Treasures of Worcestershire’s Past: ~26~ Unusual Seals

  • 23rd May 2014

This week’s Treasure has been chosen by Angela Downton, Senior Archives Assistant. Whilst working on one of our existing collection she discovered an unusual example of a seal attached to one of the documents. This is just one example of the hundreds of fascinating seals that can be found amongst our collections at The Hive. Here, Angie tells us more about the item: 

Whilst repackaging a collection of deeds from the Clarendon collection, I came across a very unusual seal. It depicts a man knelt in prayer, his cowl and beard clearly visible.

Thomas Priest’s seal

The seal is attached to a deed realting to a burgage in Leominster dating from 1391. A burgage was a town (“borough’) rental property (to use modern terms), owned by a king or lord. The property (“burgage tenement”) usually, and distinctly, consisted of a house on a long and narrow plot of land, with a narrow street frontage. Rental payment (“tenure”) was usually in the form of money, but each “burgage tenure” arrangement was unique and could include services, such as being a religious benefactor.

This particular burgage was granted to Joan wife of Bartholomew by Thomas Preostes [Priest] and John Panel. We do not know if the seal is simply a play on words or if Thomas was actually a priest.

The seal of Joan attached to the same document is unfortunately damaged but you can still see her gown and the jesses; strips of leather which were tied to the feet of hawks. Part of the hawk is clearly visible on her arm. The hawk, was a symbol of wealth and nobility and a common motif on seals of aristocratic women.

 Joan’s seal

Translation of the deed in the Clarendon Collection to which the seals are appended:

[Editorial note: Apostrophes have been used to indicate where a word or name has been abbreviated in the original document, and not extended in the translation.  Square brackets contain information supplied by the translator.]

Let men, present and future, know that we Thomas Preostes and John Panel of Eton’[1] have given, granted and by this our present charter confirmed to Joan wife of Bartholomew le Corveser’[2] of Leominster all that burgage with buildings and all their appurtenances in Leominster situated in the street towards Eton’ between the land formerly of Walter Lacy on the one part and the land sometime of William de Waketon’[3] on the other part, and extends from the king’s highway to the land once of Robert Fauconer, which certain burgage we once had of the gift and feoffment of Hugh Ewyas.  To have and to hold all of the aforesaid burgage with buildings and all their appurtenances aforesaid, to the aforesaid Joan and her heirs and assigns forever, of the Chief lords of that fee by the services owed in respect thereof and by right accustomed.  In witness whereof we have affixed our seals to this our present charter.  These being witnesses: Richard Lorym[er][4], Walter Hoker’, John Hood, Hugh Wheoler, Walter Wyg’ and others.  Given at Leominster on Thursday next after the feast of St Richard the Bishop[5] in the 15th year of the reign of King Richard II after the Conquest [Thursday 4th April 1391].

The Clarendon collection deed with seals appended

This document is held by Worcestershire Archive Service and can be viewed in the Original Archive Area at The Hive at reference 705:255/BA1545.

Further reading: Louise J. Wilkinson, Women in Thirteenth-Century Lincolnshire. (Studies in History, n.s.), 2007

[1] Probably Eaton, a hamlet of Leominster. 

[2] A corvesour or cordwainer was  a shoemaker or basketmaker; someone who manufactured other leather items

[3] Perhaps Wacton near Bromyard, Herefordshire.

[4] A lorimer was a craftsman who manufactured small metal objects, such as spurs or bits for horses

[5] Bishop of Chichester, d. 3 April 1253

One response to “Treasures of Worcestershire’s Past: ~26~ Unusual Seals”

  1. Roger Leake says:

    Very interesting Angie. I must look at the document some time soon (thanks for the ref. no.).