The Magna Carta Project

John moves toward the March

by Professor Nicholas Vincent

26 July 1215 - 1 August 1215


26 Jul 1215

Chipping Campden (Gloucestershire)

RC, 215b; RLP, 150b; RLC, i, 222b; Rot.Ob., 560

27-28 Jul 1215

Feckenham (Worcestershire)

RC, 216-16b; RLP, 150b-51; RLC, i, 222b-3b; Rot.Ob., 559

28 Jul 1215

'Storton' (?on the Worcestershire Stour)

RLC, i, 224

30 Jul - 1 Aug 1215

Bridgnorth (Shropshire)

RC, 216b-17; RLP, 151-51b, 181; RLC, i, 223-4; Rot.Ob., 560

Bridgnorth, engraved 1795

Bridgnorth, engraved 1795

From Gloucestershire, the King made his way via his hunting lodge at Feckenham, north-east of Worcester, reaching Bridgnorth by Thursday 30 July. Bridgnorth, although far off the royal highway, was a location that John had visited at least three times before, in 1200, 1204 and most recently in August 1212, convenient for manoeuvres on the central March. He was accompanied on his progress in 1215 by an impressive group of courtiers: the archbishop of Dublin, the bishop of Coventry, the earls of Chester, Salisbury and Derby, Hubert de Burgh, and by the time the court reached Bridgnorth, by a group of marcher lords including Walter de Lacy, Hugh de Mortimer, John of Monmouth and Walter of Clifford.1 At least six royal charters survive from this week. At Feckenham, on 27 July, and here continuing his patronage of those with influence at the papal court, the King conferred the Herefordshire church of Skenfrith upon John, son of Peter Saracen.2 The men of Droitwich, through whose great salt-works the King may have travelled this week, were granted their vill and salt mines at an annual rent of £100, together with an annual fair.3 Other beneficiaries of royal favour, included Ranulf earl of Chester, who on 1 August received the vill and castle of Newcastle under Lyme in fee tail for the service of a single knight's fee,4 and William earl of Salisbury, granted the vills of Andover, Wilton and Bromsgrove (another likely station on the King's itinerary) and the £100 annual farm now owed by the men of Droitwich.5

Walter de Lacy's restoration to his lands and castles in Ireland was proclaimed from 27 July onwards.6 Yet the Lacy settlement was merely one amongst several commands to Ireland, once again long prepared, intended to settle the affairs not just of the Irish midlands but of Connaught and other points south, north and west.7 The presence of Gilbert fitz Reinfrey at court perhaps explains the focus this week upon the affairs of Lancashire, with patronage for the canons of Cartmel and Cockersand, and an assignment of dower in Amounderness for the widow of Theobald Walter, now married to Fulk fitz Warin.8 Amounderness itself enjoyed close connections to Ireland via Theobald's Anglo-Irish lordship. Another order to Lancashire, relating to the land and heir of Matthew Gernet, is reminiscent of Magna Carta clause 37 in its recognition that the King should not claim rights of wardship in fees not held from him directly.9 At the opposite end of England, John Marshal was officially appointed sheriff of Dorset and Somerset, and the succession of Hubert de Burgh as chief minister in Kent perhaps explains a series of letters to that county, commanding patronage for the canons of St Radegund's near Dover and the righting of wrongs committed by the previous sheriff, Reginald of Cornhill.10

Bridgnorth floor tile

A later-medieval floor tile excavated in Bridgnorth, depicting a griffin, kept at Ludlow Museum

Although there is no explicit evidence of the King's attempts this week to negotiate with the Welsh, surviving commands for the transfer of a hostage of Llewellyn ap Iorweth, and for the restoration of pasture in Worcester to bishop Giles de Braose, suggest attempts to restore peace to a troubled region.11 In the equally troubled region of London, a letter was dispatched from the King to the Mayor of London seeking the repayment of at least part of the money that the King had devoted, before May 1215, to the city's defence, £18 of which was now commanded paid to Thomas of Galloway. The letter contains an instructive postscript, demanding its return to the King should its terms go unenforced: clear evidence that the King had little expectation that his requests would be obeyed.12 In the meantime, it would be interesting to know what relation Thomas of Galloway, the King's tame Scotsman, was expected to play in relation to London. On 27 July, and here suggesting continued attempts at accommodation with the former rebels, Stephen Harengod was commanded to release Colchester Castle into the keeping of William de Lanvallay, a prominent member of the baronial twenty-five.13

As ever, the King was anxious for the wellbeing of his hounds and huntsmen, asking that a large pack be entertained by John fitz Hugh, in such a way that the better hunting dogs be set aside from the worst.14 Instructions concerning a Jew of Gloucester contain an early reference to the office of cyrographer.15 Perhaps the most revealing letter this week was that sent on 27 July to Engelard de Cigogné, instructing him to release to Philip of Aubigny 150 of the 250 marks that remained in his custody. What is significant here is that Engelard not only continued to be the recipient of royal letters, but remained in possession of a balance of at least 100 marks of the King's money.16 The King's alien constables, in theory dismissed from office following Magna Carta, remained very much a force to be reckoned with.


Witnesses from RC, 215b-17, and especially from a charter for Abbey Dore dated at Bridgnorth on 30 July: Sir William Dugdale and Roger Dodsworth, Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. J. Caley, H. Ellis and B. Bandinel, 6 vols in 8 (London, 1846), v, 553-4 no.2, with a copy now TNA C 146/9840. Notice too the appointment at Bridgnorth on 30 July of Robert de Mortimer, husband of Margaret de Say as Margaret's attorney in a suit to recover her inheritance against Gilbert de Say: RLP, 181.


RC, 216, and for enforcement, RLP, 151.


RC, 216b-17, and for enforcement, RLP, 151-1b; RLC, i, 223b-4b. Made in return for a fine of 50 marks: Rot.Ob., 561.


RC, 216b.


RLC, i, 223b, and cf. RLP, 151-1b.


RLP, 151-1b; RLC, i, 224; Rot.Ob., 562-4, 601-3, and for the restoration itself, negotiated on 29 June, see King John’s Diary and Itinerary 28 June - 4 July.


Connaught: RLC, i, 224 (1000 marks from Murtagh O'Brien for land in Thomond, cf. N. Vincent and M. T. Flanagan, 'Feature of the Month: February 2015 - Irish Fines and Obligations to King John 'The Magna Carta Project [  accessed 01 September 2015], no.4, apparently not fulfilled, cf. Rot.Ob., 565), and a grant of a 10 mark pension to Philip de Angulo in exchange for his cantred in Roscommon (RLC, i, 223). Cf. the restoration of hostages to Roger Pipard (RLP, 150b-1, himself at court this week, as revealed by RC, 215b), the transfer of the castle of 'Crockrestan' (unidentified, perhaps Welsh rather than Irish) from Geoffrey de Canville to Philip of Worcester (RLP, 151), the restoration of the Lacy supporter, Hugh Hose (RLC, i, 223), and a grant of land to Robert Talbot who in 1210 had been against the King at Carrickfergus (RLC, i, 223).


RC, 216-16b; RLC, i, 223-3b. For Gilbert at court from 26 July, RC, 215b-16b. Cf. RC, 218; Rot.Ob., 560, 564, for the Cockersand charter and the restoration of land in Lancashire to a clerk, Richard of Meath.


RLC, i, 222b.


Dorset and Somerset: RLP, 151; RLC, i, 223, and cf. the subsequent grant to John of the King's wine at Gillingham: RLC, i, 224b. Kent: RC, 215b; RLC, i, 223-3b; Rot.Ob., 564-5.


RLP, 151; RLC, 223b, the order relating to Giles de Braose issued at Worcester on 2 August.


RLC, i, 222b, and cf. orders relating to land at Shepperton in Middlesex, RLC, i, 223, surely at this time outside of the zone of royal control. For the London loan, part of which was covered by a payment of 200 marks ordered from the treasury on 4 May 1215, still being summoned against the Londoners at the end of the war, now assessed as 300 marks owed by the citizens 'quas eis accomodauit r(ex) I(ohannes) ad ciuitatem suam claudendam', see RLC, i, 198b; TNA E 159/2 (KR Memoranda Roll 1218/19) m.19d, perhaps still being summoned as a debt of £207, nature unspecified,  recorded in the following year, E 159/3 (KR Memoranda Roll 1219-20) m.2d, these last references courtesy of Henry Summerson.


RLP, 151.


RLC, i, 223b.


RLC, i, 223b.


RLP, 150b; RLC, i, 223b.

King John's Diary & Itinerary