Houses of Cistercian monks
The abbey of Combermere

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Victoria County History

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C R Elrington, B E Harris (Editors), A P Baggs, Ann J Kettle, S J Lander, A T Thacker, David Wardle

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1980

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150-156

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'Houses of Cistercian monks: The abbey of Combermere', A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3 (1980), pp. 150-156. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=39977 Date accessed: 25 October 2014.


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HOUSES OF CISTERCIAN MONKS

THE ABBEY OF COMBERMERE

The Savignac abbey at Combermere, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Michael, was founded in 1133 (fn. 1) by Hugh Malbank, second baron of Wich Malbank, whose father had founded the hospital of St. Nicholas in Nantwich. (fn. 2) The foundation charter was witnessed by Ranulph II, earl of Chester, whom Malbank wished to be regarded as the principal founder and protector of the new abbey and to participate with his heirs in its spiritual benefits, and by Roger de Clinton, bishop of Coventry, (fn. 3) who himself founded another Savignac house at Buildwas (Salop.) two years later. (fn. 4) Hugh Malbank gave for the construction of the house a wooded site on a mere at the extreme southern edge of Cheshire and most of the lands acquired by the house, at its foundation or later, were within a few miles of Combermere, on the boundaries of Cheshire, Shropshire, and Staffordshire. In addition to the site Hugh Malbank donated land nearby which he said he had perambulated: the manor of Wilkesley, the vills of Royal and Lodmore and adjacent land at Burleydam, the vill of Dodcott and its wood, the mill at Chorley with its pool and fishery, and the woods of 'Brendewood', 'Light Birchewood' and Butterley Heys. He also gave the churches of Sandon and Alstonfield in Staffordshire and the neighbouring church of Acton with its chapel of Nantwich; also a quarter of Nantwich with the tithe of his salt and salt pans there and a supply of salt for the monks. They were also to have their own court, common pasture in his woods, pastures throughout Cheshire with the right to take timber for building and firewood except in his forest of Coole, and free passage throughout his lands. (fn. 5) The charter was witnessed by Malbank's son, William, who later confirmed his father's gifts and added further land in Wilkesley, with Ditchley and the mill of 'Chelyleye' (Brooks Mill) (fn. 6) in the same area. (fn. 7) At its foundation, or soon after, the house received further land from the friends and associates of Hugh Malbank: William FitzAlan, who was also a benefactor of Buildwas Abbey, gave Dodecote in Childs Ercall (Salop.) probably before his exile in 1138; (fn. 8) Robert de Ferrers, earl of Derby, a noted monastic benefactor, gave, with his son William, land at Newton in Ashbourne and Cotes in Hartington (both Derb.); (fn. 9) Ivo Pantulf and his son Brice gave Broomhall, 'Shipford' (Shifford's Grange) and 'Clive' (Cliff Grange in Sutton) on the borders of Staffordshire and Shropshire; (fn. 10) William FitzRanulph of Whitchurch (Salop.) gave land adjoining that of William Malbank at Brankelow near Combermere. (fn. 11) Richard Peche, bishop of Coventry (1161-82) licensed the appropriation of the churches of Sandon, Alstonfield and Acton with its chapels, probably in the early 1180s after the initial endowments to establish the house had ceased. (fn. 12) In the first half of the 13th century further but smaller benefactions were received and the abbey also increased its lands near Combermere by gifts, purchases, and leases. Ranulph III, earl of Chester, during whose minority alms of £2 a year had been paid to the monks of Combermere, gave land at Wincle in his forest of Macclesfield to establish a grange with pasture for a specified number of sheep, cattle, horses, and mares and he, or possibly his grandfather, gave the monks the right to a fishing boat on the Dee at Chester. (fn. 13) Roger, lord of Ightfield (Salop.) relinquished his claim to Threapwood which bordered on Wilkesley and also gave land in Ightfield and half of the church there, a grant only partially effective. (fn. 14) Gilbert de Macclesfield and James de Audley made grants in Baddiley and Newhall (fn. 15) and Robert de Baskerville added land at Aston in Stone and Yarlet to the house's Staffordshire estates. (fn. 16) The abbey increased its Shropshire holdings by buying the manor of Chesthill in Moreton Say from Richard de Chesthull (fn. 17) and leasing the manor of Drayton in Hales from the abbey of Saint-Evroul (Orne). (fn. 18)

The abbey's first century was apparently marked by moderate success and expansion, to judge by the number of its filiations and the activities of its abbots. Within twenty years of its foundation a daughter house had been established by William, first abbot of Combermere, at Poulton on a site provided by Robert the Butler. It was moved to Dieulacres (Staffs.) in 1214. (fn. 19) An attempt at the same period by the abbey to settle monks at Church Preen in Shropshire was less successful; the prior of Wenlock was accused of expelling the monks and carrying off their livestock and all their goods, and Combermere failed to maintain its claim, in spite of the intervention of Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 20) In 1154 the daughter houses of Combermere allegedly included not only Poulton but also the abbeys of St. Mary's, Dublin, and Basingwerk (Flints.); in 1156, however, St. Mary's was assigned as a daughter house to Buildwas abbey by the General Chapter of the Cistercian order and the filiation of Basingwerk was similarly changed in 1157. (fn. 21) in 1178 Combermere acquired a new daughter house when John the Constable founded Stanlow probably with Combermere monks; relations between the two houses remained close, if not always harmonious, even after the convent of Stanlow was transferred to Whalley in Lancashire. (fn. 22) In 1219 another daughter house of Combermere was founded by Henry de Audley at Hulton in Staffordshire. (fn. 23) Relations between religious houses in the same region were not always friendly; between 1191 and 1252 the abbots of Combermere were involved in disputes with the abbots of Merevale (Warws.), Croxden (Staffs.), Dieulacres (Staffs.), and Buildwas (Salop.) (fn. 24) and are also found visiting other Cistercian houses or arbitrating in their quarrels, particularly those between Welsh houses. (fn. 25) In 1220 the abbot of Combermere was denounced to the General Chapter for building against orders; (fn. 26) that is the only surviving reference to the building of the abbey although between 1266 and 1271 Robert, a lay brother of Combermere, was keeper of the works for Henry III and c. 1300 another monk, Thomas the Plumber, was paid for work on Chester and Beeston castles. (fn. 27) During the 13th century the abbey was much involved, as were most religious houses, in litigation over its estates, often with the heirs of the original benefactors or their under-tenants. (fn. 28) In 1237 the abbot and convent sold their land at Tillington (Staffs.) to Richard de Draycot, justice of Chester, for 40 marks and some years later they exchanged their tithes in Worleston for those owned by Chester abbey in Austerson, Baddington, and Broomhall. (fn. 29) In 1245 they were granted a market and fair on their manor of Drayton, after a royal visit to Combermere. (fn. 30) Granges were established at Dodcott, Ditchley, Smeaton, and Heyfields (in Wilkesley) and at Wincle, Shifford, Cliff, Chesthill, Newton, and Yarlet; (fn. 31) there is some evidence of the abbey's involvement in sheep-farming and wool production though little indication of scale or success. In the mid 13th century the abbey was leasing pasture for 300 sheep a year in Hartington (Derb.) and in 1253 it secured the privilege that its sheep should not be distrained for debt so long as there were other goods available. (fn. 32) About 1300 Combermere was selling its wool at Boston (Lincs.) fair and also producing it for sale abroad, though not on the same scale as neighbouring Cistercian houses (fn. 33) and in 1313 the abbot acknowledged that his house owed eleven sacks of wool to John Wyndeloke, merchant of Ypres. (fn. 34)

Such evidence of routine activity but faintly indicates that the abbey was entering a long financial crisis in the mid 13th century. Little appears to have been amiss in 1231 when Abbot Stephen of Lexington visited the English filiations of Savigny; Combermere received statutes regulating internal discipline identical to those issued to Buildwas, Byland (Yorks. N.R.), and Quarr (I.W.) abbeys and nothing was singled out for special censure. (fn. 35) By 1275, however, the abbey had fallen heavily into debt: the sheriff of Shropshire was ordered to respite all demands for taxes and Robert Burnell, bishop of Bath and Wells, was given custody of the abbey during pleasure. (fn. 36) In 1276 it was taken into royal protection for a year, extended to two in 1277. (fn. 37) In 1281 sinister reports reached the General Chapter of the Cistercian order about the abbot's behaviour and he was ordered to submit to the authority of the Chapter. (fn. 38) The reports doubtless concerned the violent quarrel between Combermere and Saint-Évroul over the advowson of Drayton during which the abbot and six of his fellow monks prevented the archbishop of Canterbury entering Drayton church; he complained that they defended it like a castle and put them under a sentence of excommunication and interdict. (fn. 39) In 1283 the monks were excused from contributing victuals for the Welsh campaign as they had insufficient food for their own needs and the abbey was again taken into custody; its custodians were ordered to apply its revenues to the payment of its debts, after allowing the abbot and convent reasonable maintenance. (fn. 40) Bishop Burnell paid £213 6s. 8d. to help relieve the financial problems of the house and acquired in exchange its lands in Monks Coppenhall. (fn. 41) Matters had not improved by the beginning of the 14th century when there is evidence not only of the impoverished state of the abbey but also of the involvement of its members in local disorder. In March 1309 Richard of Fullshurst and others of Nantwich assaulted the abbot in the town, killed the prior, burnt the abbey's houses, and carried off goods worth £200. On the complaint of the abbot a commission of oyer and terminer was appointed to deal with the incident but while the case was still pending Fullshurst and his accomplices broke into the abbot's house, attacked him and his servants, killed three of his horses, and stole £60. Fullshurst evidently appealed to the abbot of Savigny who appointed visitors to investigate accusations against the abbot; Edward II asked the visitors to desist in their attempts to remove the abbot and annul his complaint to the royal commissioners, especially as the abbot could not return to the abbey because of the ambushes laid by his opponents. (fn. 42) The final outcome of this four-sided dispute is not known but it may have inaugurated a long-lasting feud as the abbot of Combermere was accused in 1360 of leading an attack on the property of Sir Robert Fullshurst. (fn. 43) Attempts by the commissioners of the abbot of Savigny to deal with such local disputes seem to have been singularly ineffective: in 1344 the General Chapter heard that visitors had been terrorized by armed men into removing the abbot from his office and that the abbots of Combermere and Whalley (Lancs.) had been attacked while visiting Hulton (Staffs.). (fn. 44) In 1365 the abbot of Combermere attempted to depose the abbot of Whalley and for a while held Whalley against the sheriff and the posse comitatus. (fn. 45)

The financial problems of Combermere had exacerbated relations with its daughter house of Whalley. The mother house had the duty of partitioning contributions imposed by the General Chapter among its generation and in 1318 the abbot of Whalley complained that his house had been required by the abbot of Combermere to pay as much as the combined contributions of Combermere, Dieulacres, and Hulton towards a levy of £212. In the investigations which followed the annual revenues of Combermere were estimated at £130 14s. 11d. (fn. 46) In 1314 the abbot had leased Cotes Grange for 28 years to the abbot of Burton in return for the discharge of a debt of over £800 (fn. 47) and in the following year the Crown once again took the abbey into custody 'on account of its poverty and miserable state'. The keepers were ordered, once reasonable allowance had been made to maintain the abbot and convent, to use the revenues to meet debts and repair the buildings on the advice of some of the 'more discreet' of the house; during the period of custody no royal official, or any other outsider, was to be lodged in the abbey without the keepers' permission. The abbey was still in custody in 1321 when the royal protection was renewed. (fn. 48) In 1328 the abbot and convent petitioned the king for sufficient resources to maintain hospitality and complained that their poverty was due to the previous abbot's mismanagement; in response Combermere was taken into royal custody yet again and the custodians were ordered to advise the abbot on using the revenues of the house to meet its debts. (fn. 49) Although the custody order contained the usual provision that no one was to lodge in the abbey or on its manors or to take away any of its goods without the custodians' consent, it may not have been very effective since several of the abbey's charters seem to have been 'improved' at that time in preparation for confirmation in 1331; most of the embellishments concerned the exclusion of officials from the estates of the house. (fn. 50) In their petition for royal help the abbot and convent attributed their poverty to the policy of leasing out lands and it seems that from c. 1300 many of the community's estates had been leased, sometimes on disadvantageous terms. The manor of Chesthill was leased from 1305 with rents paid in a combination of crops and cash; in 1325 it was leased for 26 years with the lessee obliged to find hospitality for the monks but in 1334 it was assigned to the canons of Haughmond (Salop.) for 29 years, possibly as security for debts owed by Combermere. (fn. 51) The leasing of estates continued in the mid 14th century (fn. 52) and so did the financial problems of the house. (fn. 53) In 1335 the abbey was licensed to appropriate Childs Ercall church (fn. 54) and in 1355 it acquired the advowson of Baddiley from William de Praers in exchange for Baddiley Grange. (fn. 55) William de Praers had also farmed Wincle Grange but in 1354 the lease was taken over by the Black Prince and the grange restored to the abbot and convent on condition that they worked it themselves. (fn. 56) Royal assistance was not obtained without cost: the abbey contributed to the expenses of the marriage of the king's sister in 1333 and lent money for the French expedition in 1347; (fn. 57) in 1359 the Black Prince asked for the office of porter for one of his servants; (fn. 58) the abbey was asked to provide a corrody for a royal pensioner in 1312 and another for a dependant of the Black Prince in 1362. (fn. 59) The last request, and the corrodian's behaviour, caused the community some concern. Although they sought an assurance that it would not be repeated, that assurance was disregarded in 1386 when Richard II nominated a replacement. (fn. 60)

There were ten monks, including the abbot, at Combermere in 1379 and 1381. (fn. 61) The house was under royal protection, but not in custody, in 1383 when it successfully defended its right to the appropriation of Acton, Sandon, and Alstonfield churches against the bishop's commissary. (fn. 62) There were problems of internal discipline: in 1385 one of the monks was accused of stealing from the abbot and in the following year the General Chapter sought the help of royal officials in arresting the same monk who was said to be vagabond, apostate and obdurate. (fn. 63) By 1410 the abbey was once more so heavily in debt that it was said that the monks would have nothing left to live on if they satisfied their creditors. In 1414 the abbot was accused of counterfeiting gold coins. The debts were blamed on the bad administration of former abbots who had sold too much timber and allowed the buildings to become so dilapidated that it would cost £1,000 to repair them. In 1412 Henry, prince of Wales, took the abbey into his own hands and entrusted it to the chamberlain and escheator of Chester; in the following year three more palatinate officials were appointed to administer the estates of the house to relieve its members. (fn. 64) In 1416 Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, the chamberlain, and the escheator were given the custody of the abbey. (fn. 65) In the following year Roger Hoggeson of Holyhurst and Richard Tenche of Lodmore were accused of holding the abbey by force against the orders of the king and the will of the abbot, attacking royal officials, and carrying off into Shropshire the goods of the abbey, including four Bibles, three large volumes of the 'Psalters of St. Augustine' and 'books of St. Gregory and St. Bernard', stolen from the library and valued at £100. They were also accused of stealing and using the abbey's common seal. Hoggeson and Tenche were acquitted but the facts that Hoggeson and one of the monks were later outlawed at the suit of the king and that the abbot was removed indicate internal feuds during the period of custody. (fn. 66) The troubles of the house evidently continued although there were no further royal attempts to deal with its financial problems before the dissolution. In 1435 John Kingesley, one of the abbey's tenants in Nantwich, was accused of extorting money from the abbot for many years and, more seriously, Abbot Richard Alderwas was killed by a labourer at Dodcott in 1446. (fn. 67) In 1496 the house was exempted from clerical taxation on the grounds of poverty. (fn. 68) Property in the abbey's quarter of Nantwich was leased out at low rents for periods of 99 or 101 years during the later 15th century and although the length of leases of that and other property was reduced in the early 16th century, there is no other sign of increased efficiency or changes in policy. (fn. 69)

Combermere's reputation for indiscipline and involvement in local disorder continued until the dissolution. In 1520 one of the abbot's servants murdered one of the monks and it was alleged by the dead man's brother that the prior refused to make the murder public, 'saying, "This abbey is already in an evil name for using of misrule"'; all concerned were sworn to secrecy and the murderer was concealed in the abbey for more than six months. (fn. 70) In 1528 the abbot's behaviour was reported to Thomas Cromwell and he was warned of the danger to the monastery if a 'discreet head' was not soon put in charge. (fn. 71) A rather different picture of the state of the monastery in its last years is provided by the chance survival of the letter book of Robert Joseph, a monk of Evesham Abbey. Between late 1530 and early 1532 Joseph conducted a lengthy and affectionate correspondence with Humphrey Chester, a monk of Combermere, thanks to the services of an itinerant fishmonger (volitans piscivendulus). (fn. 72) Chester had several friends at Evesham, apart from Joseph, with whom he exchanged books, small gifts, and visits, and one of his brothers was a scholar in the Evesham almonry before becoming a secular priest. Chester, who emerges from the correspondence as a monk with a reputation for virtue, piety, and charity, was evidently an avid reader of the scriptures, going 'hither and thither among the flowers of scripture like a bee'; although he was ashamed that he could only write to Joseph in the vernacular, he could evidently understand Joseph's complex Latin. There are some references in Joseph's letters which might indicate Chester's concern at the state of his house: Joseph was glad that his friend was not embittered by misfortune and, in February 1532, rejoiced that Chester now led a quiet life with only one adversary sent to exercise his virtue. (fn. 73)

The returns of 1535 show that the abbey had a gross income of £258 6s. 6d. That suggests that the successive financial crises were caused by mismanagement rather than insufficient endowment. Income from temporal possessions amounted to £181 2s. 10d. and from spiritualities to £77 3s. 8d. (fn. 74) The valuation was probably reasonably accurate since after the dissolution the total revenues were estimated at £268 8s. 4½d. (fn. 75) The net income in 1535 was £225 9s. 7d. after disbursements which included £12 13s. 4d. for alms distributed annually, fees to the steward, an auditor, and bailiffs in Alstonfield and Newton, Nantwich, Drayton, and Wilkesley, and £5 19s. 9d. for rents. (fn. 76) The royal visitors in 1536 found that the debts of the house amounted to £160. (fn. 77) At that period most of the abbey's estates were leased out for long terms, and several such were made within a few months of the surrender. (fn. 78) The abbot displeased Thomas Cromwell, who had requested the lease of the parsonage of Childs Ercall for one of his servants, when he had to explain that the lease had already been granted to a servant of the earl of Shrewsbury, the abbey's steward for 40 years. (fn. 79) In May 1538 the abbot was summoned to London to surrender the monastery; he wrote to Cromwell that, although he had received his office from the king and Cromwell and was willing to give it up when it pleased them, he hoped that he and his brethren might be allowed to continue in the monastery. (fn. 80) Although the abbot went to London armed with a letter from Bishop Rowland Lee, President of the Council of the Welsh Marches, commending him 'for his gentle entertainment of me and others of the council', the abbey was surrendered on 27 July 1538. (fn. 81) Thirteen monks, including the abbot, signed the deed of surrender and were awarded pensions. (fn. 82) No inventory of the contents of the abbey, apart from a list of bedding and kitchen utensils, (fn. 83) survives. After they passed to the Crown (fn. 84) the possessions of the abbey consisted of in Cheshire: the manor of Wilkesley, with land in Heyfields, Dodcott, Ditchley, and Lodmore; land and rents in Poole and Nantwich (including salt houses); Wincle Grange; the appropriated church of Acton with its chapels of Wrenbury, Church Minshull, and Nantwich and tithes in Audlem, Aston, and Leighton parishes; in Shropshire: the manor of Drayton, Cliff, Shifford's and Chesthill Granges, lands and rents at Dodecote, Ternhill, Longford and Wollerton and the appropriated church of Childs Ercall; in Staffordshire: Yarlet Grange and the appropriated churches of Sandon and Alstonfield; in Derbyshire: Cotes and Newton Granges. In addition pensions were received from the churches of Ightfield, Great Bolas and Draycott and from Dieulacres abbey, Chester priory and the Carmelites of Chester. In August 1539 the monastery, with the church, steeple, and graveyard, and its lands were granted to George Cotton, an esquire of the body, and his wife. (fn. 85) A house was built by the Cottons on the site. (fn. 86) The abbey buildings lay on a level terrace on a south-facing hill-slope. The claustral buildings were south of the church and the surviving portions, which are now incorporated in the house, are the south cloister and adjacent rooms, including those at the south-west corner which were probably kitchens, and a short length of the east range. The decoratively timberframed upper storey of the south range includes in its eastern part the late medieval refectory which has a hammer-beam roof with the arms of the abbey on each main spandrel. Abutting the east end of the south side of the refectory a smaller room may have been the misericord.

Abbots

William, the first abbot, occurs at some time between 1146 and 1153. (fn. 87)

Geoffrey, occurs at some time between 1149-50 and 1155. (fn. 88)

Walter, occurs at some time between c. 1162 and 1167. (fn. 89)

John, occurs between c. 1172 and c. 1190. (fn. 90)

Thomas de Gillyng, occurs between 1200 and 1228. (fn. 91)

Robert, occurs at some time between 1230 and 1232. (fn. 92)

Richard, occurs 1237. (fn. 93)

Simon, occurs between c. 1237 and 1245. (fn. 94)

William de Waresley, occurs 1256. (fn. 95)

Richard, occurs 1279. (fn. 96)

Adam, occurs between 1289 and 1300. (fn. 97)

William of Leigh, occurs 1305, 1306. (fn. 98)

Robert, occurs 1310. (fn. 99)

Richard of Rudyard, died 1316. (fn. 100)

Adam, occurs 1320. (fn. 101)

Nicholas of Tugby, occurs between 1324 and 1338. (fn. 102)

Roger Lyndley, occurs between 1339 and 1344, dead by 1348. (fn. 103)

John, occurs 1355. (fn. 104)

Richard Chester, occurs 1365. (fn. 105)

John, occurs 1379. (fn. 106)

Robert Colwich, occurs between 1380 and 1387-8. (fn. 107)

Thomas Bernewell, or Lymnor, occurs between 1398 and 1411. (fn. 108)

William Plymouth, occurs from 1412, resigned or removed by 1418. (fn. 109)

Thomas Fynyon, occurs 1418. (fn. 110)

William Plymouth, occurs between 1420 and 1442. (fn. 111)

Roger, occurs 1444. (fn. 112)

Richard Alderwas, died 1446. (fn. 113)

Thomas Rigley, died between 1442 and 1453. (fn. 114)

Roger Plymouth, occurs between 1450 and 1462. (fn. 115)

John, occurs between 1464 and 1468. (fn. 116)

Robert Christleton, occurs between 1469 and 1491. (fn. 117)

John, occurs between 1498 and 1516. (fn. 118)

Christopher Walley, occurs between 1518 and 1529. (fn. 119)

John Massey, occurs 1535, surrendered the abbey in 1538. (fn. 120)

A common seal in use in 1482 (fn. 121) is circular, 15/8 in. in diameter, and depicts an abbot with a pastoral staff in his right hand and a book in his left hand; in the field on either side are three heads couped at the neck and a fleur-de-lis with a pierced mullet over that on the right. Legend, lombardic: SIG . . . CO . . . E S. . . MAR. . . DE COMBEREMERE.

The bronze matrix (fn. 122) of the seal of an early-15thcentury abbot, a pointed oval 2 by 1¼ in., depicts the Virgin crowned with the Child on her left arm standing under a canopy with niches and pinnacles at the sides. In the base, under a pointed arch and between two sprigs of foliage is the half-figure of the abbot in prayer. Legend, black-letter with the words separated by sprigs: SIGILLUM THOME FYNYON ABBATIS DE CUMBERMERE.

Footnotes

1 This date of foundation is given in Ann. Cestr. 21 and in the Dieulacres (Staffs.) chron. (3 Sheaf, lii, p. 19) and is accepted by L. Janauschek, Origines Cisterciensium, i. 100.
2 Below, hospital of St. Nicholas.
3 The charter survives only as a copy: B.L. Cotton Faustina B. viii, f. 125v.; Dugdale, Mon. v. 323–4. Its contents are not suspect, although there are doubts about the authenticity of some of the Combermere charters: Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 2; 3 Sheaf, xvi, p. 27; below.
4 V.C.H. Salop. ii. 51.
5 Dugdale, Mon. v. 323–4.
6 P.N. Ches. iii. 95.
7 B.L. Harl. MS. 3868, ff. 6v.–7.
8 Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 428; V.C.H. Salop. ii. 51.
9 Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 428; 1327–41, 204; Complete Peerage, iv. 191–2. The abbot later purchased extensive pasture rights from Wm. de Ferrers: 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 59.
10 Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 428; 1327–41, 204; Liber Niger Scaccarii, Staffordscira, (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] i), 227; R. W. Eyton, Antiquities of Salop. viii. 52.
11 Dugdale, Mon. v. 326; 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 9; Eyton, Salop. x. 18.
12 B.L. Harl. MS. 3868, ff. 6v.–7; Dugdale, Mon. v. 326. A charter of Ranulph III dated 1230 names Nantwich, Wrenbury, and Church Minshull as chapels of Acton: Shrewsbury Public Libr. Deed 96.
13 Ches. in Pipe R. 6, 8, 12, 14, 16, 18; B.L. Add. Ch. 15771. The right to a boat on the Dee which, together with the pasture rights at Wincle, was claimed in 1499 (3 Sheaf, xxx, p. 17) was confirmed as the gift of Earl Ranulph by Hen. III in 1253; he also confirmed all the gifts, alms, and liberties granted to the monks by Ranulph II, Hugh II, and Ranulph III: Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 428. Grants of fishing rights in the Dee by the lords of Bromfield and Overton (Salop.) appear only in a 1331 confirmation of a spurious charter of confirmation by Edw. I and are themselves highly suspect in form: Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 205.
14 Dugdale, Mon. v. 326; Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 204; Cur. Reg. R. xiii, p. 177; P.N. Ches. iii. 94; 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 25; Eyton, Salop. ix. 211–12. In 1291 the abbey was receiving a pension of 2s. from Ightfield church: Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 245.
15 3 Sheaf, xx, pp. 57–8; xxviii, pp. 16, 18.
16 Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 428; Hist. Pirehill Hundred (Collns. Hist. Staffs. N.S. xii), 114; Cur. Reg. R. x, p. 292; xi, pp. 120, 127; Wm. Salt Libr., Stafford, S.D. Salt, 17.
17 Eyton, Salop. viii. 201–4; Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 152.
18 Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 204; Eyton, Salop. ix. 185–7.
19 Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 1; V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 230. Barraclough (Early Ches. Charts. 2–3) dates the foundation charter to 1146 but others favour 1153: ibid. 2; V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 230, 231n.
20 Letters and Charters of Gilbert Foliot, ed. A. Morey and C. N. L. Brooke, 152–3; V.C.H. Salop. ii. 19, 38.
21 E. Martène and V. Durand, Thesaurus Novus Anecdotorum (1717), i. 433–4; V.C.H. Salop. ii. 51.
22 Whalley Coucher Bk. i (Chetham Soc. [1st ser.] x), 5; Janauschek, Origines Cisterciensium, i. 100; T. D. Whitaker, Hist. Whalley (4th edn.), i. 90n., 122n.; V.C.H. Lancs. ii. 131; below.
23 V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 235.
24 J. Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium Ordinis Cisterciensis 1116–1786, i. 137, 153, 527; ii. 241, 333. For disputes in 1233 and 1252 over vicinitas grangiorum with the abbeys of Buildwas and Dieulacres see also V.C.H. Salop. ii. 52n.; Staffs. iii. 232.
25 Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, i. 239, 281, 364, 446; ii. 46, 119, 199, 382. In 1242 the abbot and convent arbitrated in a quarrel between Hulton Abbey and Trentham Priory: Trentham Chart. (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] xi), 314–15.
26 Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, i. 527.
27 3 Sheaf, viii, p. 11; Ches. Chamb. Accts. 42, 44; Building Accounts of Hen. III, ed. H. M. Colvin, 420, 422, 426, 428.
28 Cur. Reg. R. i, p. 454; x, p. 292; xi, pp. 120, 127; Wm. Salt Libr., Stafford, S.D. Salt, 17; S.D. Cooke, 2; Staffs. Plea Rolls (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] iv(1)), 93, 107, 240; Cal. Final Concords (Collns. Hist. Staffs. 1911), 52; Eyton, Salop. viii, 12–14; ix. 211–12; x. 20–1.
29 Staffs. R. O., D.(W.) 1721/1/1, ff. 29, 33; Cart. Chester Abbey, ii, pp. 285–6.
30 Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 289; Close R. 1242–7, 368. This grant was 'improved' by the addition of other privileges in 1331 (Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 203) and a spurious charter of 1282 granting judicial rights in the manor of Drayton was confirmed in 1429 and 1478: Cal. Pat. 1422–9, 535–6; 1476–85, 114.
31 Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 252, 258, 261, 263; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.) v. 216; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv(2), p. 33; Cal. Chester. Co. Ct. R. 68; P.R.O., SC 8/99/4918; 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 18.
32 3 Sheaf, xx, p. 44; xxviii, p. 59; Rydeware Chart. (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] xvi), 257; Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 427.
33 Cal. Chanc. R. Var. 272; W. Cunningham, Growth of Eng. Industry and Commerce (5th edn.), i. 632; V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 227.
34 Cal. Close, 1313–18, 68.
35 V.C.H. Salop. ii. 54.
36 Cal. Close, 1272–9, 146; Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 103.
37 Cal. Pat. 1272–81, 170, 247.
38 Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iii. 216. The abbot went 'beyond seas', presumably to attend the General Chapter, in 1282: Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 29.
39 Reg. Pecham (Cant. & York Soc.), i. 147, 175–6; ii. 180; Reg. Epist. J. Peckham (Rolls Ser.), ii. 427, 429, 432–3; Eyton, Salop. ix. 189–90.
40 Cal. Chanc. R. Var. 264–5; Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 78.
41 Ormerod, Hist. Ches. iii. 328. The land in Monks Coppenhall had been given before c. 1275–8 by John Mere and his wife, the dau. of Brice of Leighton (ibid.). For other transactions with the Burnell fam. at this period see Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 72; 1292–1301, 142; Cal. Chart. R. 1257–1300, 338.
42 Cal. Pat. 1307–13, 128, 170–1; Cal. Close, 1307–13, 157.
43 Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 383–4.
44 Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iii. 481.
45 V.C.H. Lancs. ii. 136.
46 Ibid. 135; Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, i. 175–8. For revenues in 1291 see Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 242–3, 245, 252, 258, 261, 263.
47 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 59.
48 Cal. Pat. 1313–17, 256, 347; 1321–4, 8.
49 Ibid. 1327–30, 302; P.R.O., SC 8/39/1948.
50 Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 202–6; above.
51 P.R.O., SC 8/39/1948; 8/99/4918; Cal. Inq. Misc. ii, p. 47; 3 Sheaf, xxii, p. 19; V.C.H. Salop. ii. 65. For leases of Yarlet see Cal. Inq. Misc. ii, p. 175; Cal. Close, 1323–7, 55.
52 3 Sheaf, xxviii, p. 86; Cal. Inq. Misc. iii, p. 5; P.R.O., SC 8/244/15406; Cal. Pat. 1345–8, 93.
53 Between 1345 and 1360 41 titles were granted by Combermere to candidates for orders in the diocese of Hereford; cf. Vale Royal (2); Norton (11); Birkenhead (1): Reg. Trilleck (Cant. & York Soc.), 40–632.
54 Cal. Pat. 1334–8, 77. It is not known how or when the advowson was acquired: Eyton, Salop. viii. 12–14, 19.
55 Blk. Prince's Reg. iii, 193, 205–6.
56 Ibid. 147, 169.
57 Cal. Pat. 1330–4, 422; 1345–8, 340.
58 Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 337.
59 Cal. Close, 1307–13, 548; Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 447–8.
60 Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 448; Cal. Close, 1385–9, 253.
61 T.H.S.L.C. cxxiv. 22; Traditio, ii. 195.
62 Cal. Pat. 1381–5, 228; 2nd Reg. Stretton, 148.
63 P.R.O., CHES 25/8, rot. 21d.; Cal. Pat. 1385–9, 178.
64 36 D.K.R. 120; 37 D.K.R. 160; P.R.O., CHES 25/11, rot. 7d.; Cal. Pat. 1413–15, 73; 1 Sheaf, p. 49.
65 37 D.K.R. 160.
66 3 Sheaf, xxiv, p. 58; P.R.O., CHES 29/122, rott. 15, 16, 18; below, list of abbots.
67 P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 32; Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, in Misc. Relating to Lancs. and Ches. ii. (R.S.L.C. xxxi), 45; 3 Sheaf, xxix, pp. 17–18.
68 Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/13, f. 196.
69 Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 6–7, 10–12; Wm. Salt Libr., Stafford, S.D. Cooke, 202; 3 Sheaf, xlix, pp. 3–4, 6, 8–9, 39.
70 Lancs. and Ches. Cases in Star Chamber, i. 129. The 'paper of a certain murder done by the abbot of Combermere' mentioned in the state papers in 1534 is possibly connected with the incident: L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, p. 346.
71 L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), pp. 3176–7.
72 Letter Bk. of Rob. Joseph, 1530–3 (Oxf. Hist. Soc. N.S. xix), pp. xxiii, 84, 146. Humph. Chester took orders in 1525–6 (Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/14ii) and may have been the Humph. Lightfote listed in the deed of surrender: 8 D.K.R. 17.
73 Letter Bk. of Rob. Joseph, pp. liv, 84, 137, 146, 154, 163–4, 185, 187–8, 190–2, 194, 196, 214, 240.
74 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 216–17.
75 Chester City R.O., CR 72/7.
76 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 217. For a full list of fees (many to local gentry families) and corrodies totalling £106 see P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/407.
77 L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 143.
78 Ibid. xiv(1), pp. 589–90; 39 D.K.R. 76; 3 Sheaf, xlix, p. 3.
79 L. & P. Hen. VIII, xi, pp. 77, 106, 183.
80 Ibid. xiii(1), p. 353.
81 Ibid. pp. 397, 546.
82 8 D.K.R. 17; L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv(2), p. 599. In Nov. 1538 the abbot and 9 monks were dispensed, with a change of habit, to hold benefices: Faculty Off. Regs., ed. D. S. Chambers, 154.
83 Chester City R. O., CR 72/7.
84 P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/7384, mm. 70–5.
85 L. & P. Hen. VIII, xiv(2), p. 33.
86 Ormerod, Hist. Ches. iii. 406.
87 He witnessed the foundation charter of Poulton Abbey where he is called the first abbot of Combermere: above.
88 He witnessed a charter of Walter Durdant, Bp. of Cov., for the canons of Lilleshall usually dated c. 1155: Eyton, Salop. viii. 216–17; V.C.H. Salop. ii. 58n. Barraclough dates the charter 1149–50 (Early Ches. Charts. 3) but this early date has been challenged: Letters and Papers of Gilbert Foliot, ed. A. Morey and C. N. L. Brooke, 153n.
89 Knowles, Brooke, and London, Heads of Religious Houses, 130.
90 Ibid. 131; Cart. Chester Abbey, i. 196; Whalley Coucher Bk. i. 15; ii (Chetham Soc. [1st ser.] xi), 533.
91 Eyton, Salop. ix. 187; Cur. Reg. R. i. 299; ii. 9. He was apparently deposed in 1201 (Cur. Reg. R. i. 454) but either he or another Thos. was abbot in 1203–4: Cal. Letters Innocent III concerning Eng. and Wales, ed. C. R. and M. G. Cheney, p. 89; Knowles, Brooke, and London, Heads of Religious Houses, 131; Cal. Pat. 1225–32, 223.
92 Staffs. Chart. 1200–1327 (Collns. Hist. Staffs. 1911), 423; Staffs. R. O., D.(W.) 1721/1/1, f. 29.
93 Staffs. R. O., D.(W.) 1721/1/1, f. 33.
94 Trentham Chart. 314–15; Staffs. Chart. 425; 3 Sheaf, xxxv, p. 57; Cal. Chart. R. 1226–57, 289.
95 Eyton, Salop. x. 21. He was dead by 1263: ibid. viii. 13.
96 Staffs. Plea Rolls (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] vi(1)), 93.
97 Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 318; 1292–1301, 529.
98 Staffs. Plea Rolls (Collns. Hist. Staffs. [1st ser.] vii(1)), 126–7; Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, i. 90n.
99 Cal. Pat. 1307–13, 213.
100 He had been a monk of Stanlow and Whalley: B.L. Cotton MS. Titus F. iii, f. 261v.
101 Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, i. 93.
102 36 D.K.R. 119; Hist. MSS. Com. 13, 10th Rep. IV, Kilmorey, p. 360; B.L. Cotton MS. Faustina B. vi, f. 92v. He was previously abbot of Hulton: V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 237.
103 B.L. Harl. MS. 2072, f. 69; P.R.O., SC 8/244/15406; Cal. Inq. Misc. iii. 5. He had been a monk of Whalley: Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, i. 112. He was briefly removed from office in, or just before 1344: Canivez, Statuta Capitulorum Generalium, iii. 481.
104 36 D.K.R. 119.
105 V.C.H. Lancs. ii. 136.
106 T.H.S.L.C. cxxiv. 22.
107 Wm. Salt Libr., Stafford, S.D. Cooke, 81; B.L. Harl. MS. 2074, f. 135; 36 D.K.R. 120.
108 Cal. Pat. 1396–9, 343; Cal. Papal Reg. v. 334; vi. 335; B.L. Cotton MS. Cleopatra D. vi, ff. 70v.–71; Harl. MS. 1967, f. 112; 36 D.K.R. 120.
109 36 D.K.R. 120; P.R.O., CHES 29/112, rot. 16d.
110 P.R.O., CHES 29/122, rott. 15, 16.
111 Ibid. CHES 29/147, rot. 17; CHES 25/12, rot. 32; 37 D.K.R. 160.
112 Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 17–18.
113 3 Sheaf, xxix, pp. 17–18.
114 He had been a monk of Whalley: Whitaker, Hist. Whalley, i. 113.
115 Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/10, f. 45v.; Ches. R. O., DWN/1/21; Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 22, 27–8.
116 Chester City R. O., CR 72/93; Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 29–30.
117 P.R.O., CHES 25/6, rot. 13–13d.; Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 23–4.
118 Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 31–3; 3 Sheaf, xxx, p. 17; B.L. Add. Ch. 43358.
119 Bk. of Abbot of Combermere, 36, 40; L. & P. Hen. VIII, iv(3), p. 2700; T. Harwood, Hist. & Antiquities of Church & City of Lichfield (1806), 412 (admission to Lich. Guild, 1518, where he is described as sacre theologie bacallarius).
120 Lancs. and Ches. Cases in Star Chamber, i. 76; above. He had been superior; his will was proved in 1556: 3 Sheaf, x, p. 15.
121 B.L. Add. Ch. 43357; W. de G. Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 519; Dugdale, Mon. v. 322.
122 Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 520; B.L. Seal xxxv. 89; A. B. Tonnochy, Cat. of Brit. Seal-Dies in B.M., p. 176.