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in all other thynges with dylygens to thuttermost of my poore, desyryng that you wyll remembre God herein (as I dowte not but ye wyll), who ever accomplyshe your good mynd in all thynges. From Ely, the fyrst daye of Novembre. Yours ever assuryd, THoMAS LEGh.
In the last edition of the Monasticon there appears to be some error or confusion relating to the date of the following letter, and to the last abbot of the Premonstratensian abbey of West Dereham, who is said to have been Roger Forman, and to have held the same office from 1522 to the time of the dissolution of his house. It is stated in the same work that “John Maxey, bishop of Elphin, was commendator of Welbeck, A.D. 1520.”
The abbey of Premonstratensian canons of Welbeck, in Nottinghamshire, was begun in the reign of Stephen, and the foundation completed under Henry II. The bishops of Ely, having bought the manor, were afterwards considered the founders or patrons. The abbey of West Dereham, in Norfolk, formed by a colony of canons brought from Welbeck, was built in 1188 by Hubert, then dean of York, afterwards bishop of Salisbury.
Please hit you, maister secretarie, to understonde, I receyved the xxvith day of Octobre a certificate from the convent of Westdorham under there convent sele of the dethe of my brother abbot ther (whose soule God pardon'), and the sele of his office also, accordinge to the old custome and usage that hath ben all wayes usid in timys past, to be sent unto the father abbot from all his filiall chirches, and also accordinge to ye private statutis of our religion. Sir, I perceyve that the kynges grace visitors (doctor Lee) be forthe in those parties, and whether hit be your maistershipis plesure that he shall medle in that eleccion or noo I dissire humbly to know your plesur, for I insure you I wolde do nothinge but that which my;t stonde with your lawful favore, seinge that ye are and hath ben alwaye so gud maister to me and unto my pour religion. ) Notwithstondinge, as your maistershipe knowes well that the kynges grace hathe gyven to me and unto the pour monastery of Welbeck (imperpetuum) under his brod sele for all eleccions of al the ordre of Premonstraten. within this realme and Walis. Howbehit I intend to do nothinge but that shall stond withe the kynges grace plesur and yours bothe, humbly dissiringe to know your maistershipis plesur in writing what I shall do herein. Your maistership said unto me, at my last beinge withe you, that when any eleccion fell in my religion I shuld do my duety lyke as I have done before tyme, and accordingly unto the kynges grace graunt. Also ther hathe ben a prest (the person of Brandon Ferre), and maid a sequestracion of all the gudis ther, both within and witheout, moveable and unmovable, but whether your maistership knowes of hit or not I can not say. Sir, as towching all suche communicacions as I hade at my last being withe yow, (God willing) I shall performe at my commyng upe at Candlemas next commyng. And thus Jhesu preserve yow in helthe with myche honore. From Welbeck, the ijde day of Novembre. Yours to hys little poure, John ELPHIN and commendatar off Welbek.
The commissioners appear to have found little in the large Benedictine monastery of Bury in Suffolk to report, except a list of superstitious relics.
Please it your mastership, forasmoche as I suppose ye shall have sute made unto yow touching Burie er we retourne, I thought convenient to advertise yow of our procedinges there, and also of the compertes of the same. As for thabbot, we found nothing suspect as touching his lyving, but it was detected that he laye moche forth in his granges, that he delited moche in playng at dice and cardes, and therin spent moche money, and in buylding for his pleasure. He did not preche openly. Also that he converted divers fermes into copie holdes, wherof poore men doth complayne. Also he semeth to be addict to the mayntenyng of suche supersticious ceremones as hathe ben used hertofor.
As touching the convent, we coulde geate litle or no reportes amonge theym, although we did use moche diligence in our examinacion, and therby, with some other argumentes gethered of their examinacions, I fermely beleve and suppose that they had confedered and compacted bifore our commyng that they shulde disclose nothing. And yet it is confessed and proved, that there was here suche frequence of women commyng and reassorting to this monastery as to no place more. Amongest the reliques we founde moche vanitie and superstition, as the coles that Saint Laurence was tosted withall, the paring of S. Edmundes maylles, S. Thomas of Canterbury penneknyff and his bootes, and divers skulles for the hedache; peces of the holie crosse able to make a hole crosse of ;* other reliques for rayne and certain other superstitiouse usages, for avoyding of wedes growing in corne, with suche other. Here departe of theym that be under age upon an eight, and of theym that be above age upon a five, wolde departe yf they might, and they be of the best sorte in the house and of best lernyng andjugement. The hole nomber of the covent before we cam was lx., saving one, beside iij. that were at Oxforde. Of Elie I have written to your mastership by my felowe Richard a Lee. And thus Almightie God have you in his tuicion. From Burie, vol. Novembre. Your servant moste bounden, John AP Rice.
* The immense number of pieces of the true cross possessed by different religious
houses, both on the continent and in England, was a frequent subject of ridicule among the earlier reformers.
The following letter is an additional evidence of the eagerness with which the country gentlemen and the courtiers were looking out for shares in the abbey lands. The small priory of Ingham in Norfolk was founded in the fourteenth century, by Sir Miles Stapleton, of Bedale in Yorkshire.
Ryght woorshypfull syr, as I am most bownde of dewtye, with my humble recommendacions to your mastershyppe, syr, yt shall please yow to be athvertysyd that here ys an abbey callyd Ingham in Norfolke, not fare frome Seynt Benettes abbeye, the fownder therof ys on sir Frawnses Calthrope, and after hys dethe one Edwarde Calthrope, nevewe and heyer unto the sayd syr Fraunses, whoo hathe maryid a nere kynswoman off myne. The prior and covent of the same abbye, by the covent seale, hathe solde the hole abbye with all the londdes therto belongyng, to one Wylliam Wodhowse a nere dweller to the same, wythowght the knowlege of the fownder, and allso contrary to the promysse of the sayd prior and covent, who promyssyd the sayd Edward Calthrope that in case they dyde eyther selle or aleyne the same or ony parte therof, that the same Edwarde shulde have yt before any other man, forasmyche as yt was ffowndyd by hys awnsetours, and the sayd Edward allso nexte heyer to the fowndacion. Yett notwithstondyng hys promysse, he hathte solde yt to the sayde Woodhowse by the covent seale, as afore mensionyd, and the same Woodhowse now beyng at London to serve owght the recoverye of the same. Soo as the same Edwarde Calthrope for ever shall loose hys fowndacion, and allso hys bargeyne of the prior and covent, onlesse yt wyll please your mastershype, at thys my power sewte, to be soo goode master to the sayde Edwarde Callthrope to stoppe the recovere incontinent with spede, tyll your mastershype shalbe further instructyd and sewyd unto by the sayd Edwarde Calthrope and other of hys fryndys. And forasmyche as the sayde Edward ys the fownder and allso hade a speciall promyse of the prior and covent to bye the same in casse they dyd sell yt, after my power mynde yt ware moste reason that he shulde have the barganye and profarment before ony other. Yf yt please yower mastershyppe to helpe hym and stonde hys good master, I dowght with yower helpe he maye recover hys sayd bargayne in the same, and for the paynys that yower mastershyppe shall take therin, the same Edward shall gyffe yow an hondryde powndes, and yow shall bynde hym and alle hys frynddys to be yower sarvaunttys and bedemen whyll they doo lyve. I beseche yow, syr, that I maye be athevertysyd of yower pleasure herein by my servaunt thys brynger. Syr, I am allwayse bolde to crave to yower mastershyppe for eyde and helpe for me and my frynddys, not able to requite yower goodnesse but with my power harte and sarvyse, wyche ys and shalbe at yower commaundment; and thus I beseche God to preserve yower mastershyppe to long lyffe and good prosperytye. Frome Bungeye, the vij. daye of Novembyr. Att yower mastershyppes commawndment, RYCHARD WHART.on.