Page images

















A.D. 1290.





By WILLIAM Stevenson.

'HE death of Queen Eleanor, the first consort of our great


King Edward I, is one of the most striking and picturesque incidents in the mediæval history of this county.

Like other details of history which have been passed under review by learned men, it is one that will bear reexamining, especially so as time in his march leaves new lights behind. It is only in our day that we have established indisputable right to the scene of her death in the Harby of our county, a right which has been disputed, owing to the fact that manors or villages of the same name exist in the neighbouring counties of Lincoln and Leicester. This question has been set at rest by a learned essay on the subject from the pen of my eldest son, W. H. Stevenson, M.A., Oxon (English Historical Review of 1888, p. 315).

The historical error I wish to correct was committed by the late Rev. Joseph Hunter, F.S.A., in his lengthy notice on the death of this queen in the 29th Vol. of "The Archæologia," p. 167. Mr. Hunter found documentary proof of the king being in attendance on his dying queen at Harby from the 20th to the 28th of November, 1290. He found further evidence, which I have not been able to confirm, that the king was at Harby full eleven weeks before, viz. on the 11th September. He accepted this as the Harby of the queen's

death, and built upon it the theory that the king and queen on their progress north, being at Northampton late in August, were soon after parted, the queen going direct to Harby, in our county, and the king joining her there on September 11th. This learned man had not the benefit of the full Iter of this king before and after this date. Had he possessed it, he would have found him on Septr. 5th and 6th at Rockingham, in Northamptonshire; on the 7th and 8th, and possibly the 9th, at Longthorp, otherwise Torpel, a manor of the queen's, leased for life, February 14th, 1284, to Gilbert Peeche; on the 10th at Greetham, in Rutlandshire; and on the 11th and 12th at Nottingham. Now, it is clear that the king, riding from Greetham to Nottingham on the 11th, would pass through Harby, in Leicestershire, and that he was not then at Harby, in the far east of our county, and here lies Mr. Hunter's error. We have no evidence of the king arriving at Harby in our county until the 20th November, and there is no evidence that the queen ever left his side from the time of their visit at Northampton late in August until the day of her death. This being the case, we can with confidence assume the queeen's route as identical with the known Iter of the king and fill in an otherwise blank page of our county history. From the 13th to 17th September they were at Newstead Priory; on the following day at Rufford Abbey;1 on the 19th to 22nd at Clipston Palace; on the 23rd to 26th at Dronfield, Bolsover Castle, Tideswell, and Chapel-en-le-Frith; on the 27th to October 6th, and possibly October 7th, at Macclesfield; on the 8th to the 12th returning by Ashford, Chesterfield, and Langwith to Clipston, where they tarried until November 11; on the 12th they were again at Rufford Abbey, where the king made a grant to the queen of the lands, &c., of a prisoner in London (Calr. Pat. Rolls, 1281-1292, p. 394).

A curious point arises here which Mr. Hunter associates with Harby in Notts. As above stated, they were at Rufford Abbey on the 18th September, and again on this date

1. The Rev. Joseph Hunter says: "King at Rufford on 19th." Discrepancies like these are of no moment, as writs might be attested at Rufford in the morning and at Clipston in the evening.

(November 12th) an interval of twenty-four days. At the earliest of these dates a Henry de Montepessulano (Montpellier, in the North of France, the great medical university of that time), evidently the court physician, who went, we find, oversea with the king in April four years previously, was paid one mark (13/4) for syrup and other medicine bought at Lincoln for the queen's use. This may or may not prove that Her Majesty was indisposed at the date of the first visit to Rufford; but the inference is strong that she was seriously indisposed at the second visit, twenty-four days later, for on the morning of the 13th a progress eastward towards Lincoln was commenced to Laxton or Lexington, one of the greatest baronial strongholds in the county, the residence of Adam de Everingham, who about this time enjoyed the right possessed by his Norman ancestors of the custody of the forests of the king in Notts. and Derbyshire. Adam de Everingham had fought for the king in the Scotch wars, and would be well known to His Majesty, for he had been knighted by him. Here they stayed four or five days; on the 19th we find them at Marnham, the ancient manor of the Chaworths before they moved to Wiverton; at Marnham on the following day they would cross the river Trent by the ancient ferry and arrive at Harby. This ferry has in our day been recently closed.

Mr. Hunter says: "The king remained in the immediate neighbourhood," possibly meaning Clipston Palace, "until November 20, and then went to her" (the queen) “and was present at her death on November 28th." If news were conveyed to the king at Clipston that his queen was in a dying state, we can scarcely conceive he would be tarrying nine days on the way to Harby, a distance of less than twenty miles. His slow progress is far more in consonance with the view that the queen, sick almost to death, was being carried by slow stages on a litter towards Lincoln. The above Iter, upon which so much depends, and which is perfect almost to a day, has never before been published; it has been framed by me from evidence afforded by the "Calendars of the Patent Rolls," and from an office copy in the Public

« PreviousContinue »