Note on St Paul's MS. WD 2 ff. 110/117-112/119 and Brit. Mus.,
Harley MS. 6956 ff. 91-96.
The early fourteenth century presents particular difficulties in compiling lists of
prebendaries of St Paul's in view of the scanty nature of the records. There are registers of bishops Baldock to Gravesend (1304-1338), but these are rather books of
precedent than detailed records of institutions and collations. There is no chapter
act book until 1411 (WD 13), and although Liber A (WD 1) contains some lists of
witnesses to charters up to about 1320, the prebends held by canons are not stated.
It would, therefore, have been impossible to compile Fasti in any detail, were it
not for the existence of two remarkable catalogues of the prebends of St Paul's, in
Liber C (WD 2 ff. 110/117-112/119) and in the missing Liber F, which now exists
only in a seventeenth-century transcript by Matthew Hutton (Brit. Mus., Harley
MS. 6956 ff. 91-96). These purport to give in order, but without any dates, the names
of the holders of each prebend from the late eleventh century to around 1340, and so
far as is known are unique among English cathedral records.
These two catalogues appear to have been kept independently. There are numerous
differences in the forms of the names, and although in the fourteenth century the
same holders are given for ten of the prebends, Liber C is continued longer than
Liber F for sixteen prebends, while Liber F is fuller in four cases. For many prebends,
the lists in Liber F end c. 1310, whereas Liber C generally continues to the thirteenforties, and there are some grounds for speculation as to whether the Black Death
may have been responsible for the sudden end to the series. This distinction between
the two catalogues is not rigid, however, for ten prebends are taken as far in Liber
F as in Liber C, while at Totenhall, a later compiler has completed the catalogue in
Liber F up to Reginald Kentwood in the fifteenth century.
Professor Brooke has argued for the reliability of these catalogues in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries. (fn. 1) As they end about 1340, the compilation for the early
fourteenth century is nearly contemporaneous, and therefore likely to be fairly
accurate. Where it is possible to check with independent sources, such as the bishops'
registers or the Calendar of Patent Rolls, this is confirmed, though occasionally the
catalogues omit the names of men who held the prebends for only a short time. The
only serious error appears to be at Islington, but here the confusion seems largely to
have been caused by a compiler at the beginning of the fifteenth century, who attempted to supply the names of holders who had been omitted. (fn. 2)
Where no other information exists, therefore, the evidence of the catalogues has
been accepted as reliable. For this reason, it has often been impossible to assign dates
for the prebendaries in this period.