House of Augustinian canons: The abbey of Norton

A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.

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

'House of Augustinian canons: The abbey of Norton', in A History of the County of Chester: Volume 3, (London, 1980) pp. 165-171. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

In this section



The priory of St. Mary at Norton, which was elevated to the status of an abbey at the end of the 14th century, (fn. 1) was not originally established at Norton but at neighbouring Runcorn. William FitzNeal, constable of Chester and baron of Halton, established a community of Augustinian canons within sight of his castle of Halton about 1115; he said in his foundation charter that he was acting at the suggestion of Robert de Limesey, bishop of Chester, and with the consent of Richard, earl of Chester. (fn. 2) The canons for the new foundation may have come from Bridlington priory (Yorks. E.R.) which had been founded by a cousin of William FitzNeal and of which William himself was a benefactor. (fn. 3) The church of the new priory at Runcorn was to be dedicated to St. Mary and St. Bertelin and this unusual double dedication suggests that there was already a church or chapel dedicated to the popular local saint on which the new community was to be based. (fn. 4) The canons did not, however, remain at Runcorn long enough to put up any new buildings and in 1134 the community was moved to Norton by William, the founder's son. The move may have been prompted by strategic considerations on the part of the patron but, since it was said to have been at the request and on the advice of Bishop Roger de Clinton, it was more likely to have been because the canons wanted a larger and healthier site. (fn. 5) The new priory church at Norton was not completed by the death of William the Constable and his successor, Eustace FitzJohn, gave pasture for 100 sheep to Hugh of Keckwick on condition that he finished the church in every part according to the first foundation of William FitzNeal. (fn. 6) The church was dedicated to St. Mary alone although there seems to have been a later association with St. Christopher, an appropriate dedication in view of the proximity of the site to the Mersey. (fn. 7)

William FitzNeal endowed his foundation at Runcorn generously. In addition to the church at Runcorn he gave it six churches: Great Budworth, Pirton (Oxon.), Burton on Stather (Lincs.), Castle Donington (Leics.), and Kneesall and Ratcliff upon Soar (Notts.). He granted it tithes from the mills at Castle Donington, Ratcliff upon Soar, Kneesall, and Ollerton and part of the tithes from his manors of Barrow, Guilden Sutton, Stanney, Raby, and Staining (Lancs.). The income from the tithes formed over half the total revenues of the house in 1535. (fn. 8) FitzNeal also gave the canons 800 a. of land in Clifton (nr. Runcorn), Halton, Thelwall, Widnes (Lancs.), Staining (Lancs.), and Castle Donington (Leics.); the mills at Halton and Barrow and a quarter of the mill at Ratcliff upon Soar; half his fisheries at Halton and Thelwall; rights of common at Halton and at Appleton and Cuerdley in his lordship of Widnes; a house in Halton and another in Chester. (fn. 9) When the priory was moved the canons were given the manor of Norton in exchange for seven ploughlands in Staining, Runcorn, and Clifton but William the Constable added nothing to his father's original endowment. (fn. 10) Two of William FitzNeal's tenants made grants to the house at the same time as their lord: Thurstan gave two-thirds of the demesne tithes of his manor of Sutton (in Prescot, Lancs.) and Hugh, son of Odard gave land between Runcorn and Weston and, with his brother Gilbert, a mill at Walton between Keckwick and Warrington. (fn. 11) Hugh and Gilbert were ancestors of the Dutton family which became closely associated with the priory; Hugh's grandson, Hugh of Dutton, made further grants to the canons at the end of the 12th century and another grandson, Adam of Dutton, gave them his salt house in Northwich and reached an agreement with them over lands which they had acquired at Stockham next to his manor of Sutton Weaver. (fn. 12) The canons acquired some further grants of lands and rents from other tenants of the barons of Halton, such as Wrono Punterling who gave them his mill at Millington. (fn. 13) The Aston family probably gave them lands and rents in Aston by Sutton which they held at the dissolution. (fn. 14) They seem, however, to have received fewer benefactions from lesser landowners than was usually the case with Augustinian houses, possibly because the original endowment was generous. (fn. 15)

The building of the church and conventual buildings occupied the early years at Norton. The canons, who lived in temporary huts, (fn. 16) were freed from tolls and the burdens of hospitality by Ranulph II, earl of Chester. (fn. 17) The size of the community apparently increased c. 1200: archaeological evidence suggests that the church and the cloisters were then enlarged and the first canons in Robert of Lathom's foundation at Burscough (Lancs.) probably came from Norton. (fn. 18) Little is known about the state of the community in the 13th century, apart from some legal proceedings concerning its churches, (fn. 19) but there are some indications that it was healthy. (fn. 20) In 1236 a fire destroyed the church and cloister but both were rebuilt more elaborately. (fn. 21) The church was becoming a popular burial place (fn. 22) and William de Warenne, sixth earl of Surrey, gave the canons a rent of 30s. a year from lands in Sowerby (Yorks.) to maintain a pittance for the soul of his niece, Alice, who was buried at Norton. (fn. 23) The possession of a miracle-working cross (fn. 24) must have increased the popularity of the house and some further building works were undertaken in the years around 1300: the chapter house was extended, the dormitory range enlarged, a new chapel for burials built between the chapter house and presbytery, and a mosaic floor laid in the church. (fn. 25) There is no evidence that the building works were financed by substantial new endowments although the patronage of the Dutton family was continued by a grant of land in Newton (in Preston) by Peter of Dutton in 1290. (fn. 26)

There are signs from the early 14th century that the house was short of money, possibly as a result of the ambitious building operations. In 1310 reports that the prior had been wasting the goods of the house caused Bishop Walter Langton to appoint two canons as co-adjutors with the prior in its governance and in the following year a visitation was ordered. (fn. 27) The bishop showed his continuing interest in Norton's affairs by invalidating the election of 1329, although he confirmed the choice of the canons. (fn. 28) In the 1320s the rent from Sowerby proved difficult to collect. (fn. 29) In 1331 the house, which was damaged by flooding, was licensed by the king to acquire lands worth £10 a year and also secured the appropriation of its church of Castle Donington. (fn. 30) The priors then became involved in several legal disputes in their attempts to protect their rights of patronage and secure the payment of arrears of revenues; on one occasion the help of the Black Prince was sought in a dispute with Thomas Dutton. (fn. 31) There is little other evidence to support the later tradition that the Black Prince was a great benefactor of the house, apart from his purchase of its wool, and in 1354 the prior complained that the spiritualities of the house had been assessed for the fine of 5,000 marks granted to the prince. (fn. 32) The financial problems of the house evidently reached a crisis in the mid 14th century. In 1357 Bishop Northburgh admonished the prior for entering into rash and illegal contracts (fn. 33) which were beggaring his house, threatened to remove him from office, and enjoined on him certain measures to relieve the house of debt. (fn. 34) In response the prior and canons petitioned the bishop for permission to sell the advowson of the church of Ratcliff upon Soar to a magnus reverendus. (fn. 35) In 1358 the advowson was granted to John Winwick, treasurer of York Minster, and the house quitclaimed a pension of 13s. 4d. from the church in return for a yearly rent of 40s. from Winwick's manor of Little Burgh in Lonsdale. (fn. 36)

The first evidence of the size of the community is found in 1379 and 1381 when there were 15 canons including the prior; in 1401 the community numbered 16 and included a prior, subprior, infirmarer, cellarer, almoner, sacristan, and steward. (fn. 37) The house was over twice the size of the larger Augustinian houses in Staffordshire, including Rocester which ranked as an abbey and had only six canons in 1377. (fn. 38) Possibly the size of the community encouraged the prior and convent, with the support of their patron, John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, holder of Halton honor, (fn. 39) to petition Pope Boniface IX for the grant of abbatial status. In May 1391 when Norton became the fifteenth Augustinian abbey in England the pope permitted the first abbot and his successors to use the mitre, ring, pastoral staff, and other pontifical insignia; in 1395 the new abbot presided over the Chapter of Augustinian canons held at Northampton. (fn. 40) In an attempt to increase the revenues of the new abbey a further papal indult was obtained in 1399 to replace the vicars of the churches of Runcorn, Great Budworth, Pirton, Burton on Stather, and Castle Donington, on death or resignation, by canons from Norton. (fn. 41) Probably at that period the church was again enlarged by adding a north aisle to the nave and a Lady chapel to the east end and by building further chapels off the north and south transepts. (fn. 42) The church and buildings were, however, said to be ruinous in 1429 and the revenues of the house, which had been diminished by the frequent flooding of the Mersey, hardly sufficed to meet the costs of hospitality; a papal indulgence was offered for the next ten years to those who visited Norton and contributed to the cost of repairs. (fn. 43) Little more is known of the abbey's finances in the 15th century but a lawsuit over Aston chapel in 1453 and the sale of the advowson of the church of Grappenhall in 1458 and that of Kneesall in the following year indicates a crisis in the finances of the house. (fn. 44)

No visitation records survive for Norton before the early 16th century but there are some indications of the nature of life there in the later Middle Ages. The names of the canons which occur in ordination registers suggest that most came from places near-by, (fn. 45) although there is some evidence of movement between houses: in 1356 a canon who had transferred to Norton from Leicester Abbey was walled up as an anchorite in the churchyard of St. John's, Chester, and in 1423 Adam Olton, formerly a canon of Norton, became master of the hospital of St. Anthony of Vienne in London. (fn. 46) The vigorous rule of Richert Wyche, the last prior and first abbot, occasionally brought him into conflict with the law: in 1369 six of his servants seized a woman at Moore and she was imprisoned in the priory until she paid to regain her liberty; in 1384 the prior was accused of harbouring one of his canons who was said to have stolen cattle from the priory and in 1388 the prior himself was accused of obstructing boats in the Mersey by his fishyards called Gracedieu and Charity. (fn. 47) There are, however, only isolated cases of disorder during the 15th century. In 1430 a canon was accused of rape, abduction, and theft. (fn. 48) After the death of Abbot John Sutton in 1441 the election was disputed and the victors were later accused of poisoning Sutton but all three were acquitted of these and other serious charges brought against them. (fn. 49) The community was smaller by the early 16th century: there were 9 canons in 1496, 7 in 1518, 8 in 1521 and 7 in 1524. (fn. 50) The offices of prior, sacrist, precentor, kitchener, almoner, infirmarian, refectorer, and abbot's chaplain were shared among the canons and in 1518 and 1521 all members of the house held offices. (fn. 51) The decline in numbers caused concern at visitations: in 1518 the abbot said that he had searched in vain for suitable recruits but he was still enjoined in 1524 to make the numbers up to the full complement of twelve. (fn. 52) The buildings were then falling into disrepair. A visitation in 1524 had to be held in the abbot's oratory as the chapter house was dilapidated and repairs were ordered, but only within the resources of the house. (fn. 53) In 1518 the abbot reported to the visitor that the house was free from debt, (fn. 54) the common seal safeguarded, the canons well-disciplined, and the essentials of religion properly observed; the members of the convent were unanimous in their praise for the abbot's administration and agreed that all was well with the house, apart from paucula, which referred to the lack of an inventory and accounts, though the visitor was also concerned about alehouses. (fn. 55) At the next visitation in 1521 all again appeared well: the injunctions issued after the previous visitation were said to have been carried out and the abbot, far from being in debt, was owed £100; there was only one minor complaint from the infirmarian that he had no service books for the use of the sick and travellers. (fn. 56) The impression of good administration and discipline given by the two visitations is brought into question by the evidence produced at two inquisitions held at Norton by Bishop Geoffrey Blythe himself in April and May 1522. (fn. 57) The record of proceedings at the inquisitions is confused but it appears that the prior, William Hardeware, who had praised his abbot, William Merton, so enthusiastically in 1518 and 1521 quarrelled with him over money and abused him in letters to a member of another house. (fn. 58) The abbot was examined on the charges at the inquisition in April 1522: he was accused of misconduct with several women, but some of the offences were said to have taken place 30 years previously and most dated before his election as abbot. He was also accused of misusing the resources of the house by cutting down timber and supporting an extravagant household; strangers, including his relatives and one of the bishop's officials were said to be maintained at the expense of the house and one of them lived in the abbey with his wife and two daughters and paid only four marks a year for his rooms. (fn. 59) The abbot denied or answered the charges and, in his turn, the prior was required to substantiate his accusations, which appear mostly to have been based on rumour, and to answer countercharges. He confessed that he also had been guilty of fornication and admitted that there had been lapses in the observance of the rule in the house; the latter included singing after compline, breaking of silence, and failure to observe hours of contemplation since no common refectory was maintained. The inquisition seems to have intensified the dispute and a further inquisition in the following month heard that Hardeware had threatened the abbot with a knife during a quarrel. Hardeware fled to Halton where he was reported to have prophesied that the abbot would soon lose office. In view of the revelations of maladministration and scandal it is surprising to discover that by 1524 harmony had apparently been restored and the house was once more in good order. William Merton, who was still abbot, declared that the house was free from debt and the canons well-behaved, although the house was insufficiently enclosed. William Hardeware, still prior, praised his superior and brethren in all things, merely deploring the lack of an inventory and accounts. The rest of the canons agreed that relations between the abbot and convent were peaceful and that religious observances were being maintained. (fn. 60) Nevertheless there is further evidence from the 1530s of the sexual irregularity of some canons: the royal visitors reported in 1536 that two of the community were sodomites and two were incontinent, one with five women. (fn. 61)

In 1535 the gross income was valued at £258 11s. 8d. Spiritual possessions produced £145 9s., while £113 2s. 8d. came from temporal possessions. The net income was £180 7s. 6½d. after the deduction of an estimated annual expenditure of £78 4s. 1½d. Alms accounted for £24 a year and stipends were paid to two chantry chaplains, one celebrating in a chapel at Aston by Sutton and the other celebrating in the abbey for the souls of the founder and Hugh Dutton; pensions were paid to the abbots of Chester and Vale Royal and £7 a year spent on defences against flooding. The fees of eight bailiffs, a receiver, an auditor and steward of courts and of the abbey's steward, Sir William Brereton, totalled £22 16s. 8d. (fn. 62) The annual value of the estates in 1537 when they had passed to the Crown was £343 13s. 7¼d., so that they had been considerably undervalued in 1535. The abbey's property as listed in 1539 consisted of the manor of Norton, lands and rents in Aston by Budworth, Aston by Sutton, Halton, Preston on the Hill, Guilden Sutton, Walton, Daresbury, Newton by Daresbury, Keckwick, (fn. 63) Stockham, Runcorn, Northwich, Lach Dennis, Nether Peover, Budworth, Shurlach, Comberbach, Barnton, Landican, Frodsham, Chester, Rostherne, Millington, Haslington, Warrington (Lancs.), Bold (Lancs.), Penketh (Lancs.), 'Rowsiche' (?Lancs.), Tarbock (Lancs.), Stotfoldshaw (Lancs.), 'Oldgreve iuxta Lymme', and Sowerby; the appropriated churches of Runcorn, Great Budworth, Pirton, Burton on Stather, and Castle Donington, tithes from Guilden Sutton, Halton, Astmoor, 'Halfeld' (Lincs.), and Sutton (Lancs.) and pensions from the churches of Grappenhall, Great Barrow, St. Peter's, Chester, Davenham, and Raby. (fn. 64)

In 1536 Norton was included in the list of houses of a yearly value of less than £200 and thus came within the terms of the Act of that year for dissolving the lesser monasteries, even though the royal visitors reported its income to be £260 a year. (fn. 65) The abbot was, however, in trouble with the authorities because two of his servants were accused of coining; he was arrested in the summer of 1535 but the charges were not substantiated. (fn. 66) Although Nicholas Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, pleaded for the abbot and his house, it was decided to dissolve the abbey and the royal commissioners arrived early in October 1536. (fn. 67) They encountered unexpectedly vigorous opposition, which can possibly be explained by the close connexions between the canons and near-by families which had been revealed by the 1522 inquisition. (fn. 68) The sheriff, Sir Piers Dutton, was informed on 8 October that the commissioners, who had packed up the jewels and other valuables and were preparing to leave, had been attacked by the abbot with a force of 200 or 300 supporters and forced to barricade themselves in a tower. Dutton arrived in the middle of the night with a hastily assembled collection of tenants and clients and found the abbot holding a celebratory ox-roasting. He dispersed the rebels and, although most of them escaped by taking to the waters round the abbey in the dark, captured the abbot and three canons and impris oned them in Halton castle; the commissioners and their spoil were escorted from the abbey and the royal farmer installed. (fn. 69) Dutton reported on the events at Norton to the chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, but the abbot and canons were saved from summary execution by events outside Cheshire and by the feud for control of the shire between Dutton and Sir William Brereton. Brereton, who had been the abbey steward since 1525, (fn. 70) interceded for them with Cromwell, supported by Sir Thomas Boteler who reported that 'the common fame of the county imputes no fault to them'. (fn. 71) Although the king ordered that the abbot and canons should be hanged, since they had stirred up insurrection, (fn. 72) the Yorkshire rising and the feud between Dutton and Brereton delayed the executions, (fn. 73) and in August 1537 the abbot and canons were released from prison in Chester; in November the abbot was awarded a pension of £24 and in the following month he obtained a dispensation to become a secular priest and hold a benefice. Six other former canons obtained like dispensations. (fn. 74)

The Abbey of St. Mary, Norton

The site of the abbey and the manor of Norton were sold to Richard Broke in 1545 for £1,512 1s. 9d. (fn. 75) and a house was built in the outer courtyard of the abbey. Most of the monastic buildings were demolished but the western range which had contained the abbot's lodgings was adapted to form the centre block of the new house. (fn. 76) That house was replaced about 1730 but the new house still incorporated the undercroft of the western range of the monastic buildings and those remains were left standing when the second house was demolished in 1928. (fn. 77) Excavations since 1971 under the auspices of the Runcorn Development Corporation have established the layout, dimensions, and stages of development of most of the monastic buildings. (fn. 78)

As was probably the case with most monastic houses, the first buildings to be put up at Norton were of timber, and probably provided temporary accommodation for the canons. Excavation has shown that some continued in use long enough to require replacement with larger scale timber structures. Those were occupied until all the permanent stone buildings were ready. The layout out of the claustral plan and the erection of the east end of the church probably began soon after the foundation (1134) and by the end of the 12th century all the principal buildings seem to have been finished. At that time, however, a succession of alterations began, which involved the re-building of the west and south ranges, the extension of the east range, the enlargement of the cloister, the lengthening of both the chancel and the nave, and the building of a new, enlarged chapter house. The new buildings probably were substantially complete when there was a serious fire in 1236. Traces of it were recognized in the excavation of the church and cloister. It is likely to have destroyed the roofs but the only rebuilding of masonry structures that appears to date from the mid 13th century is the cloister arcade. When expansion of the buildings re-started at the end of the 13th century it was concentrated at the east end of the church, where an eastern chapel was added to the chancel, and the side chapels were lengthened. The north side chapel is likely to have been the lady chapel. It was a popular place of burial for members of the laity, and many graves have been found within its walls, some in ornate sandstone coffins. In the early 14th century the church and chapter house were provided with mosaic tile floors. The tiles were fired in a kiln a short distance north of the church. In the 15th century a short north aisle was added to the nave, and what may have been extra accommodation for the abbot was added to the west side of the west range. In the early 16th century the cloister walks were reconstructed, but the dormitory was reduced in size. In 1429 both church and buildings were said to be ruinous and in 1524 the buildings were reported as being in disrepair.


Peter, occurs at some time between c. 1157 and 1166. (fn. 79)

Henry, occurs between c. 1170 and 1194. (fn. 80)

Ranulph, occurs between c. 1195 and c. 1220. (fn. 81)

Andrew, occurs c. 1224-31, 1238. (fn. 82)

Hugh of Donington, occurs between 1238 and 1249. (fn. 83)

Roger of Manchester, occurs at some time between 1249 and 1261. (fn. 84)

Roger of Budworth, or of Lincoln, occurs 1285, 1286. (fn. 85)

Acharius, occurs 1288. (fn. 86)

Gilbert, occurs 1310. (fn. 87)

John of Colton, elected 1314, occurs until 1322. (fn. 88)

Robert Bernard, appointed 1329, occurs until 1346. (fn. 89)

Thomas de Fraunkevylle, elected 1349. (fn. 90)

Walter of Weaverham, occurs between 1356 and 1358. (fn. 91)

Richard Wyche, occurs from 1366 and became the first abbot in 1391. (fn. 92)


Richard Wyche, died 1400. (fn. 93)

John Shrewsbury, appointed 1401, occurs until 1426. (fn. 94)

John Sutton, died 1441. (fn. 95)

Thomas Westbury, appointed 1441, died 1451. (fn. 96)

Robert Leftwich, elected 1451, resigned 1460. (fn. 97)

Hugh Hurleston, elected 1460, resigned 1469. (fn. 98)

John Malbon, elected 1469, occurs 1499. (fn. 99)

Roger Hall, died 1507. (fn. 100)

William Merton, elected 1507, occurs 1524. (fn. 101)

Thomas Birkenhead, occurs 1525, surrendered the abbey in 1536. (fn. 102)

A seal in use in the 13th century (fn. 103) is a pointed oval about 2¾ by 1¾ in. It depicts the Virgin crowned and seated on a throne; she holds a palm in her left hand and the Child on her right knee with a globe surmounted by a cross in His left hand. Legend, lombardic: [SIG]ILLUM . . . DE NORTUNE.


  • 1. Below.
  • 2. J. Tait, 'The Foundation Charter of Runcorn (later Norton) Priory', Chetham Miscellanies (Chetham Soc. N.S.C), 3.
  • 3. Ibid. 10.
  • 4. Ibid. 9; G. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 24–5.
  • 5. Tait, 'Foundation Charter of Runcorn Priory', 3, 14.
  • 6. Ibid. 16; T. Tanner, Notitia Monastica, ed. J. Nasmith, Cheshire XV. Hugh de 'Cathewik' is more likely to be Hugh of Keckwick or Hugh of Dutton than a Yorks. tenant of Eustace FitzJohn as Tait suggests.
  • 7. In the late 14th century there was a large statue of St. Christopher carrying Christ at Norton; the statue is now in Liverpool museum: F. H. Thompson. 'Norton Priory, nr. Runcorn, Ches.', Arch. Jnl. cxxiii. 67; C. Nickson, History of Runcorn (1887), 25.
  • 8. Tait, 'Foundation Charter of Runcorn Priory', 11–12; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 209–10.
  • 9. Tait, 'Foundation Charter of Runcorn Priory', 12–13.
  • 10. Ibid. 15; Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 123–4. The foundation by John the Constable of Stanlow abbey in the 1170s led to some disputes between Norton and Stanlow over land and tithes: Whalley Coucher Bk. ii. 394–6, 410, 533, 547.
  • 11. Tait, 'Foundation Charter of Runcorn Priory', 13.
  • 12. Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 125; Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 20–2, 24–5.
  • 13. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 16; Cal. Chart. R. 1327–41, 123–4; V.C.H. Lancs. iii. 177, 281, 322, 403.
  • 14. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 22, 33–4; 3 Sheaf, xvii, pp. 62–3; B.L. Harl. MS. 2037, f. 182v.; 2038, f. 38v.
  • 15. J. C. Dickinson, Origins of the Austin Canons and their Introduction into Eng. 138–42; cf. V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 61, 275.
  • 16. J. P. Greene, 'Norton Priory', Ches. Arch. Bull. iv. 32–3.
  • 17. G. Barraclough, 'Some Charts, of Earls of Chester', Medieval Miscellany for Doris Mary Stenton (P.R.S. N.S. xxxvi), 29. This privilege and others concerned with freedom from suit of court were claimed by the canons in 1350–1 and 1499: 3 Sheaf, xxx, pp. 81–2; Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i. 682; Cat. Anct. D. i, A. 203.
  • 18. Lancs. Inquests, Extents and Feudal Aids, i (R.S.L.C. xlviii), 17n.; V.C.H. Lancs. ii. 148; J. P. Greene, Norton Priory Excavation, 1972 (Runcorn Development Corp.), 2–4.
  • 19. Cal. Letters Innocent III concerning Eng. and Wales, ed. C. R. and M. G. Cheney, p. 111; W. H. Massie, 'On Timber Churches', J.C.A.S. [1st ser.], i. 306.
  • 20. In 1206 Innocent III wrote a reassuring letter to a member of the house worried about the efficacy of prayers offered for him by his new name in religion: Selected Letters of Pope Innocent III, ed. C. R. Cheney and W. H. Semple, 83.
  • 21. M. V. Taylor, '16th-Cent. Abbots of St. Werburgh's, Chester, etc.', J.C.A.S. N.S. xix (2), 184; Greene, Norton Priory Excavation, 1972, 1–2, 4; 1973, 1.
  • 22. Greene, Norton Priory Excavation, 1972, 2, 6.
  • 23. Early Yorks. Charts. viii (Yorks. Rec. Soc. Extra Ser. vi), 233–4; Close R. 1237–42, 232.
  • 24. J.C.A.S. N.S. xix (2), 187.
  • 25. 'Norton Priory', Medieval Arch. xvi. 172–3; xvii. 153; Greene, Norton Priory Excavation, 1972, 2–3; 1973, 1.
  • 26. Cal. Pat. 1281–92, 336. For connexions with Dutton fam. in 13th cent. see Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i. 569, 683.
  • 27. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/1, ff. 58v., 59.
  • 28. Ibid. f. 60v.; B/A/1/2, f. 104.
  • 29. Cal. Chanc. Wts. i. 545; Cal. Close, 1323–7, 245; P.R.O., SC 8/130/3170.
  • 30. Cal. Pat. 1330–4, 88–9; Cal. Papal Reg. ii. 379.
  • 31. Cal. Close, 1333–7, 44, 592; Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/3, f. 113; 3 Sheaf, xx, p. 45; Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 139.
  • 32. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 65, 81; Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i, facing p. 682 (the rest of the information in the caption is inaccurate or not confirmed from other sources).
  • 33. Cf. Blk. Prince's Reg. iii. 235; Cat. Anct. D. iv, A. 9847.
  • 34. Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/3, ff. 135v., 143v.
  • 35. Ibid. f. 144v. There had been disputes over the advowson in 1320 and 1331: Cal. Close, 1318–23, 228; 1330–3, 355.
  • 36. Burscough Cart. (Chetham Soc. 3rd ser. xviii), pp. 164–5; Cal. Close, 1354–60, 533. The 40s. rent had been lost by the dissolution.
  • 37. T.H.S.L.C. cxxiv. 22; Traditio, ii. 200; Lambeth Pal. Libr., Reg. Arundel, i, ff. 484v.–485.
  • 38. V.C.H. Staffs. iii. 245, 250, 259, 263.
  • 39. R. Somerville, History of Duchy of Lancaster, i. 22.
  • 40. Cal. Papal Reg. iv. 405, 408, 411; Chapters of Augustinian Canons (Oxf. Hist. Soc. lxxiv), 77. On abbatial rank see Dickinson, Origins of Austin Canons, 156–7.
  • 41. Cal. Papal Reg. v. 186. Cf. R. H. Snape, Eng. Monastic Finances in Later Middle Ages, 79–80.
  • 42. J. P. Greene, 'Norton Priory', Current Arch. xliii. 249; Norton Priory Excavation, 1972, plans of claustral buildings; W. Beamont, Arley Charts. (1886), p. xix.
  • 43. Cal. Papal Reg. viii. 169–70.
  • 44. 37 D.K.R. 445–6; Cal. Close, 1454–61, 373; B.L. Harl. MSS. 2037, f. 182v.; 2038, f. 38v.
  • 45. e.g. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/1, f. 147; B/A/1/6; ff. 141-157v.; B/A/1/7, ff. 213–231v.; B/A/1/8, f. 39; B/A/1/9, ff. 208v.–232v.; B/A/1/12, ff. 190-240v.; B/A/1/13, ff. 129v.–266v.; Reg. Bransford (Worcs. Hist. Soc. iv), p. 257; 2nd Reg. Stretton, 231–359.
  • 46. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/3, f. 138v.; R. Graham, 'The order of St. Antoine de Viennois', Arch. Jnl. lxxxiv. 361.
  • 47. W. Beamont, An Account of the Rolls of the Honor of Halton (1879), 13–14, 32; P.R.O., CHES 25/8 rot. 18.
  • 48. P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 23.
  • 49. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/9, f. 125; P.R.O., CHES 29/147, rot. 24; 3 Sheaf, xviii, p. 55. The case interrupted the university studies of members of the house: Chapters of Augustinian Canons (Oxford Hist. Soc. lxxiv), 100.
  • 50. Bp. Blythe's Visitations (Collns. Hist. Staffs. 4th ser. vii), 6, 51, 126–7, 171.
  • 51. Ibid. 6, 50–1.
  • 52. Ibid. 7, 51, 126–7.
  • 53. Ibid. 126–7. The walls of the cloister were refaced in the 16th cent.: Greene, Norton Priory Excavation, 1972, 4.
  • 54. The abbot had been in debt to the Crown a few years previously: L. & P. Hen. VIII, ii (1), p. 370; ii (2), p. 1484.
  • 55. Bp. Blythe's Visitations, 6–7.
  • 56. Ibid. 50–1.
  • 57. For what follows see ibid. 90–5, 107–9.
  • 58. For the identity of the 'prior of Leez' see ibid. 189.
  • 59. The problem had occurred in the 15th cent.: 3 Sheaf, xvii, pp. 62–3.
  • 60. Bp. Blythe's Visitations, 126–7.
  • 61. L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 141; cf. ibid. viii, p. 191; P.R.O., SP 1/81, fi. 191, 191v.
  • 62. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v. 209–10.
  • 63. An ancient rent to pay for a lamp in the abbey.
  • 64. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/409, mm. 3–7 (partly printed in Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i. 686). See also Lancs. & Ches. Rec. in P.R.O. i. 102–5.
  • 65. L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, pp. 141, 517. The house was, however, said to be £200 in debt: ibid. p. 141.
  • 66. G. Chesters, 'Power Politics and Roguery in Tudor Ches.', Cheshire Round, i (no. 2, 1962), 45–7; Letters and Accounts of Wm. Brereton of Malpas, 40–1; L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, p. 405; viii, p. 397. Dutton's letter announcing the arrest of the abbot is wrongly dated to 1534 (cf. vacancy at Vale Royal; above, Vale Royal abbey); the attempt (G. R. Elton, Policy & Police, 322) to date it to 1536 is unconvincing as the house was not dissolved until Oct.: below.
  • 67. L. & P. Hen. VIII, x, p. 393; xi, p. 265.
  • 68. Bp. Blythe's Visitations, 90–5, 107–9.
  • 69. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xi, p. 265.
  • 70. P.R.O., SC 6/Hen. VIII/409, m. 7.
  • 71. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xi, pp. 305–6, 413.
  • 72. Ibid. xi, pp. 305–6.
  • 73. Ibid. xi, pp. 487–8; xii (1), pp. 61, 585; xii (2), p. 20; 26 D.K.R. 27.
  • 74. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xii (2), p. 221; xiii (1), p. 583; Faculty Off. Regs., ed. D. S. Chambers, 72, 86, 98, 117.
  • 75. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx (2), p. 539.
  • 76. Ches. Arch. Bull. iv. 33. For the 1727 Buck print of the house see Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i, facing p. 482.
  • 77. Current Arch. xliii. 247–8.
  • 78. Medieval Arch. xvi. 171–4; xvii. 153–4; xviii. 188; xix. 233; xx. 177; xxi. 223; Current Arch. xxxi. 216–20; xliii. 246–50; J. P. Greene, Norton Priory. The help of Mr. Greene in preparing the architectural description is gratefully acknowledged.
  • 79. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26; Sir Christopher Hatton's Bk. of Seals, ed. L. C. Lloyd and D. M. Stenton, 354, 357.
  • 80. Knowles, Brooke, and London, Heads of Religious Houses, 940–1216, 178; Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26.
  • 81. Knowles, Brooke, and London, Heads of Religious Houses, 178; Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 24, 26.
  • 82. Knowles, Brooke, and London, Heads of Religious Houses, 178; Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26; Mag. Reg. Alb. 253.
  • 83. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26; Beamont, Account of Rolls of Honor of Halton, 13 (that list is not generally reliable).
  • 84. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26; John Rylands Libr., Arley Charts. Box 1, no. 87.
  • 85. Barraclough, Early Ches. Charts. 26; Whalley Coucher Bk. ii. 403; B.L. Harl. MS. 2063, f. 39; Cat. Anct. D. iv, A. 8971.
  • 86. Cal. Chester Co. Ct. R. 155.
  • 87. B.L. Harl. MS. 2162, f. 15; Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/1, f. 58v.
  • 88. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/1, f. 60v.; Whalley Coucher Bk. ii. 410. A canon of Trentham (Staffs.).
  • 89. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/2, f. 104; Cal. Papal Reg. iii. 233. He was still a member of the house c. 1357: Lich. Jt. R.O., B/A/1/3, f. 144v.
  • 90. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/2, f. 125.
  • 91. Ibid. B/A/1/3, ff. 138v., 144v.; Burscough Cart. (Chetham Soc. 3rd ser. xviii), p. 164; Cat. Anct. D. iv, A. 9847.
  • 92. V.C.H. Lancs. iii. 413; Cal. Papal Reg. iv. 405.
  • 93. Lamb. Pal. Libr., Reg. Arundel, i, f. 484v.
  • 94. Ibid. ff. 484v.–485; 37 D.K.R. 568; P.R.O., CHES 25/12, rot. 13. He was prior and was appointed by Abp. Arundel during his metropolitan visitation.
  • 95. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/9, f. 125; 3 Sheaf, xviii, p. 55.
  • 96. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/9, f. 125; B/A/1/10, f. 31. He was prior.
  • 97. Ibid. B/A/1/10, f. 31; B/A/1/12, f. 98v.
  • 98. Ibid. B/A/1/12, ff. 98v., 104v.
  • 99. Ibid. f. 104v.; 3 Sheaf, xxx, p. 81.
  • 100. Ormerod, Hist. Ches. i. 683; Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/14i, f. 56.
  • 101. Lich. Jt. R. O., B/A/1/14i, f. 56; Bp. Blythe's Visitations, 126.
  • 102. Harwood, History and Antiquities of Lichfield (1806), 413; Faculty Off. Regs., ed. D. S. Chambers, 117; above. He was not a member of the house in 1524: Bp. Blythe's Visitations, 126–7.
  • 103. B.L. Seal xciv. 31; John Rylands Libr., Arley Charts. Box 1, no. 20; cf. sketches in B.L. Harl. MSS. 2063, f. 39; 2074, f. 127. It is not clear that the seal in Birch, Cat. of Seals in B.M. i, p. 685 belonged to the house.