Friday, February 20, 2009

Question from Hayley - Pilgrimage of Grace Article 11

Currently studying the Pilgrimage of Grace and have been set a question on Article 11 of the Pontefract. I need to know what exactly Dr legh and Dr leyton did to warrant condign punishment? My source has been modified so bits are missing.

Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Richard Layton and Thomas Legh were two of the principle commissioners for the visitations that resulted in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Layton and Legh worked mostly in the North, especially in Yorkshire, which they “visited” in early 1536. The record of their visitation survives as the Compendium compertorum, an inventory of goods and property held by the monasteries together with a list of the abuses and violations charged against each monastery.

Rumors abounded at the time that both Layton and Legh accepted bribes and extorted money and valuables from the monasteries in return for altering their report and for treating a particular monastery more lightly. Those monasteries that did not pay were rumored to have been accused by the visitors of more egregious violations and religious abuses, increasing the likelihood that the monastery would be dissolved. In essence, Layton and Legh were accused of seeking payment from the monasteries and holding out to them the false hope that they would escape closure.

As the monasteries began to be closed and their property and resources were seized by the Crown, a rebellion against the closures arose in the North and became known as the Pilgrimage of Grace.

Robert Aske, a leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace, together with the Archbishop of York and Thomas, Lord Darcy met with the Duke of Norfolk and George Talbot, 4th Earl of Shrewsbury (representing the King’s interests) at Pontefract Castle in October 1536 to present a list of demands for ending the rebellion. Among the list were demands that the dissolved and suppressed monasteries be restored, that Papal authority be restored in England, that Princess Mary be declared legitimate, and that Thomas Cromwell be removed from office. Article 10 called for the “condign punishment” of Richard Layton and Thomas Legh, specifically on charges of bribery and extortion in relation to their monastic visitations of early 1536.

The Pilgrimage failed, and neither man was punished for his actions, though they were almost certainly guilty (both became very wealthy during the same period). In his last years, Layton went on to serve as Ambassador to France and then to the Low Countries, clear evidence that he was still in full royal favor.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to speculate that Layton and Legh were to Henry VIII what Dudley and Empson were to Henry VII.

Is the Compendium Compertorum still around to be viewed/studied?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Tracey, the Compendium survived the centuries and is now in the National Archives at Kew outside of London. It is stored among the State Papers, Part One, Volume 102, folios 91-114. They are not accessible to the general public.

It can be read in modern printed form, however, in the Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Voluem 10, Item 364 dated 28 February 1535/6.
Available online at

A PhD student at the University of Warwick (UK) recently wrote his doctoral thesis on the Compendium, but ti has not been published yet.

Anonymous said...

thank you!