Page:A History of Horncastle from the Earliest Period to the Present Time.djvu/37

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18
HISTORY OF HORNCASTLE.

but in this reign Walter Mauclerk, the third Bishop of Carlisle, purchased the manor from Ralph de Rhodes. He was himself a powerful Norman and held the office of Treasurer of the Exchequer (a common combination of civil and ecclesiastical duties in those days), but now he and his successors were bound " to do suit and service to Ralph and his heirs." This purchase is proved by a Lincoln document called a " Plea Quo Warranto," which records a case argued before the Justices Itinerant, in the reign of Edward I., when it was stated that Ralph de Rhodes "enfeoffed Walter Mauclerk to hold the church, manor and appurtenances in Horncastre, to him and his heirs, of the gift of the said Ralph."[1] That the Bishop, although an ecclesiastic, was bound to do service to the heirs of Ralph is shown by another document,[2] in which John, son of Gerard de Rhodes, a descendant of Ralph, makes a grant to certain parties of "the homage and whole service of the Bishop of Carlisle, and his successors, for the manor (&c.) of Horncastle, which Gerard, son of Gerard my brother, granted to me." This is dated the 13th year of Edward I., 1285, whereas the actual sale of the manor took place in the reign of Henry III., A.D. 1230, and was confirmed by the king in the same year.[3]

We have called this another stage in the tenure of this manor and for this reason, an ecclesiastic of high rank, with the authority of the Pope of Rome at his back, was a more powerful subject than any lay baron, and this influence soon shewed itself, for while the lay lords of the manor had been content with doing their service to the king, and exacting service from those holding under them, the Bishop of Carlisle, in the first year of his tenure, obtained from the king three charters, conferring on the town of Horncastle immunities and privileges, which had the effect of raising the town from the status of little more than a village to that of the general mart of the surrounding country. The first of these charters gave the bishop, as lord of the manor, the right of free warren throughout the soke[4] ; the second gave him licence to hold an annual fair two days before the feast of St. Barnabas (June 11), to continue eight days ; the third empowered him to hang felons. An additional charter was granted in the following year empowering the bishop to hold a weekly market on Wednesday (die Mercurii), which was afterwards changed to Saturday, on which day it is still held ; also to hold another fair on the eve of the Feast of St. Laurence (Aug. 10th), to continue seven days.[5]

We here quote a few words of the original Carlisle charter, as shewing the style of such documents in those days : " Henry to all Bishops, Bailiffs,

Provosts, servants, &c., health. Know that we, by the guidance of God, and


  1. Quo Warranto Roll, 9 Ed. I., 15 June, 128 1, quoted Lincolnshire Notes & Queries, vol. v, p. 216.
  2. Coram Rege Roll, 13 Ed. I., m. 10, 12 May, 1285. Lincs. Notes & Queries pp. 219-20.
  3. The transfer of the manor to the bishop is further proved by a Carlisle document, a chancery inquisition post mortem, dated Dec. 11, 1395, which states that a certain John Amery, owner of a messuage in the parish ' by fealty and the service of i6d. of rent, by the year, holds of the Bishop of Carlisle, and the said Bishop holds of the King."
  4. The bishops of those days were sportsmen. It is recorded of a Bishop of Ely that he rode to the Cathedral " with hawk on wrist," and left it in the cloister while doing " God's service." There it was stolen and he solemnly excommunicated the thief. Aukenleck MS., temp. Ed. II., British Museum. The extensive woods in the soke of Horncastle abounded in game, as we have already shown by the tolls charged on roebuck, hares, &c., brought into the town. The punishment for killing a wild boar, without the king's licence, was the loss of both eyes. These feroe nature became extinct about A.D. 1620.
  5. These and other privileges granted to the Bishop are first specified in a Cartulary Roll, 14-15 Henry III. ; they are renewed in a Memoranda Roll of 4 Ed. III. ; again in the 25th year of Henry VI., and further in a Roll attested by Charles II., in his court at Westminster, Feb. 26, 1676. The August Fair was, in late ^ears, altered by the Urban Council to begin on the 2nd Monday in the month, and to end on the following Thursday, it really however begins on the previous Thursday.