Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux – 1070 -1122

Richard de Pridias Lord of Prideaux lived between 1070 and 1122.

The documentation negotiated by Richard Pridias, shows how involved the family swiftly became with the Normans. The Priory was built within five years of the agreed documentation, so it can be assumed that both Richard and Baldwin were instrumental in the completion of the building. It was to be another priory connected to SS Sergius and Bacchus of Angers. Tywardreath was one of eight monasteries in Cornwall, which were maintained outside of Cornwall.
Richard Pridias had seen many changes in the county of Cornwall. The people were exploited by their new masters and their meagre resources taken and used elsewhere. I hope the unique good humour of the Cornish helped them cope.
William Mortain the son of Robert, received two thirds of the county, but he was not happy with that and constantly stole lands from the church and others. William Mortain then married the daughter of Turstin, the builder of Restormel, whose male line had failed. Richard Fitz Torold was steward to Robert and ruled vast swathes of land around Bodmin.
Turstin ruled over the areas around the Pridias family near Lostwithiel. Robert Mortain systematically took from the county, making values drop hugely in the 20 years between invasion and Domesday and left Cornwall the poorest county in the country at this time. Robert Mortain died in 1090 after rebelling against William Rufus.
After the death of his father, William Mortain demanded the Earldom of Kent in addition to Cornwall. When this was refused he rose with Robert, Duke of Normandy against the King. This attempt failed and William was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment and his eyes to be put out. Apparently due to a miracle he was freed and he became a monk at Bermonsdey and died there in 1140. Henry I then took the Earldom of Cornwall for himself.
Henry I was on the throne when Richard died. He was a king who had already reorganised the judicial system and method of raising taxes. He created the Curia Regis [Lion of Justice] from which all government institutions evolved. Members of the Curea Regis were sent out and tax was imposed on even the very poor. These people then resorted to eating horses, dogs and herbs.
The king had decided a few years previous that all land was his and all the animals within it. He decreed that the manors could punish those who broke his rules and these punishments were wicked.
This time was grim. People lived in houses in the forest reminiscent of mud huts. Filth, poverty and disease made this place terrible to survive in. Traveling along the narrow uneven tracks through the wood meant taking ones life in ones hands. Penalties for theft were so horrifying, that an offender was much more likely to kill than just to rob. Hung for a sheep as a lamb as the saying goes.
Richard de Pridias died leaving Baldwin his heir and by now the lands were referred to as the manor of Pridias. This meant that the Pridias family had authority over the lives and conduct of the inhabitants of that manor. It was a Norman given right to do what the family had been doing before. Richard, I expect was a tough master in order to keep control of the lands.
I hope he wasn’t cruel.
It is also important to note that no documents of this time refer to the family as Prideaux.


More can be read about Richard de Pridias in ‘The Pattern of One‘ in the  book by A A Prideaux, Cornish Prideaux Ghost Stories.