The Medieval Records of A London City Church St Mary At Hill, 1420-1559. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1905.
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CHAPTER VII. OUR TEXT COMPARED WITH OTHER CITY CHURCH RECORDS.
An examination of other pre-Reformation city church records will show us that the story of the church of St. Mary at Hill as shown by our text is virtually representative of the churches of medieval London. At the Guildhall Library are deposited the preReformation records of three London city churches in addition to those forming the text of this volume, the churches being respectively those of St. Stephen Walbrook, St. Andrew Hubbard, and St. Mary Woolnoth.
The records of these three churches consist of the accounts of the churchwardens alone, and though they follow more or less closely the same plan as that adopted in St. Mary's accounts are very inferior in scope and arrangement.
St. Stephen Walbrook.
This MS. shows us that the distinction between the parson and
parish priest was not restricted to the church of St. Mary at Hill.
The words are:—
"to speke with Master parson when the parische prest was in the cowntre"
St. Andrew Hubbard, Eastcheap.
These accounts were kept sometimes from the feast of the Annunciation, sometimes from Easter to Easter or days in April, sometimes from Michaelmas, the two wardens holding office for one, two, and sometimes three years successively. One warden, by name Ralph Clark, appears to have held the office for years.
On St. Andrew's Day, 1456–7, money was gathered 'at þe Churche dure,' 'margaret þe ffruterer standynge' there (leaf 5). The next year money was again similarly gathered, at this time some one 'sittyng at þe Churche dure' (leaf 9).
In 1475 (leaf 32) the following entry occurs, but whether Margaret Kene paid £2 to beg for herself, or whether her receipts on behalf of the church amounted to as much, can only be guessed, but from the roundness of the sum, the former seems the more probable:—'Item, resceyued of Margaret Kene for hir stondyng atte Chirch dore for a hole yere—ij l'i.' In 1489–90 (leaf 57) £2 3s. 8d. was 'Resceyved of almes in the strete.'
In 1467–9 (leaf 22, back) 'Richemondes wyfes pewe' is mentioned; also eightpence was paid 'to a carpenter and to a dawber for makyng of a thing in the north side of the chirche for droppyng[s ?] of candell' (leaf 23).
On more than one occasion the wardens record the gift of very secular articles to the church: 'a harnes of Syluyr,' sold for twoshillings and twopence (leaf 14, back); 'an old gown that was geven to the chirche, by vs sold—ij s vj d' (leaf 28).
The 'boxe that the sacrament hangith in' is mentioned on leaf 40, and on the back of the same leaf reference is made to the payment of a man 'while we were Clerkles to bere a torche with the hosell,' this being a particularly interesting reference to the carrying of a light before the sacrament as it was borne to a sick parishioner.
A curious item occurs on leaf 51, where the payment of twopence is recorded 'for loppyng of the tree in the chirche yarde for caterpillers.' This tree apparently produced a regular income to the church.
In 1523 fourpence was paid to a priest 'for playing on the
organs the iijde day of octobre' (leaf 117, back). And in the same
year (leaf 119) the following very curious entry was inserted:—
"It ys agreyd by ye consent of ye holl paryshe the vj daye of Septembar anno 1545:—
ffor all ded bodys that shall dye withyn the paryshe that shall be carryed too powlls, yat the cwrat shall have of ye same part yat ys [..?..] syon for hys paynns, for all ayg[g?]s [ages?] yat the sayd Corse shall be, iiij d, and the byrryar wyll have mase & dyrryge to agre withe the sayd cwratt. And the clarke, for a knyll of a howar long and for hys paynns to powlles, viij d; yf he saye anye dyryge or ryng anye peylles to paye hyme as they canne agre. And yt yys allsoo agreyd of the remorse of charyte for thes parteys above naymyd that they shall paye all swche costes as ys ordynaryly payd yn the paryshe and the rest to be payd owt of the churche boxe by ye handes of ye cherche wardenns; yat ys to saye, the ordynarye ys for everye berar of ye bodys ij d, and for everye berar of ye torchys ij d, and for every howslyng bodye for ye pytt & knylle xiiij d, and wnder age all ta paye x d, and thys to be fwllfylled: ytt ys so thowght meyt and determynyd by ye sayd paryshnars yat thys shall ynduar and contynue for ye spayse of wonn holl yere from the daye abovesayd; ther naymys that was consentyng as followythe.
The records of the church of St. Andrew, Holborn, to which my attention was kindly directed by Dr. Wickham-Legg and Mr. St. John Hope, are still kept at the church. Such, too, is the case with the records of the church of St. Margaret Patens.