Viewing posts from March, 2013

The king is dead...can I have a new writ, please?

The accession of a new monarch often had little impact on the day-to-day workings of Chancery, or the IPM process. One exception resulted from the convention that writs issued by a monarch could not be executed after their death. This history of this convention is somewhat obscured by the cursory calendaring of the writs in many early volumes of CIPMs, and in the calendared Fine Rolls, but there are several examples in the CIPMs for the early years of Henry VI, and re-examination of the IPMs for Henry IV and Henry V has brought others to light.

Unpublished IPMs: dower for Constance, who was the wife of Thomas lord Despenser, 1415

This document is apparently the only surviving assignment of dower for Constance, wife of Thomas Despenser, who (Thomas) was executed in 1400 after his involvement in the Epiphany rising of January that year. [1. For Constance's biography, see Rosemary Horrox, ‘Despenser, Constance, Lady Despenser (c.1375–1416)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 (, accessed 27 Feb 2013; subscription required).] Writs for assignment of dower, directed to  the escheators of 23 counties and London, were only issued after a very lengthy interval, on 18 February 1415. Constance's dower holdings were summarized in a series of inquisitions taken in 1416-17 (CIPM xix.621-31), including one for Yorkshire which supplements the information given here (CIPM xix.631). As is usual, however, the original assignment contains more information than appears in the later inquisition.

Unpublished IPMs: John Chitewode, 1412

This inquisition for John Chitewode (or Chetwode) survives only as a copy in the Exchequer archive. [1. For his biography, see] It is not clear why it was omitted from CIPM xix. No other IPMs survive for John, whose manors in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire were not held in chief. Nor does the current IPM give a full record of his holdings in Northamptonshire, since he also held the manor of Warkworth, which was held of the bishop of Lincoln. Possibly this inquisition did not record lands held of others than the king because it was realised that, since John held of the king only de honore, of the duchy of Lancaster, the crown (in theory at least) had no right of primer seisin. All the same, this document is an interesting example of how tenants who held of the duchy could be drawn into the IPM system after Henry IV's accession, despite the duchy's administrative independence (again, at least in theory).