21 & 22 RICHARD II
1398 – 1399




21 & 22 Richard II – Preliminary Edition: Text

21 & 22 Richard II – Preliminary Edition: Translation

As has been announced for some time, the final volume in the Ames Foundation series of Year Books of Richard II will be the Year Books for the regnal years 21 and 22. There are relatively few cases attributed to those years in manuscripts that are arranged by year and term. There are 15 cases attributed to Easter term of year 21 in MS. A (Lincoln’s Inn, 77). The same cases are duplicated in MS. W (Essex Record Office, D/DP L30). MS. A has 6 cases (some of which are quite long) attributed to Michaelmas term of year 22. MS. F (Lincoln’s Inn, 187) has 9 cases, the attributions of which will be discussed below.

The relatively small number of cases will give us room in the printed volume to do something that we have been planning for some time: to include the cases from the reign of Richard II that are in the abridgements but have not been found in manuscripts arranged by year and term. It is, however, going to take some time to compile all of those cases. (Below this introduction are links to lists that we have made so far of items that will be included.) In the meantime, it seemed to make sense to publish a tentative edition online of what we have so far.

Mr. Christopher Whittick worked for some time on the cases from years 21 and 22. He has completed a first draft of the text and translation of all the cases mentioned above. He was disappointed in what he has been able to find in the plea rolls that corresponds to his cases. It would seem, and we will give some evidence for this below, that the attribution of the cases to year and term that we find in the manuscripts does not, in all, perhaps in many, instances, correspond to reality.

The clearest evidence of this is in 21P13. The justices of the Common Bench in Easter term of year 21 were: William Thirning, chief; William Brenchley, William Hankford, William Rickhill, John Wadham, and John Markham, puisnes. Brenchely and Hankford were appointed quite early in the term (6 May); Wadham was pensioned on 10 May. In 21P13, however, John Markham appears as counsel, as does William Brenchley. It is possible that this case comes from before the time that Brenchley was raised to the Bench on 8 May, but Markham had been a justice since 7 July 1396. Since 21P13 describes Thirning as the chief, an apointment that dates from 15 January 1396, we can, if we asssume that these attributions are right, date the case with some precision: It comes from Hilary or Easter of year 19, or, just possibly, Trinity of year 20.

In 21P8, Thirning’s first speech seems to that of a counsel, something that Thirning had not been since 1388. This may be just an error in this one line. The rest of the speeches attributed to justices in the case could be the speeches of justices, though there is nothing about them that requires that they be.

The fact that John Wadham speaks in 21P2, 21P4, and 21P5 does not quite prove that these cases come from an earlier term. He could have been quite active just before he was pensioned in Easter term. When, however, we combine that fact with the chronological impossibility in 21P13 and the peculiarity of 21P8, we begin to wonder if we should not doubt many of the attributions. That would, of course, explain why we have not found many of the records from this group of cases.

The attributions of Michaelmas term of year 22 are cleaner. All the justices who are known to have been sitting on the court at that time speak (Thirning, Brenchley, Hankford, Rickhill, Wadham, and Markham). All of the serjeants who are known to have been active at the time speak: William Gascoigne, William Skrene, John Cokayn, Robert Hill, John Rede, Robert Tyrwhitt, and William Hornby. No one who is not known to have been either a justice or a serjeant in that term speaks, and no one speaks in a role that would not be appropriate for him. (A possible exception is 22M4, where Markham says something that seems more appropriate for counsel than for a justice, but he may have been imagining himself as counsel for purposes of the argument that he is making.) One of the cases, 22M4, is adjourned to the quindene of Michaelmas, which suggests, though it certainly does not prove, that is was argued earlier in that term. Another case, 22M3, almost certainly dates from Hilary or Easter of year 22, because it refers to the death of John of Gaunt.

Mr. Whittick confirmed Professor Arnold’s discovery of the copy of Easter year 21 in MS. W in the Essex Record Office. He notes that the handwriting of MS. W may be a little earlier than that of MS. A. It is also somewhat more legible than that of MS. A. Normally, this would lead to taking MS. W as the base text and collating MS. A with it. Unfortunately, the first folio of MS. W is torn on the outer edge. Hence, if it were used as the base text, one would have to fill it in with readings from MS. A. We have gradually moved away from composite editions in this series, and we have relied extensively on MS. A, which has proved worthy of that reliance. The differences between the texts of MS. A and that of MS. W for Easter year 21 are not large. They clearly derive, at not too far remove, from the same original. Hence, Mr. Whittick’s edition of Easter term of year is largely based on MS. A collated with MS. W.

MS. F was used in the editions of both year 7 and year 12, but it was not described in either of them. We quote here the description by Neil Ker in Medieval Manuscripts in British libraries, vol. 1, p. 139:

Hale 187 (Misc. 15). s.·xiv ex.–xv in. Year Books, 38–40 and 43–46 Edward III (ff. 1–234), 8 and 11 Henry IV (ff. 235–98), 1 Henry V (ff. 300–9v), 7 and 12 Richard II (ff. 311–48), and in a blank space, f. 323v, 22 Richard II. ff. 348. Paper. Written space c. 225 X 145 mm. and on ff. 235–98 c. 345 X 260 mm. ‘Iste liber pertinet Willelmo Brampton’, f. 235, s. xv ex.

Nicholson, pp. 10, 11, 13, 15, 17. Collated as F for the Ames Foundation edition of the Year Book of 12 Richard II. ff. 1–234 by one hand: the scribe’s name (?), Parkere, follows explicits on ff. 62, 132, 172v, 197v, 234. ff. 311–23 are by a scribe who wrote ‘quod Edmund Wythyngham’ at the end, but this name has been cancelled and ‘Georgius Barnardyston’ substituted in s. xv/xvi: The latter was admitted at Lincoln’s lnn in 1511/12. Rebound, but the old label from the front cover recording contents, number of leaves (348), and ‘ex dono Ranulphi Cholmeley . . .’ has been preserved.

To this we might add that the cases from year 21 begins on fol. 323r, about half way down the page in what appears to be same hand as that on the top half of the page. They are continued on fol. 336r, the dorse of which is blank. This fol. seems to have been tipped in, because the case from year 12 on fol. 335v continues on fol. 337r.

The following table lists the cases in MS. F in the order in which they appear in the manuscript:

MsOrder CaseNo fol keyword
1 22T1 323r Wardship
2 22T2 323r Aid
3 22T3 323v Dower
4 22T4 323v Precipe quod reddat
5 22P1 323v Right in London Hustings
6 22M7 323v Debt
7 22P2 323v Annuity
8 21P2a 336r Novel disseisin
9 22P3 336r Novel disseisin

The attribution to year and term in no. 1 is (margin): ‘De termino Trinitatis anno 22 Ricardi 2di’; on fol. 323v (running head): ‘Trinitatis 22  Ricardi 2di’; in no. 5 (margin): ‘Termino Pasche eodem [anno]’; in no. 6 (margin): ‘Michaelis anno supradicto’; in no. 7 (margin): ‘Pasche eiusdem [anni]’. It looks as if we are running through three of the four terms of year 22, with one case (no. 6) slightly out of order. But no. 8 is clearly an alternative report of a case in MS. A and W that is quite solidly attributed to Easter term of year 21. The easiest change to make is assume that the attributions explicitly made are correct, but that one is missing for no. 8, and that is what we have done.

There is an odd reference in MS. F: No. 9 has at the end: ‘Principium istius placiti anno xj eiusdem regis termino Mich. Et ore vient hille & rehersa la mater comment bref de besaile fuit porte vers un aunc’’. This is, in fact, basically correct. As explained in the note in the case, the case was begun in Michaelmas term of year 11, although the quotation comes from its continuation in Easter of year 12. The massive list of posteas in the original record brings us up to 1398, and it could well have had its final hearing (and, apparently, judgment) in Easter of 1399.

We have recently added to the preliminary editions of the cases from MS. A (and W) texts from the printed abridgements. Ames editions of abridgements have been moving away from literal transcription of the printed text to something more ‘user-friendly’. Professor David Seipp and the undersigned, who are responsible for the abridgements, have gone a step further with these abridgements. In addition to extending the abbreviations and correcting obvious errors (which abound), we have introduced some punctuation and have normalized the spelling, which is notoriously erratic in the abridgements. By and large, we have normalized by using the form of the word given in Baker’s, Manual, 2d ed. The argument for doing this is clear. Unlike the medieval manuscripts, the spelling in the sixteenth-century printings provides no evidence of what was happening to a living, though barely, language, as do the later medieval manuscripts. Also, in making the extensions, we have been guided by our edition of the report, which was made from the medieval manuscripts. Where that guidance is missing, as it will be when we seek to reproduce cases that are evidenced only in the printed editions, we may have to resort to more use of marks of suspension, particularly with the forms of the verbs.

We have not yet included in the preliminary edition transcriptions and translations of the relatively few plea roll entries that Mr. Whittick found, except for 21P2 and 21P3, which he transcribed and translated. We have, however, given references to the others below the text itself with the URL in AALT.

Annotation in the preliminary edition is minimal, and the formatting is not quite what it will be in the final version. We are expanding the annotation as we go along, and we warn that not all that appears now in the notes will necessarily be in the notes in the final edition. Some of it may be transferred to the Index of Persons and Places, and some of it may appear in the Introduction, to which reference is occasionally made, though it has not yet been written. There are also references to an Appendix of related cases in the abridgements that has not yet been compiled. Matter enclosed in diamond brackets (< >) indicates things that have not yet been supplied.

The preliminary edition has not yet been paginated, so the pages in the text and the translation do not match. Hence, if you want to compare the text and translation, you should download the PDF’s and open them in two different windows. We have found that they are easier to read if you lay the windows side-by-side vertically.

Please do not cite the preliminary edition without noting that it is preliminary and giving the date (below following ‘updated’). We would appreciate it if errors were sent to us by email. We would particularly appeciate it if you sent us any transcriptions that you make of the untranscribed records, which we would be happy publicly to acknowledge – or not acknowlege – as you prefer.

Charles Donahue, Jr.

21–23 Richard II – Printed Abridgements Not in Preliminary Edition

1–20 Richard II – Printed Abridgements Not in Ames Editions


This page last updated: 06/10/24.
Contact Rosemary Spang with comments.
Copyright © 1999–2024 The Ames Foundation. All rights reserved.