The Endowment of Worksop Priory.
By Cornelius Brown
COL. Henry Mellish, of Hodsock Priory, is the fortunate possessor of a number of interesting documents, collected for the most part by his learned ancestor, Mr. Charles Mellish, who was Recorder of Newark in 1770, and at his own expense in 1778 "repaired and ornamented" (as the inscription testifies) the ancient Beaumond Cross in that town. Recorder Mellish possessed, among other good qualities, a taste for antiquarian research, and if only for the fact that he secured a copy of the notes of Mr. Twentyman, of Newark—a citizen who lived during the Civil war of the time of Charles the first, and left behind him a graphic record of incidents he witnessed during the siege of his native town—deserves to be held in grateful remembrance by local antiquarians, and by myself more especially. Mr. Dickenson alludes to these notes in his history published in 1815, and gives short extracts from them, but the fuller copy which Mr. Mellish preserved is richer in detail, embodying the experiences of a Royalist who, from the tower of the church, saw the cavalry of Prince Rupert charge down Beacon Hill and hurl themselves with irresistible force on the enemy below. Col. Mellish has kindly permitted me to utilise this narrative in the second volume of my new History of Newark, now in the press, but it is only one of many documents at Hodsock Priory which I have had the pleasure of inspecting. Of greater antiquarian and
chirographic value is the charter by which William de Lovetot endowed the Priory of Worksop in the reign of Henry I. This document is in the style of legal writing which prevailed from the Norman Conquest to the reign of Henry III., its plain bold letters and characteristic capitals, notably the W, being identical with those in the Notts, entries in Domesday Book, and there is little reason to doubt, though the seal is missing, that it is the original deed which confirmed to the Austin Canons Lovetot's pious and generous benefaction.
The date of the foundation of the Priory is given by Dugdale as "the third of the Ides of May in the third year of Henry the First" (A.D. 1103). The date of this Charter can only be surmised. It is directed to " T Archbishop of York," and the only Archbishops of this period whose names began with T were Thomas II., who died at Beverley in A.D. 1114, and Thurstan, who flourished from A.D. 1114 to A.D. 1140. That it was the latter to whom Lovetot refers is proved by the fact that Alexander, of Lincoln, was a witness to the King's ratification of the gift, and Alexander was not consecrated until 1123. The deed must therefore have been created between 1123 and 1140, when Thurstan died; and the Archdeacon of Nottingham referred to in it would doubtless be Geoffrey Trocope, to whom a few years after his (Thurstan's) decease, the Archbishop is said to have appeared in a dream, and who wrote, in conjunction with Hugh de Pontefract, a life of Thurstan, which is preserved in the Cottonian library. William de Lovetot is mentioned twice in the Roll of Payments into the Exchequer, ending September, 1130, as follows:—"William de Luvetot renders account of the farm of Blida for half a year. He pays into the Treasury £21-9-4 and to the Corrsedy of the King of Scotland 43s. 6d. And is quit." And again "William de Luvetot owes 40s. of pleas." The handwriting of his name in this document is identical with that in the Charter.
Someone in a later hand—that of the 18th century— probably Recorder Mellish himself, has described the document as the foundation charter quoted in Dugdale's "Monasticon," though it is not this particular deed the eminent antiquary had before him, as he seems to have obtained his copy from a source to which Thoroton also was often indebted, viz. "the collections of the industrious Mr St. Lo. Kniveton." Dugdale's reference is " Vide Registrum olim bibl. Seldenia, hujus apographim per St. Lo. Kniveton A T, Thoroton, p. 31"—a transcript of the Register by St. Lo. Kniveton of which Thoroton made use. The copy in Dugdale, derived from that in the Priory Cartulary, except for some very slight and unimportant variations in the spelling of the place names and two witnesses omitted, is identical with the original here given.
Notum sit T. Archiepiscopo Eboracensi, et Archiadiacono de Notingham, et omnibus baronibus, clericis, ac laicis Francis et Anglicis, totius Anglise et de Notinghamscira, quod W. de Luvetot, concessione et consideratione Emmae uxoris suae, et filiorum suorum, concedit et confirmat per breve suum donum quod fecit Deo et Sanctas Ecclesias et Canonicis Sancti Cuthberti de Wirchesope in perpetuam eleemosinam. In primis totam capellariam totius Domus suae, cum decimis et oblationibus; deinde Ecclesiam de Wirchesope, in qua Canonici sunt, cum terris et decimis, et omnibus rebus ad eandem ecclesiam pertinentibus, et vivarium et molendinum quod est juxta ecclesiam de Wirchesope, et pratum quod est juxta molendinum et vivarium. Et prseterea omnem decimam denariorum de redditibus suis constitutis, tarn in Normannia, quam in Anglia. In campo de Wirchesope unam carucatam terrae ad Inwara, et pratum suum de Cathala. Et omnes ecclesias suas de dominio suo de honore de Blida: scilicet, ecclesiam de Gringaleia, et ecclesiam de Mistertona, et ecclesiam de Walcrinham, et ecclesiam de Normantona, et ecclesiam de Colestona, et ecclesiam de Wilgebi; ecclesiam de Wishou, et partem suam de ecclesia de Tiresweila, cum omnibus terris, decimis, et rebus ad praefatas ecclesias pertinentibus; similiter et decimam de pasnagio suo, et de melle, et de venatione, et de piscibus, et de volucribus; de brasio et de molendinis suis, et de omnibus rebus suis de quibus decima dari solet vel dari debet. Et vult et firmiter concedit quod praedicti canonici haec omnia teneant bene et in pace, libere et honoriflce, cum omnibus libertatibus et liberis consuetudinibus cum quibus ipse melius et liberius tenet.
Testibus Ogero sacerdote, Wlveto sacerdote, Ilberto scriptore, Rogero de Luvetot, Ernaldo de Luvetot, Reginaldo de Luvetot, Odone dapifero, Erturo praeposito, Wigero de Sancto Albino, Cnut de Scefeld, Gilberto de Gatteford, Rogero de Saxendala.
Be it known to T(homas), Archbishop of York, and to the Archdeacon of Nottingham, and to all barons, clergy, and laity, both French and English, of the whole of England, and [especially] of Nottinghamshire, that William Lovetot, with the consent and concurrence of his wife Emma, and of his sons, grants and confirms by this his deed the gift which he has made to God and the Holy Church, and Canons of Saint Cuthbert of Worksop, in perpetual alms. In the first place, all the chapel furniture of his whole house, with the tithes and oblations. Next, the church of Worksop, in which the Canons are, with its lands and tithes, and everything that belongs to the same Church, and the fishpond and mill which is nigh unto the Church of Worksop, and the meadow which is by the mill and fishpond. And, further, the whole tithe of money of his customary rents, both in Normandy and in England. In Worksop field one carucate of land at Inwara,1 and his meadow at Cathala. And all his Churches, which are of his lordship of the Honour of Blyth; to wit, the Church of Gringley, and the Church of Misterton, and the Church of Walkeringham. And the Church of Normanton, and the Church of Colston, and the Church of Willoughby; the Church of Wysall, and his portion of the Church of Truswell, with all the lands, tithes, and possessions belonging to the aforesaid Churches. In like manner also the tithe of his pannage, and of honey, and of venison, and of fish, and of fowl; of malt, and of his mills, and of all his possessions from which tithe is wont or ought to be given. And he wills and firmly grants that the said Canons shall possess all these things well and peaceably, freely and honourably, with all the liberties and free customs with which he himself now holds them with unquestioned right and entire freedom.
Witnesses:—Oger the Priest, Wulvet2 the Priest, Ilbert the Scribe, Roger Lovetot, Arnold Lovetot, Reginald Lovetot, Odo the Steward, Arthur the Reeve, Wiger of Saint Aubin's, Cnut of Sheffield, Gilbert of Gateford, Roger of Saxondale.
William de Lovetot was a man of considerable wealth and influence, the lord of many manors in this county, of " Sheffield and Hallamshire," in the county of York, and "a principal man in Huntingdonshire where he left a barony to his second son Nigellus." He lived at a time when the vigorous and illustrious Thurstan, the reviver of monasticism in the north, was Archbishop of
York, and shared some of the spirit which animated that famous ecclesiastic. The erection and endowment of religious houses became the fashion, and during the major part of the 12th century great knights and nobles established monasteries where their souls might be prayed for, and to which their names in perpetuam rei memoriam might be honourably attached. Lovetot's foundation was for canons of the order of St. Austin, in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Cuthbert, and the Archbishop was present, with Alexander, "the Magnificent," of Lincoln, and others, when King Henry I. granted confirmation of the gift. How the house grew and became enriched with further endowments, and how the branches of the founder's family grew also (one John de Lovetot was a Justice of the Common Pleas at Westminster, temp. Edward I.) it is not our province to speak. The benefactor, William, left two sons, from the youngest of whom, Nigellus, Thoroton traces his descent, while the estates of the eldest passed to his grand-daughter, Matilda, who married Gerard de Furnivall, a powerful Norman.3
Lovetot and Furnivall were buried in the priory church, as were also Neviles and Talbots, and other great men, as the quaint rhyming pedigree by Pigot, a canon of the priory sets forth, until, at the Reformation, the monastery was surrendered to Henry VIII. by Prior Thomas Stokk, November 15th, 1539. At that time the clear income was £239 15s. 5d. The prior and brethren received pensions, and one of them, Laurence Sterkbone was not long in capitalising his, for he sold his annuity of £5 6s. 8d. for little more than two years' purchase! Another of the canons got rid of his grant of £4 on somewhat better terms—for £12. The lands given by Lovetot in Henry the First's time were sold by Henry VIII. to Messrs. Bellow and Bailly and others, as e.g., "one tenement, one cottage, and divers parcels of land in Worksop and Radford in the tenures of John Taylour, Agnes Wylkynson, William Bullesse, Raffe Gelder, and Mary Garth, part of the possessions of the late monastery of Woorkesopp, the farm of a tenement and eight acres of land, called Bakehouse flatte (27s.), a close in the tenure of Wm de Auro called Hamkyn Yerd, and a croft abutting on Colemer."
Of the stately monastery itself little is now remaining save the gatehouse, but the church is still (and will for all time continue) "a proud monument of ancient ecclesiastical magnificence."
Authorities:—Dugdale's Monasticon, Thoroton's Notts., Parl. Writs., White's Dukery Records, Foss's Judges, Raine's Test. Ebor., Gasquet's Monasteries, Dict. of Nat. Biog., the Great Roll of the Pipe No. 1, P.R.O.; Particulars for Grants, P.R.O., etc.
(1) Inwara appears to have meant within the township. There was also an Outwara, for in the confirmation deed of William de Lovetot's son, Richard, we have "two bovatesof land in Herthewick ad Utwara." Wara is properly a measure of land.
(2) The priest Wlvet, or Ulnet, was doubtless the parish priest of Worksop, for in the confirmation of this grant by William's son, Richard, we have the additional gift of "the land which was Wlvets the priest in Worksop between the road and the park and Impecroft for making a shrubbery (virgultum)."
(3) Matilda granted to William, her son, "the whole manor of Wyrkesop," and a charter by Edward, Prince of Wales, confirming Matilda's, is in the British Museum (add. chr. 46,918), and has a large part of the seal attached to it in very fine preservation.