A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
39. THE PRIORY OF TUTBURY
On the authority of a couplet found in the Tutbury Cartulary (fn. 1) the foundation of Tutbury Priory, a dependency of the Benedictine abbey of St. Pierresur-Dives in Normandy, is generally accepted to have been in 1080. (fn. 2) Some confirmation of this is to be found in Domesday Book where it is recorded that 'the monks' were holding the Derbyshire manors of Doveridge and Marston-upon-Dove from Henry de Ferrers. (fn. 3) It is equally possible, however, that 'the monks' were not the monks of Tutbury Priory but those of the abbey of St. Pierresur-Dives and that a priory had not yet been founded at Tutbury, the caput of the Ferrers honor. At any rate there is no mention in Domesday Book of monks at Tutbury.
The charter of Henry de Ferrers which gives recognition to the existence of Tutbury Priory was issued in the reign of William II. (fn. 4) It records the extensive endowment given by Henry and his wife Bertha to the priory, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In Staffordshire the monks were granted the parish of Tutbury castle and the tithe of tolls collected there, the tithes of vineyards, hunting, pannage, and honey, free supplies of firewood and timber, fishing rights, the demesne tithes of Rolleston and Tutbury, and the church and tithes of Mayfield with one villein. Their most extensive possessions were to be found in Derbyshire where they received the vills of Marston-on-Dove (except 11 bovates and a quarter of the meadowland), Doveridge, and West Broughton, the church and tithes of Norbury with one villein, two-thirds of the demesne tithes of Scropton, Barton Blount, Sapperton, Mugginton, and Duffield, the tithes of Brassington and Tissington, and a villein at Scropton and Duffield. In Leicestershire they were given two-thirds of the demesne tithes of Orton-on-the-Hill, Stapleford, and Coston, with a villein at each place, and in Northamptonshire two-thirds of the demesne tithes of Potterspury with one villein.
Bertha had also granted the monks the vill of Stanford-in-the-Vale (Berks.), but after the death of Henry de Ferrers his son Robert exchanged it for the Derbyshire vills of Church Broughton, Norbury, and Edlaston, in view of the remoteness of Stanfordin-the-Vale. (fn. 5) Robert made further grants in Derbyshire— 19 bovates in Mercaston (in Mugginton) and the demesne tithes of Hartshorne. (fn. 6) The tithes of the burgage rents of the new borough which Robert had founded near Tutbury were granted to the priory by his son Robert (II). Robert (I)'s brother Eugenulph and others further contributed to the endowment of the priory, which by 1159 was also in possession of the whole vill of Mayfield, tithes at Hollington (Derb.), at Stanford-in-the-Vale, and at the Leicestershire vills of Wymondham and Edmondthorpe, and one villein at Stanford-in-theVale, Coston, Wymondham, and Edmondthorpe. (fn. 7)
Robert, Earl of Derby, the son of Robert de Ferrers, confirmed the grants of his predecessors between 1150 and 1159. He also confirmed and exemplified the numerous grants of his tenants. Among these may be mentioned Osmaston (Derb.) and the church of 'Wibalditone' in Berkshire. (fn. 8) An attempt by the priory to gain the advowson of the more important church of Didcot (Berks.) was, however, frustrated at an assize of darrein presentment in 1220. (fn. 9)
William, Earl of Derby, who succeeded Robert before 1160, had the body of his great-grandfather, the founder of Tutbury, translated and buried on the south side of the high altar of the priory church. At the same time he granted the priory a bovate of land at Marston-upon-Dove. (fn. 10) His son William, Earl of Derby (1190-1247), gave the monks the hermitage of Agardsley, the hamlet of Thorney Lane, and 172 acres of land. These properties were in Needwood Forest where William also gave the monks rights to pasture, firewood, and timber. (fn. 11) About 1260, however, at the request of the then earl, Robert, the monks exchanged Agardsley for the mills of Scropton and other neighbouring properties. (fn. 12) William (I) also confirmed the monks in their possession of the churches of Edmondthorpe, Wymondham, and Stapleford in Leicestershire granted by his kinsman William de Ferrers. (fn. 13) About 1200 William (II) confirmed the monks in these churches and added the church of Coston which the monks had also acquired. (fn. 14) He further gave them all the tithes of his forests of Needwood and of Duffield (Derb.). (fn. 15)
It will be seen that much of the revenue of the priory was drawn from tithes, but these were not always easy to collect, largely because of the opposition of the parish priests. The rights of Tutbury were buttressed by mandates of Archbishops Theobald, Becket, and Richard to the bishops and archdeacons concerned, ordering them to support the priory by excommunicating offenders. (fn. 16) In 1163 Pope Alexander III took the priory under his protection and confirmed its possessions. (fn. 17)
There is little evidence available about the internal organization of the priory, but it appears that the prior followed the prevailing practice among heads of religious houses of maintaining a separate establishment. In 1230 an agreement was drawn up between the prior and the monks in respect of the monks' kitchen. (fn. 18) For this purpose 26 marks a year were assigned, to be drawn from various sources; if any of these failed the prior was to make up the deficit out of his own funds. He was also to provide the monks with 29 live pigs in a year when acorns were plentiful or 10 live oxen in a bad year, 6 sextaries of lard, 20 large cheeses, 25 small cheeses, 3 pounds of pepper, 3 pounds of cummin, a sextary of salt, 10 bushels of white beans, with a further quarter at Easter, and 2 quarters of oatmeal. The prior was to provide 'a great feast' on the Assumption (15 August). He was further to supply all kitchen utensils. His right to eat with the monks was safeguarded, and he was allowed to bring three or four companions with him to the monks' refectory and one or two to the monks' parlour. These arrangements were to remain in force so long as the number of monks did not exceed fifteen. An incidental reference shows that a supply of fish for the priory came from the Derwent at Derby as well as from the Dove fishery at Tutbury.
In view of the difficulties with which the priory had to contend on account of its alien status, some account must be given of its relations with the abbey of St. Pierre-sur-Dives. Tutbury was held to be a 'conventual' and not a 'dative' priory, and it therefore enjoyed a large measure of autonomy: a conventual priory had a common seal and the prior could govern the monastery and administer and dispose of its possessions without any interference from the mother-house. On the other hand a regular payment ('apport') was sent abroad. (fn. 19) There are, however, few early references to the relationship between St. Pierre and Tutbury. In 1145 the Abbot of St. Pierre sent a long account of the rebuilding of his church and the miracles occasioned thereby to his fellow monks at Tutbury. (fn. 20) In the 1160s the Abbot of St. Pierre, followed by the Prior of Tutbury, witnessed a charter of William, Earl of Derby. (fn. 21) For the first century of the priory's existence the appointment and deposition of the prior was evidently in the hands of the mother-house, the Ferrers as patrons having no rights in the matter. An agreement of about 1180, however, between Earl William and the abbot gave the prior reasonable security of tenure and the patrons a strong voice in appointments and removals. (fn. 22) By a further agreement concluded by the mid 13th century the abbot nominated three candidates out of whom the patron was entitled to present one to the bishop; if the patron did not fulfil his duties within four days the abbot was entitled to make the final choice. (fn. 23) Under this system the chances were strongly in favour of the prior's being a Frenchman. It is also probable that at first the majority, if not all, of the monks were also French. It is only during the prolonged French wars that English monks are first found. Even as late as 1410 the Prior of Tutbury received a royal licence to bring over six monks from St. Pierre-sur-Dives, (fn. 24) which must almost certainly have restored the French preponderance in the priory. The priors of Tutbury were supposed to visit the mother-house once every three years, and visits by the priors or their representatives to their superiors in Normandy are in fact recorded; similarly representatives of the French abbey came to Tutbury. (fn. 25) William, Earl of Derby (1190-1247), challenged the right of visitation by the motherhouse, and at the beginning of 1244 the abbot sued the earl for denying him free ingress to the priory. The abbot appointed Brother Albinus as his attorney — perhaps a Tutbury monk. Three months later the abbot abandoned the suit, having apparently received satisfaction from the earl. (fn. 26)
During the 13th century the Prior of Tutbury was sometimes appointed by the Abbot of St. Pierre as his attorney or agent for his affairs in England, and such appointments were accepted by the king as being valid in the English courts. (fn. 27) Thus among the other duties of the Prior of Tutbury was the supervision or control of the smaller dependent priories of St. Pierre-sur-Dives, Wolston (Warws.), and Modbury (Devon), in the absence of any direct control from the mother-house. In the case of Wolston the Abbot of St. Pierre granted control to the Prior of Tutbury in 1226 in consideration of a payment of £10 a year; the patronage of the vicarage of Wolston, however, remained in the hands of the monks of Wolston. (fn. 28) John of St. Aubyn, a Prior of Wolston, became Prior of Tutbury in 1329 despite the opposition of the Tutbury monks. (fn. 29) Much less is known about the relations between Tutbury and Modbury. In 1399 John Roger, a monk of Tutbury, was appointed Prior of Modbury. (fn. 30) This may have given rise to some dispute because five years later another monk of Tutbury, Thomas Matieu, (fn. 31) received a pardon of outlawry for not appearing to answer John, Prior of Modbury, touching a trespass. (fn. 32)
The rights of the patron have already been discussed with regard to the appointment of the prior. His right to levy an aid on the priory for feudal reasons was recognized by the monks in 1125. (fn. 33) On coming of age and receiving his lands in 1260 Robert, Earl of Derby, destroyed the priory buildings. (fn. 34) The background to the violent action was probably a dispute over the rights of the patron. In 1262 Robert relinquished his right of exacting a compotus from the priory and recognized the monks' right to alienate their property without interference from him or his heirs; he also confirmed the status of the priory as it was at the time when he obtained seisin of his estates. As patron he agreed in 1263, in consideration of the monks' abandoning their legal proceedings against him, that neither he nor his heirs would interfere with their property during a vacancy. (fn. 35) As early as 1261 he had granted to the priory the rents and services of his men at Coston, a virgate and a villein at Rolleston and the advowson of the church there, all fines from priory tenants in the Appletree Hundred court (Derb.), and the priory's customary rights in Needwood Forest. (fn. 36) A staunch supporter of Simon de Montfort, Earl Robert suffered forfeiture in 1266. His possessions, including the patronage of Tutbury, were transferred to Edmund, Earl of Lancaster. Although the stream of donations to Tutbury now dried up, the Lancastrian house was not unfavourably disposed towards the priory. Edmund himself maintained the customary annual offering of 4s. 4d. which had been made by the earls of Derby. (fn. 37)
The right of compelling the priory to grant a corrody or pension to one or more of his adherents was also recognized to belong to the patron. In the 15th century, when the king issued such 'requests' to the priory, they were put out under the seal of the Duchy of Lancaster, (fn. 38) perhaps to stress that he was applying for the corrody as patron of the monastery. It may be doubted, however, whether this apparent example of rectitude was in fact anything more than an administrative convenience, for the rights of the monarch were recognized by the Church. In 1280 Archbishop Pecham forbade the Prior of Tutbury to accede to the request of the Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield to grant a pension and accommodation to his cook, pointing out that only the king, the queen, or the patron could properly exercise this right. (fn. 39) In 1238 Henry III asked the prior for a vacant benefice for one of his clerks, (fn. 40) and so did the Prince of Wales in 1305. (fn. 41)
In the assessment of 1291 the temporalities of Tutbury amounted to £42 4s. 11d. and the spiritualities to £40 6s. 8d. These were to be found in Berkshire, (fn. 42) Derbyshire, (fn. 43) Leicestershire, (fn. 44) Northamptonshire, (fn. 45) Staffordshire, (fn. 46) and Warwickshire. (fn. 47) As might have been expected, Derbyshire accounted for nearly two-thirds of the temporalities with £27 4s. 8d.; Staffordshire yielded £10 18s. With regard to the spiritualities, however, Staffordshire, with the appropriated churches of Mayfield and Tutbury, was assessed at £17 13s. 4d. while Derbyshire with the church of Duffield and tithes from other parishes could reach only £15 11s. 4d. The assessment in Leicestershire shows that Tutbury was drawing tithes from Coston and Stapleford and pensions from the churches of Stapleford, Wymondham, and Edmondthorpe. Although there is evidence that Tutbury presented to these churches in the 13th century, (fn. 48) it had lost the advowsons of Wymondham, Stapleford, and Edmondthorpe by 1316, in which year Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, obtained licence to alienate them in mortmain; (fn. 49) there is, however, no evidence that he did so. In the Quo Warranto proceedings of 1293 the priory claimed free warren in Tutbury by charter of Henry III. (fn. 50) This particular charter does not seem to have survived, but there is another charter of Henry III which granted the priory free warren in Staffordshire in Mayfield and Wetton, and in Derbyshire in Doveridge, Marston-upon-Dove, Broughton, Ednaston, Hollington, Osmaston, and Edlaston. (fn. 51) The priory also claimed view of frankpledge of its tenants twice a year but made no claims to any other franchises.
The priory led a very unhappy existence during the long period of French wars which opened in the reign of Edward I. In 1294 on the beginning of hostilities the king ordered a survey to be made of the possessions and rights of the priory. The Derbyshire possessions were valued at £208 16s. 0¼d. and those in Staffordshire at £60 8s. 10d. In 1295 the king took over the lands and goods of the priory as an alien foundation. (fn. 52) These were restored to the prior in 1296 on condition that he rendered each year a sum at the Exchequer. This was fixed to begin with at £60, (fn. 53) and the prior made two payments of £30 in 1297. (fn. 54) In 1298 and 1299 payments of £40 were made, (fn. 55) and in 1300 a payment of £30 is recorded. (fn. 56) Tutbury was among the alien priories which petitioned at the Parliament of 1302 against excessive royal exactions. (fn. 57)
By 1301 matters had apparently returned to normal and Prior Walter was able to make a short visit to St. Pierre-sur-Dives. (fn. 58) The purpose of this visit may have been to regularize his position in relation to the abbey, as there is some evidence that he was elected by the monks of Tutbury without reference to the rights of the mother-house. (fn. 59) On his return Walter had to contend with the open hostility of his patron, Earl Thomas. The earl's retainers were doing great damage on the priory lands and were terrorizing the bailiffs and other officials of the priory, who were afraid to remain in its service. (fn. 60) In 1305 a commission of oyer and terminer was sent to deal with the complaints of the priory, and the prior and convent petitioned Parliament to extend the term of the commission. (fn. 61)
When Edward II marched against the Scots in 1310, he issued a request to the Prior of Tutbury, among others, to lend him supplies for the campaign. (fn. 62) The contribution of Tutbury was 40 quarters of wheat, 60 quarters of oats and 50 quarters of malt, together with 10 oxen and 50 sheep. (fn. 63) The priory played a somewhat doubtful part in the events of 1322, culminating in the battle of Boroughbridge and the execution of its patron, Earl Thomas. (fn. 64) In the short interval between the abandonment of Tutbury castle by the earl and its occupation by Edward II and his forces, a large amount of money, jewellery, and other goods was taken from the castle to the priory by some of the local inhabitants and deposited there with the connivance of the prior. This apparent conspiracy to defraud the king could not be kept secret and on 13 March, three days before the battle of Boroughbridge, an order was issued that all the jewels, goods, and chattels of Earl Thomas and the other rebels which were in the priory were to be brought to the king. (fn. 65) The following year three officials of the late earl were charged with having conveyed £1,500 from the castle to the priory. The jury accepted their plea that they had no other intent except to deposit the money for safety in the priory. The prior was accused of harbouring seven cartloads of gold cloth, silver vessels, and other ornaments to the value of £300 but was acquitted. On another charge of failing to deliver up £40 worth of goods and a barrel of sturgeon, the jury would not accept the prior's plea that the king 'out of kindness' had allowed him to keep this property unless he could obtain the personal corroboration of the king. (fn. 66) This apparently was not forthcoming, and the prior was accordingly fined £70. After paying £20 he addressed a petition to Parliament asking for the restitution of this sum and the remission of the rest of the fine, but the petition was rejected. (fn. 67)
In the same year, 1323, the prior was excommunicated for not having paid the annual pension of 10 marks due to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield from the appropriated church of Mayfield. (fn. 68) After having paid this, he was threatened with renewed excommunication unless he met the arrears which had accumulated. Faced with these demands, with the continued provision of a royal corrody, (fn. 69) and with a robbery of the priory's goods and chattels estimated at a value of nearly £80, (fn. 70) Prior Robert de Longdon fell into debt. In 1325 he acknowledged that he owed £100 to a Florentine (fn. 71) and a further sum of 20 marks to another merchant. (fn. 72) He also acknowledged a debt of three sacks of wool worth £20. (fn. 73)
Meanwhile an unavailing struggle by the monks of Tutbury, led by the subprior, for the right of freely electing their prior had begun. The dispute reached its height in 1336 at the time of the appointment of Alexander de Portu to the priorate. Henry, Earl of Lancaster, who had recovered his brother Thomas's titles and possessions in 1326 and 1327, took out a writ of quare impedit against the subprior and convent, claiming that they had impeded his right of presenting to the priory. (fn. 74) The monks claimed that in the time of Edward I they had freely elected Walter as their prior, that Earl Thomas had accepted their nominee and presented him to the bishop, and that Walter's status had remained unchallenged. This assertion was rejected by the earl who maintained that Thomas himself had nominated Walter and presented him. The arguments of both sides seem to be inaccurate in view of the occurrence of Walter as prior in 1297. (fn. 75) Although Thomas's father, Edmund, died in June 1296, Thomas did not attain his majority for another two years. If any irregularity had been committed by the monks, it may have been during this interval. There is of course the bare possibility that there may have been two successive Walters holding the priorate at this time.
Strangely enough, after the death of Walter none of the interested parties seems to have made any move to replace him, and it was left to the Bishop of Lichfield to take the necessary action to fill the vacant priorate. In May 1308 he ordered the sequestration of the spiritualities of Tutbury, and in July he collated Robert of Longdon, a monk of Burton Abbey, who was duly installed by the vicar general. (fn. 76)
After a disputed election at Burton in 1329 the bishop appointed as abbot Robert of Longdon, who had been one of the candidates. (fn. 77) To replace him at Tutbury the monks held an election and presented Giles de Longford (or Giles de F.) to Earl Henry. The latter, however, would not receive him and accepted the nominee of the Abbot of St. Pierre-sur-Dives. This was John of St. Aubyn, originally a monk of St. Pierre and now Prior of Wolston. He was presented to the bishop by the earl in September 1329 and was duly installed as prior. The subprior and the monks thereupon sued their new prior in the ecclesiastical courts. (fn. 78) Seeing the case going against him John resigned in 1335. The monks then elected Ralph of Coventry, a monk of Tutbury, while the Abbot of St. Pierre-sur-Dives submitted his three nominees to Earl Henry, who chose Alexander de Portu, a monk of St. Pierre. (fn. 79) The Tutbury monks seem to have resorted to violent action, for on his way back from his presentation to the bishop, Alexander was seized and carried off and for some time his whereabouts were unknown. (fn. 80) The following year, however, the Court of King's Bench decided in favour of the earl (fn. 81) and Alexander took up his difficult position, apparently little the worse for his unfortunate experience, which is not alluded to again.
Behind this desire for independence from the French mother-house can be discerned the activity of the English monks at Tutbury. The priory was now divided into two bitterly opposed factions. Prior Alexander was supported by three monks from St. Pierre whom he had admitted as brethren of Tutbury. The subprior, Ralph of Derby, had the support of eight English monks, including Ralph of Coventry, whom they had elected prior. Having lost their case in the secular courts, the English party now brought an action against the Abbey of St. Pierre at the papal Curia. The judges delegated by Benedict XII at first favoured the abbey, but in 1342 the final decision was given in support of the claims of the English monks. Accordingly Clement VI issued a bull confirming the right of the monks of Tutbury to elect their own prior without any interference from the Abbey of St. Pierre. (fn. 82)
Alexander and his French supporters took no notice of the bull, and in 1344 the English monks applied to the king, who gave them permission to publish it. (fn. 83) Shortly afterwards, however, he revoked this licence, (fn. 84) presumably on the representations of Alexander who, although apparently defeated, was in a much stronger position than the English monks as he was holding the farm of the priory from the king. A last attempt by the English monks at the Curia evoked a mandate from the Archdeacon of Norwich, who from the safety of Avignon ordered some of the leading ecclesiastics of Lichfield diocese to excommunicate Alexander and his supporters. This mandate, dated December 1344, (fn. 85) was received after the king had expressed support for Alexander, and it appears that no action was taken. During this period the Abbot of St. Pierresur-Dives was doing his best to maintain contact with the priory. In 1336, at a critical moment, two of his monks came to Tutbury. (fn. 86) In 1341, despite the state of war between England and France, two of the monks of Tutbury received licence to visit the abbey, providing they took no letters or 'apport'; (fn. 87) the object of their visit was no doubt to provide evidence for the trial of the rival claims.
These internal disputes clearly must have had a bad effect on monastic discipline. The only available evidence, however, comes from about 1329 when the bishop was investigating charges against the monks of Tutbury. They were accused of bearing arms, hunting, general disorder, and incontinence. (fn. 88) The results of the inquiry are not known.
The opening of the Hundred Years' War in 1337 added to the troubles at Tutbury. The priory was taken into the king's hands and then farmed out to Prior Alexander for the sum of 100 marks a year, about a third of the annual revenue. (fn. 89) The advowsons of Tutbury, however, remained with the king. (fn. 90) The prior, being an alien, received the king's protection, at first for a year, (fn. 91) and then for as long as he held the custody of the priory. (fn. 92) He also undertook to make a special payment of 57½ marks for the custody. (fn. 93) He had great difficulty in finding this additional sum, and in August 1337 his arrest was ordered. (fn. 94) He was, however, exempted from the payment of a tenth in 1338 in view of the heavy burdens already laid on the priory. (fn. 95) In 1339 the experiment was tried of the direct administration of the priory by the king's ministers, but this was abandoned and the farm restored to the prior in April 1340. (fn. 96) The officials sent to the priory had done a great deal of damage, and in consequence the royal revenue had suffered. Furthermore the prior had contracted a debt of 90 marks to John de Rivers. (fn. 97) The Earl of Lancaster was able to obtain a pardon for the prior of the arrears of 40 marks due to the king which had accumulated while the priory was under direct royal administration. (fn. 98) These continual heavy payments must have had a grave effect on the economy of the priory, and the prior was described by Earl Henry as 'very grievously depressed by poverty'. On the restoration of the custody of Tutbury to the prior, he mistakenly thought that the advowsons also had been restored to him, and accordingly the priory presented to Doveridge. (fn. 99) In April 1342 the king too made a presentation to Doveridge, but he withdrew it and ratified the action of the priory in view of the exceptional circumstances. (fn. 100)
A thorough investigation of the finances of the priory, instituted in December 1341, led to a reduction in the annual farm from 100 to 60 marks the following March. (fn. 101) Although the king might have been expected to support the English monks, especially in war-time, his financial interest in the priory inclined his favour towards the prior, as has already been seen. About the same time as he withdrew permission from the English monks for the publication of the bull authorizing free elections, in July 1344, he reaffirmed the committal of the priory to Alexander de Portu and complained of the financial deterioration at Tutbury owing to the activities of the English monks. Richard Passemere and Richard de la Pole were appointed to survey and reform the estate of the priory and to correct the English monks; in this way the payment of the farm would be safeguarded and divine service maintained. (fn. 102)
Alexander de Portu resigned in December 1347. (fn. 103) A few days previously Henry, Earl of Lancaster, had presented Peter Vasseur or Vausser to the bishop on the nomination of the Abbot of St. Pierre-surDives. (fn. 104) It seems that Peter was the choice of the retiring prior. (fn. 105) In the following February the custody of the priory was committed to Peter; the farm remained at £40. (fn. 106) In 1349 one John Vasseur, probably a relation of the prior, was appointed by the king to the church of Marston-upon-Dove. (fn. 107) He resigned this vicarage in 1353. (fn. 108) In the following year the prior acknowledged for himself and the convent that they owed Vasseur £60. (fn. 109) Although, as has been seen, the priory was pardoned the payment of a tenth in 1338 in view of the heavy annual farm, 40s. was paid by the prior in 1350 towards a subsidy granted by the alien priories. (fn. 110) In 1356 the priory granted an annuity of £10 to Nicholas de Denston; (fn. 111) the transaction may be connected with the litigation at this period between the priory and Nicholas over property at West Broughton. (fn. 112)
After the conclusion of peace between England and France, the priory recovered its independence in February 1361. (fn. 113) Shortly afterwards it fell vacant. Before his death in 1361 Henry, Duke of Lancaster, had settled his possessions on a group of trustees (fn. 114) who in 1362 presented William Beloc, a monk of St. Pierre-sur-Dives, to the bishop on the nomination of the abbot and convent. (fn. 115) He was able to administer the priory in peace for seven years and even to present to benefices, (fn. 116) but with the renewal of the war in 1369 the priory was once more taken into the king's hands. (fn. 117) In the following year the farm was committed to the prior at the old rate of £40 a year. (fn. 118)
The next prior, John Bellocier, a monk of St. Pierre-sur-Dives, was presented in 1377 by John of Gaunt, (fn. 119) who had succeeded to the Lancastrian heritage of his father-in-law in 1362. The farm of the priory was committed to the new prior at £40 a year. (fn. 120) The growing poverty of the priory seems to be indicated in a survey of the spiritualities and temporalities of the house in Staffordshire made in 1379-80; their value amounted to £45 6s. 5½d., (fn. 121) which shows a decline of £15 since 1348. In addition the size of the community had dropped to four by 1377. (fn. 122) To repair the fortunes of his priory John obtained papal permission in 1398 for the appropriation of the church of Church Broughton (Derb.). (fn. 123) The priory was, however, compelled to pay 80 marks for a royal licence for appropriation in mortmain, (fn. 124) while in 1401 the bishop reserved to his see an annual pension of 13s. 4d. to be paid by Tutbury to compensate for the episcopal dues lost at Church Broughton. (fn. 125) It was also agreed that the vicar to be appointed there should have a stipend of 10 marks, the burial dues, and payments at confession. The priory was to provide a suitable house containing a hall, two rooms and a stable, with a curtilage annexed, but the vicar was to be responsible for its upkeep. (fn. 126) In April 1399 the farm of Tutbury was raised to its original amount of £60; possibly on account of the growing infirmity of Prior Bellocier, the custody of the priory was removed from his sole administration and the bishop and two clerks, Ralph Canon and William Pollard, were associated with him. (fn. 127)
The first years of Henry IV were a period of great confusion for the priory. At the outset of his reign all the alien priories were freed from royal control. (fn. 128) Accordingly in December 1399 Tutbury was restored to John Bellocier together with its advowsons. (fn. 129) In 1400 the prior obtained a licence to grant an annuity of 52 marks to Master Henry Davy, clerk. (fn. 130) A year later the bishop appointed Thomas Masse, a monk of Tutbury, to be the co-adjutor of the prior on account of his infirmity. (fn. 131) Meanwhile a new threat was developing to the newly-gained independence of Tutbury. Sentiment in Parliament had for a long time been most violent against the alien priories. In 1377 the Commons had secured an Act expelling French monks from England. The conventual priories were exempted, but it was laid down that even in these only English monks should henceforth be admitted. (fn. 132) In 1402 the Commons petitioned for the seizure of the dative priories, and the royal assent was granted. (fn. 133) In December the Prior of Tutbury was ordered to come in person before the king and council to prove the conventual status of his priory in order that it should be exempt from seizure. (fn. 134) Although the prior rightly claimed exemption from the provisions of the Act, (fn. 135) John de Fynderne, a professional farmer of alien priories, and John Cokeyn falsely represented that Tutbury was a dative priory and the prior's claim was rejected. Accordingly in February 1403 the priory was seized and committed to the custody of the prior, his coadjutor Thomas Masse, John Cokeyn, and John de Fynderne at a farm of 100 marks a year. (fn. 136) Shortly afterwards the prior resigned, and in July a new set of farmers was appointed — the ex-prior, Sir John Dabriggecourt, and Bernard of Ridware, the Vicar of Tutbury. (fn. 137) They had offered an additional 50 marks over and above the regular farm of 100 marks. The machinations of the farmers were at length detected, and in 1404 the king revoked his seizure of the priory, (fn. 138) which now remained unmolested down to its dissolution in 1538.
In 1404 the king, in his capacity as Duke of Lancaster, nominated Thomas Masse as Prior of Tutbury and he was duly admitted by the bishop. (fn. 139) In 1410 the king granted the prior a licence to bring over six monks from St. Pierre-sur-Dives. (fn. 140) There seemed, therefore, to be no question of Tutbury's following the example of many of the other conventual priories and seeking denization. (fn. 141) The link with St. Pierre was never formally broken. As late as 1437 an inspeximus of a charter of Robert de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, of 1263 was put on the Patent Roll, exemplifying the rights of the abbey at the election of a prior. (fn. 142) Despite this there was undoubtedly a marked decline in French influence at Tutbury during the 15th century. The decline may have been accentuated by an Act of 1413, which reaffirmed that henceforth only English monks should be admitted into the alien priories. (fn. 143) There was only one more French prior after Thomas Masse, Adam Preaux (1429-33). His successor, Thomas Gedney, had a register compiled of the charters of Tutbury, (fn. 144) and not one document included in this cartulary refers to the Abbey of St. Pierre. At the surrender of Tutbury the prior and all the monks were Englishmen, (fn. 145) and at no time during the process of dissolution was there any mention of the abbey.
On the death of Thomas Masse in 1424 presentation was made on behalf of the king under the Duchy of Lancaster seal of Thomas Derby, a monk of Tutbury, who was duly admitted by the bishop in June. (fn. 146) Derby had a stormy career. About three weeks before his installation a robbery took place at Marston-upon-Dove, and eventually in 1429 Derby was accused of having committed this felony and stolen a 'trussing-coffer' containing 40 marks in cash and other goods to the value of £40. He was sent to prison but was released on bail and afterwards acquitted. (fn. 147) In the meanwhile he had been in serious trouble with his bishop. A letter testimonial of Bishop Heyworth of August 1429 announced the absolution of Thomas Derby, 'formerly Prior of Tutbury', from ecclesiastical censure incurred by his having violently resisted the sequestration of the goods of the priory made on the bishop's authority. (fn. 148) It is most probable, therefore, that he had been deposed. He failed to obtain any pension and in 1444 obtained a licence to sue the Pope for a benefice, as his annual income was less than 6 marks. (fn. 149)
His successor Adam Preaux, (fn. 150) a monk of St. Pierre, was the last French prior. He did not hold office for long, and on his resignation in 1433 Thomas Gedney, a monk of Westminster, was admitted, having been presented by the king. (fn. 151) Gedney's priorate of twenty-five years was noteworthy for the compilation of the Tutbury Cartulary at some time between 1452 and 1458. (fn. 152) Most of the documents contained in it are of the 12th and 13th centuries, although a few of the later priors are also represented. Many of the documents are concerned with litigation over tithes, the most troublesome part of the Tutbury endowments. In some cases the priory had disposed of outlying rights of tithe to other monasteries or to the local incumbents in return for an annual pension. (fn. 153)
Gedney also made a vain attempt in 1440 to resist the royal corrodies. He did, however, achieve the minor success that the beneficiary on that occasion was to serve at the monks' table. (fn. 154) The corrodies went on until the dissolution of the priory: in 1532 the Duke of Richmond, illegitimate son of Henry VIII, wrote to the priory from Calais, quartering on the monks the clerk of his jewel-house, Robert Amyas. (fn. 155) In June 1458 Gedney resigned, receiving a competent pension, and a month later his successor Richard Burton, a monk of Tutbury, was appointed by the bishop as Queen Margaret, the patron, had on this occasion conceded her right of presentation to him. (fn. 156) Burton resigned in 1461, receiving a pension of £40 and the food of two monks, and in October Thomas Longdon, a monk of Tutbury, was admitted by the bishop on the presentation of Edward IV. (fn. 157)
After this little of note is recorded in connexion with the priory. Five priors of Tutbury were admitted to the guild of Lichfield — Thomas Longdon in 1468, William Coventry in 1487, William Whalley in 1492, Thomas Rolleston in 1492 while he was still a monk, and Arthur Meverell in 1535. (fn. 158) A community of 9 monks and 3 novices was recorded at the visitation of 1518. There were 10 monks in 1521 and 10 monks and 3 novices in 1524. In addition to the prior and subprior, the officials in 1518 consisted of precentor, master of novices, sacrist, and cellarer. There was no subprior in 1521, and the appointment of one was apparently ordered at the visitation of 1524. (fn. 159) The only evidence of any educational activities at the priory is provided by a petition of Thomas Alenson to the Chancellor in 1530. He claimed that he had served the priory as singing-man from 1496 to 1527, when he had been expelled from the priory by the 'malice' of Prior Heth, then cellarer. He claimed 40 marks' arrears of pay and 53s. 4d. in lieu of livery gowns. In the course of his petition he described the nature of his work, which was to keep and attend to the divine service and to teach six children at the priory plainsong, 'prick-song', and descant. For this he received 4 marks a year, lodging at the priory and a livery gown each year. In addition Alenson stated that he had spent money of his own on behalf of Prior Madeley, which he had never recovered. (fn. 160)
An event of some note at Tutbury was the annual bull-running which continued down to 1778 and of which full descriptions survive. (fn. 161) Until the Dissolution the priory played an important part in the bull-running, which was held on 16 August, the morrow of the Assumption. The prior had to provide a bull for the minstrels of Tutbury, who had been incorporated as a court or guild by John of Gaunt. If the minstrels could catch the bull on the Staffordshire side of the Dove, they were to have it, or alternatively the prior could give them 40d. The origin of this custom is unknown; its first mention seems to be in 1414. (fn. 162) While folklorists have claimed an ancient pagan origin, (fn. 163) there is something to be said for the view that it was introduced by John of Gaunt, together with the organization of the minstrels' court and the office of king of the minstrels. (fn. 164)
In the early 16th century the priory was in some financial confusion. In 1518 Prior Rolleston gave the annual income as £400, but his successor stated in 1521 that Rolleston had left the house £140 in debt while he himself had had to pay the Crown 100 marks for his temporalities. The debt had been reduced to £100 by 1524, but numerous complaints were then made by the monks about the size and extravagance of the prior's household. (fn. 165) The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 gave Tutbury's receipts from temporalities as £170 18s. 4d., with outgoings of £20 14s. (fn. 166) The priory received £73 18s. 4d. from spiritualities, with outgoings of £21 7s. 10d. Disbursements for charitable purposes were given as £3. Thus the gross annual receipts were valued at £244 16s. 8d. and the net income at £199 14s. 10d. Some of the annual payments made by the priory in 1535 are of interest. The chief steward, George, Earl of Shrewsbury, who had been the steward of the honor of Tutbury since 1529, (fn. 167) received £3 6s. 8d. The clerk of the priory's courts received £1 6s. 8d. and the auditor £2. Seven bailiffs earned £10 between them, and the receiver, Humphrey Meverell, presumably a kinsman of the prior, Arthur Meverell, was paid £2. In 1538-9, the year immediately following the dissolution, the gross value of the priory's property was given as £353 7s. 9¾d. (fn. 168) Its estates outside Tutbury were stated to be the manors of Mayfield, Church Broughton (Derb.), Doveridge (Derb.), and Marston-upon-Dove (Derb.); lands and rents in Duffield, Edlaston, Ednaston (in Brailsford), Foston, Hollington and Lower Thurvaston (both in Longford), Mercaston (in Mugginton), Norbury, Osmaston, Scropton, Shirley, Sudbury, and Sutton (all Derb.), Saxby and Stapleford (both Leics.), and Wetton; the appropriated churches of Church Broughton, Doveridge, Marston-upon-Dove, and Mayfield with its dependent chapels of Butterton and Wetton; tithes in the parishes of Ashbourne, Aston-uponTrent, Dalbury, Duffield, Egginton, Hartshorne, Longford, Osmaston, Scropton and Foston, Shirley, and Sudbury (all Derb.), Edmondthorpe, Saxby, Stapleford, and Wymondham (all Leics.), East Leake (Notts.), and Ilam; and pensions in lieu of tithes from the Hospitallers, the abbeys of Kenilworth (Warws.) and Welbeck (Notts.), the priories of Dunstable (Beds.), Langley (Leics.), Repton (Derb.), Stratford-at-Bow (Mdx.), and Trentham, Newark College at Leicester, and the church of Mugginton. The priory had fishing rights on the Dove and owned several mills, including a fulling-mill on the Dove at Church Mayfield (in Mayfield).
The priory came within the terms of the Act of 1536 for the suppression of the lesser monasteries. (fn. 169) In 1537, on payment of £100, it received licence to continue in existence. (fn. 170) Archbishop Cranmer, however, showed an unfriendly interest in its fortunes and in August 1538 wrote to Cromwell, reminding him about the proposed suppression of the 'abbey'. (fn. 171) He was not to wait long for the fulfilment of his wishes. In September Dr. Thomas Legh, the renowned suppressor of religious houses, made a rapid tour of the Midlands. On the 14th he arrived at Tutbury and accepted the surrender of the house from Arthur Meverell, the prior, and eight other monks. (fn. 172) Meverell, a member of a well-known local family, received a pension of £50, which may be compared with the pension of £40 and the food of two monks received by Prior Burton on his retirement in 1461. The other pensions were one of £7, three of £6 13s. 4d., and four of £6. (fn. 173) Fifteen years later Meverell and five of the other monks were still drawing their pensions. (fn. 174) Meverell became Vicar of Tutbury in 1543 but resigned in 1544; he may well be the Arthur Meverell who was Vicar of Tideswell (Derb.) from 1544 until his resignation in 1547. (fn. 175)
The site of the priory was leased to Sir William Bassett. (fn. 176) In 1552 it was granted to Sir William Cavendish together with many of the possessions of the former priory, (fn. 177) and he built a house on the site, using priory stone for it. (fn. 178)
The priory occupied an area of 4 acres on the hillside below the castle with the monastic buildings lying on the north side of the church. (fn. 179) Only the church — the parish church of St. Mary — remains standing, and that has been much reduced in size. Before the Reformation there seem to have been two further bays at the east end of the nave as well as transepts, choir, and a tower over the crossing. Most of what remains evidently dates from about 1160-70 with the two easternmost piers about 1100; the west front exhibits the earliest known use of alabaster in England. The south aisle was probably added as part of the work begun in 1307, which was itself probably the restoration made necessary by Earl Robert's destruction of the priory in 1260. (fn. 180) The water supply would originally have come from the fleam to the north-east of the priory, but by the 13th century there was a piped supply from wells in the neighbourhood. (fn. 181) Building timber came from Needwood Forest. (fn. 182)
Herbert. (fn. 183)
William, occurs 1125. (fn. 184)
William, occurs some time between 1136 and 1138 and twice between 1140 and 1152. (fn. 185)
Richard, occurs some time between 1149 and 1159. (fn. 186)
Fulk, occurs in the 1160s, c. 1170, and possibly later. (fn. 187)
William, occurs some time between 1161 and 1182. (fn. 188)
Richard, occurs some time between 1177 and c. 1195. (fn. 189)
William le Deneys, occurs some time between 1191 and 1197. (fn. 190)
Bartholomew, occurs by 1209 and some time between 1222 and 1226. (fn. 191)
Nicholas, occurs from 1226 to 1231. (fn. 192)
Fulk, occurs 1234 and c. 1245. (fn. 193)
William de Truard, occurs c. 1245. (fn. 194)
Prior William de Sentellys and Prior William de Mentall occur temp. Henry III. (fn. 195)
William de Favers, died 1262. (fn. 196)
Geoffrey de Beumes or de Bovinis, appointed 1262, occurs 1266. (fn. 197)
Robert, occurs not later than 1286. (fn. 198)
Walter, occurs 1297, died by 1308. (fn. 199)
Robert of Longdon, appointed 1308, elected Abbot of Burton 1329. (fn. 200)
John of St. Aubyn, appointed 1329, resigned 1335. (fn. 201)
Alexander de Portu, admitted 1336, resigned 1347. (fn. 202)
Peter Vasseur or Vausser, presented 1347, occurs until 1361. (fn. 203)
William Beloc, admitted 1362, occurs until 1371. (fn. 204)
John Bellocier, admitted 1377, resigned 1403. (fn. 205)
Thomas Masse, Masceewe or Maucieu, admitted 1404, died 1424. (fn. 206)
Thomas Derby, admitted 1424, deposed or resigned by August 1429. (fn. 207)
Adam Preaux, presented 1429, resigned 1433. (fn. 208)
Thomas Gedney, admitted 1433, resigned 1458. (fn. 209)
Richard Burton, admitted 1458, resigned 1461. (fn. 210)
Thomas Longdon, admitted 1461, died 1478. (fn. 211)
William Coventry, presented 1478, died 1492. (fn. 212)
William Whalley, admitted 1492, occurs 1503, dead by 1507. (fn. 213)
Thomas Rolleston, admitted by 1507, occurs 1518. (fn. 214)
John Madeley or Mawdeley, occurs 1521, died by 1528. (fn. 215)
Richard Heth, elected 1528, died 1535. (fn. 216)
Arthur Meverell, appointed 1535, surrendered the priory 1538. (fn. 217)
The priory seal (fn. 218) in use about 1230 is a pointed oval, about 2¼ by 15/8 in., depicting the Virgin seated with the Child, the right hand of the Child raised in benediction and the left hand holding a book. The surviving fragment of legend appears to be lombardic.
A seal (fn. 219) in use in 1400 is a pointed oval, about 2¼ by 1½ in. It depicts a standing figure holding a cross or a sword in its right hand and a book in its left; on each side is a diapered field with a shield. No legend has survived.
A seal (fn. 220) in use in the 16th century is round, 2½ inches in diameter, depicting beneath three canopies the Coronation of the Virgin who is seated between the Father and the Son with the Dove overhead; there is a shield of arms on either side, that on the right the arms of the Ferrers, that on the left a saltire vairy between four crescents. Legend, black letter:
The reverse shows the Virgin crowned and seated beneath a canopy; she holds the Child on her right knee and a sceptre in her left hand. In a canopied niche on either side is an angel, and in the base under an arch is the prior kneeling. Legend, black letter, a rhyming verse: