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INTRODUCTION.

ALIEN priories supplied much of the endowment of New College, Oxford; Hornchurch in Essex, a cell of the monastery of Mountjoy in Savoy, Takeley in Essex, a cell of the Abbey of St. Walery, and Newington Longeville, a cell of Longeville Giffard in Normandy, supplied more than half of the property of the College. But there is a difference in the way in which these priories were acquired. The two former were purchased from the lawful owners by William of Wykeham; the third was confiscated to the Crown in 1414 and was given to New College by Henry VI in 1441. From the year 1337 to 1360, while England was at war with France, and again from 1369, when war was resumed, the alien priories were not allowed to send money to the mother houses in France, and the rents were to be paid to the king; but the properties were not forfeited, and would return to their owners when peace was declared. Meanwhile the king was willing, for a consideration, to allow the mother houses to sell these properties, and William of Wykeham, with the king's licence, bought the Priories of Hornchurch and Takeley, with their possessions, and much of the property of the Priory of Harmondsworth. No doubt he obtained them cheaply; they were of no use to their owners, as long as the war lasted, and the mother houses were glad to sell them; the Bishop also was glad to buy them, and the king was glad to obtain a commission, and all parties were pleased.

But as the war continued and became more bitter, there arose the suggestion that the property of alien houses should be confiscated to the king, and this was decreed by Parliament in 1414. It was the same in the late war; the property of enemies was in 1914 placed in the hands of guardians, but as the months passed there was a demand that the property should

be confiscated. But though the Priory of Newington Longeville was granted to the Crown in 1414, it did not pass into the king's hands until 1441, because before 1414 Sir Ralph Rochefort, to whom the king owed money, had been granted a lease of it for life. The king, as soon as he obtained possession, by Letters Patent of April 3, 1441 granted it "at the request of mag. Thomas Bekington, his secretary, to the Warden and Fellows of New College, whose possessions are diminished and insufficient to maintain their burdens, in order that they may in future pray more heartily for the said king " It was a very liberal gift, which has been rather dwarfed by the greater gifts of William of Wykeham. The properties of Newington Longeville were worth about £150 a year, a sum which by itself was more than adequate for the foundation of a college; and no king or queen had made a gift to Oxford that could compare with it. Neither Queen's College nor Oriel College, which called itself the King's College, had received from their royal founders a quarter of what New College received from Henry VI: and of the income of New College at the time of the Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535), a fifth or a sixth came from the gift of Henry VI.

When New College obtained the lands of the Priory of Newington, it received few title deeds. In the Newington Longeville drawer in the College Muniment Room there are 170 documents, and about thirty more in the drawers labelled Hanney, Horwood, and Weston; but some of these are later than the reign of Henry V, when the priory was suppressed, and many more date from the eighty years between 1337 and 1414, when alien priories were in the hands of the king. There are less than seventy deeds that are earlier than 1337, a very small number in proportion to the value of the priory. When William of Wykeham bought the Priories of Takeley and Hornchurch, each of them had more than 500 deeds, which are still preserved at New College, although in value they were inferior to Newington Longeville. If it is remembered that Newington was confiscated, and that the other two houses were bought, we have the explanation. Title deeds were not kept at the cell, but at the mother house in France, and were not handed over when the cells were confiscated by ParliaOne of the documents at New College is a scedhule

ment.

Newington Longeville, deed No. 91.

2 See p. 97.

of the deeds which were handed over on Aug. 5, 1358, by William de Tevolio, the outgoing prior of Newington, to Peter de Sales, who had been appointed his successor; they are only thirty-four in number, and with few exceptions are still among the Newington Longeville deeds. It is not difficult to see why some deeds were kept at Newington while the main body was kept at Longeville. Many of the possessions of Newington were portions of tithe in different parishes, or pensions from the incumbent, and every three years, when the Bishop made his visitation, he demanded by what title the monks had this income from parish churches, and it was necessary to produce the charters of Bishops which authorised these payments. After 1358 a few deeds may have been transferred from Longeville to Newington, so that New College obtained more than thirty-four deeds that are earlier than 1358; but there can be little doubt that many deeds always remained at Longeville.

In the process of copying the Newington deeds at New College, a discovery of some interest was made. The College possesses a transcript of its deeds which was made about 1640. It is in six volumes, and is generally known as the College Cartulary; its contents are identical with the contents of the Muniment Room, the College having lost nothing since 1640. In addition, there is an earlier Cartulary, known as the Liber Niger, which is shown by internal evidence to have been written about 1530. It has been assumed that, like the later Cartulary, it contains nothing but what is found in the Muniment Room; and for the greater part of the Liber Niger this seems to be the case; but in that part of it which contains deeds of Newington, it was soon seen that there were deeds that are no longer at New College. Nearly half the deeds that are printed below are found only in the Liber Niger, and among them is one which speaks of a Chancellor at Cambridge five years earlier than has been known hitherto, and two which mention a monastic house in Buckinghamshire known as Kodesmere, of which neither Dugdale, nor Tanner, nor the local historians have any knowledge. As a whole, these deeds in the Liber Niger are early and interesting, and a find such as is not very common.

If we ask where the Liber Niger found these deeds, the natural assumption is that they were at that time in the College Muniment Room and were lost between 1520 and 1640.

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