WINCHESTER: Introduction

Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: Volume 3, Canterbury, Rochester and Winchester Dioceses. Originally published by Institute of Historical Research, London, 1974.

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


, 'WINCHESTER: Introduction', in Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: Volume 3, Canterbury, Rochester and Winchester Dioceses, (London, 1974) pp. 75-77. British History Online [accessed 24 May 2024].

. "WINCHESTER: Introduction", in Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: Volume 3, Canterbury, Rochester and Winchester Dioceses, (London, 1974) 75-77. British History Online, accessed May 24, 2024,

. "WINCHESTER: Introduction", Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: Volume 3, Canterbury, Rochester and Winchester Dioceses, (London, 1974). 75-77. British History Online. Web. 24 May 2024,

In this section

Winchester 1541-1857


Like Canterbury and Rochester, Winchester cathedral was reorganized after the dissolution of the monastic chapter of St. Swithun. In royal letters patent of 28 March 1541, (fn. 1) the former prior of the monastery, William Basing or Kingsmill was appointed dean, together with twelve canons to replace the monks. The offices of archdeacon of Winchester and Surrey were unaffected. Henry VIII issued statutes for the new body in 1544, similar to those of other cathedrals of the New Foundation. (fn. 2) The king originally had the right of presentation to all the prebends, but queen Mary transferred this to the bishop of Winchester in 1557. (fn. 3) The twelve canons were appointed to numbered prebends in 1541, but the records of subsequent appointments do not give the number of the prebends, and the succession has to be traced by reference to predecessors. The cathedral statutes were revised by archbishop Laud, and the new statutes of 1638 took the place of those of Henry VIII. (fn. 4) The number of canons remained at twelve, until the Cathedrals Act (Stat. 3 & 4 Vic. c. 113) reduced it to five. (fn. 5) The Ecclesiastical Commissioners also made provision for twenty-four honorary canons with no duties of residence, and despite their misgivings, the dean and chapter set their seal to the scheme in 1844. (fn. 6) Special arrangements were made for the period until the chapter should consist exclusively of canons appointed after the passing of the Act. (fn. 7) This volume ends with the year 1857, by which time the number of canons had been reduced by deaths to eight. (fn. 8) It reached five in 1865. (fn. 9) A table at the end of the Winchester lists shows how the cathedral body was reduced between 1841 and 1865.

Le Neve's work was similar to the type of work he did for Canterbury and Rochester. His lists of bishops cite some archbishops' registers at Lambeth (without any folio details), Rymer, Keepe's Monuments of Westminster, (fn. 10) and the Diary of Archbishop Laud. (fn. 11) There are three references to 'Reg. Winton.'. The deans contain another vague reference to 'Reg. Winton', and otherwise draw heavily on Wood's Historia et Antiquitates Universitatis Oxoniensis. The canons are found in the appendix to his work, and clearly gave Le Neve some trouble, as the lists are rather unsatisfactory. First he listed the foundation canons, taken from Gale's Antiquities of Winchester. (fn. 12) Then he gave canons who were installed between 1546 and 1561, apparently drawn from the Ledger Book IV (1539-61), and unrelated to the foundation canons. Finally he gave lists allegedly of each stall, but he worked by 'counting the Twelve now sitting therein, 1715, and tracing upwards'. In fact, by this method, eight of the twelve prebends are given completely wrong numbers in 1558. Le Neve gave no references, and the main or only fact given is the installation, which suggests that he, or his informant, worked from the chapter ledger books.

As usual, T. D. Hardy's main contribution was to add his findings from the bishops' certificates at the Public Record Office (E 331 Winchester), though he did not cite his source. In fact, he gave no references at all throughout his lists of canons. Any attempt Hardy might have made to correct Le Neve's numbering of prebends was hampered by the fact that the bishops' certificates give only a very abbreviated summary of the institution as it is in the bishops' registers, and seldom give the name of the predecessor in a prebend. In the complicated period of Edward VI's and Mary's reigns, when successive deprivations occurred, the succession is undoubtedly difficult to trace, but by reference to the bishops' registers it is possible to link the foundation canons with those installed 1546-61, and then proceed in a logical method with the subsequent appointments in each prebend. Even after this period Hardy overlooked some exchanges of prebends, with the result that the lists of Le Neve and Hardy are totally confused and unreliable. (fn. 13) The last appointment noted by Hardy was that of William Carus, 21 March 1851.

The first and most obvious source used in this revision of Le Neve-Hardy's work is the bishops' registers, apparently not used before, although there are gaps in the series from 1616 to 1626, and from 1684 to 1742. The cathedral records, like those of Canterbury, fall into two main series, though the division of material is somewhat different in the two cathedrals. The Ledger Books, otherwise known as Enrolment Registers or Books of the Common Seal, contain the installations of canons, together with leases of chapter lands, while the Chapter Act Books record the business at the two great chapters of the year, and give the names of all the cathedral dignitaries, major and minor, holding office on each occasion, and not merely those actually present. This invaluable series begins in 1553, and is complete, apart from a gap of twenty-two years at the beginning of the seventeenth century. The series of bishops' certificates at the Public Record Office begins in 1661. Further information comes from the archbishops' registers at Lambeth, and from the general sources mentioned in the Introduction to Canterbury. A few printed works of particular value to Winchester cathedral are the Letters of Stephen Gardiner, (fn. 14) the delightful diary of Dean John Young, 1616-45, (fn. 15) and the scurrilous memoirs of one of bishop Hoadly's appointments as canon, Edmund Pyle. (fn. 16)

One particular feature of Winchester cathedral body was its close association with Winchester College and New College, Oxford. A high proportion of canons came from these two colleges. In fact, in the original foundation charter, John White was informator or schoolmaster of Winchester College, becoming Warden the following year. After this, every Warden until John Cobb, who died in 1724 (with the exception of Thomas Brathwaite, 1712-20) held a prebend.


  • 1. L. & P. XVI no. 678 (53); Winch. Cath. Documents 1 33-43.
  • 2. 20 June 1544, Winch. Cath. Documents 1 118-66.
  • 3. C.P.R. 1557-8 p. 129.
  • 4. Winch. Cath. Documents II 29-48.
  • 5. CA 1824-50 pp. 307-16; Lond. Gaz. no. 20110, 14 June 1842.
  • 6. 8 May 1844, CA 1824-50 pp. 336, 337; Statutes of Winchester, ed. A. W. Goodman and W. H. Hutton (Oxford, 1925) p. 24n.
  • 7. Lond. Gaz. no. 20110, 14 June 1842.
  • 8. CA 1850-76 p. 129.
  • 9. With the death of C. J. Hoare, cf. p. 101.
  • 10. H. Keepe, Monumenta Westmonasteriensia. London, 1682.
  • 11. The History of the Troubles and Tryal of . . . William Laud . . . To which is prefixed, The Diary of His Own Life [ed. H. Wharton]. London, 1695.
  • 12. H. Hyde and S. Gale, The History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of Winchester. London, 1715.
  • 13. In the cathedral library another attempt has been made to trace the succession, and is incorporated into the typewritten volume there called 'Fasti Wintonienses'. Herbert Chitty was responsible for unravelling the succession in the most complicated period, 1541-77, and the list was subsequently continued by A. W. Goodman. Unfortunately, the latter did not notice that Michael Reniger resigned prebend VII in 1581 and was collated and installed to prebend XII (see pp. 99, 105). After this, therefore, prebends VII and XII in the 'Fasti Wintonienses' should be reversed.
  • 14. Ed. J. A. Muller. Cambridge, 1933.
  • 15. The Diary of John Young, ed. F. R. Goodman. London, 1928.
  • 16. E. Pyle, Memoirs of a Royal Chaplain, 1729-1763, ed. A. Hartshorne. London, 1905.