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Prioresses of Kirklees

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2015-09-01. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-12.

According to the Gest of Robyn Hode and Robin Hood's Death, a prioress of Kirklees and her illicit lover were responsible for Robin Hood's death. The prioress is not given a name in either tale, and it is quite uncertain if their authors had a specific historical prioress in mind. Nonetheless I intend to compile a list of prioresses. References will be added as I come across them. However, unless major new discoveries are made the list will remain quite incomplete. Kirklees Priory was dissolved on 24 November 1539.[1]

Prioresses of Kirklees

  • 13th cent. Elizabeth de Staynton; said to be the first prioress.[2]
  • 1306.10.04–?1307.01.14. Margaret de Clayworth.[2]
  • 1307.01.15[2]after 1331.04.05. Alice de Scriven[3]
  • 15th cent. (before Cecilia Hill, next). ?Margaret Seyvill, daughter of Sir John Seyvill.[2]
  • 14??–91. Cecilia Hill or Hiks.[2]
  • 1491–1499 or earlier. Joanna Stansfeld.[4]
  • 1499.04.24–1505.03.09 or earlier. Margaret Tarlton.[4]
  • 1505.03.10–-15??. Margaret Fletcher.[5]
  • 1527.07.09–1538.05.13 or later Cecilia Topcliffe.[6]
  • 1538.05.14 or later–1539.11.24. Joan Kyppes, Keps, Kepax or Kepast. The last prioress of Kirklees.[7]

Also see


  1. Armytage, George John, ed. 'Extracts from Mr. Roger Dodsworth's Manuscripts relating to Brighouse, Clifton, Kirklees and Hartshead, in the Wapentake of Morley, in the West Riding of the County of York', Yorkshire Archæological and Topographical Journal, vol. VI (1881), pp. 73-79; see p. 75 n. 1; Armytage, George John, ed. 'Account of Excavations at Kirklees Priory, Yorks.', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of London, Second Series, vol. XXI (1906-1907), pp. 175-86; see p. 176.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Chadwick, S.J. 'Kirklees Nunnery', Yorkshire Notes and Queries, vol. I (1888), pp. 82-94, 97-105; see p. 85.
  3. See Lister, John, ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.] Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield, vol. III (Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. LVII (1917), pp. 147 (25 July 1316), 154 (August 1316); Walker, J.W., ed.; [Stokes, Ethel, transcr.], Court Rolls of the Manor of Wakefield. Vol. V. 1322-1331 (Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. CIX) (1945), pp. 173 (12 March 1331), 174 (5 April 1331). Scriven ís a village just north of Knaresborough, in North Yorkshire (formerly in the North Riding of Yorkshire).
  4. 4.0 4.1 Chadwick (1888), pp. 85-86.
  5. Chadwick (1888), p. 86.
  6. Clay, John Wm., ed. Yorkshire Monasteries. Suppression Papers (The Yorkshire Archæological Society, Record Series, vol. XLVIII) ([s.l.], 1912), p. 127. Also see Chadwick (1888), p. 86.
  7. Clay, p. 127. Also see Armytage (1906), p. 180; Chadwick (1888), p. 86.