Houses of the Gilbertine order: The priory of North Ormsby or Nun Ormsby

Pages 195-196

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

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The Gilbertine priory of St. Mary, North Ormsby, was founded as a double house between 1148 and 1154 by Gilbert son of Robert of Ormsby, with the consent of his lord, William, earl of Albemarle. (fn. 1) He endowed it with the moieties of the churches of Ormsby and Utterby, and a third of his land in each township, the whole of his fee of Warlotes, and certain other lands. Robert, steward of William of Percy, gave to the nuns the churches of South Elkington and Little Grimsby, pasturage for sixty sheep, besides lands in Little Grimsby and Fotherby. (fn. 2) Ralph de Wihom gave all he had in the churches of Ormsby and Utterby. Hugh de Wildeker gave half, Roger de Clere a quarter, and William son of Amfrid de Hagh a quarter of the church of Fotherby. Hugh of Bayeux gave what he had in half the church of Grimoldby. (fn. 3) Before 1189 William de Vesci granted the hermitage of Spaldingholm in Yorkshire, and pasturage for 200 sheep and a fixed number of cattle between the Fuln and the Derwent. (fn. 4)

In view of this endowment the number of inmates was limited by St. Gilbert to 100 nuns and lay sisters and 50 canons and lay brothers. (fn. 5)

In 1254 the spiritualities of the house were assessed at £46 6s. 8d., and the temporalities at £100 8s. 7d. (fn. 6) It seems that the prior and convent did not afterwards acquire much more property; however, they possessed seven or eight granges, and had a profitable share in the wool-trade, selling on an average 8 sacks a year at the beginning of the fourteenth century. (fn. 7)

In 1303 the prior held three-quarters of one knight's fee in Ormsby, a quarter and onetenth of another, half, one-third, and one-eighth in Little Grimsby, and several fractions in Fotherby, Kelsey, Salmonby, Scrafield, Hameringham, and Elkington. (fn. 8)

After the Black Death the revenues of the house were greatly diminished. In 1352 and again in 1378 the prior and convent obtained a royal licence to appropriate the valuable church of Ludborough, (fn. 9) but for some reason they did not succeed. They were probably induced by lack of funds to seek an indulgence from Boniface IX in 1399 for the fabric and maintenance of the Lady Chapel. (fn. 10) It was perhaps in exchange for a gift of money and some other signal benefit that in 1464 the prior made a formal grant of the right of next presentation to the church of Welton to two merchants of that place. (fn. 11)

Shortly before the dissolution there were many manuscripts at North Ormsby, though but few printed books. (fn. 12)

In 1534 the prior subscribed to the king's supremacy. (fn. 13) The house was surrendered by the prior and five canons on 30 September, 1538, (fn. 14) and nine nuns were included with them in the pension list. (fn. 15) Four other canons held livings of the convent. (fn. 16)

In 1535 the net valuation of the whole property amounted to only £80 11s. 10d. (fn. 17) Out of this sum over £20 was derived from appropriated churches, viz. from North Ormesby, Utterby, Fotherby, South Elkington, Grimoldby. and Little Grimsby. All the granges, lands, and tenements were let, and the demesne farmed by the prior and convent was worth only £4 a year.

In the hands of the crown bailiff four years later the property brought in £126 3s. 9¾d., (fn. 18) and included the rents of granges at Utterby, Fotherby, Little Grimsby, Friskney, North Kelsey, and two at South Elkington, besides the rectories.

Priors of North Ormsby

Thomas, occurs 1164 (fn. 19) and 1174 (fn. 20)

Robert Pygot, occurs 1464 (fn. 21)

Thomas Tyesdale, occurs 1522 (fn. 22)

William Robinson, occurs 1533 (fn. 23)

Thomas Robinson, occurs 1535 (fn. 24)

Christopher Cartwright, occurs 1538 (fn. 25)

Prioress of North Ormsby

Joan Stokwith, occurs 1538 (fn. 26)

The common seal of the date 1272 is a pointed oval and represents the Virgin with a crown, seated on a carved throne, the Child on her left knee. (fn. 27)

On another of the fifteenth century the Virgin is seated in a canopied niche with tabernacle work at the sides.

The legend is—

SIGILLŪ . CPE . DOM . B . . . . MARIE . DE . N. . . . ORMSBY


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 963.
  • 2. Ibid.
  • 3. K.R. Memo, R. 186, inter Communia Recorda East. 10 Hen. IV, rot. 12.
  • 4. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 963.
  • 5. Ibid. xcvii, cap. vi.
  • 6. Cott. MS. Claud. D. xi, fol, 278 v.
  • 7. W. Cunningham, Growth of Engl. Industry and Commerce (ed. 1905), i, 635, at prices varying from 19 to 10 marks a sack according to the quality.
  • 8. Feud. Aids, iii, passim.
  • 9. Cal. Pat. 2 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 36.
  • 10. Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 10 Boniface IX.
  • 11. Entered in Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Rotherham, fol. 12.
  • 12. Add. MS. 6413, fol. 5.
  • 13. Browne Willis, Mitred Abbeys, ii, 121.
  • 14. Dep. Keeper's Rep. viii, App. ii, 36.
  • 15. Aug. Off. Misc. Bks. 233, fol. 91 b.
  • 16. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 62, 63.
  • 17. Ibid. 59.
  • 18. Dugdale, Mon. vii, 964.
  • 19. Stowe MS. 937, fol. 146 v.
  • 20. Misc. Laud MS. (Bodl. Lib.), 642, fol. 130 v.
  • 21. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. Rotherham, fol. 12.
  • 22. L. and P. Hen. VIII. xiv, (1), 105b, No. 55 (1.)
  • 23. Ibid. No. 55 (2).
  • 24. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 59.
  • 25. Dep. Keeper's Rep. viii, App. ii, 36.
  • 26. Aug. Off. Misc. Bks. 233, fol. 91b; cf. also Deeds of Surrender, No. 185.
  • 27. B. M. Seals, lxvii, 24.