A History of the County of Essex: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.
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31. THE GREY FRIARS OF COLCHESTER
The province of England, where the Grey Friars (fn. 1) first settled about 1224, was divided by them into seven wardenships, that of Cambridge including Colchester and eight other houses. The origin of this friary is unknown, but it was in existence before 25 January, 1279, when Edward I granted licence (fn. 2) for the friars to make an underground conduit through his demesne lands and meadows and the town wall from a well granted to them by Nicholas de la Warde without the town to their site, provided that they fill up the lands and repair the wall at their own cost. The same king on 11 May, 1293, granted (fn. 3) to them a plot of land adjoining their plot on the west at a rent of 12d. yearly to be paid by Robert FitzWalter and his heirs; the friars endeavoured to obtain another grant of land from the king in 1285, but upon inquisition being held it was found that the land adjoined the castle on one side, being only 100 yards from the moat, and the town wall on the other, and that in time of war it would be dangerous to have this land enclosed, as it was an important point of defence. (fn. 4) Edward II on 10 May, 1309, granted (fn. 5) that they should hold a piece of land in Colchester quit of a yearly rent of 2s. 3d. at the Exchequer, John Boteturte having charged the payment of that sum upon his manor of Gosfield.
Robert Fitzwalter had licence (fn. 6) on 10 December, 1309, to grant to them half an acre of land in Colchester; and it was probably on this that, according to the Dunmow Chronicle, he built their church, the foundations of which he laid in the same year. Weever says (fn. 7) that he became a friar here in 1325, the year of his death.
The friars had licence (fn. 8) on 28 June, 1338, to acquire from John Caproun a plot of land for the enlargement of their dwelling place, the abbot of St. John's remitting a rent of 3s. therefrom, and John Caproun granting him 3s. rent in North Street in exchange; on 6 April, 1348, to acquire from John le Porcherde a rood of land for the enlargement of their dwelling place; (fn. 9) and on 15 June, 1423, to acquire from John Podde 8½ acres of land in Colchester containing the lode and pipe of the underground conduit which formed their sole water supply. (fn. 10)
It was testified in 1380 that Sir John Gernon and Margaret his wife were buried in the friary church on the north side of the choir. (fn. 11)
Nicholas Fakenham, who in 1395 had been twenty-eighth provincial minister of the order, died and was buried (fn. 12) at Colchester in 1407.
Edward IV on 18 March, 1469, granted (fn. 13) to Robert Wotton, guardian, and the friars fiftytwo cartloads of underwood yearly in the forest of Kingswood for their fuel, that they should keep the obits of himself and his queen and his father. Each cartload should be such as could be drawn by six horses or other beasts, and they were to have free entry into the forest to cut down and carry away the fuel.
The friary was received (fn. 14) to the king's use in 1538 by Richard, bishop of Dover. It is not mentioned in the Valor, but in an account (fn. 15) for the first year after the dissolution Francis Jobson, farmer, renders £2 10s. 8d. for the site of the house, the hall called 'le olde halle,' the house called 'le fermerye,' the chambers called ' Syr Thomas Tyrrells lodgynge,' the kitchen, the bakehouse, the brewhouse, two little gardens and four acres of land. On 8 July, 1544, the king granted (fn. 16) the premises to him and Elizabeth his wife, Andrew Dudley, Robert Hennage, Richard Duke, and his heirs.
Guardians of the Grey Friars of Colchester
John Reylegh (fn. 17) in 1419.
Walter Bradenham (fn. 18) in 1458 and 1464.
Robert Wotton (fn. 19) in 1469.
Thomas Lexden (fn. 20) in 1475.
John Tynemouth or Maynelyn (fn. 20) in 1493.
John Gurdon (fn. 20) in 1536.