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The Tropenell Cartulary

14th and 15th C legal documents concerning the manors, lands and estates of Thomas Tropenell including those at the Durnfords, Sarum, Old and New, and Stratford sub Castle.

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Thomas Tropenell c. 1405 – 1488 was a lawyer and landowner in south Wiltshire and beyond. He held lands in Sarum, Old and New (Veritas and Nova), Stratford (Decani and subter Castris veteris), Little Durnford (Durnford parva) and Fisherton Anger. He was MP for Great Bedwyn 1429 and Bath 1449, twice alderman for Salisbury [1] and built Great Chalfield Manor near Melksham. He was buried in Corsham. His grand-daughter Mary married Edward Yo(u)nge of Little Durnford, they and their fourteen children rest in a family tomb at Great Durnford.

Muniments are legal documents and deeds about ownership of assets, he kept his, dating back to the 13th C in a chest, then had them collated into a book, 1464-1486, his cartulary, and that book, after some travels over the centuries, is where it began, in Great Chalfield Manor. It was transcribed and published in 1908. [2] Cartulary and Manor are now in the care of the National Trust.

It includes a collection of 14th C manuscripts about Haynes Rabbit Warren formerly called Upton Field. [3]

LAVERSTOCK Haynys Conynggar, alias Upton Felde

1.  Walter Upton of Old Sarum demises to Rob.  Bont.  of New Sarum, all his lands in Laverstock for 13 years at nominal rent of one rose annually, on S. John Bapt. Day, after that at annual rent of £20 silver: warranty for 13 years, 27 May, 1368


2.  Thos. Upton to Will, Fovent, clerk, and John Oseborn: grant of his lands and tens. &c. in Donyton Teffont, Old Sarum, and Warminster, with warranty, 17 May, 1420


3.  Will. Fovent and John Osbarn to Thos. Upton and Alice, his wife, lands in Old Sarum, Laverstock, and Stratford, 10 Oct.  1426  

4.  John Oseborn, son of John, to James Butler, E. of Wilts, Rob., Lord Hungerford, Rob., Lord Moleyns, &c. and Thos. Tropenell and his heirs: all his lands &c. in Donyton Teffont &c., 10 Feb.  1458

5.  Alice, widow of Thos. Upton, to Ric. Hayne: lands, had by feoffment from her husband, Thos., in Old Sarum, Laverstock, and Stratford, 21 Sept.  1459            


A 1475 manuscript identifies Richard Haynes and locates his Haynys Conynggar as “lying by the royal road, which is from the borough of Old Salisbury as far as Ambresbury, by the ancients called Uptonnesfdde, now called Haynys Conynger; between the aforesaid, the road on the west side, and the fields of Wynterbourne and Hurdecote, on the east.”[4]

Rabbit used to mean a baby rabbit. An adult was a coney. Conynggar or cony(n)ger means a coney warren. Warren to the Anglo Normans meant a licence to hunt rabbit in an area. From at least 17th C rabbits were regarded as a pest, undermining Old Sarum and needing control, [5] they still are. The Upton family had held land at Old Sarum since the 13th C, Uptonlond. Walter was MP for Old Sarum (eight times) 1362-1388 [6] and unusually for Old Sarum MPs actually lived there (for the 1377 poll tax only ten residents were declared). [7] Demise is the conveyance of an estate, usually for a set number of years. Robert Bont was MP for Salisbury in 1360, 1361, 1363 and 1372. [8] Ten means tenement, that which is held, including any dwelling and other property or lands or rents payable. Donyton is Dinton. Fovent is Fovant. Rob is Robert, Robert, lord Hungerford and Robert Hungerford, Lord Moleyns and Hungerford were father and son. [9] Father Robert took his father’s title Hungerford, his son Robert took that and his mother’s title Moleyns and was beheaded in the Wars of the Roses. [10]. (Five years later HIS son, Thomas was hanged drawn and quartered in Salisbury). The Roberts, father and son are buried in Salisbury Cathedral. [11] Feoffment was the grant of a property such that the recipient could sell or bequeath it.

The cartulary contains documents relating to Stratford Decani or Stratford Dean as separate from Stratford Common, Stratford Commune juxta burgum Veteris Sarum or sub castro veteris and the Durnfords, Magna Durneford et Parva Durneford. Stratford also appears [12] (7th May 1431) as Stratford Denys, St Denys Priory (founded 1124) was in Southampton, in the 13th C the Prior held meadow, pasture rights and one mill in Stratford. [13]

Most documents are in Latin, some in French, some English, for example [14] …….

 Answer to the claim of the heirs of John Osborne to a yearly rent out of Haynys Conynger

Thys is the clere declaracion and aunswer of the trewth ayenst the fals pretended titell of a yerly rent claymyd by the heyrys of John Osborne owt of Haynys Conyngger fortefied by John Mompesson ;  wheche  was  never  peyd. Thomas Upton was sesyd of certayn londys and tenementis yn Deneton Teffont, Warmester, Uptons feld in the paryche of Laver- stoke, Old Sarum and Stratford yn the counte of Wyltes yn his demene as yn fee.  And by hys dede, cujus data est die Saboti prox. post fest. Assencionis Domini, anno viij Regis Henrici v [17 May, 1420], he enfeffed ther on yn fee Wyllyam  Fovent, clerk, and John Osbarne of Boryton, by vertu of the weche they were there of sesid in here demene as in fee : and by there dede cujus data est  x die Octob.  anno v Regis Henrici vj [1426], they made astate in fee to the seide Thomas ayen and to Alison hys wyfe of all the seid landis and tenementis in Old Sarum and Stratford, and in all the landis callid Uptons  feld in the parysshe of Laverstoke, now callid Haynys Conyngger, and now newe dyked and set wyth quyk fryth, and so were they both ther of sesyd in here demene as yn fee….

Tropenell bought Little Durnford on May 12th 1484 (the thirteenth regnal year of Edward IV); [15]

Be it knowen to alle men that we John Wodhull, squier, and Heny Etwell, upon due examinacion be fore the Kynge in his Chauncerie for the cleerness of the astate of Tliomas Tropenell in the maner of Litell Durneford by Stratford, in the co. of Wiltes, depose and sei, that where the seid Tho. Tropenell of late tyme hath truly purchased of us, the seid John and Herry, for a certeyn somme of money bitwix the seid Tho. and us accorded, the seid maner of Litell Durneford, with &c., in the co. of Wiltes, before this tyme have not bargayned nor sold the seid maner to noone other person but only to the seid Tho. Tropenell …..

The sale was later contested, the pleas against Tropenell and his replies are preserved. [16]

William Harries of New Salisbury etc. saith that as ferre as ever he knew or knowith that Ric. Wodhull died seased of the maner of Litell Durneford, for the saide Ric. a twelmonth byfore his deth made a lece of the said maner to oone John Mundy, of Stratford under the Castell, for terme of ix yere be indenture, and saith that he was prevy to the makyng of the indenture, and se when hit was sealled at Litell Durneford aforesaide, than and there be}mg presente John Raundes and meny other whose names he remembreth not.

John Raundis, of Stratford under Castell husbondman, baill of the hundred of Amesbury under the duke of Clarence, of thage of 1 Wynter, sworne and examyned, saith that Ric. Wodhall died soole seased in his demeane as of fee of the maner of Litell Durneford, with &c. [17]

The prebend of St Lawrence is mentioned in a manuscript of 30th April 1370 [18]

Let it be known &c. I William, son of William Eyerard, granted, &c. to Robert Bont a messuage with lands, pastures, and all properties in the Dean’s estate, and the aforesaid messuage is located in the aforesaid village between the messuage of the tenure of the Dean of Salisbury on the west side, and the cottage of the prebend of S. Lawrence on the east.    


The Tropenell Cartulary at over 500 years old is an amazing survivor and an invaluable source for Wiltshire local historians interested in the 13th and 14th Centuries. Tropenell  (in subsequent generations the name shrank to Tropnell and Trapnell) had a finger in many pies, but then a 1470 painting in Great Chalfield Manor said to be of him shows an extra finger on each hand,19 this perhaps signifies avarice, as would one hand grasping a money bag.[20] He was an astute estate lawyer and despite his associations with the Lancastrian leaning Hungerfords, Richard III after the Wars of the Roses declared “Thomas Tropenelle of Chaldefeld in the Countie of Wiltshire Squier hathe a generalle pardonne


Kerry O’Connor

Stratford Decani et Denys et Commune juxta burgum et subtus castrum Veteris Sarum

February 2022


[1] Driver, JT. 2000 A 'Perillous, Covetous Man': the career of Thomas Tropenell Esq. (c. 1405-88)5 a Wiltshire lawyer. Parliamentary burgess and builder of Great Chalfield. Wiltshire Archaeological & Natural History Magazine, vol. 93 (2000), pp. 82-89  

[2] The Tropenell Cartulary Being The Contents Of An Old Wiltshire Muniment Chest. Edited By Rev.  J.  Silvester Davies, M.A., F.S.A. In Two Volumes. Published By The Wiltshire Archaeological And Natural History Society, The Museum, Devizes, 1908

[3] ibid vol I contents p xxxii

[4] Release from Sir Roger Tocotes and others to Ric. Haynes and his heirs, of land formerly called Uptonnesfelde but now Haynys Conynger &c., 13 April, 1475 Ibid page 61

[5] 'Old Salisbury: Later history', in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 6, ed. Elizabeth Crittall (London, 1962), pp. 65-67. British History Online  [accessed 02 February 2022]. 

[6] The History Of Parliament

[7] Ibid

[8] Ibid

[9] Lee, Sidney. (Late 19th C) Robert Hungerford. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900,_1885-1900/Hungerford,_Robert.


[11] Jokinen, Anniina. 2012. Robert Hungerford, Lord Moleyns and Hungerford (1431-1464). Wars of the Roses. Luminarium.   

[12] as 2 vol I page 149

[13] as 5 pp199-213

[14] as 2 vol I p 65

[15] ibid vol II p 300

[16] ibid vol II p 323

[17] ibid vol II p 325

[18] ibid vol 1 p 145

[19] as 1 page 87

[20] ©National Trust Images ©National Trust Images/John Hammond

Images by permission of ©National Trust Images

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