The fifteenth century: Priors Pulter, Tollerton and Guy

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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'The fifteenth century: Priors Pulter, Tollerton and Guy', in The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, (Oxford, 1921) pp. 219-222. British History Online [accessed 13 April 2024]

In this section



Reginald Collier's successor was Richard Pulter, who, like so many of his predecessors, was a canon of the house. Signification of the royal assent to his election (fn. 1) was made to Thomas Kempe, Bishop of London, on the 7th July, 1471, shortly after the battle of Barnet, when Edward IV regained the throne. On the 18th July a mandate was issued to the Mayor of London, John Stokton, for the restitution of the temporalities to the prior—'whose election as prior the bishop had confirmed, and whose fealty the king had taken'.

The only mention of this prior to be found in the records occurs in the year 1473 in a conveyance of lands, &c., late belonging to Sir Robert Danvers 'with warranty against Richard Prior of St. Bartholomew's', (fn. 2) but none of the places mentioned in the deed was ever a possession of the monastery.

In 1476 Sir Hugh Fenne thus refers to him, though not by name, in his will: (fn. 3) 'The priour of Saint Bartholomew owes me 18 poundes thirteen shillings and four pence for lede, I will he have 15 poundes for tithes pro Decimis oblitis' [sic]—from which it would seem that some considerable repair of the roof had been necessary and that the monastery was still unable to pay all its debts.

Prior Richard died, probably in the month of April of the year 1480; for on the 18th of that month licence was granted to the sub-prior and convent 'to elect a prior in the place of Richard Pulter deceased'. (fn. 4)



The choice again fell on a brother of the house; for signification was made to Thomas Kempe, the Bishop of London, of 'the royal assent to the election of Robert Tollerton, brother of the monastery, as prior'. (fn. 5) And on the 13th May a mandate was issued to Bartholomew James, Mayor of London, and the other escheators, for the restitution of the temporalities to the said Robert, whose election the bishop had confirmed and whose fealty the king had taken. (fn. 6)

No record has been found of the doings of Prior Robert. He saw the death of Edward IV, the murder of Edward V by his uncle, and the accession of Richard III. He (or his successor) was called upon to grant licence to the brethren of the hospital to elect a master, which resulted in the election of John Barton, but we have found no record of the event. The prior died in 1484, probably in the month of April, as licence was granted (fn. 7) on the 26th (fn. 8) of that month to elect a prior because of the vacancy caused 'by the death of Robert Tollerton'.



On the 4th June of the year 1484 the king signified to Thomas Kempe, who was still the Bishop of London, the royal assent 'to the election of William Guy, brother of the monastery', as prior; (fn. 9) and issued the usual mandate for the restitution of the temporalities on the 23rd June.

Of the twenty-one years of William Guy's priorate—all lived during the reign of Henry VII—there are remarkably few records.

In the year 1489 the king granted a charter of confirmation in favour of William Guy, the prior, and also of the master and brethren of the hospital, for which £10 was paid into the hanaper. It merely confirmed previous charters, as shown in the Appendix. (fn. 10)

Among the ancient deeds at the Record Office there are receipts given by 'William Prior of St. Bartholomew's' to the Prior of the Charterhouse. Two of these are for a quit rent issuing out of a tenement in St. John Street without the Bars, Smithfield, at 'le two Elmys', in the parish of St. Sepulchre, dated the 25th June 1489, (fn. 11) and the 25th June 1504; three of them are for rent of tenements in the parish of St. Margaret's, Lothbury, dated the 25th June in the years 1501, 1502, and 1504; (fn. 12) and one for rent issuing out of a tenement in the parish of St. Nicholas in the Shambles (de Macellis), also dated 'the morrow of midsummer' 1504. (fn. 13)

One slight reference to this prior is noted in the chapter on the Fair, (fn. 14) where the court of aldermen referred 'to the unkind disposition' of both the prior and of the master of the hospital, concerning some matter of the Fair.

There were several wills of interest made during William Guy's priorate which relate to the priory; notably that of Thomas Peerson, in 1485, who left small sums for a light to burn before nearly every figure of a saint in the church, and also mentions each figure by name. (fn. 15) Alice Hoole, in 1494, bequeathed to the prior and convent a silver-gilt chalice and a corporas cloth with crimson velvet border, with two branches of gold, &c.; she willed to be buried under the image of St. Bartholomew 'standing at the cloister door'. (fn. 16) Edward Hungerford willed to be buried in his chapel of St. Anne, which was next to that of St. Bartholomew (that is, in the north ambulatory of the quire). (fn. 17) All these wills are referred to later when describing the church, but in none of them is there any mention of Prior William Guy.

In the year 1504, one John Brampton, of the parish of St. Mary Matfelon, bequeathed to the priory (fn. 18) 'that they may pray for my soule fowre thousand brike (bricks) to be delivered to them at their place', from which we may assume that there were building operations then in progress or contemplated. (Brampton also left 1,000 bricks to the Charterhouse to have his soul more in remembrance, which may indicate that he owned brickfields in or near London.)

In the year 1487 the prior must have granted the brethren of the hospital licence to elect a successor to John Barton as master, which resulted in the election of Thomas Crewker, who outlived the prior.

It has been asserted that William Tyndale, the reformer and the great translator of the New Testament, was ordained at St. Bartholomew's in the year 1503. As this date is within the priorate of William Guy it may be referred to here.

George Offer, the biographer of Bunyan, in his memoir on Tyndale prefixed to the verbatim reprint of Tyndale's translation of the New Testament of 1526, (fn. 19) states that Tyndale's 'ordination took place at the conventual church of the priory of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield on the 11th March, 1503'. Now in the Episcopal Register at St. Paul's (fn. 20) there is an entry on December 17th, 1502, that a William Tyndale, of the diocese of Carlisle, was ordained sub-deacon at St. Bartholomew's on the 24th September, 1502; that a William Tyndale was ordained deacon at St. Thomas the Martyr on the 17th December following; and that a William Tyndale was ordained priest on the 11th March following, viz. in 1503. Although these dates of promotion from the sub-diaconate to the priesthood seem to follow very closely upon each other, in those days they often followed more closely still, and as a William Tyndale also made his profession in the monastery of the Observants in Greenwich in the year 1508, the entries probably all refer to one and the same individual.

Offer says that William Tyndale was born at Hunt's Court, Nibley, about the year 1477, which would make the above dates for his ordination possible.

On the other hand, in the biographical notice prefixed to the Doctrinal Treatises of Tyndale published by the Parker Society, (fn. 21) it is stated that Tyndale, the translator, was born about the year 1484; and Anderson in his Annals of the Bible states that he was born in that year or in 1485 or 1486. (fn. 22) Tyndale was also known under the name of William Hychins or Huchens, and under that appellation he appears in the Register of the University of Oxford (fn. 23) from May 13th, 1512, to July 2nd, 1515, in which latter year he took his M.A. degree from Magdalen College. All this is against the William Tyndale ordained in 1503 being Tyndale the translator. Certainly the William Tyndale professed at Greenwich was not the translator, because, if so, he must have deserted his monastery, and we should have heard of it. Anderson says there were at least four William Tyndales at this time. (fn. 24) It is therefore probable that the William Tyndale ordained in 1503 was not the translator; and as a careful search through' the episcopal registers up to the year 1522, when he preached at Gloucester, reveals no other William Tyndale as having been ordained here, it is probable that William Tyndale the reformer and translator was not ordained at St. Bartholomew's.

William Guy died in the year 1505. Licence to choose a prior 'because the monastery was destitute of a pastor by the death of Brother William Guy the last prior' (fn. 25) was granted on the 3rd August in that year.


  • 1. Cal. Pat., 11 Edw. IV, 7 July (1471).
  • 2. Add. Charters, Mus. Brit. 38861, 24 Oct., 13 Edw. IV.
  • 3. App. I, p. 537.
  • 4. Cal. Pat., 20 Edw. IV, 18 Apr. (1480).
  • 5. Ib., 3 May (1480).
  • 6. Cal. Pat., 20 Edw. IV, 13 May.
  • 7. Pat. 1 Rich. III, pt. 2, m. 5, 26 Apr. (Cal. since published, p. 389).
  • 8. Not 24 Apr., as Harl. MSS. 433.
  • 9. Pat. 1 Rich. III, pt. 4, m. 6, 23 June (1484) (Cal. since published).
  • 10. App. I, p. 489, Charter No. 29; also Charters Nos. 16, 4. and 1.
  • 11. Cat. Anc. Deeds, R. O., vol. ii, No. 2173, 2204.
  • 12. Ib., 2056–8.
  • 13. Ib., 2216.
  • 14. See p. 306.
  • 15. App. I, p. 537; see also Vol. II, chap. vi, images.
  • 16. App. I, p. 538.
  • 17. Ib.
  • 18. Ib. Mr. J. Challenor Smith drew my attention to this will.
  • 19. Published by Bagster.
  • 20. Reg. London, Hill.
  • 21. p. 14.
  • 22. p. 27.
  • 23. Vol. i, published by the Oxf. Hist. Soc.
  • 24. Ib., vol. ii, App., p. i.
  • 25. Cal. Pat., 20 Hen. VII, 3 Aug. (1505).