Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 7, Bath and Wells. Originally published by Institute of Historical Research, London, 2001.
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BATH AND WELLS 1066-1300
The bishopric of Somerset originated in the year 909, when it was taken out of the large diocese of Sherborne, and the new bishop made his cathedral in the ancient minster of Wells, dedicated to St Andrew. (fn. 1) This first phase in the history of Wells cathedral lasted until the death of bishop Giso in 1088. Giso, a Lotharingian, had been consecrated in 1061, and like some contemporary bishops in England who were equally under the influence of Lotharingian customs - such as Hereman of Old Sarum, Leofric of Exeter, Walcher of Durham and Ealdred of York - he restored and nourished the common life of his canons, building a dormitory, refectory and cloister, (fn. 2) and consolidated and managed the cathedral estate, the 'Terra Gisonis', which was to provide the means of supporting church and chapter during the following centuries. (fn. 3) In Giso's time the cathedral community consisted of a provost, an archdeacon, and a small number of canons. (fn. 4)
The abbey of St Peter at Bath was certainly in existence by c. 963. At the time of Domesday Book its income was recorded as £81 13s 6d, representing reasonable wealth, even though it was less than a tenth of the income of Glastonbury (£827 18s 8d), the richest abbey in Somerset and also the richest in England. (fn. 5) The royal borough of Bath, which was worth £60, (fn. 6) was of considerable strategic importance, being situated on the river Avon in the hinterland of Bristol, and was taken and burnt by Robert de Mowbray in the rebellion of 1088. (fn. 7) The death of the abbot, Ælfsige, in 1087, (fn. 8) allowed king William Rufus to grant the abbey to the incoming bishop, Giso's successor, John of Tours (1088-1122). John moved the see to the abbey of Bath very early in his pontificate, in 1089 or 1090, and soon afterwards purchased from the king the city of Bath, with its mint. (fn. 9) Thus Wells lost its status as the bishop's see. John demolished Giso's conventual buildings at Wells, forced the canons to return to the unreformed practice of living in houses in the town, and gave a portion of the church's revenues to Hildebert the steward, probably his brother. (fn. 10) Initially he was no kinder to the monks of Bath, taking over their estates and allowing them meagre allowances to be received from his lay servants, but later his relations with his convent improved - he embellished the church, reformed the monastery, and encouraged learning and scholarship there. (fn. 11) The abbey became a cathedral priory, and its priors were appointed by the bishop until 1261, when the monks gained the right to elect. (fn. 12)
For a century and a half between 1090 and 1245, that is for the greater part of the period covered in this volume, the church of St Andrew at Wells was not the site of the bishop's throne. Nevertheless, at least from the time of the accession of bishop Robert in 1136, the church and its chapter were nurtured under active episcopal patronage, and the constitution was developed along similar lines to those of other great secular Anglo-Norman cathedrals, such as Salisbury, Lincoln and York. Consequently the canons successfully asserted their right to participate in the episcopal elections of 1173 and 1206.
The structure and composition of the chapter at Wells are obscure until after the accession of bishop Robert of Lewes in 1136. The position of provost was held by the layman Hildebert. The names of only four canons are known before the time of bishop Robert. (fn. 13) The only dignitaries were the archdeacons, who numbered three by 1106, (fn. 14) and whose prominence at this early period was to be reflected in the following centuries in certain unusual privileges. (fn. 15)
During the next fifty years the chapter at Wells developed from this small body into a large, well-ordered organization comparable with the chapters of Salisbury, Lincoln and York. It is remarkable that of the fifty-four prebends at Wells, fortyfour originated before the death of bishop Reginald in 1191. (fn. 16)
The establishment of the dignities and prebends was largely the work of bishop Robert (1136-66), who had been a monk of the Cluniac priory of Lewes and perhaps prior of Winchester, but seems to have had no previous experience of a secular chapter, although he was known for his administrative skill in the monastic setting. (fn. 17) He was, however, responsible for setting up five of the six dignities and dividing the common estates into prebends. (fn. 18) Advice was sought from Salisbury on the dean's jurisdiction, the status of canons in their prebends, and other customs, including those governing the revenues of deceased canons. (fn. 19) All the endowments of the dignities derived from the pre-Conquest episcopal estate, as did all the twenty-seven prebends that existed by the end of bishop Robert's pontificate. (fn. 20) Some of the prebends - notably on the Combe, Wedmore and Winsham estates - were of the ancient type, being paid in money from farms managed by provosts. (fn. 21) Robert also obtained new property: from the king he won an addition to the communa. (fn. 22) A confirmation of the church's possessions, dated 22 January 1158, was issued by pope Adrian IV at dean Ivo's request. (fn. 23) Although bishop Robert set up the chapter at Wells, with all the recognized features of a cathedral constitution - dignities, prebends and communa - and undoubtedly carried out some building there, (fn. 24) his work was no less important at Bath, where he built the cloister and chapter-house, repaired bishop John's church, and secured the priory's landed possessions. The church of Bath remained the cathedral of the see of Somerset, confirmed by the pope Adrian. (fn. 25) Nevertheless, the canons of Wells claimed to share with the monks of Bath in the episcopal election of 1173, and received papal recognition of their rights. (fn. 26)
It was probably not until the 1180s, under bishop Reginald de Bohun (1174- 91), that the final dignity at Wells, the chancellery, was established. (fn. 27) Reginald, son of Jocelin bishop of Salisbury, and a former archdeacon of Salisbury, had first-hand knowledge of a great secular cathedral. In his time a further sixteen prebends were founded, of which twelve were in parish churches granted by lay donors. (fn. 28) One important prebend, to be held by the archdeacons of Wells, was created from churches on the ancient episcopal estate. (fn. 29) Arrangements with two Benedictine abbeys allowed the formation of two additional prebends: one for the precentor, in a church from Glastonbury's possessions, (fn. 30) and one, following the model of certain prebends at Salisbury, for the abbot of Le Bec-Hellouin. (fn. 31) Bishop Reginald also confirmed a lay grant for the communa of a church which later became prebendal. (fn. 32) Reginald thus developed the chapter set up by bishop Robert, so that it became a mature, well-endowed structure, as shown by the complex confirmations obtained from popes Alexander III and Clement III. (fn. 33) He also commissioned a major scheme for the building of a new church, cloister and other buildings, entailing the demolition of the major part of the Anglo-Saxon minster. (fn. 34) But still the see remained at Bath, supported by detailed confirmations of the possessions and rights of the bishop and church which Reginald obtained from Alexander III. (fn. 35)
Only two new prebends were formed under bishop Savaric (1192-1205): these were both of the monastic type - for the abbots of Muchelney and Athelney. (fn. 36) Savaric, who had held office in both Lincoln and Salisbury cathedrals before becoming bishop of Bath, was the first bishop since John of Tours to make a change in the location of the see. However, it was not to Wells that he looked, but rather to the wealthy abbey of Glastonbury. His annexation of Glastonbury, and his use of the style 'Bath and Glastonbury', are fully described and discussed elsewhere. (fn. 37) Dr Ramsey argues convincingly that this episode's 'threat to the status of the churches of Bath and Wells' helped to 'favour ... united action by secular and monastic chapters at [the episcopal election] of 1206'. (fn. 38)
Forty monks of Bath and fifty-six members of the chapter of Wells attested the records of the election of Jocelin, canon of Wells, in 1206. (fn. 39) Jocelin had grown up 'in the bosom of the church [of Wells] from infancy'. (fn. 40) Nevertheless, on his return from exile during the General Interdict, he retained the abbacy of Glastonbury and used his predecessor's style of 'Bath and Glastonbury' between 1213 and early 1219, when there was a settlement and a new abbot was elected at Glastonbury. (fn. 41) Thereafter Jocelin was styled 'bishop of Bath' until his death in 1242. (fn. 42) He was, however, a most constructive legislator for the chapter of Wells. Even before his exile, he had rearranged the endowments of all the dignities, (fn. 43) and had created at least one more prebend. (fn. 44) He was active, too, while abroad, issuing an ordinance relating to the provostry and prebends of Combe. (fn. 45) Shortly after his return he added an eleventh prebend to Combe, and later, in 1234, united the provostry of Combe with that of Winsham. (fn. 46) Before his death in 1242 he had overseen the establishment of a further four prebends, bringing the total to fiftytwo: one of these he annexed to the archdeaconry of Taunton. (fn. 47)
Some time in the early part of bishop Jocelin's pontificate the chapter of Wells received a version of the institutio of St Osmund of Salisbury, which became known at Wells as the Statuta Antiqua. (fn. 48) In all likelihood this was introduced by the bishop himself, perhaps around 1216 when he issued a statute regulating the procedure in elections of the deans of Wells, including the bishop's licence to elect, an unusual custom which was found also at Salisbury. (fn. 49) He was present at a special chapter in Wells in 1241 when a number of customs, relating to the communa, canons' residence, the powers of the dean, and the choir vicars, were regulated by statute. (fn. 50) In the following year, only a month before his death, Jocelin issued an ordinance, with the consent of dean and chapter, concerning the distribution of the commons to dignitaries and canons when resident: this replaced the system of distributing part of the commons in bread with one of graduated cash payments, as at Salisbury. (fn. 51)
It was only after the death of bishop Jocelin that the church of Wells finally gained equal status to Bath. This was the outcome of the disputes that occurred between 1242 and 1245 over the election of Jocelin's successor, Roger of Salisbury. On Jocelin's death in November 1242, the monks of Bath outpaced the canons of Wells in obtaining the king's licence to elect. The narrative of events, with the canons' appeal to Rome and subsequent arbitration and award, is well known. (fn. 52) In 1245 the pope ruled that the bishop should have a throne in each of the churches of Bath and Wells, that episcopal elections should be conducted in each church by turn, with the installation of the bishop taking place in the church in which he had been elected, and that the episcopal style henceforward should be 'bishop of Bath and Wells'. In the 'pacification' between the chapter of Bath and Wells, on 13 August 1246, these terms were accepted. (fn. 53)
In Dr Gransden's words, 'The restoration of the see of Wells was followed by a remarkable growth in the power of the chapter'. (fn. 54) Under a series of active deans, the chapter enlarged and refined the legislation that governed its practices. Residence was closely monitored. (fn. 55) Charter witness-lists of the middle of the thirteenth century suggest that around twenty canons were usually resident. (fn. 56) In 1284 thirty-four canons were summoned to attend the decanal election. (fn. 57) To regulate cathedral life when canons were absent, the duties of the vicars choral were set out in legislation. (fn. 58) The communar, normally a vicar choral, was obliged to render accounts: the earliest evidence of this obligation is from 1245. (fn. 59) The communa, which had been greatly enlarged under bishop Jocelin, was valued in 1291 at £153 6s 8d. (fn. 60) In the same year the dignities and prebends (which now numbered fifty-four) were worth £749 3s 4d. (fn. 61) To the composite statutes promulgated in 1298, touching such matters as the vicars, the chapter farms, the prebends, and canons' residence, there was added a valuation of the prebends, based on the figures from 1291, and also a list of the division of the Daily Psalter between the bishop and the fifty-four prebendaries. (fn. 62)
Two local chronicles are of particular importance for the history of the chapter of Wells in the period 1066-1300.
1. A narrative found in a fourteenth-century cartulary of Bath (Lincoln's Inn MS 185 fos. 96r-99r) was given the title Historiola de Primordiis Episcopatus Somersetensis by its editor in 1840, Joseph Hunter, in Ecclesiastical Documents (Camden old series viii) [abbreviated as Historiola]. It was probably compiled during the time of bishop Reginald (1174-91), incorporating a section purporting to have been written by bishop Giso (1061-88), but which seems to date from some time between the 1140s and 1174. The theme is the story of how the canons of Wells lost and regained the revenues from many of their estates. See the full discussion in Keynes, 'Giso' pp. 213-26. Two later Wells compilations are largely dependent on the Historiola. These are the Historia Minor and the Historia Major, edited by J. Armitage Robinson, 'The Historia Minor and the Historia Major, from the Wells Liber Albus II, in Collectanea I (Somerset Record Society xxxix, 1924) pp. 48-71; see Keynes, 'Giso' p. 213 and n. 66.
2. The Libellus de rebus gestis Glastoniensibus, attributed to Adam of Damerham, monk of Glastonbury, was a continuation of William of Malmesbury's De antiquitate Glastoniensis ecclesie. It is printed in Adami de Domerham Historia de Rebus Gestis Glastoniensibus, ed. T. Hearne (2 vols. Oxford, 1727) [abbreviated as Adam de Domerham) II 303-596, from the manuscript in Trinity College Cambridge, R. 5. 33 (724). For analysis of this MS, which contains other Glastonbury materials, see Julia Crick, 'The marshalling of antiquity: Glastonbury's historical dossier', in The Archaeology and History of Glastonbury Abbey, ed. L. Abrams and J. Carley (Woodbridge, 1991), pp. 217-43. Adam was probably responsible for the first section of the Libellus to 1247/8, and it seems that it was brought down to 1291 by another, anonymous author. Both sections have been used in the compilation of the Fasti.
Charters and cartularies
The surviving original charters in Wells cathedral library are calendared in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Dean and Chapter of Wells [ed. W. H. B. Bird and W. P. Baildon] (2 vols., 1907-14) [abbreviated as Cal.] II 546-724, against which they have been checked for the present volume. About 150 were issued before 1300 (ibid. pp. 546-80).
The charters of the bishops between 1061 and 1205 have been edited by Frances M. R. Ramsey in the British Academy's series of English Episcopal Acta, X, Bath and Wells 1061-1205 (1995) [abbreviated as EEA X].
The first chapter register, known as Liber Albus I (Wells Cathedral Library, R. I), was compiled in the 1240s. It is a miscellaneous register, combining charter material as in a cartulary, with acts as in a letter-book. Agenda for general chapter meetings and decisions on current business are entered from c. 1243. It is described in Cal. I p. ix, and calendared ibid. pp. 1-304. The register known as Liber Albus II (R. III) is a general cartulary, written c. 1500, containing copies of much of the material in Liber Albus I, but with additional material. It is described in Cal. I p. x, where the material it shares with Liber Albus I is calendared pp. 1-304, and the additional texts are calendared ibid. pp. 305-528. Liber Ruber (R. II) is a composite register from the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, described in Cal. I p. xi. The material it shares with Liber Albus I is calendared ibid. pp. 1- 304. Additional documents are calendared ibid. pp. 529-51. The calendar entries cited in the present volume have been checked with the manuscripts and have been found to be reliable.
There are three surviving cartularies from the cathedral priory of Bath from before 1500. Cambridge Corpus Christi College MS 111 pp. 55-131 (of the mid to late twelfth-century, with some additions) was edited in full in Two Chartularies of the Priory of St Peter at Bath, edited by W. Hunt (Somerset Record Society vii, 1893) [abbreviated as Chart. Bath), but Lincoln's Inn MS 185 (of the fourteenth century) was printed by Hunt in calendar form only. BL Egerton MS 3316 fos. 14-110 (of the mid to late fourteenth century), which is unpublished, repeats a good deal of the pre-1300 material in the other cartularies.
Further charter material relating to Bath and Wells is found in numerous cartularies, especially those from Somerset religious houses, such as Glastonbury, (fn. 63) Athelney and Muchelney, (fn. 64) and Bruton. (fn. 65)
Bishops' registers (fn. 66)
The first surviving register consists of a fragment of bishop Walter Giffard's register (1265-6), bound up in his register as archbishop of York (York, Borthwick Institute of Historical Research, Reg. 2 fos. 64r-66r, 70r-71v, 79r-v, 83r-v). It is printed in The Registers of Walter Giffard, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1265-6, and of Henry Bowet, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1401-7, ed. T. S. Holmes (Somerset Record Society xiii, 1899) pp. 1-11 [abbreviated as Reg. Giffard (Bath)]. The entries cited below have been checked with the MS.
The first complete register is that of bishop John of Droxford (1309-29) (Taunton, Somerset Record Office, D/D/B, Reg. 1) [abbreviated as Reg. Droxford]. It is calendared, incompletely and inaccurately, in Calendar of the Register of John de Drokensford, bishop of Bath and Wells (1309-1329), ed. [Edmund] Hobhouse (Somerset Record Society i, 1887) [abbreviated as Reg. Drokensford]. The entries cited below have been checked with the MS.
There survives only a fragment of an early sixteenth-century obit-book - two leaves recovered from the binding of some sixteenth-century escheator's accounts - which contain the obits for part of February, all March and all June. The fragment was edited by Dom Aelred Watkin in Dean Cosyn and Wells Cathedral Miscellanea (Somerset Record Society lvi, 1941) [abbreviated as Dean Cosyn] pp. 153-4.
The printed collections of fasti of Bath and Wells outside Le Neve/Hardy are given below.
J. Armitage Robinson, 'The first deans of Wells' and 'Early Somerset archdeacons', in Somerset Historical Essays (British Academy, 1921) [abbreviated as Robinson, SHE].
Aelred Watkin, 'A list of precentors, chancellors and treasurers in Wells cathedral', in Collectanea III (Somerset Record Society lvii, 1942) pp. 51-103 [abbreviated as Watkin, 'Precs., chancs. and treas.'].
Lists of the dignitaries and archdeacons, and some of the canons, of Wells in the period 1061-1205 are given with helpful notes as appendix III, 'The chronology of the dignitaries and canons of Wells, 1061-1205', in Dr Frances Ramsey's EEA X 213-22.
Lists of the priors of Bath and of the abbots of Athelney and Muchelney (who were prebendaries of Wells) are found in The Heads of Religious Houses England and Wales 940-1216, ed. D. Knowles, C. N. L. Brooke and V. C. M. London. Cambridge, 1972 (reprint with corrections forthcoming: Cambridge, 2001) [abbreviated as Heads I], and in the forthcoming second volume, covering 1216- 1377, ed. D. M. Smith and V. C. M. London (Cambridge, 2001).
The same style and conventions are used in this volume as in volumes I-VI of 1 Fasti. (fn. 67) The details in the entries are reduced to a minimum in order to focus on matters of chronology. Biographical information and notes of posts held in other dioceses are not intended to be exhaustive, but to assist the reader in anticipation of forthcoming volumes in the series. In this volume, as in volume VI, the prospect of the appearance of a new Dictionary of National Biography, in which long outdated entries will be replaced by completely revised biographies, has encouraged the inclusion of references to DNB where appropriate.
The first names of individuals are normally anglicized. Surnames are given in the most usual Latin form found in the sources, except in the case of identifiable place-names. The title 'M.' is given in the entry headings for men who regularly appear as magistri, and references are provided to A. B. Emden's biographical registers of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. Square brackets are used to enclose entries where the identification of an office-holder is conjectural or an appointment was ineffective.
The conventions used for dates are as follows. Two dates linked by a rule, as 1238-42, indicate a term of years, from 1238 to 1242. Two dates linked by a cross, as 1238 × 42, indicate a particular but undetermined date between the outer limits, thus a precise occasion some time between 1238 and 1242. An oblique stroke, as 1239/40, is used for old style/new style: a document dated '1239' (if using the common practice of beginning the year at the Annunciation, 25 March) may actually belong to any date up to 24 March 1240. When the date is approximate, c. for circa is used, but wherever possible it is avoided except to indicate a date within a year or two.