In before 1343 July 22, Thomas de Gournay (Thomas Gurney) was granted, by Edward III, (In year 17 of his reign) a Royal licence to crenellate Estharpetre (Richmont Castle, East Harptree)
THOMAS DE GOURNAY or DE GURNAY of Harptre. Writ, 3 August, 17 Edward III Somerset. Inq. taken at Somertone on Thursday before St. Lawrence, 17 Edward III. He held nothing of the king in chief &c. but rendered 6s. 8d. yearly to the king for licence to crenellate (karnellandi) the castle of Estharptre. Estharptre. The manor with its members, held jointly with Joan his wife, of Hugh le Despencer by knight's service. Asshwik. 20s. rent held jointly as above, of Nicholas Burdon by knight's service. Nitherwere. The borough held jointly as above, of Richard Cogan by knight's service. Streccholt. A messuage and a carucate of land held jointly as above, of Stephen Mareis by knight's service. He died on Tuesday, the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, 17 Edward III. John his son, aged 10 years and more, is his next heir. Writ of plenius certiorari to the escheator and William Randolf, the king having understood that the said Thomas held divers lands &c. of him in chief in the counties of Somerset and Dorset, 12 August, 17 Edward III. SOMERSET. Inq. taken at Somertone on Monday, the morrow of St. Bartholomew, 17 Edward III. Estharptre &c. To the same effect as above, excepting the payment of 6s. 8d. yearly to the king. He held no other lands &c. in the county and none in co. Dorset. C. Edw. III. File 69. (1.) (Cal. inq. p.m.)
This licence was revoked.
Post mortum inquisition of Thomas de Gourney in 1343 records 'he held nothing of the King in chief, etc., but rendered 6s. 8d. yearly to the King for licence to crenellate (karnellandi) the castle of Estharpetre' Coulson writes "writ of Certiorari produced a new inquisition which omitted this detail (the yearly fee) (August 1347). There is no enrolment as calendared, so the licence was probably cancelled for non-payment. It was probably a Hanaper fee, due to be collected by the sheriff, wrongly entered as annual." One could add the speculation that perhaps the death of Thomas was the reason for the none payment and that 'yearly' is an error for 'to be paid this year'. Feast of Mary Magdalene in 22 July.
6s. 8d. (Half a mark) seems to be a fairly standard hanaper fee for letters patent. This amounts to a few hundred pound in modern money. Given the parchment, silks and large beeswax seal that make up a patent letter, plus the administrative costs of producing such letters and the chancery copy the hanaper fee would barely cover costs and would not raise any significant income to the royal coffers.
Richmont was a strong natural site and had been the site of a castle since at least the 12th century.
Original source is;
Lyte, H.C. Maxwell (ed), 1913, Calendar of Inquisitions, Edward III Vol. 8 p. 287 No. 434 online copy
(In fact, the original source given is usually a transcription/translation
of what are precious medieval documents not readily availably. It should be
noted that these transcription/translations often date to the nineteenth or
early twentieth centuries and that unwitting bias of transcribers may affect
the translation. Care should also be taken to avoid giving modern meaning to
the medieval use of certain stock words and terms. Licentia is best translated as 'freedom to' not 'permission'.)
Significant later sources are;
Emery, Anthony, 2006, Greater Medieval Houses Vol. 3 (Cambridge) p. 695 Coulson, C., 1994, 'Freedom to Crenellate by Licence - An Historiographical Revision' Nottingham Medieval Studies Vol. 38 p. 121 King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 447n15a
Thomas son of Hugh de Gournay, who had acquired it from Thomas ap Adam, the previous lord of East Harptree in c1329/30. Not the son of Thomas, traitor and supposed murderer of Edward II who died 1327 (as previously stated in this website) although clearly a relative of this regicide. This licence would have confirmed ownership of this newly acquired estate as well as gone some way to reduce the stigma of the association with a traitor. (Gatehouse thanks Andrew Sandon, of the Harptree History Society for this information)
More information about licences to crenellate can be found here.
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Record created by Philip Davis. This record last updated on Sunday, October 4, 2015.