Colleges: Burton, Christ and St Mary

Pages 297-298

A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1970.

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


In this section



In 1541 the Crown reconstituted the dissolved abbey of St. Mary and St. Modwen, Burton-upon-Trent, as the collegiate church of Christ and St. Mary. (fn. 1) It had a dean and 4 prebendaries, whose appointment lay with the Crown, (fn. 2) and by 1545 there were also 6 'petty' canons, a gospeller, an epistoler, 5 singing men, 6 choristers, 2 deacons, a parish priest, a schoolmaster, and 4 bedesmen. The 11 'common servants' included a barber, the parish clerk, the bridge-master, a laundress, a turnspit, and an apparitor. The office of 'porter of the gates' was held by Robert Bradshaw, gentleman, at a fee of 60s. and was presumably honorary. The last abbot was appointed the first dean, and three of the minor canons and the epistoler were former religious, presumably of Burton Abbey. (fn. 3) The site and all property of the abbey except the manors of Abbots Bromley and Bromley Hurst were granted to the new college to be held of the Crown at a rent of £63 2s. 4d. in lieu of tithes and first fruits, but the estate was burdened with various pensions, stipends, and fees. (fn. 4) The dean was also obliged to spend £20 a year on alms and £20 on highway maintenance. (fn. 5) The gross value of the college's property in 1541-2 was £564 5s. 6d. (fn. 6)

The college was short-lived. In November 1545 it was dissolved by Richard Goodrich and John Scudamore who travelled from London for the purpose and remained at Burton for four days. They assigned pensions to the dean (£40, subsequently raised to £66 6s. 8d.), three prebendaries (£12 13s. 4d., £15 and £16), the three petty canons who were former monks (two at £6 and one at £6 13s. 4d.), and the epistoler, also a former monk (£5). The other members of the college and the servants received their wages and in most cases a reward or new appointment — one of the petty canons was made curate of the parish church. The four bedesmen received 'wages' of 25s. each. The bridge-master had no reward presumably because he continued to hold the same office. (fn. 7) Further pensions were later awarded to the schoolmaster (at the rate of £20 a year until alternative provision was made for him in 1546) and to another of the petty canons. (fn. 8) Goodrich and Scudamore also paid debts owing by the dean and chapter (£9 13s. 8d.) and collected others due to the college (£48 2s. 4d.). They compiled an inventory of the plate, vestments, and household goods. The plate, consisting of 49½ oz. gilt, 24½ oz. parcel gilt, and 93 oz. white, and some of the vestments were taken back to London; the remainder was sold, assigned to the parish, or left on the site. (fn. 9) The following January the college and all its possessions, except Burton parish church, its lead, and its bells, were granted to Sir William Paget. (fn. 10)


William Edys, appointed 1541, died 1544. (fn. 11)

Robert Brokke, appointed 1544, dean at the dissolution. (fn. 12)

The seal, as reproduced by Stebbing Shaw, (fn. 13) depicts Christ, St. Mary, eleven figures probably representing Apostles, another figure seated below Christ, possibly Wulfric Spot, the Holy Ghost in the form of a dove, and the coat of arms formerly used by the abbey. Legend:



  • 1. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 536. It was included in the 1539 list of proposed new bishoprics and colleges: ibid. xiv(2), pp. 151-2.
  • 2. Ibid. xvi, p. 536; ibid. xviii(2), p. 142 (appointment to vacant prebend); ibid. xix(1), p. 381 (appointment of new dean).
  • 3. Hibbert, Dissolution, 177, 268-70, 277, 279-80. One of the canons, John Carter, was probably the John Carter who was martyrologer of the abbey in 1524: Lich. Dioc. Regy., B/V/1/1, p. 44 (2nd nos.).
  • 4. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 638; S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3356, m. 51. Abbots Bromley and Bromley Hurst were retained by the Crown and granted to Sir Wm. Paget in 1544: L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix(1), p. 41. For details of the rest of the property see above p. 204.
  • 5. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xx(1), p. 670. Hence, presumably, the presence of the bridge-master among the servants of the college.
  • 6. S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/3356, m. 51; C 1/1403/55.
  • 7. Hibbert, Dissolution, 191, 258-80. The list of servants is headed by John Blount gent. whose wages and award came to 26s. 8d., a higher amount than any other servant except the bridge-master whose wages were 33s. 4d.
  • 8. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi(1), pp. 160, 778.
  • 9. Hibbert, Dissolution, 258-67, 271, 278-80.
  • 10. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi(1), pp. 76-77; S.H.C. 1937, 187-9; S.C. 6/Hen. VIII/336o. Certain annual fees had to be paid from the property. In 1546 Sir Wm. compounded for the rent due to the Crown: L. & P. Hen. VIII, xxi(1), pp. 89, 164-5.
  • 11. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xvi, p. 536; ibid. xix(1), p. 381; T. Tanner, Notitia Monastica (1787 edn.), p. xlvi, which also mentions an arrangement for his burial on the S. side of the high altar.
  • 12. L. & P. Hen. VIII, xix(1), p. 381; Hibbert, Dissolution, 277. He was still living some 13 years after the dissolution of the college: C 1/1403/55-60.
  • 13. See above plate facing p. 213. For the arms see Tanner, Notitia Monastica, p. xxxiii and facing page. No impressions of the seal can now be traced.