A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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HOUSES OF KNIGHTS TEMPLARS
63. THE PRECEPTORY OF WILLOUGHTON
This preceptory was founded by Roger de Builli during the reign of Stephen. (fn. 1) Simon de Cancy was a benefactor of the same period, as were also William de Romara, earl of Lincoln, and his half-brother Ranulf earl of Chester; Hugh of Bayeux, Robert of Boulogne, Simon de Vere, Robert de Roose, Alan d'Avenel, all added something to the original endowment. (fn. 2) It seems probable that the manor of Mere formed only a part of the endowment of this house, and did not support a separate preceptory; there was not even a camera there in 1338, at which date it merely occurs as a member of Willough ton. (fn. 3)
In 1275 the brethren of this house were accused of extending their rights without full warrant, to the damage of the king and of the country-side. They had made the floodgate on their property at Bracebridge smaller than it ought to be. (fn. 4) They had impeded the flow of water at Grimsby, raised a wall on the king's highway, and kept a free guesthouse there, paying no tallages. (fn. 5)
In 1312, when the order was suppressed, and the lands of the Templars taken into the king's hands, the corrody-holders were placed for a time under the charge of a warden. (fn. 6) By 1338, however, the preceptory had passed to the Knights Hospitallers, and was held by a preceptor, who was also its chaplain, with a squire as his companion; there were then three corrody-holders. (fn. 7) There were two small camerae or cells of this house at Horkstow and Bottesford at this time, (fn. 8) but by the dissolution their revenues had been merged in those of the preceptory.
In 1415 the preceptories of Willoughton and Eagle were under the charge of the same brother, (fn. 9) but at the dissolution they again had separate rulers.
The original endowment of the house was considerable, including nearly the whole of the vill of Willoughton, with a moiety of the advowson of the church, the churches of Hareby, Goulceby, Thorpe, Bottesford, and Gainsborough, with lands at Cawkwell, Goulceby, Hareby, Kirkby, Bottesford, Bracebridge, Caenby, and Grimsby, (fn. 10) In 1338, when the house came to the Hospitallers, it still held the churches of Gainsborough, Goulceby, Thorpe-in-the-Fallows, and half Willoughton, with lands at Cawkwell, Thorpe, Ingham, Cabourn, Limber, Saxby, Mere, Waddington, East Keal, Claxby, Thimbleby, Gainsborough, and Walcote, valued at £284 3s. 5d., and charged with reprisals, amounting to £82 10s. 8½d. (fn. 11)
In 1534 the clear income was £174 11s. 1½d., including the churches of Gainsborough, Goulceby, Horkstow, and half Willoughton. Alms were daily distributed to the poor at the door and in the hall of the preceptory to the value of £13 6s. 8d. (fn. 12)
Preceptors of Willoughton
Thomas de Thurmeston, (fn. 13) occurs 1338
Henry Crownhall, (fn. 14) occurs 1414
John Sutton, (fn. 15) occurs 1534
64. THE PRECEPTORY OF EAGLE
The preceptory of Eagle is said to have been founded by King Stephen, who presented the manor on which it was built to the Templars. (fn. 16)
This house also passed to the Hospitallers in 1312; a preceptor and a chaplain were living here in 1338. (fn. 17) About twenty years later the administration of Eagle, Temple Bruer, and Beverley (Yorks.), were committed to one knight, John of Anlaby, by the general chapter of the order; but he was afterwards despoiled of this office by the prior of the hospital, whereupon he appealed to the pope. The causes of the difficulty are not stated in the petition made in 1359. (fn. 18)
It seems to have been a common thing as time went on to put one commander or preceptor in charge of. two or three houses of the order; in 1415 Willoughton and Eagle are thus coupled together. (fn. 19) Shortly before the dissolution the title, 'Bailiff of the Eagle,' seems to have been little more than a title of honour, not implying residence at the commandery, which was left in charge of a steward, or farmer. (fn. 20)
The original endowment included the manor of Eagle, with the churches of Eagle, Swinderby, and Scarle; lands at Mere were either given at the same time or added afterwards. (fn. 21) In 1338 the revenue was £,122 11s. 10d., the expenses £55 18s. 4d., leaving 100 marks to the treasury from the manor of Eagle, the churches of Eagle and Swinderby, and lands. (fn. 22) At the dissolution the preceptory of the 'Olde Eagle,' with the manors of Old Eagle, North Scarle, and Swinderby, and the rectory of Swinderby, was valued at 100s. 2d. (fn. 23)
Preceptors or Bailiffs of Eagle
Robert Cort, (fn. 24) occurs 1338.
John of Anlaby, (fn. 25) occurs 1359
Henry Crownhall, (fn. 26) occurs 1415
William Langstrother, (fn. 27) occurs about 1454
John Babington, (fn. 28) died 1534
65. THE PRECEPTORY OF ASLACKBY
This preceptory was founded early in the reign of Henry II; for Hubert of Rye presented to the Templars the church of Aslackby with its chapel 'in the year when Thomas archbishop of Canterbury departed from the king at Northampton;' (fn. 29) that is to say, in 1164. Margaret de Percy was also a benefactress of the house, (fn. 30) and so was John le Mareschall in 1194. (fn. 31)
The Templars here were accused in 1275 of holding lands in Rippingale to the prejudice of the king, and of withholding sheriff's aid in Dowsby and Rippingale and Gautby. (fn. 32)
The house was taken into the king's hands in 1312, (fn. 33) but was never made into a new commandery by the Hospitallers. They held at Aslackby in 1338 a capital messuage, 2 carucates of land and a church, which were farmed to Henry de la Dale, secretary to the Earl of Lancaster. (fn. 34) This property was afterwards made part of the endowment of Temple Bruer. (fn. 35)
66. THE PRECEPTORY OF SOUTH WITHAM
The Templars seem to have had a small house here, with the advowson of a moiety of the parish church, for it was taken into the king's hands in 1312 as part of the possessions of the order. (fn. 36) It was then charged with one corrody. (fn. 37) The Hospitallers probably could not afford to support a commandery here; they held in 1338 a messuage, 8 carucates, and a moiety of the parish church, which was farmed to Sir Richard de Ty, (fn. 38) and eventually the bailiwick was merged in the preceptory of Temple Bruer. (fn. 39)
67. THE PRECEPTORY OF TEMPLE BRUER
The preceptory of Temple Bruer was founded late in the reign of Henry II (fn. 40) by William of Ashby, who was admitted soon afterwards into the fraternity of the house, and increased the original endowment before his death. (fn. 41) Other benefactors were Maud de Cauz, John d'Eyncourt, Robert of Everingham, William de Vescy, Gilbert of Ghent, &c. (fn. 42) The house seems to have been of considerable size and importance; the brethren were allowed to crenellate the great gate in 1306, (fn. 43) and in 1312 there were nine corrodyholders dependent upon its revenues for support. (fn. 44)
In 1338 the hospitallers had established a commandery of their order at Temple Bruer; it was under the same preceptor as the house at Eagle, and there was a squire also in residence. (fn. 45)
During the reign of Henry VI Thomas de la Laund made an effort to recover the church of Ashby from the Hospitallers, by virtue of his descent from those who granted it originally to the Templars, but died before he could prove his case. (fn. 46) In 1493, however, Thomas de la Launde began a fresh suit as to Ashby Heath, alleging that the commander, Sir John Boswell, 'by reason of his great might and power,' had enfeoffed his own bastard son, William Boswell, with a part of it, which was the lawful inheritance of Thomas. (fn. 47) In 1503, however, it was held by the new commander, Sir Thomas Newport, who claimed that it Was part of the original estates of his commandery. (fn. 48) The suit was still going on in 1531. (fn. 49)
At the death of Sir John Babington in 1534 (fn. 50) Sir Giles Russell was made commander, being at that time lieutenant-turcopolier of the order. His letters show that he did not reside at Temple Bruer; but finding that the house was in a ruinous condition he made some effort to get it repaired and put in a better condition. (fn. 51) In 1539 he was made turcopolier, being at the time in Malta, on business of the order; (fn. 52) so that he probably saw little of his commandery before its dissolution in 1541.
The original endowment included lands in Ashby, with the parish church and pasturage for sheep; lands at Rowston, Heckington, Burton, and elsewhere, with the church of Rowston, (fn. 53) and possibly others besides, (fn. 54) were granted by benefactors of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In 1338 the revenue of the house was £177 7s. 7d., including the churches of Ashby and Rowston, the free chapel of Bruere, with lands at Bruere, Rowston, Wellingore, Ashby, Brauncewell, and North Kirkby; the expenses were £84 0s. 2d. (fn. 55) The clear value of the house at the dissolution was £16 19s. 10¾d., including the bailiwick of South Witham and the farm of half the rectory and the grange of Holme in Heckington, with perquisites of a court. (fn. 56)
Preceptors or Commanders of Temple Bruer
John Wolf, (fn. 57) occurs 1221
Robert Cort, (fn. 58) occurs 1338
John Seyvill, (fn. 59) occurs 1415
John Boswell, (fn. 60) occurs 1493
Thomas Newport, (fn. 61) occurs 1503
John Babington, (fn. 62) occurs 1531, died 1534
Giles Russell, (fn. 63) last commander, occurs 1539
The fifteenth-century seal of the preceptor of Temple Bruer (fn. 64) is a pointed oval representing a castle elaborately designed, with outer wall of masonry embattled, circular keep embattled, and on it an Agnus Dei, reguardant.
Another pointed oval seal of the fifteenth century (fn. 65) is similar in design, but the details are differently executed. In the topmost tower is a niche or window in which is a bell.