The charters of Thoby Priory.
This is a critical edition of charters pertaining to Thoby Priory, Essex which flourished
cl 140 to 1525. The introductory chapters discuss the history of Thoby from its origins
as a hermitage in the woods of Mountnessing and its formallsation as an Augustinian
house, through to its early suppression for the endowment of Cardinal Wolsey's college
The work examines the social backgrounds of Thoby's founders and main benefactors,
and looks at their motives for donations. It discusses the pattern of Thobys property
acquisition and the degree to which it was proactive or passive, outlining the canons'
four centuries of estate management.
Thoby was one of a dozen Augustinian houses In Essex, and one of the smallest; there
were also eleven religious houses of various orders within a fifteen-mile radius of
Thoby, which meant that competition for endowment was always strong. This may be
the reason for Thoby's comparative lack of spiritualities; unlike many Augustinian
houses Thoby only possessed one parish church, St Giles, Mountnessing. The thesis
looks at the canons' relationship with the vicars of the church, which was not always a
smooth one when it came to their respective claims over tithes. It also looks at
Thoby's relationship with the neighbouring religious houses.
The introduction to the edition also includes a discussion of the convent Itself. There is
a list of priors and canons; a brief outline of their routine, and a conjectural description
of the conventual buildings (of which just one arch remains today).
Finally, as this is not an edition of a cartulary, it has been possible to describe and
discuss the valuable collection of seals appended to some of these 225 original
documents. There are examples from bishops, deans and several monastic houses,
for instance, and personal seals which include equestrian and heraldic examples, as
well as more workaday seals from the lesser gentry.