Somerset Historical Essays/Appendix D

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Jocelin of Wells and members of his family

It will be of service to put together here some facts relating to Jocelin of Wells and members of his family which have not received proper attention. His father was Edward of Wells; his brother, Hugh of Wells, afterwards bishop of Lincoln; and his son (apparently), Nicholas of Wells: there was also a younger Hugh of Wells, who became archdeacon of Bath.

1. Jocelin of Wells is frequently called by modern writers Jocelin Trotman. The only evidence for such a designation appears to come from the Margam Annals,[1] and it is absurd to speak of him to-day otherwise than by his usual name Jocelin of Wells. Yet the Margam annalist, however he may have come by his information, seems to be confirmed by a single Wells charter which has hitherto been misread, but which has among its witnesses the name of Edward Trotem[an].[2]

If we regard 'Troteman' as a corrupted form of Tortesmains, we shall find that the name occurs at a good many places in Somerset. The Exeter Domesday shows us that Ralf Tortesmains held 5½ hides of the bishop in Banwell: one hide and one virgate of the abbot of Glastonbury at Winscombe, as well as two hides at Pilton and 6½ hides at Alhampton in Ditcheat.[3] Helias Tortemanus occurs in the Pipe Roll of 1156-7 in connexion with land of the bishop of Bath. Henry Tortamanus gave his chapel at Wrington to the canons of Bruton in the time of Bishop Reginald: and John Tortusman[us], with consent of Claricia his mother and Claricia his wife gave them land at Alhampton, Henry Tortusmanus being one of the witnesses.[4] Robert Tortesmains and Matilda his wife occur in 1196 and 1201 in connexion with lands in Alurington.[5] But the most interesting notice is found in Abbot Henry de Sully's Inquisition of Glastonbury, taken in 1189, where Henry Tortesmains does homage for the two hides still held at Pilton:[6] for in the last will of Hugh of Wells[7] we find a legacy to his poor relations at Pilton; and Hugh was as much a ' Troteman ' as was Jocelin his brother.

2. Jocelin of Wells must not be identified, as he commonly has been, with 'Jocelin the chaplain' who attests many of Bishop Reginald's charters. The Wells City charter, in which Bishop Reginald confirms the charter of his predecessor, has the signatures of both (Jocel' capellano … Jocel' de Wellis)[8]: so also has Bishop Reginald's charter for the Hospital of St John at Bath.[9]

3. There is no clear evidence that Jocelin was a canon in Bishop Reginald's time: but under Bishop Savary he attests as canon of Wells more than once.[10] At the time of his election the canons of Wells speak of him as 'Master Jocelin, canon of their church and deacon, a man who has grown up in the bosom of their church from infancy (a prima lacte)':[11] and the monks of Bath describe him as 'Master Jocelin, clerk of their church and canon of Wells'.[12] Jocelin as bishop speaks of 'the church of St Andrew in whose bosom he was born', &c.[13]

4. Besides the two charters already referred to,[14] Edward of Wells attests a charter of Walter de Dunheved. Here 'Hugh son of Edward' and 'Gocelin his brother' attest among the clergy, and late in the list comes Edward of Wells.[15] Wells charter 10 [1186–8] is a confirmation by Bishop Reginald of land purchased in Wells by Edward of Wells; and Wells charter 9 [1187–90] is a similar confirmation of half a virgate of land at Lancherley, a few miles out of Wells, by Edward of Wells and Hugh his heir. This is all that we know for certain of the father of Hugh and Jocelin: but it seems reasonable to suppose that he is the same Edward of Wells who attests a grant made by Abbot Laurence of Westminster to Richard archdeacon of Poitiers; for this Richard of Ilchester, afterwards bishop of Winchester, was a great man in Somerset, and the grant is also attested by William of St Faith, afterwards precentor of Wells.[16]

5. Hugh's attachment to Wells and to his brother Jocelin is shown by his large gifts after he had become bishop of Lincoln. K. John had given to him, when he was archdeacon of Wells and in the royal chancery, the manors of Cheddar and Axbridge, with the hundreds of Winterstoke and Cheddar.[17] These hundreds are found in Bishop Burnell's time belonging to the churches of Bath and Wells, and in the hand of the bishop.[18] The manor of Cheddar and the advowson of Axbridge Hugh gave to his brother; also lands at Rugeberg (Rowberrow), Draycot, and Norton.[19]

6. There is an interesting charter by which Hugh of Wells, with assent of Bishop Jocelin, grants to the church of St Andrew of Wells and the said Bishop Jocelin a site with houses (or a house) in Wells, between that late of Odo and that of Nicholas of Wells, to dispose thereof as of the sites and houses of the canons. This is attested by Hugh bishop of Lincoln, and among others by Master William of Wells. The charter must be dated between 1215 and 1220.[20]

This Hugh of Wells is described as 'clericus H. archidiaconi Wellensis' in the Patent Rolls, 15 March 1208. In 1222 he attests a charter as canon of Lincoln, being then also archdeacon of Bath;[21] and in 1225 he was present as one of the canons of Salisbury, and again described as archdeacon of Bath, at the first service held in the new church of Salisbury on Michaelmas Day, 1225.[22]

What relation this Hugh was to the two episcopal brothers does not appear, but there is reason to think that Nicholas of Wells, whose house adjoined that which Hugh gave with Bishop Jocelin's consent to be a canonical house, was Bishop Jocelin's son, born no doubt before his father became a bishop. For we have the charter[23] by which Nicholas had already given his own house at Wells 'ante magnam portam canonicorum'[24] to be permanently a canonical house; and in it he addresses the bishop as 'venerabili patri meo J. dei gracia Bathonie episcopo'. The absence of 'domino' in this address is possibly significant. The bishop, in assigning the house to the purpose intended, begins: 'Cum dilectus Alius Nicholaus de Welles …'. This seems to point to a natural and not merely a spiritual kinship; but we cannot draw the conclusion with certainty. As the bishop's charter is attested by Hugh archdeacon of Wells, it must be dated between 1205 and 1209. Nicholas, like his kinsman, found his way into the royal chancery: for in the Close Rolls we find a writ issued at Lambeth on 8 May 1208 'per Nicholaum de Welles'.

  1. Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.), i. 28.
  2. Wells charter 12: 'Eddwardus Trotem'.
  3. Cf. Victoria County History, Somerset, i, 457, 461, 464, 466.
  4. Br. 134, 274.
  5. Somerset Fines, pp. 1, 14; Somerset Pleas, p. 8 (Som. Rec. Soc., vols, vi and xi).
  6. P. 4: 'Henricus Tortesmains fecit homagium et fidelitatem. Idem tenet Alentonam (Alhampton) pro septem hidis. Apud Pilton ii hidas et apud Sanford dimidiam hidam per servicium unius militis.'
  7. Printed in Appendix to Giraldus Cambrensis (Rolls Ser., vii. 226): 'Item lego pauperibus parentibus meis apud Welles et circa Pilton …'
  8. Printed by Church, pp. 359 ff.
  9. Star Chamber Cases (Som. Rec. Soc), p. 152.
  10. R. i. 112; Ad. de Dom. i. 295 ff.
  11. R. i. 55.
  12. R. i. 54.
  13. R. i. 58 (3 June 1209).
  14. Wells ch. 12 and the City charter.
  15. Wells ch. 13.
  16. Westminster 'Domesday', f. 392.
  17. R. iii. 390 ff.
  18. R. iii. 3.
  19. R. i. 108 ff., iii. 343, 339 b, 350.
  20. R. iii. 385 b.
  21. Sarum Charters (Rolls Ser.), p. 122.
  22. Reg. Osm. ii, 37.
  23. R. i. 19.
  24. 'The great gate of the canons' is commonly understood to mean the beautiful north porch of the church: but this would have been described as 'ostium septentrionale'. It must mean a gate of the close: the house probably stood outside it, and the bishop grants that it shall be included in the 'Liberty'.