Up to now the Pridias boys were well known in the area in which they lived and had been so for many generations. The day Nicholas de Pridias Lord of Prideaux was born in 1135 on August 2nd, the day darkened over all lands. This was according to the Anglo Saxon Chronicles which also tells us that the sun became as a three day moon, surrounded by stars. This was taken as a sign of impending doom and so it was as King Henry was killed a few weeks later.
All we really know about Nicholas, was that he was amerced [fined by the court] of half a mark in 1189 and again in 1195, both times for making false claims. He had however been paid half a mark by the Sheriff of Cornwall in 1182 when he travelled to London to go overseas with the King.
Because a great deal of money had to be raised in order to pay for the Kings jollies abroad, William de Wrotham was given the task of raising money from tin mining in Devon and Cornwall by Hubert Walter, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was appointed the First Lord Warden of the Stannaries on 20th November 1197.
These new laws meant that anyone connected with tin mining could only deal with the stannary courts and were exempt from parliament in London. This technically still applies, as the position has never been rescinded. A huge amount was raised from this reorganization of the tin miners and their industry in addition to other methods of taxation.
This a good place to list some of the holdings the Prideaux family had. These holdings were listed by Lake in 1284, but are relevant to backdate to the time of Nicholas and prior.
The ancient manor originally comprised Great and Little Prideaux, Lestoon, Levrean, Rosemullen, Trevanney, Trenince, and Ponts Mill in Luxulyan. Stenalees in St Austell, Grediow in Lanlivery, Biscovay in St Blazey, Carroget, Kilhalland, Rosegarth and Penpillick in Tywardreath. Gubbavean in St Issey, Nanscowe in St Breaock, and moieties in Golant, one of which was called Bakers.
According to some writings, Nicholas died leaving twin sons Richard and Hickadon. Hickadon has also been referred to as Herden.
The Prideauxs of Netherton state that Herden’s son was Sir Jeffery who was succeeded by Ralph who married the daughter of Sir William Bigbury. I will tell you a story about a future Sir William Bigbury in another chapter. I descend from Richard and so have only followed that line. That is lucky, as there is far more information about Richard than Herden.
The writings also state that Paganus built Prideaux Castle near Fowey. As discussed, the actual castle was only a fortified hill fort used against invasion and no separate castle was built. It cannot be known yet how much building took place upon the fort and if some sort of investigation takes place one day, we shall have a more complete view of what went on there. In the meantime we can only draw parallels with the excavation at Castle Dor.
The information above with regard to the Prideauxs at Netherton was taken from The Baronetage of England and the English Baronetage, where it was acknowledged that the Edmund Prideaux of Netherton became a baronet on 17th July 1622.
The Crusades and the cost of that took up most of Nicholas’s life. I wonder of he or any member of his family went there to join in the fight? During his lifetime, he had known about King Richard going to the Holy Land, then coming back and laying siege to Nottingham Castle to claim it back from his brother Prince John. Finally Richard was killed whilst fighting in France.
During the 1100’s and after the First Crusade, many pilgrims went to the Holy Land to see the holy sites and ended up being robbed and murdered. From the necessity of guarding these pilgrims grew the Knights Templar and all the history which went with that story. It is highly likely that Nicholas and his father would have known men who travelled to the Holy Land and others who joined the Templar, if they did not in fact go there themselves. Many stories from the Priory would entertain local people in respect of this news.
Although a large landowner and Lord, Nicholas and his family were under constant threat of taxes and fines and he would have had a great deal of concern about raising money. Complaints were useless and the fine line being trodden almost daily in order to keep ones family and lands safe, must have put a great strain on the man.
Nicholas died in 1200, leaving the next generation to worry about everything.
His eldest son Richard took the reins and launched into dealing with the knotty problem of farming the land.
More can be read about Nicholas in the story The Hanged Man in the book by A A Prideaux entitled Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.