A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1956.
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HOUSE OF BENEDICTINE MONKS
2. THE ABBEY OF MALMESBURY
Towards the middle of the 7th century, and perhaps in the year 637, (fn. 1) an Irish monk or hermit named Mailduib settled beneath the walls of a small stockade lying on the north fringe of Selwood Forest. The stockade crowned a hill whose steep sides sloped down to two streams which flowed to the north and south. The spot, later associated with stories of a heathen British king and a house of nuns, (fn. 2) appears then to have been almost deserted and Mailduib was attracted there in all probability by the solitude of the woodland which surrounded the place. (fn. 3) Of Mailduib little is known save his Irish descent, his monastic character, and his store of learning; (fn. 4) in the 13th century a stone cross associated with him stood in the cloister (fn. 5) at Malmesbury, though William of Malmesbury seems somewhat dubious about alleged remains of Mailduib's church. (fn. 6)
Mailduib had, however, no means of livelihood and necessity forced him to take pupils; in process of time his band of disciples took monastic vows (fn. 7) and formed a fair-sized community. (fn. 8) At an unknown date a young man called Aldhelm joined the body and from that moment it grew in importance and influence. Of Aldhelm's ancestry little that is certain can be said beyond that he was Saxon by birth and was related to the line of Wessex kings; (fn. 9) William of Malmesbury is mistaken in supposing that he was first educated at Canterbury under Hadrian, Abbot of St. Augustine's. (fn. 10)
Aldhelm is said to have received the tonsure in 661 (fn. 11) and to have remained at Malmesbury for ten years or so before setting out in 671 to study at the flourishing schools of Canterbury under Hadrian and Theodore, of whom he soon became the most illustrious pupil. (fn. 12) In the following year Aidhelm was forced by ill health to go back to Malmesbury, although he still hoped to return to Canterbury; (fn. 13) but Mailduib was now growing old, Aidhelm was himself becoming less inclined for secular learning, (fn. 14) and it was at this time that he was ordained priest. (fn. 15) He possessed indeed a singular. combination of qualities: his love for learning and austerity (fn. 16) did not lessen his personal charm and talent for friendship, and his genuine holiness of life was of even greater influence than his powerful personality. (fn. 17) It was natural therefore that at Mailduib's death Aldhelm should be chosen to succeed him.
It is probable that Aldhelm was appointed in 675 (fn. 18) and it is likely that Bishop Hlothere of Winchester marked the occasion by a charter granting to the new abbot the lands upon which the abbey stood. (fn. 19) The reputation and distinguished connexions of Aldhelm soon attracted benefactors: in 680 Cenfrid, a noble of Mercia, granted land to Aldhelm at Wootton, (fn. 20) and in the following years Cadwalla, King of Wessex, gave land at Kemble (now Glos.), Crudwell, Charlton, near Malmesbury, and Purton. (fn. 21) Other benefactions included grants of land by King Ethelred of Mercia at Long Newnton (fn. 22) and at Tetbury (Glos.) in 681, (fn. 23) and by Ethelred's nephew Berhtwald at Somerford Keynes in 683. (fn. 24) Ine appears to have given land at Garsdon, and at Corston and Rodbourne, both in Malmesbury, in 701. (fn. 25)
At Malmesbury Aldhelm built a new and larger church in honour of our Saviour, St. Peter, and St. Paul, and composed verses for its dedication. (fn. 26) The monastery so flourished under his rule that Aldhelm was able to make two new foundations from it, one in honour of St. John the Baptist at Frome (Som.) and another in honour of St. Laurence at Bradford-on-Avon. (fn. 27) Aldhelm procured from Pope Sergius I for these foundations and for Malmesbury itself a privilege which later was interpreted as placing them immediately under papal jurisdiction and exempting them from the control of the local bishop. (fn. 28) No mention is anywhere made of the date of the introduction of the rule of St. Benedict at Malmesbury and its dependencies, but Aldhelm's days at Canterbury, his interest in the monastic reforms of St. Wilfrid, (fn. 29) and his assumption that a religious community would be following that rule, (fn. 30) seem to indicate that it was introduced at Malmesbury during Aldhelm's abbacy; but of the circumstances or date nothing is known. (fn. 31)
The fame of Aldhelm spread far and wide; he had taken a prominent part in, persuading the British king and clergy of Dumnonia (fn. 32) to keep Easter Day on the Roman date. (fn. 33) Ine, who had ecome King of Wessex about 689, had a great egard for the abbot's advice, and had rebuilt the monastery of Glastonbury at Aldhelm's instigation. (fn. 34) Aldhelm himself had built churches at Bruton (Som.) (fn. 35) and near Wareham (Dors.), (fn. 36) and at Malmesbury had completed churches in honour of the Blessed Virgin and of St. Michael. (fn. 37) It was natural therefore that Ine turned to Aldhelm when in 705 it came to the appointment of the first bishop of the new diocese of Sherborne. (fn. 38) Aldhelm was at first unwilling to accept the task on account of advancing years, but at length he agreed, (fn. 39) and was consecrated by Beorhtwald, Archbishop of Canterbury. (fn. 40) On his appointment Aldhelm desired to place abbots over his monasteries, but was opposed in this by the communities; reluctantly he yielded, (fn. 41) but, from fear lest future bishops should tyrannize over his monasteries, he granted them a privilege that, at his death, they should elect their own superiors freely. (fn. 42) After a short but active (fn. 43) pontificate of four years, he died in the little wooden church at Doulting (Som.) on 25 May 709. (fn. 44) His body was carried to Malmesbury and buried in the church of St. Michael, where it lay until 955.
Aldhelm was beyond comparison the most learned and ingenious western scholar of the later 7th century, and represented the 'culture of his age in its most developed form'. (fn. 45) His memory was always revered as that of a saint and miracleworker. (fn. 46)
Aldhelm was apparently succeeded by Eaba, who is known only from a reference in a letter by an unknown English monk to Lull, Bishop of Mainz. (fn. 47) Both Lull and the monk were educated at Malmesbury under Abbot Eaba, perhaps about the year 730. (fn. 48)
The next abbot in whose existence any confidence can be placed was Ethelard, (fn. 49) Othelard, (fn. 50) or Æthelheard, (fn. 51) who is well attested, being mentioned by William of Malmesbury and by the unknown 13th-century compiler of a short history of the abbey found in a Cottonian manuscript. (fn. 52) There is also a charter which has some genuine features which is witnessed by Æthelheard economus atque abbas in 749. (fn. 53)
The next abbot, Cuthbert, was appointed by Æthelheard on his accession to the see of Winchester. (fn. 54) There is a charter of Egfrith, King of Mercia, granting land at Purton to Abbot Cuthbert and the community of Malmesbury (fn. 55) in 796, and an Abbot Cuthbert of the Winchester Diocese was present at the council of Clofeshoh of 803. (fn. 56)
Of the period between 796 and 974 almost nothing is known. King Æthelwulf of Wessex (839-55) is said by William of Malmesbury to have made a rich shrine for St. Aldhelm's bones and to have granted lands and immunities from taxation. (fn. 57) It was between 824 and 867 that Eahlstan, the militant Bishop of Sherborne, committed many aggressions against Malmesbury, inspired, according to William, by avarice. (fn. 58)
At this time, about 870, according to the tradition recorded by William of Malmesbury, (fn. 59) John Scotus Erigena, the philosopher, at the instigation of King Alfred took up his residence at the abbey as a fugitive from the Continent; after some years he was murdered by his pupils. He was buried first in St. Laurence's Church, but the body was later translated to the left of the high altar of the abbey church, chiefly as the result of preternatural portents. The terms of the epitaph as given by William imply that the dead scholar was regarded as a martyr; and it seems clear that he bases the story on an old tradition and a tomb bearing an epitaph of a 'John the Wise' who is termed saint and martyr. (fn. 60) This John, however, almost certainly cannot have been the famous philosopher; he may possibly have been John the Old Saxon whose unfortunate régime at Athelney (Som.) nearly ended in murder. (fn. 61) John the Old Saxon escaped from Athelney, but when and how he died we do not know; it is possible that he is to be identified with the John the Wise of Malmesbury.
Between 871 and 899 King Alfred granted to Malmesbury the reversion of land in Chelworth, in Crudwell, (fn. 62) but the abbey had to wait 30 years for possession. Even then it was necessary to surrender land at 'Mehandun' in exchange. (fn. 63) In 909 the 'monastery' of Gloucester was founded, and may have been peopled with monks, or more probably clerks, from Malmesbury, with which it was for a long time closely connected. (fn. 64)
Throughout the Middle Ages the memory of King Athelstan was honourèd at Malmesbury for his generous benefactions. He loaded the abbey with gifts, (fn. 65) which included a gold cross with a relic of the True Cross, which he used to wear in his battles, (fn. 66) and numerous relics of saints purchased from abroad. (fn. 67) He caused the bodies of his cousins Æthelweard and Ælfwine (fn. 68) to be buried in St. Mary's Church and his own body was later interred before the high altar. (fn. 69) William tells us that he gave a large number of estates to the abbey, but the only charter which he quotes (fn. 70) is a conflation of several others, (fn. 71) all of doubtful authenticity. (fn. 72)
Of the state of Malmesbury during the time of Athelstan and indeed for some decades before nothing is known. William writes that the abbey was turned into a 'sty of clerks' (stabulum clericorum) by King Edwy in 955, (fn. 73) but this date is almost impossible as the king did not ascend the throne until the November of that year and it is very probable that the familia of Malmesbury had not been monastic for many years. (fn. 74) There was, however, a tradition that Edwy granted land to the foundation, (fn. 75) while the secular clerks placed the body of St. Aldhelm in the shrine which had already been made for it. (fn. 76) If so doubtful a source as the pseudo-Ingulf is to be believed, Aio, a learned monk of Croyland, took temporary residence and refuge at Malmesbury from 941 to 946. (fn. 77)
The great revival, begun at Glastonbury about 943, which formed a turning-point in the history of English monastic life, appears to have reached Malmesbury in the reign of Edgar, and we may take William's word for it that it was St. Dunstan himself who rejected Edwy's clerks and put monks in their place. (fn. 78) The exact date at which the revival reached Malmesbury is doubtful; William places it in 974, (fn. 79) relying on a charter of Edgar to Abbot Ælfric who, the document says, had been appointed there to preside over the replacement of the secular clergy by monks. (fn. 80) Ælfric left many memories behind him at Malmesbury; (fn. 81) it was he who caused the Blessed Virgin to be regarded as the patron of the monastery in place of SS. Peter and Paul. (fn. 82) It was, however, as a builder that he was chiefly remembered: he rebuilt or completely restored (fn. 83) St. Mary's Church, which now became the chief church of the monastery, (fn. 84) and also added various conventual buildings. (fn. 85) The church was furnished with an organ having brazen pipes (fn. 86) and a holy-water vat, both of which were connected with the name of St. Dunstan, and the saint was said to have hidden the body of St. Aldhelm in a vault to the right of the high altar in anticipation of a recurrence (which he prophesied) (fn. 87) of the Danish invasions.
Ælfric appears to have been succeeded by Æthelweard, (fn. 88) who in turn was succeeded by Cineweard, Beorhtelm, and Beorhtwold. (fn. 89) Of the last it is recorded that he alienated the lands of the monastery for small sums. (fn. 90) It was about this time that the Danes visited Malmesbury. They broke into the monastery and took everything except St. Aldhelm's shrine, which, according to William, was saved by a preternatural portent (fn. 91)
Beorhtwold was followed by Abbot Eadric, (fn. 92) who is mentioned in 1012 (fn. 93) and 1021-3. (fn. 94) Wulfsine, the next abbot, restored monastic observance, which had suffered from the effects of the Danish raids. He seems to have won the respect of the community, for more than 50 years after his name was revered by aged members of the house, who sometimes told anecdotes of him to the youthful William. (fn. 95) Wulfsine must have died in 1034 at the very latest. (fn. 96) Of Æthelweard II and Ælfwine, who succeeded him, almost nothing is known. Beorhtwold II, the next abbot, was a man of bad character who collapsed and died in the course of a drunken orgy in the town. William gives a somewhat spectacular account of the exhumation of his corpse from St. Andrew's Church after the intervention of evil spirits and its subsequent consignment to a malodorous bog. (fn. 97)
The internal history of the abbey during the first half of the 11th century is largely obscure: William relates several miracles worked at the shrine of St. Aldhelm (fn. 98) and tells of the unscrupulous acquisition of the head of St. Ouen. (fn. 99) It was at this time too that a Greek monk named Constantine took up his abode at Malmesbury: his charm of conversation, gentle behaviour, and holiness of life endeared him to all, and we get a delightful picture of him working in the vineyard, which he had constructed on the hill to the north of the monastery. (fn. 100) It is recorded that on his deathbed Constantine suddenly rallied, and, placing an archiepiscopal pall on his shoulders, led the monks to believe that the stranger who had lived among them was an archbishop. He was buried with the abbots of Malmesbury in St. Andrew's Church; later, when his remains were disturbed to make new buildings, the whiteness and fineness of his bones led the community to regard him as a person of no mean quality either of birth or holiness. (fn. 101)
The last pre-conquest Abbot of Malmesbury was Beorhtric. The story of his appointment, as related by William, (fn. 102) presents considerable difficulties. According to William's account, immediately after the death of Abbot Beorhtwold II, Bishop Heremann of Ramsbury attempted to move his bishopric to Malmesbury, (fn. 103) alleging that the endowments of his see were insufficient to support him. (fn. 104) Edward the Confessor at first consented to this project, but the monks, headed by their prior Beorhtric, (fn. 105) at once persuaded Earl Godwin and his son Harold to intervene. (fn. 106) This they did with success, and Heremann, enraged, left England. Thereupon Beorhtric became Abbot of Malmesbury, over which, according to William, he presided for seven memorable years. (fn. 107) It seems likely, however, that his abbacy was of longer duration. He was deposed by the Conqueror either late in 1066 or early in 1067 (see below) and may have become abbot immediately upon Beorhtwold's death, which must have been between September 1052 (fn. 108) and April 1053. (fn. 109) At the latest he became abbot soon after Heremann's departure from England, which, according to Florence of Worcester, was in 1055. (fn. 110) It was during Beorhtric's abbacy, in 1065, that the Confessor granted Malmesbury a general confirmation of all its possessions, which it rated at 329 hides. (fn. 111)
It was about this time that Eilmar, a monk of Malmesbury, skilled in mathematics and astrology, (fn. 112) with, as William says, the rashness of youth in spite of his mature years, engaged upon a daring aeronautical experiment. He made himself wings which were worked by his hands and feet and threw himself into the air from the top of the tower. In the event his injuries were no more than a broken leg and, unabashed, he attributed his failure to fly solely to the fact that he had omitted to make himself a tail. The abbot, however, forbade a repetition of the experiment. (fn. 113)
Beorhtric's notable abbacy seems to have come to a sudden end in the closing month of 1066 or early in 1067, when he was transferred by the Conqueror to Burton (Staffs.) (fn. 114) to make way for Turold, a monk of Fécamp (Seine-Inférieure). (fn. 115) Turold appears to have been tactless and overbearing (fn. 116) and was soon at loggerheads with his community, whereupon the Conqueror translated him to Peterborough with the remark that as the abbot had acted more like a knight than an abbot he would find there battles in plenty to fight. (fn. 117) This was in the early months of 1070. (fn. 118)
In Turold's place the Conqueror appointed (fn. 119) another Norman of forceful character, (fn. 120) Warin, a monk of Lyre (Évreux). An ambitious man, he did not hesitate to squander monastic revenues to make his way in influential circles, and William of Malmesbury rather acidly contrasts his later grand manner with his humble beginnings. (fn. 121) Warin caused indignation by making sarcastic witticisms about the bones of his precedessors. He turned their remains, including those of Mailduib and John Scotus, out of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul and relegated them to a far corner of St. Michael's Church. He partly atoned, however, by the reverence which he showed to the body of St. Aldhelm, which he removed from the vault in which it had been hidden during the Danish raids. In 1078, assisted first by Serlo, Abbot of Gloucester, and later by St. Osmund, Bishop of Salisbury, he placed it in a magnificent shrine. (fn. 122) Two years later the startling cure of a poor deformed lad took place, and was reported by the monks to Warin, who was at court with Lanfranc. The archbishop immediately ordered Aldhelm to be venerated as a saint. (fn. 123)
Warin appears to have used his influential connexions to some purpose. Though the grant of 1081 in which the Conqueror confirmed Edward the Confessor's general grant of liberties is probably spurious, (fn. 124) Queen Maud gave 3 hides at Garsdon in that year (fn. 125) and in 1084 Godwin granted to Warin and the monks the London church of St. Nicholas Acon. (fn. 126)
It was during Warin's time that the Domesday Survey was made and in it we find the following properties belonging to the abbey. In Wiltshire: Highway (11 hides), Dauntsey (10 hides), Somerford Keynes (5 hides), Brinkworth (5 hides), Norton, near Malmesbury (5 hides), Brokenborough with Corston (50 hides), Kemble (30 hides—now in Glos.), Long Newnton (30 hides), Charlton (20 hides), Garsdon (3 hides), Crudwell (40 hides), Bremhill (38 hides), Purton (35 hides); (fn. 127) in Gloucestershire: Littleton - upon - Severn (5 hides); (fn. 128) and in Warwickshire: Newbold Pacey (3 hides). (fn. 129) These lands were valued at £188 14s. in all and were assessed as 3 knights' fees. (fn. 130)
Abbot Warin died sometime between September 1087 (fn. 131) and June 1091 (fn. 132) and was succeeded a fortnight later by Godfrey, a monk of Jumièges (Seine-Inférieure) (fn. 133) who had been steward and guardian of the vacant abbey of Ely for several years. (fn. 134) This abbot was active in adorning the church and increasing the goods of the monastery (fn. 135) and he gained William of Malmesbury's gratitude by building up a fine library in place of the former meagre collection of volumes, (fn. 136) a task in which the historian himself took part. In Godfrey firmness was combined with kindness; though irascible by nature, he was easily placated with a soft answer and was noted for his sobriety and frugality. In spite of all his work for the monastery he was criticized for the readiness with which he parted with the treasures of the church of Malmesbury at a price below their market value in order to aid Rufus in raising the money required for pawning the Duchy of Normandy in 1096; William gives an account of preternatural warnings and of the loathsome disease which attacked the abbot in consequence of his bad stewardship. (fn. 137) When Godfrey died a bronze ring was found encircling his stomach, a phenomenon attributed by some to austerity, by others to a desire to hide from the public eye his increasing girth. One of the critics of the late abbot composed verses in this strain which were rebutted in verses, equally inept, probably composed by William himself. (fn. 138) Rufus granted Godfrey the custody of his own woods at Bratton in 1094 (fn. 139) and between August 1100 and April 1101 Henry I renewed the Conqueror's grant of a five-day fair in Malmesbury town. (fn. 140)
Abbot Godfrey died in 1105 or 1106 and was succeeded by Eadwulf, a monk of Winchester. (fn. 141) Eadwulf is one of the most obscure of the abbots of Malmesbury. He is not mentioned by William of Malmesbury. Perhaps William did not get on with his superior and found it inexpedient to make any comments in chronicles which would almost certainly be seen by the abbot. In fact, beyond the reference in the Winchester annals we find Eadwulf mentioned only twice: once in a document by which Malmesbury granted a corrody in exchange for a hide of land at Kemble; (fn. 142) and again, although not by name, by Faricius, Abbot of Abingdon, who wished news of his forthcoming death to be sent to the Abbot of Malmesbury. (fn. 143) Faricius had left Malmesbury, where he was cellarer, in 1100 to become Abbot of Abingdon. (fn. 144) He died in 1117. (fn. 145)
According to the annals of Winchester, Bishop Roger of Salisbury took over the abbey in 1118, expelling Abbot Eadwulf. (fn. 146) William of Malmesbury hints at a violent usurpation, (fn. 147) but the Cottoman writer states that at Eadwulf's death Roger stepped in. (fn. 148) The classical description of Bishop Roger is given by William in his Historia Novella (fn. 149) where he records his humble beginnings, his financial ability, his progress from the office of chancellor to that of Bishop of Salisbury, his love of splendour and magnificent buildings, (fn. 150) his successful efforts to promote the fortunes of his relations and, in the end, his fall, misfortune, and unlamented death. It was not until September 1131 that Roger obtained royal permission for his seizure of Malmesbury and its endowments, and it was some five years later that he obtained the borough of Malmesbury for himself. (fn. 151) This was a time of trouble and confusion in which Malmesbury was more than once involved in the strife between the parties of Stephen and Maud. At Malmesbury, close to the abbey church, Roger began to build a castle in the abbey graveyard, (fn. 152) and this, and other buildings at Malmesbury, were highly praised by William for their excellence of design and construction. (fn. 153) After the arrest of Roger in 1139 (fn. 154) Malmesbury was seized by Stephen, (fn. 155) recaptured on 7 October 1139 by Robert FitzHubert with great violence, (fn. 156) and retaken by Stephen a fortnight later. (fn. 157) Hardly were these tumultuous events over when Roger died on 11 December 1139. (fn. 158)
At Reading, shortly after Christmas 1139, Stephen invested John, a monk at Malmesbury, with the abbacy, (fn. 159) at the same time restoring the monastic estates which Roger had seized. As abbot, John made a journey to Rome and his friend William of Malmesbury drew up an account of his travels entitled apparently Itinerarium Johannis abbatis Malmesburiensis versus Romam. (fn. 160) Unfortunately this work no longer exists. John was a man of exemplary character, liberal and kindly, although his election had been opposed by Henry of Blois, who thought that the abbot had parted with money to the king for his election. (fn. 161) William, however, assures us that he paid only a small sum and that to secure the liberties of the abbey alone. John died on 19 August 1140 (fn. 162) within a few months of taking office, leaving behind him an 'unfading memory'. (fn. 163)
The next abbot was Peter Moraunt, (fn. 164) a native of Bourges, (fn. 165) appointed early in 1141 by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester and legate. (fn. 166) Peter had been a monk of Cluny, (fn. 167) and had been for a time Prior of La Charité and then superior of the monastery of St. Urban near Joinville (HauteMarne). He had troubles to face there and at the request of Henry of Blois he came to England. (fn. 168) Peter was a man of learning and education; (fn. 169) he composed verses (fn. 170) and had accompanied Abbot John on his journey to Rome. (fn. 171) William tells us, not without a certain complacency, that he had himself been offered the abbacy—not for the first time—but had declined in favour of his friend Peter. (fn. 172)
The new abbot succeeded in the midst of the turmoil of the Anarchy, and Malmesbury again played a prominent part in the conflict. In 1144 William of Dover attacked Malmesbury, which was blockaded by the Earl of Gloucester until relieved by the king. (fn. 173) In the following year Malmesbury was again harassed by William of Dover, who seized the castellan of the castle and sent him to the empress. The empress in return attempted to win the garrison over by every possible means, only to find it reinforced by Stephen. (fn. 174) Comparative peace then followed for some years, though, as at Salisbury, there was friction between the military guarding the castle and the religious. This friction forced Pope Eugenius III in April 1151 to order the military (fn. 175) not to molest the monks. The capture of Malmesbury Castle in 1153 by the young Henry of Anjou in his bid for power was the final incident in the Anarchy. (fn. 176)
With the help of Stephen and of Henry of Blois, Peter early obtained a bull of Pope Innocent II reiterating Malmesbury's exemption from episcopal control and confirming its possessions. (fn. 177) This was confirmed by Eugenius III (1151), Anastasius IV (1153), and Adrian IV (1156). (fn. 178) Little is known of the internal working of the abbey during the time of Abbot Peter. Some land was granted away in fee farm (fn. 179) and the vill of Chelworth and 15 hides of land were acquired. This acquisition was in exchange for the fraternitas of the abbey, a corrody, a special collect to be said daily at Mass, and the promotion of the grantor's three sons to Holy Orders. (fn. 180) It is possible that Peter entertained Henry 11 and Archbishop Theobald when they were at Malmesbury in September 1157. (fn. 181)
It was early in the abbacy of Peter, perhaps in 1143, that William of Malmesbury died. He had been born about 1095 and had spent most of his life in the monastery, first as a student and then as librarian and precentor successively. The fine qualities displayed in his historical writings justify his own claim to be the first monastic historian since Bede. A great debt is due to him for his contributions to historiography in general, and for the history of his own house and that of Glastonbury his work is invaluable. It may safely be claimed that in his calm maturity and sober judgement he stands far above the chroniclers of his period, and after Aldhelm he must remain the greatest glory of Malmesbury. (fn. 182)
According to Hearne, Peter died on 5 February 1159. (fn. 183) This, however, is subject to doubt and perhaps the royal writ of between April 1155 and 1158, requesting the abbey's tenants to do service to their abbot as their ancestors had done, indicates the date of Gregory's accession. (fn. 184) Little is known of Gregory except that he was educated at Westminster Abbey (fn. 185) and took part in various important events outside Malmesbury in 1163. (fn. 186) During his abbacy, in 1163, Pope Alexander III confirmed the exemption of the abbey. (fn. 187) Haif a hide of land in Sutton Benger was leased out for a rent and reduced services. (fn. 188) Gregory appointed a master cook (fn. 189) and also a master porter. This porter, Reynold FitzSimon, was disseised during the next abbatial vacancy (fn. 190) and was only finally restored by Abbot Osbert. (fn. 191)
The death of Gregory, which must have taken place sometime in 1168, was followed by a vacancy which lasted until late 1171 or early 1172. (fn. 192) Robert, the next abbot, is said to have been a physician to Henry II and was surnamed 'de Venys'. (fn. 193) His appointment or election was the signal for a dispute between the abbots of Malmesbury and the bishops of Salisbury which lasted for nearly half a century. Fortified by the long series of papal confirmations of exemption obtained by his predecessors, Abbot Robert refused to take the oath of obedience to Jocelin, Bishop of Salisbury, which the latter demanded before giving him the abbatial blessing. Jocelin then refused to perform the ceremony and Robert appealed to Rome and received the blessing from another bishop. (fn. 194) Thereupon Bishop Jocelin refused to allow clergy presented by the abbot to churches in his diocese to be inducted. In 1174 Pope Alexander III ordered the bishops of London and Worcester to investigate the dispute, and in a bull of the following year he stated that, as the Bishop of Salisbury still troubled the monks on account of the profession of obedience, the Bishop of Exeter and the Abbot of Ford were to inspect the privileges of Malmesbury and, if satisfied, to inhibit the Bishop of Salisbury from such action in the future. (fn. 195) The Pope, in further bulls of 1175 and 1177, ordered Jocelin to admit clerics of suitable character to the Malmesbury benefices when presented by the abbot. (fn. 196)
Abbot Robert had other troubles as well. Discord broke out between him and certain of the brethren, and in 1176 (probably) the bishops of Exeter and Worcester visited the abbey at the papal behest to take measures to ease the situation. (fn. 197) According to Gerald de Barry, (fn. 198) Robert was accused of illiteracy by the monks and Gerald tells an amusing story of his mis-reading of a Latin word when examined by the papal commissioners. John Cumin, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, however, intervened and related an anecdote of an even more illiterate abbot in Rome. It was decided that as Abbot Robert was a good steward and guardian of his monastery he should remain in office, but that the prior and sub-prior should 'supply his defects' where spiritual issues were concerned. (fn. 199) Upon Robert's death, which appears to have been in 1176, (fn. 200) Osbert Foliot, who had been Prior of Gloucester, (fn. 201) was elected abbot, and, as before, Bishop Jocelin claimed obedience. Osbert apparently refused, and Richard, Archbishop of Canterbury, intervened in the dispute that followed. Early in 1177 while the issue was still sub judice Osbert went secretly to Wales, where he received the abbatial blessing from Bishop Nicholas of Llandaff. According to a report that he made to the Pope, the archbishop, for his part, suspended the Bishop of Llandaff, called the disputants together, and found against Malmesbury's claim to exemption. (fn. 202) About the same time Bishop Nicholas wrote a letter of abject apology to Bishop Jocelin. (fn. 203) Early in 1177 Osbert appealed to the Pope, who thereupon appointed judges delegate. The delegates were to inspect the privileges of Malmesbury and if they found them to comprise exemption were to restrain the diocesan and others from meddling. (fn. 204) The decision of the delegates is not known, but it may be inferred that it was in Malmesbury's favour, for shortly afterwards the Pope granted or confirmed to the abbey various rights and privileges—a course which he could hardly have taken if he had been lending his support to Jocelin. Thus the abbey was confirmed in its right to present incumbents to livings (fn. 205) and was licensed to appropriate the churches of Westport (Malmesbury) and Purton—the one to find lights burning day and night before St. Aldhelm's altar, the other to provide for a weekly commemoration of the Blessed Virgin: (fn. 206) the churches of Colerne and Dauntsey which had been usurped by vicars, who had refused to move pendente lite, were restored, (fn. 207) and the monks were protected from dishonest merchants, who had falsely accused them of contracting debts while at the papal court. (fn. 208)
Abbot Osbert granted ½ hide at Foxham (fn. 209) (in Bremhill) at a rent of 14s. and for service on onerous terms and another 2 hides in Swindon at a rent of 40s. (fn. 210) He also appointed a second master-cook and reinstated Reynold FitzSimon in his hereditary portership. (fn. 211) The abbot died on 17 March 1182. (fn. 212)
In 1183 Master Nicholas, (fn. 213) a monk of St. Alban's, succeeded to the abbacy. (fn. 214) Nicholas had been Prior of Wallingford and had come more than once into public notice. (fn. 215) Of his career as abbot, which lasted until 1186 or possibly 1187, (fn. 216) we know nothing save that he was deposed after having been accused before the king and archbishop for running into heavy debt and having refused to amend. (fn. 217) A bull of Celestine III (fn. 218) states that Abbot Nicholas had promoted immature and unsuitable candidates to the sub diaconate and diaconate, having them ordained by some 'unknown' bishop on St. Stephen's day. (fn. 219) Further, he forbade them either to exercise their orders or to proceed to the priesthood. The significance of this apparently unintelligible procedure seems to be that Abbot Nicholas wished to show his independence of the diocesan by taking action which had no purpose other than to flout the authority of the Bishop of Salisbury. (fn. 220)
For most of 1187-9 the abbey was in the king's hands, (fn. 221) and Robert of Melûn, sub prior of Winchester, must have succeeded in the latter year. (fn. 222) Early in his abbacy, in 1191, he obtained a grant of exemption from Celestine III, (fn. 223) a dispensation for irregularities committed by Abbot Nicholas, (fn. 224) and papal confirmation of the appropriations of the churches of St. Mary's Westport, Crudwell, Kemble, Purton, and Bremhill. (fn. 225) About the same time Richard I granted him a charter of protection, describing him as specialis clericus noster. (fn. 226) Robert was much in public affairs and between 1194 and 1199 was employed as a justice. (fn. 227) He was also employed as a papal delegate in a number of cases, of which the most famous was that at Evesham in 1202-3. (fn. 228) It was doubtless at this time that the bond of union between the abbeys of Malmesbury and Evesham was drawn up. Under this agreement monks of either house had full right of entry into choir or chapter of the other, and mutual prayers for the living and dead of both houses were arranged for in detail. (fn. 229) Abbot Robert, like his predecessors, continued to let out land for cash rents (fn. 230) and also granted a corrody. (fn. 231)
Robert of Melûn died on 24 May 1206 (fn. 232) and the vacancy lasted until September 1208, when an abbot-elect is first mentioned. (fn. 233) The new abbot, Walter Loring, had been a secular clerk in the entourage of Abbot Robert I, (fn. 234) and was a monk for 30 years before he became abbot. (fn. 235) His abbacy was marked by a renewal of the conflict with the Bishop of Salisbury. Richard Poore, on his translation from Chichester to Salisbury in 1217, determined to end the exempt position of Malmesbury. Accordingly he wrote to Honorius III explaining that this exemption injured his authority, and the Pope, in June 1218, appointed the abbots of Waverley and Durford to examine the whole situation. (fn. 236) At the subsequent proceedings Malmesbury was represented by John Walsh; (fn. 237) the bishop argued for a return to the situation in Bishop Roger's time; Pandulf, the legate, and King John, however, favoured a compromise, and so it was agreed. Under this the monastery was to remain totally exempt, (fn. 238) but the bishop was to receive the manor of Highway and the advowsons of Bremhill (fn. 239) and Highway. The documents issued by past popes were to be deposited at Cirencester Abbey until it was seen whether the Pope would confirm the decision of the commissioners. If he did so, the documents were to be returned to Malmesbury forthwith; (fn. 240) if he did not they were to remain at Cirencester with the proviso that they might be removed to Salisbury if trouble should break out again. Copies of the documents were to be deposited at Waverley. There is no evidence that the Pope confirmed Malmesbury's exemption, but the bishop did so. (fn. 241)
Walter was an energetic superior in many ways. In 1215 he secured from King John the borough of Malmesbury and the three hundreds belonging to it, (fn. 242) and in the following year Malmesbury Castle, with permission to destroy it if the monks wished to use the site. (fn. 243) Reference about this time to new methods of cultivation and inclosures at Ashley (fn. 244) suggest that Walter was an enterprising agriculturist. Other of his services to the abbey are recorded in an undated charter. (fn. 245) Among the changes made was the assignment of three manors to the conventual cook. (fn. 246) This is said to have been done to stifle certain complaints. Walter repaid £160 which his predecessor had borrowed from the Jews and 100 marks owing to the king, and he restored the church and sacristy. (fn. 247) A little later he secured the consent of the Bishop of Salisbury to the appropriation of Crudwell church, alleging the expenses of hospitality as a justification of the need for this extra source of income. (fn. 248) Perhaps more worldly wise than spiritual, he had during the years of his abbacy received monks whose illiteracy or ill fame caused scandal. In 1216 Innocent III forbade him to do this in the future, but the Pope followed his rebuke a few days later by a general confirmation of the abbey's privileges. (fn. 249)
Loring died in 1222, (fn. 250) and his successor, John Walsh or Welsh, was a monk of Malmesbury. (fn. 251) His election received the royal assent on 10 November 1222. (fn. 252) He appears to have taken some part in public life both in church and state. (fn. 253) He acquired land in 'Scirmore' for repairing roofs and for other expenses, (fn. 254) made inclosures at Brokenborough, (fn. 255) and in 1230 obtained the consent of the Archbishop of Canterbury to the acquisition of tithes and lands for the maintenance of hospitality. (fn. 256) According to Matthew Paris he was suspended in 1244 by the papal legate for opposing the latter's extortionate financial demands. (fn. 257) During his abbacy Henry III twice visited the monastery. (fn. 258)
On John's death in late February or early March 1246, (fn. 259) Geoffrey, sacristan (fn. 260) of Malmesbury, succeeded. (fn. 261) The Bishop of Salisbury arranged for him to be blessed as abbot in Salisbury Cathedral on Sunday, 29 April, but the convent, alleging Geoffrey's physical weakness, urged that he should be blessed at Potterne without prejudice to the bishop's rights in the future. (fn. 262) Of Geoffrey's abbacy little is worthy of record. In 1247 he appropriated the church of Brinkworth. (fn. 263) In 1252 he obtained a royal grant of a weekly market at Westport and a fair at Whitchurch, (fn. 264) both in Malmesbury. The market and fair may have done something to relieve the debts which we find mentioned in the following year, (fn. 265) though Geoffrey left debts of £147 to be paid off by his successor. In general Geoffrey does not seem to have been a particularly energetic superior, (fn. 266) perhaps because of his ill health.
The election as abbot of William of Colerne, monk of Malmesbury, received the assent of Henry III on 20 April 1260 (fn. 267) and was the signal for an era of vigorous rule and forceful administration. As a financier and agriculturist William was outstanding: his financial skill is illustrated by his action in buying a wardship and the manor of Weston (Herefs.) at Easter 1283 for 55 marks (fn. 268) and selling it in June for 70 marks. (fn. 269) There is a long list of this abbot's acquisitions in the cartulary; (fn. 270) he obtained the churches of Purton and Kemble and a large number of parcels of land, including the manors of Blackland near Calne, Colerne, and Fowlswick in Chippenham. The yearly value of these estates was worth £183 5s. and we are told that he spent £753 13s. 4d. on their purchase, an investment yielding the enormous return of approximately 25 per cent. on his capital.
It was during the abbacy of William of Colerne that the Taxation of Pope Nicholas IV was made: (fn. 271) from it, and from a rent roll of the manors of Malmesbury, probably made at about the same time, (fn. 272) we can get a picture of the properties owned by the abbey at the end of the 13th century. They comprised the churches of St. Mary Westport and St. Paul in Malmesbury, Kemble, Crudwell, and Purton, and pensions in the churches or chapels of St. Nicholas Acon, London, Llanfihangel (Mon.), Foxley, Brinkworth, and Lyneham; also the manors of Littleton-upon-Severn, Bremhill (with Hazeland, Bremhill Wick, Spirthill, Hanger Park, Foxham, and Avon), Blackland (Calne), Brokenborough (with 'Kynegareshay', Thornhill, Burton, and Cleverton), Charlton, Cole Park (Malmesbury), Colerne, Euridge (Colerne), Norton, Garsdon, Long Newnton, Kemble, Brinkworth, Grittenham (Brinkworth), Sutton Benger, Fowlswick (Chippenham), Whitchurch (Malmesbury), Crudwell (including West Crudwell, Chelworth, Murcott, Eastcourt, 'Shortway', 'Ykemree', Hankerton, and Cloatley), and lands in the parish of St. Nicholas Acon (London) and at Sherston Pinkney.
Certain estates were allotted to various obedientiaries: the cook had a mill at Cole Park, part of the profits of three mills at Brokenborough, and incomes from Kemble and Crudwell; the pittancer had moneys coming from Kemble and Crudwell and the sacrist an income from Crudwell. The annual income of Malmesbury at this time as given in the Taxatio was £325 19s. 11d. The rental shows money rents paid to the value of £177 7s. 11½d.
William of Colerne pursued a vigorous agricultural policy. At Brinkworth (fn. 273) he made extensive inclosures and at 'la Rowmershe' in the valley of the By Brook near Yatton Keynell (fn. 274) he drained a large area of land, surrounding it with hedges and acquiring for the abbey all necessary rights of approvement from neighbouring landholders. A sum of no less than £1,315 1s. 1½d. was spent on stocks of corn, (fn. 275) doubtless sold at very considerable profit.
A large proportion of the money gained from this progressive agricultural policy was discharged on building operations. To the abbey buildings he added two large stone halls (fn. 276) and a kitchen, he rewalled and reroofed with stone the larder which lay near the abbot's garden, he filled that garden with vines and apple-trees, he planted a vineyard and a herb-garden, and he rewalled and reroofed the infirmary and chapter-house. He also erected a chapel dedicated to St. Aldhelm in the convent garden and three ovens near the convent kitchen. On the manors he built many farm buildings, including fourteen barns in various manors, stables, and a mill at Purton. Finally he rebuilt the churches of Crudwell and Kemble.
Abbot William rendered many other material services to the convent. He assigned a great number of estates and tithes to provide alms for the poor, to augment the pittances of the convent, to provide lights in the Lady Chapel and a mass in the charnel-house chapel. He increased the almoner's income and augmented the funds of the kitchen. (fn. 277) Further, he spent £47 13s. 4d. on elaborate copes and vestments for the church, (fn. 278) and £100 in laying on water to the abbey: it was at Martinmas 1284 that the water first flowed into the troughs. (fn. 279) Nor was the abbot behindhand in paying feudal dues, debts, (fn. 280) or necessary legal expenses: £140 was spent at the time of the quo warranto inquests; (fn. 281) he acquired a licence in mortmain for obtaining the legacy of a house in Fleet Street, London, (fn. 282) he paid 40 marks arrears of tribute due from Malmesbury to the Pope, (fn. 283) and spent considerable sums in the king's service before the battle of Evesham and in the Welsh, Scottish, and Gascon wars.
Of the purely spiritual side of the abbot's rule we are less well informed. He was clearly a conscientious disciplinarian and his decrees made in 1293 regulating the monks' food (fn. 284) show a desire to avoid all forms of singularity and disorder. The times and places when flesh was to be eaten were clearly stated, and were to be the same for all; meals in the misericordia were to be eaten in a silence interrupted only by the voice of the reader, all were to be present at grace after dinner and to go quietly and together to bed after compline. It is perhaps not surprising that a monk of Winchester petitioned to join the community. (fn. 285)
Abbot William took some part in public affairs, though it seems that domestic administration was his main interest. He entertained Henry III at Malmesbury on I September 1265 (fn. 286) and Edward I on 23 March 1283. (fn. 287) It was, however, at this time that the king began to pension off aged retainers upon the abbey, (fn. 288) a practice against which later abbots were to protest in vain. Archbishop Peckham caused Abbot William some anxiety by apparently questioning the immunity of the abbey, though in the event we find a document of April 1282 (fn. 289) in the archbishop's register admitting its exemption. (fn. 290)
By 1287 the abbot's health was failing and he was too ill to attend the Parliament of that year or the one of August 1296. (fn. 291) At the latter date the life of the abbot was drawing to a close and in September 1296 he died. (fn. 292) He was by far the most imposing of the later medieval abbots of Malmesbury, a brilliant financier, a lover of discipline, a keen realist and possibly a patron of learning, (fn. 293) he is perhaps not unworthy to stand beside an Amesbury of Glastonbury or an Eastry of Canterbury as typical of the best 13th-century monastic superior.
William of Badminton, whose election received the royal assent on 25 October 1296, (fn. 294) was in some ways a not unworthy successor to William of Colerne: but, whereas Colerne found his chief work in acquiring and improving monastic estates and in maintaining discipline at home, Badminton occupied himself far more in public affairs and identified himself in particular with the general interests of the English Black Monk Congregation. He was one of the presidents of the congregation from 1298 to 1310 or 1311 (fn. 295) and appears to have carried out his duties with regularity and precision.
It was in 1298, during the abbacy of Badminton, that a committee of the General Chapter (fn. 296) of the Black Monks decided to establish a house of studies for the Black Monks of southern England. (fn. 297) This foundation was in Stockwell Street, Oxford, in what had formerly been a cell to Gloucester Abbey. (fn. 298) Malmesbury was chosen to provide the prior and monks, probably because Sir John Gifford, the founder, was now living in retirement at the abbey and doubtless under the abbot's influence. Though the college was never completely controlled by Malmesbury, it was inevitable that the abbey should exercise a very considerable influence over it. It was in November 1298 that three Malmesbury monks were sent there to take over the establishment, (fn. 299) and Abbot Badminton was present at Oxford that year for the inception of the first Black Monk who had studied theology there. (fn. 300)
In his dealings with the general chapter we get the impression of a busy man of affairs, quick to seize the opportunity whether great or small, and it was perhaps no accident of chance that a Malmesbury monk, Philip Dentesey (or Dauntsey), was appointed chapter's representative at the Council of Vienne in 1311. (fn. 301)
Less is known of Badminton's administration at home: he appears as a rule merely to have taken over Colerne's financial and agricultural heritage without further exploiting it. We hear of large supplies of corn being bought in the first years of his abbacy; (fn. 302) on the other hand, he complained of serious financial difficulties in the winter of 1323. It is possible, however, that here the abbot was merely making excuses in an attempt to protect himself and his community against the fifth aged royal retainer to be planted on them in the space of a few years. (fn. 303) As most of these pensioners were retired musicians (fn. 304) —a temperamental race— it was perhaps not unnatural for the abbot to allege financial difficulties following upon pestilence and floods. In 1304 Mary, daughter of Edward I, was entertained at Malmesbury. (fn. 305) The abbot was away in Rome in late 1300 or early 1301 (fn. 306) and again between 1309 and 1314. In 1316 there was trouble when three Malmesbury monks castigated a clerk of Rodborough (Glos.) with a sapling (cum virga flexibili) for an unnamed crime. Bishop Roger Mortival of Salisbury gave the abbot power to remove their excommunications. (fn. 307)
Abbot William of Badminton was perhaps prominent rather than great; he moved in important social events and forwarded the interests of Malmesbury by the adroit use of such machinery as came to hand. Of his inner character and feelings we know nothing, but we cannot resist the conclusion that his career was such as to afford a dangerous precedent in that he devoted too much attention to public rather than domestic concerns. He died in May 1324 after an abbacy of nearly 30 years. (fn. 308)
Badminton was succeeded by Adam de la Hoke, a monk of Malmesbury, (fn. 309) and Adam by John of Tintern. (fn. 310) Both abbots were deeply implicated in the civil wars of Edward II's reign. (fn. 311) It appears that Tintern was the ringleader and he did not extricate himself from his troubles until 1347. (fn. 312) Nothing is known of their government of the convent (fn. 313) or their care of its interests, save that de la Hoke was involved in a lengthy dispute with the Grown over the advowson of Brinkworth church. (fn. 314) It may be that de la Hoke's projected journey to Rome just before his death was connected with this dispute. (fn. 315)
The election of Simon de Aumeney, a monk of Malmesbury recently made prior of the Malmesbury cell at Pilton (Devon) (fn. 316) and whose surname was apparently Seagre, (fn. 317) received the royal assent on 19 August 1349. (fn. 318) His rule presents no striking features, though there are indications that all was not going well with the abbey. A former Prior of Malmesbury who later became superior at Pilton had an illegitimate daughter; (fn. 319) and a monk, Andrew of Tiderinton, apostatized from religion in 1353. (fn. 320) Abbot Simon died in October 1361. (fn. 321)
Walter de Camme, who was elected on 31 October 1362, (fn. 322) was of completely different calibre from his three immediate predecessors. Vigorous, enterprising, and efficient, he was perhaps made in the pattern of William of Badminton. Of a Gloucestershire family which had important connexions in London, he had made his mark as a competent, if not always tactful, Prior of Gloucester College, (fn. 323) and had played some part in Malmesbury affairs during the rule of his, possibly somewhat effete, predecessor. (fn. 324) He always displayed a keen interest in the Oxford college and had proved a tireless upholder of the Malmesbury interests there.
At Malmesbury perhaps the most important memorial of de Camme's abbacy was the acquisition, largely by the help of William de Camme his brother, of a very large property at Lincoln's Inn in Holborn. This property, together with other revenues from nearer home, formed a foundation for the Lady Chapel, with its daily sung mass, Six candles were to burn there daily at mass and there was to be a daily private mass for the abbot's soul. (fn. 325) A new obedientiary was created for the important foundation, the warden of the Lady Chapel.
There had been some renewal of the ancient dispute with the bishops of Salisbury; what the occasions of it were is not known, but in 1364 Abbot Walter achieved a satisfactory agreement with Bishop Robert Wyville. By this the so-called customary payment to the bishop was not to be revived and the monks of Malmesbury were to be ordained by any bishop according to earlier custom. With regard to the appropriation of churches, a further single appropriation was to be allowed. For this grant the abbot paid altogether £22. (fn. 326) A more important concession was obtained from Pope Urban VI and Archbishop Simon of Sudbury. Abbot Walter and the convent had petitioned for the use of pontificalia on the ground that Malmesbury was an exempt abbey worth no less than 6,000 florins annually. Urban VI instructed the archbishop to investigate these claims, and the abbot's proctor was able to show that pontifical ornaments were used in other exempt monasteries. Accordingly in 1379 the archbishop granted permission for the abbot and his successors to wear mitre, gloves, sandals, tunic, dalmatic, and other pontifical ornaments on appropriate occasions in the monastery and its dependencies: also to give the solemn blessing during mass, evensong, and lauds and at table, provided no archbishop, bishop, or legate was present. (fn. 327)
Abbot Walter died in February 1396 (fn. 328) after an abbacy of 35 years, in the earlier part of which he had displayed vigour and initiative. Royal assent to the election of Thomas Chelworth (or Chelesworth), said to have been 'provided to the abbey' (fn. 329) by the king, was given on 18 March 1396. On election he was induced by the community to take an oath to observe certain statutes and ordinances drawn up by it, apparently with the knowledge and approval of the late abbot. For some six or seven years the new abbot submitted to this yoke, but in 1403 he appealed against it to Rome. The Pope instructed the Abbot of Stanley to investigate the matter and, if the facts were as alleged, to release Abbot Thomas from his oath on performance of a suitable penance. (fn. 330) Who the ringleaders were in this conciliar movement at Malmesbury and what was their precise purpose is not known. It seems likely that Abbot Walter de Camme's displays of authority were not always prudent or tactful, and doubtless dissentient members of the community had gained the consent of the abbot to the oath when he was in his dotage.
Little is known of the regime of Abbot Thomas at home. He took some part in outside affairs. (fn. 331) At the chapter of 1423, when he was represented by his prior, he was admonished for not sending monks to study at Oxford. (fn. 332) In 1412 he transferred to Worcester Priory certain of the outlying property in Stockwell Street, Oxford, (fn. 333) and in 1421 he gave the Rector of Somerford Keynes a corrody in return for an undertaking by the rector to attend to Malmesbury business when required. (fn. 334) He died towards the end of March 1424. (fn. 335)
The election of the next abbot, Roger Pershore, Prior of Malmesbury, received the royal assent on 5 May. (fn. 336) Shortly after, the Bishop of Salisbury sat in the episcopal chapel at Ramsbury to hear a protest from Malmesbury against the bishop's action in making inquiries about the fitness of the new candidate for office. (fn. 337) The abbey, it was pointed out, was subject immediately to the Holy See and was not in any way under the bishop's jurisdiction, and though in fact the abbots were blessed by the diocesan there was no need for this to be so. (fn. 338) The bishop replied that he had not intended to derogate from Malmesbury's privileged position. Of Pershore's abbacy nothing is known. He died on 26 March 1434. (fn. 339)
The congé for the new election was given on 13 April, (fn. 340) and on Saturday the 17th, after a mass of the Holy Ghost, the convent met to elect a new abbot. The occasion was an unusual one in that there appears to have been a genuine election by ballot. There were 26 electors, 23 of whom were priests. Three scrutators were appointed and it was decided that two named apostates should have no vote by proxy. Of the votes cast, Thomas Bristow obtained 13, William Aust 11, William Wolpen 1, and Robert Upton 1. In the evening Thomas Bristow accepted office in the infirmary chapel. (fn. 341)
Bristow had been ordained priest by Bishop Mascall of Hereford at Leominster in September 1406, (fn. 342) so he was probably in the middle fifties when he was elected. His abbacy is notable merely for the beginnings at Malmesbury of an abuse that was to become so common later as to acquire a certain respectability, that of monks leaving the monastery to take on the cure of souls. Thus in 1450 John Brystow received papal permission to take a benefice, (fn. 343) and William Avenyng obtained a similar dispensation in 1453. (fn. 344) In 1452 the Bishop of Salisbury renewed the claim renounced by his predecessor to ordain all Malmesbury monks, (fn. 345) but it is unknown whether the claim was admitted or not. Thomas Bristow died in late November or early December 1456. (fn. 346)
On 14 December John Andever S.T.P. was elected by 'inspiration' (fn. 347) after a meeting at which 23 were present in the chapter-house. (fn. 348) The new abbot was the illegitimate son of a priest and an unmarried woman, and in 1437 had received a dispensation to hold any ecclesiastical dignity. (fn. 349) He was then a bachelor of theology: by about 1439 he was a doctor and Prior of Gloucester College, (fn. 350) and in 1446 had become prior of the cell at Pilton. (fn. 351) A man of some learning, (fn. 352) he did not live to hold the abbey long. In 1459 he obtained permission to be away for two years with 24 servants in order to visit Rome and the holy places on business connected with the monastery. (fn. 353) Doubtless he was back at Malmesbury to entertain Edward IV when he spent two days there in September 1461. (fn. 354) He died in September 1462. (fn. 355)
Twenty-nine electors assembled (fn. 356) to choose the new abbot on 15 October, when John Ayly was elected by 'inspiration'. (fn. 357) In 1476 the king took Malmesbury under his protection for five years, on the ground that the abbot was blind and incapable of government. (fn. 358) How far this was true is doubtful: the abbot could hardly have been 70 years old at this date, (fn. 359) and if he were so old and incapable it is difficult to see why the king thought him fit to receive the obedience of the new Abbot of Cirencester in 1478. (fn. 360) It is possible that the monastery had again become involved in politics. It is perhaps significant that the Duke of Clarence wrote from Malmesbury for military aid in March 1471, just before deciding to make his submission to the king on the eve of the battle of Barnet. (fn. 361)
Abbot Ayly died in April 1480, (fn. 362) and the next abbot, Thomas Olveston, (fn. 363) received the temporalities from the king in the following June. (fn. 364) The next election, held on 4 March 1510, was attended by 18 electors. (fn. 365) It is interesting to note that not only had the community reached this low level (it was up again to 32 in 1527), (fn. 366) but nearly all its members held offices, many of them in duplicate. The course of this election was not straightforward. Part of the community apparently wished for Richard Frampton as abbot, while an equally strong party led by the prior was violently opposed to him. Indeed the prior withheld the common seal of the abbey and the petition for royal confirmation had to be sealed with another seal borrowed for the occasion. (fn. 367) Although the king gave his assent to Frampton's election on 28 June 1510, (fn. 368) it was not until over a year later that a commission set up by the Bishop of Salisbury and meeting at Marlborough decided finally in his favour, (fn. 369) and the abbot took his oath of fealty to the Crown on the following day. (fn. 370) Less than four years later, in February 1515, Frampton died. (fn. 371)
Richard Camme, who had been cook and steward in 1510, was elected abbot in March 1515. (fn. 372) On 20 December 1527 (fn. 373) the Abbot of Gloucester carried out a visitation of Malmesbury on behalf of the president. Abbot Camme deposed that many of the monks rebelled against all authority and that he had been unable to repress even grave crimes; that at 7 p.m. on 10 November eight (fn. 374) of the monks fully armed had broken into his quarters, threatened him with physical violence and removed two monks who were in his prison for evil behaviour; that of these insurgents, Thomas Gloucester had often cast away his habit, had climbed over the walls and consorted with harlots, and had seized the possessions of others for his own use, and John London was nearly as bad, and had apostatized and offered violence, and Robert Ciscetur was frequently drunk. Other monks, continued the abbot, were little better: several had broken out at night, the prior, John Codryngton, was remiss and openly admitted it in light-hearted fashion, the sub-prior was equally weak, there was no reading in the refectory, soft garments were worn, and women of doubtful reputation were received in the infirmary. The complaints of the rest of the community follow and charges both grave and slight were alleged freely. It appears clear that the abbot had allowed the community to become completely out of hand: he was violent tempered, even hitting the brethren with his stick, (fn. 375) and he was under the influence of a local woman called Alice Taylor who spent a good deal of time with him gossiping and retailing information about the behaviour of the community. (fn. 376) The general impression conveyed is one of sordidness and neglect, of services sung late because there was no clock, of ill-cooked food, neglect of the sick, inadequate plumbing, absence of mass-servers, brawling, grumbling, and disorder. The Abbot of Gloucester promptly excommunicated six of the monks (fn. 377) and issued a lengthy series of injunctions which included reform in the infirmary, the provision of a new water-supply within three years at most, the purchase of a clock, the finding of two boys to serve mass, and instructions to the abbot to learn self-control and to be more kindly and considerate.
The abbot was dead by 13 May 1533 (fn. 378) and a complex series of events followed. Cromwell, who had been appointed Secretary of State just over a month before, clearly wished Robert Frampton, the chamberlain, to succeed to the abbacy. He therefore wrote on 13 May to the prior desiring the chamberlain to be one of those sent to certify the death of the late abbot to the king. The prior had, however, forestalled Cromwell and two of the brethren had already been sent for the purpose. (fn. 379) Meanwhile a party in support of the candidature of Walter Jay or Bristow (fn. 380) was springing up, and Rowland Lee hastened to Malmesbury on 17 June to carry out Cromwell's wishes in the matter of the election. (fn. 381) When he got there, he found letters to him from Cromwell (fn. 382) stating that the king wished to have an election by compromise; (fn. 383) this, however, proved difficult as Bristow's party insisted on an election by ballot, saying that they had the king's licence for a free election. As Bristow's faction was more than double that of Frampton, Lee could get no farther and therefore postponed the election until 17 July. His visit, however, was not fruitless, for he acquired from the Abbot of Gloucester the comperta of the visitation of 1527, (fn. 384) which furnished more than enough information to discredit Bristow, though unfortunately many of Frampton's party were also deeply compromised and Lee marked their names with a cross so that this information should be concealed. (fn. 385) The next step was the dispatch of a letter of 3 July from John Codryngton, the prior, and others of Bristow's party, stating that they had heard from the king that he had been told that there were great dissensions at Malmesbury and was sending Dr. Lee to the abbey. The writers further pointed out that Lee had been there twice already and that in any case they would be quite content to send the king the names of four brethren to choose from. Frampton's would doubtless not have figured among them. In spite of this, Lee was soon back at Malmesbury and on 12 July acquainted Cromwell with his failure, after three days of argument, to persuade Bristow's party to give way. (fn. 386) On 17 July, however, Lee managed to become one of two arbitrators, the election was made by compromise and both Frampton and Bristow came to court to present the result. (fn. 387) As an inevitable consequence, on 22 July the king gave his assent to Frampton's election as abbot. (fn. 388)
The days of the abbey were now numbered. Already the new abbot had found it hard to pay all the dues demanded of him, stating that his predecessor had left little money and that during the vacancy part of the plate and cattle had been embezzled and the abbey was 'sore decayed'. (fn. 389) Cromwell was now demanding receiverships and rights of pannage for his friends, (fn. 390) though the abbot alleged that nearly all the demesnes had been leased out in his predecessor's time and that notwithstanding the resources of his two parks, which were still in hand, he had to spend 200 marks a year on grain and stock. The king's visitors were also busy: Ap Rice was at the abbey in August 1535, (fn. 391) and Dr. Petre on his arrival there in the following January stated that he had done nothing, as the abbot was in London, but observed that the house was well stocked with cattle, the shrine well kept, and all the demesne lands in the hands of the monastery. (fn. 392)
The Valor Ecclesiasticus (fn. 393) gives a detailed picture of the assets of the monastery on the eve of the Dissolution. The large proportion of rents assigned to the camera abbatis or abbot's exchequer shows that most of the assets of the house were in the hands of the abbot and his immediate advisers to administer freely, and the Valor notes that the abbot could dismiss obedientiaries at will.
Most of the spiritualities were assigned to various obedientiaries: the cook received tithes in Corston, Rodbourne, Thornhill, and Burton (all in Malmesbury), in Brokenborough and Brinkworth, and was given an annual pension by the Vicar of Kemble. The chamberlain had tithes in Milbourne (Malmesbury), Long Newnton, Charlton, Cleverton, Garsdon, and Tockenham, and had pensions from the churches of Brinkworth and Garsdon. The sacrist had tithes at Brokenborough, Long Newnton, Charlton, Thornhill, Burton, Cleverton, and Lea, and pensions from the Malmesbury churches of St. Paul and St. Mary Westport and from the churches of Long Newnton and St. Nicholas Acon, London. The warden of the Lady Chapel had tithes at Tockenham and the precentor a pension from Beckhampton church. Certain tithes at Milbourne, Charlton, Hankerton, Yatton, (fn. 394) Colerne, and Broughton do not appear to have been appropriated to any particular obedientiary. Other unappropriated spiritualities are Oaksey chapel, offerings made to St. Aldhelm's image at Malmesbury, to the images of St. Leonard at Euridge (Colerne) and St. James at Whitchurch (Malmesbury), and moneys received in St. John the Baptist's Chapel at Malmesbury. Finally there are small funeral and Easter offerings at Malmesbury.
Among the temporalities in the hands of the abbot and convent were the monastery buildings and environs, covering about 6 acres; also the convent garden cum cuniculis, (fn. 395) streams, ponds, fishery, and fruit-trees, covering about 43 acres and kept for the abbot and convent to walk in. Near by was a water-mill and a dovecote, the latter at that time in complete decay.
To the abbot's exchequer went the Malmesbury stallage-dues, fair tolls, profits of shire and hundred courts, and the amercements of the borough brewers. The abbot's exchequer also received rents in Brokenborough, Sutton Benger, Crudwell, Bremhill, Kemble, Long Newnton, Charlton, Rodbourne, Burton, Corston (including grazing receipts from West Park, which was largely overgrown with thorns and thickets), Cole Park (including grazing receipts), Purton, Lea, Norton, Hankerton, Foxham, Thickwood (Colerne), and Littleton-upon-Severn.
The cook was well endowed. He received rents in Malmesbury borough, other dues called 'burgable and longable', (fn. 396) market-dues and rents from pitches in the market-place, hundred-silver paid by the tenants of Dauntsey, Little Somerford, and Cowage to the hundred of Malmesbury Without, the profits of the courts and sheriff's tourns in that hundred, and dues payable to the hundreds of Startley and Chedglow. The cook further received rents at Brokenborough, Kemble, Long Newnton, Charlton, Thornhill (which included the farm of a water-mill at Mill Bridge and that of a mill at Cow Bridge), Purton, Brinkworth, the farm of the manor of Blackland, a rent called 'Matravers Fee', and the farm of a mill called Winyard Mill in Whitchurch (Malmesbury), and rents at Swindon and Littleton-upon-Severn. The cook formerly received a rent from a fishery in the Wye near Tinterh, but this had been destroyed at the king's order, probably at the dissolution of Tintern Abbey.
The sacrist had rents in Malmesbury borough and Garsdon, and the almoner received rents in the borough and in Whitchurch. The pittancer had rents at Bimport and Westport in Malmesbury, and at Brokenborough, Crudwell, Kemble, Long Newnton, Charlton (to provide 1 lb. of pepper), Corston, Lea, Hankerton, Brinkworth, Colerne, Stanton St. Quintin, Seagry, and Littleton-upon-Severn.
The warden of the Lady Chapel received rents in Malmesbury borough, Bremhill, Hankerton, Brinkworth, Sherston Pinkney, and from various houses and buildings in Fleet Street and Holborn in London. The infirmarian drew rents in Malmesbury borough, Brokenborough, Kemble, Foxham, and Bristol. The refectorian received rents in the borough and the prior rents at Purton.
At the time of drawing up the Valor, of eighteen manors or sites of manors, seventeen were at farm and the demesne of the eighteenth was also let out to farm. It is difficult to estimate the exact state of the finances as there was an elaborate system of internal debts owed by one obedientiary to another. The total coming from all sources of income was £890 13s. 9¼d., of which about five-eighths went to the abbot's exchequer, one-quarter into the hands of the cook, and the remaining eighth went to the other obedientiaries. Fifteen stewards are mentioned, many of them being persons who later acquired monastic lands. There were two corrodies.
The end of the abbey was now at hand and on 15 December 1539, London, Ap Rice, and others received the surrender of the house, which they valued at £830 1s. 3½d. a year. (fn. 397) Yearly pensions were awarded to the abbot and 21 monks. (fn. 398) The abbot received 200 marks yearly, the prior and sub-prior £10, and the rest of the convent between £6 and £7 apiece. Walter Jay, who was the steward of the lands and chamberlain, received £13 6s. 8d. Besides the obedientiaries mentioned in the Valor a sub-prior, a third prior, a steward of the lands, an abbot's steward, and a sub-sacrist also occur. Seven monks are described as seniors and one as a student. Over and above his pension the abbot was given a holding in High Street, Bristol, and a garden near the Red Cross on the outskirts of that city. Unless the number of monks had fallen sharply since 1527, when there were 32 excluding novices, it is clear that some must already have apostatized from religion or alternatively have refused pensions on conscientious grounds.
The history and sequence of the churches and monastery buildings at Malmesbury are not easy to make out, especially as William of Malmesbury is not infrequently ambiguous. (fn. 399) Of Mailduib's small church (parva basilica) there were supposedly some remains which had disappeared by the 12th century. (fn. 400) St. Aldhelm built three new churches: one in honour of our Saviour, St. Peter, and St. Paul which was regarded until Abbot Ælfric's time as the chief church of the monastery. (fn. 401) It was probably this church which had remained until William's time and which he praises as being second to none for its workmanship. (fn. 402) St. Aldhelm also built 'in ambitu ... cenobii' a church in honour of St. Mary, (fn. 403) and against St. Mary's a church of St. Michael, (fn. 404) 'the remains of which we have seen', says William. St. Mary's Church appears to have been rebuilt in part by Abbot Ælfric in the days of Edgar. William argues, however, that the tower, which still existed in his days, was older, because there was record of King Athelstan having been buried beneath it. (fn. 405) A church of St. Laurence is mentioned as the first burial-place of John Scotus, (fn. 406) while Constantine and Abbot Beorhtwold II were buried in St. Andrew's Church which adjoined the major ecclesia. It was in St. Andrew's Church that succeeding abbots were buried. The building was later pulled down to provide space for new buildings and had clearly disappeared by the time of William of Malmesbury. (fn. 407)
We know little more of the pre-conquest buildings. Abbot Ælfric in the loth century built domestic quarters for the monks, (fn. 408) and about the same time the monastery and church were restored and the latter fitted with bells and organs. (fn. 409) There was a cloister, for the unfortunate Elfildis was buried there at a slightly later date, (fn. 410) and in 1056 Bishop Heremann built a bell-tower. (fn. 411)
Thus by the 12th century Mailduib's alleged church and St. Andrew's Church had already disappeared; Aldhelm's' church of our Saviour was standing at least up to William's time, (fn. 412) as was St. Mary's Church (portions of which were Aldhelm's work but mainly of the time of Abbot Ælfric) which appears to have been rebuilt by the early part of the 12th century. Some portions of St. Michael's Church remained up to William's time. Leland, in his description of the abbey written shortly after the Dissolution, says: 'Ther was a litle Chirch joining to the South side of the Transeptum of thabby Chirch, wher sum say Johannes Scotus the Great Clerk was slayne . . . Wevers hath now lomes in this litle Chirch, but it stondith and is a very old Pece of Work.' (fn. 413) This was almost certainly St. Laurence's Church. (fn. 414)
In the 12th century St. Mary's Church was replaced by a nave of nine bays, (fn. 415) transepts with an eastern chapel on either side, and a choir of four bays terminating in a round apse, at the apex of which stood the shrine of St. Aldhelm and a chevet of three chapels. These buildings appear to have been in progress in William of Malmesbury's time. (fn. 416) In the 13th century the choir was lengthened and an eastern Lady Chapel added: the latter encroached on the graveyard, and a charnelhouse with a chapel was made for the disturbed bones and endpwed in 1267. (fn. 417) In the following century the tower was heightened and a spire of timber and lead higher than that of Salisbury was added. This fell either just before or just after the Dissolution. (fn. 418) In the tower were 10 bells, including a great one dedicated to St. Aldhelm. (fn. 419) In the 14th century also the wooden roofs of nave and transepts were replaced by vaulting in stone and the clerestory of the nave was remodelled. About the year 1400 a large square tower with two bells was built over the two western bays of the nave. In the 15th century a new building was erected over the south side of the nave and an organ chamber constructed in the triforium. Finally, in the 16th century, a screen was built at the crossing beneath the central tower.
The cloisters, as at Gloucester and Canterbury, stood to the north of the nave; built in the 12th century, they were elaborately remodelled and vaulted in the fifteenth after the manner of those of Gloucester, and paved with encaustic tiles. (fn. 420) In the east walk was the chapter-house, of 12thcentury date but heightened and vaulted by Abbot William of Colerne. (fn. 421) To the north was the frater with the kitchens to the west of it. (fn. 422) To the east of the frater was the dorter and farther east still the 13th-century rere-dorter of the monks.
To the east of the chapter-house stood the infirmary, and south-eastwards the abbot's house with its gardens and chapel. (fn. 423) On the west side of the cloisters was the guest-house of 13th- and 14th-century date. On the north side of the monastic buildings and sloping down steeply to the river and beyond it was the convent garden of over 40 acres with its streams and fruit-trees. (fn. 424) There were gatehouses on the south opening out of the end of the High Street and on the west nearly opposite the west front of the church. (fn. 425)
Abbots Of Malmesbury
Several names have been rejected from the usual list of abbots of Malmesbury for the following reasons. William of Malmesbury has little to say about the period following upon the death of Aldhelm, and what he does say is often contradicted by the unknown 13th-century historian of the abbey whose short history is now among the Cottonian manuscripts (see p. 212, n. 52). The compiler uses William extensively but corrects him without comment. (fn. 426) It seems clear that Malmesbury's method of working was to search the muniments for ancient charters and to build up his story around them; thus he is sometimes misled by forged or interpolated documents. The list in the Cottonian manuscript seems to represent in its earlier stages merely a list of names copied indiscriminately from a Liber vitae. (fn. 427) Many persons listed as abbots of Malmesbury undoubtedly existed, but there is no reason to suppose that their connexion with the abbey was anything more than an inclusion in its list of benefactors or as sharing in the prayers of the community. (fn. 428) A list similar to the Cottonian one, transcribed by Hearne from a manuscript, now lost, of the Vita Edwardi Secundi, is even more unreliable and appears to be a separate recension from the same Liber Vitae. (fn. 429) This has been referred to in this article as the Hearne list.
After Aldhelm, the Cottonian list records an Abbot Daniel; this is undoubtedly the same as the Bishop of Winchester from 705 to 744. William of Malmesbury says that he retired and lived as a monk at Malmesbury, (fn. 430) though he nowhere calls him abbot, and there is no reason to think that he ever assumed that office.
William, relying on a spurious charter of Cuthred, (fn. 431) makes an Abbot Aldhelm II succeed in 745, (fn. 432) though an apparently genuine charter of Cynewulf of 758 (fn. 433) granting Marden and Rodbourne to Malmesbury makes no mention of any abbot. The Cottonian list does not record Aldhelm II, and it seems that William was misled by the phrasing of Cuthred's charter—Aldhelmo abbati familieque sub illius regiminis degenti—which probably means no more than the rule and way of life introduced by St. Aldhelm.
Megidulfus, (fn. 434) the next abbot of the Cottonian list, is clearly a confusion with Mailduib the founder. The same may be said of his successor Forthere, who has doubtless been confused with the Bishop of Sherborne who died about 737. (fn. 435) The next two abbots in the Cottonian list are equally unsatisfactory. The first is Æambriht; it is true that Æthelbald of Mercia at some date between 755 and 757 (fn. 436) granted an Abbot Eanberht land in a wood called Toccan sceaga which may have been in Wiltshire, (fn. 437) but Eanberht cannot have been Abbot of Malmesbury for his dates conflict with the genuine Abbot Æthelheard. The second abbot, Sigibriht, has a not uncommon name and there is no evidence for his existence as Abbot of Malmesbury. (fn. 438)
In place of Cuthberht the Cottonian list gives Wlfred as the next abbot, and perhaps he may be identified with the 'Waerfrid abbot' who is found as witness in a charter of 854, (fn. 439) but there is no evidence that he was Abbot of Malmesbury. The next two abbots are 'Athelmodus' and 'Hetheredus'. These again probably represent only the bishops of Sherborne (766-78) and of Worcester (780-800) taken from a Liber Vitae.
The dates of Abbot Ælfric and his successor are hard to determine. William of Malmesbury identifies Abbot Ælfric with the Ælfric who became Bishop of Crediton in 977 (fn. 440) and says he was succeeded by Æthelweard. In support of this he quotes a charter of 982 (fn. 441) in which King Ethelred grants Rodbourne to the monks 'living under the rule of abbot Æthelweard' and Æthelweard appears in the Cottonian list. On the other hand, Dean Armitage Robinson identifies the Ælfric of Crediton with an ex-abbot of Westminster (fn. 442) and two charters, of 993 and 998 respectively, the second regarded as genuine by Stenton, (fn. 443) quote 'Ælfric abbot of Malmesbury' among the witnesses. It seems likely that Robinson is in error, for it appears impossible that any Abbot of Westminster could be promoted to a bishopric at this time, for Flete, upon whose statement Robinson is building, in reality appears to be referring vaguely, and confessedly obscurely, to a predecessor of Abbot Wulsin of Westminster, who was himself appointed in 958.
In the Cottonian list the name of Cynebertus follows that of Brihtwold, but no other mention is made of this abbot. (fn. 444)
Finally, we come to Robert Foliot, who was supposed to have succeeded Osbert Foliot in 1182. For his existence we have one reference alone, that of the early 13th-century annalist who states that at Osbert's death another Prior of Gloucester, called Robert Foliot, succeeded him. (fn. 445) There is no reason to believe that there was ever an Abbot of Malmesbury of this name, (fn. 446) and it seems reasonable to suppose that the annalist has simply transposed the name Osbert for Robert, and that he is merely recording the accession of Osbert on the death of the previous Abbot Robert.
Mailduib, c. 637. (fn. 447)
Aldhelm, probably appointed? 675. (fn. 448)
Eaba, occurs c. 730. (fn. 449)
Æthelheard, occurs before and in 749. (fn. 450)
Cuthbert, appointed 766. (fn. 451)
Ælfric, occurs before 974. (fn. 452)
Æthelweard I, occurs after 977. (fn. 453)
Cyneweard. (fn. 454)
Beorhtelm. (fn. 455)
Beorhtwold I. (fn. 456)
Eadric, occurs before and in 1012. (fn. 457)
Wulfsine, occurs c. 1023-4. (fn. 458)
Æthelweard II, occurs c. 1033-4. (fn. 459)
Ælfwine, occurs c. 1043-4. (fn. 460)
Beorhtwold II, occurs c. 1045-6. (fn. 461)
Beorhtric, occurs 1052-3. (fn. 462)
Turold, appointed 1066-7. (fn. 463)
Warin, appointed 1070. (fn. 464)
Godfrey, appointed ? 1090. (fn. 465)
Eadwulf, appointed 1105-6. (fn. 466)
[Roger, Bp. of Salisbury, seized the abbey 1118. (fn. 467) ]
John, appointed 1139. (fn. 468)
Peter Moraunt, appointed 1141. (fn. 469)
Gregory, appointed ? 1158. (fn. 470)
Robert de Veneys, appointed 1171-2. (fn. 471)
Osbert Foliot, appointed 1176-7. (fn. 472)
Nicholas, appointed 1183. (fn. 473)
Robert of Melûn, appointed 1189-90. (fn. 474)
Walter Loring, mentioned as abbot-elect 1208. (fn. 475)
John Walsh, assent to election 1222. (fn. 476)
Geoffrey, assent to election 1246. (fn. 477)
William of Colerne, assent to election 1260. (fn. 478)
William of Badminton, assent to election 1296. (fn. 479)
Adam de la (atte) Hoke, assent to election 1324. (fn. 480)
John of Tintern, assent to election 1340. (fn. 481)
Simon de Aumeney, assent to election 1349. (fn. 482)
Walter de Camme, assent to election 1362. (fn. 483)
Thomas Chel(es)worth, assent to election 1396. (fn. 484)
Roger Pershore, assent to election 1424. (fn. 485)
Thomas Bristow, elected 1434. (fn. 486)
John Andever S.T.P., elected 1456. (fn. 487)
John Ayly, elected 1469. (fn. 488)
Thomas Olveston, temporalities restored 1480. (fn. 489)
Richard Frampton, elected 1510. (fn. 490)
Richard Camme, assent to election 1515. (fn. 491)
Robert Frampton, assent to election 1533. (fn. 492)
A conventual seal, appended to a document of 1231, is vesica-shaped (2½ by 1¾ in.), and shows a figure in pontificals, probably St. Aldhelm, wearing a mitre and holding a crosier in his left hand. The right hand is broken off, but was probably raised in blessing. On either side is a small trefoil-headed niche; that to the left is damaged, but the other shows a tonsured head. These probably represent the apostles Peter and Paul. The inscription has perished.
The seal of Abbot John Walsh is appended to the same document. It is identical in size and shape and very similar in design, showing a tonsured figure in a chasuble, with a crosier in the right hand and a book in the left. The legend is:
On each seal the figure stands on a similar platform and has a cross within a crescent over the head. The counter-seals are identical (21/8 by 7/8 in.) and are apparently impressions from a Roman intaglio jewel showing the profile and shoulders of a classical figure with a strongly aquiline nose. The inscription reads:
+ SIGNO CREDATIS ET LITTERE (fn. 493)
Another seal, (fn. 494) of unknown date, is a pointed oval, 27/8 by 1¾ in. Beneath a triple panelled canopy the Virgin is seated crowned, with the Child on her right knee, and a sceptre in her left hand. On either side stand St. Peter with the keys and St. Paul with a sword. In the base, under an arch, is the abbot praying between two shields of arms: one, France modern and England quarterly and the other a griffin. The inscription is:
A badly damaged circular seal (fn. 495) used in 1380 shows a seated figure between two plants. The legend is: