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The Heyshams of Lancaster

This page begins the story of the family in the town of Lancaster. They were "Heyshams" of Lancaster. At about this time, the early 1300's, there was a John de Heysham of Lancaster, a Thom de Hesham of Overton, and a Nicho de Hesham of Heysham. Importantly, these were people who had "Heysham" as a surname, not a place of residence.

The first whom I can show with any certainty to have lived in Lancaster was John de Hesham of Lancaster, who would have been born in Heysham circa 1270. He was probably [or only perhaps?] the great-grandson of Thomas Gernet, Lord of the manor of Heysham from 1202 to 1221. His grandfather and father, Robert and Adam de Hesham as I show it, were a cadet branch of the family who held land in the Black Greaves section of Nether Heysham. John de Hesham, a younger son of Adam, moved to Lancaster to make his fortune. His line was apparently the only one to survive in Lancashire.

The Medieval Warm Period

The weather is a topic of great dispute these days, but the controversy lies with the causes for change, not the change itself. Changes in average temperature over large areas have occurred in the past. A warm Roman Optimum lasted from 200 BC to 400 AD, followed by a cold Dark Age period from about 400 AD to 800 AD. These temperture changes had a direct impact on crop production and general prosperity.

In about 800 AD tempertures again began to rise. From then to 1300 AD the climate of Northern Europe and the north Atlantic was warmer than today. Warm weather crops, such as grapes, could be grown in England and Northern Germany, and areas considered today too brutal, like Greenland, were settled and supported flourishing colonies. Most significantly however, in those areas of present settlement the mild climate encouraged a signficant increase in the population, which foretold hard times when the warm period finally came to an end.



The descent shown below is not necessarily that from father to son, but may include the occasional uncle or nephew and clearly misses some generations. The records from this era are scanty and the best that can be cobbled together is a "snapshot" each generation or so of a member of the family that somehow rose to the notice of authority, usually through a court action. Importantly, the family did possess enough property to sue and be sued over its ownership. That is, they were not serfs working another man's land.

In the 19th century George Lissant wrote a genealogy of the family for his friend, Henry Sherman Heysham, of India; I founded much of my original research on this document. Carefully, Lissant made no attempt to create a father-to-son descent between the period of the early Gernet's of Heysham and the rise of the family to prominence in the 16th century. Someone, probably Henry Sherman himself, was not satisfied with this and created his own descent which differs from what I present.

Clement George Lissant, Esq.

An amateur genealogist who wrote from 1904 to 1917. He was living in Simla, India, circa 1885. There are three biographies written by him available through Amazon.com; for the Cox family of Normaton-on-Soar, the Girdlestone's, and his own family, the Lissant's. He also wrote about the Docker family of Westmorland as well as Histories of the Langdon, Cresswell, Home and Flamank families.

Henry Sherman and I agree on John de Hesham of Lancaster, and that Adam was his father. Where we differ is on the interpretation of George Lissant's following comment,

"The Pipe Rolls for Lancaster, 1226-7, mention Richard de Hesham. In 1249 occurs the name of Thomas de Hesaym and in 1280 and afterwards the names appear of Adam de Hesam, Catherine his wife and John his son. It is not possible to place these persons, nor those named below, with any degree of certainty."
Based on this Henry Sherman Heysham placed Richard, Thomas, Adam and John in a straight descent. The reference for Richard was,
The Pipe Rolls for Lancaster, 1226-27. "Richard de Heisham and Richard son of Fulc rendered account of 1/2 mark for the same [surety]; in the Treasury 40d., etc." - from "A Calendar of the Lancashire Assize Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office, London" by John William Robinson Parker
However, I haven't been able to find any document that identifies a father or son for Richard de Heisham. He is, for me, just a stray. There are other documents about a Richard de Heysham which you can read on the Gernets of Heysham page, but I've recently decided that these are for another man who was not a Heysham. In 1246 Roger son of Fulk was the reeve of Lancaster. Was Richard son of Fulc related, or is Fulc just a common given name?

For Thomas de Hesaym the reference was,

"Inquest made at Lancaster, on Monday next after the feast of the Ascension of our Lord, 33 Henry III. (May 17th, 1249), by Symon, son of Michael, Adam de Boelton, Roger, son of Alward, Richard de Dalton, clerk, Thomas de Hesaym, Ralph de Bolrun, William de Heste, Jordan de Ellale, Adam de Midilton, Henry, son of Gilbert, Thomas Roud, and Adam Gernet of Caton, who say that the said Elyas de Boelton held in chief of the King 2 bovates of land in the vill of Boelton . . ." - from page 175 "Lancashire Inquests, Extents, and Feudal Aids ..." by William Farrer
I hold this to be (7) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1230). He was probably the brother of Roger Gernet, who held the manor of Heysham at this time. I have many references for Thomas in and around the village of Heysham in 1247, 1249, 1250, and 1253. However, I have no son for him.

I have found numerous records of Adam de Hesham, a landowner in Heysham & Bolton, dated from 1262 to 1292. He was identified as "Adam filius Roberti de Hesham dedi." Robert de Hesham, who would have been born circa 1200 and for whom I have no records, I place as a possible son of Thomas Gernet, lord of the manor of Heysham.

Conveniently for my interpretation, Adam de Hesham had a son and heir, Thomas, "Thomas filius et heres Ade de parva Hesham. [parva=little]" That is, John de Hesham was a younger son, not inheriting, who moved to Lancaster to make his fortune as a tradesman or merchant. His father's relative wealth gave him a good start such that he was holding an important municipal position in Lancaster in 1310.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1272-1307 Edward I

Called Longshanks for his great height, Edward was, unlike his feckless father, Henry III, a strong King and excellent administrator. He conquered Wales and fought many long battles for control of Scotland. While he was called the "Hammer of the Scots," and conquered Scotland at one point, he never fulfilled his ambition to make that country part of a United Kingdom. He defeated William Wallace (Mel Gibson).

By 1300 the population of England and Wales had climbed to 5 million, or approximately what it had been during Roman times.


The Rise of the Merchant Class

It is a notable feature of the English nobility of the medieval period that normally an inheritance went to the eldest son, with no portion reserved for the younger members of the family. This meant family estates remained intact over many generations, but also that younger sons had to find their own way. Many did this through the church, marrying well or, in later generations, through the army and navy, but frequently it occurred that they went into trade. It was the good fortune of England that, at this time, trade was not as frowned upon as it was in the France or in the England of the 19th century.

While the records I have of Heyshams in Lancashire don't clearly show this, in the early 14th century in York there was a line of Heyshams who were tailors, weavers, dyers, and merchants. They were masters of their trade, guild members, and possessed the "freedom of the city of York." See them on the Heyshams of Yorkshire page.


(8) John de Hesham (c1270)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) . . . (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230)

Per the Collin's family descent, John de Heysham of Lancaster was known to be living 1280 to 1339. The Pipe Rolls for Lancaster for 1280 mention Adam de Hesam, Catherine, his wife, and John his son. Of Lancaster. If the story I'm telling is true, then John's father, Adam, moved to Lancaster, leaving the family farm to his eldest son, Thomas. John was probably born around Heysham. I've never seen the Pipe Rolls reference so I'm not sure if it precisely places the family in 1280.

John's contemporaries included:
- Thomas, son of Adam de Hesham, who held lands in Heysham from at least 1292 to 1309. Perhaps John's elder brother.
- Robert, son of Thomas de Hesham. He was called one of the lords of the vill of Heysham in 1323.
- Nicholas, son of Thomas de Heysham, taxed for his property in Heysham in 1332. Sued by the widow of Robert, son and heir of Thomas de Heysham, for dower lands.
- Ralph de Hesham, who had lands and fisheries in Overton circa 1323.
- John, son of Walter de Heysham, who had joined Edmund de Dacre to disseise Orm Travers in 1323.

John de Hesham married Christina, who was born in about 1280 and died in 1323. The following references for John cover a long period of time so they may be for two John de Hesham's, one the son of Adam, the second his grandson via John Sr.

The Town of Lancaster.

The town is named for its location on the Lune river, Lun, and the remnants of Roman fortications, caestre, that so impressed the Saxons. The town got its start when its first Norman lord, Roger of Poitou, moved the administration of the county from Halton to this more easily defensible position. Lancaster Castle, and the Priory, were built on the top of a high rise within a loop of the Lune river. The town grew up along the southern edge of the river, in the gentle hollow between Castle Hill on the west and the higher moor-lands to the east. The hamlet of Aldcliffe is to the west of Castle Hill.

The town received its first charter from John Count of Mortain [Prince John] in 1193.

"Count John gave 'his burgesses of Lancaster'—already there were burgesses and therefore a borough—all the customs he had granted to Bristol, including freedom from suit of mill, from ploughing, reaping and other servile customs. He also gave pasture right in the forest and liberty to take wood for burning and building by view of the foresters . . .

In 1212 it was recorded that the burgesses held one plough-land in Lancaster of the king in free burgage, rendering 20 marks yearly. One Nicholas had granted two burgages in alms, and the burgesses held seven burgages for which they rendered no service to the king.

In 1297 the burgesses were recorded as holding the borough in fee, paying the earl 20 marks yearly." - from "British History Online"
The town grew into a successful market center. Temp. Edward III the mayor and bailiffs were granted the privilege of having the pleas and sessions held here, to the exclusion of every other place in the county.

In 1322, and again in 1389, the town was burnt and plundered by the Scots. In the wars of York and Lancaster it was nearly depopulated. During the Civil War it suffered severely, and, in 1698, an accidental fire destroyed a considerable portion of the town. The rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 also affected the town.

While we speak of a "city" of Lancaster, it should not be assumed that in these early years its population exceeded a few thousands. Even as late as 1900 its population was only 36,000 and this was noted to have been a doubling in the last 30-years.


Speed's map of 1610
1 - Green Ayre, or area, a place subject to inundation by the river; originally an island
2 - Weary Wall, a vestige of the old Roman wall, from the Celtic, Caer Werid, the green town
3 - The Free Grammar School, which was in existence by 1235. Giles Heysham taught there.
4 - The Priory/Church of St. Mary
5 - The Castle, on a promontory, the land north and west fell away steeply
8 - St. Mary Street, now Church street, it contains houses dated 1683 and 1684 as well as some of the mansions of the 18th-century merchants
9 - The water mill; the mill stream ran between the town and the Green Ayre
10 - The Fish market
11 - Stone Well
12 - St. Leonard's Gate, beyond which was the Leper's Hospital
13 - Moor Lane, the gallows were here, led to the moors
14 - Butchers Street, later Pudding Lane
15 - Kiln Lane
16 - Market Street
17 - St. Nicholas Street
18 - The Domican Friary, it covered most of this quadrant
19 - Chennel Lane, later Back & Kemps Lane, now King Street. It leads to the castle.
20 - Penny Street, the main entrance to the town from the south, it leads directly to the town and river

The medieval bridge that crossed the Lune was built before 1215 and taken down in 1802; St. George's quay was built in this area in 1750.

The path across the Green Ayre became Cable street.

The field to the right, between numbers 12 and 13, was known as Highfield. South of the town were arable fields.

See Virtual Tour for a panoramic tour of historic sites around the town.


The City Walls

Most medieval towns of any size had walls for their defense, but Lancaster apparently did not. However, the names of St. Leonard's Gate, Moorgate and St. Marysgate imply some sort of restriction on access. The loop of the river, and the height of the land, gave added protection. One of the few references to a wall I have found is,

"By charter of 1094, Roger the Poitevin bestowed upon the Abbey of Seez the Church of St. Mary of Lancaster, with a portion of the land of that town between the old wall and the orchard of Godfrey and the Priest gate . . ." - from "Remains, Historical . . ."
The old wall probably refers to remnants of the Roman wall, also referred to as the Weary Wall, that once encircled castle hill on three sides, from one shore of the Lune river to another. Priest gate was probably Priestwath, the vicarage estate.
"Leland the antiquary, who visited the district about 1535–40, gives a comparatively full account of it, as follows:— From Cockersand Abbey I rode over the sands, marking the saltcotes, and a mile off over Conder riveret trilling by the sands to the sea. So to a mean place called Ashton, of the king's land, where Master Leyburne knight useth to lie, and from thence a two or three miles to Lancaster. Lancaster Castle, on a hill, [is] strongly builded and well repaired. Ruins of an old place (as I remember, of the Catfields) by the Castle Hill. The New Town, as they there say, [is] builded hard by in the descent from the castle, having one parish church, where sometime the priory of monks aliens was put down by king Henry V and given to Syon Abbey. The old wall of the circuit of the priory cometh almost to Lune bridge. Some have thereby supposed that it was a piece of a wall of the town, but indeed I espied in no place that the town was ever walled. The Old Town, as they say there, was almost all burned, and stood partly beyond the Black Friars'; in those parts in the fields and foundations hath been found much Roman coin. The soil about Lancaster is very fair, plentiful of wood, pasture, meadow and corn." - from "The Parish of Lancaster: General History and Castle; A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 8"
During times of danger the people of Lancaster probably sought refuge inside the castle.


Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1307-1327 Edward II

A weak King considered incompetent and frivolous by his father and by the people. A particularly slanderous portrait of him is given in Mel Gibson's movie "Braveheart." He was deposed and murdered by his own queen, Isabella - also known as the she-wolf of France - and her lover, Roger de Mortimer. Edward died a particularly awful death, the particulars of which are best left unstated in a "family" website. Queen Isabella was the daughter of Philip IV of France and it was through her that her son, Edward III, got his claim to the French throne that led to the disastrous Hundred Years War.

Its been pointed out that one of the reasons England developed its democratic institutions was that it was rarely ruled by two good/strong kings in a row. It was during the reigns of these "incompetents" that the rising middle-class made their power grabs.

Governance in England rested in a balance between the King and his aristocracy, the church, and the municipal government of the commoners. While the King had originally held all power with his thanes, church and town had, over time, traded their support and money for the granting of rights. The church gained autonomy and the right to try its priests in its own ecclesiastical courts. The towns gained their own government within the city walls and they too could try municipal infractions in their courts. In "Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire," page 174, is a list of early government officials for the town of Lancaster.

"Date . . . . . . . . Mayor . . . . . . . Baliffs
1246 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Roger son of Fulk, "reeve."
Later. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lambert Dispenser.
Later. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . John le Gentil, William son of Julian, Robert son of Oliver, William son of Lawrence, Lambert son of Thomas, and Lambert Dispenser. Perhaps only the two Lamberts were bailiffs.
Later . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert Dispenser, Robert de Catherton
1306 (May) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert de Catherton, William de Slene [Slyne].
1310 (April) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (? Robert de Catherton), John le Keu (Cook), John de Heysham.
1310-11 (Jan.) . . . . . . . . . . . . . John de Heysham, John le Keu.
[1312?] . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert de Catherton, Roger le Mason
1313 (28 Oct.)
1314 (May) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .John (or Julian) le Keu, Robert de Skerton
1316-17. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Richard (?Robert) de Catherton, Adam son of Simon
1317 (June-Aug) . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert de Catherton, Adam son of Simon
. . .
[1318. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .William Lawrence - per "Remains, Historical . . ."]
1323 (April) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Robert de Catherton, Adam son of Simon
1338 (Nov.). . Robert de Bolron. . . William son of Adam son of Simon, John de Ludlow
1341 . . . . . . John le Keu . . . . . . William son of Adam, John . . ."
The reeve was by his title the lord of the manor's man (as the shire reeve, or sheriff, was the king's man), but he was soon superceded by town's men, elected by their peers. By the King's charter they had rights within municipal boundaries to run their own markets, and police their own activities. The Baron, though enfeoffed of the King, had his authority limited within the town that nestled at the foot of his castle.

The Bailiffs of Lancaster

The duties of reeve and bailiff varied considerably over time and by region. For our purposes, the reeve was the lord's servant, or sergeant, serviens. A villein, he was chosen from amongst the men of the village to manage the lord's local estates and see that the men of the community did their service to the lord. The bailiff had similar duties, but represented the borough, collecting its rents, policing its market, etc. It was noted in 1292 that the bailiff and commonality had "pillory, cuckingstool, infangenthef [the right to adjudge a thief] and gallows." The bailiff of Lancaster would have been paid for his duties, probably through the temporary assignment of lands.

The following gives a description of the bailiff's of Lancaster in an attempt to create a picture of what kind of men attained this position, and what kind of man John de Hesham may have been.

Roger son of Fulk, "reeve." - He was listed as Reeve of the Borough of Lancastre 30-31 Henry III (1246-1247) in the Assize rolls. The Sheriff, his master, was Baron William de Lancastre and the under Sheriff was Richard le Botiller. Thomas son of Roger Conne was also a reeve of Lancaster at this time. Vivian de Heysham was at this time Lord of Heysham manor.

Lambert Dispenser (Despenser) - Probably Lambert the Dispenser. At least one undated grant lists as a witness "Lambert Despencer, then bailiff of Lancaster." Looking at the associated grants which are dated, this must be for the "later" period in which Lambert was bailiff, not the first circa 1246.

John le Gentil (Gentyle) - Gentil meant noble, as in gentleman, so this may have only been a nickname. John witnessed a grant, circa 1261-1272, by the Travers' family of their demesnes lands in Heysham which they purchased from Roger, son of Vivian de Heysham. John witnessed a grant to Furness Abbey in 1269 with Sir Benedict Gernet, Roger de Heysham, Sir Richard le Botyler, sheriff of Lancashire, and others. He witnessed another grant to Furness in 1285 with Robert de Catherton, Robert de Bolrun and Lambert Despenser. John le Gentil and John de Caton were verderers of the forests of Quernmore and Wyersdale, circa 1299, though this may be John's son. In one document is the following,
"These being witnesses--Sir Benedict Gernet, Sir W. of Heaton, Alan of Catherton, John of Oxcliffe, John le Gentyle, and Robert son of Pain, then reeves of Lancaster, William son of Julian, William of Benstend, and others."
Does this mean John le Gentyle was considered a Reeve along with Robert son of Pain? If so, was reeve a synonym, or archaic term, for bailiff?

William son of Julian of Lancaster - He may be a member of the de Lancaster family - He was the prime witness to a grant by Helewise, grand-daughter of Gilbert of Lancaster, as well as a grant by Garner, son of William de Lancastre, and Robert, son of Iva de Lancaster. He was also a witness to a grant along with Sir Benedict Gernet and Sir W. of Heaton. William, son of William, son of Julian, held a tenement in fee upon the Highfield.

Robert son of Oliver - Also as Robert Oliver. He joined William son of Julian, Lamber Despenser, John le Gentyl and William son of Lawrence in witnessing many grants circa 1290.

William son of Lawrence

Robert Dispenser - The le Dispenser's had been infamous during the reign of Edward II, but I don't think Lambert and Robert were part of that family. Note - When Queen Isabella and her lover rebelled against Edward II, they captured his lover, Hugh le Despenser. Despenser was tied to a ladder, castrated, beheaded and then quartered. A "dispenser" was a title for a servant who supervised the dispensing of bread or wine at the lord's table. It became a surname just as Botiller/Butler did.

Robert de Catherton - He was a witness on several Lancashire documents between 1310 and 1319. The Catherton family held two messuages in Lancaster. Robert was "absent on the king's service" during a title dispute of 1319. A John de Catherton was called a "former bailiff" in 1346.

William de Slene - William held 20 acres in the Highfield [Hefeld, Le Hoghefeld, or even Highmoor] in right of his wife, Alice, by the service of sharpening the lord's plough irons. This Highfield was not the series of three farming communites lying between Halton and Aughton, but the field just east of the town - to the right is a map of 1736 showing its location. William also held Le Gyngesford [?], and a 1/4 of the manor of Oxcliffe. In 1306 he represented Richard de Ulverston against Adam Gernet and Katherine, his wife. A document of 1319 describes him as Sir William de Slene. He was elected to Parliament before 1320 [in 1313?] by the sheriff, Henry de Malton, without the consent of the community. He held lands in Derby and Lancashire obtained from the forfeiture of Earl Thomas of Lancaster, see below. William received a grant of land in Ellel in 1324. In the same year William's widow, Alice, quitclaimed this property. Note that she next married John de Lancaster.

William Laurence - Named bailiff in the Assize of 1318.

William son of Adam son of Simon - Per British History Online, he was a de Lancaster and a "former bailiff" in 1346.

John de Heysham was apparently the junior bailiff in 1310 and the senior, or high bailiff the following year. The bailiffs were the borough's senior officials - the nobility ruled separately through the Earl of Lancaster. The bailiffs would have led, and been chosen from, the burgesses, the leading commoners of the town. No mayor is listed until Robert de Bolron in 1338 which was coincident with a new charter for the town. Before that time the government was of bailiffs only. A grant in ___ makes clear that Roger son of Fulk and Thomas son of Roger Conne were "then reeves of Lancaster." - from "Materials for the History of the Church of Lancaster."

John le Keu [the cook] comes up several times more in association with John de Heysham in the citations below.

Town Government

Lancaster was a liber burgagium, or borough under burgage tenure through its charter from John, Count of Mortain, in 1193. Special privileges had been granted by this charter reducing the burgesses servitude to their lord and increasing their autonomy. The burgesses held the borough of their lord for the annual payment of a fee of 20 marks. The firma burgi, or fee-farm of a borough, was the annual sum due the Exchequer in return for the king allowing the "farmer" to administer the borough and its sources of revenue. The burgesses raised the payment of this fee through a money rent paid on all burgages. A burgage was a property within a borough held by a money rent paid to the borough. The burgage could be sold or inherited more freely than was usual with rural properties.

The character of the municipal government of Lancaster began simply with a single reeve, originally the servant of the lord. Soon however the position evolved into the chief administrator of the borough's rules, regulations and customs. He collected rents, gathered tolls, and, durings market days, ensured produce for sale was wholesome and properly weighed. Sometimes these men were referred to in the Latin as prepositus, or provosts, meaning "leading man," which accurately described their position amongst the common men of the town. Later the term ballivus, implying jurisdiction over a certain area, or bailiwick, came into fashion, hence the term bailiff. The bailiff was said to be "at the head of the burgesses," who were the enfranchised, or free men of the town. Later burgesses came to mean the privileged, or rich men of the town.

As town governance grew more complex two bailiffs were assigned. Note that in some towns and times the mayor was called the high, or senior bailiff - as was John Shakespeare of Stratford, William's father. Town government continued to grow in complexity and a mayor, seven aldermen, twelve capital burgesses, and twelve junior burgesses where added with time.

The mayor was a justice of the peace for the county, and he and the aldermen were justices of the peace within the borough, holding quarterly courts of session for all offences not capital. The mayor also acted as coroner for the borough.

The two bailiffs were "at the head of the burgesses;" the bailiff of the brethren for the capital burgesses and the bailiff of the commons for free burgesses. A town bailiff was generally the chief magistrate who executed writs and processes, and impaneled juries. They also collected tolls at market and fair days. The bailiwick was the region in which the bailiff could exercise his authority. The bailiff's symbol of office was the mace, a heavy club. In actual practice this weapon would be carried by the bailiff's bodyguard.

The mayor and the bailiff of the brethren were elected annually by the aldermen and capital burgesses, from their own bodies, and the bailiff of the commons, by the free burgesses, from the common council-men.

From the reign of Edward I to early in that of Edward III the town sent two burgesses to represent it in Parliament.

In 1314, following Edward II's defeat at Bannockburn, the Scots raided Lancashire, burned Lancaster and destroyed parts of the castle. The town of Carlisle, to the north, was protected by strong walls and held out against a Scots' siege in 1315.

The burnt town was what became known as the Old Town, located beyond Black Friars, to the east. A New Town was built, possibly as late as 1322, just under castle hill.

As a result of Edward's humiliation in Scotland, his cousin, Thomas Earl of Lancaster, exerted himself, becoming the most powerful lord in England until, in 1322, he over-reached himself, was overthrown and killed.

The early mayors of Lancaster:

1338 Robert de Bolrun
1341 John le Keu
1342 Robert de Bolrun
1345 Robert de Bolrun
1346 Robert de Bolrun
1347 Robert de Bolrun
1349 Robert de Bolrun
1350 John de Catherton
1362 John de Skerton
1363 John de Skerton
1371 John de Skerton
1372 John de Skerton
1373 John de Catheron
1381 John de Catherton
1382 Edmund Frere
1386 John de Eslak
1391 John de Eslak
1403 John Stanlow

The Bolron Family

Also as Bolleron, Bolrun or Bowerham. This family was associated with the Heysham family from the 13th through the 15th centuries. They held the manor of Bolron in the vill of Lancaster. The manor was merged into the township of Lancaster and is remembered only through the name of two messuages near Scotforth, Bowerham and Bowram, which are south of Old Lancaster. Assessed as one plough-land, Bolron was held by the serjeanty of masonry at the castle. A number of properties in Lancaster were held by such petty serjeanties, including carpentry and keeping the jail.

(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150)

The first tenant of Bolron of record.

(5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150)

He held Bolron from about 1207 to 1224.

1212. "Ralph de Bolron holds j. carucate of land in Bolron in masconery. Vivian, his father, gave to Benedict Gerneth iij. bovates and iij. acres of land. The canons of Cokersand hold that land." - from the "Great Inquest of Service"
The land in Bolron was worth 10 shillings yearly. In the Pipe Rolls Ralph was called Ralph son of Baldwin de Bolun. He gave land in Old Lancaster to the priory of St. Mary. He died in about 1241.

(6) Maude de Bolron (c1210)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150) (5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180)

Or Matilda. "On June I4th, 1241, the King took fealty of Matilda, daughter and heir of Ralph de Bolrun, of the land which the said Ralph held of the King in chief in Bolron. She fined one mark for her relief" - from the Fine Rolls.

(7) Ralph de Bolron (c1240)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150) (5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180) (6) Maude de Bolron (c1210)

On 5 August 1245 the King took fealty of Ralph, son and heir of Matilda de Bolrun. He was fined half a mark for his relief. Ralph de Bolron was a witness to a grant in company with Orm de Kellet, Alan de Catherton, and Roger de Heysham, circa 1268-80.

Robert de Bolrun held 6 acres of the serjeanty of Bolrun and William de Bolrun hed one in 1246. Adam Gernet also held an acre. - from the "Demesne and Forest of Lancaster, 1248-51." Ralph de Bolrun was a juror in the inquisition on the death of William de Kellet and that of Roger Gernet of Caton in 1259, and for Henry, son of Godyth de Bolton in 1261. - from "Lancashire Inquests."

(8) Thomas de Bolron (c1270)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150) (5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180) (6) Maude de Bolron (c1210) (7) Ralph de Bolron (c1240)

"[1297] In Bolrun, Thomas de Bolrun holds 4 bovates of land for homage and does suit to the County and Wapentake." - from "Lancashire Inquests." He was plaintiff in a suit in 1292. Thomas de Bolrun was a juror of the inquisition on the death of Sir Edmund, Earl of Lancaster in 1297, of the lands held by the Prior of Lancaster in 1299, of lands to be granted to John de Huddleston and Thomas de Beetham in 1300, and the outlawry of John son of Alan de Welslete in 1302. Thomas' widow, Hawise, was tenant in 1323.

(9) William de Bolron (c1300)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150) (5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180) (6) Maude de Bolron (c1210) (7) Ralph de Bolron (c1240) (8) Thomas de Bolron (c1270)

In the Survey of Lonsdale of 1320-46, William de Bolron was recorded as holding a messuage and 60 acres of land in Bolron by the serjeanty of masonry, worth 5 shillings yearly.

(9) Robert de Bolron (c1300)
(4) Vivian de Bolron (c1150) (5) Ralph de Bolron (c1180) (6) Maude de Bolron (c1210) (7) Ralph de Bolron (c1240) (8) Thomas de Bolron (c1270)

Perhaps the brother of William. He was the mayor of Lancaster in 1338, 1342, 1345, 1346, 1347, and 1349. In the Survey of Lonsdale of 1320-46, Robert de Bolron held two acres in Lancaster, yielding sixpence yearly. This apparently was in the Milne field where John de Hesham held 1/2 acre.


(10) Robert de Bolron (c1350)

1401. "Between Robert de Bolron, plaintiff, and John del Carre, of Lancastre, deforciant of 2 messuages, a garden, and 5 acres of land in Lancastre, which John Ammory holds for the term of the life of John, son of Robert del Karre." - from "Final Concords of the County of Lancaster."

(11) Thomas Bolron (c1380)

Thomas' widow was Margaret, who died in 1444.

(12) William Bolron Armiger (c1410)
(11) Thomas Bolron (c1380)

William son of Thomas Bolron made a feoffment of his land in 1448-9. William Bolron died in 1460 holding a messuage and 60 acres in Bolron by serjeanty, just like his predecessor, (9) William de Bolron (c1300), in 1346. His wife was Katherine, and a Thomas, son of Peter Bolron, were named in his inquisition. William Hesam was a juror at the inquisition at his death.

(12) Nicholas Bolron (c1410)
(11) Thomas Bolron (c1380)

The brother of William. The abbot of Cocerksand abbey had a writ of redisseisen against William & Nicholas Bolron for land in Bowerham Dale.

(13) Thomas Bolron (c1440)
(11) Thomas Bolron (c1380) (12) Nicholas Bolron (c1410)

He inherited from his uncle, William Bolron, in 1460. In 1496 he made a feoffment of six messuage in Lancaster, Aldcliffe and Scotforth.

(13) Margaret Bolron (c1450)

Thomas' heir, she married Henry Duckett. She died in 1501. Livery of the tenement of Bolron was granted to their grandson, Richard Duckett in 1519.

(14) Richard Bolron

Alice, his widow, in 1525-6 granted to feoffees a third part of the manor of Bolron.


The Little Ice Age

In the middle of the 13th century the weather in Northern Europe turned generally cooler; pack ice began advancing southwards in the North Atlantic, as did glaciers in Greenland, which put an end to the great voyages of the Viking era in that region. The worst impact of this cooling trend occurred in the first two centuries after the peak of the warm period, before adjustments to worsening farming conditions could be put in place. By 1500, even though average temperatures continued to drop, most people had insulated themselves [pun intended] from further hardship. The temperature probably reached its nadir in 1650 when Englishmen could ice-skate on the Thames, though extremely low temperatures were also recorded in 1770 and 1850. This unfavorable climate earned the epoch the sobriquet of Little Ice Age.


Great Famine, 1315-17

While famine and disease were perennial dangers in the medieval world, they occurred on an unprecedented scale in the 14th century. A cycle of warm weather, known as the Medieval Warm Period, had ended and the cooler temperatures were accompanied by greater precipitation. Three years of torrential rains that begain in 1315 ushered in a period of unpredictable weather. England's population of 6 millions, fueled by bumper crops in the warm years, could not be supported in the new climatic chill and the result was the Great Famine.

The problems with the harvest were increased by the medieval technological inability to dry and store grain effectively.

Draft animals were slaughtered, seed grain was eaten, infants and the younger children were abandoned. Many of the elderly voluntarily starved themselves to death so that the younger members of the family might live to work the fields again. There were also numerous reports of cannibalism. It has been said that the Grimms' fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel is a reflection of just such a time - two children are abandoned in the woods by their parents only to be saved by an old woman who intends to eat them, but who gets cooked herself instead.

The weather turned less wet after 1317, but with little seed left, few draft animals, and a generally weakened and depleted population it would have taken many years for the country to recover, even if greater disasters were not looming.

Famines recurred in England in 1321, 1351 and 1369. The life expectancy in the early years of the century dropped to less than 30 years, and to less than 18 during the plague years.

The Great European Famine

The famine was not restricted to England. Millions died of starvation across northern Europe. Cannibalism was widely reported from Poland to Ireland and many were trampled to death in bread queues in London. It was not until 1325 that the food supply returned to a relatively normal state and the population began to increase. However, the populace had been badly shaken and now lived under the shadow of fear.

The famines and mass starvation of 1315 to 1317 further eroded Edward II's authority. He was forced to accept a council, led by Earl Thomas of Lancaster, to provide better governance.

In 1315 Adam de Banastre, a local lord, rebelled against Earl Thomas, supposedly in support of the King, but Adam and his cohorts also thought some of the Earl's companions were 'upstarts.' Clitheroe and Halton castles were captured, but when confronted by a force led by the sheriff, Edmund de Nevill, the rebels were put to flight. Adam was later captured and beheaded.

In 1322 Robert Bruce of Scotland raided Lancashire and burnt large parts of the town of Lancaster and the surronding area.

In 1322 Thomas, the Earl of Lancaster, made his fatal determination to march against the King. John was subsequently the member of a jury in an inquest.

15 Edward II [1322]. "Inquest taken at Lancastre on the morrow of Pentecost 15 Edward II [31 May, 1322], before John Trauers [Travers], keeper of the castles, lands and tenemants which belonged to Thomas, earl of Lancastre, and other enemies and rebels of the king in the county of Lancashire, in the king's hands by foreiture, by John le Keu, Robert de Skerton, John de Hesham, Alan le Meystersone, Robert de Bolerun, . . . who say that Nicholas du Lee held one messuage with the appurtenances in Lancastre of Geoffrey, formerly prior of Lancastre, predecessor of the present prior . . . Afterwards the messuage came to the hands of Thomas, earl of Lancastre, by purchase; . . ." - from "Lancashire Inquests, Extents, and Feudal Aids ..." by William Farrer.
In this same year the Scots, perhaps noting the turmoil caused by the Earl's action, made a devastating raid into Lancashire. They burnt the town and laid waste the the countryside.

The Inquest

A standard option for judicial investigation was by inquest, a Norman introduction. It allowed boroughs to try civil cases, while the King reserved criminal cases for his own legal system. An inquest, which was sometimes referred to as putting oneself "on the country", might be called upon for various purposes, such as the assessment of legal damages or the valuation of property. From this, as well as from an Anglo-Saxon group responsible for identifying crimes (like the later capital pledge presenters of the leet court), evolved trial by jury. The jury was, in some regards, similar to the compurgators, except that it was called into being by public authorities to state (under oath) its opinion on the guilt or innocence of an individual, rather than participating voluntarily to support an individual's claim of innocence.

The medieval jury was different from the jury of today. In this rough-and-ready affair jurymen might also be witnesses and men concerned in the outcome.

Note again that John de Hesham's fellow jurors were important men in the community, John le Keu and Robert de Bolerun being mayors-to-be, and Robert de Skerton was bailiff in 1314. John Travers was a rich man. In 1323 an inquest determined that it would do the king no injury if the king concede to John Travers that he may give and grant to to Katherine, his daughter . . . one messuage, 120 acres of land, 24 acres of meadow, and 100 solidates of rent, in Slyne, Bolton, Skerton, Torisholm and Bare, held of the king in chief. In 1330 the king appointed him a justice, calling him "his trusty and well beloved." Nicholas de Lee had been Receiver of Edmund, Earl of Lancaster ("Roger de Hesaym and John his son" were witnesses with him circa 1274-1286). Geoffrey had been prior from 1241 to 1250.

Thomas, Earl of Lancaster

The second Earl of Lancaster, he was a member of the royal family and grandson of Henry III. He inherited the earldom from his father, Edmund, in 1297 and by marriage added extensive territories in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. He married Alice de Lacey, heiress of the earldoms of Lincoln and Salisbury, of Pontefract castle, and the Barony of Halton. An "over mighty" subject, he led the Baronial opposition to King Edward II and his favorites, Piers Gaveston and the Despenser family. While he was able, for a time, to dictate to the King, his lack of effective leadership created a power vacuum that eventually worked to his ruin. He was executed at Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire, on 22 March 1322 by order of his cousin, Edward II. Edward himself died a horrible death when he was later deposed by his wife and her lover.

Thomas' brother, Henry, succeeded him as Earl of Lancaster in 1324.


John le Keu

In the 12th century the Norman-French word for cook was le queu or le qeu. In England this became anglicized into le keu, probably pronounced more like koe. John le Keu and John de Heysham were associated repeatedly in the records of Lancaster. They shared duties as Bailiffs in 1310 & 1311, with le Keu serving again in 1314 and as mayor in 1341. They were jurors together in an inquest in 1322. They both owned land in the Milnefeld. John le Keu also had a grant of land to him in Stodday witnessed by John de Heysham.

". . . John le Keu of Lancaster and wife Margery had confirmation of messuages and land in Lancaster 6 Oct. 1316, granted to them for their lives . . . " - from "Remains, Hisotrical . . ."

In 1323 Edmund de Dacre said "that he and a certain Robert, son of Thomas of Heysham [Robertus filius Thome de Hesham], are lords of the vill of Heysham . . .," that is, Robert was an heir of the Gernet's of Heysham. I've proposed that Thomas was John de Hesham's elder brother. So, at this time some members of the family still lived in Heysham and the surronding villages of Overton and Middleton, while John's line had settled in Lancaster.

The Roll of the Rental of Lancastre was gathered in 17 Edward II [1323].

"William le Gentyll [6a], John Laurence [6a], Alice Laurence [2a], Alan son of the Master [2a], Simon de Baldreston [1a], Robert de Bolleron [1a], the prior of Lancastre [1/2a], John de Heghsham [Hesham, 1/2a] and John le Keu [1/2a] hold in Lancastre 20a. of land called Le Milnfeld [Milnefeld], and render yearly 5s." - from "Lancashire Inquests, Extents, and Feudal Aids ..." by William Farrer.
A later document says that "Edmund de Dacre holds the manor of Heghsham by the service of sounding his horn . . .," making it clear that Heghsham=Heysham. The Master was probably Thomas de Kirkham, "Magister Scholarum Lancastriae," Headmaster of the Free Grammar school from as early as 1253 to as late as 1292. Sir Simon de Baldreston, of Blackburn Hundred, was an official, perhaps a judge, in Lancashire from 1314 to 1327, and the Steward of Wakefield manor from 1330 to 1331. Milnefeld was an enclosure [cultura] between,
"Gerard the Chaplain's land and the royal highway leading to Gargotra. The Milne stood in the reign of Elizabeth at no great distance from the bank; Gargotra was probably Garth Gutter, the weir stream, and the highway, leading to Damside street." - from "The History and Antiquities of the Town of Lancaster."
The Milnefeld was apparently the Mill-field, that is, a section of land in the Green Ayre, across from the mill (no. 9 in the map above). See also Le Milnefeld in Kirkdale, which was associated with their corn-mill. Damside street was named for its location, alongside the mill stream, near the weir [the dam that created the mill-pond] that supported operation of the mill. This is not labeled on Speed's map above. At left is a medieval painting of farmers working their fields.
"Lancaster Marsh, beside the Lune [I assume this is the Green Ayre], was vested in the corporation from ancient times and the freemen had right of pasturage there. It became the custom to divide the area and assign portions to the senior freemen living in the town." - from "British History Online"

At about this time, circa 1323, the old Gernet manor of Halton was held by Henry de Tunstall, rendering 26s., and the manors of Fishwick, Eccleston, Gerston, Speke, Wiston and Parr by being the master forester of the forests of Quernmoor, Wyresdale, Blesedale, Fullwood, etc. On the other hand the same inquest said that Ranulf de Dacre, Joan Gernet's son, held Halton and the other manors by the same terms. Both of these citations are from the same page of the "Lancashire Inquests, Extents, . . . " I suppose each held a moiety thereof.






In addition to the field in the Milnefeld that he worked, John would have had a messuage in town, a timbered house on a small plot within the town walls. It would have been on a narrow street, it's second story extending out to steal all the square footage it could. Behind the house would have been a kitchen-garden for fresh vegetables, and several out-buildings for chickens, a cow, and perhaps a horse. John would have conducted his business there as well, storing goods on the property and selling them out of his front door.

In 1323, a Suit "[b]etween Hugh, son of Constantine de Lancaster, and Margery his wife, plaintiffs, and John de Hesham, of Lancaster deforcient of a messuage in Lancaster. John and Cristina [his wife] acknowledged the said messuage to be the right of Hugh, to have and to hold of the said Hugh and Margery and the heirs of Hugh, for which Hugh and Margery gave them 40s." - from the Feet of Fines, in "British History Online." Remember, such suits were not necessarily antagonistic. This was probably an unforced sale.



Def: Deforce - As in deforcient, is to withhold something by force from the rightful owner.

Def: Court Rolls - These were the records of the Manor Courts.

From 18-19 Edward II [1324]:

"Perquisites of the Wapentake [courts] of Lonesdale, held at the same place [Lancastre], on Tuesday next after the feast of St. Nicholas, in the year aforesaid [10th December 1324].
. . .
John Godhyue, for breach of the peace upon John de Hesham . . . [fined] 4d." - from the Court Rolls in "Publications" by the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire
I've not been able to identify John Godhyue. The name may be Goodhugh, Goodhue, Goodhew, or Goodhewe. It was perhaps a nickname, hiwe being the Middle English for servant.

Def: Perquisites - Middle English, meaning property acquired by means other than inheritance, A privilege, gain, or profit incidental to regular salary or wages, especially one expected or promised.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1327-1377 Edward III

He was another powerful King. Because his mother was a daughter of the French King, when that throne became vacant Edward pressed his claim. Not surprisingly the French nobles could not bear the idea of an English King on their throne and, instead, picked one of their own number to take the crown. This began the 100 Years War with France.

Edward III founded the Order of the Garter, still one of England’s most renowned orders of knighthood. He had many sons, including the Black Prince, the most renowned warrior of his age.

In September 1332 [6 Edward III] Parliament granted a subsidy of a fifteenth and a tenth. The tenth was on boroughs and towns, and the fifteenth on persons not living in boroughs.

"1332. Midelton [Middleton]. Subsidy of a fifteenth. John de Hesham. 30s." - from "British History Online."
While it may sound otherwise to modern ears, this was a tax on the goods of all persons liable to be taxed - the clergy taxed themselves, some of the nobility was exempt, and there was a lower limit set on total assets, 6s. in town and 10s. in the county, below which no tax was assessed. The Subsidy roll, then, was a directory of the Lancashire men of substance.

Middleton is a village on the shore of Morecombe Bay, lying between Heysham and Overton.

The issue here is, was this our John de Hesham of Lancaster? Perhaps. As I've described this, John was the son of Adam de Hesham, and therefore the younger, non-inheriting, brother of Thomas de Hesham, who later settled in Overton, near Middleton. Thomas and Nicholas de Hesham were also mentioned in the Subsidy of 1332.

"Thom de Hesham of Overton, 12d.
Nicho de Hesham of Heysham, 4s. 10d. ob. qa." - from "Exchequer Lay Subsidy Roll, Lancashire, A. D. 1332"
However, the way I've written this I've assumed that Thomas de Hesham was John's elder brother, and Nicholas his nephew. Note below that a John de Heysham, specifically of Lancaster, had dealings in Middleton.

Money

The currency of England was divided into pounds, shillings and pence. The terms originated in the Latin librae, solidi, denarii, hence the use of the hatched £ for pounds and "d" for pence. There were 12 pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound, making 240 pence in a pound. The penny, 1 pence, was further divided into 4 farthings.

The Subsidy of 1332 was collected by Sir Robert de Shireburn and Sir John de Radcliffe, the chief Taxers and Collectors for Lancashire. The money to be raised was chiefly to enable the King to prosecute his war in Scotland. It appears as if the 30s., above, was not the tax John paid, but the value of his goods, so his tax would have been 4s. 6d. As a comparison, John le Keu of Lancaster paid 5s. and Robert de Bolrun paid 6s. The whole sum raised for Lancashire was only £298, 17s., 4d. The two taxers were paid 20s. each for their efforts.

Def: The Subsidy Roll - The roll was a census of taxpayers, the nobility, clergy and laity, who paid a grant in aid to the King. So the subsidy, then, was to the King. Subsidies were granted to the King by the clergy in Convocation and by the laity in Parliament. Subsidies were assessed as a part, or percentage, of the moveables belonging to the individual - horses, cows, grain, carts, ploughs. For example, in the lay subsidy of 1297 John, the son of Henry, was assessed for 1 horse, 3s.; 2 oxen, 10s.; 1 cow, 5s.; 1 stirk, 3s.; 1 qr. of wheat, 3s.; 2 qrs. of maslin, 5s.; 1 qr. of beans, 2s.; 1 qr. of oats, 1s. 4d.; hay and fodder, 2s. 6d.; 1 cart, 1s. Amount of assessment, 1l 15s. 10d.; of tax, 3s. 113/4d."

The Hundred Years' War, 1337-1453

The war's origins lay with the English possession of Gascony in France, with rivalries over rich Flanders' trade, and with fear caused by continual French intervention in Scotland. These disputes were exacerbated by Edward III's claim to the French throne, through his mother, Isabella. When Charles IV died without an heir the French Barons rejected Edward's claim to the throne (he was only 15 years old) and chose Philip VI of Valois instead. Early in the conflict, at the battle of Sluys, Edward gained command of the English Channel. Edwards victory at Crecy in 1346 and his son's at Poitiers in 1356, made England the master of France, a country three times its size. King John of France was captured at Poitiers and remained in captivity until his death eight years later. Roving bands of English soldiers in private companies pillaged the French countryside.

There were four phases in this conflict:
1337-1360 Edward III invaded France. Battles of Crecy and Poitiers. The French king captured and taken to London.

1361-1396 Edward III’s dotage. By mostly avoiding open-field battles, where the English longbow dominated, the French followed Fabian methods of raids, ambushes, night attacks, and harassment. The French reconquered much of their land.

1397-1420 Henry V invaded France. The battle of Agincourt was a replay of Crecy with equally devastating results for the Knights of France. Henry's effective use of a new weapon, cannon, made the old symbol of power, the castle, obsolete. Northern most parts of France were reconquered by the English. The French king reluctantly signed a treaty disinheriting his own son and marrying his daughter to Henry.

1421-1453 Henry V died early and was succeeded by his infant son, Henry VI. Led by the Maid of Orleans, Joan D'Arc, the French drove the English out of France. The decisive battle of Formigny in 1450 demonstrated the first effective use of gunpowder weapons on the battlefield in the Hundred Years' War and saw the defeat of English longbow tactics. All French lands, except Calais, were recaptured by the French.

The Longbow

The victories of the English were based on the longbow and the high velocity of the arrow it powered. This weapon was almost as powerful as the crossbow and could penetrate plate armor, but could be fired at a much higher rate than the crossbow. This weapon was introduced from Wales by Edward I and made England the foremost power in Europe.

Archers began training at a very early age, traditionally at seven. Training at long ranges was mandatory, complete with fines for violations. Local tournaments were held regularly and the best archers were chosen for military duty. As these were all hand-picked troops from among the best archers in England, the archer units were an elite group of infantry. These were no peasant levies; they were all hand-picked craftsmen who knew their worth in battle well.

Because of the importance of these archers to their armies and the need for intensive training, English Kings banned sports other than archery, forcing their people to spend any free time at the "butts," the archery range.

The village of Heysham was famed for the excellence of its bows and arrows marked "Grange."

It is at about this point that I think a John de Heysham Jr. would be appropriate.

(9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270)

I propose a John de Hesham Jr. here for two reasons. First, there are references to a John de Heysham in 1365 and 1377 which could not be John Sr., and, second, the next reference seems a bit rambunctious for a fifty year old man. I also have the following, maddenly undated, reference,

"Jan. 15 William Cartmell, L.
19 John s. John Hesham, L.
19 Margt d. Martin Usherwood, L.
. . . " - from "Publications" by Lancashire Parish Register Society

On 18 November 1339, the Prior of the church of St. Mary’s, Lancaster [Emery de Argenteles 1337-1344], complained that, while he was under the King’s protection, John de Hesham and many others broke his closes and palings while thus under protection at Neuton [Newton] by Lancaster, cut the palings into little bits and depastured his grass with beasts - Patent Rolls. The root of this issue may be illegal enclosures, that is the Prior fenced in land for private use that the community had long regarded as for common use. Enclosures would continue to be an area of dispute into the 19th century. Neuton [Newton] was to the east of Lancaster, on a series of moors and open pastures.

"Nov. 18 [1339]. Langley. The like to Robert de Scardeburgh, Robert de Hungerford, Thomas de Malghum and John de Lancastre, on complaint by the prior of the church of St. Mary, Lancaster, that whereas the king lately took into his hands the priory with other alien priories and afterwards by letters patent committed the same to his custody, during pleasure, at a rent, and by other letters patent took him and his men lands, rents and possessions into his special protection, John le Keu of Lancaster, Alan le Maistreson of Lancaster, William son of Adam son of Simon de Lancastre, John le Mercer the elder, John le Mercer the younger, John Laurence of Lancaster, John de Catherton, John son of Henry son of Matthew, Robert his brother, John le Frereson, Thomas de Heton, John son of Peter de Lancastre, Walter del Bakhous, William del Cote, John Magotson, Thomas Simondson, John his brother, William son of Simon de Lancastre, Thomas le Tyncler, Adan le Mareschal of Lancaster, Thomas le Skynner, William de Ragardhou, Robert de Wyresdale of Lancaster, . . . Richard son of Gilbert de Boleroun, William de Halton, . . . John his son, William le Sadeler [saddler], John his son, John de Hesham, Ralph le Folour, Simon Danndeson, . . . and others broke his closes and palings while thus under protection at neuton by Lancastre, cut the palings into little bits, and depastured his grass with beasts.
By fine of 1 mark at the instance of the earl of Lancaster.
Lancaster." - from "Calendar of the Patent Rolls," 1973, page 367
The men John Hesham associated with, above, were generally landowners and members of the municipal government:
- Adam son of Simon de Lancastre was a freeman of Lancaster circa 1323. William son of Adam son of Simon de Lancastre and John Catherton were defendents in a suit brought by William Mirresone, burgess of Preston.
- John the mercer held 2 1/2 acres in the Milnefield of Lancaster per the Survey of 1320-1346.
- John Laurence of Lancaster held 2 acres in the Milnefield.
- John de Catherton held half a carucate in Neuton and Elslake 31 Edward I [1303]. In 1350 John de Catherton was mayor of Lancaster.
- See John le Keu, above, a bailiff and mayor of Lancaster.
- Bishops Lynn is today's Kings Lynn. St. Helens in the Isle of Wight on the high ground north of Bembridge.
- Henry Plantagenet was the brother of Thomas, the 2nd Earl. He petitioned the King for the Earldom upon the latter's execution in 1322. He was invested as Earl in 1324 and died in 1345.
- Thomas Wake was the 2nd Baron Wake of Liddel (1297-1349). He married the niece of Earl Thomas of Lancaster, though he did not following the Earl into rebellion.

Def: Under the King’s protection - This probably referred to a letter, signed by a royal official, that removed the Prior from the usual strictures of the law. He could not be impleaded . . .

Neuton

A village, now known as Newton, on the south bank of the Lune river, directly across from Halton, and east of Lancaster; near Bulk. Here the Newton Beck, a small river, joins the Lune. By a charter dated 1094 Roger de Poitou bestowed upon the Abbey of Seez the Church of St. Mary of Lancaster, and the two manor houses of Aldcliffe and Newton with whatever pertained to them.

The following makes clear that a previous Prior of St. Mary's, Nigel, had indeed enclosed land in Newton.

"In 1318 Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, and Leicester, Seneschal of England, granted to the Prior of our Lady of Lancaster [Nigel 1315-1326] and the monks there serving God that they might enclose sixty acres of the Waste adjoing to their close of the Ridge in the vill of Newton, within the forest of Lancaster."
The Ridge was just south of the village of Bulk, lying at the northeastern extreme of the Highfield in Lancaster. This grant was followed in the same year by a complaint by Nigel.
"At the Assize at Preston in 1318, Nigel, Prior of Lancaster, complained that John, son of Robert le Kene of Lancaster, and Ralph le Foulour had disseised the Prior of five acres of his free tenement in Newton by Lancaster. They, by William Lawrence, who appeared for them as their bailiff, raised a number of technical pleas and alleged that the tenements in question were in Lancaster and not in Newton and that they were common of pasture of John and Ralph. The jurors decided that Newton was a hamlet of Bulk and that the tenements were in Newton and not in Bulk, and that Roger the Poietevin gave to the priory the hamlet of Newton, a gift that was confirmed by King John, who afterwards made the vill of Lancaster free burgage and granted to the burgesses common of pasture for their cattle in his forest of Quernmore . . . The jurors further said that the tenements referred to are between the vill of Lancaster and the forest of Quernmore, and that John and Ralph and other men of the vill of Lancaster exercised their rights of pasturage under colour of the grant from King John, and not by reason of common pertaining to any free tenement in Lancaster . . ." - from "Remains, Historical . . ."
That is, the Assize held that the pasturage was not a right, but a gift of the King. The men of Lancaster would oppose this, of course, because a gift might be reconsidered, a right could not. The Prior regained his seisin, but my assumption is that the men of Lancaster continued to see this as "common pasture" and so, from time to time, would graze their animals there, and in the process break the palings. Note that Prior Nigel also had a dispute with Edmund de Dacre about a pasture in Heysham in which Robert, son of Thomas of Heysham, became involved.

There was a grant of land to John le Keu, witnessed by John de Hesham of Lancaster.

1343. "Grant: Robert son of Thomas of Stodagh to John Keu of Lancastre -- a messuage and 8½ ac. land in Stodagh -- Witn. William of Bolron, Thomas of Walton [Halton?], John of Stodagh, Robert of Bolron, John de Hesham of Lancaster. Given at Stodagh, Wed. before Epiphany, 16 E.3. [16 Edward III]" - from the British Archives
Stodagh is probably Stodday, which is on the Lune river, 3 miles south of Lancaster.

The extent made of Slyne-with-Hest in 1346 showed that

"Perquisites of courts amounted to 1s. 6d. and 5s. (out of 10s) had been received from John Heysham for entry to a tenement formerly belonging to Thomas Wales." - from the Victoria History of Lancashire County"
Hest is on the shore of Morecombe bay, Slyne is on higher land, to the east. This is northwest of Lancaster, just beyond Skerton. I've recently found a more complete quotation of the above which adds some confusion since it also refers to the year 1441.
"The extent made in 1346 shows that each of the 16 oxgangs rendered 13s. 4d. a year, half of which was in lieu of certain services due from the tenants- ploughing for winter and spring corn, harrowing and reaping the lord's demesne in Skerton. The tenants had also certain duties to perform for the castle at Lancaster, such as carrying timber for its repair, and services like those the tenants of Overton had to render. A tenant was obliged to act as reeve, when chosen, receiving nothing for his trouble. Each of them also owed suit to Lune Mill to the thirteenth measure. John son of John de Barton held the 40 acres formerly belonging to Thomas Travers, paying 8s. as before. (fn. 19) For the year ending Michaelmas 1441 the net receipts from Slyne were a little over £20, including 8s. from John Barton for his messuage and 40 acres. The tenants in bondage paid £10 14s. 4d. The moiety of the mill of Bolton was farmed to John Austin in succession to William Bolton for 23s. 4d. Perquisites of courts amounted to 1s. 6d., and 5s. (out of 10s.) had been received from John Heysham for entry to a tenement formerly belonging to Thomas Wales. (fn. 20)" - from: "Townships: Slyne-with-Hest, A History of the County of Lancaster" from British History Online
So, was this John Heysham of 1346 or John Heysham of 1441?

I'm not sure what the following proves, other than that several families lived in close proximity, but, circa 1347, a John Travers and Thomas de Gentill were witnesses, along with Nicholas, the son of Thomas de Heysham, of a grant made in the vill of Heysham.

31 December, 21 Edward III [1347]. "Grant from Thomas, son of Orm Travers, to Adam Skylyngcorne, clerk, of land in the vill of Overheysham, sometime held by John Edonsesone . . . Witnesses: Thomas de Gentill, Will de Burgh de Middleton, John Travers of Heysham, John de Heaton, William le Harpersone, Nicholas, son of Thomas de Heysham. At Heysham, on Monday the Eve of the Circumcision (31 December), 21 Edw. III." - from the "Annual Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records"
Thomas de Gentill was apparently the son of William le Gentyll, who owned land in the Milnefeld, above. John Travers of Heysham could be the John Travers, above, who was still living in 1346, but was more likely a cousin.

There were troubles in the country, "thus to the summer fair of 1347 came a band of evil-doers who maimed and stole and in various ways ill-treated the townsmen and traders." - trom the "Victoria History of Lancashire."

The Black Plague reached Lancaster in 1349 and St. Mary's church was abandoned by its clergy from September 1349 to January 1350. Almost a 1000 people died in the parish during that time.

The Black Plague, 1348-1350

This disease, like many others, originated centuries ago in the Rift valley of Africa, man's original home. Mediterranean trade routes of the 6th century, the caravans of North Africa, and the shipping routes of the Mediterreanean, spread it amongst the port cities of the Eastern Roman Empire and established new natural reservoirs among the rodent population of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In 541 A.D. the plague flared up, causing great devastation and severely weakening the central authority of the Empereor, Justinian.

The most well known incidence of bubonic plague was in 14th century Europe. The pestilence started in the East, amongst the Mongols in the central steppe of Asia. From there it swept south and west devastating countries and cultures as it went. The plague first came into contact with Christian Europe at a Genoese trading settlement on the coast of the Black Sea. By January of 1348 the plague had reached Marseille, in France.

In the summer of 1348 it reached England, carried home by soldiers who had been fighting in France. It was another wet year and grain lay rotting in the fields forecasting a famine to come. The vigor of the population had already been reduced by previous famines and the disease, striking across England with dizzying speed, killed 30-40% of the populace. Many villages were abandoned, never to be reoccupied. So many people died that there were serious labor shortages resulting in increased wages and a more mobile population. The feudal order never fully recovered from this blow. New outbreaks of the disease continued to haunt England until the 17th century.

Under the combined blows of the Great Famine and the Black Plague, the population of England and Wales plummeted to about 3 million. The population of the city of Lancaster was halved.

The plague flared up again in 1361-62, 1369, 1379-83, 1389-93, and throughout the first half of the 15th century. It struck with renewed fury in 1665. Modern outbreaks have occurred in China in the late 19th century, when the first scientific work on the disease was done, and as recently as 1924 in Los Angeles, California, when approximately 30 people died.

The next references show that John de Heysham continued to own land in Middleton. Remember that his father, John Sr., paid a "subsidy of a fifteenth" for property in Middleton in 1332.

"1351 John de Hoseham [Heseham?] and Thomas son of Adam son of Mariota, as above. held of William de Coucy, deceased, a messuage and three bovates in Middelton by cornage of 4s. 4d., wardship and relief and they still hold them of the king."
"In 1365 Edmund de Heaton claimed 3 oxgangs of land [in Middleton] against William de Nevill, 1 oxgang each against John son of Roger de Middleton and John de Heysham and 1 acre against Thomas son of Roger de Middleton." - from "British History Online."
"William de Middleton and Alice his wife in 1377 gave two messuages [in Middleton], &c., to John de Heysham." - from "British History Online."
The National Archives notes more precisely that this latter was for John de Hesham of Lancaster:
"William de Middelton and Alice his wife to John de Hesham of Lancaster: Grant, indented, of two messuages and five acres in Middleton: (Lancs)." 1 Ric. II
This makes me a little more confident that it was the Heysham of Lancaster family that was involved in the earlier Middleton lands transactions. The British National Archives have a date of 30 September 1377 and call him John Heysham (de Hesham) of Lancaster. The document was sealed at Middleton, but the "party," that is John, was "from Lancaster. The seal, by the way, was of the "Virgin and Child sitting full face, within a niche having three pinnacles; in a niche below a suppliant figure half-length facing left."

(10) Adam de Hesham (c1320)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300)

12 March 1354. "John del Castel [of the castle] acknowledges that he owes to Adam de Hesham 20 marks, to be levied, etc., in the city of London." - from the Close Rolls. 20 marks would be a lot of money, equal to the fee the burgesses of Lancaster paid for the borough for the year. I can not tell if this document relates to Lancaster or not. The name John del Castel is too common and various to be tracked. John del Castel, of Yorkshire, was described in a document of 30 May 1345 as "Capitan of Brest in Brittany," then an English possession. An earlier document, circa 1323, had him as "a prisoner in the prison of the king's Marshalsea at York." There was a numerous de Hesham family in York.

Def: Close Rolls - These are mandates, letters, and writs of a private nature, addressed, in the Sovereign’s name, to individuals and folded or closed and sealed on the outside with the Great Seal. Patent Rolls are left open, with the seal hanging from the bottom.

(10) David de Hesham (c1320)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300)

Of the following references only one ties David to Lancashire, that with Edmund de Wasshyngton. The others may be for a David de Hesham, citizen of London. Of course, David was a merchant, as so many of the family where, and therefore well traveled.

16 October 1352, Westminster. "Licence, until Easter, for David de Hisham to carry 10 quarters of wheat to Gascony for the sustenance of the king's lieges there, to make his profit of; he having made oath before the kind in the chancery that he will take the corn to the said parts and not elsewhere and will bring letters testimonial as above from the seneschal of Gascony or the constable of Bordeaux." - from "Calendar of the Patent Rolls"
Gascony was an English possession for most of the medieval period.

The following, from the National Archives, sounds very much like the case for Adam de Hesham, above, which makes them look like brothers. The original was in Latin.

"Debtor: John Castle [del Castel]. Creditor: David de Hesham [sic]. Amount: 20m. Before whom: Chancery. When taken: 12/03/1354 First term: 01/06/1354 Last term: 01/06/1354 Writ to: Sheriff of London Sent by: Chancery. Endorsement: The reply of John Little and William de Weld {Welde}, Sheriffs of London: this writ was delivered to us too late to be executed within the time set."
William de Welde, draper, and John Little, fishmonger, were Sheriffs of London in 1353-1354. Adam Fraunceys, mercer, was the mayor.

The following ties David to Lancaster, but was taken at Westminster like the others. Does this mean that David was at Westminster, or only that the judgement was taken there? Note that this action precedes John de Heysham's dealings in Middleton, above.

"At Westminster, at one month from Easter Day, 36 Edward III [15 May 1362]. Between Edmund de Wasshyngton, plaintiff, and David de Hesham, deforciant of a messuage in Lancastre. David acknowledged the said messuage to be the right of Edmund; to have and to hold to him and his heirs, for which Edmund gave him 30£." - from Feet of Fines, in "British History Online"
While this sounds like a forced sale, it was probably a transaction desired by both parties. The Washington family of Warton, George Washington's ancestors, held lands in Heysham as well. 30£ sounds like a lot of money for this era. The source actually says 30li - Is that something different?

Def: Feet of Fines - Fines (or final concords) were a means of conveying freehold property, and of having the conveyance officially recorded. The system evolved in the late 12th century from a legal procedure for settling disputes, and retained the form and language of a law suit between a plaintiff (or querent) and a defendant (or deforciant); that is, repectively, the person to whom the land was being granted, and the person granting it. The mechanics of this fictitious legal process were quite complicated. The essential stages were that a concord, or agreement, was reached between the parties, and its text was copied three times on to a single piece of parchment, which was then cut up, along lines which were indented to prevent forgery. One of these indentures (or chirographs) was given to each party, and the foot of the parchment was retained in the court. For this reason, the copies preserved feet of fines.

Edmund de Washington

(10) Edmund de Washington (c1330)
(8) Robert de Washington (c1266) (9) Robert de Washington (1296)

Of Warton. He was the son of Robert de Washington (1296-1348), of Carnforth, and Agnes, the daughter of Ranulf le Gentyl. The Gentyls were burgesses of Lancaster. Edmund's brother, John, married Eleanor (Alina) Gernet [Garnet], of Caton, for his second wife in about 1363.

I also have the following snippet of cases taken at Westminster, circa 1371. The priory of Lancaster was held by the abbey of St. Martin at Seez [Sees] in Orne, France.

". . . of Seez, touching the keeping of the abbot's lands and possessions in England, by mainprise of William de Stopeham, John Wilcok, clerk, William Merlot, the younger, and David Hesam of London of the county of Sussex, found in the Exchequer.
Brother William, alien prior of Lancastre, touching the keeping of the said priory, by mainprise of William de Horneby, clerk, . . . ", page 16,
and
". . . of David de Hesham, citizen of London, and John Porter of the county of Sussex,--of the keeping of the alien priory of Pembrok, which is in the king's hand on account of the war with France, to hold until Michaelmas next, paying 10l therefore in instalments of 100s. at Michaelmas next and Easter following; provided that he keep the priory without waste or destruction, and maintain the chantries and other divine . . . ", page 129 - from "Calendar of the Fine Rolls
The priory of Pembroke had been in royal hands since 1415 due to the war with France.

And finally,

[46] Edward III, March 16 [1372], at Westminster. "To the sheriff of Surrey. Order by mainprise of David Hesham of London and William Abbot of Kelseye co. Lincoln to stay the taking of the body of John Gatyn, bringing this writ before the king fifteen days after Easter; as on his behalf it is shewn the king that lately by writ de judicio the king ordered the sheriff to take the said John and keep him in prison in safe custody so as to have him on that day before the king to answer to Robert Nottebourne concerning an alleged trespass, praying for a stay as he is ready so to answer and stand to right in all things ; and the said David and William have mainperned under a pain of 20l. to have him before the king at the day named." - from the "Calendar of the Close Rolls"
I have a John Gatyn, fishmonger, of London who was mentioned in the Calendar of plea and memoranda rolls of London, being mainprised to keep the peace, in 1365. In 1384 John Gatyn, fishmonger of London, was granted 20 marks in payment of a debt. In 1385-86 John Gatyn, of Bridge ward, was summoned for the election of Nicholas Brembre, knight, as mayor. John was listed among "the more sufficient men of the city." - from "Bristish History Online." Nottebourne is a manor in Sussex.

Def: Mainprise - The taking a man into friendly custody, who might otherwise be committed to prison, upon security given for his appearance at a time and place assigned. The mainpernors are the man's sureties, to whose custody he was committed.

Internal Migration

In the aftermath of the plague, the few agricultural workers left found their services in demand resulting in migration east and south, where richer lands could support the higher wages they demanded. Landowners attempted to restrict this migration, resulting in what has become known as the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.

***************************************************************************************


The record of the family's descent after this point grows indistinct with few father-to-son links, which is perhaps not so surprising considering that this was an era of famine, war and plague that cut the population of England in half, if not more. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were a common image of this time. They were the forces of man's destruction, described in the Book of Revelation: War, Famine, Pestilence and Death.

The horsemen would ride during the end-time when the seven seals of the book of life were opened, resulting in death and destruction on a world-wide scale. War rode a red horse, Famine's was black, Pestilence (or the anti-Christ) was astride a white, and Death rode a pale horse. Ingmar Bergman's film, "The Seventh Seal," was about the journey of a medieval knight across a plague ridden landscape and, famously, playing chess with death. Albrecht Durer's etching of the horsemen is to the left.


















The people, desperate in their fear, sought any means to ward off doom. Flagellants wandered the countryside, beating themselves with flails, in hopes of assuaging God's anger through their pain and humiliation. Old women were burned as witches to remove the source of sin and contagion. Corrupt clergy sold salvation for gold.

Things became so bad that a cult of death arose, manifested in the "memento mori," gruesome images of skeltons and decomposition on tombs and in churches, and the celebration of the Danse Macabre.

"The dance of death is an endless round dance, in which the dead alternate with the living. The dead lead the dance, in fact, they are the only ones to dance. Each couple consists of a naked, rotting, sexless and very active corpse and a man or a woman, dressed according to their social positions, and astounded. Death reaches out his hand towards the living that he is going to drag to the grave, but who have not yet complied with his invitation. The artistic contrast is between the rhythm of the dead and the paralysis of the living. The moral lesson is to remind men of the uncertainty of the hour of death and to stress that they will all die. All ages and all social positions file in front of us in strict hierarchical order." - from "Man and Death," by Philippe Ariès.

"I Joined the "danse Macabré"
Drawing everyone into its round dance
And leading them to the grave,
Which is their last home."

The de Hesham family would have been affected as badly as any other in those precarious times. The multiple lines of descent outlined in the "Gernets of Heysham" web page would have been winnowed down as the family staggered through 200 years of dearth, many fleeing east and south to more benign climates, to finally blossom in the England of the Tudor Kings. The following are, at best, representatives of each generation, images of a family of survivors.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1377-1399 King Richard II

He was the son of the Black Prince, who had predeceased his father, Edward III. His frivolous manners reminded too many of Edward II. The 100 Years War continued, but at a slackened pace.

In 1377 a census of principal towns in the kingdom was taken. No Lancashire towns were shown. The census stated, "that Lancashire contains no town thought worthy of particular mention." That probably meant that Lancaster's population had fallen below 800 by this time.

In 1381 John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster and the King's uncle, advised him to triple the tax. Watt Tyler led 60,000 people in a 'Peasants' Revolt'. Rebels converged on London and pillaged the Savoy palace – John of Gaunt's London home. The Mayor of London killed Watt Tyler when he becomes abusive in a confrontation with the young King and the Rebellion collapsed.

In 1389 Robert Bruce again raided Lancashire and pillaged the town of Lancaster.

Richard was deposed by his cousin, Henry Bolingbroke, in 1399.


(11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320)

Thomas is problematic because his ties are to Northumberland, a county in the far northeast of England, not Lancashire. Hesham may be a mistake for Hexham. The following is for a Thomas de Hexham associated with Henry Percy of Northumberland:

24 November 1374, Westminster. "The like [a commission to take inquisition in the county] to Thomas de Ingelby, Ralph de Hastynges, Robert de Boynton, Roger de Fulthorp, William de Nessefeld, John de Ask, Thomas de Hexham and Thomas Lovell, on complaint by Henry lord of Percy that, whereas the king took him and his men, lands, rents and possessions into his protection, Robert de Stanyford of Craven, William de Rouceby, John de Rouceby, Richard Cholleman, William de Semer of Scardeburgh and others entered his free chace [sic] at Langstrothe and his free warren at Semer, Naffreton, Lekyngfeld, Pokelyngton, Catton, Spofford, Topclif and Tadecastre, co. York, hunted therein without licence, took away deer from the chace and hares, conies, pheasants and partridges from the warren, killed 60 sheep of his, worth 10 marks, at Semer, and assaulted his men and servants there and at Malton. For 20s. paid in the hanaper." - from the "Calendar of Patent Rolls, Edward III"
While the following is a different commission, and 24 years later, it was given to a Thomas de Hesham, also associated with Henry Percy of Northumberland:
22 Richard II, 28 November 1398, at Westminster. "Commission to Thomas Hesham, William de Charton and the sheriff of Northumberland, on information that goods and chattels of Robert del Hall of Tyndale in that county, are forfeited to the king, to enquire and certify what goods and chattels he had on the day of forfeiture, and take and keep them until further order." - from the "Patent Rolls"
Does to "keep them until further notice" mean that Thomas was rewarded with these goods? The King was Richard II, son of the Black Prince. In 1398 his hold on the country was shaky and his finances were uncertain. In 1398 Richard II had banished his cousin, Henry, the son of John of Gaunt. When John, perhaps the richest man in the kingdom, died in 1399 the King disinherited Henry and confiscated the fortune. Henry returned to England and raised an army to protect his interests. After some delay he declared himself King and had Richard imprisoned, and later killed. Henry was crowned king on 13 October 1399.
- William de Charlton may have been part of the family that owned the manor of Charlton, near Tyndale, in Northumberland. They came to prominence starting around 1300. An Edward de Charlton succeeded his father, William, in 1343 holding the estate of Hesleyside. Perhaps he was our William's father. In a later generation a William de Charlton was at Agincourt in the retinue of Lord de Grey.

Thomas Hesham was murdered at just about this time, while under commission.

An inquiry was ordered into Thomas Hesham's death, his name here written as Heysom.

1399. "Membrane 20d. May 12. Swansea. Commission to Henry, earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy 'le Fitz,' John de Fenwyk, John Wetherynton, John Mitford, William Mitford and William Carnaby to enquire and certify who killed Thomas de Heysom at Lye in Tyndale, co. Northumberland, robbed him of his goods, and 8 marks of money and at whose instance, and who afterwards harboured the malefactors." - from "Calendar of the Patent Rolls"
And again in slightly different fashion as Heysem:
"Commision to Henry earl of Northumberland, Henry Percy 'le Fitz,' John de Fenwyk, [John Wetheryngton, John Mitford, William Mitford and] William Carnaby to inquire [what malefactors] and disturbers of the peace slew Thomas de Heysem at Lye in Tyndale, co. Northumberland, and feloniously robbed him of divers goods of no mean value and of 8 marks in money, why, how, at whose instance, and who afterwards knowingly received the malefactors. Sweneseye in Wales 12 May 22 Richard II [1399]. Mutilated" - from "Calendar of Inquisitions"
Was Thomas serving the interest of Richard or of Henry, that is, whose man was he?

The finding of the inquisition was that Thomas was killed by agents of the man whose goods had been forfeited to the King, Robert del Hall [I think].

10 November 1399. “Whereas Mary, late the wife of Robert del Hall, has shown the King that the said Robert lately appealed on Robert Dode with treason before the King’s kinsman the Earl of Northumberland, then warden of the East March towards Scotland, and pursued the appeal to a duel in which he was killed and his goods were forfeited to Richard II, who by Letters patent granted them to one Thomas de Hesham and the said Mary [late wife of Robert del Hall] and because the Sheriff of Northumberland, William Charleton and the said Thomas by inquisition taken by virtue of letters patent of the present King found in whose hands the goods were the occupiers of the same lay in ambush and murdered the said Thomas; the King grants the goods to her.” - from the "Patent Rolls"
So what does this mean?
- Did Robert del Hall accuse Robert Dode of treason while at a court held by the Earl? The Earl of Northumberland was Henry Percy. The Percy's had long dominated the north, whose people were said to acknowledge, "No lord but a Percy." He was the "King's kinsman" in that his mother, Mary, was the daughter of Henry Plantagenet, the Earl of Lancaster and grandson of Henry III.
- If del Hall died in a duel with a treasonous man, why were his goods forfeited to the king? Does this mean instead that del Hall asked, "appealed," to Dode to commit treason, in the cause of the Earl, Henry Percy? When Richard II created Percy's chief rival, Ralph Neville, as the 1st Earl of Westmorland in 1399, Percy switched his allegiance to Henry, who deposed Richard and took the crown for himself. Henry Percy's son was the famous "Hotspur" of Shakespeare's plays. In this scenario Dode killed del Hall for his traitorous appeal.
- Robert del Hall's goods were split between his widow and Thomas de Hesham by the order of letters patent of Richard II. Why was Thomas so favored?
- Who was the "present King?" In November 1399 that should have been Henry, but that does not align with the commission of 1398 by Richard II. Richard was still alive at this time and the clerks may have been shy about any wording that sealed his fate, thus Richard was the present King, though Henry ruled. Henry's reign would be dogged with questions about its legitimacy.
- Note too that when "the occupiers of the same lay in ambush and murdered the said Thomas," there was no mention that William Charleton or the sheriff of Northumberland were hurt, or even involved. I think this shows that the latter two men were in the commission for forms sake. The sheriff, for instance, would have been the local legal authority for such seizures. The two men probably had no more part in physically seizing the goods than they did in receiving the rewards.

In a last attempt to "save" Thomas Hesham as a member of the family is a snippet,

". . . HEYSHAM, Thomas HEYSHAM, Thomas HEYSHAM, . . ." - from "An Index of Persons Named in Early Chancery Proceedings, Richard II (1385) to Edward II (1467)"
I also have the following from the Northumberland Eyre court for a Roger Hesham, attorney.
"[1170] Roger de Pilkyngton and Thomas son of Roger of Mamecestre appointed Laurence Travers or Roger de Hesham against Roger son of Adam Sharlples in a plea of land." - from "The Northumberland Eyre Roll for 1293" by Constance Mary Fraser

Def: Letters patent - This is an open letter (from the Latin patere = to open) addressed "To All and Singular to whom these Presents shall Come." The opposite of Letters Patent are Letters Close, which are of a personal nature and are closed with a seal.

City of Lancaster.

It was in the 14th century that the city began its rise to prominence as the seat of the House of Lancaster, one of the protagonists in the Wars of the Roses. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, father of Henry IV, and the richest man in the country, virtually ruled England as his father, Edward III, became increasingly infirm towards the end of his life. He continued his authority during the minority of his nephew, Richard II. His statue stands above the main gate of Lancaster Castle.


Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings - House of Lancaster
1399-1413 Henry IV

He was called Henry Bolingbroke, for the place of his birth. The son of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. He rebelled against Richard II when the King attempted to seize his inheritance upon John of Gaunt's death.

The 100 Years War in France continued, but Henry was forced to spend all of his energies holding on to his throne. Richard II's supporters revolted upon his deposition in 1400. In Wales, Owen Glendower led a national uprising that lasted until 1408. The Scots waged continual warfare throughout the reign. The powerful families of Percy and Mortimer, who possessed a stronger claim to the throne than Henry himself, revolted from 1403 to 1408. Richard Scrope, Archbishop of York, proclaimed his opposition to the Lancastrian claim in 1405.



1413-1422 Henry V

Living a dissipated life as a young man, as famously depicted in Shakespeare's plays Henry IV, Parts I and II, he became one of England's greatest martial Kings upon assuming the throne. He returned to France and the 100 Years War with new vigor. The victor of the battle of Agincourt in which the longbow, as at Crecy, decimated the French knighthood. Cannon finally became effective weapons, knocking downs the walls of fortified cities. Henry conquered France and married the daughter of the deposed French King, but he died young. The French King, unfortunately, was subject to fits of madness, a trait passed down to Henry’s son, the new King Henry VI.


The City of Lancaster

As the chief city and center of power of the House of Lancaster, the city’s and the county’s population suffered greatly during the long years of war between York and Lancaster. Many young men died on the battlefields of St. Albans, Towton, and Tewkesbury, and the countryside was pillaged by the forces of York.


Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings - House of Lancaster
1422-1461, 1470-1471 Henry VI

Henry became King while still a child. During his minority his uncles ran the war in France, and lost the country to Joan d'Arc. Henry VI was subject to fits of madness, as was his grandfather, the King of France. During his reign, upset by his mismanagement, the House of York rebelled, starting the War of the Roses. Returning soldiers from the defeat in France turned to robbery to survive.

In 1453 Constantinople, the last vestige of the Roman Empire, fell to the Turks. Scholars fled to Europe where they helped fuel the start of the Renaissance.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings - House of York
1461-1470, 1471-1483 Edward IV

The grandson of King Edward III and, as Duke of York, the head of the House of York. He rebelled against Henry VI and was victorious. He confined Henry to the Tower of London. Henry was later murdered and his son and heir was killed in battle. Edward caused dissension in the royal family by marrying a woman of lower birth.


The War of the Roses

This was an inter-family civil war between the Lancaster and York branches of the royal family. They fought for the throne from 1455 to 1489. The Lancasterians had for their symbol a red rose, the Yorkists a white one.

The conflict had its origins in the usurpation of Henry Bolingbroke, the son of John of Gaunt, the Duke of Lancaster. The sons of the Duke of York felt their claim to the throne was superior, but they were forced to bide their time during the reign of Henry V. Things began to spin out of control during the ineffectual rule of Henry VI. Easily influenced and given to bouts of insanity, Henry's court was ruled by a corrupt cabal who sought to gather all power into Lancastrian hands. In 1455 Richard, the head of the York clan, led a force against London, and met Henry's army at St. Albans, a Yorkist victory. The King was seized and Richard ruled as his Protector for a time. However, by 1459, the King's advisors again in the ascendent, battle was joined once more, this time ending with a Lancastrian victory at Ludford Bridge.

In 1460 a Yorkist force invaded from France and defeated Henry at Northampton and again took the king prisoner. Back in London, Richard decided it was time to press his claim to the throne. In October 1460 Parliament accepted his claim, but, unwilling to unseat Henry, made Richard Henry's heir and the Protector once again.

The Lancastrians rallied their forces and, in December 1460, defeated and killed Richard at the battle of Wakefield. Afterwards Richard's son, Edward, would lead the Yorkist forces. Battles continued in 1461 and, at the 2nd battle of St. Albans, the king was recovered by the Lancastrians. However, York continued to maintain the support of the richest parts of England, in the southeast and London, where Edward was crowned by the people. At Towton, near the town of York, the largest battle so far was waged, ending in a triumph for York. Edward was formally crowned as Edward IV in June 1461.

The wars appeared to be over and, in 1465, the old king was captured once again and placed in the Tower of London. However battles now broke out within the Yorkist camp. In 1470 the Lancastrians, supported by disaffected members of Edward IV's court, invaded England, drove Edward from his throne and restored Henry VI. A counter-invasion in 1471 put Edward back in control after victories at Barnet and Tewkesbury, where Henry VI's son and heir was killed. Henry himself was soon after murdered in the tower.

Things were not quite over. Upon Edward IV's death his brother, Richard, murdered Edward's sons and seized the throne as Richard III. The wars ended when Henry Tudor, the last of the Lancaster claimants, defeated Richard III at the battle of Bosworth in 1489, and married Elizabeth, the last of the York royal line.

Sir Thomas Harrington, lord of Heysham manor through his marriage to Elizabeth, daughter and heir of Thomas Dacre, and their eldest son, Sir John, were Yorkists and fought at the battle of 1st St. Albans and were killed at the battle of Wakefield on 30 December 1460. Sir Thomas' head was placed on a spike in York in warning to other rebels.


(12) William Heseham of Lancaster (c1400)

The following is a snippet reference to a member of the family who was a cleric.

1455.

. . . 1455, 18 Oct. Memorandum of mandate as no. 2, etc.

130. 1455, 23 Oct. Memorandum of mandate as no. 100, etc. 1300. 1455, 1 Nov. Letters dimissory from the vicar-general for William Heseham of Lancastre, scholar.3" - from "The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal," 1931, page 115

Letters dimissory are "letters given by a bishop dismissing a person who is removing into another diocese, and recommending him for reception there." In this book Heseham is the name of the village as well, ". . . rectors of the churches of Halton, Wityngton, Tatham and Heseham . . ."

(12) William Hesam (c1400)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350)

A yeoman of the town of Lancaster. George Lissant referred to William as the progenitor of the family, meaning I suppose that he was the first to emerge from the murky years of the 13th and 14th centuries. There are references below to William as a juror in 1442, 1455, 1459 and 1460. This probably indicates that he was born between 1390 and 1410, that is, he was between 32 and 70 years old when he held this responsible position. This stretches the assumption of 30 years per generation, but not by much.

Note that just the generation before William de Hesham had been an attorney and elector for Lord Peter Mauley in Yorkshire.

The following is a list of attestors to the parliamentary election of 1442. Except for those at the head of the list, this seems to be a mixed group, not segregated by class. That is, I don't think anything can be read into the fact that William Hesham is at the bottom of the list.

"C 219.15.2

Parliament of 25 January 1442.
Knights elected: Thomas de Stanlegh [Stanley] kt., Thomas Haryngton.
Sheriff : John Byron kt.
Place of election : Lancaster.
Date : 15 January.
Attestors of the election : Thomas Ursswyk,1 Thomas Laurence, Robert Laurans, Nicholas Croft, Robert Kansefeld, James Croft, Alexander Radcliff, Robert Wasshinton, James Bradshagh, John Berwicke, William Berwicke, Henry Croft, James Oxcliff,2 Thomas Grene, Edmund Laurence,3 Thamas Travise, Roger Brokholes,4 William Brokholes,5 Thomas Blakeburne,6 William Bolron, Robert Bolron, Robert Rigmayden,7 Richard Caterall, Roger Caterall, John Banes,8 William Medilton,9 John Claghton, John Kelet,10 John Stoday, Henry Asseheton,11 Oliver Sothworth, John Sothworth, John Urswyk,12 John Sande,13 Edmund Kendale, William Walton, William Heghan, William Ambrose, Robert Suten, John Gardenere,14 John Oxcliff, Robert Gardenere, Thomas Mare, Thomas Curwayn, John Caynesfeld, Richard Gerbrum, Robert Stell, Edmund Kerkeby, Elan Clarem, Thomas Grene, Richard Hoghton, Hugh Chaffare, William Hesham.
Manucaptors: Gilbert Claghton, Nicholas Lunt, John Tunstall,15 William Rotne (?).

1 Receiver for the county palatine under the duchy of Lancaster.
2 Attested the indentures of 1447, January 1449 ; of Oxcliffe, Lancaster.
3 Attested the indentures of 1450, 1455, 1459 ; held a moiety of the manor of Ribbleton, Preston.
4 Attested the indenture of January 1449 ; died holding lands and messuages in Garstang as of the duchy of Lancaster and in Byrewath, also in Tatham, Claughton, Bilsborrow, and Caterall; resident at the manor of Heaton, near Lancaster.
5 Attested the indentures of November 1449, 1459; of Claughton, Garstang.
6 Probably of Capernwray, Bolton-le-Sands, just north of Lancaster.
7 Attested the indenture of 1455 ; probably of . . .
. . .
14 Attested the indenture of 1459 ; probably the same who was clerk of the peace for the county palatine in July 1439 (Lanes. Official List) and who was a benefactor of Lancaster Grammar School.
15 Manucaptor in 1447, January 1449, 1450 ; attested the indenture of 1447 as well as standing as mainpernor; of Thurland, Tunstall in Lonsdale."

- from "The Knights of the Shire for the County Palatine of Lancaster (1377-1460)" by John Smith Roskell
- Sir Thomas Stanley, Lord of Lathom. Lieutenant Justice of Chester c1441. In 1456 he was summoned to the House of Peers as Baron Stanley, being made Lord Chamberlain of the King's Household.
- Sir Thomas Haryngton, Sheriff of Yorkshire 1455-1456. He was the son of Sir William Haryngton and his wife Margaret, the daughter of Sir Robert Neville of Hornby, by Margaret, daughter of William de la Pole, the founder of the fortunes of that family. He married Elizabeth Dacre of Halton. Thomas died in 1460 of wounds received at the battle of Wakefield.
- Sir John Byron of Clayton, Sheriff of Lancaster 1437 to 1449.

Election Officials

Attestors - In 1406 a statute was passed requiring that the returns of shire elections be attested by all the electors, though in practice only the more important men who were present did so. They certified the return and attested to the sheriff's correct administration of the election. They came from many walks of life: the elite gentry, knights and esquires or armigers; the parish gentry, lawyers, clerics and other gentlemen; and the freeholders or commoners, both yeoman and craftsman. However, the franchise was limited to forty shilling freeholders to exclude "lesser men."

Manucaptor - In English common law, a person empowered to take bail and capture a person who forfeits it.

Mainpernor - A surety, under the old writ of mainprise, for a prisoner's appearance in court at a day.

The inquisition post mortem on William de Bolleran [Bolron], dated 9 August 1460, named "William Hesam de Lancaster, Yeoman." - per George Lissant. The juries of such inquisitiions were composed of freemen who were consequential members of their community - not necessarily wealthy men, but above the common laborers who made up the majority of society. I will assume that William, as the most consequential member of his family, was an old man at the time of the inquisition, roughly the same age of de Bolleran, say 60 years old.

Note that in 1460 the civil war known as the War of the Roses still raged. The King, Henry VI, was taken prisoner by Richard, the Duke of York, and Richard made Protector of England. All men, supporters of York and Lancaster alike, would be uncertain what the future held.

I have finally found the inquistion of 1460 and William was indeed a juror. Note the number of witnesses that were repeated from list of attestors, above.

"Willimus de Bolleron, Armiger
39 Henry VI. (9th August 1460)

Inquisitio capta apud Lancr die Sabbati in vigilia Sti. Laurentii anno Henrici sexti tricesimo octavo coram Willi'mo Tunstall Excaetore p. sacramentum Henrici Halsall Armigeri Johannis Botiller de Rawcliffe Armgeri Nicholai Rigmaden Armigeri Jacobi Standissche de Dokesburye Armigeri Johannis Holcroft Armigeri Roberti Wessington Armigeri Oliveri Anderton Armigeri Ricardi Catterall de Catterall Jun Armigeri Henrici Croft de Claghton Armigeri Johannis Haryngton de Hyton Armigeri Utredi Dokesbury Armigeri Thome Curwen Willimi Brokholes Willimi Plesyngton Roberti Preston Thome Blakeburne Hugonis Chaffer gent et Willimi Hesham de Lancr yeoman qui dicunt quod Willimus de Bolleron Armiger fuit seisitus de uno messuagio et 60 acr. terre in Bolleron et 59 acr. demid. terre et 13 acr. et 1 rod prati in villa de Lancr et de uno burgagio et tribus grangiis cum garinis in villa predict in quodam loco vocat Penystreete . . .
" - from "Abstracts of Inquistions Post Mortem," page 68-70, by Christopher Towneley, Roger Dodsworth and William Langon
The term armiger dates to the Anglo-Saxon period and denoted an arms- or armour-bearer, like an esquire, attendant upon a knight. In this period it may have been a ceremonial title, but also referred to the right to use a coat of arms. As such it was a distinction, like the appelation "gentleman." A sacramentum was, anciently, a Roman military oath. Here I think it meant "on the oath of the following testitors."
- William de Bolleron [Bolron] was the son of Thomas, who must have descended from Robert de Bolleron, above. As previously mentioned, this was an important family in the town of Lancaster, owning considerable land in the neighborhood and holding positions in the municipal government. William came into his estate on 19 August 1450 and died 20 June 1460. His nephew, Thomas, aged 6, was next of kin and heir.
- William Tunstall, esquire, was the son of Sir Richard Tunstall of Thurland castle. William became the king's escheator for Lancashire in 1459. At this time the family were followers of the House of Lancaster, but were later favored by the Yorkists and Henry VII.
- Henry Halsall Armigeri, the son of Robert, was Lord of Halsall from 1429 to his death in July 1471.
- John le Botiller de Rawcliffe Armigeri, knight, the son of Nicholas, was a member of a cadet branch of the great Botiller family. He held lands in Catterall, Claughton, and Rawcliffe.
- Nicholai Rigmaden [Rigmayden/Rygmayden] Armigeri died seized of the manor of Wedacre in 1478. The manor, held of the Duchy of Lancaster, "was said to be worth 40£ a year clear." - from the "History of Garstang"
- Jacobi Standissche de Dokesburye Armigeri. The family held Duxbury, in Standish parish.
- Johannis Holcroft Armigeri of Holfcroft, esquire.
- Roberti Wessington [Wassington] Armigeri held Tewitfield in Warton. An ancestor of George Washington, he died in 1484.
- Oliveri Anderton Armigeri was an arbitrator of land disputes in Chorley c1441 (his father, Thurstan, fought at Agincourt]. He was murdered by his sons, assisted by William Plesyngton, below!
- Ricardi Catterall de Catterall Jun. [junior] Armigeri held the manor of Catterall as a vassal of Nicholai Rigmaden.
- Henrici Croft de Claghton Armigeri, son of John, held the manor of Claughton. He died in 1484.
- Johannis Haryngton de Hyton [Huyton] Armigeri, the son of Nicholas who had married the heiress of Thomas Lathom, lord of Huyton.
- Utredi Dokesbury Armigeri, also known as Alfred Duxbury.
- Thome Curwen was probably part of the family that married into the Gernet's of Caton, vice those of Workington who would have been styled Armigeri. They owned the Gresgarth estate. In 1452 Thomas Curwen, yeoman, was described as "late mayor of the vill of Lancaster."
- Willimi Brokholes. The family held the estate of Brockholes, near Garstang, as well as lands in Claughton. He and William Bolron were defendents in a suit of redisseisen by the abbot of Cockersand.
- Willimi Plesyngton [Plesington] of the Dimples estate, in Garstang. See his role in the murder of Oliver Anderton, above.
- Robert Preston
- Thomas Blakeburne. A Thomas Blackburn had dealings with Nicholas and John Heysham in the 16th century, see below.
- Hugh Chaffer, gent, the son of Thomas, was a land-owner in Bolton, Scotforth and Gressingham.
- William Hesham of Lancaster, yeoman

Interesting company for our William. I suspect this means that William was a prosperous man, though a commoner, who held a number of properties, probably of or with or nearby those of William Bolleron. See the suit against William Bolron & William Brockholes, below, for something similar.

The Yeoman

In England, the term yeoman signified a free man who had land of the value of forty shillings a year. He was a free-man, not a serf. This description implied a man of some social standing, though not quite a gentleman. A yeoman would have owned and cultivated a small estate, most probably on a freehold basis. It was out of the wealthy yeoman class, sometimes referred to as “statesmen,” that the merchant class developed. I think stateman, in this context, originally meant estate-man, a man with an estate (land).

In English law there were four types of descriptions, or additions, to a person's name in legal proceedgins; Additions of estate, such as yeoman, gentleman, esquire; Additions of degree, such as knight, earl, duke; Additions of trade or occupation, such as scrivener, mason, carpenter; and Additions of place, such as Lancaster, London.

The Bolron's had anciently been of Skerton, a village on the north bank of the Lune river, across from Lancaster. Their name derived from the manor of Bolron which they held by the petty serjeanty of obtaining a mason to work at the castle when required. Robert de Bolron was mayor of Lancaster a number of times between 1338 and 1349. He was mentioned in a number of legal documents along side John de Hesham. A William de Bolron, circa 1320-1346, held one messuage and sixty acres in Bolron by serjeanty. Our William Bolron was living circa 1450:

28 Henry VI [18 August 1450]. "Writ of redisseisin for Robert, abbot of Cockersand, against William Bolron, Nicholas Bolron, Richard Brame, chaplain, and William Brockholes of the moiety of an acre of land lying on either side of Bowerham Brook which runs to Scotforth Moor [south of Lancaster], a rood of land in Bowerham Dale between land of the said William Bolron on both sides, another rood there lying by itself, the moiety of an acre with a toft and the appurtenances in Bowerham Dale, three roods lying below the Wythyns in Old Lancaster . . . [and on and on]" - from "Remains, Historical . . . (1905)"
Thomas Bolron, William's nephew and heir, made a feoffment of six messuages in Lancaster, Aldcliffe and Scotforth in 1496.

I have a number of quick snippets from a text of the Lancashire Fines that describe William and his associates. The following looks very like the the election of 1442, above.

Page 220

... William de Haryngton of Hornby kt., Nicholas Botiller esq., Thomas de Urswyk esq., Robert Laurence esq., John de Broghton esq.,1 John de Berwyk esq., John de Morley esq., Alexander de Radclif esq., James de Pikeryng esq., Thomas Laurence esq., William Redmayn esq., Richar de Caterall, John de Brokholes, Nicholas de Croft, Robert de Bolron,2 Robert de Cauncefeld, 3, William de Hudleston,4 John de Cauncefeld,5 Nicholas de Rigmayden, William de Oxclif, Milo de Rull (?), John Bonyfaunt, John de Bradley,6, Robert de Wasshyngton, William de Eswyk, John de Claghton junior, Edmund de Redmayn,7 Richard de Hoghton, John de Claghton senior, Laurence del Knoll,8 Edmund de Horneby,9 Henry de Croft, William de Sciraton,10 Hugh Chaffere, Thomas de Bolton, John de Kellet, Thomas de Curwen, John de Sotheworth, Robert de Brokholes, William Ambrose, John de Oxclif,11 Giles Ffrere, John Ffrere, Oliver de Sotheworth, William de Hesam,13 John de Stodagh,14 John Lambart,15, Richard de Clapham, Richard Banastre, Christopher de Berdesay,16, John de Curwen17, Laurence Huchunson, John del Myre, John Trantre, William de Bolron, Thomas del Burgh of Bolton, Thomas del Grene of Gressingham, Alan de Syngleton,18 Edmund de Kendale.19
Manucaptors: William de Claghton, Edmund Caudray

1 Of Broughton in Furness. His son and successor. Sir Thomas, was a staunch Yorkist. In November 1431 John B. was a juror of assessment of land and rental tax for Lonsdale hundred ; sworn to the peace in 1434.
2 Attested the indenture of 1442; of Bolron, Lancaster; 1423 was enjoying an annuity of £10 which he had held at the receipt of the county since 1413. May 1436 appointed a collector of a tenth and fifteenth ; March 1444 an annuity of £20 from the duchy was henceforth to be divided between himself and Henry Garstang, a clerk of the palatine Chancery.
3 Attested the indentures of 1442, November 1449; the Cantsfeld family held lands in Tatham, Cantsfeld and Oxcliffe.
4 Attested the indenture of 1459 ; of Whittington ; in 1423 in receipt of an annuity of 10 marks at the hands of the receiver of the county palantine.
5 Attested the indentures of 1442, 1447, 1455, 1459.
6 Of Chipping; February 1438, collector of a tenth and fifteenth.
7 Attested the indentures of January and November 1449 ; held the manor of Ireby (Lonsdale) ; in 1445 acquitted of the charge of mortally wounding Richard Tunstall.
8 Of Chipping.
9 Attested the indenture of November 1449 ; probably of Claughton (Lonsdale).
10 Probably of Skerton.
11 Attested the indentures of 1442, 1447, 1455, 1459 (?) ; probably of Oxcliffe, Lancaster.
12 Probably of Lancaster.
13 Attested the indentures of 1442, 1455, 1459 ; when serving as juror at the inquest post mortem on William Bolron in 1460 described as "of Lancaster, yeoman."
14 Attested the indenture of 1442; 1436 appointed clerk of recognisances of debt at Lancaster (authority first granted in 1432) ; died in or before 1445. 15 Father-in-law of John Stodagh; of Lancaster.
16 Attested the indenture of November 1449; November 1431 a juror of assessment of land and rental tax in Lonsdale hundred; May 1436 and March 1442 a collector of a tenth and fifteenth; of Bardsea, Urswick, in Furness.
17 Of Caton.
18 Attested the indenture of January 1449 ; December 1431 juror of tax . . ."
William Hesam was, then, a juror in 1442, 1455, 1459 and 1460, and so born in about 1400, plus or minus 10 years. The next I cannot read at all, but I have, recently, been able to fill in some details from another source dealing with the same document.
Page 225. "[Parliament of 20 November 1459. Knights elected: Richard Haryngton kt., Henry Halsall. Sheriff: Nicholas Byron. Place of election: Lancaster. Date: 12 November. Attestors of the indenture: John Haryngton,1 William Haryngton,2 Thomas Laurence, Hugh Adlyngton,] Gilbert Curwen,* Henry Croft senior, Henry Croft junior,4 William .... William Hudleston, Edmund Laurence, Robert [Wasshyngton, Peter Croft,5 Hugh Chafffare, Thomas Chaffare,6 John Claghton, William Ambros, John Gardiner, Edmund Rigmayden,7 Willaim Brokholes, Thomas .... John Oxcliff,] Robert Le, John Kellet, William Hesam, Thomas [Brokholes, John Hosgill, Robert Layburne,10, . . .
4 . . . 1446-47 stood surety for Sir Thomas Stanley in lease of the turbary in Toxteth park.
5 Of Ribbleton, Preston.
6 Succeeded his father Ellis in the manor of Pleasington about 1460.
7 Attested the indenture of 1459 ; of Bank, . . .
. . .
11 Of Little Walton, Walton-le-Dale.
15 Probably of Leigh.
16 Of Bedford Hall near Leigh, " gentleman." - from "Remains, Historical . . . (1947)"

Another item which may not fit here, but I must include is,

"William Lawrence.
Not dated. [fo. 39.]
To be buried in St. Paul's, Wooborne, before the great cross.
My brother, executor.
Debt to John Bugg.
Bequests to Ric. de ly Pantrye, Thomas de ly Chambr, John de ly Warderob, Roger West, Ric. Hawdon, Wm. Hysam, &c.
Proved at Woborne Episcopi, in aula ibidem, 18 Oct. 1442." - brom "Early Lincoln Wills"
Clearly a number of those bequests were to his servants. Woborne [Wobourne, Woburn] was in Buckinghamshire.

(12) William Haysham (c1400)

A stray, William was recorded as one of the seven minstrels of Edward IV, though some documents read his surname as Maysham.

"Even before the war [of the Roses] began, the King's Minstrels had petitioned the King, complaining of the abusive and unauthorized use of the king's livery, to which the official response (of an uncertain date between 1446 and 1452) was as follows:
Whereas many rude husbandmen and artificers of England feigning to be minstrels and some of them wearing the King's livery and so pretending to be the King's Minstrels collect in certain parts of the realm great exactions of money of the king's lieges by virtue of their livery and art and though they be unskilled therein and use divers arts on working days and receive sufficient money thence, they fare from place to place on festivals and take the profits from the King's Minstrels and others skilled in the art of music whereby they using no other labours or mysteries should live.

The King has appointed William Langton (Marshal), Walter Haliday, William Haysham, Thomas Radcliff, Robert Marshall, William Wykes, and John Clyff King's minstrels to enquire throughout the realm except the County of Chester touching all such and so punish them holding the said inquisition themselves or by deputies."
- from the Patent Rolls of Henry VI & "Apollo's Swan and Lyre: Five Hundred Years of the Musicians' Company" by Richard Crewdson.
Edward IV incorporated the king's minstrels as a guild in 1469. That document included a reference to "our beloved minstrels," Walter Haliday, Marshal, John Cliff, Robert Marshall, etc. Haliday had been minstrel to Henry V and Henry VI as well. The guild so created had a Marshall, two wardens, and a Sergeant as officers. It was, however, too late to resuscitate the craft. There were too many who claimed the title of minstrel and who were received in the halls of the rish on an equality with licensed minstrels.

The Minstrel

A minstrel, the word literally means "little servant," was a medieval storyteller who performed songs about distant places or historical or mythological events. Though minstrels sometimes created their own tales, they more often memorized and retold the stories of others, in the tradition of the Iliad of Homer. The best were retained by the royalty and aristocracy.


Heysham's Who Took Holy Orders

The following were several priests who may have been relatives, but who had no progeny.

(13) William Hesham (c1420)

"William Hesham (vicar 1454 - 1476) was before the court for omitting to say Mass between February 4th and the first Sunday in Lent, 1461. He was ordered to occupy, during the offices and in all processions, the place of a deacon, and to stand during the singing of Matins, Mass and Vespers, robed only in surplice, and without cope or other mark of the office of a vicar." - from "Life in a Medieval College: The Story of the Vicars-Choral of York" by Frederick Harrison.

"1490 William Hesham (Hessham), Wetheryngset, All Sts., clerk 96 Wolman." - from "Wills Proved in the Consistory Court of Norwich, county of Norfolk." Probably a priest-clerk and therefore unmarried.

(13) Clementia Hesham (c1425)

A nun, she died circa 1500.

[Footnote (75). "Such names as: Alice Pulton,lay sister, pensioned 1539 (Aungier, p. 89); Elizabeth Strickland, sister, pensioned, 1539 (ibid.); Grace Wyresdale, sister, died 1485 (Martiloge f. 41v.); and Clementia Hesham, sister, died 11 September no year (Mari. 55r)."" cf. R. Somerville, The Duchy and Palatinate of Lancaster," - from "Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire"

(13) Nicholas Hesham (c1435)

In 1468 Nicholas Hysham was the Rector of Fishley, in the county of Norfolk. 26 January 8 Henry VII [1493]. "Grant from Nicholas Heysham, "clericus," Robert Horsman, of Wedryngsete [Wetheringsett, co. Suff.], and Thomas Poole, of Nacton [co. Suff.], to Katherine Andrewd, of Wederyngsete, of land in Wederyngsete." - from "Catalogue of the Stowe Manuscripts in the British Museum"

Wills Proved in the Consistory Court of Norwich, county of Norfolk: 1496 Nicholas Hesham, Ippswych, priest 122 Typpes. A priest and therefore unmarried.

Consistory Court - A bishop's court for ecclesiastical causes and offences, formerly having wider jurisdiction in matters of moral discipline.

In 1467 there were serious riots in Lancashire. I need to look into what these were about.

Thomas Heysham (c1500)

A Thomas Heysham cleric of Conishead priory in Ulverston, Cumbria. When Henry VIII founded his new church he did so in part as a way at getting at the wealth of the clergy. He sent agents to look for, and find, irregularities in the operation of churches, monasteries and convents that would allow him to dissolve them and sell their lands to his friends.

"The great visitation of monasteries was commenced in the autumn of 1535, when Cromwell, chancellor of the exchequer, and first secretary of the king, filled the office of viceregent and vicar-general. The visitation of Lancashire monasteries was made by Dr. Thomas Legh and Dr. Richard Layton . . . The questions proposed by the royal commissioners on the Lancashire visitation were reduced to the following heads:--
1. As to the incontinence of the heads of each monastery:
2. The name of the founder:
3. The estate of the convents:
4. The superstitions practiced in them:
5. The debts they had incurred:
And, 6. The names of the votaries who wished to be discharged from their vows.

On which the following report was made by the commissioners:--
. . .
Conished.

Incontinentia.
Christopherus Peerson, cum sex foeminis.
Georgius Cornefurth, cum decem foeminis.
Thomas Backhouse, cum soluts.
Goergius Hardy, cum duabus solutis.
Thomas Heysham, cum una conjugata, et altera soluta
[with one in wedlock, and the second one loosening]"
- from the "History of the county palatine ... of Lancaster. The biographical department ..." by Edward Baines, William Robert Whatton

It was a scandal of the church that many clergy married. When Henry VIII dissolved the monastries Conishead Priory was included. Thomas and the other brothers of Conishead would have been put out, to find a new life outside the church. The lands were then leased to Thomas Stanley, 2nd Baron Monteagle, of Heysham manor. The present building was built in the 19th century.

Thomas Hessham (c1525)

A Thomas Hessham was admitted to King’s College, Cambridge c1545. He was later the Vicar of Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire in 1554. I don’t know how Thomas was related to the family, but as a Vicar in this early period I assume he had no heirs.

King’s College, Cambridge

The young Henry VI laid the first stone of the King's College of Our Lady and St. Nicholas in Cambridge on Passion Sunday, 1441. Scholarships were restricted to Etonians, but a few pensioners and Fellow commoners from other schools were admitted from the middle of the sixteenth century.


(12) John Heysham (c1400)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350)

Of Slyne-with-Hest. I previously referred to the citation below when discussing (9) John de Heysham Jr. (c1300), being confused about whether it referred to the year 1346 or 1441. I now see that it was for the latter.

"The extent made in 1346 shows that each of the 16 oxgangs rendered 13s. 4d. a year, half of which was in lieu of certain services due from the tenants- ploughing for winter and spring corn, harrowing and reaping the lord's demesne in Skerton. The tenants had also certain duties to perform for the castle at Lancaster, such as carrying timber for its repair, and services like those the tenants of Overton had to render. A tenant was obliged to act as reeve, when chosen, receiving nothing for his trouble. Each of them also owed suit to Lune Mill to the thirteenth measure. John son of John de Barton held the 40 acres formerly belonging to Thomas Travers, paying 8s. as before. (fn. 19) For the year ending Michaelmas 1441 the net receipts from Slyne were a little over £20, including 8s. from John Barton for his messuage and 40 acres. The tenants in bondage paid £10 14s. 4d. The moiety of the mill of Bolton was farmed to John Austin in succession to William Bolton for 23s. 4d. Perquisites of courts amounted to 1s. 6d., and 5s. (out of 10s.) had been received from John Heysham for entry to a tenement formerly belonging to Thomas Wales. (fn. 20)" - from: "Townships: Slyne-with-Hest, A History of the County of Lancaster" from British History Online
[Footnote] "20. Duchy of Lanc. Mins. Accts. bdle. 100, no. 1790."

Slyne-with-Hest

Slyne and Hest were villages in the fee of Halton and were, later, included in the demesne of the Honour of Lancaster. Hest is on the shore of Morecombe bay, Slyne is on higher land, to the east. This is 3 miles north of Lancaster, between Skerton and Bolton-le-Sands.

Perquisites of Courts

These were fines collected by the court.


(12) Nicholas Heysham (c1390-1420)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350)

The father of John Heysham. Possibly a brother of (12) William Hesam (c1400) and (12) John Heysham (c1400). Remember that (9) Nicholas de Hesham (c1290) was the son of Thomas de Heysham. That is, Nicholas was a family name.

(13) John Heysham (c1420-1450)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350) (12) Nicholas Heysham (c1390-1420)

The son of Nicholas Heysham.

"John son of Nicholas Heysham in 1477 claimed 36 acres in Over Kellet against Thomas Blackburn. " - from Coram Rege R. 17 Edward IV in British History Online

"The claimant [John Heysham] was successful in 1488." - from Pal. of Lanc. Writs Prothon. Aug. 1 Henry VII, 27 day in British History Online
John could have been born as late as 1450, assuming he was at least 27 when he brought the action against Thomas Blackburn, and as early as 1420, assuming he was no more than 68 when he won the case. That is, he could not be born late enough to allow his father, Nicholas, to be a son of (12) William Hesam, not without a very tight fit.
- Note that a Thome Blakeburne had been a juror with William Hesam in the inquisition of William de Bolleron in 1460, above.

Over Kellet

Over Kellet is due north of Halton, just beyond Nether Kellet.

The manor of Over Kellet, in Lancashire, had been divided into moieties as early as 1212. One moiety was owned by the de Kellet family, who later took the name of Coupernwray [de Coupmanwra], the hamlet at the northern end of the township. At the end of the 13th century these lands passed to Randle de Dacre and Joan Luci, his wife. By mid-15th century the moiety had passed to the Harrington's of Hornby manor, who also owned Heysham manor, and, in 1489, Over Kellet and Heysham passed to Sir Edward Stanley, afterwards Lord Mounteagle.

The another moiety was owned by another branch of the de Kellet family; Vivian Gernet's wife, Godith, was a de Kellet, and inherited her portion when her brother, William de Kellet, died in 1242. This portion was in the hands of the Croft family as late as 1489.

A third portion was known as the Claughton share for its first known owner, William de Claughton, in 1277. He probably inheritied from a sister of Gilbert de Kellet. However, by the end of the 14th century the Blackburns of Capernwray were in possession.


At this time (13) Thomas Hessam (c1440) was living in Pulford, in Cheshire.

(13/13.5) Nicholas Hesham (c1450-1480)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350) (12) William Hesam (c1400) or,
(12) Nicholas Heysham (c1390-1420) (13) John Heysham (c1420-1450)

George Lissant felt that "Nicholas was probably the son of aforesaid William," but I begin to think he must have been his grandson. Both (12) William Hesam, circa 1460, and (13) John Heysham, circa 1477-1488, had dealings with a Thomas Blackburn (perhaps a father and son of the same name), as did Nicholas, in 1507. This wide span of time seems to argue for three generations and the reference for our Nicholas is just late enough to allow him to be the son, or nephew, of (13) John Heysham. It would also make sense to see Nicholas as named for his grandfather.

From a list of fines paid for various writs is an action between Nicholas Hesham and Thomas Blackburn, probably a sale of property:

23 Henry VII, 1507-08.

"Thomas Hesketh, esq., de ingressu in le post against John Hentworth (sic), and the same against Gilbert Cunclif; Thomas Botiller, kt., the same against Thomas Midelton and Joan, his wife; Miles Gerard, esq., the same against Robert Worsely and Ellen his wife; Nicholas Hesham, novel disseisin against Thomas Blackburn; . . . " - from the Lancaster Fines in "Final Concords of the County of Lancaster" by William Farrer.
Nicholas was born as early as 1450 or as late as 1480, assuming he was 27 to 57 years old at the time of this legal action. I assume this was a land sale, and perhaps of the land John Heysham won from Thomas in 1488.
- Thomas Hesketh, esq, of Great Harwood/Rufford, Lancashire, was the son of Robert Hesketh and Alice, the daughter of Sir Robert Boothe of Dunham Massey. Thomas Hesketh appears to have added very largely to the hereditary possessions of his family, and died at Rufford on 14 August 1523 - from British History Online. He appears to be adding to his estates through the legal actions above.
- Sir Thomas Botiller [Boteler] was the Lord of Warrington. Of Bewsey, Lancashire; he was Seneschal of Liverpool. He fought at the Battle of Flodden in 1513. He died on 27 April 1522.
- Thomas Blackburn. Note that a Thome Blakeburne had been a juror with William Hesam in the inquisition of William de Bolleron in 1460, above, and John Heysham had dealings with Thomas in 1477 and 1488, also above.

The Blackburn Family

The earliest mention of the name in the district was in 1392 when Robert de Blackburn, a justice of the Duke of Lancaster, was ambushed and slain.

Thomas Blackburn of Capernwray was involved in disputes with Nicholas and John Heysham in 1477, 1488, and 1507. He was surety in 1490, and died in 1517. His heir was his brother, John.

Def: Lancaster Fines - Also known as Final Concords or Feet of Fines.

Def: Novel Disseisin - A disseisin is committed when one is driven out of his tenement, of whatever kind, violently, wrongfully and without judgment. Possession lost by wrongful force may be restored by the assize of novel disseisin. An assize is a writ issued by a court of assize to the Sheriff for the recovery of property. This writ had been invented during the reign of Henry II to weaken his Barons. Thus, if a Baron "unseized" his tenent of land for which the tenant had done homage, usually an issue of inheritance of an estate, the tenant could appeal to the King through the King's court of assize. Also a legal fiction for a sale.

The next generation of Heyshams in the northwest of England were,
(14) John Hesham (c1520) of Lancaster
(14) William Heysham (c1520-1540) of Lancaster
(14) Heysham père (c1500) of Highfield
(14) Thomas Heysham (c1500) of Staffordshire, which is just south of Cheshire.
(14) John Hessam (c1500) of Staffordshire, Thomas' brother
(14) Roger Heysham (c1500) of Staffordshire, Thomas' brother
(14) Henry Heysham (c1500) of Staffordshire, Thomas' brother

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings - House of York
1483 Edward V

The Two Princes, young Edward and his brother, were killed in the Tower of London, supposedly by their uncle, Richard, who later became King.









1483-1485 Richard III

Called Crookback. While Shakespeare famously made him out to be a villain and a hunchback, modern opinion is that he was a man of his time and no more ruthless than his brothers, or the Lancaster family. He was probably also not a hunchback. However, his base of power was in the north of England and when the Lancaster family, in the person of Henry Tudor, Duke of Richmond, landed in Wales with an army, he was unable to raise a sufficiently loyal force to resist him.


Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings - House of Tudor
1485-1509 Henry VII

Henry Tudor, last heir of the House of Lancaster, defeated and killed Richard at the battle of Bosworth. He married Elizabeth of York, reuniting the two families. Known to be tight with money, after sixty years of bitter civil war he left his son a peaceful kingdom and a full treasury.

1492 America discovered by Christopher Columbus.

1496 John Cabot maps the coast of North America under commission to Henry VII.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1509-1547 Henry VIII

Henry made England a great nation that could deal on an even level with France and the Empire. However, he broke with the Catholic Church over his divorce from his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, the aunt of the Empereor. He then established the Church of England with himself as its head.

Importantly, the north and west of England, being much more conservative than the cosmopolitan southeast, remained strongly Catholic in attitude and practice.

Henry eventually married, and made Queens of, six women. Catherine of Aragon (the mother of Queen Mary), Ann Boleyn (the mother of Queen Elizabeth), Jane Seymour (the mother of King Edward VI), Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Paar. The following rhyme tracks their individual fates: Divorced, Beheaded, Died. Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

In 1500 "Henry VII warned the townsmen of Lancaster against adopting the liveries of noblemen or gentlemen of the district, a practice which led to many disorders." - from British History Online." Amongst others, this could have been an admonition against the Heysham family. In the 18th century we know the family claimed the arms of Benedict Gernet (see William Heysham of Greenwich and the sundial of Lt. James Heysham). This claim undoubtedly had its origin in family lore of the 16th and 17th centuries.

(14) John Hesham (c1520)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350) (12) William Hesam (c1400) (13) Nicholas Hesham (c1450)

The only reference I have to John is from a list put together by a descendent of Emmeline, one of the Heysham's of India. She married into the Collin's family. John is not mentioned in George Lissant's genealogy and I have no solid reference of his existence.

John died before 1592/3, but I don't know what that's based on. If true then he was more likely the brother of William Heysham, below, than his father, as the Collin's descent shows.

The will of (14) Thomas Heysham (c1500) of Staffordshire, proved in 1565, does mention a brother, John Hessam, who was made executor. However, that doesn't prove much.

Another stray reference for a John Hoseham [Heseham?],

"Parliament held before Sir John Charles, for John Count of Bedford, 26th March, 6th Edward VI. (1553): William Burgin, Christofer Warrin, Thomas Hamlin, Richarde Tayler, John Forforde, John Stydson, John Hoseham, John Widecombe . . . " - from Reports and Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science.

I have "1610 Haysham, John, yeoman . . ." - from "The Index of Wills Proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury." The latter, however, may be for the Dorset/Somerset area where the Haysham name is common.

"Cattle-Stealing in Somerset and Dorset in 1537.
. . . That John and Harry Harris, with others to the number of 8 persons, took the said John Haysham in Christmas time and bound him, with a bowstring tied about his head, led him to Richard Applin's house, and made him call the said Richard Appllin out of bed to make good cheer, and, as soon as he opened the door, entered and robbed the house. And the said Richard and John be in such fear of their adherents that they dare not complain." - from "Notes & Queries of Somerset and Dorset"

I also have an odd reference from a novel of 1927.

"The title of Hambourne is an ancient one. The first Lord Hambourne, son of a rich King's Lynn merchant under Edward IV., married into the Cavells. His son died without issue.

The title was revived by Henry VIII towards the end of his reign, for the ennobling of John Heysham, who had carried out a great part of the confiscations in the north, and kept a sufficient proportion for himself. He had no heir, but his only daughter married a younger son of the Park-[ington's?] . . . " - from "The Haunted House" by Hilaire Belloc

This was a novel, though the author appears to have also been an historian. Belloc was born in France in 1870, but moved to England where he was a contemporary of Chesterton, and critic of H.G. Wells. He died in 1953. I would love to be able to say this excerpt was based upon true events, and that the family's rise around this time was based on John's service to the king. However . . .

(14) William Hesham/Heysham (c1520-1540)
(1) Ralph de Gernet (c1050) (2) Vivian Gernet of Halton (c1080) (3) Brian Gernet de Hesham (c1110) (4) Adam Gernet de Hesham (c1140) (5) Thomas Gernet de Hesham (c1180) (6) Robert de Hesham (c1200) (7) Adam de Hesham (c1230) (8) John de Hesham (c1270) (9) John de Hesham Jr. (c1300) (10) David de Hesham (c1320) (11) Thomas de Hesham (c1350) (12) William Hesam (c1400) (13) Nicholas Hesham (c1450)

We're probably missing at least one generation here. This man lived in Lancaster at, I believe, the same time as another William Heysham lived at Highfield, a farm between Halton and Aughton. I can't be certain of that, but I'll try to make my case.

I only have two documents which I'm certain are for William Heysham of Lancaster and which refer to lands in and directly adjacent to Lancaster. They are dated 1562 and 1590, so William must been born between 1520 and 1540.

The first set of references deals with land in Caton, a hamlet east of Lancaster on the south bank of the Lune river. It is actually closer to the Highfield of Halton than it is to Lancaster and could as well be for William Heysham of Highfield, a cousin.

2-3 Philip & Mary. "m. 104. [31 August, 1555].
Between William Hesham, plaintiff, and Robert Barre and Joan his wife deforciants of 3a. of land in Caton. Robert and Joan remitted all right to William and his heirs, for which William gave her £10. m. 107." - from "Final Concords of the County of Lancashire: 7 Richard I. to 35 Edward I. A.D.1196 to A.D. 1307"
I would assume that William must be in his 30's to be buying land. I haven't yet been able to find anything on Robert Barre [Barrie, Barry]. William subsequently became involved in a long-running dispute over tithes and the Tithe barn in Caton.
- In 1568-1569, John Gibson, plaintiff recites a decree in a former suit, wherin William Heysham was plaintiff, having reference to a moiety [percentage] of expenses of a suit concerning the Tithe Barn and Tithes of Caton, Lancashire. - from The Calendar to Pleadings, temp Queen Elizabeth
There was a tithe barn in Bulk, just east of Lancaster, on the road to Caton.

The Tithe Barn

A barn associated with the village church, built to hold the tenth of the farmers' produce which was given to the church. At right is a 15th century tithe barn in Yorkshire.

These disputes ran on in the courts for several years.

- In 1569-1570, William Hyesome, claiming from Allan Billingham and Richard Foster, sues John Gibson and John Towneson, claiming from Thos. Warrcoppe; regarding the Tythe Barn and Tythe Corn in Caton, Lancashire.
I'm not sure what this dispute meant. What does 'claiming from' mean?
- Allan Billingham.
- Richard Foster may be a man from Ireby, or this could be Richard Forster, the writ server, below.
- The Townson and Gibson families were thickly settled in Littledale, Ulverstone and Caton.
- Thomas Warcoppe was the son of John Warcoppe of Smerdale, Westmorland. Thomas' brother-in-law was Nicholas Leyborne, uncle to [Christopher?] Carus. A John Leyborne had married Christoperh's daughter, Catherine.
". . . Paid by Christopher Carus esquire to John' Warcoppe for the rent of half the vicarage of Caton by the hands of Christopher . . . " - from "Remains, Historical and Literary . . ."
In 1583, 13 years after the dispute above, Christopher Carus and William Heysham of Highfield did a land deal in Halton. Thomas Warcoppe's daughter, Anne, married Thomas Bowes of Streatlam castle, an ancestor of the queen mother.
- In 1572-1573, Elizabeth Gibson, et e contra William Heysham plaintiff 'sues' John Townson for the same.
I suspect Elizabeth was the widow of John Gibson, above.

I assume that the man recorded in the next reference must be between the ages of 20 and 50, that is born between 1510 and 1540, and more likely between the ages of 30 and 40.

"On January 19th [1562] a Lancaster man and his colleague were attacked in Newby by a crowd from Newby and Keasden. The two men, Richard Forster and William Heysham, were set upon by a crowd of women and children as they tried to serve Court writs. They were assaulted and their writs were trodden into the mud. The two men escaped injury but further riotous behaviour occurred the next day when Thomas Procter, a local bailiff, led sixty men to the Skew area where they broke down hedges and ditches, took wood and drove off cattle, claiming that Forster had trespassed on Procter's land . . . Richard Forsters was clerk of the courts in Furness and well connected with the Duchy of Lancaster. He used his position and influence to enclose land at Skew . . . [Forster] was granted a writ of subpoena to compel the Newby bailiff and seven other men to appear in court." - from a June 2006 newsletter of the Clapham-Newby Parish Council.
A server of writs would be unpopular, but the position would have been given to someone with interests in the Duchy government located at Lancaster.
- Newby and Keasden are near Clapham, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
- Richard Forster of Lancaster bought Black Friars [the Dominican house in Lancaster seised by Henry VIII] from Thomas Carus and also owned a messuage and 16 acres in Middleton. He appears as a witness on a number of wills of the period along with various members of the Carus family. He was appointed by Edward VI as _____ in ___ [probaby 1552, succeeded by Thomas Winder in 1554] and in 20 September 1557. He died in 1568.

The following is another land deal in Caton.

"Peter 'Rallandson' in 1588 purchased messuages, &c., from William Heysham and Katherine his wife; Pal. of Lanc. Feet of F. bdle. 50, m.124." - from "Townships - Caton" in "British History Online
Note that William Heysham of Highfield, who was also living at this time, was married to Bridget Banester.

The Calendar to Pleadings, temp. Queen Elizabeth, has the following dispute:

- In 1589-1590, Edward Braddyll in right of Thomas Southworth, sued John Houseman and William Heighson or Hyshame re. a capital Messuage called Heighfeld, with the lands and appurtenances, Oxcliffe, Moore pasture, and turbary in Lancaster Town.
This reference was to the Highfield in Lancaster, not the one east of Halton.
- Thomas Southworth [Southwark] held the manor of Highfield in Lancaster from his father's death in 1586 until his own, early, demise in 1595. Oliver Southworth had first gained this property circa 1448, marrying Alice, co-heir with her sister of the de Slene family who had previously held it.
- Edward Braddyll was the eldest son of John Braddyll, an attorney who became wealthy from the sale of alienated abbey lands. Edward, also an lawyer, inherited his father's estates in Brockhole and Whalley in 1578. He was clerk of the county and surveryor of the woods beyond the Trent. Here he was probably acting as Thomoas Southworth's attorney. He was a recusant and died in 1607.
- John Houseman, or Housman, of Skerton. In 1500 a John and Thomas Houseman owned fishing rights in the river Lune.
". . . in the sixteenth century one of the family built a house at Skerton between Lancaster and Halton (Halton being at that time a more important place than Skerton. The Oaks that grew abundantly on the banks of the Lune supplied the wood of the beams, floors and staircase, and a house was built called Housman House . . . From 1618-1898 the Housmans resided at Lune Bank, a pictureeque house in Lancaster." - from "Bromsgrove and the Housmans" by John Pugh, John Mervin Pugh, Housman Society

The turbury was in Lancaster. Oxcliffe is a village on the Lune river, due west of Lancaster, on the opposite side of Lancaster from the other Highfield. As to Moore field, there was a Moor lane in Lancaster, leading east, out of town, through Moorgate. The Highfield of Lancaster was located between Moor lane, to the southwest, and St. Leonards, to the north. Near the Newton boundary there was a 5 acre property called Moorfield, Further Moorfield, Barnfield and Croft, or Bradford Door. I've also seen a Nearer Moorfield and I have a reference to "Lower Moorfield, at Moorgate."

Note that the inquisition of William of Highfield's son, John, no lands in Caton, Oxcliffe, Moore field or Lancaster were mentioned, strengthening my position that the William immediately above was not the William of Highfield.

Def: Capital Messuage - The principal piece of residential property, subject to tenure under common law, where the owner normally lived.

Def: Turbury - Or Turbari. The right to gather peat or a place where peat could be dug, like a bog. This would waste or common land; a low-lying place, like the Green Ayre or Moor field, both described as boggy.


A "Willm Hyshame senex [the old man]" died and was buried in Lancaster on 26 July 1614 - from "Burials" Lancaster - Parish Register, 1559-1690. It is just possible that this was our william, but I currently have this man as William's son.

Historical Timeline: Reign of Kings
1547-1553 Edward VI

The son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife. He was a sickly boy who died young.



1553-1558 Mary

The elder sister of Edward VI, she was the daughter of Henry VII and Catherine of Aragon. Known as Bloody Mary, she made many martyrs in her attempt to re-establish the Catholic Church in England. She married King Philip of Spain, but they had no children. Calais, the last English possession in France, was lost during her reign. In this defeat England was finally forced to turn away from her dreams of an empire in Europe to that of a empire of the sea.

After John and William the family comes back into the light, mirroring the stability and prosperity of England during Henry VIII's & Elizabeth's reigns.

The Heysham Family from 1550 to 1700

It is about this time that records first become plentiful and true father-to-son relationships can be determined. In 1538, Thomas Cromwell, the Vicar General, had ordered that every parish in the country should keep a register of baptisms, weddings and burials. The main reason for this instruction was that the recording of this information would provide more reliable evidence of descent in legal proceedings, but it was also rumoured at the time that it was to provide a means of introducing new taxation.

As time passed, it became clear that registers recorded on paper were deteriorating rapidly. This was mainly because the paper of the time was of poor quality and the documents were often stored in damp cupboards or chests where they rotted away. There were also cases where the registers were lost or destroyed through negligence. In order to preserve the early information which still remained intact in the surviving registers, in 1597 the clergy were instructed to make parchment copies of all the old paper registers dating from the beginning of Elizabeth's reign. At the same time, they were instructed to make another copy of all past and future entries, to be deposited in the diocesan registry. These were known as Bishop's Transcripts.

The earliest records perserved in Lancashire begin in 1599. No trace remains of "an ould peece of A Regester booke beginning 1538 . . . for some yeares after."

It is in this period that we begin to see substantial numbers of people with Hessam-variant surnames living outside Lancashire. In the wake of famine and plague in the 14th century the old ties to family, land and lord had broken down. Over 3,000 marginal villages were abandoned and laborers felt free to move to where the jobs, and greater oppurtunity, lay. This usually meant in the south and east of the country. While many of them may be descendents of the Gernets of Heysham, I believe some were were probably serfs or peasants who had once lived in the area around Heysham and used the name to indicate where they were from. It is probabable as well that some of the variant-names are corruptions not of Heysham, but of other localities and surnames, such as Hexham or Heigham.

On the other hand, I think those people with Hessam-variant surnames living inside Lancashire were descendents of the Gernets. I don't have any hard evidence to back up this assertion, but it feels right. That is, that a family of the minor aristocracy of the 14th century should, through the ups and downs in family fortune, be found amongst the minor gentry of the 16th century. If so, they may well have carried the memory of their former position as lords of the manor. The Heyshams of the 18th century certainly claimed as much.

I also think it is important to track the Heysham spelling itself. The first contemporary use was in the mid-16th century; (14) Thomas Heysham (c1500) of Staffordshire in his will of 1565; (15) William Heysham (c1530) of Highfield in a lawsuit in 1568. My contention is that after about 1700 the standard spelling for the village and for the people around the village known as Heesom, etc., became Heysham. This was due to the fame of Robert and William Heysham, Lancaster boys who became M.P.'s and wealthy sugar merchants in London. Before that time, however, Heysham was the spelling favored, though not exclusively used, by just one family, that of Highfield and its descendents. I believe that any record using the Heysham spelling before 1700 "probably" connoits a specific family relationship. Those "Heesom's, etc." living outside Lancashire were not within the influence of the village or the brothers' fame and kept their old surname spellings.

In trying to pick out the lines of the family I've started by assuming that those that live in proximity to each other are related as a close family group. So we have, in Lancashire, four branches and at least two different fathers to account for both William of Highfield and William of Lancaster.

The City of Lancaster Branch
(15) Gyles Hyshame (c1540)
(15) William Hyshame (c1550)
(15) Edmund Heysam (c1560)

The Highfield Branch
(15) Jane Heisham (c1539)
(15) William Heysham (c1540)

The Warton Parish Branch
(15) Unknown Heysham (c1540)

The South Lancashire Branch, starting at generation (16)

But because records finally became plentiful in the mid-16th century, references to the family suddenly became more plentiful across northern England.

The Cheshire Branch
(14) William Heesam of Witton (c1530)
(14) Robert Heesam/Hesam of Witton (c1530)
(14) Edward Hesam/Heesome of Witton (c1550)
(15) John Easom (c1550), of Frodsham

The Staffordshire Branch
(14) Thomas Hessam/Heysham (c1500), of Butterton

The York Branch
(15) John Hesame (c1565)

The West Yorkshire Branch
(15) Raphe Hesome (c1550), of Barnsley
(15) Richard Esom (c1550), of Royston

A Stray in America

(17) Thomas Hesson (c1610)

Could Thomas be an early tobacco merchant, or factor, coming out of Lancaster? I haven't been able to find a place for Thomas amongst the merchants of Yorkshire or the family in Staffordshire.

"Thomas Hesson to William Brunt for 1000 pounds tobacco ...? acres on south side of John Nowlin adjoining James Watson. Mention is made of John Seward and [Colonel] Mr. Robert Pitt. Wit: John Nowlin; Recorded on 19 October 1644; Signed: Thomas Hesson." - from the Isle of Wight county, Virginia Deed Record: December 1643
A 1000 pounds of tobacco sounds like a lot. Could this be one of the maritime Heyshams, based out of Lancaster, Liverpool or Hull?

Isle of Wight county is on the south side of the James river, west of Norfolk and across the river from Jamestown. It was established in 1634. Many of the early settlers were of cavalier origin and came from the city of Bristol, England. For many years the "Bristol ships" made frequent trading voyages to the county, bringing with them, at every trip, batches of new emigrants.

As I mention elsewhere, Hesson is a problematic name since it is also a variation used by the German family of Balthazar Hussong [sometimes known as Balser Hesson], in colonial Maryland and Philadelphia. Note that in the 19th century the name was held by a group of Irish immigrants.



The Heyshams of Southern Lancashire

Gyles Heesham of Lancaster was on one occassion known as "of Hulton" and on another as "of Euxton." Both of these villages are in southern Lancashire. His municipal duties took him as far as Preston on a regular basis.

Cockerham

This village is just 6 miles south of Lancaster. Easom is a common variation on the Heasom/Heesom name seen most commonly in Yorkshire and Cheshire.

(17) William Easam (c1600)

The father of John.

(18) John Easam (1633)
(17) William Easam (c1600)

John, the son of William Easam, was baptized on 22 January 1633 at Cockerham, Lancashire.


Manchester

(16) James Hashame (c1580)

He married on 8 February 1606 at St. Chad, Rochdale, Lancashire, England. This is north of Manchester.

Constable Heysham (c1895)

A modern-day stray: "Manchester, Eng. -- Twenty prison matrons formed a guard of honor at the wedding of Miss H. Heselton, a wardress at Strangeways Jail, and Constable Heysham of the Manchester Police. Uniformed comrades of both the bride and groom filled the church."- from the 14 February 1924 Iowa City Press Citizen. This was a filler item picked up by a number of newspapers.


The Parish of Chipping

Chipping is south of Lancaster, but well inland, in the Ribble river valley, on the edge of the forest of Bowland. It stands about halfway between Garstang, on the west, and Cliteroe, on the east. The parish register extends back to 1559, but Gyles Heysam is the only Heysham listed.

(17) Gyles Heysam (c1608)

"Gyles Heysam of Bleasdell [Bleasdale]. . . 6 December 1668" - from the Chipping Parish Register of Burials. Bleasdale is northwest of Chipping, closer to Garstang and Catterall.

(21) John Heesam (c1730)

"1792. John Heesam, of Little Bolland in Chipping" - from the Office of Coroner and Coroner's Accounts, Lancashire Courts of Quarter Sessions in the Lancashire Record Office.


Pilling, Lancashire

The following were of Pilling, Lancashire. Pilling is near the coast of Morecambe bay, southwest of Lancaster, in Garstang parish and the diocese of Manchester.

(18) Gyels Hesam (c1630)

"Heysham, Giles, of Pilling, A . . . 1697" - from Lancashie Wills in the Archdeaconry of Richmond.

(19) Anne Heysome< (c1665)

Anne Heysome married Willm. Meason on 25 February 1695 in Pilling, Lancashire.

(18) Giles Heysam (c1635)

"Giles Heysam, of Pilling, A . . . 1702" - from Lancashie Wills in the Archdeaconry of Richmond.

(19) John Heysham (c1665)

"Heysham, John, of Pilling A . . .1729" - from Lancashie Wills in the Archdeaconry of Richmond.

(19) Agnes Hesam (1673)

Agnes Hesam, the daughter of Gyels was christened on 23 February 1673 in Pilling, Lancashire, England.

(20) Anne Heysome (1696)

Anne Heysome, parents unknown, was born on 23 February 1696 of Pilling, Lancashire, England.

Her first marriage probably occurred circa 1726. Anne Heysham, widow, married George Bradshaw, sailor, both of Pilling, on 24 June 1731. Bondsman: Joh Doe. In p. church of Garstang, or chapel of Stalmine, or Pilling. Witness: Chas. Lambert." - from "Marriage Bonds for the Deaneries of Lonsdale, Kendal, Furness and . . . "

Steve Hissem
San Diego, California