House of Gilbertine canons: The priory of Mattersey

A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1910.

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'House of Gilbertine canons: The priory of Mattersey', A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910), pp. 140-141. British History Online [accessed 14 June 2024].

. "House of Gilbertine canons: The priory of Mattersey", in A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910) 140-141. British History Online, accessed June 14, 2024,

. "House of Gilbertine canons: The priory of Mattersey", A History of the County of Nottingham: Volume 2, (London, 1910). 140-141. British History Online. Web. 14 June 2024,

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The Gilbertine priory of Mattersey was founded in the lifetime of the memorable founder of this order, St. Gilbert of Sempringham, by Roger son of Ranulph de Mattersey, about the year 1185. It was established on an island in the River Idle, was dedicated to the honour of St. Helen, and intended to support six Gilbertine canons. (fn. 1)

An inspection and confirmatory charter of the year 1341 recites a grant of confirmation.

Pope Celestine in 1192 committed a cause between the Abbot of Welbeck and the canons of Mattersey concerning the advowson of the churches of Mattersey, Misson, Bolton (Lancashire), Gamston on Idle, and Elkesley, to the judgement of the Abbot of Darley and two other ecclesiastics, before whom an agreement was sealed at Blyth, whereby the right to all these advowsons was conceded to Mattersey, saving the church of Elkesley, which was to remain with Welbeck. (fn. 2)

About the end of the reign of Edward I, Isabel de Chauncy, daughter of Thomas de Mattersey, for the souls of herself and of her late husband, Sir Philip de Mattersey, gave in her widowhood to the prior and convent of St. Helen on the Isle of Mattersey her whole demesne, with all homages of the township of Mattersey and Thorpe, and all lands and tenements which they had by the gift of her ancestor in Mattersey, Thorpe, Gamston, Elkesley, West Retford, Misson, and Bolton, together with the advowsons of the churches of Mattersey, Gamston, Misson, and Bolton. (fn. 3)

In 1303 John, Prior of Mattersey, was granted simple protection by Edward I for two years, as he was going to the court of Rome. (fn. 4)

The prior and canons in 1307 were granted free warren in Mattersey and Thorpe. (fn. 5)

The Prior of Mattersey in 1276 claimed full chartered privileges of freedom from pontage, passage, and every kind of toll and custom, and from hundred and other dues throughout England; also free warren in his demesne lands of Mattersey and Thorpe. In support of these claims he produced a charter of Henry III, of the year 1251, and another recently granted by Edward I. (fn. 6)

The Hundred Rolls of 1275 show that the Prior of Mattersey was charged with making so great encroachments on the road leading from Gringley on the Hill to Mattersey, that it was scarcely possible for a cart to make its way there. The jury also declared that the prior held a charter of Henry III to the effect that his men need appear only before the king or his chief justices to answer any complaint or charge, and that on this account the former waxed too bold and were a source of much annoyance to their neighbours. It was also set forth that the Prior and Canons of Mattersey held 11 oxgangs of land of the fee of Lancaster at Mattersey; a parcel of land at the same place on which their house was situate, of the gift of Roger de Mattersey, senior; also the advowsons of the churches of Gamston and Misson, and half the church of Mattersey, of the fee of Lancaster; with 4s. rent from the nuns of Wallingwells; an oxgang and a half at Finningley, of whose gift they are ignorant; half an oxgang at Morton, of the fee of Lancaster, the gift of Robert le Vavasour; a toft and about 30 acres of land in Elkesley, of the fee of Lancaster, the gift of Alexander de Kirkton; 4s. rent in West Retford, of the same fee, the gift of William Doynel; 2 oxgangs in Torworth, of their own buying, of the same fee; 3s. rent in Lound, of the same fee, the gift of Roger de Osberton; 12d. rent in Lound, of the fee of Tickhill, the gift of Matthew de Sutton; 4s. rent at the same place and of the same fee, the gift of William son of Hubert; 4 acres and a toft in Mattersey, of the fee of Lancaster, the gift of Thomas, Dean of Crumwell; 40 acres of land and a toft in Clayworth, of the fee of Tickhill, the gift of Henry son of Robert; 60 acres of the land of the soke of Oswardbec, bought in the time of the late king; 12 acres of land in Eaton, of the fee of Tickhill, the gift of Robert de Ulrington; and half a mark rent in Normanton, of the fee of Lancaster, the gift of Thomas the chaplain. (fn. 7)

A severe fire wrought dire destruction at this priory in the year 1279. On 20 November of that year Archbishop Wickwane ordered an inquisition to be held concerning the destruction of the charters and other muniments pertaining to the pensions and possessions of the house which had perished in the flames. The jury, consisting of rectors and vicars as well as religious, were to make minute inquiry on oath as to the substance of the writings which had been burnt. On 5 December a certificate was registered from the official of the Archdeacon of Nottingham, stating that the rectors of the churches of Elkesley, Kirton, and Boughton, and the vicars of Wheatley, East Markham, West Markham, Walesby, Elkesley, South Leverton, and Headon, with other jurors, declared that the monastery of Mattersey possessed before the fire a certain document, under the seal of Archbishop Gray, assigning to them an annual pension of 5 marks out of the churches of Misson and Gamston on Idle. Moreover the jurors declared that they had formerly seen and read a composition between Mattersey and the nuns of Wallingwells, whereby the patronage of the church of Mattersey was assigned to that priory. (fn. 8)

In October 1280 the diocesan's licence for the appropriation of the church of Mattersey to the priory was obtained, in consequence of their poverty through the fire. (fn. 9)

The Taxation Roll of 1291 estimates the annual value of the temporalities of this priory in Nottinghamshire at £35; there were also in spiritualities the appropriated churches of Mattersey £5 and Misson £12, giving a total taxable income of £52. (fn. 10)

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1534 shows that the priory held 100 acres of demesne lands worth £9 a year, and other temporalities to the value of £30 6s. 7d. The most valuable of their spiritualities was a pension of £10 out of the rectory of Bolton, Lancashire, whilst the appropriated rectory of Misson, tithes of certain oxgangs in Mattersey, and a pension from Gamston Church, brought their total income up to £61 16s. 7d. The clear annual value, however, was only £55 2s. 5d. (fn. 11)

Henry IV in 1403 granted the priory a weekly market on Monday at Mattersey and two annual fairs, the one on the vigil and day of St. John of Beverley, and the other on the vigil and day of Sts. Simon and Jude. (fn. 12)

This priory was visited by the notorious Legh and Layton in 1536. They stated that they found one of the canons incontinent, and he desired release from his vows. The annual value was returned at £60. They also stated that the founder (patron) was Edward Thirland. (fn. 13)

The priory was surrendered on 3 October 1538 by Robert, Bishop of Llandaff, commendatory general master of the Order of Sempringham, and by Thomas Norman, Prior of Mattersey, Thomas Bell, sub-prior, and John Garton, William Schylton, and Richard Watson, canons. (fn. 14)

Pensions were assigned on 2 December 1539 of £12 to the prior, £2 13s. 4d. to the sub-prior, and 40s. each to the three other canons. (fn. 15)

The site, with houses, church, steeple, churchyard, a warren of coneys, a water-mill, a windmill, fishery rights, and rectory and advowson of vicarage of Mattersey, was granted to Anthony Nevill, esq., of the Royal Body, and Mary his wife, together with all the priories, manors, &c., on 4 November 1539. (fn. 16)

There is a cast in the British Museum from a damaged impression of the original seal of this priory. It is a pointed oval, and appears to have the figure of a prior kneeling before St. John Baptist, with a long cross, holding up his hand in benediction. Legend:—


Priors of Mattersey

Walter, occurs 1247 (fn. 18)

A—, occurs 1266 (fn. 19)

John, occurs 1303 (fn. 20)

Thomas Norman, occurs 1538 (fn. 21)


  • 1. Thoroton, Notts. iii, 442.
  • 2. Welbeck Chart. fol. 129; cited in Thoroton, Notts. iii, 332.
  • 3. Cited in inspection charter, Chart. R. 4 Edw. III, m. 50.
  • 4. Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 39.
  • 5. Chart. R. 35 Edw. I, m. 17.
  • 6. Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 624-5.
  • 7. Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), ii, 26, 303-4.
  • 8. York Epis. Reg. Wickwane, fol. 620 d.
  • 9. Harl. MS. 6970, fol. 105.
  • 10. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 311b, 312.
  • 11. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 178.
  • 12. Inq. a.q.d. 4 Hen. IV, 22.
  • 13. L. and P. Hen. VIII, x, 364.
  • 14. Rymer, Foedera, xiv, 619.
  • 15. Aug. Off. Bks. ccxxxiii, 66b, 67.
  • 16. Pat. 31 Hen. VIII, pt. iii, m. 11.
  • 17. Casts of Seals, lxx, 47.
  • 18. Harl. MS. 6970, fol. 51b.
  • 19. Ibid. fol. 56b, 60.
  • 20. Pat. 31 Edw. I, m. 39.
  • 21. Rymer, Foedera, xiv, 619.