Houses of Cistercian nuns: The priory of Greenfield

Pages 155-156

A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.

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The priory of Greenfield must have been founded before the year 1153 by Eudo of Grainsby and Ralf of Aby, his son: Ranulf earl of Chester was also a benefactor of the house. (fn. 1) It has very little history. A number of small and unimportant suits and charters have preserved for us the names of several prioresses, without giving us very much idea of the fortunes of the house. There are also a few notices relating to the priory in the episcopal registers. In 1298 a nun from Nuncotham was sent here to do penance. It appears that she was of a quarrelsome disposition, for Bishop Sutton ordered that as long as she should continue incorrigible she should be kept in solitary confinement, ' until according to the discipline of the order she should know how to live in community.' (fn. 2) Four years earlier the bishop had visited the priory and given the prioress an opportunity of resigning if she would, to avoid the disgrace of deprivation. (fn. 3) Her successor was not much more satisfactory, for in 1303 Bishop Dalderby heard that she had been absent from her house for two years, and that it was in danger of serious loss. (fn. 4) She probably resigned in consequence of the visitation which followed. (fn. 5) In 1312 the nuns received a remission of tithes from the same bishop in consideration of their poverty. (fn. 6) No other visitation is recorded until that of Bishop Atwater in 1519. There was very little at this time to complain of: one nun was accused of being disobedient to her superiors, and the prioress did not invite all the sisters to her table in due order. (fn. 7)

The priory was dissolved in 1536, before Michaelmas. Its income was at this time small, but the ten nuns who lived there on £63 a year were better off than their sisters at Nuncotham, Legbourne, or Fosse. The prioress received a pension of £10 a year, the rest were paid off as usual with 20s. apiece. (fn. 8)

The endowment included the demesne land with the churches of Aby, Cumberworth, and Beesby. (fn. 9) Greenfield church belonged to the priory in the time of Hugh of Wells. (fn. 10) In 1291 the prioress was not taxed for any temporalities. In 1428 she held fractions of a knight's fee in Aby and East Rasen. (fn. 11) In 1534 the nuns had an income of £63 4s. 1d. clear. (fn. 12) The Ministers' Accounts of 1536 give a total of £62 6s. 4d., including the manors of East Rasen and Moorby, Coningsby and Wilksby. (fn. 13) The bells, lead, &c., of the monastery were worth £135 8s. (fn. 14)

Prioresses Of Greenfield

Agnes, (fn. 15) occurs 1230

Mabel, (fn. 16) occurs 1237 and 1240

Maud, (fn. 17) occurs 1260

Joan Hey worth, (fn. 18) elected 1274

Christine, (fn. 19) resigned 1293

Elizabeth or Isabel of Harrington, (fn. 20) elected 1293, resigned 1301

Cecily de Parys, (fn. 21) elected 1301, resigned 1305

Agnes of Langholm, (fn. 22) elected 1305, resigned 1313

Ivetta of Ormsby, (fn. 23) elected 1313, occurs till 1327

Margaret of Wells, (fn. 24) elected 1330, occurs to 1349

Isabel, (fn. 25) occurs 1371

Joan, (fn. 26) occurs 1398

Margaret, (fn. 27) occurs 1401 and 1418

Joan, (fn. 28) occurs 1436

Elizabeth, (fn. 29) occurs 1485

Joan Skypwith, (fn. 30) occurs 1509, died 1518

Elizabeth Billesby, (fn. 31) elected 1518, died 1521

Isabel Smyth, (fn. 32) elected 1521, died 1530

Agnes or Anne Guderyk, (fn. 33) last prioress, elected 1530

The pointed oval seal (fn. 34) shows the Virgin, seated, with crown and nimbus, the Child, also with nimbus, on the right knee, her left hand lifted up.



  • 1. The death of Ranulf earl of Chester in 1153 limits the date of foundation by this year. Dugdale, Mon. v, 579.
  • 2. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 207.
  • 3. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Sutton, 81 d.
  • 4. Ibid. Memo. Dalderby, 56 d.
  • 5. See list of prioresses.
  • 6. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Dalderby, 220.
  • 7. Visitations of Atwater (Alnwick Tower), fol. 52.
  • 8. Mins. Accts. 27-28 Hen. VIII, No. 166.
  • 9. The priory had a pension in the moiety of Beesby church (Linc. Epis. Reg. Rolls of Wells).
  • 10. Gibbons, Liber Antiquus, 51.
  • 11. Feud. Aids, iii, 257, 267.
  • 12. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 53.
  • 13. Mins. Accts. (27-28 Hen. VIII), No. 91.
  • 14. Ibid. No. 166.
  • 15. Pat. 14 Hen. III, m. 7 d.
  • 16. Dugdale, Mon. v, 5 79. The names in Dugdale's list are mostly from Harleian charters, and probably quite correct. Two names, Sara and Alice, cannot be dated. Boyd and Massingberd, Abstracts of Final Concords, ii, 320.
  • 17. Dugdale, Mon. v, 579.
  • 18. Linc. Epis. Reg. Rolls of Gravesend.
  • 19. Ibid. Memo. Sutton, 81 d.
  • 20. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Button, 19 d.
  • 21. Ibid. Inst. Dalderby, 3.
  • 22. Ibid. 13 s.
  • 23. Ibid. and Dugdale, Mon. v, 579.
  • 24. Ibid. Memo. Burghersh, 217; Harl. Chart. 44 E, 7, 8. The episcopal registers record a vacancy in 1349; Margaret probably died of the pestilence.
  • 25. Harl. Chart. 44 E, 9.
  • 26. Ibid. 10.
  • 27. Dugdale, Mon. v, 579.
  • 28. Ibid.
  • 29. Ibid.
  • 30. Ibid. and Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Atwater, 9.
  • 31. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Atwater, 9.
  • 32. Ibid. Inst. Longlands, 2 d.
  • 33. Ibid. 28, where she is called Agnes; but in the pension list the name is Anne.
  • 34. Harl. Chart. 44 D, .59.