary) and 'Willelmus seruus Decani' (= the Dean's servant). 'Laurencius Molendarius' (= miller) and 'Philippus le luminur' (= gilder or illuminator) are recorded in the parish of St Mary-at-the-Elms, while 'Willelmus Cyrotecarius' (= glover) and 'vxor Roberti Citharedis' (= wife of Robert the lyre-player). Female names feature frequently as independent tenants: 'Alicia Smewine et Matilda soror eius' (= her sister), 'Matilda Cheling', 'Iuliana Horold', 'Emma Bonhomme', and 'Cristina Spendelue', among others. Some women were apparently possessed of sufficient social presence that their status as 'mistress' was recorded: 'Domina oliua de frenei' in Rushmere, and 'Domina Matilda Virdun' in Tuddenham and Culpho. Others were clearly craftswomen in their own right: 'Claricia Caretaria' (= carter or cartwright) in the parish of St Mary-le-Tower, or 'Moriella textrix' (= weaver) in the village of Helmingham. Some unusual names are also worthy of note: 'Claudianus de Langh', 'Robertus Gnatte', 'Gilbertus Haredscho', 'Gilbertus le Gamemgrom' and 'Constantinus Scheit'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Toponymic surnames also indicate the places of origin of residents of Ipswich and its nearby villages. Names that refer to other local settlements include: 'Agnes de Bromeswelle' (= Bromeswell), 'Mabilia de Belinges' (= Bealings). Other individuals came from further afield within Suffolk: 'Iohannes de Wachesham' (= Wattisham), 'Simon de Debenham', 'Robertus de Orford', and 'Rogerus de Berkingke' (= Barking). A few came from further away still: 'Iohannes de Bochingh' (= Bocking, Essex), 'Willelmus de Crokestun' (= perhaps Croxton, Cambridgeshire, or Croxton, near Thetford), and 'Radulphus de soham' (= perhaps Soham, Cambridgeshire, or Earl / Monk Soham, Suffolk), 'Marg[aret] de londres' and 'Malina de lundres' (= London), and perhaps even Wales ('Iordanus le Waleis').</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><b>Transcription and digitisation</b></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Last noticed in 1847, when its contents were transcribed and printed for private distribution, the Holy Trinity rental roll was purchased at auction by Cambridge University Library on 6 July 2017. Since W.P. Hunt's transcription left many abbreviations unexpanded, and contains various errors of reading, a fresh transcription will be shortly be published on the Digital Library. In order to enable readers to gain the fullest sense of its contents - in particular the locations cited in the record or in toponymic surnames, and the professional status of many of the tenants - this transcription will also be accompanied by a complete translation. The copy of Hunt's transcription held at the British Library has been digitised and is now <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>available online</a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Since arriving at the University Library, the roll has been fully digitised. During this process, it was observed that a hitherto unrecorded portion of text at the end of the penultimate membrane was obscured by the stitching used to attach the final membrane. The text is impossible to photograph directly; the stitching, being original to the document, would not be removed. In order to capture the text, the roll was placed on top of a light box mounted with a studio flash light. Six images were taken with light shining through the parchment while mild pressure was applied successively around each part of the text, in order to make the image as sharp as possible. The roll was then turned over and the process repeated. The resulting images were then combined with a technique known as 'focus stacking', producing thereby a clear image of the text for both the recto and the verso. The final image of the text as seen through the back of the document was then reversed so that the text would be easily readable. Thanks to the skill of Amélie Deblauwe, Senior Digitisation Technician, this text has now been fully recovered: the results are reproduced here as 'obscured(r)' and 'obscured(v)'. A video showing both stages in the digitisation process is available here:</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> <iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe> </p><p style='text-align: justify;'>On each of the preceding membranes, space was left at the end to accommodate the stitching required to attach the next sheet of parchment. On the penultimate membrane, however, the compiler of the entries appears not to have anticipated the addition of a further sheet, and wrote entries up to the very end. The final membrane may have been an after-thought: it is a half-sheet, containing entries not for a parish but for the manor of Casenel, which was situated to the east of Ipswich near present-day Foxhall and Brightwell (and therefore somewhat out of order in the geographical sequence of entries on the rest of the roll). Perhaps some of the membranes remained physically separate while entries were compiled, or were circulated independently thereafter before being stitched together. In any case, the photography of the overlapping sheets confirms that the text, though hidden, was not in fact lost. The entry - 'Pro terra Hugonis Mowe in willa de Sproutune heredes Thome de Porta' - was re-written, apparently by the same hand, in a gap between entries for the parishes of Stutton and Chattisham, just above the stitching. This suggests that the addition of the final half-membrane, though unplanned, was likely to have been near-contemporary with the copying of the roll.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dr James Freeman<br /> Medieval Manuscripts Specialist<br /> Cambridge University Library</p>

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