DCD Reg. I.i. f. 65r

Retrospective copies of file copies of grants, etc., by priors of Durham, [c.1415]

It was not until 1312 that the monks of Durham took to maintaining a current register containing copies of documents that went out in their name, this was perhaps at the instigation of Bishop Kellawe, a former member of the community, and in the wake of the protracted crisis in their relations with Bishop Bek which had broken out in 1300. For over a century, however, they had kept loose separate copies of such documents, which were fastened together in files, for example Misc Ch 6484. A significant proportion of these concerned the management of the main estate, and were documents issued in the name of the prior by himself; even after 1312 such documents were not generally entered in the register, which was pricnipally for documents issued in the name of the prior and the convent or chapter together, including their confirmations of significant grants by the bishop. As part of a campaign of tighter archive-management initiated by John Wessington as chancellor (Dobson, pp. 90-91), which involved the compilation of a new set of cartularies beginning in 1408 Cart. II, it was decided to create a volume containing copies of the existing loose copies, in effect a retrospective register, topographically arranged; by 1421, when the chancellor's books were listed (cf Reg II f 156v), it was known, appropriately, as "Registrum primum", for its contents largely predated those of the oldest current register, "Registrum secundum".
Most of the original separate documents from which Register I was compiled can still be found in the monastic archive, as for instance the one against which a nineteenth-century pencil note states that it is printed on Feodarium p.31 and which survives as Misc Ch. 6484. The one below it, however, has not been found. It forms part of a slightly complicated transaction whereby the prior sought to bring a substantial group of freeholdings in his township of Wolviston back within more direct control by giving in exchange for them the recently acquired manor of Henknowl. The exchange (2.10.Spec.4) was dated 5 December 1379, but was evidently not intended to take immediate effect, for on 12 December the 'prior concessit prefato Iohanni omnia blada in terris apud Wulueston de quibus idem prior per predictum Iohannem Iohannem feoffatus fuit per ipsum Iohannem manuoperata et seminata et similiter concessit prefato Iohanni quod ipse totam terram inde ordinatam pro semine vernali ibidem cum ordeo et semine vernali libere seminare possit et totam vesturam inde libere possit meterse et asportare'[view]; John was also to be allowed to stay in his house in Wolviston for almost two more years.