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Durham Priory Almonry Accounts

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Jurisdiction 1: MonasticDocument category 1: Obedientiaries' accounts
From region: County DurhamFrom place:
Relevant material from 1367 to 1480
The charitable responsibilities of the Almoner included the welfare of elderly men and women in an infirmary outside the abbey gate, old people’s hostels at St. Mary Magdalen, Durham and at Witton Gilbert, a house for four widows, and the Almonry School, whose schoolroom was immediately above the abbey gate. Although the Almonry Bishop was selected from among the boys of the school, there is no evidence that the Almoner ever received payment from other officers on his behalf; rather, these contributions probably went direct to the expenses of the ceremony, and it seems likely that they were administered by the Master of the Almonry School. After 1474 they went to the Feretrar’s Office, and it is doubtful whether the actual ceremony continued.

Most of the dramatic records in the Almoners\' accounts relate to local folk customs. Records include payments for the folk custom of the harvest goose and perhaps a plough festival connected to it (1337-39ff), to further plough ceremonies (such as those at Elvethall Manor in New Elvet in 1413), as well as numerous regular, usually annual, payments for the Almonry Bishop (Episcopo Elemosinarie) - the Boy Bishop - selected from the boys of the monastery\'s Almonry School.

There are also payments recorded to minstrels attached to noble households, including minstrels Ralph, Lord Neville (later first Earl of Westmoreland, born c.1364, d.1425), his son-in-law Ralph of Lumley (first Lord Lumley, 1384-1400), and Sir Ralph Euer of Witton-le-Wear, Co. Durham (c.1350-1422).

Payment to a ‘Dominus Nicholas’ (Seynteler) appears under ‘Pensiones’ in the account of 1458-9, as master of the children of the Almery School; he appears to have been paid for copying the words and music for the Corpus Christi service and for a service for dedicating a church.

*The records are presented here in draft form and have not had final checking and editing for official publication by REED staff. Permission to cite this material must be sought from REED: Durham editors Mark Chambers and John McKinnell, using the contact form provided on this site.