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Did Bernard Newmarch Invade Brecknock as Early as 1088?
By Darrell Wolcott
Both medieval and modern historians
suggest that the Norman knight, Bernardo de Novo Mercato of Neufmarche, must have begun his conquest of Brychieniog some 5
years prior to the year he killed its king, Bleddyn ap Maenyrch, and that man's brother-in-law, Rhys ap Tewdwr King of Deheubarth.
They point to a charter whereby Newmarch granted the church at Glasbury, together with its vicarage and gardens, to the monastery
at St Peters in Gloucester. And they accept the year AD 1088 as the date of that charter.
The text of the Glasbury charter,
as copied in 1867 from a vellum manuscript dating from the late 1200's, does NOT contain any dating clause. The editor
of this 3-volume work merely added a marginal notation "AD 1088" as his own estimate. No doubt he was influenced by
another Newmarch charter which WAS executed in 1088:
"Bernardus de Novo Mercato dedit
ecclesise Gloc: Sancti Petri, ecclesiam de Cowarne majore, cum tota decima illus parichiae..."
This charter, granting the
tithes of the parish church at Great Cowarne to the monastery of St Peter in Gloucester, does contain dating information:
"Rege Willielmo juniore concedente et confirmante secundo anno regni". The second year of the reign of King William
II was AD 1088.
As early as the year 1655, Roger
Dodsworth combined the texts of the two charters when he was compiling a list of donations to the Gloucester monastery.
His hybrid "charter" was listed under the heading "De Glasebury" although the portion which contained a date related to a
church in Great Cowarne, Herefordshire. By simply combining it with an undated charter relating to the church in Glasbury,
Dodsworth managed to "date" the latter. The first subsequent writer to buy into his sloppy work was Theophilius Jones
in his 1809 "History of Brecknock".