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[001] [the case] of Agnes who was the wife of Robert of Acton, who claimed dower against
[002] Isabella who was the wife of Alured of Barking. Isabella answered that she ought not
[003] to have dower thereof, though she freely admitted that [Agnes] was once married to
[004] the same Robert, but afterwards separated from him by ecclesiastical censure because
[005] of kinship,1 and following the separation, the same Robert later formally took
[006] to wife the aforesaid Isabella, without any objection or contradiction by Agnes, and
[007] thereafter she was with the aforesaid Robert her husband until his death, and that
[008] he died seised of her as of his wife. To which the aforesaid Agnes replied that she was
[009] never separated from the aforesaid Robert, and that if Isabella was married to him
[010] it was wrongful. And on being questioned as to where she stayed during the life of
[011] Robert, when2 Isabella was with him, she answered [at Winchester and that Robert]
[012] her husband had placed her [there] while he remained elsewhere. Afterwards all that
[013] was done was sent to the bishop, that he might inquire into the truth of the matter
[014] and send the inquest to the justices. The form of the writ for taking the inquest is as
[015] follows.

The writ for this purpose, that is concerning two wives.

[017] ‘The king to such a bishop, greeting. Know that when A. who was the wife of B.
[018] claimed in our court etc. her dower against C. from the free tenement of the aforesaid
[019] B. her late husband in such a vill, D. of N., who likewise claimed her dower against
[020] the same C. in the name of the same B., objected against the said A. that she ought
[021] not to have dower therefrom because she was not joined in lawful matrimony to the
[022] same B. in whose name she claimed dower. But she, the aforesaid D., said that she
[023] was the lawful wife of the said B. and lawfully married to him. And since an inquiry of
[024] this kind belongs to the ecclesiastical forum,3 we order you, having convoked before
[025] you those who are to be convoked, to inquire diligently into the truth of the matter,
[026] and so diligently examine into the marriage that it may be known which of them is
[027] the lawful wife of the said B. and which ought to be preferred in the exaction of
[028] dower. And make the inquest which you held thereon known to our same justices
[029] by your letters patent.’ [Once the inquest is held, let perpetual silence with respect
[030] to her claim to that dower be imposed on the woman against whom judgment is
[031] given, since after such inquest in the ecclesiastical court no appeal lies. When the
[032] justices are certified of the truth by4 the bishop's inquest, let the tenant be resummoned
[033] to appear on a certain day to answer the same A., in a claim of dower, for
[034] when there is a dispute between two women as to which is the lawful wife, [and]
[035] a determination [made] between them as to which is lawful, from then on let the action
[036] proceed between the [lawful] wife demandant, who has nothing, and the tenant,


1. ‘propter parentelam’

2. ‘quando’

3. Supra ii, 271, iii, 363, 372

4. ‘per’

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