A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1906.
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36. THE PRIORY OF TORKSEY
The priory of St. Leonard at Torksey was founded some time during the reign of Henry II and possibly by the king himself. (fn. 1) John de Balliol was patron of the house in the thirteenth century, (fn. 2) but in 1344 the advowson was granted by the king to John Darcy and his successors in tail male. (fn. 3)
The prior was accused in 1275 of having set up a court for himself at Torksey, to the prejudice of the king's court there; and appropriated to his house the assize of bread and ale, and enclosed more than 2 feet of the king's highway. (fn. 4) The priory was probably a small one, and had but few canons from the first. (fn. 5) They pleaded poverty in 1319, and were allowed to appropriate the church of St. Peter in consequence. (fn. 6) In 1323 the prior was accused of burning houses in Wold Newton and committing divers robberies and trespasses there; (fn. 7) and in 1342 his house was said to be 'greatly wasted by misrule'; (fn. 8) it was after an inquiry made at this time that the advowson was granted to John Darcy.
The prior signed the acknowledgement of supremacy in 1534 with five canons. At the dissolution (fn. 9) before Michaelmas, 1536, he received a pension of £5, and the canons the usual 20s. (fn. 10)
Except the notice of 'misrule' in 1342 nothing is known of the internal condition of the house (fn. 11) until 1440. In this year Bishop Alnwick held a visitation. No faults in morals were discovered, but it was complained that the prior 'began much building but finished nothing'; and the canons were not regular in attending choir. One brother, John Gowsell, though learned in the mason's craft, objected to having to superintend or assist in the repairs of the church and priory.
The bishop in his injunctions simply ordered that the brethren were not to eat or drink in Torksey unless they were serving its parish churches, and then only with respectable people. (fn. 12) In 1444, however, he deposed the prior for alienation of goods and mismanagement, which was bringing the house almost to ruin. (fn. 13)
In 1519 Bishop Atwater found everything in a satisfactory condition. The canons rose regularly to mattins, though at a somewhat late hour —six a.m.; they were not, however, able to sing any office except the 'Lady Mass' and vespers; all the other hours were said submissa voce, except on double feasts. (fn. 14) It was a very poor little house at this time, and had neither cloister nor dormitory: an order had been given in the general chapter of the previous year that these should be provided, (fn. 15) but it is uncertain whether this was ever carried out.
The endowment seems to have consisted of 498 acres of land in Torksey, with 500 tofts and the three churches of that vill, and also the church of North Restur of the gift of Stephen son of Herbert Chamberlain. (fn. 16) In 1291 the temporalities of the prior were taxed at £24 14s. 4d. (fn. 17) In 1534 the clear revenue of the house was only £13 1s. 4d. (fn. 18) The total in the Ministers' Accounts is £26 10s. 6d., including the churches of St. Mary and St. Peter Torksey. (fn. 19)
Priors of Torksey
John, (fn. 20) occurs 1234
Joel, (fn. 21) resigned 1290
William of Rasen, (fn. 22) elected 1290, resigned 1295
Geoffrey of Bekering, (fn. 23) elected 1295, deposed 1296
William of Rasen, (fn. 24) elected 1296, resigned 1316
Robert de Sandale, (fn. 25) elected 1316, occurs 1323
Henry of Thornborough, (fn. 26) resigned 1332
Henry of Buckingham, (fn. 27) elected 1332
Henry of Croyland, (fn. 28) resigned 1347
John Poignant, (fn. 29) elected 1347, occurs 1348
Robert of Willingham, (fn. 30) occurs 1353
Thomas Saxelby, (fn. 31) elected 1366, resigned 1374
John of St. Botho, (fn. 32) elected 1374
Roger Pacy, (fn. 33) resigned 1416
William Cottingham, (fn. 34) elected 1416, resigned 1417
Richard Ellay, (fn. 35) elected 1417, deposed 1444
Alan Dean, (fn. 36) resigned 1472
William Sutton, (fn. 37) elected 1472
Thomas Cawode, (fn. 38) elected 1486
John Coyell, (fn. 39) last prior, occurs 1534