Houses of Benedictine monks: Priory of Snaith

Pages 100-101

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

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The church of St. Lawrence, Snaith, (fn. 1) about the beginning of the episcopate of Gerard, (fn. 2) the Archbishop of York, was granted by him to the Abbot and convent of Selby. (fn. 3) Afterwards Snaith became a small Benedictine cell under the jurisdiction of Selby. (fn. 4) 'On 14 May 1310 the sentence of William Greenfield, Archbishop of York, was pronounced upon the appropriation of the church of Snaith . . . to the Abbot and convent of Selby, and it shall be lawful for them at their will and pleasure to place and remove two of their monks in the church of Snaith, to be continually resident; and by a secular priest (by them to be substituted and displaced) to hear the confessions of the parishioners, and to administer baptism to children, and so perpetually to serve, without any ordination of a vicar.' (fn. 5)

Before this ordination the church of Snaith had been a source of considerable revenue to Selby, being valued in 1292 at no less a yearly sum than £153 6s. 8d. (fn. 6)

A quarrel arose in 1393 between the abbot and the Duke of Lancaster concerning the church and manor of Snaith. It was attempted to include them in the liberty of the duchy. But the abbot maintained his privileges, and on 8 October 1393 issued a decree from the chapter-house affirming the rights of the abbey. (fn. 7)

Shortly after this, complaints were made because the abbot had not caused a vicarage to be ordained, but had simply had a stipendiary chaplain. The whole matter concerning the services and rights of Snaith, and the reciprocal relations of the abbey and its cell, were then settled by a decree, dated 14 March 1409, issued by Richard Pittes, the archbishop's chancellor. The settlement affirmed the complete jurisdiction of the abbey over the priory, Snaith being declared to be ' canonically united to the abbot and convent,' (fn. 8) and the decree was confirmed by the Dean and Chapter of York on 30 March 1409.

Although the cell of Snaith consisted only of two monks, one of them was styled prior, and on 12 October 1535 an order was issued from the manor court at Snaith ' that the prior, sub-monk, and all the priests of the church of Snaith, shall not go forth from their own houses, or the house in which they table together, after 8 o'clock after noon in winter, and 10 o'clock after noon in summer, on pain of forfeiting to our Lord the King 6s. 8d, for each offence.' (fn. 9)

When Selby surrendered on 6 December 1539,10 Snaith, the dependent cell, naturally went with it, and in the list of abbey pensions occurs:

'Jacobo Laye nuper priori de Sneath £6 0s. 0d.' (fn. 10)

Sir William Babthorpe and his fellow-commissioners on 23 May 1540 gave the valuation of the ' sell or parsonage of Snaythe,' over and above the stipends of two parish priests and one chantry priest, as £12 2s. per annum.


John Selby, occurs 1439 (fn. 11)

James Laye, occurs 1539, 'last Prior' (fn. 12)


  • 1. Lawton (Coll. Rerum Eccl.) erroneously gives 'St. Mary' as the dedication (155), doubtless following Bacon in Liber Regis.
  • 2. Gerard's episcopate was 1101-8.
  • 3. Torre, Peculiars, 1381.
  • 4. Burton, Mon. Ebor. 401.
  • 5. York Archiepis. Reg. Greenfield, fol. 78.
  • 6. Lawton, Coll. Rerum Eccl. 155.
  • 7. Ibid.
  • 8. Torre, Peculiars, 1382.
  • 9. Priory and Peculiar of Snáith, 35, 36. Lawton, Relig. Houses, 35.
  • 10. Morrell, Hist, of Selby, 113.
  • 11. Baildon, Mon. Notes.
  • 12. Morrell, Selby, 113; Priory and Peculiar, 35.