A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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25. THE PRIORY OF TIPTREE
The Augustinian priory (fn. 1) of St. Mary and St. Nicholas, Tiptree, was founded by some of the family of Tregoz, lords of the manor of Tolleshunt Tregoz. The date of its foundation is not known, but among the collection of deeds relating to it in the Bodleian Library (fn. 2) is a grant by Maurice son of Robert de Toteham of land in Little Totham, which appears to belong to the latter part of the twelfth century. The priory was certainly in existence some time before 1218; when the church of Tolleshunt Tregoz, which had been granted to the canons by Geoffrey de Tregoz and confirmed (fn. 2) by William his son, was appropriated to it by William, bishop of London, and a vicarage endowed. Several other small grants of property are preserved. (fn. 2)
The Taxation of 1291 mentions possessions of the priory amounting to £5 2s. 1d. yearly. Of this £1 5s. 0d. came from Tolleshunt Tregoz, £1 from Stanway, 18s. 6d. from Fairstead, 18s. from Witham, and the rest from Maldon, Tolleshunt Knights, Great Totham, Tolleshunt Mauger, Tollesbury, Little Birch, Sturmer, Great Braxted, Colchester and Goldhanger.
The prior and convent had licence (fn. 3) in 1281, in consideration of their poverty, to enclose 60 acres of land in the forest. The only grant recorded afterwards is the considerable one by Ranulph de Monte Caniso and Albreda his wife of a messuage, 149 acres of land and 4 acres of wood in Great Braxted in 1302. (fn. 4)
In September, 1389, Prior Thomas complained to the king of having been ejected 'by the legs' from the priory by John de Boys, the patron; and obtained a grant of protection for two years. (fn. 5) The letters patent mention the interesting fact, of which nothing further is known, that the prior held of the king by the service of carrying on the day of the coronation the irons wherein the king's wafers were made and assaying them before him. It will be remembered that the wafers were made by the lord of the manor of Liston in Essex. A month later, however, this protection was revoked (fn. 6) at the instance of the bishop, who asserted that the prior had obtained it by false hood and craft to prevent him from exercising his jurisdiction over the house.
A later prior complained that John de Boys and others had long unjustly deprived the priory of rents, tithes, etc., and made petition for restitution to the executors of John and Margaret his wife. (fn. 7)
Another case of assault is recorded in 1411. Prior John Leghes brought an action in the King's Bench against Elming Leget, esquire, and Alice his wife and others, for having on 12 February taken him and imprisoned him at Great Braxted, and carried him from thence to Black Notley and imprisoned him there. Elming and Alice pleaded that he was a bondman belonging to their manor of Chatham (in Great Waltham); but the prior proved that he was a freeman, and obtained 60s. damages. (fn. 8)
On the resignation of Prior Barlow in 1515, a dispute arose between the bishop and Anthony Darcy, the patron of the priory, as to the appointment of a prior. Darcy affirmed that the priory had been founded by the lord of Tolleshunt Tregoz, which now belonged to him, and that the lords had been wont to appoint in all times of a vacancy, and without further process by the ordinary such nominee entered into the priory; while the bishop affirmed that he and his predecessors were entitled to make provision, on a vacancy occurring, from the lack of electors, there being in the priory only one canon besides the prior. The matter was referred to the arbitration of Doctor Walter Stone and Richard Broke, serjeant-at-law; who decided on 31 January, 1516, that Darcy and his successors in the lordship should present to the priory at every vacancy, and that the bishop and his successors should immediately institute the person so presented; but out of respect for the bishop Darcy consented to his presenting to the next two vacancies. This award was approved by the parties and sealed on 20 February, 1516. (fn. 9)
A dispute between Prior Roger and Anthony Darcy about right of common at Tiptree is recorded. (fn. 10)
Tiptree was the smallest of the Essex priories suppressed by Wolsey; its temporalities being valued (fn. 11) only at £18 16s. 4d. and its spiritualities at £4 yearly. It was dissolved (fn. 12) by John Alen on 3 February, 1525; and by an inquisition (fn. 13) taken on 8 August it was found that it owned the manor of Tiptree and the churches of Tiptree and Tolleshunt, and that there were at it at the time of the suppression a prior and one other canon, who were transferred to other places.
Priors of Tiptree
Benedict, (fn. 16) occurs 1244.
Walter, (fn. 17) occurs circa 1260.
Robert, (fn. 17) occurs 1309.
John, (fn. 17) occurs 1355.
. . . . de Wyndesore, (fn. 17) occurs 1358.
John Gosse, elected 1391. (fn. 20)
Henry Hey, resigned 1396. (fn. 21)
Stephen Charlewode, resigned 1430. (fn. 24)
Richard Tanner, elected 1430. (fn. 25)
John Felix, died 1440. (fn. 26)
Thomas Walde, collated 1441. (fn. 29)
Robert Willy, resigned 1461. (fn. 30)
Richard Mulcent, collated 1461. (fn. 30)
John Cradock, resigned 1509. (fn. 31)