This volume is the first in a projected series on the post-Reformation dioceses and
chapters. It follows the completion of the revision of Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae for the period 1300-1541, published in twelve volumes, 1962-7, (fn. 1) and one volume
covering the years 1066-1300, also on St Paul's cathedral, London, the first, it is hoped,
of a series on that period. (fn. 2)
The year 1541 was chosen to divide the mediaeval from the modern periods, as it
was about this time that considerable reorganization took place in the structure of the
English sees. In 1539 a Bill was brought into the House of Lords empowering the king
to erect new bishoprics by letters patent. (fn. 3) These came into being between 1540 and
1542, when six new sees were created. The short-lived see of Westminster was founded
in 1540, followed by Gloucester, Peterborough and Chester in 1541, and Oxford and
Bristol in 1542. (fn. 4) As a result of the dissolution of the monasteries, the monastic cathedrals of Canterbury, Carlisle, Coventry, Durham, Ely, Norwich, Rochester, Winchester and Worcester were refounded, and the prior and monastic communities were
replaced by a dean and secular canons. About the same time, there were changes within some of the dioceses with respect to their see-towns: thus the dean and chapter of
Lichfield were made the sole chapter of the bishopric of Coventry and Lichfield, where
previously the prior and convent of the dissolved priory of Coventry had formed half
of the chapter, and similarly the dean and chapter of Wells became the sole chapter of
the bishop of Bath and Wells. (fn. 5) No further reorganization took place until the nineteenth century, when the diocese of Ripon was founded in 1836, and Manchester
effectively in 1847, (fn. 6) and various territorial changes were made in other dioceses.
In 1857, the first volume of Crockford's Clerical Directory was published, followed by
further volumes in 1860, 1865 and 1868. From then it was published every other year
until it became an annual publication in 1876. The year 1857 has been accordingly
chosen as the terminal date for these lists.
The lists of dignitaries and prebendaries in Le Neve-Hardy for the period 1541-
1850 look considerably tidier and fuller than for the mediaeval period. John Le Neve
himself attempted only the cathedral dignitaries up to 1715, and T. D. Hardy was
responsible for continuing the lists up to about 1850, although his revision of Le Neve's
Fasti was published in 1854, and for compiling the lists of prebendaries. However, the
lists still have many limitations. There is a serious general lack of references for statements and facts. Page after page of lists with detailed information contains scarcely a
reference. No sources are cited for all the prebendaries at Exeter, Hereford, Lichfield,
Lincoln, Norwich, Oxford, Winchester and Worcester. At other cathedrals, when
references are given, they are generally totally inadequate, and often amount to no
more than 'Bishops' Certificates' or 'Ex Epitaphio'. Moreover, there are several gaps
in what has been attempted. For example, lists of prebendaries are given from 1588
only at Exeter, and from 1714 at Chichester and St. Davids. No prebendaries are given
for Llandaff before the end of the sixteenth century, and only very tentative lists for
Bath before about 1620, and even subsequently there are many gaps. The prebendaries
of Chichester, St. Davids and Salisbury are not given under each prebend, but in
order of appointment, although the prebends are distinctly named at the cathedrals,
and it should have been possible to compile lists for each one. As there are over forty
post-Reformation prebends at Salisbury, Hardy's method is singularly confusing.
It would appear that Hardy worked mainly from the bishops' certificates in the
Public Record Office, rather than from the bishops' registers or chapter act books.
There are some references to the Lambeth registers, and occasionally to Lincoln
registers, but those of other dioceses are not mentioned at all. In his work on Exeter,
Hardy specifically comments that Dr. Oliver has checked his lists with the bishops'
registers, as though this was not usually the case.
The task of compiling fresh lists has been much more straightforward than for the
earlier periods. Records were better kept than before the Reformation, and the lists
are therefore more nearly complete. There were no more papal provisions, no exchanges, and virtually no disputes over prebends. There are also new sources of information making it possible in many cases to give the precise date of death, or at least
the burial, as opposed to the date on which the office was filled, as recorded in the
bishop's register, which may be weeks or even months after death. Parish registers of
burials were ordered to be kept from September 1538, (fn. 1) and these are useful if it is
known which parish benefice a cathedral cleric held. These have been consulted when
they have been deposited in county record offices, or when printed, though it is seldom feasible to consult those still held by the incumbent. Periodicals such as the
Gentleman's Magazine and newspapers such as The Times have been valuable sources,
and wills and monumental inscriptions have also been cited. From 1836, it is possible
to find death certificates at Somerset House, provided the name is not too common.
For this period, too, there is a new source in the Bishops' Certificates to the Exchequer.
These annual returns of institutions made to benefices begin in the reign of Mary (fn. 2)
(though there are few before that of Elizabeth) and sometimes supply information if
the bishops' registers have been lost.
The most difficult periods for which to compile complete lists are the Reformation
and the Commonwealth. 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, the cathedral chapters
were abolished and dispersed, many of the clergy retiring to the country. Precise information of their deaths is often hard to trace, and the phrase 'died at latest by . . .' is
often used to show that a person may have died up to eighteen years before his office
was filled after the Restoration in 1660. Individual dioceses present particular problems caused by the loss or destruction of records.
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.
At some cathedrals the presentation to virtually every office was granted two or three
times during the century, though frequently the right was apparently not exercised for
various reasons. 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. 1) It was still normally the rule that on becoming a bishop
a man relinquished all other benefices, but he might have a dispensation of retainer
(commendam retinere) granted by the king. (fn. 2) This became a regular practice in the case
of the holders of poor bishoprics, many of whom successively held the deanery of
As regards editorial method, the same conventions have been employed as in the
earlier volumes on the mediaeval period, (fn. 3) except that degrees are now given in the
modern form (B.D. instead of B.Th. etc.).
As before the Reformation, there were still 30 prebends at St. Paul's, and their
names remained the same. They have been called by the names which are in
current use in the cathedral, and this volume follows that on the mediaeval period in
adopting the names given in the London Diocesan Handbook for 1962. A list of the
variants in Le Neve-Hardy and in the present place-names was given in Appendix I of
Le Neve, Fasti 1300-1541, v St. Paul's, London.
The period 1541-1857 saw various changes in the archdeaconries, however. To the
mediaeval archdeaconries of London, Essex, Middlesex and Colchester was added that
of St. Albans in 1550, consisting of 26 parishes of Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire,
which were formerly held by St. Albans Abbey. In the nineteenth century, the archdeaconries of Essex, Colchester and St. Albans were transferred from London to
Rochester, by an Act of 14 August 1836 (6 and 7 William IV c. 77), carried into effect
later by Orders in Council.
The order of precedence of the dignitaries in the cathedral remained the same as in
the mediaeval period, and is peculiar to St. Paul's. The archdeacons follow the dean in
seniority, and the treasurer precedes the precentor. (fn. 4)