HENRY VIII, King of England (1509-1547). Letters patent, Westminster, 5 February 1540, granting to Richard Duke, clerk, and his wife Elizabeth the manor of Otterton and Budleigh (alias Eastbudleigh) in Devon in consideration of a payment of £1,727-4-2. Manuscript in Latin on vellum, one membrane, 565 x 890mm, first line in display script with elaborate interlaced capitals, initial letter portrait of Henry VIII and armorial decoration to upper border in pen and ink (light soiling, rubbed along folds); fragments of seal in seal bag, pendant from green and white silk chords.
The manor of Otterton and Budleigh had originally belonged to Otterton Priory, an offshoot of Mont-St-Michel, but was later granted, as were other expropriated possessions of alien priories, to Syon Abbey. Syon, the only Bridgettine house in England, had been founded by Henry V in 1415, and at the time of its dissolution in 1539 was one of the wealthiest houses in the country. Richard Duke, who had been mayor of Exeter in 1523, is identified in the present document as Clerk of the Court of Augmentations, in which office he served from 1536 until the court's dissolution in 1554. The estate remained in the Duke family until 1785.