Friaries: Black friars of Beverley

Pages 263-264

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

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The friary seems to have been founded by Master Stephen Goldsmith before 1240, but the town, the Crown, and in the 16th century Lord Darcy, claimed the privileges of founders. (fn. 2) The provincial chapter was held here August 1240, the king contributing 10 marks. (fn. 3) In 1263, Henry III gave the friars fifteen oaks for timber. (fn. 4) About 1269, Archbishop Giffard forbade them in future to hear confessions of the parishioners of the churches of St. Martin and St. Mary, Beverley, except of those licensed by their vicars. (fn. 5) In 1282, Archbishop Wickwane gave 10 marks to the friars. (fn. 6) For the provincial chapter held here in 1286, Queen Eleanor gave 100s. to the provincial prior, William de Hothum (fn. 7); the archbishop (John Romanus), while excusing his attendance owing to urgent business elsewhere, promised to aid and defend the friars to the utmost of his power. (fn. 8) In 1291 the archbishop asked these friars to co-operate with him in preaching the Crusade by sending preachers on 14 September to Preston or Hedon, Ravenser, and le Wyk (i.e. Hull). (fn. 9)

Edward I, when at or passing through Beverley, gave the friars alms several times between 1299 and 1304, through friars Richard of St. Nicholas, Walter of Grimsby, Thomas of Alverton, and Luke of Woodford, his confessor. From the sums given it appears the brethren numbered thirty-two or thirty-three in 1299, increasing to thirty-eight in 1304. (fn. 10) In 1310 the number had risen to forty-two, when Edward II gave the friars 14s. for one day's food through Friar William de Burton. (fn. 11) In the years of scarcity which followed, Archbishop Greenfield gave them three quarters of corn in 1314, the king one quarter (price 10s.) in 1318, and one quarter (price 4s. 6d.) in 1320. (fn. 12) In 1328 the number of friars was thirty-two, in 1335, thirty (fn. 13); and about the end of the 15th century, fourteen. (fn. 14)

On Easter Sunday 1309 some friars admitted to the sacraments some parishioners of St. Martin's, and Friar John of Lockington even admitted an excommunicate person. At his prior's command he humbly begged pardon on bended knees of the canons of Beverley, and the prior engaged that his friars should not offend in this respect in future. (fn. 15)

The friars held their land, or a part of it, of the Archbishop of York by a rent of 4s. a year, until 1311, when Simon de Kent of Beverley granted the archbishop another rent of 4s. in exchange. (fn. 16) At the same time they sought to obtain from Thomas son of Alexander of Holm a rent of 10s. and a void piece of ground adjacent to their house; the jurors declared the grant would be prejudicial, and the royal licence was not granted. (fn. 17) Simon de Fymere gave them some land in Beverley shortly before 1329, apparently without royal licence, (fn. 18) and John Waltheof of Beverley released them from a rent of 2s. which they paid ' to the light on the beam' in the minster quire. (fn. 19)

At a general chapter of the order held in London, 1314, the Prior of Beverley was deposed. (fn. 20) The provincial chapter met here in 1324, the king contributing £15 for three days' food. (fn. 21) Friar Robert of Querndon, who had been confessor to Edward III, retired into the convent of his brethren here, and when broken with old age had an annuity of £5 assigned to him, January 1351-2, out of a rent which the Abbot of Hailes paid to the Crown. (fn. 22) William Birde, prior, and Friars Thomas Bynham and John Vele were sued by Walter Dunham in 1434 for a debt of 40s. (fn. 23) Friar William Leth, O.P. of Beverley, had licence from Eugenius IV in 1435 to hold an ecclesiastical Benefice. (fn. 24)

Early in 1449 the dormitory and library were accidentally burnt down; when Henry VI gave 10 marks 'for the relief of their great poverty and towards the rebuilding of their house.' (fn. 25)

The friars received legacies from Sir William Vavasour, kt. (1311), (fn. 26) Sir Henry Percy (1349), Sir Marmaduke le Constable, kt. (1377), William Lord Latimer (1381), William de Chiltenham, vicar of the chapel of Holy Trinity of Kingston-upon-Hull (1388), Patrick de Barton, rector of Catwick (1391), and many others, (fn. 27) including Robert Fisher, mercer of Beverley (1477), the father of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester. (fn. 28) John de Hesile of Beverley was buried in the cloister in 1349, next his wife Beatrice. (fn. 29) Thomas Hilton, clerk (1428), willed to be buried in the church within the south door next ' le haliwater fatt.' (fn. 30) In the quire before the high altar were interred the remains of ' Elena de Wak, daughter and heiress of Lord le Wak,' and a long list of burials in the church drawn up by John Wriothesley, garter, about 1500 is extant. (fn. 31) Among the names are several of the Darcys. In 1524 the friars agreed with Thomas Lord Darcy, K.G., by reason of his great liberality, to make him and his wife partakers in all spiritual suffrages in the convent, and to keep their obits, under pain if they failed to carry out the agreement of paying 20s. to the Provost of St. John's, Beverley, and 10s. ' to the behoof of the scholars of the Friars Preachers in Oxford.' The seals of the provincial Robert Miles, S.T.P., the prior Henry Aglionby, S.T.B., and the convent were attached to the deed, for which Lord Darcy paid £5. (fn. 32)

Two 14th-century manuscripts formerly belonging to the Black Friars of Beverley are now at Oxford; one contains works of St. Augustine, Gregory, Seneca, and others (fn. 33); the other, containing a number of Quaestiones attributed to Thomas Aquinas, was in 1450 lent or given by Friar Robert Stanniforth, O.P. of Beverley, to William Mayne. (fn. 34)

On 4 July 1534 Dr. George Browne visited the friary (in accordance with the royal commission issued 13 April), and had no difficulty in obtaining the friars' acknowledgement of the royal supremacy. (fn. 35) The house was surrendered to Richard of Ingworth, suffragan Bishop of Dover, 26 February 1538-9. (fn. 36) The plate was sent to the royal treasury. (fn. 37) The lands attached to the house, which lay on the north-east of the minster, amounted to about 4½ acres, and were valued at 17s. 8d. a year. Besides this, the friars held land in ' Coldon Magna' within the liberty of Beverley, the rent of which was 2s. 4d. (fn. 38)


Walter of Grimsby, (fn. 39) 1309

Hugh of Leicester, (fn. 40) 1312

William Birde, (fn. 41) 1434

Henry Aglionby, (fn. 42) 1524

Robert Hill, (fn. 43) 1539

The seal is pointed oval, and shows St. Dominic standing in a canopied niche with nimbus, in the right hand a book, in the left a sword. Legend: SIGILLŪ PRIORIS FRATR[Ū] ORDINIS DICATO BEŪLACI. (fn. 44)


  • 1. See ' The Friars Preachers or Black Friars of Beverley,' by the Rev. C. F. R. Palmer, Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 32-43.
  • 2. Coll. Topog. et Gen. iv, 129; Leland, Itin. i, 47; Exch. Issue R. East. 27 Hen. VI, m. 3.
  • 3. Liberate R. 24 Hen. III, m. 7.
  • 4. Close, 47 Hen. III, m. 6.
  • 5. Archbp. Giffard's Reg. (Surt. Soc.), 226.
  • 6. Fasti Ebor. i, 323.
  • 7. Exch, Accts. (P.R.O.), bdle. 352, no. 7.
  • 8. Hist. P. and L. from the Northern. Reg. (Rolls Ser.}, 86.
  • 9. Ibid. 95.
  • 10. Exch. Accts. (P.R.O.), bdle. 356, no. 21; Liber Quotid. 28 Edw. I. (ed. Topham), 25, 37; Add. MS. 7966 A, fol. 25;; 8835, fol. 5.
  • 11. Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 34.
  • 12. Ibid.; Fasti Ebor. i, 394; Add. MS. 17362, fol. 6. Archbishop Melton gave them 20s. in 1328; Hist. P. and L. from the N. Reg. (Rolls Ser.), 377.
  • 13. Exch. Accts. bdle. 387, no. 9; Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 34.
  • 14. Coll. Topog. et Gen. iv, 130.
  • 15. Beverley Chap. Act Bks. (Surt. Soc.), i, 243.
  • 16. Pat. 5 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 11.
  • 17. Inq. a.q.d. file 73, no. 5; Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 33. Richard de Holme 1366, and John de Holme 1421, desired to be buried in this church; Poulson, Beverlac, 767-8.
  • 18. Pat. 3 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 9.
  • 19. Beverley Chap. Act Bks, (Surt. Soc.), i, p. lxxv; B. M. Lansd. Chart. 214.
  • 20. Monum. Ordinis Praedicatorum Hist. (ed. Reichert), iv, 73.
  • 21. Exch. Issue R. East. 16 Edw. III, m. 11.
  • 22. Pat. 26 Edw. III, pt. i, m. 33.
  • 23. Baildon, Mon. Notes (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), i, 10.
  • 24. Add. MS. 32446, fol. 58. Cal. Papal Letters, viii, 542.
  • 25. Issues of the Exch. (ed. Devon), 463.
  • 26. Reg. Pal. Dunelm. (Rolls Ser.), i, 333. In 1312 the nuncupative will of J. de Harpham was proved by Hugh of Leicester, prior of the Friars Preachers, John of Lockington, O.P., and John of Grimsby, chaplain; Beverley Chap. Act Bks. (Surt. Soc.), i, 301-2.
  • 27. Test. Ebor. (Surt, Soc.), passim.
  • 28. Ibid. iii, 227.
  • 29. B. M. Lansd. Chart. 304.
  • 30. Test. Ebor. i, 414. Stephen Coppendale desired to be buried here, Jan. 1413-14; ibid. iv, 7 n.
  • 31. Coll. Topog. et Gen. iv, 129, reprinted in Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 37.
  • 32. Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 39-40, from Poulson, Beverlac, 768-70, and Aug. Chart. O. 16. Cf. 'The Austin Friars of York' in this volume.
  • 33. Univ. Coll. Oxf. MS. 6.
  • 34. Corpus Christi Coll. Oxf. MS. 225.
  • 35. L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 953.
  • 36. Wright, Suppression, 191.; Ellis, Orig. L. (ser. 3), iii, 179. The date is given in Mins. Accts. 30-1 Hen. VIII, no, 166.
  • 37. Acct. of Mon. Treasure (Abbotsford Club), 17.
  • 38. Mins. Accts. 30-1 Hen. VIII (Yorks.), no. 166.
  • 39. Beverley Chap. Act Bks. (Surt. Soc.), i, 243.
  • 40. Ibid. 302. Deposed in 1314 (see above).
  • 41. Baildon, Mon. Notes (Yorks. Arch. Soc.), i, 10.
  • 42. He was in the London convent at the time of the dissolution.
  • 43. Mins. Accts. 29-30 Hen. VIII, 166.
  • 44. B. M. Seals, lxxiv, 21. Engraved in Yorks. Arch. Journ. vii, 41, and Poulson, Beverlac, 780.