Pages ix-xi

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: Volume 2, Chichester Diocese. Originally published by Institute of Historical Research, London, 1971.

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Introduction (fn. 1)

Le Neve-Hardy's Fasti for Chichester cathedral published in 1854 consist of lists of the dignitaries and a chronological list of prebendaries. Le Neve confined his work to the dignitaries up to 1715, and T. D. Hardy continued his lists up to 1850. These are largely accurate, but scant in detail and in references to sources. Hardy was responsible for adding the lists of prebendaries, but began only at the arbitrarily chosen date of 1714. The single source he used was the bishops' certificates in the Public Record Office, which give only the date of collation. Thus, with the bishops' registers and chapter act books not consulted, there are no details of installations or deaths. Moreover, he followed the confusing method of giving the prebendaries in chronological order of their appointment, instead of under their respective prebends, which are always clearly named in the records. In this revision an attempt has therefore been made to compile new lists of prebendaries from 1541 to 1714, and from 1850 to the first publication of Crockford's Clerical Directory in 1857, and also to revise the existing lists by giving fuller details of appointment and relinquishment of offices, with precise references to sources.

The task of compiling fresh lists at Chichester is more straightforward than for the mediaeval period in that there were no more papal provisions, few exchanges and virtually no disputes over prebends. Records were generally better kept, and there are often various alternative sources where information may be found. This is particularly important at Chichester, since there are several serious gaps in the series of bishops' registers. There are none for the periods, 1571-8, 1619-70, 1678-85 and 1793-1842. (fn. 2) These gaps are less serious than they would have proved in the mediaeval period, and despite them it has been possible to produce lists which are probably virtually complete, because of the various other sources where information relating to institutions is recorded. At Chichester, the most obvious of these is the record in the chapter act books (Cap. 1/3) of the installation in the cathedral of the prebendary or dignitary, which usually followed within a few days of the collation. Some mandates for this installation also exist (Cap. 1/8), which may date the collation more precisely, as they generally seem to have been issued the same day. Occasionally, use has been made of appointments by the prebendary of proxies to stand in for him at the installation (Cap. 1/8), and it may be assumed that the installation generally followed within a few days. After the installation, the new prebendary made an installation bond (Cap. 1/9), and this again may date the installation, as it was usually made on the same day. Documents of all these classes have been preserved in good numbers at Chichester. In this period an alternative source to the bishops' registers is the bishops' certificates at the Public Record Office (E 331 Chich.). These annual returns of institutions to benefices began in the reign of Mary, (fn. 3) though there are none in existence for Chichester before 1585. They are very valuable in the absence of a bishop's register, although they do not give details of how the prebend was vacant, and the series is not complete. If all these sources fail, a rough idea of the date of institution may sometimes be obtained from the composition books at the Public Record Office (E 334), in which is recorded the agreement made by the new prebendary with the Exchequer to pay by instalments on stated dates the first-fruits due from him, though these compositions seem to have been made with varying degrees of promptness after the institution.

The periods of the Reformation and the Commonwealth present particular problems. During the reigns of Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I, there were successive deprivations which are not always fully recorded, and cannot be confidently reconstructed. During the Commonwealth period, after the sack of the cathedral in December 1642- January 1643 and the abolition of cathedral chapters, the cathedral clergy were dispersed and many retired to the country. Episcopal and chapter records were of course not kept, (fn. 4) and precise information of deaths is often hard to trace. The phrase 'died at latest by . . .' is often used here to show that a person may have died up to eighteen years before his office was filled after the Restoration in 1660.

In many cases it is possible to give a much more precise date of death than for the pre-Reformation period. The date on which the office was filled, as recorded in the bishop's register, may of course be weeks or even months after the death of the previous holder. From 1836, it is possible to find death certificates at Somerset House, provided the name is not too common. Periodicals such as the Gentleman's Magazine and newspapers such as The Times record the deaths of many cathedral clergy. Chichester, however, was not one of the wealthiest cathedrals, and many of the prebendaries were not men of national significance. Hence their deaths have to be sought rather in local newspapers or they have to be traced to their parish benefices, not only in Sussex, but in other parts of the country also. Parish registers, which were ordered to be kept from September 1538, (fn. 5) are another new source, if not of the date of death, at least of burial. A large number of parish registers have been deposited at the West Sussex County Record Office, though others are still held by the incumbents. If parish registers fail, there is always the possibility of finding the burial in the bishops' transcripts (Ep. 1/24, 11/16, 111/8), which were copies of each year's entries in the parish register sent to the bishop by the churchwardens. Finally, a monumental inscription may be discovered with date of death, often again in a parish benefice, and naturally there are more of these still in existence than for before the Reformation.

Some changes in procedure in this period deserve mention. In the sixteenth century, there were frequent grants by the bishop of the advowson of prebends or offices with the right of presentation to them at the next vacancy, which grants were then confirmed by the cathedral chapter. In the text of these Fasti, the presenter is said to be patron hac vice, and if there is a record of the earlier grant of the advowson this is also given. This practice occurs only very rarely in the seventeenth century. Another new custom was that of granting to the archbishop of Canterbury the presentation to a specified prebend or office on the next vacancy, in lieu of homage, a practice known as 'his grace's option'. (fn. 6)

There were successive changes in the method of appointing bishops after the abolition of all papal jurisdiction in 1534, and each change is exemplified in a bishop of Chichester. (fn. 7) Henry VIII appointed Richard Sampson and George Day by sending to the chapter a licence to elect containing the name of the person who was to be elected. In Edward VI's reign, the election was abolished, and John Scory was appointed by the king alone. John Christopherson, in Mary's reign, received papal provision. Under Elizabeth I, Henry VIII's method of appointment was restored, and William Barlow and subsequent bishops were appointed by the Crown issuing a formal licence to elect, and with it a letter missive containing the name of the royal nominee. The appointment of deans was also entirely in the gift of the Crown. The fiction of an election by the chapter was preserved, but this was now so purely formal that often apparently the election, bishop's confirmation and installation in the cathedral took place on the same day. (fn. 8)

Perhaps the most striking change at Chichester was the growth in importance of the residentiary canons, whose position was defined by cathedral statute in 1574. The normal administration of the cathedral was entirely in the hands of the dean and four residentiaries, and the rest of the prebendaries and even dignitaries were summoned only for rare formal occasions. The chapter act books become a record of the activities of this small, and now carefully defined body, admission to which was highly prized and often vigorously contested. (fn. 9)

As regards editorial method, the same conventions have been employed as in the volumes for the later mediaeval period, (fn. 10) except that degrees are now given in the modern form (B.D. instead of B.Th. etc.).

The number of prebends, dignities and archdeaconries at Chichester cathedral remained the same during this period as it was just before the Reformation. As in the earlier volume, the dignitaries are given in the order of their precedence in choir, (fn. 11) while prebends are spelt according to the Diocesan Directory for 1968-9.


  • 1. For the benefit of those readers who may not have occasion to consult the first volume in the series on the post-Reformation dioceses and chapters, we repeat here some parts of the general introduction to the series given there.
  • 2. Some of these registers must have been kept originally and subsequently lost, e.g. there is a cover and one page of the register of Richard Montagu 1628-38 (Ep. 1/1/9). However, it is a matter of some conjecture as to whether the registers from 1793 to 1842 have been lost or whether they ever existed. A comment by dean Chandler in 1838 that 'the proceedings of the visitation of 1832 will be found at large in the bishop's register' may suggest that a register was being kept, or that at least he thought that it was, unless he was referring to a visitation book (Cap. 1/4/1 f. 125).
  • 3. Stat. 1 Mary sess. 2 c. 10.
  • 4. There is, however, a group of mandates by the bishop for the installation of prebendaries in Cap. 1/8 which are copies made at the Restoration of mandates issued during the Interregnum.
  • 5. L. & P. xiii ii no. 281.
  • 6. Burn, Eccles. Law 1 239.
  • 7. See p. 1 nn. 1, 3, p. 2 n. 1.
  • 8. See p. 6 n. 1.
  • 9. See p. 71.
  • 10. Le Neve, Fasti 1300-1541, xii Introduction, Errata and Index pp. 7-10.
  • 11. Statutes of Lincoln Cath., ed. H. Bradshaw and C. Wordsworth (Cambridge, 1892-7) 1 137.