Survey of London Monograph 15, St Bride's Church, Fleet Street. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1944.
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5. GUILDS, FRATERNITIES AND CHANTRIES
In the chantry certificates of 1388–9 (see Appendix I, pp. 114–119) is to be found a full account of the Guild of St Bridget and also of that of St Mary. When in 1545 Henry VIII ordered a return of all chantries and guilds, the Society of St Bridget had ceased to exist and only that of St Mary survived. There had also been Fraternities of St Nicholas, St John the Baptist and Jesus, which are mentioned in wills. Bequests are found as well to the wardens of the Light of Holy Cross, i.e. the Rood.
The brotherhood of st bridget (generally spelt Brigid and later Bride), is the earliest of the Church guilds of which we have information. In 1379 Matilda Chabham left 3s. 4d. to the 'Fraternity of St Brigide', (fn. 1) and the next year (1380) Henry Fabian, a stainer, left 6s. 8d. (fn. 2) The only other reference in wills is a bequest by Simon Pettigru alias atte Nax, a cutler, in 1391, to the 'Guild of St Brigide'. (fn. 3) The certificate of 1388–9 states that the Brotherhood of St Bridget was founded by a certain person of the parish, and that its first purpose was to maintain a light to burn before the statue of St Bridget the Virgin in whose honour the Church was founded. Towards this the members of the guild paid 4d. yearly, their payments being made quarterly. At a later date the members, aided by some supporters from adjacent parishes, resolved to find a chaplain to celebrate before the Saint's statue (that is, at the high altar), and the yearly subscription was raised to 2s. 2d. to find the wax light, the chaplain's stipend and the expenses of two torches at the procession attending each member's funeral. The certificate goes on to say that there was no compulsion, the members could retire at their own free will and, for the better administration of the guild, two or three members were chosen, at first yearly and later for a term of three years, as wardens, which offices were then filled by John Belehille and John Chamberlaine. The guild was maintained entirely by subscription and possessed no lands or other property. In fact at the time of the certificate it was languishing for lack of support and was in danger of lapsing. It is not known how long it survived after Simon Pettigru's bequest in 1391. The light of St Bridget is mentioned by John Walworth (1396) (fn. 4) and Joan Pettigru, Simon's widow (1398). (fn. 5) There are, of course, other references to the altar and a bequest by Henry Wellis to John, Chaplain of St Bridget, occurs in 1442. (fn. 6)
The brotherhood of st mary was of more importance and has a connected history from 1361 until its dissolution in 1545. The first reference in an extant will is in 1383, when Roger Ledebury leaves 6d. to the light of St Mary, a wax candle weighing 4 lb. to burn at her statue and 40d. to the fraternity named after her. (fn. 7) The guild was, however, much older than this, for the wardens, John Riley and John Walworth, certify in 1388–9 that it was 'ordained from a time to which the memory of man extends not'. Certain persons had provided the necessary funds to maintain a light before the statue of the Virgin and had afterwards built a chapel for her worship and had pro vided the stipend for a chaplain to serve her altar in the same chapel, which is now parcel of the said Church. Before the Great Pestilence there had been a membership of between 80 and 100 and Ulric, a clerk, had left a rent charge of 12s. on his house, but this had ceased at the time of the plague and the membership dwindling, neither the light nor the services were maintained. Thereafter a new effort was made, the subscription was fixed at 4s. 4d. a year, and John Wygan's legacy of 1361 provided 8½ marks for the chaplain's stipend, beside a further provision for the upkeep of the light. In the third year of Richard II (1379–80), Robert Wyteney made over to the rector, Thomas de Hayton, and three of the parishioners, Simon atte Nax, Thomas Eyremyn and William Sauvage, the reversion of a tenement of the clear annual value of four marks and, after the death of his wife Mary, granted the fee simple of the property for the benefit of the Fraternity. (fn. 1a) Robert died on All Saints' Day (1 November) 1388. The certificate closes with the statement that eleven more members subscribing 8s. yearly were required to meet expenses.
In 1475 the guild received a charter of incorporation (see Appendix I). In the intervening 86 years we have records of some twenty-five bequests of money, chiefly half or a quarter of a mark, and one yearly payment of 1 mark (13s. 4d.) in 1453 from William Forster, baker. (fn. 8) But the chief reason for the improvement in the fortunes of the guild appears to have been the legacies of Simon atte Nax (known also as Pettigru), in 1391, who endowed the two chaplaincies at St Mary's altar (see Pettigru's chantry infra). He has been already mentioned as one of the trustees of Wygan's gift, and it is significant that his will was made just two years after the urgent appeal by the two wardens in their certificate of 1389. Edward IV addressed his patent of incorporation to Richard, Bishop of Salisbury, Sir Walter Devereux and the rector of St Bride's, Alexander Legh, together with eighteen parishioners (including John Pyrule, chaplain), to found a fraternity or perpetual guild in the Church of St Bride. It was to be composed of brethren and sisters, to be governed by a master and two wardens, and to have a common seal. Permission was given to have a livery, to meet for eating and drinking in a common place, and to support two chaplains to celebrate divine service at the altar of St Mary in the north part of the Church.
From this period to its dissolution in 1545 the guild received continual benefactions through wills. In 1500 Thomas Wiseman, haberdasher, leaves the remainder of a lease (fn. 9) and John Penning, brewer, some houses to Richard Hawkeshedge, master of the Guild of our Blessed Lady and to Robert Butteler and George Body, keepers of the same guild. (fn. 10) In the same year John Yongar leaves 'my little maser' (fn. 11) and in 1518 John Wekys leaves £10, (fn. 12) Christine Parnell, beside bequeathing her house, leaves a cloth of bodkyn called St John's Cloth to the Lady Altar, (fn. 13) and Richard Felawe gives a towel of diaper to the guild. (fn. 14) The next year Gilbert Stret, vintner, bequeaths to the brotherhood 'a gret chest for to putt in there necessaries, as vestementes, chales, bokys, and other thynges perteyninge to the same aulter for the morrow masses'. (fn. 15) In 1534 Wynkyn de Worde, citizen and stationer, left 10s. to the Fraternity of St Mary 'of which I am a brother', an interesting memento of the association with the Church of this first printer of Fleet Street, and assistant of Caxton. (fn. 16) In 1545 Simon Webbe left 6s. 8d. 'to our Lady brethered to drynke in their hall'. (fn. 17) The last bequest, two years later, was that of George Davyson, girdler. (fn. 18)
The chantry certificate of 1545 (fn. 19) recites the letters patent of Edward IV (1475) and refers, as stated above, to the services of the chaplains endowed by Simon Pettigru. Beside this it mentions one gift of Agnes L'res in 1498 for an obit, supported by two tenements, yielding £2. 6s. 8d. annually. A return of the property formerly held by the guild, made in 1549 (after its dissolution), (fn. 20) shows a Common Hall, (fn. 2a) worth £30 rent, and fourteen other tenements with a total rental of £12. 1s. 8d. Some of these properties had already been sold in 1548, and it is not clear that the list of 1549 is a complete one.
There is an inventory of the vestments and plate which were confiscated (see Appendix I). It included two chalices of silver gilt, weighing respectively 20 and 13 oz., a paxbred of 7 oz., nine altar frontals, one of green and yellow, with curtains to match, one of red damask with sarcenet curtains, one of blue baudkin and white embroidered with lions and birds of copper gold, one of red baudkin with birds of gold and a set for use during Lent. Vestments of white satin of Bruges, another set of green satin embroidered with angels and many others, including one of black worsted, are mentioned. There were several sets of burses and corporals, two of them of cloth of gold and two of velvet. There were three small "pillows" for the altar and missals both printed and in manuscript. The furniture of the Hall included three table boards with trestles, a locked chest, two cupboards, and irons, spits, racks, pewter pots, fire-forks and tongs, four candlesticks, forms, chairs and the silver seal called Our Ladye Seale. The chaplaincy of the guild was not a benefice (as in the case of the perpetual chantries), and the names of the chaplains are not known. At the time of the dissolution of the guild it was being served by the two chaplains, Malachy Ferrell and William Hill, of Petigru's chantry (see infra, p. 22).
Other fraternities. The Fraternity of St John the Baptist is mentioned once only, in 1451, when John Hunte left it a bequest of 6s. 8d. (fn. 21) Two testators, Thomas Hatfield, parish clerk (1447), (fn. 22) and John Brooke (1452) mention the Fraternity of St Nicholas. (fn. 23) Each leave it the sum of 3s. 4d. There are also two bequests to the Fraternity of Jesus, one in 1487 when Robert Pykemere leaves 12d. (fn. 24) and one in 1500 when Dr William Stockdale, Dean of the College of Leicester, left it 10s. and wished to be buried before the Jesus altar. (fn. 25) There are several bequests to the Jesus box from 1516 to 1545, Robert Butler (1519) making his contribution 'to the office called Jesus Boxe occupied and used in the said Church'. (fn. 26)
Chantries. In the chantry certificate of 1545 (fn. 27) particulars are given of five chantries that were in existence in the Church in that year.
1. The first was that founded by John Uggeley and William Evesham. John Uggeley, it is stated, by will dated Tuesday after the Ascension, 1292, gave five messuages and shops in St Bride's after the death of Lettice his wife to maintain a chaplain to pray for his soul and hers. William Evesham in 1351 gave all his tenements in St Bride's and St Clement Danes to endow a chantry, but this being insufficient the two gifts were united by Ralph (de Stratford), Bishop of London. The combined rents amounted to £6. 10s. 0d. less a quitrent of 10s. to the wardens of St Leonards. The priest's salary was £6. 13s. 4d., so there seems to have been an annual deficit. It is possible that another will has reference to this chantry, for in 1341 Margaret, widow of John de Merlawe, leaves two marks issuing from tenements held by Roger Chanteclere, which her husband had from Lettice, wife of John Uggeley, to maintain a chaplain to celebrate for their souls for ever, in accordance with her husband's will. (fn. 28) We have the names of the following chaplains to this chantry, to which are prefixed those serving the chantry of St John the Baptist, with which it is thought to be identified:
Before 1429. John Swan (exchanged). (fn. 29)
1429. Peter Bedall (died). (fn. 30) Chantry of St John the Baptist.
1445–6–7. William Sayer (resigned). (fn. 32) Chantry of St John the Baptist.
1447. Stephen Proctour, will, 1463. (fn. 33) Chantry of St John the Baptist.
1465. John Mair (died), will, 1464. (fn. 34) Uggeley's Chantry.
1465–1481. John Mason (resigned). (fn. 35) Uggeley's Chantry.
1481–? 1509. John Smith, will, 1509. (fn. 36) Uggeley's Chantry.
c. 1530. John Mere. (fn. 4a) Uggeley's Chantry.
1545. James Roo. (fn. 37) Uggeley's Chantry.
The Inventory of all yt apperteyneth to ye chauntry of Uggely and Evysham. (fn. 39)
2. The second chantry was founded by John Wygan who in his will dated 1361 (fn. 40) left a house at the eastern corner of Shoe Lane and Fleet Street to provide a chaplain to celebrate for the souls of himself, Joan his wife, Reginald de Thorpe and Helen his wife. He also left the house at the opposite corner of Shoe Lane and Fleet Street to be sold and from the proceeds two chaplains were to celebrate for those already mentioned and in addition for John Thorpe (Reginald's son), William de Toppesfield and Joan his wife. Two of these, John, son of Reginald de Thorpe (will, 1349) (fn. 41) and Joan, widow of William Toppesfield (will, 1349), (fn. 42) had left money for obits in the Church, charged on property in Fleet Street, and the latter mentions Joan, her granddaughter (daughter of her son John). In 1437 John Hill gave by will (proved 1439) (fn. 43) all his lands and tenements in Bride Lane for a perpetual obit for his soul and that of his late wife, Joan, and the better sustentation of Wygan's Chantry. He probably occupied Faversham Inn, the largest property on the southern side of Bride Lane. He was City Chamberlain in 1416.
The revenue of John Wygan's property (in 1545) was £10, out of which the Chaplain (unnamed) got £5. 13s. 4d. (fn. 5a) The Warden of the Fleet and St Giles in the Fields each had 8s. quitrent, and the residue of £3. 10s. 8d. went to the repair of St Bride's Church. John Hill's property yielded £5. 4s. 8d., of which 30s. went in fees to priests, ringers, etc., and the balance of £3.14s. 8d. to the Church. (fn. 44) John Wygan was buried in the Lady Chapel and the absence of the names of his chantry chaplains may be due to their identity with those of St Mary's Guild.
The Inventorye of alle yt appertayneth to ye chauntrye of Wygan and Hille. (fn. 45)
3. The third chantry, that of John Ulsthorpe, tailor, was founded from bequests in his will of 1432. (fn. 46) He left to the rector and churchwardens, three houses, one called the Tabard (the second house east from Shoe Lane, in Fleet Street) and two adjoining the way to the churchyard on the south side of Fleet Street, one of which was called the Raven. The rents from this property were to maintain a chantry in the chapel of St Anne for his soul and those of his parents, Alice his late wife, Reymond his son and his other children, and Thomas Duke, and for the good estate of his wife Isabel while she lives and for her soul after her death. He also appoints the first chaplain Thomas Rede, whose will is dated 1460, and who leaves bequests to 'my Chantry', (fn. 47) The revenue from the houses in 1545 amounted to £10. 13s. 4d. The chantry priest at the time, Robert Walker, received £7. 13s. 4d., and £4 was spent on a perpetual light, 8s. 10d. for the obit, and quitrents of 5s. to St Giles and 11s. 6d. to the Bishop of Salisbury. These figures showed a yearly deficit of £1. 5s. 4d. (fn. 48)
In addition to the above John Ulsthorpe gave to the Church for its maintenance and reparation, three shops in Fleet Street between a house belonging to the Abbey of Peterborough on the east and the entrance to the White Horse Inn on the west but since alienated to the support of St Bride's Institute.
The Inventorye of alle that belongith to Ulstroppes chauntry. (fn. 49)
4 & 5. The fourth and fifth chantries were those of Simon Petigru alias at Nax, cuteler, who, in 1391, left funds to maintain two chaplains to sing at the altar in the Lady Chapel, where he wished to be buried. (fn. 50) His wife Joan's will is dated 1398, and she directed her burial beside him. (fn. 51) In 1545 the property in which the money had been invested yielded £13. 8s. 4d. The two chaplains serving at the time, Malachy Ferrell and William Hill, were together receiving in stipends £13. 6s. 8d. They are described as chaplains 'serving the same chantries and praying for the brethren and sisters of Our Lady and Fraternity' and it is therefore probable that Pettigru's property was one of the chief supports of St Mary's Guild. A payment of tenths due to the King of £1. 6s. 8d., subsidies to the chaplains £1. 16s. 0d. and quitrents to the Warden of the Fleet, 15s., and the Dean of Rochester 6s., brought the total outgoings to £17. 10s. 4d., a deficit of £4. 2s. 0d. (fn. 52)
1274. William de Ware left houses at Fleet Bridge, and his leasehold interest in a house held of Joan de Rotherhithe and in 2½ acres of land at Battersea to maintain a chantry. (fn. 53)
1279–80. John de Fleet, capper, left to John, his firstborn, a tenement in the parish charged with five marks in rent to maintain a chantry. (fn. 54)
1307. Nicholas Beaubelot, spurmaker, left a tenement to his wife Cecilia for life and after that to maintain a chantry for his father and mother. (fn. 55) The property is given in the certificate of 1545 and yielded £3. 13s. 4d. less a quitrent of 4d. to St Giles.
1316. Hugh de Strobi left a tavern and eight shops in the parish to Sarah his wife to endow a chantry with two priests after her death for their souls and those of his parents Robert and Alice. (fn. 56) This is subject of a Pardon for not obtaining the royal licence. (fn. 57)
1328. Joan, daughter of Eleanor de Kent, left her tenement in Fleet Street to her son John to provide a chaplain to celebrate daily for her soul. (fn. 58)
1337. Thomas de Chetyndon left to his godson Thomas, son of Walter de Mordon, a tenement to provide six marks a year for a chaplain to pray for his soul. (fn. 59)
1348–9. Robert de Asshe left houses to William the elder, his son, charged with a payment of ten marks to two chaplains celebrating for the souls of himself and Alice, his wife. (fn. 60)
1361. John Gilbert, baker, left his house in Fleet Street to provide a chantry priest, after death of Margaret his wife. (fn. 61)
1375. William de Bathe left part of the rent of his house in Fleet Street for four chaplains to celebrate for his soul. (fn. 62)
1378–9. Matilda Chabham directed that 100 Masses should be said for her soul and that of her late husband, Roger Porter. (fn. 63)
1383. Nicholas Spuryer left a yearly rent of twelve marks issuing from a tenement of Thomas Brix and Elene his wife in Fleet Street to endow a perpetual chantry and a chaplain to pray for the souls of Thomas de Banham, first husband of Elene, her soul and that of her second husband, Thomas Brix. (fn. 64) The will of Elena, relict of Thomas Brix, is dated 1360–1, and she directs her burial in the Chapel of St Mary next the tomb of Thomas de Banham. (fn. 65)
1383. Ralph Archer (died). (fn. 66)
1407–8. Richard Bayford (exchanged). (fn. 67)
1383. Thomas de Weston. (fn. 68)
1408. Robert Molasyn. (fn. 69)
1396. John Walworth, vintner, endowed a chantry for his soul and those of Agatha, his late wife, and Geoffery and Maud, his father and mother. (fn. 70)
1433. Agnes Clerke alias Page desired to be buried in the churchyard next Simon Clerke her husband. She left ten marks to supply a chaplain to celebrate for the souls of John Page and Simon her husbands, at the Altar of St Katherine. (fn. 71) This may be the 'Chantry of St Katherine the Virgin' to which John Bokyngham was instituted in 1445 on the death of Robert Orum, the last Chaplain. (fn. 72)
1444. Gilbert Page, pasteller, leaves his shop to provide a perpetual obit. (fn. 73)
1449. Robert Croke, armourer, leaves a house in Fleet Street charged with a perpetual obit. (fn. 74)
1449. Austyn Hawkins, grocer, left his house in Fleet Street for a perpetual obit. (fn. 75)
1497. Robert Coldham left property to maintain a chantry priest. (fn. 76)
1534. Wynkyn de Worde endowed 'a yerely solempne obit'. (fn. 77)