Gilbertine houses: Priory of Malton

Pages 253-254

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

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The priory of St. Mary at Malton was founded in 1150 by Eustace Fitz John, and endowed by him with the churches of Malton, Wintringham, and Brompton, and the vill of Linton; his son William confirmed the gift. The canons had charge of three hospital houses for feeding the poor, one in Wheelgate, another at Broughton, and a third on an island in the Derwent, on the Norton side of the river, the gift of William Flamville. William de Vesci gave the canons the church of An caster and the chapel of Sowerby. Burga, his widow, added the church of Norton, and Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, confirmed the gift of Walter Nevill of the church of Walden in Hertfordshire. (fn. 1) Walter Fitz Alan endowed the Gilbertines with land at Newton-upon-Ayr in Scotland, but the Master of Sempringham declined to build there, and leased the land to the Abbot and convent of Paisley for 40 mark; a year, to be paid to the Priors of Malton and St. Andrew's at York. (fn. 2) The possessions of Malton were confirmed in 1178 by a bull of Alexander III, declaring it to be unlawful to disturb the church of the Blessed Mary at Malton, to take away its possessions, and to harass the canons by any vexations 'now or in the future,' and King John also issued a confirmatory charter. A bull of Innocent III settled a dispute about the tithes of Sowerby belonging to the church of Wintringham, and Sir William Lascelles, kt., gave 2 bovates of land and swore to keep the terms of the agreement (fn. 3); another bull of Innocent IV to the Prior of Malton asserted that apostolic indulgence was not limited to the house of Sempringham as some affirmed. (fn. 4)

Archbishop Walter Gray presented to the vicarage of Brompton in 1237 'so that at other times no prejudice shall arise against the Prior and convent of Malton, who hold the patronage'; in 1245 an inquisition on the matter was held, and it was found that the right of presentation belonged to the Prior and convent of Malton. The living of Langton was also in the gift of the prior. (fn. 5) The accounts of Malton are extant from the years 1244 to 1257. (fn. 6) At this time the canons held land in forty-nine parishes, and had 250 tenants paying rent amounting to £60; they had a mill at Swinton let for 16s. and another at Rillington let for 15s. In. 1253, for instance, the receipts of Malton were £691 16s. 5d., the expenditure £687 0s. 10d. The papal subsidy and tallage in that year was £140 13s. 4d. About twothirds of the revenue was derived from wool, and in a good year this might amount to £400; most of the land was therefore devoted to pasture, and considerable sums were spent in buying corn—in 1254 as much as £138 13s. 4d. During the years for which the accounts remain, £478 14s, 5d. was spent in purchasing lands, and £197 17s. in hiring meadows. Yet in spite of this apparent prosperity Malton Priory had many debts; these amounted in 1255 to £251 13s. 4d. and were possibly the result of direct borrowing from the Jews. The Prior of Malton frequently paid the debts of benefactors to the priory; thus, in 1244, William of Richborough gave to the house 7 bovates in Welham, and 36½ marks of silver were paid to the Jews on his behalf, besides 3 marks, the dower of his mother, Albreda. William Redburn's debts to the Jews were also settled, and Ralph Bolbeck's gift of 60 quarterns of salt and common lands and meadows were rewarded by a settlement of his debts and provision for two men arid two horses whenever he came to Malton. (fn. 7)

Besides the transactions with the Jews, the assizes of the forest added considerably to the expenditure of the convent; £16 was paid for pleas in 1249, and between the years 1243 and 1257 £94 14s. 3d. were given as bribes to the sheriffs and bailiffs of the forest of Pickering. (fn. 8) Malton also suffered, as did Watton, from Agnes de Vescy and her ministers who, in 1283, assaulted two of the brethren, drove away cattle, and denied them food, and yet would not let them be replevied. The townsmen of Malton also made distraints on the prior contrary to his charters, and purveyors seized corn from the convent for the Scotch wars. In 1405 the prior and convent joined Scrope and Mowbray in the rebellion against Henry IV. (fn. 9) Although in 1535 the revenue was under £200, Robert Holgate's influence prevented the dissolution of the priory, which survived for four years longer. The prior was accused of taking part in the Pilgrimage of Grace and arrested, but his fate is unknown; in 1538 the commissioners in the North wrote to Cromwell that Malton would surrender if there were any commissioners to receive it, and in December 1539 the prior and nine canons gave up the last Gilbertine house. The prior received a pension of £40, and eight canons £4 each. (fn. 10)

Priors of Malton

Gilbert, occurs 1169 (fn. 11)

Roger, occurs 1178 (fn. 12)

Ralph, occurs 1195 (fn. 13)

Cyprian, occurs 1201, 1203 (fn. 14)

Adam, occurs 1214, (fn. 15) 1219 (fn. 16)

William, occurs 1235, (fn. 17) resigned 1256 (fn. 18)

John, occurs 1256, (fn. 19) 1270 (fn. 20)

William de Anecaster, c. 1278 (fn. 21)

Robert, occurs 1278, (fn. 22) 1280-4 (fn. 23)

Ranulph de Richmundia, (fn. 24) c. 1285

Geoffrey, occurs 1288 (fn. 25)

William Baudewyn, alias de Scarburg, (fn. 26) occurs 1290, (fn. 27) 1296 (fn. 28)

William, occurs 1305 (fn. 29)

Thomas de Pokelyngton, occurs 1322 (fn. 30)

William, occurs 1336 (fn. 31)

John de Wintrington, 1337, (fn. 32) 1340 (fn. 33)

John, occurs 1343 (fn. 34)

John de Wintringham, occurs 1350 (fn. 35)

Robert de Skakelthorp, occurs 1360, (fn. 36) 1365 (fn. 37)

William de Bentham, occurs 1368, 1379 (fn. 38)

William de Beverlaco, occurs 1380-1 (fn. 39)

Geoffrey de Wymeswold, occurs 1405 (fn. 40) (as Geoffrey, occurs 1425 (fn. 41) )

John Wardale, occurs 1433, (fn. 42) 1435 (fn. 43)

Richard Heworth, occurs 1459, (fn. 44) 1487 (fn. 45)

Roger, occurs 1517 (fn. 46)

Richard Felton, occurs 1524-5 (fn. 47)

William Todde, occurs 1526 to 1537 (fn. 48)

John Crashawe (fn. 49)


  • 1. Dugdale, Mon. Angl. vi, 970-2; cf. Cott. MS. Claud. D. xi, Chartulary of Malton.
  • 2. Graham, St. Gilbert of Sempringham and the Gilbertines, 47.
  • 3. Dugdale, op. cit. vi, 973.
  • 4. Graham, op. cit. 99.
  • 5. Ibid. 109.
  • 6. Ibid. 126, 127; Chartul. fol. 266-76.
  • 7. Graham, op. cit. 123, 124.
  • 8. Ibid. 79-81.
  • 9. Ibid. 153.
  • 10. Ibid. 197.
  • 11. Chartul. fol. 7.
  • 12. Ibid.
  • 13. Ibid. fol. 218 d.
  • 14. Chartul. fol. 206, 214.
  • 15. Yorks. Fines, John (Surt. Soc.), 174.
  • 16. Linc. Rec. Final Concords, 133.
  • 17. Feet of F. file 30, no. 40.
  • 18. Chartul. fol. 2.
  • 19. Ibid. fol. 65.
  • 20. Add. Chart. 35580.
  • 21. Assize R. 1101, m. 84.
  • 22. Chartul. fol. 243.
  • 23. Baildon, Mon. Notes, i, 119.
  • 24. York Archiepis. Reg. Romanus, fol. 125b, &c.; he had resigned and become, a Cistercian monk of Fountains that he might lead a sterner life.
  • 25. Baildon, Mon. Notes, i, 119. He was the immediate successor of Ranulph; Chartul. fol. 138.
  • 26. Chartul. fol. 114.
  • 27. Ibid. fol. 138.
  • 28. Ibid. fol. 49.
  • 29. Assize R. 1107, m. 2 7 d.
  • 30. Chartul. fol. 140.
  • 31. Ibid. fol. 126.
  • 32. Ibid. fol. 133.
  • 33. Ibid. fol. 140.
  • 34. Baildon, loc. cit.
  • 35. Test. Ebor. i, 63. As John de Wintrington had ceased to be prior before 1342 (Chartul. fol. 140), it was probably a coincidence that two priors with such very similar names followed one another. John, whose name occurs in 1343, was probably John de Wintringham, who seems to have been Prior of Sempringham in 1360 (ibid. fol. 290).
  • 36. Chartul. fol. 290.
  • 37. Ibid. fol. 150.
  • 38. Baildon, loc. cit.
  • 39. Subs. R. (P.R.O.), bdle. 63, no. 10.
  • 40. Pat. 6 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 10.
  • 41. Baildon, loc. cit.
  • 42. Baildon's MS. Notes.
  • 43. Baildon, loc. cit.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Test. Ebor. iv, 21.
  • 46. Conventual Leases, Yorks. (P.R.O.), no. 452.
  • 47. Ibid.
  • 48. As 'William' only; ibid. no. 450, 451, 456, 458, 459, 460, 461; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xii, 1023 (William Todde, 1537).
  • 49. Graham, op. cit. 195.