...[The] chief lord of Cossington in the twelfth century was one or other of the earls of Chester, "under whom the family of Pincerna" or Boteler [i.e. Butler] held in demesne. Towards the close of of the twelfth century the manorial rights held by Boteler were divided by the marriages of his two daughters and co-heirs, one to Roger de Somervill and the other to Ralph de Meisham." The evidence for this division of the Boteler holding in Cossington is an official record, of which the following is a sufficient abstract:—
Pipe Roll, 29 Henry II, 1182-3. Roger de Sumervill renders account of £15 that he may have a moiety of the land of Robert Pincerna (Boteler) with his daughter. Ralph de Meisham renders account of £20 to have the other moiety of the above land with the other daughter.
The next record in which the names of Somervill and Meisham appear relates to the advowson of Cossington church:—
Curia Regis Roll 12, m. i, Leic., temp. Richard I. Roger de Sumervill and William de Meisham put themselves on the Grand Assize against the abbot of St. Severus concerning the advowson of the church of Cusington and ask for recognition which of them has the greater right. 1
Robert Pincerna, who succeeded his father, and like him was the earl's butler, married Ivetta, the daughter of William Helgot. (Kuerden's MSS) This William was probably descended from the owners of Holegate or Helgot in Corvedale in Shropshire (Blakeway's Hist. Shrewsbury, vol. i. p. 37 ; vol. ii. pp. 17 to 24), between whom and the Lancashire Garnets there seems to have been an early connection. (Rot. de Oblatis et Finibus, p. 403.) ...
It does not appear, however, that Ivetta Helgot brought with her any estate to her husband...There seems, in Robert Pincerna's time, to have been some connexion between the families of Pincerna and the earls of Devonshire, for Robert Pincerna occurs at this time as a witness to a charter of William Vernon earl of that place to Quarr abbey. (Dugdale's Monasticon under Quarr.) About the year 1147 he occurs also as witness to a charter of Henry de Lacy. ( Whalley Coucher Book, p. 76.) He gave Roger de Gondeville his son-in-law a garden near the bridge at Chester. Early in the reign of Henry II., in whose reign he is said to have been a baron by tenure (Haydn's Book of Dignities, p. 517), he held the twelfth part of a knight's fee in Lincolnshire among the knights enfeoffed by Simon St. Liz earl of Northampton, after the death of king Henry I (Lib. Nig. Scacc., vol. i. p. 270.) But his name has been strangely used and abused in a forged charter of William the Conqueror, which was exemplified by an inspeximus in the time of Edward III. (Blakeway's Hist. Shrewsbury, vol. ii. pp. 15, 16.) Randle Gernons earl of Chester, Robert Pincerna's master, passed his whole life in war and unrest. With alternate success he opposed king Stephen, and levied war against him during a great part of his reign. In 1141 the king coming suddenly upon him surprised him in Lincoln castle, but he escaped by the outer postern, and hastened to muster a sufficient force to attack the king in return, and, although he at first succeeded and made the king his prisoner, he was unfortunate soon after, and being himself taken prisoner by the king about the year 1145 he was shut up in close confinement in the castle of Lincoln. (Hist. Lincoln) As the earl's loyal liegeman, Robert Pincerna was probably with his master in his several battles ; on the last occasion however he escaped being taken prisoner with him, and, that he might use his liberty for his master's good, he resolved to found a religious house where continual prayer should be made for the earl's safety, and he accordingly gave to God, the Virgin Mary, and William first abbot of Combermere, a moiety of his township of Pulton (perhaps he had only a moiety, the other half having passed to his brother William), to found there a convent of Cistercian monks to pray for the health and safety of his master the earl Randle Gernons (then a prisoner of king Stephen) and of the earls Hugh and Randle his predecessors, and of his own wife Ivetta, his son and heir Robert, and the souls of his ancestors. (Hist. Ches., vol. ii. p. 464.) This charter was sealed by the grantor and Ivetta his wife, and by Robert their son and heir apparent ; and, which is rare, the grantor and his wife are set down among the witnesses of the gift, and, which is still stranger, another of the witnesses calls himself "Willielmus spuens mendacium," or, according to the Monasticon " Spernens mendacium." (Ibid) In or about the year 1151 Robert Pincerna became a benefactor of the priory of Stoke near Clare, a cell of the abbey of Bec in Normandy. (Taylor's index to the Monasticon) Earl Randle soon afterwards was set at liberty, so that the prayers his butler had instituted for him, one may hope, had not been in vain. His misfortunes however were not ended, for in 1153 he died of poison, administered to him by William Peverel. After the death of earl Randle Gernons, Hugh Kyveliok, his son and successor, by this charter confirmed Robert Pincerna's gift : "Hugh, earl of Chester, to his constable, steward, justice, sheriff, barons, knights, ministers, and all his [liege] men, as well French as English, present and to come, greeting. Know ye that I have granted, and by this my charter have for ever confirmed, to the monks of Pulton all the moiety of Pulton, with all its appurtenances, which they hold in fee farm from Robert Pincerna, and whence any service ariseth to me. And know ye that I claim for the said monks freedom and quiet from every service belonging to me from the same land, and henceforth I will look to Robert Pincerna for the same service ; wherefore I will that no one by any means destrain the same monks for such service, and I enjoin that no one in any wise presume to molest them on that account. Witnesses : the abbot of Chester, John constable of Chester, William Patric, Alured de Cumbrai, Radulf fitz Warin, Richard de Pulford, WilHam the chaplain, with many others. Dated at Chester." (Translated from the original in the possession of the marquis of Westminster.)
This charter is sealed with the earl's seal, an armed knight on horseback in full career, and with a head in front face as a secretum. This seal without the secretum is engraved in the History of Cheshire (vol. i. p. 32). The deed has no date, but as John was not constable until 1172, it is probable that Robert Pincerna the founder had then been dead some years. The situation of the abbey was too near to the Welsh, and its limits proved too narrow for the monks, who ultimately removed to the neighbourhood of Leek, where they built a new home and called it Dieu la cresse - "may God increase it." (Hist. Ches., vol. ii. p. 463.)...
In the second, third and fourth years of Henry II. (1155 to 1157) Robert Pincerna occurs as holding the lands of Budiford in Warwickshire; after that time the entries cease, and it is probable that he died. (Pipe Rolls, pp. 44, 86, 186.)
Robert Pincerna seems to have had a house at Engleby in Derbyshire, and his son and heir Robert was called de Engleby, probably from having been born there. Robert was a loyal servant to the earl, and gave proof of his affection for him by founding an abbey for his safety. 2