Unpublished IPMs: Joan Mohun, 1404

This inquisition is another discovery in the Exchequer archive of IPMs. It relates to the Berkshire lands of Joan, the wife of John Mohun, second lord Mohun (d. 1375), and daughter of Bartholomew of Burghersh, who died in 1404. [1. H. C. Maxwell-Lyte, A History of Dunster of the Families of Mohun and Luttrell, 2 vols (1909), i.44-58.] Its omission from CIPM xviii may appear understandable, since at first sight its findings - that Joan held no lands in the county - seem lacking in interest. The surviving copy is also a cancelled draft, so its status and authority are also in doubt. Nevertheless, it raises important questions about the IPM process and about the archiving of the subsequent inquisitions, even if it does not - unfortunately! - provide clear answers to those questions.

The writ diem clausit extremum issued to the escheator of Oxfordshire and Berkshire, Thomas Bekyngham, on 6 October 1404. Drafts of inquisitions for both counties survive on a membrane in the Exchequer IPM archive [2. E 152/8/402 m. 2, containing copies of eight inquisitions taken by Bekyngham.], but only the Oxfordshire inquisition survives in the Chancery archive. The Oxfordshire draft, like that for Berkshire, seems to be a rather abbreviated summary of the inquisition findings. It gives the name of only the first juror and lacks some information found in the final inquisition; Joan's estate in the manor of Goring was not specified, no details were given of the grant by which she held, and the ages of her heirs were not given. The final IPM was presumably written up on the basis of fuller notes taken at the time of the inquest, and perhaps also additional information obtained afterwards, and it is likely that similar notes existed from the Berkshire inquest.

Why then does only the Oxfordshire inquisition survive? One possibility is that a final version of the Berkshire IPM was never produced. A number of the writs diem clausit extremum enrolled on the Chancery fine rolls are not associated with surviving IPMs. In 3 Henry IV (1401-2), for example, writs relating to Oxfordshire and Berkshire were issued for Hugh le Despenser and Margaret Faryndon for which no IPMs are extant. [3. CFR 1399-1405, 166-7.] In that instance, however, the escheator stated when making his account that, to the best of his knowledge, neither Hugh nor Margaret had lands in his bailiwick. [4. E 136/174/5, under Berkshire, new escheats.] This suggests that IPMs for Margaret and Hugh were never written and possibly that no formal inquiries were held by the escheator. It also suggests that the escheator was, nevertheless, expected to answer for all the writs that had issued to him.

Similarly in the case of Joan Mohun, although the escheator did hold some kind of inquiry, this may not have been written up into a formal IPM. Possibly the escheator satisfied the Exchequer at the audit of his account that Joan held no lands in Berkshire, and his oath or the draft of the inquisition may have sufficed for this purpose. On the other hand, Joan's writ writ diem clausit extremum was endorsed to the effect that it had been executed in two inquisitions, and it seems equally possible that a Berkshire IPM was written up, but that less care was taken over its custody, since it had not revealed any royal rights; and that it was discarded or lost at some stage. Either explanation has significant implications for our understanding of the Chancery IPM archive. That archive does contain many IPMs which found that a tenant held nothing. But other 'nil' returns may have been discarded, and others still were made orally at the escheator's account;  and of these latter, we cannot be certain that those recorded in the escheator's accounts represent the full total. These imperfectly documented 'nil' returns probably account for a large proportion of the numerous instances when writs diem clausit extremum were issued, but no IPMs survive.



[Writ: see 1127]

BERKSHIRE. Inquisition. Abingdon. Monday before St Martin, 6 Henry IV [10 November 1404]. [Bekyngham].

Jurors: William Chambre etc.

John who was the wife of John Mohun chivaler did not hold any lands or tenements of the king in chief in demesne or in service in Berkshire. Date of death and heirs as above [i.e., as in E 152/8/402 m. 2 #2, which states: She died on Saturday after Michaelmas last [4 October]; her heirs are Elizabeth countess of Salisbury, Philippa duchess of York, and Richard le Straunge, who are of full age.]

E 152/8/402 m. 2 #3 (cancelled draft) [to be calendared as CIPM xviii.1127A]