The Bishop's Registry at Worcester

Pages 204-205

The Manuscripts of Lincoln, Bury St. Edmunds Etc. Fourteenth Report, Appendix; Part VIII. Originally published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1895.

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Chief among the muniments of the bishop are the Episcopal Registers, which form a noble series extending from the pontificate of Godfrey Giffard, 1268, to the present day. To write even a cursory description of their contents would require at least a volume, and I must limit myself to giving a bare statement of their compass, and to noticing their occasional irregularities.

The Registers are numbered continuously, the last completed volume, xlv., ending in December 1883; but vol. xi. is in two parts, so that the total number at present is forty-six. Volumes i.—xxxiii. were bound in vellum by direction of Mr. registrar Hurd and under the supervision of Mr. Henry Clifton about seventy years ago. The remainder are in rough calf.

There is some confusion in the registers of bishops Montacute, Bryan, and Wakefield, portions of the first and third being inserted in the register of bishop Bryan, part ii. The register of bishop Giuglio dei Medici (pope Clement VII.) mentioned by Nash does not exist; but in its place (vol. xxvii.) I find a series of carefully mounted leaves and fragments of the registers of 1516, 1523, 1527–1536, and 1542. A calendar and indices made by Dr. Prattinton in 1825, are prefixed. Vol. xxix. contains the two registers of bishop Latimer; vol. xxx. that of bishop John Bell. The next volume bears the following various headings on the leaf which once formed the cover:—


33. Regirm Dñi [Nichi Heath 1544 (fn. 1)]Richardi Pates 1556

Hugonis whoper (fn. 2) Latimer Joh[an]is whooper

Et Regim. d[omi]ni Edwini Sandes Anno 1560

et folii huius libri 13 (fn. 3)

Vol. xxxiii. ends the register of bishop Prideaux in 1646; vol. xxxiv. begins that of bishop Morley in 1660.

The volumes have rough indices, which are also copied out into two separate volumes. Besides these there is a combined index to the whole series of registers down to and including vol. xxxiii., in other words to all the registers in vellum. This was made in the seventeenth century and is classified under the names of places.

The registers are kept in a cupboard in the Registrar's room, the shelves of which are too near together for most of the volumes to stand upright. They thus suffer an unnecessary amount of wear and tear when required for use; some resting on their fore-edges and some lying flat; and the clasps with which they are furnished are an additional cause of injury. Their position also from the point of view of security from fire leaves much to be desired.

The Acts of the Consistory Court and Books of Depositions kept in a press in the clerks' room in the Registry are modern. There is a rough handlist of their contents made by the late J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps in 1881. The only other volumes specifically distinguished as the bishop's are preserved in the Will Room adjoining the Registry. They are all modern, and present few features of interest. Among them may be mentioned the manuscript "Notitia Dioec. Wigorn." written by chancellor Price early in the last century. It comprises, digested under headings, a mass of information relating to the history of the diocese, which Price had collected from a laborious study of the muniments. On f. 120. 2° are "Collecta e Lib. nuper in custodia Dan. Hughes," which contains much of interest especially for the history of the reformation in the city of Worcester.

Of single documents the wills are the most numerous. There is also a certain number of bonds entered into before marriage. One of these, framed between plates of glass and preserved by itself with the bishop's registers, is the bond entered into by Fulk Sandells and John Rychardson for the marriage license of William Shagspere and Anne Hathwey of Stratford, 28 Nov. 25 Eliz. It is printed in J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps' "Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare" (5th ed., 1885), pp. 453 f.

At least one other volume and a good many documents belonging of right to the episcopal muniments have been already noticed among those of the chapter.

I conclude by expressing my thanks to the Right Rev. the Lord Bishop of Worcester for his readiness in according permission to examine his archives and to Mr. J. H. Hooper, M.A., his Lordship's Registrar, for doing everything in his power to facilitate my inspection.

Reginald L. Poole.


  • 1. Deleted.
  • 2. These two words are by the same hand; the second is obliterated, then "Latimer" added, finally all three struck out.
  • 3. Now f. 33, where the former "3" has been corrected from "1."