Alien houses: The priory of Newent

Pages 105-106

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

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About 1060 William FitzOsborn founded the Benedictine monastery of Cormeilles in Normandy, (fn. 1) and before the compilation of Domesday Book he added largely to the endowment out of his possessions in England. These included the manor of Newent of five hides, the church and all tithes and offerings, with the woods of Yarcledon, Tedeswood, Compton, Lind, Oakley, Melswick, Ongley, and all the assarts that belonged to Newent, Stanling, and Boulsdon with the chapel, the church of Taynton with the chapel of Pauntley, the church of Dymock, the tithe of his demesne, and one virgate; the vill of Kingston with appurtenances in West Kingston, the tithe of his demesne and a virgate, the churches of Maurdine, Kingsland, Martley, Suckley, Beckford, Lidiart, with tithes of his demesne, and a virgate in each place, and rents in Monmouth. (fn. 2) A cell to Cormeilles was established at Newent. The prior acted merely as the bailiff of the abbot and convent of Cormeilles, and transmitted the revenues and profits of the lands and churches to the mother house. (fn. 3) There is no evidence in the registers of the bishops of Hereford to show that they exercised any control over the bailiff, (fn. 4) or that they committed the custody of Newent to him by any formal act. On account of the possession of the churches of Kingsland, Dymock, and Newent with the chapel of Pauntley, in 1195 the bishop and chapter of Hereford made the abbot of Cormeilles a canon, assigned him a prebendal stall, and gave him a place in the chapter. He was bound to appoint a suitable vicar to make perpetual residence in his absence. (fn. 5)

In 1247 the abbot and convent of Cormeilles let the church of Beckford with the chapel of Aston at a rent of sixty marks to the prior and convent of St. Barbe-en-Auge, who possessed a cell at Beckford. (fn. 6) The arrangement was recognized by Walter Cantilupe, bishop of Worcester, in 1248. (fn. 7) Another agreement to the same effect was concluded in 1267. (fn. 8) How long it lasted is uncertain; in 1339 the prior of Beckford still paid procuration to the bishop for the parish church. (fn. 9) In 1373 it was declared that the crown had recently recovered the presentation to the church of Beckford which the abbot and convent of Cormeilles had held as appropriated to the cell of Newent. (fn. 10) However, in consideration of the cause of the recovery, which is not stated, Edward III granted it back to the abbot and convent. (fn. 11) It was not again leased to the prior of Beckford. (fn. 12)

In 1226 Henry III granted the right of holding a yearly fair in the manor of Newent; (fn. 13) in 1253 he confirmed the fair and added a weekly market. (fn. 14) On more than one occasion disputes arose with the escheators, who attempted to enter upon the possessions of the priory on the death either of the abbot of Cormeilles or of his bailiff the prior of Newent. (fn. 15) In 1320 a search was made among the records of the exchequer as far back as Richard I, and it was discovered that the crown had never had the custody of Newent Priory during such voidances. At the same time it was expressly stated that the bailiff was appointed by the abbot and removable at his pleasure.

During the wars with France Newent was seized like other alien priories. In 1305 Edward I allowed the prior to have the custody by paying £120 a year into the exchequer. (fn. 16) It is not clear whether Edward III pursued the same course. In 1345 he granted the custody to Thomas de Bradeston for £130 a year, (fn. 17) but it is possible that it was a temporary measure, perhaps taken immediately on the death of a bailiff. In 1382, when the alien priories were again in the hands of the crown, the abbot and convent of Cormeilles granted their manor of Newent called 'priorie' to Sir John Devereux for his life, with remainder to his son, wife, and daughter. (fn. 18) Richard II allowed the grant on condition that during war with France the rent of £126 13s. 4d. should be paid to the exchequer, and that due provision should be made for divine service and other charges. (fn. 19) In 1399 Henry IV committed the custody of the manors of Newent and Kingston and the temporalities of the priory in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire to Sir John Cheyne for a ferm of £54, and £20 to be paid for the support of the prior and other charges, while the war with France lasted. (fn. 20) In 1400 Henry IV restored some of the alien priories, but Newent was not among them. On 11 February, 1401, he granted to Sir John Cheyne and a clerk, by name Thomas Horeton, the issues, rents, and profits pertaining to the rectories of Newent, Beckford, and Dymock for 150 marks a year. (fn. 21) In 1411 he granted all the possessions of the priory of Newent to his new foundation of the collegiate church of Fotheringhay. (fn. 22)

Priors of Newent

William de Hakeville, occurs 1243 (fn. 23)

Simon de Goupillariis, occurs 1290 (fn. 24) and 1298 (fn. 25)

John Fabri, occurs 1374 (fn. 26)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 1048.
  • 2. MS. Add. 18461 (B.M.) fol. 1 v.; cf. Dugdale, op. cit. vii, 1076.
  • 3. MS. Add. 18461, passim.
  • 4. In 1289 the prior supplied Bishop Swinfield with hay, litter, and brushwood when he came to Newent on 20 December, but his act was gratuitous; cf. Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield (Camd. Soc.), ii, cxvi.
  • 5. Ibid. fol. 8 v., 9.
  • 6. Ibid. fol. 19.
  • 7. Ibid. fol. 22 v.
  • 8. Ibid. 17 v.
  • 9. Worc. Epis. Reg. Bransford, fol. 15 d.
  • 10. Pat. 47 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 29.
  • 11. Ibid.
  • 12. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 308.
  • 13. Close R. 10 Hen. III, m. 8.
  • 14. Cart R. 37 Hen. III, m. 10.
  • 15. Cal. of Pat. 14 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 8.
  • 16. MS. Add. 18461, fol. 92.
  • 17. Cal. of Pat. 19 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 31. In 1344 he was recognized as the abbot's proctor; Cal. of Pat. 18 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 3.
  • 18. Ibid. 5 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 9.
  • 19. Ibid.
  • 20. Ibid. 1 Hen. IV, pt. v, m. 4.
  • 21. Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 31.
  • 22. Tanner, Notitia Monastica, ed. 1744, p. 379.
  • 23. MS. Add. 18461, fol. 29 v.
  • 24. Household Roll of Bishop Swinfield (Camd. Soc.), II, p. cxxxvii.
  • 25. Add. MS. 18461, fol. 33.
  • 26. Worc. Reg. Sede Vac. (Worc. Hist. Soc.), 308.