DCD 1.5. Ebor.44 & 1.5.Ebor.12

Two writs of King Edward I to the sheriff of Oxford, 1292 and 1294

Late in the thirteenth century the monks of Durham established a house of studies in Oxford, and acquired various adjoining properties close to the corner of Broad Street and Parks Road, now occupied by Trinity College, see M. R. Foster, 'Durham monks at Oxford c.1286-1381: a house of studies and its inmates', Oxoniensia 55 (1990) 99-114. This business generated considerable documentation and entailed recourse to the king for writs on at least two occasions, the first to take into account the provisions of the Statute of Mortmain enacted in 1279, the second to secure warranty of one of the acquisitions; the writs obtained by the monks are typical of their kind.
On 3 April 1292 the king addressed the sheriff of Oxford and ordered him 'quod per sacramentum proborum et legalium hominum de Comitatu tuo per quos rei ueritas melius sciri poterit diligenter inquiras si sit ad dampnum uel preiudicium nostrum uel aliorum si concedamus dilectis nobis in Christo Priori et Conuentui Dunelm- quod ipsi' [view] various properties in a suburb of Oxford 'post statutum nostrum de terris et tenementis ad manum mortuam non ponendis editum. ad elargacionem placee ipsorum Prioris et Conuentus Dunelm-. in eodem suburbio sibi adquisierunt' [view]. Any damage was to be specified, those of whom the property was held and how, its annual value, and whether those disposing of the property would be left with sufficient to meet the obligations due from the property. 'Et inquisicionem inde distincte et aperte factam sub sigillo tuo et sigillis eorum per quos facta fuerit nobis sine dilatione mittas et hoc breue.' [view] As usual by this date the seal-tongue bears brief details about the writ ('Vicecomiti Oxon- pro Priore Dunelm- de inquisicione' [view] ) which would have been visible, sticking out when the document was folded up around the seal and tied up using the seal-tongue, rather than a separate tie, so expediting matters in the chancery post-room.
On 8 May 1294 the king addressed the sheriff of Oxford, to order Walter Bost [one of the holders of the property specified in the writ of 3 April 1292] to warrant for the prior of Durham 'vnum {toftum cum pertinenciis in suburbio} Oxon-, quod tenet et de eo tenore clamat Et vnde cartam suam habet vt dicit' [view] . If he did not and the prior gave security for pursuing his claim, then Walter should be summoned to be before the king's justices at Westminster on the octave of St Michael to show why he had not done. Following the dating clause the surname ('Bassing-' [view]) of the chancery clerk responsible for this instrument was written in the lower right-hand corner, as was becoming normal at this period. On the tongue is an impression of the great seal, but it is quite clear that this was never a full impression, for what is there is the king's head, with far too little space between this and the root of the tongue to accommodate a full impression; it was common practice to save wax by using a part-impression (pes sigilli) on routine writs.
The script of both writs is typical of chancery products of the period; the earlier afforded the scribe three opportunities to indulge the current mannerism over the form of S, as in 'Stephano' [view], which could easily be mistaken for M; further exaggeration of the central horizontal stroke produced what has been termed the "beaver-tailed S". Both writs feature alterations, in the earlier by means of interlineations, with caret marks in modern form below the lines, in the later over erasures in lines 2 and 3-4.