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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: September 2012

Knightly Society and the Augustinian Canons in the North-west of England

from Notes and Documents


A portion of an early fourteenth-century stone grave cover excavated at the Augustinian priory of St Mary at Norton depicts, beneath a floriated cross, a sword with its blade covered by the arms of the Dutton family. This example of the symbolism of lineage, social class and devotional aspirations of a male member of an important family of benefactors is an especially striking one. Sometime after 1138 Robert II of Stafford, the patron of another Augustinian house, Stone Priory, confirmed the canons' possessions and granted the community substantial temporal and spiritual property. In especially warm-hearted language he requested, ‘as brother and patron of the same church of Stone’, burial with his father, and wished ‘to establish firmly for the aforesaid canons, our brothers, all the above mentioned, to hold rightly, freely and honourably quit of all exactions and secular service due to me or my heirs’. Similarly, in 1293 the canons of St Thomas near Stafford recognised their obligation to a woman they considered ‘noble and beloved’, that is, Rose of Standon, and in return for a particularly generous endowment, assented to her request for a brother to celebrate mass for the souls of herself, her heirs and the faithful departed. Clearly sentiments expressed in ways such as these should be treated with some caution. Nevertheless, they do allude to bonds between the Augustinians and their knightly benefactors that were meaningful and long-lasting.