Sunday, August 20, 2017

Stone houses in the medieval Ormond Deeds

Stone houses in the medieval Ormond Deeds

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

The medieval landscape as we see it today can be misleading. The strong stone built castles of the thirteenth century along with the stone tower houses of the fifteenth and sixteenth century mixed with the stone churches and abbeys gives the idea that the elite lived in stone structures and the ordinary people were in mud and timber houses. But scattered across the medieval landscape are references to stone houses that are not the homes of the elite. We may venture to call their occupants upper middle class or lower upper class but they certainly were not the great territorial lords.

The Ormond deeds preserved at Kilkenny castle and now at the National Library of Ireland contain references to stone houses across the Ormond lordship and not always in the land of peace. This article recounts some of these stone houses that were built in both urban and rural settings across the Earldom.

Kells, Co. Kilkenny

The borough town of Kells in Co. Kilkenny was of modest size compared to other medieval towns with about 71 burgages. Early charters of William FitzGeoffrey allow the burgesses to have timber from the lord’s woods to help build their houses of timber, mud, clay and a sprinkling of stone.[1] Yet in the midst of the Kells town was a substantial stone house that features in a number of deeds. In March 1332 John Trumpour of Kells granted to William son of Richard Coterel a great stone house in the midst of Kells together with an empty tenement adjoining. This property had been granted to John Trumpour for life by Arnold le Poer.[2]

Later in August 1332 John Trumpour issues a new grant to William Coterel of the great stone house in the midst of the town of Kells together with the vacant plot adjacent to it. This grant was for the life of William Coterel.[3] In the following month (September 1332) Eustace son of Arnold le Poer granted to William Coterel all his claim in a great stone house in the mid-street of Kells together with the empty residence near adjoining.[4]

In November 1333 Eustace son of Arnold le Poer sealed a deed whereby he guaranteed that if William Coterel was impleaded or disturbed in his possession of a stone house with a tenement in Kells then Eustace would pay William one hundred pounds of silver. The potential people who could disturb William Coterel were cited as Eustace le Poer and his brother, John son of Arnold le Poer.[5]
In 1337 William son of Richard Coterel granted to Perceval his son, the great stone house in the midst of the town of Kells which William had by gift of Eustace son of Arnold le Poer. Perceval Coterel was to hold the house for life by the yearly service of forty shillings.[6]

A stone tower on the boundary wall of Kells priory

Callan, Co. Kilkenny

A few miles down the road from Kells is the medieval town of Callan. This town like many others had its numerous timber houses yet it also had at least one stone building. In 1401 the Earl of Ormond received 2d in rent from Edward Perers, knight, for a stone house in Callan that was formerly held by Adam Norragh.[7]

Carrickmacgriffin, Co. Tipperary

South from Callan on the lower banks of the River Suir was situated the medieval town of Carrickmacgriffin which today is better known as Carrick-on-Suir. It had a stone house which was owned by a woman of the Irish nation which in medieval terms was a double usual occurrence. In June 1529 Katherine Casshyn, daughter and heiress of William Casshyn, gave to William Maddan, and his wife Joan Walch, a stone house in Carrickmacgriffin (Carrick-on-Suir) situated between the main street on the north and the River Suir on the south and between Katherine’s land on the east and Harry Neyll’s land on the east. William Maddan was to have the stone house for forty years paying 6s 8d in annual rent. In March 1530 Katherine Casshyn and her husband William Riordan renewed the forty year lease to William Maddan of the stone house with garden but now at only 6s rent per year. In January 1536 Katherine Casshyn gave full possession of the stone house with garden to William Madan.[8]

Map of Carrickmacgriffin showing the stone house

Clonmel, Co. Tipperary

Upriver from Carrick-on-Suir was the important medieval town of Clonmel, headquarters of the liberty of Tipperary. Here we have just a passing reference to a stone house in the town of which there could have been other stone houses that didn’t make it into the surviving documents. On 11th November 1388 John Baroun and Alice Lowys his mother, gave a messuage in Clonmel to John Lowys lying between their stone house on the north side and the River Suir on the south side.[9]

Slebogy manor, Co. Tipperary

Having seen stone houses in an urban environment, there are also a number of references to stone houses in rural Co. Tipperary, some built and some proposed to be built. The stone house at Slebogy falls into the latter category. In 1336 Robert son of Henry Crok agreed with the Earl of Ormond that if Robert did not build and inhabit the lands of Slebogy within five years then the Earl had the right to distrain for the agreed rent of eight marks and twelve pence of royal service. It was also agreed that if Robert didn’t build a stone house on the property then the Earl could resume possession of the manor.[10]

A number of medieval deeds relating to a land leases contain a provision for the tenant to build a house upon the land within a specific time period. In April 1417 Archbishop Thomas of Dublin made a lease for fifty years to Thomas Locum of land at Tany by Dundrum. As part of the lease, Thomas Locum was to build a ‘sufficient’ house of stone measuring 18 feet by 26 feet within the walls and 40 feet high below the battlement. If Locum didn’t build the house within the four year period then the Archbishop could re-enter the property and resume possession like at Slbogy.[11]

Near Thurles, Co. Tipperary

In July 1416 Richard Walsh and Philip Walsh, chaplains, said that if John son of William Casse and Hugh Cass gave them twenty-four marks then the chaplains would give them a stone house along with all other messuages, lands, rents and tenements with a rabbit warren, meadows and pastures in Rathsowagh and Lysdowf near Thurles.[12] Unfortunately we are not told in which townland was the stone house situated in.

Le Norragh, Co. Kildare

Beyond the normal areas of the Ormond earldom the surviving documents record other stone houses such as at le Norragh in Co. Kildare. In November 1332 Walter de Veel appointed Nicholas Barbedor his attorney for placing Henry le Veel in full seisin of a stone messuage and twenty acres of land in Le Norragh, Co. Kildare.[13] A stone messuage would suggest the occupant was a middle class person, certainly above the vast majority of ordinary people.

Rosponte

Beyond these examples of stone houses there are other references in the surviving documents to important people who could have had a stone house or two. Sometime before April 1235 the bailiffs of Leinster had retained a plot in the town of the new bridge of Ross with the intention of building a house there for use by Earl of Pembroke. It seems the house was not built or not in the size the builders had hoped for. In April 1235 Gilbert the Marshal, Earl of Pembroke granted to William de Gloucester, burgess of Kilkenny, half the plot for 2 shillings per year.[14] It would be presumed that any house built for the Earl Marshal would be of stone but as the document is silent as to the exact materials used, it would be dangerous to speculate.

Conclusion

The above references are not exclusive to the Ormond deeds. Other medieval archive collections also have references to stone houses and stone messuages.[15]

That stone houses were rare in the medieval landscape is seen by the specific reference to the house been built of stone. For if stone houses were common then it would not make much sense to mention a stone house in a deed when it could be confused with other stone houses in the same area. Maybe someday archaeology could identify some of these stones houses and gives us a better understanding of their size and the type pf people who lived there.

Bibliography

Clyne, M. (ed.), Kells Priory, Co. Kilkenny: archaeological excavations by T. Fanning and M. Clyne (Dublin, 2007)
Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume 1, 1172-1350 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1932)
Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1934)
Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1935)
Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1937)
McNeill, C. (ed.), Calendar of Archbishop Alen’s Register, c.1172-1534 (Dublin, 1950)
Mills, J. & McEnery, M.J. (eds.), Calendar of the Gormanston Register (Dublin, 1916)

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[1] Clyne, M. (ed.), Kells Priory, Co. Kilkenny: archaeological excavations by T. Fanning and M. Clyne (Dublin, 2007), p. 26
[2] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume 1, 1172-1350 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1932), no. 637
[3] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 648
[4] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 649
[5] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 665
[6] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 697
[7] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume II, 1350-1413 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1934), p. 255
[8] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume IV, 1509-1547 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1937), pp. 132, 143, 166
[9] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. II, 1350-1413 A.D., p. 210
[10] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 679
[11] McNeill, C. (ed.), Calendar of Archbishop Alen’s Register, c.1172-1534 (Dublin, 1950), p. 237
[12] Curtis, E. (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, volume III, 1413-1509 A.D. (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1935), p. 14
[13] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 650
[14] Curtis (ed.), Calendar of Ormond Deeds, vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D., no. 86
[15] Mills, J. & McEnery, M.J. (eds.), Calendar of the Gormanston Register (Dublin, 1916), pp. 85, 86, 113, 159; McNeill (ed.), Calendar of Archbishop Alen’s Register, c.1172-1534, pp. 80, 157, 170, 185, 189, 215, 237, 239, 254, 259 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Three 'Anglo-Irish' wives at Westminster, 1278

Three 'Anglo-Irish' wives at Westminster, 1278

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

On 31st October 1278 three wives came from Ireland to England to the court of King Edward I at Westminster. They said it was their intention of staying in England for two years while leaving their husbands back in Ireland. Cicely, wife of William de Fenton, nominated her husband and David de Graham as her attorneys in Ireland for the ensuing two years. Muriel, wife of David de Graham, nominated her husband as attorney for two years along with William de Fenton, while Elizabeth, wife of Andrew de Bosco, nominated her husband and William de Fenton as her Irish attorneys for two years.[1] Who were these women on a mission and can we tell anything more of their life and times?

Finding the three married couples

The three families of Bosco, Fenton and Graham clearly knew and trusted each other but trying to find them in the published medieval records is another matter. A search for any of the families in a good range of publications on medieval Ireland proved unfruitful.[2]

Related sisters
Instead an inquisition post mortem from August 1279 tells us the Cecily (Cecilia), Muriel and Elizabeth were the three daughters and co-heirs of John Byset of Lovat, son and heir of John Byset of Ulster.[3] In 1242 John Byset senior, and his uncle Walter Byset, were accused of murdering Patrick, son of Thomas of Galloway, and were outlawed. They fled to Ulster and were awarded lands around Glenarm in the Glens of Antrim by Hugh de Lacy. These lands were formerly held by Alan of Galloway and the feud between the families continued for many years. In 1252 Alan, son of Thomas, Earl of Athol, killed some men of John Byset in Ireland.[4]

Before his death in 1260, John Byset junior had endowed all his property, mills and rents to his stepmother, Lady Agatha Byset. These lands were two carucates in Dronach, 1 carucate in the vill of the Three Fountains, 40 acres at Milltown, 100 acres at Hacket’s town, 2 carucates at Carlcastel, 80 acres at Carkemechan, 2 carucates at Glenharm along with land at Psallor rented (4 marks per year) from the Bishop of Connor and land at Galactren rented from the Bishop of Derry. John Byset held two thirds of the mills located at Dronach, Carlcastel, Glenharm and Psallor along with the rent of Catherick and other property. John Byset had inherited these lands from his father, John Byset senior.[5]

Journey with a purpose

The journey by the three sisters to Westminster in October 1278 was to petition King Edward to order an inquisition into the lands of John Byset and establish his heirs and who held it after John’s death. The subsequent inquisition post mortem on 7th August 1279 in the vill of Oul before Nicholas, Bishop of Down, and Elias de Berkeway established these lands of John Byset. The inquisition further established that after the death of John Byset in 1260, all his property was taken into the King’s hand and was later granted to Walter de Burgh, Earl of Ulster, as John Byset held his lands in capita from Walter de Burgh. Subsequently, after an inquisition, Earl Walter returned the lands of Psallor to the Bishop of Connor at a rent of 10 marks.[6]

For the three sisters, the 1279 inquisition found them to be the rightful heirs.[7] Another document stated that Cecily de Fenton was the eldest daughter and that Muriel de Graham was the youngest. On about the 27th October 1278 the three sisters appointed their husbands to take seisin of their inheritance.[8]

Later records of William de Fenton

Records outside of medieval Ireland show that William de Fenton came from Edinburgh or had his principal estates there.[9] On 23rd July 1291 William de Fenton swore fealty to King Edward of England as overlord of Scotland.[10] On 14th March 1296 Sir William de Fenton swore homage to King Edward.[11] On 28th August 1296 William de Fenton was at Berwick-on-Tweed where he, along with many others, renounced the French league and again gave homage to King Edward of England. With this action a writ was issued on 14th September 1296 to the sheriff of Edinburgh to restore the lands of William de Fenton.[12]

In about 1305 William de Fenton and Cecily his wife came to King Edward to ask for restoration of a third part of the manor of Ulvyngton in Yorkshire. In 1251-2 Ulvyngton was held by Walter Byset and passed to his nephew, Thomas Byset, on the former’s death but the time of Walter’s death was in dispute and the king’s escheator seized the manor.[13] During the Scottish wars Ulvyngton manor was seized by Brian Fitz Alan and taken into the king’s hand following the death of Brian. William de Fenton showed that he had supported King Edward after the first Scottish War and so was a good citizen. The King replied that William and Cecily had to await the proof of age of Brian’s heir and proceed to the common courts for justice.[14]

Later records of David de Graham

Like William de Fenton, David de Graham was also from Scotland. On 1st August 1291 Sir David de Graham swore fealty to King Edward of England as overlord of Scotland in the chapel near the King’s chamber at Berwick-on-Tweed. But David didn’t always still loyal to the English king. In 1296 David, brother of Patrick de Graham, was captured at Dunbar castle with a host of other Scottish nobles and was sent to St. Briavell’s castle as a prisoner.[15]
In July 1297 David de Graham was sent free along with David, son of Patrick de Graham, and many others including Alexander Comyn, on the mainprise of David, Earl of Athol, Sir John Comyn of Badenagh, John de Inchemartin, John le Botiller, John Comyn of Badanagh junior and Ralphde Esing.[16] Afterwards Sir David de Graham left Scotland and died on campaign in Flanders. His son, called Patrick de Graham, married without the king’s licence and in 1300-7 Robert de Felton, who had got the licence to marry Patrick de Graham, petitioned the king for remedy. In reply King Edward issued a writ to chancery to direct the guardian of Scotland to do justice.[17]

In 1293 a person called William de Graham was one of two potential attorneys to pursue an action against the prior of Holy Trinity, Dublin, on behalf of John Comyn but it is unclear what, if any, relation he was to David de Graham.[18]

Kilravock castle

Andrew de Bosco

Andrew de Bosco was also Scottish and lived at Red Castle in the Scottish Highlands. Some sources say that Red Castle was held in 1230 by Sir John Byset senior and by 1278 had come to Andrew de Bosco while other sources say that Andrew de Bosco instead inherited his wife’s lands at Kilravock. About 1290 their daughter, Marie, married Hugh de Ros, lord of Geddes. The Ros family lived at Kilravock until 2012.[19]

Later Byset family in Ulster

The Byset family continued to be strong in Ulster after the death of John Byset in 1259. In 1294 the Bysets were lords of Rathlin Island when Robert the Bruce fled to there from Scotland.[20] But in the fourteenth century the lands around Glenarm were taken from Hugh Byset, a Scottish supporter (who had taken the land of the three sisters), and given to John de Athy, admiral of the Irish Sea fleet.[21]

Conclusion

This article started off exploring why three Anglo-Irish wives left their husbands in Ireland and travelled to the English court at Westminster. But instead of exploring medieval Anglo-Irish families, the article took on a life of its own with the exploration of medieval Scots-Irish. Thus we should more properly refer to the three wives as Scots-Irish rather than Anglo-Irish. 

With the dash of John Byset senior to Ulster for safety in 1242 we saw how his grandchildren had to challenge the powerful Earl of Ulster to recover their inheritance around Glenarm. The complex relations of the Scottish-English wars lost the family’s Glenarm lands and property in Scotland and England while one of the husbands, David de Graham, lost is life fighting a war in a faraway country. But at least one of the three sisters survived all that and her descendants lived in the family home over seven centuries. The article showed the web of connections between Ulster in Ireland, Scotland and northern England in the medieval period which makes it important not just to see one country in medieval times but to explore the wider connections.
   
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[1] Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward I, 1272-1281, p. 281; Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (5 vols. Liechtenstein, 1974), Vol. II (1252-1284), no. 1501
[2] Curtis, E. (ed.) Calendar of Ormond Deeds, Vol. 1, 1172-1350 A.D. (Dublin, 1932); McNeill, C. (ed.), Liber Primus Kilkenniensis (Dublin, 1931); McNeill, C. (ed.), Calendar of Archbishop Alen’s Register c.1172-1534 (Dublin, 1950); Mills, J. & McEnery, M.J. (eds.), Calendar of Gormanston Register (Dublin, 1916); Connolly, P. (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments 1270-1446 (Dublin, 1998); White, N.B. (ed.), Irish Monastic and Episcopal Deeds A.D. 1200-1600 (Dublin, 1936); Mac Niocaill, G. (ed.), The Red Book of the Earls of Kildare (Dublin, 1964); Sayles, G.O. (ed.), Documents on the Affairs of Ireland before the King’s Council (Dublin, 1979);  White, N.B. (ed.), The Red Book of Ormond (Dublin, 1932); McNeill, C. (ed.), Registrum de Kilmainham: Register of Chapter Acts of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem in Ireland, 1326-1339 (Dublin, n.d.); Richardson, H.G. & Sayles, G.O. (eds.), Parliaments and Councils of Medieval Ireland, volume 1 (Dublin, 1947); Connolly, P., ‘Irish material in the Class of Ancient Petitions (SC8) in the Public Record Office, London’, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 34 (1987), pp. 1-106; Connolly, P., ‘Irish material in the Class of Chancery Warrants Series 1 (C81) in the Public Record Office, London’, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 36 (1995), pp. 135-162; Sayles, G.O., ‘The Legal Proceedings Against the First Earl of Desmond’, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 23 (1966), pp. 1-48; Connolly, P. ‘List of Irish material in the Class of Chancery Files (Recorda) (C. 260) in the Public Record Office, London’, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 31 (1984), pp. 1-18; White, N.B., ‘Index to Nos. I-IV (1930-1932)’, in Analecta Hibernica, No. 5 (1934), pp. 1-177; MacCaffrey, Rev. J. (ed.), The Black Book of Limerick (Dublin, 1907); MacCotter, P. & Nicholls, K. (eds.), The Pipe Roll of Cloyne (Rotulus Pipae Clonensis) (Cloyne, 1996); Clarke, M.V. (ed.), Register of the Priory of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Tristernagh (Dublin, 1941); Brooks, E. St. John (ed.), The Irish cartularies of Llanthony Prima & Secunda (Dublin, 1953); Brooks, E. St. John (ed.), Register of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist without the New Gate, Dublin (Dublin, 1936)
[3] Shaw, L., The History of the Province of Moray (Elgin, 1827), Vol. II, p.  160
[4] Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans (Dublin, 2005), Vol. III, p. 256
[5] Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. II (1252-1284), no. 1500, Bain, J. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland (Edinburgh, 1884), Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 163; Sharp, J.E.E.S. (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. II, Edward I (Liechtenstein, 1973), no. 272
[6] Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. II (1252-1284), no. 1500
[7] Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. II (1252-1284), no. 1500
[8] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 129
[9] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), p. 617
[10] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), p. 124
[11] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 730
[12] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), pp. 198, 226
[13] Sharp, J.E.E.S. (ed.), Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem, Vol. 1, Henry III (Liechtenstein, 1973), no. 252
[14] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 1728
[15] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), p. 125
[16] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 940
[17] Bain (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Vol. II (1272-1307), no. 1967
[18] Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, Vol. IV (1293-1302), nos. 79, 80, 142 = in 1294 William de Graham was attorney against Sir Thomas of Kildare.
[19] Shaw, The History of the Province of Moray, Vol. II, p.  160; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_Rose accessed on 14th august 2017; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redcastle accessed on 14th August 2017
[20] Otway-Ruthven, A.J., A history of Medieval Ireland (London, 1980), p. 225
[21] Orpen, Ireland under the Normans, Vol. IV, p. 208

Monday, August 14, 2017

The estate of Sir William Ryther of Yorkshire (1440)

The estate of Sir William Ryther of Yorkshire (1440)

Niall C.E.J. O’Brien

Introduction

On 1st October 1440 Sir William Ryther of Ryther in Yorkshire died. Sir William Ryther was the son of Sir William Ryther of Ryther and Sibyl his wife, daughter of William de Aldeburgh, 1st Lord Aldeburgh. Although not a major landowner Sir William Ryther did have standing in his community and in 1426, 1430-1, 1434 and 1438 was sheriff of Yorkshire. Sir William Ryther was also a peer of the realm as Baron of Rither, a title created in 1299 for his ancestor Sir William de Ryther.[1] On 8th October 1440 a writ was issued for an inquisition post mortem into the estate of Sir William Ryther in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.[2]

Grant of Ryther manor in 1280

The chief manor of the Ryther family in Yorkshire was that of Ryther. The family took their name from Ryther, about 6 miles N.E. of Selby, and were associated with the place since about 1166 if not before then. Several of the de Ryther knights have effigies in the local parish church of All Saints Church.[3]

In 1280 John son of Robert de Roos of Helmsley granted Ryther to William Ryther of Scarcroft in Yorkshire and Lucy his wife and the heirs of Lucy’s body. Lucy Ryther was the daughter of John de Roos.[4] This grant was made with reversion to John de Roos and then to his brother Alexander de Roos and then to the right heirs of William Ryther.[5] Although William Ryther was very much a Yorkshire landowner he did have connections beyond the Dales. In 1302 he was granted the Irish lands of Reginald de Dene until the lawful age of Reginald’s heir and with the marriage of the latter.[6]

The elder brother of John de Roos was William de Roos of Helmsley, first lord of that barony. William’s son, also called William de Roos, married Margery, daughter of Bartholomew de Badlesmere and in 1338 inherited her fourth share of the family estate which included a fourth part of Youghal and the manor of Inchiquin in County Cork, Ireland.[7]

Descent of the Ryther family

By 1440 the reversion provision had not yet been activated as Lucy gave birth to Robert Ryther who was the father of Robert Ryther, the father of Robert Ryther who was the father of William Ryther, father of William Ryther who died in 1440.[8]

This clear line of descent was not so straight in reality. The Robert de Ryther who died in 1322 left William de Ryther (aged 12 years in 1327) as his son and heir. In 1327 Robert de Ryther held the manor of Ryther of King Edward II in the honour of Pontefract because the late forfeiture of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, by the service of half a knight’s fee, and Robert de Ryther held Scarcroft manor of John de Ryther, his brother. The two manors were granted to Robert’s widow Maud until William de Ryther came of age.[9] But William de Ryther did not leave any issue and so the two manors passed to his brother Robert de Ryther.

Robert de Ryther of 1322 in All Saints, Ryther


Ryther in 1440

The manor and advowsons of the churches (the parish church of Ryther and the chapel attached to Lead Hall) of Ryther in 1440 was held of the king in chief as of the Duchy of Lancaster and his honour of Pontefract by the service of one eight of a knight’s fee (a big reduction in the knight fee since 1327). The manor of Ryther was not in good condition according to the inquisition post mortem. The capital messuage and two gardens were worth nothing along with 8 waste messuages worth nothing and 8 waste cottages worth nothing. There was 460 acres of land worth 3d per acre; 40 acres of meadow worth 12d per acre and 200 acres of wood worth 100s. The total value of the manor was thus £12 15s per annum.[10] Sir William de Ryther held other property apart from the manor of Ryther.

Scarcroft manor

The most ancient property of Sir William Ryther was that of Scarcroft manor in Yorkshire. Modern Scarcroft is located about six miles N.E. of Leeds and has some of the most expensive residential property in Yorkshire.[11] In 1280 his ancestor, William Ryther, used Scarcroft as his chief address. In 1440 Scarcroft manor was held of Henry Vavasour by the service of one rose yearly. Like at Ryther, the manor of Scarcroft was not well cared for under Sir William Ryther. There were 4 waste messuages, 3 waste cottages and 20 acres of wood worth nothing per year. The rest of the manor consisted of 202 acres of land worth 3d per acre and 320 acres of moor land worth 10s per year. The total value of the manor was £3 6d per year.[12]

Harewood manor

The manors of Ryther and Scarcroft were part of the Ryther family since 1280 and for some time before. The other property held by Sir William Ryther in 1440 was acquired by marriage and purchase.

On 21st October 1440 at Ozendyke a jury met to conduct the inquisition post mortem on the estate of Sir William Ryther and they found that he held half the manor of Harewood in Yorkshire by a grant made in 1403 to his father and mother by Thomas Thwaytes and William Barker. The manor as held by Sir William Ryther excluded the site of Harewood castle and other land and was held of the king in chief by a quarter of a knight’s fee. Within the half manor held by Sir William Ryther there was 45 acres in demesne land worth 4d per acre; 200 acres of land in a close called Stoktonfeld worth 4d per acre; 4 acres of land at Le Sandbed worth 4d per acre; 1,000 acres of moor and waste land held in common pasture at Harwodmore worth nothing per year; two burgages in the vill of Harewood worth 12d per year each; two cottages also worth 12d per year each; a smithy worth 12d yearly and half an oven in Harewood worth 12d per year.

Sir William Ryther also had property in the vill of Dunkeswick within the manor of Harewood. This consisted of 8 messuages worth nothing per year and 17 bovates each worth 4s per year. In the vill of Healthwaite there were 3 messuages each worth 6d per year and 4 bovates with meadow each worth 4s per year. In addition to all this Sir William Ryther collected 32s in service rent from the manor (total value £5 17s 6d). The total value of the half manor was £10 6s 6d.[13] in October 1439 William Ryther the younger was given seisin of Harewood manor following the death of his mother Sibyl Ryther.[14]

The other half of Harewood manor was held in 1426 by Sir Richard Redman and was succeeded by his grandson Richard Redman (son of Matthew Redman).[15] Sibyl Ryther was sister and co-heir of her brother William Aldeburgh, 2nd Lord Aldeburgh. Her sister married into the Redman family and thus the manor of Harewood was divided between the two sisters.[16]

Kirkby Overblow manor

Sir William Ryther held half of this manor from Henry, Earl of Northumberland as of his manor of Spofforth. Modern Kirkby Overblow is a village and civil parish in North Yorkshire between Harrogate and Wetherby. The manor of Kirkby Overblow came to William Ryther from the Aldeburgh inheritance.[17] In 1440 the manor was not in the best of condition with many parts of it described as ruinous including 7 ruinous messuages, 2 waste cottages and 30 acres of wood worth nothing. There was beside these ruinous property 14 bovates each worth 3s; 20 acres of land worth 3d per acre and 12s 8d in rent from the free tenants along with the rent of a pair of gloves.[18] This amounted to a total value of £2 19s 8d per annum.

Celecotes manor

Sir William Ryther held one manor outside of Yorkshire, that of Celecotes in Lincolnshire. Celecotes is today known as Keal Cotes and is situated six miles south of Spilsby. The inquisition post mortem for Celecotes was held on 29th October 1440 at Lincoln castle (25 miles to the west) before fourteen jurors. They found that Sir William Ryther held Celecotes in chief of the king by his Duchy of Lancaster and in the honour of Bolingbroke by the service of one sixth of a knight’s fee. On the manor the capital messuage was worth nothing, 100 acres of demesne land was worth 2d per acre; 12 messuages were worth 12d each; 10 bovates of land worth 3s each per year; 50 acres of meadow worth 8d per acre at moving time and 300 acres of pasture and marsh worth nothing along with 40s of assize rent.[19] The total value of the manor was £6 12s per year.

Church of All Saints at Ryther

Successor and descendants of Sir William Ryther

Sir William Ryther of Ryther was married to Maud (deceased before 1437), daughter of Sir Thomas de Umframvill. Maud de Umframvill had three other sisters, all married.[20] She was the sister and co-heir of her brother, Sir Gilbert de Umframvill.[21] Sir William Ryther was succeeded in 1440 by his son and heir William Ryther, and then aged 35 years. Young William Ryther was described in 1437 as 30 years old.[22] William Ryther the younger was given seisin of his father’s lands in November 1440.[23]

The Barony of Rither fell into abeyance in 1543 with the death of Sir Henry Ryther but the family line continued through his second cousin William Ryther.[24] In the time of Queen Elizabeth a descendant of Sir William Ryther would enter the Church and move to Ireland. This was John Ryder, later Dean of St. Patrick’s in Dublin and Bishop of Killaloe. The descendants of John Ryder would also enter the Church in Ireland and hold positions in the Dioceses of Ossory, Killaloe and Cloyne. Their story is for another day.


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[1] Chapman, J.W.B. & Leighton, Mrs. (eds.), Calendar of inquisitions miscellaneous, Volume VIII, 1422-1485 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2003), no. 50; Cokayne, G.E. (ed.), The Complete Peerage (Alan Sutton, Gloucester, 1987), vol. XI, p. 10
[2] Noble, C. (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2009), no. 479
[4] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, pp. 6, 8
[5] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[6] Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (5 vols. Kraus reprint, 1974), Vol. V, 1302-1307, Nos. 79, 163
[7] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, pp. 95-9
[8] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[9] Sharp, J.E.E.S. (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume VII, Edward III (Kraus reprint, 1973), no. 7; Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, p. 9
[10] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[11] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarcroft accessed on 26 January 2016
[12] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[13] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[14] Calendar Fine Rolls, Vol. XVII, Henry VI (1437-1445), p. 124
[15] Parkin, K. (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXII, 1 to 5 Henry VI, 1422-1427 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2003), no. 736
[16] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, p. 10; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harewood_Castle
[17] Calendar Fine Rolls, Vol. XVII, Henry VI (1437-1445), p. 167
[18] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 480
[19] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 479
[20] Holford, M.L., Mileson, S.A., Noble, C. & Parkin, K. (eds.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXIV, 11 to 15 Henry VI, 1432-1437 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2010), no. 696
[21] Kirby, J.L. & Stevenson, J.H. (eds.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXI, 6 to 10 Henry V, 1418-1422 (Boydell Press & National Archives, 2002), no. 831; Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, p. 10
[22] Noble (ed.), Calendar of inquisitions post mortem, Volume XXV, 16 to 20 Henry VI, 1437-1442, no. 479
[23] Calendar Fine Rolls, Vol. XVII, Henry VI (1437-1445), pp. 167-9
[24] Cokayne (ed.), The Complete Peerage, vol. XI, p. 11