Institute of Historical Research



Joyce M. Horn

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'Introduction', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 6: Salisbury diocese (1986), pp. IX-X. URL: Date accessed: 18 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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At the beginning of the period covered by this volume, the diocese of Salisbury consisted of the counties of Berkshire and Dorset, each forming an archdeaconry, and Wiltshire, divided into the archdeaconries of Wiltshire and Salisbury. In 1542, the archdeaconry of Dorset was transferred to the newly formed diocese of Bristol (except for those parishes which were, and remained, Salisbury peculiars); but it was transferred back to Salisbury in 1836, at which date the archdeaconry of Berkshire was separated from the diocese and annexed to the diocese of Oxford. (fn. 1)

The Reformation saw several changes in the fifty-two medieval prebends of Salisbury. The prebends of Loders, Sherborne and Upavon, held respectively by the abbess of Sion, the abbot of Sherborne and the prior of Ivychurch, were all dissolved with their religious houses. (fn. 2) Axford, Bedwyn, Blewbury, Charminster and Bere, Faringdon, Horton, Ramsbury and Ratfyn were all the subject of alienations or exchanges forced by the Crown on the bishop. Edward Seymour, earl of Hertford (later duke of Somerset) was the principal beneficiary, but Thomas Wriothesley and William Hunning were also involved in exchanges for individual prebends, as agents for the Crown. Five new prebends were created as a result of some of the exchanges. Ilfracombe, Gillingham Major, Gillingham Minor, Uffculme and Winterbourne Earls brought the number of prebends to forty-six. (fn. 3) Of these, as before the Reformation, Potterne was annexed to the bishopric, Heytesbury to the deanery, Brixworth to the chancellorship and Calne to the treasurership, while Ogbourne was annexed to the dean and chapter of St. George's Chapel, Windsor. The remaining forty-one prebends were all in the bishop's gift, except for Shipton, which in 1617 was annexed by the king to the Regius Professorship of Civil Law at Oxford. However, although the bishop had the right of collation to the prebends, a striking feature of Bishop Capon's episcopate (1539-57) is the number of occasions when he granted away the right of next presentation to a prebend. These grants affected appointments twenty or more years after Capon's death, in some cases having passed through several hands before a vacancy occurred.

The value of the prebends at the beginning of the period varied from the prebend of Teinton Regis, valued at £66 13s 4d in the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 to that of Minor Pars Altaris, valued at three pounds. (fn. 4) However, the gross annual values increased by the seventeenth century with the rise in the value of property, and with the payment of large fines on the renewal of leases which eventually became more valuable than the regular rents. By the nineteenth century the agricultural depression had reduced their value and after the Cathedrals Act of 1840 all the prebends became honorary, their estates and revenues transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commission. (fn. 5)

Effective administration of cathedral affairs was carried out by the chapter, consisting in 1541 of the dean and eight residentiary canons. A prebendary desiring to become a residentiary had to seek admission from the existing chapter. Towards the end of the century the number of residentiaries became customarily six, and as residence became increasingly desirable, fierce competition for places developed and a system of pre-election was in force. At the Restoration the dean and two canons were the sole survivors of the pre-Civil War chapter. These admitted four more canons to residence, and from this time the number remained at six (plus the dean) and the succession can be clearly traced. The bishop had the right of presentation to the canon's house of Leadenhall in the close and the residentiaryship which went with it: the other places were in theory filled by election of the chapter, but in practice there was considerable outside pressure on the chapter, in particular by the monarch's presentations to future vacant residentiaryships. This practice ceased after the seventeenth century, but elections to vacant places were frequently contested, the last contested election being in 1803. The Cathedrals Act of 1840 planned the reduction in number from six to four, as holders died. (fn. 1) Henceforth residentiary canons were not to be elected by the chapter, but all nominated by the bishop. (fn. 2)

The Salisbury episcopal sources are more full than the capitular ones. The sequence of bishops' registers is complete, apart from the years 1584-91 and 1688- 93, but there are no Chapter Act Books for 1598-1603 or 1606-23, and the only record for 1623-42 is the chapter clerk's rough draft or minute book from which he compiled his register, which has since disappeared. These gaps are serious, particularly for information on canons residentiary whose admissions are normally recorded only here. The communars' accounts supply some details of tenure, but the series is not complete.

John Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae was published in 1716 and lists the bishops, archdeacons and dignitaries of Salisbury. T. D. Hardy in his revised edition of the Fasti published in 1854 carries the lists down to about 1851 and in addition supplies names of prebendaries, but gives them together in chronological order of appointment (rather than under individual prebends). Hardy's principal source was the bishops' certificates in the Public Record Office, though his references to sources are scant and inadequate. He gives very few prebendaries for the sixteenth century, but his list is fairly complete from 1660. However, if little use was made by Hardy of the Salisbury episcopal and capitular records, they were thoroughly combed by the Rev. W. H. Rich Jones in the preparation of his important Fasti Ecclesiae Sarisberiensis published between 1879 and 1883, although even he gives full references to sources only up to the Civil War. The present edition adds only a few names to Jones's list, but, supplementing the Salisbury sources with material in the Public Record Office, county record offices, Lambeth Palace Library and printed sources is able to supply a fuller picture, with academic degrees, more accurate dates of death, reasons for resignations, and, of course, full documentation.

Editorial conventions are the same as in earlier volumes of this series. The Salisbury prebends are called by the same names as in the volume for the period 1300-1541, (fn. 3) which followed the current Sarum Diocesan Handbook.


1 For details and references, see under archdeaconries mentioned.
2 Valor II 75.
3 For details and references, see under prebends mentioned.
4 Valor II 77, 76.
5 Stat. 3 & 4 Vic. c. 113 ss. 22, 50.
1 Stat. 3 & 4 Vic. c. 113 s. 13.
2 Ibid. s. 25.
3 Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae, 1300-1541, iii: Salisbury Diocese, comp. J. M. Horn (1962).