Pages ix-xxxiv

London and Middlesex Chantry Certificate,1548. Originally published by London Record Society, London, 1980.

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The reports of the royal commissioners appointed in 1546 and 1548 (pursuant to acts of Parliament in 1545 and 1547 respectively) to survey colleges, chantries and kindred endowments form one class of the records of the Exchequer Augmentation Office at the Public Record Office, collectively known as Certificates of Colleges and Chantries. (fn. 1) Their importance as historical source material has long been recognised, and a number of local record societies have included among their publications texts or calendars of the certificates for their counties, (fn. 2) which constitute a useful corpus of comparative material for the present calendar. The Certificate which forms the subject of this volume, that of 1548 for the cities of London and Westminster, the county of Middlesex and chantries supported by London companies (E301/34), is already well known. Many extracts have been published, with varying degrees of faithfulness to the original text, and writers on the history of individual parishes and institutions have regularly had recourse to the original. (fn. 3) Never before, however, has it been fully calendared or analysed. This is due in part to its considerable bulk, and in part to its physical condition: whilst some of the membranes present no difficulty to the reader, parts of others remain largely undecipherable even under ultra-violet light, and in those cases the fragments of script which do emerge have to be substantiated and supplemented by reference to other contemporary sources, some of which are based on, or closely related to, the Certificate. Fortunately also, some portions of the text were transcribed by earlier writers when it was less faded.

The Chantry Acts

The two acts of Parliament (fn. 4) which gave rise to the chantry surveys of 1546 and 1548 were quite different in emphasis. The Henrician act fulminated against the misappropriation of godly endowments for colleges, chantries, hospitals, free chapels, gilds and stipendiary priests, and enabled the crown to appropriate all their revenues that were being poorly governed. It did not proscribe similar foundations where misappropriation was not suspected, but merely authorised the issue of commissions of investigation. The commissioners were thus not empowered to dissolve, but only to report on, the foundations, and it is their reports which constitute the Henrician 'chantry certificates'. Henry's act lapsed with his death, and by the end of 1547 when the subject was again raised in Parliament the mood had decisively shifted. Endowments concerned with prayers for the dead were now denounced as intrinsically superstitious and were to be dissolved, provided that any by-products beneficial to society at large—such as education, poor relief and chapels of ease—were protected, and the rights of cathedrals and corporations safeguarded. Endowments for obits and lamps were added to the list of proscribed foundations, but hospitals were taken off the list. Those priests who were considered supernumerary to the needs of a parish were to be pensioned off—a provision unnecessary in the Henrician act. As before, commissioners were to report on the foundations.

The Chantry Commissions

Commissioners under the 1545 act were appointed on 14 February 1546 in twenty-four circuits covering the whole country. (fn. 5) Those under the 1547 act were appointed exactly two years later: on 14 February 1548. (fn. 6) In the former case each commission was nominally headed by a bishop, but in 1548 bishops were not enlisted, and there was instead an increase in the number of officials of the court of Augmentations. Procedure was much the same throughout the country in both years. A written questionnaire, identical for each parish, was sent to parish officials, and a written return had to be brought in to the commissioners at an appointed place and date. The commissioners' scribes made fair copies or abstracts of the parishes' original returns, and it is these abstracts which, strictly speaking, constitute the 'chantry certificates'. The original returns for 1546 survive for nine companies and thirty-eight city parishes in there books now among the records of the auditors of land revenue, (fn. 7) and there are other isolated examples extant. For the later survey very few original returns survive; no doubt most were destroyed when the Certificate had been written up.

The Henrician commission was directed to the Lord Mayor (Sir Martin Bowes), the bishops of London and Westminster, and the following: Sir Roger Cholmeley, Sir Richard Gresham; Wymond Carew, Robert Brooke, William Stamford, Nicholas Bacon and Thomas Mildmay, esquires: a team of able administrators and lawyers well suited to the task in hand. Two of the Henrician commissioners, Sir Roger Cholmeley, Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and (the now knighted) Sir Wymond Carew, Treasurer of First Fruits and Tenths, were called to serve again under Edward. Their new colleagues were Sir Nicholas Hare, a Master of Requests who already had wide experience of the stewardship of crown lands; Sir John Godsalve, Clerk of the Signet (who had also served in 1547 as one of the commissioners in the royal visitation of the diocese of London but had been recalled to urgent business in the Signet Office); (fn. 8) Richard Goodrick, the Attorney of Augmentations and Hugh Losse, the royal surveyor for the area; John Carrell and Richard Morrison, esquires. There could hardly have been a team that better knew the importance of keeping a precise record of their proceedings.

Thanks to the survival of an agenda book of one of the 1546 commis sioners or their scribes, (fn. 9) we have a clear idea of procedure under the earlier commission. No equivalent document is known for 1548, but glimpses of the work are afforded by surviving churchwardens' accounts and company records. For city parishes in 1546 the commissioners first met at Guildhall to sign warrants to the aldermen of each ward ordering them to deliver to every parson, vicar or curate and churchwardens a copy of the official questionnaire or 'Bill of Articles'. (fn. 10) A great deal of paperwork was called for in the preparation of one warrant for each ward and one Bill of Articles for each parish and company, but whereas all the commissioners signed the warrants, they appear to have split up into sub-commissions of five men to sign the Bills. (fn. 11) All were actively involved, as is attested by their signatures at the end of each main section of the Certificate. By the time the investigation began in earnest, the chantry act had been public knowledge for two months, so the parish and company officials had had some intimation of what to expect. Nevertheless, the fact that they received only a week or ten days' notice to present their written replies to the commissioners under a pre-arranged timetable must have imposed considerable strain on those who had to account for many endowments. There were few negative returns. (fn. 12)

In 1546 the recipients of the Bills of Articles, together with all masters, wardens and governors of colleges, hospitals, gilds, fraternities and the like, and all chantry and stipendiary priests, had to appear to present, or to hear presented, the answers to the articles, and to be further questioned if necessary. Some were sent away to bring back more detailed reports on particular foundations. Entries in wardens' accounts show that in 1548 procedure was modified. It was a royal pursuivant and not the aldermen who warned officials to make their returns—for whose services, incidentally, the recipients of the Bills were usually charged at least a shilling, as though being cited to appear in a court of law. The venue of the commissioners' sessions was also different in 1548. In 1546 they had been at Guildhall, but we now find them in several other places, including the halls of the Saddlers and Haberdashers, and even the house of Hugh Losse. (fn. 13) They could more easily be peripatetic in 1548, since they were content to see only representatives of the parishes and companies, rather than the many officers who had been compelled to attend in 1546. Since the clergy had recently undergone the royal visitation it was no doubt a relief to them not to be rounded up yet again.

In 1546 work began at the very end of February, ward by ward, starting with Limestreet and Billingsgate. The whole city was covered, even taking account of adjournments and requests for clarification, by mid April, when the commissioners' attention was turned to Middlesex, hundred by hundred.

The London companies came under scrutiny only in the first and second weeks of May, and thus had rather longer to prepare themselves. Finally, the dean and chapter of St Paul's were visited from 19 May onwards. (fn. 14) The timetable for 1548 cannot be reconstructed with any precision, but evidence from other circuits throughout the country suggests that most of the work was again completed within the three months of March, April and May. (fn. 15)

The costs incurred by parishes and companies in making their returns varied in proportion to the extent of their endowments and the state of their records. On receipt of the Bill of Articles they began a frenzied search for deeds, wills, rentals, royal licences and any other muniments which might establish the age and reputability of a foundation. In 1548 St Botolph Aldgate held a general parish meeting to discuss the reply. (fn. 16) More commonly, wardens enlisted a few worthy helpers to draft their returns after poring over the documentation, often in the presence of a lawyer and/or scrivener. Those involved might seek consolation and sustenance, at parish expense, in some nearby hostelry. The wardens' accounts for St Dunstan in the West in 1546 (fn. 17) record payments of £2 16s 6d for one dinner at the Queen's Head to discuss the return, 8s 8d for another dinner at the Rose tavern to amend it, and 2s 8d for breakfast at Guildhall when it had been safely delivered to the commissioners. Expenses were more modest there in 1548, no doubt because most of the answers were to hand from the previous enquiry; but the Queen's Head was again patronised, at a cost of £1 9s 8d, and more remarkably twelve rabbits and two capons were provided by the parish for a dinner for the commissioners at Mr Losse's house. Among the parishes, expenses of this order were exceptional, though small sums for identical ends are frequently entered in wardens' accounts.

The drafting and writing of the returns could also be costly. In 1548 it cost St Mary at Hill £1 for the advice of a counsellor and £1 6s 8d for a scribe. (fn. 18) For All Hallows Staining, with less to declare, the return cost only 4s 4d, (fn. 19) and for St Andrew Hubbard 2s 8d. (fn. 20) On the other hand, St Michael Cornhill employed 'the scrivener in Fleet Street', paying him £4 2s 4d. (fn. 21) Considering the many other expenses incurred at about the same time through legislation affecting church fabric and fittings, it was a heavy burden.

Turning to the companies, we find much the same reactions, though naturally on a somewhat larger scale. Muniments had to be sought: the Merchant Taylors, for example, paid Thomas Argall, the registrar of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, to search out a will relating to one of their endowments. (fn. 22) The Recorder of London was called in to help some companies, (fn. 23) and hospitality was arranged. Occasionally, a company dinner afforded the opportunity to discuss the return, or indeed the very implications of making a return at all, since most of the companies feared for their non-religious endowments despite saving-clauses in the acts. In 1548 the Vintners held two dinners: (fn. 24) one in the Mermaid for £1 1s 8d, and the other in the Three Cranes for only 9s 8d. On a more extreme level, the Merchant Taylors in 1548, when summoned to appear at Haberdashers' Hall, claimed that they could not complete their return in time. So they 'rewarded' the pursuivant with 3s 4d and paid one of the commissioners' clerks a further 1s 8d to make a new date when they could have a dinner in their own hall for the commissioners: in the presence of the Lord Mayor, and at a cost of £7 18s, as it turned out. (fn. 25)

The 1548 Certificate: condition of the document

With this sketch of the procedural background we are in a better position to understand the 1548 Certificate. It consists of the commissioners' digest of the returns submitted by the parishes and companies. Forty large parchment membranes, approximately 19 inches wide and 30 inches long, were needed to contain the full Certificate. These were assembled one behind another and stitched together along the top, the whole document then being rolled. The membranes are, for the most part, covered with writing on both sides. The first and last are badly faded owing to their exposed position, and the tops and bottoms of many others are now also difficult to read. A few margins have been worn away, and here and there the modern reader's task is impeded by the application of gall, long since, in an endeavour to resurrect fading words and phrases. It has been necessary to study much of the document under ultra-violet light, and to compare it with related material to verify doubtful readings and fill some of the lacunae. By contrast, much of the interior of the document is still clearly legible, and it has been well repaired, so potential readers should not be deterred by the preceding remarks.

Other principal sources consulted

Foremost among the supporting material used in the preparation of this calendar is the 'Brief Certificate', a further report compiled by the chantry commissioners themselves from the original returns for the guidance of those who were to assign pensions for the dispossessed priests and issue warrants authorising the continuation of schools, poor relief, and clergy to assist the cure in populous parishes. The Brief Certificate for London and Middlesex at the Public Record Office (fn. 26) names, parish by parish, all those who received any regular income from the proscribed endowments, and adds a few recommendations for continuation, which are discussed below. A record of the pensions actually paid in London and Middlesex immediately after the dissolution is enrolled in two of the Exchequer Various Accounts in the Public Record Office. (fn. 27)

As already hinted, a good many original returns survive, in the Public Record Office, in Guildhall Library, at St Paul's cathedral and among company records. Those which have come to my attention are mentioned in the footnotes to the appropriate section of the calendar, and have been carefully compared with the Certificate. It has not, however, been practicable to annotate every variation between the sources, and readers wishing to follow up entries for particular parishes are recommended to consult all the alternative sources.

The accounts of churchwardens and company officials, many of which are preserved at Guildhall, shed further light on the ceremonies being observed on the eve of the dissolution, whilst the wills of many benefactors are abstracted in R. R. Sharpe's calendar of wills enrolled in the Husting Court. The Certificate itself is often a signpost to the existence of a will, mortmain licence, or other supporting document which may prove useful to those wishing to trace the earlier history of a foundation. In a few instances comparison with the Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 (fn. 28) has been instructive, but this must be used with caution: a lot of water had flowed under the bridge in the intervening years. More useful in several respects are the Ministers' Accounts of Augmentations for the first year following the dissolutions. (fn. 29) They supply details on some of the individual properties that had yielded rent to the dissolved foundations, together with a good deal of topographical detail wanting in the Certificate. A somewhat later, and only partial, abridgement of the main Certificate, entitled 'The foundation of all the chantries in London and Middlesex', whose raison d'être I have been unable to discover, is now among the Harleian Manuscripts at the British Library. (fn. 30)

The function and limitations of the Certificate

The Certificate should be judged on its own terms: as a summary of the endowments proscribed by the 1547 chantry act and therefore liable to confiscation. It was intended only as a general guide to the crown and the court of Augmentations on the likely yield, and hence as a basic reference work when the property was to be disposed of. It is better understood as the first major document in the story of the expropriation of the chantries than as the last one in that of their working days, though of course it does contain many indications of that earlier history if treated with caution. It is a monument to the industry not only of the commissioners and scribes but also of the parishioners and company officials who made the returns. Yet it has to be said that the Certificate was a hastily prepared abstract: the magnitude of the task in hand for London and Middlesex militated against those telling asides found in some other Certificates as to the worthiness of certain foundations to continue. We tend to be presented with the bare bones, and the meat may sometimes be found in the complementary sources mentioned above. To take just one example, the Certificate rarely mentions the names of the saints in whose honour altars, chapels and masses were dedicated, even when dealing with St Paul's cathedral; this is not a suggestion that devotion to the saints had lapsed, but merely a result of the summarising process. The commissioners were responsible for this basic limitation on the information they transmitted, though it is only fair to note that there were often deficiencies also in the source material from which the returns were compiled: when wills and foundation deeds could not be found, (fn. 31) or when re-foundations or augmentations of earlier endowments were mistaken by parishioners for the original foundation. Neither should we expect a high degree of consistency in terminology and presentation: the returns came in from hundreds of different people who interpreted the questions in a variety of different ways.

Sections of the Certificate

The Certificate falls into three distinct sections which digest, respectively, the returns submitted by the city of London churches including St Paul's cathedral (1–116), by Middlesex parishes (117–190), and by the city companies (191–224). The entries within each section appear to be in random order. Each section is followed by a summary of the total value of the endowments it has just listed, with the signatures of the commissioners.

Institutions omitted from the Certificate

Negative returns—if there were any in 1548 as there certainly were in 1546 —do not appear in the Certificate. This probably explains the lack of any entry for St Mary Mounthawe and St Katherine Colman, and many of the lesser companies. With the single exception of St Helen Bishopsgate (101), where two chantries were supported by the crown itself, none of the surviving ex-monastic, now parochial, churches is mentioned. Even Westminster, now a cathedral, is omitted. Most of the assets of these monasteries had, of course, been confiscated already, and in this respect a further survey may have been deemed superfluous, though it is hard to believe they had nothing to declare by way of lights, obits and lesser endowments, even if they no longer had any active chantries. Hospitals, too, are omitted, including St Katharine by the Tower and the Savoy, the latter in any case being within the Duchy of Lancaster. The absence of a return for St Bartholomew the Less may also reflect the connection with a hospital. Whilst hospitals were exempt from the survey in 1548, there is no reason to suppose that any chantries within them were to be allowed to continue, and we know from the 1546 return that in St Katharine's at any rate, there were two chantries. (fn. 32) The reader will search in vain for any trace of institutions which had already surrendered to the crown, notably the college of St Martin le Grand. It is impossible to calculate how many further endowments were deliberately concealed from the commissioners.

Format of entries in the Certificate

The information in the Certificate is generally presented in columns. At the left-hand margin is a note of the parish or company concerned. There follows a brief description of each endowment there, and in the next column its total gross value. A further column provides a break-down of expenditure, with its own separate total on the right-hand side, below which is set out the 'Clear remainder', or net total once the expenses have been met. Where more, or less, had to be said about a given foundation, the columns were ignored and the entry made in a continuous statement reading across the membrane. Each parochial entry concludes with a section of 'Memoranda' answering further questions from the Bill of Articles.

The donor

Although it is possible to verify many of the names of original donors as stated in the Certificate from Husting wills, this is by no means always the case, for donations might be made during a man's lifetime, or as a result of some devise: it was common for endowments to be made, at least technically, by persons other than those for whose souls a chantry was nominally established. Frequently an initial bequest proved insufficient to support its desired objective, and then further benefactors might spring to the rescue with supplementary endowments. It can be unsafe to take the Certificate alone as evidence of the name or date of the original foundation, or indeed of the original intention, even when the ostensibly unambiguous formula 'given by A.B. for his soul for ever' is employed. The entry for the Grocers' Company (212) records lands given by John Billesdon for his soul for ever, but Billesdon's will makes clear that the bequest was principally for Sir Thomas Lovell's soul, which is not mentioned in the Certificate. The entry for St Peter Wood Street (99) has lands and tenements given by 'one Farrendon', but the original return for 1546 shows that they were actually given by John Foster and Thomas Polle to find a chaplain to sing 'for the prosperous and good estate' of King Henry IV during his life, for his soul after death, for John and Thomas themselves, and only in the last place for Nicholas Farrendon, whose name alone has passed into the Certificate. In the calendar the phrase 'bequeathed by' has been used where the original has 'given by A.B. in his will'. But even where there is no mention here of a will or bequest, the donation may actually have been made in this way.

The foundation

The Certificate then sets out the intention of the foundation, and care has been taken in the calendar to use the exact word found in the original to describe the nature of the endowment, even though it is certain that the terminology is quite imprecise.

Many endowments said to be for a priest or chaplain were in fact chantries, (fn. 33) but if the word is not used in the Certificate it has not been used in the calendar because there was at least a theoretical distinction between, for example, a chantry priest and a stipendiary. Whatever else he did in the parish, a chantry priest had a specific obligation to celebrate masses for particular souls, and his chantry might own property or draw rents, whereas a stipendiary, as the title suggests, was one who received a stipend in cash, not necessarily derived from any specific properties set aside for the purpose, and was often appointed with the intention that he should assist the parish clergy in divine service and possibly with the cure of souls. In its original return (fn. 34) St Michael Bassishaw was insistent that it had no chantries, but rather three stipendiaries, two of them financed by the Yarford bequest, and added that 'the parish of St Michael's could not have been well served nor maintained in the service of God if this godly and blessed intent and mind of this foundation of Sir James Yarford had not been founded'. The Certificate, however, merely calls them priests (74). All Hallows Bread Street reported in 1546 that it had four priests 'but whether they be chantry or stipendiary priests they know not'. (fn. 35) In 1548 the Certificate records in this parish (90) only one priest and one chaplain (besides four priests maintained there by city companies, which may help to explain the bewilderment). It was to become an extremely important point of law whether a priest merely received a cash stipend from an individual or corporation, or whether he received profits from specific lands or rents given to maintain his foundation. The city companies were to insist, in their long battle with the crown over the confiscation of their 'chantry' endowments, that when they maintained chantries they were only paying fixed cash stipends from their overall revenues. Even if someone had given them specific properties with a view to their maintaining a chantry from the proceeds, they held that the lands thus acquired became a full part of the company's overall estates, and were not appropriated to that specific objective. The crown was to take the opposite view at the dissolution, and the companies were compelled to buy back the lands and rents in question. It is noteworthy that in the companies' section of the Certificate the entries uniformly speak of payments to 'A.B., priest, for his stipend' even where lands and tenements are said to be the source of income.

There is occasional mention also of conducts, priests hired on a more casual basis for particular services, or to swell the numbers in the choir and teach children. Most of them were sufficiently part of the parochial establishment to receive a regular, if small, income, and thus to qualify for a pension after the dissolution. The Brief Certificate clearly distinguishes them from the other types of clergy, (fn. 36) though it appears to use interchangeably the terms chantry priests, chaplains and stipendiaries, and frequently adds to the confusion by speaking of the 'chantry of A.B.' in one breath, and describing its priest as a stipendiary in the next. The title Sir, applied haphazardly to priests in the Certificate, was not confined to those of any particular standing, and its omission in many instances is insignificant. We find it used of graduates and non-graduates alike.

Obits or anniversaries (the terms appear to be used interchangeably) were annual commemorations of the deceased on the anniversary of his death or on some other convenient day. They might be conducted by the parish clergy, chantry priests or others hired for the occasion. The associated ceremonies and benefactions varied considerably with local custom and the generosity of the funds left by the donor, but a common practice was to begin with the singing of vespers on the eve of the celebration, including the antiphon Placebo, (fn. 37) and to continue with matins and lauds on the day itself with the antiphon Dirige, (fn. 38) with or without a requiem mass. Payments might be made not only to the officiating priest, but to others present, ranging from the lord mayor and sheriffs for the obit of a distinguished citizen, to the choir, clerk and sexton. Alms were distributed to any poor persons present, or in some cases to a specified number of poor persons or children, sought out and paid either by the executors or the parish priest. In the case of obits supported by the city companies the solemnities were often made the occasion of a company feast. The Certificate is usually content to give merely the total sum spent on the obit, without a breakdown of the expenditure, and this is another instance where any surviving original returns or company accounts can throw more light on what actually happened.

Brotherhoods and fraternities are further terms used interchangeably in the Certificate, and may apply to men, or women, or both. (fn. 39) We shall return to these below. Endowments will also be noted for lamps, and for particular liturgical observances such as the singing of anthems and Salves.

It should perhaps be mentioned here that in some instances, whilst clear provision is made for endowments, and an annual income recorded, there is no actual statement that the money was being spent in the way originally intended. The entry for St Sepulchre Newgate (13) looks impressive on paper for all its priests, yet only paragraphs 1 and 6 of the entry actually state that the priest in question was being paid, and only two priests are named in the Brief Certificate. Some endowments had lapsed, and this was a case where others had been merged or augmented to ensure enough income for a more limited number of priests than originally envisaged.

The source of income

The commissioners chose not to record precise details of sources of income, but distinguished only between real estate and ready cash. Endowments in the form of real estate are mainly entered as consisting of lands and tenements, a generic term which ought not to be too strictly interpreted. The Ministers' Accounts show that an endowment comprising only land, or only houses, might well be described as lands and tenements in the Certificate. Occasionally more specific information is given: houses, shops, cottages, and so on, in which case more significance may be attached to the descriptions. Care has been taken in the calendar to preserve the distinction between endowments in real estate and those in cash (including rents), by commencing the entries with the description of the property followed by the stated value in the former case; and by placing the value first in the latter case. The commissioners did not use the Certificate to pinpoint the exact location of properties eligible for confiscation: they were content with a general description, sometimes to the extent of recording the parish in which property was situated. Hence the Certificate is not a good huntingground for topographical detail, save in those few instances where it steps beyond its normal limits. For example, we read once of a 'tenement in the parish of St Mary Magdalene Old Fish Street, at the corner of Dolittle Lane' (8). In all, forty tenement names or signs are recorded, though not always with the name of the street or parish. They are included in the subject index.


In every case the figures recorded in the Certificate have been faithfully reproduced even if the sums do not correctly add up. Errors in the original have been indicated where noted. The profitability of endowments varied considerably. Rents might fluctuate from year to year; expenditure on maintenance or repairs was sporadic: several years might elapse with nothing to be spent, and then massive bills might be incurred in a subsequent year. There were often commitments outside the immediate foundation, for example in the form of quitrents to other landowners, and tenths (payable on perpetual chantries) to the king. The founder's aim would have been to provide an income sufficient to maintain his objective and leave enough over to meet likely costs. This profit, described as the clear remainder might be quite handsome in some years, whilst in others there might be a deficit. Among the Harleian manuscripts (fn. 40) there survives 'A remembrance of the charges and receipts of the chantries of Chalton and Illyngworth' in St Alban Wood Street, which observes that 'the receipts are more than the payments every year by £13 4s 8d, which if the lands be well guided were sufficient every year to bear the vacations and reparations'. For Wodcocke's chantry in the same church the profit recorded is only 13s 10d, 'which is not able every year, one with another, to bear the vacations and reparations, as will appear every year by the reckonings'. Since the Certificate provides us with the figures for only one year, they are not necessarily indicative of the health of a given endowment, but of course where the clear remainder is recorded as Nil (which in the Certificate often hides the fact, revealed by the sub-totals, that there was actually a deficit), financial collapse may have been imminent. In good years, or in the case of wealthy endowments which were unlikely ever to sink into deficit, it was sometimes possible to provide for extra clergy out of the surplus, as at St James Garlickhithe (16). (fn. 41) Foreseeing the possibility, some founders sought to place controls on any surplus revenue. John Bottesham and Alice Potyn gave two tenements to St Dunstan in the East to house a chantry priest and a parish clerk (21). A box was to be kept for the residue of the profits from which loans could be made to the poor, and the cost of repairing the tenements met. The rules were still stricter at St Andrew by the Wardrobe, where any surplus from John Parraunt's chantry was to be put away in a chest with three locks, one key kept by the chantry priest, one by the parish priest and one by the churchwardens. (fn. 42)

The Memoranda: Housling people

Parishes were asked to include in their returns the total numbers of housling people, and in most cases their answers appear, among the Memoranda at the foot of each entry, calendared here as 'communicants'. It may be assumed that the figure sought was the total number of those eligible to receive communion: in other words, the maximum number of persons to whom the clergy had to administer the Sacrament on Easter Day, when all those eligible to receive were expected to do so. This was some measure of the number of clergy required to minister in the parish. The Somerset return uses the phrase 'partakers of the Lord's Supper', (fn. 43) and that for Hertfordshire 'people that receive the Holy Communion'. (fn. 44) Whilst some of the figures given look like exact computations, which may indicate that they represent the actual number who received Communion, the majority appear to be nicely rounded approximations, and as such cannot be used with any precision as a basis for calculating the total population of the city, even if we could be sure what was the ratio of communicants to the total population. In fact, no consensus exists on this ratio. William Page, editing the Yorkshire Certificates, thought that the housling total should be doubled to arrive at the total population. (fn. 45) J. E. Brown, working on Hertfordshire, (fn. 46) favoured adding only a quarter to the housling total given, to account for those under fourteen years of age, and therefore below the normal age for receiving communion. In a recent study, Kevin McDonnell uses a multiplier of 0.75 on the housling totals to calculate the numbers of those aged under fourteen. (fn. 47)

The Certificate gives a housling total of 3,400 for St Sepulchre Newgate (13), whilst the Brief Certificate speaks of 4,000 'people' in the parish. This is not a sufficient basis for any calculations since either figure, or both, may have been an approximation. There is no other internal evidence available from the Certificate, and the different methods outlined above yield very different population totals, as may be seen by taking a sample parish with a notional total of 200 housling people. By Page's method there would be 400 people; Brown would suggest 250 and McDonnell 350. The totals given for housling people at the end of the London Certificate are 41,664, and at the end of the Middlesex Certificate 22,079. By the various methods just described this would give a range for the total population of from just under 50,000 to well over 80,000 in London; and from 26,000 to 44,000 in Middlesex. Since the figures are almost certain to exclude those temporarily resident, including foreign merchants and other visitors, something approaching the higher figure may well be more realistic.

The Memoranda: Parish Clergy

The memoranda for each parish include, where supplied, the name of the 'parson'. Since the Certificate often speaks of the king or some impropriator as 'parson' the word has been calendared throughout as rector. Additional comments about serving the cure have to be treated with caution, and in some cases are tantalisingly ambiguous. In a few cases the meaning is clear, as where the rector 'serves the cure himself without any help', (fn. 48) or at the opposite extreme 'is never resident'. (fn. 49) But the words 'AB, rector, who findeth no one to serve the cure', may simply mean that the rector is resident and does not pay a curate, whilst 'AB, rector, finds a curate in his absence' may mean either that AB is normally absent so finds a curate, or that when AB happens to be absent he finds a curate. The Certificate cannot be used on its own, therefore, as an indicator of clerical non-residence in 1548.

The Memoranda: Schools

Parishes were also asked to note whether they had any grammar schools, and to this article they practically all made a negative return. The commissioners began the Certificate by including these pieces of negative information, but quickly realised that it was a waste of ink and stopped doing so. Therefore the absence of a specific statement on schools in the Certificate does not mean that the question went unanswered. It should be noted that the question was not whether any of the priests taught.

A comparison with other sources

Enough has now been said to indicate the degree of caution that is appropriate for the reader approaching the Certificate for the first time. The following case study demonstrates how fresh light can be shed by the complementary sources, in some instances showing that the Certificate, if used on its own, may be positively misleading. For the parish of St Peter Paul's Wharf we have not only the Certificate (60) but also, in Guildhall, the original return. (fn. 50) It is particularly fortunate that this parish also received contributions from the Armourers' Company, whose original return also survives in the same series at Guildhall. (fn. 51) We can therefore easily check the thoroughness of the Certificate.

When making their original return, the rector and churchwardens of St Peter's observed at the outset that they used to have three chantries, but that the costs of maintenance, including the payment of tenths to the crown, had compelled them to merge the revenues and maintain only two priests. They supplied full details of the bequests that had established the chantries, and produced the original wills for the commissioners to see. They itemised the tenements and rents involved and gave the names of current occupiers. They named the two priests as James Payne and Thomas Potter, giving their respective ages as sixty-eight and forty-six, and commenting 'their qualities be sufficient to serve their charges; their understanding in the Latin tongue is indifferent'. The three chantries had been set up by (i) William Barnard in 1310 with an annual quitrent of £4 6s 8d; (ii) Walter Kent in 1361 with property now yielding annually £7 4s; and (iii) William at Stoke alias Essex in 1430 with an annual quitrent of £10 divided between a chaplain to sing for John Trygges and others including William himself (£6 13s 4d), an augmentation for Barnard's chaplain (£2 6s 8d) and an obit of £1; the £10 was now being paid by the Armourers, Trygges' chantry being the one that had lapsed, its endowments being used instead to maintain and repair the other properties.

If we now turn to the Armourers' return and look for their account of the £10 just mentioned we find more detail. William at Stoke had financed his bequests merely by a rent-charge issuing from his property: he had not given the property itself to his chantry. But forty-eight years later, in 1478, the then owner of the property, Everard Frere, had bequeathed it to the Armourers' Company, asking them to set up another chantry for the soul of Katherine Alyard after her death, and to distribute bread to five poor men every Sunday. On reflection, however, the company had decided that the revenue was insufficient both to maintain William at Stoke's bequest and to establish a new chantry, so with Katherine's agreement they provided the poor men with their bread but did not endow a priest for her.

Now what does the Certificate tell us of all this? The entry for St Peter Paul's Wharf (60) records in the merest outline the chantries of William Barnard and Walter Kent, and the totals agree with those in the original parish return. Only one of the two priests is named, and no account of their ages or standing is given. No details of the founders' wills are noted. There is no mention of the payment made by the Armourers, because it appears later in the Certificate in the entry for the company. In that entry (215), we read that the endowment of a priest in St Peter's and the augmentation of Barnard's chaplain were financed from 'lands and tenements' bequeathed by William at Stoke, that James Payn, priest, receives £6 13s 4d, and that a further £2 6s 8d is given to augment Barnard's chaplain. The Certificate's shorthand has become distinctly misleading. For, as we have seen from the originals William at Stoke did not give land, but only a rentcharge; it was Everard Frere who had given the land, and he had not given it to the chantry but to the Armourers' Company. James Payne and Barnard's chaplain were one and the same. Nor is any mention made of the prayers for John Trygges and others that were an integral part of William at Stoke's chantry foundation. The information submitted has not only been précised: it has been conflated to some extent. But there is no confusion over the total sum involved, and this emphasises the basic function of the Certificate.

This short case study is given not to undermine the reader's confidence in everything that the Certificate will try to tell him, but merely to stress the caution that is necessary in interpreting the information, and the need to consult as many other sources as possible. By contrast, there are cases where the Certificate tells us more than some of the supporting sources. For example, the will of William Newport as enrolled in the Husting court (fn. 52) includes donations to be 'devoted to the good of his soul' by his executors. The Certificate (4) shows that a Salve was sung before the image of the Virgin in St Nicholas Olave, and a lamp kept burning there.

Despite its shortcomings, the Certificate has the over-riding advantage that it fills in more of the picture of the chantries for the whole of our area than do any of the other sources taken individually. And although every element of its information must of course be subject to careful scrutiny, this is equally true for the other sources (and indeed for any other major administrative record of the period). A glance at each section of the Certificate in turn will help to redress the balance in its favour by showing some of the wider issues on which it throws some light.

The London returns

The heyday of chantry foundations in London as elsewhere had been the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, after which the rate of new foundations steadily declined down to the Reformation. In the fourteenth century in particular the city authorities had fought to defend the right of those who held property within the city to devise it to the church without applying for royal mortmain licences, and although the crown, by repeated inquisitions and legal proceedings, made all potential donors think twice about their rights, the position was substantially maintained, subject to scrutiny by the mayor and recorder of all wills containing such devises before their enrolment at the Husting court. (fn. 53) The wills themselves provide a valuable source for the history of many such foundations.

Perpetual endowments (whether by gift, or devise, and whether by royal licence or not) are only a part of the story, though naturally the best documented part. It was possible to pay a lump sum for a single mass, or for that matter for as many masses as desired. Few aspired to the 1,000 masses sought by William Staundon, grocer, in 1412. (fn. 54) But a mass might be had for a few pence, (fn. 55) and thus came within the pocket of lesser men who could not afford perpetual endowments. For the same reason of economy, lamps and torches were very popular; even those parishes which had no chantry endowment to report often had to make some return about a lamp or some other lesser observance.

Smaller and short-term endowments of obits, masses and prayers virtually supplanted the long-term and perpetual endowment by the early sixteenth century. Fashions and fortunes had changed: families had grown larger, leaving less disposable income to spend on religious endowments. (fn. 56) And when church lands, and the very doctrine of purgatory, came under threat as Protestantism spread, it was hardly to be expected that long-term endowments would continue to find favour. W. K. Jordan has noted that prayers for the dead were still 'at once numerous and generous' in London in the period 1511–40, though a 'remarkably slender portion' of all that was bequeathed went into chantry and other religious observances. (fn. 57)

From the 1520s there was a steady infiltration of Protestant ideas into the capital. Writers and preachers challenged parishioners to cease believing in purgatory and prayers to the saints. There was sporadic image-breaking, and the crown itself began to place curbs on certain types of endowment. (fn. 58) The dissolution of the monasteries sealed the fate of those chantries which had been maintained by the monks themselves within the walls, unless founders' families or trustees intervened to remove the endowment to a parish church. (fn. 59) But many a founder had alternatively given lands or money to a monastery on condition that it maintained a chantry in his memory in a parish church from the profits, the remaining income being devoted to the monastery itself. (The practice exactly parallelled that of giving land to one of the city companies with similar provisos.) In such cases, when the crown confiscated the monastic revenue it honoured the commitment outside the walls by paying the (continuing) chantry priest an annual stipend from the court of Augmentations, demonstrating that as yet there was no intention of declaring chantries illegal.

Yet despite this apparent leniency the crown gradually introduced further restrictions on the endowment of religious observances. By 1538 it was illegal to keep lamps burning before images. (fn. 60) So it would be surprising if by the 1540s there had not been some falling off in the old observances, the endowments being withdrawn or witheld for other uses. The Certificate contains a few pointers to this, though they cannot all be taken at face value as symptomatic of rising Protestant feeling, or even of a fear for the safety of investments. Some decay of the old foundations resulted from sheer financial necessity, the funds being needed elsewhere. Such might have been the case with the endowment for one of the brotherhood priests at St Dunstan in the West, which had been diverted for the past twenty years to the repair of the church (20). And we are sometimes witnessing nothing more than the normal life-cycle of such endowments, which had come and gone in their scores throughout the middle ages. This, no doubt, explains many of those instances in the Certificate where, although there is provision for a priest, nobody is actually named as holding the post. But there are other examples which do suggest a growing fear for the investments. It was just two and a half years since the money set aside for a lamp in St James Garlickhithe had been channelled instead into poor relief (16). Robert Brocket had left money for a chantry priest at St Martin Pomery but made alternative provision for donations to prisoners and poor relief if it proved impossible to maintain a respectable priest 'for lack of honest behaving himself'; in 1548 it was the prisoners who were drawing the money (223). One donor at St Martin Outwich had requested that land be bought to secure the future of his obit, but his wishes had not been honoured. (fn. 61)

Yet even amid all the Protestant preaching and exposition of the scriptures, (fn. 62) there was little relenting in the daily round of chantry masses and obits. In 1542 Brinklow's Lamentation of a Christian against the City of London still found it necessary to protest against the continued support given to chantries, (fn. 63) and the Certificate amply testifies to the continuing devotions in almost every parish. There was scarcely a church in the city that did not have something to declare to the commissioners, even if it were only an occasional obit or a lamp burning before the sacrament. There were many parishes where the old traditions were quite unabated. St Magnus had a dozen or so priests and conducts if we include those ministering to its fraternity (24–5). St Dunstan in the East had ten priests (21), as did St James Garlickhithe (16), and several others could boast half a dozen or more.

It is noteworthy that in London many of the parish churches outshone the 'collegiate' foundations, which were on a small scale compared with St Stephen's in Westminster or the great secular colleges found in other counties. Whittington college in St Michael Paternoster Royal had a master and six fellows, four choristers and a handful of casually hired conducts (96). The collegiate foundation in St Lawrence Pountney comprised, in addition to the rector, only three fellows and four lesser officials (71). The 'colleges' associated with St Paul's cathedral were no more than communal lodgings for the clergy associated with particular chantries (113). The college in the Guildhall, which unlike Whittington and St Lawrence Pountney colleges had no parochial responsibilities, had only a master and three fellows (92).

The Certificate is therefore more concerned with chantry and similar foundations. The clergy who depended on them for a living are shadowy figures about whom little beyond a name is known. Only in a handful of cases did information about their age and standing—even though it was specifically sought in the Bills of Articles—filter through to the Certificate. Such a sample is statistically insignificant, though it records men of all ages from their twenties to their seventies, none of whom had more than a modest level of education: 'a base singer and simply learned . . . of poor quality and learning . . . of good conversation and learning touching ordinary service', and so on. They were legion, and a glance through the index of names suggests that there was no noticeable degree of pluralism among the chantry and stipendiary priests named in the Certificate. This suggests in turn that there was a plentiful supply of candidates for such posts.

The Brief Certificate, which contains rather more names than the Certificate, gives 266 chantry priests, stipendiaries or chaplains in London excluding St Paul's, and a further 69 conducts. In St Paul's, in addition to the cathedral's regular team of canons and petty canons, there were 48 chantry priests. This gives a grand total of 383 lesser clergy in the capital whose jobs were simultaneously under attack, and only a handful of whom remained in post after the dissolution. In Middlesex there were only a score or so of chantry priests and 4 conducts, excluding the staff of St Stephen's college, Westminster (who were all pensioned off: dean, 11 canons, 11 vicars and 4 chantry priests). If we recall the omission from the Certificate of the cathedral at Westminster and of certain other foundations noted above, the total number of clergy affected by the dissolution in our area alone may have been as high as 450, most of whom were pensioned off. The dissolution therefore created considerable upheaval, even though there were many clerical opportunities in the capital on a permanent basis, in private and hospital chaplaincies, or more temporarily during vacancies and at particularly busy seasons such as Easter. Few chantry priests drew less than £6 13s 4d yearly, and this wage seems to have been the norm in the city. Although it was not a fortune by contemporary standards it was enough to live on, and was no doubt supplemented in many cases by remuneration for other casual employment, sometimes by the inclusion of a room or house rent-free, (fn. 64) and in the case of some ex-monks by royal pensions drawn in addition to the chantry stipend. (fn. 65)

In London as elsewhere it is debatable to what extent chantry priests and stipendiaries became involved in the regular services and ministry of the parish. It was implicit in many foundations that they should. For example, Agnes Palmer left money to the Fishmongers' Company to maintain a chantry and obit for her husband in St Peter West Cheap, requiring the priest to be perpetually resident and present at all divine service 'at the hours and times convenient'. (fn. 66) Many foundations were made deliberately to increase the number of masses available to the parish at large: this is particularly true of donations for the morrow mass. At Holy Trinity the Less (85) the rector gave an extra 16s yearly and a chamber to one of the privately endowed stipendiaries so that he would in addition help him to serve the cure, (fn. 67) whilst at St Leonard Foster Lane the parishioners themselves raised the money to find a stipendiary to help the parish priest minister to his 450 communicants (65). Several other returns, explicitly or implicitly, indicate that such priests were assisting the parochial ministry. (fn. 68) Naturally, the busiest time came at Easter when all of age to receive communion were expected to do so and every available priest was needed to help. At St Mary Woolchurch, with 360 communicants and three chantry priests in addition to the rector and curate, the parishioners still observed that at Easter 'all the priests we have do not suffice' (36).

But it was one thing to assist at the canonical hours and to sing the services hitherto laid down, helping out with other duties at busy times, and quite another to engage fully in the pastoral ministry. In compiling the Brief Certificate and making their recommendations for the continuation of some clergy in populous parishes, the commissioners recognised either little need for regular assistance or little potential in the particular clergy available to provide it as a result of the dissolution. Exactly what criteria they employed in making their decisions is not clear, but only two London parishes, both outside the walls—St Botolph Aldersgate with 1,100 communicants and St Sepulchre with no fewer than 4,000—secured one assistant each. Why was no similar provision felt necessary for St Giles Cripplegate (2,440), St Bride (1,400), St Botolph Aldgate (1,130), St Dunstan in the East (900) or St Dunstan in the West (900)?

There were financial and disciplinary reasons why the commissioners might have felt constrained to keep their recommendations down to a minimum, regardless of the merits of individual clergy or the needs of particular parishes. A commitment to pay an assistant to the cure instead of pensioning the same man off gave the crown a long-term financial obligation to the parish. And whatever the ultimate goal of the dissolution, it was certainly not to find a means of retaining the maximum number of clergy associated with the old foundations. The greater the number of those left in post, the more difficult it would be to ensure that the proscribed ceremonies were actually stamped out. It was probably also in the commissioners' minds that the ill-educated clergy they for the most part found in these positions were not the men needed for a vigorous pastoral ministry in future.

If the chantry priests and stipendiaries had been regularly assisting with education in the parishes, the Certificate is remarkably silent on the subject. But most of the clergy were probably like those we have already met at St Peter the Less, whose understanding of the Latin tongue was indifferent. The well established St Anthony's school is mentioned in the return for St Benet Fink (55) without further comment, but otherwise teaching is referred to in only four London parishes. In every case it was almost certainly confined to children who sang in the choir. Rice Williams was 'schoolmaster of the children' at St Mary at Hill, where there was a dispute in the court of Augmentations before it was determined to cease paying him. (fn. 69) The rest seem to have faded out gracefully: James Rimyger, organist and 'master of the singing children' at St Dunstan in the East (21), Hugh Jones who taught singing children at St Mary Woolnoth (40), and Peter Jackson, an ex-monk, at St Gregory (10). Outside London, the Mercers maintained a school at Farthingho, Northants, and the Goldsmiths one at Stockport, Cheshire, both of which are recorded (194, 222). The Chantry Certificate is, of course, the wrong place in which to look for evidence of schooling unconnected with chantry foundations. The Brief Certificate does not single out any schools as worthy of continuation.

In addition to noting potential assistants to the cure, and schools worthy of maintaining, the Brief Certificates made a point of recording donations to poor relief, which were exempt from confiscation under the chantry act, and which the government intended rather to encourage and augment. Poor relief flowing from chantries and fraternities, as has often been remarked, was very haphazard and did little to penetrate the roots of poverty. As an extreme example we may take the parish of St Sepulchre which was said to have no fewer than 900 poor people, and yet declared only 4s set aside for their relief (13). The scale of contributions and the status of those eligible to receive them depended on the individual benefactor, who also dictated whether the relief should be in the form of a direct cash 'dole', or goods such as food, clothing or fuel, or relief from the payment of Easter dues and the like. (fn. 70) Many bequests were once-for-all gifts to those who attended the testator's funeral, and therefore do not appear in the Certificate, which speaks only of the regular contributions being made annually, usually in association with obits.

The Brief Certificate summarises contributions to the poor as follows: a yearly total of £134 from the London parishes and only £12 from Middlesex, to which must be added a further £116 in benefactions to named individuals sponsored by five London fraternities and one in Middlesex, together with the almshouses attached to St Stephen's college, Westminster. The latter distorts the general picture, for almshouses as such were exempt from the act: the one at St Stephen's is only mentioned because the college itself was dissolved. One of the bedesmen there received £5 12s 8d yearly, six others £5 6s each and the eighth £5 3s 4d: sums which compare favourably with the earnings of the chantry priests: 'poverty' here was a relative term. Out in the parishes it was a different story. The fraternity of Corpus Christi in St Giles Cripplegate, for example, supported eight poor persons with grants of from 6d to 10d each per week, a further two at half a mark per quarter, and one more at 5s per quarter. A shilling or so a week seems here to have been considered generous as the contribution to a bedesman on a fraternity's roll. But it would again be wrong to assume that the Certificate tells the whole story: it speaks only of the lasting endowment or regular contribution which the crown scrutinised. We may safely assume that many contributions among fraternities to the support of their own members in true need did not arise from any endowment, but from ad hoc collections which did not attract the commissioners' attention.

It would be as unsafe to use only the Certificate to calculate the total number of fraternities in city churches as it would be to use only this source for the number of city companies in existence. For that would be to forget that the Certificate deals only with the tangibles: goods, money and lands to be forfeit to the crown. Associations with no regular endowments completely escaped attention, or made negative returns which are not here recorded. Only thirty or so fraternities are mentioned, finding priests for special masses, or supporting lamps, obits and liturgical observances. (fn. 71)

St Paul's cathedral

The section of the roll covering the chantries and obits of St Paul's includes some of the least legible passages of the whole Certificate. Fortunately, however, John Caley, keeper of the records in the Augmentations Office, transcribed this section early in the nineteenth century for Henry Ellis's continuation of Dugdale's history of St Paul's. A comparison of Caley's readings with the more legible parts of the roll reveals a few minor errors of transcription, and although Caley's version has been used in the prepara tion of this calendar, it has been checked against what becomes legible of the original under ultra-violet light.

Several other sources furnish information which may be used to check and supplement that given in the Certificate. The cathedral library still retains a copy of the dean and chapter's original return made to the chantry commissioners. (fn. 72) Thomas Fuller examined it when compiling his Church History and abstracted a certain amount of information: 'enough to acquaint us with the nature of all the rest'! (fn. 73) He added, 'It seems the chapter would not go to the cost of true arithmetic; some of the sums being not rightly deducted: whose mistakes I chose rather to follow than to vary any whit from the original'. In fact, there are few such errors, and the return contains far more detailed information than the Certificate itself. For the commissioners' purposes, no more than the usual abstract of the terms of foundation, and summary totals of income and expenditure were officially needed, whereas the chapter had made a comprehensive return to each of the questions asked, including full details of the dates and terms of each chantry endowment, stating not only for whose souls prayers were to be offered, but also the names of the actual founders: we have seen that these were often quite different, though the commissioners lightly disregarded the distinction. The majority of the foundations within the cathedral were in memory of its own ecclesiastical dignitaries: bishops of London, deans and canons; and whilst a few had been planned in the lifetime of the donor many were created after the death of the person they commemorated, usually by his executors. The chapter also recorded the names of the altars or chapels at which the chantries and obits were celebrated, but this information did not find its way into the Certificate. They further gave precise details of property, including the names of tenants and full rentals. The names of chantry priests, which are in places omitted from the Certificate, are also to be found in the original, which contains in addition an inventory of the cathedral's plate.

The Brief Certificate and pension list happily present the names in the same order as the Certificate, which facilitates cross-checking of doubtful readings. The Ministers' Accounts for Michaelmas 1548 too are in the same order.

The obit list as given in the Certificate (112) is particularly badly faded at the top, but may be checked against Caley's readings, against earlier mentions of obits in Dugdale, and against printed lists of the obits celebrated. (fn. 74). The scribe of the Certificate was inconsistent in his rendering of early surnames, (fn. 75) but the readings given in the calendar retain the form he used.

The dean and chapter exercised general oversight of the cathedral's fifty or so chantries, and as many obits. Some of the foundations had been in existence since the twelfth or thirteenth centuries, and only two were sixteenth-century creations. (fn. 76) If the income of a particular foundation became too small to support the donor's intention, the dean and chapter could reduce the number of clergy provided for, or alternatively add resources of their own, annex one or more further endowments, or take some of the income from a comparatively rich endowment to help out a poorer one. When the income from Sir John Poulteney's chantry became inadequate to maintain its three priests and the overheads, three more ailing chantries were annexed to it (108). When Roger Waltham's chantry was in financial straits they added to its revenue a portion of the endowment intended for the chantries of Fulk and Philip Basset (110). A couple of the chantry foundations incurred a small yearly deficit, and a few others barely broke even, but if the 1548 figures are typical, the dean and chapter made a net annual profit of over £200 from the overall chantry account, from which, however, they had to meet any repairs and other fluctuating costs of maintenance.

Although it is not made apparent in the Certificate, the chantry priests played a full part in the general services of the cathedral. In addition, several of the chantry foundations made provision for regular payments to support the choir or ministers of the cathedral, and finance exhibitions for the further education of poor choristers. An obit list from the Brief Certificate, printed in Dugdale, further shows that officials who attended obits held in the cathedral also received considerable bonuses: the 30 canons £64, 12 petty canons £28 11s 6d; 6 lay vicars £19 11s 0½d; 10 poor choristers £27 2s 10d; 4 virgers £2 12s 7d; 2 bellringers £1 7s 4d and 4 poor servants of the church 13s 4d.

In two cases, founders had established buildings in the cathedral precinct to house the priests of their foundation. These became known as Lancaster college and Holmes college after their creators (113). The other chantry priests had no 'mansions' or lodgings as of right, but some were able to procure rented rooms within the Priests' House, also known as Peter college, owned by the dean and chapter for use by the cathedral clergy. The rents (or at least the contributions provided for them in chantry foundations) seem to have varied: Wyther's chantry paid £1 1s 4d for two chambers, More's £1 3s 4d for four. (fn. 77)

Neither in the Certificate nor in the dean and chapter's original return is any mention made of the age or standing of the priests. They are all uniformly referred to simply as 'Sir'. If the Brief Certificate's silence on the point is trustworthy, none of these men was an ex-monk receiving a pension. Only three had stipends lower than £6 13s 4d, and the highest recorded was only £9 3s 4d. However rich the foundations, then, it does not seem that the chantry priests received unusually high remuneration because they happened to be attached to the cathedral.

Middlesex and St Stephen's college, Westminster

Of the twenty-six pensionable priests recorded in the Middlesex section of the Certificate (see Table), all but five were found in Westminster or the London suburbs and those densely populated areas stretching east along the Thames and north along Ermine Street. Three suburban parishes, however, were exceptional in having no chantries to declare in 1548:

St Martin in the Fields (with 700 communicants), St Giles in the Fields (305) and St Mary Matfelon (670). Further afield, Harrow-on-the-Hill, the only other substantial township, supported a Lady mass priest; Uxbridge with an unspecified number of communicants had two priests and Hillingdon (with 320) one. The priest at Littleton was paid by the court of Augmentations, whilst the one at West Brentford was apparently not a cantarist at all: Joan Redman had left some lands to endow a priest there to administer the sacraments and, according to the Brief Certificate, the parishioners subscribed 1s 4d a week to maintain him, evidently the only priest serving in their chapel. The commissioners felt it 'mete that there be a priest'.

Distribution of chantry priests in Middlesex, 1548
Parish Communicants Priests
St Margaret Westminster 2,500 6
St Clement Danes 1,400 2
Stepney 1,360 1
Enfield 1,000 2
Harrow 1,000 1
St Leonard Shoreditch 800 3
Hackney 600 3
Edmonton 600 2
Hillingdon 320 1
Uxbridge not stated 2
St Mary Strand 280 1
West Brentford 120 1
Littleton 100 1

About forty of the county's seventy parishes had under 200 communicants, and whilst parishes with comparable populations in the city might support several chantries, this does not seem to have been the case in rural Middlesex. Possibly the capital itself acted as a magnet drawing benefactions to its churches even from the wealthier residents of the surrounding county, many of whom must surely have had regular contact with the city and its institutions. The small rural parishes were manageable units for one priest unassisted, and there was little need for chapels of ease or assistants to serve the cure. It seems unlikely that there had ever been many more chantries than those recorded in 1548, though winds of reform had certainly left some traces. At Hornsey (129) land given for an obit had for the past five years been devoted to the poor or spent on the repair of highways instead. Finchley reported an endowment for a priest 'if the king's majesty's laws will suffer it' (157). Tockington free chapel in Harrow parish had already been surrendered to Henry VIII (162). But there are few other signs suggesting the recent removal of endowments.

Although they did not support chantries, many of the small parishes nevertheless reported lesser endowments, for obits, lamps and the like, and there are several references to animals (instead of land or money) being donated to support religious observances or poor relief. Generally, they were hired out at an annual rent, the revenue being put to the desired end: a common rural phenomenon widely noted in other counties. At Tottenham there were as many as thirty-three cows, and at South Mimms twenty-four. The revenue from such sources varied: at Kingsbury the yearly rent was 1s per cow, at South Mimms 1s 4d and at Chiswick 2s. At West Brentford a cow had been sold for £1 to provide cash for an endowment, whilst Hampton reckoned its cow worth a total of 12s.

The return omits the precinct of St Katharine's by the Tower, and the parishes of Little Greenford (Perivale) and Clerkenwell. The grand total given for communicants is 22,079, though the commissioners' addition cannot be checked because the returns for Hounslow, Hanworth and Uxbridge omit the number of communicants. No mention is made in the Certificate of the chapels at Kilburn, Twyford or Kingsland; and Haliwell chapel in the parish of St Leonard Shoreditch is mentioned only in the return of the Grocers (212), save for a comment that it had lead still standing on its roof (190b): a sure indication that the crown had eyes on it. The return may have been more hurriedly compiled than that for London. No details are given of the ages and learning of the chantry priests in the county. There is no mention of any school, and only one of a sermon (125).

Poor relief is largely haphazard. At St Margaret Westminster (139) four poor people were maintained for life. At Hounslow (153) there was an almshouse for the poor and sick. The brotherhood at Uxbridge (119) let out a tenement rent-free to a poor blind man, whilst at Kensington (154) the church house was occupied by the poor. Elsewhere there was no largescale offering for poor relief, apart from the casual doles regularly associated with obits. We do, however, get a good idea of the parish church as the focal point of the local community, often with further buildings or rooms where the parishioners might meet together and 'common of matters as well for the king's business as for the church and parish'. (fn. 78) And donations for the repair and maintenance of the church fabric are reminders of the heavy costs borne by parishioners in the upkeep of the church building itself, let alone any chantries within.

The commissioners had little to say about what ought to be permitted to continue after the dissolution. Apart from the priest at West Brentford mentioned above, they made special mention in the Brief Certificate of one other priest, serving the chapel at Stratford Bow, two miles or so from its mother church of Stepney and in a 'great thoroughfare and much people there inhabiting'. Surprisingly, no comment was made about the effect on St Margaret Westminster (2,500), St Clement Danes (1,400), Harrow (1,000) or Enfield (1,000) of removing the services of chantry priests without making any provision for assistance to the parish clergy. As in London, we are left wondering what were the commissioners' motives.

The royal college of St Stephen Westminster was the richest single foundation described in the Certificate (190). With revenues, spiritual and temporal, drawn not only from London and Middlesex but from eleven other counties, and totalling over £1,000 yearly, it was one of the wealthiest collegiate churches in the country, richer than most of the dissolved monasteries. Its officials were a dean, 11 canons, 11 vicars, 4 chantry priests, 4 lay clerks, 7 choristers, a virger, a sub-sexton and a clock-keeper, whilst 8 poor folk (7 men and one woman in 1548) were, as we have seen above, maintained in the almshouse, with weekly cash allowances and contributions towards their clothing and fuel.

A foundation of this magnitude really merited a chantry Certificate of its own, in which greater detail could have been recorded, but it was actually entered, in a much abbreviated form, at the end of the Middlesex section of our Certificate. Whatever the original method of founding chantries within the college, the accounts were rendered without accrediting particular lands to particular chantries: the total revenue, received partly from the college's own bailiffs and partly through the sheriffs of York, Essex and Hertfordshire, was evidently paid into a central fund from which the officials received their fixed yearly stipends, ranging from the dean's £105 to the clock-keeper's £4 9s 8d. No separate mention is made of the chantries save to record the payment to their priests, and only passing mention is made of obits and lights. This rather truncated account of the college was probably the best that could be quickly put together for the chantry commissioners' deadline.

The London companies

The final part of the Certificate is devoted to returns made by the companies of the city of London, which had been a major channel for the endowment of chantries and other religious observances in city churches. With the notable exception of the Parish Clerks (218), who were deemed a fraternity wholly liable to dissolution under the terms of the chantry act because of their essentially religious function, the companies' status as associations of traders and craftsmen was not challenged, and those of their corporate lands which were not, in the crown's view, firmly tied to proscribed religious objectives were exempt under the terms of the act.

As with the parishes, so with the companies, the Certificate includes no Nil returns. Thus, what we have is a digest of the positive returns that came in, from all twelve Great Companies, and twenty-two lesser ones. The companies sponsored priests and obits in over sixty parish churches in the city, a few in the suburbs and a handful elsewhere. The assets they devoted to these objectives amounted to just over £1,000 a year: that is, between a fifth and a sixth of the overall value of chantry endowments in London. Stipends paid to the priests varied according to the generosity of the original donor, usually a former member of the company who had given money or lands to support these objectives, but about half of all priests supported by companies received the £6 13s 4d per year common throughout the city, and only three received less. At the top of the scale, the Merchant Taylors (211) sponsored nine priests, twenty obits and two lights; at the bottom (of those who declared any contribution), the Coopers (200) maintained only one single obit.

It is not always possible to determine from the wording of the Certificate the churches in which the observances were held, and the parochial entries avoid all mention of the chantries supported by the companies there. But the Brief Certificate, tackling the clergy parish by parish includes the company priests under the church in which they served.

Note on editorial method

A transcript of a short section of the Certificate (54) is supplied below to demonstrate the method of calendaring. The general order of presentation has been discussed above. In the original document the London and Middlesex parishes have been numbered in a later hand, and since these numbers have been extensively used for reference in the past they are retained as the numbers (in bold type) heading each section of the calendar. The numerical series has been extended in the calendar to cover also the entries for the city companies, which are not numbered in the original. The membrane numbers are indicated in the text in square brackets. The nature of each endowment is first set out in italic. In the ensuing description single inverted commas enclose words or phrases quoted verbatim from the original. Double inverted commas are used only where the original spelling has also been retained. The spelling of forenames has been modernised but surnames are transcribed exactly in the calendar (even though comparative sources show wide variation in forms). Placenames are given in their modern form (followed by a transcription in round brackets in the event of a significant variant appearing in the original). Unidentified places and field names are given in double inverted commas. Square brackets indicate editorial interpolation. Badly faded entries are preceded by an asterisk, or in extreme cases by two asterisks. Where only parts of words or phrases are legible, three dots indicate omissions unless an attempt has been made (in round brackets) to supply the illegible portion.

54. The paroche of St Mertens Vintry

Scilicet: William Clovyle John Cornewalles & Gilbert Admershe gave unto the parson and churchewardens of the seid churche for the meynten[a]unce of a priest and an obite for ever twoo tenementes by yere viij li. Wherof: To Sir Jeffrey Davy singing for the said persones of thage of liij yeres havyng no other promocion but this his stipent vj li xiijs iiijd. In thexpences of the said obite viijs iiijd. To the Kynges Ma[jes]tes [sic] for quitrent xxs. And to the parische of Saynt Johns in Walbroke iijs iiijd. Total viij li vs. And then remayneth clere [Blank].

The howse called Whyttington Colleage have geven yerely amonge the pore of the said parische the day before the feast of Seynt Michell Tharchaungell in money vjs viijd.

Memoranda: There is of howselyng people within the seid parische the nomber of iiijc lx. Sir Edwarde Saunders is parson of the same parische churche and the yerely value of his parsonage is xviij li xiijs iiijd and that no priest is founde ther by hym but servythe the cure hym self


  • 1. PRO, E301.
  • 2. For an incomplete list see Conyers Read, Bibliography of British History: Tudor Period (2nd edn, Oxford, 1959), no. 2100.
  • 3. e.g., see J. M. Sims, London and Middlesex Published Records: a Handlist (1970), 8–9: and Hennessy, passim.
  • 4. 37 Henry VIII c.4; 1 Edw. VI c.14.
  • 5. LP, xxi pt i, no. 302 (30).
  • 6. CPR 1548–9, 135 et seq.
  • 7. LR 2/241–3.
  • 8. APC 1547–50, 517.
  • 9. LR 2/243 fos 1–7.
  • 10. e.g., LR 2/243 fo. 15.
  • 11. e.g., see E 301/126; LR 2/242 fo. 74.
  • 12. Those which have come to my attention at the PRO are St Mary Mounthawe (E 135/8/47); St Bartholomew the Great (LR 2/242 fo. 74); and the Companies of Curriers (E 301/90), Pewterers (E 117/13/4) and Poulters (E 117/13/5).
  • 13. Saddlers' Hall, see the accounts of St Margaret Pattens (Guildhall MS. 4570/1); Haberdashers' Hall, see the accounts of the Merchant Taylors (Guildhall Microfilm 298).
  • 14. Southwark was surveyed by the Surrey commissioners.
  • 15. The return for St Peter Paul's Wharf is dated 16 March (Guildhall MS. 12140/3) and that for the Armourers' Company 20 April (MS. 12140/2).
  • 16. Guildhall MS. 9235/1.
  • 17. Guildhall MS. 2968/1.
  • 18. Guildhall MS. 1239/1 pt 3.
  • 19. Guildhall MS. 4956/1.
  • 20. Guildhall MS. 1279/2.
  • 21. Guildhall MS. 4071/1.
  • 22. Guildhall Microfilm 298.
  • 23. e.g., the Grocers (Guildhall MS. 11571/5) and Merchant Taylors (Microfilm 298).
  • 24. Guildhall MS. 15333/1.
  • 25. Guildhall Microfilm 298.
  • 26. E 301/88.
  • 27. E 101/75/21 and 22.
  • 28. Ed. J. Caley and J. Hunter (6 vols 1810–34).
  • 29. SC 6/Edw. VI/293 and 298 respectively.
  • 30. Harley 601.
  • 31. For one endowment at St Michael Bassishaw the wardens 'could not tell where to find the same to make thereof plain declaration without further respect of time for better search' (E 301/89 fo.2v).
  • 32. C. Jamison, The History of the Royal Hospital of St Katharine (1952), 57.
  • 33. For example, we know from other evidence that Cresswick's 'chaplain and obit' at St Katherine Cree (61) was known as Cresswick's 'chantry' (PRO, Chancery, Town Depositions, C 24/23).
  • 34. E 301/89.
  • 35. LR 2/243 fo.23.
  • 36. In the pension lists (E 101) they are described as 'ministers', as are lesser officials such as singing men and sextons.
  • 37. Psalm 115 verse 9.
  • 38. Psalm 5 verse 9. See Lincoln Diocese Documents, ed. A. Clark (Early English Texts Society, vol. 149, 1914), 8. Dirige might be said on the eve with mass on the day itself, see The Medieval Records of a London City Church, ed. H. Littlehales (EETS, vol. 128, 1905), p. li.
  • 39. e.g., see the usage in 21 and 22.
  • 40. MS. Harley 604/17 fos 51v–52; cf. 57.
  • 41. Cf. LR 2/242 fo. 55v: a detailed account of how the wardens at St Andrew by the Wardrobe spent the surplus funds from John Lee's chantry.
  • 42. LR 2/242 fo. 52.
  • 43. Survey and Rental of the Chantries . . . in the County of Somerset, ed. E. Green (Somerset Record Society, 1888), e.g. p. 25.
  • 44. Chantry Certificates for Hertfordshire, ed. J. E. Brown [c. 1910], p. viii.
  • 45. Yorkshire Chantry Surveys, ii, ed. W. E. Page (Surtees Society, 1895), p. xvi.
  • 46. See above, n. 44.
  • 47. Medieval London Suburbs (1978), 120. Peter Laslett suggests, in Household and Family in Times Past (Cambridge, 1972), ch. 4, that an average household comprised 4.75 persons; and the Oxford English Dictionary ('housling') cites an example from Ulcombe in Kent which suggests that there was roughly one householder to every 4 communicants there. If the latter sort of ratio were also true in London this would provide another basis for calculations.
  • 48. e.g. 81.
  • 49. e.g. 91.
  • 50. MS. 12140/3.
  • 51. MS. 12140/2.
  • 52. Husting, ii, 336.
  • 53. H. M. Chew, 'Mortmain in Medieval London', English Historical Review, lx (1945), 1–17. For two recent studies of London chantries see Rosalind Hill, 'A chaunterie for souls' in Reign of Richard II, ed. F. R. H. Du Boulay and C. M. Barron (1972), 242; and L. S. Snell, 'London chantries and chantry chapels' in Collectanea Londiniensia, ed. J. Bird et al. (1978), 216.
  • 54. Husting, ii, p. iv.
  • 55. e.g. 98.
  • 56. J. A. F. Thompson, 'Piety and charity in late medieval London', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, xvi (1965), 191.
  • 57. Charities of London, 1480–1660 (1960), 276, 22.
  • 58. e.g., see Statute 23 Hen. VIII c.10.
  • 59. e.g., Thomas Roger's obit maintained by the Vintners (193).
  • 60. Visitation Articles and Injunctions of the Reformation Period, ed. W. H. Frere and W. M. Kennedy, ii (1910), 38.
  • 61. 91, and compare Mr Cote at St Vedast (5).
  • 62. See Claire Cross, Church and People 1450–1660 (1976), 72–3.
  • 63. VCH London, i (1909), 281.
  • 64. This was by no means always the case. The stipendiaries at St Michael Bassishaw, for instance, had no rooms 'but such as they hire and pay rent for' (E 301/89 m.3r).
  • 65. See Subject index: Augmentations, pensions.
  • 66. E 301/120.
  • 67. See also St Matthew Friday Street (69) and St John the Evangelist (70).
  • 68. Particularly 2, 34, 82, 88, 95, 107.
  • 69. BC.
  • 70. See Subject index: poor relief.
  • 71. On the wider rôle of fraternities, see S. L. Thrupp, The Merchant Class of Medieval London, 1300–1500 (Ann Arbor, 1962), 34 et seq.
  • 72. WD 26.
  • 73. T. Fuller, The Church History of Britain, ed. J. S. Brewer, iii (1845), 469.
  • 74. Sparrow Simpson, 74.
  • 75. For example, he has 'Richard Elye' but 'Henry de Cornhill' (112).
  • 76. Those of FitzJames (108) and Dowman (109).
  • 77. WD 26.
  • 78. As at Hackney (151), St Clement (152), Finchley (157), Hanworth (167) and Kingsbury (178).