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hertofore had by the space of two hundreth yeres and more, for an honest and charytable reformacion of suche unthrifty, carnall, and abhomynable lyvyng, yett neverthelesse lytell or none amendement ys hytherto hadde, but ther vycyous lyvyng shamelesly encreasseth and augmentith, and by a cursed custome soo rooted and enfested that a greate multytude of the relygyous persones in suche smale houses doo rather chose to rove abrode in apostasy than to conforme them to the observacion of good relygyon; soe that without suche small houses be utterly suppressed, and the relygyous persons therin commytted to greate and honorable monasteries of relygyon in this realme, where thei maye be compelled to lyve relygyously for the reformacion of ther lyves, ther canne elles be noo reformacion in this behalf. In consideracion wherof the kynges most royall majestye beynge supreme hede in erthe under God of the churche of Englonde, dayly findyeng and devysyng the increase advauncement and exaltation of true doctryne and vertue in the seid churche, to the onelye glorye and honor of God and the totall extirpyng and dystruccion of vyce and synne, havyng knowledge that the premysses be true, as well by the comptes of his late vysytacions as by sondry credyble informacions, consyderyng also that dyverce and greate solempne monasteryes of this realme, wherin, thankes be to God, relygyon is right well kept and observed, be destytute of suche full nombers of relygyous persons as they ought and maye kepeshath thought good that a pleyne declaracion shuld"be made of the premysses aswell to the lordes spirituall and temporall as to other his lovyng subjectes the commons in this present parliament assembled ' wherupon the seid lordes and commons by a greate deliberacion fynally be resolved, that yt ys and shalbe moche more to the pleasour of Almyghty God and for the honor of this his realme that the possessions of suche spirituall relygyous howses, nowe beyng spent, spoyled, and wasted for increase and mayntenance of synne, shuld be used and converted to better uses, and the unthryfty relygyous persons soo spendyng the same to be compellyd to reforme ther lyves. And therupon most humbly desire the kynges highnes that yt may be enacted by auctoryte of this present parlyament, that his majestie shall have and enjoye to hym and his heires for ever all and synguler suche monasteryes pryoryes and other relygyous houses of monkes, chanons, and nonnes, of what kyndes or dyversyties of habyttes, rules, or orders soo ever thei be called or named, which have not in landes and tenementes, rentes, tythes, porcions and other heredytamentes, above the clere yerely value of two hundreth poundes; and in lyke maner shall have and enjoye all the scytes and circuytes of every suche relygyous houses, and all and synguler the manors, granges, meases, londes, tenementes, revercions, rentes, servyces, tythes, pencions, portions, churches, chapelles, advowsons, patronages, annuyties, rightes, entres, condycions, and other heredytamentes apperteynyng or belongyng to every suche monasterye, pryory, or other relygyous house, not havyng as ys aforeseid above the seid clere yerely value of two hundreth poundes, in as large and ample maner as the abbottes, pryours, abbesses, pryoresses, or other governors of suche monasteryes, pryoryes, and other relygyous houses now have or ought to have the same in the right of ther houses. And that also his highnes shall have to hym and to hys heires all and synguler suche monasteryes, abbeis, and pryoryes whiche at eny tyme, within one yere next aftre the makyng of this acte, hath be gevyn and graunted to his majesty by any abbot, pryour, abbes, or pryores, under the covent seales, or that otherwyse hath be suppressed or dyssolved. And all and synguler the manors, londes, tenementes, rentes, servyces, revercions, tythes, pencions, portions, churches, chapelles, advowsons, patronages, rightes, entrees, condicions, and all other interestes and hereditaments to the same monasteryes, abbeys, and pryoryes, or to any of them, apperteynyng or belongyng. To have and to holde all and synguler the premysses with all ther rightes, profyttes, jurysdyccions, and commodytyes, unto the kynges majestye and to his heires and assignes for ever, to doo and use therwyth his and ther owen wylles to the pleasor of Almyghty God and to the honor and profytte of thys realme.” After some provisions in favour of persons holding rents, &c. out of the possessions of the abbeys to be dissolved, the bill goes on to say,+* Provyded alweis and be yt enacted, that, forasmoche as dyverce of the chief governours of suche relygyous houses, determynyng the utter spoyle and destruccion of ther houses, and dreadnyng the suppressyng therof, for the mayntenance of ther detestable lyves, have lately fraudelently and craftely made feoffamentes, estates, gyftes, grauntes, and leasses under ther covent seales, or suffred recoveres of ther manors, londes, tenementes, and heredytamentes in fee symple, fee tayle for terme of lyf or lyves or for yeres, or charged the same with rentes or corrodyes, to the greate decaye and dymynycion of ther houses, that all suche craftye and fraudelent recoveres, feoffamentes, estates, gyftes, grauntes, and leasses, and every of them, made by eny of the seid chief governors of suche relygyous houses under the covent seales within one yere next afore the makyng of this acte, shall be utterly voyde and of none effecte. “Provyded alweys that suche person and persons as have leasses for terme of lyfor yeres wherupon is reserved the olde rentes and services accustomed, and such as have eny offyce, fees, and corrodyes that hathe bee accustomed or used in such relygyous houses, or hath bought any liverye or lyvyng in any suche houses, shall have and enjoye ther seid leasses, offyces, fees, corrodyes, lyveres, or lyvynges, as if this acte hadde never be made. “And yt ys also enactyd by auctoryte aforseide that the kynges highnes shall have and enjoye to his owen propere use all the ornamentes, jewelles, goodes, catalles, and dettes which apperteyned to eny of the chief governours of the seid monasteryes or relygyous houses in the right of ther seid monasteryes or houses at the furst day of Marche in the yere of oure Lorde God M.D.xxxv. or eny tyme sythen, whersoever and to whose possession soever they shall comme or be founde: except onely suche beastes, grayne, and woodes, and suche other lyke catalles and revenues, as have ben sold in the seid furste daye of Marche or sythen for the necessarye or resonable expences or charges of eny of the seid monasteryes or houses. “Provyded alweis that suche of the seid chief governours which have be elect or made abbotte, prior, abbesse, or priores, of eny of the seid relygyous houses sythen the furst daye of Januarye which was in the yere of our Lorde God M!.D.xxxiiij., and by reason therof be bounden to paye the furst frutes to the kynges highnes at dayes to comme lymyted by ther bondes made for the same, that in every suche house such chief governour and the suertyes of every of them shalbe clerly dyscharged by auctoryte of this acte ayenst the kynges highnes and all other persones for the payment of suche sommes of money as theistonde bounden to paye for ther seid furst frutes or for eny parte therof. “And forasmoche as the clere yerely value of all the seid monasterys, pryoryes, and other relygyous houses in this realme, is certefyed into the kynges excheker amongest the bokes of the yerely valuacions of all the spirituall possessions of this realme, amongest which shall and may appere the certentye and nomber of suche small and lytell relygyous houses as have not in londes, tenementes, rentes, tythes, porcions, and other heredytamentes, above the seid clere yerely value of two hundreth poundes; be it therfore enacted by auctorytie aforseid, that the kynges highnes shall have and enjoye accordyng to this acte the actuall and reall possession of all and syngler suche monasteryes, pryoryes, and other relygyous houses, as shall appere by the seid certyfycate remaynyng in the kynges eschequer not to have in londes, tenementes, rentes, tythes, porcions, and other heredytamentes above the seid clere yerely value of two hundreth poundes: soo that his highnes maye lawfully gyve, graunte, and dyspose them or any of them at his wyll and pleasour, to the honor of God and the welth of this realme, without further inquysycion or offices to be had or founde for the same. “In consyderacion of whiche premysses to be had to his highnes and to his heires as ys aforseid, his majestye ys pleasyd and contentyd, of his most excellent charyte, to provyde to every chief hed and governour of every suche relygyous house duryng ther lyves, suche yerely pencions or benefyces as for ther degrees and qualytyes shalbe resonable and convenyent; wherein his highnes wyll have most tender respect to suche of the seid chief governours as well and truly conserve and kepe the goodes and ornamentes of ther houses to the use of his majestie without spoyle, waste, or embesylyng the same, and also his majestye wyll ordeyne and provyde that the coventes of every suche relygyous house shall have ther capacytes, if thei wyll, to lyve honestlye and vertuously abrode, and some convenyent chary tie dysposed to them toward ther lyvyng, or elles shalbe commytted to suche honorable greate monasteryes of this realme wherin good relygyon ys observed, as shalbe lymyted by his highnes, ther to lyve relygyously duryng ther lyves. “And yt ys ordeyned by auctoryte aforseid, that the cheff governours and coventes of suche honerable greate monasteryes shall take and accept into ther houses from tyme to tyme such nomber of the persons of the seid coventes as shalbe assigned and appoynted by the kynges highnes, and kepe them relygyously duryng their lyves within ther seid monasteryes in lyke maner and forme as the coventes of suche greate monasteryes be orderyd and kept.” Some clauses follow relating to the payments of tithes and subsidies out of the monastic estates, and to the payment of debts due from the monasteries dissolved. The bill then proceeds,-" Provyded always that the kynges highnes, at eny tyme after the makyng of this acte, may at hys pleasure ordeyne and declare by hys lettres patentes under his greate seale, that suche of the seid relygyous houses which his highnes shall not be dysposed to have suppressyed nor dyssolved by auctoryte of this acte, shall stylle contynue, remayne, and be in the same bodye corporatt and in the seid essencyall estate, qualite, and condycion, aswell in possessions as otherwyse, as thei were afore the makyng of this acte, without any suppression or dyssolucion therof or of any parte of the same by auctoryte of this acte; and that every suche ordinaunce and declaracion soo to be made by the kynges highnes shalbe good and effectuall to the chiefs governours of suche relygyous houses which his majestye will not have suppressyd and to ther successours, accordyng to the tenours and purportes of the lettres patentes therof to be made ; any thyng or thynges conteyned in this acte to the contrary hereof notwythstondyng.” After some other provisoes not necessary to be repeated here, the act goes on, “Savyng alweys and reserved unto every person and persons beyng founders, patrons, or donours of eny abbeys, pryoryes, or other relygyous houses that shalbe suppressyd by thys acte, ther heires and successours, all suche right, tytle, interest, possession, rentes, annuityes, fees, offyces, leses, commons, and all other profyttes whatsooever, which any of them have or shuld have had wythout fraude or covyn, by any maner meanes, otherwyse then by reason or occasyon of the dyssolucion of the seid abbeys, pryoryes, or other relygyous houses, in, to, or upon any the seid abbeis, pryoryes, or other relygyous houses wherof thei be founders, patrons, or donours, or in, to, or upon eny the londes, tenementes, or other heredytamentes apperteynyng or belongyng to the same; in lyke maner forme and condycion as other persones and bodyes polytyke be saved by this acte as ys afore rehersed, and as if the seid abbeis, pryories, or other relygyous houses had not be suppressyd and dyssolved by this acte, but had contynued styll in ther essencyall bodyes and estates as thei be now in, eny thyng in this acte to the contrary hereof notwithstondyng. “And ferther beyt inacted, ordeyned, and establysshed by auctoryte aforeseid, that all and syngler personnes, bodyes polytyke and corporat, to whom the kynges majestye, his heires or successours, hereafter shall gyve, grante, lett, or demyse any scytt or precynct with the houses therupon buylded, together with the demeanes of any monasteries, pryoryes, or other relygyous houses that shalbe dyssolved or gevyn to the kynges highnes by this acte, and the heires, successours, executours, and assignes of every suche person, bodye polytyke and corporate, shalbe bounden by auctoryte of this acte, under the penalytyes hereafter ensueng, to kepe or cause to be kept an honest contynewell hous and houshold in the same scyte or precynct, and to occupye yerely asmoche of the same demeanes in plowyng and tyllage of husbondry, that ys to saye asmoche of the seid demeanes which hath ben commonly used to be kept in tyllage by the governours, abbottes, or pryours of the same howses, monasteryes, or pryoryes, or by ther fermer or fermers occupyeng the same, wythin the tyme of xx" yeres next before this acte: and if any person or persons, bodyes polytyke or corporat, that shalbe bounden by this acte, doo not keep an honest house, houshold, housbondry, and tyllage in maner and forme as ys aforeseid, that then he or theisoo offendyng shall forfett to the kynges highness for every moneth soo offendyng vi". xiij". iiij". to be recovered to his use in any of his courtes of record. “And over that yt ys enactyd by auctoryte aforeseid, that all justyces of peas in every shire where any suche offence shalbe commytted or dome contrary to the true meanyng and intent of this present acte, shall in every quarter and generall sessyons within the lymyttes of ther commyssyon inquyre of the premysses, and shall have full poar and auctoryte to hier and determyn the same, and to taxe and assesse noo lesse fyne for every the seid offences then ys afore lymytted for the same offences, and the extretes therof to be made and certefyed in the kynges excheker accordyng and at such tyme and forme as other extretes of fynes, yssues, and amercyamentes ben made by the
The following paper appears to have been written in the time of Queen Elizabeth, by some one who had witnessed the dissolution of the religious houses, and who here sets down his recollections of the causes and manner of that great revolution in the social condition of our island.
THE MANNER OF DISSOLVING THE ABBEYS BY K. H. 8.
[From MS. Cotton. Titus F. III. fol. 266.]
The furst entraunce was a president gewen by cardinall Wolsey, who under pretense of and four better abilitie to bilde his sumptuous colledge, dessolved certaine small housses, and by that doinge of himselfe, I doubt not with good warraunt from Rome, he did make loose in others the conscience towardes those houses, After him there came to the kinges service Mr. Cormwell, whoe had served the cardinall in these former doinges.
That Cormwell was the man that by his zeall, his wisdome, and his couradge, was Goods instrument to carrie all to good effect. These meanes he used. He firste found meanes to perswade the king that it might lawfully be done; that for his crowne and state in saftie it was necessarie to be done, four that he made appeare to the kinge howe by their meanes the pope and clergie had so greate aucthoritie, revenue, alliaunce, and principallye captivitie of the sowles and obedience of subjectes, that they were able to put kinge in hazarde at their will; that for his