08 August, 2010

The Earl Of Ross Makes A Journey

Here's a post with some really nice details I saw recently in the Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland, taken from the 350-mile journey of William, earl of Ross from London to Berwick-on-Tweed in the autumn of 1303, to join Edward I. [1] Earl William had been a supporter of John Balliol, king of Scotland from 1292 to 1296, and was therefore hostile to the Bruce family; in September 1306 at Tain, William captured the relatives and supporters of Robert Bruce, who had been crowned king at Scone several months earlier, as they were fleeing from Kildrummy in charge of the earl of Atholl (the castle had just fallen to Edward of Caernarfon and Aymer de Valence). William sent them to Edward I, and their subsequent fate is well-known: imprisonment in England for the women and children, two of them in cages on the walls of castles, and execution for the men, including the earl of Atholl. Edward II's accession changed the situation drastically, however: Robert Bruce, having supposedly declared that it was easier to take an entire kingdom from the son than a foot of land from the father, set about making himself king of Scotland in more than name only by attacking his enemies and their lordships, including William of Ross, until they either fled to England (such as the earl of Buchan) or submitted to him. William sent Edward II a desperate letter in 1308, begging for his aid: "May help come from you, our lord, for in you, Sire, is all our hope and trust." It will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that Edward sent no help, and William submitted to Bruce a few months later and remained loyal to him until his (William's) death in 1323. [2]

Anyway, here's the account of the provisions purchased for him and his household on his journey north to meet Edward I from 29 September to 17 October 1303. The abbreviation 'd' means pence, 's' is shillings and 'l' is pounds.

- London, Sunday 29 September 1303: Shoeing the earl's four horses, 2d; four grooms' wages, 6d; William de Whitelay arranging the retinue, harness and others, 12d; making 20lb wax into torches and candles, 10d. Total 3s 4d.

- London, Monday 30 September: The earl started, reaching St Albans the same day. Wastells* for soup, 1d; young pigeons for a roast, 3d [roll mutilated and unreadable]; horse provender, 4 bushels oats, 3s. Total 12s 7d.

[* Wastell: expensive bread made from fine white flour.]

- Dunstaple, Tuesday 1 October: Bread for breakfast there, 8d; three flagons of wine, 12d; beer 6½d; butcher meat, 6d; 6 hens, 9d; larks, 1d; almonds, 2½d; herrings, 1d; hay for horses, 6d; bread for them, 7d; shoeing, 6½d.

- Newport Pagnell, same day: Bread, 8d; wine, 8d, beer, 15d; poultry, 5½d; young pigeons, 5½d; 100 eggs, 4½d; herrings, 1½d; eels and 'pikerells', 20d; mustard for store, 4d; 'vergus', 2d; 'gingibo', 3d; hay for 24 horses, 12d; 4 bushels oats, 3s; lard for the cresset lamp, 1½d; hiring beds, 2d. Total 16s 5d.

- Northampton, Wednesday 2 October: 2lb candles, 2d; salt, 1d; eggs and milk for soup, 3d; 100 herrings, 12d; [hay for horses as above]; bran for a sick palfrey, 1d; litter for beds and horses, 15d; mending and filling new saddles for the earl's palfreys and sumpters, 8d; hire of beds, 2d; mending the fur of the earl's cape, 1d. Total 17s 6½d.

- Suleby, Thursday 3 October: Hay by gift of abbot of...[mutilated] Total 9s 3½d.

- Leicester, Friday 4 October: Herrings, 8d; lampreys, 12d; eels, 6d; horse provender, litter and hire of beds and hay as before, and later in account. Total 13s 4½d.

- Nottingham Saturday 5 October: Flounder, roach and eels, 14d; shaving and washing for the earl, 6d. Total 15s 10½d.

Blyth, Sunday 6 October: Bread for breakfast at Allerton, 10½d; 5 partridges, 10d; baking them, 2d. Total 16s 0½d

- Sherburn, Monday 7 October: Bread for breakfast at Wentbrug, 10d; herrings and cheese for those hungry, 1d; hay and bread for the horses at Doncaster and Wentbrug, 11d; pears, 1d; hire of a hackney for the earl's harness from Blyth to Sherburn, 7d; and its keep, as one of his sumpters could go no further and was delivered to John de Drokensford keeper of the Wardrobe at Blyth. Total 16s 0½d

- York, Tuesday 8 October: 2 flagons of white wine, 10d; red wine, 8d; 4 geese, 15d; lampreys, 2d; roach and perch, 6½d. Total, 18s 6halfd.

- York, Wednesday 9 October: 60 fresh herrings, 8d; haddock and codling, 16d; eels, 8d; roach and dace, 8d; butcher meat for Sir Francis [?], 2d; onions, 1½d; fur for the coverlet of the earl's bed, 7d; mending the coffer of candles, ½d. Total 19s 4d

- York, Thursday 10 October: Swine's flesh, 7d; mutton, 7d; four geese, 14d; and baking them, 2d; hiring dishes for the kitchen, 3d. Total, 15l 0s 3½d.

York, Friday 11 October: Apples and pears, 2d; white peas for soup, 2d; almonds, 1d; salmon, 12d; lampreys, 6d; 'alle' (garlic?) and onions for store, 4d. Total, 12s 3½d.

- Northallerton, Saturday 12 October: Bread for breakfast at Thirsk, 6d; making 'sauf napier', 2d; freshwater fish, 2s; the earl's washing, 6d. Total, 15s 10½d

- Durham, Sunday 13 October: Young pigeons for breakfast and dinner, 9d; larks, 2d; bread and hay for 24 horses on the road at Darlington, 8d; ferrying the earl's horses and baggage at Nesham across the Tees, 3½d. Total, 12s 4½d.

- Newcastle-on-Tyne, Monday 14 October: Mending the earl's hood and furs, 6d; trappings for his palfrey, 16d. Total, 15s 11d.

- Morpeth, Tuesday 15 October: A hood for the earl's palfrey, 1½d; [rest missing]

- Bamburgh, Wednesday 16 October: Bread and hay for the horses on the road at Alnwick, 7d.

- Berwick, Thursday 17 October: Carrying the earl's baggage from the waters of the Tweed to the castle, 3d; ferrying across Tweed, 3d.

- Note: Friday, 18 October: Thomas atte Welle and all the other Londoners and John the candle-bearer, with six horses and six grooms, returned to London. The earl and the others remained at Berwick five days longer, when the account ends.

On 12 December 1303, Earl William of Ross arrived "with his whole retinue" at Perth to meet the nineteen-year-old Edward of Caernarfon, and Edward paid all their expenses "at the king's command." William left on 3 February, and "had by order of the king and council for his expenses, 21 loaves, 18 flagons of wine, 3 beeves, a sheep, 1½ bacon, 500 herrings, 30 cod, and 20lb of wax."


1) Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland 1272-1307, pp. 360-361, 392.
2) G.W.S. Barrow, Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland, pp. 249-252.


Ragged Staff said...

Fascinating list, Kathryn!

N. Gemini Sasson said...

Love Barrow's book! Had it checked out of the local library for years.

P.S. - Learned a new word today - 'beeves'. ;-)

Susan Higginbotham said...

I love these details. I wonder if the bran helped the sick palfrey?

Gabriele Campbell said...

They certainly didn't starve. :)

But bread for the horses? Sounds like it was fresh bread which is not a good idea. You can feed them several days old bread that had dried and is free of mould.

Oh, and the earls furs? He should have bought better ones that won't have needed mending every other day. *grin*

Elizabeth said...

It'd be interesting to take that trip today and see how much it would cost you - horses and bran and all...Fun post, it's really neat to read a detailed account from a day in age when things like that usually pass unnoticed. Thanks for sharing with us!

Anerje said...

These lists are fascinating. Thanks for posting it. Amazes me the amount of birds and fish they ate.

Clement Glen said...

All that riding! Didn't they ever get saddle sore!!

Judy said...

Thanks for this blog post! I, too, had to look up "beeves" but then, of course, it was obvious :-p I then felt pretty stupid for having to look it up.

Also interesting is how their diet changed/varied along the way.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, all! These details are so fascinating, aren't they? I love the word 'beeves' too (had to think for a second when I first saw it...! ;) I wonder why they stayed in York for a few days; just for a rest on a long journey, or bad weather that made travel difficult?

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see that the Earls clothes were washed by others - I would have thought one of his servants would do that, for sure? It appears from your list they engaged local people (mending, washing, baking) a great deal. I also love how the meals change as they are close to ovens for baking when they are near towns. Would the villagers have been grateful for these visitations by large retinues? Wonderful, thanks. It really helped bring the journey to life.
Kate Plantaganet
(blogger wont let me log in today - it needs a coffee)

Carla said...

Do we know how many people were in the household?

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Kate! Really glad you enjoyed the post. It's fascinating to see that his clothes were washed by others, isn't it - and the hiring of beds was great, too!

Carla, that's not stated, unfortunately. :( I'd guess several dozen, though.

Anonymous said...

This is in regard to some recent discussions on Edward's Facebook page : just what was the status of illegitimate children at this time? How much stigma was attached to being illegitimate? Would Piers' sister have been pleased that he named his illegitimate daughter after her?