Rector Lords

As lords of the borough, the rectors of Yeovil were often in contention with burgesses over each other’s rights, particularly when newly appointed.

In 1903 Rector Robert de la More acknowledged that ‘every one of his burgesses without distinction’ could be Provost of the Borough. He was to be elected by the burgesses for approval by the parson, to whom he would be sworn and be answerable for all revenue arising from the courts, and he was ‘to do suit at the three-weeken Courts or at the portmote of the parson’.

The townsmen agreed that the rector ‘by right of his church’ had view of frankpledge twice yearly with all profits. ‘View of frankpledge’ was the Court Leet, or manorial court.

Penalties were imposed on any refusing to accept office, for instance records show ‘the Parson Lord Robert de la More, with others, ‘pulled down the house of Geoffrey the Lorimer and took away the timber’! A penalty also meted out elsewhere.

In 1348 the ‘Black Death’ accounted for three vicars being appointed here between October and the following January. Because of the greatly reduced workforce, the imposition of a ‘Statute of Labour’ fixing the price of labour and binding peasants to the land, much general unrest resulted. In Yeovil the Bishop was assaulted during a visitation here in 1349, blood was spilt and he and his followers were locked in the church until rescued the following day. Ringleader of the rioters, Roger Warmwell, was forced to do penance, pay a fine to the Bishop, and go on pilgrimage to Canterbury.

Robert de Samborne became rector in 1362 and was soon in conflict over market rights. He too was ‘shut up in his mansion house, until rescued by friends’. However, in the suit that followed the rector’s rights were confirmed and the Portreeve and Burgesses were fined £60 for their ‘trespasses’.