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The Whilton Dispute, 1264-1380

The Whilton Dispute, 1264-1380: A Social-Legal Study of Dispute Settlement in Medieval England

Robert C. Palmer
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 318
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  • Book Info
    The Whilton Dispute, 1264-1380
    Book Description:

    Robert C. Palmer examines the Whilton dispute, an intrafamilial, multigenerational contest over a large estate that continued, primarily in the courts, from 1264until 1380.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5635-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Documents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xv)
  6. A Simplified Whelton Genealogy
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  7. A Whilton Dispute Chronology
    (pp. xvii-2)
  8. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-27)

    This book is concerned with the social history of the English state, particularly with English law in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A few words are therefore necessary to explain the nature of the social history of the state and the particular relation of legal history to social history.

    Social historians will not immediately consider the state to be within their proper purview. There is no precise determination of the nature of social history, but the standard areas of demography, wealth distribution, family structures, and social mores will seem quite distant from the traditional investigation of the growth of the...

  9. CHAPTER 2 The Origins of the Dispute
    (pp. 28-60)

    For the first decades of the Whilton dispute, argument focused on a transaction between William de Whelton and his second son, Nicholas de Whelton. At that time—the early 1260s—William was undisputedly the lord of Whilton. His father had held Whilton as early as 1235¹ and had been properly active in the affairs of the county, serving as one of the coroners of Northamptonshire, an elective office.² By 1257, however, he was dead. William, as his son and heir, had then inherited Whilton together with other manors, apparently without any problem. At his father’s death, William was already married,...

  10. CHAPTER 3 The Assize of Novel Disseisin and the Attaint
    (pp. 61-86)

    The normal forms of litigation in the king’s court in late-thirteenth-century England will inevitably seem strange to a modern student. We think most readily of making one’s complete case in the first piece of litigation presenting all the reasons and evidence that support one’s claim. Ultimate right and possession are determined at the same time in the same action. Any further legal action will normally be by way of appeal on the same facts, merely alleging that they have been misconstrued or that the first case was somehow procedurally incorrect. It was otherwise in England in 1300. The facts of...

  11. CHAPTER 4 The Writ of Entry and the Writ Certiorari
    (pp. 87-123)

    The next step in the attempt to regain Felicia’s inheritance was the purchase of a writ of entry. During the litigation in the form of the assize of novel disseisin the recognitors had related the whole story about the Wheltons and the title to their lands. All that discussion was needed merely to discover whether Felicia’s occupation of Whilton was such that it gave her seisin. The assize was not precisely concerned with matters of right and title. Writs of entry, on the other hand, put into issue a very specific point of title to land, how the defendant or...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Securing Title to Whilton
    (pp. 124-151)

    The montgomerys had succeeded in litigation against the Mortimers, but the judgment was only their first step in actually securing the title to Whilton. They still had to make themselves the effective lords of Whilton. The unfree tenants would cause little problem, but the Montgomerys would have to deal at length with the free tenants, who were much more able to resist. The litigation springing up between them and their free tenants should be seen as a clean-up operation following their victory over the Mortimers. But the Montgomerys also had to make it more difficult for the Mortimer heir to...

  13. CHAPTER 6 Litigation by Writ of Right
    (pp. 152-164)

    In September 1295, about four months after the initiation of the action of entry alleging intrusion and more than a year before that case was to be pleaded, Hugh de Mortimer purchased his writ of right close. If this action were to come to a conclusion, the dispute itself would be concluded, because the issue in a writ of right did not focus merely on one aspect of the title but was framed in the broadest possible form to determine which of the parties had the greater right to hold the land. After that issue was decided, there could be...

  14. CHAPTER 7 The Interlude
    (pp. 165-178)

    Between the adjournment in 1299 and the reappearance of the dispute in 1329, no real progress was made in settling the title to Whilton or in reconciling the various descendants of Joyce. By the 1320s, of course, all the original parties to the dispute were long since dead; but they had bequeathed their descendants an inheritance of litigation. In such a family, it was unlikely that litigation would simply cease until 1329. Certain auxiliary disputes, such as that concerning the manor of Norton, would inevitably continue. More important were the cases of debt, detinue, annual rent, and trespass, which demonstrate...

  15. CHAPTER 8 Resumption and Compromise
    (pp. 179-191)

    The manor of Whilton had now become a traditional subject of litigation between Felicia and her heirs and Joyce and her heirs. It had been no real surprise that Hugh de Mortimer’s daughters had remembered to revive the dispute in 1321; it was to be expected that they would try again. Nevertheless, some of the emotional content of the dispute must have disappeared. William de Nevill was the second husband of the half-sister of the father of Margaret and Joan; James de Nevill (William’s son) was their (half) first cousin. It was no longer a contest between mother and daughter....

  16. CHAPTER 9 Formedon and the Use
    (pp. 192-209)

    The final concord of 1330 and the marriage between James and Joan effectively resolved the dispute between the Nevills and the Mortimers, but only at the expense of the rights of others: the descendants of Felicia’s daughter and the heirs of Robert Burnel. In the final concord James granted a fee simple to Geoffrey de Cornwall, from which Geoffrey then regranted James and Joan the more limited estate of the fee tail. The problem was that James purported to give Geoffrey more than he himself had. The final concord of 1290 (Document 25) had established a fee tail for Felicia...

  17. CHAPTER 10 Conclusions
    (pp. 210-220)

    The Whilton dispute is but one example of dispute resolution. It is not so much typical as archetypical. No one would assert that the normal dispute over real property was so complicated. Many disputes were settled quite satisfactorily completely without resort to the law courts; many others were effectively settled merely with an assize. How frequently such litigation might become so prolonged is unknown. My guess is that the Whilton dispute was unusually long but that many cases were at least similar to it in that the single entry on the plea roll represents a much more intricate legal and...

  18. APPENDIX 1 Auxiliary Documents
    (pp. 221-244)
  19. APPENDIX 2 Statutes
    (pp. 245-274)
  20. APPENDIX 3 Glossary of Legal Terms
    (pp. 275-278)
  21. Notes
    (pp. 279-286)
  22. Index
    (pp. 287-295)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 296-296)