33. THE WHITE FRIARS OF MALDON
Richard Hely, prior of Maldon, in an account (fn. 1)
of the Carmelite houses of England places
Maldon twenty-sixth in order out of a total of
forty, and states that it was founded in 1292 by
Richard Gravesende, bishop of London, and
Richard Iselham, rector of South Hanningfield.
These had licence (fn. 2) on 20 June, 1293, to grant
to the friars a plot of land in Maldon containing
The friary was situated in the parish of All
Saints; and this appears to have excited the
jealousy of the abbot and convent of Beeleigh,
who were rectors of the church, and the vicar.
The bishop, however, managed to bring about
an agreement between the parties, and issued an
ordinance (fn. 3) on the morrow of the Invention of
the Cross, 1300. The friars were to have an
oratory with a belfry where mass might be
celebrated according to their order, saving the
rights of the mother church in tithes and offerings. They should not bury anyone in their
cemetery unless he should have chosen burial
with them without their procuration, and then
only when the dues had been paid to the mother
church in masses and other things. They should
not admit any parishioner of the church to confession without licence from the curate, nor
confer the sacraments nor act as executors of
wills. The prior and friars were to pay 5s.
of silver yearly to the abbot and convent for their
place, and if it should be enlarged in the future
the rent should be increased. And if any rights
of the church should be subtracted the bishop or
the conservator of the privileges of the Premonstratensians might interdict the place and suspend
Edward II granted licence (fn. 4) on 4 December,
1314, for Thomas le Palmer of Maldon to
grant to the friars a plot of land containing
60 ft. in length by 17 ft. in breadth adjoining
their area, for its enlargement; the 'fine' to the
crown for this licence being 100 masses. Pope
Boniface IX on 22 July, 1391, granted (fn. 5) relaxation of penance to all persons who on the
four feasts of the Virgin should visit and give
alms for the conservation of the chapel of St.
Mary in the friary church.
On 23 November, 1381, commissioners were
ordered (fn. 6) by the king to arrest Edmund Barnton,
an apostate friar of the house, and deliver him to
Thomas, the prior, for punishment.
The Carmelites were the most learned of the
religious orders, and Maldon could boast of
several scholars. Thomas Maldon, (fn. 7) a native of
the town, was professed here and was afterwards
sent to Cambridge, where he became an acute
thinker and disputant. One work by him is
preserved, and the names of eleven others are
recorded. He was afterwards made prior of
Maldon, and died and was buried here in 1404.
His epitaph is given by Weever, (fn. 8) who also records the burials of Richard Acton, prior, professor of theology, in 1446, William Horkesle
in 1473, Robert of Colchester and Thomas
Maldon was one of the very poorest of the religious houses of England, its income being only
£1 6s. 8d. yearly at the time of the Valor. It
was received to the king's use in 1538 by Richard,
bishop of Dover; (fn. 9) and on 17 June, 1543, was
leased to William Harrys of Mundon. (fn. 10) On
8 October, 1544, it was sold to George Duke
and John Sterre; (fn. 11) and in the patent there is
mention of the church, belfry, cemetery, 'le
litle courtyard,' 'le priours garden,' etc.
In the borough records, in a case of right of
way 'over the gate, bridge and waye leading from
Friary into Friars fields belonging to the earl of
Oxford leading from Maldon to towns, hamlets
and parishes of Dengie and Rochford hundreds,'
the friary is spoken of in 1570 as 'the place
or Mansion Howse of the said Vincent Harris
in Maldon commonly called the Fryers, the
which was the Howse or Cloyster of the White
Friers in Maldon before the tyme of the dissolution of monasteries, cloysters and religious
houses,' and mention is made of Prior Bale the
predecessor of the last prior and Prior Brooke his
predecessor as well as of 'several other priors
whose names this examinate sayeth hee nowe
well remembreth not.'
Priors of Maldon (fn. 12)
Thomas, occurs 1381.
Thomas Maldon, died 1404.
Richard Longe, occurs 1426. (fn. 13)
Richard Acton, died 1446.
— Bale. (fn. 14)