Ethelstan Mannessone

In this document which we have translated from English into Latin it is stated how Ethelstan Mannessone during his life disposed of his goods and lands, and what should be done with them after his death.

Firstly Athelstan Mannessone, for the salvation of his soul, granted to St Benedict of Ramsey land at Chatteris with Lordship and men, with weirs and fisheries, just as he and his father always held it well and fully, and land at Wold to St Ethelthryth of Ely, and throughout all his lands he manumitted 13 out of every 30 counted men, as decided by lot, so that when they were at the crossroads they might journey wherever they wanted. He gave to his wife as her morning gift Clopham and Graveley, Waresley and Elsworth, that is, these four lands were to be held during her lifetime and after her death they were to revert to St Benedict for the salvation of both of them.

He also gave half of his land at Knapwell to his wife, and the other half to Lefsige his kinsman. He also granted land at Over and Holywell to his aforesaid wife to do with as she willed. Moreover, he granted land at Coteham to his son, provided that he would follow the advice of his friends; however, if not, then the same land would remain at the disposition of Earldorman Æthelwine. In addition he gave the land at Gransden to his firstborn daughter, which Æthelswith her godmother who had raised her from the holy font, had granted to her, and to her sister he gave two hides at Hatley , and to Ælfwyn, his younger daughter, certain land at Slepe and land at Hackthorn, and he decreed that after the girl’s death the same land should come into the possession of Ramsey church. But if she should have an heir during her life, the heir should hold the same land, and afterwards it would revert to Ramsey church for the sake of her soul and those of her forebears.

He also gave to Leofsige the rest of the land at Hatley, and to the son of his brother land at Potton, after the death of Affa, if he could establish title to it, because she ought not to give it to anyone else. And in the same way he gave to his aforesaid wife half of the entire fishery at Wella and his customary presentiment’s; the other half he gave to his son and two daughters.

Therefore, after the death of the same Athelstan, his wife challenged this will in its entirety at the instigation of Kinsman, claiming falsely that there was a special agreement which, according to her, she and her husband had made between them when he was still alive. So the woman asked the brothers at Ramsey to allow her free possession of the land at Elsworth, so that she could arrange whatever had been settled and fixed regarding it both in his life and after his death, and if this was agreed she would allow all the rest just stand just as it had been written above.

Then the brothers, having taken advice among themselves, were unwilling to defraud the soul of the dead man about the pledge which they had made him when he was alive, because he had placed his hope in them that after his death they would help his children, so they granted to the woman in the land which she asked for, but on this condition: that the land at Slepe would revert at the same time to the church at Ramsey after the days of the aforesaid Ælfwyn, her daughter, whether she had children or not. Therefore the woman acquiesced in the agreement and swore to all this on the hand of St Oswald the Archbishop, the relative offering sureties as well. All of this was done at Slepe, on the day when the anniversary commemoration of the aforesaid Athelstan was held, and it was witnessed by Æthelsig, son of Earldorman Athelstan, and Leofric, son of Earldorman Athelwine, Eadric, Leofric, Leofwine son of Æthelwulf, Ælfnoth of Arlesey, Osweard the priest and many others who were there for this gathering. Maybe Almighty judge him who dares to change this; because they confirmed it amongst themselves by a pledge and sureties. (Ref 9)