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St. Cuthbert had been taken from its shrine on the occasion, and of course all the armed force of the diocese was bound to follow. It was borne in front of the army by a monk of Durham. There were many rich caparisons, says the old poem, many beautiful pennons, fluttering from lances, and much neighing of steeds. The hills and valleys were covered with sumpter horses and wagons laden with tents and provisions. The Bishop of Durham in his warlike state appeared, we are told, more like a powerful prince, than a priest or prelate.1
At the surrender of the crown of Scotland by John Baliol which ended this invasion, the bishop negotiated on the part of England. a trophy of the event, the chair of Schone used on the inauguration of the Scottish monarchs, and containing the stone on which Jacob dreamed, the palladium of Scotland, was transferred to England and deposited in Westminster Abbey.2
1 Robert de Graystanes, Ang. Sac. p. 746, cited by Hutchinson, vol. p. 239.
2 An extract from an inedited poem, cited by Nicolas in his translation of the Siege of Carlavarock, gives a striking picture of the palatinate in these days of its pride and sple dor:
"There valor bowed before the rood and book,
And kneeling knighthood served a prelate lord,
"There time has heard the peal rung out at night,
In the reign of Edward IIL we find the De Wessyngtons still mingling in alvin is meteS The name of Sir Stephen de Wemangion appears on a list of knights (nobles eilesalen, who were to tilt at a tournament at Dunstable in 1834 He bore for his device a guiden z me on au azare field.1
He was soon called to exercise Lie arme on a sterner field. In 1348, Edward and illa non, the Black Prince, being absent with the artis in France, King David of Scotland invaded Not thumberland with a powerful army, Queen Pullippa, who had remained in England as regent, immediately took the field, calling the northern prelates and nobles to join her standard. They all hastened to obey. Among the prelates was Hatfield, the Bishop of Durham. The sacred
banner of St. Cuthbert was again displayed, and the chivalry of the palatinate assisted at the famous battle of Nevil's Cross, near Durham, in which the Scottish army was defeated and King David taken prisoner.
Queen Philippa Lastened with a victorious train to cross the sea at Dover, and join King Edward in his camp before Calais. The prelate of Durham accompanied her. His military trair consisted of three bannerets, forty-eight knights, one hundred and sixty-four esquires, and eighty
"Has seen old Durham's lion banner float
O'er the proud bulwark, that, with giant pride
1 Collect. Topog. et Genealog. tom. iv.
archers, on horseback. They all arrived to witness the surrender of Calais (1346), on which occasion Queen Philippa distinguished herself by her noble interference in saving the lives of its patriot citizens.
Such were the warlike and stately scenes in which the De Wessyngtons were called to mingle by their feudal duties as knights of the palatinate. A few years after the last event (1350), William, at that time lord of the manor of Wessyngton, had license to settle it and the village upon himself, his wife, and "his own right heirs." He died in 1367, and his son and heir, William, succeeded to the estate. The latter is mentioned under the name of Sir William de Weschington, as one of the knights who sat in the privy council of the county during the episcopate of John Fordham.2 During this time the whole force of the palatinate was roused to pursue a foray of Scots, under Sir William Douglas, who, having ravaged the country, were returning laden with spoil. It was a fruit of the feud between the Douglases and the Percys. The marauders were overtaken by Hotspur Percy, and then took place the battle of Otterbourne, in which Percy was taken prisoner and Douglas slain.3
For upwards of two hundred years the De Wessyngtons had now sat in the councils of the
1 Collier's Eccles. Hist. book vi. cent. xiv.
2 Hutchinson, vol. ii.
"Theare the Dowglas lost his life,
And the Percye was led away."
Fordun, quoted by Surtee's Hist. Durham, vol. i.
palatinate; had mingled with horse and hound in the stately hunts of its prelates, and followed the banner of St. Cuthbert to the field; but Sir William, just mentioned, was the last of the family that rendered this feudal service. He was the last male of the line to which the inheritance of the manor, by the license granted to his father, was confined. It passed away from the De Wessyngtons, after his death, by the marriage of his only daughter and heir, Dionisia, with Sir William Temple of Studley. By the year 1400 it had become the property of the Blaykestons.1
But though the name of De Wessyngton no longer figured on the chivalrous roll of the palatinate, it continued for a time to flourish in the cloisters. In the year 1416, John de Wessyngton was elected prior of the Benedictine convent, attached to the cathedral. The monks of this convent had been licensed by Pope Gregory VII. to perform the solemn duties of the cathedral in place of secular clergy, and William the Conqueror had ordained that the priors of Durham should enjoy all the liberties, dignities, and honors of abbots; should hold their lands and churches in their own hands and free disposition, and have the abbot's seat on the left side of the choir- thus taking rank of every one but the bishop.2
In the course of three centuries and upwards, which had since elapsed, these honors and privi
1 Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii. p. 489.
2 Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, tom. i. p. 231. London, ed. 1846.
leges had been subject to repeated dispute and encroachment, and the prior had nearly been elbowed out of the abbot's chair by the archdeacon. John de Wessyngton was not a man to submit tamely to such infringements of his rights. He forthwith set himself up as the champion of his priory, and in a learned tract, "De Juribus et Possessionibus Ecclesiæ Dunelm," established the validity of the long controverted claims, and fixed himself firmly in the abbot's chair. His success in this controversy gained him much renown among his brethren of the cowl, and in 1426 he presided at the general chapter of the order of St. Benedict, held at Northampton.
The stout prior of Durham had other disputes with the bishop and the secular clergy touching his ecclesiastical functions, in which he was equally victorious, and several tracts remain in manuscript in the dean and chapter's library— weapons hung up in the church armory as memorials of his polemical battles.
Finally, after fighting divers good fights for the honor of his priory, and filling the abbot's chair for thirty years, he died, to use an ancient phrase, "in all the odor of sanctity," in 1446, and was buried like a soldier on his battle-field, at the door of the north aisle of his church, near to the altar of St. Benedict. On his tombstone
was an inscription in brass, now unfortunately obliterated, which may have set forth the valiant deeds of this Washington of the cloisters.1
1 Hutchinson's Durham, vol. ii. passim.