Middle English Word of the Moment

Monday, September 20, 2010

Thomas the fugitive, run to ground

Well. Not quite. But I know where he was in February 686 years ago. That counts for something, right?

So, part of trying to understand the history and composition of a manuscript I'm working on involves tracing the Engayne family and trying to ascertain just what they were doing in the Lancastrian rebellion of 1321-22. John Engayne, the head of the family, was the patron of the priory that wrote the chronicle, and it's probably safe to say that he (or his heir of the same name - he died sometime in the second half of 1322[1]) gave the priory the documents which it appended to that chronicle, and (most likely) contributed to their opinions, knowledge and loyalties about the events in question. Unfortunately, I can't say for certain that he even participated. However.

Going through the Patent Rolls, I find passing references to various other members of the family - mostly uninformative notices such as their signatures as witness on various grants and so forth, not enough to say which Engaynes were about at the time, especially since many of them shared names. But even without knowing which is which, many of the references are suggestive. In 1326, for example, while Edward is a little busy with a certain invasion, two different Engaynes are among those listed as committing acts of violence against the lands of men who are away in the King's company, armed in his service. There are similar moments leading up to the battle of Boroughbridge in 1322. Nothing that one could cite as definite evidence of the activities of John Engayne, but certainly suggestive of the loyalties of some other members of his family.

However, I am most fond of one Thomas Engayne. I have no idea how he is related to the others, but I like him most of all because he is absent from the Fineshade manuscript. Absent, that is, from the list at the end of the chronicle of those who have fled overseas following Boroughbridge, even though the only other extant witness of this list includes his name. Omission, possibly, but is it likely that one could accidentally forget to copy the name of one's patron's family?

Sadly, I could find nothing more about this Thomas - until yesterday.

January 30, 1323. Stow Park. Writ of aid for John le Barber, Andrew Roskyn and Richard de Mereworth appointed to arrest Nicholas de la Beche, knight, Jakemin de Darynton, John de Hereford, parson of the church of Depeden, Robert de la Lee, Walter de Brawode, John de Goldyngton, knight, Thomas Rocelyn, knight, Robert de Burter, John de Rothyng and Thomas de Engayne. By K. (Edward II vol. 4, p. 238)

He's back in the country! And they don't want him. The Engaynes, by the way, have a manor at Darington, so there is a connection there with at least one of the other knights in company with him.

I thought I would hear no more about this fugitive band, but apparently they were more sneaky than expected! Almost a year later, they are still at large, and their hunter is very belatedly uncovering their tracks:

January 6, 1324. Henley. Writ of aid for John de Weston, commissioned to arrest Walter de Lutz, now prior of Bermundeseye, Bartholomew de Whytsand, his fellow monk, Jacominus Darynoun called James de Darynton [Jakemin from the previous writ?] and Percival his brother, and Peter de Mountmartyn, brother of Sir Ponsard de Mountmartyn and Thomas Rosselyn and Thomas Dengayn; it having been found by inquisition made by John de Weston and Hamo de Chigwell that the said prior and his fellow monks Bartholomew de Whytsand and Godfrey de London had received the said Jacominus, Percival and Peter and other persons adherents of the rebels, and especially of Thomas Rosselyn and Thomas Dengayn, knights, in the priory of Bermundeseye, co. Surrey, and aided them from the feast of St. Nicholas 16 Edward II [6 December 1322], until Shrovetide [8 February 1323], when they permitted them to go away at the expense and mounting of the said prior. By K. (Edward II vol. 4, p. 358.)

This sounds like the stuff of a Walter Scott novel. Roving bands of fugitive knights, outlawed for their part in fighting for the cause of (today's flavour of) justice, hunted by authorities, sheltered in secret by small, sympathetic convents. Just don't mention that little cote you raided for poultry (and/or women) last Sunday.

[1] He died sometime during that regnal year, ie, between July 1322 and June 1323, but we have a presentation dated January 4 1323 of a new rector to a church in his estate, performed by Edward II because John Engayne is dead and his heir is underage. I think it's probably safe to say that he didn't die on January 1, 2 or 3.