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Title: William de Colchester - Abbot of Westminster
Author: Pearce, Ernest Harold
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: ABBOT COLCHESTER.]






  LONDON: Northumberland Avenue, W.C.
  New York: E. S. GORHAM




        I. A Window in the Nave                            9
       II. A Novice from Essex                            14
      III. A Man of Affairs                               21
       IV. A Proctor at Rome                              30
        V. An Archdeacon                                  41
       VI. Abbot of Westminster                           52
      VII. The Abbot at Home                              60
     VIII. The Abbot Abroad                               73


Having had the honour of an invitation to deliver in May last a "Friday
Evening Discourse" at the Royal Institution on the Archives of Westminster
Abbey, I thought it best to confine what I could say within an hour to
the career of a single man, preferably one whose record had not hitherto
been written. I have here expanded the lecture to some extent, and have
added references. I am indebted to Mr. David Weller, the Dean's Virger,
for some excellent pictures.

                                                               E. H. P.

  3, Little Cloisters,
  _September, 1915._


                                                     TO FACE PAGE

           Abbot Colchester                         _Frontispiece_
           The Kitchener's Account for Pancakes           28
           Chambers in Little Cloisters                   48
           The Personal Effects of Abbot Litlington       54
           Abbot Colchester's Seal                        74
           Coronation of Henry V.                         80




When the body of the late Lord Kelvin was laid to rest, by a right
which there was none to dispute, in the Abbey Church of Westminster, it
was placed, by the same kind of right, close to the grave of Sir Isaac
Newton. In the same corner there are the graves, or the memorials, of
Darwin and Herschel, of Joule and Gabriel Stokes and John Couch Adams,
to be joined shortly by tablets in memory of Alfred Russel Wallace,
of Sir Joseph Hooker, and of another Joseph, who died Lord Lister. It
was not likely that Kelvin would long lack some memorial more impressive
than the slab which covers his remains, and it was a happy and appropriate
impulse which caused the representatives of engineering science on both
sides of the Atlantic to undertake the task of providing one. But what
form could it best take? The walls of the church have been overcrowded,
to the grievous destruction of some precious features. The floor-space, as
the centuries following the Reformation were apt to forget, is intended
to serve the purposes of public worship. But the large windows of the
Nave offer to those who would honour and foster the memory of the great
dead a means of fulfilling their desire, and of adorning the fabric at
the same time. In this case the chance was welcomed, and Kelvin has his
Abbey memorial in stained glass. The window is one of a series projected
in 1907 by Dr. Armitage Robinson, now Dean of Wells, and loyally accepted
by his successor in the Deanery of Westminster--a series in which there
are placed side by side a King of England who contributed either to the
greatness of the foundation or to the majesty of the building, and the
Abbot through whom the King worked his pious will. The King in this case
is Harry of Monmouth, and we are thinking with somewhat mingled feelings
that October 25, 1915, brings us to the 500th anniversary of the battle
of Agincourt. But it is Henry V.'s Abbot who concerns us now; for in such
a scheme of windows the Abbots are more difficult to justify to the
ordinary visitor than the monarchs, not because of unworthiness,
but because there has been but little effort made to appraise their
worth as heads of our ancient house, or as conspicuous figures in their

In this case the Abbot is William of Colchester. As we shall see, his
character is depicted by Shakespeare, but he has no article to his credit
in the _Dictionary of National Biography_. If he is to be brought back
from obscurity, it can only be accomplished by repeated visits to the
Abbey Muniment Room. I shall therefore ask the reader to climb with me
the turret staircase which is approached from a door in the East Cloister,
and to enter a noble apartment of which that cloister is the origin. For
when Henry III.'s builders came to the planning of the South Transept,
known as Poets' Corner, the lines of the Great Cloister had already
been long established, and must not be minished or altered by the new
work. Therefore, whereas the North Transept has aisles on its east side
and on its west, the South Transept is aisled only on the east side.
The East Cloister occupies the space of what would otherwise be the
western aisle, and thus upholds the floor of the apartment which we
enter. We look into the distant recesses of the Abbey eastward, through
three of Henry III.'s bays, across a low wall split up by the bases of
dwarf pillars. There are signs of royalty in the room, such as the crowned
heads at the capitals of the pillars of the colonnade by which we enter,
and on the wooden wall which shuts off the southern section is the outline
of a white hart crowned, the emblem of Richard II. Professor Lethaby has
suggested to me that such a point of vantage from which to see what stones
and what buildings are here, and from which to observe some procession
of State as it arrives from the Palace by Poets' Corner door and makes
its solemn circuit of the church, would naturally be appropriated as a
royal pew. Be that as it may, the room was set apart in very early times
for the storing of muniments; it contains a cupboard which probably dates
from Richard II.'s reign and now stands under Richard II.'s hart; and at
least one of its archive chests, if not more, belongs to the fourteenth
century. We may assume, then, that here, from that century onwards, the
Convent kept its official archives--charters, leases, acquittances, and
the annual account-rolls of its officers. Here, for the last twenty years,
the Dean and Chapter have had the constant service of Dr. Edward Scott,
formerly of the British Museum, as the Keeper of their muniments. He
has written with his own hand over 110,000 descriptions of documents,
and has compiled, and is still steadily compiling, an index of persons and
things. I am merely attempting to construct a life of Abbot Colchester out
of documents which I have spelt out with Dr. Scott's assistance. Any one
who finds the story uninteresting must console himself with the thought
that it has not been told before.



In Shakespeare's _Tragedy of King Richard II._, there is an Abbot of
Westminster who flits craftily across the scene, generally shadowing a
Bishop of Carlisle, whom we shall meet again. When Bolingbroke announces
that he is about to be crowned King in Richard's stead, this Abbot bids
his friends--

  "Come home with me to supper; and I'll lay
  A plot shall show us all a merry day."[2]

In the next act[3] it is stated that he is dead--

  "The grand conspirator, Abbot of Westminster,
  With clog of conscience and sour melancholy
  Hath yielded up his body to the grave."

As to which it must be sufficient to say that the poet who could not give
the Abbot's name was equally unconscious of the fact that he outlived
his alleged conspiracy by twenty years.

But his name was William Colchester, and we may begin by assuming that,
as his name implies, he was a Colchester man. In and before his time,
and for a considerable space afterwards, the customary designation of
a Brother was his Christian name and a place name, with or without the
copula _de_; in earlier years he called himself William de Colchester,
but the documents which concern him as Abbot mostly speak of William
Colchester, or William Abbot of Westminster. Nor are we left to
guess-work as to the place of his origin. In later life, according to
the habit of his time, he busied himself with the endowment of obits,
or anniversaries, for the good of his soul. Here is a document,[4]
dated May 20, 1406, in which he bargained with the Prior of St. Botolph,
Colchester, having paid 40_s._ to Henry IV.'s Clerk of the Hanaper to
seal the bargain, that one of the canon-chaplains of that Priory should
say Mass every week, at sixpence a week, for his soul and for the
souls of his parents; that the Prior and his Brethren should observe
his anniversary, again with a memorial of his parents, in the parish
church of St. Nicholas, Colchester; that a set sum should be distributed
yearly to the vicar of St. Nicholas, to the poor of the parish, and to
the prisoners in Colchester Castle; and that the tomb of his parents
in the parish churchyard should be kept in proper repair.

We may conclude, then, that this was his native parish, and that in
his great position as Abbot of Westminster he wished the connexion
to be had in remembrance. But he knew to a mile the distance between
his Abbey and Colchester, and how easy it might be for the Prior of St.
Botolph to accept his bequest and to neglect to fulfil its conditions.
So in 1407 (December 3), when he was completing the arrangements[5] for
maintaining an anniversary at the Abbey out of the revenues of the church
of Aldenham,[6] in Hertfordshire, he inserted an instruction that the
Monk-Bailiff of Westminster, at the time of his annual visit to the
Essex manors, should either proceed or send to Colchester and make
careful inquiry as to the due observance of the covenants, as who should
say, "It is as well not to trust these provincial Priors further than
you can see them."

We get to know also from the grant[7] of another anniversary at the
Abbey's daughter Priory of Hurley, in Berkshire, that his father's name
was Reginald, and his mother's Alice. He had a sister who in 1389-90
was living in Cambridge, for in that year his Receiver entered a gift
of 12_d._ to a man who came from my lord's sister at that town; and we
shall find that he had other connexions, some poor enough to bring him
a basket of poultry, some rich enough to receive from him a present of
jewelry. Evidently he sprang from a burgher stock of no great eminence,
for whom the Church seemed the sphere in which the career was opened to
the talents.

How he came to enter our Monastery we shall never know, for with all the
wealth of our materials there survives not a trace of his or of any other
postulant's testimonials. He came, he was seen, he was admitted. We know
what the requisites were--that he must have examined his conscience as
to the motives which led him to apply, that he must be sound in body,
free in civil status, unburdened by debt or other obligations, and as a
rule not less than eighteen years of age.[8] What steps the Fathers of
the Convent took to secure outside evidence of a candidate's fitness
in these respects must be left to the imagination. He passed muster and
joined their number.

Our first trace of William Colchester's name on the books of the House
is in connexion with his ordination as priest. I cannot tell what
Bishop admitted him to the ministry, nor where it took place, but it
can be ascertained that he said Mass for the first time during 1361-2
(the conventual year was reckoned for administrative purposes, as it
is still, from Michaelmas to Michaelmas), and we are able to discover
this, not because it was felt to be an event worth chronicling for its
own sake, but because in that year three of the officers note that they
severally expended 1s. 7-1/2_d._ in bread and wine as "exennia"--_i.e._
a complimentary gift[9]--made to him in honour of the event. We may
suppose that he was then twenty-three years of age; he may have entered
the Convent in or about 1356; and we may take 1338 as the probable year
of his birth. If, as we have assumed, he entered the Convent some
years before his ordination, then he did so during the reign of Simon
Langham, the most eminent of all our Abbots, but it is not possible to
say whether he received priest's orders before or after the election
of Nicholas Litlington to the Abbacy in April, 1362. The Monastery was
still suffering in numbers from the ravages of the Great Pestilence in
1349, and consisted in 1356-7 of only thirty-five monks and two novices.
Colchester was the last of five new members of whom we hear first
in 1361-2.

Five years later, in 1366-7, he was chosen by the Convent as one of two
of their number whom they thought specially apt to learning, and whom
it was therefore their duty to send up to Oxford to join the other
Benedictine students at Gloucester Hall, an institution established
by the Order in its General Chapter held at Abingdon in 1290.[10] Our
custom was that the Convent Treasurer paid £10 yearly to each Westminster
student for his maintenance,[11] besides the cost of his journeys to
and fro; so that it is possible to compile from the Treasurers' rolls a
fairly complete list of our Oxford scholars from 1356, when I came upon
the first signs of a definite system, until the Dissolution. The plan
tended to the great advantage of the monasteries; it meant that the
likely young men were taken at an impressionable time in their lives
out of the narrow rut of cloistral life, and were associated with the
world of scholarship and of affairs; and it will be found that a large
proportion of those who were sent to Oxford rose quickly to positions
of trust in the Convent. William Colchester remained at Oxford, save for
periodical visits to the Abbey, from 1366 to 1370. It cannot be said that
the Latin prose of which he was capable does credit to his University,
and even monkish Latinity was seldom worse than that in which his few
surviving letters are couched. But it is fair to assume that he learnt how
to deal with men, and we can now go on to see that the Convent which had
supported him at Oxford was satisfied with the product of its expenditure.



Soon after his return from the University two things happened, as if to
signify that his competence was recognized. In October, 1371, he was
promoted, as the Westminster phrase went, to sit by the bell--sedere
ad skillam; that is to say, he moved up to the seniors' table in the
Refectory, where was the bell or skyllet which gave the signal for grace
to be said, or for the reader of the week to begin the lection. Like the
day of his first Mass, this promotion, coming as a rule not less than ten
years later, was reckoned to be an occasion for a little addition to the
usually frugal fare, and we can state the date of it because the Sacrist
and the Infirmarer and the Treasurer each sent him bread and wine to the
value of 2_s._ 3-1/2_d._, so that he might make merry with his friends.

Secondly, he begins to be recognized as an experienced person who can
safely be sent upon missions involving prudence and the management of
men. In the same year, 1371-2, a payment of twenty shillings was made
by the Steward of the Abbot's Household for the expenses of William
Colchester and two valets who were sent to Northampton for the meeting of
the General Chapter of the English Benedictines, probably in attendance
on the Abbot of Westminster, who was frequently one of the Presidents
of the Chapter.

But the next year, 1372-3, as we learn from the Sacrist, saw Colchester
entrusted with a still more delicate duty. It was on this wise. Among
the precious relics given to the Abbey by Edward the Confessor[12]
was the girdle of the Virgin Mary--zona beate Marie--which she had
made with her own hands and had herself worn.[13] It was regarded as
having especial value in securing a safe delivery to expectant mothers,
and when the Westminster Book of Customs was compiled by Abbot Richard
de Ware about a century before Colchester's admission, it was the rule
that the Sacrist or, as he was sometimes called, the Secretary, should
carry the girdle of the blessed Mother of God to any destination which
it was appointed to reach, or should be at charges with the bearer
of it in his place.[14] So here is our Sacrist paying the expenses of
William Colchester, namely, 13_s._ 4_d._, and the more considerable
price of two horses for the journey, £6 16_s._ 8_d._ But the Sacrist
has something to enter on the other side, an offering of £2 from the
Countess of March, the lady who craved the aid of the girdle. If any
one is churlish enough to say that the bargain seems but a poor one
for the Convent--150_s._ spent on the journey, and only 40_s._ received
from the beneficiary--the answer is that the horses would be sold at the
end of the return journey for almost as much as they cost. If, again,
it is objected that in any case the lady's gift was money thrown away,
it is not so easy to convince the gainsayer. For while it is on record
that on February 12, 1371 (_i.e._ in the year previous to that of the
Sacrist's account), the lady Philippa, granddaughter of Edward III.,
did present her husband, the 3rd Earl of March, with a daughter who in
process of time became the wife of Harry Hotspur, yet it does not appear
that she was equally blessed during the year 1372-3.

Such duties sensibly performed, William Colchester was not long in
attaining to administrative office. To begin with, Abbot Litlington
chose him as his Custos Hospicii; _i.e._ Seneschal or steward of his
household. We have the roll on which the young monk gave an account of
his stewardship for the year Michaelmas to Michaelmas, 1373-4, and as
the doings it records represent his early experience of that conventual
business in which he was to be immersed for nearly half a century,
we may stay by it for a short space in order to get our impressions.

He found his master in possession of a considerable rent-roll in
various parts of the country, the manors being situate in the counties
of Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford, Surrey, Buckingham, and Middlesex. The
rentals amounted to £696 13_s._ 6_d._, and the sale of stock, including
an ox sold for 18_s._ 4_d._, and a cow--timore pestilencie--for 13_s._,
brought the total to £719 8_s._ 8_d._ Large as this sum sounds,
especially when multiplied to correspond with present values, it was
none too large for the needs of the position. Household expenses,
which are not entered in detail, came to £151 1_s._ 4-1/2_d._ The
purchase of live-stock--grey palfreys, bullocks, cows, steers, sheep,
pigs, swans, poultry, and no less than 966 pigeons at about 1/2_d._
each--required £63 2_s._ 10_d._, and the outlay on dead stock such as
bacon, salt-fish, five barrels of white herring, fourteen casks of red
herring, and three casks of Scottish red herring, amounted to £31 8_s._
4_d._ Lest it should be claimed that the Scottish variety was a special
delicacy, we must add that the latter cost only 4_s._ a barrel as against
5_s._ 6_d._ for the other. Nor, if the quantities seem large, must it
be lightly concluded that there was carelessness in the dispensation;
indeed, it was the Seneschal's duty to enter on the back of his roll
a stock-keeping account, from which it may be gleaned that all the
herrings were consumed and eighty pigs; but there was a residue of five
salt-fish and of two out of sixteen bullocks. Altogether in corn and
wine and clothing and gifts to visitors and in other ways there was an
expenditure of £684 to set against a revenue of £719.

But what we want is an idea of the duties and experiences that came to
the young Seneschal, and this can be obtained from various items. He
gets a pair of my lord's boots mended for twopence, and small sums go in
stringing the great sportman's bows or in buying bags in which to carry
his arrow-heads. That which cost more, and was probably more interesting
to Colchester himself, was the coming and going of personages or their
servants--the squire of the Earl of Cambridge (Edmund Langley, fifth
son of Edward III.), who receives 20_s._ for bringing a letter to the
Abbot from his lord; the Earl of Warwick's steward, who comes to sell
a black palfrey; a monk of his own year, Richard Excestr', who is just
starting on his career at Oxford, and to whom the Abbot gives a fatherly
present of 20_s._; the Bishop of Durham's[15] man, whose master we know
as the builder of Bishop Hatfield Hall, and who is sent with a gift of
two greyhounds to the Abbot. Several messengers arrive from the Prince,
_i.e._ the Black Prince, who is now at Wycombe and now at Kensington, and
Abbot Litlington makes several journeys by boat to call on the Bishop of
Winchester, no less a personage than William of Wykeham, who was in some
disgrace at the time.

Having in this way served the Abbot efficiently, Colchester received
his next responsibility from the whole Chapter, who chose him as Convent
Treasurer, and "Coquinarius" or Kitchener, for the year 1375-6. Happily
we still possess his compotus as such. I must not describe it at length,
but one feature of it, an entry under the head of "pitancie et flacones,"
is of too great interest to be passed by. Pittances were additional
meals on special occasions by way of varying the dreary round of dry
bread and sour wine, which alone could be provided in the Refectory. But
"flacones" seem to be pancakes, and pancakes are a recognized Westminster
institution, though it is no longer the duty of the Convent Treasurer to
provide them for his brethren. I first translate the item as Colchester
entered it:

    "Paid in milk, 'creym,' butter, cheese and eggs bought for the
    pancakes in Easter week, on Rogation days and at Pentecost,
    64_s._ 8_d._"

And now for some further light upon it. In 1389, when Colchester had
occupied the Abbot's chair for three years, the Kitchener was Brother
William Clehungre or Clayhanger, who has left us his bill[16] for
materials, and from this it will appear how the pancake-custom has
developed in the interval. It sets forth his

    "expenses laid out in respect of the pancakes prescribed for the
    brethren and delivered to the monastery according to custom during
    56 days each year, namely from Easter Day to Trinity Sunday,
    in the 12th year of the reign of King Richard II., as appears
    by all the parcels:--

                                                      £ _s._ _d._
    Milk.    First 126 gallons of milk
                   @ 1_d._ the gallon                    10   6

    Butter.  Also 3 gallons 3 qrts of butter
                   @ 2_s._ 4_d._ the gallon               9   4-1/2

    Eggs.    Also 5816 eggs
                   @ 10_d._ the hundred               2   8   5-1/4

    Salt.    Also one peck of salt @ 3_d._                    3
                                               Total £3   8 11-3/4"

Our Kitchener makes some trifling assumptions in his multiplication as
to the butter and the eggs, and he robs the Convent of fivepence when
he adds up the total. The number of eggs sounds large, but it means
only 103 and a fraction daily, and when it is considered that in 1389
the Prior and his Brethren numbered forty-nine persons, this works out
at the by no means excessive rate of 2-1/2 eggs daily to each brother.


But there is a local reason for dwelling on this custom. Westminster
School is admittedly a Tudor foundation, but at the Abbey we cherish
the conviction that its roots penetrate deep down into the monastic
soil. Every Shrove Tuesday the school--in modern times by means of
selected gladiators--makes a furious onset upon a single pancake.
Mr. Sergeaunt[17] speaks of the ceremony as "the sole survivor of the
medieval sports," and adds that "although its origin cannot be traced,
it can hardly have come into being after the date of Elizabeth's
foundation." Is it, then, beyond all likelihood that it arose out of some
ancient protest of our Benedictines against the prospect of being fed
upon pancakes every day for eight weeks? Is it inconceivable that the
successful protestant was conducted at the end of the "greese," as now,
to the Lord Abbot's presence to receive one mark from his lordship's
bounty? All we can say is that the Brethren continued to be similarly
regaled from Easter to Trinity until the Dissolution of the House.



William Colchester ceased to be Treasurer in the autumn of 1376, and
within eight months circumstances had arisen in which his capacities were
to be put to a severer and more prolonged test. We are all familiar with
the expression "St. Stephen's," as applied to Parliament House. But it
is not as readily realized that the House of Commons, after sitting for
long years in the Chapter House[18] at the Abbey, removed itself at
the Dissolution to the ancient Chapel of St. Stephen in the Palace of
Westminster. I am only concerned now with the story of that chapel[19]
as it is related to William Colchester's career. Placed where it was, it
stood within the ancient limits of our Abbot's jurisdiction, but its Dean
and his twelve Prebendaries had good grounds for regarding themselves
as a royal foundation, and they craved the kind of ecclesiastical
independence which attaches to-day to St. George's Chapel in Windsor
Castle. Our Convent resisted this claim, which, on the other hand, had
the good will of the Court. In 1377 a suit to test the rights of the
case was entered before the Roman Curia, and it was necessary to appoint
some careful and astute person to take charge in Rome of the Abbey's
interests, and to negotiate their success. I will not go further into
the merits of the case. It lasted for seventeen years, and was ultimately
settled, on the whole, in the Abbey's favour, the College of St. Stephen
agreeing to pay to the Abbey a yearly sum of five marks, and the right
of the Abbot to instal the Dean of St. Stephen's being upheld.[20]
What concerns us is that the Abbot and Convent chose William Colchester
as their proctor at Rome in this suit, and that by good fortune there
survive long statements of his personal and legal costs in carrying out
the task laid upon him. They will serve as a guide-book of his journey
and will give us considerable insight into his adventures.[21]

He left Westminster on June[22] 10, 1377, and was absent, as he is careful
to record, for two years, twenty-three weeks, and three days. His first
business was to furnish himself with official commendations, and to
this end he sought for royal letters--pro expedicione cause--from the
Keeper of the Privy Seal; he paid 3_s._ 4_d._ to the Keeper's servant to
urge his master to dictate them, and by a like payment he made things
right with the scrivener who would execute them; but the letters were
not ready when he started. Meantime we can watch him as he reckons up
the difficulties of his ordeal. It was arranged that he should go by
way of Avignon, for Master Thomas Southam,[23] Archdeacon of Oxford,
was still there, settling the affairs of Cardinal Langham's will. But
the Pope was no longer there. Gregory XI. had quitted that scene of
luxurious exile and ravenous extortion on September 13, 1376, and had
entered Rome on January 17, 1377.[24] Most Englishmen had resented
the Avignonese sojourn because it threw the Papacy into the hands of
the French, but William Colchester, as he packed his valise, saw the
matter in a different light. Because the Pope had left, there was
no great chance of finding company for the journey;[25] and company
meant so much the more security. There was nothing for it but to hire
a companion, and he found one Gerard of London, who was willing to face
the journey for 20_s._ and his expenses. Colchester is conscious that
this seems an extravagance, but he enters in his account a plea that it
was justified by the variety of language and the dangers of the roads in
foreign parts.[26] For the road to Dover he bought for himself a horse and
saddle which cost 34_s._ 8_d._; but it appears that he rather expected
the man Gerard to walk, for he extenuates a further payment of 26_s._
8_d._ for a horse, a saddle, and bridle for Gerard, by stating that
the man entirely declined to go afoot. Thus mounted, they reached Dover,
where they wasted five days in waiting for a passage, and all the time
the cost of food was mounting up at the rate of sixpence a day for each
horse, and fivepence a meal for each man. The passage, when they obtained
one, cost 3_s._ 4_d._ each for the men, and double for the horses. At
that cost they reached Calais, and within three days were at Bruges,
where again there was a long halt. For the royal letters had not come.
Edward III. was on his death-bed, and passed away eleven days after
our travellers left London. But Colchester is convinced that an enemy
had done this, and when he insists that the issue of the letters has
been frustrated "per aduersarios," we must remember that the Dean and
College of St. Stephen's were closer to the royal ear than our Abbot and
Convent. Whatever the cause, the result was the entry in his account of
the cost of nine days' commissariat at Bruges, together with a reward
of 10_d._ to the hotel servants, which he at once resents and excuses
as being the custom of the country.[27] In brief, he had already spent
nearly all the £10 which he received at his journey's start from the hands
of Brother John Lakyngheth, his rival for monastic promotion.

So now he converts his balance of 16_s._ 8_d._ from sterling into florins,
reckoning a florin at 3_s._ 2_d._ To this he adds seven florins by the
sale of his own horse--a creditable bargain, for, having paid 34_s._
8_d._ for the beast in London, he has ridden it to Bruges, and there
parted with it for 22_s._ 2_d._ On the other hand, Gerard's horse has
turned out badly; the journey has nearly killed it;[28] and it goes for
three florins, or 9_s._ 6_d._ Colchester negotiated a loan of twenty-three
florins, and on they went towards the south, sometimes hiring mounts,
sometimes begging a ride in a cart, often in terror of the Frenchmen,
who laid an ambush for them as they entered Dauphiné, so that our
travellers hired a guide and went through byways. On the 27th day after
leaving Bruges they entered Avignon, and next day they found Master
Southam at his lodgings by the church of Our Lady of Miracles.

For a moment I lay aside Colchester's ledger and turn to a separate
document; for Southam had with him at Avignon another Westminster monk,
John Farnago, who became Colchester's paymaster and in due course
presented to the Abbey an account[29] of what he had laid out on his
behalf. We are thus furnished with the date of the arrival of Colchester
and Gerard--July 24--and learn that they required bed and board at
Avignon till August 19. Farnago purchased for his Brother a fresh
outfit--cape, tunic, and hood of black Benedictine cloth, a scapular
and cowl, and a plain colobium (or sleeveless tunic), buying the last,
as he says, from Hagyuus, a Jew, whose real name was probably Hayyim. He
also provided a horse for the journey to Marseilles, where Colchester
was to take ship, and put some money in his scrip. So our Proctor turned
his back on Avignon, perhaps not fully realizing that when on August 14,
five days before his departure, he and Farnago witnessed the probate of
Cardinal Langham's will,[30] he had been concerned with a document which
was to have a vast effect on the church and the conventual buildings
of St. Peter, Westminster.

We turn back to Colchester's own ledger, and note that he does not enter
the actual date of his arrival in Rome; but we can fix it fairly closely.
He says that, having got thus far, he was obliged to move on to Anagni,
some forty miles southward from Rome on the road to Naples; and we know
that Gregory XI., who had spent the summer of 1377 there, returned to
Rome on November 17.[31] Colchester must have found the Papal Court busy
at the packing of its trunks and must have returned with it forthwith
to Rome; for the first date that he mentions is November 20. It would
be wearisome to pursue the details of his activity in engaging counsel,
English and Italian, and in paying their fees; but it is worth while
to notice that there has been no great change since his day in legal
expressions--retinuit duos aduocatos--and perhaps not a complete reform
of illegal practice; for instance, he explains that he gave six florins
to the valet--cubicularius--of the Cardinal of Milan, who was concerned in
the decision of the case, with a view to the man's stirring up his master
to sign a certain document; the object of the gift, says Colchester,
was greater security, because at the moment there was a fierce altercation
between the parties to the suit.

His expenses, already large, received a sudden addition through the death,
on March 27, 1378, of Gregory XI. Seldom can an observant traveller have
had a more exciting experience than to be in Rome during the session of
the Consistory[32] which set Bartolommeo Prignano, Archbishop of Bari,
upon what Colchester calls "the apex of the chief Apostolate." On personal
grounds our monk must have been pleased at the choice of the electors,
for the new Pope was the special _protégé_ of the French Cardinal of
Pampeluna, Simon Langham's friend and executor. But financially the
effect was provoking. We know that Urban VI. proved himself a man "full
of Neapolitan fire and savagery," who thought "that the Cardinals could
be reduced to absolute obedience by mere rudeness,"[33] and we are quite
prepared for Colchester's statement that between the Pope and the Sacred
College there arose a great dissension. Cardinals and curials fled
secretly, he says, in some numbers, and among the latter the two advocates
whom he had briefed and paid. That money at any rate was a dead loss, but
there was this advantage in Urban's case, that, knowing the preference of
the Cardinals for Anagni as a summer residence, he decided for Tivoli in
their despite, and Colchester could get there in a few hours for a couple
of florins. Six weeks had to be spent within sound of Horace's waterfall
before his business was finished. His return journey led him through Nice,
where he was robbed of his cloak and other property. Then to Avignon
once more, and thence in due course--at least, so he hoped--to the Abbey.

But he was fated, nevertheless, to turn again and revisit the Roman
Court; for while he tarried in Master Southam's lodgings at Avignon,
in September, 1378, there came news of a notable murder committed in the
church of Westminster while the Gospel was being read at High Mass,[34]
on August, 11. The victim was one Robert Hawle, who had escaped from
the Tower and had taken sanctuary at Westminster. The incident had its
political aspects; it raised various perilous questions; and Southam
advised that Colchester should return to Rome in order to counteract any
plots that might be mooted in behalf of the authors of "that horrible
deed." So again the expenses began to roll up--the journey overland
to Marseilles; a passage by galley to Ostia; a sojourn in Rome for the
greater part of December, 1378; gratuities on several occasions to the
Papal janitors for free entrance to the Chamber and the Consistory, and to
the valets for access to the Pope himself; an expensive struggle by each
faction to extract from the Curia the kind of Bull that each side wanted,
in which our Proctor was apparently successful; and a journey from Rome
to Bruges lasting forty-one days. Colchester waited for three weeks at
Sluis to secure a passage across the Channel, in the belief that the
enemy was watching Calais with the intention of doing him violence;[35]
and when he reached his native shore, he rode up to London by ways that
were devious for the same reason, arriving there in November, 1379. It
was neither easy nor without peril to be the chosen representative of
Westminster at the Roman Court.



It is not doubtful that the Abbot and Chapter were well pleased with
Colchester's fulfilment of the duties entrusted to him and that the
large bill of costs was paid, if not with delight, at any rate with
resignation. Of this we have several conclusive indications. First,
within a brief space the Convent again despatched him to Rome, in 1382-3,
doubtless to continue his management of the same suit. This time there
is no record of his payments, nor should we be aware of his journey if
it were not for two documents. One is the Chamberlain's compotus-roll
of 1382-3. These accounts presented a balance of money on the one side,
and a balance of materials on the other side; it was necessary for the
Chamberlain to show, not merely that he had purchased so many outfits, but
that he had distributed these outfits to such and such Brethren. So when
he makes his statement about the habits--panni nigri--he notes that he
did not give these to Brother William Colchester nor to Brother William
Halle, because they were at Rome. No doubt, Colchester had represented
to the Chapter the wisdom of providing him with a companion from the
monastery instead of his hiring a courier as before. The other is a legal
document, whose purport is of some personal interest. When Colchester
left Westminster in 1382-3, Richard Excestr' was about to resign the
Priorship, which he had held only since 1377. Attempts seem to have
been made, perhaps by some of Colchester's Roman friends during his
stay at the Curia, to secure a "provision" of the vacant office for him
from the Pope, and the efforts succeeded. The document in question[36]
bears date January 2, 1384, and is of the nature of a pardon to Colchester
for the prejudice or contempt caused by such efforts to the Crown and
its prerogatives. He denied that he was party to the attempt, and paid
the necessary fee to the Hanaper for his pardon. The Priorship another
took;[37] not, perhaps, because the Brethren thought Colchester unworthy
of promotion or too young for it, but because the interests of the
House required that he should go to Rome, whither he was sent, as the
Treasurers' rolls inform us, both in 1384-5 and 1385-6. The suit against
St. Stephen's Chapel still dragged on, and he alone had the knowledge
and the experience for hastening its delays.

As a second proof of the confidence reposed in him we may note that in
1382[38] he was Archdeacon of the Convent; it is possible that he held
the post earlier; certainly he held it in 1386; and probably he owed it to
the Abbot personally. The office of Archdeacon is proverbially puzzling
to the lay mind, and it may be that the Archdeaconry of Westminster
creates some wonder in the minds even of other Archdeacons. The fact is
that the Abbot in the exercise of jurisdiction over his Westminster area
required the services of an ecclesiastical jurist in matters of divorce
and of excommunication and the like; he needed also some one who would
serve as his pastoral representative to those denizens of the area who
were not on the foundation of the Convent. For this reason, even in
Abbot Ware's time,[39] the Archdeacon was permitted to walk abroad
to the Palace or elsewhere in the discharge of his duties, which,
indeed, might take him much further afield; for when Abbot Colchester
drew up an indenture[40] appropriating to certain memorial purposes the
revenues of Aldenham church, he inserted a provision that the Archdeacon
of Westminster for the time being should be in charge of the parish,
receiving 40_s._ yearly for his labour therein. We have seen that
Colchester's experience marked him out for juridical duties, and we
must assume that he was not without pastoral zeal and aptitude.

A letter in Norman French addressed by "William, Conte de Salisbury"
to Abbot Litlington will help us to see that his duties were of a
varied character. The writer of the letter[41] was William de Montacute,
2nd Earl, who fought at Poitiers and in most of the French wars of his
time. Addressing the Abbot as his dear and faithful friend, he thus
unfolds his story. His servant, Nicholas Symcok, of London, has been
robbed in the middle of June by highwaymen, one of whom, Richard Surrey,
is popularly known as Richard atte Belle. The knight of the road has made
off with some silver plate and £40 in coin, and has taken sanctuary at
Westminster, being hotly pursued by his victim, who finds on Surrey's
person all his lost property, less £5 of the stolen money. Symcok has
deposited his recovered goods in the hands of Dan William Colchester,
one of the lord Abbot's monks, who has laid them aside and placed his
seal upon the package. Therefore, my good Lord--asks the Earl--I pray
you have these chattels delivered up to my servant. This letter bears no
date, and there is no proof that the Archdeacon as such was concerned
with the affairs of sanctuary; nor does any title of office accompany
the introduction of his name. But the incident was one which bore a
legal character and Colchester's part in it may possibly be brought
within the vague limits of archidiaconal functions.[42]

We are fortunate in possessing one unquestionable intimation as to
his personal circumstances while holding this office. It bears date
November 9, 1386, shortly before his promotion to the highest room,
and is an indenture of lease of sheep.[43] It sets forth that Thomas
Charlton, the valet, and Henry Norton, the servant of William Colchester,
Archdeacon of Westminster, leased to John Waryn, butcher, of Westminster,
132 muttons--multones--3 rams, and 168 ewes, of the average value of
20_d._ each, to be fed and kept sound till Ash Wednesday next ensuing; and
there follows a statement of the terms upon which the tenant may acquire
any or all of them. The bargain was apparently made by the Archdeacon's
servants, and the actual document leaves it in doubt whether the sheep
were his or theirs, but the endorsement[44] places the ownership beyond
question and proves the sheep to have been the Archdeacon's.

The third means adopted by the Convent for marking its sense of
Colchester's services to the House was more exceptional. I give the
statement of it as it stands in the vellum volume called _Liber Niger
Quaternus_, a fifteenth-century copy of an earlier black paper register
compiled by a very active monk called Roger Kyrton, or Cretton,[45] who
entered the Convent in 1384-5, served many offices under Abbot Colchester,
and survived him by about fourteen years:--

    "On September 25, 1382, there was granted to Brother W. Colchester
    Archdeacon of Westminster a chamber, together with that part of
    the Garden which belongs to the Lady Chapel; also a pension of six
    marks [£4] and an additional monk's allowance--corrodium--such
    as is enjoyed by the seniors; but on condition that if the
    said William be promoted to any prelacy elsewhere, the pension,
    the allowance and the chamber are to revert to the Convent."

Two questions of topography arise here, the position of the Garden and
that of the chambers, or "camerae." It is not necessary to assume that
they were contiguous. "The part of the Garden which belongs to the Lady
Chapel" cannot be located with certainty, but the Convent Garden lay in
the acres eastward of St. Martin's Church, Charing Cross, which still
retain the name, and are now the scene of the sale of garden-produce
that is grown elsewhere. Our great chartulary called Domesday[46] shows
that the Lady Chapel was given considerable property in this district
during the reign of Henry III., under whom the chapel was built. In
view of our information that within four years the Archdeacon possessed
a flock of 400 sheep, it seems reasonable to suppose that his share of
the Garden included considerable pasturage, and that he sometimes took
his walks abroad in the direction of Charing to see if it was well with
the flocks.

There is less doubt about the position of the chambers, which are
often mentioned in connexion with the Infirmary, and which were
probably attached to Little Cloisters, then recently rebuilt by Abbot
Litlington. To this day the south side of Little Cloisters shows
an alternation of old doors and old windows that suggests a row of
almshouses. It thus becomes easy to realize that a separate residence,
instead of the usual bed in the Great Dormitory, was a privilege highly
prized and rarely conferred.


It is natural to ask in what conditions the tenants of these chambers
lived, and the answer can be given in some detail. We have a long
strip of frail paper,[47] 3 ft. 7 in. × 5-1/2 in., which deals with the
post-mortem distribution of the effects of a monk whom William Colchester
must have known long and well. Richard Excestr' said his first Mass,
as did Colchester himself, in 1361-2; he became Prior quite early in
life, in 1377; but, as we have seen, he resigned the office in 1382,
and we do not know why his tenure of it was so brief. That the reason was
not discreditable to himself may be inferred from the fact that on his
resignation he was given precedence next after the new Prior, receiving
a pension of four marks, a double, or Prior's, assignment of clothing,
and a double share of the pittances that marked certain anniversaries,
till his death in 1397. In this paper, then, his modest effects are
arranged according to the rooms in which they stood, like the items in
an auctioneer's catalogue when the sale is to take place, by order of
the executors, on the premises. We gather that he has a reception-room,
or "aula," where he can entertain a few friends, with a special welcome
for any Brother who can play chess (for among his possessions are a
chess-board and a set of chess-men[48]); a pantry, or "buteleria,"
for his little store of plate and crockery and napery, including
a silver cup and cover, thirteen silver spoons (was it a complete
"Apostle" set?), and a table-cloth 3-1/2 yards in length; a bedroom, or
"camera," containing his white bedstead with a tester over it, and a
"parpoynt," as well as his wardrobe; a kitchen, or "coquina," equipped
with "droppyngpannes," "dressyng-Knyues," "flesshhokys," "anndyrons,"
a "treuet," and three pans which like the trivet are honestly described
in the catalogue as being the worse for wear;[49] and a library, or
"studium," with ten books and three maps. Among these books there was of
course some scholastic theology and canon law, but there was also the
Latin version of the Book of Messer Marco Polo, as if to signify that the
latest modern literature was by no means excluded. The Provost of King's,
who was kind enough to look through the list for me, takes this to be,
as I suspected,[50] a very early instance of English interest in the
Venetian traveller's adventures; and added that he believes it to be
still more rare that a man of this monk's period should possess a map
of Scotland.

As there was nothing exceptional in the disposal of the ex-prior's
goods,[51] the incident may be fairly taken as an illustration of Convent
life as Colchester lived it, and we may therefore go on to notice that,
putting together the sum that Excestr' left in cash and that which was
realized by the sale of some of these articles, the Convent was able
to pay the cost of his illness and burial; the items ranged from 2_d._
for milk to 10_s._ for the fee of the brief-writer who wrote out the
formal announcement of his death on one shilling's worth of parchment
for the information of other Benedictine houses, and £4 13_s._ 4_d._
for a marble slab with a memorial inscription. As Excestr' died in 1397,
we may think of Abbot Colchester as saying the last words over the open
grave of his former neighbour in Little Cloisters.



Our Archdeacon was not destined to remain such for any great time.
On November 29, 1386, there passed away during a meal-time[52] at his
manor house of la Neyte, near Westminster, our great builder, Abbot
Nicholas Litlington, to whom we owe the south and west sides of the Great
Cloister, the Little Cloisters, Jerusalem Chamber, the Abbot's Dining
Hall, and much besides of the present Deanery, and the great Missal.[53]
The vigour of Litlington's character can be realized from what we have
seen of the fight which he maintained through William Colchester for
the privileges of the Abbey, but Colchester must have witnessed a more
remarkable proof of the old man's pluck. In the _Liber Niger_ (f. 87)
there is a record to the effect that a threatened invasion of our
shores by the French King in 1386 caused the Chapter of the Convent to
come to the unanimous opinion that the old Abbot and two of his monks,
John Canterbery and John Burgh, should don full armour and proceed as
far as the coast, on the ground that it was lawful to do so for the
defence of the realm.[54] It is astonishing that Litlington should
have contemplated such an enterprise at his age, for we have a letter
in Norman French, not dated, but clearly referring to this period,
in which he excuses himself on the ground of "age et feblesse" for
not coming to the Abbey "en propre persone" to bring to the King the
famous ring of St. Edward. But Litlington's possession of armour cannot
be doubted. There remains a schedule[55] of his effects at his death,
which shows that those which passed into the hands of his successor
consisted chiefly of various accoutrements, and included six hauberks;
a helmet called a "pisanum"; seven others called basnetts with ventailles
or vizors; a "ketelhat"; a pair of steel gloves; some "leg-harneys";
fore-braces and back-braces; and four lance-heads.


Though general opinion pointed to his election in Litlington's stead,
Colchester was in some danger of disappointment. He had spent so much
time abroad--a very large proportion of the preceding nine years--being
engaged all the time in a cause which brought him into collision with the
preferences of the Court, that it is not wonderful if the King desired
the election of another. We can thus easily credit the statement of
a Westminster chronicler,[56] whom the Dean of Wells believes to have
been the rival candidate himself, that, when the vacancy occurred, the
King wrote thrice to the Prior and Convent urging them to find their
new Abbot in Brother John Lakyngheth, the very Treasurer whom we have
seen in the act of paying to William Colchester the sums required for
his long journeys and his legal costs, perhaps with a keen satisfaction
at thus facilitating his rival's absence. But the Convent had made up
its mind, and within a fortnight[57] of Litlington's decease, Colchester
was elected Abbot by compromission; that is to say, the Brethren chose
a committee of five or seven of their number and entrusted to them
the choice of the best man. Richard II. was angry, and refused for a
while to receive the nomination. We have the request[58] of the Prior
and Convent to the King, written in French, but not bearing any date,
to give his consent to their choice of "daunz William Colchestre un
de lours commoignes en abbe et pastoure." The letter was written at a
time when Richard could be said to have "graciousement accroiez votre
roial assent al election auantdite," and when it was only necessary to
petition him to make formal announcement of it to the Pope. But there
was considerable delay also on the part of the Pope, who wanted to
quash the election and to appoint by "provision."[59] But the King's
ambassador intervened, and the bulls of confirmation were issued
September 1, 1387. Colchester was installed October 12, and made a great
feast to his friends on St. Edward's Day. His temporalities had been
restored September 10.[60] All this places Richard's attitude towards
him in some doubt, especially as, on November 10, the King, who walked
barefoot from Charing to the Abbey precincts, was there received by
Colchester and his Brethren vested in copes. Almost immediately there
arose a difficult question about sanctuary, as to which the reader may be
again referred to the _Polychronicon_.[61] Words almost fail the scribe
as he pictures the reverence and love of the King for the Church. "There
is not a Bishop on the bench," he says, "who displays as much zeal for
the Church's rights."

Thus it came to pass that King and Court alike poured upon the Abbey
the benefits of their generosity in spite of Colchester's election,
and in the case of the Court the gifts came quite as readily from
Richard's enemies as from his friends. Within three months of Colchester's
installation, on December 1, 1387, a deed[62] was executed whereby the
Abbot and Convent bound themselves to observe the anniversary of Thomas
of Woodstock, Richard's uncle and at that time his fierce enemy, and of
Eleanor de Bohun, his wife, in return for a splendid gift, which included
vestments of cloth of gold, broidered with their initials, silver-gilt
vessels for the altar, a silver-gilt thurible adorned with images of
the saints, and two silver candlesticks formed of angels bearing the
heraldic shields of the houses of Essex and Hereford.[63]

Richard's own gifts to the church during Colchester's time were even
more magnifical. On May 28, 1389, there was a royal grant, witnessed by
the Archbishop of Canterbury and many others, conveying to the Convent
a richly adorned chasuble of cloth of gold, two tunicles, three albs,
the orphreys bearing representations of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary,
St. John Baptist, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edmund the King, and
"a certain Abbess." In 1394, after the death of his beloved Queen,
Anne of Bohemia, came Richard's grant of £200 yearly to maintain an
anniversary for her, and for him when he should depart hence;[64] which
was followed in 1399 by his grant to the Abbey of manors and lands in
Middlesex, Bedfordshire, and Berkshire,[65] whence an equivalent in rents
would be derived in perpetuity. To this gift the Dean and Chapter owe
the advowson of Steventon, Berkshire, which they still retain. On the
other side, it may be admitted that Richard made use of the Abbey's
resources; we have his note of hand for a loan of £100, dated September
11, 1397.[66] To what extent he fostered that building of the Nave,
which our documents speak of as the New Work, has been told in detail
elsewhere.[67] It comes to this, that Colchester's effigy in stained
glass looks into the Nave from a window which probably dates from Henry
III.'s time, but it faces towards Purbeck pillars which were the work
of one of our Abbot's most zealous officers, Peter Coumbe. The portion of
the triforium above his window is also due to Henry III., but in his old
age Colchester may well have seen the workmen busy with the erection of
the corresponding section of the clerestory.



As before, if we want to know an Abbot's interests and his manner of
life at home, we shall go to the accounts of his stewards or Seneschals.
His rent-roll is less than Abbot Litlington's, and there are heavier
arrears. The country is greatly unsettled and it is not an easy
time for landholders. We possess a clear "statement[68] of the lands
and apportionments of the lord William by the grace of God Abbot of
Westminster," as audited in the year 1388. The total revenue when fully
paid has fallen to £617 16_s._ 1_d._, but there are arrears amounting to
£104 12_s._ 7_d._ However, if his receipts are less, his stock is still
plentiful; he possesses 58 horses and 19 foals; 351 heads of cattle;
2287 sheep and lambs; and 299 pigs. When he listened to his monks and
lay clerks singing the 144th Psalm, he had every reason to join in the
desire "that our garners may be full and plenteous with all manner of
store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in
our streets: that our oxen may be strong to labour"; and he knew his
times well enough to ask also that there may be "no complaining in
our streets."

We have six rolls of his Seneschals between 1388 and 1403, and we may
put together from these the facts that are to be gleaned about him.
At this time, at any rate, he was a man of good health. There is a
slight reference to an indisposition in 1389, and once there is a fee
of one shilling to a doctor for treating his "tibia," which seems to
have been a peculiarly vulnerable part of monkish anatomy. On the other
hand, he does not appear to have been as fond of field sports as his
great predecessor; at least in 1402-3 his steward bought 359 rabbits, 41
woodcock and a pheasant, which would hardly be necessary if his lordship
were in the habit of inviting the neighbouring gentry to help him keep
down his game. It is evident that his estates are being well managed.
We can tell, for instance, that in 1388-9, on his manors of Eybury,
Denham, Laleham and Pyrford, he sold 215 stone of wool at 1_s._ 9_d._
a stone. He made red wine at Islip, and his price for it was £2 12_s._
6_d._ a pipe. The needs of his own establishment were mainly supplied
from Denham and Pyrford, especially the former; for his accounts are
full of small payments to servants who had driven pigs from Denham
to la Neyte. In other words, when he was in town he did not patronize
the Westminster tradesmen, but he purchased supplies from himself as
over-lord of Denham. For these he paid his factor at Denham the current
price, so that the manor could give a good account of its takings at
the end of the year.

And this careful accountancy went to quite practical lengths. For
instance, the Abbot was wont to receive during each year a large number
of "exennia," which, as we have seen, were complimentary presents
mostly offered in kind. It happens that there is a complete list of
these with the names of the donors for 1388-9. The clergy beneficed
on the estate, such as the rector of Islip, the vicar of Hurley, where
the Abbey had a daughter priory, the rectors of Oddington and Sutton
on the Gloucestershire property, and the vicar of Brailes in Warwickshire;
the heads of the affiliated convents, such as Hurley, Greater Malvern,
Deerhurst, and Pershore; the tenants, such as the miller at Pyrford;
the man who rents the church farm at Longdon; various monks of the
Abbey, such as John Stowe, who brings now a lamb as a peace-offering, now
the results of his skill with the line, a pike or an eel, and now that
which he has taken with his bow, a brace of bittern; and Peter Coumbe,
the Sacrist and warden of the New Work, who offers a swan and a brace
of pheasants. The gifts, in fact, are from all sorts and conditions
of folk. There is the King's larderer with his modest present of fish;
there is Master Thomas Southam, Cardinal Langham's lawyer, who now sends
the Abbot a pipe of red wine, the most costly of all the gifts, in the
hope, no doubt, of continuing to serve his present lordship in a similar
capacity; and, most pathetic of all, there are two women, who claim to
be of the Abbot's kin,[69] and who offer for his acceptance half a dozen
capons. But the point for us is the careful management of his affairs,
which appears in the fact that each of these eighty-three contributions
is entered by the Seneschal at its market-price. The pipe of wine
figures at £2 13_s._ 4_d._; the lamb at 8_d._; the six capons from
the poor relations at 2_s._; and the brace of bittern at 2_s._ 6_d._
Altogether these tributes towards his maintenance save the expenses
of the mansion by £14 11_s._ 6_d._, and a reference to his steward's
balance-sheet under the head of "outside receipts" shows this exact
sum entered as derived from the "exennia" of divers persons. Prudent
housewifery could scarcely go further. On the other hand, he does not
so treat the presents he receives from the great ones of the earth. When
a stag arrives from Windsor, or a buck from the Baroness Despenser,
the cash value of these compliments is not taken into the account;
there is merely an acknowledgment that certain recognitions in money
have been given to the bearers of the gifts.

It is natural to ask whether the accounts show signs of luxurious
habits. Certainly not in his furnishing. Thus, in 1401 he was adding to
the accommodation of his London mansion of la Neyte. For his new parlour
he obtained a cupboard for 10_s._, two chairs for 4_s._ 6_d._, six stools
for 4_s._ 4_d._, and a deal table for the same sum. I think (the word
is not quite clear) that he had a curtain provided for his study-window
at a cost of 1_s._ 8_d._; and there was a fireplace in his parlour,
for which his Seneschal laid out 7_d._ upon coal. Certainly not, again,
in wine and strong drink; for his outlay under this head was about a
sixth part of the sum which he spent upon corn and meat. Nor is there
any evidence that he used his position for the enrichment of poor
relations. It may be that we can detect a needy kinsman in one John
Colchester who was granted 3_s._ 4_d._ by my lord's command at la Neyte
in March, 1389, and it was quite possibly for a sister-in-law--the wife of
Thomas Colchester--that he ordered a diamond ring[70] at a cost of 40_s._
on May 31 of that year, perhaps because it was her birthday. When one of
his servants was sent to Colchester on some personal business of the
Abbot, the man was evidently not expected to comport himself as if his
master's resources were unlimited, for his total expenses were 2_s._ 4_d._

The Abbot liked to have one or two of the younger monks around him,
such as John Sandon and Thomas Merke, whom we have met, as Shakespeare
also met him, in the events that gather mysteriously round the end
of Richard II.'s reign. No doubt, they joined him at table in the new
parlour of la Neyte, but the only sign of further bounty towards them was
a gift of 6_s._ 8_d._ to them jointly for a treat--pro gaudiis--a term
which survives in the custom of applying the word "gaudy" to those College
entertainments to which at the moment Oxford is patriotically a stranger.

When the great man moved about, it was seemingly not with any great
train; otherwise it would hardly be necessary for the Seneschal to
give 1_s._ 8_d._ to a certain man for guiding my lord out of the forest
of Rockingham, as if the Abbot were too lonely to face the possible
appearance of Robin Hood with equanimity. But, of course, there were
exceptional circumstances when he would travel in the dignity of his
position. There was a formal visitation of the manors of Denham, Laleham,
Staines, and Pyrford in 1402-3, which cost over £6, and visits to Henry
IV. in the same year at Ware and Windsor and Berkhamstead, at an expense
of about £4. A short time after, the Abbot had to face a continental
journey, but £4 12_s._ is no great sum to enter as "the expenses of my
lord and his household in setting out for Calais with porterage and the
hire of a boat to take him to the ship, and also the expenses of John
Sandon and John Stowe [two monks] and part of the household on their
way back to London."

Not a little of his petty expenses arose from the frequency with which he
was officially visited by persons of position who were not too proud to
receive a present of money, and would have resented its absence. They
were mostly content with much less than the 20_s._ imparted to the
Remembrancer of the King's Exchequer, but the gifts of 3_s._ 4_d._
mounted up when the Abbot must receive now a Herald and his boy, now
the Sheriff of Middlesex and his valet and his boy, now a messenger
with a summons to Parliament, now two criers from the King's Bench,
and all within a brief space of time.

But Abbot Colchester did indulge one luxury, whether out of a taste for
it or because it was the fashion of the time, I cannot say. He was fond
of being entertained, particularly by musicians; and his Seneschal's
accounts during these six or seven years are full of small payments to
such persons, from a boy who danced before my lord at Walsingham for
6_d._ to Henry the piper--fistulator--who was retained at Pyrford all
Christmas time for 14_s._ He could provide some of this enjoyment from
the resources of the Abbey, as when he made two clerks bring a pair
of organs from Westminster to Pyrford. His chief delight was to have
Master Percyvale and other of the King's minstrels, especially on great
festivals such as St. Peter ad Vincula, and he could listen to Percyvale
for the modest consideration of 2_s._ Evidently it came to be known that
he had tastes of this kind, for William of Wykeham's pipers journeyed
to Pyrford to strut their little hour before the Abbot; Henry Despenser,
the fighting Bishop of Norwich and doughty champion of Richard II.,
sent his minstrels to entertain my lord when he was at Birlingham;
the Duke of Gloucester, Thomas of Woodstock, kept a blind harper who
gave a performance at Denham; and the other visitors included the Abbot
of Eynsham's player--lusor--and the musicians of the ill-fated Earl of
Arundel. Even when he was resident for a space in Northampton for the
General Chapter of the Benedictine Order, he was sometimes entertained
by mummers.[71]

But it would not be fair to think of him as having no desires that
went down to the realities of things. For he lived in troublous times,
and he knew how Christian men should face the serious issues that
then emerged. His duty to the country and to the various properties
for which he stood in trust called him away from Westminster often,
and sometimes for prolonged periods. It is possible by means of the
accounts of his various bailiffs to follow his comings and goings;
for the receipts from the properties must be delivered to the Abbot in
person, and there is thus an entry of the cost of journeying to such
and such a place, wherever he happened to be, and generally of the cost
of one or two horsemen for safety's sake. But the Abbey and the welfare
of his Brethren were in his mind, and he kept a guiding hand upon their
spiritual concerns, particularly in times of trial. There is an instance
of this in a document,[72] which bears no date except August 31, but
which may be assigned with reasonable certainty to Richard II.'s troubled
reign. It is headed in another hand, "W. Abbot of Westminster to the
Prior of the same place"; but this is an error. The Abbot in a quite
exceptional way addresses himself to the officers or obedientiaries
without mentioning the Prior, and I incline to attributing the document to
the latest years of Richard II., because the Prior, John de Wratting,[73]
was then becoming unequal to his duties. It is true that our evidence
for this is dated 1405,[74] but, as Wratting was then over eighty, it
may hold almost as well for seven or eight years earlier. The Abbot's
message is as follows:--

    "My beloved sons in Christ,

    "The most serene Prince our lord the King has urgently required
    of us that in this present time of dire necessity we should be
    instant in prayer to the most High with all our hearts for the
    good estate of King and country. For enemies without and rebels
    within are confederate in their malicious plots to shatter the
    peace of the realm. You therefore to whom (under us) belongs the
    administration of government in our monastery we hereby urge and
    enjoin that, considering what we say above, you should put a
    limit upon the Brethren's walks abroad and upon their ridings
    into distant parts--except of course in the case of the Monk
    Bailiff--until God grants us more peaceful times. Call all and
    singular your Brethren to Chapter and bid them from me to be
    content with their usual recreation within the house and to give
    themselves so much the more earnestly to meditation and prayer as
    the distress and wickedness of the times become more pressing.
    Go in solemn procession every fourth day round the bounds of the
    monastery, and every sixth day through the vill of Westminster,
    praying for a successful issue and for the common weal of
    the King and the realm--petitions which are already earnestly
    commended to the private prayers of all the Brethren. Summon
    all the chaplains and clerks dwelling within St. Margaret's
    parish to join you, and specially the clerks of our Almonry,
    according to custom. Fare you well in Christ now and for ever."

The Abbot wrote from Denham; but his heart was with his Brethren in a
time of trouble.

There are also signs that in normal times he was exercising an effect
on the organization of conventual activity. In his roll for 1393-4 the
officer called the Warden of the Churches made entry that he had paid
to Peter Coumbe, as Sacrist, the sum of 32_s._, at the rate of 4_s._ for
each of the Abbey's eight principal feasts, "in accordance with the
recent ordinance of the lord William now Abbot."[75] It is an intimation
that the Abbot was already making his influence felt, and was encouraging
his Brethren to regard the solemnities of divine worship[76] as the
chief care of their monastic life.



But though we may realize that Abbot Colchester loved his Convent and
cherished it, we still have to think of him as being often compelled to
wander far from it. True, he had spent so much time in Rome before his
election, that he was able to escape in 1390 the triennial visit _ad
limina_ which was normally expected of an Abbot. He was represented
on that occasion by John Borewell, an active and efficient monk, who
had succeeded him in the Archdeaconry in 1387; he was also represented
by the gifts of himself and his Brethren on the occasion of the year of
Jubilee, which are carefully recorded in the _Liber Niger_ (f. 92). But
that exemption did not avail to keep him at home, for we are told that on
December 14, 1391, he set out for the Continent on the King's business,
the King being responsible for his travelling charges and his safe


In 1393 he was commissioned by the Pope to join the Bishop of Salisbury
and the Abbot of Waltham in an inquiry into the statutes and customs of
the Collegiate Chapter of the Chapel in Windsor Castle, and to correct
and reform these, where they seemed to need it.[78] John de Waltham,
Bishop of Salisbury, and our Abbot were there associated not for the
first time or the last. Two years later the Bishop died, and was buried
by Richard's desire in the Confessor's Chapel. Waltham was a successful
favourite, without claim to royal sepulture, and we may assume that
Colchester and the Convent were among the many who protested. It is,
perhaps, not unfair to assert that "the Abbey was well considered for
this," or that the monks' "scruples were overborne by gifts of money and
vestments."[79] Yet it is a fact that, whereas the Bishop was buried
in 1395, the indenture tripartite,[80] which dealt with the use to be
made of the gifts, was not drawn up till July 15, 1412. It recites
that the Bishop, who had served the Kings of England from his boyhood
in their Chancery and in other and higher offices, was buried among
the tombs of the Kings;[81] that at the sight of his bier--we must,
no doubt, think of Abbot Colchester as standing by--Richard II. had
given to the Abbey a rich "Jesse" vestment valued at 1000 marks, and
that the executors had added another vestment valued at £40 and 500
marks in money. Colchester and the Convent covenanted to observe the
Bishop's obit--September 18--which we know they did to the last. They also
admitted into their company one of the Bishop's executors, Ralph Selby,
Archdeacon of Buckingham, giving him precedence next to the Prior with
corresponding privileges, and granting him, in 1402-3, a yearly pension
of £4. This does not support the notion of the Convent's hostility to
John de Waltham; at the same time it occurs too late to be reckoned
as a bargain entered into for the purpose of securing to the Bishop
a posthumous honour which they were unwilling to accord, even when
Richard II. asked for it.

I pass by Colchester's part, if he took any, in Richard's journey to
Ireland in 1399;[82] for our records throw no light on what did not
concern the Convent. There appears to be no doubt that he was confederate
with the Earls of Rutland, Huntingdon, Kent, and Salisbury, who were
at first confided to his safe-keeping by Henry IV.; that he took part
on December 17, 1399, in a secret gathering of the conspirators within
the Abbey; that he was arrested, and sent first to Reigate and then,
January 25, 1400, to the Tower; and that he was released, after a trial
there held on February 4.[83] He had, of course, received Henry IV. when
he made his progress to Westminster on October 12, 1399, and had taken
part in the coronation on the following day.[84]

But inside the Convent there was an evident desire to eschew
partisanships, as any one can realize who reads Roger Cretton's bare
and impartial record in the _Liber Niger_.[85] I therefore pass from
public questions and take up an otherwise undated letter[86] of the Abbot,
written from Cologne on October 10, to two important Westminster monks
whom we have already had before us, Peter Coumbe and John Borewell.
It reveals Colchester's close interest in Abbey affairs, however far
away he might be, and it is even somewhat peremptory in tone. For he
had referred to them some detail of monastic business, and says that
he is daily awaiting their answer, in order that he may take action
accordingly. The Convent, he adds, is to receive with due honour a
relation of the Bishop of Lincoln, remembering that his lordship has
always been gracious to them in matters of conventual concern.

We must try to fix the date of this journey through Cologne, and some
things can be soon settled. It must be before 1409-10, when John Borewell
died.[87] He was in office as Granger, Kitchener, Cellarer, and Gardener
almost till his death, and he had been in partnership with Peter Coumbe,
as manager of the funds provided for Queen Anne's anniversary,[88]
from 1394 to 1399. But who is the Bishop of Lincoln? It is tempting to
think of the princely Henry Beaufort, the most potent holder of the see
at this period; if so, the journey would fall at some time before 1404,
when Beaufort was translated to Winchester, and thus it might even be
got just within the limits of the partnership above-mentioned, for he
was appointed to Lincoln in 1398. But we have evidence pointing to 1407
and 1408 as the time with which the visit to Cologne must be connected,
and bringing Henry Beaufort's help and Abbot Colchester's travels into
further association. It is a tattered paper document[89] which states
that when Colchester was in foreign parts in 1407,[90] the collector
of Romescot for the county of Surrey doubled his demand upon the
chapels of Pyrford and Horsell from 12-1/2_d._ each to 25_d._ each, and
laid them under interdict when payment was refused. But the Bishop of
Winchester issued a special mandate to the collector to desist from the
exaction. Beaufort was therefore not abroad at the time with Colchester,
but was defending his interests at home. But both Colchester and Philip
Repingdon, Bishop of Lincoln, were in Italy in 1408. Colchester was at
Lucca and Pisa in May, supporting the Cardinals who were struggling
with Gregory XII.,[91] and his old friend, Bishop Merke, was with
him. At Siena, on September 18, Gregory created ten new Cardinals,
and one of these was Philip Repingdon.[92] It would be natural that he
and Colchester should then meet, possibly travelling homeward together,
and being in Cologne on October 10.

[Illustration: CORONATION OF HENRY V.]

The matter of the augmented Romescot was brought to an end at Guildford,
says the document, after the Abbot's return to England, July 22,
1412. This must not be interpreted to mean a continuous absence of five
years, 1407-12, for we have seen the Abbot on his homeward way in 1408,
and know that in July, 1411, he presided alone over the General Chapter
of Benedictines at Northampton.[93] His absence in 1412, which is also
substantiated by his bailiffs' payments to a substitute, was due to one
more journey to Rome; for the account of the "Novum Opus" for 1412-3
enters payment, by consent of the Prior and the Seniors, of the large
sum of £33 to the Abbot for the acceleration of certain concerns of
the church in the Roman Court. It is possible that this journey took
place in the autumn; for great events at home, in which the Abbot had
some share, marked the months which followed. Early in 1413[94] Henry
IV. had a seizure while at his devotions in the Abbey, and we should like
to know whether the Abbot was in town and gave his instructions for
the King's removal to the noblest apartment in the abbatial residence,
Jerusalem Chamber, where he died on March 20. It does not appear that
Colchester took any part in the royal obsequies, but there is no doubt
that he assisted at the coronation of Henry V. in the Abbey church on
that snowy Passion Sunday, April 9, 1413. For when the King's chantry
was built, about twenty years after Colchester's death, its famous
sculptures included two Coronation groups--perhaps, the acclamation and
the homage[95]--in each of which the Abbot is represented as standing,
in cope and mitre, on the King's left hand, Thomas Arundel, the Archbishop
of Canterbury, being on the King's right hand. We may also assume that
Colchester was at Westminster to receive Henry, when he attended divine
service in the church on Ascension Day and Whitsunday of that year.[96]
The new King's devotion to the Abbey was beyond question, and his zeal
for the immediate resumption of the New Work in the nave would tend to
keep the Abbot at hand. Operations began on July 7, one thousand marks
a year being granted by the Crown;[97] and Colchester would see things
well in train under the hands of Richard Whitington and Brother Richard
Harwden, before he left the precincts once more.

Possibly he had a rest from travel in the year 1413-4; at least we have
nothing more serious to notice than his Receiver's payment of 8_d._ for
boat hire "when my lord dined with the Archbishop at Lambhyth." But
the autumn of 1414 saw him once more setting out for foreign parts;
for Henry chose him as one of the English delegates to the great
Council of Constance.[98] People spoke of the greatness of his train
as he journeyed. Dr. Wylie remarks that he "was looked upon by the
foreigners as a prince."[99] Perhaps he himself thought sometimes of the
very different circumstances in which he and his man Gerard had crossed
the Channel in fear and trembling, seven and thirty years earlier. He
had been already engaged, as collector of the triennial contribution of
1/2_d._ in the mark imposed on English Benedictine houses, in paying out
loans for their journey to the Abbot of St. Edmundsbury and the Prior of
Worcester, who were the delegates from the Order to the same Council,
and in sending fees to the various counsel who were retained by the
Order at Constance. We have his triennial accounts as collector for 1417
and 1420,[100] which show that the business of the Council hung about
him for the rest of his days; even in the latter, made up long after
Constance had seen the last of its visitors, he was still reckoning the
cost of a monk of Worcester's journey to Constance and back.

How long he remained at Constance, and what part he took in the tortuous
proceedings, we do not know. The spring and summer of 1415 were anxious
times in England, and Henry V. would be glad to have so shrewd an adviser
within reach. The Abbot was now about seventy-seven years of age, and the
lust of travel must have long since ceased. The King's writ went forth
in May for the "Array and Munitioning of the Clergy" by July 16,[101]
and the head of our House would be concerned to see that Westminster did
its duty, _per alios_ if not _per se_. Our Treasurers' roll for 1414-5
shows how Abbot and Convent performed their several parts:--

    "For one new chariot with six horses in the same, over and above
    one [chariot] provided by the lord Abbot, and with a complete set
    of harness for the said chariot and for the horses pertaining
    thereto--the whole being bought and given to our lord the King
    on the occasion of his expedition to France, together with the
    wages of a valet, a groom, and a page for the said chariot,
    and cloth bought for their livery, besides the maintenance of
    the men and the horses aforesaid for three weeks, pending the
    King's departure for France this year. xxxiii. li. xii. d."

If we may take it that the Abbot's expenditure on his chariot was of the
same extent, we have a total outlay of £66, or about £1000 of our money.

Colchester's generally good health began to fail in 1416, and his
apothecary was called in to apply various remedies at a fee of 16_s._
8_d._[102] At home he could still find interest in watching the progress
of the New Work, for the north aisle of the nave was being proceeded
with and the pillars of the triforium above it were being put in their
place.[103] If Henry's gifts for the purpose failed to reach Henry's
expectations and the Convent's, that is only another way of saying that
Colchester's aged thoughts were often occupied with the expedition to
France and the scenes that he knew so familiarly. He may have taken part
in the rejoicings over the victory of Agincourt; he certainly received
a special message about the capture of Rouen in 1418.[104]

He died in 1420 at a good old age, probably fourscore and two, and in
the 34th year of his Abbacy. The exact day is not recorded. We know that
there was much mortality in the Convent during 1419-20. When the Wardens
of Queen Alianore's Manors made up their accounts to Michaelmas (they did
so generally about November), they wrote at the end a sorrowful list of
twelve names with a note that "all these died this year together with the
lord Abbot and Brother Thomas Peuerel." Thus in strictness we might put
his death before September 29. But the rolls were by no means precise in
the matter, and often included those who died at any time before the day
on which the accounts were balanced. Moreover, we have the royal licence
to the Convent to elect a successor,[105] which is dated November 12,
1420. We may therefore suppose that Colchester died late in October or
early in November. He was buried in the Chapel of St. John Baptist,
where his much battered free-stone image lies on an altar-tomb. His
initials still remain, but the heraldry has long since perished, and
his mitre and gloves have lost the jewels that once adorned them. It
adds insult to this injury that his countenance should be described as
"stern and ill-favoured."[106]

But the character behind the countenance is not difficult to sum up.
In his own day he was reckoned to be a man of shrewd judgment and wide
experience; we have noted the far-travelled uses that were made of him
by the Convent and by the Crown, and we can conclude that his judgment
increased in shrewdness as his experience extended in width. Indeed,
he retained this quality to the last. We have seen that there is still
extant an account of his official disbursements in behalf of the General
Chapter of the Benedictines at Northampton for the last year of his life,
1420.[107] It includes payments made, for special services rendered,
to two Westminster monks, who had been bidden to attend the conference.
They were Richard Harwden and Edmund Kirton, and each was appointed Abbot
of Westminster in his turn. It is not every man of eighty-two who is
shrewd enough to pick out his successors for the next forty years, and
at the same time large-hearted enough to give them every encouragement
to fit themselves for the office which he holds. Indeed, his was the
kind of character to which justice can only be done after a lapse of
time. It is necessary to look back at the men who, noting his shrewdness,
came to a conviction that he was also just and trustworthy--Richard II.,
who opposed his election as Abbot, but lived to prove his friendship;
Henry IV., who knew his friendship for Richard, and at first treated
him accordingly, but afterwards found no reason to regret the clemency
shown to him; Henry V., who appreciated his devotion to Richard, and
did not honour him the less because of Henry IV.'s early suspicions;
and the Cardinals and others who met him in the tortuous paths by which
ecclesiastical diplomacy was trying to make its way towards the peace
of the distracted Church. We may leave on William Colchester's memorial
an inscription taken from a letter addressed to him by Thomas Merke,
Bishop of Carlisle, who was conveying to the Abbot a request that he
would use his influence at the Roman Court on behalf of Merton Hall,
Oxford. We shall admit that Merke was his intimate friend, and shall
remember that Colchester showed his own affection for Merke by arranging
that the Bishop should be commemorated at Hurley Priory along with the
Abbot's parents.[108] Merke's witness, however, may still be true.
"Men like," he wrote, "to know your Paternity's views on these matters,
for they observe your solidity, which is a rare virtue in these days,
and they give you their confidence all the more."[109] No other Abbot
ruled our House as long as he; nor could any man of his line desire a
more satisfying verdict on his character.


  Agincourt, battle of, 10, 85
  Aldenham, Herts, church of, 16, 44
  Alianore, Queen, manors of, 85
  Almonry, clerks of the, 71
  Anagni, 37, 39
  Anne of Bohemia, wife of Richard II., 58, 78
  Armour, an Abbot's, 53
  Arundel, Earl of, 68
  Arundel, Thomas, Archbishop of Canterbury, 81 f.
  Atte Belle, Richard, highwayman, 45
  Avignon, 32 f., 35 f., 39

  Beaufort, Henry, Bishop of Winchester, 78 f.
  Benedictines, general chapters of, 19, 22, 69, 80, 82, 86
  Berkhamstead, 66
  Birlingham, manor of, 68
  Bohun, Eleanor de, Duchess of Gloucester, 57
  Borewell, John, Archdeacon, 73, 77 f.
  Briefs, funeral, 51
  Bruges, 32 n., 34 f., 40
  Burgh, John, monk, 53

  Calais, 34, 40, 67
  Cambridge, 17
  Cambridge, Earl of, 26
  Canterbery, John, monk, 51 n., 53
  Chamberlain, duties and accounts of, 41 f.
  Chambers, or camerae, monks', 47-50
  Chapter House, 30
  Charing Cross, 47 f., 56
  Clehungre, William, monk, 28
  Clergy, Array and Munitioning of the, 83
  Cloisters, Little, 48
  Colchester, 15, 16, 65;
    Priory of St. Botolph at, 15 f.;
    parish of St. Nicholas, 15;
    castle of, 16
  Colchester, John, 65
  Colchester, Thomas, 65
  Colchester, William [de], Abbot, portrait in Nave window, 11, 58;
    in Shakespeare's _Richard II._, 14;
    native of St. Nicholas' parish, Colchester, 15 f.;
    parents and relations, 17, 65;
    First Mass, 18;
    probable date of birth, 19;
    at Oxford, 19 f.;
    promoted in Refectory, 20;
    at general chapter, Northampton, 22;
    Abbot's Seneschal, 24 ff.;
    Convent Treasurer, 27;
    proctor at Rome, 30 ff., 41 ff.;
    attempts to secure Priorship for, 42;
    Archdeacon, 43 ff.;
    his sheep, 46;
    his pension, 47;
    election as Abbot, 54 ff.;
    installation, 56;
    details of his establishment, 60 ff.;
    orders prayers in war-time, 70 f.;
    ordinance for payment to obedientiaries, 71;
    supporter of Richard II., imprisoned by Henry IV., 76;
    letter from Cologne, 77-79;
    at coronation of Henry V., 81;
    at Council of Constance, 82 f.;
    chariot provided by, 83;
    death of, 85;
    tomb of, 86;
    character of, 87 f.
  Cologne, 77-79
  Compromission, election by, 55
  Constance, Council of, 82 f.
  Coumbe, Peter, monk, 59, 63, 71, 77 f.
  Covent Garden, 47 f.
  Cretton, or Kyrton, Roger, monk, 47, 76

  Dauphiné, 35
  Deerhurst, Prior of, 63
  Denham, manor of, 61, 66, 68, 71
  Despenser, Baroness, 64
  Despenser, Henry, Bishop of Norwich, 68
  Domesday chartulary, 48
  Durham, Hatfield, Bishop of, 26

  Edmund the King, St., 58
  Edward, Black Prince, 26 f.
  Edward the Confessor, St., 22, 56 f.;
    chapel of, 74;
    ring of, 53
  Edward III., 24, 26, 34
  Excestr', Richard, Prior, 26, 42, 49-51
  Exchequer, Remembrancer of the, 67
  Exennia, given to monks, 18, 21;
    to Abbots, 62 ff.
  Eybury, manor of, 61
  Eynsham, Abbot of, 68

  Farnago, John, monk, 36
  _Flacones_, or pancakes, 27 ff.

  Gloucester Hall, Oxford, 19
  Gregory XI., Pope, 32, 37 f.
  Gregory XII., Pope, 79

  Halle, William, monk, 42
  Harwden, Richard, monk, 81;
    Abbot, 86 f.
  Hatfield, Thomas, Bishop of Durham, 26
  Hawle, Robert, 39
  Henry III., 11 f., 48, 58 f.
  Henry IV., 14 f., 66, 76, 80, 87
  Henry V., 10, 80-84, 87
  Horsell, Surrey, 79
  Hotspur, Harry, 24
  Hurley, Berks., Priory of, 17, 62 f., 88

  Infirmarer, 78 n.
  Infirmary, chambers in the, 48
  Islip, manor of, 62

  James, Dr. M. R., Provost of King's, 47 n., 50, 52 n.
  Jerusalem Chamber, 52, 80

  Kelvin, Lord, 9 f.
  Kirton, Edmund, Abbot, 87
  Kitchener or _Coquinarius_, 28, 78

  Lakyngheth, John, monk, 35, 54
  Laleham, manor of, 62, 66
  Langham, Simon, Abbot and Cardinal, 19, 32, 36, 38, 63
  Langley, Edmund, Earl of Cambridge, 26
  Lethaby, Prof. W. R., 12
  _Liber Niger Quaternus_, 39 n., 47, 53, 73, 76
  Litlington, Nicholas, Abbot, 19, 24-27, 44 f., 48, 51 n., 52-54
  London, Tower of, 39, 76

  Malvern, Prior of, 63
  March, Philippa, Countess of, 23 f.
  Marseilles, 36, 39
  Mary, the Virgin, girdle of St., 22 f.
  Merke, or Merks, Thomas, Bishop of Carlisle, 14, 66, 79, 87 f.
  Merton Hall, Oxford, 88
  Monk-Bailiff, 16
  Musicians, Abbot Colchester's favour to, 67 f.

  Nave, the New Work in, 58 f., 63, 80 f., 84
  Neyte, la, mansion of, 52, 62, 64, 66
  Northampton, 22, 69, 80, 86

  Organs at Westminster, 68
  Oxford, Benedictine students at, 19, 26;
    "Gaudies" at, 66;
    Merton Hall, 88

  Pampeluna, Cardinal of, 38
  Pancakes, monks', 27 ff.
  Percyvale, Master, King's musician, 68
  Pershore, 63
  Pestilence, Great, 19
  Peuerel, Thomas, monk, 85
  Poets' Corner, 11 f.
  Polo, Marco, Book of, 50
  _Polychronicon_, 55 n., 56
  Pyrford, manor of, 62, 66, 68, 79

  Rackham, Rev. R. B., 81 n., 84 n.
  Reigate, 76
  Repingdon, Philip, Bishop of Lincoln, 79
  Richard II., 12, 14, 28, 53-58, 66, 68, 70, 74-76, 87
  Robinson, Dr. J. Armitage, Dean of Wells, 10, 32 n., 52 n.,
     53 n., 54, 72, 83
  Rome, 31, 33, 37-43, 80, 88
  Romescot, collection of, 79
  Rouen, capture of, 85

  Sacrist, 23, 63, 71
  St. Edmundsbury, Abbot of, 82
  St. John Baptist, chapel of, 86
  St. Margaret, Westminster, parish of, 71
  St. Peter ad Vincula, feast of, 68
  St. Stephen's, Westminster, Dean and Canons of, 30 ff., 43
  Salisbury, William de Montacute, Earl of, 44 f.
  Sanctuary, 39, 45
  Sandon, John, monk, 65, 67
  Scott, Dr. E., Keeper of Muniments, 13
  Selby, Ralph, Archdeacon of Buckingham, monk, 75
  Seneschal, or steward, the Abbot's, 22, 24, 45 n., 60 ff.
  Sergeaunt, John, _Annals of Westminster School_, 29
  Skilla, or Refectory bell, 21
  Southam, Thomas, Archdeacon of Oxford, 32, 35, 39 f., 63
  Staines, manor of, 66
  Stanley, Dr. A. P., Dean of Westminster, 11 n.
  Steventon, Berks., 58
  Stowe, John, monk, 63, 67
  Sutton, Gloucs., 62

  Tivoli, 39

  Urban VI., Pope, 38 f.

  Waltham, Abbot of, 74
  Waltham, John de, Bishop of Salisbury, 74-76
  Ware, 66
  Ware, Richard de, Abbot, 22, 44
  Warwick, Earl of, 26
  Westminster Abbey, memorial windows, 10;
    Muniment room, 11, 13;
    Poets' Corner, 11 f.;
    Abbot's rent-roll, 24, 60;
    pancakes at, 27 ff.;
    Monk-Bailiff, 16; Treasurer, 19 f.;
    Refectory, 21;
    Abbot's Seneschal, 22, 24 ff., 45 n.;
    Sacrist, 23;
    Kitchener, 27 f.;
    Chapter House, 30;
    suit against St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, 31 ff.;
    enriched by Langham's will, 36;
    murder in the choir of, 39;
    Archdeacon of, 43 ff.;
    Lady Chapel, 47;
    Convent Garden, 47 f.;
    royal gifts to, 57 f.;
    New Work in Nave, 58 f., 63, 80 f., 84;
    prayers in war-time at, 70 f.;
    Confessor's Chapel, 74 f.;
    Henry IV.'s death at, 80;
    Henry V.'s chantry, 81
  Westminster Abbey, Almonry, clerks of, 71
  Westminster Abbey, _Customary_ of, 18, 22 f., 44
  Westminster Abbey, Monks of, how named, 15;
    how admitted, 17 f.;
    exennia given to, 18;
    Great Pestilence among, 19;
    at Oxford, 19 f.;
    clothing of, 41 f.;
    chambers or camerae for, 47-50;
    funerals of, 51;
    in armour, 53;
    chariot provided by, 83.
  Westminster Abbey, parish of St. Margaret, 71
  Westminster Abbey, Sanctuary at, 39, 45
  Westminster School, "greese" at, 29
  Whittington, Richard, 81
  Windsor Castle, 64, 66
  Windsor Castle, St. George's Chapel in, 31, 74
  Woodstock, Thomas of, Duke of Gloucester, 57, 68
  Worcester, Prior of, 82
  Wratting, John de, Prior, 43 n., 70
  Wykeham, William of, 27, 68
  Wylie, Dr. J. H., 79 n., 81 n., 82

       *       *       *       *       *


       *       *       *       *       *


[Footnote 1: "Such were the Abbots of Westminster," says Dean
Stanley (_Memorials_, 3rd ed., p. 394), after recording the
little that he knew of them, adding that, "if from the Abbots
we descend to the Monks their names are still more obscure."]

[Footnote 2: Act iv. sc. 1, ll. 332-3.]

[Footnote 3: Act v. sc. 6, ll. 19-21.]

[Footnote 4: _Mun._ 5259.]

[Footnote 5: _Mun._ 5260, A.]

[Footnote 6: The reader who wishes to know what parts of this ancient and
interesting church were known to Abbot Colchester may be referred to the
details and the plan given in the Herts. volume of the Royal Commission
on Historical Monuments, 1911, p. 31 f.]

[Footnote 7: _Mun._ 3571; October 5, 1411.]

[Footnote 8: _Customary of Canterbury and Westminster_, H.B.S. i. 261,

[Footnote 9: This custom will be treated in greater detail in the
introduction to a Register of the Westminster Benedictines, which will
be issued shortly.]

[Footnote 10: Reyner, _de Antiq. Benedict. in Anglia_, App., p. 55.]

[Footnote 11: This sum is roughly equivalent to that which an economical
undergraduate spends at the present time.]

[Footnote 12: Cf. _Flete_, ed. J. Armitage Robinson, p. 70.]

[Footnote 13: The inventories of the Monasteries imply that the blessed
Virgin was industrious with her needle.]

[Footnote 14: _Customary_, ii. 49: Idem vero secretarius zonam beatae Dei
genetricis, ubicumque destinetur, sumptibus suis portare vel, si per alios
portatur, expensas eis exhibere tenetur, cum vectura, si forte indigeat.]

[Footnote 15: Thomas Hatfield, Bishop of Durham, 1345-81.]

[Footnote 16: _Mun._ 27968.]

[Footnote 17: John Sergeaunt, _Annals of Westminster School_, pp. 57,

[Footnote 18: The building is still in the sole care of His Majesty's
Office of Works.]

[Footnote 19: Cf. J. T. Smith, _Antiquities of Westminster_, 1807, p. 38,

[Footnote 20: J. T. Smith, _Antiquities of Westminster_, 1807, p. 100;
Widmore, _History of Westminster Abbey_, pp. 103-4.]

[Footnote 21: _Mun._ 9256, C, D.]

[Footnote 22: The manuscript actually says July; but what follows shows
this to be an error; _e.g._ he was at Bruges for the two feasts of June
24 and June 29.]

[Footnote 23: Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, _Simon Langham, Ch. Quart. Rev._,
July, 1908, p. 358.]

[Footnote 24: Cf. L. Pastor, _Geschichte der Päpste_, i. p. 109.]

[Footnote 25: Non potuit reperire societatem versus Auinionem.]

[Footnote 26: Propter diuersitatem lingue et viarum discrimina in
partibus transmarinis.]

[Footnote 27: Prout modus est patrie.]

[Footnote 28: Infirmabatur per viam quasi ad mortem.]

[Footnote 29: _Mun._ 9228.]

[Footnote 30: Widmore, p. 191; _Mun._ 9225.]

[Footnote 31: Pastor, _Gesch. d. P._ i. p. 113.]

[Footnote 32: See the account in Pastor, _Gesch. d. P._; and Creighton,
_Hist. of the Papacy_, i. 61 ff.]

[Footnote 33: Creighton, _ibid._, p. 67.]

[Footnote 34: Cf. _Lib. Nig. Quat._ f. 88b, 89; J. C. Cox, _Sanctuaries_,
p. 51 f.; G. M. Trevelyan, _England in the Age of Wycliffe_, p. 87.]

[Footnote 35: Quod non erat ausus transire per Calis' propter metum

[Footnote 36: _Mun._ 9503.]

[Footnote 37: Viz. John de Wratting, Colchester's senior by about
eighteen years.]

[Footnote 38: Cf. _Mun._ 18478, D.]

[Footnote 39: _Customary_, ii. 95.]

[Footnote 40: _Mun._ 5260, A.; December 3, 1407.]

[Footnote 41: _Mun._ 9615.]

[Footnote 42: On the other hand, Colchester may have come into the
affair either as Abbot's Seneschal or as Convent Treasurer.]

[Footnote 43: _Mun._ 5984.]

[Footnote 44: Indentura Willelmi Colchester de ouibus suis ad firmam

[Footnote 45: Cf. Robinson and James, _Manuscripts of Westminster Abbey_,
p. 96 f.]

[Footnote 46: F. 507-69.]

[Footnote 47: _Mun._ 6603.]

[Footnote 48: Tabularium cum familia.]

[Footnote 49: Debiles.]

[Footnote 50: Cf. Col. H. Yule, _Marco Polo_, vol. i., Introd., §§ 75-8.]

[Footnote 51: There are corresponding records in the cases of Abbot
Litlington (_ob._ 1386), _Mun._ 5446, and of John Canterbery (_ob._
1400), _Mun._ 18883.]

[Footnote 52: In manerio de la Neyte, hora prandendi (_Lib. Nig. Quat._
f. 86).]

[Footnote 53: Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, _The Abbot's House at Westminster_,
chap. ii., and Robinson and James, _Manuscripts of Westminster Abbey_,
pp. 7 ff.]

[Footnote 54: See an article by the Dean of Wells on the Array of the
Clergy in July, 1415 (_Nineteenth Century and After_, July, 1915, p. 86).]

[Footnote 55: _Mun._ 5446.]

[Footnote 56: Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, _An Unrecognised Westminster
Chronicler_, pp. 16, 22.]

[Footnote 57: _Lib. Nig. Quat._ f. 86, says December 10, 1386; but the
Westminster chronicler in the _Polychronicon_ (see J. Armitage Robinson,
_op. cit._, pp. 9, 22) says December 21. It is suggested that the
difference of eleven days represents the period during which the King
was supporting the cause of Lakyngheth.]

[Footnote 58: _Mun._ 5431.]

[Footnote 59: Volens sicut alias cassare electionem et electo postea
providere; Higden, _Polychronicon_, ix. pp. 98, 102; Robinson, _op. cit._,
pp. 9, 23.]

[Footnote 60: _Flete_, p. 138.]

[Footnote 61: April 18, 1388, p. 178.]

[Footnote 62: _Mun._ 9474.]

[Footnote 63: For the graves of the Duke and his wife, see E. T. Murray
Smith, _Roll Call of W.A._, p. 51 f.]

[Footnote 64: _Mun._ 5257.]

[Footnote 65: _Mun._ 7579.]

[Footnote 66: _Mun._ 5922.]

[Footnote 67: R. B. Rackham, _Nave of Westminster_, pp. 8-12.]

[Footnote 68: _Mun._ 6165.]

[Footnote 69: De consanguinitate domini, ut dicunt.]

[Footnote 70: Anulus de auro com diamandys.]

[Footnote 71: Interlusores.]

[Footnote 72: _Mun._ 6221.]

[Footnote 73: His record will be given in the Register referred to on
p. 18, note.]

[Footnote 74: _Mun._ 9500.]

[Footnote 75: Ex noua ordinacione domini Willelmi nunc Abbatis. The
ordinance applied to other obedientiaries.]

[Footnote 76: The Dean of Wells edited in 1908, for use in his chapel,
a service of Compline derived from a Bodleian manuscript (Rawl. Liturg.
g 10) which belongs to our Abbot's period.]

[Footnote 77: _Lib. Nig. Quat._, f. 87b: et dominus Rex suscepit eum et
omnia bona sua in proteccione sua.]

[Footnote 78: _Kal. Pap. Registers_, iii. 456.]

[Footnote 79: Widmore, p. 109; E. T. Murray Smith, _Roll Call_, p. 53.]

[Footnote 80: _Mun._ 5262, A.]

[Footnote 81: Infra regiam sepulturam.]

[Footnote 82: Thomas Merke, Bishop of Carlisle, is mentioned, but not
Colchester, in the list of those summoned to attend the King. Rymer,

[Footnote 83: J. H. Wylie, _Henry IV._, vol. i. pp. 91, 92, 108.]

[Footnote 84: _Ibid._, p. 44.]

[Footnote 85: Lib. Nig. Quat., f. 86b:--

    Anno Domini millesimo ccc xcixº et regni regis Ricardi
    secundi xxiii incipiente. In vigilia Nativitatis sancti Johannis
    Baptiste venit Henricus dux Herford versus Angliam Et in vigilia
    apostolorum petri et pauli venerunt prima noua ad Westm de
    aduentu ipsius. Et iiii^{to} die Julij applicuit apud Pylevyng.

    In vigilia sancti petri advincula fugit Rex Ricardus secundus a
    facie ducis Henrici Et postea in vigilia Assumpcionis beate marie
    captus est et se submisit ordinacioni prelatorum et procerum

    In crastino sancti laurentii feria secunda venerunt Londonienses
    ad Inquirendum Regem Ricardum II^{um}.]

[Footnote 86: _Mun._ 1653.]

[Footnote 87: Infirmarer's account, 1409-10.]

[Footnote 88: Administrator participationis Anne Regine.]

[Footnote 89: _Mun._ 1676.]

[Footnote 90: There is another means of verifying the Abbot's absence
daring this year. His farm-bailiffs, whose duty was to deliver rents to
him personally, paid them at this time to the Abbot's Receiver instead.]

[Footnote 91: Widmore, p. 110; J. H. Wylie, _Henry IV._, iii. p. 349;
Creighton, _Hist. of the Papacy_, i. p. 218.]

[Footnote 92: Wylie, _op. cit._, p. 348.]

[Footnote 93: _Lib. Nig. Quat._ f. 90.]

[Footnote 94: About Mid-Lent; J. H. Wylie, _Henry IV._, iv. p. 103.]

[Footnote 95: Sir W. H. St. John Hope, _Funeral, Monument, and Chantry
Chapel of Henry V._, p. 173.]

[Footnote 96: Cf. J. H. _Wylie, Henry V._, p. 203.]

[Footnote 97: The details are given in R. B. Rackham, _Nave of
Westminster_, pp. 13-17.]

[Footnote 98: Rymer, _Foedera_.]

[Footnote 99: J. H. Wylie, _The Council of Constance_, p. 80.]

[Footnote 100: _Mun._ 12395, 12397.]

[Footnote 101: Cf. J. Armitage Robinson, _Array of the Clergy, Nineteenth
Century and After_, July, 1915, p. 87.]

[Footnote 102: Abbot's Receiver's roll, 1416-7.]

[Footnote 103: Rackham, _Nave_, p. 16.]

[Footnote 104: Et dat' seruienti principalis Baronis portanti noua de
captione ciuitatis Rothemagensis (Abbot's Receiver's roll, 1417-8).]

[Footnote 105: _Mun._ 5440.]

[Footnote 106: Neale and Brayley, _Westminster Abbey_, ii. p. 184.]

[Footnote 107: _Mun._ 12397.]

[Footnote 108: _Mun._ 3571; _see_ above, p. 17.]

[Footnote 109: _Mun._ 9240. Vident etenim vestram soliditatem, que rara
virtus est modernis diebus, et illo specialius in vobis confidunt.]

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Transcriber's Notes:

This author sometimes uses the old-style "u" form for "v" in Latin
transcriptions, _e.g._ "noua" for "nova."

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