The de Retlyngs at Esol in Nonington

After Christ Church refused Esol the  Beauchamp family appear to have sold the property at some time after 1369 because the 1377 St. Alban’s Abbey manorial rental rolls for Esol record that the house, buildings and land previously held by Sir John de Beauchamp was then owned Sir John Harleston, who also had a life interest in Freydvill’. At some time between the death of Sir John de Beauchamp and its acquisition by Sir John Harleston the 1377 rental roll records that the property had been owned by Dominus (Lord) Richard Ricilynge, the Richard de Retlyng recorded in the 1346 Hundred Roll as holding part of the knights fee of Essewelle.

The de Retlyng, also spelt de Ritling & de Ratling, family took their name from the Manor of Ratling which they had held since 1093 when Godfrey de Retlyng is recorded as holding a knight’s fee of the Archbishop as part of the Manor of Wingham. However, the Richard de Retlyng holding Esol should not to be confused with Sir Richard de Retlyn(g) of Retlyng/Ratling Manor, a close relative but not directly connected to the following events.

Richard de Retlyng the Elder  was a trusted servant of the Crown and served Edward II and Edward III from the 1320’s until his death around 1349. In 1323 Richard de Retlyng the Elder was appointed by King Edward II to pursue and arrest Malcolm Musard, a vassel of Hugh Despenser, a powerful land-owner and over-lord in the Welsh Marches and a favorite of the King who made many enemies including Queen Isabella, Edward II’s wife. Musard was often outlawed for serious crimes, including murder, but then pardoned because of his connections.

In March of the following year the King awarded Richard the Elder the pesage of wools [pesage-a fee or toll paid for the weighing of merchandise] in the port of Suthampton, which would have given Richard a large annual income.
Richard de Retlyng the Elder put some of this money to good use in November of 1326 when he and Johanna, his wife, bought 2 messuages and 90 acres land with appurtinences and what appears to be manorial land giving 70/- in monetary rent, and other rent of 2 cocks, 20 hens, and 200 eggs from William de Plumton’, a Yorkshire knight, and Alice, his wife, of Nonynton’.  Alice was the sole heiress of Sir Henry Beaufuiz [Beaufitz, Beaufiz] who had held land in the Abbey of St. Alban’s manor of Essewelle and had controlled Esol during the minority of John Colky as has been described in “The Knight’s Fee of Essewelle: Wischards, Hotots, and Colkyns at the Manors of Esol and Freydevill’ in Nonington”.

These were presumably Alice’s father’s Esewele property with some additional acquisitions which may have included a part of the knight’s fee for Esol and Freydevill’. The 70/- cash rent and the other rent of 2 cocks, 20 hens, and 200 eggs appear to be manorial rents payable by land-owners within manorial boundaries.

Richard the Elder continued to prosper in the service of the Crown after the death of Edward II in 1327.  In 1332 Edward III King granted Raleigh Castle and the land and property attached to it to him at an annual rent of £ 16 10/-, but unfortunately for Richard the tenure was a short one.

The 1346 Roll for Feudal Aids for Eastry Hundred records Richard de Retlyng the Elder’s son, also Richard [the Younger], as holding part of the knight’s fee for Hertangre, in Barfreston, and a quarter of the knight’s fee for Essewelle. Richard the Elder died in 1349, possibly a victim of the Black Death and his Post Mortem Inquiry of 1350 records his holdings in Kent as being in Staple; Nonyngton [part of the Knight’s Fee for the Manor of Essewelle and also 2 messuages, 90 acres of land and various rents]; Kyngeston (Kingston); Berfraiston [part of the Knight’s Fee for the Manor of Hartangre in Barfreston] and Godwyneston juxta Wyngeham [Goodnestone-next-Wingham].

Esol appears to have been sold to Sir John Harleston after the death of Richard the Elder, but the exact date of the sale is not known at present. The sale must have taken place after 1369 but before 1377 when the St. Alban’s Abbey Esol rental rolls record Sir John as holding Esol and paying annual manorial rent of 53/5d for one messuage with dovecot, 60 acres of arable and 12 acres of pasture plus 2 ½ acres of additional land.

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