Provosts of Wells

Pages 113-115

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 7, Bath and Wells. Originally published by Institute of Historical Research, London, 2001.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Provosts of Wells


The office of provost maintained a link at Wells with the older system of chapter organization that had been replaced by bishop Robert in the middle of the twelfth century. The early provosts had been responsible for administering the community's property, an arrangement which was open to abuse and was abolished by Bishop Robert, who divided the estates into prebends (EEA X no. 46, referring to 'indebitis prepositure oppressionibus'). Some of the newly created prebends, however, such as those of Combe and Winsham, consisted not of individually managed estates, but of money payments. Inevitably the administration of such prebendal payments came to be put in the hands of officials, called provosts, who were appointed by the bishops. As described above, introduction to lists 18-32, the provostry of the ten prebends of Combe was united in 1234 with that of the five prebends of Winsham.

The provost of Wells (also called the provost of Combe) was not a dignitary. He had no specially assigned stall in choir or place in chapter (Cal. I 243-5, cf. ibid. pp. 58, 120, 301-2; Reg. of Ralph of Shrewsbury, bp. of Bath and Wells, 1329-63, ed. T. S. Holmes (SRS ix, x, 1896) I pp. lxiv-lxviii; Cal. Ch. Rolls V 25-9).

Royal gr. to provost and his successors of weekly market on Wednesday and yearly fair on vigil, feast and morrow of Saints Peter and Paul (28-30 June), 22 June 1262 (Cal. Ch. Rolls II 43). Royal gr. of free warren in all demesne lands of Combe and Winsham, saving bp.'s free chace, 16 Jan. 1291 (ibid. p. 388).

Valuation 1291 £40 (Taxatio p. 199b).


The following individuals occ. as provosts. None of them can be identified as provosts of Winsham.


Son of Hildebert, bp. John of Tours' steward, whom he succeeded as provost of cans. (Historiola p. 22). Archdcn. without territorial title by 4 Apr. 1122, d. 16 Aug. 1135 × 22 March 1136 (list 9).


Occ. as provost 1153 × 4 Nov. 1159, among convent of Wells (Cal. I 53). (fn. 1) Prob. provost when occ. as clerk of bp. Robert c. 1151 × 1164, gr. of his church of Bathford to Bath priory (EEA X no. 14). Prob. to be identified with John who occ. as can. early 1130s, before March 1136 (ibid. no. 7, for which see below, app. 1 n. 2; unident. preb., list 67).

William of Chard

Parson of Chard (Som.), prob. can. by 23 June 1174 × c. 1184, last occ. early 1206 (unident. preb., list 67). Presum. to be identified with William of Chard, prob. provost of Combe, who occ. 1209 × 13 at time of bp. Jocelin's ordinance on the Combe prebs. (Cal. I 58; cf. above, introduction to lists 18-32).

M. Henry

Occ. as Henry provost of Wells June 1230, as M. Henry provost of Wells Oct. 1230, and as Henry provost of Combe Nov. 1232 (Curia Regis Rolls XIV nos. 115, 809, 2376). If a can., as the provost was required to be in 1208 (Cal. Ch. Rolls V 25-6), Henry might be identified with one of three cans. of the period: 1. Henry of London (unident. preb., list 67); 2. M. Henry of Chichester (preb. Holcombe, list 42); 3. M. Henry Tessun (archdcn. of Bath, list 10).

William de Whethamstede

First occ. as provost of Combe and can. 26 Dec. 1234 (Cal. I 245). Occ. as bp.'s steward 12 Feb. 1237 (Cal. Ch. Rolls I 226). Occ. frequently: with full name (e.g. Cal. I 98); as William provost (e.g. ibid. pp. 78, 79, 526; CPL I 213 = Reg. Innoc. IV no. 1012); and as W. provost (e.g. Cal. I 119, 123, 126, 129; below, app. 3 no. 16 A B). Rector of Chard (Som.) (Cal. I 79). Last occ., as W. provost, 13 Dec. 1249 (below, app. 3 no. 16 E). D. by ? 28 Jan. 1252 (Cal. I 131), commem. 23 Jan. (ibid. p. 153; unident. preb., list 67).


Occ. as provost once only, 15 Aug. 1252 (below, app. 3 no. 17 F).

John of Bitton (fn. 2)

Can. by 1 Aug. 1244 (unident. preb., list 67); referred to as having been archdcn. [? of Wells], res. by 12 Dec. 1249 (list 11). First occ. as provost 13 July 1254 (Cal. I 136). Occ. frequently, called indifferently provost of Combe and provost in the church of Wells (ibid. pp. 110, 136, 142, 145, 165 etc.). Last occ. 13 Jan. 1269 (ibid. p. 108) and ? after 7 July 1269 (Chart. Bath II 61 (no. 277)). (fn. 3) D. by 21 Sept. 1273, commem. 4 Sept.; brother of bp. William of Bitton I and uncle of bp. William of Bitton II (see John of Bitton's entry as unident. preb., list 67).

Roger de Cruk

Not called can., occ. as proctor of dean and chapter 8 July 1269 (CPR 1266- 72 p. 351), ? after 7 July 1269 (Chart. Bath II 61 (no. 277)) (fn. 4) and before 16 May 1273 (ibid. p. 76 (no. 356). Occ. as can. once only, 23 Jan. 1275 (unident. preb., list 67). Occ. as Roger provost 22 Jan. 1278 (Cal. I 403) and as Roger de Cruk provost Oct. 1279 (ibid. pp. 71, 379). D. some time before Feb. 1292 (ibid. II 575 (no. 135) = I 461, 468). Commem. in Christmas Term (ibid. II 12).

M. William Burnel

Can. by 11 Oct. 1284 (preb. Wiveliscombe, list 64). Provost of Wells by 20 Nov. 1289, when he was 23 years old (Reg. Nic. IV no. 1720, cal. CPL I 506, where his other benefices are named; cf. Reg. Nic. IV nos. 3279, 4584, cal. CPL I 517-18, 530); still provost at his d. (Cal. II 582-3 (no. 164)). Dean by 30 Apr. 1293 (list 3); occ. as archdcn. of Taunton 28 Sept. 1294 (list 12); last occ. as dean 10 Aug. 1295; res. deanery by 13 Feb. 1297 (list 3). Still provost, described as having gone to papal Curia, 16 Oct. 1301 (CPR 1292-1301 p. 615). D. 16 June × 6 Nov. 1304 (list 64).


  • 1. Temp. Thomas archdcn. [of Bath], list 10, and Richard de Monte Acuto [can.], list 33.
  • 2. Called Master in CPR 1258-66 p. 563.
  • 3. Temp. M. Thomas of Bitton archdcn. of Wells, list 11.
  • 4. See previous note.