Appendix 1: The obit book of Hereford Cathedral
Explanatory notes


Institute of Historical Research



J.S. Barrow

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'Appendix 1: The obit book of Hereford Cathedral: Explanatory notes', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: volume 8: Hereford (2002), pp. 100-101. URL: Date accessed: 17 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Explanatory notes on the previous edition, the manuscript and the current edition

The obit book was first published by Richard Rawlinson as an appendix, paginated separately from the rest of the text, to his work The History and Antiquities of the City and Cathedral Church of Hereford (1717). Since this work is not widely available it has been thought appropriate to re-edit the obit book here. The people listed in the obit book, in addition to the bishops and cathedral clergy, form a cross-section of Herefordshire gentry and Hereford citizens of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; in some cases the grants which they made to secure their inclusion in the obit book are briefly stated. Some of the entries refer to monks of the Norman abbeys of Lire and Cormeilles, with which Hereford cathedral had confraternity arrangements.

The obit book occupies fos. 1r-54r of Bodl. MS Rawlinson B.328. Fo. 54v is blank and a Hereford cathedral calendar occupies the remaining folios, 55r-110v. One scribe, using a text hand of the mid fourteenth century, wrote most of the obit book entries and the whole of the calendar, apart from a few annotations (e.g., at the bottom of fo. 110v). It is unlikely that the main section of the obit book was written much later than this, since the entries for Adam Osger (d. 1365; entry entered in a similar hand to the main hand, fos. 36v-37r), for queen Philippa (d. 1369) and bishops John and Thomas Tryllek (entered together in a cursive hand under 30 Nov.; d. 1360 and 1372 respectively) have been added after the main text was written. There are a few further entries from the late fourteenth up to the early sixteenth century. The bulk of the entries in the main hand refer to people who died before 1280, with only a few entries later than this, Edmund, earl of Lancaster (d. 5 June 1296), canon Alan de Crepping (d. 24 Feb. 1297 (list 28)) and William de Beauchamp, earl of Warwick (d. Aug. 1298) being the latest.

Bodl. MS Rawlinson B.328 has an eighteenth-century leather binding. This evidently replaced a badly damaged or perhaps temporary original binding, since the first folio of the opening quire is missing (though it was available to Rawlinson) and the first surviving folio is very dirty. The covers measure 169 mm wide and 246 mm deep, and their interior faces have paper paste-downs. The MS contains 1 paper flyleaf + 110 parchment leaves + 1 paper flyleaf. The quiring is mostly in gatherings of 6 bifolia each: 112 (1 missing); 2-412; 58 (lacks 8); 6-912; 106 (the leaves of quire 10 have been bound separately into the modern binding with gummed parchment strips). The parchment leaves measure about 154 mm in width by 228 mm in depth, and have all been ruled in pencil. In the obituary section of the codex the ruling is organised to leave margins of approximately 13 mm at the top, 28 mm at the foot, 22 mm at the left margin and 15 mm at the right. There are five vertical rulings at the left side of each page to create a margin and five narrow vertical columns at the left side, followed by a wide vertical column for the obit entries and then the right hand vertical ruling and the right hand margin. Each page has 32 horizontal rulings.

In using different colours the scribe always used the following rules: the Golden Number is always in black; the Dominical letter is in red; the number (if required) qualifying Kalends, Nones or Ides is always in blue; the abbreviations kl', n' and id' are in red. The letters KL' for the opening entry of each month are in large format, the K in blue and the L' in red, followed by the name of the month with the opening letter in blue and the rest of the name in red (except April, June, August and September, which are all blue, and December, which has a red initial letter and the rest of the name in blue). Above the name of the month is a note of how many days it contains, e.g., 'November habet dies xxx luna xxx'. This note is always in red with a blue initial letter, save in the case of February which is entirely written in blue. May, October and December are wrongly stated to have only 30 days each. The Nones and Ides of each month are represented by the words NONAS and IDUS in blue. The word NONAS is often decoratively written with the letters NON forming a very wide capital H with a little circle in the middle of the cross-bar. The entries for the days immediately following the Ides of each month are coloured as follows: 19 Kal. Februarii with F in blue and the rest of the month in red; 16 Kal. Marcii, 17 Kal. Aprilis, 17 Kal. Iunii, 19 Kal. Septembris, 17 Kal. Novembris and 19 Kal. Ianuarii likewise; 18 Kal. Maii was originally also written thus, but the M of Maii was subsequently erased; 18 Kal. Iulii has the I of Iulii in red and the rest of the name in blue; 17 Kal. Augusti has the name of the month omitted; 18 Kal. Octobris and 17 Kal. Decembris have the month wholly written in red.

Most obit entries are written in black ink, but those for bishops, for several senior (or especially generous) members of the cathedral community and for a few particularly favoured lay benefactors and benefactresses are in red. Where the opening of the obit entry is in black, the O of Obitus is in red; where the opening of the obit entry is in red, the O of Obitus is in blue. James of Aigueblanche's entry, in red, opens with the word Memoria of which the opening M is in blue (6 Non. Oct.). Two entries, later additions, are in gold leaf: these are for queen Philippa and for queen Anne and Richard II (fos. 32v, 33v). Apart from numerous hands, often schematic, drawn by a late medieval annotator in the margins to point the reader's attention to particularly generous obit bequests, the marginalia are mostly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century; so too are the interlineations.

The opening section of the obit book no longer survives in Bodl. MS Rawlinson B.328, suggesting that the opening folio must have been removed; however, it still existed in the early eighteenth century when Richard Rawlinson published his edition of the obit book. Accordingly the entries for the first 11 days of January are copied below from p. 3 of Rawlinson's appendix, following his spelling and capitalization, Rawlinson appears to have underlined text originally written in red, and to have shown lacunae by means of lines, and both these practices are followed here for the section copied from his appendix. Apparently also he omitted days for which no names were entered.

For the ease of the reader extra line spaces have been inserted and the modern form of the day of the month is entered above each entry in bold type. Bold type is also used to pick out those passages in red in the manuscript (the reader is reminded that these often have opening letters in blue, which cannot be separately represented here). Entries in later hands are printed in italics. Punctuation has been modernized. The letters I and J are rendered as I, the vowel U/V is rendered U and the consonant U/V as V. The scribe of B.328 was not consistent in his use of C or T where medieval Latin allows a choice but classical Latin demands a T: in this edition, T is preferred (e.g. servitium). Interlineations in the manuscript are marked with V, lacunae and other illegible passages are marked with square brackets, and expansions of severely abbreviated words are placed in round brackets, save for the words solidi and denarii, variably represented as solid', sol', s., denar', den' or d. by the scribe, which are tacitly expanded. Footnotes explaining historical context are numerated in a continuous sequence; they are not intended to give full information about the people mentioned in the text but to provide some orientation for the reader. Textual footnotes, placed after the historical footnotes where two appear together, are given letters of the alphabet.