Friaries: Friars minors of Ware

Page 451

A History of the County of Hertford: Volume 4. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.

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The Franciscan priory of Ware owed its foundation to Thomas second Lord Wake of Liddell, who received the king's permission in February 1338 to give to the Friars Minors a messuage and 7 acres of land in Ware for an oratory, houses and other buildings. (fn. 1) In September 1350 the pope confirmed the acceptance of the site by the minister-provincial and Friars Minors in England. (fn. 2) Land for the enlargement of the priory was granted to the friars in 1372 by Blanche Lady Wake. (fn. 3) For their maintenance the community depended mainly on alms. They thus came into collision with the Franciscans of Cambridge, on whose complaint they were forbidden by the pope in August 1395 to extend their bounds for begging and preaching within 5 miles of any place, except Puckeridge, which before their house was founded had belonged to the district of the Cambridge friars. (fn. 4)

Henry IV, after the death and forfeiture of Thomas Holland Earl of Kent, allowed them the underwood of an acre of wood near Ware, two cartloads of hay from the meadows there, and the fishery of the water along the priory during such time as the late earl's property remained in his hands. (fn. 5)

They must have derived some advantage from burials in their church, (fn. 6) from legacies (fn. 7) and probably from obits, though only one is recorded, that of Thomas Hyde, established in 1525. (fn. 8) But the house must always have been small and poor, and its obscurity was perhaps the reason why Roger Donwe or Dewe, the ministerprovincial, removed for just causes in 1430, (fn. 9) was sent here to end his days. (fn. 10)

The royal supremacy was duly acknowledged by the convent in May 1534. (fn. 11) The warden seems to have been friendly with Lord Hussey in 1537, (fn. 12) but there is no evidence to connect him with the religious troubles. The surrender of the priory took place in the autumn of 1538. (fn. 13) Its lands, including the site, (fn. 14) were worth only 29s. 8d. a year.

Wardens Of The Friars Of Ware

Paul, occurs 3 October 1525 (fn. 15)

Thomas Chapman, S.T.B., occurs 5 May 1534 (fn. 16)

The contemporary seal (fn. 17) is a pointed oval. On the right kneels the founder, Lord Wake, in armour, with a shield of his arms; opposite to him is his wife, Blanche of Lancaster. The object of their adoration seems to be the Crucified. The field is powdered with stars; there is a little tree between the two worshippers and a larger one at each side. Below, under a four-centred arch, the warden is represented in prayer. Legend: s' GARDIANI (FRATRVM) MINORVM DE WARE.


  • 1. Cal. Pat. 1338-40, p. 14. Weever, Chauncy and others, confusing it with the alien priory, dated its foundation far too early (R. Waters, 'Priory of Ware,' East Herts. Arch. Soc. Trans. i [1], 41).
  • 2. Cal. of Papal Letters, iii, 394; Wadding, Annales Minorum, viii, 75.
  • 3. Pat. 46 Edw. III, pt. ii, m. 32.
  • 4. Cal. of Papal Letters, iv, 517.
  • 5. Cal. Pat. 1399-1401, p. 226. The Earl of Kent was the heir of the Wakes through his grandmother Joan, Princess of Wales. The friars probably enjoyed these privileges under the Wakes and Hollands.
  • 6. Weever (Antient Funeral Monum. 312) records two or three burials here.
  • 7. Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady Clare, bequeathed them 40s. in 1355 (Nichols, Royal Wills, 23, 33); and they are mentioned in other wills (Herts. Gen. and Antiq. i, 47, 316 [2], 318; ii, 91 [2], 238; iii, 274; P.C.C. 21, Bodfelde; 22, Porch).
  • 8. Add. Chart. 36070.
  • 9. Wadding, op. cit. x, 169.
  • 10. Monum. Francis. (Rolls Ser.), i, 539; Little, The Grey Friars in Oxford, 259.
  • 11. L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 665 (2).
  • 12. Ibid. xii (2), 2 (3); 157 (2).
  • 13. The Bishop of Rochester wrote to Cromwell 27 Sept. 1538 offering to bring about its surrender (ibid. xiii [2], 437), which was made, however, to the Bishop of Dover (ibid. 1021). It seems to have been in the king's hands about Michaelmas 1538 (Mins. Accts. Hen. VIII, no. 1617).
  • 14. Rented at 20s. (Mins. Accts. Hen. VIII, no. 1617).
  • 15. Add. Chart. 36070.
  • 16. L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 665 (2).
  • 17. B.M. Seals, lxiv, 73.