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THE SOMERSET ST.CLARES

"A little to the north-west of Ash is Stapleton, which for a number of successions belonged to the family of St.Clare" The earliest notice of this family is in the reign of Richard the First. In 1195-96 Ralph de Seincler owes 40 marks for having recognisance of 5 &fracl2; knights' fees, of which his father was possessed in the days when he took the garb of religion, by the pledges of Herbert Fitz-Herbert and Henry de Alneto. Among what are called new promises by Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, is the pipe roll extract dated 7 Richard I William de Seincler accounts for 20 marks for having plenary seizen of his land of Stapleton; and he bas delivered them in to the treasury, and is quit. Again in An 30 John, (A.D. 1202): Rotuli de Oblatis: Somerset: Walter of Esselegham (Aeslingham ?) gives to his lord the king 60 marks silver as his peace offering because he arraigned Ralph de Sco. Claro, and because he remanded him, and that he did not use, as regards the rest, except what Walter had of his right of office. In 6 Henry III (1222) Robert de St.Clare held of the king in chief ten pounds a year of land in Stapleton, by the service of finding an armed servant with a horse in the king's army for forty days at his own cost. He was succeeded by his son Robert, who, 7 Henry III (1223), paid ten marks for his relief of the land which he held here of the king by serjeanty. This Robert died 2 Edward II, being then certified to hold the manor of Stapleton of the crown in capite by the service of holding a towel before the queen at the feasts of Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas, and likewise at the kings coronation. Robert de St.Clare, his grandson, succeeded to the manor of Stapleton, of which he died seized, 10 Edward III, leaving issue another Robert, his son and heir, who held only a moiety of this manor, of which he died seized 33 Edward III, and was succeeded by Richard, his son and heir. The other moiety was held, 42 Edward III, by Ralph Seyncler, who died without issue, as did also the said Richard, and Margaret his wife, upon which the manor reverted to Robert de St.Clare, a cousin of the above-mentioned lords, who died 46 Edward III; and Sibill, his wife, had an assignment of the third of this manor for her dower, remainder to Sir William Bonville and his heirs, 9 Henry IV Sir William held a moiety of the manor of Stapleton and one carncate of land in Mattock, called Sayes Place, from the Earl of Somerset. At this time there was a chapel in Stapleton, which seems to have been built by one of the St.Clares. It was subservient to the church of Martock, and has long since been destroyed, and nothing further appears memorable of it or the place. In Sir William Bonville's will, executed 13th August 1407, amongst other bequests is one to. "Raulyn Sayncler, to purchase a corrody for his life, £20",

On 18th October 1264, Robert de Sancto Claro was escheator for the county of Somerset, and in the same year Richard de Sco.Claro died possessed of Mertock, Stapleton, and other lands. He is noticed in the Rotuli in Curia Scaccarii of Henry III, Edward I, and Edward II, under Somerset. Richard Seincler and Margaret, his wife, give ten pounds for license to acquire two parts to the two, of the divisions of the manor of Stapleton with its followings. In the Treasury Rolls there is a dateless entry: "The king, for five marks which Thomas Warrenne paid, granted to Robert Seintcler that he may give two parts of the manor of Stapleton, with the pertinents, etc., to Thomas the aforesaid, to be held for his whole life as fee-farm". Again, in the Hundred Rolls - when Edward I challenged the English landholders generally - in the hundred of Mattock, Somerset, the jurati have their statement thus: "Dicunt et quod Robs. de Sencler Rict' de Bolougne, etc., peipuunt et retinuit avia de astraura set nesciunt quo waro". In the Hundred Forinsec de Somerton he occurs again: "And Robert de St.Clare has taken possession of a part of the hundred for twelve years past, which part his predecessors were accustomed to pay for, and this section was possessed in the time of Thomas de Perham, fee-farmer of the manor and hundred of Somerton". In the Quo Warranto records, the sequel to the Hundred Rolls, he appears several times, and especially about disputed parts of his manor of Somerton. He was summoned to answer as to his rights in a court in Somersetshire, and again by William of Chiselham, the kings commissioner, to Exeter, to state his rights to parts of the properties which he held. The piece at Somerton in particular had to be fought for. "Robert St.Clare came", says the record, "and said that Richard le Bure, his grandfather, had it with certain tenements as gift from Ralph de Huse, or Hussey". (In 1199-1200 Hugo de St.Clare and Hugo de Bures are arbiters about lands in Tilbury, Essex, belonging to Sibilla, aunt of John of Wirrefield in that county).

Robert St.Clare died in 1309, and was succeeded by his grandson Robert, who died in 1337, being possessed of Stapleton manor, Andredseye, Saltmore, Bergham, and indefinite moor and pasture lands. Before continuing, mention must be made of an Everard St.Clare, who in the hundred of Stone, Somerset, was challenged as to some payments and possession of tenements said to be subtracted from the hundred and added to his lands in Allberry. He was a side member. Robert died possessed of Stapleton, Somerton, etc., and also of Budelege manor. This is another of the same to Buddleigh in Devonshire. In 18 Edward III, 1345, Elizabeth St.Clare had at her death Stapleton and its pertinents, In 1352 a Robert holds these manors, who died in 1360, leaving two sons, Richard and Ralph, between whom there was a division of the lands. Richard married a Margaret, but died without issue, as also died Ralph in 1369, the properties being left to their cousin Robert, showing that there were several branches in the county. The Treasury Rolls have account of Richard being put in possession of part of Stapleton: -

"Somersetshire: It was commanded to John of Bekington, escheator of the king in Somerset, that, having received security from Richard, son of the late Robert Seyntcler, of a reasonable sum, he may make full possession to Richard of two parts of the manor of Stapleton near Martock, which he bolds of the king in capite by the service of half one knight's fee". Of the last mentioned Robert, the cousin, there is a charter preserved in the British Museum, dated 29 Edwd. III, 1356, having devices on a shield on the still attached seal. He is Robertus Saincler de Somerton et de Staplelon, and his parchment conveys a gift of land to the famous abbey of Glastonbury in Somersetshire. He died in 1372. His manors were Stapleton, Botecle, Coker, Somerton, etc. His wife, Sibilla Sentcler, died the following year, and she had the third part of Stapleton, Milton, Fauconberge, part of Lymington manor, Todenham manor, Somerton manor, Compton manor, Dowden, etc. There are a few further notices of the name in the county. Sir John St.Clare of the Aldhams was custodian of Estham for the heir of the wife of William St.Clare of Kyngswoode in Edward the Third's time and the beginning of that of Richard II, Laetitia dying in 1377. Besides Estham she had part of the manor of Castlecary, with the advowson of the chapel on it. In 20 Richard II, 1397, William Seyntclere held Ashbrutell manor, and at the same time Robert held Andredseye manor. There is mention of a William Seint Cler in the Treasury Rolls of Henry III, Edward I and II, and also of a Nicholas, his brother, as of Somerset. They had a cause at Westminster about some land, and Ivo of Asheloud was their fellow-defendant. John of Legyh and Isabella, wife of Nicholas de Helmunden, recovered some lands from the three in Croukhern. The notices end with Nicholas Seyntcler, miles, who had Alicia as wife as the Cal. of Inq.p.m. of 19 Edward IV, 1480, state. He had the properties of Pokeston, Cammelerton and Churchill.

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