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Title: The dissolution of the monasteries

As illustrated by the suppression of the religious houses of Staffordshire

Author: Francis Aidan Hibbert

Release date: April 16, 2024 [eBook #73403]

Language: English

Original publication: London: Sir Isaac Pitman and sons, 1910

Credits: MWS, Karin Spence and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)










NO. 1 AMEN CORNER, E.C. 1910

Printed by Sir Isaac Pitman
& Sons, Ltd., London, Bath
and New York   1910



The following study of the Dissolution of the Monasteries will be found to have the following characteristics: (1) there are few references to books on the general subject of the Suppression; and (2) it is concerned with the County of Staffordshire alone.

I hope it will not be inferred that I have learnt nothing from the scholars who have dealt with the subject, as such is very far from being the case. But I desired to investigate the history without being influenced by prepossessions and prejudices, and I have accordingly tried to work with a perfectly open mind. I have looked first at the facts, which have been obtained nearly always at first hand, and only then have I drawn deductions. The reason why I have strictly limited myself to Staffordshire is explained in my first chapter. I have made no attempt to fit the Staffordshire history into the general history of England: if the two do not always run on parallel lines it is all the more useful that the divergences should appear.

Not seldom my deductions may be wrong, but the facts upon which they are based are always given very clearly and fully, and I must confess that in working out my book in my own way I have had cause to modify, and even to reverse, a good many of my earlier opinions. The history of the Dissolution of the Staffordshire monasteries gives strong support to the view that[vi] the suppression by Henry VIII and Cromwell was prompted far less by anti-papal necessities than by sheer cupidity, and not at all for moral reasons.

Most of the documents which are given in full are printed from the originals. Some of those in the Appendix have been printed previously, but none, I think, in books easily accessible to ordinary readers.

Professor Savine’s book on Valor Ecclesiasticus appeared while my own was being written and after most of it was completed. I observe with some trepidation that my conclusions differ from his in not a few particulars, some of which are not unimportant. Nevertheless, I venture with all diffidence to state my opinions: they were independently formed, and perhaps it is as well that local peculiarities should be noted for comparison with generalisations for the whole country.

Francis Aidan Hibbert.

Denstone College,



List of Printed Books to which References are made

(See Preface)

Annales Monastici, Vol. I, edited by H. R. Luard, 1864.

Bacon, J., Liber Regis sen Thesaurus rerum ecclesiasticarum, 1786.

Bazin, René, The Nun (a novel).

Burnet, Gilbert, The History of the Reformation of the Church of England. 4 vols., 1839.

Burton-on-Trent Chartulary, printed in Salt Collections, Vol. V, Pt. I and Derbyshire Arch. Soc., Vol. II.

Calendars of the Patent Rolls—Edward I, 1281–92, 1292–1301, Edward II, 1307–13, 1313–18; Richard II, 1377–81; Henry IV, 1405–8; Henry VI, Vol. II.

Calendars of State Papers, Domestic, 1547–80, 1601–1603 (Addenda, 1547–65), 1603–10.

Collections for a History of Staffordshire, published by the William Salt Archæological Society, cited as “Salt Collections.”

Cunningham, William, The Growth of English History and Commerce (Vol. I), 1896.

Derbyshire Archæological and Natural History Society, Journal of, Vol. VII, 1885.

Description of Leicestershire, A, William Burton, 1622.

Dictionary of National Biography, 63 vols., 1885–1900.

Dieulacres Chartulary, printed in Salt Collections, Vol. IX, new series.

Dugdale, Sir William, Monasticon Anglicanum, 6 vols., 1830 (cited as Monasticon).

Encyclopædia Britannica, 9th Edn., 1875–88.

Froude, J. A., History of England from the Fall of Wolsey, 12 vols., 1893.

Gairdner, James, The English Church in the Sixteenth Century, 1904.

Gasquet, Francis Aidan, Henry VIII and the English Monasteries, 1 vol., 1899.

Green, John Richard, A Short History of the English People, 1898.

Letters and Papers ... of the Reign of Henry VIII, 18 vols., 1862–1901.


Monasticism in Staffordshire, F. A. Hibbert, 1909.

Monasticon, see Dugdale.

Morison, J. C., The Life and Times of Saint Bernard.

Norbury, Roger [Bishop of Lichfield 1322–59], his Register, printed in Salt Collections, Vol. I.

Rogers, Thorold, The Economic Interpretation of History, 1888.

Salt Collections, see Collections for a History of Staffordshire.

Sleigh, John, A History of the Ancient Parish of Leek, 2nd Edn., 1883.

State Papers, Henry VIII, Part I, 1830.

Statutes at Large, 1758.

Stretton, Robert [Bishop of Lichfield 1360–85], his 2nd Register, 1360–85, printed in Salt Collections, Vol. VIII, new series.

Strype, John, Ecclesiastical Memorials, 6 vols., Oxford, 1822.

Stubbs, William, Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, Oxford, 1858.

 „ „ Seventeen Lectures on the Study of Medieval and Modern History, 1887.

Valor Ecclesiasticus, temp. Hen. VIII, auctoritate regia institutus, 6 vols., 1810–34.

Wright, Thomas, Letters relating to the Suppression of Monasteries, Camden Society, 1843.



6. SUMMARY 278


The Dissolution of the Monasteries


In one of the earlier chapters of a brilliantly written history[1] dealing with the sixteenth century the glory of English hospitality is enlarged upon. It was a time, we are told, “when every door was opened to a request for a meal or a night’s lodging,” and among other examples we are given the instance that “two hundred poor were fed daily at the house of Thomas Cromwell.” Moreover, we are assured that “there was little fear of an abuse of such license.” Yet presently we find the monasteries censured in the severest language for their demoralising charity, and picturesquely and forcibly condemned as “nurseries of dishonest mendicancy.” No explanation is vouchsafed as to why the alms of the monks were more demoralising than those of the nobles.

This is a good illustration of the way the whole subject of the Dissolution of the Monasteries has been often treated.

Sentiment and prejudice enter largely, and perhaps inevitably, into the whole subject. Even so prosaic[2] an aspect as the financial one has given occasion for the most contradictory opinions. The vast possessions of the monasteries, their enormous wealth, the large immunities from taxation which they enjoyed, their robbery of the parish churches, have all been dilated upon for three centuries and a half. The monastic income, where figures have been given, ranges from Speed’s £171,300 to Burnet’s £131,607. Abbot Gasquet says the monastic lands amounted to two million acres. A Jacobite pamphleteer of 1717 asserted that the monks possessed seven-tenths of the whole land: more sober writers have estimated less extravagantly. J. R. Green said it was a fifth, and Dr. Gairdner says a third. Writers have often told of “hordes of idle men and women” in the religious houses. Dr. Gasquet affirms that the number was 8,081, with “more than ten times that number of people who were their dependents or otherwise obtained a living in their service:” the total population of England being some four millions, this gives a proportion of one in forty-three.

It is obvious that there remains much to be desired in the way of definiteness and exactness on many points. The following pages are an attempt to do something in this direction by investigating facts and by going to the fountain head. All unsupported statements and mere opinions have been rigorously disregarded: they are generally, and sometimes obviously, guesswork only. The actual figures of authoritative documents alone have been dealt with. In this way it is hoped that some conclusions have been reached which rest upon solid foundations.


Only the county of Stafford has been considered. If it be objected that, the work being thus restricted in scope, the results must be of limited application, it may be pointed out that there are compensating advantages. The material is comparatively manageable. The details, bewildering and difficult of explanation though they often are, are comparatively amenable. Acquaintance with localities may sometimes render assistance. The results, therefore, may gain in precision what they lack in range, and though the writer does not suppose he has succeeded, or nearly succeeded, in solving all or many of the problems which arise, yet he hopes that he has been able to accomplish something. Possibly the national aspect of the whole subject must wait for final treatment until the work of local investigators has been completed.

Reliable information has been sought on such points as the following: the amount of the monastic wealth, its sources and burdens, the relative proportions from temporal and spiritual sources, the extent to which parish churches were “robbed,” the solvency or otherwise of the religious houses, the extent of their charity, the amount of educational work they carried on, their character as landlords, the part they took in the agricultural changes of the period, the material effects of their suppression, and other subjects of a kindred nature. It must be acknowledged at once that the results vary much in character. The data are often difficult to interpret and are sometimes too scanty to be of much use in drawing general conclusions of any value.

In particular it has proved to be quite impossible to[4] attempt any estimate of the area of monastic lands. The situation and character of the various possessions can be found, and the income derived from each, but the acreage is seldom given, and no attempt has been made to reckon the extent from the value. Such an attempt has been sometimes made, usually by proposing a ratio between income and acreage. It is generally supposed that the occupied area of England was about thirty-two millions of acres. Thorold Rogers states that at the time of the Dissolution “the rent of agricultural land was from 6d. to 8d. an acre.” It is true that the greater part of the land held by the monasteries was probably agricultural, so that if we divide some estimates which have been given of the total monastic income by 7d. we obtain the following results:

£171,300 (Speed) ÷ 7d. = 5,873,143 acres or about two-elevenths of the whole.

£131,607 (Burnet) ÷ 7d. = 4,512,240 acres, or more than one-seventh of the whole.

A similar calculation for Staffordshire (748,433 acres), taking the figures to be given in Chapter IV, would give the following results:

Gross total monastic income, £1,874 0s. 1½d. ÷ 7d. = 64,251 acres, or more than one-eleventh of the whole county;

Net monastic income, £1,608 5s. 2¾d. ÷ 7d. = 55,140 acres, or more than one-thirteenth of the whole county.

But all such calculations are really worthless. It is quite impossible to arrive at any figure which represents[5] the average income per acre. No doubt Thorold Rogers is correct enough when he gives the rent. But all sorts of deductions and allowances have to be made from the rent before the net income is obtained. Moreover, the monastic income was not wholly derived from land, and the land was held by a great variety of tenures, etc. The only possible way of arriving at anything like a correct estimate of the total area of monastic land, failing a complete rent roll and survey for each house, would be to work carefully through the surveys which were made when the property came into the hands of the Crown, the “particulars for grants” which were drawn up on behalf of applicants for grants and leases, and the grants and leases themselves. Even so the task would be one of extraordinary difficulty and complexity. More often than not the monastic lands were not granted in their entirety. They remained in the hands of the Crown till a good purchaser could be found for all or part, and a good bargain struck. There was sub-letting to a bewildering extent. The process went on for years, and all sorts of people obtained grants and leases of the monastic property, often in quite small portions. In 1540 John Smythe, a Yeoman of the Guard, obtained a grant for life of most of the possessions of the Dominican Friars at Newcastle, while in the following year Francis, Earl of Shrewsbury, is found negotiating for a single messuage and lands in Rocester which had belonged to the Abbey there, and at the opposite end of the social scale we find a butcher of Stone, named William Plante, obtaining lands in Walton which had belonged to Stone Priory. Again[6] and again lands are no sooner obtained than they are re-sold. For instance, Trentham was only surrendered in 1536, yet in 1538 the Duke of Suffolk procured a license to alienate; James Leveson secured Rushton Grange from the spoils of Hulton Abbey in 1539, and immediately sold it to Biddulph of Biddulph; in 1541 Sir John Gifford obtained license to alienate the rectory and advowson of Milwich, which had belonged to Stone Priory. In March, 1541, Sir John Dudley obtained a grant in fee of most of the possessions of Dudley Priory: in a couple of months he received a license to alienate part. Such examples, a few out of many, illustrate the appalling complexity of the task to which we have alluded, and show also that any inquiry into the original grants of the lands of the religious houses would throw little light upon the permanent results of the transfer of the monastic property. It would indicate at best who were the shrewdest bargainers and the readiest speculators.

The merely financial aspects of the problem can be investigated with better prospect of success. Bishop Stubbs, with characteristic caution, said that “the income from the monasteries cannot be stated in reasonable figures”[2] and this is no doubt true if we desire to estimate the whole extent of the wealth which passed from the Church at the time of the Dissolution. Full details, especially of the valuables in the churches and other movables, can never be obtained. But there is a good deal of material for arriving, approximately at any rate, at such things as annual income and expenditure, and if we can discover those we shall obtain[7] figures and facts which will be of great service in many ways.

Many counties had far wealthier monasteries than Staffordshire. The richest counties in England in this respect were Yorkshire and Middlesex, but both of these are exceptional, the former by reason of its disproportionate area, and the latter because it contains the City of London and many of its suburbs. Somerset and Lincolnshire were placed next by their trading centres, and Kent by its position on the main road between the capital and the Continent. Of the remaining thirty-four English counties (excluding Monmouthshire), Staffordshire came twenty-fifth in monastic wealth, the following being poorer: Durham, Cumberland, Northumberland, Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Derby, Hereford, Westmoreland and Rutland. The last-named possessed only a single house.

Staffordshire, with a total monastic wealth of some £1,600 annual net income,[3] comes in a group which includes the following counties: Shropshire (£1,966), Lancashire (£1,698), Durham (£1,515), Cumberland (£1,311) and Northumberland (£1,177).[4] It takes its comparatively low position not because it possessed any houses of exceptional smallness or poverty at the time the valuation from which the above figures were taken (1535), but because all the houses were of moderate size without there being any very wealthy abbeys to inflate exceptionally the total. The richest house in the county, Burton Abbey, was only rated at £412 5s.[8] net income.[5] On the whole the Staffordshire houses represent the monasteries of average income, with no great and famous abbeys to monopolise the attention and interest and to introduce exceptional elements. The history of the suppression in Staffordshire will illustrate the suppression of the ordinary religious houses. That of the great and famous abbeys is well known, but it will be interesting to see how the ordinary average houses fell.

The Staffordshire monasteries were, however, sufficiently varied in situation and character to make their history worth studying. They were by no means all of one type, nor were they all, in the sixteenth century, similarly circumstanced. They represented the four great orders of monks: Benedictine, Austin, Cluniac, and Cistercian, and there were houses of Dominican and Franciscan Friars, as well as of the later Austin Friars. Burton Abbey was a house large enough to be involved in national politics; Calwich was so insignificant that the Government was able to suppress it illegally without protest or remark. Between these were some dozen houses, small enough to come within the scope of the Act for the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, yet nearly all able to purchase exemption from its provisions. Some, like Stone, stood close to busy highways; some, like Croxden, in its secluded valley, lay remote from towns and even villages; others stood near the well-to-do market towns of Stafford, Leek, and Lichfield. They had originated in various ways. St. Modwen’s Abbey at Burton-on-Trent was the foundation of Wulfric Spot, patriot[9] and soldier, in 1004; where the road crossed the Trent he founded and richly endowed the Benedictine abbey on a site which already had sacred associations. Beside it grew a flourishing town. In its Scriptorium was compiled one of the most valuable of the English monastic chronicles. Kings and prelates lodged within its walls. Burton Abbey played a part in national history more than once. Another Benedictine house arose before the Norman Conquest. Burchard, the third son of Algar, whose other sons were the traitors Edwin and Morcar, accompanied Archbishop Aldred to Rome when he went to fetch his pallium and to obtain papal authorization for the privileges of the Confessor’s new abbey at Westminster. Returning, Burchard fell ill at Rheims, and, dying, was buried within the precincts of the Abbey of St. Remigius there. In gratitude Algar gave to St. Remigius the “villa” of Lapley in Staffordshire, and a priory was built there as a cell dependent on the house at Rheims. In acknowledgment of the help which the Norman invaders had received from the prayers of the Norman monks, Henry de Ferrers established near his castle at Tutbury a priory dependent on the great Abbey of St. Peter-sur-Dive. More worldly motives caused the erection of other houses. Trentham was founded by Hugh, Earl of Chester, as a help towards re-establishing the authority and pre-eminence he had lost in Staffordshire when the Palatine Earldom of Chester was created. Robert de Stafford re-founded Stone as an Austin Priory in order to assist in the building up of a great estate in the district (c. 1130). Trentham became an Austin Priory when Earl Ralf of Chester left, on his[10] death-bed, 100 solidates of Trentham Manor to restore it. The vicar of the parish, John, who was the Earl’s Chaplain, became Prior, and for thirty years the endowment continued to be paid to him alone. Not till 1195 was it transferred to “the Canons.”

Such an arrangement illustrates the distinctive feature of the Austin Canons. They lived in modified seclusion. They were parish priests living in community. The rule of St. Augustine represented an attempt at monastic reform by the method of compromise. Other Austin Priories were: Rocester, founded in 1146 by Richard Bacon, nephew of the Earl of Chester; Calwich, given to Kenilworth by Nicholas de Gresley Fitz Nigel; St. John’s, Lichfield, built by Bishop Roger de Clinton when he raised strong walls round the Cathedral close in the reign of Stephen; Ronton, founded by Robert Fitz Noel, who had obtained an estate in Staffordshire through his marriage to the daughter of Bishop Robert de Limesey (1086–1117), as a cell to Haughmond; and St. Thomas’s, Stafford. The origin of the last was particularly interesting. Richard de Peche, Bishop of the Diocese, was one of the friends of Becket. He took part in his consecration, and soon after the murder he dedicated a priory at Stafford to the memory of St. Thomas the Martyr, on land given by a wealthy burgess. When he felt his own end approaching, soon after, he resigned the bishopric and retired to the priory, where shortly after he died and was buried (1182).

The relations between the Austin Canons and the parishes were close, as we have seen. Portions of their houses were often used as parish churches. Just[11] as the Vicar at Trentham became the head of the priory also, so at Stone the priory absorbed the church. At Rocester there was such doubt in the fourteenth century as to the proper place at which the parishioners ought to make their Easter Communions that the matter had to be referred to Bishop Norbury, and he left the matter undecided. At the dissolution of the Priory the parishioners were able to secure three bells for their own use on the plea that these had wont to be rung for parochial services as well as for those of the Canons. When the bishop cited to his visitations the churchwardens and synodsmen (“sidesmen”) of the churches served by Austin priories, he wrote to the Convents. It was often the practice, for instance at Rocester, for the senior canon, next after the Prior, to hold the vicarage.

The Cluniac Order was a revision of the Benedictine rule. Its object was to bring reform; but the abolition of the obligation to perform manual labour, which formed so excellent a feature of the original Benedictine system, merely increased opportunities for idleness. The earliest Cluniac house in Staffordshire arose at Canwell, in the reign of Stephen. It was the foundation, in 1142, of the widow of Justice Geoffrey Ridel, who had perished twenty years before in the disaster to the White Ship. Another Cluniac house was built at Dudley, as a cell to Wenlock. It was founded by Gervase Paganel, Baron of Dudley (1161), in fulfilment of his father’s intentions.

The Cistercian Order was another revision of the Benedictine rule. Instead of relaxing the strictness of the original rule, the Cistercians aimed at increased[12] austerity and simplicity. In the reign of Stephen a small company of recluses fled from the anarchy and lawlessness around them to Radmore, in the recesses of Cannock Chase. For some years they lived, men and women, independently of any of the recognised Orders, but the place was too remote and the state of the country too disorderly for such a defenceless position. They soon had to join one of the great Orders. By the advice of the Empress Matilda they chose the Cistercian and dismissed the women. But food was difficult to obtain, the foresters made frequent depredations, life became impossible even for Cistercians, and they had to remove to Stoneleigh, in Warwickshire.

The Cistercians, whose rule ordered in civitatibus, castellis, villis, nulla nostra construenda sunt cenobia, sed in locis a conversatione hominum semotis, had to wait another generation before they could obtain a footing in the county. They must follow, not precede, order and police. The establishment of a Cistercian house, therefore, is an evident token that law reigned in the district where it arose. The Cistercians aimed at being, not scholars and statesmen such as the Benedictines had become, but farmers, and this feature commended them to all who desired the cultivation and civilisation of the waste tracts into which the Benedictines had never penetrated. The latter had become great landowners, with numerous flourishing towns belonging to them, and wide estates well cultivated. The land unoccupied by the Benedictines was wild and rough, but offering opportunities for pasturage. To pasturage, therefore, the Cistercians devoted themselves; and the growth of the wool trade,[13] which arose almost at the same time as they came into favour, made them masters of the most profitable branch of English industry.

Bertram de Verdun, lord of Alton, occupied a middle position between the old feudal aristocracy and the new men who were becoming their rivals. He married Earl Ferrers’ niece, and by his father’s marriage was connected with Geoffrey de Clinton, Henry I’s Chamberlain. He himself was one of Henry II’s most trusted and trustworthy officials. On a visit to his relative, the Constable of Normandy, he was taken to see the Cistercian house which the Constable’s step-father had founded. De Verdun was so impressed that he determined to found a similar house in Staffordshire, where the growth of law and order gave opportunity for developing his lands. He requested the Abbot of Aunay to send some of his monks to the site he offered near Alton. Two years later (1180) they removed to a more suitable spot a few miles distant, where the beautiful ruins of Croxden Abbey still stand. They well illustrate the simplicity which characterised Cistercian architecture, though the church was almost unique among houses of the order in England in having a semi-circular apse with five radiating chapels, instead of the usual plain square end.[6] This was copied from the parent house at Aunay, and it emphasises the peculiarity that Croxden, unlike most of the Cistercian abbeys in England, was the offshoot of a foreign house.

Farther northwards the Cistercians could not yet penetrate. But the Earls of Chester were meanwhile[14] engaged in developing the estates they held there, and early in the thirteenth century Ralf Blundeville, who played an independent and honourable part in the difficult and dishonourable times of King John’s reign, was strong enough to take definite steps. He established a market at Leek in 1208. In 1214, the very year when the Papal Legate received at Burton Abbey Archbishop Langton’s spirited protest against his intrusion into the affairs of the State and Church of England, Ralf Blundeville founded the abbey at Dieulacres. The site was a little north of Leek. He gave it to the Cistercians, the skilful farmers and agriculturists, bestowing upon them wide lands and extensive privileges. They were to be his agents for the civilisation of the Moorlands, and well they performed their work. Soon afterwards a third Cistercian house was founded at Hulton by Henry de Audley, constable of the neighbouring castle of Newcastle-under-Lyme, who had for some time been engaged in building up an estate there. Hulton Abbey had, later, a pottery where tiles and other articles were made. There were nunneries at Brewood, on the western border of the county, and at Fairwell, near the road between Lichfield and Rugeley. Both were Benedictine. The friars reached Staffordshire in the reign of Henry III. There were Grey Friars at Lichfield and Stafford and Black Friars at Newcastle-under-Lyme. At Radford, near Stafford, a house of Lepers, with a master and friars of the Holy Sepulchre, stood for some time. The house of the Austin Friars, at Stafford, was founded by Ralf, Baron of Stafford, in the reign of Edward III. At Lees the Priory of[15] Rocester maintained a chantry, or cell. The Knights Templars had a Preceptory at Keele.

The monasteries and nunneries were usually well endowed, and most of them became possessed of considerable worldly possessions. The records of the Dissolution disclose lists of manors, granges, tenements, water-mills, fulling mills, and salt pans, which produced large revenues. From appropriated livings, tithes and oblations were drawn away from the places where they were paid, for the benefit of the distant monastery. Fees were sometimes paid on admission to the Community. Did a son obtain ordination through the help of the monks, how could the father better show his gratitude than by making them a gift? Lights and masses were endowed. The monks had command of ready money and were able to lend to those who required cash, it might be to those overtaken by sudden necessity or to some desirous of making a pilgrimage. When a verderer of Cannock, in the thirteenth century, rendered himself liable to the severe penalties of the Forest Laws, he fled for his life beyond the seas and sold his manor to St. Thomas’s Priory at Stafford.[7] Corrodies originally were a form of life assurance.[8] For a lump sum Dieulacres sold a corrody to a Jew, consisting of food and clothing for life.[9] It was an attractive though shortsighted method of obtaining money or lands, for the corrodies sometimes entailed a severe strain, and there are complaints of[16] the non-fulfilment of the obligations. In 1294 the Prior of Stone was fined for having wrongfully deprived a man of his corrody, which consisted of a daily loaf of bread and a gallon of ale, with a canon’s habit worth a mark yearly, provender for horse and keep for groom, four cartloads of wood annually, and two candles a night from Hallowmas to Candlemas.[10] Corrodies led to further difficulties. Founders and kings claimed the right of nomination. So early as Edward I’s reign Dieulacres had a contention with the King on the subject. Such demands often became a grave abuse, and there are numberless instances, especially in such reigns as those of Edward II and Richard II, of the quartering on the monasteries of discharged soldiers and worn-out officials. The Bishop of Lichfield once demanded from Tutbury a corrody for his cook, but Archbishop Peckham forbade it to be granted. The practice continued to the very end. Even so late as 1532 we find the servants of the Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII’s natural son, billeted in the English monasteries during their master’s absence on the Continent.[11]

Monastic hospitality was often grievously abused. No doubt when kings and other great men lodged in the monasteries they usually made some acknowledgment. But the Priory of Stone complained to Bishop Norbury (1322–59) that it was impoverished by the many claims which were made on its hospitality by travellers of every degree in consequence of its being juxta viam regiam, and in 1382 Burton made a similar complaint to the Pope. In the early years of Henry[17] VI’s reign Burton was absolutely insolvent and was put into commission for seven years.[12]

Many houses had the privilege of holding fairs and markets. Croxden, Dieulacres, Rocester and Burton did a brisk trade with foreign wool merchants in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and their wool was almost unexcelled in England. Edward III once exacted 600 sacks of wool from Staffordshire at a low rate, and the Croxden annalist says he failed to pay even that. Sometimes the business transactions of the monks were questionable: In 1457 the Prior of St. Thomas’s, Stafford, was sued for £10 damages for having sold a horse sciens equum illum in varias infirmitates collapsum et ad laborandum impotentem.[13] Sometimes, especially in the case of the friars in the towns, strong opposition was raised. In 1282 the King had to intervene to protect the friars minors at Stafford, as it appeared that certain regrators put hindrances in the way of their purchasing even daily victuals, and at times even snatched out of their hands what they had bought.[14]

But the religious rendered real services to the towns. Burton grew up beside the Abbey walls, built very largely under the direction of the abbots through many generations. Abbot Nicholas built the first street in the twelfth century, and the fifteenth abbot, Thomas de Felde, built the great hall in the market place. Later still Abbot Beyne founded the Grammar School.

Of these houses the following remained till the sixteenth century: Brewood Nunnery, Burton Abbey,[18] Calwich Priory, Canwell Priory, Croxden Abbey, Dieulacres Abbey, Dudley Priory, Fairwell Nunnery, Hulton Abbey, Rocester Abbey, Ronton Priory, Sandwell Priory, St. Thomas’s Priory at Stafford, St. John’s Priory at Lichfield, Stone Priory, Trentham Priory, and Tutbury Priory; and the friaries at Lichfield, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme. It is with the dissolution of these that we shall be concerned. They were not pre-eminent for size, wealth, vice or virtue; they did not give to the history of the Reformation any famous names or contribute any striking episodes. They represent, rather, the ordinary “rank and file” of the religious houses. For that reason they are, perhaps, the better worth investigation, because they are typical of the average.

It is the exceptional which attracts attention, but it is the ordinary which better represents the truth. If, therefore, we can obtain a correct estimate of the conditions of the Staffordshire houses at the time of their surrender we may fairly safely accept it as a tolerably accurate picture of the condition of English monasticism as a whole. The accounts which the records give of the manner and details of the suppression in Staffordshire represent in all probability the ordinary course of that great undertaking everywhere. The results which followed, the settlements which were made, and the new arrangements which became necessary in Staffordshire, are probably typical of those which followed in the great majority of places. By restricting our scrutiny we may obtain a better view.



The Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII is popularly represented as an isolated act, standing alone in the nation’s history. Except that it was on an exceptionally large scale, such is very far from being the fact. It was, indeed, only the last stage in a process which had long been in progress. The Suppression, in 1312, of the Knights Templars, who had a Preceptory in Staffordshire at Keele, was the first great destruction of a Religious Order, and it must not be forgotten that it was the work of the Papacy. A century later Henry V, for financial and political reasons, suppressed the Alien Priories, Lapley, in Staffordshire, among them. During the following hundred years, which intervene before we arrive at the time with which we are more immediately concerned, such great ecclesiastics as Wykeham, Chichele, Waynflete, Fisher, and Alcock, had all laid hands on monastic wealth for educational purposes. Even the great Dissolution of the sixteenth century was no idea suddenly conceived at the moment. It was itself, again, the last phase of a movement which naturally developed. It was one of the Acts of a great drama.

The suppressions of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries had fatally weakened the idea that property devoted to religious purposes was for ever inviolable. The intentions of Founders could no longer be sacrosanct. The tendency was, not even to ask whether[20] the monasteries were fulfilling the objects for which they had been founded, but rather, whether they were needed. The New Learning had little respect for old foundations, and Staffordshire had an early example of the way it would deal with endowments.

William Smythe was Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry from 1493 to 1496. As Lord President of the Welsh Marches he was mainly employed in unepiscopal work, Thomas Fort, Prior of Stone, acting as his suffragan. He founded Brasenose College, at Oxford, and boldly diverted monastic endowments into new channels. In 1495 he suppressed the Austin Priory of St. John at Lichfield, and used the site and property for a Grammar School and Almshouses. Such action obviously indicates that at Lichfield, at any rate, there was neglect of charity and education by the “religious,” otherwise Bishop Smythe would have had no need to suppress St. John’s Priory.

Bishop Smythe was an early Wolsey, on a small scale. The Cardinal, like the Bishop, was a politician rather than an ecclesiastic, and he, too, laid bold hands on monastic endowments for educational purposes.

Of course Wolsey’s work was much more important than Bishop Smythe’s, and the history of Staffordshire shows in some measure how it was accomplished. He became Chancellor in 1515 and sought from the Pope visitatorial powers over the English monasteries. Such authority for a royal official was little of a novelty. The King had always claimed to have considerable power in the religious houses, and had often exercised it. The royal license was necessary before a new Superior could be elected, and during the vacancy[21] the temporalities were taken over and administered by royal officials. The election, when made, required the royal assent. In all sorts of ways the royal power made itself felt in the religious houses. It was continually interfering in their internal affairs, as we shall see fully when we approach the time of the General Dissolution. It was able to bring such considerable influence to bear in elections that requests were made for headships just as for other appointments which were properly in the gift of the Government.[15] The right of nominating to corrodies, always claimed and constantly exercised, would of itself ensure the presence of representatives of the King and his opinions in the religious houses. How widely the right was interpreted in the sixteenth century may be gathered from the claim made by the Duke of Richmond, Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, in 1532. In that year he wrote from Calais to the Prior of Tutbury, informing him that he had been sent on a mission to France and that the King’s pleasure was that such of his servants as remained behind in England should be established in religious houses, “of whom,” the letter says, “Robert Amyas, clerk of my jewel house, is appointed to abide at your monastery.”[16] Even so recently as 1490 the King had exercised the powers which Wolsey desired, and by papal authorisation.

Wolsey, therefore, knew he was on safe ground in[22] making his request to the Pope. After some delay, Leo X granted the desired authority (1518), and Wolsey issued statutes for the Austin Canons next year.

He soon began his splendid educational schemes. With some difficulty he obtained the Pope’s consent (April, 1524) to use the revenues of St. Frideswide’s at Oxford (where Reginald Pole, a Staffordshire man, while a student at Oxford, had had a pension, though he was of Royal lineage) towards the endowment of the college he was founding.[17] This, of course, was quite insufficient for the splendid scheme he had in mind, and many further negotiations with the Pope resulted in a series of grudgingly granted Bulls during several years. Meanwhile, Wolsey proceeded with his work. The single house he had obtained was by no means all he intended to appropriate, and he had already drawn up the draft of a license for incorporating for the use of his college at Oxford twenty-one other houses, including those at Canwell and Sandwell,[18] in Staffordshire. It is a Latin document of eleven pages, and is in Wriothesley’s handwriting.

In 1514 there had been but a single inmate at Canwell available for appointment to the office of Prior. As a Cluniac house it had never received adequate supervision, and had often been unsatisfactory: long ago one of its canons had become a murderer.[19] Sandwell had been on the verge of bankruptcy, with discreditable canons, wasteful and unbusiness-like[23] management, violent altercations with neighbours and armed “religious” rivals. Its buildings were in bad repair. Both houses were ripe for dissolution.

The deed for the dissolution of St. Mary’s, Sandwell, by William Burbank, LL.D., is dated February, 1524.[20] It is a Latin document of twenty-three pages, written on vellum, signed by Prior John and sealed by Burbank. The witnesses are Thomas Cromwell, John Clifton (chaplain), Roland Rokyn, and John Lupton. The house was not absolutely closed; provision was made for the religious services to be maintained, and the servants and inmates who were dismissed were recompensed. The yearly value was £12 in spiritualities and £26 8s. 7d. in temporalities.[21]

Clement VII’s Bull authorising this did not issue till six months later. It permitted the suppression of monasteries to the value of 3,000 ducats, and was dated September 11th. It received the royal assent on October 1st.[22] It included Sandwell and, obviously, Canwell, though the writing is partly defaced. On the 13th of January, 1526, Letters Patent were signed at Greenwich, and delivered at Westminster on January 20th, granting to Wolsey the sites, etc., of St. Mary’s, Sandwell, and St. Giles’s, Canwell,[23] with lands in Staffordshire at Sandwell, West Bromwich, Dudley, Tipton, Magna and Parva Bar, Harborne, Wernell, Coston, Wombourn, Wednesbury, Feccham, Canwell,[24] Drayton, Hyns, Wyfford, Packington, Bittertone, Tamworth, Whittington, Elford, and Farysley. Canwell was worth £10 in spiritualities and £15 0s. 3d. in temporalities. No time was lost. On February 10th the houses were transferred to John Higden, dean of Cardinal’s College, the grant being sealed with Wolsey’s seal, which, enclosed in an iron case at the foot of the vellum, remains to this day a splendid impression.[24] The records of the estates were put into excellent order. William Brabazon surveyed the Manor of Canwell, and has left a full and detailed description of church, manor-house, ou-buildings, and land, with full details, measurements, rental, amount of timber, etc. The church was 84 feet long and 23 feet wide, with a tiled roof. It had a ruinous Lady Chapel on the north side 42 feet long and 14 feet wide, and bells worth £33 6s. 8d. The manor-house was 69 feet long by 15 feet wide, with one side tiled and the other thatched, and three rooms above and below, but its timber was in a bad state. There was a hall and kitchen, the latter also ruinous, a three-roomed stable, a kiln, bolting house, and chamber for corn, dove-house, and a large barn 112 feet by 28 feet. We have also a detailed list of the cottagers by name, with their rents (1d. per annum per cottage), dated the 13th of March, 1526.[25] A præcipe for a fine relating to the possessions of Canwell, and a lease and a conveyance of Sandwell, show that the former had been dissolved by the year 1527.[26] Its founder, Lord Lisle, had[25] released his title by fine. The latter was “given” by Edward, Lord Dudley.

The same business-like procedure was followed in making over the endowments to the College. The estates having been carefully and fully surveyed, a complete “Register” of all the documents was delivered to Dr. Higden, under date 21st of June, 1527. The Dean himself was a keen business man, like all the men who enjoyed Wolsey’s favour, and at once set about improving the revenues, visiting the estates, and raising the rents where it was possible to do so.[27]

The suppression of the monasteries formed part of the charges laid against Wolsey on his impeachment. Dean Higden’s raising of the rents was charged against the Cardinal, who was also accused of “shamefully slandering many good religious houses and good virtuous men living in them,” as well as often forcing suppressions by “crafty persuasions.” The houses alleged to be so wrongfully suppressed were, however, by no means restored on his fall. Full details of them were obtained by Commissions of local gentry: Sir John Gifford, Sir Edward Aston, Edward Lyttleton, and John Vernon, acted in Staffordshire. Then, whatever still remained was sold. William Burbank and Thomas Cromwell did this work at Canwell and Sandwell.[28] The sale at the former reached £8 and at the latter £21. The bells at Sandwell were worth £33 6s. 8d., and at Canwell £13 6s. 8d., and debts and rents due at Lady-day amounted to £189 10s. On the other hand, there were the costs of Burbank and Cromwell for their[26] journey from Tickford to Sandwell, and for their five days’ stay at Sandwell and three days’ at Canwell. The fees of the “Praysors” were 3s. 4d.; and one of the monks at Canwell was paid £1 in wages, and another 6s. 8d. The Prior’s father and the servants also received payments. The work was done thoroughly. The establishment evidently had been leniently dealt with, and indeed to a considerable extent maintained, so long as Wolsey lived, but now the religious life, at least, ceased, for we may conclude that the sale of the bells implies that the churches were closed or put to secular uses.

In the re-arrangement of the endowments of Wolsey’s College, Canwell was spared for it, and so was Sandwell, but the rectories belonging to the latter and the manor at the former were assigned to the College at Windsor. The Prior of Shene also received some of the lands at Sandwell, and John Voysey, alias Harmon, Bishop of Exeter, made purchases at Canwell. The “total issues” from the Staffordshire houses are set down in the Account Book of the College for 1530 as £31 7s. from Sandwell and £14 6s. from Canwell.[29]

Bishop Geoffrey Blythe was another of the products of the New Learning: a suspect by reason of his advanced opinions, yet a burner of heretics; the ordainer of Colet and the rejector as indoctus et indignus of a Canon of Ronton nominated to a vicarage in 1530; the acceptor so early as 1530 of Henry VIII’s refusal to allow an appeal to Rome which the Bishops of the Province of Canterbury made against Archbishop Warham in regard to probate.


While Wolsey was appropriating monastic endowments for the benefit of learning, Bishop Blythe was engaged in similar work, and he obtained Wolsey’s help in suppressing the Benedictine Nunnery at Fairwell.

In 1526 the diocese had received a visit from the Cardinal in person. In March he came to the Cathedral in his capacity of Legate a latere, formally to investigate a complaint of the vicars. It did not contribute to his popularity, and was met by a protest on the part of the Great Chapter. However, he examined and ratified the Cathedral statutes; and probably during the Visitation, which lasted from March 5th to April 4th, Bishop Blythe discussed the condition of Fairwell with the Cardinal, and received from him advice and encouragement.

Fairwell Nunnery had been founded by Bishop Roger de Clinton (1129–1148), a few miles from Lichfield. Bishop Norbury, on a visitation, had found various delinquencies which caused him to issue a series of detailed injunctions in 1331.[30] They had to be translated into French as the nuns did not understand Latin. In 1367 Bishop Stretton again exercised his authority and in the same way. From the orders he issued[31] we are able to gather the nature of the things complained of. The laudable practice of going for walks in common was commended, but none were to go out without two others for company, and then only by leave of the Prioress. The threefold vow was to be observed, and also the periods of silence. Such[28] secular women, except necessary servants, as were living within the nunnery were to obtain the Bishop’s license or to be dismissed, and the same order was issued with regard to male children. The accounts were to be laid before the whole Convent yearly at least, and grants of land were to require the Bishop’s authorization. There had been too much luxury, and all were ordered to take their meals in the Guest Hall, where, alone, except in cases of sickness or other reasonable cause, a fire was permissible.

In March, 1527, a Commission was sealed by Wolsey at Hampton Court empowering Richard Strete, B.D., Archdeacon of Salop and Canon of Lichfield, and William Clayborough, LL.D., Canon of York, to complete the suppression of Fairwell.[32] The nuns and chaplains were to be translated to other houses, and the goods of the house were to go to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield for the support of the choristers. The formal grant to the Dean and Chapter, of the Nunnery and all its possessions, was made on August 28th following.[33] In return they bound themselves to say an annual Obit for the Bishop.

Such work as that which has been described—work on a small scale by Bishops Smythe and Blythe, and on a larger scale by Wolsey—became of very great historical importance. It revived the memory of the destruction of the Knights Templars and the confiscation of the Alien Priories, and familiarised public opinion in the earlier years of the sixteenth century with[29] the idea of monastic dissolutions. That no suspicion of personal cupidity or of self-interest could be laid against any of the authors was in itself of great value to the men who afterwards followed in their footsteps with very different motives. The genuine disinterestedness of purpose which prompted these earlier “reformers” went far to blind the public to the real objects of the later. And Wolsey’s dissolutions did much more. They not only supplied contemporary examples and revived old precedents; they not only gave practical effect to the tendency of the New Learning to disparage old forms of religious life; they actually trained up experts in the work of suppressing religious houses. Thomas Cromwell made, as Wolsey’s secretary, his first essays in the art which was afterwards to gain for him the name of the “Hammer of the Monks.” We have seen him busy in the case of both the Staffordshire houses which were dissolved by the Cardinal. Richard Strete, too, we shall soon meet again.

Cromwell, even at this early stage of his career, earned a reputation for unscrupulous harshness, and susceptibility to bribery; but on the whole it is evident that these suppressions were accomplished with the least possible friction. The interests of all who were involved—patrons, monks, servants, tenants, were considered and recognised. And the general results to learning were undoubtedly good.



When the assembly, which has gained for itself the name of the Reformation Parliament, met, the air was full of rumours of attacks upon the clergy. The French Ambassador reported: “it is the intention, when Wolsey is dead or destroyed, to get rid of the Church and spoil the goods of both.” Parliament assembled on November 3rd, 1530, and to the Convocation which was called at the same time the heads of the following religious houses in Staffordshire were summoned: Burton, Rocester, Dieulacres, Hulton, Croxden, Tutbury, Stone, St. Thomas (Stafford), Trentham, Ronton, Calwich, and Dudley. Sandwell and Canwell had, of course, disappeared recently. The Bishop of the diocese was Geoffrey Blythe. Archdeacon Strete was one of the Proctors for the clergy.

The Prior of Calwich, who was summoned, died just at this juncture, and the dispute which arose as to the appointment of a successor enabled the Crown to assert its supremacy at the expense of all parties concerned.

Calwich had originally been a hermitage, and had been given by Nicholas de Gresley Fitz Nigel in the twelfth century to the Priory of Kenilworth. It had thus become a cell of that house, and came under the rules of the Austin Canons. A considerable amount of building had been done at Calwich in the latter part[31] of the fourteenth century: in 1391 the Pope granted Indulgences to those who visited the place and made contributions to the fabric on the feast of St. Margaret and certain other days. The history of Calwich illustrates how the dependent “cells” were a source of weakness to the monastic system. Such houses were often unsatisfactory. They were sometimes looked upon as places of banishment for brethren who deserved punishment: a method of discipline akin to the later system of penal settlements like Botany Bay, and as likely to be productive of the very worst results. The very men who needed supervision would be freed from it, and the remedy would intensify the evil. In any case, such small communities would easily become engrossed in secular pursuits: their interests were narrowed, and their occupation small.

Disputes arose between the dependent cells and the parent house, and the inmates of the cells often became unpopular with their neighbours. In 1293 the dependence of Calwich on Kenilworth was made the excuse for depriving its Prior of pasture rights in the Wootton Woods, it being asserted that he was removable at the will of the Prior of Kenilworth. This, indeed, was strikingly shown to be the case in 1334, when the Prior, although duly instituted, was recalled by the Prior of Kenilworth. The Prior of Calwich in 1293 denied that he held such a dependent position, but the local jury, to whom the case was referred, decided against him. Local feeling was hostile to the Canons, much as it was afterwards against the Alien Priories, and Calwich had to forego further rights of gallows and free warren, etc., in the manor of Ellastone. The[32] parent house did not relax its hold or lessen its claims at the bidding of a Staffordshire jury. In 1334 the Bishop inquired into the matter and decided in favour of Kenilworth. This apparently brought matters to a crisis, for in 1349 the four resident Canons pleaded that they could no longer endure the uncertainty of their position and the unpopularity they experienced. They succeeded in having their house declared independent, under the patronage of the original founders, who undertook to pay yearly a sum of sixty shillings to Kenilworth in acknowledgment of its rights.

The house gained nothing by its independence, but rather the reverse. The Prior found his subjection to the lay-patron involved him in litigation, without gaining him protection from the jealousy of neighbours. The house shared in the general decline in wealth and numbers after the Black Death. In 1384 Bishop Robert de Stretton appointed the Prior and Canons of Calwich to be the collectors in the Archdeaconry of Stafford of the Convocation grant, but they petitioned to be excused on the plea of infirmity, poverty, and smallness of numbers (there were only two Canons besides the Prior).

It sank lower and lower. In 1438 the Prior was charged with the forcible detention of ten oxen and eight cows, for which damages to the amount of £20 were claimed. Twenty years after he was troubled by neighbours breaking into his close, cutting down his underwood and letting loose their cattle to graze upon his pastures.

Accordingly, when the Prior died in 1530, the house was a poor place with a bad record. In accordance[33] with the usual practice, the Priory was taken into the royal hands during the vacancy; and the subsequent story affords an interesting illustration of the way in which the attack on clerical privileges which was carried on in the early years of the Reformation Parliament, was supported by irregular movements in detail. It also helps us to see how the great work of the Suppression of the Monasteries was the independent work of the Government. They made use of Parliamentary support and sanction when it was convenient or wise, but the work was in reality their own. The suppression of Calwich was never referred to Parliament. It aroused no feeling and evoked no protest from anyone. It was evidently looked upon as quite a natural exercise of the royal power.

On the Prior’s death there was but one remaining canon, Dr. David Pole, or Powle;[34] and the representative of the original founder of the Priory, Ralf Longford, claimed the right of presentation, and sent an agent, furnished with means, to London to press his claim. Dr. Roland Lee was one of the King’s Chaplains, and Chancellor of Lichfield. Richard Strete, the Archdeacon of Salop, Cromwell’s agent in the district, wrote to Lee in London informing him of the position of affairs at Calwich, on April 6th, 1530, adding that he could find no record of such a right as Longford claimed, and arguing that it should not be allowed. It was convenient now to assert the Bishop’s right of appointment. Lord Shrewsbury also put forward claims in virtue of donations to the house by past members of his family. There were other claimants, and the result[34] was that various persons were recommended for the preferment. All this helped to play into the hands of the enemy. Strete’s conclusion was that it would be well to consult with Cromwell as to what should be done. Later, Strete wrote fully to Cromwell himself, repeating the same information and giving in detail an account of the spoil that might be expected from the house.[35]

“My duty done, according to your lettres datyd penultimo die Aprilis, I have ben at Calwich, and takyn an inventary of the goodes of that house by indenture and committyd the keping and garding of all thinges ther to thabbott of Rowceter ij myles thens, and on of his brethren abidith at Calwich to overse them who hath kept the sequestre syns the departur of the late prior. The valour of the goodes and laundes foloith.

Inprimis, household very course, as doith appere by particlars in the inventary xvli. xiijs. ijd.
Item, in catall, as oxen, kye, horses, mares, shepe old and yonge lxxixli. xvs. iiijd.
Item, in corne, apon the grounde xjli. vjs. viijd.
Item, stuff for the church, as chales and vestmentes, etc. xli. ixs. viijd.
Summa cxvijli. iiijs. xd.
Item, the demeanes lyen roundabowt the house, and ben worth yerely xxiijli. xijs.
Item, other tenthes yerely xvijli. viijs. jd.ob.
Item, the paroch church of Ellaston to that monastery appropriat, besyde the Vicar indoment xiijli. vjs. viiijd.

“In these is no harde peneworth: the house and other byldinges be in mean good state of reparacion. I have dischargyd and put forth such persons as were not mete to be ther, and laft such as be husbaundes, and I have made sure the convent saill, and the evidence.


“The first founder ther was Nich. Gresley, in whose title now claymyth Mr. Longford (as men here report). Ther be diverse benefactours that hath gyffyn landes to that house, as it doith appere, viz., my lord Stuard, sir Henrie Saucheverell, Mr. Oker, and other thair ansetors. And thus ye may partly perceyve, and what I can do ferther shalbe redy by God his grace.... Lich. xijo, Maij.


Richard Strete, preist.”

Wolsey died on November 29th, 1530. Bishop Blythe soon followed him. The exact date does not appear in his Act Books, but it was apparently not long before January 21st, as on that date the Archbishop’s Commission was issued to the Vicar-General to act during the vacancy. Archdeacon Strete was appointed in May “to receive the rents and profits of the same [Bishopric] to the King’s use” during the vacancy. At the same time he received the following letter from Cromwell:[36]

“Mr. Strete after most hertie commendacions these shalbe to advertise you that by the berers hereof ye shall receyve the Kinge’s comission and warraunte gevyng you auctoryte to Survey the londes of the bisshopriche of Coventre and Licheld and to receyve the rentes and profites of the same to the Kinges use. And also ye shall receyve his gracious letteres directed to the Eschetor of the Countie palentyne of Chester uppon the sight whereof I doubte not but he will not onelie Surcease to medle any Ferther with the receipt of any rentes there, but also in case he have receyved any, will repay the same unto your handes accordinglie. Not dowbting but ye will diligentlie, effectuallie, and trewly put in execucion the teanour and effecte of your saide Commyssion in suche wise as shalbe most for your honestie to the Kinges most profite and advantage. And for your paynes and diligence alredy taken and susteyned aboute his affayres there his highnes hathe commaunded me to geve unto you his most hertie thankes. And trustith that ye will so indevour your self in the receipt of the said rentes and revenues as before[36] the feaste of the Natyvyte of Saynt John Baptist next ye will bryng or send up the hole half-yeres rent or the most parte of the same and that ye will have good awayte and regarde to his haukes in the Cauke there wherein ye shall do and admynister unto his highnes right good and acceptable servyce.

“And as touching the Catell at the pryorie of Calliche the kinges gracious pleasure is that ye shall suffer the berers hereof named Fyndern and Curson to have the preferrement in the byeng of the same uppon suche reasonable prises as they may convenyently lyve on taking of them som money in hande and such sufficient bonde and suertie for the residue as the king may be trewly answered of the same. And so Fare ye well &c.

“Your mastership.”

An agreement was made between the King and Longford. The Patron surrendered his claim of presentation, and agreed to the suppression of the house in 1532. He was to hold the lands in farm from the King, and the rent was to be fixed by a local jury. Strete recommended the Abbot of Rocester, Sir William Bassett, Sir John Gifford, and himself, but the Sheriff refused to “affirm” the panel by reason of its manifest partiality.[37] Strete’s inclusion was in itself sufficient to condemn it: in the long letter in which he suggested it he maligned Longford for “slackness,” and recommended Cromwell to press him for £60 which was owing on account of Calwich.

Another claimant to the lands, or part of them, was the Earl of Shrewsbury, and the Sheriff’s panel consisted of the Earl’s tenants. It was, therefore, as little impartial as Strete’s, but it met with the approval of Brabazon,[38] one of Cromwell’s emissaries, who was sent down to Lichfield to help in the business; and[37] evidently no idea of fairness entered the minds of any of the officials. There were other claimants, too, apparently Sir Henry Sacheverell and Mr. Oker (Okeover), but they could be disregarded. Strete and Brabazon used their powers of persuasion, and the members of the jury, having served their lord’s ends by deciding in favour of the Earl’s claim to “a small portion” of the property, were ready to give their decision as the Crown required. Yet they judged it wiser to save appearances by a show of hesitation; they insisted on an adjournment, though at the same time they promised the requisite verdict. This was in the third week in August, 1532. Of course Strete was able to write to Cromwell in due course (October 21st, 1532):[39] “The Office of Calwich is passed for the King.” At that time Longford owed £46 5s. 2d. He had also in his possession the tithes (£13 3s. 4d.) and the last Michaelmas rents (£11 16s.). These he undertook to deliver to Cromwell. An escheator was appointed to receive the dues on the King’s behalf, and on March 11th of the next year we have a note of Cromwell’s (11th March, 1533) that £30 had been received from Strete on the Calwich account. By April 26th the legal formalities were completed, and Strete was able to report to Cromwell: “The Priory of Calwich, now void, rests in the King’s pleasure.”[40] This was the year in which the Act was passed giving to the King the rights of visitation of the religious houses, and, of course, considerably before any Act was passed for their dissolution.


But all was not plain sailing for Longford. In 1534 among the “bills to be signed” was still that of “Sir Ralf Longford for the late Priory of Calwiche.” Moreover, Strete was instructed that Mr. Fitzherbert, Longford’s father-in-law, was to have the tithes and the growing corn “at such prices as may be deemed sufficient,” and Findern and Curson, already mentioned, were repudiated in his favour.

The letter, dated June 14th, 1533, which Cromwell wrote to Archdeacon Strete is as follows:[41]

“Maister Strete as hertelye as I Can I commend me unto you, and whereas by my last letteres I wrott unto you in the Favors of Curson and Fyndern to be prefferyd unto the Catell and Corn of late belongyng to the priorye of Colwyche, and Sythyn that tyme I wrotte unto you on the behalf of Mr. longford for his prefferment unto the demaynes of the sayd pryorye so hit ys that now the sayd maister longford by his Fatherinlaw, Mr. Fyzherbert moche desyryth to have the Tythys and also suche Corn as at thys tyme ys Sown uppon the demaynes of the sayd late pryorye for this yere whych tythe and corn sown uppon the demaynes I require yow that he may haffe at such prysys as ye shall thinke convenyent and in such wyse as the kynge’s highnes may be Substauncyallye answeryd of the proftyttes growing of the same without any Favour to be born to anye othre partye and wher as I wrott in myn other letter that Curson and Fyndern shold have the preffermentt of the Catell and Corn I dyd not wrytt for anye Corne growing on the grownde ne yet for any tythys which in no wyse ye shall Suffer them to have but to order hyt as ys afforsayd most to the kynge’s proffytte advauntage. I well persayve who grauntyth suchemen an Inche they wyll take an ell. I am Infformyd they avaunte them selfs to have Commyssyons and graunttes of the kyng which ys untrew I praye yew advyse them to use no such Facyons. Syr, the kynges highnes trustyth that ye with all spede will bryng up the halfyere’s Ferme and Renttes of the Busshopryche which I praye yow may be here before his gracyous departyng[39] in progresse, and as to the Chanon off Colwyche ye may translate hym unto Sum good howse of that relygyon being nere unto yow and to gyve hym sumthing after your discrecyon suche as may stand with the kynges honour and also to his honest Contentacyon, and thus trustyng in your approvyd wysdom and experyence Commytt all the premysses unto your discrecyon trustyng ever that ye wyll have respect to your dew and charge and also that I may have short answer of thes and other my letteres, and so Fare ye well at London, the xiiiith daye of June.”

Where Dr. David Pole was placed we are not told, but in 1535 a David Pole is found as Prebendary of Tachebroke, in receipt of a stipend of £10 a year.[42]

On February 12th, 1534, Richard Harecourt became the escheator for the year, and remained till November 18th, when another was appointed, who proved to lack the necessary property qualification, so Longford had to pay the King’s dues direct. Next year (November 24th, 1535) Thomas Skrymsher was appointed.

The King now made one of those “exchanges” which became so frequent later. The manor of East Molesey was pleasantly situated on the southern bank of the Thames, in Surrey, and had obvious advantages over the remote estate in North Staffordshire. It belonged to the old and historic priory of Merton, where Becket had been educated, where the Parliament had sat which enacted the statutes of Merton, and which had provided a refuge for the patriot Hubert de Burgh in his days of adversity. Its past fame and present wealth seemed to warrant its inmates in a confident assurance of security, and they agreed to give the King their riverside manor of East Molesey[40] in exchange for the distant and forlorn cell of their Order at Calwich. No doubt they hoped eventually to retrieve its fortunes and to re-establish it as a religious house, though for the present they had to acquiesce in the arrangements regarding it which had just been made. The exchange appears to have been made in 1535–6, and Merton renewed the lease to Longford for £43, with the obligation to discharge the pension of sixty shillings to “the late priory of Kelyngworth.”

Almost immediately the process of squeezing the larger houses began, and Merton Abbey soon succumbed. The date of its surrender, with Abbot and fourteen monks, is April 16th, 1538. The lease of Calwich to Longford was renewed in the same year. In 1540 he obtained an acknowledgment that he had paid all his dues to Cromwell and Gostwick, and was empowered to receive from the various escheators “tayles” (tallies, i.e., receipts) for them. The Augmentation Book in 1543 has a record of his twenty-one years’ lease, but the reversion was sold to John Fleetwood.

Longford soon found himself in financial difficulties. In spite of the grant of Calwich, for which Sir Anthony Fitzherbert wrote to thank Cromwell on April 18th, 1537, he could not pay the rent due. The royal escheators were hard taskmasters, exacting the uttermost farthing, and Fitzherbert’s letter shows Longford had been some time in debt. In 1541 they levied a distraint, and ejected from the estate the tenants to whom Longford had sublet it. He had to enter into a bond of £200 to settle the matter, and this only added[41] to his embarrassments. In 1543 he was in the Fleet, the debtors’ prison, writing piteous appeals for loans wherewith to discharge his indebtedness to the King.

Ralf Longford, his successor in Elizabeth’s reign, on the expiration of the lease made an effort to retain the property, but without success, and Calwich passed to the Fleetwoods. The way they treated the buildings is well known from Erdeswicke’s oft-quoted description. Writing about 1593, he noted how the new owner “hath made a parlour of the chancel, a hall of the church, and a kitchen of the steeple.” It is strange to find the Fleetwoods of Calwich in the lists of Recusants in later years.[43]



For the sake of following up the story of the downfall of Calwich in a connected form it has been necessary to omit the mention of much that meanwhile had been happening. Bishop Blythe’s loyalty would have been severely strained had he lived a few weeks longer. Before the end of January (1531) the Convocation of Canterbury had been compelled to vote the enormous sum of £100,000 in atonement for the fault which had been committed in acknowledging Wolsey’s legatine authority. The Abbot of Croxden was too ill to attend the Session. The Northern Convocation subsequently voted an additional £18,840. The ease with which these huge amounts were raised was to have unsuspected effects. The clergy were also compelled to acknowledge the King “their singular protector, only and supreme lord, and, as far as the law of Christ allows, even Supreme Head,” though it must be remembered that Henry took pains to explain that he understood the expression in no blasphemous sense. Next, it was required that the Convocations should enact no new Canons without royal license. They made a vain attempt to retain some of their powers. On May 8th (1532) a deputation was appointed to wait upon the King to try to induce him to retain clerical immunities. The constitution of the deputation did not augur well for its success. It consisted of Roland[43] Lee, already called Bishop of Lichfield, though he was not consecrated till April 19th next year, the Abbot of Burton-on-Trent, and four others.

The Abbot of Burton-on-Trent was Dr. William Boston. He had been originally a monk of Peterborough, and became Abbot of Burton in 1531. He was one of Cromwell’s satellites, and there are many notes in Cromwell’s “Remembrances” which show that the two were in frequent consultation. It was probably through Cromwell’s influence, and against the wishes of the Convent, that Boston was elected Abbot, for at the next vacancy a strong party still adhered to the monk who ought to have been previously advanced. Roland Lee is a personage who needs no introduction, and we shall have sufficient of him before long.[44]

The deputation failed, if it was intended to preserve any semblance of initiative for Convocation. On May 10th the famous “Submission of the Clergy” was introduced, and on May 15th it was accepted.

At the same time Henry’s passion for Anne Boleyn was driving him further and further from the Pope. The Annates Bill, empowering the King to deprive the Pope of his revenues from England, was passed, for diplomatic reasons, on March 19th. It was at once a threat and a bribe to the Papacy, and its object was to secure the annulling of Katherine’s marriage. A post was sent to Rome “to frighten the Pope about the Annates,”[45] but it failed in achieving its object. Clement VII stood firm; but early in 1533, as was[44] afterwards alleged, the King went through a form of marriage with Anne Boleyn. Among those who were variously stated to have performed the ceremony was Roland Lee. The alienation from the Papacy became much more pronounced as the news of the marriage leaked out, and the passing of the Annates Bill into law became inevitable. The Royal Letters Patent, which made it effective, were issued on July 9th.

In the same Session the Act in Restraint of Appeals to Rome was passed, springing from the same unsavoury origin, and requiring more management in Parliament. Exceptional steps were taken to make sure that the King’s party should be well represented. William Boston had lately been in frequent consultation with Cromwell: he could be depended upon to speed the ecclesiastical legislation then in progress, and in his person the Abbot of Burton for the first time sat in Parliament. His admission is entered on the Rolls as being “by virtue of a writ of summons, dated the 30th of April, 24 Henry VIII.”[46] It may be recalled that meanwhile the house at Calwich was in the last throes of dissolution. It was on October 21st following that Strete reported: “the Office of Calwich is passed for the King.”

But Calwich was not the only Staffordshire house which was receiving Cromwell’s attention at this time. William Boston was speedily rewarded for his support of the royal policy in Parliament by being promoted to the high honour of the Abbacy of Westminster.[47] It was part of Cromwell’s policy to secure the election[45] of complacent nominees to the headships of the religious houses as vacancies occurred. A writer of Elizabeth’s reign, who had been cognisant of the whole history of the period, averred that he deliberately promoted such men as would afterwards further his schemes of confiscation: “He placed abbottes and ffriers in divers great housses, divers lerned men, and perswaded against these superstitiens, which men were readie to make surrender of their houses at the kinges commaundement.”[48]

We have already seen that pressure had been probably brought to bear upon the community at Burton-on-Trent when Boston had been elected. The facts about the election of his successor admit of no dispute. The whole story appears in full in the State papers.

No sooner had William Boston been promoted than Cromwell set about securing the election of a successor of the same type. He sent to the Abbey three men like-minded with himself, Roland Lee, Richard Strete, and Pole. Roland Lee and he had already been companions in much work of an unsavoury nature, of which the business at Burton was comparatively innocent. Strete’s character has already been seen in the matter of the dissolution of Calwich. Pole was Vicar-General. The three were to secure the election of Cromwell’s nominee. But there was much opposition. The majority of the brethren desired to elect one whom ancient custom marked out for the promotion, and it was hoped that the King or the Queen would save them from interference. Cromwell’s nominee was strongly objected to. The plausible Lee, however, assured the[46] monks that in these virtuous days the Court had abjured all undue interference with the freedom of elections, and easily convinced them they had nothing to hope in that quarter. That accomplished, he was confident of success. On June 25th, 1533, he wrote from Burton a report to Cromwell in these words:[49] “This day, with the assistance of Mr. Strete and Mr. Pole, I have travailed with the convent of Burton, but as yet I have no promise, as one part trusts to have from the King, the Queen, and you, a command contrary to that I have from you. I had never so much to do about such matters because the beryn (? bearing—i.e., demeanour, fashion) in the Court hath been that no man durst mell; and those matters were shortly sped. There is one here that by election should have had the Abbey before, and yet by the same shall have it according to the ancient order of the law. I beg you to wait for further knowledge from me. Your furtherance of justice shall not be undeserved. I beg your favour to Master Dutton, Sir Piers,[50] whose only trust is in you. It is better for a man to lose his right arm than sue, but only for your good help, and he will keep his promise to you.”

Two days afterwards he had succeeded in persuading the monks to leave the nomination of their Abbot to him and Strete. He wrote to Cromwell on June 27th: “I sped the election at Burton, and the compromission is in me and Mr. Strete to nominate one of the Convent before the 1st of August.”[51] He[47] apparently had failed to secure the election of Cromwell’s original nominee, but it may be taken for granted that the man appointed by Lee and Strete would be sufficiently amenable for all practical purposes. The monks made a submission, and chose the third Prior, whose name was William Edie. Before August was out the royal assent had been given to his “election.” It was confirmed on 13th April, 1334.[52] He was subsequently summoned to Parliament, when the Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries had to be passed, as will presently be related. Roland Lee was consecrated Bishop of Lichfield on April 19th.

When we find such men as Boston and Edie summoned to the Reformation Parliament, from a house which had not previously supplied mitred Abbots, it is evident that no pains were spared to pack the assembly throughout its existence. It is not surprising, therefore, that it proved compliant and obsequious.

In 1534 the Act of Succession was passed. The Oath of Succession appears to have been taken by all the members of both Houses of Parliament, but it caused the downfall of Sir Thomas More. Dr. Boston, now Abbot of Westminster, was one of the Commissioners appointed to administer the oath of supremacy to Sir Thomas More. On April 13th, 1534, Cranmer pressed the argument of loyalty, and, when More pleaded the claims of conscience, the Abbot of Westminster urged that his conscience should not be set above the opinion of the whole Parliament. More effectively retorted that a general council of Christendom was superior to a council of England, and repeated[48] that he was perfectly willing to respect the succession as ordered by Parliament. As a loyal citizen and as a constitutional statesman he was ready to obey the Parliament in constitutional questions, but could not agree that it had unlimited authority in religion. He could “honour the King,” but at the same time he must “fear God.”

He was committed to the custody of Abbot Boston for four days, probably in the hope that so plausible and compliant an ecclesiastic would succeed in removing his scruples. But his constancy stood firm, and he soon found himself in the Tower, whence he went to the block on June 6th, 1535.

In 1534 further steps were taken to bring the religious houses under royal authority. The royal supremacy was formally established by Act of Parliament, and the King thus took over many of the powers which had been previously claimed by the Pope.

We must be on our guard against attaching too much significance to such legal enactments. It must be borne in mind that a good deal of this kind of lawmaking was not much more than giving statutory expression—often with brutal frankness—to what had long existed in fact. The royal authority had always been what the royal power had been able to make it, little under weak or indifferent kings, strong under masterful ones. The novelties after the period which is called “the Reformation” were in reality much slighter than is generally supposed. Henry VIII, when he exercised authority over the Church by virtue of the Act of Supremacy or in virtue of his title of “Supreme Head,” was not pressing much more hardly[49] on the liberties of his subjects than he had done before the new title had been invented. The history of the Staffordshire monasteries in previous centuries shows abundantly that whenever the King desired he could exercise the most arbitrary control over the religious houses in all sorts of ways. The only effective check before the Reformation was, not “Papal authority,” or “ecclesiastical privileges,” or “religious immunities”—all these could be, and were, overridden and set aside,—but public opinion. Precisely the same check was influential afterwards and to much the same extent as formerly. The skill of Henry VIII and his ministers was shown in the way they won public opinion to their side or crushed it away out of sight. English history, and continental too, has shown again and again that the civil power can never be permanently restrained by “immunities” and “concordats.” The force of circumstances is always liable to be too strong for such artificial arrangements: the power of Parliament must, as a force majeure, be the final arbiter. It may, indeed, be argued that the statutes which seemed to place the English Church beneath the heel of the State, and which for three centuries have given the enemy occasion to blaspheme, gave her in reality a greater measure of freedom than many “unestablished” churches have enjoyed. It may almost be said that modern history has shown that the anxiety of Parliament to assert itself over a non-established church may be greater than over an established church, and that its powers may be exercised in the former case with greater tyranny and offensiveness than in the latter; it has also shown[50] that the powers and titles claimed by King and Parliament in Tudor times were, after all, only “stage properties”: the same authority may be claimed, and the same deeds done, without them.

Henry VIII, having formally taken over the Pope’s authority, was not slow to exercise it. A royal “Reformator and Inquisitor” of Croxden Abbey and many other Cistercian houses was appointed. This was Thomas Chard, alias Tybbes. He is a typical ecclesiastic of the period. He had been a member of St. Bernard’s, now St. John’s College, Oxford, and received the degree of D.D. in 1505, being styled vir doctrina et virtute clarus. He held a large number of preferments, vicarages, and rectories, as well as priorships. He became Prior of Montacute in 1515 (till 1525) and also Prior of Forde in 1521. The latter he held till the priory was dissolved. Meanwhile he was also a suffragan bishop, being styled Episcopus Solubriensis. He was consecrated in 1508, when he was presented to the vicarage of Torrington Parva.[53] The fresh exercise of power and influence to which we have referred is explained in the following commission:

“Henry the eyethe by the grace of gode kyng of Ingelande and of Fraunce defensor of the fayeth and lorde of Yrelande sende gretynge | For as moche as hytt ys Requysytte and thaweth to be most expedyent thordre and Relygyon of Cystercanes to be visyted and Reformyde by Auctorite hade of vs wyrth in thys or Realme of Ingelande and nott be Auctorite hade from beyende the seys for dyv’se cosyderacons hade in the same We tenderyng the good cotynewaunce and mayntaynyg of all man’ catholique Religyon Firmely pceyvyng the indyfferensy dexterite and goode vertuous qualityes and divine lernyng wyche manyfestely bathe and dothe appere[51] in owre trusty and welbeloyde Fadre in gode Thomas Abbott of Forde wherefore we name institute and ordeyne the sayde Abbott of Forde from hense Forde to be visitor Reformator and inquysitor of that Religion duryng hys naturall lyffe of all thos monasterys whos namys Folowyth Any comyssyon or comyssyons here tofore graunted to the contrary nott wyethstandyng that ys to vnderstande, Forde, Buckefaste, Buckelande, Dunckewell, Newham, Clyve, Byndon, Tarraunte, Bewley, Quarre, Letteley, Wav’ley, Rewley, Stanley, Haylys, Bordeley, Kyngewoode, Flaxley, Stratteford, Boxley, Crokedene, Combremeare, Cockehall, Brewern, Garydon, Bedyllisden, Combe, Stoneley, Merevalle, and Thame | Farther we wyll and straytely comande that no other psone or psons of what Estade degre or dygnite so ev’ he or they be but only the sayde Abbott of Forde or his depute do visett Reforme Inquyre or intermelle in any man’ wyse in any of the sayde monsterys afore Rehersyd nor wt any Religyous psone or psons of the same And ferther we wyll [lined through in original] duryng the natrall lyffe of the sayde Abbott of Forde whon we ordayne and depute visotor Reformator Inquysytor as before rehersid More ov’ we give and graunte and by thes presente we auctorisatt the fore sayde Abbott of Forde to destitute and institute any Abbott or Abbotts fro tyme to tyme wtyn all and ev’y of the Foresayde monsterys as the lawys and Rewlys of the sayde ordre dothe and wyll pymtte | And for hys Farther assystence in all and syngler the p’miss and for executyng of the same we wyll and straytely comaunde by vertew of thes or comyssyon all shreffys Mayrys baylyffys Constablys Justyce and all other or offycers in all and ev’y shere and libertie as far as any of thos Abbeys before namyde doth extende and for the executyng of this or Auctoritye comyttyde and gevyn to the foresayde Abbott of Ford | they and ev’y of them to Assyste the fore sayde Abbott of Forde att all tymys and att any tyme that they or any of them shalbe requyred by the sayd abbott of Forde or his depute in and a boute any of the monstreys before Rehersyde in advoydyng or hyeth dyspleasure. And this or comyssion and graunte we wyll to cotynewe in vigour and strengyth.”[54]


Very few of the monks ventured to follow More’s example in regard to the Oath of Succession, but the friars generally refused.

As they did most of the preaching in the parish churches, for the wholesale appropriation of tithes by the monasteries had so impoverished livings that few educated men held them, it was necessary that they should be silenced. Commissioners were accordingly appointed, to whom Roland Lee was afterwards added, to visit all the friaries, take an inventory of their goods, and examine each inmate separately.[55] In this way most of the friars in the provinces were reduced to submission, though Lee harried to death some honourable exceptions in London.

It is no wonder the monks, as a rule, proved amenable, for already it was common rumour that a vast scheme of spoliation was being planned, and they dared not precipitate matters by a bold refusal. The rumour was justified, for Cromwell was privately proposing to hand over all monasteries with less than thirteen inmates “for the maintenance of the royal estate,” though at the same time he publicly assured the monks that there was no such intention.

But the visitatorial powers in regard to them were now transferred to the King, and the first fruits and tenths which had been recently taken from the Pope were also revived as a fresh source of royal revenue. The statute which enacted the latter was entitled “The Bill for the First Fruits,[56] with the yearly pension to the King.” It slightly lessens the offensiveness[53] of the King’s new title, by styling him “the only Supreme Head on Earth, next, and immediately under God, of the Church of England,” and basing even this on the facts of history—“as he always, indeed, hath heretofore been.” Every person nominated to any ecclesiastical preferment, “religious” or “secular,” was to pay to the King “the first-fruits, revenues, and profits, for the year,” and also the tenth part annually. Commissioners were to be appointed to “examine and search for the just and true value of the said first-fruits and profits,” and first-fruits were allowed to no one but the King: it appears that in the Diocese of Norwich they had gone to the Bishop, and in the Archdeaconry of Richmond to the Archdeacon. Priors of dependent cells were exempted from the payment of first-fruits, but not of tenths. “And forasmuch as divers Abbots and Priors been charged to pay great pensions to sundry their Predecessors yet living, to the great Decay of their Hospitalities and Housekeeping; be it enacted by Authority aforesaid, That every such Predecessor of such Abbots or Priors, having any Pensions made sure unto them, or to any to their use, during their Lives, amounting above the yearly value of xlli. shall from henceforth be defalked and abated of the moiety and Halfdeal of every such Pension” (Art. 23). Article 24 expressly includes “the Lord Prior of Saint John’s of Jerusalem in England, and his Brethren” within the scope of the Act.[57] Article 28 “allows” the King to remit what remained as yet unpaid of the Præmunire Fine “in[54] Consideration that the said yearly Pension and annual Rent shall be yearly from henceforth duly paid and satisfied.”

Immediate steps were taken to ensure the due and accurate payment of the new income. In January, 1535, Cromwell procured a Royal Commission appointing himself Vicar-General and Visitor-General of all churches and monasteries, with authority to delegate agents. He set to work in the exercise of his new power with characteristic promptness. On January 30th commissions were issued for each county, to make the necessary investigations for discovering the whole amount of ecclesiastical property for the purpose of levying the tenths. The Staffordshire Commissioners[58] had Bishop Roland Lee for chairman, but he was the only ecclesiastic among them.

The others were Sir John Talbot, Sir John Gifford, George Audeley, John Vernon, Walter Wrottesley, George Gresley, William Bassett, Edward Lyttleton, Thomas Gifford, Thomas Holte, Walter Blounte, John Grosvenor, and Thomas Moreton. They are the usual names which appear among the lists of officials. For example, John Gifford, Edward Lyttleton, and John Vernon had been the Commissioners appointed to investigate the matter of Wolsey’s dissolutions; and the Commissioners for Musters in 1539 included John Gifford, John Vernon, Walter Wrottesley, George Gresley, William Bassett, Edward Lyttleton, and Thomas Gifford.[59] John Vernon was Sheriff in the nineteenth, twenty-fourth, and thirtieth years of the[55] reign; John Gifford in the twenty-second and the thirty-third; Walter Wrottesley in the thirty-eighth; George Gresley in the twenty-ninth; William Bassett in the thirty-fourth; Edward Lyttleton in the thirty-first; Thomas Gifford in the twenty-first. They were eminently “men of affairs,” well acquainted with public and official work.

Detailed instructions were given them.[60] Dividing themselves into sub-commissions, with three members as a quorum, they were to examine upon oath all persons concerned, and to inspect the necessary books and documents. Only certain specified deductions were to be allowed, and names and full details were in all cases to be given.

We know from the Returns of the Commissioners which of them investigated the Rural Deanery of Lapey and Trysull: Sir John Talbot, John Gifford, Walter Wrottesley, and John Grosvenor.[61] When the work had been completed in detail all the Commissioners for each diocese were to meet together and draw up a General Diocesan Return. The result of their work has been published by royal authority as Valor Ecclesiasticus.[62]

It is a document of very great interest and importance. If the readiness with which the clergy raised the enormous fine of £100,000 from the Province of Canterbury and £18,840 0s. lOd. from York, for having acquiesced in Wolsey’s legatine authority, first opened Henry VIII’s eyes to the financial possibilities of the[56] clergy, as may well have been the case, it is probable that the data supplied by Valor Ecclesiasticus showed him how to proceed to further supplies from the same source. To confiscate the whole of the clerical wealth was out of the question, but the Returns, by giving it in detail, made it possible to proceed piecemeal. That the Returns did thus suggest the suppression of monasteries seems to be indicated by the seventh article of the Act for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries, which points out that those which came within its scope could be ascertained from the Returns which had just been made.

In various ways Valor Ecclesiasticus is the most satisfactory record we have of the economy of the religious houses at the time of their dissolution, in spite of very serious drawbacks which we shall mention. It is, as a rule, plain and definite, and it is the only document we have which professes to give a statement of the monastic economy with any approach to completeness. In both of these respects it is superior to other sources of information. The “Particulars for Grants” relate, of course, only to such portions of the monastic lands as were desired by the applicant who supplied them, and the Computi Ministrorum which are printed at the end of the information about many of the religious houses in Monasticon are also incomplete. They are the first accounts of the possessions of the several monasteries as rendered to the Augmentation Office immediately after the Dissolution by the King’s Ministers and Receivers; but they show that already some of the property had changed hands. They supplement the particulars of Valor Ecclesiasticus,[57] and afford a certain amount of basis for comparison and criticism, but they are drawn up on a different plan and with a different object, and so a complete comparison by means of them is difficult. It is also difficult in some places to understand the method of reckoning which is adopted in them.

It is easy to point out the deficiencies of Valor Ecclesiasticus.

That the Commissioners did not always succeed in ascertaining the whole income of the monasteries was by no means the fault of the Government. They kept in touch with their agents throughout the work; indeed, constant supervision and stimulus was wise, for the work was difficult and had to be done in a short time. It was ordered to be accomplished by the octave of Trinity following the issue of the Commissions, and it was actually finished soon afterwards. The Staffordshire Commissioners, under the guidance of the obsequious Bishop Lee, who was well experienced in official work, were the first, with a single exception, to send in their returns. Lee wrote to Cromwell on September 22nd (1535): “Your comfortable letters have made me strong and whole, and able to return to the King’s service. We delivered by Thomas Moreton, one of my assistants in the Commission, the taxation of the churches in Staffordshire in the course of last term, when there was not one except Kent that so did. The Court of Exchequer was well satisfied.”[63]

To carry out so huge a task in so short a time was to ensure much superficial work. It is true that the business habits of Englishmen and the bureaucratic nature[58] of the Tudor administration, and the large number of lay officials, bailiffs, stewards, collectors, etc., in the employ of the monasteries, made the investigation easier than might otherwise have been the case. But even so there must have been many difficulties. We find in the returns ample evidence that through haste but little was done in the way of checking entries and balancing accounts. In the returns from Rocester Abbey the expenditure is given in four groups, each with its correct total. But the addition of the four totals is £1 too little. In the case of Stone Priory the “spiritual” balance is given as £68, etc., whereas it should be £59, etc., a difference of £9. But the tithe paid is correct for £119 14s. 11¼d., which is exactly £9 more than the real sum of the temporal and spiritual balances as these are shown. The official probably intended to write the spiritual balance as £lviiii, but when he came to make his final addition he read it as £lxviii, a mistake not difficult to make. Other mistakes of a similar nature will be noticed. No doubt it was difficult to compare and check the returns from different dioceses, as they came in at different times; and the omissions, from the stated incomes of monasteries, of items which elsewhere are noted as being paid to them, are probably due rather to deliberate concealment on the part of the monks than to any grave slackness on the part of the Commissioners. For instance, £2 3s. is noted in the valuation of the churches of Berkswick, Bushbury and Weston, as being paid to Stone Priory, but no trace of it appears in the monastic return. But it is remarkable that in the valuation of Dudley Priory no mention is made[59] of the 10s. from Dudley Vicarage, or in that of Trentham Priory of the 6s. 8d. from Hulton Abbey, a few miles away, and the valuation of which immediately precedes it. The £4 6s. 8d. given in the valuation of Rocester Abbey as being paid to a chantry at Lichfield does not appear in the Cathedral valuation. The remarkable omissions in the Burton investigation will be dealt with fully later on.

Again, many of the valuations could only be approximations: such were the returns made of offerings and payments in kind, and of the demesnes. It is, indeed, distinctly stated, as a rule, that the value of the demesne is given “according to the valuation of the Commissioners” or of one of them: Walter Wrottesley estimated the demesne at Dudley. Sometimes they called in assistance, possibly that of experts, or perhaps of local men, as happened at Rocester.

The Valor Ecclesiasticus, therefore, cannot be regarded as a complete statement of the monastic income. Its deficiencies as regards expenditure are still more grave. Only certain disbursements were allowed to be taken into account—regular pensions, rents, endowed doles, and fees to bailiffs, collectors of rents, etc., auditors, and stewards, episcopal visitation fees, synodals and proxies. The statute had allowed other fees also to be deducted, such as those to the Chancellor and Judges, but the instructions to the Commissioners omitted these, and they are usually disallowed. The object of the investigation being to show as large a net balance of income as possible, disbursements were reduced to a minimum. Only those which could not be avoided were shown, and[60] because any particular item of expenditure is not shown in any particular return we cannot assert with confidence that it was actually not incurred. Only two corrodies are recorded in the whole of Staffordshire, and alms at Burton, Rocester and Tutbury only, yet we know that Dieulacres maintained eight poor bedeswomen.

The investigation was a contest between the two parties—the Commissioners, whose primary object was to make the income as large and the expenditure as small as possible, and the monks who naturally desired to reverse the proportion. The result was that there were serious omissions on both sides of the account, and the Valor Ecclesiasticus is, accordingly, a very incomplete statement of the accounts of the religious houses. The omissions as regards income are many, but the information as to expenditure can only be described as altogether inadequate and incomplete. The Commissioners were not allowed to show much expenditure, even if they wished to do so: it was easy for them to allow little if they so desired. Under the direction of Bishop Lee it may safely be assumed that in Staffordshire they allowed the barest minimum.

The fictitious character of the expenditure side of the account is well illustrated by the case of Burton-on-Trent. When, as will be described later,[64] the valuation sent in by the Commissioners was found to be hopelessly erroneous, and a revised statement was drawn up by the order of the Chancellor, Sir Thomas Audley, which increased the revenue from £356 16s. 3½d.[61] to £501 7s. 0½d., the expenditure was, apparently, not re-investigated. In face of the enormous increase of income which had been shown the Chancellor could well afford to spare himself the trouble of enquiring whether the statement of expenses needed revising: he treated it with scornful indifference and passed it with the contemptuous remark at the foot of the more profitable survey: “Mem. to deducte owte of thys boke ye allowaunces accordinge to ye olde boke.”

Yet, in spite of these deficiencies, the Valor Ecclesiasticus may tell us much, if we bear in mind its limitations. The valuations made after the Dissolution were expressly ordered to be compared with the Valor Ecclesiasticus and, as has been mentioned, they afford useful data for comparison. It is not surprising that they are usually higher in amount. The Surveyors had gained experience, and they had the previous survey for a guide. No source of income previously recorded would be likely to be overlooked, while those which had been omitted would now be discovered. The Surveyors, of course, desired to make their valuation as high as possible in order to ingratiate themselves with the Government. But, while the income in Valor Ecclesiasticus may well be less than is correct, that of the Dissolution officials could not easily be excessive. If in any case it were so, the fact would soon be proved by the would-be purchasers.

The Staffordshire Returns in Valor Ecclesiasticus are arranged as follows:[65]

1. Rural Deanery of Lapley and Trysull. This[62] includes Brewood Nunnery and Dudley Priory. The names of the Commissioners who did the work for the Rural Deanery are recorded, as we have mentioned, and Walter Wrottesley is expressly stated to have estimated the value of the demesne at Dudley. Disbursements are reduced to a vanishing point at Brewood and to little better at Dudley, only the fees of the steward, Edward Blount, gent., and the bailiff, John Coke, being allowed.

2. Rural Deanery of Newcastle and Stone. This includes Hulton Abbey, Trentham Priory, St. Thomas’s Priory at Stafford, Stone Priory and Ronton Priory. No records of alms or payments for education are shown, though a corrody is allowed at Trentham.

3. Stafford Archdeaconry.

4. Rural Deanery of Leek and Alton. In this are included Dieulacres, Rocester and Croxden Abbeys. Payments are shown to the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter, and at Croxden the unusual item of 13s. 4d. to “the General Reformator of the Cistercian Order.” But, as we have already shown, this official was of Royal, not of Papal appointment. The arrangement of the valuation is alike for all three abbeys, and alms are only recorded at Rocester.

5. Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, and the Cathedral at Lichfield.

6. Tutbury Priory and Burton Abbey. Alms are noticed in both cases, and the Commissioners appear to have been unusually lenient.

7. Tamworth Collegiate Church.


8. Deanery of Tamworth and Tutbury.

A rough calculation of the net income of the Church in Staffordshire, as shown in the above returns, has been made as follows:

Rural Deaneries—Lapley and Trysull £536 16
Newcastle and Stone 887 4 817/24
Leek and Alton 594 12
Deanery—Tamworth and Tutbury 354 15 4
Bishop of Lichfield (Staffs. only) 345 7 3⅛
Lichfield Cathedral—Dean and Chapter 58 14 1
Prebends 272 3 4
Choristers 16 18 10½
Vicars Choral 137 17 6
Priests Vicars 114 9 6
Clerks 51 0
Chantry Priests 6 17 4
Chantries 106 13 2
St. John’s Hospital, Lichfield 8 15 0
Tutbury Priory 199 14 10
Burton Abbey 412 5 0
Tamworth Collegiate Church 66 1 0
Total £4,170 5 9⅚

As far as possible the income from Staffordshire only is shown as regards the bishop, etc., but it was not always easy to separate the items. No visitation fees are shown, as they could not be apportioned between the counties: the total was £34 19s.

Of the total shown above, the net income of the religious houses is given as £1,608 5s. 2¾d., or rather less than two-fifths.

The following table gives the figures relating to the religious houses as they appear in Valor Ecclesiasticus: they must be read in conjunction with the notes which follow the table:


Part 1 of table

Receipts Expenditure Balance
Brewood Nunnery 11 1 6 11 1 6
Burton-on-Trent 1st 271 11 33 8 8 238 2
 „  „ 2nd 402 15 ditto 369 6
Croxden 94 10 3 9 10 10 84 19 5
Dieulacres 174 13 2 13 18 0 160 15 2
Dudley Priory (Cell) 15 5 4 2 6 8 12 18 8
Hulton 67 0 7 3 6 59 16
Rocester 56 9 7 5 15 4 50 14 3
Ronton 64 17 9 4 3 60 14
Stafford, St. Thomas 130 16 15 3 11 115 12 [66]
Stone 54 12 11 3 13 5 50 19 6
Trentham 83 19 0[67] 8 5 10 75 14 2[67]
Tutbury 170 18 4 20 14 0 150 4 4
Total (not including Burton 1st) 1326 19 124 3 1202 17 2

Part 2 of table

Receipts Expenditure Balance
Brewood Nunnery
Burton-on-Trent 1st 85 5 0 55 13 =29 11
 „  „  2nd 98 11 8 ditto 42 18
Croxden 8 16 4 3 9 10 5 6 6
Dieulacres 68 10 4 2 0 6 66 9 10
Dudley Priory (Cell) 21 2 8 21 2 8
Hulton 20 10 0 3 11 9 16 18 3
Rocester 46 1 6 6 12 10½ 39 8
Ronton 46 13 10 8 5 3 38 8 7
Stafford, St. Thomas 50 2 4 24 1 8⅔ 26 0 7⅓
Stone 75 10 0 15 14 6⅔ 68 15
Trentham 37 3 4 6 13 71/12 30 9
Tutbury 73 18 4 24 7 10 49 10 6
Total (not including Burton 1st) 547 0 4 150 11 35/12 405 9

Part 3 of table

Receipts Expenditure Balance
Brewood Nunnery 11 1 6 11 1 6
Burton-on-Trent 1st 356 16 89 2 267 14 3
 „  „ 2nd 501 7 ditto 412 5 0
Croxden 103 6 7 13 0 8 90 5 11
Dieulacres 243 3 6 15 18 6 227 5 0
Dudley Priory (Cell) 36 8 0 2 6 8 34 1 4
Hulton 87 10 10 15 3 76 14 0
Rocester 102 11 1 12 8 90 2 10¾
Ronton 111 11 7 11 8 100 2 10½
Stafford, St. Thomas 180 18 39 5 7⅔ 141 13 [66]
Stone 130 2 11 19 7 11⅔ 119 14 11¼
Trentham 121 2 4[67] 14 19 51/12 106 3 9[67]
Tutbury 244 16 8 45 1 10 199 14 10
Total (not including Burton 1st) 1874 0 273 14 1011/12 1608 5

Part 4 of table

Tithe Paid
Brewood Nunnery 1 2 2
Burton-on-Trent 1st 26 15 5
 „  „ 2nd 41 4 6
Croxden 9 0 7
Dieulacres 22 14 6
Dudley Priory (Cell) 3 8
Hulton 7 13 6
Rocester 9 0
Ronton 10 0
Stafford, St. Thomas 14 3
Stone 11 19 6
Trentham 10 12
Tutbury 19 19 6
Total (not including Burton 1st) 160 18

[66] and 1 lb. of pepper.

[67] and 4 barbed arrows.


In connection with the above table the following details may be noted here: other points will be considered when we come to examine the details.

Burton-on-Trent. In the first valuation the details of the Derbyshire temporalities amount to £73 11s. 2d., not £73 6s. 2d. In Roman numerals the shillings appear as vis. instead of xis..—a mistake easily made. The total of temporalities appears, therefore, as £271 11s. 3½d. instead of £271 16s. 3½d., and this affects the calculation throughout. The gross income should be £357 1s. 3½d. and the net income £267 19s. 3d.

In the second valuation the details of the temporalities amount to £414 14s. 4½d. instead of £402 15s. 4½d. as given: the spiritualities amount to £99 5s. instead of £98 11s. 8d. The total income (gross) should therefore be £513 19s. 4½d. instead of £501 7s. 0½d., leaving the net balance £424 17s. 4d. instead of £412 5s.

Croxden. See below, page 97.

Dieulacres. The gross total income is given as £243 2s. 6d., whereas the totals of the various sections amount to £243 3s. 6d. As the total of the disbursements to be deducted is given as £15 18s. 6d. and the net final balance as £227 5s. (i.e., £243 3s. 6d.—£15 18s. 6d.) the sum first named is probably a misprint in the printed edition. I have, therefore, given the correct figures of the gross total income in my table.

Hulton. The gross balance as given is 10½d. too little, but in working out the tenth this appears to have been remembered. A tenth of £76 14s. is £7 13s. 4¾d. and a fraction. This added to a tenth of the 10½d. gives £7 13s. 6d. nearly.

Rocester. The items of expenditure are arranged in four groups, and the four totals are correctly given. They make £12 8s. 8½d. in all, but this is noted below as £11 8s. 8½d., and this is the amount which is deducted from the gross total income to make the balance of £100 2s. 10½d. The balance ought to be £99 2s. 10½d.

Ronton. In stating the spiritual outgoings the amounts are given with great minuteness. For instance, the Bishop’s annual Visitation Fee is set forth as £1 2s. 2½d. + ⅓ of ½d. The result is that this small fraction appears throughout the succeeding calculation, until at last the gross balance becomes £lxxxx iis. xd. ob’ iias ptes ob’.


Stafford, St. Thomas. In the spiritual disbursements the total is given as £24 1s. 8½d. and ⅓ of ½d., and in the deduction of the total expenditure from the total income the last item is put as 2⅓d., whereas it apparently should be 1⅝d.

Stone. In the spiritualities the balance is printed in V.E. as £68 15s. 5¼d., whereas it should be £59 15s. 5⅓d. The final balance, therefore, should be £110 14s. 11⅓d. instead of as shown in the table.

As the tithe paid (£11 19s. 6d.) is correct for £119 14s. 11¼d. the mistake is probably due to the official: he wrote £lviiii when he put down the total spiritual income, but read it as £lxviii when he added the total.

Trentham. In temporalities the balance should be £75 13s. 2d. according to the figures given, and this error of 10d. affects the whole calculation. The final balance, according to the figures given in V.E., should be £106 2s. 10-11/12d. If the 10d. be added it becomes practically what V.E. makes it, viz., £106 3s. 8-11/12d.

From the table it is evident that the total income of the religious houses amounted to something like £1,608 5s. 2¾d., at least, so far as Staffordshire is concerned. Only a small fraction of this was returned to the Church when the property of the monasteries was confiscated, and practically nothing of the “moveable” wealth they contained. How great this latter was is shown by the proceeds of the sales which were conducted at the Suppression. We shall revert to the subject later.

The extent to which the monasteries had “robbed” the parish churches is shown by the following figures, taken from Valor Ecclesiasticus. The first column gives the tithes received by the monasteries, the second gives the amounts which came from parish churches in other ways, such as glebe, offerings, etc. The third gives the payments made by the monasteries to churches. In all cases the figures are from Valor Ecclesiasticus.


Tithes Received Other Income from Churches Payments to Churches
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Brewood Nunnery
Burton Abbey 46 6 8 52 13 4 4 6 8
Croxden Abbey 8 15 4 1 3 0
Dieulacres Abbey 57 19 8 10 10 8 18 6
Dudley Priory 18 16 8 2 6 0
Hulton Abbey 18 10 0 2 0 0 5 4
Rocester Priory 47 13 10 16 8
Ronton Priory 46 1 6 1 0
St. Thomas’s Priory 40 2 8 9 19 8 3 4
Stone Priory 53 10 0 22 0 0
Trentham Priory 14 10 4 21 13 4
Tutbury Priory 49 0 4 20 16 4 11 13 4
£401 7 0 £141 19 5 £19 7 10

In all, the Staffordshire monasteries took £543 6s. 5d. at least from parishes in tithes, glebe, oblations, Easter dues and the like, and gave to churches the utterly insignificant sum of £19 7s. 10d. As Cistercian houses, long ago exempted by the Lateran Council of 1215, Croxden, Dieulacres, and Hulton, paid no tithe on land in their own occupation, and many other houses had obtained a similar privilege by special Bulls. Probably also the Commissioners did not return the tithe when it was paid to the church belonging to the monastery. In such cases, the payment of tithe among the disbursements would simply have cancelled the receipt of the tithe among the receipts. The following details illustrate the way in which money came from the parish churches. It is not an exhaustive table:


Glebe Tithes Easter Dues Oblations
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Hulton Abbey
Audley 1 0 0 10 0 0
Byddell 10 0 4 0 0
Cambryngham (Linc.) 10 0 4 10 0
Trentham Priory
Trentham 8 13 4 3 0 0 10 0
Barleston 5 17 0 13 4 3 0
St. Thomas’s Priory, Stafford
Stowe 1 10 8 7 0 0 2 0 0
Bushbury 6 8 6 6 8
Cariswall 3 6 8
Weston-on-Trent 1 17 0 2 7 6
Geyton 5 0 3 1 10
Berkswick 1 0 0 2 13 4 1 13 4
Meyre 2 0 0
Aldelem (Chesh.) 1 7 0 13 6 8
Stone Priory
Stone 19 0 0 8 0 0 3 0 0
Milwich 8 10 0
Tyso (Warw.) 8 0 0 16 0 0
Ronton Priory
Seyghtford 13 4 6
Grenburgh (Warw.) 32 17 0
Dieulacres Abbey
Leek 1 4 0 34 3 8 6 5 4 2 6 8
Sandbach (Chesh.) 14 8 23 16 0
Rocester, Waterfalland Bradley 15 7 2
Edensor (Derbysh.) 11 0 0
Kynston 7 0 0
Woodford (Northants.) 13 6 8
Croxden Abbey
Alton 2 5 4
Tokeby (Leics.) 4 0 0
Norton  „ 2 10 0
Tutbury Priory
Doveridge 6 6 8
Church Broughton 12 0 0
Marston 6 0 0
Tutbury 7 0 0
Matherfield 10 0 0 [69]
Wymondham and Thorpe (Lincs.) 13 4
Burton Abbey
Burton-on-Trent 23(£33)
St. Modwen’s Chapel 2 0 0
Abbots Bromley 13 6 8
Ilam 8 13 8
Blithfield[68] 1 0 0
Grindon[68] 13 4
Leigh[68] 3 6 8
Hamstall Ridware[68] 5 0
Cauldon Chapel[68] 2 6 8
Mickleover, etc.[68] 8 13 4
Stapenhill[68] 10 0
Allestree[68] (Warw.) 15 0 0

[68] In these cases it is not stated from what particular source the amounts are derived.

The figures in heavy type are from the second survey in Valor Ecclesiasticus.

Voluntary offerings amount to an absolutely insignificant sum, £7 19s. 8d. for the whole county. This is not surprising. It was difficult to obtain particulars if the monks were reticent on the matter, and, also, there is no doubt that recent religious events, and the whole trend of affairs, had seriously affected all forms of charity. It is probable, therefore, that although the voluntary offerings ought to be larger in amount than they appear in Valor Ecclesiasticus, they did not stand at a very high figure.

Chantries are only mentioned in connection with Burton-on-Trent and Rocester. At the former, £5 was paid annually to the Chaplain of the Chantry at Sallow, in Derbyshire, according to the ordinance of John Stafford, formerly Abbot, and 2s. annually was paid towards the maintenance of a lamp in the church[70] of Allestree. At Rocester £4 6s. 8d. is stated as being paid for the maintenance of a chantry at Lichfield Cathedral, though no trace of it is to be found in the Cathedral returns.

Here again we cannot accept the evidence as complete, and cannot understand the motives which actuated the Commissioners and caused the instructions to be interpreted as they were. Why the incomes of chantries should be particularly apportioned at cathedrals and elsewhere, and not at the religious houses, is not evident. Certainly chantries existed in the religious houses. For instance, in 1517 Sir John Fitzherbert, of Norbury, had made bequests in his will to “the Chantries” at Rocester and Calwich.[69] The only payment for a lamp is the one already mentioned.

Fees in connection with Episcopal Visitations are found at Hulton (6s. 8d.), Trentham (£3 17s. 4d.), Stafford (£3 6s. 8d.), Stone (£3 6s. 8d.), Ronton (£3 6s. 8d.), and Burton (£3 6s. 7½d.). These amounts shown were paid triennially. The post-Dissolution valuation of Dudley Priory shows that 2s. a year was paid there also as Bishop’s Visitation Fees.

The Archdeacon also received annual Visitation Fees, and fees for procurations, etc. Fees for appropriations were paid in some cases to the Bishop and in others to the Dean and Chapter. The following shows the total annual payments, as given in Valor Ecclesiasticus, to the Bishop, the Dean and Chapter, and the Archdeacons.


Bishop Dean & Chapter Archdeacon
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Brewood Nunnery
Burton Abbey 3 9 6 13 4 17 9
Croxden Abbey 1 0 6
Dieulacres Abbey 1 2 0
Dudley Priory [2]
Hulton Abbey 2 1 10⅔ 3 4 5 4
Rocester Priory 1 4 7
Ronton Priory 1 10 2⅔
St. Thomas’s Priory 3 6 9⅔ 18 10 0 1 10 6
Stone Priory 1 8 6⅔ 2 14 4 19 0
Trentham Priory 1 6 5⅔ 13 4
Tutbury Priory 13 4 6 13 4 2 7 10
Total £13 16 7⅚ £34 14 4 £10 0 10

It is interesting to notice that two of the three Cistercian Abbeys, although they had not adhered to the earlier rule of their Order to abstain from the appropriation of benefices, had nevertheless managed to avoid the payments to either Bishop or Dean and Chapter which such appropriations usually entailed; and also that they are the only houses for men which did not pay Visitation Fees to the Bishop. But Ronton alone could show no payments to the Archdeacon: his all-embracing activity was evidently not less in the sixteenth century than it had been in the days of John of Salisbury, who characteristically propounded the problem an possit archidiaconus salvus esse?



Many causes had combined to undermine the stability of the religious houses. Their pecuniary usefulness to Pope and King tended to make them the shuttlecock of politics. Their extensive worldly possessions made them objects of jealousy to their neighbours, while the secular spirit with which they became infected when they were drawn into the “full stream of the world” weakened their spiritual influence and made them at once more susceptible to attacks and less capable of effective opposition. Events and tendencies beyond their power to control, like the Black Death, the Hundred Years’ War, the Wars of the Roses, and the Revival of Learning, in turn exercised a disastrous influence upon them.

Seriously affected in wealth, numbers, and efficiency by the Black Death and its consequences; sharing in the lawlessness and demoralisation which accompanied the French War in its later stages, and the Wars of the Roses; lacking the supervision and guidance which active bishops had at any rate attempted, and not always ineffectually, to exercise; in the sixteenth century the religious houses were very different in character from what they had originally been. Even in material things they had changed. They had once been leaders in agricultural development, but their methods were now old-fashioned, ineffective, and out[73] of date. Their wide domains were no longer the sources of wealth they formerly had been. New methods and new outlets for trade had left them behind. Unwise leases only gave temporary relief, and crippled instead of improving resources. All landowners were indeed feeling the effects of the economic changes, and a result was increased claims upon the monasteries by kings and patrons; and the religious houses were not in a condition to make effective opposition. They were not worse than their neighbours: their weakness lay in the fact that they were so little different from them. Up to the present there had been no definite charges of moral delinquency brought by authority against the monastic system. Good or bad, they were looked upon as part of the settled order of things by all except a few theorists and extremists.

There is no call, therefore, to consider as yet the question of their moral condition. In these earlier years of the “Reformation” the subject of interest to the government of the day was their financial value. With their finances only, therefore, we are as yet concerned.

With Valor Ecclesiasticus to guide us as to the main outlines, it is possible to form a fairly correct estimate of the material condition of the Staffordshire houses at the time when the idea of the Dissolution of the Monasteries was being gradually evolved. We are able to draw up a balance sheet for each of the houses, and to obtain an insight into its revenues, possessions, and expenditure.

The largest and most important house in Staffordshire[74] was the Benedictine Abbey of Burton-on-Trent. It had been of some renown in the past. Its Chronicle[70] incorporated many historical documents of first-rate importance. It had done much for the town. It had frequently given hospitality to kings, prelates, and lords: one of its rooms was actually still called “the King’s Chamber.” Recently its Abbot, Dr. William Boston, had made himself acceptable to Cromwell, had been summoned to Parliament, had been placed in various positions where he could make himself useful to the Government, and had been promoted to the headship of the great Abbey of Westminster. His successor at Burton had been elected directly through the influence of Cromwell’s representatives and he retained Cromwell’s favour accordingly. It might have been expected that when the Commissioners visited Burton-on-Trent they would be received with cordiality and would be able to count on every assistance.

It is surprising, therefore, to find that Burton Abbey is the only one in England where we know that an entirely false return was supplied. Indeed the Return from Burton Abbey which the Commissioners for Tenths sent in was so entirely erroneous that a second survey had to be made. There are two valuations of some other monasteries, but in such cases one is really an abbreviation of the other. The second survey of Burton is, however, a substitute for the first.

The original Summary in Valor Ecclesiasticus appears in its place[71] but is superseded by another which[75] is written on a separate paper attached to the parchment.[72] The second is made authoritative by a note appended at the foot of the first survey under the following circumstances. The gross income having been stated to be £356 16s. 3½d. and the expenses £89 2s. O½d. (leaving a balance of £267 14s. 3d.), the tithe would, therefore, be under ordinary circumstances £26 15s. 5d. But the amount is stated to be £41 4s. 6d., with the explanatory note: “Plus oneratur pro xiiiili. ixs. id. per billam domini cancellarii.” On referring to the second survey we find it is signed by the Chancellor, Thomas Audley, and gives the gross income as £501 7s. 0½d. It allows the correctness of the expenditure as stated in the other survey, and when this is deducted from the revised total the net income becomes £412 5s., the tithe from which is that previously noted, namely £14 9s. 1d. more than was due according to the first survey.

The problem raised by the existence of the two surveys is interesting, and may be compared with a similar one which arises in the early history of the same Abbey. There is no mention in Domesday Book of the bulk of the territory of the Manor and Parish of Burton-on-Trent, some 6,000 acres, which the Abbey possessed and in the midst of which it stood. Although the land lay in two counties and should have been surveyed by two distinct sets of Domesday officials, no trace of any report of either has been found, and the final summary is silent. Whether the Abbot in the eleventh century procured the suppression by tampering with both sets of commissioners, or[76] whether he evaded the survey of both by playing off one against the other, or whether he was specially exempted by the Crown, cannot be known.

In the case of Henry VIII’s survey there is much the same uncertainty. External history tells us nothing, and little can be gleaned from the summaries themselves. The following table is an attempt to exhibit a comparative analysis of the two surveys. The income, temporal and spiritual, is arranged according to its sources and character. It must be borne in mind that here we have to deal with the items as they are detailed and not with the official totals as those are given, sometimes wrongly, in Valor Ecclesiasticus. The totals shown in the table do not, therefore, always agree with the figures which appeared in the table on page 64. (See Notes following that table.)

This was not the first occasion on which Burton had pretended to be poorer than it actually was. The royal claim to nominate men, disbanded soldiers or others for whom it was desired to provide at other people’s expense, to corrodies at the religious houses, was at times a grave abuse. The Patent Rolls show vast numbers of such nominations. In the course of a few years we find, as regards Burton only,[73] two men sent there in 1316 and another sent in 1317; in 1318 John le Treour was sent on account of his good service to the King and to Queen Isabella in the place of one who had died; Treour lived till 1323, and on his death John le Nakerer was immediately substituted. The presence of such outsiders in what professed to be religious communities must have been exceedingly embarrassing to any who were trying to live in the spirit of the rules, and most prejudicial to spirituality and discipline. It was, however, difficult to oppose the royal commands. Burton tried to do so in 1310 and failed ignominiously.[74] Thomas de Bannebury, who had long served Edward II and his father, was sent to the Abbot and Convent to receive the necessaries of life in food and drink, clothing, etc., according to his estate. They replied to the royal missive with a profession of their willingness to acquiesce if they had the power to do so, but they pleaded that their house was the poorest and smallest of their Order in England, and was more heavily charged than any in proportion to its means. They, therefore, asserted their inability to receive the royal pensioner. For answer, they were told that there was trustworthy evidence that their assertions were false, and on their continued efforts to avoid compliance they were summarily ordered to admit Bannebury, and were told that their excuses were frivolous, untruthful, and unacceptable.



Part 1 of table

Demesne Meadows
1 2 1 2
Shobnal Grange—
Arable £1 13s. 4d.║
Pasture 3 0 0 ║ 6 13 4 6 13 4
Meadow 2 0 0 ║
Bromley Hurst   ║ 7 6 8 11 13 4=
Bentley Park (meadow)║ 4 0 0
Seney Park 6 0 0 8 0 0=
Burton-on-Trent 24 0 0[76] 24 0 0 3 0 0
Hornington and Whitmere
Abbots Bromley
Field (Thomas Bagot, Kt)
Okeover (Humph. Okeover, Kt.)
Divers pastures near the Trent 4 10 0
Near Whitmere
Stapenhill║ 13 4 13 4
Winshill ║
Mickleover Manor
Littleover  „
Findern  „
Willington and Pothlac
Allestree (Warwicks)
Appleby (Leices.)
Total 48 13 4 51 0 0 3 0 0 4 10 0

Part 2 of table

Lands and tenements Chief Rents
1 2 1 2
Shobnal Grange—
Arable £1 13s. 4d.
Pasture 3 0 0
Meadow 2 0 0
Bromley Hurst 40 6 8[75] 40 6 8[75]
Bentley Park (meadow)
Seney Park
Burton-on-Trent 21 7 0 63 15 4[76] 13 0 0 13 0 0
Branstone 9 4 0 12 14 5
Hornington and Whitmere 11 13 0 15 5 8 3 0
Stretton 13 2 3 19 3 9
Anslow 13 4 13 5 4
Abbots Bromley 16 10 11 4 7 7 7
Leigh 4 0 0 5 0 0
Field (Thomas Bagot, Kt) 1 0 0
Pillatonhall 16 0 16 0
Darlastone 2 11 0 2 11 0
Okeover (Humph. Okeover, Kt.) 1 6 8 1 6 8
Weston 10 0 10 0
Divers pastures near the Trent
Collingwood 1 6 8
Near Whitmere 8 13 4
Stapenhill 7 4 6 11 4 6 3 0
Winshill 8 7 1 13 13 2
Derby 3 6 8[76] 3 6 8[76] 1 14 0
Cauldwell 7 2 1 9 17 6
Mickleover Manor 4 0
Littleover  „
Findern  „
Ticknall 10 0 10 0
Willington and Pothlac 2 1 8 1 16 4
Huncedon 6 0 0 6 0 0
Allestree (Warwicks) 10 10 0 17 12 6
Appleby (Leices.) 7 3 0 10 5 0 5 4
London 2 0 0 2 0 0
Total 147 6 3 251 16 1 31 11 47 16

Part 3 of table

Court Manor
1 2
Shobnal Grange—
Arable £1 13s. 4d.
Pasture 3 0 0
Meadow 2 0 0
Bromley Hurst
Bentley Park (meadow)
Seney Park
Burton-on-Trent 3 6 8 3 6 8
Hornington and Whitmere
Abbots Bromley
Field (Thomas Bagot, Kt)
Okeover (Humph. Okeover, Kt.)
Divers pastures near the Trent
Near Whitmere
Mickleover Manor 16 2 2 24 16 10
Littleover „ 13 4 4 17 15 11
Findern „ 8 12 4 13 12 4=
Willington and Pothlac
Allestree (Warwicks)
Appleby (Leices.)
Total 3 6 8 3 6 8 37 18 10 56 5 1

1st Total £271 16s. 3½d.
[given in _V.E._ as £cclxxi xi. iii ob.]

2nd Total £414 14s. 4½d.
[given in _V.E._ as £ccccii xv iiii ob.]

[75] with 1 water-mill.

[76] with 2 water-mills.



Part 1 of table

Tithes Oblations
1 2 1 2
Burton-on-Trent £23 0 0 £33 0 0
St. Modwen’s Chapel at Andrasia £2 0 0 £2 0 0
Abbots Bromley 13 6 8 13 6 8
Hampstall Ridware
Cauldon Chapel
Mickleover, Littleover and Findern (Derbyshire)
Stapenhill  „
Allestree (Warw.)
Total 36 6 8 46 6 8 2 0 0 2 0 0

Part 2 of table

Church and Glebe Church
1 2 1 2
St. Modwen’s Chapel at Andrasia
Abbots Bromley
Ilam £8 0 0 £8 13 4
Hampstall Ridware
Cauldon Chapel 2 6 8
Mickleover, Littleover and Findern (Derbyshire) 8 13 4 8 13 4
Stapenhill  „ 10 0 0 10 0 0
Allestree (Warw.) 15 0 0 16 0 0=
Total 8 0 0 11 0 0 33 13 4 34 13 4

Part 3 of table

1 2
St. Modwen’s Chapel at Andrasia
Abbots Bromley
Blithfield £1 0 0 £1 0 0
Grindon 13 4 13 4
Leigh 3 6 8 3 6 8
Hampstall Ridware 5 0 5 0
Cauldon Chapel
Mickleover, Littleover and Findern (Derbyshire)
Stapenhill  „
Allestree (Warw.)
Total 5 5 0 5 5 0

1st Total £85 5s.
2nd „ £99 5s.
Given in _V.E._ as £lxxxxviii xi viii


Whether the official opinion in this case was just we need not enquire. We must, however, examine with some care the attempt which, as it appears, was made to mislead the Commissioners for First Fruits and Tenths in the reign of Henry VIII.

It will be noticed that by far the largest individual additions which are made in the second survey come from rents in Burton and its suburbs. In the first survey no mention at all is made of the special endowments[81] of the Prior (£2), Almoner (£8), Cook (£8 6s. 8d.), Custodian of St. Mary’s Chapel (£4), and Martyrologist (£14). The kitchen at Burton had long been well endowed. Abbot Nicholas (ob. 1197) was the first to put it on a business-like footing. Abbot Nicholas de Wallingford (1216–1222) and Abbot Richard de Insula (1222–1223) had added to its endowments. No mention is made of the Chantries of William Branstone (£4), or William Beyne (£8 13s. 4d.). The former had been Abbot in the fifteenth century and had died in 1474. The latter had been Abbot from 1502 to 1533 and had endowed the Grammar School. Considerable rents are omitted from “divers pastures near the Trent,” where fed the sheep which had once made the Abbey wool famous. In an old list of the English monasteries which supplied wool to the Florentine markets in 1315 the wool from Burton is described as in Torcea, probably the same as wool de marisco, which was usually classed by itself. Torcea appears to mean a dyke or embankment, and the Burton sheep probably pastured in these low fields near the Trent which were secured from inundation by means of embankments.[77] Rents from Abbots Bromley (£16 10s. 11d.), one of the oldest of the Abbey’s estates, and Derby are also omitted. Even in the items which are given in both lists, the second shows a considerable increase in nearly every instance. The rents from Allestree are raised by £7 2s. 6d.; the valuation of the Manor of Mickleover is increased by £8 14s. 8d.; the chief rents from Anslow actually leap from 13s. 4d. to[82] £13 5s. 4d. The increase in the valuations of the other manors is also considerable.

“Seney Park,” the valuation of which is increased from £6 to £8, was to the west of the town, near Shobnall Grange. The Abbey had a house there, surrounded by a moat, and used as a place of retirement for many generations. The monks used to go there in the fourteenth century to recover from the periodical “blood-letting.” Its name is thus explained by a seventeenth century writer: “The Abbot of Burton-upon-Trent ... having a vast rough hillie ground about a mile distant from the Abbey, called it Sinai, for the likeness it had to that rough wilderness of Sinai where in a mount God appeared unto Moses; which ground to this day retaineth the Name and is now called Sinai Park.”[78]

The only important items which are left unchanged are the valuations of the demesnes at Shobnall Grange and at Burton (with the Court Fees), and the lands on lease (ad firma) at Bromley Hurst and this may suggest a possible explanation of the problem we are considering.

It is quite impossible to understand how it was that William Edie, the Abbot elected through Cromwell’s influence,[79] allowed the Commissioners to be misled. We might have expected that his sense of obligation to his patron would have led him to make a full disclosure, though we shall hardly blame him for not doing so. But for him to expect that he could successfully conceal the true state of things from such[83] an administration as that of Cromwell argues more simplicity than we should expect to find in one of Cromwell’s nominees. Through some means, however, the first set of officials was hoodwinked. But the success of the monks was short-lived. The Chancellor received information from some source unknown to us, which led him to order a second investigation. A tradition survived at the Office of First-Fruits and Tenths that the Liber Regis, into which were copied many of the Returns of the Commissioners, was transcribed by a monk of Westminster.[80] Dr. Boston was Abbot of Westminster at the time, and if the tradition represents the truth he may well have seen the survey of his old Abbey of Burton while it was being written out. He would at once recognise its incompleteness and we may be sure would lose no time in giving information to the authorities. Or Dan Richard Gorton, one of the monks of Burton for whom Cranmer wrote to Cromwell on August 15th, 1535, begging the Priory of Worcester, may have given a hint.[81] At any rate, Chancellor Audley ordered a second valuation to be made. The new officials he sent would, obviously, endeavour to raise all the figures they possibly could: that was the object of their mission. That they were not able to do so in the cases we have mentioned, while they succeeded in[84] doing so in the great majority of cases, taken in conjunction with the fact that they added a considerable number of new items, seems to indicate that the monastic accounts were well kept and the estates well managed; and that probably the way the second commissioners obtained their higher figures was by discovering, by help given to them, that many more lands, tenements, etc., belonged to the Abbey than the first commissioners had been informed of. The impression is one not of falsified, but of incomplete, returns.

The difference between the two surveys is not so great as regards spiritualities, but again the chief increase arises in connection with Burton-on-Trent, the tithes of which are raised from £23 to £33. The tithes of Abbots Bromley are correctly given in the first survey, but the second commissioners discovered £2 6s. 8d. from Cauldon Chapel. They failed, however, to note that the 13s. 4d. from Grindon should be 14s.,[82] and the 16s. from Repton Priory[83] is overlooked altogether. The amount left for the Vicar of Abbots Bromley was £5 1s. 8d.[84]

On the demesne at Shobnall Grange the pasture is worth more than twice the arable land. There are two water-mills worth £12 each at Burton-on-Trent. The total value of the demesnes is £48 13s. 4d. in the first survey and £51 10s. in the second. A water-mill stood at Bromley Hurst and another in the town of Derby. A district of Burton called “Vico Nativorum”[85] is mentioned, though Nativi are seldom mentioned in the Burton Chartularies of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The record that Abbot Thomas de Packington (1281–1305) gave to the Abbey of Polesworth “Henry our native” with all his belongings, is exceptional. The tenement in London, from which £2 rent was received, was probably the “Town House” of the Abbey. The ten villani of Cauldwell in the twelfth century had to provide between them a horse to London for their lord the Abbot. The Court perquisites amount to £3 6s. 8d.—over half the total amount for the county.

The outgoings may be seen from the table on the next page. They were computed at £33 8s. 8d. temporalities, and £55 13s. 4½d. spiritualities. When the total of £89 2s. 0½d. is contrasted with the Chancellor’s enhanced total income of £501 7s. 0½d. (or £513 19s. 4½d. as it appears it ought to have been) we see that he could well afford to spare himself the trouble of investigating it and to pass it with the contemptuous remark at the foot of his more profitable survey, “Mem. to deducte owte of thys boke ye allowaunces accordinge to ye olde boke.” That the outgoings apparently were not investigated, or the “corrected” survey substituted for the one found erroneous, but merely attached to it, taken in conjunction with the mistakes made in the reckoning of the totals (both the spiritualities and temporalities appear to be wrong), suggests that the new valuation was hurriedly made while the work of summarising and digesting was in progress by the Exchequer officials.



Part 1 of table

Corrody Officials
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Church of Burton
Manor of Burton 1 0 0 15 13 4
Town of Burton 3 6 8
Mickleover, etc. 6 8 2 6 8
Allestree 6 8 13 4
Anslow 2 0
Bromley Hurst 6 8 2 0 0
Stapenhill 13 4
Sallow, Chantry Chapel
Abbots Bromley
Abbey of Burton 3 6 8
Branstone, etc 2 0 0
Withington and Pothlac 6 8
£2 2 0 £3 6 8 £28 0 0

Part 2 of table

Bishop’s fees Dean and Chapter Archdeacon’s fees
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Church of Burton 3 4
Manor of Burton
Town of Burton
Mickleover, etc. 5 4
Allestree 1 3 6 6 8
Bromley Hurst
Stapenhill 5 0
Sallow, Chantry Chapel
Abbots Bromley 6 8 6 13 4 11 1
Ilam 3 4
Abbey of Burton 1 2
Branstone, etc
Withington and Pothlac
£3 9 £6 13 4 17 9

Part 3 of table

Churches Lamp and Chantry Alms Education
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d.
Church of Burton
Manor of Burton
Town of Burton
Mickleover, etc.
Allestree 1 0 0 2 0 3 4
Bromley Hurst
Stapenhill 3 6 8
Sallow, Chantry Chapel 5 0 0
Abbots Bromley
Abbey of Burton 23 0 11 12 0 0
Branstone, etc
Withington and Pothlac
£4 6 8 £5 2 0 £23 4 3 £12 0 0
Total temporal expenditure £33 8 8
 „ spiritual  „ £55 13
Total expenditure £89 2


In the disbursements there are many interesting items. A corrody, worth £3 6s. 8d., one of the very small number recorded in Staffordshire, is held by a royal nominee, John Seggewik. £2 is paid annually to a poor scholar, John Belfeld, appointed also by the King: it was a permanent arrangement. £10 is paid to Gloucester College, Oxford. This was the great Benedictine college, and it was suppressed with the larger monasteries. Its modern representative, Worcester College, knows nothing of the £10 from Burton Abbey. On the other hand, Valor Ecclesiasticus recorded that Worcester Monastery still received £4 from the King’s College at Oxford ratione suppressionis prioratus de Sandwall.[85] The annual payment to Gloucester College had been instituted by John Sudbury, one of the most famous of the Abbots of Burton. He held office from 1400 to 1423. His life had not been an ideal one, by any means, and he was a typical specimen of his time. When Convocation in 1404–5 voted the King a large grant he was appointed one of the collectors, and the grant, being exceptionally large and being levied with exceptional strictness, was bitterly resented. Sudbury, finding himself opposed even by his own tenants of Stapenhill, on the Derbyshire side of the Trent, instigated his Staffordshire men to retaliate on them, when they crossed the river and came into Burton to trade, by robbery and violence. The Burton monks were very disorderly at this time, for just previous to this there had been a charge against them of robbing a woman of 100 shillings. They waylaid John Newton, Canon and Chaplain of their hostile neighbour, Sir Thomas de Gresley, as well as the parson of Rolleston[88] and others. They stole fish and cows. They assaulted one of the King’s Escheators. They set at naught not only the Statute of Labourers by paying Thomas Shepherd and many others 4d. a day, “to the sum of 100 shillings,” but also morality, for when Abbot Sudbury, in 1407, was driven to obtain a royal pardon for his manifold offences, we find among them that “of having, on Wednesday, Christmas, 6 Henry IV, in his chamber at Burton, ravished Marjory, the wife of Nicholas Taverner.”[86] So powerful was Abbot Sudbury that he was able to defy his Bishop’s summons to answer for the many irregularities with which he was charged.

During the rule of Sudbury’s predecessor, the Abbey being in difficulties, an attempt had been made to obtain the good offices of “Monsieur John Bagot,” the Sheriff of Staffordshire, by an annual payment of thirty shillings. It is a typical example of “maintenance.” Such a policy was double-edged, and the powerful “friend” was often encouraged to attempt to extort a higher price for his services. This happened in the present instance. A petition was sent by Sudbury, to the Bishop of Winchester, the Chancellor, setting forth that: “The said John, not being content with the xxxs., in order to force a larger sum from the Abbot, had destroyed his park at Bromley and had taken 20 bucks and 12 does, to the great damage of the said Abbot and to the prejudice and contempt of the King.” Moreover, although John Bagot held in chief of the Abbot the vill of Field by homage, fealty, and escuage, and by the service of twenty[89] shillings annually, he had refused to perform his homage; his power in the district was so great that remedy was difficult.[87] Altogether, the situation was one which illustrates very well the general weakening of public security at the time through the growing power of great men and the increasing decline of authority. Just as John de Sudbury set at naught the Bishop and oppressed his weaker neighbours, so John Bagot, the Sheriff, abused his position and office to enforce an annual bribe from the Abbey to abstain from robbery and violence, which he, nevertheless, continued.

But Sudbury was none the less a man of business and not without his good qualities. When the Rectory of Allestree was appropriated during his tenure of office he arranged, as Valor Ecclesiasticus records, for a distribution there of 3s. 4d. annually at Michaelmas, and for £1 to be paid to the deacon who took the place of the absentee rector. He also provided for the maintenance of a lamp there at an annual cost of 2s. Other former Abbots who had endowed Poor Doles were Nicholas Abingdon (1187–1197), John Stafford (1260–1280), Thomas Field (1474–1494), and William Beyne (1502–1533), the amount to be distributed in each case being £14 7s. John Stafford arranged also for the payment of £5 yearly to the Chantry Chapel at Sallow. There are further doles, said to have been endowed by the founder of the monastery, as follows: £1 18s. on the anniversary of his death (Oct. 22nd) for his soul and the souls of[90] King Etheldred and his royal successors and of Anselm and Archbishop Alfrike, the founder’s brothers; £1 18s. at Corpus Christi; £4 in twenty-four cloaks on the anniversary of his death; and 8d. given to the poor each day in the year in bread, ale and meat (reckoned at £12). The total spent in doles is £23 4s. 3d. per annum.

The officials (with fees) are as follows: George, Earl of Huntingdon, chief steward, £6 13s. 4d.; Hugh Barley, steward of Abbots Bromley, £1, and auditor, £5; Thomas Boylston, general receiver, £4; bailiffs Richard Morley (Findern and Stapenhill, 13s. 4d.), Ralf Manwaryng, gent. (Mickleover, £1), Nicholas Teyte (Littleover and Caldwell, £1 6s. 8d.), John Lambert (Allestree and Appleby, 13s. 4d.), John Smith (Branstone, etc., £2), Edward Edensore (Bromley Hurst, £2), Henry Meynell, gent. (Willington and Pothlac, 6s. 8d.), Walter Charnels (“bailiff of the town of Burton, who now receives the whole sum of the perquisites of the Court there by the King’s commandment” £3 6s. 8d.).

The remark about Walter Charnels reminds us that the King had a considerable interest in the affairs of Burton Abbey. Besides the bailiff of the town, he nominated a corrodian and a poor scholar, and he took fees (“Sheriffs’ Aids”) to the extent of £2 2s. a year.

If we are correct in our surmise that the statement of outgoings was not very strictly scrutinised in the case of Burton, we have, perhaps, an explanation of the large proportion allotted to alms there in contrast to the very small amount allowed elsewhere in the whole[91] of the county. It may be that in other places the amount spent in alms was not allowed to be deducted, as it was at Burton.

No valuation subsequent to the Dissolution appears in Monasticon, so that we are deprived of the material which might have been afforded for checking the Chancellor’s (second) valuation. It may, however, be safely assumed to be fairly correct, and to give us a tolerably complete account of the revenues of the Abbey during the last years of its existence.



We shall take the remaining houses in alphabetical order, and it will be our endeavour to ascertain the details of their income and expenditure.

Brewood Nunnery

The old market town of Brewood stood on the western border of the county, and for centuries the Bishops of Lichfield had possessed a manor there. On the Shropshire side of the town, and just beyond the county boundary, stood a Cistercian nunnery. On the Staffordshire side stood a Benedictine nunnery.

The latter was a small house containing in the sixteenth century four sisters only, and the record of its possessions in Valor Ecclesiasticus[88] is very brief. It was apparently made by the same clerk as he who also drew up that of Dudley. The name of the Prioress was Isabel Launder. It shows income only and gives no disbursements. The house itself, with the demesne, provided the bulk of the total, viz., £6 15s. Chief rents in Brome (Staffs.) amount to £3, and besides these two items there are only small “alms,” amounting to 8s. 6d., a tenement in Horsebrook[89] (16s.) and a[93] cottage in Kidderminster (2s.). The “alms” come from the following: William Woodhouse in Albrighton, John Gifford Kt., in Chillington, Sir — Vernon in Tong, Roger Corbet Kt., in Dawley, and — Blakemore in Bradeley.

When we compare this with the account given by the Commissioners at the Dissolution, we see at once from the latter that the Valor Ecclesiasticus took no account of stores or stock in hand. When Thomas Gyfforde bought the place[90] he took over:

s. d.
 1 qr. of wheat 6 2
 1 „ „ munke-corn 8 0
 1 „ „ oats 1 8
 1 „ „ peas 2 8
10 loads of hay 15 0
 1 horse 4 0

Little can be done to harmonize the two accounts of lands and rents, but possibly Thomas Pitt who paid 2s. for “a hole yeres rente” at the Suppression was the tenant of the cottage in Kidderminster, and John Penford of the tenement in Horsebrook. William Woodhouse, of Albrighton, appears, as William Wydowes, among those who were in arrears, as also does the bailiff of Tong, presumably the Vernon who is named in the Valor. In 1538 a grant in fee simple (by exchange) was made to Charles, Duke of Suffolk, of various Crown leases, including the Manor of Brome. Its annual value then was given at £3 10s., with 7s. rent.

The valuation made after the Dissolution (Monasticon, iv, 501) is in most respects identical with Valor[94] Ecclesiasticus so far as the same allotments appear, except that Brewood produces £1 2s. 4d. only instead of £6 15s. The following additions are given:

Blithebury—lands £3 12 0
Hampton, 1 messuage 13 4
Henyngton  „ 8 0
Shardycote  „ 6 0

The total valuation amounts to £10 8s. 3½d.

Croxden Abbey

The Cistercian Abbey of Croxden stood in a secluded valley, away from the high road, about three miles from Rocester. Its history had been calm and uneventful. Its Chronicle has been preserved but contains little beyond merely domestic details, such as we should expect in the history of a house far removed from the noise of the world. It is an interesting example of the diary of one of the unimportant houses which never played a prominent part in national history but lived a humdrum life. It records some events of general interest, such as various incidents in the struggles in the reign of Henry III, and some of ecclesiastical interest, such as the adoption in the diocese in 1250 of the antiphon salve Regina ordered by the Pope in 1239, the appointment of Bishops and Archbishops, and the summoning of the Cistercian Abbots to the General Chapters of the order at Citeaux. In 1274 Abbot Howton went to attend the General Chapter, and died at Dijon, being buried at Citeaux. In 1308 the Abbot refused to attend, and was deposed. But most of the information is solely concerned with the private fortunes of the secluded Abbey. We read of an unusually plentiful harvest in 1288, when sufficient[95] carts could not be obtained, an earthquake shock in 1301 which terrified the monks in their refectory, the burning of the Abbey wood at Cheadle in 1303, a cattle plague in 1319, and a great storm in 1372 which flooded the church and blew the roof off the dormitory. The church was built by Abbot John of London, who had been Prior of Stratford in Essex, and was dedicated in 1253. He also built Chapter House, refectory, kitchen, dormitory, infirmary, etc. His successor, who was elected in 1268, built the Abbot’s House, and added to the library a great Bible in nine volumes. The west wing was built by John de Billysdon in 1288. It fell down in 1369 and had to be re-built. A London house was purchased by William de Over, who was elected in 1297, and who much increased the library. The first bell was hung in 1302. In 1313 the monks engaged Master Henry Michael de Lichfield to cast another to replace one which had been cracked. We are told he laboured throughout the summer and then his casting failed, but he succeeded by All Saints’ Day. From 1331 to 1334 much building, to repair the damage done by a great storm in December, 1330, is recorded. The Abbey pool was made in 1336, but ten years later it burst. The burials of the Verduns are carefully chronicled—John in 1274, Thomas in 1309, Matilda in 1312. On this latter occasion there was great pomp, and the Earl of Lancaster and other notables attended. Joanna, the last of the Verduns, was buried in 1334 before the high altar, the Abbots of Burton, Dieulacres, and Hulton being present.

Croxden’s prosperous time had been in the years when the wool trade had flourished. It was one of the[96] houses which supplied the Flemish and Florentine merchants in the latter part of the thirteenth and the early part of the fourteenth centuries. When Edward II led his immense army to Bannockburn, Croxden provided supplies almost as great as Burton Abbey, and it also “lent” money to Richard II. But when its patronage left the Verduns it began to experience adversity.

In 1319, Alton Castle and the patronage of Croxden passed to the Furnivals. The new lord, Thomas de Furnival, levied many exactions on the Abbey. He insisted on daily distribution of alms, probably in the same spirit as the justices of Speenhamland in a later century—namely, to relieve himself of the necessity of maintaining his tenants. He required that his horses and hounds should be housed at the Abbey, and that his seven bailiffs should be entertained and fed once a week in a special room. There was naturally considerable friction, which was finally ended by a formal written agreement.

The outbreak of the French Wars made the Cistercians unpopular, and eventually they had to abandon their foreign dependence. Heavy exactions were levied on them. Corrodians were quartered on them without remorse. The Black Death added to their difficulties. It is mentioned in the Annals of Croxden as follows: In 1349 “there was a great pestilence throughout the whole world,” and in 1361, after almost a complete blank in the Chronicle, we read that “a second pestilence took place, and all the children that were born since the first pestilence took place died.” In 1369 a third visitation is recorded. In 1367 the affairs of[97] Croxden were in such confusion that the Abbot of the parent house at Aunay had to send a special commissioner to visit it. He found debts to the extent of 152 marks, 8 shillings, and 11 pence. Bad harvests increased the difficulty, and Croxden had to sell much of its property. The insolvency which is found threatening so many of the religious houses at the beginning of the sixteenth century had evidently already begun.

In the breakdown of rule which accompanied the later years of the Hundred Years’ War and the Wars of the Roses Croxden shared in the general disorder. There was trespassing by neighbours on its lands: there were complaints of trespassing on the lands of others by the monks and their men.

When the Commissioners for Valor Ecclesiasticus came to Croxden they found Thomas Chawner was the Abbot. In the survey which was drawn up[91] the ecclesiastical income comes first and amounts to £8 15s. 4d. It consisted mainly of the tithes of grain and hay from the parishes of Alton in Staffordshire and of Tokeby in Leicestershire. These being paid in kind are computed to be annually worth £2 5s. 4d. and £4 respectively. The ecclesiastical rents also include the tithes of grain and hay “and other emoluments” from the parish of Norton in Leicestershire, which are reckoned to average £2 10s.

The fixed rents (redditus assisus) follow. These include a “pension” of 12d. from the parish of Cheadle which we have added to the former section. The remaining items, amounting to £1 7s. 10d., show[98] revenue from lands and tenements in Walton, Cheadle, and Calton in Staffordshire, Ashbourne in Derbyshire, and Misterton in Northampton.

The third group gives the rents from lands and tenements “at will”: in Alton (£5 4s. 1d.), Glaston[92] (£5 10s.), Cheadle (£8 6s. 4d.), Leek (“Puttels” and “Whitels”), Uttoxeter, Stafford and Oken (£11 6s. 11d.), in Staffordshire; Hartshorne, Derby, Doveridge (“Downebrige”), Longford, Langley, Ashbourne and Trusley (£4 6s. 8d.), in Derbyshire; Tokeby (£8), and Burton Overy in Leicestershire; Stamford, Mountstrell and Casterne in Northampton; Middlewich in Cheshire, and £1 6s. 8d. for certain tenements in London: total £56 5s. 9d.

It is noted that the following demesne lands are not let, but are reserved for the use of the Monastery; the demesne at Croxden (£16), certain lands at Musden Grange (£13 6s. 8d.), and at Cauldon and Oncott (£7 10s.); total, £36 16s. 8d.

Then follow the outgoings. First come the “fixed charges” (£2 10s. 10d.), among which the foremost item is £1 12s. 4d., paid as chief rents to the Earl of Shrewsbury for lands in Cauldon and Alton. Four shillings a year is paid to the “monastery” of Rocester; 4s. 6d. to the King for lands in Ashbourne; and payments are noted to the Lord Mountjoy, William Chetwen, arm., the heirs of John Blount, miles, and the royal bailiff of Totmonslow.

Ecclesiastical payments are next given: to Hulton and Burton Abbeys, the parishes of Uttoxeter and[99] Checkley, the Archdeacons of Stafford and Leicester, and 13s. 4d. per annum to the “General Reformator of the Cistercian Order,” Henry VIII’s official, whose appointment was chronicled in the preceding chapter.[93]

Wages to lay officials conclude the account. The steward of Tokeby received 10s. and of Oken, 20s. The steward of Croxden, Ashbourne, and Cauldon was John Wistowe, gent., and was paid £1. The bailiff and rent collector in Leicestershire was paid £1 13s. 4d., and the collectors in Oken and Croxden with its members 10s. and £1 6s. 8d. respectively. The bailiff of Ashbourne and Cauldon was paid £1 a year.

When we attempt to compare this valuation with the first valuation made after the surrender, as given in Monasticon we find that the latter omits various sources of income, as has already been mentioned is commonly the case. The valuation of the demesne at Croxden had decreased from £16 to £14 2s. 5d., but that of Musden Grange had risen from £13 6s. 8d. to £19 11s. 8d. Alton rents had risen from £5 4s. 1d. to £5 15s. 3d., and the value of the water-mill there from £2 5s. 4d. to £4. Rents in Tokeby in Leicestershire had risen from £8 to £11 9s. 4d., and the tithe there from £4 to £7. It appears as though the rents from lesser folk had been generally raised, but the richer people managed to keep down the valuation of their property. The total valuation for the property which is mentioned is £157 1s. 2d. When it is remembered that items amounting to some £15 are not included, this is a very large increase on Valor Ecclesiasticus. The following[100] are not mentioned in the earlier valuation but appear in the later:

Great Gate and Denstone—rents £2 16 8
Ditto with Musden, Calder, and Trussley (tithes) 6 13 4
Great Gate and Ridding—messuage and wood 3 5 0
Crakemarsh Grange 3 0 0
Calton, fixed rents 3 6
Cauldon—rents 3 7 0
  „  water-mill 1 0 0
Musdon, 3 messuages 3 12 0
Ellaston—rents 4 11 8
  „  water-mill 1 6 8
Hunchedial 17 18 8
Puttels 1 4
East Norton, tithe 2 13 4
Caythorpe,  „ 13 4

There are also a few other items of small amount.

Dieulacres Abbey

Dieulacres was another Cistercian house which had profited by the wool trade, and had done much to bring the Moorlands into cultivation. Its monks had improved the course of the river Churnet, which flowed down the valley, had effected a great scheme of drainage, including the building of a stone drain so huge as to give rise to an impossible story of an underground passage from the Abbey to the Church, and had constructed a raised paved road across the valley. They had been well endowed at the commencement, and had begun with the advowson of the Church at Leek and its chapels. They owned a London house. The Abbot’s court was sometimes attended by as many as three or four hundred persons. His gallows stood at the end of the town, and his fair was held at Leek annually for seven days at the Feast of St. Arnulph (July 28th). He was a county magnate of importance, and even so late as 1504 we find him stipulating in[101] the lease of the Manor of Pulton that he was to be entertained there with twelve mounted companions twice a year. Such a position was dangerous, and it is not surprising to find that the Abbot sometimes carried things with a high hand. In 1379 it was alleged against the Abbot that he attempted “to perpetrate maintenance in his marches” (in marchiis suis manutenenciam facere) and to oppress the people. He had a band of twenty-one retainers, who are described as common disturbers of the King’s peace, living at the Abbey and doing all the mischief they can, lying in wait for travellers, assaulting, maiming, and even killing them. Some of them were captured on the definite charge of murdering John de Warton at Leek, and were committed to the Marshalsea, with Edmund de Draycot, Cellarer at Dieulacres, and William del Brugge, Vicar of Leek, who, with the Abbot, had harboured the murderers. But the Abbot managed to delay proceedings again and again, and finally no one was punished.[94] In 1413 a monk of Dieulacres, with a large number of armed men, raided a neighbouring park, and took by force much stone, the Abbot being privy to the deed. The Abbot in question was Richard Whitmore, and one of the armed men who led the expedition was Adam Whitmore, Knight. Abbot Whitmore was frequently engaged in quarrels with his neighbours, as was his successor, John Goodfellow. He once stole goods worth £40, and once engaged in a riotous attack on the Vicar of Ilam, who had given the tithes to a neighbour he disliked.[95]


When the Commissioners visited Dieulacres the Abbot was Thomas Whitney, and subsequent events showed he inherited the spirit and vigour of his predecessors.

The summary[96] is arranged like that of Croxden and Rocester. The ecclesiastical income is mainly derived from Leek and its chapels: £1 4s. from glebe, £18 3s. 8d. from tithes of straw and hay, £46 8s. from oblations, £10 from tithes of sheep and wool, and £6 from tithes of cattle. From Leek also comes £6 5s. 4d. in Easter dues. Besides these there are two items from Sandbach: £23 16s. tithes of straw and hay, etc., and 14s. 8d. from glebe.

Fixed rents include 5s. 8d. from Leek, 1s. 6d. from Thornley, 5d. from Stafford, and 11s. from Norbrook and Biscopham in Lancashire; other “lands and tenaments” produce £160 15s. A salt-pan at Middlewich, worth £3 yearly, is included.

The demesne is said to be reserved ad usum hospicii monasterii, and to have been estimated by the discretion of the Commissioners to be worth £8 18s. 6d. per year. “Perquisites” of the Court and other “casual [fees]” are estimated in a similar manner at £4.

The outgoings begin with a payment of £4 13s. 4d. to the Royal Exchequer at Chester, and include 2s. to the landlord of Field for lands there; £3 13s. 4d. to the Abbot of Shrewsbury for the Lancashire lands; 8d. to Lord Audley for lands in Longton, and 2s. to Thomas Butler, Kt., for lands in Biscopham. “Pensions, Procurations, and Synodals” are paid to the[103] Archdeacons of Stafford (15s.) and Chester (7s. for Sandbach), and to the Abbot of Combermere (18s. 6d.).

Wages to lay officials are given as follows: William Damport, £1 6s. 8d., as steward of the courts, and a similar amount for his fee as “Collector or Receiver” of the rents in Le Frith and elsewhere in Staffordshire; 13s. 4d. to John Corden, collector in Leek, and £2 to Humfry Whitney, collector in Cheshire. It will be noticed that the last mentioned bears the same surname as the Abbot. In 1537 he received a 49 years’ lease of a salt-pan at Middlewich.

Other possessions named, besides those already mentioned, were situated at Heyton, Tentisworth, Esyng, Lowe, Longnor, Horton, Cheddleton, Pulford, Poulton, Duddleston, Chirton Cestria, Byveley, Yatehouses and Rudheth, Bagford and Hadford, Knutsford, Newbalt, and Rossall.

At the Dissolution the following lay officials received “fees and annuities”: Lord Derby, steward of the monastery and town of Leek, £2; Richard Grosvenor, Steward of Poulton, 26s. 8d.; Humfry Whitney, £3 6s. 8d.; William Davenport, £4; Robert Burgh, forester (amount not stated); John Gordon, bailiff of Leek, £1; John Aleynn, bailiff of Rossall, etc., 26s. 8d.; Richard Daun, late steward of the household at Rossall, etc., £3; and eleven others, one of whom was subsequently described as chamberlain to the Abbot.

In the post-Dissolution valuation there are only two omissions, which amount to £2 12s. The site and demesne had fallen from £8 18s. 6d. to £3 18s. 1d. Rents at Heyton had risen nearly £3, at Thoreby, £1 4s.; at Tettysworth, £2 8s. 5d.; at Middlewich,[104] over £4; but in some places they had slightly fallen, and at Esyng they had dropped from £3 3s. 8d. to £1 5s. 6d. The value of the Frith had fallen from £35 16s. 3d. to £31 4s. 11½d., and the salt-pan at Middlewich from £3 to £1 16s. 8d. Perquisites of the Court at Leek had fallen from £4 to £1 17s. 9d. Perquisites of the Court are added at Heyton (8s. 9d.), the Frith (2s. 7d.), Lowe (4d.), and Poulton (6s. 8d.). Other additions are water-mills at Leek (£4 6s. 8d.) and Heyton (12s.). Rents in kind at Heyton—“reddit’ mobil’ caponum”—(10s. 6d.) and at Lowe (8s.); rents at Nether Tettysworth, etc. (£1 17s. 4d.), Newbold in Aslebery (£1), tithes at Gostree (£3 6s. 8d.), and Hulme (£6 13s. 4d.), rents at Aldelegh (£2 5s.). Rents in Leek remained practically unchanged, but the Rectory was raised nearly £20. The manor of Poulton remained at £25, but the tithes at Sandbach had fallen £10. Rossall Grange remained almost the same. Grants under the seal of the Abbot or Convent appear at the Frith (£24 14s. 2½d.); Tettysworth (£2 19s. 8d.) and Lowe (£14 6s.10d.); perhaps these are the ante-dated leases, which Abbot Whitney arranged, and which were divulged by John Whitney long afterwards, as will be related in due course. The valuation amounted to £285 14s. 6d.

Dudley Priory

Dudley Priory was a cell to the great Austin Priory of Wenlock in Shropshire, and its Prior at the visit of the Commissioners was John Webley.[97]

The bulk of its income came from places in the diocese[105] of Lichfield. The house, with three demesnes adjoining, is valued at £7 10s. 8d., and it is stated that the Commissioner who made the valuation was Walter Wrottesley, Kt. A further sum of £3 10s. is made up from divers rents of lands and houses in Sedgeley, Omburn, and Woodford, the land at Omburn being described as arable (10s.). From Sedgeley also came tithes of grain worth £6 6s. 8d.; and tithes from Omburn and Trefull amount to £10. From Worcester diocese came a total of £9 0s. 8d., Dudley supplied fixed rents (£2 1s.), other rents (£1 6s. 8d.), and herbage and tithes therefrom (£2 10s.). The rest came from fixed rents in Churchill and pensions from Northfield.

Disbursements (£2 6s. 8d.) are shared between two officials, Edward Blount, gent. the steward (6s. 8d.), and John Coke, the bailiff (£2). The latter is stated to hold his office for life, and when Sir John Dudley obtained the possessions of the Priory at the Dissolution they continued to be charged with John Coke’s annual fee.[98]

The payment from the rectory of Northfield is returned as £2 6s., but in the Worcestershire return it appears as £2 6s. 8d. (p. 270), and no mention is made of the 10s. which the vicarage of Dudley paid (p. 275).

The valuation made after the Dissolution is given in Monasticon (v, 84). It is described as follows: “Compotus Johannis Dudley militis perceptoris Reddituum et Firmarum ibidem per tempus praedictum. Redditus et Firmae pertinentes nuper Cellae sive Prioratui de Dudley praedicta.” The site and demesne had risen in value to £8 3s. 2d. Rents in Dudley are £4 9s. 3d.—[106] a decrease from £5 17s. 8d.; in Sedgeley there was an increase to £1 2s. 8d. The tithes at Dudley had risen to £6 6s. 8d., and tithes “from divers parishes” amounted to £19 18s. 8d. £5 as the firma of Trysull Grange is added. The total is given as £39 10s. 9d., but it has proved impossible to make it agree with the items which are given in Valor Ecclesiasticus. Outgoings are given as follows: Edward Blount, steward, and John Coke, bailiff, receive their fees as before; the auditor’s fee for writing the valuation was 2s.; and the Bishop’s visitation fee is 2s. for Dudley and 12d. for Omborne and Trysull.

It is mentioned that various leases had been granted by the Priory for life, and that 45½ acres of the pasture of the demesne in divers closes were in separate parcels. They were “occupied” by John Dudley, but unfortunately no valuation of them is given.

Hulton Abbey

The Cistercian Abbey of Hulton had annexed the parish church in 1368, when it was stipulated that a suitable proportion of the profits should be reserved for a resident vicar. It had been prosperous in the golden days of the wool trade, and in 1310 had given Edward II’s army as much in the way of supplies as Burton Abbey; but its wealth had seriously declined. In later years it had possessed a pottery. The Abbot’s name when the Commissioners visited Hulton was John, but his rule ended shortly afterwards.

In the summary given in Valor Ecclesiasticus[99] the[107] income is given in detail from each manor and parish. The same arrangement is followed in the case of Trentham, Stafford, Stone, and Ronton.

The following are the particulars relating to the several manors:

Demesne Rents of tenements Chief rents Court perquisites Water-mills
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ s. d. s. d. s. d.
Hulton Manor 6 0 0 9 15 0 6 0 3 4 5 0
Normacot Manor 5 18 0 2 0 6 8
Bradnop Manor 4 0 0 1 16 8 11 6 0 3 4
Cambryngham Manor (Lincs.) 3 6 8 12 17 3 4

At Hulton the rent came from twelve tenements held “ad voluntatem,” and in each case the demesne comprised arable, meadow, and pasture. At Rushton Grange there was also arable, meadow, and pasture, worth £4.

The remaining property was all in Lincolnshire: Fillingham (5 tenements and a cottage), £2 4s. 4d.; Coots (lands), 4s. 4d.; Willingham (part of a meadow), 16d.; and Lincoln (one cottage), 1s.

The temporal disbursements comprised payments to the Abbot of Dieulacres, the Prior of Trentham, and the Prior of Torksey; to the King for Fillingham; to Philip Dreycote, miles, chief steward of the Staffordshire manors (£1 6s. 8d.), and Richard Sutton, Kt., chief steward of Cambringham; and to the bailiffs—£1 to Thomas Leer (Hulton), 10s. to Laurence Ratclyffe (Bradnop), 10s. to Robert Asten (Normacot), £1 to William Rede (Cambringham). The Under Steward, Sir Richard’s deputy, was paid 13s. 4d.

The spiritual income consisted of tithes (£18 10s.)[108] and glebe (£2), from the parishes of Audley (£11) and Byddell (£4 10s.) in Staffordshire, and Cambringham (£2 10s.) in Lincolnshire.

The spiritual outgoings included £1 13s. 4d. to the Bishop of Lichfield, “extra ecclesias de Audeley and Byddell predictas per idempnitate sua,” and 6s. 8d. every third year for visitation fees; 10s. 4d. to the Archdeacon of Stafford for procurations; 7s. 6d. to the Archdeacon of Stowe (Lincs.); 6s. 8d. to the Bishop of Lincoln for synodals; 5s. 4d. to “the ... of Blessed Mary of Lincoln” as a pension. 3s. 4d. is also paid to the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield “pro idempnitate,” and 3s. 4d. to the Priory of Coventry for the same purpose.

There was a change of Abbots between the valuation in 1535 and October 1st, 1536, for on the latter date the Abbot who received a grant of exemption from the Act suppressing the Lesser Monasteries was Edward Wilkyns. The payment he had to make was £66 13s. 4d.[100]

In the valuation given in Monasticon (v. 716) the rents at Hulton Manor only amounted to £1 16s., but additions were made of rents at Stoke, 6s.; Burdeslyme and Sneyd, £18 18s. 3d.; More, £1 18s., and Myxton Heyes (pastures), £5 16s. 8d., as well as at Northwich, 10s., and Bridgeworth, 2s. The water-mill at Hulton was omitted, but one was mentioned at More worth 14s. Rushton Grange had risen in value to £7 5s., but Normacot Manor had fallen to £2 1s., and the water-mill is not mentioned. The demesne at Bradnop Manor is not mentioned, nor are Cambryngham,[109] Fillingham, Coots, Willingham, or Lincoln. No “perquisites of Courts” are mentioned. The valuation amounted to £67 3s. 4d.

Rocester Abbey

The house of Austin Canons at Rocester was often called an Abbey, and its Abbot was William Grafton. It was a house with a history containing many points of minor interest. We see how the religious were able to turn the difficulties of others to their own advantage when we read that when Sir Hugh de Okeover’s unwavering loyalty to Henry III during the Welsh War and the Barons’ Revolt seriously impoverished him and he had to sell much of his patrimony, the neighbouring Abbot of Rocester was a ready purchaser of his lands.

The wool trade made Rocester prosperous for a time, and Edward I granted the Abbot a fair and a market. So late as the reign of Henry VI a second fair was obtained. The Manor of Rocester had been granted to the Abbey when the Chester Earldom was appropriated by Henry III as a provision for the heir-apparent. The house had once maintained two chantries, one at Halywell in Warwickshire and another at Lees in Staffordshire.

The prosperous days of the canons had ended even before the Black Death. In 1318 they alleged that the cattle plague and bad harvests had reduced them to such poverty that they had been obliged to go out and beg quasi mendicantes. But on Bishop Norbury’s personal visitation of Rocester Priory he found that heavy debts had been incurred through the attempt to obtain possession of the appropriation of Woodford[110] in Northamptonshire. There were other abuses, too. He forbade the granting of corrodies and the keeping of canes venatici, but his injunctions were not observed.

It was in the time of Bishop Norbury that the interesting question arose about Easter Communions, which has already been mentioned.

The arrangement of the summary in Valor Ecclesiasticus[101] is identical with that of Croxden, with an interesting addition which will be noticed presently. Ecclesiastical revenues include the tithes of straw (“garbas”) and hay in Rocester (with Waterfall and Bradley), Edensor, Kynston, and Woodford. The tithes in Rocester, etc., appear to be leased (de firma). The total is £46 13s. 10d.

The fixed rents were from lands in “Le Clownams” (Clownholme), Glaston, Great Meadow, and Rocester, and amounted to 13s. 1d.

Lands and tenements produced £40 8s. 8d. They were situated in Rocester, Swinscoe, Stanton, Combridge, Quickshill (“Quitsell”), Denstone, Alton, Waterfall, Foston, and Hognaston.

The value of the demesne lands is stated to be estimated, by the judgment of the Commissioners and others appointed by them, at £23 16s. per annum: they were reserved “ad usum hospicii monasterii.” From the Paper Survey we know they consisted of arable, 70 acres; pasture, 201 acres, and meadow, 20 acres.

The outgoings begin with the fixed payments: 1d. to the Earl of Shrewsbury for lands in Alton, £1 to William Bassett, Kt., for lands in Swinscoe, and 10s. to the King.


The ecclesiastical payments included fees to the Archdeacons of Derby (for procurations and synodals for the Church of Edensor) and Stafford (for Rocester and Kynston); £4 6s. 8d. for a chantry in Lichfield Cathedral; 6s. 8d. to the Rector of Kyngeley for the chapel at Bradley, and 10s. to the Rector of Blythfield for the Church of Kynston.

Only two lay officials are mentioned: Henry Pole, Steward of the Courts at Rocester (13s. 4d.) and John Needham, collector (£2).

Lastly comes an interesting section of “Annual Alms to the Poor,” which amount to £1 17s. 4d. At Easter four quarters of frumenty cakes were distributed (a quarter is reckoned to be worth 8s.); and at Hallowmas 8 dishes (“fercula”) of meat, 16 loaves, and 8 gallons of ale (“servicia”). These are the only doles mentioned in the Rural Deanery, and it is expressly stated, in accordance with the official instructions, that each is “ex fundatione monasterii.”

In the valuation made subsequent to the Dissolution we find the site and demesne had risen in value from £23 16s. to £36 8s. 10d. The Rectory of Rocester (£4) is added and also a fulling mill there (£2 6s. 8d.). Rents had slightly fallen at Waterfall and Swinscoe, but had risen £2 at Rocester, and 16s. at Quickshill and Denstone. Additions are, besides those already mentioned, perquisites of the Court at Rocester, 6s. 8d., tithes at Waterfall (£1 6s. 8d.), Calton (£1), and Quickshill and Denstone (11s. 8d.), and rents at Somersall—pasture—(10) and Scropton (£1 3s. 4d.). Kynston Rectory had fallen from £7 to £1. The omissions are small and amount[112] to £6 only, but the total valuation was raised to £129 6s. 3d.

Ronton Priory

The Priory at Ronton had been built on assarted land, that is, land reclaimed and cleared from the surrounding forests. Its full name was S. Maria de Exsartis or Ste Marie des Essarz, and in its precincts had formerly stood almshouses in connection with which we read of a gift of unam assartam in campis de Flotesbroc (Flashbrook). No trace of them appears in Valor Ecclesiasticus or in any of the records of the Dissolution. The Priory was dependent on Haughmond Abbey in Shropshire, to which it made an annual payment. So long ago as 1246 this had been fixed by the Bishop at £5, and this amount was paid down to the time of the suppression. The Prior of Haughmond was supposed to visit Ronton every year, but no effective control was exercised. In the fourteenth century Bishop Norbury found much to censure at Ronton, and Bishop Blythe had recently (1530) refused to institute one of its canons who had been nominated to a vicarage, as he found him indoctus et indignus. In 1535 the Prior was Thomas Alton. Valor Ecclesiasticus[102] records that the temporal income came from Ronton and Heathhouse Grange (£13 11s. 8d.), the town of Ronton (£3 18s. 8d.), Clanford, Knighton, Ellerton, Bachaker, Hevedale, Hevehall, Watteley More, Seighford, Brucheford, Ellenhall, Billington, Orslow, Apeton, Launde Stockton, Aston and Cokysland, Walford, Gnosall, Halghton, Offley, Eccleshall, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Milwich, Whitgreve, Wodeyton, and[113] Cowley in Staffordshire, besides 7s. 4d. from Stafford. The amounts are all small. From Shepey in Leicestershire came £4 8s. 8d.; from St. Mary’s Gild in Newport (Salop), 1s.; and from Grenburgh (Warw.), £4.

The demesne at Ronton produced £4 6s. 8d. arable, £6 5s. pasture, and £3 came from “xxviii dey mathys prati ibidem.” The total amount is £13 11s. 8d., and from the Paper Survey we know the acreage was as follows: arable, 79 acres; pasture, 121½ acres; meadow, 39 acres. At the town of Ronton 18s. 4d. came from two parcels of land and a water-mill.

Temporal outgoings consisted of payments to the Bishop for houses in Eccleshall and Knighton; Henry, Lord Stafford (Billington), John Gifford (Dulverne), and Thomas Gifford, Kt., “Lord” of Cariswall (Hevehall), Thomas Astley, Kt. (Shepey), the canons of Penkridge (Billington), John Harcourt, Kt. (Ronton), the Prebendary of Chyltrenhall in Gnosal (pastures in Gnosal), William Essex, Kt. (Walford).

The chief steward was John Harcourt (£2). Bailiffs are Reginald Carte (Grenburgh), Robert Vincent (Shepey), and John Hoggson (Ronton, etc.).

The spiritual income consisted of tithes only: £13 8s. 6d. from Seighford and £32 17s. from Grenburgh (Warw.).

Spiritual payments were as follows: Bishop £3 6s. 8d. triennially as visitation fees, 6s. 8d. annually from Grenburgh, and 4s. from Seighford; £5 to Haughmond Abbey.

The valuation of Ronton after the Dissolution (Monasticon, vi, 259) amounted to £116 16s. 9d. There[114] were additions as follows: A salt-pan at Nantwich, £1 11s.; rents at Brichford, 9s. 4d.; Heathcote Grange, £3 16s.; tithes in Aston (Staffs.); Doddington and Cotton, £3 13s. 4d.; Oldall Grange, £1 4s.; Ronton Rectory, £4 13s. 4d.; Ellenhall Rectory, £3 12s. 8d. The omissions are Ronton, rents £3 0s. 4d.; water-mill, 18s. 4d.; Clanford, rents, £2 13s. 4d.; Hevedale, rents, £1 4s.; Orslowe, 12s.; Apeton, 8s.; Offley, 9s.; Cowley, 6d.; and Newport (Salop), 1s. Seighford Church is £6 5s. 2d. only, and there are tithes there worth £4 13s. 4d. Watteley More Grange, £2 13s. 4d., is added. Aston (Staffs.) and Cokysland has risen from 6s. 8d. to 19s. 4d., including 1s. for “terra vasta.” Grenburgh Rectory was £36 7s. instead of £32 17s. The remaining items are either unchanged or usually show a slight increase. The demesne remained practically unchanged, though in the Paper Survey it is £16 7s.[103]

St. Thomas’s Priory, Stafford

The Austin Canons of St. Thomas the Martyr, near Stafford, had often given striking illustrations of the worldly spirit which gradually infused itself in the “religious.” They were such keen men of business that their transactions were sometimes questionable. It has already been mentioned that when a verderer of the Forest of Cannock, in the latter part of the thirteenth century, laid himself open to the severe penalties of the Forest Laws and fled for his life beyond the seas, St. Thomas’s Priory did not hesitate to strike a bargain with him and to buy his manor.[115] They possessed it at the Dissolution. They built a fine church and had a well-furnished house, fit to entertain Henry IV on his return from his victory at Shrewsbury. They were paid 26s. 8d. for their hospitality on the occasion.

In 1389 the Priory received from Robert de Ferrers an interesting grant from the revenues of the rectory of Weston. It was to vary with the number of Canons. There was to be an allowance of food (pictancia) from the kitchen every Thursday, and it was to be suitable to the season of the ecclesiastical year (prout tempus), and if the number of canons increased the allowance was to be correspondingly increased. Moreover, in 1409, the Bishop ordered that it was to be paid “in Refectario seu Infirmaria prout tempus aut necessitas exquirit.”[104]

In 1535 the Prior was Richard Whytwell. The Commissioners[105] found that at the Priory were lands—arable, meadow, and pasture—worth £2, and similarly at Arberton Grange, worth £10. At each of the manors was a demesne and usually a Court:

Manor Demesne Rents of
of Court
£ s. d. £ s. d. s. d. £ s. d.
Frodeswell 2 0 0 6 17 7[106] 1 0
Penford 4 0 0 5 18 1 2
Drayton 1 6 0 5 18 2 6 2 0 0
Mere 2 0 0 5 13 4 6
Apeton 1 9 8 3 4 2
Coton 4 0 0 6 0 0
Penulton 4 0 0 14 18 6

[106] And 1 lb. pepper.


In each case the demesne is described as arable, meadow, and pasture. In Stafford the Priory had burgages, orts, and gardens worth £14. Other possessions were at Amerton, Drayngton, Grindley, Newton, Lee, Acton Trussell, Colton, Salt, Hopton, Shradycote, Whitgreve, Admaston, Rycerdysctote, Lichfield (a burgage, 6s.), Byssheton, Olton, Marchington, Bednall, Walton, Hanyate, and Swynneshed, in Staffordshire. Elsewhere are Ashbourne, Duranstrope, Quinton, “villa de Wico Malbano” (where £2 13s. 4d. comes “de duobus domibus salinis,” called “Salt Howses”), besides the Manor of Penulton already mentioned.

The temporal outgoings include the following:

To the King, 2s. for “Sute silver” from the Manor of Penford, 10d. from Arberton, 12d. from Salt, and 13d. from Pennulton; to the Bishop of Lichfield, 20s. 11d. for lands in Stafford, etc.; to William Chetyn, Kt., from Stafford and Salt, 4s. 10d.; Thomas Bagott, Kt., from Admaston, 3s.; George Gresley, mil., from Colton and Admaston; to Sir John Dudley, 3s. from Penford; to Rose Cleyton of Bushbury, widow, from Penford; to Richard Egerton, clerk, Master of St. John’s Hospital at Stafford, 4s. 4d.; to the Prior of Stone, 2s.; of Ronton, 2s.; of Croxden, 2s.; of Shene, 10s. 4d.; to the presbyters of the College of Stafford, 3s. 4d.; to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem, 8d.

The chief steward was Earl Ferrers and his fee was £4. The steward of Pennulton, Alexander Ratclyffe, received £1. Thomas Crosse, deputy steward or custodian of the Manor Courts in Staffordshire, received 13s. 8d. The bailiffs were Otto Holond at Penulton,[117] George Boughey at Frodswell, etc., Edward Whythell at Coton and Stafford, William Russell at Drayton, William Parry at Penford, Hugh Brenn’ at Mere, John Kelyng at Apeton. Their fees ranged from 33s. 4d. to 6s. 8d.

Of these at the Dissolution[107] Earl Ferrers received a pension of 40s.; Ratcliffe, 13s. 4d.; Holland, 13s. 4d., Boughey, 20s., and Edward Whytell, 33s. 4d. There were also the following: Mr. Robert Browne, 15s.; Mr. Philip Chetwynd, 26s. 8d.; Hugh Baker, 20s.; William Harney, 10s.; William Bagley, 10s.; Richard Torner, baker, 10s.; James Cocke, 20s.; Thomas Stapleton, 10s.; and Richard Whytell, 20s. These were all, evidently, lay officials of the house, and doubtless some of them were the successors of those named in Valor Ecclesiasticus.

The spiritual income came from glebe and tithes at Stowe, Bushbury, Geyton, Berkyswiche, Weston, and Aldelem (Cheshire), tithes at Cariswall and Mere, Easter dues from Stowe, Weston, Geyton, and Berkyswiche. The glebe is particularised, and amounts to £6 6s. 4d.

Spiritual outgoings include £2 4s. to the Bishop for appropriated churches, and £3 6s. 8d. every third year for visitation fees; 3s. 6d. to the Archdeacon of Stafford; £18 10s. to the Dean and Chapter; and 15s. to the Priory of Coventry.

No valuation subsequent to the Dissolution is given in Monasticon. The fine for continuance was £133 6s. 8d.[108] The house was comfortably furnished, and[118] there were considerable quantities of stores and a fair amount of live stock, etc., as will be detailed later.

Stone Priory

The Austin Priory of Stone had had many struggles arising out of the encroachments of the “religious” on the sphere of the “secular” clergy. In the twelfth century it employed an agent to purchase livings and many troubles arose in consequence of his success.

In the competition for appropriations and tithes which went on between the religious houses there was keen rivalry. St. Thomas, Stafford, attempted in 1278 to obtain the Church of Stone, and sought to get Bishop Longsword on its side by submitting the matter to his arbitration. But Stone retaliated by appealing to the Dean and Chapter with a gift of 10 marks. In the same century there was a dispute between Kenilworth Priory, on behalf of its dependent house at Stone, and St. Remigius, on behalf of Lapley, about the tithes of Shefford. Ultimately, they were taken from Lapley and bestowed on Stone, but in 1368 there were further disputes about the same subject.

In the reign of Henry III there was strife between the parishioners and the Priory about the payment of tithes, and it was formally arranged that all parishioners, freemen and villeins alike, should pay the definite sum of two farthings a year, with “oblations” four times yearly.

The Canons of Stone trafficked largely in corrodies. From Edward I they obtained permission for a fair. They entered thoroughly into the affairs of the world.[119] During the Barons’ War they were not above plundering the lands of those who were fighting: their cellarer was charged with breaking into the house of a man who was a prisoner in the hands of the Barons. The Priory suffered, however, from making itself too “secular,” and in the days of Bishop Norbury it was brought to the verge of bankruptcy by the frequent calls which were made on its hospitality by travellers on the King’s highway beside which it stood. It maintained its spirit of worldliness. In 1473 the Prior is found associating himself with one Sir Thomas Fyton, Kt., in disseising Richard Whalley of property in Darlaston, Anslow, and Aston, near Stone. Neither appeared to answer the charge, and their bail was forfeited. The Prior was fined £6, and the Knight £120, with £60 damages, he having taken the property vi et armis.[109] The Prior in the time of Bishop Smythe (1493–1496), whose name was Thomas Fort, acted as suffragan bishop in the diocese while the diocesan employed himself in political work.

The Prior at the time of the Suppression was William Smith. In the returns which he supplied to the Commissioners for Valor Ecclesiasticus[110] there are not many details of particular interest, though the old connection with Kenilworth is shown to be still maintained.

From the Manor of Stone came £27 13s. 2d., the items of which are of tenements with their appurtenances, £8 12s.; 26 cottages, £5 7s.; demesne arable, £3 6s. 8d.; pasture, £2 10s.; meadow, £2 1s. 4d.;[120] a water-mill, £4; perquisites of the Court, 13s. 4d.; chief rents, £1 2s. 10d. £16 came from Stallington, and smaller sums from Stoke, Walton near Stone, Aston in fee of Walton, Burston, Shebridge, Stafford (5s. 8d.), Coppenhall, Wotton, Hilderstone, and Darlaston. Among these an orchard at Aston produces 4d., and Hilderstone, “de crofto et orio,” 2s.

Temporal outgoings included 1s. 8d. to Henry, Lord Stafford, and 5s. 1d. to the heirs of Henry Vernon, mil. The chief steward was Edward Aston, mil., and his fee was £1 5s. 8d.; his deputy, Thomas Moreton, received 13s. 4d. Walter Walkeden, the bailiff, received £1 6s. 8d.

Spiritual income came as follows: £40 from Stone, £8 10s. in tithes from Milwich, £2 from Swynnerton, £1 from Checkley, and £24 from Tyso in Warwickshire. The revenue from Stone was £8 in Easter dues; tithes, £28; lesser tithes called “White Tythes,” £1, and oblations to St. Wulphade, etc., £3.

Spiritual outgoings consisted of Episcopal visitation fees £3 6s. 8d. triennially and £1 6s. 8d. annually for procurations, etc.; 13s. 4d. to the Dean and Chapter; £2 to the Vicars of the Cathedral; 19s. to the Archdeacon of Stafford; £9 to Kenilworth Abbey; and 13s. 4d. to Coventry Priory.

The payment of £9 to Kenilworth Abbey appears as £9 11s. 4d. in the Valor of that Abbey, but there is no entry of the 2s. paid by the Priory of St. Thomas, Stafford (V.E., p. 111), or of the £2 3s. paid from the churches of Berkswich, Bushbury, and Weston (V.E., p. 129).

In the valuation after the Dissolution (Monasticon,[121] vi, 233), Coppenhall and Darlaston are omitted, but Myford, 3s.; Fulford, 8s.; Tittensor (tithes), £2 13s. 4d., and Burston (tithes), 10s. 4d., are added; also a fulling-mill at Stone worth £1 6s. 8d., and Madeley Rectory, £9 6s. 8d. Decreases are the demesne at Stone (to £5 0s. 4d.), rents in Stafford (3s. 4d.), Stone Rectory (£39 10s.), Tyso Rectory (£22), Milwich Rectory, £4. The rents at Stone had increased to £49 8s. 10d., at Stallington to £23 6s. 8d., at Walton to £6 0s. 4d., at Stoke (with Aston, Darlaston, and Burston) from £3 16s. to £7 11s. 6½d., at Shebridge to £2, at Walton to £8 0s. 5d., and at Hilderstone to 5s. The Court perquisites at Stone Manor had also risen to £1 6s. 8d.; this with the decrease in the value of the demesne and the enormous increase in rents shows that a considerable part of the demesne had been let. The total valuation is £199 19s. 1½d.

Trentham Priory

The Priory of Trentham had always been an aristocratic house, intimately connected in its early days with the Earls of Chester and later with the Earls of Lancaster, their successors. It had, of course, been involved in the struggles of its patrons. In the early days of Stephen, during one of the periods when Earl Ralf was on Matilda’s side, he allowed her (1139) to nominate the Prior of his house at Trentham. The Prior was declared to be appointed tam largitione quam presentacione venerabilis Domine nostre Matilde.[111]

During the rebellion of Thomas of Lancaster Prior Richard de Lavynden died (1321). Lancaster promptly[122] asserted his claim to the presentation, forcibly entered the house against the wish of the Canons—or so they subsequently asserted when Lancaster fell—and insisted on the election of Richard de Dulverne. Dulverne petitioned the King, immediately after Lancaster’s execution, to allow his election. Edward II assented, on receiving a fine of forty marks, but asserted that the right of preservation had “always” belonged to the Crown.[112] Edward II also enforced his claim to nominate to corrodies at Trentham with vigour and harshness, and Valor Ecclesiasticus shows that the claim was still maintained in the reign of Henry VIII. But the royal patronage of Trentham did not avail to protect the Priory in times of disorder. In 1428 Prior Thomas had his goods plundered by Richard Twigg of Ashbourn, who also laid in wait to kill him, so that he had to keep a bodyguard of defenders.

The Prior in 1535 was Thomas Bradwall. According to Valor Ecclesiasticus,[113] the main part of the temporal income came from the Manor of Trentham (£39 6s. 6d. out of £83 19s.). There were demesne lands worth £26, arable, meadow, and pasture, and a water-mill. The remainder was chief rents (18s. 8d.), 11 tenements, another water-mill, and 16 cottages “cum pertinentibus” in Trentham (£11 15s. 10d.), and the perquisites of the Courts (12s.). The remaining property in Staffordshire was at Longton, Kybbulston, Blurton, Cokenage, Newstead, Hanchurch, Cleyton Gryffin, Chaldon, Mere juxta Caryswall, Elkeston, and[123] Newcastle-under-Lyme. The proceeds from Longton include 4 barbed arrows, and there was a water-mill worth 30 shillings at Chaldon. In Warwickshire Fenny Compton produced £2 and in Leicestershire Gaddesby produced 13s. 4d.

Outgoings included 11s. 6d. to the King for lands, etc., in Newcastle, and 2s. 6d. for lands in Chaldon; 4s. to the Bishop of Lichfield; 3s. 6d. to the heirs of Robert Sheffield (Newcastle and Clayton Gryffin); 4s. 4d. to the heirs of Henry Vernon (Kybbulston). William Chetwyn is chief steward (£1) and his deputy is Thomas Ironmonger (13s. 4d.). The bailiffs were Henry Bredehurst (Franchises of Trentham, 13s. 4d.), and Richard Gynne (Elkeston, 13s. 4d.). Laurence Bradwell was receiver and was paid £2.

Henry Akers had a corrody of £2 a year ex dono regis.

The spiritual income came from the parishes of Trentham (£12 3s. 4d.) and Barleston (£6 14s. 4d.) in Staffordshire, Barkeley in Leicestershire (£5 13s. 4d.), and Sutton in Derbyshire (£12 13s. 4d.). The amount left to Sutton was £4 16s. 8d. From Trentham came Easter dues, £3; tithes of grass, £6 13s. 4d.; tithes of sheep, £2 10s.; and oblations, 10s. From Barlaston came Easter dues, 13s. 4d., tithes of grass and hay, £5 0s. 8d.; tithes of sheep, 13s. 4d.; oblations, 3s.; lesser tithes (called “White Tythes”), 3s.

The payment from Barkeley is described as “extra ecclesiam predictam appropriat’ monasterio Prat’ Leic’”; and that from Sutton was from glebe and tithes of grass.

The spiritual payments included 10s. synodals from Trentham and 10s. 7d. synodals and procurations to the Bishop of Lichfield; 13s. 4d. to the Archdeacon[124] of Stafford; £3 17s. 4d. every third year to the Bishop as visitation fees; £2 13s. 4d. to the Priory of Tutbury for Sutton, and £1 to the Prior of St. John of Jerusalem for the same church. 7d. annually is paid to the heirs of Lord Mountjoy out of the glebe at Sutton. The 16s. 8d. paid by Hulton Abbey (p. 107) does not appear in the receipts, nor the 20s. from Dalbury (p. 167).

The valuation after the Dissolution (Monasticon, vi, 397) amounted to £156 8s. 10d. Omissions are the rents at Kybbulston, Blurton, Cokenage, Newstead, Hanchurch, and Mere. Additions are rents at Wyttemore, 4s.; Meyford, 1s.; Schebrige (crofts), 4s.; Wall Grange, £6 13s. 4d., Bradborne, £1 1s. 8d. At Trentham Manor the demesne and mill had increased to £32 15s. 10d., and rents had increased to no less than £44 13s. 1½d. Trentham Rectory also had increased to £15 15s. 4d. Rents at Longton had increased to £2 8s. 6d., at Chaldon to £3 6s. 8d., at Newcastle to £7 10s. 4d., at Clayton Gryffin to £14 10s. 2d. Perquisites of the Court are 7s. 10d. Barleston Church had fallen in value to £2. The other items are practically identical.

Tutbury Priory

Tutbury was another house which had always had aristocratic connections, and its history had been influenced by its proximity to Tutbury Castle, one of the great houses of the Dukes of Lancaster. Its dependence on St. Peter-sur-Dive was ended in consequence of the French Wars, though Lancaster had some difficulty to enforce his authority.


On a vacancy occurring in 1337 in the headship of the Priory Henry Earl of Lancaster claimed the presentation, alleging that the Prior who had just resigned had been appointed on his nomination. The monks claimed the right of election, and asserted that the last Prior, though he had been nominated by Lancaster, had been rejected and another elected, whose election, however, had been set aside by the Abbot of the parent house of St. Peter-super-Divam. Against this exercise of authority on the part of the parent house they had appealed to Rome. The suit was still pending, and they alleged that the Prior had only resigned through conviction that judgment would be given against him. But they could not deny that Lancaster was patron of the house, and he won his case, and his nominee was ordered to be admitted by the Bishop.[114]

The new authority was not more effective than the foreign had been, and Bishop Norbury found at Tutbury general disorder, incontinency, addiction to hunting, and even a military spirit. It is to be feared that the Kings valued the control they had acquired over the houses with foreign connections mainly for its financial advantage. Henry IV gave his Queen Joan charges on the revenues of Tutbury and we have already seen that the claim to nominate to a corrody there was enforced as late as 1532.[115]

In 1535 the Prior was Arthur Meverell. He had only just been appointed. His predecessor had died in the January of the very year the Commissioners visited the Priory, and the Earl of Shrewsbury had immediately[126] written to Cromwell begging the preferment for the Sub-Prior, “Dn. Arthur Meverell.” Even before the late Prior was dead, a recommendation of Meverell for the post soon to be vacant had been sent in, and an unknown hand has endorsed it: “He was my godfather, and I knew him a comely grave man.”[116] The Bishop wrote to Cromwell on May 7th: “I beg you will not be displeased in the matter of the Prior of Tutbury. I have your letters wherein you desired me not to meddle therein. But now your pleasure known the bond shall be substantially made and the penalty sent to you with all diligence”; and on May 28th: “I sent to the Prior of Tutbury to repair to you.”[117] Dn. Arthur Meverell was, apparently, to judge from his later history, one of the “divers abbottes that could be perswaded or were ... for the purpose placed ... [and who subsequently] made surrender of their houses and conveied them to the Kinge by order of lawe, and had competent pencions.”[118]

The summary of Tutbury is arranged in counties; firstly, the temporal income from Derbyshire, then that from Staffordshire; then comes the spiritual income: annual “pensions” from various counties grouped together (£25 11s. 4d.), and tithes arranged in counties. The outgoings are arranged under the headings of “pensions,” fixed rents, annual fees, and alms.

The temporal income from Derbyshire was £141 14s. 3d. and from Staffordshire, £29 4s. 1d.;[127] £38 11s. 5d. from Doveridge and £8 from the demesne lands called Doveridge Holt there; demesne lands (£5) at West Broughton, and Tutbury (“Chapel Yard,” £3 16s. 10d., and “Prior’s Holmes,” £2 6s. 8d.); perquisites of the Courts at Doveridge, Matherfield, Kirkbroughton, and Marston, 16s. 8d.; lands, etc., at Somersall, Osmaston, and Edulneston, Wotton, Ednaston, and Holington, Kirkbroughton, Duffield (John Prince), Norbury (called “the lands of the demesne”), Fenton, Brailsford, Overton, and Matherfield. At Mulneston is a mill worth (with lands) £2 0s. 9d.

The temporal outgoings included £2 0s. 8d. in fixed rents and £18 13s. 4d. in annual fees. The former comprised 5s. “Sheriff’s Geld” for Wetton; 2s. 4d., chief rents in Tutbury; 3s. 4d., “Palfrey Money” in the Hundred of Apultre, and £1 10s. to the Keepers of Needwood Forest at the Feast of the Purification. All except the last item went to the King.[119]

Annual fees comprised £3 6s. 8d. to the Chief Steward, George, Earl of Shrewsbury; £1 6s. 8d. to Henry Pole, Clerk of the Manor Courts; £2 to Francis Basset, Auditor, and £2 to Humfry Meverell, receiver of the bailiffs, Roland Heth (the franchises of Tutbury and West Broughton) paid £2, and the others £1 6s. 8d. each as follows: William Hyll (Wetton), Ralf Wodcoke (Matherfield), Richard Lane (Edlaston and Osmonston), William Wetton (Adnaston and Hollington), Thomas Wyllot (Marston and Duffield), Henry Mylward (Doveridge).

The spiritual outgoings comprised 13s. 4d. to the Bishop for the appropriated church of Broughton;[128] £6 13s. 4d. to the Dean and Chapter for the church of Matherfield; £8 2s. 2d. to the Archdeacon of Derby (Richard Strete) for Kirkbroughton and Marston (procurations and synodals); £5 to Thurston Courtnay, Vicar of Tutbury; £6 13s. 4d. to Robert Gaunt, Vicar of Kirkbroughton; and 15s. to the Archdeacon of Stafford for procurations for Matherfield and Tutbury.

The alms were £2 given to the poor at Corpus Christi, by ancient foundation, and £1 given on the anniversary of the death of the founder.

The valuation subsequent to the Dissolution, as given in Monasticon (iii, 399), is impossible to compare with that of Valor Ecclesiasticus, the items and allotments being so grouped and apportioned that they do not correspond with the earlier arrangement in the great majority of cases. New rents appear at Doveridge to the amount of nearly £48, and the demesne there has risen from £8 to £25 7s. Doveridge Rectory is increased exactly £2. At Wetton, demesne is given worth £8 16s., rents £36 16s. 10¾d., and the Rectory, £8 6s. 8d. Matherfield Rectory was only worth £4 10s. in tithes. The tithe at Sudbury is called “St. Mary’s Tithe,” and appears at only half its former value. Sales of wood and perquisites of the Court are mentioned at Churchbroughton, Edelston, Calton, Wetton, Shirley, Hollington, Esteleke (Leics.), Hatton, Tutbury, Langley, and Doveridge, but in every instance the amount is stated as nulla. Redditus mobiles are mentioned at Wetton (£4 4s.), and Doveridge (13s. 6d.). At Hollington £15 13s. 4d. is given as “payment in lieu of pigs” (Pens’ sive Porc’) and at Wymondham the tithes of pigs appear as having been[129] leased at a rent of £1 9s. 8d. [Firm’ Porc Xmae ad Firm’ dimiss’). The total valuation was £358 2s. 0¾d.

It will be noticed that no friaries have been mentioned: the Diocesan Returns of Valor Ecclesiasticus entirely omit them. The reason is possibly to be found in the remark which is made under the heading of “House of the Friars Minors at Coventry”[120]: “Brother John Stafford being examined upon oath, says that they have no lands or tenements nor any other possessions or revenues spiritual or temporal of any annual value, but only the licensed alms of the neighbourhood and the uncertain charity of the people.” That no attempt was made to estimate the worth of such “alms and charity” may be taken as indicating a certain amount of sympathetic regard for the friars.

We know, however, that the Black Friars at Newcastle-under-Lyme received rents to the amount of £2 per year. At Stafford the Austin Friars had rents bringing in £2 11s. 8d. and the Grey Friars £1 6s. 8d. The latter had some timber and growing corn, six “lands” in the common fields, a close and an orchard, and a meadow which had been given them recently by Robert Quytgrave, gent., for a yearly obit. Half of it was let at 20s. annual rent. At the Dissolution Quytgrave asked for the return of the gift as, he alleged, the bargain had not been kept.

There are other omissions which are more surprising. Woods were extensive in Staffordshire yet they are unmentioned in Valor Ecclesiasticus in all the Staffordshire houses with the single exception of[130] Burton-on-Trent. Even in the post-Dissolution valuation of Tutbury Priory woods are only mentioned in order to record that they produce no revenue. Yet the earlier history of the houses shows that they possessed large tracts of woodland which should have yielded a profitable income. The Black Friars at Newcastle, we learn from Bishop Ingworth, had a “proper wood,” leased to Master Broke. The value of mills, whether water-mills for grinding corn, or fulling-mills, for fulling or milling cloth by beating it with wooden mallets and cleaning it with soap or Fuller’s earth, is often small, and there is no mention of any revenue from tolls or markets. A recent Act of Parliament (21 Henry VIII, c. 13) had forbidden the monks to engage in trade, and they appear to have complied with its behests. The revenue from salt-pans is small: perhaps for the same reason. Water-mills are mentioned at Burton (2), Bromley Hurst, Derby (belonging to Burton Abbey); Alton, Cauldon, and Ellaston (belonging to Croxden); Hulton, Normacot, and More (belonging to Hulton Abbey); Ronton; Drayton (belonging to St. Thomas’s, Stafford); Stone; Trentham (2), and Chaldon (belonging to Trentham Priory; and at Mulneston belonging to Tutbury Priory. The three at Hulton were only worth in all £1 5s. 8d. a year, and that at Ronton was only worth 18s. 9d. a year. The three belonging to Croxden produced at most £6 6s. 8d. a year, and the one at Tutbury £2 0s. 9d. On the other hand, the one at Stone was worth £4 a year, and the two at Burton were worth no less than £12 a year.

Fulling-mills are only found at Rocester and Stone, and their annual value in each case is small, £2 6s. 8d.[131] and £1 6s. 8d. respectively, so that in Staffordshire at any rate it could not be said that the monasteries competed to any large extent with lay industries. Salt-pans are only mentioned in the case of Dieulacres (£3) and Ronton (£1 11s.). It is strange that no mention is made of the Pottery Works at Hulton Abbey, and the Tannery which the same house had possessed at the time of Pope Nicholas IV’s Taxatio (1288) had also disappeared. In the Taxatio four mills had been taken into account in the valuation of Burton Abbey, one each in those of Croxden, Dieulacres, and Stone, and two each in those of Hulton, Ronton, St. Thomas’s Priory, and Tutbury.

The revenue from Courts is also small. It is as follows:

£ s. d.
Burton Abbey 3 6 8
Dieulacres Abbey 4 0 0
Hulton Abbey 12 0
Rocester Abbey 6 8 (in post-Dissolution Valuation).
St. Thomas’s Priory 3 2
Stone Priory 13 4 (£1 6s. 8d. in post-Dissolution Valuation).
Trentham Priory 12 0
Tutbury Priory 16 8 (nulla in post-Dissolution Valuation).

It is difficult to account for the smallness of these figures. It is idle to say the monks withheld all the information they possessed when we find the Valuers after the Dissolution deliberately stating that the revenue from all the Courts which had belonged to Tutbury was nothing. Perhaps the Court profits were in many cases included in other items, but more probably the explanation is to be found in the feeling[132] of insecurity which must have been general throughout the whole period with which we are dealing. The shadow of the impending Dissolution must have been for some time darkening the land, and tenants would not readily take new tenancies, with the accompanying admission fees, in the general uncertainty. It shows that there had been few changes of tenants or of tenures during recent years.



We have already perceived that the eyes of Henry VIII were being gradually and steadily opened to the financial possibilities of the clergy. To confiscate the whole of their wealth at once, as it was rumoured was the intention, was an impracticable idea, but the particulars given in Valor Ecclesiasticus showed how it might be possible to proceed in detail. In obtaining those particulars a clearer insight than ever before had been obtained into the circumstances of all the monasteries in England. Royal agents had penetrated further within their walls than they had previously gone. Much information besides what was required for the immediate purpose had been obtained. Gradually Cromwell was able to proceed in his grander scheme, and to accumulate materials upon which he might build up a case against the monasteries. Legislation is often based upon the work of a Royal Commission, and it was upon the work of a Royal Commission, of the Tudor type, that the Bill for the Dissolution of the Lesser Monasteries was based.

More’s execution on June 2nd, 1535, having ended a somewhat embarrassing difficulty, the way was clear. A new visitation of the religious houses was set on foot. The visitors whose names are best known were Doctors Legh and Layton. They were young lawyers in holy orders, with all the arrogant characteristics of the new age, determined to do their work thoroughly and to[134] the satisfaction of their master and patron, and deterred by no qualms of delicacy or reverence for persons or institutions. They started together from Lichfield on a tour through the North. Layton himself suggested the expedition, and also the companionship, not only because of the “faste and unfaynede servys that we here towardes yowe,” but also because “ther ys nother monasterie, selle, priorie, nor any other religiouse howse in the north but other doctor Lee [sic] or I have familier acqwayntance within x or xii mylles of hit, so that no knaverie can be hyde from us in that contre, nor ther we cannot be over fayssede nor suffer any maner injurie. We knowe and have experiens bothe of the fassion off the contre and the rudenes of the pepull, owre frendes and kynsfookes be dispersyde in those parties in evere place redy to assyste us if any stoborne or sturdy carle myght perchaunce be fownde a rebellous.”[121]

Elaborate directions were given to the visitors, the extant draft of which bears evidence of careful revision, probably by the King himself as well as by Cromwell. It consists of no less than 86 articles of enquiry and 25 injunctions. The former are as searching and comprehensive as the latter are severe and intolerable, and, taken together, they enable us to form a good idea of the procedure.

Richard Layton appears to have suggested many of the articles. When he wrote begging to be appointed one of the visitors for “the north contre” he reminded Cromwell of this. “If ye hade leisure to overlooke the booke of articles that I made for your visitacion[135] this tyme xii monethes, and to marke evere sondrie interrogatorie therin wryttyn, dowtles ther is matter sufficient to detecte and opyn all coloryde sanctitie, all supersticiouse rewlles of pretendyde religion, and other abusys detestable of all sorttes, hether[to] clokyde and coloryde.”[122]

Full investigation was ordered into the foundation and title-deeds of each house, and its property, privileges, and benefices; the manner in which the rules were observed; the conduct of the inmates; the bestowal of alms; the keeping of the seal and the accounts; the instruction of the novices; the repair and general management of the property. The officials were to compare their valuation with the one which had been recently made for estimating the tenths, and of course the latter would be an excellent guide and would much simplify their task. It is evident from the extraordinary details which are suggested for investigation that not only would an enormous time be necessary for anything like a proper carrying out of the task, but also that every inducement was intended to be offered to discontented or time-serving brethren to come forward with complaints and accusations.

The injunctions which were to be given to the monks are of the same colour. Not only was the head of every religious house to attack the Pope’s power and to exalt the King’s in sermon and instruction, but requirements were made which could only make monastic life intolerable. No inmate was to leave the precincts. All entrance was severely restricted and regulated.[136] Other rules followed, some inevitable and laudable, others laying heavy burdens of expense, all difficult of exact fulfilment. No inmates under 24 years of age were to be suffered to remain.

It is impossible to escape the conviction that the object of such proceedings was not reform, but destruction. For instance, the confinement to the precincts was not merely intolerable but was impossible if the estates were to be properly looked after. Even Cromwell was obliged to own this and to make exceptions.

If it had been hoped that such thorough regulations would make people think that reformation was intended, all such ideas were dissipated by the conduct of the visitors. Their behaviour was not only offensive in itself, but the way they conducted the investigation was such as to preclude absolutely any lingering hope that their intentions were sincere. The rapidity with which they proceeded was alone sufficient to condemn them. For instance, Layton and Legh came to Lichfield on December 22nd, and the former wrote to Cromwell: “Crastino divi Thome”—“This mornyng we depart towards Lichefelde Churche, and from thens to certayne abbeys upon Trent syde, and so to pase on to Sothewelle, and to be at Yorke within a day affter the xiith day, we intende, and thus to make spede with diligence, and trew knowledge of everethyng is our intent.”[123] Their “intent” was accomplished, and the 11th of January saw them “with the Archebushope of Yorke.”[124]


Much alarm was naturally aroused by the appearance of the visitors. Even the bishops were inclined to resent such intrusion into their province, but they were reduced to silence by a prohibitory letter from Cromwell in September forbidding them to interfere in any matter connected with the religious houses during the progress of the visitation.[125]

In due course the visitors sent in their reports. Among them, in the handwriting of Ap Rice, is a “Compendium compertorum per Doctorem Layton et Doctorem Legh in visitatione regia in provincia Eboracensi ac episcopatu Coven. et Lichfelden.”[126] It was presented within six weeks from their setting out from Lichfield, during which time they professed to have investigated the affairs of 88 monasteries. It is evident that the inquiry must have been of the most superficial nature, and cannot possibly have been conducted with any care. The only mention of Staffordshire is of the Cathedral at Lichfield, and the worst they can say of it is: “Here a pilgrimage is held to St. Chad. Annual rent, £400. Founder, the King.”

To act upon the evidence of the visitors was among the latest work of the Reformation Parliament. Its last, and by no means least, important session began on February 4th, 1536. To this session William Edie, the recently-elected Abbot of Burton, was summoned[127] in order to strengthen Cromwell’s party in the House of Lords. No attempt appears to have been made to[138] sift the evidence alleged against the monasteries, but it was worked up with appropriate embellishments into the preamble of an Act which was passed in March, and which transferred to the King all religious houses of the annual value of less than £200 a year, referring to the Returns which had recently been “certified unto the King’s Exchequer” as providing the data by which the houses which were affected were to be ascertained (Article 7). These were the Returns, known as Valor Ecclesiasticus, which have been already examined in detail. Such evidence of abuses as is extant by no means allows us to draw such an arbitrary line and to say that the lesser houses were blameworthy and the greater innocent. Yet that is what the Act did, making it more emphatic by pointing to the contrast between the “manifest sin, vicious, carnal, and abominable living” in the houses to be dissolved, and the character of “divers great and solemn monasteries of the realm, wherein, thanks be to God, religion is right well kept and observed.” Indeed, as a matter of fact, the evidence which remains points rather the other way. Many of the great monasteries were certainly visited, and it was seldom indeed that such men as Layton and Legh could not find something scandalous. In no case in Staffordshire is there any extant evidence of abuses. If the Staffordshire houses were reported on, either the documents have perished or they have not yet been brought to light. The houses in Staffordshire included under the Act were Tutbury, Rocester, Croxden, Brewood Nunnery, Hulton, Trentham, Stafford (St. Thomas the Martyr), Stone, and Ronton. With these was classed St. Mary Broke, Rutland, and the total[139] value is given as £976 5s. 3¾d.[128] The value, according to Valor Ecclesiasticus, was £975 13s. 9¾d.

The Act expressly exempted all monasteries whose annual value exceeded £200 according to Valor Ecclesiasticus, and thus Burton-on-Trent and Dieulacres escaped. It also exempted “such cells of Religious Houses, appertaining or belonging to their Monasteries or Priories, in which cells the Priors or other chief governors thereof be under the obedience of the Abbots or Priors to whom such Cells belong, as the Monks or Canons of the Convents of their Monasteries or Priories, and cannot sue or be sued, by the Laws of this Realm, in or by their own proper Names, for the Possessions or other Things appertaining to such Cells whereof they be Priors or Governors, but must sue and be sued in and by the Names of the Abbots or Priors to whom they be Obediencers, and to whom such Cells belong; and also be Priors or Governors dative, and removable from Time to Time, and Accountants of the Profits of such Cells, at the only Pleasure and Will of the Abbots or Priors to whom such Cells belong” (Art. 7). Dudley Priory accordingly remained till its superior house at Wenlock fell in 1540.

The suppression of Calwich, already completed, was legalised by a clause which gave to the King any religious house “that otherwise hath been suppressed or dissolved.”

To deal with the treasure which would accrue to the Crown, a special “Court of Augmentations” was created. It consisted of a chancellor, treasurer,[140] attorney and solicitor, ten auditors, 17 receivers, etc., and its business was to take the surrenders and dispose of the property and movables. The chancellor was Sir Richard Riche, the Solicitor-General.[129]

The treasurer was Sir Thomas Pope, better known as the founder of Trinity College, Oxford.[130] Of the auditors, the one most concerned with Staffordshire was William Cavendish,[131] brother of Wolsey’s biographer. The receiver who did most work in our neighbourhood was John Scudamore.

No sooner was the Act passed than a most unseemly scramble for the spoils began. Petitions flowed in to Cromwell and other people of influence, begging, often in the most abject way, for favours. The rights of Patrons and Founders were in theory respected by the Act (Art. viii), but obviously little could be done for such persons when the monasteries disappeared. Obviously all religious and spiritual privileges and benefits vanished, and rights of nomination were valueless when there was no house to which to nominate. The clause was an elaborate pretence. How little the moral rights of founders were regarded is shown in the case of Ronton.

On April 2nd, 1536, Sir Simon Harcourt wrote to Cromwell:[132] “I am informed that it is enacted in Parliament that certain religious houses shall be dissolved. There is a little house of canons in Staffordshire, called Ronton, built and endowed by my ancestors, to the intent they might be prayed for perpetually, and many of them are buried there. I[141] would gladly be a suitor for it to the King, but I dare not, as I know not his pleasure. I beg you will be a mediator to the King for me, that the same house may continue, and he shall have £100 and you £100 if you can accomplish it, and £20 fee out of the said house. If the King is determined to dissolve it, I desire to have it, as it adjoins such small lands as I have in that county, and I and my heirs will pay so much as the rent of assize cometh to, and give you 100 marks.” Sir Simon Harcourt evidently realized the state of affairs thoroughly well, and equally thoroughly understood the sort of man to whom he was writing. Sincerely as he desired the continuance of the burial-place of his ancestors, he knew that Cromwell would recognise no such filial sentiments, so he boldly offered him the large bribe of £100. But a more powerful suitor was in the field. On April 27th Henry Lord Stafford wrote urging his claims.[133] “I beg you will use means with the King that I may have the farm of the Abbey of Rantone if it be dissolved. It is within four miles of my house, and reaches my park pale, and I will give as much for it as any man. I heard that the Queen had moved the King to have me in remembrance for it, and he was content, saying it was alms to help me, having so many children on my hands. I heard that George Blunt endeavours to obstruct my suit.” Next day he wrote to the Earl of Westmoreland begging him to use his influence with the secretary on his behalf, and, failing Ronton, he asks for the house of the White Ladies at Brewood, urging “it is only £40 rent by year, and is in great decay.”[134] Stafford’s suit, thus[142] supported, found more favour than that of poor Simon Harcourt. Richard Cromwell, “honeying at the whisper of a lord,” wrote to Lord Stafford on May 15th[135]: “As to the Abbey you wrote about, my uncle says he will not fail to obtain it for you when the surveying of the Abbeys is at an end.” Stafford had not obtained the house in March of the following year, for Harcourt made a brave fight for it. Later we shall find Lord Hastings asking for Burton.

But squires and lords were not the only people who interested themselves in the dividing of the spoils. Bishop Roland Lee was as forward as any in urging his claims. On April 29th, 1536, he wrote to Cromwell[136]: “Remember my suit for the Priory of St. Thomas (Stafford), of which not only the King, but you, shall have a certain sum. If that cannot be, I trust, as the demesnes came from the Mitre, I may have the preferment of the house and the demesnes for one of my kinsfolk.” He failed to obtain the Priory at once, though he made repeated efforts. On June 27th of this year he wrote[137]: “Though your suit for the Priory of St. Thomas in my behalf cannot stand, yet as you mind my preferment to the farm of the demesnes, I thank you. I desire them only for quietness, not for advantage”; and he wrote again on April 3rd, 1537.

The Priory of Stone contained many tombs of the Staffords, and Lord Stafford evidently hoped the house would escape. But the glory of his family had departed and he had no real influence. The Prior was William[143] Smith, and he does not appear to have had any suspicion that his house was soon to come to an end. Even while the Visitors were making their investigations, if, indeed, any investigation at all was made in the great majority of cases, he was engaged in the business of his house. In his financial transactions with his Bishop he found the latter more worldly-wise than he was himself. Bishop Roland Lee sold him timber out of Blore Park and received the payment. But, being better informed of the trend of events, he prevented many of the trees from being felled and delivered to the dying Priory. On February 19th William Smith wrote urgently to Lee,[138] “Touching the timber in Blore Park which I bought and paid for to my lord, 40 trees are still standing, as the bearer can show. If I have not the said timber I know not where to be provided for my great work now in hand. I shall intreat you for your pains.” Several months later, Henry Lord Stafford wrote to Cromwell telling him “that the Prior of Stone hathe good hope that his howse schall stand, whereof all the contree is right glad, and praye fulle hertily for your lordeship therfore.” The Earl of Shrewsbury, however, had designs on it, and sought the assistance of Scudamore in obtaining it, bringing himself to address his letter “To my hertly biloved fellow John Skydmore, oon of the gentylmen vsshers of the Kynge’s most honourable Chamber.”

In these circumstances there was much uncertainty as to the extent to which the Act would literally and fully be carried out, and how far influence might succeed in nullifying it.


In due course another band of royal agents was let loose upon the land to carry out the work of dissolution. The “Instructions for the King’s Commissioners” are exceedingly minute. For each county an Auditor and Receiver was to be appointed, with one of the clerks of the late visitation, and to these were to be joined “three other discreet persons to be named by the King.” These were to visit each condemned house and exhibit the Statute of Dissolution to the head and his brethren. The inmates were then to be required to make on oath a full disclosure of the state of their affairs, to surrender their charters and seal, plate, and other effects. Such of the monks as were willing to take “capacities” were to be referred to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Lord Chancellor, and were to be rewarded for their complacency; the rest were to be transferred to other houses. Orders were to be given that the monks were to cease receiving any income except such as was absolutely necessary, but they were to continue “to sow and till their grounds as they have done before,” and the Superior was referred to “the Chancellor of the Augmentation for his yearly stipend and pension.” But evidently the agents were prepared to accept favourable offers. Henry Lord Stafford, writing to Cromwell on March 12th, 1537, says: “The Commissioners will be in Staffordshire on Sunday next. The Prior of Stone thinks his house shall stand, whereof the country is glad; so my suit is in vain unless your Lordship help me to the Priory of Rontone, for which I was first suitor: howbeit Sir Simon Harcourt makes great labour for it”; and he proceeds again to plead his[145] poverty and his large family, mentioning that he had twelve children.[139]

The Commissioners in Staffordshire dissolved three out of the nine houses which came within the scope of the Act, namely Ronton, Stone, and Trentham. The majority were spared, some, as we have seen, through the intervention of powerful or interested friends, but all on payment of large sums.[140] For instance, Hulton, having paid £66 13s. 4d., obtained a grant of exemption on October 1st, 1536, the Abbot being Edward Wilkyns; Rocester’s grant was made on March 11th, 1537, and its payment £100; Tutbury, per Arthur Meverell, received its license on May 3rd; Croxden, per Thomas Chawner, on the 2nd of July, by payment of £100; St. Thomas’, Stafford, per Richard Whyttewall, on July 4th, by payment of £133 6s. 8d. On April 3rd, Robert Burgoyn had written to the Bishop, who so earnestly had desired the Priory: “According to your desire ... I have forwarded letters from the Chancellor of the Augmentations to Mr. Scudamore to survey the lead of the late house of Canons beside Stafford,”[141] which shows how narrowly the house escaped, even for a time, the clutches of Roland Lee and Cromwell, for though he spoke of it as “the late house,” it did not surrender till October, 1538. Lee kept up his persistent begging for it to the end.

The Grant of Exemption obtained by Croxden is given in the Appendix. It gives the King’s new title,[146]Supremum Caput Anglicanae Ecclesiae,” in its most offensive form, without the qualifying words, but it will be noticed that it is couched throughout in general terms. There is nothing in it which is peculiar to the particular house concerned. Everything would apply equally well to any other house. It looks as though the Commissioners went on their circuit provided with a supply of such general forms, having blanks for the names of houses and of abbots, which they were prepared to issue whenever they thought fit, that is, whenever a sufficiently large pecuniary inducement could be offered. That there was no genuine intention to allow any of the religious houses to continue permanently was speedily shown.

But for the present the elaborate grants for continuance served their turn, and allayed public dismay. No echo of the Pilgrimage of Grace was heard in Staffordshire, although that dangerous rising began near the north-eastern border of the county. It rolled northwards, and Lord Stafford was so entirely satisfied that he carried out the difficult and costly process of transferring his family monuments from the dissolved Priory at Stone to the Austin Friary at Stafford. He evidently had no idea that Commissioners would destroy that house, too, in a few months.

It was, of course, entirely to the interest of the agents of the Dissolution to conceal the real scope of their intentions, for the threatened monks naturally tried sometimes to keep back part of their cherished possessions and to save the sacred vessels and vestments from the profane uses to which they were likely to be put. The Act of Dissolution had foreseen the[147] danger and had made all sales and leases of lands effected “within one year next before the making of this Act,” “utterly void and of none effect”; while all ornaments, jewels, goods and chattels which the houses possessed “at the first day of March in the year of our Lord God 1535 or any time sithen whensoever” were declared the property of the King. The Prior of Stone and some of his neighbours, who, as we have seen, resented the suppression of the house, attempted to save something.

“Articles and instructions” for special commissioners were issued “concerning the embezzling and taking [away] of certain plate, jewels, ornaments, goods, and chattels of the late monastery of Stone ... whereupon as well William Smyth, late Prior of the said house, James Colyer, James Atkyn, Sampson Greswike, Geoffrey Walkeden, and Hugh Rathebone, and all such other persons as Thomas Woodall, bringer hereof, shall name, are to be examined.”[142] The specific charges are as follows, so far as they can be traced, for the document unfortunately exists in a fragmentary form only: “Whether Colyer received a shrine, four standing cups, and two silver salts; whether Atkyn received certain sheep and cattle since the said fourth day of February; whether Greswike since the fourth day of February hath of the said house ...,” and there the paper ends. February 4th was the day on which the Session of Parliament which had passed the Act of Dissolution had opened.

In the Augmentation Accounts for 1538 we find “A parcel of £20 due from James Colyer for the surplus[148] value of a shrine of silver-gilt mortgaged to him by the Prior of Stone, part of which was paid 5 of June, 30 Henry VIII, £13 6s. 8d.”[143] The Abbot of Dieulacres secured blank forms with the Convent seal before it was taken from him, and on these he subsequently made out ante-dated leases. Bishop Lee reported to Cromwell that the Prior of St. Thomas at Stafford was making “unreasonable waste,” which probably means that he had realized the uselessness of economy in the face of imminent dissolution.

The fines for continuance were exceedingly heavy and must have pressed very hardly on the houses which were called upon to raise such large sums. They appear to have been roughly calculated at a year’s income,[144] and no doubt they account in no small measure for the indebtedness which subsequently was charged against some of the houses.

Moreover, the officials looked for bribes and presents, and we may be sure they required to be well entertained when they visited the monasteries, to judge from their own large expenditure on “cates.”[145] The houses were impoverished by direct methods as well. Prior Richard, of St. Thomas’s, Stafford, was ordered to give the lease of a church at Audlem in Cheshire, belonging to the Priory, to a nominee of Cromwell’s. He protested against the unfairness, though he was unable to avoid compliance. “It is,” he says,[146] “in the occupation of five poor farmers there by lease,” but he had to give Cromwell’s nominee a fifty years’ lease[149] in reversion, in consideration of Cromwell’s “goodness,” and the lessee was to pay six shillings and eightpence, whereas they could have had 40 marks from another. He adds that last Midsummer he paid Cromwell £60 and now sends £20 more.

The same policy of crippling the Abbeys was pursued even towards Burton, which did not come under the Act. On August 15th, 1538, the Abbot of Burton-on-Trent wrote to Cromwell[147]: “On the 12th of August I received the King’s letters and yours in favour of Mr. Robert Everest, one of the servers of the Chambers, for the tithe of the parsonage of Allstrye, Warwickshire. That tithe is so necessary for our house that we cannot do without it, and was appropriated under the broad seal of England because we had not corn sufficient for hospitality. You write that Sir Thomas Gresley, lately deceased, had it. But that is 34 years ago, and he only had it then because the Abbot was indebted to him.”

The following letter from the Abbot of Burton is addressed “to the Ryght Worshipful Maister Holcroft the Kynge comycyoner at Lenton delyver this:”[148]

“Mayster Holcroft I enterlye recomend me vnto you beseching God that I may once be able to surrendre vnto you condygne thanks for thys youre goodness wyche have dymynysshed parte of the charges wyche by yor (scored through) comyssyon you myght have put me to, And as touchyng youre request of this brother and the lame chylde, god wyllyng I shall so accomplysshe hyt as shall both please yor mastership & content the partyes beyng not only in this thyng but also in all other redy at my prynces comandement and to my small power shew yor mastershippe pleasure pryng you accordyng[150] to yor w’tyng of good word and lawfull favor Thus oure lorde have yor mastershippe in his kepyng to his pleasure and youre comfort from Burton the xviiith day of Maye

“Yors assuryd

“Willm Abbot there.”

The friaries for some time were left to themselves. They were poor and had few inmates, and their houses were not settled in pleasant situations, with broad estates reaching “to my lord’s park pale.” They were, indeed, within or near the walls of the towns, and, consequently, were of little interest to the aristocracy.

But their poverty was no permanent security. On February 6th, 1538, Dr. Ingworth, the renegade Prior of the richest house of the Black Friars in England, and lately made Suffragan Bishop of Dover, was commissioned to visit all the friaries, and he rapidly carried out his work. We have very full particulars of his campaign in Staffordshire, and some remarkable details. On August 7th he was at the house of the Grey Friars at Lichfield, on August 9th he decided the fate of both the friaries at Stafford, and next day he was equally effective at Newcastle-under-Lyme;[149] and this in spite of the fact that he was obliged to confess that “the Friars in these parts have many favourers, and great labour is made for their continuance. Divers trust to see them set up again, and some have gone up to sue for them.” But he tells Latimer (on August 23rd) that such strong expressions of popular opinion had had no terrors for him; he had visited 18 places, including Lichfield, Stafford, and Newcastle, and had only left one house standing.[150]


The Staffordshire friaries were without exception poor places in every respect, and the Bishop cleverly made that a strong argument against them. In spite of poverty, the friars clung to their old homes and work, although he invariably offered them money payments to depart. Writing from Lichfield, he told Cromwell that “divers of the Friars are very loath to forsake their houses, and yet they are not able to live.” The house at Lichfield, for instance, he says, “is in that taking, and yet loath to give up.”[151] The day after he had been there he wrote Cromwell a full account of his visit.[152] He announced that in spite of their wishes he had induced them all to surrender. The warden was in a pitiable state of ill-health, with a loathsome disease on his face. He had been little at home for the past six months, “yet now he came home and was loath to give up his house, though it is more in debt than all the stuff that belongs to it will pay, chalice, bells, and all, by 20 nobles.” The certificate of surrender is dated August 7th.[153] It states that the house was surrendered voluntarily, without any counsel or constraining, for very poverty—a manifest falsehood, as the Bishop’s own letters testify. The witnesses of this surrender were Richard Wetwode, “Master of the Guild there,” and the two constables, Alexander Grene and Thomas Lont. The Visitor delivered the house and goods to these three, gave every friar a letter, and departed. An inventory of the goods so delivered follows, and comprises articles in kitchen, brewhouse,[152] choir, and sextry. There is also a statement of the debts owing by the house, which were partly for malt and rye, with 30 shillings which had been borrowed “for byldyng of the quere” and 20 shillings due to the Bishop for five years’ rent. Four days later Dr. Legh wrote to Cromwell, on his own account and also at the instance of the Bishop, to both of whom Wetwode had shown “great pleasure,” asking that Wetwode should have the preferment.[154] It is evident that just as great lords and enterprising country squires were interested parties in the suppression of monasteries, so the rising tradesmen in the towns cast longing eyes on the houses of the friars. This accounts for the co-operation of the municipal authorities in the work of dissolution.

A very full and detailed account of the Bishop’s procedure in regard to the friars is given in a memorandum referring to the visitation of the two houses at Stafford. This most interesting and valuable document is as follows:[155]

“Mem. This 9 day of August in the 30 year of our most dred Sovereign lord King Henry VIII., Richard Bishop of Dover, visitor under the Lord Privy Seal for the King’s Grace, was in Stafford in the Grey Friars and also in the Austen Friars, where that the said Visitor said to the heads and brethren of both places these words: Brethren, where that I understand ye have had information that I should come, by the King’s Commission, to suppress your house and put you out, fear not, for I have no such commission, nor I use no such fashion in any place. I am sent to reform every man to a good order and to give injunctions for preservation of the same. If ye can be content and think yourself able here to live and to be reformed and to observe such reasonable injunctions as I shall leave with you, the which or that I require your[153] answer, ye shall here and see in writing, then I am and shall be content that ye shall with the King’s favour continue as before ye have do. If that ye be not able to live and observe the same then if ye of your own minds and wills give your houses into the King’s hands I must receive them. The said injunctions were read to them which were reasonable. The said heads with all the brethren with one assent, without any counsel or co-action, gave their houses into the Visitor’s hands to the King’s use. The Visitor received the same, and of the houses and implements made inventories and delivered them to such as should keep them to the King’s use, and so delivered to each friar a letter to visit his friends and so departed. This witnesseth John Savage and Thos. Russell, Bailiffs of the borough of Stafford; Wm. Stamforde and Ric. Warde, gentlemen, with divers others.”

The mean trickery as well as absolute perversion of truth in the Bishop’s conduct and statement could not be better shown than in this interesting record. The wretched friars were already trembling for their own safety, as they saw the monks on every side dispossessed and impoverished, and impoverished themselves at any rate by the check which the events of recent years must inevitably have given to bequests and alms to all religious institutions. Disheartened by long uncertainty, they fell easy victims to the bullying and falsehoods of the plausible Visitor and his coadjutors, the vulgar and rich shopkeepers who accompanied him, the latter eager for the site and buildings, adjoining perhaps their own places of business, and certainly convenient for warehouses and store-rooms. It was not till the spring of 1539 that Parliament passed an Act recognising the fait accompli and giving the King all the religious houses.

The Inventory of the possessions of the Austin Friars at Stafford, which were placed in charge of William Stamforde, of Rowley, and Master Richard[154] Warde, of Tylynton, is full of interesting details throwing much light on the ecclesiastical and domestic arrangements of the time.[156] In the vestry there was a cross of copper gilt “with an image silver of parcel gilt,” a copper censer, four “suits” (i.e., sets) of vestments, one black set for requiems, and one with “images” of the Blessed Virgin, two green copes, one black “chamlet,” etc. In the choir were two old altar-cloths, two small candlesticks, a sacring-bell, and a “pair of organs.” There were two bells in the steeple. In the church were two stained cloths, an alabaster table, two ladders, and two benches. The contents of hall, kitchen, recreation-house, etc., are also given. There was little or no lead, and the yearly rents amounted only to 51s. 8d. The Visitor took into his own keeping the chalice, which weighed 13 oz., and he ordered that the servants should be paid ten shillings of their wages at the next Michaelmas.

The Inventory of the house of the Grey Friars is similarly detailed.[157] In the sextry there were five “suits” without albs; a suit for requiems, one each of dun silk, yellow sey, and branched green silk. There were six copes, two being of linen cloth “stained with image work.” There were six altar-cloths, a pyx of latten, etc. In the church were four alabaster tables, a pair of large candlesticks, a cross, and a censer of latten, two missals, one printed and one written, “a pair of small organs,” etc. There was much lead, for half the choir was leaded and one of the chapels. The rents only came to 26s. 8d. Again the chalice[155] was taken by the Visitor, with six spoons: 16 oz. in all.

Next day he was at Newcastle-under-Lyme.[158] He found it owed £14, for which all its substance was in pledge, yet was insufficient to meet the debt. The Inventory was again signed by the town officials, John Lymforde, Mayor, and Thomas Brodsha and Richard Smyth. The Inventory of the goods showed that in the vestry there were “suits” of blue silk, of silk with roses, and of green silk. There were eleven chasubles, five copes, and two old tunicles. In the choir there were two pairs of candlesticks of copper and latten, one cross of copper and gilt with a “Mary and John.” “A pair of organs” is mentioned and an alabaster table on the High Altar. In the steeple were two bells. In the house were two old feather beds, one old bolster, and five old coverlets, an old chest, and a green covering of say. The usual articles are mentioned in kitchen, brewhouse, hall, and buttery. The choir and cloisters were roofed with lead, and the rents came to 40s. a year. The Bishop of Dover took possession of the chalice, which was a small one, five spoons, and “two narrow bands of masers” (14 oz.), but he sent up to Cromwell three boxes “of evidence,” one of the King’s, one of other gentlemen’s, and one of the Convent’s.

He wrote from Lichfield an account of his journey to that point, and supplemented it on August 13th by another letter written at Shrewsbury.[159] He apologises for not being able to send at once all the Inventories,[156] but he had no leisure for such work, and, moreover, his servants were ill. Perhaps they could not stand the rapidity with which he travelled, “but I trust to se yower lordschype within a veke, and be that tyme I trust to make an ende in all Walys.” He continues: “Sumwhat to certyfye yower lordeschype of the state off suche as I have receyveyd sythe that I wrote to yow towcheynge Stafforde, the Austen Fryeres ther ys a pore howse, with small implementes, no jwelles but on lytyll chales, no led in the howse, in rentes by yere lis. xiiid. The Graye Fryeres ther, halfe the quere ledeyd and a chapell, small implementes, no plate but a chales and vi. small sponys, in renttes xxvis. iiiid. The Blacke Fryeres in Newecastell Underlyne, all in ruyne, and a pore howse, the quere ledeyd and the cloeyster led redy to fall downe, the reste slate and schyngyll; in fermys by yere xls. On master Broke hathe of late fownde the menys with the prior to gett of hym the more parte of they howseys and grownde ther by iii. leseys, and that for lytyll money; he wolde a gyve me golde to a grantteyd to hys leseys, but I toke no peny of hym nor of non other, nor non woll. Iff he have thoys leseys there ys lytyll besyde, for he hathe lyberte allmost in all. Ther ys a proper wode, but he hathe all in lese. No sylver above xiii. ounce.” The property had been fully mortgaged to Mr. Broke, possibly, but not probably—for the general poverty of the house amply accounts for it—with a view to the threatened visit of Dr. Ingworth. But the Bishop’s elaborate assertion of his superiority to bribery must have been amusing reading to Cromwell: he “doth protest too much, methinks.” He was not chary of[157] sycophancy, however. He proceeds, after describing the ruined state of the Austin Friars at Shrewsbury: “My synguler good lorde, I beseche youe pardon me of my rude wrytynge, and yf that I do not my dewte as I owte to do I beseche youe pardon me, for my hart and intente ys to do that thynge that shulde specyally plese God, the kynges grace, and yower lordschype, accordeynge to my dewte.” He then goes on to “beseche” his Lordship, the son of the drunken brewer, “that yf before my cumynge there be any order taken for Newecastell Underlyne, that ye wolde be good lorde to on Master Johan Bothe, a servant of the kynges graces, the whyche is a grett bylder in theys partes, that he myght for money have the slate and schyngyll ther; for ther ys no other to be don with the more parte of that howse, but save the lede and slate, and take the profete of the grownde. That master Bothe for yower sake sheuyd me many plesures and gave me venyson; wherefor I may no lesse do but wryght to yower lordeschype besecheynge yow to be good lorde to hym, an I ever yower orator to Jhesu, who preserve yower lordschype.”

In this year Bishop Lee issued a series of injunctions to the clergy of the diocese.[160] In these he ordered sermons to be preached at least quarterly in “all monasteries.” There were few remaining by the end of the year, and only one—Burton-on-Trent, in Staffordshire. No monks or friars were to have any “cure or servyce,” “except they be lawfully dispensed withall or licensed by the ordinary.” Confessions to monks and friars were forbidden, though ordered to be[158] made to parish priests, before Communion, and the wearing of secular dress was sternly condemned.

Cromwell also issued injunctions to the clergy, on September 5th, 1538,[161] ordering, among other things, “that such Images as ye know in any of your cures to be so abused with pilgrimages or offerings of anything made thereunto ye shall for avoiding of that most detestable offence of Idolatry furthwith take down and deley ... admonyishng your parishioners that Images serve for no other purpose but as to be bookes of unlearned men that can no letters.... And therefor the kinges highnes graciously tenderyng the weale of his subjectes sowles hath in parte alredy and more will hereafter travail for the abolishing of suche Images as might be occasion of so greate an offence to god and so gret daunger to the sowles of his loving subjectes.” No charge of superstition had been brought against the image of St. Modwen at Burton by Layton and Legh at their visitation, but none the less it was pulled down. Sir William Bassett, of Meynell Langley, a few miles from Burton, wrote as follows to Cromwell:[162] “Ryght honorabull my inesspeyciall gud lord, accordyng to my bownden dewte and the teynor of youre lordschypys lettres lately to me dyrectyd, I have sende unto yowre gud lordschyp by thys beyrer, my brother, Francis Bassett, the ymages off sentt Anne off Buxtone and sentt Mudwen of Burtun apon Trentt, the wych ymages I dyd take frome the place where they dyd stande, and browght them to my owne howss within xlviiie howres after the contemplation of yowre seyd[159] lordschypis lettres, in as soober maner as my lyttull and rude wytt wollde serve me. And ffor that there schullde no more idollatre and supersticion be there usyd, I dyd nott only deface the tabernaculles and placis where they dyd stande, butt allso dyd take away cruchys, schertes, and schetes, with wax offeryd, being thynges thatt dyd alure and intyse the yngnorantt pepull to the seyd offeryng; allso gyffyng the kepers of bothe placis admonicion and charge thatt no more offeryng schulld be made in those placis tyll the kynges plesure and yowre lordschypis be ffurther knowen in that behallf.... And, my lord, as concerning the opynion off the pepull and the ffonde trust that they dyd putt in those ymages and the vanyte of the thynges, thys beyrer my brother can telle yowre lordschyp much better att large then I can wryte, for he was with me att the doing of all.” The said Francis Bassett was in the service of Cranmer, and we shall meet with him again; “There cam nothyng with theym but the bare imagis.” Bishop Lee saved from the spoilers the jewels of St. Chad’s Shrine at the Cathedral for “necessary uses.” Prebendary Arthur Dudley was one of the authorized commissioners for holding such Church goods as were seized by the Crown, but he apparently reverenced holy things, and gave the bones of St. Chad to some female relatives of his. The latter handed them to two brothers named Hodgetts, and eventually some of them have been deposited in the Roman Catholic Cathedral at Birmingham. The shrine disappeared, and as the relics had gone the Cathedral was spared such sacrilege as was witnessed elsewhere.



Meanwhile the harrying of the houses continued, and the feeling of uncertainty deepened. It became more and more evident that the whole monastic edifice was falling. The dissolution of the lesser monasteries and the sharing of their spoils had served the useful purpose of creating an appetite for more. On February 20th, 1538, Francis Lord Hastings wrote to Cromwell begging the Abbey of Burton, apologizing for not having written sooner, and explaining that he should have done so but that he had been suffering from measles.[163] On August 23rd, Cranmer wrote urging on Cromwell the suppression of Tutbury, and desiring that Commissions should be sent to Rocester and Croxden.[164] The three had paid large sums for their continuance only a year before, but Cranmer was interested in obtaining them, or one of them, for his servant, Francis Bassett. Again, on December 14th, he wrote begging for Croxden to be given to Bassett.[165]

Bishop Roland Lee had continued his pleading for the Priory at Stafford, and when time went by without seeming to bring him nearer obtaining it he began to suspect Legh of playing him false. The latter, however, assured him he was as interested as the Bishop himself in the matter, though he advised an application[161] direct to Cromwell. “I have spoken,” he wrote,[166] “to Mr. Strete for the suppression of St. Thomas’s, but I would your lordship should write to my Lord Privy Seal (Cromwell) for your own matter, and to thank him, for he told me he would move the King for you and your heirs to have St. Thomas’s, and no doubt the King will be content, and, indeed, it is all one. Remember to write to my lord to put away sinister suspicion, and be not light of credit against me: mistrust without cause is very unpleasant.” Thus encouraged, Lee returned to the charge, adding fresh inducements. He suggests that the longer the matter is delayed the less there will be to confiscate, “as the Prior makes unreasonable waste.” He asks that the Priory may be let to him “at an easy rent, that the poor boys, my nephews, may have some relief thereby”; and he begs that Cromwell will write to the surveyors that he may buy what things belonging to the house he desires.[167] The latter request he obtained. Again, on December 13th, he wrote to Cromwell on the same subject. He even ventured to apply direct to the King, both in person and by letter. There is a letter of his written to the King on December 26th, which says: “Where at my being with your Majesty, I moved the same for the late Priory of St. Thomas, I was minded to pay a certain sum as your Grace should determine. I am so much bound to your Majesty that I can crave no more; but, being charged with eight poor children of my sister’s, now fatherless and motherless, I am forced to show the truth.”[168]


Other petitions had flowed in, and gradually matters were arranged. Some houses were granted as they stood, sites, buildings, furniture and other contents, stores, animals, farm implements, etc., to a single recipient in return for a single money payment. No doubt influential petitioners like Bishop Roland Lee and Lord Derby (who obtained Dieulacres) met with less rivalry than more obscure suitors who made efforts for the smaller houses. There appears to have been keen competition for the little nunnery at Brewood.

When the houses and belongings were to be sold en bloc, Dr. Legh, with whom went William Cavendish as auditor, appears to have had the management, while Scudamore conducted the business where other arrangements had been made, and the contents of the houses were sold by public auction.

The religious houses found that their attempts to secure a further lease of life for themselves by authorized payments to the Royal Treasury, or by irregular bribes to Cromwell and his friends, had all failed. The large fines recently paid served to prolong the houses for a twelvemonth only, and as the autumn of 1538 drew on the news probably reached all the houses that they were doomed.

The harvest having been safely gathered in by the monks, in accordance with the royal injunctions, the royal agents began to close round them once more, and the last agony began.

John Scudamore was appointed “Receiver-General unto the King’s Majesty of the dissolved possessions” in Staffordshire and elsewhere. He received his authorization on August 23rd, 1538, from Sir Richard[163] Riche, the Solicitor-General and Chancellor of Augmentations. His instructions were to survey all the lands of surrendered houses and to make a return of their yearly value, with such pensions and corrodies, etc., as they might be burdened with. The bells and superfluous houses were to be sold, and the lead melted into “plokes” and sows and marked with the Royal mark, and delivered under indenture to the constables of neighbouring castles.[169] On September 27th, the goods of both houses at Stafford were sold, on October 4th the friary at Lichfield, on the 15th Scudamore was at Croxden, and next day at Rocester; on the 21st he was at Hulton. The details of all these sales are extant and are full of interest.

The sales were evidently conducted in a most wasteful way, as Robert Burgoyne, who acted as auditor at the sales at Stafford, testified. He told Scudamore, “I have sold in some ffrire houses all the buyldynges, the cause was for that they were so spoyled and torne by suche as sold the goodes, that in manner they were downe, and yff they shuld nott have ben sold, the kyng shuld have hadd nothyng theroff.”[170]

Although there had been loud discontent at the threatened dissolutions of the friaries at Stafford, the townspeople did not hesitate to profit by the sales any more than the country people did in the case of the monasteries. They knew that the end of the alms and easy rents had come, and it was only human nature to make the best of the sorry business. The town bought the stone wall of the Grey Friars and[164] a pair of candlesticks at Stafford; and the churchwardens a Corporas.[171] The “warden of the sayd [Grey] Fryers” bought two brass pots for eight shillings and six plates for 2s.; the under-bailiff and the late warden of the friars bought “iii leads, one to brue in, and ii to kele in, fates, iiii tubbes, a bulting hutche, and a knedyng troughe” for 14s. 7d. Friar Wood bought a vestment of blue fustian and one of white diaper for 6d., and the Prior of the Austin Friars bought a vestment of white bustion for 8d. The friars were determined to make the best of things. Robert Whytgreve bought books. The great purchaser was James Luson or Leveson, from Wolverhampton, who followed the sales. At the sale of the Grey Friars in Stafford he purchased “a table of alabaster standyng in the church” for 2s. 8d., and “all the churche and quyer, with all edyfyengs and buyldynges within the precinct of the Fryers Minours surrendryd, with all the stone, tymber, tyle, glasse, and iron in the same, ledd and belles only exceptyd, and also exceptyd and reservyd the stone wall next unto the towne of Stafford,” for £29 1s. 8d. At the Austin Friars he bought a vestment and two tunacles “of bawdekyn with images of our lady” for 18d., two copes, “greene and yelowe partye colouryd and rewyd,” for 22d., and, with Thomas Picto and Richard Warde, “all the tyle, shyngle, tymber, stone, glass, and iron, one marble gravestone, the pavementes of the church, quyer, and chapelles, with rode lofte, the pyctures of Cryst, Mary, and Johan, beyng in the church and chauncell of the Austen Fryers, besydes the[165] towne of Stafford, surrendryd with all other superfluos edyfyes and buyldynges within the precynct of the seyd Fryers, to be takyn down, defaycd, and caryed away by the seyd Loveson, Picto, and Ward, at there owne proper costes and charges,” for £28 8s. 4d. The two bells at the former house, one a Sanctus bell and one “by estimation Xcth,” were also placed in his custody. Sir Richard Riche wrote to Scudamore “to assingne and apoynct unto my ffrende James Lewson the five bellis remaynyng at the late monasterie of Wenlocke.”[172] Robert Dorynton was another dealer. At the Austin Friars at Stafford he purchased “a table in the inner hall with ii trestylles and iii formes,” and at the Grey Friars, Stafford, he bought a “gret basen” from the buttery, 3 altar cloths, the seats in St. Francis Chapel, books in library and vestry, a coffer in the former, four pennyworth of “old wexe,” and a lamp. Robert Wetwode, the Master of the Guild, bought “the table at the hyeghe deske” in the hall for 8d. The whole contents of the kitchen sold for 22s. 2d., of the church, 55s. 8d., of the brewhouse, 15s., and of the hall, 3s. 4d. The total sales of goods and buildings at the Grey Friars fetched £34 3s. 10d. The lead upon choir and chapel, 45 feet broad “of bothe sydes” by 43 feet long, was left in the custody of the town bailiffs. The contents of the Austin Friars fetched 79s., and Robert Burgoyne, the auditor, kept “one playne crosse of copper with a lytle image of Cryst sylver apon hyt,” estimated to be worth 3s. 4d., John Scudamore kept “one lytle woodden crosse,” which is noted as being “platyd over verry thyn with[166] sylver,” and as being worth only 12d. “Ther remaynyth in the steple one belle, by estimation Xcth in the custody of Thomas Picto, worth by estimation viiili., and a lytle bell worth 8s. The total sales of goods and buildings at the Austin Friars produced £32 6s. 4d.

The Grey Friars’ house at Lichfield was sold on October 4th. The “prisors jurati,” or sworn valuers, were Robert Ryve, William Colman, Marke Wyrley, and Thomas Fanne. Mr. Strete made a great purchase of “all the copes, vestments, and tynakles in gros for xls.,” also two candlesticks of latten, for 8d., the paving tiles in the cloisters for 40s., and of the choir for 13s. 4d. Thomas Fanne, above-mentioned, bought “the bryck wall at the churche ende” for 2s.; Marke Wyrley, “a fryer’s masse boke” for 4d., and William Colman “the glasse that ys lewse in the newe loggyng” for 3s. The Warden of the Guild bought a vestry press, “the cundyt of ledd in the cloyster,” “all the kechyn stuff,” and “ii. standert candelstyckes.” Mr. Lytleton bought “the cesterne of ledd standyng in the porche at the Tenys Court ende,” and “a lytle porche standyng by the dwellyng house.” The whole of the buildings were sold to a “ring” of eight purchasers for £42 13s. 4d., “except and reserved ledd, belles, pavement, and gravestones within all the seyd buyldynges, save only the pavement of the seyd churche, whyche ys parcell of the seyd bargayne ... and hath day to deface the steple, cloyster, and quyer forth [with], wyth the churche, onles they obteyne lycens otherwyse of the kyng, and hys councell, athyssyde the feast of the Purification of our Lady next commyng, and for all the residewe of the buyldynges[167] iii. yeres day to pull downe and carye awey, and to have egresse and regresse for the same.” These careful stipulations that the buildings should be defaced and destroyed show that the ruin of the monastic buildings is not to be attributed to the ravages of time alone, but also to wilful and deliberate vandalism.

Meanwhile Legh and Cavendish began to go on their circuit. They were at Tutbury in the middle of September. No record exists of the procedure or of the means Legh used; but his progress was an unqualified triumph and the surrenders of the monasteries one after another were formally received. The Deed of Surrender was signed at Tutbury on September 14th.[173] It bears the following signatures:[174]

p me Arthurum priorem de Tuttbury p me Thomam Norton p me Thomam Smith p me Thomam Shele p me Rob’tum Stafford p me Nycholas Broly p me Rogerum Hylton p me Thomam Renez p Richardum Arnold

From Tutbury they proceeded, along the road by the banks of the swift and winsome Dove, to Rocester. There the canons, who seem to have been living simple, harmless lives among neighbours who respected them, were speedily forced to sign the Deed of Surrender. It is dated September 16th, and the seal, except for a fracture at the base, is still in good condition. The signatures are as follows:[175]


The following witnesses signed:

Hurrying away up the secluded valley to the west, Legh came in an hour to the Abbey of Croxden. Its surrender was signed next day, and the seal is in good condition:[176]

The following signed as witnesses:


Archbishop Cranmer’s desire was thus accomplished, and the three Staffordshire houses of Tutbury, Rocester, and Croxden, owe their destruction directly to him.

Scudamore followed and held his public auctions. The sale at Croxden took place on October 15th. Mr. Bassett, who looked to have the place by Cranmer’s good offices, purchased the “lytle gatehouse on the north syde of the comyn wey,” the loft under the organ, “the lytle smythes forge,” and the roof of the dormitory. He paid for the latter only. The whole sale only produced £9 9s. 8d. The sale at Rocester next day was short and speedy, as nothing was sold save St. Michael’s Chapel. John Forman bought “the glasse and iron in the wyndowes” for 3s. 4d.; William Loghtonhouse the timber of the same chapel for 7s. 6d.; and William Bagnall “the shyngle” for 8d., the total proceeds being 11s. 6d. The parishioners obtained the three bells because they had been rung for their services as well as for those of the canons.[177] At Hulton, on October 21st, the only item was the unusual one of the bells. With the lead they were generally sent to London, but here the three were sold[170] to Stephen Bagott, gentleman, for £19 16s., “after the rate of xviiis. the hundredd.”

By this time the fate of St. Thomas’s Priory and of Dieulacres Abbey had been settled. Bishop Roland Lee’s desires were to be gratified, and the Earl of Derby was to have Dieulacres. Legh and Cavendish accordingly proceeded towards these houses. Their first business when they arrived at such houses as were to be disposed of according to arrangements already made, was to empanel the jury for the valuation. This is explained in the Account Book of Dr. Legh,[178] which gives exceedingly full details of everything such houses possessed at the time of their final suppression. Vestments and church furniture, domestic utensils, farm implements, animals and stores, all were made over alike to the purchasers, only such things as the more valuable church plate, lead, and bells, being usually held back. In spite of efforts at prevention it is obvious from the inventories that a good deal had disappeared recently. No doubt the religious themselves had made away with something, though this was a dangerous thing to attempt; and probably there had been a good deal of “picking and stealing,” regular and irregular, during recent months.

It is somewhat surprising to find that so many of the monks and nuns had remained after knowing that their fate was sealed. Some, of course, had nowhere else to go: some stayed doubtless through indifference: some waited for the promised pensions. All who remained were “rewarded” and most were given pensions.


The final arrangement at St. Thomas’s, Stafford, was made on October 18th, and at Dieulacres on October 21st, at the same time as Scudamore was holding his auctions at Rocester and Hulton. Legh’s inventories are given in full in the Appendix.[179]

On October 11th Dr. Legh received a letter from Sir Thomas Hennege[180] informing him that the house of Benedictine Nuns at Brewood was to be given by the King’s orders to Sir Thos. Gifford, a Gentleman Usher of the Chamber, who had been begging for it for over a year, and continuing, “At your now being there you shall put him in possession, and he may at leisure apply to the Chancellor of Augmentations for the lease.” Legh was on his way to Brewood at the time. When he arrived at the house he found himself in a difficulty. There was a rival claimant. He wisely referred the matter to Cromwell, enclosing Hennege’s letter and saying, “There was Mr. Littleton also who said the King was pleased he should have it, as he perceived by your lordship when he was last in London.” The cautious Legh did not care to run the risk of offending anyone, so he solved the difficulty in a characteristic way, as he explains: “Wherfore I and Mr. Candisshe have put them both in possession, and sold the stuff to them both till they may know the King’s pleasure.”[181] Legh’s inventory describes the sale as having been made to Sir Thomas Gifford. Gifford certainly obtained the place in the end.

The Black Nuns of Brewood surrendered on October[172] 16th.[182] None of them signed the document. The house was too poor to afford accommodation suitable for Dr. Legh, and he went on the same day to Lilleshall Abbey, which he gave to Cavendish, who had accompanied him as auditor, as he explains to Cromwell: “Now being at Lilleshall, I intend to put Mr. Candisshe in possession of the farm of the house who prays you that in his absence he be not in this behalf supplanted.”

Legh himself went on to Stafford next day. Bishop Roland Lee’s solicitations at last had their desired effect, and on October 17th the Priory of St. Thomas surrendered. The Deed bore the following signatures:[183]

There was at least one other canon, William Boudon, and when the affairs of the house were wound up next day he received no pension. No doubt this was his punishment for refusing to sign the Deed of Surrender. The whole was sold to Bishop Roland Lee.

From Stafford a long journey was made northwards as far as Leek. There stood the imposing Cistercian house of Dieulacres,[184] with its fine church, with a timbered roof and a screen bearing twelve candles, a glazed cloister with carrells, a dormitory and fratry, an infirmary, hall and buttery, larder and kitchen, and[173] outhouses of various kinds. Dr. Legh’s eyes must have glistened as they came in sight of the wealth of lead which covered the roofs, and which he subsequently computed to be worth no less a sum than the enormous amount of £720. There was also a fine peal of bells. Sheep and cattle, horses and pigs, were in the fields, stores of grain were in the granary, and abundance of hay was on the site. So large a house gave employment to a large number of servants. The monks numbered thirteen, under Thomas Whitney, the Abbot.

The King’s Commissioners did not know how their visit had been prepared for. The personnel at Dieulacres comprised a useful proportion of members of the Abbot’s family. Besides himself there were four other men of the name of Whitney—Humphrey, who was bailiff of the Cheshire Manors, John, who was Chamberlain, and two other lay members of the household. Under these circumstances it was not difficult to devise a scheme which should to some extent defeat the plan for wholesale confiscation. William Davenport, steward of the courts and collector of the rents in the Frith and elsewhere, who acted as Abbot Whitney’s secretary, prepared blank forms which were duly sealed with the Convent seal while it was still in the Abbot’s keeping. On these forms various leases were subsequently made out, when Legh and Cavendish were safely out of the way, one of which was the lease and reversion of the Manor of Poulton for a tenure of sixty-one years.

All this was carefully concealed from the Commissioners when they arrived. The seal having been used[174] for the last time on the Deed of Dissolution on October 20th,[185] was duly handed over, and it was not till Elizabeth had reigned for some years that John Whitney turned Queen’s evidence and divulged the whole story.[186]

There is no reason for supposing that John Whitney’s confession was untrue. It was by no means improbable in itself, and no doubt represented action which was often attempted. But there appears to have been considerable hesitation in believing it and in acting upon it. It was made in the seventh year of Elizabeth’s reign, and so long afterwards as fourteen years later one of the alleged ante-dated leases was cancelled by the Master of the Rolls and the Solicitor-General. There had evidently also been much selling of stock here as elsewhere. Legh only found sixty sheep, six oxen, three horses and thirteen pigs, all of inferior quality. These represented but a small proportion of the farm-stock which had formerly made Dieulacres rich and prosperous, and obviously would give but little occupation to the thirty men-servants who applied for “rewards.” Abbot Whitney had evidently played a bold though dangerous game, and it is impossible not to feel considerable satisfaction in the knowledge that it succeeded so well.


On October 21st the whole was sold to Edward, Earl of Derby.

As the agents went about their work, they lived well and spent large sums on their own entertainment. Even at Brewood they spent on themselves nearly as much as they gave in rewards to the Prioress and her nuns. At Stafford they spent £8 19s. 10d. on themselves, and at Dieulacres £10 17s. They looked to be well treated by all who desired their favour. Their path was strewn with bribes and gifts from prospective makers of easy bargains. Robert Burgoyne, who had acted as auditor at Stafford, sent Scudamore a buck: “good Mr. Giffard kylled yt for you yesterdaye.”[187] Another time he is told a hostess “hadd provyded a ffat swane for you.”[188] Master Bothe, the “grett bylder,” who hoped for a good bargain in regard to the Friary at Newcastle-under-Lyme, was careful to “show Bishop Ingworth many pleasures.” On August 13th Bishop Ingworth wrote to Cromwell asking “that yf before my cumyng ther be any order taken for Newecastell Underlyne, that ye wolde be good lorde to on master Johan Bothe, a servant of the kynges graces, the whyche ys a grett bylder in theys partes, that he myghte for money have the slate and schyngyll ther; for ther ys no other to be don with the more parte of that howse, but save the lede and the slate, and take the profete of the grownde. That master Bothe for yower sake scheuyd me many plesures, and gave me venyson; wherefor I may no lesse do but wryght to yower lordeschype.”[189] Fault was found with William[176] Cavendish, who had accompanied Legh to Brewood, for having given higher “rewards and wages” than he had divulged. These were probably intended as bribes, for while riding back from Merivale in Warwickshire they learnt that the Abbot had not sold some plate as he said he had done. They accordingly despatched a messenger back to fetch it, and the Abbot sent it by way of bribe to them “to be good masters unto him and his brethren.” Both Cavendish and Legh confessed that the whole story was true.[190]

In 1541 the sum of £3 10s. was paid by warrant of the council to sundry witnesses, including some of the servants of the late Priory of St. Thomas’s, Stafford, for “coming up to the Court of Augmentations to give evidence for the King against William Cavendish.”[191]

Archbishop Cranmer maintained his paltry petitions for his friends right through the whole period. As long ago as 1535 he had begged for the Priory of Worcester to be given to one of the monks of Burton.[192] On December 14th, 1538, he wrote to Cromwell to accomplish his suit for his servant the bearer, Francis Bassett, who had carried the image of St. Modwen up to London, for the Monastery of Croxden.[193] Among Cromwell’s notes there is “A remembrance to speak to the King for Francis Bassett, servant to my lord of Canterbury”: “The ferme of Musden Grawnge, appertaining to the Abbey of Crocksden, within the county of Stafford, being of the yearly value of 20 marks by the year.”[194]


After Burton Abbey was dissolved it was made into a collegiate church, with Abbot Edie as Dean; he was soon succeeded by Dr. Brocke. The Patent is dated July 27th, 1540. The Chapels of Shene, Cauldon, and Okeover, were allotted to the new foundation, and the possessions of the late Abbey were to be held of the Crown by a yearly rent of £62 2s. 4d., in lieu of first-fruits and tenths, and burdened with various pensions, stipends, and fees. A pretence was made that one of the objects of the transformation was that some of the wealth should go towards poor-relief and repair of roads. Some of the monks remained as Canons or Prebendaries; there was a Gospeller and an Epistoller, with five singing men, six choristers, two deacons, a parish priest, a schoolmaster, and four bedesmen. Among the “common servants” were a barber, parish clerk, bridgemaster, laundress, “turnbroche” or turnspit and apparitor. Robert Bradshawe, gent., was Porter of the Gate, and Nicholas Burwey, gent., was under-steward and clerk of the courts. It does not appear how much of the contents of the Abbey—vestments, plate, etc.—was removed when the change was made in its constitution, but a considerable amount remained at the final dissolution, which took place in 1545, when the place was given to Sir William Paget. Scudamore again did most of the work, associated now with Richard Goodrich. They rode in comfort and by easy stages from London to Burton, living sumptuously and extravagantly, and spent four days at Burton in the performance of their task. Again the best of the goods were not sold but carried up to London, wrapped[178] in ten yards of canvas and borne on a horse specially hired for the purpose at a cost of £1 6s. 8d.[195]

From the inventories and surrenders, supplementing Valor Ecclesiasticus, we are able to form some idea as to the mode of living in the monasteries, and the standard of comfort which was reached. Doubtless the obligation to perform manual work had in most cases been forgotten, otherwise the large number of servants and labourers cannot well be accounted for. At Dieulacres[196] there were thirteen monks, six stewards and bailiffs (excluding “my lord of Derby,” whose office was a sinecure), a forester, and eleven others who had to be pensioned, besides thirty servants and “the launders and pore bedewomen.” The last-named probably did the Abbey washing. The “household” is a large one in comparison with the number of monks, even when we take into account the sheep-runs of the Abbey. Still more excessive is the staff of twenty-nine servants at Stafford for the seven canons; for the Priory of St. Thomas, though it had scattered possessions, employed in 1535 nine or ten stewards and bailiffs. Their baker was a person of sufficient importance to receive a pension of 10s. a year. The four nuns at Brewood had eight servants, although their house and income were alike small. They must have had an idle time, and when they were ejected with small pensions of £3 6s. 8d. to the Prioress, and half that amount to each of the three nuns, the change in their style of living must have been very marked and painful.


Payments to lay officials, such as stewards, bailiffs, rent-collectors, and auditors, appear in Valor Ecclesiasticus as follows: Brewood Nunnery (4), nil; Burton-on-Trent, £28; Croxden (13), £7; Dieulacres (13), £5 6s. 8d.; Dudley, £2 6s. 8d.; Hulton, £6; Rocester (9), £2 13s. 4d.; Ronton, £4 6s. 8d.; St. Thomas’s (7), £11 13s. 4d.; Stone, £3 6s. 8d.; Trentham, £5; Tutbury (9), £18 13s. 4d.: Total, £94 6s. 8d. The figures in brackets show the number of religious, where these can be ascertained. At Dudley and Trentham these must have been very few, yet at the latter the expenditure on administration was £5. Tutbury also spent large sums on management. On the other hand, Rocester, with nine canons and two stewards, and a small expenditure on management, appears in a favourable light. The canons at Rocester were on good terms with their neighbours, and the house was almost unique among the smaller houses in Staffordshire in the matter of charity. The general impression of the canons of Rocester is that they were living quiet, simple lives, working hard themselves, and held in respect.

The Nunnery at Brewood[197] possessed a hall, parlour, kitchen, buttery, and larder, with a large bedroom (in which they all slept on two bedsteads) and a bailiff’s chamber. Of outhouses there were brewhouse and cooling house, bolting house for kneading bread, cheeseloft, and a “kylhouse,” all of which were more or less adequately furnished. There were hangings of painted cloth in the parlour. In the hall there were two tables but only one form. The nuns’ bedroom[180] contained a feather bed and one tester of white linen cloth, two coverlets and a blanket described as old, one bolster, two pillows and four pairs of sheets. The bailiff slept on a mattress on the floor, with a coverlet and blanket. His axe remained in his bedroom when the house was sold. A table-cloth and two latten candlesticks, a bushel and a half of salt, four pewter porringers, four platters, and two saucers, which are mentioned, also throw light on the standard of living. Of grain they had a quarter of wheat (6s. 2d.), a quarter of “munke-corne” (8s.), a quarter of oats (1s. 8d.), and a quarter of peas (2s. 8d.). The bread they made was of good quality: rye is not even mentioned. Their one horse was sold for 4s., the wain and dung-cart for 16d. They had ten loads of hay (15s.).

With this we may compare the abbey and out-buildings at Dieulacres.[198] In the cloister was a lavatory. No beds or bedding are mentioned in the dorter or dormitory, which the monks had forsaken for more comfortable quarters in smaller bedrooms, of which there were several. The corner chamber was luxuriously provided with a mattress, feather bed, bolster, and two pillows, a blanket and coverlet, a tester of “dorney,” a hanging of sey (silk), etc. In the inner chamber also was a mattress. In the ryder’s chamber were two bedsteads, a hanging of painted cloth, etc. In the butler’s chamber were a mattress and feather bed and four coverlets, a bolster and two pillows. In the buttery were five napkins, three pewter salts, eight hogsheads, six candlesticks, etc.; in the larder, a salting vat; in the kitchen, five great brass pots, four[181] small pans, a cauldron, three spits, a frying pan, a gridiron, thirty-eight plates, dishes, and saucers, a grater, two chafing dishes, a brass “skimmer,” etc. There was a brewhouse, bolting-house and labourers’ chamber (with two mattresses and two coverlets).

Their live stock consisted of six oxen (sold for £4 5s.), sixty ewes and lambs (£3 6s. 8d.), three horses (£1), and twelve swine (13s. 4d.). Of grain they had 159 bushels of oats (£11 19s.), and rye worth £1 1s., with twenty-nine loads of hay which sold for £3.

At St. Thomas’s, Stafford,[199] the seven religious and twenty-nine “servants” had stores as follows:

Wheat. Rye and Munke-corn. Barley. Peas. Hay.
Arberton Grange 3 qrs. 11 qrs. 40 qrs. 10 qrs. 20 loads
Berkswick Grange 12 „  4 „ 
St. Thomas’s Priory 12 „ 

There were also the following farm implements and horses:

Waggons. Harrows. Ploughs. Cart. Cart Horses. Mares.
Arberton Grange 2 2 1 3 2
Berkswick Grange 2 2 2

Some of the waggons were “ironbound” and some “unbound,” and all, with the ploughs and harrows, and the cart, appear to have been complete “with yokes and teams to them belonging.”

The live stock was as follows:

Oxen. Cows. Calves. Wethers. Ewes. Lambs. Swine. Winter Beasts.
Arberton Grange 12 9 8 60 70 6 6
Berkswick Grange 12 80 9

In the house the dormitory had “cells” or cubicles, but the absence of beds and bedding there indicates[182] that more comfortable quarters were occupied. The court had a conduit for the supply of water. The Prior’s parlour was hung with linen, and had a folding or trestle table, two forms and four chairs. There were six bedrooms furnished as follows: the water chamber had bedsteads with painted hangings, two feather beds, two bolsters, two pillows and four coverlets. The great chamber had a bedstead with a feather bed, a coverlet, two fustian blankets and a bolster. The two “inner chambers” had a bedstead each, furnished with a bolster apiece and four old coverlets between them. The chamber over the chapel had a bedstead with feather bed, coverlet, a pair of blankets and sheets, and a cupboard, form, chair and hangings of linen cloth. The carter’s chamber had a bedstead with a mattress, a pair of sheets and three old coverlets.

In the buttery were napkins and cloths, a washing towel, tubs, two pewter salts, two costrells or wine jugs; in the kitchen, four brass pots, a broche or spit, two brass pans, a brass mortar, two cupboards, a mustard quern, a kemnell or tub, a skimmer, a flesh hook and two pairs of pothooks, seven platters, a voider or basket for clearing away the relics of meals, three dishes, four saucers, four porringers, etc. The brewhouse and bakehouse was well furnished with leads, vats, pans, etc., and attached to it was a bedroom, which Richard Torner doubtless occupied, and which was well supplied with bed and bedding. St. Thomas’s Priory was well and comfortably furnished, and the standard of comfort there was considerably higher than at either of the other smaller Staffordshire houses of which we have details.


In the houses of the friars[200] there were few signs of anything approaching domestic comfort. The kitchens had various necessary utensils, more, apparently, than the communities would require for their own cooking, and pointing probably to considerable dispensation of charity and poor relief. There was a considerable amount of church furniture—vestments, candlesticks, etc.,—but practically nothing at all in the way of bedding or linen.

The records by no means show that the religious, either monks, nuns, or friars, were living a life more luxurious than the generality of people. If we are to take the prices at which their live stock was sold it must have been of inferior breed. The sales being “compulsory” tended to lower the prices realized, but the monks had, in all probability, sold as much as they could and dared as the imminence of dissolution became more threatening, and of course their better animals would find the readiest sale. As regards the furniture of the houses, the inventories of the sales may well be compared with other contemporary lists of a similar nature, such as the “Inventory of the Goods and Catales of Richd. Master, Clerk, Parson of Aldington” [Kent], in 1534, which is given by Froude.[201] If Dieulacres really had only sixty sheep in the sixteenth century it had sadly declined from its earlier wealth in that branch of industry, and there was little occupation for the servants. But, probably, as we have said, the number represents the remainder which had not been sold. All sales so made were by law ipso facto[184] void if they became known, so that no extraordinary number could have been parted with. The inference therefore is that their sheep-farming had declined, and the monks of Dieulacres, at any rate, had not taken the part in the conversion of arable into pasture of which the monasteries have often been accused. Ronton Priory had enclosed all its demesne, but there is no evidence that it was for the purpose of forming large sheep-runs—it may have been merely in order to facilitate “convertible husbandry”—a very different matter.

As we have already pointed out, none of the graver charges which were alleged against many of the religious at the time of the Dissolution, and have been so generally magnified since, were even hinted at in connection with Staffordshire. On the other hand, there are many signs that they were respected by their neighbours. Indeed the only definite fault which could be found with them was an occasional charge of insolvency, and even that is sometimes so vague as to be practically worthless. Bishop Ingworth enlarged upon the bankrupt condition of the friars. The house at Lichfield was “more in debt than all the stuff that belongs to it will pay, by twenty nobles.” The house at Newcastle-under-Lyme, he says, had mortgaged all its substances and was bankrupt, with its buildings in a ruinous condition. The Grey Friars at Stafford owed £4. Dieulacres was £171 10s. 5d. in debt, and St. Thomas’s Priory, Stafford, £235 19s. 7d.

Fortunately we have details of some of these debts, so that it is possible to see how they had been incurred. The Lichfield friars owed thirty shillings which had[185] been raised on loan for building purposes, and twenty shillings to the Bishop for five years’ rent; the rest of the debt was for malt and rye. At Dieulacres and St. Thomas’s Priory[202] the items of indebtedness appear to be usually fees to various officials, such as the Bishop, the Dean and Chapter, and the Archdeacon, wages to stewards and bailiffs, stipends to vicars, and tradesmen’s small bills. Among them there is only one other instance of borrowing, besides that already mentioned at Lichfield, though St. Thomas’s Priory had raised £43 by mortgaging some of its plate, including a silver censer and a cross of silver plate.

The total amount of indebtedness, as well as the nature of the debts, hardly bears out the charge of general insolvency which has been brought against the religious houses.

No doubt their days of undimmed prosperity had passed. Economic changes had pressed hard on all landlords, and recent religious movements had seriously affected all forms of charity. The friars in particular must have felt the effects of the latter, and their buildings had evidently fallen steadily into disrepair. Yet even they can hardly be said with justice to have been hopelessly insolvent. They had assets of considerable value:[203] those which were sold at Stafford amounted to £32 6s. 4d. at the Austin Friars (besides 13 oz. of plate and bells worth £8 8s.), and £34 3s. 10d. at the Grey Friars (besides 16 oz. of plate, £45 worth of lead, and bells worth £10. The sale of the effects at the Grey Friars’ house at Lichfield produced £68 15s.[186] The small debt of the Grey Friars at Stafford was discharged by the sale of timber and growing corn.

The indebtedness of the “monasteries” is in all probability to be accounted for, to no small extent, by the very large sums which most of them had been recently called upon to pay under the pretence that they were to be allowed to continue. The amount seems to have been roughly calculated at a year’s net income, as will be seen from the following table. The first column of figures gives the net income of the house as returned in Valor Ecclesiasticus (1535), and the second the fine paid for being allowed to continue (1536–7).

Net Income. Fine.
£ s. d. £ s. d.
Croxden Abbey 90 5 11 100 0 0
Hulton Abbey 76 14 0 66 13 4
Rocester Priory 100 2 10½ 100 0 0
St. Thomas’s, Stafford 141 13 133 6 8

To enable themselves to pay such very large sums in ready money the monks would have to leave many small creditors unpaid for a time. The fact that they were able to do this is of itself sufficient to show that in the popular estimation they were considered thoroughly solvent. They had abundance of assets, as is shown by the amounts raised at the sales of the furniture, etc., at the Suppression. Dieulacres (which had not been called upon to pay a fine for continuance), proved to have lead alone worth £720, besides 117 oz. of plate, and bells worth £37 10s. The actual goods sold produced £63 14s. 10d., and would have doubtless realized a much higher sum if they had been disposed of under other conditions. Besides, the net income of[187] the Abbey was returned in Valor Ecclesiasticus as £227 5s., so that a debt of £171 10s. 5d. cannot be considered, under the circumstances, entirely unreasonable.

The financial condition of St. Thomas’s Priory, the other house which we are told was heavily in debt, was rather worse than that of Dieulacres, but it had recently paid the heavy fine of £133 6s. 8d. It owed £235 19s. 7d., in addition to the mortgage of £43 6s. 8d., which was covered by the plate mentioned. Yet even this large sum is not much more than half as much again as a year’s net income; and if, as we have surmised, it had been partially incurred by the payment of the Fine for Continuance, it was considerably less. At the sale of the effects of the Priory, £87 9s. 6d. was realized, besides £40 worth of lead, bells worth £54, plate, etc. Here, again, we cannot fairly say that the position was one of hopeless bankruptcy.

The allegation of insolvency against the houses appears, therefore, to have little basis in fact. The monks had felt the adverse effects of recent tendencies, both economic and religious, and their finances had quite recently been subjected to a severe and exceptional strain. But in spite of this they appear to have been in a fairly sound financial position. Their normal debts represent only the casual credit of ordinary life. Their alleged insolvency was merely temporary and mainly fictitious. In the ordinary course of events it would have been discharged in due course.



We do not propose to enter into a discussion of the principles which were involved in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, or of the religious and moral loss and gain which ensued. It would be superfluous and profitless. We may, however, attempt to form an idea of the way those who were responsible for the suppression solved the various practical questions which had to be faced in bringing the religious houses to an end, and to estimate the degree of success which attended their efforts. Of course we shall consider only the immediate results: the broader and ultimate religious, constitutional, and economic effects are the province of the historian of the epoch and the nation, not of the student of a brief episode in the history of a single locality.

There were many material interests to be considered, for it must not be forgotten that the monks and nuns, friars and canons, were not the only people affected by the changes we have been considering. The King, the clergy, the tenants, the lay people employed, maintained, and assisted at the monasteries, all had interests more or less important.

We may note at the outset that the necessity for taking into consideration the material interests involved was fully recognised. According to the instructions[189] issued to the suppression officials who dealt with the lesser monasteries, the Superior of each house was to be provided for, but no one else. Accordingly at Trentham we find no record of pensions to any others except the Prior. The rest were to be given the option of receiving “capacities” or of being transferred to other houses. This was following the precedent of earlier dissolutions, and it will be remembered that Dr. David Pole, of Calwich, was ordered to be “translated to some good house of his religion near.”[204] While the work of destruction was yet on a small scale, and its ultimate extension unsuspected, it may have appeared less necessary to conciliate public opinion, by removing occasion for complaints of material and pecuniary loss, than appeared later. As it became evident that the destruction of the monasteries was to become wholesale, and that great numbers of people, not only religious but lay folk, must be affected, it may well have seemed politic and wise to take pains to assure everyone that vested interests would be respected.

Accordingly a different policy was pursued in the later dissolutions. All the religious received payments and most received pensions.

At the suppression of Brewood,[205] Prioress Isabel Launder received a reward of £2 and a pension of £3 6s. 8d.; each of the nuns a reward of £1 and a pension of £1 13s. 4d. At Stafford[206] the payments were as follows:


£ s. d. £ s. d.
Richard Whytell, “late Prior” 6 0 0 reward, 26 13 4 pension
Richard Harvey, Sub-Prior 2 0 0 6 0 0
Sir Christopher Simson 2 0 0 6 0 0
Sir Thomas Bageley 2 0 0 5 6 8
Sir William Pykstok 2 0 0 5 6 8
Sir William Stapulton 2 0 0 5 0 0
Sir William Boudon 1 0 0

No explanation is given as to why William Boudon received a smaller “reward” than the rest, and was awarded no pension; but, as we have already noticed, he had not signed the Deed of Surrender on the previous day and perhaps he had to be punished for his recalcitrancy.

At Dieulacres[207] the arrangements were of a similar nature:

£ s. d. £ s. d.
Thomas Whitney, Abbot 6 0 0 reward, 60 0 0 pension
Robert Bageley, Prior 2 10 0 60 0 0
Henry Bennett 2 10 0 6 0 0
George Ferny 2 10 0
Brother Rauffe Motesset 2 0 0 5 6 8
Randall Barnes 2 0 0 5 6 8
Brother William Crosse 2 0 0 5 6 8
Brother Robert Cherinton 2 0 0 5 6 8
Brother Edmond Bolton 2 0 0 5 0 0
Brother William Prowdluffe 2 0 0 5 0 0
Thomas Loke 2 0 0 2 0 0
Brother Richard Gordon 2 0 0 2 0 0
John Bykerton 2 0 0 2 0 0

To George Ferny no pension was allotted. Pensions to “late monks” of Croxden, Rocester, Tutbury, and Burton are mentioned in subsequent records. In 1553 the payments to late monks of Tutbury appear as follows: Prior Thomas Meverell, £50; Thomas[191] Moreton, alias Sutton, £7; Richard Arnold, £6 13s. 4d.; Thomas Raynard, £6; Robert Stafford, £6; Roger Hilton, £6.

In the pension lists of 2–3 Philip and Mary, Robert Moore, who had been one of the prebendaries of the collegiate church of Burton-on-Trent, appears in receipt of £6; John Carter, a “late canon,” £6; William Sutton, “minor canon,” £6; and William Hether, epistoller, £5; with Thomas Smith, incumbent of a chantry, £1 5s. 9d.

Monks of Burton who were in receipt of pensions in 1540 were as follows: John Pole, Robert Robynson, Robert Heithcott, William Fyssher, John Goodcole, William Symon, and Humphrey Cotton. Of these the following appear in the list of Mary’s reign above-mentioned: William Fyssher, £6; William Symonds, £5; and Humphrey Cotton, 40s. The following also had pensions then: Robert Brocke, alias Brooke (who succeeded Abbot Edie as Dean), £66 13s. 4d.; John Rudde, £15; Roger Bulle (? Ball) and John Jermy, alias Heron, £6 13s. 4d. There are “annuities” also to twenty-five others, two of £5, one of £4, one of £3 6s. 8d., two of 53s. 4d., one of 50s., and three of 40s., and so on to 20s., but none of the names are the same as appear in Valor Ecclesiasticus, though John Moseley (20s.) may be the son of Richard Mosley, bailiff of Findern and Stapenhill, who received 13s. 4d. in 1535.

Ecclesiastics who proved compliant were often well rewarded, as we have seen in the case of David Pole of Calwich. The Abbot of Burton became the dean of the collegiate church which took the place of the Abbey for a few years. At the suppression of Forde Abbey[192] the Abbot, who had been the royal “Reformator and Inquisitor” of Croxden and many other Cistercian houses, received “fourtie wayne lodes of fyre wood to be taken yerely during his lyfe owte of suche woods being no parte of demaynes of the said late howse as the officers of the Kings courte of the augmentacions or there deputies for the tyme there shall appoynte and assigne ... lxxxli.[208]

It would be deeply interesting if we could trace the after history of the rank and file of the ejected monks, nuns, and friars. Unfortunately, the materials are of the scantiest.

If the history of the dissolution of the religious houses in France in our own days in any way reproduces that of the dissolution in England in the sixteenth century, many of the religious were obliged to take up secular employment. Did the friars of Stafford[209] make their purchases with the object of carrying on business? Besides “ii brasse pottes” in the kitchen, they bought out of their brewhouse “iii leads”—i.e., pans, “one to brue [brew] in,” and “ii to kele [cool] in” (i.e., “coolers”); besides “fates” (which Cowell’s Interpreter explains as the vessels, each containing a quarter, used to measure malt), a “bultyng hutch” or sifting tub, and “a knedyng troughe.” The prospect for the nuns must have been terrible.[210] They received very small pensions. They were turned adrift in a world whose moral sense had been shaken by the[193] accusations lately brought against the inmates of the religious houses, and among people whose betters were described by Legh[211] as living “so incontinently having their concubines openly in their houses, with five or six of their children, putting from them their wyfes, that all the contrey therewith be not a littill offendyd, and takithe evyll example of theym.” The last Abbot of Rocester appears to have continued to live near his destroyed house, if the entry in the earliest volume of the Rocester parish registers—“1576, Aug. 14, Willm. Grafton, prs.... sep.”—records his burial. The last Prior of Trentham was Thomas Bradwall, and a “Thos. Bradwall, s. of John B.,” was buried at Trentham on March 13th, 1567.

Thomas Whitney, the last Abbot of Dieulacres, continued to live in the town of Leek, in Milne Street. In 1541 he was one of the witnesses to the Crown sale of Swythamley, etc., to William Traford of Wilmslow.[212] He made his will in 1558[213] and in it expressed a desire to be buried in Westminster Abbey.

Ample provision was also made for the lay officials: the laity, at all events, were to have no grievances. Of course the chief stewards took care to be compensated. The chief steward of Burton Abbey was George, Earl of Huntingdon, and his annual fee was £6 13s. 4d.; in Mary’s reign his successor, Francis, was in receipt of £3 6s. 8d. At the dissolution of Dieulacres “my lord of Darby, Stuard of the Seid monastery,” whose fee[194] had not been allowed by the Commissioners of Valor Ecclesiasticus, received a pension of £2. William Davenport lost £1 6s. 8d. and received £4;[214] John Cordon, 13s. 4d. and £1; Humfry Whitney, £2 and £3 6s. 8d. Besides these, two other bailiffs, a forester and two stewards, and eleven other men, received “fees and annuities.”

At Stafford Lord Ferrers, the High Steward, was pensioned (40s.) with thirteen other lay officials, including Richard Torner, baker. Rewards were given to twenty-nine “servants,” of whom seven were also pensioned. There were four “plough-drivers” who received 1s. 8d. each, and six women. John Coke, the bailiff of Dudley, held his office by an appointment for life, and at the Dissolution the terms of the agreement were carefully respected, for the grant of the priory and its possessions to Sir John Dudley in March, 1541, was expressly charged with the annual payment of John Coke’s fee of £2. In 1541 there are records of the half-yearly payments (on April 20th and October 4th) to Nicholas Whitney, of Dieulacres, and his wife Mary. The payment appears again in 1542.

The lesser “servants,” labourers, “launders and pore bedewomen,” and the like, were paid off with lump sums, and no further responsibility in their case remained.

Of course many of the bailiffs and stewards continued in their old posts under the new owners. The Dissolution was the reverse of a loss to them. But they had to find sureties and guarantees for their honesty. For[195] instance, Humphrey Whitney, of Middlewich, bailiff of “Wycch,” is noted in 1541 as finding sureties to the amount of £120; Roland Heth, of Tutbury, bailiff of Wetton, etc., 100 marks, and of Elkeston, 40 marks; Geoffrey Legh, of Berreston, Salop, bailiff of Great Gate, £120; and William Davenport, bailiff of Abbots Frith, etc., £200. An interesting entry of the same date shows Sampson Erdeswick, of Sandon, becoming sureties for Robert Harcourt, bailiff of lands which had belonged to Ronton Abbey, for 200 marks.[215]

Even if it were intended that the pensions and annuities should be loyally paid the charge was a wise one to incur. It saved appearances by appearing to respect “vested interests”; it effectually prevented agitation against the Government by any who desired to retain their pensions; and it was a charge which would steadily decrease and eventually disappear in the ordinary course of nature.

But it is to be feared that the pensioners were by no means loyally treated as time went on. In a few months a tenth part of all pensions was deducted as a royal subsidy, and two years later a fourth. John Scudamore had the collection of the former sum, and in his “Declaration of Receipts”[216] payments are found from the following: Brewood—Isabel Launder and her three nuns; Croxden—John Orpe and ten others; Dieulacres—Thomas Whitney and others; Hulton—Edward Wilkyns and eight others; Rocester—William Grafton and others; Ronton—Thomas Allen and the curate of Elynhall; Stone—“two curates of[196] Stone”; Trentham—Thomas Bradwall; Tutbury—Roger Hilton and six others. Unfortunately the leaf is mutilated so that the other names in the case of Dieulacres and Rocester are missing.

Moreover, there was unseemly delay in paying the pensions. Receipts dated May, 1541, appear for half-year’s pensions due the previous Lady-Day[217] signed by the following monks of Croxden: Robert Clerke (£10 13s. 4d.), Robert Cade, John Orpe, William Beche, John Thornton, and Richard Meyre. Poor Thomas Whitney, the late Abbot of Dieulacres, had great difficulty in obtaining his pension regularly, and became involved in debt in consequence. We find him writing as follows to Scudamore in December, 1540:[218]

“Upon the letter to my brother to appear before Mr. Auditor and you at Burton-upon-Trent the 13th of this December I prepared to come thither. Coming to Leke on Saturday night I heard you were departed towards Lichfield and Worcestershire, and considering the danger by evil weather and floods I thought best to send my brother after you and spare myself; and I trust you will be good to me for my pension due at Michaelmas last. I had to borrow £8 of my said brother: I beg you to repay him and deliver the rest to my servant, Richard Day. Also I beg you to send by Richard Day the pensions of my poor brethren that are not able to come for them, and let me have letters to the bailiffs to pay my pension regularly.”

Any personal debts which could be fastened on the monks were looked after with relentless persistence: so late as 1542 we find the last Abbot of Hulton being harassed about arrears he still owed.

On the other hand, the debts owing from the monastic estates were slow in finding payment. Dieulacres owed Elizabeth Alenn £22 at its dissolution,[197] and in 1541 and 1542 instalments were still being paid. Such a mode of payment was disastrously slow and unsatisfactory. Henry Hargreaves, of Luddington, to whom Dieulacres owed £29 0s. 4d., and who came first on the list of creditors drawn up by Legh and Cavendish, apparently died without receiving his money, and at the end of 1541 Laurence Hargreaves was glad to compound the old debt for the sum of £20. In the same month Peter Bonye accepted £14 6s. 8d. in discharge of the £20 which was still owing to him from Tutbury Priory. We can well understand that every obstacle would be put in the way of the proving of claims. Richard Corveysor had a patent for £1 6s. 8d. a year granted to him by the Abbot of Dieulacres before the Dissolution, but he did not manage to get it allowed till 1542.[219]

Indeed a keen eye to business was possessed by all the officials concerned, and every care was exercised to make as much as possible out of the monastic property. Just as old debts were often compounded by the acceptance of smaller sums, no doubt in despair caused by long delay, so payments for work done on the estates were often made at less than their proper amount. John Pratye had a lease for two years of Heath Mill (apparently formerly the property of Trentham Priory) and, in 1538, he sent in an account for repairs done, showing payments to various workmen, who are named, amounting to £16 7s. 8d. The bailiff was Robert Whyttworth, and although he passed the account and signed it as correct, John Pratye is found offering to take £10 down in discharge of it. The[198] document affords an interesting illustration of the way the monastic estates were managed when they passed into the hands of the Crown.[220]

There being such difficulty in obtaining the payment of money legally due within anything like reasonable time, it is not surprising to find that speculators arose and did a brisk business. The abuse became so marked that in Edward VI’s reign Parliament had to pass an Act (2–3 Edward VI, Cap. VII) “against the craftie and deceitful buying of Pensions from the late Monasteries,” but without much success in providing a remedy.

Of course the Dissolution entailed a very large material loss to the Church. The gross total income of the monasteries in Staffordshire, as given in Valor Ecclesiasticus, was £1,874 0s. 1½d.—an estimate, as we have seen, which was probably below the mark. If it be said that the monks took but little share in the spiritual life of the people and did but little practical work for the Church, we may at least take into consideration the amount they received from tithes, glebe, and voluntary offerings from parishes. They received, as we have seen, £543 6s. 5d. from this source and paid out £19 7s. 10d. Of the former sum practically nothing reverted to its original use, so that, even if the latter continued to be paid, the Church, though it might be no worse off in the matter of tithes than it was before, was at any rate no better. The benefices decreased in value. Ellaston was valued by Strete before the suppression of Calwich at £13 6s. 8d.;[221][199] in Valor Ecclesiasticus it stands at £4 9s. 2d.[222] The Bishop of the Diocese lost £94 6s. 8d. in fees and the Archdeacons £10 13s. 4d. The fees paid to the King amounted to £10 9s. 7d., and would, of course, continue under the new owners.

The total amount of wealth brought to the Royal Treasury is quite incalculable. Besides the whole annual income of the monasteries, there was the value of the contents of the houses, plate, furniture, stores, grain, cattle, etc. The former was enormous, but the latter was no despicable figure. We have figures of some of the sales at the Dissolution:

Goods Sold Plate Lead Bells
£ s. d.
Brewood Nunnery 7 6 1
St. Thomas’s Priory 87 9 6 28½oz. £40 £54
Dieulacres Abbey 63 14 10 117oz. £720 £37 10s.
Newcastle--Black Friars 14oz. choir &
Stafford--Austin Friars 32 6 4 13oz. £8 8s.
  „  Grey Friars 34 3 10 16oz. £45 £10
Lichfield--Grey Friars 68 15 0
Croxden Abbey 9 9 8
Rocester Abbey 11 6
Hulton Abbey £19 16s.
Total (of figures shown) 304 6 9 448½ oz. £805 £129 14s.

Besides the above figures we know of much lead at other places. In 1555 Scudamore was being sued for arrears from the sales of lead from Croxden, Rocester, Dieulacres, Tutbury, St. Thomas’s, and Dudley, amounting to close on £500, so that the figure shown in the above table evidently represents but a small proportion of the total amount received from this[200] source alone. Of course there were considerable deductions for rewards and expenses, but the amount of wealth brought immediately into the Royal Treasury was very large. And a very short time earlier £400 at least had been paid by Staffordshire houses for being allowed to continue.

It is noticeable that nothing is said about the monastic libraries. As a rule, books are almost unmentioned in any of the documents of the Suppression, so that we might suppose the houses were destitute of literature. But the scanty survivals are sufficient to show that the reverse was the fact.

The Annals of Burton are in the British Museum,[223] and so is the Chronicle of Croxden. Various other books from the monastic libraries of Staffordshire have also drifted thither, one of which, a copy of St. Augustine from Burton Abbey, has on the fly-leaf a list of the books in the Library in the thirteenth century.[224] It shows that there were then over sixty volumes, many of which contained several works. These are Commentaries on various books of the Bible, most of the works of the Fathers, sundry books of Sermons and Homilies, Lives of various saints, and several editions of Bede’s History, one of which is in English. There were also copies of the Gospels and of the Psalms in English, an English Hymnary, and an English Homily book. Abbot Geoffrey, the sixth Abbot of Burton, wrote the life and miracles of St. Modwen in a quarto of 167 folios in double columns,[225] and the first Abbot[201] of Croxden himself copied out the greater part of the Bible. A later Abbot of Croxden, in the thirteenth century, bought for the Library an annotated Bible in nine volumes for fifty marks. Abbot William de Over, who was elected in 1297, much enriched the Library. It is evident there were books in considerable numbers in the monasteries, yet they are unmentioned in the records of the dissolution. Very occasionally we find “old books” sold for trivial sums, and one or two Missals are mentioned. At Stafford Robert Dorrington bought two “lots” of “old bokes,” those in the Library at the Grey Friars (with a coffer) for two shillings, and those in the vestry for eightpence; the “old bokes in the quyer” at the Austin Friars sold for sixpence. At Stafford two Missals sold for eightpence and twelvepence each, and at Lichfield one fetched fourpence.

The books and documents that were important as title-deeds were of course looked after. The original Chartulary of Burton Abbey is still in the possession of the Marquis of Anglesey, and that of Dieulacres is possessed by the Earl of Macclesfield. The Chartularies of Stone and Ronton are in the British Museum.[226] But probably the greater part of the books were treated in a manner similar to that in which Dr. Layton treated the books at the Oxford colleges, and no doubt the description he gave of the result of his visit to New College would apply to most of the monasteries: “We fownde all the gret quadrant court full of the leiffes ... the wynde blowing them into evere corner.”[227]


As might be supposed from the character of the agents employed, much of the spoil did not reach the Royal treasure-house without a good deal of trouble. The lead was to be melted into “plokes” and sows, weighed, and marked with the King’s marks, and delivered under indenture to the constables of neighbouring castles, such as Tutbury. But so long afterwards as the reign of Mary, John Scudamore was being called upon for the settlement of his accounts. The following letter was addressed to him from Westminster on the “laste of February,” 1555:[228]

“After our harty comendacyons, theise maye be to advertyse you that we have perused the indentures made betwyxte Mr. Sheldon and you, and accordynge to the tenure of the same have charged the sayed master Sheldon with all the leade, bell metalle, and redy money mencyoned and conteigned in the sayed indenture, which beynge deducted oute of youer charge, yett there dothe remayne to be aunsweryd by you bothe leade and bell metalle as ffollowythe, that ys to saye for leade att ... Rocestre, vi, ff.; Croxden, xiiii, ff. de.; Delacres, iiii, ff.; Tuttberye, vi, ff., i, quarter; nuper prioratus canonicorum de Stafford, xliiii, ff.; ... the celle of Dudley, iiii, ff.; ... ffor the aunswere whereof we requyer you, by the vertue of the kynge and quenes majesties comyssyon to us directed, that wythe as convenyente spede as you may after the receyte hereof sende unto us youre suffycyente deputie to accoumpte byfore us for the same, so as hereuppon their majesties may be satisfyed by you of the dett that shall faul out uppon the same. And bycause we be moche callyd uppon to reporte youer estate and dett herein, we therefore are constrayned the more ernestly to calle uppon you, whome we dought not wylle have such regarde hereunto as bothe their majesties expectacyon herein may be served (as ys mete), as also for the full ende of this charge towardes youer selfe, with which as before the ende ys troublesome and comberous unto you, so will the ende thereof be to youer quyetnes and comforte. Whereof, for that you are ouer oulde ffrende and of oulde acquayntaunce,[203] we thought to advyse you the rather for that commyssyon ys nowe oute for the ende of those causys, of which you nowe may be dyscharged yf the faulte be not in youer selfe. We also advertysse you that Mr. Sheldone wylbe no further charged concernynge the leade and belles within your late circuyte there thenne ys conteyned in the indentures bytwyxte you and hym; and therefore you muste aunswere the reste youer selfe, whereunto we dought not but you wyll have such respecte as we may receyve youer aunswere withe expedycion.”

It is difficult to make any precise estimate of the numbers affected by the Dissolution. In the case of houses the deeds of surrender of which are extant, of course the number of signatories can be definitely stated. The Suppression papers give some further details. Valor Ecclesiasticus gives the stewards and bailiffs, etc., but, as we have seen, cannot be relied upon for completeness. From a comparison of the available data the following table has been compiled:

Religious Bailiffs etc. Servants Chief Steward Others
Brewood Nunnery 4 7 1 chaplain
Burton Abbey 11 Earl of Huntingdon 1 corrodian,
1 scholar
Croxden Abbey 13 7
Dieulacres Abbey 13 8 30 Lord Derby 8 bedeswomen
Dudley Priory 2
Hulton Abbey 5 Sir Philip Draycot
Sir Richard Sutton
Rocester Priory 9 2
Ronton Priory 3 John Harcourt
St. Thomas’s Priory 7 13 16 Earl Ferrers
Stone Priory 2 Sir Edward Aston
Trentham Priory 4 William Chetwyn 1 corrodian
Tutbury Priory 9 10 Earl of Shrewsbury

The recurrence of the same surname among the lists of inmates and employees of the religious houses is[204] worth noticing. At Dieulacres the Abbot, Thomas Whitney, had Humfrey Whitney as bailiff of his lordships and manors in Cheshire, John Whitney as chamberlain, and two other servants who bore his name and were of sufficient importance to be pensioned. At St. Thomas’s the Prior, Richard Whitwell, gave employment to another Richard, an Edward, and a Katharine, who all bore his surname; William Stapulton and Thomas Bagley were canons, and Thomas Stapulton and William Bagley were servants. Among the servants three were named Coke, two Turner, two Beche or Bech (besides one named Bache), and three were named Baker.

That there was ordinarily a bailiff at Brewood Nunnery is shown by the existence in the house of a bailiff’s chamber. It was well furnished at the Suppression, and Robert Baker, who received a “reward” of 13s. 4d., may have been the occupant.

At Dieulacres Valor Ecclesiasticus gives three bailiffs, etc., but at the Dissolution seven are mentioned, besides a forester; and eleven other men were pensioned. Lord Derby, “Steward of the Monastery and town of Leek,” received a pension at the Dissolution. At Stafford Valor Ecclesiasticus gives nine stewards: at the Suppression twenty-nine people were rewarded, which appears to mean thirteen officials (besides the High Steward and including the cook), who were also pensioned, and sixteen others, including four ploughmen and six women. At Hulton Sir Philip Draycot was Chief Steward of the Staffordshire Manors, and Sir Richard Sutton of Cambryngham.


From the names of the holders of the office of Chief Steward it may be presumed that the post was mainly an honorary one. Lord Derby and the Earls of Huntingdon and Shrewsbury are not likely to have presided often in the manor courts or to have taken much active part in the work of administration. In many cases it is even mentioned expressly that there was a deputy steward. Probably the office corresponded somewhat to that of patron of an institution, or Chancellor of a modern University: the holder lent the house the prestige of his name, attended on special occasions, and was expected to use his influence when necessity arose. It is to be feared the Chief Stewards did nothing to help the monasteries in their hour of need: many of them only used whatever knowledge they possessed of the monastic affairs to obtain a good share of the spoil. The Earl of Shrewsbury, Chief Steward of Tutbury, was also Chief Steward of the Abbeys of Shrewsbury, Buildwas, Lilleshall and Wenlock in the adjoining county of Salop, of Beauchief in Derbyshire, St. Werburgh (Chester), Vale Royal and Combermere in Cheshire, Welbeck in Nottinghamshire, and Wilton in Wiltshire. Thomas Cromwell was steward of five monasteries and of New College, Oxford.

The duties of the bailiff were to supervise the work on the estates. The steward presided in the courts. Sometimes one man was both bailiff and steward. The auditors verified the accounts of the bailiffs and stewards and collectors. The collectors gathered the rents and tithes, and as the latter were often paid in kind, the work was onerous. That so much of the financial and secular work of the monasteries was in lay hands must[206] have immensely simplified the work of dissolution. The extent and value of the property were well known, and as the tenants came into contact with lay administrators much more frequently than with the “religious” owners, the change when laymen supplanted the latter as possessors of the estates came with much less of a shock than would otherwise have been the case. The change, indeed, probably seemed slight to the tenants. They had known little and seen little of the “religious,” especially in places at a distance from the house, and the same bailiff usually continued in his office at the change of ownership.

Rents were probably not much raised. When the allotments of Valor Ecclesiasticus can be definitely identified with those of the post-dissolution valuations the rents are generally unchanged, and in any place where they appear to be larger in the latter, the increase is probably due as much to deliberate suppression of part in the earlier returns, as to increased strictness by the new owners.

For a similar reason the transfer of the tithes to lay hands was easier than would seem to have been likely. Under ordinary circumstances it would have been a bold step to have transferred to laymen payments definitely apportioned for religious purposes. But to the ordinary people the tithe had long ceased to wear an ecclesiastical dress. The vicars who had lost it had been denouncing it roundly for many years. It was regularly received by lay officials—often the collectors of the ordinary secular rents,—for the collecting of it was inevitably a matter of difficulty and much haggling, and needed expert knowledge. The benefits resulting[207] from it appeared nil to the payers, for it was taken away from the parish to the monastery, which was often far distant. Moreover, the tithes were sometimes actually leased to laymen. Thus “the whirligig of time brought in its revenges.” The spiritual character of tithes was lost, and they were transferred to, and remained in, lay hands without difficulty. There was, however, no spiritual gain from the change. The lay owners of livings were found appointing clergy of even lower calibre than the monasteries had placed in their appropriated benefices; they often appointed their servants, men who by habit and training were utterly unfitted for the position, and not seldom on the understanding that much of the endowment should be surrendered.

The information which is available for Staffordshire throws little light on the much-discussed question of monastic charity. All that we know is that eight bedeswomen were maintained at Dieulacres, and that doles were systematically distributed at Burton, Rocester, and Tutbury. The latter were endowed and so were obliged to be recorded by the Commissioners of Valor Ecclesiasticus, but the fact that the women at Dieulacres were not mentioned shows how narrowly the official instructions were interpreted. The single instance is sufficient to show that because Valor Ecclesiasticus is silent in the majority of cases we are not justified in drawing a positive conclusion that in them no charity at all was dispensed. Indeed, one is tempted to go further and to argue that it is incredible that no other endowed alms (which the instructions permitted to be reckoned) existed in the county. At[208] any rate this much may be said: that if the charity of which we have positive proof represents all that was distributed by the Staffordshire houses the strictures which have been so often passed on the monks for excessive and demoralising almsgiving are quite undeserved: the monasteries of Staffordshire, at any rate, were not “nurseries of dishonest mendicancy.”

Probably, however, the truth lies midway between the two extremes. The scanty records no doubt indicate that doles played no important part in the monastic system, and the definite details which are given of the extent and nature of those mentioned seem to show that charity was practised with care and judgment. The cessation of the doles would not be much felt, for they came only on stated days and at long intervals. They had not helped much to solve the problem of poor-relief while they lasted: their abolition did not add greatly to its difficulty. There was no marked increase in the number of the poor in need of relief. The ejected monks and nuns, being usually, as we have seen, pensioned more or less adequately, need not have added to the number of destitute paupers. Lay officials, servants, labourers and the like, doubtless continued, in the great majority of cases, their old occupations under new conditions.

It is probably true that the new owners were harder masters than the monks had been. But the monks seldom came into direct personal contact with their labourers. The bailiffs and stewards had managed the estates for the religious, just as they continued to do under the new owners. But the bailiffs and stewards probably had a much freer hand in the old days than[209] in the new. The whole spirit of the estate was changed. Instead of landlords who had held the property from time immemorial, who could afford to let a bad year be set off against a good, and who were, from the very fact of old possession, indifferent or tender-hearted according to the point of view we take of their conduct, the landlords were now men whose whole conduct shows them to be possessed of keen business instincts and intent on turning their new property to the fullest account. It is impossible to think they would be influenced by any feelings of sentiment or sympathy.

The first Act of Dissolution ordered that the new owners were “to kepe or cause to be kept an honest contynewell hous and houshold in the same cyte or precynct, and to occupye yerely as moche of the same demeanes in plowyng and tyllage of husbondry, that ys to saye as moche of the seid demeanes which hath ben commonly used to be kept in tyllage by the governors, abbottes, or pryours of the same howses, monasteryes, or pryoryes.” But how far this wise and equitable provision was carried, or even intended to be carried, into effect has been seen by the deliberate arrangements which were made with the purchasers of the Friaries at Stafford and Lichfield, to take down, deface, and remove most of the buildings, even though it might be the work of three years. The new owners, indeed, seldom occupied the lands themselves. The greater ones sublet them, and lesser and greater alike speculated briskly with them. Sutcote, the “server of the Kingis Grace Chamber,” who obtained the Cistercian Nunnery at Brewood, just over the Staffordshire border, in a high-handed manner, had no sooner done[210] so than he “offered hyt to dyvers to selle for suche a price that no man will gladly by hit at hys hand.” Trentham was only surrendered in 1536, yet in December, 1538, the Duke of Suffolk obtained by exchange a grant of the rents and reversions reserved upon the Crown leases there, and many cottages, lands, and advowsons; and at the same time procured a license to alienate. He sold it in 1540 to James Leveson, who had been so large a purchaser at the sales of the goods of the houses. The enterprising Leveson, in his turn, had no sooner secured Rushton Grange from the spoils of Hulton Abbey in 1539 than he sold it again to Biddulph of Biddulph. There is ample evidence to show he was a man who did a regular business in buying and selling monastic property of all kinds. It is evident that any inquiry into the original grants of the lands of the religious houses would throw little light upon the permanent results of the transfer of the monastic property. It would indicate at least who were the shrewdest bargainers and the readiest speculators.

But, taking all things into consideration, we may perhaps say that the social effects of the Dissolution were probably not great. Things went on in much the same way as before. Rents and tithes had to be paid to the same collectors and with much the same result. The same bailiffs and stewards generally managed the estates. Even if the new owner desired to raise the rents it would not be easy to make any sudden change in the country districts. In the towns the change would be more marked. Burgage rents could be more easily raised than those of farms and[211] crofts, and the new owners would certainly insist on punctuality much more strictly than the “religious” had done: payments would no longer be allowed to fall into arrear.

But the amount of town property which the monks held was small. In proportion to their whole rent-roll the part which came from the towns was a mere fraction, and except such cases as Burton-on-Trent and Stafford, both of which had “monasteries” at their gates, all the houses were at a distance from the towns. In the towns accordingly it is not probable that the monks and canons were familiar figures. They played no great part in town life. The friars were the religious orders of the towns. But in Staffordshire, and indeed throughout the country, the property the friars possessed was insignificant. As we have seen it was so trifling that the Staffordshire Commissioners in 1535 did not trouble to send in any return of it. The Suppression officials only found £2 rents at Newcastle-under-Lyme, £2 4s. 8d. at the Austin Friars and £1 6s. 8d. at the Grey Friars of Stafford. We are told, also, that the Grey Friars had “in the fields six lands yearly, worth 16d.,” which apparently means six allotments in the Common Fields. They also had a close with an orchard worth 5s. The town property being so small the rent-collectors of the new owners would not find much scope for activity and strictness.

Seldom, indeed, has a great Revolution been accomplished with so little commotion and disturbance. Not only did no foreign complications ensue, but even in England itself there was very little to disturb public serenity. The Pilgrimage of Grace did not awake[212] an echo even in so near a county as Staffordshire:[229] not a single riot is recorded, and for ordinary people the change passed, apparently, almost unnoticed. A few almsfolk and poor bedeswomen suffered, but that seemed to be all.

The reason is, as we have seen, partly because the monks, as such, played a very small part in public life—they were landlords and landlords only; and partly because the change of landlords was managed by the Government with consummate skill and infinite worldly wisdom. They made sure that everyone worth considering should profit by the transaction, and in Tudor times such a policy was sure to succeed.

For the age was one in which expediency had supplanted principle, and worldly prosperity was the one thing that mattered. The Dissolution of the Monasteries was to a very large extent prompted by cupidity. Their wealth was an irresistible attraction to the Government; to emphasise their shortcomings was a useful after-thought, and the question of justice was hardly raised by anyone. In all the correspondence connected with the fall of the Staffordshire houses there is no hint of immorality or even unworthiness. Indeed, the rights and wrongs of the business are never alluded to: the one and only topic is the personal gain for which the petitioners hoped, and the pecuniary inducements they tried to hold out to persons in authority in the hope of gaining their help. But, in the irony of fate, circumstances proved too strong for the Government, whose cupidity was largely[213] disappointed. Begun as a source of new supplies for a prodigal king, as the work progressed it developed into a huge scheme for the wholesale bribery of the classes which had political power.

Thus, the Dissolution of the Monasteries served rather to illustrate the power of the monarchy than materially to increase its wealth. The confiscated possessions were dissipated in innumerable directions, and the royal treasury received but little permanent enrichment. Had anything like the greater proportion of the wealth of which the Church was deprived been retained by the Crown, the throne would have been rendered independent of Parliament and the constitutional victory over the Stuarts might not have been won.



Patent Roll (Chancery), 29 Henry VIII, Part 3, Mem. 23 (18)

De renouacione Monasterii de Croxdon

Rex omnibus ad quos etc. salutem. Cum per quendam actum in parliamento nostro apud London tercio die Novembris anno regni nostri vicesimo primo inchoato et deinde usque Westmonasterium adiornato et per diversas prorogaciones usque ad et in quartum diem Februarii anno regni nostri vicesimo septimo continuato et tunc ibidem tento inter alia inactitatum existit quod nos haberemus et gauderemus nobis ac heredibus nostris imperpetuum omnia et singula monasteria Prioratus ac alias domos Religiosas Monachorum Canonicorum et Monialium quibuscumque generibus siue diversitatibus habituum Regularum siue ordinum vocarentur siue nominarentur que non habebant terras tenementa redditus decimas porciones et alia hereditamenta ultra clarum annuum valorem ducentarum librarum dicti annualis claris valoris dictorum Monasteriorum ac Prioratuum capiendi ac construendi secundum clarum valorem in Scaccario nostro certificatum. Et simili modo quod haberemus et gauderemus nobis ac heredibus nostris omnes et omnimodi sectas [sic (? scitos)] et circuitus eorundem Religiosarum domorum ac omnia et singula Maneria grangeas mesuagia terras tenementa reversiones redditus servicia decimas penciones porciones advocaciones patronatus ecclesiarum Capellarum annuitates iura intraciones condiciones et alia hereditamenta quecumque eisdem Monasterio Prioratibus siue domibus Religiosis non habentibus ut predicitur terras tenementa vel hereditamenta ultra predictum annuum valorem ducentarum librarum pertinentia siue spectantia adeo plene et integre prout Abbates Priores Abbatisse ac alii gubernatores huiusmodi Monasteriorum Prioratuum et aliarum Religiosarum domorum adtunc habuerunt illa aut habere debuerunt in iure domorum suarum habendum et tenendum omnia et singula premissa cum omnibus[215] suis iuribus proficuis jurisdictionibus et commoditatibus nobis heredibus et successoribus notris imperpetuum ad inde faciendum et utendum nostras proprias voluntates Cumque eciam in actu predicto provideatur quod nos aliquo et quocumque tempore post confeccionem actus illius valeamus et potuissemus ad beneplacitum nostrum ordinare constituere et declarare per literas nostras patentes sub magno sigillo nostro conficiendas quod ille et tales huiusmodi predictarum domorum Religiosarum quas supprimendas et dissoluendas esse noluissemus essent perseurerarent starent continuarent et permanerent in eisdem suis corporibus corporatis ac in eisdem suis essencialibus statu qualitate condicione robore et effectu tam in possessionibus quam aliter prout essent et fuissent ante confeccionem actus predicti absque suppressione siue dissolucione earundem aut alicuius partis inde pretextu et auctoritate eiusdem actus Et quod quilibet talis huiusmodi ordinacio et declaracio per nos sic fienda et ordinanda esset bona secura et effectualis Capitalibus gubernatoribus huiusmodi Religiosarum domorum quas supprimendas et dissoluendas esse noluissemus et successoribus suis iuxta et secundum tenores et effectus literarum patencium inde conficiendarum aliqua re siue aliquibus rebus in actu predicto incontrarium inde facto non obstante prout in actu predicto inter alia plenius continetur. pretextu cuiusquidem actus Monasterium siue Abbacia beate Marie de Croxdon Covent’ et Lich diocesis in Comitatu nostro Staffordie pro eo quod non habet terras tenementa redditus decimas porciones aut hereditamenta ultra dictum clarum annuum valorem ducentarum librarum prout certificatur in dicto Scaccario nostro et ibidem plene liquet in manibus et disposicione nostris iam existit utrum dissolueretur secundum formam et effectus actus predicti an permaneret et continuaret in suo pristino et essentiali statu condicione et qualitate prout ante confeccionem actus predicti fuit. Nos volentes dictum Monasterium siue Abbaciam beate Marie de Croxdon predictam pro diuersis causis et consideracionibus nos ad presens specialiter mouentibus in suo pristino essenciali statu corpore condicione et qualitate permanere et continuare prout ante confeccionem actus predicti fuit ac prout esset si actus ille factus non fuisset. Sciatis igitur quod nos ob fauorem quem erga Monasterium siue Abbaciam beate Marie de Croxdon predictam quod non extenditur in terris tenementis et aliis hereditamentis suis ad annuum valorem[216] ducentarum librarum in Comitatu predicto ordinis Cistriciensis Couen et [sic] diocesis gerimus et habemus. Et ut Abbas et Religiose persone eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie diuino cultu ibidem celebrando deuocius intendant hospitalitatem ac alia pietatis opera ibidem uberius excerceant de gratia nostra speciali ac ex certa sciencia et mero motu nostris ordinauimus constituimus et declarauimus erigimus et renouamus quod predictum Monasterium siue Abbacia beate Marie de Croxdon predicta imperpetuum continuabit stabit et permanebit in eodem suo corpore corporato ac in eodem suo essenciali statu gradu qualitate et condicione tam in possessionibus quam in omnibus aliis rebus tam spiritualibus quam temporalibus et mixtas [sic] prout fuit tempore confeccionis actus predicti aut aliquo tempore ante confeccionem actus predicti absque suppressione sine dissolucione aliquali eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta aut alicuius partis vel parcelle inde vigore et auctoritate actus predicti. Et ulterius de uberiori gratia nostra speciali concessimus et per presentes concedimus quod Thomas Chawner professor ordinis Cistriciensis sit deinceps Abbas dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta ac pro Abbate et Capitali gubernatore eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta deinceps habeatur reputetur et acceptetur eisdem modo et forma qualitate gradu condicione dignitate et robore prout dictus Thomas quarto die Februarii anno regni nostri vicesimo septimo aut antea fuit. Et quod omnes alie Religiose persone eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta modo existentes aut que quarto die Februarii dicto Anno vicesimo septimo ibidem fuerunt et iam a dicto Conuentu non separantur sint decetero et deinceps Conuentus eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta ac pro Conventu eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta deinceps habeantur reputentur et acceptentur eisdem modo et forma qualitate condicione et statu prout dicto quarto die Februarii dicto anno regni nostri vicesimo septimo aut antea fuerunt. Et quod predictus Thomas et Religiose persone predicte et omnes successores sui imperpetuum habeant et habebunt huiusmodi et eandem successionem in omnibus et per omnia prout ante dictum quartum diem Februarii dicto anno vicesimo septimo habuerunt et habere debuerunt ac prout habuissent et habere debuissent valuissent et potuissent si actus predictus factus[217] non fuisset. Et quod predictus Thomas per nomen Abbatis dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta et successores sui Abbates dicti monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta sint deinceps persone habiles implacitare et implacitari in omnibus sectis placitis querelis accionibus petiticionibus tam realibus quam personalibus et mixtis et aliis quibuscumque in quibuscumque Curiis et locis ac coram quibuscumque Judicibus siue Justiciariis tam spiritualibus quam temporalibus licet tangat nos heredes aut successores nostros et ad faciendum excercendum et exequendum omnia et singula alia quecumque ut Abbates dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta fecissent et facere potuissent ante confeccionem actus predicti. Ac prout fecissent et facere potuissent si idem actus minime factus et editus fuisset. Et quod predictus Abbas et Religiose persone predicte ut Abbas et Conuentus Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta et successores sui Abbates et Conuentus Monasterii siue Abbacie illius habeant gaudeant et teneant ac habere possint et valeant imperpetuum totum predictum Monasterium siue Abbaciam beate Marie de Croxdon predicta necnon ecclesiam Campanalia scitum Cimitorium fundum ambitum precinctum et circuitum ecclesie eiusdem ac omnia et singula Maneria terras tenementa redditus reversiones servicia possessiones penciones perpetuitates et hereditamenta nostra quecumque necnon commoditates ornamenta iocalia bona et catalla et alias res quascumque tam spirituales quam temporales eidem Monasterio siue Abbacie quouismodo spectantia siue pertinentia modo et forma prout haberent gauderent et tenerent aut habere gaudere et tenere potuissent et valerent si actus predictus factus et editus non fuisset. Et pro maiore securitate de et in premssiis prefatis Abbati et Conuentui Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta et successoribus suis adhibenda Sciatis insuper quod nos de uberiori gratia nostra speciali dedimus et concessimus ac per presentes damus et concedimus prefato Abbati dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta et Conuentui eiusdem loci et successoribus suis totum dictum Monasteruim siue Abbaciam beate Marie de Croxdon predicta necnon totum situm fundum ambitum precinctum et circuitum ecclesiam Campanile et Cimitorium eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta ac omnia et singula domos Maneria mesuagia terras tenementa[218] boscos subboscos redditus reversiones servicia feoda Militum Warda maritagia relevia escaeta parcos warrenas stagna vivaria piscarias communas Rectorias vicarias advocaciones et patronatus ecclesiarum Capellarum et Cantariarum terras glebas penciones porciones decimas oblaciones Curias letas visus franci plegii libertates jurisdictiones franchesias et alia iura possessiones et hereditamenta quecumque ac omnia bona et catalla Campanas iocalia ornamenta et alia quecumque eidem Monasterio siue Abbacie beate Marie de Croxdon predicta nuper spectantia siue pertinencia. Et que predictus Abbas et Conventus quarto die Februarii dicto anno vicesimo septimo aut antea vel postea in iure Monasterii siue Abbacie illius habuerunt tenuerunt vel gauisi fuerunt. Et que ad manus nostras racione et pretextu actus predicti devenerunt et devenire debuerunt adeo plene et integre et in tam amplis modo et forma prout dicti Abbas et Conuentus dicto quarto die Februarii dicto Anno vicesimo septimo et ante faccionem actus predicti in iure Monasterii siue Abbacie predicte illa habuerunt tenuerunt vel gauisi fuerunt et adeo plene et integre ac in tam amplis modo et forma prout illa racione pretextu vigore et auctoritate actus predicti ad manus nostras devenerunt et devenire debuerunt aut in manibus nostris iam existunt vel existere deberent. Habendum tenendum et gaudendum predictum Monasterium siue Abbaciam beate Marie de Croxdon predicta ac omnia et singula cetera premissa cum suis iuribus pertinenciis et commoditatibus uniuersis prefato Thome Abbati dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie illius et Conuentui eiusdem loci et successoribus suis in puram et perpetuam elemosinam imperpetuum de nobis et heredibus nostris de fundacione nostra et non aliter. Soluendo et faciendo Capitalibus dominis terrarum et tenementorum predictorum et ceterorum premissorum et cuiuslibet inde parcelle redditus et seruicia inde eis et eorum cuilibet debita et de iure consueta. Prouiso semper quod prefati. Abbas et Conuentus unanimi consensu pro se et successoribus suis per presentes concedant nobis et heredibus nostris quod predicti Abbas et Conuentus et successores sui imperpetuum soluant aut solui faciant nobis heredibus et successoribus nostris omnes decimas et primos fructus quocienscumque euenire contigerint eodem modo et forma atsi dictum Monasterium siue Abbacia suppressum dissolutum siue datum nobis per actum predictum non fuisset. Ac secundum vim formam et effectum cuiusdam actus[219] parliamenti pro decimis et primis fructibus editi et prouisi Et predicti Abbas et Conuentus concedunt per presentes quod ipsi et successores sui imperpetuum bene et fideliter custodiant et obseruabunt omnes et omnimodi regulas ordinaciones et statuta per nos ut supremum caput Anglicane ecclesie siue Ministros nostros et successores nostros bonum regimen dicti Monasterii siue Abbacie et Religiosorum virorum eiusdem Monasterii siue Abbacie concernencia siue tangencia imposterum prouidenda assignanda et appunctuanda. Eo quod expressa mencio etc. In cuius etc. Teste Rege apud Westmonasterium secundo die Julii.

per ipsum Regem et de dato etc.



[Exchequer Augmentation Office; Deeds of Surrender, No. 66, Crokesden Abbey, Cistercians]

Transcript (extended)

Omnibus Christi fidelibus ad quos presens scriptum pervenerit Nos Thomas Chalner abbas Monasterii siue Abbathie Beate Marie virginis de Crokesden in Comitatu Staff’ Coven’ et Lich’ dioc’ ordinis Cistercien’ et eiusdem loci conventus Salutem in Domino sempiternam Noueritis nos prefatos abbatem et conventum unanimi assensu et concensu nostris, animis deliberatis, certa scientia, et mero motu nostris ex quibusdam causis iustis et racionalibus nos animas et conscientas nostras spiritualiter moventibus ultro et sponte dedisse concessisse, ac per presentes damus, concedimus, reddimus, deliberamus, et confirmamus Illustrissimo et Invictissimo principi et domino nostro Henrico dei gratia Anglie et Francie Regi fidei defensori domino Hibernie ac in terris supremo ecclesie Anglicane sub Christo Capiti totum dictum monasterium siue abbathiam nostram de Crokesden, predict’ ac totum scitum, fundum, circuitum, et precinctum eiusdem monasterii de Crokesden predict’, Nec non omnia et singula maneria, domos, mesuagia, gardina, curtilagia, tofta, terras et tenementa, prata, pascua, pasturas, boscos, redditus, seruicia, molendina, passagia, feoda militum, wardas, maritagia, natiuos, villanos, cum eorum sequelis, communias, libertates, franchesias, iurisdictiones, officia, cur’, let’, hundred’, visus franci pledgii, feria, mercata, parcos, warrennia, viuaria, aquas, piscarias, vias, chimina, vacuos fundos, advocationes ecclesiarum, Hospitalium, et aliorum ecclesiasticorum beneficiorum quorumcunque, Rectorias, vicarias, cantarias, porciones, pensiones, annuitates, decimas, oblaciones, ac omnia et singula emolumenta, proficua, possessiones, hereditamenta et iura nostra quecunque, tam infra dictum Com’ Staff’ quam infra Com’ Darby, Northampton, Lincoln’ Lecestr’ Cestrie, Middlesex’ et alibi infra regnum[221] Anglie, Wallie, Hibernie et marchiarum earundem eidem monasterio siue Abbathie de Crokesden quoquomodo pertinentes spectantes appendentes siue incumbentes ac omnimodas chartas, evidentias, scripta, et munimenta nostra dicto monasterio siue Abbathie ac maneriis, terris, et tenementis ac ceteris premissis cum pertenentiis, seu alicui inde parcelle quoquomodo spectantes siue concernentes Habend’, tenend’ et gaudend’ dictum monasterium siue Abbathiam, scitum, fundum, circuitum, et precinctum de Crokesden predicto, terras, tenementa, ac cetera premissa, cum omnibus et singulis suis pertinentiis prefato Invictissimo Principi et Domino nostro Regi, heredibus et assignatis suis imperpetuum, cui in hac parte ad omnem iuris effectum, qui exinde sequi poterit aut potest nos et dictum monasterium siue Abbathiam de Crokesden predict’, ac omnia iura nobis qualitercumque acquisata (vt decet) subiicimus et submittimus, dantes et concedentes eidem Regie maiestati heredibus et assignatis suis omnem et omnimodam plenam et liberam facultatem, auctoritatem et potestatem nos et dictum monasterium de Crokesden predicto vna cum omnibus et singulis maneriis, terris, tenementis, redditibus, revercionibus, serviciis, et singulis premissis cum suis iuribus et pertinentiis quibuscumque dispondendi ac pro suo libro regio voluntatis libito ad quoscunque vsus maiestati sue placentes alienandi, donandi, couertendi et transferendi, hujusmodi disposiciones alienaciones donaciones conuersiones et translaciones, per maiestatem suam quouismodo fiend’ extunc ratificantes, ratas et gratas ac perpetuo firmas habituros promittimus per presentes et ut premissa omnia et singula suum debitum sortiri valeant effectum electionibus insuper nobis ei successoribus nostris necnon omnibus querelis, provocationibus, appellacionibus, actionibus, litibus, et instanciis aliisque quibuscumque nostris remediis et beneficiis nobis forsan et successoribus nostris in ea parte pretextu disposicionis, alienacionis, translacionis, et convrecionis predictarum et ceterorum premissorum qualitercumque competentibus et competituris omnibusque doli erroris metus ignorancie, vel alterius materie siue disposicionis exceptionibus obiectionibus, et alleggacionibus prorsus semotis et depositis palam publice et expresse ex certa nostra scientia animisque spontaneis renunciamus et redimus et ab eisdem recedimus in hiis scriptis Et nos predict’ abbas et conventus et successores nostri dictum monasterium precinctum scitum mansionem et ecclesiam de Crokesden predicto ac omnia et singula maneria, domos, mesuagia,[222] gardina, cutilagia, tofta, prata, pascua, pasturas, boscos, subboscos, terras et tenementa ac omnia et singula cetera premissa cum suis pertinentiis vniversis prefato domino nostro Regi heredibus et assignatis suis contra omnes gentes warantizabimus imperpetuum per presentes In quorum premissorum fidem et testimonium Nos prefati Abbas et conventus huic scripto sigillum nostrum commune apposuimus et propriis manibus adscripsimus dat’ xviimo die mensis septembris Anno Domini millesimo quigentesimo trigesimo octavo. Anno 30 Henry viii.

[Signatures in the margin.]

[Seal in good condition.]

[On the dorse]

Memorandum quod die et anno infra scripto Abbas et conventus infra nominati in domo capitulari omnes et singuli tunc ibidem congregati et capitulum facientes vnanimi eorum consensu et assensu ex certa eorum scientia animis deliberatis hoc eorum scriptum sigillo suo communi sigillatum et manibus suis propriis ad scriptum continens donationem concessionem alienationem siue sursum reddicionem ut factum suum liberum et voluntarium cognoverunt et recognoverunt ac ut factum suum commune in manibus venerabilis viri magistri Thome Legh legum doctoris commissarii ibidem domini nostri regis ad vsum ipsius illustrissimi domini Regis vltro et sponte tradebant et deliberant ac petierunt instanter ut in curia cancellarie domini nostri regis seu vbicunque aliis ut factum suum hujusmodi ad perpetuam rei memoriam irrotuletur[223] insinuatur et inscribatur et regarunt hos testes subscriptos quatenus tam super eorum facto hujus modi quam sigillacione deliberatione et peticione predict’ testimonium prohiberent.

[Enrolled on the dorse of the Close Rolls the month and year within written.]



(Exchequer Augmentation Office; Miscellaneous Books, Vol. 172)

Note.—The volume from which this and the two following extracts are taken begins as follows:

Herafter Ensueth the names of all and euery suche pson and psons as was by Thomas Ligh Doctor in the lawe and Wyllms Cauendyshe Auditor Commissionours appoynted by the King our soueraigne lorde for the dyssolucion of thes monasteryes foloweng by them Indiferently chosyn and sworne of and for the valuying ratyng and apprisyng of all and singler the gooddes and catelles cummyng and beyng found at the surrenders taken in the same late dyssoluyd Monasteries and priories within sundry sheres or Counties the names as well of the seyd howses as of the psons so sworne foloweng hervnder wryghten in order.

That ys to say

[Then follow the jurors of “Meryvale.”]

Brewode John Broune Jurors Rychard Whyt Jurors John Shyrborne Jurors
William Barnes John Baker Thomas Clarke
Henry Holte William Turner Anthony Palmer
Thomas Willes William Atwill George Wilkyns
Raffe Mynors Jur. John Hyll Jur. Nycholas Bagshaw Jur.
John Langley John Lyenshaw Rychard Rawson
Roger Alayn Willm. Whitill John Fyssher
George Bowgley Roger Gratwych Willm. Blythe
Delacres William Butler Jurors John Arden Jurors Henry Barber Jurors
Thomas Johnson Hugh Latham Thomas Jacson
Henry Atkyns Rychard Luther William Tanner
John Flynte John Thomson Thomas Morris

[Here follow jurors of Lylleshull and Darley. And on f. 2 jurors of Dale, Repton, Gracedue, Pypwell and Barnwel.]

Priory of Brewood

Hereafter folowyth all suche parcelles of implementes or houshold Stuff, Corne, Catell, ornamentes of the church and[225] such other lyke founde within the late priory there at the tyme of the Dissolucion of the same house, Soulde by the Kinges Commissioners to Thomas Gyfforde, esqr.

The Churche

Fyrst, one table of alebaster, owlde formes and settes, ij. particions of carvyd woode, pavyng of the church and quere, xxviij. panes of glas, and on masboke


The Vestrye

It’ ij. payr of grene dornyx[230] westmentes, j. olde cope of sendall, one serples, j. altercloth and j. towell, j. litell bell, and a sensure of latynne


The Chapter House

It’ iij. panys of glasse and ij. long formes soulde for


Belles in the Stepull

It’ ther remayneth unsolde in the stepull iij. belles.

The Hale

It’ there ij. tabulles and a forme soulde for xijd.

The Parlore

It’ j. foldyng tabull, j. forme, j. chayre, j. cubborde, and the hangyngs of payntyd clothe


The Cheffe Chamber

It’ one fetherbedd, ij. oulde coverlettes, j. oulde blankett, j. tester of whyght lynen clothe, ij. bed-steddes, ij. formes, j. cubborde, one joynt chayre, ij. oulde coffers, j. boulster, ij. pyllowis, and iiij. payre of shettes


The Baylyffes Chamber

It’ one mattres, j. coverlet, one blankett, and one axe


The Buttery

It’ ij. ale tubbes, j. oulde chest, j. borde, j. tableclothe, and ij. candlestykys of latenn


The Kechyn

It’ ij. dressyngbordes, ij. stoles, j. forme, j. ladder, j. bz [] di’ of salte, iiij. porrengers of peuter, iiij. platters, ij. saucers, and ij. braspottes



The Larder

It’ one great chest, j. troffe, and two little barrelles


The Brewhouse

It’ v. tubbes, j. keler, j. olde tubbe, j. olde table, j. olde whele, and one chese presse


The Yelyng House

It’ iij. colyng[231] ledes, ij. brassepannes, and vij. oulde tobbes


The Boultyng House

It’ iij. troffes, j. watering fate, j. boulting huche, j. busshell, and ij. tubbes soulde for


The Cheslofte

It’ ij. litell tubbes, ij. chese rakkes, ij. charnes, j. lytell whele, and ij. shelves


The Kylhouse

It’ j. hercloth and j. lader hengyng upon the wall of ye seid house



It’ one quarter of whete vjs. ijd., quarter of munke corne viijs., j. quarter of ottes xxd., j. quarter of pese ijs. viijd. In all

xviijs. iiijd.


It’ one horse iiijs. soulde to the said Thomas



It’ j. wayne and j. dungcarte sould for



It’ for x lode of hey


Plate Soulde

It’ soulde to George Warenn j. chales and iij. spounys all whytt weing viij. ounces at iijs. iiijd. the ounce

xxvjs. viijd.

Dette receyvyd

It’ receyvyd of an olde dett dwe to ye seid late priorye

xxvjs. viijd.

The sume totall of all the guddis of thys seid late priory with xxvjs. viijd. for dett receyvyd and xxvjs. viijd. for plate

viili. vjs. jd.


Rewardes gyvene to the late Abbes and the Covent ther at ther departure

Fyrst to Isabell Launder xls.
It’ to Christabell Smith xxs.
It’ to Alice Beche xxs.
It’ to Felix Baggshawe xxs.

Rewardes gyvene to the servantes ther at theyr lyke departure

Itto William parker, Chapelan, xxxs.
Itto Robert Baker xiijs. iiijd.
Itto Margarett Burre ijs.
Itto Thomas Bolde iijs.
Itto William Morre ijs. vjd.
It to Thomas Smith xs.
It to Kateryn Alate xiijs. iiijd.
It to Philip Duffelde iiijs.
lxxviijs. ijd.

It’ in cates boughte and spente at the tyme of the commissionours being there for the dissolucion of the seid late priory, and for the saffe kepyng of the guddes and catell there found duryng the seid tyme


The sum of the paymentes aforeseid is, xj. li. xviijs. ijd. and so remayneth in the seid comissionour’s handes nil, for they have payd more then they for the goodes of the seid late priory have receyvyd by iiij. li. xijs. jd.

Md. that the Prioresse of the seid late Priory hath receyvyd of Michaelmas Quarters Rente dwe to the seid Priory these Parcelles folowing, and none other as sche sayth.

Fyrst, of Mr. Thomas Gyfford for Blythbery for halfe a yere xxxiijs. iiijd.
It’ of Mr. Thomas Moreton for le feldes for half a yere xxvjs. viijd.
It’ of T ... Tunkes for the rente of hys ferme for halfe a yere vjs. viijd.
It’ of John Penford for halfe a yeres rent viijs.
It’ of Thomas Pitt for a hole yeres rente ijs.
It’ of Cristofer Alatt, for one quarters rente vjs. viijd.
Summa iiij. li. iijs. iiijd.


Md. that ther is owyng to the seid late Priory of Michaelmas Rente by the confession of the foreseid these parcelles.

Fyrst, of Barnaby Clarke for iij. yeres quiet rent xviijs.
It’ of the balyff of Tonge for j yeres rente ijs.
It’ of Willm Wydowes for j yeres rente xijd.
It’ of the lordshype of Brome for j quarter rente lxs.
It’ of Rychard Gowgh for halfe a yeres rente viijd.
It’ of Mathew Parker for halfe a yeres rente xvd.
It’ of John Staunton for halfe a yeres quiet rente vjd.
It’ of ... Blakeman for halfe a yeres rente xijd.
It’ of ... Whytemore for ij yere vjd.
It’ of Thomas Johnson for halfe a yeres rente iijd. ob.
It’ of the churchwardens of Brewode for iij yeres rente iijd.
It’ of Robart Bromhall for halfe a yeres rente iiijd.
Suma xxxiiijs. ixd.ob

Penc’ and Porc’ grauntyd and alottyd to the late Prioresse and Convent’ there by the seid Commissionours.

Fyrst, to Isabell Launder, late prioresse lxvjs. viijd.
It’ to Cristabell Smyth xxxiijs. iiijd.
It’ to Alys Beche xxxiijs. iiijd.
It’ to Felix Baggeshawe xxxiijs. iiijd.
viijli. vjs. viijd.



(Augmentation Office. Miscellaneous Books, Vol. 172)

The late Priory of Saint Thomas nygh Staff Herafter folowyth all suche pcelles of Implementes and housholde Stuffe Corne Catell ornamentes of the Churche and suche other lyke founde wythin the seid late Monastery at the tyme of the Dissolucon of the same house Soulde by the Kynges Commissionors to the Reuerend father in God Bysshope of Couet and Lychefelde the xviiith Day of October in the xxxth yere orf [sic] our Soueraigne lorde Kyng Henry the viiith.
That ys to saye
The Churche Fyrst j Tabull of woode at the hye alter iiij Candulstykes of latyn j Crosse of latyn the deskys in the quere j olde alter in our lady Chapell j Imag of our lady one payre of olde Organes ij syde alters j Rode the flatt Roffes ouer the Churche and Crosse yeles wyth all the Glasse and the pauenement j Rode in the Churche ij Images and one Cloke soulde for cxs.
The Vestry It. iiij Tynacles of oulde redd Baudkynn iij oulde Vestmentes j oulde Cope of Crymsonn Veluett iij oulde Copes of redd Baudkynn j of grene and Redd sylke vij other oulde Copes iij Fruntes for the alter of Dune yelowe and grene Sylke v olde alter clothes towel and tow sacryng Belles soulde for xlvs.
The Cloyster and the Chapter house It. the glasse Iroun pauementes tyle and shyngull wyth the Roffes ther j lauer of leade i Cundyth
It. the glasse in the Chapter house and pauyng stounes ar soulde for
The Dorter It. all the Selles ther ar soulde for xjs.
The Frater It. ij Bordes ther soulde for xijd.
The newe Halle. It. j olde Wynde for Stone the Iroun in the Walles the smale Cundyth in the Courte ij Bordes and tow Formes in the oulde halle soulde for xs.
The Priors parler It. ther j foulden tabull ij formes iiij chayres and the hengynges of lynyon ar soulde for xvjd.
The Water Chamb. It. Bedstedes the hengynges paynted ij fetherbeddes ij boulsters ij pyllowes and iiij couerlettes sould for xxs.
The Great chamb. It. a beadsteadd j fetherbedd j Couerlett ij fustyon blankettes and a boulster soulde for xxxiijs.
The ij iner chambs. It. ij fetherbeddes iiij oulde Couerynges ij boulsters ther founde solde for xxs.
The Chamb ouer the Chapell It. ther j bedstedd j Couerlett j payre of blankettes j payre of shetes j fetherbedd j Cupborde j forme j smale borde j Chayer and the hengyng of lynyon clothe soulde for xijs.
The Carters chamb. It. ther j bedstedd j payr of shettes j materes and iij oulde Couerlettes soulde for ijs.
The Buttery It. ther ij Napkyns iiij ould Borde clothes j wesshyng towell j kyffe[232] ij pewter Saltes xij lomes ij Costrelles[233] iij oulde tubbes soulde for vs.
The Kechenn It. ther iiij Brasse pottes j Broche[234] ij Brasse pannes j brasynn morter ij Cobbordes j pott beme of Tymber j musterd queren[235] j kemnell j Skymer j fleshehoke ij payr of henges ij payr of potthokes vij platers j voyder[236] iij dysshes iiij saucers iiij potyngers and j Shuffnett sould for xijs. vjd.[231]
The Brewhouse and Bakhouse It. ther ij Brewing leadds ij fattes vj wortleades j panne in a Furneshe j steping Sesterne j here for the kill in the Brewhouse chamb j bedstedd j matres j Couerlett j payr of Shetes j Blankett j borde iij trowes and j bultyng tubb whyche ar soulde for xls.
Tymber sould It. Tymber lying about the Scite of the seid late priory ys soulde for xiiijs.
Grayne and Heye at Orb’toun Grayunge It. in Whete there iij qrt at vijs. le qrt
It. in Rye and Munkencorne xj qrt at vjs. viijd. the qrt
It. in Barley xl qrt. at iijs. iiijd. the qrt.
It. pese x qrt at vjs. viijd. the qrt whyche amountyth to the Sume of It. of hey ther founde xx lodes at ijs. the lode amountyng to the Sume of
lxxiijs. iiijd.
vjli. xiijs. iiijd.
lxvjs. viijd.xls.
Grayne att Barkeswhiche Graunge It. in Rye ther xij qrt. at vjs. viijd. the qrt. amountyng to the Sume of
It. in Barley iiij qrt at iijs. iiijd. the qrt.amountyng to the Sume of
iiijli. xiijs.
iiijli. xiijs. iiijd.
Hey att the Priory It. of hey ther founde xij lodes at ijs. the lode soulde for xxiiijs.
Waynes att Orb’ton Graunge wt other It. ther j Iroun bound Wayne and j other onbounden wyth yokes and temes thereto belongyng and ij harrowes xs. viijd.[232]
Waynes and harrowes at Barkeswych Graung It. ther ij Waynes j Ieronbound and the other vnbounde ij harrowes ij plowes wt yokes and temes to them belongyng xiijs. iiijd.
Catell soulde att Orbtoun Graunge It. ther founde xij Oxenn soulde for
It. ix kyne soulde for
It. ther founde viij wening Calues at ijs. the pece on wyth an other
It. lx yewes soulde for
It. lxx lambes at xd. the pece
It. iij carthorses and ij mares wt a Carte and gere belongyng to them soulde for
It. vj Swyne oulde and yonge sould for
It. vj Wynter bestes soulde for
iiijli. xs.
xxvj. li iiijs.
Catell att Barkeswyche Graunge It. ther founde at the tyme of the dyssolucion of the seid late priory xij Oxen soulde for
It. iiijxx Wethers at xvjd. the pece
It. ix Swyne soulde for
x. li.
cvjs. viijd.
xvli. xiijs. viijd.
The sume total of all the guddes founde within the seid late mon att the tyme of the dyssolucion is iiijxx vijli. ixs. vjd.
Rewardes gyuen to the Couent ther at ther Departure Fyrst to Rychard Whytell late prior
It. to Ric. Haruy subprior
It to Sr. Xpofer Simson
It. to Sr. Thomas Bageley
It. to Sr. William Pykstok
It. to Sr. William Stapulton
It. to Sr. William Bovdon
xvij li. xxixli.[233]
gyuen to the
late apperteynyng
to the seid
priory at the
It. to Philip Chetwyn
It. to George Bowghey
It. to Peter Sponer
It. to Edmund Sale
It. to Roger Cokes
It. to James Coke
It. to Richard Turner
It. to John Coke
It. to Willm Loncome
It. to Thomas Stapulton
It. to Thomas Beche
It. to iiij plowgh dryuers
It. to Alis Bech
It. to Agnes
It. to Hewe Baker
It. to Susan Turner
It. to Katerin Whyttyll
It. to Richard Baker
It. to Henry Baker
It. to Nicholas Wood
It. to Richard Whytell
It. to Grola Hordram
It. to Denys Rochson
It. to John Bache
It. to Raufe Hales
It. to Elizabeth Grene
iijs. iiijd.
iijs. iiijd.
xijli. xxixli.
Cates bought It. in Cates bought and spente at the tyme of the Commissionors beyng there for the dissolucon of the seid late priory and for the saffe kepyng of the guddes and Catell there duryng the same tyme viijli.
The summe of the paymentes aforseid ys xxxvijli.
xixs. xd.[234]
Md. the Remayneth a specialite of xl. li.
ixs. ijd. vpon the Reuerend father in God Rowland bisshop of Couentry and Lych for the guddes of the seid late priory by hym bought and not yet payed for as apperyth by on obligacon beryng date the xviijth day of October in the xxx yere of our Souerayngne lorde King Henri the viijth paiabull at the feast of Saint Andrewe the appostyll which shalbe in the yere of our lorde God MDXXXIX
xl. li
And so Remayneth in the seid Commissionors handes ixli. ijd.
Certyn guddes or stuffe founde at the seid late priory whiche Remayneth vnsolde
Gylte plate
Whyte plate Lead remayn eng vnsould
Fyrst 1 Chales all gylte wayeng
It. 1 Chales all whyte wayeng
It. ther ys estemed to be xliiij fothers of leade valued at
xix oz.
ixoz. di.

xl. li.
Belles remayneng vnsoulde It. ther found iiij belles valued at liiijli.
Md. there remayneth all the howses edyfyed wythin the precincte of the seid priory except the flatte roffes ouer the Churche the crosse ylez wyth the glasse and pauement in the Churche wt. the Roffes glasse yron pauement tyle shingull of the Cloyster and Chapter house whych ys soulde.
Plate morgagyd to Dyuers parsons Fyrst in the handys of Syr Gryme at acton j Stondyng Cuppe Morgagyd for——It. in the handes of Willm Stamforde at Rowhaye ij syluer saltes for xli. In the handes of Mr. Lytelton j Bason and on ewer of syluer for xli. In the handes of Willm Litleton of Stafford on senser of syluer for lxvjs. viijd. In the handes of Vmfrey fox thelder of Opton j Crosse of woode platyd wt. syluer and sett aboute wt. stones for xxli.[235]
Pencions and stypendes appoyntyd and allottyd to the late prior and Couent of the seid priory by the forseid Commissionors.
Fyrst to Rychard Whytell late prior xxvjli. xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Rychard Haruey vjli.
It. to Xpofer Symsoun vjli.
It. to Thomas Bagley Cvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Pykestoke Cvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Stapulton Cs.
Sum liiijli. vjs. viijd.
Fees and Annuites grauntyd out to dyuerse persons before the dyssolucon of the seid late priory
Fyrst to my lorde Ferres hygh stuard xls.
It. to Mr. Robert Browne xvs.
It. to Mr. Phylypp Chewynn xxvjs. viijd.
It. to Edward Whytell xxxiijs. iiijd.
It. to Hugh Baker xxs.
It. to Willm Harney [sic] xs.
It. to Willm Bagley xs.
It. to Rychard Torner Baker xs.
It. to Jamys Cocke xxs.
It. to George Bougley xxs.
It. to Thomas Stapultoun xs.
It. to Alexander Rattclyff xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Ottes Hollande xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Rychard Whytell xxs.
Summ xiij li. xxd.
Dettes owyng by the late prior and Couent of the forseid priory befor the dyssolucon therof
Fyrst to Mr. Edward Lyteltoun Esquier ixli. xs.
It. to Vmfrey fox thelder xvijli. iiijs.
It. to Willm Chamber of Westoun Cxvjs. jd.
It. to Syr Henry Slany vycar of Busbury xls.
It. to Willm Stamford xli.
It. to Syr Edward Astoun knyght xxiijli. xjs. viijd.
It. to Edward Lyteltoun Esquyer xlli.
It. to Peyes Sponer xiiijli. xviijs. id.
It. to Agnes Daryngton of Stafford Gent lxvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Gylbert vjli. xiijs. iiijd.[236]
It. to Sr. Robert Gryme lxvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Mydeltoun of Stafford lxvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Russell lxxiijs. iiijd.
It. to Rychard Homersley of Stafford for money borowed and other warres of hym bowght xijli. vs. ixd.
It. to Mr. Strethay Commessary vjli. xiijs. iiijd.
It. to my lorde of Chester for the pencions of Busbury Westoun and Barkeswych at Michaelmas last and procuracions in visitacions last lxvijs. iiijd.
It. to the Deane and Chapeter of Lych for certyn pencions Due at the feast of Seint Michael tharchangell last past xijli. vjs. viijd.
It. to Walter Wortesley xviijli.
It. to the Bysshopp of Chester xlli.
Sum ccxxxvli. xixs. vijd.



(Augmentation Office. Miscell. Books. Vol. 172, ff. 41–49)

The late Mon. of Delacres in the Counte of Stafford

Herafter foloweth all such pcelles of Implementes or houshoulde Stuffe Corne Catell Ornamentes of the Churche & suche other lyke founde wyth in the late Monastery ther at the tyme of the Dyssolucon of the same howse soulde by the Kynges Commissionors to the honrable Edward Erie of Derby the xxj day of October in the xxx yere of Kyng Henry the viijth.

The Churche Fyrst halfe a dosoun of oulde Antyke clothes, j fayre table of Aler Baster, ij Candlestykes of latenn on the Alter, j great lectroun of latenn, ij great Candlestykes of latenn the Mounkes seattes in the quere, j oulde laumpe in the quere, iiij ould alters in the Iles, iiij alters of Alebaster in the body of the Churche the Crusifyx, xij Candulstykes of latenn before the same, j pticion of Tymber in the body of the Churche sould for xliiijs.
It. the pauyng of the Churche & the Iles wythe the grauestones And all the glasse Jeroun[237] & the tymber Roffes of the same churche & also the Iles ther of ar sould for xiijli. vjs. viijd.
The Vestrye It. one sute of vestmentes of blue sylke inbroderyd wyth goulde & j Cope of the same, j cope of oulde redd veluet & ij tow tynacles set wyth grene & whyte j sute of branched sylke imbroderyd wyth goulde, j sute of Branchyd sylke spotted wyth whyte & grene wt. byrdes of goulde & j Cope of the same, j sute of yelow Sylke imbroyderyd [238] wt. redd sylke & on Cope of the same, j suyt of redd saye & fustyoun spotted lx. s. Roses & a Cope of the same, j Cope of oulde redd Veluett spotted wyth sters, j Cope of grene and redd sylke imbroydered to gether spottyd wyth lyans, j oulde cope of cloth peinted wt. youle,[238] j vestment of grene baudekyne, j vestment of whyte baudekynne, j vestment of grene and dune sylke, j vestment of ij Tynacles of Cranecoleryd sylke lxs.
The Cloyster It. the glasse Jeroun the Mounkes settes, the Roffes of the seid Cloyster & a lauar[239] glasse & Jeron in the Chapiter house ar sould for lxvjs. viijd.
The Dorter frater
& farmery
It. glasse Jeroun & oulde deskes in the dorter
It. the tymber of the frater & farmery ar soulde for
lxvjs. viijd.
The Corner
It. ther, j matres, j fetherbed, j Boulster, j Blankett, ij pyllowes, j couerlett, j Tester of dornyx, j fouldyng table, j Chayr wyth a Cusshyon the hengyng of say wt. one matres in the inner Chamber ar soulde for xvjs. viijd.
The Ryders
It. ther, ij Bedsteddes, j Cupborde, j Chayre wt. j Cusshyon a Tester & the hengyng of payented clothe soulde for iijs.
The Butelers
It. j matres, iiij Couerlettes, ij pyllowes, j fetherbedd, j boulster soulde for xs.
The Hale It. ther, iij Tables, iij formes, j Cupborde & j oulde hengyng soulde for iiijs.
The Buttery It. ther, v borde Clothes v napkyns, iij peuter saltes wt. i Cyner, j oulde Cheste & j shorte borde wt. ij Trestulles soulde for[239] vijs.
The larder It. ther, j saltyngfatt, j Troffe, iiij Bordes & ij Tubbes soulde iiijs.
It. v great braspottes & iiij smale pannes, j Cauderoune, iij spyttes, j skyelett[240], ij Cupbordes, j fyerforke, j fleshoke, j fryengpanne, ij cressettes[241], j gryderoune, xxxviij platters, dysshes & saucers, j brasen morter wt. a pestell, ij Choppyngknyues, j dressyng knyffe, j Almery, j grater, ij dressyng bordes, ij Chafyngdyshys & Skimmer of brasse soulde for iiijli. xxd.
The brewe
It. ther, iij leades, j masshyng fatt, xij kelers[242] of leade, ij yelyng fattes, j table before the ouenne & j sestyroune[243] soulde for vjli. xjs. xd.
The boultyng
It. ther, j Boultyng huche & certein oulde troffes & tubbes xijd.
The laborars
It. ther, ij materes, ij couerlettes, j borde & j forme sould for xxd.
Catell It. vj Oxenne, iiijli. xs., It. lx. Ewys & lammes lxvj. s. viijd. It. iij horses xxs. It. xiij Swynne soulde for xiijs. iiijd. ixli. xs.
Grayne It. vijxx[244] xix bz. of otes xjli. xixs. It. j quart. ij bz. di. of Rye xxjs. It. xxix lodes of haye soulde for lxs xvjli.
The summe totall of all the goodes aforeseid is lxiijli. xiiijs. xd.
gyuen to
Abbott and
Conuent of
the seid Mon.
at the tyme of
the dissolucon
of the
Fyrst to Thomas Whitney
abbott ther vjli.
It. to Sr. Henry Benett ls.
It. to Sr. George Ferny ls.
It. to Sr. Rauffe Motessott7emsp;xls.
It. to Sr. Randall Barnes xls.
It. to Sr. Willm Crosse xls.
It. to Sr. Robt. Cheryngton xls.
It. to Sr. Edmund bolton xls.
It. to Sr. Willm prowdluffe xls.
It. to Sr. Thomas loke xls.
It. to Sr. Richard Cordon xls.
It. to Sr. John Bykerton xls.[240]
xxxjli. xs. xlvli. xvs. xd.
gyuen to the
ther the
same tyme
It. to Anthony Colclegh xxs.
It. to John Jorell xs.
It. to John Wood xvs.
It. to John feirfeld xvs.
It. to Hughe palyn xvs.
It. to Will’m Rudeyerd xvs.
It. to Thomas Vygours vijs. vjd.
It. to Robt. Hardyng iijs. ixd.
It. to Thomas Calcott vs.
It. to   [sic] bartram xvs.
It. to Edmud plumber xxs.
It. to Roger Tatten iijs. ixd.
It. to peter Woodworte vs.
It. to Robt. Wardell xs.
It. to Jamys Dadam xvs.
It. to Richard Vigours vijs. vjd.
It. to Henry Symson vijs. vjd.
It. to Thomas Tatten vs.
It. to John Fyney vijs. vjd.
It. to John Stele vs.
It. to Roger Cocker vijs. vjd.
It. to Rychard Dale iijs. iiijd.
It. to John banne vs.
It. to Ric. Heygrevez xvs.
It. to John newlys xvs.
It. to Thomas Walle
It. to Thomas Masse vijs. vjd.
It. to Ric. Buchyngham
It. to Rauffe Chester vijs. vjd.
It. to Jamys Hardyng xvijs. vjd.
xiiijli. vs. xd. See above.
Almes gyuen
to the
anders and
pore Bede
Women ther
It. to Agnes Whytt, to the Wyffe of John Strettell, to Margery poole, to Secily brempett, to Jone Coke, to Matild Wyburley, to the Wyffe of Flyxton, & to the Wyffe of Robt. Rudyer xxvjs. viijd.
Cates bought It. in Cates bought & spente at the tyme of the Commissionors being ther for to dyssolue the seid Mon & for the saffe kepyng of the Guddes and Catell ther founde &c. xli. xvijs.
The summe of the paymentes aforeseid is lvijli. xixs. vjd.[241]
Md. ther remayneth a specialtie of xxli. upon the honorable Edward Erle of Derby for the goodes & Catell ther by hym bowght payable at the feast of Seynt Andrewe thappostill wch shalbe in the yere of our lorde god MI. Dxxxix xxli.
And so remayneth in the seid Commissionours Handes nl. for they haue payed more then the [sic] haue Receuyd by ye sume of xiiijli.
iiijs. viijd.
Certeyn guddes or stuffe Remaynyng vnsould late belongyng to the seyd late Monastery
Gylte plate It. iij Chalesys and the head of a Crosestaffe all gylt wayeng iiijxx vij oz.
Whyte plate It. broken plate whych was ouer a Crosse of wood & xj spounes all whytt weyng xxx oz.
It. ther ys estemyd to be Ciiijxx foters[245] of leade valued at [sic] the fother DCCxxli.
It. ther remayneth vj belles weyng 1 hundreth valued at xxxvijli. xs.

Md. ther remayneth all the howses edyfyed upon the scite of the seid late Mon. the pauement the grauestones glasse Jeroune tymber & Roffes of the Churche & Ilez to yt adioynyng the glasse Jeron and Roffes of the Cloyster the glasse Jeron of the Chapiter house the glasse & Jeron in the Dorter & ye tymber of the fratreter & farmery only excerp and soulde

Md. that the seid honerable Erle of Derby was put in possession of the seid late Mon & the Demaynez to yt Apptenyng to our soueraygne lorde the Kynges vse the xxj day of Octobr in the xxx yere of or. seid soueraigne lorde Kyng Henry the viijth


Pencions & stypendes appoynted & allotted to the late abbott and Couent of the forseyd late Monastery by the forseid Commissionors
Fyrst to Thomas Wytney late abbott lxli.
It. to Robert Bageley pryor vjli.
It. to Henry Benett vjli.
It. to George Farny vjli.
It. to Rauffe Motsett cvjs. viijd.
It. to Randall Barnes cvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Crosse cvjs. viijd.
It. to Robt. Cheryngtoun cvjs. viijd.
It. to Edmund Boultoun cs.
It. to Willm prowluffe cs.
It. to Thomas loke xls.
It. to Rychard Cordon xls.
It. to John Bykertoun xls.
Summa cxvli. vjs. viijd.
Fees and Annuites graunted owt by Couent sealle before the dyssolucon of the seid late Monastery
Fyrst to my lorde of Darby stuard of the seid Monastery & the towne and maner of loke xls.
It. to Rychard Grosuenour stuard of pultoun xxvjs. viijd.
It. to Vmfrey Witney Balyffe of all the lorsheppes & Maners belonging to the seid Monastery
Wythin the Countye of Chester
lxvjs. viijd.
It. to Willm Damport Balyff of all the lordshyppes & maners of the seid late Mon. in the Countye of Stafford except the Toune of loke iiijli.
It. to Robt. Burgh forester of the forest of loke belongyng to the seid late Monastery [sic]
It. to John Cordoun Balyffe of the toune of loke xxs.
It. to John Alynn Balyff of Rassall Norbroke & bysshopham xxvjs. viijd.
It. to Richard Dann late stuard of housholde ther lxs.
It. to Henry Beretoun xls.
It. to Roger Williamson xxvjs. viijd.
It. to laurence plunte xxs.
It. to John Wytney xxvjs. viijd.
It. to Robt. Warmyngton xls.[243]
It. to Thomas Wytney xxvjs. viijd.
It. to Jamys Coke xxs.
It. to William Halme xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Thomas Redhed xls.
It. to Jamys Statheham xls.
It. to Nycholas Witney lxvjs. viijd.
Summa xxxiiij li.
Dettes owyng by the seid late abbot to diuers psons as folowyth
Fyrst to Henry Hargraues of luddyngtoun xxixli. iiijd.
It. to Elyzabeth Alenn of Rossall xxijli.
It. to John Alenn of Rossall iiijli.
It. to the Wydow Amrye of londin vjli.
It. to Helyn fitton of Sidingtoun xvjli. xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Robt. Burgh for oulde dette lxixs. ixd.
It. to Thomas Heth viijli. vjs. viijd.
It. to Robt. Myddeltoun of Islyngtoun xxxs.
It. to Thomas Maynewaryng of londondon [sic] xxvjs viijd
It. to Thomas Ball of Chester xlvjs viijd
It. to Jamys Colyar viijli. xvs. vijd.
It. to Robt. Wandell lxvjs. viijd.
It. to Willim Nyckted person of Rollestoun xlvjs. viijd.
It. to John lokker chepelleyn of ypstons xxxvs. viijd.
It. to Willm Heth of parkelown xvs.
It. to Roger Williamson iiijli.
It. to John Higgenboth xxviijs. iiijd.
It. to John gudwyn Chapelayne of Chedton iijs. iiijd.
It. to Hery bennett vjli. xiijs. iiijd.
It. to Thomas Hattoun xliiijs.
It. to Richard Hyggenbothe xvs. vjd.
It. to John Cheryngton xls.
It. to the pisshionors of Sandbath vjli.
It. to Willm Dauenport xxvs.
It. to Vmfrey Reynould ciijs. iiijd.
It. to John Hale iijs.
It. to Richard Vygors xvjs.
It. to John Wood xxiijs.
It. to Roger Tatton xs.
It. to John Fayrfeld xijs. iiijd.
It. to Hugh palenn ixs.
It. to Henry Symson viijs.
It. to Rychard Hergreues xxxjs. viijd.
It. to John Feny ixs. viijd.[244]
It. to Thomas Cattoun ijs.
It. to James Coke xlviijs. ix d.
It. to Xpofer Crowther iijs. iiijd.
It. to Edward plummer vijs. iiijd.
It. to Jamys Vygors taylor xiijs. xjd.
It. to Willm Rame of Newboulte xli.
It. to Sr. Thomas Arundell Knyght liijs. iiijd.
It. to Sr. Robt. Nedham Knyght xxxiijs. iiijd.
It. to Robt. Warmingtoun for hys fee xxs.
It. to Dan Wllm Crosse xls.
It. to Willm feni lxs.
Summa clxxjli. xs. vjd.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11,041, fol. 86b)

The Grey ffryers
of Staff. surrendryd
The Sale of goodes ther made the xxvijth day of September, anno xxxmo. Henrici viijui ., as herafter followyth
Sol. Fyrst, sold to the warden of the seyd fryers ij brasse pottes viijs.
Sol. Item, ij brasse pottes, sold to Edward Scudamour iiijs
Sol. Item, sold to the towene of Stafford ij Church candelstyckes vs.
Sol. Item, sold to the seyd Scudamour ij coberds, (xiid.); a cobert; a spytt, (vid.); and a tryvett xviijd.
Sol. Item, sold to the wardene vj platters ijs.
Sol. Item, a fryeng panne (iiijd.) and a peyre (ijd.) of pothangles, sold to the seyd Scudamour vjd.
Sol. Item, ij pannes, sold to ... vid.
Sol. Item, sold to the bayliff of Staff. a potthangles viij. d.
Summa xxijs. ijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Doryngton, a gret basen xxd.
Summa patet
Sol. Item, a cope of tawny damaske xijd.
Sol. Item, a vestment and ij tynakles of old prest velvet, sold to John Savage baylyf xiijd. iiijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Thomas Williams ij copes of redd tartarne xiid.[246]
Sol. Item, a sute of blue sarcenet, sold to Thomas Cradock iijs. iiijd.
Sol. Item, a sute of grene branchyd sylk, sold to Mr. Offeley vj. viijd.
Sol. Item, ij tynakles of dunne sylk, sold to Pereson xxd.
Sol. Item, ij auter clothes, sold to Robert Doryngton xijd.
Sol. Item, a cope of lynyn cloth steynyd, sold to a fryer iiijd.
Sol. Item, ij table clothes, sold to John a Lee vjd
Sol. Item, ij corperas casys, sold to the prior iiijd.
Sol. Item, a corperas, sold to the
wardens of the churche
Sol. Item, sold to William Bentrey a stremer of lynyn clothe iiijd.
Sol. Item, a vestment of blue fustian and one of whyt diaper, sold to fryere
Sol. Item, a sute of vestmentes of yolowe say, sold to Edward Rogers xijd.
Sol. Item, sold to John Webbe the tymber worke in the hyegh quyer, and a auter of alablaster in the body of the churche ixs. viijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Rychard Lees all the setes vjd.
Sol. Item, a table of allablaster standyng in the church, sold to Mr. Loveson ijs. viijd.
Sol. Item in Seynt Fraunces chapelle all the seates, sold to Robert Doryngton iiijd.
Sol. Item, a image of Seynt Katerine, sold to ... Lee vjd.
Sol. Item, sold to Robert Doryngton, old bokes and a cofer in the library ijs.
Sol. Item, sold a old peyre of portatyffe organs to Mr. Lvsun ijs.
Sol. Item, an old cofer, in the vestry, sold to Janys Clement ijs. viijd.
Sol. Item, old wexe, sold to Robert Doryngton iiijd.[247]
Sol. Item, a lampe, sold to Robert Doryngton viijd.
Sol. Item, old bokes in the vestry, sold to the same Robert viijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Robert Whytgreve, a missale viijd.
Sol. Item, ij aulter candelstyckes and a pykes of copper, sold to Mr. Swynnerton xijd.
Sol. Item, a bere franke, sold to ... ijd.
Summa lvs. viijd.
Sol. Item, sold to the vnder baylyff and to the late warden of the Fryers iij leades, one to brue in, and ij to kele in, fates,[246] iiij tubbes, a bultyng hutche, and a knedyng trowghe xiiijs. viijd.
Sol. Item, ij peces of tymber lyeng in the bruehouse, sold to Bagnoll iiijd.
Summa xvs.
Sol. Item, a table on the north syde of the hall sold to Robert Danes xvjd.
Sol. Item, sold to the hyeghe baylyff, the table on the sowth syde of the hall xvjd.
Sol. Item, sold to Robert Wetwood, the table at the hyeghe deske viijd.
Summa iijs. iiijd.
Item, sold to Jamys Lusone esquyer all the church and quyer, with all edyfyenges and buyldynges within the precinct of the Fryers Minours surrendryd, with all the stone, tymber, tyle, glasse, and iron in the same, ledd and belles only exceptyd, and also exceptyd and reservyd the stone wall next unto the towne of Stafford xxixli. xxd. pro.
qua quidem
summa prefatus
Jacobus obligat.
inter al. ad solvend.
ad fest.
Pur. beate Marie
et Nativitat.
sancti Johannis
Sol. Item, sold to the towneshyp, the wall of the Fryers next unto the towne iijs. iiijd.
Summa xxixli. vs.[248]
Sum of all the goodes
and buyldynges of the seyd ffryers sold
xxxiiijli. iijs. xd. R’ by John
esquyer, r.
cjs. ijd.
Item, ij belles, one a sauncebelle,[247] the other by estimation Xcth, in the custodye of Mr. Luson.
Item, in ledd upon the quyer and a chapelle by estimation xlv. fotes brode of bothe sydes and xliij fotes long, in the custody of baylyffes of Stafford.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11,041, fol. 87b)

The Austen
Fryers of Staff.
The sales of goodes ther made the xxvijth day of September, anno xxxmo Regis Henrici viij.
Sol. Fyrst, sold to Mr. Whytgreve, a masse boke xijd.
Sol. Item, a cope of blake chamlett, sold ijs.
R.B. Item, a vestment and ij tynaklez of blake say with albes and amyses, etc., sold to Richard Ward iiijs.
R.B. Item, a vestment and ij tynakles of tawny sarcenett, sold to ... iiijs.
R.B. Item, a vestment and ij tynakles without albes of bawdekyn with images of our lady, sold to Mr. Luson xviijd.
R.B. Item, ij tynakles with albes, bawdekyn with bryddes, sold to ... Affley iijs. iiijd.
R.B. Item, a syngle vestment with a albe and a blake orferuns, sold xxd.
R.B. Item, a vestment of redd fustyan with ij albes ijs. viijd.
Sol. Item, ij old copes, one of grene and another of old badkyn parke worke ijs.
R.B. Item, ij copes grene and yolowe partye Colowryd and rewyd, sold to Mr. Luson xxijd.
R.B. Item, iiij corperas casys viijd.
R.B. Item, a peyre of censours, sold to Thomas Browne iiijd.[250]
R.B. Item, a vestment of white bustion, sold to the prior viijd.
I.S. Item, ij candelstyckes xvjd.
I.S. Item, a alter cloth viijd.
I.S. Item, old bokes in the quyer vjd.
R.B. Item, a pulpytt iiijd.
I.S. Item, ij ladders viijd.
R.B. Item, a table of alablaster (iijs. viijd.) and a dore (iiijd) sold to Mr.
R.B. Item, the hyegh alter, sold to Mr. Stamford iijs.
R.B. Item, the bordes of the altar of the northe syde of the church viijd.
I.S. Item, ij grave stones of alablast, sold to ... Wolrych xijd.
I.S. Item, the organs, sold to Mr. Offeley xxvjs. viijd.
I.S. Item, a table in the old hall with ij trestylles iiijd.
R.B. Item, a table in the inner hall, with ij trestylles and ij formes, sold to Robert Doryngton viijd.
R.B. Item, a bultyng table, sold to Margarett Whytfyld ijd.
R.B. Item, a furnes of ledd, sold to Mr. Stamford vjs.
I.S. Item, a great pot and a lesse iijs. iiijd.
R.B. Item, iij pannes of brasse ijs. viijd.
R.B. Item, iij platters, a dysshe, and a sawecere xijd.
R.B. Item, a trevett iiijd.
Summa lxxixs.[251]
rec. xls. Item, sold to Jamys Loveson esquyer, Thomas Picto, and Richard Warde, all the tyle, shyngle, tymber, stone, glasse and iron, one marble graue stone, the pauementes of the church, quyer, and chapelles, with rode lofte, the pyctures of Cryst, Mary and John, beyng in the church and chauncell of the Austen Fryers, besydes the towne of Stafford, surrendryd with all other superfluos edyfyes and buyldynges within the precynct of the seyd Fryers, to be takyn downe, defacyd, and caryed awey by the seyd Loveson, Picto, and Ward, at there owne proper costes and charges, and to pay for all the premysses to the Kyng and hys heyres, successors and assignes xxviijli. viijs. iiijd.
Inde sol. pro Picto
xls. et rem. xxvjl.
viijs. iiijd. pro qua
quidem summa
Jacobus Loveson
de Woleverhampton.
Ar. obligat.
inter al. ad fest.>br>Pur. beate Marie
virginis et Nat.
Sancti Johannis
prox. equal. ut
patet obligac. dat.
Sept. anno xxxmo.
regis enrici viij
rem. cum J.
Scudamour ar. rec.
Sum of all the goodes and edyfyenges forseyd in the Austen Fryres sold xxxij. vjs. viijd. Rec. per J. S. cxviijs.
Super. pro edific.
xxvjli. viijs. iiijd.
Item, there remaynyth in the custodye of Robert Burgoyne, audytour, one playne crosse of copper, with a lytle image of Cryst sylver apon hyt, worth by estimation iijs. iiijd.
Item, remaynyth in the custodye of John Scudamore esquyer, particuler receivor etc., one lytle woodden crosse platyd over verry thyn with sylver, worth by estimation xijd.
Item, ther remaynyth in the steple one belle, by estimation x Cth in the custodye of Thomas Picto, worth by estimation viijli.
Item, one lytle belle in the steple, weyng by estimation di. Cth, worth by estimation viijs.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11,041, fol. 88b)

Prisours Robert Ryve
William Colman
Marke Wyrley
Thomas Fanne
Grey Fryers
of Lychefyld
The Sales ther made the iiijth day of October, anno xxxo regis Henrici viijui
Sol. ffyrst sold to Mr. Strete all the copes, vestments, and tynakles in gros for xls.
Sol. Item, sold to the seyd Mr. Strete ij > candelstyckes of latten viijd.
Sol. Item, the pauyng tyle in both the cloysters, sold to Mr. Strete xls.
Sol. Item, sold to Thomas Bardell, ij candelstykes viijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Sir Thomas Dobsone, a presse, a bedstede, and a dore iiijd.
Sol. Item, the tymber, tyle, and stone of the old hostery and the ffermery, sold
to Rychard Rawson
Sol. Item, the tyle and tymber of the lytle cloyster, sold to John ap Gl’m. xiijs. iiijd.
Sol. Item, ij worte leddes[248] in the bruehouse, sold to John Sandelond vjs. viiijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Mr. Aston, a wynd ijs.
Sol. Item, sold to Thomas Fanne, the brycke wall at the churche ende ijs.
Sol. Item, sold to the master of the Ile, > a fate in the bruehouse iiijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Chapman, a fate xijd.[253]
Item, sold to John Genynges, the tymber, tyle, and stone of the stable
buttyng upon the churche ende
Item, sold to John Mylward, the tymber, tyle, and stone of the iij houses joynyng together in the court callyd the Tenys Court xls.
Item, sold to Rychard Ballard, the lytle house over the ovyn iijs. iiijd.
Item, sold to Mr. Ryce, mastres Warden, mastres Stonye, vij leddes
for wort
Item, the tymber, tyle, and stone of the kechyn and the bruehouse, sold to Edward Spratte liijs. iiijd.
Item, sold to John Laughton, a cofere and a hutche in the buttery xijd.
Item, the cesterne of ledd, and the stone that hyt standyth in, in the kechyn, sold to John Genynges xiijs. iiijd.
Item, the glasse that ys lewse in the newe loggyng, sold to William Colman iijs.
Item, a lampe, sold to Edmund Bardell viijd.
Item, the presse in the vestrye, sold to the warden of the gyld xvjd.
Item, ij hutches, sold to Mr. Warden viijd.
Item, a fryers masse boke, solde to Marke Wyrley iiijd.
Item, the stone wall betwene the old ostery and the ffrater, sold to John Sadeler vs.
Item, the pauement of the quyere, sold to Mr. Stretes xiijs. iiijd.
Item the fryers setes in the quyere, sold to John Laughton vjs. viijd.
Item, the cundyt of ledd in the cloyster, sold to the master of the gyld and his brethern xxxs.[254]
Sol. Item, a holy water stocke, sold to John Howlat xxd.
Sol. Item, all the kechyn stuff, sold to master warden of the gyld xxs.
Sol. Item, ij standert candelstyckes, sold to the seyd master warden viijs.
Sol. Item, the lytle cundyt standyng at the revestrye dore, sold to George Stonyng vs.
Sol. Item, the cesterne of ledd standyng in the porche at the Tenys Court ende, sold to Mr. Lytleton xxs.
Sol. Item, a lytle porche standyng by the dwellyng house, sold to Mr. Lytylton xs.
xxjli. iijs.
Item, the ffrayter and the chambers stretchyng to the kechyn, with all the quadrant of the inner cloyster joynyng to the church and steple, and the church and quyer, and the long newe house of the est syde of the same cloyster, except and reseruyd ledd, belles, pauement, and grauestones within all the seyd buyldynges, save only the pauement of the seyd churche, whyche ys parcell of the seyd bargayne, sold to John Weston of Lichfeld, John Archer, Richard Cotes, gent., Hugh Bowde, Harry Hopwood draper, Michaell Hyll, John Genynges and John Mylward, and hath day to deface the steple, cloyster, and quyer forthwyth the churche, onles they obtayne lycens otherwyse of the Kyng and hys councell, athys-side the feast of the Purification of our Lady next commyng, and for all the residewe of the buyldynges iij yeres day[249] to pull downe and carye awey, and to have egresse and regresse for the same xlijli. xiijs. iiijd.
Inde sol. J. S.
xxjli. iijs. iiijd.
Et rem. xxjli. xs.
pro qua quidem
summa Johannes
Johannes Archer,
Cotes et Hugo
Bowde, obligat.
ad sol. ad fest.
sancti Michaelis
archangeli prox.
ut patet oblig.
dat. quinto die
Octobr. anno
regni regis Henrici
viijui. xxx.
rem. cum Johanne
ar. r. partic. etc.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11,041, fol. 89b)

Crokesden—The sales ther made the xvth day of October, anno xxxo regis Henrici viijui as herafter followyth:

Sol. Item, a lytle gatehouse on the north syde of the comyn wey, sold to Mr. Bassett xiijs. iiijd.
Sol. Item, sold to Mr. Bassett, the loft under the organs xs.
Sol. Item, sold to Mr. Bassett, the lytle smythes forge iiijs. viijd.
Sol. Item, the bott of an asshe sold xxd.
Sol. Item, the roffe of the churche, sold to Sir Thomas Gylbert and Edmund Wetheryns of Chekeley parysshe vjli.
r. xxxiijs. Item, the roffe of the dorter,[250] sold to Mr. Bassett xxxiijs. iiijd.
Sol. Item, sold to John Ferne, all the old tymber in the cloyster vjs. viijd.
Summa, ixli. ixs. viijd. oneratur.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11041, fol. 89b)

Rouceter—The sales there made, the xvjth day of October, anno xxxo regis Henrici viij.

Sol. Item, the glasse and iron in the wyndowes of Seynt Michaelles chapell, sold to John Forman iijs. iiijd.
Sol. Item, the tymber of the seyd chapell, sold to William Loghtonhouse vijs. vjd.
Sol. Item, the shyngle of the same chapell, sold to William Bagnall viijd.
Summa: xjs. vjd. oneratur.



(British Museum, Addit. MS. No. 11,041, fol. 90)

Hylton—The Sales ther made, the xxjth day of October, anno xxxo regis Henrici viijui.

rec. iiijli.
Item, sold to Stephen Bagott, gent. thre belles, a grett ..., for the somme of nynetene poundes syxtene shyllynges, after the rate of xviijs. the hundredd xixli. xvjs. inde sol. J. S. ar. iiijli.
et rem. xvli. xvjs. pro qua quidem
summa prefatus Stephanus oblig.
solvend. ad festum sancti Michaelis
archangeli prox. ut patet
oblig. gerent. dat. xxio die Ottobr.
anno xxxo regis Henrici viij cum
Johanne Scudamour ar. rec. rem.



(P.R.O. Augmentation Office. Miscell. Books. Vol. 400, ff. 60–76) Transcript.

[fol. 60] [Being outside cover of inventory.]

Remembraunc for mr Skudeamor’

Phylipp Skudeamore to be a scoler in the Kynges
new colledge in oxfford
p Ann xxxviijuo

[fol. 61 blank]
[fol. 62] [21 Nov., 1545]
An Inventorye takyn the xxjth day of Nouember in the xxxvijth yere of the reign of or sou’aign lord Henry the viijth by the grace of god Kyng of Englond Fraunce & Irelond Defender of the Feyth & in Erthe sup’me Hedd of the Church of Englond & also of Irelond by Richard Goodryck & John Scudamore Esquyers appoyntyd by the Ryght Worshypfull s Edward North Knyght chauncellor of the Kynges maiesties most honorable Court of Augmentacons in the name of the Kyng or sou’aign lord of all the plate Juelles Ornamentes of the Church Wt all the goodes & cattalles belongeyng & appteynyng vnto the late Colledge of Burton vpon Trent in the Countie of Staff’ surrendryd & prisyd by Walt’ Charnell[251] & John Norton gent. Willm Murcott Richard Whyttell Willm Meycock & John Browne

Plate of the Church

Fyrst iiijor Challys Wt ther patentes gylt Weyng xlix oz. di.
Itm ij Challys Wt ther patentes Whytt Weyng xxxiij oz. iij qart’s.[259]
Itm A Shypp Wt a Spone Whytt Weyng xii oz. qart’.
Itm ij Sensors Whytt Weyng xlvij oz.
Itm the Garnysshyng of A Crosse pcell gylt Weyng vi oz.
Itm the garnysshyng of a gospell boke pcell gylt Weyng xviij oz. di.
Sma of the
ounces of the
seyd plate
pcell guylt
xxxiiij oz. di. exr.
xlix oz. di. exr.
iiijxx xiij oz. exr.
[fol. 63]

Ornaments of the Church

Itm a vestment & ij tynakles of
old Cheker velfett redd & blue Wt albes
Itm a Chesable of Blue tartron Wt lions & ij tynakles of blue tartron Wt half moones & bryddes & albes therunto xxs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of black velfett old & bare traylyd Wt grene & Wt Whytt Daysyes xvs.
Itm an old Aut’ Front of Redd Sylke braunchyd wt Copp gold iiis.
Itm an old Aut’ Front of Cheker Worke iis.
Itm an old blue pall of tartron Wt. Daysies iis.
Itm an old pall of tawnye sylke Wt gart’s xxd.
Itm an old pece of a pall of gyng’ Collor sylke xvjd.
Itm a pece of a old pall of black >Worstede Wt Starres xijd.
Itm an old bann’ Cloth of Sylke viijd.
Itm a Cope of blue tartron Wt lyons & bryddes vis. viijd.
Itm a Cope of old & base redd velfett Wt lyons & brokyn xs.
Itm a Cope of Crymsyn velfett braunchyd xs.[260]
Itm iij Copes of Count’fett Redd bawdekyn xxs.
Itm a Cope of brokyn velfett Wt Daysyes vs.
Itm a Cope of old Redd Count’fett bawdekyn viijs.
Itm a Cope of Whyt sylke Wt Wheate eares vs.
Itm an old Cope of Cheker velfett iijs. iiijd.
Itm V Copes of Count’fett bawdekyn xxvs.
Itm one old Cope of Whyt sylke vs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Whytt Saye Wt gart’s & thalbes vjs. viijd.
[fol. 64]
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Redd Saye Wt thalbes vs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of grene Dornyxe Wt albes vs.
Itm a vestment & ij tynakles of old count’fett bawdekyn wt thalbes xs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Whyt bustian wt thalbes iijs. iiijd.
Itm a old vestmt & ij tynakles of Redd sylke wt Flowres & >thalbes iiijs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Whyt bustian xijd.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of >blue sylke Wt Whyt Dasyes & thalbes xs.
Itm a vestmt of Redd & Whytt Dornyxe iijs.
Itm an Aut’ Front of redd & grene sylke wt vnycornes xvjd.
Itm a vestmt of Whyt fustyan Wt a redd Crosse viijd.
Itm a vestmt of old grene Damaske Wt an albe ijs.[261]
Itm a vestmt of tawnye sylke Wt yelowe bryddes & flowres
& lyons
Itm a vestmt of Whytt & tawnye sylke Wt Flowres xxd.
Itm a vestmt of black Worstede ijs.
Itm viij albes xxs.
Itm iij quysshynges[252] viijd.
Itm the p’sse for the Copes xijd.
Itm ij grett Candelstyckes of latton vs.
Itm iiij Small Candelstyckes of latton ijs.
Itm a lectorne of Brasse xxs.
[fol. 65]
Itm ij peyr of Organsvjs viijd.
Itm one other peyr of organs vjs. viijd.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Count’fett tyssue Wt thalbes to the same vjd.
dd. to the Thes.[253]
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Redd velfett braunchyd Wt Flowres & ij albes ls.
Itm an Aut’ Front of Crymsyn velfett & Cloth of gold Wt Raysyd velfett xxxs.
Itm a Cope of tawnye velfett braunchyd Wt Flowres xxvjs.
Itm ij Copes of blewe velfett Wt Flowres liijs. iiijd.
Itm vij Copes of Whyt Damaske Wt Flowres & sylke lxxs.
gevyn to the
Church of
Itm A Sute of Westmts of
Whyt Damaske
lvjs. viijd.
Itm An Aut’ Front of Whyt Damaske Wt the Salutacon of or lady xs.
Itm a Canope of Redd Sylke Flowryd Wt Collors iiijs.
Itm a peyr of Organs vjs.


[fol. 66]

Implem’tes & Stuff of Howsehold

Itm ij table bourdes V trestylles iij formes one benche Wt bordes at the Wall iijs. geaven to
mr Secretary
Itm one cupbord iiijd.
Itm one peyr of small Andyrons xijd.
Itm one Fyre forke & A old Fyre Shouell iiijd.
The Buttrye Itm iij old brokyn table Clothes Whereof one of Diap & iij towelles viijd.
Itm a basen & A Ewyer of pewt’ xvjd.
Itm iiij Candelstyckes of brasse xvjd.
Itm ij small standes for ale vjd.
Itm an alm’ye & a Cofer for bredd xijd.
The Kechyn Itm iij small brasse pottes iijs.
Itm ij small brasse pannes & one lytle Cawdron xvjd.
Itm one ther lytle Cawdron of brasse viijd.
Itm one Chaffron xxd.
Itm x platt’s (iijs iiijd) v pot tyngers & v Sawcers (ijs vjd) vs. xd
Itm x Count’fett Dysshes xxd.
Itm A Charger viijd.
Itm A Mort’ of brasse & A pestell of Iron ijs.
Itm iij pothangles & A barre of Iron xvjd.
Itm one gredyron iiijd. one old alm’ye ijd & A must’d mylle iiijd. xd.
Itm a peyr of Cob’tes & ij broches xxd.
The bruehowse
& bakehowse
Itm ij furnes of ledd xxvjs. viijd.
Itm xiij Wort leddes in iij frames xxijs.
Itm one grett malt Fate vs.
Itm one yelyng Fate vs.
Itm a Cest’ne of ledd xxvjs. viijd.
[fol. 67]]


Itm a p’sse & a trowgh iijs. £ s. d.
vij iij ij
geaven to
mr S. pagott
Itm a table bord viijd.
Itm a bultyng Whynch iiijd.
Itm ij treddes ijs. & ij. trowghes viijd. ijs. viijd.
Itm a Moldyng table vjd.
The Garden Itm ij gable Ropes ijs.
Itm certen old ledd of glasse Wyndowes ijs iiij.
Itm iij pypes of ledd & a pece of ledd vs.
Itm certen old tymb’ vnder the garden & other old trasshe of Frontes of tymb’ & Images iijs. iiijd
Itm one old lytle Fate viijd.
Itm certen Shyngle xijd.
Itm a old ladder ijd.
The grett Hall Itm iiij table bordes Wt trestelles & Formes xvjd.
The Entrye
goying into
ye Deanes
Itm a table bord & ij formes viijd.
The gret
Itm the Hangynges of Steynyd Saye xxd.
The Kynges
Itm the Hangynges of grene saye xxd.
The vtt’ Hall Itm ij bordes Wt iiij formes viijd.
Summa Totalis of the seyd Inuentorye xljli. xiijs. ijd.
vij^{li.} iiij^{s.} iij^{d. Forasmoche as these pcelles to ye value of vijli. iiijs. iijd. [sic] byn delyu’yd by the Kynges Ma’tes Offyc’s to s Wyllm Patgett[254] Knyght for Whych he ys to answer the Kynges Hyghnes Sythens Whych tyme the seyd s Wyllm Patgett hathe grawntyd oyr Implymtes of hys beynge at the spytalles of Kepyer[255] to the[264] Kynges Ma’te beyng also of greater value Make therefore a dyscharge of the seyd vijli. iiijs. iijd. and Redelyu’ that Was made for the seid accordynglye Edward North
Richard Goodrick.
John Scudamore.
[fol. 68]
Heraft’ ensuyth the Salez made by the seyd Richard Goodryck & John Scudamore at the tyme of ther beyng at Burton aforeseyd.
Itm sold to Willm Dethyck Esquyer a vestmt & ij tynakles of old cheker velfett redd & blue Wt the albes xxs.
Itm a Chesable of blue tartron Wt lyons & ij tynakles of blue tartron Wt half Moones & bryddes Wt thalbes sold to s Phelyp Draycott Knyght xxs.
Itm sold to s Willm Bassett[256] Knyght a vestmt & ij tynakles of black velfett traylyd Wt grene & Whyt Daysies xvs.
Itm sold to s Robt More An old Aut’r Front of Redd sylke braunchyd Wt Copp gold iijs.
Itm sold to mr Dethyck an old brokyn Front of Cheker velfett ijs.
Itm a blue pall off tartron Wt Daysies sold to s. Willm Bassett ijs.
Itm A pece of A old pall of gyng’ Collor sylke & A pall of tawnye sylke iijs.
Itm sold to John Stone a pece of a old pall of black Worstede & a old bann’ Clothe of Sylke xxd.[265]
Itm a Cope of blue tartron Wt lyons & bryddes sold to s Phelyp Draycott Knyght vjs. viijd.
Itm a Cope of old base Redd velfett Wt lyons sold to s Phelyp Draycott xijs. iiijd.
Itm a Cope of Crymsyn velfett braunchyd sold to s Phelyp Draycott xiijs. iiijd.
Itm iij Copes of Count’fett bawdekyn Redd sold to mr Dethyck & mr Charnell xxs.
Itm A Cope of brokyn velfett Wt Daysyes & a old Cope of Redd count’fett bawdekyn sold to mr Dethyck xvjs.
Itm a Cope of Whyt sylke Wt Wheate eares sold to mr Dethyck vs.
[fol. 69]
Itm a Cope of Cheker velfett sold to John ap Gllm iijs. iiijd.
Itm V Copes of Count’fett bawdekyn & a old Cope of Whytt sylke sold to s Willm Bassett Knyght xxxijs.
Itm A vestmt & ij tynakles of Whyt sylke Wt gart’s & thalbes sold to mr Charnell vjs. viijd.
Itm a vestment & ij tynakles of Redd say Wt albes sold to mr Dethyck vs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of grene Dornyxe Wt thalbes sold to mr Welles vs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of old count’fett bawdekyn Wt thalbes sold to s Willm Bassett xs.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Whyt bustian Wt albes sold to mr Dethyck iijs. iiijd.
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of old redd Sylke Wt flowres & thalbes sold to mr Dethyck iiijs.[266]
Itm a vestmt & ij tynakles of Whyt bustian Wtout albes sold to mr Dethyck [xd.]
Itm a vestmt of blewe sylke Wt Whyt Daysies & ij tynakles Wt thalbes sold to mr Dethyck xs.
Itm An Aut’ Front of Redd & grene sylke Wt vnycornes & A vestmt of Whyt fustian Wt a redd Crosse sold to John Stone ijs.
Itm A vestmt of Redd & Whyt Dornyxe sold to mr Dethyck iijs.
Itm A vestmt of old grene Damaske Wt An Albe sold to Robt Benett ijs.
Itm A vestmt of tawnye sylke Wt yolowe bryddes & lyons old & brokyn sold to John ap Gllm xijd.
Itm A vestmt of Whyt & tawnye sylke sold to mr Layton xxd.
Itm A vestmt of black Worstede sold to s Willm Bassett ijs.
[fol. 70]
Itm viijth [sic] Albes sold to mr More xxs.
Itm iij quysshynges sold to s phelyp Draycott viijd.
Itm a p’sse for the Copes sold to George Constantyne xijd.
Itm ij grett Candelstyckes & one lytle peyr of organs sold to s Willm Bassett xiijs.
Itm iiij Small Candelstyckes of latton sold to John Stone ijs.
Itm a lectorne of Brasse sold to thuse of the p’ysshe of Burton xxs.
Itm one peyr of Organs sold to thuse of the p’ysshe of Burton vjs. viijd.
Itm one peyr of organs sold to mr Vnderton iiijs.[267]
Itm one old pyxe of Copp sold to Willm Scudamor[257] xijd.
Itm ij Copes of blue velfett sold to Robt Benett liijs. iiijd
Itm iiij Copes of Whyt Damaske sold to Robt Benett xls.
Itm an Aut’ Front of Redd velfett & Cloth of Bawdekyn raysyd Wt Redd velfett sold to Robt Bennett xxxs.
Summa Summa of the Sales xxjli. iiijs. viijd.
p’. [i.e., probatur] re[m] xxli viijs. vjd.
[fol. 71]

Ornamentes of the Church
dd vnto mr Tresorer

Itm A vestmt & ij tynakles of Count’fett Tysshewe Wt thalbes to the same p’syd at vjli dd to the
Itm A vestmt & ij tynakles of Redd velfett Wt ij albes ls.
Itm A Cope of tawnye velfett Wt An orffryes of Redd Turkye Satten xxvjs.
Itm iij Copes of Whyt Damaske Wt Flowres of nedle Worke Wrowght xxxs.
Summa xjli vjs. viijd.
Receuyd of John Morley at the tyme of the Dischargyng of the late College of Burton vpon Trent in the Countie of Staff for and towardes the paymt of A certen debt by hym owyng to the seyd late College vpon hys accompt then & ther made viz by hys owne handes xxxjli. & by thandes of s Robt More xvijli ijs. iiijd. xlviijli ijs. iiijd.


[fol. 72]
Wages Rewardes & debtes y’ payd the xxiiijth day of Nouemb A° xxxvijmo R. H. viijui by Richard Goodrick & John Scudamore Esquyers Appoynted by the Ryght Worshypfull s Edward North Knyght Chauncellor of the Kynges maiesties most honorable Court of Augmentacon in the name of the Kyng or sou’aign lord for that purpose &c. Aswell to the petye Canons & Syngyngmen Wt other mynysters & s’untes of the late Colledge of Burton vpon Trent as also to such psons to Whom the Deane & Chaptor of the same late Colledge Was Indebtyd vnto as heraft’ ensuyth

Petye Canons neu’[258] Religious

Fyrst to
s Willm Porter
Wages for one qart’ of a yere to be due at Crystmas next ls. iiijli.
Reward xxxs.
Itm to s Willm Myln’ Wages as aforeseyd ls. lxxvjs. viijd.
Reward xxvjs. viijd.
Itm to s Robt Baslowe Wages as aforeseyd ls. ls.
Reward for that he ys appoyntyd to be
ye chief Curat of

Petye Canons late Religious

Itm to s Willm Sutton Wages ls. ls.
Reward nll.
Itm to s John Hyern Wages ls. ls.
Reward nll
Itm to s John Cart’ Wages ls. ls.
Reward nll
Summa xvijli xvjs. viiid.


Itm to s Willm
Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xlvjs. viijd.
Reward xiijs. iiijd.
Summa xlvjs. viijd.
[fol. 73]

Pysteler late Religious

Itm to s Willm Hether Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xxxiijs. iiijd.
Reward nll
Summa xxxiijs. iiijd.



Itm to Arthure Buckenall mr of
the Choryst’s
Wages ls. lxxs.
Reward xxs.
Itm to John Bradshawe Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xlvjs. viijd.
Reward xiijs. iiijd.
Itm to Richard Wylton Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xlvjs. viijd.
Reward xiijs. iiijd.
Itm to Willm Band Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. liijs. iiijd.
Reward xxs.
Itm to John Pem’ton Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xlvjs. viijd.
Reward xiijs. iiijd.
Summa xiijli.] iijs. iiijd.


Itm to Symon Genyns Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. iiijd.
Reward vs.
Itm to John Wylton Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. iiijd.
Reward vs.
Itm to John Wylkynson Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. iiijd.
Reward vs.
Itm to John Buckenall Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. vjd.
Reward vs. ijd.
Itm to Ambrose Tete Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. iiijd.
Reward vs.
[fol. 74]
Itm to John Coke Wages xiijs. iiijd. xviijs. iiijd.
Reward vs.
Summa cxs. ijd.


Itm to John Stone Wages xxs. xxxs.
Reward xs.
Itm to Willm Myln’ Wages xxiijs. iiijd. xxxs.
Reward vjs. viijd.
Summa lxs.

P’ysshe Prist

Itm to Bartylmewe Kyrkby Wages xxxvs.
Summa p


Scole mr

Itm to Richard Harman Wages cs.
Summa pz


Itm to Thomas Breden Wages xxvs.
Itm to Robt Holder Wages xxvs.
Itm to John Bredon Wages xxvs.
Itm to Thomas Archard Wages xxvs.
Summa pts

Comon s’uantes

Itm to John Blount gent in Wages & reward xxvs.
Itm to Willm Fysshewyck Wages xs. xvjs. viijd.
Reward vjs. viijd.
[fol. 75]
Itm to xtofer palm’ Wages xs. xvijs.
Reward vijs.
Itm to Willm Mathewe Wages ijs. vjd. iijs. ijd.
Reward xxd.
Itm to Jamys Gylbt
Wages vs. vs.
Reward nll
Itm to Robt More
  p’yshe clerk
Wages xs. xvjs. viijd.
Reward vjs. viijd.
Itm to Willm Mason
  bruge mr
Wages xxxiijs. iiijd. xxxiijs. iiijd.
Reward nll
Itm to Willm port’ Wages vjs. viijd. viijs. iiijd.
Reward xxd.
Itm to Avice Archard
Wages xd. ijs. vjd.
Reward xxd.
Itm to Richard Burton Turnebroche yn [ijs. ]
Itm to John Ledbett’
Wages vs. vjs. viijd.
Reward xxd.
Summa vjli xvijs. iiijd.
Sma Totall of all Wages & Rewardes aforeseyd xijli ijs. vjd. p’.


[fol. 76]

Debtes payd y’

Itm payd the xxiiijth day of Nouemb A° xxxvijmo R. H. viijui to John Lambert[259] baylyf of Aldestree & Appulbye for so moche money owyng vnto hym by the late Deanes & Chaptor of the seyd late Colledge of Burton for hys Fee of xxvjs viijd by yere due vnto hym for iiij yeres endyd at the Feast of Seynt Michaell tharchaungell last as app’yth in the boke of debtes cvjs. viijd.
Itm payd to John Stone late one of the Deacons y’ for so moche money by hym disbursyd for certen Wyne Waxe & tallowe candelles expendyd in the Church in the tyme of Dyvyne s’uys syns Michaelmas last vijs.
Itm payd to Robt Bradshawe gent. port’ of the gates of the seyd late Colledge for pte of hys Fee of lxs. payable by the Deane & Chaptor of the same late Colledge due vnto hym at Michaelmas last xls.
Itm payd to Nichas Burwey gent. vnderstuard & clerk of the Courtes holdyn Wtin the lordshyp of Burton for so moche money owyng vnto hym by the seyd late Deane for his Fee of xiijs. iiijd. by yere for exercysyng of the seyd office due for iij yeres endyd at Michaelmas last As App’yth in the boke of Debtes xls.
Summa ixli xiijs. viijd.
[fol. 77]
The Costes[260] & Charges of Richard Goodryck & John Scudamore Esquyers appoyntyd by the Ryght Worshypfull s Edward North Knyght Chauncellor of the Kynges maiesties most honorable Court of Augmentacon in the name of the Kyng or sou’aign lord for takyng of An[272] Inuentorye of the plate Juelles ornamentes of the Church Wt the Implemtes & Stuff of howsehold belongyng & appteynyng vnto the late Colledge of Burton vpon Trent in the Countie of Staff surrendryd Rydyng from London vnto Burton & ther contynuyng Wt ther Retorne from thens to London As heraft’ ensuyth.
Fyrst payd at London the xvjth day of Nouemb A° xxxvij R. H. viijui for mendyng of the Saddelles of the seyd John Scudamore vs. iiijd.
Itm for Shoyng of ix horses of the seyd John Scudamor iiijs. ixd.
Summa xs. jd.

The xvijth day of Nouemb’

Supp’ at Seynt Albons

In bredd viijd. Ale xvjd. Wyne nll. Mutton xxijd. beoff vjd. one Capon xvjd. one Cowple of Conyes xd. vjs. vjd.
Itm payd for Fyre & Candelles xijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ that nyght vijs. vd.
Itm for mr palm’s[261] Horsemete Hys s’untes supp Wt Hys Drynkyng aft’ supp & for Fyre xvijd.
Itm payd the xviijth day of Nouemb for brakefast y’ viijd.

The xviijth day of Nouemb’

Den’ at Bryckhyll[262]

In bredd viijd. Ale ixd. Wyne iiijd. Beoff viijd. Mutton iiijd. pygge vijd. & one cowple of Conyes xd. iiijs. ijd.
Itm for Fyre y’ ijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ iijs. xjd.
Itm for Shoyng y’ vjd.
Summa xxvs. xjd. [sic]
[fol. 78]

Supp’ at Towcetr’

In bredd vjd. Ale xiijd. Wyne xiijd. Mutton xixd. Chekens viijd. Suyttes vjd. Chese & Apples ijd. vs. vijd.[273]
Itm for Fyre & Candelles y’ xvjd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ that nyght ixs. vjd.
Itm for Shoyng y’ iiijd.
Itm for brekefast y’ the xixth day of Nouemb xiijd.
Summa xvijs. xd.

The xixth day of Nouemb’

Den’ at Dayntree[263]

In bredd vjd. Ale ixd. Wyne iiijd. beoff xvjd. Mutton vjd. Chese jd. iijs. vjd.
Itm for Fyre ijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ ijs. xd.

Supp’ at Couentre’

In bredd iiijd. Ale xiijd. Wyne iiijd. & Mutton xxd. iijs. vd.
Itm for Fyre & Candell y’ xvjd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ viijs. xjd.
Itm for Shoyng mendyng of Saddles & for a Drynche for a Horse viijd.
Itm for Drynkyng in the mornyng y’ viijd.
Summa xxjs. vjd.

The xxth day of Nouemb’

Den’ at Atherston

In bredd vd. Ale ixd. Wyne iiijd. Buttor iiijd. Egges iijd. Herryng jd. Chese iiijd ijs. vjd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ xxjd.

At Burton that nyght

In bredd xd. Ale ijs. Buttor vd. Egges ijd. Chese iijd. Saltfysshe xd. Fresshefysshe vd. iiijs. xjd.
Summa ixs. ijd.
[fol. 79]

At Burton the xxjth xxijth xxiijth
& xxiiijth Days of Nouemb’

Itm for xj Dossen of bredd xjs.
Itm for xlvij gallons of Ale At iiijd. the gallon xvs. viijd.
Itm for one pottell of Wyne viijd.
Itm for vj lib. of Candelles at ijd. the lib. xijd.
Itm for pottes & cuppes iiijd.
Summa xxviijs. viijd.


The xxjth day of Nouemb’

In buttor viijd.
Itm for Egges vjd.
Itm for Saltfysshe xviijd.
Itm for Fresshe Fysshe xijd.
Summa iijs. viijd.

The xxijth xxiijth & xxiiijth days of Nouemb’

Itm for beoff vs. viijd.
Itm for Mutton iijs. iiijd.
Itm for veale xxd.
Itm for iiijor geese ijs.
Itm for ij pygges xiiijd.
Itm for iij Capons xvjd.
Itm for one Woodcock ijd.
Itm for black bryddes iiijd.
Summa xvs. viijd.
[fol. 80]

Other necess’ie p’uyc’on

Itm for must’d ijd.
Itm for Vinegre iijd.
Itm for Salt iiijd.
Itm for Flowre to bake venyson xvd.
Itm for pep’ vjd.
Itm for Saffron ijd.
Itm for Suger iiijd.
Itm for small reasons iijd.
Itm for Chese & Apples viijd.
Itm for bastyng butt’ iiijd.
Itm for Fyre Wood vjs.
Itm payd to Thomas Ousbye beyng Coke for hys hyre ijs.
Summa xijs. iijd.
Itm payd for iij of mr Goodryckes Horses mete & for ij of mr palm’s Horsemete xs. viijd.
Itm payd for mendyng of mr Goodryckes Saddles & for shoyng of hys horses &c As App’yth by a byll vs. vjd.
Itm payd for Shoyng of mr palm’s Horses & for ij drynches for hys seyd horses xvjd.
Itm payd for Horsemete for ix of the seyd mr Scudamors Horses xviijs. viijd.
Itm payd for Shoyng of the seyd mr Scudamors horses & for mendyng of his Sadelles at Burton iijs. viijd.[275]
Itm payd for a Saddell for the Cariage of the Kynges maiesties plate & ornamentes of the Church from burton to london iiijs.
Itm payd for x yardes of Canvas to pack the seyd omamentes in & for a Maylyng Corde iiijs. iiijd.
Itm payd for a Horse to Carrye the seyd plate & ornamtes xxvjs. viijd.
Summa lxxiiijs. xd.
[fol. 81]

Retornyng towardes London

The xxvth day of Nouemb’

Den’ at Atherston

In bredd vjd. ob Ale viijd. ob. beoff vjd. Mutton iiijd. one Capon vjd. one Chekyn ijd. one Conye iiijd. Butt’ & Chese iiijd. iijs. vd.
Itm payd for Horsemete y’ for xv horses ijs. ixd.

Supp’ at Couentre

In bredd xd. Ale ijs. Wyne vjd. Mutton xvjd. one Cowple Conyes viijd. one Capon vjd. Wyldfowle vijd. Apples & Chese iijd. vjs. viijd.
Itm for Fyre & Candelles y’ xiiijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ for xv Horses viijs. ixd.
Itm for Shoyng y’ viijd.
Itm for Drynkyng in the mornyng the
xxjth day [sic]
Summa xxiijs. xjd.

The xxvjth day of Nouemb’

Den’ at Dayntre

In bredd viijd. Ale xiiijd. Wyne viijd. beof ixd. Mutton ixd. A Mallard iiijd. iij Woodcockes vjd; Suyttes iiijd. Chese & Apples ijd. vs. iiijd.
Itm for Fyre y’ iijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ iijs.

Supp’ at Towcetr

In bredd viijd. Ale xvijd. Wyne xd. Mutton xvjd. A Mallard vjd. one Conye iiijd. Wyldfowle xd. Apples & Chese ijd. vjs. jd.[276]
Itm for Fyre & Candelles y’ xviijd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ for xv Horses viijs. ixd.
Itm for Shoyng & mendyng of Sadelles y’ xiiijd.
Itm for Drynkyng y’ in the mornyng the xxvijth Day vjd.
Summa xxvjs. vijd.
[fol. 82]

The xxvijth Day of Nouemb’

At Bryckhyll

Itm for Drynkyng y’ xixd.
Itm for Fyre jd.
Itm for Horsemete y’ ijs. vjd.

At Seynt Albones


In bredd viijd. ob. Ale xiiijd. Wyne iiijd. Butt’ iiijd. Egges ijd. oyst’s iiijd. Saltfysshe xiiijd. Herryng vd. Whyttynges vd. Chese & Apples ijd. vs. ijd. ob.
Itm for Fyre & Candelles y’ xvid.
Itm for Horsemete y’ that nyght viijs. xjd.
Itm for drynkyng y’ in the mornyng the xxviijth day xijd.
Summa xxs. vijd. ob.
Itm payd for the Hyre of iij Horses Hyryd by the seyd mr Goodryck by the space of xij days to Ryde from London to Burton aforeseyd for thexecutyng of mr Chauncellors Comaundemt aforeseyd xvijs. iiijd.
Itm for iiij quere of pap’ xijd. one skynne of pchemt iiijd. for Waxe ijd. to Seale vp the Evidences & Also the Inuentorye Indentyd xviijd.
Itm for the Costes & Charges of the seyd John Scudamore &c lyeng At London Aftr ther retome from Burton by the space of viijth Days to make certyficat of ther Doynges & Also from thens Home xli.
Summa x to xviijs. xd.
Summa Totalis of All the Expences Aforeseyd xxvli. ixs. vjd. ob.


[fol. 83]
Summa Totalis of All the charges
& paymtes exp’ssyd in thys boke
iiijxx xvij to
vs. viijd. ob.
[fol. 84]
Pencons assigned vnto the late Dean and p’bendaries petycanons and other of the late colledge of Burton vppon Trent in the countie of Staff’ surrendred to be payd at ij termes in the yere That is to say at the feastes of thannucyacon of or lady and seint Michaell tharchangell by even porcons


Brocke xlli[264] [sic]


Robert Rudd xx m’kes[265] xvli [sic]
More xvjli
Bull xx m’kes


Sir Willm Sutton vjli
Sir John Hyerne vjli xiijs. iiijd.
Sir John Carter vjli


Sir Willm Hether cs.
Summa cvjli vjs. viijd.
Sma totalis of thextraordynary charges wch remayne but at Kinges maiesties pleasure lvjli.
The some of all the charges ordynary and extraordynary conteyned in this boke amounteth to ijc lixli. xijs. iiijd. ob.
Wyllm Morley xls.
[fol. 85]
The Churche plate goodes & Cataill of the said late Colledge at the Surrendre of the same.
viz in Churche
Gilte  xlix oz. di Clxvij oz Deliu’d to Thes p Indent. Dat. s John Willyams Knight die Ao [sic] xxxviijo R. H. viijui[278]
pcell gilte (x) xxiijj oz. di [sic]
White iiijxx xiij oz.
Ornamentes Delui’d to the said mr Thes psed at xjli vjs. viijd. p Ind p’d
Ornametes sold by the Comyssioners xxjli iiijs. viijd. y’ Rec
Implementes left in the house of the said
late Coll
vijli iijs. ijd. Assigned to mr secretary pagett in liew of suche implemetes as he left at Kepier in Com. Ebor.
Orname’tes valowed
lvjs. viijd. Assigned by discrecon of the Comyssioners to thuse of the >pisshe Church of Burton
Debtes Dettes Dew to thouse at the Surrendre xlviijli ijs. iijd. y’ Recd.
r Thesxjli vjs. viijd. cu’
Summa Totalis iiijxxli. xiijs clxvi oz. vnc. Argent.
viijd.        r Rec. lxixli vijs.
[fol. 86]
Payme’tes made by the Comyssioners at the tyme of the dissolucon of the said late Colledge
Wages & Rewardes of peti Canons Singingmen & other Ministers & s’untes of the Church there lxijli ijs. vjd.
Paymet of Dettes Dew to sondry p’sounes ixli xlljs. viijd.
The xpences of the said Comyssioners wth xli geaven in Reward for there paynes xxvli ixs. vjd. ob.
Summa iiijxx xvijli. vs. viijd. ob.
And so the Rec’ restith in supplussage vpon this Reconing xxvijli xviijs. vlljd. ob.
[fol. 87]
[Outside cover.]
The Inventorie of the plate Ornamentes goodes and Catailles of the Late Colledge of Burton vpon Trente Deliu’d by Richard Goodryck & John Scudamore esquiers Comyssioners for that p’rpose Assigned.
  Burton sup’ Trente.



P. R. O. Church Goods, 8/24a.

[4 Dec., 1545.]
This bill Indentyd made the iiijth of December in the xxxvijth yere of the Raigne of or soueraigne lorde Kinge Henrye the eight Witnessethe that I sr John Willms[266] Knight Tresoror of the courte of Thaugmentacyons of the reuenues of or seyd soueraigne the Kinge corone Haue Receuyd of John Scudamore esquyer Rceuor of the seyd courte wthin the counties of Salope Worc’ Herefford and Stafford by thandes of Willam Scudamore his sone Certen plate and ornamentes latlye belonging to the late Colleidge of Burton apon [sic] Trent in the seid countie of Staff’ as hereafter pticlerly is resyted
That is to seye
Fyrst iiijor Chalesis wth theyr patentes gylte weyng xlix oz. di.
Itm ij Chalesie wth there patentes whight weing xxxiij oz. iij. quart.
Itm a shippe wth a spone whight weying xij oz. quart.
Itm ij Sensers whight weying xlvij oz.
Itm the garnyshing of a Crosse p’cell gyllt weying vj oz.
Itm the garnyshing of a gospell boke p’cel gilt weing xviij oz. di.[280]
First on Vessement wth ij Tynnades of count’faite tysshue wth albes to the same belonging.
Itm a vesment wth ij Tynnacles of Redd velwet and ij albes to the same belonging
Itm a Cope of Taunnye velwet wth an offer[e]s of red turkye satten
Itm iij Copes of whight damaske wth Flowers of nedle worke wroght
In witnes whereof to this presentes I have sett to my seale the daye and yere aboue writen.
John Williamz.



(British Museum. Addit. MS. 23,944. See p. 200.)

The following list shows what books the Abbey of Burton possessed in the early part of the thirteenth century: it is not probable that many of them had disappeared by the sixteenth century. If we had a list of the books in the Abbey Library at the time of its Dissolution we should be able to form some idea as to the extent to which the Revival of Learning had influenced the monks there. Failing this we may notice with interest the number and character of English books at the end of this Catalogue, including Apollonius Anglicus (see note infra), which appears to be the only “pagan” book in the collection.

The list begins Hos habet Libros Ecclesia Burtonne, and the succeeding entries are therefore in the accusative case, e.g., “Bibliothecam in duobus codicibus.” I have, however, printed them in the nominative throughout.

Bibliotheca[267] in duobus codicibus
Omeliarum ab Adventu usque Pascham
 et Vita Sanctae Moduennae
 et Bernardus, super “Missus est [Angelus”][268] }
in uno codice
Psalterium secundum Augustinum in tribus voluminibus
Augustinus, de Civitate Dei
Augustinus, super Johannem
Augustinus, de sermone Domini [in Monte]
 et de decem cordis[269]
 et contra quinque haereses
 et Ieronimus, super Josue
in uno codice
Augustinus, Exameron[270]
Augustinus, Contra Iulianum [haeresis Pelagianae defensorem]
Augustinus, de Disciplina Christianorum
 et ejusdem epistola ad quendam comitem[271]
in uno codice
Regula Sancti Augustini a quodam exposita
 et cantica psalterii
 et Hugo, de Disciplina Novitiorum[272]
in uno codice
Hugo, super Ecclesiasten[273]
Gregorius, super Job, in tribus voluminibus[274]
Dialogus Gregorii[275]
 et liber qui vocatur scintillarum[276]
in uno codice
Gregorius, super Ezechielem
Pastoralis Gregorii[277]
Liber xl omeliarum Gregorii[278]
Registrum [Epistolarum] Gregorii in duobus codicis
Ambrosius, super “Beati Immaculati”[279]
Ambrosius, de Officiis [Ministrorum]
 et Hugo, de Archa Noe[280]
et Beda, de situ [urbis] Ierusalem
in uno codice
Beda, super Lucam
Hystoria Anglorum secundum Bedam
Item alius liber vetustior
Decem collationes patrum
 et Liber qui vocatur Paradisus[281]
in uno volumine
Vitae patrum
Robertus,[282] super Canticum Canticorum
 et Sinonima ysidori[283]
 et Liber Effrem[284]
 et Regula Sancti Basilii
 et Decessus Bedae presbyteri
in uno codice
Item, Canticum Canticorum cujus auctorem ignoramus
Prognosticon futuri sacculi[285]
Ailredus, de Oneribus ysaiae[286]
 et Didascalion Hugonis[287]
in uno codice
Speculum Karitatis
 et Diadema Monachorum
in uno volumine
Miracula Sanctae Mariae
Vita Sanctae Moduennae quam Martinus scripsit[289]
 et alia quam Briennius scripsit[290]
Item alia antiquissima
Passionale Octobrii et Decembrii mensis
Vita Sanctae Katerinae
 et Sancti Martini
in uno codice




Printed by Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, Ltd., Bath.

Sketch Map of STAFFORDSHIRE to Illustrate the Dissolution of the Monasteries


[1] Froude’s History of England.

[2] Seventeen Lectures (1887), p. 289.

[3] See below, Chap. iv.

[4] These figures, omitting shillings and pence, are from Valor Ecclesiasticus.

[5] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, p. 146, 148.

[6] The only other exception is said to be Beaulieu.

[7] Pleas of the Forest, 1286. (Salt Collections, V, Pt. I, p. 162; VIII, p. 177.)

[8] Some very interesting examples of corrodies granted by Staffordshire monasteries are given in Monasticism in Staffordshire, p. 157–160.

[9] Dieulacres Chartulary, No. 99.

[10] Plea Rolls, Henry III (in Salt Collections, VI, Pt. I, p. 293).

[11] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, v, 1529.

[12] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Henry VI, Vol. II, 1429–36.

[13] Plea Rolls, 6 Edw. IV (Salt Collections n.s. IV).

[14] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. I, 1281–92, p. 25.

[15] Cf. the election of Edie to Burton Abbey (Chap. iv infra) and of Meverell to Tutbury Priory (Chap. vi infra); and Cranmer’s request for the appointment of Gorton to Worcester (Chap. v infra).

[16] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, v, 1529.

[17] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, i, 1235, 1360.

[18] Ibid., iv, Part I, 650.

[19] Plea Rolls, Henry III (Salt Collections, IV).

[20] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv, Part I, 1137.

[21] Ibid., iv, Part II, 3536, 3538.

[22] Ibid., iv, Part I, 649, 697, 1913.

[23] Staffordshire Antiquaries usually add Blithbury, being misled by the similarity of name to Blythburgh, an Austin Priory in Suffolk which was one of those suppressed by Wolsey.

[24] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv, Part I, 1964.

[25] Ibid., 2217, 2024.

[26] Ibid., iv. Part II, 3537–8.

[27] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv, Part II, 3190, 4275.

[28] Ibid., iv, Part III, 6516, 6222.

[29] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv, Part III, 6788.

[30] Bishop Norbury’s Register, p. 28.

[31] Bishop Stretton’s (2nd) Register, sub ann.

[32] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iv, Part I, 2193; Part II, 2969. Clayborough was one of the King’s Counsel employed in the “Divorce” proceedings at Dunstable in May, 1533.

[33] Ibid., Part II, 3390.

[34] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, vi, 389.

[35] Wright’s Letters, p. 127. (“Glaston” is a misprint for “Ellaston.”)

[36] Letters and Papers, v, 277.

[37] Letters and Papers, v, 1234.

[38] Cf. supra, p. 24; he became Sub-Treasurer and Receiver-General in Ireland.

[39] Letters and Papers, v, 1456.

[40] Ibid., vi, 389.

[41] Letters and Papers, vi, 645.

[42] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 131.

[43] e.g., in 1608 (State Papers, Domestic, James I, 1603–10, p. 407) and 1680 (Salt Collections V, 188).

[44] Cf. Dict. Nat. Biog., xxxii, 373.

[45] Letters and Papers, v, 879; cf. 150 (where the date should be 1532).

[46] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, vi, 119; cf. iv, Part II, 2700.

[47] Ibid., vi, 417.

[48] Wright’s Letters, p. 114.

[49] Letters and Papers, vi, 700.

[50] Sir Piers Dutton was Sheriff of Chester (Letters and Papers, x, 618).

[51] Ibid., vi, 714. (Vols. V and VI give a considerable number of instances of interference with elections at this time.)

[52] Letters and Papers, vi, 1060; vii, 587 (19).

[53] These particulars are from Stubbs (Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, 146, and Monasticon, v, 377 note).

[54] P.R.O., State Papers, Henry VIII, Fol. Vol. R. and S., 165.

[Attached to this document is a paper containing a longer list of monasteries covering three sides, of which those above-named fill the first side. Some Welsh houses are included.]

[55] Cf. Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, vi, 590.

[56] 26 Henry VIII, c. 3.

[57] The Possessions of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem were taken by the Act 32 Henry VIII, c. xxiv.

[58] Letters and Papers, viii, 149 (75).

[59] Ibid., xiv, Part I, p. 289.

[60] Cf. also Arts. 10–13 of the Act.

[61] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, p. 99.

[62] Valor Ecclesiasticus, temp. Hen. VIII, auctoritate regia institutus (6 vols., 1810–34). The Staffordshire returns come in Vol. III.

[63] Letters and Papers, ix, 354.

[64] Cf. infra, Ch. v.

[65] Vol. III, pp. 99–152.

[69] His will is printed in the Journal of the Derbyshire Archæological and Natural History Society, Vol. VII (1885), pp. 226–233.

[70] Annales de Burton are printed in Annales Monastici, Vol. I (1864), edited by H. R. Luard, M.A.

[71] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 144.

[72] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 146.

[73] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. III, 1313–18, pp. 428, 447, 564; 1318–23, pp. 116, 694.

[74] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. III, 1307–13, pp. 331, 335, 343.

[77] Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, i, 625–632.

[78] A Description of Leicestershire, by William Burton (1622), p. 119.

[79] Cf. supra, p. 47.

[80] The tradition is recorded by J. Bacon in the Preface to his edition (1786) of Ecton’s Thesaurus rerum Ecclesiasticarum, the first edition of which was printed in 1711. Ecton and Bacon were both officials of the Office of First-Fruits and Tenths.

[81] In 1535, Cranmer wrote to Cromwell: “I understand the Priory of Worcester is to be shortly void. If so, be good to ... Dn. Richard Gorton, B.D., of the house of Burton-on-Trent.”—Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, ix, 971.)

[82] Valor Ecclesiasticus, 126.

[83] Ibid., 163.

[84] Ibid., 149.

[85] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 226.

[86] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Henry IV, 1405–8.

[87] “Early Chancery Proceedings,” Bundle 6, No. 50 (Salt Collections, N.S., vii, 244).

[88] Vol. III, 103.

[89] In the twelfth century Margery, daughter of Sir Ralf de Coven, endowed the Nunnery with this annual rent in Horsebrook. (Original Deed at Chillington, printed in Salt Collections, iii, p. 211.)

[90] Cf. Appendix i.

[91] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 125.

[92] Glaston is obviously a misprint for “Ellaston,” a mistake easily made. Cf. supra, p. 34.

[93] Cf. supra, p. 50.

[94] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Rich. II, 1377–81, pp. 362, 516.

[95] Salt Collections, iii, 163, 182; N.S., ix, 298.

[96] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 123.

[97] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 104 (cf. Letters and Papers, viii, 191).

[98] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, xvi, 678.

[99] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 107.

[100] Cf. infra Ch. vii.

[101] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 124.

[102] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 114.

[103] Exchequer Augmentation Office: Miscellaneous Books, Vol. 400, p. 108–9.

[104] Salt Collections, viii, 195, 197.

[105] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 110.

[107] Cf. infra Appendix iv.

[108] Cf. infra, p. 145.

[109] Salt Collections, N.S., iv (13 Edw. IV).

[110] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 113.

[111] Salt Collections, xi, 322.

[112] Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. I, 1292–1301, p. 253 (cf. pp. 248, 252); Pat. Rolls, 15 Edw. II (Salt Collections, xi, 299).

[113] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 108.

[114] De Banco Roll, Hilary 10–11, Edw. III (Salt Collections, xi, 72).

[115] Supra, p. 21.

[116] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, viii, 56.

[117] Ibid., viii, 682.

[118] Wright’s Letters, p. 114.

[119] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 142.

[120] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 57.

[121] Wright’s Letters, 156.

[122] Wright’s Letters, 157.

[123] Wright’s Letters, 93.

[124] Ibid., 95.

[125] Letters and Papers, ix, 517.

[126] Ibid., x, 364.

[127] Ibid., x, 1088.

[128] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, Vol. X, 1238. [Gairdner, English Church, does not include Tutbury in his list on p. 420.]

[129] Cf. Dict. Nat. Biog., xlviij, 123.

[130] Ibid., xlvj, 135.

[131] Ibid., ix, 363.

[132] Letters and Papers, x, 613.

[133] Letters and Papers, x, 741.

[134] Ibid., 749.

[135] Letters and Papers, x, 886.

[136] Ibid., 754.

[137] Ibid., 1178.

[138] Letters and Papers, x, 324.

[139] Letters and Papers, xii, Pt. II, 638.

[140] Ibid., xii, Pt. I, 1104; Pt. II, 1008(1), 456, 411 (2) and (12); xiii. Pt. II, 456, 364, 343, 370.

[141] Ibid., xii, Pt. I, 819.

[142] Letters and Papers, xii, Pt. II, 531.

[143] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. I, 456.

[144] Cf. infra, p. 186.

[145] Cf. infra, pp. 175, 227, 233, 240, 272–6.

[146] Letters and Papers, xii, Pt. II, 611.

[147] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. I, 1520.

[148] Public Record Office, State Papers, Dom., Henry VIII, Vol. 120, No. 143.

[149] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 44, 56, 61.

[150] Ibid., 170.

[151] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 49.

[152] Ibid., 50.

[153] Ibid., 44.

[154] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 79.

[155] Ibid., 56 (Aug. 9, 1538).

[156] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 56.

[157] Ibid.

[158] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 61.

[159] Wright’s Letters, 203, 204.

[160] Burnet, iv, 490.

[161] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 281.

[162] Wright’s Letters, 143.

[163] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. I, 317.

[164] Ibid., Pt. II, 164.

[165] Ibid., 1051.

[166] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 652.

[167] Ibid., 736.

[168] Ibid., 1143.

[169] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 168; Wright’s Letters, 267, 270.

[170] Wright’s Letters, 282.

[171] Wright’s Letters, 267.

[172] Wright’s letters, 278.

[173] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 343.

[174] Public Record Office, Exchequer Augmentation Office, No. 247.

[175] Ibid., No. 206 (Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 364).

[176] Public Record Office, Exchequer Augmentation Office, No. 66 (Ibid., 370).

[177] Public Record Office, Ministers’ Accounts, Divers Counties, No. 230, Bundle 61 (Accounts of John Scudamore, membrane 6): “Nuper Monasterii de Roucester—de precio trium campanorum nuper Monasterii de Roucester remanentium in Campanilia Ecclesiae parochialis ibidem non de eo quod parochiani de Roucester predicta Clamant easdem campanas sibi et parochianis ibidem pertinere et remanere super clamentium suum quousque determinentur coram Cancellario et Consilio Curiae Augmentationis etc. Si dictum clamentium verum sit necne quia easdem campanas occupabuntur et usi fuerunt tam per nuper Religiosos quam eciam per parochianos de Rocester predicta pulsandas ad divina servicia et aliter. Summa nulla.”

[178] Exchequer Augmentation Office, Miscellaneous Books, Vol. 172.

[179] Appendix, iii, iv, v.

[180] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 586.

[181] Ibid., 628.

[182] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 627.

[183] Ibid., 634 (Exchequer Augmentation Office, 220).

[184] See the Inventory in Appendix v.

[185] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 656.

[186] Sleigh’s Leek, p. 64. “Cole’s MS., 26, 246, contains the Deposition of John Whitney, late Chamberleyne to the last Abbot of Dieulacresse, taken 8 Jany., 7o Elizh. Hereby it appeared that 4 or 5 days after the suppression of that Abbey, several Blanks, having the Covent-sealle, were seene by the Deponent, the Abbot and others being privy. Upon these blanks Wm. Damport, the Abbot’s Scribe, wrote Leases, with Ante-Dates: and among the rest one was the Lease and Reversion of the Mannour of Poultone.”

[187] Wright’s Letters 282.

[188] Ibid. 286.

[189] Ibid. 206.

[190] Letters and Papers, xiii, Pt. II, 1233.

[191] Ibid., xvi, 745.

[192] Ibid., ix, 971; cf. supra, p. 83 n.

[193] Ibid., xiii, Pt. II, 1051.

[194] Ibid., 1052.

[195] Cf. Appendix xii, xiii, where many interesting details are given of the journey and the whole business.

[196] Cf. Appendix v.

[197] Cf. Appendix iii.

[198] Cf. Appendix v.

[199] Cf. Appendix iv.

[200] Cf. Appendix vi, vii, viii.

[201] History of England, i, 41 n.

[202] Cf. Appendix v, vi.

[203] Cf. supra, pp. 154, 155.

[204] Supra, p. 39.

[205] Cf. Appendix iii.

[206] Cf. Appendix iv.

[207] Cf. Appendix v.

[208] Monasticon, v, 383.

[209] Cf. supra, p. 164.

[210] Bazin’s novel, translated into English under the title of The Nun, describes the suppression of a French nunnery in recent years, and the after-history of the sisters. It is very instructive.

[211] Wright’s Letters, 243.

[212] Sleigh’s Leek, 140.

[213] Ibid., 64. He left his chalice of silver-gilt to his “servant and nephew Nicholas Whitney,” stipulating that if the Abbey were ever restored the chalice should be returned to it.

[214] His rent-roll of lands which he continued to manage, dated Oct. 6th, 34 Hen. viij, is in the William Salt Library at Stafford (Box 145).

[215] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, xvi, 617.

[216] Ibid., App. i.

[217] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, xvi, 866.

[218] Ibid., 324.

[219] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, xvi, 745, 425, 258.

[220] Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, xiii, Pt. ii, 1220.

[221] Cf. supra, p. 34.

[222] Valor Ecclesiasticus, iii, 128 (printed “Glaston”).

[223] Printed in Annales Monastici, Vol. I (1864). Another copy is in the Library of the Dean and Chapter of Lichfield.

[224] Addit. MS., 23, 944. See App. xiv.

[225] British Museum, Royal MS., 15, B, iv.

[226] Cottonian MS., Vespasian E., xxiv, cxv.

[227] Wright’s Letters, p. 71. Strype, Vol. I, pt. i, p. 324.

[228] Wright’s Letters, 291.

[229] Letters and Papers, xii, Pt. I, 767: Dr. Pole to Bp. Lee (Mar. 29th, 1537), “I know none within your diocese of seditious opinions touching the bishop of Rome or favourable to the late insurrections.”

[230] A kind of figured linen.

[231] i.e., cooling pans.

[232]? Cyfus or Cyphus = a drinking-cup.

[233] i.e., flagons.

[234] i.e., spit.

[235] i.e., a small handmill for grinding mustard.

[236] i.e., a basket or other vessel for clearing away the remains of a meal.

[237] i.e., iron.

[238] i.e., ornamented with work illustrating the Nativity of Christ.

[239] i.e., lavatory

[240] i.e., saucepan.

[241] i.e., an iron hook for hanging a pot over the fire.

[242] i.e., coolers.

[243] i.e., cistern.

[244] i.e., seven score and nineteen = 159.

[245] A fother = 19½ cwt.

[246] i.e., vats.

[247] i.e., sanctus bell.

[248] beer coppers (wort = new unfermented beer).

[249] i.e., time allowed, respite, credit; cf. Chaucer, The Franklin’s Tale, l. 847, “bysecheth ... to graunte him dayes of the remenaunt.”

[250] i.e., dormitory.

[251] “Walter Charnels” was Bailiff of the town of Burton (cf. supra, p. 90).

[252] i.e., cushions.

[253] i.e., treasurer.

[254] Sir William Paget was Clerk of the Signet and Privy Councillor, afterwards Baron Paget of Beaudesert (cf. Dict. Natl. Biog., xliii, 60).

[255] Public Record Office. Particulars for Grants, 10 Jan., 37 Hen. viii. Sir William Paget.

Request to exchange (1) [lined through]. Lands appointed unto the King by Sir Will. Paget, viz., farm of the manor or late hospital of Kepeyere (Durham); (2) [lined through] in exchange for farm of the manor of Nantwich; farm of the demesne of Burton-on-Trent with site of the late college, and the demesne lands pertaining.

[Kepier is described in the Aug. Off. Misc. Book, 400, as being in the county of York: it is in Easington Ward, co. Durham. The Hospital there was surrendered and granted to Sir William Paget 36 Hen. viij.]

[256] Cf. supra, pp. 158, 168.

[257] William Scudamore was John Scudamore’s son. He acted as Clerk to Robert Burgoyn, one of the Commissioners for Northamptonshire, etc. (cf. Wright’s Letters, p. 281).

[258] i.e., never.

[259] John Lambert had held this office under the Abbey at the time of Valor Ecclesiasticus (cf. supra, p. 90).

[260] The details of the expenses incurred by Goodrick and Scudamore in the journey from London to Burton and back are most interesting, showing as they do the cost of meals, etc., at the various places where they stayed. It may be compared with the “book of accounts” of Lenthall, auditor of the attainted lands, in his journey from London to the North in 1541. (Letters and Papers, xvi, 1490.)

[261] One of Cromwell’s men was named Thomas Palmer (cf. Letters and Papers, xiv, Pt. I, 1039, 1060).

[262] Brickhill is near Fenny-Stratford.

[263] i.e., Daventry.

[264] [lined through in original.]

[265] [lined through in original.]

[266] John Williams had been one of Cromwell’s agents so long ago as 1536 at least. In that year he had been deputed with Sir John Clark (Commissioner of the Peace in Oxfordshire) and George Gifford to investigate a complaint which had been lodged against Sir John Browne that his mill “doth annoye the Kinges other Subgiettes ... in the surunding and overflowing of their groundes.” (Letters and Papers, xi, 446; cf. 227, 353, 888.) He had also been one of the Commissioners of the Dissolution, and had visited Bury St. Edmund’s, Ely, Winchester, Hyde, Eynsham, and Notley (Bucks.). (Cf. Wright’s Letters, pp. 145, 147, 220, 233, 235.)

[267] This was a common name for the Bible down to the fourteenth century.

[268] Four homilies on the text, “missus est angelus” (St. Luke i, 26), composed by St. Bernard about the year 1120 (cf. Morison, p. 49).

[269] A treatise on the Ten Commandments.

[270] Probably ascribed wrongly to St. Augustine instead of to St. Ambrose.

[271] Epistola Augustini ad Iulianum comitem.

[272] Hugh of St. Victor, near Paris (A.D. 1097–1141). His works include In Ecclesiasten homiliae, de Institutione Novitiorum, and Mystica archae Noe descriptio. See also Note 19 infra.

[273] See last note.

[274] Expositio in beatum Job, seu Moralium libri xxxv, by Pope Gregory the Great.

[275] Dialogorum libri iv de vita et miraculis patrum, by the above.

[276] Scintillarum seu sententiarum catholicorum Patrum, a collection of extracts from the Fathers, by Defensor, a monk of Ligugé, near Poitiers, who lived about 800 A.D.

[277] Liber Regulae Pastoralis, by Pope Gregory.

[278] Libri duo in Evangelia, viz., 40 Homilies on the Gospels for the day, by the above.

[279] Beati immaculati, i.e., Ps. cxix.

[280] See Note 6 supra.

[281] The work of Albertus Magnus (1193–1280) with this title can have been hardly yet written when the list was drawn up. The “book” is therefore more probably Paradisus Heraclidis, the oldest Latin version of the Lausiac History of Palladius.

[282] There was a Robert, Abbot of Burton from 1150 to 1159, when he was deposed. In 1175 he was re-elected, and died in 1177.

[283] Synonyma de lamentatione animae peccatricis, by St. Isidore of Seville (died 636). The book in question is a dialogue between Homo, bewailing his sinfulness, and Ratio, teaching him aright.

[284] St. Ephraem Syrus (died c. 373), a voluminous writer.

[285] Liber Prognosticorum futuri saeculi, by Julian of Toledo, died 690.

[286] An English writer, born at Hexham, 1109, Abbot of Rievaulx, died 1166. He wrote many historical and theological works, the latter in the style of St. Bernard.

[287] De Eruditione Didascalica, by Hugh of St. Victor, in six books. It is a kind of encyclopædia of sciences, and obtained for its compiler the title of Didascalus or Teacher.

[288] St. Prosper, of Aquitaine, born c. 403.

[289] A monk of Burton named Martin is mentioned in the time of Abbot Bernard (1160–75) in the Burton Chartulary.

[290] Briennius, monk and subprior, of Burton, in the time of Abbot Robert (1150–77), is mentioned in the Burton Chartulary.

[291] St. Ivo of Chartres, died 1115.

[292] i.e., Leviticus with notes.

[293] Radbertus was Abbot of Corbie, near Amiens, from 844 to 851. The book which is here named was one of the early arguments in favour of “transubstantiation.”

[294] i.e., Account Book.

[295] Geoffrey was Abbot of Burton from 1114 to 1150. His life of St. Modwen is mentioned supra, p. 220.

[296] By St. Jerome.

[297] Joannes Eleemosynarius, or Misericors, Patriarch of Alexandria, 609–616; the original patron saint of the Hospitallers.

[298] “The quires or gatherings of which the book was formed generally consisted, in the earliest examples, of four sheets folded to make eight leaves” (Encyclopædia Britannica, xviij, 144), hence “quaternio” or quarto.

[299] St. Martha the Egyptian.

[300] Historia Apostolica ex Luca expressa, a poem in Latin hexameters, which is described as bad in style and treatment, filled with far-fetched metaphors and wearisome digressions. Arator lived in the middle of the sixth century and his poem is dedicated in flattering terms to Pope Vigilius.

[301] See Note 17 supra.

[302] See Note 23 supra.

[303] i.e., Chapter Books.

[304] St. Caesarius of Chalons, died 542. He wrote a large number of “sermons,” which show a wide knowledge of the Bible and are eminently practical.

[305] Villicus Iniquitatis—the unjust Steward (cf. St. Luke xvj. 8, Vulgate).

[306] See Note 9 supra.

[307] Perhaps (1) Apollonius of Tyre, a Greek love-story of the 3rd or 4th century, perhaps translated into Latin verse in the fifth century, and re-translated into Latin prose in the twelfth or thirteenth century. An ancient Anglo-Saxon translation was printed by Thorpe in 1834. Gower’s Confessio Amantis (Bk. viij) is an adaptation of it, and it is also one of the sources of Shakespeare’s Pericles. The earliest English version now known was made in 1510 from the French. (See Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol. XX, p. 635.) (2) Or, The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, by Philostratus (born c. 175 A.D.).

[308] Hugh, the eighth Abbot of Reading, who founded, in the year 1190, a hospital for twenty-six poor people and for the entertainment of travellers.

Transcriber’s Notes:

1. Obvious printers’, punctuation and spelling errors have been corrected silently.

2. Where hyphenation is in doubt, it has been retained as in the original.

3. Some hyphenated and non-hyphenated versions of the same words have been retained as in the original.