RELIGION Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval Nottingham chantries employment priests presentment parish church services endowments rent merchants
Subject: Foundation of the Amyas chantry
Original source: Nottinghamshire Archives
Transcription in: W.H. Stevenson, ed. Records of the Borough of Nottingham, (London and Nottingham, 1882), vol.1, 130-34.
Original language: Latin
Location: Nottingham
Date: 1339


Know all people, present and future, that I, William de Amyas of Nottingham, have given, granted, and by this present deed confirm to Gervase de Barton, chaplain, who celebrates divine service every day in St. Mary's Church in Nottingham, for [the good of] my soul and the souls of my wife Margery and my son John, and the souls of our parents, our children, all our ancestors, and of all the faithful who are deceased, 68s. in annual rents; to be had, held, and received by Gervase and his successor chaplains who shall celebrate divine service every day, in perpetuity, in that church for the souls already mentioned. Viz.:

  • thirty shillings of silver from the tenement that William de Holm holds in Lorimer Street, Nottingham, located on the north side of the tenement once of Adam Botild, the which tenement once belonged to William Godynough;
  • eight shillings of silver, 4 hens and a cock from the tenement once of John le Spicer, located in the same street on the north side of the aforementioned tenement once of William Godynough;
  • twenty shillings from all tenements lying next to each other in the Weekday Market in the town, between the tenement once of Laurence le Bere to the east and the Hall of Pleas of the town of Nottingham to the west;
  • ten shillings from a tenement located in the same Weekday Market, between the tenement of William Brian to the north and the tenement once of John Flemyng to the south, as well as from a booth called "the Lyerbothe" in the same marketplace.
That is, thirty-four shillings [due] on May 3, thirty-four shillings on November 11, and the four hens and a cock at Christmas. I have also granted to the same Gervase and to William de Holbeck, chaplains, and their successors as chaplains, an annual rent of four shillings and sixpence due from the tenement of Geoffrey Stoyle, which lies in Butcher Street in the town, next to the tenement once of Ralph Stoyle to the south; that is, two shilling and threepence on May 3 and two shillings and threepence on November 11. To be had and held by Gervase and William de Holbeck, chaplains, and their successors as chaplains, so that Gervase and William de Holbeck, and their successor chaplains, provide each year in perpetuity on the anniversary of my death a potation for all chaplains, clerics and anyone else attending my obit. Should these rents be wholly or partly in arrears to Gervase or any of his successors, at any future time whatsoever, then Gervase or his successors are permitted to distrain in all the tenements mentioned until they are satisfied for what is due. On condition that if Gervase or any of his successors, after the time when the chantry has been established, discontinue the celebration for a period of eight days without reasonable cause and without appointing in his place another suitable chaplain to celebrate, the one who defaults may not from then onwards ever again demand or receive anything of the aforementioned rents, but is to be completely removed from the chantry and another chaplain substituted in his place.

It is my wish to present to the chantry, after the death of Gervase, during the remainder of my life, as often as the chantry shall happen to be vacant. I further wish that, after my death, my heirs and executors shall when any vacancy occurs present a suitable chaplain to the chantry, within twenty days of the vacancy occurring. If my heirs and executors have not made a presentment within twenty days of the chantry happening to become vacant, or do not wish to make the presentment, in the manner already stated, then in that case it is my wish that the vicar of St. Mary's Church, Nottingham, the mayor of the town, and three reputable men of the parish of that church select and present a suitable chaplain to the chantry, to celebrate and to receive the rents in the manner stated. On the understanding that the vicar, or his successors, have no claim to any right other than (with his associates) the presentment in that case, or through the default of my heirs or executors. If the vicar, mayor, and their associates have not presented a suitable chaplain within twenty days after the chantry happens to become vacant, then it is my wish that the Prior of Newstead present a suitable chaplain to the chantry within forty days thereafter.

I have also granted to Gervase and to William de Holbeck, chaplains, and their successor chaplains celebrating divine service every day in perpetuity for the aforementioned souls, a tenement in the street called Stonestrete in the same town, lying between the tenement of Walter le Palmere on the south side and the tenement of William de Wodeburgh on the north side, and extending in length from the said street as far as the tenement of Thomas Lambock; to be had and held by Gervase and William de Holbeck and their successors, chaplains, for their common residence forever, of the chief lords of that property by the services customarily due therefrom. On condition that Gervase and William de Holbeck and their successors, chaplains, shall provide in perpetuity and at their own cost two wax candles weighing six pounds, to burn each Sunday and festival in the church atop my tomb while mass is being celebrated at the high altar.

In testimony of which I have appended my seal to this indented charter, made in four separate parts. Of which: one part remains in possession of myself, my heirs and executors; a second part in possession of the chaplain and his successors; the third part in possession of the vicar, mayor and their associates; and the fourth remains in possession of the Prior. These being witnesses: Henry de Cestrefeld, then mayor of Nottingham, John de Baston and Richard de Halum, then bailiffs of that town, William de Gotham of Nottingham, Robert de Crophull of the same, John le Colier of the same, Roger de Botehale of the same, Ralph de Wollaton of the same, Hugh le Spicer of the same, William de Crophull of the same, William de Roderham of the same, Ralph le Taverner of the same, John de Tumby of the same, and others. Given at Nottingham on 27 April 1339.


William de Amyas was a leading figure in the political and commercial life of Nottingham during the first half of the fourteenth century. He held the mayoralty four times between 1316 and 1334. He appears to have been a first-generation immigrant to the town and may perhaps have been connected to the mercantile family of the same surname resident in York. After his arrival, he married Margery Palmer, the daughter of a prominent citizen (who also served as mayor). That he had the second highest assessment of any Nottingham townsman in the national tax of 1327 shows how he had prospered in his new home. He traded in grain and probably other victuals in the earlier part of his career, and owned both boats suitable for inland transportation of his merchandize as well as one or more vessels described as "ships" presumably suitable for international commerce. Some of his business came from supplying royal armies or garrisons operating in the north against the Scots, while other stemmed from circumstances of bad regional harvests and famine which hurt the Midlands counties in 1315-16. Later in his career there is greater evidence of his involvement in the wool trade. Part of his wealth was put towards investments in property, mainly within the town; he also acquired some properties in the surrounding countryside, mainly in repayment from a family in difficulties to which he had loaned money.

It has been suggested that he may well have indulged in hoarding grain to push prices higher in times of famine, and he was involved in violent incidents in York (1319) and in 1348 when he and others attached a purveyor of oats for the Queen's horses. His son had been murdered in 1343, while he himself had been the target of a protection racket in 1333. Any proceedings against him for the 1348 incident were forestalled when the Black Death carried him off.

A number of wealthy burgesses "invested" in chantries for the benefit of their souls, and the souls of their loved ones. It should not be assumed that this trend was any more pronounced among those with a particular weight of sins on their conscience, although such might have been part of the motivation in Amyas' case. It was an expression of the religosity of the times. An early indication of Amyas' thoughts in this direction were his acquisition from the king, in 1324, for a licence to alienate property in mortmain, and a further such licence followed two years after the chantry foundation. Much of the property assigned to pay for maintenance of the chantry lay in St. Mary's parish.

For further information, see: Arrangements to rebuild Trent Bridge, and Alan Cameron, "William de Amyas and the community of Nottingham, 1308-50," Transactions of the Thoroton Society, vol.75 (1971), 68-78.



Hospitality in the form of drink, but perhaps with an element of ceremony.

A religious service to benefit the soul of an individual on the anniversary of his or her death.

"present to the chantry"
Presenting to the chantry refers to the right of appointing a chantry chaplain.

More commonly known as High Pavement.

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Created: March 14, 2003. Last update: July 20, 2004 © Stephen Alsford, 2003-2004