SIXPENCE A DAY
from Peter Saul
This article was originally published in the December 2009 edition of Soul Search, the journal of The Sole Society
My ancestors are from the Lancashire, and prior to that the “Lake District” Saul group. I have lived in Towcester, Northamptonshire for over 30 years. I was therefore delighted to find a record 1 that showed that, in 1390, on Aug.21, Richard II, held his court at Towcester, Northamptonshire. The rolls record only one item:-
Grant, during pleasure, to Nicholas Saule, one of the yeomen of the livery of the Crown and forester of Whitilwode forest, whom the king wishes to include in the number of those of that livery who should receive 6d. a day in accordance with the ordinance of Parliament, of 6d. a day at the Exchequer, provided it be not to the statute or ordinance of the king.
So, Nicholas wasn’t actually getting the King’s cash, but the King ordered it! Whittlebury is a village close to Towcester, with the remains of Whittlewood Forest; timber remains a local industry, although much reduced even in the time we have lived here. Sixpence in 1390 was equivalent to £130.34 based on average earnings, or £11.24 based on RPI, according to Officer 2. This reflects how cheap food is today.
There are only 69 references to Towcester in the 236 years covered by the rolls, mainly for courts held there, and of those many were during the reign of Richard II, although by no means all. The coincidence, and it can only be that, of the Saule name and Towcester is astounding to me.
I strongly recommend reference to the Patent Rolls as in footnote 1. Note that the word Patent is used in the historic sense, not as an invention.
I do not expect to be able to establish links between this Nicholas Saule and the modern Saul groups – the gap in references is over 200 years. However, the rolls quoted contain huge amounts of fascinating information, recorded at the time, albeit transcribed during the 1800s, and now indexed by the University of Iowa. n
1CALENDAR OF THE PATENT ROLLS PRESERVED IN THE PUBLIC RECORD OFFICE, located at http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/patentrolls. This project of Professor G.R. Boynton and the University of Iowa Libraries has made this research feasible, and I am grateful for the free access made available.
2 Lawrence H. Officer, "Purchasing Power of British Pounds from 1264 to Present," MeasuringWorth, 2009. URL: http://www.measuringworth.com/ppoweruk/
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