Houses of Austin canons: Priory of Kersey

Pages 107-108

A History of the County of Suffolk: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1975.

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


In this section


Neither the date of the foundation nor the name of the founder of this small priory of Austin canons, dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin and St. Anthony, is known. The earliest record of it occurs in 1219 in connexion with lands in Semer. (fn. 1)

Among the muniments of King's College, Cambridge, are several charters showing that Thomas de Burgh and his wife Nesta were the chief early benefactors of this house. Thomas de Burgh granted them all his patrimony in the town of Lindsey. By another charter, Thomas and Nesta his wife granted three acres of arable land in Groton. His widow Nesta de Cockfield made several considerable grants to the canons of Kersey. By the first she granted them the mother church of Kersey, with all its appurtenances, eight acres adjoining the cemetery on the south, the two and a half acres on which the house was founded, a messuage where the hospital (domus hospitalis) stood, &c. By the same charter she granted the tithes of her mills at Cockfield, Lindsey, and Kersey, to sustain the light of this chapel. Nesta took for her second husband John de Beauchamp; they jointly, in 1240, confirmed and increased the grants to the priory of lands and pasture in Lindsey and Kersey, and confirmed to them the church of Kersey. After Nesta was widowed for the second time she gave the canons the church of Lindsey in order that they might better relieve the poor who flocked there once every week. In her last charter she desired that her body might be buried in the conventual church, and gave the canons further lands, with customary service, in Lindsey and Kersey. (fn. 2)

The taxation roll of 1291 gives the annual value of the priory as £33 6s. 7d.; the spiritualities were the rectory of Lindsey £6 13s. 3d., and a portion of 2s. from Pentlow church, Essex; the remainder was in lands and rents, chiefly at Kersey and Lindsey, and at Benfleet, Essex, with a mill and fisheries at Boxford. The priory only held the advowson of the church of Kersey. (fn. 3)

John del Brok obtained licence, under fine of five marks, to alienate in 1338 to the prior and convent property in Kersey and adjoining parishes to find a chaplain to celebrate daily for the souls of his ancestors. (fn. 4)

In 1347 the prior of Kersey, out of compassion for the leanness of the priory, whose possessions did not suffice for the support of the prior and canons, was excused his portion of the tenths granted the king by the province of Canterbury for the four terms that had passed and for the coming year. (fn. 5)

The advowson or patronage of the priory went with the manor of Kersey, and was granted, in 1331, by the trustees of Edmund, late earl of Kent, to Thomas de Weston to hold for life, being subsequently held, in the same reign, by Thomas de Holand and Joan his wife; in the time of Richard II by Thomas de Holand and Alice his wife; and in the time of Henry IV by Elizabeth, wife of John, late earl of Kent. The next patron was Sir Henry de Grey, Lord Powys, and in 1444 he obtained permission to grant it to the college of St. Mary and St. Nicholas (afterwards King's), Cambridge. (fn. 6)

Priors of Kersey

Richard Waleys, died 1331 (fn. 7)

Robert de Akenham, elected 1331 (fn. 8)

John Calle, resigned 1387 (fn. 9)

John de Polstede, elected 1387 (fn. 10)

John Buche, elected 1394 (fn. 11)

John Dewche, elected 1411 (fn. 12)

Nicholas Bungaye, resigned 1422 (fn. 13)

Richard Fyn, elected 1422 (fn. 14)

John Duch, elected 1431 (fn. 15)

William Woodbridge, elected 1432 (fn. 16)

The twelfth-century seal is a pointed oval, bearing a bust of the Blessed Virgin, crowned, in clouds; below is the head of St. Anthony; between them is a sun and crescent moon. Legend:—



  • 1. Feet of F. Suff. 3 Hen. III, No. 29.
  • 2. These six charters, from King's Coll. Camb., are cited in Dugdale, Mon. vi, pp. 592-3.
  • 3. Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 16b, 18b, 24b, 104b, 107b, 122, 125, 128b, 129b, 132b, 133.
  • 4. Pat. 12 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 37.
  • 5. Ibid. pt. ii, m. 2.
  • 6. Copinger, Hist. of Suff. iii, 395-7.
  • 7. Norw. Epis. Reg. ii, 45.
  • 8. Ibid.
  • 9. Ibid. vi, 126.
  • 10. Ibid.
  • 11. Ibid. vi, 307.
  • 12. Ibid. vii, 46.
  • 13. Ibid. viii, 76.
  • 14. Ibid.
  • 15. Ibid. ix, 49.
  • 16. Ibid. 60.