Preston Charters, Continued

April 7, 2020 in Anniversary, Manuscript Studies, Uncategorized

Preston Charters, Continued

Charters 6 & 9

Preston Charter 7 Seal Face with the name Gilbertus. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 7 Seal.

Following our 2 previous blogposts on a group of single-sheet charters in Latin on vellum from Preston in Suffolk, England, now in a private collection, we advance with further reports about them.

Those first 2 blogposts, Full Court Preston and Preston Take 2, focused upon 2 of the group.  They considered Charters ‘1’ and ‘2’ (as we first called them), or Charters 7 and 5 in the present owner’s numbering system entered upon the dorse of each document.  Those blogposts provided detailed photographs and descriptions of the documents, transcriptions and translations of their texts, and observations about their characteristics and contexts.

Here we focus upon Charters 6 and 9.  (Remember, Charter 8 is lost or mislaid.)

First we survey the Preston group, which comprises a series with modern numbering from 5 to 13.  Then we consider these two documents, one by one.

The Group

Sign for the Portobello Road, W11, London

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Church_at_Preston_St_Mary_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1598436.jpg

Church at Preston St Mary. Photograph by Andrew Hill via Wikimedia Creative Commons

The owner purchased the group in a bag, in the 1980s in London, probably — according to his recollection — in the Portobello Road, a renowned location of markets and shops of many kinds, including used goods, curiousities, and antiquities.  The group has his consecutive series of modern Arabic numbers, running from 5 to 13.  The individual number stands in black ink at the top left corner of the dorse (or back) of each document.

Of that original group of 9, only 8 documents survive in the group, preserved within a notebook for the English charter materials in the collection.  Charter 8 went missing or mislaid after a class some years ago — considerably before the group came into our view.  Consequently, we know only of Charters 5–7 and 9–13, until Charter 8 might return to view.

Our survey of the group progresses in pairs, more-or-less chronologically.  The first 3 documents (Charters 5, 6, and 7) are undated, so that an assessment of their probable dating depends upon stylistic features of the script, orthographic features, and other evidence both internal and contextual.  The others (Charters 9–13) carry their dates, to the regnal year and sometimes to the very day.

The pair under consideration here has one of each, respectively undated and dated.

Group Portrait

With the full group set out for examination, we offer their photographs from the back and the front (as in Preston Take 2).  These group portraits demonstrate at a glance the varied sizes and shapes of the different charters, their styles of presentation, the shapes of their pendant tags, and the presence or otherwise of seals attesting to their authentication.

Seen from the Dorse

Preston Charters Dorses. Photograph Mildred Budny. Numbers added to the photograph report the present owner's numbering for the set, from 5 to 7 and 9 to 13.

Preston Charters Dorses. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Private Collection, Preston Charters: Dorse with Guide. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charters: Dorse with Guide. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Seen from the Face

Preston Charters Dorses. Photograph Mildred Budny. Numbers added to the photograph report the present owner's numbering for the set, from 5 to 7 and 9 to 13.

Preston Charters Faces. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Private Collection, Group of 8 Preston Charters: Faces Forward. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Private Collection, Group of 8 Preston Charters: Faces Forward. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Features of the Sheets and Their Appendages

Each document turns the hair side of the animal skin outward and the flesh side inward, so that the smoother writing surface may take and hold the text.

Each document has a mostly bare dorse, but for the owner’s modern inventory numbers in black ink and the sparse medieval or later docketing inscriptions.  The face of the sheet is filled with the text of the transaction, laid out in a single column of long lines.  The numbers of lines vary between 9 (Charter 9), 12 (3 charters), 13 (2 charters), 14 (Charter 11), and 16 (Charter 5) lines.

The documents in the set exhibit certain differences, including variations in size and shape.  All of them are wider than tall.  6 of them have more-or-less rectangular shapes, while 2 have rippled upper edges.

The rippled upper edges of Charters 12 and 13 correspond to the ‘chirographic’ method of producing an interlocking, and thereby identifiably identical, set of charter-plus-copy (or multiple copies), for distribution to the different parties to the transaction in question.  For such a Chirograph, copied in duplicate (or more) upon a single sheet, the cut between them takes the form of a wavy or jagged edge.  Such might allow the copies to be matched physically, as a safeguard against forgery, were their comparison become necessary under challenge.

Each document has a forward-facing fold at the bottom of its face.  Each has a pendant tag of vellum.  Some tags retain their wax seals, or parts thereof.  One has a cloth pouch to protect the seal (however, now lost).  At least 1 of the tags comprises a reused strip of already-written, and discarded, vellum.

Folds, Tags, Seals & More

In preparing each document, as customary for such materials, the more-or-less rectangular sheet of vellum was folded horizontally once near the bottom, producing a flap or fold which turns inward to the side of the leaf intended to carry the text — usually the flesh side of the skin.  Sometimes there is writing within that fold, sometimes not.  The Fold sometimes partly hides the last line of the document (Charters 5, 6, 9, 10), demonstrating that the folding took place after the document had been written.  After all, its purpose principally concerned the actualization of the Tag and the pendant Seal.

Around the flap, more or less at its center along the bottom edge of the document

kupbezrecepty.com

, a narrow strip of vellum is laced through a pair of horizontal slits (made across the flap and in the foldline) to form a looped or tied tail or tag.  Sometimes this strip carries a seal of colored wax impressed or pressed in some way onto its extension from the document.  In some cases, the seal survives to some extent (Charters 7, 12, and 13).   One case (Charter 5) retains the old, and perhaps original, cloth pouch designed to protect the seal, but the seal itself has disappeared following its removal through one or other hole in the cloth at both top and bottom.

The patterns of fold-lines and stains on each document demonstrate that, after completion with their written and attested texts, the single sheets were folded into smaller, block-like units, in which they were stored for a considerable period or periods of time. Mostly the sheets were folded horizontally once or twice, and then vertically into thirds, forming flaps to be turned over, one after the other, and presenting as the front of the unit the centered block at the base of the document, from which extends the vellum tail, with an optional seal.  Brief docketing inscriptions are written in ink on the dorse, within that centered block and/or elsewhere.

One by One

Our earlier blogposts considered Charters 5 and 7 as a pair:  Full Court Preston and Preston Take 2.  This post considers Charters 6 and 9 as a pair.

Charter 5

See Full Court Preston and Preston Take 2.

Charter 6

Undated Deed of Sale of Land in Preston
by Richard, Son of Galfrid Pecthe
to Thomas, son of Symon Purte of Preston

Probably Last Quarter of the 13th Century (See Below)

Face, unfolded, of Document Number 6 in a group from Preston, UK. Reproduced by permission.

Preston Charter 6 Face

The single sheet document, plus added tag which laces through its lower flap, turns the hair side of the animal skin outward and the flesh side inward, so that the smoother writing surface may take and hold the text.  Various rust-burns mar the sheet; a couple of them have eaten holes through it.

Written by a single hand, the text records a single transaction for the transfer of “one plot of arable land” in Preston from “Richard, son of Galfrid Pecthe, to Thomas, son of Symon Purte of Preston”.

Dorse

As seen in natural light and incandescent light respectively:

Dorse of the Document and its crumpled tag. Photography by Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 6 Dorse. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 6 Dorse. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Face

Face, unfolded, of Document Number 6 in a group from Preston, UK. Reproduced by permission.Inside the Fold

No script is visible within the foldline, although lifting the fold reveals in full the last line of the document, which ends with a series of horizontal flourishes connected by jagged lines.

Preston Charter 6 Face, with Fold partly lifted. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 6 Face, with Fold partly lifted. Photograph Mildred Budny.

The text begins:

[Line 1]

Sciant presentes et futuri quod ego Richard, filius Galfridi Pecthe concessi dedi et presens carta mea confirmavi Thomi filius Symoni /

Purte de Prestone pro homagio et servicio suo et pro decem solidi argenti quos mihi dedit permanibus unam peciam terre arabilam cum partem /

suis in prestano . . .

That is,

Let all present and future persons know that I, Richard, son of Galfrid Pecthe, have conceded, given, and confirmed, by this present charter of mine, to Thomas, son of Symon Purte of Preston, for his homage and service and for 10 silver shillings which he has given to me, one parcel of arable land, with its appurtenances, in Preston . .  .

Detail of mid-section of lines 1-5 on Document Number 6 in a group from Preston, UK. Reproduced by permission.

The Personal Names

Identifying the named individuals from other sources should proceed with caution.  The presence of the same name in more than one record does not necessarily indicate the same person — given the scattered survival patterns or accessibility of records, the popularity of some names, the use of the same name across generations in a family or across families, and many other factors.

Where the record is undated, as with Charter 6, a selection among potential candidates for the identification would depend upon the probable or likely date-span of the record, the known or presumed date-span and geographical sphere(s) of the individual’s activity, and related issues.  The problem may be compounded when the comparable record(s) themselves are not precisely dated or located.

See below for an assessment of the date of this Charter based on comparable examples in dated or datable English manuscripts and documents.

Meanwhile, here are some records for names resembling those in the document.

The list of witnesses to the document begins with Hugh de Batefford (line 10).  One Hugh de Batesford of Suffolk witnessed a grant to William de Valence (1225–1296), lord of Pembroke (TNA E 40/3964 = The National Archives).  Perhaps this is the same witness?

Next in line is Henrico Gorge (lines 10–11).  This name appears in the list for Vilatta de Lydgate in Risbridge Hundred among the Subsidy Returns for Suffolk in 1327.  Too late in date?

Third is Galfrid Pechte (line 11), presumably the same person named as the father of the buyer in the opening of the text (line 1).  There are recorded 2 individuals named Galfrid Peche, father and son; the former (second son of Hamon Peche the elder) is remembered as a donor to Barnwell Priory in Cambridgeshire.  Depending upon the date(?) of that record, maybe one or other is “our” Galfrid?

Among the names are Roger Aleyn (line 11). A record (TNA C 241/126/83), dated 13 October 1349, names as debtor a William, son of Roger Aleyn, of Stokesby, in the East-Flegg Hundred, Norfolk.  If the date-range is right, could this William be a son of “our” Roger Aleyn?

Following Roger is Thomas Fabro (line 11). Might he be the same individual listed in the Northamptonshire Tax Assessment for 1301 for Fawlsley Hundred, in the Villata de Stavertone (Staverton)?  Tempting.

As more medieval records for England become transcribed and available for viewing online, perhaps these and the other names might become identified more clearly through the patterns of their attestations, travels, spheres of activity, and interconnections.

Meanwhile, let’s look at the probable date-range of the script of the document.

Docketing

Written apparently by the same hand as the document within, this inscription identifies the object as the Carta Ricardi Pecthe scti’ Thome / Purte.  Between the names, the abbreviation s[an]cti (“Saint”), if such it is, seems to be a mistake.  Ain’t no Saint.

879 = No 6 docketing inscription

Preston, Pure & Simple

Sideways at the right-hand side of the dorse, there stands the inscription in lighter brown ink by a different, rapid hand:  Preston.  A horizontal flourish extends from the raised ‘tail’ of the final –n.

Single-word Docketing inscription added to the back of Document 6 from Preston. Reproduced by permission.

The Script of the Document and Its Probable Date

The cursive script of the document is Anglicana Formata, developed mainly for documents and employed also for rapid book-hands.  The classic textbook is M. B. Parkes, English Cursive Book Hands, 1250–1500 (Oxford, 1969).  Distinctive features of the script, which “had emerged by the middle of the thirteenth century”, with some calligraphic refinements as the century progressed, include these:

Two-compartment a, with a large upper lobe extending about the general level of the other letters; d with a looped ascender; f and long-s in which the stem descends below the line of writing, curves to the left at the foot, and is frequently followed by a connecting stroke rising to the head of the letter; ‘8’-shaped two-compartment g; long-tailed r; and a cursive version of short-s based upon the capital form.  (Parkes, pages xiv—xv).

Specimens similar to Preston Charter 6 appear in:

  • Parkes’s plates 4(i) on pages 4—5 (dated “1297”) and 16(i) on pages 16—17 (“end of the thirteenth century”).
  • Andrew G.Watson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 435—1600 in Oxford Libraries (Oxford, 2 volumes, 1984), Vol. II, plates 140 and 145 = Vol. I, Nos. 556 (page 91) and 145 (page 112), identified respectively as “England, after 1293” and “England, after 1297”.
  • P. R. Robinson, Catalogue of Dated and Datable Manuscripts c. 737—1600 in Cambridge Libraries (Cambridge, 2 volumes, 1988), Vol. II, plates 123(a) and 129 = Vol. I, Nos. 20 and 49 (pages 26—27 and 33), identified respectively as “England, betw. 1280 & 1289” and “England, betw. 1300 & 1317”.

Versions similar to Preston Charter 6 appear in some dated charters.  Examples available, with images and transcriptions, in the D. E. E. D. S Project — an enterprise “devoted largely to the study of the medieval English property exchange documents, or charters” — include 2 single-sheet charters, both dated 1283, from Norwich:

University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Cartulary Number 0181 (a collection of 190 Fragments on Vellum, including 26 charters), from Norwich, Norfolk, England

University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Cartulary Number 0181, Charter Number 01810056. Feast of the Ascension, 1283.

University of Toronto, Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, Cartulary Number 0181, Charter Number 01810056. Feast of the Ascension, 1283.

Such cases provide contexts for the probable date of Charter 6.  To judge by the script, it seems appropriate to assign to it a date of about the last quarter of the 13th century.

Charter 7

See Full Court Preston and Preston Take 2

Charter 9

Deed of Sale of “Arable” Land in Preston
Dated
8 Ed. II (8 July 1314 – 7 July 1315)
More Particularly, On the Feast-day of Some or Other (Partly Indecipherable) Virgin Saint
From Alice, Daughter of Richard of Otelye
To Gwyndon de Mortuomar and Alicia, His Wife, and John, His Son

The dorse of the document carries several inscriptions entered at various dates.  Standing somewhat to left of center about midway down the sheet, a brief note states the regnal date of “8 Ed. II”, written in black ink with a narrow nib — apparently by the same hand as the modern seller’s inventory number at top left.  According to the Regnal Calendar, this 8th year in the reign of King Edward II corresponds to the span between 8 July 1314 and 7 July 1315.

879 Document 9 back

Or, under incandescent light:

Preston Charter 9 Dorse. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 9 Dorse. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston, Pure & Simple But Not So Very Clear

Sideways at the right-hand side, there stands an inscription in light brown ink in the same location, with the same identifier, and apparently by the same annotator as for Charter 6 (see above):  Preston, here ending with an upward flourish of the pen leading to an extended descending stroke which trails to a hairline tip.

Single-word Docketing inscription added to the back of Document 9 from Preston. Reproduced by permission.

The other inscriptions on the dorse comprise

1) a modern note scribbled in pencil below the more carefully written modern regnal date: “Ed 2”, citing the king in question but not his year.

2) a set of letters to the right, written in brown ink, probably as a pen-trial, by an untutored and probably medieval hand.

Face

At the front, the Fold bears the date “1314” in modern numbering in pencil at the lower right.

Preston Charter 9 Face. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 9 Face. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Inside the Fold and the Tag

Lifting the fold reveals the full extent of the last line of the document.  The inner fold-line seems to carry no script.  The 2 ends of the tag are twisted together partway down their length, but there is no seal, and presumably never was.

Preston Charter 9 Face, with partly lifted Fold. Photograph Mildred Budny.

Preston Charter 9 Face, with partly lifted Fold. Photograph Mildred Budny.

The Sheet Itself

Preston Charter 9 Face.

Preston Charter 9 Face.

Not a stunningly skilled scribe, to put it mildly.

Another View

Preston Charter 9 Face.

Preston Charter 9 Face.

The text begins and ends thus:

Sciant presentes et future quod ego A[li]cia filia Ricardi de Otelye concessi dedi et hac presentes carta mea confirmavi /

Gydoni de Mortuomari et Alicie uxor sue et Johannes filio dicti Gydonis et heredibus dicti Johannis . . . sex aras terre que . . .

. . . six acres of land which . . .

date festinum / sanctae ???riae virginis Anno Regni regis Edwardi fili Regis Edwardi octavo.

That is,

Let all present and future persons know that I, Alicia, daughter of Richard of Otelye have conceded, given, and, by this present charter of mine, confirmed, six acres of land to Gydon of Mortuomar and Alicia, his wife, and John, son of the foresaid Gydon, and the heirs of the said John . . .

. . .

The feast-day of Saint [???] the Virgin in the 8th regnal year of King Edward, son of King Edward.

The scribe’s crowded letters at the beginning of the saint’s name might not only provide a challenge to decipherment but also demonstrate confusion at the time as to which saint’s day pertained.

Whose Feast Day?

We invite your improved readings with this close-up.

Preston Charter 9 Face, Lower Left.

Preston Charter 9 Face, Lower Left.

The candidate for the identity of the virgin saint, and thence her feast day, may be found in one or other of these alphabetical lists:  List of Saints and List of Early Christian Saints (before 450 CE).  I look forward to your recommendation as to which one is intended.

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More research might identify one or more of the vendors, buyers, and witnesses of these 2 charters.  Also the Virgin Saint on whose Feast Day was issued Charter 9.

For now, we introduce the documents as a spur toward such investigations.  Would you like to join the quest?

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We look forward to your suggestions.  Comments are welcome here.  You can also reach us via Contact Us or our Facebook Page.

Next we consider more of the charters in the Preston group.  Watch this space.

[Now see: Charter the Course.]

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