The Will of Werhard the Priest-AD 830 [BCS 402]

Archbishop Wulfred left his extensive property holdings to his kinsman, Werhard, with the specific instructions that Werhard should continue to endow the charities that Wulfred  had founded and that in his turn Werhard should leave the inherited property to Christ Church, Canterbury. Some sources refer to Werhard as a nephew of the Archbishop, and he appears to have benefited greatly from this kinship, as did some other members of the family. His rise through the hierarchy of Christ Church was quite rapid: he was a deacon in 824, a junior priest in 825, and by the mid-830’s he was presiding over the Christ Church community as “priest-abbot”. Werhard held this position until his presumed death around 845 when the last reference to him is found in Christ Church records.

The following is a transcription of Werhard’s will, written circa 830.

n the  Dominical years of the Incarnation 830 [for 832] I Werhard by the Grace of God priest by these letters desire to make known in what way after my death I wish to divide my substance and lands which by the gift of God and with the help of Archbishop Wulfred my kinsman I have acquired.

n the first place with great humility and humble devotion I restore to Christ  Church and to the monks my brothers serving God in the same place all the lands within Cancia (Kent) and beyond which so far I have held by the gift of the aforesaid archbishop and the consent of the aforesaid family of Christ. For the same archbishop enjoined me to do this because he had destined the same lands already to the work of the oftnamed family and with great effort had acquired them for the reward of his eternal welfare.

Now these are the names of the lands which I restore: Hergas [Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex], 104 hides; Otteford (Otford), 100 hides; Gravenea (Graveney), 32 hides; Burman, 44 hides; Oesuualun, 10 hides, Bereham [(Barham) which the same archbishop and monks of Christ Church gave me in exchange for land in Clive (Cliffe)], 36 hides one yoke which lies in the south part of Limene (Lympe) and by the inhabitants is called Lambeham but it belongs to Burnan and renders 40 pensas of cheese and lambs and wool without cheese. Another yoke lies at Northuuda and should render 120 measures which the English call “ambres” of salt. With the aforesaid lands I faithfully restore all the marshes in the south part of Limene and in the north, also the dwelling which is in the north part of the wall of Durobernia (Canterbury) and the close which the English call ”teage” which belongs to the aforesaid dwelling.

Now I make the restoration partly on this account because my lord the archbishop himself admonished me and in a document that he himself wrote out before he was enfeebled concerning the division of his estates be laid down this same to be known. And in this writing he established a charity which he ordered to be made daily in those lands which he had himself acquired for his soul and for the souls of all those who might expend there means in any assistance to the Christ Church.

And this he ordered to be done most intently for he said thus: ‘Let the doing or neglecting of this charity ordained by me be between God and our succeeding archbishops’.

At Herga 5 poor persons; at Otteford 5; at Clive 5; at Gravenea 2; at Oesuualun 7; in the city of Durobernia 6; to each one be given daily to eat what may be suitably sufficient and annually to each poor person for clothing 26 pence.

Further he ordained that daily mass be celebrated for his soul and for the souls of the above memorable persons: on his anniversary he ordained that to each of 1200 poor persons should be given to eat one loaf of bread and cheese or lard and one penny.

The above is the direction of Archbishop Wulfred, I Werhard the Priest also grant to the above named ChristChurch in the city of Durobernia for the deliverance of my soul and that of Archbishop Wulfred 32 hides of my patrimony which I am free to give to whom I choose named Hyse. Also another estate called Megeldeuurlhe which the Archbishop Ceolnoth had given to the monks of the aforenamed ChristChurch, I give back again. Further I add the land of 8 hides called Cuniland and beyond this 30 hides with the villa called Tuicham (Twickenham) in the province of the Middlesaxons. Therefore let the brethren and monks of my lord of Christ Church see to it that my soul is remembered because freely I have restored what I was under obligation to return and what was my own; with a most devout mind I have brought offerings to Christ.




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