Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Markby

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

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, 'Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Markby', in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 174-176. British History Online [accessed 20 May 2024].

. "Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Markby", in A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906) 174-176. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024,

. "Houses of Austin canons: The priory of Markby", A History of the County of Lincoln: Volume 2, (London, 1906). 174-176. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024,

In this section


There is little doubt that the priory of St. Peter at Markby was founded during the reign of Henry II, though there is no mention of it earlier than 1204, (fn. 1) for the founder, Ralf FitzGilbert, was by that time long since dead, and his lands were in the possession of his grandson Hugh. (fn. 2) Another early benefactor of the house was Alan of Mumby, who granted to the canons the churches of Mumby, Linc., and of Wycliffe, Yorks. Both of these advowsons were claimed at the beginning of the thirteenth century by the descendants of Alan, but the case was given each time for the prior. (fn. 3) In 1266 the prior complained that he had been disseised of his right of common pasture in Strubby. (fn. 4) In 1300 a writ of oyer and terminer was issued at the request of the prior, who alleged that certain persons had come to the monastery, besieged him and his men there, prevented food from being brought to them, and beaten such of his servants as they could find outside the gates; they had even dared to resist the king's ministers, who came to preserve the peace. (fn. 5) Neither the cause of this affair nor its termination are recorded.

In the fifteenth century there were about ten canons here, in 1534 there were eight besides the prior. (fn. 6) The house was dissolved under the first Act of Suppression. The prior received the rectory of Huttoft in commutation of a pension of £20, (fn. 7) his five brethren 20s. each, besides arrears of 'wages.' (fn. 8)

A quarrel between the prior and the cellarer in the earlier half of the fourteenth century led to an appeal to the pope. The cellarer had been accused by certain seculars of wasting his time in hunting, and of wandering from the monastery without leave, and was in consequence deprived of his office. He purged himself, however, of these charges before his diocesan, and then visited Rome, and was made a papal chaplain. On his return the prior refused him admittance, and told him he might provide for himself. On appeal the pope ordered that if all this was true the cellarer was to be reinstated, and given an allowance twice as large as he had before. (fn. 9) The great pestilence settled the dispute by the death of the prior in the same year.

The visitation of Bishop Alnwick in 1438 (fn. 10) shows this priory to have been in a worse condi tion than any other in the county. The bishop prefaced his injunctions by saying that he had heard of many excesses here, both in religion and in the observation of rule, and in administration; and when he came he had found his worst expectations fulfilled, 'not even the shadow of religion,' he said, but debts, drinking, and suspicion of even worse sins.

The prior allowed that his house was 100 marks in debt, and that silence was badly kept throughout the monastery, even in the church and cloister; that neither senior nor junior canons practised contemplation, and that one Thomas Dugby was suspected of sinful intercourse with a woman at Markby. The sub-prior also allowed that religion was not kept, and seconded the complaints of the prior; on the other hand, all the canons joined in complaining of the incompetence of the prior, and negligence of the sub-prior. It was generally allowed that the canons went out without leave, and ate and drank in the town; one indeed went to his mother's house every day, and was almost the same as an apostate. Two went constantly to taverns, and one of them showed much vindictiveness of temper; he had a boy often about with him, especially at night. (fn. 11) Other seculars were admitted to the dormitory, and much too freely to all parts of the house.

Thomas Dugby confessed the sin of incontinence charged against him, and was put to penance. (fn. 12) The prior thought it best to resign, and the bishop issued injunctions for the better administration of the revenues of the house, as well as the keeping of the rule.

The prior of Markby was appointed a visitor of the order early in the sixteenth century. (fn. 13) In 1519 Bishop Atwater visited and found some irregularities, but no grave faults. Accounts were not well kept, the canons were careless about their silence and about the customs of the refectory, the sick were not well provided for, and one brother was not only unlearned but unwilling to learn. The bishop ordered a due rendering of accounts, and renewed devotion to the rule of the order. (fn. 14)

The original endowment of the priory cannot be accurately stated, as the foundation charters are missing. The temporalities of the priory in 1291 amounted to £41 19s. 5d., (fn. 15) with pensions in certain churches. Mumby and Wycliffe, Yorks., belonged to the prior and convent at the beginning of the thirteenth century, (fn. 16) as well as those which appear in the Valor Ecclesiasticus. In 1428 the prior held part of a knight's fee in Maidenwell. (fn. 17) In 1534 the clear value of the priory was £130 13s. 0½d. (fn. 18) The Ministers' Accounts amount to £202 1s. 2½d., including the rectories of Huttoft, Bilsby, Stickford, Great Carlton, Markby, and West Wykeham; and the manors of Huttoft and Ludford. (fn. 19)

Priors of Markby

Eudo, (fn. 20) resigned 1228

Geoffrey of Holm, (fn. 21) elected 1228, resigned 1232

Alan, (fn. 22) elected 1232

John of Hedon, (fn. 23) elected 1247

Roger of Walmesgrave, (fn. 24) elected 1261, resigned 1272

Simon of Ottringham, (fn. 25) elected 1272, died 1290

Roger of Braytoft, (fn. 26) elected 1290, died 1306

William of Laughton, (fn. 27) elected 1306

Thomas, (fn. 28) occurs 1342

John Edlington, (fn. 29) died 1349

Richard of Leek, (fn. 30) elected 1349, occurs 1351

Peter of Scotton, (fn. 31) elected 1372

John Fenton, (fn. 32) elected 1433, resigned 1438

Henry Wells, (fn. 33) died 1508

Henry Alford, (fn. 34) elected 1508

Thomas Kirkby, (fn. 35) occurs 1522

John Penketh, (fn. 36) last prior, occurs 1529

The twelfth-century pointed oval seal (fn. 37) represents St. Peter, seated on a throne, lifting up the right hand in benediction, in the left hand two keys. The dress bordered with pearls.

The legend is wanting.

A pointed oval seal of a thirteenth-century prior (fn. 38) represents the prior full-length, in the right hand an indistinct object, in the left hand a book.

. . . RIOR . . . . . E: M . . .

Another pointed oval seal of a prior of the fourteenth century (fn. 39) represents the Virgin, with nimbus, seated in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides; the Child, with nimbus, standing on the left knee. In base a shield of arms—three birds, two and one.



  • 1. Madox Hist. of Exch. 605.
  • 2. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 46.
  • 3. Bracton's Note-book, cases 409 and 1418. It was proved that Alan had not presented to either church, but they were appurtenant to manors of which he had seisin. This was in 1220 and 1230. In 1334, however, the church of Mumby was granted to the bishops of Lincoln (Abbrev. Rot. Orig. ii, 81, and Pat. 7 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 23), and in 1263 that of Wycliffe quitclaimed to Robert of Wycliffe. Feet of F. (Div. Cos.), 47 Henry III, n. 15.
  • 4. Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 155.
  • 5. Pat. 28 Edw. I, m. 2d.
  • 6. L. and P. Henry VIII, vii, 1121 (24).
  • 7. Ibid. xii (1), 575.
  • 8. Mins. Accts. 27-28 Henry VIII, 166.
  • 9. Cal. of Pap. Letters, iii, 336.
  • 10. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), fol. 84, 90.
  • 11. Painful as such cases are to record, it is only right that they should be mentioned, in view of indiscriminate charges that have sometimes been made. In a careful study of the visitations of four counties— Lincoln, Leicester, Buckingham, and Bedford—only three such cases come to light: here, at Thornton Abbey, and at Missenden Abbey, Bucks. Here, further, the charge was not proved; the offender was warned, but not put to penance.
  • 12. To fast on bread, beer, and one vegetable for three months, and to say certain psalms for a longer period. Ibid.
  • 13. Cott. MS. Vesp. D. i, fol. 66 d. Another prior had been visitor in 1353 (Ibid, 56d.).
  • 14. Visitations of Atwater (Alnwick Tower), fol. 50.
  • 15. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 69.
  • 16. Mumby was exchanged for Great Carlton in 1334 (Pat. 7 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 23); Wycliffe quitclaimed to Roger of Wycliffe in 1263 (Feet of F. [Div. Co.], 47 Henry III, n. 15).
  • 17. Feud. Aids, iii, 300.
  • 18. Valor Eccles. (Rec. Com.), iv, 50.
  • 19. Mins. Accts. 27-28 Hen. VIII, No. 91. Certain benefactions in money, beans, and corn to the poor of Bilsby, Stickford, and Huttoft were still regularly paid in 1534 (Valor Eccles. [Rec. Com.], iv, 50).
  • 20. Linc. Epis. Reg. Rolls of Wells.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Ibid.
  • 23. Ibid. Rolls of Grosteste.
  • 24. Ibid. Rolls of Gravesend.
  • 25. Ibid.
  • 26. Ibid. Inst. Sutton, 4.
  • 27. Ibid. Inst. Dalderby, 19.
  • 28. Pat. 16 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 14 d.
  • 29. Cal of Pap. Letters, iii, 336.
  • 30. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Gynwell, 18.
  • 31. Ibid. Inst. Bokyngham, 68,
  • 32. Visitations of Alnwick (Alnwick Tower), 84. He gave an account of his administration since 1433.
  • 33. Linc. Epis. Reg. Inst. Smith, 117.
  • 34. Ibid.
  • 35. Linc. N. and Q. v, 36.
  • 36. L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (3), p. 2698.
  • 37. Harl. Chart, 44, G 5.
  • 38. Ibid. 7.
  • 39. Ibid.