Houses of Augustinian canons: St Mary's College, Oxford

Pages 102-103

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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Although the canons of Oseney attended lectures at the university, and other Augustinian canons were occasionally allowed to reside at Oseney for that purpose, yet this was by favour, not by right, and such lodgers were under no regular discipline. Therefore, in 1421, at a meeting of the Augustinian order at Leicester, a petition was made to the king that he would found a college for the order in Oxford, and a site was found at the east end of the modern front of Balliol College: (fn. 1) the king was to give the land and the canons would erect the buildings. This scheme came to nothing, owing to the death of the king. But in 1435 Thomas Holden and Elizabeth his wife founded St. Mary's College, giving land in the parishes of St. Michael's North, and St. Peter le Bailey, and building a chapel. (fn. 2) The rules, which were drawn up in 1448 by the abbot of Oseney and are still extant (fn. 3) show that secular clerks might be admitted as well as regulars, but would have to pay for their rooms. It is mentioned that some canons might be compelled to live in halls because of their poverty, life in college being apparently more expensive. At the head of the college was the prior studentium; according to the rules of Pope Benedict XII (fn. 4) he was to hold office for only one year. In 1452 building was still in progress, for in that year the prior of Bicester contributed 6s. 8d. to the work. (fn. 5)

Priors of St. Mary's College, Oxford (fn. 6)

William Westakarre, S.T.P., occurs 1448 (fn. 7)

Richard Leycester, occurs 1466

— Ceme, or Came, occurs 1467

John Hackborn, S.T.B., occurs 1501

Thomas Beel, S.T.B., occurs 1509

Hugh Whitwick, occurs 1518 (fn. 8)

John Rasey, occurs c. 1528

Thomas Massey, occurs 1532

Jarvis Markham, last prior, 1541


  • 1. Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii, 153.
  • 2. Wood, City of Oxford (ed. Clark), ii, 230.
  • 3. Rawlinson, MS. Statutes, 34.
  • 4. Ibid.
  • 5. Hist. of Bicester (ed. Blomfield), 187.
  • 6. From Wood, City of Oxford (ed. Clark), ii, 232.
  • 7. Rawlinson, MS. Statutes, 34, fol. 22.
  • 8. Priory of Hexham (Surtees Soc.), i, p. cxvii.