The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

(3rd Edition published 1868)

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010



The Priory
Pages 362-364

The Priory stood on the north side of the town, on the banks of the river, a little east of the castle. It was of the Franciscan order," founded before 4 Edward of the III. as bishop Tanner, and dedicated to St Francis. It is said by Speed to have been built out of the ruins of the castle by the ancestors of Sir John. Chidiock ; but by which of them, or in what year, is not evident.
    The order of Franciscans, sometimes called Friars Minors, and Grey Friars from the colour of their habit, was instituted by St. Francis of Assisum, in Umbria in Italy, 1206, 1207 It was brought into England 4 Hen. I. (1219), as Davenport; but, as all others, 1224; and settled at Canterbury. There were three rules of St. Francis; two of the Minors and the third of the Capuchins, who pretend to imitate their founder in the strictest way. The Minors differ only in this, that, upon contest, some would have a dispensation to take and possess land, as other houses did; the other would not. Hence the former were called Fratres Gaudentioe, or Conventual; the latter, Fratres Observantim, Observants or Recollects. This reform was made by St. Bernard in 1421, came into England 1452, was entirely settled 1499, and continued till the dissolution (1)

    This order in England was divided into seven districts, called Custodies, because each was governed, under the provincials who had charge of them all, by a custos or warden, who had a power over all the convents within their custody. The seven custodies, or wardenships, were London, containing 9 convents; York, 7; Cambridge, 9 ; Bristol, 9, to which this house belonged; Oxford, 8; Newcastle, 9; Worcester, 9. All these were created before 1399. Speed and Harpsfield add five more modern. The whole number of these monasteries in England and Scotland was sixty-five.(2)

    This order was exempted from episcopal and ordinary jurisdiction; privileged from the payment of any tithes of their house, orchard, or garden, and the herbage of their cattle. They had the liberty of burying such as desired it in their church or cemetery, paying the fourth part of the obventions to the parish church. They applied themselves to preaching and assisting the sick in making their wills; were the pope's instruments in collecting taxes; and interfered greatly with monks in point of power and profit. They had seldom any charter of foundation, or formal grant in writing, of the place where their house stood, and were rarely endowed with lands, at least not of great value, but lived wholly on charity. Their churches and houses were magnificent, built by benefactions. This order was much revered by the people; who in their wills seldom neglected to give more or less to some house of this rule. Persons of quality chose their sepulture in them. It was good policy to have the disposal of their bodies, considering how they were trusted in making their testaments, in which they were sure to have a good legacy, not to mention that such examples would prevail on others to do the same. Of this Walsingham complained heavily. Having no lands, &c. they were not (at least but a few) dissolved with the lesser monasteries, 27 Hen. VHI., which act extended only to monks, nuns, and canons : so that, nothing being to be god by their ruin, they mostly escaped till the general dissolution. How much they were hated by the monks is evident from the Chronicle of Peterborough,. A.D. 1224, 0 dolor! 0 plus quam dolor! 0 pestis truculenta! Fratres Minores venerunt in Angliarn. Nor were they less odious to the secular clergy and the sensible part of the laity. Buchanan, in his poem entitled F•anciscanus, and Erasmus, in several of his Colloquies, have exposed the extravagances of this order with much humour and satire. See a full account of this order, their houses, learned men, &c. in Stevens's Supplement to Dugdale, Monast. vol. i. p. 89-160; vol. ii. p. 1-6; Dugdale, Warwickshire, pp. 182, 183.
The earliest account we find of it is in an inquisition of the abbey of Milton, 5 Edw. II. (1310), when it was found that that abbey held a burgage here near the Friars Minors; and the same year Robert Bingham gave them by his will 6s. 8d. but it was probably in existence long before.

In 1436 John Pury of Dorchester bequeathed, by his will 3s. 4d.. to the Friars Minors there.
    [Notes by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester :- There are many references in the Charters listed in the Dorchester Domesday Book which use 'Friars Minors' as a significant landmark in the town in relation to which they can relate the property in question. These are:- Charters 9, 30, 62, 68, 77, 113, 132, 133, 197-200, 208, 376, 431, 476, 551, 579, 580, 591. The Will of John Purye is Charter 476
In 1450 John Martyn the like sum `
    [Note:- The Will of John Martyn is Charter 551 which gives a date of 17th Sep 1500 and probate 25th January in the 16th year of the reign of Henry VII. which is 25 Jan 1500/1 so I do not understand John Hutchins reference to the year 1450]
By charter dated at Dorchester, Jan. 10, 19 Rich. II. (1396) William Wyther granted to John Shirewode and Alice his wife a messuage in the north street of Dorchester, which leads towards the Friars Minors, between " les Nywe shoppes " near the cross there, &c.
    [Note:- This is Charter 12 ]
Dec. 9, 4 Hen. IV. John Tomelyn, clerk, and John Morton, jun. grant by charter to Henry Gravel and Alice his wife a tenement in Dorchester, on the east side of the way which leads by the Friars Minors.'
    [Note:- This refers to the Charter 113 of Henry Crauell and Alice, his wife. (for the year 1402) which is no different to those listed in my note under John Pury above: Charter 652 (for the year 1559) however refers to "towards the precinct of the Friars Minors lately dissolved (versus precinctum fratrum minorum nuper dissolutorum)". ]
Elizabeth de Burgh, countess of Clare, left 40s. to the Friars Minors of Dorchester.(3)

An ordination was made between John Byconil, knt. and John Loss, guardian of this convent, 1485, by which the guardian and brothers admit J. Byconil and his heirs as a founder of the convent, on account of the mills by him built on the water that runs by the convent. The conventual high mass was to be first and principally appropriated to him; and they oblige themselves for ever to celebrate his decease on the day after the feast of St. Francis; that there be yearly laid up in a chest 40s. of the profits of the mills for repairing them; the bailiffs of the town, coming to pray at the obsequies, or mass, with six men shall receive of the guardian 3s. 4d. ; the profits of the mills, arising above the said ordination shall be paid out in educating boys, and making good the books in the choir; and the brothers, in perpetual memory of the said John, to be called Byconil's Fryers, and none of them to be called by their surnames. There are several other regulations hardly worth notice, which may be seen in Mr. Stevens. William Goddard, D.A. provincial minister of this order in England, and John Whitfield D.D. custos of the custody of Bristol, enjoin the observance of these ordinances under pain of excommunication. The seals of the minister and custos, and the common seal of the convent of Dorchester, were affixed to these presents. N.B. Sir John Byconel, kt. was buried at North Petherton, co. Somerset, by his will, dated 8 Aug. 1500, proved Nov. 1501(4) But Elizabeth his wife, by will dated and proved 1504, ordered her body to be buried near her husband, Sir John, at Glastonbury .(5) And Leland (6) tells us, John Byconel, kt. and Elizabeth his wife were buried in the church of St. Mary at Glaston, on the north part of the choir; and one of this family in the cathedral of Wells.

Richard Draper, D.D. custos of the custody of Bristol, guardian of the convent of Dorchester, and the brethren assembled in the chapter-house notify, that John Cokyr, esq. [scutifer], a chief benefactor of the convent, be admitted to have the suffrages and prayers of the brethren, who shall pray for the happy state of the said John, and Ada (7) his wife, during their lives, and for the souls of Ada and Avicia his wives; and for Robert Cokyr and Elizabeth his parents, when they depart this life ; and celebrate an obit yearly, on the day of his death, in the choir of the convent, before the great altar; and receive the said John, and his successors, to be some of their founders, for having given them a barn and a garden annexed, for the enlargement of the area on the south side of the cemetery. This writing to be kept in a chest, and read twice a year before the convent, by the guardian. Sealed with the seal of the community, of the custos, and of the guardian. Dated at Dorchester 23 Sept 1510, 1 Henry VIII. The first seal, which seems to be that of the convent, is lost; and the legends of the other two decayed.(8)
    Grant of an orbit to john Coker, &c. from the prior and convent of Dorchester (9).
    [Note:- there then follows a long text in latin which I have not transcribed ]
Richard III. in the first year of his reign, grants to the warden and brethren of this house, of our foundation, the hospital of St. John the Baptist, in Dorchester, lately occupied by a priest, and of our disposal; and empowers them to have the rule and ordinance of it, and to minister divine service there and receive the rents to their use'' The same year was issued a commission to the receivers and tenants of the following manors, to pay yearly to this convent: out of Little Crichil, 40s.; out of Chidiock, 20s. ; out of Candel Haddon, 20s.1

The anonymous author of some MS. collections in the Cotton Library says it was a house of great number.

John Colsweyn was guardian of the Friars Minors here, 1327. (10)

" There are no remains of the church," says Hutchins, " it being pulled down at the Reformation. The present house was altered by Sir Francis Ashley (1569-1635), who resided in it in Mr. Coker's time. It is a long, low, and irregular building: the easterly part seems to be most ancient, by three old windows. At the west end is a long gallery, perhaps once the dormitory. On a chimney, on stone-work or stucco, "G". a chevron between three swans ar. Crest, a swan, but the colours faded. Under it, Insignia Lyte de Lytes Cary, in comitatu Somerset. Near it, on the wall, 1607. In a corner of a little room within this, from which it seems to have been parted, are the arms of Ashley, Az, a cinquefoil ar. with a crescent of the same in a border erm. Crest, a plume of feathers. In another room, over a chimney, on stucco, Amour. Service. Under it the arms and crest of Ashley: under them, Anomia. A.narchia ; and near it, on the wall, 1623. In another room, near the west end, is an handsome chimney-piece in stucco, but without arms or inscription.

The famous Denzil Lord Holles (1599-1679) resided here, especially towards the latter part of his life, and died here. Afterwards it was the Presbyterian meeting-house, till about 1720. Opposite to the priory, on the north, is the priory close and meadow. On the bank of the river remain two old gates, and a piece of a wall which formerly might have surrounded them. On the east are a garden and orchard, where, by the uneven ground, seems to have stood the conventual church."

This house was suppressed (1535/6), 27 Hen. VIII. among the lesser monasteries.

(1543/4) 35 Hen. VIII. July 29, the site of this priory, with a barn, orchard, and garden, six acres of land, and one water-mill for corn, clear yearly value £4., and the rent of a burgage in the West Street, parcel of the monastery of Abbotsbury, value £5, were granted to Edmund Peckham, knt. for £639.4s. 2d. The site and demesnes of this house, granted as before, is in another copy said to be of the clear yearly rent of £35.8s. 5d.

1 Edw. VI. (reign commenced 28th Jan 1546/7) the premises held by Edm. Peckham, knt., and Robert Peckham, esq., who had licence to alienate to Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, and Paul Dorrel, esq., and their heirs, to the use of the said Edward for life; remainder ultra; value £12. 12s.

8 Eliz.(1565) they were held by John Strangeman, gent., a and John his son acquired the premises to him and his heirs, of John, son of George Peckham, esq. and Mary his wife, value £12.

26 Eliz.(1583) eight messuages in le Friery, Dorchester, were held by Strangeman, who had licence to alienate to Harbin.

The premises belonging to this priory seem to have passed to Robert Samways, esq. of Toiler Fratruni ; by whose heiress it came to Sir Francis Ashley (1569-1635), knt. His heiress brought it to Denzil Lord Holles; whence it came to John earl of Clare, and thence to Thomas duke of Newcastle; who sold it to John Brown of Forston, esq. It afterwards came to Francis John Browne, esq., who sold it to William Henning, esq. There are now no remains of the priory buildings.

The Priory, the north part of Priory-lane, the castle, and the lime-kilns, are in the liberty of Bindon.
Notes:- by John Hutchins:-
(1). Thoroton, Nottinghamshire, p. 491.
(2). Stevens, vol. i. p. 95, 96. Pisani Certamen seraphicum F. Angeli a S'to Francisco.
(3). See her will in Mr Nichols's Collection of Royal and Noble Wills p.33
(4). Prerog. Off. Reg. Blamyr.
(5). Prerog. Off. Reg. Holgrave.
(6). Itin. vol. iii. pp.103, 107.
(7). Ede.
(8). Ex Autograph. penes Will Coker, arm.
(9). Reprinted literatim from the last edition.

The following additional information has been extracted from:-
'Friaries: The Franciscans of Dorchester', A History of the County of Dorset: Volume 2 (1908), pp. 93-95.


The Franciscan friary, or the priory, as it is generally called, stood on the north side of the town, on the banks of the river, a little east of the castle. (fn. 23)

The date and circumstances of its foundation are unknown. It was already in existence in 1267, as in that year the friars were presented for encroaching upon the road by erecting a wall; (fn. 24) that the encroachment was of recent date is shown by the entry in the same year of the death of a workmen who fell off the wall while building it. (fn. 25)

It is said by Speed to have been built by the ancestors of Sir John Chideock. (fn. 26) Richard III claimed it as a royal foundation, (fn. 27) probably with justice.

At the time of the Dissolution there was still a room in the friary known as 'the king's chamber.' (fn. 28) The house was already a large one containing thirty-two friars in May 1296, when Edward I gave them 32s. for three days' food through Friar Nicholas of Exeter. (fn. 29)

In a deed dated 1310 a burgage held by the abbey of Milton is described as lying near the Friars Minors, (fn. 30) and in the same year the house received legacies from Thomas Button, bishop of Exeter, (fn. 31) and from Robert Bingham of Dorchester. (fn. 32)

Friars of this house received licence to preach and hear confessions, as Friar John of Grymston in 1338. (fn. 33) About the time of the Peasant Revolt the head of the house was ordered by the king to correct Friar John Grey for having excited the cottagers and tenants of the abbot of Milton against their lord. (fn. 34)

Alexander Riston, rector of the church of Sarum, left these friars two quarters of corn and one of barley, c. 1393: (fn. 35) and Robert Grenelefe alias Baker of Dorchester left them his 'best bason with ewer and best brass pot' in 1420. (fn. 36)

They also had bequests from Elizabeth de Burgh, Lady Clare (1355), (fn. 37) Sir Robert Rous, knt. (1383), (fn. 38) John de Waltham, bishop of Salisbury (1395), (fn. 39) John Seward (1400), (fn. 40) Sir William Boneville, knt. (1407), (fn. 41) William Ekerdon, canon of Exeter (1413), (fn. 42) John Pury of Dorchester (1436), (fn. 43) William Wenard of Devonshire (1441), (fn. 44) John Martyn of Dorchester (1450), (fn. 45) Thomas Strangways (1514). (fn. 46)

Richard III in 1483 granted to the warden and brethren of this house full power to have the rule and governance of the hospital of St. John the Baptist in Dorchester, lately occupied by Sir Richard Hill, priest, and now in the king's hands, and to minister divine service there and receive the rents to their use. (fn. 47) This hospital had been endowed with 100s. of rent by William Mareschal of Dorchester in 1324, (fn. 48) and in the time of Henry VIII the master of the chapel of St. John held nine burgages or tenements in the parish of St. Peter, thirteen in the parish of All Saints, and two in that of Holy Trinity. (fn. 49) The hospital had already been conferred on Eton College by Henry VI and it is doubtful whether the grant of it to the Grey Friars took effect. (fn. 50) The friars, however, at the time of the Dissolution held three tenements in the parish of All Saints and four in the parish of Holy Trinity. (fn. 51) In March 1483–4 the king further ordered the receivers and tenants of the manors of Little Crichel, Chideock, and Caundle Haddon to pay in all 80s. a year to this friary. (fn. 52)

An important addition was made to the possessions of the convent in 1485, when Sir John Byconil, knt., built and gave them some mills on the water that ran by the friary. The friars in return recognized him as chief founder of the house, conferred on him special spiritual benefits and engaged to celebrate his decease on the day after the feast of St. Francis. The mills were given on the following conditions: (I) that 40s. of the profits of the mills should be set aside each year for repairs; (2) that the friars should take it in turn week by week to pray for the donor and each should at the end of his week receive 6d.; the cursors or lecturers 'being diligently employed about their scholars' were excused this service and entitled to receive the alms, provided that they substituted another to perform the office; (3) each friar praying at the obsequies of Sir John should receive an alms; (4) the remainder of the revenues derived from the mills was to be employed in bringing of boys into the Order and their education in good manners and learning and in making good the books in the choir and in no other way: and the brethren so brought in and educated to the perpetual memory of the said John were to be called Byconil's Friars and none of them to be called by their surnames.

If these conditions were not fulfilled, the profits of the mills were to be divided equally between the Franciscan houses of Bristol, Bridgwater, and Exeter. The agreement was confirmed by William Goddard, D.D., provincial minister, and John Whitefield, custodian of Bristol, and the seals of the provincial minister, the custodian, and the convent were affixed to the deed. (fn. 53)
It is noteworthy that Sir John Byconil made no bequest to any houses of friars in his will in 1500. (fn. 54) His widow Elizabeth left 20s. to the friars of Dorchester in 1504. (fn. 55) In 1510 John Coker, esq., having given the friars a barn and a garden annexed, on the south side of the cemetery, was admitted with his family and successors to the privileges of confraternity by Richard Draper, D.D., custodian of the custody of Bristol and warden of the convent of Dorchester. (fn. 56)

Sir Roger of Newborough, knt., and William who was abbot of Milton 1481–1525 granted to these friars an annual alms of 43s. 4d. from lands in Upper Stirthill. (fn. 57)

The bishop of Dover visited the house in September, 1538, and had some difficulty in obtaining the surrender; (fn. 58) he notes that the warden, Dr. Germen, (fn. 59) had been there many years and was in high favour, so that he (the writer) had much trouble to come to a knowledge of the state of the house. Finding that the mill, which was worth £10 a year, had been recently let to Lord Stourton for £4, the visitor seized it into the king's hands and retained the miller to the king's use. The deed of surrender was signed on 30 September, 1538, by Dr. William Germen, Edmund Dorcet, Thomas Clas, John Tregynzyon, John Clement, John Laurens, Stephen Popynjay, and Thomas Wyre. (fn. 60) The 'stuff' was delivered to the bailiffs of the town on behalf of the king: it included a table at the high altar of imagery after the old fashion, a small pair of organs, fair stalls well canopied, and divers tombs in the choir, four tables and three great images of alabaster, a new tabernacle for the image of St. Francis, divers images stolen (?), and divers tombs in the church; three bells of different sizes in the steeple. In the vestry six suits with other vestments, some of them with blue velvet embroidered. In the chambers a feather bed without a bolster, blankets, quilt and sheets; two old carpets, 'one of them in the king's chamber,' besides furniture in the hall, frater, buttery, kitchen and brew-house. Further, to redeem plate in pledge for £3 and to pay certain wages and the visitor's charges the following articles were sold: an iron grate about a tomb in the church (40s.), a white vestment with deacon and subdeacon (40s.), two feather beds and a covering (10s.), 'an old cope durneks,' a pillow and old iron with a holy water stoup (7s. 8d.). The visitor also sold a press standing in the vestry for 13s. 4d. The plate weighed 126½ oz. There were also various deeds and 'two horses belonging to the mill.' (fn. 61) Part of the steeple and three panes of the cloister were covered with lead. (fn. 62)

William, Lord Stourton, sought to secure a grant of the Grey Friars, (fn. 63) but the house and grounds were in 1539 leased and in 1543 sold to Edmund Peckham, cofferer to the king's household. (fn. 64) The property, consisting of the house and site, with water-mill and 6 acres of ground, was valued at £4 a year, less 8s. for the tenth, and the price paid was £72. (fn. 65) Peckham had at the time of the Dissolution bought the elms growing on the property for £8. (fn. 66) He sold the estate to Thomas Wriothesley, earl of Southampton, and Paul Dorrel, esq., in 1547, and it subsequently passed to Sir Francis Ashley (1569-1635), knt., whose heiress brought it to Denzil, Lord Holles. (fn. 67)

John Colsweyn, 1327 (fn. 68)
John Loss, 1485 (fn. 69)
Richard Draper, 1510
William Germen, 1538

Footnotes: (fn.)
(23). Ibid. (ed. 3), ii, 364.
(24). Assize R. 202.
(25). Ibid.
(26). Speed, Hist. 1055. Dugdale and others say it was built 'out of the ruins of the Castle.' The tradition that some monuments in St. Peter's church were monuments of the Chideocks and were removed from the Grey Friars church lacks confirmation: Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 381. For pedigree of the Chideock family, see ibid. 257. In the Year Book of 1364 there is a reference to a 'college de xxx soers in le Precheurs de Dorcet': this is probably a mistake for Dartford: Les Reports des Cases on Ley (1679), Mich. 36 Edw. III, 28.
(27). Harl. MS. 433, fol. 131.
(28). L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 474 (2).
(29). B.M. Add. MS. 7965, fol. 7.
(30). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 364.
(31). Account of the Executors of . . . Thomas bishop of Exeter (Camd. Soc.), 42.
(32). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 364.
(33). Reg. Rad. de Salopia (Somers. Rec. Soc. ix), 322.
(34). Camb. Univ. Lib. MS. Dd. iii, 53, fol. 97.
(35). P.C.C. Rous, fol. 66b.
(36). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 387.
(37). Nicholas, Royal and Noble Wills, 33–4.
(38). P.C.C. Rous, fol. 1; Coll. Top. et Geneal. iii, 100.
(39). P.C.C. Rous, fol. 32.
(40). Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Arundel i, fol. 193a; cf. Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 389–90.
(41). Exeter Epis. Reg. Stafford, 391.
(42). Ibid. 402.
(43). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 364, 388.
(44). P.C.C. Rous, fol. 105.
(45). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 364, 388.
(46). P.C.C. Fetiplace, qu. 13.
(47). Harl. MS. 433, fol. 131.
(48). Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 28.
(49). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 408–9.
(50). On this hospital see Dugdale, Mon. vi, 759.
(51). Ibid.
(52). Harl. MS. 433, fol. 164b.
(53). Fr. a. S. Clara (Chr. Davenport), Hist. Minor Fratrum Minorum Prov. Angliae, 37–8; Collectanea Anglo-Minoritica, i, 208; Dugdale, Mon. vi; Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 364.
(54). P.C.C. Blamyr, 5.
(55). Ibid. Holgrave, 15.
(56). Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 365.
(57). Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 251.
(58). L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 482.
(59). Cf. Little, Grey Friars in Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), 275.
(60). L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 474.
(61). Ibid.
(62). Treas. Receipts (P.R.O.), A. 3 / 11;, fol. 4.
(63). L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiii (2), 482.
(64). Ibid. xv, 555 (Aug. Off. Bk. 211, fol. 24); xviii (1), 981 (108).
(65). Partic. for Grants, file 852, m. 2, 6; Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 366.
(66). Partic. for Grants, ibid. m. 3.
(67). On the history of the site see Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 365–6.
(68). Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, ii, 187; Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 365.
(69). Franc. a. S. Clara (Chr. Davenport), Hist. Min. Frat. Minorum Prov. Angl. 37–8.

Reg. Mortival, vol.ii.p187. De inquirendo de diversis articulis tangentibus prioratum sive capellam de Dorchester. Hilarii records 18 Hen.VIII.rot.6.

The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

Church Lands
Page 366

35 Hen. VIII. (1543) one messuage, 2s. yearly rent, two pounds of wax, one pound of pepper, the gift of several benefactors here, belonged to Abbotsbury Abbey.(10)

In 1293, lands here of the Abbot of Abbotsbury were valued at 7s.; of the Prior of Frampton at 5s.; of the Abbot of Cerne at 7s.; of the Abbot of Middleton at 12s. 6d.(11)

4 Edw. II. (1310) the Abbot of Milton held here one burgage near the Fryars Minor; another in the South Street; one shop [selda] (12) near St. Peter's church; and a rent of two pounds of wax, issuing out of the tenement of Nicholas de Bosco, in this town. (13)

18 Edw. II.(1324) it was found not to the King's loss to grant leave to Thomas Crabbe to give two messuages and 10s. rent here, to the Abbot and Convent of Bindon.

36 Hen. VIII. (1544) six messuages in All Saints and St. Peter's parish, parcel of Bindon, and other messuages, parcel of Cerne, Abbotsbury, and Dorchester monasteries, were granted to John Pope for £996. 14s. 4d. The same year two burgages in Holy Trinity and St. Peter's parishes, parcel of Abbotsbury Abbey, were granted to Thomas Godwin.

1 and 2 Philip and Mary (1554) , lands, &c. parcel of the preceptory of Mayne, late belonging to Sir Thomas Seymour, attainted, were granted to Sir Thomas Tresham, master of the preceptory of St. John of Jerusalem.

4 Eliz. I (1561) a burgage in All Saints for maintaining a fraternity, and a rent of 2s. out of two acres of land in the west walls for the maintenance of a lamp, were granted to Sir Edward Warner, knt. and his heirs.

18 Eliz.I (1575) the chapel of St. Rumbald, (14) with houses belonging to it, was granted to John Aiscough and John Dudley, and their heirs.

27 Eliz.I (1584). the site or house, with its appurtenances, called Bishop's Court, alias Bishop's Hall, was granted to Lord Burghley for ever.

Here was anciently an hospital or house of lepers, value 40s. which was received yearly from Mr. Williams for their gowns; in which house were ten poor men, but no land belonging to it. (15) Where this house was situated is not now known. (Also see brief comments below under HOSPITAL OR LAZAR-HOUSE, DORCHESTER)

Notes:- by John Hutchins:-
(10). Inq. Abbotsbury.
(11). Tax.Temp.
(12). Spelman, in voce, explains selda, a window. Selde, in Saxon, is a seat; hence applied to a shop or show-board. So the assize of measures, 9 Ric. I.(1197) in Hoveden, ' Prohibemus ne quis mercator prœtendat seldæ suœ rubros pannos,
(13). Inq.Milton.
(14). There was a Chapel called St Rumwald's in South Street. Temp Henry IV. the executors of John Syward, senior, granted to Roger Brydeport a burgage and curtilage on the east side of the South Street in Dorchester, with a pigeon house adjoining, situate between the tenement of John Wespray on the north and the sometime chapel ( capellam quondum) of St Rumwald on the south. And by charter dated at Dorchester on Monday next after the feast of the Translation of St Thomas the Martyr, 14178, John Rogers Lord of Brianston, and Walter Rogers, his brother, quitclaimed to Richard Grene of Chylecumbe their right &c in the same burgage, situate on the east side of South Street, between the tenement late of John Wespray's on the north aqnd the place of the sometime chapel of St Rumwald on the south.
(15). Chantry Roll.

The following additional information has been extracted from:-
A History of the County of Dorset: Volume 2 (1908), pp. 101-103.

Hospital of St. John the Baptist, Dorchester

The hospital here, commonly called 'St. John's House,' was under the royal patronage, and presumably of royal foundation, but we hear nothing of it until the year 1324, when William Marshall of Dorchester obtained a licence from Edward II to endow a chaplain who should celebrate daily in the chapel of the hospital of St. John, Dorchester, for the soul of the said William, for the souls of his ancestors and successors and all the faithful departed. (fn. 45) The date, therefore, when the hospital was built cannot be definitely stated.

The wardenship, like that of many other royal free chapels and hospitals within the gift of the crown, was frequently held with other offices. In June, 1334, Edward III presented his clerk, Martin de Ixnyngge, to the custody of the king's hospital of Dorchester for life, directing the brethren and sisters of the house to be 'intendant' to their new head, (fn. 46) who, in the previous February, had been appointed master of the hospital of Maidstone, Kent. (fn. 47) In 1451 William Man, vicar of Sturminster Marshall, was warden of this hospital. (fn. 48)

As far as its internal management is concerned a royal writ was issued, 18 November, 1359, directing the escheator of the county to make inquiry into the truth of the report that certain lands and rents pertaining to the hospital of St. John of Dorchester 'of our patronage' had been granted away by former custodians to the great waste and destruction of the house, so that various services and almsgiving, established for the souls of the king's progenitors, had ceased and been withdrawn; a jury should be empanelled to ascertain what lands and rents formerly belonged to the house, what had been alienated away, and by whom it had been done. (fn. 49) The return, made the following month, stated that the hospital formerly possessed seventeen messuages in the town of Dorchester which produced a yearly rent of £7 6s. 4d., a water-mill, 96 acres of arable land, and 7 acres of meadow in Fordington, two cottages, 5 acres of land and meadow in Puddletown with appurtenances, and that Richard Creyk, late master, eight years ago alienated one messuage to Richard Tannere, chaplain, for the annual rent of 17s. for the term of his life. Since that time the present warden, Simon de Brantingham, had made further alienations, and had not only conveyed away land but carried off the goods and chattels of the house, including linen (naperia) and bedding. (fn. 50) In the course of these proceedings the said Simon seems to have been either deposed or suspended, for the following year the patent rolls, under date of 6 July, 1360, record that Edward III granted to his beloved clerk, Thomas de Brantingham, the life custody of the hospital of St. John Baptist, Dorchester, vacant and in his gift. (fn. 51)

In March, 1451, Henry VI made a grant of the hospital (vulgarly called 'Sayntjohneshous') with all its emoluments to the provost and college of Eton, his deed reciting that whereas the custody was then in the hands of William Man, vicar of Sturminster Marshall, the present grant should not hold good until by the death or cession of the said incumbent the hospital should next come into the king's hands. (fn. 52) Whether this grant ever took effect it is difficult to say, for though it was confirmed by Edward IV in 1467, (fn. 53) and again in 1473, (fn. 54) the crown continued to appoint as the custody fell vacant, (fn. 55) and in the first year of his reign Richard III bestowed the hospital, 'lately occupied by a priest and of our disposal,' on the Friars Minor of Dorchester. (fn. 56) The Act of Resumption passed on the accession of Henry VII ordained that it should not be prejudicial 'to any graunte or letters patents made by King Edward IV, late king of England, to Maister Richard Hill, now dean of the king's chapell, of and for the free chapell of Seynt John's in Dorchester.' (fn. 57)

The Valor of 1535 gives this house a clear income of £3 4s. Antony Weldon was then 'rector' or incumbent. (fn. 58) By the Chantry Commissioners it was valued at £9 13s. 2d., out of which 42s. 8d. was deducted in 'rents resolute,' leaving a balance of £7 10s. 6d. (fn. 59) The whole amount was received by the last incumbent, Edward Weldon, 'towards his exhibition at the University of Oxford by virtue of king's letters patent dated 4 August 32 Henry VIII' (1540). (fn. 60) On the confiscation of colleges and chantries he was assigned a pension of £6. (fn. 61)

Wardens of Dorchester Hospital (fn. 62)

Martin de Ixnyngge, appointed 1334 (fn. 63)

Robert Creyk, appointed 1351 (fn. 64)

Simon de Brantingham, appointed 1354 (fn. 65)

Thomas de Brantingham, appointed 1360 (fn. 66)

Roger de Stoke, appointed 1370 (fn. 67)

Thomas de Brounflet, appointed 1376 (fn. 68)

Henry Harburgh, 1399 (fn. 69)

William Man, occurs 1451 (fn. 70)

William Brown, appointed 1462, (fn. 71) occurs 1470 (fn. 72)

Oliver Kyng, appointed 1473 (fn. 73)

Richard Hill, appointed 1477, (fn. 74) resigned before 1485 (fn. 75)

Thomas Otteley, 1485 (fn. 76)

John Burton, 1495, (fn. 77) died 1499

John Argentine, 1499 (fn. 78)

Antony Weldon, occurs 1535 (fn. 79)

Edward Weldon, last incumbent (fn. 80)


There appears to have been a hospital built here for the relief of lepers, but no particulars have yet been recovered as to the date when it was founded or the name of the founder. The chantry certificate of Edward VI states that the hospital or 'house of leprosy' at Dorchester had no lands, but consisted of ten poor men who received an annual rent of 40s. for their gowns 'by the hands of Mr. Williams, Esquire.' (fn. 81)


45 Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 28.
46 Ibid. 8 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 14.
47 Ibid. m. 41; see Newcourt, Eccl. Repert. (i, 748), for a list of the preferments at different times of this clerk.
48 Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
49 Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. III (2nd Nos.), 88.
50 Ibid.
51 Pat. 34 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 23. This may be an error of the scribe and refer to Simon, or it may be mere coincidence for two wardens to have the same name.
52 Ibid. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
53 Ibid. 7 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 13.
54 Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 10.
55 Edward IV in the first year of his reign, 21 Feb. 1462, appointed William Brown to the custody (ibid. 1 Edw. IV, pt. 5, m. 18). Henry VI on his brief return to power in 1470, without reference to his former grant, ratified the estate of the said William as master or warden of St. John Baptist, Dorchester, as well as master of the house or chapel called 'le priory hermitage' by Dorchester (ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12). Edward IV, after granting the reversion of the house, when it should next come into the king's hand, in frankalmoign to William Westbury, the provost and college of Eton, March, 1473, in November of the same year committed the custody to Master Oliver Kyng, one of the clerks of the Signet (ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 10 and 2), the letters patent for the last being exchanged in November, 1477, in favour of Richard Hill (ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29).
56 Harl. MS. 433, 1603, fol. 131.
57 Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367.
58 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 243.
59 Chant. Cert. 16, No. 2.
60 Ibid. 1484. The clear income was estimated again at £7 15s. 5d.; ibid.
61 B. Willis, Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72.
62 The following list of wardens is taken, with some additional names and corrections, from that supplied by Hutchins from B. Willis, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
63 Pat. 8 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 14.
64 Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
65 Ibid.
66 Pat. 34 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 23.
67 Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
68 Pat. 50 Edw. III, pt. 2, m. 5.
69 Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
70 Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 8.
71 Ibid. 1 Edw. IV, pt. 5, m. 18.
72 Ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12.
73 Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. 1, m. 2.
74 Ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29.
75 Parl. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367.
76 Hutchins, Hist. of Dorset, ii, 416.
77 Ibid.
78 Ibid.
79 Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 243.
80 This last may be the same as the Antony Weldon of 1535. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 84.
81 Chant. Cert. 16, No. 89.

The Castle
Pages 366-367

Out of whose ruins the priory was built, was raised, as some suppose, by the Romans, who walled the town; or, as others, re-built by William the Conqueror, after it had been destroyed by the Danes. The site of it, still retaining its name, belonged to the Priory, and at its dissolution went to the same owners. It lies on the north side of Sheep Lane, on a rising ground, a little west of the Priory, and about a furlong east from Poundbury; commanding the vale on the north, and the town on the south and east, near the river, which runs at its foot. The area contains about six acres; its form oval. Towards the north-west part was an eminence higher than the rest, still called the Castle Mount; and on the edge of the precipice was a rampart of earth, like a bastion; but these were necessarily removed when the ground was levelled. There is a small rampart and ditch visible on the north and east sides. When the Presbyterian meetinghouse was built, about 1720, on digging the foundations, a large cavity was discovered, made through the chalk, leading from the castle to the town, and a lesser one on each side the former, all very deep ; perhaps a subterraneous communication with the town. The Castle Hill is now the site of the gaol, finished in 1795. The fee of the ground on which it is built was given to the county by Francis John Browne, esq. of Frampton, one of the members for the county, in a manner very much to his honour; and the county purchased of him the remainder of the land about it (to prevent the prison being overlooked, or otherwise disturbed), as well as the lifehold interest in the whole of the ground of Robert Lambert, esq. treasurer of the county.

The following governors of this castle occur in records :-

    John Marshall, nephew of William, first of that name, earl of Pembroke, was appointed 17 John (1) (1215/6);
    Robert de Maris, 25 Jan. 40 Hen. III. (2) (1255);
    William Turbervile, 28 Dec. 41 Hen. III.; (3)
    55 Hen. III. (1270) Dorcestre Castle, with a forest, was granted to William Belet, 25 Nov.
The following are extracts from the Pipe Rolls relating to Dorchester and its castle, &c. :

    7 Rich.. I. (1195) "In repair of the King's buildings in the castle of Dorecestre and Sireburne £40. by brief of H. Archbishop of Canterbury."

    3 John. (1201)"And in small (minutis) expenses for the King's buildings at Dorcestre, and the carriage of his wines from Sudhanton (Southampton) unto Dorecestre, £7. 14s. 0½d. by the King's writ, and by the view of John de Dorcestre and William de London—And for eight cart and three horse-loads, and two horses, of Ralph Parmentarii (Parmentier, man-milliner) and the Poytevin, and their boys, 19s. 3½d. whilst they made stay at Dorcestre by the aforesaid brief—And for the costs of eleven of the King's horses at Dorcestre 36s. by the aforesaid writ; and for the quittance that the Bishop of Salisbury has for seven hundreds at Dorecestre 35s. this year."

    4 John. (1202) "And in a payment to the chaplain of Dorecestre 50s. and to William " Wallensi," the King's servant, with his twelve boar hounds, 101s. from the 31st of March thenceforward till the 21st day of May. And for the repair of the castle of Dorchester 100s. ; and to Richard de la Wade and his man, and for the King's falcons moulted at Dorchester, 113s. 4d. from the 4th day of April until the feast of St. Michael."

    5 John. (1203) " And in a payment to the chaplain of Dorecestre 50s. And in a payment of one falconer and the costs (custamentis) laid out for four falcons and one falconer with his horse and man at Dorchester from Michaelmas day until Saint Dionysius's day, &c. and for the carriage of the same falcons beyond sea to the King, 40s. And in the cost of the King's houses at Dorchester and the Vivarium `' £18. 19s. 6d."

    7 John. (1205) The salary of the King's chaplain, as before. "And to the Abbot of Bindon 30s. for a mill beyond Dorecestre; and for the expenses of the Queen at Dorcestre 26s.; and for the carriage of the King's pavilions from Dorchester unto " M'berg" 3s. 4d.; and in the repair of the King's houses at Dorecestre £6. 10s."

    8 John. (1206) "And to the monks of Binnendon 20s. for the mill of Fordington , which is held of the King's gift." Payments to the chaplain and Abbot of Bindon as before. "And in the repair of the King's buildings of Dorecestre and of the pigeon-house, 101. 14s. 9d."

    9 John. (1207) Payments to the monks of Bindon and the Dorchester chaplain as before.

    10 John. (1208) "In repair - of the buildings of Dorcestre 60s."

    13 John. (1211) "In repair of the castle and buildings of Dorecestre 62s. 5d."

    14 John. (1212) " And in the maintenance of Robert de Hauvill and his girfalcons whilst he made his abode at Dorchester 76s. 2d.; and for making ready the King's Mews at Dorkecestre, and preparing the houses, 112s."

    15 John. (12130 "In repairing the castle and houses of Dorcestre 62s. 5d."

    16 John. (1214) "And in the repair of the castle of Dorcestr 10s. ; and in the repair of the buildings in the castle of Dorecestre 42s."

    17 John. (1215) "In repair of the King's buildings at Dorchester 25s."

    11 Hen. III.(1226) "And in work about the King's pigeon-houses at Dorcestre 18s."

    14 Hen. III.(1229) "And in the repair of the King's kitchens at Dorecestre and Shireburne £57. 9s. 10d."

    38 Hen. III.(1253) "And in books and suitable vestments bought for the King's chapel at Dorecestre, and for the repair of the same chapel, £8. 16s. 5d."

    For an account of the Roman pavement and other antiquities discovered here, see hereafter under the head of ANTIQUITIES.

The Castle : Genealogical Notes:-
(1) John Hutchins reference was'Dugdale, Baron vol.i.p.599. Note:- Regnal years for King John do not follow the usual convention. He came to the throne on Ascension Day, which is a movable feast; so each of his regnal years start on Ascension Day and not on the calendar anniversary of his accesion. The 17th year of the reign of King John started on 28 May 1215 and lasted until 18 May 1216
(2) John Hutchins reference was Rot. Pat. MS. Dugdale O, in Museo Ashmol.
(3) John Hutchins reference was Rot Pat

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