Words and Deeds

Deed MS1477-117_01

This deed dates from 1446 and relates to a house in Francis Street in the Liberties of Dublin: John Bossard and his wife Marion Chamberleyn granted the property to William Yong, citizen and butcher.

It belongs to a collection of over 200 vellum deeds (TCD MS1477) in the Manuscripts & Archives Research Library, and these documents provide a vital source of information for the social, commercial and topographical history of medieval Dublin. The geographical focus of the collection is the area around the parish of St John the Evangelist, which included the land surrounding the Church of SS Michael and John, as well as streets such as Fishamble Street and Winetavern Street. However, some of the deeds also cover other areas within and without the city walls, such as Oxmantown. Most of the deeds are in Latin and many still have seals attached.  They include leases, wills, grants, licences and appointments, dating from around 1230 right up to the early 18th century. As well as chronicling the transfer of land and property in this area, the documents also give evidence of the origin and occupations of the landowning classes, and of the varied spellings of placenames.  For example, among the characters who appear in these deeds are ‘Robert de Notyngham’, ‘Richard de Exeter’ and ‘Henry le Mareschal’; what is now known as Christchurch Place is referred to variously as ‘Bothestrete’, ‘Bowstret’ and ‘Bovestret’, while Fishamble Street appears as ‘Fishamelstrete’, and ‘Vico Pistarie’.

This collection, hitherto in a fragile state, has recently been conserved by the Preservation and Conservation Department, and a special folder has been constructed for each deed, which makes handling the individual items easier.

This blog entry is based on my ‘Manuscript sources for the history of medieval Dublin in Trinity College Library’ in Medieval Dublin XII: proceedings of the Friends of Medieval Dublin Symposium 2010, (ed. Seán Duffy, Dublin, 2012), which is available here and in most good bookshops.

Ellen O’Flaherty

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