Note on order of dignitaries

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541: Volume 11, the Welsh Dioceses (Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph, St Davids). Originally published by Institute of Historical Research, London, 1965.

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'Note on order of dignitaries', in Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300-1541: Volume 11, the Welsh Dioceses (Bangor, Llandaff, St Asaph, St Davids), (London, 1965) pp. 86-87. British History Online [accessed 14 April 2024]

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Note on the order of the dignitaries

Comparatively few Welsh dignitaries have been found for the period 1300-1541 and the history of the composition of the four cathedral chapters is relatively obscure. The Welsh sees were extremely poor and 'in terms of English bishoprics they were all indecently unrewarding' (Williams p. 270). The Welsh cathedral benefices were evidently of even less comparative monetary value than the bishoprics (fn. 1) and it seems that in most cases there was virtually no difference in seniority. In the cathedrals of Bangor and St Asaph where the traditional four dignitaries, dean, chancellor, precentor and treasurer are found, these have been listed simply in alphabetical order following the deans. In Llandaff there was no office of dean until the nineteenth century and his place as head of the chapter was filled by the archdeacon of Llandaff, (fn. 2) who in this case took precedence over the other dignitaries. The archdeacons of Llandaff have therefore been listed after the bishops, and are followed by the chancellors, precentors and treasurers. In St Davids there was similarly no office of dean until the nineteenth century (fn. 3) and his position as head of the chapter was held by the precentor. The precentors of St Davids have been listed immediately after the bishops, and are followed by the chancellors and treasurers. The archdeacons, with the exception of the archdeacon of Llandaff, are given after the cathedral dignitaries. In Bangor and St Davids the archdeacons of the cathedral cities took precedence over the others as was usual in other dioceses. There was only one archdeacon in St Asaph diocese until the nineteenth century when the archdeaconry of Montgomery was created. (fn. 4)

In the four dioceses the prebends have been arranged in alphabetical order and the unidentified prebendaries in order of their collation or first occurrence. The six cursal prebends of St Davids have also been arranged in the above chronological sequence (see p. 73) as no evidence has been found to show that they were ever distinguished by name or number. The grouping of these prebends by archdeacon Yardley (archdeacon of Cardigan 1739-1770) as 'Cursal prebend A. B. C. D. E. and F.' has for this reason been disregarded since it appears to have been an arbitrary arrangement, with much of the evidence for the succession of prebendaries resting on supposition. Yardley himself included a list of the prebendal stalls in St Davids cathedral (Menevia Sacra pp. 18-19) and this shows that there was no distinguishing mark for these six cursal prebends: the names of the prebends are those given by Yardley.

South Side North Side
Dominus Episcopus Precentor
Archidiaconus Meneviensis Archidiaconus Brecon
P. Landewy P. S. Nicholai
P. Cursalis P. Llangan
P. Treflydn P. Cursalis
uninscribed stall stall without title
Vicarius episcopalis Succentor
P. Cursalis P. Cursalis
P. Cursalis P. Cursalis
P. Clydeu P. Caerfai
uninscribed stall stall without inscription
P. Caer Farchcll Archidiaconus Cardigan
Archidiaconus Carmarth' P. Aurea [Mathry]
Cancellarius Thesaurarius


  • 1. A detailed account is given of the incomes of the Welsh clergy in Williams pp. 269-95.
  • 2. The deanery of Llandaff was created by two Parliamentary Statutes 3 & 4 Victoria c. 113 and 6 & 7 Victoria c. 7. The first provides that the new office of dean should be held by the archdcn. of Llandaff, the traditional head of the cathedral chapter and the second that the two offices should be distinct and held by two different persons.
  • 3. Williams p. 315 n. 2.
  • 4. Between the years 1589 and 1843/4 the archdcnry of St Asaph was held in commendam with the bpc. This archdcnry was revived as a separate office by Statute 6 & 7 Victoria, 1843/4 and the archdcnry of Montgomery created by an Order in Council 31 Jan. 1844 as a second archdcnry (Thomas 1 245).