Latest News

30/01/2018 Court Meeting - Gloucester - 24th March 2018 read more »
13/12/2017 Coventry - City of Culture 2021 read more »
26/10/2017 Membership Application Forms read more »

The Magna Carta and The Freedom



The question has been asked, all this publicity concerning the Magna Carta, where do the Freemen come into it? It is a sad fact that the Freemen, as happens in many places and circumstances, have been sadly overlooked. Even the Magna Carta itself is probably regarded by many as a dusty relic having no possible significance today. And yet it was, and is, one of, if not the most destiny defining document of the free world setting the foundations of our modern day legal systems and democracy and provided for the rights and privileges of “the common man”.


Some towns, and by that bodies of freemen/burgesses, obtained their first Royal Charters before the Magna Carta was signed and it is interesting to note how provisions in the former have been incorporated into the latter, I have used the Charter granted to Grimsby in 1201 as an example.


Alan Shelley was asked to provide one of his Viewpoints, which immediately follows, and this is then followed by a full transcript of the Magna Carta and finally, for now, the Grimsby Charter and commentary on the signatories to that document.


Other members are welcome to contribute towards the discussion as to how the Magna Carta influenced the development of the Freedom on their places.


Stephen P. White

Vice President, June 2015





Magna Carta


The ‘Great’ Charter that founded our Freedom


With the recent celebrations to commemorate the 800 years since Magna Carta, I have been asked for its significance to the Freemen. It was the foundation in law that provides liberty to all free men.


800 years ago, Magna Carta provided the principle that a monarch could no longer do ‘as they liked’.  Certain liberties were guaranteed such as the liberties of the Church, of the national legal process and that the liberties previously granted by William I, were guaranteed to the City of London.

Royal and seigniorial charters throughout the nation eventually applied the London model of free governance. The initial pressures put upon King John by the barons at Runnymede were clearly self-seeking and the benefits of the charter could subsequently extend to all free men.

It is a mistake to assume that the issue of Magna Carta simply provided complete freedom to the nation, but it did put in motion the principle that free men should be judged by their peers. It has been a gradual application of our customs leading to the common law that eventually formed our wider and established ‘freedom’.

Magna Carta certainly heralded our modern democracy. The charter firstly protected the rights and freedoms of society and established that the king was subject to the law. The Charter originated merely as an agreement, a peace treaty between King John and a group of rebellious barons. It immediately altered forever the balance of power between the governed and the government. A few clauses of Magna Carta are still part of our law, including famously the provision that ‘no free man shall be taken or imprisoned except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land; and to no-one will we sell, to no-one will we deny or delay justice’.

The democratic developments in various towns and cities with regard their liberties and privileges are dealt with in a previous paper/s. They indicate how local government, based upon the London model, developed independently at varying rates throughout the nation.

View Point

The significance to Freemen of the action of the ‘Great Charter’ was fundamental in that it instigated and opened the way for townsmen to seek greater powers of self government. They sought to follow the example of the City of London. In cities and boroughs throughout the land, pressures were placed upon their owner lords to allow wider placed but independent freedoms. Each city or borough was then able to govern through their own system of taxation and regulation. This finally resulted, through the typical movements of English Common Law, eventually in the form of local government we know today.

These comments are merely an overview and the developments of each city or borough should be considered independently.

Alan Shelley, Officer Without Portfolio, June 2015


Full-text translation of the 1215 edition of Magna Carta

Clauses marked (+) are still valid under the charter of 1225, but with a few minor amendments. Clauses marked (*) were omitted in all later reissues of the charter. In the charter itself the clauses are not numbered, and the text reads continuously. The translation sets out to convey the sense rather than the precise wording of the original Latin.

JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter Bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan de Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin Fitz Gerald, Peter Fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew Fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John Fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

+ (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.

TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a 'relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of 'relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of 'fees'

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

* (10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.

* (11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.

* (12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied. 'Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.

+ (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.

* (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.

* (15) In future we will allow no one to levy an 'aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied.

(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's 'fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.

(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.

(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.

(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

* (25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and riding shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.

(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

* (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.

(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this service.

(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.

(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.

(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.

(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.

(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of the 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', unless the 'fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.

+ (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

* (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.

(43) If a man holds lands of any 'escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the 'escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.

(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

* (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.

(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.

(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

*(48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

* (49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.

* (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.

* (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.

* (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgement of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace. In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgement of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.

* (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's 'fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a 'fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's 'fee', in which the lord of the 'fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.

(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

* (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgement of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgement shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.

(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of lands, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgement of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgement of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

* (57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgement of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.

* (58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.

* (59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgement of his equals in our court.

(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

* (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:

The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.

If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.

If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.

In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.

The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.

We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

* (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.

In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

* (63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.

Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above-mentioned people and many others.

Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year began on 28 May).



A Town Charter for Grimsby

 sealed and Witnessed at a Royal Court at Nottingham

 in the second year of the reign of King John

  and in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Two hundred and One

 on the Eleventh day of March


Transcription & Translation of the

Royal Charter of King John Granted to Grimesby

Dated 11 March 2 John [1200/01]

Transcribed  March 2012 by: Transcription Services Ltd   email:


Carta de Grimesby  - Charter of Grimesby

John, (by) God’s grace, etc. Know ye us to have granted, & (by) our present Charter to have confirmed, (to) our Burgesses of Grimesby, that none of them should plead outside the township of Grimesby, with regard to any plea beyond the plea of outside tenure, excepting (to) our Bankers & Ministers; We have Granted likewise (to) them quittance of Murder within the Town & Portsoken, likewise, that none of them should make combat, likewise, that of the pleas to the crown pertaining, themselves   they should be able to deraign, according to the custom of the Burgesses of Norhampton; And that within that Town, no one should take hospitality by means of force, or through the discharge of the Marshals; This, moreover, (to) them we have granted, that all the Burgesses of Grimesby should be free from Toll & Port-toll though all England, likewise   the ports of the sea, excepting (at) the City of London; And that none regarding the amercement of money [/property] should be judged, unless according to the Laws which our burgesses of Norhampton* have held  (in) the time of King Henry, our father; and that in that town, in no plea should (there) be wrongful prosecution, & that hustings once only in a week should be held, likewise that their lands & wages & their debts, in all respects, justly they should have, whatsoever (to) them should be bound. And with regard to their lands & tenures which are within the town, the right (to) them should be held according to the custom of the town; And with regard to their debts, which lendings have been at Grimesby, & regarding the pledges there made (by) plea, at Grimesby they should be held; And if which, in all England, the toll or custom, by the persons of Grimesby should have taken, excepting as above (at) the City of London, after itself from right should have failed, the Reeve  of Grismesby [sic.] distraint thereupon should take at Grimesby; Moreover, likewise, for the improvement of that town, (to) them we have granted that they should be free from bridge-toll, & Guild-fine, & Year’s-gift, & from Feast-contribution; Thus, that the reeve of Grimesby, or any other bailiff, Feast-contribution should not enact. These  aforesaid customs (to) them we have granted, likewise all other liberties & free customs which our burgesses of Northampton have held, when better or freer they have held, (in) the time of the aforesaid King Henry, our father, According to the liberties of Norhampton, and also the laws of the town  of Norhampton. Wherefore we will & firmly order that (they) Themselves & their heirs, all these things aforesaid, (by) inheritance should have and also hold, of us & our heirs.

(By these) Witnesses:

John of Norwich, Bishop, William, Earl of Salisbury, Hugh Bard, Peter de Pratell,  Hug[one] de Neuill  Sym[one] de Pateshull  Will[iel]mo de Albin  Gur[ald/ard/ o(?)] de Fevunall(?)  Thom[a] de Samiford  Sy, Hugh de Nevill, Symon de Pateshull, William de Albin, Gerald/Gerard(?) de Fevunall(?), Thomas de Samiford, Symon[e] de Kib(?) Jollan[o] de Neuull Rad[ulfo] Bard  Dat[um] p[er] man[um] S[ymonis] Well[ensis] Archid[iaconi] Well[ensis] ap[ud] Notingammon de Kib(?), Jollan de Nevull, Ralf Bard. Given by the hand of Symon of Wells, Archdeacon of Wells, at Notingam, xi.o die Marchij Anno Regni n[ost]ri s[e]c[un]do.

(on) the 11th day of March (in) the Year of our Reign the second.


Development Notes subject to alteration and confirmation

1 - John of Norwich, Bishop

(John de Gray (died 18 October 1214) was a medieval English Bishop of Norwich, and the elected but unconfirmed Archbishop of Canterbury. He was employed in the service of John of England, even before John's coronation as king. For his services, de Gray was rewarded with a number of ecclesiastical offices, culminating in his pro forma election to Norwich in 1200. De Gray continued in royal service after his elevation to the episcopate, lending the king money as well as serving on diplomatic missions. In 1205 King John attempted to reward de Gray with a translation to the archbishopric of Canterbury, but a disputed election process led to de Gray's selection being quashed by Pope Innocent III in 1206).


2 - William, Earl of Salisbury

William Longespée, jure uxoris 3rd Earl of Salisbury (c. 1176 – 7 March 1226) was an English noble, primarily remembered for his command of the English forces at the Battle of Damme and for remaining loyal to King John. His nickname 'Longespée' is generally taken as a reference to his great size and the outsize weapons he used to He was an illegitimate son of Henry II of England. His mother was unknown for many years, until the discovery of a charter of William mentioning "Comitissa Ida, mater mea" (engl. "Countess Ida, my mother").[1][2]

This Ida de Tosny, a member of the prominent Tosny or Toesny family, later (1181) married Roger Bigod, 2nd Earl of Norfolk.[3] King Henry acknowledged William as his son and gave him the Honour of Appleby, Lincolnshire in 1188. Eight years later, his half-brother, King Richard I, married him to a great heiress, Ela of Salisbury, 3rd Countess of Salisbury in her own right, and daughter of William of Salisbury, 2nd Earl of Salisbury. During the reign of King John, Salisbury was at court on several important ceremonial occasions, and held various offices: sheriff of Wiltshire, lieutenant of Gascony, constable of Dover and warden of the Cinque Ports, and later warden of the Welsh Marches. He was then, circa 1213, appointed sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

3 - Hugh Bard

Hugh Bardulf or Hugh Bardolf (died c. 1203) was a medieval English administrator and royal justice. Known for his legal expertise, he also served as a financial administrator. He served three kings of England before his death. Bardulf began his royal service under King Henry II of England, where he was a steward to the royal household. He also served as a royal justice and a sheriff during Henry's reign, and continued as sheriff under Henry's son and successor, Richard I. Because Bardulf was a vassal of Richard's younger brother John, who rebelled against his older brother, Bardulf was denounced briefly as a traitor to Richard. He was quickly restored to royal service, however, and continued in service throughout the rest of Richard's reign and into the reign of John. Bardulf died sometime before 1203, and his heir was his brother, Robert Bardulf. Historians are divided on Hugh Bardulf's ancestry. Katharine Keats-Rohan says that he was the son of Hamelin Bardulf, a tenant of Hugh Bigod, who held land in Suffolk.[1] Ralph V. Turner, revising John Horace Round's entry in the Dictionary of National Biography for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says that Hugh was the son of a Hugh Bardulf that died around 1176. According to Turner and Round, the younger Hugh's mother was Isabel, who may have been a member of the Twist family from Lincolnshire.[2] The younger Hugh acquired land at Waddington, Lincolnshire as a tenant of Ranulf de Gernon, 4th Earl of Chester, sometime in the middle 1140's.[1] In 1181 Bardulf was at the court of King Henry II of England, where he was steward,[2] or dapifer, an office he held throughout Henry's reign and which he may have held throughout the next reign also.[3] He held that office until Henry's death in 1189. From about 1185 until 1203, Bardulf was a royal justice almost annually, usually as a justice of eyre rather than sitting at Westminster. He performed the duties of sheriff for the following counties: Cornwall from 1184–1187, Wiltshire from 1187 to 1189, Somerset during 1188 and 1189 along with Dorset during the same period, the counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Leicestershire during 1190 and 1191, Yorkshire from 1191 to 1194, Westmorland from 1191 to 1199, Northumberland from 1194 to 1198, Cumberland during 1198 and 1199, Cornwall again from 1199 to 1200 along with Devonshire, and Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire from 1200 to 1203.[2] In 1194 Bardulf was mentioned on the escheat roll as responsible for the farm of lands held by Osbert de Bayeux, an archdeacon of York.[4]

In 1189, Hugh was one of only five sitting sheriffs who retained their office when Richard took the throne; the others included Geoffrey fitzPeter, William Briwerre, and Ranulf de Glanvill.[5] However in 1189, Bardulf did lose custody of Salisbury Castle, which he had held under Henry.[6] Henry had given Bardulf the manor and barony of Brampton in Devonshire, but when Richard took the throne, the king took back Brampton, and gave Bardulf the manor of Hoo in Kent instead.[7] Although Bardulf set out with the new King, Richard I on the Third Crusade, he turned back after a period in Messina, and returned to England. There, he was part of the administration during the Justiciarship of Hugh de Puiset, the Bishop of Durham, and William Longchamp, the Bishop of Ely.[2] Longchamp gave him custody of Kenilworth Castle.[8] Bardulf then was involved in the attempts of Walter de Coutances to remove Longchamp from office, which led to Longchamp excommunicating Bardulf. In 1193, Bardulf helped with the defenses of Doncaster against the forces of Prince John, Richard's brother, who was rebelling against Richard while the king was on crusade. However, Bardulf refused to besiege Tickhill near Doncaster, because he was a vassal of John's, which led to him being denounced as a traitor.[2] Although he was required to surrender his shrievalty of Yorkshire, he was immediately appointed to other sheriff offices.[2] On 31 March 1194, Hugh was named an escheator for estates confiscated by Richard in the northern part of England in relation to John's rebellion.[9] While Richard was in captivity in Germany in 1193, Bardulf, along with William Marshall, Geoffrey fitzPeter and William Briwerre, was a recipient of letters from the captive king, urging the election of Hubert Walter as Archbishop of Canterbury.[10] Bardulf was also a financial administrator. He served as a Baron of the Exchequer during the reigns of Henry, Richard and John.[2] In 1196, he was the collector of taxation in seven shires, along with Philip of Poitou, the bishop-elect of Durham.[11] Around 1197, Hugh was named as responsible for the "bail and custody" of the Jewish population in England, along with William of Sainte-Mère-Eglise, the Bishop of London, who was his fellow escheator in the north.[3] The office in charge of the bail and custody of the Jews was probably a forerunner of the office of Keeper of the Jews.[12]

Bardulf continued to serve Richard until the king's death, and then served John, who became king, until sometime before Michaelmas 1203, when records show that Bardulf was known to be deceased.[2] Bardulf was known for his legal expertise, which led to him being one of the few justices mentioned by name in Glanvill, an early medieval English legal text, although whether by the original author or by a glossator, is unclear.[13][14] His long career as a justice helped create a sense of continuity in judicial matters through the reigns of the Angevin kings.[15]


4 - Peter de Pratell

John de Prattelles

John de Prattelles was a favorite minister of Richard Couer de Lion. In 1193, we find him associated with William, Bishop of Ely. He and his brother, Peter, were witnesses to a charter granted at Rodley in 1199, with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others. His name occurs frequently in the charter and documents of John's reign and this connects him with Rowen, near which the family possessed estates. For example; William de Pratellis' brother, Peter, was a distinguished Crusader. He was the hereditary standard bearer. He was in Joppa in 1192. In 1201, he married Mary, daughter of William de Vernon, Earl of Devon and the Isle of Wight. Her grandfather was Robert, Earl of Mallent. Peter died before 1212. His widow married Robert de Courtenay in 1212.

5     -  Hugh de Nevill


  1. Hugh de Neville, Sheriff of Essex, Hertfordshire, and Lincolnshire, b abt 1182, of Lincolnshire, England, d bef 21 Jul 1234. He md Joan de Cornhill bef 30 Apr 1200, daughter of Henry de Cornhill and Alice de Curcy.
  1. NEVILLE, HUGH de (d. 1222), baron, was brother of Adam de Neville, who was granted in marriage the supposititious child and heiress of Thomas de Saleby, was excommunicated by St. Hugh of Lincoln, and, according to the latter's biographer, died in consequence in 1200 (Vita S. Hugonis, pp. 173–6); but he was certainly alive in 1201 (Rot. Cancell. p. 175). Hugh was also cousin of Ralph de Neville [q. v.], bishop of Chichester (Shirley, Royal and Historical Letters, i. 68). He is said to have been the son of Ralph de Neville (fl. 1170) (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 288). Accordingly, he must be distinguished from Hugh, son of Ernisius de Neville, who in 1198 was guarding the bishop of Beauvais at Rouen when Queen Eleanor sought to effect his escape (Rog. Hov. iv. 401); from Hugh, son of Henry de Neville of Lincolnshire; and from Hugh de Neville (d. 1234), apparently a son of the subject of this article, who is noticed at its close.
  2. The number of Nevilles named Hugh and the absence of distinguishing marks between them render their biography largely a matter of conjecture. The family traced its descent from Gilbert de Neville, who is most doubtfully said to have commanded William the Conqueror's fleet (Battle Abbey Roll, ed. Duchess of Cleveland, ii. 342). The name was derived from the Norman fief of Neuville-sur-Touquer. Geoffrey de Neville (d. 1225) [q. v.] and Robert de Neville (d. 1282) [q. v.] were of the same family, and its members were numerous in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and the neighbouring counties.
  3. According to Matthew Paris, Hugh de Neville was brought up as an intimate of Richard I, whom in 1190 he accompanied on his crusade to Palestine. In 1192 he was present at the siege of Joppa, of which he furnished an account to Ralph of Coggeshall [q. v.] (Coggeshall, pp. 45, 103; Matthew Paris, iii. 71; Itinerarium Regis Ricardi, p. xxxviii). He made his way home in safety when Richard was imprisoned, and on the king's release accompanied him on his Normandy expedition in May 1194. In 1198 he was appointed chief justice of forests, and during his visitation his extortions were complained of by Roger of Hoveden (iv. 63); he acted again in this capacity in the follow- ing year, and was also employed by Richard in his negotiations with the Cistercians (Coggeshall, p. 103). Dugdale's statement that he died in 1199 or before is apparently based on a misinterpretation of the authority he quotes (cf. Hardy, Rotuli de Oblatis, p. 103). Early in John's reign he was directed to exercise his office as it had been exercised in the time of Henry II, and in 1203 he witnessed the agreement for Queen Isabella's dowry (Rymer). From this time his name constantly occurs in the ‘Close’ and ‘Patent Rolls’ as witness to grants, and as one of John's chief advisers. In 1208 he was appointed treasurer; he adhered to John in his struggles with the pope and with the barons, and is naturally described by Matthew Paris as one of the king's evil counsellors. In 1213 he was warden of the sea ports in the counties of Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, and Southampton (Madox, Exchequer, i. 650). In 1215 Neville, with his father-in-law, Henry de Cornhill, and his son John, adhered to the king to the last. He was present at Runnymede, and signed the Magna Charta (Stubbs, Const. Hist. i. 581); for his services to John he received from him numerous grants of land, including Comb-Nevil, Surrey, which had belonged to the Cornhill family (Manning and Bray, i. 399).
  4. On John's death, however, Neville joined the baronial party; he swore allegiance to Louis, and handed over to him the castle of Marlborough. For this defection he forfeited his offices, and in 1217 his lands in Lincolnshire were granted to William de Neville, probably a relative; before the end of the year, however, he made his peace, and some, if not all, of his lands were restored to him (cf. his letter to his cousin Ralph in Shirley, Royal and Hist. Letters, i. 68). It may have been he who was acting as justice in 1218, but more probably it was Hugh de Neville (d. 1234). Neville died in 1222 (Matthew Paris, Chronica Majora, iii. 71; John of Oxenedes, s.a.), and was buried in Waltham Abbey, which he had enriched by the grant of Horndon-on-the-Hill, Essex (Matthew Paris, iii. 71; Dugdale, Monasticon, ii. 187; Farmer, Waltham Abbey, pp. 66–8). He married, first, in 1195, Joanna, daughter and heiress of Henry de Cornhill of London; and secondly, Desiderata, daughter and heiress of Stephen de Camera. Among other lands which he received with his first wife was part of Oxted, Surrey, which passed with their daughter Joan to the Cobhams (Manning and Bray, Surrey, ii. 383). Neville's first wife has attained notoriety as having paid a fine into the exchequer, which has been frequently quoted as a curious instance of mediæval tyranny, and furnished Edmund Burke with an illustration (Burke, Thoughts on Present Discontents, ed. Payne, p. 9, and note; Hardy, Rot. de Oblatis, p. 275; Madox, Exchequer, i. 471; Archæologia, xxxix. 202). By her Neville appears to have had a son John, who confirmed his gift to Waltham Abbey. Henry, who predeceased his father in 1218, and Hugh de Neville (see below) were possibly other sons; and there was at least one daughter, Joan.
  5. Several of Neville's charters are preserved in the British Museum (MSS. Nos. 54 B; 8, 9, 13, 14, 16, 17, 33, 35), and to two is affixed his well-known seal bearing a representation of a man slaying a lion. Matthew Paris gives the story of Hugh's encounter with a lion in the Holy Land, which was the origin of the lion.

6 - Symon de Pateshull

PATESHULL or PATTISHALL, SIMON de (d. 1217?), judge, probably a native of Pattishall, Northamptonshire, where his family, and possibly he, held the manor under the prior of Dunstable, received charge of the castle of Northampton by the terms of the award between John and the chancellor William of Longchamp [q. v.] in 1191, and appears as one of the king's justices in 1193. In 1195 he was sheriff of Northamptonshire, Essex, and Hertfordshire, and continued sheriff of Northamptonshire until 1204. During the reign of John he seems to have been chief justice of the common pleas division of the king's court, commissions being issued to him by name, ‘with others his companions.’ Matthew Paris speaks of him as chief justiciar of the whole kingdom (Chronica Majora, iii. 296), but this seems a mistake. He was one of the justices for the Jews, and in 1199 received from the king two houses in Northampton which had belonged to Benedict the Jew. John also gave him the manor of Rothersthorpe, near Northampton, and certain wood land. He probably held the manor of Bletsoe in Bedfordshire, having perhaps acquired it by marriage.

7 - William de Albin

William d'Aubigny or D'Aubeney or d'Albini, Lord of Belvoir (died 1 May 1236) was a prominent member of the baronial rebellions against King John of England. Aubigny was the son of William d'Aubigny of Belvoir and grandson of William d'Aubigny (Brito), and was heir to Domesday Book landholder Robert de Todeni, who held many properties, possibly as many as eighty. Amongst them was one in Leicestershire, where he built Belvoir Castle, which was the family's home for many generations.[1] He was High Sheriff of Warwickshire and Leicester and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire in 1199. D'Aubigny stayed neutral at the beginning of the troubles of King John's reign, only joining the rebels after the early success in taking London in 1215. He was one of the twenty-five sureties or guarantors of the Magna Carta. In the war that followed the signing of the charter, he held Rochester Castle for the barons, and was imprisoned (and nearly hanged) after John captured it. He became a loyalist on the accession of Henry III, and was a commander at the Second Battle of Lincoln in 1217.[2] He died on 1 May 1236, at Offington, Leicestershire, and was buried at Newstead Abbey and "his heart under the wall, opposite the altar at Belvoir Castle".[1]

8 - Gerald/Gerard(?) de Fevunall(?)

9 - Thomas de Samiford,  - ? Thomas de Sandford

1066 – William of Normandy conquers Britain; William’s wife Queen Matilda gives the manor of Sandford to the Bishop of Exeter. Manor located in Devon county, in southwest England.  Some time after 1086 a family member is given the manor of Sandford, and the name de Sandford is originated. First known reference to a de Sandford is Thomas de Sandford, Magistrate to King John, signer of the Magna Carta.


10 - Jollan de Nevull, - Jollan De NEVILLE

Born: ABT 1140, Rolleston, Nottinghamshire, England

Died: 1208/9, Rolleston, Nottinghamshire, England

Notes: Present at King Richard's Coronation. 1198-99, Royal Justice, position taken by son Jollan. 1175 Charter where constable of Richmond granted land along with marriage of daughter witnessed by Geoffrey Neville of Burreth, William and Walter de Neville.

11 - Ralf Bard. ???

  12 - Symon de Kib(?), Simon de Camera


Given by the hand of Symon of Wells, Archdeacon of Wells, at Notingam, (Simon of Wells (or Simon Sutwell[1] or Simon de Wells or Simon FitzRobert or Simon de Camera; died 1207) was a medieval Bishop of Chichester. Simon was the son of Robert and was in the household of Hubert Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1194.[2] His father was usually known as Robert of Whatley and held land in Somerset. Some sources state that he was related to the brothers Hugh of Wells bishop of Lincoln and Jocelin of Wells bishop of Bath and Wells, but this is unlikely.[3] By 1198 he was Archdeacon of Wells.[2] He was also provost of Beverley and a prebend of London and Salisbury.[4] He was in Normandy with King John of England in both 1199 and 1203, when the king was campaigning against King Philip Augustus of France.

By 1201 he was serving the king as a clerk of the chamber, or camera, which led to one of his names.[)