A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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38. THE PRIORY OF KYME
The priory of Kyme was founded by Philip of Kyme, steward to Gilbert earl of Lincoln, before the year 1169, (fn. 1) in honour of Blessed Mary. It was never of any great importance. Its revenues provided fairly well for about a dozen canons: at the dissolution there were still eleven.
In 1317 the prior complained of trespasses on his property committed by Adam of Normanton. (fn. 2) An indult granted by the pope in 1402, that the canons might rent, let, or farm all their fruits, manors, and benefices without licence of the ordinary, looks as if they were in poverty at that time. (fn. 3) The last prior, Ralf Fairfax, signed the acknowledgement of supremacy, (fn. 4) and two years later received a licence for the continuance of his house, although it was of less value than £200 a year; a fine of £200 was exacted for this privilege. (fn. 5) The surrender was finally taken by Dr. London on 6 July, 1539; (fn. 6) the prior received a pension of £30, and the canons annuities varying from £5 to £5 6s. 8d. (fn. 7)
There are a good many notices of this house in the episcopal registers. In 1236, Bishop Grosteste visited it and removed the prior, substituting, as he said afterwards, a suitable man for an unsuitable; but as he did not ask the consent of the patron, Philip of Kyme, the latter questioned the new prior's right. The bishop wrote a courteous letter to Philip, taking the responsibility entirely on himself, and saying that he had done the same thing before, even in the houses under royal patronage. The new prior was an honourable and religious man, and had accepted the office 'non sponte sed coactu.' If Philip wanted to be angry, he must be angry with the bishop, not with the unoffending canons. (fn. 8)
In 1377 Bishop Bokyngham held a visitation. The canons were in the habit of serving their appropriate churches in person, and not by means of secular vicars—a custom common at the time as well as later—and their community life had suffered a little in consequence. The bishop ordered that henceforth none of them should serve churches or take charge of granges distant from the monastery, that the divine office might be well sustained. They were forbidden to wear swords or any other weapons, or to have their habits unnecessarily ornamented. There are also the usual injunctions as to going out without leave, eating and drinking outside the monastery, or entertaining friends too liberally within it. (fn. 9) Similar injunctions were issued by Bishop Flemyng in 1422. (fn. 10) An order was given by Bishop Repingdon in 1417 to bring back a canon who had gone without leave to join the Carmelites at Nottingham. (fn. 11) A full report of Bishop Alnwick's visitation in 1440 is preserved. The prior complained that his canons were too fond of idle sports. The cellarer complained that there were too many boys in the choir, which was a hindrance to the divine office: he said the infirmary was out of repair, and that the obedientiaries ate in the town of Kyme when they went there on business, and one canon hunted for his own profit. Others complained of the accumulation of offices in the hands of a few, and of the too free access of seculars to choir and refectory. The bishop dealt with all these points. The time spent in games should be given rather to contemplation, reading and study; seculars should be banished from choir and refectory, and the infirmary repaired. (fn. 12)
The canons of Kyme at the time of the first Act of Suppression loved their monastery and their religious life well enough to pay a heavy fine for continuance. What Dr. London says in 1539 of young canons being grieved that they might not marry after the surrender, since they were still priests, (fn. 13) can scarcely reflect much discredit on Kyme, though he mentions this house in the same letter; for seven of the religious there were described as 'aged men,' and only two as 'young men.' (fn. 14) London himself remarks that the prior was an 'honest priest' and had redeemed his house from debt (fn. 15) —no slight credit, when his total income was only £101 0s. 4d., and he had just had to pay a heavy fine. There seems little doubt indeed that the priory had an honourable ending, and that the canons were living at the last quietly and faithfully under their rule. (fn. 16)
The original endowment of the priory of Kyme consisted only of the demesne land and smaller benefactions in the neighbourhood, (fn. 17) with several churches. In 1291 the temporalities of the prior were taxed at £39 10s. 6¼d. (fn. 18) In 1303 he held half a knight's fee in Thorpe Tilney and with another one-quarter in Thorpe and Swarby; (fn. 19) about the same in 1346, (fn. 20) and in 1428 half a fee in Immingham. (fn. 21) In 1431 he held the manor of Immingham. (fn. 22) In 1534 the clear revenue of the priory was £101 0s. 4d., including the churches of Kyme, Swarby, Ewerby, Osbournby, Metheringham, Thorpe near Wainfleet, Calceby, Croft, Northolme, and Wainfleet All Saints. (fn. 23) The Ministers' Accounts amount to £130 11s. 9½d. (fn. 24)
Priors of Kyme
Roger, (fn. 25) occurs 1169
Lambert, (fn. 26) occurs 1177
Roger, (fn. 27) occurs 1202
Henry, (fn. 28) resigned 1251
John of Brampton, (fn. 29) elected 1251
Peter of Lincoln, (fn. 30) resigned 1267
John of Timberland, (fn. 31) elected 1267, resigned 1274
Thomas of Spalding, (fn. 32) elected 1274, resigned 1290
Arnold of Thornton, (fn. 33) elected 1290, resigned 1293
Walter of Herdeby, (fn. 34) elected 1293
Roger Bretonius, (fn. 35) resigned 1326
Robert of Lincoln, (fn. 36) elected 1326
Henry of Whaplode, (fn. 37) elected 1376
Hugh of Wainfleet, (fn. 38) died 1400
Thos. de Bykyre, (fn. 39) elected 1401, died 1401
Robert of Langton, (fn. 40) died 1407
John Evedon, (fn. 41) elected 1407
Robert Ludburgh, (fn. 42) occurs 1440
Thomas Day, (fn. 43) died 1511
Ralf Fairfax, (fn. 44) last prior, elected 1511
A thirteenth-century seal (fn. 45) represents the Annunciation of the Virgin. On each side of the Virgin a fleur-de-lis growing on a long stalk in a flower-pot.
A fourteenth-century pointed oval seal (fn. 46) represents the Virgin standing in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides, with crown, the Child on the left arm, in the right hand a sceptre. In base, under a round-headed arch, the prior, to the left.