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St. Thomas Martyr Priory (Priory)

Order: Augustinian Canons

An important source for this history of All Saint's Priory is the Register of the Abbey of St. Thomas, Dublin, edited by John Thomas Gilbert, which gives a full account of its foundation. According to Gilbert, the priory was founded in 1177, four years after the canonisation of Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury. The priory was founded in the western suburb of Dublin by William Fitz-Aldelm, the representative of Henry II in Ireland, on behalf of the king. The foundation charter was executed by FitzAldelm in the presence of cardinal Vivian, the papal legate, and Laurence O’Toole, subsequently the archbishop of Dublin. Attesting witnesses included the bishops of Meath, Kildare and Waterford, as well as a group of leaders of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland – including Robert FitzStephen, Miles de Cogan, Meiller FitzHenry and Reimund FitzWilliam.
The foundation charter of the church stipulated that the foundation and the royal gift of land to it were intended by Henry II for the spiritual welfare of himself, his sons, and his parents, Geoffroi, earl of Anjou and the empress Matilda. The church was under the care of the Augustinian canons of the order of St. Victor, and it became the centre of an establishment entitled the Abbey of Saint Thomas Martyr, near Dublin. The possessions and rights of the canons were confirmed by John, son of Henry II, who also granted them tithes of rent from Dublin, and the salmon brought to the kitchen of his castle, as well as fishing rights, and tolles from ale and metheglin (spiced mead). The priory was under the protection of the crown of England as a royal foundation, and its abbots were appointed subject to the approval of the king. The abbots were members of the king’s council in Ireland, peers of the Parliament, and had a court of justice in the abbey. (Reg.S.Th., preface)

The buildings were obviously subject to some rebuilding, as in 1250, the king ordered a quantity of stone, provided by the abbot for building the abbey church to be restored by the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol who had seized it to repair their castle. (K(A))(Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)

A dispute about the abbacy of the priory took place in 1391 - 1392, when, following the death of Abbot Thomas Scurlock in 1391, Richard Tutbury was elected, but the pope provided John Serjeant, resulting in internal trouble. In 1392, with some of the canons and helped by a mob, Tutbury attacked the abbey to expel Serjeant, breaking windows and causing damage by fire. The king's officers intervened after Tutbury had locked up Serjeant and the canons who supported him. The dormitory had been destroyed, and many things stolen. Tutbery finally obtained the abbacy, but resigned in 1397 to be succeeded by John Shirborne, prior of Louth. His election must have been invalidated, as Nicholas O'Beagan, a canon of St. Thomas's, was elected a few days later, while Serjeant still claimed to be the rightful abbot. (K (A)), (Med.religious houses, Ire., 172)

The monastery was dissolved by the surrender of Henry Duff, last abbot, on 25 July, 1539.(Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)

Name of Foundation: Abbey of St. Thomas Martyr (Thomas Court)
Dedicated to: St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury

Barony: Dublin
Townland: Dublin South City ()

Main events in the history of this site

1177Foundation - The priory was founded in 1177, by William Fitz Aldelm for Henry II.  
1187 - Gregory VIII addressed a bull of general protection to Simon, who was probably the first prior. (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
c.1192 - John Cumin (Comyn), archbishop of Dublin, was a benefactor of the abbey, and the Augustinian abbey became an abbey of the order of St. Victor, c. 1192 (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
c.1192 - Archbishop John Cumin (Comyn) granted the church of St. James to the canons. The order of St. Victor is mentioned about this date. (Reg. S. Th., 284), (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1223 - Simon, the abbot, resigns due to old age in 1223, and was succeeded by Adam. (CDI), (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1250 - The king ordered a quantity of stone, provided by the abbot for building the abbey church to be restored by the mayor and bailiffs of Bristol who had seized it to repair their castle. (K(A))(Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
c.1289 - Some abbey buildings were destroyed by an accidental fire. (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
c.1327 - The priory of St. Catherine was annexed to St. Thomas's in 1327.  
1380 - An act was enforced that no Irishman should be professed in the abbey. (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1391 - 1392 - Following the death of Abbot Thomas Scurlock in 1391, Richard Tutbury was elected, but the pope provided John Serjeant, resulting in internal trouble. In 1392, with some of the canons and helped by a mob, Tutbury attacked the abbey to expel Serjeant, breaking windows and causing damage by fire. The king's officers intervened after Tutbury had locked up Serjeant and the canons who supported him. The dormitory had been destroyed, and many things stolen. Tutbery finally obtained the abbacy, but resigned in 1397 to be succeeded by John Shirborne, prior of Louth. His election must have been invalidated, as Nicholas O'Beagan, a canon of St. Thomas's, was elected a few days later, while Serjeant still claimed to be the rightful abbot. (K (A)), (Med.religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1448 - Abbot Thomas Fitzpatrick was appointed Lord Chancellor in 1448 (A) (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1488 - Abbot John Purcell was granted a pardon for being involved in the Lambert Simnel rebellion (A) (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1539, 25 July - Dissolution - The monastery was dissolved by the surrender of Henry Duff, last abbot, on 25 July, 1539. He was granted a small pension, while James Coterel (resigned ab.) and seven other canons were granted smaller pensions. (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
1540, October 30 - 1540, October 30: - On 15 October, 1540, the jurors reported that the hall with a tower, a chamber and an upper room and other buildings, called the king's lodgings, were suitable for the king's deputy and commissioners, while the remaining buildings were needed for the farmer. The possessions included at least 2300 acres of land with two manors, three fortalices or castles, many messuages, cottages, shops etc., five mills, and an interest in some 46 rectories, in the counties of Dublin, Meath, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Louth, Cork, Waterford and Wexford, the total value being £452 1s. 2d. gross, £404 18s. 6d. net, but much property was in ruin or unoccupied. The receiver was Barnaby King, at £419 18s. 4d., and the possessions were granted to various people (E) (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
c.1540 - The site of the monastery and the lands around it were granted to William Brabazon in 1545 (A (AG)), (Med. religious houses, Ire., 172)  
+ 3 minor events. Show minor events

Bibliographical sources

10 Printed sources

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Archival sources

British Museum, '19th century collections for a supplement to Archdall's Monasticon Hibernicum,', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Grant of lands by Henry II to the church of St. Thomas,', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Inquiry into claim of Abbot of St. Thomas the Martry to the advowson of the church', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Inquiry into title to land in Ballymckelly, disputed between Abbot of St. Thomas the Martyr near Dub', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Missal with special insertions for the church of St. Thomas the Martyr', (Document), (View website)

British Museum, 'Volume of extracts from monastic registers made by James Ware including from the Register of St. Tho', (Document), (View website)

Dublin, OSI Grid:O1455233741