A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 1, Physique, Archaeology, Domesday, Ecclesiastical Organization, the Jews, Religious Houses, Education of Working Classes To 1870, Private Education From Sixteenth Century. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1969.
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HOUSE OF KNIGHTS HOSPITALLERS
9. PRIORY OF ST. JOHN OF JERUSALEM, CLERKENWELL (fn. 1)
The priory of St. John of Jerusalem at Clerkenwell was the head house of the Hospital of St. John in England. This Order was closely-knit and also highly centralized and the history and function of Clerkenwell first calls for an account of the Order itself.
The Order of Hospitallers was founded in the 11th century and recognized by Pope Paschal II in 1116. (fn. 2) Centred upon the great hospital in Jerusalem, its original object was to provide succour for pilgrims to the Holy Places. But Raymond du Puy (master, 1119–24) permitted the Order to undertake military activities and these soon began to take precedence over the charitable work from which it took its name. (fn. 3) Upon the surrender of Jerusalem to Saladin in 1187 the hospital there was lost and the Order became completely military. Its headquarters remained in the Holy Land until removed to Rhodes in 1310 and thence in 1530 to Malta.
The Order was divided into three categories, chaplains, knights, and servientes, (fn. 4) of which the first was, at least until 1236, accorded formal precedence. For their regulation statutes were drawn up by Gilbert d'Assailly (1162–70) and Roger des Moulins (1177–87). Those of the latter show us the administrative system when fully developed. (fn. 5) They lasted in this form until 1310.
Supreme authority was vested in the master, (fn. 6) appointed for life, and advised by a permanent body of counsellors—the Convent—resident in the Holy Land. In all legislative and disciplinary matters the general chapter (which met, in theory, every five years) was sovereign. It elected the master and the conventual bailiffs—the commander, marshal, hospitaller, draper, and treasurer. As endowments accumulated in the West, priories, with subordinate houses called commanderies, and smaller units, known as camere and bailiwicks, were established in various countries to facilitate the collection of arms and to further recruiting. The priors were appointed by the general chapter on the advice of the provincial chapters. They were responsible for sending to headquarters the annual 'responsions', which represented originally the entire revenue of the priory, after the deduction of necessary expenses. Later, responsions, although liable to fluctuate, were generally reckoned at a third of the net income. A valuable supplementary source of income was provided by the frarie contributed by the members of the fraternities attached to the various houses. They shared in the good works and spiritual benefits of the Order, and enjoyed the right, confirmed by papal privilege, of burial in its churches and graveyards in return for protecting its interests and contributing to its support. (fn. 7)
Each prior was assisted by a provincial (sometimes called a 'general') chapter which met annually, and which all bailiffs and commanders were in theory bound to attend. Its consent was required for all important decisions relating to the priory. The priors owed no homage or fealty to temporal authorities, and their temporalities were not taken in hand during voidances. Instead, the Convent claimed as a 'mortuary' the entire revenues of a priory from the death of a prior until the following 1 May, and as a 'vacancy' the net revenues of the succeeding year. In addition, the prior's effects were claimed as 'spoils' and shared between the master and the conventual bailiffs. (fn. 8) Priors were supposed to present themselves at regular intervals at the Convent to give an account of their stewardship, although in practice such appearances were rare. They were also subject to periodical visitation by the master or his representatives, and themselves had the duty of visiting, in person or by their accredited agents, the commanderies under their jurisdiction. All the brethren were liable to be called up periodically for service in the Convent, and from time to time a 'general passage' (passagium) involving the whole fighting force of the priory was ordered. The principle was early asserted that priors and commanders should normally be natives of the country in which their houses were situated. (fn. 9) Later it was found convenient to divide the entire Order into 'tongues' (langues). Of these there were at first probably only four, the English and Irish priories (the latter founded in 1174) being associated with the priories of France; but before 1300 the number had been increased to seven, of which the English and Irish priories, including the commanderies in Wales and Scotland, formed one. (fn. 10) In 1338 there were in England 41 commanderies, eight of which had been houses of the Templars. (fn. 11) Clerkenwell was the only one in Middlesex at that time while Hampton (fn. 12) and Harefield were camere, although the latter had been a commandery in the previous century. (fn. 13)
The constitution of the Order underwent further development after the conquest of Rhodes in 1310. The general chapter of Montpellier in 1330 organized the brethren there according to their respective tongues, to each being assigned as 'pillar' one of the conventual bailiffs. To the English tongue was allotted the Turcopolier, who had originally commanded the light cavalry recruited from the native population, which had formed a normal part of the Latin forces in Palestine. (fn. 14) The 'pillar' presided over the assembly at which the affairs of the tongue in Rhodes were discussed and was expected to provide the knights with an 'inn' or 'auberge' in which to live. (fn. 15) He was in theory perpetually resident in the Convent; but in practice frequently visited England, where he was from time to time employed by the master as a check on the prior—a proceeding which resulted, not unnaturally, in bad blood between them.
Under the new constitution commanderies were reserved to the use of the tongue to which they belonged and after 1354 commanders were normally nominated by the tongue. The master could appoint to one commandery in each priory (in England West Peckham (Kent) enjoyed this 'magisterial' status); and every five years he might also appoint to one other commandery in every priory. Each prior was also permitted every five years to appoint to one commandery in his own priory. When a commander had served for fifteen years, ten of which had been spent in the Convent, he became eligible, if a knight, for a conventual or capitular bailiwick or a priory, carrying with it the title of 'crucifer' or Grand Cross. In the English tongue there were four Grand Crosses —the priors of England and Ireland, the Turcopolier, and the bailiff of Eagle. (fn. 16)
From the first recognition of the Order successive Popes granted it a number of privileges. Its members were exempted from the authority of the local ordinaries and from payment of tithes, and enjoyed extensive rights of sanctuary. They were authorized to maintain in all their houses, in addition to secular clerks, as many lay servants as were needed to care for the poor and the sick. All were subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Hospital. (fn. 17)
The process by which the English priory was established is obscure. Such early grants as have been recorded are difficult to date; but the Order had received some endowments before the foundation of Clerkenwell. The appearance in surviving lists of benefactors of the names of, for example, Gilbert, Earl of Hertford (d. 1152), (fn. 18) Robert, Earl of Derby (d. 1139), (fn. 19) Adeliza de Clermont, (fn. 20) wife of Richard fitz Gilbert, (d. 1123), and mother of the Earl of Pembroke (d. 1148) suggests the reign of Stephen or possibly Henry I. (fn. 21) Before 1154 the Templars were a more favoured Order than the Hospitallers; they received generous benefactions from Stephen and his queen. With the accession of Henry II, however, the fortunes of the Hospitallers began to improve, and in 1155 (fn. 22) and 1177–8 (fn. 23) they were granted charters. It was the mission of the master, Roger des Moulins, to England in 1185, in company with the Patriarch of Jerusalem, to seek help for the Latin Kingdom, (fn. 24) that brought the Order to the fore. The Master of the Temple, who had been the third member of the embassy, died in Italy on the way, leaving Roger without a rival.
Richard I, who held the Order in affection as a result of services to him on Crusade, granted the English Hospitallers a charter in 1194 enlarging their privileges, and handed over to their care hospitals at Worcester and Hereford. (fn. 25) John, too, extended his patronage to them. (fn. 26) His relations with the Order remained amicable throughout, although, like other religious orders, they suffered from his exactions. They rallied to the support of Henry III against Louis VIII of France (fn. 27) and frequently undertook financial and diplomatic business for him. (fn. 28) Edward I appointed Prior Joseph de Chauncy as Treasurer of the kingdom (1273–80), (fn. 29) but in 1295 financial stringency encouraged the king to sequestrate the revenues of both the English and the Irish priories, although under pressure from the Pope he later restored them. (fn. 30) The subordination of the priory to the Crown began in the 14th century, when, as the sequel to the appointment of an alien prior, the king twice took the temporalities into his hands and compelled the newly-appointed prior to take the oath of fealty. (fn. 31) Philip de Thame, elected in 1335, secured from the king a formal recognition of the exemption of the Hospital from all such feudal obligations, (fn. 32) but they were in fact constantly reimposed and in the later Middle Ages it became normal procedure for newly-elected priors to perform fealty, although they always did so under protest. Obstacles were also frequently placed by the Crown in the way of the payment of responsions, and communication between the priory and the Convent suffered many interruptions.
The numbers and social status of the brethren at the different stages in the history of the priory are not easy to determine, although it is probable that the total was never large. The extent of 1338 (fn. 33) gives 119, of whom 34 can be identified as chaplains, 34 as knights, and 48 as servientes; the status of 3 others is unknown. There were in addition 4 donati. No mention is made of those resident in the Convent or of those still unprofessed. In general the English knights seem to have been recruited from the country gentry rather than from the aristocracy. Moreover, the same names recur from time to time, frequently place-names—often of property belonging to the Order—and they can safely be accepted as indicating a family relationship. (fn. 34)
After the dissolution of the Templars the English tongue was supposed to contribute 28 of the 200 men comprising the enlarged establishment at Rhodes. (fn. 35) Although, however, the numbers resident in the Convent were later increased on several occasions, and in 1514 reached a total of 550, the English contribution remained unchanged, and there is good reason to believe that it often fell below the prescribed total. There is no direct evidence of the toll taken by the several visitations of the plague in the 14th century, but it is significant that in 1361 the complement of clerks and chaplains at Clerkenwell was well below strength, (fn. 36) and that sixty years later only two or three brethren were resident there. (fn. 37) That a general decline in numbers had long been in progress is, moreover, strongly suggested by the fact that in the later Middle Ages the commanderies were frequently grouped together in twos and threes under the control of a single individual, (fn. 38) despite statutes to the contrary. While this can undoubtedly be ascribed in part to economic causes, it suggests also a shortage of men eligible for the rank of commander. The growing practice of leasing commanderies points in the same direction. (fn. 39)
In the later Middle Ages the priors sat in parliament as 'premier barons' of England, (fn. 40) and were members of the king's Council, (fn. 41) while from time to time they held ministerial and military office under the Crown. They were directly and disastrously involved in the civil disturbances of the 15th century, but recovered their social and political prestige, although not their independence, with the accession of the Tudors.
It was the loss of Rhodes in 1522 that first seriously shook the stability of the Order in England by enabling the king to bring pressure to bear both on the priory and on the Convent. He was popularly credited with a plan to 'nationalize' the priory and utilize the knights for the defence of Calais. A personal visit to England by the master, de Lisle Adam, in 1528 temporarily saved the situation, (fn. 42) but the raising next year of the 'great matter' of the king's divorce sealed the fate of the English priory. In 1538 Henry, as Supreme Head of the Church in England and Protector of the Order—a title first conferred by the master upon his predecessor—took over control of the English Hospital. He licensed the prior to receive English subjects to the habit, provided that they had previously taken the oath of allegiance. Brethren appointed to commanderies must obtain royal confirmation, and formally repudiate papal authority and jurisdiction. The first year's revenue in such cases was to go to the Crown; the second year's to the Convent, after deduction of the new tenth. The collection of alms, save by express royal warrant, was forbidden. Offences were to be dealt with in the first instance in provincial chapter, with right of appeal to the Crown. (fn. 43)
The King's demands were submitted to the general chapter in September 1540 and rejected. The master wrote to the King expressing the views of the general chapter, but the English tongue had already been dissolved by statute five months earlier on the ground that the brethren had 'sustained and maintained the usurped power of the Bishop of Rome . . . '. (fn. 44) The possessions of the priory, valued at some £2,385, were conferred on the Crown. This sum was exclusive of Clerkenwell itself but it included London rents worth £241 and an annual revenue of £163 from the Temple. (fn. 45) Pensions were awarded to the four Grand Crosses, and a total of 22 English knights, and four chaplains. (fn. 46) To Prior Weston was assigned the handsome sum of £1,000 a year, but he died on the very day of the dissolution. (fn. 47) Most of the brethren in England appear to have acquiesced without protest in the changed situation, and the sub-prior, John Mablestone, who had recently built himself new quarters at Clerkenwell, was even allowed to retain possession of them for life. (fn. 48) Four, perhaps five, ventured to oppose the King, and paid the penalty with their lives. (fn. 49)
Mary's accession in 1553 created a new and more promising situation. The Queen at once sent an agent to Malta to open negotiations for the restoration of the priories of England and Ireland. In April 1557 she authorized Cardinal Pole, as papal legate, to reinstate the Order, and restore it to such of its former possessions as had not been alienated. The next month he issued a decree restoring the priory at Clerkenwell and the bailiwick of Eagle, with eight of the former commanderies. (fn. 50) Richard Shelley became Turcopolier and Thomas Tresham prior. (fn. 51) Neither had been professed before their appointment as Grand Crosses, but a number of Henrician knights who had been pensioned in 1540 now rejoined the Order. The death of Mary in 1558, however, meant the end of the high hopes raised by the Catholic restoration. Elizabeth I's accession was followed promptly by the confiscation of the property of the reconstituted priory, (fn. 52) although a dwindling number of knights remained in Malta until the final extinction of the English tongue in 1631.
The hospital's house at Clerkenwell appears to have been founded some time in the reign of Stephen. Rejecting earlier theories, J. H. Round showed that the founder was Jordan de Bricet, younger son of Ralph fitz Brian, a tenant of the Bishop of London and of the honor of Peverel. (fn. 53) Jordan married Muriel de Monteny, a member of the prominent Essex family, from whom he probably obtained his land. The documents relevant to the foundation of Clerkenwell are two deeds preserved in the cartulary of St. Mary's, Clerkenwell, of which Jordan was also the founder. In the first (c. 1148) Walter, 'prior of the brothers of the hospital who are in England', quitclaimed to the nuns his rights in the ten acres of land in dispute between them, in return for the grant to him of five acres by Jordan, 'dominus eiusdem fundi'. (fn. 54) In the second (1184–5) Arnold, Prior of Saint-Gilles (Gard) upon which the English priory was then dependent, ratified Walter's act. (fn. 55)
Clerkenwell was a commandery; it was also the headquarters of the Order in England and the residence of the prior, a combination which complicates the task of unravelling its particular history. The prior occupied private quarters in the close, and in the early 14th century received an allowance of 20s. a day except on the 121 days when he was supposed to be on visitation and in receipt of a similar sum as procurations. (fn. 56) In the later Middle Ages he was also assigned an 'appanage', comprising a group of commanderies, of which Clerkenwell was one, together with their 'members' and a number of appropriated churches. (fn. 57) An annual sum was allotted him for the robes of his household and dependants. (fn. 58)
He was assisted in the work of administration by the provincial chapter, which met annually at Clerkenwell or Melchbourne (Beds.) usually about the feast of St. Barnabas (11 June) (fn. 59) or the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (24 June). (fn. 60) A provincial chapter held at Melchbourne in 1328 is described as composed of 'commanders, proctors and syndics', but the only commanders named are those from Ansty (Wilts.), Clerkenwell, Dinmore (Herefs.), Hogshaw (Bucks.) and Stavely (Derb.). (fn. 61) In 1338 one hundred and twenty marks were allowed for the expenses of the chapter held on the feast of St. Barnabas, and the 'assembly' held at the end of Lent. (fn. 62) The chapter which met at Clerkenwell in 1417 to elect the new commander of Buckland (Minchin Buckland or Buckland Sororum, Som.) included, besides the prior, the sub-prior, thirteen commanders, and five other brethren. (fn. 63) The weekly chapters originally held in the individual houses seem to have fallen into abeyance with the decline in the number of the brethren in the later Middle Ages, but the custom may have survived at Clerkenwell, where some kind of community life was probably maintained until the end.
The financial affairs of the priory were normally in the hands of the treasurer, an official who often played an important role in the affairs of the kingdom, as well as of the Order, since, especially in the 13th century, the treasury had frequently to provide safe custody for the jewels and treasure of the king. (fn. 64) Robert the treasurer who was prior between 1204 and 1214 had previously been 'treasurer of the Hospital in England'. (fn. 65) Gilbert the treasurer, who appears in 1226, (fn. 66) certainly held that office, and so did Benet, who occurs in 1232. (fn. 67) In 1269 Stephen de Fulbourne seems to have doubled the roles of commander of Clerkenwell and treasurer, (fn. 68) as did an unnamed brother who is mentioned with Prior Hanley in 1286; (fn. 69) but in the early 14th century, which was a time of grave financial crisis, supreme control appears to have been exercised by the prior, (fn. 70) and the treasurership to have been temporarily in abeyance. (fn. 71)
The only reasonably full description we possess of the composition and organization of the medieval community at Clerkenwell is that provided by the extent made in 1338 by Prior Philip de Thame for the information of the master. (fn. 72) The head of the house was the commander. Next in rank was the prior of the church, commonly called the sub-prior to distinguish him from the Prior of England. He controlled the clergy, who in 1338 included three brother-chaplains, ten secular priests, a deacon, a sub-deacon, two chaplains serving newly-founded chantries, and a third ministering in a quasi-parochial capacity in the chapel assigned to the use of the lay members of the household. The secular chaplains were paid by the sub-prior from the issues of a church specially appropriated for the purpose. Since most of them served chantries, their numbers increased as new foundations were made. In 1242, for instance, three were added in pursuance of bequests by Andrew Bukerell (Mayor of London, 1231–7) and Peter de Elilond, bringing their number to seven. (fn. 73) In 1361 the master reminded the prior that there should be at least fifteen secular chaplains, as well as a number of clerks, on the establishment. (fn. 74) Some of the latter, like the deacon and sub-deacon in the extent, would no doubt be ordained to the title of the priory church, while others filled various administrative posts. In 1338 three were employed in collecting the frarie, and one, with two garciones, assisted Master William de Whiteby, who is described as procurator generalis privilegiorum of the priory. (fn. 75) A serviens acted as general proctor to the hospital, assisted by a clerk who represented the interests of the brethren in the Exchequer, and an attorney who was 'continually present' on their behalf in the Common Pleas. One of the brothers filled the office of cellarer (claviger) to the community. A knight, William Brex, who had earlier been commander of Yeaveley (Derb.) and had been granted for life the camera of Harefield (Mdx.), but is not otherwise described in 1338, brought the total of the professed members of the Order resident in Clerkenwell up to seven. (fn. 76)
The resident lay servants of the house (liberi servientes, servientes officii) included two serving in the store-room (dispensa), a porter, a cook, a brewer, and the chamberlain of the commander, all of whom were entitled to robes and wages. Of lesser rank were the two millers, a 'killeman', a bolter, a groom, a door-keeper, kitchen-boy, and a washerwoman, who received a daily livery and an annual stipend. Meals were taken in common in the great hall of the priory; but a careful distinction was drawn between the mensa conventus or mensa fratrum; the mensa liberorum servientium at which the upper servants ate; and the mensa garcionum or 'Danysbord'. The numerous corrodarians were normally entitled to eat at the mensa fratrum, or to receive the equivalent allowance of food and drink, if unable for any reason to take their meals in hall. The women and married couples who were included among them were usually supplied for private consumption with an allowance of bread and ale. They included superannuated servants of the hospital and of the king, but also many lay persons who had given land or money on condition that they should be provided by the brethren with bed and board for life. The provision made for them varied with the amount of their 'investment'. The most lavish was that made for William Langford, who had served as steward under three successive priors during the financial crisis of the early 14th century, and undoubtedly merited the title bestowed on him by the brethren, 'servitor religionis nostre precipuus'. (fn. 77)
Clerkenwell was near enough to the court and the centre of government to be favoured with frequent visits from the king and the magnates, distinguished foreign visitors, and royal officials. It had also to keep open house for brethren in, or passing through, London on business, and for agents of the master crossing to England on the affairs of the Order. In 1185 it was at Clerkenwell that a council of magnates met to consider a reply to the appeal of the Patriarch of Jerusalem for support for the Latin Kingdom. In 1212, although excommunicate, John spent March at Clerkenwell, and knighted the heir to the King of Scots there on Easter Day. (fn. 78) Henry of Lancaster was a guest for the fortnight preceding his coronation in 1399 (fn. 79) and the Emperor Manuel was entertained there on his visit to England in 1400. (fn. 80) The Turcopolier's frequent visits were a constant drain on the resources of the priory, as well as a source of irritation to the prior; and in 1440 Prior Botyll, while recognizing his right and that of all commanders to hospitality, required them to contribute to the cost of their maintenance. The Turcopolier was assigned special quarters 'in parte vocata turcoplerisside', with stabling, hay, and straw for one horse, but was to pay for his keep and for that of his servants and grooms. Commanders were charged for their board and for that of their servants. A commander wishing to provide his own accommodation was to be offered a site, and supplied with timber for building purposes.
Hospitality to wayfarers in all houses of the Order was placed under the supervision of a 'wise and discreet knight'. (fn. 81) Nothing is known of any such supervisors at Clerkenwell but in the 16th century 20s. a week was expended on alms bestowed at the door and in the hall of the priory, ex antiqua fundacione et consuetudine accustumata, besides 6s. 8d. given to the poor on Prior Docwra's anniversary, and £4 4s. 5d. distributed on Maundy Thursday in money, food, woollen and linen clothing, and shoes among thirteen poor persons. (fn. 82)
The plan of the hospital cannot be reconstructed with any certainty, since few traces of the buildings remain. (fn. 83) It was probably roughly rectangular, the boundary wall of the precinct running east from the gate-house to St. John's Street, then north almost to the corner of Aylesbury Street, where it turned west to Clerkenwell Green. Loseley's 'Survey of Lead', (fn. 84) compiled at the time of the Dissolution, mentions besides the church with its two chapels, Docwra's chantry, vestry, and 'steeple', the gate-house, the 'priests' dorter' (which has been identified with the dormitory of the knights, but which was much more likely the sleeping quarters of the secular priests attached to the priory); the 'yeoman's dorter' (possibly where the liberi servientes slept); the armoury, distillery, and counting-house; 'my lord's chamber' and other 'chambers' (many probably formerly occupied by lay corrodarians); the great chamber door and the great stairs; and the hall, the length of which is given as 105 ft. In 1546 there are mentioned the church and burial ground, three gardens, an orchard with a fishpond—traces of which have been discovered—the sub-prior's lodging and garden, the 'schoolhouse' adjoining it, the great and little courts, the Turcopolier's garden, the wood-yard, the slaughter-house, plumber's house, woolhouse, laundry, counting-house, the porter's house, and the gate-house, with the conduits, water pipes, and springs, (fn. 85) which were supplied by leaden pipes running from the meadows at Barnsbury known as 'Commandry Mantells'. None of the buildings can be precisely located, but it is probable that the main block, including the prior's lodging, lay immediately north of the choir of the church. In St. John's Lane lay the house of the bailiff of Eagle, and on the west side of the river Fleet were the two water-mills belonging to the priory.
The first church, which had a round nave, was consecrated by the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1185. (fn. 86) During the next hundred years a number of additions and extensions were made to it. Prior Joseph de Chauncy built the prior's chapel before 1280 (fn. 87) and his successor, William de Hanley (c. 1281–90), left as his memorial the cloisters on the south side of the church. (fn. 88) In 1381 the whole priory was sacked and set on fire and, according to Stow, burnt for three days. (fn. 89) It is not clear how soon the devastation was repaired. Clapham considered that most of the buildings shown in Hollar's drawings, published in 1661, suggested the 15th century, (fn. 90) but under Priors Redington (1381–95) and Grendon (1396–1417) the work must have made considerable progress, since Henry of Lancaster stayed in the priory in 1399. (fn. 91) Redington was probably responsible for rebuilding the church, in which the original round nave was replaced by a rectangular one with three aisles; but it is possible that the great tower at the west end of the north aisle, so much admired by Stow, was begun by Prior Weston (1476–89) or Prior Kendal (1490–1501) and completed by Prior Docwra (1502–27), or at least embellished by him. (fn. 92) Docwra was certainly responsible for many improvements and for new work, including the great gate-house which is still in situ. (fn. 93) There are several references to the chapter-house in 15th-century Close Rolls. (fn. 94) In 1439 Prior Robert Mallory dedicated a chapel at Clerkenwell to St. Catherine, St. Margaret, and St. Ursula. (fn. 95) The ecclesiastical ornaments and other goods belonging to the church had been carried off by the rebels in 1381. They were, however, recovered by the Crown and restored by Richard II to the prior in 1393. (fn. 96) It may have been Prior Mallory who presented the church with a fine silver processional cross, (fn. 97) now in the possession of the English Order of St. John at Clerkenwell Gate. Later, Prior John Weston (1476–91) presented a triptych of Flemish workmanship, of which two panels still survive. (fn. 98)
In 1546 the Crown granted the site of the Hospital to John Dudley, Viscount Lisle, later Duke of Northumberland. Under Edward VI the nave of the church and the great tower were blown up to provide material for Somerset's house in the Strand; but the buildings were granted, in accordance with the will of Henry VIII, to the Princess Mary, and so could be restored to the Order in 1557. (fn. 99) In Elizabeth I's reign the priory became the headquarters of Edmund Tylney, Master of the Revels. (fn. 100) Later it came into the possession of William Cecil, Lord Burghley, and passed from him to the Earl of Aylesbury. (fn. 101)
In considering the landed endowments of the English Hospital, it is necessary to distinguish those belonging to the priory as a whole, and thus subject to the general supervision of the prior, and those held by him as his appanage, from those belonging immediately to the commandery of Clerkenwell. The greatest single accession of territory by the priory as a whole followed the suppression of the Templars in 1311, when, by order of the Pope, all the possessions of the suppressed Order were transferred to the Hospitallers. (fn. 102) The enforcement of their claim cost the priory dear, however, and, combined with the financial stringency caused by the loss of Rhodes and the administrative inefficiency of Prior l'Archer (1321–9), resulted in an acute financial crisis in the twenties and thirties of the 14th century. The sequel was the compilation in 1338 by order of Prior Philip de Thame (1335–53) for the information of the master, of the extent, already referred to, which remains the most important single source for the history of the Order in England. (fn. 103) In it the income of the Clerkenwell commandery is estimated at £400 a year. (fn. 104) This comprised, in addition to the revenue from Clerkenwell itself, property in Middlesex at Cranford, Edgware, Friern Barnet, Hackney, Hampstead, Hampton, Harefield, Harrow, Hendon, Kingsbury, and 'le Boys' (? Edgware); as well as at St. John's Wood (? the Lokeswode of the 1338 return) (fn. 105) and Ficketts Fields, (fn. 106) and from lands and tenements at Wycombe (Bucks.), Chingford, Ingatestone, Rainham, and West Hanningfield (Essex), Broxbourne (Herts.), North Ash (Kent), Addington and Merrow (Surr.), Sodington (Worcs.) and elsewhere, together with the income from appropriated churches at Bisham (Berks.), Roydon and Thurrock (Essex), Standon (Herts.), and Rodmersham (Kent), and from five mills. The frarie in London, Middlesex, and Surrey contributed an estimated total of 40 marks a year.
Commanders of Clerkenwell
Stephen de Fulbourne, occurs 1268 (fn. 107)
Thomas de Enderby, occurs 1297 (fn. 108)
Robert de Somerdeby, occurs 1328 (fn. 109)
Alan Macy, occurs 1338 (fn. 110)
Nicholas de Hales, occurs 1351 (fn. 111)
Occur together 1469,
1470; (fn. 112) Lumley occurs
1473 (fn. 113)
Priors of England (fn. 114)
Walter, occurs from 1142 (fn. 115) to 1162 (fn. 116)
Richard de Turk, occurs before 1173 (fn. 117)
Ralph de Dive, occurs 1178 (fn. 118)
Garnier de Nablus, occurs from c. 1184 to c. 1190 (fn. 119)
Alan de St. Cross, occurs 1190, (fn. 120) 1195 (fn. 121)
Gilbert de Vere, occurs 1195 (fn. 122)
William de Villiers, occurs c. 1199, (fn. 123) 1202 (fn. 124)
Robert the treasurer, c. 1204–c. 1214 (fn. 125)
Henry of Arundel, occurs 1215, (fn. 126) 1216 (fn. 127)
Hugh d'Aunay, occurs c. 1216–1222 (fn. 128)
Robert de Dive, occurs from 1223 to 1234 (fn. 129)
Thierry de Nussa, occurs from 1235 to 1246 (fn. 130)
Robert de Manby, occurs 1249 (fn. 131)
Elias de Smetherton, admitted 1253; (fn. 132) occurs 1256 (fn. 133)
Robert de Manby, occurs from 1257 (fn. 134) to 1265 (fn. 135)
Roger de Vere, occurs from 1267 (fn. 136) to 1272 (fn. 137)
Joseph de Chauncy, occurs 1273, (fn. 138) to 1280 (fn. 139)
William de Hanley, occurs from 1281, (fn. 140) to 1290 (fn. 141)
Peter de Hagham, occurs from 1293 (fn. 142) to 1297 (fn. 143)
William de Tothale, occurs from 1297 (fn. 144) to 1315 (fn. 145)
Richard de Pavely, occurs 1315 (fn. 146)
Thomas l'Archer, occurs from 1321 (fn. 147) to 1329 (fn. 148)
Leonard de Tibertis, appointed 1330; (fn. 149) died 1334 (fn. 150)
Philip de Thame, occurs from 1335 (fn. 151) to 1353 (fn. 152)
John de Pavely, occurs 1354 (fn. 153)
Robert de Hales, occurs 1372; (fn. 154) slain 1381 (fn. 155)
John de Redington, occurs 1381, (fn. 156) 1395 (fn. 157)
Walter Grendon, occurs 1396 (fn. 158)
William Hulles, appointment confirmed 1417; (fn. 159) dead by 1433 (fn. 160)
Robert Mallory, occurs 1435, (fn. 161) 1439 (fn. 162)
Robert Botyll, occurs 1444, (fn. 163) 1467 (fn. 164)
John Langstrother, appointment confirmed 1468; (fn. 165) executed 1471 (fn. 166)
William Tournay, occurs 1472, (fn. 167) 1473 (fn. 168)
Robert Multon, occurs from 1473 (fn. 169) to 1475 (fn. 170)
John Weston, 1476 (fn. 171) –89 (fn. 172)
John Kendal, occurs 1490; (fn. 173) died 1501 (fn. 174)
Thomas Docwra, 1502 (fn. 175) –27 (fn. 176)
William Weston, 1527 (fn. 177) –40 (fn. 178)
[Thomas Tresham, appointed 1557; (fn. 179) died 1559] (fn. 180)
No impression of a common seal is known to survive. The seal ad causas is a pointed oval, 3 in. by 15/8 in., and shows St. John the Baptist standing under a canopy pointing with his right hand to the Paschal Lamb supported on his left arm. (fn. 181) Legend, lombardic:
10. THE PRIORY OF HARMONDSWORTH
In 1069 William the Conqueror gave the land and church of Harmondsworth to the Benedictine Abbey of Sainte-Trinité du Mont, by Rouen, afterwards known as St. Catherine's. (fn. 185) In 1086 the abbey held this manor of the king in chief. (fn. 186) Two years later a priory dependent on this abbey was founded at Blyth (Notts.). This house became a conventual priory and owing to its size escaped dissolution in 1414, surviving until 1536. (fn. 187) Blyth was not entrusted with the administration of the rest of the abbey's property in England, and no doubt a cell, consisting of a prior with one monk as his companion, was very soon established at Harmondsworth for this purpose, although no mention of a prior has been found until 1211. (fn. 188) This property was soon widely scattered. About 1090 Ilbert de Lacy and his wife gave their manor at Tingewick (Bucks.) with the land, waters, meadows, and wood belonging to it to the Abbey of Holy Trinity and the priors of Harmondsworth were often called lords of the manor of Tingewick. (fn. 189) In 1209 Gilbert de Finemere quitclaimed to the abbey his right in the manor of Tingewick, and Richard de Cruce his rights in Harmondsworth. (fn. 190) The rectory and demesne of Saham Toney (Norf.) with rents and services were given to the abbey in John's reign. (fn. 191) Later the abbey acquired the church of St. Leonard's by Hastings (Suss.) and it was attached to Harmondsworth. (fn. 192) In 1246 both this abbey and the priory of Bradenstoke (Wilts.) claimed the patronage of the church of Easton (Wilts.), but St. Catherine's, which said that the church was a gift from Anselm, Earl of Pembroke, who had died in the previous year, failed to establish its right. (fn. 193) Eudes Rigaud, the indefatigable Archbishop of Rouen, carried out several visitations of St. Catherine's Abbey in the years 1265–8. Each time he found that the abbey had about 30 monks at Rouen, 14 at Blyth, and 2 at Harmondsworth. He had no faults to find, but suggested that the abbot should visit his priories more often, a suggestion which he also made to other abbots. (fn. 194)
Like other landlords the abbey began to have trouble with its tenants in the 13th century. In 1233 the abbey experienced difficulties in exacting customary dues from its free tenants in Harmondsworth. (fn. 195) In 1275 the tenants impleaded the prior that he should not exact from them customs and services other than those which were due when the manor was held by the Crown. (fn. 196) Next year one Richard le Taylor, probably one of the abbey's tenants, was killed at Harmondsworth, whereupon the manor and that of Tingewick were taken into the king's hands. The manors were restored to John de Walemond, the prior, as proctor of the Abbot of St. Catherine's, for a fine of £20. (fn. 197) The abbey was pardoned this fine, or a similar one, in 1280. (fn. 198) While the manors were in the king's hands certain muniments were stolen by the tenants, (fn. 199) but despite the loss of his records the prior apparently won his case, being able to show from Domesday Book that the manor was not ancient demesne, and quoting the rolls of William de Raleigh, a justice of Henry III, to show that the tenants could be tallaged at will by the abbot. (fn. 200) The public record had triumphed. The Domesday entry was so important to the abbey that in 1341 the prior paid for an exemplification of it, a copy which still survives among the muniments of Winchester College. (fn. 201) But the tenants still held the prior's own records, and threatened to burn him in his house. Apparently they defied the sheriff's attempt to carry out the judgement of the royal courts. (fn. 202) In 1279 the next prior, Richard, was complaining of similar troubles at Tingewick, (fn. 203) and in 1281 twelve persons, including the widow of Richard le Taylor, were in gaol, charged with burning the houses of the priory at Harmondsworth. (fn. 204) Perhaps it is not surprising to find that the prior had incurred several heavy debts. (fn. 205)
The Abbot of St. Catherine's secured a confirmation in 1285 of a charter of Henry II granting the abbey all liberties and free customs in its possessions, which were not specified. (fn. 206) No doubt the confirmation was a precaution following the troubles of the previous decade, and it was to be used nearly a century later in 1372, when the prior was accused of failing to distribute a weekly dole of bread to the poor. It was alleged that he was bound to do this under the terms of the original grant of the church and land at Harmondsworth, but he produced the charter to show that he held in free alms. (fn. 207)
In 1291 the goods of St. Catherine's at Harmondsworth were valued at £48 and the church at £20, while the rents and mill at Tingewick were valued at £15 10s. and the church there at £7. (fn. 208) Three years later when Edward I seized alien priory lands in consequence of the French war the manor of Harmondsworth was valued at over £60. Of this sum more than one-third came from rents and services, a little under one-third from tithes, and the remainder from the profits of the demesne, the court, and two water-mills. At the same time the stock, including the prior's palfrey, the farm animals, and the furnishings of the priory were valued at £25. Tingewick manor was said to be worth £25, made up of £16 for the annual value and £9 for the stock. (fn. 209) Under Edward II the priory was again taken into the king's hands, and restored to the prior in 1324, when a detailed inventory of its stock and goods was again made. There was a large store of grain, some thirty head of cattle, a few pigs, and an assortment of poultry. Inside the priory were the bare necessities for the lives of the monks: two beds, three tables, chests, cloths, silver vessels, two cups, pewter pots, a wash-basin, fire-dogs, a pestle and mortar, and other utensils. (fn. 210) An inquisition of 1340 found that the manor of Harmondsworth was worth nearly £26 a year, the church £20, and Tingewick £8—perhaps an example of the tendency of such inquisitions to undervalue. (fn. 211) There is a note of about the same date of the names of deceased tenants from whom the prior should have heriots. (fn. 212)
In the 14th century all alien priories were constantly taken into the king's hands on account of the war with France. The priors of Harmondsworth seem to have retained control by paying a rent to the Crown, which remained unchanged at the very high figure of £80 a year from 1338 to 1369, and was then reduced to 80 marks. (fn. 213) The king, however, usually kept the advowsons belonging to the priory in his own hands, presenting at various times to Harmondsworth, Tingewick, St. Leonard's by Hastings, and Saham Toney. (fn. 214)
The last prior was Robert Beauchamp, who held the office for almost forty years from March 1352. In 1371 there was at least one other monk, John Hawnsevyll. (fn. 215) In 1390 William of Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester, secured both papal and royal authority to acquire the lands of alien priories for his colleges, (fn. 216) and in the following year he obtained from Richard II a licence for St. Catherine's Abbey to sell him all its possessions in England, apart from the Priory of Blyth. These possessions comprised the manor of Harmondsworth with the advowson of the church and vicarage, the manor of Tingewick with its advowson, the advowsons of Saham Toney and St. Leonard's, and certain yearly pensions. (fn. 217) Meanwhile Wykeham sent a member of his household, Richard Altryncham, to Rouen to negotiate with the abbey. The sale was agreed, the price being fixed at 8,400 gold francs, which were paid in 1392 through a firm of Genoese bankers. The bishop also undertook to provide for Robert Beauchamp and for John le Cellier, his companion, all such things in the way of wine, food, clothing, and lodging as befitted religious of their estate for the rest of their lives. He would also furnish a chapel for the abbey. (fn. 218) The property became part of the endowment of his two colleges at Winchester and Oxford. (fn. 219) The priory stood to the west of Manor Farm and the tithe barn. (fn. 220)
PRIORS OF HARMONDSWORTH
William, occurs 1260 (fn. 221)
John de Walemond, occurs 1276 (fn. 222)
Richard, occurs 1279 (fn. 223)
William, occurs 1297 (fn. 224)
Humphrey le Conte-Poyntour, occurs 1317 (fn. 225)
John de Fraunkevyle, occurs 1321 (fn. 226)
William de Pestlamore, occurs 1329 (fn. 227)
Roger Sorel, occurs 1342, 1345; recently dead in 1351 (fn. 228)
John Cibe, occurs 1351 (fn. 229)
Robert Beauchamp, occurs 1352; 'late prior' in 1392 (fn. 230)
11. THE PRIORY OF RUISLIP
The manor of Ruislip was given to the Abbey of Bec by Ernulf de Hesdin shortly after the making of Domesday Book, and his gift was confirmed in a general charter granted by William I between June 1086 and September 1087. (fn. 231) No conventual priory was ever founded there. The bull issued by Lucius III in 1144, which contains a general confirmation of English property, lists Ruislip among the manors of Bec and does not describe it, like St. John of Clare, St. Neots, and Goldcliff, as a priory, (fn. 232) and it was still classed as a manor in another confirmation of Honorius III in 1223. (fn. 233) It became, however, an important administrative centre for the English lands of the abbey, and for a time in the late 12th and early 13th centuries a prior and probably one companion were sent out from the mother house to form a tiny cell. (fn. 234) A Prior of Ruislip is first named towards the end of Henry II's reign; (fn. 235) he acted as representative of the abbot, presenting to churches in his gift, (fn. 236) and frequently acting as attorney in legal proceedings. Between 1200 and 1230 priors of Ruislip appeared in suits concerning land and rights in Ardleigh (Essex), (fn. 237) Knotting (Beds.), (fn. 238) Milborne (Dors.), (fn. 239) Blakenham (Suff.), (fn. 240) Ruislip, (fn. 241) Steventon (Berks.), (fn. 242) Weedon (Northants.), (fn. 243) Atherstone (Warws.), (fn. 244) and Swyncombe (Oxon.). (fn. 245) Other representatives also acted from time to time on the abbot's behalf; in the late 12th century various monks of Bec are mentioned without ascription to any particular cell, and from 1206 the Prior of Ogbourne (Wilts.) appears in the public records as a proctor of growing importance. For a time the priors of Ogbourne and Ruislip acted together and shared the administration of all the estates of Bec directly dependent on the abbey and not assigned for the support of any one of its subject priories. (fn. 246) When John seized the goods of the abbey after the death of Abbot William in 1211 the priors of Ogbourne and Ruislip jointly offered a fine of 700 marks to have custody of the lands and churches belonging to their priories. (fn. 247) Royal protection was issued to the two priors jointly in 1234, (fn. 248) and when the Prelates' Aid of 1235–6 was collected the Prior of Ogbourne paid 50 marks for himself and the Prior of Ruislip. (fn. 249)
The English property of the Abbey of Bec included 24 manors widely scattered over southern and eastern England, and a very great number of tithes. (fn. 250) During the early part of the 13th century there seems to have been a rough grouping of manors so that dues were collected at both Ruislip and Ogbourne. According to a custumal made in the mid-13th century the Prior of Ruislip then received, amongst other dues, 20 marks for the tithes of Chaureth (Broxted parish, Essex), 6 marks for the manor of Broughton (Bucks.), 22s. for tithes of Westcliff-by-Dover (Kent), 44 marks from the Abbot of Cleeve (Som.) for the prebend of Cleeve, 25 marks for the tithes of Glynde (Suss.), and 14 marks from the Prior of Wilsford (Lines.) for the farm of Hykeham (Lines.). (fn. 251) The same custumal shows that carrying services from manors as far away as Swyncombe (Oxon.) and East Wretham (Norf.) might be to Ruislip. (fn. 252) But already by this date the abbots of Bec were reducing the number of their monks charged with administrative duties in England. Their motives seem to have included concern for discipline in the cells; in 1210 Abbot William sought and obtained from Innocent III permission to recall the two or three monks settled in any cell where the Rule was not properly observed and to unite its lands with those of another cell. (fn. 253) He does not seem to have availed himself of this permission immediately in England, but there is no evidence that a separate Prior of Ruislip was ever appointed after 1236. Temporal considerations also prompted the centralizing of administration in the hands of a single man; increased litigation made the appointment of separate attorneys in every suit inconvenient, and in 1225 a proctor-general of the Abbot of Bec is mentioned for the first time. (fn. 254) In February 1242 brother William de Guineville, proctor-general of the abbot, was admitted as general attorney in all suits concerning the abbey's lands and rights in England; (fn. 255) he was plainly a man of energy and organizing ability, and there is no doubt that during his term of office the amalgamation of the 'priories' of Ogbourne and Ruislip became complete. His normal title was 'Prior' or 'Proctor' of Ogbourne, (fn. 256) but he was called 'Proctor of Ruislip' in one charter concerning land in Swyncombe; (fn. 257) and this ambiguity of title persisted into the time of a later Proctor of Ogbourne, Richard de Flammaville, who was described in one judgement of 1259 as 'Prior of Ruislip'. (fn. 258) Thereafter the English proctor of the Abbot of Bec was normally known as Prior of Ogbourne.
Ruislip manor, however, remained an important administrative centre, and the Prior of Ogbourne frequently resided there. Its size, wealth, and proximity to London no doubt helped to account for its importance. Of the 907 acres in demesne in 1294, 675 acres, comprising nearly three-quarters of the total, were under cultivation. (fn. 259) The land appears to have been fertile and was exploited for market production as well as the support of a large household. London provided an additional and attractive market, where both corn (fn. 260) and timber (fn. 261) might be sold. During the 13th century cultivation increased: the demesne was enlarged, and peasant assarting took place in the wooded region round the park. (fn. 262) Active exploitation of the demesne with a large paid labour force (fn. 263) continued well into the 14th century, (fn. 264) and after it ceased to be a monastic cell Ruislip retained many of the features of a prosperous home farm in a good marketing region. At no time had it any conventual buildings. An inventory made in 1294 mentions a chapel in the manor-house; (fn. 265) another inventory of 1435 shows that the house was a spacious one, containing a hall, chamber, countinghouse, prior's chamber, lord's chamber, forester's chamber, and chapel, as well as bakehouse and scullery. (fn. 266) The site of this building was possibly on the lawn of the present Manor Farm at Ruislip, where early masonry has been dug up. (fn. 267) Other evidence from an earlier period suggests that it supported a sizable household. The food supplies sent to the larder in 1289–90 included 20 cattle, 22 sheep, 36 roebuck, and 418 quarters of wheat for bread; (fn. 268) among the servants named in 1294 were a mace-bearer, a door-keeper, a cook, a baker, a gardener, and a carpenter. (fn. 269) Table silver to the value of £17 9s. and two beds worth £2 were mentioned in an inventory of 1324, and at the same date the account of the guardians of alien property in Middlesex for the nine weeks they had held the manor shows that the Prior of Ogbourne and his companion monk, with their horses and grooms, had resided at Ruislip throughout that period. (fn. 270) Towards the end of the 14th century the audit of manorial accounts from the Abbot of Bec's property seems to have been held at Ruislip. (fn. 271) Up to that date the economic evidence suggests that it remained a centre of administrative importance, and may well have been the normal residence of the Proctor of Ogbourne when he was not travelling about the country attending to his numerous duties. When in the early 15th century the demesne began to pass into the hands of the peasantry (fn. 272) this is a sign that the function of the manor had changed, and it was ceasing to be an important centre even as an estate office.
After the death of the last Prior of Ogbourne in 1404 the dispersal of the manors of Bec in England began, and Ruislip was one of the group that ultimately made up the endowment of St. Nicolas (later King's) College, Cambridge. (fn. 273) John, Duke of Bedford, enjoyed the custody of all the manors until his death in 1435; in 1437 Ruislip, then worth £60 yearly, was assigned to John Somerset for life. (fn. 274) A year later, however, the king granted the reversion of the manor to the chancellor, masters, and scholars of the University of Cambridge; (fn. 275) and finally on 12 February 1441, with their consent, it was regranted to the rector and scholars of the king's new foundation, St. Nicolas College. (fn. 276) In spite of disturbances to the endowment after the deposition of Henry VI, Ruislip was regranted to the provost and scholars of the College by Edward IV, and remained thereafter in their possession. (fn. 277) It is noteworthy that although the royal letters patent granting the properties sometimes refer to the 'manor or priory of Ogbourne' Ruislip is never, at this date, called anything except a manor.