Advertisement

Alice De Rouclif: an Eventful Childhood

  • Jeremy Goldberg
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

The feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul fell on a Sunday in 1365. Medieval folk were adept at combining worship and recreation. Such a major festival would have been a day of rest and of devotion throughout the realm, but especially within the diocese of York, whose cathedral church was dedicated to St Peter. For the residents of the Yorkshire Wolds’ hamlet of Kennythorpe, the day must have been focused around parish mass at the neighboring village church of Langton, a mile or so across the fields.19 It was high summer, a time when the daylight extended from early morning until late in the evening. We do not know at what time of day Sir Brian Rouclif’s men made their own way across the fields to the home of Stephen Wascelyne, but the likelihood is that they took advantage of the light to approach either soon after dawn or in the late evening before or after the household was up and about.20 The men were no doubt armed, but the house would have at best been lightly defended and the household staff would be more used to making beds or tending livestock than fighting. Their objective would have been quickly achieved. Whether the young girl they carried away from the Wascelyne house and its orchard that had been her home for only a matter of months cried out or resisted her abductors or what she may have said to them or they to her, we do not know.

Keywords

Parish Church High Social Rank Dowry Payment Verbal Contract Benedictine Monastery 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    No separate population figure survives for Kennythorpe from the poll tax of 1377, but together with the neighboring hamlet of Thornthorpe a total of only forty-five taxpayers are recorded. The much less satisfactory 1381 returns record fifteen taxpayers for Kennythorpe as against fourteen for Thornthorpe, a total of only twenty-nine. Kennythorpe was assessed to pay 12s., but Thornthorpe only 10s. toward the subsidy of 1334, so a crude estimate might suggest a total population of less than fifty: The Lay Subsidy of 1334, ed. Robin E. Glasscock, Records of Social and Economic History, New Series, 2 (Oxford: British Academy, 1975), p. 365; TNA, E179/202/61/7; The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381, ed. Fenwick, 3:160, 210, 212.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The house was excavated by the York Archaeological Trust in the course of a series of small-scale digs during the first part of the 1990s prior to the development of formerly agricultural land for housing. The final report of these excavations is still awaited. The house, located to the east of a more prominent moated site apparently abandoned in the thirteenth century, was itself first occupied around the middle of the same century. It can be tied to the de Rouclif family from the discovery of the seal matrix of Thomas de Rouclif. Gervase was Thomas’s grandson, but he had an older brother, Thomas, who leased the house to one Philip de Gillyng for twelve years in 1332. Since this appears to be the last record of Thomas, it is possible that he died unmarried or childless in or before the Black Death and hence his property would have passed to Gervase. Certainly this would help explain Gervase’s possibly advantageous marriage to the widow Ellen shortly after the Black Death and indeed how Alice came to be an heiress with land and tenants to her name. The house appears to have been used until the mid-sixteenth century. The hearth excavated within the hall below the most recent hearth was in use in the period c. 1340–80: K. Hunter-Man, “Rawcliffe the 5th,” Interim 17, 3 (1992): 2 [2–6]; idem, “Rawcliffe: Hall’s Well that Ends Well,” Interim 19, 2 (1994): 4–7 [4–9]; Nicky Rogers, “Signed, Sealed and Deciphered,” Interim 19, 2 (1994):10–12; Chris Daniel, “The Family Seal,” Interim 19, 2 (1994): 13–17. It should be noted that the excavated structure as reported does not immediately tally with the “basement room [camera bassa subterraneana]”referred to in Ellen Taliour’s account of Alice’s birth. For a reconstruction of the de Rouclif genealogy see fig. 1.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    For a discussion of baptismal practice see Nicholas Orme, Medieval Children (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 21–9; Robert Dinn, “Baptism, Spiritual Kinship, and Popular Religion in Late Medieval Bury St Edmunds,” Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 72 (1990): 97 [93–106].Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Cf. Didier Lett, “Adult Brothers and Juvenile Uncles: Generations and Age Differences in Families at the End of the Middle Ages,” The History of the Family 6 (2001): 391–400.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Men were supposed to abstain from sex with their wives for an extended period following childbirth: Becky R. Lee, “The Purification of Women after Childbirth: A Window onto Medieval Perceptions of Women,” Florilegium 14 (1995–96): 44–7 [43–55].Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    The propensity for the aristocracy to father illegitimate children seems not to have attracted much scholarly attention, but see Emma Hawkes, “Younger Sons, Illegitimate Sons and the Law: A Study of Three Yorkshire Gentry Families, 1480–1540,” Parergon n.s.17 (2000): 125–46.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Chronica Monasterii de Melsa, ed. Edward Augustus Bond, 3 vols., Rolls Series 43 (1866–68), III:159; The Anonimalle Chronicle 1333 to 1381, ed. V.H. Galbraith (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1927), p. 50. Very high mortality in 1361 is also suggested by the significant peak in wills proved within the court of the Dean and Chapter that year: P.J.P. Goldberg, “Women in Late Medieval Society: Some Demographic Evidence from the York Region,” unpublished University of York MA dissertation (1982), fig. 2.3.1 and p. 25.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Kim M. Phillips, Medieval Maidens: Young Women and Gender in England, 1270–1540 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 32–4.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Scott L. Waugh, The Lordship of England: Royal Wardships and Marriages in English Society and Politics 1217–1327 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), pp. 217–20.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    Adam de Thornton was also the parson of Potter Brompton, a church appropriated to St Mary’s Abbey: Sarah Rees Jones, “Property, Tenure and Rents: Some Aspects of the Topography and Economy of Medieval York,” unpublished University of York D.Phil. thesis, 2 vols. (1987), 2, tenement 24.Google Scholar
  11. 19.
    Barbara J. Harris, English Aristocratic Women, 1450–1550 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  12. 26.
    Gift giving was a common aspect of marriage making. The giving and receipt of gifts thus constituted evidence for the intentions of the parties concerned. Clothing, kerchiefs, and knives all appear in Diana O’Hara’s analysis of early modern marriage cases: Helmholz, Marriage Litigation, p. 127n.; Shannon McSheffrey, Love and Marriage in Late Medieval London (Kalamazoo: The Medieval Institute, 1995), pp. 42–3; Diana O’Hara, Courtship and Constraint: Rethinking the Making of Marriage in Tudor England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), ch. 2.Google Scholar
  13. 27.
    Cf. Simon Payling, “The Politics of Family: Late Medieval Marriage Contracts,” in The McFarlane Legacy: Studies in Late Medieval Politics and Society, ed. R.H. Britnell and A.J. Pollard (Stroud: Alan Sutton, 1995), p. 24 [21–47].Google Scholar
  14. 32.
    Michael M. Sheehan, “The Formation and Stability of Marriage in Medieval England: The Evidence of an Ely Register,” Medieval Studies 33 (1971): 228–63.Google Scholar
  15. 33.
    R.H. Helmholz, The Oxford History of the Laws of England, I: The Canon Law and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction from 597 to the 1640s (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 542–3.Google Scholar
  16. 37.
    Many were of peasant stock. Joel Rosenthal shows, using Proofs of Age material, that persons of humble rank may still have been seen as trustworthy repositories of communal memory: Joel T. Rosenthal, Telling Tales: Sources and Narration in Late Medieval England (University Park: Penn State Press, 2003), pp. 150–1. Chris Wickham describes the role of “gossip” in constructing group identity: Chris Wickham, “Gossip and Resistance among the Medieval Peasantry,” Past and Present 160 (1998): 11 [3–24].Google Scholar
  17. 40.
    Handbook of Dates for Students of English History, ed. C.R. Cheney (London: Royal Historical Society, 1978), pp. 73–4.Google Scholar
  18. 45.
    Thomas de Buckton, LL.D. had seen the pope by 28 June and was to die on his return journey. A change in the headship of the court whilst the case was ongoing, though atypical, would have been relatively unproblematic; the actual process of judgment depended solely on an evaluation of the depositions after these had all been collected in: BI, CP.E.89/23, 24; Testamenta Eboracensia, vol. I, ed. James Raine, Surtees Society 4 (1836), pp. 77–9 and note, p. 77; Durham, Durham University Archives, 1.3.Archiep.2. Adam de York, a bachelor of canon law, had been appointed precentor the previous year displacing Hugh de Wymondeswold. His appointment was ended after five years and Wymondeswold was reinstated in 1371: B. Jones, Fasti Ecclesiae Angicanae 1300–1500, vol.VI: Northern Province (London: The Athlone Press, 1963), p. 11.Google Scholar
  19. 46.
    YML, Dean and Chapter probate register 1, L2(4), fols. 65 (Robert de Rouclif, d. 1377), 79 (John de Rouclif, sen., d. 1384). For fuller discussions of Master John de Rouclif, senior, and Robert de Rouclif see chapter 5 below.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jeremy Goldberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy Goldberg

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations