Colleges: Fotheringhay

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

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, 'Colleges: Fotheringhay', in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) pp. 170-177. British History Online [accessed 21 May 2024].

. "Colleges: Fotheringhay", in A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906) 170-177. British History Online, accessed May 21, 2024,

. "Colleges: Fotheringhay", A History of the County of Northampton: Volume 2, (London, 1906). 170-177. British History Online. Web. 21 May 2024,

In this section


Simon de St. Liz, the second earl of Northampton, founded a Cluniac nunnery at Fotheringhay, but in Stephen's reign it was removed to Delapré on the south side of Northampton. The church of Fotheringhay remained appropriated to the abbey of Delapré until the beginning of the fifteenth century; the last appointment of a vicar by the Delapré convent occurred in 1388.

Edmund of Langley, duke of York, was the first to form the idea of a grand collegiate church at Fotheringhay, and, in the lifetime of his father, built a large and magnificent quire at the east end of the old parish church. (fn. 1) He did not live to accomplish his intention; but, after his death in 1402, his eldest son (by Isabel of Castile), Edward of York, desired to carry out his father's wishes, and to rebuild the body of the church on a like plan with the quire. For this purpose he appointed trustees, the first two of which were the cardinal bishops of Winchester and Durham. The college was founded in 1411, 6 acres of land between the castle and the rectory house being allotted for the purpose. This was the site on which the Cluniac nunnery had formerly stood. Edward, however, fell in the vanguard of the fight at Agincourt in 1415. Neither college nor church was yet finished, but his body was brought to Fotheringhay and interred in the church on 1 December. His will is reproduced in the Lincoln registers; he left his body to be buried in his college of Fotheringhay, in the midst of the quire under a flat piece of marble at the quire steps. (fn. 2)

This royal college consisted of a master, twelve chaplains or fellows, eight clerks, and thirteen choristers, and was dedicated in honour of the Blessed Virgin and All Saints. The chief duty of the members of the college was to pray for the good estate and for the souls of the king and queen, the Prince of Wales, the duke of York, and all the royal family, as well as for all faithful souls. It was indeed a great chantry, on dignified lines, with a specially-ordered common life for the chantry priests. The endowment charter of Henry IV. granted the college a yearly charge of £67 6s. 8d. from the manors of Newent, Gloucester, and Kingston, Hertford, belonging to the alien priory of Newent, which was a cell of the abbey of Cormeilles, as well as all the possessions, spiritual and temporal, and all manorial rights that had pertained to that priory and to the alien priory of Avebury, Wiltshire, a cell of St. George Bocherville. (fn. 3)

A saving clause as to these two alien priories was inserted in the Act passed at Leicester in April, 1414. In the same year the convent of Delapré gave up to the college the church of Fotheringhay in return for a small pension. (fn. 4)

In the following year (5 August, 1415) the duke of York obtained letters patent for the further endowment of the college, assigning to it the manors of 'Fasterne,' Old Wootton, Tockenham, Chelworth, Winterbourne, Compton-Bassett, and Sevenhampton, the advowson of the church of Tockenham, the town of 'Wotton Burgus,' and the hundreds of Highworth and Cricklade in Wiltshire; the manor of Dognton, Gloucestershire; the manor of Anstey in Hertfordshire, and the advowson of the church; the manors of Nassington and Yarwell; and the castle, manor, and town of Fotheringhay, in Northamptonshire; with the castle, town, and manor of Stamford, the town and soke of Grantham, in Lincolnshire; and the castle and manor of Conisbrough, 'Braiwell,' Clifton, Hatfield, Fishlake, and Thorne, in Yorkshire. (fn. 5)

Before the duke sailed for France he entered into an explicit indenture with William Harwod, freemason of Fotheringhay, by which the duke was to find stone, timber, scaffolding, lime, and everything necessary to the work, and to pay £300 at stated periods. The whole of this interesting indenture has been several times printed. (fn. 6) The duke's death at Agincourt (Leland tells us he was exceeding fat, and got smothered in the encounter) a few months later put a check on the work and on the organizing of the college; but his successor, Richard, duke of York, after some years, took the matter up and obtained in 1432 a yearly pension of 100s. towards completing the college. (fn. 7) In 1439 the college was granted powers to enclose 20 acres within the forest of Rockingham. (fn. 8)

Duke Richard fell in battle at Wakefield on 31 December, 1460, and was at first interred at Pontefract. Soon after his accession the attention of Edward IV. was directed to the still incomplete Yorkist foundation at Fotheringhay. In the first year of his reign he granted the college a new charter and refounded it, bestowing on it 100 acres of land, with divers liberties and privileges. (fn. 9)

In March, 1461-2, the king granted to Thomas Buxhale, the master, and the fellows of the king's college of Fotheringhay, a tun of red wine of Gascony yearly, in the port of London, at Christmastide, for the celebration of their daily masses, for ministering the holy sacrament at any time, and for their sustenance; at the same time he gave them 4 acres of land, with a limekiln, and a house at Woodnewton. (fn. 10)

In August of the same year there was granted to this same king's college the more substantial endowment of the alien priory and manor of Beckford, with its appurtenances in Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire; the lands of Ashton-onCarraunt, Gloucester, sometime parcel of the alien priory of 'Baylbek'; and the alien manors of Brixton and Charlton, Wiltshire, and Wilsford, Lincolnshire, with all appurtenances. (fn. 11)

In March, 1465, Edward granted to Thomas Buxhale (who is described as one of the king's chaplains as well as master of the college), and the fellows, the whole of the possessions, spiritual and temporal, of the alien priory of Charlton. (fn. 12) A year later the college received from Simon Norwyche the handsome endowment of 85 acres in the forest of Rockingham, for the alienation of which in mortmain the donor paid 10 marks. (fn. 13)

On 24 November, 1480, Edward IV. granted to William Field, the master, and the fellows of the college, quittance of all tenths, fifteenths, or other contributions or subsidies granted by the clergy of the realm of either province, or by the commons of the realm, or of any tallage on the king's demesne lands, or tenth, or other quota imposed by the pope. (fn. 14)

John Russell was the last master; in 1534, in conjunction with Thomas Birde, the precentor, and the rest of the fellows, he made formal submission to Henry VIII. as the head of the Church. His name also occurs in the Valor of the following year, when the considerable possessions of the college in the counties of Gloucester, Hunts, Lincoln, Middlesex, Northants, Rutland, Suffolk, Wilts, and Worcester, realized an annual value of £419 11s. 10¾d. (fn. 15)

A rubricated copy of the statutes exists among the Augmentation Office records; from the entries at the end of the volume this was clearly the official copy of the statutes drawn up in the time of Henry V. (fn. 16) The following is an abridgement or summary of their contents rendered in English:—

1. The first statute names Edward as the founder, and limits the number to a master, a precentor, eleven other chaplains, eight clerks, and thirteen choristers.

2. Every chaplain on admission to take an oath, in the presence of the master and precentor, of canonical obedience to the master, and to the lawful mandates of the precentor; to keep all the statutes and ordinances in their plain, literal, and grammatical sense; to show all loyalty to the college and its founders; to abstain from every form of detraction, strife, or quarrel; and if expelled through neglect of duty or other cause, not to molest or disturb anyone, etc.

3. Chaplains, clerks, and choristers to be chosen by the majority of the fellows when there is a vacancy. In the case of the boys, a candidate must not be more than nine if he only knows plain song, but if fully taught he must not be above twelve. A suitable chaplain to be chosen from the fellows by the precentor and three seniors, called the chantry chaplain, to instruct the choristers in grammar, receiving 12 marks as salary. Another fellow to be chosen in like manner to instruct in singing at a salary of 40s.

4. The master to have a salary of 20 marks, the precentor £10, each chaplain fellow 12 marks, each deacon clerk 10 marks, each subdeacon clerk 8 marks, and each chorister 4 marks.

5. The income to be spent, after payment of salaries, on the necessary maintenance, repair, and building of the college, and the balance to be kept in the common treasury, provided that a portion be distributed every year to Christ's poor, according to the wish and decision of the founder.

6. The master to be a man of good and honest conversation, well educated, and of approved manners and condition of life, discreet in spiritual and temporal matters, prudent and circumspect. Within twenty days of a vacancy occurring the fellows are to be summoned by the precentor to the chapter house, no licence being sought from founders or patrons, and after certain formalities the mass of the Holy Spirit is to be solemnly sung. If a unanimous election cannot be secured, three scrutineers are to be appointed, who shall vote secretly in writing, and if all or two agree on the same name, that one shall be elected; if there shall not be this majority, then the decision from the three names shall be left to the bishop of Lincoln or his vicar general. The master, on his election, shall swear implicit obedience to the statutes, and faithful rule and correction over the whole college.

7. The master to have full power of correcting, punishing, and castigating over all the persons of the college. In difficult negotiations he should consult the precentor and senior fellows. In his absence the college to be ruled by the precentor with the advice of the two senior fellows. For each outsider invited to the table of the fellows 3 pence to be paid out of the common stock, and if at the table of the choristers or servants 2 pence.

8. The precentor to have the rule over the fellows and choristers in quire and in the church, and to have power (with the consent of the master or, in his absence, of the senior fellow) to correct and punish for any fault during the divine offices, or for any error in singing or corrupt reading.

9. The master and precentor to sit at the chief table in hall, with the senior and more learned fellows, and not to exceed four dishes; the other fellows (and clerks) to sit at tables on each side of the hall; and the choristers and other boys and servants at a table in the centre. All to keep silence, and to listen to the reading of the Holy Scriptures.

10. The father, brother, near relative, or friend, of any of the fellows, clerks, and choristers, may dine in hall if they behave quietly and honestly, for two days and not more, save by special licence of the master, but at their own expense.

11. The master, fellows, clerks, and choristers, yearly at Christmastide, to have clothes of one and the same cut and colour at the common expense. The master and precentor to have 11 yards of cloth divided between them; each fellow and clerk to have 4 yards; each chorister under twelve years 2½ yards, and boys over twelve 3 yards. The cloth for the fellows and clerks not to exceed 26d. a yard, and that for the choristers not to exceed 22d.

12. If any of the fellows, clerks, choristers, or servants shall quarrel, they shall be called before the master and two senior fellows, and if peace cannot then be obtained, five other discreet fellows shall help to adjudicate, and if any one does not at once accept their decision he shall be expelled.

13. If the master should neglect his duties by absence or carelessness, or cause loss to the spiritualities or temporalities of the college, the precentor and majority of the fellows have power to call on him to resign, and if he refuse, to report him to the bishop, who has power to remove him.

14. Fellows, clerks, and choristers may, for legitimate cause, have leave of absence for a month in the year. Such leave not to be taken at Christmas, Easter, or Whitsuntide. Not more than two fellows, or two clerks, or two choristers to be absent at the same time.

15. The occupation of all the chambers of the college to be arranged by the precentor.

16. The church, hall, and all the buildings of the college, erected with so much labour at the cost of the founder, are to be maintained in good repair.

17. Bailiffs, proctors, farmers, wardens, and others, are to present annual balance-sheets at Michaelmas, to be examined by the master, precentor, and five selected fellows.

18. In the more important business of the college, such as benefices, farms, and manors, the master is to consult the fellows in the chapterhouse, and to abide by the decision of the majority.

19. Advowsons of churches, lands, tenements, rents, etc., are not to be alienated or sold.

20. Neither master, fellows, nor clerk shall be upholders of quarrels or other litigious business, and if they persist in such action they may be expelled.

21. The college to remain indebted in 500 marks to John Bokeland, whom Edward the founder made master, in which sum John was bound to the abbess and nuns of Delapré. (fn. 17)

22. The master, within a month after Michaelmas, before the precentor and six senior fellows, to present a balance-sheet of all receipts and payments, to be deposited in the treasury.

23. A summary of the financial statement to be indented, whereof one part to be kept by the precentor, and the other placed with the archives in the principal chest of the college.

24. The college to have four or five servants (not more) for serving in the pantry, buttery, kitchen, and other offices. One of them to be the barber, and also skilled in the repairs and mending of vestments, copes, and other ornaments of the church.

25. The master to have three horses, with hay and litter, and (blank) quarters of oats or pease for their sustenance.

26. The master and college to have a common seal and three common chests in a certain house called the treasury in the form of a tower, constructed over the church porch. In the treasury are to be kept the seal, vestments, jewels, money, and muniments of the college in safe custody. In the larger chest all the more precious vestments, chalices and censers, parcelgilt, and other ornaments which are not required for actual and daily use. The precentor and sacrist are to have two different keys of the door of the treasury, and two of the chest. The contents of the chest to be examined four times a year by the master and three times by the fellows, and all to be cleansed and repaired. Other chests to be kept in the porch of the church, to contain vestments, chalices, etc., in daily use; the keys to be kept by the sacristan. The second chest in the treasury to contain all registers, charters, muniments, and evidences, with three keys, one for the master, one for the precentor, and one for an appointed fellow. The common seal only to be used in the chapterhouse with the consent of the college. The third chest in the treasury to contain the common gold and silver of the college, together with the principal relics and jewels, and to have four keys in the respective custody of the master, precentor, and two appointed fellows. An indented inventory of the contents of the chest to be taken, one copy to be in the hands of a fellow who has not a key, and the other in the keeping of the precentor.

27. The statutes to be read in chapter of the whole college twice yearly, namely, on the morrows of the feasts of the Purification and of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.

28. One of the fellows to be chosen sacrist, and to have charge of all the valuables of the church, with a salary of two marks.

29. The books, ornaments, and vestments to be openly, visibly, and distinctly shown to the master and all the college at Ascensiontide, to see if any are torn or missing.

30. No book, ornament, jewel, or vestment of the college to be sold, pledged, or removed from the college, under any pretext whatsoever, save books requiring binding, or anything to be repaired.

31. Any member of the college guilty of heresy, theft, homicide, adultery, incest, or like notorious crimes to be expelled. If any one is a hunter or common fisherman who brings any scandal on the college, he is to be warned first by the master, then by the master and two fellows, and for the third offence by the chapter, and if then incorrigible, to be expelled.

32. A warden to be appointed to look after the money of the choristers. If any chorister die before the age of 14, his money to be divided into three parts, one part to the college, another for funeral expenses, and the third to his parents or relatives.

33. The master to have power of proving the wills of those dying in the college.

34. No one to depart from the college in debt.

35. No one of the college (including the master) to wander alone outside the college precincts into any house in the town or neighbourhood, nor to enter any tavern save in the presence of some one of sufficient dignity and honesty, under pain of correction by the master, and of expulsion if repeated.

36. The fellows, clerks, and choristers, daily, when compline is finished, standing in quire before they depart, shall sing in unison the antiphons of St. John Baptist, and of St. Edmund, king and martyr; and at the altar step, kneeling, the antiphon of the Blessed Virgin. Then to form round the tomb of Edward the founder, and to chant the 'De profundis.' (fn. 18)

37. The fellows, clerks, and choristers are to be humble, modest, and careful, in entering and departing from the church, and to abstain at mattins and all the hours from talking, whispering, laughing, or making any noise or disturbance.

38. The master's place in quire is the first on the right, and the precentor's on the left, the rest as they are ordered by the master and precentor.

39. All members of the college on rising from their beds, and on lying down at night, and at all hours of the day and night, when meeting with any hindrance, shall say in honour of the Trinity the antiphon, Libera nos, and a special prayer for blessing on the founder's work. Every day after nones and compline, and in Lent after vespers, shall be said in the church special prayers for kings Richard, Henry, etc., and the founder.

40. From 1 May to 1 September the bell to ring at eight o'clock, and the rest of the year at seven, and on the bell ceasing the anthem of the Blessed Virgin to be said by every one of the college, whether within the precincts or cloister, or gates, or outside, pausing as they say it. (fn. 19)

41. The principal and smaller gates of the college to be closed after the bell at the west end of the church has rung the Angelus. The doors to be kept closed till daybreak, and the keys to be handed to the master. Any one remaining outside, without leave of the master, to forfeit for first offence commons and salary for fifteen days, for second offence a month, for third offence six months, and for a further repetition to suffer expulsion.

42. Evensong, mattins, mass, and all the day hours to be attended by all in the church. The bell for mattins on the night of the Nativity to ring at one o'clock, and mattins to begin at two; on the principal feasts and the greater doubles, the bell to ring at four, and mattins to begin at five; on other festivals and ordinary days, the bell to ring at five, and mattins to begin at six.

43. Solemn processions are to be made round the cloister, following in all things the use of Sarum, and in the mass, the canonical hours, and in all other observances, the same use to be observed. The feasts of St. Lawrence, St. Edmund king and martyr, and blessed Edward king and martyr, and St. Katherine, are to be celebrated as doubles. Also on the morrow of All Souls Day solemn mass to be sung of St. Winifred virgin and martyr, and on the vigil of the Nativity of St. John Baptist solemn mass to be sung of St. Etheldreda.

44. There are to be sung three masses daily, together with the chapter mass, when it happens, after the Sarum use; the first, the mass of our Lady, to be sung in the lady chapel with the choristers; the second, without note, a mass of requiem for Richard II., Henry IV., and for Edmund and Isabella, children of Edward the founder, Henry V. the patron (when departed), and Edward the founder, and all faithful souls; the third, a sung mass of the day according to use of Sarum.

45. In addition to these three regular masses, a mass of the Holy Spirit for the good estate of Henry V. to be sung on Passion Sunday, with special collects; also a private mass for a like purpose every Sunday.

46. On Trinity Sunday, Michaelmas Day, the feast of St. John Baptist, on St. Lawrence Day, and on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, a special mass to be sung for Edward the founder.

47. The three ordinary masses, and the chapter mass when it happens, are to be celebrated by those chaplains who can best be spared from the quire and singing according to a table put forth by the precentor. All other masses to be taken in turn by the fellows. The master to celebrate at high mass on the principal feasts.

48. Each chaplain celebrating a special mass for Henry V. or the founder to receive two pence from the common fund at the hands of the master.

49. The master, precentor, and all the fellows to say a mass of requiem on the last day of February for Richard II.; on St. Cuthbert's Day for Henry IV.; for Edmund, the father of Edward the founder, on 1 August; and for Isabella, the mother of the founder, on 23 December.

50. On the obit of the founder the master and precentor to receive 12d., each chaplain celebrating 6d., each clerk present 4d., and each chorister present 2d.

51. All to be present at evensong, mattins, masses, and other hours. Every Saturday corrections or fines to be imposed by the master and precentor for all absences or late comings, or other offences (especially in quire), committed during the week. For neglect of the offices, castigation or fines are to be imposed, and as a last resource expulsion.

(A later insertion.)

Any one late at mattins to be fined 1d., or late at prime, terce, sext, nones, or compline ½d.; any chaplain on the mass rota neglecting to attend, a groat. Such fines to be divided among those present.

52. Every member of the college taking part in any service by reading, singing, or saying anything in the canonical hours, or in divine services, shall before leaving read, sing, or say at the steps of the quire, in English, the Our Father and the Hail Mary for the soul of the founder.

53. Anathema pronounced on any one who shall interpret these statutes after a sinister or evil fashion, twisting them from their natural and grammatical meaning.

54. A formal conclusion and final commendation of the statutes.

This is followed by a declaration or modification of the statute (No. 5) concerning the treasury, so far as it affected a distribution of a certain portion of the income to the poor. In accordance with the will of the founder, it had been laid down that, as soon as the church and houses of the college were constructed, without any delay a house for the poor, or almshouse, should be constructed at the charge of the college, to contain at least ten beds, tables, clothes, and garments for Christ's poor of either sex. The master or precentor and two senior fellows to receive and give hospitality to the inmates, who should be chosen from the infirm poor or those in specially needy circumstances, and particularly those who had been servants or tenants of Edward the founder or his parents in the towns of Fotheringhay, Nassington, or Yarwell. No poor person to be twice received or entertained in one week. But if there should not be in those towns and lordships sufficient poor requiring the assistance of the house, then they might be received from other towns and places. That each poor guest should receive once a day a good dish of bread and beer, with flesh or fish and one penny. On the first day of the week the poor guests should be received in honour of the Holy Trinity, the second day in honour of St. Michael and the nine orders of angels, on the third day St. Thomas of Canterbury, on the fourth day St. John Baptist, on the fifth day St. Lawrence, on the sixth for love and honour of the Five Wounds, and on the Saturday in honour of the Five Joys of Mary. Neglect of this hospitality to incur malediction.

An additional statute (amending Nos. 7 and 10), agreed to in chapter by the whole college, provided that no member of the college should admit any outsider within the precincts without the express sanction of the master, or in his absence of the precentor.

Then follows an entry relative to the gift by Henry VI. in 1447 of 20 acres of wood in the forest of Rockingham to Richard Vantort, master, and John Brounyng, precentor, and the rest of the college, and providing for a solemn mass for the good estate of the king and Queen Margaret, and after their death for their souls.

Another volume at the Public Record Office contains the accounts of John Gilbert, fellow and sacrist of the college from Michaelmas, 1536, to Michaelmas, 1548. (fn. 20) These accounts of the receipts and expenditure of the sacrist are of considerable value, as showing the nature and amount of the various offerings of the faithful, and from them might be constructed a fairly accurate parish register of Fotheringhay for those twelve years, as the names of the contributors are given in full.

In 1541 complaint was made by the clerks of the college against the master, that he withdrew their wages, that they were not chosen fellows, and that they were not suffered to marry and tarry in the college. A decree was issued on 30 June, which is entered in full at the end of the volume of the statutes by the 'queens grace's honourable councell,' and signed by Thomas Denys, chancellor to the queen, as well as by the queen's attorney, vice-chancellor, and clerk of the council, entirely in the master's favour, and exhorting the clerks to implicit obedience to the master in accordance with the statutes. Queen Catherine was lodged at Fotheringhay Castle during June, 1541, and advantage seems to have been taken of the presence of the queen's court to secure a judgement after a somewhat irregular fashion. Meetings of the privy council were held at Fotheringhay in October of the same year during the king's progress. (fn. 21)

A third volume at the Public Record Office contains full accounts of the whole of the estates of the college for the year 1544-5. (fn. 22) In this large paper book the details of the management of their farms, mills, etc., are set forth with much nicety. The management and administration seem to have been good. The salaries of the master, precentor, and the eleven other fellows amounted to £64 11s. 0d.; that of the nine clerks, including extra pay for one who had the custody of the clock, to £18 5s. 0d.; that of the choristers to £9 3s. 8d.; and of the servants to £18.

With the volume of sacrist's accounts are bound up various inventories which show the great wealth, particularly in vestments, of the king's college of Fotheringhay. (fn. 23)

An indented inventory of seven folios was made on 31 March, 1546, between Edward Gryffyn, solicitor-general, and two fellow commissioners, John Marshe and Francis Southwell, on the one part, and John Russell, master of the college, on the other part, whereby all the ornaments and chattels enumerated were left in the charge of the master until the king's pleasure should be further known.

This inventory included 'Jewels belonging to the Church' and 'Parcell of Plate belonging to the College, to be used in the House' (the total of all the plate amounted to 1,450 ounces), followed by an imposing list of vestments, chasubles, altar cloths, etc. The quire books included eleven antiphoners, nine of which had the psalter and two lacked it, three legends, one of which was divided into two volumes, and a mass book for the high altar. Fuller details in a roughly written inventory of the 'chauncell' mention twelve 'grayles covered with lether,' and 'a boke of Venite in parchment.' Also twenty-three processionals, four psalters, a mass book of pricksong for the Lady Mass, one fair antiphoner, and an ordinal. Also 'ii faire pair of organs, thone of iii stops very good and lyght, the other of iiii stops lesser and wors, with ii desks and stairs for the players at the same.' The rough inventories of copes, vestments, etc., in the reign of Edward VI. include 'a banner of whyte sarcenet with tokens of ye passyon,' 'an old penon of changeable sylke with the Armes of Ye Duke of York,' 'a faire herolds cote of tharmes of Ingland of gold, the ground velvet,' 'xlii banners and streamers of sylke of dyverse colors, and xli painted with Armes and conysannces of gold, and xl lytell stremers with stripes of dyverse sortes.' The chancel inventory included 'one table of ii yardes length and one ell of depth annexed to the high Aulter the grounde thereof of blewe velvet wherein is imbrodered the Assencion of our Ladye with iii Angells of ether syde of the seid Image. And in the same table bee vi Images, so all the seid Assencion Angells and Images bee sete with rayed perels.' The commissioners were ordered to dispatch this reredos to London. In the Lady Chapel was a candle standard of five branches of laten and also 'two paires of crutches tipped with silver,' which might possibly be votive offerings from those recovering from some form of lameness or accident to the legs. (fn. 24)

A later inventory in 1548 specifies various plate which had been omitted in the 'King's inventory' of 1546, and enumerates 'diverse parcells of silver and plate not found at Fotheringay on the dissolution of the seyd College which by report of Thomas Gyles ought to have bene there.'

Among the rough notes of inventories it is stated that there were ninety-three books in the library, all chained to the desks; and that all the books of the church, with those in the master's chamber, had been piled up in the lower vestry; that there were five chests and one double box filled with the evidences of the house in the master's chamber; that in the cloister yard there was a fair well covered with lead, a little cistern of lead attached to the well, and a lead pipe to convey the water to the buttery. In the master's chapel there were three chests with locks, one of which had painted on the side 'a man and woman pulling apples of a tree'; the taker of an inventory for confiscation purposes was apparently shy of referring to the first sin of Adam and Eve. In another of the chests that was banded with iron were some organ pipes. Two clocks were mentioned, one with 'a lyttell chyme.' Mention is also made of a large number of hangings for the quire of divers colours, some of which were of silk embroidered in gold; they were all ringed for speedy use; of two pieces of white silk with the founder's arms; of three lectern cloths of flowered changeable silk; of 63 albes and the like number of amices; of 'the vele of lynyn stayned, which hunge before the quire in lent'; of 'two red clokes of red sarcenet for lent'; two pairs of organs and their cases, with two chairs belonging to them; the 'latten lecterne with the egle; and the brase that covereth the founder's grave.'

Almost immediately after the completion of this second edition of the Fotheringhay inventories, the goods of the college were seized by the commissioners of Edward VI., and the church, which had sustained one of the most stately rounds of continuous services of a melodious and magnificent character throughout the whole of England, was stripped of all the beautiful accessories of worship.

At the Dissolution all the fellows and servants of the college received their full salary for one quarter. Of the fellows, Richard Ward, chaunter, received 36s. 8d.; Thomas Topclyf, overseer of the choristers, 22s. 6d.; John Gylbert, sacrist, 26s. 8d.; John Stanyborne, steward, 23s. 4d.; Thomas Styrope, John Flynt, Thomas Thorp, Robert Stores, Robert Webster, Robert Hemsley, and John Horton the curate, each received 20s.; whilst John Rysham received 1s. 3d. more because he kept the clock key. Of the seven clerks, Richard Ball received 25s.; and the rest, including John Robynson, 'organ-pleyar,' 15s. Twelve of the thirteen choristers received 3s. 4d., but Richard Wattell only 20d. The thirteen house servants received sums varying from 8s. 4d. to the cook, down to 3s. to the under-brewer; the payments to seventeen husbandry servants varied from 10s. to 5d.

The pension list was drawn out on 6 March, 1548. Richard Ward was assigned £8, Thomas Topclyf and John Gilbert £4 6s. 8d., John Stangare £4 3s. 4d., and the rest of the fellows £4. Master Russell must have died before this date. No pensions were assigned to the clerks or choristers, though they were on the foundation; but small sums were bestowed on them when they were discharged to the total of £6 16s. 8d., the largest share of which, 26s. 8d., went to the organist.

The certificate as to the value of the college in 1547 gives £536 19s. 7½d. as its income, and £471 11s. 6¾d. as its expenditure.

The actual surrender of the college and its liberties to the crown took place in 1539, but it was allowed, as we have seen, to continue until the second year of Henry VIII.'s successor.

The commissioners of 2 Edward VI. declared the clear annual value of this college to be £535 6s. 2d. 'Memorandum that for as muche as my Lorde Admeralle Smith had entryd in the seyd College and Surveyed the same before we came downe to survey the same We are not able to make any perfecte Certificate of the state of the same howse.' (fn. 25)

The college was granted by Edward VI. to Dudley, duke of Northumberland, who immediately pulled down the quire of the great church (the nave was parochial) and unroofed the college buildings for the value of the lead. On the duke's execution, the site of the college reverted to the crown and was sold shortly before Queen Mary's death, in July, 1558, to James Cruys. From an estimate made previous to the sale, it appears that the site of the college with its two courts, woodyard, orchards, and garden occupied nearly 3 acres. At that time there was in the eighty-eight windows or lights of the cloister a good deal of painted glass, but much broken and considered of no value when pulled down. The library must have been a fine room; it had seven windows. In the rooms and chambers of the cloister were eighteen doorways of freestone, valued at 3s. 4d. a door. (fn. 26) The cloister windows had been glazed, temp. Edward IV., when William Fielde was master, with pictures of the miracles of the Old Testament, with verses below them from the Eclogues of Theodulus. (fn. 27) When Queen Elizabeth first visited Fotheringhay, she professed herself dismayed and shocked at the desecrated and despoiled tombs of the royal dukes of York, Edward and Richard, and of Cicely Nevil, Richard's wife. The queen ordered the disinterment of the bodies from amid the ruins of the quire, and their re-burial at the east end of the parish church, with monuments over them, which Camden rightly described as 'very mean for such great princes, descended from kings, and from whom the kings of England are descended.' (fn. 28)

Masters of Fotheringhay (fn. 29)

John Buckland

John Maston, 1423

Thomas Peckam, 1434

Richard Vautort, 1437

Thomas Buxhall, 1461

William Feild, about 1480

Robert Bernard, about 1500

John Russell, 1521

The pointed oval seal of the college, taken from a cast at the British Museum, (fn. 30) represents the Annunciation in three canopied niches; on the right the Virgin with nimbus standing on a plinth, lifting up her right hand; in the centre a lily flower growing out of a tall pot having a scroll entwined in the foliage and inscribed AVE MA.; on the left the Archangel Gabriel with nimbus, wings outspread, kneeling on a plinth. One of the fragments of a seal attached to a Sloane charter (fn. 31) gives a part wanting in the cast, showing above the canopy a shield of the royal arms of Henry IV. In base a similar shield of arms with label of three points Edward Plantagenet, second duke of York, co-founder 1411.

The legend, which is defaced, runs: SIGILLŪ COMMUNE COLLEGIJ B[EATE] MARIE [+] ŌĪM SCŌS DE FO[the]RINGHEY.


  • 1. Leland, Itin. (Hearne ed.), i. 5–7; Bonney, Fotheringhay (1821), p. 41.
  • 2. Linc. Epis. Reg. Memo. of Repingdon, f. 124.
  • 3. Pat. 13 Hen. IV. pt. 1, m. 14. Cited in full in Nichol, Bibl. Topog. vol. iv. No. 40, pp. 82–7.
  • 4. Fine R. 2 Hen. V. m. 4.
  • 5. Pat. 3 Hen. V. pt. 2, m. 43.
  • 6. Both editions of Dugdale, and Nichol, Bibl. Topog.
  • 7. Close, 11 Hen. VI. m. 1.
  • 8. Pat. 18 Hen. VI. pt. 3, m. 9.
  • 9. Chart. 1 Edw. IV. pt. 2, m. 7.
  • 10. Pat. 2 Edw. IV. pt. 1, m. 9.
  • 11. Pat. 2 Edw. IV. pt. 2, m. 17.
  • 12. Ibid. 5 Edw. IV. pt. 1, m. 17.
  • 13. Ibid. 6 Edw. IV. pt. 2, m. 14.
  • 14. Ibid. 20 Edw. IV. pt. 2, m. 21.
  • 15. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv. 287.
  • 16. Aug. Off. Misc. Books. No. 147.
  • 17. This statute has faint cross lines through it, and 'vacat' written in the margin.
  • 18. They were also to make stations before the two images of the Virgin against the pillars of the nave of the church, but this part is erased, and 'vacat per mandatum dni. Regis Hen. VIII.' is written in the margin.
  • 19. By the side in a late hand is written: 'Vacat antiphona salve-regina.'
  • 20. Aug. Off. Misc. Bks. No. 145. Full transcripts of the more important parts of this book were given by Rev. Dr. Cox in Arch. Journ. lxi. No. 244, pp. 241–275.
  • 21. L. and P. Hen. VIII. xvi. 1269, 1272.
  • 22. Aug. Off. Misc. Bks. 146.
  • 23. Ibid. 145.
  • 24. Mr. St. John Hope suggests that the silver-tipped crutches may have been staves for the rulers of the quire.
  • 25. Chan. Cert. xxxv. 48.
  • 26. Harl. MS. 608, ff. 61b, 62.
  • 27. Leland, Itin. i. 5–7.
  • 28. Camden, Britannia (Gibson), i. 407.
  • 29. The Episcopal Registers at Lincoln supply the following list of masters.
  • 30. B. M. lxix. 74.
  • 31. xxxiii. 72.