A Gloucestershire Archives Christmas: Display 1 of 20
First mention of Christmas - Grant of Land made between John de Colethrop William de Colethrop, dyer of Gloucester (D214/T30A/9)
This document contains the earliest actual mention of ‘Christmas’ in Gloucestershire! It is from the family and professional correspondence of John Parsons, attorney of Kemerton and Tewkesbury (1760-1805). Parsons dealt with many families including the Twysell family of Kings Stanley. Among the records of the Twysells there are several documents that date from the 1200s dealing with grants of land in Colthrop, which was part of the Manor of Standish but is now in the parish of Haresfield. The document shown here is a grant of land made between John de Colethrop of Standish and William de Colethrop, a dyer of Gloucester. Written in Latin, the grant is not dated precisely but is thought to have been written around 1270 and it concerns one acre of arable land lying in a field called ’Overworthin’. We do not know precisely where this acre of land was because in a typically complicated way, it is only identified by using the names of adjacent pieces of land or their owner/occupiers. In this case, one end of Overworthin extended to ‘Turdelesbroc’ and the other end to the land of Robert Capel and it lay between the land of Richard Glise on the one side and the land of Roger Hygun on the other. We also know that the grant cost William de Colethrop 17 shillings (about £600 today) and was witnessed by a total of eight people: Nicholas le Parker, Reginald le Spenser of Stanedis (Standish), Laurence Maresscoll, Reginald Pipare, Adam Capel, Walter Dyer, burgess of Gloucester and two clerks; Richard de Brithamton clerk and Peter the clerk. The annual rent for the land is given as one farthing (a quarter of a penny, about 80p today) and this amount was payable at Christmas. This is written as 'ad Natalem Domini’ (literally ‘for Christmas’ or ‘at the birth of the Lord’) and is visible midway on line 6. The wording is heavily abbreviated – appearing roughly as ‘ad Nath dmi’ – and is on a fold so is difficult to read but is a reminder that even back then some people were working over Christmas!