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to the Cistercian Abbey of Lockswell or Drownfont near Lacock, recited at length in Bowles's History of Bremhill. A singular memorial of one of her benefactions [though it is uncertain whether this was made at Devizes] turned up at the time of Henry VIII.'s Reformation, when the convents, and among others that of of Monkton Farley were visited by order of Thomas Lord Cromwell. Richard Layton the inspector of Farley writing to his superior in 1537, sends up by the bearer a bag full of reliques, “in which " says he “ye shall see strange things. Amongst them, Mary Magdalene's girdle, wrapped and covered with white” (sent with great reverence from house to house upon certain interesting occasions) “which girdle Matilda the Empress one of the founders of Farley gave unto them, as saith the holy father of Farley.” This Priory had been founded by the Bohun family about the year 1125. The third Humphrey de Bohun, whose defence of Trowbridge has already been related, now received marks of his Royal Mistress's favour in the form of additional endowments to his pet colony at Farley. She gave Monkton manor near Chippenham (now Mr. Esmeade’s) with its tythes, advowsons, and chapelries, also an estate at Marston near Highworth, and another at Foxhanger near Devizes. The Bohun line eventually merged into two daughters, one of whom married Henry of Bolingbroke afterwards King Henry IV. (From Canon Jackson's History of Monkton Farley Priory. Wilts Magazine, No. XII.)
Her charter to the Borough of Devizes, the year of which is not given, appears to have been executed at Reading, and the only witness is the Bishop of Ely, the same warlike prelate, we may suppose, who had held out the castle against King Stephen, see page 34. This instrument is so brief that a translation of it may here be given entire.
Matilda’s CHARTER TO THE Town. “The Empress Matilda, daughter of King Henry, and Lady of the English, to her Justices, Earls, and all other her Ministers, throughout England and the sea-ports. Health:-I grant to my Burgesses of Devizes that for their allegiance they shall be quit of land-toll, ferry-toll, fair-toll, and all other customs throughout my realm and the sea-ports; and I will and ordain that they and their servants and their goods shall enjoy my firm peace. And moreover, none shall unjustly disturb them—On forfeiture of £10. Dated at Reading and witnessed by the Bishop of Ely.”
The mention of this Prelate's name will remind the reader that there was still a powerful claimant for the holding of the castle and appendages, in the person of their ex-officio owner the Bishop of Salisbury. Long and unremitting were the applications made by the Church-party to recover so valuable a member of the Cathedral establishment; but ecclesiastical censure even when culminating to a threat of excommunication failed to shake the Empress's steady purpose. She was willing to relinquish some of its distant appurtenances, but the Castle and Borough she determined should still remain in the Crown; and so they did. A variety of original documents relating to this controversy are still preserved at Salisbury. The first, executed about 1148, is a formal Declaration made by the Empress to her son Henry that she has consented to restore the Cannings and Potterns [terras Caningas et Poternas] and conjuring her son to ratify the same. The next is a charter addressed to the Church of Salisbury by Hugh Archbishop of Rouen, the witness of the first, simply announcing the fact; Dated like that, at Falaise, in June 1148. In the following year Prince Henry who had been absent from England two years, returned with a body of troops, with a view to concert measures with the King of Scotland. On his way into the North, he sojourned awhile at Devizes, and while here signed a ratification of the above act of his Mother, by a more elaborate deed of restitution dated in the Ides of April 1149. “HENRY, son of the Duke of Normandy and Earl of Anjou: To the Archbishops, Bishops, and others, Greeting. Know that I have restored to the Church of Sarum and to Jocelin her Bishop his manor of Cannings with the hundred thereof, with its liberties, customs, and appurtenances in land, water, wood and plain, as freely and quietly as ever his predecessors Osmund and Roger held it in the days of my grandfather Henry and his predecessors: Excepting the castle of the Devizes situate in the said manor, and the Borough and park; excepting also the services of the knights holding of the said manor, which by the good suffrance of the Bishop I hold till I shall be so magnified as to be able to give them back: excepting also five hides of the said manor occupied by Robert Fitz-Ralph, and two hides held by Gregory at Rindeveram, and half a hide which Barleben the porter holds; which three men albeit hold under the suffrance of the Bishop for a year after next Michaelmas, and then their lease falls to him. This charter was written and restitution made at the Castle of the Devizes in the Ides of April 1149 in the presence of Roger Earl of Bedford, Patrick Earl of Sarum, John FitzGilbert, Goro Dinant, William de Bello-campo, Elias Giffard, Roger de Berkeley, John de St. John, Herbert de Vallibus, Thomas Bassett, Henry Hoescat, Humphrey Fitz-Otho, Menasser Byset, Hugh Fitz-Richard and Ralph Fitz-Richard, clerks; Robert Dean of Sarum, Gregory the Cupbearer, Hervey Archdeacon of Sarum, Willibert de Bello Fago, and Robert de St. Pantio.”
Notwithstanding Henry's professed willingness to restore the castle as soon as he should find himself in the seat of power, we can hardly suppose he seriously meditated such a step; especially now that the right of Bishops to such a species of property was become an open question. Their party nevertheless still retained sufficient power to impose sundry conditions on the Prince's tenancy thereof, till the affairs of the nation should be composed and the succession to the throne duly established. The document setting this
forth is imperfect, but its general tenor is, that if the Prince shall within a certain period recover his rights, the castle shall be his, with the advice of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Bishop of Winchester, Richard Bishop of Bath, and William Bishop of Chester. In the interim, the Prince shall pay in behalf of the Borough the same revenue which it formerly paid to Bishop Roger, besides giving to the Church ten libratas of land, and if he succeed in retaining the castle, then other ten libratas. [librata—100 acres?] This parchment is dated in the Ides of April 1152, the year preceding that in which the great convention was signed for the peace of the nation. To this we must briefly recur.
During the year 1152 Prince Henry, after another long tarry in Normandy once more landed in England at the head of an auxiliary force. His first exploit was the capture of Malmesbury, but this was followed by an ignominious repulse before Cricklade and Bourton. Finding himself unequal to the task of displacing a rival whose personal prowess and frankness of manners secured alliance and disarmed animosity, he was not slow to enter into a compact which stipulated to give him undisturbed possession of the Crown at Stephen's death, an event which occurred within a year after the Treaty. But the various articles of this Peace took some months in adjusting. Such a protracted state of discord, lasting 15 years, had unsettled everything. The final sealing in November 1153 took place, according to Gervase of Canterbury, at Winchester; but the preliminaries appear to have been arranged partly at Oxford and partly at Devizes. Some of the subordinate belligerents were themselves almost sovereigns, as for instance William de Romara Earl of Lincoln (who had taken Stephen prisoner at the battle of Lincoln) and his brother Ralph Earl of Chester. The two charters restoring these powerful barons to their domains and titles "may be regarded” says their biographer, “as part of the Great Treaty for the pacification of the kingdom concluded at Devizes.” [See Nicholl's Topographer.]
After this, it was not to be expected that so valuable a fief as the lordship of Devizes would ever be handed over to its episcopal claimants. The fifth and final instrument on this subject, executed in 1157 three years after Henry's accession to the throne, settled the matter by irrevocably detaching the Castle, Borough, and Parks from the manor of Bishops Cannings.
“THOMAS, Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of England and Legate of the Apostolic see, to all, greeting. Know that in the presence of our venerable brothers Richard Archbishop of York, Richard Bishop of Lincoln and Henry Bishop of Chester, for the adjustment of the quit-claim of our lord the King in the matter of the Castle of Devizes with the two parks and the Borough, as the same are now set out and enclosed by dykes, the King hath covenanted to deliver to Jocelin Bishop of Sarum in exchange thirty libratas of royal demesne lands free of incumbrance. And the King accords to the Bishop full power to recall all the distracted and dissipated portions of his bishoprick, in order that the See may be placed on the same footing which it held in the days of Bishop Osmund and in the day when King Henry was alive and dead. Moreover the King restores the churches of Westbury, Figheldean, Odiham, and Godalming, and the prebends of Bedminster and Ramsbury. Sealed in the year 1157 on the morrow after the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist.” [Communicated by Henry Hatcher, Esq.]
HENRY II. The castle and lordship of Devizes being now unequivocably vested in the Crown, soon became one of the most important grants in the monarch's bestowal, and seems generally to have fallen to the lot of some especial court-favourite. Its dignity was enchanced by its ranking among the Royal Castles and
1 The Royal castles were those of Northampton, Corfe, Scarborough, Dover and the other Cinque-ports, Bamborough, Newcastle-on-Tyne,