Notarial instrument recording protestation of Richard de Hoton prior of Durham, 1305.

The violent and prolonged dispute which broke out in 1300 between Bishop Bek of Durham and a section of the cathedral's monastic community, well described in C. M. Fraser, A History of Antony Bek bishop of Durham 1283 - 1311, (Oxford 1957), meant that the monks made extensive use of the services of notaries soon after these became widely accepted in England, see Cheney (1972); some they employed for a regular payment, see: Misc. Ch. 3996, 3465, 3838.Here, before the justices of Edward I specially deputed to hear and terminate the prior's complaints over the taking of goods of the priory, `quarum cognicio ad coronam et dignitatem dicti Regis excellentissimi pertinet' [view], the prior states that he does not intend to pursue before them business belonging to an ecclesiastical forum, `Set tantum illa negocia coram eisdem que ad iudicium seculare pertinere secundum consuetudinem Anglicanam dinoscuntur' [view].  This was done, not as part of the process before the king's justices, who would not normally have taken cognizance of procedures recorded by a notary, but in order to forestall objections in the papal curia in the case between Bishop Bek and Prior Hoton.

The document exhibits typical features of a notarial instrument of this period: a tendency to use the parchment in portrait format; the elaborate initial which begins the standard opening invocation, `In nomine domini nostri ihesu christi amen' [view]; a statement of the date, including the indiction [view], followed by a precise statement of the place, `in aula placitorum Dunelm-' [view]; a forward reference to the presence of the notary and witnesses, unnamed; then an account of the actions recorded, followed by a reference back to the date and place `prenotatis', the names of those present, as often said to be `ad hoc vocatis specialiter et Rogatis' [view], and a multitude of others; the end of the main text is marked with a device, here in the form of a plait. The notary's sign is drawn below the main text, aligned with the left-hand vertical of that text.Beside it, with a space of two lines left below the main text, is the notary's subscription, or eschatacol, `ET Ego Thomas de Seleby clericus Eboracensis diocesis publicus Imperiali auctoritate Notarius ...' [view], stating that he has seen and heard the above-written, `scripsi et in hanc publicam formam redegi' [view], and marking the end with a plait device; if there had been alterations to the main text, these would have been mentioned in the subscription, to register them as authoritative.The document is unsealed, confirming that it was not meant to be used in an English common law court.The script is typical of that used in England by notaries of the period, having a rounded quality used in documents issued by the papal chancery (cf. 4.2.Pap.4), and somewhat different from contemporary English documentary scripts.For a similar example, see Loc.VII:17.

The dorse has an early brief description of the document, `Protestacio Prioris coram Iusticiariis'. Above it is a typical example of the endorsements added to many documents by one of Durham's most active monastic archivists, Dr Thomas Swalwell (d. 1539), see Piper (1997), `Instrumentum super protestacione Ricardi prioris coram Iusticiarijs regis <contra in> quod non intendebat ...'; he numbered the document, `84', the same number that he gave to a document of similar import (Loc.VII:6), and hence the `2' signifying "duplicatur".