Houses of Cistercians nuns: Kirklees Priory

Page 170

A History of the County of York: Volume 3. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1974.

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The Cistercian nunnery at Kirklees in the parish of Dewsbury was founded during the reign of Henry II by Reiner le Fleming, lord of the manor of Wath-upon-Dearne, (fn. 1) whose grant was confirmed some time before 1240 by William, Earl Warenne, and in 1236 by Henry III. (fn. 2) From the years 1306 to 1315 there appears to have been some scandal at Kirklees, especially with regard to three of the nuns, Alice Raggid, Elizabeth Hopton, and Joan Heton.

In 1397 Sir John Mountenay, kt., John Amyas, and others gave the priory 50 acres and the advowson of the church of Mirfield (fn. 3) to provide a chaplain for ever for the soul of Sir John de Burgh at Kirklees. Boniface IX (1400-4) allowed the nuns of Kirklees to appropriate Mirfield Church and to take corporal possession on the death or retirement of the then rector. (fn. 4) The prioress could appoint or remove at will a fit priest, either secular or regular, but in 1403 Archbishop Scrope ordained a perpetual vicarage there. In 1412 John de Burgh bequeathed 13s. 4d., and in 1407 Sir William Scot, kt., of Great Halyton left 10 marks to the fabric of the nuns' church, and 10 marks to the nuns. In 1535 all the temporalities and spiritualities were only worth £20 7s. 8d. gross value, and £19 8s. 2d. net. (fn. 5)

The priory was not dissolved in 1535, but a grant was given for its continuance in 1538 for divine worship and hospitality. Cecilia Topcliffe was to be prioress, and the convent was to consist of those who had been there on 4 February 1536, and they might enjoy all their possessions as before the passing of the Act. (fn. 6) Eighteen months later, in 1539, Joan Kyppes surrendered the priory, which had then eight inmates. At that date the whole property amounted to £29 18s. 9d. (fn. 7)

Prioresses of Kirklees (fn. 8)

Sybil, occurs 1240

Alice le Mousters, occurs 1305 (fn. 9)

Margaret of Claworth, elected 1306

Alice Screvyn, elected 1308

Alice, occurs 1328 (fn. 10)

Elizabeth Stainton (date uncertain)

Margaret Savile, elected 1350

Alice Mountenay, occurs 1403

Cecilia Hick, occurs 1473, (fn. 11) died 1491

Joan Stansfield, elected 1491, died 1499

Margaret Tarlton, elected 1499

Margaret Fletcher, 1505

Cecilia Topcliffe, 1527

Joan Kyppes, surrendered November 1539


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 739.
  • 2. Yorks. Arch. Journ. xvi, 319-68 passim, quoting Kirklees MSS. 29.
  • 3. Ibid. xvii, 422.
  • 4. Ibid. 420-34.
  • 5. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), v, 67.
  • 6. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (1), g. 1115 (19).
  • 7. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. v, 739.
  • 8. Yorks. Arch. Journ. xvi, 321, where the authorities for each name are given.
  • 9. Assize R. 1107, m. 24.
  • 10. Baildon, Mon. Notes, i, 106.
  • 11. Corpus Christi Guild Reg. (Surt. Soc.).