Tallow in the Justice Rolls, 1295-1303
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
Seven hundred years ago the medieval town of Tallow, in modern-day County Waterford and the surrounding countryside featured in the justice rolls of the English government in Ireland. Some of this material was covered in an earlier article, see = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2017/01/the-justiciar-court-at-tallow-in-1295.html
This present article covers items raised in the justice rolls in the years between 1295 and 1303. The geographical location of Tallow made it an ideal market town. Traffic from the north could pass through a gap in the Dromfinnen hills and cross the River Bride near the present stone bridge. Traffic from the south would pass down the Glenaboy River valley much like the Midleton road of today. The River Bride was navigable to Tallow Bridge opening the region to imports of French wine and exports of grain. The fine tillage field around Tallow today are but the successors to a long tradition of grain production in the area and the Anglo-Normans loved tillage production. Their measurement of land was by the carucate, otherwise called the ploughland, which was an area that a plough team could plough in the year. The carucate is usually said to be about 120 statue acres but as soils varied one plough team to plough twice that amount in a year which a team working in poor stony soil would plough far less.
Yet the efficient running of a market could be disrupted by false money and incorrect weights and measures both of which were big issues facing Tallow and other market towns around 1300.
False money in Tallow
On 21st June 1299 the king sent a letter to the justiciar of Ireland to remove bad money, variously called pollarz and crokarz as found in the market towns of Ireland. the sheriff of Cork sent a copy of this letter to all the market towns within his jurisdiction. This included the market town of Tallow as the town and all the land to south of the River Bride and west of the River Blackwater, the area known as Ofhearghusa, was then part of the medieval County of Cork and remained so until the mid-sixteenth century. Two residents of the town, Roger Omolton and Thomas Crispyn of Tolaghrath (Tallow) were directed to watch out for this bad money and to remove from circulation.
Yet removing money from circulation, even if it was false money, could disrupt trade. The merchants of Bristol particularly objected to the June letter. Therefore on 18th August 1299 the king issued a new letter to the justiciar saying that it was the king’s intention all along to allow the pollarz and crokarz coins to remain in circulation until new coins could be minted and that the merchants of Bristol in particular could use the false money in Ireland – seems government U-turns are nothing new.
After changing government policy people were allowed to exchange two pence worth of pollarz and crokarz for one penny sterling. For a time this seemed to control the situation but instead it only encourage people to mint more false money and exchange it for good money. Therefore in March 1300 the government changed policy again and totally banned pollarz and crokarz from circulation from the 9th April 1300. But this second U-turn only activated another powerful pressure group to change government policy again. The merchant bank of Friscobaldi of Florence objected and on 12th April 1300 the Friscobaldi was allowed to exchange and purchase pollarz and crokarz. The Friscobaldi had loaned King Edward and the English government large sums of money to conduct war in Scotland and money just to run the country. On 14th April 1300 the Friscobaldi were given custody of the Dublin exchange.
The wide triangle area of the medieval market place at Tallow
Complaints of false weights and measure by the townsfolk of Tallow
Just as false money is a problem for the efficient running of a market town so also is the issue of false weights. In 1244 King Henry III directed that all measures used in Ireland should be one and the same and based upon the measures used in Dublin. But by 1294 there was still great variety in the weights and measures used across the country. In October 1294 Alexander of London was sent over to make uniform all the weights used to measure bread, wine, and beer and that all weights like bushels, gallons and ells should be the same.
At first sight this problem would seem to be one where merchants would use variable weights, or even false weights, to have one over their customers but it seems government officials were not beyond such practice. In April 1300 the Communities of the towns of the Youghal, Fethard, Tylaghrath (Tallow), Clonmele, Waterford, Cairyk, Athmethan, Typerary, Casshele, Limerick, the Naas, and many other towns appeared by their attorneys against Edmund Biroun, late keeper of Measures and Weights of the King in Ireland.
It seems that when Edmund Biroun went to their towns to do his office, and the townsfolk gave him many gifts not to charge them unjustly; yet Edmund falsely changed or diminished the legal measures. Thus after changing the legal measure many merchants were prosecuted for using ‘false’ measures with many convictions. It was even reported that many merchants were put to death in the previous three to four years for using these so-called ‘false’ measures.
Few records exist about the life of Edmund Biroun (also spelt Bryon). In 1290 Edmund Biroun was owed 18 marks 6s 8d by Thomas Squire of London and in 1294 he was owed £26 by Thomas Squire of London. Also in 1294 Edmund Biroun, along with his wife Margery, was owed 20 marks by John de Hammes of Surrey. These were substantial debts where a manual labourer may earn just £2 4s per year. No other records seem to have survived and none of the usual Irish government records of King Edward 1 make any mention of when Edmund Biroun was working in Ireland or of the 1300 complaint by the various markets towns.
All that we do known is that when the time for the court case came Edmund Biroun didn’t turn up to defend his position, and instead he fled country. Biroun got as far as Wales before he was arrested. At the same time the Justiciar (John Wogan – possibly one of the best medieval administrators in Ireland) was returning from the King, and brought Edmund Biroun back to Ireland.
Edmund Biroun was delivered to the constable and the janitor of the castle of Dublin (Henry le Waleys and Thomas Big), to keep in prison. Henry de Waleys was constable of Dublin castle up until 19th February 1299 when there is a gap in the records until 31st August 1301 when Simon de Ludgate was constable.
But the master of false weights and measures was too much for the Dublin officials and Edmund Biroun escaped from the prison at Dublin castle. An order went out to all the county Sheriffs to demand that Edmund Biroun should appear in their county courts until he be outlawed or captured. What became of Edmund Biroun after his second escape is unknown.
For more on weights and measures in medieval Ireland see http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2014/05/irish-parliament-of-1269.html
Tallow man makes a pledge for debt payments
In June 1300, at the Cork assize court, John son of Thomas, son of Philip, gave 2 marks for a licence to agree with Johanna daughter of Gilbert. By this licence John acknowledged that he owed her for the debt of his father, Thomas, of 15 marks 3d by pledge of Robert le Lung of Tylaghrath (Tallow), Philip, son of Gilbert of Olethan (Kinnatalloon), and Thomas son of Gilbert of the Newton (Ballynoe). We don’t learn anything further to this debt by as the three people who pledged to support the repayment of the debt all came within a few miles of each other if it presumed that all the parties to the court case were local people
Dene property in County Waterford and at Tallow
In June 1302 the king directed a writ to John Wogan, justiciar of Ireland, to inquire if the lands of Reginald de Dene, deceased, were in the king’s hand. John Wogan found that Reginald held a fourth part of the town of Stradbally of the King in capite, without rent and service, but doing suit at the County Court of Waterford. The property was worth 108 shillings per year and was now in the King's hand.
Elsewhere in County Waterford, Reginald de Dene held 2½ carucates of land and pasture at Dronthan from Hamo Vasconis at a yearly rent of 5 marks. This property was worth 31s besides the rent. Reginald de Dene also held one carucate and 80 acres of land at Ardsillauth in County Waterford, from Maurice Russell. For this land Reginald paid Maurice Russell 40s per year for the life of said Maurice. The property was worth 26s 8d beyond the rent payment.
In 1302 Reginald de Dene held half the town of Tylauchrath (Tallow), Co. Cork along with five towns (villata) of land at Balygomiill. This property was held from the heir of Thomas de Clare, by the service of 20s and was worth £24 10s Id.
Reginald de Dene held other property in the liberties of Wexford, Kilkenny and Carlow and the total value of which was £137 6s 11d. Of this amount £30 2s 1d was held as dower land by Reginald’s grandmother, Roesia de Longespee, widow of William de Dene. Out of the property worth £107 4s 10d Isabella, widow of Reginald, was to received her dower lands (usually one third of her husband’s property) while the remainder was kept in the king’s hand due to the heir of Reginald, his son Thomas de Dene, being only ten years old at the time.
Reginald de Dene was a descendent of Thomas Fitz Anthony in the female line. In 1215 Thomas Fitz Anthony was granted custody of the Counties of Waterford and Cork. For more on Thomas Fitz Anthony see = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2013/09/thomas-fitz-anthony-thirteenth-century.html
While in his possession, Thomas Fitz Anthony granted land in both counties to his five daughters. One of these daughters was Helen, wife of Gerald de Rupe (Roche) and Helen’s daughter Emma, married William de Dene before 1261. William de Dene subsequently married Roesia de Longespee who was alive in 1302. William de Dene was succeeded in quick time by his three sons, William, Walter and Thomas. Thomas de Dene had succeeded by 1273 but was dead by 1275 and was succeeded by his three year old son, Reginald de Dene. Custody of the young heir was given to Stephen de Fulborne, the powerful Bishop of Waterford and Reginald married the Bishop’s niece, Isabella. Reginald de Dene died in 1302 leaving heirs who concentrated their activities in County Wexford and around Thomastown in Co. Kilkenny.
For more on the children of Tomas Fitz Anthony see = http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2015/05/the-children-of-thomas-fitz-anthony.html
De Exeter property at Tallow
The Exeter property in Tallow, mentioned in the 1302 Justice Rolls, was originally held by John Devereux from the Fitzgeralds of Kildare (later Earls of Kildare) and later from Thomas de Clare. Gerald Fitz Maurice, 1st Baron Offaly and son of the Norman invader Maurice Fitz Gerald, obtained the land of Ofhearghusa which includes the area of the four medieval parishes of Tallow, Kilwatermoy, Kilcockan and Templemichael (also called Rincrew). Gerald was succeeded by his son, Maurice (2nd Baron) who left three sons, Gerald (father and grandfather of the 3rd and 4th Barons), Thomas (father of the 5th Baron who in 1316 was made 1st Earl of Kildare) and Maurice, landlord of Ofhearghusa.
Maurice Fitz Maurice married firstly to Matilda, widow of Maurice de Rochford and daughter of Gerald de Prendergast. Their daughter, Amabil died without issue and gave her Connacht lands to John Fitz Thomas, 1st Earl of Kildare. Maurice Fitz Maurice married secondly to Emeline de Longespee, daughter of Stephen de Longespee and heiress to her grandfather, Walter de Ridelisford. This second marriage also produced a daughter, Juliana, who married Thomas de Clare, landlord of Ofhearghusa.
It would appear that John Devereux married a sister and co-heir of Emma (granddaughter of Thomas Fitz Anthony), wife of William de Dene. it is possible that Thomas Fitz Anthony granted the land around Tallow to John Devereux when Thomas Fitz Anthony had the custody of County Cork.
Sometime before 1288 his granddaughter, Ismania (daughter of Stephen Devereux), married Jordan de Exeter from Mayo, and brought the Tallow property to her new husband. That property included land in Ofhearghusa and at Affane, near Cappoquin. For information about Affane and the Devereux/de Exeter connections see http://celtic2realms-medievalnews.blogspot.ie/2016/11/affane-athmethan-civil-parish-in.html
In 1288 Jordan de Exeter held half the fee of Ofhearghusa by a half knight’s fee and paying 20s to Thomas de Clare (Reginald de Dene held the other half) while doing suit at the manor court of Inchiquin. Sometime before 1302 Jordan de Exeter and Ismania his wife had granted to their son Jordan de Exeter the manor of Kilcockan, Tallow and Rincrew. It seems that Jordan de Exeter junior was of age by 1293 when he and his father paid a fine in Connacht for having the peace.
In May 1302 at the justiciar’s court at Dublin, a day was given to Jordan de Exeter and Ismania his wife whom Jordan de Exeter the younger called to warranty of tenements in their manor of Insula (Island), Tilaragli (Tallow), and Reyncro (Rincrew), at the suit of the King, of a plea Quo warranto, in the octave of St. John Baptist (24th June).
On 1st July 1302, at the justiciar’s court in Dublin, before Maurice de Rupeforti, another day was given to Jordan de Exeter the younger in the case of the manor of Island (Kilcockan), Tylasjhrath (Tallow), and Reyncro (Rincrew), sometime within three weeks from the feast of St. Michael (29th September). These court cases possibly reflect opposition to a son possessing an estate while his father was alive or a challenge to the de Exeter family by other descendants of Thomas Fitz Anthony as they did in 1262.
By 1305 Ismania de Exeter was dead and Jordan de Exeter held Tallow by the law of England of the inheritance of his son, Jordan de Exeter. In 1310 they were both summoned to Parliament. Jordan de Exeter junior fought in the Scottish wars and was dead by 1317 leaving no children. Tallow was inherited by his cousin, Meiler de Exeter and continued in the de Exeter family until at least 1400 by which time the family name had become Dexcestre.
The Justice Rolls of 1295 to 1303 not only recounts the law cases of the rich and famous but also gives mention to the ordinary people many of whom would never be known without this valuable medieval document. In the Justice Roll we met the two landlords of Tallow but also a number of local people like Roger Omolton and Thomas Crispyn of Tallow looking for false money and Robert le Lung of Tallow acting as guarantor for an unpaid debt. The three surnames, if repeated across the population, would give two Anglo-Norman families for one Gaelic family. The modern street pattern of Tallow also reflects that Anglo-Norman heritage with the four approached roads possessing a narrow point before widening out into the central triangle where the market was held. The history of Tallow falls silent after 1303 until the fifteenth century and so the Justice Rolls gives us a glimpse into that medieval town that we would not otherwise have.
Brooks, E. St. John, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century (Dublin, 1950)
Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward 1, 1288-1296
Connolly, P. (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments, 1270-1446 (Dublin, 1998)
Erskine, A.M. (ed.), The accounts of the fabric of Exeter Cathedral, 1279-1353, Part 1: 1279-1326 (Devon & Cornwall Record Society, vol. 24, 1981)
Mills, J. (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303 (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1905)
Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans, 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005)
Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. 1 (1171-1251)
Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. III (1285-1292)
Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. IV (1293-1301)
End of post
 Mills, J. (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303 (Stationery Office, Dublin, 1905), p. 265
 Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 648
 Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), nos. 731, 741
 Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. 1 (1171-1251), p. 2713
 Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), no. 174
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 316
 Calendar of Close Rolls, Edward 1, 1288-1296, p. 383
 Erskine, A.M. (ed.), The accounts of the fabric of Exeter Cathedral, 1279-1353, Part 1: 1279-1326 (Devon & Cornwall Record Society, vol. 24, 1981), p. 104
 Connolly, P. (ed.), Irish Exchequer Payments, 1270-1446 (Dublin, 1998), pp. 149, 163
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 316
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 334
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 402
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 403
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 403
 Brooks, E. St. John, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century (Dublin, 1950), pp. 48, 49, 50, 51
 Orpen, G.H., Ireland under the Normans, 1169-1333 (Dublin, 2005), pp. 498, 499
 Brooks, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century, pp. 220, 223
 Sweetman, H.S. (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland (Liechtenstein, 1974), vol. III (1285-1292), no. 459
 Sweetman (ed.), Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, vol. IV (1293-1301), p. 11
 Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 378
Mills (ed.), Calendar of the Justiciary Rolls of Ireland, Edward 1, 1295-1303, p. 409; Brooks, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century, p. 219
 Brooks, Knight’s fees in Counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th Century, pp. 223, 226