KNIGHTS TEMPLAR and KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts

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Archive of twenty-eight documents, ca 1300, on vellum with twelve intact seals (one with an original protective fibre bag) in red and white wax. The seals impressed with birds, fleurs-de-lys, a standing figure and other devices, the documents overall in fine, fresh and attactive condition, all undated (as usual with documents of this period) but mostly before 1308.
An archive of deeds by which the donors make, for the salvation of their souls and those of their families, gifts to the Knights Templar belonging to the preceptory of Temple Newsam ("Milites Templi Salomonis"), and to the Knights Hospitallers belonging to the preceptory of Newland, of land and property in the West Riding of Yorkshire: the archive comprising ten deeds making gifts to the Knights Templar and seventeen to the Knights Hospitallers, with one transferring land held of the Hospitallers; seven of the Templar deeds with early dockets identifying them as made to Newsam ("Newsum", "Newesam 36", "79 B. Neusum", "83 Newsam", "Newesam", "Neusam"):

(i) Ten deeds of gift to the Knights Templar of Temple Newsam by Richard de Rihil [Ryhill], of some 20 acres in South Crossland [Crosland], land in Warderode, one-and-a-half acres by the moor near Adam le Venur with rights of burning building and fencing (3 deeds); by Lady Alina, widow of Crossland, daughter of Philip of Rihill, of half a house or toft (smallholding) which Elias son of Adam le Venur held and the right to take wood for building and burning within the boundaries of Crossland as well as pannage for their pigs within the boundaries of the donor's part of the woods; Thomas de Turstainlande [Thurstonland], of one and a half acres and an acre in Turstainlande (2 deeds); by Roger son of Walter de Thorneton [?the Roger de Thornton who in 1288 granted his land at Wilsden, WR, to the Abbot of Byland], of one assart (area of cleared land) in Greteland [Greetland] called Brendesidewaie Rod, rendering yearly to the donor and his heirs 3s 1d for all services; by Ralf Tagun son of Jordan Tagun, of a grant and quitclaim of the house which his father Jordan Tagun gave them, and one and a half acres in Fullecroft; Robert son of William de Lepton, of ten acres in Lepton; by Alexander de Nevile, of all land which his brother gave the Templars, namely a bovate (about 15 acres) in Lepton, the assart held by Richard des Estages and that held by Hugh de Estages, a meadow held by Iwan de Lepton, and an assart in Lepton called Scakelsahe held by Richard de Spinis, also pasture for 200 sheep and 10 cows for two years in the common fields of Lepton; the Templar deeds witnessed by Brother Suanus, Samuel the Chaplain, Gilbert Chaplain of "Alemab.", Sir Jordan de Insula [Lisle], Sir John de Insula [?of Woodburn], Sir William de Patenum, Sir Thomas, Chaplain of the Temple, Sir William Dayude, G. de Notton, Seneschal [?Geoffrey De Notton, of Notton, near Wakefield, died 1280], Matthew de Scepesley, Seneschal, Sir William de Sumerville [?of Linton and Carnwath], Sir Eli[as] de Albo Monasterio [Whitchurch], Sir William de Alreton, and many others

(ii) Seventeen deeds of gift to the Knights Hospitallers of Newland by Alan son of Simon of Wately, of all Hardinge Rode and land in Colresle; by Robert de Weteley [Whitley], of a third part of the land his uncle gave in Weteley; by Matilda de Stanforham of 3s which Jordan son of Matthew pays from the rent of Flackton [Flockton]; by Elias the son of Haswi of Heton [Kirkheaton], of land in Heton; by William son of Michael de Brethwisel, of land in Brethwisel; by Adam son of Jordan of Queteleye [Whitley], of a piece of land called Stodlee in Queteleye; by Elias son of Hasqui of Heton, of three acres in Heton; by Adam son of Robert de Notton, of land between the stream and castle of Almanbiria [Almondbury]; by John son of Jordan, of land in Colresly; by Robert son of Alan of Claiton, of land at Wetelaia [Whitley]; by Jordan son of Jordan of Floketun, of land held from Martin with money from the service of Simon son of Peter; by Walter son of Godwin of Heton, of a toft and croft in Heton; by Jordan son of Matthew of Flockton, of a toft and two acres in Flockton; by Richard the son of Alan of Weterleia [Whitley], of 25 acres north of Brerewell, plus a wood and free common belonging to the township of Clayton; by Adam son of Jordan de Queteleye [Whitley], of land in Queteleye; by Umfrud de Lasceles, of one toft and land in Leptun [Lepton]; by Alexander de Wetelei [Whitley], of land in Weteleia

(iii) One deed by Adam son of Adam de Byrkeg de Cumberward to Peter to Colriselay granting the land and messuage held of the Hospital of Jerusalem in Crossland

28 items, on vellum, some attached together, with vellum seal-tabs, twelve with intact seals (one with an original protective fibre bag) in red and white wax, impressed with birds, fleurs-de-lys, a standing figure and other devices, one or two a little damp-stained, one nibbled at the edges, some light dust-staining, but in generally fine and fresh condition, undated (as usual with documents of this period) but the Templar deeds prior to 1308 and the rest seemingly of approximately the same date [c.1300].

THE KNIGHTS TEMPLAR OF TEMPLE NEWSAM, PRIOR TO THEIR SUPPRESSION IN 1308: the Knights Templar, described in these deeds as Knights of the Temple of Solomon ("Milites Templi Salomonis"), were established at Jerusalem in 1119 to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, soon becoming one of the most powerful crusading orders, distinguished by their white tunic emblazoned with a red cross. Once back from the crusades, they transferred their energies into the business of making money. In 1307 the financially acquisitive Philip the Fair of France arrested many of their members, accusing them of a spectacular range of heresies and indecencies. In England Edward II was at first reluctant to follow suit, but eventually took measures to suppress them on 8 January 1308; the order being finally wound up by Papal Bull of 22 March 1312, and their property transferred to their rivals the Hospitallers.

The Knights Hospitallers had also been founded in Jerusalem in the early 12th century, in order to provide hospitium to pilgrims, their distinguishing feature being the black surcoat marked with a white Maltese cross. Originally styled the Knights of St John of Jerusalem (as in the present deeds), from 1309 they were known as the Knights of Rhodes (to where they had transferred their headquarters), and from 1529 as the Knights of Malta, which they were, under de la Valette, to defend against the Ottomans. The English province was suppressed at the Dissolution, but revived in 1831, as the Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem, famous today for the St John's Ambulance Brigade.

While the British province of the Knights Templar had its administrative and banking centre in London (at the Temple), a good deal of the province's land holdings were concentrated in Yorkshire. Here the order devoted itself to agriculture and land management, the property returns from Yorkshire alone accounting for over a quarter of their provincial wealth. The preceptory of Temple Newsam, just outside Leeds - where the magnificent Tudor house stands today - was one of the richest in the country, its total value at the time of its seizure being returned as 174 3s 3d (Victoria County History). In 1991 the Yorkshire Archaeological Service excavated the preceptory's farmstead, half a mile to the south of the present house, revealing what may well have been one of the largest barns in England at the time.

While the dockets on the Templar deeds establish the link with Newsam, those making donations to the Hospitallers can with some certainty be identified with the Hospitaller preceptory at Newland near Huddersfield, which lies some sixteen miles southwest of Temple Newsam (and not, as stated in the VCH, at the Newland near Howden, in the East Riding, see E.W. Crossly, 'The Preceptory of Newland', Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 61, 1920, p.1). The Newland preceptory had been founded in the early 13th century and was to survive until the Dissolution. After the suppression of the Templars in 1308, the Hospitallers laid claim to Temple Newsam and briefly took possession in 1323-24. However they failed to make good their claim, and Newsam remained in possession of the Crown throughout most of the 14th century, before passing into the hands of the Darcy family in 1377. Although the Hospitallers failed to get their hands on Temple Newsam itself, it does seem they were more successful with its outlying properties - many of which indeed do lie a good deal closer to Newland than Newsam - and that these were indeed transferred to the Hospitallers of Newland; thus uniting the two runs of West Riding deeds to be found in the present collection.

[No: 22184]

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