History of Greyfriars: Guardians or wardens

The Grey Friars of London. Originally published by Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, 1915.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.

'History of Greyfriars: Guardians or wardens', in The Grey Friars of London, (Aberdeen, 1915) pp. 53-62. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/brit-franciscan-soc/vol6/pp53-62 [accessed 24 April 2024]

4. Guardians Or Wardens Of The Grey Friars Of London.

Henry De Treviso (1224–1231 ?), one of the first friars to come to England, was a lay-brother from Lombardy. He was chosen Guardian of London for his sanctity and discretion. During his first years he taught a night-school at St. Peter Cornhill. In 1230 he was Vicar of the English Province for Agnellus. But, writes Eccleston, he could not bear such promotion, and afterwards apostatised from the Order, and returned to his own country. His name is less correctly given as Henry de Cervise (De Adventu Fratrum, 7, 8, 13, 14).

Solomon (1231–1233 ?) was the first novice of the Order admitted in England. He was ordained acolyte by Stephen Langton, i.e., before July, 1228. Afterwards he lay ill for two years with gout, but by the advice of Friar Jordan, the Dominican General, who visited England early in 1230, was miraculously cured by a pilgrimage to St. Eloy at Noyon. On his return he became Guardian of London, an office which he held before 22nd August, 1231. He seems to have been ill for a long time before his death, which perhaps took place in 1233. Eccleston describes him as one of those who had no gift of lecturing or preaching, but was distinguished as the chosen confessor of courtiers and citizens (De Adventu, 9, 1518, 75, 94).

John De Kethene (1233 ?) was Guardian of London before he was appointed Provincial of Scotland by the General Elias. This can hardly have been later than 1233–1234 (cf. De Adventu, 51). Kethene ruled Scotland several years, and was transferred to Ireland in 1239. He was present with William of Nottingham at the General Chapter of Metz in 1254, (fn. 1) when he had been Minister about twenty years (De Adventu, 39, 50–53, 85, 128).

Peter of Tewkesbury (1234–1236) was Guardian in 1234, about which time he went to Rome with Agnellus, whom he confessed on his death-bed. Afterwards he was Custodian of Oxford for twelve years (1236?–1248). He was Minister of Cologne in 1250, and fifth Provincial of England from 1254 to 1256, or 1257 (De Adventu, 43, 94, 95, 97, 113, 126–128; Little, Greyfriars, 127).

Hugh (fl. 1245) was a student of Cambridge, where Friar Thomas Ufford heard him preach. He was Guardian of London whilst William of Nottingham was Provincial, i.e., between 1240 and 1254 (Liber Exemplorum, 41, B.S.F.S.; De Adventu, 11).

A . . . . (c. 1250), Friar A., Guardian of London, is mentioned by Adam Marsh in a letter addressed to Friar Thomas of York, probably about 1250, or a little later. He joined with W., the Prior of the Dominicans at London, and the Franciscan poet, Thomas Hales, in addressing a letter to Fulk Basset, who was Bishop of London from 1244 to 1258. He might possibly be Adam of Hereford, the secretary of Adam Marsh who, about 1248, advised the Provincial to send him to pursue his studies at London, since he was too able for a subordinate post (Mon. Franc., i., 181, 314–315, 396).

Roger of Canterbury (1257) is mentioned as Guardian of London on 16th April, 1257 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Henry III., 1247–1258, p. 592).

J . . . . was Guardian in 1282 (Peckham, Registrum iii., 1029).

(fn. 2) William de Ludgershale was locum tenens for the Guardian of London in 1291. Hugh de Trapston was at the same time Custos (Mon. Franc., ii., 56).

Nicholas (1294) was Guardian on 25th December, 1294 (id., ii., 61).

Thomas de Whapelad (1303) was Guardian on 19th January, 1303 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward I., iv., 108). He either died or resigned very soon afterwards.

Henry De Sutton (1303, 1307) was Guardian in Lent, 1303 (see p. 164 below). He also occurs as Guardian on 25th July, 1304 (Letter-Book, C., p. 138), and in 1307, when he received 40 marks from Edward I., as a pittance for the friars attending the General Chapter at Toulouse (Little, Greyfriars, p. 219). He must have vacated his office before October, 1309. But on 30th July, 1319, a pittance for the London Franciscans was paid to him, (fn. 3) though he is not then described as Guardian. He died soon after 1327 (Collectanea Franciscana, i., 148). He gave the stained glass for the north window of the Ambulatory in the church (see p. 168 below). Sutton procured from Henry le Waleys a legacy for his convent of two marks annually (see p. 162 below); the date given—1302—if correct must refer to the spring of 1303—new style. There is a sermon attributed to Sutton in New College, MS. 92 at Oxford.

Robert De Basingstoke (1309) "gardianus fratrum minorum London," took part in the proceedings against the Templars at London on 27th to 30th October, 1309 (Wilkins, Concilia, ii., 336–339).

Thomas of St. Dunstan? (1310) was perhaps Guardian on 13th January, 1310, when a demise of an annual quitrent by Hugh of Oxford, was directed to be used "at the discretion of Brother Thomas de St. Dunstan, if alive, or of the Guardian of the Friars Minors of London for the time being" (LetterBook, D., p. 214). Thomas of St. Dunstan was 44th lector at Oxford, early in the fourteenth century (Little, Greyfriars, 168).

Walter De Warleberge (1311) described simply as "gardianus ordinis minorum" was present at the proceedings against the Templars in London on 30th March, 1311 (Wilkins, Concilia, ii., 370). He was probably Guardian of London.

William De Querle (1330) was Guardian on 26th March, 1330, when Edward III. wrote to the Count of Flanders that Querle had made complaint that whilst returning from the Court of Rome he had been robbed by Flemings on the sea of 89 florins, books, and other things, to the value of 70l.; the restitution promised by the Count's representatives had not been made, so Querle was going to Flanders with this letter (Cal. Close Rolls, Edw. III., ii., 131). The Count replied on 10th May that he had received the letters prescribed by Querle, and had promised that compensation should be made, but Querle alleged that he could not wait (Foedera, ii. (1), 551; the year is there given as 1324, but there would seem to be an error).

John Mablethorpe or Malberthorpe (1368), probably a native of Mablethorpe, Lincoln, was Guardian on 1st March, 1368 (see p. 171 below). On 9th May, 1370, when he is described simply as confessor of the late Queen Philippa, he had a grant of 40 marks annually to pray for her soul (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III., xiv., 432). He may be the John, Guardian of the Friars Minors of London who, on 5th February, 1386, demanded the arrest of Friar William Howys, an apostate (Chancery Warrants, 1765/18: cf. Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II., iii., 168). Tanner (Bibliotheca, 503) says John Malberthorpe owned MS. Norwic. More. 279, and entered on many vacant pages extracts from fathers and doctors; but the identification with the friar is uncertain; there were other persons of the name, as John Malberthorpe, who was Rector of Loughton, Essex, from 1429 to 1441.

Robert Hyndon (1391 ?–1397) is probably the Robert, Guardian of London, who occurs in October, 1391 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II., iv., 522; Chancery Warrants, 1765/19). Robert Hyndon or Hynton was Guardian on 3rd February, 1393 (Letter-Book, H., p. 390), and on 22nd July, 1397 (see p. 204 below).

John Bruyll (1398) was Guardian on 1st March, 1398 (see p. 174 below), and also on 20th July of the same year (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Richard II., vi., 483; Chancery Warrants, 1765/20). He may be identified with the John Bryll of the Convent of Newcastle, who was appointed papal chaplain on 5th July, 1396 (Bullarium Franciscanum, vii., 60), and the John Bruyll of the Convent of Canterbury, who owned and annotated Digby MS. 153, now in the Bodleian Library. On 25th January, 1402, John Bryll, O.F.M. and priest, was provided to the See of Annadown in Ireland, and two days later was ordered to go to his diocese. On 27th September, 1403, John, Bishop of Annadown, dwelling at London, was directed to decide a matrimonial suit from the Diocese of Lincoln (Cal. Papal Registers, v., 500, 503, 522, 532).

Robert Chamberleyn (1403) occurs as Guardian on 15th May, 1403 (Chancery Warrants, 1765/21; see p. 207 below). It was probably at an earlier date that he received a safe-conduct from Charles VI. of France, which was granted to "frére Robert Chambrilen religieulx de l'ordre des fréres Mineurs du convent de Londres en Angleterre, lequel a acheté en ceste nostre ville de Paris quatre volumes de livres, entre lesquels est ung livre nommé le livre de la propriétés des choses" (Hist. Litt. de France, xxx., 364; the only date given is 4th July). Chamberleyn was buried in the All Hallows Chapel (see p. 79 below).

William Russell (1425) was a friar of Stamford; he had argued that a religious might lie with a woman without mortal sin; this thesis was condemned in the Convocation of Canterbury at St. Paul's on 12th October, 1424. On 28th January, 1425, when he was certainly Guardian of London he preached that tithes need not be paid to the parish priest, but might be applied "into pitous use of poor men". He was again cited before Convocation on 15th May, and enjoined to recant at Paul's Cross. He failed to appear; his doctrines were condemned by the two universities, and he was removed from his office. Russell went to Rome to defend his doctrine, but on 12th August was imprisoned by the Pope. In January, 1426, he escaped, and returning to England was sheltered for one night by the friars at London. Finally he surrendered or was captured, and on 21st March, 1427, read his recantation at Paul's Cross. He was ordered to be imprisoned at the Pope's pleasure, but seems to have been released before 1429, when he incepted as D.D. at Oxford, though he is then described as an Austin Friar. His teaching on tithes was condemned by the University, and down to 1564 everyone taking a degree had formally to abjure it (Little, Greyfriars, 85, 86, 257–259; Wilkins, Concilia, iii., 438–462; Munimenta Academica, 376; Epist. Acad. Oxon., 49). Russell when Guardian gave three pounds towards the cost of tiling the roof of the Cloister under the Fratry (see p. 171 below); this may imply that he was Guardian for some time previous to 1425. In Corpus Christi College MS. 126 at Oxford there is a Compendium super Porphyrii Universalia by William Russell, Friar Minor, and Comment. in Aristotelis Praedicamenta probably by the same author.

Roger Juyll or Jule (1437) occurs as Guardian of London on 6th June, 1437 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Henry VI., iii., 13). He had previously been Guardian of Jerusalem, and was the only Guardian of the House who was buried in the Choir (see p. 74 below). He may have succeeded Russell. He either died or resigned before November, 1440.

John Kyrye (1440, 1458) is stated to have been Guardian with intervals for twenty years; he occurs on 30th November, 1440, and on 26th March, 1458 (see pp. 208 and 210 below). These two occasions must belong to two separate terms. I have not discovered who was Guardian in the interval. Friar Brackley wrote in October, 1460, that it was rumoured that Queen Margaret intended to have Doctors Kyrye and Goddard put to death (Paston Letters, iii., 228). In November, 1465, William Gregory bequeathed 20s. "to the frere Kiry, frere menour" (Collections of a London Citizen, p. xliv., Camd. Soc.). Kyrye was confessor to Edward IV. He died on 30th September, 1474, and was buried in the All Hallows Chapel (see p. 79 below).

James Walle (c. 1470), described on p. 105 below as "episcopus Darensis et suffraganeus episcopi Lond., et gardianus hujus loci," was consecrated Bishop of Kildare on 5th April, 1475, but resigned very soon afterwards (Cotton, Fasti Eccl. Hib., ii., 229). He held the livings of Laindon in 1483, of St. Christopher by the Stocks, London, in 1485, and of Great Hockesley in 1488. He was suffragan of London in 1491 (Stubbs, Reg. Sacr. Angl., 206). He probably succeeded Kyrye as Guardian early in the reign of Edward IV. The date of his death makes it unlikely that he was Guardian before Kyrye's second term in 1458. He died on 28th April, 1494, and was buried "coram altaribus" (p. 105 below).

John Allen (c. 1475 ?) is described on p. 78 below as "sacre theologie professor, quondam gardianus loci". He was son of John Allen, who died in 1463. If he may be identified with the John Allen, B.D., of Cambridge, who was incorporated B.D. at Oxford on 1st December, 1459 (Little, Greyfriars, 41, 265), he may probably have been Guardian after Walle, or he may not have been Guardian till after Goddard. He was buried in the All Hallows Chapel (see p. 78 below).

William Goddard, the younger (d. 1485), is to be distinguished from his contemporary, William Goddard the elder (see p. 195 below). William Gregory, when bequeathing 13s. 4d. to "maister Godard the yonger" on 6th November, 1465, calls him brother of "maister Godard thelder" (Collections of a London Citizen, p. xliv.). The younger Goddard must have been a person of some note by that time. He is described below (p. 90) as "sacre theologie doctor, gardianus loci et principuus benefactor eiusdem," and is said to have died on 26th September, 1485. His date as Guardian cannot be fixed more clearly than between 1458 and 1485; but he probably held office later than Walle, though he may have either preceded or succeeded Allen. He was buried in the Apostles' Chapel (p. 90 below).

Richard Shrewsbury? (d. 1486) may possibly have been Guardian as Nichols (Coll. Top. et Gen., v., 396) and Mr. Shepherd conjectured. But the reading on p. 129 below is obscure, and no other Guardian of London is recorded as buried in the Cloister.

Andrew Bavard (d. 1508). The earliest mention of Bavard occurs in a note in Ottobuoni MS. 1565, f. 8vo in the Vatican Library: "Istum librum fecit ligari frater Andreas Bavard, custos librarie, anno dom. 1468, de comunibus elemosiuis prefate librarie collatis" (Coll. Franc., i., 135). The Library appears to be that of the Grey Friars at Cambridge. This note is of interest for comparison with the statement (p. 171 below) that in 1494 Bavard had choral books provided for the Church of the Grey Friars at London. He does not seem to have been Guardian at that time, but held the office in February, 1497–1498 (see p. 107 below). He was S.T.P., presumably of Cambridge. He died on 10th March, 1507–1508 and was buried "coram altaribus" (p. 107 below).

Christopher Studley? (d. 1508) died on the same day as Bavard. He is described on p. 102 below as "electus". Mr. Little (Greyfriars, p. 269) conjectures that it should read "electus gardianus," but there is no positive evidence. John Person, who was buried in the same part of the church ("inter chorum et altaria") is also described as "electus"; in his case it does not seem that it can mean "Guardian-elect," for the Guardianship was certainly not vacant in 1527 when Person died.

Henry Standish (1514) was D.D. of Oxford, and may have become Guardian in 1508; he was a popular preacher at Court in the early years of Henry VIII., and was probably Guardian in July, 1514, when the king gave 10l. to Dr. Standisshe and the Friars Minors for charges at the General Chapter at Bridgwater (Letters and Papers, ii., p. 1465). According to an entry in Letter-Book, M. f. 237 (ap. Victoria County History, i., 505), he was Provincial Minister in 1515. Apparently, therefore, there is an error in the description of him as Guardian in November, 1515, when he supported the Act of 1513, which had restricted the benefit of clergy (Letters and Papers, ii., 1313, 1314). Nor can it have been as Guardian that he refused to preach against foreign traders at Easter, 1517 (Brewer, Henry VIII., i., 245–250). Standish became Bishop of St. Asaph in May, 1518, and died on 9th July, 1535. In his will he desired to be buried "inter fratres Minores," apparently meaning Greyfriars, London; his monument there was destroyed in the Great Fire in 1666. He left the Grey Friars of London 10l. for thirty trentals. Standish was the foremost champion of the "Old Learning" in England, and engaged in an unequal controversy with Erasmus. Nevertheless, at the close of his life, he accepted the royal supremacy (Little, Greyfriars, 271–274; Seebohm, Oxford Reformers, 326–327, 383–384; Dict. Nat. Biog., liii., 472).

John Cutler (1514–1518), who is described on p. 77 below as "sacre theologie professor, quondam gardianus loci," occurs as Guardian in 1514, 1515, and 1518 (Letter-Book, M. ff. 224, 237, and Repertory, i., f. 13, ap. Victoria County History, i., 507). He probably resigned in, or soon after, 1518, but survived till 9th November, 1530. He was buried in the All Hallows Chapel.

Walter Goodfield (d. 1521) supplicated as B.D. for D.D. at Oxford on 3rd June, 1508, and was admitted D.D. on 27th June, 1510. He was then probably Guardian of the Oxford Franciscans, an office which he had resigned before July, 1513. He must have been Guardian of London between 1518 and his death on 27th December, 1521. He was buried in the All Hallows Chapel (Little, Greyfriars, 131, 337–339).

Thomas Cudnor (1526 ?–1535 ?) was a D.D., and occurs as Guardian on 18th November, 1526 (Letters and Papers, iv., 5870), and in 1529 and 1531 (see p. 176 below). As Guardian he acknowledged the king's supremacy on 14th May, 1534 (Letters and Papers, vii., 665). Bishop Standish by his will, dated 3rd July, 1535, left his books to be distributed "secundum discretionem magistri Johannis Cudnor, S.T.D., nunc gardiani Fratrum Minorum Londoniensium et magistri Willelmi German eiusdem facultatis, et cuilibet ipsorum quinque marcas pro labore" (Little, Greyfriars, 273, 276). Cudnor died before 1538, and was buried in the All Hallows Chapel; his is the last burial in the church before the Surrender, which appears in the Register; it is given only in the Index (see p. 136 below).

Thomas Chapman (1538) was Guardian in 1538. He seems to have been a creature of Thomas Cromwell, and his letters printed below (pp. 213–218) do not present him in a very favourable light. In the "Surrender" on 12th November, 1538, he is described as S.T.D. He was granted an annuity of 13l. 6s. 8d., of which he was still in receipt as late as 1547 (Letters and Papers, XIV. (i) p. 602; XXI. (ii) p. 443).

Besides those whose position in the list can be given with tolerable certainty there are two Guardians for whom no date can be assigned.

John Seller, "doctor theologie quondam huius loci Gardianus," who was buried "inter chorum et altaria" (p. 102 below).

Thomas Westgate, "valens pater . . . quondam Custos et Gardianus Londonie," who was also buried "inter chorum et altaria" (see p. 104 below).

Chamberleyn is the earliest Guardian whose burial is recorded. Probably therefore both Seller and Westgate belong to the fifteenth century; there are certainly two or more names missing between Kyrye's first term and the accession of Bavard—say between 1445 and 1495. There are perhaps also gaps between Bavard and Standish, and between Goodfield and Cudnor; but if Seller and Westgate had died so recently the compiler might be expected to have given their dates.


  • 1. This much disputed date has been finally settled by the discovery of an original letter of the minister general, John of Parma, dated "at Metz in Lorraine in the chapter general a.d. 1254 in the month of June" (Arch. Franc. Hist., iv., 428–430).
  • 2. The insertion of Salomon de Ingham as Guardian in 1292–1293 (Victoria County History, i., 506), is an error; Ingham was a Dominican.
  • 3. Additional MS. 17,362 f. 5 (Wardrobe Account for 13 Edward II.). Fratribus de ordine minorum London. pro pittancia lxiiij fratrum ibidem in conventu existencium vij die Julii anno xij finiente, videlicet die anniversarii domini Edwardi patris domini nostri Regis per manus Camerarii de Scaccario soluentis denaria fratri Henr. de Sutton ultimo die Julii, xxj s iiij d.