22. THE DOMINICANS AT ILCHESTER
Nothing is known of this house of Black Friars
at Ilchester beyond the fact of its existence. Of
this there is ample evidence from the 13th
In 1263 (fn. 1) an arrangement was entered into
between Thomas Trevet of Ilchester and Walter
and Matilda Lune so that through the acknowledgement of Walter and Matilda Lune, Thomas
Trivet might grant a messuage in the suburb of
Ilchester to Brother Robert de Kilwardby prior
provincial of the Order of Preachers in England
and the friars preachers of the convent of
The convent soon outgrew this house, for in
1271 (fn. 2) we find the friars purchasing from William
de Aubeny and Clemencia his wife another
messuage in Ilchester. In 1283 (fn. 3) licence was
granted for the friars preachers of Ilchester to
appropriate and inclose 2½ acres of land given
to them by John Whytbred adjoining a lane
which ran between his land and their wall.
Bishop Ralph of Shrewsbury made great use
of the Dominicans in the diocese as penitentiaries
and on 14 October 1333 (fn. 4) admitted John of
Ilchester, reader of the house of preaching
friars at Ilchester, presented to him by Symon
the prior of that house, as a penitentiary under
the constitution super cathedram. The register
mentions in 1337 (fn. 5) an Adam Demercy of the
order of Friars Minor of Ilchester, but this must
be a mistake for the friars preachers.
On 28 January 1350 (fn. 6) licence was granted to
Henry Power and Richard Sherewynd vicar of
East Chinnock to give to the prior and friars
preachers of Ilchester an acre and a half of land
for the enlargement of their dwelling place.
During the 15th century they shared with
the Franciscans the gratitude of the laity of
Somerset. They were in constant receipt of
legacies which proved how they were valued.
In 1411 (fn. 7) Sir John Wadham left them 20s. and
to the prisoners of Ilchester 40d. So in 1441 (fn. 8)
did William Wenard with a request that they
would pray for him. William Balsham the
elder of Ilchester in 1444 (fn. 9) desired to be buried
in their chapel and left legacies, for every friar
priest 1s. and for every friar not a priest 6d.,
and in 1457 (fn. 10) his widow Alice made a similar
bequest and left them a pall of cloth of
gold. The reference to the preaching friars in
close connexion with the prisoners at Ilchester
which occurs in several wills seems to show the
reason why the Dominicans settled thus close
to the county gaol, and the sphere of their daily
The priory is not mentioned in the Valor of
1535, but Robert Sandwich is said to have been
in 1536 (fn. 11) the prior of the community.
Feet of F. (Somers. Rec. Soc. vi), 204.
Cal. Pat. 1281–92, pp. 91, 111.
R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc. ix) 155.
R. of Shrewsbury's Reg. (Somers. Rec. Soc. ix) 322.
Cal. Pat. 1348–50, p. 468.
||Weaver, Somerset Wills, 54.
The Reliquary, xxv, 77.