by Brian Burton

TLHS Home Page

Patrons of the society

TLHS publications

Meetings and events

People and places of interest in Thurrock


Sports and leisure

On the eleventh day of June, in 'the sixth year of the reign', a charter (Fig. 1 is a copy of a version displayed for many years in the old library in Grays) was issued in the name of Richard, king of England, duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and count of Anjou, confirming that the manor of Thurrock had been granted to 'our beloved and faithful knight', Henry de Grai. Although the charter is similar to thousands of others dealing with land transfer, it has features of both local and national interest. Its octocentenary draws close, posing the question of when it should be celebrated. Henry's descendants, including a pathetic young pseudo-queen who lost her head and a regicide who quarrelled with Cromwell but still died in bed, achieved both fame and notoriety, and have much to tell us about socio-political climbing and falling in earlier days. Of greater local interest is the fact that Henry and his direct descendants were lords of the manor for three centuries, their name being used to distinguish the Thurrock of the charter from other Thurrocks. This illustrates some of the ways in which Essex place names evolved, and leads to questions about developments in South Essex before Henry arrived. Henry's status in the feudal society in which he lived is indicated by certain conditions imposed upon him, if he is to hold his newly acquired manor 'in peace freely and unmolested', and by the appended signatures. The charter also draws attention to other features of this society, such as the 'granting' of land to a man who has already bought it from somebody else and, since the manor was sold to Henry by Joseph, son of Isaac the Jew, the legal position of the Jews in Richard's England, but these and other national matters are largely outside the scope of an article concerned with local history.

Fig. 1a - A Copy (not a facsimile) of the Charter

Ricardus Dei gratia Rex Angliae, Dux Normandiae et Aquitaniae, Comes Andjou, Arhiepiscopis, Episcopis, Abbotibus, Comitibus, Baronibus, Justiciis, Vicecomitibus, Senioribus, Prepositis, Baillivus et omnibus ministris et fidelibus suis Salutem Sciatis nos concesisse et presenti carta nostra confirmasse dilecto et fideli militi nostro Henrico de Gray manerium de Torroc cum pertinentibus quod est de feodo Comitis de Ferrarys ut idem faciat eidem comiti quod de manerio illo debet fieri: de hac re emit idem manerium cum pertinentibus de Josceo filio Isaac Judeo cui idem Comes de Ferrarys illud manerium venditum sibi et primogenito suo Isaac carta sua confirmaverat Quare volumus et firmamus precipuum quod dictus Henricus et heredes sui post eum predictum manerium cum pertinentibus Habeant et teneant burgum et in pace libere et quiete integritate plenarie et honorifice per servicium quod idem debet fieri Comiti de Ferrarys in omnibus locis et rebus ad id manerium pertinentibus cum omnibus libertatibus et liberis consuetudinibus suis et cum omni integritate sua Testibus Willelmo filio Radolf Turroc Senior Normandus, Willelmo de Stagno, Guarino de Glanion, Gilleberto Males Manis, Willelmo de Grendoyn, Ricardo de Willekier et pluribus aliis Data per manum Magistri Eustacii Sarx Decumani Turroc agentis vicem cncellarii xi. die Junii apud Vallem Rodolfi anno vi. regni.

Fig. 1b - A Translation

Richard by the grace of God, King of England, Duke of Normandy & Aquitaine, Count of Anjou. To the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, Counts, Barons, Justices, Viscounts, Lords, Sheriffs, Bailiffs and all his servants and faithful subjects greeting Know that we have granted and by this our present charter have confirmed to our beloved and faithful knight Henry de Grey the Manor of Thurrock with its appurtenances which is of the fief of the Count de Ferrarus on condition that he do the same for the said Count which ought to be done for that manor on which condition he bought the same manor with its appurtenances from Josceus the son of Isaac the Jew to whom the same Count de Ferrarus by his charter had confirmed that manor when sold to him and his heir male Isaac Wherefore we will and confirm to the said Henry and his heirs after him the hereditament of the aforesaid manor with its appurtenances Let them have and hold the manor-house in peace freely and unmolested in its entirety and honourably for the service which ought to be rendered to the Count de Ferrarus in all places and matters pertaining to that manor with all its liberties and free customs and in all its entirety Witnesses William Fitz-Radolf of Thurroc a Norman knight, William de Stagno, Guarin de Glanion, Gilbert Males Manis, William de Grendoyn, Richard de Willekier and many others Given under the hand of Master Eustace Sarx, Dean, of Thurrock, holding the office of Chancellor on the eleventh day of June at Rochester in the sixth year of the reign.

Fig. 1 Charter of Richard I Granting the Manor of Thurrock to Henry de Grey (This was displayed for many years in the old library at Grays)

The Date

The early Plantagenet kings of England, prior to Edward I (1272 - 1307), took their coronations as marking the start of their regnal years. When Henry II died, Richard 1 called himself dominus (lord), until the coronation ceremony made him rex dei gratia (king by God's grace). One reason for the interval between accession and crowning being kept short was that any rival claimant would risk eternal damnation if he ignored God's will; although Richard, the first king since the Norman Conquest to succeed by incontestable hereditary right, was probably too conscious of his own ability as a soldier to feel much need to expedite divine assistance in defence of his rights. However, he was anxious to be off to the Holy Land, on the crusade he and Philip Augustus of France were already committed to, which made an early coronation desirable. Despite Richard's sense of urgency, two months elapsed between the death of Henry II, in France on 6th July, and the coronation of his eldest surviving son, in Westminster Abbey on 3rd September 1189. The sixth year of the reign thus began on 3rd September, 1194, and the charter confirming Henry de Grai's ownership of his manor was signed on the 11 th June 1195. Changes resulting from the Calendar (New Style) Act of 1750, by which eleven days were removed from September 1752, mean that the 800th anniversary of the signing will be Friday, 23rd June, 1995.

Next page Next page

Return to top