Friaries: The house of Friars of the Sack

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

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Friaries: The house of Friars of the Sack', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 149-150. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Friaries: The house of Friars of the Sack", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 149-150. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Friaries: The house of Friars of the Sack", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 149-150. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,


The Friars of the Penance of Jesus Christ, called Friars of the Sack, came to Oxford in 1261 or the beginning of 1262. They were already in possession of a site in the parish of St. Budoc before 7 May, 1262, when Henry III, as patron of the church, gave them licence to build an oratory and celebrate divine service. (fn. 1) As the church was in ruins and the district more or less uninhabited, (fn. 2) the parish of St. Budoc had been joined to the parish of St. George in the Castle; the friars therefore in this year obtained from the abbot and convent of Oseney, patrons of St. George's, licence to build a chapel which, however, was only to be used by 'seculars who were their servants, or were living with them owing to sickness.' (fn. 3) The original plot was probably that which they bought of Walter the Goldsmith, and for which in 1278 they were paying 2s. a year to the alien priory of Steventon. (fn. 4) Wood says that Ela de Longespee, countess of Warwick and wife of Philip Basset, furnished the purchase money, and also procured for them the licence from Oseney Abbey. (fn. 5)

In February, 1264-5, the king gave them the church of St. Budoc, which adjoined their site, with the cemetery and the houses on it, 'so far as pertained to him,' on condition that the cemetery should be kept as consecrated ground. (fn. 6) The church was said in 1285 to be worth 20s. a year. (fn. 7) The whole area measured 20½ perches from north to south, and was 6 perches wide at the south end, 2 perches 4 ft. at the north end. (fn. 8)

The king gave them six oaks for timber in 1267; (fn. 9) Nicholas de Weston, burgess of Oxford, left them 10s. in 1271, and Julian Wyth 2s. (fn. 10)

Oxford was one of the five studia generalia recognized by the order; (fn. 11) to each of these every provincial prior was entitled to send two brethren of his province who were to have the 'liberty of students.'

In the cells they may read, write, pray, sleep, and sit up with a light at night for the sake of study. Students in any faculty and preachers shall not be bound to attend the daily chapters except on Wednesday and Friday.

Every student had to be provided by his province with at least three theological books, namely, the Bible, the Sentences, and the Histories, (fn. 12) which were to be their chief subjects of study.

This order was one of those suppressed by the Council of Lyons in 1274, that is the friars were forbidden to admit new members; the friaries came to an end when the old members died out, and were at the disposal of the apostolic see. As early as 1296 Boniface VIII ordered the Bishop of Lincoln to allow the Friars Minors to take possession of the land and houses of the Friars of the Sack in Oxford as soon as the five remaining brethren died, (fn. 13) and Clement V at the request of John of Brittany, earl of Richmond, granted the place to the Friars Minors on 27 May, 1309. (fn. 14) The lands which Henry III had granted were held to have escheated to the crown, and these Edward II conferred on the Minorites by letters patent dated 28 March, 1310. (fn. 15) On the same day he confirmed the grant of four other parcels of ground to the Minorites; some of these may have been previously held by the Friars of the Sack. (fn. 16)

In March, 1319, the Friars Minors formally surrendered to the king the area which had belonged to the Friars of the Penance 'in its entirety as it came into their hands,' and received it back of the king's special favour in pure and perpetual alms. (fn. 17)


  • 1. Pat. 46 Hen. III. m. 11; Grey Friars in Oxf. 300.
  • 2. Pat. 49 Hen. III. m. 24.
  • 3. Cotton MS. Vitell, E xv, fol. 220b.; Wood, City, 474, who refers also to 'a small register belonging to Merton College,' fol. 11a.
  • 4. Wood, City, ii, 474; Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iv, 8. This land was also called 'the fee of the abbot of Bec'; Grey Friars in Oxf. 14, 16.
  • 5. Wood, City, ii, 473-4.
  • 6. Pat. 49 Hen. III, m. 24; Grey Friars in Oxf. 300.
  • 7. Plac. Coronae Oxon. 13 Edw. I, m. 55 (cf. Oxf. City Doc. 205). In Twyne MS. xxiii, 249, there is mention of an action brought against the prior by John de la Feyre.
  • 8. Pat. 3 Edw. II, m. 9; Grey Friars in Oxf. 301-2.
  • 9. Close, 51 Hen. III, m. 9.
  • 10. Bodl. Oseney Charters, 14; Wood, City, ii, 477-8.
  • 11. The following statements are taken from the General Constitutions of the Order; Engl. Hist. Rev. ix, 121-7.
  • 12. i.e. Hist. Scholastica of Peter Comestor.
  • 13. Wadding, Ann. v. 515; Reg. de Boniface, viii (ed. Digard), 444.
  • 14. Wadding, vi, 463.
  • 15. Inq. a.q.d. 80 (18); Pat. 3 Edw. II, m. 9; Grey Friars in Oxf. 301.
  • 16. See in the account of Grey Friars.
  • 17. Pat. 12 Edw. II, m. 25.