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SAN oiceo 



Zbc IDictotia 1bi8tov\> of tbe 
Counties of Englanb 











This History is issued to Subscribers only 
By Archibald Constable & Company Limited 
and printed by Eyre & Spottisivoode 
H.M. Printers of London 






















Dedication ..... 
Contents ..... 

List of Illustrations and Maps . 
Editorial Note .... 

Ecclesiastical History 
Religious Houses : — 

Introduction .... 

Abbey of Abbotsbury 

Abbey of Cerne 

Abbey of Milton 

Abbey of Sherborne . 

Priory of Cranborne . 

Priory of Horton 

Abbey of Shaftesbury 

Priory of Holne or East Holme . 

Abbey of Blndon 

Abbey of Tarrant Kaines . 

Preceptor)- of Friar Mayne 

Dominican Friars of Gillinghain . 

Dominican Friars of Melcombe Regis 

Franciscan Friars of Dorchester . 

Carmelite Friars of Bridport 

Carmelite Friars of Lyme . 

Austin Friars of Sherborne . 

' Priory Hermitage ' of Blackmoor 

Wilcheswood .... 

Hospital of St. Mary Magdalen 
Allington .... 

Hospital of Long Blandford 

Hospital of St. Mary and the Holy 
Spirit, Lyme 

Hospital of St. John the Baptist, 

Hospital of St. John the Baptist, 
Dorchester .... 

Hospital or Lazar-House, Dorchester 

Hospital of St, John the Baptist 
Shaftesbury . . , 

Hospital of St. John the Baptist and 
St. John the Evangelist, Sherborne 

Hospital of St. Thomas, Sherborne 

Hospital of St Leonard, Tarranl 
Rushton .... 

Hospital of St. Margaret and St 
Anthony, VVimborne 

Hospital of Wareham 

Wimborne Minster . 

Priory of Frampton . 

By Miss M M. C. Calthrop 

Bv A. G. Little, M.A 

By Miss M M. C. Calthrop 

















Religious Houses {continued) — 
Priory of Loders 
Priory of Povington . 
Priory of Spettisburv 
Priory of Wareham . 

Political History 

Maritime History 

Social and Economic History 

Table of Population, 1S01-1901 

Forestry .... 
Sport, Ancient and Modern 
Hunting . 
Foxhounds . 

Blackmore \'ale Hounds 
The Cattistock . 
The South Dorset 
Lord Portman's Houn 
Point-to-Point Races 

The Ranston Bloodhound 
Roe-Deer Hunting 
Harriers and Beagles 

Racing Celebrities 
Training Establishments and 

Industries : — 



The Hemp Industry 

Fisheries . 

Cloth . 


Pottery and Tiles 

Brewing . 



By Miss M. M. C. Calthrop . 

By Mrs. Edward Fripp, Oxford Honours Schoo 
of Modern History .... 

By M. Oppenheim ..... 

By Miss Madeleine C. Fripp and Miss Phylli 
Wrahce, Oxford Honours School of Modern 
History ...... 

By George S. Minchin .... 

By A. J. Buckle 

By the Rev. J. C. Cox, LL.D., F.S.A 

Edited by the Rev. E. E. Dorlino, M.A. 

By the Rev. Pierce A. Butler (' Purbeck Pilgrim ') 









31 + 


., . ,. . 318 

•, „ .318 

By Capt. Eustace R^uclvfff, J. P. , . . ^19 

By the Rev. Pierce A. Butler ('Purbeck Pilgrim ') 320 

By the Rev. E. E. Dorlino, M.A. . . . 322 

By Miss M. M. Crick, B.A. (Dublin), Oxford 
Honours School of Modern History 

By C. H. \'ellacott, B.A. .... 

By Miss M. M. Crick, B.A. (Dublin), Oxford 
Honours School of Modern History 

By Miss M. M. Crick, B.A (Dublin), Oxford 
Honours Schoul of Modern History, andC. H. 
V'ellacott, B.A. ...... 








Dorchester. By William Hyde .......... Frontispiece 

Etclesiastic.ll Map of Dorset .......... ficing 45 

Dorset Monastic Ssals : — 

Plate I . . . . . . . . . . full-page plate facing 62 

Plate II „ „ „ 102 

Map of Dorset shewing excess of Hamlets over Villages . ..... Jacing 126 

Plan of Portland Harbour shewing New Breakwater .... full-page plate facing 226 


The Editor wishes to express his acknowledgements to 
Mr. J. Merrick Head and Sir J. Charles Robinson, C.B 
f.S.A., for notes and assistance on the section on Mining 
in the article on the Industries of the county, and to 
the Hon. Thomas A. Brassey for an illustration to the 
article on Maritime History. 




SAVE for the discovery of that early Christian emblem, the chirho, in 
a Roman pavement excavated at Frampton ^ there is no evidence to 
connect Dorset w^ith the early Roman-British church, or any proof 
that Christianity existed here before the later Roman mission.'' 
Nor can the ecclesiastical history of this county be said to commence in 
the seventh century with the conversion of the West Saxons at the preaching 
of Birinus their apostle and first bishop, who, on his landing in 635, found 
the inhabitants of the district ' most pagan ' {pagannissimos) according to 
Bede.^ Dorset, it should be remembered, formed no integral part of the 
West Saxon kingdom in which it afterwards became absorbed and no men- 
tion of it occurs under the earlier Wessex bishops whose seat was established 
at Dorchester (Oxford). While discarding an ancient record which names 
Cenwalch of Wessex, who died in 672, as one of the ' kings, founders of 
the church of Sherborne,' * an early foundation at Wareham may indicate 
previous fugitive attempts to draw Dorset into the channel of church organiza- 
tion in Wessex as it then existed by establishing a mission centre to its 
south-east, but it was not until the military subjugation of the county had 
been completed that it was swept into the main stream of national ecclesiasti- 
cal life by the establishment of a bishop-stool at Sherborne in 705 on the 
death of Bishop Haeddi and the division of the West Saxon diocese.' 

What the precise limits of the new see were is not easy exactly to 
define. The two sees formed out of the old Wessex diocese are described 
roughly as ' east and west of Selwood,' the large forest of that name which 
stretched between them constituting a convenient border line. The Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle^ recording the death of Bishop Aldhelm in 709, says, ' this 
year died bishop Aldhelm : he was bishop of the west of Selwood.' * Henry 
of Huntingdon again states : ' Ine in the twentieth year of his reign divided 
the bishopric of Wessex which used to be one into two sees : that portion 
east of the woods Daniel held, that which was west of the woods was held by 
Aldhelm.' ^ According to William of Malmesbury the see ' west of Selwood,' 
the bishop-stool of which was fixed at Sherborne, included the counties 

' Anh. Jout-n. xxviii (1872), 217-21. 

' Mr. Moule, in his description of Old Dorset (pp. 50-51), comments on the absence of reference to this 
county in the Monumenta Historica Britannka, which focusses all classic authoritie? of the period. In refer- 
ence to the ancient British church in Wessex, the fact that St. Chad, afterwards bishop of Lichfield, was 
consecrated to the see of York by Wine, bishop of Wessex, assisted by two British bishops, seems to show that in 
that district the bishops who owed their ordination directly to Rome after the Roman Kentish mission were 
in communion with those of the earlier British school. Dioc. Hist, of Salisbury (S.P.C.K.), p. z8. 

' Eal. Hist. lib. iii, cap. vii. * Cott. MS. Faust. A. ii, fol. 23. 

' Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 375. The division of the Wessex dioceses into two sees, 
one e t.iblished at Sherborne and the other at Winchester, is usually attributed to King Ine, but has also been 
ascribed to synodal authority. Wharton, Jtiglia Sacra, ii, 20. 

^ Anglo-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 38. ' Hist. Angl. (Rolls Ser.), i, no. 


of Wilts., Dorset, Berks., Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall ; ' and we may per- 
haps conclude that the new diocese consisted at least of the whole of Dorset 
and Somerset, with a large part of Wiltshire, and probably included Devon 
and Cornwall. 

If there had been delay and difficulty in bringing this county into line 
with the rest of Wessex, Dorset certainly sprang, ecclesiastically as well as 
politically, into the front rank from the date of the constitution of the see. The 
saintly Aldhelm, kinsman and partner of King Ine in all schemes for the 
welfare and advancement of the kingdom, was elected and by Archbishop 
Berchtwald consecrated first bishop of Sherborne in 705.' As regards his 
previous connexion with this county, William of Malmesbury recounts how, 
prior to his departure for Rome to obtain from the pope various privileges 
for the monasteries he had established, Aldhelm visited his Dorset estate near 
Wareham and Corfe Castle and built a church two miles from the sea, 
* wherein he commended to God his going and returning.' According to 
the chronicler the church was still standing in his day — about the beginning 
of the twelfth century — and was regarded by the inhabitants of the country 
with singular veneration on account of the signs and miracles which had 
taken place there. The shepherds of the district, it was said, when storms 
broke over them, would fiy for shelter within its walls, where no rain ever 
fell though the roof had fallen and all attempts to cover it had failed.^" 
During the four short years of his rule the bishop worthily initiated the 
work of the church in Dorset. At Sherborne he built, or at least com- 
menced, his minster or cathedral church," to which was attached a house of 
secular canons, the ' familia,' or household, at that time always forming part 
of a bishop's seat. Another important religious foundation, dating not later 
than the formation of the episcopal see, was the house of religious virgins 
built by St. Cuthburga, sister of King Ine, at Wimborne, and specially 
referred to by Aldhelm in a letter, dated 705, giving liberty of election to 
the monasteries under his charge, as ' the monastery by the river which is 
called Wimburnia presided over by the abbess Cuthburga.' ^^ During the 
eighth century the fame of the nuns here and the report of the training and 
discipline of the abbess-founder and her successors spread even to the Con- 
tinent, and St. Boniface, the apostle of the Germans, sent over to make 
request that the sisters Lioba and Agatha might be allowed to proceed abroad 
to take charge of the monastery he had founded at BiscofFsheim in order that 
the same rule and discipline might be planted there.^* 

To enumerate briefly the succession of bishops of Sherborne in the 
eighth and ninth centuries : Aldhelm, on his death in 709, was followed by 
Forthere," who in 737 is said to have accompanied Queen Frythogith to 
Rome,^° and was succeeded by Herewald, consecrated by Archbishop Nothelm 
in 736,^* in whose time was held the council of Clovesho (747), at which 

' Ges/a Pon/if. (Rolls Ser.), 175. 

' Flor. Vi^orc. Ciron. (Engl. Hist. Soc), i, 46 ; Wm. of Malmesbury, Gafa Pontlf. (Rolls Ser.), 376. 

" Ibid. 363-4. " Ibid 378. " Birch, Carl. Sax. i, 168. 

" Cressy, Church Hist, of Brit. lib. xxi, cap. xviii. 

" Flor. Wore. Chron. (En^l. Hist. Soc), i. 47 ; Bede, Eccl. Hist. lib. v, cap. yi'iii. 

" Anglo-Sax. Ckron. (Rolls Ser.), 40. 

" Sim. of Durham (Twysden), 100. Herewald appears to have acted as suffragan to Forthere before the 
death of the latter, for in a charter dated 734-7, they both appear as bishop of the church of Sherborne ; 
Kemble, Codex Dipl. i, 82. 



he assisted." ^thelmod, 766-78 ; Denefrith, consecrated by Archbishop 
yEthelheard in 793;" Wigberht or Wibert, who went with Archbishop 
Wulfred to Rome in 8 i 2.^' Ealhstan, a vahant soldier no less than bishop, 
and esteemed for his military prowess, took an important part in the conflicts 
of his time, and not only assisted King Egbert in the subjugation of the 
kingdoms of Kent and Essex, but afforded him and his successor material 
help as well as active encouragement in their struggle against the Danes.^° 
William of Malmesbury, who described the bishop as of singular power in 
secular matters and pre-eminent in counsel, but resented his action in having 
appropriated the abbey of Malmesbury to the episcopal see, declared that 
avarice, spite of his liberality in the national cause, was the besetting sin of 
Ealhstan, adding, however, that he left his church well endowed." Accord- 
ing to i\\Q Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Ealhstan died in 867, after he had held the 
bishopric of Sherborne ' fifty winters,' and ' his body lies there in the town.' "^ 
Bishop Heahmund, who subscribed 868—70, again recalls the fierce conflict 
going on with the Danes, for he, ' with many good men,' was slain in battle 
at Merton in 871 ; ''^ his successor, iEthelheah, subscribed 871—8 ; Wulfsige, 
^Ifsige, or Alfsius, 883.'* Asser, chiefly remembered as the friend and 
biographer of King Alfred, signed acts in 900 and 904. He was in all 
probability made bishop of the western portion of the diocese, which at that 
time reached to Land's End, in the lifetime of his predecessor and succeeded 
to the whole on the death of Wulfsige ; this, at any rate, offers a solution of 
the fact that Asser is described by Alfred as ' my bishop ' at a date previous 
to 890, while Asser himself states that the king bestowed on him the charge 
of Exeter with the whole diocese that pertained to it in Saxony (Wessex) and 
Cornwall,^^ and disposes of the confusion resulting from the two bishops 
appearing as contemporary occupants of the same see.^° 

The beginning of the tenth century brings us to what has been described 
as 'the great ecclesiastical event of the reign of Edward the Elder,' " the second 
division of the West Saxon see, with the account of the consecration of the 
seven bishops at Canterbury. 'In the year 904 of our Lord's nativity,' writes 
William of Malmesbury — 

Pope Formosus sent letters into England by which he pronounced excommunication 
and malediction on king Edward and all his subjects, instead of the benediction which had 
been sent by Pope Gregory from the seat of St. Peter to the English people, because for 
7 whole years the whole district of the West Saxons had been destitute of bishops. On 
hearing this king Edward assembled a council of the senators of the English people, over 
which Plegmund, archbishop of Canterbury, presided interpreting carefully the words of the 
apostolic message. Then the king and bishops chose a salutary council for themselves and 
their people and, according to the word of our Lord ' the harvest truly is plenteous but the 

" Wilkins, Condi, i, 94. " Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i, 79. 

" Flor. of V7orc. Chron. (Engl. Hist. Sec), i, 64. 

" Gesta Regum Angl. (Rolls Ser.), i, 109. King .(Ethelwulf is said to have had two excellent bishops : 
St. Swithun of Winchester, who directed the king in celestial matters ; and Ealhstan of Sherborne, who advised 
him in earthly affairs. 

»' Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 175-6. " Op. cit. 53. 

" Ibid. 62. The following year King .iEthelred, who received mortal injuries in the same battle, died 
and was buried at Wimborne (ibid.), his predecessors, .^thelbald and .(Ethelbert, having received burial at 
Sherborne; ibid. 58-9. 

" Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 177. " Petrie, Monumenia Hist. Brit. 4, 9. 

" Lingard, Anglo-Saxon Church, ii, 433 ; W. H. Jones, Early Annals of the Episcopate in Wilts and Dorset, 

" Stubbs, William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum (Rolls Ser.), Introd. ii, p. liv. 



labourers are few,' they elected and constituted a bishop to every province of the West 
Saxons and divided the district which formerly had two bishoprics into five. The 
council being dismissed, the archbishop went to Rome with many presents and conciliating 
the Pope with great humility recited the king's ordinance which gave the pontiff great 
pleasure. And returning home, in one day he consecrated in the city of Canterbury 
7 bishops to 7 churches, namely, Frithstan to Winchester, .(Ethelstan to Ramsbury, 
Waerstan to Sherborne, Athelm to Wells, Eadulf to Crediton, also to other provinces he 
constituted 2 bishops, Beornege to the South Saxons (Selsey) and to the Mercians Ceolwulf 
whose see was at Dorchester.^* 

On critical examination many of the details in the above account are shown 
to be inaccurate.^' The story of the negotiations of Edward the Elder with 
Pope Formosus falls to the ground as his pontificate ended four years 
before the king's reign began, while the immediate successor of Asser, 
whose death is recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 
910,'" was not Waerstan but ^Ethelweard, who as bishop of Sherborne 
attested a charter of King Edward in 909.*^ As to the tradition, dating 
from the eleventh century, of the consecration of seven bishops at Canterbury 
in one day, the story is said by its most eminent critic to contain ' no special 
improbability although it would be unwise to risk a positive identification of 
the persons consecrated.' ^^ The points to be retained are that the visit 
of Archbishop Plegmund to Rome in 908 '^ was followed by the division of 
the diocese of Winchester into two bishoprics,'* one remaining at Winchester 
as before, the other fixed at Ramsbury, and comprising the two counties of 
Wiltshire and Berkshire or such portion of them as belonged to the territory 
of the West Saxons ; and that subsequently the diocese of Sherborne, as it 
existed prior to 909, was divided into three bishoprics : Sherborne for the 
county of Dorset, Wells for Somerset, and Crediton for Devonshire.'^ 

To return to the succession of bishops of Sherborne after the division of 
the diocese : Waerstan, one of the seven prelates consecrated in one day by 
Archbishop Plegmund, was killed, according to William of Malmesbury, in 
937, on the eve of the battle of Brunanburh ; '° his signature is not found 
attached to any genuine charter. An interpolation of Florence of Worcester 
states that ' on the death of Waerstan, iEthelbald succeeded,' " and his name 
follows in the list of bishops given by William of Malmesbury ; Sighelm, or 
Sigelm, subscribed 925-932 ;'* Alfred, 933— 943 '^^ ; Wulfsige, said to have been 
abbot of Westminster,*" signed 943, as Mlsius Dorsetensium Episcopus his death 
is recorded in the year 958 ; *^ his successor ^Ifwold, designated in the same 
manner,*^ died in 978 and was buried at Sherborne ; *' ^thelsige, 979—991, 
was present at the consecration of Winchester Cathedral in 981 ; ** Wulfsige, 

-'' Gesta Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 1 40-1. 

■' W. H. Jones, Early Annals of the Episcopate in Wilts and Dorset, 22-3. '" Op. cit. 77. 

'' Kemble, Codex Dipl. v, 1093. According to one account of William of Malmesbury the alms sent 
by King Alfred to St. Thomas of India and Christians beyond sea were conveyed by Sighelm, bishop of 
Sherborne, whom elsewhere he makes successor to Asser [Gesta Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 130 ; Gesta Pontif. (Rolls 
Ser.), 177]. But a bishop of the name of Sighelm does not occur until three successors of Asser had passed 
away, and it is hardly probable that the two should be identical. 

'' Stubbs, Reg. Sacrum Anglic. 23. '^ Petrie, Monumenta Hist. Brit. 519. 

" Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 20 ; W. H. Jones, op. cit. 24-5. 

" Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 178. 

'* Ibid. ■" Chron. (Engl. Hist. Soc.) i, 128, note I ; 133, note 2. 

'' Stubbs. Reg. Sacrum Anglic. 25. " Ibid. p. 26. 

" Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 178. 

" Flor. Wore. Chron. (Engl. Hist. Soc), 137. *- Ibid, i, 146. 

" Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 178. " Arch. Journ. (Winchester), 15. 



Wulfsin or Wulfsy, 992—1001, was responsible for the reorganization of Sher- 
borne, monks being substituted for the secular canons who had occupied the 
house since its foundation in 705;*^ iEthelric, looi ; *" yEthelsige or ^Ethelsie,*^ 
1012— 14 ; Brihtwy or Brihtwin, included in the list of bishops given by 
William of Malmesbury and Florence of Worcester, but whose name does 
not appear in any charters of that period ; i^lfmaer, 1017, whose succession 
is recorded under the year 1022 in the Decern Scriptores*^ ; Brihtwy, 1023, 
subscribed in 1044 as bishop of Sherborne to a charter of Edward the Con- 
fessor;*' iElfwold, 1045, to whom the Confessor addressed a charter testi- 
fying a grant to Ore or Orcus his minister, the founder of Abbotsbury, 
of the shore of all his lands/" In 1058 by the appointment of Herman 'the 
king's priest,' who already held the bishopric of Ramsbury, the two sees of 
Sherborne and Ramsbury which had been separated on the division of the 
diocese in 909, became again united under one bishop holding jurisdiction 
over the counties of Berkshire, Wiltshire and Dorset." The bishop's stool re- 
mained at Sherborne till the year 1075, when, by decree of the council of 
London ordering the removal of sees from small towns and villages to more 
populous centres, it was transferred to the city of Old Sarum,^^ and the head 
of the diocese, which had hitherto pertained to Dorset, passed finally away 
from the county. 

Glancing back over the three and a half centuries that elapsed 
between the foundation of the see at Sherborne and its transference to Old 
Sarum, the characteristic feature of this period as regards this county will be 
found in the rise and growth of those religious houses on whose pivot the 
whole ecclesiastical structure seemed to turn. To it belonged those great 
Benedictine houses that were at once the glory and the distinctive feature of 
Dorset. Sherborne, coeval with the bishopric itself ; Shaftesbury, linked in 
memory with the greatest of Saxon kings, the long line of whose abbesses 
commences in Alfred's daughter ; ^^ Milton, built by King iEthelstan about 
the year 953 to commemorate for the soul of the young Prince Edwin, or, 
as some monkish chroniclers insist, to expiate the crime of a brother's 
murder ; " Cerne and Abbotsbury, whose traditionary history goes back 
to the very dawn of Christianity in this island, and the early mission of 
St. Augustine"; the later dependent cells of Cranborne and Horton, 
which before the Conquest enjoyed the status of abbeys. The action of the 
claimant vEthelwold in seizing Wimborne on the accession of his cousin 
Edward the Elder to the throne in 901, and the declaration that here 'he 
would either live or lie,'^' illustrates the early importance that the town 
and church enjoyed as th^ residence and sepulchre of Wessex kings. Few 
counties of the size of Dorset can show such a list of wealthy and influential 
houses as are to be found here at the time of the Domesday Survey. 

" Leknd, Collect, iii, 150 ; Ititi. ii, 51-2. " Kemble, Codex Dlpl. iii, 708. 

*' Ibid, vi, 1302. 

*' W. Thome, De rebus Abbat. Cant. (Twysden), 1782. 

" Codex Dlpl. iv, 771, 774-5. His death is recorded in the Angl.-^ax. Chron. (Rolls Ser. 134) under 
the year 1043. 

" Codex Dlpl. iv, 871. 

" Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 183. " Ibid. 66-8. 

■"' See Alfred's Charter of endowment. Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 148. 

" Dugdale, Mon. ii, 348, Cbart. under Milton, No. iii. 

" Coker, Particular Surv. of Dorset, 30, 66. " Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 75. 



These early foundations, as in other parts of the country, appear in the 
first instance to have been occupied by secular canons, or monks following 
no established rule. Following the monastic reforms of Edgar and 
Archbishop Dunstan we find in 904 the seculars at Milton replaced by 
monks under the rule of Abbot Cyneward." In 987 ^Elfric, the author of 
the famous Homilies, was appointed first abbot of Cerne, the inmates of 
which were ordered to follow the Benedictine rule." Bishop Wulfsige, or 
Wulfsy, in 998, as we have seen, substituted monks for the secular canons 
who had previously formed the community attached to the cathedral church 
of the diocese at Sherborne.^' The society of secular canons, established at 
Abbotsbury about 1026 by Ore or Orcus, steward of the household to King 
Cnut, was afterwards changed into a house of Benedictine monks by the 
founder, or by his widow after his death.*" On the other hand, Wimborne, 
originally ' a house of Holy Virgins,' was, on its restoration, converted into a 
house of secular canons, and continued as a royal free chapel under the govern- 
ment of a dean down to the Reformation." 

As regards the state of the church during the long and protracted 
struggle against the Danes, little can be positively ascertained save as 
it affected materially the religious foundations of the county. Wareham, 
one of the oldest monasteries in Dorset, is said to have been destroyed 
in an assault on the town in 876.** Horton, again, is supposed to have 
shared the fate of Tavistock, which was destroyed in the raid of 997—8.** 
A blank succeeds in the history of Wimborne after the reign of Edward 
the Elder, and the next mention of it records its restoration by Edward 
the Confessor.** Cnut, we are told, raided the counties of Dorset, Somer- 
set and Wiltshire in 1015," and plundered the monastery of Cerne of 
which he afterwards became a benefactor.** Ethelred ' the Unrede ' in the 
midst of the troubles and turmoils of his reign granted by charter, dated 
1 00 1, to the nuns of Shaftesbury the vill and monastery of Bradford (Wilt- 
shire) that they might there retire as to a place which offered greater security 
against the attacks of the enemy. *^ It would be impossible to leave the tenth 
century, with its disconnected record of destruction and reconstruction, with- 
out referring to the events of 978— 80, which took place within the borders 
of Dorset and played so important a part in determining the future greatness 
of the abbey of Shaftesbury : the cruel murder of the young King Edward, if 
not by the actual hand, at least with the connivance of his stepmother ^Ethel- 
thryth or Elfrida, the daughter of Ordgar, earl of Devon, the founder of 
Horton; and the solemn translation of his body by Dunstan and the alderman 
Alfhere from Wareham to the conventual church of the nunnery which, 
originally dedicated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin, soon after appears 
under the popular designation of St. Edward's.** 

" Leland, Colkcl. ii, 1 86 ; iii, 72. " Cart. Antiq. D. 16. " Leiand, Itin. W, 51-2. 

'" Tanner, Notitia (ed. 1744), 105 ; Coker, Particular Surv. of Donet, 30. 

" Leland, Collect, i, 82 ; Itin. iii, 72. " Cressy, Church Hist, of Brit. lib. xxviii, cap. ix. 

" Matt, of Westminster, Flores Hist. (Rolls Ser.), i, 324. 

" Or 'King Edward,' supposed to be the Confessor ; Leland, Collect, i, 82 ; Itin. iii, 72. 

" Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 121. ^ Leland, Collect, i, 66 ; iii, 67. " Had. MS. 61, fol. i. 

^ Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 234 ; Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Reg. (Rolls Ser.), i, 258 ; Gesta 
Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 202-3. The relics of the murdered Icing, who as early as the year 1001 was referred 
to as 'the Blessed Martyr' (Harl. MS. 61, fol. l), and whose festival was afterwards kept four times in 
the year, early attracted crowds of worshippers to his shrine. 



The Domesday Survey of 1086 not only serves to show the ecclesiastical 
configuration of the county in the eleventh century, but confirms the im- 
pression of the wealth and importance already attained by the Church and the 
monasteries at that time. It has been pointed out that the great and dominant 
feature in the disposition of Dorset lands as there recorded is that more than 
a third of the whole county was in ecclesiastical hands at the time the Survey 
was taken, and that the patrimony of the church was greater than that of all 
the barons and greater feudatories combined/' Among the seventy-six tenants 
including the thegns, holding in chief of the king, are entered the names of 
five bishops, eleven abbots, four abbesses, the community of Sherborne, the 
chapter of Coutances, and four Saxon priests, whose lands are designated 
under the title terra elemosinariorum Regis ; the abbot of Marmontier, a sub- 
feudatory, is entered under the holding of the earl of Mortain. As regards 
the estates of the various ecclesiastics, the bishop of Salisbury, besides the nine 
manors assigned to the use of the monks of Sherborne,™ held by right of the 
bishopric, the manors of Charminster, Alton Pancras, Up Cerne, Yetminster, 
Beaminster, Netherbury, Chardstock, a carucate of land at Lyme, half an acre 
at Bridport, two houses in Wareham, one in Dorchester, and other lands 
obtained in exchange." Odo, bishop of Bayeux, half-brother of the Conqueror, 
had as his sole Dorset estate the manor of Rampisham ; ^^ Geoffrey, bishop of 
Coutances, who for his services at the time of the Conquest had been granted 
large tracts of land in different counties, held the manor of Winterborne 
Houghton;'" the bishop of Lisieux, Gilbert Maminot, had the manors of 
Tarrant Keynston and Coombe Keynes, with a hide of land in Tarrant Pres- 
ton ; ^* the small estate of Maurice, bishop of London, consisted of half a hide 
of land in Odeham.''^ The eleven abbots holding in chief include the superiors 
of Cranborne, Cerne, Milton, Abbotsbury, and Horton, all belonging to this 
county ; the superiors of Glastonbury, Winchester, Athelney, and Tavistock 
outside its borders ; and the Norman abbots of St. Stephen, Caen, and 
St. Wandragesil or Fontanel. The four abbesses were the superiors of 
Shaftesbury (Dorset), Wilton (Wiltshire), Holy Trinity Caen, and St. Mary 
of Montevillers. The holding of the Dorset religious houses was briefly as 
follows: — Cranborne held 2 carucates of land in Gillingham, the manors of 
Boveridge and Up Wimborne, Lestesford, half a hide in Langford, and the 
manor of Tarrant Monkton ; under the holding of the widow of Ralph Fitz 
Grip, the Norman sheriff, it is recorded that Hugh gave to the church of 
St. Mary of Cranborne half a hide of land in Orchard, ' and it is worth 
20J.' ; ^^ Cerne held manors or estates at Cerne, Little Puddle, Radipole, 
Bloxworth, Affpuddle, Poxwell, East Woodsford, Heffleton, ' Vergroh,' Little 

'^' R. D. Eyton, Key to Domesday Surz>. of Dorset, 156. Thus, supposing the whole territory of Dorset 
to be divided into 265 parts, the iilng held nearly 36J such parts, the bishop of Salisbury followed with nearly 
26, the abbess of Shaftesbury had more than i6i, the abbots of Cerne and Milton more than i 2 each, the abbot 
of Abbotsbury more than i\ ; ibid. 

" These included the manors of Sherborne, Oborne, Thornford, Bradford, Over and Nether Compton, 
Stalbridge, Weston, Corscombe, and Stoke Abbott. 

" Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 75-7. From the enumeration of estates in the foundation charter of the 
cathedral by Bishop Osmond in 1091 it is evident that many of the old endowments of the bishopric of 
Salisbury had passed over into the possession of the church of Sarum ; Reg. of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 198. 

" Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 77. " Ibid. " Ibid. yjb. 

" Ibid. In the parish of Wimborne which it is conjectured he held in virtue of the deanery ; 
R. D. Eyton, op. cit. 113, note 3. 

" Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 84. 


Bredy, Winterborne Abbas, Long Bredy, Nettlecombe, Milton, Kimmeridge, 
Rentscombe, and Symondsbury ; " Milton at Sydling, Milton, Compton 
Abbas, Cattistock, Puddle, Clyffe, Osmington, Whitcombe, Lyscombe, Wool- 
land, Winterborne Hillfield, Ower, Stockland, Piddletrenthide, and Cerne ; 
Abbotsbury, the manors of Abbotsbury, Tolpuddle, Hilton, Portisham, 5 
virgates of land at Shilvinghampton, 2^ hides at Wootton Abbas, half a hide 
in Bourton, and the manor of Stoke Atrum. To the abbey of Horton, besides 
estates in Devonshire, belonged the manor of Horton, the two best hides of 
which had been retained by the king in his forest of Wimborne, the little 
church (ecclesiold) in Wimborne, with the site of two houses, a church in 
Wareham with five houses paying a rent of 65^'., and a house in Dorchester.'* 
The abbess of Shaftesbury, the largest monastic landowner in the county, 
besides extensive estates outside Dorset, held here the manors of Handley, 
Hinton St. Mary, Stour, Fontmell, Compton Abbas, Melbury, Iwerne 
Minster, Tarrant Hinton, Fifehead, Stoke, and Cheselbourne, with a hide of 
land at Farnham." The chapter of Coutances in Normandy held the manor 
of Winterborne Stickland, which they retained in their possession down to 
the fourteenth century. 

As the object of the Survey was purely fiscal and it did not include 
within its scope the return of parish churches no clue is afforded as 
to the number of churches then in existence ; even in those instances 
where a reference to a church occurs, it is almost invariably in connexion 
with the endowment or lands belonging to it. The names of those actually 
given are as follows : — the four churches belonging to the Norman abbey of 
St. Wandragesil, viz. Burton Bradstock, Bridport, Whitchurch Canonicorum 
and St. Mary Wareham ; *" the six entered under the heading terra elemosi- 
narioritm Regis : Holy Trinity Dorchester, Bere Regis, Winfrith Newburgh, 
Puddletown, East Chaldown, and Fleet. *^ Under the estates of the abbey of 
Shaftesbury it is recorded that the king gave to the abbess the advowson of 
the church of Gillingham in exchange for one of the i 6 hides of the manor 
of Kingston, on which he built the castle of Wareham or Corfe.^" Besides 
the brief reference to the collegiate church of Wimborne Minster,*' the little 
church ieccksiola) belonging to the abbey of Horton in Wimborne" must not 
be forgotten, which, with the church in Wareham," completes the list. 

" Dcm. Bk. (Rec. Com.), -j-b, 78. 

'* As regards superiors outside this county holding land in Dorset, the abbot of Glastonbury held then, 
and in the time of Edward the Confessor, the manors of Sturminster Newton, Okeford Fitzpaine, Buckland 
Newton, East Woodyates, Pentridge, and three hides of land in Lyme Regis (ibid. ~~b) ; the abbot of 
St. Peter, Winchester, had only the manor of Piddletrenthide (ibid.) ; the abbot of Athelney (Somerset) 
the manor of Caundle Purse (ibid. 78^), still in the possession of the abbey when the Taxatio of Pope 
Nicholas was taken if ope Nick. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 185) ; the abbot of Tavistock the manors of Askenwell 
and Poorton (ibid.) ; the Norman abbey of St. Stephen of Caen held the manors of Frampton and Bin- 
combe (ibid.) : and the abbey of St. Wandragesil the churches of Burton Bradstock, Bridport, and Whit- 
church Canonicorum, with four hides of land appurtenant thereto, the church of St. Man-, Wareham, with 
one hide of land (ibid). 

'* Ibid 78. The abbess of Wilton had the manor of Didlington and 3^ hides of land in the parish of 
Wimborne St. Giles (ibid. 79) ; the abbess of Holy Trinity, Caen, the manor of Tarrant Launceston (ibid.); 
the abbess of St. Mary of Montevillers the manor of Friar Waddon (ibid.). 

*° Ibid. 78^. *• Ibid. 79. ^ Ibid. 78^. ^ Ibid. 75. " Ibid. 783. 

" Said to be that of St. Martin ; R. D. Eyton, op. cit. 44. Various references to priests imply at least 
the existence of churches elsewhere ; thus under the survey of the manor of Hinton, which had devolved to the 
crown through the death of Hugh Fitz Grip, besides a mention of two priests who had parcels of land in the 
time of Edward the Confessor, there is incidentallv a reference to the priest of the manor, who was probably 
the incumbent of Hinton (ibid. 75) ; while the further entry 'of this land' (the fourteen hides and one virgate 


The addition of Norman and foreign superiors to those monastic 
bodies already holding property in Dorset marks the great dynastic and 
political change that had recently taken place, but so far as the older 
houses are concerned the Survey shows that it had had, with some excep- 
tions,** comparatively little effect in the loss or depreciation of their lands ; 
while in the case of Shaftesbury these had greatly risen in value. If the 
monks of Abbotsbury had reason to complain of the losses they had suffered 
under Hugh Fitz Grip, late Norman sheriff, and his widow," and the com- 
munity at Sherborne reported that William, son of the Conqueror, had seized 
three virgates of land in their manor of Stalbridge ' without the consent 
of the bishop and the monks,' ** the abbess and nuns of Shaftesbury had 
not forgotten their injuries at the hands of Earl Harold, while they placed 
on record that the Conqueror had, at least, restored to them the manor of 
Stour of which they had been deprived by the late earl though he still 
retained that of Melcombe.*^ 

But if the Conquest brought little territorial change to the mon- 
astic establishments of the county, the eleventh century witnessed various 
other changes that had a distinct bearing on the social and ecclesias- 
tical position of Dorset,'" An administrative scheme, rendered necessary 
by the Conqueror's action in separating the secular from the ecclesias- 
tical courts of justice, was the division of the diocese into districts and the 
appointment of an official hitherto known as the bishop's ' eye,' his 
deputy or archdeacon, who now became a territorial officer with definite 
functions, holding courts and presiding over a district for which he was per- 
sonally responsible to the bishop. The first mention of this newly constituted 
officer occurs in a copy of that original Institutio Osmundi, contemporary 
with the foundation charter of the cathedral of Salisbury in 1091, which, 
in elaborating and explaining the rights and duties of the cathedral 
dignitaries, orders that the attention of the archdeacon should be specially 
directed to the 'care of parishes and the cure of souls.' *^ The 'Consue- 
tudinary ' of the bishop states that in the church of Sarum are four 
archdeacons, one for Dorset, one for Berkshire, and two for Wiltshire.'^ 
To the archdeaconry of Dorset, sometimes called the Jirst {primus) arch- 
deaconry,*' was annexed the rectory of Gussage Regis, the valuation of 
which was assessed in the Taxatio of 1291 at £j2 ^^- 8^^-^* The Register of 

of" Hinton) 'holds another priest living in Tarrant one hide and a third part of a hide,' probably constitutes a 
reference to the incumbent of a church at Tarrant. A resident priest is mentioned under the manor of Roger 
de Belmont in Church Knowle (ibid. Son), and another priest is recorded in the manor of Long Blandford 
or Langton held by Edwin Venator (ibid. 84J). 

** The exceptions are notoriously house property in the boroughs. In Shaftesbury, for example, of the 
153 houses belonging to the abbess in the time of Edward the Confessor, 1 1 1 were left at the date the Survey 
was taken ; 42 had been altogether destroyed (ibid. 75 a). In Wareham of 45 houses standing in the demesne 
of the abbey of St. Wandragesil 1 7 were laid waste. The estates of the abbot of Glastonbury are another 
exception, but the lands of the abbey had recently been in the custody of the crown following the wasteful 
management of Abbot Thurston. R. W. Eyton, op. cit. 21. 

«' Dcm. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 78. *» Ibid. 77. ^' Ibid. 78^. 

'" The transfer of the bishop's seat from Sherborne to Old Sarum and the removal of the capital from 
Winchester to London naturally moved this county further away from the centre of activity and tended to 
place it outside the circle of influence it had once occupied. As regards this diminution of importance 
it has elsewhere been pointed out (H. J. Moule, Old Dmet, 51), that in the following centuries 
the position of Dorset, as compared with the advance of other counties, would more fitly be described as 

" Reg. of St. Osmund {Ko\h Ser.), i, 214. '' Ibid, i, 3. 

'" Valor EccL (Rec. Com.), ii, 72. '' Pope Nick. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 182^. 



Bishop Osmund records the names of two of the earliest archdeacons of the 
county, Adam, about the year 1097, and John, about 1120.'^ Adelelm, 
archdeacon of Dorset, occurs in a charter of Bishop Roger of SaHsbury, 
1130-35,'^ and WiUiam witnessed a deed of Bishop Hubert about 1190." 
Later on, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the abuse of papal 
provision was at its height we find the archdeaconry constantly held in 
succession by Roman cardinals and ecclesiastics. 

In passing we may note that the strong wave of monastic feeling and 
sympathy which swept over the country in the twelfth century left its trace 
in Dorset in the number of foreign cells and dependent priories which then 
sprang into existence. The two centuries that elapsed between the Survey of 
1086 and the Taxatio of 1291 witnessed the introduction of an alien 
community at Loders belonging to the abbey of St. Mary of Montebourg ; 
the grant of Povington to the abbey of Bee, Spettisbury and Stour 
Provost to the abbeys of St. Peter and St. Leger of Preaux, and of Winter- 
borne Monkton to the Cluniac priory of Wast or de Vasto ; the Norman 
abbeys of Tiron and Lyre were also among the ecclesiastical landowners 
of the county. As regards the older and pre-Conquest foundations, many 
of the changes brought about in the earlier part of the century were 
doubtless necessary modifications and adjustments in face of altered cir- 

For information as to the spread of parish churches and the systematic 
organization and adjustment of parochial endowments in Dorset in the 
twelfth and thirteenth centuries one turns again to the Register of St. Osmund, 
as well as to the collection of deeds and charters relating to the cathedral of 
Salisbury with their many references to this county, as the most available 
source.'' The foundation charter of Salisbury in 1091 enumerates, among 
the endowments of the cathedral, the churches of Sherborne, Bere Regis, and 
St. George of Dorchester, the last generally identified with the church of 
Fordington which, united with the manor of Writhlington in Somerset, made 
up a prebend in Sarum.^"" The parish churches of Yetminster, Alton Pancras, 
Charminster, Beaminster, and Netherbury, the manors of which were also 
included among the possessions of the cathedral in 1091,'"' are afterwards 
found among the peculiars of the dean and chapter of Salisbury.^"' The 
Norman abbot of St. Wandragesil or Fontanel in 1200 released to the 
chapter the church of Whitchurch Canonicorum,^"^ already in his hands at 

"Jones, Fasti Eccl. Sarisb. 137. Le Neve quoting from the same register gives Adam as the firot 
archdeacon of Dorset ; Fasti Eccl. Angl. ii, 637. 

'' Reg. of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 349. " Ibid. 241. 

'' Thus Bishop Roger of Salisbury endeavouring to restore the loss of status consequent on the removal 
of the see constituted Sherborne into an abbey and annexed to it as a dependent cell the former abbey 
of Horton, now evidently in a state of decay. The bishop's action in appropriating Abbotsburj' to the 
episcopal see 'as far as he could' does not on the other hand appear to have had a lasting effect [William of 
Malmesbury, Hist. Novella (Rolls Ser.), ii, 559]. Another modification took place in 1122 when the former 
abbey of Cranhorne was reduced to a priory and made subordinate to Tewkesbury, of which formerly it had 
been the head house. 

" The general scheme of organizing and adjusting the estates of the cathedral church at this period had 
the effect of adding many more churches to those already held by the cathedral chapter in Dorset. 

"" Reg. of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 195. "" Ibid. 

'" Falor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, App. p. 458. 

" Of the four churches belonging to this Norman abbey in the Domesday Survey two were granted, 
Whitchurch Canonicorum, and Burton Bradstock by charter of the Conqueror to the abbey ' for the sake of 
Guntard my chaplain,' monk of the monastery ; Reg- of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 231. 



the time of Domesday, and was granted the prebend of Upavon in the 
cathedral which entitled him to a stall in the choir and a voice in the 
cathedral chapter."* The abbot of St. Mary Montebourg, who had a cell at 
Loders, likewise conveyed to the chapter about the year i 2 1 3 his churches of 
Powerstock. and Fleet,"^ and in return was allowed to retain the church of 
Loders and the chapel of Radipole as a prebend in Salisbury."* The church 
of Sherborne appears from the foundation of the cathedral to have constituted 
a prebend in Salisbury, held by the abbot in virtue of his office."' A dispute 
arising early in the thirteenth century respecting the claim of the dean of 
Salisbury to the church of Frome Whitfield, as attached to his prebend of 
Charminster, was peaceably settled by an agreement whereby the church 
itself was annexed to the prebend, but the patronage vested in William de 
Whitfield, Matilda his wife, and their heirs who, on a vacancy, should 
present a candidate for institution to the dean and his successors."* By an 
arrangement in 1225 certain pensions out of the churches of Tarrant 
Keynston, Combe, Somerford, and Lulworth were reserved to the priory of 
Merton, the church of Tarrant Keynston at the special request of the prior and 
canons being assigned to the perpetual use of the nuns of Tarrant, who in return 
for this grant were charged to offer special prayers every Sunday for the 
brethren of Merton as for their benefactors."^ In 1224 the church of 
Bishop's Caundle was made over to the ordinary by the prior and canons of 
Breamore,"" The churches of Stourpaine and Burstock were placed by the 
prior and convent of Christchurch (Twyneham) in 1 244 at the disposition 
of the bishop who the following year ordained that the church of Fleet, 
previously resigned by the abbot of St. Mary Montebourg, should be appro- 
priated to the convent of Christchurch, the church of Stourpaine to the 
chapter of Salisbury, while the church of Burstock was assigned to the 
maintenance of the bridge at Salisbury, all three churches being made exempt 
from the jurisdiction of the ordinary and the archdeacon, the bishop in his 
deed stipulating that they should be ' honestly ' and fitly served and the cure 
of souls in no way neglected."^ 

With reference to the question of parochial endowments, instances are 
not wanting to illustrate the liberty of large landowners to bestow tithes of their 
lands at will on one place or another. A deed of Ralph de St. Leger about 
the year 1217 recites that he has granted to Roger, chaplain of Petersham, 
within the parish of Wimborne, his oratory or free chapel of Todber, together 
with all tithes of his demesne &c., as an endowment. "'^ Sir Bartholomew 
de Turbervill, by deed in 1242, attached all tithes of his demesne at 
Winterborne Turberville, which he declared had been always bestowed by 
his ancestors and himself on whomsoever they desired, to the prebend of 
Charminster and Bere Regis, in consideration of which grant he obtained a 
licence for a private chantry or chapel for the use of himself, his household 

"* Reg. of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 71. "" Ibid, i, 225. 

'°° Ibid, i, 226. The abbot of Bee, to whose abbey belonged a small cell at Povington reckoned as 
parcel of the priory of Ogbourne (Wilts.), held the prebend of Ogbourne constituted in the cathedral by 
Bishop le Poor in 1208 ; ibid, i, 189. 

""Ibid. 249. '"'Ibid. 255. "» Ibid, ii, 26. 

"° Sarum Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Sen), 163-6. 

'" The canons of Christchurch were ordered to pay the sum of a mark yearly to the archdeacon of 
Dorset by way of compensation for the loss of jurisdiction involving dues ; ibid. 291-3. 

'"Ibid. 81. 



and guests, and his heirs, to be served by a perpetual chaplain. ^^' Perhaps 
the most interesting case of voluntary endowrment was the one confirmed by 
Bishop Richard le Poor in 1218, w^herein seven parishioners of Mosterton 
bestowed various gifts of land for the establishment and maintenance of a 
chaplain who, with the consent of the rector of South Perrott, should make 
personal residence and serve a chapel there."* With the growth of parish 
churches there were springing up through the thirteenth century these 
dependent chapels whose claims impinging on parochial rights required 
constant readjustment, and were the cause of so many of the ecclesiastical 
disputes in the succeeding century."* 

During this period of parochial organization which marks the thirteenth 
century, the ordination of vicarages was not neglected. The practice 
which came into vogue after the Conquest of granting the presentation of 
churches and alienating the tithes to cathedral and monastic bodies had as a 
consequence lowered incumbents from the position of rectors, which they 
enjoyed, in primitive times, to that of curates forced to content them- 
selves with whatever remuneration they might be allowed. Various attempts 
were made to counteract this evil, which in addition left the spiritual needs of 
the parishioners at the mercy of rectors with whom their importance was not 
always paramount. In i 200 the council of Westminster directed that every 
vicar should be instituted by the bishop to whom he should be responsible 
for the discharge of his duties, and that he should be provided with a suffi- 
cient competence from the issues of the church."' The vicar's income in 
addition to a competent manse was usually reckoned at about a third of the 
total profits. The rector took the great tithe, viz., of corn, and the incidental 
charges such as synodals, and the archdeacon's fees were usually arranged be- 
tween the rector and the vicar in proportion to their respective portions. An 
€arlv instance of care in defining precisely the portion that should be assigned 
to the vicar occurs in a deed appropriating to the abbey of Sherborne the 
churches of Stalbridge and Stoke Abbott in 1191, The vicar of Stalbridge, 
according to this ordination, was to have all that estate [tenementuni) which 
Sewale had of the estate of the said church and all things pertaining 
to the church save the free land and those tithes, viz., of sheaves as 
well as small tithes, which should be assigned to the use of the sacrist of 
Sherborne ; in addition he should have free pasture and a horse and four 
beasts in the pasture of the abbot's demesne and should sustain all episcopal 
dues. The vicar of Stoke Abbott should have all things pertaining to the 
church which Gerrud used to have and should sustain all episcopal dues like- 
wise ; the remainder of the issues were to be assigned to the clothing of the 
monks of Sherborne."^ The dean and cathedral chapter confirmed the 
ordination of the vicarage of Fordington made by Lawrence of Saint 

™ Sarum Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 278-80. '" Ibid. 82-3. 

'" In some instances these chapels became further endowed and were eventually erected into parish 
churches, but after the Black Death they frequently became too impoverished to support a chaplain, and sank 
into disuse. 

"° The council of Oxford laid down the principle of providing a sufficient income, irrespective of the 
actual value of a benefice, by decreeing that the vicar's stipend should not amount to less than 5 marks, except 
in Wales. Wilkins, Concilia, i, 587. 

"' Sarum Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 49. In 1238 the abbot and convent of Sherborne resigned to 
Bishop Robert Bingham of Salisbury and the chapter the appropriation of these two churches of Stalbridge 
and Stoke Abbott, reserving to themselves the advowson and certain issues ; ibid. 248-9. 



Nicholas, canon of Salisbury, in 1222, wherein was assigned to Robert de 
Dorchester, chaplain, perpetual vicar, all obventions of the altar and ceme- 
tery of the church, all small tithes, and the sum of 24^. id. to be annually 
paid by the tenants of the said church ; to the canon and to his successors 
were assigned all sheaves of whatever kind of grain and wherever sown. The 
vicar was bound to serve the church personally and at his own expense, 
and to bear all charges incumbent on the vicarage."' The endowment of the 
vicarage of Alton Pancras was fixed in 1227,"' the ordination of the vicarage 
of Whitchurch, the church of which was appropriated to the chapters of 
Salisbury and Wells, in 1240 ; the vicar of the latter was charged to find a 
chaplain and clerk to serve the dependent chapels of Stanton and Chideock 
and another chaplain and clerk for the chapel of Marshwood, and the ordina- 
tion included the appointment of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the church 
for the benefactors and faithful departed of both cathedral chapters, and the 
assignment of a certain portion of tithes for his maintenance.^-" The chapter 
of Salisbury in 1242 confirmed the endowment of the vicarage of Bere 
Regis by Robert de Lexinton, canon of Salisbury, who by deed notified that 
he had granted to John de Dorchester, chaplain, the whole altarage of the 
church of Bere Regis and the chapel of Winterborne Regis with tithes of 
wool and lambs, and all small tithes and oblations, together with a messuage 
and two acres of land in the town of Bere Regis, which William the vicar 
had held in the name of a perpetual vicarage, reserving to himself and his 
successors all tithes of corn, hay and mills, with all the oblations of ' Win- 
debyre ' on the feast of the Nativity of the B.V.M. and the sum of 6 marks 
to be annually received in equal portions at the four terms.^^^ In 1255 
the vicarage of the church of Powerstock with the ordination of its endow- 
ment was granted by the cathedral of Salisbury to Roger de Mere, chaplain, 
who as vicar was charged with all expenses incumbent on the dean and 
chapter for the said church and its chapels in keeping the roof of the 
chancel in repair, and in providing books, vestments, and other neces- 
saries for divine service, as well as with the annual payment of a mark 
to the abbot and convent of Cerne for the chapel of Milton in virtue of 
a former composition between the abbey and the chapter of Salisbury. ^"^ 
It will be noted that as a rule these early examples of ordination of 
vicarages relate to churches in the possession of the cathedral church of 
the diocese, but they may be accepted as fairly typical of the work then 
going forward in regulating and systematizing parochial endowments 

The work of two centuries seems fitly crowned by that compila- 
tion of church property known as the taxation of Pope Nicholas IV 
which marks the close of the thirteenth century, and from it may be 
gathered a fairly comprehensive picture of the ecclesiastical organization 
of the county as it was then complete. Within the archdeaconry of Dorset, 
divided into the five deaneries of Shaftesbury, Pimperne, Whitchurch, 
Dorchester, and Bridport,^^^ are recorded the names of 171 churches exclusive 

"» Reg. of St. Osmund (Rolls Ser.), i, 322. '" Ibid, ii, 33. 

"" Sarum Chart, and Doc. (Rolls Ser.), 261-6. "' Ibid. 277. "" Ibid. 324. 

'^' Though rural deans are frequently mentioned in the ecclesiastical councils of the twelfth century 
(Wilkins, Concil. \, 388, 502, 505), the date when the territorial limits of the deaneries were fixed is 



of Wimborne Minster, which constituted a deanery in itself.^*'* The 
value of the spiritual property of the church in Dorset was assessed at 
^1,418 16s. 5^.,^^^ the temporalities were valued at ^^1,929 os. 8;^^'.'^^ None 
of the benefices were of any great value, only nine amounted to jTao or more, 
thirty-seven were under ^5 a year with one not reckoned at all ; among the 
prebends Sherborne was assessed at ^(^40.'" Twelve other vicarages are 
recorded in addition to those vicarages established in connexion with 
these churches prebendal to Salisbury : Sturminster Newton in the 
deanery of Shaftesbury, the church of which was appropriated to the 
abbey of Glastonbury ; Blandford Forum appropriated to the priory of 
Christchurch, Cranborne to Tewkesbury, Horton to Sherborne in the deanery 
of Pimperne ; Canford appropriated to the priory of Bradenstoke, Stur- 
minster Marshall to the hospital of St. Giles of Pont Adomar, Puddle- 
town to the priory of Christchurch, Dewlish belonging to Tewkesbury and 
the vicarage of Buckland, all in the Whitchurch deanery ; in the deanery of 
Dorchester there was the vicarage of Coombe Keynes ; and the vicarages of 
Portisham and Abbotsbury, the churches of which belonged to the abbey of 
Abbotsbury, in the Bridport deanery. Of the twelve, Sturminster Marshall, 
valued at X^20, was the richest, Sturminster Newton came next valued at 
jTio, Canford was assessed at ^^6 ly. ^d., Horton, Puddletown and Dew- 
lish were worth ^^5 a year, Cranborne and Buckland, the poorest, ^4 6s. 8d. 
As regards chapels, at that period to be found annexed to nearly all large 
churches,^^^ the following are amongst those entered by name : Hinton 
St. Mary, in the parish of Iwerne Minster, and Wimborne St. Giles, now 
parochial churches ; Charlton Marshall annexed to the rectory of Spettisbury ; 
Studland now a rectory and parish church ; Broadway now a rectory 
annexed to Bincombe ; St. Aldhelm's chapel, Burton Bradstock, and Little 
Bredy now erected into parish churches. 

The blight even at that time affecting the spiritual side of monas- 
ticism, and the practical restraint placed on religious endowments on a 
large scale by the statute of Mortmain, are the causes no doubt that con- 
tributed to the particular form adopted by the pious donor of the thirteenth 
century for the expression of his devotional feelings. Instead of erecting 
fresh monasteries he endowed chapels attached to existing churches with 
priests to sing masses for his soul, the souls of his family and all the faithful 
departed. As the practice of endowing such memorial chapels or chantries 
spread the ranks of the beneficed clergy, in addition to the parochial 
chaplains, became further reinforced by the chantry priests to be found in all 
churches of any size officiating side by side with the parish priests. The 
conventual churches of the monasteries generally, and in Dorset of the Bene- 
dictine houses in particular, lent themselves readily to this develop- 
ment, and the popular nature of it as a means of religious expression is 
evidenced by its growth during the centuries that preceded and led up 
to its abolition. The trend of religious feeling may be clearly traced from 
the foundation of the earlier chantries, ordained simply for the performance 

'" Under the deanery of Shaftesbury 32 churches are recorded, 31 under Pimperne, 38 under Whit- 
church, 41 under Dorchester, 29 under Bridport ; Poj)e Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 177-80. 

'" Ibid. 180. "^ Ibid. 185. '" Ibid. 182. 

'" Gillingham with its numerous chapels is a striking example. 



of prayers and masses for the benefit of the donor and his family, and friends, 
combined in most instances with almsgiving, and the establishment of such 
a chantry as that founded by the countess of Richmond and Derby in Wim- 
borne Minster, in the early sixteenth century, when education was beginning 
to be part of the popular religious creed, to which was appointed a priest 
' ther to kepe continuall residence and teche frely gramer to all them that will 
come thereunto.' Of the number of these memorial chapels the return 
furnished by the commissioners of Henry VIII and Edward VI in the six- 
teenth century furnishes but a slight idea. Most of those connected with 
the monasteries appear to have vanished at the Dissolution, of the ten or a 
dozen founded in Shaftesbury Abbey, for instance, only three are given in the 
return ; and it is equally certain that many had ceased previously, owing to 
the difficulty in maintaining them during the financial difficulties of the four- 
teenth and fifteenth centuries. 

In spite of the advance in ecclesiastical organization the episcopal 
registers, the series of which commence on the eve of the twelfth century, 
show a considerable amount of neglect and irregularity then prevalent in the 
diocese : churches so defective that Bishop Simon of Ghent in a letter 
addressed to all his archdeacons in October, 1 299, after a recent visitation, 
remarks a year's income would hardly suffice to cover the cost of their repair; 
want of books, ornaments, and other necessaries for the celebration of divine 
service ; absentee rectors and vicars, incumbents who had neglected to take 
higher orders, benefices held in plurality and in the possession of those 
who could show no title. ^^' Measures were in the first instance taken 
with regard to those fabrics that had not yet been dedicated, and in 1298, 
soon after his promotion to the see. Bishop Simon wrote to the locum 
tenens of the dean of Salisbury calling his attention to this matter, citing in 
particular the church of Lyme Regis, and desiring that all the prebendal 
churches should be consecrated without delay.'"" A further examination 
brought the extensive nature of this neglect into such prominence that the 
bishop in April, 1302, wrote to the archdeacon of Dorset, ordering him to 
institute a special inquiry into the circumstances of those churches still uncon- 
secrated, of which he had heard an inordinate number {effrenatam multitudineni) 
still remained in the archdeaconry, and to warn all rectors and vicars ; ''*' 
this order was followed by a commission to the archdeacon's official directing 
him or the dean of Shaftesbury to summon the rectors of the following 
churches to provide everything necessary for the consecration of the edifices 
at the dates fixed in the inclosed schedule : Stour Provost on the Friday 
after the Feast of St. James the Apostle, Manston the Sunday following, 
Iwerne Courtney, Okeford, Stoke Wake, Bishop's Caundle, and Pulham on 
the days immediately succeeding as should be most convenient.'^^ The 

'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, fol. 23. In regard to the care of churchyards and cemeteries, 
regulations for which were passed in the thirteenth century, the bishop in 1 3 1 1 wrote to the dean of 
Shaftesbury denouncing the rough games and sports that were allowed in the inclosure {atrium') round the 
canventual church of Shaftesbury, and the pasturing of animals turned in to graze ' where the bodies of the 
faithful rest,' desiring that such practices should be put a stop to, and all neighbouring rectors and vicars 
warned to proclaim their abolition ; ibid. fol. I 34. 

'■* Ibid. fol. 5 d. 

"' Ibid. fol. 22. This refers, probably in every case, to re-consecration necessitated by structural 
alterations, and does not imply that the churches had not been duly dedicated at the time of their erection. 

■'■ Ibid. 



early part of the fourteenth century was probably marked by much activity 
in the building, or more probably the rebuilding on a larger scale, of 
churches in this county ; of the fifty-three dedicated by Robert Petyt, 
bishop of Enaghdun,^'^ in 1326, by authority of the diocesan, by far the 
greater number were in Dorset.^" 

As regards non-residence, the practice so frequently noted of granting 
licences to incumbents to absent themselves for purposes of study did much 
to nullify the earnest efforts of Simon of Ghent and his successors to enforce 
personal residence on the clergy ; ^'^ nevertheless, it must be remembered 
that the carelessness of patrons as to the age and qualifications of the 
candidates they presented for institution rendered such a measure the best 
guarantee for the spiritual welfare of parishioners that the ordinary could 
perhaps at that time enforce.''^ Another element of disorder was to 
be found in the increasing demands of Rome and the abuse then generally 
rampant of papal provision. That the bishops were keenly alive to these 
contributive causes is evident from various records in their registers. After 
a meeting of the chapter at Salisbury, 18 March, 1326, at which the 
bishop, dean, and others were present, a letter was addressed to Pope 
John XXII by Bishop Mortival, in which he stated that though 
there were in the church of Salisbury forty-one prebends, four digni- 
ties, four archdeaconries, and the sub-deanery to which he had the 
original right of collation, there were, nevertheless, at that time a 
dean, an archdeacon, and six prebendaries who had been appointed 
by the late pope, while the precentor, treasurer, one archdeacon, and 
seventeen prebendaries held their offices by provision of the present 
pope ; that hardly more than three out of that whole number ever 
resided in Salisbury, and finally that there were no less than eight who 
were waiting for vacancies, having been appointed as canons with the right 

'" Both Simon of Ghent and Roger de Mortival made use of suffragans to assist them in their 
diocesan duties, especially in such offices as the dedication of churches and altars, the reconciliation of 
churches, &c., which required the personal services of a bishop. The institutions of Bishop Simon in 
particular witness the bishop's readiness to grant a coadjutor to the parochial clergy in the case of sickness 
and disablement. 

"' The list includes the following : Wimborne St. Giles, Horton, Edmondsham, Winterborne 
Vyshath, Winterborne Tomson, Cheselbourne, Turners Puddle, Milborne, Ringstead, Poxwell, Winterborne 
Abbas, Winterborne Steepleton, Little Bredy, Tyneham, Chaldon Boys, Ham-by-Sturminster, Fifehead, Stafford, 
Bincombe, Stour Provost, All Saints Dorchester, Frome Whitfield, St. John Shaftesbury, Moreton, Povington, 
Minterne, Up Cerne, Batcombe, Yetminster, Ryme Intrinseca, Evershot, Stockwood, Pulham, Bishop's 
Caundle, Caundle Haddon, Fifehead, ' Tarrant-Abbates, Stower Wake, Stower Weston,' Gillingham, Caundle 
Purse, and Rarapisham [Ibid. Mortival, ii, fol. 185]. One of the first acts of Bishop Mortival on his promo- 
tion to Salisbury in 1315 was to issue a commission for the dedication of altars [Ibid. fol. i]. In 1317 he 
granted letters of indulgence for the altar in the conventual church of Shaftesbury, rebuilt and dedicated in 
honour of St. Mary and St. Edward, king and martyr. [Ibid]. 

'" Bishop Simon in 1 301 addressed a letter to his archdeacons bidding them summon all absent rectors. 
and vicars to make personal residence, understanding that many were at that time absent without licence 
[Ibid. fol. 17]. His successor, Mortival, wrote in December, 1319, to the archdeacon of Dorset denouncing all 
such incumbents as let their churches to farm, and did not make personal residence, desiring that their 
names should be sent in to him by a fixed date [Ibid. Mortival, lib. ii, fol. 95 if]. Bishop Wyville, in March,. 
1343, forwarded to the archdeacon a schedule with list of offenders who were to be summoned to appear 
before the bishop or his commissary in the prebendal church of Chardstock the next law d.iy after the Feast 
of St. Edward, king and martyr, a strict inquiry was to be made into the issues of their churches which 
were to be sequestered, care being taken that the services of the church should not be neglected [Ibid. 
Wyville, lib. i]. After the losses and disorder occasioned by the Black Death the abuse of non-residence 
increased rather than diminished. 

'^ Licence to let his church to farm for the purpose of study being only in acolyte's orders was 
granted to the rector of Bentfeld ' in 1316 ; ibid. Mortival, ii, fol. 31 J. 



of succeeding to prebends as they became void.^" For instances of this 
particular abuse in Dorset we need go no further than the archdeaconry. 
The papal registers record a faculty granted by Alexander IV in 1258 to the 
bishop of Salisbury to give the archdeaconry of Dorset, held by Martin 
Jordan, vice-chancellor of the Roman Church and notary apostolic, to 
Simon de Bridport, canon of Salisbury, or any other person by the consent of 
the said Jordan so soon as he shall have obtained a prebend of Salisburv to 
the value of 150 marks.^'^ Six years later this same Jordan, cardinal of 
Sts. Cosmos and Damian, and archdeacon of Dorset, received from Pope 
Urban IV a grant of one of the ' fattest ' prebends of Salisbury ' if one is 
vacant, and if not the reser\^ation of one.' '"'^ In 1300 the then archdeacon, 
Henry de Bluntesdon, received at the king's request a dispensation to retain 
the archdeaconry of Dorset, to which was annexed the church of Gussage 
All Saints, with the churches of Grittleton, Wootton Bassett, Hannington, 
Runwell, and Middleton in the dioceses of Salisbury, London, and York, 
which he had obtained without licence since the council of Lyons, together 
with canonries and prebends of Salisbury, Wells, Chichester, and St. Paul's 
London.^" Bertrand d'Eux, cardinal of St. Mark's, obtained in 1 347 an 
indult to visit his archdeaconry of ' Dorchester ' (Dorset) by deputy for five 
years, and to receive procuration not exceeding 30 silver tournois a day.^" 
The intrusion of these Roman ecclesiastics into English benefices was 
anything but welcome,^'' and a brawl arose towards the close of the same 
year on the occasion of the appointment of another cardinal to the treasurer- 
ship of the cathedral ; Thomas Hotoft, with other citizens of Salisbur)-^ and 
armed accomplices, upholding the claim of the then holder of the prebend, 
John de Breydon, attacked the sub-executor and proctor of the cardinal, 
saying they should lose their heads, and according to the report would have 
actually killed them had they not been restrained by one of the canons and 
one of the vicars.^^ In 1373 Robert of Geneva, cardinal of the Twelve 
Apostles, bishop of Tironane, and afterwards anti-Pope Clement VII, 
received as sub-dean of York and archdeacon of Dorset an indult to visit 
his archdeaconry by deputy for five years.^** The office was held by the 
cardinal of Naples about the year 1 379, the king in June of the following year 
granting a licence for any of the king's lieges to become the proctors of the 
cardinal of Naples and receive the profits of his archdeaconry of ' Dorchester,' 
the treasurership of Salisbury Cathedral, and prebend of Erpingham in 
Lincoln. ^*^ In 1410 John Mackworth, then in possession of the Dorset 
archdeaconry, obtained a dispensation to hold that office with the arch- 
deaconry of Norfolk, in respect of which he was already litigating in the 
apostolic palace, ' if he should win it.' ^*® The claims of the apostolic see, 

'"Cited from the bishop's register in the Diocesan Hiit. of Salisbury, 119, 120. Simon of Ghent, 
Mortival's predecessor, at fint refused to admit Reymund, a Roman cardinal to the office of the dean, to which 
he had been provided, on the ground that election to the same belonged to the chapter, and issued monitions 
to various of the cathedral digniuries to make residence ; ibid. 117. 

■" Cal. Pup. Letters, i, 356-7. '^ Ibid, i, 41 1. 

'" Ibid, i, 5S8. "' Ibid, iii, 255. 

'" An entr)- in the patent rolls of 1347 (21 Ed.v. Ill, pt. I, m. 35) records that letters of protection 
were obtained from the king for Master Robert de Redynges, proctor of Bertrand, cardinal of the holy Roman 
Church and archdeacon of Dorset, an alien, and for his fellows. 

"' Cat. Pap. Letters, iii, 255. '" Ibid, iv, 188. '" Pat. 3 Ric II, pt. 3, m. 4. 

"* Cal. Pap. Letters, vi, 211. Mackworth aftenv.irds became dean of Lincoln, where he proved a 
veritable firebrand, and involved his chapter in almost endless dissension. See V.C.H. Lines, ii, 85-6. 

2 17 3 


which included a right to the reservation of benefices rendered vacant by 
the death of holders at the Roman Court, frequently led to conflicting 
appointments and protracted disputes. Thus in 1397 on the death of 
Adam, cardinal priest of St. Cecilia's, who held the archdeaconry of 
Dorset by grant of the papal court, the appointment was claimed by two 
candidates, Nicholas Bubwith provided by the pope, Michael Cergeaux 
nominated by letters patent of Richard 11.^" The latter prevailed, but two 
years later Bubwith again put forward his claim to the archdeaconry, void 
by the death of Cergeaux or Sergeaux, ' pretended ' archdeacon, and was 
again opposed, this time by Henry Chicheley, who claimed to have obtained 
the appointment by authority of the ordinary.^** A dispute ensued, and 
the case being referred for trial to John, bishop of Liibeck and papal chaplain 
and auditor, it was decided on a report that the late Michael had only held 
the archdeaconry by despoiling Adam, cardinal priest of St. Cecilia's, that 
neither litigants had any claim. The pope commissioned the judge if he 
found this to be the case to collate and assign the dignity to Henry Chicheley; 
he, however, adjudged it to Bubwith; Chicheley appealed without success, 
but on the strength of his former collation continued to intrude himself still 
in the archdeaconry, and the pope having imposed perpetual silence on 
Nicholas extinguished the suit."' In 1403 Nicholas Bubwith was collated 
to the archdeaconry of Dorset in the place of Henry Chicheley, who had 
been appointed to the archdeaconry of Sarum the previous year,^'" and finally 
became archbishop of Canterbury in 1408. Nicholas Bubwith was in 1406 
elected to the see of London by the chapter of St. Paul's in ignorance 
of the fact that the pope had already made reservation of it for him."^ 
The papal registers throughout this period afford ample evidence of the 
extent to which papal provision was carried in this county as elsewhere. 
The prebends in the conventual church of Shaftesbury continually fell a prey 
to Roman usurpation, and Fuller instances the archdeaconry of Dorset as a 
flagrant instance of what, in a characteristic passage, he designates 'the greatest 
grievance of the land, namely, foreigners holding ecclesiastical benefices.' *" 
As for the kindred evil, the holding of benefices in plurality, the royal 
college and chapel of Wimborne Minster in this county again affords a 

"' Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 82 ; Pat. 20 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 8. Both were largely beneficed, Bubwith held 
canonries in Beverley, Lichfield, Ripon, and York, and the rectories of Brington and Naseby in the Lincoln 
diocese ; Cergeaux besides holding the rectory of Harrow was canon of Chichester, Exeter, Howden, Lichfield, 
and Wells. 

"' Besides the two there appears to have been a third claimant, Walter Medeford, nominated by patent 
letters of Richard II, 20 Aug. 1397; Pat. 21 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 21. 

'" Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 206. "» Le Neve, Fasti Ecd. Angl. ii, 539. 

'" Cal. Pap. Letters, vi, 82. 

'*' For at this time [says Fuller], the church of England might say with Israel ' Our inheritance is 
turned to strangers, our houses to aliens.' Many Italians who knew no more English than the difference 
between a teston and a shilling, a golden noble and an angel in receiving their rents, had the fattest livings 
in England by the pope collated upon them. Yea, many great cardinals resident at Rome (those hinges of 
the church must be greased with English revenues) were possessed of the best prebends and parsonages in the 
land whence many mischiefs did ensue. First they never preached in their parishes : of such shepherds it 
could not properly be said that he leaveth the sheep and flee th, who (though taking the title of shepherd upon 
them) never saw their flock nor set foot on English ground. Secondly, no hospitality was kept for relief of the 
poor ; except they could fill their bellies upon the hard names of their pastors which they could not pronounce. 
. . . Yea, the Italians generally farmed out their places to proctors, their own countr)men, who instead of 
filling the bellies grinded the faces of poor people ; so that what betwixt the Italian hospitality which none 
could ever see and the Latin service which none could understand the poor English were ill-fed and worse 
taught. Church Hist, ii, 350-2. 



striking instance. Presentation to the deanery was in the hands of the 
crown, and as a court appointment was always held by men holding other 
offices and frequently pursuing secular avocations/^* 

Of the new religious orders in the thirteenth century, to whose example 
so many bishops turned as a means of rousing the parochial clergy to a more 
lively sense of their responsibilities, little is heard till the following century. 
The Franciscans had a house at Dorchester founded according to Tanner by 
the ancestors of Sir John Chideock, but no reference to it occurs earlier than 
the reign of Edward 11.^^* Entries in the episcopal registers of Ghent and 
Mortival show that the friars were already making their presence felt 
throughout the diocese,"^ but their most effectual work in this county was 
due to the Dominicans, whose establishment at Melcombe Regis deserves 
special attention. The twin boroughs of Weymouth and Melcombe, com- 
posing the modern town of Weymouth, were at that time served respectively 
by the mother churches of Wyke Regis and Radipole in the parishes of which 
each lay. The register of Bishop Simon of Ghent records various unsuccessful 
attempts on the part of certain parishioners of Melcombe to obtain parochial 
rights for a chapel, to the detriment, it was complained, of the mother church 
of Radipole,^^' and Bishop Mortival in 1 321, granting an indulgence of thirty 
days for the parishioners of Wyke who should attend their parish church on 
Sundays and feast days, mentions a complaint that certain of the inhabitants 
were in the habit of attending a chapel at Weymouth"^ to the obvious injury 
of the said parish church. 

As time went on, and the importance of those two outlying districts 
increased there seems to have been — particularly on the part of the Melcombe 
parishioners — a constant struggle to obtain a right to a place of worship of their 
own, which was as often defeated by the authorities. The Dominicans in 
the meantime settled at Melcombe and a return made on 1 8 November, 
1425, by John Morton, commissary and sequestrator-general to the bishop, 
respecting the erection of an altar at Melcombe Regis in a place ' profane 
and inhonest ' without the consent or authority of the ordinary, stated that 
the said altar had been erected for the celebration of mass by Edward Poliny 
and John Lok of the order of friars preachers, and that many of the inhabi- 
tants of Weymouth had assisted in its erection. For some reason not stated 
the friars thought fit to disregard the bishop's citation to appear before him 
or his commissary on the 21st of that month to explain their action, and 

'"Thus Martin de Patishull, appointed to the deanery in 1223, besides holding various ecclesiastical 
appointments, was a justice of the King's Bench, a justice itinerant and constantly employed as a judge. His 
successor, Randolf Brito, was in the year of his presentation to Wimborne appointed constable of Colchester 
Castle and warden of the ports of Essex (Pat. 1 3 Hen. Ill, m. 9). The deanery of Wimborne is not even 
mentioned in the list given by Matthew Paris {Chron. Maj.) of the many offices held by John Mansel 
appointed in 1247. In the case of John de Kirkeby, who had recommended himself to the court by his success- 
ful methods of collecting subsidies and taxes. Archbishop Peckham annulled his election to Rochester in 1285 
on the ground of his notorious pluralism ; Reg. Efist. Peckham (Rolls Ser.), ii, 575. He appears to have 
held the deanery from I 265, while only in deacon's orders, being ordained priest the day before his consecration 
to Ely in 1286 [ibid, iii, App. 2, p. 1041]. Down to the suppression of the college under Edward VI 'the 
little deanery ' was frequently one of the main links connecting this county with current political events and 
personages outside its borders. 

'^* Tanner, Notitia, Dorset, x. 

'" The bishop in a letter to the archdeacon of Dorset in 1319 directed the names of all friars of the 
Franciscan and Dominican orders and of the order of the hermits of St. Augustine to be submitted to him 
before being licensed to hear confessions, and to absolve. Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, ii, fol. 94. 

'" Ibid. Simon of Ghent, fol. j d. 35 a'. 37. '" Ibid., ii, fol. 125. 



among the last entries of Bishop Chandler, who died the following July> 
was a notification dated 7 May, 1426, wherein he interdicted Edward 
Poliny, John Lok, and John Lowyer, of the order of mendicants of St. 
Dominic, for their contumacy in disobeying his citation, and denounced 
their conduct in putting up an altar within the limits of the parish church of 
Radipole, extorting the oblations and devotions of the faithful in Christ 
flocking to them whom they had callously seduced. It was forbidden 
either to celebrate or to hear celebration in the place, and all those who had 
assisted, contrary to the bishop's admonition, were ordered to appear before 
him to give account of their conduct."^ The matter did not end here, for 
John Roger and Hugh Deveril, knt., and others came forward and stated 
that ' there was no place dedicated to God in the vill of Melcombe Regis,' 
that the parish church, distant by a mile and a half away, was not easy 
of access to the inhabitants of the town, their families, guests, and the 
merchants who visited the town by land and sea, so that the said inhabitants 
were notoriously rude and unlearned {•valde riides sint et indocti), that moved by 
the spirit of piety, and pitying the desolation of the vill they had begun a 
house for the perpetual habitation of the friars preachers, who had for no 
small time given themselves to the service of God and the salvation of men in 
the place where they laboured. The petitioners further begged the bishop's 
consideration of the following articles : (i) of the intention of the builders in 
beginning the work, (2) the fitness of the place to be dedicated as a church, 
(3) its endowment, (4) the apostolic and regal licence obtained for com- 
mencing the foundation, (5) the question whether the house of the friars' 
preachers could be dedicated without diminution of the episcopal jurisdiction 
and saving the rights of the parish church.'" The registers record no 
definite reply to this petition, but among the orders celebrated during the 
rule of Neville are entries stating that Richard, bishop of ' Caten,' held ordina- 
tions for the diocesan in the church of the Dominican friars of Melcombe on 
22 May, Vigil of Holy Trinity, 1434, and on 25 May, 1437.'^° 

That terrible landmark of the fourteenth century, the visitation of the 
plague known as the Black Death, acquires a special interest in this county, 
inasmuch as nearly all contemporary writers are agreed that Dorset was 
the first district to be attacked, and Melcombe Regis is usually supposed to 
be the place where the disease first showed itself. ' In the year of Our Lord, 
1348, about the feast of the translation of St. Thomas (7 July),' says the 
author of the Eulogium Historiarum, ' the cruel pestilence, terrible to all future 
ages, from parts over the sea came to the south coast of England to a port 
which is called Melcombe in Dorset, and sweeping over the southern districts 
destroyed innumerable people in Dorset, Devon, and Somerset.' '" Judging 
from the institutions of that time the epidemic did not fully manifest itself 
till the year had somewhat advanced, when it fell with fatal effect on the 
county, its ravages being especially marked on the coast where it first 
showed itself, and in the low-lying districts. One of the earliest victims 

'*^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Chandler, fol. 54, 55. ''' Ibid. Neville, fol. 3+. "* Ibid. Orders celebrated. 

"" Op. cit. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 213. The graphic account of Henry Knighton, canon of Leicester, says 
that at that time a lamentable pest penetrated into those parts nearest the sea by Southampton, and coming to 
Bristol there died of it as it were all the healthy folk of the town, taken away by sudden death, for few people 
kept their beds more than two or three days, and some only half a day, before death came to them at the set- 
ting of the sun, Leic. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 61. 



was the superior of the alien priory of Wareham to whom the king 
appointed a successor on 4 November,'^^ and by the i8th the churches of 
Bridport, Tyneham in Purbeck, Lulworth, and Cerne were all vacant by 
death of their incumbents."* A table of the institutions for Dorset during this 
period shows that the mortality, beginning in October, was highest during 
the months of November, December, January, and February."* From 
8 October, 1348, to January, 1349, the crown, it is said, presented to no less 
than thirty livings in the diocese of Salisbury, the greater number of which 
belonged to this county. "'^ In all probability, the regulars suffered no less 
than the secular clergy, though it is impossible to calculate in the same 
manner the number swept away. Following the prior of Wareham, the 
abbot of Abbotsbury was dead before 3 December for on that date the 
presentation to the vicarage, vacant also by death of the vicar, was in the 
king's hands by reason of the voidance of the abbey."' The warden of the 
hospital of St. John, Shaftesbury, fell a victim about the same time ; "^ on 
7 February, 1349, John Firth received confirmation of his appointment as 
abbot of Sherborne."' The second visitation of the plague in 1361 was 
hardly less severe, the list of institutions for the last six months of that year 
being especially heavy."' 

The effect of these terrible scourges, accompanied by mortality among 
the cattle and followed by a scarcity of labour owing to the number of 
agricultural labourers who died, pressed very heavily on all landowning 
classes, and especially on the monks, whose difficulties, in the case of those 
living near the sea, and whose lands adjoined the coast, were much increased 
by a position which exposed them to inroads from sea marauders and foreign 
invaders, while their stores were eaten up by defenders sent to repel 
invasion."" The temporal decline of the monasteries, dating from the great 
pestilence, reached a climax towards the close of the century, when they sank 
to a spiritual level from which in a measure they appear to have been rescued 
before their final disappearance. As regards the local clergy the effect of the 
loss in their ranks was to accentuate many existing abuses ; in the scarcity of 
priests to fill the places of those swept away scruples as to fitness and capacity 
had perforce to go by the board.*" Licences to study increased in the absence 

"' Orig. R. 22 Edw. Ill, m. 4. '" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii, fol. 90-191. 

'" Dr. Gasquet, from whom these figures are taken, estimates the number of institutions as follows : — 
Oct. 5, Nov. 15, Dec. 17, Jan. 16, Feb. 14, Mar. 10, Apr. 4 {The Great Pestilence, yg). He reckons the 
whole number of collations by the bishop in the diocese consisting of the three counties of Dorset, Wilts, and 
Berks, for the year beginning 25 Mar. 1348, and ending 25 Mar. 1349, at no less than 202, and at 243 for 
a like period the succeeding year. Ibid. 162. In Dorset it is reckoned that about half the number of 
benefices became vacant during the whole course of the visitation. 

'" Ibid. 78. Among other collations the patent rolls record the presentation to Blandford (Pat. 22 
Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 23), and to Spettisbury on 7 and 10 Dec. 1348, and on 4 Jan. 1349 (Ibid. m. 1 1, 16, 17). 

'^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii, Inst. fol. 192. 

"'Ibid. fol. 193. ""Ibid. fol. 199. 

""' The cause of vacancy is not always stated in the institutions of 1 36 1, and as exchanges were at that 
time becoming very general it prevents such an accurate return being given of the number of deaths in that year. 

"" In 1397 Pope Urban VI ordered the church of Tolpuddle to be appropriated to the abbey of Abbots- 
bury on this account. Ca/. Pap. Letters, v, 77. 

'" So great, [says Knighton] was the scarcity of priests that many churches were desolate, being without 
divine offices. Hardly could a chaplain be got under j^io or 10 marks to minister in any church, and where 
before a chaplain could be had for 4 or 5 marks, or 2 marks with board, so numerous were priests before the 
pestilence, now scarce any would accept a vicarage of ^20 or 20 marks. But in a short time there came 
crowding into orders a multitude of those whose wives had died in the plague, of whom many were illiterate, 
only able to read after a fashion, and not able to understand what they read. Lek. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 63. 



of a sufficiency of candidates who had attained the requisite orders. Bishop 
Wyville in a letter to the archdeacon in 1366 refers to a report of the 
number of absent rectors and vicars in the diocese and particularly in 
Dorset who let their churches to laymen, religious men "- being specially 
mentioned in this connexion."' Erghum, six years later, noting the neglect 
of divine service and hospitality and the danger to the souls of parishioners 
resulting from the practice of absentee incumbents making over their churches 
to laymen and unfit persons, desired to be certified as to their number in the 
archdeaconry, the period of absence and the names of those to whom bene- 
fices had been let."* Waltham, early in his episcopate, issued an order to his 
vicar-general in spirituals to enforce residence on the clergy, and punish those 
who did not comply."" The deaneries of Shaftesbury and Pimperne were 
visited by the bishop in 1393—4, the chief offences recorded in the list of 
presentments for the Shaftesbury deanery, visited in the church of Holy 
Trinity, Shaftesbury, appear to have consisted of moral lapses and the detention 
of tithes."* Many rural districts never fully recovered from the effect of the 
pestilence. There was a general fall in parochial endowments, and from 
the registers we learn of a number of churches, or moieties of churches, 
united on account of the insufficiency of the stipend to support an incumbent."'^ 
At the same time we find the bishops striving to restrain the ' insatiable 
rapacity ' of the clergy much in the same way as Parliament was endeavour- 
ing to put down the demands of the labourers."* Bishop Hallam in a 
monition (undated) addressed to his sons in general respecting a report of 
John Rygges, rector of Holy Trinity, Dorchester, that the church of 
St. Peter in the same town remains unserved denounces the refusal of any 
chaplain to accept a cure for a competent wage."^ Hallam's register 
contains frequent entries of licences for private oratories, and confronted by 
the difficulty of obtaining a sufficient supply of well-educated men to meet 
the growing demand it is evident that the bishops of that period turned for 
assistance to the use of licensed preachers.^ 


'" i.e. men of the religious orders. '" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii, fol. 225. 

'"' Ibid. Erghum, ii, fol. 8. 

'" Ibid. Waltham, fol. 15. '"« Ibid. fol. 72-7. 

''' These include the union of All Saints and St. James, Shaftesbury, in 1424, the church of All Saints 
being very much reduced (ibid. Chandler, fol. 41 <2'.) ; the two moieties of Child Okeford on account of 
poverty (ibid. Neville, ii, fol. 2 </.); the church of Winterborne Clenston to Winterbome Nicholas in 1436, 
the issues being insufficient to maintain two priests (ibid, ii, fol. 42 d.) ; the rectory of Chaldon Boys to 
Chaldon Herring in 1446, the issues of Chaldon Boys being insufficient to sustain a rector and the church 
consequently remaining vacant (ibid. Ayscough, fol. 57) ; the union of the vicarage of Spettisbury to the 
rector}' at the request of the rector, Robert Wade, the revenues being insufficient to maintain a vicar, 
Oct. 1439 (ibid. fol. 69 </.); the church of Puncknowle to that of Bexington in 1431 (ibid. Beauchamp, ii, 
fol. 1 1). The chaplain of the chantry in the church of Whitchurch was in 1454 licensed to accept a cure on 
account of the decay in the issues of the chantry (ibid. fol. 43) the churches of Ringstead and Osmington 
were united in 1488 (ibid. Langton, fol. 29 a'.); the church of Wraxall was on account of its poverty united 
to the church of Chilfrome in 1503 (ibid. BIyth, fol. 11); the churches of Durweston and Knighton were by 
the request of the patron, Robert de Fitzhaye, united in 1 38 1 (ibid. Erghum, fol. 44 </.). 

'" Wilkins, Concil. iii, 30, 50, 135. 

'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Hallam, fol. 52. The clerg)' were denounced by the people for their supposed 
greed and rapacity, but it should be remembered that they shared the agricultural distress, and 
were ground down by the increasing demands of the papal curia and the abuse of papal provision and 

"° In 1409, John Yo%%t\\, prefositus of Oriel College, Oxford, Richard Stabull, vicar of St. Peter in the 
East, Oxford, John Luke, bachelor of theology, were licensed to preach throughout the city and diocese of 
Salisbury ; the following year the bishop granted a similar licence to Walter Bexhampton of Bridport, chaplain; 
Ibid. pt. ii (Inst.), fol. 4, 5, 46. 



The general distress and discontent of the period did much to foster that 
form of religious activity which marks the later fourteenth and earlier 
fifteenth centuries. But with signs of a loosened hold on the part of the 
Church on other rural districts, so far as this county is concerned there is little 
evidence of any active sympathy with the movement identified with the name 
of John Wycliff. Prevalent as was LoUardy in other parts of the diocese, at 
Devizes, Reading, and along the valley of the Thames, it never seems to have 
taken strong hold of Dorset, and the instances recorded are very few and 
unimportant. The first that occurs is that of William Ramsbury, whose trial 
in June, 1389, was presided over by Robert Regenhill, archdeacon of Dorset ; 
having been found guilty of heretical views and opinions respecting the sacra- 
ments, and confessed that he had openly affirmed and published the same in 
different parts of the diocese, Blandford, Sturminster, &c., as well as in secret, 
he was condemned to make public recantation of his errors in the cathedral of 
Salisbury."^ The fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, so prolific else- 
where in religious persecution, only produce two further examples in Dorset. 
On 6 May, 1414, the official of the dean of Salisbury certified the bishop that 
in obedience to his commission he had cited Thomas Turle, vicar of the pre- 
bendal church of Bere, to appear before the bishop on the iith inst., in 
the church of Potterne, to answer the charge of holding heretical opinions 
requiring correction. ^*^ The register of Bishop Blyth in i 5 1 6, amidst various 
trials for heretical opinion in Wiltshire and Berkshire, records the 
abjuration of one Michael Gamare, of the parish of Wimborne St. Giles who, 
' being easely and lightly suspecte of heresye to you myne ordinarye by the 
depositions and sayings of certayn witnesses deposying agenst me,' first that 
he had said 

it is a lewde thyng and a madde condition or use occupyed in this contree or paryshe that 
women will come and sette their candles afore a tree, the image of Saynt Gylys, and that it 
were as good and as myche remedy . . . and they myght as well sette their candles in their 
pewys setys or upon a chymney and as grete devocion the oon as the other ... for the very 
saynte is in hevyn or where it pleasith God and the image of Saynt Gylys is but a stocke or 
a stone and if the saide image fell doune it wold breke their hedes 

confessed the above saying to be ' blassemose sclanderose and heresie and he 
does forsake and abjure ye same.' "' 

The suppression of alien houses in England by decree of the Parliament 
of Leicester in 141 4 brings again to our notice those alien dependencies whose 
erection here was the feature of the monastic revival in the twelfth century. 
Their career and the presence of foreign beneficed clergy in Dorset deserves a 
passing notice. With the loss of Normandy in the succeeding century the 
prospects of these foreign settlements darkened considerably, and John's action 
in seizing their possessions among the estates of Norman landowners in 
England in retaliation for his loss of the duchy "* was but an earnest of their 
fate during the greater part of the remainder of their existence. In truth the 
position of these alien communities was but a thankless one ; placed on 
the basis of the native clergy and expected to contribute towards royal 
subsidies and national expenses in times of peace ; '*^ in war time they were 

»> Sarum Epis. Reg. Waltham, ii, fol. 31. '»' Ibid. Hallam, ii, fol. 16. 

'»' Ibid. Blyth, fol. 158. "' Rot. Norman, (ed. Hardy), i, 122-4. 

•'^ Close 3 Edw. II, m. 5 d. ced. ; 5 Edw. Ill, pt. \,xa.6d. 



regarded as adherents of the enemy, their goods taken into custody and 
heavily taxed ; they escaped none of the burdens and enjoyed none of the 
immunities. From the commencement of the Hundred Years' War these 
foreign cells were, with brief intervals, seized into the hands of the king, 
who appointed custodians to farm their revenues. It was to the advan- 
tage of the head house abroad to get rid of their English dependencies, on 
as advantageous terms as possible but in any case to rid themselves of what 
involved merely responsibility, and the chapter of Coutances were fortunate 
in obtaining a purchaser for their manor of Winterborne Stickland in the 
earlier part of the French wars."' After a continued course of farming 
the spiritual duties that attached to these dependent cells became almost 
lost sight of ; at the close of the war the general verdict pronounced that 
charity and almsgiving had been withdrawn and divine service ceased in the 
case of the greater number of them, and it cannot be said that the country 
generally seems to have suffered much spiritual loss by their suppression. 
In Dorset their number and proximity to the coast, bringing them within easy 
reach of communication with the enemy, rendered their presence a very 
lively source of suspicion. The fear of invasion which marked the close of 
the reign of Edward II is reflected in the register of Bishop Mortival, which 
at that time teems with entries dealing with precautions for preventing any 
possible collusion between the foreigners domiciled in the country and the 
threatening force of invasion. ^*^ The return furnished by the bishop of those 
foreign beneficiaries who were ordered to appear before the council at West- 
minster and to give security for their good behaviour includes the names of 
Richard Gouch, rector of Toller Porcorum, Simon Avenel, rector of Winter- 
bourne Stickland, Ralph Moreb, rector of Spettisbury and canon of Salis- 
bury."^ In obedience to an order for the removal of certain religious men 
from their houses near the sea to others further inland, the bishop certified 
that he had transferred William Pyequier of Frampton and Ralph Pothyn of 
Loders to the abbey of Sherborne."' The final seizure of the cells and granges 
of alien houses in Dorset greatly enriched the English foundations to which 
they were granted as their leases fell in. Thus on its reversion to the crown 
in 1437 Henry VI bestowed the priory of Frampton in free alms on the dean 
and canons of St. Stephen of Westminster."" The cell of Loders was made 
over by Henry V to the nunnery of Syon (Middlesex) which he had founded, 
the grant being afterwards confirmed by Henry VI. "^ Muckleford, as parcel 
of the alien priory of Andwell (Hants), passed over to Winchester college,"^ 
Povington to Eton college,"' Spettisbury became the property of the Car- 
thusian priory of Witham (Somerset),"* Stour Provost, bestowed in the first 
instance by Henry VI on Eton College, was transferred by Edward IV to the 
provost and scholars of King's College, Cambridge."^ The prior of Wast or 
de Vasto succeeded in the reign of Edward II in letting his estate at Winter- 
borne Monkton and Bockhampton, and from that time the property remained 
in the hands of English tenants."' Wareham was granted by Richard II 

'^' Pat. 10 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 8. '*" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, i, pt. 236. 

'^■^ Ibid. fol. 240a. '■' Ibid. fol. 27+. 

'» Pat. 16 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 14. "' Ibid. 2 Hen. VI, pt. 3, m. 20. 

'" A. F. Leach, Hist. 0/ Wimhesler College, x, 144. '=« Falor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 206. 

'" Pat. 7 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 13. "' Ibid. Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 23. 

"* Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 321. 



in May, 1 399, together with the priories of Hinckley (Leicestershire) and 
Carisbrooke (Isle of Wight) and all other possessions of the Norman abbey of 
Lyre in England to the prior and convent of Mountgrace of the Carthusian 
order."^ Though these dependencies of foreign houses are often alluded to as 
' reputed ' priories, only four of them can be proved to have maintained a 
religious community. 

It is difficult to summarize the religious position of the fifteenth century 
as it advanced, or rather it requires a summary from more than one point of 
view^. With an inevitable amount of dissatisfaction, and, on the part of the 
faithful, of discontent with the secular aims that animated most of the bishops 
and the higher ranks of the clergy, we have still to consider the evidence 
of the reality and movement of church life and the progress of religious 
aspiration. The chantries founded at that time and up to the Reformation 
are perhaps most significant of this advance, for, while the devout remained 
faithful to the form chosen by an earlier generation for the expression of 
their religious feelings, the introduction of other objects in their ordination 
testifies to the spread and growth of the ideal of education and enlightenment 
as a means to the amelioration of society. Again, indulgences are more 
frequently granted for purely secular objects. The register of Bishop Ayscough, 
1439—50, records an indulgence for those assisting the building of a new 
haven at Bridport for the safety of merchants and mariners, to further the 
construction of which all the ecclesiastical authorities of the town banded 
themselves into a common association.^'^ Neither was diocesan visitation 
neglected. In January, 1503, in the midst of a visitation of the diocese by 
the bishop's vicar-general in spirituals, Bishop Audley wrote to the deans of 
Bridport and Shaftesbury respecting the excessive number of those begging 
alms and attempting to deceive the people by selling indulgences, denouncing 
all such traffic, forbidding the vendors to be allowed to preach in any of the 
churches of the above deaneries, and ordering the clergy to be warned against 
them ; this prohibition was not to apply to the nuncios of the order of St. John 
of Jerusalem in England."' 

The religious houses of Dorset appear to have reached their lowest level 
in the fourteenth century when their condition frequently called for interven- 
tion on the part of the king and ordinary and the appointment of custodians. 
Their poverty, the natural result of the economic pressure of that time, was in 
many cases greatly enhanced by the bad and inefficient rule of superiors, the 
effects of which lasted much longer than the actual period over which it 
extended. The troubles, for instance, of the Cistercian abbey of Bindon, whose 
history throughout the fourteenth century is one sordid record of debt, disorder, 
and dissension calculated to lower the tone of any community, came to a 
climax under the rule of John de Monte Acuto ; and his deposition in 133 i 
by order of the chapter-general of Citeaux -'"' by no means put an end to the 
embarrassments his government had done so much to foster. The difficulties 
again of the abbey of Shaftesbury, the extent of whose property gave rise to 
the proverb ' if the abbot of Glastonbury could marry the abbess of Shaftesbury 
their heir would hold more land than the king of England,' ""' were mainly 

'" Pat. 22 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. lo-il. '°* Sarum Epis. Reg. Ayscough, fol. 71. 

'" Ibid. Audley, fol. 1 14. '"' Close, 6 Edw. Ill, m. 3 </. 

"" Fuller, CAii/ri Hist, iii, 332. 



caused by the unwieldiness of a community whose numbers taxed even its 
resources, and demanded powers of organization and government not always 
at command. 

The absence of visitation reports in the century preceding the Dissolution 
makes one hesitate to pronounce with any certainty as to the condition of the 
monasteries in the latter part of their career, but, in spite of the fact that the 
number of their inmates had undoubtedly fallen, signs are not wanting of 
renewed vitality and a restoration of discipline and order. The chantries that 
continued to be founded in their conventual churches testify to the hold they 
still maintained on the affections of many. As the social and religious ideals 
of a succeeding age slowly emerged we find schools established in connexion 
with them, whose value even those engineering the changes of the sixteenth 
century were forced to recognize.""^ The Valor Eccksiasticus with its record 
of organized almsgiving and round of fixed anniversaries exhibits the monks 
still faithful to the memory and charitable bequests of their founders and 

It is interesting to note the shadow of coming events in the appointment 
of superiors on the eve of the Dissolution. Many appear to have been expressly 
chosen with a view to their compliance with court schemes, and all were care- 
fully imbued with the idea that liberal treatment would attend due submission. 
The example of Bindon, the only house in Dorset coming under the earlier Act 
for the suppression of monasteries under the yearly value of jTaoo,^"' doubtless 
encouraged a delusion that certain houses might be spared for a consideration. 
Sir Thomas Arundel wrote to Cromwell on i8 December, 1538 that in spite 
of representations the abbess of Shaftesbury refused to follow the ' moo ' 
(majority) and yield her abbey, and that she and the abbot of Cerne were pre- 
pared to offer 'His Majesty' 500 marks and 'your lordship' ^100 to obtain 
the continuation of their houses.^"* It was useless, the stroke that in less than 
a month should deprive Dorset of her sole remaining links with an historic 
past, the outward and visible signs of ancient glory departed, fell the March 
following (1539) ; Milton, which surrendered on the iith of that month, was 
followed by Abbotsbury on the 12th, Tarrant Kaines on the 13th, Bindon on 
the 14th, Sherborne with its dependent cell, the priory of Horton, on the 18th, 
Holme, a dependent cell of Montacute (Somerset), on the 20th, Shaftesbury, 
greatest and last of all,^°' fell on the 23 rd. 

The heavy hand of Henry VIII did not stop with the monasteries, and 
to his successor he bequeathed measures for the suppression of colleges, chan- 
tries, gilds, and hospitals which were carried out by Acts i and 2 Edward VI. 
The commissioners appointed to report on the ' lands, tenements, jewels, 
plate, goods and stocke ' belonging to the colleges &c. in this county esti- 
mated their value at ^(^631 oj. id., with a deduction in 'rents resolute' of 

'"- Besides the well-known school at Sherborne and the free school established in connexion with the 
chantry of the countess of Richmond and Derby in Wimborne Minster, there was a free school founded by 
William de Middleton, abbot of Milton, which was described as 'of good regard and in former times much 
frequented.' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 396. 

"" Bindon, on the payment of ;^30o to the king, was restored by royal letters patent 29 Sept. 1538, 
only to fall a few months later with the larger houses. L. and P. Hen. VllI, xiii (2), 177 ; xiv (i), 

'»■' Ibid, xiii (2), 1090. 

*"" The last with the exception of Cranborne which was surrendered with the abbey of Tewkesbury, 
31 Jan. 1540. Ibid, xv, 49. 



^94 Ss. 2J.^°^ Besides a number of small endowments for the maintenance of 
lamps, obits, and various services, the foundations surveyed in both certificates 
relating to Dorset comprise some 25 or 26 chantries, 14 free chapels, 
4 gilds or fraternities,^"^ and 9 hospitals. ^°^ In many cases reference to the 
benefits rendered by these foundations gives some idea of what the county was 
to be deprived on the plea of abolishing the superstitions with which they 
had unfortunately become associated ; the worst to be gathered from the 
returns is that in a few cases funds had been diverted from the objects 
originally intended, while on the other hand frequent entries testify to the 
good work done in connexion with many of the chantries and of the lofs 
occasioned by their destruction. Thus, under the chantry in Netherbury 
church, the certificate notes a grammar school kept by Martyn Smyth, priest, 
who received for his stipend £^ 6s. 8^.^°' Under Wareham the sum of _^8 
constituting the endowment of a free school founded by Sir John Loders, priest, 
and others in the parish of Milton Tregonwell, was yearly paid to the ' scole- 
master for his stipend.'"" A memorandum states that the free chapel of 
West Hemsworth was ordained for a schoolmaster to be maintained in Long 
Blandford."^ As regards the hospitals the endowment of that of Allington 
near Bridport served only to maintain a chaplain, the ' power men ' living by 
alms of the town,"^ and in the same way the income of St. John Baptist of 
Bridport, amounting to £6 Ss. gld. clear, was assigned to the priest serving 
it."'' The inmates, five poor men, of the hospital of St. John Baptist of 
Shaftesbury, had to rely for their maintenance on the charity of the inhabit- 
ants of the town, the whole of the revenues, consisting of 73J. 6d. yearly, 
being handed over to the chaplain."* 

The district on which the confiscation of these endowments fell most 
heavily was Wimborne ; there are several indications of the important 
part played by the college in the social and ecclesiastical life of the 
neighbourhood now deprived of the services of four priests and four clerks 
which the dean and prebendaries were bound to provide to serve the four 
chapels round : St. Peter's in the town, St. Catherine's of Leigh, St. James 
at Holt, and St. Stephen's at Kingston. ' Mem"^.' runs the report of the 

to have 4 priests to serve the cure in the parish of Wimborne because there be t, chapels 
wherein there is devyne service which said chapels be distant from the church of Wimborne 
3 miles and are for the ease of the people.*'' 

There was also the ' schole masters chauntry ' of Margaret, countess of Rich- 
mond and Derby, in the collegiate church."* 

'»" Coll and Chant. Cert, xiv, Nos. 1-35. 

™' The gilds are that of Corpus Christ! in Wareham, the fraternity of Our Lady in St. Peter's church, 
Dorchester, that of St. George in Poole, and St. George in Weymouth. 

"' These were at Allington, Bridport, Dorchester, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Wimborne, and Wareham. 

•"'Ibid. No. 59. ""Ibid. No. 81. 

"' Ibid. No. 115. '" Ibid. No. 62. '" Ibid. No. 6i. 

"* Ibid. No. 100. In the case of Wimborne the alms of the town supplemented the scanty endow- 
ment of the hospital which produced only a yearly income of 29/. id., and the return states that the 
eight poor men ' not only live by the profits of the said house but by the devotion of the people of 
Wimborne' (ibid. No. 112). The hospital of Sherborne, the last religious house to be erected in 
Dorset, had by far the richest endowment, out of a clear income of ^^3 1 5/. the chaplain received half- 
yearly £\o 6s. id., the remainder being assigned to the finding of eleven poor and impotent men and four 
poor women (ibid. No. 91). 

"' Ibid. No. 1 10. »'« Ibid. No. 106. 



In addition to the suppression of colleges and chantries, which in effect 
deprived the parochial clergy of the services of a body of assistant chaplains 
whose services had cost them nothing, the reign of Edward VI was respon- 
sible for further changes in the removal of pictures and images from parish 
churches, the taking down of roods,'" the setting up of tables in the place of 
altars, the whitewashing of the walls of the edifice, the confiscation of vest- 
ments and parish plate. That section of the return of the commissioners 
appointed to take possession of all superfluous church plate for the king's 
use which relates to chalices has been already dealt with for the county 
of Dorset.'^' Of the 265 entries therein contained, 254 relate to parish 
churches, and eleven to attached chapels. Six of these parishes only had 
three chalices : Long and Little Bredy, Corscombe, Cranborne, MarnhuU, 
Bradford Abbas and Sturminster Newton ; the number having two in use was 
thirty-five, 204 had one. Eight parishes were entered under ' defaults,' seven 
of which had sold or otherwise disposed of a chalice, and there was one instance 
of a chalice being stolen.-^' As the plague was raging in the county during the 
proceedings of the commissioners no return was made for Canford, Wimborne 
Minster and Poole, and an entry explaining this absence states ' ther be no 
inventories taken by reason of the plague and they have lost ther olde enven- 
tories as they have sent us word wher uppon ther ys no newe taken.' Accord- 
ing to an earlier inventory specially taken in 1545 Poole made a return of 
seven chalices ; in a second return of the commissioners of Edward VI in 
1553 it is stated that there were reserved for the use of the church of Poole 
one chalice weighing i2oz. and two bells in the town estimated at 6 cwt. ; 
the remaining six bells had been sold 'for the makyng of bulworks and dyches 
for the defence of the saide towne by direction of My Lord's Grace (the 
Protector Somerset) at his being in Poole.' "" Another return of the church 
goods of Poole in 1559 before the commissioners of Queen Elizabeth reported 
' our images be all defaced and brente.' As for the chalices no parish was 
allowed to retain more than one, and the one left for future parish use was 
almost invariably the worst or the least.'^^ 

Under Mary there was an attempt to restore the confiscated church 
goods and in the absence of any settlement with regard to the transactions of 
Edward VI's commissioners the government issued an order to compel them 
to render an exact account of their proceedings. Accordingly Sir Giles 
Strangways"^ set off for London, the plate and money being sent after him. 
The plate was delivered at the Tower, and ^j^ paid in as part payment of 

'" An entry of a payment of zs. for ' takyne downe ye rode ' occurs under the year 1 547 in the church- 
wardens' accounts of Wimborne Minster. 

"* By Mr. Nightingale in his book. Church Plate of Dorset, from which the following figures are taken. 

"' Mr. Nightingale quotes the following as typical of the church possessions of a Dorset village (it relates 
to Woolland) in 1552: ' Fyrst, j chalis sylver parcell gylt ; j pyx sylver, j whyte cope of sylke ; j whyt vest"" 
of dornix, j redd vest"" of dornix, ij table clothes, iij candlesticks of bras, j holy water pot bras, j lyche bell, 
ii cruets of leade, j surplis, ij crosses of tyn, j saucer of bras, j chasuble of grene, j vest"" of black velvet. To the 
use of the Churche. — Appoynted by the said commissioners j chalis, j white cope of sylk w"" all the table clothes 
and surplices. The residue of all the possessions commytted to the custody of these men whose names be 
underwrytten, Sir John Whyt, curate, John Hayson, senr., John Hayson, junr., John Carter, Thomas Baker, 
alias Galpyn. Ibid. Pref. 7. -"" Ibid. 126. 

'"' Mr. Nightingale estimates the number of mediaeval church plate in use before the Reformation and 
now remaining in Dorset at only three. 

"' The Commissioners appointed in Dorset were Sir Giles Strangways, Sir John Horsey, Sir George 
de la Lynde, and Thomas Trenchard. Later on we find them constantly employed as justices of the peace in 
trying recusants. 



^^132 5J. z,d. for which the ornaments and other church goods in Dorset had 
been sold, the remaining sum being retained for the expense of conveying the 
money and plate to London.^^^ 

Another very material change brought about in the reign of Henry VIII 
was the removal of this county out of the see of Salisbury and its transference 
to the new diocese of Bristol, erected by letters patent of 4 June, 1542,^"* 
under which it remained until the year 1836, when by an order in council 
the archdeaconry of Dorset was again united to the Salisbury diocese. During 
the whole period of its existence under Bristol, however, those churches and 
prebends belonging to the chapter of Salisbury continued to remain under the 
peculiar jurisdiction of the dean by whom they were visited, and the records 
of whose visitations are preserved among the archives of the cathedral. *^^ The 
injunctions circulated by Bishop Shaxton throughout his diocese in 1538 give 
some idea of the parochial ministrations of the clergy on the eve of impend- 
ing change. They begin with provisions as to non-residents and their 
curates, directing that no French or Irish priest that could not perfectly speak 
the English tongue should be allowed to serve as curate. The clergy were 
charged at high mass to read the Gospel and Epistle in English, and to set out 
the Royal Supremacy with the usurpations of the bishop of Rome, they were 
also bidden to preach purely, sincerely and according to the true scriptures of 
God, and regulations were laid down for the frequent use of sermons in pro- 
portion to the value of their livings ; as a general rule four sermons were to 
be preached every year, one in each quarter. No friar was to be permitted 
to perform any service in the church. The clergy were also required to read 
a chapter of the New Testament every day, and every person having a cure 
of souls should be able to repeat without book, the gospels of St. Matthew 
and St. John, and the epistles to the Romans, Galatians, and Corinthians, 
with the Acts of the Apostles and the canonical epistles."'" 

Probably the first effect of the transference to another see in the midst 
of other changes was to paralyse church effort and organization for a time ; 
we find that the services of the chapels attached to Wimborne Minster 
were not restored till the reign of Elizabeth, and as late as 1577 Sir John 
Horsey and George Trenchard explained to the Council the difficulty of 
obtaining information respecting recusants in Dorset, ' as it was uncertain 
in whose diocese the shire was.'*'" It is also unfortunate that we have no 
means of ascertaining definitely how far the personnel of the Dorset clergy 
was affected by the measures introduced on the accession of Mary in 1553: "^^ 
the queen's great Statute of Repeals abolishing the Edwardian Act of 
I 549, and the ' Injunctions ' for the removal of all priests who had availed 
themselves of the permission to marry granted in the last reign."^' Nor when 
the death of Mary and the accession of Elizabeth set the pendulum of 
religious opinion swinging in another direction can we find any evidence of 
the number of clergy deprived for refusing to subscribe to the queen's 

'^' Nightingale, Church Plate of Dorset, Pref. p. 8. '" Pat. 34. Hen. VIII, pt. 10. 

'" Liber Visitationum Decani. 

■'^ Burnet, Hist, of the Reformation, iii, 245. "' Cal. S.P. Dam. 1547-80, p. 561. 

'-^ Owing to the destruction of the records at Bristol in the fire of 1 831. W. H. Frere, The Marian 
Reaction, 32. 

"' It was, however, provided that such priests as consented to put away their wives should, after due 
penance, be re-admitted to officiate 'so it be not in the s.ime place.' Ibid. 61. 



supremacy, and the Act for the Uniformity of Common Prayer and Adminis- 
tration of the Sacraments which formed the basis of the Elizabethan church 

As regards the state of feeling in the county generally there is no sign 
that the violent changes brought about by Henry VIII and Edward VI met 
with the strong disapproval they evoked in Lincolnshire and the north. -'^ At 
Poole especially, which afterwards distinguished itself as one of the strong- 
holds of Puritan feeling and the Parliamentary party, the accession of Mary 
was attended by religious feuds between the favourers of the new religion 
and the adherents of the old faith which were largely fomented by the 
influence of Thomas Hancock, nominated to the living of Poole in 1546, 
through whose preaching the inhabitants of the town became strong partisans 
of the new party in the Church, and were said to be ' the first that in that 
parte of England were called Protestantes.' -^- 

But in spite of strong Protestant sympathy, specially marked in the 
towns of Poole and Dorchester, there are tokens of deep though latent and 
suppressed affection for the old religion, especially on the part of certain 
families whose loyalty survived all the changes of the sixteenth century and 
later persecutions. Tacit sympathy with recusancy is exhibited as late 
as 1 59 1, when an order was sent to Thomas Husseye and Robert Ken- 
nele, esqs., to make inquiry into a report that at the last quarter sessions 
when the Grand Jury were charged to present recusants and such as refused 
to come to church secret warning and intelligence was given them not to 
do this, ' according to the revelation of Mr. Coker of Ashe, and Mr. Seymor 
of Hanford.' "'' The prevalence of recusancy among the feminine half of the 
community provoked a query the following year (1592) as to whether the 
recusant wives of conforming husbands might be committed to prison and 
whether their husbands should be ' punishable by any pecuniary paine for that 
offence of their wives ; ' the commissioners for the apprehension of recusants in 
Dorset being directed by the council to forbear committing these ladies 
' until Her Majestie has taken the opinion of judges.' "'* 

At the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, save for the clergy, the Act of 
Uniformity does not appear to have been rigidly enforced, but the promul- 
gation of the bull of Pope Pius V in 1570 absolving her subjects from their 
allegiance materially altered conditions and placed Catholic Nonconformity in 
the light of a dangerous element in the state. In Dorset with the uncertainty 
' in whose diocese the shire was,' no convictions were pressed till the year 
1582, when an order was sent to Sir John Horsey, knt., and George 
Trenchard, esq., ' to apprehend and send up one Slade a verie dangerous 
Papist lurking within the countie of Dorset, and all such superstitious 
ornaments and tromperie as they can by diligent search find out,' with direc- 
tions to make search and apprehend from time to time ' anie Jesuit and 
seminarie priest.' ^^° The examination of John Meere of Dorset, student 

"" Gee, The Elizabethan Clergy, 31. 

*" It was the fear of being put again under the domination of Rome that was productive of disturbance 
in I 5 54, and in 1557 the authorities were ordered to be fully prepared in the event of a rising, j^cts ofP.C. 
(New Ser.), 1556-8, p. 87. 

*'* Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, i, 52, gives an account of the feuds there. 

^ Jets ofP.C. (New Ser.), I 590-1, p. 358. »" Ibid. 1592, p. 182. 

"^ Ibid. 1582, p. 446. The Recusancy Roll 37 Eliz. (1594-5) records that John Slade, late of Manston, 
gent, was fined £100 for non-attendance at church five months. L.T.R. (Pipe Off. Ser.). 



in the Temple and prisoner in the Fleet, is recorded 23 June, 1585.^'® In 
February, 1586, letters were forwarded to special commissioners in various 
counties, including Dorset, to enforce a regular assessment of fines for 
recusancy.^" In December, 1591, a commission of inquiry was issued for 
Jesuits and seminary priests in Dorset, and the following year it was 
renewed for the purpose of adding to the commission.''*^ In spite of the 
increasing severity of the penalties inflicted on recusants, it seems evident that 
their numbers were largely increasing. The first Recusancy roll under Eliza- 
beth, 1 59 1— 2, gives eighty-six names, and indicates pretty clearly the chief 
centres of Catholic sentiment : Hampreston, the neighbourhood of Wimborne, 
Corfe, Canford, Swanage, and above all Chideock. where the forfeitures of 
Charles Sturton of Chideock, gent., Dorothea Arundel, Cecilia Arundel, 
Gertrude Arundel, Elizabeth Chernock, and John Chernock are followed by 
those of twenty-five retainers, members of the household and tenants.^'*' A 
list on I October, 1598, of certain recusants finedjri5 each towards the Irish 
Light Horse gives the names of Lady Sturton, Charles Sturton, esq., Mr. Martin 
of Athelhampton, Henry Cary of Hamworthy, and Mr. Slade of Mawston 
(Mansion), gent."*" The names of most frequent, and in some cases continual, 
recurrence in the recusancy rolls of the whole of Elizabeth and early part of 
James I are those of William Gerard of Clerkenwell, who forfeited two parts 
of the manor of Broadway, William Morecock of Nether Kincombe, Gregory 
Durdo of Iwerne Minster, Henry Yunge of Wimborne, Henry Cary of Ham- 
worthy, the Stourtons, the Arundels, the Wells, the Lockyers, the Loapes 
or Loopes of Hampreston, the Martins of Athelhampton, the Goulds of 
Cranborne and Edmondsham.''" The State Papers of James I, under date of 
23 December, 1607, record the grant to Lawrence Marbury of the benefit of 
the recusancy of Elizabeth Wells of Dorset,"^ on 10 January, 1608, the 
grant of the benefit of the recusancy of Mary Gerard, widow ; ^" on 
20 July, 1609, came an order to inquire into the goods of Anne Turber- 
ville of Dorset the benefit of whose recusancy was granted to Sir John 

The chief source of anxiety to the authorities was the position that 
Catholicism was able to take up in Dorset owing to the support it con- 
tinued to receive from some of the oldest and most influential families in the 
county. The chief centre of Catholic leaning in the sixteenth century was 
at Chideock, the residence of the Arundel family,-*^ who like the Webbs of 
Canford, and the Welds of Lulworth, remained faithful to the Royalist cause 
during the later rebellion."" Most of the Popish priests executed during that 



Cal S.P. Dom. 1581-90, p. 247. '" Jets ofP.C. (New Ser.), 1586-7, pp. 15, 16. 

Cal. S.P. Dom. 1 591-4, pp. 137, 212. 

Recus. R. 34 Eliz. Exch. L.T.R. (Pipe OfF. Ser.). In 1586 a note of the names of the wives and 
widows ' who are most obstinate recusants in the county of Bedford ' records the name of Elizabeth Char- 
nock, daughter of Sir John Arundel and wife of John Charnock. Ca/. S.P. Dom. 1581-90, p. 376. 

™ Jcti ofP.C. (New Ser.), 1598-9, p. 203. "' Recus. R. Exch. L.T.R. (Pipe Off. Ser), 1-14. 

'" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1603-10, p. 395. »" Ibid. "" Ibid. 530. 

"' Chideock came into the hands of the Arundel family in the reign of Henry VII by the marriage of 
Katherine Chideock, youngest daughter of Sir John Chideock and last of the family, to Sir John Arundel, of 
Lanherne (Foley, Rec. of Engl. Province of S.J. iii, 426). 

"* Chideock Castle fell alternately into the hands of the Royalist and Parliamentary party during the Civil 
War. According to Hutchins {Hist.of Dorset.u, 259) it was at last taken in 1645 by the Parliamentary forces 
quartered at Lyme, and in the same year thirteen owners of small tenements, whereof seven were recusants, had 
their estates sequestered, doubtless as a punishment for their loyal defence of the house. 



period are said to have officiated as chaplains at Chideock , Castle,"*^ and a 
sketch of the fortunes of this family under Elizabeth gives probably the 
best picture of the trials and risks of a Catholic household at that time. 
In 1 58 1 Sir John Arundel was summoned to London and for a time 
committed to close custody by the queen ; following her husband's arrest 
Lady Arundel, daughter of Edward earl of Derby and relict of Charles, Lord 
Stourton, also suffered a term of imprisonment. On 9 April, 1584, she was 
examined as to her speeches against the present government, reception of 
Jesuits and seminary priests, hearing mass and receiving letters from Charles 
Paget, &c.-" On 9 June she begged Walsingham to use his interest with 
the queen to procure her release, protesting that ' her own heart could not 
accuse her of any undutiful thought towards Her Majesty ' ; '" fortunately the 
lady's plea received favourable consideration, and she was soon after released."** 
On the death of Sir John at Isleworth his widow returned to Chideock where 
she took up her residence and, save for the fines imposed on the household for 
recusancy, appears for a short time to have been left in peace. But the castle 
remained a centre of Catholic influence in Dorset, and the resort of semin- 
arists, among whom was Father Cornelius, a native of Cornwall, who having 
been educated by Sir John Arundel at Oxford and the English college at Rheims, 
returned later to England in the capacity of chaplain to his patron and by him 
was recommended to the care of his wife on his deathbed. The priest was 
a marked man to the government who only required opportunity to lay hands 
on him. It came in the usual fashion by treachery ; a member of the house- 
hold, William Holmes, enraged at some reproof for his conduct went to the 
high sheriff, Sir George Morton, with information whereby a plan was con- 
certed for the apprehension of the priest. For this purpose Easter Sunday, 
31 March, 1594, was chosen, when there was every prospect of a mass being 
celebrated, and for five miles watch and ward was set round the castle. 
The trap failed owing to the precautions taken, but a second attempt 
a fortnight later resulted in success, and after a prolonged search Father 
Cornelius was dragged from his hiding place in one of the priest's holes."' 
On 2 1 April the prisoner was examined before the justices. Sir George 
Trenchard, Sir Ralph Horsey, and John Williams, and the evidence taken 
of the informer, William Holmes, who testified to the presence of Catholic 
priests attached to the household of the late Sir John Arundel during the 
period he had been in his service ; that the said Cornelius dwelt with Sir John 
and his widow for a year ; that another priest, John Sherwood, now deceased, 

'" One of these, Thomas Pilchard, was executed at Dorchester on 21 March, 1587, with all the barbarous 
rites that attended such executions ; another Catholic recusant, a Mr. Jessop, dying soon after in Dorchester 
gaol, was by his own desire buried next to Mr. Pilchard. (Foley, op. cit. iii, 428-9.) Other names given 
are Cornelius 1594, Green 1642. Arthur Browne, another seminary priest, purchased his life at the price of 
recantation (Oliver, Hist, of CathoFic Re/igiort in Conitc. and Dors. etc. 1857, pp. 35-9). John Mundyn, priest 
at Mapperton, was executed at Tyburn 12 Feb. 1589 (Ibid. 39). 

"* Cal S.P. Dom. 1581-90, p. 171. "' Ibid. 180. "^ Ibid. 201-260. 

"' The account of this famous semin.iry priest (Foley, Rec. of the Engl. Province of S.J. iii, 43 5 , 474) is largely 
based on the j^cts of Father Cornelius written by Miss Doroth}- Arundel, the daughter of Sir John, who after 
the priest's execution went abroad and entered the convent of the English Benedictine nuns at Brussels, where 
she was professed 1600 and died in 1613. She gives a graphic account of Cornelius' apprehension and pre- 
liminary examination before the justices. On being summoned together with the rest of the household and 
questioned as to her share in harbouring and concealing a public traitor and enemy to Her Majesty the Queen, 
this spirited lady broke out '/ gather together traitors and enemies of the Queen, I sustain them, / conceal 
them I If you would have men of that kind I know them not. I well know that I know none such.' Ibid. 
'". 455- 



* dwelled likewise with the said Sir John Arundel and his lady for the space 
of viii years and upwards before his death, and others ' ; that after Sir John 
removed his house from Clerkenwell to Moushill, where he lived for about 
three years, the said Cornelius and Sherwood continued with him ; after that 
the knight removed to Isleworth where he remained for about six or seven 
weeks and then died, and there he was visited by another priest whose name 
was William Patinson. The witness further deposed that Cornelius and 
Sherwood did daily say mass at Clerkenwell and Moushill and at Isleworth, 
but that he was not admitted to hear mass until he came to Isleworth where 
he heard the three priests say several masses ; he was also present at many 
masses said by the three priests at Chideock, whither his lady had removed 
since the death of Sir John, and for a time was appointed to wait on them in 
their chamber. On the departure of William Patinson to London, where he 
was soon after executed,"" his place was taken by another priest, John Currie, 
who remained until after the death of Sherwood twelve months since, the latter, 
as the witness understood, being buried in the chapel of Chideock House, and 
on Currie's departure to London at Michaelmas, he was succeeded by Green, 
alias Lusty Green, who remained in company with Cornelius until Easter day 
last ; at which time, about one o'clock in the morning before day, having said 
mass and received intelligence of an intended search they each went their ways. 
Green going to Cornwall, but Cornelius having his mother in Chideock 
House returned there the next day and remained till he was apprehended. The 
informer gave the names of the household who daily attended mass; ~" the boys 
and hinds in the house were not admitted, nor had he, the witness, been admitted 
since a year last Michaelmas, and he stated that Cary and Patrick, now 
prisoners in Dorchester gaol, had been in attendance upon the said priests in 
their chamber both before and after his discharge from that duty. The 
priest, John Cornelius, alias Moone late of Bodmin, Cornwall, on interroga- 
tion, stated that he was forty years of age, had been ordained priest in the 
seminary at Rome thirteen or fourteen years since, had returned to England 
eleven years ago, and had since continued travelling to and fro ' to do good 
and to instruct in the Romish religion according to his function ;' he refused 
to say where he had lodged for fear of bringing others into danger.^'* That 
Chideock was regarded as a hot-bed of Catholicism is evident from the letter 
addressed by the justices of the peace who conducted this examination to 
Lord Keeper Pickering and Lord Buckhurst, together with their report, lo 
June, 1594. Referring to the priest Cornelius they say 

his repair with tiiat of others not yet taken to the lady's house has nursed up many ill 
imps and given comfort to not a few ill subjects, whereby we are daily encumbered and the 
country is drawn back from the faith. In regard thereof we desire that the said lady may 


He was hanged at Tyburn Z2 Jan. I 592. 

"' The Lord Stourton ; Mr. Charles Stourton ; Mr. John Easton and Margaret his wife ; Mrs. Dorothy 
Arundel ; Mrs. Gertrude Arundel ; Mr. Thomas Bosgrave, Thomas Stone, committed to gaol ; Henry Barbye,. 
John Cooke ; Jeffrey Cardew; — Holcombe ; Ann Tremayne ; Margaret Tremayne ; Jane Tremayne; Dorothy 
PriJeaux ; Jane Woodcocks ; Julyan Morgan, widow ; Christian Storche; Mother Mawde, mother to Cornelius;: 
Faith Victor, attendant upon her ; Ellz. Diggenson, an old woman. 

"* Ca/. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, pp. 488-9. The prisoner, after confinement for a fortnight at the house of 
the justice Trenchard, was ordered by the Council to be removed to London unless he could be persuaded to 
renounce his religion. He spent two months in the Marshalsea and was then transferred to Dorchester, where- 
having been put upon trial he was convicted of the crime of high treason and rebellion against the queen andl 
executed 4 July, 1594, together with three companions from Chideock, Mr. Bosgrave, and the men-servants, 
John Cary and Patrick. Foley, op. cit. iii, 465-72. 

2 33 5 


be removed to some other house and friends or placed with the sheriff of the county for the 
time being, for that if she should continue in the place where she is now resident we doubt 
would breed further mischief. For under cover of great hospitality and her bounty to the 
poor many are drawn to her faction and repair thither as to their only supporter.'" 

Subsequently the lady was imprisoned together with nearly all her household 
and heavily fined. "^ 

During the seventeenth century. Catholic sentiment was kept alive in 
Dorset by the Webbs at Canford, and the Welds who came into possession 
of Lulworth Castle in 1641. Their sons swelled the ranks of the seminary 
priests, their daughters joined those communities established abroad for English 
nuns on their dispersal in whose establishment and maintenance they were 
largely instrumental."" Together with the owners of Chideock they remained 
faithful to the Royalist cause on the outbreak of civil war. Sir John Webb 
was ordered to be arrested by the Parliamentarians in 1641, but managed 
to escape, and rendered such services to Charles I, that in reward of them he 
was created a baronet."* Later on, about the time of Oates' plot, suspicion 
fell upon Mr. Humphrey Weld, and in 1679, by the advice of the Lords' 
Committee for investigating matters relating to the late ' horrid conspiracy,' 
he was deprived of the governorship of Portland Castle and his commission of 
the peace, the Privy Council directing that the castle of Lulworth, his 
dwelling in Portland Castle and 'Weld House,' London, should be searched 
for arms."' Since that time the Catholic owners of Lulworth have been 
visited by various sovereigns and members of the royal family, including 
George III and George IV when prince of Wales ;-^° The first Roman 
Catholic church erected in England since the Reformation was built here in 
1794 by express permission of George III.-" 

As regards the state generally of church activity in the archdeaconry 
during the earlier half of the seventeenth century, we may note that an Act 
was passed at the beginning of the reign of James I, for the transference of 
the rectory from Radipole to Melcombe, and the erection of a new parish 
church at the latter place, which was consecrated in 1606 by Dr. Zouch, 
suffragan to the bishop of Bristol."" Reports of the primary visitations 
carried out every three years by the dean of Salisbury in the prebends of the 
cathedral give a few entries of interest. A note in the year 1628 states that 
after the visitation of Sherborne, 14 July, it was ordained 

upon entreaty of the minister and parishioners of Sherborne that for the convenience of the 
minister in going to the pulpitt and the people in hearing that the pulpitt shall be removed 
unto the next pillar of the church westward on that side where now he standith and 
so to be made that the minister may goe out of his seate where he readith prayers into 
the pulpitt, and the seates in the gallery which are so arranged that the faces of the 
people turn from the minister are to be altered so that they may face the minister for the 
better hearing.^^' 

'" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1591-4, p. 521. '^ Foley, op. cit. iii, 472. 

"' Ibid. 540. A member of the Webb family, Agatha, was one of several ladies of birth and 'singular 
virtue ' who accompanied Mary Caryll, of a well-known Catholic family of West Grinstead, as assistant in the 
establishment of a Benedictine monastery at Dunkirk, in 1662. 

^» Ibid. 540, n. 9 ; v, 812. "' Lds. Jourv. 

'™ The celebrated Mrs. Fitzherbert was by her first marriage a Mrs. Weld of Lulworth. 

'*' It is said that George III gave permission for a mausoleum, which would include a church or chapel, but 
the idea of which was less calculated to upset lingering prejudice. 

*«' Handbook for Church Congress at Weymouth, 1905 ; Rev. S. Lambert, T>!otes on Ch. 0/ Weymouth. 

*" Liber Fisit. Decani, 1628. 



In 1635 occurs a name destined to be one of the greatest in the century 
succeeding : John Deane of Lyme Regis was presented ' for refusing to receive 
the communion of Mr. Westley.'^^* Elizabeth Bugler was in 1639 presented 
for breaking the sabbath, 

when summoned the widow confessed that upon the Sunday before Whitsunday 
upon urgent occasion she did for some of her customers grind in her mill at Sherborne 
certayne gristes for which she is heartily sorry .^*' 

For the most part presentments at this time were made for moral offences, 
drunkenness and violence in church, occasionally for non-attendance at church 
or communion ; in 1635, Marian Davies, wife of Jenkin Davies of Sherborne, 
'for striking Ryw Palmers wife in ye church'; ^^^ in 1638, Joanna Kelleway, 
' for not receiving the Communion at Easter last ' ''^ ; Thomas Thomas of 
Alton Pancras was presented ' in that he absented himself from his parish 
church at tyme of divine prayers and hath not received the Sacrament in all his 
life tyme he being of the age of 27 yeares ' ; this last acknowledged his fault, 
humbly submitted himself, and was ordered to frequent the church and receive 
the sacrament the next week.^*^ 

Meantime, in spite of the existence of hotbeds of Catholicism such as we 
have indicated, the tide of public opinion in this county flowed steadily in the 
direction of Puritanism. So strong was the hold it had already obtained 
here, that in 1634 Laud complained that there were Puritans in nearly every 
parish in Dorset.'"' Bishop Skinner of Bristol in an address to the clergy 
at a visitation held by him at Dorchester, 18 September, 1637, proceeds, after 
emphasizing the importance of sound doctrine, to plead the value of ancient 
custom with regard to the practice of kneeling at prayers, the use of the cross 
in baptism, and the observance of set feasts and holidays."" That the general 
desire of a reform in church matters was very strong is shown by the message 
presented by this county to Parliament by word of mouth of Lord Digby in 
the general petition of grievances in 1 640."' The influence of John White, 
appointed to Holy Trinity in 1606, probably had much to do with making 
Dorchester a stronghold of Puritan sentiment."^ The ' Patriarch of Dor- 
chester,' as he was termed, was instrumental in organizing a scheme for 
sending out a colony chiefly composed of Dorset men to settle at New 
Dorchester, Mass. At the beginning of the Long Parliament he took 
the covenant, and succeeded in inducing many of his fellow-townsmen to do 
the same."" He and his friend William Benn, rector of All Saints', who 

'" Liber Visit. Decani, 1635. This would be Bartholomew Wesley, the great-grandfather of the 
revivalist of the eighteenth century. '" Ibid. 1639. ^''Mbid. 1635. "'" Ibid. 1638. 

'^ Ibid. 1669. The Rev. C. H. Mayo has noted in Buckland Neuilon Parish Reg. how church discipline 
was still maintained in the later part of the seventeenth century. On 3 May, 1674, the register records that 
Mr. William Aarnold and Jone Lane were excommunicated in Bucidand church ; on the i6th of the same 
month that Martha Lane, the reputed ' dafter ' of Thomas Trew of Clinger, was baptized ; a few days after, 
on 31 May, ' Thomas Trew bore penance in Church ' (p. 10). Mr. William Arnold was again excommuni- 
cated on 4 Oct. 1685. 

""^ W. Densham and J. Ogle, Congregational Ch. in Dorset, Introd. p. vii. 

''" Speech of Dr. R. Skinner, Lord Bp. of Bristol, at the Visit, at Dorchester (published 1744). 

*" Shaw, Hist. ofCh. of Engl, during the Civil War, i, 9-12. 

"' According to Fuller {IVorthies, i, 340), his influence brought about great reforms in the condition of 
the town. Beginning as a moderate Puritan, his views were probably rendered more extreme by the 
persecution to which he was subjected. He was summoned before the Court of High Commission in 1625, 
to answer respecting certain papers that had been found in his study, but was eventually discharged and his 
informant reproved for ' twattling.' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1635-6, p. 513 ; 1638-9, p. 217. 

"^ Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 375. 



seconded all his efforts to promote the Presbyterian cause in the town, were 
both among the triers deputed to examine the qualifications of candidates for 
the cure of souls under the Commonwealth, and two daughters of Mr. White 
married ministers who were among the ejected in this county at the 
Restoration: John Wesley and Benjamin Way. 

The recent publication of the minute books of the Dorset Standing 
Committee,"^ which came into operation shortly after the issue of the 
ordinance of i July, 1644, affords ample information as to the ecclesiastical 
working of the county during the Commonwealth. The ecclesiastical powers 
vested in the members of this committee enabled them to determine the 
delinquency, scandal, or malignancy of any incumbent, whether he had 
preached against the Parliament or joined the king's army,""' to enforce the use 
of the Directory, and to make appointment of other ministers to serve in the 
cures that had been sequestered, provided their names had been approved by 
those deputed to examine them. Besides these duties they are found ordering 
additions to small stipends, as in the case of the vicar of Abbotsbury,-'^ 
appointing lecturers,"" assigning stipends to schoolmasters,"" directing the pay- 
ment of fifths to which the families of ejected ministers were entitled out of 
sequestered benefices ; in many cases intruded ministers showed great reluc- 
tance to pay and the committee had to resort to threats in order to enforce 
payment. Among these was Bartholomew 'Westleye' of Charmouth, the 
great-grandfather of the revivalist, who in January, 1648, was ordered to pay 
the full fifths of the parsonage, or to show cause why he refused ; the follow- 
ing February came the order, ' whereas it is made known to us that Mr. Nor- 
rington who was outed from the church of Charmouth for scandal hath 
since obtained in the county of Wilts ^^3° P^"" annum for his livelyhood, 
Mr. Westley is released from payment of fifths, as the whole profits of Char- 
mouth only amount to about ^20.'"'' Among smaller matters of detail referred 
to the committee was the official custody of the church key,"*" which at Stoke 
Abbott had been detained by the ' outed ' incumbent."*^ Out of the lands, 
tenements, &c., belonging to any dean and chapter or impropriated personages 
within the county under sequestration, they advised the assignment of certain 
sums in augmentation of the living or the maintenance of a lecture in some 
fifty different parishes, the ministers or lecturers of which should first be 
approved by the committee before the extra payment should be made to them."*" 
On 6 January, 1646, Walter Fry and John Squibb, gent., were appointed 
to receive and distribute their payments out of the rents payable from the 

"* Dorset SlanJ. Com. ed. by C. H. Mayo, 1902. 

'" On 22 Dec. 1642, it was moved in Parliament that in the case of those ministers who had left their 
charges and joi-ned the king's forces the profits of their livings should be sequestered and their names 
presented to ' this House.' Lds. Journ. v, 516. '" Min. Bks. ofDonet ^tand. Com. 78. 

*" Ibid. 67. '"' At Beaminster and Dorchester. Ibid. 29, 85 

"' Ibid. 491, 500-1. W.ilker's account of the fate of this outed minister is that ' he left his wife and Five 
Children as poor as Misery could make them,' and that ' his widow was at length constrained to beg the charity 
of the Corporation for Ministers' Widows by whom she was relieved ' ; Sufferings of the Clerg<i,\\, 318. Other 
intruded ministers who appeared unwilling to pay were John Galping at Durweston, who was admonished in 
1647 and again in 1648, 'on the sad complaint of Mr. Richard Hooke, last incumbent of Durweston in this 
countie on the behalfe of himself his wife and children' {Jilin. Bks. 282, 432) ; James Rawson, of Haselbury 
Bryan (ibid. 304, 438) ; John Salway, of Whitchurch Canonicorum (ibid. 347, 403), who, according to 
Walker {Sufferings of the Clergy, ii, 293), protested ' that hee will rather leave the place than paie any fifths' ; 
John Moulas, at Tarrant G\m\\\\s. {Min. Bks. 374) ; William Hardy at Sturminster Marshall (ibid. 464, 538) ; 
Henry Lamb, at Burton Bradstock (ibid. 522). 

-*» Ibid. 152, 176, 341, 540. '-' Ibid. loi. =" Ibid. 159-60. 



irevenues of the dean and chapter.^^'' The following benefices, or portions of 
benefices, were ordered to be united : — Knighton to Lillington, Beer Hackett 
to Yetminster, Stockwood to Melbury Bubb, Knowlton to Horton, Chilcombe 
to Askerswell, Wraxall to Rampisham, East Holme to East Stoke and the 
three Wareham churches; the inhabitants of the annexed churches were 
admonished to attend the other. Motcombe was ordered to be separated from 
■Gillingham.^"* On 25 December, 1646, we read an order was issued for the 
rebuilding of the town of Beaminster after the fire, to be paid for out of the 
■sequestered estate (amounting to ^^2,000) of Mr. George Penny of Toller, a 

As regards the actual number of sequestrations that took place during 
the Commonwealth and the new regime introduced by the Parliament, they 
•cannot be much under seventy. From the minute books of the committee 
as many as fifty-nine have been extracted, the greater number of which, it has 
been noted, had already occurred when the minute books, commencing in 
August, 1645, began.^"" The names of six more sequestered clergy are also 
given from another source,^" and Walker's list, containing only seventeen 
names, includes three that are not given in either of the other two lists. ^*'*' In 
October, 1646, William Gollop, rector of Stoke Abbott, was declared 'not 
only a delinquent and within the ordinance of sequestration, but allso a 
malignant and a scandalous minister and an enemy ag' the pliam'.'*"^ Another 
entry states: 'the inhabitants of Wareham desire the removall of Thos. 
Whiteroe clerke who now doth officiate in that towne in respect of his 
insufficiency and scandalous lyfe.' ''° On 6 January, i 646-7, an unordained 
person, one Mr. Stapleton, who had been admitted to preach in the church 
of Radipole ' to the great disturbance and hazard of the garrison of Wey- 
mouth and Melcombe Regis,' was inhibited. ^^^ The changes introduced by 
the committee did not, however, meet with universal approval in the county, 
and in sundry places parishioners refused to pay tithes to the newly-appointed 
ministers. At Charlton Marshall such a dispute arose between Mr. John 
Trottle and his flock that three members of the committee, Mr. Chettle, 
Mr. Elias Bond, and Mr. John Squibb, were desired to make inquiry into its 
cause.^^- At Silton the dissatisfaction of the parishioners with the minister for 
whom they had petitioned became so great that the Committee ' finde the 
discontent between them to bee growne soe high as that we conceive the 
sayd Mr. Boles will not be able to doe any good in the way of his ministry 
in that place,' and he was forthwith discharged from officiating there. 
Among the archives of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis a minute book of 
the Corporation, 1644—9, during the period when the town was occupied by 
the Parliamentarians, records, 10 April, 1646, that Robert Saunders, mariner, 
was heard to say ' that Mr. Ince and Mr. Way, the two ministers, were knaves 
both in their preaching, and that the said Mr. Way did preach plaine Popery; 
and that he would justifie to Mr. Ince his face, that he was a knave in his 
preaching, and that he would soundly heare of it, or used words to the like 
effect.' -^* A later entry the same year, however, states that the said Mr. Ince 

'«' Miti. Bb. of Dorset Stand. Com. 1 59-60. "' Ibid. 60, 61, 106, 112, 125, 138, 148, 206. 

■ »»' Ibid. 139-14-0. '"^ Ibid.Introd.pp. xxxvi-xxxviii. =>«' Add. MS. 8845. 

"' Walker, Sufferings of the Clergy, W, passim. '"^ Minute Bks. 58, 59. 

"» IbiJ. 67. "' Ibid. 130. ^" Ibid. 333. 

^' Ibid. 234. »* Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. pt. i, 587. 




' having used his function of a minister in the town as a preacher to the 
garrison almost two yeares,' the mayor, aldermen, bailiffs, and burgesses were 
anxious to secure him as their pastor,"' and to this end sent a petition to- 
Parliament ' to settle some mayntenance on the towne for a minister, nothing 
arising out of the towne (being very poore and populous) but what the people 
please voluntarily to contribute.' A promise of >Ci°° P^f annum 'to be 
settled upon this and Radipole which is but one pastorall charge,' was 
obtained, and the townsmen generally promised to make a contribution 
according to their abilities and to provide a house, but Mr. Ince in the mean- 
time had been negotiating with the parishioners of Donhead in Wiltshire, and 
had promised himself as their minister. The ' souldiery and the townesmen ' 
were very much troubled and discontented upon receiving this news, and 
efforts were made to induce Mr. Ince to break, his promise to the people of 
Donhead. The matter was referred at last to the House of Commons who 
again referred the case to certain members of the Assembly of Divines, but 
their decision is not given. -'^ 

The confidence of the Puritan party in the sincerity of the promises 
contained in the Declaration of Breda, 1660, assuring ' liberty to tender con- 
sciences, and that no man shall be disquieted or called in question for differ- 
ences of opinion in matters of religion which do not disturb the peace of the 
kingdom,' "^ was speedily banished after the Restoration had become an 
accomplished fact. Of the 2,000 ministers — composing about a fifth of the 
entire number — who, in obedience to their consciences on the passing of the 
Act of Uniformity, laid down their offices ^^* some seventy or eighty belonged 
to this county.''^' The very date fixed for the Act in 1662 to come into 
operation (24 August) seems to have been designed with the object of making 
its severity most keenly felt, for it was appointed for a time when a whole 
year's tithe was due but not yet paid.'""^ Many of the ministers thus forcibly 
retired from their cures continued to reside in the places where they had 
officiated until they were driven from their homes by the Five Mile Act, 
holding services where they could in private houses and meeting with much 
persecution. Of these, Calamy notes Thomas Rowe, ejected from Lytchett 
Matravers, ' twice imprisoned with some other ministers tho' not above a 
fortnight either time. On the Five Mile Act he removed to Little Canford 
near Wimborne and preached several times in his own house without any 
persecution or disturbance, the reason of which was supposed to be the great 
number of Papists in those parts who lived under the countenance of a con- 
siderable knight of that religion, for they who were disposed could not for 
shame disturb him and leave them unmolested.''"^ Mr. John Weeks of 
Buckland Newton, for six months twice imprisoned for Nonconformity, 
during his confinement ' preached out of the prison windows to any that were 
disposed to hear him.' '"" Other ejected ministers were Mr. John Hardy of 

''^ This was in November, 1646 ; the previous year on 11 March the authorities of the town sent a 
petition to the Standing Committee stating that ' being deeply affected with the necessity of having an able 
godly preacher of the Word to be settled amongst them, and a sufficient mayntenance for such a minister, doe 
conceive itt their duty to present their petition to that end unto youre high Court of Parliament ' ; ibid. 

"* Ibid. 588-9. "" Clarendon, Hist, of the Rebellion, xvi, 193. 

*" Calamy, Nonconformist Memorial, vol. i, Pref. iii. 

**' Calamy records some 64 or 65 (ibid, ii, 115—76). W. Densham and J. Ogle in an appendix to 
their valuable work Congregational Churches in Dorset (407—15) give a list with some nine more. 

*" Ibid. Introd. x. "" Nonconformist Memorial, ii, 133. '" Continuation, i, 415. 



Symondsbury, who preached in Westminster Abbey on the Day of Thanks- 
giving for the Restoration ; ^^ Mr. Timothy Sacheverel of Tarrant Hinton, 
great-uncle to the famous Doctor Sacheverel of Queen Anne's time/"* 
who, with three other ministers, Mr. Ince, Mr. Hallet of Shaftesbury, and 
Mr. Bampfield, was arrested for preaching publicly, and indicted at the assizes 
7 August, 1663, for 'a riotous and unlawful assembly held at Shaftesbury 
23 July ; ' they were all found guilty and fined 40 marks each.'°^ 

But the most interesting of the sufferers of ' the fatal Bartholomew ' ^"^ 
are the Wesleys, Bartholomew and John, great-grandfather and grandfather 
respectively of the eighteenth-century Reformer. The former, who had been 
' intruded ' by Parliament in the place of Mr. Norrington, ' outed ' minister at 
Charmouth, was in his turn ejected from his cure there. He continued to 
reside at Charmouth until driven away by the passing of the Five Mile Act, 
as his abode lay within two miles of the town.'" The final record of him 
states that ' he lived several years after he was silenced, but the death of his son 
made a very sensible alteration in the father, so that he declined apace and did 
not long survive him.''"' John Wesley, his son, sent in 1658 to preach at 
Winterborne Whitchurch on leaving Oxford, appears to have become early a 
marked man in the county. It was reported to the bishop of Bristol, 
Gilbert Ironside, when visiting the diocese on his appointment in 1661, that 
Mr. Wesley refused to read the Book of Common Prayer after the passing of 
the Act of Uniformity, and the bishop sent for him to question him as to his 
views and the legality of his orders. At the close of an interview, which in 
its real kindness and consideration on the part of the bishop is in marked con- 
trast to the one held by his successor, James Butler, in 1739, with the great 
revivalist,"" Ironside, finding the preacher deaf to all arguments, dismissed 
liim with the words ' I will not meddle with you, and will do you all the good 
I can.''^" But John Wesley was evidently a man to inspire animosity in 
those who differed from him and were not, like Bishop Ironside, able to 
appreciate the rigid honesty and sincerity of purpose that underlay his 
obstinacy. At the instigation, it is said, of some ' persons of Figure ' in the 
neighbourhood, he was seized on the Lord's Day as he was coming out of 
church early in 1662 before the Act had come into effect, carried off to 
Blandford, and committed to prison.'" He was afterwards released, but bound 
over to appear at the assizes, where he triumphantly asserted himself, and 

'"' Continuation, 414. "' Nonconformist Memorial, ii, 157. 

'"^ Continuation, \, 449. 

'* The 24 Aug. was St. Bartholomew's Day, and the date fixed for the Act of Uniformity to take effect is 
often alluded to as ' the second Bartholomew.' 

™' Beal, Biog. Notices of the Wesley Family, 13. ' Forbidden by law,' says Calamy, ' the Nonconformists 
■of the south-west of Dorset stole away to the solitudes of Pinney, and there in a dell between rocks like the 
Covenanters elsewhere they worshipped their God. The place has ever since been known as Whitechapel Rocks.' 
Continuation, i, 429. ™* Ibid. 

'"" The bishop of Bristol in his famous interview with John Wesley charged the Methodists with ' a horrid 
thing, a very horrid thing,' namely, with pretending to extraordinary revelations and gifts of the Holy Spirit 
and concluded by telling the reformer he had no business in the diocese, and advising him ' to go hence. 
Wesley's Works, xiii, 470. 

"° Calamy, Continuation, i, 439. Kennett in his account of the interview says ' the bishop was more civil 
to him (Wesley) than he to the bishop.' A son of Ironside succeeded his father as rector of Long Bredy in 
Dorset ; he is said to have been ejected from his benefice by the Long Parliament, and reduced to the utmost 
poverty ; Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 149. 

'" An entry in the Cal.S.P.Dom. (1660-1, p. 504), under date 5 Feb. 1661, records information laid 
against John Wesley, vicar of Winterborne Whitchurch, ' for diabolically railing in the pulpit against the late 
iing and his posterity, and praising Cromwell.' 



though bound over to appear again ' came joyfully home,' and continued tO' 
preach every Lord's Day till 17 August, when he gave a final address to a 
' weeping auditory ' from Acts xx, 32. On 26 October the place was declared 
vacant and an order given to sequestrate the profits, ' but his people had given 
him w^hat was his due.' Wesley then established himself with his family at 
Melcombe Regis, but the corporation made an order against his settlement 
there, imposing a fine of ^(^20 upon his landlady and 5J. per week upon him. 
These proceedings forced him out of the borough and he went to Bridg- 
water, Ilminster, and Taunton, where he met with great kindness from the 
three denominations of Dissenters, and was almost daily employed in preaching. 
At length a gentleman living at Preston, two or three miles from Melcombe, 
offered him the use of his house as a residence rent free. The offer was- 
accepted ; he removed thither,'^' and his son Samuel, the father of the 
Revivalist, is said to have been born at Preston. But the Five Mile Act 
subsequently drove John Wesley from this refuge. After being concealed 
for some time he ventured to return again to his family, was seized,, 
imprisoned, and finally died before his father."' At Dorchester, always a 
lively centre of Puritan feeling, it was reported at the close of 1664 that 
out of nine Nonconformist ministers four had been lately arrested on 
suspicion of being privy to the plot.'^* Six ministers and seventy others were 
now in prison for Nonconformity, ' the town is most factious and has daily 
conventicles.' '^° 

The proclamation of an Indulgence for Nonconformists in 1672 was 
quickly followed by applications for licences to hold Nonconformist services in 
the following places : Beaminster, Bettiscombe, Bothenwood, Bradford Abbas, 
Bridport, Broadwindsor, Cerne, Dorchester, East Morden, Fordington, Hawk- 
church, Lyme, Marshwood, Milton Abbas, Morden, Motcombe, Over 
Compton, Quarleston Stickland, Stalbridge, Shaftesbury, Stour Provost, Tarrant 
Monkton, Thornhill, Wareham, Weymouth, Wimborne, Winterborne King- 
ston, Winterborne Zelstone, Wootton Fitzpaine ; "^ and a ' thankful address ' 
signed by thirty-eight dissenting ministers in Dorset was presented to the 
king thanking him for his clemency and promising continually to pray for 
' Your Royal Person, familie, Councill and Government as Dutie obligeth us 
your loyal subjects and ministers of the Gospel.' "^ In all the principal towns 
in this county Nonconformity can show an honourable succession of dissenting 
ministers, many dating from the ejection of St. Bartholomew's Day, 1662, 
and subsequent persecutions. ''' 

Before quitting a period which closes with the passing of the Act of 
Toleration in 1689, a word must be said of the Quakers, of whom a consider- 

''- Calamy, Continuation, i, 448. The borough records of Weymouth during 1665-6 record a number of 
people of Melcombe Regis and the neighbourhood convicted of meeting to hold services other than those 
allowed in the liturgy of the Church of England. Most of these meetings appear to have been held in the 
house of Henry Saunders, mariner of Melcombe Regis and Dorothy his wife, the latter being convicted several 
times. For a first offence they were fined, on a second conviction committed to the town gaol ' for the space 
of 3 months and a day.' In all probability John Wesley was present at some of these meetings. Beal, Fathers 
of the Wesley Family, 96—8. 

'" Ibid. Blog. Notices of Wesley Family, 31. 

^" In 1663 it was reported that a rising was daily expected in Somerset and Dorset ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 
1663-4, P- 150- 

^'^ Ibid. 1664-5, p. 130. "« Ibid. i67i-2,p. 664. 

^" Ibid. 527. The Indulgence was withdrawn the following year. 

'" Somerset and Dorset N. and Q. ; Nonconformist Succession In Dorset, vols, i, ii, passim. 



able number were formerly to be found in Dorset."' The sect of the Society 
of Friends, which sprang up towards the middle of the century and to whom 
the term Quaker was first applied in 1650/^" appears to have suffered equally 
under the regime of the Parliament and the Acts passed on the Restoration.*^' 
The tenets of their persuasion, their refusal to pay tithes or to be chargeable 
for the rates and assessments of churches whose worship they disapproved, 
exposed them to much contempt and dislike, while their objection to taking 
an oath in a court of justice or to remove their hats seems to have been 
universally misunderstood. In Dorset, between 1650 and 1660, some fifty-six 
names are recorded of those committed to prison, and sixty-six from 1660 
onwards ; '"^ there is evidence of meeting houses at Bridport, Dorchester, 
Hawkchurch, Sherborne, Evershot, Corfe, South Perrott, Poole. At the 
beginning it must be admitted many convictions were due not only to 
adherence to the above unpopular views, but also to ' speaking to the people 
in the steeple-house,' or ' declaring truth,' &c. Thus 

on 1 6th of the 9th month (1656) Jasper Bett being at the steeple-house in Weymouth 
(Melcombe Regis) when the Priest had clone asked him whether he was a ?ninister of Christ ? 
The Priest answered / am, and went away ; but the People fell violently upon Jasper 
beating and abusing him sorely and then hailed him to prison where he lay several days.'-^ 

As persecutions became severer these officious testimonies to the ' truth ' were 
dropped, offenders were ' set in the stockes,' ^"* several on their way to 
attend meetings were ' whipped and put outside the town under pretence that 
they were vagabonds.' ^~' In 1657 six were committed to gaol for ' uncourtly 
behaviour before the justices,' i.e. refusing to uncover.*^' Quaker meetings 
were always subject to interruption, and those attending them to insult, even 
in the open street.^" An Act was passed in 1661 with special reference to 
their refusal to take an oath,'"' and the following year it is stated there were 
about 200 Quakers imprisoned in Dorset for wearing their hats in court, 
not swearing, and opening their shops on 29 May and 12 June, days appointed 
to be observed as a fast for fine weather. '*-" 

Non-juring at the close of the century seems to have confined itself mostly 
to the Roman Catholics, or ' popish recusants ' as they were still called,^'*" who, 
after the 'Unnatural Rebellion' of 17 15, were obliged to register their names 
and estates. The return furnished of those ' Roman Catholic Nonjurors and 
others in Dorset, who refused to take the oaths to king George ' gives fifty- 

'" In response to an inquiry in the Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries as to Dorset Quaker burial grounds 
a list is there given (i, 1 53) showing their existence at Bridport, Cerne, Corfe, Dorchester, Hawkchurch, 
Lyme Regis, Marnhull, Poole, Ryme Intrinseca, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, and Weymouth. 

^'° The year succeeding the imprisonment of George Fox at Nottingham. 

'*' Besse, Abstract of Sufferings of the Quakers, i, Introd. vi, vii, viii, ix. 

"» Ibid. 530-1 ; ii, 463-4. "3 Ibid, i, 75. '-'' Ibid. 77. 

'« Ibid. "« Ibid. 79. 

'=' Ibid. 80-81. ^'» Ibid, ii, Pref pp. xi-xv. 

*" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1661-2, p. 426. Persecutions did not cease till the passing of the Act of Toleration, 
1689, and members of this sect continued to be presented at the assizes at Dorchester for adherence to their 
opinions. 'A powerful factor,' says Bejse, ' in granting warrants for distresses in 1674 for holding meetings, 
amounting to ^^97 9/. lod. was Justice Culliford, who much transgressed the Bounds of his office in kicking 
Deborah Coleman an innocent woman on her Belly and other parts of her Body and striking her with his Dog- 
whip ' ; Collections of Sufferings of Quakers, i, 1 70. 

"" Oberton's list of clerical and lay non-jurors who refused to take the o.ith of allegiance to William and 
Mary in 1689 and again in I 70 1-2 and 1 7 14, only gives the name of one clergyman in the Bristol diocese 
who can be claimed for Dorset : W. Flud, Fludd, or Flood, vicar of Halstock ; The Nonjurors, 478. 

2 41 6 


eight names, of whom many, like the Arundels, Sir John Webb of Great 
Canford, and Humphrey Weld of Lulworth Castle, are already familiar/'^ 

After the turmoil and struggles of the seventeenth, the eighteenth 
century with its moral and spiritual destitution, its ' colourless indifferentism,' 
comes as a period remarkable chiefly for its stagnation and lack of effort 
generally in the church. '^^ The abuses, pluralism, and non-residence, that 
marked the clergy in the mass, the poverty of the greater number of them, 
the great social difference that showed itself between their different ranks '^^ 
were probably as much present in Dorset, with its rural districts comprising 
many small and ill-paid benefices, as in other parts of the country. From the 
churchwardens' accounts of Ashmore, says the historian of the parish, 

to some extent we can trace the degradation of the church. It was found at three vestry 
meetings held in succession in 1 80 1-2 that the roof of the church was dangerous to 
worshippers, the pulpit and altar rail rotten, that the gallery, the steps into it, and the seats 
both in gallery and body of the church were in need of repair. The Holy Communion, 
it appeared, was celebrated three times a year — Christmas, Easter and Whitsunday — till 
1 79 1, afterwards quarterly for a considerable number of years.'^* 

As regards those flourishing Nonconformist communities that the previous 
century had done so much to establish and organize, though there may have 
been, as has been said, an awakening among them contemporaneous with 
Wesley's great work,''^ it has also been shown what a disintegrating in- 
fluence Arianism had especially in the west of England where it seized on 
the younger and more highly educated generation of ministers.^'* ' Non- 
conformity went into the controversy united and strong,' say the authors of 
the Story of Congregational Churches in Dorset, ' having the adhesion of a large 
number of the most influential and even aristocratic families in the country. 
It came out of it disunited and impoverished.' '" That Nonconformist suc- 
cession in Dorset, to which allusion has been made, in many cases shows the 
manner in which congregations split up and seceded over this controversy. 

As far as the work of John Wesley actually in Dorset is concerned the 
Joi/rna/ shows that, with the exception of Shaftesbury, he visited the county 
where his name was already so familiar but rarely. At Shaftesbury he 
stopped frequently on his way to and from the west. On the first of these 
occasions, recorded in the Journa/, 31 July, 1750, he preached in the evening 
in a house accommodating from four to five hundred people, ' it was soon 
filled from end to end . . . none stirred, none spoke, none smiled, many 
were in tears and many others were filled with joy unspeakable.' ^'^ Return- 
ing from Cornwall Wesley called again at Shaftesbury, and the day after his 

^^' Return transmitted to the Commissioners (printed 1 745). 

''' The bishopric of Bristol — the poorest in England — was throughout the century held in succession by 
men who obviously only accepted it as a stepping-jtone to higher things. Thomas Gooch, 1737-8, stayed so 
short a time 'as never to have visited his diocese.' Joseph Butler accepting the offer of the bishopric in 1738 
could not help remarking that it was ' not very suitable either to the condition of my fortune or the circum- 
stances of my preferment, nor as I should have thought to the recommendation with which I was honoured,' 
referring to the queen's interest {Diet. Nat. Biog. viii, 69). Bishop Newton, 1761-82, 'plaintively' 
enumerates the various preferments he was called on to resign on his promotion to Bristol, 'the prebend of 
Westminster, the precentorship of York, the lectureship of St. George's, Hanover Square, and the genteel 
office of the sub-almoner.' 

'^ Overton, EngL Ch. in Eighteenth Cent. 287. ^' E. W. Watson, Hist, of Parish of Ashmore, 92. 

"' W. Densham and J. Ogle, Congl. Churches in Dorset, Introd. xiv. 

^= Ibid. App. +24-6. *" Ibid. ''^ fount, ii, 167. 



arrival ' preached at noon in the most riotous part of the town where four 
ways met ; but none made any noise or spoke one word while I called the 
wicked to forsake his way.' ^'^^ The civic authorities, however, took alarm, 
and ' after I was set down a constable came and said, " Sir, the mayor dis- 
charges you from preaching in the Borough any more," ' whereupon 
Wesley replied, ' While King George gives me leave to preach I shall not 
ask leave of the mayor of Shaftesbury.' "° Wesley's impressions of the 
town underwent many changes in the years succeeding. In 1755, after 
preaching to ' sleepy ' congregations at Reading, he reported ' a much more 
lively people at Shaftesbury,' '" but on the occasion of a visit, 28 September, 
1766, described the town as ' cold, uncomfortable Shaftesbury . . . spoke 
exceeding strong words.' '''^ The previous 29 August he had opened the new 
chapel here.'*'' In 1 771, stopping at Shaftesbury on his way to Portsmouth 
from Bristol, the 'Journal records ' preached to a numerous congregation but 
wonderfully unconcerned. I scarce know a town in England where so much 
preaching has been to so little purpose.' '** The indifference and coldness of 
which Wesley complained at Shaftesbury may possibly be explained by a 
reference to another town not far removed : Frome, ' dry, barren, uncomfort- 
able place.' '*^ ' In this town,' says Wesley, ' there be such a mixture of men 
of all opinions, Anabaptists, Quakers, Presbyterians, Arians, Antinomians, 
Moravians and what not. If any hold to the truth in the midst of all these 
surely the power must be of God.^*^ His last reference to Shaftesbury, how- 
ever, is more encouraging, 'I preached,' says the yoi^r/7rt/, 15 August, 1785, 
' at Shaftesbury at nine to such a congregation as I had not seen there before. 
I was glad to see among them the gentleman who thirty years ago sent his 
officer to discharge me from preaching in his borough.' '*^ 

The spiritual awakening in the Church, which towards the middle of the 
nineteenth century resulted from the Oxford Movement, dates in Dorset from 
the year 1836, when by an order in council the whole county forming the 
archdeaconry was detached from the diocese of Bristol and became again 
united to that of Salisbury. In such dioceses as Salisbury under Bishops 
Denison, Hamilton and Moberly you trace, says the ecclesiastical historian 
of this period, the peculiar stamp of the Revival in what was done.'*^ The 
charge delivered in 1855 by Bishop Kerr Hamilton in which he outlines the 
changes initiated by his predecessor Bishop Denison, 1837—54, gives some 
idea of the practical work accomplished in the parishes and in the diocese 
at large.'*^ Beginning with confirmation, the late bishop's first care, he says : 

The old custom in this diocese before the present century was, I believe, to confirm only at 
the few places at which visitations were held. This number had been afterwards a little 
increased, but the year in which Bishop Denison began his ministry he formed, with the 
assistance of the archdeacons, a much enlarged scheme for holding 28 confirmations in 
Dorset and 29 in Wilts. At his last tour of confirmations this number was increased 
to 45 in Dorset and to 40 in Wilts, and he also arranged that there should be an annual 
confirmation in the chief towns of that part of the diocese where the general confir- 
mation was not held.^^° 


' Journ. ii, 172. "" Ibid. "' Ibid. 305. '" Ibid, iii, 351. '" Ibid. 217. 

'" Ibid. 451. Another entry records that Wesley preached at Melcombe and Shaftesbury on 15 Sept. 
1779. Ibid, iv, 169. 

^" Ibid, ii, 264. "■ Ibid, iii, 351. '" Ibid, iv, 327. 

"* Overton, The Anglican Revival, 2 1 8. 

"' Charge to the Clergy of Diocese of Salisbury at his primary visitation. '^ Ibid. 13. 



Sixteen years ago (continues the bishop) out of the 556 churches and chapels in the 
diocese there were 2 sermons on Sunday in only 143. There are now 2 sermons or 
lectures in 426, that is to say 214 out of the 298 churches and chapels in Dorset. Of the 
84 churches and chapels in Dorset where there are not 2 services and 2 sermons the 
account is as follows : in 16 parishes where there are 2 churches there is only I service and 
I sermon, in 33 parishes where there is one church there is one sermon, and in 24 only 
one service. In 35 parishes held in plurality there is but one sermon, and in 33 parishes 
similarly circumstanced one service.^^' 

Bishop Kerr Hamilton, 1854-69, threw himself strenuously into the 
work of church building and restoration. The number of churches con- 
secrated during his episcopate amounted to 84, of those restored, to 104.*" 
Under his successor Bishop Moberly, 1869—85, the number of churches 
restored in the diocese reached a figure of 160.^" The nineteenth century 
was prolific in church building ; to take the largest town in Dorset, Wey- 
mouth, no less than five churches have been built within the borough since 
its commencement : St. Mary's church, the foundation stone of which was 
laid in 1 8 1 5 by command of Princess Charlotte of Wales ; Holy Trinity, 
erected 1836 ; St. John's, 1854 ; Christchurch, built in 1874 as a chapel of 
ease to the parish of St. Mary ; St. Paul's of Westham, formerly within 
the parish of Wyke Regis but formed in 1902 into an ecclesiastical parish 
under the name of St. Paul's Weymouth, was opened in 1896.'°* 

In Dorset, as elsewhere, the duty that confronts the Church is not only 
to carry on the work and organization so well begun but to grapple with 
the difficulties presented by the different circumstances that have arisen 
since the earlier part of the last century. That this is well understood may 
be seen from the objects and purposes of the Queen Victoria Clergy Fund, 
to which the Salisbury Diocesan Board has been affiliated since its incorpora- 
tion in 1897, which aims at raising the value of poor benefices, with popula- 
tions of not less than 150, to an income of _^200 per annum, while a move- 
ment has been set on foot in the diocese for the union of small benefices and 
the re-arrangement of neighbouring parishes enabling them to be worked by 
one incumbent.'*^" In this manner it is hoped to meet the difficulties of the 
present agricultural decline, the diminishing number of candidates who offer 
themselves for ordination, and to ensure the fulfilment of the Apostolic injunc- 
tion that they which 'preach the Gospel ' shall also 'live of the Gospel.' 

'^' Charges to the C/ergy of Diocese of Salisbury at his primary visitation, 14, 15. The bishop in 1842 in 
his charge spoke of an improvement in the observance of Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, ' of late almost 
universally neglected ; ' but by the returns made in 1854 Ash Wednesday was still disregarded in 1 1 2 churches 
and chapels in Dorset, and in 133 the Feast of our Lord's Ascension was still not kept. Ibid. 15. As 
regards the practice of morning and evening service daily, Bishop Hamilton, at least in later years, took 
occasion to uphold their being said in prii'ate if not in public according to the directions of the Prayer Book. 
H. P. Liddon, Walter Kerr Hamilton, Bp. of Salisbury : A Sketch, 57. In 185 S there were twenty-six churches 
in the whole diocese where daily services were held, in 1861 there were thirty-nine. 

^'^ Ibid. App. 126. 

'*' Though some smaller works may be included in this list. John Wordsworth, Bp. of Salisbury, Four 
addresses to clergy and churchwardens of diocese of Salisbury at his primary visitation. 

"' Handbook for Church Congress at JVeymouth, 1905 ; Rev. S. Lambert, Notes on Ch. of JVeymouth, 75-81. 

"' Report of the Board to the Diocesan Synod, Salisbury Diocesan Gazette, April, 1906, 67. 


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ecclesustiCjIL divisions of the county 

The conversion of Dorset, as has been already described, was finally accomplished by the 
establishment in 705 of a bishop-stool at Sherborne, the see of which, described roughly as lying 
' west of Selwood,' was carved out of the old Wessex diocese on its partition at the death of Bishop 
Haeddi. For more than three centuries — and in spite of many fluctuations — the head of the diocese 
pertained to this county, but in 1075, following the decree of the Council of London which ordered the 
removal of sees generally to more populous centres, it was transferred to Old Sarum and subsequently 
to Salisbury to the diocese of which Dorset was attached down to the sixteenth century. In 1542 
this county, then forming the archdeaconry of Dorset, was severed from Salisbury and annexed to 
the new see erected at Bristol under which it remained until the year 1836, when by an order in 
council it was again united to the Salisbury diocese. 

The thirteenth-century compilation of church property, known as the Taxation of Pope 
Nicholas IV, gives the five rural deaneries into which the archdeaconry of Dorset was then divided, 
namely, Shaftesbury, Pimperne, Whitchurch, Dorchester, and Bridport, and records the names of 
171 churches besides Wimborne Minster — a deanery in itself — and several dependent chapelries. 
The Survey of 1340, recording the value of the ninth of corn, wool, and lambs which had been 
granted to Edward III, shows a marked increase in churches, which then numbered 218. The f^ahr 
Ecc/esiasticus, which Henry VIII ordered to be taken in 1 535, shows a further increase to 234. 

At the present time no addition has been made to the number of deaneries, but each deanery 
has been subdivided into two, three, or four portions. 

The names of the difiFerent parishes under their several deaneries and portions are as 
follows : — 

Deanery of Bridport 

Jhhotshury Portion : Abbotsbury, Long Bredy with Little Bredy, Cattistock, Chilfrome, Compton 
Abbas or West Compton, Langton Herring, Litton Cheney, Maiden Newton, Portisham, 
Puncknowle, Swyre, Winterborne Abbas with Winterborne Steepleton. 

Bridport Portion : Allington, Askerswell, Bothenhampton, Bradpole with St. Andrew's Chapel, 
Bridport, Burton Bradstock with Shipton Gorge, Chilcombe, Loders, Powerstock with West 
Milton, North Poorton, Rampisham with Wraxall, Symondsbury with Eype and Broad Oak, 
Toller Porcorum, Walditch, Wytherstone. 

Lyme Portion : Bettiscombe, Catherston Leweston, Chardstock St. Andrew, Chardstock All 
Saints, Chideock, Hawkchurch, Lyme Regis, Monkton Wyld, Pilsdon, Thorncombe, Wam- 
brook, Whitchurch Canonicorum with Marshwood and Stanton St. Gabriel, Wootton 

Bearnimter Portion : Beaminster with Trinity Chapel, Broadwindsor with Blackdown and Drimpton 
and Burstock, Cheddington, East Chelborough or Lewcombe with West Chelborough, Cors- 
combe, Halstock, Hooke, Mapperton, Melplash, Netherbury with Solway Ash, South Perrott 
with Mosterton, Stoke Abbott or Abbotstoke, Toller Whelme. 

Deanery of Dorchester 

Dorchester Portion : Bradford Peverell, Broadmayne with West Knighton, Charminster with 
Stratton, Compton Valence, Dorchester St. Peter, Dorchester Holy Trinity with Frome 
Whitfield, Dorchester All Saints, Fordington, West Fordington, Frampton, Frome Vauchurch, 
Moreton, Stafford, Toller Fratrum with Wynford Eagle, Whitcombe, Winterborne Monkton, 
Winterborne St. Martin, Winterborne Came, Woodsford. 

JVeymouth Portion : Bincombe with Broadway, Buckland Ripers, West Chickerell, Fleet, Melcombe 
Regis with Christchurch and Radipole, Osmington, Owermoigne, Portland St. George with 
Southwell St. Andrew, Portland St. John, Portland St. Peter, Preston, Upway, Warmwell 
with Poxwell, Weymouth St. John, Weymouth Holy Trinity, Weymouth St. Paul, Wyke 



Purheck Portion : Branksea, Chaldon Herring, Church Knowle, Coombe Keynes, Corfe Castle, 
East Holme, Kimmeridge, Kingston, Langton Matravers, East Lulworth, West Lulworth, 
Steeple with the Grange Chapel and Tyneham, East Stoke, Studland, Swanage with Herston, 
Winfrith Newburgh with Burton, Worth Matravers, Wool. 

Deanery of Pimperne 

Blandford Portion : Ashmore, Blandford Forum, Chettlc, Farnham, Handley with Gussage 
St. Andrew, Langton Long Blandford, Pimperne, Shapwick, Steepleton Iwerne, Stourpaine, 
Tarrant Crawford, Tarrant Gunville, Tarrant Hinton, Tarrant Keynston, Tarrant Monkton 
with Tarrant Launceston, Tarrant Rushton with Tarrant Rawston. 

Wimborne Portion : Alderholt, Chalbury, Colehill, Cranborne with Boveridge, Long Crichel with 
Crichel Moor, Edmondsham, Gussage All Saints, Gussage St. Michael, Hampreston, Hinton 
Martell, Hinton Parva or Stanbridge, Holt, Horton with Woodlands, West Parley, Pentridge, 
Verwood with West Moors, Wimborne Minster, Wimborne St. John, Wimborne St. Giles, 

Deanery of Shaftesbury 

Shaftesbury Portion : Bourton, Buckhorn Weston, Fifehead Magdalen, Gillingham with East and 
West Stour and Milton, Kington Magna, Marnhull, Motcombc with Enmore Green, 
Shaftesbury St. James, Shaftesbury Holy Trinity with St. Peter, Shaftesbury St. Rumbold or 
Cann, Silton, Stour Provost with Todber. 

Stalbridge Portion : Long Burton with Holnest, Bishop's Caundle, Caundle Marsh, Purse Caundle, 
Stourton Caundle, Folke, Haydon, Holwell, Lydlinch, Stalbridge, Stock Gaylard, North 

Sherborne Portion : Batcombe, Beer Hackett, Bradford Abbas with Clifton Maybank, Castleton, Over 
Compton with Nether Compton, Hermitage, Leigh, Lillington, Melbury Osmond and Stock- 
wood with Melbury Sampford, Oborne, R.yme Intrinseca, Sherborne, Thornford, Yetminster 
with Chetnole. 

Sturminster Newton Portion : Compton Abbas, Fontmell Magna with West Orchard, Hammoon, 
Hanford, Hinton St. Mary, Iwerne Minster, Iwerne Courtney with Farringdon, Manston, 
Melbury Abbas, Child Okeford, Okeford Fitzpaine, East Orchard with Margaret Marsh, 
Sturminster Newton, Sutton Waldron. 

Deanery of Whitchurch 

Bere Regis Portion : AfFpuddle with Turners Puddle, Athelhampton with Burleston, Bere Regis 
with Winterborne Kingston, Cheselbourne, Milborne St. Andrew with Dewlish, Melcombe 
Bingham, Piddlehinton, Piddletrenthide, Puddletown, Stinsford, Tincleton, Tolpuddle. 

Poole Portion : Aimer, Arne, Bloxworth, Branksome All Saints, Branksome St. Clements, Canford 
Magna, Charborough, Corfe Mullen, Hamworthy, Heatherlands, Kinson with Talbot Village, 
Longfleet, Lytchett Matravers, Lytchett Minster, East Morden, Parkstone, Poole St. James, 
Poole St. Paul, Sturminster Marshall, Wareham, Winterborne Anderson, Winterborne 
Tomson, Winterborne Zelstone. 

Cerne Portion : Alton Pancras, Buckland Newton with Plush, Cerne Abbas, Fifehead Neville, 
Frome St. Quintin with Melbury Bubb and Evershot, Godmanstone, Haselbury Bryan, 
Hillfield, Mappowder, Minterne Magna, Nether Cerne, Pulham, Sydling St. Nicholas, 
Up Cerne, Wootton Glanville. 

Mi/ton Portion : Blandford St. Mary, Bryanston with Durweston, Hilton, Ibberton with Belchal- 
well, Milton Abbas, Shillingstone, Spettisbury with Charlton Marshall, Stoke Wake, 
Turnworth, Winterborne Clenston, Winterborne Houghton, Winterborne Stickland, 
Winterborne Whitchurch, Woolland. 




Dorset enjoyed a unique pre-eminence for the number and importance 
of its religious houses founded during the Saxon period. No fewer than nine 
monastic establishments are known to have existed in the county prior to the 
Norman Conquest ; of these the great houses of Sherborne, Shaftesbury, 
Abbotsbury, Cerne, and Milton continued after that epoch to rank as Bene- 
dictine abbeys ; the two abbeys of Cranborne and Horton survived as priories, 
dependent respectively upon the abbeys of Tewkesbury and Sherborne ; the 
famous early nunnery of Wimborne was converted into a college of secular 
canons, while at Wareham, where an early house of nuns is said to have been 
destroyed by the Danes in 876, a small priory sprang up as a cell to the 
Norman abbey of Lire. 

The reformed Benedictines of the order of Cluny had a small priory at 
East Holme, and the Cistercians an abbey at Bindon, both founded before the 
end of the twelfth century. The Cistercians had also a house of nuns of 
much celebrity at Tarrant Kaines ; and it is probable that the ' Camesterne,' 
where, according to the Mappa Mundi^ compiled at the close of the twelfth 
century, certain ' white nuns ' were established, is a corruption of Kaines 

It is remarkable that the canons of the Austin and Premonstratensian ! 
rules, so numerous elsewhere, had no foundations within this county, unless 
perhaps the obscure ' priory ' or ' chantry ' of Wilcheswood in Langton Wallis 
belonged to the canons regular. It seems, however, more probable that 
Wilcheswood should be considered as a small collegiate church, of which 
class the other example in Dorset was Wimborne Minster. 

The Templars were unrepresented, but the Knights Hospitallers had a 
preceptory at Friar Mayne. The Dominican Friars are mentioned at Gil- 
lingham in 1267; their other settlement, at Melcombe Regis, was of far 
greater importance, and is remarkable as being the last house of the order 
established in England. The Franciscans settled at Dorchester, and the 
Carmelites had a short-lived settlement at Bridport. During the fourteenth 
century unsuccessful attempts appear to have been made to introduce Car- 
melites at Lyme, and Austin Friars at Sherborne. A remarkable ' priory 

' Gervase of Cant. Op. Hist. (Rolls Sen), ii, 422. On the other hand, it has been suggested 
(Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 289) that this was a settlement at VVinterborne Came. Leland's statement that 
.the nuns were Benedictines (Jtin. viii (2), 62) is presumably a slip, as the latter wore black. 



hermitage ' at Blackmoor, although stated to have been under the rule of 
St. Augustine, does not seem to have belonged to the Austin ' Friars Hermits,' 
nor yet to have become a house of Austin canons, as was sometimes the fate 
of such hermitages. 

Some twelve hospitals are known to have existed in this county, but 
they were mostly small, and some were apparently unendowed lazar-houses. 

A considerable amount of property was held in Dorset by alien houses, 
and in five or six cases the parent house established a cell or small priory 
upon its estates. These instances were at Frampton (the abbey of St. Stephen 
of Caen), Loders (St. Mary of Montebourg), Spettisbury (the abbey of 
Preaux), Wareham (the abbey of Lire), and possibly Povington (the abbey 
of Bee Hellouin). The latter is only called a priory in 1467, more than 
fifty years after it had been separated from the Norman abbey, and it is 
probable that it was never more than a grange or estate managed by the 
abbey's chief English cell, the priory of Ogbourne. In the same way the 
lands given by Roger de Beaumont in Stour Provost to the nuns of St. Leger 
of Preaux, and those in the neighbourhood of Winterborne Wast bestowed 
upon the Cluniac priory ' de Vasto,' near Boulogne, were never the site of any 
cell and priory. At Muckleford, which estate was granted with the advow- 
son of Bradford Peverell to the Norman abbey of Tiron," a cell was said to 
have been established,' but it is clear that the estate was really under the 
control of the abbey's cell of Andwell in Hampshire.* Similarly, the sup- 
posed cell of the Carthusian priory of Sheen at Shapwick ' was clearly no 
more than a grange. 


I THE ABBEY OF ABBOTSBURY In the above account we have the name of the 

founder of Abbotsbury as generally accepted : 

Coker states in his Survey of the Countte of ' Sir Ore ' or Ore, Orcus, Orcy or Urce, steward 

Dorset, quoting the register of the monastery, un- of the palace of King Canute and Tola or Thola 

fortunately destroyed with the mansion-house of his wife. The date of their foundation however 

the Strangeways at Abbotsbury in the civil wars varies with different historians. Reyner, in his 

of Charles I, that here history of the Benedictine order in England, 

..... • ■ r • r.".L • .- •.• . gives the year 1026,* Tanner states that about 

was built in the verie mfancie of Chnstianitie amongst ^ r^ ^ • ■ ■, ■ r i 

the Britains a church to St. Peter by Bertufus an ;°26 Orcus instituted a society of secuar canons 

holie priest unto whom the same saint had often ap- ^ere which he or Tola his widow changed to 

peared and amongst other things gave him a charter » monastery of the Benedictine order in the 

written with his owne Hande, reign of Edward the Confessor ' Again, accord- 
ing to Coker, the monastery was built by Orcus 

professing therein ' to have consecrated the church in 1044 and ' stored ' with Benedictine monks 

himself and to have given it to Name Abodes- from the abbey of Cerne.* It would seem from 

byry.' Afterwards the rules drawn up by Orcus for his gild or 

King Canute gave to Sir Ore his Houscarle this Maternity of St Peter at Abbotsbury' that a 

Abotsbury as alsoe Portshara and Helton ; all which society existed here previously which was later 

the said Ore and Dame Thole his wife having no issue converted into a monastic establishment, 

gave unto the church of St. Peter at Abotsbury, longe , , 

before built but then decayed and forsaken by reason , ^M'l^l' Benedict. T.^ct n, sec. v,, m. 3. 

the Rovers from the sea often infested it.' , /"""^ (^^- ' 74+). Donet, 105 Orcus the steward 

01 King Canute having expelled secular canons in- 

' Ca/. Doc. France, 358. troJuced monks. He was buried here with Thola 

' Hutchins, Hijt. of Dorset, ii, 536. his wife. Leland, Collect, iii, 254. 

* Arch. Journ. ix, 250. ' Surv. of Dorset (1732), 30. 

' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 166. ' Dugdale, Mon. (Charters under Abbotsbury,. 

' Particular Surv. of the Ccurtie of Dorset (1732), 30. No. iii), iii, 35. 



Canute by charter dated 1024 bestowed Por- 
tisham on his servant Orcus.^ Tola or Thola, 
the wife of Orcus, and a native of Rouen, Nor- 
mandy, purchased Tolpuddle, and with her 
husband gave it to the monks together with 
Abbotsbury, Portisham, Hilton and 'Anstic.'' 
Edward the Confessor by one charter gave to 
Orcus, who was his housecari as he had been 
Canute's, the shore in all his lands and all wrecks 
of the same,* and by another charter notified Her- 
man the bishop and Harold the earl that he had 
granted a licence to Tola the widow of Orcus 
to bequeath all her land and goods to the 
monastery of St. Peter of Abbotsbury, accord- 
ing to an agreement that on the death of 
husband and wife their possessions should pass 
to the house, of which the king now declared 
himself the guardian and protector.' William 
the Conqueror testified by his charter to the 
same bisiiop and Hugh Fitz Grip, the Norman 
sheriff, that, for the love of God and the soul 
of his kinsman King Edward, he had granted to 
the abbot and brethren of Abbotsbury their land 
as fr-;e and quit as it was held in the time of 
his predecessor together with the right of soc, 
sac, tol, team, infangnetheof and wreck of the 
sea, and he desired the abbey should lose nothing 
unjustly but should be honourably treated.'" 

In the Domesday Survey the abbey held the 
following manors : Abbotsbury, Tolpuddle, 
Hilton, Portisham, Shilvinghampton, Wootton 
Abbas, Bourton and Stoke Atram. The monks 
complained at the same time that a hide belong- 
ing to the manor of Abbotsbury, which had been 
assigned to their living in the time of Edward the 
Confessor, had been unjustly reft from them by 
the Norman sheriff Hugh Fitz Grip, and that his 
widow had taken six ; in the same manner they had 
been deprived of a virgate of land in Portisham. ^^ 
In a letter to the king about his assessment in 
the year 1 166 Abbot Geoffrey deposed that 
Roger the bishop when he had the custody of 
the abbey gave to Nicholas de Meriet 2 hides 
of land at Stoke Atram for the marriage of a 
niece, the deed being contrary to the wish of 
the convent.'^ 

By an inquisition before the king's escheator 
John le Moyne, and Andrew Wake sheriff of 
Dorset, at Uggscombe, Wednesday before the 
Feast of St. Simon and St.Jude (28 Oct.), 1268, 
as to the rights and privileges of the abbey, it 
was declared that the abbot and his predecessors 
had all liberties and free customs with soc, sac, 
tol, team and infangnetheof within their lands 
in the hundred of Uggscombe but not in their 

* Dugdale, Mon. (No. ii), iii, 55. 

' Ibid. (No. i), iii, 54. « Ibid. (No. iv), iii, 36. 

" Ibid. (No. v) ; Kemble, Codex Dipt, iv, 841. 
'» By inspex. Ch.irt. R. 8 Edw. II, No. 5. 
" Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 78. 
" Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 2 1 1. William 
of Malmesbury records {Gesia Regum [Rolls Ser,], ii, 

2 49 

other lands at Hilton, Tolpuddle, * Oth,' and 
Wootton Abbas ' which last is in the hundred of 
Whitchurch,' that they were free of the suit 
of that hundred by grant of Robert de Mande- 
vile, formerly lord of the hundred, except that 
their villeins were bound to come thrice a year to 
la lagh-day to present the pleas of the crown with- 
out hindrance. The abbot and his predecessors 
were discharged from all military service to the 
king by the service of one knight;'' wreck of 
the sea was said always to have belonged to 
them, and they had always enjoyed it. The 
jury further declared that the abbey had acquired 
grants of land in the following places : Cran- 
ston, Wytherstone, ' Deneham,' ' Poeyeto,' Bex- 
ington, Shipton, Poorton, East and West 
Chaldon, Morebath, Wraxall, Winterborne 
Steepleton, Wareham, Upway, Broadway, Lang- 
ton, Bridport, Dorchester, ' Brigge,' Preston in co. 
Somerset, and Hornington." Henry III by charter 
dated 15 November, 1269, inspected and con- 
firmed the charters previously granted to the abbey 
by his predecessors the kings of England, William 
the Conqueror, Henry I, Stephen, and Henry II, 
with all privileges and gifts.'* The convent 
obtained from the king two years later a grant 
enabling them to hold a weekly market and yearly 
fair in their manor of Hilton.'^ Edward I gave 
them leave to hold a market at Abbotsbury." 
Edward II in 13 1 5 confirmed anew their right 
to wreck of the sea in connexion with a whale 
{crassus piscis) cast up on the coast.'* Edward III 
confirmed their right of free warren over their 
lands at Abbotsbury, Portisham, Granston, 
Wootton Abbas, Wytherstone, Hilton, Tol- 
puddle, Ramsbury (Dorset), and Holwell (Som- 
erset." Edward IV in the first year of his 
reign, 1 46 1, made a grrnt to the abbot and 
convent of St. Peter's, Abbotsbury, of the hun- 
dred of Uggscombe, with view of frankpledge 
and all issues pertaining thereto, rendering the 
true yearly value at the exchequer."" 

According to the Taxatio of 1 29 1 the spiri- 
tualities of the abbey amounted to j^i3 gs. ^.d.^ 

559) that Bishop Roger appropriated Abbotsbury to 
the bishopric so far as he was able. 

'^ The abbot was returned for the service of one 
knight's fee under Henry II {Red Bk. of the Exch. [Rolls 
^e.r.\ passim), Richard I, John, Henry III (Pat. I Hen. 
Ill, m. 8), and Edward I (Close, 16 Edw. I, m. 3). 

" Chan. Inq. p.m. 53 Hen. Ill, No. 40. 

" The original of this charter according to Hut- 
chins, who cites it {Hist, of Dorset, ii, 733), was inj 
the possession of the earl of Ilchester, 1867. 

'" Chart. R. 56 Hen. Ill, m. 3. 

" Ibid. 9 Edw. I, No. 55. 

" Chart. R. 8 Edw. Ill, No. 5 ; Pat. 8 Edw. If, 
pt. 2, m. 6, 19 a'. In 1388 the owner of a cargo com- 
plained that his merchandise had been seized by the 
abbot and others as though it had been wreck, although 
thirteen of the crew had escaped. Ibid, i 2 Ric. II, 
pt. I, m. II ^. " Chart. R. 10 Edw. Ill, No. 41. 

'"Pat. I Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 19. 


including ^\1 from the church of Tolpuddle 
assigned to the pittance of the monks; their 
temporahties were valued at ;^8i lOi. lod. in 
the deanery of Bridport including ^31 7/. id. 
from Abbotsbury with ' Luk ' and Langton, 
j^3 If. from the deanery of Dorchester, 
^^36 7^. td. from the deanery of Whitchurch 
and ;^i 6j. %d. from the deanery of Shaftesbury, 
the whole income of the convent being assessed 

at ;Ci35 15^- \^^^ 

At the beginning of the thirteenth century, 
the abbey in common with other ecclesiastical 
appointments was kept vacant by John who, in the 
meantime, enjoyed the proceeds or bestowed them 
on his followers. We read that in April, 1212, 
the king presented to the church of Hilton, the 
abbey being void and in his hands. "^ The 
January following, the custody of the house was 
granted during pleasure to Roger de Preauton ; 
it was not until 15 July, 1213, that an order 
was directed to the prior and convent to send 
certain men out of their number whom they 
should choose to the king for an abbot to be 
appointed."'' A few days later the custodians of 
the abbeys of Abbotsbury, Milton and Sherborne 
were notified that the king had sent to them 
eighteen cart-horses and seven sick palfreys, and 
that all charges both for them and the men 
accompanying them should be accounted for at 
the exchequer."'' 

Abbotsbury escaped none of the burdens in- 
cidental to a religious house of any importance 
and under the royal patronage. In 1244 Henry 
Lombard was sent to the abbot and convent 
with a request that they would find him the 
necessaries of life in their house.^' Edward II 
in 1309 sent Norman Beaufiz to receive main- 
tenance, and a robe or 20i. yearly.-^ During the 
period of the Scotch wars the abbey received the 
usual requests for aid, and a little later for shelter for 
disabled warriors."' William Spyney, crossbow- 
man, was transferred here in January, 1 317 ; "' 
William Deyvill was sent in August, 1331, to 
receive such maintenance as Norman Beaufiz, 
deceased, had had ; "' and six years later a re- 
quest was made that the abbot and convent 
would give maintenance to John de Sancto 
Albano.^" It is evident that demands of this 
kind were not welcomed by the different re- 
ligious houses. On 20 April, 1 339, the abbey 
of Abbotsbury was ordered to receive and pro- 
vide maintenance for two hostages of the town of 

" Pope Nkh. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 183-5. 
" Pat. 13 John, m. 3. 
" Close, 14 John, m. 3 ; 15 John, m. 7. 
" Ibid. m. 4. 

" Ibid. 22 Edw. I, m. 11 d. 
'" Ibid. 2 Edw. II, m. 13 a'. 

" Ibid. 3 Edw. II, m. sd.; S Edw. Ill, m. 5 </. ; 
Par/. flYtts (Rec. Com.), iii, div. ii, 430. 
-* Close, 10 Edw. II, m. 15 (j*. 
"Ibid. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. i,m.6d. 
'» Ibid. 1 1 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. zj d. 

Berwick-on-Tweed to be sent to them from the 
abbey of Glastonbury,'^ and on 6 October of the 
same year they were ordered to transfer them to the 
abbey of Tavistock.'" The monks of Tavistock 
appear to have flatly declined to receive the hos- 
tages,'' who consequently remained at Abbotsbury. 
On 3 December orders were issued for their re- 
moval to the priory of Bruton ; '* on 16 Jan- 
uary next, 1340, to the abbey of St. Augus- 
tine, Bristol ; '° on 15 February the abbot and 
convent of Chertsey were ordered to receive these 
unwelcome guests ; '° the abbot and convent 
of Shrewsbury received a similar order the fol- 
lowing day." 

Nor did this exhaust the calls made upon the 
house ; the community who enjoyed the royal 
patronage were required on the creation of an 
abbot to grant a pension to a clerk of the king's 
appointment, and in December, 132 1, following 
the election of Peter de Sherborne, we read that 
the pension was claimed by John Bellymont, 
king's clerk ; '^ in 1324, on the election of 
William Fauconer, Peter de Mount Toure ob- 
tained letters entitling him to the same ; '^ and 
in 1344, on the election of Walter de Saunford, 
the abbot was ordered to grant the customary 
pension to Jordan de Cantuaria.^" These vari- 
ous grants and liveries were still claimed in 
the succeeding century. Thomas Ryngwode 
in 1400 was sent to the convent to receive 
such sustenance as Thomas Stanes deceased, 
had had,''^ and a corrody in the monastery 
was granted in 15 1 7 to Robert Penne, gentle- 
man of the Chapel Royal vice Edward Jones 

The abbey was frequently chosen as a place of 
burial, and for the foundation of chantries. A 
licence was granted in 1323 to Robert le Bret 
for the alienation of certain lands in Holwell to 
the abbot and convent for the provision of a 
chaplain to celebrate daily in the abbey church 
for the soul of Richard le Bret, the father of the 
founder, for the souls of his ancestors, and all the 
faithful departed ; '" and in 1392, on payment 
of j^20 by the monks, Robert, vicar of Portis- 
ham, and others were licensed to alienate two 
messuages in Dorchester, &:c., for the provision 
of a monk chaplain who should celebrate daily at 
the altar of St. Andrew in the abbey for the good 
estate of Elizabeth, late the wife of John Mau- 

" Ibid. 13 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 12. 

'•' Ihid. pt. 2, m. 9 d. 

'' Ibid. pt. 3, m. 26.2'. 

" Ibid. m. i6</. 

" Ibid. m. 9. 

'° Ibid. 14 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 43. 

"Ibid. 35. 

'' Ibid. 15 Edw. II, m. zi d. 

'' Ibid. 17 Edw. II, m. 19^. 

*" Ibid. 18 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 29^. 

*' Cal. of Pat. 1399-1401, p. 359. 

"Z,. and P. Hen. VI H, i, 3101. 

" Pat. 16 Edw. II, pt. i,m. 1. 



travers, knt., for her soul after death, and that of 
her husband, for the maintenance of their anni- 
versary, and for certain other charges and works 
of piety .''■' The Clopton chantry, founded by 
Sir Walter Clopton, was valued at the time of 
its suppression at io8s. 4*/." The Strangeways 
chantry was founded in 1 505 in the chapel of 
St. Mary within the abbey, the abbot by a tri- 
partite deed between himself and the convent of 
the one part, William abbot of Milton of the 
other part, and Thomas Strangeways, executor 
of Alianor, late the wife of Thomas Strangeways, 
senior, of the third part, engaging in return for 
certain benefactions to provide a chaplain to cele- 
brate daily for the good estate of Henry VII and 
Edmund, bishop of Salisbury, &c., and for the 
souls of the said Alianor and Thomas Strange- 
ways and their friends and ancestors.^^ This 
does not exhaust the number of those who made 
considerable bequests to the community in order 
to receive the benefit of their prayers. 

The poverty which befel Abbotsbury in the 
fourteenth century, though largely due to its 
situation — exposed on the one hand to the 
attack of invaders, and eaten up on the other 
by the forces sent to defend the coast — was at 
the same time greatly fostered by the bad govern- 
ment of one of the abbots, Walter de Stokes 
(1348-54).*' The attention of the bishop was 
drawn to the house during his rule, and on 29 
October, 1353, he wrote to the abbot and 
convent that since visiting their monastery 
' for various causes ' and being at considerable 
pains to reform what he had found amiss, it had 
come to his ears that against ' good obedience ' 
the community had deliberately spurned his 
orders to the danger of souls and the scandal of 
the neighbourhood ; he therefore summoned 
them to appear before him or his official in the 
chapter-house of their abbey on Monday, after the 
feast of St. Martin the Bishop (11 November) to 
answer for their conduct.^* A letter from 
Edward III to the bishop soon followed, stating 
that he had committed the custody of the goods 
of the house, which, owing to the defective rule 
of the abbot, were insufficient to maintain the 

" Pat. 16 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 79. 

" Chant. Cert. 16 (Dorset), Nos. 45-64. Thomas 
Jenkyns is here given as the last incumbent. 

" Dugdale, Mon. iii, 58, No. 12. A copy of this 
deed may be seen in Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 

" He succeeded to Walter de Saunford, who pro- 
probably fell a victim to the plague in 1348. The 
episcopal registers record that in December of that 
year the abbot and vicar of Abbotsbury were both dead. 
Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, pt. 2, fol. 192. 

" Ibid. pt. I, fol. 167. In his inability to attend 
personally to the matter, the bishop wrote to two 
canons of Salisbury and commissioned them, with 
John de Wyley, rector of S., to correct the mis- 
deeds of the brethren, and see his decrees carried out ; 
ibid. fol. 166 d. 

community or to meet its debts, to Robert de 
Faryngdon, prior, and Henry de Tolre, monk, 
Walter Waleys, clerk, Thomas Carey, and John 
de Mautravers.*^ This arrangement was not 
destined to run as smoothly as might have been 
desired. Among the collection of Ancient 
Petitions is a letter addressed by the abbot, whose 
bad rule had caused him to be set aside, to the 
archbishop of York, in which, complaining bit- 
terly of his treatment at the hands of the above 
custodians, he states that they had withdrawn 
from him all the privileges to which he was 
entitled — his accustomed chamber, competent 
board and clothing, the services of a squire, two 
chamberlains and two grooms to attend to his 
horses — so that, 'insufficiently clad' {indecenterves- 
W«j) and with his shoes ' enormously in holes' 
{enorrniter infracth) he had been compelled to 
proceed more than 18 miles on foot in order to 
execute his business.'" The prior and other 
custodians had also their tale of complaints. 
According to them, the abbot had declined to 
fall in with the arrangements made for the whole 
community to lodge in one convenient house 
until the debt on the abbey, amounting to ;^534, 
had been wiped off ; he omitted to attend the 
offices, would not come to the refectory, required 
all his meals to be served at his own convenience 
in his own chamber, and was spending money in 
divers parts of the county, heaping up debts and 
obligations which the house was wholly unable 
to meet ; at the same time the seal of the abbey 
had been stolen by his adherents, and affixed to 
various deeds and grants prejudicial to the monas- 
tery." These complaints were not groundless, 
as was found by an inquisition held on 25 
March, 1354, to inquire as to the lands and 
rents illegally alienated ; the jury reported that 
among various grants by the abbot before the 
custody had been taken out of his hands was one 
for a corrody and a robe for which he had received 
^^20 ; he was also said to keep hunting dogs, to 
have retained an excessive number of servants, 
and retainers, and to be in the habit of giving 
unnecessary presents ; the injury he had thus done 
to the house being estimated at ^£85 5 lOJ. id}'' 
Fortunately for the community the abbot's career 
was cut short by death the same year. The follow- 
ing year the church of Winterborne St. Martin 
was appropriated to the monastery ; '^ in 1 36 1 the 
church of Toller Porcorum was annexed on 
account of poverty, and the charges incurred 
by the reception of numerous guests.'* In 
1386 Pope Urban VI, in reply to a petition 
from the abbot and convent representing their 
house, which was situated on the coast, as 

" Ibid. 

'° Anct. Petitions, 10470. 

" Ibid. 1047 1-2-3-4. 

" Ibid. 10475. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, pt. I, fol. 241. 

" Ibid. fol. 242. 



frequently invaded by Spaniards, Normans, and 
Bretons, and eaten up by the defenders of the 
kingdom, so that unless help could be afforded it 
must be destroyed and divine services cease, re- 
quested the bishop of Salisbury to appropriate the 
church of Tolpuddle to the uses of the breth- 
ren.'* The convent in 1390 obtained from 
Boniface IX a grant appropriating anew the 
parish churches of Abbotsbury, Portisham, Win- 
terborne St. Martin, Toller Porcorum, and Tol- 
puddle, ' of which the first two were of old and 
the next 3 over 40 years ago incorporated by au- 
thority of the ordinary, and the last 2 by papal 
authority.' Their revenues, after deducting 
vicars' portions, came to 400 marks, the revenues 
of the monastery being 500, and 14 marks were 
to be assigned to each vicar. ^^ 

With the exception of the appointment of 
abbots, references to Abbotsbury in the fifteenth 
century are rare." VVe have the decrees pub- 
lished by Bishop Chandler after visiting the 
abbey in 1436. The community were warned 
generally against making grants rashly, and 
greater formality in their drawing up was en- 
joined. The abbot was directed, 'as wine and 
women cause men to err,' not to buy more wine 
than was absolutely necessary for the use of the 
monastery ; he was to be permitted to have 
sweet wine for his table and the entertainment 
of his guests ' in small and minute vessels ' (vasis) ; 
the entrance of women was prohibited, the 
abbot, if convicted on the evidence of two 
witnesses, should be suspended for a month ; 
the brethren were forbidden to resort to a cer- 
tain chamber for the purpose of 'confabula- 

The notorious Dr. Legh appears to have 
visited this house on the eve of the Dissolution, 
for in a letter headed ' Thos. Legh, visitor of 
Abbotsbury,' he appoints a certain Vincent to be 
prior in the house, and desires tiie inmates to be 
attentive and obedient to him.^^ Thomas Brad- 
ford occurs, however, as prior in the surrender 
deed of the house. 

In the Fa/or of 1535 the spiritualities of the 
abbey were returned at £i\.^ gs. ^d- from the 
churches of Tolpuddle, Portisham, Abbotsbury, 
Winterborne St. Martin, and Toller Porcorum*'"; 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum,fol. 81,82. Richard II 
licensed the appropriation on account of expenses 
connected with the defence of the coast ; Pat. 9 
Ric. II, pt. I, m. 19. 

'° Cal. Pap. Letters, iv, 342 ; v, 77. 

'" With the exception also of bequests and references 
in wills. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Chandler, fol. 6j d. Unfor- 
tunately no report can be found of the visitations 
ordered in 1488 and I 503. 

''■' Cott. MS. Cleop. iv, 57. The letter is inscribed 
on the back. 'To the abbot of Abbotsbury, or in his 
absence to Dom Vincent.' 

«° Valor EccL (Rec. Com.), i, 277-8. 

the temporalities were valued at ;^356 6j. "jd.^^ 
making a total income of £^\o\ 15J. \od. It 
would seem, from the list of anniversaries kept 
by the monks, that the community were faithful 
in the observance of one of their main duties, the 
obligation to commemorate for the souls of their 
founders and benefactors.^^ 

A curious document, cited by Hutchins in 
full,*' brings certain charges against the last abbot 
of Abbotsbury, Roger Roddon, elected in 1534." 
Headed 'of the monasterye of Abbotsburye and 
of the saide Abbate thereof, of the mysse-usynge 
of hymselfe,' it runs, ' whereas he doth breke the 
kyng's foundacons and the injuncyonsof the same,' 
and proceeds to denounce the superior for non- 
observance of the conditions on which the 
monastery had received land from benefactors ; 
for wasting and wrongfully selling woods ; for 
making away with jewels and plate out of the 
treasur)' of the value of which no record has been 
kept ; 

also that he hath an abhomynable rule wyth kepyng 
of wymen nott wyth i, ii or iii but wyth manie more 
. . . and no relegon he kepyth nor bye day nether 
bye nyghte. 

Unfortunately we have no information as to the 
veracity of the writer *^ who signs himself ' Dan. 
Will. Grey, Muncke of Abbatsburie.' He is 
included in the list of those who received pen- 
sions on the surrender of the abbey, 12 March, 
1539 ; the abbot who surrendered with the prior 
and eight brethren receiving a pension of ;^8o ; 
the prior, Thomas Bradford, ^^9 ; Thomas Tol- 
puddle, j^7 ; six other brethren, among whose 
names are entered William Grey and John 
Vynsant, j^6 to ^^5 each ; Thomas Holnest, 

The site of the abbey was afterwards granted 
to Sir Giles Strangewa}S, knt., by Henry VIII.*" 

*' Ibid. 228-30. 

''" On 2 April, 22/. \d. was distributed to the poor of 
Abbotsbury for the souls of Thomas Strangeways and 
Alianor or Eleanor his wife (ibid. 227) ; on 6 July 
and 7 Sept. 2 \s. ^J. for the souls of Henry Russell and 
Alice his wife (ibid. 223) ; 6/. 8t/. on the feast of the 
Eleven Thousand Virgins for the souls of Walter 
Clopton and Joan his wife (ibid. 229) ; on 16 June, 
9/. id. for the soul of John Mautravers ; on 26 May, 
7/. zd. for the soul of John Cary (ibid. 229-30) ; on 
1 2 March, Ss. Sd. for the soul of Robert Bylsay ; a 
pension in the abbey and certain doles were assigned 
in commemoration for the souls of ' Orke and Thole 
his wife,' the original founders. 

'^ Ibid. Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 720. 

" L. and P. Hen. Fill, vii, 1607 (21). 

" In many cases of this kind close examination 
has tended to destroy much of the value of ac- 
cusations levelled against superiors by discontented 
monks. See ' Religious Houses,' V.C.H. Worcs. ii, 

"'' L. and P. Hen. Fill, xiv (l), 506. 

" Dugdale, Man. iii, 60. 



Abbots of Abbotsbury 

William tempo Henry ii ^* 

Geoffrey occurs about 1 166 *' 

Roger occurs 1201 ™ 

Hugh occurs 1204-5" 

Hugh occurs 1238'" 

Roger de Brideton elected 1246'' 

John de Hilton elected 1257 "■• died 1284 

Philip de Sherborne elected 1284 " died 

William de Kingston elected 1297 '^ but his 

election quashed by the bishop 
Benedict de Loders appointed 1297'' died 

Ralph de Sherborne elected 1320'^ died 132 1 
Peter de Sherborne elected 1321 '^ died 1324 
William de Faukener or Fauconer elected 

1324^ died 1343 
Walter de Saunford or Samford elected 1343*' 

died 1348 probably of the plague 
Walter de Stokes elected 1348*'- died 1354 
Henry Tolre elected 1354"' 
Henry de Thorpe died 1376** 
William Cerne elected 1376*^ died 1401 
Robert Bylsay elected 1401 ^^ died 1426 
Richard Percy elected 1426^' resigned 1442 
Edward Watton elected 1442 ** died 1452 
William Wuller elected 1452'' died 1468 
Hugh Dorchester elected 1468^" died 1496 
John Abbotsbury elected 1496 ^' 
John Portesham elected 1505'" 
Roger Roddon elected 1534 surrendered 


'' Geoffrey who succeeded him speaks of William, his 
predecessor, in a charter. Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls 
Sen), i, 211. 

" Ibid. " Pedes Fin. (Hunter), ii, 78-81. 

" Inapatent roll of Edward II, Hugh is given as abbot 
in the sixth year of King John. Pat. 8 Edw. II, pt. 2, 
m. 6 d. The abbey was vacant in 1212 and 1213. 
Ibid. 13 John, m. 3 ; 14 John, m. 3. 

" As witness to an agreement between the bishop of 
Salisbury and abbot of Sherborne. Reg. Rubrum, fol. 
158. " Pat. 30 Hen. Ill, m. 7. 

'* Ibid. 42 Hen. Ill, m. I. 

" Ibid. 12 Edw. I, m. 11. 

'' Ibid. 25 Edw. I, m. 20. 

" Close 25 Edw. I, m. 12. 

'' Pat. 1 3 Edw. II, m. 7 ; Sarum Epis. Reg. 
:Simon of Ghent, pt. 2, fol. 182. 

"Pat. 14 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 21. 

'"Ibid. 17 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 2. 

«' Ibid. 17 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 6. 

*' Ibid. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 14. 

«' Ibid. 28 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 13. 

^* Ibid. 50 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 5. 

*' Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, fol. 8. 

^ Pat. 3 Hen. IV, pt. I, m. 23. 

«' Ibid. 5 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 19. 

** Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough, fol. 12. 

'^ Ibid. Beauchamp. pt. 2, fol. 22. 

*'Ibid. pt. 2 (Inst.), fol. 116. 

'' Ibid. Blyth, fol. 91. ■'■' Ibid. fol. Hi d. 

^ L. and P. Hen. Vlll, vii, 1607 (21) ; xiv, 506. 

A round eleventh-century seal attached to the 
surrender deed of the abbey, the impression of 
which is fragmentary, represents one of the 
fronts of the abbey church with porch and side 
towers. At base is an arcade of round-headed 
arches. The legend is destroyed. ^^ 

The seal of Abbot Walter [1353] represents 
in a quatrefoiled panel St. Catherine with a 
wheel, the abbot kneeling before her.'* The 
legend is very defective. 


The Benedictine abbey of Cerne was, tradi- 
tionally, founded by the first apostle of the 
English, St. Augustine, who, according to 
William of Malmesbury, having converted Kent 
to the faith of Christ proceeded to penetrate into 
the rest of the English provinces over which the 
rule of King Ethelbert extended, that is to say 
over the whole of England with the exception of 
Northumbria, and coming to these parts met 
with great rudeness from the inhabitants of the 
country who fastening derisively the tails of cows' 
to the garments of the evangelist and his 
companions drove them away. Whereupon the 
holy man perceiving the change that should 
rapidly take place in the minds of the people and 
' patiently and modestly rejoicing to bear reproach 
for the name of Christ' cried to his companions 
' Cerno Deum qui et nobis retribuet gratiam et 
furentibus illis emendationem infundet animam ' 
(I see God who shall give us grace and impart 
to these deluded people a change of heart). The 
prophecy was not long of fulfilment, the people 
repenting of what they had done approached St. 
Augustine desiring to be reconciled, and he, attri- 
buting this change to God, gave to the place 
the name of Cernel, compounded from the 
Hebrew word Hel or El God and the Latin 
Cerno. Soon after the inhabitants became con- 
verted to the new faith and water being required 
to baptize them a fountain sprang out of the 
ground at the word of Augustine.- 

In succeeding times, continues the chronicler, 
Edwold, brother to Edmund, king of the East 

" Deeds of Surrender, No. I. 

'^ B.M. Seals, Ixii, 22. 

' This is the translation of caudas racharum given 
by Hutchins {Hist, of Dorset, iv, 18), Fuller, who 
repeats the story, calls them fishes' tails, Church Hist, i, 

' This obviously mythical account of the origin of 
Cerne by William of Malmesbury [Gesta Pontif (Rolls 
Ser.), 184-5) '^ subsequently repeated by Capgravein 
his life of St. Augustine, by Reyner, and again 
by Camden. See Coker, Particular Survey of Dorset 
(1732) 65, 66. From the account given by the 
thirteenth-century chronicler, Walter of Coventry, it 
would seem that Helith was the name of the primi- 
tive deity of these parts whose worship was destroyed 
by St. Augustine. Op. (Rolls Ser.) i, 60 ; Leland, 
Collect, i, 285 ; ii, 252. 



Anglians, retiring from the world on the death 
of his brother at the hands of the Danes, lived the 
life of a hermit at St. Augustine's well ' called 
the silver well' at Cerne, where he died.' So 
great was the respect felt for his memory that 
in later times the abbey appears under his pat- 
ronage as well as that of the Blessed Virgin and 
St. Peter.^ After his death Ailmer or ^Ethelmar, 
generally styled earl or duke of Cornwall, trans- 
lated the relics of Edwold with the assistance of 
Dunstan to the old church of Cerne ' where now 
the parish church is ' and built or rebuilt the 
monastery which he dedicated to the honour 
of St. Peter.* The foundation was begun in 
the reign of Edgar according to Leland and 
completed in the year 987. 

In his foundation charter of that year 
.^thelmar (or Ailmer) son of jElward, nobleman 
of king iEthelred, notifies to Archbishop Dunstan 
and Bishop iElfheah of Winchester that he has 
given to God and the monks there the place 
which is called Cernel in honour of the Blessed 
Virgin, St. Peter and St. Benedict, for his dear 
master king jEthelred, for himself and the 
redemption of his ancestors ; he has granted 
to them also 6 cassates of land in Minterne, 10 
manses at Winterborne, 6 at Bredy, 12 in the 
further Bredy, 3 in Rentscombe ; Leofric, clerk of 
Poxwell, has added to the donation the vill of 
Poxwell which was confirmed by grant of king 
jEthelred ; jElfrith a relative of iEthelmar at 
Bincombe has given 4cassates of land at Aflfpuddle, 
Alfwold gave 5 manses at Bloxworth ; after the 
death of his wife the founder further bestowed 
on the monaster)' tithes of his yearly rent in 
Cerne and Cheselbourne together with tithes of 
honey, cheese and fat hogs in his other lands and 
desired that the monks should observe the rule of 
St. Benedict and should choose whatever secular 
patron they pleased.^ 

Canute is said to have plundered this monastery 
when he wasted the town but afterwards he 
became a considerable benefactor to it.' The 
abbey had added largely to its endowment at 
the time the Domesday Survey was taken ; the 
church of St. Peter was then returned as holding 
land in the following places : Cerne, Little 
Puddle, Radipole, Bloxworth, AflFpuddle, Poxwell, 
East Woodsford, HeiHeton, 'Vergroth,' Little 
Bredy, Winterborne, Long Bredy, Nettlecombe, 
Milton, Kimmeridge, Rentscombe and Symonds- 

' Will, of Malmesbury, op. cit. ; Leland, Collect. 
iii, 67. 

* R}mer, Foedera, xiv, 637. 

' Leland, CoUect. iii, 67. The founder's name 
appears under various forms, Leland calls him Ailmer, 
Egelward (ibid, i, 26), and ^"Ehvard (i, 285). Previous 
to his foundation there is said to have been a sm.iU 
monastery here of three monks. Ibid, iii, 67 ; Tanner, 
Notitia, Dorset, viii. 

'Cart. Antiq. W. 16. 

" Leland, Collect, i, 66 ; iii, 67. Coker, Particular 
Sun', of Dorset, 65. 

bury ; * the total, amounting to 113 hides and 
3 virgates, was valued at ^^115, leaving 
out AiFpuddle, the assessment of which was 
omitted. The widow of Hugh Fitz Grip, the 
Norman sheriff", held, we are told, I carucate in 
Poxwell formerly belonging to the demesne of 
the monks. 

In 1 1 56 the abbot of Cerne was returned as- 
holding by the service of three knights.' Robert 
the abbot in 1 1 66 notified the king the knights' 
fees of his church and the knights who held them. 
Amongst these may be noted Robert Russell 
who held a knight's fee, less one virgate, unjustly 
and against the will of the convent because neither 
his grandfather nor his father held it of the 
church nor should hold it. In the demesne of 
the church were three and a half knights' fees in 
the vill of Cerne with freehold tenure {cum 
tenura Francolemium). Each one of these ought 
to keep ward at the king's command at Corfe 
Castle one month in the year, or, if it should 
please the king to have them in the army^ 
two knights should be found for his service 
in the absence of ward {interim dismissa vjardia.y^ 
The abbot of Cerne as a knight of the shire 
was summoned to Parliament in 13 15 and 
to attend the Great Council at Westminster 
in 1324." 

The income of the abbey in the Taxatio of 
1291 was assessed zt £ij'j 8s., including spirit- 
ualities amounting to ^^13 ijs. j^d. from the 
churches of Radipole, Poxwell, Hawkchurch, 
Symondsbury, Long Bredy with the chapel of 
Little Bredy, and Powerstock,'- and temporalities 
valued at 1^164 ox. id, within the deaneries of 
Bridport, Dorchester and Whitchurch.^' The 
clear annual income of the monks in the 
Falor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 was declared at 
;C575 ^V- ioJ(^.," when they held the par- 
sonages of Cerne, Kimmeridge, Affpuddle, and 
Hermitage,'* the manors of Cerne, Hawkchurch, 
Milton, Symondsbury, Maiden Newton, Mapper- 
combe with Nettlecombe, Little Bredy, Long 
Bredy, Winterborne, Nether Cerne, Minterne^ 
Middlemarsh, Bloxworth, Poxwell, AfFpuddle, 
and Milborne St. Andrew, with parcels of land 
in various other manors and parishes.'^ 

The history of the abbey is perhaps the least 
eventful of any of the Dorset houses with the 
exception of that of the sisters at Tarrant Kaines j 

» Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), 77 J. 78. 

' Red Bk. of the E.xch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 15. 

'"Ibid, i, 212. 

" Pari. M'rits (Rec. Com.), ii, div. iii, 653. 

" Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 179, 180, 182. 

" Ibid. 183, 1S4. 

" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 257. 

"Ibid. 253. 

'* Ibid. 253-6. These manors are returned as 
being in the poisession of the monks at the date the 
Valor ws.'i taken. The Monasticon (ii, 622) gives a list 
of lands and manors held by them at different times 
extracted from Hutchins' Hist, of Dorset. 



the period between the two great assessments of 
church property is almost entirely filled in with 
the record of fresh grants and privileges added to 
those the house already enjoyed, varied with the 
usual charges and demands made on houses of 
the royal patronage. Henry II by a charter 
undated granted to the monks wreck in all their 
lands by the sea, and rights of ' helium ' ' polam ' 
and ' forum ' (market) in the vill of Cerne, with 
all their liberties to their knights and free-tenants, 
and their services, doing service of two knights 
for scutage and of one knight on an expedition.^' 
John in 1 2 13 ordered Hugh de Neville to grant 
the abbot seisin of his wood pertaining to the 
manor of Bloxworth of which he had previously 
been disseised by the king.'* Henry III, who 
was at the abbey 11 January 1223,'' signified his 
assent on 12 February, 1230, to the election of 
Richard prior of Abbotsbury as abbot ; the 
appointment of a superior being relegated to 
the election of the said prior, the sub-prior and 
sacrist or any two of them."° An inquiry was 
instituted in 1275 into the complaint of the abbot 
that whereas the charters of Henry II and 
Henry III, inspected and confirmed by the present 
king, entitled him to wreck of the sea on the 
coast of his lands in Brownsea and Rentscombe 
as enjoyed by his predecessors, two tuns of wine 
cast upon his lands had been seized by the con- 
stable of Corfe Castle and conveyed to the castle; -' 
as a result of the inquisition Edward I the fol- 
lowing year confirmed the abbot's claim and 
ordered the constable to return the tuns in ques- 
tion or make due reparation."- In October of 
the same year the convent received a grant of 
protection to last a year." Edward II in 1 3 18 
granted a licence for the monks to acquire lands 
and rents to the yearly value of jT^ 1 0, in part satis- 
faction of which they obtained 5 messuages, 30 
acres of land and a moiety of an acre of meadow 
in Cerne, and added to that another five messu- 
ages and land in Cerne and Middlemarsh and ten 
acres of land in Wootton by Bridport.^* In the 
same year they obtained a charter of free warren 
over their lands in Cerne, Minterne, Middlemarsh, 
Winterborne, Little Bredy, Poxwell, Bloxworth, 
Symondsbury, Wootton, Hawkchurch, Brownsea, 
Mappercombe, Nettlecombe, Milton, and Long 
Bredy &c."' From Edward III the brethren 
secured a licence enabling them to acquire further 
lands in Estyep by Symondsbury, Wootton and 

" Harl. MS. 6748, fol. 7. 

" Close, 1 5 John, m. 9. 

" Close, 7 Hen. Ill, m. 22. 

'° Close, 4 Hen. Ill, m. 15. 

" Pat. 3 Edw. I, m. 24 d. 

" Close, 4 Edw. I, m. 3 ; 5 Edw. I, m. 7. 

" Pat. 4 Edw. I, m. 9. 

" Pat. II Edw. II, pt. I, m. 6 ; pt. 2, m. 6. 

'* Chart. R. 11 Edw. II, No. 34. A few years 
later another charter with right of free warren in their 
manor of Symondsbury was accorded. Ibid. 19 
Edw. II, No. 13. 

Bloxworth.-^ On the death of Abbot John de 
Hayle, who died at the close of 1382 after holding 
office for only six months, the king made over to 
the prior and convent the custody of the tempor- 
alities of the house, retaining only the knights' 
fees and advowsons, for the payment of ^zo at 
the exchequer for the first five weeks or part of 
the same, and afterwards at the rate of ^4 a 
week.-' Richard II on payment of a fine in 1392 
gave a licence for the alienation in mortmain by 
William Batecombe and Edward Stykelane of 
one messuage, &c., and 55. rent in Frome St. Quin- 
tin and Milborne St. Andrew to the abbot and 
convent in aid of their maintenance and for the 
support of certain charges.-''' Two years later 
by another licence Richard Chideock and Joan 
his wife were permitted to make over certain 
lands in Symondsbury, not held in chief, to the 
brethren to support the charges of the fabric of 
their church.-'' The monks took the precaution 
of obtaining from Henry IV, Henry VI and 
Edward IV inspection and confirmation of the 
letters patent of Richard II confirming their pre- 
vious charters.^^' On 10 August, 147 1, Edward IV 
issued a general pardon to the abbot for all offences 
committed by him previous to 6 August and for 
all alienations and acquisitions of land made 
without the king's licence.'' Henry VIII in 
1 5 13 made over to the abbey the free chapel 
called ' le Hermytage ' of Blackmoor, Dorset. '- 

The charges on the abbey included the usual 
requests for aid in the Scotch war,^' and later on 
for loans in the war with France.^^ In the 
general distribution of pensioners among the 
religious houses during the wars Hugh Cade was 
allotted to Cerne Abbey in 1315 ; ''^ the follow- 
ing year John de Kent was sent to receive the 
allowance which John Hawayt had had.'" Peter 
Polter, or Pulter, was sent by Edward III to 
the abbey in 1338 in the place of Thomas de 

'° Pat. 4 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 35. 

" Ibid. 6 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 29. The grant was 
confirmed later by Henry IV. Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 3, 
m. 32. 

" Ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 26. 

^' Ibid. 18 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 3. 

'" Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 3, m. 32 ; 5 Hen. VI, pt. 
2, m. 12, 13, 21 ; Edw. IV, pt. i,m. 7. 

" Ibid. II Edw. IV, pt. I, m. 12. His offence 
may have consisted in acquiring the temporalities of 
the house on his election by licence of the late king, 
Henry VI (Ibid. m. 6), but there is also a tradition 
which this pardon rather confirms that Margaret of 
Anjou was entertained at the abbey and held a coun- 
cil there before the battle of Tewkesbury. She cer- 
tainly landed in this county. Hutchins, Hht. of 
Dorset, iv, 29. 

"L. and P. Hen. V1U,\, 3853. 

^' Close, 3 Edw. II, m. 5 d, ced. ; 8 Edw. Ill, 
m. 5 d. 

^* Pat. 2 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 27-8. 

" Close, 9 Edw. II, m. zy d. 

=" Ibid. 10 Edw. II, m. 24. 



la Garderobe, deceased,^' and in his turn was 
succeeded by John Serle in 1347.'* In accord- 
ance with the usual custom in connexion with 
• houses of the royal patronage the Close Rolls 
record the appointment of a clerk to receive 
a pension in 1312 on the election of a new 
abbot/' and again in the year 1324.'"' In the 
reign of Henry VIII William Bonde, yeo- 
man of the guard, in 1337 received a grant of 
a corrody in the monastery void by the death 
of Richard March.*^ The contribution by the 
abbey to the grant raised by the spirituality in 
aid of the expenses incurred by Henry VIII ' in 
recovering the crown of France ' is set down at 

Many of the grants to the abbey were made 
with the object of founding chantries and estab- 
lishing anniversaries for the benefit of the 
grantors. In 1335 William de Whitefield gave 
his manor of Milborne Michelstone to the abbot 
and convent for the provision of two chaplains 
to celebrate daily in the abbey church for 
his soul and the souls of his ancestors and 

Roger Manyngford and John his son in 
1382 obtained from Richard II a licence per- 
mitting them to grant the convent the advowson 
of the church and, on the death of the chaplain, 
the reversion of the manor of Stoke by Bindon 
for daily celebration for the good estate of the 
said Roger while living, and for his soul after 
death, and the souls of his wives, children and 
ancestors, and for the performance of other 
works of charity.** Edward IV in 1482 per- 
mitted the appropriation of a third part of the 
manor of Maiden Newton to the monastery for 
the sustenance of a chaplain to celebrate daily at 
the altar of St. John Baptist for the good estate 
of the king and Elizabeth his consort.*" Among 
the few references to this abbey in the episcopal 
registers may be found the record of the estab- 
lishment of the Stafford chantry by an indenture 
dated Trinity Sunday, 1403, between the abbot 
and Humphrey Stafford, knt., whereby, in return 
for the grant of the manor of Milborne St. 
Andrew, the convent agreed to provide a chap- 
lain to celebrate a daily mass to be called ' the 
Stafford masse ' at the altar of Holy Cross in 

" Close, 12 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 32 a'. 

'* Ibid. 21 Edw. Ill, pt. I, in. 231/. 

'Mbid. 6 Edw. II, m. 26^. 

" Ibid. 17 Edw. II, m. ii</. 

" L. and P. Hen. Fill, xii (2), 1008 (24). The 
Falor of 1535 estimates this corrody or pension in 
the gift of the crown ' in the name of the janitor or 
warden of the gate of the monastery ' at 66a ^d. 
There was another corrody or pension also at the 
king's disposal valued at 66/. 8^. Falor Eccl. (Rec. 
Com.), i, 256. 

« L. and P. Hen. Fill, ili, 2483. 

" Pat. 9 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. lb. 

*' Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 16. 

" Ibid. 21 Edw. I\', pt. I, m. 8. 

the nave of the church or of St. Michael near,** 
for the good estate of the said Humphrey and 
Elizabeth his wife, and for their souls after death, 
together with the soul of the abbot, and of 
various other members of the Stafford family, 
who, it was stipulated, should be admitted as 
participants in all the spiritual benefits of the 
house, vigils, sacraments, almsgiving, and in the 
masses of the monks. An anniversary was to 
be fixed on which certain doles and distributions 
should be made, and a poor man or bedemarj 
yearly appointed whose special duty it was to be 
present at the founders' mass, and to pray con- 
tinually for their souls, in return for which he 
should receive the sum of 1 71. ^d. yearly, and 
five yards of cloth for a gown." In the Falor 
of 1535 the charges on the monastery in- 
clude the sum of 46?. id. in a yearly distri- 
bution to the poor on 14 December for the 
soul of Ailmer, ' sometime duke of Cornwall, 
founder of the monastery ; ' 66s. 2id. assigned 
for the provision of food, clothing, beds and 
other necessaries in the abbey for two poor 
men for the soul of the said founder, and a 
weekly distribution of bread and ale to thirteen 
poor men ' called freers ' at a yearly cost of 
£1 1 5/. 4^.*^ The total annual expenditure of 
the house under the head of almsgiving and in 
commemoration of the souls of founders and 
benefactors came to ;^34 6x. 3^.*' 

Articles containing charges of a serious 
character were brought up on the eve of the 
dissolution against the last abbot, Thomas Cotton, 
wherein he was denounced (i) for gross immo- 
rality, (2) for letting the church and abbey lands 
go to ruin, (3) for wasting the goods of the house 
on his mistresses and natural children, and 
bestowing gifts out of the conventual funds or» 
the former on their marriage." William Christ- 
church, monk of the house, came forward also 
with complaints that the abbot did not maintain 
constituted obits and doles, and permitted some 
of his monks to be proprietors, that he allowed 
two of them ' who daily haunt queans ' to cele- 
brate mass without confession, to play at dice 
and cards all night and celebrate in the morn- 

" Hutchins cites an MS. 'in the public library at 
Cambridge,' which gives the dedication of various 
altars in the abbey church. In 1311 an altar in the 
abbot's chapel was dedicated in honour of St. Stephen 
and St. Katharine by an Irish bishop of Annadown 
{Enachdunensis), who granted an indulgence of 20 
d.iys to those who should visit it. The same bishop 
dedicated the chapel of the infirmary in honour of 
the Virgin, St. Margaret, andSt. Apollonia, and granted 
an indulgence of 30 days. In 1318 the bishop of 
Salisbury dedicated the high altar in honour of the 
Virgin and St. Peter with a similar grant of 40 days' 
indulgence. Hist, of Dorset, iv, 20. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Campegio, fol. ult. 

*" Falor EccL (Rec. Com.), i, 256. 

''Ibid. 257. 

"" L. and P. Hen. Fill, viii, 148. 



ing ; women, it was alleged, were allowed freely 
into the abbey. In addition * Dan Will Christ- 
church' had his tale of personal injuries torecount; 
he had been imprisoned by the abbot for his ill- 
speaking, dismissed from the monastery, and the 
prior of Monmouth had been given twenty nobles 
to receive him in his priory where he had been 
very ill-handled.*^ It would be rash to accept 
these statements without more reliable evidence, 
but they were sufficient to draw down on the 
abbey the officials of the High Commissioner, 
and abbot and monks were forbidden to go out- 
side the bounds of the monastery. Great incon- 
venience naturally resulted, and on 2 September, 
1535, a letter was written to Cromwell request- 
ing in the interests of the house that the abbot 
might hsve liberty to ride abroad to attend to 
the affairs of his monastery 'as you have allowed 
the abbot of Sherborne,' adding, ' the abbot 
sends you his fee of 5 marks sterling.' *^ 

The King's Commissioners were instructed 
to induce superiors to surrender their houses 
promptly and willingly in the hope of securing 
liberal treatment for themselves. In December, 
1538, Sir Thomas Arundel wrote to Cromwell 
that the abbot of Cerne, in spite of persuasion, 
was making efforts to obtain the continuance 
of his house, and with that object in view was 
prepared to offer ' His Majesty' 500 marks and 
'your lordship ' ^100.*' The doom of the house 
could not be averted, however, and on 15 March 
following (1539) the abbot, with the prior and 
fifteen of his brethren surrendered the abbey to 
the king in the person of John Tregonwell, the 
commissioner,'* the abbot subsequently receiving 
a pension of ^Tioo, the prior ;^io, one brother 
j^8, another ^7, the sub-prior and nine of the 
inmates sums ranging from ^b 131. ^d. to 
^^5 65. 8i^., and three remaining brethren 40J. 

Abbots of Cerne 

^Ifric, appointed about 987, on the re- 
foundation of Cerne as a Benedictine 
monastery '^ 

Alfric Puttoc, occurs 1023" 

Withelmus, occurs 1085 '' 

Haimo, deposed ii02 for simony*' 

" L. and P. Hen. VIU, viii, 148. 

" Ibid, ix, 256. '' Ibid, xiii (2), 1090. 

*' Among the fifteen two are entered as students. 
Ibid, xiv (1), 523. 

■'' Ibid. 

'•^ This was the author of the Homilies, who began 
as a monk of Abingdon, was successively abbot of 
Cerne and St. Albans, and fin.illy archbishop of Can- 

" Dugdale and Hutchins give this without 

" Hutchins cites this from the Annals of Lanercost, 
Hist, (if Dorset, iv, 22. 

"^ W.ilter of Coventry, Op. (Rolls Ser.), i, 121. 

William, occurs 1 1 2 1 ^ 

Bernard, became abbot of Burton in 1 160 " 

Robert, occurs 1166*- 

Dionysius, occurs 1206,^' resigned 1220 

R., elected 1220 " 

William de Hungerford, elected 1232 ** 

Richard de Suwell or Sawel, elected 1244,** 

died 1260 
Philip, elected 1260'' 
Thomas de Ebblesbury, elected 1274 ^* 
Gilbert de Minterne, elected 1296,^' died 

Ralph de Cerne, elected 1312,'" died 

Richard de Osmington, elected 1324'^ 
Stephen Sherrard, elected 1356 '^ 
Thomas Sewale, elected 1361,'^ died 1382 
John de Hayle, elected 1382,^* died in same 

Robert Symondsbury, elected 1382'* 
John Wede, elected 1411,'^ died 1427 
John Winterborne, elected 1427,'' died 1436 
John Godmanston, elected 1436,"* died 145 I 
William Cattistoke, elected 145 1,'' died 

John Helyer, elected 1454,*" resigned 1458 
John Vanne, elected 1458,'^ died 1471 
Roger Bemyster, elected 1471,*^ died 1497 
Thomas Sam, elected 1497,^^ '^'^'^ 1509 
Robert Westbury, elected 1510,"^ died 

Thomas Corton, elected 1524,*' surrendered 

his abbey 1539 

'" He was a witness to the foundation charter of 
Plympton Priory (Devon). Dugdale, Mon. vi, 21. 

" He is said to have then been a monk at Glouces- 
ter, and to have previously quitted Cerne on account 
of the great disorders of the house. Ann. Mon. (Rolls 
Ser.), i, 187. 

" Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 2 1 2. 

^' Pat. 7 John, m. 5. 

" Ibid. 4 Hen. Ill, m. 6. 

" Ibid. 16 Hen. Ill, m. 7. 

"^ Ibid. 28 Hen. Ill, m. 7. 

" Ibid. 44 Hen. II, m. i. 

'' Ibid. 3 Edw. I, m. 36. 

" Ibid. 25 Edw. I, pt. I, m. 15^. 

'" Ibid. 6 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 8 ; Sarum Epis. Reg. 
Simon of Ghent, pt. 2, fol. 1 21. 

" Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 19. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, fol. 103<j'; Pat. 30. 
Edw. Ill, pt. 3. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 294. 

'* Pat. 6 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 35. 

' Ibid. pt. 2, m. 22. 

"Ibid. 12 Hen. IV, pt. I. 

" Ibid. 5 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 16. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 23. " Ibid.. 

'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Beauchamp, ii, fol. 23. 

" Pat. 37 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. 12. 

«= Pat. 49 Hen. VI. 

'^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Langton, fol. 99. 

^ L. and P. Hen. Fill, i, 822. 

«= Ibid, iv, 436. 



A thirteenth-century round seal with very 
fine but imperfect impression represents the 
west front of the church, with elaborate details 
of early English architecture. On the foliated 
crockets of the roof on the left side there is a 
small bird, on the right the corresponding bird 
has been broken off. In base under two round- 
headed arches of masonry are two half-length 
figures of the founders, St. Augustine and 
iEthelmar, with their hands uplifted to support 
the church above therh. On each side behind 
them a cinquefoil, that on the right broken 
away. The legend is wanting.*"" 

An example of the above seal with very im- 
perfect impression is to be found attached to the 
surrender deed of the abbey.*' 

The abbot's seal of the fifteenth century, 
pointed oval, with fine but imperfect impression, 
shows in three canopied niches full-length 
figures of the Virgin crowned, with the Child in 
her right hand, and a sceptre fleur-de-lis in her 
left hand, St. Catherine with crown, nimbus and 
wheel on the left, and St. Margaret with crown 
on the right standing on a dragon and piercing 
his head. In base under a round-headed arch 
the abbot, half-length, with mitre and staff, 
praying. On the masonry at the sides two 
shields of arms ; on the left a lion rampant 
within a border bezanty ; the right a cross 
engrailed between four lily-flowers slipped, 
Cerne Abbey.'''* Legend defective : — 



The signet of Abbot Roger Bemyster is at- 
tached to a deed dated 1475, of which only an 
indistinct fragment remains representing a ram 
or goat with the legend [r]oger[us].*' 


The Benedictine abbey of Milton or Middle- 
ton was built in the year 933 ^ by King jEthelstan 
for the soul of his brother Edwin, or, as some his- 
torians aver, to expiate the crime of a brother's 
murder," the king, in his foundation charter, 

« B.M. Seals, Ixii, 30. 

" Deeds of Surrender, No. 52. 

«' B.M. Seals, Ixii, 31. '" Harl. Chart. 44 B. 48. 
' Tanner, Notitta, Dorset, xviii. The tenth year 
of King jEthelstan is the date generally accepted, 
and it agrees with the date of the death of Prince 
Edwin. Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 85 ; Sim. 
of Durham, Oj>. (Tvvysden), p. I 54. Dugdale quotes 
an account of the foundation from a register of 
I the abbey, no longer in existence, which states that 
the house was built in the tenth year of .(Ethelstan's 
reign, which began in 824 {Mon., Chart, of Milton, 
No. 3, vol. ii, 348). This is palpably a mistake, as 
is also the date given in the foundation charter. 
Birch, Cart. Sax., ii, 452-3. 

■ According to the account given in the above- 
mentioned register ^thelstan, upon false suggestions 
that Edwin was concerting a plot against him, caused 

testifying (without reference to the above inci- 
dent) that for an endowment he had granted 
for the good of his soul, and the souls of 
his successors, the kings of England, to God, 
St. Mary, St. Sampson, and St. Branwalader 
the following lands : — 26 hides at Milborne, 5 
at Woolland, 3 at Fromemouthe, viz. : 2 in 
an island and one at Ore (Ower), 3 hides at 
Clyffe with a meadow, 3^ at Lyscombe, i at 
Burleston, i at Little Puddle, 5 at Cattistock, 
6 at Compton Abbas, 2 at Whitcombe, 5 at 
Osmington, 6 at Hoi worth — in all 67 hides; a 
weir on the Avon at Twyneham (co. Hants), 
all the water within the shore at Weymouth 
and half the stream out to sea, 12 acres of land 
for the support of the weir and the person in 
charge of it, and 3 thaynes in Sussex and a 
saltern by the weir, 30 hides of land at Sydling 
for the maintenance of the monks, 2 at Chel- 
mington, 6 at Hillfield, and 10 at Ercecombe 
(Stockland).^ The king further bestowed rich 
gifts on the abbey wherein he buried the body 
of his mother, together with numerous relics 
procured from Rome and Brittany, including the 
arm and bones of St. Sampson, archbishop of 
Dol, and the arm of St. Branwalader the 
bishop.^ In the reform of monasticism under 
Edgar and Dunstan the secular priests here were 
replaced in 964 by monks under an abbot, 

At the time of the Domesday Survey besides 
twelve acres of land in Hampshire, held of the 
abbey by the sheriff Edward,^ the church of 
Milton had manors or estates in the following 
places : — Sydling, Milton, Compton Abbas, 
Cattistock, Puddle, Clyffe, Osmington, Whit- 
combe, Lyscombe, Woolland, Winterborne, 
Hillfield — the rent of which was £2 and a 
sextary of honey — ' Ora ' (Ower), Stockland — 

the prince to put out to sea in an open boat with a 
single attendant. The prince in despair threw him- 
self overboard and was drowned, his squire with great 
difficulty managed to swim to shore at Whitsand with 
his body. The king repenting of his deed is said to 
have confined himself seven years at the monastery 
of Landport (Somerset) as a penance, and to have 
founded the two abbeys of Michelney and Milton. 
Dugdale, Moti., Chart, of Milton, No. 2, ii, 34S ; 
Will, of Malmes. Gesla Regum (Rolls Sen), i, 156 ;, Coll., ii, 252 ; iii, 71 ; Stowe MS., 104.6, 
fol. 24. 

^ Birch, Cart. Sax., ii, 452-3. The version given 
by Kemble {Coii. DipL, ii, 245) omits the grant of 
the ' water at Weymouth,' but it is included in what 
is called the Middle English version of the same 
charter (v, 235), though left out in the confirma- 
tion charter of Henry I. Dugdale, Mon., Chart, of 
Milton, No. 7, ii, 350. 

■■ Ibid. Chart, of Milton, No. 5, ii, 349 ; Will, of 
Malmes., Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 186, 400-1 ; 
Leland, Coll., iii, 71. 

' Ibid, ii, 186; iii, 72. Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls 
Ser.), 94. 

'^ Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 43^. 



which belonged to the demesne of the monks, 
and was assigned towards the expenses of their 
living and clothing — and Piddletrenthide/ 
Henry I, reciting the charter of i^Lthelstan, king 
of England, the founder, confirmed to the 
abbey of Milton and the monks serving God 
there their possessions therein enumerated with 
all liberties, free customs and acquittances, the 
right of soc, sac, tol, team, and infangnetheof, 
waif, assize of bread and ale, gallows, pillory, 
and all other appurtenances.* From Henry III 
the abbot and convent obtained a charter in 1252 
for the right of free warren over all their 
demesne lands in Dorset, provided they should 
not be within the king's forest, with a licence to 
hold a weekly market at the monastery within 
the manor of Milton on Thursday, a yearly 
fair there on the vigil, feast, and morrow of the 
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and a 
yearly fair in their manor of Stockland on the 
same three days.^ The Taxatio oi 1 291 gave 
the abbey spiritualities amounting to ^Tg i8j. id. 
from the churches of Sydling, Puddletown, 
Tolpuddle, Dewlish, Whitcombe, and Hol- 
worth, Stockland, Cattistock and Compton ; '" 
and temporalities valued at £,i2b 9^." in the 
deaneries of Bridport, Dorchester, and Whit- 
church, the total income from both sources being 
assessed at ;^I36 yj. id. 

The abbot was assessed for his holding at two 
knights' fees in the reign of Henry 11;'^ in 
1 155-6 he paid 40J. scutage." He certified 
the king by charter in 1 166 that originally the 
abbey owed no knights' fees either .of the old 
or new feoffment, but that Roger, bishop of 
Salisbury, on the occasion when he took the 
abbey into custody on its voidance at the 
command of Henry I, enfeoffed one knight of 
a tenement, viz. 2 hides held by Robert de 
Monasteriis, and another knight of another tene- 
ment, viz. 2^ hides which William Fitz Walter 
held. Afterwards R., the predecessor of the 
present abbot, had returned these fees to their 
original state, and the knights constituted by the 
bishop had been made censunrii, and held thus in 
the time of the aforesaid R., as did their heirs 
at the present time : William de Monasteriis and 
William Brito." In the year 11 84 Osbert de 
Dorchester and Robert de Godmanston rendered 

' Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 78. 

' Dugdale, Mon., Chart, of Milton, No. 7, ii, 


' Chart. R. 37 Hen. Ill.m. 16. Edward II, in his 
subsequent exemplification of the possessions and 
liberties of the monks previous to their disastrous fire 
of I 309, declared that these markets and fairs were 
originally granted by their founder ^thelstan. Pat. 
5 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 17. 

'"Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 179. 

" Ibid. 183-4. 

'' Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 15, 26, 

33. 54- 

"Ibid, ii, 678. " Ibid, i, 211. 

an account to the Exchequer of the farm of the 
possessions of the abbey for half a year.^* An 
account for three terms was rendered in 1213,^* 
and on July of that year John intimated to the 
custodians of the abbeys of Abbotsbury, Sher- 
borne, and Milton that he was sending down 
a number of sick horses to be placed in their 
charge.'' Edward I, in the first year of his 
reign, granted to the prior and convent on pay- 
ment of a fine of fifty marks the custody of 
their abbey, void by the death of Abbot William 
de Taunton.'* The convent, in common with 
other ecclesiastics, received in 1294 a grant of 
protection for a year in consideration of the 
money which they had contributed towards the 
royal subsidy. '' 

A great misfortune befell the community in 
1309 ; on the night of 2 September the wooden 
belfry of their church was struck by lightning 
in the midst of a violent thunderstorm and gale ; 
the building took fire, and in its destruction 
perished the bells, ornaments, and vestments of 
the monks, together with all their books, char- 
ters, and muniments.^" The bishop of Salisbury 
immediately granted an indulgence of forty days 
in aid of the restoration of the church ; -' and 
with the object of replacing the title deeds 
which had been lost Edward II ordered a com- 
mission to inquire as to the lands and rents held 
by the abbot and convent previous to the destruc- 
tion of their charters,"' by his own charter two 
years later reciting the return made by the in- 
quisition and confirming to the brethren all gifts 
and privileges granted to the abbey by King 
jEthelstan, his predecessor, and all subsequent 
benefactors.^' The abbot and convent received 
a licence from the king in 131 5 for the appro- 
priation of the church of Sydling to their own 
uses, the issues being charged with a sum of 
20 marks, to be paid yearly to the chapter of 
Salisbury towards the maintenance of the chantry 
and obit of Nicolas Longespde, sometime bishop 
of Salisbury, in the cathedral;"'' and in 1332 
Edward III gave permission for the convent to 
appropriate the church of Stockland, 'said to be 

" Madox, Hist, of the Exch. i, 310. 

'Mbid. 312. 

" Close, I ; John, m. 4. 

■« Pat. I Edw. I, m. 1 7. 

" Ibid. 22 Edw. I, m. 8. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, i, fol. 86 ; 
Txw&XX, Annah (Rolls Ser.), ii, 7 ; Walsingham \Htst. 
Angl. (Rolls Sen), i, 126] erroneously dates this fire in 

"' Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, i, fol. 86. 

" Pat. 3 Edw. II, m. 32. 

■^ Ibid. 5 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 17. This confir- 
mation was in 1393 inspected and confirmed again 
to the monks by Richard II. Ibid. 17 Ric. II, 
m. 27. 

■* Ibid. 8 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 31 ; Sarum Epis. 
Reg. Mortival, ii, fol. 49 ; see Col. Pap. Letters, iv, 
207 d. 



of their advovvson.' " In 1324 Robert de Faren- 
don alienated to the community loox. rent from 
a messuage and land in Upper Sydling for the 
provision of a monk to celebrate daily in the 
chapel of St. Mary Milton for his soul and the 
souls of his ancestors ; -'^ and in 1329 a further 
grant was made by Nicholas de Weye and 
William de Wydecombe, chaplain, in aid of the 
maintenance of a monk who should celebrate 
daily in the abbey for their souls and those of 
their ancestors and successors.^' In 1336 the 
convent were permitted to purchase the manor 
with the advowson of the church of Winter- 
borne Stickland from the chapter of Coutances 
in Normandy ; at the same time it was ordained 
that 10 marks should be paid annually out of the 
same, and other lands in Milton and Osmington, 
to the chapter of Salisbury for a chantry estab- 
lished in the cathedral for the kings of England 
and Simon of Ghent, late bishop ; another 
5 marks for a chantry in the church of Mel- 
combe Regis for the soul of Edward III, and 
5 marks for a chantry in the church of Milton 
for the good estate of the king. Queen Philippa 
his consort, and their children, and for their souls 
after death. -^ A carucate of land in Bryanston 
was conveyed to the convent in 1344 for the 
yearly observance, on 31 January, of the anni- 
versary of William de Stokes."" In 1392 the 
brethren, on payment of a fine of 100 marks, 
obtained from Richard II licence to acquire 
various parcels of land in Hunsworth, Langford, 
Milton, and Bedeshurst to be assigned towards 
the yearly maintenance of the anniversaries of 
Roger Manyngford ^° and Margaret his wife, and 
other works of piety. 

Henry IV, on 22 October, 1400, inspected 
and confirmed an agreement made in 1386 
between the abbot and convent and Nicholas 
Langford, whereby the former consented to re- 
ceive the latter into their confraternity so that 
in life he should participate in all the spiritual 
benefits of the monastery and order, should 
receive a weekly corrody of bread and ale, a 
robe with fur every year, a 'good chamber' within 
the abbey with fuel and litter, stabling, and keep 
for his horse, and a yearly rent of 40s., and 
after death that his name should be sent round 
with the names of other dead monks throughout 
England ; in return for these benefits it was 
stipulated that he should assist the community in 
their business with his counsel.'' 

The abbey was spared none of the charges im- 
posed on houses of any standing belonging to the 

" Pat. 6 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 16. 
*' Ibid. 18 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 28. 
" Ibid. 2 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 29. 
»■* Ibid. 10 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 8 ; 15 Edw. Ill, 
'pt. 3, m. 6 ; 21 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 31. 
" Ibid. 1 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 9. 
"' Ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 30. 
^' Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. I, m. 35. 

Benedictine order and of the royal patronage.'" 
Pensioners were bestowed on the house with un- 
failing regularity by Edward II and Edward III," 
and on the appointment of a new abbot they did 
not fail to present a clerk for the pension due at 
the royal nomination.'* In 1332 the abbot was 
requested to contribute towards the subsidy raised 
on the occasion of the marriage of the king's 
sister ; '* and two years later to give a tenth 
towards the expenses incurred by the Scotch 

The community, which is said to have origin- 
ally numbered forty,'' was considerably reduced 
in numbers in the latter part of its existence, the 
change being attributed in the first place to the 
loss incurred by the fire of 1309." Other 
causes were not wanting, and the strain on the 
resources of the abbey became marked during 
the rule of Richard de Maury, 1331-52.'' On 
24 April, 1344, the king ordered the chancellor 
of Salisbury, John de Tylvyngton, Thomas Gary, 
and John Maury to take the house, now in a state of 
great depression and indebtedness owing to dissen- 
sions between the abbot and convent, into their 

" With the exception of the year following its 
loss by fire, when Milton omitted from the list 
of abbots who were requested to aid the king with 
victuals for the Scotch war ; Close, 3 Edw. II, 
m. 5 J. 

" Close, 8 Edw. II, m. I l </.; 12 Edw. II, m. 1 94'.; 
6 Edw. Ill, m. 18a'. ; 7 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 3d'.; 
8 Edw. Ill, pt. i,m. I a'.; 21 Edw. Ill, pt. l,m. zd. ; 
23 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 12 d. 

" Ibid. 8 Edw. II, m. 20,2'.; 26 Edw. Ill, m. 5 J. 

^Ihld. 6 Edw. Ill, m. 16 a'. 

'= Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, m. 5 d. 

" Hutchins {His/, of Dorset, iv, 390) cites this from 
' an anonymous author in the Cotton Library.' 

^ The excuse put forward by the community in 
1320 for declining to receive a certain Robert 
Oysel, clerk, who desired to enter the monastery, 
was that their house was already burdened beyond 
its capacity to sustain its present number, and would 
not admit of another; Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, ii, 
fol. 99. 

" The abbot, who received the benediction on his 
election in I 33 I at the hands of Simon, archbishop 
of Canterbury, ' in the exercise of his right of visita- 
tion in the diocese of Salisbur}' ' (Pat. 5 Edw. Ill, 
pt. 2, m. 32), does not seem to have been acknow- 
ledged by his bishop till the year I 336, when he was 
formally pardoned for his irregularity in seeking con- 
firmation from the primate instead of from his ordinary 
(Sarum Epis. Reg. Wp'ille, fol. 30 </.). A commission 
of oyer and terminer was issued in 1338 and 1340 to 
investigate complaints of trespass against the superior 
(Pat. 12 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. i6</. ; 14 Edw. Ill, 
pt. I, m. 41 d.'), who in 1342 appears to have been 
imprisoned for trespass at Rockingham (Close, 16 Edw. 
Ill, pt. I, m. 22). In 1348 he was charged with 
breaking the park of Alesia, countess of Lincoln, at 
Kingston Lacy (Pat. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 43 d). In 
1351 'Richard Maur)', monk, formerly for more than 
eighteen years abbot of Milton, in which time the 
abbey acquired more than 60 marks annual rent,' 



custody, and after making a reasonable allowance to 
the inmates at the rate of 5 marks a year each, and 
defraying the expenses of its ministers, to apply 
the remainder of its revenues towards relieving 
it of debt.*' The decrees forwarded by the 
bishop after a visitation in July of that year laid 
stress again on the discords in the abbey and the 
fact that the inmates were too many for its pre- 
sent financial condition.^' The abbot and con- 
vent were ordered to adhere rigidly to the scheme 
of retrenchment laid down by the bishop, though 
they were warned about the same time not to 
withdraw the chaplains serving various chantries, 
or to neglect the needs of the sick. The bishop 
also desired them to re-admit Brother Walter de 
Sherborne, who had left the abbey with the 
object of attaching himself to a severer rule, but 
after joining the Brothers Preachers for some 
time had apostatized to the world, and now, re- 
penting of his excesses, with tears desired to 
return.^^ The visitation report of 1378, con- 
taining various suggestions for matters in need of 
correction, makes no special reference to poverty. 
The attention of the abbot — who was enjoined to 
bear himself modestly and benignantly towards his 
fellow monks — was directed towards the quality 
of the bread and ale served out to the house- 
hold and to the condition of the drains, ' which 
corrupt the air and are the cause of various in- 
firmities.' The usual prohibition against the 
entrance of women was coupled with an injunction 
forbidding the admission of certain ladies men- 
tioned by name within the precincts of the 

Save for the appointment of abbots references 
to Milton are rare in the century preceding the 
Dissolution. A report issued after a visitation in 
1425 comments severely on various details of the 
management of the then abbot, Richard Cley ; 
and he was ordered, under penalty of suspension 
from choir and deprivation for forty days of the 
pastoral staff, to appoint a receiver of moneys 
retained by him without rendering of any 
account, and to redeem the jewels and silver 
vessels which he had sold.^'' In 1438 the 
number of the community seems to have 
fallen to fifteen if we may accept the count 

obtained exemption from the jurisdiction of his 
superiors, by grant of Pope Clement VI, with indult 
to retain the goods which lawfully belonged to him and 
to convert them to his own use, and licence to choose 
one of the monks to say the canonical hours with him 
and serve him in other ways ; Cal. Pap. Letters, iii, 

'"Pat. 18 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 3. 

*' The community consisted at this time, it is said, 
■of twenty-one monks, the number being increased by 
the return of two absent brethren to twenty-three, as 
was notified to the bishop by letter shortly after his 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, fol. 130-1. 

" Ibid. Erghum, fol. i;. 

" Ibid. Chandler, fol. 51. 

of those monks who assembled on 10 June of 
that year for the election of John Breweton or 

The abbot and convent obtained from 
Henry VIII in 15 12 a licence to hold the 
yearly fair in their manor of Stockland on the 
eve, day, and morrow of St. Barnabas, instead of 
St. Michael, as was granted by Henry VI," on 
account of the injury to other fairs in the neigh- 
bourhood.''' Among the benefactions of Abbot 
William de Middleton, 1482-1523, must be 
mentioned the erection of a free school within 
the town of Milton, for the maintenance of 
which the abbot, by deed dated 10 February, 
152 1, and sealed with the common seal of the 
abbey, made over the manor of Little Mayne, 
&c., to Giles Strangeways, knt., Thomas Arun- 
del, knt., and other trustees.''^ 

The Valor of 153S gives the abbey a clear 
income of ;^665 3J. 3^15^. from the parsonages of 
Milton, Stockland, Sydling, and Osmington,^' 
and the manors of Milton, Stockland, 'Huysshe,' 
Sydling, Compton Abbas, Holway, Cattistock, 
Hillfield, Knowle, Osmington, Whitcombe and 
Dorchester, Frome and Stafford, Burleston, 
Lyscombe, Winterborne Stickland, La Lee, and 
other lands.'" Among the annual charges was 
a sum of ^51 i6j., set down under the head of 
almsgiving, assigned towards the observance of 
the anniversaries of founders, including King 

The appointment of John Bradley, last abbot 
of Milton, as bishop suffragan of Shaftesbury, 
February, 1539/^ preceded the suppression of 
the abbey by a few days only. The abbot, who 
surrendered the house with twelve of the monks 
on II March, 1539, received a pension of 
;^I33 6j. id., the prior ^^13 bs. Sd., the sub- 
prior ^^8, and the ten remaining brethren 
jCb 1 31. 4d. each.'' 

" Ibid. Beauchamp. 

'^ Pat. 25 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 26. 

*' L. and P. Hen. Fill, i, 3529. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv. 396. The chantry 
commissioners of Edward VI found that the rent of 
the lands thus assigned amounted to £% a year, which 
was paid yearly to the ' scolemaster ' for his stipend ; 
Chant. Cert. 16, No. 81. An inquisition in 1600 
under Elizabeth reported the school ' to be of good 
regard and in former times much frequented ' ; Hut- 
chins, op. cit. 

*' Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 248. 

'" Ibid. 249. The sum contributed by Milton 
towards the king's expenses for the recovery of the 
crown of France was ^^ 100, as against j^200 by Cerne 
and /l 1 8 Ss. id. by Abbotsbury ; L. and P. Hen. Vlll, 
iii, 2483. 

" Of this sum j^30 represented the cost of provid- 
ing the daily necessaries of thirteen poor men of the 
town of Milton nominated yearly by the convent ; 
Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 151. 

" Pat. 30 Hen. VIII, pt. 2, m. 20. 

=" L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiv (i), 500. 



The king the following year granted the 
house and site of the abbey, with the church, 
belfry, bells, and churchyard, the advowson of 
the vicarage, manor, and rectory, to John Tre- 
gonwell, the commissioner deputed to receive the 
resignation of the community.'* 

Abbots of Milton 
Cyneward, appointed 964 by King Edgar " 
Egelric, deposed 11 02 for simony'^ 
R., occurs in reign of Henry I " 
A., occurs in reign of Henry II ** 
Eustace, elected 1198 '' 
William de Stokes, elected 1222^" 
William de Taunton, elected 1256,^* died 

Robert de Corfe, elected 1273 '^- 

Walter de Sideling, elected 1291,"^ died 

Robert le Fauconer, elected 1314," died 1331 

Richard de Mauro or Maury, elected 1 33 1," 

resigned 1352 
Robert de Burbache, elected 1352,"^ died 1382 
John Hentin, elected 1382," died 1383 
Walter Archer, elected 1383,^ died 141 7 
Richard Cley, elected 141 7,''' resigned 1 43 1 
John Haselbere, elected 1 431,™ died 1458 
John Breweton or Bruton, elected 1458,'' 

died 1482 
William Middleton, elected 1482'^ 
John Bradley, elected 1525," surrendered 

The round, thirteenth-century seal of the 
abbey ,'^ the impression of which is very fine 
though the edge is imperfect, represents on the 
obverse side the abbey church with a centre 
and two towers, each having a tall spire and 
two side turrets. Under the central tower be- 

" L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 282 (g. 90). 

" Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 94. 

''^ Wm. of Malmesbur)', Gata Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 

" Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 21 1. 

" Ibid. ■'' Ann. Mon. (Rolls Sen), ii, 69. 

«> Close, 7 Hen. Ill, m. 28. 

" Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 96. 

^' Pat. I Edw. I, m. I 7. He is probably identical 
with Walter de Corfe, to whom the temporalities of 
the abbey were restored 17 June in the same year ; 
ibid. m. i 5. 

" Ibid. 19 Edw. I, m. 16. 

*' Ibid. 8 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 9. 

" Ibid. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 2, 32. 

^ Ibid. 26 Edw. Ill, pt. 3. 

" Ibid. 6 Ric. II, pt. 1, m. 16. 

"^ Ibid. pt. 2, m. 23. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Chandler, fol. 1 1. 

"" Ibid. Neville, fol. 11. 

" Ibid. Beauchamp, i, fol. 50. 

" Pat. 21 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. 7. 

" L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv (l), I 291-1424 ; xiv 
(l), 500. 

" B.M. Seals, xl, 3. 

neath a trefoiled arch the Virgin is seated, 
crowned, the Holy Child with nimbus on her 
left knee, in her right hand an orb. Under the 
arch of each of the side towers a mitred abbot 
or bishop, full-length. In the foreground an 
embattled wall. In the field over the roof two 
demi-angels issuing from the heavens, each swing- 
ing a censer, and on the left a cross. Legend : — 

+ SIGILL' : CONVEN .... AN ... . MID- 
ELTONENSIS : E . . . . l'iE 

The reverse represents the abbey church from 
another point of view. Under two trefoiled 
arches in the centre, the Annunciation of the 
Virgin. In the triangular pediment above is a 
bust. Legend : — 

[porta : sa]lvtis : ave : .p : te : patet : 

e[xitvs : A : ve] [venit : ab : eva :]ve : 

ve : Q : tollis : ave 

A fine fragment of the same seal is found 
attached to a deed dated 131 5," and to the sur- 
render deed of the abbey in 1539.^° 


The foundation of the abbey of St. Mary is 
usually attributed to Bishop Aldhelm at or about 
the time of the establishment of the episcopal see 
at Sherborne in 705,^ and though, according to 
an ancient record mentioning a grant to the 
house of 100 hides of land at ' Lanprobi ' by 
Cenwalch, king of the West Saxons, who died in 
672,' it might be said to claim even greater 
antiquity, this is the date popularly accepted. 

Among the grants enumerated in a list of the 
names and benefactions of the ' kings, founders of 
the church of Sherborne,' ' are lands, many of 
which figure later in the possessions of the monks 
on the reconstruction of the house originally built 
for secular canons, and must have formed its 
earlier endowment : 5 hides of land at Oborne 
the gift of King Edgar ; 5 hides out of 36 at 
Bradford, ' Cerdel,' Halstock, and Yetminster, 
with Netherbury and ' Ethelaldingham ' granted 
by King iEthelwulf (Athulfus) ; King Athertus 
gave the liberty of 140 hides, and in Up Cerne 
12 hides, in Tavistock 8, in Stalbridge 20, in 
Compton 8 ; King Kenewulf gave 5 hides at 
Affpuddle and I hide in Lyme ; King Cuth- 
red 12 hides in ' Lydcne,' ID in Corscombe, 25 
at 'Menedid'; King Kenewulf 6 hides in Chard- 

" Harl. Chart. 86 A. 43. 

" Deeds of Surrender, No. 153. 

' Wm. of Malmes. Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 375-8. 

Leland states that it was founded by King .^Ethelred 

\c. 870], but probably confuses its foundation with its. 

reconstruction ; Coll. i, 66 ; Tanner, Notitia, Dorset 


' Cott. MS. Faust. A. ii, fol. 23. ' Ibid. 

Sherborne Abbey 

Tarrant ICaines Abcey 

Cerne Abbey 


Abbot of Cerne (Fifteenth Century) 


Clement, Abbot of Sherborne (ii6^) 

Dorset Monastic Seals : Plate I 


stock, 8 in Toller Whelme, in ' Wegencesfunte ' 
and Alton 30 hides, in ' Crutesdune ' 36 hides 
and ' Wytecumbe ' and ' Wluene ' ; King Offa 
Potterne with its appurtenances ; King Egbert 
10 hides near Cerne, &c.; King Sigeberht 5 hides 
in ' Boselington ' and 7 in EastCann ; King Ine 
gave 7 hides near ' Predian ' and in ' Conbus- 
burie ' 20 hides ; King Geroncius gave 5 hides 
in ' Macnir by Thamar ' ; King JEthehed gave 
* Atforde ' and ' Clethangre,' and gave and re- 
stored Corscombe in ohlatum, which Canute 
afterwards restored.* It is recorded in addition 
to these grants ' that King ^thelstan by charter 
gave to the famil'ia at Sherborne land at Brad- 
ford Abbas on condition that they should say 
psalms and masses for the redemption of his soul 
on the feast of All Saints,^ and at Weston with 
the stipulation that they should pray for his soul 
and the soul of Beorhtwulf the earl ; ' about the 
year 903 King Eadred granted to Bishop Wulf- 
sige 8 carucates of land at Thornford, with the 
reversion of the estate on his death to the 

In the ninth century the abbey seems to have 
shared with VVimborne the honour of giving 
burial to the kings and bishops of Wessex. The 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states that King iEthel- 
bald was buried here in 860, and jEthelbert, 
who succeeded him, in 866." Leland, writing 
in the sixteenth century, says the two kings were 
buried ' yn a place behinde the highe altare of 
S. Marie chirche, but ther now be no tumbes, 
nor no writing of them sene.' " In 867, after 
he had held the bishopric ' fifty winters,' died 
Bishop Ealhstan, ' of great power in worldly 
affairs and eminent in counsel,' who took a per- 
sonal share in the wars of Egbert, and by his 
example and generosity inspired king and people 
to continue the struggle against the Danes ; " 
•'his body lies in the town.'^^ 

* Cott. MS. Faust. A. ii, fol.23. 

' The charters of the monks include one by Cenwalch 
of Wessex, 643-72, granting various privileges to the 
pontifical see at Sherborne and the community there ; 
it is witnessed, however by Laurentinus, archbishop of 
Canterbury, who died in 619, and of more than 
doubtful authenticity ; Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 46. 

' Ibid, ii, 392. 

' Ibid, ii, 394. 

° Ibid, iii, 52. Hutchins in addition cites (Hist, of 
Dorset, iv, 228) two charters by King .(Ethelwulf, the 
first dated in 841, reciting a grant in perpetual alms 
of I 5 cassates of land in the place c.illed ' Halganstoc ' 
(Halstock) ' for the honour of God and love of St. 
Michael the archangel, whose church remains in the 
said little monastery, to Eadberth the deacon for his 
faithful service there; the other recording the grant in 
844 of 2 cassates of land in a place called ' Osanstoc ' 
for the redemption of the soul of King ^thelwulfand 
the souls of his sons ./Ethelbald and ./Ethelbert. 
' Atigl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 129, 130. 

'° Itinerary, ii, 48. 

" Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 1 20-1. 

" Ibid, i, 132. 

The reconstruction of the house and the sub- 
stitution of monks for the secular canons, who 
had occupied it for nearly two centuries, took 
place in the reign of jEthelred by the agency of 
Bishop Wulfsige, 992-1001." The king's 
charter, dated 998, recites that by the persuasion 
of Archbishop JEAfric and the advice of his 
nobles he has licensed the bishop to ordain and 
institute a rule of monks in the monastery of 
Sherborne according to the constitution of St. 
Benedict, and enacts that none of the bishop's 
successors should in consequence usurp the tem- 
poral possessions of the monks, but as shepherds, 
and not tyrants nor with wolfish rapacity, should 
govern according to pastoral authority and for 
the benefit of the community, while any question 
creating discord between the shepherd and the 
flock should be referred to the archbishop, who 
should advise the king as to any necessary amend- 
ments ; and whereas it was not usual to consti- 
tute an abbot in the episcopal see, the bishop in 
virtue of his office should be abbot and father to 
the brethren, who should be obedient to him as 
sons and live as monks, in chastity, humility, 
and subjection.^* The charter of Bishop Wulf- 
sige declares that having expelled the clerks in 
pursuance of the king's order, he has ordained and 
constituted worthy (sapientes) monks in their 
place in the church of St. Mary of Sherborne, 
and restored to them the lands and possessions or 
those who from the beginning served in this 
holy place to the praise and glory of God, to- 
gether with a carucate of land in the vill of 
Sherborne, the tithe of the bishopric and every 
tenth field in the whole of the said vill, and 
24 cart-loads of wood yearly.^* 

On comparing the estates confirmed to the 
reconstituted house by King jEthelred, at the 
close of the tenth century, with the lands in the 
possession of the monks in the return of io86, 
it will be found that the monastery had passed 
through the social and political changes follow- 
ing the Norman Conquest without incurring any 
serious territorial loss or deprivation.^^ The 
possessions enumerated in the confirmation 
charter of .^thelred in 998 consist of a hundred 
fields in a place called Stockland in Sherborne 
itself, with the estate {praedium) of the monastery 
as Bishop Wulfsige had inclosed it with hedges 
and ditches ; 9 cassates of land in a place called 
' Holancumb,' 15 in Halstock, 7 in Thornford, 
10 in Bradford, 5 in Oborne, 8 in Weston, 20 
in Stalbridge, 10 in ' Wulfheardingstoke,' 8 in 
Compton, 2 in ' Osanstoke,' and a manor near 

" Leland, Coll. iii, 150. 

" Ibid. //;■«. ii, 51, 52. "Ibid. 

"^ The omission of Halstock in the Domesday 
Survey is curious, as it was one of the earliest posses- 
sions of the house, and is entered in the bull of Pope 
Eugenius III in 1 14;, and remained in the possession 
of the abbey down to the Reformation ; Hutchins, 
Hist, of Dorset, iv, 403. 



the sea-coast called 'At Lyme.''' The nine 
manors specifically assigned to the living of the 
monks, apart from the ' land of the bishop of 
Salisbury,' in the Domesday Survey are returned 
as follows : — Sherborne with 9^ carucates of 
land valued at £b lOJ., Oborne with 5 hides, 
Thornford with 7, Bradford with 10, Comp- 
ton with 6 hides and 3 virgates, Stalbridge 
with 20 hides, Weston with 8, Corscombe 
with 10 hides less I virgate. Stoke Abbas with 
10 hides ; the value of the whole amounting to 
,^63 lOJ.** It was reported that 3 virgates of 
land in the manor of Stalbridge, held by Man- 
asses, had been taken from the church by W. 
the king's son, without the consent of the bishop 
or the monks. 

The loss of influence and position that might 
have been expected to follow the removal in 1075 
of the episcopal see from Sherborne to Old Sarum 
was in a great measure obviated by the readjust- 
ments initiated by Roger of Salisbury in the suc- 
ceeding century. The bishop in 1 122, with the 
consent of Henry I, united the former abbey of 
Horton to Sherborne as a dependent cell, and 
raised the latter house, of which he as diocesan 
was titular head, to the dignity of an abbey, '^ 
Thurstan being consecrated the s.ame year its first 
abbot. ^ Various other arrangements and agree- 
ments on the part of successive abbots and the 
bishop and chapter of Salisbury followed this 
change. Clement, then abbot, quitclaimed tojoce- 
lin the bishop and the cathedral church of Salis- 
bury, about the year 1 1 60, the castle of Sherborne, 
formerly built by the great Roger of Salisbury ; -' 
and the same bishop by his charter recited and 
confirmed the rights and privileges of the abbot 
as holder of a prebend in the cathedral, consti- 
tuted by Bishop Osmund from the parish church 
of Sherborne and its tithes and chapels, which 
entitled the superior of the abbey to a stall in the 
cathedral choir and a place in the chapter, the 
grant expressly stipulating that on the decease of 
an abbot no portion of the profits of the prebend 
should fall to the communa because it was con- 
ferred on the monastery itself and not expressly 
on the abbot." The patent rolls record that on 
22 July, 1386, the abbot and convent leased 
their house in the cathedral close in favour of 
John de Cliilterne, canon of Salisbury.-' In 

" Leland, Itin. ii, 51, 52. 

'* Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, fol. 77. 

" Jnn. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), i, 10. William of Malmes- 
bur}', who mentions other changes, by mistake ascribes 
it to the fourth year of King Stephen, 1 139 ; Gesta 
Regum (Rolls Ser.), ii, 559. 

™ Cott. MS. Faust. A. ii, fol. 2 5 a'. 

" Reg. St. OsmunJ. (Rolls Ser.), i, 235. 

" Ibid. 250. The abbot is mentioned among 
those prebendaries present at the framing of the New 
Constitution {Nofa Constitutio) in 1214 (ibid. 374). 
The prebend was assessed at ^40 in the Ta.xatio of 
1 291. Pope Nick. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 182. 

" Pat. 10 Rich. II, pt. I, m. 35. 

1191 the monks made over the churches of 
Lyme and Halstock to the bishop and chapter to 
constitute a prebend in the cathedral church of 
Salisbury to the honour of God and the 'glorious 
virgin,' "^ and on the same date received a grant 
appropriating the church of Stalbridge and Stoke 
to the use of the abbey — saving a reasonable sus- 
tenance to be provided for the perpetual vicar 
ministering in the aforesaid churches — and a 
licence to receive 2 marks annually from the 
church of Corscombe when it should next be- 
come vacant.-' Though by no means incon- 
siderable, the rent-roll of the abbey of Sherborne 
was comparable at no time to that of Shaftes- 
bury, and even at this early date ' the poverty 
and narrowness of means of the house of Sher- 
borne ' are alluded to in the bishop's grant. In 
1238 a composition between the convent and 
the bishop of Salisbury released to the former all 
amercements of the assize of bread and ale in 
the hundred of Sherborne and Beaminster which 
had been claimed against them, in return for 
which they agreed to pay the bishop and his 
successors half a mark annually at Easter.-'' The 
bishop claimed the right to instal all superiors on 
their appointment ; and in or about the year 
12 1 7 Philip, abbot of Sherborne, acknowledging 
that he had incurred the displeasure of the 
diocesan by entering on the abbacy without his 
authority, pledged himself that no abbot in 
future should be enthroned save by the bishop of 
Salisbury or by his special mandate.^' The 
cathedral chapter, too, had their prerogative, and 
in 1242 the prior and convent were required to 
certify that the rights of the church of Salisbury 
should not in future suffer infringement because 
the abbot-elect, John de Hele, had recently 
received the benediction at Ramsburyon account 
of the ill health of the diocesan instead of in the 

The bull of Pope Eugenius III in H45 recites 
that at the request of the monks he has con- 
firmed to the monaster)' of St. Mary of Sherborne^ 
which he has taken under the protection of 
St. Peter, the following possessions : — The monas- 
tery itself with all its lands, rents, and liberties 
conferred by the kings of England and the bishops 
of Salisbury ; the church of Stalbridge and of 
Horton with its chapels of Knowlton and 
' Chesilberie ' ; the chapel of Oborne ; the church 
of St. Mary Magdalen by the castle with its 
two chapels and appurtenances ; the church of 
St. Andrew in Sherborne ; the churches of Brad- 
ford, Halstock, Corscombe, and Stoke with the 
chapel and all its appurtenances ; the churches of 
Lyme and Fleet (Dorset), Littleham and Carswell 
(Devon), and ' Cadweli ' or Kidwelly in Caer- 

" Reg. Rubrum, fol. 335. 

'^ Ibid. fol. 333-4. 

"^ Ibid. fol. 158. 

" Reg. St. Osmund. (Rolls Ser.), i, 265. 

" Reg. Rubrum, fol. 160. 



martlienshire/" cell to Sherborne ; the towns of 
Stalbridge, Weston, Oborne, Thornford, Brad- 
ford, Wyke, and ' Hloscum ' with all their ap- 
purtenances ; Compton with Over and Nether 
Compton, ' Propeschirche ' and Stockland with 
woods, meadows and two mills ; the street before 
the monastery in Sherborne, extending as far as 
the church of St. Andrew, with the mill by the 
monastery and the mill by St. Andrew's church ; 
three taxable houses in Sherborne with other 
houses belonging to them, the taxable houses 
round the court [atrium) of the monastery with 
their orchards and appurtenances ; all the taxable 
houses in the burgh of Wareham with the chapel 
of St. Andrew ; the towns of Horton, King- 
ton, Halstock, Coringdon, Corscombe, Stoke, 
Bromley, ' Laurechestoc,' Fleet, Beer, and Seaton 
with their salt-pits and other appurtenances ; the 
fisheries of Fleet, Beer, and Seaton ; Littleham 
with its fisheries, meadows, woods, &c. ; Carswell 
and Bromley ; various tithes with three cart-loads 
of hay yearly in Bere, and one cart-load from the 
demesne of the bishop ; the sepulture of the place 
free for those who should desire to be buried 
there, except for such as should die excommuni- 
cated and saving the rights of the mother church. 
On the death of the abbot or any of his successors 
no one should be set over them except by the 
common consent of the brethren or the counsel 
of the wiser of them.^" The bull of Alexander III, 
with some additions, confirms to the abbey in 
1 163 the possessions enumerated in the bull of 
1 145." Th&Taxat'io oi 1291 gives the abbot and 
convent pensions amounting to f^() I2s. 6d. from 
the churches of Stalbridge, Holy Trinity Ware- 
ham, and Corscombe in the diocese of Salisbury;'^ 
their temporalities assessed at ;^I26 15J. 2d. in- 
cluded lands and rents valued at £2^ ^s. Sd. in 
the diocese of Exeter '' ; £^ in the diocese of 
Bath and Wells ^* ; and ^^66 2s. 2d. in the 
deanery of Shaftesbury in the Salisbury diocese.'^ 
The possessions of the abbey rendered it liable 
to various services and taxations, and the demands 
incidental more especially to houses of the Bene- 
dictine order and of the royal patronage. The 
abbot in 1 1 56 and 1160-1 acquitted himself to 
the king for the holding of two knights' fees.'' In 
1 166 the fees ot the house were certified by 
charter thus : — Richard Fitz Hildebrant holds of 
the abbey half a knight's fee, Thomas de Has- 
weria one fee, Jordan de Netherstock half a fee, 

" Roger, bishop of Salisbury, gave a carucateof land 
at Kidwelly and ' the mountain called Salomon's ' ; 
the churches of Pennalt, Kidwelly, and Penbray were 
granted to the abbey by Richard Fitz William. Dug- 
dale, Mon. i, 424. 

™ Leland, liin. ii, 53, 54 ; Dugdale, Mon. i, 335. 
Chart, of Sherborne, No. v. 

^' Ibid. No. vi, i, 339. 

»- Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 178-9. 

'" Ibid. 151. " Ibid. 203. " Ibid. 184-5. 

^ Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 15, 27. 

Geoffrey de Stokes one-fifth of a fee, the above 
constituting fees of the old feoffment ; of the 
new feoffment Simon de Cherd holds two parts 
of a fee, Walter Fitz Hugh one-fifth, Robert de 
Thorncombe one-fifth.'' From that date the 
abbot appears to have rendered service for two 
knights' fees and a fifth part of a fee.'' In the 
course of the war with Scotland he was sum- 
moned by writ to send his service against the 
Scots, and in 1324 was requested to raise forces in 
defence of the duchy of Aquitaine;'^ his tenure 
entitled him to a seat in Parliament,^" and he 
leceived the usual notifications to attend. The 
convent on frequent occasions received requests 
or orders from Edward II and Edward III to 
supply maintenance in their abbey for boarders 
of the king's nomination,*' and in accordance 
with the usual custom, were expected to provide 
a pension for a clerk whenever a new abbot was 
appointed.*^ An order was issued to the 
escheator in July, 1 3 10, respiting until Michael- 
mas a demand of a palfrey and a silver cup from 
the abbot of Sherborne by reason of the last void- 
ance, the abbot protesting that he was not 
chargeable, as his predecessors had been quit of 
this special payment * from time out of mind.'*' 
On more than one occasion the monastery was 
used as a depository for taxes and subsidies col- 
lected in the county,** a strong and suitable 
room being requisitioned within the abbey in 
I 334 for the reception of the moneys collected in 
Dorset for the tenths and fifteenths voted to the 
king for the expenses of the war, with free ingress 
and egress to be permitted to the collectors, who 
were bound to answer for the amount." 

The history of Sherborne, from the date of its 
elevation in the twelfth century to the dignity of 
an abbey down to the stirring incident which 
led to the destruction of the church by fire in the 
fifteenth century, is very uneventful, and con- 
sists chiefly of small disconnected incidents. 
Henry II, by one charter, confirmed a composition 

" Ibid. 213. 

" Ibid. 34, 64, 80, loi, 125, 166 ; ii, 344. 

" Pari. Writs (Rec. Com.), i, div. viii, 1427-8. 

'» Ibid. 

" In I 309 William Beausamys was sent to the abbey 
to receive maintenance for himself, a horse and groom 
(Close, 2 Edw. II, m. 12). Hugh Cade was sent in 
I 3 1 5 to receive such allowance as Richard le PoLiger 
had had (ibid. 8 Edw. II, m. 1 1 d^. From the man- 
ner in which on the death of one boarder another was 
sent to take his place, it would seem that two was the 
number maintained at a time (ibid. 10 Edw. II, m. 
izd. \ ibid. 1 1 Edw. II, m. 9 </. ; 12 Edw. II, m. 30; 
6 Edw. Ill, m. 2 d.). A complaint was lodged in 
1335 that the abbey declined to provide full and 
proper maintenance, and contented itself with merely 
admitting the king's candidate. Pat. 9 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, 
m. 21 (/. 

"Close, 4 Edw. II, m. \% d. 

" Ibid. m. 26. " Ibid. 4 Edw. I, m. 3 ./. 

" Pari R. (Rec. Com.), ii, 45'- 
65 9 


between G., abbot of Sherborne, and Richard Fitz 
HilJebrand restoring to the abbey the towns of 
Bradford and Corscombe on the death of the 
said Richard, in accordance with a deed of Bishop 
Roger of Sahsbury testifying that he had un- 
justly taken them away from the church to give 
to his brother Humphrey, and afterwards restored 
them;*^ and by another charter, subsequently 
confirmed by Edward I, bestowed the church of 
Stalbridge on the office of the sacristan.^' The 
abbey was in the king's hand in the first year of 
Richard I, when Thomas de Husseburna ren- 
dered account of ^^ 1 00 2s. ^d. for the fixed rent 
of the house ;^' and again in 1213, John, on 
15 July of that year, notifying the custodian of 
the monastery that he had given instructions for 
the prior and convent in the voidance of the 
abbey to choose and send him suitable candidates 
from whom an abbot could be selected, and de- 
siring that their expenses should be provided.'" 
In the month preceding his death in 12 16 John 
gave instructions for the abbey of Shaftesbury to 
be committed during voidance to the custody of 
the abbot of Sherborne.'^'' Henry III, on 
7 January, 1223, issued an order for John, 
:almoner of Sherborne, to be allowed twenty 
a-afters in aid of the almonry in course of build- 
ing,*^ and by another grant in 1246 the monks 
■were allowed two cart-loads of dead wood weekly 
from the forest of Pamber." Letters of pro- 
tection were obtained in 1241 by Abbot Henry 
going beyond seas, until he should return from 
his pilgrimage,*' licence to elect being granted to 
the convent the following year on his resigna- 
tion.** Edward I, in 1290, granted the abbot 
and convent licence to hold a market and fair at 
Stalbridge, and to have right of free warren in 
their demesne lands of Weston, Oborne, Stal- 
bridge, Wyke, Bradford, Thornford, Corscombe, 
and 'Stawel,' in Dorset, and their lands in Devon- 
shire.** Edward II granted permission in 1 3 1 7 for 
the abbot and convent to acquire lands and rents 
to the yearly value of ^10, provided they should 
find a monk or chaplain to celebrate daily in the 
abbey for the soul of the late king, of Robert 
Fitz Payne, and all Christians;*^ in part satis- 
faction of this grant the convent obtained lands 
in Beer and Seaton (Devonshire).*'' On payment 
of a fine of 50 marks, Richard II granted a 

"^ By inspeximus of Edward I. Chart. R. 20 Edw. I, 
No. 3. 

" Ibid. *' Madox, Hist, of the Exch. i, 311. 

" Close, 15 John, m. 7. 

'" Ibid. 18 John, m. 3. 

" Ibid. 7 Hen. Ill, m. 22. 

" Pat. 30 Hen. Ill, m. 6. 

" Ibid. 25 Hen. Ill, m. 8. 

■■' Ibid. 26 Hen. Ill, pt. 2, m. 2. 

" Chart. R. 18 Edw. I, No. 66. A grant was made 
to the bishop of Salisbury of a four days' fair at Sher- 
borne. Chart. R. 24 Hen. Ill, m. 2. 

'^ Pat. 1 1 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 34. 

" Ibid. 17 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 6. 

licence in 1392 for the alienation of lands in 
Coringdon, and the reversion of lands and rent 
in Stoke Abbott to the abbey." The episcopal 
registers record an indulgence granted by Bishop 
Mitford in 1397 for a chantry founded at the 
altar of St. Nicholas within the conventual 
church." Various other indulgences were ob- 
tained by the community at the beginning of the 
thirteenth century, no doubt with the object of 
supplementing insufficient revenues with the alms 
of the faithful. Pope Boniface IX, in 1 401, 
granted an indulgence to those visiting the con- 
ventual church of Sherborne on the Annuncia- 
tion, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel, and 
the Sunday following the latter feast, from the 
first to the second vespers and giving alms, to- 
gether with an indult to the abbot and eight 
priests chosen by him, secular or religious, to hear 
confessions and grant absolution.^" The abbot 
in 14 1 2 received an indult to dispense four of his 
monks for promotion to holy orders.*' The 
following year the pope published an indulgence 
with relaxation of seven years and seven quaran- 
tines of enjoined penance, to penitents who, on 
the principal feasts of the year, and 100 days to 
those who on other days, should visit and give 
alms for the conservation of the altar of Holy 
Trinity and All Saints, in the church of Sher- 
borne. *- 

The election of superiors and their benediction 
by the ordinary are recorded in the episcopal 
registers, but the official records of the bishops of 
Salisbury throw little light on the internal condi- 
tion of the house, as they contain no visitation 
reports for Sherborne. We may perhaps infer 
from this omission that its management was on 
the whole satisfactory. Up to the incident of 
1436 existence seems to have flowed on peace- 
fully and harmoniously, with but few interrup- 
tions. A small break is reported among the last 
entries of Bishop Mortival's register in 1329, in 
connexion with the election of John de Comp- 
ton ; the sacristan and a certain number of mojiks 
appealing to the apostolic see and the Court of 
Canterbury against his appointment on the 
ground that at the time of his election he had 
incurred sentence of excommunication for the 
violent laying of hands on a clerk. The official 
of the Court of Canterbury ordered the bishop to 
cite the said John to appear before the court in 
London, and to proceed no further till the case 
had been decided.^' Nothing further is recorded, 
and John de Compton remained in office till his 
death in 1342. A dispute arose in 1 331 between 
the convent and the rector of the church at Stal- 
bridge of their advowson, respecting a yearly 
pension of 10 marks claimed by the monks which 

** Ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 35. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mitford, fol. 121 </. 

** Cal. of Pap. Letters, v, 406. 

" Ibid. vi. 282. '' Ibid, vi, 378. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, ii, fol. 364 <2'. 



the rector had neglected to pay for two years.^^ 
The parishioners of the church of Compton 
' Hawy,' who had hitherto been obliged to carry 
their dead for burial at Sherborne, in 1437 ob- 
tained a bull from the pope conferring the right 
of sepulture on their church.^'' It is probable 
that during the latter part of the abbey's exis- 
tence, owing to financial strain, the community 
sank far below the original number of its inmates; 
the voting body of professed monks at the elec- 
tion of John Saunders in 1459 numbered only 
fifteen,*' and about that number assembled for 
the election of John Merc in 1504." At the 
Dissolution the surrender deed of the abbey was 
signed by fifteen brethren besides the abbot and 
prior, and including the priors of the subordinate 
cells of Horton (Dorset) and Kidwelly (Caermar- 

That oft-quoted incident, the destruction or 
partial destruction of the abbey by fire in a riot 
in 1436, was the sequel of a violent and bitter 
dispute between the monks and townsmen as to 
their respective rights within the minster or con- 
ventual church of Sherborne, the mother church 
of the district, a portion of which, at the extremity 
of the nave, served the inhabitants as their parish 
church.*' The register of Bishop Neville sets 
forth the dispute in full, reciting the appeal of the 
abbot and convent to the diocesan against the 
parishioners, who, to the detriment and injury of 
the monastery, had set up a new font in their 
parish church, and had caused the monks much 
annoyance by ringing the parish bells for mattins 
at unreasonable hours. The bishop visited Sher- 
borne before taking steps, with the object of 
hearing both sides, and sitting in the hall of the 
abbot there appeared before him, 12 November, 
1436, John Bazet, John Kayleway, Richard 
Rochett, and John Sprotert on the part of and 
in the name of all the parishioners, who set before 
him their grievances, namely, that the monks 
had removed the font from its old position in the 
nave, and had narrowed the doorway in the in- 
termediate wall between the parishioners' portion 
and the body of the church by which the bap- 
tismal processions were wont to pass, and they 
prayed him to restore the font to its original 
place and all things to their ancient use. The 
bishop having heard all that could be said on the 
part of either disputants announced his decision, 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, i, fol. 178. 

" Ibid. Neville, fol. 88 a'. 

^'^ Ibid. Beauchamp, i (2), fol. 53. 

" Ibid. Audley, fol. 125. 

^ L. and P. Hen. nil, xiv (i), 336. 

*' Professor Willis in a paper on the minster or 
church of Sherborne says : — ' At the west end of the 
minster are fragments which clearly show that the nave 
was prolonged in the 1 4th century by a building closely 
resembling a parish church with 3 aisles, the plan of 
which can be pretty accurately traced. This is known 
as the church or chapel of Alhalowes.' j^rch. Journ. 
xxii, 180. 


decreeing in the first instance on behalf of the 
religious men, that the new font, ' which had been 
then newly and with daring rashness erected,' 
should be altogether destroyed, removed, and 
carried out of the church by those who had 
caused its erection, and that the bells of ' Alha- 
lowes ' should not be rung for mattins, except on 
the solemn feasts of All Saints, Christmas, Epi- 
phany, and Easter, until after the striking of the 
sixth hour by the clock of the monastery and not 
before ; on behalf of the inhabitants he ordered 
the font to be replaced in its old and accustomed 
place, and the door for the entrance of the pro- 
cession of the parishioners to the font to be enlarged 
and arched so as to give more space and restored 
to its previous form, the manner and form of the 
procession round the font to be still retained, and 
a partition to be made in the nave between the 
section of the monks and that of the parishioners 
at the expense of the monastery, the font to be 
replaced and the door enlarged by Christmas Day 
following, and all things to be inviolably ob- 
served by both parties under pain of the greater 
excommunication.™ Practical and wise as the 
bishop's decision sounds, it failed at the moment 
to soothe the bitter feelings which had been roused 
during the controversy, and a riot ensued, which is 
described by Leland in his account of Sherborne — 

The body of the abbay chirch dedicate to our 
Lady servid ontille a hundrith yeres syns for the 
chife paroche chirch of the town. This was the cause 
of the abolition of the paroche chirch there. The 
monkes and the townes men felle at variance by cause 
the townes men took privilege to use the sacrament of 
baptism in the chapelle of Alhalowes. Wherapon 
one Walter Gallor, a stoute bucher, dwelling yn Shir- 
burn, defacid clene the font-stone and after the 
variance growing to a playne sedition and the townes- 
menne by the meanesof an erle of Huntendune, lying 
yn those quarters and taking the tovvnes-mennes part, 
and the bishop of Saresbyri the monkes part, a prest 
of Alhalowes shot a shaft with fier into the toppe of 
that part of St. Marys chirch that divided the Est 
part that the monkes usid, from that the townes-men 
usid ; and this partition chauncing at that tyrae to be 
thakkid yn the rofe was sette afire and consequently al 
the hole chirch, the lede, and belles meltid, was 

The abbot at that time, William Bradford, 
' persecuted ' this injury, we are told, and the 
inhabitants of the town were forced to contribute 
to the ' re-edifying ' of their church.'^ 

For the remainder of the fifteenth century the 
community were fully occupied in the task of 
restoration. Henry VI at their petition granted 
a licence for them to acquire more lands to the 
yearly value of jTio in aid of rebuilding.'^ The 
east end of the church was rebuilt in the time 
of Abbot Bradford or of John Saunders his 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Neville, fol. 10% d. 
" Leland, Itln. ii, 48. " Ibid. 

" Pat. 24 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 6. 


successor.'* Peter Rampisham, elected in 1475 
built the west part ' not many yeres syns,' says 
Leland." From the time of the fire down to the 
Dissolution, when the abbey church was sold by 
Sir John Horsey to the parishioners, and the 
chapel was pulled down as being no longer 
required, Alhalowes' was legally and definitely 
assigned to the inhabitants of Sherborne as the 
parish church." The income of the abbey on 
the eve of the Reformation was declared by the 
Valor of 1535 at ;£682 14J. yf^. net." The 
churches in the possession of the monks included 
the parsonages of Bradford and Horton (Dorset), 
Carswell and Beer and Seaton (Devon);'' and 
among their temporalities were the manors of 
Stoke Abbott, Corscombe, Halstock, Bradford, 
Wyke, ' Stawell,' Thornford, O borne, Weston, 
and Stalbridge (Dorset), Carswell, Littleham 
and Exmouth, Beer and Seaton (Devon).'' The 
amount assigned for distribution in alms to the poor 
on the anniversary of founders, &c., shows that 
the brethren did not neglect one of the main 
duties of a religious community. In Thornford, 
assigned to the office of the almoner, there was a 
yearly charge of £6 6s. as follows : — 4.1. in bread 
distributed annually to the poor of Sherborne on 
the day of St. Cadast (?) for the soul of John Send 
(Saunde or Saunders), sometime abbot ; 6s. 8d. in 
bread distributed on the feast of St. Benedict for 
the soul of Alfric Thornecomb ; ;^5 in a daily 
distribution from the house of the almoner for 
the soul of the aforesaid Alfric ; 2s. in bread dis- 
tributed on Palm Sunday for the soul of Richard 
Chynnock ; 13;. 4^. in bread, ale, fish, and 
money distributed to the poor on Maundy 
Thursday for the soul of the aforesaid founder.'" 
From the rectory of Corscombe 2;. Sd. was 
assigned in bread to the poor at Sherborne for 
the soul of Ralph Vatrell on the feast of St. Peter 
and St. Paul.*' From the manor of Stalbridge a 
distribution of 2s. ^d. was yearly made to the poor 
for the soul of the mother of William de la Wyll 
by the foundation of the said William.*" The 
sum of ;^4 1 1;. was laid out in a distribution of 
bread for the soul of Peter Rampisham, late abbot 
of Sherborne, and 6s. 8d. for the soul of Roger 
Gylden ;*' on the feast of St. Bartholomew bread 

'* ' All the est parte of St. Mary Chirch was reedi- 
fied in abate Bradeford's tyme,' says Leland in one 
place, 'saving a chapelle of Our Lady, an olde peace of 
work that the fier came not to by reason that it was 
of an older building ' (//•/». ii, 48). In another place 
he says, ' Peter Ramsunne, next abbate save one to 
Bradaford, buildid al the west part of the chirch ' 
(ibid, iii, 90). 

" According to Leland the same abbot ' sette 
a chapelle caullid our lady of Bowe harde to the 
south side of the old Lady Chapplle ' (ii, 49). 

" From the parish register of Sherborne quoted by 
Dugdale, Mon. i, 335. 

" rahr Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 285. 

" Ibid. 281. " Ibid. 282-4. *° Ibid. 2. 

" Ibid. 282. *' Ibid. 286. *= Ibid. 284. 


to the value of 10;. was annually distributed for 
the soul of Robert Ayam, knt., and alms were daily 
distributed at the door of the refectory, called 
' le frayter,' for the soul of Philip, sometime abbot 
of Sherborne, viz. one loaf of monks' bread and 
a measure of ale, at a yearly charge of £^2 51. c^d^ 
Among the charges on the abbey was the sum 
of ySf. for the exhibition of three scholars in the 
grammar school of Sherborne of the foundation 
of Alfric Thornecomb,*' and ^^5 for a corrody 
for a person to be nominated from time to time 
by the king, and at that time held by William 

In the promotion of John Barnstable as abbot 
on the resignation of John Mere in 1535,** the 
policy of securing superiors unlikely to lend 
opposition to the new order of things is not 
far to seek. ' I thank you,' writes Sir John 
Horsey, to whom the dissolved abbey was after- 
wards granted, to Cromwell on 9 May from 
Sherborne, ' for offering my friend Dan John 
Barnstable to be abbot of Shyrborne on the 
resignation of Dan John Mere late abbot,' ' the 
monastery,' he adds, *are well pleased with the 
appointment.'*' The new abbot, in a letter to 
the ' Visitor General of the monasteries ' thanking 
him for his appointment, expresses his willing- 
ness to follow various directions as to the man- 
agement of the house,** his compliance receiving 
due reward in the measure of liberty allowed 
him.*' On the fall of the house 1 8 March, 1539, 
the abbot, who had surrendered with sixteen of 
his brethren, received a pension of ;^ioo, the 
priors of Horton and Kidwelly £% each, the sub- 
prior of Sherborne and another monk £1 each, 
seven of the brethren £6 13J. \d. each, and four 
monks £6 each.'" Henry VIII on 4 January, 
1540, made over to Sir John Horsey the house 
and site of the late dissolved monastery together 
with certain of its possessions.'' Sir John, on 
26 March following, sold to the parishioners of 
Sherborne, for the sum of 1 00 marks, the con- 
ventual church, which has from that time been the 
parish church of the town. 

Abbots of Sherborne" 

Thurstan, consecrated 1122'^ 
Peter, occurs about 1 142 '* 

«' Ibid. 285. »» Ibid. 

*^Z,. and P. Hen. Vll, viii, 852. John Mere 
secured a pension of ^^40 on his resignation. 

«' Ibid. 693. «* Ibid. 852. 

«' Ibid, ix, 256. » Ibid, xiv (i), 556. 

" Ibid. XV, 562. 

'' Of the early superiors of Sherborne who presided 
in the capacity of praepositu! primus or decanus over 
the secular canons, and on their removal as priors over 
the monks substituted in their place, no record seems 
left prior to the erection of Sherborne into an abbey in 
the year 1 122, when Thurstan was consecrated abbot. 
Cott. MS. Faust, ii, fol. 25 a'. 

*' Ibid. '* Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 232. 


Clement, occurs about i i6o '* 

Henry, occurs about 1 165 '" 

E., occurs in reign of Henry II" 

G., occurs in reign of Henry IP' 

Pliilip, occurs about 1217°' 

William of Tewkesbury '''*' 

Henry, elected 1227,'"' resigned 1242 

John de Hele, elected 1242'°'' 

Lawrence de Bradford, elected 1246'"' 

John de Saunde, elected I26i,died 1286'°* 

Hugh de Staplebridge, elected 1286,'°' died 

John Thornford, elected 1310,*"° died 1316 
Robert de Ramsbury, elected 1316,'"' died 

John de Compton, elected 1329,^"' died 1342 
John de Henton, elected 1342,'°' died 1348 
John de Frith, elected 1348 "" 
Edward Goude, elected 1371,""* died 1385 "' 
Robert Bruynyng, elected 1385,"" died 1415 
John Bruynyng, elected 1415,^'' died 1436 
William Bradford, elected 1436,'" died 1459 
John Saunders, elected 1459,'" died 1475 
Peter Rampisham, elected 1475,"^ died 1504 
John Mere, elected 1505,"' resigned 1535 
John Barnstable, elected 1535,^" surrendered 

the abbey 18 March, 1539^" 

'^ When he quitclaimed to Bishop Jocelin of Salis- 
bury and the cathedral church the castle of Sherborne 
(Reg. St. Osmund. [Rolls Ser.], i, 235). Willis gives the 
year 1163 ; Hist, of Mitred jibbeys, ii, 71. 

** About that date Jocelin, bishop of Salisbury, by 
charter to Henry the abbot and convent of Sherborne, 
recited the rights of the abbot as the holder of a pre- 
bend in the cathedral ; Reg. St. Osmund. (Rolls Ser.), i, 

" The abbots E. and G. occur in charters of 
Henry II, inspected and confirmed by Edward I ; 
Chart. R. 20 Edw. I, No. 3. »» Ibid. 

^ Reg. St. Osmund. (Rolls Ser.), {,265. 

'°° Hutchins, without a date (Hist, oj Dorset, iv, 
232) from the Kennett MS. 

"" Pat. II Hen. Ill, m. 15. 

"" Ibid. 26 Hen. Ill, pt. 2, m. 2. 

'»' Ibid. 31 Hen. Ill, m. 9. 

"» Ibid. 14 Edw. I, m. 17. 

'»'Ibid. m. 12. 

'°* Ibid. 3 Edw. II, m. 6 ; Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon 
of Ghent, ii, fol. 89. 

"" Ibid. Mortival, i, fol. 182 ; Pat. 10 Edw. II, 
pt. I, m. 6. 

"« Ibid. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. I 5. 

■»' Ibid. 16 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 6. 

"" Ibid. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 10 ; Sarum Epis. 
Reg. Wyville, ii, fol. 1 98. 

""' Hutchins, op. cit. iv, 233. 

'" Pat. 9 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 39. 

'" Ibid. m. 40. 

'" Ibid. 2 Hen. V, pt. 3, m. 7. 

"* Ibid. 15 Hen. VI, m. 38. 

"' Sarum Epis. Reg. Beauchamp, i (2), fol. 53. 

'" Pat. 15 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 1. 

'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Audley, fol. 125. 

"» L. and P. Hen. Vlll, viii, 802 (27). 

'" Ibid, xiv (I), 556. 

An eleventh-century seal of the monastery 
(round) gives a fine impression of the abbey 
church from the north with apse, towers, and 
porch ; the windows of the clearstory and towers 
and the doorway are round-headed.^^'* Legend : — 


A broken example of the above seal is to be 
found attached to the surrender deed of the abbey 
in I539."> 

The pointed oval seal of Abbot Clement 
(circa 1 160) represents St. Benedict, half-length, 
holding in his right hand a scroll inscribed : 
VERTITE FiLii AVDiTE ME. In bars under two 
round-headed arches are two half-length monks 
looking upward. '^^ 

The legend is defective owing to the edge of 
the seal being rubbed. 

. . . EMENTIS DE BVRN .... 

The seal of Abbot Laurence de Bradford 
(1246-59), pointed oval, the impression very 
imperfect, gives the abbot standing on a carved 
corbel, in his right hand a pastoral staff, in his 
left a book. The background diapered lozengy 
with a reticular pattern and small annular de- 
pression in each space. On the left is a counter- 
sunk quatrefoil containing a monk's head, the 
subject on the right corresponding is broken 


A small pointed oval seal, with very fine im- 
pression but imperfect, represents on a church 
with pinnacled turrets at the sides the Virgin, 
half-length, holding the Child on the right arm. 
In base, under a trefoiled arch, is an abbot with 
pastoral staff, half-length, in prayer.^^* 

The legend, which is defective, runs : — 



The signet of Abbot John de Flixton, attached 
to an indenture dated 1347, small, oval, chipped 
at the top, represents in a finely-carved and 
pointed quatrefoil St. Margaret standing on a 
dragon and piercing its head with a long cross 
held in her right hand."' 

The legend is partly defective : — 

.... [vJiRGO • VERMEM • J'VO[c]aNDO • 

The signet of Abbot John Frith attached to a 
deed dated i 37 1, red, represents in a finely-carved 
and pointed quatrefoil a dog sitting between two 



'» B.M. Seals, Ixii, 53. 

'" Deeds of Surrender, No. 112. 

'" B.M. Seals, Ixii, 54. 

'" Add. Chart. I 3969. 

"• B.M. Seals, Ixii, 55. 

"' Add. Chart. 6082. 

Ibid. 6083. 



The green pointed oval seal of William the 
prior, attached by a woven cord of red silk strands 
to a document dated 1242,^°' represents the prior 
full length, holding in his right hand a pastoral 
staff, in his left hand a book. The legend 
runs : — 



The monastery of Cranborne is said to have 
been founded as an abbey for Benedictine monks 
about the year 980.' The chronicle of Tewkes- 
bury describes its foundation and early connexion 
with the more widely-famous abbey in Glou- 
cestershire in the following manner : 

About the year 930, in the reign of King Athelstan, 
flourished a certain noble knight sprung of the 
illustrious stock of Edward the Elder and known by 
the name of Haylward Snevv on account of his fairness. 
And being not unmindful of his end, he built for him- 
self and yElfgifu his wife in the days of King Ethelred 
and St. Dunstan the archbishop a small monastery to 
the honour of God and Our Lord Jesus Christ, 
His Mother, and St. Bartholomew the Apostle, and 
endowed it with lands and possessions. And having 
assembled there brethren to serve under the obedience 
of an abbot according to the rule of St. Benedict, he 
made Tewkesbury, of which he was patron, wholly 
subject to it. These things were done about the 
year 980. And Haylward, having died and received 
burial in the church which he had built, was suc- 
ceeded by ^ his son, the father of Brihtric, who 
according to the vow of his parents ' amplified ' the 
church which they had begun.' 

' Subsequently,' pursues the chronicle — 

William Duke of Normandy acquired England, bring- 
ing with him Robert Fitz-Hamon, lord of Astremar- 
villa in Normandy, and Matilda the wife of the 
Conqueror hated the said Brihtric Snew or Meaw 
because when sent abroad on an embassy for the 
affairs of the realm he refused her hand in marriage. 
She afterwards married William, and h.iving sought 
opportunity stirred up the king's wrath against the 
Saxon nobleman so that he was seized by the king's 
order in the manor of Hanley (Worcestershire) and 
conveyed to Winchester, where he died and was buried 
leaving no heir.' 

'"Add. Chart. 20372. 

' Cott. MS. Cleop. C. iii, fol. 220. Dugdale 
mentions a tradition of a still earlier foundation, con- 
tained in an MS. in the Ashmolean Museum, ' de 
abbatiis et abbatibus Norman, et eorum fundatoribus,' 
which states that a college of six monies was built 
here in memory of the Britons who had here been 
slain. Mon. iv, 465. 

' Cott. MS. Clerp. C. iii, fol. 220. Freeman 
dismisses this pedigree with the remark that as ' a 
piece of chronology it attributes a wonderfully long 
life to the persons concerned ; ' Norman Cotiq. iv, 
App. T. p. 763. 

' Cott. MS. Cleop. C. iii, fol. 220. Freeman 
commenting on this ' legend,' which comes from the 
continuator of Wace and may be found in Ckiomqucs 

His estates were granted to Queen Matilda and 
subsequently to Robert Fitz Hamon, who, in the 
year 1 102, 'led by the Holy Spirit' and at the 
instigation of ' his good wife Sybil ' and of 
Ceroid, abbot of Cranborne, greatly enlarged the 
church of Tewkesbury and endowed it with 
further possessions ; and finding that the place 
enjoyed a more agreeable site and a more fertile 
soil he transferred the whole community from 
Cranborne thither, leaving only a prior and two 
monks that the memory of its founders might 
be held for ever in remembrance, and so, trans- 
forming the former abbey into a priory, he made 
it entirely subject to the abbey of Tewkesbury.* 
The regulations for the newly-constituted abbey 
drawn up by Abbot Ceroid in the year 1105, 
when the transference to Tewkesbury seems to 
have been finally completed, assigned the manor of 
Tarrant (Monkton) towards the improvement of 
the monks' food, the churches 'which had belonged 
to Robert the chaplain' towards their clothing, and 
the manor of Chettle in Dorset for almsgiving.' 
Previous to this removal the Domesday Survey 
of 1086, which separates the estates of Cran- 
borne from those of Tewkesbury, states that 
the church of St. Mary here held 2 carucates 
of land in Cillingham valued at 60;. in Edward 
the Confessor's time, but then worth 20J., 
Boveridge and Up Wimborne, both of which 
had been and were then worth iooj., Lestisford, 
half a hide in Langford in the parish of Framp- 
ton, and the manor of Tarrant Monkton, which 
had fallen in value from ;^I2 to £\0.^ Under 
the holding of the widow of Hugh Fitz Crip it 
is recorded that Hugh gave the church of St. 
Mary, Cranborne, a hide of land in Orchard for 
the good of her soul, and ' it is worth lOiJ A 
charter of Roger, bishop of Salisbury, confirmed 
to the abbey of Tewkesbury the gifts of Robert 
Fitz Hamon and his knights in the year 1109, 
including the church of St. Mary of Cranborne 
with all its appurtenances, and certain churches 
which had belonged to R[obert] the chaplain, 
viz., Pentridge, Ashmore, and Frome, with other 
tithes.* The Taxatio of 1 29 1 gives the abbey 
spiritualities valued at j^i I2j. from the churches 
of Belchalwell, Pentridge, and Langton Mat- 
ravers ;' those of the priory of Cranborne, amount- 
ing to £2 IS., consisted of a pension of Js. from 
the church of Sturminster Newton, 12s. from the 
church of Edmondsham, 25. from that of Wim- 
borne Karentham, and ;^i from the vicarage of 

Anglo-'Normandes (i, 73), says 'it has this much of 
corroboration from history that a portion of the lands 
of Brihtric did pass to Matilda'; Norman Conq. iv, 166. 

« Cott. MS. Cleop. C. iii, fol. 220. 

' Cott. MS. Cleop. A. vii, fol. 94^. The Annates 
of Winchester and Worcester are wrong in giving 
1086 as the year in which the removal of Tewkes- 
bury took place. Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 34 ; iv, 
373. ° Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 77^. 

' Ibid. 84. ' Cott. MS. Cleop. A. vii, fol. 75*. 

' Po^e Nici. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 178^, 179. 



Dewlish.'* The temporalities were all entered 
under Tewkesbury, and realized ^^25 I2j. 6d}^ 
From the date of its subjection to Tewkes- 
bury the history of the cell is all but entirely 
merged in that of the larger house, and save 
on one or two occasions, when the abbot is 
shown as keeping a watchful eye on his estate 
here lest any of his rights should be infringed 
by his powerful neighbour, the earl of Glou- 
cester,'^ references to it are brief and rare. We 
read that the body of Gilbert de Clare, earl of 
Gloucester, who died abroad in 1230, was con- 
veyed home for burial, and stopped at Cranborne 
on its way to Tewkesbury. '' The church was 
rebuilt in 1252 and dedicated to St. Mary and 
St. Bartholomew.'* Occasionally the prior acted as 
proxy or attorney for the abbot, as in 1 3 14 when he 
was appointed to do suit and service to the abbot 
of Glastonbury for lands held in his manor of 
Damerham (Wiltshire)." In the course of a dio- 
cesan visitation by the bishop in 1379 he was 
ordered lo appear in the church of Sonning the 
second Thursday after the Feast of St. Barnabas, 
prepared to exhibit the title deeds of the abbot 
and convent of Tewkesbury for their possessions 
in the Salisbury diocese.'^ Among tlie expenses 
charged on the priory in the Fa /or of 1535 is 
an entry of ~s. lod. due to the bishop of 
Salisbury for the triennial visitation of the church 
of Cranborne.'' In the course of the Hundred 
Years' War the prior was required, together with 
the abbots of Sherborne, Cerne, Bindon, and 
Abbotsbury, &c., to move nearer the sea-coast 
for the purpose of repelling invasion, under peril 
of being regarded as rebels and favourers of the 
enemy.'* Edward III in 1329 'out of affection 
for Peter de Broadway, prior of Cranborne,' 
granted a licence for the abbot and convent of 
Tewkesbury to acquire in mortmain lands not 
held in chief to the value of j^io ; three years 
later the prior of the subject-cell was induced 
to surrender this grant and another was obtained 
more specifically in favour of the parent house.'^ 

'" Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 178, 178^, 179. 

" Ibid. fol. 183, 18+. 

" Cott. MS. Cleop. A. vii, fol. 96-8 ; Jnn. Mon. 
(Rolls Ser.), i, 140, 144. 

'^ Ibid, i, 76. " Ibid, i, 149, 150. 

" Hoare, Modern Wilts. Hund. of S. Damerham, 30. 

"" Sarum Epls. Reg. Erghum, fol. 29. 

" Valor Ecd. (Rec. Com.), ii, 485. In 1433 a royal 
writ was issued desiring to be certified as to whether the 
prior and convent of Cranborne held and hold the 
parish church of Cranborne, what was the portion of 
the prior therein, and at what was it assessed in all 
clerical subsidies. The return stated that the church 
of Cranborne, with the chapel of Archnal, was appro- 
priated to the prior and convent, and taxed at 
25 mariis, the vicar of Cranborne was taxed at 
(}\ marks. Sarum Epis. Reg. Chandler, fol. 1 14. 

" Rymer, Foed. (Rec. Com.), ii, (2), 1062. 

" Pat. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 21 ; 6 Edw. Ill, 
pt. 3, m. 4. 

According to the Valor of 1535 the gross in- 
come of the priory at that time amounted to 
^55 6j. \d.; the expenses to £\-i i6f. 8i., 
including ^10 paid to the vicar of Cranborne 
for his stipend 'according to the composi- 
tion made by the ordinary,' and a yearly dis- 
tribution of lOj. in bread to the poor, for the 
soul of the founder ' Ailward Mayewe'; Henry 
Bromall was then prior.-" 

At the Dissolution the cell shared the fate of 
the abbey, which was surrendered to the king's 
commissioners 31 January, 1540. William 
Dydcottc, who in 1335 held the office of sacrist 
of Tewkesbury, received a pension of ^^lo as ths 
last prior of Cranborne." 

The manor of Cranborne Priory, pertaining; 
to the late abbey of Tewkesbury and rated at 
£\\ 13^. id.., was sold in the reign of Philip 
and Mary to Robert Freke at seventy-four years' 
purchase ; the manor, rectory, and advowson of 
the vicarage in the first year of Elizabeth were 
granted to Thomas Francis for life. Sub- 
sequently they were given by James I to Robert 
Cecil, earl of Salisbury, in the possession of whose 
family they still remain.'^ 

Priors of Cranborne 

Gerold, abbot of Cranborne, transferred the 

abbey to Tewkesbury i io2 ^^ 
Adam de Preston, died 1262^* 
Walter de Appleleigh, occurs 1314-' 
Peter de Broadway, occurs 1329 and 1332 ^^ 
Henry Bromall, occurs 1535^'^ 
William Dydcotte, last prior 1540 ■* 


(Cell to the abbey of Sherborne) 

The foundation of the Benedictine abbey, 
afterwards priory, of Horton is generally attribu- 
ted to Ordgar or Orgar, earl of Devon, the 
founder of Tavistock, who flourished in the 
reign of King Edgar and died in the year 971.' 

=" Valor Ecd. (Rec. Com.), ii, 485. 

" L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 49. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 382-3. 

'^ Jnn. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), i, 44. '* Ibid, i, 169. 

" Hoare, Modern Wilts. Hund. of S. Damerham, 30. 

'" Pat. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 21 ; 6 Edw. Ill, 
pt. 3, m. 4. 

" Valor Ecd. (Rec. Com.), ii, 485. 

" L. and P. Hen. VIII, xv, 49. 
' Hutchins gives the date of Horton as 961 {Hist, 
of Dorset, iii, 149), the same year in which Ordgar 
founded Tavistock according to Matthew of West- 
minster {Flores Hist. [Rolls Ser.], i, 508). Ordgar will 
always be remembered as the father of the notorious 
Queen Elfrida, who, after disposing of her first hus- 
band, became the wife of Edgar, and whom tradition 
has charged with the murder of her step-son Edward 
the Martyr. 



The account, however, of William of Malmes- 
bury, from which all subsequent accounts are 
drawn,' seems rather to imply that the abbey 
was the work of Ordulph or Edulph, son of 
Ordgar, and should consequently be dated a 
little later ; possibly the two accounts may be 
reconciled by supposing that it was begun by 
the elder man and carried on to completion by 
the younger in deference to his father's wishes. 
Horton, dedicated to St. VVolfrida, the mother 
of Edith abbess of Wilton, was situated, like 
Little Malvern and other foundations of that 
age, in the midst of forest ; ' centuries later 
Leland writes of the abbey as four miles distant 
from Wimborne ' much by woody ground.' * 

The earlier chronicler relates some of the 
stories that have been handed down anent the 
enormous strength and prowess of the younger 
founder, the giant Edulph,' but adds ' spite of 
this matchless physical strength death carried 
him off in the flower of his age, and he ordered 
that he should be buried at Horton.' Abbot 
Sihtric of Tavistock, however, foreseeing the 
advantage that would thence accrue to the 
smaller foundation, stepped in and ' by violence ' 
caused the body to be transferred to his own 
church where Earl Ordgar already lay buried. 

In all probability Horton shared the fate of 
Tavistock, which was destroyed in the Danish 
raid of 997.° To return to the account of 
William of Malmesbury, Abbot Sihtric added to 
his crime in robbing Horton of the body of Edulph 
by turning pirate in the reign of William the 
Conqueror, whereby he ' polluted religion ' and 
'defamed the church.'^ 

At the time of the Domesday Survey the 
abbey was in possession of the manor of Horton, 
which was taxed at 7 hides and valued at £4., 
' the king holds two of the best hides in the 
forest of Wimborne.'* The church would go 
with the possession of the manor as was then the 
custom and the monks held at the same time a 
little church or chapel {eccUs'iola) in Wimborne 
and land with two houses, the church of Holy 
Trinity, Wareham, and five houses paying a 
rent of 65</., and a house in Dorchester' besides 
estates in Devonshire. 

Among the changes in his diocese introduced by 
Roger, the great bishop of Salisbury and chan- 
cellor of Henry I, was the reduction of Horton 
from an abbey to a priory and its subsequent 
annexation as a subordinate cell to Sherborne, 
which in the same manner was raised to the 

' Will, of Malmes. Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 202-3. 

' Ibid. * Itln. iii, 73. 

' Will, of M.ilmes. Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Sen), 203. 

' Matt, of Westm. Floret Hut. (Rolls Ser.), i, 524. 

' Owing to a misreading of the text, the abbot in 
many accounts is charged with firing the church {infla- 
maz'it instead of inj'amavit). 

' Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, jU. 

' Ibid. 

position of an abbey, the transference taking 
place in 1 1 22 according to the Annalsof Margam,'" 
in 1 1 39 according to William of Malmesbury." 
By this change the lands and possessions of Horton 
passed over to Sherborne, as we may gather from 
a bull of Pope Eugenius III in 1 145 and again 
of Pope Alexander III in 1163, confirming the 
possessions of Sherborne and enumerating among 
them the manor and church of Horton with the 
adjacent chapel of Knowlton, the chapel of Holy 
Trinity, Wareham, and the church of St. Mary 
Wimborne.'^* The faxatio of 1 29 1 gives the prior 
of Horton temporalities at Horton valued at 
j^4 17J. 4^^.,^^ the church of Horton belonging 
to Sherborne was valued at ;^io, the endowment 
of the vicarage amounting to £s-^* In I535 
the rectory was not worth more than £<) 5/. 4^., 
the vicar only receiving 17$. j^d. ; ^' the gross 
value of the manor at that time was returned at 
j^22 10s. 6d., out of which 2s. was paid to the 
hundred court, and a fee of l6s. Sd. to Giles 
Strangweys, knt., steward of the manor." 

From the date of its annexation to Sherborne 
the priory sinks into that obscurity mostly at- 
tending the existence of small dependent cells 
from which it rarely emerges.^' In April 1286 
we read that simple protection, until the Feast of 
St. Peter ad Vincula, was granted to Hugh prior 
of Horton, going beyond seas, and appointing 
John de Chegy and Henry son of William de 
Horton his attorneys during his absence.'* A 
commission was issued in February, 1348,00 the 
complaint of Alesia countess of Lincoln, that the 
abbots of Sherborne and Milton, John de Brade- 
ford, prior of Horton, and others, had broken 
her park at Kingston Lacy, cut down her trees 
and hunted her deer.'' Again in 1401 dispen- 
sation was granted to John Cosyn, Benedictine 
prior of Horton, ' who is also a monk of Sher- 
borne,' to hold another benefice, office, dignity. 

" Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), i, 10. 

" Cott. MS. Faust. A. ii. The account given 
by the chronicler in his Hisloria Novella (Rolls 
Ser.), ii, 559, is that Roger of Salisbury first destroyed 
Horton and then added it to Sherborne ; he may be 
expressing the same thing in his other account of 
Horton which speaks of the abbey so being </«/ri!)r<i' 
at the time in which he was writing the Gesta Pontif. 
(Rolls Ser. 202), meaning that the status of Horton 
as an abbey had been done aw.-iy with and not that 
its existence had ceased. 

" Dugdale, Mon. under Sherborne, i, Nos. v, ri, 

" Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 184^. 

"Ibid. 174*. 

•' Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 1, 281. 

'= Ibid. 287. 

" Various references given by Tanner under this 
house belong to Monks Horton, a Cluniac foundation 
cell to Lewes with which the Dorset Horton is 
frequently confounded. 

" Pat. 14 Edw. I, m. 18, 19. 

" Ibid. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 43 d. 


or priory of the same or another order and to 
resign it in exchange for another as often as he 

At the Dissolution the abbey of Sherborne was 
surrendered to the king on i8 March, 1339, the 
deed being signed among others ' per me John 
Hart,'^' the same John Hart or Herte alias Ray- 
nold, prior of Horton, receiving a pension of 
;^8.'' The manors, together with the site of the 
priory, the rectory and advowson of the vicarage, 
were granted in the first year of Edward VI 

to Edward duke of Somerset, and on his attain- 
der to the earl of Pembroke.^' 

Priors of Hoijton " 
Hugh, occurs 1286" 
John de Bradeford, occurs 1348"^ 
John Cosyn, occurs 1401 "' 
Henry Trew, occurs 1459-60^' 
John Dorchester, occurs 1504^^ 
John Hart or Herte alias Raynold, occurs on 
its surrender, 1539'° 



The Benedictine nunnery of Shaftesbury is 
generally, though not universally, ascribed to the 
foundation of Alfred the Great * about the year 
888;^ the king, by his charter in honour of 
God the Blessed Virgin and all the saints, con- 
ferring on the nunnery, over which his daughter 
Elfgiva, jEthelgeofu or Algiva, presided as abbess, 
100 hides of land as an endowment, consisting 
of 40 hides at Donhead St. Andrew, and Comp- 
ton Bassett (Wiltshire), 20 hides at Handley and 
Gussage, ID hides at Tarrant, 15 hides at 
Iwerne Minster and 15 at Fontmell.' 

This nucleus was much increased by the 
grants of Alfred's successors ; from ^thelstan 
in 932 the nuns obtained 4^ carucates of land at 
Fontmell on condition that they should sing psalms 
for the redemption of his soul ^ and by another 
charter in 935 land at Tarrant in Pimperne 
Hundred.' Edmund in 942 gave to the religious 
woman Wenflede the land of twenty manses at 
Cheselbourne ; * Eadred in 948 land in Purbeck 

*• Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 362. 

" P.R.O. Deeds of Surrender, No. 40. 

" L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiv (i), 556. 

*' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 143. 

" Very few of these can be recovered, the prior was 
' dative and removeable ' by the abbey, consequent!)- 
his appointment is never recorded in the episcopal 
registers or in the patent rolls. Dugdale only gives 
the names of two. 

" Pat. 14 Edw. I, m. 18, 19. 

'" Ibid. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 43 d. 

" Cal. Pap. Letters, v, 362. 

"Dugdale, Mon. ii, 511. " Ibid. 

™ P.R.O. Deeds of Surrender, No. 40 ; L. and P. 
Hen. Vlll, xiv (i), 556. 

' Will, of Malmes. Gesta Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 131 ; 
Matt, of VVestm. Flores Hist. (Rolls Ser.), i, 468 ; 
Leiand, Coll. i, 26; Leland, however, in another place 
(ibid, i, 67) speaks of .^thelbald, the son of .iEthelwulf 
of Wessex, as the founder, and his brothers .iEthelbert, 
./Ethelred, and Alfred as co-founders. In various 
other passages the above authorities ascribe the founda- 
tion to St. Elgiva, wife of King Edmund, with her 
husband a great benefactor of the abbey (Will, of 

2 7 

to the religious woman ^Elfthrith ; ' Edwy be- 
stowed on the nunnery in 956 for the love of 
Christ the land of 80 manses at Donhead St. 
Andrew, Easton Bassett (Wiltshire), Compton 
Abbas, Handley and Iwerne Minster (Dorset).' 
Edgar confirmed and renewed to the chuich 
and nuns of Shaftesbury in 966 ten cassates 
of land at Piddle formerly granted to them 
by his grandmother Wenflede, the record of 
which through carelessness had been lost.' 
.(Ethelred 'the unrede ' gave in 984 the land 
of twenty manses at Tisbury (Wiltshire),''' and 
by another charter in looi bestowed on the 
church of St. Edward the vill and monastery of 
Bradford (Wiltshire) to be subject to the nuns, that 
with the relics of the Blessed Martyr (King 
Edward) and other saints they might find there a 
refuge against the attacks of the Danes, the king 
stipulating that on the restoration of peace and 
tranquillity when the sisters returned to their 
ancient home they should leave behind at Brad- 
ford a sufficient community, according as the prior 
should think fit, for its monastic state to be main- 
tained.'' The chartulary of the monastery 
records that in 1019 Canute, who died here in 
1035,'^ made a grant of si.xteen cassates of land 

Malmes. Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 186-7; Matt, of 
Westm. op. cit. i, 455 ; Leland, op. cit. ii, 252 . 
It may be that the similarity in the name of the first 
abbess, Alfred's daughter, and that of the benefactress 
who followed her and was buried in the abbey, has 
led to this confusion as to the founder. 

' Asser, De rebus gestis JElfredi (Camd. Soc), 19 ; 
Sim. of Durham, Opera (Twysden), 150 ; Leland, 
Coll. iii, 71. 

' Birch, Cart. Sax. ii, 148. The date, however, 
871, generally ascribed to this charter is some years 
previous to that usually given for the foundation of 

• Ibid, ii, 383 ; Had. MS. 61, foL i I. 

* Ibid. fol. 15 ; Cart. Sax. ii, 414. 
' Ibid. 509 ; Harl. MS. 61, fol. 7. 
' Ibid. fol. 4. 

' Ibid. fol. 20</. ; Cart. Sax. iii, 158. 

' Ibid, iii, 449 ; Harl. MS. 61, fol. 13 d. 

'" Ibid. fol. 2. " Ibid. fol. I. 

" Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 128. 

3 10 


at Cheselbourne to his servant Agemund with 
the object of their ultimate reversion to the 

During the first century of its existence the 
abbey appears under the dedication of the Blessed 
Virgin, but after the translation to Shaftesbury 
of the body of Edv/ard the Martyr, murdered in 
978," it was called after him and became popu- 
larly known as St. Edward's ; the earlier dedica- 
tion, however, was never formally dropped and 
the house frequently occurs, as in the Domesday 
Survey, under the dedication of both St. Mary 
and St. Edward.'' 

According to the Survey of 1 086 the abbey 
at that time held the following lands : 15^ hides 
at Felpham in Sussex ; ^^ 5 hides at Beeching- 
stoke ; 10 at Tisbury ; 40 at Donhead ; 42 at 
Bradford ; 7 at Alvediston ; 38 at Liddington ; 
and 20 at Downton (Domnitone) in the county of 
Wilts ;" 5 hides at Combe, and a rent of 50^. 
paid by six burgesses of Milborne in the county 
of Somerset ; ^' in this county the possessions of 
the nuns were as follows : 20 hides at Handley ; 
8 at Hinton St. Mary ; 17 at Stour ; 15 at Font- 
mell ; 10 at Compton Abbas ; 10 at Melbury ; 
18 at Iwerne Minster; 10 at Tarrant; 5 at 
Fifehead ; lO at Kingston; l at Farnham ; 5 
at Stoke ; 1 1 at Mapperton and 10 at Chesel- 
bourne." In the time of Edward the Confessor 
the abbess had 153 houses in the town of 
Shaftesbury, now owing to the destruction of 
forty-two she only had 1 1 1, she also held at the 
time the Survey was taken 15 1 burgesses in the 
same town, twenty vacant houses and a garden.-" 
A great increase in the value of the manors had 
taken place since Edward the Confessor's time 
and Domesday records that William the Con- 
queror had given the church of Gillingham to 
the nuns in place of a hide of their manor of 
Kingston on which he had built his castle of 
Wareham, and had restored to them the manors 
of Cheselbourne and Stour, of which they had 
been robbed by Earl Harold, on the production 
of a writ by the late king ordering their restora- 
tion together with the manor of Melcombe, 
which the Conqueror still retained for himself. 
Puddle was another manor that had been seized 
by the late earl."' 

The Norman and Plantagenet kings by their 
gifts and privileges added enormously to the 
power and wealth already enjoyed by this richly- 

" Harl. MS. 61, fol. 8. 

'* Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), 102 ; Leland, 
Coll. i, 219 ; ii, 252. 

" The possessions of the .ibbey for instance in 
Sussex and Somerset are entered under ' Terra Sancti 
Edwardi,' in Wilts and Dorset under ' ecclesia S. 
Mariae Sceptesberiensis.' 

'« Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, i -jb. 

" Ibid, i, fol. 6ji. 

'« Ibid, i, fol. 91. "Ibid, i, fol. 75. 

•» Ibid. " Ibid. 

endowed house."' William Rufus in 1090 
confirmed to the church of St. Mary and 
St. Edward and to Eulalia the abbess various 
grants by different persons, each grantor bestow- 
ing a daughter as a nun in the house as a con- 
dition of his gift.^' Henry I confirmed the 
manor of Donhead to the nuns ' for their 
clothing ' to be held quit of all geld and tax, 
pleas of the hundred, suits and quarrels save for 
murder and theft." Stephen by his charter 
confirmed the lands which Emma the abbess 
had proved to belong to the abbey in the pre- 
sence of Henry I and his barons.'* Henry II 
took the community under his special protection 
and made them free of all toll and passage."' 
Richard I in the first year of his reign granted 
to the abbey, and especially to the abbess Mary, 
the privilege of the hundred in their manor of 
Bradford.-' John count of Mortain gave the 
nuns, at the special request ' of my dearest 
friend the abbess Mary ' of Shaftesbury, two loads 
of brushwood daily in his manor of Gillingham."' 
The abbess received from Henry III a charter 
for wreck of the sea in her manor of Kingston,"® 
licence to hold a market and two fairs at Kint- 
bury (Berkshire),'" and right of free warren over 
her lands at Barton, Cheselbourne, Aimer and 
Caundle (Dorset), Donhead, Tisbury and Brad- 
ford (Wiltshire), and Felpham (Sussex)." Ed- 
ward I by letters patent in 1290 licensed the 
alienation to the abbey by Edward de Manneston 
of land and two messuages in Donhead and Tis- 
bury,'" and on payment of a fine in 1 304 
allowed the nuns to acquire the manor of Stour 
by feoffment of Ralph Wake.'' By licence of 
Edward II in 131 8 Stephen Pruet, parson of 
Compton Abbas, bestowed on the convent 20s. 
yearly rent out of Donhead (Wiltshire) for the 
provision of a light to burn through the night 
in the cloister of their abbey.'* Edward III in 
1337 gave a licence for the sisters to acquire 
more land to the value of ;^I0 yearly." The 
king in 1340 after an inquisition confirmed to 
them the right to have four horse-loads of brush- 

" A summary of the charters contained in the re- 
gister of Shaftesbury (Harl. MS. 61) is given by 
Dugdale, Mon. ii, 68. 

» H.irl. MS. 61, fol. 23. " Ibid. fol. 24. 

»»Ibid. " Ibid. fol. 25. 

" Ibid. fol. 26. " Ibid. fol. 27. 

" Pat. 54 Hen. Ill, No. 50. Confirmed by 
Edward IV ; ibid. 21 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. 11. 

»" Chart. R. 52 Hen. Ill, n. 12. 

" Ibid. 22 Edw. I. 

" Pat. 18 Edw. I, m. II. 

" Ibid. 32 Edw. I, m. 16. 

" Ibid. II Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 32. 

'' Ibid. II Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 32. In part satis- 
faction of this grant they obtained in 1348 lands 
and messuages in Shaftesbur)-, Cann, Gussage St. An- 
drew and Minchington (Dorset), Ke!ston (Somerset), 
and Donhead St. M,.ry and St. Andrew (Wilts). 
Ibid. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13. 



wood daily except Sunday from the forest of 
Gillingham.'^ Hugh le Despenser in 1343 be- 
stowed a yearly rent of 10 marks from the 
manor of Broad Town (Wiltshire) for the life- 
time of his sister Joan, a nun in the abbey,^' 
and the following year the community obtained 
in proprtos usus the church of Felpham (Sussex) 
of their advowson.'^ The abbess was allowed 
in 1368 to crenellate the abbey for the purpose 
of defence.'^ At the beginning of the fifteenth 
century the convent obtained from Henry IV 
letters patent inspecting and confirming the 
charters granted to them by his predecessors,'*" 
and in 1481 Edward IV inspected and confirmed 
by his letters patent a grant of Henry III for 
wreck of the sea in their manor of Kingston.''^ 

That popular form of religious endowment, 
the foundation of chantries, was the object of 
many additional grants to the abbey in the four- 
teenth century. In 1326, and again in the first 
year of Edward III, the community acquired 
two messuages in Shaftesbury in aid of the 
maintenance of a chaplain who should celebrate 
daily in the church of St. Mary and St. Edward 
for the souls of Edward I and all the faithful de- 
parted.*^ In 1330 Walter Hervy obtained a 
licence for the alienation of a toft and 8 acres 
of land in Shaftesbury for the provision of a 
chaplain to officiate daily at the altar of St. Anne 
in the conventual church ; *^ by another licence 
in 1334 three messuages, 26 acres of land, and 
4 acres of meadow in the town were alienated 
for the maintenance of a chaplain to celebrate 
daily for the souls of Sibyl Cokyn, Thomas de 
Hacche, John Kokyn, and Agnes de Hacche, 
their ancestors and heirs, at the altar of 
St. Thomas the Apostle.*'' Richard Poinz in 
1340 made over a rent of l^s. for the provision 
of a chaplain who should celebrate daily in the 
church for his soul and the souls of his an- 
cestors;" and in 1342 a chantry was founded at 
the altar of St. Nicholas for the good estate of 
Thomas Platel of Shaftesbury and Alice his wife 
and for their souls after death, and the souls of 
their ancestors, heirs, and benefactors.^' The 

'= Pat. 14 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 6. 

" Ibid. 17 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 3. 

»Mbid. 1 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 15. 

°' Ibid. 42 Edw. I, pt. I, m. 25. A complaint was 
made by the abbess and the icing's tenants of Shaftes- 
bury in 1 341 that many evil-doers and breakers of the 
peace were going about armed, robbing and killing 
their servants, and that no remedy had been provided 
hitherto. Ibid. 15 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 45. 

" Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 3, m. 20 ; 4 Hen. IV, 
pt. 2, m. 23. 

" Ibid. 21 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. II. 

" Ibid. 19 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 2 ; ibid. I Edw. Ill, 
pt. 2, m. 23. 

" Ibid. 4 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 18. 

" Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 21. 

*■" Ibid. 14 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 20. 

'« Ibid. 16 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 32. 

priest serving the chantry at the altar of Holy 
Cross was in 1364 transferred by the bishop to 
the church of Holy Trinity within the church- 
yard of the monastery, and inducted therein as 
perpetual chaplain with a fit salary assigned.*' 
Various other chantries were established tc com- 
memorate the souls of certain of the abbesses.''* 
In the episcopal registers mention is made of the 
chantry of St. Edward within the abbey," and 
the chantry commissioners of Edward VI in 
the sixteenth century made a return of three 
chantries at Shaftesbury : St. Catherine's at the 
altar of St. Catherine, St. John Baptist, and the 
chantry of St. Anne de la Gore in the chapel 
of that name within the parish of St. James."* 
The abbess and convent were granted in 1386 
reversion of the manor of Brydesyerd for the 
support of a chaplain officiating in a place called 
'leBelhous' in Shaftesbury and of the twelve 
poor inmates there.'^ In the Valor of 1535 
various sums were assigned by the community 
in support of these twelve poor men in the 
' Maudelyn ' or ' Belhous ' of Shaftesbury, who 
in return for their maintenance were bound to 
pray for the founders of the monastery. ^^ 

The endowment of the monastery was so con- 
siderable and the extent of its possessions so vast 
that in the Middle Ages there was a popular 
saying, 'If the abbot of Glastonbury could marry 
the abbess of Shaftesbury their heir would hold 
more land than the king of England.' '' In the 
reign of Henry II the holding of the abbess was 
assessed at the service of seven knights,^' three 
of whom appear to have represented her fees in 
Dorset and Somerset and four those in Wiltshire.^* 
In II 66 she certified the king by charter that 
the seven knights she was bound to find for his 
service were as follows : Earl Patrick one fee, 
Anselin Mauduit, Jordan de Necche, and Thur- 
stan de Huseldure a fee each, Robert Fitz- 
Peter and Roger de Thoka held the fifth fee, 
and the sixth and seventh were held ' against the 
convent ' by Roger de Newburgh, who in addi- 
tion held Aimer at a rent of 40J. and said that 
he ought to hold it for half a fee, which how- 
ever the abbess declared William de Glastonia 
never did ; twelve other tenants held various 
fractions of fees.*' Henry III by charter of 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. 'Wyville, fol. 315. See Pat. 
41 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 16. 

*' Dionysia le Blunde, Cecilia Fovent, Edith Bon- 
ham, and Margaret St. John. Hutchins, Hist, of 
Dorset, iii, 36. 

" According to an institution in Bishop Chandler's 
register (fol. 44) the chantry of Edward, King and 
Martyr, was founded at the .iltar of St. Nicholas. 

" Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, Nos. 1 7- 1 9, 95-7- 

*' Pat. 9 Rich. II, pt. 2, m. 31. 

" Fahr Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 280. 

" Fuller, Church Hist, iii, 332. 

" Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 27, 33, 43, 
54, 80. 

"Ibid. 64, 65. "Ibid. I, 214. 



4 May, 1233, released to the Abbess Amicia 
and her successors the demand made by the king 
and his ancestors of the service of three knights 
and the fourth part and sixth part of a fee in 
addition to the seven already enumerated, ordain- 
ing that in future the said abbess should be 
accountable only for the service of seven knights, 
which she admitted to be due." At the close 
of the thirteenth century the Taxatio assessed 
the temporalities of the abbey in the diocese of 
Salisbury at ;^5o6 14^,'* in the diocese of Chi- 
chester at ;^50,'' and ^^33 in the diocese of 
Bath and Wells.^" The spiritualities of the 
convent, reckoned only at;^i4, consisted of pen- 
sions from the churches of St. James, Shaftes- 
bury, Tisbury, and Bradford.*' The power and 
influence in the district possessed by the abbess 
can have been only less than supreme ; to her 
belonged a moiety of the manor of Shaftesbury — 
the other half pertaining to the king*^ — and 
the custody of the vill for which she paid a 
\ fee farm of j^i2.*' The patronage in her 
hands and those of the community was above 
that of any other religious house in the county ; 
in addition to the presentation of all the churches 
in Shaftesbury, at that time numbering twelve 
with the abbey, and the advowson of the hos- 
pital of St. John super montem, she had within 
her gift the four prebends or portions for secular 
priests within the conventual church, viz., 
Iwerne Minster, Gillingham, Liddington, and 
Fontmell, the appointment of the various chap- 
lains officiating at the different chantries, and 
the presentation to the office of deacon of the 
high altar within the church, collation to which 
fell to the crown in the vacancy of the abbey .^ 
In the return of church property of 1535 the 
receipts and disbursements are entered of an 
official appointed by the abbess and removable 
at her will, William Breton, clerk, who held the 
office of sacrist of the abbey and to whom was 
assigned certain rents for the maintenance and 
repair of the church, the provision of bread, wine, 
and other necessaries for the celebration of 
divine offices, and the payment of salaries and 
pensions for certain priests officiating in the 

On the eve of the Dissolution the net income 
of the abbey was assessed at ^^ 1,3 29 if. -T^d. ; '* 
the spiritualities of the community included the 
parsonages of Bradford and Tisbury and tithes 
from Barton,*' their temporalities the manors 

" Chart. R. 17 Hen. Ill, m. 10. 

"^ Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 183. " Ibid. 1 39. 

^Ibid. 203. «' Ibid. 178, 180-1. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 11-13. 

''In 1 39 1 Richard II made a life-grant to John Rods 
of this fee farm paid by the abbess for the town. 
Pat. 14 Rich. II, pt. I, m. 30. 

" Ibid. 18 Rich, II, pt. I, m. 10. 

" Falor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 280. 

" Ibid. " Ibid. 276. 

of Barton, Downton, Fontmell, Tarrant, Lid- 
dington (Wiltshire), Hinton, Felpham (Sussex), 
Kingston, Donhead (Wiltshire), Stour, Tisbury 
(Wiltshire), Cheselbourne, Combe (Somerset), 
Caundle, ' Arne,' ' Kulmyngton,' Handley, Mel- 
bury, Sedgehill (Wiltshire), Berwick (Wiltshire), 
Aimer, Iwerne Minster and Kelston (Som- 
erset). ** But if the revenues of the abbey were 
enormous,*^ the charges on the house were by 
no means trifling, and the management of so 
vast an estate and the direction of so large a 
community called for powers of government and 
organization which it is more than probable 
every abbess did not possess. Whether the diffi- 
culties that arose were due mainly to the too 
frequent absence of these qualities or sprang 
from other causes the fact remains that from the 
fourteenth century, and even earlier, onwards, 
the house with every outward sign and manifes- 
tation of wealth and influence was continuously 
crippled by insufficient means and its existence 
chequered by the constant recurrence of debt 
and insolvency. As regards the charges on the 
house, the abbess was summoned by writ to 
furnish soldiers for the field in proportion to the 
number of her fees ;"* the summons to Parliament, 
to which by tenure she was entitled, was omitted 
on the ground of her sex. The convent, in 
common with the majority of houses under the 
royal patronage, was called on to provide mainten- 
ance for boarders at the king's presentation,'' 
and was expected on the occasion of the new 
creation of an abbess to furnish a pension for a 
clerk at the royal appointment.'^ In addition 
the king claimed a right to present a nun on 
the occasion of the voidance of the abbey," 
and the episcopal registers record that the bishop 
of Salisbury, on his promotion to the see, had the 
right of placing an inmate in the house and of 
appointing one of the nuns to act as her instruc- 
tor.'* Henry V, in the first year of his reign, 
presented lodonia Wodehill to the convent in 
accordance with his prerogative to nominate a 
nun to the abbey on his coronation." Henry VI, 
in 1480, recalling this ancient privilege, presented 

«* Ibid. 276-9. 

^' The contrast between the wealth of Shaftesbury 
and that of all the other houses in the county is per- 
haps most vividly brought home to us when we read 
the list of grants made by the spirituality in 1 527 
towards the king's expenses in the recovery of the 
crown of France ; Shaftesbury, like Glastonbury, 
contributed j{^ 1,000, double the contribution of the 
chapter of Salisbury and ten times the amount paid 
by Sherborne. L. and P. Hen. Fill, iii, 2483. 

" Pari. Writs (Rec. Com.), ii, dlv. 3, 1424. 

" Close, 4 Edw. II, m. 25 a-.; 1 8 Edw. II, m. 5 </.; 
13 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. \6d. 

" Ibid. 19 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. l^d. 

" Ibid. pt. 2, m. 17. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mitford, fol. 139 ; Neville, 
fol. 51a'.; Blyth, fol. 40. 

" R) mer, Foed. ix, 11. 



Joan Archcombe, 'of good life and honest con- 
versation ; ' in like manner/^ Richard III in his 
first year issued letters of recommendation for 
Elizabeth Bryther to be the king's ' mynchyne ' 
at Shaftesbury." 

One of the causes contributing to the troubles 
of the monastery was the excessive number of 
its inmates. The pope, whose attention in 1217 
was directed to the abbey by an appeal made to 
him in connexion with a disputed election,'* in 
1218 forbad the community to admit nuns be- 
yond the number of a hundred, on the ground 
that they were unable to support more or to give 
alms to the poor.'' Evidently the decree was not 
observed, for in 1322 the bishop of Salisbury, after 
a recent visitation of the house, wrote to the abbess 
and convent pointing out that they had neg- 
lected the order of the Holy Father, that the in- 
mates of the house were far too many for its goods 
to support, and forbidding them to admit more 
until the state of the abbey had been relieved.*" 
Four years later, in response to a petition from the 
abbess asking him to fix a statutory number, 
the bishop issued an order stating that the house 
was capable of maintaining 120 nuns and no 
more, and until the community had been re- 
duced to that number the abbess and convent 
should not receive any more inmates.'^ It is 
evident that this number became considerably 
reduced a century later. The voting body at 
the election of Edith Bonham in 1 44 1 consisted 
of forty-one professed sisters and fourteen await- 
ing profession [tacite professae) ; *' the total num- 
ber at the election of Margaret St. John in 1460 
was fifty-one ; *' at the election of Margaret 
Twyneo in 1496 twenty-five professed sisters 
and eleven not yet professed are mentioned ;** 
at the election of Elizabeth Shelford, 1504, 
twenty-eight professed and twenty-two tacitly 
professed voted.*' The surrender deed of the 
abbey on its dissolution gives the names of fifty- 
five sisters besides the abbess and prioress.*^ 

The usual expedients were adopted in order to 
relieve the financial difficulties of the abbey. 
The sisters, after a petition setting forth the charges 

" Rymer, Foed. x, 4 38. 

" Harl. MS. 433, fol. zzJ. 

" Three judges were appointed by the pope to 
examine the case of A., nun of St. Edward's, who, as 
she declared, having been elected abbess was forced 
by her electors to renounce the right of her election. 
The case having been tried, however, the pope, on 
the petition of J., abbess of Shaftesbury, ordered the 
bishop of Salisbury, the prior of Amcsbury, and the 
chancellor of Salisbury to impose silence on the said 
A., sacristan of the place, whose claim was found to 
be void. Cal. Pap. Letters, i, 49, 61. 

"Ibid. SI. 

*" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, fol. 140. 

" Ibid. pt. 2, fol. 231. «' Ibid. Aiscough, fol. 10. 

** Ibid. Beauchamp, i, fol. 34. 

" Ibid. Blyth, fol. 95. '" Ibid. Audley, 126-7. 

" L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (i), 586. 

incumbent on them for the maintenance of the 
statutory number of 120 nuns and the exercise 
of hospitality, as well as the losses they had in- 
curred through the inundation of their lands, 
obtained a bull from the pope in 1343 appro- 
priating to their use the church of Bradford of 
their advowson." Edward III in 1365, by a 
charter reciting the reduction of the house by 
tempestuous winds, pestilences, and other ad- 
versities, so that its means barely sufficed to 
support the community or to meet the charges 
incumbent on them, granted to the prioress and 
nuns the custody of the temporalities of the 
abbey on the occasion of its next voidance by 
the death of Abbess Joan Formage.** In 1380 
the sisters were allowed, in consideration of the 
damage to their lands by encroachments of the 
sea and losses of sheep and cattle, to appropriate 
to themselves the church of Tisbury, the advow- 
son of which already belonged to them.*' About 
the same time Bishop Erghum made an ordina- 
tion assigning a weekly allowance of 2d. to each 
nun from the issues of the house with the object 
of reducing as far as possible the expenditure ot 
the community.'" The convent in 1382 pe- 
titioned Richard II that, whereas they could 
not hold out another year against their in- 
debtedness unless some remedy were provided, 
the king would on all future occasions of a 
voidance in the abbey allow the community to 
retain the temporalities in their own hands 
(saving to the king knights' fees and advowsons), 
rendering an account of the same to the Ex- 
chequer for a year or any part of a year.'' Bishop 
Aiscough in the fifteenth century sanctioned 
the appropriation of the church of Gillingham to 
the abbey, which, through pestilence, failure of 
crops, want of labourers ' and their excessive de- 
mands,' was said to be much reduced.'^ 

To focuss the various references to Shaftes- 
bury in the episcopal registers so as to gain 
some idea of the state of the monastery, apart 
from its financial condition and worldly standing, 
is a task of extreme difficulty. Incidents that 
illustrate the inevitable defects and shortcomings 
of a house are calculated to mislead in many 
instances, and doubly so if accepted as repre- 
senting the normal state of affairs in connexion 
with a community of the size and importance 

" Cal. Pap. Letters, iii, 137. This grant was con- 
firmed by the bishop, and received the royal sanction ; 
Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, i, fol. 1 3 2 <«'. ; Pat. 2 3 
Edw. Ill, pt. 1, m. 17. 

"* Harl. MS. 61, fol. 116. A grant of the custody 
during voidance was first obtained by the nuns from 
Edward I in 1285, on payment of a fine of X'°° 
(Close, 13 Edw. I, m. 3 ; 14 Edw. I, m. 8). It 
became the usual custom, but a confirmation of the 
grant was generally obtained on every separate occasion. 

*' Pat. 3 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. 14 ; Sarum Epis. Reg. 
Erghum, fol. 41. " Ibid. fol. 44. 

" Par!. R. (Rec. Com.), iii, I 29. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough, fol. 60. 



of the abbey of St. Edward.'^ The house 
was visited from time to time by the bishop of 
Salisbury or his commissary ; he received the 
profession of canonical obedience from the abbess, 
and bestowed the benediction on her election. 
The episcopal registers record the appointment 
by him of confessors to the abbey and the recep- 
tion of the profession of the nuns. An order 
was sent in 1298 to Robert, rector of the church 
of Donington, desiring him to enforce suitable 
penance to the abbess and nuns of Shaftesbury, 
who, ' for their offences against God and by the 
creation of scandal,' had incurred sentence of 
excommunication.'* A copy of the edict of 
Pope Boniface for the stricter inclosure of nuns 
was forwarded to the sisters at the beginning of 
the fourteenth century by Simon of Ghent, who 
announced that by the ' new constitution ' he was 
bound to visit yearly the nuns subject to his 
authority.'' The abbess, after a visitation in 
1309, was strictly admonished not to allow the 
sisters to go out into the town of Shaftesbury 
save under special conditions, ' lest scandal enter 
in and not without negligence on your part.' '^ 
Further, one of the nuns, Christina Baryl, was 
ordered to be confined within the cloister of the 
monastery until notice had been sent by the 
bishop." The archdeacon of Dorset and William 
of Braybrook, canon of Salisbury, were ordered in 
131 6 to adjudicate in a dispute which had arisen 
in the monastery between the abbess and certain 
of the nuns.^' Joan Formage, who was elected 
abbess in 1362, received a dispensation from the 
bishop in 1368 to leave the abbey for a year and 
reside in her manors for the sake of air and 
recreation." On her death in August, 1394, 
the bishop ordered the abbey to be sequestrated, 
and annulled a will by which she had alienated 
the goods of the house in bequests to friends, 
declaring such a disposition to be injurious to 
the community and contrary to the usage of 
religious women. ^*"' A good deal of disturbance 
and a species of interregnum ensued before the 
appointment of a successor, in spite of the con- 
sideration of Richard II, who granted a licence 
to elect immediately on the voidance of the 
abbey,'**^ and, ' in pity for the poverty of the house,' 

" The register of Mitford contains a letter from 
the pope to the bishop desiring him to restore Alice 
Wilton, nun of Shaftesbury, to the position in the 
abbey which she had forfeited by the most grievous 
lapse of which a religious could be convicted, the sin 
of incontinence. The bishop, in accordance with the 
order, reinstated the nun, who had proved her 
penitence for the offence, and declared her eligible for 
all offices in the monastery save that of abbess ; Sarum 
Epis. Reg. Mitford, fol. 122. 

" Ibid. Simon of Ghent, i, fol. 5 d. 

"Ibid. fol. 33. »« Ibid. fol. 127. 

" Ibid. =" Ibid. Mortival, ii, fol. 47 d. 

^ Ibid. Wyville, ii, fol. 230. 

""> Ibid. W.iltham, fol. 24. 

"" Pat. 18 Ric. II, pt. l,m. 10. 

directed the bishop to signify the royal assent 
without delay to the choice of the community.'"' 
In November of the same year Richard Pittes, 
canon of Salisbury, John Gowayn, and Thomas 
Bonham were appointed to examine and take 
charge of the abbey, to inform themselves as to 
its condition, the withdrawal and waste of its 
goods, as well as to make allowances for the 
maintenance of the nuns and their household, 
holding the remainder of the revenues in charge 
until further orders. According to the letters 
patent of this commission the king had been 
forced to abrogate the grant made by himself and 
his predecessors to the prioress and convent of the 
temporalities of the abbey during voidance, as 
by fraudulent means an election had been obtain- 
ed of an unfit person, who, with the object of 
securing confirmation of her appointment, had 
repaired with an excessive number of men to 
places remote, to the waste and destruction of the 
possessions of the community.'"' Richard II, after 
an interval of more than six months had elapsed 
since the death of abbess Joan Formage, wrote 
to the bishop, April, 1395, desiring him to pro- 
vide a fit person to the abbey, which by this time 
had lapsed to his collation.'"* The choice fell 
on Egelina de Counteville ; the pope, at the 
king's special request, confirmed her election 
as abbess, ' although Lucy Fitzherberde has the 
greater number of votes,' '"' and so the matter 
ended. Bishop Hallam in 1 410, on a report 
that the nuns were given to frequenting places 
outside the monastery, addressed a letter of 
admonition to the abbess and convent, bid- 
ding them consider the punishment that overtook 
Dinah the daughter of Jacob for yielding to 
the desire to go abroad.'"' In the same year 
the bishop issued an indulgence for those who 
should visit the monastery on the principal feasts 
of St. Edward, King and Martyr, from the time 
of the first to the second vespers.'*" In 141 2 
letters of indulgence were published for those 
visiting the shrine of St. Edward on the feast of 
his translation, 20 June.'"* There are no visita- 
tion reports of Shaftesbury during the fifteenth 
century, and few references during the remainder 
of its existence save those recording the election 
of superiors and the admission of the profession 
of nuns.'"' 

The last abbess ot Shaftesbury, Elizabeth 
Zouche, hoped doubtless by a conciliatory attitude 
to secure from the court party some measure 
ot consideration for her house. Sir Thomas 

"' Ibid. m. 5. "» Ibid, 

x" Ibid. 18 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 15. 



Col. of Pap. Letters, iv, 524. Lucy Fitzherberde 
was probably the 'unfit person' elected on the first 
occasion. '°* Sarum Epis. Reg. Hallam, fol. 29. 

"" Ibid. '»» Ibid. fol. 56. 

"" In 1442 the profession was received by the 
bishop of fifteen of the nuns, and in 1453 of fourteen ; 
ibid. Aiscough, fol. 97 ; Beauchamp, i (2), fol. 150. 


Arundel, in a letter to the ' visitor-general of 
monasteries,' in 1536, states that by the advice 
of the writer the abbess and convent have given 
him (Cromwell) the next presentation to the 
parsonage of Tarrant, for which he had expressed 
a desire, adding, ' my lady is right glad to do you 
pleasure.' "° The transfer to Shaftesbury in the 
same year of the prioress and nuns of the small 
Benedictine priory of Cannington (Somerset), 
dissolved by the earlier Act of suppression,'" 
may have encouraged the poor lady to continue 
her efforts, and nerved her to hold out longer 
than was the general disposition in this county. 
At any rate. Sir Thomas Arundel, writing again 
to Cromwell in December, 1538, informs him 
that, contrary to advice, the abbess of Shaftesbury 
refuses to follow the 'moo' (majority), and 
resign, and offers the king 500 marks and Crom- 
well ;rioo for her house to be allowed to stand.'" 
The offer was fruitless ; the fate of Shaftesbury 
was sealed, though the house, owing perhaps to 
the abbess's spirited endeavour, was the last to fall 
in this county. With the surrender of Elizabeth 
Zouche and her fifty-six nuns on 2 March, 
1539,"' ends the long line of abbesses headed 
in the ninth century by Alfred's daughter. 

Abbesses of Shaftesbury 

Elfgiva or jEthelgeofu or Algiva, first abbess 

about 888"* 
iElfthrith, occurs 948 "^ 
Herleva, occurs 966,"* died 982"' 
Alfrida, occurs 1 00 1 or 1009"* 
Leueua, occurs temp. Edward the Confessor"' 
Eulalia, appointed 1074 '■" 

Cecilia, appointed 1 107 ''^ 
Emma, occurs temp. Henry I '"' 
Mary, occurs 1189 '^ 
J., elected 1216'^' 
Amicia Russell, elected 1223''' 

"» L. and P. Hen. VIU, xi, 1340. 

'" Ibid. 1450. '" Ibid, xiii (2), 1092. 

"^ Ibid, xiv (i), 586. To Elizabeth Zouche was 
assigned on her surrender a pension of ^^133 6/. id. ; 
the prioress received a pension of ;^20, the sub- 
prioress £j, and the remainder of the sisters yearly 
sums ranging from £6 13/. i^d. to 56/. %d. ; ibid. 

"* Will, of Malmes. Gesta Regum (Rolls Ser.), i, 
131 ; Flor. Wigorn. Chron. (Engl. Hist. Soc), i, 104. 

'" She is mentioned in a charter of King .i^dred, 
Harl. MS. 61, fol. 4. 

"* Gale, Rerum Angl. Script. \, 45. 

'" Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 103. 

'" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 27. 

'" Dugdale (Mow. ii, 473), from Exon. Domesday. 

'^'' Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 30. 

'-' Dugdale, Mon. 11, 473. 

'-' The third daughter of Robert Fitz Hamon, who 
elevated Tewkesbury to the dignitv of an abbey. Ibid, 
ii, 473. '^'Hari. MS. 61, fol. 23. 

'■' Ibid. fol. 26. '" Pat. I Hen. Ill, m. 16. 

'-'« Ibid. 7 Hen. Ill, m. 3. 

Agnes Lungespee, elected 1243'" 
Agnes de Ferrers, elected 1247 '-* 
Juliana de Bauceyn, died 1279 '^' 
Laurentia de Muscegros, elected 1279,'^" died 

Joan de Bridport, elected 1290,"' died 1291 
Mabel Gifford, elected 129 1 '" 
Alice de Lavyngton, elected 1 302,'^' died 1 3 1 5 
Margaret Aucher, elected 13 15,"* died 1329 
Dionisia le Blunde, elected 1329,'" died 1345 
Joan Duket, elected 1345,"^ died 1350 
Margaret de Leukenore, elected 1350'" 
Joan Formage, elected 1362,"* died 1394 
Egelina de Counteville, appointed 1395"' 
Cecilia Fovent, occurs 1398,'*° died 1423 
Margaret Stourton, elected 1423,"' died 1441 
Edith Bonham, elected 1441,'*^ died 1460 
Margaret St. John, elected 1460 "' 
Alice Gibbcs, died 1496'" 
Margaret Twyneo, elected 1496,"' died 1505 
Elizabeth Shelford, elected I505,'"died 152S 
Elizabeth Zouche or Zuche, elected 1529, 

surrendered her abbey, 1539 '*' 

The round thirteenth-century seal attached to 
the surrender deed of the abbey gives on the 
obverse an elaborate design of the church. la 
the doorway St. Edward, King and Martyr, full- 
length, with the name s' edw — ardvs upon the 
string-courses at the sides.'** Legend : — 


AVX [iLIARIS :] [gemma :] PVELLARIS : regia : 


The reverse shows within a carved quatrefoil 
the Coronation of the Virgin. Overhead the 
Dove ; at the sides two candlesticks, crescents, 
and other emblems. In base, under a trefoiled 
arch, an abbess, half-length, holding a pastoral 
staff, is in prayer.'*' Legend : — 

1^ sigill' : scE : marie : et : sci : edwardi : 
[reJgis : et : martiris : schef[tonie] 

Ibid. m. 16. 

'-' Ibid. 27 Hen. Ill, m. 2. 
''' Ibid. 31 Hen. Ill, m. 8. 
''' Ibid. 7 Edw. I, m. 21. 
"' Ibid. 18 Edw. I, m. 34. 
'" Ibid. 19 Edw. I, m. 3. 
'^' Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent. 
"* Pat. 9 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 14. 
'"Ibid. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13. 
"' Ibid. 19 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 13. 
'" Ibid. 24 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 21. 
"' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 27. 
'" Pat. 18 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 10. 
"" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mitford, fol. 105. 
'" Pat. 2 Hen. VI, pt. l, m. 22. 
'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough, fol. 10. 
'" Ibid. Beauchamp, i, fol. 37. 
'" Ibid. Blyth, fol. 95. "' Ibid. 

"'■ Ibid. Audley, fol. 1 26 a". 
"' L.andP. Hen. Fill, iv, 5290 ; xiv (i), 586. 
"'Deeds of Surrender, No. 211. See also B.M. 

'" Ibid. 50. 

Se.ils, 1x11, 49. 





The priory of Holme, or Holne as it was 
anciently called, a cell of the Cluniac priory of 
Montacute in Somerset, was founded towards 
the middle of the twelfth century ' by Robert 
de Lincoln, the son of Alured de Lincoln. The 
founder, in his charter for the endowment of the 
new establishment, recites that ' moved by divine 
instinct to build a house of religion in honour of 
God ' he has given to God and the church of 
St. Peter of Montacute and the monks serving 
God there his land which is called Holne,' in 
perpetual alms for the maintenance of thirteen 
monks, the gift being made with the concurrence 
of Bcuza his wife and Alured his son, by the 
counsel and consent of the bishop of Salisbury, 
in the presence of the prior and monks of 
Montacute, and of Gilbert the monk, 'to whom 
I afterwards personally gave the place,* for the 
souls of King Henry, of the donor's father and 
mother, of himself, his wife, and children, 
relations, and friends. The original endowment 
also consisted of three virgates of land at Weston 
Worth (JFrda) in Purbeck, a tithe of the bread, 
meat, and fish provided for the use of his house- 
hold {de dlipema domus met) and that of his heirs, 
a salt-pan of the salt works adjacent to his manor 
of Langton, with tithes of his demesne at Oke- 
ford Fitzpaine, at Winterborne Whitchurch, 
Langton near Abbotsbury, and Corton in Porti- 
sham, besides tithes of the demesne at Chesel- 
bourne and Watercombe, the gift of Bardolph 
* my knight.' ' Alured, the founder's son, added 
to the gifts of his father and confirmed all former 
grants, stating that they were bestowed in free 

alms, quit of all suit and service save of celebrat- 
ing divine offices for the soul of the founder, of 
his ancestors and successors, and of all the faith- 
ful departed.* 

An inquisition, held in June, 1 28 1, as to the 
lands and tenements of the prior of Montacute 
in the isle of Purbeck reported that these were 
extended to the value of j^i6 6j. 2d., and in- 
cluded, besides the advowson of the church of 
Holme, valued at 60J., a garden and curtilage 
with 34 acres of arable land, 40 acres of meadow, 
a turbary, fish-pond, fixed rents {reddii' assis') of 
the villeins, their works, pleas, perquisites, fines 
of land and heriots within the manor of Holme.* 
The Taxatio of 1 29 1 gives the priory an income 
only of ;^5 10;. 8<^., the spiritualities, amounting 
to j^2 13J. 8i/., derived from pensions from the 
following churches : — Puddletown,' Warmwell,' 
Corton, Langton Herring, and Powerstock ; * 
the temporalities were valued at £^2 I'js., of 
which £2 IS. id. came from Weston Worth 
in Purbeck.' 

As a cell subordinate to an alien house, Holme 
was constantly in the hands of the crown during 
the Hundred Years' War. On 8 October, 
1324, the farm of the lands of the prior of Mon- 
tacute in Holme and Plush was committed by 
Edward II to Walter Beril and Roger de Blokkes- 
worthe until the superior had found sufficient 
security to satisfy the king, after which they were 
ordered to amove their hand.'" Edward III, 
shortly after his accession, made a general 
restoration to the abbot of Cluny of all his lands 
and possessions in England, '^ but they were sub- 
sequently re-seized, and in 1337 the prior of 
Holme was ordered to pay a fine of six marks 
and 40;. for the custody of his priory." In 1339 

' It cannot be hter than the twelfth year of 
Henry II, as in that year Alured, the son of the 
founder, was in possession of the paternal estate. 

' In a charter of Henry I, the king testifies to 
Roger bishop of Salisbury and Warin the sheriff that 
he has granted a licence to Alured de Lincoln to 
hold the land of Holme, which he has obtained by 
purchase of ' Grimaldus medicus ' in fee. See early 
account of Holme Priory by Thomas Bond (Hutchins, 
Hilt, of Dorset, i) inserted between pp. 552-3. This 
Alured has sometimes been identified with the Alured 
de Lincoln who held estates in Lincolnshire at the 
time of the Domesday Survey, and in all probability 
they came of the same family. The Dorset branch is 
subsequently found in possession of nearly the whole 
estate held in this county at the time of the Survey by 
the widow of Hugh Fitz Grip {Dom. Bk. [Rec. Com.], 
i, 83^), which they probably obtained by marriage ; 
Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, i, 552-3- 

' Ibid. 

* The charter of the founder and his son are given 
by Thomas Bond in his early account of the priory, 
ibid, i, 552-3. Among other grants, Alured, son of 
the founder, conferred on the monks land at Plush, 
with the right of pasturing ten oxen, one heifer, and 
250 sheep there with the cattle of the abbot of 

' Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. I, No. 47. 

^ Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 179. 

' Ibid. 1793. The charter of Alured, the founder's 
son, records the grant of the church of Warmwell to 
the monks by 'Gunfridus my man.' 

• Ibid. 180, 182*. 
' Ibid. 1833. 

'° Mins. Acts. bdle. I 125, No. 7. 

" Rymer, Foedera, iv, 246-7. 

" Close, 1 1 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 36. The prior, 
in 1332, was requisitioned for a contribution towards 
the expenses incurred by the king for the marriage of 
his sister ; ibid. 6 Edw. Ill, m. id d. 



Edward III granted to William de Montacute, 
earl of Salisbury and his heirs the advowson of 
the priory of Montacute, with the custody 
whenever it should be seized into the king's 
hand by reason of the war with France, and at 
the earl's petition the following year he added 
on similar terms the advowson and custody of 
Carsweli, Holme, St. Carrie, and Malpas, cells 
pertaining to the said priory ' from the time of 
which memory does not exist.' '' One of the 
earliest acts of Henry IV on his accession was to 
restore, among others, the alien priory of 
Montacute with its subject cells, remitting the 
farm lately paid to the king and his heirs or, by 
virtue of a former grant, to the earl of Salis- 
bury and his heirs, and reserving only the 
payment of the ancient ' apport,' paid in time of 
peace to the head house. The prior in 1407, 
by the payment of a sum of 300 marks, ob- 
tained a charter of denization for his house, 
which made the priory, with all its posses- 
sions, advowsons, &c., indigenous of England, 
and provided that its superior should be elected 
by the convent without collation or institu- 
tion of the abbot of Cluny.'* Holme continued 
up to the Dissolution as a dependent cell 
with a prior 'dative and removable' by the head 

Though ordained by the founder for the 
maintenance of thirteen monks, there appears 
from early times to have been a considerable 
decline from the original design. The inquisition 
held in 1281 declared that the prior of Monta- 
cute held the church and manor of Holme 
subject to the charge of finding four monks to 
sing for the soul of Alured de Lincoln, his 
progenitors and successors." Two years previous 
to that the priors of Mont Didier in France and 
Lenton in England, appointed by the abbot of 
Cluny, in 1279, to visit English houses of the 
order, found here two monks and a prior,'' while 
a fifteenth-century description, probably drawn 
up from visitation reports of 1298, 1390, and 
1405, stated that the community consisted of 
a prior and two monks.'* Leland, in the 
sixteenth century, said that the four cells 
belonging to Montacute had only two monks 

" Pat. 14 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 7. Notwithstand- 
ing this grant the prior of Holme was summoned 
before the council at Westminster with other aliens to 
answer for his charge in 1341 and 1347. (Close, 15 
Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 6 ; 2 1 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 6d.) 
On the conclusion of a peace in 1 361 Edward III 
restored their possessions to Montacute and nine other 
alien priories. Rymer, Foedera, vi, 311. 

" See inspeximus charters of Henry IV to the 
priory of Montacute. Pat. 12 Hen. IV, m. 37. 

'* Valor Ecd. (Rec. Com.), i, 196. 

" Inq. p.m. 9 Edw. I, No. 47. 

" Duckett, Chart, and Rec. of Cluny, ii, 136. 

" Ibid. 213. 

" Collect, i, 8 I . 

With regard to the internal condition and 
management of the house, the visitors appointed 
in 1279 reported that the inmates lived well and 
commendably according to the rule, fulfilling 
their religious duties as far as the exigencies 
of the place permitted and the limited num- 
ber of the community.^" The prior, who had 
been in office for three years, had taken over 
the house burdened with a debt of twenty 
marks, which he had managed to pay off, 
and it was now free of debt.^' The buildings 
and church were in good repair, and there 
was a sufficient store to last till the follow- 
ing harvest. The Cluniac order being exempt 
from episcopal jurisdiction and visitation by 
the ordinary the Salisbury registers throw no 
light on the history of the house, but various 
references are made to it in other records. In 
January, 1331, a commission of oyer and ter- 
miner was issued on the complaint of the abbot 
of Bindon against John de Montacute, some- 
time abbot of Bindon, who, both before and 
after his deposition, proved such a source of 
trouble to his house ; in his quarrel with his 
own community he seems to have enlisted the 
active support of the then prior of Holme, 
Walter de Welham, at all events the two, with 
others, were accused of breaking into the abbey 
by night, driving away cattle, and carrying off 
books, vessels, and ornaments of the church, 
together with the conventual seal, which they 
further proceeded to append to various docu- 
ments to the prejudice of the community.-^ 
In 1348 a certain Ralph de Midelneye was 
charged with having acquired from the same 
prior, Walter de Welham, then deceased, certain 
premises in Winterborne Wast, Bockhampton, 
and Swanage, and having entered on the same 
without obtaining a licence of the king.^' 
Edward III, in 1344, directed the mayor and 
bailiffs of Dover to permit Gerard de Noiale, 
prior of Holme, to cross the Channel in order to 
visit the Roman court ' for the correction of his 
soul.' 2* 

The Valor of 1535 states that John Wales 
was then prior of this cell, valued at 
£16 9J. 4^.,^* and on the surrender of Mon- 
tacute Priory, 20 March, 1539, the same John 
was appointed to serve the cure of Holme witii 
a stipend of £?> ; in the event of his being ' im- 
potente and lame ' and past work he should 
receive a pension of ^5 ly. 4^.-" The house 
and site of the dissolved cell were granted by 
Henry VIII to Richard Hamper for a term of 

'» Duckett, Chart, and Rec. of Cluny, ii, 136. 
" Ibid. 

" Pat. 4 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 7 </. ; see below, Bindon, 
p. 84. 

'^i Pat. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 40 a'. 
" Close, 18 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13 a'. 
" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 196. 
»« L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (i), 575. 


twenty-one years; Edward VI, in the first year 
of his reign, bestowed the reversion of the 
property on the duke of Somerset and his 
heirs. By the attainder of the duke the estate 
reverted again to the crown, by whom it was 
granted to John Hannam of Wimborne Min- 
ster, in whose family it remained till the reign 
of William and Mary, when it came into the 
Bond family." 

Priors of Holme ■* 

Hada, occurs 121 7-1 8'' 

Geoffrey, occurs 1262'" 

Walter de Welham, occurs 1330" 

Gerard de Noiale, occurs 1344^" 

William Pope, occurs 1444" 

John Wales, or Wallis, occurs 1535 and 




A Cistercian abbey was built here in 11 72" 
by Roger de Newburgh and Maud his wife, who 
transferred to Great Bindon the earlier monas- 
tery which William de Glastonia and Maud his 
wife iiad begun to build at a spot now identified 
with Little Bindon. King John, by his charter, 
confirmed to the monks the site of the abbey, 
2 acres of land the gift of William de Glastonia, 
2 virgates in Lulworth, the manor of 'Borton,' 
the land of Nottington, the land of Wood Street 
with the meadows adjoining, and half a hide of 
land with pasture for 300 sheep in the manor of 
Chaldon (Herring) the gift of Thomas Harang.' 
The founder himself bestowed on the abbey his 
manor of Woolaston (Northants) with all its 
appurtenances, to be held by the monks in free 
alms quit of all secular suits and exaction.* 

A charter of Henry III, dated 4 April, 1234, 
confirmed to the church of St. Mary of Bindon ' 
and the monks serving God there the site of 
their abbey, the gift of Roger de Newburgh and 
Maud his wife, together with the place in which 
the first monastery had been commenced, the gift 
of William de Glastonia, the manor of Bexington, 
given by Maud de Arundel by leave of King 
Henry,* the land of Nottington and Luca, pur- 
cliased by Gilbert de Percy from the monksof Ford 
and bestowed on Bindon, the land of Hethfelton 
according to the agreement between the monks 
and Simon de Eneford, the land of Wood Street 
which the abbey and convent held of William de 

" Hutchins, Hht. of Dorset, i, 552. 

" Hutchins, in his account of the priory, gives the 
names of three ; Hist, of Dorset, i, 553. 

" Hada, prior of Holme, is mentioned in a fine 
respecting the church of Warmwell, 2 Henry III. Ibid, 
i, 434, note. 

■"' Duckett, Chart, and Rec. ofCltiny, ii, 123. 

" Pat. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 40. 

" Close, 18 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, i, 553. 

" ralor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 196 ; L. and P. 
Hen. Vlll, xiv (l), 575. 

' A ground plan of the abbey, which was visited 
by the British Archaeological Associ.ition, 26 August, 
1 8" I, may be seen in their Journ. xxviii, 392. 

■ Cott. MS. ' Chron. S. Werburgae Cest.' Faust. 
B. viii, 4 ; Hutchins, Dorset, i, 349. 

Wodestert as his charter testifies, and half a hide 
of land with pasturage for 300 sheep as confirmed 
by the charter of Thomas Harang.' By another 
charter in June of the same year, the king 
further confirmed to the abbey the wood of 
Stotwode, part of Hamsted wood with common 
pasture, the whole land of Pulham, 150 acres of 
waste, the mill of Lulworth with the land per- 
taining to it and the moltura of the men of 
Lulworth given by Robert de Newburgh, with 
certain houses in Dorchester and all the arable 
land which the monks held under the walls of 
Dorchester, the gift of William Lock of Dor- 

A charter of Edward II inspecting all previous 
grants confirmed to the abbot and convent lands 
and rents in Lulworth, Bexington, Nottington, 
Hethfelton, Chaldon, Winfrith Newburgh, 
mills at Fordington, Cranborne, and outside 
Dorchester, the churches of Chaldon Herring 
and Fossil, and the right to hold a market and 
fair at Wool, with the right of free warren in all 
their demesne lands at Stockford, Wood Street, 
Wool, Bovington, Lulworth, Bindon, and 

In the Taxatio of 1291 the spiritualities of the 
abbey are not given ; the temporalities amount to 
^^107 6;., of which j^9i 45. was reckoned from 
possessions in the deanery of Dorchester,"* 
£12 2s. from the manor of Bexington in the 
Bridport deanery,*' and £4. from Pulham and 
Winterborne Monkton in the deanery of Whit- 

' H.irl. MS. 6748, fol. 7. * Ibid. 

' Bindon, like all Cistercian houses, was dedicited 
to the honour of the B. V. Marj*. Dugdale cites a 
charter of the reign of Henry III wherein it is styled 
St. Salvator of Bindon, Alon. v, 556. 

° Coker, citing ' an olde manuscript,' states ' that 
Maud,' countess of Sarum, afterwards the wife of 
William de Newburgh, ' was so great a benefictour 
to this abbie that she was reckoned a foundress.' 
Paitie. Surv. of Dorset, 76 ; Leland, Coll. i, 82. 

' By inspex. of Edward I. Chart. R. 9 Edw. I, 
No. 90, m. 13 ; see Cart. Antiq. Q. 18. 

« Ch,irt. R. 9 Edw. I, m. 13. 

' Ibid. 6 Edw. II, No3. 12-15. 

"• Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 183^, 184. 

" Ibid. 183. 

"Ibid. 184. 



The house from the outset received much 
attention and kindness from the Plantagenets. 
The abbot occurs frequently in the records of 
John's reign, and from various entries in the 
Liberate and Misae Rolls appears to have been 
employed by the king in affairs of a confidential 
nature.^' On 27 July, 12 13, while staying at 
the abbey, John issued letters allowing the 
monks tiiirty cart-loads of lead for the purpose 
of roofing their monastery, together with fifty 
oak logs." During the year 121 5 the king's 
treasure was dispersed about in the custody of 
various monasteries, preference apparently being 
shown for those of the Cistercians and Premon- 
stratensians ; an order issued on 24 June of that 
year directed that it should be delivered up to the 
king, and an entry under date of 3 July in the 
patent rolls records that on the feast of St. Peter 
and St. Paul (29 June) John, while at Marl- 
borough, received at the hands of Robert the 
precentor a staff {haculum) set with nineteen 
sapphires, and another set with ten, which had 
been deposited in Bindon Abbey.'' 

Henry III also showed favour to the community, 
to whom, in 1229 and 1247, he granted letters 
of protection. '* In 1235 they received by gift 
of the king an order allowing them fifty oak 
logs to rebuild their church." In 1272 Henry 
de Newburgh, who at that time held the advow- 
son, granted the monks leave to elect whom 
they would to be their patron, and in view of 
past favours it is not surprising that the choice 
of the brethren fell on the king and Queen 
Eleanor. Henry and his consort accepted their 
election, the former, by his charter, signifying 
that he had taken the abbey, of which he and 
his heirs were now the patrons, into his protection 
and defence.'* Early in the reign of Edward I 
Queen Eleanor granted to the church of St. 
Mary of Bindon and the monks serving God 
there, for the soul of her late husband and his 
ancestors, 'our' children, ancestors and successors, 
all lands and tenements in Wool which she held 
by gift of Thomas de Wool, son and heir of 
William de Wool, to be held by them in free 

The abbot and monks bore their share in all 
charges and contributions incidental to the 
tenure of ecclesiastical landowners. In May, 
1278, they contributed to the 'courtesy' of 
^TijOOO raised for the king by the whole order 

" Rot. de Liberate (Rec. Com.), 128, 144, 146. 

" Close, 15 John, m. 7, 8. 

" Pat. 17 John, m. 21. 

'' Pat. 13 Hen. Ill, m. 3 ; 31 Hen. Ill, m. 6. 

" Close, 19 Hen. Ill, m. 12. 

" By inspex. Pat. 7 Edw. I, pt. i, m. i. 

" Pat. 4 Edw. I, m. 32 ; Edward I in 1275 granted 
letters of simple protection to the abbot to List two 
years (ibid. 3 Edw. I, m. 32) ; and a few years later 
confirmed his mother's gift of Wool to the abbey (ibid. 
9 Edw. I, m, 13). 


in England,^" and in 1294 the abbot received 
protection for a year in favour of his person and 
goods in consideration of the fact that with the 
rest of ' exempt ' abbots he had granted a moiety 
of his benefices and goods towards the Holy 
Land.2' In the reign of Edward II the house 
was twice called on to assist in the Scotch war.-^ 
In December, 1309, John Dassh was sent in place 
of William Brid to lodge in the abbey and receive 
the necessaries of life,^^ and in May, 1335, in 
the midst of financial and other embarrassments, 
the community was requested by the king to 
allow Hugh Prest such maintenance in their 
house as their earlier boarder William Brid had 
had.^* In return for these accommodations the 
abbot received frequent grants of protection and 
was permitted freely to visit the parent house at 
Citeaux and to attend the general chapter of his 

It is to be regretted that however favourable 
the circumstances of the house under the earlier 
Plantagenets, frequent references to the com- 
munity in the fourteenth century range them- 
selves for the most part under the head of debt 
and disorder, internal dissension among them- 
selves, and open strife with their neighbours, 
making up a sufficiently sordid story. The first 
mention of financial insecurity occurs in the 
year 1275, when Edward I appointed Henry de 
Monte Forte custodian during pleasure of the 
abbey, which had fallen into debt.^^ Passing over 
a small incident in 1283 of a common enough 
nature in those days," the first breach with 
the neighbourhood occurred in 1296, when a 
charge was brought against the abbot of causing 
the death of brother Nicholas de Wyther of 

'° Ibid. 4 Edw. I, m. 88. The Cistercians by 
special privilege were exempt from the payment of all 
such tithe and subsidy and at one time were inclined 
to uphold their right to refuse any contribution ; 
gradually, however, they found it politic to yield so 
far as to give ' by courtesy ' what they declined to pay 
as an obligation. ^' Pat. 22 Edw. I, m. 8. 

" Close, 3 Edw. II, m. 5, ced. ; Pari. Writs (Rec. 
Com.), ii, div. 3, p. 542. 

" Close, 3 Edw. II, m. i 5 </. 

" Ibid. 9 Edw. Ill, m. z-] d. Ten years later, in 
April, 1345, the monks were ordered to send a strong 
horse to Chancery for carrying the Chancery rolls. 
Ibid. 19 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 16. 

" On 27 July, 127S, the abbot going beyond seas 
had letters of protection till All Saints (Pat. 6 Edw. I, 
m. 8). In 1286 and 1290 he obtained letters of 
protection to attend the general chapter of his order 
(ibid. 14 Edw. I, m. 8 ; 18 Edw. I, m. 29), and in 
January, 1333, he nominated attorneys to act during 
hisabsence at the general chapter. (Ibid. 7 Edw. Ill, 
pt. I, m. 21). 

'° Pat. 3 Edw. I, m. 32. The house may for the 
time have recovered itself, for it seems to have met all 
the various charges of ihe reign of Edward II. 

" A commission was appointed to inquire touching 
those persons who had depastured the corn of the abbot 
and convent at Lulworth (ibid. I 1 Edw. I, m. I2<i'.) 


Bexington, sometime monk of Bindon, and bro- 
ther Maurice, also sometime monk of this place 
by relatives of the deceased. A commission of 
oyer and terminer was issued in February and 
again in July, 1296, but the matter proceeding 
too slowly for their taste the plaintiffs appear to 
have taken the law into their own hands, with the 
result that another commission was appointed 
the following March to investigate the complaint 
of the abbot against a number of persons who 
had come to the abbey and imprisoned him and 
carried away his goods.'' What the upshot was 
we do not know ; the abbot in the same month 
received a grant of protection from the king and 
the matter dropped."^ Ill-feeling, however, seems 
to have remained in the district, and a complaint 
by the abbot in 131 5 of trespass and assault on 
the part of William de Whitefield, knt., and 
others provoked from the accused knight and his 
adherents a counter-charge that the abbot and 
monks had trespassed in his meadow and assaulted 
his men, both sides at the same time claiming 
to be under the royal protection.'" 

The troubles of the community came to a 
climax in the early part of the reign of Ed- 
ward III, and the causes mainly contributing 
to the state of affairs then disclosed are clearly 
expressed in the king's letter of 21 May, 1329, 
appointing the abbot of Beaulieu, Hugh de 
Courtenay and Hugh Poynitz custodians of 
the king's abbey of Bindon, lately taken into 
custody in consequence of the grievous dissension 
which had arisen on the question of the removal 
of the abbot, resulting in the carrying away 
of the goods of the house by a large mob of 
people, the withdrawal of many of the monks, 
and the cessation of divine ofBces and alms 
founded there by the king's ancestors.'^ The 
custodians appointed were empowered to collect 
the revenues, recover the goods carried away, 
and after reserving a reasonable sum to its 
maintenance, to apply the residue to the dis- 
charge of its debts and the best interests of the 
house.^^ On 28 July of the same year John 
Mautravers the younger and William de White- 
field, knt., were appointed to the custody of the 
abbey, ' now grievously burdened with debt for 
want of good rule ;' '' in December the following 
year, 1330, the custody was transferred to Hugh 
de Courtenay, both the elder and the younger, 
and the abbot of Ford.'^ The exact date of 
the deposition of Abbot John de Monte 
Acuto, who appears to have so grievously abused 
his trust, cannot be found, but as his succes- 
sor, according to the episcopal registers, was 

"Pat. 24 Edw. I, m. 12, i7</. ; 25 Edw. I, 
pt. I , m. 17 d. 

" Ibid. 25 Edw. I, pt. I, m. 13. 

'" Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 4</. ; 9 Edw. II, 
pt. I, m. 29 d. 

" Ibid. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 18. " Ibid. 

" Ibid. 3 Edw. Ill, pt i,m. 18. " Ibid. m. 21. 


blessed by the bishop in September, 1332,'* 
a species of interregnum may have ensued be- 
tween the early part of 1 33 1 and that date ; for in 
January of the former year the king ordered a 
commission of inquiry into the complaint of the 
abbot that brother John de Monte Acuto, 'bearing 
himself as a monk of the house,' with a number 
of adherents had invaded the abbey, driven aw.iy 
cattle and sheep to the value of j^yoo, carried 
away books, chalices, and other ornaments of the 
church as well as charters, deeds, and muniments, 
and breaking open a chest had carried away the 
seal of the abbey with which divers bonds had 
been sealed, &c., to the prejudice of the house.'' 
In March William de Warenna and John 
Fraunceys were ordered to arrest John de 
Monte Acuto, an apostate monk fugitive from 
the Cistercian abbey of Bindon, and on 29 April 
the chief culprit together with another apostate 
monk, John de Wille, was arrested while wan- 
dering about the country, sometimes in secular 
and sometimes in regular habit to the contempt 
of his profession, and ordered to be taken back 
to the abbey.'' Unfortunately, John seems to 
have obtained a certain following in the neigh- 
bourhood and even among the inmates of the 
house, and a letter, amongst various communi- 
cations addressed about this time to the king by 
the brethren,'' petitions that whereas Brother 
John de Montagu by favour and power had 
been made abbot of Bindon, and for the 
destruction he had wrought had afterwards been 
deposed by the abbot of Ford, 'son visitour,' and 
' for his great sins ' had been placed by the 
chapter-general under perpetual ward, but by 
favour of his keepers had escaped, the king will 
order the abbots of Beaulieu and L .... to take 
him into safe custody that he may not again 
escape, and that scandal may not thence arise to 
the order through his being at large.** 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. WjTiUe, ii (Inst.), fol. 17. 
It may be that a temporary appointment was made, 
for in October, 1 33 I, a commission was appointed on 
complaint by William, abbot of Bindon, that William 
de Stoke and others had assaulted and imprisoned him at 
Great Crawford (Pat. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 15 d). 

'« Pat. 4 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 7 </. ; 5 Edw. Ill, 
pt. I, m. 32 d. 

" Ibid. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 21, g d. 

" Unfortunately these letters, which with the official 
records give a very vivid picture of the state of the 
monastery, are all undated. They abound in com- 
plaints of the insolvent condition of the house, of 
the misdeeds ' dun mauveis abbe, frere John de 
Montague, qui a grand droit fust oste e depose ' (Anct. 
Pet. 1 1943) and of entreaties to Edward III to 
come to the relief of his almoners the monks, ' qui 
sent en dispersion ' (Anct. Pet. 1829-31). 

'' Anct. Pet. 1830. The patent rolls record that 
the late abbot having made good his escape, certain 
men were appointed on i August of that year (13 31) 
to retake him and conduct him back to the abbey 
to be chastised according to the rule of his order. 
Pat. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. z6 d. 


The connexion of Bindon with the abbey of 
Ford was at this pass most unfavourable for the 
restoration of peace, and in November, 1332, 
Edward III wrote to the abbot of Citeaux re- 
citing the injuries that had been inflicted on the 
monastery of Bindon ' by the indiscreet govern- 
ment and detestable presumption ' of the late 
abbot who, although he had been removed and 
brother Roger substituted in his place, yet found 
adherents in the neighbourhood and even among 
the monks, and was a source of constant annoy- 
ance and loss, so that the dispersal of the monks 
was feared unless a remedy could be provided, 
and requesting that John and his accomplices, 
* who go armed to the scandal of the order,' 
should be removed to places far distant to do per- 
petual penance and stay there until the state of 
the house could be reformed, and that as the 
abbot of Ford, ' to whom the house of Bindon is 
subject by affiliation,' encouraged John in his 
wrong-doing the abbot-general would reserve 
the visitation of the house to himself and commit 
it to some discreet abbot in whom he had full 

The following January, 1333, Roger, the 
newly appointed abbot, with the intention of 
attending the general chapter of his order, 
nominated his attorney in England for a year,** 
and on 3 February the abbot of Beaulieu and 
Roger de Guldene were appointed to the custody 
of the house, ' burdened with debt by neglect 
and bad rule of abbots.' *^ A commission of oyer 
and terminer was issued on I May of that year 
touching the trespasses of William le Rede of 
Wool and others in imprisoning Roger the 
abbot of Bindon and nine of his monks while 
the abbey was under the king's protection and in 
the custody of those appointed by him." 

The sordid story continues to run on with its 
tale of debt, which the appointment of custodians 
failed to relieve," and of ill-feeling that refused 
to be placated.'*' On 11 April, 1348, the mayor 
of Dover was directed to allow the abbot of 
Bindon to cross to the Roman court, whither he 
was bound in the interests of his abbey,*^ and in 

" Close, 6 Edw. Ill, m. 3 J. 

" Pat. 7 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 29. 

" Ibid. m. 21. The abbot and convent in that 
year made a lease of the manor of Crich. Ibid. 7 
Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 10. " Ibid. pt. I, m. 7 J. 

"The Close Rolls of 1334., 1335, 1338, 1339, 
1344, I347> •348. and 1352 enroll acknowledge- 
ments of debt, loans, &c., on the p.irt of the abbot. 
On the reappointment of custodians in I334andi335 
the patent rolls reiterate that owing to its condition 
the works of piety with which the house was charged 
could not be maintained, and the monks were likely 
to be dispersed unless a remedy could be found. Pat. 

8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 20 ; 9 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 34. 
" A complaint of trespass was again lodged by the 

abbot in 1335. Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 6 J. ; 

9 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 25 J. 

*' Close, 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 30,^. 

the same year protection was granted to the abbey 
with the appointment of Hugh de Courtenay, earl 
of Devon, and Hugh his son as custodians ; we 
may note that at this time the reason hitherto 
alleged for its poverty-stricken condition — the bad 
rule of abbots — had given place to another — ' the 
frequent visits of the king's enemies coming upon 
us unawares.' *'' Richard II on 8 July, 1392, 
on payment of a fine licensed John Dygon and 
Gilbert Martyn to alienate ten messuages, with 
lands and rents in East Burton, to the abbot and 
convent in aid of their maintenance.*' The 
only entries in the course of the fourteenth 
century that do not relate to the material 
condition of the abbey occur in 1317, when the 
abbot and convent obtained leave to acquire 
lands and rents to the yearly value of ;^io for 
the provision of a chaplain to celebrate daily in 
the abbey for the soul of Edward I and of all 
good Christians, and for the good estate of the 
king and of Roger Damory;" and again in 
1325, when Thomas Crubbe of Dorchester was 
licensed to alienate two messuages and loj. rent 
in Dorchester in augmentation of the mainten- 
ance of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the abbey 
for the soul of the said Thomas, his ancestors, 
and all the faithful departed.^" 

The history of the abbey during the fifteenth 
century is practically a blank, and, as a house of 
the Cistercian order and ' exempt,' there are no 
references to Bindon in the episcopal registers 
which throw light on its later condition. '* 
Henry IV, in the first year of his reign, made 
over to his servant, John Crosby, the ;^20 which 
the convent had paid yearly to the late earl of 
Salisbury from the issues of the manor of Lul- 
worth," and in 1401 he made a life-grant to 
the abbot of a butt of wine yearly from the port 
of Melcombe." In 1485 John, then abbot of 
Bindon, was licensed to accept an ecclesiastical 
benefice with or without cure." 

There are various references to Bindon in the 
reign of Henry VIII. In 15 12 a grant of a 
corrody in the monastery was made in survivor- 
ship to William Wycombe on its surrender by 
Robert Thorney." In 1522 the abbot con- 
tributed j^66 13J. 4d. towards the grant by the 
spirituality for the expenses of the king in re- 
covering the crown of France.'^ He was sum- 
moned to convocation in 1529." On the abbey 

" Pat. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 9. 

" Ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. I,m. 19. 

" Ibid. II Edw. II, pt. I, m. 19. 

»» Ibid. 18 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 29. 

" In the middle of the fifteenth century the poor 
religious of the monastery of Bindon were declared 
' exempt ' by ancient custom from the payment of 
tithe. Sarum Epis. Reg. Beauchamp, fol. lij J. 

" Pat. I Hen. IV, pt. 5, m. 9. 

" Ibid. 3 Hen. IV, pt. i, m. 23. 

'* Sarum Epis. Reg. Langton, fol. 231/. 

" L. and P. Ht-n. nil, i, 3567. 

'^ Ibid, iii, 2483. " Ibid, iv, 6047. 



becoming void in 1534 the duke of Richmond 
wrote to Cromwell requesting him to grant the 
monks liberty to elect their own abbot, ' as the 
convent intends to take care of my deer ' in 
certain lands adjoining the monastery.'' In 
January the following year, the abbot of Ford, 
by virtue of the royal commission, was authorized 
to visit the Cistercian houses of Bindon and 
Tarrant," but no report has been found as to his 

The Valor of 1535 gave the abbey spiritualities 
amounting to j^i3 41. 6d. from the parsonage of 
Chaldon, and tithes in Winfrith Newburgh, 
Burngate, and West Chaldon,^" and temporalities 
from the manors of Bindon, Wool, East Burton, 
Pulham, Chaldon Herring, and South Fossil, 
West Lulworth, and other lands.'^ Among the 
expenses was the sum of 3^. 4^. annually dis- 
tributed to the poor in Chaldon, and 13J. ^.d. 
annually distributed at Abbotsbury for the soul 
of the founders, 'Roger' Newburgh and Ma- 
tilda his wife. The abbey, with a clear annual 
income ofj^i47 7;. 94^/.,^" came under the earlier 
Act for the suppression of all houses under the 
yearly value ofj^200.^' There is no evidence of 
a genuine desire on the part of Henry VIII to 
save the house, but on the payment of £300°* 
the king, by letters patent dated i6 November, 
1536, restored it and constituted the former 
abbot head ; the respite was of a very temporary 
nature, for the house fell with the larger monas- 
teries in 1539 and was suppressed on 14 March 
of that year.°* The abbot, John Norman, who 
signed the surrender deed with the prior and 
six brethren, received a pension of ;^50 ; the 
prior, who had a yearly corrody in the monas- 
tery of jTio, received j^8 ; Stephen Farsey 
was appointed to the living of Bindon, worth 
£6 135. 4(-/. without tithes and oblations, ' if he 
be impotent then to have io6j. ^.d.;' the sub- 
prior had £j ; and of the four remaining, one had 
£$, another ^4, and two received £2 each.^^ 

Abbots of Bindon 

John, resigned 1191, in which year he became 

abbot of Ford " 
Henry ^' 

Ralph, occurs 1227 °' 
John, occurs 1232'" 

'» L. and P. Hen. Fill, vii, 821. =' Ibid, viii, 74. 

"" Falor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 239. " Ibid. 240-1 . 

'' Ibid. " L. and P. Hen. VIII, x, 1238. 

"Ibid, xili (2), 457, I (3). 

" Ibid, xiv (i), 509. ^ Ibid. 

^^ Ann. Mon. (Rolls Ser.), i, 21. 

'" Given by Hutchins without reference, Hisl. of 
Dors, iii, 355. 

™ Ibid, from Fin. Cone. Dors. 1 1 Hen. Ill, No. 30. 

'" 16 Hen. Ill, m. 8 d". 

" Cited by Hutchins from a charter undated. Cus- 
tum. Glaston. 84. 

Robert, occurs 1243 ''"'^ 1252" 

Reginald, occurs 1275'^ 

William, occurs 1290'* 

Walter, elected 1309 '' 

Richard, occurs 1316'^ 

John de Monte Acuto, deposed 1331-2 by 

order of the chapter-general of Cheaux'' 
William, occurs 1331 "* 
Roger HarnhuU, appointed 1332"' 
William de Comenore, elected 1338"' 
Philip, occurs 1350*' 
William Chetus or Cletus, elected 1361 *^ 
William Fordington, occurs 1400*'* 
Robert Lulworth, occurs 1433** 
John Smith, occurs 1444*° 
William Comere, occurs 1446'° 
Robert, occurs 1458 and 1464*' 
Thomas, occurs 1467** 
John, occurs 1485 and 1495'' 
John Bryan, occurs 1499''' 
John Waleys, occurs 1523^^ 
Thomas, occurs 1529^^ 
John Norman, elected 1534, surrendered 

finally 1539°' 

A fourteenth-century pointed oval seal with 
a very imperfect impression and the legend en- 
tirely defaced represents two crowned saints in 
a canopied niche. There is an obliterated shield 
of arms on each side. In base under a pointed 
arch an abbot is lifting up his hands in adora- 
tion.'* A much mutilated example of this seal 
is attached to the surrender deed of the abbey ."^ 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dors, iii, 355. " Ibid. 

" Pat. 1 8 Edw. I, m. 29. He may probably be 
identical with William de Huleburn, who occurs 
1296. Ibid. 24 Edw. I, m. 17 J. 

" He made his profession and was blest by the 
bishop 5 Ides May of that year. Sarum Epis. Reg. 
Simon of Ghent, ii, fol. 79 </. 

" He was summoned to convocation in that year. 
Ibid. Mortival, il, fol. 31. 

" Close, 6 Edw. Ill, m. 3 d. 

" Pat. 5 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 15. This was probably 
merely a temporary appointment. 

" S.irum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 17. 

«" Ibid. fol. c,-j d. 

*' Cal. Pap. Letters, iii, 204. 

** Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 28612'. 

'' Hutchins, op. cit. " Ibid. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough. 

*° Ibid. " Hutchins, op. cit. 

^' Sarum Epis. Reg. Beauchamp, il, fol. 104. 

""^ Ibid. Langton, fol. 230 ; Blyth, fol. 47 d. 

" According to Hutchins (op. cit.) in that year 
John Brjan was made rector of Chaldon Herring by 
apostolic dispensation. 

"' Hutchins, op. cit. 

'' L. and P. Hen. VIII, iv, 6047. 

" Cf L. and P. Hen. VIII, vii, 821 ; Valor Eccl. 
(Rec. Com.), i, 421 ; L. and P. Hen. VIII, xiv (1), 

»' B.M. Seals, Ixii, 24. 

" Deeds of Surrender, No. 21. 






The Cistercian nunnery of Tarrant Kaines, 
commonly said to be of the foundation of 
Richard le Poor of Salisbury, owed its early 
origin to the ' ancient and renowned familie 
of Keines,' a member of which — Ralph de 
Kahaynes — according to Coker, ' in Richard the 
first's time built neare his mansion house a little 
monasterie for nunnes which his son William de 
Kahaynes much encreased.'^ 

Accepting the tradition which identifies these 
nuns with the sisters to whom was addressed 
that famous treatise, the ' Ancren Riwle,' that 
modern authority has attributed to Bishop Poor,' 
and assuming that the ' Riwle ' was written 
about the commencement of the thirteenth 
century, we find that the community at that 
time consisted of three ladies with their domestic 
servants, and that they are described as being 
' for your goodness and nobleness of mind 
beloved of many, sisters of one father and of 
one mother, having in the bloom of your youth 
forsaken all the pleasures of the world and 
become anchoresses.'^ It also appears that the 
sisters, though they had renounced the world to 
apply themselves to pious exercises and devout 
meditations, had not as yet joined any existing 
order, for the bishop advises them ' if any 
ignorant person ask you of what order you are, 
say that you are of the order of St. James,' 
which indeed had no existence in actual fact, but 
whose rule {Epist. i, 27), and especially the latter 
part of it, * to keep unspotted from the world,' 
was specially to be observed by them. It was 
probably by the counsel and consent of their 
benefactor that the community finally adopted 
the Cistercian rule, and it may account for the 
tradition soon after prevailing that the bishop was 
their actual founder. The step must have been 
taken before his translation to Durham in 1228, 
for the profession of Clarice, abbess of Tar- 
rant Kaines, to Bishop Richard le Poor as 
ordinary can still be seen at Salisbury.^ 

' In the modern parish of Tarrant Crawford. 

^Particular Surv. of Dorset (1732), 106. As 
Ralph de Kahaignes is returned in the Great Roll 
of the Pipe of 1 167-8 for the knights' fees at 
which he was assessed in the county, and William 
de Chahaygnes in the Roll of 1 186-7, 't seems 
more than probable that this ' little monasterie ' was 
founded during the reign of Henry II. Red Bk. of the 
Ex('h. (Rolls Ser.), i, 44.-64. 

^ The '■Ancren Riivle' (The King's Classics), 1905. 
Preface. * Ibid, p. 145. 

' Among a number of professions' kept in the muni- 
ment room of the cathedral. The nuns are described 
as belonging to that order in a royal mand.ite 

The earliest of a series of charters granted to 
the abbess and convent during the reiijn of 
Henry III is dated 24 July, 1235, and confirms 
to God, the church of All Saints, and the nuns 
serving God there all previous gifts, including 
those of the original founder and his son. Of 
the gift of Ralph de Kahaynes : the church of 
All Saints, the manse before the church and the 
croft near it, the mill before the manse, all the 
downs called ' Thorendon,' ' Holdeley,' and 
' Bushenden,' \\ acres of land in Goldecroft, 
the land called Medgare, and 2 acres of meadow 
at the hedge of Crawford, 2 acres of wood at 
Fordham Serlon,' 2 acres of wood in Chetred, 
and pasture for a plough-team of oxen with the 
oxen of the grantor, a virgate of land in Spettis- 
bury. William de Kahaynes added to his 
father's benefactions a tithe of all the bread made 
in his household wherever he should be in any 
part of his demesne 'saving the bread ofRenges,' 
a tithe of all salt meat whether of pigs, sheep, or 
cows killed in his household each year, one barrel 
of his prime and good ale for Christmas with 
another barrel of second ale, or malt to make as 
much, yearly ; the prior and convent of Christ- 
church, Twyneham, among other gifts gave two 
mills in Tarrant and pasturage for sheep and 
cattle, &c. ; the manor of Woodyates was the 
gift of William de Woodyates ; Richard, bishop 
of Durham, bestowed all the right which John de 
Reygate gave to him in the third part of a hide 
and in a messuage and garden in Pimperne.' 

Bishop Poor's interest in the house he had 
practically re-founded did not diminish on his 
translation to Durham ; he made over to the 
sisters the custody of the manor of Tarrant 
Kaines granted to him by Henry III during 
the minority of William, son and heir of 
William de Kahaynes, the king sanctioning 
the transfer on 7 February, 1237, ^"'^ ^^ ''^^ 
same time granting letters of protection to the 
abbess of the ' Blessed place upon the Tarrant.' * 
Two months later the bishop turned his 
steps homeward to die in his native place.' 

of 1233 prohibiting the exaction of any subsidy 
from the Cistercians. Close, 17 Hen. Ill, m. 

' The church appears originally under the dedica- 
tion of All Saints, but as all abbey churches of the 
Cistercian order were ipso facto dedicated in honour 
of the Blessed Virgin the church of Tarrant Craw- 
ford subsequently appears under the double dedication 
of St. Mary and All Saints (See Tanner, Notitia, Dor- 
set, xxviii), though it is also given as the church of 
St. Mary only. Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 265. 

' Chart. R. 19 Hen. Ill, m. 4. 

' Pat. 21 Hen. Ill, m. lo. 

' Tarrant is generally assumed to be his birthpKice. 
Leland, Itin. iii, 62. 



Matthew Paris describes the scene at Tarrant 
on 13 April, 1237, when, surrounded by the 
household, at the hour of comph'ne, devoutly 
following the prayers, Richard le Poor at the 
words, ' I will lay me down in peace and sleep ' 
passed peacefully away.^" Before his death he 
had sought to secure the welfare of this loved 
community by placing the house under the pat- 
ronage of Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III, who 
is afterwards occasionally termed the founder, 
the house becoming popularly known as Benc- 
dtctus Locus Reg'tne super Tarant. In October 
following the death of their benefactor Henry III 
confirmed to the sisters the grants set out in 
his previous charter of 1235 with fresh addi- 
tions, including the gift by William de la 
Prentice of all his right in the hermitage of 
Mannington, at the same time notifying that he 
had taken under his protection the abbey of 
Tarrant ' which Richard, sometime bishop of 
Durham, founded.' In 1265 the king bestowed 
on the abbess and convent — styled ' of the Cis- 
tercian order' — for the good of his soul and 
the soul of Eleanor, queen of England, ' our 
consort,' his manor of Hurstbourne Tarrant 
in Hants for the service of half a knight's 

The year following the bishop's death the 
abbey was called on to give burial to a sister of 
Henry III, Joan the wife of Alexander II of 
Scotland, who fell ill while on a visit south to 
her brother, and dying 4 March, 1238, 
bequeathed her body to the nuns for burial ; '- 
the king in the same month testified that he 
was bound to assign to the abbess and convent, 
within fifteen days of Easter next, land to the 
value of ;/^20 a year according to a bequest 
made to them by his sister Joan, sometime 
queen of Scotland.^' A few years later, in 
1246, a grant was made to the Abbess Maud 
that the sheriff of Dorset should henceforth be 
charged with the provision of two wax lights to 
burn day and night in the abbey, one before the 
host and the other before the place where the 
body of the late queen lay buried.'* 

It would be impossible to enumerate all the 
gifts made to this favoured house in the course of 
the thirteenth century. A charter dated 2 1 April, 
1242, sets out at considerable length all previous 
grants, many of which had been included 
in the charters of 1235 and 1237 already 

'° Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 479. 

" Rot. Fin. 50 Hen. Ill, m. 8. 

" Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), iii, 479. 
The sheriff of the county lodged an account in 
the Exchequer for 1 00/. which at the king's com- 
mand he had paid for having an effigy of a queen 
carved in marble stone, for the carriage of the s.ime to 
the abbey of Tarrant and there placing it over the 
tomb of the queen of Scotland. 

" Pat. 22 Hen. Ill, m. 8. 

" Ibid. 30 Hen. Ill, m. 3. 

mentioned.^' On 5 December, 1252, Henry III 
granted to the nuns for the soul of his sister 
Joan that they and their men should be quit 
of suits of the county and hundred court 
and of sherifTs tourn, that they might claim the 
amercements of their men before the king's 
justices whether in eyre or on the bench ; the 
right of free election ' as fully as obtains in 
the Cistercian order,' and the right of free 
warren in all their demesne lands in Dorset, 
Wilts., and Sussex, provided they should not be 
within the king's forest.^' Edward I exhibited 
the same regard shown by his father, and at the 
instance of his wife, Eleanor of Castille, restored 
to the nuns the wood of Beer which John de 
Bohun had formerly bestowed on them without 
licence of the king, with the result that it had 
escheated to the crown.'' The manor of Bin- 
derton, the gift of Bernard de Sauve, was 
included in a charter of confirmation granted in 
the eighth year of the king.'* 

According to the Taxatio of 1291 the yearly 
income of the convent came to £,i2i> 16;. 4^^., 
including spiritualities from the churches of 
Tarrant Kaines, Little Crawford, and Wood- 
yates amounting to ^^ 1 2 bs. 2id}^ Their tem- 
poralities were assessed at ^i^ in the deanery of 
Dorchester, ^^33 loj. 2i\d. in the deanery of 
Whitchurch, £\() gx. "jd. in the deanery of 
Pimperne, ^^22 lbs. ^d. in the manor of Han- 
ford within the Shaftesbury deanery.** The 
total value of their possessions within this county 
came to ;^ioi 31. 45^., and they had ^^15 from 
the manor of Binderton in the diocese of 
Chichester,'' and j^io 31. from the manor 
of Hurstbourne Tarrant in the Winchester 
diocese.^^ In spite of the respectable rent-roll 
represented by these figures we read that in 
1292 the abbess obtained leave from the 
king to sell forty oaks from her manor of 

" Chart. R. 26 Hen. Ill, m. 3. Among other gifts 
the charter includes the church of St. Nicholas of 
Woodyates with a virgate of land, the gift of the 
prior and canons of Breamore (H;ints), the manor, 
advowson of the church, and mill of Hanford given 
by John de Mares and Agatha his wife, which the 
king had confirmed, quit of all suit and foreign 
service, 26 February, 1240 (ibid. 24 Hen. Ill, m. 
3), with licence to hold a weekly market on Tuesday, 
and a yearly fiir on the vigil, feast, and morrow of St. 
James (ibid. 25 Hen. Ill, m. 3). 

"Chart. R. 37 Hen. Ill, m. 18. On i July, 
1245, a royal licence was granted for the abbess to 
hold free of service and in frankalmoign all the land 
in Gussage All Saints, which by a former grant the 
king had permitted Imbert Pugnes to give to them 
for the same service for which he had held it. Ibid. 
29 Hen. Ill, m. 3. 

" Close, 4 Edw. I, m. 10. 

"Chart. 8 Edw. I, No. 35. 

" Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 178. 

""Ibid. 184*, 185. 

" Ibid. 1383. »' Ibid. 213*. 



Hurstbourne to whomsoever she would in order 
to pay her debts.^' 

Save for the record of their temporal posses- 
sions the community rarely emerge from the 
obscurity that veils their history. It is evident 
that the name by which they continued to be 
known, ' the poor nuns of Tarrant,' "* was 
something of a misnomer if it should be read to 
imply absolute poverty. The time had long 
gone by since the days when the sisters were 
warned by the bishop to avoid the holding of 
personal property : ' Ye shall not possess any 
beast, mv dear sisters, except only a cat,' or, when 
seeking their pittance in the hall of their early 
founder, were bidden ' be glad in your heart if 
ye suffer insolence from Slurry the cook's boy 
who washeth dishes in the kitchen.' " As 
belonging to the Cistercian order the house was 
technically ' exempt,' and beyond forwarding a 
copy of the Constitutions of Pope Boniface for 
enforcing the stricter inclosure of nuns in 1301 
the bishop, so far as we can gather from the 
registers, made no attempt to impose his authority 
therein.^^ At all events history does not deprive 
us of the hope that these ladies remained true 
to the ideal of the Christian life pointed out to 
them by their early friend. 

In the fourteenth century certain chantries 
were founded in the conventual church that 
prayers might continually be offered for the souls 
of royal and distinguished benefactors. In 1347 
in consideration of the sum of 4.6s. 8d., Thomas 
Baret obtained a licence to bestow certain mes- 
suages and lands in Charlton and Little Crawford 
for the provision of a chaplain to celebrate every 
IVIonday in the abbey church at the altar of St. 
Mary for the good estate of the king, for his soul 
when dead, the souls of his progenitors, the 
grantor and his heirs.^' Thirty years later, by 
an indenture dated 'Nuns Tarent, Saturday, St. 
Mark,' the nuns granted to ' Sir ' Thomas Gilden, 
chaplain, a weekly corrody for life from their 
abbey, with a chamber in the houses lately built 
by Thomas Baret to be kept in repair by the 
abbess, and assigned to him the office of chaplain 
of the parish church of All Saints, Little Crawford, 
'otherwise called St. Margaret's Chapel,' in return 

" Close, 20 Edw. I, m. 9. 

" The name by which the sisters are designated 
in the reigns of Henry III and Henry IV, and later 
still when they were declared to be 'exempt' by 
ancient custom from the payment of tax and subsidy. 
Close, 1 7 Hen. Ill, m. l^J.; Pat. i Hen. IV, pt. 2, 
m. 17, 28 ; Sarum Epis. Reg. Beauchamp, fol. 
187 </. 

"The 'Jncrert Ritv/e' (the King's Classics), 316, 

^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, fol. 73. The 
abbess, in common with Bindon and the heads 
generally of Cistercian houses, was blessed by the 
bishop, to whom she made profession on her 

" Pat. 21 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, No 21. 


for ;^20 paid by him to the abbess and for other 
benefits.'^ In 1383 Sir Robert Rous, whom 
Leland mentions as a great benefactor of the 
sisters,^' desired by his will to be buried in the 
abbey, ' the place of St. Richard the Bishop ; ' 
among other legacies bequeathing to every nun 
at Tarrant 40d., to every sister 2s., and an annual 
rent of 8 marks for the provision of four priests tcj 
celebrate at the altar ' near the body of St. Richard 
in St. Michael's church in Tarrant Kaines,' and 
two priests in the church of St. Mary at Tarrant 
Crawford ; to the abbess he left a pair of gold 
beads with other plate engraved with his own 
and his wife's arms.'" On 23 February, 1389, a 
licence was granted for the alienation of the 
manor of Tarrant Keynston by Robert, bishop 
of London, Walter Clopton, William Gascoigne, 
and John, parson of Keynston, to the abbess and 
convent for the ordination of a chantry of two 
chaplains in the abbey to celebrate daily for the 
souls of Robert Rous, knt., Joan his wife, his 
parents and friends, and to perpetuate various acts 
of piety for the benefit of their souls and the 
souls of the father and mother of Joan, according 
to the ordinance of the bishop. '^ 

The fifteenth century is almost bare of records 
relating to this house. Henry IV on 3 March, 
1403, inspected and confirmed letters patent of 
Richard II in 1394, confirming the charter of 
Henry III for the right of free warren within all 
the demesne lands of the abbey.'' The grant 
may have been specially made in consequence of 
a complaint lodged by the Abbess Joan in May, 
1402, that Robert Turbulville, ' chevalier,' and 
others had transgressed her right of free warren 
at Beer, hunted and fished her preserves, felled 
her trees, and assaulted her servants.'' The epis- 
copal registers record that a dispensation was 
granted to the abbess on 9 September, 1406, 
allowing her to have divine service celebrated for 

" The corrody was to consist of a weekly allowance 
of bread and ale, with a daily pittance of fish or flesh 
'such as each nun received,' a cart-'.oad of wood and a 
cart-load of litter yearly at Michaelmas. Pat. 5 Ric. II, 
pt. I, m. 31. By insfeximus. 

" Leland, Itin. iii, 62. 

^^ The terms of the will, if correctly reported by 
Hutchins {Hist, of Dorset, iii, 122), are somewhat per- 
plexing, as the bishop of Durham, Richard Poor, was 
buried in the church of Tarrant Crawford or Litde 
Crawford, and not in the church of Tarrant Kaines. 
The two churches are described as ' not 4 furlongs apart,' 
and were united in the seventeenth century. Ibid, 
iii, 122. See a paper of the Rev. E. Highton, Last 
Resting Place of a Scottish Queen and a great English 

^' Pat. 12 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 20. This foundation 
is not entered in the list of chantries suppressed by 
the Acts of Henry VIII and Edward VI. 

" Ibid. 4 Hen. IV, pt. 2, ra. 37. 

" A commission was appointed to investigate the 
case. Ibid. 3 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 17 </. ; 5 Hen. IV, 
pt. I, m. \zd.\ pt. 2, m. 29 -s*. 
89 12 


herself and her household wherever she might be 
w::hin the city and diocese of Salisbury.'^ 

'Terenta of the Nuns' was included among 
religious houses of the Cistercian order to be 
visited by the abbot of Ford in virtue of the 
royal commission, January, 1535," but no report 
is recorded of its condition. 

The Valor of the same year gives the abbey a 
clear annual income of jr2l4 7;. <^d., the abbess 
claiming to be discharged of a yearly allowance 
of £t, for an annual distribution of bread to the 
poor on Maundy Thursday in commemoration of 
' Eleanor, sometime queen of England, the 
foundress."^ The convent held the par- 
sonages of Little Crawford, Woodyates, and 
Hanford, with a portion out of the church of 
Tarrant Keynston.'^ The abbey was at that 
time void, conge cTHire on the death of Edith, last 
abbess, being granted in August of the same year.'* 
The names of the principal officers are given as 
follows : — Margaret Lynde, prioress ; Anna 
Cheverell, sub-prioress ; Joan More, cellarer ; 
Alicia Hart, sacrist.'^ 

Margaret Russell, who succeeded, held office 
till 13 March, 1539, when with the sub-prioress 
and eighteen of her nuns she surrendered the 
abbey into the hands of the royal commissioner, 
John Smyth. A pension of j^40was assigned to 
the abbess, to the prioress ^^6 1 31. 4^., to the sub- 
prioress lOOi., and to the seventeen remaining 
sisters sums ranging from £^ to 66;. 2id. each.*" 

William Joliffe, chaplain, later received a pension 

of SV- 4^^-" 

After the Dissolution the abbey, with the 
manor of Preston or Tarrant Crawford, was 
granted in reversion to Sir Thomas Wyatt ; *- 
a few years later it came into the hands of 
Richard Savage and W. Strangways.*' 

Abbesses of Tarrant Kaines 

Claricia, elected about 1228" 

Maud, occurs 1240" 
IsolJa, occurs 1280^' 
Elena, elected 1298 ''^ 
Anne, occurs 135 i *' 

Clemence de Cernyngton, occurs 1377*° 
Joan, occurs 1402 '^ 
Avice, occurs 1404'" 
Edith Coker, died in 1535 " 
Margaret Russell, elected 1535," surrendered 
March, 1539" 

The thirteenth-century pointed oval seal 
attached to the surrender deed of the abbey 
represents on a corbel the Virgin with crown, 
standing, the Holy Child on the left arm. Be- 
fore her the abbess kneeling holds up a flowering 
branch. In the field two trees.'* 

The legend runs : — 




It cannot exactly be stated when the preceptory 
of Friar Mayne was erected, though there is ample 
evidence that the Knights Hospitallers possessed 
property here and at West Knighton early in the 
reign of Edward I.^ Thus it is reported among 
the inquisitions returned 3 Edward I that Thomas 
del Boys gave to the hospital of St. John of 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mitford, fol. 1 15 </. 

« L. and P. Hen. Fill, viii, 74. 

^ Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 265-7. " Ibid. 

"* L. and P. Hen. Vlll, ix, 236. 

'' Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 267. 

*» L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiv (l), 515. 

" Add. MS. 19047, fol. 6. 

" Dugd-ile, Mon. v, 628. 

" Tar.ner, Votltia, Dorset, No. xxviii. 

" Her profession to Richard le Poor, bishop of 
Salisbury, cannot be later, as in that year he was 
translated to Durham. 

" Her profession on election, undated, can be seen 
in the muniment room at the cathedral at Salisbury. 

« Chart. R. 24 Hen. III,m. 3. 

*' Hutchins, Hist, oj Dorset, iii, 121. 

*' In that year she did homage to the bishop on her 
election ; Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, i, fol. 33. 

Jerusalem land in Kyngeston or Knighton which 
used to do suit and service at the hundred court, 
and that this service valued at li. had been with- 
drawn by the prior and brethren." In 1290 the 
prior of the order obtained from Edward I a 
charter of free warren in all the demesne lands 
of his manor of Mayne,' and in the Taxatio of 

•' Cat. of Pap. Letters, iii, 407. 

"> Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 31. 

*' Ibid. 3 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. ij d. 

" Ibid. 5 Hen. I\', pt. 2, m. 29 d. 

« L. and P. Hen. Vlll, ix, 236. 

** Both Dugdale and Tanner make the mistake of 
giving Margaret L}-nde, who was prioress when the 
Valor of 1535 vvas t.-ken, as abbess; Dugdale, 
Mon. V, 620 ; Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 12 I. 

" L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiv (i), 515. This list, 
with the addition of fresh names and some corrections 
of date, closely follows that of Hutchins, Hist, of 
Dorset, iii, 121. 

" Deeds of Surrender, No. 233. 

' According to Hutchins {Hist, of Dorset, ii, 498) 
Knighton took its name from the Knights Templars 
or Hospitallers here (Knightoun); Friar Mayne, now a 
hamlet in West Knighton parish, was formerly a manor 

' Bund. R. (Rec. Com.), i, 100. 

' Chart. R. 18 Edw. I, No. 810. 



1 29 1 he is said to have had a portion out of the 
church of Knighton.* 

The preceptory was founded some time be- 
tween then and the year 1338, when full 
particulars of the bailiwick of Mayne are given in 
the return made of the possessions of the Hos- 
pitallers of England to the Grand Master of the 
Order by Philip de Thame, provincial prior of 
England. The ' bajulia de Maine ' with its 
members Knighton and Waye was valued at 
144 marks, 2s. lod. ;° the outgoings amounted 
to 63 marks 5^- 4<^-> ^nd included ordinary ex- 
penses of the household with the exercise of 
hospitality, a duty much enjoined on all members 
of the order — _^8 14?.; a life-corrody to Sir Robert 
de Norfolk at the table of the brethren, a robe 
and his necessaries, 271. ; the kitchen, £"] 16s. ; 
the brewing of the beer, ^^5 145. id. ; robes, 
mantles, and other necessaries for the preceptor 
and his brother knight, 69;. ^.d. ; for the squire 
and others of the household, 50J. ; the chaplain's 
stipend for celebrating in the chapel was 20s. ; 
the cost of entertaining the prior for three 
days on his annual visit came to bos. An annual 
pension of £2 6s. Sd. was paid to the vicar of 
Stinsford,' and small payments of 6s. and Js. to 
the rector of Warmwell and the prior of Holme 
respectively. The household consisted at that 
time of the preceptor, brother John Larcher, 
junior ; Richard Bernard, his brother knight ; and 
Sir Robert de Norfolk, the corrody-man or 
boarder ' in the place of a knight,' besides squire 
and servants.' The balance to be paid into the 
treasury after all expenses had been met amounted 
to 79 marks lOs. lod. The house was not 
reported in a very good state, for the court at 
Mayne was ' badly built,' the house in ruins : 
* burnt by misfortune,' so that the whole return 
of the bailiwick for one year would hardly suffice 
to repair the buildings, and owing to these un- 

* Pofe Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 1 79. The first 
presentation to the rectory of West Knighton was made 
in 1304 (Hutchins, 7^///. of Doiset, ii, 504). Stinsford 
church is not mentioned in the Taxation of 1 291, 
but is given as appropriated to the preceptory and 
worth 18 marks in the return made by the provincial 
prior of England in 1338 (Larking, Knights Hospitallers 
in England [Camd. Soc], 11); the first presentation to 
the vicarage is recorded in 13 19 (Hutchins, Hist, of 
Dorset, ii, 569). 

' At Mayne besides dovecot and water-mill there 
were 340 acres of land, 15J acres of meadow and 
pasture for 12 oxen, 12 cows, and 500 sheep; at 
Knighton, a messuage and garden, 68 acres of land, 
\\ acres of meadow, and pasture for 6 oxen, 8 cows, 
and 100 sheep ; at Waye a messuage with garden, 10 
acres of meadow, 160 acres of land, and pasture for 
6 oxen, 8 cows, and 100 sheep ; Larking, Knights 
Hospitallers in England (Camd. Soc), lo-l I. 

* This payment was made up to 1535, and is given 
in the Valor Eccl. of that year ; op. cit. (Rec. Com.), 
i, 262. 

' Larking, Knights Hospitallers in England (Camd. 
Soc), lO-II. 

fortunate circumstances that voluntary contri- 
bution to their funds by the neighbourhood, on 
which every preceptory relied for a large fraction 
of its income, could hardly be expected to reach 
the average of 36 marks.* 

The establishment at Mayne previous to the 
Dissolution seems to have become incorporated 
with or united to the larger and more flourishing 
preceptory of Baddesley or Godsfield in Hamp- 
shire. In 1523 brother William Weston paid 
;^38 17J. I (^. for the commandery of Baddesley 
and Mayne into the treasury or capital fund of 
the order for the year ending at the feast of St. 
John the Baptist,^ and in 1533 the prior and 
hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, by an indenture 
dated 27 June, leased to John Gerard of Tincle- 
ton the capital messuage or mansion of their 
manor of Friar Mayne with the tithes of the 
chapel and a warren of coneys in Lewell or East 
Stafford for a term of twenty-one years. ^'^ The 
preceptory, therefore, in all but the name, seems to 
have sunk to the position of a ' camera ' or estate 
maintaining no community and farmed out for 
the benefit of the society. 

In the Valor of 1 535 all receipts and payments, 
with the exception of the rectory of West 
Knighton, are made out jointly in the name of 
the commandery or preceptory of Baddesley or 
Mayne ; the receipts were 20J. %d. from the 
aforesaid rectory,^' i^d. out of the rectory of 
Langton Matravers and Worth," and 55. in tithes 
out of West Chaldon ; " the vicar of Stinsford 
received a stipend of £2. 6s. 8d. as in the return 
of 1338.1* 

At the Dissolution the property of the Knights 
Hospitallers was by Act of Parliament vested in 
the crown, and the manor and premises here in 
reversion of the afore-mentioned lease were 
granted by Edward VI to William Dennys for 
twenty-one years." On the re-establishment of 
the order under Philip and Mary they were re- 
stored in 1558 to Thomas Tresham, Grand Pre- 
ceptor of St. John of Jerusalem,'^ but the advent 

» Ibid. 

' Hutchins, quoting from the records of the 
Knights Hospitallers at Malta, says that in 153 1 Roger 
Boydell, preceptor of Baddesley and Mayne, paid by 
the hand of Francis Balyard j^44 12/. id. into the 
treasury and the same in 1532. In 1533-4 Thomas 
Dingley paid ^44 12s. id. for Baddesley and Mayne 
for half a year, and he owed the same sum for 1535. 
Hist, of Dorset, ii, 501. '" Ibid. 499. 

" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 244. '» Ibid. 

1' Ibid. 239. " Ibid. 262. " Pat. 5 Edw. VI. 

" Pat. 4 & 5 Phil, and Mary, pt. 14. This 
restoration comprised not only the manor of Friar 
Mayne and Westbroke with messuages and lands in 
Westbroke, East Stafford, Warmwell, West Waddon, 
and Dorchester and a pension of 20/. %d. from 
West Knighton rectory, all belonging to the precep- 
tory of Friar Mayne, but certain other lands and rents 
in the county belonging to the preceptory of Temple 
Combe in Somerset included in the same patent of re- 



to the throne of Elizabeth brought about the 
destruction of the order anew, and the queen in 
April, 1564, in consideration of the sum of 
j^ 1,189 '9*- 7^- re-granted the manor in rever- 
sion of the former lease of Edward VI to 
William Pole of Shute and Edward Downing 
and their heirs." In addition to the preceptory 
of Mayne with its members West Knighton and 
Waye, the order possessed a smaller estate re- 

turned in 1338 as the 'camera' of Chilcombe, 
which comprised the manors of Chilcombe and 
Toller Fratrum with the rectory of the latter; 
it was valued at £\ 55. 4^., paid 30 marks 
into the treasury at Clerkenwell, and was farmed 
out to Ivo de Chilcombe.'* The HospitaUers 
also held lands in Hammoon, Watercombe, 
MarnhuU, Wareham, Upway, Charlton Marshall, 
Turnworth, and Shroton.*' 



On 8 December, 1267, Henry III granted 
twelve oaks in Gillingham Forest to the Friars 
Preachers to repair the fabric of their church at 
Gillingham.' This was probably a chapel con- 
nected with the royal palace.^ No other reference 
to the house has yet been found. 


The friary at Melcombe Regis was the last 
Dominican house established in England. It was 
founded by Hugh Deverell, knt., and John Rogers, 
chief of the house of Rogers of Bryanston in 
Dorset.* In furtherance of their purpose the 
provincial of England, supported by the master- 
general of the order, applied to the Holy See in 
141 8 for powers to make the foundation; and 
on 1 7 August Martin V gave the necessary leave 
for erecting a convent here, with church, belfry, 
churchyard and cloister, and all things necessary for 
a religious house, even without the consent of the 
ordinary of the diocese, provided there was no 
other house of Mendicants within the distance of 
150 cannae (about 280 yards) and saving the 
rights of the parochial churches.' Deverell and 
Rogers then gave two messuages, two tofts and 
four curtilages, containing altogether 270 ft. in 
length and 160 ft. in breadth, held of the crown 
in free burgage at a rent of 2J. I^;^. a year and 
estimated at the annual value of 65. ^d. This site 
wasconveyed toEdward Polyng, who was appoint- 
ed thefirst prior ' both by the superiors of theOrder 
and by the aforesaid Hugh and John,'' and with 

" Tanner, Notitia, Dorset, xvi. 

" Larking, The Knights Hosf'italUrs in England 
(Camd. Sec), 105-6. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 502. 

' Close, 5 2 Hen. Ill, m. 12. 

' Cf. the houses of Friars Preachers and Minors at 
Clarendon ; Liberate R. 34 Hen. Ill, m. 5 ; 54 Hen. 
lll,m. 2. 

' Rev. C. F. R. Palmer, ' The Friar-Preachers of 
Melcombe Regis,' in The Reliquary, xxi, 72-6. 

* Cf. Leland, Itin. ( ed. 1745), iii, 65. 

'Refill, xxi, from Bull. Ord. Pracd. 

'Pat. 8 Hen. VI, pt. 3, m. 4. 

him were associated friars John Lok and John 
Lowen to carry on the new foundation. They 
immediately established a chapel and set up an 
altar in one of the houses and began their spiritual 
ministrations among the people. John Chandler, 
bishop of Sarum, opposed the new foundation, and 
in 1426 shortly before his death declared the 
friars contumacious and forbade their proceedings.' 
Deverell and Rogers, however, secured the royal 
licence for the foundation 16 February 1 430-1 * 
and addressed a petition to the bishop, Robert 
Neville.' In this they stated that they had begun 
the house moved by the desolation of the town ; 
that there was no place dedicated to God in Mel- 
combe ; that the parochial church of Radipole 
was a long mile and a half away and was incon- 
venient for the burgesses ; that the inhabitants 
were rude, illiterate, and situated in angulo terrae : 
that the vill lay open to enemies, whereby the 
king's rent was not paid and the customs were 
diminished. An arrangement was soon made 
with the bishop and the prohibition removed. 

The friars did not confine their attention to 
the spritual welfare of the inhabitants, but contri- 
buted to the defence of the town and increase of 
the port by building a jetty against the ebb and flow 
of the tide. After they had begun this work, 
they determined to add a tower as a fortification 
for the town, port, and their own house. They 
therefore applied to the crown for help, and on 
17 February, 1445-6, received from the king and 
council a grant of land, 1,000 ft. long and 600 ft. 
broad by the sea for the site of the tower in free 
alms without any rent, and also a sum of ^10 a 
year for twelve years out of the customs and sub- 
sidies of the port of Poole towards the expenses 
of making the jetty.'" In the Act of Resumption 
passed in 1450 this grant was specially exempted 

in consideration of the great charge and costs that 
they have had and yet must have in making and re- 
pairing of a jetty in defence of the said town of Mel- 
combe against the flowing of the sea." 

'Sarum Epis. Reg. Chandler inter acta, fol. 54; 
Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (ed. 3), ii, 454. 

» 8 Hen. VI, pt. 3, m. 4. 

' Sarum Epis. Reg. Neville, inter acta, fol. 34 ; 
Hutchins, loc. cit. 

'"Pat. 24 Hen. VI, pt. 2, m. 24. 

" Par/. R. v, 187. 



Friar Simon Ball or Bell, sometime prior of 
this house, was collated to the rectory of Radipole, 
18 December, 1533.'^ Owen Watson, rector of 
Portland, who died in 1533, willed his body to 
be buried at the Friars Preachers here where he 
had built a tomb for himself.^' 

Shortly before the Dissolution some new altars 
were erected and new stalls placed in the choir 
and new seats in the church, as appears from the 
inventory of the 'stuff' taken at the end of Sep- 
tember 1538, when the bishop of Dover as visitor 
took the priory into the king's hands.'* Among 
the belongings of the house may be noticed in 
the choir a fair table of alabaster, ' a fair table 
folk of beyond sea work,' a frame of iron hanging 
for tapers, and new stalls : in the church, new 
altars, seven images, six marble stones, new ceiled 
seats at the Jesus altar, new seats in the body of 
the church, and a little bell in the steeple. The 
contents of the parlour, buttery, and vestry were 
few and poor : in the chambers were four old 
bedsteads, one feather bed and one flock bed : the 
kitchen also was scantily furnished, though every- 
thing seems to be included in the inventory down 
to a broken saucer. The visitor, however, paid 
his expenses and discharged the debts owing by 
the house, which amounted only to 20s. He 
carried away a chalice weighing ii|^oz. and left 
the house in charge of John Gierke, controller of 
the customs.'^ There was no lead except a few 
gutters,'* and the timber was hardly sufficient to 
keep the fences in repair." 

The Black Friars was let in 1541 to Sir 
John Rogers, knt., grandson of the founder, for 
twenty-one years at a rent of 1 35. ^.d. a year." 
Sir John purchased the whole with other 

"Ellis, Hist, and Jntiq. of Weymouth, 261 ; Hist. 
MSS. Com. Rep. v, 581. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 454. 

"i. and P. Hen. Fill, xiii (2), 12 14. 

" Ibid. Ellis in his History and Jntiquitiei of Wey- 
mouth (1829) has preserved an inventory of jewels and 
plate of this house which probably dates from the 
Dissolution ; the articles mentioned are a short pair 
of beads of gold coral with eighteen stones of silver and 
a ring of silver and a Saint Dominic's shell ; sixteen 
rings of gold, and a ' gymmere ' (a ring with two rounds 
of pearls) of stones and a buckle of gold ; an Agnus 
Dei of silver ; a circlet of silver ; a cross of silver ; 
a box with two silver beads ; a paten of silver ; 
a chalice of silver ; a Holy Rood ; a piscina ; a 
pair of beads of gilt with stones of silver ; a pyx; 
an ampul, etc. He also mentions a tradition that 
the prior had a wonder-working chair, the gift 
of a cardinal and engraved with a cardinal's hat and 
' certain arms,' which at the Dissolution was ' con- 
verted into the municipal office of holding the persons 
of the borough representatives.' Ellis had, however, 
found no trace of it. The tradition (mentioned by 
Hutchins) that there was a nunnery adjoining the 
priory is without foundation. 

^"L. and P. Hen. Fill, xiii (2), 489. 

" Partic. for Gts. (P.R.O.), file 944. 

'« Ibid.; L. and P. Hen. Fill, xvii, 703. 

monastic lands in 1543, holding the friary at a 
rent of \6d. from the crown." 

The friary was situated in the east part of the 
town, in Maiden Street, near the sea.^" Leland 
called it a ' fair house.' '' The patron saint of 
the church was, according to Speed, St. Dominic ; 
according to Willis, St. Winifred. The ceme- 
tery appears to have been on the north side, 
where many skulls and bones were dug up in 
1682. The priory was in a ruinous condition 
in 1650, but some old buildings still remained 
in 1803, including the church, which had been 
converted into a malt-house. In 1861 the 
whole of the buildings were pulled down and 
the ground cut up into building plots.^' 


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.^^ 

The date and circumstances of its founda- 
tion are unknown. It was already in exist- 
ence in 1267, as in that year the friars were 
presented for encroaching upon the road by 
erecting a wall ; ^ 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.^' It is said by 
Speed to have been built by the ancestors of 
Sir John Chideock.^^ Richard III claimed it as 
a royal foundation,^' probably with justice. At 
the time of the Dissolution there was still a 
room in the friary known as ' the king's cham- 
ber.' ^' The house was already a large one 
containing thirty-two friars in May 1296, when 
Edward I gave them 321. for three days' food 
through Friar Nicholas of Exeter.^' In a deed 

" L. and P. Hen. Fill, xviii (2), 241 (31) ; xix 
(1), 278 (40); Pat. 35 Hen. VIII, pt. I, m. 34; 
and pt. 14, m. 11. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 454. 

" Leland, Itin. iii, 65. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 455. 

" Ibid. (ed. 3), ii, 364. 

" Assize R. 202. " Ibid. 

" 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. Ill, 28. 

" Harl. MS. 433, fol. 131. 

" L. and P. Hen. Fill, xiii (2), 474 (2). 

" B.M. Add. MS. 7965, fol. 7. 



dated 1310 a burgage held by the abbey of 
Milton is described as lying near the Friars 
Minors,'" and in the same year the house 
received legacies from Thomas Button, bishop 
of Exeter," and from Robert Bingham of 

Friars of this house received licence to preach 
and hear confessions, as Friar John of Grymston 
in 1338." 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.** 

Alexander Riston, rector of the church of 
Sarum, left these friars two quarters of corn and 
one of barley, c. 1393 :" and Robert Grenelefe 
aSas Baker of Dorchester left them his ' best 
bason with ewer and best brass pot' in 1420."' 
They also had bequests from Elizabeth de 
Burgh, Lady Clare (1355)," Sir Robert Rous, 
knt. (1383),'' John de Waltham, bishop of 
Salisbury (1395),'' John Seward (1400),** 
Sir William Boneville, knt. (1407)," William 
Ekerdon, canon of Exeter (141 3)," John Pury 
of Dorchester (1436)," William Wenard of 
Devonshire (1441)," John Martyn of Dorches- 
ter (1450)," Thomas Strangways (1514).^* 

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 sen'ice there and 
receive the rents to their use.*' This hospital 
had been endowed with lOOs. of rent by 
William Mareschal of Dorchester in 1324,*' and 
in the time of Henry VIII the master of the 
chapel of St. John held nine burgages or tene- 
ments in the parish of St. Peter, thirteen in the 
parish of All Saints, and two in that of Holy 
Trinity." The hospital had already been 

*> Hutchins, Hiit. 0/ Dorset, ii, 364. 

" jiccount of the Executors of . . . Thomas bishop of 
Exeter (Camd. Soc), 42. 

'' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 364. 

" Reg. Rod. de Sahpia (Somers. Rec. Soc. ix), 322. 

" Camb. Univ. Lib. MS. Dd. iii, 53, fol. 97. 

'=■ P.C.C. Rous, fol. 66b. 

'« Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 387. 

" Nicholas, Royal and Noble Wills, 33-4. 

^ P.C.C. Rous, fol. I ; Coll Top. et Geneal. iii, 

»' P.C.C. Rous, fol. 32. 

*° Cant. Archiepis. Reg. Arundel i, fol. I93'»,- cf. 
Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 389-90. 

*' E.xeter Epis. Reg. Stafford, 391. 

" Ibid. 402. 

" Hutchins, Hist of Dorset, ii, 364, 388. 

" P.C.C. Rous, fol. 105. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 364, 388. 

" P.C.C. Fetiplace, qu. 13. 

" Harl. MS. 433, fol. 131. 

«' Pat. 17 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 28. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 408-9. 

conferred on Eton College by Henry VI and it 
is doubtful whether the grant of it to the Grey 
Friars took effect.'*' 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." 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 8oj. 
a year to this friary.*- 

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 
spritual 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 40i. 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 bd. ; 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 Jolm 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 sur- 

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.'' 

It is noteworthy that Sir John Byconil made 
no bequest to any houses of friars in his will in 
1500.'* His widow Elizabeth left 20s. to the 
friars of Dorchester in 1504." 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 

" On this hospital see Dugdale, Mon. vi, 759. 

" Ibid. 

" Harl. MS. 433, fol. 1643. 

" Fr. a. S. Clara (Chr. Davenport), Hist. Minor 
Fratrum Minorum Pror. Jngliae, 37-8 ; Collectanea 
jing.'o-Minoritica, i, 208 ; Dugdale, Mon. vi ; Hutchins,. 
Hist, of Dorset, ii, 364. 

" P.C.C. Blamyr, 5. 

" Ibid. Holgrave, 15. 



successors to the privileges of confraternity by 
Richard Draper, D.D., custodian of the custody 
of Bristol and warden of the convent of 

Sir Roger of Newborough, lent., and William 
who was abbot of Milton 148 1-1525 granted to 
these friars an annual alms of 43J. 4^. from lands 
in Upper Stirthill." 

The bishop of Dover visited the house in 
September, 1538, and had some difficulty in 
obtaining the surrender;'' he notes that the 
warden, Dr. Germen,^" 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 ^TlO 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.'° 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 £1 and to pay 
certain wages and the visitor's charges the 
following articles were sold : an iron grate about 
a tomb in the church (40J.), a white vestment 
with deacon and subdeacon (40J.), two feather 
beds and a covering ( I o;.), 'an old cope durneks,' 
a pillow and old iron with a holy water stoup 
[fs. ^d.). The visitor also sold a press standing 
in the vestry for 131. /^d. The plate weighed 
1265^ oz. There were also various deeds and 
' two horses belonging to the mill.' *' Part of 
the steeple and three panes of the cloister were 
covered with lead."" 

William, Lord Stourton, sought to secure a 
grant of the Grey Friars,*' but the house and 
grounds were in 1539 leased and in 1543 sold 

'* Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 365. 
" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 25 i. 
" L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiii (2), 482. 
" Cf. Little, Grey Friars in Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. See), 

^ L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiii (2), 474. «' Ibid. 

«- Treas. Receipts (P.R.O.), A. j\, fol. 4. 
" L. and P. Hen. Vlll, xiii (2), 482. 

to Edmund Peckham, cofferer to the king's 
household." The property, consisting of the 
house and site, with water-mill and 6 acres of 
ground, was valued at £\ a year, less 8j. for the 
tenth, and the price paid was £'J2.^^ Peckham 
had at the time of the Dissolution bought the 
elms growing on the property for ;^8.*' He sold 
the estate to Thomas Wriothesley, earl of 
Southampton, and Paul Dorrel, esq., in 1547, 
and it subsequently passed to Sir Francis Ashley, 
knt., whose heiress brought it to Denzil, Lord 


John Colsweyn, 1327^* 
John Loss, 1485"' 
Richard Draper, 15 10 
William Germen, 1538 


In a letter of which the superscription is lost 
the writer, who represents himself as the special 
protector of the Carmelite order, requests his 
correspondent ' to permit the friars to perform 
divine offices without molestation or difficulty in 
the oratory which they have built at Bridport. 
The letter was probably written by Cardinal 
Ottobon, papal legate in England 1265 to 1268, 
to Walter de la Wyle, bishop of Salisbury.™ 
In 1269 the Carmelites of Bridport received a 
legacy of 2s. from Christina de Strikelane, 
widow, of Bridport.'^ 

The house had only a brief existence. In 
1365 Sir John Chideock,knt., applied for licence 
to confer on the provincial prior and Carmelite 
Friars of England 3 acres of land in Bridport for 
the establishment of a friary, together with a 
mill the profits of which would supply them 
with bread, wine, wax, and other things 
necessary for celebrating masses. An inquiry 
being held, the jurors declared that the grant 
would be injurious to the patron and rector of 
the church of Bridport, and the licence was 
not given.''^ It would appear from this that the 

"Ibid. XV, 555 (Aug. Off. Bk. 211, fol. 24); 
xviii (i), 981 (108). 

" Partic. for Grants, file 852, m. 2, 6 ; Hutchins, 
Hist, of Dorset, ii, 366. 

^ Partic. for Grants, ibid. m. 3. 

" On the history of the site see Hutchins, Hist, 
of Dorset, ii, 365-6. 

'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, ii, 187 ; Hutchins, 
Hist, of Dorset, ii, 365. 

«' Franc, a. S. Clara (Chr. Davenport), Hist. Mm. 
Frat. Minorum Prov. Angl. 37-8. 

" Bodl. MS. Laud. Misc. 645, fol. 135; other 
letters in the collection appear to have been written by 
a papal legate about this time. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (ed. 3), ii, 19. 

" Inq. a.q.d. file 355, No. 13. The writ says \oa., 
the return 3a. 



original settlement had either ceased to exist or 
that the friars were for some reason compelled 
to vacate their premises. No further attempt 
to re-establish the Carmelites in Bridport appears 
to have been made. 


In November, 1325, a jury of inquest declared 
that it would not be to the king's prejudice if 
he licensed William Darre, chaplain, to grant a 
•■nessuage and 8 acres of land in Lyme to the 
Carmelite Friars. The land paid 155. lof^a'. 

towards the firm of the town and was worth 21. 
a year besides.'^ 

The house does not seem to have been 


In 1343 Robert of Bradford had licence to 
grant to the provincial prior and Austin Friars in 
England a messuage and 8 acres of land in 
Sherborne to build thereon an oratory and 
houses for friars of their order." The house 
does not seem to have been founded. 



Obscure though the early history of this house 
is it may reasonably be assumed that, originally 
a hermit settlement in the heart of the forest of 
Blackmoor, it attracted to itself so large a com- 
pany of the faithful that a community was 
formed, a rule adopted — apparently similar to 
that of the friars hermits of St. Augustine, 
though the hermitage seems clearly never to have 
been affiliated to that order — and the brethren 
placing themselves under the protection of the 
lords of the forest, the earls of Cornwall, who 
had permitted if not built the earlier foundation, 
acquired the site of their dwelling and such 
property from time to time as the generosity of 
their patrons added to them. The precise date 
of these events cannot be given, though they 
probably took place in the reign of Henry III. 
Edmund, earl of Cornwall, died in 1300 seised 
of the hermitage in Blackmoor,' and in 1314 
Edward II granted a licence to the brethren to 
retain without let or hindrance of any justice or 
forest officer the land which they had acquired 
within the forest without licence from his pre- 
decessors, comprising the site of their hermitage, 

" Inq. a q.d. file 183, No. 4. 

" of Worcester (//;'». 372), speaking of 
Thomas Beaufort, duke of Exeter, says : ' Item habuit 
iii vel iiii infantes et obierunt apud Lyme inter 
fratres.' (?) 

" Inq. a. q.d. file 265, No. 12 ; Pat. 17 Edw. Ill, 
pt. I, m. 17. 

' This house has not been fully or correctly treated 
by previous compilers. Tanner, in the earlier Notitia 
(1744), mistaking it for an Austin priory of the same 
name in Essex, states that it was dedicated to St. 
Lawrence and attributes to it various references relat- 
ing to the Essex house. The matter is not cleared 
up in the later Notitia, and the edition of the third 
and corrected edition of Hutchins, while giving much 
fresh information, repeats some of the old errors. Hist. 
0/ Dorset, iv, 467. 

consisting of 10 acres of land the gift of Ralph, 
earl of Cornwall, 7 acres acquired from Richard, 
earl of Cornwall, who died in 1272, and 7 acres 
bestowed by Edmund, the late earl,' which they 
had inclosed according to the assize of the forest 
so that the deer could enter and leave. Tlie 
following year the prior and hermits were allowed 
8 acres of land out of the waste of the forest in 
a place called ' Rocumbe,' with liberty to 
inclose the same with a little dyke and low 
hedge and bring it into cultivation,'' and in 
1325 Ingelram Berenger, who had been ap- 
pointed steward of the forest,' made over to them 
100 acres of land in ' Rocumbe,' held in chief 
for the service of rendering 32/. ,^d. at the 
Exchequer, on condition that they should find a 
chaplain to celebrate daily in the church of the 
hermitage for the souls of the said Ingelram and 
the faithful departed and for the maintenance of 
ten mendicants to be refreshed once a day in the 
hermitage.^ The List charge seems to have 
dropped speedily out of practice and even 
memory, for the return made to the writ of 
Edward III, dated November, 1338, requiring 
to be certified whether it would be to the injury 
of the king or any other for the prior and 
chaplains of the hermitage of Blackmoor Regis, 
Dorset, to retain 14 messuages, 100 acres of 
land, 2i- acres of meadow with a rent of 
67J. ^d. and of a pound of cummin in Knighton, 
Fossil, Winfrith, and Baltington, which they 
had acquired in fee from the late Ingelram 
Berenger since the publication of the Statute of 
Mortmain without licence of the late king, 

' Inq. p.m. 28 Edw. I, No. 44. Unfortunately 
the section giving the return relating to the hermitage 
within Blackmoor forest, parcel of the duchy of Corn- 
wall, is reported as ' missing ' at the P.R.O. 

' Pat. 7 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 15; see Dugdale, 
Baron, of Engl, i, 76 1. 

* Pat. 9 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 28. 

' Ibid. 18 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 25. 

° Ibid. 19 Edw. II, pt. 1, m. 13. 



stated that the grant had been made on condi- 
tion that the brethren should pay the said 
Ingelram the true yearly value of the same 
during his life and after his death should provide 
a chaplain to celebrate daily for the souls of the 
kings of England, of Ingelram and the faithful 
departed,' without mention of the daily pro- 
vision for mendicants ; possibly it may have ceased 
owing to the financial condition of the house, 

and his consort and for their souls after death. ''' 
Henry VI the following year, 17 December, 
1470, ratified the estate of William Brown 
as master of the hospital of St. John the 
Baptist, Dorchester, and as master of the house 
or chapel called ' le priory hermitage ' by Dor- 
chester." On the death or cession of William 
in 1473 Edward IV made a grant of the 
custody of the ' chapel ' to Robert Bothe, 

for the grant of the following February, enabling doctor of law,'° the deed being annulled four 

them to retain the land and premises, records that 
it was made by fine of 1 00s. because of the 
poverty of the said chaplains.* 

A few particulars as to this forest house may 
be gleaned from the episcopal registers. They 
record that the house belonged to the order of 
St. Augustine and that the prior and brethren 
were presented to the ordinary for examination 
and approval before admission, as in the case of 
John de Ramesham, 28 October, 1327 ; ' Wil- 
liam de Bradewas, who was presented to the 
custodian of the spiritualities of the bishopric, 
Robert de Worth,'" in the vacancy of the see, 
8 May, 1330 ; another instance is recorded 
2 October, 1387." On the resignation of 
John de Ramesham the house presented John 
de Wyke to the bishop, who on account of the 
poverty of the brethren proceeded to admit him 
in a summary manner, 9 July, 1340.'^ In 
1389, all the inmates being dead, the bishop 
bestowed the house in commendam on Thomas 
Wilton 25 August. '^ An inquisition being 
held as to its state in 1424 it was found that 
the house was of royal foundation and that 
the king held the custody of it when vacant, 
that the brethren elected a prior subject to the 
royal assent, and that the house was not taxed at 
10 marks per annum. 

After this date the style of the house alters 
and it becomes known as the free chapel of St. 
Mary, 'called the Hermitage,' and as such was 
placed by Edward IV in 1469 in the custody of 
William Brown, clerk, who already held the 
mastership of the hospital of St. John the 
Baptist, Dorchester, with a grant for life of the 
yearly pension or annuity of 52^. 2d. with which 
the chapel was charged to the king, of which 
38J. lod. was payable to the Exchequer and 
1 35. ^d. to the bailiff of the king's manor of 
Fordington for the use of the duke of Cornwall, 
on condition that he should maintain the old 
service and pray for the good estate of the king 

' Inq. p.m. 2 Edw. Ill (2nd nos.), No. 147. 
. ' Pat. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 3;. 

' Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, fol. 164. 
'" Ibid. Wyville, fol. 3. 
" Ibid. Erghum, fol. 84. 
" Ibid. Wyville. " Ibid. Waltham. 

years later, November, 1477, in favour of 
Master Robert Myddelham, bachelor of 
theology." He was succeeded by Richard 
Hill, dean of the king's chapel, appointed by 
Henry VII in the first year of his reign,'* who 
was again followed by John Cole, appointed by 
Henry VIII in 15 11." Two years later, on 
the surrender of the patent by which it had been 
bestowed on John Cole,^" the king granted the 
free chapel called ' le Hermytage ' in Blackmoor 
to the abbot and convent of Cerne. 

No reference is made to this house in the 
chantry certificates of Henry VIII and Ed- 
ward VI. 

Priors or Masters of Blackmoor 

William, occurs 1327^' 

John de Ramesham, resigned 13.1.0^^ 

John de Wyke, presented 1340^^ 

Richard Andrew, presented 1349" 

Thomas Marshall ^'^ 

Thomas Wilton, appointed 1389^' 

John Baret, appointed 1424" 

William Brown, appointed 1469"* 

Robert Bothe, appointed 1473"'' 

Robert Myddelham, appointed 1477'° 

Richard Hill, appointed 1485-6" 

John Cole, appointed 151 1, surrendered 15 13 

on the annexation of le Hermytage ' to the 

abbey of Cerne ^^ 

" Pat. 9 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 22. 
'' Ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12. 
■' Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. 3. 
" Ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 23. 
'" Hutchins, Hisl. of Dorset, iv, 467. 
" Pat. 3 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. ^ d. 
'"' L. and P. Hen. Vlll, i, 3853. 
" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, fol. 1 64. 
" Ibid. Wyville. 

■'' Ibid. " Ibid. 

'■' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 467. 
"'■ Sarum Epis. Reg. Waltham. 
" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 467. 
'' Fat. 9 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 22. 
" Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. i, m. 3. 
" Ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 23. 
" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 467. 
'^ Pat. 3 Hen. VIII, pt. i, m. 3 a'.; L. and P. 
Hen. nil, \,38S3. 






The history of this priory, chantry, or free 
chapel is very obscure, and can only be partially 
reconstructed with the help of certain documents 
which came into the possession of the Coker 
family on the Dissolution.' Coker, in his Survey 
of Dorset (1732), states that this house,dedicated to 
St. Leonard, was founded by Roger le Walleys, 
lord of the manor of Langton Wallis and 
grandson of Ingelram le Walleys, in the forty- 
seventh year of Edward III (1373) ; ' but it was 
certainly founded many years earlier, probably 
in the first part of the century. According to a 
charter, undated, Alice, once the wife of William 
de Ponsont and widow of Ingelram le Walleys, 
gave a tenement in the manor of Mappowder for 
the maintenance of William Bonet, chaplain, to 
celebrate an obit for the souls of the said William 
and their ancestors at Wilcheswood for life, with 
a proviso that in the event of the transference of 
the prior and brethren of the house the chaplain 
should receive satisfaction out of the revenues.'' 
By another deed, also undated, William de 
Watercumb, chaplain, warden of the house of 
St. Leonard at Wilcheswood and the brethren 
there leased to William Aignel and his wife 
of Stour Provost a certain tenement with houses, 
lands, &c., for the term of their lives for the 
sum of 8 marks sterling in hand.' 

Roger le Walleys, Wallis, or Walsh, whom 
Coker erroneously gives as the founder, appears 
to have added rather to the endowment of the 
house; in 1373 he presented Henry Atte- 
chapelle, chaplain, to the chantry, that he might 
find maintenance for himself and two fellows 
{soc'tt) in the chapel of Wilcheswood and St. George 
of Langton (Matravers), serving God and St. 
Leonard there, with the grant for life of i caru- 

cate of land in Mappowder, and charged only with 
the provision of a lamp to burn during mass in 
the chapel of Langton.*^ 

The advowson of the priory appears always 
to have accompanied the manor, and by a fine 
levied in 1398 between John Fauntleroy and 
Joanna his wife, granddaughter of Roger le 
Walleys, and John Foliol, the second husband 
of Margaret, daughter of the same, the manor 
of Langton Wallis, &c. with the ' chantry ' 
of Wilcheswood was granted to John Foliol for 
his life with remainder to William Foliol his 
son and Joanna his wife and the heirs of 
Joanna.^ In the third year of Henry V 
William Talbot, clerk, warden of the chantry 
of Wilcheswood, delivered over to William 
Foliol the muniments of the chantry, consisting 
of nineteen charters and indentures sealed, and 
one indenture unsealed, two papal bulls, four 
royal letters patent, and a copy of the presenta- 
tion of Henry Attechapelle by Roger le Walleys.* 

The lands of the priory in the reign of 
Henry VIII consisted of a carucate of land in 
Mappowder valued at 6j., lands in Knowlton, 
parcel of the manor of Woodlands, with other 
lands and a mill estimated at £i) lbs. 4^. ;' 
after the Dissolution these came into the hands of 
the Coker family. 

Chaplains or Wardens 

Adam de Watercumb, occurs in a deed with- 
out date ^^ 
Ralph de Sayr, occurs in a deed of 1316-17 " 
Henry Attechapelle, presented 1373*' 
William Talbot, occurs 1413 and 1417^^ 
Richard Petworth, presented 1417" 
Hugh Filiol, occurs 1506-7, and in the reign 
of Henry VIII " 



At Allington,* anciently a village not far distant 
from Bridport and now forming part of the 
borough, was a lazar house or hospital for lepers 
dedicated to the honour of St. Mary Magdalen. 

' At the time of the Domesday Survey, Wilceswode, 
as it is termed, formed part of the holding of the widow 
of Hugh Fitz Grip ; Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.),i, 84. 

' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, i, 641 ; iii, 729, note^. 

' Hutchins, op. cit. i, 48. ' Ibid, i, 641. 

» Ibid, iii, 729. " Ibid, i, 641. 

' Ibid. 637. M bid. 641. 

' Ibid, and iii, 729. 


Various accounts are given of its foundation. 
Coker, in his Survey of Dorset, attributes it to the 
family of the Chideocks.' Hutchins, reciting 
an instrument contained in the corporation 
archives of Bridport, states that it was 'founded, 
or rather better endowed,' by John Holtby, 
canon of Salisbury and custos of the house de 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, i, 641. 

" Ibid, iii, 729. '» Ibid, i, 641. 

" Ibid, iii, 729 ; i, 641. 

" Ibid. " Ibid. 

' In Domesday Book the village occurs as Adeling- 
tone (Rec. Com. i, 80^). Later it is given also as 
Athelington or Allington. 

' Op. cit. (ed. 1732), 24. 


valle scholarium or Vaux College, in the latter 
part of the reign of Henry VI. ^ 

Other records show us, however, that the 
house had at that time been in existence for con- 
siderably over two hundred years, and may 
claim to be one of the earliest foundations of its 
kind within the county. In 1232 Henry III 
granted letters of protection without limit to the 
lepers of St. Mary Magdalen of Bridport,* as 
from its proximity to the town it was in- 
differently termed, and by her will dated St. 
Gregory's Day, 1268, Christine de Stikelane left 
among other bequests to the religious esta- 
blishments of the town and neighbourhood 
' vi^. to the Magdalene house of Adlington.' ' 
The hospital appears to owe its original endow- 
ment — if not foundation — to the de Lega or de 
Legh family, for by a document, previous to the 
year 1265, and still preserved at Bridport, Wil- 
liam de Legh the son of Philip de Legh* granted 
to the house of St. Mary Magdalen of Allington 
called ' The Hospital of the Lepers of Mary 
Magdalen of Bridport ' for the good of his soul 
and for the soul of his wife Dame Nicola de 
Legh 50 acres of arable land in ' Alingtone ' with 
pasture for one steer, six oxen, three cows, and 
fifty sheep, a sufficiency of marl for marling 
their lands, of turf to be taken from his 
moor, and liberty to be ' sterefry ' and toll-free 
in his mill. In return for these benefactions 
two chaplains at least should be appointed by 
the house ' of laudable life and honest conversa- 
t'on,' one of whom should say a mass of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary with a special collect for 
his soul and for the souls of Dame Nicola his 
wife, Geoffrey de Auk' and Isota his wife, 
Master John de Bridport, physician, and Robert 
the Serjeant of ' Alingtone ' ; the other chaplain, 
on days not feast days, should pray in his first 
prayer especially for the souls of the same.' 

Further, a covenant dated at Leghe, 1265, 
between William de Legh, knight and lord of 
Allington, and William de Stikelane and Hugh 
Rodhum, provosts of Bridport, and other good 
and lawful men, sets forth that whereas the said 
William had given to the said provosts &c. full 
power to administer his grant of lands to the 
two chaplains, brethren, and lepers of St. Mary 
Magdalen of * Alingtone ' aforesaid, they were 
empowered to compel the said chaplains, brethren, 
and lepers to observe the terms of the grant, and 
directed to hold an inquisition yearly at Easter 

' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 206. 

• Pat. 16 Hen. Ill, m. 3. 

' From the corporation archives quoted by Hutchins 
under 'Bridport,' ii, 19, note a. 

* In the reign of King John, lzo6, Richard 
Wallensis quitclaimed to Philip de Lega and Clarice 
his mother all his rights in half a knight's fee in 
Allington ; Hunter, Pedes Fin. ii, 95. 

' Rec. of Corp. of Bridport (Hist. MSS. Com.), Rep. 
vi, App. 486. 

and Michaelmas to ascertain whether the chap- 
lains were living honestly, and whether the 
brethren and lepers were treated in a due and 
humane manner, together with other conditions 
of the grant. ^ 

The later grant of John Holtby in 31 Henry VI 
aforementioned was of the nature of a re-foun- 
dation, the terms of which were carefully planned 
with a view to safeguard the interests of the 
parochial chapel of St. Swithun, within whose 
limits the hospital lay, and to prevent the possi- 
bility of any dispute between the two. Drawn 
up with the consent of the dean and chapter of 
Salisbury, here given as patrons of the house, it 
gave permission to the brethren and sisters of 
the hospital to have two chaplains to celebrate 
daily in their chapel, 'saving the rights of the 
chapel of St. Swithun.' They might receive 
all obventions and oblations of the said chapel, 
but none from the parishioners of Adelington 
or Allington. Certain tithes were assigned or 
rather confirmed to them from their first founda- 
tion and their present benefactor quitclaimed to 
them I mark of silver which they were accus- 
tomed to pay annually to the chapel of St. Swithun 
for their ' chantry.' The brethren and sisters 
were expected to provide for the chaplains.' 

As time went on and Allington became 
practically merged into Bridport, we find the 
hospital more usually entered under the name of 
the latter ; in the confusion thence arising, many 
writers have supposed that there were two religious 
foundations at Bridport, both of which, according 
to the early edition of Hutchins and Tanner, 
were dedicated to the honour of St. John the 
Baptist, while the explanation offered by the 
editors of the late and amended edition of 
Hutchins hardly accounts for the fact of two 
entries appearing under Bridport in the Valor 
Ecclesiasticus of 1535, one of which we can now 
see belongs to Allington.^" All the ecclesiastical 
authorities of the town in 1444 joined together 
in aid of the work of repairing the haven, promis- 
ing for themselves and their successors that all 
benefactors of the port should be remembered 
in the prayers and masses they were bound to 
offer daily for their founders ; the list of clerical 
persons thus associated includes the names of 
John Hasard, chaplain of the ' chantry ' of the 
Blessed Mary Magdalen, and John Brode, chap- 
lain and stipendiary there.^^ 

' Ibid. 4.85-6. 

' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 206. 

'° They hazard the conjecture that these two houses 
were one and the same without accounting for the 
fact of the separate entries. Leland's description 
by its ambiguity has furthered the error. Proceeding 
from Chideock to Bridport he says ' there was in Sight 
or ever I came over the river into Bridport a lazar 
house and not far off a chapel of St. Magdalen in 
the which is a chantry founded. And over the bridge 
a little by west in the town is a chapel of St. John ' ; 
Leiand, I tin. iii, 61. " Ibid, ii, 16. 



The Valor of 1535, which gives the hospital 
as the priory of Blessed Mary Magdalen of 
Bridport, states that it was worth £b^ and tliat 
Henry Danyell was prior there" ; by the chantry 
commissioners it was valued at ^t 8j. 4^., and 
again at £"] is. ^.d., and they reported that it had 
among its possessions 'one chalice of 6 oz.,' two 
pairs of old vestments, two candlesticks worth 
Sd., and two bells worth 20s. ; the house was 

to be ordeyned for the relief of lepers and lazar 
men and to one priest to sny mass before them, the 
profits thereof the priest hath for his stipend, the 
poor men live by alms of the town." 

The last incumbent, Robert Blakewell, received 
a pension of ^^6." In the third year of his reign 
Edward VI granted the hospital and lands 
belonging to it to Sir Michael Stanhope and 
John Bellow, and in the same year they came 
into the possession of Giles Kelway." Urtder 
the name of the Magdalen Charity the hospital 
still exists as an almshouse for eight poor 


John Brode, occurs 1444'^ 
Henry Danyell, occurs 1535 " 
Robert Blakewell, last incumbent ^* 


Hutchins states that there was here a hospital 
for lepers, mentioned in an old deed of the date 
of 10 Edward I." Nothing further is known of 
its existence, but local tradition preserves its 
memory in a farmhouse w thin the parish of 
Langton or Langton Long Blandford, known as 
St. Leonard's Farm. 


Beyond one reference we know nothing of 
a hospital for lepers founded here. In 1336 
Bishop Robert Wyville of Salisbury granted an 
indulgence for the repair of the fabric and bell- 



" rahr Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 232. 

" Chant. Cert. 16, Nos. 51, 62. 

" Pensions to Religious in Dorset, Add. MS. 1 9047, 
fol. 8 d. 

'* Hutchins, op. cit. (ed. 3), ii, 206. '* Ibid. 1 6. 

" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 232. 

"Add. MSS. 19047, fol. id. 

" Hist, of Dorset, i, 98. 

^' Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, i, fol. 40 d. Hutchins, 
Tanner, and Dugdale state that this hospital is valued 
in the chantry certificate of Edward \' I at 38/. iid., 
but further evidence is wanting to establish identity 


Though the date of its foundation cannot be 
exactly stated it is evident, from its mention 
in various deeds of the time of Henry III 
belonging to the corporation of Bridport, that 
the hospital here, like that of Allington, was 
already in existence in the earlier half of the 
thirteenth century.-^ Among these documents 
is a charter, dated 1240, which recites that 
Helias de Wroccheshel, for the good of his soul 
and those of his ancestors and successors, has 
granted and confirmed to the house of the 
Blessed John the Baptist in Bridport within the 
east bridge, and to the brethren and sisters 
serving God there, leave to graze ten oxen, four 
yearling cows, one hog, one steer, and fifty sheep 
in the whole of his pasture land at Walditch, 
except in his meadows in fence-time [in tempore 
defencionii), as well as sufficient fencing from 
his wood to inclose their land in Wal- 
ditch.^' Another deed sets forth an agreement, 
made on Christmas Day, 1 271, whereby John, 
son of William Telle of Bridport, leased to Sir 
William, prior of the hospital of St. John, a cer- 
tain croft situated between the land of St. John 
and the way leading to the mill of Richard 
Killing, together with a house, curtilage, and 
croft bounded by the curtilage which lately 
belonged to Osbert Baldwyn.*' The benefactors 
of the hospital were numerous, and included 
Mabel, the daughter of Edward Hux, who, in 
her widowhood, gave to God and the brethren 
and sisters serving God in the hospital of St. John, 
Bridport, I J acres of land in Portmannefeld for 
the soul of Richard her late husband ; "'' 
Richard Hux, who, by charter undated but 
belonging to the time of Edward I, engaged 
himself to pay 1 2d. yearly to Roger de Rydeclive, 
warden of the hospital and his successors, from 
his tenement in the South Street of Bridport ; ^' 
Christine de Stikelane, who, by her will, dated 
in 1268, left various small sums to the religious 
foundations of her town, bequeathed 'xiif^. to the 
"church" of the Blessed John.'^^ 

Little is recorded of this hospital beyond what 
is contained in these and similar charters. It 
appears to have been in the patronage of the 
bailiffi and commonalty of Bridport, who, by 
an indenture dated on Sunday after the Feast of 

between this hospital for lepers and the seri'ice of the 
Blessed Man,-, for which the sum of 38/. lid. was 
applied towards the finding of a clerke and children,' 
the only entry under Lyme Regis in the said chantry 
certificate. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 71. 

" Rec. of Corp. of Bridport (Hist. MSS. Com.), 
Rep. vi, App. 475-99. " Ibid. 4S2. 

" Given by Hutchins from the same source. Hist. 
of Dorset, ii, 19. 

" Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 4-9. 

" Ibid. 484-j. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 19, note a. 



St. Peter and St. Paul (29 June), 1357, granted 
the custody of the hospital, together with the 
administration of its goods, to John de Shapwick, 
chaplain, on the understanding that he by him- 
<;elf or a fit chaplain should celebrate daily in the 
chapel.^' A document still exists among the 
town archives entitled — 

Implements of the priory of St. John the Baptist 
•delivered to Sir John Syltere by Richard Burgh and 
John Cryps, Bjilifts of Bridport, received from Hugh 
Prior, late prior there, the 9th October in the 32nd 
year of King Henry VI, 

tlie possessions and furniture of the inmates are 
■set out under the following headings : — In the 
Chapel, In the Hall, In the Pantry, In the 
Kitchen, In the Chamber.^' In the deed of 
1444, to which all the ecclesiastical authorities 
of the town set their hands pledging themselves 
to assist in the pious work of repairing the 
haven, the master or warden here, John Shipper, 
is styled ' prior of St. John.'^' 

The clear income of the house, according to 
the Falor of 1535,'" was estimated at ^8 bs. id., 
the name of the then prior being Robert Chard. 
The chantry commissioners in the reign of 
Edward VI stated that it was worth £6 155. 8d., 
out of which 165. should be deducted in rents 
resolute;^' the incumbent, William Chard, re- 
ceived the whole profits for his own use ; ^^ there 
was found there ' one chalice and one gold ringe 
of 12 oz.,' two ' lytle ' bells worth 20;., and 
' certain ornaments ' worth 20d?^ The last 
warden, William Shard or Chard, who may be 
the same as the Robert Chard of 1535, received 
a pension of £S-^^ 

Wardens or Priors of Bridport Hospital 

William, occurs 127 I ^* 

Roger de Rydeclive, occurs temp. Edward I '* 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 21. 

" Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. 493. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 16. 

'" Hutchins, in the earlier edition of the Hist, of 
Dorset, and Tanner after him, has fallen into the 
mistake of supposing that there were two foundations 
at Bridport both dedicated to St. John the Baptist, 
and the error is not entirely explained away by the 
editors of the last edition of Hutchins ; they give it 
as their opinion that there was only one foundation, 
* the chapel of St. John over the bridge a little by 
west in the town,' described by Leland in his 
Itinerar-) (iii, 61), and fail to see that one of the 
foundations valued in 1535 under Bridport belongs 
to the hospital of Allington ; Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 
i, 232-4. 

" Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 49. 

^' These, in a further section of the roll, were reduced 
to^6 8/. 9i^. Ibid. No. 61. 'M bid. No. 49. 

" B. Willis, Hist, of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72. 

" Hutchins, Hist of Dorset, ii, 19. 

'^^ In a charter of Richard Hux ; Hist. MSS. Com. 
Rep. vi, App. 4845. 

William Worgan, occurs temp. Edward I ^^ 
Richard Castelayn, occurs 1295-6 and 

1316-17 ^* 
John de Shapwick, appointed 1357,''' resigned 

before 1411^° 
John Shipper, occurs 1444^' 
Hugh Prior, occurs in 1453 ^* 'late' prior ^ 
Robert Chard, occurs 1535^' 
William Shard or Chard, last incumbent ^* 


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 fiithful departed.^* 
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, Mar- 
tin de Ixnyngge, to the custody of the king's 
hospital of Dorchester for life, directing the 
brethren and sisters of the house to be ' inten- 
dant' to their new head,^* who, in the previous 
February, had been appointed master of the hos- 
pital of Maidstone, Kent.*' In 1 45 I William 

^' William Worgan occurs as 'prior' of the hospital 
in another charter by the same Richard Hux, conceding 
certain lands to the brethren and sisters of the hospital 
of St. John the Baptist ; ibid. 

"* He occurs as master in a further charter of 
Richard Hux, dated 24 Edw. I, and is given as 
' keeper of the gate of the hospital of St. John of 
Bridport ' in a grant of Stephen Crul of Walditch, 
dated 10 Edw. II. From the archives of Bridport; 
Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 20. 

'' Ibid. 21. 

'" In that year an inquiry was instituted into the 
consanguinity of John Shapwick, late prior of the 
hospital of St. John of Bridport ; Madox, Formukre 
Angl. 15. 

*' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 16. 

" He is called late prior of the hospital in the 
inventory of goods of 9 Oa. 1453 ; Hist. MSS. Com. 
Rep. vi, App. 49;. 

" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 234. 

"Chant. Cert. 16, No. 61 ; B. Willis, Hist, of 
Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72. 

*^ Pat. 17 Edw. I!, pt. 2, m. 28. 

" Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 14. 

" Ibid. m. 41 ; see Newcourt, Eccl Rcpert. (i, 748), 
for a list of the preferments at different times of this 



Man, vicar of Sturminster Marshall, was warden 
of this hospital." 

As far as its internal management is concerned 
a royal writ was issued, 1 8 November, 1359, 
directing the eschcator 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.*' 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 £j 6s. ^.d., a water-mill, 96 acres of 
a-able land, and 7 acres of meadow in Fording- 
ton, 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 ijs. 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 oiF the goods and chattels of the house, 
including linen [naperia) and bedding.'" 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 Brant- 
ingham, the life custody of the hospital of 
St. John Baptist, Dorchester, vacant and in his 

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. °^ 
Whether this grant ever took effect it is diffi- 
cult to say, for though it was confirmed by 
Edward IV in 1467," and again in 1473," 
the crown continued to appoint as the cus- 

" Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. 8. 

" Inq. p.m. 33 Edw. Ill (2nd Nos.), 88. 

" Ibid. 

'" Pat. 34 Edw. Ill, 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 

'' Ibid. 29 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 8. 

'' Ibid. 7 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 13. 

" Ibid. 13 Edw. I\', pt. I, m. 10. 

tody fell vacant,'^ 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." The Act of Re- 
sumption passed on the accession of Henry VII 
ordained that it should not be prejudicial ' to 
anygraunte or letters patents made by King Ed- 
ward 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 Dor- 
chester.' " 

The Valor of 1535 gives this house a clear 
income of £2> 4*- Antony Wcldon was then 
' rector ' or incumbent.*' By the Chantry Com- 
missioners it was valued at ^<) 13J. 2d., out of 
which 42X. 8i. was deducted in 'rents resolute,' 
leaving a balance of ^7 los. 6(/." 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).^ 
On the confiscation of colleges and chantries he 
was assigned a pension of ;^6.*^ 

Wardens of Dorchester Hospital'' 

Martin de Ixnyngge, appointed 1334^' 
Robert Creyk, appointed 135 1 " 
Simon de Brantingham, appointed 1354^' 
Thomas de Brantingham, appointed 1360*' 
Roger de Stoke, appointed 1370 ^' 
Thomas de Brounflet, appointed 1376** 

" Edward IV in the first year of his reign, 2 1 
Feb. 1462, appointed William Brown to the custody 
(ibid. I 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 ne.xt 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. 1 3 Edw. 
IV, pt. I, m. 10 and 2), the letters patent for the 
last being exchanged in November, 1477, in fn'our 
of Rich.ird Hill (ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29). 

'' Harl. MS. 433, 1603, fol. 131. 

" Pari. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367. 

" Valor EccL (Rec. Com.), i, 243. 

"Chant. Cert. 16, No. 2. 

" Ibid. 1484. The clear income was estimated 
again at [j 1 5/. ^d. ; ibid. 

" B. Willis, Hist, of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72. 

" The following list of wardens is taken, with 
some additional names and corrections, from that sup- 
plied by Hutchins from B. Willis, Hist, of Dorset, 
ii, 416. 

« Pat. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. i,m. 14. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 416. " Ibid. 

** Pat. 34 Edw. in, pt. 2, m. 23. 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, ii, 416. 

" Pat. 50 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 5. 


Milton Abbey [Oh'versc) 

Milton Abbey [Re-verie) 



Shaftesbury Abbey i^Oh'vcrse) 

Shaftesblry Abblv i^Reuersi') 

Dorset Monastic Seals : Plate II 


Henry Harburgh, 1399^^ 

William Man, occurs 145 1 '" 

William Brown, appointed 1462/^ occurs 
1470 '^ 

Oliver Kyng, appointed 1473'^ 

Richard Hill, appointed 1477,^* resigned be- 
fore 1485'* 

Thomas Otteley, 1485 ^^ 

John Burton, 1495," died 1499 

John Argentine, 1499^^ 

Antony Weldon, occurs 1535'' 

Edward Weldon, last incumbent*" 


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 40;. for their gowns 
* by the hands of Mr. Williams, Esquire.' '^ 


When and by whom this hospital was 
founded history does not say. The earliest 
notice of it occurs 5 January, 1223, when the 
king issued an order to John Lancelive, bailiff 
of Brian de Insula of the forest of Dorset, 
directing him to allow the prior of the hospital 
of St. John of Shaftesbury three trees {fusta) of 
the windfall wood of the king's park of Gilling- 
ham for the repair of his house.*' The founda- 
tion, therefore, cannot be dated later than the 
beginning of the thirteenth century. The 
chantry commissioners in the sixteenth century 
reported that it was ordained for the relief of 
five poor men who then lived by the alms of 

*' Hutchins, Hist. 0/ Dorset, ii, 416. 

'" Pat. 29 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 8. 

" Ibid. I Edw. IV, pt. 5, m. 18. 

"Ibid. 49 Hen. VI, m. 12. 

" Ibid. 13 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. 2. 

'* Ibid. 17 Edw. IV, pt. 2, m. 29. 

" Par/. R. (Rec. Com.), vi, 367. 

" Hutchins, Hisf. of Dorset, ii, 416. 

" Ibid. " Ibid. 

" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 243. 

^ This last may be the same as the Antony 
Weldon of 1535. Chant. Cert. 16, No. 84. 

»' Chant. Cert. 16, No. 89. 

*' Hutchins describes this hospital as situated in 
the parish of St. Martin and near the church at the 
meeting of Hert Crope and Shetwell lanes ; Hist, of 
Dorset, iii, 38. 

** Close, 7 Hen. Ill, m. 22. 

the town, the whole of the profits being re- 
ceived by the priest who officiated there.** 

The house, or priory as it is occasionally 
termed, was in the patronage of the abbess of 
Shaftesbury and the diocesan registers give a 
succession of presentations by the nuns down to 
the Dissolution, beginning with William de 
Eggeclyve, priest, presented to the wardenship 
by the abbess and convent 11 November, 1305.*'' 
In April, 1 541, Robert Fowke, the last warden 
or master, was presented by Edmund Wynter, 
knt., David Brokwey, gent., and Nicholas 
Tyddour, patrons pro hac vice by reason of the 
grant of letters of advowson made to them by 
the last abbess and convent of Shaftesbury.*' 
For some reason not very apparent the patronage 
of the house came temporarily into the hands of 
the king in 1381, and in September of that 
year Richard II presented John Ridgway, chap- 
lain, to the life custody of the hospital of St. John 
on the Mount at Shaftesbury, his appointment 
being shortly afterwards followed by that of John 

Beyond the names of the different wardens 
the history of St. John's is almost a blank. The 
master in 1348 probably fell a victim to the 
terrible plague that ravaged Dorset in the 

autumn and winter of that 


for in the 

heavy list of presentations for December occurs 
that of John de Meleborn to St. John's, Shaftes- 
bury, on the death of William de Godeford, 
late warden.** William Russel, called the prior 
of the hospital, was visited along with other 
rectors and vicars of the deanery by the diocesan 
in the church of Holy Trinity, Shaftesbury, in 
April, I344-*' 

In an inquisition made in 1499 the hospital 
was said to be founded by the king's ancestors. 
The property, consisting of five tenements, 4 
acres of arable, loi acres of pasture, and half an 
acre of meadow, was valued at ^b. The sup- 
port of the poor and the celebration of the divine 
services weekly and yearly had been neglected 
for the last twenty years, and had completely 
ceased in the last two years, during which David 
Knolle, chaplain, had taken the profits and also 
removed the ornaments of the hospital.*^'' 

On the confiscation of chantries this hospital 
was valued at ^4, with one bell worth 3;. 4^.^" 

" Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 100. 

^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, ii, fol. 45. 

"* Ibid. Salcot or Capon, fol. 7 J. 

" Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 12, 19. These two 
exceptions, as against some twenty appointments by 
the nuns, seem to have led Tanner into the error of 
supposing that the house was of royal patronage. 
There is no ostensible reason for the king's action, 
the abbey then being ' full ' and under the rule of 
Abbess Joan Formage. 

^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 193. 

»' Ibid. Waltham, fol. 73. 

"^ Esch. Inq. file 896, No. 21. 

'"Chant. Cert. 16, No. 15. 



It was granted by Edward VI with lands be- 
longing to it in Shaftesbury, Motcombe, and 
GiUingham, to Kendal, Burgh, and others for 
the sum of ^^136 lis. ^d.^^ The last incum- 
bent, John Hame, received a pension of 

Wardens or Priors of Shaftesbury 

William de Eggeclyve, appointed 1305'' 

William de Godeford, died 1348" 

John de Meleborn, appointed 1348'° 

John Lord, appointed 1361,'^ died 1 38 1 

John Ridgway, appointed 138 i '' 

John Bridport, appointed 138 1 '* 

William Russel, appointed 1381,^' died 1423 

James Grevey, appointed 1423'"*' 

John Wynnyngham, died 1470'°^ 

John Tyrell, appointed 1470'"^ 

William Ketilton, resigned 1492^°' 

George Twynho, appointed 1492,^°^ resigned 

David Knollys or Knolle, appointed 1496 '"' 
William Wylton, died 1525 i'^« 
William Parkows, appointed 1525 ^"^ 
William Percuste, died 1541 ^'* 
Robert Fowlce, appointed I 541 ^"^ 
John Hame, last incumbent.*"'* 


A hospital here of comparatively late founda- 
tion ' was begun,' according to Leland, ' by de- 
votion of the good people of Sherborne in the 
fourth year of Henry VI, and the king is taken 
for founder of it.'*'" On 11 July, 1437, 
eleven years after the date given of its inception, 
Henry VI granted a licence to Robert Neville, 
bishop of Salisbury, Humphrey Stafford, knt., 

" Hutchins, Hist, of Done-/, iii, 39. 

'^ B. Willis, Hist. ofMiired Abbeys, ii, 72. 

'^ Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, pt. 2, fol. 45. 

" Ibid. Wyville, ii (Inst.), fol. 193. 

" Ibid. '"= Ibid. (Inst.), fol. 278. 

" The registers take no note of this and the fol- 
lowing appointment by the crown (Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. 
I, m. 19), and Stat J that William Russel was appointed 
on the death of John Lord. Sarum Epis. Reg. 
Erghum, i, fol. 44 <^. 

»« Pat. 5 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 12. 

'' Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, i, fol. 44 d. 

"* Ibid. Chandler, fol. 61. 

'«' Ibid. Bciuchamp, fol. I 50. "" Ibid. 

'" Ibid. Langton, fol. 40 d. "» Ibid. 

'" Ibid. Blyth, zdd 

'»" Ibid. Campegio, fol. 3 d. "" Ibid. 

™ Ibid, .-alcot or Capon, fol. 7 d. '™ Ibid. 

"^ B. Willis, op. cit. ii, 72. 

"° Itin. ii, 49. 'It yet standeth,' adds Leland, but 
most of its property had been dispersed ; ibid, iii, 1 10. 

Margaret Gogh, John Fauntleroy, and John 
Baret, to incorporate and establish a certain 
house of perpetual charity in Sherborne to the 
honour of God and St. John the Baptist and St. 
John the Evangelist for the reception of twenty 
brethren, twelve ' poor sick and impotent ' men 
and four women, with a chaplain who should 
pray for the good estate of the king and of the 
brethren of the house and their benefactors while 
they lived, and for their souls and those of all 
the faithful departed ' when they shall have 
withdrawn from this li^ht.' The brethren were 
yearly, or whenever it should be convenient, to 
elect a master froiti among themselves, and were 
empowered to fill up any vacancy that should 
occur in their number, and to remove or expel 
the master from his office or any of the poor 
men or women from the house ; all the inmates 
should live under the rule and government 
ordained by the said bishop. Sir Humphrey 
Stafford, Margaret Gogh, John Fauntleroy, John 
Baret, or any four, three, or two of them. The 
master and brethren were declared capable of 
holding lands in the name of the society, and of 
pleading and being impleaded in the law courts 
of the land, they should use one common sea!,, 
and might hold lands and rents in socage 
or in burgage to the annual value of 40 marks 
for the benefit of the poor men and women 
in the hospital, while the perpetual chaplain 
and his successors might acquire and hold the 
same to the value of 10 marks, notwithstand- 
ing mortmain and all previous statutes to the 

Henry VI in October, 1448, made a further 
grant to the brethren of the house that for a 
fine of ;^io they might acquire lands and tene- 
ments to the annual value of £33 6j. 8d.,^^^ 
and by a later deed reciting his former grant 
he licensed William Combe, John Downton of 
Folke, and William Couland to give and assign 
to William Smyth, then master of the hospital, 
thirty-nine messuages, two tofts, one dovecot, 
39^- acres of land, 19 acres and one rood of 
meadow and I acre of grove situated in Sher- 
borne, Beer Hackett, and Caundle, of the yearly 
value of j^5 3;. 4.d.y to be held in part satisfaction 
of the ^33 6s. 8./.*" Bishop Richard Beau- 
champ of Salisbury is mentioned as a great 
benefactor to the house,*** which, indeed, was 
situated within his ' vill ' of Sherborne, but he 
can hardly have been the founder as one report 
states ; **' his predecessor Aiscough, according 
to an entry in his ofScial register, dedicated an 
altar in the chapel of the hospital in 1442, five 
years after its incorporation by royal charter.*'* 

"' Pat. IS Hen. VI, m. 5. 

"» Ibid. 27 Hen. VI, pt. 1, m. 30. 

'"Ibid. 32 Hen. VI, m. 15. 

"* Hutchins, op. cit. iv, 294. 

Magna Brit. Jntiq. et Nov. i, 567. 
"* Sarum Epis. Reg. Aiscough, fol. (^J d. 



On the confiscation of colleges and chantries 
under Edward VI the house entered as ' the 
hospital or house of leprosy of St. John the 
Evangelist in Sherborne' was found worth 
j^35 8s. 6d., out of which £^ 35. 6d. was 
deducted in rents resolute, leaving a clear income 
of £2^ 5^- which the officiating priest received 
half-yearly, £^ 6s. 8d., the residue, being applied 
'to the finding of eleven poor and impotent 
men and four poor women according to the 
foundation thereof.'"' The name of the last 
incumbent is not given, nor is he entered among 
those who received pensions."^ 

Masters of the Hospital of St. John the 
Baptist and St. John the Evangelist, 

John Deen, occurs 1448 "' 
William Smyth, occurs 1454'-" 
Henry Borman, occurs 1468 '^' 


Very little is known of this hospital or chapel 
dedicated to St. Thomas Becket, but commonly 
known as St. Thomas atte Grene or on the 
Grene, yet from a reference in a charter '^^ 
granted by Bishop Richard le Poor of Salisbury 
in 1228 to his tenants at Sherborne 'between 
St. Thomas's chapel and the castle,' it appears 
to have been in existence in the early part of the 
thirteenth century, and was probably founded 
during that period when dedication to the honour 
of that most famous and popular of English 
saints was high in fashion. 

Presentation to the hospital was in the gift of 
the crown and the custody was usually held by 
king's clerks together with other benefices ; on 
20 June, 1395, Richard II ratified the estate of 
his clerk, John de Wendelyngburgh, as parson 
or warden of the chapel of St. Thomas on the 
Grene,'^' Sherborne, and on 22 September of 
the same year following the death of John 
committed the wardenship of the hospital to 
Nicholas Slake, king's clerk ; ^^* both these 

"' Chant. Cert. 1 6, No. 91. 

"' B. Willis, Hist, of Mitred Abbeys, ii, /i-z. 

"" Pat. 27 Hen. V'l, pt. 1, m. 30. 

■>° Ibid. 32 Hen. VI, m. 15. 

'" On 25 Nov., 1468, Edward IV licensed Henry 
Borman, the master and the brethren of the almshouse 
of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist to 
acquire lands and other possessions held in socage or 
burgage to the yearly value of j^l3 ; ibid. 8 Edw. IV, 
pt. 2, m. 4. 

'" By inspeximus of Richard II. Pat. 5 Ric. II, 
pt. I, m. II. 

"'Ibid. 18 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 9. 

"* Ibid. 19 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 18. 

2 I 

wardens held the office in plurality with other 
benefices. In 1405 John Brunyng is given as 
rector of the Chapel de Grene according to the 
register of Dean Chandler.'^' 

In the reign of Henry VIII Leland describes 
'Thomas Bekettes chapelle by the New Yn' 
as still standing, but ' incelebrated.' '-^ The college 
and chantry commissioners of Edward VI re- 
ported that it was worth 621., had no plate or 
ornaments, but two bells valued at 265. 8<^.'" 
Roger Hord or Horsey, late incumbent, received 
the whole of the emoluments'^* to his own use 
without performing any manner of service in 
the chapel ; ' there is no power (poor) people nor 
headmen found nor relieved of the premises.' '-' 
The chapel was granted by Edward VI to John 
Doddington and William Ward.'"^ 

Wardens of St. Thomas's Hospital, 

John de Wendelyngburgh, occurs 1395,"' 

died in the same year 
Nicholas Slake, appointed 1395 "^ 
John Brunyng, occurs 1405 ''^ 
John Hord or Horsey, last incumbent "* 


At what date and by whom this house or 
hospital was founded it is impossible now to say. 
The first mention of it occurs in the reign of 
Edward I, when the advowson and lordship 
{dominium^ of it were in the hands of the 
Deverel family, and they may have been the 
founders; at any rate in 1314 they made over 
the entire rights to the prior and convent of 
Christchurch, Twyneham."* According to an 
inquisition post mortem, held as to his possessions 

'" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 257. The warden 
is mentioned again as 'rector of the Grene' in a 
grant of Menry VI in 1454 to the master and brethren 
of the hospital of St. John the Baptist and St. John the 
Evangelist of Sherborne, enabling them to acquire 
thirty-nine messuages in the town, and describing 
one of these same messuages as situated between the 
tenement of the rector 'de la Grene,' called the 
George Inne,' on the north and the king's highway 
leading from the Grene to the Castle on the south ; 
Pat. 32 Hen. VI, m. 15. 

'^•^ Leland, I tin. ii, 49 ; iii, I 10. 

'-' Chant. Cert. 16, No. 8. 

"'* Entered again as worth 66/. 

■'' Chant Cert. 16, No. 92. 

"' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 257. 

"' Pat. 18 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 9. 

'" Ibid. 19 Ric. II, pt. l,m. 18. 

'" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iv, 237. 

'" Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 92. 

'" Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. Ill (2nd Nos.), 97. 

05 14 


in Milborne Deverel or Gary, in March, 1332,'"^ 
Elias de Deverel died in October the previous 
year, and on his lands escheating to the crown 
by reason of the forfeiture of his son and heir, 
John de Deverel, the then prior and convent 
petitioned the king to restore to them those 
rights in the house of St. Leonard of Rushton 
near Palmeresbrugg of which they had been 
unjustly disseised by the late donor and his son. 
The king ordered an inquiry to be made, and 
on 28 November, 1332, the jury found that 
the advowson and custody of the house had 
been granted to William Quentyn, late prior of 
Christchurch, the convent and their successors 
by Elias de Deverel on the morrow of St. Nicholas 
(6 December), 1304; that then, in accordance 
with the terms of the grant and on the cession of 
the master, John Curteis, they had presented 
Robert de Horton, chaplain, to the custody and 
mastership of the house, to which he had been 
admitted on the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle 
(21 December) the same year ; that subsequently, 
on 2 May following, they had been unjustly 
dispossessed of their rights by the said Elias de 
Deverel and John his son, and Robert de Hor- 
ton, then master, had been removed and Ralph 
Lychet, chaplain, admitted to the custody in 
his place ; and that the same Elias and John 
had continued to usurp possession of the house 
from that time up to the date of the attainder 
of John de Deverel, when it came into the 
king's hand. The jury further estimated its 
value at 40J."' 

These facts having been ascertained, Edward III 
did not hesitate to make good the claim of the 
monks, his deed of restoration the following 
January, 1333, reciting that the original grant 
of the premises in the reign of Edward I had 
been made to the then prior, William Quentyn, 
and the convent without licence of the king, but 
that in consideration of a fine of 10 marks he 
had consented to pardon the lack of this for- 

The subsequent history of the house is 
unknown, and it is not entered in the 
chantry certificate of the county in the reign of 
Edward VI. 

Masters of Tarrant Rushton Hos- 

John Curteis, resigned in 1304'" 

Robert de Horton, appointed 1304, resigned 

1 305,"° 
Ralph Lychet, appointed 1305"' 

"^ Inq. p.m. 6 Edw. Ill (2nd Nos.), 59. 

"' Ibid. (2nd Nos.), 97. 

"* Pat. 7 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13, 15. 

"' The names of these three wardens are all given 
In the inquisition of 28 Nov. 1332 ; Inq. p.m. (2nd 
Nos.), 97. 

'«» Ibid. '*' Ibid. 


The date of the foundation of this ancient 
hospital, commonly called St. Margaret's of 
Wimborne, is unknown. Tradition has re- 
ported that it was founded by John of Gaunt, 
but, as evidence has been found of its exist- 
ence long before the reign of Edward III, the 
conjecture was probably based on the fact that 
the house was situated within the manor or 
Kingston Lacy, which formed part of the duchy 
of Lancaster ; it may at some time or another 
have been rebuilt or re-established by John of 
Gaunt or one of his descendants. '*- 

From certain deeds found in a chest in the 
chapel the house appears to have existed as a 
house for lepers as far back as the reign of King 
John, and to have depended for its support al- 
most entirely on the alms of the town and 
neighbourhood ; a grant dated 1245 recited that 
for the encouragement of such charitably-dis- 
posed Christians as should contribute towards its 
relief Pope Innocent IV by 

an indulgans or bulle did assoyl them of all syns 
forgotten and offcncis done against fader and moder 
and of all swerj-nges neglygently made 

This ' indulgans ' granted of Peter and ' Powle ' 
and of the said pope should hold good for fifty-one 
years and 260 days, provided a certain number 
of Paternosters and Ave Marias were repeated 

In the absence of a sufficient endowment 
licence to beg must have been almost a necessity, 
and for that purpose Edward I in 1275 granted 
letters of protection for a year to the brethren and 
sisters of the hospital of St. Margaret and St. An- 
thony, Wimborne,^*' and renewed the grant on 
the expiration of the term the following year,*^' 
and again in 1286."^ 

The Chantry Commissioners of Edward VI 
valued the house at 291. 8^., and found it was 
ordained for the relief of poor men, and that 
there were then eight who 'not only live by the 
profit of the said house but by the devotion of 
the people and inhabitants of the town of Wim- 
borne.' "' 

In the chapel of the hospital there was estab- 
lished in early days a chantry founded by John 
Redcottes and named after him ; it was annexed 

'" In the beginning of an account book of the hos- 
pital of the sixteenth centurj' the house is said to 
have been erected by the sometime duke of Aquitaine 
and Leicester, which shows that its early origin had 
been lost as far back as the reign of Elizabeth ; Hut- 
chins, op. cit. iii, 247. 

'" Ibid. '" Pat. 3 Edw. I, m. 23. 

>" Ibid. 4 Edw. I, m. 19. 

'" Ibid. 14 Edw. I, m. 24. 

"' Chant. C ert. 16, No. 112. 



to the college or free chapel of Wimborne and 
is entered among its possessions, being held in 
the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI by 
the sacristan of the college in conjunction with 
his other office. At the time the Valor of 1535 
was taken it was worth ^^5 6s. 8d., and was 
held by Thomas Yeroth, sacristan."' Accord- 
ing to the chantry certificate Simon Benyson, 
then incumbent, received for his stipend 
£^ 6s. Sd. arising out of certain lands ' called 
Dixon and Capons lands,' parcel of the duchy 
of Lancaster ; after his death these rents should 
be paid into the duchy. In the meantime he 
held another living to the value of ;^30."^ An 
annual pension was allowed him of ^^5 a year.^'" 
The book of ancient accounts above men- 
tioned further shows that from the year 1567 
to 1683 the hospital was continued under the 
control and direction of two parishioners, annually 
elected and styled the guardians or wardens of 
St. Margaret's Hospital or Almshouse, assisted by 
the constable of the town and the stewards of 
the lord of the manor of Kingston Lacy, the 
latter signing the accounts on behalf of the lord 
of the manor.^^^ 

From 1683 the election ofguardians ceased, and 
the entire management and control of the funds 
was placed under the stewards of the lord of 
the manor, to whom belonged the appointment 
of the poor to the almshouses. In a return to 
Parliament in 1786 the value of the house was 
given at ;^35 iij. The hospital benefited 
largely by the will of the Rev. Wm. Stone, 
dated May, 1865, whereby certain lands and 
tenements in the parish of Wimborne Minster 
were left in trust to the use of the almsmen 
only in St. Margaret's Hospital. The house is 
described as standing on the high road which 
runs from Blandford to Wimborne."^ 


The only reference to a hospital here is to be 
found in the return of the commissioners for 
chantries and colleges in the sixteenth century,, 
which states that the hospital or house of charity 
in the town of Wareham, valued at £() 13J., 
was founded for the relief of six poor and im- 
potent men and five poor women ' to have their 
continual living there and so yt ys usyd.' ^^^ 



One of the earliest religious foundations in 
this county was the nunnery built here at the 
beginning of the eighth century, converted on 
its restoration into a house of secular canons pre- 
sided over by a dean, and subsequently known 
as the royal free chapel and college of Wimborne 

The Saxon monastery was built by St. Cuth- 
burh or Cuthburga, the daughter and sister re- 
spectively of the Wessex kings, Kenred and 
Ine, who after her union with Aldfrid, king of 
the Northumbrians, renounced married life and, 
with the consent of her husband, entered the 
abbey of Barking and became a nun under the 
rule of the Abbess Hildelitha.'^ Various dates 

»« Fa/or Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 273. 

'" Chant. Cert. 16, No. 107. He also held the 
sacristan's office of Wimborne Minster. 

'••» B. Willis, Hist, of Mitred Abbeys, ii, 72. 

"' The lords of the manor were reputed the 

'*' Hutchins, op. cit. iii, 248. 

'" Chant. Cert. Dorset, 1 6, No. 1 1 7. 

' Will, of Malmes. Gesta Regum (Engl. Hist. Soc.), 
i, 49 ; Flor. Wigorn. Chron. (Engl. Hist. Soc), i, 49 ; 
Matt, of Westm. {Flores Hist. [Rolls Ser.], i, 367), 
Leland {Coll. i, 211-12 ; ii, 387), and a few other 
writers give Ecgfrid, king of the Northumbrians, half- 
brother to Aldfrid, as the husband of St. Cuthburga, 
but Capgrave, who in his life of the saint records a 
dialogue between her and her husband on the subject 

are assigned for her subsequent foundation at 
Wimborne. Cressy, whose account is generally 
adopted, gives the year 713 ;" the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle meniions it under 718, but makes no 
definite statement as to when it came into exist- 
ence.' The foundation must, however, be 
dated some years earlier and previous to 705 
according to a letter of Bishop Aldhelm, written 
in that year, granting liberty of election to the 
monasteries under the charge of the bishop, who. 
died in 709, in which he mentions particularly 
' the nuns in the monastery by the river which 
is called Wimburnia presided over by the abbess 

' St. Cuthberga,' says Cressy, translating various 
passages from the Fita of Capgrave — 

having built her monastery and therein a church to 
the Queen of Virgins, there macerated her body with 
almost continual watchings and fastings. She was 
humble both to God and man and mild to all. Many 
virgins she assembled in the same place ; she per- 
mitted her body to enjoy no rest ; but importunately 
day and night her prayers sounded in the ears of a 
merciful God. She happily ended her d.iys in the 
year of grace 727, and her memory is celebr.ited by 
the church on the last day of August.' 

of the renunciation of marriage, as well as her dying 
charge to her nuns, calls the king Aldfrith or Aldfrid;. 
No^a Legenda Anglie (15 1 6), fol. 79-80. 

' Ch. Hist, of Brit. (1668), lib. xxi, cap. 18. 

' Op. cit. (Rolls Ser.), 39. 

* Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 168. 

' CA. Hist, of Brit. (1668), lib, ; xi, cap. iS. 



According to Leland she was buried on the 
north side of the presbytery, but afterwards 
translated to the east end of the high altar of 
the church,* which was subsequently re-dedicated 
in her honour.' 

With St. Cuthburga is frequently associated 
as co-foundress her sister St. Cuenburh or Quin- 
burga, also said to have been buried in this 
church,* and who, if we accept her identification 
with abbess Cneuburga — the joint author of a 
letter addressed to Atjbot Coengils of Glaston- 
bury, Abbot Ingeld, and the priest Wiethberht 
agreeing to a proposal for mutual intercessory 
prayer and asking in particular ' that remem- 
brance may be had of our dead sisters,' — prob- 
ably succeeded to the rule of the monastery on 
the death of the first abbess.' The Eta to 
whom reference is made in the same letter may 
possibly be identified with Tetta the venerable 
abbess, said to be a sister of iEthelheard, the 
kinsman and successor of King Ine, who soon 
after became superior of the monastery and was 
responsible for the religious training and educa- 
tion of the sisters Lioba and Agatha, destined to 
carry abroad the benefits of the instruction they 
had received while under the care of ' that 
devout mother.' 

A great proof of the perfection of monastical dis- 
cipline observed after the death of the foundress in 
her monastery is this : (again quoting Cressy) that 
St. Boniface the glorious apostle of the Germans, 
having founded a monastery of virgins at Biscofisheim 
in Germany made choice of her disciples above all 
others, and particularly of St. Lioba, to plant religious 
observances there. This is testified bv Rodulphus, 
disciple of Rabanus Maurus, in the life of Lioba 
written by him.'" 

St. Lioba died in a monastery near Mainz, 
28 September, 757. 

Besides the nunnery there appears to have 
been a monastery or ' cloister of monks ' at 
Wimborne, built either by St. Cuthburga or her 
brother King Ine, strict regulations being laid 
•down prohibiting any intercourse between the 
two sections of religious men and religious 

Excepting priests who were to serve at the altar, no 
men should be permitted to enter the monastery of 
those religious virgins, nor any woman that of reli- 
gious men. And that among the other obligations of 
the virgins at their profession this was one, never to 
step out of their cloister except upon a necessary' 
.cause to be approved by superiors." 

° Leland, Itin. iii, 72 ; Collect, ii, 409. 

' The church occurs under this dedication ; Clo^e, 
14 Hen. IV', m. 28,2'. 

' John of Tinemouth, ' Hist. Aurea,' Hickes, 
'Th'saur. iii, 120. 

° H.iddan and Stubbs, Councils and Eccl. Doc. iii, 
342-3. She died three years after her sister, says 
Cressy, and is commemorated on 22 September ; Ch. 
Hist. o/Bnt. lih. xxi, cap. 18. 

"> Ibid. " Ibid. 

We are told in her life given by Mabillon that 
St. Lioba '^ was fond of citing the example set 
by her former superior. Abbess Tetta of Wim- 
borne, who presided over the houses of both 
men and women as over a double monastery, 
and whose observance of this regulation was so 
strict ' that she would not so much as permit 
the bishop's entrance ' in the women's section." 

References to Wimborne in the ninth and 
tenth centuries afford ample proof of the import- 
ance of the town and the veneration paid to its 
Minster during the Saxon period. It was select- 
ed as the burial-place of King jEthelred, who 
died in 87 I in consequence of wounds received in 
the battle fought against the Danes at Merton.^* 
The yinglo-Saxon Chronicle recording the death 
of king Sigferth, who killed himself in 962, adds, 
' his body lies at Wimborne.' " 

Again, Wimborne was the centre of events 
attending the accession to the throne of Edward 
the Elder in 901, for .iEthelwold, son of 
j^lthelbert, an elder brother of Alfred, disputing 
tiie title of his cousin and relying on some 
measure of popular support for his own claim, 
seized the royal towns of Oxeley or Christchurch 
(Hants) and Wimborne, and investing the latter 
place with such troops as he could muster 
resolved to stand a siege, declaring that there ' he 
would either live or lie.' To the injury more- 
over of whatever cause he might possess, he 
forcibly abducted an inmate of the famous 
monastery ' without leave of the king and con- 
trary to the bishop's ordinance, for she was a pro- 
fessed nun,' and made her his wife. King 
Edward meanwhile raising a powerful army for 
the defence of his kingdom and the vindication 
of religion marched into Dorset, and encamped 
at a place called Bad bury, where there was a 
castle at no great distance from Wimborne. 
The courage of .iEthelwold then apparently 
deserted him and he fled away by night and 
came to Northumbria, where he joined himself 
to the Danes and besought them to receive him 
into their company to fight against King 
Edward, being soon after made king by them. 
Edward the Elder in the meantime relinquishing 
the pursuit of the enemy contented himself with 
receiving the submission of the town, ordering 
the religious woman who had been abandoned 
by iEthelwold in his flight to be sent back to her 

A blank in the history of Wimborne succeeds, 
and it is generally conjectured that the monastery 

" Acta Sanctorum Ord. S. Benedicti, Sacculum, iii 
(2), 247- 

" Ibid. See Cressy, Ch. Hist, of Brit. lib. xxiv, cap. 4. 

" Anglo-Sax. Ckron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 62 ; Matt, of 
Westm. Fiores Hist. (Rolls Ser.), i, 444. 

" Anglo-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 92. 

'' Ibid. 75 ; Matt, of Westm. Fiores Hist. (Rolls 
Ser.), i, 478 ; Matt. Paris, Ckron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), 
i, 435-6. 



perished in one of the Danish raids of the period. 
The Danes, we are told, ravaged the country in 
the year 998 ; no details are given, but the Anglo- 
Saxon Chronicle, recording fruitless attempts to 
withstand the destructive march of the enemy, 
adds sadly : ' In the end they ever had the 
victory.' " According to Leland Wimborne was 
rebuilt by ' King Edward,' supposed to be the 
Confessor, and by him was converted into a house 
or college of secular canons with a dean at its 
head.'* No reference is made to it until the 
reign of Henry III beyond the statement in 
Domesday, that the church of Wimborne had a 
hide and a half and a virgate of land in Hinton." 
From the date of its restoration it appears to have 
enjoyed the status and privileges of a royal free 
chapel with college attached under the direct 
patronage of the crown. In 13 1 8 Edward II 
addressed an order to Rigaud Asser, then 
papal nuncio, afterwards bishop of Winchester, 
forbidding him to exact aught from or to lay any 
imposition whatever on the dean and preben- 
daries of Wimborne Minster — 

Whereas it is a free chapel of the king and altogether 
exempt with the prebends and chapels pertaining 
thereto from all ordinary jurisdiction and from all 
exactions, procurations and contributions whatsoever."' 

Owing to this immunity from episcopal juris- 
diction there are no entries in the diocesan registers 
which can throw light on the internal condition 
of the college. A solitary mention occurs in 
1379 wherein William Crundell, proctor of the 
dean and college, was summoned with the proc- 
tors of Ford, Cerne, and Tewkesbury to appear 
before the bishop's commissary in the parish 
church of Sonning prepared to exhibit their title 
to all ecclesiastical benefices, portions, and 
pensions held by them.^' 

The earliest appointment to Wimborne that 
is recorded occurs at the beginning of the reign 
of Henry III, when Martin de Pateshull received 
letters of presentation to the deanery then vacant 
and at the royal collation, 6 December, 1223.^^ 

" Anglo-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 108. 

'* Collect, i, 82 ; see also Itin. iii, 72. 

" Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 77^. This may be 
either in Hinton Martell or Little Hinton, as both are 
included in the survey of Hinton. 

™ Close, II Edw. II, m. 10. In the event of a 
general contribution by the clergy to the crown the 
king was in the habit of addressing a special order to 
the dean, appointing him collector of the subsidy due 
from all benefices pertaining to his chapel, which was 
exempt from the jurisdiction of the ordinary. Ibid. 
8 Edw. II, m. 9. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, i, fol. 29. 

■" Pat. 8 Hen. Ill, m. 12. The Rev. R. W. Eyton, 
in \a%Key to Domesday {Dorset,), suggests that Maurice, 
bishop of London, and Hugh his predecessor held half 
a hide in OJeham in the parish of Wimborne in 
virtue of the deanery, ' having in their time been deans 
of Wimborne,' but they are not included in any list 
of the deans of Wimborne. 

The following year the sheriff of Dorset was 
directed to cause proclamation to be made that 
the market and fair formerly held within the 
cemetery of Wimborne should in future be held 
outside under the walls, on land belonging to the 
dean on the same days and with the same liberties 
and customs as formerly.^' 

The deanery was always held by men holding 
other ecclesiastical benefices and in many cases 
secular offices, and. was bestowed by the king on 
his clerks and court favourites as a reward for their 
services, and by no means always with a view to 
their spiritual fitness. Martin de Pateshull, 
early in the reign of Henry III, sat as a justice 
of the King's Bench, was a justice itinerant and 
constantly employed as a judge ; besides other 
ecclesiastical benefices he held a prebend in St. 
Paul's, London, the archdeaconry of Norfolk, and 
in 1228 was appointed to the deanery of St. 
Paul's.^^ On his death the following year he 
was succeeded at Wimborne, 20 October, by 
Randolf Brito,^* who in the previous December 
had been presented by letters patent of the king 
to prebends in London and Salisbury and to the 
rectory of Charing (Kent),-^ and the March 
following appointed constable of Colchester Castle 
and warden of the ports of Essex.^' John 
Mansel, the notorious pluralist, who succeeded 
in 1 247 on the death of Brito, had, as we may 
gather from the pages of Matthew Paris,"* a very 
distinguished career in many ways, but the 
positions which he held and the difficult negotia- 
tions in which he was frequently employed by 
the king can have left him no leisure to bestow 
on Wimborne, and the fact that he held the 
deanery is not even mentioned in the Chronica 
Major a, which records his varied appointments.^' 

For examples of pluralism in this county we 
have only to turn to this deanery, a notorious 
instance being that of John Kirby the tax- 
gatherer, who followed Mansel. The number 
of his clerical preferments, granted solely in 
reward for his services to the king, and with 
no regard to his fitness,'" created a painful 

^ Close, 9 Hen. Ill, m. 20. 

" Le Neve, Fasti Eccl.Jngl.u, 308, 371, 482; New- 
court, Repert. i, 35. " Pat. 13 Hen. Ill, m. i. 

»= Ibid. m. II. "Ibid. m. 9. 

'■^ Chron. Maj. (Rolls Ser.), vols, iii, iv, and v. 

-' He held a prebend in London {Fasti Eccl. Angl. 
ii, 397), was chaplain to Henry III, made chancellor 
by the king in 1243 (Pat. 27 Hen. Ill, m. 10), and 
the following year principal councillor (Matt. Paris, 
Chron. Maj. [Rolls Ser.], iv, 294). In the same year 
that he was presented to Wimborne he received the 
charge of the Great Seal and was made provost of 
Beverley (ibid. 601). In 1258 he witnessed a charter 
as chancellor of York (ibid, v, 672). Bilsington 
Priory in Kent was founded by him (ibid, v, 690-1). 

*° He appears to have held only deacon's orders, and 
was ordained priest by Peckham the day before his 
consecration to Ely in 1286; Reg. Epist. Peckham 
(Rolls Ser.), iii, App. ii, 1 041. 



impression in the minds of the more scrupulous 
and devout of the clergy, while the nature of 
his employment did not tend to add to his 
popularity. "*' On his election to Rochester in 
1285, Archbishop Peckham actively interfered 
and, on the ground of Kirby's notorious 
pluralism, desired the chapter to make another 
choice of a fit person.'^ The archbishop did not 
interfere, however, when, in 1286, the dean was 
promoted to Ely." 

No record seems to exist of the original 
endowment of the college and deanery, which 
at the beginning probably consisted of the great 
tithes of the parish, to which were added as 
time went on considerable gifts of portions of 
tithes and land. According to the Taxatio of 
1 29 1 the possessions of the dean and college 
were assessed at ;^7 1 ; the portion of the dean 
amounting to £26 ly- 4-d- from Wimborne, 
Kingston, and Shapwick ; that of the four pre- 
bendaries jTio each ; the sacrist ^^4 6s. Sd.^* In 
1349, on the appointment of Reginald Brian, 
four commissioners were deputed, together with 
Thomas de Gary the sacrist, to survey the chapel, 
which was reported to be very defective in books 
and ornaments, and in need of repairs in the 
manse and houses as well as in the manors and 
other places in the country pertaining to the 
deanery, to the great injury of the then dean,^* 
who, the following year, was raised to the see of 
St. David's and subsequently made bishop of 
Worcester. The next occasion for an inquiry 
was in 1367, when an inquisition was ordered 
to be held in the presence of Richard de 
Beverley, lately presented to the deanery, or his 
proctor and the executors of the late dean, Henry 
de Bukyngham, with a view to ascertain what 
damages and waste had occurred during the last 

" Just before the death of Henry III he was given 
the Great Seal, and, though he subsequently resigned it, 
appears to have been attached in some capacity to the 
chancery ; the Anna'es speak of him as vice-chancellor 
{Ann. Man. [Rolls Sen], iii, 315). In 1284 he was 
made treasurer, but he was employed chiefly to travel 
the country and collect what sums he could for the 
king. The benefices with which his zeal was rewarded 
included the rectory of St. Burian's, Cornwall, the 
deanery of Wimborne, a canonry in Wells and York, 
and in 1272 the archdeaconry of Coventry ; Wharton, 
Angl. Sacra, i, 637, note 4 ; Fasti Eccl. Angl. i, 568. 

" Reg. Epist. Peckham (Rolls Ser.), ii, 575. 

" Wharton, Angl. Sacra, i, 637. 

" Po/>e Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 180. Within the 
deanery of Pimperne the dean is said to have 
portions consisting of 1 3/. \d. from the church 
and chapel of Shapwick (ibid. 178), j^l from 
Edmondsham, 10/. from Stanbridge or Litde Hinton, 
and j^l from Hampreston (ibid. 179) ; Hutchins, 
Hist, of Dorset, 139, 142,435. The parishioners of 
Hampreston were formerly buried at Wimborne until 
1440, when they obtained a licence for their own 
burial-ground from Henry VI ; Harl. MS. 6963, 
fol. 56. 

'^ Pat. 23 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 22 d. 

occupancy of the deanery, the nature of the 
defects, and whether they could be repaired 
within a cost of ^^400. The return made to the 
writ, giving the value of the dean's possessions, 
enumerates titlies in Shapwick, lOOs. ; Kingston, 
8 marks ; Pimperne, 20s. ; Bradford, 20s. ; 
Crichel, ioj. ; parcel of Holt, with tithes of 
wool and lambs, ;^8 ; tithes of Hampreston, ^^4 ; 
demesne lands let to farm, 235. ; tithes of wool 
and lambs, 40^. ; and states that William Sewell, 
chaplain and farmer of the late dean, had 20 
marks remaining in hand, and the reeve 
[praepoiitus) £6 of arrears.'* 

Leaving the deanery, we find the staff 
of the college with sacrist and four preben- 
daries increased in the middle of the fourteenth 
century by the addition of four chaplains ap- 
pointed to serve the chantry, known as the 
Great or Brembre's Chantry, founded in 1354 
by the dean Thomas de Brembre, who, on 10 
August of that year, obtained a royal licence to 
appropriate the advowson of the church of 
Shapwick, held in chief of the king, to the canons 
and college of Wimborne Minster for the sus- 
tentation of four chantry priests celebrating 
divine ofSces in the chapel under the sacrist 
according to the ordination of the dean." In 
addition to this grant the custodian and four 
chaplains obtained a licence enabling them to 
acquire 10 'marcatas' of land and rent in 
Walsford, Chalbury, Kingston, ' Duppleshegh,' 
and ' Cokeshull,' not held of the king in chief; 
while Richard de Corfton, at the same time, was 
permitted to assign to them one messuage, 12 
bovates of land, 16 acres of meadow, 5 acres of 
pasture, 2 acres of wood with 40;. rent, and 
pasturage for sixteen oxen, twelve cows, forty 
pigs, and 400 sheep in the above places, valued 
at J IS., to be held by the custodian and 
chaplains at the annual value of £i^., in part 
satisfaction of the grant of I o ' marcatas.' '* The 

" Inq. p.m. 41 Edw. Ill (2nd Nos.), No. 37. 

" Pat. 28 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. I 5. The church of 
Shapwick seems, from early times, to have been 
attached to the deanery. In 1238 Henry III 
addressed letters to the bishop of Salisbury bidding 
him revoke the presentation he had made to the 
church on the ground that it belonged immediately to 
the deanerj' which pertained to the royal patronage. 
Pat. 22 Hen. Ill, m. 2. 

" Pat. 28 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 10. There m.iy 
later have been some dispute in reference to this grant, 
for an entry in the Close Rolls of the last year of 
Henry IV states that Thomas Corfton testifies that 
he has released and quitclaimed to Richard Holhurst, 
sacrist of the church of St. Cuthburga of Wimborne 
Minster and custodian of the chantry of Thomas de 
Brembre, founded in the church, to Richard Skvll, 
William Vyncent, Richard Shephurd, and Thomas 
Pylle, chaplains, all personal actions which he may 
have or could possibly have against them ' from the 
beginning of the world up to the dav of the " con- 
fection " of these present.' Close, 14 Hen. IV, m. 28. 

1 10 


office of custodian of the chantry was held, ex 
officio, by the sacrist. 

Besides the foundation of Dean Brembre, there 
was another and later chantry of equal, or even 
greater, importance in the church, founded by 
Margaret countess of Richmond and Derby but 
not completed till after her death. By a tri- 
partite deed, dated 12 March, 1511, between 
the executors of the will of the deceased countess, 
the dean and chapter of the college, and the 
sacrist or custodian and chaplains of the Great 
Chantry, reciting the grant procured by the 
countess of her son Henry VII by letters patent 
of I March, 1497, for the foundation of a 
chantry of one chaplain in the royal free chapel 
or collegiate church of Wimborne ' to the praise 
and honour of Jesus and the Annunciation of 
the B. V. M.,' with licence to appropriate lands, 
rents, and benefices &c., to the annual value of 
j^io, to the said chaplain and his successors; 
and after the death of the countess and the ap- 
pointment of her executors (Richard bishop of 
Winchester, John bishop of Rochester, and 
others), the letters patent of Henry VIII, 
7 August, 1509) in the first year of his reign, 
confirming the previous grant of his father and 
granting an additional licence to appropriate lands 
and rents to the annual value of j^6, besides the 
above ;^io, was established a perpetual chantry 
for the augmentation of divine service and for 
the souls of the said countess, her parents and 
ancestors, and all the faithful departed at the 
altar on the south side of the tomb of John 
Beaufort, late duke of Somerset, and Margaret 
his wife, the father and mother of the aforesaid 

By this same deed Richard Hodgekynnes, 
B.A., was appointed the first chaplain, to reside 
in a house within the college opposite the 
chamber or dwelling of the sacrist and to teach 
grammar to all comers after the form and manner 
used at Eton and Winchester. Besides this duty 
he was bound to celebrate daily for the soul of 
the founder, and for the souls of her father, 
mother, and ancestors, special collects being 
appointed to be recited ; an anniversary was fixed 
to be kept yearly on 29 July, whereon a 
requiem mass should be said, and at the end of 
the mass a distribution of 20s. made in the 
following manner: — To the sacrist of the college 
if he should be present in his surplice and amice, 
idd.; to each chaplain 'present and devoutly 
singing,' 8i. ; to every secondary and parish 
clerk, 4</. ; to the sacrist for five wax candles to 
be burnt round the bier, and two on the altar 
during the mass, and for bell-ropes, ibd. ; to 
those ringing the bells, 8^. ; the remainder of the 
20;. should be distributed to the poor of the 
parish by the advice of the sacrist according to 
their necessities, thus : — to one, id. ; to another, 
2d. The said Richard Hodgekynnes should 
receive yearly £10, and his servant or usher 

40J., and he should present a yearly account, 
within Michaelmas and the Feast of All Saints, 
of his receipts and expenditure in the presence of 
the dean, or, in his absence, of the sacrist, and of 
the senior chaplain of the chantry of Thomas 
Brembre, and it should be deposited in a chest 
with three keys whereof one key should be in the 
custody of the dean, or, in his absence, of the 
sacrist, another in the custody of the senior 
chaplain, and the third should be kept by Richard 
Hodgekynnes himself and his successors.'^ 

The deanery was held on the eve of the 
Reformation by the famous Reginald Pole, and 
according to the Valor of 1535 was worth 
^^29 8j. \d. clear.*" The office of the sacrist, 
held by Thomas Yeroth who also served the 
'Redcottes' Chantry founded in the chapel of 
the hospital of St. Margaret and St. Antony 
within the manor of Kingston Lacy,*' was 
valued at ^^5 9;. i^d. clear.*^ The incumbents 
of the four prebends, Richard Sperkeford, John 
Starkey, Thomas Myllys, and George Lylly, 
received respectively the following stipends : — 
^15 5j. id.,li6 15s. 8^2'., ^15 13^. 4^^., and 
£12 191. The number of chaplains attached to 
the Brembre or Great Chantry had been reduced 
from four to three, their names being given as 
Walter Gardener, Edward Thorpe, and John 
Ase, or Ace as he afterwards appears ; each 
had a stipend of £•] lis. lod. Edward Laborne, 
the schoolmaster and chantry priest attached to 
the foundation of the late countess of Richmond 
and Derby, had a net income of ^9 I li. 2d.*^ 

In the return of the commissioners, appointed 
under Edward VI to take the value of the pos- 
sessions of colleges and chantries and to report 
on their plate, goods and ornaments, the ' college 
or free chapel of our Sovereign Lord the king in 
Wimborne ' was said to be worth ^5 1 ^s. 6d., 
with 'rents resolute' of £6 131. ^.d. and fees 
£6 6s. 8d., reducing the clear income to 
;^3^ 5^'** The sacrist's office after deducting 
'rents resolute' of j^3 14s. lod. was returned 
at £5 2s. 4.d. clear.** The Great Chantry, with 
a deduction of £10 2s. \d. in ' rents resolute,' 
was worth ^^34 is. ^d., and had the following 
' jewels ' and ' ornaments ' : — Three chalices 
weighing 55 oz., three pairs of old vestments 
worth bs., two table borders, and one ladder 2s. 

Item I challice belonging to St. James weighing 5 oz. 
2 basons of silver and gilt gyvty to the kinges Majestic 
by the parishioners of Wymborne so it [is] said = 
50 oz. Total 8/., 1 10 oz." 

" A copy of the original of this deed is given by 
Hutchins, Hiii. of Dorset, App. 3, iii, 271-3. 

'" yalor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 273. 

*' For account of this chantry see under hospitals, 
p. 106. 

" Falor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 273. 

" Ibid. 274-5. 

*' Chant. Cert. Dorset, 16, No. 24.. 

" Ibid. 25. *' Ibid. 27. 

I I I 


The chantry of Margaret, countess of Rich- 
mond, was returned at a clear income of 
£(> 2s. o^^., and had no ornaments.*' The four 
prebends in the college called the ' first,' ' seconde,' 
' thirde,' and ' fourthe staulle,' were worth re- 
spectively ^^8 los., £j !$!■ 2d., £12 I5i. 2d., 
and £j IS. id. clear.*'* 

Pole forfeited the deanery in 1537 and was 
succeeded at Wimborne by Nicholas Wilson.'" 
Some of the leading parishioners the following year 
addressed the dean a very respectful letter, saying 
they had been informed that ' Seynt Cuthborow's 
hed ' was to be removed from their church. 

And we know by our composycion that yt ys the 
p,irishioners' goods and our chyrche ys in gret ruyn 
and decay and our toure ys foundered and lyke to 
fall and ther ys no money left in our chyrche box, 
and by reason of great infyrmyty and deth ther hath 
byn thys yere in our parysh no chyrche aele the 
whych hath hyndred our chyrche of xx nobles. 

The letter proceeded to ask whether the 
parishioners might sell the silver about the head 
of the image, and apply the proceeds to the re- 
pair of their church.'" 

The college was dissolved in 1547, and we 
may gather the immediate effect of its suppres- 
sion and of the withdrawal of the activity of the 
staff from the parochial and social life of the 
town from the second part of the commissioners' 
report of Edward VI. The chantry of the 
Countess Margaret,'^ ' founded to the intent that 
the incumbent thereof should say mass for the 
soul of the founder and to tech schoole'mg,^ was 
empty, and complaints appear to have been 
made by the townspeople that their children 
had been deprived of the means of education 
provided for them : — 

It is very requisite and necessary (ran the report) to 
have the said school maintained, for the town of 
Wimborne is a great market town and a thoroughfare 
and hath many children therein, and there is no 
grammar school kept within i 2 miles of Wimborne, 
at which pLice the poor men dwelling in Wimborne 
and there.ibout are not able to keep their children. 
Wherefore it is very requisite that the said school may 
remain still for the bringing up of young children in 
larnyng . . . without anything paying at all as it 
was in times past." 

*' Chant. Cert. Dorset, 28. " Ibid. 29. 

"i. and P. Hen. rill, xii (i), 1 1 15 (42). At 
the close of 1536, on the report that Pole was about 
to forfeit his promotion, William Marshall sought to 
procure the ' little deanery ' from Cromwell for his 
brother Thomas Marshall or his son Richard. Ibid, 
xi, 1355. 

"* Given by Hutchins from the parish records 
(Hist, of Dorset, iii, 1888). It is not noted whether 
so apparently reasonable a request was granted. 

" With the exception of this chantry, the net value 
of which was returned at ^lo 12/. I \d., the value of 
the rest of the offices had fallen in the second part of 
the report below that of the first. 

" Chant. Cert. 16, No. 106. 

From the sacrist's office, the last holder of 
which was Simon Benyson," a distribution was 
annually made to the poor of 205.'* The clear 
income of the deanery, lately held by Nicholas 
Wilson, then amounted to ;^34 6i. id., 

all which was employed as well towards his own 
portion and finding as towards the finding of poore 
men, in which said town of Wimborne be very many 
poore people unto the finding and relief whereof he 
did yerely distribute ^^4 at the lest." 

A note in reference to the four prebends in the 
college states : — 

Mem"* to have 4 priests to serve the cure in the 
parish of Wimborne because there be 3 chapelles 
wherein ther is devyne service, because the said 
chapelles be distaunt from the church of Wymborne 
3 miles and are for the ease of the people.'' 

The report also serves to show of what the 
staff of the college consisted ; besides the dean 
and sacrist, the four chaplains — afterwards reduced 
to three — ordained to serve the Great Chantry, 
the chantry priest and schoolmaster of the 
foundation of the Countess Margaret, there were 
four prebendaries who were bound out of their 
salaries to find and maintain four vicars and four 
'secondaries' to discharge the cure of souls in 
the parish. The repetition of some of the 
names indicates that some offices were doubled ; 
John Ace and Walter Matthew, chaplains of 
the Great Chantry, served as vicars of the 
first and third prebend.'' 

On its dissolution, in the first year of the reign 
of Edward VI, most of the possessions of the 
college were granted to (i) Edward, duke of 
Somerset, (2) to Giles Keylsway and William 
Leonard, and in 1551 to Edward, Lord Clinton. 
Notwithstanding the representation of the com- 
missioners no steps appear to have been taken 
for the retention of the school till the reign of 
Elizabeth, when by a grant of the queen part 
of the property of the late college was vested in 
the governors of the free grammar school of 
Queen Elizabeth in Wimborne Minster in the 
county of Dorset.'* 

" He received a pension of ^^5 as late incumbent 
of Redcottes Chantry ; Willis, H'tst. of Mitred Abbeys, 
ii, 72. 

" Chant. Cert. 16, No. 108. This was probably 
the distribution ordained to be made annually at the 
discretion of the sacrist on the anniversary of the 
countess of Richmond and Derby and her parents. 

" Ibid. No. III. The late dean was entered for 
a pension of 53/. \d. ; Add. MS. 19047, fol. 8 d. 

''Chant. Cert. 16, No. iii. Besides the free 
chapel of St. Peter within the town there were these 
three chapels outside the town : St. Katherine's of 
Leigh, St. Stephen's at Kingston Lacy, and St. James 
of Holt. Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset, iii, 228. 

" Chant. Cert. 16, No. 109-11. They received 
a pension of £6 each ; Add. MS. 19047, fol. 8 d. 

" Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1452. 



Deans of Wimborne '^ 

Martin de Pateshull, presented 1223^-' 

Randolf Brito, presented 1229" 

John Mansell, presented 1247 

John Kirby, 1265 

John de Berwick, presented 1286 

Stephen de Male Lacu or Mauley, presented 

Richard de Clare, presented 131 7" 
Richard de Swynnerton, presented 1335^' 
Richard de Murymouth, presented 1330 '^■'' 
Robert de Kyngeston, presented 1342"'' 
Thomas de Clopton, presented 1349," died 

in the same year 
Reginald Brian, presented 1349"* 

Thomas de Brembre, presented 1350'' 

Henry de Bukyngham, presented 1 36 1 

Richard de Beverley, presented 1367'" 

John Carp, presented 1387'^' 

Roger Coryngham, presented 1400^^ 

Peter de Altobasso or Altobosco, presented 1 4 1 2 

Walter Medford, occurs 141 5 

Gilbert Kymer, presented 1423" 

Walter Hurte, occurs 1467 

Hugh Oldham, presented 1485 

Thomas Rowthel, occurs 1508 

Henry Hornby, occurs 1509 as an executor of 

the will of the countess of Richmond and 

Reginald Pole, presented i 5 i 8 '* 
Nicholas Wilson, presented 1537 '' 



The Domesday Survey records that the manor 
of Frampton in Dorset was held by the church 
of St. Stephen, the Norman abbey of Caen 
founded by William the Conqueror 'for the 
weal of himself, his wife, his children, and his 
relatives,'' and that 2 hides of land adjoining 
the manor were the gift of his queen Matilda, 
the whole being worth 40;.^ Henry II, con- 
firming to the monks of Caen the gifts of his 
predecessors, enumerates the manor of Northam 
in Devonshire with its appurtenances, including 
wreck of the sea and dues of the ships calling 
there, given by Matilda in her last illness ; the 
manors of Frampton and Bincombe in Dorset, 
the gift of the Conqueror together with 7 hides 
of land in East Hendred, Berkshire ; the manor 
of Burton Bradstock, Dorset, given by Henry I, 
partly for the redemption of his soul and those 
of his father, mother and relatives, and partly 
in lieu of the crown and other ornaments belong- 
ing to it which William his father had bequeathed 
to the abbey ; and the little manor [maneriolum) 
of Pantfield in Essex.' Richard, archbishop of 

" The following are taken from the list given by 
Hutchins {Hist, of Dorset, iii, 186) from Browne 
Willis, verified and in some cases corrected according 
to the patent rolls and other official records ; where 
no further reference can be found the list has been 
allowed to stand. 

"' Pat. R. Hen. Ill, m. 12. 

" Ibid. 13 Hen. Ill, m. I. 

" Ibid. 5 Edw. II, pt. 2, m. 3. 

^ Ibid. II Edw. II, pt. I, m. 30. 

" Ibid. 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 5. 

" Ibid. 12 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 13. 

'° Ibid. 16 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 14. 

" Ibid. 23 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 31. 

'' Ibid. m. 4. 

" Ibid. 24 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 17. 

'" Inq. p.m. 41 Edw. Ill (2nd nos.), No. 37. 

" Pat. II Rich. II, pt. I, m. 27. 

2 I 

Canterbury, 1172-84, confirming to the abbot 
and convent of St. Stephen's all their possessions 
in the province of Canterbury, includes the 
churches of Frampton, Bincombe, Winterborne, 
and Bettiscombe — saving the rights of the bishop 
of the diocese — according to the charter of Jocelin 
bishop of Salisbury.* Henry III in 1252 granted 
to the prior and monks of Frampton the right 
of free warren within their demesne lands of 
Frampton, Ernley, Bettiscombe, Mosserigg, 
Burton Bradstock, and Bincombe, Dorset, and 
Northam (Devonshire), provided their lands 
should not lie within the king's forest.* 

The Taxatio of 1 291 gives the prior tempor- 
alities in this county amounting to £b2 2s. ; 
£j 31. 4r/. from Northam, Devonshire, and 
;^3 lOJ. from East Hendred, Berkshire.^ The 
spiritualities of the priory are omitted. In the 
same year an order was sent to the treasurer and 
barons of the exchequer to acquit the prior of a 
fine of lOOf. in which he had been amerced for 
his claim for wreck of the sea within his manor 
of Northam.' 

" Ibid. I Hen. IV, pt. I, m. 34. 

'' Ibid. 2 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 33. 

" L. and. P. Hen. Vlll, ii (2), 3943. 

'» Ibid, xii (i), 1 115 (42) 

' See the Conqueror's charter for the abbey, CaL 
Doc. France, 155. 

' Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 78^. 

' Cal. Doc. France, 155-60. The charter of 
Richard I in I 190, contained in the inspeximus 
charter of Henry IV (Pat. 2 Hen. IV, pt. I, m. 33),. 
confirms the two manors of Frampton and Bincombe 
with their members ; the manor of Northam, Devon,, 
7 hides of land at East Hendred, Berks ; Pantfield ini 
Essex ; Burton Bradstock, Dorset ; and a grant by 
Henry II of all kinds offish cast up on their land. 

' CaL Doc. France, 162. 

'Chart. R. 37 Hen. Ill, m. 21. 

^ Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), fol. 132^, I S3, 
184, 196. 

' Close, 19 Edw. I, m. 7. 

n »5 


The cell of Frampton as a typical example 
affords very good material for a study of these 
alien dependencies, and from its history we may 
learn in a measure the vicissitudes of fortune that 
during the greater part of their existence alter- 
nately despoiled and restored them. As regards 
the attention they evidently attracted in this 
county it should be noted that their number 
and position near the coast made them legitimate 
objects of suspicion, and we have to remember 
that their prayers were naturally engaged, or sup- 
posed to be engaged, not for the armies of England 
and her king, but for her adversaries and an alien 
cause.* On the seizure of lands held by Nor- 
mans in England following the loss of Normandy 
in 1204, the prior of Frampton is said to have 
secured his property from John by promising to 
pay a fine of 100 marks in two moieties, the 
first at Michaelmas, 1204, and the second at the 
Feast of St. Hilary following, and afterwards 
;^8o yearly at the usual four terms, in return for 
which he was allowed the custody of the lands 
of the abbot of Caen in Somerset and Dorset.' 
From this time ;^8o per annum, or a propor- 
tionate fraction of it, seems to have been tlie 
sum demanded by the crown on the vacancy 
of the parent house occasioned by the death or 
cession of the abbot of Caen.^° Hugh de Neville 
was ordered 10 April, 1208, to restore to the 
prior of Frampton all his lands taken into the 
king's hands by reason of the interdict. ^^ The 
reign of Henry III passed without incident, 
but early in the reign of Edward I the cell 
excited suspicion, and the prior was required on 
a summons from the sheriff, April, 1275, to 
certify that neither he nor his house were in any 
way bound to any foreign merchant, nor had 
received from them money or 'arras' in ex- 
change for their wool, which on the contrary the 
prior declared had been sold to Geoffrey and 
Thomas de Aune, burgesses of ' Corcestree,' and 
to Stephen Bray, burgher of Sefton.^^ 

In 1294 the prior obtained letters of protec- 
tion from Edward I for a year with other 
ecclesiastics who had granted a moiety of their 
benefices and goods to the crown," and, in 
accordance with the principle of allowing the 
foreigner to escape none of the burdens imposed 
on the native clergy, in 1332 he was requested 

* This reason is set out among others in a letter of 
Edward II to the bishop of Salisbury in 1326 res- 
pecting the foreign cells in his diocese. Sarum Epis. 
Reg. Mortival, i, 274 a'. 

' Rot. Norman. (Hardy), 126; Rot. de oblat'ts et finibus 
(Hardy), 199. In Oct. 1209, the king notified 
the sheriff that the first moiety had been paid into 
the Camera at Winchester on the Monday follow- 
ing the Feast of St. Michaelmas. Close, 6 John, 
m. 15. 

" Close, 8 Edw. II, m. 30. 

" Ibid. 9 John, m. 3. 

" Anct. Corresp. xvii, I 2 5. 

"Pat. 22 Edw. I, PI 8. 

to assist the subsidy raised on the occasion of the 
marriage of the king's sister.** In December, 
1 295, the protection granted to him the previous 
year was renewed, with the restoration of his 
lands and goods on condition that he should 
pay yearly a fixed sum at the exchequer for the 
custody,'^ the grant being repeated March, 1297, 
on the same terms.*' 

On the general seizure of the property of 
aliens in 1324, the issues of the manors belong- 
ing to Frampton Priory taken into the hands of 
custodians by the king's orders from 8 October 
to the 10 January following were valued at 
^^260 "Ji. \dy An inquisition held to inquire 
as to the yearly value of the priory lands esti- 
mated Frampton with the advowson of the 
vicarage at 100;. and the church held 'in pro- 
prios usus'at ^^13 6j. to be worth ^^58 4J. ()d}^ 
This measure, however, did not satisfy the king, 
and in September, 1326, in anticipation of a 
French landing, Edward II addressed a letter to 
the bishop of Salisbury pointing out the danger 
that lay in the position of the enemy's confederates 
near the coast, and desiring certain brethren 
dwelling in these parts to be transferred to other 
houses of the same order further inland. The 
bishop in his reply notified the king that in 
obedience to his order he had sent William 
Pyequier of the priory of Frampton up country 
to the monastery of Sherborne.*' As Edward III 
restored the lands and possessions of no alien 
houses a few days after his accession the follow- 
ing January, Frampton belonging to the abbey 
of Caen being of the number, this transference 
was probably not of long duration.^ 

A period of tranquillity ensued till the year 
1337, when an outbreak of war caused foreign 
dependencies to be again seized, and Henry de 
Haydok, clerk, was deputed to take into the 
king's hand the lands and rents ' of foreign 
religious men of the power and dominion of the 
king of France ' in this county, the sheriff to 
whom they had been delivered accounting for 
the issues of Frampton Priory then valued at 
j^294 19J. "jd}^ The prior meantime was 
granted protection and allowed the custody of 
his house on condition of paying a yearly 

"Close, 6 Edw. Ill, m. xd d. 

'^ Pat. 24 Edw. I, m. 21. 

'' Ibid. 25 Edw. I, m. \zd. 

" Mins. Accts. bdle. 1125, No. 7. 

■' B.M. Add. MS. 6164, fol. 270. The allowance 
made by the king to those foreign ecclesiastics whose 
goods and benefices he had seized was at the rate of 
I %d. a week with 40/. per annum for clothing and 
boots. Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, i, fol. 236. 

" Ibid. fol. 274. 

'" Rymer, Foed. iv, 245-6. In fact the prior in 
1338 was ordered to take up his station near the sea 
for the protection of the coast under penalty of being 
regarded as an adherent of the enemy. Rymer, Foed. 
(Rec. Com.), ii (2), 1062. 

" Mins. Accts. bdle. 1 125, No. 9. 



farm of ^^90 and 10 marks.^^ This payment 
included all incidental charges, and the king's 
escheator in 1 341 was ordered not to meddle 
further with the priory, which he sought to enter 
on the excuse of the voidance of the abbey of 
Caen by the death of Simon the last abbot, as it 
was being farmed by the prior for the king ; ^' in 
the same way the collectors of the tenth granted 
by the clergy in 1338 were ordered to exact no 
more from the prior of Frampton, as he was 
already paying ^^90 for his farm.^* In December, 
1 34 1, the foreign superior was ordered to appear 
before the council, and to bring with him all 
accounts and memoranda of payments made by 
him.^* The following month he received a 
promise that a quantity of wool requisitioned by 
the crown officials commissioned to take a moiety 
of wool in Dorset for the king's use should be 
paid for."^ An extent of the priory was ordered 
to be made at the close of 1344,^' and in 1346 
Edward III granted ;^ioo of the farm of the 
priories of Frampton and Loders to William de 
Groucy,^' Thomas de Lancaster receiving a 
grant of £100 of the farm of Frampton alone 
the following year.^' 

The waste and destruction attending the 
occupation of alien cells in the reign of Edward III 
resulted in a harvest of inquisitions under 
Richard II with the object of ascertaining the 
cause. A commission in 1381 was appointed to 
survey Frampton and its lands and to make inquiry 
into the damage done therein.'" The king, the 
year after, on the payment of 1 00 marks, licensed 
John Devereux, knt., to acquire the priory from 
the abbot of St. Stephen's, Caen, for life with 
successive remainder to Margaret his wife, John 
their son, and Joan their daughter, paying ;^8o 
yearly farm at the Exchequer while the war should 
last.'' The lessee presented in 1387 to the 
church of Frampton, which, except for an interval 
following the restoration of alien houses in 1361, 
had been in the king's hands since 1337, and in 
1385 the farm paid for the custody of the priory 
was remitted by letters patent of Richard II. 
Henry IV in 1400 confirmed the manor or priory 
of Frampton with its issues to Joan, the daughter 

"Close, II Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 13; Pat. 11 
Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 37. 

"Close, 15 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 4. There was 
evidently some delay in complying, for the order was 
repeated in I 343. Ibid. 17 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 17. 

" Ibid. 12 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 20. 

" The order was transmitted to the sheriff the fol- 
lowing month. Ibid. 15 Edw, III, pt. 3, m. 5 a'. 
6 d. In 1 345, and again in 1 347, the prior, Lawrence 
de Brioco or Breoto, was summoned by name. Ibid. 
19 Edw. Ill, m. 22 (/. ; 21 EJw. Ill, pt. I, m. 6 d. 

" Pat. 15 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 2. 

-' Ibid. 1 8 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 12 d. 

^'Ibid. 20 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. I. 

^' Ibid. 21 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 34. 

'"Ibid. 4 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 27 a'. 

''' Ibid. 5 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 19. 

of John Devereux, who had survived her mother 
and brother, and with her husband, Walter Fitz- 
Wauter, ' chivaler,' entered into possession in 
1398.'* In 1402 after the restoration of alien 
houses, Frampton Priory, 'which is conven- 
tual,' was restored to Ralph de Nubibus, monk 
of the abbey of St. Stephen, Caen, on condition 
that he should maintain its former condition and 
pay to the king during the war the ancient 
apport due to the head house in time of peace, 
with other charges.'' 

It is, as a rule, extremely difficult to get any 
real idea of the internal condition of a foreign 
cell, and Frampton is no exception in this respect. 
The episcopal registers record that priors were 
presented by their superiors, the abbot of Caen or 
his proxy, to the bishops of Salisbury for institu- 
tion, letters being subsequently issued to the 
archdeacon of Dorset for their induction. The 
resignation of a prior was also made into the 
hands of the ordinary, but though the house was of 
the Benedictine order and consequently could not 
claim exemption, there is no record that he 
exercised the right of visitation. A very common 
cause of misgovernment, the frequent and 
arbitrary withdrawal of the head of a dependent 
cell by the foreign superior, seems to have been 
present here, for in 1343 the bishop successfully 
petitioned the pope to confirm the presentation 
of Lawrence de Sancto Brioco to the priory in 
order to strengthen his position and prevent his 
arbitrary removal by his superior.'* 

Previous to the suppression of alien cells in 
1 414 the priory or manor of Frampton was made 
over by Henry IV to John, duke of Bedford, 
and Thomas Langley, clerk, keeper of the privy 
seal, for as long as the war should last for a 
yearly farm of ^93 6s. 8d., the grant under date 
of 2 March, 141 4, providing that a reduction 
should be made at the Exchequer in the event of the 
priory being injured and destroyed by the enemy 
lliiad absit) ; it was followed in December of 
tiiat year by another grant which remitted the 
payment of this rent and included William, prior 
of Ogbourne, as holding jointly with the duke 
and Thomas Langley, and again in 1410 by a 
licence enabling the duke to acquire from the 
chief houses in Normandy the whole, or part, of 
all the temporalities pertaining to the priories of 
Ogbourne and Frampton." Henry V confirmed 
the grants of his father in the first year of his 
reign, "* but on the reversion of the priory of 
Frampton to the crown by the death of the duke 
of Bedford, it was given by Henry VI, 16 No- 

" Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. I, m. 8. The February 
following, the king cancelled his previous grant of the 
profits of Frampton rectory to John Cheyne, knt., and 
Thomas Horston, clerk. Ibid. pt. 2, m. 31. 

'' Ibid. 3 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 22. 

" CaL Pup. Letters, ii, 26 ; iii, 187. 

" By inspeximus of Henry V, Pat. I Hen. V, pt. 3, 
m. 41. 'Mbid. 



vember, 1437, to the dean and canons of the 
royal college of St. Stephen, Westminster,'' the 
gift being confirmed to them in 1445,'* and again 
on the accession of Edward IV.'' The Valor of 
1535 gives the possessions of Frampton as still 
held by the college, who retained them down to 
the Reformation.*" 

Priors of Frampton 

William Humez, 1207-14.*^ 

Guimund, 1261 *" 


Richard " 

Martin,** occurs 1296 and again in 1302 

James de Troarno, presented 1302*^ 

Richard de Montigney, presented 131 7, re- 
signed 1329*' 

William de Rusca Villa, presented 1329, re- 
signed 1335*8 

Lawrence de Sancto Brioco or Breoto, pre- 
sented 1335,*' occurs 1345 and 1347,'" he 
presented to the vicarage in 1363 

John Letour, collated by the bishop, 1377 *^ 

Ralph de Nubibus, collated by the bishop 

" Pat. 16 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 14. 

•^ The confirmation of 1 1 July, 1445, vvas given as 
the result of a petition of William Walesby dean, and the 
canons of St. Stephen, setting forth that by an inqui- 
sition held at Dorchester 1402, it was found that a 
carucate of land within the manor had been granted 
by Henry IV on condition that a distribution of cer- 
tain alms should be made to ' poor men,' that the 
carucate was valued at 44; , but that the distribution 
had ceased previous to the inquisition and the canons 
knew nothing of it, though the escheator continued to 
distrain them for the value of the land, and they prayed 
a remedy. The king in his reply stated that the 
possessions of the priory had been granted to the 
dean and canons in free alms and that, therefore, no 
exaction could be made from them. Ibid. 23 Hen. VI, 
pt. 2, m. 8. 

'' Ibid. Edvv. IV, pt. 6, m. 1, 2. 

" VabrEccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 428. 

" According to a Cole MS. he was prior here until 
he was made abbot of Westminster in 1214 ; Dugdale, 
Mon. vi, 1000. " Ibid, 

" This name is also given, but with no date and by 
no authority, in Hutchins and Dugdale. 

" A seal found at Sydling in 1849 with the legend 
S. RicarJi Prioris de Fruntmte, appears to be of thir- 
teenth-century work ; Jourv. of Arch. Assoc, vii, 
(1852), 162. 

'^ As authority for these dates, Hutchins gives a fine 
paid by the prior, 25 Edw. I, and a presentation to 
the vicarage ; Hist, of Dorset, ii, 300. 

" Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, ii, fol. 3 3 </. 

'" Ibid. Mortival, fol. 172. 

*' Ibid. Wyville, ii (Inst.), 40. 

"' Ibid. Wyville. 

■"' Close, 19 Edw. Ill, m. 22 </. ; 21 Edw. Ill, pt. I, 
m. d d. 

^' Sarum Epis. Reg. Erghum, i (Inst.), fol. 15. 

" Ibid. Mitford, fol. 67 d. 

The fourteenth-century pointed oval seal of 
Prior Richard found at Sydling, near Frampton, 
represents the Virgin half-length, the Holy Child 
on the left knee, in the field on the left a crescent, 
on the right a star. In base, under a pointed 
arch with a carved gable topped by a cross on 
either side, the prior, half-length, in prayer." 
Legend : — 



This alien priory, cell to St. Mary of Monte- 
bourg, was founded about the beginning of the 
twelfth century in connexion with the manor 
which Richard de Jledvers had given to the 
Norman abbey, said to be of his foundation. 
Henry I by charter confirmed the grant and 
testified to Roger, bishop of Salisbury, 1107-37, 
and Aiulf the chamberlain (sheriff of Doriet), 
that for the souls of his father and mother, of 
himself, his wife and children, and all his rela- 
tions, he had granted to the abbey of Montebourg 
and Urse its abbot that the manor of Loders, 
which Richard de Redvers had given by his per- 
mission, should be assessed at five hides henceforth 
and for ever both in geld and other dues.''' 
Baldwin, earl of Exeter, confirming the gifts of 
his father to the abbey, which was to be wholly 
quit of all dues to the donor and his heirs, 
specifies the manor of Loders with all its appur- 
tenances and the church, in Dorset, and the 
manor, appurtenances, and church ofAxmouth, 
in Devonshire ; '* these are included in the charter 
of Henry II ratifying to the abbey the previous 
gifts of the reputed founder and his family." 

Besides the church of Loders the abbot of 
Montebourg held in Dorset before the end of the 
twelfth century the chapel of St. Andrew of 
Bradpole, the gift of William de Moreville ;*^ the 
cliurch of Powerstock, the gift of Roger Arun- 
del ; ^~' and the church of Fleet granted by Hawy- 
sia Redvers, the sister of Earl Richard,'* the last 
two being confirmed by Jocelin, bishop of Salis- 
bury, in II 5 7.'' About the year 1215 the abbot 
and convent of St. Mary, Montebourg, released 

" B.M. Seals, Ixii, 411^. 

"' Cal. Doc. Trance, 313. 

^ Ibid. 314. 

" Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1097. Among other grants 
to the abbey by Henry II was one directing that the 
house, which was under his protection, should enjoy all 
such liberties and dues as it enjoyed in the time of 
his father ; and another stating that the abbot and 
monks should be free of toll and passage and of all dues 
wheresoever they should go or whatever they should 
buy, provided it should be for the use of the monks. 
Cal. Doc. France 319. 

" Ibid. 316. 

" Chart, of Salisbury in Ttvelfth and Thirteenth Cent. 
(Rolls Ser.), 26. 

"Ibid. 28. "Ibid. 29. 



to Bishop Herbert Poor and the chapter of Salis- 
bury their churches of Powerstock and Fleet,'''* 
and by a mutual arrangement were allowed to 
retain the church of Loders and chapel of 
Bradpole as a prebend in Salisbury, thereby 
entitling the foreign superior to a stall in the 
cathedral choir and a voice in the chapter.'^ In 
the Taxatio of 1 29 1 this prebend of Loders ' with 
the chapel ' was assessed at ;^20, the vicarage at 
£S->^' t^lic temporalities of the prior of Loders 
within the parish were reckoned at £26.^^ A 
commission was appointed on 18 October, 13 13, 
to investigate a complaint of the prior that John, 
rector of St. Mary's church in the neighbouring 
town of Bridport, had carried away his goods at 

The external history of Loders as an alien 
dependency follows very closely that of Frampton, 
with which it is frequently coupled during the 
period of the French wars. On its seizure by 
John in 1 204, together with the property of other 
Norman landowners in England, the land was re- 
ported to be worth ^^33 unstocked, with the stock 
£^0.^^ The sheriff the following year was 
ordered to restore to Prior Baldwin full possession 
of his property ' which he holds of the abbot 
of Montebourg,' for which he had given two 
palfreys to the king with a promise to pay what- 
ever he had formerly paid to the abbot, and not 
to transport any goods abroad without licence.*^ 

The prior received from Edward I in 1 294, 
1295, and 1297 letters of protection with licence 
to retain the custody of his goods on the same 
terms and under the same circumstances as the 
prior of Frampton.^' On the seizure of alien pro- 
perty by Edward II in 1324 his goods within the 
manor of Loders and Bothenhampton, taken into 
custody from 8 October to 28 December, were 
valued at ;^99 is. 3^.,*^ the extent of the yearly 
value of his lands was returned at ;^54 8j. 5J^. ; 
the church of Loders, which the monks held in 
proprios usus, a prebend of Salisbury, was worth 
£,2\; the advowson of the vicarage iooj.,and of 
the vicarage of Bradpole ;^io.^' On the eve of 
a threatened invasion of the French in the 
autumn of 1326 the bishop advised the king that 
in accordance with his mandate he had caused 
Ralph Pothyn of Loders Priory, a foreigner, to he 
transferred to the abbey of Sherborne as further 
removed from the coast.™ 

The outbreak of war in 1337 resulted in the 
priory being again taken into the hands of the 

^ Reg. St. Osmund. (Rolls Ser.), i, 225. " Ibid. 226. 
^' Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), i8i/5. 
'■^ Ibid. 1%-ib. '■* Pat, 7 Edw. II, pt. I, m. i\J. 
'''' Rot. Norman. (Hardy), I 24. 
^ Rot. de Finibus 1 199-1 2 l 5 (Hardy), 313. 
"' Pat. 22 Edw. I, m. 8 ; 24 Edw. I, m. 21 ; 25 
Edw. I, m. 12 d. 

''Mins. Accts. bdle. 1 125, No. 7. 
"" B.M. Add. MS. 6164, fol. 270. 
'" Sarum Epis. Reg. Mortival, i, fol. 236. 

king, who restored it to the prior, 3 August, on 
condition that he should pay 10 marks and a 
yearly farm of £jo for the custody,'' the payment 
of this amount superseding all other dues. The 
possessions of the priory at Loders and Bothen- 
hampton, with the custody of which the sheriff 
had been charged, were valued at £s^ 2J. and 
;r34 175.'^ An interesting record under the 
year 1339 states that the king wrote to the 
bishop of Winchester cancelling his order for the 
removal of the prior of Applcdurcombe in ths 
Isle of Wight and two of his monks from their 
priory near the sea coast to Hyde Abbey, owing 
to the war with France, desiring that they should 
be transferred instead to the house of the prior of 
Loders within the cathedral close of Salisbury, 
' which is further still from the sea.''^ 

Events in 1343 throw some light on a com- 
mon enough feature of most dependent cells : 
the state of subjection in which the house was 
kept by the foreign superior. The bishop, we 
may note, beyond instituting the prior appoint- 
ed by the abbot and convent of Montebourg 
and receiving official notification of his with- 
drawal, neither exercised nor attempted to exer- 
cise any jurisdiction in the priory ; the check 
placed that year on the arbitrary methods of the 
abbot came from the king, who in February 
wrote to the sheriff that whereas he had com- 
mitted to brother Roger, prior of Loders, an alien, 
the custody of his house for a certain farm, the 
abbot, his superior, on the false suggestion of 
the death of the prior had committed the man- 
agement to another monk, and was endeavouring 
forcibly to remove the former contrary to the 
appointment made by the king, who forbade 
any such substitution to be allowed.'* The fol- 
lowing year Roger Hariel, prior of Loders, 
obtained from the pope an indult that he should 
not be removed from the priory without reason- 
able cause," and as the next presentation does 
not occur until 1 36 1 he seems to have made 

" Close, 1 1 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 37. 

" Mins. Accts. bdle. I 125, No. 9. An inventory 
of the household goods of the cell, including beds or 
rather iino lecto xx', is informing as to the internal 
equipment of a small religious house. Ibid. 

" Rot. Aleman. 13 Edw. Ill.m. G d. On the other 
hand the prior of Loders and the heads of other alien 
cells as well as of native houses were ordered in 1338 
to repair to manors nearer the sea in order to defend 
the coast from attack. Rymer, Foedera (Rec. Com.), 
ii (2), 1062. 

" Close, 17 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. zj d. This order 
was addressed to the escheator in the Isle of Wight for 
the benefit of Roger Hariel, prior of Applcdurcombe, 
as well as to the sheriff of Somerset and Devon for 
Roger, prior of Loders, who appear to be one and the 
same person, as Roger Hariel was certainly appointed 
to Loders in I 320 and occurs here in 1344 and later. 

" Cal. Pap. Letters, iii, 116. In February, 1346, 
he received as prior of Loders another indult to choose 
a confessor. Ibid, iii, 210. 



good his position. This is the nearest approach 
to any hint as to the internal condition of the 
house that can be discovered. 
, An inquisition held at Bridport the Wednesday- 
after the Feast of the Annunciation, 1387, states 
that the possessions of the priory in the parish of 
Loders at that date were worth £^']0 and at Ax- 
mouth, Devonshire, ;^30.'* Richard II, in the 
early part of 1399, bestowed the house with all its 
appurtenances, rendering a yearly farm of ;^8o to 
the crown, on the Carthusian priory of St. Anne 
by Coventry," but the grant can barely have 
taken effect, for in November, almost immediately 
after his accession, Henry IV restored it to its for- 
mer owners in the person of the prior, Sampson 
Trisal,''* the grant beina; confirmed to William 
Burnell, collated to the priory in March, 1 40 1.''' 
On the final suppression of alien houses in 1 414 
Henry V made over the possessions of this cell to 
the abbess and convent of the nunnery of Syon, 
which he had founded in the manor of Isleworth, 
Middlesex, the grant being ratified by Henry VI 
in 1424,'° and confirmed by Edward IV in the 
first year of his reign,*^ the manor appearing as 
parcel of the possessions of the abbey of Syon in 
the Valor of 1535.*' 

Priors of Loders 

Baldwin, occurs in 1205 *' 

R[oger or Robert], occurs in surrender deed of 

abbot of Montebourg, probably of the year 

1 2 1 3 ** 
Robert, occurs 1308*' 
William de Carentonio or le Condu, presented 

1313,^' withdrawn 1320 
Roger de Hariel, presented 1320*' 
Robert Dore, presented 1361,^ resigned 1364 
Sampson Trigal, presented 1364*' 
William Burnell, collated 1401'° 


Povington, formerly a manor and now a 
hamlet in the parish of Tyneham in the isle of 
Purbeck, was granted to the abbot and monks 
of Bec-Hellouin in Normandy by Robert Fitz 

"= Add. MS. 6164, fol. 506. 

" Pat. 22 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. 4. 

" Ibid. I Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 13. 

" Ibid. 2 Hen. IV, pt. 3, m. 20. 

'" Ibid. 2 Hen. VI, pt. 3, m. 20. 

" Ibid. I ¥.dv/. IV, pt. 3, m. 1. 

*> Fa/or Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, 425. 

^ Rot. de Finibus, 1 1 99-1 2 1 5 (Hardy), 3 1 3. 

^ Reg. Rubrum, fol. 142. 

** Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent, ii, fol. 73. 

'« Ibid. fol. 126. 

" Ibid. Mortival, i, fol. 8 7 a". 

«' Ibid. Wyvllle, ii (Inst.), fol. 285. 

«' Ibid. fol. 305. 

"> Ibid. Mitford. 

Ceroid,'^ a Norman who accompanied the Con- 
queror to England, and who is returned in 
Domesday as holding ' Povintone ' of the king, 
the manor being valued then and in the days of 
Edward the Confessor at ;^ii.'^ In the roll of 
Norman landowners in England of the year 
1205 the manor of Povington belonging to the 
abbot of Bee was valued at loof. unstocked, and 
at double that amount with the stock. The prior 
of Bee was reported to have removed since Easter 
eighty-five cheeses and all the wool of the flock, 
together with i mark from the sale of beans, 
1 5x. from the sale of oats, and 20j. <)d. of the 
Easter rent." 

Notwithstanding the many charters granted in 
favour of this Norman abbey by the Norman and 
early Plantagenet kings,''' the claim of the monks 
to their estates here did not pass unchallenged. 
As a result of a trial by wager of battle fought 
out between Avenel Fitz Robert and Henry 
abbot of Bee by his attorney, William de Wane- 
cing, the former by a fine levied within fifteen 
days of Michaelmas, 1223, released to the said 
abbot his claim to the manor of Povington, and 
received by way of compensation the sum of 
30 marks of silver.^' 

Towards the close of the thirteenth century 
the manor of Povington with its members of 
West Whiteway in the parish of Tyneham, 
Lutton and Blackmanstone in the parish of 
Steeple, and Milborne Bee in the parish of Bere 
Regis, had come to be reckoned as parcel of the 
priory of Ogbourne, Wiltsliire, another cell to 
Bee ; '* the temporalities of the prior of Og- 

^' The pancarta of this foreign abbey, granted by 
Henry VI (Pat. 12 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 13), contains 
inspeximus charters of Henry IV, Richard II, Edward 
III, Henry III, and Henry II, with a confirmation of 
the possessions of the monies by Henry I, including a 
grant of the manor of ' Ponniton ' in the county of 
Dorset by Robert Fitz Ceroid. 

=' Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 80^. 

" Rot. Norman. (Hardy), 123. 

'* See collection of charters contained in Pat. 1 2 
Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 13, and Cal. Doc. France, 120-31. 

'^ Feet of F. 7 Hen. Ill, 5 (26). Again in the autumn 
of 1225 Henry III directed the sheriff to del.iy a suit 
between Avenel de Purbeck and the abbot respecting 
acarucate of land with appurtenances in Milborne, 
and between John Fordham and the abbot in regard 
to the mill in Wareham until the following Easter, 
on account of the death of the proctor-general of 
the abbot in England, the abbot subsequently ap- 
pointing Ralph de Exon, his monk, to act as his re- 
presentative ; Close, 9 Hen. Ill, ni. 1 ; lo Hen. Ill, 
m. 29. 

*' In 1206 John signified to the sheriff of Bucks, 
that the prior of Ogbourne had paid ;^ioo down for 
the right to hold in his custody all lands and pos- 
sessions of the monks of Bee in England, so that he 
might be disseised of none of them save by the special 
command of the king, and that he had also engaged 
to send none of the issues abroad ; Rot. de Oblatis 
et Finibus, 1199-1216 (H.irdy), 314. The town of 



bourne in Tyneham and Steeple, Milborne Bee 
and Povington being assessed at ^i i lOi. in the 
year 129 1.'' 

In common with other ah'en cells Povington 
was constantly taken into the king's hands dur- 
ing the wars with France. By an inquisition 
held on the occasion of its seizure 8 October, 
1324, by Walter Beril and Martin Roger de 
Blokkesworthe the goods found in the manor of 
Povington and Lutton were valued at ;^58 gs.^^ 
The sheriff in 1337 was charged with the issues 
of Povington and Lutton, and of ' a certain place 
called Milborne Bek,' amounting to ^^28 4s. gd., 
which had been taken into custody by Henry 
Haydok, clerk, and delivered to him.'' The 
inquisition at VVareham the Monday after Easter, 
1387, probably ordered with a view to ascertain 
the cause of the steady decrease in value then 
taking place in most of the alien cells, showed 
that the possessions of the prior of Ogbourne at 
Povington and West Whiteway, Lutton, and 
Blackmanstone were worth £6 1 3$. 4.d. after all 
charges and deductions had been made.'"'' 

The vicissitudes of the manor during the fif- 
teenth century were many and various, and one 
can hardly account for the contradictory effect 
of many of the grants. Before the final suppres- 
sion of alien priories in 1 41 4 Ogbourne, with 
all its rectories, manors, land, and possessions, 
&c., was granted by Henry IV to John duke of 
Bedford, who, piously recollecting the religious 
nature of the benefaction, made it over to the 
warden and canons of St. George's, Windsor, the 
gift being confirmed by Henry V.'''' Henry VI, 
on the death of the duke in 1435,'°' granted the 
manor of Povington — together with pensions and 
portions in Milborne Bee, Turnworth, Charl- 
ton, and Up Wimborne — parcel of the sometime 
alien priory of Ogbourne, which had reverted to 
the crown, to Richard Sturgeon, clerk, for life, 
and in 1442 bestowed the reversion of the manor 
with its members on John Carpenter, the master 
and brethren of the hospital of St. Anthony, 
London, for the exhibition and support of five 
boys or scholars ' well disposed ' at the university 
of Oxford, each of whom should previously have 
been well and sufficiently instructed in the rudi- 
ments of grammar at Eton College and should 
receive at the university lOs. per week until he 

Povington was returned in 1285, however, by the 
jurors of the hundred as belonging to the abbey of 
Bcc-Hellouin, though they could not say by what 
title. The abbot claimed to have the fines {amercia- 
menta) of his tenants, the assize of bread and ale, and 
the right to hold a view of frankpledge within the 
manor ; Inq. of Assess, relating to Feud. Aids, ii, 

'' Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 183-4. 

"' Mins. Accts. bdle. 1 125, No. 7. 

'' Ibid. No. 9. 

'™ Add. MS. 6164, fol. 506. 

"" Chart. R. I Edw. IV, m. 20. 

"" Inq. p.m. 14 Hen. VI, No. 36. 

had attained the degree of bachelor of arts.'*" 
This arrangement notwithstanding, the king nine 
years later gave to the provost and college of 
Eton the farm or rent to be paid by John 
Newburgh, knt., for the custody of the manor of 
Povington to which he had been appointed the 
previous Michaelmas, 1450, together with the 
reversion of the same.'"^ Edward IV, in the first 
year of his reign, while confirming the pre- 
vious grant to St. George's, Windsor, of the 
alien priory of Ogbourne and all its appurte- 
nances by John duke of Bedford, granted the 
manor of Povington to William Beaufitz for the 
term of twenty years.'"* In 1467 he made it 
over to Eton College,'"^ and again in 1474 made 
it the subject of another grant in favour of the 
chapel of Windsor."" 

The schemes of the Yorkist king for the union 
of Eton and Windsor and the enrichment of the 
royal chapel of the latter by the endowments of 
Henry VI's college were foiled by the decision of 
Archbishop Bourchier.'"^ Edward IV by letters 
patent of May, 1478, appears to have repeated 
his grant of this manor to Windsor,"" but Po- 
vington was, nevertheless, restored to Eton with 
other lands of which it had been deprived in 
anticipation, and remained in the hands of the 
college down to the reign of Henry VIII. "" 

There is in the case of Povington little to 
favour the presumption that a religious house 
was actually maintained here. A single refer- 
ence to it as a ' priory ' occurs years after it had 
passed away from its ancient possessors the abbots 
of Bee,'" and, in all probability, it would be 
most accurately described as a grange. 


Robert de Bellomonte or Beaumont, earl of 
Leicester and count of Meulan, in the reign of 
William Rufus granted to the abbey of St. Peter 
of Prdaux in Normandy, twin foundation to the 
other abbey of St. Leodegar or Leger on whom 
his father Roger had bestowed Stour Provost in 
this county,"^ the manor of Toft, Norfolk, 
with the tithes of Charlton Marshall and Spet- 
tisbury, Dorset, the churches of these two vills, 
and the lands belonging to them ; "' the earl by 
another charter testifying that his gift, made for 

'" Pat. 20 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 5. 

"" Ibid. 29 Hen. VI, pt. I, m. 9. 

"^ Chart. R. I Edw. IV, m. 20. 

"■^ Pat. 7 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 13. 

"" Ibid. 14 Edw. IV, pt. 4,m. i. 

"" Hist, of Colleges of mn Chester, Eton, ice. (Acker- 
mann), 29. 

'"' Pat. 17 Edw. IV, pt. I, m. i. 

"» yalor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), iv, 216. 

'" This is in the patent of Edward IV in 1467 ; 
Pat. 7 Edw. IV, pt. 3, m. 13. 

"' Tanner, Notitia, Dorset, xxvii. 

'" Cal. Doc. France, 1 1 1 . 



the souls of the Conqueror and Matilda his 
queen, for the weal and prosperity of William 
king of the English, as well as for the souls of 
his own parents, Roger and Adelina, for himself 
and Henry his brother and all his predecessors, 
had been allowed and confirmed by King William 
at Whitsuntide when he first held his court in 
his new hall at Westminster.*'* The valuation 
in the reign of John of the lands of Nor- 
mans in England seized into the king's hand 
states that Spettisbury belonging to the abbot of 
Pr^aux was worth ^12 unstocked, and with the 
stock already there ;^I5; if stocked to the extent 
of its capacity it should be worth ^20; nothing 
had been removed therefrom.'" In 1 29 1 the 
church of Spettisbury, in the deanery of Whit- 
church, together with the chapel of Charlton 
Marshall was assessed at ;^io. The prior of 
Spettisbury had a pension therein of 30J., and 
received ^^'4 ds. 8d. from tithes ; the temporalities 
in Spettisbur)' were reckoned to the abbot of 
Pr^aux or de Pratellis as worth ^^12 6s}^^ On 
27 October, 13 12, Thomas de Marisco of Spet- 
tisbury obtained a licence from the king enabling 
him to alienate a moiety of a mill in Spettisbury 
to the abbot and convent of Preaux in exchange 
for 2 acres of land and I rood of meadow in the 
same town.''' 

Little is known of the history of this alien 
cell up to the period, at any rate, of the French 
wars. Edward II in 131 7 ordered his escheator 
to restore the manors of Toft (Norfolk), Spettis- 
bury (Dorset), Warmington (Warwickshire), and 
Aston (Berksiiire) belonging to the abbot and 
convent of Pr6aux, which had been seized into 
the king's hand on the pretext of the vacancy 
of the abbey, alleging that these were originally 
granted by Robert, earl of Leicester and count of 
Meulan, with the consent of his progenitors, and 
that neither he nor they had been accustomed to 
receive any of the profits on the death of the 
foreign superior."* The abbey seems to have 
placed a monk here at an early date to look after 
the property and conduct divine service, for the 
prior of Spettisbury is included among those 
ecclesiastics who in 1294 received from Edward I 
a grant of protection in return for a contribution 

'" Ca/. Dec. Franc/; III. By 3 subsequent charter 
in the reign of Henry II, Robert count of Meulan 
confirmed to the monks of Preaux all the land be- 
stowed on them in Charlton by the gift of his knight 
Hugh, named the villein {cognomento Villanus) ; ibid. 
1 17-18. Henry II confirmed the grant made to the 
abbey, his charter being inspected and confirmed by 
Edward I. Chart. R. I 3 Edvv. I, m. 2 i , No. 69. 

'" ^oA Norman. (Hardy), 122. 

"" Pope Khh. Tax. (Rcc. Com.), 178, iS+/^. 

'" Pat. 6 Edw. II, pt. I, m. 13. The following 
May the monks, on payment of a fine of 20/., were 
pardoned their trespass in having acquired the above 
premises without obtaining a royal licence. Ibid. pt. 
2, m. 6. 

'"Close, II Edw. II, m. 22. 


to him from their goods and benefices ; '" and 
in 1328 protection for a year was conceded by 
Edward III.'^ Previous, however, to the year 
1324 the foreign superior annexed this manor to 
the priory of Toft in Norfolk, the head house 
of the abbey in England ; and in the capacity 
of proctor to the abbot the prior of Toft pre- 
sented to the rectory of Spettisbury in March, 
1327, the king directing the bishop of Salisbury 
not to institute until it had been ascertained 
whether the late rector, Ralph Moreb, an alien, 
had died before or after 5 February, on which 
date Edward III restored the possessions of alien 
religious men seized during the late king's 

On the seizure of aliens' lands under Edward II 
the issues of the manor of Spettisbury, taken into 
custody as parcel of the temporalities of the prior 
of Toft, 8 October, 1324, and restored to his 
proctor the following 25 February, were valued 
at ^^61 4/. Sd'.'"' On their re-seizure by 
Edward III in 1337 the issues with which the 
sheriff was charged amounted to ^^25 1 7^.'** 
The goods belonging to the rectory, held by a 
Frenchman [Gcil/ictis), were seized at the same 
time and estimated at ^I2 O^ 4(/.'^' They 
were subsequently restored to the foreign incum- 
bent on condition that he should pay the king 
annually a farm of loos}^* 

Towards the end of the century the abbot of 
Preaux was successful in letting his English 
property. Lewis de Clifford obtained a licence 
from the crown, 12 October, 1390, to acquire 
for life, with remainder to his son, the manor of 
Toft with Spettisbury and other possessions of 
the abbey of Preaux, on condition that he should 
pay annually during the continuance of the 
French war the sum of ;^8o to the king's 
exchequer, the payment of this farm being re- 
mitted later in the year.'-' Henry IV, in 1403, 
confirmed a grant of these manors by Lewis de 
Clifford to Thomas Erpingham,'-"^ in whose pos- 
session they remained down to the suppression 
of alien houses by the Parliament of Leicester 
in 1 4 14, after which they were held in trust to 
the use of the said Thomas for the term of his 
life ; '■' and subsequently, with the approval of 
Henry V, made over to the priory of Witham 
(Somerset), the first house of the Carthusian 
order in England.'-' Edward IV, in the first 
year of his reign, confirmed to the Carthusian 

'" Pat. 22 Edw. I, m. 8. 

""Ibid. 2 Edw. Ill, pt. 2, m. 17. 

""'Close, I Edw. Ill, pt. 1, m. 9 ; see also Rymer,. 
Foedera, iv, 246-7. 

"' Mins. Accts. bdle. 1125, No. 7. 

'" Ibid. No. 9. '" Ibid. 

"* Close, I 5 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 6 a". ; 17 Edw. III,, 
pt. 2, m. 27 d. 

'-' Pat. 14 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 21 ; ibid. pt. 2, m. 46. 

"« Ibid. 4 Hen. IV, pt. 2, m. 8. 

'" Ibid. 1 Hen. VI, pt. 4, m. i 5. 

'" Ibid. 7 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. 12. 


house the manors of Spettisbury (Dorset), 
Warmington (Warwickshire), and Aston (Berk- 
shire), lately belonging to the ah'en priory of 
Toft, together with all fees and advowsons per- 
taining to the same.'"' The following February 
(1462) he transferred the possessions of Toft to 
the college of St. Mary and St. Nicholas — now 
King's College — Cambridge,''" with the excep- 
tion of Spettisbury, which remained in the pos- 
session of Witham Priory down to the Dissolu- 
tion, the Falor of 1535"' stating that the 
prior of Witham had rents here amounting to 
;^35 OS. lod., besides the sum of 26j. 81^. as 
the fee of William Frye the steward, and a pen- 
sion of 30J. similar to the one paid to the prior 
of Spettisbury in 129 1. 


An ancient monastery, probably the earliest 
religious foundation in this county, was built 
here in Saxon times, but afterwards destroyed in 
the Danish raid of 876."' Cressy, in his account 
of the assault on Wareham by the Danes in tiiat 
year, describes the house as 'a noble monasterie 
of religious virgins seated in the same town.'"' 

After the Conquest a priory or cell to the 
Norman abbey of Lire, founded by William 
Fitz Osborn, kinsman and marshal to the Con- 
queror,"* was established here in the early part 
of the twelfth century in connexion with the 
churches and lands in Wareham granted to the 
abbey by Robert earl of Leicester. A charter 
in the register of Carisbrooke Priory, the chief 
house of Lire in England, states that Henry II 
confirmed to the abbot and convent among their 
English possessions the church of Wareham with 
its appurtenances, the church of Gussage with 
100s. worth of land, and the church of 
' Rinchorde ' with its appurtenances, the gift 
of Robert earl of Leicester, with a hide of land 
in Wareham the gift of William de Waimura 
or Weymouth ; while by another charter he 
confirmed to the abbey the churches of Ware- 
ham, with a hide of land given by Robert earl 
of Leicester, and an ounce of gold given by 

''" Pat. I Edw. IV, pt. 4, m. 6. 

"° Ibid. pt. 3, m. 23. 

"' Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), i, I 57-8. 

'" Tanner, Notitia, under Dorset, xxix. 

"^ Ch. Hist, of Brit. (1668), lib. xxviii, cap. iv. 
Leland describes this nunnery as situ.ited between the 
two rivers, the ' Frome ' and the Trent or Puddle, but 
it must not be confounded with that other monastery 
near the Frome in Somerset built by Aldhelm and 
included in the bull of Pope Sergius I in 701, grant- 
ing privileges to various monasteries of the bishop's 
foundation, which was probably also destroyed by the 
Danes ; Leland, Collect, ii, 388 ; Birch, Cart. Sax. i, 
152; Tanner, Notitia, under Somerset, xxi. 

"' Dugdale, Mon. vi, 1040. 

William de Waimuta, in the reeveship [prae- 
poiitura) of Wareham."* 

In 1290 the prior successfully petitioned the 
king to grant a licence for Peter Doget, chaplain, 
to alienate to the brethren a messuage and a 
carucate and a half of land in Whiteway ; '"^ and 
in 1329, by a fine of 20/., the prior and convent 
obtained a licence for the alienation in mortmain 
of a messuage and land in Whiteway towards the 
support of a chaplain to celebrate daily in the 
convent church for the souls of all the faithful 

Besides the church of St. Mary, Wareham, of 
which the prior was the rector, the prior held 
the presentation of the churches of St. Martin, 
St. Michael, and St. Peter within the town. In 
1291 the spiritualities amounted to ^,^12 25. 9^/. 
from the churches of Shapwick, Gussage (St. 
Michael), Holy Trinity Wareham, St. Mary 
Wareham, Knowle, Winfrith Newburgh, and 
East Stoke."' The temporalities within Steeple 
and Tyneham, Whiteway, Egliston, Blandford, 
and Wareham, were worth £% os. 8;/."' 

The priory is not mentioned in the general 
seizure of alien cells as the property of Norman 
landowners in 1204, but it occurs on the eve of 
John's death in 1 2 1 6, when the king notified Peter 
de Manley that he had committed the abbey of 
Shaftesbury to the prior of Wareham during a 
vacancy, and that the abbey should remain under 
the king's protection so long as it was in the custody 
of Prior William.'*' An order was subsequently 
issued in November in the first year of Henry III, 
directing the prior to cause the newly-elected 
abbess to have full seisin of all the possessions of 
the abbey.'*' 

Edward III in 1294 granted letters of protec- 
tion to the prior in return for a grant of a contri- 
bution from his goods,'*^ the letters being re- 
newed in March, 1297, for Prior Nicholas 
Bynet.'*' On the seizure of alien property in 
1324, the goods and possessions found in this cell 
by Walter Beril and Roger de Blokkesworthe, 
custodians of religious houses 'of the power and 
dominion of the king of France,' were found on 
inquisition to be worth ^^27 14.S. 6d., of which 
£6 OS. lod. came from the parish of Wareham.'** 
On being taken into the king's hands by 
Edward III in 1337, they were valued at 

'" See Chart, under Carisbrooke, Dugdale, Mon. 
vi, 1 04 1, No. V. 

"' Anct. Pet. 1088 1 ; Pat. 18 Edw. I, m. 18. 

'" Ibid. 3 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 17. 

'■'" Pope Nich. Tax. (Rec. Com.), 178, 178^, 179^. 

'^Mbid. 183-4. 

'*" Close, 18 John, m. 1,2. 

'" Pat. I Hen. Ill, m. 16. 

'*' Pat. 22 Edw. I, m. 8. The prior of Wareham 
was also requested in 1332 10 contribute towards the 
subsidy raised on the marriage of the king's sister ; 
Close, 5 Edw. Ill, pt. I, m. 6a'. 

'" Pat. 25 Edw. I, pt. I, m. 13. 

'" Add. MS. 6164, fol. 282. 

21 l6 


jf39 i6s. 2^y.,"^ and the house was committed 
to the custody of the prior for the payment of 
10/. and an annual farm of 405. at the exchequer.'** 
A year later the prior of Wareham, together with 
the heads of nine other abbeys and priories, was 
ordered to remove to manors nearer the sea, for 
the defence of the coast in view of a threatened 
attack from the enemy.'*' 

Information may be gathered as to the manage- 
ment of the cell in the middle of the fourteenth 
century from a complaint made by Prior Robert 
•de Gascur or Gascourt, soon after his appointment 
in 1354,'*' as to the condition in which he then 
found it. According to the writ of inquiry issued 
the following year, the late Prior William de 
Noys, to whom the custody had been committed, 
had grievously abused his trust ; he had consumed 
and entirely dissipated the goods and chattels of 
the house, had alienated its property, and trans- 
ferred abroad a large sum of money acquired by 
such alienations ; the present head, in conse- 
quence, found he could not get a sufficient living 
for himself and his fellow monks, could neither 
pay the king the annual farm of 40;. or 6 marks, 
nor restore the buildings which his predecessor 
had allowed to get out of repair, and he prayed 
the crown to appoint a remedy.'*' We may 
here state that the episcopal registers record the 
presentation of priors to the ordinary by the 
abbots of Lire, or their proctors the priors of 
Carisbrooke, and their admission after having 
made profession of canonical obedience ; but, as in 
the case of the larger priories of Frampton and 
Loders, no attempt seems to have been made by 
the bishop to exercise jurisdiction. 

Richard II in 1 39 1 committed to Ralph 
Maylok, proctor of the abbot of Lire, the custody 
of all the possessions of the abbey in England, 
with the exception of the three priories of 
Carisbrooke, Wareham, and Hinckley (Leicester- 
shire), for an annual rent of ^\1%. In Novem- 
ber, 1394, the grant was renewed in favour of 
Thomas Wallwayn, Robert de Whytyngton, 
and William Slepe, but revoked the following 
) ear on the petition of the abbot's proctor.'^'' 
An inquisition held at Wareham the Monday 
before Easter, 1387, as to the possessions of 
the priory, stated that these were then worth 
j^io after all deductions and charges had been 
reckoned."' In the last year of his reign, the 
king, at the request of his nephew Thomas duke 
of Sussex, made over to Edmund, prior of Mount 

'" Mins. Accts. bdle. 1 1 25, No. 9. 
'" Close, 2 Edw. Ill, pt. 3, m. 6. 
"' Rymer, Foed. (Rec. Com.), ii (2), 1062. 
"' Sarum Epis. Reg. W)-ville, ii (Inst.), fol. 264. 
'" Hutchins gives a copy of the original of this writ 
■of inquiry ; Hut. of Dorset, i, 87. 
"" Pat. 18 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 7. 
'" Add. MS. 6164, fol. 506. 

Grace in York>hire, the priories of Hinckley, 
Wareham, and Carisbrooke, paying respectively 
a yearly farm of ^^50, ^^4, and no marks, with 
the rest of the English possessions of the abbey, 
the farm of which amounted to 200 marks, for 
as long as the war should last, and quit of all 
payment of yearly rent."^ 

Upon the suppression of alien houses in 141 4, 
Henry V bestowed on the Carthusian priory 
which he had founded at Sheen all the lands 
belonging to the abbey of Lire in England with 
the exception of the Hinckley prior)','^^ the Valor 
of 1535 giving the Surrey foundation temporali- 
ties and spiritualities in this county amounting to 
j{^44 I Ox. 8^. from estates that had formerly 
belonged to the late priory of Wareham.'** 

Priors of Wareham 

Roger, temp. Richard I "' 

William, occurs 12 16'** 

Nicholas Bynet, occurs 1297 '" 

Peter de Deserto, presented 1302 "' 

John Mabere, presented 1309,'*' died 1311 

Hilderic de Pacoys, presented 131 1 "" 

Ralph, called Coudray, presented 1323'" 

William de Bally, presented 1329,'*- resigned 


John de Bediers, presented 1332^*' 
Michael de Molis, presented 1334'** 
William de Barly, presented 1343"^ 

William de Noys, presented 1349, resigned 
1354 166 

Robert de Gascur, or Gascourt, presented 

1354^" . 

Ludovicus de GoulafFe, presented 1362,"^ re- 
signed in same year 

Peter de Ultra Aqua, presented 1362,'*' re- 
signed 1364 

William de Minguet, presented 1364"' 

Stephin de Barra, died 1412"^' 

John Kyngeston, presented 1412"'^ 

Walter Eston, presented 1 41 6 "' 

"■ Pat. 22 Ric. II. pt. 3, m. lo-ii. 

'" Chart. R. 3 & 4 Hen. V, No. 8 ; Pat. 2 Hen. \I, 
pt. 4, m. 26-27. 

'" Valor Eccl. (Rec. Com.), ii, 52. 

'"As witness to a charter (1191-7) of Hawys, 
countess of Gloucester ; Cat. Doc. France, 387. 

"* Close, 18 John, m. I, 2. 

'" Pat. 25 Edw. I, pt. I, m. 13. 

"'' Sarum Epis. Reg. Simon of Ghent. 

"» Ibid, i, fol. 79 d. >«° Ibid. fol. 106 d. 

'*' Ibid. Mortival, i, fol. 114. 

""Ibid. 178 a". 

"^^ Ibid. WpiUe, ii (Inst.), fol. 18. 

'"Ibid. fol. 31. '"Ibid. fol. 131. 

"« Ibid. fol. 264. '" Ibid. 

'«' Ibid. fol. 295. ■" Ibid. fol. 298. 

"" Ibid. fol. 305 d. '•' Ibid. Hallam, fol. 39. 

'" Ibid. 'n Ibid. fol. 59 d. 



DORSET is tripartite, the three sections being feHx, petraea, de- 
serta; clay, chalk, sand; vale, down, heath. ^ Sahent high ground 
stretches between the Axe and the Stour, thrusting to Poole 
Harbour a southern arm, the Chaldon and Purbeck downs, un- 
broken but by the gap of Lulworth. ' Dorset fehx ' is the alluvial fringe of 
this central mass, the valleys of the Stour and Char, and the land drained by 
the Birt and the Wey. The Frome valley, between the main plateau and the 
northern hills, is heathland. Dorchester guards it on the west, Wareham on 
the east, for it is the natural inlet into the heart of the county. 

Such an area is a geographical nucleus, but lacks naturally defined 
boundaries. Its borders will impinge on the adjoining districts. Hence 
Dorset is ever closely connected with Somerset and Wiltshire. But the 
watershed of the Char and the Axe tended to strengthen the fortuitous 
circumstances dividing Devon from the West Saxon kingdom ; while the 
development of Dorset and Hampshire was long differentiated by the 
marshes and heaths of the Avon, geographical features possibly reproduced in 
an old tribal boundary.^ 

Dorset does not, like Hampshire, centre round its main water system. 
Unlike that of the Avon, the lower Frome valley is sterile, and its estuary 
difficult of navigation. The marshy flats running west from Chesil ' cause the 
county to look north, towards the fertile vale of Blackmoor, and to turn its 
back upon the seaboard, even as Weymouth long faced inland, away from the 
bay. Dorchester,* communicating at ease with north and south, east and 
west, is the obvious political centre : Weymouth, called into being for its 
natural harbour,^ and separated from Dorchester only by the Ridgeway, gave 
access to the continent. 

Of the British inhabitants little is known. The Druidic worship of 
the Poxwell temple, and the phallic rites connected with the Cerne giant, 
examples of the two types of British remains, point perhaps to occupation 
by diffisrent tribes (Goidel and Brython), perhaps merely to the Celt and the 
pre-Celtic Iberian of the round and long barrows respectively, ° 

Roman exploratory expeditions were succeeded by Roman colonization, 
but Dorset lay on the western fringe of both movements, and their influence 

'H. M. Moule, in Quart. Rev. 1862. 

'See Guest, The Four IVays, Be/gic Ditches ; Early Engl. Settlements ; Warne and Smart, Ancient Dorset; 
Warne, Map of Ancient Dorset ; Camden, Britannia (ed. Gibson, 1722), i, 51 ; Hubbard, Early Man on the 
Diwns ; Neolithic Dewponds and Cattleivays. 

^ Middendorf, Altenglische Flurnamen (WUrzburg, 1900), i, 27. 

* For the origin of the names Dorset and Dorchester, see Guest, Orig. Celt, i, 46, 372 ; Freeman, Norm. 
Conq. i, 49, 571. 

' It would seem that Weymouth was always the sea-station for Dorchester ; Warne, Celtic TumuR 
of Dorset, 1,2. 

° See Rhys and Brynmor-Jones, Welsh People, map, p. 75 (ed. 1902) ; see also p. 83 ; Seebohm, Tribal 
Custom in Anglo-Saxon Law, 397 (ed. 1 902) ; Willls-Bund, Celtic Church in Wales, 12. 



lacked intensity. No Dorset town received the higher municipal franchise ; 
while the villa-remains end at Lyme Regis.^ 

The long prevailing view of the West Saxon conquest was that, after 
their first settlement round the Solent, the Gewissas received a check at 
Badbury,^ that the thick forests then covering the present Dorset caused a check 
in their incursions, and led ultimately to the conquest of the Selwood by way 
of Wiltshire and Somerset, and not by sea. This conquest is said to have 
been very gradual, and to have taken place by distinct stages, between the 
conquest of Old Sarum,^ and the beginning of the eighth century. The 
victory of Deorham (577) threw open the Severn valley, and the invaders, 
(forced back upon the territories in their rear, by the insurrection of the 
Hwiccas, and loss of the Severn valley and the Cotswolds), poured thence 
over Mendip.* Cenwalh's victory in 658 ' aet Peonnum ' is placed at 
Poyntington, near Sherborne, and called an incident in the attempted pene- 
tration of the forest barrier.' Under Ine and his saintly kinsman Aldhelm,' 
Christianity and education went hand in hand with military conquest, the new 
frontier-fortress of Taunton ^ precluding help for the Selwood Britons from 
their hard-pressed kinsmen of Dyvnaint. At the same time the foundation 
of the West Saxon monastery at Wareham * shows attempts at subjugation and 
colonization by way of the north-east. 

Objections to this circumstantial reconstruction are fourfold. It is con- 
tended that the use of documents is uncritical, that the arguments from 
philology are faulty, and from archaeology untrustworthy.' Also it is said 
that Dorset has been planted with ' great stretches of woodland ' on the basis 
solely of twelfth-century forest perambulations, and to suit the necessities of 
a preconceived theory. It is true that we have no good evidence of the extent 
of land under trees in the sixth and seventh centuries. But the assumption, 
though based on inadmissible evidence, would seem not unreasonable. 
Physical conditions would render very probable the presence of trees in great 
numbers. Even at the present day the area under trees is 37,600 acres, out 
of a total acreage of only 625,578. The clay districts, amounting roughly to 
nearly half the county, naturally favour the growth of trees, and the chalk 
uplands ^° show a wide distribution of superficial gravels, particularly along 
the borders of the vale of Blackmoor, on the chalk hills along the Piddle, at 
Durweston (where the chalk abuts on the Stour valley), on the chalk between 
Blandford and Dorchester, and at Dewlish.^' They also cover many even of 

' See Smart, InltoJ. to Primaeval Ethnology of Dorset ; Warne, Ancient Dorset ; Sussex Arch. Coll. xxxiv, 239, 
sqq. ; F. J. Haverfield, ' Romanization of Roman Britain ' (Proc. Brit. Acad.), ii, 8. 

' Gildas, Hisi. Sec. ; Bede, Ecc/. Hist. (ed. Plummer) ; Notes and Queries for Som. and Dors, i, 43 ; Notes 
and Queries (6th Ser.), xii, 461 ; (7th Sen), iv, 208, 372. 

'An. 552. Angl.-Sax. Ckron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 17. 

*J. R. Green, Making of Engl. 129, 339 ; Guest, in Arch. foum. xvi, 109-17. 

' Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 24, 26 ; T. Kerslake, ' The Welsh in Dorset ' {^Proc. Dors. Field 
Club), iii, 81. 

* Bede, op. cit. (ed. Plummer), ii, 308, note. 

^Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 39 ; Freeman, in Som. Arch. foum. xx, 31, xviii, 37. 

'Dugdale, Mon. vi, pt. iii, 1617 ; see Freeman, Engl. Totvns and Dists. 151. 

'W. H. Stevenson in Engl. Hist. Rev. 1902, p. 625 sqq. 

'° Geol. Sirv. Maps, ii, plate ; and ibid. Memoirs, 'Cretaceous Rocks,' i, 144-91. 

"Analysis of Dorset soils, from Stevenson's Agricultural Report: Chalk, 160,759 acres ; sand, 8;, I 57 ; 
loam, 37,746; gravel, 59,894; cornbrash, 29,700 ; clay, 117,331 ; miscellaneous, 13,427 acres. Damon, 
Geology of Weymouth (ed. 1884), 137. 


the highest levels in the county.^ As regards physical conditions there is 
thus no reason why Dorset should not have been one of the most thickly 
wooded of the southern counties. The theory of the main inhabited tracts, 
before the Saxon conquest, being the ' natural clearings ' of the chalk 
outcrop ' receives confirmation from the fact that Celtic village-remains follow 
to a large extent the lines of ungravelled down/ Geography makes reasonable, 
on this supposition, the West Saxon advance from the north. The very 
places said to have been chosen for incursion upon the forest area are the 
intrusions of the chalk upon the surrounding clay, that is, of the natural 
clearings, upon the woodland. And it is that southern shore, supposed so 
long to have defied the Saxons, which exhibits a clay outcrop along the 
greater part of its margin, and which has a heavier rainfall and a higher 
mean temperature than the north of the county. To this day landing-places 
between Weymouth and Lulworth, and Lulworth and Swanage, are few and 
difficult ; the chalk cliffs come in many places sheer down to the sea, and the 
shore is fringed with reefs and ledges. Such an inhospitable coast-line, 
flanked by a range of hills all but continuous and averaging 500 ft. in height, 
was unlikely to tempt, till earlier conquests had been exhausted. 

Whether the generally accepted story is correct or not, of the main 
issues there can be no doubt. The Saxon conquest took place at a suffi- 
ciently late period, when either Christianity, or the satiation of the need of 
land and of plunder, or both forces acting together, prevented the exter- 
mination or expulsion of the earlier inhabitants. Proofs of this are 
both direct and inferential. No such close analysis of the Dorset dialect 
has been undertaken as would reveal the percentage of pre-Saxon words 
yet in use.* But the laws of Ine make it plain that an appreciable 
British population remained side by side with the later Saxon settlers.' The 
' Ordinance Respecting the Dun-Saetas ' is conclusive, and could only have 
been necessitated by the presence of such a population in large numbers in 
Dorset.' How large a proportion that was, is shown by anthropological 
evidence. The Welsh physical type is, and it would seem has always been, 
dark and tall.'' Giraldus contrasts his countrymen, in their ' brunetness,' 
with the fair-complexioned Saxons.* The relative brunetness of Dorset 
( I o per cent, excess brunet over blond) is even now greater than that of Somerset 
and Wiltshire (5 per cent, brunet excess), and much greater than that of 
Hampshire. It is in fact as high as Cornwall,' and this in spite of the 
fact that in elevated districts some factor tends to increase blondness.^" The 
average Dorset stature is the same as that of Devon, whereas the averages 

' Hutchins, Hist. Dorset (ed. 3), i, Ixxxvi ; Mansel-Pleydell, Botany of Dorset ; H. Rider Haggard, 
Rural Engl. 1,257 and map. 

'J. R. Green, op. cit. 8-9. 

' Warne, Map of Anct. Dorset ; Pitt-Rivers, Excavations in Cranborne Chase, etc. 1887-98. 

* Prior, 'Introduction to a Som. Glossary' {Som. Arch. Soc. Proc. xviii). 

'Thorpe, Laws and Institutes (Rec. Com.), 45, 51, 53, 57, 60; see also Seebohm, Tribal Custom in 
Jngl.-Sax. Law, 402-4 ; W. H. Stevenson, Life of Asser, 36, 37, 249 ; and Proc. Dors. Field Club, iii, 
80, sqq., for a further philological argument, and for the argument from church invocations. A theory put 
forward by Sir H. Howarth {Engl. Hist. Rev. 1898, p. 670) was answered ibid. 1899, p. 32, sqq. 

'Thorpe, op. cit. I 50 ; see also T. Kerslaice, op. cit. ; Lappenberg, Engl, under the Angl.-Sax. Kings, \, 1 20. 

'J. Loth, V Emigration bretonne en Armorijue, xix ; Reclus, Geographie universelle, II, viii, 612, is 
here incorrect. 

'Giraldus Cambrensis, Opera (Rolls Ser.), vi, 193. 

» W. Z. Ripley, Races of Europe, 318. '° Ibid. 7 5 . 


for Somerset and Wiltshire are lower.^ But such evidence as can be safely- 
drawn from place-names does not give much support to the theory of a 
widespread and persisting Celtic remnant.* 

Typical house-grouping is regarded as a constant race-characteristic,' 
nucleated villages being considered Germanic in their origin, while ' in the 
land of hamlets and scattered steads ' Celtic communities are traced. The 
accompanying map shows the disposition of nucleated and hamleted tenements. 

The later hidation may also show Celtic influence still surviving, the 
relation between the hides and team-lands of Domesday being the basis of 
calculation. ' Where the Saxon was thick on the ground, the hides were 
more,' * for the Saxon is the better agriculturist, and can make a smaller area 
support himself and his family, and pay Danegeld as well." The ratio of team- 
lands to hides changes gradually throughout southern England, rising steadily 
towards the west. It has been held to correspond to the waves of Saxon 
conquest, ' in each successive conquest the hides are fewer.' In the West 
Dorset hundreds of Whitchurch and Beaminster there are 249 team-lands 
to 200 hides, or 1-25 per hide. The county average is practically one to one.* 
This would seem to show a fair clearance of Welsh in West Dorset ; and 
their survival in the east of the county goes to support the traditional view of 
the conquest of Dorset, not by sea, by way of the Frome valley, but by 
land, west before east, by way of Somerset and the vale of Blackmoor. 

Once conquered, the speedy political absorption of Dorset in Wessex 
had been assured by the division of the West Saxon diocese and erection of a 
bishop's stool at Sherborne.^ But far more influential in removing any 
remnants of old ' folk ' feeling, as opposed to sentiment already semi-national, 
were the invasions of the Danes. These, both by chronology and by char- 
acter, fall into two distinct groups — those of the ninth century which were 
mere plunder-raids (though not less dreaded on that account), and those of the 
later tenth and early eleventh centuries. The eff^ect of these was political 
suzerainty, involving even in Wessex supersession of the old aristocracy, and 
in the non-noble classes admixture of blood. Both series of descents were 
made coastwise, thus differing materially, in method and conduct, from 
previous invasions. Unlike the Romans, whose normal method was to seize 
a point of coast and overrun the country thence with land forces, the Danes, 
attacked all round the coast, their superior seamanship enabling them to. 
make use of landing-places hitherto impracticable, such as Ringstead, Arish- 
mill and Portland.^ The civilization of the West Saxons, and consequent 
abundance of provisions and value of booty, both facilitated and encouraged 
attacks from many points, and by many different war-bands. 

Resistance was of a nature calculated to be ultimately successful. Naval 
battles were frequent. Ethelwulf was defeated (840) off Charmouth, but in 

' W. Z. Ripley, Races of Europe, 327. ^Taylor, JVords an J Places ; Proc. Anthrop. Inst. (1885), 66. 

• Maitland, Dom. Bk. and Beyond, 222, 15 ; Meitzen, Siedelung u. Agraruesen der Germanen, ii, 119 ;, 
Enqulte sur ks Conditions de P habitation en France. ' Les Maisons Types.' Paris, 1894, pp. 9-18 ; Cotta, 
Deutschland's Boden ... a. dessen Eintviriung (Leipzig, 1858), ii, 63, 599 ; W. Z. Ripley, Races 0/ Europe, 
8, 9, 10 ; J. Loth, Uemigration bretonne, 104, 1 18, 599. 

* F. Baring in Engl. Hist. Rev. 1899, p. 297. ' Maitland, op. cit. 436-43. 
° Eyton : hides, 2,321 ; team-lands, 2,332. Pearson : hides, 2,277 ; carucates, 2,303. 

^ Angl.-Sax. Chron. i, 68-9 ; ii, 38 ; Wm. of Malmesbury, Gesta Pontif. (Rolls Ser.), 175 ; Haddan,. 
Counc. and Docts. iii, 276 ; W. H. Jones, Episcopate in Dorset and U'ills. 

' See Warne's Map oj Ancient Dorset ; Jng/.-Sax. Chron. i, 118 ; Hutchins, Hist. Dors, ii, 813. 



875 Alfred, putting out most probably from Wareham, 'fought against the 
crews of seven ships and took one of them and put the rest to flight.' ^ The 
land resistance was as thorough and better organized. The alderman ' and the 
bishop are generally found leading the fyrd of the county. Somerset and 
Dorset frequently, and Wiltshire sometimes, join forces — an anticipation 
of their shrieval ties at a later period. In 845 the men of Somerset and 
Dorset, with their respective aldermen, Eanulf and Osric, and with the 
bishop of Sherborne, Ealhstan,' defeated the Danes at the mouth of the Parret. 
But such pitched battles, however successful, did not stem the tide of invasion. 
Occupations of Wareham, and spoliation of the country thence, were only too 
frequent.* But the victories of Merton (871) and Ethandun (876), in both 
of which the men of Dorset took their share, marked the end of Danish 
attacks for the time being. 

The interval between the two series of descents was marked by con- 
structive measures, constitutional and military. The military reorganization 
comes first in point of time, since it is associated with the name of Edward the 
Elder. But it cannot in reality be dissociated from the constitutional remodel- 
ling which went on, perhaps on a large scale, under Edwy and Edgar, to be 
continued and finally shaped by Cnut. To this period of peace and recon- 
struction belongs the development of the systems of boroughs and of earldoms. 
So far as Wessex is concerned, Dorset holds a position somewhat apart. 
While it was no part of the nucleus of the West Saxon kingdom, and thus 
included only a moderate portion of royal demesne,'' yet, being not only 
peculiarly open to attack by sea, but also the gate of the state, special pre- 
cautions were taken for its defence. From this period probably dates the 
Burghal Hidage,^ representing a scheme of West Saxon defence, in which 
figure the Dorset boroughs of Shaftesbury, Wareham, and ' Brydian.' ^ The 
names of thirty-one burhs (twenty-seven assessments only) are given. They 
are divided among thirteen counties. Dorset is thus more than ordinarily 
well provided for. But more important than the number of burhs to a 
county is the number of supporting hides assessed to each. Of these Shaftes- 
bury has 700, Wareham 1,600,^ and 'Brydian' 1,760, the latter being only 
exceeded by Bath and three joint assessments. Of these fortified places, 
where trade was already no doubt beginning,' the importance of Shaftesbury 
and Wareham is obvious. A mint was one of the privileges of a borough. 
The Laws of Athelstan record two moneyers at Shaftesbury and two at Ware- 
ham.^" But it is to be noticed that the ' monetarii ' of Domesday occur not 
only at these two places, but also at Dorchester and Bridport, the two latter 
having, in the interval, attained to borough rank. But ' Brydian ' has been 
identified with Bredy, rather than with Bridport, on the ground, apparently, 

' Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 120, 144. 

' H. M. Chadwick, Studies on Angl.-^ax. Institutions, 161, 169. 

' Angl.-5ax. Chron. i, 132. Heahmund 8th bishop, and Waerstan 14th bishop (see Napier and Steven- 
son, Anecdota Oxoniensia, 108, note 14) also died in action against the Danes. Heahmund, bishop, was 
killed at the battle of Merton (871). Angl.-Sax. Chron. i, 140-141. 

* Angl.-Sax. Chron. i, 146, 145 (bis). ' Maitland, Dom. Bk. and Beyond, 367, 498. 

* Ibid. 504. 

' The document is printed in Maitland, Dom. Bk. and Beyond, 502 ; Birch, Cart. Sax. iii, 671 ; Lie- 
bermann. Leges Anghrum, 9, 10. See also ?«<:. Soc. Antiq. xxxiv, 267, 268, for the further distinction between 
castles, forts, and burhs. 

* Wareham was fortified at any rate by 876. Asset's Life of Alfred (ed. W. H. Stevenson), 36, 37. 
' Maitland, op. cit. 212, sqq. '° Thorpe, Laws and Institutes, 514. 



that Little Bredy contains a ' King's Tun ' (Kingston Russell).^ It was, if so, 
important as guarding the one gap in the downs which connects south-east 
with south-west Dorset. This had been followed by the Roman road from 
Old Sarum through Dorchester to Exeter, and was rendered still more 
important through the necessity of rounding, in the alternative sea route, the 
dangerous Portland Bill. 

Constitutional reorganization was more tentative and uncertain than that 
of the defensive system. Fluctuation in ideas as to the status of the alderman 
is a marked characteristic of this period. The alderman (the Danish word 
earl was only just beginning to be used) is sometimes military leader of the 
individual county, sometimes political head oi a group of counties, possessed 
of powers only not royal. Both experiments were tried, and it would seem 
that Dorset had sometimes an earl of its own,^ while more than once it was a 
member of the great south-western group of shires.' 

Want of political stability in Wessex no doubt contributed to Danish 
successes. In 982 Portland was ravaged by ' three ships of vikings,' * and six 
years later the Danish army ' again wended eastward into the mouth of the 
Frome, and everywhere they went up as far as they would into Dorset ; 
and a great force was often gathered together against them, but as soon as 
they came together, then was there ever through something flight deter- 
mined on, and in the end they ever had the victory.' ^ It is probable that 
the growing sense of religion in public feeling had been thoroughly outraged 
by the murder of Edward ' the Martyr ' in 978,* The solemn splendour of 
the translation of his body by Dunstan and the alderman Alfliere,^ from 
Wareham to Shaftesbury,* and the fresh charters granted to Sherborne Abbey* 
do but express the spirit of ecclesiasticism then dominant in Dorset, and 
unlikely to succeed against the determined attacks of a virile nation. 

It is to Domesday Book that we look to trace the process of substitution 
of a Norman for the Anglo-Danish land-holding class. Incidentally we may 
hope for further evidence upon uncertain happenings. To deal first with the 
latter question. It is stated that ' the Dorset towns ' joined ' the Western 
Rebellion ' of 1068, and that William, on his way to dispose of the Exeter 
resistance, delayed to make an example of Dorset.'" The rebellion is said to 
have been engineered by Gytha and the sons of Harold by Edith Swanneck, 
who certainly were old enough, in 1069, to gather an Irish fleet and ravage 
the Devon coast." The territorial influence of Harold himself in Dorset 
was inconsiderable for an English king in a county which later possessed so- 
much royal demesne. That of his family, considering the notorious rapacity 
of the house of Godwin, was small. If Dorset was, indeed, concerned in 
the rising, and received its punishment accordingly, we should expect to find 
either a widespread desolation throughout the county, as in the north, or else 

' Maidand, op. cit. 502, note ; Kemble, CoJ. Dipl. iii, 224-5, ^°- 636. 

' Edgar, Laws (Rec. Com.), iii, 5 ; Cnut, Laws (Rec. Com.), ii, 18, ^nct. Laws and Inst. 165. 

' H. M. Chadwick, Studies on Jng/.-Sax. Institutions, 168-80. 

• Jngl.-Sax. Chron. i, 236. ' Ibid. 247-8. 

° Ibid, i, 234. Henry of Huntingdon, Hist. Angl. (Rolls Ser.), 167. 

'His festival was kept four times a year, Wynkyn de Worde, The Martirhge, 1526, who claims to 
follow Sarum use. 

' Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 234 ; Jnn. Jf'ig. ii, 13. ' Jnn. Theokcsb. (Rolls Ser.), i, 183. 

'" Freeman, liorm. Conq. iv, 1 5 I, and Exeter (Hist. Towns Ser.), 36 ; Palgrave, Engl, and Normandy,. 
iii, 345. " Diet. Nat. Biog. xxiv, 425. 



a line of wasted manors along William's route to Exeter. The Worcester 
chronicler says, ' he harried all the land he overran.' ^ The traces of a 
conquering army, supported by the lands it traverses, will hardly be obliter- 
ated after twenty years, even though a January campaign will not cause the 
same damage as one undertaken in spring or early summer. But a map of 
the decreased or increased values of manors in 1087, as compared with the 
T.R.E. period, is barren of geographical results. Depreciation here evidently 
depended upon individual circumstances. Thus the lands of the widow of 
Hugh FitzGrip (' Hugh of Wareham ' first Norman sheriff) have fallen in 
value in most cases. No doubt the woman could not manage them as advan- 
tageously as her husband. It is, however, only fair to add that though Hugh 
had ' reft unjustly ' one hide of the manor of Abbotsbury from the monks of 
that foundation, his wife ' since detained six unjustly.' ^ The lands of the 
church have very generally doubled and even trebled in value,* probably in 
consequence of a more progressive agriculture and an increase in applied 
capital, both due to a new personnel. Exceptions tending to prove the rule 
are the lands of St. Mary of Glastonbury and of Bishop Odo of Bayeux. 
Against the former William had ever a grudge, and he seized 4 hides in 
Bagbere, part of the manor of Sturminster Newton, belonging to this monas- 
tery, and gave them to his cook Goscelin. The Bishop of Bayeux was under 
forfeiture at the date of the survey.* 

Far otherwise was it with the Dorset boroughs.^ Dorchester, Bridport, 
Shaftesbury, and Wareham suffered heavily, on the authority of Domesday 
itself. Wareham illustrates the ' tenurial heterogeneity ' of the typical old 
English borough. 

T.R.E. there were 143 houses of the king's, now there are only 70 houses, 73 are 
waste. The Abbey of Fontanelle (the Norman house, S. Wandragesil) had 62 houses, 
45 remain and 1 7 are waste. Other holders had 80 houses, of which 20 still remain, and 
60 are destroyed.* 

It is this destruction of town houses which has given rise to the story of the 
participation of the Dorset towns in ' the Civic League.' 

But there are at least two other causes which would account for such 
house destruction at that date. One such was castle-building, and the 
necessity for an open space around the castle to prevent fire or the use of 
adjacent houses by a hostile body of troops.^ But Bridport certainly and 
Shaftesbury probably did not so early possess Norman castles ; and though it 
has been claimed, but without certainty, that Dorchester Castle dates from 
this time,* the case of Wareham is beset with difficulties. The ' castellum de 
Warham ' surveyed under Kingston ^ is undoubtedly Corfe,^" and yet the wars 
of Stephen and Matilda and the Pipe Rolls of John " show the presence of a 
castle at Wareham likewise, which may or may not have been built by 

' Angl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Sen), i, 340. 

' Dom. Bk. (Rec. Com.), i, 78. Hugh also took a virgate at Portisham from Abbotsbury Abbey, and the 
manor of Tatton from the Abbey of Cerne. 

' Dugdale, Mon. Angl. (cd. 18 17), ii, 472. 

* His manor of Rampisham T.R.E. was worth ^^lo ; T.R.W. only [fi ; Dom. Bk. i, 77. 

' Round, Feudal Engl. 436, 437. ° Dom. Bk. \, 75. 

' Engl. Hist. Rev. xx, 7 1 o. 

' Hutchins, op. cit. ii, 365. It only certainly existed in 1 176. Pipe R. 22 Hen. II, m. 9 J. 

' Dom. Bk. i, 78. '" Eyton, Key to Dorset Dom. 43, iii, n. 2. ; Round, Feudal Engl. 339. 

" Pipe Rolls, 6, 8, 9, 10 John, under ' Honour of Gloucester.' 

2 129 ^7 


William. It has been pointed out that there is a priori likelihood that 
William would not leave this important post, which was also a royal fortified 
borough, without a castle. It seems more likely that the confusion between 
Corfe and Wareham is a slip in Domesday Book rather than that the castle of 
Corfe was known as Wareham for a long period. The solitary Pipe Roll of 
Henry I mentions the castle of Wareham, and in i io6 Henry had imprisoned 
Robert of Belesme there.^ 

Domesday itself, however, tells us that the destruction of houses in 
Dorchester, Shaftesbury, and Wareham dates 'a tempore Hugonis vicecomitis,' 
the Wareham entry ' further describing it as continuing usque nunc. This 
clearly points to the exactions of the Norman sheriffs, for Aiulf would appear 
to have followed Hugh's example. Of Lincoln, Domesday expressly states 
that seventy-four houses ' which are waste within the limits of the castle are 
not so as the result of the oppression of the sheriff or his servants, but by 
misfortune, poverty, or fire,' ' thus plainly showing the frequency of shrieval 
exactions. None of the Dorset towns had been able to contract with 
William to hold their liberties by a fee-farm rent. It has been seen that 
Hugh was an unscrupulous and avaricious man. His exactions would not 
improbably do much towards bringing these towns to destitution, since, 
unlike many country manors, they were without the protection of powerful 
owners, able to look after their interests.* 

In the process of substitution of a Norman for an Anglo-Danish land- 
holding class, Dorset, though eventually thoroughly Normanized, suffered 
a less violent convulsion than some of the eastern or midland counties. 
Normanizing tendencies had been actively at work during the reign of the 
Confessor. Certain geographical and personal causes tended to counter- 
balance the Godwin national party. The harbour of Wareham was more 
frequented than any port in southern England. This ensured the constant 
passage through the shire of Normans going to and from Winchester and 
Westminster. King Edward himself had held in demesne more than a fifth 
of the county, and his preferences are undoubted. Emma his mother had 
held Wyke, Elwell, and Weymouth.' His sister. Countess Goda, married 
successively to Drogo count of the Vexin, Walter count of Mantes, and 
Eustace count of Boulogne, had held lands in Melcombe and Tarrant 
Hinton. After the death by poison of her son Walter, King Edward was 
her rightful heir. Brictric, Matilda's English lover, had lands in Ashmore, 
Boveridge, Mappowder, Loders, Affrington, Tyneham, and Tarrant Gunville. 
Further, even had the Godwin territorial influence been greater than was 
actually the case, the ravages of Godwin at Portland in 1052, during his 
outlawry,* must have earned him local ill-will. Even before the Conquest 
large tracts of land were in the hands of the Church, and her sons would be 
scandalized at the behaviour of Tostig, but still more indignant at the 
exactions of Harold. In the absence of danger from Welsh or other 
foes Harold did not become a hero in common eyes. He took from 
St. Mary of Shaftesbury the fat manor of Sture (East and West Stour) 

' Ann. Marg. Wlnt. and Waverl. (Rolls Ser.), i, 10 ; ii, 42, 44, 2 1 5. 
^ Dom.Bk.\,-]%. 'Ibid. 33iJ. 

' See also Eyton, Dor:et Dom. 72 ; EngL Hist. Rev. xx, 703-11, and ibid. 1902, pp. 296, 297 ; ibid. 
25, sqq. 

' Hutchins, Dorset, ii, 814. ' Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Ser.), i, 319. 



worth £S, and Cheselbourne, worth >Ci6/ and from a certain priest 2 hides 
in Ilsington, valued at 20s. It must, however, be remembered that 

such charges were almost matters of course after his death, for all churchmen whose 
lands had come into his hands, whether rightly or wrongly, would naturally try to get 
them back, and the Normans would put the worst construction on all his actions.^ 

This body of public opinion must have assisted the feudal tendencies already 
at work, the greater since the proportion of Danes among the holders of 
land T.R.E. was small. Of ninety-eight names of those holding T.R.E. only 
seven are pure Danish, though others with West Saxon names may possibly, 
like Gytha herself, have had a Danish descent. Of the twenty who, holding 
before 1066, were still holding in 1087, only two have Danish names. 

The Conquest undoubtedly accelerated the concentration of estates in a 
small number of hands. The Dorset tenants m capite, at the date of the 
survey, were 146.' To the king, either in demesne or by escheat, belonged 
in 1087 rather more than one-seventh of the county; to the greater feuda- 
tories taken conjointly rather more than one-third ; to the lesser feudatories, 
king's thegns, king's Serjeants, the four boroughs and a few unclassified land- 
holders, about one-ninth. The various ecclesiastical persons and bodies, 
headed by the bishop of Salisbury, held little short of a third.* 

This was the great era of castle-building.' William had obtained the 
land for his ' castellum de Warham ' by exchange with the abbess of Shaftes- 
bury for the advowson of Gillingham. It is now generally held that this 
castle, referred to in Domesday,* is Corfe. It was almost certainly not only a 
new building, but new on that site. For if ' the religious woman Alfthrith ' 
to whom Edred granted Purbeck^ was indeed abbess of St. Edward,^ the 
abbey at Shaftesbury would seem to have held this land since 948. It is not 
easy to account for Elfrida's palace at Corfe,'* for Edgar's grant to his queen 
was at Buckland.^" The chronicle states that Edward was killed at ' Corf- 
geat,' ^' which may possibly have been Coryates ; a charter of Canute to 
Abbotsbury mentions ' Corfgeat ' near Portisham.^^ There is also a Corfe, 
anciently a member of the manor of West Milton, now a hamlet in the parish 
of Powerstock.'^ Camden thought there was a Saxon castle at Corfe, and that 
it must have been built after 941,'* citing an inquisition of the time of 
Henry III ' before the building of the castle of Corfe, the abbess and nuns of 
S. Edward at Shasten had the wreck of the sea within their manor of 
Kingston.' He gives 941 as the date of the foundation of this abbey by 
Edmund, but Dugdale considers it to have been founded, perhaps by Alfred, 
at any rate before 900." Research goes to show that there was no castle at 
Corfe before the Conquest.'* 

' Dom. Bk. i, 78. ' Article ' Harold,' in Diet. Nat. Biog. xxiv, 418. 

' Ellis,/n/;W. to Dom. ii, 438. * See Eyton, op. cit. i 56. 

' G. T. Clarke, Mediaeval Milit. Anhit. i, 23. 

* Dom. Bk. \, 78, b. 2. See also Testa de Nevill (Rcc. Com.), 164^. 

' Birch, Cartul. Sax. iii, 12, No. 868. * Dugdale, Mon. Angl. ii, 473. 

' Sec Bond, Corfe Castle, 9. '° Birch, Cartul. Sa.v. iii, 436, No. 1 177. 

" Jngl.-Sax. Chron. (Rolls Set.), i, 232-3. " Mon. Angl. ii, 55, charter ii. 

" Hutchins, Dorset, ii, 319. '* Camden, Britannia (ed. Gibson, 1 721), i, 57. 

" Mon. Angl. ii, 47 1 . 

'° Round, in Archaeologia, LVIII, i, 313 sqq. and Quart. Rev. July, 1894 ; Mrs. Armitage, in Engl. Hist. 
Rev. 1904, pp. 227, 450, and I905,p.7ii ; and in Proc. of Scottish Antij.-nyixvr, lij . See also Round, Geoffrey 
de Mandeville, 328 ; Arfh. Journ. Ix, and Antij. xiii, 241. 


The remaining Dorset castles present almost equal difficulties. 
Gervase, in the Mappa Mundi (about whose date, unhappily, there is some 
obscurity),^ mentions Corfe, Sherborne, and Dorchester. But Lul worth and 
possibly Cerne are mentioned in 1139 and 1142.^ Bow and Arrow Castle, 
Portland, is said to have been built by Rufus.' At any rate, Portland had a 
castle in 11 42.* There are also earthworks of the motte-and-bailey type at 
Sturminster Newton, Shaftesbury, Chelborough, and Powerstock.^ Power- 
stock was held, at the date of Domesday, by Roger Arundel, but may possibly 
have been fortified by John, into whose hands it came by exchange with 
Robert of Newburgh (to whom it had come from the Arundels) for a 
Somerset manor. ^ It is probable that some of these are among the adulterine 
castles of the reign of Stephen. 

Situated on the line of the empress's communications between her English 
strongholds of Bristol, Oxford, and Devizes, and her continental base, the 
Dorset castles became important factors in the civil war, which shared 
with other mediaeval wars the characteristic features of absence of pitched 
battles and importance of castles. It is impossible to ascertain the sentiment 
of the county in the struggle between king and empress, for public feeling 
was both dominated and voiced by the great land-holders alone. Of these 
Robert of Gloucester, the empress's half-brother, stands above all others. His 
Dorset lands, part of the honour of Gloucester, came to him with his 
wife Mabel, daughter of Robert FitzHamon, who himself had married Sybil, 
daughter of Roger of Montgomery, and sister of Robert of Belesme, who 
suffered perpetual imprisonment in Wareham Castle. To FitzHamon Rufus, 
probably about 1090,^ had given the inheritance called of Gloucester, which 
had originally been held by the Saxon Brictric, then by William's Queen 
Matilda, and which on her death had reverted to the crown. It included 
many Dorset manors.* Among the empress's men were also Baldwin of 
Redvers, and William of Mohun. Baldwin descended from the ' francus ' 
who in Domesday Book held three and a half hides in Mosterton in South 
Perrot, and not from the ' Baldwinus Vicecomes ' or Baldwin of Moeles, 
sheriff of Devon, and constable of Rougemont Castle, Exeter. William of 
Mohun was lord of Dunster.^ The Mohun holding in Dorset included 
lands in Todber, Spettisbury, Winterborne Houghton, Hammoon, Chalbury, 
Iwerne Courtney, Broadwinsor, and Mapperton in Aimer.'" Robert of 
Bampton (co. Devon), who was in rebellion against Stephen," had succeeded, 
by the female line, to the Domesday fief of Walter of Douai, which 
included lands in Winterborne Clenston and Purse Caundle. William de 
Cahaignes, who made the king prisoner at the battle of Lincoln (1141), had 

' Stubbs places it about 1 199, Intnd. to Gervase (Rolls Ser.), i, p. xxix. 

' Will. Malms. Hist. Novella (Rolls Ser.), ii, 557, 59+. 595 ; Gesta Stephani (Rolls Sen), iii, 58. The 
latter, however, is quite as likely to be Cerney, near Cirencester. See Ramsay, Found, of Engl, ii, 388. 

» Hutchins, Dorset, ii, 816. * Will. Malms, op. cit. ii, 595. 

' Information supplied by Mrs. Armitage. See also Hutchins, op. cit. iv, 336, 339 ; ii, 655, 318 ; 
Coker, Surv. of Dors. 100. 

« Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 97. ' Ord. Vit. Hist. Eccl. iii, 350. 

' See Round in Genealogist (New Ser.), iv, 129-40. Hutchins, op. cit. iii, 369, and 375, 376 follows 
Dugdale about the three FitzHamon heiresses, one of whom, he says, was abbess of Shaftesbury. But see the 
art. ' Fitzhamon,' in Diet. Nat. Biog. 

° See H. Maxwell Lyte, Dunster and its Lords, 2, 3. 

«° Dom. Bk. i, 82. " Round, Feud. Engl. 486 ; Engl. Hist. Rev. v, 746. 



obtained in maritagio Tarrant Keynston and Coombe Keynes, with his wife 
Alice, daughter of Hugh Maminot, the nephew and heir of Gilbert 
Maminot bishop of Lisieux. The bishop's Dorset holding was a lay fief, 
i.e. descended to his secular heir.^ William of Saint Clare ' was, at least 
in 1 140, on Stephen's side, for he witnesses the first charter to Geoffrey de 
Mandeville.' The castle of ' Cernei ' built by Miles of Gloucester,* as has i 
been said, may have been Cerne (co. Dorset), or Cerney. Some of the 
abbot's tenants in the vill of Cerne however owed duty of castle-ward at 
Corfe Castle,^ not at Cerne. 

Robert of Gloucester in 11 37, after the Exeter rebellion of Baldwin of 
Redvers, fortified Wimborne, Corfe, Dorchester and Wareham against 
Stephen," probably encouraged by the king's absence in Normandy. When 
he returned, at the end of that year, Stephen most probably landed in 
Dorset.'' The following year, probably during the campaign in Somerset, 
he took Wareham, making Robert de Nicole castellan.^ Robert of Gloucester 
recaptured it in 1138.' Baldwin of Redvers, in August, 1139, landed there 
with an advance army.^° He was now the empress's devoted adherent. 
Stephen hurried down to cut him off, but he threw himself into Corfe 
Castle, where the king laid siege to him ; but hearing of the approach of 
the empress and Earl Robert, who had by this time landed in Sussex and 
were making for Bristol, he raised the siege." On his way back Stephen 
besieged and took ' Cernei ' castle, which Earl Robert however garrisoned 
again the following year." 

Some time before 1141 the empress made de Redvers earl of 
Devon, and Mohun earl of Dorset or Somerset — a fact noteworthy, since 
to Stephen alone are sometimes attributed the creations of this period. 
The status of the Mohun earldom is doubtful. The Gesta Stephanl states " 
that he was made earl of Dorset. He founded Bruton Priory in 1142 
as earl of Somerset.^* It was unimportant that he took his distinguishing 
name from either county, for they were under one sheriff. But de Redvers 
himself already held the manor of Puddletown,^^ which carried with it the 
third penny of the pleas of the county." The empress's own charter of 1 142 
to Aubrey de Vere, confirmed by her son Henry, offered de Vere a choice of 
Dorset or Oxfordshire, Berkshire or Wiltshire, for his new earldom. ^^ 

Robert of Gloucester committed Wareham to the safe-keeping of his 
eldest son William, and departed in June, 1142, also from Wareham, 'the 
empress's family haven,' on his mission to Geoffrey of Anjou.'* Stephen, 
recovered from his sickness, seized the opportunity to raid the enemy's own 
country. He marched on Wareham, burned the town, and took the castle." 
Sherborne Castle, built by the Justiciar, Bishop Roger of Salisbury, in 1137,'° 

' Liber Niger (ed. Hearne), i, 8; ; Pipe R. Dors. 14 Hen. II, m. 2. 

' Pipe R. Dors. 31 Hen. I. * Printed Round, G. Je Mandcville, 51,52. * Gesta Stefh. 58. 

' Dom. Bk. i, 76 ; Liber Niger, i, 77 ; Red Bk. of the Exch. (Rolls Ser.), i, 212. 

' Ann. Man. ii, 226. ' Jnct. Chart. (Pipe R. Soc. ed. Round), x, 37. 

" Ann. Theokeib. (Rolls Ser.), i, 46 ; Hen. Hunt. Hist. Engl 261 ; Jnn. JVav. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 229. 

' Ann. Wav. ii, 226. '" Gesta Stefh. 53, and Intr. xxi-xxv ; Round, G. de MandeviUe, 278, 279. 

" Gesta Steph. 53. " Will. Malms, op. cit. 557. "p. 80. 

" Round, G. de MandeviUe, 271, 274, 277. " Eyton, Dors. Dom. 75. 

" Dom. Bk. i, 75. " Round, op. cit. 180-3. 

'* Will. Malms, op. cit. 592. " Ibid. 593 ; Gesta Slefh. 93. 

" Ann. Winton, ii, 51 ; Will. Malms, op. cit. 547, 549 ; Gesta Steph. 49, 50. 


(a time when all who could fortified themselves), was already in his hands, 
from his seizure of the bishop in 1139. So when in December Robert of 
Gloucester returned, not with the empress's husband, but with her son Henry, 
her cause seemed hopeless. She was at the time closely besieged in Oxford. 
Instead of going to her help, the earl lingered to retake Wareham ^ (which 
Stephen allowed to fall into his hands, sooner than abandon the siege of 
Oxford to go to its relief), and to occupy the two small castles of Lulworth 
and Portland.' The former castle had been held by William de Glastonia, 
who had lately turned traitor to the empress : Portland had been previously 
fortified by Stephen.' 

Immediately on the surrender of Oxford, Stephen marched on Wareham, 
reaching it probably about i January. Earl Robert, on its recapture, had 
most strongly fortified it.* The king laid waste the adjoining country with 
fire and sword. 

Next year he lost Sherborne Castle ; William Martel the Dapifer, who 
was holding it for the king, was captured at Wilton, and was compelled to 
give up this castle, to regain his liberty.^ After the withdrawal of the 
empress, Dorset took no further part in the Civil War. 

The reconstructions of Henry II are generally said to have involved the 
degradation of the fiscal earls, and the destruction of adulterine castles. The 
Mohun earldom of Dorset does not occur, even after 1 142. But of the fate of 
the adulterine castles, or which of them were adulterine, we have no know- 
ledge. The custody of Dorchester Castle was eventually granted to Earl 
Reginald of Cornwall.* Eleven years later it appears under the honour of 
Gloucester.'' A bull of Eugenius III in 11 46 had confirmed to the bishop 
of Salisbury the possession of his two castles of Sherborne and Devizes.* But 
two agreements, in 1152 and 1157, between Henry II and Bishop Jocelin, 
restoring the castle of Devizes conditionally to the bishop, do not seem to 
have been copied with regard to Sherborne Castle, which was taken into 
the king's hands. The hundred of Sherborne was restored in 11 60 by the 
widowed countess Mabel of Gloucester and her son William to Bishop 

In 1 1 89 John married Isabel of Gloucester, third daughter of this 
William Fitz Robert. She was made heiress of the honour, for the benefit 
of her husband, who received confirmation of the earldom,^" but no castles 
were committed to his keeping. In 1189, no place being assigned to him 
in the government, Richard purchased, or hoped to purchase, his loyalty 
by lavish grants, which included all crown rights over Dorset, Somerset, 
Devon, and Cornwall." Whether or not he had by this means attained 
possession of the castles of these counties, he lost them again in 1 191, at 
the Grand Council of Winchester (28 July), for the pacification of the 

' Will. Malms, op. cit. 594, 595. 

' Arm. Winton, ii, 53 ; Ann. U'ig. iv, 379 ; Will. Malms, op. cit. loc. cit.; Gesta Stiph. 93. 
' Will. Malms, op. cit. 595. The Newburghs probably did not acquire Lulworth before 1300. They 
appear at Winfrith in 1210. 
* Gesta Steph. 94. 

' Hen. Hunt. Hist. 276 ; Gesta Stefh. 96 ; Ann. Theokcsb. (Rolls Ser.), i, 46. See Round, op. cit. I47. 
' Pipe R. 22 Hen. II, m. 9 ^. ' Pipe R. 33 Hen. II. 

' ^arum Chart. (Rolls Scr. 97), 13. ' Ibid. 32. 

'" Bened. Pet. Gesla Regis (Rolls Ser.), 78 ; Gervase, Opera, i, 458. 
" Bened. Pet. op. cit. 99. Roger of Hoveden, Chron. (Rolls Ser. 51), 27. 



count and Longchamps over the Camville case. But in October he again 
got control of the royal castles, on the deposition of Longchamps. After 
the release of Richard from captivity John sent w^ord from Normandy to 
have his castles put in order for a fresh rising. But Hubert Walter pro- 
ceeding against the places fortified, and the king landing in England, John 
surrendered. A special iter of the justices that September (1194) had, as 
one of its objects, to take account of all lands and goods forfeited by John 
or his foUow^ers under decrees issued against them, and not subsequently 
re-granted by the king to them. It appears that Dorset had been impli- 
cated, to some extent, in the last rising. Reginald of Saint Leodegar in Todber, 
Brian de Goviz in Kingston, and Lucia de Broil in Milborne^ lost their 
lands entirely. Walter de Turberville in Toller,^ and Eustace de Stokes in 
Lulworth,'' recovered them eventually, after temporary dispossession. Eustace 
de Stokes was a knight of Alured of Lincoln.* 

The time spent by John, when king, in the county has sometimes 
been exaggerated. Of 1,314 changes of place recorded of his court,' ninety- 
four only relate to Dorset. According to the Itinerary he spent 131 days 
in the county, out of a rough total of 4, i 59, about three per cent, only.' This 
was remarkably little, since to a parsimonious king (whose frequent move- 
ments necessitated the seventeenth clause of Magna Carta) it was of import to 
have his court maintained free for a few nights at a time.'' He spent much 
money on strengthening his castles, and the Pipe Rolls for this reign have 
frequent mentions of expenses incurred for work on the castles of Dorchester, 
Sherborne, Gillingham, and Corfe.' The king had been reinstated with 
the honour of Gloucester in 1195, while still only count, but without 
its castles. On his accession he divorced his wife Isabel, on the pretext 
of Archbishop Baldwin's early objections to the marriage, on grounds of 
consanguinity. He deprived her of her patrimony, conferring the estates 
and earldom upon her sister's husband, Amaury of Montfort, but by the 
ninth year of his reign the honour was again in his own hands. He used 
Corfe Castle as a state prison as well as a fortress. Among its prisoners 
were the nobles of Poitou and Guienne whom he captured at Mirebeau ' 
{1202), the Lusignans, from whom he had abducted his new wife, Isabel 
of Angouleme. There also were confined Griffith, king of Wales,^" the 
princesses of Scotland," given by their father as hostages in 1209, William 
of Albini,'^ afterwards one of the twenty-five elected barones^'^ and even his 
own queen." 

In 1205 the king, having been successfully resisted by the barons 
in the matter of service abroad, embarked, and put out to sea for 
three days, landing again at Studland, probably as a kind of protest against 

' Pipe R. 6 Ric. I, m. 13 -j". ' Ibid, i John, ra. 17 </. 

' Ibid. 7 Ric. I, m. 17. * Liber Niger, i, 80. 

' Hardy, Itin. Arch, xxii, 125 sqq. 

' He reigned from 27 May, 1 199, to 18 Oct. 1 2 16. Four years of this time were spent in Normandy, 
for two more years the Itinerary is wanting. 

' See Pipe R. of the bishopric of Winchester, p. 76. {Studies in Econ. and PoUt. Sci.) 

' See, inter alia, Pipe R. 2 John, m. 7 ; Pipe R. 10 John, m. l\ d. ; Pipe R. 2 John, m. 7 ; Pipe R. 
4 John, m. 7. 

' Ann. Marg. (Rolls Ser.), i, 26 ; Pat. R. 4 John, m. 3. '" Ann. U'int. ii, 68. 

" Pipe R. 5 Hen. III. " Ann. Londiniensis (Rolls Ser. 76), i, 17. " Ibid. 

" Gervase, op. cit. ii, 102. 



the refusal of his miUtary tenants to accompany him on the French expedi- 
tion.' This he repeated in 1213, again landing at Studland.' 

After the Interdict (1208) and the excommunication of the king (1209), 
Peter of Pontefract or Wakefield, a seer, prophesied that John would reign 
fourteen years and no more. John imprisoned him in Corfe Castle till the 
time for fulfilment of the prophecy should have expired.^ The surrender to 
the papacy took place in 121 3 (23 May), the fourteen years were up, count- 
ing from Ascension Day, 1 199 (from which John's regnal years were dated), 
on 27 May. The prophecy therefore came true, in a sense, and the king had 
the prophet executed in Corfe Castle.* 

On the landing of the Dauphin in 12 16, John at first entrenched himself 
in the castle, but Louis, instead of advancing upon him, stayed to harry 
Hampshire. Nevertheless John, who had been at Corfe and Wareham till 
17 July ^ (the Dauphin landed 20 May), withdrew to Bristol. 

One of the barons who had helped to call in Louis was William 
Longespee, the natural son of Henry II. He had married Ela, daughter and 
heiress of William earl of Salisbury [ob. 1196), grandson of Edward of 
Salisbury, and successor to his Domesday fief. This had included the manors 
of Canford and Kingston, and the manor of Great Kingston had been added 
to the Salisbury inheritance by the marriage of the son of Edward of 
Salisbury with the daughter and coheiress of Ernulf of Hesding, successor 
to many of the lands of Ulward the White. Another of the rebellious 
barons was William of Montacute, sheriff of Dorset and Somerset from 
1206 to 1208, grandson of Drogo of Montacute, who at the date of 
Domesday had been in Dorset a tenant of the count of Mortain." 

On the death of John the castle of Corfe was handed over to the regent, 
William Marshall (whose nephew John had already held Dorchester Castle^), 
by Peter de Mauley, one of John's Poitevin favourites,' and formerly sheriff 
of Dorset and Somerset, and constable of Corfe. In 1221 he was again 
sheriff", and in 1222 was made governor of Sherborne Castle, presaging the 
downfall of Hubert de Burgh, who had himself up to 1206 held the manors 
of Corfe Mullen and Milborne, with lands in Winfrith.' Queen Eleanor 
of Provence, wife of Henry III, held lands at Warmwell, in the hundred of 
Winfrith.^" The connexion with Dorset of another foreigner, the great Earl 
Simon, arose through his mother. The elder Earl Simon, ' the scourge of 
the Albigenses,' had married Amicia, sister and heiress of Robert de 
Beaumont earl of Leicester, sometimes also called ' Fitz Pernell ' from his 
mother Petronilla, daughter of Hugh of Grantmesnil. Earl Robert had 
mortgaged at one time the manor of Blandford Forum to Aaron, a Jew of 
Lincoln," but became repossessed of it on the seizure of the latter's 
property. The inheritance of the earls of Leicester came originally from 
Roger de Beaumont, who as a very old man was holding at the time of the 

' Ralph of Coggeshall, Chron. (Rolls Ser. 66), 152-4 ; Rog. Wend. Chrm. (Rolls Ser. 84), iii. 
' Walt. Covent. Chron. (Rolls Ser. 58), ii, 212 ; R. Cogg. op. cit. 167 ; Rog. Wend. op. cit. iii, 261, 262. 
' Walt. Covent. op. cit. ii, 209 ; Rog. Wend. op. cit. 240. 

'Walt. Covent. op. cit. 212 ; Rog. Wend. op. cit. 255 ; Ann. Men. 278; Chron. Th. Wyka (^oVi» 
Ser. 36), iv, 58. ' llin. ' Dom. Bk. i, 79. 

' Dugdale, Baronage, i, 599. ' Ibid, i, 733-4 ; Ralph of Coggeshall, op. cit. 66, 190. 

' Liber Niger, i, 102 ; Ejton, op. cit. 120. 

'" HunJ. R. (Rec. Com.), 103. Plac. de Quo Warranto (Rec. Com.), 181. 

" Pipe R. 5 Ric. I, m. 8. 



Domesday Survey inter alia the valuable manor of Sturminster Marshall 
(involving also Lytchett Minster and East Aimer), once Archbishop Stigand's. 
In 1258, Henry III granted to the great Earl Simon (who had married his 
sister Eleanor) the manor of Bere, which he had from his father. 

During the Barons' War Corfe came again to the front. In 1258 by 
the Provisions of Oxford it was placed in the hands of Stephen Longespee ^ 
brother of William, who had been killed on crusade in 1250. It was one of 
the three castles which, six years later, on the surrender of the Prince of 
Wales, Simon placed in the custody of his son the younger Simon, to prevent 
the effectual sending of foreign troops by the queen. ^ Its connexion with 
the de Montforts ended with the captivity there of Aimery and Eleanor de 
Montfort, who had in 1275-6 been taken at sea off Bristol.^ 

The de Montfort lands in Dorset, on the fall of the great earl, lapsed 
to the crown. Edmund, son of Henry III, brother of Edward I,* who in 1267 
was made governor of Sherborne Castle, was granted Shapwick ; ^ Kingston 
and Blandford went to Henry de Lacy, grandson of John de Lacy (made 
earl of Lincoln 1232), who was son-in-law to Hawise, sister of that Ran- 
dolf of Chester (o.s.p.) who had helped Henry III at Lincoln in 12 17. For 
this he was rewarded with the earldom of Lincoln, being nephew of the first 
earl, William of Roumare, who was himself nephew and heir of Robert 
son of Gerald, who, in Domesday, held Corfe Mullen, Lye, Ranston, and 
Povington. Henry de Lacy received full investiture of the earldom in 1272. 
In 1258 he had married Margaret Longespee, the above-mentioned heiress. 

The Quo Warranto of 1275 did not, in Dorset, deal with the greater 
barons, with one exception. For the most part those summoned were 
ecclesiastics, such as the abbesses of Tarrant and Shaftesbury, the abbot of 
Cerne, and the dean and chapter of Salisbury. Their offences were mainly 
of the nature of taking wreck of the sea, or free warren, without authority. 
Among the local secular land-holders, William Ic Moyne, summoned for 
taking free warren, wreck of the sea, and assize of bread and ale, in Winfrith 
and Owermoigne, pleaded that he held in chief of the king by serjeanty, and 
that his ancestors had had these rights.* Walter de la Lynde, summoned for 
the same cause, answered on the first count, a grant of King Henry's, which 
not improbably later gave rise to the legend of the White Hart of Blackmoor. 
The only great baron, among the secular land-holders, was Gilbert of Clare 
earl of Gloucester. Three years earlier the Hundred Rolls^ stated that, for 
years past, he had diverted to his own court Helwell, which formerly owed 
suit to the hundred court of CuUiford Tree. In 1275 he was summoned for 
encroachments on the royal rights in the hundreds of Rowburgh, Haslor, 
Culliford Tree, Pimperne, and Ugscomb. He alleged in answer a grant of 
Henry I, made at Marlborough. The matter was ordered to be further 
inquired into.^ He was also accused of taking free chase on the highway 
between Shaftesbury and Blandford and ' over the hill from the west,' with a 

' Provisions of Oxf. ; Tit. Les Nums des Cheveteins Chasteaus le ret. Stubbs, Chart. 392 ; j^nn. 
Burton (Rolls Ser.), i, 453. 

^ j4nn. Wig. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 453 ; Stubbs, Charters, (ed. 1895), 409. 

' Thom. Wykes, Chron. (Rolls Ser.), iv, 267 ; Gervase, op. cit. (Rolls Ser.), ii, 284. 

* Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 97. ' Patent R. 51 Hen. Ill, m. 8. 

' Abbrev. Plac. (Rec. Com.), 184. ' Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), 10 1. 

' Ptae. Jbbrev. (Rec. Com.), 183, Rot. 5 d. 

2 137 18 


list of further geographical details. To this he returned that a perambulation 
of the bounds and chase of Cranborne, in the reign of King John, had deter- 
mined the rights of the earls of Gloucester. Further encroachments were 
alleged against him in the hundred of Combsditch ; but it was admitted that 
he had assize of bread and ale, and wreck of the sea, in the manors of 
Weymouth, Portland, Wyke, and Elwell.^ 

Such checks upon the power of the great territorialists, though in them- 
selves negative, were assisted by the parallel movement of increased privileges 
of town-dwelling communities. The fact that such definition of status and juris- 
diction occurred somewhat late in Dorset does not imply that the powers 
now formally legalized had not hitherto been exercised. It would seem that 
the number of royal boroughs in the county had tended to make for peace 
between the burgesses and their overlord. In no case is there sign of 
previous strained feeling between the community as such and the overlord who 
grants the charter. The charters were therefore not extorted perforce, but 
were the result of handsome pecuniary compensation. Henry III gave 
charters to Bridport and Shaftesbury in 1252,* by which the former was in- 
corporated, while Shaftesbury (whose mayor witnesses a charter in 1352)' 
obtained freedom that its burgesses should not be impleaded outside the 
borough during the visits of the justices in eyre, and that they should elect 
from among themselves two coroners to determine the pleas of the crown in 
the said vill. Weymouth, granted by Henry I to the monks of St. Swithun, 
Winchester,* and exchanged by them with Gilbert of Clare for other lands,' 
passed by the marriage of Gilbert's granddaughter Elizabeth to Lionel duke 
of Clarence (son of Edward III), who then obtained for the town certain 
liberties. Sherborne was never a borough, but belonged to the bishop of 
Salisbury.' Melcombe, Bere Regis, Lyme, and Newton received charters 
from Edward I,^ by which the former obtained the usual freedom from extra- 
burghal impleading, and that the burgesses should have their town at an 
annual fixed fee-farm rent in perpetuity. Bere and Lyme became free boroughs. 
The men of Wareham for many years had paid 100 marks to have their town 
at fee-farm rent.* It received a charter from William Longespee,^ as did also 
Poole, probably about 1248.'° Corfe Castle and Blandford were boroughs by 
prescription, but were not formally incorporated till 1576 and 1606 respec- 
tively.'^ Dorchester, which had hitherto paid ^^20 by tale or f^iT. blanch for 
the fee-farm rent of the town,'^ an arrangement on a somewhat uncertain foot- 
ing,'' obtained the perpetuation of this scale in 1337/* having only obtained 
from Edward I that they might ' make at their own expense a prison to 
detain there the persons indicted for trespass and felony.' " 

' Plac. Abbrev. (Rec. Com.), 183, Rot. 5 d. 

' Madox, Hist. Exch. 250, 290 ; Browne-Willis, Hot. Pari, ii, 460-1 ; Mayo, Municip. Rec. of the 
Borough of Shaftesbury, 3. ' M.iyo, Municip. Rec. of the Borough of Shaftesbury, 3. 

' H. J. Moule, Calendar of Weymouth Charters, 3. 

' Hutchins, Dors, ii, 428. ' Ibid, iv, 208. 

' Browne-Willis, A'o/. Pari, ii, 446 ; Pat. 19 Edw. I, pt. i, m. 22 d.; Chart. R. 13 Edw. I, No. 136. 

' Pipe R. I 2 John, la. ' d. ; rep. I 3 John [nova oblata). 

' Hutchins, Dors, i, 82. " Sydenham, Hist. Poole, 154, 78. 

" Hutchins, op. cit. i, 471-2 ; Browne- Willis, Not. Pari. (ed. 1716), ii, 391. 
" Dorchester Corp. MSS. A. 30 ; Madox, Hist. Exch. 195. 
" Bro%vne-Willis, Not. Pari, ii, 418. 

" Dorch. Corp. MSS. loc. cit. ; Chart. R. 11 Edw. Ill, m. 3, No. 26 
"- Dorch. Corp. MSS. loc. cit. 



The towns quarrelled among themselves as to their status and jurisdiction 
all through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In 1432 Poole obtained 
an Act of Parliament reducing Melcombe for a time from a port into a creek, 
and erecting itself into a port.^ It was erected into a county by Letters 
Patent of 1568, but the borough was still subject to the authority of the 
Lords-Lieutenant of Dorset, the Privy Council, the year after, sending a 
special letter to ensure this.^ The burgesses of Dorchester in 1445 succeeded 
in enforcing certain jurisdictions as against those of Bridport.' They had 
already (14 14) drawn up by-laws for the governance of their town.* 

Eleven towns sent representatives to Parliament at one time and another. 
Dorchester, Bridport, and Lyme sent them continuously from 1295,^ Shaftes- 
bury from 1297,° and Wareham from 1302.^ Weymouth and Melcombe 
(the latter summoned in 1305 and 1306, but not replying) were represented 
from the reign of Edward II onwards.* Sherborne was represented at the 
Great Council held in 1344.' Blandford was represented in Parliament on 
two isolated occasions^" (i 305 and 1329). Poole was represented in 1341, 
1363, and 1 369, and then not again till 1453 or 1455, after which it returned 
members continuously.^^ Corfe Castle returned no member till 1572.'^ The 
knights of the shire during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were 
drawn '' from that class of secondary landholders which furnished the ' new 
men ' of the Tudor county-administration. Their forefathers appear for the 
most part as knights of the great feudatories, but themselves inconspicuous. 
The families of Mowbanks (or Maybank), Turberville, Newburgh, Sifrewast, 
Goviz, Herring, Matravers and Filliol (many of them commemorated in 
place-surnames) now begin to come into prominence as representing the 
county in Parliament. It is not till the reign of Edward VI that the well- 
known names of Strangways and Horsey occur in this connexion. 

In spite of the growth of popular freedom, the local influence of the 
great barons was still strong in 131 1, when Gaveston fled to the west. The 
king was compelled to issue a proclamation (30 November) ordering search 
to be made for him. Dorset was mentioned as one of his probable hiding- 
places.'* Gilbert of Clare was the king's close friend, and Gaveston's brother- 
l in-law ; and Henry of Lacy ^' (who had only just died, and had, indeed, 
ended his days in the county) had before his death come to an understanding 
with the king, probably with reference to Gaveston.'* Alice, daughter and 
heiress of Henry of Lacy and Margaret of Salisbury had, it is true, married 
Thomas of Lancaster, the son and heir of Edmund, son of Henry III, who 
held, in his own right, the manors of Kingston, Fordington, and Bere,'' 
together with other Dorset manors,'* both in his own right and in that of 

' ffeymouli darters, i, 26 ; Sydenham, op. cit. 4, 5. 

' Browne- Willis, Not. Pari, ii, 407 ; Sydenham, op. cit. 179 sqq. 

' Dorch. Corp. MSS. A. 9, B. 2. * Ibid. ' Dorchester Domesday.' 

' Hutchins, op. cit. ii, 356, 12, 51. ' Browne-Willis, Not. Pari. 11,478, 483. 

' Hutchins, op. cit. i, 84. * Ibid, ii, 433, 452- 

' Browne-Willis, op. cit. i, 87. '° Ibid, ii, 391. 

" Hutchins, op. cit. i, 25. " Ibid, i, 471. 

" See list in Hutchins, op. cit. i, p. xlv sqq. 

" Rymer, Foedera (orig. ed.), iii, 294. " Vide supra. 

'* Cal. Docts. Scot, iii, 177. 

"Duchy of Lane. Misc. Rec. xi, 37 a'. 69 a'.; FeuJ. Aids, i, 17 ; Chart. R. 8 Edw. I, No. 73, m. 7, No. 37. 

'* Duchy of Lane. Misc. Rec. xi, 55. 



his wife Aveline,^ daughter of Isabella de Fortibus, Lady of the Isle of Wight. 
But his father-in-law's death was so recent that his influence would no doubt 
avail, for a time, to shelter Gaveston against the Earl of Lancaster. After 
the execution of the latter, in 1322, his widow. Countess Alice, remarried 
without the royal assent. Her estates were seized, and most of them were 
given in 1323 to the younger Despenser,' who had married Eleanor, elder 
daughter of Gilbert of Clare, and had livery of her purparty of his lordships 
and lands.' 

Edward II was for a time confined in Corfe Castle before he was taken 
to Berkeley. One account even gave it as his place of execution.* Hence 
probably arose one version of the story of his brother Edmund of Kent. It 
was said that the earl, being anxious to restore his brother, was made the 
victim of a plot by which a certain friar was persuaded of the truth of the 
tale that the king was still alive and in Corfe Castle. To this end the friar 
was smuggled into the castle, and was shown the supposed king. Reporting 
to the earl, the latter was persuaded to incriminate himself by a letter to the 
brother, whom he supposed still living, though captive : and this letter was 
used by Isabella and Mortimer as an excuse to ruin and execute him. It is, 
however, probable that Stow's account is much too detailed, and that the 
details given result from a mixture of the two facts of the temporary im- 
prisonment of the king at Corfe, and of the application by the Earl of Kent 
to a certain friar to raise his brother's spirit for him.^ 

The Mortimers appear in 1285 as already holding lands in Dorset. 
Edmund Mortimer earl of March had lands in Winterborne Steepleton, 
and held Chilcombe, which, however, he subinfeudated to the prior of 
St. John of Jerusalem, as did Roger Mortimer, lord of Chirk, his manor 
of Stottingway in the hundred of Culliford Tree.* Simon de Montacute 
{pb. 1 3 17), in return for services in Edward's Welsh campaign in 1277, 
received additions to the Dorset lands which had descended to him from 
the original Drogo de Montacute of Domesday Book, tenant of the count of 
Mortain in Nyland and in Toller.' In 1299 he was made constable of Corfe 
Castle. His grandson William, who helped Edward III to arrest Mortimer, 
was rewarded by grants of land forfeited by him, including Sherborne Castle, 
Corfe Castle, and Purbeck Chase.* Later, Simon obtained also the manor of 
Canford,' which had passed from Henry de Lacy and Countess Margaret to 
their daughter Alice. On the death of Thomas of Lancaster she remised it 
to the crown, who granted it to the Earl of Surrey for life, and then to 
Hugh le Despenser, and on his forfeiture to William de Montacute the 
elder." Later again he obtained the manors of Marshwood, Wootton, 
Worth, Frome Whitfield, and Poole. '^ In 1337 he was created earl of 

' SeeDugdale, Baronage, ii, 114 ; Genealogist, May, 1905 ; Feud. Aids, \, 15, 17, 19, 22, &c. 

'See Cat. Anct. Deeds, A. 214, 215, 4587, 249, 250. ' Dugdale, Baronage, i, 392. 

* Ann. Bermondes. (Rolls Scr.), iii, 472 ; Vita Edtcardi Secundi (Rolls Ser.), 76. 

'See Leland, Collectanea, \, 686 ; Stow, Chron. 129 ; article on 'Edmund of Kent' in Diet. Nat. Bicg.; 
Bond, Corfe Castle, 23. 

^ Feud. Aids, i, 3, 6, 20. See Hutchins, op. cit. ii, 845, where it is included in the hundred of 

^ Dom. Bk. i, 79. 'Pari. R. ii, 606 ; Chart. R. 4 Edw. Ill, m. I, No. 2. 

' Chart. R. 9 Edw. Ill, m. 6, No. 26 ; Close, 2 Ric. II, m. 23. 

" Chart. R. 1 1 Edw. Ill, m. 26, No. 54. 

"Ibid. 9 Edw. Ill, m. 3, No. 16 ; 10 Edw. Ill, m. 18, No. 36. 



Salisbury, and his son William, the second earl, in 1356 came to an agree- 
ment with the Bishop of Salisbury about the long-disputed custody of Sher- 
borne Castle.^ On 31 July, i 381, he was appointed captain against the rebels 
in Dorset and Somerset ; but the rebellion did not come to a head in 
Dorset. His great-grand-daughter and heiress Alice, by her marriage to 
Richard Neville (eldest son of the earl of Westmorland by his second wife, 
Lady Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt), took the inheritance to the 
Nevilles. After the death of their son at the battle of Barnet it was granted 
by Edward IV to his own brother George (whom he had made duke of 
Clarence) on his marriage with Isabel Neville. The lands of the Duke of 
Clarence included the manors of Todber, Iwerne Courtney, Ibberton, 
Ranston, Wraxall, Chilfrome, Kentcombe, Mapperton, Puncknowle, Toller 
Porcorum, and the castle and manor of Corfe.^ The Edmund Mortimer 
of the reign of Richard II had married Philippa, daughter and heiress of 
Lionel duke of Clarence, third son of Edward III, who had died seised 
of the manors of Marshwood, Cranborne, Tarrant Gunville, Pimperne, 
Steeple, Wyke, and Portland, and the boroughs of Wareham and Wey- 
mouth.* On her mother's side (as grand-daughter of the coheiress of 
Gilbert of Clare) she enjoyed also many Dorset manors.* The heir to their 
grandson Edmund, who died in 1425, was declared to be Richard duke of 
York, who accordingly had livery of his lands. ^ 

John of Gaunt had succeeded, in right of his wife Blanche (who was 
sister and heiress of Maud, daughter of Henry duke of Lancaster, brother and 
heir of Thomas, executed after Boroughbridge), to the manors of Kingston 
Lacy, Shapwick, and Maiden Newton, the Chase of Wimborne Holt, and 
the hundred of Badbury.' This formed the nucleus of the Beaufort connexion 
with Dorset, the Yorkists, as has been said, being well represented also. 
The two Beaufort sons of the Duke of Lancaster who were laymen en- 
joyed the Dorset title. John, the eldest, was created marquis of Dorset in 
1397, but degraded in 1399. In 1402 the Commons petitioned the king to 
restore to him the name and rank of marquis, but he himself was opposed to ; 
their request on the ground of the novelty and foreign sound of the title.' 
His son Henry died, while yet a minor, seised of the castle and lordship of 
Corfe. Thomas, third of the sons of John of Gaunt by Catherine Swinford, 
was created earl of Dorset in 141 1 and duke of Exeter (for life only) in 
1 41 6. He died without issue in 1426. Edmund Beaufort (his nephew 
and heir, and son of John, first marquis) succeeded as earl of Dorset in 1441, 
and was created marquis of Dorset in 1442, for his services at the relief of 
Calais.* His elder brother John duke of Somerset had succeeded to the 
lands of his grandfather John of Gaunt, and thus it came about that the Lady \ 
Margaret Beaufort, his daughter, and the mother of Henry VII, was born at • 
Kingston Lacy. Edmund, the second marquis above mentioned, was killed 
at the battle of St. Albans in 1455, and left three sons, Henry, Edmund, and 
John, of whom the youngest, John, was killed at Tewkesbury. In 1452 
Henry VI made a grant to Queen Margaret of lands in Dorset, mainly 

' Close, 29 Edw. Ill, m. 36. 'Dugdalc, Baronage, ii, 164. 

'Ibid. 168. Mbid. i, 150. 

'Ibid. 1 5 1-2 ; Jc/s o/P.C. (ed. Nicholas), iii, 94-5. 
* Dugdale, op. cit. ii, 1 14. ' Ibid. 122. 

'Pari. R. 20 Hen. VI, No. 3 ; Jcti o/P.C. (ed. Nicholas), v, 209. 



in the neighbourhood of Weymouth.' She landed at Weymouth in 1471, 
and was joined there by Somerset. It is said that many Dorset men took 
part in the succeeding campaign of Tewkesbury. - 

The title of marquis of Dorset was granted by Edward IV to Thomas 
Grey of Ruthyn (son of his queen, Elizabeth Wydville) in 1475, and he 
intrigued for the absent Henry Tudor.' On his accession Henry granted 
Corfe Castle and manor to his mother ; on her death Henry VIII granted 
them, together with the Isle of Purbeck, to the Duke of Richmond and 
Somerset. On his death they once more reverted to the crown,* and later 
were again granted to the Duke of Somerset, this time to the Protector. On 
his attainder they again reverted to the crown, Elizabeth finally granting 
them to Sir Christopher Hatton.' 

Dorset was associated with the rebellion of Perkin Warbeck in two 
different manners, answering to the two phases of that rebellion. The under- 
lying motive of the first stage of the rising was protest against extortionate 
taxation. This ended, in June (1497), with the defeat of the Cornishmen at 
Blackheath. A purely personal sentiment for Warbeck began in the west 
country with his landing in Cornwall that September. It crumbled 
away on his flight. 

The first rising found sympathizers all over the shire. The fines after- 
wards levied extend pretty generally throughout it. But the names of the 
more important families are absent from the Exchequer Roll of Accounts for 
the twelfth year of the reign (ending 21 August, 1497, ^•^- before the 
second rising began), which gives the list of fines levied. The Horseys, 
Strangways, Binghams, Trenchards, Martins of Athelhampton, Delalyndes, 
Mortons, and Rogers of Bryanston apparently held aloof.* The boroughs of 
Dorchester and Bridport, and seven hundreds are implicated. The famous 
merchant, John Williams of Dorchester, was among the fined. A Turberville 
was fined in the hundred of Bere Regis. The monasteries sided generally 
with the commonalty in their disloyalty. The inhabitants of Abbot's Fee 
in Sherborne were fined nearly ;!^40, the abbot of Bindon ^^20, and the 
tithings of Cerne Abbas and Milton Abbas respectively £1^ and >Ci°- John 
Okey, 'chaplain' of Buckland Newton, paid £10, and John Mabbe, vicar of 
Netherbury, £1. The king treated the rebels with great leniency,' pro- 
claiming a general pardon in the western counties on their submission to 
his mercy.* But the collection of the fine was accompanied by much 
unfairness, extortion, and embezzlement ; Harry Uvedale, bailiff of Pur- 
beck, was the chief offender, while the complaints were voiced by one 
of the Claviles, and brought before Sir John Turberville (whose name 
occurs in Warbeck's Northumberland Proclamation), one of the king's 
council. The Dorset commissioners were Sir Amyas Paulet and Robert 

' IVey mouth Chart, i, lo. 'Bankes, Corfe Castle, 29. 

' Memorials of Hen. I'll (Rolls Ser. lo), xxxix, 24. 

* Cal L. and P. Hen. Fill, i, 334, 563. ' Pat. 14 Eliz. pt. xii. 

^MS. Reg. 14 B. vii, B.M. is a list of the fines exacted. L. and P. Ric. Ill and Hen. VII (Rolls Ser.), 
App. B. vol. ii. 

' Cal. Venet. State Papers, i 202-1 509, p. 260. 

* Cal. of Pat. R. 24-25 July, 1497, m. 4 ; Pat. 13 Hen. VII, m. 6 d. 

^Letters of Ric. Ill and Hen. VII (Rolls. Ser.), ii, 75-6. See also Notes and Queries for Som and 
Dors. VII, Win, 102. 



In the second rising also, the king had full confidence in the loyalty of 
the landed classes. He wrote (September 20) to the Bishop of Bath and 
Wells (Warbeck being then engaged in besieging Exeter) : 'The Perkin and his 
company, if they come forward, shall find before them . . . the noblemen 
of South Wales, and of our counties of Gloucester, Wiltshire, Hampshire, 
Somerset, and Dorset.'^ The list of the fined was practically confined to the 
Pretender's line of flight from Taunton, by way of Sherborne, Blackmoor, 
and Cranborne Chase to Beaulieu. There was evidently no discontent with 
the Tudor monarchy, but merely pity extended to a fugitive. 

The loyalty of the country gentlemen showed itself a few years later 
(1501) on the bridal progress of Catherine of Arragon. She was received 
with much ceremonial, and escorted from stage to stage ; two or three miles 
before she came to Sherborne (from Exeter and Crewkerne) she was met by 
Sir Thomas de la Lynde, William Martin, Sir John Turberville, Sir Roger 
Newburgh, Richard Willoughby, William Barket, and Henry Strangways. 
These conveyed her to Shaftesbury, where she was met by another set of 
important gentlemen, and accompanied to Amesbury.^ 

At the Field of the Cloth of Gold Dorset was represented by Sir Giles 
Strangways, Sir Thomas Trenchard, and Sir Thomas Lynde. ^ And to the 
suppression of the Northern Rebellion of 1536 the county contributed 1,0 £;o 
men, viz. Sir Giles Strangways 300, Sir Thomas Arundel and Sir Edward 
Willoughby 200 each. Sir Thomas More and John Rogers, esq. 100 each, 
and Sir John Horsey 150.* In 1538 there was some slight disaffection,' but 
on the whole the Tudor period is barren of any stirring events. It is con- 
cerned mainly with questions of defence, and in it we get glimpses of 
electoral procedure, following on the borough controversies whose roots lay 
centuries deep. The county was fairly heavily charged for coat and conduct 
money, besides having to furnish contingents at frequent intervals. Thus in 
1546 the coat and conduct money of 100 men raised by the county was 
£^K, 16s. 8^.,° while in 1600, ^19 16s. \d. was the coat and conduct money 
charged for 50 men.'' Not so many men were apparently demanded for the 
wars of Henry VIII as for those of Elizabeth. Henry wanted money and men 
for his castles and garrisons. Sandsfoot Castle, built by him in 1540, was 
carefully munitioned,* and gunners for the Isle of Purbeck and for Portland 
were not reduced in number till 1552.' 

The execution of Lady Jane Grey and reconciliation of England with 
Rome seem to have produced slight disturbances in 1554, for a letter from 
the Privy Council to the sheriff and justices of the peace mentions the late 
false rumours of a ' commocion ' in Dorset, ' to the evil stirring of the 
people.' Two days later (3 1 July) a second letter thanks them for their 
diligence and prays them to continue the same ; and because they have a 
commission of oyer and terminer they are to proceed against the spreaders of 
these reports. In this connexion Edward Horsey was specially mentioned 
as ' of evill demeanour.' ^^ In 1557 the county was still suffering disturbance 

' Ellis, Original Letters, i, 35, ser. i. ' Letters of Ric. Ill and Hen. Vll (Rolls Ser.), i, 406, 407. 

' L. and P. Hen. Fill, iii, pt. i, 241. * Ibid, xi, 232. 

' Ibid, xiii, pt. ii, 473. * Jets of P. C. (ed. Dasent), 1542-7, p. 393. 

' Ibid. 1600, pp. 102, 185. ' Ibid. 1550-2, p. 172 ; ibid. 1549-50, p. 393. 

* Ibid. 184 ; ibid. I 5 52-4, pp. 32, 34. '" Ibid. I 5 54-6, pp. 1 68-9. 


from this cause, and ' the whole force of the shire ' was to be held ready ' in 
case of rebellion.' ^ 

In spite of this strong though evidently suppressed Protestant feeling 
there were a certain number of recusants in the reign of Elizabeth. No 
notice was taken of them till 1582, when the apprehension was ordered of 
one Slade, a very dangerous Papist, also of any Jesuit or seminary priest.* This 
followed hard upon riots against the sheriff, instigated by Henry Howard, 
son and heir of Lord Bindon.' A prosecution for witchcraft had taken place 
in 1564.* On 7 February, 1585, a regular assessment of fines for recusancy 
was enforced, under the lord-lieutenancy of the Marquis of Winchester.* 
In 1590 there was some sympathy with the recusants displayed:* and in 
1598 certain recusants were fined ^^15 each towards the Irish Light Horse.'' 
The names of the fined were Lady Sturton, Charles Sturton, esq., Mrs. 
Martin of Athelhampton, Henry Cary of Hamworthy, and Mr. Slade of 

The need of men for Irish service had been constantly brought home. 
Three hundred Dorset men served in 1573, a hundred more were sent out in 
1578, another hundred the next year, a further hundred in 1598, and 
another hundred and fifty in 1600, with fifty more for the plantation of 
Lough Foyle, reinforced later in the year by an additional twenty ; while in 
the same year resort was had to the method of levying from each of the 
principal gentlemen (viz. Sir George Trenchard, Sir Ralph Horsey, Thomas 
Freake, and John Fitzjames) ' one light horse and equipment and man 
and equipment.'* 

The preparations to meet the Armada included the furnishing of Corfe 
Castle, Portland Castle, and the Isle of Purbeck with ordnance,* a contribution 
of ship-money from Weymouth, Shaftesbury, Wareham, Dorchester, Bland- 
ford, Sherborne, and Cerne Abbas, for the ' two ships and one pinnace ' to be 
set forth by Weymouth. The rest of the county, and Lyme and Chard, 
were afterwards also forced to contribute. A thousand foot, but no horse, were 
ordered to be sent to London by 6 August. This led to a lively but 
unavailing protest from the rest of the inhabitants, who feared the Spanish 
fleet and French attacks. ' Lances and light horse ' were commanded to 
London by the 8th. The clergy also raised a troop. ^^ Next year the lord- 
lieutenant received instructions as to the levies and military stores, and how 
far they were to be kept on a war footing. A sale of powder in store at 
Dorchester was also ordered ' awaie nowe, when there is occasion to use yt, 
for yt is but bad powder, and the longer yt is kept the worse it wilbe.' " 
The expenses of the repelling of the Armada were met by a loan borrowed 
from 2,416 of the queen's subjects in the thirty-six counties, which amounted 
to nearly ^75,000 ; it was impossible to meet them by ordinary subsidies, 
and an extraordinary subsidy large enough to bring in the sum required 

' AcU ofP.C. (ed. Dasent), 1556-8, p. 87. ' Ibid. 1 581-2, p. 446. 

' Ibid. 1 580-1, p. 217. • Ibid. 1558-70, pp. 200-1. ' Ibid. 1586-7, p. 16. 

* Ibid. 1590-1, p. 358. ' Ibid. 1598-9, p. 499 ; see also Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, 252J. 

'Jets of P. C. 1571-5, pp. 125-6; 1577-8, P- 24°; 1598-9, P- 499; 1597-8. P- 329; '600, 
pp. 102, 247, 416, 439, 790, 798. See also Dorch. Corp. MSS. and Weymouth Chart, v, 28. 

^ Acts of P. C. 1588, p. 259. 

'" Ibid. 133, 301, 353, 171, 192, 181, 267. See also Ellis, Hist. Weymouth, 15 ; Weymouth Charters, 
V, 26, 32. 

" Acts of P. C. i;88-o, p. 389. 



would have ruined the country and caused widespread ill-feeUng. In the 
spring of 1587 the loan was called for by circular letters, addressed under 
sanction, or by command of the Privy Seal, to the wealthier inhabitants of each 
county, whose names were furnished by the lords-lieutenant. In some cases 
the names given were of those who really could not pay. But in Dorset no 
remissions were allowed, and jri,g^o was paid by forty-seven of its gentry. 
Robert Freke of Cerne, John Miller of Came, Henry Coker of Mappowder, 
Robert Harley of Stalbridge, Thomas Chafyn, and James Hannam of Purse 
Caundle paid >Ci°o each.^ Matthew Chubb of Dorchester, assessed at £S'^, 
wrote to Secretary WoUy, saying that ' neither the Lord Lieutenant, nor the 
Deputy Lieutenant, have certified the sufficiency of your suppliant to be able 
to lend Her Majesty any sum of money.' There is no record of how he 

All this while the twin towns of Weymouth and Melcombe Regis had 
been carrying on a bitter quarrel. The old competitors of Dorchester 
(Lyme, Wareham, and Poole) had all withdrawn from the contest. Wey- 
mouth and Melcombe, however, continued their strife with unabated vigour, 
in spite of the so-called Act of Union of 1571, which united the two 
boroughs ' in government, the peace, and entire jurisdiction,' also as to the 
receipt of the petty customs of ' the haven and watercourse ; ' but for 
' private actions, suits, etc. ... in leets and lawdays . . . they retained the 
same divided in their several towns.' ' This apparent settlement had been 
arrived at by a commission from the Privy Council, consisting of the Lords 
Justices Jeffisry and Manwood. But the disturbances ran so high* that in 
1586 a fresh commission was sent to settle them. The matter was not ended 
till 1616, all the local lawyers being kept busy, on both sides, and ' Holand- 
shed, a keeper of recordes in the Tower, delivered a ^0 Warranto to Best, 
and Best thought it to be forged, because he had it so good cheape.'^ 

Interference with elections for Parliament is a common feature of this 
period. The Earl of Pembroke (steward of Weymouth, Wyke, Portland, 
and other royal manors) with 'E. Philippes gent.' selected the two representa- 
tives for Weymouth in 1585.' Lord Warwick chose the opposing two for 
Melcombe.^ Lord Bedford, in 1576, wrote to the bailiffs of the former 
proposing that ' upon the return of your indentures you will send the same, 
with a blank for the name,' as he wished to nominate one of the members.' 
In 1 57 1 he had already selected one of the members for Poole ; in 1581 the 
Earl of Leicester assumed this privilege, in 1584 the recorder, Giles Estcourt, 
and in 1585 the Earl of Warwick. In Poole, at any rate, this state of affairs 
continued till the Commonwealth.' So late as the county election of 1675 
the Bishop of Bristol sent circulars to all his clergy instructing them which 
way to vote : — 

I have sent my secretary into Dorsetshire on purpose to disperse these letters amongst 
you, and I hope you will be careful so to send these from one to another that the whole 
diocese will be sensible of my desire to them.^" 

' T. C. Noble : ' The names of those persons . . . who subscribed to the Armada.' Notes and Queries 
fir Som. and Dors, i, 3 3 sqq. 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. E/iz. 1581-90, p. 223 (114). 

' Weymouth Chart, ii, 4. * j4cts of P. C. iSJ^-Jy P- 3^8. ' Weymouth Chart, ii, 70. 

' Ibid, ii, 4; iii, 15. ' Ibid, i, 25. ' Ibid, iv, I J. " Hutchins, Dorset, i, 25-7. 

'° Christie, Life of the First Lord Shaftesbury, ii, 2 1 8. 

2 145 ^9 


In 1592 the grievance of purveyance, long felt, came to a head, owing 
to the extra burden imposed on the rest of the county by the exemptions 
claimed by the Isle of Purbeck, the liberties of Gillingham, Wyke Regis, 
Stour Preaux, the hundred of Whitchurch, and the liberties of Sutton Pointz 
and Sydling.^ In 1593, on inquiry, the exemptions were repealed, in spite 
of the great efforts on behalf of the Isle of Purbeck made by William 
Bond. Purbeck also had to contribute towards the provision for Her 
Majesty's household.- This redressed the local exactions complained of in 
the Blandford division in 1591/ which were heavier, from the exemptions of 
the town of Poole, the island of Purbeck, and the hundred of Whiteway. 

In 1566 the joint shrievalty of Dorset and Somerset was discontinued, 
each county henceforth being administered by a separate sheriff.* 

The chief place among the illegal exactions of Charles I is generally 
accorded to the unauthorized collection of ship-money ; the first general 
writ for this was dated 1634. The illegalities of billeting soldiers upon 
private persons, and of enforcing service for the public works were, however, 
more annoying in the years immediately preceding 1634. The justices of the 
peace for the county complained in July 1632 that 'this little county ' was 
taxed ' in equality with Hampshire and Wiltshire,' which was the more unjust, 

that they have performed the service of many thousand loads of stones in the Isle of Port- 
land, for building the banqueting house, and that service is still continued upon them 
towards His Majest)''s buildings, besides that there is ^5,000 and upwards due to this 
county for billeting soldiers. 

They, therefore, begged to be spared the carriage of 1,290 loads of timber out 
of the New Forest.' It appears that the county eventually tacitly declined the 
service of this carriage. William Twyne, who did perform his share, could get 
no money therefor.^ In 1626 a thousand soldiers from Devon and Corn- 
wall, under martial law, had been quartered in Dorset.'' In 1629 the cor- 
poration of Dorchester complained to the Council of the billeting of soldiers 
' by along space, for which they have received no satisfaction,' viz. in particular 
from 23 April to 3 August, 1628, 'amounting to £^jj i6j., whereof ^^b 
only is paid and ^^51 i6j. reste unpaid.'* With other similar items the 
sum soon mounted to ^^260 \C)s. But in 1632 the lord treasurer wrote to 
the mayor of Dorchester to pay the ^(^260 odd, which was said to be 'in the 
hands of three or four men who collected the loan-money of the county.' ' 

This ' loan-money ' was just possibly contributions, somewhat forced, 
towards the Cadiz expedition of 1625,^° or the later recovery of the 
Palatinate." But it is more probable that the reference was to an early 
ship-money writ. The corporation of Bridport possesses such a writ dated 
5 November, 1628.^^ It provides for the outfit of a man-of-war of 400 tons, 
with equipment and provisions tor twenty-six weeks, and for an assessment to 
cover the cost. It contains the clause : ' Should any person be found rebel- 
lious, they shall be committed to prison until further order is made for their 

' Acts oj P.C. 1592-3, pp. 354-6- ' Ibid. 452, 457-8, 468-9. 

' Ibid. 1 591-2, p. 306. ' Slatutei at Large, 8 llliz. cip. i6. 

^ Cal. S.P. Dom. 1631-3, p. 381. 'Ibid. 1633-4, p. "o. 

' Weymouth Chart, iv, 71. * Dorch. Corp. MSS. C. 9. 

' Ibid. '" Cal. S.P. Dm. 1635-6, p. 66. " Ibid. 163 1-3, p. 210, an. 1 631. 

" Notes and Queries for Som. and Dors, viii, 14. 



The nominal objects of the levy of ship-money were defence against inva- 
sion and defence against the pirates who had troubled the Dorset coast 
all through the preceding century, and whose raids were only ended by the 
sea-power of the Protectorate. It is probable that the government honestly 
believed in efforts then said to be making to invade England. A letter from 
Lord Suffolk in 1626 to the mayor and corporation of Weymouth and Mel- 
combe speaks of the preparations for an invasion by Spain from Flanders.^ 
It seems to have been caused by a letter to him from the Privy Council, to 
order him to have the militia drilled, as the king had cause to expect an 
invasion from Spain and Flanders.^ Yet, in spite of continued levies of ship- 
money, Dorset had no help against the pirates — Turkish and Algerian 
and often helped by the Dutch — whose attacks became worse, from 16 10 on. 
Weymouth often joined Exeter and Dartmouth in attempts at repelling them, 
and resort was had to petitions to the Council. In 1636 the corporation 
endeavoured to enlist the favour of Laud, who 

did protest (strikeing his hands upon his brest), that whilst hee had breath in his bodie, he 
would doe his uttmost endeavor to advance so necessary and consequential! a business . . . 
that within this twelve monethes, not a Turkish ship should be able to putt out.^ 

But nothing was done to help the county against this scourge. It was, there- 
fore, all the more irritating to find that ship-money writs continued to be 
issued, the sums demanded having increased in severity. By 2 i March, 1635, 
the sum received from the Dorset maritime towns under the writ of the 
preceding year was ^^1,400, Gloucestershire and Hampshire having paid only 
^1,000 each.* The method of procedure was to assess the county in a 
certain sum, and to make the sheriff responsible. He then divided this sum 
among the various corporate towns, and the remaining parts of the county. 
The corporate towns rated themselves and forwarded their contributions 
through their mayors. The sheriff assessed the sums to be paid by the 
various hundreds and parishes not included in the corporate towns, and 
collected from these by his ' servants' or bailiffs. So early as 1635 the men 
of Poole protested against the levy.° But about the same time Sir Thomas 
Trenchard, sheriff (remonstrated with by the Council because he had not sent 
in a note to say how the ship-money was assessed by him, and how much 
to be paid by every hundred and corporate town), replied that he had already 
paid to Sir William Russell ^^3,100, and to his own successor in office 
(John Freke) jCgoS is. bd., with a memorial of the sum still owing, 
>C99i i8j. dd. He had been delayed in returning his account by the daily 
concourse of people to pay in their moneys to him.' A list, drawn up by 
him in April, 1636, of those who had not paid, shows that Sir Walter Erie, 
afterwards Parliamentary general, owed £^t^ 6s. Sd. for lands in Morden, 
£^ 3J. for lands in Combe Aimer, and ^4 i is. for lands in Chelborough. 
Sir William Strode would not pay, but suffered his goods to be distrained.'' 
This case is the first mention of distraint. But the method was necessarily 
soon resorted to in the collection of so unpopular a tax, at a time of 
peculiar hardship, when the county was suffering severely from plague 
ravages. In the assessment of 1636 Shaftesbury paid nothing, so heavy was 

' Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. v, 581. » Weymouth Chart, iv, 56. 

' Ibid, vi, 103. * Cal. S.P. Dom. 1633-4, P- 594 

' C<7/. S.?. DuOT. 1635-6, p. 12. ' Ibid. 211, 356. ' Ibid. 395-6. 



the loss from the disease. Poole then paid ^(^30, Dorchester ^^45, Wareham 
>r25, Corfe Castle £^0, Weymouth and Melcombe £2 5^ Lyme £^0, Brid- 
port ^C^o, and Blandford £2^. This was the sheriffs own assessment, the 
mayor of Dorchester having declined, with the other mayors of the county, 
at a meeting held 23 November, 1636, to make any rate towards the ;^5,ooo 
demanded.^ John Freke, the sheriff, wrote that autumn that the money was 
paid ' like drops of blood, and some sell their only cow, which should feed 
their children, and some come to the parish.' ' Next year Richard Rogers, 
the new sheriff, took forty days ' expediting the agreements of the mayors of 
the corporate towns, and at the expiration was put to make the assessments 
himself.'' The assessment of 1637 was heavier on the towns than that of 
1636. Shaftesbury now paid ^^5, Poole £24., Wareham £2^, Corfe Castle 
^40, Weymouth and Melcombe £8^, Lyme jr4o, Bridport ^20, and 
Dorchester >C45-* Sir Walter Erie was distrained, which with the similar 
treatment of 'some great ones, reduced the rest to conformity ' for the time 
being.' By i September only ^^200 of the whole >r^,ooo was wanting. 
Arrears under the writ of 4 August, 1635, still came in, in driblets, and 
the official return of the whole arrears of the county, in October, 1637, was 
^1,200.^ But the old arrears were never all got in before new writs were 
issued, and disputes as to rating became more and more common,'' occasioning 
' more than ordinary pains and trouble.' Richard Bingham, the new sheriff, 
who endeavoured to collect under a new writ of December, 1638, found that 
the corporate towns could not agree upon their rating.' So late as 4 Feb- 
ruary, 1640, Sir John Croke, sheriff in 1639, had received no money under 
the writ of 1637, though he had 'sent throughout the whole county the 
present sheriffs schedules and warrants.' He promised to 'do his best 
endeavours to collect so much of these arrears as may be had,'' but evidently 
was not optimistic. The 'present sheriff' of Sir John's letter was William 
Churchill, who began office evidently meaning to collect all arrears." But in 
spite of his most active measures, he was as unsuccessful as his predecessors 
in collecting a tax which the county could not possibly pay, and against 
which feeling was running very high. Even in 1631 there had been 
serious rioting, and the Council wrote to the Justices of Assize to use extra- 
ordinary diligence in finding and punishing ' the offenders and encouragers 
of certain rebellions rather than riots lately committed on their circuit,' His 
Majesty charging them to proceed against the delinquents with all severity." 
Matters had not been improved by further vexatious illegalities, the tax of 
6(/. per 1 2 lb. on all the hard soap made in the county,^' and the close 
monopoly of this manufacture, the obligation imposed in 1636 on every 
alehouse-keeper to become bound in _^2o not to dress any venison, red or 
fallow, or any hares, pheasants, partridges, or heath pout,^' and the abuses in 
the collection of the ship-money itself, the common report being that nearly 
jTijOOO more was collected than was actually required.^* 

' Dorch. Corp. MSS. C. 9. * Ca,. S.P. Dom. 1636-7, p. 151. 

' Ibid. 419. * Ibid. 542. ' Ibid. 1637, p. 400. 

* Ibid. 504. ' Ibid. 150-1, and ibid. 1637-8, p. 169. 

'Ibid. 1639, p. 17. See also Dorch. Corp. MSS. 'Minute Book of Council Meetings,' 
22 Jan. 1639. 

' Cai.S.P. Dom. 1639-40, p. 426. '" Ibid. 454, 556. " Ibid. 1631-3, p. 107. 

" Ibid. 1637-8, p. 292. " Ibid. 1635-6, p. 247. " Ibid. 1637, p. 419. 



Resistance by 1640 had come to a head. The goods distrained yielded 
no money, for want of buyers. When there came buyers, the sale was a 
farce, and could not be proceeded with. Offers of 'jd. and (^d. were made 
for an ox worth ^8.^ The people also rescued their goods when distrained, 
beating off the bailiffs with bills and stones. Of ^6,000 the sheriff could, 
in half a year, get but >r300 from the entire county.^ One specimen of 
procedure will suffice : sending his servants to levy ^<^ i 2j. \d. on the goods 
of Lady Anne Ashley, on her farm at Martinstown, William Churchill, 
the sheriff, found that her servants, William and Roger Samways, came with 
violence and rescued two of her horses which had been seized. Two days 
later. Lady Anne having horses at Dorchester, the sheriffs servants en- 
deavoured to distrain them, but William Samways again violently rescued 
them, saying that Denzil Holies (M.P. for the shire, and son-in-law to the 
lady) would bear them out in what they had done, ' The places and 
parishes adjacent take notice of these attempts, and by this evil example, 
many will be drawn away and presume to do the like.'' 

At length even the civil authorities openly set their faces against 
the levy of the money. In 1 640 none of the mayors of corporate 
towns had paid in anything at all five months after the issue of the 
writ,* and the constables and bailiffs themselves refused, in many cases, 
to distrain. The Dorset troop in Yorkshire broke into something very 
like mutiny, and Sir Jacob Astley was obliged to court-martial and shoot one 
of th 

e men. 

Poole has been called the head quarters of the Parliamentary cause in 
Dorset,* but Clarendon says that there was no place in England more 
zealously Presbyterian than Dorchester.'' The citizens of the latter were 
stirred by the teaching and example of John White,* rector of Holy Trinity 
parish, a man of powerful mind and personality. From having been a 
moderate Puritan, he became an ardent Covenanter, probably in consequence 
of the petty persecution to which he was subjected by the Court of High 
Commission. In 1632 a high churchman wrote of him, 'Good men are 
shy of this man in places where he is most and best known.'* In 1635 
his letters and papers were seized, probably in his study,^" and on 10 No- 
vember, he appeared before the Court and took the oath to answer the 
articles against him." He was several times remanded for the ' insufficiency 
of his answers,' and incurred a rebuke for his non-observance of Good 
Friday." He had already shown the tendency of his mind by promoting 
and organizing the settlement of New Dorchester, near Boston, Mass. The 
Calvin of Dorchester, in November, 1640, he took the Covenant himself, 
and induced many of his fellow-townsmen to follow his example. In his 
zeal for the Puritan cause he was emulated by his friend and rival, Ezra 
Benn, who became with him during the Commonwealth one of the ' Triers ' 
for examining^' the qualifications of candidates for the cure of souls. Sir Robert 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1639-40, p. 241, and ibid. 1640, p. 599. ' Ibid. 1640, pp. 599, 551. 

Mbid. p. 536. * Ibid. 'Ibid. p. 559. 

' Hutchins, Dorset, i, 8-10. ' Hist, of the Rebellion, iv, 201. 

' Hutchins, op. cit. ii, 375, 376 ; Athen. Oxon. ii, 1 14, 1 15. 

' Cat. S.P. Dom. 1 63 1-3, p. 402. '" Ibid. 163 5-6, p. 79. 

" Ibid. p. 108. " Ibid. pp. 1 16, 125, 470, 503, 512, 513. 

" Minute Bks. Dorset Standing Committee (ed. Mayo), p. xi. Dorch. Corp. MSS. 



Foster, now the only Justice of Assize for the Western Circuit,' was warned 
of the trend of local feeling by Lord Hertford : ' I find that many of the 
gentlemen and others of this county that stand well affected to the king's 
serv^ice . . . are very apprehensive what may pass at this your assizes, few 
of them will adventure themselves into that town, being at present in such 
a posture of war.' * The report of Sir Robert himself, when he came into 
the west, was that ' the most appearance of arms was at Exeter and Dor- 
chester.' ' The town * was the rendezvous for many volunteers of the 
Parliament. In February, 1642—3, many came to Dorchester for the great 
enrolment of that month, the townsmen supplementing any shortage in their 
accoutrements.' The other Dorset towns did not thus' prepare themselves 
from the very first to take an active part in hostilities. Nevertheless the 
sympathies of Lyme, Poole, and Weymouth were always with the Parlia- 
ment. And though each in turn was later occupied by the king's troops, 
yet each made a more gallant show than the county town. In smaller 
towns, where the influence of the territorial magnate was greater than the 
development of self-government, the tendency was to take as little part as 
possible in the war. Wareham alone, dominated by the influence of Corfe 
Castle," firmly held out for the king. 

The importance of Dorset in the Civil War arose from its geographical 
position. It lay between the Royalist strongholds of the south-west and of 
Oxford. While the towns of Somerset were Parliamentarian, the fortresses 
of Sherborne and Corfe afforded keys respectively to the northern and 
southern communications with the west. On the other hand the sea-board 
towns, with their excellent harbours and proximity to the French coast, were 
of untold importance in the Royalist communications with their continental 
friends and helpers. Hence, while the county never saw any first-class 
engagement, its importance, both military and naval, never ceased during the 
whole war. 

The first move in Dorset came from Lord Hertford, who threw 
himself into Sherborne Castle immediately upon the outbreak of war.'' This 
delayed the occupation of the towns by the local Parliamentary captains, Denzil 
Holies (M.P. for Dorchester) and Sir Walter Erie (D.L. of the county). 
Under the Earl of Bedford, they besieged the castle with 7,000 foot, but 
were dispirited by the vigorous and constant sallies of Lord Hertford, and 
the mutiny and desertion of the trained bands,' who were deliberately dis- 
banded by the sheriff of Dorset,* Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, a man, 
according to Lord Hertford, ' so loyal and affectionate for His Majesty's 
service.' "^ Lord Bedford, unable to continue the siege, retired to Yeovil 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1641-3, p. 364 ; Docquets of Letters Patent (Rec. Com.), lo. 

• Cal. S.P. Dom. 1641-3, p. 371. ' Ibid. p. 375. 

• 'The magazine from whence the other places were supplied with principles of rebellion,' Clarendon, 
Hist, of the Rebellion, iv, 213. 

' Dorch. Corp. MSS. printed, Hutchins, op. cit. ii, 242. 

' On the death /. /. of William, nephew and heir of Sir Chris. Hatton, his widow married Sir Edw. 
Coke. Their only child Frances married John Villiers, brother to the Duke of Buckingham, and created 
Viscount Purbcck. Lords' Rep. on Dignity of a Peer, ^i- On Coke's death. Lady Coke and her daughter 
sold the castle to Sir Jn. Bankes, of a Cumberland family, Attorney-General 1635, Chief Justice of Com. 
Pleas, 1640. 

' Docquets of Letters Patent (Rec. Com ), 27, 28. 

' liist. MSS. Com. Rep. x, pt. i, vi, 147. Exceeding Joyful News, 6 Sept. 1642. 

• Dorch. Corp. MSS. B. 28^. '" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1641-3, p. 369. 



before a small force under Sir Ralph Hopton and Colonel Digby.^ Sherborne 
however, soon fell into the hands* of the Parliament; for Lord Hertford, 
who feared Lord Brook. ^ was about to join Lord Bedford, and learning of the 
capitulation of Portsmouth (7 September), which gave all the south into the 
hands of the Parliament, abandoned the castle, and crossed from Minehead 
into Wales. The castle was not slighted, owing to the spirited conduct 
of Lady Digby, Bedford's sister, who swore to him that if he destroyed it 
she would die with it.* 

All through that winter and spring (1642—3), when Hopton, from his 
Cornish base, was gaining successes in Devon, Charles making headway 
in the midlands, and the Parliament gradually garrisoning the towns of 
Somerset, Dorset was still unattached to the national campaign. With 
Stamford's defeat by Hopton in May at Stratton (co. Devon) Waller was 
ordered to proceed against the Royalist army of the south-west. This he 
attempted by way of Hereford. But as a counter move (19 May) Hert- 
ford and Prince Maurice left Oxford for Salisbury to join hands with Hopton 
in Devon. Early in June the two forces met at Chard. Waller was now 
at Bath, and, after his defeat at Roundway Down, Bristol surrendered to the 
victorious Royalist cavalry (26 July). This changed the fate of the Dorset 
towns. Hitherto Dorchester, Lyme, Weymouth, Melcombe, and Poole 
had been occupied by local Parliamentary troops, under Sir Walter Erie and 
Sir Thomas Trenchard ; and Portland and Wareham " being now garrisoned 
by the Parliament,* Corfe alone remained to the king. Two minor Parlia- 
mentary successes in February were the defeat of Lord Inchiquin's Irish 
regiment by the garrisons of Poole and Wareham,^ and the capture near 
Dorchester of one of Rupert's convoys with ^^3,000 ' to be sent into his 
own country.' * These had emboldened Erie and Trenchard to sit down 
before Corfe, defended by Lady Bankes. In spite of the ingenious 'filling 
their men with strong waters even to madnesse ' ' they failed to inspire in 
them sufficient berserk courage to storm the castle. Erie (who had, on that 
occasion, ' like Caesar been the only man that came sober to the assault, lest 
he should be valiant against his will ') found the presence of Prince Maurice's 
army in Blandford, in June, enough for his fears. He departed, leaving 
Trenchard and Sydenham to continue the siege. The capitulation of Bristol, 
however, meant the king's success in Dorset. Prince Maurice sent on Lord 
Carnarvon to summon the Dorset towns ; Dorchester, Weymouth, and 
Portland ^° surrendered at once, without a blow struck, Strode having told in 
Dorchester horrid tales of the valour of the Royalist soldiers." Freedom from 
plunder was one of the conditions of capitulation. But Maurice on his 
arrival from Bristol with his foot and cannon, did not respect the agreement 
entered into by Carnarvon. John White suffered severely by this cavalier 

' Vicars, Pari. Chron. 146-9. 

' It was not garrisoned by them till 20 April, 1643. Vicars, op. cit. ii, 302-4. 

' See Docquets of Letters Patent (Rec. Com.), 395. 

* Vicars, op. cit. 146-302. 

'Which had been fortified for the Parliament in March, 1 642, but had soon fallen into the king's 
hands. Vicars, op. cit. 81, 82 ; Whitelocke, Memorials, 74. 

* Rushworth, Collections, iii (ii), 684. ' Whitelocke, op. cit. 79. 

' Vicars, op. cit. 3. ' Mercurius Rusticus, 20 July, 1643. 

'° 'A place not enough understood, but of wonderful importance.' Clarendon, Hist, of the Rebellion, \\, 213. 

" Clarendon, op. cit. iv, 211-12 ; Tanner MSS. 62, fol. 218. Erie to Lenthall. 



looting, losing the whole of his library, as a revenge for his zeal in the 
popular cause.^ 

All Dorset, except Lyme and Poole, was now in the king's hands ; and 
• had not Lord Carnarvon, stung in his honourable pride, retired to the king, 
the Prince would have been compelled to follow up these victories. But 
' staying too long at Dorchester and Weymouth, he summoned Poole, which 
returned so peremptory an answer, that he declined to attack it.' " Waller, 
who had now been made general in the west to oppose Prince Maurice, 
began to take measures for its defence." But the king's forces in the west 
were affected by the unfortunate disputes of Rupert and Hertford over the 
capitulation of Bristol, and of Maurice and Carnarvon over that of Dor- 
chester. These, and the presence of the Parliamentary garrison at Plymouth, 
caused the abandonment of the advance on London. Maurice, leaving 
Poole untouched, was detailed to turn his attention to Exeter and Plymouth. 
The capitulation of Exeter (4 September) and the surrender, a few days 
previously, of Barnstaple and Bideford, had increased the importance of the 
two Dorset garrisons remaining in Parliamentary hands. In the autumn 
Poole Harbour was occupied by Lord Warwick, their admiral. But the 
former losses, together with that of Dartmouth (October 16) and the con- 
sequent danger to Plymouth, had the unlooked-for effect of forcing a 
reconciliation between Essex and Waller, the latter of whom was charged, 
at this crisis, with the raising of a western force.* 

The outcome of the summer's negotiations in English troops from 
Ireland landed at Minehead and Bristol, and the threatened landing of Irish 
soldiers themselves, caused a danger of a Parliamentary reaction in the south- 
west. Charles, with the double view of placating merchants and conveying 
his own despatches, established in November a weekly passage between Wey- 
mouth and Cherbourg.' Hopton's advance in December was checked by the 
Royalist defeats of Alton (20 December, 1643) and Cheriton (29 March, 1644).* 

On his advance Waller immediately overran Wiltshire, and occupied 
Christchurch (Hants), threatening a move on Dorset. This calamity would 
have more than offset the capture of Wareham by Hopton on his eastw^ard 
march in January, which had ' gained the king all Dorset save a sea town 
called Poole.' ^ But the city regiments declined to operate so far from their 
homes, and he, unable to advance into Dorset, had to draw back to Farnham, 
a reversion to the state of affairs before Cheriton. 

In March (1644) Maurice, declining to join the king's main army (a 
necessary step to the securing of Gloucester for the king),' blockaded Lyme 

' He was appointed one of the Assembly of Divines, i July, 164.3 ; see list in Masson's Li/e of Milton, 

* Vicars, op. cit. ii, 285 ; Clarendon, op. cit. iv, 213. ' Commons 'Journals, iii, 590 (15 Aug. 1643). 
' Agostini to the Doge, -^r°', Venetian Transcripts, P.R.O. 

' Lord Warwicli to Com'" of Both Kingdoms. 1644, 19 June. 'Weymouth has been most serviceable 
to the enemy's designs and supplies of any port in England.' Cal. S. P. Dom. 1644, p. 252. See also 
pp. 6 and 7. 

* He had wished to secure his rear, before advancing, by the capture of the Parliamentary garrisons in 
Dorset and Wilts, but was overruled by Charles, anxious for his old plan of a southern advance on Sussex and Kent. 

' Cal. S. P. Dom. 1644, p. II. The surrender of Wareham attributed to the treachery of the captain 
of the watch, and was said to have been accompanied by 'divers rapes and cruelties.' Whitelocke, op. cit. 82. 
But see S. R. Gardiner, Hist. Civ. War, \, vii. ' A reader has to be ... on his guard against stories of 
cavalier outrages, specially upon women, which are probably . . . imaginary.' 

' Walker, Historical Discourses, 7. 



with 6,000 men. In April, by Rupert's counsel, he was formally entrusted 
with the suppression ^ of the south-western resistance. Charles having 
abandoned Reading and Abingdon to Essex went (3 June) to Worcester. 
Instead of crushing him there, Essex decided to go himself to relieve Lyme, 
while Waller was to pursue the king alone. ^ The Committee of Both 
Kingdoms ordered Essex not to separate from Waller, but to send sufficient 
cavalry to relieve Lyme, and then to hasten to Oxford with his main army.* 
This letter overtook him at Blandford. He replied that, in going to relieve 
Lyme, he was only carrying out their orders, which was true.* He also 
pointed out that horse were no use in Lyme, and ' even if they could and 
should succeed. ... I know not what my army should do without the horse 
the whilst, or how the horse should ever return to my foot again.' ° A 
day or two later, while still at Blandford with 1,300 horse and foot, he 
detailed Sir William Balfour to go and occupy Weymouth. On its capture 
by Lord Carnarvon the previous summer it had been commanded by 
Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper, then still a Royalist. He was high sheriff in 
1643—4, and a commission from Charles to impress men in Dorset was 
addressed to him and to Ashburnham, who succeeded him in the governorship 
of Weymouth.* Cooper's change of side took place in the early spring of 
1644 ; ^ on 6 March, information about him came before the Committee for 
Compounding.' His reason for coming over was declared to be that ' he was 
fully satisfied that there was no intention of that side for promoting or 
preserving the Protestant religion and liberties of the kingdom.' He was 
a valuable recruit, having well-stocked property at Wimborne St. Giles worth 
>r8oo a year. He declared that he had not made known his intention to any, 
and that, a month before he heard of the Declaration (which promised life 
and liberty to all who should come in before 6 March), he delivered up his 
commissions as sheriff of Dorset and governor of Weymouth, and was resolved 
to return to the ParHament. One of the committee said that he was ' very 
cordial for the ParHament, and able to do good service by discovery of the 
enemy's designs and strength, and how to prepare against them, both at 
Poole and Wareham.' ' 

Upon the approach of the Parliamentary force William Ashburnham, 
now governor of Weymouth, garrisoned and retired into Portland Castle, 
alleging orders from Prince Maurice contingent upon such circumstances. 
Essex then himself advanced upon Weymouth, which at the request of the 
inhabitants he occupied (16 June), the Royal garrison retiring to join the 
Prince before Lyme." On the way Essex had ' delivered an elegant 
speech ' at Dorchester, and Hugh Peters ' stirred up the town to see the 
miseries of the war,' and ' that God now offered them an opportunity to 

' He was made Lieut.-Gen. of the South — including Dorset — in February ; Docquets of Letters Patent, 163. 

' A Dorset regiment (under Col. Sydenham) which Waller had with him was no more dependable, when 
far from home, than other county levies. Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, p. 220. See also S. R. Gardiner, Hht. Gt. Civ. 
War, \, 340 ; ii, 4. 

' Com. Both Kingdoms to Essex, 13 June, 1644 ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, p. 228. 

' See Committee's Letters, insisting on its relief by him ; Ap. 28, May 7, 30 ; June 3, 1 1 (bis) in Ca/. 
S.P. Dm. 1644, pp. 182-3, 138, 150, 223, 226, 198. 

' Ibid. 234. ' Docquets of Letters Patent (Rec. Com.), 75. 

' Christie, Life of the First Lord Shaftesbury, i, 47. 

' Cal. Com. Compounding, ii, 839. " Ibid. 

'" Clarendon, op. cit. iv, 496-7 ; Mercurius Aulicus, 20 June, 1644 ; Cal.S. P. Dom. 1644, p. 270. 

2 153 20 


free themselves from the barbarous invaders,' which opportunity they forth- 
with embraced.^ 

Meanvvfhile the Royal cause was losing Lyme also. On 23 May 
Warwick, had appeared off the town,' to whose defence Blake,' afterwards 
admiral of the Commonwealth, was heroically contributing. A few days 
later Warwick wrote : ' the assistance of the ships saved the town ; ' * yet the 
Prince, whose operations had lately been much hampered by the bickerings 
of his own officers,'' was not compelled to give up the siege till 15 June. 
That morning about 2 a.m. the garrison made a splendid sally. The admiral, 
writing to the Commissioners of the Navy about the men of Lyme, reported 
' they have most valiantly defended themselves,' and the women behaved no 
less gallantly.* 

Wareham, in spite of an attempt made upon it by Essex in June,' held 
out for the king until early in August. Then Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper ' 
and Colonel Sydenham ' with 1,200 horse and foot stormed the outworks, 
whereupon the town surrendered upon articles. Most of the garrison were 
sent into Ireland, Lord Inchiquin" having 'ordered his brother, Colonel 
O'Brien," to come over to his assistance, which was the occasion of so easy a 

Dorset enjoyed a temporary immunity from war in the late summer of 
this year (1644), during the western march of Essex, prior to his defeat at 
Lostwithiel (31 August). The occupation of Weymouth in June had been 
followed by the presence of the admiral in Portland Roads frustrating the 
original plans for the queen's escape. ^^ The town was not without secret 
Royalist sympathizers,^' and the admiral laboured to make the fortifications 
more secure, utilizing some beginnings made by the Royalists on the Nothe 
peninsula. He also proposed to build a fort on ' another hill on the 
Weymouth side' (Jordan Hill .?), and to add ' three small bastions' to Sands- 
foot Castle.^* Melcombe, he thought, ' being separated from the main by a 
causey only, will be sufficiently secured by a work already raised on the 
beach.' ^* He estimated the cost at jT 1,200, and the requisite number of men 
at 500, ' to which, if 200 horse be added, they will not only secure these 
towns, but also keep the county of Dorset thereabouts in awe.' The Parlia- 
ment allocated these resources for the defence of the town, the Committee of 
the West adding to them on their own account. By 18 September, ' the 
citadel is almost complete,' but ' there is still much to do.' " 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, pp. 270-1. 

'Ibid. pp. 365, 371. Hugh Peters accompanied him on this naval expedition. He preached a 
thanksgiving sermon at Lyme on its relief. 

' ' Journal of the Siege,' printed Roberts, Hist, of Lyme Re^s, 82-9. 

* Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, May 30, p. 554. ' Ibid. 160. 

' Ibid. 535 ; Prince, lyortkia of Devon, 84. ' Rushworth, Collections, iii (ii), 7S4 ; Vicars, op. cit. 285. 

' Commons fount. 10 July, 1644. 

' Of Wynford Eagle, restored this month to the post of Governor of We}-mouth, which he had held before 
the Royalist occupation. He was ' a gentleman of approved courage and industry, whose intention is to purge 
the town of all malignants ' ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644. 

'" Disappointed, Feb. 1644, in not obtaining the vacant Presidency of Munster, which was given to Lord 
Portland, he changed sides on his return to Ireland, and fought for the Parliament. 

" Made Governor on the Royalist occupation the previous January ; see Christie's Z,/;^ of Shaftesbury, \, 60. 

" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, pp. 10, 133, 263, 278, 309, 555. " Ibid. 301. 

" Built by Henry \'11I (1539), when fortifying the south coast. 

" Cal. S. P. Dom. 1644, pp. 309, 310. 

'* Ibid. pp. 461, 489, 516. 



Charles's pursuit of Essex had been made by way of Somerset, but his 
return, after Lostwithiel, was through Dorset. Early in August Rupert, 
unable himself after Marston Moor and the surrender of York to leave his 
post in the north, had sent down into the west Goring, ' that double traitor,, 
drunken, and dissolute.' The securing of Dorset against the return of the 
victorious Cavaliers became thus a necessity to the Parliament. Their horse, 
under Sir William Balfour, had escaped at Lostwithiel, and Essex himself, 
who had slipped away and gone by sea to Plymouth, had still some shreds of 
credit with the Houses. He was assured that Manchester and Waller had 
been ordered to march to Dorchester, to hold the ground till his own troops 
could be re-equipped.^ Through the intervention of Prince Maurice they were 
however unable immediately to effect the desired junction at Dorchester.^ 
But by 12 September they had joined forces. Their first step was to 
strengthen the port towns and ' block up Corfe Castle ' by an addition of 500 
men to the Wareham garrison.'* ' Then to Blandford, to endeavour the 
gathering of the Dorset and Wilts horse into a body.' Their position in 
Shaftesbury, the quarters chosen, was sufficiently insecure. The enemy were 
already near the county, the king expected daily, and Waller ' knew of 
nothing to hinder them from marching to London.'* He wrote from Poole 
(15 September), 'I have not one horse come to me out of this county to 
mount a musketeer, so that if the King advance, all I can do is to retire, before 
I be forced to run.' ' He and his colleague, Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, had in 
fact been misled by the lavish promises of troops made to them by the 
frightened people. ' All the thousands we heard of . . . are now one troop 
of horse.' * Among what troops he had disaffection was rife, and even 
desertion to the Rovalists was in the air.'' This arose from the distress, 
amounting to absolute want, among both officers and men, from long with- 
holding of pay due.' A major of horse was fain to borrow sixpence of the 
general to get his horse shod.' Waller, writing (14 November) to the 
Committee of Both Kingdoms, begged for even a fortnight's pay for ' those 
poor foot ... in Dorsetshire, which will be a great encouragement.' '" 

Nevertheless the Royalists were not much better off than was the 
Parliamentary army in East Dorset, watching their advance. So late as 
29 September, Charles had got no further than Chard, and Waller reported 
that ' though he calls in the county, yet we cannot learn that his army 
increases.' ^^ The king's march eastward was hindered, and his forces 
weakened, by the necessity of leaving men behind to block up the Parlia- 
mentary garrisons of Plymouth, Taunton, and Lyme, in order to safeguard 
his rear.'^ On 30 September he left Chard, and at South Perrott met Rupert, 
who undertook to bring up 4,000 men from Bristol to join the army at 
Sherborne.^* Charles was at Sherborne from 2 October to 8 October.^* Waller 

' Lords Journ. vi, 699. ' Cal. S. P. Dom. 1644, pp. 477, 480, 482, 486. 

' Ibid. 423, 502, 506. * Ibid. 489, 542. 

' Ibid. p. 506. ^ Ibid. 502. ' Ibid. 1644-5, p. 114. 

« Ibid. 124. Mbid. "Ibid. 135. 

" Ibid. p. 542. He himself at this time made a short expedition to Bridport (which h.-<d been held con- 
tinuously for the Parliament since the beginning of the war), ' raising the posse com.' SymoniTs Diary, 
24 Sept. 1644 (Camd. Soc). 

" Walker, Hist. Discoursa, 80-8. 

" Walker, op. cit. 98. Digby to Rupert, 20 Oct. 1644. Add. MSS. 18781, fol. 297. 

" Walker, op. cit. 165. 



was forced to fall back before him, and thus to abandon the idea of making 
him fight at Shaftesbury, to cut him off from the garrison round Oxford. 
Manchester ^ at Harefield (Hertfordshire) haggled incessantly, declining to 
join Waller at Shaftesbury, but expressing his willingness to join Essex at 

The second battle of Newbury (27 October, 1644) marks a fresh stage 
in the development of the war. It impressed upon the Parliament the 
unwisdom of trusting to local levies (which had failed as signally in Dorset 
as elsewhere), and it revealed the existence of the peace-party under Man- 
chester and Holies. The ultimate overthrow of the king, even in his 
chosen stronghold the west, was involved in the determination to reorganize 
the military forces, and in the demonstration of the impossibility of com- 
promise. The former resulted in the new model army of the following 
spring : the latter was the result of the private negotiations of Holies and 
Whitelocke with the Royalists. 

The situation in Dorset in November was marked by an even division 
of forces. The king had Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Portland, and Corfe, 
while his enemies held Lyme, Weymouth and Melcombe, Dorchester, 
Wareham, Poole, and Bridport. Of these, Shaftesbury, dominating the vale 
of Blackmoor from its hill fortress, Sherborne, the as yet impregnable castle, 
Portland peninsula, whose guns commanded the harbours of Weymouth and 
West Bay, and Corfe, strong naturally and artificially, were individually 
the more valuable assets. Dorchester, a country town in a plain, and half 
surrounded by water-meadows, was, in spite of the great sums spent upon it,* 
unable to withstand serious attack. Lyme and Poole* had suffered so 
grievously already that, as fortifications, their value was much depreciated. 
But the possession of a series of coast towns, which included all the good 
harbours in Dorset, was of more importance to the Parliament than the 
maintenance of isolated fortresses, however strong. These, at best, could do 
no more than furnish troops to harry the immediate neighbourhood, while 
Lady Bankes at Corfe had no men to spare, even for this purpose, beyond 
the bare maintenance of her hold upon the castle.* The possession of the 
seaports hindered communication with the queen at St. Germains, and drove 
a wedge between the Royalist districts of the south-west and of Hampshire. 

Many gallant sallies were made this autumn (1644) by Sir Lewis Dives, 
step-brother of Lord Digby, and step-son of Lord Bristol, to whom Sherborne 
Castle belonged. In October he ^ had been appointed serjeant-major-general 
of the king's army in Dorset, and made Sherborne his head quarters.* 
In November the well-known Vandrusques was appointed to command the 
Dorset Parliamentary Horse.'' Dorchester was more than once occupied 
by each party in turn for a day or two at a time, in the course of the autumn 
and winter : for after the fiasco of June, 1643, both sides had tacitly agreed 

' The House voted (2 1 Sept.) that Manchester and Waller should join forces against the king. Holies, 
M.P. for Dorchester, in vain urged that Essex should be included in this combination. 

' / 1 9,000 was spent on the fortifications the year before ; Hutchins, Dorset, ii, 343. 

' ' Poole was in great distress and scarcely tenable' ; Commons Journ. App. 17 (10 June, 1644). 

* Sir John Bankes died 28 Dec. 1644. 

' For the frequent omission of the final 's' in Dives or Dyves see note, Gardiner, Hist. Gi. Civil IVar, 

' Walker, Hist. Discourses, 99. ' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644-5, PP- 85> "3> 124. 



not to waste further money on fortifying such a weak position. There was 
however, no lack of valour in the inhabitants, and particularly in the 
women. ^ The two Sydenhams were Dives's protagonists in these skir- 
mishes : and after the governor of Poole (Major Sydenham) had defeated a 
troop of the queen's regiment' near Blandford ' Sir Lewis Dives dislodged 
the victors from Blandford, but returning with his own men to Dor- 
chester, was set upon at night by the rest of the Poole garrison, and ' charged 
through and through.' * 

All this winter there was talk of a Royalist ' Associated Counties,' to 
consist of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, and Dorset, which should balance 
the Parliamentary eastern association. Prince Maurice and Lord Hopton 
had for months been endeavouring to mature the scheme." But the diffi- 
culties in the way were too great to allow of its being carried out. The 
hilly character of the districts chosen, and their deep inlets of the sea * 
hindered alike easy communication and the growth of a common principle 
and sentiments. The two more eastern counties were not sufficiently stable 
in their attachment to the royal cause to make up for the presence of Parlia- 
mentary garrisons at Plymouth, Taunton, and Lyme. Yet Charles, reduced 
to catch at straws, sent down the Prince of Wales to hold court at Bristol 
in March.^ 

During the winter Goring* had been carrying on minor operations 
based upon Devon and Dorset, and culminating in the siege of Taunton. 
Waller was ordered to relieve the town (6 November, 1644) and Major- 
General Holborne had orders to push through Dorset towards it. In 
this relief column Cooper was in command of the Dorset contingent, 
which consisted of men drawn from the garrisons of Weymouth, Wareham, 
and Poole.' 

News reached Westminster on 1 2 February, that a force under Dives and 
Sir Walter Hastings, governor of Portland, had seized one of the Weymouth 
forts,^" and on 9 February had taken the town itself." The rebels entrenched 
themselves across the river in Melcombe. Goring then came up with 3,000 
horse and 1,500 foot and artillery, and took over the command. Despite the 
strategic disadvantage of their position, the mere handful of men whom he, 
with characteristic insolence and carelessness, had neglected to crush, pro- 
ceeded from Melcombe to retake the town of Weymouth, and force him 
back on Dorchester (25 February) with heavy loss.^'' On the receipt of the 
original ill news from Weymouth, Waller had been ordered to its relief ;^' 
but owing to the mutiny of his cavalry at Leatherhead he was unable to go 
further. A few days later, however. Parliamentary, and indeed national, 
feeling was far more deeply stirred by the revelation of Glamorgan's schemes, 
and on the 27th it was decided to send Cromwell himself into the west. 
Pending the organization of the New Model, which could not be put into 

' Rushworth, Coll. iii (ii), 685. Whitelocke, op. cit. 91. Vicars, iii, 286 ; Merc. Chicus, Ix, 579-80. 
' See Gardiner, op. cit. i, 326. ^ Vicars, op. cit. i, 44 ; Whitelocke, op. cit. 103. 

• Perfect Diumall, No. 71. ' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644, p. 49 ; Clarendon, Hist, of the Rebellion, ix, 6, 7. 

' See Gardiner, Hist. Gt. Civil War, i, 71. ' Clarendon, Hist, of the Rebellion, ix, 6, 7. 

' Sent down into the west, Aug. 1 644, vide supra. ' Shaftesbury Papers (P.R.O.), ii, 46. 

" Commons Joum. iv, 46 ; The True Informer, E. 269, zi. " Warburton, Prince Rupert, iii, 58. 

" Clarendon, op. cit. ix, 7-9 ; Whitelocke, op. cit. 130 ; W. M. Harvey, Hist, of the Hundred of Vf'ilky, 
91-94 ; Vicars, Burning Bush, 118. 

" Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644-5, PP- 306-7. 



the field for a few weeks yet, he was ordered to join Waller, and both to 
march to the capture of Bristol. 

All this time Goring was before Taunton. Before Cromwell came, he 
took the opportunity to make a dash for Waller at Shaftesbury and Gilling- 
ham. He ' beat up his quarters ' twice in one week, thus costing the 
Parliament the palpably exaggerated loss of a thousand men.^ A slight 
success of Goring's over Cromwell the same month (March, 1645) was also 
exaggerated by the Royalists till it became a defeat of some magnitude.* 
Tradition of a Cromwellian skirmish lingers still at Fordington.* The 
Royalists made it into a defeat of Cromwell, with all his own horse and the 
united forces from Taunton, Poole, and Weymouth, 4,000 in all, Goring's 
own numbers being put at 1,500.* But Goring was notoriously untrust- 
worthy, particularly where his vanity was concerned, and even Clarendon 
makes but little of it.^ It is true that Goring received congratulations on his 
victory* from Sir Francis Mackworth ; but Mackworth had at this time 
need of his help in procuring supplies. Cromwell himself, not needing the 
support of exaggeration or falsehood, though he does not mention this 
particular skirmish, tells a different tale of a few days later : ' General Goring 
would not stand us, but marched away upon our appearance.'^ 

Waller gave up his command 17 April (1645), at his own earnest wish 
and in obedience to the Second Self-Denying Ordinance, and took his seat 
in the House. Early in May Goring left Somerset to join the king at 
Oxford. Fairfax, in command of the New Model, arrived at Blandford on 
the 7th, marching to the relief of Taunton.' Meanwhile Charles and Rupert 
marched freely out of Oxford to go north ; Fairfax was sent back to besiege 
Oxford, and Goring went back as supreme Royalist commander in the west. 

Even there the king's star was waning. After Naseby (13 June) it was 
a question how long he could continue to keep an army in the field. The 
reorganization of the Parliamentary forces had been but the last link in a 
chain which began with the resentment against plunderings of the royal 
troops. And in the west the summer of 1645 was memorable for the 
struggle between the representatives of these two forces. The New Model 
Army, which expressed dependence upon the professional soldier, and not the 
county levy, had to contend with the Clubmen, who originated in hostility 
to the war as it affected non-combatants.' The movement known as that of 
the Clubmen was strongest in the three south-western counties of Dorset, 
Wilts, and Somerset. In Somerset it was not in line with the feeling in Dorset 

' Clarendon, op. cit. ix. 

^ Merc. Aulk. 29 March, App. 11, 12, 19 : ' Mercurius Aulicus, the Oxford organ, remains untrust- 
worthy to the end ' ; Gardiner, His!. Gt. Civil fFar, i, p. vi. 

* Moule, Old Dorset, 199. See Ludloiv Memoirs (ed. Firth), i, 471. 

' Goring to Culpepper, 30 March, 1645, gives the same figures. Clarendon MSS. No. 1856. The 
account in Mercurius Aulicus is taken in ioto from this letter. 

* Hist, of the RebeKon, v, 143 (ed. 1826). ' Clarendon MSS. No. 1855. 
^Cromwell's Letters (ed. 1888). Letter xix, 130. See also Carte, Ormonde Papers, i, 79; Commons Joum. 

9 April, 1645 ; Whitelocke, op. cit. 411-12 ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1644-5, PP- 376> 3^4, 393- 

*' The state of Dorset when H.E. Sir Thomas Fairfax marched forth. The king had Portland Castle 
and Island, Corfe Castle and Sherborne Castle. The Parliament had the port towns of Poole, Lyme, and 
Weymouth.' S'pixggc, Anglia Rediviva, x\\, 16, 17. 

* For the presence of foreign mercenaries in Dorset among the royal troops, see Clarendon MSS. 1738 
(4); Whitelocke, Memoirs, 171 ; Cal. S.P. Dom. 1643, 24 Nov.; Merc. AuRc. 3 Oct. 1644. A Copie of the 
King's Message, 1644 (printed by the Dorset Standing Committee, and obviously unfair). For similar evils 
from the other side see the admissions of Essex in Cal. S.P. Dom. 1642, p. 402, and ibid. 1644, p. 335. 



and Wilts,^ In Dorset it was serious and widcsprcading ; although it had 
seen no pitched battle of importance, the county had borne the brunt of the 
war, being constantly occupied by both parties ' ; and many marches to or 
from Devon were deflected into the county owing to the necessity of 
attacking or preserving communication with its seaports. Determination to 
declare neutrality and support it by force of arms was thus the original and 
ostensible cause of the rise of this third party. One of their banners bore 
the words : 

If you offer to plunder, or take our cattel, 
Be assured we will bid you battel.' 

The regulations which they drew up to govern their own conduct* show 
that the rank and file of the Clubmen were simple unlettered countrymen ; but 
their leaders were not of the same stamp. They fall into two classes. The 
typical ' younger brother out of means,' ^ with everything to win and nothing 
to lose, was drawn for the most part from a social stratum between that of 
the gentry, who were mainly Royalist, and the shop-keeping classes. The 
latter, having a shrewd political judgement, and a financial stake in the 
county, yet little sense of family, tended towards Parliamentarianism. There 
were also present certain avowedly Royalist divines,' who, among an uneducated 
rabble, would necessarily have some authority. But though the bona fides of 
the mass of Clubmen was undoubted, their aim was higher than to enforce 
the neutrality of certain districts. They wished to 'give a law to either 
side,' ^ and desired that the garrisons of Dorset and Wiltshire should be 
put into their hands 'till the King and Parliament agreed about their disposal.' 
They further sent a petition to the king* begging him to ' lend his most 
favourable ear ' to renewed peace proposals, when he should be invited 
thereto by both Houses, ' for which Proposalls the Petitioners have made 
their addresses unto them.' 

Such a force was, however, bound to become the tool of one of the 
existing parties. Circumstances contributed early to throw the Dorset and 
Wiltshire Clubmen into the arms of the Royalists. 

In Dorset there was no Royalist army under Goring to plunder the homesteads of the 
people : and the garrisons, being commanded by the gentry of the county, . . . were not 
likely to commit outrages, as long as the contributions for their support were regularly paid.' 

The initial vague tolerance of the Parliament^" was outweighed by a disastrous 
affray at Sturminster Newton (29 June, 1645) with Massey's men, and by 
the encouragement of the immediate advisers of the king." In July the Club- 
men made a hostile attack on the garrison of Lyme. ^^ On Fairfax's arrival at 
Dorchester (3 July) with the New Model, after Naseby,^' he was met by a 

' See Clarendon MSS. 1894, and Perfect Occurrences, 30 June, 164.5; also Gardiner, Hist. Gt. Civil ff^ar, 
ii, 264-5. 

'' 'The Humble Petition of the Inhabitants of Dorset ... 8 July, 1645.' Oxford, 1645. 

^ Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, 89. 

* ' The Desires and Resolutions of the Clubmen of the Counties of Dorset and Wilts ' ; B.M. King's 
Pamphlets, 102, 47. 

' 'A List of the Country Gentlemen called the Leaders of the Clubmen for Dorset,' 1645. 

^ Sprigge, jinglia Rediviva, 64. ' Ibid. 65. 

' ' The Humble Petition,' &c. vide supra. 

' G.irdiner, Hist. Gt. Civil War, ii, 305. '° Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, 7. 

" Clarendon, op. cit. v, 196-7, 199 ; Sprigge, op. cit. 63, 90. 

" Whitelocke, Memorials, 131, and ii, 156. " Sprigge, op. cit. xi. 



menacing deputation of Clubmen, and also by Colonel Sydenham, governor of 
Weymouth, with urgent accounts of the danger from 'these club risers.'* 
Fairfax himself considered them, in spite of their ostensible neutrality, inclined 
to Royalism.' Next day Fairfax, at Beaminster (burned ' by Prince Maurice, 
by reason of a falling out between the French and Cornish'),' heard that 
Goring had finally abandoned the siege of Taunton. On the loth Fairfax 
routed him at Langport, and on the 23rd Bridgwater surrendered. The 
Parliamentary forces in Dorset had now only to reduce Sherborne Castle 
and disperse the Clubmen, for Corfe, now as ever, remained outside the general 
campaign. Till this was done, however, the army could not with safety turn 
to the conquest of the districts west of the Parret. At a council of war 
(25 July) it was decided to begin both operations at once.* On Friday, i, 
and Saturday, 2 August, Cromwell and Fairfax together viewed the castle and 
its defences. At the second inspection they ' conceived the place might 
shortly be reduced.' The siege was begun, but it was decided not to attempt 
assault till after the reduction of the Clubmen. These, hearing of the strict 
blockade of their ally, who had with him his own regiment, 150 veterans, 
and some horse, assembled in force that Saturday, 2 August, at Shaftesbury, 
intending to drive off Cromwell and Fairfax.^ Having information of their 
meeting places, Cromwell sent Fleetwood with 1,000 horse to surround the 
town. About fifty of the leaders were captured.* On the following Monday 
Cromwell marched himself towards Shaftesbury, no doubt to intercept that 
body of Clubmen whose appointed meeting at Sutton Waldron had been 
accidentally revealed to him.^ His scouts discovered a party encamped on 
Duncliff Hill, a place ' full of wood and almost inaccessible.'* Resolving not 
to hazard men under such conditions, he sent word to parley. He went him- 
self up the hill alone, and pointing out the error of their ways, ended by a 
successful appeal to their pockets. They were either convinced by his argu- 
ments or dismayed by his firmness, for they dispersed and went quietly to 
their homes.' The next day he found a further and more formidable force of 
about 4,000 entrenched in an ' old Romane work ' on Hambledon Hill, near 
Shroton (Iwerne Courtney). Again he attempted parley, but through the 
determined action of Mr. Bravell, minister of Compton,^" who said ' he would 
pistoll them that gave back,' they refused a peaceful settlement. They 
repulsed a direct charge ; but, Desborough taking them in the rear, some 
fled, many were made prisoners. These were quartered that night in the 
church at Shroton, and Cromwell, who tried his eloquence upon them, 'made 
them confess they saw themselves misled.'" 

* Sprigge, op. cit. 62. ' Ludlow, Memoirs, \, 473-4. 

' Sprigge, op. cit. 66-7. Its rebuilding was ordered to be paid for out of the estate of George Penny, a 
recusant of Toller, 9 Jan. 1646. Minute Bis. of Dorset Standing Com. 140, 271 (ed. Mayo). 'The 
Dorset Committee is the only County Committee whose records are now available.' Gardiner, Hist. 
Gt. Civil War, iii, 200. * Sprigge, Ang. Rediv. 83. ' Carlyle, Cromwell, i, 221. 

' Sprigge, op. cit. 86. 'A List of the Country Gentlemen,' &c. 

' See the letter to Col. Bingham, printed Hutchins, i, 13. * Warne, And. Dorset, 67. 

' Sprigge, op. cit. 86-7 ; CromwelPs Letters (ed. 1846), p. 141 ; Whitelocke, Memorials, 159. 

'" Whom Sprigge calls the leader of the movement, lable of the Motion of the Army. He was seques- 
trated for joining the Clubmen, but was later restored (Triers : J. White, W. Benn, Symon Forde) on submission 
to the ' discipline of the Church of England as it is established.' See Min. Bks. of Dorset Standing Committee, 
II, 19, 45, 58, 220, 232. 

" Sprigge, op. cit. 88 ; Carlyle, Cromwell's Letter, rot. 'Two Great Victories.' 'Two Letters.' 'The 
Proceedings of the Army.' 



Cannon from Portsmouth and miners from Mendip set to work on the 
1 2th, and by the 15th forced Dives to surrender Sherborne Castle. It was an 
irreparable loss to Charles, for with it he lost many officers, gentlemen, and 
soldiers, valuable artillery and arms, and many important papers, which, 
immediately published by the Parliament, did much harm to his cause.^ In 
October the castle was utterly demolished. 

The fall of Sherborne gave to the Parliamentary generals the command 
of the North Dorset route to the west ; and with Bristol (surrendered 
1 1 September) it completed the chain of fortresses from the Channel to the 
Severn which hemmed in the king's Devon and Cornish forces, rendering 
them valueless through inability to co-operate with those of the Oxfordshire 
district. So far as the south-west was concerned, the strategy of the winter 
of 1645—6 depended on this cordon drawn from Bristol to Lyme. The siege 
and fall of Corfe Castle was no integral part of these operations. But the 
grandeur of Lady Bankes's resistance and the pathos of her surrender have 
given to the episode a prominence disproportionate with its historical setting. 
In June (1645), after the receipt of the news of Naseby, Captain Butler, 
governor of Wareham, had straitened the siege, A month earlier Cooper had 
been ordered to ' sufficiently block it up ' with a force drawn from the 
garrisons of Poole, Wareham, Lulworth, and Weymouth.^ Three of the 
signatories of this document are Dorset men : Denis Bond, Denzil Holies, 
and Thomas Erie. But Cooper's own opinion of the right method of dealing 
with the fortress had been strongly expressed the previous November : ' A 
few foot in Lulworth with a troop of horse will keep Corfe far better than 
Wareham.'^ In September a party of horse from Oxford made an unsuccessful 
attempt at relief.* In October, Bingham, governor of Poole, drew the 
blockade closer, and in December he was reinforced by 400 men from Fairfax,^ 
now engaged in the subjugation of Devon and Cornwall. The garrison at 
Chichester, commanded by Algernon Sidney, contributed 100 foot to the 
siege in February,' and on the loth Pitman, one of the officers of the garrison 
who had formerly served under Lord Inchiquin, offered to betray the castle 
to the Parliament. The offisr was accepted, and the castle was taken, by this 
treachery, 26 February .'^ Sprigge gives forty-eight days as the length of this 
second siege, and puts Lady Bankes's losses at eleven killed.* The castle 
was deliberately slighted on its capture.' 

After the Battle of Worcester and the well-known episode in the oak 
tree. Prince Charles came to Colonel Wyndham's house in South Somerset. 
Here he remained some while in hiding, hoping to effisct an escape by one 
of the Dorset ports. Sir John Strangways of Melbury and his son both 
attempted, but in vain, to arrange for the escape of the royal fugitive. At 
length Colonel Wyndham managed to prepare all for the Prince's departure 
from Charmouth. The plan, however, miscarried through the aroused 

' Sprigge, Table ef the Motion of the Army, and Ang. Rediv. 75-6 ; Whitelocke, op. cit. 1 5 2-3 ; Vicars, 
iii, 255, 257-9 ; Rushworth, op. cit. iv, i, 59, 64, 77-8, 82, 88. 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645. ' Christie, Shaftabury, \, 70. 

* Ludlow, Memoirs, i, 131 ; Sprigge, op. cit. 188, 194 ; Whitelocke, op. cit. i, 5 7 1, 580. 

' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1645-7, PP- '^o, 281, 269, 319. ^ Ibid. 348. 

' Vicars, op. cit. 4, 372-3. * Tab/e of the Motion of the Army. 

" Engl. Towns and Districts, 149. Mr. Freeman apparently imagines the havoc wrought on the building 
to have been entirely due to siege operations. 

2 l6l 21 


suspicions of the wife of the sailing-master upon whom all depended. The 
Prince and Wyndham spent an anxious night at Charmouth, and got safely 
away in the morning, owing to the dilatoriness of the parson Bartholomew 
Wesley,^ great-great-grandfather of John Wesley. From Charmouth they 
rode to Bridport (a journey said to be commemorated in the local field-name 
' Girtups ') and thence on to Broadwindsor. Here they took shelter with a 
Royalist inn-keeper and his wife. Forty Parliamentarian troopers came to 
quarter in the very inn where they were, but while these slept the fugitives 
got away to Trent. Thence Charles went to Salisbury, and so after many 
adventures to the continent.' 

The Royalist rising in the west in 1655 was not joined by any very 
large body of Dorset men. On the other hand, there can be no doubt 
that an appreciable Royalist sentiment did exist at that time in north-east 
Dorset, stimulated probably by dislike of existing militarism. On Sun- 
day, II March, 1654—5, 100 men, under the leadership of Sir Joseph 
WagstafFe, Colonel John Penruddock, and Mr. Hugh Grove, met at 
Clarendon Park, 3 miles from Salisbury. The leaders were all Wiltshire 
men, though Penruddock's mother was the daughter of John Frcke of 
Iwerne Courtney and Melcombe, a well-known Dorset family. From 
Clarendon Park they rode to Blandford, where they were joined by eighty 
more men. Having vainly waited for further reinforcements, the whole 
force, now numbering nearly two hundred, rode back to Salisbury, and early 
on the Monday morning occupied the town, seizing the judges in their beds, 
for the western assizes were then on. Penruddock proclaimed Charles II. 
Again failing to attract recruits, they decided to make for Devon and 
Cornwall, hoping to get shelter with their friends, or at the worst to escape 
by sea. They took the road through Downton to Blandford, which they 
reached on Monday afternoon. Here 

Penruddocke forced the crier to go to the Market Cross, to proclaim Charles Stuart King, 
who made 'Ho Yes' four times, but still when Penruddock (who dictated to him) said 
Charles II King, he the crier stopped, and said he could not say that word, and he was every 
time much beaten by them and yet told them they might kill him, but he could not say that 
word, though they should call for faggots and burn him presently ; his constancy and faith- 
fulness is taken notice of.' 

From Blandford they rode to Sherborne, where they stayed two hours, and 
then to Babylon Hill, east of Yeovil ; they entered Yeovil at i p.m. on Tues- 
day. Going by Cullompton, 10 miles only from Exeter, they were attacked by 
Crook at South Molton with a detachment of the Exeter garrison. Thinned 
in numbers, and disheartened, after some stand they surrendered, late on the 
Wednesday evening.* 

By Friday, the i6th, the indefatigable Desborough, major-general of the 
western counties, had arrived at Shaftesbury. He garrisoned Bridport to 
prevent escape,^ and wrote at once to the sheriffs of the five counties to appre- 

' Gentltmon's Mag. Ix, 427. 

' See Hutchins, ii, 218. The Bcscobel Tracts, ed. J. Hughes {1857). W. Wilson, Life and Times of 
Daniel Defoe, \, 1 12. Pulman, The Book of the Axe, 212 (4th. ed.). Pnc. Dors. Field Club, viii, 9-28. 
l\otes and Queries for Som. and Dors., i, 80, 136-7 ; iii, 306 ; iv, 6 ; v, 150, 216. 

' Perfect Proceedings, 29 March to 6 April, 1654-5. 

' See the account in ff'ilts. Arch. Mag. 3utxviii, 135, sqq. W. W. Ravenhill. ' Thurloe Papers, iii, 263. 



hend all suspicious persons, and to the justices of the peace to make diligent 
inquiries what persons had been absent from their habitations within the 
space of ten days past. He sent to Cromwell, a few days later, from Taunton, 
a list of the prisoners.^ Out of a total of 109 names twenty-four came from 
Dorset. Nineteen of these were imprisoned at Exeter, and five at Taunton. 
Only three 'gentlemen' appear in the list, namely Thomas Fitzjames 
of 'Henley' (Sixpenny Handley), James Huish of Kimmeridge, and Oxen- 
bridge Fowell of Cerne Abbas. The rest are a very representative list of 
tradesmen (two clothiers, a tailor, a tanner, two weavers, a tapster, a miller, 
a cooper, two feltmakers, a baker, a chapman, and a currier), with a gardener, 
three husbandmen, and a warrener. 

The spring circuit had been interrupted at Salisbury. The assizes were 
to have been held at Dorchester 15 March. It appears that they were 
omitted altogether that spring; but the prisoners were proceeded against by a 
regular commission of oyer and terminer, and by no extraordinary court. 
The court was to sit at New Sarum i i April, at Exeter on the i8th, and at 
Chard on the 2 3rd.^ Some of the commissioners and the Attorney-General 
did go to Dorchester, but it was merely to rest over Sunday on their way to 
Exeter. On the return journey they stopped at Chard, and returned thence 
to London. Practically all the prisoners came from north-east Dorset, 
mostly from the Blandford and Sherborne district. One, however, came from 
Kimmeridge, and one from Cerne Abbas. St. Loe, though wrongly described 
in the indictment as of Salisbury, was a Dorset man. He had been taken 
up to London at once on his capture. On his examination' he implicated 
also Captain Twyne, who lived near Blandford, and Captain Kirles of Wood- 
yates. Arthur Collens of the Isle of Purbeck, who had been servant to 
Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, was also examined in London.* The Attorney-General 
was Edmund Prideaux, member for Lyme, and a friend of Ludlow's. The 
first junior counsel for the Government was Roger, who had been member 
for Bridport in 1645. ^^ ^he Dorset prisoners tried at Salisbury William 
Willoughby was the most interesting.^ An old man, he had had no hand in 
the plot, such as it was ; but friendship had caused him to try to rescue one 
of the Royalists, and he was apprehended with the rest. 

After the trials at Salisbury, the court, on its way to Exeter, stopped at 
Dorchester, spending Sunday, 15 April, there. Prideaux wrote to Thurloe 
that day : ' I will give you a little account of some passages this day at 
church. Mr. Gower in his prayer after sermon blessed God for suppressing 
these people, and prayed the Lord to direct the judges that justice might be 
done. Mr. Bence (Benn ?) in his prayers in the afternoon said that a treason 
was plotted, but blessed the Lord that nothing came to execution but the 
traitors.' ' 

The Dorset prisoners tried at Exeter were Thomas Fitzjames of Handley, 
and Robert Harris of Blandford, who were pronounced guilty by verdict ; 
William Wake of Blandford, Charles Haviland of Langton, and Nicholas 
(Richard .?) Broadgate of Blandford Forum all three confessed to the 

' IVilts. Arch. Mag. xxxviii, 139. ' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, pp. 90, 91, 97, 112, 114. 

' Thurhe Papers, iii, 314. IVilts. Arch. Mag. xxxviii, 147. 

* Perfect Diurnall, 26 March to 2 April, 1654-5. 

' Coker's Fisitation of Dorset (Harl. Soc), xx, 99, 100. ' Thurloe Papers, iii, 379 



fact upon their arraignment. All five were condemned to death.^ Various 
persons sympathetic to the rebellion were examined at Maiden Newton in 
July.* Apparently there had been some vague idea of seizing the town of 
Poole, for in May the justices of the peace were ordered to take bail of such 
as were taken upon this design.' The finances of the Monthly Assessment 
Commissioner were thrown into confusion by the seizure, during the insurrec- 
tion, of £i2 assessment money from Blandford, Sherborne, and other places.* 
There is ample material for ascertaining the working of the civil 
administration during this period, for the minute books of the Dorset 
Standing Committee have now been printed.* They are the only records of 
such a county committee now available. The committee grew out of the 
ordinance of 31 May, 1643, for the appointment of county committees to 
sequestrate the estates of delinquents. It was placed upon a working basis 
and its powers defined 19 August, 1643. Since the preceding March it had 
had a more or less informal existence, its sole object having then been to 
raise money. ^ It consisted of seventeen members for the county, among 
whom were the M.P.'s for Dorchester, Lyme, and Melcombe (Denis Bond, 
Richard Rose, and William Sydenham), of eight members for the town and 
county of Poole (the mayor and seven aldermen), and of three for the town 
of Dorchester (the mayor and ex officio two aldermen). The committee 
had assessed the county in a weekly sum on 3 August.'^ A month later the 
powers of county committees were extended by the Commons to the exami- 
nation of witnesses against ' scandalous ministers ' and those who had left 
their cures and joined the king's troops.* The following year (i July, 
1644) the committee was invested with comprehensive powers. It was now 
empowered to administer the ordinances' for the taking of the covenant, for 
the payment of fifths and twentieths, for sequestrations, for weekly assess- 
ments, and for the general maintenance of order and of freedom from 
plunder. Meanwhile the personnel was slightly different from that of the 
former committee, the Earls of Gloucester and Elgin having been added, and, 
while all the prominent members of the old committee had been retained, 
the numbers had been increased, but a few aldermen had dropped out, and 
Dorchester was no longer officially represented. 

The Association Ordinance for the Five Western Counties was passed 
19 August, 1644 ; by it, to the committee of i July were added the Earls of 
Northumberland and Pembroke, John Lord Roberts, and Thomas Lord Bruce, 
and the members of Parliament for the county and for each borough. The 
county was assessed by the committee (18 October) for the relief of the 
army in Ireland at a weekly sum of ^"ji 6s. %d., while the contribution of 
Poole was fixed at i 6j. 8^. But by the following summer (26 August, 1645) 
the committee decided to put in force a weekly assessment for six months of 
only /43 js. lod'. from the county and £^ from Poole.'" 

' An Act for the Better Ordering and Managing the Estates of Papists 
and Delinquents' was passed 25 January, 1649—50, which" resulted in a 

' If'Uts. Arch. Mag. xxx\iii, 25;, 299. ' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1655, p. 249. ' Ibid. 162. 

' Ibid. 1655-6, 26 Sept. ' By Canon Mayo. 

'' Scobell, Coll. of Jets and Ordinances, 1658, xriiii ; Lords Jcurn. v, 632 ; Husband, Coll. of PubRc Orders, 
1646, p. 9. ' Husband, op. cit. App. 4. " Ibid. 311; Walker, bufferings of the Cler^, i, 74. 

' Lords Jcurn. vi, 61 2 ; Husband, op. cit. 514. 
'" Husband, op. cit. 563. " Scobell, op. cit. 101. 



new sequestrating body for Dorset. This continued' till 14 March, 1653—4, 
when, in consequence of an Act of the previous February,'' one of their 
number. Dewy, was appointed sub-commissioner in the county.* 

The functions of the committees had been varied. They included the 
seizing and scheduling of the real and personal estates of delinquents, the 
control over payments made by the treasurer of the county, the grant of 
compensation for damages, assessment and rating of obligations, and the 
alteration of such assessments. The committee also administered the 
National Covenant, and gave probate of wills. It controlled the county 
levies, and in 1647 (6 May) disbanded the county troop, raising two new 
troops of horse in 1648 (6 July),* and disbanding them again in November.^ 
The committee had complete control of ecclesiastical affairs, administering 
the directory, examining into the delinquency of incumbents (an office 
delegated for convenience to certain unofficial sub-committees of 'Triers'), 
filling the places of sequestered clergy, and administering * not only the 
benefices and the schools, but concerning themselves with details of appoint- 
ments of parish clerks, repair of the churches and parsonages, and storage of 
the church keys. 

In May, 1660, an address of congratulation to the king on his Restora- 
tion, ' numerously signed,' was sent from Dorset.^ But almost immediately 
signs of the old spirit began to come to light. These were invariably 
connected with the religious question. In February, 1661, John Wesley 
(great-grandfather of the famous Methodist), vicar of Winterborne Whit- 
church, was informed against for ' diabolically railing against the late king 
and his posterity, and praising Cromwell.' ' The three deputy lieutenants of 
Dorset and Somerset had by this time ' just cause of suspicion of a general 
disturbance,' and feared lest the disaffected should assist one another." 
Walter Stone of Sherborne prophesied a rising before November, and said 
that though only fifty of that town were in the plot the old soldiers would 
join.^" Next year ' the sectaries boast that they shall have their day soon, a 
rising in Somerset and Dorset is daily expected.' " The severities of the 
Clarendon Code, however, reduced the malcontents to outward submission, 
and it was reported in October, 1664, that all was again peaceable. The 
Dissenters had indeed suffered greatly. The Quakers again fell victims, 
two hundred of them being imprisoned in Dorset in 1662.'' In Decem- 
ber, 1664, out of nine Nonconformist ministers at Dorchester five had 
been imprisoned upon suspicion of being implicated in the ' plot ' above 
mentioned. Six ministers and seventy other persons were then in prison for 
Nonconformity. ' The town,' it was said, ' is most factious, and has daily 
conventicles.' ^' Loyalty to the Stuarts, never very marked, was for the 
moment strengthened by the issue of the Declaration of Indulgence 
(15 March, 1672). A large number of nonconforming ministers instantly 
availed themselves of it at Dorchester.'* Charles II was received with much 

' Cal. CommUtei fir Compounding (1643), xiv ; C. H. Mayo, op. cit. xxii. 

' Scobell, op. cit. 278. ^ Thurke Papers, iii, 263. 

* Min. Bb. Dors. Com. fol. 205, 252;printedMayo, 208, 273. ' Fol. 125, 159; Mayo, 408, 471. 

'^ Jt'ey mouth Chart, vii, 22-4. ' Cal. S.P. Dom. 1 660- 1, p. 4. 

' Ibid. 504. = Ibid. 1661-2, p. 439. '° Ibid. 526. 

" Ibid. 1663-4, P- 'SO- " ibid. 1661-2, p. 426. " Ibid. 1664-5, P- ^O- 

" Dorch. Corp. MSS. c. 15, under dates 17 May, 4 April, 8 May, &c. 1672. 



loyalty when he came to Dorset during the plague-scare of 1665,^ and 
in 1683 there were loyal rejoicings over his escape from the Rye House 
Plot.' Yet there was much sore feeling about the tampering with borough 
charters which marked the last years of his reign. In 1662 Charles had 
caused a Quo Warranto to be brought against Dorchester, which seems, 
however, to have been successfully resisted.' In i 677 Charles granted a new 
charter to Shaftesbury, as the result of a Quo Warranto brought concerning 
the privileges of the borough.* It is more precisely worded than that of 
1604, and contains two clauses ensuring the taking of the oaths of obedience 
and supremacy by all members of the corporation and their officers, and the 
reservation to the crown of power to declare void the election of any recorder 
or town clerk, in which case the mayor and burgesses are to proceed to the 
election of another in his stead. In 1684 Charles attempted to set aside 
this charter, and issued letters patent providing a process for removal of the 
mayor, recorder, town clerk, or any of the capital burgesses, by Orders in 
Council, in return for substantial trading privileges. But the charter was 
never surrendered, and James II, in dealing with the town, did not grant it a 
new charter, but only acted under one of the clauses of the letters patent 
of 1684.* 

Lyme had, at the Restoration, professed strong loyalist sentiments, but 
shortly succumbed to nonconforming influences.* In 1684, warned by the 
example of Shaftesbury, the corporation decided freely to surrender their 
charter without waiting for a Quo Warranto. In December, only six weeks 
before his death, Charles granted a new charter, but without calling in or 
taking a surrender of any of the former charters.^ In 1687 James II brought 
a Quo Warranto against Weymouth ; the town clerk was ordered to ride to 
London and plead the charter, with apparent success." 

The ancient strongly Protestant feeling was still alive, encouraged no 
doubt by the presence of Holies, who lived near Dorchester still, and was 
very popular.' Monmouth, who had accompanied Charles II on his 
visit in 1665, had been very well received in Dorset. He landed at Lyme 
(11 June, 1685), and lingered there a fortnight, 'training and animating his 
men,' ^^ instead of pushing on at once to Exeter or Bristol. The men of 
Lyme received him with great rejoicings, and recruits poured in from all 
sides. In his grateful enthusiasm, he was moved to write — 

Lyme, although a little place, 

I think it wondrous pretty ; 
If 'tis my fate to wear the crown, 

I'll make of it a city.^^ 

The militia of Dorset and Somerset, hastily called out, assembled at Brid- 
port, where on the 14th they were attacked by part of Monmouth's force. 
This was defeated, and retired on Lyme. Meanwhile George Alford, mayor 
of Lyme (who had been forward, as an ex-royalist, to avenge himself after 

' Hutchins, Dorset, i, 14 ; Weymouth Chart, v, 61. ' Weymouth Chart, v, 64. 

'Dorch. Corp. MSS. c. 15. 

' Hutchins, op. cit. iii, 104-12 ; Mayo, Shaston Records, 10, II. ' Mayo, Shaston Records, 12, 13. 

• Roberts, Hist. Lyme, 120-1. ' Ibid. 122. 

' Weymouth Chart, iii, 141, and p. 122. 

' Dorch. Corp. Minute Bk. 28 Oct. 1661 ; 19 June, 1668. '" Burnet, Hist. (ed. 1724), i, 641. 

" Quoted Roberts, Hist. Lyme, 152. 



the Restoration upon the Independents of the borough, and who had waited 
upon Charles II in 1684 about the surrender of the charter^), had ridden to 
Honiton and to London to raise the alarm.'' On the 18 th Monmouth marched 
to Taunton. 

After Sedgemoor, making his way towards Hampshire he was captured at 
Woodyates, just within the Dorset boundary, the horses having failed in 
Cranborne Chase.' Lord Lumley's scouts — sent out all over Dorset — had 
done their work. 

Kirke and his 'Lambs' did not, it is true, make Dorsetshire the scene of 
their operations. But the vengeance of James, though delayed till Jeffreys 
appeared, was not less certain. Early in September, the day after the 
execution of Alice, styled Lady Lisle, Jeffreys came to Dorchester.* A copy 
survives of the Presentment to the Court at these ' Bloody Assizes,' made for 
one of the four judges, or for the Clerk of the Assize.' Two hundred and 
fifty-one were sentenced at Dorchester ; they were drawn from each of the 
coast towns, with twelve from Sherborne." A terrible ' Butchers' Bill,' 
methodically calculated, in the manuscripts of the Weymouth Corporation,^ 
testifies to their sufferings. But in Dorset, as elsewhere, the rebels were 
entirely confined to the middle and lower classes, none of the gentry supporting 

Dorset was no better satisfied with the accession of William and Mary 
than it had been with the return of the Stuarts. There was no active 
sedition, but a certain amount of quiet non-juring, and one may suspect 
much concealed dissatisfaction. Weymouth, which in 1662 had restored 
certain Royalist aldermen displaced in 1 648,' suffered disqualification of no 
less than seventeen aldermen and capital burgesses, through their not taking 
the oaths under William and Mary." At the same time Howson, minister of 
All Saints, Dorchester, wrote : ' Our little government of this borough is 
composed of very ill members, who have been very backward in all public 
demonstration of joy, either for His Majesty's glorious accession, or his success 
against his enemies.' " 

In 1705 Defoe was concerned in scheming for Harley, apparently of no 
very dangerous or matured character, his correspondent and accomplice at 
Weymouth being a certain Fenner, a dissenting minister. Jonathan Edwards 
(the Anglican, not the American divine) was also concerned in it. The 
bearer of letters between them, James Turner of the Diligence privateer, 
turned queen's evidence, and they were all included in a warrant to bring 
them to Dorchester, as having received traitorous letters.^' Defoe speaks of 
the matter in his Review of the Affairs of France}^ 

' Roberts Hist. Lyme, 121, 122. ' Lords Joum. 13 June, 1685. 

' 'Account of the Manner of Taking the late Duke of Monmouth.' -\^^ B.M. ; Burnet, Hist. \, 644. 

* See 'A Relation of the Great Sufferings of H. Pitman,' reprinted in Arber's English Gamer, 337. 

' B.M. Add. MS. 30077. 

' Account of the Proceedings against the Rebels '^^-. A list of the names of the Rebels ~^. 

' Weymouth Chart, (ed. Moule), p. 85. 

' Broadsides illustrating the history of the rebellion in Dorset are printed in cxtenso in Somers. and Dors. 
Notes and Queries, viii, 160 et seq. ; viii, 224 et seq. ; viii, 342 et scq. 

' Weymouth Chart. 119. '" Ibid. 122. " Cal. S.P. Dom. 1689-90, p. 280. 

" Weymouth Chart, iii, 142. 

" Preface to vol. vi, reprinted G. A. Aitken, Later Stuart Tracts, 245 ; Etig. Hist. Rev. xv, 243 ; Hist. 
MSS. Com. Rep. xv, 10. 



The eighteenth century was characterized by a number of disputed 
elections, turning mainly on the struggle between the freeholders and the 
mere householders as to the right to vote for members of Parliament. In 
Lyme the charter of Charles II in 1684 had provided that 'the burgesses to 
sit in Parliament for ever hereafter shall be elected by the mayor, capital 
burgesses, or freemen, or greater part, as heretofore in times past has been 
used and accustomed.' Ellis, writing of Weymouth in 1829, admits that ' the 
inhabitants themselves have very little to do with the bona-fide election, as from 
the numerous frauds and subterfuges resorted to . . . persons who are not at all 
connected with the town are made, for a bounty averaging from 5/. to 30J., 
to profess themselves as bona-fide voters.' ^ The number of voters, normally 
200, was in 1704 increased by malpractices to 648. After a severely con- 
tested election in 1830 counsel on both sides agreed to the extension of 
the franchise to persons seised of freeholds within the borough, not being 
in receipt of alms. But almost immediately the old close system was re- 
verted to.' Bribery was apparently as rife at Corfe as at Weymouth : in 
1784 the election expenses of John Bond, junior, and Henry Banks of 
Kingston Hall included the two items: 'To 45 voters at i 3J. each, ^2() 5J.,' 
and 'To two Persons to protect the Beer, 2s. 6d.' ^ Poole, owing to the 
acuteness of this question, constantly suffered from double returns. In 
1654, in the first Parliament assembled under the Instrument of Govern- 
ment, Cooper was returned for three constituencies — Poole, Wiltshire, 
and Tewkesbury. He elected to sit as member for Wiltshire.* In 
1 66 1 the election was impeded by the claims of certain non-resident 
burgesses. The question was referred to the House of Commons, who 
decided against the candidates returned by the votes of the non-residents. 
There was another double return in 1688. In the disputed election of 1774 
Sir Eyre Coote and Joshua Manger were nominated by the one party, and 
were opposed by Charles James Fox and John Williams, as candidates for 
the householders' party, which was now termed 'the commonalty interest.' 
At the election on 1 1 October 1 30 householders voted for Fox and 
Williams, but their claims were not allowed by the sheriff, who accepted 
and returned only the votes of adm.itted burgesses, and returned Coote and 
Manger. Fox and Williams protested, alleging not only partiality of the 
sheriff towards the sitting members, but that by the law and custom of the 
land, as well as by the particular constitution of that borough, the right to 
exercise the franchise lay with 'the inhabitants and householders of the borough 
paying scot and bearing lot.' A committee of the House of Commons sat 
in 1775 to try the case, and decided that, down to the charter of Elizabeth, 
'burgenses' in Poole charters meant inhabitants : that that year, by the new 
charter, the inhabitants were formed into a commonalty, as distinct from the 
burgesses. At the next two elections, in 1780 and 1790, the returns were 
however again disputed, and were each again followed by the adjudication 
of a parliamentary committee, in 1780 with the same result as in 1775, in 
1790 ending in a compromise. The election of 1791 led to the final 
victory of the right of election by select burgesses only. This continued 
till the Reform Act of 1832.' By that Act Corfe Castle was deprived of 

' Op. cit. 44. ' Ibid. 80. ' Somers. and Dors. Notes and Queries, vii, 65. 

* Christie, Shaftesbury, i, 1 12. ' Sydenham, Hist. Poole, 256-66. 



representation, while Lyme, Wareham, and Shaftesbury were reduced to 
returning one member each ; Weymouth and Melcombe (which had pre- 
viously sent four between them, two for each) now returned two only, as 
a united borough. The county members, on the other hand, were increased 
from two to three, as some compensation for this decrease in borough 

An Act passed the following year settled the inconvenience of the out- 
lying portions of the county. Stockland parish and Dalwood township, 
lying geographically in Devon, but being hitherto part of Dorset, were now 
united with Devon; Thorncombe parish, and Burhall Downs and Easthay (part 
of the parish of Axminster), hitherto part of Devon, were made part of 
Dorset. Holwell parish, including the tithing of Buckshaw, which lay in 
Dorset geographically, was henceforth to be part of Dorset, instead of being 
an outlying part of Somerset.' 

By the Reform Bill of 1867 (Representation of the People Act) * Lyme 
entirely ceased to be represented, not having a sufficient number of inhabited 
houses (683 only). Dorchester, Bridport, and Poole were each reduced to 
one member only. The Boundary Commissioners of 1867-8 did not see 
their way to recommending an extension of any of the existing boundaries of 
any of the Dorset boroughs. The population, stationary in the mid-Victorian 
period, decreased between 1871 and 1881 from 143,478 to 137,146.* 
Further reduction of representation was the natural outcome. 

The Act of 1885 merged in the county the Dorset boroughs still 
remaining ; thus Bridport, Dorchester, Poole, Shaftesbury (part of which lay 
however in Wiltshire), Wareham, and Weymouth and Melcombe vote now 
in the four divisions of the county.' The number of county members was 
increased from three to four. The petty sessional divisions had only been 
adopted to a limited extent in the Boundary Acts of 1832 and 1868, the 
hundred being still in theory the basis of electoral divisions. But it was 
growing obsolete, and the inconveniences of its often detached portions, 
together with the increasing difficulty of ascertaining its exact boundaries, 
led to the adoption, in the Act of 1885, of the petty sessional division. The 
North Dorset division, under the new Act, accordingly includes the sessional 
divisions of Blandford, Shaftesbury, Sturminster, and part of Sherborne. The 
division of East Dorset includes the sessional division of Wimborne and part 
of that of Wareham with the municipal borough of Poole. South Dorset 
includes the municipal boroughs of Dorchester, and Weymouth and Mel- 
combe, with part of the sessional divisions of Dorchester and of Wareham. 
The West Dorset division comprises the municipal boroughs of Bridport and 
Lyme Regis, the sessional divisions of Bridport and Cerne, and certain poor- 
law parishes in the sessional division of Dorchester. 

In 1685, after the rebellion of Monmouth, the Duke of Beaufort was 
appointed colonel of a corps of musketeers and pikemen composed of men 
of distinguished loyalty, from the disturbed districts of Dorset, Somerset, and 
Devon. This, however, afterwards became known as the i ith North Devon 

' 2 Will. IV, cap. 45. 

' 2 and 3 Will. IV, c.ip. 64. For acreage and population involved see Notts and Queries for Somers. and 
Dors. X, 86, 87. ' 30 & 31 Vict. cap. 102. 

* Re/). 0/ Boundary Com. 1885, pt. i, c. 4287. ^ 48 & 49 Vict. cap. 23. 

2 169 22 


Foot. A commission to raise troops for another regiment of dragoons, 
issued inter alia to Thomas Maxwell at Shaftesbury, resulted in the form- 
ation of a regiment in July, 1685, which was joined by many Dorset 
loyalists who had fought against Monmouth, and which was afterwards 
known as the Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Dragoons (now 4th 

The Dorset Regiment itself was not formed till 1702, during the 
preparations for war with France and Spain. It was raised in Ireland in 
1702, and was stationed there for five years. In 1707 it was sent to 
Portugal, to reinforce the troops after the battle of Almanza, gaining con- 
spicuous honour, from making a determined stand with the 5th and 20th 
and Lord Paston's regiments, to cover the retreat of the Portuguese Army 
at the passage of the Caya. On the conclusion of the Treaty of Utrecht 
(11 April, 17 1 3), the 39th went to Gibraltar, but later in the year was 
sent to form part of the garrison of Minorca, where it remained till 1719. 
It then passed some years in Ireland.'' In 1727 it took part in the recovery 
of Gibraltar, and in 1729, on the conclusion of peace, was sent to Jamaica, 
where it arrived in 1730. In 1732 it returned to Ireland, and in 1737 the 
Duke of Argyle was colonel. In 1744 the regiment was sent to England, 
and was employed for two years as marines on board the fleet. In 1746 it 
took part in the expedition to Brittany which attacked L'Orient, the head 
quarters of the French East India Company's shipping and stores in Europe. 
In 1747 and 1748 the 39th again served as marines.' 

After the Peace of Aachen in 1748 the regiment spent five years in 
Ireland, going in 1754 to the East Indies. It remained at Madras till 1756, 
and being the first king's regiment employed in India earned the motto still 
borne of ' Primus in Indis.' The gallant behaviour of the 39th at Plassy in 
1757 earned it the royal authority to bear the word upon the regimental 
colours. In 1758, on its return to Ireland, it was shipwrecked upon the Irish 
coast. A large detachment joined Ferdinand of Brunswick in 1759. In 
1769 the regiment was besieged in Gibraltar, a siege which, in spite of 
three reliefs and reinforcements, was not finally abandoned till 1783. The 
loss of the regiment during the whole siege was only five officers, ten sergeants, 
two drummers, and one hundred and thirteen of the rank and file.* 

On 31 August, 1782, the 39th became the East Middlesex regiment, 
territorial denominations being then adopted. From 1783 to 1792 it con- 
tinued in Ireland ; in February 1793 it was sent to the French West Indies, 
and assisted at the captures of Martinique and Guadaloupe. The stay in 
Guadaloupe proved very deleterious to the health of the men. In 1794 it was 
in Ireland, in 1795 in Barbadoes. From Barbadoes in 1796, the 39th, together 
with a detachment of the Royal Artillery, proceeded against the Dutch 
colonies of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, which were taken in April. 
They remained in Demerara till November, 1799. In October, 1800, they 
went to Surinam, and spent 1801 there. On the conclusion of the Peace of 
Amiens in 1802 they returned to Barbadoes, and went thence to Antigua, 
reaching England in March, 1803. During the South American years they 
lost 2,000 men from climatic diseases alone. 

' Hist. Rec. of Brit. Army (ed. Cannon), i ith Foot, 1,2; 4th Dragoons, 10. 

' Hist. Rec. of Brit. Amy, 39th Dorset Rcgt. 8. * Ibid. 12, 13. * Ibid. 



On the renewal of hostilities in 1803, under the Army of Reserve Act, 
a second battalion was added to the 39th,' composed of men from Cheshire, 
Shropshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire. In 1804, under the Addi- 
tional Forces Act,* 548 additional men were raised in Dorset' for the 
9th Regiment, and the 2nd battalion of the 39th was augmented by nien 
from Shropshire. In 1804 the 2nd battalion was in Guernsey, the 
ist guarded the Sussex shore against the feared invasion by the Boulogne 
flotilla. The flank companies of the ist battalion took part in the Mediter- 
ranean Expedition of 1805, and in January 1806 went to Sicily with the 
King and Queen of Naples, returning to Malta in February. The 2nd bat- 
talion remained in Guernsey till February 1806, when, after a short time at 
Cork and Dublin, all its united service men were transferred to a garrison 
battalion of the latter, and its disposable men were drafted into the ist bat- 
talion at Malta. In 1807 the officers and non-commissioned officers of the 
2nd battalion were recruiting in England. On 29 October, 1807, the 
name of the regiment was changed from the East Middlesex to the 

The 2nd battalion was largely recruited from the Militia, and spent 
1808 in Guernsey. The flank companies of the ist battalion went that 
year from Malta to Sicily, and in 1809 took from Murat, then king of 
Naples, the two islands of Ischia and Procida. They spent 18 10 in Sicily. 
The 2nd battalion went to Spain in 1809, and in 18 10 took part in the 
operations of Busaco, and distinguished itself greatly at the battle of 
Albuera (16 May). The ist battalion arrived at Lisbon in 181 1, and 
was made up to full strength by all the effective men of the 2nd battalion, 
the skeleton of which then embarked for England and arrived at Weymouth 
2 March, 18 12. The ist battalion took part in the battle of Salamanca in 
1812.* The 2nd battalion remained at Weymouth till October, when they 
went to Exeter, but returned to Weymouth in December. The ist bat- 
talion, which had lost heavily, but behaved with great gallantry at Vittoria 
(21 June), was in all the operations against Soult in the Pyrenees, and on 
the Nive that winter, and was at Orthes and Toulouse in the spring of 
18 14. The 2nd battalion spent 18 13 at Weymouth. 

After the end of the war in Europe the ist battalion went to North 
America, and was at Plattsburg, and in the ineffisctive Lake Champlain 
operations,' returning to Europe just after the battle of Waterloo, in time to 
join the British Army at Paris. In the same year the effective men of the 
2nd battalion were transferred to the ist, and the former was disbanded 
24 December, 18 15. 

The regiment remained in the Pas de Calais till 1818, in December of 
which year it went to Ireland. In 1825 it was sent to New South 
Wales to keep order among the convicts. A depot company was left in 
England, but by 1830 all the rest of the regiment was in New South Wales. 
It was at this time that Captain Charles Sturt, himself of a well-known 
Dorset family, made his two journeys into the interior of the conti- 
nent (1829, 1830) to assist Darling. In 1830 the 39th helped to put 

' 43 Geo. Ill, cap. Ixxxii. ' 44 Geo. Ill, cap. Ivi. 

' Somen, and Dors. N. and O. i, 1 54-5. ' Hist. Rec. of the Brit. Army, 39th Dors. Regt. 54. 

Ibid. 63. 



down convict disturbances in the Bathurst district. In 1833 they were at 
Madras and Bangalore, in 1834 took part in a punitive expedition against 
the Rajah of Coorg,^ and in 1837 quelled an insurrection in Malabar. 
In 1843 ^^^ regiment formed part of the 5th brigade of the 'Army 
of Exercise ' in Gwalior. It took, part in the succeeding operations, 
and was distinguished at the battle of Maharajpore.* Part of the 39th 
was with Sir Charles Napier's expedition in 1845 against the hill-tribes of 
Baluchistan, the mountain desert robbers. In 1847 the regiment returned 
to England. 

The ist battalion of the Dorset Regiment is nicknamed ' the Green 
Linnets,' from the old green facings, and from the habit of singing while on 
the march. The 2nd battalion is nicknamed ' the Flamers.' This battalion 
is the old 54th regiment, formerly called the West Norfolk. Cobbett served 
in it as a sergeant-major. The 2nd battalion was sent out to Natal immedi- 
ately on the outbreak of the South African War in 1899.^ It served with 
distinction under General Buller, taking part in all the battles leading to the 
relief of Ladysmith. At Alleman's Nek the heights were carried by the 
Dorsets. In October, 1902, it returned to Portland,* and it embarked for 
India 4 October, 1906. The ist battalion saw no active service during the 
South African War, remaining in India, chiefly in the Punjab, during the 
entire campaign. The 3rd battalion (the Dorset Militia) was embodied at 
ShornclifFe, 14 December, 1899, and proceeded to Kinsale in March, 1900.' 
It returned, however, to Dorchester in October, 1901.' 

The earliest in date of the twelve Dorset volunteer corps raised 
by June i860 was the Wareham Corps. It was formed by 28 January, 
i860 ; one of its earliest supporters was His Majesty King Edward. There 
is a Cadet Corps at Sherborne School. 

Six troops of Dorset Yeomanry were raised in 1794, viz. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Darner's (Dorchester) troop, Major Frampton's (Moreton) troop. 
Captain Churchill's (Wimborne) troop. Captain Grosvenor's (Wareham and 
Charborough) troop. Captain Weld's (Lulworth) troop, and Captain Browne's 
(Maiden Newton) troop. The latter recruited as far south as Weymouth 
and Abbotsbury. Later in the year a seventh troop, under Captain Travers, 
was formed at Bridport.'' The troops met for the first time for exercise at 
Dorchester, 8 May, 1794, under Colonel Lord Milton. After that they 
met at different places once a week, as appointed by the captains. On 
17 September the king reviewed them under Maiden Castle. Exercise was 
continued till 22 October, when it ceased for the winter. The strength of 
the force at this time was 250. They clothed and horsed themselves, 
receiving from the Government only a sword, one pistol, and holsters. They 
also requested the colonel to refuse any money offered by the county to assist 
them in expenses. No exercise apparently took place during haymaking 
and harvesting.* In 1795 the number of the troops was reduced to five, 
since the king could not sign the commissions of Captain Weld and his 
son (the cornet of the Lulworth troop) as they were Roman Catholics. 

' Hist. Rec. of the Brit. Jrmy, 39th Dors. Regt. 73. ' Ibid. 90. 

' Jrmy Lists, Sept. 1 899, Jan. 1 900. ' Ibid. Oct. 1 902, Jan. 1903. 

' Ibid. 1900, March 1900. ' Ibid. 

'Captain M. F. Gage, Rec. of the Dorset 1'eomanry, 173. 

' C. W. Thompson, Dorset Teomanry, 12, 14-15. 



In 1797, however, a fresh troop was raised in the vale of Blackmoor 
under Captain Meggs. Under the fear of a French attack upon the Dorset 
coast, not only the volunteers, but the whole posse comitatus, consisting of 
20,857 able-bodied men over fifteen years old, excluding peers and 
ecclesiastics, were ordered to be in readiness. This was done by the 
authority of the sheriff, not of the lord-lieutenant.^ During the second 
invasion-scare of 1798 three fresh troops were raised. Captain Tregonwell's 
at Cranborne, Captain Clavell's in the Isle of Purbeck, and a second in the 
vale of Blackmoor under Captain Bower at Shaftesbury. ° In 1801 there 
were only nine troops, but as Captain Bower was now adjutant it is probable 
that the Shaftesbury troop was the one disbanded. This first Dorset Corps 
of Volunteer Rangers came to an end on the signature of peace between 
England and France, in March, 1802. Frampton, in his Memoirs, gives 
three reasons against the maintenance of a permanent yeomanry force in the 
county. He says the poor disliked yeomen forces of armed farmers, who 
could keep up the price of provisions, that the farmers themselves suffered 
under the sense of being always obliged to belong, if they had once joined, 
and that the attendance of yeomen diminished much as soon as the imme- 
diate fear of invasion was withdrawn.' 

On the rupture of the Peace of Amiens the yeomanry was again 
raised, and consented to receive the allowance granted by Government for 
accoutrements ; preparations made for removing stock were put under the 
control of such deputy-lieutenants and other gentlemen as were not engaged 
in any other military duty, thus relieving the Yeomanry officers. With the 
increased fears of invasion the regiment became more efficient. Their 
alertness was tested, in 1804, by a rumour that the French had landed at 
Portland. Weymouth was thrown into confusion, till it was found that a 
fishing-fleet had taken refuge in the Roads during a fog.* 

Lieutenant-Colonel Damer's death in May, 1807, led to the command 
of Frampton, under whom the numbers of the corps greatly increased, the 
Secretary of State giving permission for the strength to be raised to twenty- 
four officers and 450 non-commissioned officers and men.' The regiment 
was disbanded in 18 14 on the conclusion of peace. Frampton, with 
150 mounted men armed with constables' staves, dispersed the agrarian 
rioters at Winfrith in 1830^ : and in December of that year the Dorset- 
shire Yeomanry Cavalry was again raised. It now consisted of five troops, 
recruited mainly from West Dorset. A scheme to raise a regiment in 
East Dorset in 1831 came to nothing. Instead, four independent troops 
were raised at Wimborne, Blandford, Wareham and the Isle of Purbeck, 
and Charborough. These were, however, disbanded in 1838, with the 
exception of the Charborough troop, which had been disbanded in 1835.^ 
The throwing out of the Reform Bill caused a serious riot at Sherborne in 
October, 1831 ; the yeomanry were called out. The regiment assembled 
for 'permanent duty ' for the first time in May, 1832, at Dorchester.* In 
June, 1843, the title of ' Queen's Own ' was given to it. 

' C. W. Thompson, Dorset Teomanry, 23, 25. ' Gage, Dorset Teomanry, 174. 

' C. W. Thompson, Dorset Yeomanry, 49. ' Ibid. 69. 

Mbid. 84, 86, 89. Mbid. 108-9. 

' Gage, Dorset Yeomanry, 174. * C. W. Thompson, Dorset Yeomanry, 127. 


In 1879 the Yeomanry did not assemble for 'permanent duty' owing 
to the depressed condition of agriculture. It then consisted of six troops, 
viz. the Dorchester, Melbury, Blackmoor Vale, Sherborne, Blandford, and 
Wimborne troops.^ 

In 1893 the regiment was formed in two squadrons, the field troops of 
Melbury, Sherborne, and Dorchester having head quarters at Maiden Newton, 
and those of Blandford, Wimborne, and the vale of Blackmoor having head- 
quarters at Blandford. 

In 1 90 1 the Queen's Own Dorsetshire Yeomanry was again reorganized 
and formed in three squadrons, with head quarters at Dorchester, Sherborne, 
and Blandford respectively. There is also a machine-gun section.* 

A meeting was held at Dorchester on New Year's Day, 1900, in 
response to the Government's demand for 10,000 Imperial Yeomanry. By 
8 January 120 men had applied to join the company, 115 only being 
required from each county. A machine-gun section was also formed, with 
two Colt guns, mounted on galloping carriages.' The company was ordered 
to form part of the seventh battalion of Imperial Yeomanry. They entrained 
at Dorchester, 28 February, and reached the front 7 April. On 18 April a 
reinforcing draft, consisting of one officer and fourteen non-commissioned 
officers, was sent out. Altogether, there served in South Africa, of the 
original Dorset Yeomanry, ten officers and 1 1 5 non-commissioned officers 
and troopers, two non-commissioned officers and twelve men of the machine- 
gun section, the above-mentioned draft of April, 1900, and a 1901 draft 
consisting of one lieutenant and seventy-two men. The casualties were 
twenty-four, including two killed in action. To the 26th Company of 
Imperial Yeomanry Dorset contributed seven officers and their thirteen 
servants, and seven non-commissioned officers and men, with a reinforcing 
draft of one lieutenant, one corporal, and thirteen troopers.* 

On arrival in South Africa the Dorset Yeomanry acted temporarily 
under General Sir Leslie Rundle, and took part in the operations for the 
relief of Wepener. In May, joining Lord Roberts's army at Kroonstad, 
they advanced along the ruined railway lines on Vereeniging, across the 
Vaal. The Dorsets were the first to cross into Transvaal territory at this 
point. They participated in the advance on Johannesburg and Pretoria. 
After the armistice of early June they took part in the Diamond Hill action, 
and later some of the force formed part of the Pretoria garrison. Later 
they joined in the chase of De Wet, and were thus constantly on the move. 
They had the honour of protecting the retirement after Nooitgedacht,' 
during which action they had been under fire fourteen hours, and in the 
saddle twenty-six hours. In January, 1901, they were in the action at 
Middlefontein. Much uneventful trekking followed, chiefly in the neigh- 
bourhood of Naauwport. They then took part in the operations in the 
Western Transvaal. New drafts of yeomanry, drawn from a somewhat 
different class of men, were sent out in May, 1901, and the original Dorset 
Yeomanry was then ordered home. The battalion left Cape Town on 
3 June, 1 90 1, and arrived at Southampton 25 June. 

'Gage, Dorset yeomanry, 175. 'Royal Warrant, Yeomanry Reorganization, 1901. 

' Gage, Dorset Yeomanry, 75-9, * Ibid. Appendix C. 

' Ibid. 127-30. 


IN considering accessibility to invasion the development of shipbuilding 
in relation to harbours must, as well as other facts, be borne in mind. 
In early centuries the minor Dorset ports and river mouths admitted 
the vessels of small tonnage then in use, or in some places they could 
be beached ; from the sixteenth century onwards a whole stretch of coast 
such as the West Bay, extending from Portland to the border of Devon, 
passed out of the sphere of possible operations because to be caught there in 
a gale from the westward was certain destruction as the larger ships then 
built could find no shelter except, in limited number, at Lyme. The eastern 
half of the county offered, in recent centuries, equally few advantages to an 
invader, Poole, at high tide, looks a capacious harbour, but its waterways 
are narrow and its anchorage limited, while the contracted entrance is further 
obstructed by a shifting bar which has not more than 14 ft. of water on 
it at high water spring tides. Studland and Swanage bays are sheltered from 
the westward ; but the former will not admit anything drawing more than 
12 ft., and the latter gives but a shallow and indifferent anchorage. From 
Durlstone Head to Weymouth Roads runs a line of lofty cliffs broken by a 
few coves and landing-places which may have received the vessels of Saxon 
and Danish marauders, and later coasters, but are of no avail for modern 
shipping. As in the case of the West Bay it would be the object of an 
invader to keep clear of this coast rather than to approach it. Thus of the 
75 miles of Dorset coast at least three-fourths became a negligible quantity as 
facilities of transport increased and the national risk of invasion grew greater 

From the point of view of naval war, therefore, the interest strategically 
is confined to the projecting point of Portland, with its accessories Portland 
Roads and Weymouth Roads. The modern naval base is seldom a great com- 
mercial port ; the mediaeval base, unless far outside the radius of action and 
merely a feeder to supply the fleets, was invariably a place of commerce 
because its offensive capacity in war grew out of its success in the paths of 
peace. Thus Sandwich, Rye, Winchelsea, Weymouth, and Plymouth became 
bases for offence as they increased in maritime strength, as commerce caused 
the accumulation of ships, men, and materiel, all interchangeable for trade or 
war, and as the area of maritime action widened. Melcombe, when ruined 
by the French in the fourteenth century, was becoming an important naval 
centre ; its harbour, suitable for the vessels of that age and probably deeper 
than it is now, held the position relative to Cherbourg and St. Malo that 
Plymouth, later, stood in towards Brest ; and Weymouth Roads, like Portland 
Roads covered from all winds except those from east to south, was of equal 



value commercially. The forbidding bluiF of Portland guarded by its cliffs, 
by the westerly gales that sweep over it, by the dangerous Race, and by the 
Shambles, never allured a mediaeval invader to any attempt to secure a per- 
manent foothold upon it ; the natural strength which daunted the enemy of 
that period was the principal defence then of Portland Roads, but is still 
more effective now when improved by engineering and military art. Torbay, 
although not so safe an anchorage, was preferred in the eighteenth century 
because nearer Brest ; when Cherbourg was suddenly enlarged into a great 
naval base and arsenal, the development of Portland, nearly opposite, but to 
windward, was the natural answer. The use of steam has greatly increased 
the strategical value of Portland. Although not a primary base, because it 
lacks appliances for docking and repairs, it holds a first place among those of 
its class, for, as it flanks Portsmouth and Plymouth,^ no enemy could venture 
to attack either of those places while an English fleet, even of inferior strength 
but able to fight, lay in the naval harbour. He must therefore deal with the 
Portland fleet first and either mask it with sufficient force while he carried 
out his main purpose or await its pleasure as to the time of action. Except as 
following a series of disasters which would, by their direct and indirect effects, 
render a further struggle here useless, no enemy or combination of enemies is 
likely to possess sufficient strength simultaneously to hold quiescent a fighting 
fleet at Portland and to attack one of the great naval arsenals. For his fleet there 
would be far more risk of disaster than probability of success about a serious 
bombardment at any useful range ; and if he succeeded the English loss would 
not be so great as would be involved in the destruction of a huge dockyard, 
with the private property around it. The methods of attack in modern naval 
war are likely to enforce the use of Portland as a centre for ships delayed in 
sailing or awaiting admission to Portsmouth, for Spithead can never be used 
again with the confidence permissible before the era of torpedoes and drifting 

The name of the British tribe inhabiting Dorset, the Durotriges, or 
' water dwellers,' seems to imply some especial relation with the sea ; but a 
recent suggestion that the water in question was that of the marshes of Poole 
Harbour, and of the rivers emptying themselves into it, is a far more probable 
one than the supposition that the natives possessed any particular maritime 
aptitude. Unlike some of the other counties whose coast-line is broken by 
long beaches or stretches of salt-water marshes, that of Dorset offers little 
encouragement to beginners in navigation. If the Celtic appellation referred 
to the sea it involves the inference that the Durotriges were far more advanced 
in maritime affairs than any of the other races in Britain, for which there is 
no evidence either in history or in the numerous Celtic remains which have 
been found in the county. We may safely assume that such sea life as existed 
was confined to fishing close inshore from coves and sheltered bays, and that 
the Durotriges had made even less progress in navigation than their neigh- 
bours east and west. 

Omitting the Roman era, considered elsewhere, we find that the principal 
Saxon advance north-westward was by land from their favourite place of 
debarkation in Southampton Water. It is both possible and probable that 

' Portland to Plymouth, 75 miles ; to Portsmouth, 60 miles ; to Guernsey, 60 miles ; to Alderney, 
48 miles ; to Cherbourg, 62 miles. 



their failure at first to reach the coast from the centre of the county was re- 
trieved, later, by a flank attack by way of Poole Harbour, thus turning the 
strong position of the marshes and forests of the Frome, although no evidence 
of such a movement has survived. If it did occur it is the only maritime 
incident connected with the West Saxon conquest of Dorset. 

In 787, if the date given in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle be correct, came 
the first appearance of the Northmen in England, and the experience fell upon 
Dorset. According to one writer the landing-place was Portland ^ ; and the 
king's reeve, ignorant of the character of the strangers, riding from Dorchester 
to inquire the cause of their coming, was killed, together with his attendants. 
Portland seems a less likely place of landing than either Poole or Weymouth 
Harbours, and, if they came from the eastward, it is difficult to understand 
why their first appearance should have been in Dorset when, to reach the 
county, they must have passed much more tempting coasts on their way. We 
read, however, that in the year 800 the northern shores of France were 
harassed by the Northmen ^ ; that condition of things had existed for years 
previously, so that it is likely that the marauders of 787 had come across the 
Channel, especially as they were said to be from ' Haeretha-land,' now held to 
be Jutland, which was also the home of the pirates of 800. Nearly half a 
century elapsed before their next appearance in Dorset, and by that time the 
lines of advance from the Baltic — eastward by way of the Frisian and French 
coasts, westward by way of the Orkneys and Ireland — were closing round 
England. In 833 a fleet appeared at Charmouth, where the Vikings were 
met by Egbert in person, who was overthrown, and in 837 another force, 
perhaps one which had just been repulsed in Southampton Water, landed at 
Portland ; there the ealdorman Ethelhelm was defeated and killed by the 
enemy who remained in possession of the island. Again, in 840, they came 
to Charmouth and routed Ethelwulf, if the entry in the Chronicle is not a 
repetition of the event of 837. The first landing may have been due to 
chance, but assuming both entries to be correct it is not clear what attraction 
Charmouth or its neighbourhood can have had sufficient to account for two 
onslaughts in seven years. On the other hand the second landing may have 
happened but have been unintentional, in the sense that bad weather forced a 
roving party to seek a port. 

Whatever temptation Dorset may have offered at first to invite attacks, 
in force they soon faded ; the county is not mentioned again until towards the 
end of the long struggle of nearly fifteen years during which the Danes were 
fighting for the conquest of England. In 876 Guthrum, with his division, 
which had wintered in the Midlands, ' stole away ' from Cambridge to 
Wareham. Probably he embarked in Orwell Haven and went by sea. That 
Guthrum, or some of those with him, knew the strength of the Wareham 
position affords reasonable presumption that they must have learned the 
topography of the district as the result of small raids not noticed by the 
chroniclers. Notwithstanding a solemn undertaking to leave the kingdom, 
part of the Danish army escaped and occupied Exeter ; the remainder held 
Wareham until the spring of 877,* when they left by sea to raise the blockade 

' Leland, Collect, iii, Z14 (Chron. St. Neot). 
' Pairohgiae, ed. J. P. Migne, civ, 458 {Jnn. Lauriosertses). 

' Traditions of Danish slaughter still linger in the neighbourhood of Wool (Moule, OIJ Donef, 139). 
2 177 23 


instituted by Alfred and relieve their beleaguered comrades in the western 
capital. The relieving fleet was caught by a storm and driven into Swanage 
Bay where 120 ships were wrecked. The Danes in Exeter thereupon 
surrendered, one more illustration of the effects — if not of sea-power — of sea 

The supreme tactical advantage possessed by the Danes, in being able to 
seize a base wherever the sea broke upon a beach round England, was one 
that the Saxons had themselves used centuries previously although they had 
t'orgotten the lesson and lost their maritime aptitude. Even after the fifteen 
years' war which ended with the peace of Wedmore, a war only possible for 
the Danes because they held the sea, the fierce five years' fight between 893 
and 897 was needed to make Alfred decide upon building ships in sufficient 
number to have some chance of meeting the enemy with success afloat. These 
ships, when in service, were manned largely by foreign mercenaries, which 
shows that the counties contained but a small seafaring population. However, 
the existence of a fleet ensured eventually the collection of a body of trained 
seamen to man it or it could hardly have continued. Incidental references 
indicate that Alfred's successors possessed fleets of some strength, while there 
was a law in force during the reign of Edgar (959—75) that every three 
hundreds, probably along the coast line, should provide a ship. This law 
may have fallen into desuetude or have been found insufficient, for in 1008, 
under the pressure of renewed Danish incursions, it was ordered that every 
310 hides of land throughout the country should build and equip a ship. 
Dorset was not among the leading maritime shires of early centuries, but 
these laws, with the consequent necessity for serving at sea, must have tended 
to bring the backward counties into line with those more advanced ; among 
the former Dorset would have been helped forward in this way in the absence 
of the stimulus of maritime commerce. 

After a long interval of comparative peace the Danish ravages recom- 
menced towards the end of the tenth century. The beginning of the next 
century showed signs of their preparation for the complete conquest of 
England. Nearly the first breath of the storm swept over Dorset where a 
pirate squadron appeared in 982 and ravaged Portland. It may be inferred 
that they were new to their work or weak in numbers, for otherwise they 
would surely have chosen some wealthier region. An invasion by Sweyn, 
king of Denmark, took place in 994 ; he was repulsed from London, and 
then ravaged the east and south coasts, but did not go further westward than 
Southampton Water. The turn of Dorset came again in 998, when a force, 
probably from Ireland, after harrying the west coast during the preceding 
year, came soutli and sailed up Poole Harbour, from which ' they went up as 
far as they would' into the interior of the county. Between 1003 and 
I o 1 1 the Danes overran the eastern half of England from Norfolk to Wiltshire 
and Hampshire, but Dorset seems to have escaped the main bodies of the enemy. 
In 10 1 3 came another great invasion under Sweyn, and King Ethelred and 
his family fled to Normandy. Sweyn died in 1014 ; Ethelred returned but had 
to contend with Svv'eyn's son, Cnut, who arrived with a great fleet in loi 5 with 
which he laid waste the coast from Kent westwards, finally harbouring in 
the favourite covert of Poole from which he marched over Dorset, Wiltshire, 
and Somerset. Cnut is said to have occupied Brownsea Island ; no doubt 


several earlier generations of Danes had also used it. Years of hard fightin >■ 
followed until the death of Edmund Ironside in 1017 left Cnut king of all 
England, but the area of struggle was outside Dorset, and a long period of 
peace succeeded the new settlement of the throne. Only one other maritime 
event of any importance is associated with the county previous to the 
Conquest. In 1051 Godwin and his sons had been banished ; Godwin went 
to Flanders, Harold and his brother Leofwin to Ireland. Both father and 
sons returned with fleets in 1052, and that of Harold plundered along the 
coast of Dorset before he met his father at Portland. Godwin's men landed 
there ' and did whatever harm they were able to do.' 

In connexion with some of the counties a coasting and foreign trade can 
be inferred, thus correlating a certain amount of shipping at the date of the 
Conquest, but there is no evidence concerning Dorset. Bridport and Ware- 
ham seem rather large places in Domesday, and must have been the principal 
ports. There was a fishery carried on from Lyme. As Bridport was famous 
for its cordage by the reign of John there is every probability that the trade 
was older than the Conquest, and if so it was one which must have especially 
aided the shipping development of the town until its harbour failed. The 
events of 1069 show that William had then no fleet available, but he was the 
last man likely to underrate the importance of maritime power, so that in 
1 07 1 and the following years his ships were acting in conjunction with his 
land forces. Between the last threat of a Danish invasion in 1083 and the 
loss of Normandy in 1204 there were few occasions for naval levies on a large 
scale, seeing that the Channel was not then a disputed tract but only the sea 
road connecting dominions under the same sovereign. In 1 171, at Milford 
Haven, there were collected 400 vessels to carry Henry II and his army to 
Ireland. From geographical situation and administrative arrangement,^ it is 
probable that Dorset furnished a quota to the expedition. A fleet conveying 
the main body of the Crusaders left Dartmouth in 1190, but most of the 
vessels were obtained from the continental possessions of the crown. For up- 
wards of a century only small fleets for transport purposes were required in 
the desultory dynastic wars occurring, and for these it was sufficient to call 
upon the Cinque Ports, London, and the adjacent districts. Wareham is the 
only Dorset port from which the combatants sailed, or at which they arrived, 
during the civil wars of Stephen's reign. 

In March, 1208, the authorities in the principal coast counties were 
ordered to cause all vessels to return to England before the ensuing Easter to 
be ready for the king's service. Lists of the ships and the names of the 
owners were also to be sent to London.* Under 1205 we have the first 
station list of the king's ships, but as none was placed between Southampton 
and Exeter the Dorset ports were evidently not yet among the leading ones. 
A similar order to that of 1208 issued again in 12 14, but in the latter 
year the Hsts were to be confined to ships of 80 tons and upwards.'' If the 
inclusion of Dorset among the other counties was not a mere matter of 
routine, and there was a real expectation of finding vessels of 80 or 100 tons 
in its ports, it implies a considerable growth of trade and shipping during the 

' With the exception of a few years Dorset and Somerset were under one sheriff, until 8 Eiiz. ; writs 
usually applied to both counties. 

* Pat. 9 John, ra. 2. ' Ibid. 16 John, m. 16. 



previous century. No doubt a contingent of Dorset ships and seamen was 
present in the fleet, made up from the ports generally, which won the great 
victory at Damme in 12 13. 

In the reigns of John and Henry III we find notices of the Bridport 
cordage manufacture. In 121 3 John ordered cables for his ships to be made 
there in such haste that the work was to be carried on night and day.* In 
1225 Henry directed the sheriff to buy two cables in the town and send them 
to Fowey for the use of the royal ships.' In 1224 there was a general arrest 
of shipping in view of war with France ; in Dorset the bailiffs of Poole were 
called upon to prepare all its ships for service and to detain any foreign vessels 
coming there. ^^ This is the first notice of the town in relation to shipping. 
Weymouth occurs in 1226, as well as Poole, when an order issued to stop 
any merchantmen sailing for French ports. Lyme is added to a similar writ 
in 1234.'^ Arrests of shipping were frequent during the reign of Henry, but 
they were seldom followed by any events requiring notice. In 1254 there 
was a levy of ships large enough to carry sixteen horses, and writs were 
directed to Poole, Weymouth, and Lyme.'- The last was becoming strong 
enough to carry on a war of its own ; in 1265 the king ordered inquiry into 
the mutual injuries inflicted upon each other at sea by the men of Lyme and 
Dartmouth, which had led to ' enormous transgressions and homicides ' by 
both parties. '^ As this was the period of the Barons' Wars, the anarchy 
existing in the state was reproduced on a smaller scale round the coast. But 
Dartmouth had long been a great and wealthy port ; if Lyme could now 
fight it on terms of equality at sea it signifies a remarkable growth of pros- 
perity in the Dorset town. 

A distinctive feature of the maritime history of the thirteenth century 
is the appointment of one or more persons, sometimes for one county and 
sometimes for a group of counties, as keepers of the coast, a step towards the 
organization of systematic defence. John Marshal was keeper of the ports 
of Somerset and Dorset in 121 5, although this appointment was probably 
not altogether one of the later type.'* In 1224 Ralph Germun was keeper 
of the Dorset coast ; in 1235 Hamo de Crevecoeur and Walerand Teutonicus 
had charge from Hastings to Poole.'' The office was not continuous, and 
most often comes under notice in time of war when the enemy happened to 
have the upper hand and be in command of the Channel. Thus in the reign 
of Edward III we find many nominations in the years immediately preceding 
the battle of Sluys in 1340. The functions of the keeper were chiefly 
military, but were also judicial in matters relating to the sea and coast ; he was 
in military command both at sea and on land, and was given somewhat large 
powers. Practically, he was expected to crush piracy, to beat off raiders, to 
enable coasters and fishermen to sail in peace, and to summon the county to 
arms upon invasion. The office did not endure for long because, during the 
second half of the fourteenth century, the growth of the Admiralty Court, 
the increased power of the admirals, and, finally, the creation of the post of 
High Admiral lessened its importance. Historically, however, the keeper may 

* Close, 1 5 John, m. 6. 

' Ibid. 9 Hen. Ill, m. 13. Fishing nets were also made there (ibid. 7 Hen. Ill, m. 22). 

'" Pat. 8 Hen. Ill, m. 8 J. " Close, 10 Hen. Ill, m. 27./. ; ibid. 18 Hen. Ill, m. 25^ 

" Ibid. 38 Hen. Ill, m. 5. " Pat 49 Hen. Ill, m. 17. 

" Pat. 17 John, m. 17. '^ Ibid. 19 Hen. Ill, m. 14. 



be considered the ancestor of the conservators of truces instituted locally by 
Henry V, and of the later vice-admirals of the coast whom we find acting 
from the middle of the sixteenth century. A part of the system of defence 
under the care of the keeper was the line of fire beacons, corresponding to 
the modern coastguard stations, usually placed on a hill near the shore and 
guarded in war time by a watch from the neighbouring parishes.'" The 
Poole men were responsible for the beacon on Worbarrow Down.'^ 

The Welsh wars of 1277 and 1282-3 were mainly fought by the feudal 
armies. The Cinque Ports furnished most of the squadrons — not large 
ones — required for the Welsh wars, but the later Scotch campaigns stirred 
the coasts to greater activity. The advance of Poole is manifested by its 
being the recipient, in 1291, with the chief ports, of a mandate to execute 
a truce with France. '^ At the time when Edward was founding the new 
Winchelsea he apparently designed creating a town in Dorset on a similar 
plan, for a writ of 1286 recites that he was trying to settle a town and har- 
bour ' at Gotowre in Studland parish,' at which the people were to enjoy 
the same liberties as those of the burgesses of Lyme and Melcombe." This 
seems to have been at Ower, on the south side of Poole Harbour, but as the 
new port must have been projected with a view to maritime action, it is not 
easy to see, however busy it may have been then,"" what advantages for the 
king's fleets it was expected to present greater than those afforded by Poole. 

War with France followed a battle in the Channel in 1293 between the 
Cinque Ports and their allies and the French and their allies. The preparations 
in England included the construction of 1 1 galleys at the king's cost, at various 
places ; one, of i 20 oars, was ordered at Lyme, which was to be assisted by 
Weymouth.^* The town is here therefore classed among the great ports. ^^ The 
Scotch war of 1295 was the cause of levies round the south coast in the shape 
of a selection from among ships of 40 tons and upwards. °' There was an 
attempt to keep the intended place of concentration secret, the persons 
choosing the ships in Dorset and elsewhere being directed to ' bring them on 
a certain day to a certain place as instructed by word of mouth.' A large 
fleet was raised in 1297 ^° transport an army to Flanders ; Edward, in call- 
ing upon the ports, including the three of Dorset, explained that the matter 
was among ' the greatest and most arduous that he has had to deal with in 
any times past.'^* In March, 1301, the ports all round the coast were re- 
quired to send ships by midsummer for the Scotch campaign ; Poole, Lyme, 
and Weymouth were assessed at one vessel each." Again, in November, 
1302, the ports were warned for service to be ready by the following spring, 
Weymouth and Lyme being rated at one ship each while Wareham and 
Brownsea were joined with Poole for the third." This time security was 

'* Cf. Southey, Livts ef the Admirals, i, 360 (quoting Froissart), as to the. method of constructing tlie 
beacons. See also Stubbs, Const. Hist. \\, 285 (2nd ed.), on mediaeval coast defence. 

" Sydenham, Hist, of Poole, 99, who refers to a corporation MS. giving the n.imes of those who were to 
find the hobelers to keep the watch. " Pat. 19 Edvv. I, m. 17. " Ibid. 14 Edw. I, m. 24. 

" Hutchins {Hist, of Dorset, i, 463, 3rd ed.) notices that Purbeck stone was formerly exported from Ower, 
and in ancient times it was much frequented, as is shown by the deep tracks across the he.itli. 

" K. R. Memo. R. 69, No. 77. The account of the expenses incurred still exists (Exch. Accts. K. R. 
bdle. 5, No. 21). 

" The seal of Lyme Regis, with a ship which presents some peculiarities, is of this reign. 

" Pat. 23 Edw. I, m. 7, m. 6. " Close, 25 Edw. I, m. \-] d. 

'"" Pat. 29 Edw. I, m. 20. '"^ Ibid. 30 Edw. I, m. 2. 



required from the shipowners that their vessels would appear because some of 
the ports, amongst them Lyme and Poole, had neglected the orders of the 
previous year. Two of the king's clerks were sent round the coast to punish 
the defaulters at their discretion," 

Probably both shipowners and seamen found piracy or privateering more 
attractive than the royal service, but notwithstanding occasional disobedience 
there was no general disinclination to respond to the demands of the crown. 
The yearly levies of ships and men would seem to be destructive of commerce, 
but in reality were not nearly so injurious to it as they appear, for it was 
only during the summer months that the king's fleets were large in the 
number of ships. Moreover a trading voyage involved great risk of loss from 
' wreck, piracy, and privateers, or in the sale of the cargo ; the king's service 
meant certain pay for the fitting and hire of the ship, besides sixpence a day 
for the officers, and threepence a day for the men — very liberal wages allow- 
ing for the greater value of money. Thus both owner and sailor were on a 
safer footing in serving the king than in trading for themselves. The 
incessant embargoes that harassed commerce — then much increased — under 
Edward III were not yet common, and the alacrity with which most of the 
ports answered the demands made upon them shows that the assistance 
required was not oppressive, nor even unwelcome, especially as those who 
contributed to the sea service were freed from any aid towards that by land. 
There was no permanent naval organization at this time. The king possessed 
some ships of his own, and the commanders were usually charged with their 
maintenance. When a fleet was to be raised from the merchant navy a 
certain extent of coast was allotted to one of the king's clerks, or to a serjeant- 
at-arms, who acted with the bailiffs of the port towns in selecting ships and 
men and seeing them dispatched to the place of meeting. If a ship did not 
appear, or the men deserted, they or the owner might be required to find 
security to come before the king ; and although there was as yet no statute ■* 
dealing with the offence they might, as we see, be punished at the discretion 
of the king or his representatives. 

Wrecking and piracy were recognized, it illegal, industries, and the 
Dorset men were no better than their neighbours in practising them. The 
character and conformation of the coast must have provided much material 
for wreckers, for the clumsy mediaeval ship was doomed if caught 
either side of Portland in a gale from an unfavourable quarter. In the 
human factor appetite grew with what it fed upon until the deeds of the 
Dorset wreckers were notorious even in the nineteenth century. In 1305 a 
Spanish ship was wrecked near Portland ; the crew escaped, but a commission 
of oyer and terminer names 235 persons known to have plundered the ship 
and broken it up.-' In the following year a Bordeaux vessel was lost under 
Corfe, and although some of the crew and two dogs escaped alive the people 
thereabouts carried away the cargo and destroyed the ship.^° Piracy became 
so prevalent that in 131 1 the county had a commission of inquiry to itself 
in order to ascertain why so many foreign merchantmen were plundered in 

" Pat. 30 Edw. I, m. 14. 

" The first statute was 2 Ric. II, st. 1, cap. 4, by which deserters were fined double their wages and 
imprisoned for a year. 

" Pat. 33 Edw. I, pt. i, m. 13 d'. '" Ibid. 3+ Edw. I, m. 28 </. 



Dorset waters." But in many instances the so-called piracies were merely 
cases of seizing enemy's goods in neutral ships and would, later, have merely 
provided suits in the Admiralty Court. Others can have had no such 
explanation. In 1322 a Plymouth ship was attacked for a whole day by 
crews hailing from Weymouth and Portland who, having at last driven her 
to Lyme, there boarded, ransacked, and scuttled her. 

The constant warfare of the reign of Edward II caused continual 
demands to be made upon the ports. In 1308 Poole, Weymouth, and Lyme 
were each ordered to send one ship manned by 42 men for the Scotch war;'- 
in the following year Wareham is named among the passage ports of the 
south coast.'^ A large fleet was required in 13 10, so that Poole, Wareham, 
Weymouth, Melcombe, and Lyme were assessed for one vessel each.^* A 
still greater effort was necessary in i 3 1 1 ; Poole was linked with Lymington 
for three vessels, Wareham was again asked for one, Lyme for two, and 
Weymouth, no doubt with Melcombe, for two.'^ In this case Southampton 
and Dartmouth were the only towns on the south coast, exclusive of the 
Cinque Ports whose organization does not admit of comparison, which sent 
three vessels each, so that we have here a measure of the relative importance 
of the ports. In i 3 i 3 thirty of the best ships between Plymouth and Shore- 
ham were selected for service, for which Dorset may have supplied one or 
more ; in 13 14 there was another heavy levy for the Scotch war, for which 
Poole and Wareham sent one ship each, Lyme two, and Weymouth and 
Melcombe two."* The exhaustion of the exchequer now forced the king to 
obtain vessels from the ports at their own cost, a demand in such contrast to 
the methods of Edward I that it must have brought home to shipowners the 
possible disagreeables of the crown service. In this way John de Norton 
was sent to the towns between Southampton and Falmouth in 13 16 to 
persuade them to set out as much shipping as they could at their own 
expense 'for better keeping of the English sea.'" This was a request ; the 
next year came a command for ships to serve one month at the charge of the 
towns, and afterwards at the king's cost ; Wareham was coupled with 
Beaulieu Abbey for a vessel, the other Dorset ports being set down for one 
each.'' In 13 19 the period of service at the expense of the towns was extended 
to three or four months,"' and the coast, generally, must have welcomed a two 
years' truce in 1320 with Scotland. 

Besides their warfare in the service of the state several of the counties 
found themselves strong enough to carry on private wars of their own. In 
August, I 32 1, the king issued inhibitions to the men of the Cinque Ports on 
the one side, and on the other to those of Poole, Lyme, Weymouth, and 
Melcombe in Dorset, ordering them to desist from the mutual homicides, 
robberies, and ship-burnings which they had been perpetrating.*" The 
Dorset ports were not fighting alone, for Hampshire, Cornwall, and probably 
Devon, were their allies in this county war, but that they should have 
been sufficiently strong and wealthy to contend with the Cinque Ports at this 
time shows their rise into importance. 

=' Pat. 5 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 24. =" Close, 2 Ediv. II, m. 22 a'. 

" Ibid. 3 Edw. II, m. I9«'. " Rot. Scot. 3 Edw. II, m. I. 

" Pat. 4 Edw. II, pt. ii, m. 7. '= Rot. Scot. 7 Edw. II, m. 6. 

" Close, 9 Edw. II, m. i 3 </. '* Rot. Scot. 1 1 Edw. II, m. 17. 

" Ibid. 12 Edw. II, m. 3. "Close, 15 Edw. II, m. 32^., 31^. 



The Scotch war was renewed in 1322 ; the ports were asked for naval 
aid to serve at their own expense as long as they could, and afterwards at that 
of the king. A thirteen years' truce with Scotland was arranged in 1323, 
but war with France then threatened, and in May, 1324, the preparation of 
a large fleet was ordered ; Weymouth was put down for ten ships, Poole, 
with its members, for four, and Lyme for two.*^ Apparently this levy v/as 
considered a nuisance by those immediately concerned in satisfying it, for we 
find by a writ of June that some of the masters and mariners of Lyme, Poole, 
Weymouth, and Wareham had ' eloigned ' themselves and their ships when 
the order was received, for which the king expressed his intention of punish- 
ing them.*' From the account of wages paid to those who obeyed we glean 
remarkable information concerning the size of ships of this period. From 
Weymouth came two of 200 tons each, one of 140, and one of 120 tons ; 
from Melcombe one of 120 and one of iio tons; from Poole two 
of 160 tons; and from Lyme one of 160, and one of 140 tons. For 
the moment there was a possibility that the Dorset ports would move 
into the first rank.** Isabella proceeded to France in 1325 to nego- 
tiate a peace between her husband and her brother, but it soon became 
evident that she was going to sacrifice the former in favour of her son. 
In 1326 invasion was seen to be imminent, and in August officials were 
nominated to survey and take up all ships of 50 tons and upwards.** For 
the southern fleet the place of concentration was Portsmouth. Early in 
September it was decided to strengthen the royal fleets still further by calling 
upon those who had not been affected by the first levy to contribute to the 
equipment of more ships. Melcombe was charged with three ships and 76 
men, Weymouth two ships and 82 men, Poole six ships and 163 men, 
and Lyme five ships and 164 men.*' It will be noticed that Bridport is 
absent from all these lists, and the fact that it does not appear in the minute 
survey of 1326 shows that it was known not to possess any sea-going craft.** 
There was no harbour,*' but some sort of shallow river exit, unfit for ship- 
ping of any size, must have existed and this had gradually deteriorated since 
the Saxon era. Such aid as it could give probably went to assist Lyme. 

A short war with Scotland marked the accession of Edward III, but 
there were no naval operations on a large scale. The Cobb of Lyme, which 
probably dates from the reign of Edward I, when the town was making such 
progress,*' is the subject of a writ in 1328 ; it was then much decayed, and a 
toll for five years on all merchandise was granted for its repair.*' It was said 
to be built of timber and stone, no doubt in the same way as is shown plainly 
in a map of the reign of Henry VIII. '" Another Scotch war commenced 
in 1332, and for some years general arrests of shipping followed each 
other in quick succession. At last the towns were becoming impatient 
of the injury to commerce, due rather to the embargoes which preceded 
the actual taking up of ships than to the levies themselves ; moreover the 
Scots had the unofficial assistance of France and Flanders, and for the 
first time carried on an effective maritime war. There were signs of 

♦' Close, 17 Edw. II, m. 1 1 </., 9 </. " Ibid. m. b d. " Add. MSS. 26891, fol. 50. 

" Close, 20 Edw. II, m. I I rf'. *Mbid. m. 8. " Pat. 20 Edw. II, m. 21. "Po/Ap. 189. 

*' Ante; p. 181. Lyme \ incorporated in 1284, but the prosperity of the town must have followed the 
construction of the Cobb, which must, therefore, be early Edward I, if not of the reign of Henry III. 
" Pat. 2 Edw. Ill, pt. ii, m 15. '» Post, p. 197. 



restiveness in several parts of the kingdom. Edward met the difficulty by, 
in appearance at least, taking his subjects into his confidence, and in Decem- 
ber, 1336, sent a representative round the coast to explain ' certain things 
near the king's heart.' " Also, he summoned delegates from the ports to 
meet him at Westminster and discuss matters when, we may be sure, social 
and other influences were brought to bear on them ; Weymouth, Melcombe, 
Poole, Wareham, and Lyme, were all invited to send their burgesses. ^- 

France declared war formally in 1337, and expectation of invasion grew 
acute in Dorset and Hampshire, where beacons were held ready and keepers of 
the coast appointed. The anticipated blow fell upon Portsmouth in i 337, and 
on Southampton in 1338 ; but nothing is known to have happened in Dorset 
in either year. The statement in the Inquisitiones Nonarian of 1340" that 
Portland had been burnt and devastated probably relates to 1339, because 
there is a writ of that year discharging the men of Studland, Swanage, 
WhiteclifF, and Herston of certain liabilities in consideration of the injuries 
suffered in a recent maritime raid." The landing here and at Portland is 
likely to have been the work of the same squadron. Edward went to 
Flanders with an army in 1338, and the usual demands for shipping were 
made, Wareham sending one vessel, Melcombe three, Weymouth and Poole 
six each, and Lyme five.*" The French fought chiefly with hired Italian 
vessels, and although they were unable to win any striking success they were 
in superiority at sea until the great victory of Sluys, in 1340, restored our 
supremacy for many years. By that time the strain of a period of more or 
less unsuccessful maritime war, and of commercial losses, was telling upon the 
English reserve of shipping therefore the sheriffs of the coast shires were 
ordered to prevent any sale of ships to foreigners.'* In consequence of the 
losses suffered by the ports it was necessary for the crown to come to their 
assistance, so that when those of the south and west promised, in 1340, to 
equip seventy ships of 100 tons and upwards as far as possible at their own 
cost, the Council undertook to help them with money ' as an especial grace.'" 
No doubt some of the Dorset ports obtained a share of the royal favour. To 
deal with the difficulties of the situation another advisory council of ship- 
owners and shipmen was summoned to meet at Westminster in 1341 ; '** to 
this Weymouth and Poole each sent a single representative, whereas the 
great ports sent two each. The plan of holding what was a subsidiary 
maritime Parliament must have been found to have its advantages, for it was 
repeated in 1342, 1344, and 1347. In 1342 and 1344 Poole, Lyme, 
Weymouth, and Melcombe sent delegates; in 1347 Weymouth was omitted. 

Complications arose in Brittany in 1342 through the death of the duke 
without direct heirs, leading to the dispatch of a large fleet and army under 
Sir Walter de Mauny, in March, while Edward himself crossed later in the 
year. In one fleet alone there were 357 vessels, of which Poole sent four, 
Weymouth and Melcombe four, and Lyme one."" An undated list, probably 

" Close, 10 Edw. Ill, in. 4 </. " Rot. Scot. 10 Edw. Ill, m. 3 d. 

■" Op. cit. (Rec. Com.) 50. " Close, 13 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 7. 

^■' Misc. Bks. of Exch. Tr. of Rec. 203, fol. 2881^. We h.ive here an opportunity of testing the accuracy 
of the chroniclers. Stow (Chnn. [ed. 161 5], p. 235) sa}S that Edward crossed with 500 ships; the pay sheets 
show that, altogether, 338 were in commission from July to November, I 3 38. 

^ Rymer, Foed. v, 210. " Rot. Pari. (Rec. Com.) ii, 108. " Rymcr, Focd v, 231. 

"' Chan. Misc. •^. The Inq. Nonarum of 1340 notes that a great part of L)'me was then destroyed by 
the sea. 

2 185 24 


relating to another fleet prepared for this expedition, gives a total of 119 
vessels, of which Poole sent three barges and Weymouth four.*" "When Edward 
returned from Brittany in March, 1343, he landed at Weymouth,'^ but there 
were reasons why his visit was not likely to be very welcome. After his 
arrival at Brest in the previous October, many of the transports had deserted, 
' leaving him and his army in very great peril.' There could have been no 
secret about the fact that he intended to make an example of the transgressors, 
although the first writs relating to the matter did not issue until May. Two 
Weymouth vessels had left him, and if the owners or others concerned were 
present at his arrival in the town they probably lived through some un- 
pleasant minutes ; the men of three Poole ships and one of Lyme had also 
committed the same offence.*- Altogether, from all the counties, 293 ships 
and their masters were scheduled, and it is certain that, at least in some cases, 
the owners were severely punished by fine or confiscation. The sum of 
upwards of ^(^3,000 was levied in fines varying in amount from 6s. Sd. to 
j^i8o ; the owners of a Poole ship paid ^^35, and those of another of Wey- 
mouth £4.0.^^ Usually, although threats were frequent and the possible 
penalties heavy, owners escaped lightly, the shipping interest being too 
powerful and important to be offended without serious consideration. 

There was a truce with France from January, 1343, which lasted, except 
for small violations on either side, until the campaign of Crecy opened. For 
Edward's passage, a great fleet — from 1,000 to 1,600 sail, say the chroniclers 
— was collected, and another attended the siege of Calais. The original 
record, said to be a Wardrobe Account, containing a list of the fleet at Calais, 
appears to have perished ; the existing copies, which offer internal evidence 
that the original MS. was in some places nearly or quite illegible when it was 
transcribed, are of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. There 
are discrepancies in these MSS. in the details relating to many of the ports, 
but in Dorset the figures are in agreement except in the case of Weymouth. 
Lyme sent 4 ships and 62 men ; Poole, 4 ships and 94 men ; Wareham, 
3 ships and 59 men ; of the six MS. copies available, five assign Wey- 
mouth 15 ships and 264 men," but the sixth gives it 20 ships with the same 
number of men." Melcombe, and the whole district around, must be in- 
cluded in Weymouth ; with Melcombe it was evidently growing a big place. 
Its great neighbour to the east, Southampton, sent 21 ships to Calais ; Ply- 
mouth, to the west, rapidly growing into a powerful naval port, sent 26 ; with 
both it compares favourably, in view of a late start and some obvious dis- 
advantages, but both without doubt possessed bigger ships than Weymouth 
and Melcombe although they do not appear in these lists. The mercantile 
and maritime importance of the towns is indicated by an order of 1 347 directing 
the bailiffs to treat Venetian ships in a friendly manner;''^ this associates them 

" Chan. Misc. ^'j. The great ports sent ships as well as barges, e.g. Southampton five ships and one barge. 

*' Close, 17 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 23 J. " Ibid. m. 4.2'. ; 17 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. i 7 «'. 

" Pipe R. 21 Edw. Ill, m. 29. 

''' Stowe MSS. 570, fol. 23 ; ibid. 574, fol. 28 ; Harl. MSS. 3968, fol. 130 ; ibid. 246 ; Ravvlinson 
MSS. (Bodleian) C. 846, fol. 17. 

" Cott. MSS. Titus, F. iii, fol. 262. The ships belonging to the eighty-three ports enumerated are nearly 
all small ones. Large vessels would only have gone aground oft' Calais at that time ; small coasters of light 
draught were required. The Calais Roll is often quoted as a measure of the maritime strength of England 
in 1346, but, even if it were reliable, it is plainly nothing of the sort. It may, however, be a guide to the 
.imount of shipping engaged in the coasting trade. ^ Close, 21 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 8. 



with only six other ports in England, and we may therefore infer the 
occasional arrival of a Venetian galley either for trade or for shelter. In 
1352 Weymouth and Melcombe were the only ports in Dorset to which a 
writ was sent, repeating the inhibition on the sale of English vessels to 
foreigners, which is further evidence of their strength in shipping/^ Mel- 
combe is frequently mentioned during this reign in relation to the export of 
wheat and as a passage port to France ; in 1371 the town authorities were 
directed to allow Portuguese merchants to trade there peaceably.*** 

The naval history of Edward III is an illustration of the fact that the 
uniform result of the destruction of an enemy's military fleets, formerly, was an 
increase of raids and privateering. Although naval victories were won and 
no resistance was, or could be, made to the transport of Edward's armies, the 
coasts were continually harassed by French incursions or the fear of them, 
while the sense of weakness was increased by the loss due to privateers and 
the exhaustion of the shipowning classes. In 1348 Bindon Abbey was 
practically in the hands of receivers, and the misfortune was attributed, among 
other causes, to the losses caused by the enemy's raids."" The reference may 
be to the events of 1339, but if, on the other hand, they were recent — and 
Budleigh, in Devonshire, had suffered considerably in i 347 — it shows that while 
the English fleets were in absolute command of the Channel, they were still 
unable to prevent those injuries which even the victor suffers in all wars. 
An unstable peace endured between 1360 and 1369 ; the recommencement 
of hostilities in the latter year was followed by a meeting of another council 
of maritime experts at Westminster, to which Weymouth, Poole, and Lyme 
sent representatives.™ The renewal of the war was attended by the complete 
loss of English supremacy in the Channel. Levy followed levy without 
result or with calamity, for while France was displaying an unexpected 
strength at sea England was suffering from the weariness of a long war and a 
weakening government. The Commons laid before the king the causes to 
which they attributed the decay of shipping, and in June, 1372, after the 
defeat of the earl of Pembroke before Rochelle, the crown was reduced to 
collecting troops along the coasts of the maritime counties to repel invasion 
instead of defending them by fleets at sea. The ordinary rate of hire for ships 
taken up by the crown was 3J. 4^. a ton for every three months, but now 
both that and wages were left unpaid in contrast to the liberality Edward had 
shown thirty years earlier, when he could afford to make extra and unusual 
payments to help the equipment of the fleets. The year 1375 was marked 
by another maritime disaster in the shape of the capture or destruction in 
Bourneuf Bay of 39 merchantmen, ranging from 300 tons downwards. Three 
Weymouth ships, of which one was of 100 tons, were lost there.'' 

Edward III died 21 June, 1377, and within a week of his death the 
French were raiding the south coast from Kent to Cornwall. Several towns 
were more or less wasted, and Melcombe is ranged among them by one 
chronicler; it must have suffered severely, for in December, 1378, the 
burgesses petitioned to be allowed delay in paying the tenths and fifteenths, 
because lately ' burnt and destroyed.' '^ In another petition of 1379 they asked 

"' Close, 25 Edw. Ill, m. 4 a'. 
'■' Pat. 22 Edw. Ill, pt. i, m. 9. 
" Chan. Dipl. Doc. P. 324. 

Rymer, Foei^. (ed. 18 16), iii, 929. 
' Rymer, Foc</. (ed. 1816), iii, 880. 
Close, 2 Ric. II, m. 22<2'. 



tor allowances to pay for walling the town." In 1388 the farm, as well as 
the tenths and fifteenths, was remitted for seven years, because ' often ' burnt 
and destroyed by the enemy, the inhabitants having thereby been driven 
away." From this it may be guessed that it suffered again when the Con- 
stable, Oliver de Clisson, harried the coast in 1380. These attempts at 
alleviation were fruitless, for in 1394 a further remission for twelve years was 
necessary." When this term expired the town was still ' poor and desolate,' 
whereas of old the customs and subsidies were wont to amount to jf 1,000 a 
year.''* In 1410 there was further reason for petition, but here the customs 
and subsidies were stated as being at least 1,000 marks.'*^ In this a definite 
assertion is made that the town was burnt in the reigns of both Edward III 
and Richard II ; the exact date of the first attack must remain unknown, but 
it may have occurred a few days before Edward's death. 

These petitions and allowances can be traced as late as 1433, when 

having consideration of its feebleness and non-sufficiency, nought inhabited nor of strength 
... as it well seemed by the loss that John Roger and other had there late for lack and 
scarcity of help and people to withstand . . . your enemies, 

SO that traders feared to send or receive merchandise there, Melcombe was 
discontinued as a customs port, the collection being removed to Poole." The 
story of the ruin of Melcombe, due to two French attacks and acknowledged 
after half a century of struggle and decline, is of general as well as of local 
interest. It has been held"" that ' cross-ravaging,' i.e. raids for destruction and 
plunder such as French and English inflicted on each other in the mediaeval 
period, were of no value in helping towards the decision of a war. It is 
altogether questionable whether such raids were merely for plunder,'* but it 
is obvious that any permanent injury done to an element of national strength, 
such as a commercial town, reduces by that much the power of the state in 
the immediate war and in the endless national rivalry which is the cause and 
sequel of wars. Here, Melcombe, which had been climbing gradually to a 
place among the leading ports, soon ceased to be a revenue-producing portion 
of the body politic ; its shipping must have nearly disappeared, and with its 
shipping its trade and seamen, for in 1407 there were only eight burgesses, 
and therefore few employers. By all this the nation was so much the poorer 
in its future contests with France. Locally, the effect of the disaster must 
have been widespread in the district to which it had been the seaport, for it 
was practically the only outlet between Poole and Lyme ; the difficulty and 
cost of transit in transporting merchandise between the interior it had served 
and the eastern and western borders of the county must, for a time, have 
extinguished the nascent commercial spirit growing up inland. By this, 
again, the nation as a whole was the poorer. But for its association with 
Weymouth in the Newfoundland fishery, which gave it a term of renewed 
life for two centuries, it would at once have sunk to the condition of coast 
village from which it was rescued by the favour of George III. Moreover, 
it is not unlikely that had it continued to grow in the especial attributes of 

■' Rot. Pari. (Rec. Com.), iii, 70. " Pat. 2 Rlc. II, pt. ii, m. 12. 

■' Ibid. 17 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. ^o. 

'^ Rot. Pari. (Rec. Com.), iii, 6 1 6. Before the assault of 1 377 there were 24 sea-going vessels and 40 fishing 
boats belonging to the town. Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (3rd ed.), ii, 450. 

"' Rot. Pari. (Rec. Com.), iii, 639. " Ibid, iv, 445. 

"" Colomb, tiaval Warfare, 3. "' Cf V.C.H. Sussex, 'Maritime Histor}-,' ii, 140. 



a seaport, and, therefore, been able to supply naval necessaries, its position 
might have caused Henry VIII to select it as a fleet-base under the altered 
condition of naval operations against France in his reign. 

It will be noticed that there is no reference to Weymouth in the 
foregoing petitions to king and Parliament. The town may have shared the 
fate of Melcombe or it may have escaped as poorer and less tempting than 
its neighbour ; in any case it was more difficult to attack and more easily 
defended than Melcombe. 

The burgesses of Lyme petitioned in February, 1378, that the town 
was being wasted by the sea and that the Cobb, large enough to shelter two 
or three barges — from which we get an idea of its size — had been destroyed 
in the gales of the previous November.^*' In this nothing was said of any 
French descent, but in one of their numerous appeals for help — that of 1410 
— they stated that the place had been burnt by the French in the reigns of 
both Edward III and Richard II." It is probable, too, that Poole was 
partly burnt in 1377.'^'^ The misfortunes of their neighbours may have 
aroused the energy of the men of Bridport and tempted them to an effort 
to take the lead of Lyme. In 1385 there was grant of a toll for three years 
to John de Hudresfeld who had begun to make a harbour, there having been 
none previously. The toll was continued for another year from 1388, and 
again for three years from 1393, to enable the bailiffs of Bridport, who then 
claimed to have begun the construction of the harbour, to finish it.*" The 
fact, however, that the toll was on goods exported or imported by water 
shows that there must have been some small shipping trade before the 
improvement was effected. 

That the events of 1377 could have occurred proves that the English 
fleet was practically non-existent ; in November of that year Parliament 
decided that the country generally, including inland towns, should be 
required to build ships by the following March, which is evidence of the 
known exhaustion of the ports. No town in Dorset was called upon, and 
that omission is almost conclusive that the county had suffered severely in 
the summer. For years the coast was more or less in a state of blockade ; 
alarms of invasion were frequent and the local levies were continually under 
arms. The marine of Weymouth was not entirely destroyed, for we find 
two ships, of which one was of 120 tons, taken up about 1383.^°^ When 
John of Ghent sailed for Spain in 1386 to obtain the crown of Castile his 
fleet of 57 ships included the James, 80 tons, of Poole. This ship was also 
engaged in the passenger trade, now developing, in the carriage of pilgrims 
direct from England to perform their devotions at the shrine of St. James of 
Compostella."* Another such vessel was the Katherine, of Lyme, newly 
built in 1395.*^^ 

Formal hostilities with France ceased in 1389, but although no declara- 
tion of war came from either side during the remainder of Richard's reign 
and that of Henry IV, the truce was only nominal. English and French 
royal fleets did not meet as declared enemies after a ceremonial rupture, but 
short of that the conditions differed nothing from open war. French and 

"■" Pat. I Ric. II, pt. iii, m. 3 d. " Rot. Pari, iii, 640. "•■ Froissart, Chron. cap. 378. 

'" Pat. 9 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 20 ; ibid. 12 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 3 ; ibid. 16 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 10. 
*" Exch. Accts. K.R. bdle. 42, No. 22. " 19 Ric. II, pt. i, m. 29. 

""'' Ibid. 18 Ric. II, pt. ii, m. 15. 



English raided each other's coasts, and each made captures at sea. War was 
considered so certain in 1401 that in January not only the ports but many ot 
the inland towns were ordered, singly or in combination, to build and equip 
ships at their own cost by the following April "*- ; Weymouth was grouped 
with Seaton and Sidmouth for a balinger between them, Lyme with Exmouth 
for one barge, and Poole, Wareham, and Melcombe together for another. It 
is difficult to say which town takes the lead as being considered the wealthiest 
in the county, but Melcombe is shown to have fallen from its former place. 
Parliament met on 23 January and protested against this call upon the 
country. Henry's position was too uncertain to permit him to insist, as he 
might have done, on the strict legality of his action, therefore he was com- 
pelled to content himself with a general arrest of shipping, in May, of the 
usual type, by which the same ports were affected.*^' English merchants 
were reckoning up French spoliations to the amount of ^100,000, done 
under cover of the Scotch war, and the French chroniclers were recording 
the ravaging of their coasts by whole fleets of English pirates. The famous 
Henry Pay, of Poole, appears in 1402 as charged with piracy in company 
with other sailors belonging to towns of the south coast. *^ By 1404 the 
political vane had veered and Pay was then empowered to fit out privateers, 
perhaps because the French had fallen upon Portland in the spring and swept 
it with fire and sword. They did not, however, escape scathless ; probably 
their strength was very small, and when the inhabitants, reinforced from the 
main land, attacked them many were killed or taken prisoners.*'' In 1405 
an English fleet burnt 40 Norman towns and villages, and the French took 
some small revenge along the south coast. It had been intended that three 
galleys and 40 ships belonging to Castile should have joined a French 
squadron ; but in the result only the three Spanish and two French galleys, 
under Don Pedro Nino and Charles de Savoisi, sailed in August. After 
operations in Cornwall and Devon they made Portland, where they met 
with little resistance. ''*' Then the writer of La Victoria! digresses at length 
on the misdeeds of Henry Pay (' Arripay '), and as they were under the 
impression that Poole belonged to him it was no wonder that the com- 
manders seized the opportunity to pay some old debts. They went into the 
harbour one morning towards the end of September and found the town 
unfortified but looking defensible and populous — so much so that Savoisi, 
whose feelings were perhaps less embittered, refused to allow his men to 
land. The Spaniards went ashore, and there was a sharp fight ; their object 
being revenge they tried to fire the place rather than to plunder it, and they 
did burn some buildings, including a large storehouse full of naval stores. 
Eventually the Spaniards were so hard pressed that the French had to come 
to their assistance ; and although the Spanish writer says that the English 
were forced to give way it seems more likely, as the town was not burnt, 
that the French only succeeded in bringing ofF their allies. One of Henry 
Pay's brothers was killed in the defence. The redoubtable Pay was himself 
at sea in 1407, and took a fleet of 120 French merchantmen, but it is 
uncertain whether he had any Dorset ships with him. 

" Rymer, Foedera, viii, 172. 

*»^ Pat. 2 Hen. IV, pt. ii, m. 16. '' Close, 4 Hen. IV, m. 30. 

'^' '9^j-aitx,Focdira, viii, 356. The ' Raase' of Portland is noticed in 1408 (Roll of For. Accts. 10 Hen. W, 
m. A.) *"" La Vktorial {^A. Circourt et Puigaigre), Paris, 1867. 



The closing years of the reign of Henry IV were somewhat more 
peaceful at sea than had been the earlier ones. Henry V had perhaps formed 
his own opinion of the anarchy that had existed, for in 141 4 he instituted 
officials, called conservators of truces, in every port who, assisted by two 
legal assessors, and holding their authority from the High Admiral, were to 
have powers of inquiry and punishment in relation to all illegal proceedings 
at sea/* They were to keep a register of the ships and seamen belonging 
to each port and acted as adjudicators in such cases as did not go before the 
Admiralty Court. They seem, so far as related to judicial functions, to have 
been a link on the civil side between the earlier keepers of the coast and the 
vice-admirals of the coast created in the sixteenth century. That the statute 
was strictly enforced and helped to produce quieter conditions at sea is shown 
by the fact that two years later the king consented to some modification of 
its stringency by promising to issue letters of reprisal when equitable. In 
1435 it was entirely suspended, being found ' so rigorous and grievous,' said 
the Commons ; in that year Burgundy broke away from the English alliance, 
and the shipowners foresaw hostilities and profits. In 145 1 it was brought 
into force again for a short time, and once more renewed by Edward IV. 

Henry V began his reign with the intention of having a great fleet of 
his own. The custom of general impressment was now expensive, both to 
the shipowner and to the crown ; moreover, it was slow in operation, while 
in the mind of a great soldier like Henry speed in concentration and in 
striking was a necessary element of his combinations. There were also 
political reasons for not disturbing trade, now beginning to take a wider 
flight. The system could not be, and was not, at once abolished, but it 
became much less frequent during the fifteenth century ; a definite note of 
change is sounded in the establishment of cruisers round the coast in 141 5, 
five vessels being stationed between Plymouth and the Isle of Wight.*^ The 
great fleet of upwards of 1,400 vessels required for the campaign of Agin- 
court included a contingent from Dorset, but very many were hired in 
Holland and Zealand, either because the resources of the kingdom were 
insufficient or Henry resolved not to tax them unduly. In 141 6 the French 
had a fleet at sea which contained some hired Spanish and Genoese vessels of 
large size ; they were off Portland in May, and did some damage in the 
island, but as a whole their cruise was not very successful, and in August 
many of the ships of their fleet joined the Royal Navy by right of capture. 
For Henry's passage to France in 1417 another large fleet was collected, but 
out of one list of 238 vessels 117 belonged to Holland and Zealand. Many 
of the English ports were unrepresented, and it seems clear that Henry had 
determined from the first to make war with as little economic disturbance as 
possible — to do with his own ships the fighting which cleared the road and to 
use foreign ones to transport his troops. There were, however, six Dorset 
ships in the fleet of 1417, three from Poole, two from Wareham, and one 
from Weymouth."' It has been noticed that the oversea transport of pilgrims 
to the shrine of St. James was springing up during the reign of Richard II. 
The business grew rapidly during the first half of the fifteenth century, and 
merchants and nobles seem to have been equally eager to obtain a share in 
what must have been a lucrative traffic. Most of the ships so employed 

" 2 Hen. V, cap. 6. " Proc. ofP.C. (ist sen), ii, 145. ^ Rot. Norman, (ed. Hardy, 1835), 320-9. 



belonged to the southern ports, but any taken up for the purpose must 
necessarily have been of considerable size judged by the standard of that age. 
Ships of Weymouth and Poole were running frequently, and occasionally one 
from Wareham." 

After the death of Henry V one of the first proceedings of the Regency 
was to sell off the Royal Navy by auction, but the loss was not felt at once, 
because there was no French force capable of contesting the dominion of the 
sea. There were arrests of shipping during the early years of the new reign, 
but there was now a general feeling that in this method ' the long coming 
together of the ships is the destruction of the country.'** Vessels were still 
impressed for the transport of troops, but the cruising service was handed 
over to contractors who undertook to keep the sea with a certain number of 
ships and men for a specified time. Or course, the contractors desired to 
obtain as much money and go to as little expense as possible ; their guardian- 
ship was quite ineffective, and as early as 1429 the Commons petitioned 
about the pirates who were again becoming numerous in the Channel.*' 
Perhaps among the rovers referred to were the crews of the 'James of 
Studland and Welfare of Swanage, who drove ashore a foreign ship and 
then plundered her.'" Parliament, in 1442, expressed the general dissatis- 
faction with the contract system, and prepared a scheme by which a 
squadron was to be made up of selected ships from various ports. None 
of the large ships came from Dorset, but a barge and a pinnace, belonging 
to Harvey Russell of Weymouth, were chosen.'' All the vessels of this 
squadron seem to have been picked ships with a reputation. Poole replaced 
Melcombe as a customs port in 1433, and in view of its promotion obtained 
a licence to fortify, but it seems to have been little, if at all, in advance of 
Weymouth in maritime importance ; in 1454 the two places were joined for 
a contribution of _^50 when certain nobles undertook to keep a fleet at sea.'* 
The Bridport Harbour of 1385-95 can never have been a great success ; by 
1447 it was in a ruinous condition, and the burgesses were too poor to restore 
it. From the two archbishops and from thirteen bishops they procured 
indulgences by the sale of which they hoped to gain sufficient money to pay 
for the repairs. At the time politics were exciting more urgent interest 
and there was no great demand for indulgences ; one of the collectors wrote 
that to his ' great shame and anger ' he was not making enough to pay 
his expenses ; another disappeared with all that he had received.'^ There 
may also have been French raids checking coastal traffic and growth 
generally. According to one writer Bexington, near Abbotsbury, was 
burnt in such a descent in 1439 or 1440, after which it was deserted.'* 
If this is true Bexington could hardly have been the only place in the 
county which suffered, and it is certain that in other counties there were 
similar attacks not recorded by the chroniclers. 

There are extant several hsts of ships taken up for the transport of troops 
in 1439, 1440, 1443, 1447, and 1452 ; '' of these expeditions those of 1439 

" Rot. Franc. /<?//. *' Prcc. of P.C. (ist scr.), v. 102. ^ Rot. Pari. (Re-. Com.), iv, 350. 

" Pat. 7 Hen. VI, pt. i, m. \6 d. ' S.indwich ' in the writ, but .is late as the eighteenth century 
Svvan.igc was often called Sandwich. " Rot. Pari. (Rec. Com.), v, 59. 

'"' Ibid. 244. Only sixteen towns were assessed, including London, Bristol, Southampton, &:c. 
" Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. vi, App. +95. " Coker, Surz\ of Dorset (cd. 1732), 29. 

" Exch. Accts. K. R. bdle. 53, Nos. 23, 24, 25, 39 ; bdle. 54, Nos. 10, 14. 



and 1440 sailed from Poole. Seeing that the lists represent only a portion, 
large or small, of the merchant marine, they show that notwithstanding war 
and weak government it was still flourishing, a few of the vessels being of 
300 and 400 tons. None of this size came from Dorset ; the largest, of 180 
tons, belonged to Weymouth, and four others were also owned there, including 
one of 100 and one of 120 tons. There were six Poole ships, of which the 
largest was of 160 tons and the next of 120 tons ; Swanage sent one vessel of 
26 tons. 

Sea-power played no great part in the wars of the Roses, both parties 
enjoying freedom of water transit. As a whole the ports were Yorkist in 
their sympathies, and the Weymouth people had so far impressed Edward IV 
with their affection for him that in 1461 he made them a grant of jTioo in 
recompense of the losses they had sustained in supporting him.°' Almost 
simultaneously there was a pardon to Lyme — which, as usual, was pleading 
devastation by the sea — of arrears due to the crown, therefore that town also 
may be assumed to have been Yorkist in inclination." Margaret, with the 
Prince of Wales, landed at Weymouth, driven in by weather, on 14 April, 
1 47 1, the day the battle of Barnet was fought, but she probably received 
scant welcome for Weymouth was still in favour with Edward and receiving 
benefits from him in 1467.'' There were several arrests of ships in 1475 for 
the French war ; one of them, from Newcastle to Bristol, must be almost, if 
not quite, the last example of a general arrest affecting the whole country. 
In October, 1484, Henry Tudor sailed from Brittany to join the duke of 
Buckingham, who had revolted against Richard III. Henry's fleet was 
scattered by storm ; he made Poole in his own ship, but was too wary to be 
enticed ashore among the enemies waiting for him. Neither Dorset nor any 
other county has much maritime history during the reign of Henry VII. 
The king was not ignorant of the value of sea-power, and he increased the 
crown navy, but his reign was peaceful and he preferred, for political reasons, 
to hire Spanish ships to act with his own where his predecessors would have 
used English ones. In relation to Dorset the most important event of the 
reign, although unrecognized at the time, was Cabot's Newfoundland voyage 
which, as the first cause of the fishery, was to have a far-reaching influence 
on the fortunes of Weymouth and Poole. 

During these centuries there must have been many wrecks on the deadly 
Chesil beach, on Portland, and in the scarcely less dangerous bay between 
Portland and Durlstone Head. They do not appear in the records for, unless 
a cargo was of more than ordinary value, the time and money necessary to set 
in motion the cumbrous processes of the crown must have been prohibitive of 
appeal when survivors had seen their property shared among the landowners 
in the vicinity of the wreck. The right of wreck was coveted by manorial 
lords and corporations, both for profit and as evidence of exemption from the 
inquisition of the High Admiral. Legally, if man, dog, or cat escaped alive 
from a ship it was no wreck, but if the cargo once came into the hands of 
those ashore there was small chance of recovery. Every corporation used such 
influence as it possessed to obtain local jurisdiction in admiralty matters, not 
only as a question of dignity and profit but even more in order to escape the 
arbitrary and expensive proceedings of the Lord Admiral's deputies, who 

** Pat. I EJw. IV, pt. iv, m. 20. *' Ibid. pt. iii, m. 10. '' Ibid. 6 Edw. IV, pt. ii, m. 13. 

2 193 25 


brought much odium upon their master. In Dorset the crown had, from 
very early times, granted away much of its right of wreck ; we find from the 
Hundred Rolls that in 1275 the abbey of St. Edward had such rights in the 
manor of Studland, the abbey of Cerne at Bridport, the abbey of Bindon at 
Waddon, the priory of Christchurch at Fleet, and, besides other private 
owners, the earl of Gloucester in the manors of Wyke, Weymouth, Portland, 
and Holwell. 

In the reign of Edward II the abbey of Milton took wreck at ' Frome- 
mouth,' Osmington, Holworth, and Ower." The reference to Fromemouth 
is interesting because the corporation of Poole claimed to have enjoyed 
admiralty rights, in a wide form, from time immemorial, although the legal 
recognition of them was comparatively late. Wreck on Brownsea Island was 
granted to the abbey of Cerne in 1 1 54,"° and at the dissolution this passed 
to the earl of Oxford. In 1364 the Poole burgesses obtained a certificate 
from the mayor and barons of Winchelsea on which they pretended to rely 
in support of their claims, but the certificate only defines the extent of Poole 
harbour, and in any case would have no more value as evidence about 
admiralty rights than one from the town crier. The real recognition of 
their freedom from the Lord Admiral's inquisition is contained in an in- 
speximus of 4 September, 1526, by Viscount Lisle, on behalf of the Lord 
Admiral, which placed their claim on a firm basis by confirming their 
exemptions. This inspeximus does refer to early exemptions which may 
have been exercised by prescription, and if such exercise had been tacitly 
allowed it is evidence of the maritime importance of Poole, for the crown 
only granted such rights by way of reward, or permitted them to be practised 
when the ports were able to render services of value to the state. But the 
Lord Admiral's deputies continued to act in Brownsea, possibly by succession 
from the earl of Oxford, and the conflict of authority gave rise to much 
friction."^ The Weymouth people insisted at one time that their admiralty 
rights were held in virtue of a grant from King Ethelred,"' but it is more 
likely that, as in the case of Poole, they had been permitted when Weymouth 
and Melcombe seemed growing into first-rate ports. The Ethelred basis was 
never admitted by the Lord Admiral, and there were frequent disputes between 
his officers and those of the town during the reign of Elizabeth ; "' the 
charter of i July, 161 6, at last gave Weymouth and Melcombe freedom from 
the Lord Admiral's visitations. 

With the reign of Henry VIII the era of arrests and impressment of 
shipping may be said to have terminated. The port towns were still some- 
times to be called upon to provide ships, but such towns were usually 
associated in order to lessen the expense and, eventually, the county as a 
whole contributed to the cost. Improvements in building and armament 
were now differentiating the man-of-war from the merchantman ; the latter 
was of little use in fleets except, as an Elizabethan seaman said, ' to make a 
show,' and to have required the ports to furnish real men-of-war would have 
ruined them. It was one of the purposes of Henry's life to create a national 
navy, and there was not a year of his reign that did not witness some accre- 
tion to its strength. Such merchantmen as he required were hired without 

" Pat. 5 Edw. II, pt. i, m. 17. '" Sydenham, Hist, of Poole, 385. 

"' Post, p. 198. "" Add. MSS. 12505, fol. 392. "» See tost, p. 198. 



the exercise of the prerogative, but the more effective the royal navy became 
the less reason there w^as for the employment of armed merchantmen except 
under especial circumstances. It is not until the reign of Elizabeth that we 
find in force the further development of the right of impressment, the 
demand for fully-armed ships at the cost of the ports, which was the imme- 
diate legal precedent for the ship-money levies. The first war with France, of 
I 5 12— 13, was fought almost entirely by men-of-war ; there were some hired 
ships, as tenders and victuallers, with the fleets but none is known to have come 
from Dorset. It need hardly be said that although impressment of ships had 
practically ceased the impressment of men continued, and among the crews 
of the 15 12— 13 fleets 126 men came from the Chideock district.^"* Ship- 
wrights and caulkers were impressed at Poole at the same period to come to 
the new dockyard at Woolwich to help in the building of the Henry Grace 
de Dieu}^^ Bridport was encouraged in the conduct of its particular industry, 
cables and cordage being bought there by the government; in 1530 a 
statute was enacted intended to benefit the town by preventing local compe- 
tition."' Melcombe was still impoverished, and even towards the end of the 
reign obtained reductions in the farm and in taxation on account of the 
destruction wrought so long ago by the French. 

War with France and Scotland broke out again in 1522 but the ports 
play little direct part in the naval warfare of Henry VIII nor, if they had 
been called upon, were those of Dorset likely to have added any material 
strength to the national armaments. Lyme obtained a grant, in 1535, of 
_^2o yearly for ten years in consideration of the ruinous condition of the 
Cobb, and petitioned again in the following year that the town was decay- 
ing."' In 1543 a return of shipping, generally, was called for in view of 
approaching war, from which we find that there were six vessels sailing from 
Lyme, of which the largest was of 72 tons ; one of the owners lived at 
Bridport and another at Chard."* Only 1 3 seamen were named, probably 
those at home at the moment of registration. There were 19 men and one 
vessel of 14 tons at Charmouth, 14 men and one vessel of 18 tons at Bridport, 
two ships, of which the largest was of 60 tons, and 18 men at Weymouth 
and Melcombe, and three vessels, of which the largest was of 70 tons, at 
Poole, The biggest vessel owned in the county was the Mary and John, of 
120 tons, belonging to Thomas Wade of Burton Bradstock ; upwards of 170 
seafaring men lived in the villages along the coast. 

About 1539 Henry feared that an alliance of the continental states would 
be formed against the kingdom. The new navy, although a mightier 
offensive weapon than any that England had hitherto possessed, was as yet an 
untried weapon. The preceding centuries were fraught with the lesson that 
the enemies of England were best met on the English seas, but there was a 
natural inclination, especially in an age which was tending towards formalism 
in military science, to fall back upon the orthodox defences of castles, sconces, 
and bulwarks to prevent a landing or to support a defending force. As early 
as 1535 the idea of fortifying the weak points round the coast was in the air, 
for Cromwell then noted in his ' Remembrances ' that a small tax formerly 
paid to Rome might well be diverted to such a purpose. However at that 

'« Chap. Ho. Bks. ii, fol. 7. '"' Ibid, v, fol. 179. ""^ 21 Hen. VIII, cap. 12. 

'»' L. and P. Hen. Fill, viii, 149 (12) ; ibiJ. x, 179. "" Ibid, xviii, 547. 


time Calais and Dover were the only places upon which money was being 
spent lavishly, and the fortifications elsewhere were not commenced until 
1539. It appears that, at first, Lyme was the only Dorset port set down for 
defence,^"' but when commissioners to ' search and defend the coasts ' were 
shortly afterwards appointed their recommendations caused a larger plan to 
be framed."" Sir John Russell became a peer in the spring of 1539 ; in 
April he surveyed the coast of Dorset and sent ' a plat ' of it to Cromwell.'" 
This map is no doubt the one now in the British Museum Library,'" which 
shows proposed works at Bournemouth, Brownsea, Poole, Portland, Sandsfoot, 
the base of the Nothe at Weymouth, and at the end of Lyme Cobb. Fire 
beacons are shown on the downs along the coast and at North Haven Point. 
If the scheme was ever accepted in its entirety it was not carried out ; the 
Bournemouth, Poole, and Lyme forts were dropped, and that at Brownsea 
was built by the Poole burgesses for it is never, at any time, found among 
the list of royal forts ; it was garrisoned by the Poole men, and the earliest 
reference to it in 1545 shows that it was then under construction at their 

The French ambassador was closely watching the progress of Henry's 
new defences and writing frequent reports about them to his sovereign. 
Those intended to close the Solent and cover Portsmouth he went to see for 
himself, for to know their strength or weakness was of vital importance to 
the French government. He did not proceed to Dorset, which was of 
secondary value militarily, and where the works were proceeding more slowly. 
There is a reference, in the shape of a payment to the master gunner there, 
to a block-house at Weymouth in 1543, presumably the one at the foot of 
the Nothe."* Portland and Sandsfoot were of the same type, architecturally, 
as the other large castles erected to the eastward, and were placed to cross 
their fire over Portland Roads. The local seamen must have been consulted 
about the position selected for Sandsfoot because, as it was placed, it leads in 
line with the north-east point of the isle of Portland, over the Shambles in 
four fathoms, thus affording a sailing mark for the navigation into the Roads 
and to Weymouth. At first all the coast defences, except those within the 
Cinque Ports, were placed under the control of the Lord Admiral, and regula- 
tions were drawn up for their government,'" but they soon passed out of his 
hands. Probably it was not considered advisable to entrust a subject with 
so much power. 

War with France and Scotland recommenced in i 543, but the contribu- 
tion of Dorset to it lay in the supply of men rather than ships. In 1545 it 
was calculated that 5,000 sailors would be required for the royal fleet in 
the summer, 'in which there will be some difficulty.' The men preferred 
privateering to the royal service, so that in August a circular letter was 
addressed to the mayors and others of the western counties intimating that if 
the seamen did not join the king's ships they would indulge their preference 

'•" L. and P. Hin. Vlll, xiv (i), 655. 

"" Ibid. 398. Among the commissioners were Sir John Russell, Sir Giles Strangeways, and Sir John 
Horsey, for Dorset. 

'" Ibid. 685. "• Cott. MSB. Aug. I, i, 31, 33. 

'" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (3rd ed.), i, 649. In 1558 the Privy Council, in writing to the corponition 
of Poole, speak of it as belonging to the town (ibid, i, 8). 

'" Pat. 34 Hen. VIII, pt. iii, m. 26. "' Lansd. MSS. 170, fol. 303. 



at the risk of their lives. The west country was swept bare of men ; on 
2 2 August Lord Russell wrote to the Privy Council that in Dorset and 
Devon the fishing boats were ' manned ' by women ' which I think hath not 
been seen.' West-country privateering was so successful, and so dangerous 
to our relations with neutrals, that in April, 1546, Henry ordered that no 
privateers should sail from Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall, and that all at 
sea should be recalled."* Poole had its share of this success, judging from a 
question relating to the payment of prize money which came before the 
Council."^ In 1545 a French fleet was outside Portsmouth and the opera- 
tions there are recorded in all local and general histories ; but it appears that 
they were also on the Dorset coast in 1544, although that fact has escaped 
notice. A witness giving evidence in 1580 mentioned that the French 
attacked Lyme in 1544 but were beaten off;"' possibly the new defences 
saved Weymouth a similar experience. It has been observed that the 
burgesses of Lyme obtained a grant in 1535 to enable them to repair the 
Cobb, which was then described as made ' with great timber pight and pyled 
very deep in the ground, filled in with great rocks and stones between the 
said timber.'"' Melcombe, in 1543, was again pardoned nearly the whole 
of the money due for its tenths and fifteenths, and therefore was evidently 
in no flourishing condition. 

The occurrence of piracy and wrecking becomes more noticeable 
during the reign of Henry VIII, not because the offences were more preva- 
lent — there were probably fewer cases than during preceding centuries — but 
because documentary evidence is more plentiful and because suppression was 
attempted more seriously. Henry was no more likely to allow his authority 
to be contemned at sea than on land ; and to make it felt at sea, even in time 
of peace, was one way of enforcing the maritime supremacy of England he 
had always in view. No single life could have been long enough to see 
complete success, but the steps he took mark a great advance in the organiza- 
tion of repressive measures, and only the application or extension of them 
was left to his successors. It had been found that the existing system of 
trial for piracy was nearly useless, the offender having to confess before he 
could be sentenced, or his guilt having to be proved by disinterested witnesses 
who, naturally, could seldom be present at sea. By two statutes, 27 Hen. 
VIII, cap. 4, and 28 Hen. VIII, cap. 15, such crimes were in future to be 
tried according to the forms of the common and not, as hitherto, the civil 
law. Probably for the better administration of these statutes and for other 
reasons — the execution of a treaty with France concerning depredations at 
sea, the strict protection of the king's and Lord Admiral's rights in wreck and 
other matters, the registration of the ships and men available and the levy of 
seamen, the examination of ships going to sea touching their armed strength 
and the peaceful nature of the voyage, the exaction of bonds from captains 
and owners as security for good conduct, and the safe keeping of prizes and 
prize goods — it was deemed advisable to have round the coast permanent 
representatives of the Lord Admiral who should be of higher social rank and 
armed with greater authority than the deputies who had hitherto visited each 

'" Acts ofP.C. 13 April, 1546. '" Ibid. 14 Oct. 1546. 

'" Exch. Spec. Com. 715. 

'" Exch. Misc. ■^. This construction is shown in the Cottonian map of 1539. 



county or district collecting the Lord Admiral's profits or maintaining his 
rights. The officers in question, the vice-admirals of the counties, were, in 
their civil functions, the descendants historically of the keepers of the coast 
and the conservators of truces of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and 
there is not one of the duties of the vice-admirals which cannot be paralleled 
among those performed by their predecessors. Now, instead of acting 
temporarily, or subject to the hostile influence in Parliament of the mercantile 
classes, they became a band of crown officials stationed round the whole 
coast, supported by the power of the Tudor despotism and continued without 
any interruption during which their authority might diminish by discon- 
tinuance of action.^'" It was practically a new police measure and, on the 
whole and under normal conditions, attained its object by rendering the 
difficulties of preparation, the chances of detection, and the probabilities of 
punishment greater so far as shipping set out with a criminal intent was con- 
cerned ; while the vice-admirals' officers kept a close watch on the more 
evilly-disposed inhabitants of the coast who had hitherto helped pirates or 
indulged in wrecking with impunity. 

The scheme did not come into operation simultaneously over all 
England but developed out of necessity and according to opportunity. The 
first nomination known by precise date is that for Norfolk and Suffolk in 
1536; within a few years other vice-admirals were acting in most of the 
counties. Sir Hugh Paulet holding the appointment for Somerset and Dorset. 
The two counties were soon separated, and during the remainder of the 
century the Ashleys, the Howards of Bindon, Sir Christopher Hatton, and 
Carew Ralegh held the office. Hatton obtained wreck rights in the 
Isle of Purbeck for himself ; "^ Carew Ralegh filled the office between 
1592 and 1603, when his appointment was revoked on account of some 
arrangement he had made with his deputy, John Randall. This man, 
Randall, was a thorn in the flesh for Poole ; the exemptions of the town 
were too firmly based on the patent of 1526 to be really questioned, but 
Randall was in control at Brownsea, and in many ways, there and ashore, 
annoyed the corporation. The troubles of Weymouth have already been 
referred to. In 1 570 the bailiffs withdrew all claim to admiralty jurisdic- 
tion except in relation to such disputes as originated in the town between 
burgesses ; "' subsequently the union of Weymouth and Melcombe under 
charter may have infused fresh courage, for between 1590 and 1600 the 
tension between the two towns and the Lord Admiral was acute. In 1593 
the mayor and others were cited before the Admiralty Court in London ; 
what they had to expect there may be inferred from the Lord Admiral's order 
to the judge to arrest them as soon as they appeared on a charge of receiving 
pirates' plunder.^*' In 1597, again, the town officers were in trouble for 
neglecting press warrants ; in the same year 23 of the principal inhabitants 
signed a protest complaining of the action of the previously mentioned 
John Randall.^'* The Weymouth claim, if exercised, was never admitted 
by the Lord Admiral or the Privy Council,"' but the attitude of the 

"" The patents of appointment were from the Lord Admiral, sometimes for life and sometimes during 
pleasure. I am indebted to Mr. R. G. Marsden, who has made a special study of the history of the evolution 
of the vlce-admiralship (see Engl. Hist. Rev. July, 1907), for much information on this subject. 

'■■ Pat. 14 Eliz. m. 9. '" Add. MSS. 12505, fol. 173. '" Ibid. fol. 392. '» Ibid. fol. 423, 441. 
Cott. MSS. Vesp. F. ix, fol. 247 ; Jcls ofP.C. xvi, 406 ; 26 July, 26 Aug. 1565. 




latter body was largely due to the influence of the Lord Admiral, himself 
a member of it. There is no doubt that the privileges of the exempted 
towns were distinctly prejudicial to good government ; in the case of 
Weymouth the notoriety attained by the joint towns in the matter of their 
dealings with pirates may be ascribed, in great measure, to a civic execu- 
tive always weak and often not disinterested. 

In the reign of Charles I the earl of Suffolk, another Howard, was 
vice-admiral both for Dorset and for the town and county of Poole ; there- 
after the two districts were often under the same head. Stricter legislation, 
the decline of piracy, and the increase of the navy, changed for the better 
after the Civil War and the Restoration the conditions that had made the 
vice-admirals useful, and their positions tended to become more and more 
honorary. During the eighteenth century the Paulets, either as marquises of 
Winchester or dukes of Bolton, with an occasional Trenchard or Strangeways, 
held the titular rank of vice-admiral of Dorset. 

There is a reference in 1550 to certain ' bulwarks in Purbeck,' probably 
earthworks thrown up at Swanage and Studland to meet a temporary neces- 
sity. By 1552 the Privy Council had decided to reduce or disestablish a 
number of the permanent fortifications ' which stood the king's majesty in 
very great charges and in no service at all ; ' among them were Sandsfoot 
and Portland, of which the garrisons were reduced."' The uneasy political 
conditions at home and abroad soon forced the important Dorset fortresses 
into prominence again. In May, 1557, information was obtained that the 
French were meditating an attack on Portland ; the care of the county 
was entrusted to Lord St. John, who was told to watch especially Poole, 
Weymouth, and Portland, soldiers being sent to the latter and the inhabitants 
mustered and organized."^ Philip II had dragged England into war with 
France, and it was necessary to reinforce the queen's fleets by hired merchant- 
men. There was none from Dorset with the Lord Admiral in the Channel, 
but there were two from Poole and Weymouth under Sir John Clere in the 
North Sea."^ In 1558 many of the ports, encouraged by advantages offered 
by the crown, sent privateers to sea, six sailing from Dorset as compared 
with 22 from Devon."' 

The reign of Mary sent many of the outlawed and the discontented to 
the refuge of the sea, and the political unrest tempted others who were 
criminals by opportunity to seek fortune there. Both classes were called 
pirates, and after the failure of Wyatt's rising in February, 1554, the former 
are frequently in evidence in the Council minutes. In August the lords of 
the Council ordered the execution of certain pirates in Dorset, but there is 
little doubt that they were rebels."" Henry Strangeways, belonging to the 
well-known Dorset family, seems to have begun his career as a pirate without 
such excuse of conscience, for in February, 1552-3, he was plying his trade 
in Irish waters with such success that two men-of-war were prepared at 
Portsmouth to seek him."^ Strangeways worked with the Cornish Killi- 
grews, arch-pirates themselves,"^ and was on sufficiently good terms with 

'" Acts ofP.C. 26 Feb., 4 May, 1552. 

'" S.P. Foreign, II May, 1557 ; ibid. Dom. Mary, x, Nos. 61, 62. 

•'' Ibid, xi, No. 38. "» Admir. Ct. Exemp. v, 288. 

"» Act! ofP.C. 9, 13 Aug. 1554. •" Ibid. 21 Feb. 6 March, 1552-3. 

"' See V.C.H. Cornwall, i, 488 et seq. 



officials to use Portland Castle as a storehouse for his plunder."' He is next 
heard of on the coast of Suffolk, but in November, 1555, was in the Tower. 
No harm came to him of this, and it is quite certain that many of these 
adventurers, including Strangeways, were in secret communication with 
dignitaries of State, who, sitting in council, offered rewards for their bodies."* 
In one state paper or another Strangeways' name is seldom missing for a 
month during these years. In September, 1559, he was taken with eighty 
of his crew, tried in London and condemned to death, but reprieved 
at the last moment."*^ After the accession of Elizabeth he seems to 
have determined to go further afield, and, with a partner, planned to sail 
from Plymouth ' to take an island of the king of Spain's.' "' A declaration 
that they were only sailing as merchants brought permission to leave, but as. 
he was in prison in December, 1560, we may suppose that Spanish merchant- 
men were found easier to reach than one of Philip's islands."' That, after 
his career, he was then liberated on promise of good conduct points to some 
powerful protection and former political services. It is an interesting 
example of heredity or family tendency to find, from 1587 onwards, a 
Melchior Strangeways continually proclaimed for piracy, although he 
was probably more of a privateersman. While Melchior was ' wanted,' 
John Strangeways was a deputy-lieutenant for Dorset. 

The plague of piracy was bad enough during the reign of Elizabeth, 
but many of the cases which the sufferers so regarded were really seizures, 
of enemy's goods in neutral ships and were questions for the judge of the 
Admiralty Court. In 1561 general directions to watch the coast were 
issued to the vice-admirals, for the great difficulty in extirpating the pirates 
lay in the help and sympathy extended to them everywhere."^ The peace 
of 1564 and the protests of the continental states forced Elizabeth to more 
energetic action ; a circular letter to the vice-admirals called their attention 
to the suggestive fact that although many pirates had been taken not one 
had been executed."' A year later, recognizing that stronger measures were 
necessary — ' the inconvenience not yet being removed,' in the placid language 
of the commission — especial piracy commissioners with large powers were 
nominated for each county, and they were to appoint deputies at every creek 
and landing-place."' As the pirates had friends and receivers in nearly every 
port these proceedings were not of much avail ; the business became still 
more difficult to handle when the Prince of Orange issued letters of marque, 
many of which were taken out by Englishmen, while many Dutch ships had 
Englishmen on board. The Orange privateers were an element of high state 
policy, and Elizabeth did not hold it advisable entirely to crush them even if 
it had been in her power to do so. Subsequently the Spanish Netherlands 
followed the example of the Dutch and sent out privateers, the beginning 
of the affliction of ' Dunkirkers ' which plagued the coast for more than a 
century, while Englishmen also obtained letters of marque from the Huguenot 

leaders in France. 


'^ Marsden, Selict Pleas of the Court of AJmiralfj, ii, 85. George Strangeways was captain of Port'and. 
'» Ced/MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), i, 489. '"' Machyn's Diary (Camd. Soc), 206. 212, 213. 

"» jicls of B.C. 28 April, 1559. "« Ibid. 2 May, 1559 ; S.P. Dom. Eliz. xiv. No. 60. 

'" S.P. Dom. Eliz. xviii, No. 23. "» Jcti ofP.C. 23 Dec. 1564. 

'" Ibid. 8 Nov. 1565 ; S.P. Dom. Eliz. xxxviii. No. 9. For Dorset, Sir Wm. Paulet, Sir Hen. Ashley, 
Geo. Rogers, and Robert Coker. 



Although foreign courts protested loudly it must not be supposed that 
England alone produced pirates. In June, 1574, the vice-admiral of Dorset 
wrote that ' there lies at this present so many pirates upon this coast, being 
Frenchmen, that no English ship is able to pass to any place without great 
danger.'^*" However, the English were undeniably the worst ; in 1577 new 
commissioners were appointed, and still more stringent methods of repression 
adopted, an attempt being made to strike at the root of the evil by reaching 
the aiders and abettors ashore. Persons who helped pirates, or dealt with 
them, were now to be prosecuted and fined, and the fines were to go towards 
compensating the victims ; the takers of pirates were to have a proportion of 
the goods found on board, and commissions were to be granted to private 
persons to set out ships pirate-hunting.^" The new commissioners made 
many interesting discoveries in Dorset, not the least being the difficulty in 
obtaining disinterested jurymen ; in one case a member of a Weymouth 
jury confessed himself a dealer with pirates, and there were no doubt many 
others from whom no avowal was forced."" Three notorious pirates, 
Robert Hicks,'** Court, and John Callis, haunted the Dorset coast, and the 
reason for their preference is to be found in the long list of receivers with 
whom they did business. Their 'chief boatmen,' i.e. carriers, were 21 in 
number divided between Weymouth, Melcombe, and the villages along the 
coast east of Weymouth. There were six carriers with carts going inland 
and 75 other persons were named as buying from them or supplying them.'** 
One of the obstacles the government had to surmount lay in the fact that 
the pirates were often helped by men of higher social rank than those who 
consorted with them merely for a profit. When Court's ship was driven 
ashore Sir Richard Rogers of West Lulworth got her afloat again for the 
man he should have arrested. Callis, this same year, proposed to Walsingham 
to clear the Channel of pirates ; he said that he knew enough about their 
habits to do more by himself than Elizabeth could if she spent ;r20,ooo, and 
he inclosed a list of receivers.'*" 

Notwithstanding the energetic proceedings of the commissioners con- 
ditions remained much the same. In 1580 a proclamation declared that the 
pirates ' at this day commit more spoils and robberies on all sides than have 
been heard of in former times.' '*^ There must have been still many receivers 
left in Dorset, for in the same year the plunderers of two vessels off Orford- 
ness brought their spoil round to Swanage and Studland for sale.'*^ In fact, 
after their first blow, the commissioners of 1577 seem quite to have failed, for 
in 1582 an official in the Isle of Purbeck complained that pirates swarmed 
there, ' the common infamy of this poor island and me . . . the place of their 
repair is here where in truth they are my masters . . . and when they choose 
to come on land, they are so strong and well-appointed as they cannot be on 
the sudden repulsed.' '*' At the same time the burgesses of Poole petitioned 

'*» S.P. Dom. Eliz. xcvii, No. 7. 

'" Add. MSS. 34150, fol. 61, 64. In 1559 the judge of the Admiralty Court held all goods 
must be restored to the owners (S.P. Dom. Eliz. vi. No. 1*9) ; therefore the new regulation must have referred 
to property belonging to the pirates or uncl.iimed. There had been some doubt whether accessories ashore 
could legally be prosecuted {^cts of P.C. 6 June, 1577), and the opinion of the law officers of the crown 
was obtained (Harl. MSS. 168, fol. 1 14). '" S.P. Dom. Eliz. cxiii. No. 9. 

'" For more about Hicks, see F.C.H. Cornwall, i, 489. '" S.P. Dom. Eliz. cxiii. No. 24. 

'" Ibid. Add. XXV, No. 60. '« Ibid, cxlvi, No. II. 

'«■ Acts oj P.C. 15 July, 1580. "» S.P. Dom. Eliz. clvi. No. I (Fr. Hawley to W.alsingham). 

2 201 26 


for protection against the same gangs who haunted Studland Bay ' to the 
utter undoing ' of their trade, and who threatened to pull down the prisons 
and burn the town.^*^ Another noted pirate, Thomas Purser, was simul- 
taneously threatening to burn Weymouth.'^" In 1582 the jurisdiction of the 
privileged towns in matters of piracy was suspended for three years, in order 
to avoid the conflict of authority with the piracy commissioners which 
occurred in such places ; and also, perhaps, because in some cases private 
interests interfered with the execution of justice. The latter cause was not 
likely to be an impediment at Poole. The outbreak of formal war with Spain 
in 1585 legalized much of the mischievous activity of the sea-rovers; and 
thenceforward, although there were many complaints from neutrals, there were 
fewer domestic outcries about piracy. Towards the end of the reign the 
* Dunkirkers,' which name included the privateers from all the ports of 
Flanders, took the place of the English pirates. 

The bounty system, inaugurated by Henry VII, by which an occasional 
tonnage allowance was made to the builders of new ships suitable for service in 
war, had under Elizabeth settled into a grant of 5J. a ton on all vessels of 100 
tons and upwards. The expansion of trade and the attractions of privateering 
stimulated shipbuilding in all places where there was any maritime commerce, 
while the bounty conduced to an increase of size in new vessels. Dorset was 
never one of the leading maritime counties, but towards the end of the six- 
teenth century there began a new era of prosperity for it based on its share in 
the great Newfoundland fishery, and that prosperity was reflected in the capital 
sunk in shipping, and the number of seamen the shipping employed. We 
have seen that from at least the reign of John it had been usual to call upon 
the officials of the ports for returns of the ships and men available for service ; 
most of the earlier ones are lost, but several, complete or fragmentary, remain 
for the Elizabethan period. Usually the details only deal with vessels of 
100 tons and upwards, as smaller ones were not considered useful for fighting 
purposes, but there is evidence that Dorset was fairly supplied with ships of 
under 100 tons of a size sufficient for the sea traffic particular to the county. 
War with France and Scotland existed in 1560, which was the cause of the 
first Elizabethan list of that year. It was a return of vessels of 100 tons and 
upwards, but there is none for Dorset ; of ' mariners and sailors ' there were 
255, but this is evidently only the number of men at home at the moment. '°^ 
The piracy commissioners of 1565 remarked, in their report on Dorset, that 
there was no harbour at Charmouth, but that, ' as at Bridport,' vessels were 
drawn up on the shore.^^'' Part of this paper is missing ; but belonging to 
Charmouth, Chideock, and the neighbourhood there were only ten vessels, 
used for fishing and coasting, of which the largest was of 18 tons. Poole 
possessed two vessels of 50 tons each and other smaller ones ; at Wey- 
mouth and Melcombe one of 80 tons was the largest, and at Lyme one of 
24 tons. By 1568 there was an improvement, for Poole then possessed two 
ships of 100 tons and Lyme one.'^°^ 

"' C(d/ MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 538. They found the existence of gallows at Studland in bad 
taste, and cut them down no doubt amid much good fellowship (Moule, Charters ofH'eymoutk, 154). 

'^° Moule, op. cit. 154. 

'" S.P. Dom. Eliz. xi, No. 27. The distinction between mariners and sailors is obscure and unnecessary 
to discuss here. 

'" Ibid, xxxviii, 9, 9 (i). Leland notices that the harbour at Bridport had ceased to exist when he visited 
the county {Itin. iii, 60). '"" Harl. MSS. 1 68, fol. 248. 



In July, 1570,3 general embargo was ordered, and the vice-admiral 
reported that he had stayed nine ships of 30 tons and upwards, and 435 ship- 
masters and men ; many others, he said, were abroad. Here, three vessels 
of Lyme Regis, of which one was of 50 tons, are scheduled, one of 100 tons 
belonging to Melcombe, and one of 90 tons owned at Poole ; interesting 
details of the number of seamen and fishermen living in the villages along the 
coast are also given/" In 1572 Thomas Colshill, surveyor of customs at 
London, compiled a register of coasting traders belonging to the ports.^^* The 
Dorset section may be thus arranged : — 




100 tons 



20 tons 


50 to 100 

20 to 50 




















20 to 50 


20 tons 





In 1576 a list was prepared of ships of 100 tons and upwards built since 
1 57 1, in which no Dorset port appears. A year later there was another 
survey of 100-ton ships, from which we find that Poole possessed two and 
Weymouth one, just reaching the limit ; they must, therefore, have been 
older than 1571.'^^ The agents here of Philip II reported, almost with 
alarm, the rapid increase of shipbuilding in England, and the next return of 
1582 supports the information they sent to Spain. ^'^ Poole possessed six 
vessels of 100 tons and upwards, of which one was of 140 tons and another of 
130 tons, and Weymouth and Melcombe three, of which one was of 150 
tons. Of between 80 and 100 tons there was one at Poole ; of between 20 
and 80 tons there were ten at Poole, 15 at Weymouth and Melcombe, and 
14 at Lyme. Those belonging to other places in the county were of 
under 20 tons. Of men there were 85 shipmasters and 560 seamen, com- 
paring with 150 and 1,913, respectively, in Devon. Allowing for the smaller 
craft omitted in this enumeration, the number for Lyme is in substantial 
correspondence with a return of 1586, which gives it 23 vessels of all kinds, 
while 18 masters and 108 men lived in the town, and 80 others dwelling 
within a radius of four miles were employed in Lyme ships. ^" The last 
Elizabethan list is for Poole in 1591 ; there were then 21 vessels, of which 
the largest was of 70 tons, but this is probably only of ships then at home.'^^ 

The recovery of Weymouth and Melcombe, and the continued progress 
of Poole, were mainly due to their share of the Newfoundland fishery, which 
for many of the western coast towns was replacing the mediaeval over-sea 
trade soon to be engrossed by London and other of the great ports. It would 
be impossible to overrate the national value of this new school for the pro- 
duction and training of seamen which, with the previously existent North 
Sea and Iceland fisheries, largely created the marine which overwhelmed Spain 
in the sixteenth and the Dutch in the seventeenth centuries, thus clearing the 
way for trans-oceanic expansion. The Newfoundland trade not only employed 

"' S.P. Dom. Eliz. Ixxi, Nos. 56, 56 (i). 

'" Ihid. AJd. xxii. He excluded fishing craft, and, inferentially, vessels engaged in over-sea trade. 
'" S.P. Dom. Ellz. xcvi, fol. 267. '=« Ibid, clvi, No. 45. 

'" Harl. MSS. 368, fol. 124. "» S.P. Dom. Eliz. cxxxviii,No. 142. 



sailors, but necessarily required a certain number of ' green ' hands, or lands- 
men, of whom a proportion became seamen by profession. There are no 
statistics for the early years of the fishery, but there are occasional indications 
of its increasing importance. During the first half of the sixteenth century it 
grew at the expense of the Iceland trade, and by 1542 was of sufficient size 
to be the subject of a section in an Act of Parliament ; in 1548 there was a 
' great ' Newfoundland fishing fleet causing anxiety for its safety, and the statute 
2 and 3 Edward VI, cap. 6, forbids exactions from owners in the Newfound- 
land as well as in other fisheries. In i 578 there is for the first time a state- 
ment of the number of vessels actually present in Newfoundland waters, and 
a note of their increase ; the municipal archives of Poole show that in 1583 
there were ten or twelve Newfoundland ships sailing thence. ^^' The Eliza- 
bethan war put an end to the Spanish and Portuguese fishery, and greatly 
diminished that from France ; the indirect result was to the advantage of 
English merchants from whom neutrals had to buy to supply the Catholic 
powers. The fishing fleet of 1585 was large enough to make it worth while 
to send out a warning that Philip had seized all the English ships in Spanish 
ports, and by 1592 Englishmen enjoyed so much reputation as experts that 
the Dutch were offisring high pay for their services. The business had grown 
big enough to have rules and regulations drawn up for its management ; in 
1583 a Poole owner was fined for sailing without the consent of the mayor 
and burgesses.'^" In 1588 the Primrose, 120 tons, of Poole, sailed notwith- 
standing the embargo of 3 i March ; the Council ordered the imprisonment 
of Peter Cox, a part owner, and promised to deal with the master and others 
when the vessel returned.'" In 1594 there were 100 sail due home in 
August ; to join this fleet six Poole and five Weymouth ships had been 
released from embargo earlier in the year."" 

In the reign of James I Lyme is included among the ports interested in 
the trade,"' but under that king England soon lost the unstable maritime 
superiority won under Elizabeth, and the western fishery was one branch of 
sea traffic which felt the effiscts. In 1622 the mayor of Weymouth wrote to 
the Council that in that year only 1 1 ships had been sent to the fishery instead 
of 39 as before.'" If 39 was the high-water mark of one year, and the 
average was much less, it still shows of what vast importance to the prosperity 
of the Dorset ports the trade had become. Again, in 1627, the Poole men 
wrote that two years previously they had had 22 Newfoundland ships work- 
ing, but that the number had fallen to four ; "^ a year later they stated that 
their average had been 20 ships each season."^ Dorset was by no means 
the leading county in the Newfoundland trade ; allowing a crew of only 
25 men to a ship we may get some idea of the supreme influence the fishery 
must have had in the evolution of a new sea-faring population in the 
crucial years when the future of England depended on its success at sea. No 
other towns in Dorset than the four here mentioned seem ever to have sent 
out fishing ships, but no doubt men came, as in Devon and Cornwall, not 
only from along the coast but from inland. A paper, assigned to 1634, gives 

'" Svdenham, Hist. ofPcok, 395-6. "■•" Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (3rd cd.), i, +0. 

'" ActsofP.C. 12 May, 15S8. '"-' S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccxlviii, No. i. 

'" Hist. MSS Com. Rep. ix, App. i, 271. '" S.P. Dom. Jas. I,, No. 22. 

'" S.P. Dom. I, li, No. 56. "' Ibid, ciii, No. 43. 



the recent yearly average from the western ports at 26,700 tons of shipping 
and 10,680 men, which was the highest point of prosperity the trade reached 
for the time. In 1640 Weymouth had 1,000 tons of shipping engaged in 
the fishery, but in 1670 the amount had fallen to 350 tons ; "' probably the 
deterioration of the harbour had much to do with this decline. 

In the spring of 1585 Philip II, breaking a promise of safe conduct, 
ordered the seizure of all English ships then in the Spanish ports. This 
act was answered here by the issue of letters of reprisal, which were only to 
be given to persons who could prove that they had suffered by the seizure ; 
this event, with Drake's expedition of the same year, marks the commence- 
ment of the Spanish War. Merchants of Lyme had suffered loss to the 
amount of _^2,ooo, and those of Melcombe to )ri,ooo ; Poole is in the list 
but the amount is destroyed.^^' One of the vessels thus set out was the 
Susan of Lyme of 100 tons. 

The strained relations that had long existed between England and Spain 
had led to the exercise of precautions, in the years preceding 1585, in the 
way of training the county levies and the repair of the coast fortifications. 
From the accession of Edward VI the latter had been neglected everywhere ; 
a report of 1574 described Sandsfoot Castle as going to ruin, the walls 
cracked by frost and in some places nearly falling into the sea.^'' There were 
five dismounted guns, but the wooden platforms were too rotten to bear them 
if mounted, and there was no ammunition. Portland Castle was found to be in 
as bad a condition, and Brownsea, it was said, had never been really completed. 
A silence of nine years follows; then there was another survey in 1583 
from which it appears that both castles were in a much worse state, and 
that the sea was undermining Portland.'™ In this paper the batteries at 
Handfast Point and Peverel Point are again referred to,'" but they of course 
were in a very dilapidated condition. In 1582 the corporation of Poole had 
lamented the weakness of Brownsea Castle, and the report of 1583 empha- 
sized this ; it seems never quite to have been decided whether the town or 
the government was responsible for its upkeep."^ What was certain was 
that in none of these fortifications had there been any repairs done, or any 
necessaries and ammunition provided, for many years except at the expense 
of their commandants. In October, 1583, the question was at last dealt 
with, >Ci93 lO-f- being issued for works at Portland, £1^'^ ^^- ^^- ^^^ Sands- 
foot, jC202 lis. Sd. for Brownsea, j^20 for Peverel Point, and ^^1° ^o^" 
Handfast Point."' In 1586 the deputy lieutenants of the county informed 
the Council that Portland Roads were quite unprotected by either of the 
castles, and that an enemy's fleet could ride there altogether out of range."* 
This, taken literally, is untrue, but they probably included Weymouth Roads 
in the anchorage. They recommended the erection at Weymouth, which 
was defenceless, of two forts; the town, they said, was too poor to build 
them, but would maintain them if the queen bore the first expense. The 
Weymouth people had made a previous attempt to obtain ' a small bulwark ' 
in 1583 when the pirate, Purser, had threatened to burn the town ; the 

'" S.P. Dom. Chas. II, ccxcv. No. 76. "^ Admlr. Ct. Exemp. xiii, Nos. 211-13. Imperfect. 

"' S.P. Dom. Eliz. xcvii, No. 8. "" Ibid, clxili, No. 41. '" ^«''', p- i99- 

'" S.ixton's map of Dorset of 1575 (Harl. MSS. 3324) shows .1 block-house at North Haven Point ; 
it is not mentioned in any document iinown to the writer. 

'" S.P. Dom. Eliz. clxx, No. 91. "* Ibid, cxciii, No. 43. 



Privy Council then agreed that it would be advisable, but that the inhabitants 
must contribute to the charge."' The proposal therefore fell through, as 
did that of 1586, for Elizabeth did nothing for her subjects that they could 
possibly be made to do for themselves. In a narrow sense the queen's policy 
was shrewd, for the probability of invasion was obvious in 1587 and the 
Weymouth and Melcombe people were so alarmed by their helpless position 
that they were considering whether they would leave the town or bear the 
cost of defence themselves.'^* They chose the latter course, and in a paper 
of 1588 refer to the fact that they had built ' a platform' at their own 
charge.'" From a contemporary plan it seems to have been placed on what 
is now the esplanade at Melcombe, but it remained without guns.'" The 
' block-house ' at Melcombe, often referred to in the municipal records, dates 
from 1567, and a gunner was appointed in 1568.'" 

There was preparation for war in 1574, when the zeal shown by the 
leading gentlemen of Dorset caused Elizabeth to send them letters of thanks 
assurino; them that their ' diligence and forwardness shall be holden in remem- 
brance to their comfort.''*" No Dorset ship is known to have sailed in 
Drake's fleets of 1585 and 1587, although men from the county are very 
likely to have been among the crews. In December, 1587, when the 
political horizon was very black, military officers were sent into most of the 
coast counties to advise upon measures of defence ; "' Nicholas Dawtrey went 
to Dorset, but if he made any report no action was taken upon it. By the 
following April even Elizabeth was beginning to doubt the success of her 
diplomacy, and it was thought time to take fresh precautions. Sir John 
Norreys, a soldier of reputation, was sent round Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, 
and Dorset to inspect them, and his report on Dorset is dated 24 April.'*' 
It is not a very illuminating document ; no sufficient distinction is drawn 
between the small possibilities of landing at such places as Bridport and 
Charmouth, and the shelter offered by Portland Roads. The Armada carried 
no invading force of its own ; its purpose was to ensure the crossing of 
Parma's army by destroying the English fleet, but if it had carried an 
adequate force Elizabeth and the Council might well have looked on Port- 
land with anxious eyes. There is no trace in the deliberations of the Council 
and the soldiers that they ever recognized until the last moment that the 
junction with Parma was the key to the Spanish plans, and that the strate- 
gical centre, if attack was awaited, was therefore the eastern Channel, yet 
Norreys was quite content with garrisons of a few scores of men at Portland 
and Sandsfoot and a concentration of, nominally, 1,500 men at Weymouth. 
It was argued that the Armada, riding in Portland Roads, would be exposed 
to south-east gales, and would therefore not dare to take up the anchorage ; 
but such gales are rare in summer, and something must inevitably be risked 
in war. Ralegh, the greatest English strategist of his generation, saw the 
importance of Portland, and in 1587 urged upon Burghley the necessity for 

'■' Moule, Charters of Weymouth, 154. '" Ibid. 157. 

'" S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccix, No. 94. 
'■« Ibid, ccxiv, No. II ; Cott. MSS. Aug. I, i, 32. 
'" Pat. 10 Eliz. pt. viii, m. 28. It is called Weymouth in the patent. 

'* Acts of P.C. 24 Oct. 1574. To Lord Howard of Bindon, Sir Henry Ashley, Sir John Yonge, and 
Nicholas Turbervile. 

'" Ibid. 26 Dec. 1587. '«> Hirl. MSS. 3324, fol. 42. 



more powerful defences there."' The admirals desired to go to meet the 
Armada on the Portuguese coast, a course of action which, if they had 
fought successfully, would have secured the safety of Portland and every 
other English roadstead. 

The experience of 1587 and of later years showed that the brunt of the 
fighting had always to be borne by men-of-war, and that the chief value of 
armed merchantmen was to inspire the confidence given by number. This 
was understood in 1588, however, only by a few seamen ; therefore in that 
year the whole of the English coast was called upon to help, not by a 
general impressment but by sending ships according to order to join the 
royal fleet. On 31 March a general embargo on shipping was proclaimed, the 
object being to retain not so much the vessels as the men. This was followed 
the next day by orders to the port towns to furnish ships at their own 
expense, all to be more than 60 tons."* Weymouth and Melcombe were 
set down for two ships and a pinnace, Poole for one ship and a pinnace, and 
Lyme was linked with Chard and Axminster for two ships and a pinnace, 
the two inland towns having of course only to contribute towards the 
expense. There was an auxiliary order that most of the cost was to be 
borne by those persons who had profited by privateering. Both now and on 
subsequent occasions many of the ports sought excuses either to obtain a 
reduction in the demands made upon them or to have the county and adjacent 
towns joined with them towards the charges. Within a fortnight all the 
Dorset ports protested to the Council that there were various reasons why 
they were too hardly treated. The mayor and aldermen of Poole were 
the first to enlarge, within forty-eight hours of the receipt of the order, 
on their disabilities. They said that there was, at the moment, only one 
ship of above 60 tons in port, and that she was about sailing for New- 
foundland,"' and that the Council were quite wrong in supposing that any of 
the Poole owners had made a profit by privateering, or, indeed, that any one 
of them had indulged in any speculation of the kind. The Council were 
besought ' to consider of the great decay and disability of this poor town ' 
due to several causes, including pirates at Studland Bay, ' whereby we are 
utterly unable to perform your Lordships' commandment.' "° The corpora- 
tion of Lyme followed on 9 April ; '" they had no ships at home of the 
required tonnage, but offered one of 40 tons, and complained that certain 
inhabitants of Axminster had already refused any payments in aid. They 
suggested that any future levies of the kind should be based on a wider 
assessment among more towns. The mayor and corporation of Weymouth 
did not answer until the i6th ; "* they did not deny that prize goods had 
been brought, to some extent, into the two towns, but said that the owners 
mostly dwelt elsewhere, and that Weymouth and Melcombe were ' of small 
ability and in part decayed.' They added that notwithstanding their dis- 
abilities they would provide the assistance required, but requested the Council 
to add some other towns as contributories. There was no immediate answer 
to this, but in June the Council ordered that Dorchester was to help Wey- 
mouth."' The question of revictualling these ships came up again in July, 

"' Lansd. MSS. 52, fol. 66. '8' Jets ofP.C. 31 March, I April, 1588. 

'" She sailed in defiance of the embargo {atite, p. 204). ""' S.P. Dom. Ellz. ccix, No. 70. 

"' Ibid. No. 81. '" Ibid. No. 94. '™ Jets ofP.C. 23 June, 1588. 



when Axminster and Chard were again refractory in bearing their share of 
the expense. ''" The Dorset ports were not singular in their reluctance ; the 
same unwillingness was being displayed nearly everywhere round the coast 
and was, in a great measure, due to the decadence of towns which had been 
relatively wealthy in mediaeval times. 

From Lyme came the 'Jacobs 90 tons, and the Revef?ge, 60 tons, Captain 
Richard Bedford ; from Weymouth the Galleon, 100 tons, Captain Richard 
Millard, and the Katherine, 66 tons ; Poole was unrepresented. When the 
Spaniards were off Portland four more Weymouth ships, with 300 men on 
board, put off to share the danger and the honour ; three of these were the 
Golden Rial, 120 tons, the Heath Hen, 60 tons, and the Bark Sutton, 70 
tons ; "' the fourth was probably the Bark Bond. They perhaps helped by 
their presence to comfort the men-of-war who were really fighting the action 
off Portland on 23 July. A Spanish flagship was brought into Torbay on 
26 July, and Carew Ralegh, elder brother of Sir Walter, at once asked that 
six of her guns might be sent to Portland Castle. *'" It was late in the day 
to think of coast defences, but the Weymouth people, taking advantage of 
the arrival of another captured Spanish flagship, the San Salvador, in Portland 
Roads, petitioned for some guns out of her for their platform which was 
built but not armed."* The Council acceded to this request and ordered 
eight brass and six iron guns to be given to them."* The San Salvador 
remained at Portland for some months ; she was lost in Studland Bay, on 
her way to Portsmouth, in November."^ Her crew stayed, as prisoners, in 
Weymouth, and in December were behaving in a very disorderly manner 
perhaps because, as in Devon, they were left to starve or to depend on the 
charity of the country-side ; the Council ordered them to prison and a diet 
of bread and water."* 

The armed merchantmen were of little or no use during the Armada 
campaign, and the government must have regretted the vast expense entailed. 
In many cases the ships had been equipped by means of advances obtained 
from private individuals, and sent to sea long before the money necessary was 
collected. After the crisis it became still more difficult to collect the assess- 
ments, many of the corporations squabbling about their shares or attempting 
to evade payment altogether. In September, 1588, Axminster and Chard 
were still arguing with Lyme about their responsibilities ; at Weymouth 
Captain Richard Millard had expended ^(^45 i about his ship, the Galleon, and 
was still unpaid.'" In the latter case the Council, believing that Weymouth 
was really poor, directed that Blandford, Cerne Abbas, Shaftesbury, and 
Wareham should be rated in aid. There must have been reasons, satisfac- 
tory to the Council, for the absence of any assistance from Poole, but there 
are indications that no great desire was felt in the town to render service to 
the state. In 1591 troops for France were under orders to embark there ; 
the mayor did his best to get ships but the owners unrigged them, where- 
upon the mayor committed the contumacious proprietors to prison, leading 

"" S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccxii, No. 43. 

'" Ibid, ccxiv. No. 11. They are called volunteers, but the bill sent in to the government for the 
Golden Rial exists (ibid, ccxv, No. 20 (i)). 

"■ Ibid, ccxiii. No. 43. "^ Ibid, ccxiv, No. 1 1. 

"' Ibid. No. 55. "^ Ibid, ccxviii. No. 24. 

"" Jat o/P.C. 31 Dec. 1588. '" Ibid, xvi, 301 ; S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccxvi. No. 27. 



them to use ' very bad language ' and to threaten revenge."^ The Council 
called their language ' lewd and undutiful ' and ordered the principal mis- 
demeanants to be sent up to London. 

The 1589 voyage to Portugal was a joint-stock affair under Norreys and 
Drake who hired their ships. Although nearly 80 were taken up Dorset 
does not appear to have supplied any. The ports were not again called upon 
by the queen for ships until the Cadiz voyage of 1596 was under considera- 
tion ; but in the interval those of Dorset were carrying on what must have 
been a successful privateering war on their own account. Between 1587 
and 1598 we find 23 ships of Weymouth, six of Lyme, and three of Poole 
engaged in prize-hunting, and that the business was followed so long points 
to good fortune.'^' One of these vessels, the Bark Bond (owners John Bond 
and Wm. and Ric. Pitt) made an especial haul in 1592, when she met 
the Grace of Dover which had on board the passengers and crew of the 
great carrack, the Madre de Dios, just taken by an English squadron and 
the richest capture of the reign. They were supposed to have been plundered 
before being put on board the Grace, but Captain Aire of the Bark Bond 
brought her to and managed to extract 50,000 ducats and many precious 
stones from them. A warrant to arrest Captain Aire issued later.""" 

The failure of the 1589 expedition had made Elizabeth avoid enter- 
prises on a large scale ; it was not, therefore, until the close of 1595 that an 
undertaking, of which the destination was then uncertain, was decided upon 
for the following year. On 2 i December a circular letter was addressed to 
the ports, generally, requiring ships to be ready by the next spring, armed, 
manned, and victualled at local charge for five months ; Dorset was 
called upon for two.^"^ All the port ships were used as transports or for 
other subsidiary purposes in the Cadiz voyage ; the Expedition and Catherine, 
which carried soldiers, and both of Weymouth, were the Dorset ones, 
and 130 seamen as well came from Weymouth and Melcombe.""^ The 
attempts at evasion of payment were even more marked now than in 1588 ; 
towns and individuals everywhere shirked their assessments. Weymouth and 
Melcombe were charged with >C4°°» towards which the other Dorset 
ports were required to contribute _;^ 160, but there was great difficulty in 
obtaining it as well as the ratings in Weymouth itself. The only remedy 
the Council could apply was to order that refractory individuals should be 
sent to London to appear before them, a punishment which might obviously 
be made a very heavy one in view of the direct and indirect expense involved. 
By December, 1596, the mayor of Weymouth had written six times to the 
Council complaining that the corporation could not obtain payment of the 
jri6o ; in the following February it was still owing, and their lordships 
wrote to the deputy-lieutenants of Dorset that 'a great contempt' was 
being committed, and that if the money was not at once collected one of 
them was to appear in London.^"'' This threat proved unsuccessful, so that 
in May it was resolved that personal application should be made by a Council 

"* S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccxiiii, No. 43 ; ^cts ofP.C. 20 Oct. 1592. 

''' Harl. MSS. 598. The year gi\en in the text does not mean that the business ceased in 1598, but 
only that there are no accounts for any later date. 

'°° Cecil MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), iv, 237 ; Lansd. MSS. 67, fol. 116. "" Acls of P.C. 21 Dec. 1595. 
*" Moule, Charters of Weymouth, 134 ; Cecil MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), vi, 293. 
Acts oj P.C. 7 Sept. 7 Dec. 1596, 27 Feb. 1597. 
2 209 27 



messenger to every one in Dorset who was still recalcitrant, and that on 
further refusal such should be brought before the Council.^"* However, the 
debts incurred in relation to the Catherine were still unsettled in 1602.""' 
The revolt against these Cadiz assessments was so widespread, and so many 
awkward constitutional questions were being raised in some of the counties, 
that there was no further attempt to levy ships in the same way during the 
remainder of the reign. 

Throughout these years of war Elizabeth, partly as the result of her 
own ignorance and nervousness and partly perhaps as a matter of policy, kept 
her subjects on tenterhooks of expectation of invasion. Recurrent panics 
followed year after year, and she did nothing to quiet them even when 
information in the hands of the government must have shown their baseless- 
ness. In 1598, when Philip was dying and Spain exhausted, ruined, and 
helpless, the usual fear recurred, and a new survey of the Dorset coast was 
ordered.^''^ Who undertook it is not known, but their conclusions, that 
500 sail of 1,000 tons each might ride in Worbarrow Bay and Shipman's 
Pool, and that 600 or 700 sail of 1,000 tons could ride in Swanage and 
Studland Bays, do not inspire faith in their knowledge or capacity."" They 
thought that in Poole Harbour 500 sail of 120 tons could find shelter ; as 
there had been only 12 ft. on Poole Bar in 1539,^°^ and as the depth was no 
doubt the same in 1598, it was practically prohibited to an enemy's fleet. 
They said, what everyone knew, that Portland Roads was a tempting objec- 
tive for an invader, and a Spanish spy in 1599 made the same report with 
the addition that it was nearly defenceless ; this man also remarked that 
Poole was unfortified because only 50 or 60-ton vessels could enter the 
harbour.""^ One of the worst, because one of the most groundless, panics of 
the reign occurred in 1599 when preparations more befitting such a year 
as 1588 were made. No Spanish squadron was ever nearer England than 
Coruna, but a powerful fleet was mobilized in the Downs and thousands of 
the county levies called under arms. Naturally the towns took alarm ; in 
August a petition came from Weymouth representing its weak state, and the 
inhabitants, in terror, were sending away the women and children and 
removing their property; a garrison of 1,000 men was requested.^'" On 
1 1 August they wrote, ' we have armed all sorts of our people that are able 
to make a stand at a street corner,' but all this desperate preparation to die 
in the last ditch was quite needless. However, they can scarcely be blamed 
for keeping step with the Council, who, on i 8 August, wrote to the deputy- 
lieutenants of Dorset that they were sorry to hear of the little regard 
which was being paid to the safety of Weymouth 'in this time of great 
danger.'"'^ As on 14 August they had themselves suspended further military 
levies, it was scarcely reasonable to write on the i8th blaming their sub- 
ordinates for neglecting to collect men. The other Dorset towns were 
less nervous, and only stood ready without troubling the government ; on 
7 August the Council ordered the mayor of Lyme to hire a pinnace to scout 
on the Portuguese coast.''^ 

•»• Acts ofP.C. 30 May, 1597. "^ Moule, op. cit. 138. *» Harl. MSS. 3324, fol. 6z. 

'"' Worb.irrow Bay is rather more than a mile long and half a mile wide, but with no anchorage within 
400 yards of the shore ; Shipman's (or Chapman's) Pool is less than half the size of Worbarrow Kay. 

"^ Cott. MSS. Aug. I. i. 31. =>»' S.P. Dom. Eliz. ccl.xx, No. 77. -"' Ibid, cclxxii, Nos. 19, 25. 
»" Coke MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), i, 22. '" S.P. Dom. Eliz. cclxxii, No. 21. 



As piracy died down, the scourge of Dunkirk privateering, which was 
little different, became more and more virulent. Philip II had always hesi- 
tated to issue letters of marque, not for humanitarian reasons but because 
there were so few seamen in Spain, and permission several times given to his 
subjects had been in each instance speedily withdrawn. Philip III reversed 
this policy for Spain, and the governors of the Low Countries had never 
known any reasons for hesitation ; therefore, as Dunkirk, Sluys, Nieuport, 
and Ostend fell into their hands, they became privateer bases which inflicted 
terrible injury on English commerce. As early as 1590 the Weymouth 
burgesses were asked to set out two vessels at their own expense, to help to 
clear the Channel, with a promise that they might keep all they captured. -^■' In 
1600 the masters of storeships, taken up for Ireland at Poole and Weymouth, 
were refusing to sail because they regarded their capture by Dunkirkers as 
certain.-'* The accession of James I brought peace with Spain, but the 
Dutch and Flemish privateers now inflicted on the English the same miseries 
the latter had imposed on neutrals a generation earlier. What was far worse, 
because it added the horrors of slavery to material loss, was the appearance 
in the Channel of Mohammedan pirates, usually Algerines or Saleemen, 
from the Mediterranean. They came under the guidance of English and 
Dutch renegades, the former being mostly seamen thrown out of employment 
by the peace; and before long, aided by the rapid degeneration of the English 
navy, they established a reign of terror on the south coast. Like the pirates 
of the preceding reign, they found Swanage and Studland Bays convenient 
haunts, which caused a petition to be sent to the Privy Council that the 
block-house at Peverel Point might be repaired and armed as a protection 
against them.-'° 

The first naval armament for foreign service of the reign of James was 
due, nominally, to the necessity for chastising these Moorish pirates by 
attacking them in their lair at Algiers. The fleet, under Sir Robert Mansel, 
was really sent to the Mediterranean to give weight to the king's foreign 
policy at the moment, but it was a good excuse to make the ports, as chiefly 
interested in the ostensible object, bear most of the expense. A circular 
letter from the Privy Council in February, 161 8-19, recited that 300 ships 
and many hundreds of men had been taken by the Algerines within a few 
years, and that the king was resolved to extirpate them. To help towards 
this laudable purpose Weymouth and Lyme were each assessed at £4.^0, 
and Poole at ^^loo.-'* The towns writhed as usual. The mayor of Poole 
lost no time in replying that their only trade, with one exception, was the 
Newfoundland fishery, and that they could not raise jTioo but would try to 
send £s°-~^^ C)n 10 March the mayor of Weymouth and Melcombe wrote 
to the judge of the Admiralty Court to ask his intercession ; he said that on 
account of their heavy losses by the Algerines only £100 had been raised ; 
that the Council had judged of the wealth of the town by the customs 
returns, but that three-fourths of the customs were paid by inland merchants 
and that the townspeople were not interested in it."'' The Weymouth cor- 
poration volunteered a contribution of ^loo in settlement, or offered to 

*" Jets o/P.C. 4 March, 1589-90. =" Ibid. 10 Oct. 1600. 

"' S.P. Dom. Jas. I, civ, No. 63. "' Ibid, cv, No. 89. 

'" Ibid, cvii, No. 39. ^'» Add. MSS. 36J67, fol. 377. 



advance ^400 if allowed to repay themselves by levying i per cent, on all 
goods inw^ards and outwards. This last course was adopted, but the result 
was that the inland shippers transferred their trade to Poole.°" The mayor 
of Lyme answered so quickly that little time could have been devoted 
to inquiry ; "" the town, he wrote, could not provide j^450, which should 
be raised from the merchants of Bristol and Exeter who were the principal 
shippers through Lyme. In May, 1620, in response to further pressure 
from the Council, the mayor of Weymouth replied that shipowners in the 
town had lost ^3,000 at sea since April, 1619.^^^ 

Mansel sailed in October, 1620, and returned in August, 1621, having 
done nothing. A commentary on his utility was supplied by the mayor of 
Weymouth, who wrote in 1622 that nearly every vessel sent to the Mediter- 
ranean from the town in 1621 had been taken by the Algerines or other 
Moorish pirates.""' Purely English piracy, although diminished, was by no 
means extinct. A general piracy commission had issued for all the counties 
in 1608; several pirates are mentioned as frequenting Dorset waters, and 
in 1623 an official expressed his opinion that the reason they flocked to 
Weymouth was that the people there traded with them and that the Admiralty 
Court officers connived at their presence."^ 

The plea of poverty constantly put forward by the ports, although 
relatively true, must not be taken too literally. For the reign of James we 
are able to measure, roughly, the amount of shipping belonging to most of 
them, and shipping is necessarily the gauge of their prosperity. Mr. R. G. 
Marsden has compiled a list of ships' names occurring in legal and historical 
documents of this period, and also in various printed sources;^''* he has found 
17 Lyme vessels mentioned, 19 of Poole, 20 of Weymouth, and one of 
Purbeck.''" There must have been many others that sailed through an 
uneventful career without attracting the attention of the law, the Admiralty 
officials, or the customs. There was also a certain amount of shipbuilding. 
A list exists of some 380 ships built between 1625 and 1638, the certificate 
of building being necessary to obtain a licence to buy ordnance."' Four were 
constructed at Weymouth, one, launched by Nicholas Awdney, being of 
240 tons ; the others were of under 100 tons. Only one, of 80 tons, came 
from Lyme. Weymouth must have had something more than a local repu- 
tation in shipbuilding for in 1636 two officials came there to press ship- 
wrights for the Sovereign of the Seas, then under construction at Woolwich. 
It was necessary to conceal their purpose so they brought the shipwrights 
together for a drinking bout, pretending to have a ship of their own in 
hand. But the officials got drunk themselves and revealed the secret, where- 
upon the shipwrights fled from the town, and one of the press-masters 
knocked up the mayor at 4 a.m. for assistance while the other one roused 
the constables an hour earlier to feed his horse. "^ 

Mansel's abortive expedition of 1 620-1 served only to encourage the 
Algerines. Often the south-western coast was practically blockaded by them 

»"S.P. Dom. Jas. I, cix, No. 81. =™ Ibid, cv. No. 141 ; 27 Feb. 1618-19. 

"' Ibid, cxv, No. 57. "*' Ibid, cxxx, No. 22. 

"' S.P. Dom. Jas. I, cli, No. 21. '•'* Tram. Roy. Hist. Soc. xix, 311. 

-" Qy. Swanage. ™ S.P. Dom. Chas. I, xvi, xvil. 

''^^ Ibid, cccxxxvii, No. 18 ; cccxliii, No. 4 ; ctcxlviii, No. 90. The story, as told in the State Papers, 
is amusing but rather involved. 



so that the coasting and cross-Channel trade was stopped, and fishermen dared 
not go out. In 1636 the western ports, including Poole, Weymouth, and 
Lyme, petitioned that the coast was ' infested ' with Turks, and that they had 
lost, within the last few years, 87 ships worth nearly jT 100,000 and 1,160 
men."' Wrought up to more active measures than writing petitions, the three 
Dorset joined with five Devon ports to send John Crewkerne, who had been 
town clerk of Lyme but was then living at Exeter, to London to see the 
principal members of the Privy Council individually ; of the expenses inci- 
dental to the mission the three Dorset towns bore three-twenty-fourths. "' 
Crewkerne saw several members of the Council and found them all sympathetic, 
but Archbishop Laud was especially earnest ; he ' gave this answer, striking 
his hands upon his breast, that while he had breath in his body he would 
to the uttermost of his power advance a business so necessary.' ^"' The king 
promised, vaguely, such measures as would sweep the Algerines and Saleemen 
off the seas, but we find that in 1638 Poole and Weymouth were still suffer- 
ing, and that 27 Algiersmen were then known to be in the Channel or bound 
for it.^" The inability to deal with these human vermin was only one indica- 
tion of the general rottenness of administration which, during the reign of 
Charles I, consumed the resources of the country without result. 

Under the stimulus of expected invasion some attention had been given 
to the coast defences, but after 1588 they were again neglected. In 1593 
Portland was disarmed and left ' wholly unprovided,' all the brass guns having 
been taken away for use in the Navy."'' The ruinous condition of Brownsea, 
where there was not a gun mounted, was reported to Burghley in 1596, but 
it was in much the same state when the panic of 1599 brought it again under 
notice ; there was then only a caretaker in it."'' At the same time Portland 
and Sandsfoot Castles were said to be ' unfurnished,' which may mean much 
or little."* As regards Sandsfoot it certainly meant much, for from another 
paper of the same date it is clear that part of the ramparts had fallen down 
and that the place was going to destruction from neglect."^ In 1610 there 
was a grant of £2^0 for the repair of Sandsfoot,"* and then the fortifications 
everywhere were forgotten until 1623, when relations with Spain were 
becoming strained. In July the Ordnance Office officials were ordered to 
survey the fortifications from the Thames to Cornwall ; at Portland there were 
13 guns and at Sandsfoot 10, but the sea there was undermining the front. "^ 
To put both castles in good condition it was estimated that ^1,000 would 
be required. At Weymouth, in 1622, there were guns at the Nothe and in 
the Bulwark ; in 1625 the corporation resolved that the block-house at Mel- 
combe should be built up with stone."^ When it appeared probable that war 
with France was approaching the ports grew fearful of cross-Channel raids, 
and in 1626 estimates were prepared for two more batteries, one at Weymouth 
and one at Melcombe ; towards this the corporation offisred jr20 of the cost."' 
In 1628 there was no fort at the Nothe ; in petitioning for one the corporation 

•■* S.P. Dom. Chas. I, dxxxvi, No. 97. -' Moule, op. cit. 179. 

-■■" Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iii, App. 346. ™ Coke MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), ii, 191, 192. 

*" Jas o/P.C. 7 Aug. 1593. 

''^ S.P. Dom. Eliz. cclvii, No. 77 ; Cecil MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), viii, 152 ; Harl. MSS. 3324, fol. 62. 

"* S.P. Dom. Eliz. cclxxii, No. 25. '" Cecil MSS. (Hist. MSS. Com.), viii, 148. 

"'■ S.P. Dom. Jas. I, Ivii, 1 1 Aug. 1610. "^^ Ibid, cxlix, No. 104 ; Harl. MSS. 1326, fol. 70, 72. 

"' Moule, op. cit. 171. ^' Ibid. 174. 



said that 200 sail of any burthen could ride in the harbour.'-^" When the 
war had commenced 16 guns were sent to Weymouth and five to Lyme; "" to 
receive these the burgesses of Lyme built a sconce at a cost of ;r2oo, but the 
mayor complained that many of the inhabitants refused to contribute.^*- The 
last notice of the county fortifications before the Civil War is of about 1636, 
when the annual cost of Portland Castle was ^T 1,481 14J. zd. \^^ Sandsfoot 
is not in the list. 

The war with Spain gave occasion for the Cadiz expedition of 1625. 
The fleet was made up of men-of-war and hired transports, the counties not 
being required to find any armed ships. No Dorset vessel appears in the 
fleet list but the port of origin is not always given. In 1626 Charles, on the 
brink, of war with France, resolved to follow the precedent of Elizabeth's 
reign and called upon the maritime shires for 56 ships to join the royal fleet. 
On 21 June there was an order to press 250 seamen in the county ; "" this 
was followed on the 30th by a demand for two ships from Weymouth and 
Poole, ' with the other sea ports and towns of that part,' and for one from 
Lyme.'** Each vessel was to be of 200 tons and 12 guns, and to be victualled 
and stored for three months. The government, anticipating that there would 
be no ship of sufficient size belonging to Weymouth, offered to send one from 
London for the corporation to hire, promised that the service should be con- 
fined to the Enghsh coast, and directed that the proportion of crew to tonnage 
was to be two men for every three tons. The Dorset justices, who made 
themselves the spokesmen of the general discontent, were sharply reprimanded 
by the Council, but the contingent was reduced to two ships. 

Originally the levies had been intended to meet at Portsmouth by 3 i July, 
1626, but that had been found to be quite impracticable and the preparations 
lingered until the following year. In the meanwhile the ports bombarded 
the Council with protests. The Poole men asseverated their inability ; 
they said that they had lost (^^-.'^oo by the embargoes in France and Spain, 
and that the town had 400 widows and children to support. -^'^ Lyme pro- 
fessed itself too poor and also dwelt upon the embargoes, while the inhabitants 
of Weymouth declared themselves to be quite unable to meet the requirements 
of the Council."^ In April, 1627, the Weymouth corporation stated the town 
losses at jr2,6oo, besides the drain on their resources in the support of the 
wives and children of seamen taken by the Algerines ; they had seven ships 
embargoed at Rouen and five at Bordeaux.-''' No doubt those ports whose 
principal business relations were with France felt the effects of war acutely ; 
in September the mayor of Lyme wrote that there would be no trade again 
until there was peace with France, and that the customs receipts for the whole 
quarter were under ^120.'-*' Many of the Poole and Weymouth vessels 
embargoed abroad were probably Newfoundland ships bringing their catches 
straight from the Banks ; it was no wonder that these southern ports reeled 
under the effects of such losses and a direct and heavy taxation, to which they 
in particular were subjected, when the same circumstances that caused it 
rendered them especially unable to meet it. Matters did not improve for 

'*» S.P. Dom. Chas. I, ci, No. 15. "' Ibid, ccxiv, No. 49. 

"- Ibid, xxxi. No. 107 ; xxxii. No. 106. "" Ibid, cccxl, No. 39. 

'" H\st. MSS. Com. Rep. v, App. 581. "" Ibid. 584 ; S.P. Dom. Chas. I, xxx. No. 81. 

"^ S.P. Dom. Chas. I, 1, No. 57. One of the ships thus lost or detained was of 190 tons. 

-" Ibid. 1, No. 58 ; liii. No. 27 (i). =■" Ibid. Ixi, No. 7. "' Ibid. Ixxviii, No. 74. 



them ; in 1628 the Poole townsmen returned their losses within four years 
as 20 ships of 1,465 tons, there being only 16, of 838 tons, left to work 

A condition of war led to returns of ships and men being again required. 
That of 1629^°^ assigned 20 vessels to Poole, including 2 of 150 tons, with 
82 shipmasters and men. At Lyme there were 18 ships, 2 being of 
80 tons, and 1 1 1 men ; at Weymouth and Melcombe 26 ships, the largest 
being of 100 tons, and 301 men. The totals for the county were 68 ships, 
135 masters and masters' mates, and 950 seamen and fishermen; of the 
smaller places there were 37 men living at Wareham, 36 at Swanage, 25 at 
Studland, 86 at Chideock, 35 at Charmouth, 49 at Bridport, 64 at Burton 
Bradstock, 64 at Abbotsbury, 35 at Wyke Regis, and 36 in the isle of Port- 
land. At Ower, which Edward I had intended to make a flourishing port,-" 
there were only two. So far as the ships are concerned the foregoing can 
only refer to those at home at the date of examination, when the largest must 
have been at sea, for another return of 1634"'' gives Dorset six of from 100 
to 250 tons. Notwithstanding their war losses the ports had sufficient capital 
and enterprise to follow privateering speculation vigorously. Between 1625 
and 1628 the Leopard, 240 tons, Abigail, 120 tons. Pilgrim, 200 tons, Elizabeth, 
100 tons, Sarah Bonaventure, 100 tons, and Stephen, 100 tons, of Weymouth, 
the Garland, 160 tons, of Poole, and the Bonaventure, 100 tons, of Lyme, 
were among the large ships for which the owners obtained letters of marque.^" 
But not improbably some of these were hired and really belonged to other 
ports ; the Leopard, however, was a Weymouth owned ship. In the year 
ending with February, 1629, letters of marque were taken out for eleven Wey- 
mouth ships, three of Lyme, and one of Poole. ^" Here the largest Weymouth 
vessel was of 140 tons. 

Charles had issued ship-money writs in 1628, but, alarmed at the feeling 
aroused, he withdrew them at once. Forced at last to choose between facing 
a Parliament and raising money by this method the writs of 20 October, 1634, 
were sent out directed to Poole, Weymouth and Melcombe, Wareham, Lyme, 
and Bridport for a 400-ton ship armed, manned, stored, and victualled for 
twenty-six weeks' service. "^^ As the ships required were larger than those 
possessed by any port except London an equivalent in money might be paid 
to the Treasury, to be applied to the preparation of a king's ship, and the 
Dorset ports were therefore given the option of paying f^2,zo\. H.M.S. 
Adventure was allotted to Dorset, but it was found subsequently that a mistake 
had been made and the county rated too low in money.*" The second ship- 
money writ was of 4 August, 1635, ^""^ ^^^ general to the inland shires as well 
as to those of the coast ; Dorset was required to find a 500-ton ship or 
^^5,000.-^' The first assessments were £bo on Poole, >C^°° o" Dorchester, 
i^-jo on Lyme, ^^30 on Bridport, ^20 on Wareham, and f^\o on Corfe, but 
these assessments were afterwards altered, f^\o being then placed on Wey- 
mouth."' In April, 1636, money was coming in freely, the county being 

^'° S.P. Dom. Chas. I, ciii. No. 43. =^> Ibid, cxxxviii, No. 11. ''' Ante, p. 181. 

""' S.P. Dom. Chas. I, cclxx, No. 64. Or perhaps the return ofpeace had encouraged ship-building on .1 
comparatively large scale. 

''■' Ibid. cxv. «* Ibid, cxxxvi. No. 79. 

'■' Ibid, cclxxvi. No. 64. '°' S.P. Dom. Chas. I, cclxxxiv. No. 15 ; cclxxxvi, No. 7. 

'^' Ibid, ccxcvi, No. 69. »^^ Ibid, cccii, No. 78 ; Harl. MSS. 6843, fol. 93. 



only ^^99 1 in arrear,"" but in October there was a new ship-money writ, a 
new sheriff,^" and a different story. Freke may have been less persuasive 
than Trenchard or, more probably, the tide of resistance was rising ; at any 
rate he found much more trouble, and began by distraining on his son to set 
a good example. He reported that the poorer people paid their money ' like 
drops of blood,' for to do it some were compelled to sell their only cow and 
come on the parish. ^^^ In the latest assessments Weymouth and Melcombe 
were rated for £S^, Dorchester >C45, Lyme and Corfe ^^40 each, Poole £2/\., 
and Bridport ;C2o.-'* 

The difficultv of collection grew greater with every month ; in Septem- 
ber, 1637, the sheriff, Richard Rogers, distrained on Sir Walter Erie and 
others of the county gentry in order to frighten those lower in the social scale, 
but Dorset was still j^i,200 in arrear on the last writ."" The fourth writ was 
not issued until January, 1639, and then the assessments were much reduced, 
Weymouth and Melcombe being put down for ^(^15, Poole >r 12, Wareham 
jTio, Lyme £17, and Bridport £S.^^^ By this time it was too late for any 
modifications to soften the universal spirit of opposition ; the sheriff of 1640, 
William Churchill, wrote to the Council in April that he had distrained on 
Lady Ann Ashley, but that her servants had rescued the horses, and that when 
an attempt was again made in Dorchester to seize them the same result 
followed ; this, he thought, would be a bad example."' A month later he 
wrote that he was still levying under distress warrants but that there were no 
buyers for anything taken ; "'^ by August he reported that he had levied ;^200 
at a cost of_^50 to himself, that the country people rescued by force the 
cattle seized, and that the constables were refusing to make returns or to assist 
the bailiffs. ^^^ Only half the assessments had been collected, and he sent up 
the names both of those who refused payment and of those who were active 
in the rescues. But now the Long Parliament was sitting and sheriffs were 
to count for little in the immediate future. 

Along the south coast the resistance to ship-money must have been 
intensified by the fact that while it was being paid, and while the pretentious 
lieets equipped with it were cruising uselessly, the Algerines and Saleemen 
were, as has been noticed, almost stopping Channel trade. Thus all the more 
considerable English ports, the worst sufferers from Charles's inefScient naval 
administration, stood by the Parliament even in Royalist counties. Poole and 
Lyme were ardently Parliamentarian, as were also Dorchester, Portland, and 
Wareham ; Weymouth and Melcombe were of a more divided allegiance, 
but with a majority adverse to the king. Early in the Civil War the county 
came under the control of the Royalists, only Poole and Lyme remaining 
throughout in the hands of Parliamentary garrisons. The siege of Lyme is 
famous in local and national annals. As in the case of Plymouth, the Parlia- 
ment was only able to keep its hold on the town in virtue of having the com- 
mand of the sea, a supreme advantage to which, in its momentous influence in 
bringing about the final issue of the Civil War, no historian has yet done full 
justice. The siege commenced on 20 April, 1644; on 27 April the Ad- 

'" S.P. Dom. Chas. I, cccxviii, No. 29. **' John Freke, vke Sir Thomas Trenchard. 

"" S.P. Dom. Chas. I, cccxxxiii, No. 4. '" Ibid, cccli, No. 81. 

'*' Ibid, ccclxvii, No. 2 ; ccclxx, No. 74. '" Ibid, cccci, No. 38. 

''' Ibid, ccccli. No. 13. **' Ibid, cccclv. No. 7. 
'^ Ibid, cclxiii, No. 26. 



miralty Committee of Parliament ordered their admiral, the earl of Warwick, 
to Lyme with his squadron, ' You well know what consequence the town is to 
shipping in the west. '^^' Supplies by sea began to come in by 26 April, which 
was ' a great encouragement ' ; and on 29 April and i i May reinforcements 
of seamen were put ashore. The admiral was off Lyme on 23 May, and 
found four vessels already in the anchorage from which powder and provisions 
had been landed. When Warwick arrived the garrison was in sore need, but 
corn and powder were sent ashore and the sailors of the squadron added fish 
and bread saved out of their rations, with shoes and clothes from their kits for 
the ragged and bare-footed men at the front."" The squadron took part in 
the operations by sending the ships' boats along the coast towards Bridport, 
landing in the enemy's rear and thus diverting his attention. "^^ In the town 
men and women — the latter filled the soldiers' bandoliers while they fought — • 
were equally undaunted ; but when Prince Maurice drew off on i 5 June it 
was because the fleet had enabled them to hold out for the coming of the 
army of relief under the earl of Essex. 

Nothing exciting happened at Poole. Parliamentary ships appeared 
there off and on, and an occasional Parliamentary privateer set sail from the 
harbour. In 1644 the House ordered four guns to be sent to the town and 
four to Brownsea."" Weymouth changed hands more than once, although 
Melcombe remained in the possession of the Parliament. But here again the 
retention of Melcombe and the recapture of Weymouth were largely due 
to aid brought by sea. When Warwick was there, in 1644, he dwelt on its 
importance, 'and the relation that its safety has to H.M. navy,' whereupon 
the Parliamentary committee authorized the governor to put in hand the 
defences recommended by the earl, and this probably accounts for the appear- 
ance of a fort at the Nothe, where hitherto only guns behind a breastwork 
had been in position ; "^ another, the New or Jetty Fort, ordered to be pulled 
down in 1663, may date from this period."* Several other forts were erected 
in the two towns during the war, but on the landward side. An order of 
29 August, 1653,"^ ^'^^ ^^^ disarmament of Weymouth and Melcombe must 
have caused the abolition of these. The Council of State directed an engineer 
to go to Weymouth in 1649 '° build a 'citadel' there, but no record of his 
proceedings, if any followed, has come down to us."° Sandsfoot Castle, of 
little importance, mainly followed the fortunes of Weymouth, and Portland 
surrendered to the Parliament 6 April, 1646. When it yielded there were 
twenty-one guns in it and plenty of ammunition ; the terms of surrender 
were designed to ' save the face' of the garrison who were to march out with 
drums beating and colours flying but who possessed neither drums nor 
colours."'" Many of them enlisted with the besieging force. Under the 
Commonwealth one company of foot was divided between Portland and 
Sandsfoot as garrison. 

The first Dutch war of 1652-4 was very pleasing to the seamen, and at 
first volunteers flocked in to man the State's ships. But after the volunteers 

"*' S.P. Dom. Chas. I, di, 27 April, 1644. Warwick was also to have regard to the safety of Poole. 

"' Jn Exacl and True Relation in Relieving Lyme, 1644; A Letter from the Rt. Hon. Robert, Earl of 
Warwirk, . . . 1644. "' Hist. MSS. Com. Ref>. x, App. vi, 152. "' Commons' Journ 28 Sept. 1644. 

'"S.P. Dom. Chas. I, div, No. 58, July, 1644; Brief Relation of the Surprise of the Forts at ll'ey- 
mouth, . . . 1644. "• S.P. Dom. Chas. II, xc, No. 6. '" Ibid. Interreg. xxxix. 

"« Ibid, iii, 20 Oct. 1649. "''^ Add. MSS. 9299, fol. 220. 

2 217 28 


there was always a residuum who could only be reached by the press system, 
therefore in Mav, 1652, a circular letter to all the counties directed the im- 
pressment of all seamen between fifteen and fifty years of age. Armed mer- 
chantmen were still used with the fleets but such ships were now never under 
200 tons ; it is doubtful whether there were any ot sufficient size in Dorset 
therefore the county took little part in the war beyond finding men. 
The officials of both Poole and Weymouth were ordered, however, in March, 
1652, to report if there were any suitable vessels within their jurisdiction. 
Besides the fact that the number of seamen in England was insufficient to 
man the merchant navy as well as the much larger fighting fleets now com- 
missioned, the difficulty in obtaining men was intensified by the counter- 
attractions offered by privateers with their slacker discipline and greater 
chances of prize-money. In December, 1652, wages were raised in the State's 
ships, and other advantages promised. The men came in more willingly, 
but there was always a large deficiency. In the same month the mayor 
of Poole, having been ordered to press 66 men, wrote that he had been 
able to obtain only 30, and found ' much difficulty ' in the business."' This 
happened before the publication of the advance in wages, &c. ; a week later 
the mayor wrote that the notice had been received and proclaimed by beat of 
drum through the town with the result that men were going ' with more 
readiness.' "* The improvement was only temporary ; six months later the 
press-master for the county was directed not to take more than one or two 
men out of each fishing boat, a severe enough measure in its modified form."' 
The losses of Weymouth during the Civil War were estimated at 
j^20,ooo,*"' which must indicate injury to the Newfoundland trade, but in 
1657 both Poole and Weymouth were busily at work again. ^'' In this year 
we find, for the first time, notices of the deterioration of Weymouth Harbour 
from shoaling, so that ships were obliged to unlade in the Roads for want of 
quays at the entrance.""' As there had been no marked increase during the 
seventeenth century in the size of ships trading to and from the third-rate 
and fourth-rate ports, this seems to point to some comparatively sudden im- 
pairment. Another hindrance to trade was the presence of the Ostend and 
Dunkirk privateers, to whom there are numerous references at this period, off 
the ports. ' Weymouth is infested with these rogues more than any other 
place,' wrote an official,^*' but that they should come there was at least evidence 
of its maritime trade. After the Dutch war sailors were wanted for service 
in the West Indies, an employment regarded with terror by them on account 
of the death-rate from disease. Although a much smaller number of men 
than in the Dutch war was required for the war with Spain it was relatively 
more difficult to obtain them. In 1656 the Navy Commissioners were in- 
formed that there were plenty of seamen in Lyme, Weymouth, and Poole, 
but that as soon as a man-of-war appeared at one port the men ran off inland and 
notice was sent to the other places.^'* Both in Dorset and in other counties 
the mayors and constables were believed to warn the men and assist them to 
disappear temporarily. Many of the officials were themselves shipowners, 

"' S.P. Dom. Interreg. xxvi, No. 55. 
*■' Ibid, xxii, 3 June, 1653. 
"' S.P. Dom. Interreg. cliv. No. 50. 
•" Ibid, cxxvi, No. 4.7. 

"' Ibid. XXX, No. 100. 

'" Ellis, Hist, of Weymouth, 22. 

"^ Ibid, clviii, No. 17. 

'*« Ibid, cxxxii, No. 67. 



and it was contrary to their interests to have their towns cleared of men with 
a consequent rise of wages and difficulty in getting merchantmen to sea. 
During the Commonwealth, Weymouth developed a large trade in the 
manufacture of canvas for the Navy, mainly under the auspices of the Pley 

At the Restoration Portland was armed with i6 guns, but Sandsfoot is 
not included in the survey of i66i;^*^ the office of keeper of the castle was, 
however, granted in 1660.^*^ At Portland there was a garrison of 36 men, 
two matrosses (artillerymen) at Sandsfoot, and one master gunner was attached 
to Weymouth.^" Dorset was not within the area of actual operations 
during the second Dutch war but the ports suffered severely from the 
enemy's privateers. A levy of men in December, 1664, shows the county 
as then having 300 available, as compared with 700 in Devon, 300 in 
Hampshire, and 150 in Somerset."*'* These numbers probably indicate 
the relative ability of each county although no guide to the gross totals. 
Shipwrights, also, were impressed for the royal dockyards, the mayor of Lyme 
writing in January, 1666, that he had sent up all in the town except two ; 
others were obtained from Poole.^'" Early in 1666 Louis XIV joined the 
Dutch, and, as it was not known that he did not intend to give any real help 
to his ally, fears of raids or invasion were acute in the Dorset ports where 
their trade relations with France seem to have made them especially nervous. 
Portland and Sandsfoot Castles were of little use for protection ; in Decem- 
ber, 1664, the duke of Albemarle had proposed that Sandsfoot should be 
demolished, ■"" and, taught by experience, there was a general feeling locally 
that ships were a better safeguard than forts. In July, 1666, they were ' very 
apprehensive ' at Weymouth of a French landing ; a year later, after the 
events in the Thames and Medway, they had still more reason to fear what 
might happen. The people of Lyme were ' much startled ' when they heard 
of Ruiter's deeds in the Medway ; then he came down Channel with his 
fleet and the whole coast was alive with preparation. Additional guns were 
mounted at Lyme, and a night watch set, while militia were brought to 
Dorchester and Weymouth.^" In the latter town they thought, on 6 July, 
that the moment had come when a fleet was seen bearing into the Roads but 
it proved to be composed of English merchantmen. The moment did come 
on 7 August, when 50 sail were in sight, really Dutch, and then drums beat 
and men mustered in the town.-'- But peace had been proclaimed and 
Ruiter was sailing homewards, ignoring Weymouth. 

For nearly two centuries Bridport is not mentioned among the ports ; in 

1670 the inhabitants had in view another attempt to make a harbour, and 
obtained a grant giving them powers to undertake the work.^"^ In 1673, 
however, nothing had been done,^'* and in fact nearly another century elapsed 
before there was shelter even for small coasters. Some improvements had 
been effected at Weymouth remedying the defects noticed in 1657, but in 

1 67 1 a bad south-east gale breached the 'Grand Pier' and destroyed 300ft. 
of another one under the Nothe Hill, besides injuring the quays.""" The third 

■" W. O. Ord. Stores, Ixxviii. ^*' Docquet Bk. Chas. II, Sept. 1 660. 

"' S.P. Dom Chas. II, xxxviii, 47. 

'«' Add. MSS. 9316, fol. 79. =»» S.P. Dom. Chas. II, cxliv, Nos. 28, 90. 

™ Ibid, cvi. No. 76. ^" Ibid, ccx, No. 6. « Ibid, ccxii, No. 97. 

™ Ibid, cclxxxiv, Aug. 1670. *" Blome, BritMiiw. '''^ S.P. Dom. Chas. II, cclxxxviii, No. 33. 



Dutch war caused the usual drain of men to man the fleets, and the customary 
troubles from the spoil made by privateers, but no incident of any interest 
affecting Dorset occurred. The landing of the duke of Monmouth at 
Lyme in June, 1685, brought the county into prominence temporarily, but 
not in connexion with naval affairs, nor did the passage down Channel of 
William of Orange affect the coast. After Torrington's defeat off Beachy 
Head in 1690 there was certain expectation of invasion, and the county 
levies crowded to the ports, but Tourville stood westward to Torbay. His 
fleet was seen off Portland, much to the fear of Weymouth, and guns were 
mounted at Poole. Later in the war, in 1694, the Ordnance Office sent 
three guns to Lyme,"* but in 1690 it was remarked that the result of hos- 
tilities with France was to destroy the trade of Poole, Lyme, and Weymouth, 
which was chiefly with that country, and that the principal business remaining 
was smuggling.'" Two Poole seamen, Peter Jolliffe and Wm. Thompson, 
were awarded gold medals and chains in 1694 and 1695 for heroic conduct 
in action against French privateers. 

The war occasioned a great increase in the Navy, and, as a necessary con- 
sequence, more dockyards were required. Plymouth yard was founded in 
1694, but the Admiralty desired another, which would undoubtedly have 
been established had the national finances permitted the expenditure. In 
1698 several officials travelled round the south coast examining the harbours 
with a view to selecting one for the purpose, but their condemnation of 
Dorset was unhesitating."' At Poole they found a depth of 16 ft. on the 
bar at high water spring tides, and, saying that very few vessels ventured into 
the harbour unless forced there, added that ' it affords nothing in our opinion 
proper or improvable for the service of the Navy.' At Weymouth there was 
sometimes only 3 ft. of water on the bar, which ' to add no more precludes 

There is a belief, unlikely to be well founded, that in the mediaeval 
period lights were shown from the chapels at St. Aldhelm's Head and 
St. Catherine, Abbotsbury. The seventeenth century saw the beginning of 
the modern lighthouse system, in which East Anglia led the way, probably 
by reason of the very large collier and other traffic coasting to and from 
London. As shipping trade increased and the profits from lights became 
greater, courtiers and others used what influence they possessed to obtain 
patents authorizing them to put up lighthouses and collect tolls. After the 
Restoration the competition for patents became very keen. The first appli- 
cant for Portland, in May, 1664, was Sir John Coryton, a large speculator in 
the business, who included it with six other stations he was anxious to light 
for his own and the public benefit."" His petition was referred to the 
Trinity House Corporation to report upon, and as they were jealous trade 
rivals their answer was adverse. Coryton depended upon the influence of 
the duke of York, who, he boasted, never denied him anything ; here he 
overrated his own or the duke's influence and no patent was granted. The 
matter was dropped for nearly half a century, and then Captain William 
Holman petitioned in 1700 for a licence. This, as usual, was submitted to 
the Trinity House, who reported that a lighthouse was needless and that if 

^' H. O. Mil. Entry Bk. iii, 216. *" Treas. Papers, 14 April, 1690 (Rep. of Customs Com.). 

'■"' S'oane MSS. 3233. "*" Hist. MUS. Com. Rep. viii, App. i, 252. 



it ever became necessary they would erect one.^"" Holman was a successful 
Weymouth privateersman, whose name often occurs in official papers of the 
period. The Weymouth Corporation took up the question — indeed, Holman 
was probably their mouthpiece all through — and eventually, in order to pre- 
vent the privilege falling into private hands, the Trinity House obtained a 
patent for themselves dated 26 May, 1716.^°' They built two lighthouses, 
an upper and lower, on the west side of Portland, and intended to lead 
between the Race and the Shambles ; these were sublet on a lease which 
expired in 1777.'°^ 

The lights were coal fires and, besides being feeble, were badly attended 
to ; in 1752 two Elder Brethren of the Trinity House happened to be passing 
Portland on a journey westward and noticed that the fires were not lit until 
two hours after sunset, that the lower light then glimmered faintly for an 
hour and ceased, and that the upper light burnt fitfully for a long time 
before it gave a steady brightness.'"^ When they commented on the matter 
they were told that often the lights did not show all night. In 1789 a new 
tower, built by William Johns of Weymouth, was erected further to the 
eastward for the lower light ; it was then lit with oil, the upper one having 
been altered for oil in 1788.'°* In 1822 these lights were producing 
a net revenue of some ;r2,300 a year.'"'" Both lighthouses have been 
abandoned recently in favour of a new one erected 130 yards from the eastern 
extremity of Portland Bill, standing 141 feet above high-water mark and 
fitted with all the latest improvements. This, which shows an upper and 
lower light in the one tower, was lit in January, 1906. 

A lightship was placed on the east end of the Shambles Shoal from 
I September, 1859. The other shore lights are Weymouth north pier, 1867, 
south stone pier, 1896 ; Anvil Point, 1881 ; Swanage pier, 1897 ; Bourne- 
mouth pier, 1880 ; Boscombe pier, 1894 ; Poole, North Haven Point, 1848, 
Sandbanks pier, 1898 ; and Lyme Regis, 1853. The first Portland 
breakwater light was shown in 1851, and afterwards from the fort at the 
end of the breakwater as then completed in 1876 ; the number and position 
of the lights have been continually changing recently as extensions have 

The earliest sea marks used in navigation were prominent objects, such as 
church towers and natural heights. Of the latter there is no lack along the 
Dorset coast, and their existence has obviated the necessity for artificial 
beacons of which there is only one, that put up by the Trinity House 
on Portland Bill. The date of this is 1844 ; it probably succeeded an older 
beacon but one of no great antiquity. Wyke Regis church, in conjunction 
with the north-east end of Portland, has long been a leading mark to clear 
the Shambles, and St. Aldhelm's and St. Catherine's chapels, especially the 
latter, were old sea marks. 

During the eighteenth century Great Britain, having won the command 
of home waters, was fighting for the mastery of the oceans therefore local 
maritime history ceased, for the most part, to have any intimate connexion 
with naval events. The chief anxiety on the coast now related not to the 

"'° Hardy, British Lighthouses, 104. '"' Pat. 2 Geo. I, pt. iv. 

'"' Pari. Papers, 1861, xxv, 420. '"' Hardy, British Lighthouses, 10;. 

'"' Pari Papers, 1861, xxv, 420 ; Kay Collection, B.M. Nos. 164, 165, 169. 

""^ Pari. Papers, 1822, xxi, 497. 



enemy's fleets but to his privateers ; against these local armaments still had 
their use. A survey of 1714-17 '*''* tells us that Portland Castle had saved 
many ships from being taken by them during the recent wars ; it had ten 
guns when surveyed but was in a dilapidated condition. There had been 
twenty guns at Sandsfoot in 1691, but in 1717 there were only three, of 
which one was old and rusty and two had been washed into the sea. In 1701 
the Ordnance Office had seen no objection in allowing the corporation of 
Weymouth to pull down so much of the walls of the castle as might 
be sufficient to supply them with stones to repair their bridge, and the 
Treasury had sanctioned the proceeding.'"' This, therefore, marks the 
definite abandonment of Sandsfoot. On the Isle of Portland there were 
batteries at the Bill, at Blacknor Point on the west side, at the pier and at 
Rufus Castle on the east side, and at the village of Chesil, but the guns were 
all honeycombed and useless. At Weymouth there was a five-gun battery on 
the Nothe and two others below, one being at the jetty -'"^ and one between 
the Nothe and Sandsfoot. Here, also, the guns were in a condition which 
proves that there could have been little fear of attack during the preceding 
wars. At Melcombe there were four guns in the Blockhouse, eight in the 
Mountjoy battery, and two at the jetty. There were nine guns at Lyme, and 
from a notice of 1724 we learn that they were in two batteries or forts."" 

In 1708 Weymouth petitioned for assistance from the Customs for the 
repair of the bridge, quays, and piers, as the harbour was ' choked up with 
sand occasioned by the ruins of the said quays and bridge,' so that only the 
smallest vessels could enter instead of those of 200 or 300 tons as formerly."* 
It was no doubt in consequence of the deterioration of the harbour that the 
Newfoundland trade deserted Weymouth in favour of Poole during this 
century. From a statement of the grievances of the Poole men against the 
French we find that the town sent forty ships to Newfoundland in 1725.*" 
Defoe notices Poole in 1724 as 'the most considerable sea port in all this 
part of England . . particularly successful for many years past ' in the 

fishery."- The Poole trade grew steadily until between 1769 and 1774 
there were from sixty-two to seventy-four ships a year, and between 1787 
and 1792 from sixty-five to eighty-four."^ The highest number from 
Weymouth was eight ships in 1773, and Lyme seems to have given up the 
fishery. The American War of Independence inflicted great injury on Poole 
not only in the captures made on the Banks by privateers but also by the 
destruction of a trade with the colonies which had been increasing largely 
during the century. Some of the capital thus unemployed was transferred to 
the southern whale fishery to which Poole sent two ships in 178 i and four in 
1783."* The importance of the Newfoundland fishery in breeding seamen 
is shown markedly in the assessments of men on the ports in 1795,"* where 
those places engaged in the traffic stand out in contrast to the others. The 
same influence had acted through three centuries, and had been of priceless 
value in filling the cadres of the Navy, but direct proofs such as that of 1795 
are naturally infrequent. 

^ King's MSS. 45. '"■ Trea. Papers, Ixxiv, 32. 

** This is shoun in the Survey of 1698, ante, p. 220. '■"' Stukely, It'm. Curiosum, 152. 

"° Ttcas. Pti/xrs, cviii, 17. "' Ibid, cclv, 54. 

'" Tour Through Gt. Britnlti, i, Letter ii, 70. '" Pari. Papers, 1793, xlii, App. No. 6. 

'" Pari. Papers, 17S6, Ixxiv, 274. '" Post, p. 224. 



The state of war which, with the exception of one interval of peace, 
existed between 1739 and 1763 led again to local fears of attack from 
privateers. Guns were supplied by the Ordnance Office on condition that 
the towns built batteries and provided ammunition ; ten were sent to Poole, 
seven to Studland Bay, seven to Swanage, and six to Lyme, where there were 
already five in position/^* Taylor's map of Dorset of 1765 "' shows batteries 
on Peverel and Handfast Points, at North and South Haven Points (each 
four guns), and at Poole Head. At Weymouth only the Dock Fort under 
the Nothe is shown ; neither Portland nor Sandsfoot is included in an official 
survey of 1766. There was not so much fear of invasion in Dorset as in 
some other counties during the Seven Years' War, but the vexations of war, 
especially impressment, bore heavily on both owners and men. In 1759, 
Captain Fortescue of H.M.S. Prince Edward was sued for taking so many 
men out of a Poole Newfoundland ship that she was lost ; '^'^^ he was 
cast in jri,ooo and costs, and no doubt got inscribed as well on the Admiralty 
Black Book for Boards of all political parties were equally desirous of 
preventing any case coming into court in which the question of legality of 
impressment might be raised. 

Notices of wrecking, which must always have been common on the 
Dorset coast, become more frequent in the era of journals and newspapers. 
In January, 1762, a French man-of-war, the Zenobie, was lost on the Chesil ; 
seventy-one of the crew saved themselves, but were robbed and stripped by 
the natives. The survivors were clothed and sent back to France by order 
of the king instead of being treated as prisoners of war. That the treatment 
these men received locally was no exceptional incident is proved by the fact 
that in 1754 the Rev. Thomas Francklyn of Fleet preached a sermon on the 
subject, occasioned by what he had seen, in which he said that he had repeatedly 
expostulated with his neighbours and 'tried to stir up principles of compassion 
as well as honesty in their hearts.'^'' He then dwelt on the Wreck Act of 
26 George II, cap. 19, just passed, which made plundering, destroying, and 
wrecking generally, felony punishable with death. The worst instance, 
within historic knowledge, both of wreck and wrecking on the Dorset coast 
occurred in 1795. Rear-Admiral Christian with a squadron of men-of-war 
and upwards of 200 transports with 16,000 troops on board left St. Helens 
for the West Indies on 16 November ; on the 17th they were caught west 
of Portland in a terrible gale, and on the i8th six transports went to pieces 
on the Chesil beach where 234 dead bodies were immediately thrown up, a 
number increased to 1,600 by the 26th. The worst part of the story was 
the behaviour of the people ashore, mostly Portlanders, ' who are always 
praying for wrecks on their coast and whose whole attention was devoted to 
plunder ' instead of the rescue of the drowning. They were soon reinforced 
by ' a considerable mob from different parts solely intent on plunder,' until 
soldiers brought on the scene dispersed them with volleys of musketry. '''° On 
6 February, 1805, the Abergavenny, an East Indiaman, struck on the 
Shambles ; she slipped off and the captain headed for Weymouth Roads 
where she sank in sight of the town, upwards of 300 of the passengers 

"' H.O. Ord. V, 29. '" King's Prints and M.ips (B.M.), 2 Tab. 12 (3). 

^^^ Ann. Register. '^^ Ft3nck\yn, Serious Jr^viee anJ Fair If'arning . . . 1 752. 

"° Jnn. Register, 'Account of an Eyewitness' ; Smith (Charlotte), Narrative of the Loss, &c. Lend. 1796. 



and crew being drowned. Operations with the diving bell to recover the 
specie she carried were continued off and on until i8 12, when the wreck, was 
partly blown up. 

A catalogue of wrecks is unnecessary, but the loss of a French ship off 
Weymouth in October, 1839, may be mentioned because John Mantle, a 
coastguardsman, saved the people by swimming off to her with a rope, for 
which he received the Royal Humane Society's Gold Medal and other 
rewards. There was, however, no improvement in the habits of the local 
population. In the previous year three vessels were lost on the Chesil in 
November ; the coastguard officers reported that the shore was ' completely 
lined with men, women, and children whose only object was plunder , . . 
the people from Portland, who completely covered the beach, committed the 
most bare-faced plunder.' One officer describes them to his superior as ' the 
lawless barn-door savages of the coast. '^-' As recently as 1872, when the 
Royal Adelaide broke up on the Chesil, scores of people were seen lying about 
the beach dead drunk as the barrels of spirits which formed part of her cargo 
came ashore. In September, 1859, the Great Eastern, while on her first trip, 
anchored in Portland Roads after an explosion on board; and in January, 1879, 
the Constitution, the American frigate which took four British men-of-war 
during the war of 18 12, was ashore in Swanage Bay but got off uninjured. 

During the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars there was no great 
apprehension in official circles of a descent on Dorset whatever fears may 
have been felt in the county. Such a descent could only have been in the 
nature of a diversion to assist a real attack on Portsmouth or Plymouth and 
was only possible in the absence of the fleets, a contingency which was not 
allowed to occur. In 1798 the Weymouth Corporation petitioned for a 
guardship to lie in Portland Roads but the Admiralty did not think it 
necessary to place one there. When the war commenced the supply of 
seamen was altogether insufficient to man the royal and merchant navies, 
although years of ever-widening commerce and of naval success had their 
effect, eventually, in attracting thousands of men to the sea. Therefore, 
besides the impress system, always working, and a suspension of certain 
sections of the Navigation Acts, Parliament sanctioned in 1795 and 1796 an 
experiment analogous to the ship-money project of Charles I by requiring 
the counties each to obtain a certain number of men, not necessarily all 
seamen, for the Navy, who were to be attracted by a bounty to be raised by 
an assessment charged in every parish like other local rates.'" In 1795 the 
county was called upon for 142, and in 1796 for 184 men, comparing with 
393 and 509, respectively, for Devon and 236 and 306 for Hampshire. 
The ports, also, were required to procure sailors by the same means, an 
embargo being placed upon all British shipping until they were obtained ; 
Lyme was rated for 23, Weymouth for 139, and Poole for 279 men. 
Dartmouth and Poole, the two great Newfoundland ports, show the highest 
numbers on the south coast, and Poole ranks twelfth in a list of 104 towns. 

In 1798 men were needed more than ever, and the French government 
was known to be considering the possibility of raids, or a descent in force, in 
gunboats, fishing boats, barges, and the like. Therefore, to afford local 

'■' Pari. Papers, 1839, ^"''' ^'■/<"* o" t^" Constabulary Force, 1 19. 
'-' 35 Geo. Ill, cap. 5 ; 37 Geo. Ill, cap. 4. 



security and to get the services or more men a new defensive body, the Sea 
Fencibles, was created by an Order in Council of 14 May, 1798, It was 
raised with the intention of meeting an invading flotilla with another of the 
same character, and for the purpose of manning the coast defences ; it was 
to be composed of boatmen and fishermen, as well as the semi-seafaring 
dwellers of the shore who were not liable to impressment. The men were 
to be volunteers, and the principal inducement offered was that, while 
enrolled, the sea-faring members were not subject to impressment ; they 
were under the command of naval officers and were paid one shilling a day 
while on service. In Dorset there was one complete district and parts of 
two others ; the first extended from Calshot, in Hampshire, to St. Aldhelm's 
Head, with one captain, four lieutenants, and 482 men; the second from 
St. Aldhelm's to Puncknowle, with seven officers and 284 men, and the third 
from Puncknowle to Teignmouth, with eight officers and 331 men.'*"* The Sea 
Fencibles were disbanded in 1802, but reconstituted in 1803 to satisfy 
popular feeling although no confidence was placed in them by experts. 
The outer ring of fleets, with a great volunteer army at home, were relied 
upon for security until Trafalgar extinguished any possibility of invasion. 

The establishment of signal stations round the coast was commenced 
after the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. Those at Ballard Hill, Round 
Down, St. Aldhelm's Head, Hamborough Hill, the Verne, Portland, Punc- 
knowle, and Whitelands date from 1794, and Golden Cap from 1796.*^* In 
1803 a return was made to the mediaeval system of fire beacons which were 
prepared for use in suitable positions. ^^' In 1752 there were eight guns at 
Portland Castle ; *'" during the Great War the number was reduced to five, 
but there were two detached batteries erected mounting seven guns.'" At 
Swanage there was a powder magazine and a temporary three-gun battery 
dismantled at the peace. The Nothe Fort at Weymouth consisted of a central 
circular building of brick for two traversing guns, with platforms on either 
flank carrying two guns each ; '^* the artillery was removed in 1821 and the 
battery used as a coastguard station.'^' Bridport possessed two batteries, of 
two guns each, for which the emplacements had been built by the county. 
A magazine was constructed at Dorchester in 1809. 

It will be noticed'"" that a man-of-war sloop of 270 tons was built at 
Poole in 1746, the first war ship launched in the county for the Admiralty. 
Her builder was Mr. Tito Durell, but she had no successor, for reasons which 
can only be guessed at, for many years. An Act for the restoration of 
Bridport Harbour had passed in 1722, but no steps were taken under it until 
nearly the middle of the century. In 175 1 the new harbour was said to be 
large enough to contain 40 sail,''' and thenceforward shipping trade came to 
the town, and shipbuilding was commenced. The increase of the sloop class 
and the introduction of gunbrigs, at the close of the eighteenth century, 
brought government work to many small builders, and those of Bridport had 
a share of the contracts which included some large sloops. In 1804 
Messrs. Bools and Good were the Bridport builders, and they constructed all 

™ Pari. Papers, 1857-8, xxxix, 337. "* Acct. Gen. Misc. Var. no. 

''' See W. Jennings, map of Dorset, 1803. 

"^ Add. MSS. 22875. "' W. O. Ord. Engineers, cxlvii. 

'-" Ibid. "' Hutchins, Hist, of Dorset (3rd ed), ii, 441. 

"" App. of Ships. "' Whatley, England's Gazetteer, Lond. 175 i. 

2 225 29 


the men-of-war which came from there from that year onwards. Other 
Dorset shipbuilders of the same date were Henry Chard at Lyme ; Thos. 
Burt, Sam. Esther, Ric. Penny, Cherret and Wills, and Medowes & Co., 
at Poole ; Thos. Ayles, at Portland ; Barnes & Co., at Swanage ; and Thos. 
Wallis, John deed, Simon Jenkens, and Thos. Brick, at Weymouth.^'' The 
number of the Poole builders, and the fact that they did not care to tender for 
Admiralty contracts, shows that the Newfoundland trade there, then reaching 
its zenith, gave plenty of employment, but probably much of the work 
overflowed to Weymouth. Messrs. Cherret and Wills seem to have been 
the biggest firm in the county. The establishment of a packet service in 
1794 between Weymouth and the Channel Islands must also have brought 
employment to the Weymouth builders. At first the packets were hired 
vessels, three, of 50 tons each, being in the service in 1807,''' but, later, 
government ships were used. In 1837 the establishment was transferred to 
the Admiralty and steamers put on the station ; in 1845 there were four 
running but none of them had been built at Weymouth. 

The first Dorset lifeboat was stationed at Portland in 1825, followed by 
another at Studland in 1826 ; both were supplied and maintained by local 
subscriptions and there were no others for many years. Manby's rocket 
apparatus was placed at Portland and Bridport in 181 5. 

The principal naval event of the nineteenth century relating to Dorset 
IS the construction of Portland Breakwater. It has been noticed that it was 
intended as a reply to Cherbourg when that port was enlarged and fortified 
to an extent that suggested that the French government hoped to make it 
another Brest. But, while Portland has grown in strength and importance, 
the developments of modern warfare have reduced the value of Cherbourg to 
such a degree that many French officers now regard it as worse than worth- 
less — a trap, indefensible in itself, attracting an enemy to a weak part of the 
coast, and unable to protect the war ships sheltering within it. Certainly 
the Cotentin peninsula is very vulnerable to a power having the command 
of the sea, and it is significant that Cherbourg itself, although strongly 
fortified in the middle ages, was never able to resist English or French attack 
when held by either power during the Hundred Years' War. As late as 
1758, although then recently fortified in the most scientific manner, it fell 
easily into the hands of Bligh and Howe. The Portland Breakwater had 
been proposed towards the end of the eighteenth century when there were 
sometimes from 100 to 150 merchantmen taking refuge in the Roads. The 
government of that day had no reason from a military point of view to 
undertake the work, therefore nothing was done until Cherbourg seemed to 
be growing into a great naval base. The construction was commenced in 
August, 1847, under the superintendence of Mr. J. M. Rendel and Mr. John 
Coode, the latter succeeding Rendel, and after two years of preliminary work 
the first stone was placed on 25 July, 1849. The estimated cost was to be 
^^589, 000, but the plans were subsequently altered and down to 1875 
upwards of ^^i, 000, 000 had been expended."^' 

As finished originally the Breakwater, containing nearly 5,750,000 tons 
of stone, consisted of inner and outer arms, with an opening between them, 

"' Pari. Papers, 1805, viii, 485. '^ Ibid. 1809, x, 388. 

'" Ibid. 1852-3, xcviii, 609 ; 1876, Ixv, 546 ; j^nn. Register, 1849. 


Portland Harbour 


New Breakwater. 

Scale ofYards. 

1500 aooo Tos 




protecting the Roads between east and south, the opinion of expert witnesses 
in 1 845 being that a war fleet could not lie there in all weathers without such 
shelter. The inner arm is 1,700 and the outer arm 6,400 ft. long, the 
opening between them being 400 ft. wide ; there are forts at the extremi- 
ties of both inner and outer arms. As well as these forts other defences 
were planned in i860 ; the Verne Citadel, high up on the northern bluff of 
Portland, in a position commanding a wide sweep of water towards the 
Dorset coast and out to sea, and a new Nothe Fort on modern lines, were 
added. Below the Verne, on the east side of the hill and some 200 ft. 
above the sea level, are the East Weir batteries ; the position of the Verne, 
the Nothe, and the Weir, gives them a plunging fire while necessitating a 
high angle fire from the enemy's battleships, thus placing the latter under the 
most unfavourable conditions possible. The inner Breakwater Fort is con- 
sidered a weak one, but that at the extremity of the outer arm is strong. 
From the Nothe at Weymouth to the extremity of the outer arm there were 
two miles of open water, and as the Breakwater approached completion the 
era of the torpedo began. As the torpedo and the torpedo boat improved 
in offensive capacity year by year the value of Portland, open to a more 
deadly form of attack than was possible in the old navy, decreased, but it 
was not until 1895 that additional works were commenced. The dangerous 
opening has been closed by the construction of two more breakwaters ; one, 
1,550 yards long, from the mainland at Bincleaves, and another, 1,455 y^fds 
long, called the New Breakwater. Between the Bincleaves and the New 
Breakwater, and between the latter and the old outer breakwater, are two 
openings, each 700 ft. wide. An area, of which 1,500 acres have not less 
than thirty feet at low water, is now inclosed, forming, in the opinion of 
naval men, one of the finest artificial harbours in the world. 

In 1855 Poole Harbour, as a retired spot, was the scene of an experi- 
mental trial of a submarine boat intended for use against the boom at 
Cronstadt. The six men who went down in her were nearly drowned and 
the invention was not adopted by the Admiralty. 


List (Chronologically Arranged) of Men-of-War Built in Dorset with their 
Services to the Close of the Napoleonic War 

[Abbreviations used : — Ch. = Channel Station ; Med. = Mediterranean ; W.I. = West Indies ; 
N.S. = North Sea; N. A. = North America; C. and C. = Convoy and cruising duties; A.O. = 
Admiralty Order ; P.O. = Paid out of Commission ; R.S. = Receiving ship.] 

Names of captains or of officers subsequently distinguished are within brackets (c. = captain). 
It should be remembered that only the chief movements of vessels are given. A ship may have 
been for some years in the Mediterranean, but have returned for short periods for repairs ; such 
intervals are not noticed in the list of services, nor, if occupied in more than one employment in a 
year, is any other than the principal one usually named. 

Viper (sloop), 270 tons, 14 guns ; built at Poole 1746. Services : C. and C. 1746-8 
(c. Robt. Roddam) ; in June, 1747, silenced and dismantled a battery and took or burnt 33 coasters 
at Cedeyra, near Cape Ortegal ; W.I. 1749-52 (c. Corn. Smelt) and P.O. Made fireship and 
name changed to Lightning by A.O. 22 July, 1755. N.A. 1757-8 (c. H. M. Goostrey) ; 
C. and C. 1759-61 (c. Jos. Norwood). Sold 1762. 

Attentive (gunbrig), 178 tons, 12 guns ; built at Bridport 1804. Services: W.I. 1805-10 
(Lieuts. John Harris and Robt. Carr). Broken up 181 2. 



Cheerly (gunbrig), 177 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1804. Services: N.S. 1805 
(Lieut. G. Huish) ; Ch. (Plymouth) 1 806-8 (Lieut. G. Fullerton) ; Brazil 1809-10 ; Ch. (Downs) 
1811-12; Baltic 1813; N.S. 1814. Sold 1815. 

Fly (sloop), 286 tons, 16 guns ; built at Bridport 1805. Services ; Ch. i8o6(c. W. H. Dobbie) ; 
Cape 1807 (c. John Thompson) ; Ch. (Downs) 1808-9 5 ^* ^"'^ ^* 1810 (c M. H. Dixon) ; 
Baltic i8ii— 12 (c. Hen. Hyman). Wrecked 29 Feb. 181 2, on the Isle of Anholt. 

Indignant (gunbrig), 182 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1805. Services: Ch. 1805-6 ; 
Baltic 1807. Downs, 1808-9. Broken up 1812. 

Intelligent (gunbrig), 179 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1805. Services: Ch. 1805—6 
(Lieut. Nich. Tucker); Baltic 1807; Ch. 1808-9; off Cherbourg 1810-14. Sold 1815. 

Inveterate (gunbrig), 182 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1805. Services: Ch. 1806-7 
(Lieuts. Horace Petley and Geo. Norton). Wrecked near St. Valery en Caux, 18 Feb. 1807. 

Carrier (cutter), 54 tons, 6 guns; built at Bridport 1805. Services: Ch. (Lieuts. L. R. 
Ramsey and Wm. Milne) took La Ragoten^ 8, on 20 Feb. 1807, and UActif, 2, on 14 Nov. 
Wrecked near Etaples, 5 Feb. 1809. 

Frolic (sloop), 384 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1806. Services: W.l. 1808-13 
(c. Thos. Whinyates). Taken 18 Oct. l8i2 by the American sloop fVasp (56 k. and w.). Re- 
captured the same day by the Poictiers, 74, which also took the Wasp. Broken up by A.O. 
21 Oct. 1813. 

Laurel (6th rate), 520 tons, 22 guns; built at Bridport 1806. Services: C. and C. 1807 
(c. J. C. Woolcombe) ; Cape of Good Hope 1808, taken 15 Sept. 1808 by La Cannoniere, 36, off 
Isle of France (28 k. and w.). Retaken 12 April 1810 by H.M.S. Unicorn, and renamed 
Laurestinus. Cape 1811 (c. the Hon. Wm. Gordon) ; Ch. 1812 ; N.A. 1813 (c. Thos. Graham. 
Wrecked near Halifax, 21 Aug. 1813. 

Philomel (sloop), 384 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1806. Services: Med. 1807-14 
(c. Geo. Crawley and Chas. Shaw). Sold 181 7. 

Egeria (sloop), 424 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1807. Services: N.S. 1808-12 
(c. Lewis Hole). Took Ncesois, 10, 21 Dec. 1808, and Aalhorg, 6, 2 March, 1809. R.S. Devon- 
port 1825-60 ; Police ship, Devonport, 1860-4. 

Minstrel (sloop), 423 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1807. Services: Med. 1807-14 
(c. John HoUinworth and Robt. Mitford). Took Ortenzia, 10, 16 July, 1808. Sold 1817. 

Curlew (sloop), 382 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1811. Services: N.A. 1813-14 
(c. Mich. Head). Sold in East Indies 1822. 

Saracen (sloop), 382 tons, 18 guns; built at Bridport 1812. Services: Ch. 1812 
(c. K. L. A. Harper), took Le Courier, 14, on 23 Sept. 1812 ; Med. 1813-14, landing parties took 
the islands of Zupano and Mezzo (Adriatic) with their garrisons in June 1813. Sold 1819. 

Conflict (gunbrig), 180 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1812. Services: Newfoundland 
(Lieut. H. L. Baker) 1813 ; C. and C. (A. M. Hawkins) 1814. R.S. Sierra Leone 1832-40. 
Sold 1841. 

Contest (gunbrig), 180 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1812. Services: N.A. 1813— 14 
(Lieut. Jas. Rattray), cutters of Contest and Alohawk cut out an American privateer 14 July, 
1814. Wrecked near Halifax 14 April, 1828 ; all drowned. 

Snap (gunbrig), 180 tons, 12 guns; built at Lyme 1812. Services: C. and C. 1813-14 
(Lieut. W. B. Dashwood), took Le Lion, 16, 6 Nov. 1813. 

Plumper (gunbrig), 180 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 1813. 

Swinger (gunbrig), 180 tons, 12 guns; built at Bridport 18 13. Services: C. and C. 1814 
(Lieut. A. B. Branch). 

Fury (bombship), 325 tons, 8 guns; built at Bridport 1814. Services: Arctic Discovery 
1821-3 (c. Sir W. E. Parry); second voyage 1824-5 C*^- H- ?• Hoppner). Wrecked in the 
Arctic, 1825. 




DORSET is, and always has been, primarily an agricultural and 
pastoral county, although owing to its varied soil and to its 
coast line and harbours, its interests and economic features have 
been many. At two periods the life of its towns may almost 
be considered to have equalled in importance that of the country districts — 
namely, in the early days of their maritime importance, and later in the 
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when they rose to be fashionable 
watering-places. But for the most part, both socially and from the point of 
view of its economic history, interest centres in the status and welfare of 
the people of its villages and country districts, and in the forces which 
regulated their lives. 

The county was from an early date one of large landowners and 
extensive private franchises. In the north-west the bishop of Salisbury held 
the three hundreds of Sherborne, Yetminster, and Beaminster in the thirteenth 
century ; in the north-east the earl of Gloucester was lord of the great 
hundred of Cranborne, while between the two Shaftesbury Abbey held the 
two hundreds of Sixpenny and Handley.^ The free manors of Fordington, 
Dewlish, Broadwinsor, and Chilcombe, and the liberties of Owermoigne 
Powerstock, and Sutton Poyntz were but a few of the franchises held by over- 
lords sufficiently powerful to refuse suit to the hundred courts.*" 

Several of the chief landowners of the county held by serjeanty, some 
of the services due being of an unusual kind. Thus John Godwyne held 
half a hide in Purse Caundle in the thirteenth century by the serjeanty of 
keeping such of the king's dogs as were injured while he was hunting in 
Blackmoor Forest, and a contribution of id. 2. year towards the closing of 
Gillingham Park,* while the house of Russel had to count out the king's 
chessmen in the royal chamber on Christmas Day, and to replace them 
in their bag at the end of the game.* The lord of Winfrith was bound to 
hold a basin of water for the king to wash his hands on his birthday and at 
Whitsuntide ; for this service he was entitled to the silver basins unless the 
earl of Oxford were present, in which circumstances the earl appropriated the 
basins and compensated de Newburgh by giving him his own robe.' 
The lord of Wimborne was usher of the king's household, the le Moines 

' FeuJ. Aids, ii ; cf. Assize R. 204. ' Hund. R. (Rec. Com.), ii ; Feud. Aids, ii. 

' Feud. Aids, ii, 5. * Abbrev. Rot. Orig. (Rec. Com.), ii, 29 ; Feud. Aids, ii, 6. 

' Assize R. 201 ; cf. Red Bk. of Exch. (Roll, S.r.), 546 ; Feud Aids, ii, 9. 



were keepers of the royal larder, William de Welles was the king's baker, and 
the Windsors of Broadwinsor were weighers of money in the Exchequer 
of Receipt at Windsor,* while Bryanston was held by the serjeanty of 
finding one man with a bow without a bowstring, and an arrow without 
feathers, for the king's army.' 

Below the ranks of the tenants in chief there seems to be no sufficient 
evidence upon which to base any calculation as to the relative strength of the 
free and villein classes. In 1244, indeed, it was said that all the tenants of 
Mayne Hospital were freemen,* but in most places the villeins would appear 
to have been in the majority in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. 
Thus on the manor of Coombe Keynes there were no free tenants, while there 
were at least seven villeins and seven cottars, and probably others not 
mentioned in detail.' Again at Stottingway and Way Bayeux in 1288 there 
were only five free tenants as compared with thirteen customary tenants and 
three cottars, and at Ranston (in Iwerne Courtney) in 1274 there were five 
freemen and ten villeins,^" while at Steeple in 13 14 the customary tenants and 
cottars together numbered forty-four, only two freemen being mentioned." 
Later in the reign of Edward II there were at Hillfield four freemen and 
nineteen customary tenants of various ranks, and at Milton Abbas nineteen 
freemen and as many as 156 villeins and cottars." Apart, however, from 
the fact that this evidence has been collected at haphazard from different 
parts of the county its ultimate value is small ; for even were it possible to 
give an exhaustive list of the extents for every manor throughout the county, 
the fact that in many cases there is no mention of freemen ^' would still 
remain a stumbling block. It is, of course, quite possible that in these 
cases the whole of the manor was occupied by unfree tenants, the more 
so as had there been freemen it would have been natural to find at 
least some mention of their rents, but from the point of view of the lord 
of the manor the villein, with his customary works and his rightless con- 
dition, was so much more important and valuable a factor in the manorial 
economy that it would be dangerous to draw too rigid an inference from the 

However this may be, it cannot be doubted that the villein population of 
the county was considerable, and a certain amount of information can be 
gathered as to its condition during the thirteenth and early fourteenth 
centuries. That the Dorset magnates occasionally availed themselves of 
their utmost rights with regard to their unfree tenants is clear. Nothing 
could be more illustrative of this fact than three records, unfortunately undated, 
in a Shaftesbury Abbey register, in which the abbess in full court quitclaims 
A.B. ' a nativitate cum omne sequela magistro C.D.'^* The form of these 
deeds of sale shows the mediaeval conception of villein status in its most 
crude form. Not only is the degrading term ' sequela ' applied to the man's 
children, but he himself seems to be barely credited with an individual 

' Asiiz- R. 201, m. 2, 2 </. ; Red Bk. of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 546-7 ; Feud. Aids, ii, 9. 
' Feud. Aids, ii, 1. ' Assize R. 201, m. \d. 

• Chin. Inq. p.m. Ecw. I, file 14, No. I. '° Ibid, file 51, No. 9 ; file 8, No. I. 

" Ibid. 8 Edw. II, file 43, No. 25. A simi'ar preponderance of customary tenants is noticeable 
at Cranborne, Pimperne, and Tarrant Gunville. But contrast Po tland and Wyke ; ibid. No. z6. 
" Hi.tchins, Hist, of Dorset (3rd ed.), iv, 383, 501, quoting Milton Abbey Custumal. 
" e.g. Chan. Inq. p.m. Edw. I, file 51, No. 9 ; Little Piddle and Edmondsham. 
" Harl. MS. 61, fol. 89^. 



existence ; he is merely a member of the villeinage, as a sheep might be a 
member of the flock. 

That the villein was rightless as against his lord is one of the first 
axioms of the thirteenth-cent