Wisbech: Guilds and chantries

Page 254

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 4, City of Ely; Ely, N. and S. Witchford and Wisbech Hundreds. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 2002.

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In 1389 there were six guilds in Wisbech. St. Peter's, dating from 1327, was the oldest, the remainder, with the possible exception of the Guild of Holy Trinity, having been founded during the reign of Richard II. Some of them were quite small. The Guild of St. John Baptist, however, though founded only in 1384, must have already collected a considerable membership. Its expenses during the five years of its existence amounted to £80 6s. (fn. 1) All these guilds (Holy Trinity, St. Peter, St. John Baptist, Our Lady, St. Thomas, Corpus Christi) were still in existence in 1462, by which date guilds of St. George, St. Lawrence, and Holy Cross had also been founded. In this year the Holy Trinity Guild allowed its hall to be hired by the others for payments ranging from 12d. (St. Peter, St. Thomas, Our Lady) to 4d. (Corpus Christi, Holy Cross). (fn. 2) The guilds of St. Mary, St. Peter, and St. John Baptist are mentioned in wills of 1495. (fn. 3)

St. Martin's Chantry lay on the North Brink adjoining White Hall. (fn. 4) The rental made at the time of its suppression shows it as owning 2 messuages, 19 acres of arable, 32 of pasture and 9 of reed ground, valued at £7 4s. 8d. Amongst its tenants was Robert Pygot, one of the Wisbech martyrs. Its goods and chattels were worth £3 6s., the most precious item being a parcel-gilt chalice valued at £1 6s. (fn. 5) Two cottages and yards (ortos), which had been occupied by the chantry priest, were in 1551 granted to William Place and Nicholas Spakeman, haberdasher of London. (fn. 6) The rest of the chantry lands were leased between 1558 and 1565 to Edmund Downing, who in the latter year assigned his lease to Richard Everard of Wisbech. (fn. 7) A twenty-oneyear lease was granted to Richard Buckworthe in 1582, (fn. 8) and a forty-year lease to Lancelot Johnson in 1606, the reversion being granted six years later to Francis Morrice and Francis Phellipps. (fn. 9)


  • 1. W. M. Palmer, Village Gilds of Cambs. 377-9 (printing the gild certificates).
  • 2. Corp. Rec. i, 30.
  • 3. Fenland N. & Q. ii, 195-6.
  • 4. Infm. Mr. G. M. G. Woodgate.
  • 5. S.C. 12/6/22.
  • 6. Cal. Pat. 1549-51, 410, 414.
  • 7. B.M. Harl. Chart. 77 F 53.
  • 8. L.R. 14/753.
  • 9. C 66/1710 m. 5; C 66/1964 m. 6.