WALTER ROBJOY.

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Brother Walter - Prior of the Benedictine priory of Pill near Milford.

Little is known of this priory till the 14c. It was founded by Adam de Rupe or de Roche and had the old parish church of Hubberston as part of its endowment.

In the 15c tongues began to wag at the scandalous doings of the Prior, and the matter came to the ears of the Bishop of St Davids. He conducted a visitation in 1405, as a result of which the Prior was sternly admonished to mend his ways. So hardened was the Prior that he appears to have taken not the slightest notice of his superior, who, a year and a half later was forced to write to him:-

"We say it with grief that thou, Brother Walter, prior aforesaid has not troubled to observe in your persons such injunctions.... but has lightly presumed daily and dost still

presume to infringe and violate them... to the scandle of thy order".

Then followed a long catalogue of the Prior’s Misdeeds.....

The Bishop pointed out that although it is written "maintain parents" it does not mean that the Prior should take them to live with him in the priory, and spend the income of the priory on them. Still less should he entertain quarrelsome friends there and "wickedly consume the goods of the said priory with Joan Moris, wife of John Hicke, they paramour, whom thou has held in adulterous embraces for some years" So lavishly had the Prior converted the priory's income to his own use that it had become heavily in debt, and he "sorely oppressed" any of the monks who criticised him and allowed those who meekly acquiesced to go in or out just as they pleased without question.

1405, 3 June.

Guy, etc., to the prior and convent of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Pylle in Ros, of the order of St. Benedict of Tiron, of our diocese, greeting etc.

Whereas by grace of observing the rule of our profession we are stirred up by salutary precepts and monitions that watchful for the flock entrusted to us we may with exact diligence purge out novelties and errors which have grown up in the past times especially amongst religious men, we on 23 April, 1405, and following days, made a visitation in very deed of your priory aforesaid by certain commissaries. In order therefore that the defects and excesses found in your priory aforesaid in such our visitation canonically carried out by such our Commissaries may by the help of the Divine mercy be brought into a better state, Master Robert Rawlyn, canon of our church of St. Davids, our vicar general in spiritualities (we being then for necessary causes engaged in distant parts) by our authority, canonically drew up for you the injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates written below and charged and commanded under the pains and censures contained in the same that these be we on 23 April, 1405, and following days, made a visitation in very deed of your priory aforesaid by certain commissaries. In order therefore that the defects and excesses found in your priory aforesaid in such our visitation canonically carried out by such our commissaries may by the help of the Divine mercy be brought into a better state, Master Robert Rawlyn, canon of our church of St. Davids, our vicar general in spiritualities (we being then for necessary causes engaged in distant parts) by our authority canonically drew up for you the injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates written below and charged and commanded under the pains and censures contained in the same that these be observed by you and every one of you for your good, nevertheless it has several times come to our ears by the testimony of faithful men, by public report and by notoriety of fact (we say it with grief) that thou brother Walter, prior aforesaid, hast not troubled to observe in your person such injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates, admitted in the first instance by receipt and both tacitly and expressly, but hast lightly presumed daily and dost still presume to infringe and violate them in many ways to the great peril of thy soul, a pernicious example to very many, the scandal of thy order, the diminution of public worship, and the grievous damage of the beforesaid priory, prodigally consuming the goods and jewels of the same. Wherefore we have charged and enjoined on thee, over and above the former command, in virtue of holy obedience and under the pains and censures contained in the same injunctions, etc., that thou observe all and singular the things included in the same concerning and relating to your person, and especially that thou abstain altogether from all and all manner of alienation of the temporal goods of the said priory, that thou presume not to violate our said sequestration duly and lawfully imposed by the aforesaid Master Robert Raulyn, vicar etc., on the goods of the said priory because thou didst before that notoriously dissipate and waste these and there is every reason to fear that thou wilt so waste these in future and to be observed by thee, as is aforesaid, under the penalties in the constitution of the Holy Fathers in thast behalf duly published [and] that thou cause the relics, jewels, ship and other goods of the said priory which have been unduly alienated by thee, beyond and contrary to such injunctions, etc., to be at once restored to the priory. And in as much as we have found the aforesaid William Scheperd, fellow-monk and cellarer of the said priory, Walter Jordan, Sirs Thomas Heth and William Lyghtfot, rectors of Talbenny and Jonyston, powerless to keep our said sequestration, without other help, on account of the might, rebellion and disobedience of the said prior, by the tenour of these presents we add to them the noble man Sir John Wogan, knight, and Sir William Meylor, vicar of Steynton, committing unto the same, in the lord, the keeping of the said sequestration. Wherefore to you Sir John, brother William, Walter and Sirs Thomas, William and William, firmly enjoining we commit and command that you solemnly publish at places and times most suitable for this that our said sequestration has been and is imposed so as is aforesaid, [and], that  keep such goods, fruits, rents, tithes and ablations and profits, sequestrated so as is aforesaid, under strait and safe sequestration, until you have other Command from us  upon this, as you will answer of and for the same at your peril when this shall be required of you on our behalf, provided nevertheless that in the meantime the said priory be laudably served in divine offices and that the charges incumbent thereon be duly supported by the said brother William the cellarer, as is contained in the same injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates, of the said Master Robert, our vicar general in spiritualities; inhibiting openly, publicly, and expressly, every one from lightly presuming to violate in any manner whatever such our sequestration, under the penalties in this behalf duly published in the constitutions of the Holy Fathers. The tenours truly of the same injunctions, etc., follow under this form:-

Robert Raulyn, bachelor in decrees, etc., to the religious men brothers Walter Robjoy, of the priory of the Blessed Mary etc., (as above) directly subject to the jurisdiction of the ordinary, John Hygyn, William Schepherd and Henry Wratkyn, fellow-monks of the same priory, and forming the convent in the same, sends greeting in the Lord and that ye firmly obey these presents.

Whereas in a visitation, ordinary and fatherly, in your said priory now lately exercised judicially and in very deed by certain commisionaries with sufficient authority of the said reverend father! been previous complaints, we have found some defects, negligences, omissions, relaxations and excesses needing necessary reform and correction, by which if they be not met by a speedy remedy the said priory will incur perpetual ruin and hurt in  ritual and temporal things (which be far from it) and loss  for which cause we wishing to meet such perils and losses  by authority of the said father whose powers we bear, send you our injunctions upon the premises written below, firmly enjoying on  you and every one of you in virtue of the holy obedience  in which you are bound to the said father and under penalty of the greater excommunication which (the canonical monition having been already given) we pass in these writings and publish, from now as from then and from then as from now, upon your persons if (which be far from you) you will not or trouble not to obey  our monitions and injunctions written below, and upon the person  of that one of you who among you will not or does not trouble to but neglects to obey, firmly enjoining that you receive humbly our injunctions written below so far as they concern you jointly or each one of you, and render obedience to and obey the same with effect.

First of all, because by the findings of the same visitation, we have found that thou brother Walter, prior beforesaid, throughout the time and from the time of thy rule and appointment there, hast administered alone, laid out at the peculiar pleasure and decree of thy will, and expended as though they were thine own, all and singular the goods of the said priory spiritual and temporal which ought to be in common among you, and throughout the time aforesaid and so for eight years and more thou hast rendered no account or reckoning of such thy stewardship and administration, above and contrary to the rules of religion and the canonical sanctions, and the said priory (we record it with sorrow) because of thy prodigality and other things which for the present we do not mention, is burdened with a huge debt, but what and how large this is, is entirely unknown on account of such omission of any reckoning of account and the default among you, the metropolitans. Wherefore we wishing, as we are bound, to apply a seasonable remedy for such you perils  enjoined on you, among other things, strictly charging you [in the name] of the said father, that in all time to come in your same priory one of you whom the prior and the greater and saner party of the monks shall see fit to elect among them shall be appointed yearly to be cellarer, who for his time shall receive all goods of the said priory pertaining to the office of the cellarer, within and without and expend and lay out these towards the sustenance of the prior and his monks, according to the estate and requirement of each one, and the common benefit of the house, and hospitality according to such discretion as is given to him; and the same cellarer, twice every year, namely, within eight days after the feasts of St. Michael and the Apostles Philip and James, or oftener if expedient, shall be bound, whatever be his estate or degree even though he be the prior, to render a faithful account and reckoning before the prior and his confreres, of his receipts, expenses and payments, under penalty of perpetual disability from advancement to any degree or estate, or dignity, in the same priory, removal and deprivation from any degree or dignity already held, unless there be reasonable cause. And because in the appointment of such cellarer in times past, we have found that you the prior and monks have been negligent and remiss, and have tolerated the grave damage and injury to the priory by such sole administration without rendering of account, we, as we are bound in this behalf, supplying your defect, ordain and depute brother William Scheperd, your fellow-monk and confrere, especially discreet and prudent at the same time as we have learned by the report of very many, to be cellarer of your same priory and by these presents have appointed him cellarer, committing to him the administration of all goods of the said priory pertaining to the office of cellarer, within and without, by view nevertheless of the discreet men Walter Jordan and Sir Thomas Heth, William Lyghtfot rectors of Talbenny and Jonyston, in whose hands we have sequestrated and thought well to sequestrate by these presents all goods of the said priory for fear of dilapidation which we have good reason to fear from the doings of the past, and we strictly charge him to give account of his receipts and administration in manner and form aforesaid and under the penalties abovesaid.

And since we have found in the same visitation that your said priory, although greatly oppressed with debt, is overcharged with superfluous and useless men, we enjoin on you, charging you under the penalties abovesaid, to expel altogether from the same priory within fifteen days immediately following the receipt of these presents Richard Wade, John Wade, his son, and Thomas Newport, because they are talebearers and sowers of discord among you, the prior and monks, and who are entirely useless to the said priory and wasters of it, and also because the said Thomas Newport lightly laid violent hands on the beforenamed Henry Watkyln  monk of the said priory, and Sir Robert Martyn, rector of the church of Pontfayn, and your said prior's father and mother with their household, who are too burdensome and useless to the priory (although it is written “maintain parents” nevertheless it is forbidden to rob Peter and give to Paul, and a man shall “leave father and mother and cleave unto the profit of his spouse”), with care, reverence and honour, not tolerating longer the ministering unto them or any other useless persons of the goods of the priory aforesaid, unless some charitable relief and this with the express consent of the convent, without the priory however, and [not] immoderately be bestowed on the priors parents by the hands of the almoner, in no wise to recede in time to come such an useless household for a longstay, under the penalties abovesaid. Furthermore, charging thee under the penalties above said, we enjoin that thou brother Walter, prior beforesaids Within three months immediately following the date of these presents render a faithful account and reckoning to thy aforesaid confreres of the goods of the priory aforesaid, throughout the time and from the time of thy rule in the same, and of thy receipts and administration leaving the rolls of the accounts of thee and of the cellarers for the time being in the archives of the house for an example to posterity. Furthermore we enjoin under the penalties abovesaid, Strictly charging, that the cellarer so by us or by you elected be not removed from office, without the common consent of the convent and the greater part, at the suggestion or dissatisfaction of one of you, and that the said cellarer or prior shall not [jointly] or [singly] make any form or alienation of goods of the said priory to any person whatsoever, except by Common consent, as is aforesaid, after diligent discussion is had upon this in the chapter, and he of you who shall do the contrary in the premises let him be judged as an appropriator and heavily punished according to the regular observances, because that which will touch all should be approved by all.

And because we have found in the same visitation that you monks using fictitious privileges obtained defacto without the licence of your prior, in contempt of your prior and him who has the cure of your souls, confess your sins to others in cases not permitted of right, this thing we forbid to be done henceforth, reserving your confession by these presents to your prior or in his absence to one specially deputed in his place. And thou prior presume, after a lapse, to confess your sins whatsoever they be to one brother William Stodon, who is too simple and in the intervals of sickness has not discretion and does not know how to use the proper medicine for sins committed, and has no power in the premises because he has not been presented to or received by the ordinary, deceiving your own soul, because when the blind leads the blind both fall headlong into the ditch, this thing we forbid henceforth to him and thee, except in the moment of death, reserving by these presents thy confession in more trivial matters to one of the saner of thy brethren, but graver cases to our lord the bishop or his penanced unless thou shalt merit to obtain the more abundant grace of having a confessor selected for thee by our lord the bishop or by us. and since as in the same visitation we have found that you monks casting off the bridle of obedience do not fear to go out of the bounds of the priory without asking and obtaining the licence of your prior or his special deputy, and alone wandering amongst secular persons. Contrary to the regular observances, this thing in virtue of holy obedience we forbid henceforth to be one, adding by way of injunction that an accused person convicted in the premises shall be punished for a first offence heavily, for a second more heavily, and for a third shall be delivered to dreadful prisons, from this injunction however we have excepted the cellarer of the house, who as his office requires must be occupied daily within and without about the business of the house. We will, however, that your prior have his chamber by the house, his faculty, disposition and honour, as is meet.

Also we have found in the same visitation that thou, prior, on thy part, and you, monks, on yours, making division and party, cleaving unto seculars and secular power, prodigally consume the common goods of your priory, this thing we forbid to be done henceforth under the penalties abovesaid, having before our eyes the psalm “Behold how good and joyful a thing it is brethren to dwell together in unity”! and that only in time of peace is the Author of Peace worshipped well. We will therefore and Command with injunctions, that our present injunctions be laid up in the archives of the house. We will however that a copy be supplied to each one of you that he may not be able to pretend ignorance And of what you do in the premises and in what manner in obeying what we have decreed to be done in this behalf, see that you certify the said reverend father or us, in his absence, distinctly and openly, by the feast of St. Barnabas the Apostle by your letters patent containing the series of theses sealed with your common seal.

Dated in the castle of Lawaden, 3 June, 1405

1406, 21 November.

Robert Raulyn, bachelor in decrees, canon of St. Davids, vicar general in spiritualities of the reverend, etc., Guy, etc., now engaged in distant parts, to the religious man brother Walter Robjoy, prior, etc., sendeth greeting in the Son of the Glorious Virgin and that you firmly obey these presents.

Whereas in a visitation . . . and fatherly in the said priory now late in time judicially and in very deed carried out by certain commissaries, with sufficient authority of the said reverend father, there having been previous complaints made, we have found clearly by legal documents plain evidence, strong presumptions, and notoriety of fact, which cannot be hid by any prevarication, that thou brother Walter, prior beforesaid, hast wickedly consumed the goods of the said priory with Joan Moris, wife of John Hicke, thy paramour, whom thou hast held in adulterous embraces for some years, to the great peril of thy soul, a pernicious example to many, the scandal of thy order, and the grave damage of thy said priory, and prodigally wasted these by gifts to thy pimps and fautors favouring thee and the said paramour in such crime of adultery and to several secular jurors in order that they should feloniously indict brother John Baker thy fellow-monk, in his lifetime, and maliciously oppress other of thy fellow-monks according to the ordering of thy will, to the grave damage of them and thy priory and the scandal of the order, so that thy said priory in consequence of the premises and other excesses, not at present set out here on account of a feeling of reverence interceding for thee in this behalf, is burdened with an enormous debt. In order therefore that by the help of the Divine mercy such defects may be reformed, we, by authority of the said father whose powers we bear, send specially to thee by these presents the injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates written within, in addition to other injunctions specially sent to thee and thy fellow monks jointly under this same date. Seeing that we are to abstain not only from evil but from all appearance of evil we enjoin on thee on pain of deprivation and removal from the office of thy priory beforesaid not to go in person to Joan herself or her house, openly or in secret, nor to have speech with her in anything likely to cause suspicion; and we inhibit thee under the penalties abovesaid from entering into any contract of purchase, sale, accommodation, or loan, in respect of goods of thy priory or doing anything in the way of charging thy priory, without the express consent of all thy fellow-monks or the greater part of the same we admonish thee also, once, twice, thrice, and peremptorily, that thou obey our said injunctions, monitions, precepts and mandates, and humbly observe these, on pain of the greater excommunication which, in view of the delay, the fault and the offense, which have gone before, we pass in these writings and publish, from now as from then and from then as from now, against thy person if thou obey not the same zenith effect.

In witness whereof etc.

Dated in our inn at London, 21 November, 1406, and the tenth year of our consecration.


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