THE MUNIMENTS OF THE BISHOP OF WORCESTER PRESERVED IN HIS REGISTRY AT WORCESTER.
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
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
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
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.