Branscombe Timelines C14


The Fourteenth Century

The header for each year is preceded with an @ sign to facilitate searching


The European climate deteriorates. Some newly-settled land becomes unviable for farming.

New Zealand Maoris hunt the giant Moa to extinction. An increased reliance on agriculture in the North Island.

Revival of the Maya civilisation. Inca tribes found the capital, Cuzco.

The 14th.century sees the first use of watermarks, in paper.

Manuel des Pêches, written by William of Wadington, and translated into English verse by Robert Mannyng, in Handlyng Synne (1303), approves of religious plays acted reverently in church, but condemns outdoor performances of miracles.

`By 1300, admissions to the freedom of the City of Exeter were being enrolled at an average rate of about 15 per annum, indicating a total membership of several hundred. Thus, although no reliable estimate has been made of the population of Exeter at this period, the freemen certainly constituted a substantial minority. In addition to the merchants and the more substantial tradesmen who provided the city with its mayors and bailiffs, they included numerous members of lesser trades. There is no evidence in Exeter of the practice found elsewhere of denying the franchise to certain groups, for example, to cloth-workers.'

`Entry by succession or apprenticeship was normally only possible if the fathers or masters were themselves freemen... In Exeter, unlike other towns, until about 1350 it was possible to enter by succession to an uncle, brother, or other relative, as well as to a father ... In the case of admissions by purchase, the sum varied widely, especially in the early fourteenth century, from five pounds to more or less than one pound. Each entrant made his own agreement with the mayor and bailiffs as to the amount, and in this way the officers had a measure of control over the rate of entry... A much larger group consists of those admitted `at the instance' of an individual, sometimes an influential outsider such as the Bishop of Exeter, the Sheriff of Devon, a local magnate, or one of the more prominent citizens, frequently one of the city officers.'

Bovey manor; near Branscombe village, comes to the Walrond family of Bradfield.

Approximate year of birth of Guillaume de Machaut (d.1377), in Champagne. He and Guillaume Dufay (d.1474) were to become among the most important composers of secular polyphonic songs in France.

Richard de Brankescomb & his wife Cecilia, hold a quarter fee at Borcombe, parish of Southleigh, in the hundred of Colyton.

`By 1300 the crossbow had largely displaced the longbow on European battlefields, despite being banned in 1139 by the Pope as "... deathly and hateful to God, and unfit to be used by Christians."'

`It was not for some time after the Norman Conquest that the oral tradition [of conducting business] began to break down ... By 1300 laymen were using documents as a matter of course, and even serfs (at least the more prosperous ones) were familiar with them.'

`Raising money to pay the cost of war was to cause more damage to 14th century society than the physical destruction of war itself. The governing fact was that medieval organization by this time had passed to a predominently money economy. Armed forces were no longer primarily feudal levies serving under a vassal's obligation who went home after forty days; they were recruited bodies who served for pay. The added expense of a paid army raised the cost of war beyond the ordinary means of the sovereign. Without losing its appetite for war, the inchoate state had not yet devised a regular method to pay for it. When he overspent, the sovereign resorted to loans from bankers, towns and businesses which he might not be able to repay, and to the even more disruptive measures of arbitrary taxation and devaluation of the coinage.'


A visitation to Branscombe. Among the jury of 13 is Ricardus de Brankescumbe. [another visitation in 1307]

Pevsner says the round window with five trefoils in the west gable of the chapel at Edge Barton, Branscombe, dates from the early fourteenth century.


OED claims first written use of the word coney, for rabbit. According to Shippey, rabbits were only introduced into England in the thirteenth century, and were bred for their fur. Hares, on the other hand, were indigenous to northern Europe.


Ricardus de Brankiscomb & his wife Cecilia, hold a quarter fee at Borcombe, Southleigh parish, in the hundred of Colyton.




16 July, Exeter: Richard de Branchescoumbe holds half a knight's fee at Borcombe, Southleigh parish, Devon.

`Colyton: The manor of Borcombe. Was sometime the land of [Henry] de la Pomeroy, and after of Richard Branscombe, then the Lord Bonville's, and is now my Lord Petre's'.

`In the Middle Ages, the basic unit of administration was the manor, the body with which the ordinary villager came into closest contact. Manors varied in size, scope and structure, reflecting differences in local circumstances and the fact that as an organization they were laid on top of pre-existing territorial units. Some manors, especially those in central England, were conterminous with a village, while elsewhere, notably in eastern England, the village was divided up between two or more manors. In other places manors incorporated several villages or consisted of a manorial centre with outlying properties ... The day-to-day running of the manor was the responsibility of the reeve, sometimes assisted by other men such as the beadle and hayward. These officials, normally unfree tenants, were compelled to serve, though not infrequently they were chosen by their fellow villeins. The reeve, in turn, was answerable to the bailiff, who had the care of two or three manors. The administration of the whole estate was the job of the steward. The latter travelled from manor to manor, checking on the work being done by the bailiffs and reeves and holding the manor courts. Exercising financial oversight, the lord of a single manor might audit his reeve's accounts himself. On larger estates a receiver did the work for him. On the most substantial estates there were several receivers, all under the control of a receiver-general.'


Edward I dies (reigned since 1272). Edward II succeeds (to 1327).

`Edward II was defeated by the Scots in battle, and suffered the abject humiliation of deposition.'

`Edward II did not understand the importance of patronage, and he lost the trust of the nobility as he turned to unsuitable favourites, such as Piers Gaveston and the Despensers. After the defeat of his main baronial opponent, Thomas of Lancaster , Edward's reign took on an increasingly tyrannical aspect, until it was ended by a revolution headed by his own queen, Isabella . The reputation of English arms had plummeted as Edward had failed to maintain the impetus of the war against the Scots which his father had begun.'

`In 1307 the King agreed to popular demands for a statute directed against the Church ... concerned with the export of proceeds from English livings held by foreign clergy.'

Butters claims the first official mention of Berry Barton, (Bury, or La Biry) in Branscombe village, and of John de Weston's connection with Weston, Brachycome [Branscombe].

March 6: The Mayor of Exeter's Court Roll records admission of Thomas Batyn, spicer, to the Freedom of the City, at the instance of Joice [Jocelyn?] de Brankescumb. [cf 1347]

October 13: "Black Friday" - the Church launches an operation to arrest, torture and massacre members of the Knights Templar, so named because the had occupied and secretly excavated the site of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem. [cf: 1308]

16 December, Westminster: Master Walter de Stapleton, bishop-elect of Exeter, going beyond seas, has letters nominating Joceus de Brankescumbe and Robert de Horton his attorneys for one year.

26 December: Joceus de Branscombe named as attorney for Walter de Stapledon, bishop-elect of Exeter, and Master John de Bruton, for one year, while they go to the Court of Rome.

Walter Stapledon, (1261-1326) Lord Treasurer under Edward II. Born at Annery, Markleigh, Devon, according to Hoskins p.439, but born at Stapledon, Cookbury, Devon, according to Hoskins p.375! Professor of Canon Law at Oxford; Chaplain to Pope Clement V; Bishop of Exeter 1307-1326; founder of Stapledon Hall (later Exeter College), Oxford. He was murdered by a London mob, in 1326.

`The [Stapledon] family was seated at Stapledon, in the parish of Milton Damarel, held from the Courtenays, and at Annery, in the parish of Monkleigh. Stapledon is now a farm house, but the house at Annery [was to pulled down in 1959].' Walter was born on the 1st of February, circa 1260. At Oxford, where he probably studied, the four colleges of University, St.Edmund Hall, Balliol & Merton had already been founded.

Richard de Brankescumbe & his wife Cecilia hold a quarter fee in Borcombe, Southleigh.

A visitation to Branscombe. Among the jury of 13 is Ricardus de Brankescumbe. [another visitation in 1301]


`In January, King Edward II, at the request of the Pope, ordered the arrest of all the Knights Templar in England, sequestered their property, and appointed commissions, (which included certain papal inquisitors) to sit at London and York to try them on charges of heresy and moral depravity ... Their fault was that they belonged to a rich order; from their original function as custodians of Solomon's temple in Jerusalem, they had become wealthy bankers and owners of substantial estates throughout Christendom. Their French possessions were particularly valuable, and had attracted the greedy attention of Philip IV of France. He wanted their money and their lands, and he had sufficient leverage over the Pope to force him into ordering a general dissolution of the order. The Pope complied, and the trials were held to provide moral justification for an act of blatant theft.'


Pope Clement V takes up residence at Avignon. (to 1378)


Richard de Ralegh, son of Richard Russel of Thorverton, admitted to the freedom of the City of Exeter at the instance of Richard de Brankescumb and John Dyrewyne.

17 January, The Grove: Jocelyn de Branscombe comes before the King and seeks to replevy (?) land in Whimple (La Wille), confiscated by the King from Luke de Sutton.

Whimple: from the Celtic, "white pool".

`When we stand in such places as this, we are in the presence of a remote antiquity, going back to the Celtic kingdom of Dumnonia. On this spot, farmers have lived and tilled the soil, since the fifth, sixth or seventh century, if not earlier in some instances. For Whimple lies in the shadow of Hembury, that great fortress of the early Iron Age, which was abandoned for the lower ground in the first century A.D.'


May, Greenwich: John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath and Wells (1309-1329?), appoints Jocelin de Brankscombe as Rector of Newton St.Loe, Somerset, following the resignation of Francis de Stodelegh (to 1318?)


19 February, Bridgwater: John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath & Wells (1309-1329?), makes Robert de Beauchamp, a minor, (ward?) of the church of Lymington, on presentation by Lady Cecilia de Beauchamp. [Robert poss the son of John & Cecily de Beauchamp of Hatch? If so, he may have died in 1362 without issue, whereon his sister Cecily (m-1 Roger Seymour, m-2 Richard Turberville), who died at Merifield, Somerset, in 1394, became heir]

6 April, Burfordstok: John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath and Wells (1309-1329?), appoints Gregory de Brankescombe as Vicar of the Isle of Abbots. Nominated by the Abbot of Muchelney. [Isle Abbots & Muchelney, nr. Ilminster]

June: Piers Gaveston, favourite of Edward II, executed at Blacklow Hill.

13 November: Edward, later Edward III, born at Windsor, the eldest son of Edward II and Isabella, Queen of France.

16 December, Westminster: King Edward appoints Joceus de Brankescumbe as a tax-assessor in Devon and Cornwall.



King Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland defeats the English at Bannockburn. Afterwards, he maintained a strong policy against the English, until his death. He was buried at Dunfermline Abbey.

Bishop of Exeter, Walter Stapledon, founds a grammar-school at Ashburton, `for the erudition of children freely.'


`The year opened under circumstances more depressing for England than at any time in the century. The country's rulers, mocked on the battlefield and humiliated by raiding, presented no more impressive sight when out of their armour. When those who ruled attempted to reach agreement on policy, a process from which Edward, taking his pleasure with court favourites, usually absented himself, their personal distastes and rivalry prevented accord.' [There is a theory that Edward was gay and gave favours accordingly]

`During the two decades of his reign Edward was engaged in an almost continuous struggle with the barons, which culminated in his deposition and death. In this conflict, Parliament became increasingly important as a political assembly. Edward's personality explains much of his failure. Though physically strong and a good horseman, he was not intelligent.

A source written in 1315 describes his interest in such rustic pursuits as making ditches, and his unconventional tastes separated him in outlook from the majority of the feudal magnates. He thus turned to favourites such as Piers Geveston for friendship and advice, while his faults in character lost him any more widespread support.'


21 December, Clipstone: Jocelyn de Brankescombe owes Richard de Ivingho of London £6, on forfeit of his lands in Devon. He also owes William le Dorture of London, 33s 4d. (Both cancelled on payment)

The earliest official parliamentary record which gives a reasonably full account of the proceedings in chronological order, is the roll for the Lincoln Parliament of 1316.


Latin liturgical plays at Lincoln, at about this date.


Richard de Brankescombe holds a knight's fee assigned in dower at Alre [Aller?], Devon, by Margaret de Moles, late wife of Nicholas de Moles. Inquisition demanded by John de Moles. [cf:1328, 1332]



Construction of Compton Castle begins about this time. `The finest surviving example in the country of this type of house.' Geoffrey Gilbert married the Compton heiress.

Prince Edward, eldest son of Edward II and the future Edward III, summoned to parliament as Earl of Chester.


16 March: Humphrey de Bohun, eighth Earl of Hereford & Essex, killed at Burrough Bridge. His wife Elizabeth was daughter of Edward I. His daughter, Margaret, who was married to the second Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, was probably responsible for the memorial to Humphrey, depicting him as a Crusader, erected in Exeter Cathedral.


1 December, York: Joyce de Brandescombe appointed, with William de Bourne to the keeping of the fines (temporalities) of Glastonbury Abbey. Fine is the English form of the Latin finis. It is used in legal language to express the finishing off of a suit brought in a public court to determine who is the rightful heir to an estate or other hereditary possession. The foot of a fine is the bottom section of the three-part indenture in which the particulars of the understanding or agreed terms of compromise are recorded. This is held by the State. The two upper parts being retained by the parties.

An indenture is `... a deed executed between two or more parties and written out in as many copies as there were parties - all on one sheet of parchment or paper. An `indented' or wavy line was drawn between the copies, sometimes with the word chirograph written through it, and the sheet was then cut into parts along the line. The copies could later be identified as tallies when brought together. The term is now used of any sealed agreement, and particularly for a contract of apprenticeship.'

16 March: Battle of Boroughbridge. Thomas of Lancaster defeated by forces loyal to Edward II. Thomas is executed near his own castle of Pontefract.

`The period after Boroughbridge saw reforms which make the reign a turning point in administrative history. The work of the Chamber was expanded under Hugh le Despenser the younger, and that of the Wardrobe restricted more closely to the affairs of the [royal] household. At the Exchequer, Walter Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter, was responsible for the re-organisation of the exchequer records.'

May: Statute of York.


12 May, Cowick: Edward appoints Jocelyn de Branscombe to the office of Constableship of The Exchequer.

10 July, Faxfleet: Edward appoints Jocelyn Branscombe as Chancellor of The Exchequer, Dublin. [Jocelyn is possibly enjoying the patronage of Walter de Stapledon, Bishop of Exeter and Lord Treasurer under Edward II: cf 1307]


Robert Baupel granted permission by the King to dig up kistvaens and barrows in Devon and Cornwall, to look for treasure.

`Before 1324, the slave proper had become non-existent in England, although he still might be found in other countries. Yet the abolition of slavery was not an unmixed gain for the lower classes as a whole. On the contrary, the lord tried, naturally enough, to get out of the serf what he had previously got from the slave. The [Norman] Conquest systematized serfdom for a while; the strong central executive worked in the direction of extinguishing local liberties, and levelling all men down to the minimum recognized by law ... far more than fifty per cent of the population were ... serfs, in 1324 ... It may almost be said that no two manors had quite the same customs ... the so-called serf of one moment or place may be scarcely distinguishable from the so-called freedman of another.'


8 July, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe witnesses various deeds and agreements.

1300-1325: Dux Moraud; the part of a single actor in a moral play, Interludium de Clerico et Puella, written in English. An early milestone in the history of English theatre.

Prince Edward, eldest son of Edward II, and soon to become Edward III (1327), made Duke of Aquitaine. In September, he is sent to France to do homage to his uncle, Charles IV, for Guienne, Gascony and Ponthieu. He remained abroad until he returned with his mother, Isabella, and Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, in September 1326. To raise funds for this enterprise, he was betrothed to Philippa, daughter of William II, Count of Hainaut.


14 April, Exeter: Richard de Brankescombe, Walter Gaboun of Blakepol, John atte Hulle & others hold a fee in divers places in the manor of Warkele, Devon, of William Martyn.

Ricus de Brankefcomb assessed at 12d for the Devon Subsidy of this year.

Geoffrey Gilbert is a member of Parliament.

`Early in the year, Edward's queen, Isabella was in France on a diplomatic mission to her brother, Charles IV. Later in the year her son, Prince Edward, then 13, joined her. At that time, Paris provided refuge for numbers of discontented exiles, among them Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, who had escaped from the Tower of London, where he'd been incarcerated by Edward, following an abortive rising.

The Queen provided a natural focus for the development of a movement against her husband; she publicised her estrangement from him by taking Mortimer as her lover. On September 23rd., she and Mortimer sailed for England at the head of a band of mercenaries, and landed in Suffolk. She had foreseen the effect well. The country rose in support, and Edward fled to the west. On 26 October, Prince Edward was proclaimed Keeper of the Realm.

After the accession of his son in 1327, there was no place for the deposed monarch, and he was murdered in Berkeley Castle, on the 21st. of September (1327), and buried at the Abbey church, Gloucester.'

`Paramount among all the expectations of kingship was prowess in the waging of war. The priest at his prayers, the merchant in his counting-house, the peasant in the fields, all had this in common - they possessed an interest in the pursuit of war, and it was to the King, the warrior-chief of the land, that they looked for inspiration.'

15 October: `The revolution revealed its nastier side in the lynching of the Bishop of Exeter, Walter Stapledon, who was dragged from his horse by the mob and beheaded with a butcher's knife.' [Hingeston-Randolph believed Stapledon had with him in London the Episcopal Register of Walter Branscombe, and that when Stapledon's house was was sacked, following his murder, his goods were dispersed, including the Register. Most of it was recovered later, but sections are still missing]


`The deposition of Edward II ... is the great divide in our later medieval history, the greatest since 1066.'

`Previous kings might have had their setbacks, but no king since the Norman Conquest had been deposed and murdered.'

Until 1752, the year began in England on Lady Day, 25 March. Thus the reign of Edward III began on 25 January of what was then reckoned as 1326.

25 or 29 January, Westminster: Crowning of Edward III, aged 14 (to 1377). Edward's mother, Isabella, queen of Edward II, and her lover Roger Mortimer of Wigmore, were effectively ruling for the next four years, though officially, the young king's guardian was Henry, Earl of Lancaster.

13 March, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe and five others owe Adam, Bishop of Herford, £200.

Bishop of Hereford, Adam Orleton: A former royal servant elevated to a see by papal decree. Joined Isabella in France, as an exile, prior to 1326.

8 May: Patent Rolls, Nottingham. A pardon to Thomas Prordham of Barnstaple, for the death of Thomas de Branscombe. (large number of similar pardons for murder on the same roll)

18 May, Eltham: John de Kemel owes Richard de Branscombe £300, on forfeit of his lands in Devon. [cf:1329 William de Kemel]

5 June, Patent Rolls, York: Presentation of Jocelyn de Branscombe, parson of the church of Tomerton, in the diocese of Worcester, to the moiety of the church of Ermyngton [Ermington], in the diocese of Exeter.

Ermington: St.Peter's church is a spacious fourteenth-century structure.

21 September: Edward II murdered at Berkeley Castle.

`The final chapter of Edward II's life has often been told, with the aid of an emotional and highly-coloured account, written by the chronicler Geoffrey le Baker some thirty years later, which culminates in the disgusting scene in which Edward is murdered by means of a red-hot plumber's iron thrust up his anus. Much in this story belongs to the world of romance, rather than of history. But the most remarkable story about Edward's fate is not Baker's, for all the chronicler's horrific accounts of the foul chamber in which Edward was confined. It is the account of a Genoese priest, Manuel Fieschi, who claimed to have heard confession from Edward. It tells the story of how Edward, having been forewarned that his life was in danger, escaped from Berkeley Castle where he had been sent, killing a porter, who was buried in his place.

After a period in Ireland, he went to France, where the Pope received him in Avignon. He then travelled to Cologne, and Italy, where he became a hermit. The details of the story up to the escape from Berkeley are reliable. Fieschi was a papal notary, and such a man was not likely to fabricate a deliberate falsehood.

He may have been deceived by an imposter, but the story is almost too surprising to have been invented. When Edward III was in Cologne in 1338, a man calling himself William le Galeys appeared, claiming to be the King's father. But there was no indication that this was taken seriously.'

`Within hours of the crown being placed on the young Edward's head, the Scots; showed their defiance by crossing the Tweed at night, and attempting (unsuccessfully) to overpower the garrison of Norham.'

`Edward III won great triumphs against the French, but his reign also saw the population, which had reached its medieval peak, cut down by the ravages of plague.'

`Under Edward III, the wheel of fortune turned again. News of the great victories of Sluys, Crécy and Poitiers, reverberated through Europe. Two kings, David II of Scotland and John of France, were held captive in England and forced to pay huge ransoms. Edward's new Order of The Garter became a renowned symbol of chivalry.

Edward learned the political lessons of his father's reign, restored the prestige of the monarchy, and established a remarkable rapport with the nobility. Only in the last years of his life, with the onset of senility, did the underlying strains of many years of warfare begin to threaten his achievement.'

The first manufacturing tutors of the English were the Flemish. These artisans, though living amongst the splendours of Ghent and Bruges, are described (in Fuller's Church History) as:

`Rising early, and going to bed late, toiling the whole of the day, subsisting upon herrings and mouldy cheese.' Edward III invited a large number of them to settle in England. [Some ended up in Beer village, and began the famous Honiton lace industry - called "Honiton" by Londoners, because it arrived by road from there, although sourced in a wide surrounding area, including Branscombe and Beer] He promised them plenty of beef and mutton, good beds and pretty wives, and assured them that the yeomen would dispute among themselves for the honour of marrying their daughters to them. They accepted the offer, and the event proved that they enriched themselves at the same time as they brought into England a fresh source of national wealth.

The same historian adds:

`The yeomen who received the artisans into their houses soon grew more wealthy than the gentry they acquired large possessions and emblazoned their estates.'

Sheriffs of Devon from Edward III (1327-1377) by regnal year:
(some missing)

28       Richard Champernon

29       Jo. Dabernon

30/31    Will. Yeo

32       Richard Bramscomb

40       Richard Bramscom

41/42    Thomas Champernon

44       Thomas Champernon

48       Richard Branscombe & Will. Ashthorpe

49       Nicholas de la Pomeray

There were still great irregularities attending the appointment or choice of sheriffs, as well as the extent of their jurisdiction, and their continuance in office.

We find sheriffs chosen by the inhabitants of the several counties, in confirmation of which it was ordained by statute, (28th. of Edward I) that the people should have the election of sheriffs, where the shrievalty was not of inheritance. But by the 9th. statute of Edward II, it was enacted that sheriffs should from thenceforth be assigned by the Lord Chancellor, the Treasurer, and the judges...

Richard Branscombe, a man learned in the laws in the age of Edward III, was repeatedly Sheriff of Devon county.

The arms used by Richard are the same as those used by Walter, Bishop of Exeter:

Or on a chevron sable, three cinquefoils of the first, between two keys erected in chief, and a sword of the second. The motto: Patientia Vincit.

`In England before the Norman Conquest, the scirgerefa, also called scirman, was a high officer, the representative of royal authority in a shire, who presided in the shire-moot, and was responsible for administration of the royal demesne, and the execution of the law. After the Conquest, the office of sheriff was continued, the title being retained in English documents, while in Latin and French the usual term was vice-comes or vicecounte, which had been applied to similar functionaries in Normandy. The functions of the sheriff have gradually become more restricted.'

`The sheriff has custody of the County on behalf of the monarch.'

`Edge, or Egge, in this parish, situated on an oval hill, was the dwelling-place of Richard Branscombe in the time of Edward III [1327-1377]. It soon afterwards came to Sir John Wadham, the judge.'

Hoskins claims the Wadham family moved from Knowestone to Branscombe before this year, to Edge Barton. [But perhaps he meant 1377?]

`Moving east and south from Honiton Barton we enter a wide upland district of lonely farms and hamlets, with few villages, and with much moory ground seven or eight hundred feet above sea level, where the curlew is heard all day long in the spring.

Here in the parish of Knowestone, we find the remote village of Wadham, and a couple of miles further on, Shapcott Barton. Today, it's a pleasant but undistinguished farmhouse, probably re-built in the eighteenth century. It is only of interest as the original home of the Wadhams, whose descendant, Nicholas Wadham, founded Wadham College, Oxford, in 1612.

They moved across the country before 1327 [1377?], from the cold, unrewarding clays of the Exmoor; foothills, to the warm fertility of Edge Barton, in the parish of Branscombe, on the south coast. Here they prospered. Sir John Wadham, one of Richard II's (1377-1399) judges, raised the family fortunes, adding greatly to their estates and social position. (pp.142-3)

Henry de Weymouth mentioned in Patent Rolls. (EBMI)

`By the year 1327 the House of Commons had become an essential part of the constitutional machinery. The knights of the shire, who at first might have been expected to act in conjunction with the barons through their common interest in the ownership of land, had instead shown a tendency to join with the burgesses of the towns as the other representaive element in parliament. During the reign of Edward III we find these two elements sitting together apart from the clergy and nobles, and we also observe a gradual weakening of the social distinction between town and county members, although up to 1832 the latter had the exclusive enjoyment of certain ceremonial priveleges, such as being girt with a sword in the county court, and being entitled to wear spurs within the Chamber. They were paid higher fees for their attendance, and had heavier fines imposed on them for absence. There is also a tradition that in the early days, they monopolised the front benches of the assembly.'

`Among the Devon lawyers who represented their county, we find the names of Whiting, Percehay, William Cary, Dabernoun, Brightly and Luscott.'


Treaty of Northampton. Northern counties of England ceded to Scotland in return for peace.

24 January, York: Edward III marries Philippa, daughter of William II, Count of Hainaut.

2 June, Wanton: John de Drokensford, Bishop of Bath & Wells (1309-1329?), appoints Richard de Brankescombe [Branscombe - studies at Oxford 1331] as Rector of North Cadbury [to March 1333], as Robert de Clyfton is deceased. This appointment in the power of Margaret, widow of Nicholas de Moles, Lord of North Cadbury. [cf:1318, 1332]

Plympton joins Tavistock, Ashburton and Chagford as an official stannary town, where all tin mined in Devon was supposed to be assessed (and stamped?) before sale. This was to help it develop as a busy and flourishing market centre long before Plymouth caught up and eventually overtook it (by 1439) as the principle town in the region. Adam Branscombe was a Knight of the Shire representing this region, in Parliaments of this century. Also Thomas Branscombe towards the end of it, as a Member of the Commons for Plympton. Adam and Richard Branscombe owned land in the area, and Adam was appointed by the King to act on his behalf in several matters concerning Plymouth, this century.


Joan Branscombe, daughter of Richard. Her intended husband was William de Kemel [both minors - their guardian is John de Chuddelegh]. (EBMI) [cf:1327 William de Kemel]


15 June: Edward, later called the Black Prince, born to Edward III and Philippa.

October: Edward III successfully throws off his degrading dependence on his mother and Mortimer. While a council is being held at Nottingham, he entered the castle at night, through a subterranean passage, and made Mortimer a prisoner.

November: Edward executes Mortimer. He discreetly ignores his mother's liaison, and treats her with every respect, but her political influence is at an end.

`Edward III now began to rule as well as to reign. Young, ardent and active, he sought to restore England to the position it had acquired under Edward I. He resented the concession of independence made to Scotland by the Treaty of Northampton (1328), and the death of Robert I the Bruce in 1329 gave him the chance of retrieving his position. The new King of Scots, his brother-in-law David II, was a mere boy, and the Scottish barons who had been exiled by Bruce for their support of the English took advantage of the weakness of his rule to invade Scotland in 1332.'

`During the 1330's England gradually drifted into a state of hostility with France, for which the most obvious reason was the dispute over Gascony. Contributory causes were Philip VI's support of the Scots, Edward III's alliance with the Flemish cities, then on bad terms with their overlord, and the revival (1337) of Edward's claim, first made in 1328, to the French crown.'

Exeter guildhall built on present site, probably replacing an earlier building.


Richard de Branscombe and 5 others defend a bill of £200 served on them by Adam, Bishop of Worcester. [cf:1326 - Adam Orleton - a former royal servant elevated to a see by papal decree. Joined Isabella in France, as an exile, prior to 1326]

Thomas de Gurney arrested in Burgos, Castille, charged with sedition against the late king [Edward II] and conspiracy of his death, `and who fled the realm secretly.'

15 July: Richard de Brankescombe granted a licence to study for one year at the University of Oxford. The licence is renewed for one year on 10 July 1332; renewed again on 10 May 1334.


The Devonshire Lay Subsidy:

In the Hundred of Shebbear (Sheftbeare) [nr.Bideford], at Littleham, Richard de Brankescombe paid 40d.

In the Hundred of Colyton, Richard de Brankescomb paid 40d.

In the Hundred of Crediton, Walter de Brounescomb paid 12d.

Names in Dawlish at this time include: Adam Pyk, Edward, William and John Bearde, Alexander Brounyston [Branscombe?].

`At Westminster, in the month of St.Michael's Day: Agreement between Margaret de Moeles [Moles], querent by Ralph de Cretyngg in her place; Richard de Brankescomb and John le Jeu, deforciants. For 7 messuages, [houses] 240 acres of land, 15 acres of meadow, 23 shillings rent and a rent of a rose (?) in Durevyle, ... mpton, Hassokmore and Southpederton. Richard and John granted the said tenement to Margaret to hold for life, and after her decease to remain to Robert, son of William Weyland and Cecilia his wife, and the heirs of Robert. For this, Margaret gave Richard and John 100 marks of silver.'

10 July: Richard de Brankescombe's licence to study at Oxford University renewed for one year. [cf:1331, 1334]


21 March: Richard de Brankescombe, formerly rector of North Cadbury, Somerset [cf:1328], appointed rector of St.Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall, probably until his death (1349?). [cf:1341]

Approximate birth-year of William Langland, probably in the Malvern Hills. (Piers the Ploughman)

Edward, the Black Prince, aged 3. Already has the title Earl of Chester.

July: Battle of Halidon Hill. A personal victory for Edward III against the Scottish king David II, who fled to France. (Returned in 1341)

William de Burgh, Earl of Ulster is murdered. English power in Ireland thereafter waned. Many English were to leave in the face of Gaelic revival; others remained and adopted Irish customs and speech.


Approximate year the Gilbert family settled at Compton Castle, Marldon, Devon (4 miles west of Torquay). John, Humphrey and Adrian Gilbert were half-brothers to Walter Raleigh.

`They were at the heart of a movement which led England's naval defence against the Spaniards, and the country's imperial ambitions towards America.'

Mounted archers first appear in the records in 1334, but they were almost certainly used in the previous year. Mounted archers were paid 6d.or 4d.a day - at least double the rate of an ordinary infantryman.'

10 May: Richard de Brankescombe's licence to study at Oxford University renewed `until Michaelmas next'. [cf:1332, 1337]


Richard de Branscombe owes John de Sancto Paulo, clerk, 20 marks.

`In 1335 Hugh de Courteney was given the title Earl of Devon, of which he had long despaired.' Revived by peremptory crown mandate in favour of Hugh ... then heir-at-law (through Lady Mary his daughter) of William de Redvers of Vernon, sixth Earl. The Earldom had been created in 1101 by writ of the first Henry I in favour of Richard Fitz-Golbert, Sire de Redvers and was extinguished in 1293 on the death of Isabella de Fortibus. [forfeited by attainder of Thomas Courtenay, 1462]



26 September: Commission from the King to Richard de Branscombe.

27 September, The Tower of London: Richard de Branscombe represents Thomas de Courteney at Chancery.

18 October: Richard de Brankescombe's licence to study at Oxford University renewed for one year. [cf:1334, 1341]

Both before and after the emergences of the jurisdiction of the Chancery court, the medieval Chancellor, custodian, like the present-day Lord Chancellor, of the Sovereign's Great Seal, combined the duties of all the modern secretaries of State. Prominent among the administrative records of his department are the several series of Chancery Rolls, which contain copies of documents issued under the royal Great Seal.

`Until 1337, the highest rank in secular society was that of the earl, whose title was hereditary.'

`In 1337, the King rewarded his associates in the revolution by which he had seized power from Isabella and Mortimer. The four leading members of his household were all given earldoms: William de Montague became Earl of Salisbury; Robert Ufford, Earl of Suffolk; William Clinton, Earl of Huntingdon; William Bohun, Earl of Northampton.

William Clinton: A younger son of a man who had once sat as a knight of the shire, in parliament. (cf: 1381)

William Bohun: A younger son with few lands. But marriage to Elizabeth de Badlesmere brought him riches; not only was she an heiress in her own right, she had also acquired estates through her first marriage, to Edmund Mortimer.' (cf: 1347)

The Black Prince becomes the Earl of Cornwall. Bradninch, with other estates, is absorbed into the Duchy of Cornwall, to which it still belongs. [cf: 1342]

Bishop Grandisson of Exeter decrees that Ottery St.Mary shall become a collegiate church. Work commences to transform Bishop Walter Bronescombe's modest parish church into its present form, modelled upon Exeter Cathedral.

The Hundred Years' War. (to 1453) `It's thought that the V-sign originated with the archers of the Hundred Years' War ... the English archers used these two fingers to draw their bowstrings; the French threatened to cut off those of anyone they caught. The robust response was to wave the fingers at the enemy as if saying: "Here they are - come and get them!"'


Bishop Grandisson complains of the behaviour of Hugh de Courteney since his elevation to the earldom of Devon. He says the new earl was the telling the ignorant Devon folk that he was equal to the king, that he could make laws and judge all matters, and that in his person lay the wisdom of the realm.

Edward in Cologne is approached by a man calling himself William le Galeys, claiming to be his father. (cf: 1327)

Manor of Aller (Overaller, or Branscombe's Aller, Abbotskerswell) purchased by Richard Branscombe. (EBMI)



January: `Edward III assumes the title King of France. At first he may have done this to satisfy the Flemings, whose scruples in fighting their overlord, the French king, disappeared when they persuaded themselves that Edward was the rightful king of France. But his pretension to the French crown gradually became more important and the persistence with which he and his successors urged them, made stable peace impossible for more than a century. This was the struggle famous in history as The Hundred Years' War.'

June: Battle of Sluys, naval victory for Edward which temporarily destroyed the French navy, giving him control of the Channel.

`The fleet ... was not a royal navy: it was composed of the merchant ships of many different towns, temporarily conscripted to fight under a royal admiral. Cannon had as yet no place in warfare at sea. Still, as at Salamis, ships rammed and grappled each other, and the fight was conducted with swords, spears, and arrows, like a battle on land.'

July: Adam Branscombe elected to represent Devon at parliament. In 1346, Adam held lands at Tavifolys (probably Petertavy); possibly father or brother of Sir Richard Branscombe of Edge in Branscombe, a commissioner of array in 1377. Pole says he is the son of Richard Branscombe of Aller in Abbotskerswell; that he married Agnes, daughter and co-heiress of John Doddescomb and widow of William Gorges; that he was the father of Sir Richard Branscombe of Edge in Branscombe; that his daughter was the mother of Robert Britt, ancestor of Sir Thomas Wise. [Overaller, or Branscombe's Aller, Abbotskerswell, purchased by Richard Branscombe & his wife Ejidia in 1338]

26 July: Westminster. Payment to Adam de Branscombe, Knight of the Shire of Devon, for attending a Parliament at Westminster. 24 days @ 4s. a day. [attends again in 1348]

`The normal type of man to be chosen for shire representation in parliament was a knight of middle age, no longer particularly active in war, but knowledgeable in administration. Chaucer's picture of the franklin could easily be applied to a knight of the shire of an earlier generation:

`At sessions there was he lord and sire;
Full oft time he was knight of the shire.
An anlaas and a gipser al of silk
Heeng at his girdle, whit as morne milk.
A shirreve hadde he been, and a contour,
Was nowhere such a worthy vavasour.''

Parliament made a liberal grant of money for the war, but it was insufficient, and the Crown Jewels had to be pawned.

Richard Branscombe and wife Ejidia living at Abbotskerstwell. [Abbotskerswell - Overaller or Branscombe's Aller. Cf: 1289, a Richard & Ejidia Branscombe own land at Colyton]

`In Abbotskerswell, which is said to have belonged to Torr Abbey, is Aller. This barton, occupying one quarter of the parish, was in possession of Mr.Bealy's family for upward of 150 years.'

Abbotskerswell, Abbottes Cressewell, Carssewell Abbates

September: The Pope intervenes in the Hundred Years' War, and negotiates a truce.

Ghent: Edward assumes the title King of France. For the next 450 years the fleur de lys appears in the English royal coat-of-arms as evidence of Edward's claim, until George III removes it.

Geoffrey Chaucer born.

11 December, The Tower: Adam de Branscombe (appeals?) on behalf of Geoffrey Gilberd(t) of Devon, `imprisoned in the Town (sic) of London for certain contempts of the King.'


19 January: Adam de Branscombe goes security (? mainpernor) for Geoffrey Gilbert of Devon, detained in the Tower of London for contempt. (acquitted)

Black Death starts, in Asia.

William Edington in Edward's service. Nonetheless, the King turns increasingly to lay ministers, angry that church clerics claimed exemption from lay jurisdiction.

30 November: Richard de Brankescombe appointed rector of Lustleigh, Devon [to 1343], at the same time he is rector of St.Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall [cf:1333]. [cf:1343 - appointed rector of Diptford, Devon]

11 December: Richard de Brankescombe studying at Oxford University for a year. `Mag.(?) by 1341'. [cf:1337]


13 February, Langley: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Hugh de Courteney, Earl of Devon, and others, to investigate a claim by Hugh de Audele, Earl of Gloucester, that Richard de Branscombe and son Adam were among a long list of people who had re-taken by force cattle impounded at Lydford, Devon, for straying on the earl's land. Also at Bradenach. (Bradninch)

6 June, Westminster: Appointment of Richard Branscombe and others to seize lands and goods in the King's name, regarding piracy of a ship of Brittany; carrying, amongst other cargo, salt, to England, belonging to Maurice de Conquest of St.Mathieu, by 14 men of Plymouth (named). These 14 to be delivered to the King, as prisoners.

8 July, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, regarding list of alleged robbers, who carried away the goods of Henry Audit (or Dudyt), of Exeter.

16 October, Kennington: Appointment of Richard de Branscombe and others to seize goods and persons relating to the Maurice de Conquest case. (above)

18 November, Kennington: Appointment of Richard de Branscombe as surveyor of weights and measures, in Devon. The Receiver's Accounts for the City of Exeter in this year show a gift of wine worth 10d sent to Richard, "Justice of the Measures".

Edward III's rape of the Countess of Salisbury - a spectacular scandal of the time.


16 February: Richard de Brankescombe appointed rector of Diptford, Devon, probably until his death (1349?), in this year he also vacates the position of rector of Lustleigh, Devon [cf:1341].

16 May, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe and Adam de Branscombe appointed surveyors of weights and measures in Devon and Cornwall.

2 July: Petition to Pope at Villeneuve, Avignon, from Bishop John, on behalf of Richard de Branscombe (Brankescombe), rector of Dunsford; [nr.Exeter], M.A., Scholar in Civil Law. Asking for canonry and prebend of Salisbury. Granted. Papal letter to Richard, confirming this [source?]. Emden says the appointment was by `papal provision, with expectation of prebend, notwithstanding Diptford [cf:16 Feb]. [cf:1348]

Pope intervenes in The Hundred Years' War. Three-year truce signed. (? cf: 1340)

24 August, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe appointed attorney for Hugh de Courteney (Courteneye), Earl of Devon, '... going on pilgrimage beyond the seas with the King's protection and safe conduct.'

Black Prince made Prince of Wales.


12 January: Westminster. Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe, regarding the case of John Joly of Majorca, whose ship was pillaged in Dartmouth, during a voyage from Flanders to Majorca. Peter, King of Aragon has petitioned King Edward [III] on behalf of his subject. (cf: 1346)

20 July, Westminster: Commission of the Peace to Richard de Branscombe, pursuant to the Statutes of Winchester and Northampton.

17 November, Orsett: Richard de Brankescombe Sheriff of Devon, Escheator Devon & Cornwall, & Keeper of Exeter Castle. (EBMI) [on information of Bartholomew de Burghherssh, vacated because surrendered, and it was testified that he has not meddled with the office]

24 November, Hoxne: Mandate to Richard de Branscombe, as Escheator for Devon and Cornwall.

Gold first minted in England. `For accounting purposes, the system of pounds, shillings and pence was used, as well as the mark. This latter was worth 13s.4d., or two-thirds of a pound. Total currency in circulation varied from about £500, 000, to over £1 million. Only the elite of the nobility enjoyed incomes over £5000 a year. The wage of an ordinary soldier was 2d. a day.'

The Treasurer of the King's court presided over the Exchequer Court, so-called from the chequered cloth which covered the table of accounts, and which was marked out into columns for Pounds, shillings and pence. In Henry I's reign, (1100-1135) the Exchequer Court was held at Westminster. The court had two chambers:

  • The Exchequer of the Account, where the sheriffs of every shire made their financial reports, and where all legal problems were settled.
  • The Exchequer of Receipt, where all monies were paid, weighed and checked twice a year, at Easter and Michaelmas.

The sheriffs handed over to the Exchequer the royal dues from their shires; dues from the royal demesnes, from wardships and marriages, fines from the royal courts, dues from towns for the right to hold markets, temporalities from vacant sees, and certain customs duties.

`In 1344 the three estates in Parliament were informed by Edward [III] of a breach of the truce by the King of France and asked to "show their opinion". The advice of Lords and Commons was "to end the war either by battle or honourable peace" ... Clergy and Commons voted subsidies and in 1345 Parliament authorized the King to require all landowners to serve in person or supply a substitute or a monetary equivalent. A man with £5 of income from land or rents was to supply an archer, a £10 income supplied a mounted spearman, £20 supplied two of these, income over £25 supplied a man-at-arms, meaning usually a squire or knight. Towns and shires were required to raise a given number of archers, and the system as a whole was to be administered by sheriffs and county officials.'


20 January: Licence to Hugh de Courteney (Courteneye), Earl of Devon, to enfeoff William de Chebesey and Richard de Branscombe of the manor of Broadwindsor, and the hundred of the same manor, held in chief, and for them to re-grant the same to him, Margaret his wife, and his heirs. By fine of 5 marks. (Issued in Devon).

4 May, Reading: Adam Branscombe, son of Richard, owed £200 by John de Cobham of Kent, knight. (cancelled on payment)

22 November, Buckingham: Richard de Branscombe transacting land in Colyton.

Arrival of Aztecs in central Mexico. Foundation of capital, Mexico City.

Black Prince dies, at Aldworth Castle.

William Edington becomes Treasurer to Edward III (to 1356).

Lydiard Millicent is in the diocese of Salisbury, where Richard Branscombe is a canon.


7 January, The Tower: Commission to Richard de Branscombe, Hugh de Courteney, John de Chiveston, and Geoffrey Gilbert, to investigate malefactors and disturbances of the peace in Dartmouth. Thieves are said to have `broke by force and arms a two-deck cog, part-owned by John Joly of Majorca, called St.John the Evangelist'. The cog was `laden with divers goods to the value of 500 pounds.' Joly is claiming damages of 1000 pounds.

`The medieval cog which evolved for trading [among the Northern peoples] was single-masted, with rounded bow and stern. It was a versatile ship, capable of sailing in deep or shallow water, which could take the ground safely if stranded or when unloading cargo, and which was sufficiently manoeuvrable under sail in tideways. It was round-bottomed and had the high-sided profile which made it a profitable cargo carrier. More efficient ships [than the Mediterranean oar-propelled galleys] allowed the Northern merchants to trade in bulk goods. The problems facing them were similar to those of the Venetians: how to organize the commerce, how to suppress or at least contain piracy, and how to minimise losses by storm and stranding. To surmount these problems the merchants and mariners of the Baltic and North Sea evolved the Hanseatic League, a commercial and legal confederation of city-states which subscribed to the same code of trade practices for their mutual benefit.'

July: `Accompanied by his eldest son, fifteen-year-old Edward, Prince of Wales, [Edward III] set sail for Normandy with 4000 men-at-arms and 10, 000 archers, plus a number of Irish and Welsh foot-soldiers. (Another force, sent earlier on the longer voyage to Bordeaux, had already engaged French forces along the frontiers of Guienne.)'

20 July, Windsor: Commission to Adam de Branscombe and others regarding accusations that Simon, Abbot of Torre, and others listed, embezzled taxes.

Commission to Richard de Branscombe and others, to investigate the circulation of counterfeit king's writs, which Hervey Tyrel, Sheriff of Devon, and others, are thought to have forged.

8 August, Windsor: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, to investigate alleged poaching on lands owned by the Earl of Devon, Hugh de Courteney, at Norton, Dartmouth.

20 August, , Westminster: Edward III revokes a commission to Adam de Branscombe, to investigate what levies were paid to three assessors of sheaves, lambs and fleeces tax in Devon.

26 August: Battle of Crécy & Seige of Calais. The capture of Calais (1347), gave Edward an important bridgehead on the Continent. Calais was to remain under English control until 1558.

8 October, Windsor: Walter de Branscombe witness of a deed signed in Wodestrete [Wood Street] London.

Adam de Brankescomb (held?) land at Tavifolys and Tamerton Folyet, in the honour of Plympton, hundred of Rouburgh, Devon.. It is held (now?) by Thomas Gorgys. [Tamerton Foliot on the Tamar near Plymouth]

Ricardo de Brankescomb (owned?) land at Stoke, in the hundred of Rouburgh [Stoke Damarel], says Johannes de Kemel, who (now holds it?).

`Stoke Damerel: Stoke, separated from Stonehouse by a small creek, bears the adjunct of the Damarell family, its hereditary lords from the Conquest to Edward II. In the 19th. year of Edward III (1346), Richard Branscombe owned it. He was succeeded by the Britt family, whose properties were brought by marriage to the Wise family.' [cf: 1360, 1423, Branscombe/Britt/Wise]

William Edington the King's Treasurer (1345-1356), appointed Bishop of the see of Winchester, one of the richest in England, on intercession of king with the Pope.

Mention of a John Ralegh de Brunescombe, in this year. (EPNI)


10 June: Richard de Branscombe appointed collector of wool for Devon. England was the chief wool-producing country in the fourteenth century. It formed the basis of commercial prosperity of the time. It was mostly exported to Flanders.

The king placed customs duties - it was a great source of royal revenue.

To facilitate this, the wool had to pass through certain towns, called "Staple Towns". The chief wool-exporters had combined into an organisation known as "The Merchants of the Staple".

7 August, Reading: Richard de Branscombe excused from wool-collector duties, as he is attendant on the affairs of William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton, at that earl's request. (Bohun is engaged in war with France) [cf: 1337]

`Waldene, Hereford, was a Bohun family centre.'

October, Messina, Sicily: The first plague victims arrive on a ship from a Black Sea port in the Crimea.

13 November: `Commission of oyer and terminer to Richard de Braunkescombe and others on a complaint of Master Richard de Braylegh, dean of St.Peter, Exeter, and parson of the church of Coleton (Colyton), that Peter de Ralegh, knight, Henry Batyn [cf: 1307] and others... coming armed, contrary to the statutes of the peace to the chapel of St.Theobald, Coleton [Colyton]... and by grievous threats demanding, nay extorting, toll and other unwonted customs from men coming to the chapel for the cause of pilgrimage... and from others selling victuals to the pilgrims in the cemetery, and sanctuary of the chapel... have by force prevented those and others who would have come as pilgrims from doing their oblations and other pious works, and have carried away his goods and assaulted his men and servants, whereby he has lost the profit and emolument of the said oblations and the service of his men and servants for a great time.' (Patent Rolls)

Letters Patent, so called from being issued "open", with the Sovereign's Great Seal pendant, announce royal acts of the most diverse kinds, including grants and leases of land, appointments to offices, licences and pardons, denizations [naturalisation] of aliens, and presentations to ecclesiastical benefices. From 1516, the sort of royal grant that had hitherto been made by charter took the form of letters patent. (P.R.O., London)

22 November, Westminster: Lands of the late John de Challons, chivaler, in the county of Chester, given in trust to Richard de Branscombe, until the coming-of-age of John's heir. [cf:1353 - Sir Robert de Challons married Joan de Beauchamp, sister of Elizabeth, who married Richard Branscombe, and then William Fortescue. It is possible that this Richard Branscombe's father, Richard, married Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp, father of Joan & Elizabeth above]

`Edward III's eldest son was dubbed "The Black Prince" in the sixteenth century, possibly because he was thought to have worn black armour.'

28 November, Westminster: `Commission to John de Ralegh of Beaudeport, [Bridport?] Richard de Brauncecombe and Thomas de Holbrok, reciting that the King has received a lachrymose complaint of the men of the town of Buddelegh, Devon, which is of the ancient demesne of the crown, shewing that, whereas their town is situated by the high sea and they are miserably depressed by the continual safeguard thereof against attacks by the enemy's galleys and ships of war, and further three ships and twelve boats of the town, with a hundred and forty one men, merchants, mariners and others of the wealthier men of the town, with wine and other merchandise and goods in them, since Easter last have been captured by the French upon the sea, and taken to France, where some have been killed, others have been denuded of all their goods for their ransom, and the rest remain prisoners there, having nothing to redeem their life with because their goods have been plundered, which said men used to bear the greater part of the charges of the town as well in the payment of the tenths (because it is of the ancient demesne) as of wool and other charges, the collectors of the said wool and tenths nevertheless grievously distrain the simple and poor men remaining in the town to pay the tenth and wool in full, to wit the portions of the said dead men as well as their own, whereby some leaving their tenements and houses seek their food elsewhere as mendicants, others live on their friends, and the rest residing in the town are in no wise able to pay the tenth and wool, and praying that those now resident there may be assessed only according to the quantity of their own goods; and appointing them to make inquisition in the said county and certify him of the whole truth therein.'

Margaret Branscombe a nun at Polsloe.

`Nunneries were a refuge from the world for some, the fate of others whose families offered them as gifts to the Church, the choice of a few with a religious calling, but generally available only to those who came with ample endowment.'


January: Adam de Brankescombe attends parliament as a Knight of the Shire of Devon.

23 January: Westminster. Order relieving Richard de Branscombe of responsibility for lands owned by the late John de Challons. [cf:1347 & 1353 - Sir Robert de Challons married Joan de Beauchamp, sister of Elizabeth, who married Richard Branscombe, and then William Fortescue. It is possible that this Richard Branscombe's father, Richard, married Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp, father of Joan & Elizabeth above]

13 February: Papal letter from Avignon confirms appointment of Richard de Brankescombe as a canon of Salisbury. [cf:1349]

20 February, Westminster: Appointment of Richard de Branscombe, Adam de Branscombe and others, to arrest persons presenting appeals in derogation of the judgement of the Court of Common Bench whereby the King recovered his presentation of the vicarage of the church of Yealmpton (Yalmpton), against John de Flisco, prebendary of Teignton in the church of St.Mary, Salisbury, and bring them before the Council.

4 April, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, in regard to counterfeit documents, and forgers claiming to be officers of the late Sheriff of Devon.

18 May: Appointment of Richard de Branscombe and others, to bring an outlaw before the King.

`In the early summer, two ships hailing from Gascony sailed into harbour at Melcombe Regis in Dorset, bringing with them the Black Death.'

`The date of the initial outbreak is given as just before the 24th of June, by the best chronicle evidence. But records show that the Sheriff of Devon [Richard de Branscombe?] failed to appear at the Exchequer on the 15th of June, because of illness. None of his staff could take his place, as they had all died of the plague.'

During the ensuing year, an estimated one-third of England's population died. There was a general scarcity of labour as a result, and a rise in prices. The Statutes of Labourers, 1349-51, attempted to regulate wages and prices. There was a decline in villeinage; a corresponding growth in tenant-farmers (copyholders), and free labourers, and there was a spread of enclosure and sheep-farming.

The resultant breakdown of the feudal system and the commutation of the serf's labour services into money rents was the first stage in a process accellerated by enclosures and engrossment (the combining of many small farms into a few large ones) in Tudor times, and ending with the Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century, whereby the English landed class turned lordship into ownership, becoming landlords instead of feudal lords. This was the most important change in the whole of English history, as it set in place a freedom to determine land use which was vital to the Industrial Revolution.

2 July, Westminster: Commission of the Peace to Richard and Adam de Branscombe.

18 July, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, to investigate a case of burglary claimed by John Jullen of Exeter.

Unofficial war on Continent continues, led by "Free Companies"

Richard de Brankescomb & his son Walter mentioned in enfeoffment of lands at Wykyngesheghs, Southleigh. (EPNI)

Probable year of birth of Thomas Beauchamp of Ryme, Dorset, [brother-in-law of Richard Branscombe junior from 1353].


20 April: Richard de Brankescombe appointed to the prebendary of Farringdon, in the see of Salisbury cathedral. He is already a canon of Salisbury, and rector of St.Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall [cf:1333], Diptford, Devon [cf:1343] and possibly Dunsford, Devon [cf:1343]. He probably died in this year.

28 March, Saturday: Orders conferred by William Edington, Bishop of Winchester, (1346-66) in the chapel of Farnham Castle, Saturday when sitientes is sung (Saturday before Passion Sunday).

Subdeacons: Walter de Brankesombe, rector of St.Mary, Weld. (Wield/Wyle/Welde/Wile) [Whitechurch, Diocese of Winchester, Dorset].

6 June, Saturday: Orders conferred by the bishop in the chapel of the Hospital of St.Mary, Sandown, Ember Saturday, vigil of Trinity Sunday.

Priests: Walter de Brankescombe, rector of St.Mary, Weld. [see above]

`William Edington, Bishop of Winchester, served (Edward III) loyally both as treasurer and chancellor. He was described by one chronicler as a friend of the common people, who by hard work did much to save them from royal extortions, and achieved much for the King and the realm.'

`Edington is on the northern edge of Salisbury Plain, three and a half miles east of Westbury. The character of the man responsible for having the parish church of St.Mary, St.Catherine & All Saints rebuilt appears only in his building works here, and at Winchester cathedral: otherwise he is a faceless bureaucrat. William Edington, presumably born here, was in Edward III's service by 1341, and was his treasurer from 1345-1356.'

16 August, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, following a complaint by Geoffrey Hamelyn that he was assaulted at Dunsterre, Somerset.

First Statute of Labourers. (cf: 1351, 1357)

Edward III had a particular devotion to Saint George. [cf: 1089, 303] On St.George's Day in 1349, he founds the Order of the Garter, placing it under his patronage, and dedicating to him the chapel of the order at Windsor. From this time he is regarded as the patron saint of England. By 1977 there are 126 churches dedicated to him, in England.

Richard de Branscombe a freehold tenant at Southleigh. (EBMI)


28 January, Westminster: Commission of the Peace to Richard de Branscombe and others, of Devon.

25 February, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, regarding the alleged maltreatment of the King's Sargeant-at-Arms, in Exeter. The Receiver's Accounts for the City of Exeter show two gifts of wine this year to Richard, "Justice of Oyer & Terminer". Also to John Dynham, knight, John Ralegh, John Loterel, William de Aumarle & Roger Pyperel. Seven and a half gallons - 15s.

6 December, Westminster: Commission to Richard de Branscombe and others, to find those who have shipped wool, wool-fells and hides from Devon, "not coketed [cocket = customs house certificate] or customed", and the quantities so shipped.

Main colonisation fleet sails from Tahiti to Aotearoa. Classic Maori period begins, on north island. Earthwork fortifications.

Manor(s?) of Compton and Eke Brokeland [Eggbuckland], Roborough hundred, go(es) to Walter de Branscombe and his wife, Margery.

Polwhele says buckland refers to one of the two traditional Saxon ways of land tenure; oral tradition, or folkland, and written evidence, or bookland. [Eggbuckland = Edge Bookland?]

10 April, Westminster: Order to Thomas Cary, Escheator of Somerset. Richard de Brankescombe given wardship, for Thomas, brother and heir of John de Beauchamp of Ryme, of a manor at North Cadbury, Somerset, late of William de Botereux, who held in chief, rendering 50 marks yearly in the wardrobe. Also two parts of land in Bokerel and Wobourneford, Devon. [Richard marries the widow of John, Margaret, in 1353. Richard's son, Richard, marries his step-sister, Elizabeth. cf: Richard de Brankescombe, rector of North Cadbury 1328 - probably died 1349, & Robert de Beauchamp 1311/12]

22 October, Westminster: Wardship to Richard de Branscombe of more lands of the late John de Beauchamp of Rym and his wife Margaret, at Teynghervy. [cf:10 April]

Possible date of manufacture of east window at St.John the Baptist, Buckland, Tasmania (via Battle Abbey?)

The Pride of Life; a morality play fragment from about this year, preserved in a manuscript of c.1400-25

`The evidence for the system of restrictions, freedom from which constituted the privileges of the franchise, derives largely from the period before 1350, since it seems clear that even in the early fourteenth century, and increasingly thereafter, the rigour of the mechanism of enforcement was already in decline. This decline was not in fact caused by the economic changes of the middle of the century, but simply by the increasing complexity of trade in the period. This is reflected in the growing infrequency of prosecutions of individuals by the mayor and bailiffs for infringements of the freedom, which are much less common in the 1340s than they had been 50 years earlier.'

`The monks in Chaucer's England were wordly and well-to-do, living lives of sauntering comfort in the monastery, or roaming the land dressed like laymen, to hunt game or look after their estates. They were not numerous - probably not more than the 5000 at which they were estimated at the time of their Dissolution in the reign of Henry VIII. But, having themselves abondoned the manual labour practised by their predecessors, they maintained armies of servants to carry on the daily routine of their great establishments ... The monks performed in person their obligations of prayers and masses for the living and the dead, their patrons and their founders. They gave daily alms in money and broken meats to the poor, and showed a lavish hospitality to travellers, many of whom were wealthy and exacting guests ... The monasteries had by this time accumulated vast endowments in land, tithes, appropriated churches, treasures, and clerical patronage - enough to cause them to be bitterly envied as idle drones, living at the expense of the impoverished kingdom. The Commons declared that a third of the wealth of England was in the hands of the Church, most of it belonging to the regular clergy. And yet the monks were constantly in financial straits, sometimes through their magnificent architectural zeal for enlarging and beautifying the abbey and its church, sometimes through sheer mismanagement ... The Black Death hit the monastic landlord as hard as the lay. The Italian and English money-lenders, who has succeeded the Jews, charged just as high interest, and the monks were reckoned an easy prey. The monasteries often speculated in a form of life annuity called a `corrody', whereby the abbey borrowed money in return for an undertaking to keep the creditor for the rest of his life - and often he lived disastrously long ... There were occasional scandals in monasteries, and the orthodox Gower was as certain as Wyclif that the monks were unchaste. But if allowance is made for the low standards of all classes in that age and for the peculiar difficulties of the celibate clergy, there is no reason to think that the monasteries were wonderfully bad in that respect. Certainly the ascetic impulse of former ages had died away, and the monks were no longer famous for strict adhesion to their rule. The ordinary monk lived luxuriously by the standards of that age, dressed smartly, and was fond of good food. The former restrictions on his meat diet had been relaxed. He was fond of field sports - but so were other men. It was not the sinfulness but the uselessness of the monk on which the world commented most. The worst that Langland could say of him was that when outside the cloister he appeared as:

A rider, a roamer by streets
A leader of lovedays
[manor-court sittings]
and a land buyer
A pricker on a palfrey from manor to manor,
An heap of hounds at his arse as he a lord were.

And the poet looks forward to a day which indeed came in the fullness of time -

Then shall the abbot of Abingdon
and all his issue for ever
Have a knock of a King and incurable the wound.

Already it was to the kingly power that Church reformers, baffled by Pope and bishops, were beginning to turn their hopes. Parliament was already demanding a large disendowment of the Church, which had swallowed so much land from countless generations of benefactors and gave not an acre back. But the time had not yet quite come when the general conscience considered that lay power could dispose of the sacred endowments of the Church. The omnicompetence of the King in Parliament was not yet an established constitutional doctrine. The parallel authorities of Church and State, of Convocation and Parliament still represented the actual balance of society.'

`The sense of sin induced by the plague found surcease in the plenary indulgence offered by the Jubilee Year of 1350 to all who in that year made the pilgrimage to Rome. Originally established by Boniface VIII in 1300, the Jubilee was intended to make an indulgence available to all repentant and confessed sinners free of charge - that is, if they could afford the journey to Rome. Boniface intended the Jubilee Year as a centennial event, but the first one had been such an enormous success, attracting a reported two million visitors to Rome in the course of the year, that the city, impoverished by the loss of the papacy to Avignon, petitioned Clement VI to shorten the interval to fifty years ... He complied with Rome's request in a Bull of 1343 ... In 1350, pilgrims thronged the roads to Rome, camping around fires at night. Five thousand people were said to enter or leave the city every day, enriching the householders, who gave them lodging despite shortages of food and forage and the dismal state of the city's resources. Without its pontiff the Eternal City was destitute, the three chief basilicas in ruins, San Paolo toppled by [an] earthquake, the Lateran half-collapsed. Rubble and ruin filled the streets, the seven hills were silent and deserted, goats nibbled in the weed-grown cloisters of deserted convents.'


15 March: Commission of the Peace to Richard de Branscombe.

Second Statute of Labourers. (cf: 1349, 1357)

25 November: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe and others, regarding evildoers who came armed to Torre Moun [Tormohun], Devon, and broke by night the close, church and treasury of the abbey, and carried away chalices, vestments, books and ornaments and goods of the abbot. For 20s to be paid to the King. (John, Abbot of Torre Moun)

The accounts of the Receiver of Exeter show the gift of 13 gallons of wine, costing 8s 8d to Richard Branscombe and Richard de Bortone `at the assizes in Lent before their crossing to Cornwall, and after, to and determine on occasions.'



12 February, Westminster: Commission of the Peace to Richard de Branscombe.

20 July, Westminster: Commission of Oyer and Terminer to Richard de Branscombe.

Richard de Branscombe marries Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp of Ryme (Dorset). (EBMI)

20 November, Westminster: Order to Richard Hody, escheator in Devon, to assign dower to Margaret, late wife of John de Beauchamp, tenant-in-chief, who has married Richard de Branscombe by the king's licence, and to Richard, of the lands that belonged to John at his death, including a third part of the manor of Woburneford, Devon.

Talaton: The manor of Estcot. Domina Lucia de Estcote, a widow, dwelled in this place in 1249, and was succeeded by Baldwyn de Leshe, her son. The land was afterwards possessed by the family of Beauchamp, and after the death of Thomas Beauchamp [after 8 July, 1390? ], fell to the issue of his two sisters Joan, wife of Sir Robert Challons, and Elizabeth, first married to Richard Branscombe, and afterwards to William Fortescue. Richard Challon bought both their parts. [cf:1353 - Sir Robert de Challons married Joan de Beauchamp, sister of Elizabeth, who married Richard Branscombe. It is possible that this Richard Branscombe's father, Richard, married Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp, father of Joan & Elizabeth above, in which case he married his step-sister. For Escot also cf:1227/1608 Sir Walter Yonge/1808 destroyed by fire]

Approximate year Ibot de Brannscombe marries Richard Champernowne of Modbury. (IGI) [poss Sheriff of Devon before Richard Branscombe?]

William Branscombe, Dominican Friar of Oxford Convent in 1382, is ordinated as a sub-deacon in this year.


Oxford: `one of the periodic town-gown riots ... exploded in such fury, with the use of swords, daggers and even bows and arrows, that it ended in a massacre of students and the closing of the university until the King took measures to protect its liberties.'


11 July, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe described in Close Rolls as a "guardian of the peace and justice" and "of oyer and terminer", in Devon. Is ordered to send documents to the King, under his seal.

29 October, Woodstock: Richard de Branscombe witness of a deed signed at Wodebury [Woodbury], Devon.

20 December, Westminster: Commission to Richard de Branscombe as a justice of Devon, with others.

Black Prince burns Carcassonne, as part of his far-reaching strategy to defend the frontiers of English Gascony.

Edward III had certain anti-clerical instincts he resented the claims of churchmen to be exempt from lay jurisdiction. It was this that had caused him to turn to lay ministers in 1341. In 1355 he took the part of Blanche Wake, Henry of Grosmont's sister, in her feud with the Bishop of Ely. When Thoresby and Edington were remiss in seizing the bishop's temporalities, Edward wrote angrily to them:

`We are of the opinion that had the matter concerned a great peer of the land other than a bishop, you would have acted differently.'

`On the face of it, popular demands coincided with the King's prejudices to produce anti-papal legislation. The reality however was more complex.'


10 January, Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Richard de Branscombe witness of a deed signed at Ridelcomb, Devon. Attached is a list of properties in Bokerel and Oulescombe assigned to Richard Branncecomb on his marriage to Margaret, widow of the late John de Beauchamp of Rym, tenant-in-chief, made up at Honiton on the Monday after the Purification.

14 November: Richard de Branscombe witness of a deed signed at Whiteford, Devon.

Richard de Branscombe a justice in Devon.


5 February, Westminster: Commission to Richard de Branscombe and others, to be justices in Devon.

12 November, Westminster: Commission to Richard de Branscombe in Devon.

26 November, Westminster: Order to Sheriff of Southampton to pay Richard de Branscombe in Devon 10 pounds for the current year, and 10 pounds for the past year, for being a justice, appointed to keep the statutes of labourers, servants and craftsmen.

Edward's Statutes of Labourers arose from the shortage of labour after one-third of England's population had died, in the Black Death of 1348-9.

This led to a spiral of wages and prices, and large areas of land went uncultivated. The first statute regulated wages, which were pegged at the pre-1349 rate. The second forbad over-award payments, and regulated prices at pre-1349 levels. Both were difficult to enforce.


3 November, Westminster: Edward appoints Richard de Branscombe as Sheriff of Devon. [to 10 December, 1361]


12 January: The King orders John de Ferrers, James de Cobham, Walter de Brankescombe and the Sheriff of Devon [Richard de Branscombe] to furnish sixty archers to accompany the King by Sunday in mid-Lent. This is one of 27 similar commissions.

1 October: Richard Branscombe appointed Sheriff of Devon & Keeper of Exeter Castle. Izacke says for three years. Polwhele also.

According to Dalton Clifford, Sir Richard is the last of a line of three Branscombes who were High Sheriffs of Devon. He was "a man well learned in the laws of the land", and held the office on four occasions for a total of six years between 1359 and 1375. [Polwhele says 5 years, 3 occasions]

6 October, Sandwich: Licence for Hugh de Courteney, Earl of Devon, to enfeoff Richard de Branscombe and another, of the manor of Broadwindsor (Brodewyndsore), and the hundred and manor of Morton held of the King in chief. (Thomas de Courteney - heir.) [cf: Mortesthorne, 1288 & Branscombe of Mortham - 1620. Broadwindsor is in Dorset, on the B3164, near Bettiscombe]


15 February, Westminster: Grant, for 100s. paid to the King by Richard de Branscombe and Robert atte Weye, to them, of the marriage of Richard, son and heir of Walter le Wolf, who held in chief the King's ward, and so from heir to heir. (The king was selling them the wardship and marriage rights?) [cf: 1361]

13 October, Westminster: Walter and Margery de Branscombe have lands at Compton Giffard, Plymouth, which are to go to their daughter Emeline, and her husband John Chambernoun, on the deaths of Walter and Margery. Should John and Emeline die without male issue, the land is to go to John, son of Henry Sampson. If he dies without an heir, it is to switch to the heirs of Margery's family. [Walter, son of Richard & ? of Edge Barton?]

3 November, Westminster: A dispute between Richard and Margaret de Branscombe, and Master Roger de Boggsworthy, parson of the church of Bukyngton, with John de Galmyngton, parson of the church of Stokereveres, regarding ownership of the manor of Stoke Damarel (Devonport). It's agreed that Richard gave it as a gift to Roger. Roger and John now grant it back to Richard and Margaret for their lives. At their deaths, it will pass to Richard, son of Adam de Branscombe, and Elizabeth his wife [grandson of Richard & ? of Edge Barton]. It will then be passed down through his male heirs, forever. Should Richard die without an heir, it will go to John, son of Richard and Margaret. If he dies without an heir, it will go to his brother, Walter. In case Walter dies without an heir, it will pass to his other brother, Hugh. If Hugh dies without an heir, it will be subject to a further judgement. [Richard, John, Walter, Hugh & Adam - five sons of Richard & ? Branscombe of Edge Barton]

21 November, Westminster: Fine Rolls mention Richard de Branscombe, Sheriff of Devon and Keeper of Exeter Castle.

3 December: Richard de Branscombe and wife Margaret (Beauchamp - m.1353), make a will designating [Richard's] grandson Richard, son of Adam, as the heir to Edge Barton. Thence to their own son John [brother of Adam]. If John had no heirs, Edge Barton was to go to Walter, brother of John. If he had no heirs, Richard's third son Hugh was to get the property. [Richard, his son Adam and his son Richard, were all sheriffs of Devon & M.P.s. Margaret was Richard's second wife. Richard seems to have died in about 1376, after which Edge passed to the Wadhams. Adam married Agnes Doddescombe, but had no sons]

Richard & Margaret Branscombe's sons: John, Walter, Hugh. (EBMI) [what about Adam & Richard?]

Richard Branscombe sen., his son Adam, and his son Richard jun. were all sheriffs in Devon, and members of parliament. (?)

Elizabeth & Richard Branscombe, son of Adam [& Agnes Doddescombe?], own land at Stoke Damerel. (EBMI)

`Doddescombleigh [Doddiscombsleigh] was the inheritance and dwelling of Sir Ralph Doddescombe, knight, in the days of Henry III. This patrimony ended in the days of Edward III, in John Doddescombe, which by Cecily his wife, had issue of 5 daughters. One, Agnes, married Adam Branscombe. From Agnes, by Britt, Thomas Wise esquire is descended. Not any of their lineage at this time enjoys it, says Sir W.Pole. [Pole, cf: 1635. Also cf: 1346, 1423, Branscombe/Britt/Wise]

Treaty of Bretigny: King John of France's ransom is 3 million golden crowns. (King John dies before it's paid)

William de Bohun, Earl of Northampton, dies.

Butters claims the Wadham family takes over [buys?] Edge Barton from the Branscombes, in this year. He says they moved from their manor of Wadham at Knowestone, north Devon. [cf: 1327 - Hoskins]

`In Chaucer's England we see for the first time the modern mingling with the medieval, and England herself beginning to emerge as a distinct nation, no longer a mere oversea extension of Franco-Latin Europe. The poet's own works register the greatest modern fact of all, the birth and general acceptance of our language, the Saxon and French words happily blended at last into `English tongue' which `all understanden', and which is therefore coming into use as the vehicle of school teaching and of legal proceedings. There were indeed various provincial dialects of English, besides the totally distinct Welsh and Cornish. And some classes of society had a second language: the more learned of the clergy had Latin, and the courtiers and well-born had French, no longer indeed their childhood tongue but a foreign speech to be learnt, after the scole of Stratford atte Bow.'


20 June, Westminster: The king hears that Richard de Branscombe and Robert atte Weye sold the marriage of Richard Wolf (cf: 1360) to Simon atte Pitte, who sold it to the prior of Pilton, who married the heir in sanguine villani, whereby he is disparaged. (cf: Statute of Merton). Because the heir, Richard, is under age, the King appoints four named people to arrest the heir, and keep him safely until the statute in satisfied.

Richard Branescombe becomes Abbot of Newenham (to 1391). [a Cistercian house nr Axminster. The (monastery?) was founded in 1245 by William de Mohun]


10 July, Westminster: Commission to Richard de Branscombe and others, to investigate why a surplus of £175.5.10d from a tax for the defence of the realm, has not been re-distributed (paid in?), by the collectors.

10 October, Plympton: Gift of £10 to Richard de Branscombe, for levying £587.12.10d out of the estreats of the session of Sir William de Shareshull and his fellows, late justices of "traillebaston" of Devon. Richard referred to as sheriff.

Chief Justice Shareshull left office in 1361. The Commissions of Trailbaston; were named after the staves carried by criminals, and were the result of measures introduced by the Royal Justices in 1306, to combat a breakdown in law and order They were not popular, as a contemporary poem shows: -

`They take 40 shillings for my ransom,
and the sheriff comes for his fee,
so that he will not put me in prison.
Now, consider Lords, is this right?'

Black Prince given the inaugural title of Prince of Aquitaine.

`Hugh Courteney, Earl of Devon, together with Richard de Branscombe, "high sheriff", Henry de la Pomeroy, etc., with the consent of the county, and by the King's mandate, gave orders to Robert Piperel and Thomas de Affeton, collectors of the assessments, to pay Henry Percehay and Nicholas Whiting, knights, £16 for their charges in serving the county as knights of the shire, in the parliament held at Westminster.' [Watkin says this was 15 June 1361]


The great gatehouse of St.Alban's Abbey is completed.

`In England,according to a law of 1363, a merchant worth £1000 was entitled to the same dress and meals as a knight worth £500, and a merchant worth £200 the same as a knight worth £100. Doubled wealth in this case equalled nobility. Efforts were also made to regulate how many dishes could be served at meals, what garments and linens could be accumulated for a trousseau, how many minstrels at a wedding party. In the passion for fixing and stabilizing identity, prostitutes were required to wear stripes, or garments turned inside-out. Servants who imitated the long pointed shoes and hanging sleeves of their betters were severely disapproved, more because of their pretentions than because their sleeves slopped into the broth when they waited on table and their fur-trimmed hems trailed in the dirt. "There was so much pride amongst the common people", wrote the English chronicler Henry Knighton, "in vying with one another in dress and ornaments that it was scarce possible to distinguish the poor from the rich, the servant from the master, or a priest from other men." ... The sumptuary laws proved unenforceable; the prerogative of adornment, like the drinking of liquor in a later century, defied prohibition.'

Sir Richard Turberville, second husband of Cecily Beauchamp of Hatch, dies. [her first husband was Roger Seymour]


10 December, Saturday, Feast of St.Thomas the Apostle, Crewkerne, Somerset: Richard Branscombe is mentioned in the case of the King v Matthew Gournay, knight, who incurred forfeiture by crossing the sea and engaging in wars wherefore he'd been inhibited. Matthew had evidently given £1000 of gold under security of a statute merchant, to John de Bellocampo [John de Beauchamp of Hatch] of Somerset, Lord of Haeche, possibly in 1360. John had died, leaving the money at his treasury in Stoke-under-Hamedon, minus 100 marks of gold he had lent Richard Branscombe, who repaid them after his death to John's widow. [John de Beauchamp left one son who died in 1362 without issue. He was succeeded at Merifield by his sister Cecily, who married Roger Seymour and, after his demise, Richard Turbeville. Richard Branscombe married Margaret, widow of John de Beauchamp of Ryme, in 1353]

26 December, Windsor: Commission to Walter Branscombe of Plymouth to police illegal shipping movements in his area.


12 July, London: A reference to a letter of protection issued by the Black Prince to Walter Branscombe, for his crops, beasts, hay and oats, carriage, and all his other goods, that none of them be taken by the Prince's ministers in Cornwall.

27 July, Windsor Castle: Isabella, daughter of Edward III & Philippa, marries Enguerrand de Coucy, a hostage for the King of France.


15 February, Westminster: Commission to Walter de Branscombe and others to arrest Richard Mewy and deliver him to the sheriff of Devon. (Richard de Branscombe from 16 November)

William Edington, Bishop of Winchester, dies.

16 November: Richard de Branscombe appointed Sheriff of Devon & Keeper of Exeter Castle. [to 26 November 1367].


24 January, Westminster: Relinquishing of commission to Walter de Branscombe to police Plymouth shipping for illegalities. (cf: 1364). Replaced by someone else.

5 July: Commission to Richard de Branscombe, Sheriff of Devon, and others, to seize the lands and goods of John Uphull, clerk, and bring him to Marshalsea prison.

26 November, Westminster: Mention in Fine Rolls of Richard de Branscombe, Sheriff of Devon and Keeper of Exeter Castle.

The "fines" from which the Fine Rolls take their name were payments made for writs, grants, licences, pardons etc., of various kinds, most of them under the Great Seal of the Sovereign, relating to matters in which the Crown had a financial interest. The documents enrolled include writs to enquire post mortem, writs to the Barons of the Exchequer to assign terms for the payment of debts due to the Crown and to cause fines to be taken from prisoners for their release, licences to marry, appointments of sheriffs and other royal officers who would be required to account at the Exchequer, writs to remove causes from inferior tribunals into the King's courts, etc..

Izacke says Richard Branscombe is Sheriff of Devon for two years, from this year. Polwhele agrees.

Geoffrey Chaucer (b.1343/4) `... appears frequently in the records of the household of Edward III as one of the King's gentleman attendants [from 1367 onwards].'


Establishment of Ming Dynasty, China.

Enfeoffment of lands at Borcombe, Southleigh, by Richard de Brankescombe, junior. (EPNI)

Mention of Rewe Branscombe. [cf: 1375] (EPNI)


15 January, Dorchester: Thomas de Beauchamp of Ryme turns 21, and claims his inheritance, held in wardship by Richard Brankescumb, his step-father. [m.1353 Margaret Beauchamp]

Philippa, wife of King Edward III dies. `Edward entered his dotage to fall under the malign influence of his mistress, Alice Perrers and her accomplices.'

Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, dies.



28 March: Parliament makes levies against the parishes. Walter de Branscombe is a collector. With four others, he collects £2,149 16s. [levy for the defence of the realm, in particular the building and maintenance of the navy?]

The Lords in Parliament resolve that none but laymen "who could answer for their misdeeds in the King's courts" could henceforth hold the offices of Chancellor, Treasurer, Barons of the Exchequer, and Clerks of the Privy Council.

25 April, Westminster: Walter Branscombe appointed to collect parochial subsidy in Devon.

8 June, Westminster: Walter Branscombe appointed to collect parochial subsidy in Devon.

10 July, Westminster: Complaint by Black Prince against Richard de Branscombe and others, for hunting in his forest of Dartmoor without a licence.



Dartmouth: `Bayard's Cove was the port's principal quay when Chaucer, fresh from a diplomatic trip to Italy, came down from London, in 1373, to settle a matter of a Genoese ship held under arrest at Dartmouth. We can well imagine the delight of that customs official in the teeming wharfside life of the medieval town then at one of the high peaks of its prosperity. Was it, we may wonder, as a boy in London or here in Dartmouth, with its flourishing wine traffic with France; and Spain, that the vintner's son first noticed a cunning trick of the wine trade of his day which he later recorded in The Pardoner's Tale, that of slyly mixing fine Bordeaux with the cheap Spanish white wines? It was at any rate in Dartmouth that Chaucer found his Shipman, epitome of medieval England's seafaring hardihood.

It has been suggested that the original of this portrait may have been John Hawley, already one of Dartmouth's leading shipmasters at the time of Chaucer's visit, and the following year to be Mayor of the town.'

`Of nyce concience took he no keep.
If that he faught, and hadde the hyer hand,
By water he sente hem hoom to everyland.
Hardy he was, and wys to undertake
With many a tempest hadde his berd been shake
He knew wel alle the havenes, as they were,
From Gootland to the
cape of Finistere,
And every cryke in Britayne and in Spayne... '

`... as a rule the English had no respect for church property. In 1373 an eye-witness said he saw over one hundred mass-chalices, robbed from churches, being used as drinking bowls at a supper given by Sir John Harleston and his men.'


12 December, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe appointed Sheriff of Devon [to 4 October, 1375].

Butters claims the first mention of Edge Barton, Branscombe, in official records, but this is clearly wrong.

`Between 1374 and 1386 [Geoffrey Chaucer] served as Controller of Customs in the Port of London.'

Return of the Black Death to England (to 1375).

John Wyclif serves as the King's envoy in efforts to reach a settlement with the Pope.


Mention of Rewe Branscombe [cf: 1368] (EPNI)

Polwhele says Sir Richard Branscombe was appointed Sheriff of Devon again this year, jointly with Will. Ashthorpe.


28 April, Westminster: The "Good Parliament" establishes the right of the Commons to "impeach" Ministers.

`Seventy-four knights of the shire and sixty town burgesses made up the Commons of the Good Parliament. Acting with some support from the Lords, they demanded redress of 146 grievances before they would consent to a new subsidy. Their primary demand was the dismissal of venal minsters together with the King's mistress, who was generally credited with being both venal and a witch. In addition, they wanted annual Parliaments, election rather than appointment of members, and a long list of restraints upon arbitrary practices and bad government. Two of their strongest discontents were directed not against the government, but against abuses of a foreign Church hierarchy and the demands of a labouring class grown disobedient and disorderly. These issues, too, were great with significance: one was to lead to the ultimate break with Rome and the other, much sooner, to the Peasants' Revolt ... The tumultuous assembly was held at Westminster, with the Commons meeting in the chapter house of the abbey and the Lords in the White Chamber of the palace nearby ... Taking the offensive, the Commons, for the first time in its history elected a Speaker in the person of a knight of Herefordshire, Sir Peter de la Mer...'

September: Pope Gregory XI ends papal residence at Avignon (since 1309), beginning the process leading to the schism, and, ultimately, to Protestantism.

Richard de Branescombe, late husband of Margaret Beauchamp, mentioned in a quitclaim. (EPNI) [m.1353]

Black Prince dies at age 40, `his body swollen and distorted by disease'.


4 May, Exeter: Inquisition Post-Mortem. [before?] Hugh de Courtenay, Earl of Devon. Richard de Brankescomb's land in Colyton & Yurdebery Hundred - la meadow and la moor and alderwood, services not known, by charter. The manor of Northpole by grant of William Chebeseye and Richard. Fees held for the castle of Plympton: Stoke Damarel, Whitelegh and Wydy, held by Richard for three knight's fees and a half. [Is Richard senior dead? or Hugh? poss.Yardbury in Colyton parish - mansion of the Westover family, then Drake/poss. Whitleigh, St.Budeaux/poss. Widey Court, Egg Buckland. Wyndham says Edge Barton had passed into the possession of Sir John Wadham before the end of the reign of Edward III, and hazards a guess at 1377. Perhaps this Inquisition is indeed that of Richard, and may signify the date of the transfer of Edge? cf:1376 quitclaim refers to the late Richard Branscombe, husband of Margaret Beauchamp]

21 June: Edward III dies (reigned since 1327). Richard II succeeds (to 1399). Richard of Bordeaux, the Black Prince's surviving son, was aged only 10. He took no effective role in government until after 1389. He ended just over 100 years of rule by the Edwards.

`... he was a shrinking, fearful creature, gifted with no great intellectual ability nor even with much power of application. Up to a point, he could learn, for he learned to be cruel and ruthless, but he never learned when to stop. He never had any political common sense. To crown it all, he had to deal with a situation which, from the beginning, was too much for him. It would have taxed the full powers of a much abler man. In quiet times, Richard might have managed, but not in his own age. The dominant theme of the history of Richard's reign is the renewed outbreak of political disorder in high places; the same malady which had destroyed Edward II and was now to compass the ruin of his great-grandson. All else was subordinate, even the French war and the great crisis of 1381.' [Peasants' Revolt]

22 August, Westminster: Richard Branscombe (junior) and others commissioned to array men-at-arms, archers etc., in Devon, to resist invasion.

Sir John Wadham, one of Richard II's judges (1388-97), raised the family fortunes, greatly adding to their estates and social position.

Dalton Clifford says Sir John Wadham had purchased (?) Edge Barton from the Branscombe family before 1377.

Vision of Piers Plowman first appears.

Robin Hood's legend takes on great popularity with the people.

There is a Poll Tax this year which could prove useful in determining who's alive and where they're living. Especially look at Plympton, Abbotskerswell & Branscombe.


March, Rome: Pope Gregory XI dies.

9 April, Rome: Election of the Archbishop of Bari as Pope Urban VI.

26 May, Westminster: Richard de Brankescombe (junior) and others commissioned to enquire as to the right of patronage touching the church of Plumpton [Plympton?], on the petition of Thomas, Bishop of Exeter. He argues the priory was granted to Exeter cathedral by King Henry, son of William I, but that it had been seized by Edward III. Mention is made also that Bishop Walter I of Exeter had appointed Adam de Stoke as keeper of the priory gate. The Inquisition was held at Exeter on the Tuesday before the nativity of St.John the Baptist.

9 August, Anagni: Cardinals declare the election of Pope Urban VI as null and void, beginning the schism which was to last forty years.

20 September, Anagni: Cardinals elect Robert of Geneva, the "Butcher of Cesena", as Pope Clement VII. [moves to Avignon in April 1379]

Richard Braunsecombe [Branscombe] mentioned in Muster Roll. (EBMI)


3 October, Westminster: John Wadham of Devon commissioned to mainprise two people. [mainprise = to take by hand. Used both for surety and a man out on bail)]

Poll Tax levied.

`In England the schism brough Wyclif to the turning point that led to Protestantism ... Despairing of reform from within ... he came ... to a radical conclusion: since the Church was incapable of reforming itself, it must be brought under secular supervision. He now saw the King as God's Vicar on earth from whom bishops derive their authority and through whom the state, as guardian of the Church, could compel reform. Going beyond the abuses of the Church to attack the theory, Wyclif was now prepared to sweep away the entire ecclesiastical superstructure - papacy, hierarchy, orders. Having rejected the divine authority of the Church, it was now that he came to his rejection of its essence - the power of the sacraments, specifically the Eucharist. In a culminating heresy, he transferred salvation from the agency of the Church to the individual: "For each man that shall be damned by his own guilt, and each man that is saved shall be saved by his own merit." Unperceived, here was the start of the modern world.'


7 December, Northampton: Richard Branscombe is appointed surveyor of tax in Devon. [3rd Poll Tax of 1s. ?]

John Wycliffe begins a translation of the whole of the Bible into English, with the help of several collaborators, to encourage ordinary folk to read it for themselves. English versions of the Scriptures were not a new thing, however; vernacular versions of many parts of the Bible had existed since King Alfred's day. [cf:1382 - William Branscombe of Oxford]

Sir John Wadham, son of Sir John who purchased Edge Barton, becomes Justice of Common Pleas (to 1397). `He was still resident in Branscombe in 1411/12, although in the meantime he had acquired a house in Somerset - Merifield, at Ilton near Ilminster.' (cf:1411) [Wyndham says Merifield was acquired about 1400. The manor house and outbuildings at Merifield occupied just two and a half acres]

Tamurlane (Timur) begins conquest in Central Asia.


The Peasants' Revolt: Wat Tyler demands the Church should be disendowed. He leads an armed revolt to oppose the King's levying of a 1 shilling poll tax on every person over 14. The revolt quickly spread after the execution of three unfortunate clerks, sent to investigate Poll Tax fraud. Wat Tyler, and other leaders of the revolt failed, and lost their heads.

The poll tax returns list 29,000 inferior clergy in England, exclusive of friars. With a population of not more than four million before the Black Death, and perhaps two and a half million after it, there were between eight and nine thousand parishes, each with at least one priest or deacon, and many with an unbeneficed chaplain as well; some seventeen or eighteen thousand regulars, living under corporate vows and rule. In addition to priests and deacons in holy orders, who were forbidden to marry, and who alone, with their attendant acolytes, officiated in the presbytery or eastern portion of the church, shut off from the congregation by the rood-screen, there was a huge army of clerks in minor orders. These had received the Church's initial tonsure-the small round patch cut in the centre of the head by the officiating bishop as a reminder of Christ's crown of thorns and which, by bringing its wearer under the Church's protection, secured him "benefit of clergy". Among them were the acolytes who tended the church lights and helped the priest at the alter, parish clerks, readers who read and sang the lessons, exorcists who laid evil spirits, door-keepers who looked after the church and its bells. They included too the students of the universities who numbered at least another two thousand. probably one in every fifty of the population was a cleric.

`The story of the rising of 1381 reminds us how ill policed was the England of that day and how weak was the arm of the law. Murder, rape, beating, and robbery by violence were everyday incidents. Lord, miller and peasant must each guard his own family, property, and life. The King's peace had never been very strong, but it had probably been stronger in the reign of Edward I and possibly even under Henry II. The Hundred Years War enriched individuals with plunder and ransoms from France, and swelled the luxury of court and castle, but was a curse to the country as a whole. It increased disorder and violence, by raising the fighting nobility and their retainers above the control of the Crown. The King was powerless to act against the great nobles, because his military resources were the resources commanded by the nobles themselves. His army consisted, not of his own Life Guards and regiments of the line, but of numerous small bodies of archers and men-at-arms enlisted and paid by earls and barons, knights and professional soldiers of fortune, who hired out their services to the government for a greater or less time. Such troops might do well for the French war, and might rally round the throne on an occasion like the Peasants' Rising, when all the upper classes were threatened by a common danger. But they could scarcely be used to suppress themselves, or to arrest the employers whose badges they wore on their coats, and whose pay jingled in their pockets.'

15 May, Westminster: Richard Branscombe, Matthew de Gurnay (Gurney), and others, to arrest Henry Somerville, who on being retained in the King's service to go to Brittany; in the company of William de Clinton, Knight (Earl of Huntingdon), after he had received divers sums of money from him therefor, refused to go.

Oxford English Dictionary claims the first written use of the word shoe-maker, when Johannes Stotbury is described as a child-shoemaker. According to the Dictionary, the word shoe itself first appears in the Lindesfarne Chronicles of 950. `By medieval times the trade was well established in the British Isles and northern Europe, the first receoded use [as a surname] in Britain being Hugh Shomaker in 1365, hence the surnames Shoemaker, Schoemaker, Schumacher and similar throughout Europe.'

`In 1381, a council of twelve doctors of the University of Oxford was to pronounce eight of [Wyclif's] theses unorthodox and fourteen heretical, and to prohibit him from further lecturing or preaching. Though his voice was silenced, his work spread through dissemination of the Bible in English ... opening a direct pathway to God, bypassing the priest.' [cf:1382]


Writs and orders under the Great Seal addressed by the Sovereign to individuals were folded or closed up, and are hence called "letters close". Until Tudor times, the Close Rolls contain royal instructions for the performance of multifarious acts: the observance of treaties, the levying of subsidies, the repair of buildings, the payment of salaries, the provision of Household requirements, the delivery of their landed inheritances to heirs, and the assignment of dower to widows, and so forth. private deeds enrolled for safe custody on the back of the Close Rolls are especially numerous from 1382, and from 1532-3 such deeds form the entire contents of the roll.

William Branscombe, a Dominican friar of Oxford, a Doctor of Theology, is a member of the committee convened by the University Chancellor, Dr. William de Barton, to examine the theological errors of Dr. John Wyclif. William attends the Council of Black Friars, London, in May, called by the Archbishop of London, William Courtenay (b. circa 1342, St.Martin's, Exeter, the fourth son of Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, and Margaret, daughter of Humphrey Bohun, Earl of Hereford) to condemn Wyclif and his followers. [cf:1381]


1 May, Westminster: Grant of land to John Wadham from John Blake, in Wadham, Knowestone, Devon.

Richard II is aged 17


Walter Branscombe of Plymouth to be arrested.
(cf: Humphrey Passour/Rassour?, 1384)

22 January, Westminster: Walter Branscombe called before the King to give evidence about three Spanish ships driven into Plymouth by a storm which, on surrendering, were attacked, the crews imprisoned, and their ships and goods taken by men of the town.

John Wyclif dies. `When Jan Hus was burned at the stake for heresy by the Council of Constance in 1415, Wyclif's bones were ordered dug up and burned at the same time. Even riddled by the schism, the Church was still in control. The cracking of the old and famous structures is slow and internal, while the façade holds.'


Sir Philip Courtney, the King's cousin, made Lord Deputy of Ireland.

`[Geoffrey Chaucer] was Justice of the Peace for Kent in 1385-9, and represented that county in Parliament in 1386.'


4 February, Westminster: Richard de Branscombe, Sheriff of Devon, mentioned as a key figure in a "fixing of the bounds" by perambulation, between Taunton, Somerset, and Cheristaunton (Churchstanton), Devon.

The "Wonderful" parliament. King Richard II, his council and his household are placed under close supervision.



February, Westminster: The "Merciless" parliament. The Earls of Arundel, Warwick, Hereford and Norfolk, "The Lords Appellant", punished by banishment or death scores of the King's ministers, and even his servants of lesser rank, on the most flimsy and futile charges. For a year, the Lords Appellant reigned supreme, and Gloucester's friends were rewarded with offices and money.

(Impact re: fall of the House of Branscombe and rise of Wadhams?)

22 May, York: Richard de Branscombe buys 5 acres of meadow at Overaller, Abbotskerswell, for £5 from Philip and Alianora de Columbariis.


Christening of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick.

`From 1389 to 1391 [Geoffrey Chaucer] acted as Clerk of the King's Works.'


`Scotsman Sir David Lindesay, Earl of Crawfurd, Scotland, having fallen out with Lord Welles, ambassador at the Scottish Court, a duel was decided on, and Lindesay chose London Bridge as the place of combat. He crossed the length of the Kingdom, furnished with a safe passage from King Richard II, and the duel solemnly came off at the place fixed, in the presence of an immense concourse. The first shock was so violent that the lances were shivered, but the Scotsman remained immovable in his saddle. The people, fearing for the success of the Englishman, called out that the foreigner was fixed to his horse, against all rules. Upon understanding this Lindesay, by way of reply, leapt lightly to the ground, with one bound returned to the saddle and, charging his adversary anew, overthrew and grievously wounded him.'


Year of birth of William Wadham, son of Sir John, the judge. Possibly born at Edge Barton, Branscombe, as Merifield in Somerset had not yet been acquired. [William d.1452]

`One of [the de Bronescombes of Edge] was Abbot of Newenham (near Axminster) in 1391' [Richard Branescombe, 1361-1391]


10 April, Westminster: Reference in Close Rolls (Spanish) to the manor of Northpole, previously in the gift of Richard de Branscombe and William de Chebesey, given to Margaret [de Bohun?], wife of Hugh de Courteneye, (deceased) Earl of Devon. Margaret now also being deceased, the manor goes to William, Archbishop of Canterbury.


Thomas Branscombe represents Plympton Erle constituancy at the Parliament. Probably related to Adam Branscombe, Knight of the Shire for Devon, 1340 & 1348, and to Richard Branscombe, the Sheriff of 1366-7 and 1374-5, but nothing has been discovered about the man himself. [cf: Adam de Brankescomb (held?) land at Tavifolys and Tamerton Folyet, in the honour of Plympton, hundred of Rouburgh, Devon, & Ricardo de Brankescomb (owned?) land at Stoke, in the hundred of Rouburgh, says Johannes de Kemel, who (now holds it - 1346?)]

`In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Plympton had evidently been a busy and flourishing market centre. Commerce increased following the decision, in 1328, that it should join Tavistock, Ashburton and Chagford as an official stannary town, where all tin mined in Devon would be assessed before being put on sale. At that time, the River Plym was navigable almost up to the town gates, but despite the risk of attack from the French, local merchants were beginning to divert their traffic to the port of Plymouth, which was growing up around Sutton Pool, on the estuary ... It is clear that, long before 1439, when Plymouth obtained its charter, the port had superseded Plympton as the principle town of the district ... Plympton had sent representatives to Parliament regularly since 1295. Returns are no longer extant for 14 of the 32 Parliaments which met between 1386 and 1421 (incl) and the names are known of only 23 MPs for this period ... Out of the 23 members, only 6 are known to have held property in the town, although four more who have not been identified are so obscure as to have been most probably local men. There is no doubt, however, that as many as 13 did not live there ... however none of the 13 were outsiders in the extreme sense of residing beyond the borders of the shire.'


William Fortescue married Elizabeth Branscombe, widow, daughter of Sir John Beauchamp, and sister & co-heir of Thomas Beauchamp of Ryme, Somerset. Her assignment of dower, dated Tuesday after the Feast of St.Martin, 1394, is sealed with the Fortescue arms. Elizabeth had no issue by her first husband, Richard Branscombe [d. between 1369-76?].


William Branscombe, Friar of Oxford Convent in 1382, is now a Prior of Canterbury Convent.


Mention in an Inquisition of (bishop) Walter de Brankescombe granting North(tawton?) church rents and one third of Hegheyeampton manor to John & Margaret de Cary.

William Branscombe, Prior of Canterbury Convent in 1395, serves as Diffinitor for the English Province at the Chapter General held in Clermont this year.


Earliest surviving books printed with moveable type, in Korea.

15 September (approx): William Branscombe, Prior of Canterbury Convent in 1395, is a Vicar of the London Visitation. [he died at some date after this. His obit was observed in Christ Church Cathedral Priory, Canterbury, on 4 November, annually]


Tamurlane invades India, and sacks Delhi

OED claims first written use of the word `rabbit'. According to Shippey rabbits were imported to England for the first time in the thirteenth century, and bred for their fur. hares, in contrast, were indigenous to a wide area of northern Europe. [cf: `Coney', 1302]


Richard II deposed (reigned since 1377). Bolingbroke, Henry IV of Lancaster, crowned (to 1413).

`The five names, Henry, John, Richard, Robert and William, together accounted for 38% of recorded men's names in the twelfth century; for 57% in the thirteenth; and for 64% in the fourteenth.'

© 1996-2006 Ronald Branscombe

Email: genealogy (at) branscombe (dot) net