General Introduction to the "REGISTRUM SEDE VACANTE".


THE completion of a calendar of the contents of the Registrum Sede Vacante of the Diocese of Worcester has for the first time rendered this manuscript accessible to the local historian. Extracts from it have been made by Thomas, Nash, and others, but no complete account of its contents has hitherto appeared. Its importance in County History cannot be overrated. It contains the official account of the ecclesiastical administration of the diocese at different and irregular intervals between 1301 and 1435. These intervals were the times between the death or translation of a bishop and the new bishop taking over the administration of the spiritualities of the See. Sometimes they lasted for one or two years, as in the case of the first from 1301 to 1303, in others only a few months. But whether long or short, all these intervals contain entries of matters that have an important bearing on County history, not cnly that of Worcestershire but also of Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, and in some few cases on the general History of England.

The volume is a folio of 14" x 10" bound in oak boards, which were formerly ornamented with brass, but the ornaments have disappeared. It consists of 271 pages of vellum, for the most part written on both sides, referred to in this calendar as 1 and 1d. In some places, as on p. 146, part has been torn out, and in other places, as on p. 200, the leaf has been deliberately cut. On p. 130 there is a large stain of blood, but on the whole the MS. is in most excellent preservation. Opposite several of the entries there are marginal notes, some contemporary with the body of the book, others of a later date, and some, as on p. 112, in a modern hand, probably Dr. Thomas, who is known to have largely studied the MS. Some of the writing is beautifully done, for instance, a small document inserted on p. 105. The Register is of necessity of various dates. A specimen of the earliest page was published in Part I.

There is but little, if any, attempt at arrangement. In several places documents are bound up with the MS. having no relation


to the text. The MS. has been rebound at some time, and the leaves have not been replaced in chronological order, as, for instance, the entries on the vacancy in 1349 precede those on the one in 1338. The possessions and emoluments of an English Bishoprick in the 13th century were of two kinds, the temporalities, the rents and profits from the estates of the See, the spiritualities, the revenue derived from the performance of any ecclesiastical function. On reference to the celebrated 13th century assessment of the English Church, the Valor of Pope Nicholas IV., this division will be clearly seen; the two kinds of revenue were separately taxed, but there the division is somewhat different, as the spiritualities were not the varying sums received from fees but the fixed sums received from the benefices. In the case of Worcester the total amount given in the Valor of the spiritual revenue was 4,793 2s. 10d., of the temporal 1,295 5s. 6d. This, however, does not include the revenue mentioned in this Register, as the spiritualities in the Valor do not include the annual sums derived from fees which were of far less amount than the revenue from benefices.

Whenever a vacancy occurred in the See, as the Bishop was the King's feudal tenant of the temporalities, a default of a tenant arose, so they escheated to the King as lord and remained in his hands until granted to a new tenant, the new Bishop, which was not made until he had done homage on his appointment. It was, therefore, to the interest of the Crown to keep the See vacant as long as possible, as thereby it received the revenues. One of the complaints against William Rufus was that he kept the Bishopricks vacant for this purpose. The accounts of what the temporalities produced and the administration of the estates do not in any way appear in this volume, except for a casual entry here and there, where the Prior's officers are forbidden to commit waste on the lands of the See. This register is confined to the other side of the receipts. These the spiritualities, the revenue arising from the ecclesiastical work done by ecclesiastics, went to the See of Canterbury, according to the Anglican view, as the Metropolitan See of the Province; or according to the Roman view, as the Papal representative. Some one had to collect the monies arising from the spiritualities on behalf of Canterbury. This person, who was the custos or guardian on behalf of that See, received the revenues and was allowed to retain a percentage for collecting them when he passed


his accounts. There seems to have been a good deal of friction between the archiepiscopal authorities and the local authorities as to the collection of these monies; a stranger could not get as much as a local man, a local man might not act so fairly to Canterbury as an official of its own. It was not only in the Worcester diocese that these difficulties arose. In the adjoining Diocese of Lincoln there was the same trouble springing from the same cause, and in 1262 Archbishop Boniface settled it by a formal agreement that the Prior or Sub-prior should act as collector and be allowed a fixed portion of the monies collected. The sentence of excommunication on persons breaking the Lincoln agreement is set out in full in the Register [1] of the Priory of Worcester, doubtless as forming a precedent of the agreement with Archbishop Boniface which the Prior and convent of Worcester made in 1268 on the same lines was broken. By it on a vacancy in the See of Worcester the Canterbury official appointed the Prior or Sub-prior of Worcester Keeper of the Spiritualities, the Prior exercised all the Archbishop's powers as bishop during the vacancy, and on its termination he accounted for what he received. Out of the monies accounted for two-thirds were to be paid to Canterbury and one-third retained by the Prior. It is important to bear this in mind, for it seems probable that the Prior's pecuniary interest in the monies received led him to enforce his rights and compel payments in a way he might not otherwise have done. The title of the Prior, when acting for the See of Canterbury on these occasions, is given in the Register thus:- "Prior of the Cathedral Church of Worcester by authority of the Court of Canterbury, Official and Administrator of the Spiritualities in the City and Diocese of Worcester, the See being vacant [2]". But although very often referred to, the agreement with the Archbishop is nowhere set out in extenso. The Worcester agreement, as has been said, differs in some of its details from that of Lincoln. It was more favourable to the monastery. One of the differences deserves notice, as it may have given rise to some of the disputes that occurred in the Worcester Diocese. In the Lincoln agreement the power of the Prior to visit the monasteries was limited to visiting two in each Archdeaconry. In the Worcester agreement no such

[1] Kale's edition of Register of Priory of Worcester, published for Camden Society, 1865, p 172a.
[2] p. 134.


limitation was imposed, and it may well be that the great monasteries that refused to allow the Prior to visit them knew of the agreement in the adjoining diocese, and did not see why they should be in a worse position than the houses of their order in the next diocese. If Gloucester and Tewkesbury were visited, why should Winchcomb and Cirencester also have to undergo visitation? If they had been only a few miles to the east they would have been free from the Prior and all his works.

The sums that were received from Spiritualities arose from various sources - fees on visitation, fees on conferring orders, fees for consecrating or reconciling churches, fees on institution to benefices, fees for licences, or letters dimissory, fees for wills, and cases in the ecclesiastical courts, in fact, fees for everything for which an ecclesiastical lawyer could invent fees. At the close of the vacancy, or if it lasted a longer time, at the end of a year, the Prior accounted with the Archbishop. The register contains several of these accounts; they are worth careful examination, as they shew the nature of the work the Prior did and furnish the key to a great deal of what appears in the Register, which was in fact the history of the Prior's administration as collector or keeper for the See of Canterbury.

The next point to consider is the area over which this jurisdiction was exercised. This will be best understood by reference to the map prefixed to this book. It will be there seen that the Diocese of Worcester at the time of the Register, 1301-1435, consisted of the County of Worcester, part of the County of Warwick, including Warwick itself, but excluding Leamington and Kenilworth (roughly the part that now lies to the west of the Great Western Railway from Birmingham to Oxford), and all Gloucestershire east of the Severn. This area was divided into two Archdeaconries, Worcester and Gloucester; Worcester including Worcestershire and the part of Warwickshire in the diocese, Gloucester the part of Gloucestershire within it. The Worcester Archdeaconry was divided into 9 deaneries, Worcester, Powick, Pershore, Wych, Kidderminster, Evesham, Blockley, Warwick, and Kineton. The Gloucester into 12 deaneries, Winchcomb, Gloucester, Stonehouse, Dursley, Bristol, Bolton, Hawkesbury, Cirencester, Fairford, Stow, and Campden, and the jurisdiction of Bibury. Over all this area, except the Deanery of Evesham and the jurisdiction of Bibury, the Prior as the officer


of the Archbishop exercised jurisdiction during the vacancy of the See. Each of these deaneries within the Prior's jurisdiction was "visited" from time to time by the Prior, and each of the deans acted as the officer during the vacancy to carry out the Prior's mandate in any matters arising in the deaneries.

The record of the Prior's jurisdiction over this area extends from 1301, the death of Bishop Godfrey Giffard, to 1435, the consecration of Bishop Bourchier. During these 134 years there were no less than 20 bishops, or rather 19 vacancies, and it is the proceedings during some of these vacancies which the Register describes. Unfortunately the Register is not complete. Out of the 19 vacancies, in no less than 5 there is no record of what was done. The following Table will shew exactly what the Register contains. When the bishops' names are printed in italics there is no record of anything done during the vacancy. The names of the Priors are added for facility of reference.

BishopToBishop.YearsPriors. Pages.
GiffardtoGinsborough1301-1303John de la Wyke1-56
GinsboroughtoReynolds1307-1308John de la Wyke57-136
ReynoldstoMaydestonOct. 1313 to April, 1314John de la Wyke137-177
MaydestontoCobhamMarch to Nov. 1317John de la Wyke177-191
CobhamtoOrletonAugust, 1327 to June, 1328Wolstan de BransfordNo entry.
OrletontoMontacute8th May, 1334Wolstan de BransfordNo entry.
MontacutetoHeminghale30th March to August, 1337Wolstan de BransfordNo entry.
HeminghaletoBransford21st Dec. 1338 to April, 1339Wolstan de Bransford256-282
BransfordtoThoresby6th Aug. 1349 to 1350John de Evesham223-256
ThoresbytoBrian1352 to 1353John de Evesham191-202
BriantoBarnet10th Dec. 1361 to 10th Mar 1362John de Evesham202-216
BarnettoWhittelsey1st April, 1364 to 2nd July, 1364John de Evesham216-222
WhittelseytoLynnOct. 1368 to May, 1369John de EveshamNo entry.
LynntoWakefield18th Nov. 1373 to 28th Oct. 1375Walter Leigh282-353
WakefieldtoWinchcombe11th Mar. 1395 to Aug. 1395John de Malvern353-371
WinchcombetoClifford13th June, 1401 to 17th Oct. 1401John de Malvern371-386
CliffordtoPeverell21st Oct. 1407 to 21st Nov. 1407John de Malvern387-390
PeverelltoMorgan1st Mar. 1418 to 3rd Dec. 1419John de Malvern390-407
MorgantoPolton1425 to 1426John FordhamNo record.
PoltontoBourchier23rd Aug. 1433 to 5th May, 1435John Fordham408-446


It will thus be seen that except from 1327-1338, the time covered by the episcopates of Orleton and Montacute, the 9 years of Whittelsey and Lynn, and the 6 years of Morgan and Polton, the Register covers the period 1301 1435. It is to be regretted that we have not the details of some of these vacancies, especially that of Orleton.

The names of the Priors have been given, so that it may be seen at a glance who was the person who acted at each vacancy. In the Appendix a further Table has been added shewing who were the Popes, the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the Archdeacons during the period. So it will be readily seen who were the persons whose acts are recorded.

Before considering the administrations of the six different Priors who presided over the Worcester Monastery during the time covered by the Register, it will be well to say one word as to the election of the different bishops. In theory the Worcester monks on obtaining the King's leave to elect, selected the person they thought best qualified for the post. He was, it is true, subject to the approval of the King, and it would appear that the Archbishop of Canterbury claimed the right of approving or disapproving of the bishop elect. The Pope also claimed the same right, although, strictly speaking, he had only a voice in the matter as the appellate judge if a dispute arose; this was the strict theoretical rule, the practice was very different. The Register gives a period in which there were 20 elections. The following Table will shew how far the right of election really belonged to the Worcester monks.

Name of person elected by Monks.Name of the Bishop.Action of Pope.
1. John de Sancto GermanoWilliam Ginsboroughapp. by Pope
2. Walter ReynoldsWalter Reynoldsconfirmed
3. Thomas CobhamWalter Maydestonapp. by Pope
4. No electionThomas Cobhamapp. by Pope
5. Wolston de BransfordAdam Orletonapp. by Pope
6.Simon de Montacuteapp. by Pope
7. Wolstan de BransfordThomas Herninghaleapp. by Pope
8. Wolstan de BransfordWolstan de Bransfordconfirmed
9.John de Thorsbyapp. by Pope
10.Reginald Brianapp. by Pope
11.William Whittleseyapp. by Pope
12.William Lynnapp. by Pope


Name of person elected by Monks.Name of the Bishop.Action of Pope.
13. William LeighHenry Wakefieldapp. by Pope
14.Tideman de Winchcombeapp. by Pope
15. Richard CliffordRichard Cliffordapp. by Pope
16.Thomas Peverellapp. by Pope
17. Philip MorganPhilip Morganconfirmed
18.Thomas Poltonapp. by Pope
19. Thomas BourchierThomas Bourchierconfirmed

It will thus be seen how rarely the elected of the monks really became bishop. What with having "provided" some one else with the bishoprick, or with translating one of his favourites, or with giving it to his own nominee, the Pope usually filled up the See. It was quite the exception that the elected candidate should become anything more. Wolstan de Bransford, the Prior, was on three several occasions elected, and although recommended by both the King and the Archbishop, was set aside by the Pope for one of his own nominees; it often happened that the new Bishop was quite unknown to those over whom he had to preside.

There are entered in the register a number of royal letters on different matters, some having relation to matters in the Register, others having no connection at all with any business. They are, however, of some interest, and at least one of some public importance; they are some half-dozen in number, and the most remarkable are:

1. One in 1302 [1] from Edward I. to the Prior. Hearing that the Prior was committing waste and destruction in the lands of the Bishoprick, the King orders him to wholly desist from doing so. Clearly the Prior had no right whatever to interfere with the temporalities of the See, and it was probably only "a try on".

2. A Letter from Edward I. to the Pope, 8 Aug., 1302, in favour of John de Sancto Germane [2], whom the monks had elected bishop.

3. A Letter, 4 Feb., 31 Ed. I., from Edward I. [3] to the Prior and Convent asking them to give a corrody to his servant, John of Bromsgrove, Le Traior, the bearer, who has well and faithfully served him.

4. A Letter, 30 Oct., i Ed. II. [4], from Edward II. to the Prior and Convent of Worcester. Having granted them leave to elect

[1] p. 3.
[2] p. 15.
[3] p. 39.
[4] p. 104.


a Bishop and hearing they delay proceeding to an election, whereby great loss may occur to them and their church, he commands them that without further delay they proceed to the election of the future Bishop. The King also sent further letters on behalf of Walter Reynolds, and a very important paper giving reasons why the King ordered the election to be hastened, after stating that cathedrals had the right of free election, but the King had always retained the right to allow an election and to approve of the elected, for otherwise he may have a traitor, or an alien, or an enemy of the King or his realm on his Council, lays down that the Pope cannot confer English Bishopricks, nor make any reservation of them, nor interfere with lay patronage.

The document is a remarkable one, the more so as it proceeds from Edward II., and it seems to put the position of the English bishops on their true footing: that they are subjects of the English Crown first and bishops afterwards royal officials, and not the nominees of any "foreign Prince, State, or Potentate". The renunciation of Papal jurisdiction and the right to reject "provisions" made by the Pope is very important.

5. Letter from Edward II. [1], 30 Oct., 1 Ed. II., to the Prior requiring him to cause funeral services with the chanting of masses and other ecclesiastical suffrages to be celebrated for the soul of his father by all religious persons and other clergy of the diocese, that by their prayers he might be able the quicker to enter the celestial kingdom and eternal blessedness.

This letter preceded a writ ordering prayers to be offered up for the preservation of the kingdom, and other lands subject to the King, in prosperity and peace, and that the King may, under God, rule and defend the same by the commands of God, to the honour, profit and quiet of himself, the kingdom and lands. The writ was followed by an order for the Prior to have prayers offered up every day, especially on Sundays and festivals, but it does not appear from the Register that any notice was taken of the letter.

6. A letter [2], 5 Sept., 23 Ed. III. 13, from the King setting out the ingratitude and wickedness of the country, and the great calamity, the Black Death, that has fallen on it, the necessity for prayer and fastings, orders the Prior to have recourse to prayer and

[1] p. 127.
[2] p. 241.


sacrifices, repentance, fastings and exercises of holiness, to turn away the plague and sickness and to cast out the scourge of the air.

7. A letter [1] from Edward III. to the Archbishop of Canterbury, 24 Dec., 47 Ed. III. informing him that with his license the Subprior and Convent had elected William Leigh, the Prior, Bishop, that the King assents to it, and requested the Archbishop to do whatever pertained to him in the matter. Notwithstanding this, Leigh was set aside, and the Pope appointed Wakefield bishop. There are also several letters entered on the Register relating to public matters but not directly affecting the diocese or the Worcester House; such are -
A letter [2], 1301, from Pope Boniface VIII. to Philip IV. of France, telling him that the collation of no benefices or prebends belong to him, and that the Pope reserves the fruits during a vacancy for the successor, and if any one thinks otherwise the Pope will consider him a heretic. It is difficult to see how this letter came into the possession of the Worcester monks.

In 1307 [3] there is a letter from Pope Clement V. to the Archbishop of Canterbury (Winchelsey), which states that the Pope inclining to the petition of the Archbishop and being unwilling to impede him in his office at the King's coronation, has revoked all letters he may have sent to any one touching the matter.

Another letter of the same date [4] from the Pope to the Archdeacon of Arenns (W. Testa) states that the Pope having suspended the Archbishop of Canterbury from administering the spiritualities and temporalities of the See of Canterbury, has now restored the Archbishop to the administration of the same.

Although the accounts of the monies received by the Prior profess to shew the total amount of the spiritualities during the time the account covers, it would not be right to infer they represent in any way the spiritualities of the See as usually understood. They only represent fees and payments, and what their real value was is a matter on which it is most difficult to get any really accurate information. They could not have been a very large sum, nothing like the value of the spiritualities and temporalities of the See in 1291, as mentioned in Pope Nicholas' Valor, but even that would be under the real value, for the value as being taken for taxation it

[1] p. 283.
[2] p. 6.
[3] p. 96.
[4] p. 97.


was something like a modern valuation for probate, well within the real sum. That this was well recognised is shewn by the King's direction as to how the alien abbeys were to be valued, not as for taxation but as by the last extent [l]. The Valor includes as spiritualities the profits of the different benefices and not what is dealt with here, the receipts from fees for performing ecclesiastical duties, which is the other meaning of the term. There were also sums such as Peter's pence [2] which the Bishop received yearly, and which the Prior entered in his account with the Archbishop.

The first account the Register gives is that of these Peter's Pence. We have no clear statement as to the basis on which they were assessed; a certain sum was raised from each Archdeaconry subject to a number of exemptions. The account is thus stated:-

s. d.
In the deanery of Worcester40 0
In the deanery of Powick29 6
In the deanery of Wych'24 10
In the deanery of Kydermestr'26 0
In the deanery of Persor24 4
In the deanery of Warwyk710 5
Total:1415s. 8d.

Exemptions of the same Archdeanery.s. d.
In the deanery of Blockel'6 0
In the deanery of Tredington6 0
In the deanery of Hamton3 0
In the deanery of Stratford6 0
In the deanery of Alnechyrch3 0
In the deanery of Hertlebur'2 0
In the deanery of Fladbur'3 0
In the deanery of Aston Episcopi0 7
Sum of exemptions of the Archdeanery of Worcester:39 7 [1]

[1] p. 293.
[2] p. 33.


Deanery of the Blessed Peter of the Archdeanery of Gloucester.s. d.
In the deanery of Gloucester35 0
In the deanery of Stonhyng'39 0
In the deanery of Wynchecombe54 0
In the deanery of Campedem37 0
In the deanery of Stonwa36 11
In the deanery of Fayreford33 6
In the deanery of Cyrencestr'31 0
In the deanery of Darsl'47 2
Whereof 40s. is paid by the hands of Lord T. de Werkes
In the deanery of Hanekes33 6
In the deanery of Bucton'17 11
In the deanery of Bristoll10 2
And 1d. is uncertain on account of the borough
Total17 15s. 3d.
Exemptions of the same Archdeanery.s. d.
In the deanery of Westbur'3 0
In the deanery of Wythyndon3 0
In the deanery of Bebur'6 0
In the deanery of Clyve2 0
Sum of exemptions of the Archdeanery of Gloucester14 0

"Sum of the sums total of Peter's Pence in the Bishoprick of Worcester 34 2s. 7d., whereof the Bishop pays to the Court of Rome yearly 10 5s., and there accrues to the Bishop every year from the same Peter's Pence of his diocese 24 7s. 7d. [1]".

The first point the list suggests is that the division of the diocese must for this collection have been very different to what it was for any other purpose. Deaneries are mentioned that have long ago ceased to exist, for instance, Hartlebury and Fladbury, and the deaneries do not correspond with those mentioned either in the Register or in Pope Nicholas' Valor. The next is the difference in the amounts raised. The 6 deaneries in the Archdeanery of Worcester


raised 14 15s. 8d., of which a little more than half came from one, the deanery of Warwick. 11 deaneries in the Archdeanery of Gloucester only contributed 17 15s. 3d., none of them yielding anything like the sum paid by Warwick. In Dursley out of the 47s. 2d. one person paid 40s. It would be extremely interesting, if possible, to find out the reason for these inequalities. It is also worth notice that although the sum raised from the diocese was 34 2s. 7d. the cost of collecting by the Bishop was no less than 24 7s. 7d. so that the exact sum the Pope received was only 9 15s.

The next account is of the Prior's receipts of the spiritualities of the See for the year from 2nd Feb., 1301, to 2nd Feb. 1302 [l]. The receipts are divided for some reason into two accounts, summer and winter.

s d
Deaneries of Warwick and Kynton.
Summer8 3 4
Winter4 17 4
Deanery of Powick.
Summer account2 11 4
Winter account2 9 0
Deanery of Kyderminster.
Summer account3 7 4
Winter account1 19 0
Deanery of Wych.
Summer account3 14 8
Winter account1 17 4
Deanery of Pershore.
Summer account3 12 10
Winter account2 3 4
Deanery of Worcester.
Summer account1 18 8
Winter account0 15 10
Total37 10 0

[1] p. 39.


s d
Deanery of Dursley.
Summer account2 10 10
Winter account1 13 8
Deanery of Campden.
Summer account3 17 2
Winter account2 11 0
Deanery of Wynchecumb.
Summer account3 18 8
Winter account1 14 0
Deanery of Cirencester.
Summer account2 18 0
Winter account1 14 0
Deanery of Stonehouse.
Summer account2 16 4
Winter account2 2 0
Deanery of Stowe.
Summer account2 11 0
Winter account2 7 8
Deanery of Hawkesbury and Bictton.
Summer account2 16 8
Winter account2 8 4
Deanery of Bristol.
Summer account1 19 4
Winter account1 19 8
Deanery of Feyreford.
Summer account1 19 6
Winter account1 6 6
Deanery of Gloucester.
Summer account2 4 4
Winter account0 19 6
Total46 8 10

"And from the Church of Douameneye in part of four marks, 40s. The remainder, 5s. 4d., is paid as the tenth of these four marks granted as a subsidy to the Church of Rome.

"From the Church of Bebury 48s. in part of 4 marks, the remainder as tenth aforesaid.


"From corrections and profits in the sum total 4 16s., visitation 12 5s. 8d.

"From various emoluments and profits, 13 7s. 5d. Total 25 13s. 1d."

The grand total then would be: s d
Archdeaconry of Worcester37 10 0
Archdeaconry of Gloucester46 8 10
Church of Douameneye2 0 0
Church of Bibury2 8 0
Corrections and profits in the total4 16 0
Visitations12 5 8
Emoluments and profits13 7 5
Total118 15 11

Of this the Prior and convent retained one third, and the See of Canterbury were paid two thirds under the composition. It cannot, however, be supposed that a little over 118 a year represented the whole of the yearly value of these spiritualities of the See, there are obviously some items of receipts omitted.

The next account is in 1308 [1], when the Archbishop called on the Prior to appear and render an account of his administration of the spiritualities of the See. The Prior appointed John de Sancto Briavelo, one of his monks, his proctor; the following is his account. In it the receipts of the Archdeaconry are not given by deaneries but by subjects, so no comparison can be formed with the last; the period over which they extend was about 15 months, from September, 1307, to December, 1308.

" Account of Brother J. de Wyk':- [2]

Receipts of the Archdeaconry of Worcester.
Dean of Warwick. s. d.
Perquisites5 14 4
Dean of Powick.
Synodals0 6 0
Perquisites1 13 4
Dean of Wych.
Perquisites2 9 6

[1] p. 132.
[2] p. 133.


Dean of Kidderminster. s. d.
Perquisites1 16 0
Dean of Worcester.
Perquisites1 12 0
Dean of Pershore.
Perquisites2 18 8
Total16 9 10
Receipts of the Archdeaconry of Gloucester.
Dean of Dursley.
Perquisites0 7 8
Synodals1 0 0
Dean of Hawkesbury.
Perquisites0 10 8
Synodals0 10 0
Dean of Bicton.
Perquisites0 10 8
Synodals0 4 8
Dean of Campden.
Perquisites1 8 0
Synodals0 17 4
Dean of Bristol.
Perquisites0 19 4
Synodals0 9 4
Dean of Stowe.
Perquisites1 4 0
Synodals0 13 4
Dean of Stonehouse.
Perquisites0 18 0
Synodals0 13 8
Dean of Winchcomb.
Perquisites0 15 4
Synodals0 7 4
Dean of Fairford.
Perquisites0 12 0
Synodals0 7 4
Dean of Cirencester.
Perquisites0 16 0
Synodals0 3 4


Dean of Gloucester. s. d.
Perquisites1 9
Synodals12 8
Total15 13 5 [1]
Receipts from Probate of Wills.s. d.
Probate of Will of Wife of Richard de Hagley1 6
of Will of Edith de Oseleye1 11
of Will of W. Binington1 0
of Will of Master Henry Wag1 6
Total5 11

"Of Probate of Wills, corrections in visitations and other emoluments and perquisites of all the jurisdiction for the aforesaid time, 27 4s. 3d".

The total will therefore be s. d.
Archdeaconry of Worcester16 9 10
Archdeaconry of Gloucester15 13 5
Probate of Wills5 11
Miscellaneous27 4 3
Total59 13 5

This list is more puzzling than the previous one: there for a year the receipts from spiritualities was 118 15s. 11d., now for 15 months it is about half, 59 13s. 5d. All that can be said is the list is obviously incomplete. It is for only a part of the Worcester Archdeaconry, several deaneries, including the large and rich one of Warwick, being left out. Synodals are only mentioned in one case, that of Powick; the receipts in the Gloucester Archdeaconry are absurdly small. These receipts had previously exceeded those of Worcester; here, with only a part, the Worcester receipts exceed Gloucester. It is clear that the return is not, for some reason, a complete one of all the receipts for spiritualities in the 15 months. Still more fragmentary is the next account in 1364 [2]. For the Archdeaconry of Worcester the Synodals are alone given, and not the Perquisites; for Gloucester, the Synodals and Pentecostals.

[1] Sic in Register.
[2] p. 222.


"Sum of the Synodals in the Deaneries of the Archdeaconry of Worcester:

s. d.
Deanery of Worcester1 0 0
Deanery of Powick0 13 0
Deanery of Pershore1 19 0
Deanery of Wych1 7 0
Deanery of Kidderminster1 4 0
Deanery of Warwick1 6 0
Deanery of Kineton1 5 0
Total8 14 0
Sum of Synodals and Pentecostals in the Archdeaconry of Gloucester9 17 0
Grand total18 11 0

This is the only account given. It is true it was for a much shorter term than any of the previous ones, being only for three months from ist April to ist July, 1364, but even then it falls very much below the account for 1302.

The next account given in the Register [1] is for the vacancy between the death of Bishop Wakefield on 11 March, 1395, and the enthroning of Bishop Tideman de Winchcombe in August, 1395. This account is fuller but is still puzzling. Archbishop Courtenay appointed Robert More to hear the account of the Prior of the receipts of the Bishoprick during the vacancy of the See. The Prior's account for the administration of the spiritualities in the City and Diocese of Worcester for the time of the vacancy of the See was heard by Dr. More at Battenhall on the 13th November, 1395.

The first item was Pensions,- s. d.
From the Church of Bibury 4 marks0 12 0
From the Church of Tetbury 4 marks0 12 0
From the Church of Thornbury1 6 8
From the Church of Longdon1 0 0
From the Church of Cam1 0 0
From the Church of Downamoney, 4 marks0 12 0
5 2 8

[1] p. 369.


s. d. s. d.
Thereof received1 6 8
and so there are owed1 6 8
In the tithes of the Church of Blockley13 6 8
From the rent of two terms1 10 0
From certain acres of land let (positis ad denar')10 0
15 6 8
s. d.
From institutions and exchanges8 6 8
From letters dimissory4 0
From fines, wills, and perquisites8 4 6
From the account of the Deans of the Archdeaconries of Gloucester and Worcester22 3 4
Sum total68 10 6
Whereof there is allowed one third part to the Prior which is extended to22 0 0
And so there remains for the Archbishop45 13 8
Whereof the Prior paid Master N. Hereford by mandate of the Archbishop6 13 4
And there remains to be paid to the Archbishop39 0 4
The Prior of Makstok owes of the pensions for the churches of Aston Cantilow, Yardley, and Tonworth3 6 8
(They are paid.)
Also the Vicar of Downameney1 6 8

The Archbishop's warrant to the Prior to pay Master Nicholas Hereford 10 marks was produced with the receipt of Hereford to the Prior for it, 26 May, 1395.

The Archbishop challenged the pensions due to the Bishop, the See being full, and the fruits and profits of the Church of Blockley, and threatened he would rather be sued for them than give them up, as the Chapter could by no means obtain a third part of them by virtue of the composition or otherwise, but with a moiety the auditor was satisfied, and the Prior held and retained a third part of the pension and profits of the Church of Blockley as the composition directs.

These indemnities were paid in this vacancy:

From the Church of Fairford5 marks
From the Church of Wolford4 marks


From the Church of Newbold Pacy20 shillings
From the Church of Dydebroke4 marks
From the Church of Powick4 marks
From the Church of Bideford4 marks
From the Church of Wickwar4 marks
From the Church of Tardebygge4 marks
From the Church of Waynes Wotton4 marks
From the Church of Clent20 shillings
From the Church of Bodmynton40 shillings
From the Abbot of Cirencester4 marks
From the Prior of Great Malvern40 shillings

These indemnities [l] are the same as those mentioned in the Register of the priory as due to the priory, and should not be taken into account in arriving at the figures 68. That figure, 68, represents the revenue for spiritualities for 4 months; it is about 16 a month, or at the rate of 192 a year. The previous accounts give 105 8s. 6d. for a year, 59 13s. 5d. for 15 months; the difculty in reconciling these figures seems insuperable. These accounts are misleading in one matter, the fees charged on letters dimissory; the total sum entered under that head is 4s. No letters dimissory are entered in the Register for the vacancy.

The final account [2] in the Register is that of the Prior for the issues and profits of the spiritualities of the Bishopric during the vacancy of the See from the death of Polton on the 22nd August, 1433, to the consecration of Bourchier, 15 May, 1435; the date of the account is the 5th May, or about 18 months.

s. d.
For the rent of the rectory of Blockley for the 7 terms falling in the account, each term 14s. 4d.5 0 4
For the tithes of corn of the Rectory25 6 8
30 7 0
For procurations of divers churches in the Archdeaconry of Gloucester by reason of visitations22 0 0
For procurations appropriate in the Archdeaconry of Worcester33 6 8
(sic)50 6 8

[1] See post, p. xxvii.
[2] p. 435.


s. d.
Pensions from divers churches in both Archdeaconries for two terms of Michaelmas33 14 0
Pensions of divers churches in the two Archdeaconries for two terms, of Lady Day each term 19 12s.39 4 0
From the Church of Quinton, pensions payable at Midsummer only13 4
73 11 4
Synodals for the Archdeaconry of Gloucester for two terms, each term 6 9s. 10d.12 19 8
Synodals for the Archdeaconry of Worcester, payable at Midsummer5 14 8
18 14 4
Pentecostals in Archdeaconry of Gloucester, one term5 8 0
For the Archdeaconry of Worcester nothing, as they belong to the Sacristan.
5 8 0
Institutions and other things by way of exchange15 10 0
From fines of wills and corrections4 0 0
Total203 0 0

The Prior asked for allowance for the procuration of churches, which he could not levy for various causes - payments to the Prior, scarceness of money, letters of Royal Protection and by other means detained, namely,-

s. d.
The Church of Langeberow1 6 8
Dudbrok1 6 8
Campden2 13 4
St. Mark's, Bristol1 6 8
Astley (It was in Lady Abergavenny's hands.)2 13 4
Wolford2 13 4
St. Sepulchre's, Warwick2 13 4
Wroxhale2 13 4
Alcester2 13 4
Stratford1 6 8
21 6 8


s. d.
Allowance for Synodals in the township of Fulbrook denied on account of poverty0 13 4
Part of the pension of the church of Down Ameney by reason of poverty, two terms0 13 4
22 13 4

So beyond the allowance there remains 178 10s.
There is allowed to the Prior one third, 60 2s. 2d.
The balance was paid to the Archbishop by four receipts amounting to 86 13s. 4d.
The rector of Avenyngge paid a third part of the fees on institution, 6s. 8d.
Hugh Palyser, the keeper of the prison, for his stipend, 1s. a week; for the year, 2 12s.; for 36 weeks, 1 16s.
For iron chains and other things for safe keeping the prison, 9s., making the total with allowance and deliveries, 174 12s. 6d.
The balance due to the Archbishop was 28 7s. 5d., which was paid and a receipt given.

In the entry as to wills in the account, there is a note that the small receipts are due less to the scarcity of wills, than because the court of the Marches of Wales by their ministers disturbed divers religious persons, as beneficed ecclesiastics, by their executions that such emoluments and profits were almost of no value. The court of the Welsh Marches, then lately instituted, claimed a vague jurisdiction over various matters and over a doubtful area. Bewdley was admittedly within the limits of its jurisdiction, but there are great doubts if any part of the east bank of the Severn was, and whether it was not confined to that part of the county of Worcester as lay within the Hereford diocese. Yet the court continually tried to bring the whole county into its jurisdiction, and to some extent succeeded. In Elizabeth's reign Whitgift was Bishop of Worcester, he was Vice-President of the court, when he so endeavoured to widen the area of its jurisdiction, that among the Worcestershire Sessions papers there are cases in the time of James I. of writs from this court removing cases from the Worcestershire Quarter Sessions to the court of the Lord Marchers at Ludlow. Here it is implied that the court exercised jurisdiction not only over Worcestershire but over Gloucestershire as well.


This account is the last there is in the Register. It does not help very much in arriving at a satisfactory conclusion as to what was the revenue of the See from spiritualities; from the last account it would seem to be about 10 a month, but as this was taken just before Midsummer, a good deal that was due was not payable till then. Thus there was only one payment of Synodals for the Worcester Archdeaconry instead of two.

A comparison of the accounts gives the following figures:

for 12 monthsfor 15 monthsfor 4 monthsfor 18 months
118 15s. 11d.59 13s. 5d.
68 10s. 6d.203 0s. 0d.

It may fairly be said that the gross income from Spiritualities varied from 12 to 15 a month in the money of that time. It is unfortunate that it is impossible to get the different items, such as the fees paid on ordination, the fees on proving wills. But it is clear that, having regard to the value of money, the fees must have been if they were fixed, which is doubtful, very high. Perhaps the best way to estimate the amount is to compare it with other sums, for instance, the tithes by Pope Nicholas' Valor for all the Spiritualities, that is the revenues of the benefices of the Archdeaconry of Worcester, amounted to almost the same sum as the revenue derived from fees by the Prior: the tithe was 207 0s. 4d., and the fees 203 0s. 0d. ; or in another way, the total sum the Worcester House received from Rectories and Pensions as an annual income is given in the Valor Ecclesiasticus as 332 10s. 5d., derived from 4 churches in the city and 9 in the county of Worcester.

In the Register of the Priory [1] of Worcester at the back of the title-page there is the following entry:

Indempnitates debits capitulo Wygornise sede vacante [2].

De ecclesia de Fayrefordx marc.
De ecclesia de Wolfordiiij marc.
De ecclesia de Newbold Pacyj marc.
De ecclesia de Dodebrokiiij marc.
De ecclesia de Powykiiij marc.
De ecclesia de Budefordiiij marc.

[1] Published by the Camden Society, 1865 edition, by Archdeacon Hale. [2] See ante, p, xxiii.


De ecclesia de Wycwoniiij marc.
De ecclesia de Terdebyggeiiij marc.
De ecclesia de Wavvennes Wottoniij marc.
De ecclesia de Clentxxs.
De ecclesia de Pyllardyntonvjs. viijd
De ecclesia de Badmyntonxis.
Procurationes debitae eidcm ecclesiae sede vacante ratione visitationis.
Abbata Cirencestriaeiiij marc.

Priori Majoris Malverne xls. quos ipse vel unus nomine suo infra xv dies post notam vacationem ponet super magnum altare.

This is followed by a long list of pensions payable yearly at different times, such as Lady Day, Midsummer, and Michaelmas, to the Worcester House. It suggests two things: (1) That the Prior received certain pensions on a vacancy in the See in his own right, not as part of the spiritualities of the See, and so was not bound to account for them; and, secondly, it also suggests by the mention of only two houses as paying procurations the idea that an attempt was made to enforce the Lincoln rule in the Worcester diocese; but that can hardly be so, as Malvern and Cirencester are not in the same but in different archdeaconries, and the Lincoln rule was two houses in each archdeaconry. Altogether, although the Sede Vacante Register gives a good deal of information on the monies received on a vacancy of the See, it leaves a number of points that require to be cleared up.

The taxes on the clergy and the different ways in which money was raised, by the Crown, by the Pope, and by the Church, are shewn by various entries in the Register.

A tithe for three years to be levied upon all religious persons [l] in England in aid of the Roman Church was payable in 1302. Richard de Gravesend, Bishop of London, was appointed collector, but his acting collector was one of the canons of St. Paul's, Bartholomew de Ferentino. An agent or sub-collector was appointed in each diocese; for Worcester the abbot of Gloucester. Ferentino wrote to him on the 7th May, 1302, stating that whereas he had ordered the collection of the tithes to be delayed, it was

[1] p. 5.


now to be proceeded with. Thereupon the abbot John de Carnages demanded from the Prior of Worcester the tithe of the temporalities of the Priory. It does not appear from the Register what the amount demanded was. From Pope Nicholas' Valor, upon which in all probability the assessment was made, the temporalities of the monastery were of an anuual value of 42 12s. 8d., and the tithe was 4 5s. 3d.

In 1288 [l] Pope Nicholas IV. granted to Edward I. a tenth of the profits of all ecclesiastical benefices for six years, towards the cost of an expedition to the Holy Land. In order to get as much as possible out of the grant, Edward, by writ to the bishops of Winchester and Lincoln, directed a taxation to be made of all ecclesiastical benefices in the kingdom. This taxation was begun in 1288, and finished as to the Province of Canterbury in 1291, and for the Province of York in 1292. From these dates until 1535, 26 Hen. VIII., all taxes raised on the clergy, whether levied by the King or by the Pope, were regulated by it. This taxation is usually called Pope Nicholas' Valor. In June, 1302, the accounts as to the levy had not been completed, and the Bishop of Lincoln being dead, the Dean of St. Paul's became the chief collector of the tax or obvention. The Prior of Worcester had been the local collector for the dioceses of Worcester and Lichfield, and he now appointed a Worcester monk, Gilbert de Maddelya, as his Proctor to settle matters with the Dean of St. Paul's.

The next instance is that of a very common custom in the Middle Ages. The monks of a house wanted money for some purpose connected with the house, and to raise it sent out some of their body to beg, or as it is put more politely, "to collect the alms of the faithful" for the purpose. The Hospital of St. Anthony in the diocese of Vienne being in need of money sent out collectors. The Archbishop of Canterbury approved of their mission, and the Prior as his officer for the diocese of Worcester ordered all abbots, priors, exempts or not exempts, archdeacons, deans, rectors, vicars, and chaplains of parish churches, and others to allow these monks to get what they could in the Worcester diocese [2].

The subject of these collections was by no means confined to objects abroad; local matters were also dealt with. In 1313 [3] the Prior wrote to all archdeacons, deans, and others throughout the

[1] p. 7.
[2] p. 12.
[3] p. 150.


diocese, that when the proctor for the Great Bridge over the Severn at Worcester, or his substitute, should come to beg the alms of the faithful, they be admitted kindly, and without contradiction, and whatever should be collected handed to them, and if any impede the proctor in collecting the alms of the faithful, that they be restrained by ecclesiastical censure and cited to appear before the Prior.

In 1302 [1], Pope Boniface VIII. directed a subsidy to be raised in England; the nuns of Churchill alleged to the collectors, the Bishop of London and Canon de Ferentino, they were too poor to pay; they had to get some evidence of this, and the Worcester Prior certified to the poverty of these religious women.

The Peter's Pence, which were collected by the Bishop, have already been mentioned [2]; they seem to have been an annual charge on the See, and disputes arose between the Bishop and the Pope as to whether the Bishop had settled up for what he received. In one case, that of Bishop Heminghale [3], the Pope's agent desired to seize the goods of the late Bishop, in order to satisfy the balance of Peter's Pence which he said were due to the Pope, and the seizure was only averted by the Bishop's goods having already been seized on the King's behalf.

In 1303 [4] the Archbishop of Canterbury (Robert Winchelsey) wrote to the Prior of Worcester as to a tenth which had been given to Edward I. towards the Scotch War. The Bishop of Worcester (Godfrey Giffard) had appointed one Robert de Sutton the collector of the tenth; the Prior and convent of Kenilworth alleged that they had paid Sutton [5] of the tithe and held his receipt, but although he had been repeatedly asked for it, he refused to pay it over. The Prior of Worcester was therefore ordered by the Archbishop to compel Sutton to pay it over, and if necessary to use ecclesiastical censure.

The continued imposition of taxes [6] seems at last to have produced a murmur, if not more. In 1302 the Abbot of Evesham wrote to the Worcester Prior that the King had issued an edict to tax the goods of temporal and ecclesiastical persons, which it was not lawful to pay, on account of the Apostolic prohibition, the ordinaries forbidding it, and excommunicating those paying. The Evesham abbot therefore requested the Prior's advice. The Prior

[1] p. 20.
[2] p. 33.
[3] p. 266.
[4] p. 46.
[5] p. 75.


did not fall into the trap; in his reply he says [l], "The higher prelates and other religious persons of the Province of Canterbury having refused to pay the fifteenth to the King, we have hitherto abstained from paying, and intend to abstain, until it seems expedient to do otherwise".

In 1307 [2], William Testa, Archdeacon of Arenns, and papal nuncio, wrote to the Prior ordering him to warn all ecclesiastical, religious and secular persons, chapters, colleges, and convents, exempt or not, in the City and Diocese of Worcester, to pay up their proxies due to the nuncio before the 30th November, under pain of interdict and excommunication.

In December, 1307, Edward II. sent a writ [3] to the Prior reciting that the prelates and clergy had presented him with one-fifteenth of their goods, and ordered the Prior to elect collectors in the Diocese of Worcester, so that the collectors may be able to pay over one moiety into the exchequer at Lady Day and the other at Midsummer. The Prior at once issued an order warning all abbots, priors, masters, and preceptors, exempt or not exempt, of whatever order they might be, and all rectors, vicars, portioners, and other of the clergy, to pay one moiety of the fifteenth granted to the King according to the taxation of the tithe now current at the Cathedral at Worcester before the 24th Feb., St. Matthias' Day, and appointed two of his monks, John de St. Briavel and John de Stratford, to collect it. This was in June; in March the Prior issued an order warning all those who had neglected to pay the moiety of the fifteenth to pay the same before the Sunday after the feast of St. Gregory. The King followed this up by a writ to the Prior, alleging that on account of the war with Scotland and other matters the collectors of the fifteenth should be warned effectually to collect the same if necessary by ecclesiastical censure, so that one moiety may be paid at Lady Day without difficulty or delay. The Prior made a return to the writ that he had warned the collectors to do as required under pain of excommunication, and also ordered the Archdeacon to excommunicate and lay under interdict the churches of those abbots, priors, and others who had not paid the fifteenth. This was followed by a letter from Walter Reynolds, the bishopelect of Worcester, July, 1308 [3], to the Prior empowering him to use ecclesiastical censure to compel the payment of the fifteenth. The

[1] p. 76.
[2] p. 83.
[3] p. 129.
[4] p. 131.


Prior, as collector, wrote to his sub-collectors [1] empowering them to collect, levy and take charge of the money of the fifteenth, and appointed them his attorneys and proctors for the purpose. In August the Prior wrote to the official [2] of the Worcester Archdeacon warning him that under pain of ecclesiastical censure the 2nd moiety of the fifteenth must be paid. This does not seem to have brought in all the arrears, for in November the Prior wrote the official of the Worcester Archdeacon, ordering him to publish the excommunication and lay under interdict the churches of those who had not paid the fifteenth. In December the Bishop wrote to his official, enclosing for execution a writ he has had from the King, which recited that the Prior had been ordered to appoint persons to collect the fifteenth, being the one granted to the King by the bishops and clergy at the Parliament at Northampton, and to pay the same on certain days long past, and as a large sum of the fifteenth was still in arrear, the King directed the collectors to be distrained by their benefices for the arrears. In Feb., 1308, the Prior followed this up by ordering the Archdeacon's official to publish with due solemnity the excommunication of those who had not paid the fifteenth. The Prior further issued a commission authorising John de Stratford to absolve in form of right those who had been excommunicated for not paying the fifteenth. Still the money for the tax did not come in, and in 1311 [3] a writ was received from the King to distrain the Prior and convent, the collectors of the fifteenth granted by the Clergy in the Parliament at Northampton, to appear before the Barons of the Exchequer and render an account of the fifteenth. This seems to have had its effect; on the morrow of St. Margaret the Virgin, one of the Worcester monks, John de Stratford, rendered an account of the fifteenth for the Diocese of Worcester before the Treasurer and Barons of the Exchequer. The total of the account was 490 12s. 2d.; he was allowed 10 for the trouble of collecting it, and this was entered on the great Roll of the Exchequer. This seems to have finished the dispute as to this fifteenth, but the account of it is of interest as an instance to shew how the payment of taxes was enforced in the I4th century, and the difficulties that arose in enforcing payment.

In 1313 [4] a tenth was ordered to be collected for six years. Walter Reynolds, the Bishop, who was the chief collector for his

[1] p. 130.
[2] p. 131.
[3] p. 132.
[4] p. 174.


diocese, appointed the Prior and convent of Worcester his subcollectors for the Archdeaconry of Worcester, and commanded them by virtue of their obedience to collect it. The reason for imposing the tenth was that at the Council of Vienne, in 1312, the Pope, Clement V., brought the state of Palestine before the Council. He says our Redeemer so loved Syon, that is to say, the Holy Land, that He chose it to Himself as an inheritance and patrimony, adorned it with His presence, being clothed in the apparel of our flesh, and consecrated it by the shedding of His most precious blood. It is to be grievously lamented and bewailed that it has become the property of aliens, confounded by the fury of the Babylonish persecutor, occupied by the most filthy Saracens. At this Council the Pope's entreaty was considered by the brothers of the Holy Roman Church, the cardinals, patriarchs, archbishop;, with other clergy, and Philip of France and Louis of Navarre, and many others, and it was determined to give a subsidy of one-tenth of all ecclesiastical rents and profits throughout the world, except only from the order of St. John of Jerusalem and other military orders, from January, 1302. The Pope therefore directed the tithe to be collected at certain fixed times under pain of ecclesiastical censure [l]. The Bishop of Worcester thereupon appointed the Prior to collect it, and the Prior in August ordered the official of the Archdeacon of Worcester to cite all ecclesiastical persons to appear at the Priory on the 15th September, the morrow of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, concerning the moiety of the said tithe for the first term of the year under pain, as to persons, of the greater excommunication, as to churches, of interdiction. This seems very awful, but it had not the desired effect, for it appears that many persons, at the peril of their souls, failed to attend. The official was therefore ordered to denounce them as excommunicated and their churches as under interdict until they received the benefit of absolution or were released from the interdict. The Prior went on collecting; in November, 1313, he received 133 6s. 4d. as part of the tithe from the Archdeaconry of Gloucester. The Bishop ordered the Prior to report within ten days after every term how much of the tenth he had got in. The Prior wrote that last term he got in 100s. [2] The Prior wrote again to the Bishop asking if the usual rule was in this

[1] p. 175.
[2] p. 176.


case to be followed, that persons with slender means taxed at 6 marks, or less, were to be excused payment. It does not appear how the Bishop decided this. The Prior required the collectors for the Gloucester Archdeaconry to pay over what they had collected for the present and preceding term, and also all arrears, and ordered the official of the Archdeacon of Worcester that although the greater part of the first year's tithe had been collected, yet as there were still arrears outstanding, and the collection of the tithe for the second year had been delayed for certain causes, the tithe and arrears were to be collected at once, and the money paid at the priory at Worcester on the morrow of St. Hilary, under pain of the greater excommunication, and that the persons mentioned in the order as not having paid were to be denounced as excommunicated [1]. This account of the attempt to collect money for the Holy Land and the difficulty of doing it, shews clearly that the enthusiasm for the Crusades had passed away. It appears that it was only by using all the combined power of excommunication and interdict that any money could be got in, and even with them there was the greatest difficulty. Clearly the Crusading spirit at the Council of Vienne differed greatly from that at the Council of Clermont.

In 1374 [2], Convocation granted the King a tenth of all ecclesiastical benefices in aid of the expense of the war and in defence of the Kingdom and Church of England. On the 20th March the King's writ went to the Prior ordering him to appoint collectors of this tenth; he accordingly appointed the Abbot of Pershore in the Archdeaconry of Worcester, and the Abbot of Cirencester in the Archdeaconry of Gloucester, on St. Vitalis' Day, 1374. The Abbot of Pershore acknowledged the receipt of the appointment.

In November, 1374 [3], there is a singular order from the Worcester Prior to the official of the Archdeacon of Worcester. It appears very like an attempt by the Worcester Prior to tax the clergy. The order directs the official to warn all ecclesiastical persons in his archdeaconry to pay a halfpenny on every mark of the value of their goods and benefices, and to call together the clergy of his archdeaconry in the church of St. Nicholas of Gloucester, and clearly

[1] p. 177.
[2] p. 305. Convocation was summoned by writ tested Oct. 4, 1373, to grant "a competent aid".
[3] p. 320.


make known to them the said mandate. It is curious that the Prior should have directed the Worcester official to cite his clergy to attend not only at a place where he had no jurisdiction, but also outside their own archdeaconry. It rather points to the fact that there must be some mistake in the entry.

Another form [l] of tax on the clergy were the contributions to the support of Papal Nuncii. In 1374 three high Spanish ecclesiastics, the Bishop of Pampeluna, the Bishop of Senigaglia, and the Provost of Valentinois, Nuncii of the Apostolic See, were sent to Flanders on account of certain matters concerning the prosperity of the Church. The Pope, Gregory XI, ordered the payment of 12 florins of gold a day to the Bishop of Pampeluna, and 6 florins of gold to each of the other two. The See of Canterbury was then vacant by the death of Archbishop Whittelsey, so the Prior and Chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury, took up the matter and ordered all ecclesiastical persons of the City and Diocese of Worcester to pay within 24 days one halfpenny on every mark of the value of their goods and benefices to the Rector of St. Gregory next St. Paul, London, and the Rector of St. Botolph, the receivers of the contribution. This order was issued on the 3rd September. In December of the same year another order was issued to levy a further farthing, as the Nuncii had stayed in Flanders longer than was expected. The Prior ordered the officials of the Archdeacon of Worcester and Gloucester to execute these orders of the Prior of Christ Church and make the levy [2]. But matters did not rest here; another Papal Nuncio, Pileus, Archbishop of Ravenna, was sent to France and England; an allowance of 12 florins a day was given him, so to provide for it a levy of another farthing in the pound of the value of the goods and benefices of ecclesiastical persons was ordered [2]. The three Nuncii in Flanders do not seem to have hastened their business, for in January, 1375, a further levy was ordered for them of a farthing in each mark of the value of the goods and benefices [2]. The Prior published the order of the Canterbury house, and sent by the Abbot of Winchcomb the money he had collected, but the receiver refused to take it unless all was paid at once and in one sum [3].

In February, 1374/5, a writ from the King came to the Prior

[1] p. 322.
[2] p. 323.
[3] p. 325.
[4] p. 329.


ordering the levy of the arrears of the tenth granted to the King by the clergy in 1374, which were the following:

s. d.
From the Church of St. Stephen, Bristol0 5 0
From the procuration of the Abbot of Galston'0 1 0
From the Church of St. Michael, Bristol0 3 4
From the Church of Filton0 5 0
From the Church of Olveston1 4 0
From the Church of Rokhampton0 6 2
For the portion of the vicarage of Berkely0 12 8
From the Church of Frompton0 10 0
From the Church of Dodynton0 7 4
From the Church of Buttone1 7 4
From the Church of East Mitton1 2 4
From the Church of Eggworth0 6 4
From the Church of Stoke Giffard0 13 4
From the Church of Aston Magna16 0
From the prebend of Richard Michel in the Church of Westbury6 8

or a total of 6 5s. 8d., a large sum if the value of money then and now is taken into account.

It does not appear that all these demands, even when accompanied by the threats of interdict and excommunication, made people pay, so the Prior had to proceed to extremities. He directed the Dean of Bristol to denounce as excommunicated the persons who had not paid the procuration for divers Nuncii of the Pope, and ordered the Dean to take the ecclesiastical fruits of their livings, to pay the amount of the procuration, and to satisfy the Prior of the same on the morrow of the Assumption in the Cathedral Church of Worcester [1]. What further took place does not appear.

In 1375 [2] tne Archbishop of Canterbury ordered the Prior of Worcester to levy procurations for Pileus, Archbishop of Ravenna, and William, Bishop of Carpentras, Papal Nuncii to the Kingdom of England and France. The Prior promptly ordered the official of the Gloucester Archdeacon to execute the mandate. He also certified the Archbishop of its receipt, and informed him that there were some alien priories in his Diocese on which nothing could be levied as they were in the King's hands.

[1] p. 349.
[2] p. 351.


In 1359, there was a further levy [1]. Bartholomew de Navarre, advocate of the Apostolic Consistory, came to England upon the business of the Pope and the Roman Church. The Pope ordered the ecclesiastics to provide for his necessities, and to do this the Archbishop ordered a halfpenny in the pound to be levied by way of a subsidy.

In 1395, Convocation granted the Crown a tenth, but excepted out of the grant poor nuns and religious women of any order [2]. Richard II. ordered the Prior to collect the tenth, and the Prior in May appointed the Abbot of Bordesley to collect for the Worcester Archdeaconry, and the Abbot of Hayles for the Gloucester Archdeaconry. Both the abbots were Cistercians. The Prior certified the Treasurer and Baron of the Exchequer of the appointment.

In 1401, the Archbishop ordered the Prior of Worcester and the Archdeacon of Gloucester to levy and collect certain pensions from divers persons during the vacancy of the See, and if necessary to compel the person to pay under canonical censure [3].

In 1419, the official of the Archbishop ordered by proclamation [4] all Rectors, Vicars, Chaplains, having cures and not having cures, notaries public and clerks whatever, throughout the Province of Canterbury, to pay all procurations, pensions, portions and other rights and emoluments due during the vacancy of the See of Worcester to the churches of Canterbury and Worcester to the Prior of Worcester under pain of excommunication.

This account of the taxation of the diocese for both imperial and ecclesiastical purposes enables us to understand, better than any number of theological treatises, how it was that the English were so ready for the Reformation. It was bad enough to pay imperial taxes, it was bad enough to pay money for local purposes, but to have to support any Roman officials who came to this country or to France or Flanders, must have stirred the English wrath against ecclesiastical taxation. The wonderful thing is the length of time the English submitted to these demands. Taxation implied representation. There are several entries in the Register relating to the summons of representatives of the clergy to Convocation, and in some cases, as in 1338, to Parliament.

[1] p. 358.
[2] p. 360.
[3] p. 386.
[4] p. 404.


The first is the record of the appointment, in 1301 [1], by the convent of Worcester of A. de B. as their proctor at the convocation of prelates and clerks to be held before the Archbishop of Canterbury in the church of St. Paul's, London, on the Sunday on which is sung Latare Jerosulyma [2].

In 1302 [3], the Bishop of London wrote to the keeper of the spiritualities of Worcester reciting a letter from the Archbishop, dated Mortlake, April, 1302, commanding the Bishop to summon all deans, precentors, chancellors, treasurers, archdeacons, priors of cathedral churches in all dioceses in the Province of Canterbury, and other clerics, to appear by two proctors, except Welsh Chapters, which were to appear by one, at the New Temple, London, on the morrow of the Ascension to consult upon divers matters.

It is not quite clear what this assembly was. It was clearly not a Parliament, and it does not seem to have been a Convocation the writ is not in the usual form of a writ of summons to Convocation; it would rather appear as if it was a special summons by the Bishop of London, at the Archbishop's direction, to the clergy to attend an ecclesiastical council to debate on ecclesiastical matters, and had nothing whatever to do with the crown or government.

In 1338, the Prior and Archdeacons of Worcester were summoned to appear personally at a parliament to be held at Westminster [4] on June, 1339, the morrow of St. Hilary. The writ summoning them directed their personal appearance, and ordered the Chapter of Worcester to appear by one proctor and the clergy by two proctors.

This was the parliament called when Edward III. began his French war, when he was about to undertake "guerram fortissimam" and incur "profluvium expensarum". It was attended by "the Cardinals sent by the Pope". On receipt of the writ [5], the Prior ordered the official of the Archdeacon of Worcester to cite the Archdeacon to be present at the parliament, it is here said to be held on the morrow of the Purification, as it was, not on the morrow of St. Hilary, and to cite the clergy of the Archdeaconry of Worcester to assemble at the cathedral church to elect two proctors to be sent for them to the said parliament. So far as the Register goes, there

[1] p. 6.
[2] This occurs on the 4th Sunday after Quadragesima. See Westminster Missal, I. 180. Henry Bradshaw Society.
[3] p. 74.
[4] p. 258.
[5] p. 266.


docs not appear to have been any direction to the Archdeacon of Gloucester to attend Parliament, nor for the clergy of that archdeaconry to elect proctors. If the object was to spread the net so as to make the area of taxation as wide as possible, it is difficult to see why only the Worcester Archdeacon, the Worcester Chapter, and the Worcester Archdeaconry should be represented, and the larger area of the Gloucester Archdeaconry omitted. But here, as in some other cases, it may be that in rebinding or otherwise some of the documents making up the Register have been lost.

One of the most important parts of the Prior's duty during his administration of the spiritualities on the vacancy of the See, was that which related to the provision of a due supply of persons qualified to exercise sacerdotal functions in the diocese. Here, as elsewhere, the question of money arises, because it is clear that the Prior had to pay the Bishop who conferred Holy Orders, and the Prior received fees from the applicants for orders, or for letters dimissory, and for institution. There is a good deal on these points that requires further light, but this Register proves that certainly in one case the Prior procured a Bishop to execute episcopal functions at a fixed charge, and that the fees payable over and above what the Prior agreed to pay the Bishop went to the Prior as part of the spiritualities. This is clear from some entries in 1395. On the previous vacancy in 1374 the Bishop employed had been the Bishop of Pressinensis; on the death of Bishop Wakefield, in 1395, William, Bishop of Faro, was engaged. In the Register there is no mention of a general commission to the Bishop of Pressinensis, but he seems'to have had a special commission made out for him whenever any act arose for which he was required, e.g. conferring orders or reconciling churches. But in the case of the Bishop of Faro a different course was followed, at first he had only a special commission to ordain and confirm. Then it would seem that an arrangement was made between him and the Prior, and a general commission [1] authorizing him to dedicate churches and churchyards, to reconcile the same if polluted; to consecrate altars, bless chalices, vestments and other ecclesiastical ornaments; celebrate orders as well the greater and the lesser at due times; to confirm boys and bestow the gift of benediction upon abbots; to consecrate virgins, and do such other things as

[1] p. 356.


should be exercised by the episcopal order, was issued to him. This commission is dated the 28th March, 1395. On the same day a formal deed was executed between the Prior and the Bishop, whereby, in consideration of the Prior having granted to the Bishop power to exercise episcopal rights within the city and diocese of Worcester during the vacancy of the See, it was agreed that out of the fee due for reconciling any church the Bishop should receive 20s. The Bishop agreed not to reconcile any church or churchyard unless security was given for 100s. beforehand. For celebrating orders at a fixed day and place, the Bishop was to receive 20s.; the Prior the rest. For consecrating altars a third of the fee, the Bishop agreeing that he would never charge less than 6s. 8d. The Bishop agreed to go round the diocese and confirm boys at the Prior's cost, but of three horses only, and that he would account to the Prior for all fees and emoluments received. From this document it is clear that the Bishop got merely a share of the fees and the Prior the rest. It would also seem that the Bishop was not over well paid; the fee for reconciling a churchyard was 100s., but the Bishop only got 20s. If the rule was 20 per cent, on the gross takings, in other matters as well as in this, the Prior did not make a bad bargain with this bishop. The arrangement seems to prove that the Prior tried to reduce the outgoings for bishops' fee to the lowest possible limit.

That the fees payable on ordination, letters dimissory, and institution to benefices were one of the great sources of revenue during the vacancy of the See is plain from the Register being so full of entries as to them. The story of the negotiations with different bishops to perform episcopal functions in the diocese during a vacancy, as told in the Register, is very interesting and instructive. The first case occurred in 1302; the then Prior, John de Wyke, wrote to the Bishop of Landaff (John of Monmouth) asking if he would ordain at Worcester on the Sunday on which is sung Scientes [1]. To this the Bishop replied he was willing to do what they asked, if it could be done without prejudice to any one, but the document shewing the Prior's authority to invite bishops was not signed, and he thinks it might be an interference with the rights of the Bishop to be elected. Probably Landaff was chosen

[1] p. 79. "Scientes" occurs in the office for Advent Sunday.


as being one of the adjoining dioceses. The system of bishops in partibus, consecrated to help diocesan bishops, and who were available wherever a bishop was needed, a system which became so common after the middle of the 14th century, had hardly come into use at the beginning of that century. It is not easy to say why the Bishop of Landaff should be selected instead of Hereford or Lichfield, unless on the score of economy on the idea he might possibly charge less. Further letters passed, the Bishop consented to act if it pleased the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Prior replied that the Bishop's expenses would be paid, and that the consent of the Archbishop was not wanted. So far as money went the Bishop was satisfied; he wrote he would be at Worcester at the time mentioned, but as he did not like to offend the Archbishop, he had without prejudice to the Prior's rights consulted with him [l]. Finding that the Archbishop had no objection, the Bishop wrote again to say, that understanding it was the wish of the Archbishop he would come to perform ordinations at Worcester ad proximum diem quatuor temporum [2]. The Prior acknowledged the receipt of the letter, and ordered the two Archdeacons of Worcester and Gloucester to cite all rectors and vicars who had not received the orders the cure of their benefice required, to come and be ordained. The result was, that no less than 249 persons attended, and received orders; for some reasons no acolytes were ordained, only sub-deacons, deacons, and priests.

The Bishop of Landaff does not appear to have ordained again during any vacancy of the See, although he did so in 1308 [3], in the place of Bishop Reynolds, in the Church of the Friars Minors at Gloucester. Why the Bishop of Llandaff was not employed to ordain at the next vacancy when Reynolds was translated to Canterbury it is hard to say, unless it was money; some negotiation seems to have gone on with him. In his place an Irish suffragan Bishop, Gilbert of Enaghdun (Enachdunensis), who also acted as suffragan of Winchester [3] was selected; unfortunately there is no correspondence or anything to shew the terms of his engagement. He held an ordination in Lent, 1313, and ordained 370 persons, 77 acolytes, 132 sub-deacons, 82 deacons, and 79 priests.

The Register contains no further record of any ordination until 1373, when a Bishop in partibus, Robert of Presstnensis, who had

[1] p. 15.
[2] p. 18.
[3] p. 153.


been a suffragan at Hereford, by license and commission of the Prior held an ordination in the first week of Lent; at this ordination 130 persons, 36 acolytes, 39 sub-deacons, 27 deacons, and 28 priests, were ordained [l].

The same Bishop held another ordination in the Lent of 1374, when he ordained 141 persons, and also 22 clerks of first tonsure, 63 acolytes, 29 sub-deacons, 24 deacons, and 25 priests [2]; and another in June, 1375, when 75 persons, u acolytes, 22 sub-deacons, 20 deacons, and 22 priests, were ordained [3].

No further ordination is recorded until 1395, when the Prior employed a William Northbrugge, Bishop of Faro (Pharensis), who had acted as suffragan in the adjoining Diocese of Lichfield. He only ordained 8 persons, 1 acolyte, 2 sub-deacons, 3 deacons, and 2 priests. But as has been stated, the engagement of the Bishop is very important, as the terms on which he agreed to act are entered in the Register [4] in the simoniacal arrangement already mentioned, a document which shews clearly the relations between Prior and Bishop during the vacancy of the See, and probably furnishes the reason why it was that suffragans were usually employed by the Prior to exercise episcopal functions; that they were glad to get work and ready to do it at a lower rate than any English Bishop, even if any English Bishop would have been party to such an arrangement as to hire himself out to consecrate altars and reconcile churches, and at so much a piece, provided he did not go below a fixed minimum, to confer orders at so much a day; to confirm on being supplied with horses to go round the diocese.

In September, 1401, the next ordination is recorded in the Register [5]. The Prior this time had a suffragan ready to hand, Nicholas, Abbot of Pershore; he was something of a pluralist. He held with his abbacy the Rectories of Beoley and Belbroughton, as well as being suffragan Bishop of Dunkeld, and he was the person the Prior specially commissioned to celebrate orders. Unfortunately there is no memorandum as to the terms on which he acted. On this occasion 50 persons, namely, 8 acolytes, 13 sub-deacons, 8 deacons, and 21 priests, were ordained. The Bishop of Dunkeld held another ordination in 1419, when he ordained 14 acolytes, 7 sub-deacons, 6 deacons, and 9 priests, a total of 36 persons [6]. Another at Easter, of the same year, when he ordained 36 persons,

[1] p. 294.
[2] p. 330.
[3] p. 340.
[4] p. 356.
[5] p. 374.
[6] p. 391.


3 acolytes, 5 sub-deacons, 15 deacons, and 13 priests [1]; and another at Trinity, 1419, when 22 persons were ordained: 3 acolytes, 4 sub-deacons, 6 deacons, and 9 priests [2].

The next ordination the Register records is in 1433, when John Fordham, the Prior of Worcester, authorised another suffragan, the Bishop of Emly, to celebrate orders. Emly (Imelacensis) is an ancient Irish Bishoprick; but this Bishop, Robert Windel, seems to have acted almost permanently as a suffragan in England. He was at Norwich in 1424, Salisbury from 1435 to 1441, and Worcester in 1433. Although there is no memorandum stating the precise terms on which he was employed, they were probably favourable, as he acted on several occasions, and held a general, not a special, commission from the Prior in terms similar to those in the Commission given to the Bishop of Faro. At his first ordination in 1433, the Bishop of Emly ordained 25 persons, 8 acolytes, 8 sub-deacons, 5 deacons, and 4 priests [3]. He ordained again at Lent 37 persons, 5 acolytes, 13 sub-deacons, 9 deacons, and 10 priests [4]. At his next ordination, 32 persons were ordained, 4 acolytes, 6 sub-deacons, 13 deacons, and 9 priests [5]. He held another ordination at Easter, 1434, when he ordained 1 acolyte, 4 sub-deacons, 2 deacons, and 7 priests, or 14 persons [6]. Another at Trinity, 1434, when he ordained 4 acolytes, 2 sub-deacons, 1 deacon, and 3 priests, or 10 persons [7]. He ordained again in September, 28 persons, 2 acolytes, 9 sub-deacons, 9 deacons, and 8 priests [8], and he held the last ordination recorded in this Register at Christmas, 1434, when he ordained 24 persons, 8 acolytes, 2 sub-deacons, 9 deacons, and 5 priests [9]. All the ordinations that the Bishop of Emly celebrated were held at the Cathedral in the Chapel of the carnarie. This part of the Cathedral has long ago been destroyed, but although there are frequent references to the chapel in various documents, this seems to be the earliest that gives any idea of its size and importance. A chapel in which 30 persons would be ordained is a far larger building than the usual accounts give of the Charnel House, or carnarie of Worcester. Why the Prior specially at this time selected it for this purpose does not appear, but there must have been some special reason why all the ordinations were celebrated in the Charnel House Chapel, within the churchyard of the Cathedral.

[1] p. 393.
[2] p. 401.
[3] p. 417.
[4] p. 419.
[5] p. 438.
[6] p. 440.
[7] p. 443.
[8] p. 441.
[9] p. 444.


The following Table shews the Ordinations in the Register, the number ordained at each, and the orders to which they were ordained:

Bishop of Llandaff
p. 22
Giffard to Ginsborough
Ginsborough to Reynolds
Bishop of Enaghdun
p. 153
Reynolds to Maydeston
Maydeston to Cobham
Cobham to Orleton
Orleton to Montacute
Montacute to Heminghale
Heminghale to Bransford
Bransford to Thoresby
Thoresby to Brian
Brian to Barnet
Barnet to Whittelsey
Whittelsey to Lynn


Bishop of Pressinen'Lynn to Wakefield
" p. 29436392728130
" p. 33063292425141
" p. 3401122202275
Bishop of Faro
p. 355
Wakefield to Winchcomb
Mar. to Aug.
Bishop of Dunkeld
" p. 374
Winchcomb to Clifford
Clifford to Peverell
21 Oct. to 21 Nov.
" p. 391Peverell to Morgan
" p. 39335151336
" p. 401346922
Morgan to Polton
Bishop of EmlyPolton to Bourchier
" p. 417885425
" p. 41951391037
" p. 4384613932
" p. 440142714
" p. 441299828
" p. 443421310
" p. 444829524

These records of ordinations are clearly incomplete. Other ordinations, it appears, were held, the particulars of which have not survived, but the Register raises another question whether in some of the vacancies, as in that between the death of Bransford in 1349 and the translation of Thoresby in 1350 when there is no record of any ordination being held in the diocese, another mode was not used for obtaining ordination for candidates by granting letters dimissory? There is, on this occasion, the entry of grants of a very large number of letters dimissory [1] for the

[1] p. 247


different orders - so large that it would seem that instead of holding an ordination the Prior substituted letters dimissory. That there was a fee payable on the issue of these letters is clear, for it forms one of the items in the Prior's accounts with the See of Canterbury, but it does not appear what the fee was. Can it be that having regard to the pecuniary interests of his Chapter the Prior found it more profitable not to hold ordinations but to issue letters dimissory, and so get the whole of the fees, instead of engaging a bishop to hold an ordination, who was paid out of the fees, leaving the Prior with only the balance ? It seems fairly clear that letters dimissory were in this case used as a substitute for ordination, but it is difficult to say why, as if the pecuniary view is the right one, why was it not employed by some other Prior ?

It may be that when a Bishop could be had on such reasonable terms as the Bishop of Faro, it was better and more profitable to hold ordinations, but if this could not be done it was more profitable to issue letters dimissory.

In order to get a fair view of this matter it will be well to consider the number of Persons ordained, the number of Letters Dimissory on each vacancy, and the number of Institutions. This is attempted in the following Table:

Bishops.Number Ordained.Number of Letters Dimissory.Institutions.
Giffard to Gainsborough249627
Gainsborough to ReynoldsNo record219
Reynolds to Maydeston370816
Maydeston to CobhamNo record2014
Cobham to Orleton"No recordNo record
Orleton to Montacute"""
Montacute to Heminghale"""
Heminghale to Bransford"28
Bransford to Thoresby"17396
Thoresby to Brian"88
Brian to Barnet"058
Barnet to Whittelsey"410
Whittelsey to Lynn"
Lynn to Wakefield34519591
Wakefield to Winchcomb8028
Winchcomb to Clifford501214
Clifford to Peverell010
Peverell to Morgan942213
Morgan to PoltonNo recordNo recordNo record
Polton to Bourchier1814285


From this every one can draw his own conclusions; it does not, however, quite answer the question as to whether ordinations or letters dimissory were most profitable to the Prior, for in the ordinations, especially in the later ones, at Worcester a number of persons were ordained who had letters dimissory from other dioceses. Unless ordinations were held the fees for these would be lost to the Prior, and the ordinations may, as was the case, have been more frequent in order to catch these strangers.

The lists of persons on whom orders were conferred at these different ordinations deserve most careful study, as they throw a good deal of light on the social position and character of the clergy, and the changes that took place between the beginning of the I4th and the middle of the isth centuries. The first ordination here recorded is in 1302, the last in 1434. Between those dates it seems from this Register that the English clergy had undergone an entire change in their social status. In the first list the majority of the clergy were ordained to the title of their patrimony, that is, they had sufficient property to keep themselves. It was the exception for either a person who belonged to a religious order, or for a person who had to rely on any one else for a title, to be ordained. If the Bishop ordained a person not having sufficient to support himself, the Bishop had to keep him [1]; probably this rule did not apply to a Bishop ordaining when the See was vacant, or if it did, the Bishop might possibly have insisted upon the Prior undertaking the maintenance of those ordained at the Prior's request. It may also be a reason why suffragan Bishops were so largely employed to ordain during vacancies of the Sees, as they would have nothing wherewith to satisfy such liability if it arose. The record of the first ordination out of 249 persons ordained gives 35 who were ordained to the title of patrimony, that is, were able to keep themselves, and several of them were sworn to the fact that they had such patrimony. Some were ordained to a yearly rent, one to a yearly rent of 5 marks, which seems to be about the lowest sum upon which a person would be ordained. Some are said to be ordained to a sufficient title, others to a competent title. One is said to be ordained to the title of two virgates of land. One said to be ordained to the title of the Chapel of Cirencester [2], another to the title of the parish of Lechlade, another to a title

[1] Decree of Lateran Council, 1179.
[2] p. 23.


of a pensionary. The impression left on the mind after reading this list is, that the men who composed it were drawn from what we should now call the yeoman class, what would then probably be the free tenants; men having a bare competency, but nothing more. But the most instructive part of the list is the fact that the number of secular clergy so largely preponderates over the regular; Landaff, Llanthony, Lechlade, Malmesbury, and Worcester are the only names of religious houses whose monks were ordained among the sub-deacons. The titles to orders are only given with the sub-deacons; the subsequent bestowal of superior orders is not supposed to necessitate any further title than the person had when first ordained. One of the deacons is said to be a monk of Worcester; one of the priests to belong to the Hospital of St. Wolstan, Worcester, but with these exceptions we are told nothing at all about them. The clergy from this list were what we should expect them to be, drawn from the middle classes.

Eleven years elapsed to 1313 before the next list [1]. Here 370 persons were ordained, and it is from the sub-deacons again that anything is to be learnt as to the class of men; here the same state of things prevails as in 1302, but it may be the men are slightly better off. When the value of the patrimony on which a man is ordained is stated it is usually 40s. It will be remembered that long afterwards this was the sum fixed on as the qualification to entitle a man to vote for a member of Parliament [2]. The amount of rents, however, varies from 30 to 50s. Out of the 84 subdeacons the lowest is the case of Lucas Cosyn, who was ordained to a patrimony of 2 marks, of which he gave particulars, and stated himself satisfied therewith. Although the sub-deacons are divided into two classes, sub-deacons and sub-deacons of religious orders, yet in the first there are some that are evidently connected with religious houses or ordained on their titles; for instance, one John Partrich is on the presentation of the Worcester Priory, another from the abbot and convent of Alcester, and a third from the house of the Holy Trinity, Telefford, a fourth from the priory of Cricklade. A large number of the candidates had their qualifications attested by the seal of the Archdeacon of Worcester. The sub-deacons of the religious orders consist of 3 Worcester, and 3 Llanthony monks, 2 Cistercians from Bordesley, 1 Minorite and

[1] p. 153.
[2] Stat.


1 Carmelite Friar. This is the first trace of the Friars in this Register. There is also a second batch of secular sub-deacons with all their patrimony and titles set out, but there is nothing to distinguish it from the preceding one. In the list of deacons the title is given, the majority being ordained on titles of patrimony. There are a considerable number, far more than in the preceding list., of persons connected with monasteries, and it would seem persons from all parts of this and other dioceses, Coldnorton, St. Bartholomew, Gloucester, Lechlade, Cyrencester, Cricklade, Alcester, Evesham, St. Frideswyde, were included. The titles of the priests are also given; here again the chief one is patrimony. No title is given in the case of the acolytes. On the whole the persons ordained at this ordination, while apparently of about the same social standing as those at the previous ordination, appear to be slightly better off than those whose ordination was previously recorded.

An interval of over 50 years took place before the next ordination, Lent, 1373 [1]. The priests were then divided into religious and seculars. The religious were 5 in number, a monk of Winchcombe, 2 of Alcester, 1 of the Augustine canons of Wych, and a Minor Friar. But among the seculars there were a large number who were connected with monasteries; out of no less than 24, 20 were either nominated by a monastic official or ordained to a monastic title. The same thinog is observable amonsor the deacons, but to a greater extent, as almost all the 26, except 2 Minorites and 1 Friar Preacher, are ordained either to monastic titles or by letters from monasteries. Among the subdeacons the same thing is observable, of the acolytes, two were of the order of Friars Preachers, nothing is told us of the rest. The great change, therefore, that these 50 years shew, if it is fair to judge by the record of this ordination, is the way the secular clergy were disappearing before the monastic, who almost monopolized the ordination. It may or may not have been a good and desirable thing to have taken place, but it is clear that so far as the clergy were concerned these lists shew that the monastic clergy were becoming more and more numerous. This fact should be borne in mind as it is opposed to the usually expressed ideas. We are told that for centuries before the Reformation the monasteries were sinking into decay, becoming less and less active, more and more the nests

[1] p. 294.


of drones and idlers; but these ordination lists go to prove the contrary, to shew that in the I4th century one of the great features of the clerical life was the increase of the number of clergy connected with monasteries, the decrease of those who were not.

In the next year, 1374 [1], the same thing is found at the Lent ordination; out of 25 priests, 7 were avowedly monks, 1 Franciscan, 3 Cistercians, a canon and 2 Benedictines; of the other 18, 15 were ordained to monastic titles; one was the rector of a church, one had the title of patrimony, and the remaining one is not said to have had any title at all. Out of 25 deacons, 7 were avowedly religious and 15 were ordained to religious titles. Of the 29 subdeacons, 9 were admittedly monks, 16 had monastic titles. Out of 63 acolytes, 10 belonged to the class, religious.

The ordination at Trinity, 1375 [2], gives the same results. Out of 22 priests, 5 were religious and 16 were ordained to monastic titles. Of 20 deacons, 9 were religious and 10 ordained to monastic titles. Out of 22 sub-deacons, 14 were avowedly religious and 7 ordained to monastic titles. Out of n acolytes two were Friars Preachers, and two canons of Llanthony.

In 1395 [3], out of 8 persons ordained priests, deacons, subdeacons, and an acolyte, all, with two exceptions, were ordained to monastic titles. The acolyte's title is not given. The other, a priest, was ordained to the title of a lay lord.

In 1401 [4], in September, 21 priests were ordained. 12 were avowedly religious, 8 of the remaining 9 were to monastic titles, only one to his patrimony. Out of the 8 deacons, 4 were re- Jigious, one of the seculars ordained by letters dismissory had the title of his patrimony, the rest were to monastic titles. All the 13 sub-deacons, though described as seculars, were ordained to monastic titles. Out of the 8 acolytes 3 were Minorites.

In 1419 [5] there were 33 persons ordained. One of the acolytes was of the order of Friars Preachers; no description is given of the other 13; of the remainder, one priest was ordained to the title of his benefice, but all the others to monastic titles.

At Easter, 1419 [6], of the 3 secular acolytes, one was a Cistercian monk. Of the 5 religious deacons, 4 were Cistercians and one a Benedictine. One of the secular sub-deacons was a Cistercian

[1] p. 330.
[3] p. 355.
[4] p. 374.
[5] p. 391.
[6] p. 393.


and the remainder were all ordained to monastic titles. Of the 9 secular deacons all had monastic titles but one, and he was a fellow of Oriel ordained to the title of the College. Of the 13 priests, one was a monk of Bury St. Edmund's, and 7 had monastic titles. At Trinity, 1419 [l], 22 persons were ordained. 3 were said to be secular acolytes, all the others were either monks or were ordained to monastic titles.

At Christmas, 1433 [2], 25 persons were ordained; 6 were avowedly religious. The secular acolytes are only described as having had the first tonsure; of the rest all but one, who was ordained as Rector of Madresfield, were to monastic titles.

At the Lent ordination 40 were ordained. Nothing is said about the one secular acolyte. One secular sub-deacon was ordained to the lay title of rector of the Parish Church of Madresfield [3]. Two deacons were ordained to lay titles, all the rest were either ordained as monks or to monastic titles.

The next ordination [4] gives the same results. 32 persons were ordained; the lay titles, including the cases where no title is mentioned, are only 6, and several of these are cases where sub-deacons ordained to full lay titles had become deacons, and deacons priests.

Easter, 1434 [5], tells the same story. The title of the one acolyte with the first tonsure is not given. But he and the Priest who ordained to the title of the Lord of Larkestoke are the only lay titles out of the 14 persons ordained.

In September, 1434 [6], the two acolytes are not described, but all the other persons ordained were either monks or ordained to religious titles. So at the Whitsun [7] ordination the acolytes have all the first tonsure. All the others are monks or ordained to monastic titles. No lay title appears.

The last ordination in the Register is Christmas, 1434 [8]; 24 persons are ordained; 8 are acolytes with no titles; of the remaining 16 a sub-deacon is ordained to the only lay title, that of his benefice, the others are all monks or ordained to monastic titles. This record of ordinations, therefore, points clearly to the conclusion already stated. At the beginning of the 14th century the

[1] p. 401.
[2] p. 417.
[3] p. 419.
[4] p. 438.
[5] p. 440.
[6] p. 441.
[7] p. 443.
[8] p. 444.


vast majority of persons who took orders were ordained to lay titles; during that century the number of persons ordained to lay titles fell off, until at its close it was the exception to find any one ordained to such a title. Little by little the persons who were ordained were either monks or else were ordained to monastic titles, such as the title of the Prior of A. or the Abbot of iB. It follows, that at least in the Worcester Diocese the clergy were becoming more and more identified with, or under the influence of, the monasteries; the whole of the religious life of the diocese was becoming under the control of the monasteries. Whether this was or was not a good thing is a point on which there may be great differences of opinion, which it is not necessary to consider; here only the fact has to be emphasised that the monastic bodies killed the independence of the parochial clergy. Whether this was from benefices being more and more appropriated to the monasteries, or from some other cause, is a matter of doubt. The patronage of the benefices mentioned in the Register, while it shews a large number of livings in the hands of the monasteries, also shews a large number in lay hands, and it is a matter of uncertainty where the clergy were ordained who held the benefices that were in lay patronage. It may be that after the French War and the Wars of the Roses the number of men available for orders was greatly diminished, and that the monasteries got the first call, through their tenants, on such as there were. Various other reasons can be put forward, all more or less plausible. It is, however, enough here to state that the Worcester Register shews that within a century of the Reformation the monks and the clergy connected with the monasteries had quite supplanted the parochial clergy ordained to other than monastic titles.

This increase of the power of the Monasteries makes it important to consider the subject that occupies the greatest space in the Register, Institutions. On each of the vacancies a certain number of them are recorded; they are of importance as shewing to whom the ecclesiastical patronage in the country belonged. As would be expected, a very large part was in the hands of the religious houses, they and the Crown, to a great extent, monopolized it. It is curious to find that so little was in the hands of bishops and other ecclesiastical dignitaries. A Table is appended to this Introduction shewing the Patrons of the different


benefices mentioned in the Register, distinguishing those of which the patrons were laymen, and those of which the patrons were ecclesiastics.

To give the results concisely, the following Table is prepared to shew the Number of Institutions on each Vacancy and the Patronage of each:

Vacancy.Number of Institutions.Lay Patrons.Ecclesiastical.
III.Oct., 1314-April, 131418108
IV.March to Nov. 131713112
V.1327No record
VIII.Dec., 1338-April, 1339
XII.April, 1364-July, 1364
XV.March to Aug. 1395
XVI.June to Oct. 1401936
XVII.Oct. to Nov. 14071028
XIX.1426No record

Judged by these figures, the proportion seems to be on the side of the lay rather than the ecclesiastical patron. The table, however, only gives one view of the case; it shews that the appropriation of the churches was no longer going on, and possibly that those who were ordained to any monastic title were required for other duties than serving a parish church. The general drift of ecclesiastical patronage was from laymen to ecclesiastics, but it had not proceeded so far as to be seen in any very startling way, nothing that bore any proportion to the change that had taken place in the title of those ordained.

After ordinations and institutions, the greater part of the Register is taken up with details of Visitations. It is hardy to


be wondered that there was considerable jealousy among the great Benedictine Houses at having the head of a neighbouring Benedictine house not more important nor more powerful, even if it was as important and powerful as themselves, visiting their houses, inquiring into the details of their management, rinding out their weak places and laying down rules for their reform; other religious orders might possibly not resent so much the visits of the Worcester Prior,' but that Benedictine houses, which had undergone the visitation of the general Chapter of the Benedictine Order, had satisfied the abbots of Malmesbury and Westminster, had appeared to the Bishop of Worcester all that could be desired, should be asked to submit to the orders of the Prior of another Benedictine House was too vexatious. It is not to be wondered that they resisted. The wonderful thing is that the Worcester Prior was able to overcome the resistance, so as at last to make the visitation merely a formal matter. It must also be borne in mind that a visitation was for the monastery visited a somewhat costly proceeding; besides the payments to the visitors, they and their suite had to be entertained, and the house might well grudge the cost when they knew that the object of the visitation was merely the Prior's pride, to shew his power to increase his income.

As soon as the Prior obtained the Archbishop's commission to administer the spiritualities of the See during the vacancy, almost the first, if not the first step he took was to issue notices for a visitation. Originally the Prior seems to have made most of the visitations personally, afterwards he appointed commissaries to visit for him. The terms of their appointment give the best idea of what was done or could be done on a visitation. The Prior's commissaries were ordered 'To visit the clergy and people of the whole diocese [1], abbeys, priories, hospitals, monasteries, parish churches, chapels, oratories, and other collegiate places not yet visited by the Prior; to enquire concerning the state of all persons; correct, punish and reform defaults, excesses and crimes, if they shall find any not corrected; institute, displace, appoint and remove beneficed clerks; receive canonical obedience; examine, confirm and invalidate elections; commit the administration of spiritual and temporal

[1] p. 265.


affairs to those confirmed; to proceed in all causes pending or already commenced in the consistory court and without, and bring them to a due end; to demand clerks arraigned before the King's Justices, and retain them safe in custody; to canonically free those shut up in the episcopal gaol, grant letters dimissory, admit resignations of benefices, authorize changes of ecclesiastical benefices, and to do all other things which by the authority of the court of Canterbury, the See being vacant, it was competent for the Prior to do'. Can it be wondered that the heads of rival religious houses did not look with favour on the visits, often the not very friendly visits, of the persons possessed of these very wide powers ? The Register gives particulars of some eleven visitations made by the Prior or his commissaries, and the details give some idea of the diocese as it then was.

The following is a Table of the Visitations recorded:-



Religious Houses.
Little Malvern11111
Warwick, St. Sepulchre111111
Worcester, Whiston111
- St. Wolstan111
- St. Oswald11
St. Mary next Wych Warwick
- St. John11
- St. Martin11
TewkesburyR [1]111111
Gloucester, St. PeterRRR111111
- St. AugustineR111
- St. Bartholomew11111
- St. Mark, Byleswyk1111
- St. James1111
- St. Mary Magdalen11
- St. Bartholomew11
- St. Bartholomew
- St. John

[1] Signifies that the Prior or his commissaries were refused admittance.


This Table brings out two things very clearly, first, that notwithstanding the importance the Prior always attached to visitations, yet in none of those recorded did he ever make a really complete visitation of all the deaneries and all the religious houses. There seems to have been a regular round followed, and although at times variations were made from it, yet for some reason, on none of the visitations recorded was every place visited that the Prior could visit. It may be that in the case of the deaneries there was so little to get, the game was not worth the candle, and as to the smaller religious houses they were so poor, that out of consideration for their poverty the Prior abstained from a visitation. It will be remembered that he certified as to the poverty of the Churchill house; so he could not, unless there was some special reason for it, put them to the cost of receiving him and his party. Some of the houses were very poor, having under 6 marks annual revenue. If the great monasteries like Cirencester and Gloucester called out against visitations on the ground of the cost, what would not a poor little house with an income barely sufficient to keep body and soul together say if they had to receive the Prior and his retinue ? So far as appears by the Register all the houses the Prior had a right to visit are mentioned in the above list, but it must not be supposed the list represents all the houses in the diocese. For various reasons several houses were exempt from visitation. The cells of other houses could be visited only by the mother-house. All Cistercian abbeys were exempt from any visitation but by the Pope or his legates; certain abbeys, e.g., Evesham, were exempt from any visitation but that of the Crown or the Archbishop of Canterbury as the representative of the Pope.

The usual course of procedure adopted was as follows: On the vacancy occurring the Prior wrote off at once to the Archbishop of Canterbury informing him of the vacancy, and asking for a commission to enable the Prior and convent to exercise spiritual jurisdiction during the vacancy of the See. On receipt of the commission the Prior at once began a visitation of the deaneries and the religious houses in the diocese, or rather such religious houses as the Bishop had a right to visit. At that time the diocese was divided into two archdeaconries, Worcester and Gloucester, and 19 rural deaneries, 8 in Worcestershire, and 11 in Gloucestershire. The Prior caused letters to be written to each Archdeacon, requiring him


to order the deans of the various rural-deaneries to summon their clergy and laity at the place in the deanery where the visitation was to be held, and the Prior wrote to the head of each religious house that he proposed to visit, ordering them to prepare the house for visitation. The places were usually visited in the following order. The Archdeaconry of Worcester was first taken; the Prior visited the Worcester Chapter, and his commissaries the city and deanery of Worcester at the Cathedral. The deanery of Powick at Powick. The monastery of Pershore in the Chapter-house, and the deanery of Pershore in the church of St. Andrew. The deanery of Wych at Tardebigge. The deanery of Kidderminster at Kidderminster ; the detached part of the deanery which included Halesowen and Clent at Halesowen. The deanery of Warwick at Wanes Wotton, or the collegiate church of Warwick, and the houses of Alcester, Studley, and St. Sepulchre's, Warwick, in their Chapterhouses. The deanery of Kineton at Wolford. The deanery of Blockley at the parish church of Blockley or at Stow. They also visited the hospitals of St. Wolstan and St. Oswald in Worcester, and the monastery of Little Malvern. This as a rule completed the Worcester Archdeaconry.

The Gloucester Archdeaconry usually began with the Tewkesbury monastery, then the deanery of Gloucester at St. Nicholas, Gloucester, and the monasteries of St. Peter, Gloucester, and Llanthony, in their Chapter-house. The deanery of Bristol in the church of St. Augustine of Bristol. The house of St. Augustine, Bristol, St. James, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Bartholomew, Bristol, and the house of St. Mark of Byleswyk, in their Chapter-house. The deaneries of Bitton and Hawkesbury at Chipping or Market Sodbury. The deanery of Dursley at Dursley. The deanery of Stonehouse at Byseleye. The deanery of Cirencester at the parish church, Cirencester; the abbey of Cirencester, in their Chapter-house. The deanery of Fairford at Fairford. The deanery of Wynchcombe at Wynchcombe; the monastery of Wynchcombe in their Chapter-house, and the clergy of the deanery of Campden at Wicwar. On looking at the map of the diocese it will be seen that there were two divisions not visited - the rural-deanery of Evesham and the jurisdiction of Bibury. The reason as to Evesham is curious. A dispute arose between the abbey of Evesham and the Bishop as to his right to visit the abbey and the churches in the deanery; the


abbey said they belonged to it and were its property, and could not be visited by the Bishop, being exempted from his visitation by charters and Bulls. On this question, after a good deal of controversy, the abbey appealed to Rome, and the Pope decided that the Bishop had no right to visit the abbey, that right being reserved to the Pope and his legate. As to the churches the case was still under consideration when Pope Innocent III., in the course of his quarrel with John, placed the kingdom under an interdict, the result of which was to suspend the prosecution of the appeal. When the interdict was taken off neither side seems to have been inclined to revive the appeal. The Pope had given to the abbey the right to the churches until the appeal was decided, and as nothing was done, that right continued until the Reformation, when the abbey and all its possessions were seized by the Crown, some of which passed to Christ Church. They remained exempt from any visitation until 1851, when an order in Council, dated the l8th Feb., made under the Act 6 and 7 William IV. c. 77, gave the Bishop of Worcester the right to visit all the churches in the diocese.

It is difficult to trace how the district of Bibury became exempt from episcopal jurisdiction, and so far no satisfactory reason can be given, but the fact that it was so is clear.

The Prior had not the right to visit any alien houses in the diocese; these were almost invariably the daughter-houses of foreign monasteries, and could only be visited by them. To make up for this the Prior was most constant in visiting the churches which belonged to the alien houses. He could not visit the Deerhurst house, Deerhurst being a cell to St. Denis, but he could and did with great regularity visit the parish church of Deerhurst, which belonged to it.

It is somewhat difficult to see on what principle the church in which the visitation was held was selected; it was usually, but not always, the same church in which the visitation had been held before. In some deaneries, such as Powick, the custom to hold the visitation in the parish church seems invariable, but in others, such as Kidderminster, the place varied; sometimes it was held at Kidderminster and at other times at Bromsgrove. The religious houses were all visited in their Chapter-house; usually the Prior or his commissaries were provided with meat and drink, and it would


seem that one of the reasons why the Prior and Monastery of Worcester attached so much importance to the right of visitation, was quite as much on account of the fees they received on the visitation as it was for enforcing the authority of the See over the religious houses in it. It must not be supposed that the religious houses submitted to the jurisdiction of the Prior and convent without a struggle, the early entries in this Register conclusively prove this. Gloucester flatly refused the Prior admittance in 1301, and, although warned and admonished, persisted in their refusal. The Prior thereupon excommunicated them; they appealed against the excommunication. In the course of the appeal proceedings the Worcester Prior wanted to interrogate the Abbot as to his contempt and disobedience; as the Abbot very wisely refused to answer the somewhat searching interrogatories of the Prior, he was declared to be contumacious. But the Archbishop's official seemed to be of opinion that the Prior was pressing matters too far, for he promptly inhibited the Prior from going on with the action, and cited him to appear in the church of the Blessed Mary the Virgin of Bow. The example of Gloucester was followed by Tewkesbury. They refused to admit the Prior, and, as nothing seemed to affect them, the Prior promptly excommunicated them. Against this sentence Tewkesbury appealed. Cirencester also resisted, but admitted the Prior's right to visit them, alleging the inexpediency of any visitation then, as they had within the last two years been visited by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Worcester, and twice a year was too often for a visitation. In 1307, the Bristol Abbey of St. Augustine also resisted; long litigation followed, including appeals to Canterbury and Rome. The Bristol Abbot was successful, but not on the main question, as to his freedom from visitation. It was held he was justified in his resistance on that occasion as the Prior should have come himself and not sent his deputies. Most of the houses admitted the Prior and paid their fees in the visitation of 1307, except Gloucester, which contested the Prior's right of visitation on three grounds:- (1) That by special privilege they could only be visited by the Pope's legate, the Archbishop of the Province, or the Bishop of the diocese; (2) that two years had not elapsed since the last visitation; and (3) that at the time the Prior tried to visit his right had ceased, because the See was then full. The


Archbishop finally decided in favour of the Prior. For some time the resistance to the Prior visiting the house went on, but at last it died out and the right was exercised without question. It is not quite clear why such a resistance was made; it could hardly have been the cost, although it is often placed on that ground. It is 'more probable that at the beginning of the 14th century visitation was not a mere dry form but something real and substantial, but as time went on the visitation only meant a good dinner, and was otherwise a matter of form, and so was not resisted. It is also a curious point that the fight as to the visitation of religious houses took place almost wholly in the Archdeaconry of Gloucester; the Worcester Archdeaconry seems to have given but little trouble; possibly this was from the fact that the great Worcestershire Houses from one cause or another were mostly exempt fro m visitation. Or it may be that the Gloucester Archdeaconry adjoined the Lincoln diocese, where the right to visit sede vacante was restricted to two Houses in each archdeaconry, but this was not the case in the Lichfield diocese, which adjoined the Worcester Archdeaconry.

It may be asked what was the net result of all this visitation ? The first and obvious answer is that it led to an increase in the revenue of the Worcester Prior and, in a greater degree, to the increase of the revenue of the See of Canterbury. But in addition to that, it certainly served, in some degree, to preserve and enforce discipline. It may well be that the Prior or his deputies were not careful to see all they might have seen, that they passed over a good deal. The terms of the agreement under which the Prior's right to visit the Abbey at Cirencester was settled certainly support this view [1]. The Prior was not to expound the Word of God unless the monks wished it. He was not to require the monks to answer on oath, and he was only to enquire into two things:- (1) Was the Mass of the Virgin daily celebrated; (2) Was the Chapter daily held for the correction of manners and regular observances? For the visitation the Prior received 4 marks, and it must be obvious that under this agreement, for all real purposes of visitation the Prior might have stayed at Worcester and sent for the money. Such a document as this regularly entered in the books of the Worcester House raises the doubt as to the efficacy and reality of the Prior's visitation, and whether he did

[1] p. 254.


not really regard the profits, and perhaps the entertainment consequent on the visitation, as the most important parts of the function. Yet it was not always so; the Register contains not only the Cirencester agreement but also entries shewing that there were cases in which the visitation was a reality; for instance, in the visitation, in 1307, at Studley, the Prior found various matters requiring correction. The brothers gave away the remains of their food; they did not strictly keep the hours of service; they did not keep silence according to the rule of St. Augustine. Another case is mentioned which some years later, in 1338 [1], occurred in the Nunnery of Wroxhale. The nuns talked more than the rule allowed. They were guilty of brawling and bad language; they spoke reproachfully of one of the nuns the Prior had to correct; they went out too much and stayed out too late; two young sisters went out together; strange men came in; the nuns went on foot to Coventry and Warwick, and the convent was not shut up as it should be at curfew. These irregularities are only what would be expected, to us they hardly seem crimes at all. It is obvious that if the convents were to do their duty such scandals should be put down with a strong hand, for, as the Prior said in the Studley case, "the lukewarmness of the discipline increased the grounds for dissolution".

In addition to the question of visitation the Register sheds some light on the life in the monasteries.

First as to the number of monks in the different houses, probably in all cases the number was smaller than is usually supposed. To take three instances:-

In 1307 [2], at Cirencester, there were 20 monks. This was a Benedictine House; it appears that no less than 17 were priests.

In 1353 [3], in the House of St. Augustine, Bristol, a house of the Augustine Canons, all were in orders, and the number of Regular Canons appears to have been 17.

In 1395 [4] at Winchcombe, another Benedictine House, the number of monks appears to have been 19. While at Worcester, in 1401, another Benedictine House [5], the number was 43, all of whom are stated to have been in Orders. In 1419 there were 40, and it may be taken that this was about the full number of the House.

[1] p. 275.
[2] p. 100.
[3] p. 197.
[4] p. 367.
[5] p. 373.
[6] p. 407.


There is some indication that the number depended very much on the revenue of the monastery. There is a letter from the Prior [1] to the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1302, reminding the Archbishop of the promise to help the monastery, which at his visitation he found so oppressed by debt that they had scarcely enough food, and in a letter from the Prior to the King it is said that they intend to have three more monks when the King carries out his promises to them. The King probably did so, as in the Worcester House [2] shortly afterwards 4 monks made their profession before the Prior on the feast of St. Agatha, 1302, in the Chapel of the Virgin. The form of the Profession of a Benedictine nun is given in the Register [3]. Helen, daughter of Sir William de Ryons, of Gloucester, made her profession in this manner:- "Ego, soror Helena promitto stabilitatem et conversionem morum meorum et obedientiam secundum regulam Sancti Benedicti coram Deo et Sanctis ejus et domina Agnete, priorissa in hoc monasterio, quod constructuni est in honore Beatae Mariae Magdalenae in praesentia domini Johannis, Prioris ecclesiae cathedralis Wigorniensis, auctoritate curiae Cantuariensis officialis et administratoris spiritualium in civitate et diocese Wygorniense sede vacante; ita, quod per hoc non sim arcata ab esu carnium abstinere".

The form is remarkable as setting out the exact position of the Prior in the matter, and the lady's reservation of her liberty in the matter of food is not undeserving of notice.

But the great incident that gives information as to the interior of a monastery is the dispute that arose in the Bristol House in 1374 [4], and which was referred to the Prior of Worcester to settle. It appears that the monastery of St. Augustine was a House of Augustine Canons. If any one was sick and in the infirmary the abbot would not allow him to take recreation. The monks also wanted to be provided with more delicate victuals, more healthful things, and physic while in the infirmary. They wanted to be allowed recreation after dinner. Then came the question who was to pay for the wax burnt in the chapel of the Virgin and in the church lamps - was the House to provide it or the sacristan ? who should provide the lights in the dormitory and infirmary, the House or the chamberlain ? Could the abbot sell the corn of the monastery as he pleased without consulting the monks? Who was to

['] p. 44.
[2] p. 37.
[3] p. 96.
[4] p. 38.


take charge of the bedding in the infirmary? What was to become of the principal and better bedding of any of the Canons who died ? Should any secular monk be put over the kitchener in his office ? Was the bread and ale the brethren had of a sufficiently good quality? Were they to have two kinds of meat? Were they to have fresh fish ? These and a number of other questions that arose between the Bristol abbot and his monks the Worcester Prior had to settle.

Even in those days, 1373 [1], it seems that sometimes monks left their houses. The Prior sent William Wylde, the Rector of St. Swithin, Worcester, to Brother Thomas de Wyke, an apostate monk of the Worcester monastery who had denied his habit, "to warn, induce, and if need be, to force him to return" to the monastery.

The Prior had many duties to do. For instance, he gave a commission to the Monastery of Tewkesbury to appoint a monk of the house fit for the purpose to hear confessions, grant absolution, and impose penances upon any persons except those who violated the rights and liberties of the Church of Worcester [l].

During the great war with France, the King being in want of money, came down on the alien priories in the country. In 1374 [2] a writ was sent to the Prior ordering him to certify what benefices within the diocese were in the hands of aliens, and the value of such benefices. In pursuance of this the Prior made a return giving the list of aliens. These were-

The monastery of Waweynes Wotton [3], which two monks from the monastery of Couches in the diocese of Lissieux occupied.

Two other monks of the same monastery occupied the priory of Astley.

Feckenham had for a rector the Norman abbot of Lyra, and he discharged the duties of the living by a monk of his monastery, who occupied the rectory and acted as curate. The abbot of Lyra was also rector of Hanley Castle and Eldersfield. He leased then to the Prior of Little Malvern, who, after paying the rent made an annual profit of 20s. A monk of the abbey of St. Denis was prior of Deerhurst; he and two other monks were the occupants of the priory.

The Prior of Newent was an alien, and from his name, John

[1] p. 321.
[2] p. 293.
[3] p. 37.


Fabri, an Italian. He was vicar of Beckford with the chapel of Ashton. He did not reside at the vicarage but at Newent.

The Prior of Brymsfield was an alien and had the church of Brymsfield.

The Priory at Beckford was occupied by two monks, the Prior being a regular canon of the House of St. Barbara.

These were, according to the Worcester Prior's certificate, all the ecclesiastical offices held by aliens in the diocese. A mistake occurs in the certificate as to Astley; it appears from other entries in the Register that Astley belonged to St. Taurinus, not to Couches. The King does not seem to have turned the aliens out, but to have treated them as if they were non-existent. When any benefice belonging to any of the aliens fell vacant, the King at once presented to it; except this, so far as appears from the Register, they do not seem to have been interfered with.

The exact position will be best understood if two instances are cited. In 1349, the abbot of St. Denis presented a monk of his monastery to the cure of the parish church of Deerhurst, and the Prior admitted him in accordance with an agreement between the Bishop of Worcester and the St. Denis House. In 1375 [l], Richard Cole was presented by the King, Edward III., to the chapel of Lega next Deerhurst in the diocese of Worcester, the temporalities of the priory of Deerhurst being in the King's hands.

An important part of the monastic life was the election of the Head of the House. The Register gives various instances of elections, and by comparing the election of the head of a monastery with the election of a bishop, a very fair idea of what took place on these occasions can be obtained. The monks, assembled in the Chapter-house to elect, the election was conducted by one of three ways:-

(1) By inspiration, when they were unanimous and agreed at once on the election of some person.

(2) By scrutiny, when each monk voted for his own candidate.

(3) By compromise, when the monks delegated to one individual, as in the case of the election of Reynolds, or to several, as in the case of the election of Ginsborough, the right to nominate a person whom they agreed to accept as the Bishop.

Before proceeding with the election the electors had to fix on which

[1] p. 351.


of these three ways they would act. Examples of each are found in the Register, that of compromise seems to have been the favourite. On the death of the bishop or abbot, the first step to take was to obtain leave to elect a successor. In the case of a bishop, the King's leave was necessary, and it will be found that in the account of any vacancy, almost the first thing done was to write to the King informing him of the vacancy in the See, and asking for his leave to elect a new bishop; this usually was given almost as a matter of course, as will be seen from the following instances which are given merely as examples.

Letter, nones of Feb., 1301, to King as to death of Giffard; conge d'elire to elect successor dated 20th Feb. [1] On the death of Maydeston, the Prior's letter asking leave was dated the 5th of the Ides of April [2], the King's letter granting the conge d'elire was the 19th April. On the death of Bishop Lynn [3], on the 18th November, 1373, the Prior wrote at once to the King, and the conge d'elire was issued on the 28th November.

In one instance, the case of Reynolds, a very curious difficulty arose. The King had given his conge d'elire on the 17th October, 1307 [4], and sent the conge d'elire by Sir Hugh le Despencer to Worcester with a letter on behalf of Walter Reynolds, the King's treasurer, whom the King recommended for the Bishoprick. A memorandum appears on the Register that a little time after the license from the King to elect, there came persons to say the Pope had reserved to himself the provision to the See. This was followed by a letter from the Pope, Clement V., reserving to himself the ordination and provision of a fit person to the See of Worcester. Edward II., on learning this, fearing, says the Register, that the reservation and inhibition might be made in the future to the prejudice of his rights in the English Church, directed his writ to the aforesaid Prior and convent to hasten the election before the notification of the Papal election, if any there was. The writ was followed by a letter to the Prior in which the King states that having granted them leave to elect, and hearing they delayed the election, whereby grave loss might occur to them and the church, he commands them without further delay to proceed to the election of the future bishop. Still further, to hasten the matter, on the 6th November, the King sent another letter to them on behalf of

[1] p. 2.
[2] p. 179.
[3] p. 282.
[4] p. 104.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION. lxvii Reynolds, and also a statement of the reasons why the election should be hastened. These reasons are remarkable as setting forth the legal and constitutional position of the English Bishops. This seems to have produced the desired effect: a chapter was called, the monks agreed to proceed to election "by way of compromise", and left it to the Prior to say who should be bishop. It is needless to say that although the account in the Register [1] says the Prior "with due devotion and thoughtful spirit deliberated as by his acts appeared", his choice was the King's treasurer, Walter Reynolds; the Prior at once wrote to the King informing him what they had done [2]. The Register then contains this note [2]:

"That having sought the consent of the said elect (Walter Reynolds), for fear of the reservation and inhibition aforesaid, the business of the election was not further proceeded with. The King, however, wrote to the Apostolic See on behalf of the said elect, and at the King's instance the said elect was made Bishop of Worcester by the Pope". The Pope then issued two Bulls, one to Reynolds [4] stating that although the Pope had been led to reserve the Bishoprick of Worcester, intending to provide thereto a fit person, yet as the elect had refused his consent, expecting to be certified concerning the said reservation, and as the King had written on his behalf, and as the elect appeared to be a fit person, the Pope made him Bishop and pastor of the church of Worcester. The other Bull was directed to the Prior and Chapter of Worcester, and stated that notwithstanding the reservation, the Pope had made Reynolds Bishop of Worcester, and commanded the Prior and Chapter to be attendant and obedient, and exhibit due reverence to the said Walter Reynolds. The two Bulls were published in the cathedral church of Worcester.

This election of Reynolds is a very instructive piece of ecclesiastical history. Both the King and the Prior knew their legal rights, that they were acting strictly within them in electing as Bishop the person they thought fittest, and not regarding the Pope's nominee, yet so afraid were they of the Pope, and so great was his power, that both King and Prior tried to fill up the See before they could get any formal notification of the Pope's action, his illegal action, in the matter. Although Edward II. could put forward reasons so strong as to the rights of the King of England [1] p. 108.
[2] p. 110.
[3] p. 111.


as are given in his paper, yet he preferred not to rely on his reasons, but if possible, get his nominee elected by a side wind or a compromise. Another point worthy of notice is the wonderful way the Pope was served in the matter of information as to what was going on in England. Although the news of the vacancy had to go to Rome and word of what was done there sent back to England, yet the English King, the English Archbishop, and the Worcester monks were obviously afraid the Pope would forestall their action, as he actually did on a subsequent occasion.

Edward II. has never been looked upon as one of the strong men among the Plantagenets. Edward III., on the contrary, has had that reputation, yet in the matter of the election to bishopricks, Edward II. comes out far better than Edward III. On the vacancy in 1361 [1], the Prior applied for and obtained the usual conge d'elire, but directly afterwards the King revoked it on the ground that the Pope had already elected and confirmed a bishop to Worcester. The facts were peculiar. The Pope translated Brian to Ely, but before Brian, who was then at Alvechurch, one of the residences of the Worcester bishops, knew anything of it he caught the plague and died. The Pope when he translated Brian had also taken care at once to fill up the See of Worcester by appointing Barnet to it. There was therefore never any real vacancy that the King or the Worcester monks could deal with, and this may be the reason why Edward III. submitted so tamely to having the legally elected Bishop set aside for the Papal nominee. This again shews how complete was the Pope's rule over the English bishops. He actually appointed a bishop of an English See before the fact that there was any vacancy was known to the legal electors, and when the English King heard what was done, he put it out of the power of those electors even to protest by taking from them the opportunity of electing.

In the case of a religious house the leave to be obtained was not necessarily that of the King but that of the Patron. In the Register it is recorded that of the House of St. Augustine at Bristol [2], Queen Phillippa was the Patron, so her leave had to be obtained before the monks could proceed to an election. Tewkesbury was founded by the Clares, Earls of Gloucester, who were its patrons. On the death at Bannockburn of Gilbert de Clare, the last Earl

[1] p. 203.
[2] p. 192.


of Gloucester, in 1313, one of his sisters, and coheiresses, married the celebrated Hugh de Spenser, who became in her right Patron of Tewkesbury, and his grandson, Edward de Spenser, was Patron in 1361. On the death of the abbot in 1361, the monks before they could proceed to an election had to obtain their Patron's consent [1], which consent is duly recorded in the Register. If the King was Patron, or if there was no Patron, the conge d'elire was obtained from the King. Having obtained leave to elect, a day was fixed for the monks to meet and determine the day of election, on which all the monks were summoned to attend. On this day the Mass of the Holy Ghost was first sung in the church of the house, whether cathedral or abbey church. The monks then went to the Chapter-house. The hymn Vent Creator was sung, and in all Benedictine houses the constitution Quia propter was read; then the presiding monk ordered all strangers and all who were excommunicated, suspended, or interdicted to leave. The question was then asked the monks in which of the three ways should the election proceed: (1) by compromise; (2) by scrutiny; (3) by inspiration. On this being determined, the election was then carried out in the selected way, and the presiding monk announced the result.

If the monk elected was present he was at once carried into the church, the monks singing the Te Deum, and the election was then publicly proclaimed from the high altar. A formal account of the proceedings was drawn up and sent to the King or the Patron, as the case might be, and to the Archbishop, if the election was that of a bishop, or if of an abbot to the Bishop, or in the case of a vacancy in the See to the Prior of the Worcester House. Messengers were sent to obtain the consent of the person proposed to be elected if he was not present, and on the consent being recorded, the election was complete. The election had to be confirmed in the case of a bishop by the King and Archbishop. In the case of an abbot by the King or the Patron, and the Bishop or the Prior on a vacancy. It frequently happened that the Pope set aside the election of a bishop, and appointed his own nominee, or declared he had "provided" some one with the bishoprick. The number of monastic elections contained in the Register is seven; all of these were confirmed, in some cases only after some

[1] p. 23.


demur; for instance, the Cirencester abbot in 1301 had refused to allow the Worcester Prior to visit his house. In 1307 the Cirencester abbot died; the monks elected a new one, and the election came before the Worcester Prior for confirmation. He made the monks strictly prove every detail of the election; when that had been done, so far as appears from the Register, the election had been perfectly in order. But the Prior would not agree, so after hearing the case out he gave this decision [1]. That the power of making, electing, or providing an abbot for the monastery of Cirencester belonged to him, so he declared the election of abbot to be invalid and void; but after considering the matter with certain prudent men, and understanding that the monk elected was a discreet man, esteemed for his learning and virtuous habits and actions, of lawful age, a priest, and born of lawful marriage, professed on the order of the rule of St. Augustine in the monastery of Cirencester, and circumspect in spiritual and temporal matters, he made and provided him as abbot of the said monastery. The procedure on one election seems very similar to the procedure on another. But the elections mentioned are all those either of Benedictine monks or of Augustine canons. There is, however, one that is neither, but which is worth notice, as shewing what the Prior would do when opportunity offered. One of the great Premonstratensian houses in this country was Halesowen; it was a daughter-house to Welbeck, so the Prior of Welbeck was its proper visitor. So far as this Register goes, it does not appear the Worcester Prior disputed this or ever tried to visit or exercise jurisdiction over Halesowen. All that he seems to have done was when the living became vacant, he instituted the nominee of the Prior of Welbeck, the head of the Premonstratensians in England. A cell to Halesowen existed at Dodford, between Bromsgrove and Kidderminster, and over this house the Worcester Prior had not, and does not seem to have even claimed to have had, any jurisdiction whatever.

In 1361 [2] the Prior of Dodford died; two of the monks from there came to the Worcester Prior, told him the facts, dwelt upon the evils of a long vacancy, and that there was no way or form of election in the Priory. On this the Worcester Prior appointed as Prior of Dodford one of the two Premonstratensian

[1] p. 102.
[2] p. 209.


monks. What further took place does not appear, but this was a most extraordinary stretch of jurisdiction by the Prior. It was quite true the Priory had no way or form of election, as, being a cell to Halesowen, the Halesowen House or the Welbeck House would nominate the Prior, but for the Worcester Prior to take upon himself to do this in the case of a house outside his authority shews that he was not nervous in extending his jurisdiction. Unfortunately we get no intimation of what was the result of the Worcester Prior's action, or how the Welbeck and Halesowen monks regarded it. The only other entry as to Dodford is a letter [1] by one of his predecessors to the Prior and Convent there, asking them to grant the bearer of the letter the habit of their order.

Another act of the Worcester Prior [2] may be mentioned as being of a more graceful character. One William de Doveria had rendered services to the Worcester Priory what they were is not stated. He became incapacitated by old age, and the Prior granted him a pension of 10. Having regard to the value of money, this must have been a most handsome allowance.

The instances already mentioned are where the Prior interfered in the case of a monastery. An instance of his action in the case of a nunnery is not less interesting. In the year 1308 the Prior was called on to take part in the election of a head to a religious house, the house being a Cistercian nunnery, that of the Blessed Mary Magdalene of Whiston near Worcester, whose Prioress, Agnes de Bromwych, had died during the vacancy of the See. The peculiarity in this case being that a bishop, Walter Reynolds, had been elected by the Worcester monks, but had not been enthroned, yet he seems to have acted as bishop in this case. On receiving a notice from the Sub-prioress of the death of the late Prioress, the Bishop gave leave to elect, but as the patronage belonged to the Bishop, without prejudice to the Church of Worcester and without making it a custom [3], the form of election appears very like the one at Cirencester, except that of the three modes of election the nuns selected that of inspiration, and Alice de la Flagge was chosen unanimously; she assented to the election, and application was made to the Bishop elect to confirm it. On this followed a very curious correspondence. It would seem that on

[1] p 7.
[2] p. 19.
[3] p. 119.


the election of a Prioress fees had to be paid, and it may have been this that led the Worcester Prior to be so keen as he was in the matter of elections. Here, as a Bishop had been elected and not enthroned, whether the fees went to the Bishop or the Monastery may be doubtful; probably to the former, as otherwise it is not likely, at least the presumption is against it, that the Prior would have been inclined to remit fees that were due to his house. The Convent writes to the Bishop:-

"Considering the smallness of their possessions they were formerly compelled to beg, to the scandal of womanhood and discredit of religion, so for the honour of religion and the frailness of the female sex, the Bishop is asked to confirm the election".

It is difficult quite to see what this means: one interpretation which the expression, "the frailness of the female sex", might suggest is clearly impossible in the 14th century, if it ever was possible in England. The bishops were not loved, but if a case had ever occurred of the nuns of a religious house having to rely on their frailty to pay their fees, it would have been used against them with terrible force. Probably it is only an instance of the exaggerated language usually used in ecclesiastical matters, language which when taken literally has often caused charges to be made against the Church, charges which only rest on the high-flown statements of the day, and had never any existence in fact. Probably the fees went to the Bishop, as the Prior wrote to the Rector of Hartlebury asking him to testify to the Bishop the poverty of the nuns. The Bishop appointed the Prior and the Rector of Hartlebury, his commissaries, to inquire into the election and confirm it, which was done.

Another important item in the receipts for spiritualities was that arising from wills; at first it seems that there were very few wills indeed, but the number gradually increased until they became a very important part of the spiritualities.

In 1302 the Prior wrote to the Bishop of Lincoln [2] as to the will of Dyonis de Hoddesak, who died in the diocese of Worcester.

In 1302 there is a grant [3] of administration by the Prior of the goods of Geoffery de la Hoo of Kidderminster, who died intestate to Agnes his wife and Adam Cissor.

In 1303 a writ [4] was issued by William de Wodeston against

[1] p. 112.
[2] p. 17.
[3] p. 19.
[4] p. 44.


the Prior of Worcester for 100; Wodeston had become surety to the King for 100 for Ralph de Bulmere, the late parson of Toneworth, who was executor of Ela de Lungesper. The Prior, as diocesan, on Ralph's death intestate, had taken possession of his goods, and written to Sir Peter de Leycestria [1], one of the Barons of the Exchequer, asking to be allowed to administer the said Ralph's goods, they being of small value and having come to the Prior's hands as ordinary, on the Rector's death intestate, Sir Peter having hitherto hindered the administration.

A good deal of dispute arose over the goods of Bishop Ginsborough [2]. In 1307 the administrator of the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered the late Bishop's goods to be seized until it appeared whether he had left a will. The Prior then ordered the Dean of Blockley to sequester the goods of the late Bishop for dilapidations and debts due to the church, as the executors of the Bishop's will lived in parts remote from the diocese. This was followed up by a writ from the executors against the Prior; they having given security, administration was granted to them by the Archbishop, and the Prior having unjustly sequestrated the Bishop's goods, was ordered to release the sequestration. The Archdeacon of Arenns and Peter, canon of Bordeaux, chaplains and nuncii of the Pope and administrators of the Archbishop, then came on the scene and ordered the Prior to release the sequestration of the goods of the late Bishop under pain of excommunication. The Prior thereupon wrote a letter - the name to whom it is sent is left blank - asking advice whether, notwithstanding the sequestration on the Bishop's goods was to be released by the order of the King and the Keeper of the spiritualities of the Archbishop, there were not sufficient grounds for sequestration [3]. What reply he got does not appear, but the Prior made an order releasing the Bishop's goods from sequestration and permitting the executor to administer.

In 1307 [4] the Prior wrote to the Dean of Warwick that he heard Henry, called le Warner, of the parish of Toneworth, had died leaving much movable property, which came to divers persons who had disposed of it not in accordance with the deceased's will. The dean is ordered to ascertain if there are executors, and to cite those who have administered the goods to appear before the Prior to answer certain articles. In the same year Amice, the widow of Sir Eustace

[1] p. 47.
[2] p. 82.
[3] p. 83.
[4] p. 95.

lxxiv GENERAL INTRODUCTION. de Hacche, Knight, and executor of his will, appointed her coexecutor as her proctor [1] to make an inventory of her husband's goods in the Dioceses of Lincoln and Worcester, the will having been proved before the Archdeacon of London, as the deceased died in London.

Two commissaries of the Prior [2] brought an action against John de Feckenham, John Lony, Richard Shep, and Alina, widow of John le Carecter, the executors of the will of the said John for refusing to execute his will and detaining his goods.

The Prior granted on account of poverty a release to Emma, the widow of Nicholas le Hopare, from rendering an account of the goods of her husband who had died intestate [2].

In 1313 [3] the Prior granted to Sir P. de B. the administration of the goods of his squire, Robert de Bello Campo, who had died intestate.

In 1317 [4] the Archbishop of Canterbury ordered the Prior to cite the executors of the will of Bishop Maydeston, who died in parts beyond the sea, to appear before the Archbishop to prove the will, and to undertake the administration of the goods included in it. This was followed by an order to cite three of the executors, who had received the late Bishop's goods and had administered them, to appear before the Archbishop and answer touching their administration; "and that the goods of the said deceased might be faithfully preserved for his soul as was becoming", the Prior was ordered to sequestrate all the goods of the deceased at the time of his departure, and to keep them safely in a chest, so that no one can lay hands upon them until the Prior has further orders, and that he take an inventory of the said goods.

In 1349 [5] the Commissary of the Bishop of Hereford wrote to the Dean of Powick asking him to cite Matilda Fleming, formerly the wife of Robert Fleming, of Upton-on-Severn, his executor, to appear at Hereford and answer in a testamentary suit.

The official of Worcester wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1338 [6], in reply to an order to sequestrate the goods of the late Bishop Heminghale, that the King had already sequestrated them for a debt due to himself.

In 1387 [7] a new official made his appearance, the official administrator of estates. Sir Walter Huwet, Knight, died The

[1] p. 95.
[2] p. 96.
[3] p. 147.
[4] p. l87.
[5] p. 245.
[6] p. 259.
[7] p. 287.


executors named in his will refused to take out administration, so probate was granted to John Jocu, priest, official administrator.

In 1374 [1], after the death of Bishop Lynn, the Archbishop of Canterbury sent an order to the Worcester Prior to grant administration of the goods of the Bishop, not merely in the Diocese of Worcester but within the Province of Canterbury, to the executors named in his will. A curious form of notice to creditors was given by the executors of the Bishop [2]. The See of Canterbury being vacant, the Prior of Canterbury ordered the Prior of Worcester that as the Bishop's executors desired to pay all creditors and legatees, to make proclamation in the Cathedral at Worcester, and in all churches of the Diocese on Sundays and festivals between the celebrating of Masses, that such creditors and legatees should appear before the Prior of Christ Church on the next law-day after the feast of St. Peter ad Vincula, in the Church of Christ Church, Canterbury.

Not only did the ecclesiastical courts exercise jurisdiction over wills, the Register furnishes traces of jurisdiction over matrimonial causes [3]. The Bishop of Winchester, the Judge of the Holy Roman Church delegated by the Pope, ordered the Worcester Prior, under canonical pain, to cite Isabella de Clare, the daughter of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, to appear in a cause between Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, Robert, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Isabella de Clare, touching the marriage between the said Guy and Isabella, they being within the third degree of consanguinity.

In 1317 [4] the Prior ordered the Rector of the Church of St. Clement, Worcester, to proceed and bring to a due end the matter of the divorce between Adam Foliot and Isabella de Underwode.

In the same year [5] a writ from the King directed the Prior to inquire whether Joan, widow of Robert de Sherteleye, was ever lawfully married to him. She claimed dower in the King's Court, and the tenants resisted her right on the ground she was never lawfully married to the said Robert. The Prior was ordered to inquire touching the same, as it was an ecclesiastical matter.

In 1307 [6] a matrimonial cause came before the Prior between Margaret de Twychene and Richard, son of John Allot of Wych. The said Richard alleged that long before any contract of marriage

[1] p. 303.
[2] p. 313.
[3] p. 9.
[4] p. 187.
[5] p. 190.
[6] p. 90.


between him and Margaret she was contracted per verba de praesenti with a certain Simon, called le Cok of Horneworth.

In addition to the matters that have already been mentioned, and which were the more important sources of the spiritualities, there were other minor matters that are to us quite as interesting, if not more so, as throwing light on the social life of the time, than the great disputes between the great ecclesiastics of those days; for instance, the Prior wrote to the Abbot of Tewkesbury [l] about a Cistercian monk who proposed, on account of the fruit of a better life as he asserted, to lead a solitary life in the Chapel of St. Brendun, near Bristol, if the canonical sanctions permit, sufficient maintenance being assigned to him. It would be instructive to know if it was usual for a hermit, before leading a solitary life, to secure a fixed income.

The Rector of the Church of Stratton on Fosse obtained from his Bishop certain letters in some way how does not appear. He is said to have made a false and scandalous use of these letters, and so was imprisoned [2]. He was at last let out on giving a bond to come up for sentence in the Church of Worcester on the Saturday before Ascension Day.

Evidently the Prior and convent were not considered as above paying their debts in light money; it would not be fair to say they were suspected of clipping the coin, but in 1302 they borrowed 40 from one Richard de la Lynde [3] and gave him a bond for its repayment. He was careful to stipulate in his bond that the money the Prior should repay should be "good, round, and lawful".

The Prior borrowed from the Abbot of Evesham [4] a book upon Luke the Evangelist, and evidently, like other people who borrow books, forgot to return it. He wrote to the Abbot explaining that he had retained the book beyond the time stipulated on account of the illness of the scribe.

In the commission which the Prior granted to the Suffragan or other Bishop, that he got in to exercise episcopal functions during the vacancy of the See, one of the duties mentioned was "reconciling churches [5]"; that is, if blood had been shed in a church or churchyard it was deemed polluted, and could not again be used for any divine service until a special office had been held; in fact the shedding of blood defiled and profaned the place, and

[1] p. 147.
[2] p. 5.
[3] p. 78.
[4] p. 59.
[5] p. 356.


that defilement and profanation had to be done away with before the church was again fit for use for the divine office.

In 1375 [1], when the Bishop of Pressinensis was acting as suffragan, there seems to have been some affray from which bloodshed followed, in the churchyard of Stone and also in the church of Hartlebury. What the details of the bloodshed were do not appear, beyond the fact that Richard Lekhull mortally wounded Hugh Fyscherye of Trokeston in the parish church of Hartlebury. In consequence of this the church of Hartlebury was closed, or as the Prior puts it, "the sounds of the divine voice were stayed". In order to get the church reconciled a fee was payable, and it seems that the parishioners of Hartlebury did not care to pay the fee, but instead of paying, preferred to allow their church to be closed, going on Sundays and festivals to the neighbouring churches. The Prior saw that if this was allowed, his chance of getting any fees for reconciling churches during the vacancy of the See was but small, To compel the Hartlebury people to have the church reconciled, that is, to pay their fees, as the bishop would not reconcile without payment, the Prior ordered the rural-deans of Wych and Kidderminster to warn the rectors, vicars, and priests of the neighbouring churches to publicly proclaim before beginning divine service, that if there was any person in church from the parish of Hartlebury he should depart. The Prior went on to order the archdeacons to signify to the same clergy, that if any of them admitted any person from Hartlebury to any service excommunication would follow. Whether this produced the desired effect does not appear. The offender committing the offence was the person who ought to have paid in the first instance, and the fee was considerable; it was 100s. for a churchyard, probably more for a church, and it would in those days have been a good deal for the parish to raise. The Prior, however, tried to put pressure on the offender, Richard Lekhull, to pay; he ordered all deans, rectors and parish priests in the deaneries of Worcester, Kidderminster, and Wych publicly and solemnly to denounce every Sunday and festival before solemnization of the Mass, with the albs on, crosses erect, candles lit and extinguished, bells rung, Richard Lekhull as excommunicate, and to continue to do this until otherwise ordered [2]. Probably this produced all that was necessary, for on the 17th August the Bishop

[1] p. 348.
[2] p. 349.


was ordered to go to Stone, and reconcile the churchyard; but before he did it, he was to get the fees; having done this at Stone he was to go on to Hartlebury, and reconcile the church there [1].

This is a good instance of the power of the Church, and the way pressure could be brought to frustrate any attempt to evade it. Whatever may have been the Prior's motive, it is impossible not to admire the way he brought the Hartlebury people to their senses.

In 1402, a dispute arose as to the payment of pensions between the Prior and Queen's Hall, Oxford [2]. The Provost and scholars were the appropriators of the church of Newbold Pacy, and on each vacancy of the See of Worcester they had to make a payment to the Prior of a pension, and the question as to the amount gave rise to a controversy. The Prior alleged it was 20s., and the Provost alleged it was only a mark, and produced a receipt, by which it appeared one mark only was paid. The Prior, therefore, began his usual procedure for enforcing his rights, citation and excommunication. This seems to have brought the college to reason, for a formal agreement was arrived at between Thomas Borton as proctor for the college, and Richard Grafton as proctor for the Prior, that the college should pay 20s. for this last vacancy, and pay the same on any future vacancy, and return to the Prior the receipt which shewed a less payment. This surrender by the college is curious, and would lead to a doubt as to the genuineness of the alleged receipt for the smaller sum, if it was not for the fact that in the Register of the Priory, where the list of Pensions is given in the Prior's own book, Newbold Pacy appears not for 20s. but for a mark [3].

During the vacancy in 1374 some rather exceptional entries occur: 4 licenses were granted by the Prior, acting as Bishop [4], to different persons to have services in their private chapels. Archbishop Stratford (1333-1349) had forbidden bishops to grant licenses for the celebration of Mass in oratories or chapels not consecrated, to any but great men and nobles, and only to those if in far distant places, or on account of bodily infirmity. Any one who chose might build an oratory, which could be used for the purpose of prayer, but no celebration of any divine office could take place in it without the Bishop's license, and even if that license was granted,

[1] p. 348.
[2] p. 386.
[3] See ante, p. xxvii.
[4] p. 321.


by the constitution ot Othobon, in 1268, it could only be so on the terms of saving the rights of the mother church; that is, the chaplain should pay over the whole of the oblations, and all that would have gone to the mother church if the chapel had not been there. Two of the persons here licensed, Elizabeth, Countess of Kent, and Thomas Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, certainly came within the exception of great men and nobles; William Foliot for his oratory at Pirton and Robert Crowenhale do not, so far as we know, come in the same class. The Countess of Kent was to have the divine office celebrated not only in one chapel, but in all her chapels and oratories within the diocese by a fit priest. Where these were is not clear. The Earl of Warwick was limited to his chapel at Goderests, but a special clause was inserted in his favour that the divine offices were to be celebrated not only in his presence but also if he was absent, thereby converting the chapel into a regular place for the performance of divine service.

In 1418 [1] a like license was given to Giles Fililode, dwelling at Kydyrington, to have divine service performed in his oratory by fit priests.

There are but few entries as to anniversaries; there is one stating that the executors of Bishop Giffard intend to hold a solemn anniversary of his death. The reason probably was that a regular anniversary required endowments, and the piety of the executors or heirs was not always sufficient for this. In the list of anniversaries given in the Register of the Priory, the endowments of each anniversary that had been established were fully set out. The chief ones were for Alexander, abbot of Cirencester; for Radulf, the Prior, who had a mark from the fulling-mill at Overbury; William, the Prior, who may have been William Norman, William de Bedford, or William of Cirencester and Bishop William de Blois, who had a mark from the church of Solbury. What was ultimately done as to Bishop Giffard does not appear.

One item of ecclesiastical revenue that gave rise to a good deal of friction between clergy and laity is scarcely mentioned in the Register Mortuaries. The only instance [2] is a case in the parish of Pedmore in 1352:- Katherine, the widow of Philip de Litteleye, deceased, was cited to appear before the Prior in the cathedral at

[1] p. 400.
[2] p. 191.


Worcester, on a day to be appointed by the rector of the church of Oldswinford, to answer touching the matter of a mortuary. The Register mentions several corodies as either applied for or granted out of the property of the Worcester monastery; for instance:-

In 1302 [l] a corody was granted to Adam de Pyrye, citizen of Worcester, and Gunhilda his wife, or the survivor of them, from the cellarer of the Priory of Worcester, one loaf of the monks, two flagons of the better ale, and from the kitchen, as well on meat days and fish days, one dish of the monks. Another corody was granted to Robert de Humelton, citizen of Worcester, and Agnes his wife, and the survivor of them, as the buyer (eptor) of the monastery of Worcester was accustomed to receive [1].

In 1302 [2] Edward I. wrote to the Prior and Convent of Worcester asking them to give a corody to his servant, John of Bromsgrove, le Traior, the bearer, who had well and faithfully served him, and accordingly the Prior and Convent granted the said John a corody of one loaf of a monk's, and one draught of good ale daily [3].

In 1309 [4] the Prior wrote to Benedict de Paston, the bishop's agent, presenting to him Nicholas atte Zales of Humelton, acolyte, ordained to the title of a corody of King John, the collation whereof belongs to the Prior's office, and praying that the said Nicholas may be promoted to sub-deacon's orders.

A special item of revenue was granted to the Prior by the King. In 1302 [5] a writ from Edward I. to Humphrey de Waldene, keeper of the Bishoprick of Worcester, the See being vacant, directed him to deliver over to the Prior and Convent of Worcester the oblations made at the shrine of St. Wulstan, and at his tomb in the church of the Blessed Mary of Worcester, which the King had granted to the Prior and Convent whenever a vacancy should happen.

The King's grant to the Prior and Convent of these oblations [6], made at the shrine and tomb of St. Wulstan in the church of the Blessed Mary of Worcester, is also entered on the Register. What was the money value of such a grant wholly depended on the fame of the Saint, so neither the Worcester nor any other

[1] p. 34.
[2] p. 39.
[3] p. 43. There is nothing to shew what was the size of the loaf of a monk or whether it was enough for a meal.
[4] p. 89.
[5] p. 3.
[6] p. 11.


monks ever lost an opportunity of advertising their Patron. As an instance of this, a letter from the Prior and Convent of Worcester to Edward I. [1], which is entered in this Register, may be given. They write wishing him success in his campaign against the enemies of the country; "he cannot fail having the help of St. Wulstan, their Patron Saint". If the King succeeded it would be so much to St. Wulstan's credit; if he failed, it would be his, not the Saint's fault.

But the Worcester monks were not the only ones who were fond of advertising their Saint. Another entry in the Register gives an instance of how they did these things at Hereford. Thomas de Cantilupe was Bishop of Hereford from 1275-1282. One of his great acts was his quarrel with Archbishop Peckham on a question of testamentary jurisdiction. It is not easy to say who was right. The Archbishop obviously thought he was, for he excommunicated his suffragan, and not content with that, denounced him in no measured language for his cunning and disobedience. At last, Cantilupe went to Rome, and as Pope Martin IV. decided all matters in his favour, he set out in triumph on his return to Hereford, but died on the journey near Orvieto. For a time he was buried near Florence, but afterwards he was taken up and boiled; his flesh having then been got off his bones, the cleansed bones were sent to Hereford, and on their arrival there, were deposited in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral. Very soon the bones began to work miracles, or rather miracles followed from visits to their tomb. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, came to look at the bones, they at once began to bleed. Sick persons were cured in numbers, dead persons were restored to life. Edward I. sent a favourite sick falcon to the tomb, it returned cured. Another time the falcon seems to have been too precious to be sent, so the falconer went alone and made an oblation to the value of 6d.; this naturally had no effect on the Saint's bones. Edward then caused a wax model of the bird to be made and sent; this also had no effect; finally he sent the bird itself, and the falconer then spent 1s. 6d. in offerings. The result is not stated; but it was probably satisfactory as the Bishop's tomb became a source of great profit, and the votive candles an important part of the income of the officials. It was felt if the Saint was moved

[1] p. 47.


to a spot where more votive candles could be placed, a greater revenue would accrue from this source; so all was got ready to translate the Saint's bones to the Chapel of St. Katherine in the Cathedral. To advertise the Saint as largely as possible, a grand translation ceremony was to be held; to this the Bishop and the Dean and Chapter of Hereford invited the Bishop of Worcester, or the Keeper of the Spiritualities of the See for the time being. This invitation is entered in the Register, and is a fine example of the art of ecclesiastical advertising [1]:- "Desiring to glorify the Lord in His Saints, and especially in the holy confessor the blessed Thomas, formerly Bishop of Hereford, their special patron and protector, praying for their people, their city, and for the English nation, the merits of whose life having brought about miracles, the lord John the Pope [2] added him to the catalogue of twenty-two holy confessors; they are disposed to translate his body, and to raise it above the ground, and to exalt it as a precious pearl hidden in the heart of the earth; which translation was much desired in times past, now evils multiplying on all sides the people attempt this solemnity with the hope of divine pleasure and mercy. Therefore that a light of such brightness be not hidden underground, they propose for the honour they believe of God and health of the faithful, as they hope speedily to reveal him, that by his intercession the Lord may purge the whole world from errors, allay diseases, drive away famine, give peace, remove all harmful things, and grant all things in time to come, appointing for this the 8th of the Kalends of November, to wit the 25th October. They therefore pray that the same may be notified to all parishioners and others of the Worcester diocese. They have requested indulgences from the Treasury of Worcester that to an office of so great solemnity a multitude of Christian people may flock together, and that the Bishop or Keeper will deign to adorn their church by his presence". What was done on this letter is not stated, but the Hereford cleric who was transformed into this Saint became the great Saint of that part of the country. His Coat of Arms were adopted as those of the See of Hereford; his relics are still extant at the College of Stonyhurst, probably the only genuine relics of an English mediaeval Saint. The offerings at the shrines at Worcester were presumably large,

[1] p. 245. John XXII., 1316-1334.


for they formed one of the items in a dispute between the Bishop and Prior as to their respective rights in them when a vacancy arose in the office of Prior. This dispute was settled by Archbishop Langton, who decided that half should go to the Bishop and half to the monastery, but the monastery should appoint honest clerks or monks to collect them. The Bishop's half on the See becoming vacant would go to the Crown, and this was what the King granted to the monks. The use of the word shrines here in the plural might imply that they were two, and that the way the division was made was that the Bishop took the offerings made at his portion of the relics and the monastery the offerings at theirs.

While the Prior did his best to enforce his rights of visitation, he had himself to submit to the same process from the heads of his order. In 1302 [1] he was cited by the Abbots of Westminster and Malmesbury to attend a general Chapter of the Benedictine Order for the Province of Canterbury in the Chapter-house of Bermondsey. It does not appear whether the Prior attended, but the Abbots who presided at the general Chapter of the Benedictine Order [2], for the Province of Canterbury, wrote to the Abbots of Winchcombe and Pershore, ordering them to warn the Prior and Convent of Worcester to re-admit as a monk of his Church, Brother John de Dumbleton. He was to be admitted to a stall in the choir, a place in the chapter, dormitory, and refectory, and the Prior, sub-prior, cellarer, sacristan, chamberlain, precentor, and kitchener were all warned that if they neglected to admit him they would incur the penalty of the greater excommunication. John de Dumbleton had long been a source of annoyance to the Prior. At the election of a bishop on Giffard's death he raised questions about his right to vote, and renounced any such right because he had been translated to Malvern, and made Prior there [3]. To give the Prior something to consider, at Giffard's death Dumbleton remained at the Schools at Oxford, at the cost of the Worcester House, until the Presidents of the Chapter of the Benedictines for the Province of Canterbury decided whether a Worcester monk should dwell at Malvern, or where or what should he do. They seem to have settled this matter by sending Dumbleton back to Worcester. The two Abbots of Westminster and Malmesbury [4] were evidently

[1] p. 13.
[2] p. 35.
[3] p. 2.
[4] p. 78.


determined to see that their orders were carried out, for they followed up this direction to the Worcester Prior to restore Dumbleton, by directing the Prior of Shrewsbury and the Sub- Prior of Bath to write to the Worcester Prior, informing him that the two abbots, as the visitors of the Benedictine Order for the Diocese of Worcester, intended to visit his monastery in April, 1302. The notice they gave was short, and it is clear they did not intend to be trifled with, but we have not unfortunately any record of what took place on their visitation. But whatever it was, Dumbleton was reinstated in his position of monk at Worcester. The question of residence seems to have been one that caused a good deal of trouble, if the entries in the Register give a fair account of what took place. A clerk on institution to a benefice was sworn to reside there; if he absented himself without leave it was a ground for deprivation. At first the obligation to reside was evaded by means of license to study. In 1302 [1] the Prior gave a letter of dispensation to the Rector of Longdon, William de Brun, a sub-deacon, to absent himself from his duties for the purpose of study, so that he provides that his church is served during his absence. There seems to have been no limit as to time or place in this license, but the Prior soon became more careful, and the next license [2] to the Rector of the Church ot Alinton was only for three years, to study canon law and theology, and meanwhile to let his church to farm to any honest and literate man.

The Rector of Overbury [3] was allowed to absent himself from his church, and the lights of the Blessed Peter and Paul, to visit the Roman Court. The Abbot of Pershore [4] requested the Prior to allow the Rector of St. Peter the Great, Worcester, to absent himself for purpose of study. The Rector of Little Compton [5] was allowed to absent himself from his church for two years, for purpose of study, and a like license was given for seven years to the Rector of Daylesford [6]. The Rector of Preston-on-Stour [7] was allowed to be absent for study as long as the See should be vacant. The Rector of Preston Bagot was given dispensation for study, from the Annunciation, 1302, to Christmas, 1304. The Rector of Codeham [8]

[1] p. 20.
[2] p. 26.
[3] p. 27.
[4] p. 28.
[5] p. 31.
[6] p. 34.
[7] p. 62.
[8] p. 70.


was allowed to go away; generally no time was fixed, and he was also allowed to let his church to farm. A general leave was also given the Rector of Hanbury [1]. The Rector of Synesbury [2] was given five years' absence for study, and allowed to let his church, the term of absence granted him by the late Bishop having expired. The Rector of Aston Cantilow, in 1313 [3], was allowed to absent himself for two years from his church, provided he deputed a fit chaplain for the cure of souls and the services of the church during his absence. A new form of excuse for absence was adopted about this date, pilgrimage. The Rector of Morton Bagot was allowed to be absent from the Feast of St. Barnabas (June 11th) to Christmas [4], for the purpose of a pilgrimage or other lawful matter, and to receive the fruits of his church, provided the church was properly served; and in 1349 the Prior of Horseleye [5] was allowed to absent himself to make the pilgrimage of the Apostles Peter and Paul, having obtained the consent of the Prior of Burton. After this the licenses for non-residence are very few, but the practice continued.

In 1338 [6] the Prior of Studley complained of the non-residence by the Vicar of the Church of Cokton; the Archdeacon's official was sent to enjoin him in his own and the neighbouring churches to return to his vicarage and bring with him his companion, a monk, and reside, or to cite him to appear before the Prior and shew why he should not be removed.

In 1374 [7] the Vicar of Clifton next Bristol was ordered to appear before the Prior and shew cause why he should not be deprived, for absenting himself from his cure and not returning when called upon.

In 1373 [8] the Vicar of Wenrych was ordered to shew cause why he should not be deprived for non-residence and neglecting his parish; and in 1374 [9] the deacons of Kineton [8] and Hampton Episcopi were ordered by the Prior to go to Alveston and sequestrate the profits of the vicarage, as the vicar had absented himself from his vicarage and the cure of souls of his parishioners, so that divine teaching was not had there as it ought to be; that the parishioners died without the sacraments, and that some also died without baptism; that the building of the vicarage was ruinous and the vicar received and wasted the fruits of the vicarage, and

[1] p. 73.
[2] p. 87.
[3] p. 152.
[4] p. 180.
[5] p. 343.
[6] p. 258.
[7] p. 303.
[8] p. 306.
[9] p. 310.


that other scandals and perils of the soul were perpetrated there. The vicar was to be enjoined to return and reside at his vicarage and church under pain of deprivation.

This last case brings up another subject that greatly troubled the Prior, waste and dilapidation.

In 1313 [1] the Prior ordered the Archdeacon of Gloucester to enquire into the condition of the church of Pinnocschire; the new Vicar complained of the numerous defects in the chancel, and that the books, ornaments, houses and manse remained unamended by default of the late vicar.

In 1329 [2] the Archdeacon of Worcester was ordered to enquire into a complaint of the Rector of Whitton next Wych of the numerous defects in the chancel of the church, and in the books, ornaments, houses and the manse of the rectory, through default of the deceased rector.

In 1374 [3] the Dean of Pershore is ordered to sequester and sell the fruits of the parish church of Twining, as it had been for a long time destitute of the care of a priest; and as the buildings of the same in a great part had utterly collapsed, the fruits of the church were placed in the barns of the same, which were unroofed and dilapidated, so that by the rain falling on them they were wholly and daily damaged, and would, in a short time, be undoubtedly destroyed.

The Dean of Fairford [4] in 1374 was ordered to require all the rectors, vicars, and priests in the deanery, with all requisite solemnities, to denounce the Prior of Lechlade as excommunicate, and to cite him to appear before the Worcester Prior to receive condign punishment, because he refused to obey the order of the late Bishop of Worcester for the better rule of his house, and because he diminished the divine culture, wasted and denied the goods of the priory, and led a dissolute life.

In 1375 [5] the Dean of Stonehouse was ordered to sequester the fruits of the Priory of Horseleye and of the parish churches of Horseleye and Whytehurste, on account of the Prior's absence and the consequent perils to souls, and withdrawal of hospitality, the buildings of the Priory also having, to a great extent, collapsed, the profits were wasted.

These instances shew that dilapidations were, even at that date,

[1] p. 149.
[2] p. 228.
[3] p. 323.
[4] p. 330.
[5] p. 347.


a difficulty, and that the ecclesiastical officials had to be strict with regard to them. Sometimes disputes arose as to who was to keep the chancel of the church in repair. In 1420 there was a dispute between'the Abbot of Pershore l and the Vicar of Hawkesbury as to the' repair of the chancel of Hawkesbury church. The Abbot alleged the usual rule applied, and curiously enough produced a long document to prove it so long that it was not inserted in the Register on account of its prolixity! If the usual rule prevailed it is hard to see why any document at all was required. The Vicar alleged that the Vicars had never repaired the chancel. The matter was referred to two clergymen as arbitrators. The Vicar, on the word of a priest, making the sign of the Cross with his right hand on his breast, took his corporal oath, and the Abbot gave security to submit to the arbitrators. They found that the usual rule prevailed that the Vicar was liable for repairs.

On a somewhat similar matter a curious dispute arose. The Vicar is prima facie not only liable to keep the chancel in repair, but the churchyard is vested in him. This would presumably give him the right to all that was in the churchyard, including the trees. To prevent the Vicars cutting the trees down an Act of Parliament, 35 Ed. I., stat. 2, was passed, "Ne Rector prosternat arbores" which forbade Rectors cutting down any trees in the churchyard except for repairing the chancel. The parishioners of Bromsgrove and some of the neighbouring parishes set up a claim that the parishioners were entitled to cut down the trees in the churchyard; a more unfounded claim probably never was made. In his visitation of the deanery of Wych this came to the Prior's notice [2], and he at once ordered the Vicar of Bromsgrove to declare in his church and in the other churches of the Deanery of Wych on Sundays and festivals, between the service of Mass when the greater number of parishioners are present, that the alleged custom was illegal, that those who practise it incur the greater excommunication and are decreed sacrilegious, and to admonish them all to abstain from such damnable presumption, and make satisfaction for what they have done within 15 days, and if they did not, to publicly and solemnly proclaim them excommunicated. Excommunication was the Prior's great resource in all cases of discipline; if excommunication failed to produce the required result,

[1] p. 428.
[2] p. 270.


as it sometimes did, the next step was - in the case of any one holding any ecclesiastical office - deprivation. It seems that then, as now, the ecclesiastical authorities, while ready enough to excommunicate, were rather chary of depriving. In 1338 the Vicar of Great Malvern had been deprived and another clerk applied to be instituted, but the Prior [l] was cautious to get an indemnity from the new vicar against any proceedings of the old one.

One mode of deprivation was by formal sentence, but it would seem there was another, a formal deed absolving the Rector from the care and rule of his church and parishioners. An instance of this took place in 1374, when the Rector of Bishop's Clive was absolved from the care and rule of his parish [2].

In 1374 the Vicar of Clifton next Bristol was deprived, and the Patron presented a clerk and filled up the vacancy [3].

In 1394 the master of the Hospital of St. Oswald's, Worcester, was ordered by the Bishop, as visitor, to punish and correct the crimes and excesses of the master and brethren, and the Prior to appoint another master, absolving the present one from the care and rule of the house. The master admitted dilapidation of the hospital and other excesses, so it was agreed to absolve him from his duties, which was done, and by a decree of the Prior he was removed, and a brother of the hospital was shortly after appointed master.

If the Prior was unwilling to proceed to extremities and deprive, he seems to have sequestrated the profits of an office or benefice without hesitation, and to have excommunicated persons with a light heart. Cases of each class may be cited. On the complaint of the Rector of Risindon Magna, and, as far as it appears, on nothing more [4], the Prior ordered the sequestration [4] of the ecclesiastical goods of the late Rector to the value of the defects in the chancel, books, ornaments, buildings, and the dwelling-house of the rectory; and in the case of Twining, already mentioned, the Prior ordered the church and the fruits thereof to be sequestered for the repairs of the church, made necessary by the Rector's neglect.

Cases of excommunication abound in the Register. This punishment was inflicted for all kinds of cases, for instance, on all persons who had laid violent hands on a clerk [5], on the Abbot and convent of St. Peter, Gloucester [6], because they would not admit the

[1] p. 263.
[2] p. 308.
[3] p. 316.
[4] p. 271.
[5] p. 10.
[6] p. 11.


Prior to visit the House. All those who defamed A. B. [1] All those who pursued a certain Richard called Kaye, a clerk seeking the immunity of an ecclesiastical liberty, into the crypt of the cathedral. The prior, sub-prior, sacristan, precentor, cellarer, kitchener, chamberlain, hostilar, and infirmarer of Teukesbury [2] for not admitting the Prior. All those detaining debts due to the late bishop [3]; two Welshmen for fighting in a temper at Gloucester [3]; those sons of iniquity who remove and conceal tithes [3], cutting off the ears and tail of a palfrey [3], the property of the Church; those who interfere with the rights and liberties of the Prior at Bromesgrove [4], disobeying the mandates and monitions of the Prior, not paying a debt due to the Church [5]; fishing in the fishery of the Abbot and Convent of Winchcomb in the manor of Adelmynton; all these and many more were declared to be excommunicated. If the sentence was intended to have any other than a mere ecclesiastical effect, the King's permission had to be obtained, and the sheriff had to enforce it. Thus in 1373 [6], 47 Edward III., the Prior wrote to the King saying he had invoked the greater excommunication on Gyles Braban for 40 days for disobeying mandates and monitions of the Prior, and prayed the King to restrain Giles according to the custom of England. In 1374, 48 Edward III., a writ was sent to the Sheriff of Worcester [7] to enforce the ecclesiastical censure against the Parson of the Church of Twining for contumacy.

There are various instances of manumission of serfs entered on the Register. The first is at Overbury in 1302 [7]. In the same year William, son of Guy de Cropthorn [8], was manumitted by Simon Beauchamp; Richard le Wyte of Tedyngton [9], by John de Hely; Robert of Shepston by W. de Stok, and Henry of Cliva Prioris by J. de Dumbleton [10]. The Prior seems to have manumitted a serf at Dormston, and in 1303 one is recorded as manumitted at Overbury, two at Grimley in 1304 [11], Richard de Monkwood in 1305, and Simon, son of John Partrich, in 1306 [12]. The form of a manumission by the Prior is given. "I manumit and from every yoke of servitude [13] of our own or our successors absolutely and freely dismiss P. de H. and all his family and goods, the said P. having sworn that he would not be cognizant of any loss or injury to the church of Worcester, or to ourselves, or any people, by himself or any one

[1] p. 32.
[2] p. 62.
[3] pp. 72, 90, 186, 223.
[4] p. 246.
[5] p. 304.
[6] p. 285.
[7] p. 310.
[8] pp. 13, 29.
[9] p. 31.
[10] p. 38.
[11] p. 76.
[12] p. 77.
[13] p. 75.


else, and if he should be convicted of doing anything to the contrary the present deed of manumission should lose all virtue and effect, and the said P. should lose all his liberty and return to his former servile state".

The Register gives some interesting details as to the way in which the revenue of a benefice was divided between the patrons, the religious houses, and the priest in charge of the benefice. The Vicarage of Tetbury was appropriated to the Abbot and Convent of Eynsham, and a dispute arose between the Abbot and the Vicar [1] as to what each was entitled to receive. Tetbury appears to have been a portionist vicarage. The Prior of Worcester had to determine the rights of the parties, and he sent one of his monks as his Proctor to make enquiries. It was found that the vicar should have for his habitation the whole manse in which the rectors of the same were accustomed to live together. The vicar was to have all the buildings except two granges and one yard joined to them, which the rectors were to have for placing their tithes and other fruits of the church. The vicar took the rents of the houses in Tetbury, of 90 acres of arable land, and 4 of meadow, the tithes of hay, pasture for 6 bulls, and 12 quarters of corn every year from the parish which is called "Chircheschottes". The Vicar had also the tithes of wool, lambs, calves, young pigs, geese, milk, cheese, and all lesser tithes, all mortuaries and all oblations, all of which were worth 40 marks; out of this the vicar paid a priest to celebrate in the church, the stipend of one deacon 20s. yearly, and 2s. for synodals. The vicars maintained a mortar (a large bowl filled with perfumed wax which was kept burning at festivals and funerals) with nine holes to be filled with tallow. He was also to find a lamp with oil, four processional candles to be made of 8 lbs. of wax, and one candle, to celebrate Mass and communicate the parishioners at the feast of Easter. He had further to provide corn for making the Host, and incense for the principal feasts. He had to pay the procuration to the Archdeacon, the tithes and all other impositions for the tax of 12 marks. All tithes and all other items of revenue not specified went to the abbey.

This division shews pretty clearly the Vicar's position, and with certain exceptions, it comes very nearly to the usual idea that the

[1] p. 325.


vicar got the house, glebe, and small tithes, while the great tithes went to the Rector. But the singular part of the agreement is that the necessaries for the sacraments were to be found not by the parishioners, but by the priest at his own cost. It was usual to make the vicar find the mortar and wax, as he received the oblations and fees with which the light was probably endowed, but the parishioners, not the vicar, would be expected to find the bread for the Sacrament, and the incense, if not the candles. It will also be noticed that there is no mention as to who was to provide the wine for the Sacrament. Several things that the vicar was here held bound to provide were later on provided for out of Church-rates. One party to the great Church-rate controversy used to trace their origin to Saxon times, as the means of paying for the necessaries for divine service, but here are these payments which should clearly come out of Church-rates made by the vicar, and no suggestion made as to the parish paying. If there are any other parishes similarly situated to this it would be very interesting to find out when and how in such places Church-rates began to be paid, and for what purposes.

The Register contains various entries as to the administration of the Criminal Law. The rule then was that on a person being charged with a crime, if he was tried in the King's Court and convicted, he could allege that he was a clerk, that is, could claim the benefit of Clergy. If this plea was allowed he was handed over to the ecclesiastical authorities, who had their own prison, their own officers, and their own modes of trial and jugdment. They paid no heed to the trial that had taken place before the lay tribunal, but dealt with the case in their own way, and if the convicted clerk could purge himself of the crime to the satisfaction of the ecclesiastical authorities, although he had been convicted by the lay courts, he was discharged as not guilty. This procedure, which, it is said, led to great scandal, is illustrated by several cases in the Register.

The Bishop had his own prison adjoining his palace in Worcester, and it appears the prison was let to a gaoler who agreed to keep the prisoners and be responsible in a penalty if they escaped. On the 28 November, 1373 [1], the Prior leased to John Newman, citizen of Worcester, the custody of the gaol of the Episcopal Palace of Worcester, with the bodies of the prisoners

[1] p. 286.


confined in it, to be kept in a healthy and good state during the pleasure of the Prior, and Newman covenanted to pay the Prior 100 marks if he allowed any prisoner delivered to him to escape. At the date of the lease it seems there were two persons in prison, John Mallesore of Worcester and John Florence of Askeby, in the county of Lincoln, spicer. In the Prior's accounts for 1435 it appears the pay of the keeper of the prison was 1s. a. week, and he also claimed to be allowed for iron chains and other things for safe keeping the prison.

By another indenture between the Prior and John Newman [1], keeper of the prison of the Palace of the Bishop, Newman acknowledged the receipt of four clerks convicted of felonies before the King's Justices. The practice seems to have been if any clerk was indicted before the King's Court, the Bishop, or on the vacancy of the See the Prior, appointed some one to attend the trial in the King's Court and, on the clerk's conviction, to demand his delivery to the ecclesiastical authorities.

Thus there was a Commission from the Prior [2] to the Dean of the Collegiate Church of Warwick to ask for and receive clerks accused of crime before the King's Justices, Stewards and Marshals. On being received they were handed over to the ecclesiastical gaoler, and remained for a longer or shorter space in the Bishop's prison until admitted to purgation.

In 1367 [3] Richard Black, of Wych, chaplain, was charged with theft before the King's Judges and sentenced to be hanged; but claiming to be a clerk, he was delivered over to the prison of the Bishop. The Prior, says the Register, believing by the testimony of many the innocence of the said Richard, ordered the said Richard to be purged, and ordered the Archdeacon publicly to proclaim, if any opposed, they were to appear before the Prior on a given day. No one appeared. The rectors of six of the Worcester churches, and of Tiberton, Dodderhill, and Crovvle, and 8 laymen, among whom was one of the same name as the prisoner (whether a relative does not appear), all came and swore they believed him innocent, so he was discharged. This was followed by some other purgations of thieves.

Another case of purgation is recorded in 1377. John Strongmow, of Upton, clerk, was indicted before the King's Justices for

[1] p. 317.
[2] p. 313.
[3] p. 93.


robbing Alice atte Mulne, John de Brocton, and Margery, daughter of Alice, of woollen clothes of the value of 40s. and feloniously slaying the said person at Duffield. He was convicted and on demand handed over to the Bishop, and kept for some time shut up in the prison of the ordinary at the palace. Steps were then taken by the Sub-prior for his purgation. Proclamation was made of the intended purgation. No one came forward to oppose, and so the purgation was allowed, and John Strongmow declared innocent of the robbery and murder of which he had been duly convicted.

In 1338 [1] John le Veynour of Stoneleigh was indicted before the King's justices with stealing a blue robe worth 3s. and a blue tunic worth 18d., from Simon Philip, of Longedon, and convicted. He was delivered over to the Bishop and taken to the Bishop's prison at Worcester. The Prior wrote to the Dean of Kineton to publicly proclaim that if any person opposed the proposed purgation they were to appear before the Prior, or his deputy , on the morrow of the feast of St. Vincent. The dean was also ordered to find by an inquisition made by trustworthy men, both clerks and laymen, whether anything could be found why the purgation should not be proceeded with. The Dean reports that he had made proclamation and held the inqusition, and found nothing to prevent the matter being proceeded with.

Other cases might be cited, but enough has been said to shew how great was the evil of men being tried and convicted of crimes, and then allowed to go free, because they belonged to a particular class of the King's subjects.

One point remains to be mentioned; it is the habit to think that the clergy, and especially the monastic clergy, were most immoral; in a document which deals with the clerical and monastic life as fully as this Register does, it will naturally be asked what evidence is there one way or the other on the point. There are doubtless some entries that disclose that in certain instances there was immorality, but, after all, human nature was the same then as now, and from what appears in this Register, it could not be fairly said that the clergy of the 14th century were one bit more immoral than those of the 19th.

In 1313 [2] a charge was made against Sir J. de S. of committing

[1] p. 379.
[2] p. 142.


adultery with M. the wife of W. de S. his brother. He appeared before the Prior and asserted his innocence of the crime. First purgation was allowed him, and with a sufficient number of compurgators he purged himself. Whatever the offence was, there is nothing to shew what Sir J. de S. was, whether cleric or layman.

In 1313/4 [l], proceedings were taken against W. de Staneweye, the Rector of Broadwas, for adultery and incest. This no doubt, at first sight, reads very badly, but when the proceedings come to be considered, the offence appears to be much less than we should have imagined. It is alleged that the Rector kept two women (Margery, the wife of Henry Morkoc, his parishioner, and spiritual daughter, and a certain Matilda, who passed for his dairymaid), contrary to the constitution of the Lords Otto and Ottobon in England against concubinage. He was also charged with adultery and incest with Agnes, the wife of John de Sapy, sister in blood to the said Margery, Christina Peyt, wife of Nicholas Peyt, of Broadwas, and Agnes, wife of Adam Upathome. But what seems to have been his great offence was that he laid violent hands on William, called Parcy, a clerk, knowing him to be a clerk, and so by the Canon, Siquis suadente diabolo, being thereby ipso facto excommunicated, yet in his priestly office he performed divine service, many times celebrating Mass; upon which it is intended to proceed against him. No one who reads the proceedings but will see that the last charge was considered by far the worst; this charge Staneweye admitted, but said he was legally justified in doing it. He was certainly a most disreputable priest, but it looks from the proceedings that the charges against him of immorality were not made out. He was convicted, and sentenced to be deprived. He appealed to the Court of Arches, but his sentence was affirmed.

J. de S. [2] was accused of adultery and incontinence with Joan the widow of J. de L., and of relapsing. He appeared before the Prior and denied the crime since the correction made by Bishop Ginsborough.

W. de C. was also accused before the Prior of fornication with A. de M. He underwent correction, and having taken the oath of continency from thenceforth, as was accustomed, he was dismissed. In neither of these cases is there anything to shew that the delinquents were in orders.

This does not apply to the next case, J. de C. Rector of the Church

[1] p. 169.
[2] p. 142.


of B. He was accused of the crimes of adultery, incontinence, and of relapsing; he appeared before the Prior, underwent canonical correction in form of right, whereupon he was dismissed.

John de S. [1], Rector of the Church of B., came before the Prior, and tearfully set forth that whereas after he had obtained the cure of the church he committed the crime of incontinence or adultery with X. de B., A. de G., and F. de L., unmarried women of his parish, and publicly kept them for some time in his house as concubines, for which he is deeply penitent, and humbly beseeches a healthful remedy. The Prior compassionating him grants him dispensation from the aforesaid crime.

Here are two beneficed clergymen who it appears were guilty of immorality; when that has been said, all has that can be, but it must be remembered that the beneficed clergy of that time were not of necessity in the higher orders of the Church, and it was a very different thing for a person in minor orders who was next door to a layman to be guilty of immorality, and for a priest. Persons in minor orders could get papal dispensation to marry, but those in priests' orders could not. It is not therefore fair, as is often done, in passing judgment on the mediaeval clergy, to pick out all the offences committed by persons with all classes of orders, and treat them as offences by the clergy.

In the next case it does not appear the offender was a clergyman. The Prior caused to be called before him Sir W. de B. and A. de S. for the crime of adultery, as it is said, committed between them; the Prior enjoined salutary penance in form of law, and dismissed them so corrected.

In 1317 [2], Master R. de A. B., Chaplain, appeared before the Prior, and with faithful men purged himself of incontinence with Joan de la Pole, and also that he was not a common merchant, nor a common drunkard, nor a homicide, nor a common brawler, nor negligent to the visitation of the sick.

Although it may well be that the rectors or vicars of churches were only in minor orders, here there is a clear case of a clergyman, a chaplain, charged with incontinence and allowed to purge himself.

In another case the proceedings were against the lady, she was suspended from ecclesiastical rights for contumacy [2]. On making

[1] p. 143.
[2] p. 80.


submission she was absolved, and the priest was ordered to certify to all whom it might concern that E. had canonically purged herself from the report touching her adultery with W. de B.

The case of the Wroxhale nuns has already been noticed [1]. Nothing whatever was proved against them; all that could be said was, that their conduct might give occasion for scandal, and it was the apprehension of this that made the Prior admonish them as he did to avoid the appearance of evil.

The case of the Prior of Lechlade [2] is so vaguely stated that it is impossible to say precisely with what he was charged; he is said to have diminished the divine culture, wasted and defiled the goods of the Priory, and led a dissolute life, charges which might mean anything or nothing.

On the 23rd July, 1375 [3], in the garden of the Prior of Worcester, very near the great gate John Salewarp, Rector of the Church of Hanbury next Wych, came before J. Segg, notary public, and the Prior of Worcester, and swore he would not from thenceforth have carnal knowledge of a certain Margaret Joos, nor meet her in suspicious places under a penalty of 10.

The last case that requires notice is that of the Abbot of Hayles [4], Robert Alcester. A charge was made against him of committing fornication with Agnes Porter of Hayles. Over the Abbot, as he was a Cistercian, the Worcester Prior had no jurisdiction, nor could he visit the Abbey or serve any citation. As he could not proceed against the Abbot, the Prior proceeded against the woman. She was cited to appear and answer the charge, and not doing so was pronounced contumacious. Against this she appealed to the Court of Arches, and the Prior of Worcester was cited to appear and answer her appeal [5].

The Prior again cited the said Agnes to appear [6], and on her not doing so, ordered the Dean of Campden and the Rectors of Somerfeldshafte and Dumbleton to proclaim that Agnes Porter was suspended from entering the said churches, and to cite her to appear at Worcester before the Prior. This she seems not to have done, nor to have appeared in the Arches Court, for the official of that court directed the Prior to do what was necessary for the correction of the soul of Agnes Porter, by reason of her crime of

[1] p. 215.
[2] p. 230.
[3] p. 340.
[4] p. 403.
[5] p. 404.
[6] p. 405.


fornication with the Abbot of Hayles, notwithstanding the inhibition of the 9th of the Kalends of July, directed to John Vampage and others. But it must be remembered that although assumed to be guilty, the case was never really proved against Agnes Porter.

This ends the entries on this subject. Any one who reads them fairly will say that although there was a certain amount of immorality, yet it is not proved that it existed to any special degree or was common among the clergy. On the contrary, from the lack of entries against the clergy, the inference would be that they were moral. Among the clergy there were black sheep then, as there are black sheep now, but the evidence of this Register does not prove the general charge of immorality against the clergy. If it proves anything at all, it rather serves to disprove the charge of any wholesale or universal immorality.

One part of the Register is most disappointing; there are almost no references to the religious movements that were going on during the times of which it speaks. That the reforming spirit was abroad in the Worcester diocese is well known. It is said that Worcestershire was a stronghold of the Lollards; that in 1384 the then Archbishop, Courtenay, made a special visitation of the diocese to put down Lollardism; that in 1387, Bishop Wakefield issued a mandate against the Lollards and all their works, yet there are only two slight references in the Register; the first in 1302 [l]. The Prior writes to the Dean of Worcester and Gloucester, committing to their keeping certain heretical clerks convicted of crimes before the Justices of the King for gaol delivery in the counties of Worcester and Gloucester. That is all; what the crimes were does not appear, nor why the clerks were called heretical.

The other allusion is in the letter from the Prior [2] to Pope Eugenius IV., announcing the election of Thomas Bourchier as Bishop of Worcester. One of the reasons for electing him was stated to be that the same Master Thomas Bourchier was "very useful to the cathedral church of Worcester and to all the English Church, and very necessary for expelling and extirpating the errors and heresies which were daily exercised in divers parts of the diocese of Worcester". This letter was written in 1433. Under Bishop Peverell, Badby, a tailor, was sentenced to die, and was burned in Smithfield. The Vicar of Chesterton in Warwickshire was also

[1] p. 6.
[2] p. 433.


charged with receiving and harbouring Lord Cobham, but we get nothing of all this.

There are a number of matters that the entries in this Register bring out as to the manners and customs of the clergy of the middle ages which well deserve notice, but this Introduction has already reached such a length that it would not be right to extend it further by going into any such matters. It is not its object to give an exhausive account of all, or even of the principal entries in the Register, but only by bringing together some of those that are scattered over the book, without order and without method, to shew what most interesting matters there are in this volume. Looked at by itself, it may not appear to be more than a dry record of drier proceedings, the chronicle of the unimportant acts of unimportant persons, but if the entries are read together, if the earlier are contrasted with the later, and each subject is dealt with in the light of all the entries relating to it, it will be found that the Register possesses an interest that is nearly a living interest. It is almost possible to see the long train of Priors and monks appearing before us in the glimpses we get of their lives, and their acts, of what they have done, and what they have left undone, of the insight we gain into the motives that guided or restrained their actions. The impression left on our mind may be that the spirit which guided them was not one of the highest order; yet it was a spirit of loyalty to their monastery, for which and to which everything was to be sacrificed, every interest surrendered; for this they worked and visited, for this they laboured and toiled. It may be true that their aim was not the loftiest; that to exalt material over spiritual prosperity is not the highest or the noblest object for the work of a Benedictine House. But it must be recognised that their work was unselfish and unremitting, that its one object was to secure the triumph of the Worcester monastery over "all abbots, priors, deans, provosts, masters, ministers, chaplains, convents, colleges, churches", within the Worcester Diocese, and in this triumph which they achieved the Priors and the monks had their reward.

Lincoln's Inn,
November, 1897.

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