Sunday, June 14, 2009
WILLIAM MARTEL THE TINTERN MONK -PRIOR FOR A YEAR
WILLIAM MARTEL –TEMPORARY PRIOR OF GOLDCLIFF PRIORY
Philip Gopyler of Tintern, who had carried the shipwrecked wine away with his monk Thomas de Bec and prosecuted in 1334, however the outcome of the case is not known . The King appointed Martel as temporary prior in 1332, noting he was a monk of Tintern Abbey, a Cistercian house, claiming to have been appointed prior by apostolic authority. The King took his fealty, even though he did not bring letters from the Pope or his abbot. It was, says David Williams a ‘put up job’ and a disaster for Goldcliff. A gentleman of Somerset was behind the affair and his name was Sir John Inge, who stood as surety for the Prior’s entry fine of 40 marks and did very well out of the deal.
In 1320.William had been one of the Commissioners called to inquire into the ailing workings of the priory by William le Walsh and others and again in 1322 into the prosecution of the previous priorin the Lord’s court of Lebenydd and Caerleon.
In only a quarter of a year William Martel had completely wasted all the possessions of the Priory, and of the few seals still left half are impressions he made in doing this.March 24th 1333 he rented the priory’s manors in Somerset (Preston and Monksilber) to John Inge, who was to pay a red rose for the first ten years of his tenancy and £20 a year afterwards. The following year, Sir John Inge was again the recipient of Membury manor in Devon for a yearly rose rent. In 1337,William de Saint Albino looked for compensation for this, it was stated the manors had been leased to Inge for £50 per year. It was noted Martel had made himself prior by false and forged sealed letters. In 1337 too, the Priory was found to be only worth £10 yearly to the crown, as only the manors of Goldcliff and Coldra remained to it ‘all other manors and lands belonging thereto being demised to divers persons for life, by William Martel , late prior.
William Martel was ,however, unmasked as a fraud; less than six months after he took possession of the priory, his brother Peter le Comte who was sub priorwas given temporary guardianship of the Priory (June 1332) At the enquiry it was discovered that the Papal bull on which Martel had ladi his claim to the priory was a forgery and because of this and his having wasted the possessions of the priory, the King ordered the restoration of Philip de Gopylers as Prior (who had taken the wrecked wine) in the year 1333. David Williams adds a fascinating extra fact, that Robert de Runceville, former prior had granted the rectories of Woolavington, Puritan and Netherstowey (Somerset) to John Martel, our dear clerk, but his action was later found to be un canonical. So William Martel returned to Tintern to resume monastic duties there,
Within fifty years, the priory was decimated by floods, improper rule and all the troubles of the French Wars.The monks of Goldcliff were without doubt French and from the Abbey of Bec, which is often attested.