Finding Henry – the Templars in Britain after July 13112 December 2015
After the Order of the Temple was dissolved in Britain in July 1311, the Templars were sent to monasteries to do penance for their alleged sins. As no monastery received more than one Templar, they were scattered across the country. Individual bishops issued instructions for the Templars entrusted to their care, but many of these instructions have not survived. Sometimes individual Templars were mentioned in government documents or bishops’ records, but others simply fell out of view.
When I wrote The Knights Templar on Trial I tried to find out what had happened to each of the Templars in Britain. Alan Forey had found a great deal of information, published in his article ‘Ex-Templars in England’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 53.1 (2002), 18–37. But some Templars remained elusive.
One of the elusive Templars was Henry of Halthon or Althon, lieutenant-commander of the Templars’ commandery of Lydley in Shropshire. It was known that he went to a monastery in the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, but which monastery?
The mystery is now solved! Henry went to the Abbey of St Peter’s in Shrewsbury. At the very end of the second copy of the enrolled accounts for the Templars’ former estates in Shropshire and Staffordshire for 1311–13 (The National Archives E 358/19 rot. 36 dorse) is a section setting out the payments to be made to former Templar employees and members in those two counties for those years. There are payments to John of Golstrode, who worked at the manor of Lydley; Richard Neville, ditto; and Master Richard of Gloucester who was paid an annual pension and wages for his clerk and a garcio (a lad or boy). Then there are payments of four pence a day to Brother Thomas of Wohope, former commander of Temple Bisham, who was at Much Wenlock Abbey; and Brother Henry de Halghton, who was at St Peter’s Abbey, ‘Salop’ (i.e., Shrewsbury).
Brother Henry’s new home was a Benedictine abbey which was relatively close to his former base at Lydley, in a town where the Templars owned a house worth 20 shillings a year (TNA E 358/18 rots 4 and 54). Perhaps he already knew some of the monks there.
But this information is not in the first copy of the enrolled accounts, only in the second, corrected copy: demonstrating the importance of checking all the records, and not only a selection.
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