Precentors

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Institute of Historical Research

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Diana E. Greenway

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1968

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22-25

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'Precentors', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: volume 1: St. Paul's, London (1968), pp. 22-25. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=33807 Date accessed: 17 September 2014.


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PRECENTORS

The dignity was not properly established and endowed until 1204, with the appointment of Benedict of Sawston, (fn. 4) and then had a low place in the order of precedence, after the archdeacons and treasurer. (fn. 5) This situation, which was unique among the English secular cathedrals, where the precentor normally ranked second to the dean, (fn. 6) was challenged by Benedict, who attempted but failed to take over the stall of the archdeacon of London, Peter of Blois. (fn. 7) The lowly position occupied by the precentor at St. Paul's may have had its origin in the period before 1204, when four or five men used the title cantor, but only two were canons and held prebends. In the middle years of the twelfth century two or three of the men who are called cantor, who presumably discharged the basic cantorial duty of ruling the choir, seem to have been members of the bishop's household, and not full members of the chapter. (fn. 1)

Cantores BEFORE 1204

Levegar Preb. Finsbury

Occ. twice only: as can. and cantor 1104/5 (WD 4 fo. 19/23r-v, pd. in Rep. p. 61b), and as cantor in prebendal cats. for Finsbury.

Nicholas

Prob. two individuals:

(1) occ. once only, as cantor, [Apr. 1138 × Apr. 1142] (A/25/257, pd. in Rep. p. 28a). (fn. 2)

(2) occ. as chapl. of Gilbert Foliot I, bp. of London (1163-87), and as cantor, [1163 × c. 1181] (G.F.L. no. 462). (fn. 3)

M. Ralph (fn. 4)

Clk. of Gilbert Foliot I, bp. of London (1163-87), occ. as cantor several times: first shortly after 1163 (G.F.L. no. 438), and last [1186 × 87] (G.F.L. nos. 408-9); and occ. as precentor three times (G.F.L. nos. 374, 411, 468).

Walter son of Walter (fn. 5) Preb. Finsbury

Occ. as clk., not called cantor, [July 1183 × Nov. 1184] (G.F.L. no. 404). First occ. as can. and precentor, 7 Oct. 1189 (Mon. Ang. IV 393(1)). Occ. c. 1192 (D.S.R. I). Last occ. after 6 Nov. 1202 (cart. of Binham: B.M., Cotton MS. Claud. D. xiii fo. 90r-v). Commem. 21 Sept. (Canterbury obit.: B.M., Cotton MS. Nero C. ix fo. 12r). So presum. d. Sept. 1203.

PRECENTORS 1204-1300

M. Benedict of Sawston (fn. 6) Preb. Nesden

Appd. and dignity endowed by 26 March 1204 (Gibbs nos. 49, 58). Bp. of Rochester, el. Dec. 1214, cons. Feb. 1215.

[?M. Gervase of Howbridge Preb. Hoxton

Called precentor 1216 (R. de Wendover Chronica, ed. H. O. Coxe (Eng. Hist. Soc., 1841-4) 111 370), but prob. an error for chanc. (see below p. 26).]

M. William de Rising (fn. 1) Prebs. unident., Rugmere

Occ. as precentor once only, [June 1225 × May 1226] (cart. of Waltham: B.M., Cotton MS. Tib. C. ix fos. 152v, 155r). (fn. 2) Occ. without title [June 1225 × Dec. 1228] (Ely, Diocesan Records. Liber M (Cambridge, Univ. Libr., G. 3. 28) pp. 176-7). (fn. 3) Became archdcn. of London by March 1234.

M. Peter de Neuport Preb. Hoxton

Occ. after 1231 (cart. of Stoke by Clare: B.M., Cotton MS. App. xxi fo. 53r-v; cf. cart. of Walden: B.M., Harley MS. 3697 fo. 202r), (fn. 4) and on 2 Apr. 1234 (Gibbs no. 182). Said by Newcourt to occ. as Peter the precentor 1227 and Dec. 1233 (Newcourt 1 98 n. e, citing 'Baga Elien. Dioc.'), but Peter de Neuport occ. without title after June 1229 (cart. of Stoke by Clare: B.M., Cotton MS. App. xxi fos. 52v-53r). (fn. 5) Became archdcn. of London before June 1236.

Maurice [?of Harlow] [Preb. Twiford]

Occ. twice only: [Nov. 1229 × Nov. 1241] (cart. of Walden: B.M., Harley MS. 3697 fo. 40r), (fn. 6) and June 1235 × June 1236 (reg. J. Stokesley: Guildhall Libr., MS. 9531/11 fo. 54v). Possibly to be identified with the only can. of the period with the first name, Maurice of Harlow, preb. of Twiford, where he was succeeded by Dec. 1237.

M. John de Norton Preb. Wilsden

Presum. not appd. until after 18 July 1236, when still called can. (Gibbs no. 87). First occ. 14 Dec. 1237 (Gibbs no. 99). Last occ. 12 Apr. 1240 (cart. of Castle Acre: B.M., Harley MS. 2110 fo. 120v). But may occ. earlier or later, [Nov. 1229 × Nov. 1241] (A/28/283). (fn. 7) Became archdcn. of Middlesex by May 1242.

M. Thomas of Stortford (fn. 8) Preb. Mapesbury

Occ. before May 1241 (Gibbs no. 149) and in 1241 (Gibbs no. 272). Commem. 1 Dec. (Obits. II fo. 110r, III fo. 96v, IV pp. 73, 103).

M. Roger de Orsett (fn. 9) Preb. Portpool

First occ. May 1241 (A/17A/1318) and before Nov. 1241 (Gibbs no. 338). (fn. 10) Last occ. 1243 (B.M., Harley MS. 6956 fo. 28r, from an original deed formerly in St. Paul's 'in thecis'). Prob. d. before 6 Nov. 1250 (A/24/466, cal. in Rep. p. 26b, but wrongly assigned to '1251'). Commem. 14 Jan. (Obits. II fo. 107r, III fo. 94v, IV pp. 62, 74).

M. Robert de Barton Preb. Wilsden

Presum. not appd. until after 25 Aug. 1245, when still called can. (Simpson, Two inventories p. 464). First occ. as precentor, recently admitted, 1246 (Rot. R. Grosseteste, ed. F. N. Davis (Canterbury and York Soc. x) p. 228). Became dean 1257, by Aug.

Robert Le Moyne Preb. Sneating

First occ. before Nov. 1258 (A/25/710 and A/25/1735), (fn. 11) but perhaps to be identified with the unnamed precentor who occ. 9 Dec. 1257 (Reg. Alex. IV no. 2364). Last occ. 1260 (A/30/421, cal. in Rep. 33a). Treas., by July 1262.

M. John de Wengham Preb. Hoxton

First occ., as John the precentor, 21 Aug. 1262 (Statutes p. 385), but possibly appd. before July 1262 by his uncle, bp. Henry de Wengham I. Last occ. 18 March 1299 (C.C.R. 1296-1302 p. 297). D. by 31 Aug. 1305 (reg. J. Dalderby: Lincoln, Lincs. Archives Office, Reg. II fo. 283v). Commem. 17 Aug. (Obit. IV pp. 69, 92). Nephew of Henry de Wengham I, bp. of London (1260-62) (Reg. Alex. IV no. 2935).

Footnotes

4 See Gibbs nos. 49, 58.
5 See, e.g., Statutes p. 13.
6 See Statutes of Lincoln Cathedral, arranged H. Bradshaw, ed. C. Wordsworth (Cambridge, 1892-7) 1 136-8.
7 See Peter of Blois's complaint to Innocent III, Petri Blesensis Opera Omnia, ed. J. A. Giles (Oxford, 1846-7) II 170 ff. (no. 217); cf. Innocent III, Cal. Letters no. 797A, and Selected Letters no. 40.
1 But at Salisbury, where the precentor ranked second to the dean, he had no prebend, see Statutes of Lincoln Cathedral 1 137.
2 Temp. Ralph of Langford, dean (above p. 5), and before Ailward became archdcn. of Colchester (above p. 18).
3 See G.F. p. 290. He was prob. the same as Nicholas the chapl. (G.F.L. no. 398), and M. Nicholas the chapl. (G.F.L. no. 374). Nicholas cantor left a vestment to St. Paul's, see Simpson, Two inventories p. 487.
4 See also G.F. p. 290.
5 Son of Walter Fitz Robert, see G.F. p. 281 n. 1, and G.F.L. p. 542.
6 Cambs.; see Pedes Finium relating to Cambridgeshire, ed. W. Rye (Cambridge Antiq. Soc. 8vo ser. xxvi) p. 1 (bis).
1 Cf. above p. 11 n. 3.
2 Temp. Geoffrey de Burgh, bp. of Ely, and before conf. of this charter, May 1226 (B.M., Cotton MS. Tib. C. ix fo. 155v).
3 Temp. Geoffrey de Burgh, bp. of Ely.
4 Temp. Robert de Bonewell, archdcn. of Middlesex (above p. 17).
5 Temp. Roger Niger, bp. of London (above p. 3).
6 Temp. Geoffrey de Lucy, dean (above p. 6).
7 Temp. Geoffrey de Lucy, dean (above p. 6).
8 Bishop's Stortford, Herts., of which he was parson, 1217 (A/29/331).
9 Prob. Orsett, Essex, where a M. Roger was rector before 1241 (Hackett, Reg. Eleemosynariae p. xx).
10 Temp. Geoffrey de Lucy, dean (above p. 6).
11 Temp. Philip Lovel, king's treas. (see C.P.R. 1258-66 pp. 1, 4).


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