Master Robert de Anketil, or Anketil, otherwise Anquetil

Rector of Ewell in 1239
'Fixer' for King Henry III
Died between October 1256 and 26 February 1257

Henry III was merely a child when he succeeded his father King John during 1216 and royal powers were then exercised by a regency and two French nobles, one of whom was Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester and Chief Justiciar. The English barons forced curtailment of their influence allowing Henry to commence his personal rule from 1232.

King John (left) and King Henry III (right)
King John (left) and King Henry III (right)
Detail from a drawing in Historia Anglorum by Matthew Paris.
Image source British Library via Wikimedia

A nephew of Peter, Luke des Roches had a prebend* at Salisbury and another at London, as well as the archdeaconry of Surrey in the Winchester diocese: in addition to other benefices, his Will, circa 1250, records that he was Rector of Ebesham [Epsom].

From the Cathédrale Saint-Samson de Dol, Brittany, to Rome on horseback

On 19 January 1234, Robert Anketil, canon of Dol [found later described as 'un clerk de Franche-Comté', a region in eastern France], had been granted permission to retain the church of St. George at Collevilla in the diocese of Constance, with the care of souls, which he had obtained in accordance with canon law, holding at the same time the prebend of Dol, on the understanding that this should be the only church annexed to him'. The inhabitants of the parish of Sains [of the Ille-et-Vilaine department in Brittany in north-western France] were under an obligation to provide a horse for the cathedral chapter of Dol when one of its members wanted to go to Rome. Canon Robert Anquetil claimed this mount during 1235.

Presence in England

The name of Master Robert Anketil subsequently appears in the Lewes Cartulary as witness to a Recital of Luke, archdeacon of Surrey dated 1238.

By 1239, Robert Anketil, canon of Dol, was rector of Ewell. From around the same time he had also been installed at St Peter's, Saltwood in Kent. In 1243 he remained under the jurisdiction of the archdeacon of Surrey, indicating he was holding Ewell in plurality with Saltwood, although an absentee priest, and this situation probably continued for the rest of his life. In 1248, however, he was granted an 'Indult [licence from the Pope authorizing an act that the common law of the Church does not sanction] to hold another benefice with cure of souls on resigning one of those which he has'.

King's Clerk and sometimes his Proctor (legal representative)

Robert Anketil became one of the 'King's Clerks' appointed to the court of Henry III - not his Chaplain, rather one acting as a scribe or administrator. His name appears frequently in historical records as shown by the following extracts: -

16 October 1240, Chiaro Ugolini of Florence, who had advanced various sums to William, bishop of Valence, and Robert Anketil, was given by the king three marks to pay his expenses, of the king's gift. [Chiaro Ugolini, Figlino Guglielmi, and Renucciccio Buonaccorsi, merchants, had obtained from Henry III letters of credit that were entrusted to Masters Acca and Robert Anketil By a bond made in the presence of the papal legate, the king acknowledged that he had received the money at Westminster, and promised that it should be paid within a fortnight of Michaelmas at the New Temple of London. 14 August Pontificatus domini Gregorii papae noni anno xiiij.(1241)]

15 January 1242 "Mandate to Clarius Hughelin, citizen and merchant of Florence, and his fellows, to let master Robert Anketil, staying in the court of Rome to further the king's business, have 20 marks for his expenses out of the money which they received in London to the use of Masters Atton and Robert Anketil"

1243 "To the archdeacon of Surrey for the king. Because Master Robert Anketil is bound to the king in £25, order to L[uke] archdeacon of Surrey to cause £25 to be arrested to the king's use from the goods of the church of the same Master Robert Anketil in his archdeaconry in whosesoever hands they are".

14 February 1243 "Grant to Master Robert Anketil of an ecclesiastical benefice of the value of 80 marks a year, with mandate to the said archbishop [of York] accordingly'

17 February 1243 "Request to I. the pope not to permit the bishop of Norwich to be translated to Winchester, as it would be contrary to the king's letter to the pope's predecessor and against the council of O. cardinal of St. Nicholas Carcere Tulliano, then legate in England, and the prior of that church and his adherents (complices) as those upon whom devolved through the disobedience, neglect or fault of others, the power of providing to that church, have provided B. de Sabaudia thereto, according to the mandate of the apostolic see and the counsel of the legate. And to further this matter the king has sent Master Robert Anketil to the court of Rome".

"Request to the pope to confirm the provision by the prior and convent of the church of Canterbury, after having obtained the king's licence to elect, of Boniface de Sabaudia, proctor of the church of Bellay, the king's uncle [by marriage to Queen Eleanor], to the see of Canterbury, void by the death of E[dmund] sometime archbishop; which confirmation the king has greatly at heart, and for that and other matters has sent Master Robert Anketil, canon of Dol, as his proctor to the court of Rome".

"Appointment of Robert Anketil, whom the king is sending on his affairs to the court of Rome, as his proctor general for all things which touch the king by reason of the election to Canterbury of B. de Sabaudia [Boniface de Savoy, archbishop of Canterbury]; also by reason of the election of him in the church of Winchester [vacant the death of William de Savoy, another of the Queen's uncles (formerly Bishop-elect of Valence), following Peter des Roches,] by the prior of that church and his accomplices; also by reason of the postulation made in it touching the transference of the bishop of Norwich to it by the sub-prior of the said place and his following. He is to procure in these things and by reason of them whatever is to be procured for the king in the court of Rome, and he has power and orders to contradict by himself or his substitute whatever may seem to the king ought to be contradicted".

4 March 1243 "Appointment of Master Robert Anketil as the king's proctor at the court of Rome, to act himself or by a substitute".

25 April 1243 "To Clarius Hugelini and his fellows, merchants of Florence. The king has commanded them to deliver to Master Robert Anketil 100L of the money which he ordered to be delivered to them in the name of the said Robert and Master Atto, now deceased, for the expedition of the king's affairs in the court of Rome. But as the king is not sending the said Robert to the court of Rome at present, and does not wish that any matter be expedited by him there, he prohibits them from delivering any money to him or to any one on his behalf, and if they do, the king will not be answerable for the same".

12 August 1243 "Protection for Master Robert Anketil, so long as he is on the king's service beyond seas".

[During 1244, King Henry had authorised Thomas de Savoie, Count of Flanders, to act as mediator between the royal seneschal in Gascony and Thibault, count of Champagne and king of Navarre.]

12 August 1244 "To Nicholas de Molis, seneschal of Gascony. Whereas the king promised Th[omas] count of Flanders and Hainault that in the amending of aggressions and damages committed upon Th[ibaut] king of Navarre, by the king and his men of Bayonne, he would submit to the ordinance of the said count and also in the making of a truce with the said king, and the count has with the king's counsel committed the business to Master Robert Anketil, his special clerk, and is sending him to Gascony, the king commands the said Nicholas to admit the said Master Robert to amend the said aggressions, especially those lately committed, to select arbitrators for this, and to make the said truce and to do other things touching the business as the said Robert shall set forth; and he is to give him his aid and counsel herein. And it is commanded to the mayor and jurats of the commune of Bayonne to cause the said aggressions to be amended and restitution to be made for damages".

29 June 1245 "Bond to provide Master Robert Anketil with the first ecclesiastical benefice of 80 marks a year, and the king has appointed John Maunsel and Silvester de Everdon to recall the bond and to receive the church for him wherever he may be, whether in the king's service or elsewhere".

7 December 1245 "Liberate to Master Robert Anketil 5 marks to buy himself a Windsor palfrey of the king's gift".

December 1251 "Indult to Master Robert Anketil, canon of Dol, to hold an additional benefice in Ireland".

5 April 1252 "Appointment, until Christmas, of Master Robert Anketil, king's clerk, as the king's proctor in the court of I. the pope".

October 1252 "Mandate to the archbishop of Canterbury, on complaint of Master Robert Anketil, to compel the parishioners of the town of Hedwa (Hythe) to restore to him, being rector of St. Peter's, Salthewede (Saltwood), and of the chapels of Hedwa, certain oblations made or legacies given by pilgrims in honour of a rood, with relics enclosed in the chapel of St. Leonard, which the parishioners claim under the will of the donor of the said rood".

November 1252 "To the archbishop of Canterbury, in behalf of the above-named Master Robert Anketil, who complains that the prior and Benedictine monks of St. Philibert, in the diocese of Lisieux, demand and extort from him a pension newly imposed on his church, contrary to the statutes of the Lateran Council".

December 1252 "Mandate to the abbot of Westminster, and John Mansel, papal chaplain, provost of Beverley, to make provision to Robert de Anketil, clerk of the queen of Scotland, of a benefice, prebendal or other, in that realm".

[Margaret of England (29 September 1240 - 26 February 1275), second child of King Henry III, had been married on 26 December 1251, when she was 11 years, to King Alexander III of Scotland, aged 10.]

8 July 1253 "Grant to Robert Anketille, clerk, of 40 marks a year receivable at the Exchequer, Dublin, until the K. shall provide him with an ecclesiastical benefice".

6 August 1253 "Letters patent directing the justiciary of Ireland that when he shall have provided Henry de Wengham with an ecclesiastical benefice of 200L revenue, he provide Master Robert Anketil with one of 100L revenue".

15 February 1253/4 "Mandate to the Queen and Earl Richard [younger brother of Henry III] that having searched the rolls of the K.'s Chancery and Exchequer they cause Master Robert Anketill in Ireland to have the arrears of his fee. Mandate to the justiciary of Ireland to permit him to reside at the Irish Exchequer as a baron".

5 March 1253/4 Mandate to John Fitz Geoffrey, justiciary of Ireland, to cause Master Robert Anketill to have 30 marks for his expenses in going as the K.'s messenger to Lyons, and thence returning to the K. in Gascony, besides the money which the justiciary shall cause Robert to have for the fee which the K. granted to him in Ireland, and the arrears of his fee at the Exchequer of England ordered to be paid to him in Ireland.

29 May 1254 "Mandate to the justiciary of Ireland and the treasurer and chamberlain of Dublin, to cause Robert Anketil to have at the K.'s Exchequer, Dublin, to maintain him on the K.'s service, 140 marks arrears of his fee of 40 marks which was granted to him to be received at the Exchequer, Westminster. Witnesses, Queen Eleanor, and Richard Earl of Cornwall".

Escheator** of Ireland

[The Irish escheator, unlike his English counterpart, was among the most prominent of Irish ministers, holding a place next in importance after the chancellor and treasurer, because of the importance that the king attached to securing feudal revenues from the colony.]

20 February 1255/6 "The K. to archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, justices, sheriffs, knights, and other bailiffs in Ireland. Appointment of Master Robert Anketil [to act] with the justiciary of Ireland for the time being, as the king's escheator and guardian of archbishoprics, bishoprics and all cross lands (crocearium) and priories falling void and other escheats belonging to the king in Ireland, reserved to the king in his grant to Edward his Son of the land of Ireland. Grant to the said Robert, escheator in Ireland, that his fee of 40 marks a year which the king granted to him at the exchequer of London and afterwards made payable at the exchequer of Dublin, shall be taken from the issues of the above escheats at the same terms. Grant to Master Robert Anketil, the K.'s escheator in Ireland, that he receive his yearly fee of 40 marks out of the issues of escheats and custodies at the same terms as he was wont to receive it at the Exchequer, Dublin".

18 October 1256 "Mandate to the K's escheator in Ireland to cause the Franciscans of Dublin to have out of the issues of his bailiwick, 100s. of the K's gift for their works.

Announcement of Robert Antekil's demise

26 February 1256/1257 - The K. to Alan la Zuche, justiciary of Ireland. Having lately commanded Master Robert de Anketil, then escheator in Ireland, to cause the warden and convent of the Franciscans, Dublin, to have out of the issues of vacant bishoprics and abbeys 100s. of the K's gift, and the brothers not having received this money owing to the death of Robert, the K. commands the justiciary to cause them to have out of the said issues 10 marks of the K.'s gift in compensation of their labours in obtaining the money aforesaid.

Brian Bouchard ©2015

With grateful acknowledgement of helpful contributions by Jeremy Harte, Curator, Bourne Hall Museum, Ewell

*A prebend is the form of benefice held by a prebendary: historically, the stipend attached to it was usually drawn from specific sources in the income of a cathedral's estates..
** Escheat = When someone dies without an heir, or commits certain crimes, their property passed to the crown. Escheator = someone appointed to look after such property