A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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73. THE AUSTIN FRIARS OF GRIMSBY
William Fraunk obtained licence, 22 November, 1293, to alienate to the prior and Austin Friars of Lincoln a messuage in Grimsby, and became responsible for the payment of 6d. a year which was due from this messuage at the Exchequer by the hand of the bailiffs of Grimsby. (fn. 1) By 1300 the friars had built an oratory without licence of the bishop and in spite of the opposition of the Austin Canons of Grimsby. (fn. 2) In 1305 they were allowed by the king to enclose two plots of ground in the town, which they had acquired from William de Dudale and Edmund de Fal, though the king would thereby lose 14d. a year which the bailiffs of the town were wont to render for the farm of the land. (fn. 3) The friars in 1315 received a messuage adjacent to their house from John atte See of Ravenserod—the king consenting to the grant at the request of the queen. (fn. 4) William le Tollere conferred on them another adjacent plot in 1319. (fn. 5) In 1325 Bishop Burghersh granted an indulgence to those visiting their church, (fn. 6) They further acquired plots of land from Simon of Grimsby in 1333 (fn. 7) and from William de Brocklesby, king's clerk, in 1337. (fn. 8) For these various tenements they paid to the mayor and commonalty towards the farm of the town 8s. a year till 1342, when Peter atte See, burgess, granted to the town a like rent from his lands that the friars might hold their lands rent free. (fn. 9)
In 1339 Walter de Belesby, the prior, complained that Thomas de Skirbeck of Grimsby, and many others, including a butcher and a tailor, had assaulted Simon of Grimsby, a friar of the house; (fn. 10) a commission of oyer and terminer was issued to Richard de Willoughby and others, and shortly afterwards a writ of protection for one year was granted to the friars and William Bray, their attorney, who were threatened with disturbance in the prosecution of their business. (fn. 11)
Bequests were made to these friars by Richard Ravenser, archdeacon of Lincoln (fn. 12) (1385), John of Waltham, bishop of Salisbury (fn. 13) (1395), John Enderby of Grimsby (fn. 14) (1472), Richard Burgh, who left 12d. to every friar of the house (fn. 15) (1512-3), John Lyttyll of Grimsby (fn. 16) (1530). John Cotes, esq. (fn. 17) was buried in the church and left two good oxen to the brethren (1421).
John Daniel was prior in 1419. (fn. 18)
In the reign of Henry VII (?) some of the inhabitants attacked the Austin Friars 'on riotous wise' and indited certain of the brethren without reasonable cause to their 'unportable' charge and cost, and were ordered by the king to desist. (fn. 19)
Leland saw many old MSS. in the library but found nothing worth recording. (fn. 20)
During the short Lincolnshire rebellion in October, 1536, the prior of this house, who had been recently appointed, came riding with the warden of the Grey Friars to the commons and gave them money, and lent the warden some money to give them. He seems to have acted to some extent under compulsion, a hint having been given to the friars that 'it were alms to set your house of fire.' (fn. 21)
John Freeman, an agent of Cromwell, visited the friary in October, 1538, and found that most of the friars had run away. He made the prior keeper of the house for the king, with a promise of five marks at his departing. (fn. 22) The surrender was made to the bishop of Dover at the end of February, 1538-9; he found the house poor, but estimated the Lead at about 20 to 22 foder. The mayor and aldermen paid most of his costs and desired to have the friary as a common house for ordnance and other necessaries for defence. It stood well for the purpose, near the water and open to the sea. The bishop urged Cromwell to favour their suit, and committed the house, lead, and bells to the mayor. (fn. 23) The site, containing about five acres, was, however, granted to the dean and chapter of Westminster, August, 1542, and purchased by Austin Porter of Belton (Linc.) and John Bellow 27 July, 1546. It was then valued at 20s. a year. (fn. 24)
74. THE GREY FRIARS OF GRIMSBY
The Friars Minors probably settled here before 1240, for Eccleston notes that their place was 'sufficiently enlarged' while William of Nottingham was provincial (1240-54). (fn. 25) Henry III granted them twenty oaks in Sherwood Forest in 1255. (fn. 26) They paid a rent for their land to the Knights Templars till 1305, when they were relieved from this obligation by the generosity of Robert le Eyr of Grimsby. (fn. 27) In 1313 they received pardon for acquiring without licence a plot of land measuring 12 p. by 9 p. 8 ft., from Elias de Pestur or le Pescur; (fn. 28) and in the same year Edward II authorized them to make a subterranean conduit from Holm to their house in Grimsby, through the king's land in Grimsby and that of John Yornborough and Ralph de Skirbeck in Holm. (fn. 29) A plot of land in Grimsby 14 p. 7 ft. by 6 p. 14 ft. adjacent to their area was granted to them in 1317 by William, 'parson of a fourth part of the church of Brocklesby.' (fn. 30) The area of the friary contained twenty-three tofts, for which the. friars paid 11s. 6d. a year to the crown. (fn. 31)
Thomas de Mussenden, esq., desired to be buried here before the high altar (1402) and left 100s. to place a stone over his body, his best mazer to the friars, and his red garment of cloth of gold to the high altar. (fn. 32) Small legacies to these friars are contained in the wills of Beatrix Haulay (1389), William of Humberstone, rector of Belgrace (1394), John of Waltham, bishop of Salisbury (1395), Constance lady of Skelton (1402), William of Waltham, canon of York (1416), William Alcock (1416), John Enderby (1497), and John Lytyll (1530), all of Grimsby. Richard Burgh (1513) left 12d. to every grey friar of Grimsby and 10s. to Friar William Dowsun. (fn. 33) The convent was in the custody of York. (fn. 34)
Leland inspected the library before the dissolution, but found nothing worth recording. (fn. 35)
The warden rode out to the rebels 4 October, 1536, and gave them some money which he borrowed from the prior of the Austin Friars. (fn. 36)
John Freeman dissolved the Grey Friars here 8 October, 1538, and sent the plate, weighing 22 oz., to London; the house 'was not very chargeable to the king, and yet there were nine friars in the same.' The surrender, however, was signed only by six friars, including Adam Howeton, the warden. To the king's use there remained the bells and lead, estimated at £80. (fn. 37) The site, estimated at three acres, was at once let to Thomas Hatcliff, and granted in October, 1543, to John Bellow and Robert Brokesby; it was at that time in the tenure of the relict of Thomas Hatcliff. (fn. 38)