Knights Templar

Christiana goes to court

E 142-115 Christiana claims her rights
In October 1310, King Edward II wrote to the sheriff of Worcestershire, instructing him to look into claims by one Christiana, widow of Sampson of Hull (Hull Croome, now known as Hill Croome). She claimed to be entitled to income from the former Templar estates in Hull Croome, granted to her by Brother Robert de Turville, former master of the Templars in England. Her claims were wide sweeping: she wanted six quarters of wheat per year (two quarters at Michaelmas (29 Sept.), two at the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2 Feb.) and two at the feast of St John the Baptist– 24 June), two cartloads of hay, two of fodder and two of wood each year, the right to pasture two cows in Hulle with the Templars’ oxen and to have and hold a certain house with sufficient yard space next to the gate of the Templars’ house at Hulle.

Was Christiana taking advantage of the Templars’ arrest to try to claim some of their lands? The sheriff duly assembled twelve good men and true, who took the required oath and investigated the matter. They declared that Christiana was within her rights! She was entitled to everything she claimed, which Brother Robert had granted her in return for her donation of some of her dower-land to the Templars, after her husband’s death. Her husband’s son and heir, John, had also approved her donation.

Hill Croome church and view across the Severn valley (photo H. Nicholson)

So Christiana was in the clear: the jurors supported her claim. One of her intentions in making her donation to the Templars would have been to provide for herself during her widowhood. The arrest of the Templars and government take-over of their property left her without the protection and support she had hoped to gain through her gift. She was fortunate to have the means to challenge the king and claim her rights.

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