A History of the County of Shropshire: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1973.
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40. THE COLLEGE OF ST. MARY, NEWPORT
This college of secular priests, which was in being by 1452, developed from a more modest chantry service planned by its founder twenty years before. In 1432 Thomas Draper obtained licence to found and endow a chantry in Newport church, to be served by two priests. They were to celebrate in the Lady Chapel which Draper was then building, for the souls of Henry V, Henry VI, and Draper's former master, Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester. (fn. 1) A single priest was serving this chantry in 1435, when, at the instance of the king and the duke, Draper obtained a papal indulgence, the object of which was to provide funds to finish building the chapel and to increase the chantry's endowments so that a second priest could be engaged. (fn. 2) There was apparently still only one priest in 1438 (fn. 3) and a further papal indulgence was obtained, with like object, in 1440. (fn. 4) In 1442 licence was given for Draper to acquire the advowson of Newport from Shrewsbury Abbey and to found a college consisting of a master and four chaplains, two of whom were to serve his chantry. (fn. 5) The brethren of the Guild of St. Mary, Newport, were now among those for whom daily masses were to be said. (fn. 6) This was presumably in recognition of assistance given by the guild, which seems by this time to have assumed responsibility for the fabric of the Lady Chapel. (fn. 7) In 1448, when the abbey's grant was confirmed, Draper conveyed the advowson of Newport to the college (fn. 8) and in 1454 he obtained licence to settle on it 8 messuages, 4 cottages, 8 shops, and some 140 a. land in Newport and Edgmond. (fn. 9) The college was presumably fully established by 1452, when its first master was appointed; (fn. 10) he and his successors were also parish priests of Newport. (fn. 11)
The college statutes, (fn. 12) drawn up c. 1448, provided for annual stipends of 10 marks for the master and of 7 marks apiece for the four chaplains, while the college servant was to have 13s. 4d. a year. Shrewsbury Abbey was to nominate and institute the master but in other respects a large measure of control was vested in the Guild of St. Mary. Chaplains were to be appointed and accounts rendered by the master and guild officers jointly. Services required of the chaplains were specified in some detail. They were to celebrate daily offices and the service of Our Lady in the Lady Chapel according to the Use of Sarum, 'non transcurrendo sincopando sed cum debita intencione et devocione'. These services were to begin at 6 a.m., except on Sundays and feast days, when they were to begin at 7 a.m. and the chaplains were also to sing in the chancel at mass, matins, and vespers. They were bound to live in the college, being liable to expulsion if they accepted another benefice requiring residence outside, and were not to be outside its walls after 7 p.m. in winter or after 9 p.m. in summer. Each was to have a private chamber but meals, at which they were to refrain from idle chatter, were to be taken in the common hall. Draper reserved the right to amend the statutes but no such alterations are known to have been made.
The college had only two masters or wardens between 1452 and 1543. Roger Salter, instituted in 1491, was granted leave of absence for study in the same year (fn. 13) but masters seem normally to have observed the provisions for continual residence. Scarcely anything is known of the internal life of the college before the Dissolution, when the master and the two chaplains serving Draper's chantry were still being paid at the rate laid down in the statutes. (fn. 14) One of the chantry chaplains was then public preacher and master of a grammar school (fn. 15) and at this time the College also housed an aged priest and an organ-player, who were paid £2 and £1 6s. 8d. a year respectively. (fn. 16) The college estates were said to be worth £18 1s. a year in 1454 (fn. 17) and surveys made between 1546 and 1548 put their gross value at some £33, about two-thirds of which was derived from rents of houses and shops in the town. (fn. 18) The Guild of St. Mary maintained its connexion with the college. Its officers are among parties to college leases in 1522 and 1545 (fn. 19) and links were sufficiently close in 1535 for the service to be described as a guild chapel. (fn. 20)
The college was dissolved in 1547, (fn. 21) the two chantry priests and the organ-player being assigned pensions in the following year. (fn. 22) Its estate, apart from the rectory and tithes of Newport and the college house, was granted to John Cowper and Richard Trevor in April 1549. (fn. 23) Sir John Peryent and Thomas Reeve, who obtained a crown grant of the rectory and tithes in December 1549, (fn. 24) immediately sold them to Richard Cupper, (fn. 25) the Crown's tenant of the college house. (fn. 26) The last was retained by the Crown until 1581, when it was granted to Edmund Downing and Peter Ashton, (fn. 27) who sold it in 1583 to John Matthews of Newport. (fn. 28) A house standing on the site of the College was acquired by the parishioners in 1700 (fn. 29) and was used as the parsonage of Newport until 1866. (fn. 30) This house, now No. 22, St. Mary's Street, was described as 'rebuilt and reedified' in 1700 (fn. 31) and dates from the earlier 17th century; (fn. 32) no fragments of the college appear to survive in this or adjacent houses. A description of the church is reserved for a later volume.
Master Or Wardens Of Newport College
John Moreton, instituted 1543. (fn. 37)
The master and chaplains were given licence to have a common seal in 1442 (fn. 38) but no reference to such a seal was made in the college statutes and no impression of it has been found.