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TERRITORY.-ERECTION OF THE CASTLE. THE EARLS OF CHESTER CONSTABLES.-STATE IN KING JOHN'S REIGN. HIS VISIT TO NEWCASTLE. THE MAIN STRUCTURE. THE DONJON TOWER.-LELAND'S ACCOUNT.-RANDLE DE BLUNDEVILLE.-SURRENDER OF KING HENRY
FIEFS UNDER NEWCASTLE FROM TESTA DE NEVILLE.
ELEANOR'S DOWRY.-CHARTER TO THE BOROUGH. BARONS' WARS.
SIMON DE MONTFORT. BATTLE OF EVESHAM. GRANT TO EDMUND EARL OF LANCASTER. QUO WARRANTO AGAINST HIM. SUCCEEDING EARLS. ORIGIN OF THE TOWN. THE CHURCH.-FRIARY.-SUBSIDY IN 1340. SURRENDER OF THE BOROUGH BY THE CORPORATION TO THE EARL OF LANCASTER. MANORIAL HISTORY CONTINUED. JOHN OF GAUNT.—MEMOIRS OF HIM AND HIS QUEEN. -TUTBURY CASTLE. SPORTS THERE. SUCCESSION OF KING HENRY IV. EVENTS DURING THE 14TH AND 15TH CENTURIES.-DESCRIPTION OF THE CASTLE FROM AN OLD MS.-CONCLUDING REMARKS.
THE Manor of NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME embraces, either integrally or dependently, the greater portion of the Borough of Stoke now remaining to be described; that is to say, Hanley, Shelton, Penkhull with Boothen, (which includes the town of Stoke,) Longton, and Meir Lane End. In treating, therefore, of the ancient history of such of these townships as are within the Manor of Newcastle, we should have little more to do than to write a history of the Manor itself, with the castle which gave to it the youthful name it still retains (after every vestige of the structure has been swept away by the destructive hand of age); but this is by no means an easy task, for we are unable to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion as to the precise period when the castle was built, or respecting the original formation of the manorial territory.
In our second chapter we have said that a large tract in this part of the County of Stafford belonged to the Crown at the Norman Conquest, or when the Domesday survey
was taken ;* Wolstanton and Penkhull, both described as large manors, and certainly much larger than those townships are at present, also Shelton, which probably included Hanley, were Terræ Regis, as were the adjoining or neighbouring manors of Trentham, Mere, Biddulph, Helegh, and about twenty others at no great distance.† This extensive portion of the royal demesnes no doubt led to the building of a castle of defence in a central situation, soon after the Domesday census. The Conqueror, by whose wisdom that very valuable territorial record of his new dominions was accomplished, did not, however, live two years after its completion, so that we cannot with much probability ascribe the foundation of the castle to him. His son Rufus, who reigned thirteen years, is said to have been a great castle-builder, and fully alive to the necessity of maintaining the kingdom his father had won, by erecting military bulwarks for its internal defence.t Henry I., who commenced his reign in 1100, and occupied the throne thirty-five years, also erected many castles, and among the rest (referring to the length and vigour of his reign) we may, with the greatest degree of probability, ascribe to him the foundation of our New-castle; no mention of which, however, occurs in any existing record until near the conclusion of the reign of Stephen, when, upon the treaty of accommodation between him and Henry Plantagenet, (afterwards King Henry II.,) acknowledging the latter as successor to the throne, towards which arrangement Randle de Gernons, the potent Earl of Chester, greatly contributed on the part of Henry, King Stephen, the better to ensure the execution of the treaty, bestowed upon Earl Randle, together with several
* Page 25.
+ Domesday, Vol. I., p. 246.
Henry, History of Great Britain, Vol. VI., p. 187-8, (from H. Knyghton.)
A. D. 1153.
HISTORY OF THE CASTLE.
other castles and lands, the new-castle of Staffordshire, as appears by the authorities cited below. This was the only royal castle in the northern part of Staffordshire at that period, and though so many castles had been before erected in various parts of England, we conceive that those of Stafford, Tamworth, and Tutbury, with Newcastle, were the total number then maintained in this county.
Newcastle, having fallen into the custody of the Earls of Chester, and being conveniently seated as an out-post to their county Palatine, seems to have continued in their possession as Constables or Governors during the succeeding reigns of Henry II. and Richard I. In the early part of King John's reign,† the castle required and received very considerable repairs, or additions, and the Sheriffs of the county, in the third year of this reign, were allowed forty pounds by the King's Writ, for work done at the castle (a very large sum when estimated according to the different weight and value of money six centuries ago), besides 100 shillings for work at the Gaile, and an equal sum for expenses incurred at the Mill there. Three years afterwards, King John visited Newcastle in person, as appears by the printed labours of the new record commission, wherein the journeyings of this erratic monarch are traced by the learned Editor from day to day during the whole compass of his reign with the utmost precision.§ Three of the royal mandates bear date at Newcastle-under
Rotulus Concess. (Duchy Office,) A. 9., and Sir P. Leycester's Hist., p. 127, referring to the original charter, (nuper in Castro de Pontefract ;) from Mr. Dugdale.
† A. D. 1202.
Rotulus Cancell. vel Antigraph. Mag. rot. Pipæ, 3rd Joh. (published 1833.)
§ See Itinerary prefixed to the close Rolls of King John, edited by T. D. Hardy, Esq. (1834.)
Lime on the 3rd day of March, anno regni 7, (A. D. 1206), by one of which the King entrusts to the Sheriff of Wiltshire the important duty of providing for his royal use, and conveying to Canterbury, within nine days of Easter, fifty ells of cloth for making into napkins.* The King's visit to Newcastle was, probably, one of mere inspection; for he was at Middlewich the day before, and at Melbourn the day following; and it also appears that he had by writ, dated the 28th December then preceding, directed the Barons of his Exchequer to allow the Sheriff of Salop in his accompt what that functionary had laid out in repairing the King's castles of wood, in his bailiwick, and also for timber used in fortifying his Newcastle-under-Lyme, the amount whereof was to be assessed by a Jury; and by another precept, dated February 14th following, the King directed the Sheriff of Staffordshire to take from the neighbouring woods, beyond the limits of his forest, sufficient timber for the repairs which this castle still required.† If the building had been of stone, there would, doubtless, have been similar warrants for the masonry, but we consider the superstructure to have been wholly of timber and stud-work, as the form of it, still preserved in the Borough Arms, (a facsimile engraving of which we annex,) very clearly indicates; it exhibits projecting stories, gabled roofs, and that peculiarity of character which belongs to ancient timber mansions. It seems extremely probable that the large quantities of timber used in the begin
*Rot. Litter. Patent. p. 59, and Rot. Litter. Claus. p. 66.
LELAND'S ACCOUNT OF NEWCASTLE.
ning of John's reign was applied for the purpose of constructing a palisade round the castle bank. The Keep, or Donjon Tower, was no doubt an exception to the rest of the building, and constructed of stone. This survived the demolition of the main building, and is mentioned by Leland, the antiquary, as remaining to his day. It may have been the Gaile, which had been repaired at an expense of £5, (equal, perhaps, in relative value to £200 of present money)* in the third year of King John. The Donjon was the prison of a castle, as well as its last strong-hold, and it is by no means likely that any other gaol then existed here.†
Leland's progress took place about the year 1530, and the following is his concise notice of the town of Newcastle:
"The Paroche is at Stok-on-Trent, a good mile off. The towne "useth to come to a chapel of S. Sonday in the middle of the toun. All "the castle is down, save one great towre. There was a house of blake "Friars in the south end of the towne."
The Earls of Chester having, for a considerable period,
* The pound of silver, at that period, contained three times the weight of twenty shillings of present money, and would go as far, at least, as £40 sterling in the 19th century. A cow with a calf was valued at 7s., anno 1 Johannis, (Hunter on Fines, Vol. I., p. 107.)
+ Thus Chaucer,
"The great toure that was so thicke and strong,
But though the word is printed "Gaile," in the Pipe Roll above referred to, we think it may be questioned whether it ought not to be "Baile," which signified the Keep or Donjon, as it still does, a prison. (Bailey's Dictionary.)
The Gaile, or Baile, of Newcastle was not, however, yet rendered altogether secure, for it appears that one William de Checkley, who had been detained in it, made his escape therefrom, and was in consequence outlawed. The King, however, pardoned the offence, at the instance of the Earl of Chester, the governor, and restored William to the peace. (See Rot. Litt. Pat. 5 Joh., p. 34.)