The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
PRIOR ROBERT DE NOVO LOCO
The enrolment in the Patent Rolls of the king's grant of licence to elect on the death of a prior, of his assent to the election, and of his notification of his assent to the Bishop of London for confirmation, appears to have commenced at this time. We have been unable to find any entry concerning the election of Prior Bacun in 1264, or of Prior Hugh about 1269, but with these exceptions the entries thenceforward appear, with fair regularity, on the occasion of the death of each prior.
The following is a translation of the entry concerning Prior Robert: (fn. 1)
'The Priory of St. Bartholomew of Smithfield, London, is vacant by the cession of Peter, formerly prior of the said place. And the king has granted to the convent of the same place licence to choose another prior by brother Robert de Novo Loco canon of the said house for this purpose sent to the king on behalf of the whole convent.
In the same roll, in the same year, on the 23rd November, is likewise recorded the royal assent to the election of Robert the sub-prior to be prior; also the mandate issued to F(ulk Basset), the Bishop of London, to do his part therein (fn. 2), but no record of the bishop's action has been found in the episcopal registers.
The name 'de Novo Loco' probably implies that the canon had come from Newark Abbey, in the parish of Send, near Guildford. This abbey was variously called Newark, Newsted, New Place, or de Novo Loco. There were other Newarks called 'de Novo Loco', but Newark Abbey at Send was the only house of Augustinian canons so called.
Among the MSS. at St. Paul's is a small parchment, (fn. 3) which is a release by Robert the prior and the convent to Sir Godfrey de Acra, canon of St. Paul's, of all their rights in a rent of 5s. a year issuing from a dwelling-house in the south end of 'Eldedenslane' (fn. 4) in the parish of St. Faith which they had of his gift for the purchase of wine for divine service in this church, for which concession Godfrey paid 60s.
In the year 1259 he appears in the Husting Rolls in the Guildhall, where Robert de Oxeneford and Agnes his wife grant to Robert the prior and canons of St. Bartholomew's a quit claim of land and houses in Aldersgate Street. (fn. 5)
He also appears by name in the Close Rolls, (fn. 6) in the year 1321, as having acquired in fee of Adam de Milkestrete a messuage in the parish of St. Benedict of Wodeswarfes, long before the publication of the statute of mortmain, which was in 1279. (fn. 7)
Prior Robert died in 1261, as is learnt from a record of 26 November of that year, wherein the Bishop of London prays the king to assent to the election of Gilbert de Weledon 'in room of Robert the late prior deceased'. (fn. 8)
PRIOR GILBERT DE WELEDON
We do not know what date the king granted licence to elect Prior Robert's successor, but, according to the following entry in the Patent Rolls, the temporalities were restored on 24 November. If that date is correct, then the date above of November 26th must be wrong.
The king's letter (fn. 9) may be thus translated:
'Whereas H(enry de Wingham 1259–1262) Bishop of London has confirmed the election lately made in the conventual church of St. Bartholomew London, of brother Gilbert de Weledon, canon of the said house, to be prior of the same place, to whom we previously gave Our royal assent as the said bishop by his Letters Patent signified to us and We have restored to the said elect the said priory with the appurtenances now therefore we command you that you cause the said elect to have full seisin of the said priory without delay.
One is in the year 1261, when 'Gilbert the Prior' and convent gave two annual quit rents of 7s. and 2s. from tenements in the parish of St. Andrew, Newgate (i.e. St. Andrew's Wardrobe), to the Franciscan or Grey Friars, (fn. 10) whose house (founded in 1224) adjoined St. Bartholomew's hospital on the south side. The hospital also granted them 2s. quit rent at the same time.
The second record is in the year 1263, when Prior Gilbert and the convent released to the same friars the quit rent of a tenement in St. Bride's parish, which had been the gift of Ivo de Mortelake. (fn. 11)
The third record is in the year 1262, and occurs in the Feet of Fines, when 'Gilbert the prior' recovers from Hubert de Royby, on conveyance by fine as a free gift in frankalmoign, a tenement and common of pasture in the heath at Bradfield (Essex), also the advowson of the church there which, as we have seen, (fn. 12) was the subject of a case in the Court of King's Bench in the year 1224, when the jury's verdict was against the prior. In return for this grant the prior admitted Hubert and his heirs into all benefactions and prayers of the church for ever. (fn. 13)
The fourth record is in the Twyne MSS. at Oxford, where the provincial prior of the Austin Friars of Little Yarmouth promises 13s. 4d. a year as compensation for loss of tithes to Gilbert the prior of St. Bartholomew's, and to the vicars of the churches of St. Nicholas, Little Yarmouth, and St. Andrew's, Gorleston, of which the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew's were the impropriators. (fn. 14)
Prior Gilbert must have died, or retired, at the close of the year 1263, as the signification to the Bishop of London of the royal assent to the election of his successor (John Bacun) was dated the 11th January, 1263/4. (fn. 15)
PRIOR JOHN BACUN
Prior John Bacun had been a canon at St. Bartholomew's, as is seen by the following translation of the entry in the Patent Rolls: (fn. 16)
'Whereas H(enry de Sandwich) Bishop of London has confirmed the election lately made in the conventual church of St. Bartholomew London of Brother John Bacun, canon of the said house, to be prior there, the king having first given his assent, the king has restored to the said elect, the said priory. And the knights, freemen, and other servants of the said priory are commanded to be attendant upon and answerable to the said prior as their lord in all things.
'Witness R. King of Germany, brother of the king.' (fn. 17)
There is no record as to the length of time that Bacun continued as prior, but the following entry occurs in the Curia Regis Roll of the year 1268, and it is just possible that the expression 'the same John' refers to the prior; should it do so, then Bacun remained prior till 1268:
'Adam de Stratton offered himself on the fourth day against the prior of St. Bartholomew London and Margaret . . . [summoned] on this day for enquiry by what service they hold their tenement in the parish of St. Sepulchre, which service the same John in the King's Court here granted to the aforesaid Adam and his heirs,' &c.
All that is known for certain is that Bacun had ceased to be prior in 1269, as Prior Hugh occurs in that year in the Curia Regis Rolls, (fn. 18) and we know, by the same entry, that Prior Hugh had as predecessor a Prior John, which it is not unreasonable to assume was John Bacun. There are very few records concerning him or the priory between the years 1264 and 1269.
In the year 1264, as mentioned in the chapter on the monastery, (fn. 19) the prior was summoned with other dignitaries of the church by Simon de Montfort to his great Parliament.
In the year 1266 there is a case recorded on the Curia Regis Rolls (fn. 20) where the prior claims against Germain 'le Gorgerer' and Denys his wife, 18½ perches of land in length and 5 feet in width in Clerkenwell Street, as being of his seisin, on which Germain and his wife had no right to enter, except through Robert son of Richard le Fever, who, the prior alleges, thence unjustly in the first disseised Prior Peter (le Duc). This was denied, so a jury was summoned, but their verdict is not recorded.
In the following year (1267) the prior claimed in the same court (fn. 21) against Roger Baynard and Rose his wife that they should do him the accustomed services for their free tenement which they had of him in Maldon in Essex. As Roger and Rose did not appear, the sheriffs were ordered to distrain on their lands.
In the forty-ninth year of Henry III (1264–5) there is recorded a grant (fn. 22) by Peter called Clannag, baker, to Robert de Aldenham, buckler maker, of London, of a messuage within Aldersgate in the parish of St. Agnes, held of the fee of the canons of St. Bartholomew, paying the latter yearly 13s. 4d., the nuns of Ankerwik (near Staines) 8s., the nuns of Clerkenwell 7s., the monks of St. Albans 18d., and the monks of Bermondsey 12d. This deed is witnessed by Thomas FitzThomas, Mayor of London, (fn. 23) and Edward Blund and Peter Anger sheriffs, (fn. 24) and others named. In the year 1268 Robert de Aldenham granted the same property, subject to the same payment to the canons, to Adam de Stratton. (fn. 25)
During a great thunderstorm in the year 1264–5, it is recorded that a part of the belfry of St. Bartholomew's was struck down. (fn. 26)
All entries of the election of Prior Hugh in the Patent Rolls or elsewhere are wanting. He is referred to in the Bodleian Rental of the year 1306, (fn. 27) but as Henry ('per Fratrem Henricum Priorem'), which is obviously a scribe's error for 'Hugonem', for the prior is referred to as Hugh in the Curia Regis Roll of 1269, as is seen below, and he died prior in 1295.
His first appearance in the Court of King's Bench was an unfortunate beginning, as will be seen, but apart from this case Prior Hugh stands out as a man who, during the twenty-six years or more of his priorate, ably upheld and safeguarded the rights and privileges of his house.
In the case in point he was opposed to Queen Eleanor, and the facts seem to have been as follows: (fn. 28)
There was a house and about 80 acres of land in Tewin, Herts, the possession of which John de Twynge had recovered from Godfrey de Twynge and Prior John (Bacun) by a verdict of a jury of 12 men in an assize of novel disseisin (that is, an inquiry of recent dispossession) held before Judge Nicholas; whereupon Godfrey had quitclaimed (or released) to John and his heirs in writing all his rights in the property. John, after enjoying possession for a considerable period, made over the freehold to Queen Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry III. After the death of Prior John, Prior Hugh, with Godfrey de Twynge, who was then dwelling in the monastery, arrayed a jury of 24 knights before Judge Martin of Littlebury to override the verdict of the previous jury of 12 and they obtained a verdict giving possession again to Godfrey and the prior, thus dispossessing the queen. Whereupon the queen intervened and the matter was brought into the King's Court, when the prior was charged with calling the jury of 24 by collusion and fraud and deceit of the court; and inasmuch as the queen had not been acquainted with the fact of the case being brought before the second jury, and as neither Godfrey nor Prior Hugh could deny the writing whereby Godfrey had quit-claimed John, and as Prior Hugh had also in writing, before the arraignment of the jury of 24, granted that John had recovered possession, and as this latter jury was arraigned in Prior Hugh's name and the first jury in Prior John's, which was against the custom of the kingdom, it was decided that the last verdict should be quashed entirely and that John should regain his possession, and the queen hers, and that Prior Hugh should be committed to gaol, for the usual twelve months imprisonment in such cases. He was, however, at once mainperned (bailed out) by two friends, to whom he was given up. For what reason Prior John and Godfrey de Twynge were dispossessed by John de Twynge in the first instance, or by what argument they persuaded the jury of 24 knights to override the verdict of 12, does not appear.
In the year 1273 Prior Hugh obtained by fine a house and 214 acres of land in Tewin, (fn. 29) thus adding to the property given in that place by Alexander de Swereford.
In 1279 there was a 2s. rent payable to the king in connexion with 180 acres of land in the same place. The prior held that it was payable by John, son of Godfrey de Twynge, and when he did not pay and the Crown distrained for it, the prior came to an agreement by Fine (fn. 30) with John, whereby the latter took over the liability and confirmed the holding and the advowson of the church to the prior, who in return admitted John and his heirs to all benefactions and prayers of the church. Prior Hugh was represented in this case by John de Kensington, his successor as prior in 1295. This John son of Godfrey is probably the same John de Twynge who appeared in the case with the queen.
In 1273 the prior successfully protected the privileges of the monastery; for the king ordered that the prior should be acquitted of the 40s. in which he was amerced by reason of the common summons of the eyre of the justices in Essex, the prior having had acquittance thereof. (fn. 31)
The next year (1274) Prior Hugh had licence to go abroad for about four months, for which purpose he appointed Alexander de Staundon and Adam de Eyton to act as his attorneys in all pleas from March 28th to St. Peter ad Vincula (August 1st).
In the year 1279 Prior Hugh received a grant of quit rents (fn. 32) from the executors of James de Stanes in the parishes of All Hallows, Bread Street, and of St. Martin Outwich.
The prior at this time had to be prepared to have all the privileges of the house challenged, for when King Edward, in 1274, returned from the Holy Land he found that, during his father's long reign, the revenues of the Crown had been considerably diminished by ecclesiastics and laymen withholding just dues; by alienations to the church under pretexts of gifts in frankalmoign; by usurping the right of holding courts; by demanding unreasonable tolls at fairs, and in other ways. The king at once appointed commissioners to inquire into these abuses, whose inquisitions, which contained evidence on oath of each hundred and town in the country, were entered in the Hundred Rolls.
The finding of the jury for London was that the King of Scotland, the Bishop of London, the Earl of Gloucester, the prior and convent of Holy Trinity, the brethren of the hospital of St. Bartholomew, the brethren of the hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, and the prioress and convent of Haliwell, held their own courts in the City of London, but on what warrant they knew not. On the passing of the Statute of Gloucester in 1278, founded on these inquisitions, writs of Quo Warranto were issued.
In that same year (1278), a writ of Quo Warranto was issued against the Prior of St. Bartholomew's to inquire by what right he enjoyed all the privileges which were granted him by the charter of Henry I in the year 1133. (fn. 33) He claimed that he enjoyed his privileges by that charter, confirmed by Henry II and Henry III. He also claimed view of frankpledge in all his lands. The matter was tried before the justices and a jury of 12, who found that the prior and his predecessors had fully enjoyed all the liberties claimed concerning view of frankpledge in a tenement which the prior held of Master Richard Shoreford in Tewin (Thewynge), and this the jury found had of old time been held by the sheriffs of the king, and they advised that the king should recover the view, which was not worth more than two pence a year. This finding was entered on the Assize Rolls in 1278, (fn. 34) and again in extenso on the Quo Warranto Rolls in 1292. (fn. 35)
In 1293–4 the prior was served with a writ of Quo Warranto (fn. 36) in regard to his claim to view of frankpledge, the regulation of the weight and measure of bread and beer, &c., in Little Stanmore, and on these counts the jury's verdict was in favour of the prior; but as regards infangenthef (the liberty to judge a thief taken within the fee) or outfangenthef (the liberty to bring a man of the manor to judgment in the manor court) and gallows, the verdict was in favour of the king.
In the same year the prior had to contest the claim of three daughters of Ralph 'Bequeynte' to 24 acres of land and 3 acres of pasture in Little Stanmore, but eventually the ladies withdrew. (fn. 37)
The writ Quo Warranto, as regards the Fair, was not issued until the fourteenth year of Edward II, 1321, under which year reference will be found. (fn. 38)
In the year 1285, the City of London lost its franchise and for thirteen years was 'in the king's hand', being governed by a warden of his selection and appointment, instead of by a mayor appointed by the citizens. (fn. 39) It is not surprising, therefore, that the king should claim the advowson of the hospital at this time, (fn. 40) but the jury found that neither the king nor his ministers intermeddled with the election of a master unless the priory and hospital should both be vacant at one time.
In the year 1292 the warden of the city insisted that, as the privileges of the city were forfeited, all the benefits arising therefrom, as the profits of the fair, also belonged to the king. The king took a reasonable view of the matter and wisely left the decision in the hands of the barons of the exchequer, as will be seen in the following letter (translated) to the warden: (fn. 41)
'Edward, &c., to the Warden and Sheriffs of London, &c. Whereas the Prior of St. Bartholomew of Smethefeud, in the suburb of London, claims to hold by charters of our progenitors, kings of England, and our confirmation, a certain Fair there every year to last for three days, viz., on the eve, the Feast and morrow of St. Bartholomew the Apostle, together with all liberties and free customs to such a Fair appertaining, in which, as the said Prior asserts, he has met with hindrance at the hands of the Warden, and a dispute has arisen between you touching one half of the aforesaid eve and the whole of the morrow aforesaid; we, being desirous to do justice both to ourselves and to the aforesaid Prior before the Treasurer and Barons of our Exchequer, one month after Michaelmas, command you that after taking security from the said Prior for payment into the Exchequer of the profits of the Fair for one half of the eve and the whole of the morrow aforesaid, on the day aforesaid, in case the Prior should fail to show cause why the said profits should not belong to us, you permit the said Prior in the meanwhile to take the profits in form aforesaid.
'Dated Durham, 9 Aug., 20 Edw. I (A.D. 1292).' (fn. 42)
In the year 1287 the prior had to obtain judgment to enforce the annual payment of 4 marks 3s. 4d. by the prior of Blythburgh for the moiety of the advowson of the church of St. Peter Wenhaston, Suffolk. (fn. 43)
In July of the eighteenth year of King Edward (1290) the prior obtained an inspeximus and confirmation of the charter granted by the king's father in the year 1253 (37 Henry III) (fn. 44) and of the charter granted by his father in the same year inspecting and confirming the charter of Henry II (fn. 45) (of about 1173), which confirmed all the privileges of Henry I's charter of 1133.
Gilbert de Clare Earl of Gloucester and Hertford (called the 'Red', acted at first with and afterwards against Simon de Montfort. He married first Alice, a niece of Henry III, and in 1290 Joan, daughter of Edward I; d. 1295).
In the year 1294, a quarrel being forced upon the king by the perfidy of Philip IV, the king had to raise money for a war with France, and so we find the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew's granting the king for that year a moiety of their benefices and goods according to the taxation last made: (fn. 46) for which the king granted protection to the prior for one year of his person and his goods; (fn. 47) a very necessary protection because, by the famous Bull 'Clericis Laicos', no tax was to be levied on any property of the Church without permission from the pope on pain of excommunication, and any ecclesiastic paying such a tax was at once deposed. (fn. 48) The next year the clergy, in consequence, refused further grants, whereupon the king declared that those who did not contribute to the temporal power should not enjoy its protection, and he closed the courts against them. Notwithstanding the papal prohibition, the clergy gave way and granted the king a subsidy of one tenth, but the king granted certain exemptions from paying this, in which the Prior of St. Bartholomew's was included. (fn. 49)
But this was nine months after Prior Hugh's death, for on the 11th March, 1294–5, John de Kensington, the canon of St. Bartholomew's already mentioned, brought news to the king of the prior's death and was granted letters of licence to elect another prior in his room. (fn. 50)
A portion of a coffin-lid (Fig. 1) of Purbeck marble was found, in the year 1843, when forming a sewer near the north entrance to the church, that is to say, on the site of the north transept, and close beside it were found a considerable number of glazed tiles. The slab was 2 ft. 9 in. in length, 2 ft. 10 in. in breadth, and 5 in. in thickness. It bore the head and part of the stem of a cross in bold relief, and in a sunken border round the edge the beginning and ending of an inscription in Lombardic characters; the whole being in the style of the thirteenth century:
The stone was in the possession of Mr. W. Chaffers, junr., who communicated the find to the Society of Antiquaries at the time. (fn. 51) Mr. E. B. Price suggested that the inscription originally ran:
(Hugh of Hendon lieth here, God on his soul have mercy). (fn. 52) It must be observed, however, that Prior Hugh is not described as 'of Hendon ' in any of the known records, so that this suggestion must remain a mere surmise, but it is not unreasonable to assume that the stone was the lid of the coffin of Prior Hugh.