Skip to main content

Religious Patronage of Angevin Royal Administrators, c. 1170–1239*

  • Ralph V. Turner

Ecclesiastical benefactions by English barons have provided topics for a number of scholars, but the professional civil servants, proto-bureaucrats, who first appeared in the twelfth century, are another group whose gifts to the Church deserve more study. In England, such men appear as early as Henry I's time, but they become more numerous in the reign of his grandson, Henry II. At first, such royal servants were men of all work, doing whatever the king assigned to them at the curia regis, in the counties, and abroad. By the last years of Henry II and in the reigns of his sons, however, some specialization was taking place, and this becomes easier to see in Henry III's early years.

It is next to impossible to probe these royal administrators' minds. They left few letters, no personal recollections, and they earned only a few anecdotes—mainly hostile—in the chronicles. For a number of years, I have been studying a group of fifty-two of these men, whose careers span the last third of the twelfth and the first third of the thirteenth centuries, chosen first chiefly because of their connection with the work of royal justice. They form a representative sample, ranging in rank from the justiciar to knights of the counties, from archbishops to men in minor orders, including roughly equal numbers of clergy and laity. They range from close associates of the king to largely local officials (see Appendix I).

Hide All

This is a revised and expanded version of a paper given at the Southeastern Medieval Association annual meeting, Charlottesville, Virginia, 8 October 1983.

Hide All

page 2 note 1 Colvin, Howard M., The White Canons in England (Oxford, 1951), p. 159.

page 2 note 2 Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales (London, 1971), p. 153.

page 2 note 3 Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. “Norwich, Ralph de”; for added details see Meekings, C.A.F., ed., The 1235 Surrey eyre, Surrey Record Society 31 (1979), 1:224.

page 2 note 4 Alexander, James W., Ranulf of Chester, a Relic of the Conquest (Athens, Ga., 1983), pp. 3742.

page 3 note 5 Colvin, pp. 36-38; Cheney, C.R., Hubert Walter (London, 1967), p. 28; Dickinson, John C., The Origins of the Austin Canons and their Introduction into England (London, 1950), pp. 125–30; Mortimer, Richard, “Religious and secular motives for some English monastic foundations,” in Baker, Derek, ed., Religious Motivation: Biographical and Sociological Problems for the Church Historian, Studies in Church History 15 (Oxford, 1978): 8384.

page 3 note 6 Geraldi Cambrensis Opera, ed. Brewer, J.S., Rolls Series (18611891), 4:144–45.

page 3 note 7 Mortimer, Richard, ed., Leiston Abbey Cartulary and Butley Priory Charters, Suffolk Record Society, Suffolk Charters (1979), 1:7677.

page 3 note 8 Dugdale, William, Monasticon Anglicanum, 6 vols. in 9 (new ed.; London, 1846), 5:678; Oliver, George, Monasticon diocesis Exoniensis (Exeter, 1846), pp. 393, 396–97.

page 3 note 9 Colvin, p. 135; Young, Charles R., Hubert Walter (Durham, N.C., 1968), p. 159.

page 3 note 10 Knowles and Hadcock, p. 122; Meekings, C.A.F., “The Early Years of Netley Abbey,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 30 (1979): 12, reprinted in Studies in 13th Century Justice and Administration (London, 1981).

page 4 note 11 Hinnebusch, W.A., The Early English Friars Preachers (Rome, 1951), pp. 2021.

page 4 note 12 Knowles and Hadcock, p. 218; Hinnebusch, pp. 3, 443.

page 4 note 13 Hinnebusch, p. 107; Knowles and Hadcock, p. 219.

page 4 note 14 Monasticon, 6(2): 974–75.

page 4 note 15 See Appendix II. Confusion about the number results because Peter des Roches refounded St. Thomas Hospital, Southwark, at a new location (Knowles and Hadcock, p. 393). Is this a new foundation? Geoffrey fitz Peter granted land to William of Wrotham for the purpose of founding the hospital at Sutton at Hone, Kent (ibid., p. 396). Is Geoffrey founder? Clay, Rotha Mary, The Medieval Hospitals of England (London, 1909), p. 229, lists him as co-founder.

page 4 note 16 See Clay, passim; and Kealey, Edward J., Medieval Medicus, A Social History of Anglo-Norman Medicine (Baltimore, 1981).

page 4 note 17 For hospital building in 12th-century Italy, see Becker, Marvin, Medieval Italy, Constraints and Creativity (Bloomington, Ind., 1982), p. 101.

page 5 note 18 Young, Charles R., “King John of England: An Illustration of the Medieval Practice of Charity,” Church History 29 (1960): 270–72. See also Hyams, Paul R., Kings, Lords and Peasants in Medieval England: The Common Law of Villeinage in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries (Oxford, 1980), p. 261.

page 5 note 19 E.g. Radulphi de Diceto opera historica, ed. Stubbs, William, Rolls Series (1876), 1:415, describing Richard of Ilchester's work as viceroy in Normandy; or the abbot of Reading's description of Hubert Walter as a young judge, Constable, Giles, “An Unpublished Letter by Abbot Hugh II of Reading,” Essays in Medieval History Presented to Bertie Wilkinson, ed. Sandquist, T. A. and Powicke, M.R. (Toronto, 1969), pp. 2931.

page 5 note 20 Turner, Ralph V., The King and His Courts: The Role of John and Henry 111 in the Administration of Justice, 1199-1240 (Ithaca, N.Y., 1968), pp. 155–56.

page 5 note 21 Knowles and Hadcock, p. 404.

page 5 note 22 Young, , Hubert Walter, p. 163. William Briwerre gave a manor to Mottisfont Priory to provide food and shelter for four paupers, Monasticon, 6(1): 481.

page 5 note 23 Register of the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin, ed. Gilbert, John T., Rolls Series (1889), pp. 294–95, no. 341.

page 6 note 24 Cheney, Mary G., ed., The Letters of Innocent III (Oxford, 1967), p. 205, no. 633.

page 6 note 25 E.g. Hubert Walter's gift of a chasuble to the celebrant at mass on his visit to the Carthusians of Witham, Thompson, E. Margaret, The Carthusian Order in England (London, 1930), pp. 7476. Also William Briwerre gave the abbey of Prémontré two silver chalices (Colvin, pp. 152-53). Adam fitz William gave St. Albans a silk cloth (Matthaei Parisiensis Chronica Majora, ed. Luard, H.R., Rolls Series [18721884], 6: 390).

page 6 note 26 Mason, Emma, “Timeo barones et donas ferentes,” in Baker, Derek, ed., Religious motivation, p. 68.

page 7 note 27 Geoffrey fitz Peter made a gift in return for their commemoration of his mother's obit, Westminster Abbey Muniment Book 11, f. 492b; the bishop of Winchester gave two churches to the infirmary, ff. 570b-571.

page 7 note 28 Gervers, Michael, ed., Cartulary of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem in England, British Academy, Records of social and economic history, new series 6 (Oxford, 1982), p. 135, no. 216.

page 7 note 29 E.g. Thomas of Moulton gave all his land and buildings in Boston to the nuns of Bullington (Stenton, F.M., Transcripts of charters Relating to Gilbertine Houses, Lincoln Record Soc., 18 [1922]: 95, no. 10; 99, no. 22). Simon of Pattishhall gave a house and land at Stamford, Lines, to Abbey, Pipewell (Calendar of Charter Rolls, Public Record Office [1903—], 1: 205). Geoffrey fitz Peter gave Shouldham Priory twelve London shops (Victoria County History, Norfolk, 2: 412).

page 7 note 30 Kemp, Brian R., “Monastic Possession of Parish Churches in England in the Twelfth Century,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 31 (1980): 134–35.

page 7 note 31 This was true of the Clares, J.C. Wood, “Fashions in monastic endowment: the foundations of the Clare family, 1066-1314,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 32 (1981): 446. William Briwerre showed little interest in his father's convent of Polsloe.

page 8 note 32 Monasticon, 4: 140; see Wood's, Susan account of the conflict, English Monasteries and their Patrons in the Thirteenth Century (Oxford, 1955), pp. 167–70.

page 8 note 33 Monasticon, 6(2): 974; BL Add. MS. 29,436, ff. 31v-32. Others' gifts: Hubert de Burgh to Walsingham Priory, his mother's resting place; William de Warenne to Lewes Priory, where his father died a monk; Roger fitz Reinfrid to St. Mary Clerkenwell, burial site for his wife and mother; Robert of Lexington to Rufford, his father's burial-place; and Thomas of Moulton to Spalding, site of his grandfather's grave.

page 8 note 34 Coxford Cartulary, Norfolk and Norwich Record Office, SUN/8, nos. 41-52, 467. His mother was buried in the church of Thorpe Market, Norf., which he had given to the canons.

page 8 note 35 Clay, C.T., ed., Early Yorkshire Charters, 8, Honour of Warenne, Yorks Archaeological Society, Record Series, extra Series (1949), p. 32; Victoria County History, Norfolk, 2: 128. William Briwerre did provide funds in order that two sisters-in-law could become nuns at Polsloe (P.R.O. DL 36/2/127).

page 9 note 36 Monasticon, 6(1): 169, 171.

page 9 note 37 Holdsworth, C.H., Rufford Charters, Thoroton Society, Record Series, 29 (Nottingham, 1972), 1: xciiixcv.

page 9 note 38 For Peter des Roches' burial, Matthew Paris, 3:489; for Peter, Geoffrey fitz, Monasticon, 4: 140; Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds, Public Record Office (London, 18901915), 2: 91, 93.

page 9 note 39 Monasticon, 6(2): 916. The lord of the land he gave at Riseholm, Lincs, was Ralph de Haia (Knowles and Hadcock, p. 185).

page 9 note 40 Monasticon, 6(1): 457.

page 9 note 41 Complete Peerage, 2: 596601. For his death, see Matthew Paris, 4:169. For the abbot's charter, see Nichols, John, The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester (London, 17951815), 2(1): 115.

page 10 note 42 Hallam, Elizabeth M., “Henry II, Richard I and the Order of Grandmont,” Journal of Medieval History 1 (1975): 165–86; and Henry II as a founder of monasteries,” Journal of Ecclesiastical History 28, (1977): 113–32.

page 10 note 43 Martin, M.T., Percy Chartulary, Surtees Society, 117 (1909): 381–82.

page 10 note 44 Annales Monastici, ed. Luard, H.R., Rolls Series (18641869), 4: 409, 418).

page 10 note 45 E.g. William Briwerre gave specific lands and rents to Mottisfont Priory for his and his wife's anniversaries (Monasticon, 6(1): 481). See also Sheehan, Michael M., The Will in Medieval England (Toronto, 1963), pp. 231-32, 259–62.

page 10 note 46 For Osbert fitz Hervey, see the Vision of Thurkill,” Ward, H.L.D., ed., Journal of the British Archaeological Association 31 (1875): 452–53. For Geoffrey Ridel, see Radulphi de Diceto opera, 2: 68.

page 11 note 47 Gesta Abbatum monasterii S. Albani, ed. Riley, H.T., Rolls Series (18671869), 1: 329–30.

page 11 note 48 Ninth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical MSS. (London, 18831884), 1: 26, 49a, D & C St. Paul's.

page 11 note 49 Young, , Hubert Walter, p. 166.

page 11 note 50 Others were P. archdeacon of Winchester and Luke des Roches, archdeacon of Surrey, Meekings, , “Netley Abbey,” p. 1. King John addressed letters to Geoffrey fitz Peter's executors, but the close rolls do not record their names, Rotuli litterarum clausarum, Record Commission (18331834), 1: 154b, 162b.

page 11 note 51 Calendar of Liberate Rolls, Public Record Office (1917—), 2: 242. Calendar of Documents Relating to Ireland, ed. Sweetman, H.S. and Handcock, G.F. (London, 18751886), 1: 45. The executor of Hugh Bardolf's will was another royal official (Reginald of Cornhill, Pipe Roll 6 John, p. 212).

page 11 note 52 Hackett, Maria, ed., Registrum eleemosynariae D. Pauli Londoniensis (London, 1827), p. xlviii. Fitz Neal also left a cope, two reliquaries, and two pastoral staffs to St. Paul's (Brooke, C.N.L. and Kier, Gillian, London 800-1216: The Shaping of the City [Berkeley, Calif., 1975], p. 272). Eustace de Fauconberg, bishop of London, also left a will, although its terms are not known (Close Rolls Henry III, 1227-31, Public Record Office [1902], pp. 5659).

page 11 note 53 Radulphi de Coggeshall Chronicon Anglicanum, ed. Stevenson, J., Rolls Series (1875), pp. 156–59; Young, , Hubert Walter, pp. 162–63.

page 12 note 54 Gervase of Canterbury: Historical Works, ed. Stubbs, William, Rolls Series (18791880), 2: 98, 413–14.

page 12 note 55 Chronica Majora, 4: 169.

page 12 note 56 For de Lucy, Richard, Dickinson, J.C., “The English Regular Canons and the Continent in the Twelfth Century,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, fifth series, 1 (1951): 85; and Oliver, , Monasticon dioc. Exon., p. 393.

page 12 note 57 Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. “William of Sainte-Mère-Eglise.”

page 12 note 58 Oliver, , Monasticon Exon., p. 53.

page 12 note 59 Godfrey de Lucy rebuilt the eastern end of Winchester Cathedral, adding the Lady Chapel, Monasticon, 1: 196. John of Oxford completed construction of Norwich Cathedral and built an infirmary for the monks, Bartholomaei de Cotton Historia Anglicana, ed. Luard, H.R., Rolls Series (1859), p. 393. Richard fitz Neal watched over construction at Paul's, St., Ralph of Coggeshall, p. 89. Henry of London built the nave of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and in his last years began raising funds to rebuild St. Patrick's Church as a cathedral, Aubrey Gwynn and Hadcock, R. Neville, Medieval Religious Houses, Ireland (London, 1970), pp. 72, 171.

page 13 note 60 Cazel, Fred A., “Religious Motivation in the Biography of Hubert de Burgh,” in Religious Motivation, ed. Baker, Derek, pp. 115–16, citing P.R.O., Anc. Correspondence SC 1/6 101.

page 13 note 61 Close Rolls Henry III, 1231-34, Public Record Office (1905), p. 161. Henry III ordered Hubert's psalter taken away from him.

page 17 note * Appendix II relies chiefly on Clay, Rotha Mary, The Medieval Hospitals of England (London, 1909); Dugdale, William, Monasticon Anglicanum (London, 1846); Gwynn, Aubrey and Hadcock, R. Neville, Medieval Religious Houses, Ireland (London, 1970); and Knowles, David and Hadcock, R. Neville, Medieval Religious Houses, England and Wales (London, 1971).

page 18 note 1 Luffield Priory Charters, ed. Elvey, G. R., jt. pubns. of Northants Record Soc. and Bucks Record Soc., 18 (1975), 2: nos. 396, 397.

page 18 note 2 B.L. MS. Harl. 742, ff. 95d-96d.

page 18 note 3 Westminster Abbey Muniments Book 11, f. 492b.

page 18 note 4 Ibid., ff. 570-571.

page 18 note 5 Complete Peerage, 9: 401, note ‘c’.

page 18 note 6 Dugdale, , Monasticon, 6(2): 974.

page 18 note 7 Cheney and Cheney, Letters of Innocent III, no. 862.

page 18 note 8 The Beaulieu Cartulary, ed. Hockey, S.F., Southampton Records Ser., 17 (1974): no. 146.

page 18 note 9 Monasticon, 5: 340–41.

page 18 note 10 Monasticon, 5: 732–33.

page 18 note 11 Dugdale, William, The Baronage of England (London, 16751676), p. 672.

page 18 note 12 Monasticon, 5:556.

page 18 note 13 Complete Peerage, 9: 401, note ‘c’.

page 18 note 14 Cal. Charter Rolls, 1: 205.

page 18 note 15 Rufford Charters, 1: xciiixcv.

page 18 note 16 Cal. Charter Rolls, 2: 52.

page 18 note 17 Cal. Charter Rolls, 3: 430.

page 18 note 18 Cartulary of Holy Trinity, Aldgate, ed. Hodgett, G.A.J., London Record Soc. Pubns., 7 (1971): no. 1004.

page 18 note 19 Cal. Charter Rolls, 4: 29.

page 18 note 20 Coxford Cartulary, no. 167.

page 18 note 21 B.L. MS. Harl. 662, f. 62.

page 19 note 22 Coxford Cartulary, nos. 41-52, 467.

page 19 note 23 Knowles and Hadcock, p. 161.

page 19 note 24 Farrer, William, Honors and Knights' Fees, (London, 19231925), 2: 310.

page 19 note 25 Fourteenth Report of the Royal Comm. on Hist. MSS., app. 8, p. 194.

page 19 note 26 Monasticon, 6: 457.

page 19 note 27 kentish Cartulary of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, ed. Cotton, Charles, Kent Archaeol. Soc., Kent Records (1930), p. 77.

page 19 note 28 Cal. Charter Rolls, 2: 52.

page 19 note 29 Rufford Charters, 1: xcv.

page 19 note 30 Ancient Charters, ed. Round, J.H., Pipe Roll Soc., 10 (1888): no. 66.

page 19 note 31 Monasticon, 6: 169, 171.

page 19 note 32 Register of St. Thomas, Dublin, Rolls Series, no. 341.

page 19 note 33 Monasticon, 6: 74.

page 19 note 34 Cal. Charter Rolls, 2: 390.

page 19 note 35 Cartulary of Dale Abbey, ed. Saltman, Avrom, Derbys Archaeol. Soc. and Historical MSS. Comm. (1966), pp. 359–60.

page 19 note 36 Monasticon, 6(2): 942.

page 19 note 37 Cal. Charter Rolls, 4: 71.

page 19 note 38 Colvin, , White canons, pp. 6869.

page 19 note 39 Matt. Paris, Chronica Majora, 4: 243–44.

page 19 note 40 Gervers, ed., Cart. of Knights of St. John in England, no. 216.

page 19 note 41 Curia Regis Rolls, Public Record Office (1923—), 9: 2627.

page 19 note 42 English Register of the Godstow nunnery, ed. Clark, Andrew, E.E.T.S. orig. ser., 142 (1911): nos. 86, 249–51.

page 20 note 43 Monasticon, 4: 399.

page 20 note 44 Early Yorks Charters, 8: 32.

page 20 note 45 Cal. Charter Rolls, 4: 394.

page 20 note 46 Cal. Charter Rolls, 4: 393, 397; B.L. MS. Cott. Claud., D iii, f. 146v.

page 20 note 47 Stenton, ed., Charters Relating to Gilbertine Houses, nos. 10, 22.

page 20 note 48 Cartulary of St. Mary Clerkenwell, ed. Hassell, W.O., Royal Hist. Soc. Camden Ser., 3rd Ser., 71 (1949): nos. 101, 105.

page 20 note 49 Gwyn and Hadcock, p. 317.

* This is a revised and expanded version of a paper given at the Southeastern Medieval Association annual meeting, Charlottesville, Virginia, 8 October 1983.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0095-1390
  • EISSN: -
  • URL: /core/journals/albion
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed