Patent Roll 5 Richard II

[9 Jan. 1382]

MEMORANDUM1 that around midnight on the feast of St Stephen in the present year [26 Dec. 1381], Edmund [Mortimer], earl of March and Ulster, late Lt of K. in Ire., died in the house of Friars Preachers in Cork. On the next day, viz. St John [27 Dec. 1381], John Colton, C. of Ire., and John Keppok, justice of the bench of K., addressed the K.’s letters to Alexander [Balscot], bp Ossory, T. of Ire., and also James Butler, e. Ormond, and Gerald fitz Morice, e. Desmond, to inform them of the death of Lt and further to ask and request, on the K.’s behalf, that they provide for the safety of their marches as best they could and repair to the city of Cork with all possible haste to treat and ordain concerning the appointment of a Jcr and governor of the land of Ire., and to provide for the safe and secure rule of all that land.

In the meantime, before the arrival of the said bishop and the earls, viz. on 2 Jan. [1382] next following, the household of the said lord Lt, together with all the retinue of men-at-arms and archers being in the parts of Cork, withdrew from Cork to the parts of Leinster and Meath. And John [Colton] and John [Keppok], the C. and justice, were truly fearful, both on account of the retinue’s withdrawal and especially because of the protracted lack of a Jcr or governor, of the peril that gravely threatened both the city and parts of Cork (the lineage of the Barrets and other Irish enemies and rebels being openly at war for a long time until the present) and also the whole the land of Ire. The said C., by consent of the justice and others of the K.’s council there, ordered royal writs to be addressed and sent to the following prelates, magnates and commons ordering them to be personally present at Cork on a certain day contained in those writs to treat and act according to the demand of the said writs.

On that day, viz. Thursday after Epiphany [9 Jan. 1382], the following persons assembled in the church of St Peter of Cork before the K.’s council, viz.:

Alexander [Balscot] bp Ossory, T. of Ire., Gerald [Barry] bp Cork, and Richard [Wye] bp Cloyne, in person;
Thomas [le Reve], bp Waterford, by his proctor, the said Alexander, bp Ossory;
Peter [Curragh], bp Limerick, by his proctor;
and also James Butler, e. Ormond and Gerald fitz Morice, e. Desmond;
William Sygyn, mayor of the city of Cork, and John Pomfreid and Thomas Lawelyn, citizens elected and returned for the city of Cork;
David s. of Thomas Roche and Milo Staunton, knights elected and returned for the commons of co. Cork;
Roger Lenfaunt and Adam Lenfaunt, knights elected and returned by the commons of co. Limerick;
and many other nobles and commons.

The C., by the advice of the T. and others of the council, set forth how the K.’s lieges of the land of Ire., and especially in Munster, were greatly astounded and as if utterly destroyed by the death of the said lord Lt and the sudden withdrawal of his household and retainers [stipendiariorum]; and how the Irish enemies and English rebels were comforted in their malice, so that, unless a remedy were speedily supplied, many of them would arise to war, just as Obreen of Thomond and MacBreen of Connacht and various others had in fact arisen. Therefore it seemed reasonable and fit that the prelates, magnates and commons should ordain as to how the malice of those enemies and rebels might be strongly repressed, so that when that ordinance had been made and approved, a good, strong and fit governor or Jcr, to be elected, might consent more freely to assume the office of Jcr. The C. asked the said prelates [etc.] to attend to making and completing that ordinance.

The said prelates, magnates and commons, after meeting among themselves, answered before the K.’s council that they should treat first concerning the governor of the land, and when he was ordained and elected, they would treat concerning the rule and governance of the same. Whereupon the C., T., justice of the bench and others of the council there requested, on behalf of the K., the earls of Ormond and Desmond to treat with each other as to which of them might take on the office on this occasion. They both excused themselves expressly and concisely, saying that because of the wars flourishing on all sides in their marches they could not assume that office without leaving their marches desolate. The bishop of Cloyne set forth and said that the land of Ire. could not be so well governed by anyone born within the said land truly as by a vigorous knight born in the kingdom of Eng.. To this both the members of the K.’s council and other magnates acquiesced. And the same bishop asserted that Thomas Mortimer would be a very suitable Jcr of the land of Ire., both because of his own vigour and also because the men-at-arms and archers of the Lt’s retinue, who were then with the said Sir Thomas, were (he believed) more likely to remain with Sir Thomas than with anyone else. And because he could not affirm to the council whether or not the said Thomas might wish to remain in Ire. for that reason, the C. asked the bishop on the K.’s behalf that if he knew anything of the will of the said Sir Thomas, he should inform the council. To this the bishop answer that, if the said Sir Thomas could have a certain retinue of men-at-arms and archers to be sustained at the costs of the land, he believed that he would remain in Ire. and assume the office of Jcr. And he displayed a certain schedule containing that written below.

To this Alexander [Balscot] bp Ossory, T. of Ire., having been asked, answered that the K.’s treasury in Ire. would in no way extend to so great a sum beyond the necessary fees of ministers and castles, according to the form and estimates from the previous years in which he was T. The prelates and magnates were asked whether they might wish to assume such a sum upon themselves for one year or for part of a year in order to pay the said retinue. As the sun was setting the prelates, magnates and commons sought and obtained permission to answer concerning this the next day.

On that day, viz. 10 Jan. [1382] of that year, when the K.’s council, and the prelates, magnates and commons had assembled in that church, the same prelates, magnates and commons answered to this last proposal that they, nor those whose names appeared in the present council, were sufficient to pay so great a sum for one year or for part of a year; but if such a burden ought to be borne for a year, it would be necessary for the whole land of Ire. to agree it at the same time, which could not be done without an assembly of the whole of the said land at the same time. But because such an assembly could not be made without great delay and because it was extremely dangerous that the land of Ire. should be without a governor or Jcr, both on account of the discontinuance of law and also because of many other dangers that could arise, it was unanimously agreed by all those present to elect a Jcr immediately. Therefore the said C., T. and others of the council urgently asked and requested the earl of Ormond and then the earl of Desmond, being present, to assume the office of Jcr; but they excused themselves. Next the said C. and others of the K.’s council, with the magnates and commons, asked the venerable father Alexander [Balscot], bp Ossory, T. of Ire., to assume the office of Jcr; but the T., excusing himself on account of the bodily passions from which he frequently suffered (as he said) and for various other reasons, asked the C. to accept the office. The C. excused himself by his insufficient estate and his unwieldy person, and many other things; and the C. and T. debated this for a long time. At length the others of the K.’s council advised that he whom the prelates, magnates and commons might nominate and elect as Jcr, should be compelled [to accept the office]. And so the prelates, magnates and commons, being more satisfied with the excuses of the T. than those of the C., nominated and unanimously elected John Colton, C., as Jcr of Ire. The C. consented to his nomination and election with the following conditions and protests: viz. that the earl of Ormond and earl of Desmond, and the prelates and other peers and commons, should promise faithfully to aid and advise John, the future Jcr, upon the rule and governance of the land of Ire., against all English rebels and Irishmen, and that at the next parliament or great council John could be fully exonerated from the office of Jcr; and that meanwhile the T. of Ire. should treat with Sir Thomas Mortimer and the said retinue in order that they might remain in Ire. until the time of the next parliament, so that then it could be more fully ordained for their further stay. These conditions and protests having been admitted by all those persons there present, and the said promise being solemnly made by the earls of Ormond and Desmond and the others there, the said John Colton was sworn into the office of Jcr in the accustomed form.


BL, Add. MS 4790, ff 28–30v (=Parls & councils, §66).


Lib. mun. pub. Hib., i, pt 2, p. 198; RCH; BL, Egerton MS 78, p. 22.


1 The date on which the memorandum was enrolled is not given in RCH; the date given here is that of the council held at Cork (9 Jan. 1382).

The following abbreviations are used within in the text of CIRCLE

  • abp = archbishop [of]
  • BMV = beate Marie Virginis [of the Blessed Virgin Mary]
  • C. = chancellor [plural: chancellors]
  • co. = county (i.e. medieval shire: lower case ‘c’) [plural. cos.]
  • dcd = deceased
  • e. = earl of
  • Edw. = Edward (used when giving dates by regnal year)
  • Eng. = England
  • esq. = esquire [plural: esquires]
  • Ex. = exchequer
  • g.s. = great seal
  • Hen. = Henry
  • Ire. = Ireland
  • Jcr = justiciar [plural: justiciars]
  • JP = justice of the peace
  • K. = king
  • kt = knight
  • Lt = lieutenant
  • O.Carm. = Order of Carmelites
  • O.F.M. =  Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans)
  • O.P. = Order of Preachers (Dominicans)
  • Ric. = Richard (used when giving dates by regnal year)
  • s. = son
  • sen. = seneschal of
  • T. = treasurer [plural: treasurers]
  • w. = wife

This glossary is by no means comprehensive. Readers may also wish to consult standard references books such as Joseph Byrne, Byrne’s dictionary of local Irish History from the earliest times to c.1900 (Cork, 2004); P. G. Osborn, Osborn’s concise law dictionary, ed. Sheila Bone (London, 2001).


  • AN = Anglo-Norman
  • Ir. = Irish
  • Lat. = Latin
  • ME = Middle English
  • OED = Oxford English Dictionary





The right of patronage or presentation to a church benefice.

allocate, writ of

A writ authorizing allowance to be made by the officers of the Ex. of a specified amount: often this amount is to be off-set against the debts owed to the K. by the beneficiary.


A form of affinity proscribed in late medieval Ireland between the Irish and the English, whereby a man stood sponsor for a child at baptism; (also) gossipred.


Technical term for legal proceedings or various kinds. See mort d’ancestor, novel disseisin.

avener [Lat. avarius]

provider of oats, esp. for the household of the K. or his chief governor


Miscellaneous merchandise sold by weight.

bonnaght [Ir. buannacht]

The billeting of mercenaries or servants.


See tun.

certiorari, writ of

Letters close issued by the K. to his officers commanding them to supply information to him concerning a specified matter, normally by searching the records.


Property, goods, money: as opposed to real property (land).

dicker [Lat. dacra]

A measure of 10 hides.


Portion (one third) of a deceased husband’s estate which the law allows to his widow for her life.


The reversion of land to the lord of the fee to the crown on failure of heirs of the owner or on his outlawry.


A survey and valuation of property, esp. one made by royal inquisition.

falding [Ir. fallaing]

A kind of coarse woollen cloth produced in Ireland; the mantle or cloak made from the same.


A fixed annual rent payable to the K. by chartered boroughs.

fotmel [Lat. fotmellum]

A measure of lead.


Technical term: the action of writing out, for instance patent letters and charters; (also) the documents thus written out.


Technical term: the action of recording in the records of the K., esp. the registering of a deed, memorandum, recognizance; (also) the specific item or record thus enrolled.


A repository for the keeping of money. The ‘clerk of the hanaper in chancery’ was the chancery official responsible for the receipt of fines for the issue, engrossment and ensealing of writs, patents and charters issued by the chancery.

herberger [Lat. herbergerius, hospitator]

One sent on before to purvey lodgings for an army, a royal train (OED).

galangal [AN galyngale]

The aromatic rhizome of certain Asian plants of the genera Alpinia and Kaempferia, of the ginger family, used in cookery and herbal medicine; (also) any of these plants (OED).

generosus [Lat.]

Term designating social status: translated as ‘gentleman’.

king's widow [Lat. vidua regis]

The widow of a tenant in chief: so called because whe was not allowed to marry a second time without royal licence.

knights’ fees

Units of assessment of estates in land. Originally a single knight’s fee was the amount of land for which the military service of one knight (=knight service) was required by the crown. ‘Fee’ derives from the Latin feudum, which in other contexts translated as ‘fief’. In practice the descent of landed estates meant that many knights’ fees came to be subdivided and, in the later Middle Ages, personal service was frequently commuted to money payments (=scutage).

liberate, writ of

A chancery writ issued to the treasurer and chamberlains of the Ex. authorizing them to make payment of a specified amount, often the annual fees, wages and rewards of the K.’s officers.

linch [Lat. lincia]

A measure of tin.


The delivery of seisin, or possession, of an estate hitherto held in the K.’s hand, for instance when a minor reaches the age of majority.


Legal term: the action of undertaking to stand surety (=‘mainpernor’) for another person; the action of making oneself legally responsible for the fulfilment of a contract or undertaking by another person (OED).

mass [Lat. messa]

A standard measure of metal.


A portion of land occupied, or intended to be occupied, as the site for a dwelling house; (also) a dwelling house together with outbuildings and the adjacent land assigned to its use (OED).

mort d’ancestor, assize of [Lat. assisa mortis antecessoris]

A legal process to recover land of which the plaintiff’s ancestor (father, mother, uncle, aunt, brother sister, nephew or niece) died seised (=in possession), possession of which was since taken by another person.

nolumus, clause of [Lat. cum clausula nolumus]

A standard clause inserted especially in letters of protection by which pleas and suits are delayed for a specified period of time.

novel disseisin, assize of [Lat. assisa nove disseisine]

A legal process to recover land from which the plaintiff claims to have been dispossessed (=disseised).

pensa See wey.
piece [L. pecia] A standard quantity of merchandise.
pendent seal Seal hanging from engrossed letters patent attached to a tongue or tag of parchment.
perpresture An illegal encroachment upon royal property.
plica A fold along the foot of engrossed letters patent and charters to create a double thickness of parchment, used for attaching the ‘great seal pendent’ to the letters. An incision was made in the plica and through which a tag of parchment was attached. A wax impression of a seal was then affixed to the tag.
protection An act of grace by the K., granted by chancery letters, by which the recipient is to be free from suits at law for a specified term; granted especially to persons crossing overseas or otherwise out of reach of the courts in the K.’s service.
quare impedit, writ of An action brought to recover the advowson of a benefice, brought by the patron against the bishop or other person hindering the presentation.
scutage The commutation of personal military service to the crown for a money payment. Normally called ‘royal service’ in Ireland.
seisin Formal legal possession of land.
sendal [Lat. cendallum; ME cendal] A thin rich silken material (OED).
stallage [Lat. stallagium, estallagium] Payment for a market stall.
tun [Latdolium] A large cask or barrel, esp. of wine.
valettus A term designating social status: translated ‘yeoman’.
Vidua Regis [Lat.] See King's widow.
volumus, clause of [Lat. cum clausula volumus] A standard clause inserted esp. in letters of protection by which pleas and suits are delayed for a specified period of time. In full the clause runs: volumus quod interim sit quietus de omnibus placitis et querelis (=we wish that meanwhile he be quit of all pleas and plaints).
waif A piece of property which is found ownerless and which, if unclaimed within a fixed period after due notice given, falls to the lord.
waivery [AN weiverie] The technical term for proceedings of outlawry in the case of women.
wey [Lat. pensa, peisa, pisa] A standard of dry-goods weight.
worsted [ME wyrstede] A woollen fabric or stuff made from well-twisted yarn spun of long-staple wool combed to lay the fibres parallel (OED).
writ [Lat. brevis] Letters close containing commands by the K. to certain specified persons, esp. royal officers. Returnable writs, which were not normally enrolled in the chancery rolls, were to be returned by the officer to chancery with details of the actions taken by the officer in response to the contents. See also allocate, certiorari, liberate.