The Magna Carta Project

I. A late thirteenth, early fourteenth-century statute book: Cambridge University Library GG 1 12, fos.21v-25v.

by Professor David Carpenter

The copy of the 1215 Charter here is headed ‘Provisio de Ronnemede’.

The chief variations are as follows.

In the preamble, the Christian names of many of John’s counsellors are omitted and the first letter only is given. Stephen Langton becomes ‘G archbishop of Canterbury’. 

J[oscelin] bishop of Bath and Glastonbury (1206-1242) becomes bishop of Bath and Wells, the style in use before and after his time. W[illiam] bishop of Coventry becomes bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, a style only found after 1239.

In chapter 2 on relief, where heirs of earls and barons are to enjoy the ancient relief, the text continues

‘scilicet heres vel heredes comitis vel baronis de baronia integra per centum libras’.

This contrast with the authorized version’s

‘scilicet heres vel heredes de baronia comitis integra per centum libras; heres vel heredis baronis de baronia integra per centum libras’.

It may be that the ‘G’ text here is the result simply of clerk doing some editing, having seen that the baronial and comital reliefs were the same. On the other hand, there are many other passages copied out in the text which could also have been edited and are not. Given that this was a passage which had to be drafted at Runnymede, one cannot rule out the possibility that we have here one of the suggested drafts. 

A section has been omitted from chapter 4 after ‘respondeant’, the eye of a scribe having jumped on to the next ‘respondeant’.

In chapter 4, wardships, if pillaged, are to be entrusted to two law-worthy ‘viris’ of the fee rather than the authorized version’s ‘hominibus’.

In chapter 5, the guardian is to answer for things ‘que ad terram pertinent et de exitu’, whereas the authorized text has him answering for things ‘ad terram illam pertinentia et de exitibus’.

In chapter 9, dealing with what happens if a chief debtor fails to pay ‘non habens unde solvat’, the text adds ‘aut reddere nolit cum possit’. In the authorized versions of the Charter, this addition first appears in the Charter of 1216.

In chapter 10, debts owed the Jews ‘non usurabit’ during minorities. This is the same reading as in chapter 34 of the Articles of the Barons. The authorized version of Magna Carta reads ‘usuret’. 

In chapter 18, ‘de ultima presentatione’ is omitted (as it was to be from the Charters of 1217/1225), although the separate clause then dealing with it is not included. The judges are only to visit the counties three times a year, not four as in the 1215 Charter and once as in the Charters of 1217/1225. The judges are to hear the assizes not with four knights of the county, as in the Charters of 1217/1225, but just with the knights, as in the Charters of 1217/1225. However, as these knights are still to be elected in the county court, a stipulation abandoned in the Charters of 1217/1225, it is possible that ‘four’ here has been omitted by mistake. It appears in other ‘Huntington G’ versions of the Charter.

Chapter 19 reads ‘iudicium’ as opposed to ‘negotium’.

In chapter 22, no clerk is to be amerced ‘de laico feudo suo’. This is as the Articles of the Barons. The 1215 Charter has ‘de laico tenemento suo’.

In chapter 34, ‘in capite’ has been added after ‘precipe’, clearly a later insertion.

The copy, in chapter 44, reads (and in a slightly different position) ‘per aliquam summonitionem’ rather than ‘per communes summonitiones’.

Chapter 48 has the inquiry into local abuses being made ‘per juramentum duodecim milites’ instead of ‘per duodecim milites iuratos’. The abuses discovered are to be ‘penitus ita deleantur quod numquam revocentur’. The authorized version reads ‘penitus ita quod numquam revocentur deleantur per eosdem ita quod nos hoc sciamus prius vel justiciarius noster si in Anglia non fuerimus’.   

The next chapter is that on fines. It is in the same place and in the same words as the other copies in the Huntington family, save that it is ‘G’ archbishop of Canterbury.

Chapter 50 reads ‘Nos amovebimus penitus de balliis nostris parentes Gerardi de Acia et totam eius sequelam ut de cetero nullam habeant balliam in Anglia’, the names then being listed.

This is close to the Articles of the Barons, where the king is to remove ‘penitus de ballia parentes et totam sequelam Gerardi de Atyes’.

The authorized version, by contrast, just reads ‘penitus de balliis parentes Gerardi de Athyes...’. The ‘totam sequelam’ only appears at the end of the Chapter. The king is to remove all those listed ‘et totam sequelam eorundem’. It appears there too at the end of the Chapter in this ‘G’ text, with the result that it has ‘totam sequelam’ twice. The Articles of the Barons only have it once at the start.

In the list of names, Andrew de Chanceaux appears between Peter and Gio de Chanceaux. This is an order only found in the copies of the Huntington G family.

In chapter 61, the security clause, the text reads ‘proponentes nobis excessum  quem sine dilacione faciamus emendari’ instead of the authorized version’s ‘proponentes nobis excessum: petent ut excessum illum sine dilatione faciamus emendari’.

The text has forty days ‘completum’ rather than the authorized version’s ‘computandum’.

The twenty-five barons, with the commune of all the land, ‘distringent et contra nos ibunt’, as opposed to the authorized version’s ‘distringent and gravabunt’.

In chapter 62, in the passage about the letters testimonial to be issued by the ecclesiastics, it is now S archbishop of Canterbury.

In the dating clause, the regnal year is given as sixteen not seventeen.

The Copies of Magna Carta