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William Morland


Picture: The Man of Law (Sargeant at Law) from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer printed by Richard Pynson, London: 1492

William Morland was instituted Sutton March 13th 1461/2. He resigned 1488.

From 1463 to 1465, a severe epidemic of plague hit the entire kingdom. In 1467 another epidemic swept through parts of England, and was possibly national in scope.

Source: GOTTFRIED, Robert S (1983), The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe, London: Robert Hale.

The following extracts indicate that William Morland was active in buying, selling and renting property during the 1460s, the early years of Edward IV reign.

"10. William Morland, clerk, and John Burton, clerk, and Robert Irland, and Clementia, his wife. Premises in Shordyche. (Remainders). Anno 4. (1465)"

"16. Robert Kirkeham, clerk, keeper of the rolls of Chancery of the lord the King, John Catesby, one of the serjeants-at-law, and William Morland, clerk, and Henry Waver, citizen and draper of London, and Cristina, his wife. Premises in Chelcheheth. Anno 5. (1466)"

"17. George, archbishop of York, William Moreland, clerk, John Broun, William Staveley, and Henry Upton, and Richard Paunton, and Matilda, his wife. Premises in Herfeld. Anno 5. (1466)"

"39. William Morland, clerk, John Davyson, clerk, Baldewin Hyde, clerk, Thomas Bledlowe, citizen and grocer of London, and Peter Pekham, esquire, and John Bagot, and Agnes, his wife. Land in Westburn. Anno 10 (1471)."

Source:'London and Middlesex Fines: Edward IV', A Calendar to the Feet of Fines for London & Middlesex: volume 1: Richard I - Richard III (1892), pp. 202-212.

Another extract also shows him busy with property.

"By 1465 Henry Waver was in possession of property in Chelsea and he and Christine granted to Master Robert Kirkham, Keeper of the Chancery Rolls, John Catesby, sergeant-at-law, and William Morland, clerk, two messuages in Chelsea, one newly-built with an enclosed garden, and the other adjoining in which Peter Carpenter lived, rendering 4d. a year to Waver, and with a warranty against Christine's heirs. It was quitclaimed to the three and to the heirs of Kirkham by two Londoners, probably feoffees."

Source: 'Landownership: Other medieval estates and freeholdings', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 12: Chelsea (2004), pp. 121-123.

There is some evidence that the William Morland who was Rector of Sutton was the Master of the Rolls (February 12, 1471 - April 29, 1471).

We know from his will that he was lawyer in the Chancery court.

The title of the office of "Master of the Rolls" derives from the fact that originally, the office-holder was a clerk responsible for keeping the "Rolls," or records, of the Chancery court.

The Keeper or "Master of the Rolls" and Records of the Chancery of England, is the third most senior judge of England and Wales, the Lord Chancellor of Great Britain traditionally being first and the Lord Chief Justice second.

We can see that William Moreland was involved in a property deal along with George Neville the Archbishop of York. George Neville was lord Chancellor and keeper of the great seal at the time. It appears that William Morland's career was letting him move in higher and higher places.

The name William Morland also is given (for the same period) as the Warden of the Domus conversorum, a hospital for Jews who had been converted to Christianity in New Street, the present Chancery Lane in the city of London. This is because the house was annexed for ever to the Mastership of the Rolls in 1377.

The accounts of the wardens and the grants occasionally made to converts show that the house was used for its original purpose for more than two centuries longer. The number of inmates was, however, always very small: in the second year of Henry V (1415) there were eight converts, but often there were not more than two.

Source: 'Hospitals: Domus conversorum', A History of the County of London: Volume 1: London within the Bars, Westminster and Southwark (1909), pp. 551-554.

According to "Biographical illustrations of St. Paul's cathedral" By George Lewis Smyth published in 1843, In 1476 William Morland was appointed to be the Prebend of Ealdland of St Pauls Cathedral.

A prebend is a type of benefice, which usually consisted of the income from the cathedral estates, in this case his allowance was drawn from the tithes at Ealdland near Tillingham in Essex. It was valued in the King's books at five pounds per annum.

William Morland's immediate predecessor in that benefice had been Benedict Burd or Burgh who was appointed in 1472. Benedict Burgh is mentioned in William Morland's will as one of the people to be present at his burial.

The Prebendry of Ealdland seems to be on the 'tick list' of rising royal and church servants. The man before Benedict Burgh who was Prebend of Ealdland was Richard Martyn. He had been archdeacon of London in 1469. In 1471 he was one of the King's councillors in Wales and became chancellor of the marches. He was a diplomat sent on missions to Scotland, Burgundy and Spain. He became Lord Chancellor of Ireland and was consecrated Bishop of St Davids in 1483. The politics of the time were turbulent and he was first deprived of his living and reinstated following his support of Richard duke of Gloucester's usurpation of the crown.

Another link between St Nicholas and St Pauls Cathedral is that a William Bennet LLD was appointed Prebend of Ealdland in 1526. Is this the same William Bennet LLD who was Rector of Sutton in 1527?

Other details from William Morland's life indicates that he was a valued royal servant and that he continued to accrue benefices and influence during his life.

From the "Calendar of the Patent Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office" published by the Public Records Office in 1901

1479 April 29. Windsor. Grant to Master John Gunthorpe, prebendary of the prebend which Master Thomas Boleyn lately had in the king's royal chapel of St. Stephen within the palace of Westminister, of the prebend which William Morland lately had in the same chapel, on exchange of prebends...

1481 Feb. 12. Westminister. Grant to William Morland, prebendary of Beaminster Prima in the cathedral church of Salisbury, of the prebend which David Hopton had in the king's free chapel of St Stephen within the palace of Westminister, on exchange. Mandate to the dean and chapter of the cathedral church of Salisbury to admit the said David (sic).

1484 April 26. Nottingham. Grant to William Morland, one of the clerks of Chancery, of 10 pounds yearly at the receipt of the Exchequer until he shall be promoted by the king to an ecclesiastical benefice of the value of 20 pounds yearly.

There are many mentions of William Morland in the archives of the Public Record Office. These are mainly law suites and fines in which he was involved.

Sometime between 1475 and 1485 a certain William Monkey, servant to Master William Morland who was then described as a master in Chancery was taken to court by the mayor and aldermen of London.: They alledged procedure in an action, contrary to the privilege of Chancery. The case was heard before the Lord Chancellor, the Bishop of Lincoln.

One case stands out. Some time when Thomas Angewyn was Abbot of Chertsey, either between in 1461 and 1462 or more likely in either 1464 or 1465 he was involved in a case brought before the Lord Chancellor over the enclosure of 'Benehyll' common. He was fighting for something in his home Parish.
http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=7&CATID=-2418919

From the Autumn of 1479 to the Autumn of 1480 a combined epidemic of bubonic and pneumonic plague devastated all of Britain.

Source: GOTTFRIED, Robert S (1983), The Black Death: Natural and Human Disaster in Medieval Europe, London: Robert Hale.


William Morland died in 1492 when his will was proved.

"P.C.C. II DOGETT (Latin Will)
William Morland clerk St. Stephen Westminister, Sutton, Surrey.

To be buried in the Low Chapel of St. Mary under the Chapel Royal of Stephen Prothemartyr in Westminister in prescence of the Chaplain of said Low Chapel of St Mary and Masters John Fowkes sometime clerk of said Chapel of St Stephen, Benedict Burgh (and other dignitaries). My two volumes MSS to the said chapel of St. Stephen and to the Minister there for my burial. Also my book called Henry Harpe. To Master William Kelett clerk my kinsman my book of Statutes and my Register of Briefs in Chancery. To John Chapman my server 10 pounds. To --------- Philipp my server 50 shillings. To Robert Brown 25 shillings and 8 pennies. To William Lewen chaplain to pray for my soul 20 shillings. and to said Master William Kelett my kinsman for his life all my lands and tenements freehold by Custom of the Manor in town and parish of Sutton, Surrey the remainder to Henry Morland son of Hugh Morland my kinsman and his heirs. If said Henry die before William Kelett then reversion to said Hugh Morland at death of William Kelett. Also all my residue to Hugh Morland my sole Executor."

Source: Hooper, H. J. 'Some Surrey wills in the prerogative court of Canterbury, 1'. Surrey Archaeological Collections, 51

The 5 books that William Morland left in his will (Two volumes left to the chapel of St. Stephen, his book called "Henry Harpe" and the book of Statutes and the Register of Briefs in Chancery) represent a great amount of money. The labour involved in producing books made them very expensive indeed. Each volume of lambskin parchment represented a whole flock of sheep - so publication, such as it was outside the monasteries, basically meant lending a manuscript to another scholar, handing it to a copyist or getting a famous person to comment on it.

He calls one of the books "Henry Harpe". It is hard to tell what such a name means, a manuscript called "Henry Harpe" could be any one of the following:

A book composed by Henry Harpe
A book copied by Henry Harpe
Sermons preached by Henry Harpe
A book that belonged to Henry Harpe
A book containing writings by various people of whom the first or most important is Henry Harpe.

But William Morland was a lawyer as well as a priest and so this may have been a books of hours, a psalter or simply a text book of laws.