The dignity was not properly established and endowed until 1204, with the appointment of Benedict of Sawston, (fn. 4) and then had a low place in the order of precedence,
after the archdeacons and treasurer. (fn. 5) This situation, which was unique among the
English secular cathedrals, where the precentor normally ranked second to the dean, (fn. 6)
was challenged by Benedict, who attempted but failed to take over the stall of the
archdeacon of London, Peter of Blois. (fn. 7) The lowly position occupied by the precentor
at St. Paul's may have had its origin in the period before 1204, when four or five men
used the title cantor, but only two were canons and held prebends. In the middle
years of the twelfth century two or three of the men who are called cantor, who
presumably discharged the basic cantorial duty of ruling the choir, seem to have been
members of the bishop's household, and not full members of the chapter. (fn. 1)
Cantores BEFORE 1204
Levegar Preb. Finsbury
Occ. twice only: as can. and cantor 1104/5 (WD 4 fo. 19/23r-v, pd. in Rep. p. 61b),
and as cantor in prebendal cats. for Finsbury.
Prob. two individuals:
(1) occ. once only, as cantor, [Apr. 1138 × Apr. 1142] (A/25/257, pd. in Rep. p.
28a). (fn. 2)
(2) occ. as chapl. of Gilbert Foliot I, bp. of London (1163-87), and as cantor,
[1163 × c. 1181] (G.F.L. no. 462). (fn. 3)
Clk. of Gilbert Foliot I, bp. of London (1163-87), occ. as cantor several times: first
shortly after 1163 (G.F.L. no. 438), and last [1186 × 87] (G.F.L. nos. 408-9); and occ.
as precentor three times (G.F.L. nos. 374, 411, 468).
Walter son of Walter
(fn. 5) Preb. Finsbury
Occ. as clk., not called cantor, [July 1183 × Nov. 1184] (G.F.L. no. 404). First occ.
as can. and precentor, 7 Oct. 1189 (Mon. Ang. IV 393(1)). Occ. c. 1192 (D.S.R. I). Last
occ. after 6 Nov. 1202 (cart. of Binham: B.M., Cotton MS. Claud. D. xiii fo. 90r-v).
Commem. 21 Sept. (Canterbury obit.: B.M., Cotton MS. Nero C. ix fo. 12r). So
presum. d. Sept. 1203.
M. Benedict of Sawston
(fn. 6) Preb. Nesden
Appd. and dignity endowed by 26 March 1204 (Gibbs nos. 49, 58). Bp. of Rochester,
el. Dec. 1214, cons. Feb. 1215.
[?M. Gervase of Howbridge Preb. Hoxton
Called precentor 1216 (R. de Wendover Chronica, ed. H. O. Coxe (Eng. Hist. Soc.,
1841-4) 111 370), but prob. an error for chanc. (see below p. 26).]
M. William de Rising
(fn. 1) Prebs. unident., Rugmere
Occ. as precentor once only, [June 1225 × May 1226] (cart. of Waltham: B.M.,
Cotton MS. Tib. C. ix fos. 152v, 155r). (fn. 2) Occ. without title [June 1225 × Dec. 1228]
(Ely, Diocesan Records. Liber M (Cambridge, Univ. Libr., G. 3. 28) pp. 176-7). (fn. 3)
Became archdcn. of London by March 1234.
M. Peter de Neuport Preb. Hoxton
Occ. after 1231 (cart. of Stoke by Clare: B.M., Cotton MS. App. xxi fo. 53r-v; cf.
cart. of Walden: B.M., Harley MS. 3697 fo. 202r), (fn. 4) and on 2 Apr. 1234 (Gibbs no.
182). Said by Newcourt to occ. as Peter the precentor 1227 and Dec. 1233 (Newcourt
1 98 n. e, citing 'Baga Elien. Dioc.'), but Peter de Neuport occ. without title after June
1229 (cart. of Stoke by Clare: B.M., Cotton MS. App. xxi fos. 52v-53r). (fn. 5) Became
archdcn. of London before June 1236.
Maurice [?of Harlow] [Preb. Twiford]
Occ. twice only: [Nov. 1229 × Nov. 1241] (cart. of Walden: B.M., Harley MS. 3697
fo. 40r), (fn. 6) and June 1235 × June 1236 (reg. J. Stokesley: Guildhall Libr., MS. 9531/11
fo. 54v). Possibly to be identified with the only can. of the period with the first name,
Maurice of Harlow, preb. of Twiford, where he was succeeded by Dec. 1237.
M. John de Norton Preb. Wilsden
Presum. not appd. until after 18 July 1236, when still called can. (Gibbs no. 87).
First occ. 14 Dec. 1237 (Gibbs no. 99). Last occ. 12 Apr. 1240 (cart. of Castle Acre:
B.M., Harley MS. 2110 fo. 120v). But may occ. earlier or later, [Nov. 1229 × Nov.
1241] (A/28/283). (fn. 7) Became archdcn. of Middlesex by May 1242.
M. Thomas of Stortford
(fn. 8) Preb. Mapesbury
Occ. before May 1241 (Gibbs no. 149) and in 1241 (Gibbs no. 272). Commem. 1
Dec. (Obits. II fo. 110r, III fo. 96v, IV pp. 73, 103).
M. Roger de Orsett
(fn. 9) Preb. Portpool
First occ. May 1241 (A/17A/1318) and before Nov. 1241 (Gibbs no. 338). (fn. 10) Last occ.
1243 (B.M., Harley MS. 6956 fo. 28r, from an original deed formerly in St. Paul's 'in
thecis'). Prob. d. before 6 Nov. 1250 (A/24/466, cal. in Rep. p. 26b, but wrongly
assigned to '1251'). Commem. 14 Jan. (Obits. II fo. 107r, III fo. 94v, IV pp. 62, 74).
M. Robert de Barton Preb. Wilsden
Presum. not appd. until after 25 Aug. 1245, when still called can. (Simpson, Two
inventories p. 464). First occ. as precentor, recently admitted, 1246 (Rot. R. Grosseteste,
ed. F. N. Davis (Canterbury and York Soc. x) p. 228). Became dean 1257, by Aug.
Robert Le Moyne Preb. Sneating
First occ. before Nov. 1258 (A/25/710 and A/25/1735), (fn. 11) but perhaps to be identified
with the unnamed precentor who occ. 9 Dec. 1257 (Reg. Alex. IV no. 2364). Last occ.
1260 (A/30/421, cal. in Rep. 33a). Treas., by July 1262.
M. John de Wengham Preb. Hoxton
First occ., as John the precentor, 21 Aug. 1262 (Statutes p. 385), but possibly appd.
before July 1262 by his uncle, bp. Henry de Wengham I. Last occ. 18 March 1299
(C.C.R. 1296-1302 p. 297). D. by 31 Aug. 1305 (reg. J. Dalderby: Lincoln, Lincs.
Archives Office, Reg. II fo. 283v). Commem. 17 Aug. (Obit. IV pp. 69, 92). Nephew
of Henry de Wengham I, bp. of London (1260-62) (Reg. Alex. IV no. 2935).