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  • Michael de Baskervile, Last Preceptor of the London Temple, 1310s

    Michael de Baskervile was recorded as the Preceptor (something like a chief administrator and estate manager) of the New Temple of the Order of the Knights Templar in Fleet Street, London in 1303 and again at the suppression of the Order in 1308. At the time of the Suppression, ordered by Pope Clement V and enforced in England and Wales by a reluctant King Edward II, a seal of the Preceptor was described as "dark green, a crescent inclosing a cross formy fitchy; below, a lion passant of England, and between two stars; legend S' Preceptor' Mili--- T---." (Page, London: 488-491).

    Read, in his study of the Knights Templar, notes that the knights were not allowed to use their family arms, and the design certainly bears no resemblance to any of the variations of the Baskerville arms. It is likely to be a corporate seal of office, with the charges on the seal suggesting the Order's role in providing military support for the recovery of Jerusalem and the Holy Land from Muslim control - a role that officially ended with the suppression of the Order across Europe on the (never proven) grounds of heresy, sodomy, sorcery and avarice between 1307 and 1314.

    References and reading

    • Page, W. (Ed), The Victoria History of London, including London Within the Bars, Westminster & Southwark, Volume 1, University of London, Institute for Historical Research, London 1909/1974: 488-491.
    • Read, Piers Paul, The Templars: the dramatic history of the Knights Templar, the most powerful military order of the crusades, Phoenix Press, London 1999/2004.