RETIREMENT Florilegium Urbanum

Keywords: medieval King's Lynn Carmelites friaries pensions accommodations food regulations careers
Subject: Grant of a corrody by the Carmelite friars to a Lynn couple
Original source: Cartulary of the Carmelite friary at Lynn, f.32b
Transcription in: A.G. Little, "Corrodies at the Carmelite Friary of Lynn," Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol.9, no.1 (April 1958), 18-20.
Original language: Latin
Location: South Lynn
Date: 1377


This agreement was made at South Lynn on 29 September, 1377, between the prior and convent of the friars of the order of the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, of Mount Carmel of South Lynn, on the one hand, and Hugh de Ellingham of Lynn and his wife Cecilia, on the other. By unanimous agreement of the chapter, the prior and convent, on behalf of themselves and their successors, grant to Hugh and Cecilia for their entire lifetime a hall with a double chamber – that is, one [chamber] below and one above – and with two fireplaces and two latrines, at the end of their [i.e. the friars'] main hall next to the friars' refectory. Also, at the other end of the hall, a lower chamber for storage and another lower chamber for their food and other supplies [i.e. pantry]; with a chamber above those two lower chambers, containing a small kitchen with fireplace. [This dwelling] to be constructed, entirely at the expense of the prior and convent, at the east end of the second cloister of the friars, extending in length from the friars' communal refectory to their new infirmary; with free access in and out through a gate [leading] towards the Southsoken directly opposite the chamber of Hugh and Cecilia, together with free passage on any day at appropriate hours through the middle of the cloister in order to get into the church to attend mass or other divine services. The prior and convent also grant to Hugh and Cecilia a large space for their garden, extending the length of the dwelling of Hugh and Cecilia as well as the width of the infirmary, as far as the great wall enclosing the garden on the Southsoken side. Also, access for Hugh and Cecilia's servants to fetch from the friars' fresh-water supply whenever and as often as they have need.

The prior and convent also grant to Hugh and Cecilia for life (and to whichever of them survives the other), so long as they dwell within the friary and not outside it, each week 18 conventual loaves of white bread and 6 loaves of bran bread weighing 50 shillings, and 16 gallons of the convent's best ale, to be taken from the friary bakery and brewery by their servants before anyone else may receive bread and ale therefrom. On their part, Hugh and Cecilia agree and promise faithfully that they will not (nor will anyone else on their behalf) in any way sell all or any of the bread and ale granted to them; nor will they invite in any guests other than good and honest folk for whom the prior and convent would wish to be answerable before the law. They likewise promise that they will conceal the secrets of the friary, and not divulge any so that the friary's interests are in any way threatened. [Interpolated: Hugh also promises and has given his word that after the death of Cecilia, if he happens to outlive her, he shall not take another wife.]

By this document the prior and convent obligate their house and all their goods to the faithful fulfillment of each and every of these arrangements. In witness to which indenture the seal of the community of the friars together with the seal of Hugh and Cecilia are appended. Dated [as above]. The names of the friars agreeing to [the appending of] to convent's seal to the this indenture are: the prior brother John Honygge, the reverend master brother Peter Wysbech, the baccalaureate brother William Cokesford, and brothers Edmund Barsham, William Spaldyng, Nicholas de Lenne, Thomas Lomb, Robert Swerdestone, John de Lenne, John Fransham, Robert Bilney, William Walton, Robert Walsoken, John Cole, Richard Brethenham, Stephen Worsted, John Tilney, Richard Norehale, Richard Wysbech, John Schipedham, Thomas Castre, Thomas de Lenne, William Babyngle, John Hyndringham, Peter Benet, Thomas Wyssingsete, Thomas Peveryl, John Brunham, Roger Barsham, Robert de Norwyc, Walter de Lenne, William Gedneye, John Wysbech, Richard Enmeth, William Harsyke, Richard Rowham, John Oxenforde, William Elm, William Bardefeld, John de Cantebrigge.


On the same day that the above contract was agreed to, a second but more modest corrody was granted to another townsman, Thomas Paynot and his wife Joan. They were allocated a plot of land within the friary precinct on which to build a house at their own expense. They were assigned a smaller allowance of bread (14 loaves of white) and ale (10 gallons), but were also to have two dishes of the friars' potage each day, free access to the conventual kitchen to cook their food (presumably they had no servants), and 3,000 peats a year for heating. In addition, the friars were to arrange for a chaplain to celebrate a daily mass for Thomas, Joan and their benefactors. For that last item alone, Thomas was to pay £100 in five annual instalments; the cost of the entire corrody must have been significantly greater. At the bottom end of the scale a corrody granted, in 1367, to John Winston baker, described as a servant of John de Penteney (one of Lynn's jurats) involved assignment of a bedchamber and the same meals as the friars; his payment was: £3.6s.8d; his labour in the friary bakery and brewery (in return for perks, but no wages) until prevented by extreme old age; and a testamentary bequest of all his possessions to the friary.

No terms of payment are recorded for the Ellingham corrody, but we can imagine that it must have been quite considerable, probably involving a lump sum payment or transfer of real estate, as well perhaps as assurance of a sizable bequest. He and his wife had doubtless planned out their retirement carefully. Hugh began life as Hugh de Dudlyngton, entering the franchise under that name in 1360, after having completed an apprenticeship with mercer William de Ellingham. He adopted his master's surname at some point after the mid-1360s, perhaps because of some relationship or perhaps upon becoming one of his master's heirs (William last appearing in the records in 1359): in the early 1380s Hugh is found in possession of a tenement, near St. James' church, formerly owned by William. He followed William into borough government, first as chamberlain in 1364 and later, mostly during the 1370s, as a jurat and constable. He made his living as a mercer and vintner; in 1364, for example, he took cash and cloth across to Gascony to trade for wine. The agreement in 1377 – at which point Hugh would probably only have been in his late 30s, or at most his early 40s – was not put into effect immediately, for time was needed for the house to be built and for Hugh to wrap up his affairs. This apparently took about one and a half years: he was not re-elected jurat after 1378 and in February 1379 a replacement was elected to his constabulary (on the same day Thomas Paynot was likewise replaced in the office of constable he had held), while in the lay subsidy later that year he was listed under the heading for South Lynn. He lived for several more years, but died before 1388/89, when the borough was in possession of a ferry-right he had given (bequeathed?) it. Unfortunately, his will – which might have thrown more light on the terms of his contract with the Carmelites – has not survived. However, there is no evidence he left any direct heirs (a John de Ellingham active in Lynn in the early 15th century was not necessarily related), so it may have been that the attractive terms offered by the Carmelites was on the understanding that they would inherit at least some of his property.



The "Suthsokene" was simply another name for South Lynn, perhaps restricted to that part in which early settlement had congregated.

"conventual loaves"
A conventual loaf was one of a particular size, intended as the daily allowance of a friar (or monk).

The reference to "shillings" in regard to the bread refers to a unit of weight rather than value, one shilling corresponding to 12 pennyweight; with 20 pennyweight to an ounce, 50 shillings would correspond to 30 ounces.

"the friars"
Many of the names of the friars witnessing the Ellingham corrody, as of those elsewhere recorded in the cartulary, are the names of prominent families of Lynn; although this could be coincidence, based on the general immigration catchment area of Lynn, it would not be unreasonable to theorize that friaries drew many of their recruits from the local community.

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Created: August 18, 2001. Last update: November 23, 2002 © Stephen Alsford, 2001-2003