Documents relating to the Seigniory of Holderness Presented by H. Stuart Moore

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

This collection comprises copies of, and extracts from, documents relating to the seigniory of Holderness. Most of the documents are medieval or early modern and most come with translations. They were presented to the Brynmor Jones Library in 1966 by Mr H. Stuart Moore. The collection in detail is as follows.

Extracts from the court rolls of the manor of Burstwick (intermittent 1368-1627); extracts from the court rolls of the manor of Easington, Kilnsea and Skeffling (1351-1539, 1571-1666); extracts from the court rolls of the manor of Skipsea (1562-1664), Paull (1598-1633) and Withernsea (1503-1658); extracts from the court rolls of the Wapentake court (1502-1503, 1634-1661) and sheriff's tourn courts (1524-1666); copies of inquisitions (post mortem and ad quod damnum) comprising forty percent of the total collection (1254-1637) and including, to name just a few, those of Peter de Brus (1279), Robert de Ros or Roos (1285), William de Fortibus (1287), Joan de Hildyard (1296), Herbert St Quinton (1303), Walter de Fauconberg (1304), Thomas Hildyard (1322), William de la Pole (1338), William de Roos (1343), Herbert St Quinton (1347), Isabella Preston (1349), John le Constable (1349), Walter de Fauconberg (1362), William de la Pole (1365), Isabella Fauconberg (1401), Katherine de la Pole (1419), Humphrey duke of Buckingham (1460), Eleanor duchess of Somerset (1467), Isabella Ellerker (1479), Ralph Ellerker (1546), Ralph and Anne Bulmer (1558), Thomas Grimston (1573), John Constable (1579), Thomas Boynton (1582), Elizabeth Roos (1594), Henry Constable (1609), Marmaduke Langdale (1612), Francis Boynton (1617), Thomas Grimston (1618); translations of extracts from various accounts comprising circa 100 items and including ministers' accounts such as those for the sheriff of Holderness 1261-1264, the reeve of Burstwick 1268-1269 and the keeper of the king's lands in Holderness 1303-1307, the fine rolls of various bailiffs, chancellors' rolls, foreign accounts, pipe rolls and escheators' accounts (1260-1649); extracts from various rolls comprising twenty-five percent of the collection and including originalia rolls, remembrancers' rolls (including Sir John Constable's setting out of his title to the seigniory of Holderness, his manors and lands there and in Lincolnshire as derived from Henry earl of Westmorland at Michaelmas 1565), the confirmation by Henry II of the donation of William earl of Albemarle to Thornton Abbey of various lands in Thornton and Frodingham 1154-1162, charter rolls including grants of free warren to Herbert St Quinton, Bridlington Priory and others and the confirmation of 1301 of lands granted to Thornton Abbey by Richard I, pipe rolls largely relating to scutage and wreckage, close rolls including papers related to the earl and countess of Albemarle and the Hildyard family and patent rolls including the 1268 grant to Edmund, son of the king, of marriage to Isabella de Fortibus and a number of medieval grants of the manor of Burstwick including the 1280 grant with the town of Hedon in dower to Queen Eleanor (1130-1809); copies of and extracts from documents mainly relating to Spurn Point and Cherry Cobb Sands about the Constable title and including information about Spurn Point lighthouse and lifeboat which includes the 1810 terms agreed with the crew of the lifeboat (1747-1766) and circa 120 copies of miscellaneous records, mainly public records and legal documents and including papers of the Constable and Hildyard families, medieval papers of the earl of Albemarle including gifts and a marriage settlement (1127-1647). There is also the 1269 agreement of Joan de Stuteville and the archbishop of York about weirs and stakes in the River Hull and the 1560 sale for 4000 of Henry earl of Westmorland to John Constable of Holderness.

Amongst the medieval charters in DHO there are papers for Bolton Priory; Bridlington Priory; Kirkstall Abbey; Meaux Abbey; St Martin's Abbey, Albemarle; St Mary's Abbey, York; Thornton Abbey and Warter Priory.

Administrative / Biographical History

The history of the seigniory of Holderness is largely provided by two books: Barbara English, The lords of Holderness 1086-1260 (1979) and George Poulson, The history and antiquities of the seigniory of Holderness in the East Riding of the county of York in 2 volumes (1840). The latter also provides histories of the abbey of Meaux (now non-existent) and the priories of Nunkeeling (now a parish church) and Burstall (washed away) for which there are papers in DHO.

Holderness is a triangular piece of land between the Humber, the Hull Valley and the North Sea. At the time of Edward the Confessor it was held by many freeholders but after the Norman Conquest it became a single unit, granted by the Norman kings to various counts. For the first two years these were the counts of Aumale (or Albemarle) who came from north-east Normandy. They held the liberty of Holderness relatively early and knights of Holderness held their fees directly from the counts. The fees of Holderness were large, enabling only three main families, that of Fauconberg, St Quinton and Ros, to hold most of the knights' fees in exchange for military service (English, The lords of Holderness, pp. 1-5).

During the time of Henry III the lordship of Holderness was held by Isabella de Fortibus, countess of Albemarle, but it reverted to the crown in the time of Edward I because of failure of the male line. After the death of Edward I the lordship was granted to Peter de Gaveston until he was beheaded in 1312 and the seigniory was inherited by his widow, the countess of Cornwall. In the time of Edward II the seigniory reverted to the crown again. It continued this way in the time of Edward III until costly wars forced the king to grant the manor of Burstwick to William de la Pole in exchange for financial aid. There were were several more transactions made with William de la Pole in Holderness until he was considered the new lord from about the 1340s. From 1365 the seigniory was held by Isabella, eldest daughter of Edward III, before it reverted again to the crown who granted it several more times until Thomas Plantagenet, second son of Henry IV, was created earl of Albemarle and duke of Clarence in 1411 and was granted the manor of Burstwick, the castle at Skipsea (now earthworks) and the patronage of the abbeys of Meaux and Thornton. However, he died without issue at Anjou during the reign of Henry V and during the reign of Henry VI the privy council agreed that the feofees of the late duke of Clarence could retain the lands and tithes and so on for forty years to pay his debts before the lordship once again reverted to the crown. The seigniory then seems to have alternated between the crown and the Stafford family, dukes of Buckingham, through the reign of Henry VII, after which Henry VIII claimed the seigniory and the Tudors then held the lordship until it was granted to Henry Neville, earl of Westmorland, in the reign of Mary I (Poulson, History and antiquities of...Holderness, i, pp. 18-78).

Henry Neville then granted the seigniory of Holderness to Sir John Constable of Burton Constable, who had married his daughter, Catherine. The seigniory remained in the Constable family (for a while the Viscounts of Dunbar) from the sixteenth century (Poulson, History and antiquities of...Holderness, i, pp.78-98).

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Originally published by Access to Archives - A2A. The data in this finding aid is in the copyright of the place of deposit.

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Related Material



English Barbara, The lords of Holderness 1086-1260 (1979)

Poulson, George, The history and antiquities of the seigniory of Holderness in the East Riding of the county of York, 2 vols. (1840).

Personal Names