Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE MONASTERIES IN SOMERSET: THE RECORDS OF THE COURT OF AUGMENTATIONS AT THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES, KEW (E 321)

Archives: The Journal of the British Records Association (2019), 54, (1), 59–73.

Abstract

In 1536, following the onset of the English Reformation, Thomas Cromwell established the Court of Augmentations to manage the large-scale accumulation of former monastic property. These documents, held at The National Archives (E 321), record cases of debt, riot or any matter ‘in any wise touching or cencernyng the same premises or any parte of theym’. In other words, the Court of Augmentations dealt with the transfer of property and goods following the Dissolution of the Monasteries as well as arbitrating the quarrels and incidents that accompanied them. Taking the county of Somerset as an example, this paper shows how Somerset’s resident gentry sought to purchase as much of the county’s former monastic property as possible in an effort to prevent those from outside the county from intruding into the county structure. The paper argues that compliance with royal instructions was a critical factor in land acquisition and local knowledge was an equally important factor in identifying profitable religious houses and their associated lands. What emerges from the evidence, albeit unsurprisingly, are three key avenues for acquiring this land: Thomas Cromwell, Edward Seymour and, finally, the court.

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Author details

Lambe, Simon