A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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39. THE PRIORY OF MARKBY
There is little doubt that the priory of St. Peter at Markby was founded during the reign of Henry II, though there is no mention of it earlier than 1204, (fn. 1) for the founder, Ralf FitzGilbert, was by that time long since dead, and his lands were in the possession of his grandson Hugh. (fn. 2) Another early benefactor of the house was Alan of Mumby, who granted to the canons the churches of Mumby, Linc., and of Wycliffe, Yorks. Both of these advowsons were claimed at the beginning of the thirteenth century by the descendants of Alan, but the case was given each time for the prior. (fn. 3) In 1266 the prior complained that he had been disseised of his right of common pasture in Strubby. (fn. 4) In 1300 a writ of oyer and terminer was issued at the request of the prior, who alleged that certain persons had come to the monastery, besieged him and his men there, prevented food from being brought to them, and beaten such of his servants as they could find outside the gates; they had even dared to resist the king's ministers, who came to preserve the peace. (fn. 5) Neither the cause of this affair nor its termination are recorded.
In the fifteenth century there were about ten canons here, in 1534 there were eight besides the prior. (fn. 6) The house was dissolved under the first Act of Suppression. The prior received the rectory of Huttoft in commutation of a pension of £20, (fn. 7) his five brethren 20s. each, besides arrears of 'wages.' (fn. 8)
A quarrel between the prior and the cellarer in the earlier half of the fourteenth century led to an appeal to the pope. The cellarer had been accused by certain seculars of wasting his time in hunting, and of wandering from the monastery without leave, and was in consequence deprived of his office. He purged himself, however, of these charges before his diocesan, and then visited Rome, and was made a papal chaplain. On his return the prior refused him admittance, and told him he might provide for himself. On appeal the pope ordered that if all this was true the cellarer was to be reinstated, and given an allowance twice as large as he had before. (fn. 9) The great pestilence settled the dispute by the death of the prior in the same year.
The visitation of Bishop Alnwick in 1438 (fn. 10) shows this priory to have been in a worse condi tion than any other in the county. The bishop prefaced his injunctions by saying that he had heard of many excesses here, both in religion and in the observation of rule, and in administration; and when he came he had found his worst expectations fulfilled, 'not even the shadow of religion,' he said, but debts, drinking, and suspicion of even worse sins.
The prior allowed that his house was 100 marks in debt, and that silence was badly kept throughout the monastery, even in the church and cloister; that neither senior nor junior canons practised contemplation, and that one Thomas Dugby was suspected of sinful intercourse with a woman at Markby. The sub-prior also allowed that religion was not kept, and seconded the complaints of the prior; on the other hand, all the canons joined in complaining of the incompetence of the prior, and negligence of the sub-prior. It was generally allowed that the canons went out without leave, and ate and drank in the town; one indeed went to his mother's house every day, and was almost the same as an apostate. Two went constantly to taverns, and one of them showed much vindictiveness of temper; he had a boy often about with him, especially at night. (fn. 11) Other seculars were admitted to the dormitory, and much too freely to all parts of the house.
Thomas Dugby confessed the sin of incontinence charged against him, and was put to penance. (fn. 12) The prior thought it best to resign, and the bishop issued injunctions for the better administration of the revenues of the house, as well as the keeping of the rule.
The prior of Markby was appointed a visitor of the order early in the sixteenth century. (fn. 13) In 1519 Bishop Atwater visited and found some irregularities, but no grave faults. Accounts were not well kept, the canons were careless about their silence and about the customs of the refectory, the sick were not well provided for, and one brother was not only unlearned but unwilling to learn. The bishop ordered a due rendering of accounts, and renewed devotion to the rule of the order. (fn. 14)
The original endowment of the priory cannot be accurately stated, as the foundation charters are missing. The temporalities of the priory in 1291 amounted to £41 19s. 5d., (fn. 15) with pensions in certain churches. Mumby and Wycliffe, Yorks., belonged to the prior and convent at the beginning of the thirteenth century, (fn. 16) as well as those which appear in the Valor Ecclesiasticus. In 1428 the prior held part of a knight's fee in Maidenwell. (fn. 17) In 1534 the clear value of the priory was £130 13s. 0½d. (fn. 18) The Ministers' Accounts amount to £202 1s. 2½d., including the rectories of Huttoft, Bilsby, Stickford, Great Carlton, Markby, and West Wykeham; and the manors of Huttoft and Ludford. (fn. 19)
Priors of Markby
Eudo, (fn. 20) resigned 1228
Geoffrey of Holm, (fn. 21) elected 1228, resigned 1232
Alan, (fn. 22) elected 1232
John of Hedon, (fn. 23) elected 1247
Roger of Walmesgrave, (fn. 24) elected 1261, resigned 1272
Simon of Ottringham, (fn. 25) elected 1272, died 1290
Roger of Braytoft, (fn. 26) elected 1290, died 1306
William of Laughton, (fn. 27) elected 1306
Thomas, (fn. 28) occurs 1342
John Edlington, (fn. 29) died 1349
Richard of Leek, (fn. 30) elected 1349, occurs 1351
Peter of Scotton, (fn. 31) elected 1372
John Fenton, (fn. 32) elected 1433, resigned 1438
Henry Wells, (fn. 33) died 1508
Henry Alford, (fn. 34) elected 1508
Thomas Kirkby, (fn. 35) occurs 1522
John Penketh, (fn. 36) last prior, occurs 1529
The twelfth-century pointed oval seal (fn. 37) represents St. Peter, seated on a throne, lifting up the right hand in benediction, in the left hand two keys. The dress bordered with pearls.
A pointed oval seal of a thirteenth-century prior (fn. 38) represents the prior full-length, in the right hand an indistinct object, in the left hand a book.
Another pointed oval seal of a prior of the fourteenth century (fn. 39) represents the Virgin, with nimbus, seated in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides; the Child, with nimbus, standing on the left knee. In base a shield of arms—three birds, two and one.