Osbert de Spaldington

Osbert de Spaldington was a Knight, Justice, and Royal Officer under Edward I, performing many Royal Commissions between 1292 and 1298.

He first shows up in the records in 1280/1 when William de la Launde obtained a licence from Archbishop William Wickwane to let  50 acres of land in Micklefield, to Osbert de Spaldington. Between 1285 and 1291 he appears frequently in the records of Chancery, described as a Knight, where his loans to other Knights and merchants were recorded.

The first mention of his offices occurs in 1290 when he was named as a Clerk of the Berefeld, in the chapter house of Beverley. The Berefellars were seven rectors of the choir in Beverley Minster, and probably took their name from their ceremonial robes which were probably lined or trimmed with bearskin. It would appear that Osbert had little time to attend this office in person, as in 1291 his proctor appeared in his place at a meeting in the Chapter House.

From early 1292 Osbert appears as one of the King's Justices, when he was appointed, with Roger de Burton, to hear complaints in Scotland. Their wages were of 5s. a day for 22 weeks, up to the 15th June. The following month, he joined Nicholas of Salgrave Senior, and John of Southwell, as justices of the peace to hear and determine the complaints of the persons of the Isle of Man.

In 1293 he was preparing an inquisition, extent and rental of the king's recently acquired manor of Wyke (renamed Kingston upon Hull by Edward in 1299). Various other Royal Commissions up and down the country throughout 1293 kept Osbert busy.

It is not known how Osbert came to be trained in the law, or the date of his initial appointment. We do know that in 1296 he is listed in the Wardrobe Book as a Knight of the Royal Household.  This position is explained by Britannia as follows:

Edward I added to the bureaucracy initiated by Henry II to increase his effectiveness as sovereign. He expanded the administration into four principal parts: the Chancery, the Exchequer, the Household, and the Council. The Chancery researched and created legal documents while the Exchequer received and issued money, scrutinized the accounts of local officials, and kept financial records. These two departments operated within the king's authority but independently from his personal rule, prompting Edward to follow the practice of earlier kings in developing the Household, a mobile court of clerks and advisers that traveled with the king. The King's Council was the most vital segment of the four. It consisted of his principal ministers, trusted judges and clerks, a select group of magnates, and also followed the king. The Council dealt with matters of great importance to the realm and acted as a court for cases of national importance.

In 1294 his scope was expanded to include more diplomatic and military work. In April he accompanied Eleanor, the king's daughter, to the Continent. She had recently married Henry III, Count of Bar. In late 1294 he was in Wales, recruiting for the king to put down a Welsh rebellion, and in 1295 he was despatched to the 'northern parts' to guard the coast from Lynn to Berwick from the threat of French invasion. On hearing of a French-Scots treaty Edward raised a powerful army in March 1296 to meet him at Newcastle, and ordered Osbert to support him with a fleet of 100 sail. Edward wanted to deal ruthlessly with the threat from the Earl of Buchan, who had crossed the border and attacked Carlisle, but being repulsed had moved eastwards towards Hexham.

On the 16th May, 1296, Edward committed to Osbert the keeping of the castle, the town and county of Berwick upon Tweed. Osbert was still Sheriff of Berwick in 1297, but in 1298 Osbert's fortunes changed, dramatically.

For reasons that are as yet unclear he incurred the king's displeasure, and his goods and lands were taken into the king's hands in early 1298. An extent of his possessions was then taken, and has been printed in An Aristocratic Wardrobe of the Late Thirteenth Century: the Confiscation of the Goods of Osbert de Spaldington in 1298.

Osbert then petitioned the king, and his petition survives in The National Archives, under reference: SC 8/45/2233 

1) He asks the king to summon Osbert's accusers before him and his auditors, and if Osbert cannot clear himself of their evil accusations, then the king may do as he pleases with his body and land as his lord, for he has never committed any trespass against him. He also complains that the king's people have taken almost all his possessions, so that he is reduced to depending on the generosity of his friends. He asks the king that he might have his charters and deeds, which were taken into the king's hands, and that he might be able to have enough from his goods to pay the redemption which he was lent to have his deliverance from prison.
2) He asks the king to deliver to him the land which belonged to Robert de Espaulington who died at Stirling Bridge in the king's service, whose heir he is, as the inquest has been returned in Chancery, and Osbert is ready to do for the king what he ought to do.

The Petition is endorsed: Coram rege.To the first petition: the king will consider it when he has time.To the second: he is to sue the inquisition which has been held, and if it is found that he is the next heir, justice is to be done to him according to the law etc.These petitions are extracted because they ought to be returned before the Chancellor.

From the above, and the reference to an Inquisition (Post Mortem) in Chancery, and a corresponding entry in the Fine Rolls, we know that Osbert had an elder brother, Robert of Spaldington, who held land of the king in Santon and Clixby, both in Lincolnshire. The Inquisition took place on the 24th  September 1298, and Osbert, aged over 50, was declared his next heir.

By 1300, Osbert had recovered some of his goods and lands, including land in Micklefield which was also held by his brother Robert, of the Archbishop of York. By 1303 he had regained the remainder of his lands, but he never held high office again.

Osbert appears to settled into local affairs. He is named as the attorney for William de Ros, Lord of Hamelak, in 1303. In addition to the lands inherited from his brother Robert, Osbert held land of the king in Spaldington. In Kirkby's Inquest, the Inquisitions of Knights' Fees of 1303, it tells us that 4 carucates and 7 bovates in Spaldington of the Mowbray fee was held by Osbert de Spaldington

Osbert probably died in 1305, as in January 1306 a debt of 50 marks was registered in Chancery, where the debtor was Brother Henry, Abbot of Rievaulx, and the creditor was named as Osbert de Spaldington, knight, recently deceased.

Little is known about the family of Osbert de Spaldington. We do know that before 1228 there was another Osbert de Spaldington, and Lecia his wife, who made a gift to Ellerton Priory (EYC XII, 72), and in 1303 there was a Roger de Spaldington, who held 2 carucates 5 bovates of the Mortemer fee, while Osbert held half a carucate of the same fee along with half a carucate of the Mauley fee, (EYC XII, page 86). This Roger of Spaldington, possibly Osbert's son, obtained a licence to have divine service celebrated for 5 years in an oratory in his manor of Spaldington, in April 1310. In 1346 we hear of another Osbert de Spaldington, when he is noted as holding the manor of Water Fulford of the Ros family.