The History of the Church and Manor of Wigan/John Maunsell

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How long Robert de Dunolm held the benefice I know not, but the next parson I meet with is the famous

John Maunsell or Mansel, to whom the town of Wigan is indebted for its first charter of freedom. This remarkable man was distinguished rather as a soldier, diplomatist, financier, and statesman than as an ecclesiastic; and but little of his time could have been passed at Wigan. He is said to have been the descendant of Philip Maunsell, who accompanied the Conqueror to England, and he was probably one of that family, but in certain pleadings in quo waranto, taken in 1279, some years after his death, with respect to lands which he had held at Wappeham in Sussex, it was contended that he was an illegitimate son.[1] It is probable that he was the son of a priest, for his sister Clarissa, the wife of Sir Geoffrey de Childerwick, is described by a contemporary chronicler as the daughter of a country priest, and this would account for the imputation of illegitimacy, though the question of the legitimacy of the sons of the clergy in England, and their right to inherit property, had not then been fully determined.

From an inquisition taken after his death concerning certain houses in London,[2] which were claimed by his cousin Amabilla de Rypun, the jury seem to have considered the point a doubtful one, but in the case of the estate at Wappeham the question which arose was not so much as to his legitimacy as to whether he had died seized of it or given it away before his death to the Prior and Convent of Tortynton. It was contended on the part of the Crown that John Maunsell had died seized of it, and that he was a bastard, wherefore the land should revert to the Crown because he had no legitimate heir. The jury gave no decision as to his bastardy, but found a verdict in favour of the Prior and Convent on the ground that the gift had been made to them by Maunsell during his lifetime, so that he was not seized of it at the time of his death.

He seems to have been brought up under the auspices of King Henry III., who made him one of his chaplains and loaded him him with preferment. In fact he seems to have accepted everything that came in his way or that fell to the King's disposal at that time. He is said to have held no less than three hundred benefices, producing an income of 4,000 marks yearly (i.e., £2,666 13s. 4d.)—an enormous sum in those days—and some have placed it at a much higher figure, so that he has been handed down to posterity as the greatest pluralist that ever lived, and "the richest clerk in the world."

In 1234 he was appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer, being the first to hold that office, then newly created. The appointment was by close writ, in this manner: the King, by his writ directed to Hugh de Pateshull, treasurer, sent John Maunsell to reside at the Exchequer of Receipts, and to have a counter-roll of all things pertaining to the said Receipt, and commanded the treasurer to admit him accordingly.[3]

In 1238 when the King sent a body of troops, under the command of Henry de Trubleville, to assist the Emperor Frederick against his rebellious subjects in the Italian provinces, John Maunsell and William Hardel, citizen of London, accompanied the troops with a sum of money to pay the mercenaries. This was immediately after Easter, which fell on 4th April in that year. The English fought bravely for the Emperor during the whole of the following summer, and recovered some of the cities which had been held out against him. In these days it was not thought unseemly for an ecclesiastic to bear arms in the King's wars; and on this occasion John Maunsell is specially mentioned amongst those who distinguished themselves for their valour.

In the year 1241 a serious disagreement arose between the King and the bishop of Lincoln with respect to the preferment of Maunsell, and the zeal with which the King took the part of his chaplain shews how highly he had already risen in his favour. The cause of the quarrel was this: the prebend of Thame (Tame in the county of Oxon.) being vacant, was given by the bishop of Lincoln to Master Simon of London, penitentiary to the bishop of Durham; but through the King's interposition a decree was obtained from the Pope by which John Maunsell obtained possession of it. The bishop was highly indignant with the King for his interference on behalf of his chaplain, and Henry being then in Wales prosecuting his wars with the Welsh, the archdeacons of Huntingdon and Leicester were sent by the bishop to reproach him for his conduct and admonish him to make amends for what he had done. This was refused by the King on the ground that an appeal had now been lodged with the Pope.

One of the archbishops who was present at the interview urged that the bishop had a special privilege granted to him by the Pope which exempted him from providing for any one at the command of the Apostolic See, unless special mention was made therein of that privilege; and since no such mention had been made in the papal order, the bishop was not bound to pay any heed to it. The archbishop, however, deprecated any further dispute in the matter, saying that, as Maunsell was a man of wisdom and learning, the bishop would be readily moved, at the request of the King and Maunsell, to provide him with as good or better preferment, which would be creditable to all parties; the bishop begs with all humility that no other settlement may be made; but he is prepared to pronounce the anathema against all those who shall injure, or encroach upon, the dignity of his church. When Maunsell, who was then in attendance upon the King, heard this message delivered before him and his council, he begged the King not to let him be the cause of any further dispute between them, saying that he was willing to give way, knowing that so long as the King lived he should be sufficiently provided for. Henry resolved, however, to defer the matter to another time, and when he had completed his arrangements for the defence of the borders during his absence, he returned to London. And here the bishop had also repaired with full purpose of pronouncing sentence of excommunication against John Maunsell in particular and against all the disturbers of his church and dignity.

When this was known to Maunsell he came to the King and resigned the benefice, upon which the King allowed the matter to drop. But Maunsell was immediately rewarded by having the richer benefice of Maidstone bestowed upon him by the King; and in the same year he was likewise presented to the well-endowed church of Hoveden. By this step, moreover, the bishop of Lincoln was pacified, and, at the King's request, he preached a sermon in which he commended the humility of all concerned.[4]

We next hear of Parson Maunsell in a military capacity. Having accompanied the King to France, he was with him in his French wars; and in the battle, fought at Xantoigne, in 1242, where many were taken prisoners on both sides, among those captured by the English was one Peter Orige, high steward to the Count de Boulogne, who was personally taken by John Maunsell. On this occasion he is described by Matthew Paris as "a clerk and special councillor of the English King who was reckoned not the least among brave men." Maunsell seems to have remained with the King during the winter months in his inglorious retreat at Bordeaux.

In the following spring some feeble attempts were made by the English to recover lost ground, and the towns of certain rebel Gascons within the territories of Bordeaux were reduced to subjection by those who remained faithful to the English King. At this time there was a certain monastery called Verines, where the King's rebellious subjects had taken refuge, and had made the church into a castle, or rather a robber's cave; and the learned monk of St. Albans, who gives the fullest history of these events, tells us that "while this fortress was being unsuccessfully besieged and attacked by the King's faithful servants, one of the King's clerks and special councillors, named John Maunsell, a man brave in arms and of undaunted spirit, reproached the assailants for their slothfulness and loss of time, and while he was setting an example to the others of attacking the enemy with greater energy, and endeavouring to make a road for the besiegers, one of the besieged, who was located in a higher part of the church, cast a great stone upon him which crushed his leg with the joints and marrow in his bones. But when the same man was preparing to demolish the rest of his body with stones, his friends, who were most sincerely attached to him, covered him with their own bodies, and with large shields called targets, and thus with much difficulty rescued him from the peril of death. Being severely wounded, however, he remained for a long time in a weak and languishing state,[5] and when by the skill of the surgeons he was at length restored, he was promoted to still higher honours."

He seems to have been acting as the King's Treasurer at that time; for by close writ of 7th July, 1242, dated at Xancton' (Xantoigne), John Maunsell is ordered to allow to Sir Peter Alard, Knight, whom the King had retained in his service, his stipend like the rest of the King's Knights.[6] In this year he was presented by the King to a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral, and was advanced in the following year, 1243, to the Chancellorship of that church,[7] to which a stall in the Cathedral of Wells was added.[8] On 17th August, 1243, he was one of the witnesses to the King's Charter of Dover to his Consort Queen Eleanor, dated at Bourdeaux.[9] The King soon afterwards returned from his unfortunate expedition to Gascony, and landed at Portsmouth about the 27th September; and John Maunsell appears as witness to the King's convention, made at Westminster, with his brother Earl Richard, on the morrow of St. Andrew the Apostle, 28 Hen. III. (31st November, 1243).[10] It was in the summer of 1244, according to Matthew Paris, that the King appointed Sir Poyntz Piper, Knight—(whom he had made acting steward of the Palace), and John Maunsell, Chancellor of St. Paul's, his principal councillors.

Maunsell had been made Chancellor of St. Paul's during the vacancy of the See of London, by the King's patent dated on 24th May, 1243,[11] and he seems to have retained the office till about the year 1259. In the year 1245, he also obtained a stall at Chichester.[12]

In what year he became Rector of Wigan I do not find; but it was probably about this same time, or at all events some time between the years 1242 and 1245-6, when Robert Banastre, the young lord of Newton, was in his minority, and his lands in the King's custody. By charter dated at Woodstock, on the 26th of August, 30 Hen. III. (1246) the King concedes to his beloved and faithful John Mansell, Parson of the church of Wygain, that his town of Wygain should be a borough for ever, and that the burgesses should have a guild-merchant and other the liberties and customs thereto belonging.[13] The Rector's own charter of freedom to the burgesses, which was probably granted in the same or following year, runs thus: "To all sons of our Holy Mother church to whom this present writing shall come, John Maunsell, Rector of the church of Wigan, greeting in the Lord. Be it known to all men that I have given and conceded, and by this my present charter have confirmed, for myself and my successors, to the burgesses of Wegan, and their heirs or assigns, that they should have their free town, and all rights, customs, and liberties, as is contained in the charter of liberty and acquittance of the Lord King; and that each of them should have to their burgage five roods of land to themselves and their heirs and assigns; and that they should grind at my mill to the extent of twenty measures without payment; and that they should have in my wood sufficient for building and burning, together with quittance of pannage[14] for the nourishment of their own pigs within my wood, to have and to hold of me and my successors, to themselves and their heirs or assigns, freely, and quietly, and honourably, with common of pasture and with all other easements[15] belonging to the said town of Wegan, within and without the town; and that they should have their pleas in porte-mote[16] once in three weeks, and their verdict of twelve men, and amercements by the same; paying therefor annually to me, or my successors, by themselves and their heirs, or assigns, upon each burgage twelve pence, at the four terms, viz. at the feast of St. John the Baptist threepence, at the feast of St. Michael the Archangel threepence, at the Nativity of our Lord threepence, and at Easter threepence, for all secular services, exactions and demands. And I the aforesaid John Maunsell, Rector of the church of Wegan, and my successors, will warrant all the above written to the said burgesses of the town of Wegan, and their heirs or assigns, against all men and women for ever. And that this donation and concession should remain firm and stable, I have set my seal to this writing, to which are witnesses, Thomas Gretlee, William le Butler, Mathew de Redman, at that time Sheriff of Lancaster, Robert Banastre, Robert de Lathome, William de Clifton, John de Lamar, John de Lee, Henry de Torboke, Adam de Molenex, Warren de Walton, Henry de Sefton, at that time Bailiff, and others."

This charter was confirmed by Robert Banastre, Lord of Makersfild, and true patron of the aforesaid church, in the presence of Thurstan de Holland, Robert de Hulton, Hugh le Norres, Alan le Norres, William de Songky, William de Pemberton, Nicholas de Wegan, and others; as also by Roger, Lord Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, the ordinary.[17]

When Silvester de Everdon was elected Bishop of Carlisle, and resigned the great seal in November, 1246, it was delivered to John Maunsell, but whether with the title of Chancellor does not appear, as no record exists of his appointment. A reference, however, is made to it on the patent roll of 31 Hen. III., dated 29th August, 1247, in which it is stated merely that he had the custody of the seal from the 8th of the preceding November to Friday, on the morrow of the decollation of John the Baptist (being the day before the date of the record), on which day the King sent him on an embassy to foreign parts.[18] Another entry occurs in the following year, showing that he had returned from his mission, and that he had received back the custody of the seal on Monday after the feast of St. Lawrence (August, 1248); and by the patent roll of 33 Hen. III. it appears that he held it till the feast of the nativity of St Mary in that year, being 8th September, 1249.[19] In none of these entries is he called Chancellor; and as they were evidently made by his direction it is not likely that the title would have been omitted if it had belonged to him.[20]

In the letters patent by which this latter appointment is certified, he is styled Provost of Beverlac (Beverley), a post conferred upon him by the Archbishop of York, about the year 1247. In that year (1247) he was sent with the Abbot of Westminster to Germany to arrange preliminaries with the Duke of Brabant for contracting a marriage between Prince Edward, afterwards King Edward I., and the daughter of the said Duke, but the embassy proved a failure, and the ambassadors "returned in sorrow, with empty saddle-bags, and each of them grieved that he had wasted his trouble and expences to no purpose."[21] At the close of that year, viz., on 13th December, 1247, Maunsell was elected Dean of Wimborne.[22]

In 1249, when he was about to accompany the King and Queen to the enthronization of Boniface de Savoy, the uncle of Queen Eleanor, he was seized with a sudden sickness. Boniface had been elected Archbishop of Canterbury in 1240, and consecrated in 1245; but his enthronement did not take place until the Feast of All Saints, 1st November, 1249, when it was performed in the presence of the King and Queen, and almost all the English prelates, who had been convoked for this solemnity. Matthew Paris informs us that "as the King was hastening thither with his attendants, John Maunsell, his special councillor, was taken seriously ill at Maidstone, being, as was stated, infected by poison, from the effects of which he suffered for two days, and was with difficulty snatched from the gates of death by the diligent care of the physicians." A few months later, namely, on the Feast of St. Perpetua and St Felicitas (7th March, 1250), he received the Cross, together with the King and many of the nobles, at the hands of Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury. But Henry probably had no real intention of proceeding to the Holy Land, and Maunsell also remained at home in attendance on the King.[23]

When the King heard of the death of William de Raleigh, Bishop of Winchester (which took place at Touraine on 1st September, 1250), he despatched John Maunsell and Peter Chacepork, "two of his chief clerks, whom he knew to be very clever in all kinds of arguments," to Winchester, charging them to use their best endeavours to induce the Chapter to elect his uterine brother, Aylmer de Lusignan, Bishop in his stead. The envoys were speedily followed by the King himself, who exerted his influence to constrain the Prior and Convent of St. Swithin at Winchester to comply with his demand. Under this pressure Aylmer was accordingly elected, though he was totally unfitted for the office both by his age and order; nor was he consecrated until nearly ten years afterwards.

Matthew Paris rightly blames Maunsell for undertaking this commission, but he would probably have found it very difficult to evade it; and his strictures were in some measure prompted, no doubt, by the fact that Maunsell had lately offended the monks of St. Albans, of whom the learned historian was one, by supporting the claims of his own brother-in-law, Sir Geoffrey de Childerwick, against the Abbot and his Convent, in a controversy concerning certain rights of warren in the land of St. Albans. The said Sir Geoffrey, who held under of the church of St. Albans, had married Clarissa, the daughter of a country priest and sister of John Maunsell.

One of the best traits in Maunsell's character was his fidelity to his friends. To the King he was ever consistently faithful; and we have an example of his courage in supporting his friends in trouble in the case of Henry de Bath and Philip Lovel, the King's Justices, who had fallen under the royal displeasure about this time, and who were indebted to Maunsell for the saving of their lives. One of them, Henry de Bath, appeared before a grand parliament held at London on 17th February, 1251, where he was fiercely attacked by his enemies. The King, we are told, was in the highest degree enraged against him, and rose up saying, 'Any one who shall slay Henry de Bath shall be quit of his death, and I declare him quit of the same," after which he hurriedly departed from the assembly. De Bath's accusers were ready to fall upon him, but they were restrained by Maunsell, who thus addressed them: "My lords and friends, We ought not to act upon that which is said over hastily and in hot anger. When the moment of resentment is past, perhaps the King will be sorry that he has given utterance to such angry words. Moreover, if you do any harm to this Henry, here are the Bishop of London and his other friends, these Knights, of whom the former will take spiritual, and the latter temporal vengeance";[24] and so his life was spared.

In this year, 1251, Maunsell was sent into Scotland to treat for peace with the King of Scots, and by his mediation a marriage was arranged to take place between Princess Margaret, the King's daughter, and Alexander III., King of Scots,[25] which was celebrated at York on 26th December of that year.

In the following year, 1252, we find him again acting as a peacemaker. There had been a feud of several years standing between the Abbot of Westminster and the monks of his Convent. This dispute was at length referred to the arbitrament of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, afterwards King of Germany, and John Maunsell, by whom matters were amicably arranged. In this year he himself had a controversy with the Abbot and Convent of Tewkesbury concerning the tithes of their manor of Kingston, which Maunsell claimed as belonging to his church of Ferring. By the award of the Bishop of Chichester a compromise was made, under which the tithes, both great and small, of Kingston were given up to the monks of Tewkesbury, subject to an annual payment of l00s. to the mother church of Ferring.[26]

On 16th June, 1252, we find him testing a letter for the King, at Windsor.[27]

In 1253, John Maunsell, Chancellor of London and Provost of Beverley, was sent with W[illiam de Bitton], Bishop of Bath and Wells, into Spain on a special embassy, with letters patent of 15th of May, directed to Alphonso, the young King of Castile and Leon (who had succeeded to his dominions in the previous year), to treat of a matrimonial alliance between the two Kings; and Maunsell, whom the King calls his secretary, is entrusted with special power to make oath, on the King's behalf, that he will adhere to any engagement that it may be considered necessary to make for promoting the said business.[28] The charter which they brought back, with its golden seal, is still preserved among the archives at Westminster.[29] A few days later, by patent of the 24th May, the same envoys were commissioned to treat for a marriage between the eldest son of the King of Aragon and Beatrice the King's daughter.[30] It is probable that this latter commission was only to be acted upon in the event of their failing to come to an agreement with the King of Castile. It appears that they could not come to terms with him on this occasion, but on the 8th of February, 1253-4, Maunsell was again despatched to Spain, with Peter (de Egeblanke), Bishop of Hereford, as his colleague, to treat for peace with the said Alphonso, King of Castile and Leon,[31] and by these two envoys a treaty was signed on the Kalends of April, 1254, wherein the preliminaries of a marriage were arranged between Prince Edward and Eleanor of Castile, the King's sister.[32] Maunsell afterwards accompanied Prince Edward into Spain, and was present at his marriage, which took place at Burgos,[33] towards the end of October.

In the autumn of the following year, 1255, Maunsell was sent to Edinburgh, with Richard, Earl of Clare, to inquire into the treatment of Princess Margaret.[34]

In January, 1256, he was made Treasurer of York, an office which he retained till his death.

In the same month, by patent dated at Windsor 24th January, he and Bertram de Crioyl were sent into France to make arrangements with the King of France for a prolongation of the truce, from the Feast of St. Remigins (13th January), when the late truce made with Louis by Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and Peter de Savoy, on the part of Henry, would come to an end, for the further space of three years.[35]

After his departure, the King wrote him a long and interesting letter, dated from Oxford on the 30th of January, in which he addresses him as Provost of Beverley, and informs him that he had sent messengers to his brother Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to ask his advice concerning the embassy to Castile, who advises liberal promises on behalf of the Gascon barons. As to the marriage of the King's daughter he advises that the King of Castile should be asked what provision he will make for his brother. As to the African affair he advises that Henry should express his willingness to go there for a crusade instead of to the Holy Land, under certain conditions. In this matter the King gives full discretion to Maunsell, inasmuch as he is better acquainted with the business, and has bestowed more labour upon it than any man living.[36]

In June of that year he went into Germany with the Earl of Gloucester, having full powers to treat with the electors on behalf of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, concerning his election as King of the Romans.[37]

On the 13th September of the same year, the barons, knights, and others, of the counties of York, Lancaster, Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland, were commanded to place themselves under the orders of John Maunsell in the event of Alexander, King of Scotland, needing any assistance against his rebellious subjects; and Maunsell is ordered to go to the parts of Scotland to treat, on Henry's behalf, between him and the Scottish King, on the one side, and the rebels of the Scottish King on the other.[38]

It was in this year that he gave his princely entertainment in London. Among his many and various preferments he held the prebend of Totenhall (now Tottenham or Tottenham Court), in the Diocese of London, and here, at his house in Tothill Field, he entertained the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland, Prince Edward, and most of the prelates and nobles of the kingdom. His guests were so numerous on this occasion that he was obliged to erect tents for their accommodation, and Stowe says that seven hundred dishes were scarcely sufficient for the first course.

Fabyan gives an account of certain complaints against the mayor and aldermen of London, being heard in January, 1257, 41 Hen. III., before John Maunsell and Henry Baa, meaning Henry de Bathonia, justices, Sir Henry Wengham, the Chancellor and others of the King's Council. And he goes on to say that soon after John Maunsell was "made knyte and chefe justyce of England;" and that under that name, in the June following, he was one of the twelve peers appointed by the parliament of Oxford to correct the enormities that had crept into the government. He adds that he was thereupon discharged of his office, and Sir Hugh Bygot admitted in his place.[39] Foss, however, doubts the fact of his ever having been appointed chief justice, and says that the title is never added to his signature, or his description at this period, which he holds to be conclusive.[40]

It was in the year 1257 that Maunsell obtained from the King a charter for himself and his successors, the Parsons of Wigan, for ever, to hold a weekly market at their town of Wigan, and two fairs annually, of six days' duration.[41]

On the 20th of June in that year, his name occurs with those of the Archbishop of Tarentum, Simon, Earl of Leicester, and Peter de Savoy, as one of the special envoys named by Edmund, King of Sicily, with the authorization of his father, Henry, King of England, to approach Pope Alexander IV., and beg him to amend the conditions under which the Kingdom of Sicily had been conceded to him.[42] But he could not have gone into Italy at that time, because on the 20th July he was sent into Scotland with the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham, Roger de Quincy, Earl of Winchester, the prior of Durham, and two others, for the purpose of settling the dispute between the Scottish King and certain of his nobles.[43]

In pursuance of the same business, by letters patent, dated at Westminster on the 4th of August in the following year, 1258, Henry gave full power to Simon, Earl of Leicester, and John Maunsell, Treasurer of York, to determine the said matter.[44]

In the meantime, when Simon de Montfort, Peter de Savoy, and others had been appointed, by patent of 4th May, 1258, to treat of peace with the King of France, Walter de Merton is ordered to remain, during the King's retirement, at London, with domino John Maunsell, Hugh le Bigod, and magisitro Rostando, to affix the King's Seal to whatever they might arrange concerning peace with the King of France, and concerning the Sicilian business.[45]

Being a member of the King's council, sworn at Oxford on the 22nd of June, he was one of the two chosen by the barons to elect the council of twelve who should treat with the King's council on behalf of the commons at the three parliaments appointed to be held in each year.[46] And the King, by letter of the 26th of June, dated from Oxford, after reciting that he had sworn to his nobles and magnates that a reformation of the realm should be made by twelve of his council chosen for the purpose, of whom Maunsell was one, and twelve chosen on the part of the nobles, orders him to proceed with his colleagues in this business.[47]

In the same year he had a charter for making a sheep-fold, or enclosure for sheep, namely, the bercaria of Sneydall, in the forest of Pickeringe,[48] in Yorkshire; and also a licence to crenellate or embattle his mansion at Sedgewyck, in the county of Sussex.[49]

At the close of that year or early in 1259, he was sent over to St. Omer with the Bishop of Worcester and others to meet Richard, Earl of Cornwall, the King's brother and titular King of the Romans, to require from him an oath that he would observe the Provisions of Oxford before he landed in England, lest he should bring back with him his half-brothers and other foreigners who had been exiled by the said Provisions.[50]

On the 10th March, 1259, he was one of those sent to the King of France as an arbitrator on Henry's side, concerning the amount of money which ought to be paid to the English King for the maintenance of 500 knights for two years.[51]

On the l0th of May, 1259, Richard de Clare and John Maunsell were sent to arrange for a marriage between John, eldest son of John, Duke of Brittany, and Beatrice, the King's daughter.[52] In the same month, as one of the great council of 24 who practically ruled the country at that time, he attached his signature to the deed of confirmation of peace between the English and the French, by which Henry resigned to the French King the Duchy of Normandy and other French provinces, which had long been lost, but had never been formally disclaimed. To this deed, which bears date the 20th of May, 1259, there are 16 seals appended. That of John Maunsell bears, on one side, an antique head with an inscription from a Roman Imperial coin, on the other, half of an armed man on a tower, beneath which is a kneeling figure.[53] Perhaps this may have reference to his narrow escape from destruction at the seige of Vérines in 1243.

A few days later, on the 20th of May, 1259, the King of England gives plenary power to Margaret, Queen of France, Richard, Earl of Gloucester, Peter de Savoy, and John Maunsell, or any of them who shall be present at the time, to treat for the proposed marriage between John, son of John, Duke of Brittany, and his daughter Beatrice.[54]

By the convention which ensued, the preliminaries of the said marriage were arranged, and the King undertook to restore to the Duke of Brittany the Earldom of Richmond. The letters of the Duke's proctor directed to the King, and the letters of the King's envoys which they wrote to the King and sealed with their own seals, were left in the hands of Sir John Maunsell, in the presence of the King and his council, in the Queen's chapel at Westminster, on Monday next after the Feast of St Luke the Evangelist (20th October), 1259.[55]

Towards the end of November the King went over to France, and Maunsell probably accompanied him, for we find him attesting his letters at St. Denis on the 18th of January, 1260, and at St. Omer on the 19th of February.[56]

Maunsell's enemies took advantage of his absence to try and poison the mind of the Pope (Alexander IV.) against him by false accusations; and on the i6th of January, 1260, we find Henry writing from St. Denis to the Pope in his defence. In this letter he begs the Pope not to believe the charge they had brought against Maunsell of beating a proctor at York, and assures him that he is entirely innocent of the charge, having been in attendance on the King himself in London at the time he was accused of having committed the offence.[57]

The King was detained in France longer than he intended, having been overtaken by a severe illness. He returned to England about Easter, 1260;[58] and there is a memorandum of the 20th of August in that year, which shews the confidence that was reposed in John Maunsell. The memorandum refers to a treaty which had lately been made with the King of Castile by the King's embassadors at Bourdeaux, and states that certain letters patent, and four close writs of a similar character, which are enrolled on the back of the close roll for that year, had been examined by John Maunsell and accepted by him, and delivered by his precept, after being countersigned, to John de la Lynde to be taken to those parts.[59]

When the King afterwards shut himself up in the Tower of London, and ordered the gates of the city to be closed against all comers, Maunsell was one of the small number of the council who were allowed free ingress and egress to and from his presence.

In the following spring the King obtained a Bull from Pope Alexander IV. shortly before he died, for annulling the Provisions of Oxford, which was dated at the Lateran on 13th April, 1261.[60] The absolution from the oath having been read publicly at Paul's Cross on the 2nd Sunday in Lent, Henry now repudiated his obligation, and acting, as it is said, under the advice of John Maunsell, Robert Walerand and Peter de Savoy,[61] proceeded to abrogate the statutes that he had sanctioned at Oxford.

On the 5th of July, 1261, Maunsell was one of those to whom the differences between the King and the Earl and Countess of Leicester were agreed to be referred.[62]

On the 8th of August the Archbishop of Canterbury writes to John Maunsell, sending the Pope's mandate of the month of May last, addressed to the said Archbishop, the Bishop of Norwich, and John Maunsell, Treasurer of York and papal Chaplain, and orders him by virtue of the said mandate to proceed in person to Hugh le Bigod, and admonish him to deliver the castles of Scarborough and Pickering to the King, intimating to him that if he refuses to do so the Archbishop will proceed to excommunicate him in accordance with the form of the mandate.[63]

This mission, which it must have required some courage to execute, he evidently discharged, for on the iij Kal. of September (30 August), the day after his election, the new Pope Urban IV.[64] writes to Boniface, Archbishop of Canterbury, and John Maunsell, Treasurer of York and Chaplain to the Pope, acknowledging their letter of xi Kal. of September (22 August), received that evening, quoting the late Pope's Bull, and informing him that they had personally approached Sir Hugh le Bigod at Kyrkelymoreshesd' (Kirby Moorside), and carefully admonished him to give up the said castles to the King, who made answer that he had received them by the will and command of the King and his sworn magnates, under his corporal oath that he would guard them faithfully, and he would give them up to no man unless by the will and command of the said King and his magnates. But he professes that he will readily give them up to the said King, with the express advice and will of the said magnates or the greater part of them.[65] Whether these castles were eventually given up to the King or not I do not learn, but the new Pope does not appear to have given any further mandate in the matter.

In the following November a treaty for peace was made between the King and his barons, which was ratified at London on the vigil of St. Nicholas (5th December), 1261. By this treaty it was provided that three persons should be chosen on either side to arbitrate between them, of whom John Maunsell was one of those named on the King's side. If they could not agree, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, was to be added as a seventh arbitrator; if they still disagreed the King of France was to be added as an eighth;[66] and to him the matter seems to have been eventually referred.

On the 1st of January, 1262, letters patent were issued by the council charging John Maunsell with stirring up strife between the King and his nobles.[67] Letters to that effect were also sent to Rome; and the King thought it necessary to clear his faithful servant in the eyes of the Pontifical Court Writing from Westminster on the 1st of January (the same day on which the letters patent were issued in his name) to the College of Cardinals, he says "We have been informed that certain persons, forgetful of their proper honesty, have falsely and maliciously represented to the supreme Pontiff, that our beloved and faithful John Maunsell, Treasurer of York, has been endeavouring to stir up strife and dissension between us and our nobles, to the detriment of our nation and public disturbance of our kingdom; whereat we are much moved and disturbed, especially because he never at any time endeavoured to set us against any notable person of our realm, or would have had dissension or a scruple of discord between us on any account, except that he has effectually and constantly stood by us (as he was bound by his fealty to do) in upholding and preserving our rights and dignity, and found the means of hindering the accomplishment of those things which seemed to be undertaken to cause trouble. And forasmuch as we know the said John (who was brought up under our tutelage, and whose disposition, morals and merits, we have known from his youth up) to have been ever diligent and faithful in our affairs and those of the realm, we are bound to shew him our royal favour, and we especially commend him to your good will, intimating with all truth to your holiness that he is entirely innocent of the crime that has been laid to his charge, wherefore we claim it of your love that you should put no faith in such detractors and evil prompters, and that you should be ready to treat him, if it please you, with all the more affection and favour because others have endeavoured to defame him and take away his character."[68]

Such a character given by a King to his subject after so many years of service, bears the highest testimony to his unswerving fidelity to his sovereign prince.

While awaiting the result of the reference to the French King, Henry thought it expedient to obtain a second dispensation from the new Pope, and John Maunsell was the confidential agent employed for this purpose. In a letter dated 6th February, 1262, one Roger Lovell, clerk, informs the King that Master John Maunsell has obtained for him the fullest release from his obligations.[69] This second bull was dated from Viterbo, v. Kal. Mar. (25 February.)[70]

The Archbishop of Canterbury, John Maunsell, and others, were enjoined to publish it in all churches with ringing of bells and lighted tapers; and it was accordingly proclaimed at Westminster on the 2nd of May, 1262.[71]

In July, 1262, Maunsell accompanied the King to France as keeper of the great seal, and returned with him to England in December following.[72]

The said John Maunsell, and Simon de Walton, bishop of Norwich, were entrusted with power, by the Pope, to absolve the King and his nobles from the oath they had taken at Oxford, which was repudiated and annulled by the Roman pontiff as an unlawful one. They were moreover furnished with authority to excommunicate all who refused to be absolved from the oath.[73] This, and the great activity which they had shewn in the King's behalf, brought down upon them the fury of the barons, who plundered their lands, carried off all their moveable goods wherever they could lay hands on them, and sought to put them to death.[74] The eminent services rendered by Maunsell, and his invaluable council, rendered it expedient for the King to keep him with him as long as possible; and Henry in a letter of 5th February, 1263, informs the King of France that, being unable to spare his beloved and faithful John de Maunsell and Robert Walerand, on account of his own sickness, the Welsh war, and other important business, he sends the bishop of Exeter and others in their stead as envoys to settle the terms of peace.[75] But the rage of the barons against Maunsell now became so great that, at about midsummer of that year, he was obliged to escape from their vengeance by leaving the country. The King and Queen had shut themselves up in the Tower of London with the said John Maunsell, Robert Walerand and a few others,[76] and Maunsell leaving the Tower, with the Countess de Lisle,[77] by the river Thames, proceeded to Dover Castle with Edmund, the King's younger son, from whence, on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (29th June), he crossed the sea to Boulogne where he met with an honorable reception[78] at the hands of Gerard de Rodes, a French knight.[79]

He was pursued at this time by Henry, son of Richard, Earl of Cornwall, who had joined the movement of the barons against his uncle, and who incautiously followed Maunsell to Boulogne, where he was siezed and imprisoned by Ingelram de Fiennes.[80]

The King now agreed with his barons to refer the settlement of their disputes to Louis, King of France, to whose court he at once repaired. The barons also sent their representatives to the court of Louis, where they found the ever ready John Maunsell,[81] who had already procured letters from the Pope to the French King. Louis gave his award on the 23rd January, 1264, in favour of Henry, annulling the Provisions of Oxford, but the barons refused to abide by his decision, and the result was a civil war in which the English King was defeated and taken captive at the battle of Lewes on the 14th of May, 1264. But all this is matter of general English history, which we need not follow here any further.

The Tewkesbury Annalist informs us that Maunsell's lands were seized by Simon de Montfort and given to his (Simon's) son. In fact, they had already been seized by his enemies as soon as he had left the country, and by letters patent, issued in the King's name, in July or August, 1263, all the hereditaments in England which belonged to John Maunsell were given to Simon de Montfort, junior, son and heir of Simon, Earl of Leicester.[82] Almaric de Montford, another of the Earl of Leicester's sons, succeeded to Maunsell's office of Treasurer of York, to which he was appointed on 7th February, 1265, after the said Maunsell's death;[83] and William de Montfort to his prebend in the church of Bruges (Bridgnorth, in the county of Salop).[84]

In the meantime, on the 14th of February, 1264, the King deputes his royal consort Queen Eleanor, Peter, Earl of Savoy, and John Maunsell, Treasurer of York, to receive from Louis, King of France, the money which Louis owes to the English King. This is the last official business in which we find Maunsell engaged. Having been stripped of all his possessions, with his Royal patron in captivity in England, he died in poverty and in exile at the close of that year or early in 1265.

Thus ended the career of this remarkable man, who exercised a greater power than any other subject during the reign of King Henry III. and who seems to have possessed an almost unbounded influence over his Royal Master. Whether this influence was always wisely used or not he never swerved in his allegiance to the King, whose letters preserved in the patent and close rolls shew how fully he trusted him in all his affairs. He must also have been a man of extraordinary courage, talent, and powers of persuasion, for the delicate embassies on which he was despatched were almost invariably successful.

When Henry was about to start for Gascony, by his will dated at Suthwyk on the Tuesday next after the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul (1st July), 1253, he named Maunsell one of his executors.[85]

John Maunsell's chief ecclesiastical preferments were the chancellorship of St. Paul's, the Deanery of the Royal collegiate church of Wimborne in Dorsetshire, the Treasurership of York, the Prepositure of Beverley and the Rectory of Wigan; besides which, we know him to have held the Rectory of Hoton (Hoveden or Howden) with Skern, in the county of York, the churches of Ferring, in Sussex, Sawbridgeworth, in Dorset, and Maidstone, in Kent (then probably a Rectory), the prebend of Totenhall, in the Diocese of London, that of Crackpole St. Mary's, which he afterwards exchanged for that of Leicester, in the Diocese of Lincoln, and prebends in Wells, Chichester, and the Collegiate church of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, as also, for a short time, the prebend of Fenton in the Diocese of York, to which he was appointed by the King, 29th November, 1258. He was also chaplain to the King and to the Pope. He appears moreover to have held lands and manors in more than half a dozen counties, most of which were afterwards given by Simon de Montfort to his son Simon.

He founded a house of regular canons at Romney in Kent, and also a priory for regular canons of the order of St. Augustine at Bilsington in the same county, to whom he gave his manor of Bilsington superior or East Bilsington, all his lands at Polre and Gozehale, and also his lands at Ecche, and of which he nominated William as the first Prior.[86]

It is probable that he was a benefactor to the University of Oxford, for the executors of John Pontysera, bishop of Winchester, gave to that University the sum of two hundred marks for the use of the Masters and Scholars, on the following conditions, namely, that on the eve of St. Nicholas annually, the said bishop should be commemorated in a mass for the dead, with special remembrance made of John Maunsell and John, nephew of the bishop, and that every year the priest making circuit of the schools with the bedel should recite the names of the aforesaid persons; and that at the commencement and close of each term, and in processions and masses celebrated by the University, special remembrance should be made of the said persons. A chest should be provided for the money so bequeathed, and needy scholars of all faculties should be allowed to borrow from the chest as follows: "A regent Master may borrow forty shillings, a non-regent two marks and a half, a bachelor two marks, a sophist one mark, and every scholar thus borrowing shall be bound to say for the souls of the aforesaid persons the Lord's prayer and the Ave Maria each five times." The University accepted the bequest and promised to fulfil the conditions.[87]

At an inquisition taken on the death of John Maunsell lately deceased, in 1265, with respect to certain houses of his in London, the jury stated that they were ignorant who was his nearest heir, neither did they know whether he had bequeathed those houses to his cousin Amabilla de Rypun or not.[88]

From what has been stated it is clear that Parson Maunsell could never have resided at Wigan, and his spiritual duties were probably discharged by a resident vicar, of whose name we have no mention. But on account of his charter of freedom to the inhabitants of Wigan and the other immunities which he obtained for them, his history must ever be a matter of interest to them as well as to his successors, the parsons of Wigan.

  1. Placita de quo waranto, p. 749.
  2. Calendarium Genealogicum vol. i. p. 118.
  3. Rot. Claus. 18 Hen. III. m. 16. Madox' History of the Exchequer, vol. ii. p. 51.
  4. Matthew Paris, sub anno.
  5. Matthew Paris, sub. anno.
  6. Rym. Fœd. vol. i. p. 247.
  7. Foss' Judges of England, vol. ii. p. 392.
  8. Hutchins' Dorsetshire, vol ii. p. 534.
  9. Rym. Fœd. vol. i. p. 253.
  10. Rym. Fœd. vol. i. p. 254.
  11. Pat. 27 Hen. III. m. 10.
  12. Hutchins' Dorsetshire, vol. ii. p. 534.
  13. The original charter to John Maunsell is not extant, but it will be given more fully when speaking of the charter of inspeximus granted to Adam de Walton, one of his successors.
  14. Pannage was the right of feeding swine free of charge.
  15. Easements; pasturage in, or firewood to be taken from, the lord's woods, or other accommodation allowed to tenants, chiefly in respect of roads, water-courses, timber, fuel, stone quarries, or marl-pits.
  16. Porte-mote; a local court having jurisdiction in matters of trade; hence, probably, the origin of the old Moot-hall lately pulled down in Wigan.
  17. Rot. Claus. 27 Eliz. pars. 2a (taken from a certified copy of June 16, 1748, in possession of the Earl of Bradford, the present patron of the church of Wigan), being a confirmatory charter of inspeximus by Thomas Stanley, Bishop of Man, and Rector of the parish church of Wegan, dated at Wegan on l0th Oct. 3 Eliz. A.D. 1561, who signs himself Thomas Sodarens et Insularum Episcopus, in the presence of William Gerarde, Esq., Edmund Winstanley, gent., William Banke, Thomas Beeke, Hugh Topping, Thomas Gerrarde, William Hyde, Richard Brereworth, Thomas Ince, and many others. To this charter is appended the following footnote: "Memorandum quod sexto die Maii anno regni dictæ dominæ Elizabethæ Reginæ vicesimo septimo Carolus Banke nunc Major predictæ villæ de Wegan et burgenses ejusdem villæ venerunt in Cancellaria dictæ dominæ Reginæ et protulerunt tunc et ibidem scriptum prædictum et petierunt ut idem in Rotulis Cancellariæ nostræ prædictæ irrotulari possit ad quorum quidem Majoris et burgensium instantias et requisitiones scriptum prædictum secundum formam et effectum ejusdem de verbo in verbum prout præscriptum est irrotulatum die et anno prædictis." Mathew de Redman or Rademan, one of the witnesses to the original charter, wherein he is styled Sheriff of Lancashire, was Sheriff from 1246 to the commencement of 1249. Of the others, Thomas Gretlee or Gresle, Baron of Manchester, died in 46 Hen. III. (1261-2). William le Butler, Lord of Warrington, succeeded his father Almaric as a minor in 1235, and died in 1303. Robert de Lathome (son of Richard), occurs as Lord of Lathome in 1248. William de Clifton was Lord of Clifton in 42 Hen. III (1257-8.) Henry de Torbock, Lord of that vill, had a charter of free warren at Torbock, &c., 41 Hen. III. Adam de Molinex was Lord of Sefton in 12 Hen. III., and probably deceased in 40 Hen. III. (1255-6), when William, his son and heir, was called to receive the degree of Knighthood. Roger de Weseham was consecrated Bishop of Lichfield in 1245-6 (30 Hen. III.) at Lyons, by the Pope, much to the King's displeasure, who at first withheld from him the temporalities of the See, which were, however, restored to him 25th March, 1246. He resigned his bishoprick after ten years of constant sickness on 4th Dec, 1256.
  18. Foss's Judges, vol. ii. pp. 392-3; from Rot. Pat. 31 Hen. III. m. 2; see also Madox' History of the Exchequer, vol. 1. p. 68.
  19. Rot. Pat. 32 Hen. III. m. 5 and 33 Hen. IV. m. 3.
  20. Foss's Judges.
  21. Matthew Paris, sub. anno.
  22. Hutchins' Dorsetshire, vol. i. p. 534.
  23. It was not necessary for those who took the Cross to proceed in person to the Holy Land. The cruce-signati or those who had vowed the crusade, were permitted to compound the obligation by money payments, which were collected under papal authority, and allotted to those who proposed to fulfil their vows in person.
  24. Matthew Paris.
  25. Chronicon Thomæ Wykes.
  26. Annales de Theokesberia.
  27. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III. p. 90.
  28. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 290.
  29. Foss's Judges, vol. ii. p. 394.
  30. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 290.
  31. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 295.
  32. At this period Maunsell occurs frequently as witness to the principal Charters of King Hen. III. Amongst others, he was witness to the Charter of 14th February, 1254, by which the King gave to Prince Edward the whole land of Ireland (except the towns and counties of Dublin and Limerick and the town of "Dalon," which the King retained in his own hands, 50 librates of waste land which he had assigned to his half-brother Geoffrey de Lusignan, and 40 librates of waste land which he had promised to Robert Walerand), the county of Chester, with its castles, towns, &c., his conquests in Wales, viz.: Rotheland (Rhuddlan) Dissard (or Disserth) and Gannoc, with all the other lands of Pernechelac, the town and castle of Bristol, the castles of Montgomery, Carmarthen and Cardigan, with their appurtenances, the castle of Buelt (Builth), Peake Castle (in Derbyshire), Stamford, and Grantham, with the honor, Jersey, Guernsey, and the other isles of the sea, and the manor of "Frigido Mansello,"—Rym. Fœd., vol. i. p. 297.
  33. Annales de Burton.
  34. Annales de Dunstaplia; Rym. Fœd., vol. i. p. 925.
  35. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 335.
  36. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III. p. 111.
  37. Chronicon Thomæ Wykes.
  38. Rymer's Fœdera vol. I. p. 347.
  39. Fabyan's Chron. ed. of 1811, pp. 340-343.
  40. Foss's Judges, vol. ii. pp. 153, 394-5.
  41. Placita de quo waranto (temp. Edw. I.), p. 372.
  42. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 359.
  43. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 362.
  44. Ibid, p. 376.
  45. Ibid, p. 371.
  46. Annales de Burton
  47. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III. p. 127. At the great council which met at Oxford on the 11th of June, 1258, were passed the enactments known as the Provisions of Oxford. The chief objects sought to be obtained by the barons by these Provisions were, first, the exclusion of aliens from the command of the royal castles or of the fortified ports; and secondly, a control over the administration of justice and, what was then a branch of that administration, the assessment and collection of the revenue, by the appointment of the Chief Justiciar in Parliament, and by the substitution of officers chosen by the several counties for the Sheriffs named by the Crown.
  48. Cal. Rot. Pat. 43 Hen. III. m. 1. No. 1.
  49. Ibid. m. 15. No. 42.
  50. Chronicon Thomæ Wykes; Blaauw's Barons' War, p. 84.
  51. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III. p. 138.
  52. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 382.
  53. Baauw's Barons' War p. 86.
  54. Rymer's Fœdera vol. i. p. 386.
  55. Ibid, p. 391
  56. Royal Letters, pp. 152, 155.
  57. Royal Letters, p. 146.
  58. Annales Cestriensis, p. 78.
  59. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 401.
  60. Blaauw's Barons' War, p. 91.
  61. Annales de Oseneia
  62. Royal Letters, p. 175.
  63. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 408
  64. Alexander IV. died on the 25th of May, 1261, and Urban IV. was elected on the 29th of August, and crowned on the 4th of September, 1261. — Nicolas' Chronology of History.
  65. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. p. 409.
  66. Annales de Oseneia
  67. Cal. Rot. Pat. 46 Hen. III. a tergo, m. i.
  68. Rymer's Fœdera vol. i. p. 415.
  69. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III. p. 206, No. 950.
  70. Rymer's Fœdera vol. i. p. 416.
  71. Blaauw's Barons' War, p. 96, note
  72. Eyton's Antiquities of Shropshire, vol. i. p. 339.
  73. Chronicon Thomæ Wykes
  74. Ibid.
  75. Royal Letters, temp. Hen. III.
  76. Chronicon Willelmi de Rishanger. Edited by J. O. Halliwell for the Camden Society, additional notes, p. 118.
  77. Annales de Dunstaplia. This lady, whom the Annalist calls Countess de Lisle, was Isabel, Countess of Devon and Albemarle, and lady of the Isle of Wight. She was the daughter and eventual heiress of Baldwin, Earl of Devon and Lord of the Isle of Wight, and widow of William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle.
  78. Rishanger's Chronicle as before.
  79. Blaauw's Barons' War, p. 106.
  80. Annales de Dunstaplia
  81. Annales de Theokesberia
  82. Cal. Rot. Pat. 47 Hen. III. m. 16.
  83. Le Neves' Fasti.
  84. Eyton's Antiquities of Shropshire, vol. 1. p. 339.
  85. Rymer's Fœdera vol. i. p. 496.
  86. Hasted's Kent, vol. iii. p. 470.
  87. Munimenta Academica (printed).
  88. Inq. post. mort. 50 Hen. III. No. 9.