A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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44. THE COLLEGE OF IRTHLINGBOROUGH
In 1353 Sir Simon de Drayton conveyed his manor in Irthlingborough to John Pyel, citizen and mercer of London, (fn. 1) who, a few years later, became possessed of other property in the neighbouring lordships of Cransley, Sudborough, and at Woodford, where he purchased a moiety of the manor and the advowson of the church. (fn. 2) In 1371 John Pyel was appointed one of the commissioners to Flanders for redressing the grievances of the English merchants, (fn. 3) and in the following year he became Lord Mayor of London. In 1375 he obtained a royal licence to found in the church of St. Peter, Irthlingborough, a college for six secular canons—one of whom should be dean—and four clerks, (fn. 4) but died before his intention was actually carried out. The design was eventually accomplished by his widow, Joan, in 1388. (fn. 5)
The letters patent, for which Joan paid a fee of twenty marks, provided that the abbot and convent of Peterborough, patrons of the rectory of St. Peter's, should have alternate patronage with the heirs of the founders to both canonries and clerkships. The scheme was not to come into operation until the death or resignation of the then rector.
The Lincoln registers supply the names of the successive deans of Irthlingborough; the other canons and clerks do not appear to have received episcopal institution.
In a Peterborough register the presentation by the abbey of Thomas Othemoor to an Irthlingborough canonry is entered, under date 8 June, 1410, hac vice spectante. (fn. 6) In the same volume the receipt of the pension of 13s. 4d. from Dean Martefield is recorded in February, 1411; (fn. 7) whilst under the year 1416 a full account is entered of the ordination of the college of St. Peter, Irthlingborough, with the statutes pertaining to the election of the dean, canons, and clerks. (fn. 8)
On 29 August, 1534, William Stokes, dean, Henry Bird, and four other canons, signified under their common seal submission to the king's supremacy. (fn. 9)
The Valor of 1535 testifies that the college was in receipt of rents from Irthlingborough, Wellingborough, Finedon, and Northampton, to the extent of £17 16s. 10½d., and £36 from the rectory of St. Peter's, Irthlingborough. In addition to this it received rents from the parish of St. Martin's-juxta-Ludgate, London, of £17, giving a total income of £70 16s. 10½d. Its outgoings included a pension to the bishop of Lincoln of 13s. 4d.; to the archdeacon of Northampton of 3s. 4d., and to the abbot of Peterborough of 33s. 4d., and 10s. 7d. for procuration and synodals to the archdeacon. Amongst London outgoings was the sum of 5s. to the churchwardens of St. Martin's. The salary of William Stokes, the dean, was £13 6s. 8d., whilst Giles Cowper, Robert More, Henry Birch, John Halesworth, and William Francis, chaplains and fellows, each received £8. Henry Birch also received an additional salary of 13s. 4d. for celebrating the divine offices and administering the sacraments to the parishioners. Twenty-five shillings were annually distributed in pence to the poor of Irthlingborough on the obit or anniversary of Sir Thomas Pyel, in accordance with the 23rd chapter of the college statutes. Two clerks of the college (the number had been reduced from the original four) each received £4 3s. 4d. The cost of the wax and oil for use in the church the previous year was 10s.; and 8s. 11d. had been spent at the obit of Sir Thomas Cheney. There was a balance in hand of 3s. 0½d. (fn. 10)
The certificate of Henry VIII. states that the college of St. Peter's was founded to find a dean or master and five canons, and 'to kepe hospitalite'; that the college church was the parish church of Irthlingborough, and served by one of the canons; that its annual value was £73 4s. 10d.; that the king's tenths were £6 9s. 3½d.; rents 61s. 1d.; the master's stipend £13 6s. 8d.; the five canons £46 13s. 4d.; the organ player £4; and steward's fees 53s. 4d., leaving a balance of 56s. 10½d. The value of the goods and chattels was estimated at £6 13s. 4d. (fn. 11)
On the suppression of the college, William Alcoke and the other canons were granted yearly pensions of £6, Alcoke's services being also retained as vicar. This pension Alcoke and three others were still drawing in 1553. (fn. 12)
Deans of Irthlingborough (fn. 13)
Richard Frysseby, died 1400 (fn. 14)
Richard Martefield of Frisby, occurs 1410 (fn. 15)
Thomas More, instituted 1415
Richard Lynne, instituted 1453
John Townesende, instituted 1483
Roger Tockett, LL.B. instituted 1490
William Rawlyns, instituted 1491
John Wyseberde, instituted 1494
Giles Cowper, instituted 1509
William Taillard, LL.D., instituted 1518
Richard Stocks, S.T.B., instituted 1519
William Lane, LL.B. instituted 1526
William Stokes, instituted 1528
William Alcoke, instituted 1537
Pointed oval seal of the fifteenth century taken from cast at the British Museum represents a saint seated with defaced emblems in a canopied niche. An ivy leaf in base.
Legend defaced: SIG . . . COLLES . . . (fn. 16)