A History of the County of York: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.
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211. THE PRIORY OF ALLERTON MAULEVERER
The priory of Allerton Mauleverer was a cell to the abbey of Marmoutier. It was founded in the reign of Henry I by Richard Mauleverer, (fn. 1) whose gifts Henry II confirmed, also making the monks free from all exactions of wapentakes, tridings, and danegeld, and from all manner of secular exactions and foreign service. (fn. 2)
An inquisition was held at Wetherby in August 1378, (fn. 3) when the jurors found that there was at Allerton Mauleverer a certain priory belonging to the abbey of Marmoutier, that there was a dilapidated hall with chambers annexed, and other offices of the house, worth nothing beyond the reprises. The prior and monks at Allerton Mauleverer held the church there to their own proper uses. In all, the jurors estimated the possessions of the priory as yielding, on an average, £20 13s. 4d. a year. The reprises included for repairs of the chancel of the church and other buildings of the priory 30s. a year, for the maintenance of the prior and two monks (fn. 4) who celebrated divine offices. there, with other necessaries, £20. The obligations amounted to £24, so that the expenses exceeded the revenue by 66s. 8d. a year.
According to Burton, (fn. 5) the Abbot of Marmoutier was patron, and he appointed the prior, who was admitted by the Archdeacon of Richmond.
The priory of Allerton Mauleverer was granted by Henry VI to King's College, Cambridge. (fn. 6) Of its internal history nothing is on record.
Priors of Allerton Mauleverer
Waleran, c. 1235 (fn. 7)
Gilbert, c. 1245 (fn. 8)
Geoffrey, occurs 1300 (fn. 9)
John Dugas, occurs 1344 (fn. 10)
Dionis Kabarus, occurs 1362 (fn. 11)
William de Virgulto, occurs 1364 (fn. 12)
John Pratt alias Newport, occurs 1364 (fn. 13)
212. THE PRIORY OF BIRSTALL
In 1115 (fn. 18) Stephen Earl of Albemarle granted to the Benedictine abbey of St. Martin d'Auchy (fn. 19) in the diocese of Rouen a large amount of property in Holderness and the north-east of Lincolnshire. Indeed, the property formed the chief endowment of the abbey. The grant included the churches of Birstall, Paull, Skeffling, Withernsea, Owthorne, and Alborough in Holderness, besides several chapels and considerable secular property. (fn. 20)
To superintend this English property, the abbot sent some monks (how many is uncertain) with a prior or procurator at their head. These monks formed a small monastic cell at Birstall, and in June 1219 (fn. 21) Archbishop Gray directed that the chapel of St. Helen at Birstall, where the monks were, should receive the great and small tithes of Skeffling, with all obventions and profits, for the use of the monks. Their chapel of Birstall was to be in no way subject to the church of Easington, but the prior was to nominate a parochial chaplain to the rural dean, removable at the prior's pleasure. The chaplain was to report to the dean as to the 'excesses' or the parishioners, and was to keep chapter. From the latter provision it would seem that one of the monks was to be chaplain. In 1229, (fn. 22) with consent of the abbot, the archbishop varied the earlier ordinance, at the same time making more definite the relation of the abbot to some of the churches.
In 1381-2 (fn. 23) Richard II, having Birstall Priory in his possession, made a grant of it to the Prior and convent of Durham, because they had no place in the south to keep their live-stock safely, notwithstanding a previous grant to Thomas Sees, Prior of Birstall. They were to render 200 marks yearly at the exchequer, as the said Thomas, and 5 marks in addition, besides finding a competent maintenance of 10 marks yearly for the proctor; with power to remove the remaining alien monks in Birstall Priory, and replace them by as many English monks, or secular chaplains from Durham Priory, and after the death of the then proctor to replace him by an English one.
This, however, was cancelled, with the assent of the Prior of Durham, and the king granted on 18 May 1382 the custody of Birstall to the Prior of Birstall, John de Harmesthorp, clerk, and William de Holme.
From this it appears that besides the prior there were several monks, some of whom had already left, showing that the cell was of greater size than other evidences indicate. The seizure of what was the chief endowment of the abbey so impoverished it that 'en 1393 (fn. 24) l'abbaye de Saint-Martin etait tellement ruinée, qu' À peine y pouvait-on celebrer l'office divin.' In 1395 (fn. 25) the abbey of Aumale sold its Holderness property to Kirkstall, when the cell of Birstall came to an end. The property in Lincolnshire and Holderness was retained by Kirkstall till the Dissolution. (fn. 26)
Priors of Birstall
Gilbert, occurs 1275 (fn. 27)
Richard de Borrence, appointed 1322 (fn. 30)
213. THE PRIORY OF ECCLESFIELD (fn. 33)
According to Dodsworth, (fn. 34) the church of Ecclesfield was given to the abbey of St. Wandrille (fn. 35) in Normandy, by Richard de Lovetot in the reign of Henry I. (fn. 36) In Archbishop Melton's register is a confirmation in 1323, (fn. 37) which records that at a late visitation of the diocese the archbishop found that the Abbot and convent of St. Wandrille, O.S.B., in the diocese of Rouen, held the church of Ecclesfield, and that the perpetual vicar of the church, 'qui a quibusdam vocatus prior de Eglesfeld,' had indicated that Ecclesfield Church had been appropriated to the abbey by Innocent II and Gregory [ ], formerly popes of Rome, that Roger (sic) de 'Lovetoftes,' the patron, and at that time lord of Hallamshire, had given the church, and that Henry I had confirmed the gift. Archbishop Melton, at the instance of Hugh le Despenser, confirmed Ecclesfield Church to the abbey.
A few years earlier Archbishop Greenfield had also dealt with Ecclesfield Church. He cited on 24 July 1310 (fn. 38) the Abbot and convent of St. Wandrille to appear before him on 4 November following, as he had found, when recently holding a visitation of the diocese, that the church of Ecclesfield had a large number of parishioners, widely scattered, and that there was no vicarage in the church, or any person charged with cure of souls. The result was the ordination of a perpetual vicarage on 7 December, (fn. 39) presentable by the abbot and convent, and on the following 20 April, brother Robert de Bosco, prior, was instituted to the vicarage. (fn. 40) He resigned in 1328, (fn. 41) when he was described as lately 'rector seu custos, ac prior vulgariter nuncupatus.' His successor John, dictus Fauvel, monk O.S.B., was admitted 'ad ecclesiam, seu prioratum de Ekelisfelt,' (fn. 42) and when he died in 1347, Archbishop Zouch admitted Robert Gulielmus 'ad ecclesiam, vicariam, custodiam, seu prioratum, beate Marie de Eglesfeld.' (fn. 43)
Richard II in 1385 (fn. 44) gave to the Carthusian monastery of St. Anne near Coventry the advowson of the church of Ecclesfield in Yorkshire, lately belonging to the Abbot and convent of St. Wandrilie in Normandy, then in the king's hands, by virtue of a recovery of the same made in the court of the late King Edward, grandfather of the king. The priory of Ecclesfield seems to have had a shadowy existence. There was probably at no time a cell there in the stricter meaning of the word, and apparently the connexion with St. Wandrille was severed in the time of Edward III.
Priors of Ecclesfield
Peter de Sancto Romano, occurs 1287 (fn. 45)
Robert Gulielmus, appointed 1347 (fn. 51)
John Burdet, occurs 1372 (fn. 52)
214. HOLY TRINITY PRIORY, YORK
This priory was the successor of a pre-Conquest house of canons, which in 1089 was 'almost reduced to nothing,' though it had been 'formerly adorned with canons and rents of farms and ecclesiastical ornaments.' (fn. 53) At what date this house of canons was built is unknown but by the year 1089 it was in the hands of Ralph Paynell, who in that year re-established the house, as a priory of Benedictines, subject to the abbey of Marmoutier, near Tours. (fn. 54)
In the foundation charter of the Benedictine cell the invocation is given as the 'Holy Trinity ' (fn. 55) but frequently it is referred to as 'Christ's Church,' (fn. 56) and in Domesday Book we find both ascriptions. (fn. 57) In post-Conquest days 'Holy Trinity' was the name generally used, but as late as 1175 (fn. 58) we find it referred to as 'Christ's Church.' The latter seems to have been the original dedication, but eventually disappeared. (fn. 59)
There were fourteen churches, tithes from seventeen places, lands in numerous parts of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, a fishery at Drax, and the tithes of other fisheries. (fn. 60) This munificent beginning was increased in the following centuries by numerous benefactors.
During its existence the priory acquired several cells, the first of which was Allerton Mauleverer. (fn. 61) The connexion was of short duration, however, for Allerton soon acquired its independence, being subject only to Marmoutier from about the year 1110. The second cell was the priory of Hedley (fn. 62) founded c. 1125, and the third was the priory of Tickford in the county of Buckingham, which was placed under Holy Trinity at the suppression of alien houses. (fn. 63) There was also a famous chantry chapel in York under the priory and served by its monks—the chapel of St. James's on the Mount. (fn. 64)
Being an alien house, Holy Trinity suffered much during the various wars with France. The monks were sometimes suspected as granting asylum to French spies; they were charged with sending supplies to the enemy; and frequent disturbances took place at the priory in consequence of the unpopularity of the house during these years of conflict between the two countries. At such times the priory possessions were seized into the hands of the king, and in the Patent and Close Rolls there are numerous references to royal appointments to the churches belonging to Holy Trinity 'on account of the war with France.'
In 1402 Parliament asked the king to resume into his hands all alien priories 'except conventual priories.' (fn. 65)a The Prior of Holy Trinity at that time, John Castell, satisfactorily showed that his house was conventual, (fn. 66) and whilst in 1414 nearly all the aliens were suppressed, amongst the number being Hedley and Allerton Mauleverer, Holy Trinity was spared; (fn. 67) and being naturalized on their own petition in 1426, (fn. 68) the house was thenceforward free from all connexion with Marmoutier, itself having practically the status of an abbey, and being frequently so referred to. (fn. 69)
Some time during the reign of Henry VI (1422-61) the priory received the grant of another religious house, the hospital of St. Nicholas in the suburbs of York. (fn. 70)
Another hospital of the same dedication was granted to the priory shortly afterwards— 19 May 1466—the hospital of St. Nicholas by Scarborough. (fn. 71)
During the 15th century the priory had become impoverished through the wars, the calls formerly made on them from Marmoutier, losses, misrule and misfortune, and in 1446 it was exempted from taxation, on the ground of poverty, the church then being so ruinous as to be unsafe for services. (fn. 72) In 1478 a petition was made to the city council by the prior and convent asking for their good offices with the Duke of Gloucester (afterwards Richard III) on their behalf. Their supplication was evidently listened to, and their condition was much improved. The temporalities of the priory were valued in 1292 at £60 10s. 5d. a year (fn. 73) together with pensions from various churches amounting to £32 2s. 8d.; (fn. 74) in 1379 the total revenues were £189 16s., (fn. 75) in 1536 the gross annual value was £196 17s. 2d., the net being £169 9s. 10d. (fn. 76)
At the visitation of the monasteries the condition of the house was severely reported upon, charges of sodomy, incontinence and superstition being brought against the prior and his brethren. (fn. 77) The prior evidently took some part in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536, (fn. 78) but with his ten brother priests surrendered the house 11 December 1538, (fn. 79) receiving an annual pension of £22. (fn. 80) He lived till 1545, on 9 September of which year he made his will and desired burial in the 'quere of Trinitie Churche Behynde the lectron.' To two of his old fellow-monks, William Gryme and Richard Stubbs, he left 6s. 8d. each, and the same amount to 'eury one of my Brethren if they be lyvinge and come into the countrie.' (fn. 81)
Priors of Holy Trinity (fn. 82)
Richard Bell, appointed 1441 (fn. 85)
Robert Huby, intruded 1472 (fn. 86)
The 14th-century seal ad causas (fn. 87) is a vesica, 17/8 in. by 1 3/16 in. with our Lady crowned and standing, holding the Child, between two figures of saints, perhaps St. Peter and St. Paul. Above the figures is the head of our Lord, and below them the prior praying. The legend is:—
The 15th-century seal (fn. 88) is a vesica, 2 in. by 15/8 in., with a representation of the Holy Trinity between two suns. Below is a shield charged with a cinqfoil for Ralph Paynell, the founder. The broken legend runs
Another seal (fn. 89) (? 15th century) is a vesica with the Holy Trinity between the sun and moon. Below is a dog (?) passant. Legend:—
The priory of Hedley was founded, according to Dr. Burton, during the reign of Henry I, (fn. 90) as a cell to Holy Trinity Priory, York. To this latter house Niel Fossard, it appears, had granted 'a certain site in Bramham Wood, which is called Hedley, and all the ground to the hill at Oglethorp,' (fn. 91) but whether this gift was made to the Benedictine house of Holy Trinity, or to its predecessor the house of Canons, (fn. 92) is not quite clear. At all events the donation was afterwards referred to as the gift of Alexander Paynell (fn. 93) and Agnes (fn. 94) his wife.
On a portion of this land the Trinity monks afterwards established a cell (fn. 95) which they dedicated to the honour of St. Mary. Burton and Tanner (fn. 96) both date it 'tempore Henry I,' and Dr. Rawlinson gives the exact year as 1125, but in Alexander Paynell's charter of c. 1125, (fn. 97) and in that of Henry II, (fn. 98) 1174-81, the priory is not mentioned, but simply the site. In the bull of Alexander III, however, of the date 1179, it is referred to as being in existence, the pope then confirming to the priory at York its 'cellulam de Hedleia cum omnibus pertinentiis suis.' (fn. 99)
The reputed founder of Hedley Priory was Ypolitus de Bram, (fn. 100) but from his charter it is clear that he was not the founder, but that there were already monks there, and that the cell was then in existence under the dedication 'St. Mary.' (fn. 101) His gift was simply an addition to the Hedley possessions, and consisted of certain lands of his at Middleton, near Ilkley. (fn. 102)
Two of the witnesses of a gift made by Adam Fitz Peter 'to God and St. Mary of Hedley' were Paulinus of Leeds and Robert de Gaunt, and the benefaction must therefore have been made during the period 1152-67. (fn. 103) Nothing further seems to be known of Hedley till 1290, when Peter de Middleton, a descendant of Adam Fitz Peter, confirmed the gifts of his ancestors, quitclaiming any supposed rights he might have had, to 'William the monk there,' and to the monks who should successively dwell there. (fn. 104) Though it has been assumed that in 1290 there was only one monk, the statement scarcely warrants that assumption. It is more likely that the monk William was the chief brother, the prior, and that for that reason his name is mentioned as the one to whom the confirmation was made. At all events there were monachi in. Ypolitus de Bram's day, and an interesting item concerning St. Robert of Knaresborough shows that there were a number of brethren in his time. The Knaresborough hermit, it seems, fled from that place to Spofforth, and thence to Hedley, yielding to 'the invitation of the monks of Hedley.' But 'being dissatisfied with their conversation,' he returned to his former retreat at St. Hilda's. (fn. 105)
Though, as we have seen, Hedley had received certain possessions specifically intended for the benefit of the cell, yet the priory at York still owned the manor, and in 1377 it was leased for thirty-nine years to John de Berden, citizen of York, at an annual rent of 40s., (fn. 106) and this amount is recorded in an inspeximus of the Holy Trinity finances made in 1379. (fn. 107) Before the termination of this lease the alien priories were suppressed in 1414 by the Leicester Parliament, Hedley being amongst the number of those mentioned in the 'Catalogue.' (fn. 108) But the priory at York was spared, (fn. 109) and the possessions of its suppressed cell came into its hands.
None of the names of the priors have been handed down unless it be William already mentioned as occurring in 1290. (fn. 110)
216. THE ALIEN PRIORY OF BEGAR near RICHMOND
'The Abbey of Begare (sic) in Britanny having several estates in England particularly in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, there was a cell of alien monks of that abbey fixed near Richmond, temp. Henry III, which upon the suppression of these foreign Houses was granted first to the chantry of St. Ann at Thresk [Thirsk], then to Eton College, then to the priory of Mount Grace and at last to Eton College again.' (fn. 111)
There is really nothing to add to what Tanner has noted regarding this alien priory, the history of which seems to be quite lost, and Clarkson (fn. 112) says that the site of this priory was nowhere mentioned, but that at Moulton there were some old buildings, called the Cell. The property granted to Mount Grace, under the name of 'Begger,' was that of the mills at Richmond. This is made evident by a conventual lease, (fn. 113) granted by John, prior of the house of the Assumption of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Mount Grace, to Cuthbert Pressyke on 6 October 1537, for his good and faithful service, of an annuity of £10 'de Beggare alias vocat' Richmond mylnes.'