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The Project Gutenberg EBook of William de Colchester, by Ernest Harold Pearce

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Title: William de Colchester
       Abbot of Westminster

Author: Ernest Harold Pearce

Release Date: August 3, 2011 [EBook #36968]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Louise Pryor, David Garcia and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
book was produced from scanned images of public domain
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LONDON: Northumberland Avenue, W.C.
New York: E. S. GORHAM



J. D. AND H. R. D.




I. A Window in the Nave 9
II. A Novice from Essex 14
III. A Man of Affairs 21
IV. A Proctor at Rome 30
V. An Archdeacon 41
VI. Abbot of Westminster 52
VII. The Abbot at Home 60
VIII. The Abbot Abroad 73




Having had the honour of an invitation to deliver in May last a "Friday Evening Discourse" at the Royal Institution on the Archives of Westminster Abbey, I thought it best to confine what I could say within an hour to the career of a single man, preferably one whose record had not hitherto been written. I have here expanded the lecture to some extent, and have added references. I am indebted to Mr. David Weller, the Dean's Virger, for some excellent pictures.

E. H. P.

3, Little Cloisters,
September, 1915.



Abbot Colchester Frontispiece
The Kitchener's Account for Pancakes 28
Chambers in Little Cloisters 48
The Personal Effects of Abbot Litlington 54
Abbot Colchester's Seal 74
Coronation of Henry V. 80





When the body of the late Lord Kelvin was laid to rest, by a right which there was none to dispute, in the Abbey Church of Westminster, it was placed, by the same kind of right, close to the grave of Sir Isaac Newton. In the same corner there are the graves, or the memorials, of Darwin and Herschel, of Joule and Gabriel Stokes and John Couch Adams, to be joined shortly by tablets in memory of Alfred Russel Wallace, of Sir Joseph Hooker, and of another Joseph, who died Lord Lister. It was not likely that Kelvin would long lack some memorial more impressive than the slab which covers his remains, and it was a happy and appropriate impulse which caused the representatives of engineering science on both sides of the Atlantic to undertake the task of [10] providing one. But what form could it best take? The walls of the church have been overcrowded, to the grievous destruction of some precious features. The floor-space, as the centuries following the Reformation were apt to forget, is intended to serve the purposes of public worship. But the large windows of the Nave offer to those who would honour and foster the memory of the great dead a means of fulfilling their desire, and of adorning the fabric at the same time. In this case the chance was welcomed, and Kelvin has his Abbey memorial in stained glass. The window is one of a series projected in 1907 by Dr. Armitage Robinson, now Dean of Wells, and loyally accepted by his successor in the Deanery of Westminster—a series in which there are placed side by side a King of England who contributed either to the greatness of the foundation or to the majesty of the building, and the Abbot through whom the King worked his pious will. The King in this case is Harry of Monmouth, and we are thinking with somewhat mingled feelings that October 25, 1915, brings us to the 500th anniversary of the battle of Agincourt. But it is Henry V.'s Abbot who concerns us now; for in such [11] a scheme of windows the Abbots are more difficult to justify to the ordinary visitor than the monarchs, not because of unworthiness, but because there has been but little effort made to appraise their worth as heads of our ancient house, or as conspicuous figures in their generation. 1

In this case the Abbot is William of Colchester. As we shall see, his character is depicted by Shakespeare, but he has no article to his credit in the Dictionary of National Biography. If he is to be brought back from obscurity, it can only be accomplished by repeated visits to the Abbey Muniment Room. I shall therefore ask the reader to climb with me the turret staircase which is approached from a door in the East Cloister, and to enter a noble apartment of which that cloister is the origin. For when Henry III.'s builders came to the planning of the South Transept, known as Poets' Corner, the lines of the Great Cloister had already been long established, and must not be minished or altered by the new work. Therefore, whereas the North Transept [12] has aisles on its east side and on its west, the South Transept is aisled only on the east side. The East Cloister occupies the space of what would otherwise be the western aisle, and thus upholds the floor of the apartment which we enter. We look into the distant recesses of the Abbey eastward, through three of Henry III.'s bays, across a low wall split up by the bases of dwarf pillars. There are signs of royalty in the room, such as the crowned heads at the capitals of the pillars of the colonnade by which we enter, and on the wooden wall which shuts off the southern section is the outline of a white hart crowned, the emblem of Richard II. Professor Lethaby has suggested to me that such a point of vantage from which to see what stones and what buildings are here, and from which to observe some procession of State as it arrives from the Palace by Poets' Corner door and makes its solemn circuit of the church, would naturally be appropriated as a royal pew. Be that as it may, the room was set apart in very early times for the storing of muniments; it contains a cupboard which probably dates from Richard II.'s reign and now stands under Richard II.'s hart; and [13] at least one of its archive chests, if not more, belongs to the fourteenth century. We may assume, then, that here, from that century onwards, the Convent kept its official archives—charters, leases, acquittances, and the annual account-rolls of its officers. Here, for the last twenty years, the Dean and Chapter have had the constant service of Dr. Edward Scott, formerly of the British Museum, as the Keeper of their muniments. He has written with his own hand over 110,000 descriptions of documents, and has compiled, and is still steadily compiling, an index of persons and things. I am merely attempting to construct a life of Abbot Colchester out of documents which I have spelt out with Dr. Scott's assistance. Any one who finds the story uninteresting must console himself with the thought that it has not been told before.




In Shakespeare's Tragedy of King Richard II., there is an Abbot of Westminster who flits craftily across the scene, generally shadowing a Bishop of Carlisle, whom we shall meet again. When Bolingbroke announces that he is about to be crowned King in Richard's stead, this Abbot bids his friends—

"Come home with me to supper; and I'll lay

A plot shall show us all a merry day." 2

In the next act 3 it is stated that he is dead—

"The grand conspirator, Abbot of Westminster,

With clog of conscience and sour melancholy

Hath yielded up his body to the grave."

As to which it must be sufficient to say that the poet who could not give the Abbot's name was equally unconscious of the fact that he outlived his alleged conspiracy by twenty years.


But his name was William Colchester, and we may begin by assuming that, as his name implies, he was a Colchester man. In and before his time, and for a considerable space afterwards, the customary designation of a Brother was his Christian name and a place name, with or without the copula de; in earlier years he called himself William de Colchester, but the documents which concern him as Abbot mostly speak of William Colchester, or William Abbot of Westminster. Nor are we left to guess-work as to the place of his origin. In later life, according to the habit of his time, he busied himself with the endowment of obits, or anniversaries, for the good of his soul. Here is a document, 4 dated May 20, 1406, in which he bargained with the Prior of St. Botolph, Colchester, having paid 40s. to Henry IV.'s Clerk of the Hanaper to seal the bargain, that one of the canon-chaplains of that Priory should say Mass every week, at sixpence a week, for his soul and for the souls of his parents; that the Prior and his Brethren should observe his anniversary, again with a memorial of his parents, in the parish church of St. Nicholas, Colchester; that a set [16] sum should be distributed yearly to the vicar of St. Nicholas, to the poor of the parish, and to the prisoners in Colchester Castle; and that the tomb of his parents in the parish churchyard should be kept in proper repair.

We may conclude, then, that this was his native parish, and that in his great position as Abbot of Westminster he wished the connexion to be had in remembrance. But he knew to a mile the distance between his Abbey and Colchester, and how easy it might be for the Prior of St. Botolph to accept his bequest and to neglect to fulfil its conditions. So in 1407 (December 3), when he was completing the arrangements 5 for maintaining an anniversary at the Abbey out of the revenues of the church of Aldenham, 6 in Hertfordshire, he inserted an instruction that the Monk-Bailiff of Westminster, at the time of his annual visit to the Essex manors, should either proceed or send to Colchester and make careful inquiry as to the due observance of the covenants, [17] as who should say, "It is as well not to trust these provincial Priors further than you can see them."

We get to know also from the grant 7 of another anniversary at the Abbey's daughter Priory of Hurley, in Berkshire, that his father's name was Reginald, and his mother's Alice. He had a sister who in 1389-90 was living in Cambridge, for in that year his Receiver entered a gift of 12d. to a man who came from my lord's sister at that town; and we shall find that he had other connexions, some poor enough to bring him a basket of poultry, some rich enough to receive from him a present of jewelry. Evidently he sprang from a burgher stock of no great eminence, for whom the Church seemed the sphere in which the career was opened to the talents.

How he came to enter our Monastery we shall never know, for with all the wealth of our materials there survives not a trace of his or of any other postulant's testimonials. He came, he was seen, he was admitted. We know what the requisites were—that he must have examined his conscience as to the motives which led him to [18] apply, that he must be sound in body, free in civil status, unburdened by debt or other obligations, and as a rule not less than eighteen years of age. 8 What steps the Fathers of the Convent took to secure outside evidence of a candidate's fitness in these respects must be left to the imagination. He passed muster and joined their number.

Our first trace of William Colchester's name on the books of the House is in connexion with his ordination as priest. I cannot tell what Bishop admitted him to the ministry, nor where it took place, but it can be ascertained that he said Mass for the first time during 1361-2 (the conventual year was reckoned for administrative purposes, as it is still, from Michaelmas to Michaelmas), and we are able to discover this, not because it was felt to be an event worth chronicling for its own sake, but because in that year three of the officers note that they severally expended 1s. 7½d. in bread and wine as "exennia"—i.e. a complimentary gift 9—made to him in [19] honour of the event. We may suppose that he was then twenty-three years of age; he may have entered the Convent in or about 1356; and we may take 1338 as the probable year of his birth. If, as we have assumed, he entered the Convent some years before his ordination, then he did so during the reign of Simon Langham, the most eminent of all our Abbots, but it is not possible to say whether he received priest's orders before or after the election of Nicholas Litlington to the Abbacy in April, 1362. The Monastery was still suffering in numbers from the ravages of the Great Pestilence in 1349, and consisted in 1356-7 of only thirty-five monks and two novices. Colchester was the last of five new members of whom we hear first in 1361-2.

Five years later, in 1366-7, he was chosen by the Convent as one of two of their number whom they thought specially apt to learning, and whom it was therefore their duty to send up to Oxford to join the other Benedictine students at Gloucester Hall, an institution established by the Order in its General Chapter held at Abingdon in 1290. 10 Our custom was that the Convent Treasurer paid [20] £10 yearly to each Westminster student for his maintenance, 11 besides the cost of his journeys to and fro; so that it is possible to compile from the Treasurers' rolls a fairly complete list of our Oxford scholars from 1356, when I came upon the first signs of a definite system, until the Dissolution. The plan tended to the great advantage of the monasteries; it meant that the likely young men were taken at an impressionable time in their lives out of the narrow rut of cloistral life, and were associated with the world of scholarship and of affairs; and it will be found that a large proportion of those who were sent to Oxford rose quickly to positions of trust in the Convent. William Colchester remained at Oxford, save for periodical visits to the Abbey, from 1366 to 1370. It cannot be said that the Latin prose of which he was capable does credit to his University, and even monkish Latinity was seldom worse than that in which his few surviving letters are couched. But it is fair to assume that he learnt how to deal with men, and we can now go on to see that the Convent which had supported him at Oxford was satisfied with the product of its expenditure.




Soon after his return from the University two things happened, as if to signify that his competence was recognized. In October, 1371, he was promoted, as the Westminster phrase went, to sit by the bell—sedere ad skillam; that is to say, he moved up to the seniors' table in the Refectory, where was the bell or skyllet which gave the signal for grace to be said, or for the reader of the week to begin the lection. Like the day of his first Mass, this promotion, coming as a rule not less than ten years later, was reckoned to be an occasion for a little addition to the usually frugal fare, and we can state the date of it because the Sacrist and the Infirmarer and the Treasurer each sent him bread and wine to the value of 2s.d., so that he might make merry with his friends.


Secondly, he begins to be recognized as an experienced person who can safely be sent upon missions involving prudence and the management of men. In the same year, 1371-2, a payment of twenty shillings was made by the Steward of the Abbot's Household for the expenses of William Colchester and two valets who were sent to Northampton for the meeting of the General Chapter of the English Benedictines, probably in attendance on the Abbot of Westminster, who was frequently one of the Presidents of the Chapter.

But the next year, 1372-3, as we learn from the Sacrist, saw Colchester entrusted with a still more delicate duty. It was on this wise. Among the precious relics given to the Abbey by Edward the Confessor 12 was the girdle of the Virgin Mary—zona beate Marie—which she had made with her own hands and had herself worn. 13 It was regarded as having especial value in securing a safe delivery to expectant mothers, and when the Westminster Book of Customs was compiled by Abbot Richard de Ware about a century before [23] Colchester's admission, it was the rule that the Sacrist or, as he was sometimes called, the Secretary, should carry the girdle of the blessed Mother of God to any destination which it was appointed to reach, or should be at charges with the bearer of it in his place. 14 So here is our Sacrist paying the expenses of William Colchester, namely, 13s. 4d., and the more considerable price of two horses for the journey, £6 16s. 8d. But the Sacrist has something to enter on the other side, an offering of £2 from the Countess of March, the lady who craved the aid of the girdle. If any one is churlish enough to say that the bargain seems but a poor one for the Convent—150s. spent on the journey, and only 40s. received from the beneficiary—the answer is that the horses would be sold at the end of the return journey for almost as much as they cost. If, again, it is objected that in any case the lady's gift was money thrown away, it is not so easy to convince the gainsayer. For while it is on record that on February 12, 1371 (i.e. in the year previous [24] to that of the Sacrist's account), the lady Philippa, granddaughter of Edward III., did present her husband, the 3rd Earl of March, with a daughter who in process of time became the wife of Harry Hotspur, yet it does not appear that she was equally blessed during the year 1372-3.

Such duties sensibly performed, William Colchester was not long in attaining to administrative office. To begin with, Abbot Litlington chose him as his Custos Hospicii; i.e. Seneschal or steward of his household. We have the roll on which the young monk gave an account of his stewardship for the year Michaelmas to Michaelmas, 1373-4, and as the doings it records represent his early experience of that conventual business in which he was to be immersed for nearly half a century, we may stay by it for a short space in order to get our impressions.

He found his master in possession of a considerable rent-roll in various parts of the country, the manors being situate in the counties of Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford, Surrey, Buckingham, and Middlesex. The rentals amounted to £696 13s. 6d., and the sale of stock, including an ox sold for 18s. 4d., and a cow—timore pestilencie—for 13s., [25] brought the total to £719 8s. 8d. Large as this sum sounds, especially when multiplied to correspond with present values, it was none too large for the needs of the position. Household expenses, which are not entered in detail, came to £151 1s.d. The purchase of live-stock—grey palfreys, bullocks, cows, steers, sheep, pigs, swans, poultry, and no less than 966 pigeons at about ½d. each—required £63 2s. 10d., and the outlay on dead stock such as bacon, salt-fish, five barrels of white herring, fourteen casks of red herring, and three casks of Scottish red herring, amounted to £31 8s. 4d. Lest it should be claimed that the Scottish variety was a special delicacy, we must add that the latter cost only 4s. a barrel as against 5s. 6d. for the other. Nor, if the quantities seem large, must it be lightly concluded that there was carelessness in the dispensation; indeed, it was the Seneschal's duty to enter on the back of his roll a stock-keeping account, from which it may be gleaned that all the herrings were consumed and eighty pigs; but there was a residue of five salt-fish and of two out of sixteen bullocks. Altogether in corn and wine and clothing and gifts to visitors and in [26] other ways there was an expenditure of £684 to set against a revenue of £719.

But what we want is an idea of the duties and experiences that came to the young Seneschal, and this can be obtained from various items. He gets a pair of my lord's boots mended for twopence, and small sums go in stringing the great sportman's bows or in buying bags in which to carry his arrow-heads. That which cost more, and was probably more interesting to Colchester himself, was the coming and going of personages or their servants—the squire of the Earl of Cambridge (Edmund Langley, fifth son of Edward III.), who receives 20s. for bringing a letter to the Abbot from his lord; the Earl of Warwick's steward, who comes to sell a black palfrey; a monk of his own year, Richard Excestr', who is just starting on his career at Oxford, and to whom the Abbot gives a fatherly present of 20s.; the Bishop of Durham's 15 man, whose master we know as the builder of Bishop Hatfield Hall, and who is sent with a gift of two greyhounds to the Abbot. Several messengers arrive from the Prince, i.e. the Black Prince, who [27] is now at Wycombe and now at Kensington, and Abbot Litlington makes several journeys by boat to call on the Bishop of Winchester, no less a personage than William of Wykeham, who was in some disgrace at the time.

Having in this way served the Abbot efficiently, Colchester received his next responsibility from the whole Chapter, who chose him as Convent Treasurer, and "Coquinarius" or Kitchener, for the year 1375-6. Happily we still possess his compotus as such. I must not describe it at length, but one feature of it, an entry under the head of "pitancie et flacones," is of too great interest to be passed by. Pittances were additional meals on special occasions by way of varying the dreary round of dry bread and sour wine, which alone could be provided in the Refectory. But "flacones" seem to be pancakes, and pancakes are a recognized Westminster institution, though it is no longer the duty of the Convent Treasurer to provide them for his brethren. I first translate the item as Colchester entered it:

"Paid in milk, 'creym,' butter, cheese and eggs bought for the pancakes in Easter week, on Rogation days and at Pentecost, 64s. 8d."

And now for some further light upon it. In 1389, [28] when Colchester had occupied the Abbot's chair for three years, the Kitchener was Brother William Clehungre or Clayhanger, who has left us his bill 16 for materials, and from this it will appear how the pancake-custom has developed in the interval. It sets forth his

"expenses laid out in respect of the pancakes prescribed for the brethren and delivered to the monastery according to custom during 56 days each year, namely from Easter Day to Trinity Sunday, in the 12th year of the reign of King Richard II., as appears by all the parcels:—

Milk.First 126 gallons of milk @ 1d. the gallon106
Butter.Also 3 gallons 3 qrts of butter @ 2s. 4d. the gallon9
Eggs.Also 5816 eggs @ 10d. the hundred28
Salt.Also one peck of salt @ 3d.3

Our Kitchener makes some trifling assumptions in his multiplication as to the butter and the eggs, and he robs the Convent of fivepence when he adds up the total. The number of eggs sounds large, but it means only 103 and a fraction daily, and when it is considered that in 1389 the Prior and his Brethren numbered forty-nine persons, this works out at the by no means excessive rate of 2½ eggs daily to each brother.



But there is a local reason for dwelling on this custom. Westminster School is admittedly a Tudor foundation, but at the Abbey we cherish the conviction that its roots penetrate deep down into the monastic soil. Every Shrove Tuesday the school—in modern times by means of selected gladiators—makes a furious onset upon a single pancake. Mr. Sergeaunt 17 speaks of the ceremony as "the sole survivor of the medieval sports," and adds that "although its origin cannot be traced, it can hardly have come into being after the date of Elizabeth's foundation." Is it, then, beyond all likelihood that it arose out of some ancient protest of our Benedictines against the prospect of being fed upon pancakes every day for eight weeks? Is it inconceivable that the successful protestant was conducted at the end of the "greese," as now, to the Lord Abbot's presence to receive one mark from his lordship's bounty? All we can say is that the Brethren continued to be similarly regaled from Easter to Trinity until the Dissolution of the House.




William Colchester ceased to be Treasurer in the autumn of 1376, and within eight months circumstances had arisen in which his capacities were to be put to a severer and more prolonged test. We are all familiar with the expression "St. Stephen's," as applied to Parliament House. But it is not as readily realized that the House of Commons, after sitting for long years in the Chapter House 18 at the Abbey, removed itself at the Dissolution to the ancient Chapel of St. Stephen in the Palace of Westminster. I am only concerned now with the story of that chapel 19 as it is related to William Colchester's career. Placed where it was, it stood within the ancient limits of our Abbot's jurisdiction, but its Dean [31] and his twelve Prebendaries had good grounds for regarding themselves as a royal foundation, and they craved the kind of ecclesiastical independence which attaches to-day to St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle. Our Convent resisted this claim, which, on the other hand, had the good will of the Court. In 1377 a suit to test the rights of the case was entered before the Roman Curia, and it was necessary to appoint some careful and astute person to take charge in Rome of the Abbey's interests, and to negotiate their success. I will not go further into the merits of the case. It lasted for seventeen years, and was ultimately settled, on the whole, in the Abbey's favour, the College of St. Stephen agreeing to pay to the Abbey a yearly sum of five marks, and the right of the Abbot to instal the Dean of St. Stephen's being upheld. 20 What concerns us is that the Abbot and Convent chose William Colchester as their proctor at Rome in this suit, and that by good fortune there survive long statements of his personal and legal costs in carrying out the task laid upon him. They will serve as a guide-book [32] of his journey and will give us considerable insight into his adventures. 21

He left Westminster on June 22 10, 1377, and was absent, as he is careful to record, for two years, twenty-three weeks, and three days. His first business was to furnish himself with official commendations, and to this end he sought for royal letters—pro expedicione cause—from the Keeper of the Privy Seal; he paid 3s. 4d. to the Keeper's servant to urge his master to dictate them, and by a like payment he made things right with the scrivener who would execute them; but the letters were not ready when he started. Meantime we can watch him as he reckons up the difficulties of his ordeal. It was arranged that he should go by way of Avignon, for Master Thomas Southam, 23 Archdeacon of Oxford, was still there, settling the affairs of Cardinal Langham's will. But the Pope was no longer there. Gregory XI. had quitted that scene of luxurious exile and ravenous extortion on [33] September 13, 1376, and had entered Rome on January 17, 1377. 24 Most Englishmen had resented the Avignonese sojourn because it threw the Papacy into the hands of the French, but William Colchester, as he packed his valise, saw the matter in a different light. Because the Pope had left, there was no great chance of finding company for the journey; 25 and company meant so much the more security. There was nothing for it but to hire a companion, and he found one Gerard of London, who was willing to face the journey for 20s. and his expenses. Colchester is conscious that this seems an extravagance, but he enters in his account a plea that it was justified by the variety of language and the dangers of the roads in foreign parts. 26 For the road to Dover he bought for himself a horse and saddle which cost 34s. 8d.; but it appears that he rather expected the man Gerard to walk, for he extenuates a further payment of 26s. 8d. for a horse, a saddle, and bridle for Gerard, by stating that the man entirely declined to go afoot. Thus [34] mounted, they reached Dover, where they wasted five days in waiting for a passage, and all the time the cost of food was mounting up at the rate of sixpence a day for each horse, and fivepence a meal for each man. The passage, when they obtained one, cost 3s. 4d. each for the men, and double for the horses. At that cost they reached Calais, and within three days were at Bruges, where again there was a long halt. For the royal letters had not come. Edward III. was on his death-bed, and passed away eleven days after our travellers left London. But Colchester is convinced that an enemy had done this, and when he insists that the issue of the letters has been frustrated "per aduersarios," we must remember that the Dean and College of St. Stephen's were closer to the royal ear than our Abbot and Convent. Whatever the cause, the result was the entry in his account of the cost of nine days' commissariat at Bruges, together with a reward of 10d. to the hotel servants, which he at once resents and excuses as being the custom of the country. 27 In brief, he had already spent nearly all the £10 which he received at [35] his journey's start from the hands of Brother John Lakyngheth, his rival for monastic promotion.

So now he converts his balance of 16s. 8d. from sterling into florins, reckoning a florin at 3s. 2d. To this he adds seven florins by the sale of his own horse—a creditable bargain, for, having paid 34s. 8d. for the beast in London, he has ridden it to Bruges, and there parted with it for 22s. 2d. On the other hand, Gerard's horse has turned out badly; the journey has nearly killed it; 28 and it goes for three florins, or 9s. 6d. Colchester negotiated a loan of twenty-three florins, and on they went towards the south, sometimes hiring mounts, sometimes begging a ride in a cart, often in terror of the Frenchmen, who laid an ambush for them as they entered Dauphiné, so that our travellers hired a guide and went through byways. On the 27th day after leaving Bruges they entered Avignon, and next day they found Master Southam at his lodgings by the church of Our Lady of Miracles.

For a moment I lay aside Colchester's ledger and turn to a separate document; for Southam [36] had with him at Avignon another Westminster monk, John Farnago, who became Colchester's paymaster and in due course presented to the Abbey an account 29 of what he had laid out on his behalf. We are thus furnished with the date of the arrival of Colchester and Gerard—July 24—and learn that they required bed and board at Avignon till August 19. Farnago purchased for his Brother a fresh outfit—cape, tunic, and hood of black Benedictine cloth, a scapular and cowl, and a plain colobium (or sleeveless tunic), buying the last, as he says, from Hagyuus, a Jew, whose real name was probably Hayyim. He also provided a horse for the journey to Marseilles, where Colchester was to take ship, and put some money in his scrip. So our Proctor turned his back on Avignon, perhaps not fully realizing that when on August 14, five days before his departure, he and Farnago witnessed the probate of Cardinal Langham's will, 30 he had been concerned with a document which was to have a vast effect on the church and the conventual buildings of St. Peter, Westminster.


We turn back to Colchester's own ledger, and note that he does not enter the actual date of his arrival in Rome; but we can fix it fairly closely. He says that, having got thus far, he was obliged to move on to Anagni, some forty miles southward from Rome on the road to Naples; and we know that Gregory XI., who had spent the summer of 1377 there, returned to Rome on November 17. 31 Colchester must have found the Papal Court busy at the packing of its trunks and must have returned with it forthwith to Rome; for the first date that he mentions is November 20. It would be wearisome to pursue the details of his activity in engaging counsel, English and Italian, and in paying their fees; but it is worth while to notice that there has been no great change since his day in legal expressions—retinuit duos aduocatos—and perhaps not a complete reform of illegal practice; for instance, he explains that he gave six florins to the valet—cubicularius—of the Cardinal of Milan, who was concerned in the decision of the case, with a view to the man's stirring up his master to sign a certain document; the object of the gift, says Colchester, was greater [38] security, because at the moment there was a fierce altercation between the parties to the suit.

His expenses, already large, received a sudden addition through the death, on March 27, 1378, of Gregory XI. Seldom can an observant traveller have had a more exciting experience than to be in Rome during the session of the Consistory 32 which set Bartolommeo Prignano, Archbishop of Bari, upon what Colchester calls "the apex of the chief Apostolate." On personal grounds our monk must have been pleased at the choice of the electors, for the new Pope was the special protégé of the French Cardinal of Pampeluna, Simon Langham's friend and executor. But financially the effect was provoking. We know that Urban VI. proved himself a man "full of Neapolitan fire and savagery," who thought "that the Cardinals could be reduced to absolute obedience by mere rudeness," 33 and we are quite prepared for Colchester's statement that between the Pope and the Sacred College there arose a great dissension. Cardinals and curials fled secretly, he says, in some numbers, and among [39] the latter the two advocates whom he had briefed and paid. That money at any rate was a dead loss, but there was this advantage in Urban's case, that, knowing the preference of the Cardinals for Anagni as a summer residence, he decided for Tivoli in their despite, and Colchester could get there in a few hours for a couple of florins. Six weeks had to be spent within sound of Horace's waterfall before his business was finished. His return journey led him through Nice, where he was robbed of his cloak and other property. Then to Avignon once more, and thence in due course—at least, so he hoped—to the Abbey.

But he was fated, nevertheless, to turn again and revisit the Roman Court; for while he tarried in Master Southam's lodgings at Avignon, in September, 1378, there came news of a notable murder committed in the church of Westminster while the Gospel was being read at High Mass, 34 on August, 11. The victim was one Robert Hawle, who had escaped from the Tower and had taken sanctuary at Westminster. The incident had its political aspects; it raised various perilous [40] questions; and Southam advised that Colchester should return to Rome in order to counteract any plots that might be mooted in behalf of the authors of "that horrible deed." So again the expenses began to roll up—the journey overland to Marseilles; a passage by galley to Ostia; a sojourn in Rome for the greater part of December, 1378; gratuities on several occasions to the Papal janitors for free entrance to the Chamber and the Consistory, and to the valets for access to the Pope himself; an expensive struggle by each faction to extract from the Curia the kind of Bull that each side wanted, in which our Proctor was apparently successful; and a journey from Rome to Bruges lasting forty-one days. Colchester waited for three weeks at Sluis to secure a passage across the Channel, in the belief that the enemy was watching Calais with the intention of doing him violence; 35 and when he reached his native shore, he rode up to London by ways that were devious for the same reason, arriving there in November, 1379. It was neither easy nor without peril to be the chosen representative of Westminster at the Roman Court.




It is not doubtful that the Abbot and Chapter were well pleased with Colchester's fulfilment of the duties entrusted to him and that the large bill of costs was paid, if not with delight, at any rate with resignation. Of this we have several conclusive indications. First, within a brief space the Convent again despatched him to Rome, in 1382-3, doubtless to continue his management of the same suit. This time there is no record of his payments, nor should we be aware of his journey if it were not for two documents. One is the Chamberlain's compotus-roll of 1382-3. These accounts presented a balance of money on the one side, and a balance of materials on the other side; it was necessary for the Chamberlain to show, not merely that he had purchased so many [42] outfits, but that he had distributed these outfits to such and such Brethren. So when he makes his statement about the habits—panni nigri—he notes that he did not give these to Brother William Colchester nor to Brother William Halle, because they were at Rome. No doubt, Colchester had represented to the Chapter the wisdom of providing him with a companion from the monastery instead of his hiring a courier as before. The other is a legal document, whose purport is of some personal interest. When Colchester left Westminster in 1382-3, Richard Excestr' was about to resign the Priorship, which he had held only since 1377. Attempts seem to have been made, perhaps by some of Colchester's Roman friends during his stay at the Curia, to secure a "provision" of the vacant office for him from the Pope, and the efforts succeeded. The document in question 36 bears date January 2, 1384, and is of the nature of a pardon to Colchester for the prejudice or contempt caused by such efforts to the Crown and its prerogatives. He denied that he was party to the attempt, and paid the necessary fee to the Hanaper for his pardon. The [43] Priorship another took; 37 not, perhaps, because the Brethren thought Colchester unworthy of promotion or too young for it, but because the interests of the House required that he should go to Rome, whither he was sent, as the Treasurers' rolls inform us, both in 1384-5 and 1385-6. The suit against St. Stephen's Chapel still dragged on, and he alone had the knowledge and the experience for hastening its delays.

As a second proof of the confidence reposed in him we may note that in 1382 38 he was Archdeacon of the Convent; it is possible that he held the post earlier; certainly he held it in 1386; and probably he owed it to the Abbot personally. The office of Archdeacon is proverbially puzzling to the lay mind, and it may be that the Archdeaconry of Westminster creates some wonder in the minds even of other Archdeacons. The fact is that the Abbot in the exercise of jurisdiction over his Westminster area required the services of an ecclesiastical jurist in matters of divorce and of excommunication and the like; he needed also some one who would serve as his pastoral [44] representative to those denizens of the area who were not on the foundation of the Convent. For this reason, even in Abbot Ware's time, 39 the Archdeacon was permitted to walk abroad to the Palace or elsewhere in the discharge of his duties, which, indeed, might take him much further afield; for when Abbot Colchester drew up an indenture 40 appropriating to certain memorial purposes the revenues of Aldenham church, he inserted a provision that the Archdeacon of Westminster for the time being should be in charge of the parish, receiving 40s. yearly for his labour therein. We have seen that Colchester's experience marked him out for juridical duties, and we must assume that he was not without pastoral zeal and aptitude.

A letter in Norman French addressed by "William, Conte de Salisbury" to Abbot Litlington will help us to see that his duties were of a varied character. The writer of the letter 41 was William de Montacute, 2nd Earl, who fought at Poitiers and in most of the French wars of his time. Addressing the Abbot as his dear [45] and faithful friend, he thus unfolds his story. His servant, Nicholas Symcok, of London, has been robbed in the middle of June by highwaymen, one of whom, Richard Surrey, is popularly known as Richard atte Belle. The knight of the road has made off with some silver plate and £40 in coin, and has taken sanctuary at Westminster, being hotly pursued by his victim, who finds on Surrey's person all his lost property, less £5 of the stolen money. Symcok has deposited his recovered goods in the hands of Dan William Colchester, one of the lord Abbot's monks, who has laid them aside and placed his seal upon the package. Therefore, my good Lord—asks the Earl—I pray you have these chattels delivered up to my servant. This letter bears no date, and there is no proof that the Archdeacon as such was concerned with the affairs of sanctuary; nor does any title of office accompany the introduction of his name. But the incident was one which bore a legal character and Colchester's part in it may possibly be brought within the vague limits of archidiaconal functions. 42


We are fortunate in possessing one unquestionable intimation as to his personal circumstances while holding this office. It bears date November 9, 1386, shortly before his promotion to the highest room, and is an indenture of lease of sheep. 43 It sets forth that Thomas Charlton, the valet, and Henry Norton, the servant of William Colchester, Archdeacon of Westminster, leased to John Waryn, butcher, of Westminster, 132 muttons—multones—3 rams, and 168 ewes, of the average value of 20d. each, to be fed and kept sound till Ash Wednesday next ensuing; and there follows a statement of the terms upon which the tenant may acquire any or all of them. The bargain was apparently made by the Archdeacon's servants, and the actual document leaves it in doubt whether the sheep were his or theirs, but the endorsement 44 places the ownership beyond question and proves the sheep to have been the Archdeacon's.

The third means adopted by the Convent for marking its sense of Colchester's services to the House was more exceptional. I give the statement [47] of it as it stands in the vellum volume called Liber Niger Quaternus, a fifteenth-century copy of an earlier black paper register compiled by a very active monk called Roger Kyrton, or Cretton, 45 who entered the Convent in 1384-5, served many offices under Abbot Colchester, and survived him by about fourteen years:—

"On September 25, 1382, there was granted to Brother W. Colchester Archdeacon of Westminster a chamber, together with that part of the Garden which belongs to the Lady Chapel; also a pension of six marks [£4] and an additional monk's allowance—corrodium—such as is enjoyed by the seniors; but on condition that if the said William be promoted to any prelacy elsewhere, the pension, the allowance and the chamber are to revert to the Convent."

Two questions of topography arise here, the position of the Garden and that of the chambers, or "camerae." It is not necessary to assume that they were contiguous. "The part of the Garden which belongs to the Lady Chapel" cannot be located with certainty, but the Convent Garden lay in the acres eastward of St. Martin's Church, Charing Cross, which still retain the name, and are now [48] the scene of the sale of garden-produce that is grown elsewhere. Our great chartulary called Domesday 46 shows that the Lady Chapel was given considerable property in this district during the reign of Henry III., under whom the chapel was built. In view of our information that within four years the Archdeacon possessed a flock of 400 sheep, it seems reasonable to suppose that his share of the Garden included considerable pasturage, and that he sometimes took his walks abroad in the direction of Charing to see if it was well with the flocks.

There is less doubt about the position of the chambers, which are often mentioned in connexion with the Infirmary, and which were probably attached to Little Cloisters, then recently rebuilt by Abbot Litlington. To this day the south side of Little Cloisters shows an alternation of old doors and old windows that suggests a row of almshouses. It thus becomes easy to realize that a separate residence, instead of the usual bed in the Great Dormitory, was a privilege highly prized and rarely conferred.



It is natural to ask in what conditions the tenants of these chambers lived, and the answer can be given in some detail. We have a long strip of frail paper, 47 3 ft. 7 in. × 5½ in., which deals with the post-mortem distribution of the effects of a monk whom William Colchester must have known long and well. Richard Excestr' said his first Mass, as did Colchester himself, in 1361-2; he became Prior quite early in life, in 1377; but, as we have seen, he resigned the office in 1382, and we do not know why his tenure of it was so brief. That the reason was not discreditable to himself may be inferred from the fact that on his resignation he was given precedence next after the new Prior, receiving a pension of four marks, a double, or Prior's, assignment of clothing, and a double share of the pittances that marked certain anniversaries, till his death in 1397. In this paper, then, his modest effects are arranged according to the rooms in which they stood, like the items in an auctioneer's catalogue when the sale is to take place, by order of the executors, on the premises. We gather that he has a reception-room, or "aula," where he can entertain a few friends, with a special welcome [50] for any Brother who can play chess (for among his possessions are a chess-board and a set of chess-men 48); a pantry, or "buteleria," for his little store of plate and crockery and napery, including a silver cup and cover, thirteen silver spoons (was it a complete "Apostle" set?), and a table-cloth 3½ yards in length; a bedroom, or "camera," containing his white bedstead with a tester over it, and a "parpoynt," as well as his wardrobe; a kitchen, or "coquina," equipped with "droppyngpannes," "dressyng-Knyues," "flesshhokys," "anndyrons," a "treuet," and three pans which like the trivet are honestly described in the catalogue as being the worse for wear; 49 and a library, or "studium," with ten books and three maps. Among these books there was of course some scholastic theology and canon law, but there was also the Latin version of the Book of Messer Marco Polo, as if to signify that the latest modern literature was by no means excluded. The Provost of King's, who was kind enough to look through the list for me, takes this to be, as I suspected, 50 a very early instance of English [51] interest in the Venetian traveller's adventures; and added that he believes it to be still more rare that a man of this monk's period should possess a map of Scotland.

As there was nothing exceptional in the disposal of the ex-prior's goods, 51 the incident may be fairly taken as an illustration of Convent life as Colchester lived it, and we may therefore go on to notice that, putting together the sum that Excestr' left in cash and that which was realized by the sale of some of these articles, the Convent was able to pay the cost of his illness and burial; the items ranged from 2d. for milk to 10s. for the fee of the brief-writer who wrote out the formal announcement of his death on one shilling's worth of parchment for the information of other Benedictine houses, and £4 13s. 4d. for a marble slab with a memorial inscription. As Excestr' died in 1397, we may think of Abbot Colchester as saying the last words over the open grave of his former neighbour in Little Cloisters.




Our Archdeacon was not destined to remain such for any great time. On November 29, 1386, there passed away during a meal-time 52 at his manor house of la Neyte, near Westminster, our great builder, Abbot Nicholas Litlington, to whom we owe the south and west sides of the Great Cloister, the Little Cloisters, Jerusalem Chamber, the Abbot's Dining Hall, and much besides of the present Deanery, and the great Missal. 53 The vigour of Litlington's character can be realized from what we have seen of the fight which he maintained through William Colchester for the privileges of the Abbey, but Colchester must have [53] witnessed a more remarkable proof of the old man's pluck. In the Liber Niger (f. 87) there is a record to the effect that a threatened invasion of our shores by the French King in 1386 caused the Chapter of the Convent to come to the unanimous opinion that the old Abbot and two of his monks, John Canterbery and John Burgh, should don full armour and proceed as far as the coast, on the ground that it was lawful to do so for the defence of the realm. 54 It is astonishing that Litlington should have contemplated such an enterprise at his age, for we have a letter in Norman French, not dated, but clearly referring to this period, in which he excuses himself on the ground of "age et feblesse" for not coming to the Abbey "en propre persone" to bring to the King the famous ring of St. Edward. But Litlington's possession of armour cannot be doubted. There remains a schedule 55 of his effects at his death, which shows that those which passed into the hands of his successor consisted chiefly of various accoutrements, and included six hauberks; a [54] helmet called a "pisanum"; seven others called basnetts with ventailles or vizors; a "ketelhat"; a pair of steel gloves; some "leg-harneys"; fore-braces and back-braces; and four lance-heads.


Though general opinion pointed to his election in Litlington's stead, Colchester was in some danger of disappointment. He had spent so much time abroad—a very large proportion of the preceding nine years—being engaged all the time in a cause which brought him into collision with the preferences of the Court, that it is not wonderful if the King desired the election of another. We can thus easily credit the statement of a Westminster chronicler, 56 whom the Dean of Wells believes to have been the rival candidate himself, that, when the vacancy occurred, the King wrote thrice to the Prior and Convent urging them to find their new Abbot in Brother John Lakyngheth, the very Treasurer whom we have seen in the act of paying to William Colchester the sums required for his long journeys and his legal costs, perhaps with a keen satisfaction at [55] thus facilitating his rival's absence. But the Convent had made up its mind, and within a fortnight 57 of Litlington's decease, Colchester was elected Abbot by compromission; that is to say, the Brethren chose a committee of five or seven of their number and entrusted to them the choice of the best man. Richard II. was angry, and refused for a while to receive the nomination. We have the request 58 of the Prior and Convent to the King, written in French, but not bearing any date, to give his consent to their choice of "daunz William Colchestre un de lours commoignes en abbe et pastoure." The letter was written at a time when Richard could be said to have "graciousement accroiez votre roial assent al election auantdite," and when it was only necessary to petition him to make formal announcement of it to the Pope. But there was considerable delay also on the part of the Pope, who wanted to quash the election and to appoint [56] by "provision." 59 But the King's ambassador intervened, and the bulls of confirmation were issued September 1, 1387. Colchester was installed October 12, and made a great feast to his friends on St. Edward's Day. His temporalities had been restored September 10. 60 All this places Richard's attitude towards him in some doubt, especially as, on November 10, the King, who walked barefoot from Charing to the Abbey precincts, was there received by Colchester and his Brethren vested in copes. Almost immediately there arose a difficult question about sanctuary, as to which the reader may be again referred to the Polychronicon. 61 Words almost fail the scribe as he pictures the reverence and love of the King for the Church. "There is not a Bishop on the bench," he says, "who displays as much zeal for the Church's rights."

Thus it came to pass that King and Court alike poured upon the Abbey the benefits of their generosity in spite of Colchester's election, and in the case of the Court the gifts came quite as [57] readily from Richard's enemies as from his friends. Within three months of Colchester's installation, on December 1, 1387, a deed 62 was executed whereby the Abbot and Convent bound themselves to observe the anniversary of Thomas of Woodstock, Richard's uncle and at that time his fierce enemy, and of Eleanor de Bohun, his wife, in return for a splendid gift, which included vestments of cloth of gold, broidered with their initials, silver-gilt vessels for the altar, a silver-gilt thurible adorned with images of the saints, and two silver candlesticks formed of angels bearing the heraldic shields of the houses of Essex and Hereford. 63

Richard's own gifts to the church during Colchester's time were even more magnifical. On May 28, 1389, there was a royal grant, witnessed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and many others, conveying to the Convent a richly adorned chasuble of cloth of gold, two tunicles, three albs, the orphreys bearing representations of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, St. John Baptist, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edmund [58] the King, and "a certain Abbess." In 1394, after the death of his beloved Queen, Anne of Bohemia, came Richard's grant of £200 yearly to maintain an anniversary for her, and for him when he should depart hence; 64 which was followed in 1399 by his grant to the Abbey of manors and lands in Middlesex, Bedfordshire, and Berkshire, 65 whence an equivalent in rents would be derived in perpetuity. To this gift the Dean and Chapter owe the advowson of Steventon, Berkshire, which they still retain. On the other side, it may be admitted that Richard made use of the Abbey's resources; we have his note of hand for a loan of £100, dated September 11, 1397. 66 To what extent he fostered that building of the Nave, which our documents speak of as the New Work, has been told in detail elsewhere. 67 It comes to this, that Colchester's effigy in stained glass looks into the Nave from a window which probably dates from Henry III.'s time, but it faces towards Purbeck pillars which were the work of one of our Abbot's most zealous officers, [59] Peter Coumbe. The portion of the triforium above his window is also due to Henry III., but in his old age Colchester may well have seen the workmen busy with the erection of the corresponding section of the clerestory.




As before, if we want to know an Abbot's interests and his manner of life at home, we shall go to the accounts of his stewards or Seneschals. His rent-roll is less than Abbot Litlington's, and there are heavier arrears. The country is greatly unsettled and it is not an easy time for landholders. We possess a clear "statement 68 of the lands and apportionments of the lord William by the grace of God Abbot of Westminster," as audited in the year 1388. The total revenue when fully paid has fallen to £617 16s. 1d., but there are arrears amounting to £104 12s. 7d. However, if his receipts are less, his stock is still plentiful; he possesses 58 horses and 19 foals; 351 heads of cattle; 2287 sheep and lambs; and 299 pigs. When he listened to his monks and lay clerks singing the 144th Psalm, he had every reason to [61] join in the desire "that our garners may be full and plenteous with all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: that our oxen may be strong to labour"; and he knew his times well enough to ask also that there may be "no complaining in our streets."

We have six rolls of his Seneschals between 1388 and 1403, and we may put together from these the facts that are to be gleaned about him. At this time, at any rate, he was a man of good health. There is a slight reference to an indisposition in 1389, and once there is a fee of one shilling to a doctor for treating his "tibia," which seems to have been a peculiarly vulnerable part of monkish anatomy. On the other hand, he does not appear to have been as fond of field sports as his great predecessor; at least in 1402-3 his steward bought 359 rabbits, 41 woodcock and a pheasant, which would hardly be necessary if his lordship were in the habit of inviting the neighbouring gentry to help him keep down his game. It is evident that his estates are being well managed. We can tell, for instance, that in 1388-9, on his manors of Eybury, Denham, [62] Laleham and Pyrford, he sold 215 stone of wool at 1s. 9d. a stone. He made red wine at Islip, and his price for it was £2 12s. 6d. a pipe. The needs of his own establishment were mainly supplied from Denham and Pyrford, especially the former; for his accounts are full of small payments to servants who had driven pigs from Denham to la Neyte. In other words, when he was in town he did not patronize the Westminster tradesmen, but he purchased supplies from himself as over-lord of Denham. For these he paid his factor at Denham the current price, so that the manor could give a good account of its takings at the end of the year.

And this careful accountancy went to quite practical lengths. For instance, the Abbot was wont to receive during each year a large number of "exennia," which, as we have seen, were complimentary presents mostly offered in kind. It happens that there is a complete list of these with the names of the donors for 1388-9. The clergy beneficed on the estate, such as the rector of Islip, the vicar of Hurley, where the Abbey had a daughter priory, the rectors of Oddington and Sutton on the Gloucestershire property, [63] and the vicar of Brailes in Warwickshire; the heads of the affiliated convents, such as Hurley, Greater Malvern, Deerhurst, and Pershore; the tenants, such as the miller at Pyrford; the man who rents the church farm at Longdon; various monks of the Abbey, such as John Stowe, who brings now a lamb as a peace-offering, now the results of his skill with the line, a pike or an eel, and now that which he has taken with his bow, a brace of bittern; and Peter Coumbe, the Sacrist and warden of the New Work, who offers a swan and a brace of pheasants. The gifts, in fact, are from all sorts and conditions of folk. There is the King's larderer with his modest present of fish; there is Master Thomas Southam, Cardinal Langham's lawyer, who now sends the Abbot a pipe of red wine, the most costly of all the gifts, in the hope, no doubt, of continuing to serve his present lordship in a similar capacity; and, most pathetic of all, there are two women, who claim to be of the Abbot's kin, 69 and who offer for his acceptance half a dozen capons. But the point for us is the careful management of his affairs, which appears in the fact that each of these eighty-three [64] contributions is entered by the Seneschal at its market-price. The pipe of wine figures at £2 13s. 4d.; the lamb at 8d.; the six capons from the poor relations at 2s.; and the brace of bittern at 2s. 6d. Altogether these tributes towards his maintenance save the expenses of the mansion by £14 11s. 6d., and a reference to his steward's balance-sheet under the head of "outside receipts" shows this exact sum entered as derived from the "exennia" of divers persons. Prudent housewifery could scarcely go further. On the other hand, he does not so treat the presents he receives from the great ones of the earth. When a stag arrives from Windsor, or a buck from the Baroness Despenser, the cash value of these compliments is not taken into the account; there is merely an acknowledgment that certain recognitions in money have been given to the bearers of the gifts.

It is natural to ask whether the accounts show signs of luxurious habits. Certainly not in his furnishing. Thus, in 1401 he was adding to the accommodation of his London mansion of la Neyte. For his new parlour he obtained a cupboard for 10s., two chairs for 4s. 6d., six stools [65] for 4s. 4d., and a deal table for the same sum. I think (the word is not quite clear) that he had a curtain provided for his study-window at a cost of 1s. 8d.; and there was a fireplace in his parlour, for which his Seneschal laid out 7d. upon coal. Certainly not, again, in wine and strong drink; for his outlay under this head was about a sixth part of the sum which he spent upon corn and meat. Nor is there any evidence that he used his position for the enrichment of poor relations. It may be that we can detect a needy kinsman in one John Colchester who was granted 3s. 4d. by my lord's command at la Neyte in March, 1389, and it was quite possibly for a sister-in-law—the wife of Thomas Colchester—that he ordered a diamond ring 70 at a cost of 40s. on May 31 of that year, perhaps because it was her birthday. When one of his servants was sent to Colchester on some personal business of the Abbot, the man was evidently not expected to comport himself as if his master's resources were unlimited, for his total expenses were 2s. 4d.

The Abbot liked to have one or two of the younger monks around him, such as John Sandon [66] and Thomas Merke, whom we have met, as Shakespeare also met him, in the events that gather mysteriously round the end of Richard II.'s reign. No doubt, they joined him at table in the new parlour of la Neyte, but the only sign of further bounty towards them was a gift of 6s. 8d. to them jointly for a treat—pro gaudiis—a term which survives in the custom of applying the word "gaudy" to those College entertainments to which at the moment Oxford is patriotically a stranger.

When the great man moved about, it was seemingly not with any great train; otherwise it would hardly be necessary for the Seneschal to give 1s. 8d. to a certain man for guiding my lord out of the forest of Rockingham, as if the Abbot were too lonely to face the possible appearance of Robin Hood with equanimity. But, of course, there were exceptional circumstances when he would travel in the dignity of his position. There was a formal visitation of the manors of Denham, Laleham, Staines, and Pyrford in 1402-3, which cost over £6, and visits to Henry IV. in the same year at Ware and Windsor and Berkhamstead, at an expense of about £4. A short time after, [67] the Abbot had to face a continental journey, but £4 12s. is no great sum to enter as "the expenses of my lord and his household in setting out for Calais with porterage and the hire of a boat to take him to the ship, and also the expenses of John Sandon and John Stowe [two monks] and part of the household on their way back to London."

Not a little of his petty expenses arose from the frequency with which he was officially visited by persons of position who were not too proud to receive a present of money, and would have resented its absence. They were mostly content with much less than the 20s. imparted to the Remembrancer of the King's Exchequer, but the gifts of 3s. 4d. mounted up when the Abbot must receive now a Herald and his boy, now the Sheriff of Middlesex and his valet and his boy, now a messenger with a summons to Parliament, now two criers from the King's Bench, and all within a brief space of time.

But Abbot Colchester did indulge one luxury, whether out of a taste for it or because it was the fashion of the time, I cannot say. He was fond of being entertained, particularly by musicians; [68] and his Seneschal's accounts during these six or seven years are full of small payments to such persons, from a boy who danced before my lord at Walsingham for 6d. to Henry the piper—fistulator—who was retained at Pyrford all Christmas time for 14s. He could provide some of this enjoyment from the resources of the Abbey, as when he made two clerks bring a pair of organs from Westminster to Pyrford. His chief delight was to have Master Percyvale and other of the King's minstrels, especially on great festivals such as St. Peter ad Vincula, and he could listen to Percyvale for the modest consideration of 2s. Evidently it came to be known that he had tastes of this kind, for William of Wykeham's pipers journeyed to Pyrford to strut their little hour before the Abbot; Henry Despenser, the fighting Bishop of Norwich and doughty champion of Richard II., sent his minstrels to entertain my lord when he was at Birlingham; the Duke of Gloucester, Thomas of Woodstock, kept a blind harper who gave a performance at Denham; and the other visitors included the Abbot of Eynsham's player—lusor—and the musicians of the ill-fated Earl of Arundel. Even when he was [69] resident for a space in Northampton for the General Chapter of the Benedictine Order, he was sometimes entertained by mummers. 71

But it would not be fair to think of him as having no desires that went down to the realities of things. For he lived in troublous times, and he knew how Christian men should face the serious issues that then emerged. His duty to the country and to the various properties for which he stood in trust called him away from Westminster often, and sometimes for prolonged periods. It is possible by means of the accounts of his various bailiffs to follow his comings and goings; for the receipts from the properties must be delivered to the Abbot in person, and there is thus an entry of the cost of journeying to such and such a place, wherever he happened to be, and generally of the cost of one or two horsemen for safety's sake. But the Abbey and the welfare of his Brethren were in his mind, and he kept a guiding hand upon their spiritual concerns, particularly in times of trial. There is an instance of this in a document, 72 which bears no date except [70] August 31, but which may be assigned with reasonable certainty to Richard II.'s troubled reign. It is headed in another hand, "W. Abbot of Westminster to the Prior of the same place"; but this is an error. The Abbot in a quite exceptional way addresses himself to the officers or obedientiaries without mentioning the Prior, and I incline to attributing the document to the latest years of Richard II., because the Prior, John de Wratting, 73 was then becoming unequal to his duties. It is true that our evidence for this is dated 1405, 74 but, as Wratting was then over eighty, it may hold almost as well for seven or eight years earlier. The Abbot's message is as follows:—

"My beloved sons in Christ,

"The most serene Prince our lord the King has urgently required of us that in this present time of dire necessity we should be instant in prayer to the most High with all our hearts for the good estate of King and country. For enemies without and rebels within are confederate in their malicious plots to shatter the peace of the realm. You therefore to whom (under us) belongs the administration of government in our monastery we hereby urge and enjoin that, [71] considering what we say above, you should put a limit upon the Brethren's walks abroad and upon their ridings into distant parts—except of course in the case of the Monk Bailiff—until God grants us more peaceful times. Call all and singular your Brethren to Chapter and bid them from me to be content with their usual recreation within the house and to give themselves so much the more earnestly to meditation and prayer as the distress and wickedness of the times become more pressing. Go in solemn procession every fourth day round the bounds of the monastery, and every sixth day through the vill of Westminster, praying for a successful issue and for the common weal of the King and the realm—petitions which are already earnestly commended to the private prayers of all the Brethren. Summon all the chaplains and clerks dwelling within St. Margaret's parish to join you, and specially the clerks of our Almonry, according to custom. Fare you well in Christ now and for ever."

The Abbot wrote from Denham; but his heart was with his Brethren in a time of trouble.

There are also signs that in normal times he was exercising an effect on the organization of conventual activity. In his roll for 1393-4 the officer called the Warden of the Churches made entry that he had paid to Peter Coumbe, as Sacrist, the sum of 32s., at the rate of 4s. for each [72] of the Abbey's eight principal feasts," in accordance with the recent ordinance of the lord William now Abbot." 75 It is an intimation that the Abbot was already making his influence felt, and was encouraging his Brethren to regard the solemnities of divine worship 76 as the chief care of their monastic life.




But though we may realize that Abbot Colchester loved his Convent and cherished it, we still have to think of him as being often compelled to wander far from it. True, he had spent so much time in Rome before his election, that he was able to escape in 1390 the triennial visit ad limina which was normally expected of an Abbot. He was represented on that occasion by John Borewell, an active and efficient monk, who had succeeded him in the Archdeaconry in 1387; he was also represented by the gifts of himself and his Brethren on the occasion of the year of Jubilee, which are carefully recorded in the Liber Niger (f. 92). But that exemption did not avail to keep him at home, for we are told that on December 14, 1391, he set out for the Continent [74] on the King's business, the King being responsible for his travelling charges and his safe conduct. 77


In 1393 he was commissioned by the Pope to join the Bishop of Salisbury and the Abbot of Waltham in an inquiry into the statutes and customs of the Collegiate Chapter of the Chapel in Windsor Castle, and to correct and reform these, where they seemed to need it. 78 John de Waltham, Bishop of Salisbury, and our Abbot were there associated not for the first time or the last. Two years later the Bishop died, and was buried by Richard's desire in the Confessor's Chapel. Waltham was a successful favourite, without claim to royal sepulture, and we may assume that Colchester and the Convent were among the many who protested. It is, perhaps, not unfair to assert that "the Abbey was well considered for this," or that the monks' "scruples were overborne by gifts of money and vestments." 79 Yet it is a fact that, whereas the Bishop was buried in 1395, the indenture tripartite, 80 which dealt with the use to be made of the gifts, was [75] not drawn up till July 15, 1412. It recites that the Bishop, who had served the Kings of England from his boyhood in their Chancery and in other and higher offices, was buried among the tombs of the Kings; 81 that at the sight of his bier—we must, no doubt, think of Abbot Colchester as standing by—Richard II. had given to the Abbey a rich "Jesse" vestment valued at 1000 marks, and that the executors had added another vestment valued at £40 and 500 marks in money. Colchester and the Convent covenanted to observe the Bishop's obit—September 18—which we know they did to the last. They also admitted into their company one of the Bishop's executors, Ralph Selby, Archdeacon of Buckingham, giving him precedence next to the Prior with corresponding privileges, and granting him, in 1402-3, a yearly pension of £4. This does not support the notion of the Convent's hostility to John de Waltham; at the same time it occurs too late to be reckoned as a bargain entered into for the purpose of securing to the Bishop a posthumous honour which they were unwilling to accord, even when Richard II. asked for it.


I pass by Colchester's part, if he took any, in Richard's journey to Ireland in 1399; 82 for our records throw no light on what did not concern the Convent. There appears to be no doubt that he was confederate with the Earls of Rutland, Huntingdon, Kent, and Salisbury, who were at first confided to his safe-keeping by Henry IV.; that he took part on December 17, 1399, in a secret gathering of the conspirators within the Abbey; that he was arrested, and sent first to Reigate and then, January 25, 1400, to the Tower; and that he was released, after a trial there held on February 4. 83 He had, of course, received Henry IV. when he made his progress to Westminster on October 12, 1399, and had taken part in the coronation on the following day. 84

But inside the Convent there was an evident desire to eschew partisanships, as any one can realize who reads Roger Cretton's bare and impartial record in the Liber Niger. 85 I therefore [77] pass from public questions and take up an otherwise undated letter 86 of the Abbot, written from Cologne on October 10, to two important Westminster monks whom we have already had before us, Peter Coumbe and John Borewell. It reveals Colchester's close interest in Abbey affairs, however far away he might be, and it is even somewhat peremptory in tone. For he had referred to them some detail of monastic business, and says that he is daily awaiting their answer, in order that he may take action accordingly. The Convent, he adds, is to receive with due honour a relation of the Bishop of Lincoln, remembering that his lordship has always been gracious to them in matters of conventual concern.

We must try to fix the date of this journey through Cologne, and some things can be soon [78] settled. It must be before 1409-10, when John Borewell died. 87 He was in office as Granger, Kitchener, Cellarer, and Gardener almost till his death, and he had been in partnership with Peter Coumbe, as manager of the funds provided for Queen Anne's anniversary, 88 from 1394 to 1399. But who is the Bishop of Lincoln? It is tempting to think of the princely Henry Beaufort, the most potent holder of the see at this period; if so, the journey would fall at some time before 1404, when Beaufort was translated to Winchester, and thus it might even be got just within the limits of the partnership above-mentioned, for he was appointed to Lincoln in 1398. But we have evidence pointing to 1407 and 1408 as the time with which the visit to Cologne must be connected, and bringing Henry Beaufort's help and Abbot Colchester's travels into further association. It is a tattered paper document 89 which states that when Colchester was in foreign parts in 1407, 90 the [79] collector of Romescot for the county of Surrey doubled his demand upon the chapels of Pyrford and Horsell from 12½d. each to 25d. each, and laid them under interdict when payment was refused. But the Bishop of Winchester issued a special mandate to the collector to desist from the exaction. Beaufort was therefore not abroad at the time with Colchester, but was defending his interests at home. But both Colchester and Philip Repingdon, Bishop of Lincoln, were in Italy in 1408. Colchester was at Lucca and Pisa in May, supporting the Cardinals who were struggling with Gregory XII., 91 and his old friend, Bishop Merke, was with him. At Siena, on September 18, Gregory created ten new Cardinals, and one of these was Philip Repingdon. 92 It would be natural that he and Colchester should then meet, possibly travelling homeward together, and being in Cologne on October 10.


The matter of the augmented Romescot was brought to an end at Guildford, says the document, after the Abbot's return to England, July 22, 1412. This must not be interpreted to mean a [80] continuous absence of five years, 1407-12, for we have seen the Abbot on his homeward way in 1408, and know that in July, 1411, he presided alone over the General Chapter of Benedictines at Northampton. 93 His absence in 1412, which is also substantiated by his bailiffs' payments to a substitute, was due to one more journey to Rome; for the account of the "Novum Opus" for 1412-3 enters payment, by consent of the Prior and the Seniors, of the large sum of £33 to the Abbot for the acceleration of certain concerns of the church in the Roman Court. It is possible that this journey took place in the autumn; for great events at home, in which the Abbot had some share, marked the months which followed. Early in 1413 94 Henry IV. had a seizure while at his devotions in the Abbey, and we should like to know whether the Abbot was in town and gave his instructions for the King's removal to the noblest apartment in the abbatial residence, Jerusalem Chamber, where he died on March 20. It does not appear that Colchester took any part in the royal obsequies, but there is no doubt that he assisted at the coronation of Henry V. in the [81] Abbey church on that snowy Passion Sunday, April 9, 1413. For when the King's chantry was built, about twenty years after Colchester's death, its famous sculptures included two Coronation groups—perhaps, the acclamation and the homage 95—in each of which the Abbot is represented as standing, in cope and mitre, on the King's left hand, Thomas Arundel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, being on the King's right hand. We may also assume that Colchester was at Westminster to receive Henry, when he attended divine service in the church on Ascension Day and Whitsunday of that year. 96 The new King's devotion to the Abbey was beyond question, and his zeal for the immediate resumption of the New Work in the nave would tend to keep the Abbot at hand. Operations began on July 7, one thousand marks a year being granted by the Crown; 97 and Colchester would see things well in train under the hands of Richard Whitington and Brother Richard Harwden, before he left the precincts once more.


Possibly he had a rest from travel in the year 1413-4; at least we have nothing more serious to notice than his Receiver's payment of 8d. for boat hire "when my lord dined with the Archbishop at Lambhyth." But the autumn of 1414 saw him once more setting out for foreign parts; for Henry chose him as one of the English delegates to the great Council of Constance. 98 People spoke of the greatness of his train as he journeyed. Dr. Wylie remarks that he "was looked upon by the foreigners as a prince." 99 Perhaps he himself thought sometimes of the very different circumstances in which he and his man Gerard had crossed the Channel in fear and trembling, seven and thirty years earlier. He had been already engaged, as collector of the triennial contribution of ½d. in the mark imposed on English Benedictine houses, in paying out loans for their journey to the Abbot of St. Edmundsbury and the Prior of Worcester, who were the delegates from the Order to the same Council, and in sending fees to the various counsel who were retained by the Order at Constance. We have his triennial accounts as [83] collector for 1417 and 1420, 100 which show that the business of the Council hung about him for the rest of his days; even in the latter, made up long after Constance had seen the last of its visitors, he was still reckoning the cost of a monk of Worcester's journey to Constance and back.

How long he remained at Constance, and what part he took in the tortuous proceedings, we do not know. The spring and summer of 1415 were anxious times in England, and Henry V. would be glad to have so shrewd an adviser within reach. The Abbot was now about seventy-seven years of age, and the lust of travel must have long since ceased. The King's writ went forth in May for the "Array and Munitioning of the Clergy" by July 16, 101 and the head of our House would be concerned to see that Westminster did its duty, per alios if not per se. Our Treasurers' roll for 1414-5 shows how Abbot and Convent performed their several parts:—

"For one new chariot with six horses in the same, over and above one [chariot] provided by the lord Abbot, and with a complete set [84] of harness for the said chariot and for the horses pertaining thereto—the whole being bought and given to our lord the King on the occasion of his expedition to France, together with the wages of a valet, a groom, and a page for the said chariot, and cloth bought for their livery, besides the maintenance of the men and the horses aforesaid for three weeks, pending the King's departure for France this year. xxxiii. li. xii. d."

If we may take it that the Abbot's expenditure on his chariot was of the same extent, we have a total outlay of £66, or about £1000 of our money.

Colchester's generally good health began to fail in 1416, and his apothecary was called in to apply various remedies at a fee of 16s. 8d. 102 At home he could still find interest in watching the progress of the New Work, for the north aisle of the nave was being proceeded with and the pillars of the triforium above it were being put in their place. 103 If Henry's gifts for the purpose failed to reach Henry's expectations and the Convent's, that is only another way of saying that Colchester's aged thoughts were often occupied with the expedition to France and the scenes that he knew so familiarly. He may have taken part in the [85] rejoicings over the victory of Agincourt; he certainly received a special message about the capture of Rouen in 1418. 104

He died in 1420 at a good old age, probably fourscore and two, and in the 34th year of his Abbacy. The exact day is not recorded. We know that there was much mortality in the Convent during 1419-20. When the Wardens of Queen Alianore's Manors made up their accounts to Michaelmas (they did so generally about November), they wrote at the end a sorrowful list of twelve names with a note that "all these died this year together with the lord Abbot and Brother Thomas Peuerel." Thus in strictness we might put his death before September 29. But the rolls were by no means precise in the matter, and often included those who died at any time before the day on which the accounts were balanced. Moreover, we have the royal licence to the Convent to elect a successor, 105 which is dated November 12, 1420. We may therefore suppose that Colchester died late in October or [86] early in November. He was buried in the Chapel of St. John Baptist, where his much battered free-stone image lies on an altar-tomb. His initials still remain, but the heraldry has long since perished, and his mitre and gloves have lost the jewels that once adorned them. It adds insult to this injury that his countenance should be described as "stern and ill-favoured." 106

But the character behind the countenance is not difficult to sum up. In his own day he was reckoned to be a man of shrewd judgment and wide experience; we have noted the far-travelled uses that were made of him by the Convent and by the Crown, and we can conclude that his judgment increased in shrewdness as his experience extended in width. Indeed, he retained this quality to the last. We have seen that there is still extant an account of his official disbursements in behalf of the General Chapter of the Benedictines at Northampton for the last year of his life, 1420. 107 It includes payments made, for special services rendered, to two Westminster monks, who had been bidden to attend the conference. They were Richard Harwden and [87] Edmund Kirton, and each was appointed Abbot of Westminster in his turn. It is not every man of eighty-two who is shrewd enough to pick out his successors for the next forty years, and at the same time large-hearted enough to give them every encouragement to fit themselves for the office which he holds. Indeed, his was the kind of character to which justice can only be done after a lapse of time. It is necessary to look back at the men who, noting his shrewdness, came to a conviction that he was also just and trustworthy—Richard II., who opposed his election as Abbot, but lived to prove his friendship; Henry IV., who knew his friendship for Richard, and at first treated him accordingly, but afterwards found no reason to regret the clemency shown to him; Henry V., who appreciated his devotion to Richard, and did not honour him the less because of Henry IV.'s early suspicions; and the Cardinals and others who met him in the tortuous paths by which ecclesiastical diplomacy was trying to make its way towards the peace of the distracted Church. We may leave on William Colchester's memorial an inscription taken from a letter addressed to him by Thomas Merke, [88] Bishop of Carlisle, who was conveying to the Abbot a request that he would use his influence at the Roman Court on behalf of Merton Hall, Oxford. We shall admit that Merke was his intimate friend, and shall remember that Colchester showed his own affection for Merke by arranging that the Bishop should be commemorated at Hurley Priory along with the Abbot's parents. 108 Merke's witness, however, may still be true. "Men like," he wrote, "to know your Paternity's views on these matters, for they observe your solidity, which is a rare virtue in these days, and they give you their confidence all the more." 109 No other Abbot ruled our House as long as he; nor could any man of his line desire a more satisfying verdict on his character.





1 (return)
"Such were the Abbots of Westminster," says Dean Stanley (Memorials, 3rd ed., p. 394), after recording the little that he knew of them, adding that, "if from the Abbots we descend to the Monks their names are still more obscure."

2 (return)
Act iv. sc. 1, ll. 332-3.

3 (return)
Act v. sc. 6, ll. 19-21.

4 (return)
Mun. 5259.

5 (return)
Mun. 5260, A.

6 (return)
The reader who wishes to know what parts of this ancient and interesting church were known to Abbot Colchester may be referred to the details and the plan given in the Herts. volume of the Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, 1911, p. 31 f.

7 (return)
Mun. 3571; October 5, 1411.

8 (return)
Customary of Canterbury and Westminster, H.B.S. i. 261, 404.

9 (return)
This custom will be treated in greater detail in the introduction to a Register of the Westminster Benedictines, which will be issued shortly.

10 (return)
Reyner, de Antiq. Benedict. in Anglia, App., p. 55.

11 (return)
This sum is roughly equivalent to that which an economical undergraduate spends at the present time.

12 (return)
Cf. Flete, ed. J. Armitage Robinson, p. 70.

13 (return)
The inventories of the Monasteries imply that the blessed Virgin was industrious with her needle.

14 (return)
Customary, ii. 49: Idem vero secretarius zonam beatae Dei genetricis, ubicumque destinetur, sumptibus suis portare vel, si per alios portatur, expensas eis exhibere tenetur, cum vectura, si forte indigeat.

15 (return)
Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of Durham, 1345-81.

16 (return)
Mun. 27968.

17 (return)
John Sergeaunt, Annals of Westminster School, pp. 57, 130.

18 (return)
The building is still in the sole care of His Majesty's Office of Works.

19 (return)
Cf. J. T. Smith, Antiquities of Westminster, 1807, p. 38, etc.

20 (return)
J. T. Smith, Antiquities of Westminster, 1807, p. 100; Widmore, History of Westminster Abbey, pp. 103-4.

21 (return)
Mun. 9256, C, D.

22 (return)
The manuscript actually says July; but what follows shows this to be an error; e.g. he was at Bruges for the two feasts of June 24 and June 29.

23 (return)
Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, Simon Langham, Ch. Quart. Rev., July, 1908, p. 358.

24 (return)
Cf. L. Pastor, Geschichte der Päpste, i. p. 109.

25 (return)
Non potuit reperire societatem versus Auinionem.

26 (return)
Propter diuersitatem lingue et viarum discrimina in partibus transmarinis.

27 (return)
Prout modus est patrie.

28 (return)
Infirmabatur per viam quasi ad mortem.

29 (return)
Mun. 9228.

30 (return)
Widmore, p. 191; Mun. 9225.

31 (return)
Pastor, Gesch. d. P. i. p. 113.

32 (return)
See the account in Pastor, Gesch. d. P.; and Creighton, Hist. of the Papacy, i. 61 ff.

33 (return)
Creighton, ibid., p. 67.

34 (return)
Cf. Lib. Nig. Quat. f. 88b, 89; J. C. Cox, Sanctuaries, p. 51 f.; G. M. Trevelyan, England in the Age of Wycliffe, p. 87.

35 (return)
Quod non erat ausus transire per Calis' propter metum aduersariorum.

36 (return)
Mun. 9503.

37 (return)
Viz. John de Wratting, Colchester's senior by about eighteen years.

38 (return)
Cf. Mun. 18478, D.

39 (return)
Customary, ii. 95.

40 (return)
Mun. 5260, A.; December 3, 1407.

41 (return)
Mun. 9615.

42 (return)
On the other hand, Colchester may have come into the affair either as Abbot's Seneschal or as Convent Treasurer.

43 (return)
Mun. 5984.

44 (return)
Indentura Willelmi Colchester de ouibus suis ad firmam dimissis.

45 (return)
Cf. Robinson and James, Manuscripts of Westminster Abbey, p. 96 f.

46 (return)
F. 507-69.

47 (return)
Mun. 6603.

48 (return)
Tabularium cum familia.

49 (return)

50 (return)
Cf. Col. H. Yule, Marco Polo, vol. i., Introd., §§ 75-8.

51 (return)
There are corresponding records in the cases of Abbot Litlington (ob. 1386), Mun. 5446, and of John Canterbery (ob. 1400), Mun. 18883.

52 (return)
In manerio de la Neyte, hora prandendi (Lib. Nig. Quat. f. 86).

53 (return)
Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, The Abbot's House at Westminster, chap. ii., and Robinson and James, Manuscripts of Westminster Abbey, pp. 7 ff.

54 (return)
See an article by the Dean of Wells on the Array of the Clergy in July, 1415 (Nineteenth Century and After, July, 1915, p. 86).

55 (return)
Mun. 5446.

56 (return)
Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, An Unrecognised Westminster Chronicler, pp. 16, 22.

57 (return)
Lib. Nig. Quat. f. 86, says December 10, 1386; but the Westminster chronicler in the Polychronicon (see J. Armitage Robinson, op. cit., pp. 9, 22) says December 21. It is suggested that the difference of eleven days represents the period during which the King was supporting the cause of Lakyngheth.

58 (return)
Mun. 5431.

59 (return)
Volens sicut alias cassare electionem et electo postea providere; Higden, Polychronicon, ix. pp. 98, 102; Robinson, op. cit., pp. 9, 23.

60 (return)
Flete, p. 138.

61 (return)
April 18, 1388, p. 178.

62 (return)
Mun. 9474.

63 (return)
For the graves of the Duke and his wife, see E. T. Murray Smith, Roll Call of W.A., p. 51 f.

64 (return)
Mun. 5257.

65 (return)
Mun. 7579.

66 (return)
Mun. 5922.

67 (return)
R. B. Rackham, Nave of Westminster, pp. 8-12.

68 (return)
Mun. 6165.

69 (return)
De consanguinitate domini, ut dicunt.

70 (return)
Anulus de auro com diamandys.

71 (return)

72 (return)
Mun. 6221.

73 (return)
His record will be given in the Register referred to on p. 18, note.

74 (return)
Mun. 9500.

75 (return)
Ex noua ordinacione domini Willelmi nunc Abbatis. The ordinance applied to other obedientiaries.

76 (return)
The Dean of Wells edited in 1908, for use in his chapel, a service of Compline derived from a Bodleian manuscript (Rawl. Liturg. g 10) which belongs to our Abbot's period.

77 (return)
Lib. Nig. Quat., f. 87b: et dominus Rex suscepit eum et omnia bona sua in proteccione sua.

78 (return)
Kal. Pap. Registers, iii. 456.

79 (return)
Widmore, p. 109; E. T. Murray Smith, Roll Call, p. 53.

80 (return)
Mun. 5262, A.

81 (return)
Infra regiam sepulturam.

82 (return)
Thomas Merke, Bishop of Carlisle, is mentioned, but not Colchester, in the list of those summoned to attend the King. Rymer, Foedera.

83 (return)
J. H. Wylie, Henry IV., vol. i. pp. 91, 92, 108.

84 (return)
Ibid., p. 44.

85 (return)
Lib. Nig. Quat., f. 86b:—

Anno Domini millesimo ccc xcixº et regni regis Ricardi secundi xxiii incipiente. In vigilia Nativitatis sancti Johannis Baptiste venit Henricus dux Herford versus Angliam Et in vigilia apostolorum petri et pauli venerunt prima noua ad Westm de aduentu ipsius. Et iiiito die Julij applicuit apud Pylevyng.

In vigilia sancti petri advincula fugit Rex Ricardus secundus a facie ducis Henrici Et postea in vigilia Assumpcionis beate marie captus est et se submisit ordinacioni prelatorum et procerum Anglie.

In crastino sancti laurentii feria secunda venerunt Londonienses ad Inquirendum Regem Ricardum IIum.

86 (return)
Mun. 1653.

87 (return)
Infirmarer's account, 1409-10.

88 (return)
Administrator participationis Anne Regine.

89 (return)
Mun. 1676.

90 (return)
There is another means of verifying the Abbot's absence daring this year. His farm-bailiffs, whose duty was to deliver rents to him personally, paid them at this time to the Abbot's Receiver instead.

91 (return)
Widmore, p. 110; J. H. Wylie, Henry IV., iii. p. 349; Creighton, Hist. of the Papacy, i. p. 218.

92 (return)
Wylie, op. cit., p. 348.

93 (return)
Lib. Nig. Quat. f. 90.

94 (return)
About Mid-Lent; J. H. Wylie, Henry IV., iv. p. 103.

95 (return)
Sir W. H. St. John Hope, Funeral, Monument, and Chantry Chapel of Henry V., p. 173.

96 (return)
Cf. J. H. Wylie, Henry V., p. 203.

97 (return)
The details are given in R. B. Rackham, Nave of Westminster, pp. 13-17.

98 (return)
Rymer, Foedera.

99 (return)
J. H. Wylie, The Council of Constance, p. 80.

100 (return)
Mun. 12395, 12397.

101 (return)
Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, Array of the Clergy, Nineteenth Century and After, July, 1915, p. 87.

102 (return)
Abbot's Receiver's roll, 1416-7.

103 (return)
Rackham, Nave, p. 16.

104 (return)
Et dat' seruienti principalis Baronis portanti noua de captione ciuitatis Rothemagensis (Abbot's Receiver's roll, 1417-8).

105 (return)
Mun. 5440.

106 (return)
Neale and Brayley, Westminster Abbey, ii. p. 184.

107 (return)
Mun. 12397.

108 (return)
Mun. 3571; see above, p. 17.

109 (return)
Mun. 9240. Vident etenim vestram soliditatem, que rara virtus est modernis diebus, et illo specialius in vobis confidunt.


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