Institute of Historical Research



Joyce M. Horn

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'Introduction', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 1: St. Paul's, London (1969), pp. IX-XI. URL: Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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This volume is the first in a projected series on the post-Reformation dioceses and chapters. It follows the completion of the revision of Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae for the period 1300-1541, published in twelve volumes, 1962-7, (fn. 1) and one volume covering the years 1066-1300, also on St Paul's cathedral, London, the first, it is hoped, of a series on that period. (fn. 2)

The year 1541 was chosen to divide the mediaeval from the modern periods, as it was about this time that considerable reorganization took place in the structure of the English sees. In 1539 a Bill was brought into the House of Lords empowering the king to erect new bishoprics by letters patent. (fn. 3) These came into being between 1540 and 1542, when six new sees were created. The short-lived see of Westminster was founded in 1540, followed by Gloucester, Peterborough and Chester in 1541, and Oxford and Bristol in 1542. (fn. 4) As a result of the dissolution of the monasteries, the monastic cathedrals of Canterbury, Carlisle, Coventry, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Rochester, Winchester and Worcester were refounded, and the prior and monastic communities were replaced by a dean and secular canons. About the same time, there were changes within some of the dioceses with respect to their see-towns: thus the dean and chapter of Lichfield were made the sole chapter of the bishopric of Coventry and Lichfield, where previously the prior and convent of the dissolved priory of Coventry had formed half of the chapter, and similarly the dean and chapter of Wells became the sole chapter of the bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 5) No further reorganization took place until the nineteenth century, when the diocese of Ripon was founded in 1836, and Manchester effectively in 1847, (fn. 6) and various territorial changes were made in other dioceses.

In 1857, the first volume of Crockford's Clerical Directory was published, followed by further volumes in 1860, 1865 and 1868. From then it was published every other year until it became an annual publication in 1876. The year 1857 has been accordingly chosen as the terminal date for these lists.

The lists of dignitaries and prebendaries in Le Neve-Hardy for the period 1541- 1850 look considerably tidier and fuller than for the mediaeval period. John Le Neve himself attempted only the cathedral dignitaries up to 1715, and T. D. Hardy was responsible for continuing the lists up to about 1850, although his revision of Le Neve's Fasti was published in 1854, and for compiling the lists of prebendaries. However, the lists still have many limitations. There is a serious general lack of references for statements and facts. Page after page of lists with detailed information contains scarcely a reference. No sources are cited for all the prebendaries at Exeter, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, Norwich, Oxford, Winchester and Worcester. At other cathedrals, when references are given, they are generally totally inadequate, and often amount to no more than 'Bishops' Certificates' or 'Ex Epitaphio'. Moreover, there are several gaps in what has been attempted. For example, lists of prebendaries are given from 1588 only at Exeter, and from 1714 at Chichester and St. Davids. No prebendaries are given for Llandaff before the end of the sixteenth century, and only very tentative lists for Bath before about 1620, and even subsequently there are many gaps. The prebendaries of Chichester, St. Davids and Salisbury are not given under each prebend, but in order of appointment, although the prebends are distinctly named at the cathedrals, and it should have been possible to compile lists for each one. As there are over forty post-Reformation prebends at Salisbury, Hardy's method is singularly confusing.

It would appear that Hardy worked mainly from the bishops' certificates in the Public Record Office, rather than from the bishops' registers or chapter act books. There are some references to the Lambeth registers, and occasionally to Lincoln registers, but those of other dioceses are not mentioned at all. In his work on Exeter, Hardy specifically comments that Dr. Oliver has checked his lists with the bishops' registers, as though this was not usually the case.

The task of compiling fresh lists has been much more straightforward than for the earlier periods. Records were better kept than before the Reformation, and the lists are therefore more nearly complete. There were no more papal provisions, no exchanges, and virtually no disputes over prebends. There are also new sources of information making it possible in many cases to give the precise date of death, or at least the burial, as opposed to the date on which the office was filled, as recorded in the bishop's register, which may be weeks or even months after death. Parish registers of burials were ordered to be kept from September 1538, (fn. 1) and these are useful if it is known which parish benefice a cathedral cleric held. These have been consulted when they have been deposited in county record offices, or when printed, though it is seldom feasible to consult those still held by the incumbent. Periodicals such as the Gentleman's Magazine and newspapers such as The Times have been valuable sources, and wills and monumental inscriptions have also been cited. From 1836, it is possible to find death certificates at Somerset House, provided the name is not too common. For this period, too, there is a new source in the Bishops' Certificates to the Exchequer. These annual returns of institutions made to benefices begin in the reign of Mary (fn. 2) (though there are few before that of Elizabeth) and sometimes supply information if the bishops' registers have been lost.

The most difficult periods for which to compile complete lists are the Reformation and the Commonwealth. During the reigns of Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, there were successive deprivations which are not always fully recorded, and cannot be confidently reconstructed. During the Commonwealth period, the cathedral chapters were abolished and dispersed, many of the clergy retiring to the country. Precise information of their deaths is often hard to trace, and the phrase 'died at latest by . . .' is often used to show that a person may have died up to eighteen years before his office was filled after the Restoration in 1660. Individual dioceses present particular problems caused by the loss or destruction of records.

Some changes in procedure in this period deserve mention. In the sixteenth century, there were frequent grants by the bishop of the advowson of prebends or offices with the right of presentation to them at the next vacancy, which grants were then confirmed by the cathedral chapter. In the text of these Fasti, the presenter is said to be patron hac vice, and if there is a record of the earlier grant of the advowson this is also given. At some cathedrals the presentation to virtually every office was granted two or three times during the century, though frequently the right was apparently not exercised for various reasons. This practice occurs only very rarely in the seventeenth century. Another new custom was that of granting to the archbishop of Canterbury the presentation to a specified prebend or office on the next vacancy, in lieu of homage, a practice known as 'his grace's option'. (fn. 1) It was still normally the rule that on becoming a bishop a man relinquished all other benefices, but he might have a dispensation of retainer (commendam retinere) granted by the king. (fn. 2) This became a regular practice in the case of the holders of poor bishoprics, many of whom successively held the deanery of St. Paul's.

As regards editorial method, the same conventions have been employed as in the earlier volumes on the mediaeval period, (fn. 3) except that degrees are now given in the modern form (B.D. instead of B.Th. etc.).

As before the Reformation, there were still 30 prebends at St. Paul's, and their names remained the same. They have been called by the names which are in current use in the cathedral, and this volume follows that on the mediaeval period in adopting the names given in the London Diocesan Handbook for 1962. A list of the variants in Le Neve-Hardy and in the present place-names was given in Appendix I of Le Neve, Fasti 1300-1541, v St. Paul's, London.

The period 1541-1857 saw various changes in the archdeaconries, however. To the mediaeval archdeaconries of London, Essex, Middlesex and Colchester was added that of St. Albans in 1550, consisting of 26 parishes of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, which were formerly held by St. Albans Abbey. In the nineteenth century, the archdeaconries of Essex, Colchester and St. Albans were transferred from London to Rochester, by an Act of 14 August 1836 (6 and 7 William IV c. 77), carried into effect later by Orders in Council.

The order of precedence of the dignitaries in the cathedral remained the same as in the mediaeval period, and is peculiar to St. Paul's. The archdeacons follow the dean in seniority, and the treasurer precedes the precentor. (fn. 4)


1 I Lincoln Diocese, comp. H. P. F. King, 1962; II Hereford Diocese, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1962; III Salisbury Diocese, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1962; IV Monastic Cathedrals (Southern Province), comp. B. Jones, 1963; v St. Paul's, London, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1963; VI Northern Province (York, Carlisle and Durham), comp. B. Jones, 1963; VII Chichester Diocese, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1964; VIII Bath and Wells Diocese, comp. B. Jones, 1964; IX Exeter Diocese, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1964; x Coventry and Lichfield Diocese, comp. B. Jones, 1964; XI The Welsh Dioceses (Bangor, Llandaff, St. Asaph, St. Davids), comp. B. Jones, 1965; XII Introduction, Errata and Index, comp. Joyce M. Horn, 1967.
2 I St. Paul's, London, comp. Diana E. Greenway, 1968.
3 Stat. 31 Hen. VIII c. 9.
4 Rymer, Foedera, VI iii 66-73, 78-82.
5 Stat. 33 Hen. VIII c. 30, and Stat. 34 and 35 Hen. VIII c. 15.
6 Stat. 6 and 7 Will. IV c. 77.
1 L. & P. XIII ii no. 281.
2 Stat. 1 Mary st. 2 c. 10.
1 R. Burn, Ecclesiastical Law (London, 1797) I 239.
2 ibid. II 3.
3 Le Neve, Fasti 1300-1541, XII Introduction, Errata and Index pp. 7-10.
4 Statutes of Lincoln Cathedral, ed. H. Bradshaw and C. Wordsworth (Cambridge, 1892-7) I 136; Early Charters of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London, ed. M. Gibbs (Camden 3rd Ser., 1939) pp. xxix-xxx.