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The Textus Roffensis

(Textus de Ecclesia Roffensi per Ernulphum episcopum) * (The Book of the Church of Rochester through Bishop Ernulf)

12th. - 14th. Centuries

For the newly launched digital images of the Textus Roffensis, please follow this link (to Rochester Cathedral website)



The Textus Roffensis is more properly two distinct books, though written at about the same time, and largely by the same scribe, which were only bound together some time after 1300. The first part contains one of the most important of all surviving collections of Anglo-Saxon laws, from the conversion of King Aethelberht of Kent to the coronation charter of King Henry I of 1100.

The second part is the oldest and most precious of the cathedral registers. It can best be described as a memorandum book, created for ease of reference and security. Both parts were compiled in part from individual or single sheet original documents or exemplars, many now lost, in part from the collective memory of the cathedral community.

Dr. Patrick Wormald of Oxford is more explicit and humorous in his explanation of the purpose of the book. He says of the Textus Roffensis: it would have made an impressive weapon for a churchman seeking to defend the position of his English foundation against prowling Norman predators, compiled as it was soon after the Norman Conquest.

The compilation represents the first documentary evidence of the compromises made between the new Norman rulers and their indigenous English subjects, hinting at a convergence rather than a collision between the English language and English laws on the one hand and Romance laws and language on the other.

The book contains two foundation charters of Rochester Cathedral and Diocese of 604 (DRc/R1 f.119 recto - f.119 verso and DRc/R1 f.177 recto), two pre-Conquest and pre-Domesday Book lists of Kent parishes and copies of the earliest English law codes to survive (contained in part i of the book, i.e. the first of the two separate books prior to their being bound together)

The book would have been placed on the high altar in the presbytery, or stored very near by, not in the nave as some scholars have supposed. The first suggestion that it was known as a Textus comes from the enigmatic mid-thirteenth-century (Brett) or fourteenth century (Flight) note as quoted above *, which is long after its compilation. The term Textus signifies a book with an ornamented or decorated cover of the kind kept in the church rather than the cloister thus differentiating the volume from a liber de claustro Roffensi or book from the cloister of Rochester. The title is sometimes erroneously taken to mean a text concerning the church of Rochester.

It was highly unusual for a non-sacred book to be accorded such status, evidence of the politico-religious importance attached to its mainly secular content.


The compilation dates from the episcopate of Ernulf of Bec (1115-1124) and more specifically from the period 1122-1123 (Hough, 2001) or 1123-1124 (Wormald, 2001). At that time there was little distinction between the possessions of the priory and the bishopric, and the bishop lived in the priory buildings with the monks. Ernulf’s involvement is commemorated on the first folio.

Both parts were written by a single scribe. Flight surmises it was the prior of the day, Ordwine. Wormald suggests he was a trusted servant of Bishop Ernulf (talk transcript, 2004). Whoever he was, he was no ordinary scribe and possessed advanced scholarly and editorial powers and was responsible for seeking out and ordering as well as transcribing the book’s contents. Similarly, A. Campbell has stated the texts……when compared with the single sheets, inspire considerable confidence in the care, honesty, and accuracy of the scribe (1973).

Physical description.

The volume now contains 235 vellum leaves.

The main hand in both parts is an early twelfth century bookhand but a number of leaves, particularly in the second part, have been replaced, and there are also additions made down to the mid-fourteenth century in a variety of later hands, which mostly imitate the work of the first scribe with more or less success. Some of the dominant capitals are coloured but on the whole very little colour has been used. There is one fully illuminated capital letter, marking the beginning of the second part on f.119r. After the two parts were brought together they were foliated throughout except for ff. 234v-235v in arabic numerals and thus must have been foliated after c.1300, see below.

Nothing is known of the original bindings of the two parts while separated, but the new binding of c.1300 comprised wooden boards with a leather covering. This wooden binding almost certainly survived until the early eighteenth century as it was noted by Dr. John Harris, Prebendary of Rochester, who borrowed it (presumably just before it was rebound in 1718) for his History of Kent published in 1719.

On 21 December 1708 the Chapter meeting ordered the Dean to take the book to London for binding following a request for the loan of it to Dr. Edward Elstub [cf. Elstob] on security of £200 (DRc AC/5 p.55 recto). It is not certain the book was bound on that occasion but at some stage between 1708 and 1712 it was lent to Elstub as on 25 June 1712 the Chapter ordered him to return it (DRc AC/5 p.95 recto). The book was rebound in 1718 along with the Customale Roffense (DRc/R2) but as both were bound in Russia leather and only the latter retains its Russia leather cover, the present binding of the Textus Roffensis must be later. However, comparison with the Customale Roffense provides an indication of the appearance of the Textus Roffensis between 1718 and c.1750. That the present covering is not Mrs. Jane Steel's of 1718 (see below) is also confirmed by the absence of corners itemised in her bill. We may surmise that as the binding of the Customale Roffense is a conventional board and leather binding, Steel's rebinding of the Textus Roffensis was given the same treatment and was the occasion on which the medieval wooden boards were dispensed with. Harris' published reference to the wooden boards in 1719 therefore post-dates the rebinding by Steele and refers to the binding of the book whilst in his possession c.1716.

The cover was repaired by Charles Lamacraft in 1937.

Custodial history of the book

William Lambard had access to the Textus in 1573 and annotated several folios.

The first recorded removal of the book from the cathedral’s custody occurred in c.1631 when it appears to have been lent to Sir Henry Spelman (c.1564-1641) the antiquary, in London, for scholarly research. Spelman seems to have employed Thomas Somer, a clerk to Edward Robinson, Clerk of the Court of Chancery to privately transcribe the volume’s contents. At any rate, on completion of the task, the Dean and Chapter arranged for John Lorkin (alias Larkin), Prebendary, to collect the volume from Somer who delivered the book to Lorkin’s lodgings in London but finding the prebendary absent, left it in the hands of the landlord’s wife. Here began a sorry train of events.

Before Lorkin could lay his hands on the volume, a fellow lodger, Dr. Thomas Leonard, a physician of Canterbury, purchased the volume from the landlord’s wife or their servant, probably for the sum of 5 shillings. It took a legal action in the Court of Chancery for Dr. Leonard to surrender the book back into the Dean and Chapter’s custody in 1633.

During Dr. Leonard’s unauthorised custody of the book it was transcribed by Sir Edward Dering whose copy was the basis of Thomas Hearne’s published transcription of 1720. Dering like Lambard made numerous notes in the margins.

In the late 1650s or early 1660s the book was borrowed by Sir Roger Twisden who returned it safely in 1663. Hasted (History of Kent, 1782) believed the Chancery suit to have occurred after the Restoration but would appear to have confused Twisden’s borrowing of the book with its earlier unlawful alienation by Dr. Leonard.

It appears likely the book was loaned to Dr. Edward Elstub in 1708 for transcription by him and the infant prodigy James Smith. It was in the hands of Francis Atterbury, bishop of Rochester in 1717 (DRc AC5/5 pt.ii p.68) and loaned to Dr. John Harris in 1716 (whose History of Kent was published in 1719) (see DRc AC5 pt.ii pp.15-16). It seems the chapter supported Harris in a tussle with the Dean for its possession (DRc AC/5 part ii p.15)

Sometime between 1708 and 1718 the volume was accidentally immersed in either the River Thames or River Medway while being transported to or from London, to or from either Elstub or Harris (Harris, according to Hasted, in which case c.1716-c.1718). The immersion resulted in the margins of the vellum pages being slightly shrunk and stained by a white crystalline deposit. That the damage was limited may have been because of tight brass clasps connecting the wooden boards. The shrinkage and staining were successfully treated by Lamacraft in 1937.

Hasted describes the events thus: Since which they have been again in great danger of being deprived of it; for Dr. [John] Harris [DD FRS], having borrowed it for the use of his intended history of this county, sent it up to London by Water [cf. Rivers Thames and Medway], and the vessel being by the badness of the weather overset, this Mss. lay for some hours under water before it was discovered, which has somewhat damaged it. If accurate, this event can be dated to c.1716-c.1718.

The book is noted as having been returned and presented to the Chapter on 7 July 1719 after being new bound. It is also apparent from this entry (DRc AC/5 pt.iii p.34) that the proper or normal storage place of the book was the chapter room. The rebinding referred to is almost certainly that of Mrs. Jane Steel, whose bill was settled on 15 July 1718 (DRc FTv/54/10). It is thus obvious the book was absent between 1718 and 1719 perhaps being used by another borrower, most likely the bishop who seems to have prompted its repair, being named on Steel's bill, but the point to note is that the rebinding could have been the result of the water damage which can thus be dated to c.1716-1718 perhaps whilst being returned by Dr. Harris. The book was rebound by Steel along with the Customale Roffense (DRc/R2)

The book was borrowed for one year by Edmund Barrell (variously prebendary, vice-dean and treasurer of the cathedral and vicar of Boxley) by authorisation of the chapter on 25 November 1719 (DRc AC/5 pt.iii p.40), returned on 12 December 1719 (DRc AC/5 pt.iii p.47) and borrowed again by him on 27 January 1719/1720 (DRc AC/5 pt.iii p.47).

The Textus Roffensis was transcribed and published by Thomas Hearne in 1720 from a copy in the Surrenden library (cf. Sir Edward Dering), but as there are no papers extant relative to the recovery of the register in the seventeenth century, it cannot be determined whether the original was ever part of the Surrenden library. The register was also used extensively by John Thorpe in his compilation of the Registrum Roffense in 1769.

David Wilkins had access to the book for his Leges Anglo-Saxonicae published in 1721 and in the 19th. century further work was undertaken on the book by Richard Price, Benjamin Thorpe and Felix Liebermann.

The book was disbound for photography for Sawyer’s facsimiles published in 1957 and 1962.

Conservation work was undertaken by James Wayre at Canterbury Cathedral Archives in 1996.  The book was also photographed in its entirety in black and white, the prints being lodged with Rochester Cathedral Library and the negatives with Canterbury Cathedral Archives.

The book was fully digitally photographed in high resolution and colour for Medway Council in 2004 for publication in the CityArk Imagebase (click view images button above) and the binding and thirty pages (p.iii-4 recto, 31 verso - 32 recto, 49 verso - 50 recto, 53 verso - 56 recto, 95 verso - 97 recto, 110 verso - 111 recto, 118 verso - 119 recto, 166 verso -167 recto, 176 verso - 177 recto and 220 verso - 221 recto) were scanned at the British Library on 19 September 2007 following its winning of first place in the Turning the Pages 2 competition for local hidden treasures to be included in the British Library's Turning the Pages web site for three years, published on 23 January 2008.

No cover to cover translation of the Textus Roffensis is known to exist.

Bad staining occurs at ff.126v-127r. This appears to have been caused subsequent to the book's immersion in the River Thames and pre-Sawyer as it appears in his facsimile.

The book was deposited by the Dean and Chapter of Rochester at Kent Archives Office in Maidstone in 1969. Prompted by the creation of the more local Rochester upon Medway City Archives Office in 1990 the cathedral archives including the Textus Roffensis were transferred to Strood in 1992. This office was managed by employees of Kent County Council until 1998 when management and custody passed from Kent County Council to the new Unitary Authority (i.e. County Borough) and Archives Authority, Medway Council.

The English Language

The book contains the putative first record of the English language, in the form of the Laws of Ethelbert of c.604 but see also the foundation charters also of 604. The Laws of Ethelbert begin:

Godes feoh and ciricean xii gylde. Biscopes feoh xi gylde. Preostes feoh ix gylde. Diacones feoh vi gylde. Cleroces feoh iii gylde. Ciric frith ii gylde

(The property of God and of the church, twelvefold; a bishop's property, elevenfold; a priest's property, ninefold; a deacon's property, sixfold; a clerk's property, threefold; churchfrith, twofold) (translation Fordham University).

The English used in the constituent Old English books is the Jutish dialect of Old English. The Textus is important because it preserves this rarer dialect of English, West Saxon becoming the predominant literary dialect of Old English. The modern English language is derived successively from the Mercian and East Midland dialects.

The book is thus an important record of an emerging language and the earliest recorded Germanic language after Gothic, which became extinct, and the fourth oldest recorded European language, excluding Gothic, after Greek, Latin and Irish.

The Old English texts contained in the Textus Roffensis also represent the creation of a new alphabet, possibly the first vernacular alphabet after Greek and Latin, combining a Celtic variety of Latin characters, two Germanic runes named thorn and win and a third new letter comprising a modified d called eth.

English Law

The Laws of Ethelbert and the other Kentish laws of the seventh and eighth centuries are the earliest of their kind to survive and are the earliest law codes to be recorded in the vernacular, as against the Latin usage of the Roman Empire.

Dr. Patrick Wormald states: Aethelbert’s code is best seen as the law of the Cantwara; a signal that they had joined Franks and Romans in the ranks of civilized because law-abiding peoples. Aethelbert’s laws were largely accepted laws but the later law codes preserved in the book show how English law had developed into innovatory law. Wormald also states: more than any other legal manuscript, it was both memorial to the past and instrument of its adaptation in a new world.

Anglo-Saxon Historical Research

The Textus Roffensis is a crucial primary source for the history of the Anglo-Saxon period, the more so because the scribe was scholarly and accurate in selecting and copying from his originals.

Wormald states the book matters crucially for the study of Anglo-Saxon charters…because the second part of the MS is a cartulary containing three dozen pre-conquest documents.

A source for Ancient History

The law codes may provide an insight into the Barbarian peoples of northern Europe at the height of the Roman Empire as their customary origins may pre-date the Germanic settlement of Britain and therefore provide glimpses of customs and rituals referred to by Roman writers which are not otherwise contemporarily or disinterestedly recorded. This particularly applies to feud and blood money or compensation in money or in kind.

A Medieval Renaissance

The scribe of the Textus Roffensis is a striking exponent of a distinctive form of Caroline miniscule handwriting or bookhand that was developed at Canterbury and Rochester around 1100 and which became influential nationally.

The later foliation of the book is an early example of the use in English documents of Arabic numerals, which made a first tentative appearance on any scale in France in the thirteenth-century, but only became widespread in the fifteenth century. The Arabic foliation cannot be earlier than c.1300 and probably dates from c.1400 (Liebermann).

The Textus Roffensis defines a unique moment in English history, in which a mixed community of Anglo-Saxons and incoming Normans assembled the materials of the past of the ancient church in which they all served, associated them with the whole history of Christendom, and deployed them in defence of a profound reform of the life of the cathedral. (In 1077 the original secular foundation had been converted into a Benedictine regular foundation.)

The compilation of ancient English documents forming part of the Textus Roffensis itself represents a new self-conscious attempt at recording an English heritage, after the Norman Conquest. The incomers needed an effective guide to the law of King Edward (i.e. King Edward the Confessor) as the Conqueror and King Henry his son promised to observe it; incomer and native alike needed all the resources of the book to preserve their ancient rights and recent acquisitions.

The book, chiefly in the form of the law codes, also records an important stage in nation-building and one that influenced the constitutions of England, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and many Commonwealth countries.

Wormald explains this more eloquently: there is an at least indirect connection between the fact that England is today the world’s oldest continuously functioning state and that English is its most widely spoken language. Its language and law are the most enduring marks of Englishness, its main claims to anyone else’s attention. The history of both begins with Aethelbert.

The book may thus be considered as evidence of a 12th. Century and 13th. Century European renaissance that some historians consider to have anticipated the better known 15th. Century renaissance. Aside from its liturgical value and the cartulary in Part II, it also serves the dual purpose of preserving the main corpus of pre-Conquest English law codes that would not otherwise have survived intact and as self-conscious evidence of statehood.

Examples of documents included in the Textus Roffensis

The laws of King Ethelbert of Kent c.604
(DRc/R1 f.1 recto - f.3 verso)

Ethelbert was born c.560 and ruled c580 x c590-616.

The first two lines Dis syndon da domas de aethelbirht cyning asette on agustinus daege (these are the dooms [or laws] that King Ethelbert set in Augustine's days) were composed and added at the time of the compilation of the Textus Roffensis 1123 x 1124 and constitute the first example of the scribe’s many rubrications throughout the text. The rubrication acts as a useful heading and is evidence of the scribe’s editorial control over the whole compilation.

The mid-13th. Century footnote Text[us] de ecc[lesi]a Roff[en]si p[er] Ernulfu[m] ep[iscopu]m (The Book of the Church of Rochester through Ernulf, Bishop), attributes the compilation to the orders of Bishop Ernulf of Rochester. This note has lent itself to the document’s name (see above).

The words of the first 5 lines Godes feoh and ciricean xii gylde. Biscopes feoh xi gylde. Preostes feoh ix gylde. Diacones feoh vi gylde. Cleroces feoh iii gylde. Ciric frith ii gylde (The property of God and of the church, twelvefold; a bishop's property, elevenfold; a priest's property, ninefold; a deacon's property, sixfold; a clerk's property, threefold; churchfrith, twofold) are putatively the earliest surviving words of the English language.

The marginal notes were made by William Lambard in 1573 and Sir Edward Dering in 1632.

The Laws of Aethelbert of Kent of c 604 were entered up 1123 x 1124, They are immediately preceded by notes on Old English characters made by Elizabeth Elstob in 1712 and followed by the Laws of Hlothere and Eadric of Kent 673-c685, also entered up 1123 x 1124.

List of the Archbishops of Canterbury
(DRc/R1 f.110 verso)

This list is naturally the first of the lists of bishops of English dioceses contained in the Textus Roffensis, Canterbury having precedence as the primatial see.

The list begins with Augustine (Augustinus), appointed to Canterbury in 597 and extends to Walter (Walterus) in 1314. However, the main scribe’s hand is evident only down to Ralph (Rodulfus) (succeeded 1114) after whose name other hands have added to the list. This possibly helps date the principal compilation of the Textus Roffensis or at any rate Part 2 to 1123 or just before 1123 when William de Corbeil succeeded. This evidence is by no means determinate however as the list of bishops of Rochester in the main hand extends only to Godwin II who died c.950 with the inference that the main scribe used his discretion in including recent or current archbishops and bishops.

List of the Bishops of Rochester
(DRc/R1 f.111 recto)

This list has pride of place among the lists of bishops of the dioceses following the list of archbishops of Canterbury, beginning with Justus in 604 and ending with Hamo of Hythe in 1316. However as with the Canterbury list, the list was compiled by the main scribe only down to Godwin II who died c.1050 after whose name other hands have added to the list.

These two lists have proved crucial in dating the book. Note additional archbishops and bishops' names in later hands.

Grant of land to St. Andrew’s church at Rochester 28 April 604
(DRc/R1 f.119 recto - f.119 verso)

This page marks the beginning of Part II of the Textus Roffensis, the cartulary of Rochester Priory.

The illumination comprises the illuminated letter R of Regnante formed out of an angel and winged dragon coloured green, lake and vermilion and introduces the charter of King Aethelbert (or Ethelbert) of Kent granting land in Rochester to Bishop Justus and the church of St. Andrew. The charter seems to assume the church already exists. It should be noted the church did not become a priory until Archbishop Lanfranc instituted monks of the Benedictine order here in 1083, at which time Bishop Gundulf began his rebuilding and endowment programme. Down to that time, the church had been a college of lay clerks.

The document is dated 28 April by reference to the imperial Julian Calendar and to 604 by reference to the Indiction. Calculation by indiction was first used in imperial documents, though different forms of it were also used in ecclesiastical documents for centuries. The year of the Incarnation is not given in the document, but Bede places the consecration of Bishop Justus and the foundation of the diocese in 604.

The rubrication or heading was added by the main scribe in the 1120s and the marginalia by Sir Edward Dering in 1632.

The charter breaks into Old English to describe the boundaries of land in the south-western corner of the city granted by the king to the church, the area of the Roman fortress and the later medieval castle:

Fram suthgeate west and langes wealles oth north lanan to straete and sra east fram straete oth dodding hyrnan on gean brad geat

(From South Gate in the west and along the walls to North Lane, to the Street, and so east from Street to Doddinghern Lane and then to Broad Gate).

If the boundary clause is indeed very ancient, this document contains the first record of placenames or street names in the English language and the earliest firmly dated record of the English language. The Street is Watling Street i.e. Rochester High Street; Doddinghern [Lane] is now Boley Hill (formerly King’s Head Lane), in Rochester, see Gordon Ward MD FSA's map in Archaeologia Cantiana LXII 1949 p.38.

However, the document is in part at least a later forgery in common with many charters of the Anglo-Saxon period and was devised to give legal basis to rights not otherwise recorded.

The document is immediately preceded by a note of an inquisition made in 1199 concerning the debts of Rochester Priory.

Grant of land to St. Andrew’s church at Rochester 604
(DRc/R1 f.177 recto)

This document, recording the principal gifts to the church from its foundation to the grant made by King Henry I at the consecration of the new cathedral in 1130, is one of the early additions to the book. The date given, 600, is not accepted by historians. Justus was sent to England by Pope Gregory in 601 and ordained bishop of Rochester in 604.

The area of land conveyed by King Ethelbert is described thus: Omnem terram quae est a medu waie usque ad [?] orientalem portum civitatis in australi parte (All the land which is on the southern side from the Mead Way as far as the east gate of the City).

The land in question is thus the land upon which the church was built, see Gordon Ward MD FSA's map in Archaeologia Cantiana LXII 1949 p.38.

It should be noted that the street named as Mead Way on Ward's map is erroneous. The Latin medu waie in the original document is certainly the River Medway, not an earlier name for Northgate, formerly Pump Lane, as suggested by Ward. Thus an earlier translation by R.C. Fowler OBE BA FSA is correct (Victoria County History of Kent, volume ii p. 121 1926)

The entry represents at least the collective memory of the community at Rochester by the mid-twelfth century; if there had ever been a charter to record this early grant, it appears to have been long lost.

Coronation Charter or Institutiones of King Henry I, 1100
(DRc/R1 ff. 96 recto-97 verso)

This is the earliest document of its kind to survive, a promise made by a new king faced by dangerous enemies that he would govern according to good law. Its importance was underlined when Sir William Blackstone published his famed work Commentaries on the Laws of England between 1765 and 1769.

A version of King Henry’s charter was certainly known to the opponents of King John in 1215, and provided a very general precedent for the demands which were met (at least briefly) in Magna Carta of 1215, by which for the first time a king was constrained to acknowledge that he too was bound by the laws which he enforced on his subjects. In Statutes of the Realm published in 1810, Henry’s charter was deemed to outrank Magna Carta in importance.

The Rochester version of the charter, contained in the Textus Roffensis, is the earliest of the numerous surviving copies; the form is broadly that which seems to have been known to the barons in the months before the grant of Magna Carta. John’s opponents seem to have used a version not dissimilar to that in the Textus, but almost certainly one they found in an early-thirteenth-century copy of the Leges Londinienses.

In the charter Henry declared he had been made king by the common consent of the barons; forbade evil customs introduced by William the Conqueror, his father, or William Rufus, his brother; made the church free; abolished abuses of feudal relief, marriage and wardship; upheld allegiance to the king irrespective of traditional feudal lordships; instituted a reform of the coinage; agreed justice would be administered to those who had made or kept bad money; authorised the bequeathing of personal estates by will; agreed men who suffered forfeiture were no longer to be at the king’s mercy; agreed in return for supplying men and horses for the defence of the realm, knights were to be allowed their demesne lands free of tax; agreed peace was to be kept; reinstated the laws of Edward the Confessor as amended by William the Conqueror; and asserted the forests were to remain as they had been under William the Conqueror, with the agreement of the barons.

The document was witnessed by Bishop Gundulf. It is immediately preceded in the book by Bequeathing Form.

Service of Bridgework: list of personages, parishes and manors liable to repair Rochester Bridge, early 11th. century
(DRc/R1 f.166 verso)

This document probably constitutes a description of liabilities for the repair of Rochester Bridge. It is useful as a physical description of the partly English, partly Roman bridge of the period prior to the erection of the later medieval bridge completed in about 1398. However it could also be read as specifications for a proposed new bridge.

The Bridgework list was probably compiled in the first half of the 11th. century. The Textus Roffensis also contains a Latin copy of the original, written by the main scribe at the same time as this transcription in the 1120s (DRc/R1 f.164 verso).

The document was no doubt included in the Textus Roffensis because of the obligations for repair placed on the bishop and his parishes. In this latter regard, historians have used the list as a source for the origins and development of Kent parishes, in conjunction with the slightly later Domesday Book of 1087.

The document begins with the scribe’s rubrication: This is thaere bricce geweorc on hrovecaestre (This is the Bridgework at Rochester) and continues from the original source, the first clause of which states:

Her syndon genamad tha land the man hi of scale weorcan; Aerest thaere burge biscop fehth on thone earm to wercene tha land peran and threo gyrda to pilliane and iii sylla to lycanne, thaet is of Borcstealle and of Cucclestane and of Frinondesbyrig and of Stoce

(Here are named the lands from which the labour is due. First the bishop of the city undertakes to construct the land pier on the [eastern] arm and to plank three rods and to set in place 3 beams, that is from Borstal, Cuxton, Frindsbury and Stoke.)

The document is preceded by an unruled later 12th. Century addition.

List of churches receiving Holy Chrism from St. Andrew’s Church c.1080
(DRc/R1 ff.220 verso – 222 recto)

Holy Chrism was consecrated oil used in the rite of baptism. It was an old custom for the mother church to distribute chrism oil to the subordinate churches of the bishopric at Easter for which a fee of either sixpence or nine pence was charged, known as the Chrism Fee.

The list therefore served as an accounting record of the Chrism fees due from each church.

The list is important as it comprises a list of parishes and chapels nearly contemporary with the Domesday Book of 1087 and may even have been in use pre-Conquest (1066).

Additionally, the list supplies information on chapels and manors and the development of parish areas. For example, in addition to an entry for Frindsbury Church, Strood, Islingham and Thorndun are recorded as chapels of Frindsbury. This indicates that St. Nicholas’ Church Strood was a daughter church of Frindsbury and that the parish of Strood was carved out of Frindsbury.

The list begins with the scribe’s rubrication De numero ecclesiaru[m] Rofensis ep[iscop]at[us] et de redditib[us] q[u]os sing[u]l[a]e reddu[n]t quando accipiu[n]t s[an]ctu[m] crisma a mat[re] eccl[esi]a ep[iscop]at[us] (Concerning the number of churches of the bishopric of Rochester and the payments which they each make when they received the holy chrism from the Episcopal mother church)

The parishes mentioned on the first page include Tonbridge (Tonebrigga), Yalding (Ealdinga), Brenchley (Braencesle), Horsmonden (Horsbundenne), Pembury (Peppingeberia), Wateringbury (Wotringaberia), Cowden (Cudena), Aylesford (Aeilesford), East Malling (Meallingis), Ryarsh (Reiersce), Chatham (Caetham), Cuxton (Cuclestena), Penshurst (Pennes hurst), Ightam (Ehteham) and Lewisham (Leueseham).

Synopsis of contents

Part 1 is preceded by various miscellaneous notes added by much later hands.

p.i recto memoranda and notes in early modern hands

p.i verso list of Old English characters

p.ii recto Latin inscription pertaining to book's return to custody following a law suit 1633

p.ii verso palimpsest

p.iii recto transcription by Dr. John Harris of inscription found on the medieval wooden cover of book, as above 1633

p.iii verso a list of Old English characters by Elizabeth Elstob entered up in 1712

Part 1: Quedam instituta de legibus regum Anglorum (Some enactments from the laws of the kings of the English) (DRc/R1 f.58 recto) [translation Flight]

i.e. legal texts, law codes and regnal lists stemming from the kingdoms of the English Heptarchy, England

ff.1 recto- 3 verso: Ethelbert [cf. Aethelbert] king of Kent [commencing Dis syndon da domas de aethelbirht cyning asette on agustinus daege (transliteration Morris/Sawyer) ( these are the dooms [or laws] that King Ethelbert fixed in Augustine's days) (translation Fordham University.)] It should be noted modern scholars (Hough, Richards and Wormald) suggest this heading to be a later rubrication prefaced by the scribe to the text of the original document from which he copied. (For a 35mm colour slide/transparency see collection M51)
ff.3 verso-5 recto: Hlothere [cf. Lother/Lothair] and Eadric [cf. Edric], kings of Kent
ff.5 recto-6 verso: Wihtred [cf. Wightred], king of Kent
f.7 recto-verso: Hadbot [cf. Hadbote/had; compensation for affront or injury to a person in holy orders, see The Oxford English Dictionary edited by J.A.H. Murray [etc.] 1970, Archives library]
ff.7 verso-8 verso: West Saxon (Wessex) regnal table i.e. list of kings of Wessex
ff.9 recto-31 verso: Alfred [cf. Aelfred] (ff.11 recto- 24 verso) and Ine (ff.24 verso-31 verso), kings of Wessex;
ff.31 verso-32 recto: be blaserum (About Arsonists) and Forfang [rescue of stolen money or reward for rescuing stolen money]
f.32 recto-verso: Ordeal (cf. Ordal)
f.32 verso: Walreaf (despoiling the dead) [cf. Wealreaf, Weilreif, Walaraupa, A Treatise of Gavelkind [etc.], William Somner, 1660]
ff.32 verso-37 recto: II King Athelstan [cf. Aethelstan]
ff.37 recto-38 recto: V King Athelstan [cf. Athelstan]
f.38 recto: IV King Athelstan [cf. Aethelstan]
f.38 recto: Pax [i.e. the king’s peace]
ff.38 verso-39 verso: Swerian [i.e. oath forms]
f.38 verso: f.39 verso: Mirca Laga (Of Mercian Law)
ff.40-41: Laws of Edward [cf. Eadward] the Elder, king of England and Guthrum (or Aethelstan/Athelstan), king of the Dane-Law +; after c.901;
ff.41 verso-42 recto: Wergeld the price set upon a man according to his rank, paid by way of compensation or fine in cases of homicide and certain other crimes to free the offender from further obligation or punishment ( The Oxford English Dictionary, q.v. ); ff.42 recto-43 recto: I King Edward
ff.43 recto-44 recto: II King Edward
ff.44 recto-45 recto: I King Edmund
ff.45 recto-46 recto: II King Edmund
ff.46 recto-47 recto: I King Ethelred
f.47 recto-verso: King William I, On Exculpation
ff.48 recto-49 verso: III King Ethelred
ff.49 verso-57 recto: Iudicia Dei I_III i.e. the judgment of God, comprising Exorcismus-aquae (f.49 verso), Exorcismus-ferri (f.53 verso) and Exorcismus-panis (ff.55 verso -56 recto) i.e. the ceremonies of ordeal by red-hot iron, boiling water, immersion in water or by barley bread and cheese
f.57 verso: Canute, king of England, Charter for Christ Church, Canterbury
ff.58 recto-80 recto: Instituta Cnuti, I II III
ff.80 recto-81 verso: III King William I, Ten Articles
ff.81 verso-87 recto: Exceptiones, ex decretis pontificum, quales accusatores
ff.88 recto-93 recto: VI King Athelstan
f.93 verso- 94 recto Northleoda laga (Of the North people's law)
ff.93 verso-94 recto: Wergeld
ff.94 verso-95 recto: On betrothal/wedding
f.95 recto: charm against theft
f.95 recto-verso: Bequeathing form
ff. 96 recto-97 verso: King Henry I; Institutiones henrici regis
ff.98 recto - 100 recto: Excommunication
f.101 recto-verso: West Saxon [i.e. Wessex] genealogy
ff. 102 recto-104 recto: English royal genealogies, Adam to Edward Ironside (f.101 recto), Northumbria (f.102 recto), Mercia (f.102 recto), Kent (f.103 recto), Wessex (f.103 verso)
ff. 105 recto-116 recto: lists of popes, Roman++ emperors f.107 verso), oriental patriarchs [i.e. of Jerusalem [Palestine/Israel] (f.107 verso), Alexandria [Egypt] (f.109 recto) and Antiocha/Antioch [Syria] (f.109 verso)), and of English archbishops and bishops (ff.110 verso-116 recto) (Canterbury f.110v., Rochester f.111r.)
f.116 verso: a list of popes, seven archangels
f.117 recto: concerning pope Celestine
f.118 verso: note of an inquisition made in 1199 concerning debts of Rochester Priory.

Part 2: Incipiunt privilegia aecclesiae sancti andreae hrofensis concessa a tempore ethilberhti regis, qui fide christiana a beato augustino suscepta, eandem ecclesiam construi fecit (Privileges granted to the church of Saint Andrew of Rochester, from the time of king Aethelbert onwards, who, converted to the Christian faith by Saint Augustine, caused this church to be built) (DRc/R1 f.119 recto) [translation Flight]

i.e. cartulary of Rochester Cathedral Priory

Part 2 begins with an illuminated letter R formed out of an angel and winged dragon coloured green, lake and vermilion.

ff.119 recto-222 recto: cartulary, here partly summarised:

King Aethelberht [cf. Ethelbert] I of Kent to St. Andrew's Priory, Rochester of land in south-western part of the city, f.119. For an image of folio 119 recto, please click here

King Eadberht [cf. Edbert, Eadbert] of Kent to St. Andrew's Priory, Rochester ff119-120

762 Actually 747
King Eardwulf of Kent to St. Andrew's Priory, Rochester f123

762 King Sigered of Kent to Bishop Eardwulf of Rochester ff122-123;

King Offa of Mercia to Bishop Eardwulf of Rochester ff123-125;

King Ecgberht [cf. Egbert] of Kent to Bishop Eardwulf of Rochester confirmed by Heaberht of Kent and Offa of Mercia ff126-127;

761 x 764
Sigered, king of half Kent to Bishop Eardwulf of Rochester; confirmed by Eanmund of Kent ff125-126

King Ecgberht [cf. Egbert] of Kent to Bishop Deora of Rochester ff129-130;

King Ecgberht [cf. Egbert] II of Kent to bishop Deora f130

781 Actually 860-866
King Aethelberht [cf. Ethelbert] of Wessex to Bishop Deora of Rochester ff130-131

King Offa of Mercia to St. Andrew's Priory and Bishopric of Rochester ff131-132;

King Offa of Mercia to Bishop Waermund of Rochester ff133-134

King Offa of Mercia to Bishop Waermund and church at Rochester ff132-133;

King Coenwulf of Mercia and Cuthred of Kent to Swithlun ff135-136

King Coenwulf of Mercia to Bishop Beornmod of Rochester ff136-137

King Ecgberht [cf. Egbert] of Wessex to St. Andrew's Priory, Rochester ff137-138

King Ecgberht [cf. Egbert] of Wessex to Bishop Beornmod of Rochester ff138-139

King Aethelwulf [cf. Ethelwulf] of Wessex to Bishop Beornmod of Rochester f139

King Aethelwulf [cf. Ethelwulf] of Wessex to his minister Dunn; with Dunn's will ff139-140

860 & 790; actually c.975
King Aethelberht [cf. Ethelbert] of Wessex to Bishop Waermund of Rochester ff134-135

King Aethelred [cf. Ethelred] I of Wessex to Cuthwulf, Bishop of Rochester ff140-141

King Aethelwulf [cf. Ethelwulf] of Wessex to St. Andrew's Priory and Bishop Swithwulf ff141-142

King Eadmund [cf. Edmund] I (of Wessex) to Bishop Burhic of Rochester ff143-144

King Eadgar [cf. Edgar] of Wessex to St. Andrew's Priory ff150v-152

995 King Aethelred [cf. Ethelred] II to see of Rochester ff152-155

998 King Aethelred [cf. Ethelred] II to see of Rochester ff156-159

King Aethelred [cf. Ethelred] II to Bishop Godwine (cf. Godwin) of Rochester ff159-162

[ff.163-221: here are charters and other documents mainly post-Conquest

including ff164v-167r list of persons and parishes liable for the repair of Rochester Bridge (Old English), an account of a trial on Penenden Heath, ff.168 recto-170 verso (Latin) and a list of churches and chapels in the diocese of Rochester liable to pay Rochester Cathedral a fee for receiving Holy Chrism or consecrated oil at Easter ff.220v-222r (written c.1115 but thought to have been composed c.1089 and possibly in use pre-Conquest); also including charter of King Ethelbert to St. Andrew's Church of land in south-eastern part of city 600 [actually 604] [forged] (f.177 recto)

ff.222 recto-223 verso: list of offices, masses etc. that ought to be said for members of religious houses in confraternity with Rochester

ff.224 recto-229 verso, 230 recto: lists/catalogue/inventory of books in Rochester Cathedral Priory Library [f.228 recto, line 1, mentions the first part (i.e. the laws) of the present Textus Roffensis as above

ff.232 verso-235: assize of ward of King Edward III

a version of the Domesday account of the Rochester fief, ff.209 recto-210 recto;

benefactions, mainly royal, 8th. Century - King William II, ff.215 recto-216 recto;

a list of knights, f.217 recto;

confirmations of privileges by archbishops of Canterbury William [Corbois/Corbyl] and Theobald, ff.203 recto, 204 verso-222 recto;

a judgment by Imar of Tusculum [cf. Frascati, near Rome, Italy] ff.203 verso-204 recto;

copy of a bull of Pope Eugenius III of 1146, ff.206 recto-208 recto.]

The above list has been compiled from Sawyer (Part 1) pp.15-18 and from Liebermann Archaeologia Cantiana volume xxiii (1898) p.112.

[+ cf. Denmark; Northumbria, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Norfolk, Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Huntingdonshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Essex]
[++ cf. Rome, Italy]

Notes, general.

The original document (DRc/R1) is not produced. Instead, facsimiles of various kinds are made available, from which any reprographic work is undertaken. The following is a list of facsimile sources or secondary sources relating to the Textus Roffensis. This list is not intended to be exhaustive.

Microfilm MF411 (searchroom duplicate).

Microfilm copy also held by University Microfilms, Annarbor, Michigan, United States of America

The book was digitally photographed in high resolution colour on 2 June 2004 by Ian Booth of Medway City Estate . These images (jpegs) are available here on Cityark- see Imagebase.

Notes, bibliographical

Fordham University website translations of Old English Laws or Dooms click here

Printed book Textus Roffensis facsimile, edited by P. Sawyer 1957, 1962 2 volumes, i.e. Parts I & II, Local Studies collection, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre ref. qROC283

Printed book Textus Roffensis edited by Thomas Hearne [q.v.], 1720, containing a transcription and translation of the original Anglo-Saxon text (DRc/R1 chapters 81-82) describing and concerning Rochester Bridge (at pp.379-383), Local Studies collection, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre ref. ROC283Y

Printed book entitled An Historical Account of that Venerable Monument of Antiquity the Textus Roffensis; including Memoirs of the Learned Saxonists Mr. William Elstub and his sister [Elizabeth] by Samuel Pegge MA 1784 ref. qROC091 Pegge

Printed booklet entitled Rochester Cathedral Library: its Fortunes and Adventures through Nine Centuries W.H. Mackean, canon and librarian, 1953

The Local Studies Unit, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre has a set of glass plate negatives (formerly held at the Guildhall Museum) comprising a partial copy of the Textus Roffensis, ref. Box 1B negatives 3097-3105 and Box 1D negatives 3110-3144

Printed book Textus Roffensis and Customale Roffensis by H. Pratt Boorman, Kent Life March 1974, Local Studies collection, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre

Printed booklet entitled The First Code of English Law (originally a lecture given at Canterbury Cathedral Archives under the title King Aethelberht of the Kent-people and the First English Code of Law) by Dr. Patrick Wormald, published by the Canterbury Commemoration Society, 2005, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre

Article entitled The Textus Roffensis in Chancery AD1633 contained in Archaeologia Cantiana XXX 1914 pp.225-232 by A.A. Arnold, 1913 Local Studies collection Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre

Printed book The Laws of the Earliest English Kings F.L. Attenborough, 1922

Printed book The Making of English Law: King Alfred to the Twelfth Century - Volume I Legislation and its Limits Patrick Wormald 2001

Printed book The Beginnings of English Law L. Oliver, 2002

Printed article The List of Saxon Churches in the Textus Roffensis by G. Ward MD FSA Archaeologia Cantiana volume XLIV pp.39-59 1932

Printed book The History of Kent by J. Harris (q.v.) 1719: containing also a transcription and translation from the Anglo-Saxon text describing and concerning Rochester Bridge (at pp.260-261), Local Studies collection, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, ref. Y942HAR

Printed book A perambulation of Kent [etc.] by William Lambarde, first published 1576; reprinted 1826. Also containing a transcription and translation of the Anglo-Saxon text describing and concerning Rochester Bridge, (at pp. 347-352). Local Studies collection, Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre, ref. Y942LAM;

Printed book Diocesan Histories: Rochester by Rev. A.I. Pearman MA 1897 (ROC283)

Printed book The Bishops and Monks of Rochester 1076-1214 by Colin Flight, no. vi in monograph series, Kent Archaeological Society, 1997, copy in local studies collections at this centre, ref. ROC283FLI. This book, chapter 2, pp.17 et seq. includes information on the title of the document and a description of the document's composition.

The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England click here

Off-print of article entitled Palaeographical evidence for the compilation of Textus Roffensis by Dr. Carole A. Hough of the Department of English Language, Glasgow University, published in Scriptorium: international revue of manuscript studies Tome LV 2001,1 Archives Library OA/LIB/358

File updated by Borough Archivist, Medway Council 28 January 2008. Updated Nov 2014 by Archivist, Medway Council.

Date: 12th.-14th. centuries
Quantity: 1 volume 9 1/2" x 7" x 2 1/4" (240mm x 175mm x 55mm)
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