House of Augustinan canonesses: The priory of St Mary Magdalen, Bristol

Page 93

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

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The priory of St. Mary Magdalen at Bristol was founded in or about 1173, and endowed with 'competent' possessions, by Eva, widow of Robert Fitzharding, who is said to have been the first prioress. (fn. 1) It was a house of canonesses of the order of St. Augustine, (fn. 2) and as such was subject to the visitation of the bishop of Worcester, which was regularly exercised. (fn. 3) The canonesses had the right of free election after obtaining a congé d'élire from the lords of Berkeley, (fn. 4) but on more than one occasion either they did not avail themselves of the right (fn. 5) or they neglected some formality, which gave the bishop the power to appoint. In 1421 he set aside their election as invalid, (fn. 6) but nominated the prioress of their choice. From the thirteenth century onwards the community was very poor, and on that account was exempt from payment of procurations to the bishop at his visitation, (fn. 7) and from taxation. (fn. 8) The priory came under the Act of 1536 for the suppression of the lesser monasteries. On 3 August a commission was issued for a survey of those monasteries in Bristol of which the revenues fell below £200 a year, with a view of taking them over on the king's behalf. (fn. 9) The commissioners reported that at the priory of St. Mary Magdalen there were two religious, 'by report of honest conversation whereof one professed being governor impotent and aged; the other a young novice desiring continuance in religion.' (fn. 10) They had two servants, a man and a laundress. The church and house were in good repair. The yearly value of the property was set down at £21 13s. 2d. The house was probably dissolved immediately afterwards. (fn. 11)

Prioresses of St. Mary Magdalen, Bristol

Eva, (fn. 12) ob. 1173

Agnes of Gloucester, (fn. 13) 1347

Matilda de Luttelton, 1349, (fn. 14) resigned 1356 (fn. 15)

Margery Long, 1363 (fn. 16)

Elizabeth Wodecroft, 1369, (fn. 17) occurs 1386 (fn. 18)

Alice Clayville, ob. 1421 (fn. 19)

Joan Waleys, 1421 (fn. 20)

Elizabeth Went, occurs 1499 (fn. 21)

Katherine Brown, occurs 1507, (fn. 22) ob. 1520 (fn. 23)

Eleanor Graunte, 1520 (fn. 24)


  • 1. Smyth, Lives of the Berkeleys; (ed. Maclean), i, 44; Dugdale, Mon. iv, 589.
  • 2. Worc. Epis. Reg. Morgan, fol. 6d.; Dublin Review, 1894, p. 275.
  • 3. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 234.
  • 4. Smyth, Lives of the Berkeleys (ed. Maclean), ii. 79. Worc. Epis. Reg. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 263.
  • 5. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 145.
  • 6. Ibid. Morgan, fol. 6 d.
  • 7. Ibid. Giffard (Worc. Hist. Soc.) 234; Sede Vac. Reg. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 120.
  • 8. Ibid. Clifford, fol. 70 d.
  • 9. Dublin Review, April, 1894, p. 250.
  • 10. Ibid. 275.
  • 11. L. and P. Hen. VIII. xi, 307.
  • 12. Dugdale, Mon. iv, 589.
  • 13. Ibid.
  • 14. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 145.
  • 15. Ibid. Brian, fol. 17.
  • 16. Ibid. Barnet, fol. 27.
  • 17. Ibid. Lynn, fol. 20 d.
  • 18. Cal. of Pat. 10 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 33.
  • 19. Worc. Epis. Reg. Morgan, fol. 6 d.
  • 20. Ibid. fol. 6 d.
  • 21. Birch, Orig. Doc. relating to Bristol, No. 143.
  • 22. Ibid. No. 106.
  • 23. Worc. Epis. Reg. Jerome Ghinucci, fol. 2.
  • 24. Ibid. fol. 2.