The Magna Carta Project

The prisoners of the siege of Rochester

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

6 December 1215 - 12 December 1215


6 Dec 1215

Rochester (Kent)

RLP, 160b

7-9 Dec 1215

West Malling (Kent)

RLP, 160b; RLC, i, 240b-1

10 Dec 1215

Reigate (Kent)

RLC, i, 241

10-11 Dec 1215


RLP, 161; RLC, i, 241-1b

11 Dec 1215

Alton (Hampshire)

RLP, 161b

12 Dec 1215


RLC, i, 241b

12-14 Dec 1215


RLP, 161-1b; RLC, i, 241b-2

A king and his prisoners

A king and his prisoners, BL Harley MS 4903 f.214 (France, second quarter of the 14th century)

With his last order issued at Rochester on Sunday 6 December, the King now made his way via Reigate and Guildford, over the pass of Alton, to Winchester. It was in this same direction westwards that he dispatched the principal prisoners captured in Rochester castle, most to Peter de Maulay at Corfe, but others to John Marshal and Robert de Courtenay, sheriffs of Dorset and Devon.1 On 6 December, the safe conducts offered to the wife and family of William d'Aubigny of Belvoir were extended for a further week, followed within a few days by similar letters in favour of a clerk of William of Lancaster, sent to treat with William's father, Gilbert fitz Reinfrey, and conducts for Cecily, mother of William of Avranches, another of the captured rebel barons.2 The intention here was clearly to negotiate ransoms. Other prisoners were transferred to the keeping of Hugh de Neville or the King himself.3 Looking westwards, the King commanded that Robert de Courtenay take custody of 700 marks deposited in Exeter Cathedral by William of Wrotham, and that Peter de Maulay receive the Dorset and Somerset lands of Richard Revel, to support him in his custody of Corfe.4 Henry fitz Count was commanded to restore land in Cornwall of which he had wrongly disseised Walter de Dunstanville.5 To clear his debts incurred at Rochester, William earl of Salisbury was promised 100 marks to be paid by Peter des Roches, William Brewer and the Master of the Temple, jointly charged with mopping up operations in north Kent.6 Godfrey of Crowcombe and his serjeants keeping Rye were promised their wages, as were other knights and the servants of Richard, the King's youngest son.7 The Canville family castle of Middleton Stoney in Oxfordshire was transferred to the keeping of Engelard de Cigogné.8 There was the usual spate of commands for rebel lands to be committed to royalists, including in the present week confiscations (in Sussex and Oxfordshire) from the northerners Roger de Montbegon and Robert Grelley.9 It is nonetheless worth noting that commands to any county north of Nottinghamshire had by this stage more or less disappeared from the chancery rolls, so that we can assume that the King's writ barely ran north of the Trent. Further afield, commands were sent into Poitou, to ensure the hereditary moneyer the right to strike deniers poitevines at Niort and La Rochelle, and to remit a debt owed to a La Rochelle Jew by Annora the daughter of Theobald Vausard.10 For the first time in several weeks, we have a command directed to the justiciar in Ireland, Geoffrey de Marisco, concerning the land of a rebel in Ireland, formerly enfeoffed by Hugh de Lacy.11 Staying at Malling, on 8 December, the King placed the nuns there under his particular protection, guaranteeing them all liberties held from his ancestors. This grant, that might normally have been issued in the form of a royal charter, was instead issued as letters patent, suggesting that the cessation of business on the Charter Roll was itself the consequence of the absence of the King's chancellor, Richard Marsh, himself now slowly making his way back from the Pope's Lateran Council held in Rome.12


RLC, i, 241b, orders of 12 December, sent from Winchester, to Peter de Maulay to take receipt of William of Avranches, Thomas of Moulton, William of Lancaster, William of Avranches, Robert de Leveland, Osbert Giffard, Robert Arsic, Alenxader of Pointon, Reginald of Cornhill, Eustace de Moreton, Alan of Moulton and Hugh of Ropsley ('Roppel'), with similar orders to John Marshal to take custody of Roger de Leybourne, Simon fitz Simon and Raymond de Tychesye, and to Robert de Courtenay to take custody of Henry of Braybrooke, Michael de Fossa and Robert fitz Geoffrey.


RLP, 160b, 161b, the conduct for Cecily de Avranches being negotiated via Enjuger de Bohon.


RLP, 160b (Thomas brother of Reginald Basset, released from Lambkin fitz Ela to Hugh de Neville); RLC, i, 241 (Godeschal of Malines to send the King Jordan de Hotot, a serjeant taken at Rochester, together with Philip de Chauncy, a follower of Simon de Kyme, Sebrand a man of Alexander de Pointon, and Martin of Hatfield a man of William de Avranches).


RLP, 160b; RLC, i, 241b, and cf. RLC, 240b, where Peter was further promised the land of Gomshall in Surrey, previously in the custody of the late Giles de Braose, bishop of Hereford, for which see King John’s Diary and Itinerary 22-28 November.


RLC, i, 241, covering land in 'Tiggedun'.


RLC, i, 240b, also covering orders to the same to pay the wages of serjeants stationed under Stephen Haringod at Eynesford Castle. The earl of Salisbury was subsequently promised 100 marks from the same source: RLC, i, 241, also covering the wages of a knight, Thomas Keret.


RLC, i, 240b-1, including the wages of the knights William de Cusack, Gilbert Falk and Theobald de Merlo.


RLC, i, 241b, from Fawkes de Breauté, and for the Canville lordship, that in 1215 passed from Gerard de Canville to Richard de Canville his son, see VCH Oxfordshire, vi. 244-6.


RLC, i, 240b-1b, covering confiscations from Geoffrey of Appleton and Alexander fitz Richard (at Appleton, Berkshire, to Roger de Haye), Theobald de Baalun (at Sutton, Wiltshire, to Nicholas de Limesy), John Basset (in Bassetlaw, Nottingham, to Hugh de Neville), Cecily Carbonel (in Lavenham, Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), Roger Craft (in Merrow, Surrey, to Robert de Bareville), John de Goding (in Buxhall, Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), Robert Grelley (in Pyrton, Oxfordshire, to Ralph Gernun), William de Lanvallay (a custody in Blagrave in Lambourn, Berkshire, to Richard the Welshman, who claimed the land as the right of Matilda his wife), Geoffrey de Longhcamp (in ?Kempley ('Kenepel'), Gloucestershire, to Walter de Lacy, of his fee), Geoffrey de Lucy (at Hailes, Gloucestershire, to Robert de Meisy), Roger of Markshall (in Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), Robert Marmion (at Berwick, Sussex, to Robert Peverel), Roger de Montbegon (at 'Waverton', Sussex, to Master Hamo), John de Moriston (in Bedfordshire, in Swinford, Staffordshire, and at 'Tyreford', Oxfordshire, to William de Breauté), Thomas of Moulton (in Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), Henry Murdac (in Leicestershire, to Hugh de Pascy), Saher de Quincy (at Tuddenham, Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), John of St Helens (in Berkshire, to Walter de Saint-Ouen), Peter de Thelnetham (at Thelnetham, Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell), Robert de Vere (at ?Worlington ('Wrdelinton'), Suffolk and Radwinter, Essex, to Gilbert of Kentwell), William of Wadingfield (in Pridington, in Hawkedon, Suffolk, to Gilbert of Kentwell). Elsewhere, see the grant to Hugh Hainche/Haunch of the manors of Westerham and Edenbridge ('Pontem Aldhelmi'), Kent (RLP, 160b; RLC, i, 240b), formerly the possession of the Canville family, as shown by Calendar of Charter Rolls 1226-57, 51; Book of Fees, i, 239, 242, ii, 667, 678, 1432, 1436. The earl of Chester was promised the reversion of all fees held from him by rebels in Oxfordshire: RLC, i, 241b. William Tournebu was ordered restored to the land of John his father in Clatford, Hampshire: RLC, i, 240b.


RLP, 160b-1; RLC, i, 241.


RLC, i, 241, concerning William de Brackenborough.


RLP, 160b.

King John's Diary & Itinerary