Omnibus sancte matris ecclesie filiis Aldulf(us) de Braci filius Gwerne, nepos Osberti martel salutem. Sciatis uniuersi quod ego Aldulfus assensu heredis mei gwerne et fratris sui Aldulfi fil(ii) mei dedi et p(resenti) c(arta) m(ea) confir(maui) deo et sancte m(ari)e et can(onicis) de ordine et capitulode Sempinham totum d(omi)nium meum quod habui in cultura mea que est inter villam de ranfruiuile et Le maygnyl in territ(orio) de rouile, exceptis x. acris quas dedi ecclesie Sancti Wandregisili et duabus acris gyleberti de Bouule et vii. acris.......
To all sons of holy mother church, Adulf de Braci, son of Gwerne, nepos of Osbert Martel, gives greeting. Know that I, Adulf, with the assent of my heir Gwerne and his brother Adulf, my son, I have given ... 1
The Manor of Mentmore
Mentmore was held by Earl Hugh ofChesterin 1086, and by Robert from him. This enormous manor, assessed at 18 hides, was held by Eadgifu the Fair before the Conquest. The tenancy-in-chief was in the hands of Osbert Martel before 1167, and passed to Adulf de Braci before 1170. Adulf’s daughter Mascelin married William de Cauntelow, who held the manor in the 13thc, and at this time it was said to be a member of the manor of Eaton Bray. In 1273 it passed by marriage to the family of de la Zouche where it remained until Sir John of that ilk was attainted by Henry VII in 1485. 2
The Manor of Eaton alias Eaton Bray...
When Odo organised a rebellion against William II (1087-1100) in 1088 in favour of William's older brother Robert Curthose, Duke of Normandy, his estates were seized by the Crown. King Henry II (1154-1189) leased the manor to Osbert Martel for £20 per annum and his name appears as the Lord of the Manor in the royal Pipe Rolls between 1166 and 1173, at which date the lease of the manor was transferred to Adulf de Braci who held it until at least 1179 at the same rent. The manor was later in the possession of Henry II's widow Queen Eleanor who granted it to her butler Engelram. He granted half the manor to the Abbey of Fontévrault in France (where Henry II had been buried) and Queen Eleanor approved the grant.
Queen Eleanor died in 1204 and her son King John (1199-1216) granted the manor in the following year to William de Cantlowe in exchange for 300 marks (a mark was two thirds of a pound sterling) and Cantlowe's manor at Cockeswall. Cantlowe was the husband of Mascelin, daughter of Adulf de Braci. When the nuns of Fontévrault claimed half the manor William bought them off by assigning Thrempit Mill with accompanying fish ponds to them. Cantlowe fought for King John against his barons... 3
The history of Eaton Bray between 1086 and 1155 is still obscure... At Domesday the manor was in the hands of Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and was assessed at 12 hides 1 virgate. It was evidently underassessed, because it was returned as capable of carrying six plough-teams on demesne and fourteen villan teams. On the ordinary assumption that the hide in very early times, and the team-land in 1086, both represented approximately 120 acres, it would seem that there were over 2000 acres of arable land on the manor, and that something over Seven Hides had been added since the original assessment. On the imprisonment of Odo in 1082, his vast estates escheated to the Crown.
Eaton Bray reappears in the Records in 1130, as still being Crown demesne. In 1155-6 it is entered, together with the royal manors of Wendover, co. Bucks., and Houghton Regis, among lands which had been granted by royal bounty (terre date)... [In] 1157-8 we find 'Faramus' as holder of 60li.worth of lands in Wendover and Eaton, and at the same date the name of Osbert Martel is mentioned in another connection. Faramus continued to hold in Wendover and Eaton until 1183-4; Osbert is occasionally mentioned as a live man till 1161-2; but in 1165-6, among lands which have fallen to the Crown, the Sheriff accounts for "Ehton the land of Osbert Martel in Bedefordescire." Osbert had held also in Edlesborough and Ravenstone, co. Bucks., and was evidently recently dead, or had lost his lands.
There are therefore two distinct holdings in Eaton Bray under the Crown, which run parallel to one another for many years through the Pipe Rolls. What we may call Eaton Faramusi is among the allowances to the Sheriff for lands granted away by the Crown (terre date). Eaton Martelli is administered by the Sheriff among forfeitures and escheats; it was restocked by him within a year of its lapse to the Crown, with 24 oxen, 3 affers (draught beasts), 10 cows, and 1 bull, 250 sheep, ten swine and a boar, and 39 yearling pigs; at a cost of 13li. 6s. 2d.; the yearly value of the manor was thus raised to 20li. The Sheriff administered Eaton Martelli for five years, after which it became the subject of a fresh grant to Aldulf de Braci, together with Osbert's lands in Ravenstone and land in Mentmore, and there seems to have been a re-grant in 1172-3; but the unpaid debts from Osbert's lands linger on in the Pipe Rolls for many years....
Of Osbert Martel little has been found. He appears as a witness to a charter of William Count of Boulogne (d. 1159), son of King Stephen, about 1154. At some date before 1154 he made a grant to the Priory of Dunstable of "the land of Sortegraua [Shortgrave in Studham] whereof two-thirds belong to the fee of Thoterho [Totternhoe] and one-third to the fee of Eytuna [Eaton Bray]"; also of free pasturage in his wood of Eytuna; this charter was confirmed by King Stephen. There is also a later confirmation by Aldulf de Braci of "the land of Scortegraue which is of my fee of Eytona . . . according as I found the aforesaid convent seised thereof when the King gave to me the manor of Eytona . . . according as Osbert Martel granted."...
Of Aldulf de Braci few traces have been found among the records. He was a benefactor to the Norman priory of Longueville before 1155, and seems to have enjoyed Eaton Martellli only from 1170-71 till 1176-77, when the Sheriff once more accounts for the land.... Besides his confirmation to Dunstable Priory of the grant of Osbert Martel already cited above, he granted forty acres of his demesne out of the Five Hides of Totno (Totternhoe)... He appears as a cousin of Fulk fitz Warine, and one of his companions in the marvellous adventures of the Legend; as many of the personages in this are real, where tested by more sober records, the relationship may well be true. 4
[Circ. 1200.]—Charter of Aldulf de Braci restoring to Hugh Charnel[lis], his man, half a knight's fee in the vill of Croston, as his right and inheritance, which Hingelof, his father, and Margaret, his mother, held of Aldulf's father, to be held by payment of twenty shillings a year, saving the forinsec service. Hugh has given him fifteen marcs of silver for this grant.
Hiis testibus: Willelmo d[e] Albanico; Waltero de Cantelu; Nigello filio Alexandri; Willelmo de Vadis; Thoma de Otot; Waltero de Pincebec; Ridello de Kisebi; Radulfo Britone; Gervasio de B[er]nac; Willelmo de Albanin[o] quarto; Ricardo d[e] Offinton; Willelmo de Gnipeton; Roberto de Huntedun; Hugone de capella; Willelmo de Stodeham... 5