On October 27th, 1379, Stephen Tredydan became Prior of Launceston Convent. During his priorate, namely, in January, 1399, he went, it is said, ‘with an armed force’ into Leskard (Liskeard), and rescued its vicar, who was under arrest, and took and carried away a book valued at thirteen and fourpence, and two cloths of the value of six and eightpence. The parishioners petitioned the King on the subject, and inquisition issued, and eventually a pardon was granted. The Prior’s interference on this occasion arose, no doubt, from his being patron of the living.
The following year , 1400, the parishioners of Liskeard, Linkinhorne (Lankynhorn), and Talland complained in Parliament that the Prior of Launceston had, on the ground of poverty of his Convent, obtained a Papal Bull for the extinction of those vicarages, and the complete appropriation of their revenues (A papal bull is a particular type of letters patent or charter issued by a Pope of the Catholic Church. It is named after the lead seal (bulla) that was appended to the end in order to authenticate it. In terms of content, the bull is simply the format in which a decree of the Pope appears. Any subject may be treated in a bull, and many were and are, including statutory decrees, episcopal appointments, dispensations, excommunications, apostolic constitutions, canonizations and convocations). The petitioners stated that the Convent had an annual income of one thousand pounds, which was enough for its fifteen Canons. The Pope revoked the bull on discovery of the facts.
By indenture dated September 4th, 1400, made between Stephen, the Prior of Launceston, and the Convent of the same place, on the one part, and Richard Cobbethorn, Mayor of the borough of Dounheved, and the Commonality of the same borough, of the other part, after reciting that strife and discord had arisen concerning divers liberties and franchises within the said borough of Dounheved, it was agreed as follows:
“That the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty shal have for themselves and their successors, and shall exclusively enjoy, the liberty or franchise of the same Borough on the Eastern part of Harperys Lake, descending by the same Lake as it was wont to run of old by the garden of the Prior, as far as Sextonshaye, and so by the middle thereof even to the Fulling Mill, on the west part of the same mill, and thence to the water of Kensi on the west part of the Chapel of St. James, without any hindrance or disturbance of the aforesaid Prior and Convents, saving always to the aforesaid Prior and Convent and their successors a certain fair called Waterfeire (This being the first mention of a Water Fair held by the Kensey), with all its profits and emoluments, as they were accustomed to have of old, without impediment or hindrance of the aforesaid Mayor and Commonality ratify and by these presents confirm the estate of the aforesaid Prior and Convent and their successors, of and in all steps, porchys, and stoorys of the building or linhay (wool-store?) In their tenements with the liberty aforesaid in Vastehaye, and also of and in all mesuages, tofts, lands, tenements, rents, and other acquisitions by the aforesaid Prior and Convent and their successors, or of John Tregorrek and others, whosoever, within the liberty aforesaid, which are held of the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty, saving all things which anciently belonged to the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty of the aforesaid lands and tenements. And the aforesaid Mayor and Commonalty shall not have, nor claim to have, road or passage by Sextonshayes to the Church of St. Thomas, near the Priory aforesaid, that is to say, they by these presents relinquish forever the bottom road or way to the aforesaid Prior and Convent.”
The witnesses to this indenture were Thomas Kelly of Kelly, Thomas Polsa, Stephen Bant, Richard Reprynne, John Treludek, and others. And the conventual seal in red was is appended.
In their book ‘Histories of Launceston and Dunheved,’ Richard and Otho Peter judged that Harpers’s ‘Lake’ was the stream descending from Chapel (St. John’s Chapel) to ‘Maiden’s Well, ‘ near the head of Wooda Lane (opposite Priory Cottages), and flowing thence, in nearly its present channel, to the river Kensey at St. Thomas. The Prior’s garden they alluded to possibly being a portion of Mr. Troods orchards (which was possibly where the new houses of Troodsmill are now built). The Sextonshaye they alluded to have been part of the St. Thomas Churchyard. The mill was distinct from what they then knew as the Town Mills. It evidently stood near to the place where the old bone mill, between Mr. Hender’s wool-house and Mr. Burt’s yard.
The water after passing that mill, united with the Kensey not far from where it still enters the river. They concluded that the Chapel of St. James must therefore have been on the Dunheved side of the streamlet called ‘Harper’s Lake,’ and to have occupied part at least of what is now Campbell House, near to St. Thomas Bridge, on the left hand side coming down from the town.
The monks had apparently been charged by the Mayor and Commonalty with having made some encroachments on a piece of waste (waste-haye) adjoining the conventual buildings. It was part of the compromise that these encroachments should be forgiven, and the Prior’s right to retain his steps, and porches. The Peter’s suggested that the waste abutted upon ‘Harper’s Lake,’ and that it was immediately above St. Jame’s Chapel.
The Water-fair clearly yielded some pecuniary benefit to the Convent. This fair included amusements and diversions on the broad piece of water which, even then, occupied the river bed above the existing footbridge at St. Thomas (Prior’s Bridge). In Norman French the word ‘feire’ indicated places in which the wakes or feasts of dedication of churches were held.
‘Harper’s Lake,’ flowing into the Kensey on the south, above St. Thomas Bridge, has its exact correlative in Kensey Lake, descending through the valley by Roydon and ‘Horwell Villas.’ Flowing into the same river Kensey on the north, immediately below the same bridge. In Cornwall the word ‘lake’ always denoted such streamlets as these.
On December 12th, 1403, the aggressive Stephen Tredydan died Prior, and according to ‘Leland’ ‘was richly tumbed.’ He was succeeded by Roger Combrigg, who died on June 18th, 1410.