The Charters

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The Charters of William II and Henry I Project welcomes citation of the draft archives. To mitigate the difficulties inherent in citing provisional material, the number of revised versions for each beneficiary archive will be kept to a minimum. Current and previous versions will be available on the project website until final publication, and all draft releases will be archived to the Oxford University Research Archive (

Readers should note that numbers are sometimes assigned to acts within archives. These may change and will not appear in the final edition, so citation of them is not recommended. Informal citation requires the name of the archive and the Regesta number. Precise citation should include the release name (e.g. H1-Whitby-2013-1) and page number. Where a particular act, or the note to it, is cited, the Regesta number should be noted: if the act is not in Regesta, this should be stated.

The following drafts are available for download as PDFs:


Bermondsey Priory: Five acts of William II were copied in the lost cartulary, of which three appear to be forgeries.

Beverley Minster: A lost act, attested by a charter of King Stephen, confirming the customs, liberties and dignities of the church of St John.

Chichester Cathedral: Two acts giving land and one granting warren. Only one act appears authentic.

St Nicholas’s Priory, Exeter: A single writ-charter in the name of William II is an obvious fabrication in the style of the Battle forgeries.

Eynsham Abbey: A reexamination of the twelfth-century charters and deeds for the monasteries at Stow and Eynsham shows that much is fabricated. Of the four acts of William II for these institutions, three are apparently authentic and shed light on an inferred dispute between the abbot of Eynsham and the bishop of Lincoln.

St Peter’s Abbey, Gent: A purported original confirms Lewisham and Greenwich to the abbey.

Ilbert and Robert de Lacy: Fourteenth-century inventories include notes of an act for Ilbert de Lacy giving him ‘the custom of the castlery’ as he had held it previously and an act for Ilbert’s son Robert granting his father’s lands. A further act, surviving as an original, confirms an exchange of lands between Robert de Lacy and Urse d’Abetot.

Lincoln Cathedral: Ten acts of William II have survived through the cartularies of Lincoln cathedral. Among them is a diploma settling the dispute with York over Lindsey and acts confirming rights and possessions as in the time of William I. There is also a diploma confirming the possessions of the church and laying down procedures for disciplining unruly canons. This is doubtless a forgery but nevertheless sheds light on events early in the episcopate of Robert Bloet. There is also an act of William I, inadvertently omitted by Bates.

Northampton Priory: A single writ-charter addressed to Bishop Robert of Lincoln and the sworn-men of Northamptonshire confirmed the unspecified alms given by Earl Simon to the monks of La Charité-sur-Loire. It seems that Earl Simon’s intent was to set up the priory of St Andrew in Northampton as a cell of La Charité. William II’s charter was preserved in the archive of the priory.

Romsey Abbey: A lost act of William I or William II grants the land given by William de Falaise when his daughter entered the nunnery.

Tynemouth Priory: Three fabricated acts in the name of William II, designed to support the priory in its dispute with the bishop of Durham, have been preserved in a manuscript damaged in the cotton fire of 1731.

St Peter’s Hospital, York: A single act purports to confirm the ‘ancient alms’ of a thrave of corn from every plough in the bishopric.


Proclamations, Treaties, Letters

Proclamations: Henry I’s coronation charter, edited from witnesses deriving from several distinct engrossments, among them a formulary exemplar from the treasury, together with other acts treated as royal proclamations. These acts were distributed to shires and retained in shire archives deposited in cathedrals or abbeys, a subject treated in the headnote.

Treaties: Two textually related treaties between King Henry and counts of Flanders presented in parallel.

Royal letters: For the most part letters to popes or to Archbishop Anselm, with a list of papal letters to King Henry in the headnote.

Abbotsbury Abbey: A single writ-charter ordering that the abbot shall hold in peace, and that the bishop of Salisbury and the justice of Dorset were to maintain all his possessions and lands.

Abingdon Abbey: An exceptional archive of nearly one hundred documents, Abingdon has preserved more texts than any other beneficiary. This is in part due to their inclusion in the Abingdon Chronicle compiled in the 1160s; the later cartularies preserve far fewer. The disproportion between acts from the time of Abbot Faritius and of his successors shows that the number of acts sought by Faritius was unusual. His Italian background may have influenced this and his close contacts as physician to King Henry and Queen Matilda gave him opportunity.

Adam the clerk: Lost acts confirming to Adam lands in Suffolk and Norwich, subsequently acquired by Wix priory.

Aelwin fitz Godegos: An unusual act ordering that Aelwin shall hold his church of St Giles, Oxford, without interference. Aelwin was probably a tenant in the demesne manor of Headington.

Alfred of Lincoln: Alfred was justice in Dorset, and the archive of Montacute priory preserved one writ-charter granting Alfred land in Dorset, which Grimbald the physician had sold to him.

Bardney Abbey: Three acts, one confirming the gift of churches by Gilbert and Walter de Gant, another appointing Ralph, prior of Bardney, to hold Bardney as an abbey, and a third confirming the nomination by Walter de Gant of Ivo as abbot.

Barnwell Priory: A single forged act, ostensibly confirming the gift of the site of the priory, and making an additional gift of two churches and the tithes of the royal demesne in Cambridge.

Beaumont-le-Roger Priory: Beaumont-le-Roger was a cell of Bec from 1142, but was previously a collegiate church. Its cartulary copies a writ confirming lands to the church, gives the witnesses to another act, and refers to a further act of confirmation which has not been preserved.

Bermondsey Priory: Twelve acts of Henry I have been preserved by enrolment or through antiquary transcripts from a lost cartulary. Four are forgeries. Countess Mary of Boulogne, sister to Henry’s queen Matilda, was buried at the priory. Countess Mary’s daughter Matilda was wife to King Stephen, and the priory continued to find royal favour during Stephen’s reign.

Beverley Minster: Six acts concerned with the customs and liberties of the church.

Blyth Priory: Eight writs, mainly concerning rights to tithes and tolls, obtained by a beneficiary that held no land of the king.

Brecon Priory: The lost cartulary of Brecon, known through four sets of transcripts made c. 1700, contained a copy of a deed in the name of the founder, Bernard de Neufmarché, subscribed by Henry I. It seems there was also a confirmation in Henry’s name, mentioned in a deed of Bernard’s descendant, Roger, earl of Hereford.

Bromfield Minster: A charter of Henry II reveals the existence of a charter of Henry I, now lost.

Charroux Abbey: A diploma giving a church in Suffolk, and restoring manors in Suffolk and Lincs.

Chatham Hospital: A lost act, concerning the livery of 1d per day from the farm of Kent, and 10s per year for clothes for the infirm in the hospital.

Men of Chichester: A lost writ, reserving the retail sale of cloths in the city to the gild merchant.

Chichester Cathedral: Seven acts, including a confirmation of land given by Earl Hugh, grants of fairs and warren, and the writ appointing Seffrid Pelochin as bishop of Chichester. The addresses are varied, most probably because of the administration of Sussex through its rapes rather than a shire court.

Colne Priory: Three versions of a forged general confirmation, the earliest of which was in existence by the 1160s.

Dunstable Priory: The priory was apparently founded by Henry I, but a forged ‘foundation charter’ and another forgery giving the church of St Mary in Bedford and confirming a gift by Patrick de Sourches are all that survive in his name. An act of Henry II provides evidence for further charters, which may also have been forgeries.

Ernald Rufus: An act confirming land and churches in Suffolk, fabricated c. 1200 to obtain King John’s confirmation.

Eustace of Barrington: A writ-charter, which survives as an original, gives to Eustace land in Hatfield in Essex, and the forest keepership. The family archive has preserved several other Anglo-Norman acts concerning the keepership.

St Nicholas’s Priory, Exeter: Six acts in the name of Henry I survive for this daughter-house of Battle abbey, but only one is potentially authentic. That act appears to grant to the priory the land in Exeter which had belonged to Harold Godwinson.

Eynsham Abbey: A lengthy diploma confirms the possessions of the abbey after its refoundation; a unique writ acquits the monks of ‘stably’ service, i.e. ‘besetting of a wood . . . to prevent the escape of the game’. There is one further writ, two lost acts, and an original charter of Queen Adeliza.

Fawsley Church: A fourteenth-century account preserves a fragment of a charter of Henry I concerning the ancient due of churchset.

Men of Folkestone: The tenor of a writ granting to the men of Folkestone exemption from toll and passage on the same basis as the men of Dover has survived through a fourteenth-century petition.

Forn Sigulfsson and Ivo fitz Forn: Two writ-charters granting land to Forn Sigulfsson, with another confirming to Ivo fitz Forn everything his father had held.

St Peter’s Abbey, Gent: The abbey held land in Lewisham and Greenwich by 1066. A dispute concerning land in Lewisham led to the production of a writ in the abbey’s favour. There are also two forgeries confirming lands and liberties in Lewisham and Greenwich.

Gilbert Chaillot: An act ordering that Gilbert should hold the land of his father in Chichester.

Gisborough Priory: Two forged ‘foundation’ charters, perhaps fabricated in order to obtain a confirmation by Henry II.

Gloucester, Dudstone Hospital: A confirmation by Simon, bishop of Worcester, reveals a lost act of Henry I that confirmed half the manor of Great Barrington to the infirm of Dudstone.

Godstow Abbey: The only major women’s abbey founded in Henry I’s reign. In quo warranto proceedings of 1284–5, the abbess claimed Henry I had given the church of Bloxham to the nuns, but it seems this was a mistake. It was Henry II who gave the church.

Gospatric brother of Dolfin: A charter of King Stephen reveals a series of lost acts of Henry I confirming lands in Northumberland to Gospatric.

Great Malvern Priory: Two forged charters setting out the possessions of the priory in Henry II’s time, and raising questions about the priory’s connexions with Worcester and Westminster.

Hamelin: A writ instructing the reeves and burgesses of York that Hamelin should hold his land in peace.

Hatfield Peverel Priory: Two or three lost acts, which shed light on the foundation of the priory, are revealed by late-sixteenth-century antiquarian notes, damaged in the Cotton fire of 1731.

Hugh of Buckland: Hugh of Buckland was sheriff of several counties concurrently during the reigns of William II and Henry I. His descendants served as sheriffs through three generations. A single act survives for him, granting him warren in Kensworth (Herts/Beds).

Hurley Priory: Five acts survive for Hurley priory, a dependency of Westminster abbey. Three are originals, but all five are forgeries, and share features with certain forgeries for Westminster abbey.

Ipswich Priory: A single writ ordering that the canons should hold their possessions in peace, and that pleas against them should be heard only by the bishop of Norwich and others named.

Launde Priory: Two forgeries, typical of their genre, purport to confirm the foundation endowments of the priory.

Llandaff Cathedral: An agreement made in the presence of King Henry between Bishop Urban of Llandaff and Earl Robert of Gloucester. The agreement sets out their disputes and how they were to be resolved.

Llanthony Priory: The archive of Llanthony includes two authentic acts confirming gifts, and an interpolated writ charter intended to resolve a dispute over services during the reign of Stephen. There is also a fabricated general confirmation.

Lonlay Abbey: A deed of William of Falaise of apparent date 1100 × 1102 gives the church of Stogursey and other property to Lonlay abbey. The deed is subscribed by Henry I, and has been considered the foundation charter of Stogursey priory. It is however a forgery, produced in the second half of the twelfth century. A charter of Henry I confirming William’s foundation is mentioned in a later forgery, but it is doubtful that such an act was ever produced.

Michael of Hanslope: A charter of Queen Matilda giving lands in Rutland, a charter granting freedom from toll (a very unusual privilege for a layman), and a writ commanding tenants to perform castle-ward at Rockingham, all preserved in the Beauchamp cartulary.

Northampton Priory: Nine documents in Henry’s name, and one subscribed by him, were preserved in the cartularies of St Andrew’s priory.  Of these, only four are judged authentic. The earldom of Northampton was contested for most of the twelfth century and it is likely the priory suffered as a result and drew up lengthy general confirmations and other documents in an attempt to protect its interests.

Nostell Priory: Twenty-five acts for Nostell have been preserved providing important testimony on the beginnings of the priory. The two extensive general confirmations are forgeries and several other acts are suspicious.

Osney Priory: An act of Queen Adeliza, drawn up soon after King Henry’s death, gives a hide of land in Hanborough. There is also a forgery in the name of Henry I confirming Roger d’Oilly’s foundation gifts to the priory.

Oxford, St Bartholomew’s Hospital: A lost act giving annual alms to the hospital of Oxford. The alms are visible in the pipe rolls.

Oxford, St George’s: The church of St George in the castle at Oxford was transferred to Osney Priory during the reign of Stephen. The royal and foundation charters for St George’s are forgeries, produced some years after their apparent dates. They include three acts in the name of Henry I, two of which survive as purported originals.

Peter de Saint-Martin: A writ-charter giving land in Wilton (Wilts) to Peter ‘ad faciendum domos uel cellas’ has survived through the archive of St Peter’s church in Heytesbury.

Plympton Priory: The pre-Conquest minster at Plympton was converted into an Augustinian priory by William Warelwast in 1121. An act of Bishop Roger freeing the canons from geld, citing Domesday Book as its authority, was later confirmed by King Henry. In addition there are two doubtful acts, one a general confirmation, partly reconstructed from an act of Henry II, the other a writ-charter confirming the right of regular monks to be at Plympton church.

Pontefract Priory: An authentic act by Hugh de Laval is witnessed by King Henry, and a writ-charter confirms an exchange with Nostell priory. There is also a confected confirmation of Dodworth, which includes a detailed description of the boundaries.

Ralph fitz Ulviet: A writ instructing the sheriff that Ralph fitz Ulviet should have his land and houses in York as his grandfather held them.

Ranulf de Merlay: Three charters for Ranulf de Merlay, a tenant-in-chief in Northumberland, are all fabrications. There are also two or three lost acts, whose authenticity cannot be ascertained.

Predecessor of Reginald the Forester: Reginald the forester produced an act in the name of Henry I during proceedings concerning woodland rights in Cookham in 1254. Only the address has been preserved, but this is enough to indicate that the lost act was a forgery.

Abbey of St Remi, Reims: The abbey of Saint-Remi acquired lands in Shropshire and Staffordshire shortly before the Conquest. Four acts have been preserved; one allows the monks to send lay attorneys to shire and hundred courts, another confirms them in their lands in Shropshire, and a third upholds the abbey’s right to the church of Lapley (Staffs). A fourth act purports to give a hide of land at Marston (Staffs) to the abbey.

Richard Basset: An act providing for Richard Basset’s marriage to a daughter of Geoffrey Ridel, with detailed provisions for hypothetical future events, is almost certainly a forgery. Another act confirming to Richard the lands of Nicholas Basset is also suspicious.

Richard de Belmeis: A writ-charter giving churches and land to Richard de Belmeis, later bishop of London (1152–1162). The act was preserved at Lilleshall priory, to which Richard gave the property in or before 1148.

Richard de Orival: Henry I gave Richard de Orival, his chaplain, four specified churches in Northumberland early in the reign. The charter was preserved in the archive of Carlisle cathedral, to whom the king subsequently granted the churches, subject to Richard’s life interest.

Ripon Minster: A single writ, ordering that the five churches of York, Beverley, Southwell, Ripon and Hexham were to be exempt from public burdens.

Robert de Brus: A writ-charter giving land in exchange for lands elsewhere. The lands given are those included in the twelfth-century addendum for Robert in Domesday.

Robert cum Capite: A lost act granting lands in Yorkshire, amounting to six carucates, to this local forest official.

Robert de Lacy: Seven acts, by which Robert de Lacy gained substantial additions to his fee, were noted in fourteenth-century inventories of documents made while the lands were in the king’s hands.

Romsey Abbey: Royal acts in favour of nunneries are rare, so the seven acts and three lost acts for Romsey are of particular interest. They include three acts confirming lands given when the donor’s daughter entered religion.

Saint-Valery-sur-Somme: Two fabricated charters confirming the English lands and privileges of the abbey have survived through the archive of the abbey’s dependency at Takeley in Essex. A further grant of liberties and customs, possibly authentic, is known only from a charter of Henry II.

Southwell Minster: Two writ-charters, both concerning gifts by the archbishop of York of churches to establish prebends.

Thurstan the Clerk: Two acts, both apparently altered, have survived through enrolment by Henry of Popham in the fourteenth century. The acts give Thurstan and his heirs land in Farringdon (Hants) and permission to have hunting dogs.

Tynemouth Priory: Most of the eighteen acts preserved for Tynemouth are very dubious. Several are condemned by the wording ‘defendatis et manuteneatis’, used only at Tynemouth.

Wallingford Priory: A writ ordering that the monks were to have their tithes in Moulsford, which survives as an original, is the only authentic Anglo-Norman document for the priory.

Walter and Miles of Gloucester: Four acts for Walter of Gloucester, three giving land and a fourth granting warren; also three acts for his son Miles, including one giving Sybil daughter of Bernard de Neufmarché in marriage, and another confirming his succession to his father’s office and estates.

William Butevilain: A writ-charter confirms William Butevilain in specified lands in Northants, Norfolk, and Suffolk.

William de Glanvill: An act granting judicial privileges in Bacton (Norf), and another granting him succession to the land and office of his uncle.

William fitz Nigel: An inventory of Duchy of Lancaster deeds at the Savoy, compiled c. 1376, reveals the existence of a charter of King Henry granting liberties to William fitz Nigel, constable of Chester.

William and Roger de Saint-Jean: An act of Henry II provides evidence for at least two charters of Henry I in favour of William and Roger de Saint-Jean, one of them concerning land at Merrow in Surrey.

William fitz Ulf: A gift in fee of lands in the soke of Pocklington.

Wimund: A lost act giving six carucates in Kelleythorpe, in the king’s soke of Driffield.

Wix Priory: The contents of a lost act confirming the foundation are reconstructed from a forgery and a confirmation by King Stephen.

Wulward of Wangford and his son Goscelin: A letter notifies the abbot of Bury that Wulward of Wangford had become the king’s man and regained his lands, presumably after a forfeiture of some kind. There are also two writ-charters granting Wulward’s lands to his son Goscelin.

Men of York: The men of York were granted privileges by a charter of Henry II, which makes references to their rights in the reign of Henry I. There is no mention of a charter of Henry I and it is likely that the men held by custom rather than by charter. Nevertheless Regesta has an entry (Regesta 1732) for a supposed grant.

St Peter’s Hospital, York: Three acts purport to confirm grants of lands to the hospital. They were probably fabricated on the accession of Henry II to safeguard the hospital’s possession of lands acquired during Stephen’s reign.

It is hoped that more beneficiary archives will be added in due course.


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