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Waleys a suspected compiler of the Geste
|Sir Roger de Doncaster|
Syr Roger of Donkestre or Syr Roger de Donkesley of the Geste, also known in later ballads as 'Red Roger' is thought from the lines, to have been the lover of the Prioress of Kirklees1.
"For the love of a knyght,
Syr Roger of Donkesley [or Donkester in other versions],
that was her owne special"
A 'Roger de Doncastre' was rector of Thwing Parish Church in the mediety of Octon from 1274 until sometime before 128014 while on 13th March 1301 perhaps the same Roger de Doncaster is described in a quitclaim as a clergyman with a manor at Hornington3 (9.5 miles S.W. of York near Bolton Percy beside the River Wharfe). The quitclaim was witnessed by a Robert de Pavley. Clergymen were given the title of 'Sir'. In 1306 Roger the chaplain was sent as a priest, by the Archbishop of York, to Ruddington near Nottingham.4 In 1309 a Roger de Doncaster ['Sir Roger De Doncastria'] was charged with adultery with Agnes, wife of Philip de Pavely. He is further mentioned as vicar of Ruddington in 1328. By 1333 a person of the same name was imprisoned in Nottingham for trespass of vert in Sherwood. Certainly the author of the Geste could have included characteristics of such a person into the ballad.
The Wakefield Court Rolls record that on 22nd January 1327 the Court ordered 8 acres at Crigleston (Crigglestone) be given to Roger, son of William de Doncaster. Roger was therefore a contemporary of Robert Hood of Wakefield.2 The steward for the manor of Wakefield is mentioned in the introduction to the W.C.R. for 1331-3 [p xiii] as a John de Doncaster. Again in 1333, Roger de Doncastre was named as the son of William de Doncastre at the Stanley Court, both of Crigglestone. Elias and his son Thomas are also mentioned here5. Elias is described as the brother of William.
Sir John de Doncaster6 Justice of gaol delivery, oyer and terminer ['to hear and judge'], Justice of Court and Common Pleas [WCR], steward of Wakefield manor and steward to the abbot of St. Mary's.8 In 1951 P. Valentine Harris recognised this person was a knight, from the Wakefield Court Rolls, as well as a steward for earl Warrene8. His stewardship of Earl Warenne's lands occurred in 1302 the same year a Roger de Doncaster is recorded as being a chaplain.13
From February 1323 to April 1324 'he was entrusted with the stewardship of those lands the
Warrene had lost to Thomas of Lancaster in 1317, and which in 1322 had forfeited to the king" [Ed. II].
9 Harris appears to be amazed that there was a family in Wakefield called 'De Doncaster' but this should not be so surprising for it merely refers to someone whose family moved from Doncaster, which in sensible terms is not far afield. Indeed there was a Michael De Doncaster who in the early 1200's married Idonia d. of Hugh Pincerna of the Butler family of Skelbrooke and in the W.C.R. for 8th January 1333 an Elias De Doncastre of Crigglestone who is shown elsewhere in W.C.R. to be the brother of William De Doncastre. What really did excite Harris was the fact that he found in the W.C.R. for 22nd Jan.1327 at the Wakefield Court :
Extract from the Wakefield Court Roll for 1327
Translation: John Attelme surrenders 22 acres in Crigleston. Committed to Robert del Dene [1 acre]; Matilda handmaid of Henry del Dene, and her son [1 acre]; Roger son of William de Doncastre [8 acres]; William son of John [7 acres]; Adam Attegrene [2 acres]; and Robert son of John [3 acres].
Harris also found that Roger de Doncastre was fined 2d. on the 7th July 1327. His name appears agsain in 1333 in the W.C.R. but a person with the same name was located in a previous record dated 18th March 1301-2, reprinted in Yorkshire Deeds, Record Series II, No. 1. p.82 :- "Release by Henry de Holn, parson of the church of Ryther, to Sir William son of Sir William de Ryther, of all right in the manor of Hornyngton [eight miles S.W. of York] Witnesses.... Roger de Doncastre, chaplain".
Harris speculates that there could not be two Roger de Doncastres in Yorkshire living at the same time, nor is it likely that two could be found throughout England. Harris becomes quite convinced that this is the Roger de Doncastre of the ballads of Robin Hood. However the difference between 1301-2 and 1327 is slightly more than a generational gap [~ 25 years] and thus they could conceivably be two different people, perhaps the earlier Roger being a kin-relative [see Holt's statement below]..
Walker in the W.C.R. found that, on the 8th Jan.1333, six years after Roger had been mentioned, a Robert Hode of Stanley was fined 6d.
John de Doncastre was also a Justice of Common Pleas [W.C.R.] and appointed to a number of Peace Commissions for the West Riding. Similar commissions can be found for the years 1334-62. There is now evidence to link this John de Doncastre who held a toft in Wakefield to the Doncastres of nearby Crigglestone which together with the onomasty and geographical link indicates that he is of the same family:-
15th December 1332 at York -
Confirmation of the following grants by John de Warenna, earl of Surrey, the king's kinsman, to John de Gayregrave: (1) grant in fee simple at the rent of 5s. payable at the three terms appointed in the said earl's lands, of a toft in Wakefeld, which he lately took from John de Donecastre, then steward of the earl; (2) grant in fee tail at the rent of 13s. 5d. payable as above of a bovate of land in a place called Beskerode in the reeveship (prcepositura) of Thornes and 8 acres and 1 rood of land called Rodeland in the same; (3) grant to him, Elena his wife, William their son and the heirs of the body of William at the rent of 6s. payable as above, of a several estate called the Hallerode, containing 30 acres of arable and pasture land and 6 acres of meadow, in Horbury, together with common of pasture, as well in woods as in all other pla.ces, and all other easements to the same pertaining, with remainders if the said William die without heir to John son of the aforesaid John de Gayregrave, and to the said earl and his heirs. By p.s. [C.P.R. Dec 1332, p. 378.]
A speculative genealogical tree for the Doncasters 'Danecastre' may look like this, and warrants further research:
Michael de Doncaster============Idonea Pincerna [Butler] of Skelbrooke
d. 1240-6 |
/?/ 2 generations
Nicholas de Doncaster===========?
1302 Lord Warenne's |
| | |
Sir John de Doncaster===Joan William de Doncaster====? Elias de Doncaster===Alice
Steward of the manor of Wakefield 1297-8, 1302, of Crigglestone WCR 1327 & 1333 of Crigglestone WCR 1333,
1307-9, Dec.1322, 1333-4. | Constable 12 |
Steward of St. Mary's Abbey, York.µ
Court Justice | |
Held a toft in Wakefield Roger de Doncaster* of Crigglestone Thomas de Doncaster
WCR 1327, 1332 & 1333+ WCR 1333 1309 - purchased land in Crigglestone11
| 1333- !/2 bovate from his father [30-60 acres]
| | |
Agnes Joan Cecilia
1333 - The three daughters are granted heriot on 17!/2 acres in Crigglestone formerly held by their father. [WCR]
* Described as the same person who was chaplain of the manor of Hornington [Yorks. Deeds 1301], although J.C. Holt discovered that they were two different men.7 Holt states ' Harris's evidence refers to at least two men called Roger of Doncaster, neither of whom was a knight, like the prioress's lover'.10 Yorkshire Deeds also shows a Roger de Doncaster was a chaplain in 1302.13 Crigglestone was part of the manor of Wakefield.
+ We might note here that there are three or four persons called Robert Hode/Hood living at the same time :
1. Robert Hood/Hode appears at Wakefield in the WCR for 1331 [fined for not attending the tourn]
2. Robert Hood of Newton appears at Thornes in 1331 ['unjustly taking and detaining a horse'], at Alverthorpe in the same year ['tresspass'] and at Alverthorpe again in the same year when Robert's cattle trampled John Couper's corn and rye in the field of Newton.
3. Robert Hode at Stanley is mentioned in the WCR in the same years as Roger de Doncaster of Crigglestone, 1327 & 1333 and also 1332.The 1333 entry at Stanley states that Robert's cattle trampled William Templer's corn. Later in the same year the case appears again but does not proceed 'for want of jurors', and later in the year Robert is fined 3 pence for the tresspass.
4. Robert Hode at Sowerby is fined for not attending. On the 10 August 1331 at the Wakefield Court – Alice widow of Henry de Migeley demanded from ‘Robert Hodde’ of Sowerby a third of a messuage consisting of 10 acres of land and one acre of meadow in Sowerby as her dower after the death of Henry her late husband. Henry died seized of this land. Robert Hodde said Henry’s father, John de Migeley, died siesed of these tenements and Ellen his wife was dowered and survived Henry and thus Alice had no right to a third of the tenements. The remaining 2/3 was held by Alice. Robert won the case and Alice was fined 6d. but the steward forgave her.
µ Steward sometime when Alan de Nesse was Abbot of St. Mary's Abbey [1313-1329]. Sir John also held some land in Doncaster and nearby Bentley. His wife is shown to be Joan [IPM for Peter III de Mauley 25th August 1309.]
|Evidence that before
December 1322 John de Doncaster had held a toft in Wakefield:
15th December 1332 at York -
persons with the name De Doncastre and variants thereof include, Raymond and his
daughter Alice, Nelle who was fined for diigging sea coal [carbonis maris]
in 1306, and Robert.
It is speculated here that Roger, as a member of this family, was written into the Geste by a ballad-muse or minstrel. We do find a minstrel, Nicholas
de Doncaster, acting as a trumpeter to Earl Warrene§ and King Edward I's accounts mention payments to him for
20th & 25th February, 23rd March, 26th April, 15th May, 12th June 1304. and for services
during the Scottish winter campaign of 1303 -1304 and at Stirling in May 1304.6
Nicholas is sometimes mentioned with Adam de Cliderhou [Clitheroe] the
§ Note: This was John the 8th earl Warenne and Surrey.
Other 'De Doncaster' personages:
* A Johannes de Doncaster "mercator" was admitted to the Freedom of York during Edward III's reign sometime between 1352 and 1372.
* In the early 1300's a William de Doncaster and his wife Felicia were granted 24 acres of land at "Herbistock" [today Erbistock] beside the River Dee near Overton [Madoc], Flintshire, which in the 1300's was a newly constituted borough of North Wales. A mayor of Chester, William de Doncaster held office in 1301-2, 1315-16, 1317-18 and 1318-19.
* A Richard de Doncaster was a clerk of King Edward II's exchequer in February 1322.8
* A Robert de Doncaster was King Edward II's yeoman, clerk, sergeant and purveyor in the royal household.8 He was possibly also Keeper of the King's Lions, dying in August 1349.
* A Ralph de Doncaster was King Edward III's groom in 1330.8
1. A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode.
2. Harris, P.V., Wakefield Manor Rolls, in: The Truth about Robin Hood, Mansfield, 1973; Philiips and Keatman, p. 98.
3. Harris P.V., "Yorkshire Deeds Record Series II", held at Park Place, Leeds, cited in : The Truth about Robin Hood, Mansfield, 1973.
4. Bellamy, John. Robin Hood an Historical Enquiry, London, 1985.
5. W.C.R. 8th January 1333 at Sandal.
6. Rastall, Richard. Minstrels and Minstrelsy in the Royal Wardrobe Books 25 Ed I to 15 Hen. VII., volume 2,
7. Phillips G. & Keatman M. Robin Hood: The Man Behind he Myth. Michael O'Mara Books Ltd. 1995. p.98
8. Bellamy, John. Robin Hood an Historical Enquiry, London, 1985. p.122
9. Ibid.. p.113
10. Holt, J.C. Robin Hood. Thames & Hudson. 1982. p.48.
W.C.R. vol ii,
1297-1309 p. 204.
12. Ibid. p. 77. Constable in 1307. Alice his widow mentioned for 1339 in W.C.R. 1338-1340, p. 134.
13. Yorkshire Deeds, Record Soc. II, no. 201, p. 82, when Roger witnessed a release by Henry de Holm, parson of Ryther but as J.W. Walker said, 'but whether he was the lover of the prioress of Kirklees it is impossible to say.' [J. W. Walker. YAJ vol 36 (1944), p. 40.]
14. Pers. obs. List of rectors in Thwing Parish Church, East Yorkshire, 2018.
Robin Hood search for the Truth | Robin Hood Places | Hood surname statistics | Robin Hood of Wakefield | Robert Hood of Newton | The Pinder of Wakefield | Marian | Friars | Loxley and 'Huntington' | Myriads of Robin Hoods | Ballads of Robin Hood | Kirklees | The Armytages of Kirklees | Little John | Roger De Doncaster | The Penurious Knyght | Our Comly King | Shire Reeve | Priory of Kirklees | Wakefield Rolls | Saylis of the Geste- a new site | Robert III Butler of Skelbrooke | Barnsdale and the Geste | De Lacis of Pontefract | Alice De Laci and John of Gaunt | Barnsdale Gallery | Stephen II Le Waleys a suspected compiler of the Geste
Tim Midgley 2006, revised 19th October 2021.