House of Knights Hospitallers: The preceptory of Yeaveley and Barrow

Pages 75-77

A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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


In this section



In the township of Stydd in the parish of Shirley, which originally formed part of the manor of Yeaveley, was a preceptory or commandery of the Knights Hospitallers, which was usually known as the preceptory of Yeaveley, though the alias of Stydd was sometimes substituted or added; and latterly, when the other possessions of the order in Derbyshire had been added to it, it became known under the joint appellation of the preceptory of Yeaveley and Barrow.

It was during the reign of Richard I (118999) that Ralph Foun gave a hermitage at Yeaveley with lands, waters, woods, mills, and other appurtenances to the Hospitallers. This gift was subject to two conditions: firstly that Robert son of Richard, the then tenant of the hermitage, should hold it for his life and act as the steward (procurator) of the estate, and secondly that the Hospitallers of Yeaveley would receive the donor, clad in the habit of their order, whenever he wished, either in sickness or in health. (fn. 1) In 1251 Henry III granted the Hospitallers free warren over the manor of Yeaveley. (fn. 2)

William Meynell was a considerable benefactor of this preceptory, which was conjointly dedicated to St. Mary and St. John Baptist, in the year 1268. Among other benefactors were Oliver Foun and William Montgomery, lands at Yeaveley; Margery de Carun, lands and tenements at Longford; Robert de Bakepuze, the church of Barrow-on-Trent and lands there; and Ascuit Musard, half the church of Staveley, subsequently rendered more valuable by the gift to that moiety, by Walter Abitot, of 22 acres of land with common rights at Barlow. (fn. 3) On the suppression of the Knights Templars the Hospitallers acquired the lands which had been held by that order in Normanton near Chesterfield. (fn. 4)

They also had some property at Compton, which really formed part of the town of Ashbourne, though separated from it by the Schole brook. In 1276 there were grave complaints made against the Yeaveley Hospitallers by the townsmen of Ashbourne, because they extended their protection and privileges to all comers, and so increased the number of their own tenants at the expense of the royal borough, and as these privileges included freedom from toll and bridge dues the king was a considerable loser by their action. Also the masters of the hospital had appropriated the right of stamping, and thereby certifying as correct, the gallon and bushel measures which had always before had to be brought to the town officers for examination; and besides this they allowed their tenants to sell bread and beer by false weight and measure, and also they had erected a public bakery to bake bread for sale, and otherwise interfered with monopolies claimed by the royal borough of Ashbourne. (fn. 5)

A similar case of interference with the course of royal justice occurred in 1330 when William Brix, a brother of the order and keeper of the manor of Barrow, caused the doors of the manorhouse to be shut in the face of the sheriff's officer when he came to take the assize of weights. (fn. 6)

In the full account of the order in this county drawn up by Philip Thame, grand prior of England in 1338, and presented to the grand master, Elyon de Villanova, the gross income of Yeaveley is returned at £95 6s. and the expenditure at £63 6s., leaving the handsome balance of £32 for the general treasury. This was before the annexation of Barrow to the preceptory; Barrow was at that time one of the smaller estates, termed camerae, which were either administered by bailiffs or farmed out. The camera of Barrow was under a bailiff, and its gross income was £36 7s., a balance of £23 6s. 8d. being handed to the treasury. (fn. 7)

On the income side of the report for 1338, the half-rectory of Staveley is returned at £12, The highest amount is £52, in rents from their tenants, and the next highest is £20 10s., being the year's voluntary offerings, termed confraria. The Hospitallers were entitled by brief to make annual collections throughout Christendom, and the districts assigned to each preceptor, usually a county, were strictly defined. These collections were for the most part made in the various churches and received by an itinerant collector of the order.

One of the chief duties of the various preceptories, second only in importance to the supplying of general funds for the militant work of the order, was that of hospitality. This obligation was for the most part faithfully discharged. The historian of the Order says:—

In fact commanderies must have partaken very much of the character of the houses of public entertainment, where both rich and poor might feel certain of a hospitable reception and a liberal entertainment for man and beast. (fn. 8)

The preceptory of Yeaveley consumed in that year, chiefly in hospitality, 72 quarters of wheat and 84 quarters of barley, and £10 worth of flesh, fish, and other necessaries of the table. The horses of the preceptor and of guests consumed 120 quarters of oats during a like period. The expenditure on the repairs of their buildings in 1338 was 40s., and 6s. 8d. was spent on wine, wax, and oil for their church. The establishment consisted of :—Brother Henry Baukwell, who was both preceptor and chaplain, of Brother Thomas de Bathelee, of John Brex, a donatus—i.e. a layman who had given himself and his goods to the order and was by them supported—as well as certain servants. The two brothers had each an allowance of £1 for a gown, 6s. 8d. for a mantle, and 8s. for other expenses. The clothes and stipends of the domestics, exclusive of the cook and porter, cost £4, whilst the washerwoman's bill for the year only came to 16d.

The chief income of the Barrow camera at this date was £30, the value of the appropriated rectory of the parish church of Barrow; rents produced 20s. 6d., the dove-cot 3s., and a windmill 20s. The wages of the bailiff and his servant came to 25s., in addition doubtless to board and lodging, and among other outgoings was a pension of 34s. to the house of Alkmonton.

The church of Barrow-on-Trent (fn. 9) was bestowed on the Hospitallers by Robert de Bakepuze as early as the reign of Henry II. His son John de Bakepuze confirmed this grant and also gave them land at Barrow which was the origin of this camera. At some date prior to 1433 the camera of Barrow was annexed to the preceptory or bailiwick of Yeaveley, and thus continued until the dissolution of the order. Mass was sung for the soul of Robert. de Bakepuze every Sunday within the chapel of the preceptory at Yeaveley.

In a chartulary relative to the lands of the Hospitallers in England there are numerous references to the joint preceptory of Yeaveley and Barrow between the years 1503 and 1526. In 1504 William Darel the preceptor leased all fruits, rents, appurtenances, tithes, oblations, and advowsons pertaining to the joint preceptory to Thomas Babington of Lea for three years at £26 2s. 11d. per annum, subject to the annual payment to the prior of Tutbury of his pension of £3, and 40s. to the steward of the prior's court, and 13s. 4d. pension to the bishop of Carlisle. The lessee was also to find a priest to celebrate in the preceptory chapel at Yeaveley. In 1509 Brother John Babington, preceptor of Yeaveley and Barrow, leased the preceptory to Thomas Babington of Lea and to Anthony Babington of Kingston (his son and heir) for one year at £26 2s. 11d., but for the second and third years at £72. It was subject to the same payments and to the exercise of honourable hospitality within the preceptory. On 24 April, 1516, there was a renewal from John Babington as preceptor to his father Thomas Babington: and in 1522 to Edward Rhoche, preceptor of Temple Brewer, and to Humphrey Babington. In 1526 Ambrose Leyton succeeded Sir John Babington in this preceptory, and leased it conjointly to Sir John (who had obtained the much more lucrative preceptory of Dalby and Rothley), and three others for two years at £26 2s. 11d., and for the third year at £90. At the same date Thomas Docwra, grand prior of England, granted to Ralph Pemberton, yeoman of Barrowon-Trent, a twenty-nine years' lease of the rectory of Barrow at a rental of £20. (fn. 10) There was clearly a great falling-off in the sixteenthcentury administration of the Hospitallers' preceptories as compared with the fourteenth century.

When the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 was drawn up Sir Ambrose Cove was the preceptor of Yeaveley and Barrow. He is described as personally occupying the manor - house of 'Yeveley Stydde' and the adjacent lands, which are returned as of no value beyond the sustentation of hospitality, the distribution of alms to the poor who came there, and the support of a chaplain to administer the sacraments and sacramentals to all comers, and to celebrate mass for departed benefactors. In default of more precise information as to the income of the preceptory, the Commissioners adopted the highly unusual course of giving the names of those for whose souls the chaplain said mass on the different days of the week.

Another return of the reign of Henry VIII (fn. 11) gives the gross income of the preceptory as £107 3s. 8d., and the clear value at £93 3s. 4½d.

In 1543 the confiscated property of the preceptory was granted by Henry VIII to Charles Lord Mountjoy. (fn. 12)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 805-6.
  • 2. Chart. R. 35 Hen. III, m. 2.
  • 3. Dugdale, Mon. vi, 835. The grouping of benefactions in the Monasticon out of a general chartulary of the Hospitallers under the different preceptories is done very badly, several placed under Yeaveley really belong to Barrow in Cheshire and vice versa.
  • 4. Plac. de Quo Warranto (Rec. Com).
  • 5. Hund. R. (Rec. Com). 1, 58.
  • 6. Assize R. 169, m. 56 d.
  • 7. This report, still extant among the archives at Malta, was reprinted and well annotated by the Camden Society in 1857.
  • 8. Porter, Hist. of Knights of Malta, i, 275.
  • 9. Not Barrow in Cheshire, as mistakenly given both in the original and last editions of the Monasticon.
  • 10. Cott. MSS. Claud E, vi, fols. 5, 68, 68b, 156, 210, 263, and 277; see also Cox, Churches of Derb. iv, 16, 17, and App. ii and iii.
  • 11. Speed, Historie of Great Britaine, 1069.
  • 12. L. and P. Henry VIII, xviii (2), 4-9 (1).