- Illustration by O.C.S. Chairman Martin
figure prominently in the early Irish Justiciar Rolls involving
Leighlin. Bishop Nicholas Chever
of Leighlin (1275-1309) in 1297 and Bishop William in 1305.
Bishops and clerics at that time were often political
appointees, who occupied these positions as a source of
livelihood. In most cases they were not Irish and were not
renowned for their moral standards.
Rolls for the 6th of March 1305 at Carlow before Edmund Le
Botiller, Custos of Ireland, record an attack on the Bishop of
Ossory and his retinue. The sequence of events which led to
the attack, and the later court proceedings, are reminiscent of
tales of Robin Hood and Sherwood forest. The Bishop complained
that on the previous Sunday while enroute to “Tristledermot” on
the affairs of his church, he was attacked by the Provost
(Thomas le Chapman) and people of New Leghelyn in the King’s
street and beaten and wounded.
Struck dog with spear
The jury found
that “When the Bishop on the said Sunday passed through the
said town of Leghelyn, it happened that Simon Purcel, one of
his valets, rode at a distance after the Bishop, and a dog of
one Ralph le Tannere, a man of the town, coming out of his
master’s house attacked the serving-man (garcio) of
Simon and tore his clothes, on which the serving-man with his
spear struck the dog.
being in the house from which the dog issued, seeing, taking a
short stick, went out of the house, and threw it at the
serving-man, stricking him on the neck, from which he fell to
the ground, his face being badly wounded.
Simon and one
Robert de Racheford, one of the Bishop’s valets, seeing this
rode towards Ralph threatening him for that blow. Ralph, for
fear of them entered his house and shut the door. Simon and
Robert alighting (from their horses) tried to break the door
(of the house) to take vengeance on Ralph. But Ralph going
into his yard by another door came into the street, and he and
his wife raised hue-and-cry. On which William son of Geoffrey
Cachpol, and others (except Thomas le Chapman, Edmund de Valle,
Adam Gregol and Oliver Dayncourt) and their households, men and
women, came out with arms and stones, attacking Simon and
The Bishop being in the outlet of the town perceiving
this, peacefully returned, and gave as is customery the
benediction, asking those assembled to cease from doing evil to
his men, and pledging himself to make satisfaction immediately
for any trespasses done by his men to each person of the
town. But they, not accepting his request, although often
made, surrounding the Bishop, and Simon, Robert, and his other
valets and servants, attacked them on every side; so that in
the conflict a stone was thrown at the Bishop and one of his
valets. Michael de la Lyserne, was struck almost to death, so
that his life is despaired of, and it is believed that he will
die within three days, and Robert de Racheford was badly
wounded with an arrow”.
The Jury found
Thomas Chapman and Ric. Clement not guilty (they said that they
were not present), but their wives and families were. And of
said Edmund, Adam Gregori and Oliver, they say that they were
given in the case was that “the Bishop recover against Thomas
and the others convicted his damages taxed at a 100 marks, and
William, son of Geoffrey Cachpol, and others convicted be
committed to gaol, and Thomas Chapman and Ric. Clement, whose
families were participators, be guarded. Edmund de VaIle, Adam
Gregori and Oliver Deyncourt go quit”.
Chever of Leighlin
Bishop Nickolas came before the courts some six years earlier on a
number of occasions. He appears to have been a fearless type of
person. In 1295 he was arrested and charged with harbouring
felons. Later in 1297 he went bail for two accused persons.
Formerly Archdeacon of Leighlin; elected
bishop before November 1275; received possession of the
temporalities 7 March 1276; confirmed 28 September 1276; died
20 July 1309; also knowns as Nicholas Cheevers
The events which
occurred after his death afford us some insight into the
calibre and character of those who occupied clerical office at
On Oct. 18th 1295
the Sheriff of Dublin was directed to take into the Kings hand
(to take control of) the temporalities of Bishop Nickolas of
Lechlin because he was charged with recent harbouring of
On the 8th
November 1295 The Chancellor was commanded to write to Walter
Purcel, Knight of the custody of the Cross of Lechlin, “to
fight and take the enemy of the King until the next parliament
of the King of Kilkenny”.
was directed (because he was indicted of some heavy charges)
“not to go outside the walls of Waterford city, but to be there
as if imprisoned and that his temporalities remain in the Kings
hands. He is to do this under pain of forfeiture of all his
On the 9th Dec.
1295 he was released.
Walter de la Haye
was ‘‘commanded to deliver by sufficient mainprise, Nickolas
Bishop of Lechlin, arrested at Waterford by precept of the
Custos of and to replevy the Bishops goods and lands taken into
the Kings hands”.
On the 22nd
Sept., 1297, Nickolas, Bishop of Leighlin went bail for Pt.
Cheurce and Geoffrey Cheurce who were remanded in the prison of
29th Dec. 1310, John Chevers, Dean of Leighlin, and master
Ralph le Brun, Archdeacon of the same, charged that after the
death of Bishop Nickolas they retained the Seal and sealed
letters relieving Chevers from rent that he owed and giving
profits to the archdeacon.
Source: Carloviana 1991/1992 No.39
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