Introduction: The Accounts I: The Economy of the Dean's Estates and Worsley's Income

The Estate and Household Accounts of William Worsley Dean of St Paul's Cathedral 1479-1497. Originally published by Shaun Tyas on behalf of Richard III and Yorkist Trust and the London Record Society, Donington, 2004.

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'Introduction: The Accounts I: The Economy of the Dean's Estates and Worsley's Income', in The Estate and Household Accounts of William Worsley Dean of St Paul's Cathedral 1479-1497, (Donington, 2004) pp. 17-31. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]

II. The Accounts I: The Economy of the Dean's Estates and Worsley's Income

As William Worsley's chief financial official, the receiver – for most of the Dean's life Roger Radcliff – had overall control both of his master's income and of his expenditure. This did not, however, mean that all of Worsley's income passed through Radcliff's hands: entries in several of the receiver's accounts show that some of the Dean's ministers and farmers would regularly make payments either to Worsley himself or to household officials other than the receiver. On these occasions, only the revenue paid to Radcliff appears in the accounts, making it difficult to draw conclusions as to the total revenue annually at the Dean's disposal. Equally, it is impossible to calculate accurately Worsley's full potential income, as the receiver was only concerned with the sums in actuality paid to him. Some approximation to such sums is possible by drawing on two surviving sets of accounts of individual ministers and farmers, which provide a valuable impression of what was due to the Dean from his estates and the proportion of them actually collected. (fn. 1)

Worsley's estates fell into four categories. In the first instance, there were the lands he held by virtue of his deanery. The deanery estates incorporated a number of properties, mainly in the city of London, which had been assembled over the course of time. Characteristic of the process of assembly was the house bequeathed to the deanery by Dean Ralph Diceto in the twelfth century, on condition that future deans should annually pay 10s. towards the keeping of his anniversary. (fn. 2) Further holdings of the deanery were situated in Ivy Lane and Knightrider Street, and included the Middlesex manor of Norton Folgate (in Shoreditch). (fn. 3) Other cathedral estates of St. Paul's were by the fifteenth century customarily assigned to support the dean alongside the traditional parcels of the deanery. These included the rectory of Cheping Lambourn (Berks.), lands at Acton and the mill of Ratcliff (in Stepney). In addition, there were the lands pertaining to Worsley's other benefices. These included the prebends of Willesden at St. Paul's cathedral (1468–99), South Cave at York Minster (1457–99), Milverton at Wells cathedral (1493–96), and Norwell Overall in the parish of Nowell at Southwell Minster, Notts. (1453–99).

Worsley further augmented his holdings with a number of manors which he took to farm from the cathedral chapter. These extended across three counties and included the manors of Caddington and Kensworth in Bedfordshire, Bowes and Polehouse in Edmonton, Drayton and the rectory of Willesden in Middlesex, and Belchamp St. Paul, Wickham St. Paul, Walton-le-Soken, Thorpe-le-Soken, Kirby-le-Soken, Heybridge, Tillingham, Sutton, Barling and Runwell in Essex. (fn. 4) Not all of these manors were in the Dean's hands throughout his period at St. Paul's: the receiver's accounts suggest that Worsley only took Tillingham to farm in about 1486, and his lease had expired or been terminated by 1494, when Sir John Shaa was leasing it directly from dean and chapter. Similarly, the manor of Sutton was leased to Master Walter Odeby, the prebendary of Harleston, from 1489 and Drayton to Edmund Audley, bishop of Hereford, by 1495. Finally, Worsley personally owned a number of properties in Tottenham and Hackney which his patron William Booth had bequeathed to him, and which were transferred to him by Booth's feoffees by May 1476. (fn. 5)

The bulk of Worsley's income from his estates came from the annual farms of his demesne lands. As on other estates, the direct cultivation of the dean's demesnes had by the later fifteenth century long been abandoned in favour of their leasing for annual payments. (fn. 6) The majority of Worsley's manors were leased en bloc to a single farmer or a pair of joint farmers. (fn. 7) Where there are examples of apparent piecemeal leases of parcels within a manor, these were usually parcels originally separate from the demesne, such as 'Kent's tenement' in Thorpe, which appears to have evolved from the former rectory lands, (fn. 8) or 'Cootes' in Wadende in the manor of Ardleigh, the origins of which are more obscure. Where Worsley's holdings included the demesnes of both a manor and a rectory, the farms of the two units were formally kept separate, even if they were let to the same tenant. Often, corn mills were let separate from the manors as well. This was the case at Drayton, where throughout Worsley's tenure the mill was farmed on a lease of its own, and at Heybridge, where one of the mills was kept distinct, except for the years 1488–96, when Geoffrey Dallyng, farmer of the demesne, was able to secure its lease. Individual demesnes were let as complete units, including a variety of buildings, on rare occasions a mill, and on at least one manor a herd of livestock: in 1496–97 the bailiff of the soke accounted for the replenishing of a flock of sheep at Thorpe, which the recently dismissed farmer had allowed to diminish. (fn. 9)

In the absence of any original lease indentures from Worsley's estates, and with only a few such documents from the chapter estates, it is difficult to gain an impression of the length and terms of the leases taken by the farmers. In 1450 several of the manors then held by Master John Bernyngham, including Worsley's later manors of Drayton and Ardleigh, had been farmed out on an annual basis, (fn. 10) but in the second half of the century, leases may generally have become longer. (fn. 11) So, in 1500–01 it was stipulated that Thomas Garrard's lease of the rectory of Chepyng Lambourn, which he held to farm by 1495, had not yet expired, (fn. 12) while in 1508 Dean Colet granted the manor of Runwell to William Ayloff for a term of twenty years, with a promise of renewal for a similar term on expiry. (fn. 13) As on neighbouring ecclesiastical estates, the length of leases of smaller parcels of the estate varied widely. (fn. 14) Thus, the succession of tenants of Heybridge mill indicates short leases ranging from annual farms to at most eight years, (fn. 15) whereas 'Cootes' tenement at Wadende was held by William Frost for at least fifteen years between 1482 and 1497. Frost may have held on similar terms to the London tailor John Bygland, who took various houses and tenements in the city from Worsley year by year during pleasure. (fn. 16) By contrast, in the 1460s Robert Nundy leased a London brewhouse from the chapter for a term of twenty-five years. (fn. 17) Elsewhere on the chapter estates unusually long farms are documented: in 1457 Richard Lee leased a house in the London parish of St. Stephen Walbrook from Dean Laurence Booth and the chapter of St. Paul's for a term of ninety-five years, and in 1460 Roger Frende took to farm several parcels of land in Acton and Willesden from Dean Say and the chapter for a term of ninety-nine years, but these terms may have been atypical, as Lee committed himself to repairing a decayed and ruinous holding. (fn. 18)

Although some leases specifically required the farmer to keep his holding in repair, this was not uniformly the rule. Indeed, several farmers complained that after they had invested substantial sums in the repair of their holdings, the chapter authorities had sought to relet the improved properties at increased rents. (fn. 19) It was not uncommon for late fifteenth-century ecclesiastical lords to continue to take an active interest in the maintenance of their leased properties. The archbishop of Canterbury allowed his farmers up to 20% of their annual rents, and the bishop of London usually retained at least some, sometimes all, of the liability for repairs. (fn. 20) Similarly, Worsley's farmers in the 1490s could be allowed between 10% and 20% of their annual farm for necessary repairs. (fn. 21) In the soke in Essex the costs of repairs were not allowed to individual farmers, but were paid and accounted for by the lord's bailiff. Particularly extensive was the maintenance required by the Dean's mills: for that of Ratcliff (Mdx.) some 4,000 tiles were purchased in one year. A new millstone was provided in 1489, and the same year improvements were made to the ditches supplying the mill with water. This was a costly affair: whereas repairs to the mill regularly accounted for between £3 and £8, the millstone alone cost £5, and the improvements to the ditches came to more than £28. (fn. 22)

Other aspects of the leases of Worsley's farmers, besides the Dean's policy regarding repairs on the estates, were common on south-eastern estates in the fifteenth century. So, in addition to their cash farm, some farmers were required to make an annual livery in kind. Thus, Roger Frende's lease at Acton required him to deliver four bushels of wheat flour and four bushels of oatmeal to the Dean's mansion house in London, although these might be commuted at a rate fixed in the lease indenture, thus preventing the provision of sub-standard produce. (fn. 23) Similarly, a number of Worsley's farmers benefited from grants of gowns on taking up their farms, and in some instances on an annual basis thereafter, a practice also followed on the archbishop of Canterbury's demesnes. On Worsley's lands, this is documented at Acton, Ardleigh, Willesden, Belchamp St. Paul and Wickham St. Paul in 1495–96. (fn. 24)

More unusual was the Dean's practice of exonerating some of his farmers from payments of tax to King and Pope. Whereas Worsley's benefices were taxed in accordance with the grants made by convocation (cf. below, p. 30), his temporal holdings were, like those of secular lords, subject to the taxation granted by Parliament. As a rule, these payments would be made locally by Worsley's farmers and could then be allowed to them in their annual accounts. Consequently, however, this taxation left few traces in the accounts of the Dean's receiver general. Only one of Roger Radcliff's accounts, that of 1488–89, records a payment of 13s. 4d. as a fifteenth for the manors of Bowes and Polehouse in Edmonton. (fn. 25) A similar payment is also recorded there in the farmer's account of 1496–97 for a tenth, with an additional payment of 6s. 8d. for the part of the farmer's lands at Tottenham, and further payments for an earlier instalment. In the same year there is also a record of a payment of 2s. 4d. for the first 'aid' to the King by the farmer of 'Kent's tenement' at Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex. (fn. 26)

The King's taxation aside, several of the accounts also record payments of 'Peter's Pence', also called 'Romeshott'. (fn. 27) 'Peter's Pence' was a levy dating back to Anglo-Saxon times and reinstituted by William the Conqueror after a brief lapse during the late Anglo-Saxon period. Originally it was levied at 1d. for every hearth, but by the later middle ages England paid a fixed annual sum of 299 marks (£199 6s. 8d.). While in some dioceses the collection was supervised by the bishop, in the diocese of London this responsibility rested with the archdeacons of Middlesex, Essex and Colchester, each of whose districts annually returned the sum of £5 10s. (fn. 28) The collection of the levy on the ground fell to local parish priests or manorial lords. Thus, the dues from the manors of Bowes and Polehouse were annually paid to the lord of manor of Edmonton, who acted for the archdeacon of Middlesex. As in the case of the King's taxes, the Peter's Pence from Bowes and Polehouse were often either paid directly by the receiver or allowed in the farmer's account. (fn. 29)

These concessions to the farmers of Bowes and Polehouse were exceptional on Worsley's estates. Although the Dean's concessions to his tenants elsewhere also seem extensive, they did not differ significantly from the terms on offer from other ecclesiastical landowners in the south-east. The accounts do not indicate holdings standing vacant for any length of time or in any number, and it appears unlikely that the concessions resulted from difficulties in finding farmers. Rather, it is probable that in the competitive landmarket of south-eastern England where large amounts of ecclesiastical demesne lands were available to potential farmers, the dean of St. Paul's simply had to match the terms on offer elsewhere. Bowes and Polehouse may have been the exception. Even in years where allowances for taxes and repairs are not expressly documented, the farmers' payments often fell short of the annual farm of £26 13s. 4d., and yet the farmers were not replaced. Even in 1496–97, when elsewhere farmers were being replaced with a view to maximising revenue, John Fox remained in place, paying just £16 13s. 4d., of which only £5 4s. 6d. was delivered in cash.

The farmer of Bowes and Polehouse was not alone in sometimes failing to pay his farm in full. Elsewhere, substantial arrears were also on occasion allowed to mount up in individual farmers' accounts. As Radcliff's accounts were concerned with the sums of money he had received, rather than those that remained outstanding, we can only glimpse such debts in the middle years of the 1490s, for which individual farmers' accounts survive. (fn. 30) Several of the Dean's farmers seem to have been dismissed because of their persistent shortfalls and replaced by men who were prepared to do better. At Runwell, farmer John Bek owed almost two thirds of his annual farm of £36 10s. in the summer of 1493 and further increased his debt to £26 in the following year. This may account for his dismissal by the summer of 1496, when he was replaced by William Aleyn, who promptly ended his first year with a surplus. At Thorpe, John Percy owed more than double the annual farm of £18 by the summer of 1493 and twelve months later his arrears had further risen to £53. As Percy's management of his holding had also been unsatisfactory in other respects – he had allowed the manor's livestock to deteriorate and diminish – his rent arrears were deemed intolerable and he was removed in the following year. When Robert Palmer took up the farm in the summer of 1496, he started with a clean slate, but he also ran up arrears of £9 in his first year, even though he promised to pay £3 6s. 8d. thereof at Martinmas (11 November). At Walton the farmer's arrears remained static from 1493 to 1497 at exactly half the annual farm of £38 6s. 8d. Even though this meant that farmer John Toose was effectively paying his full annual farm, in the summer of 1496 he was replaced by John Horward, who at the end of his first year promised to pay 100s. of the arrears by the following Martinmas. Other farmers were more fortunate during the documented period. As at the main manor of Walton, exactly half the annual farm was outstanding at the rectory of Bancroft in the summer of 1493, yet by the following summer farmer William Carter owed more than two thirds of his farm (£10 16s. 8d.). Nevertheless, he remained and in the summer of 1497 promised to pay £3 6s. 8d. of his arrears at Martinmas. John Harnes, farmer of 'Kent's tenement' in Thorpe, owed half his annual farm of £4 by the summer of 1493 and, even though he paid his full annual farm, these arrears remained outstanding until at least 1497, when he promised to pay in full at Martinmas. Elsewhere, arrears fluctuated. In the summer of 1493 Geoffrey Dallyng, farmer of Heybridge manor and mills, owed the substantial sum of £28 (more than half the annual farm of £43). He reduced this debt to £16 1s. 4d. by the following summer, but two years later he once more owed £36 18s. 6d., which over the course of the following year increased further to £37 2s. 10d. At Caddington John Bray owed £16 18s. 6d. (almost half his farm) in the summer of 1493. He reduced these arrears to just £6 4s. 2d. over the course of that year, but in the summer of 1496 he was once more £18 behind, paying all outstanding monies in full by the summer of 1497. Even good farmers who could normally be relied on to pay their farm in full could occasionally fall into arrears, perhaps through unforeseen circumstances. Richard Wynche, who in the early 1490s had replaced another persistent debtor, Edmund Counteys, as farmer of Kensworth ended the years 1492–93, 1493–94 and 1496–97 quit, but in 1495–96 he fell behind by the sum of £3. (fn. 31)

The differences between individual manors both in the regularity with which farmers incurred arrears and in their scale, suggest that the debts were not simply the result of a wider economic downturn, but depended on local circumstances. It seems likely that in many instances Worsley's administration of his estates had simply failed to keep control of his farmers' mounting arrears, perhaps in part as a result of the ageing Roger Radcliff's failing capacities. Perhaps under the pressure of payments to the Crown following the Warbeck conspiracy, the administration of the Dean's finances after Roger Radcliff's death was tightened and the mounting arrears of many farmers were tackled. (fn. 32) Several persistent debtors were replaced by new farmers and, although the Dean's new receivers (his kinsmen and mainpernors Edmund Worsley and Philip Booth) recognised that a farmer could not reasonably be expected to pay the full sum owing all at once, they lost no time in making sure that the debtors agreed a date for the payment of at least a partial sum.

The men who took the Dean's lands to farm came from a variety of backgrounds. Several were senior clerics, such as Thomas Jane, the archdeacon of Essex, and Richard Nykke, both later bishops of Norwich (who held houses in the city of London from the Dean), Edmund Audley, bishop of Hereford (who was tenant of Drayton in 1495) and Robert Stillington, bishop of Bath and Wells (who held a tenement in Sutton). Others were lesser clergy. Into this category fell men like John Lokear, vicar of Belchamp St. Paul, a naturalised Scotsman, and William Hill, a minor canon of St. Paul's cathedral. A number of tenants were London merchants who were investing profits made in trade into estates in the south-east. These included the goldsmiths Sir Edmund and Sir John Shaa who successively took Worsley's lands at Tillingham to farm. Other farmers were members of the gentry, either more substantial men like William Say of Brokesbourne, or gentlemen like Edward Westby, farmer at Bowes and Polehouse. Whereas these men may be thought to have sublet the lands they leased from the Dean, at the lower end of the social scale a majority of the farmers were peasants who cultivated the lands themselves, men like John Fox, farmer at Bowes and Polehouse, a husbandman, John Lindsey at Heybridge, and the rather more substantial yeomen Roger Frende, farmer at Acton, and Edmund Prentesse, farmer at Drayton.

In several instances, leases remained in the same families for more than one generation. At Bancroft rectory, by 1493 John Carter had been succeeded by William Carter. At Acton, Roger Frende's lands were taken up first by his widow, Joan, and later by their son Robert. 'Kent's tenement' at Thorpe passed from John Saver to William Saver junior in 1488, and in the same year Sir Edmund Shaa was succeeded by his nephew Sir John Shaa as farmer of Tillingham, where Sir Edmund's son Hugh had also held land from the Dean. (fn. 33) The mills of Ratcliff and Heybridge were respectively held by successive generations of the Hewet and Pere families, while Norton Folgate was held in succession first by William and Edmund Hill, and later by John Stephens, whose widow Joan took up the farm on his death.

As on other estates, considerations for household and estate servants could play a part in the choice of tenants and farmers. Thus, John Fox, joint farmer of Bowes and Polehouse by 1481, was possibly the same man, a probable household servant, who went to Scotland with the Dean that year. Thomas Bogas, bailiff of the soke of St. Paul, took the rectory of Kirby to farm in about 1488 and William Hill, rent collector of the Dean and Chapter by 1480 held Norton Folgate to farm. (fn. 34)

A small part of the demesne remained in the Dean's hand. These lands were chiefly woodland, including a wood at Willesden, 'le Parke' at Ardleigh and 'Deane Wodde' at Acton, and farmers and local officials occasionally accounted for sales of timber. The income derived from the sale of such demesne produce was usually added to the accounts at the time of the audit, as it did not form part of Worsley's regular income. More important as a source of income were the manorial courts, which remained in the Dean's hand and were held annually by his steward. Apart from the tenants' amercements, large sums were collected annually in entry fines and heriots. (fn. 35) Whereas these latter payments seem to have been leviable, it appears that, as elsewhere, amercements were often ignored: in 1496–97 the bailiff of the soke had to be allowed 1s. 5d. of amercements remaining unpaid from the previous year. (fn. 36) As a result, the revenues returned by the courts fluctuated, depending chiefly on the incidence of such fines. Thus, in the years when the returns of the courts in the soke in Essex were recorded separately, they varied from £4 13s. 4d. in 1482–83 (just 3.16% of Worsley's total revenues from the soke) to £16 15s. 4d. in 1480–81 (their highest share of the total revenue being 12.87% in 1487–88).

More reliable than the fines and amercements of the conventionary tenants, both free and unfree, were their fixed rents. Although of lesser importance than the farms of the demesnes as a proportion of Worsley's total annual revenues, they could still account for a sizeable percentage of the returns from an individual manor. Expressed as a share of the money annually due to the Dean, conventionary rents amounted to between a quarter and 40% of the Dean's annual income from the manors where they are documented (roughly 40% at Belchamp St. Paul, 20% at Norton Folgate, about 27% in the soke, 23–40% at Ardleigh). In reality, however, the importance of fixed rents may have been rather greater than these figures suggest, as their full payment was more reliable than that of the demesne farms. Thus, from 1487 onwards they regularly accounted for about 40% of the money received from the soke in Essex, whereas they should have made up less than 30% had all of Worsley's revenues there been paid in full. This, however, was not invariably the case. Occasional difficulties in levying amercements from the courts aside, the process of administering the revenues due from conventionary tenants was a labour-intensive process, and it is thus perhaps not surprising that the ministers charged with performing this duty fell into arrears. In the summer of 1493 the bailiff of the soke of St. Paul's not only owed £6 4s. 4½d. of the perquisites of the courts, but also £34 4s. 8d. of the rents. Over the course of the following year he was able to almost halve the outstanding court profits and the rents in arrears fell to £23 6s. 7d., but in 1496 more than £50 of rents were once more owing. By the summer of that year, an attempt had been made, with some success, to gain control of affairs. The profits of court were paid in full, and the bailiff was allowed various rents, causing his arrears of rents to drop to £31 8s. 6d.

In addition to the revenue from his estates, Worsley also annually received further sums of money by virtue of his spiritual functions in his various benefices. These monies left little trace in Radcliff's accounts, as they were often paid directly to the Dean by the local ecclesiastical officials. From the deanery of London, fines for corrections were paid to Worsley or his receiver, by the Dean's commissary or his deputy. Worsley's archdeaconries of Nottingham (1476–99) and Taunton (1493–96) returned revenues for the induction of clerics and chevage. The archdeacons were also responsible for the collection of Peter's Pence within their jurisdiction, and would keep a share for themselves. (fn. 37)

For the periods when he was in residence at London or Hackney and not attending to his other benefices elsewhere in the kingdom, Worsley was also entitled to payments of commons, a weekly cash allowance, from the cathedral's common fund. As a rule, these payments were simply subtracted from the greater sum the dean paid into the fund for the common estates that he held to farm from the cathedral chapter. They were however allocated at various times over the course of the year, as the bills made out for them between the Dean's receiver and the cathedral chamberlain indicate. (fn. 38) The sums that Worsley thus received were not specified, but the rate of 1s. per week which was in force in about 1300 may still have applied in his day.

Furthermore, the residentiaries of St. Paul's at the turn of the thirteenth century were entitled to twenty-one loaves and thirty gallons of ale per week from the cathedral bakehouse and brewery, liveries in kind which continued in the late fifteenth century, as Worsley's purchases of grain for the bakehouse show. As his commons were allocated on the customary occasions throughout the year, it is likely that the Dean also drew his allowance in kind, although there is no record of it in the receiver's accounts. (fn. 39)

The picture of the administrative structures of Worsley's estates given by the receiver's accounts is incomplete, showing only those officials who came into contact with the receiver or the Dean in the course of their duties. Alongside the receiver, two central officials, the auditor and the estate steward, are documented in the Dean's estate administration. All three were itinerant officers who annually rode from manor to manor to receive and check the farmers' accounts, to hold the Dean's courts and to supervise the maintenance of the holdings. (fn. 40) The office of auditor was held successively by John Hewyk (c. 1480–85) and John Saperton (c. 1487–97). (fn. 41) The two men had prior connections: Saperton was a tenant of Hewyk's, and later served as his executor. The supervision of the maintenance of the estates and the holding of the Dean's courts was mainly the responsibility of the estate steward. There may have been several stewards at any one time: only the steward who was responsible for the soke of the St. Paul's in Essex received an annual fee from the Dean and seems to have held higher status than other officials described as stewards documented at Heybridge and Norton Folgate. (fn. 42) As the judicial task of presiding at manorial courts was central to their duties, the stewards were selected on the basis of their training in the law: Robert Forster, steward of the soke in the first half of the 1480s, was a Middlesex lawyer and royal clerk, but also had prior connections at St. Paul's, being brother of the archdeacon of London, Master John Forster. His successor as steward, William Clarkson, was a Lincoln's Inn lawyer. After the Warbeck conspiracy, the Dean appointed the King's henchman John de Vere, earl of Oxford, chief steward of his Essex estates, a purely nominal appointment, which the earl discharged by a deputy. This deputy, John Alyff, probably came from a family of lawyers from Hornchurch, another member of which had married Robert Forster's daughter. (fn. 43)

The soke of St. Paul's, a separate administrative unit since Anglo-Saxon times, in the later fifteenth century continued to have its own bailiff, who took responsibility for the collection of rents of assize and court profits, as well as overseeing repairs in his bailiwick. (fn. 44) In London, the Dean had his own rent collector, distinct from the chapter's officer, who on occasion also conveyed some revenues to Worsley. While several of these men were in holy orders, such as William Hill, a minor canon of St. Paul's, or John Farman, one of the Dean's chaplains, others, such as Henry Saunder, had trained in the common law. Occasionally, household officials took charge of collecting Worsley's rents. The steward of the household, Thomas Bunewell, for some years performed this function at Hackney and Ardleigh, and another member of the Dean's household, John Fuldon did the same in the latter manor in the mid 1480s.

Elsewhere, the Dean's farmers were called upon to perform basic administrative duties, a policy designed to reduce the costs of the estate administration. Thus, Geoffrey Dallyng and John Lindsey, successive farmers of Heybridge, acted as the Dean's rent collectors there. Similarly, the Dean's rents at Belchamp St. Paul were collected by the farmers there and at Wickham St. Paul, John Lokear, vicar of Belchamp, and Thomas Watson, one of Worsley's household chaplains.

The Dean's more important benefices had their own administrative structures, which only came into contact with the receiver when paying the revenues they had generated. As the judicial functions of the benefices' incumbents were a central source of their revenues, the administrations were heavily dominated by canon and civil lawyers. In London, the Dean and Chapter's jurisdiction was exercised by their commissary general, Robert Braddows, rector of Markshall, Essex, and later of St. Mary Woolnoth, London. He was assisted by the Dean and Chapter's notary and registrar, M. Nicholas Colles. The income from Worsley's archdeaconry of Taunton was paid to the receiver by Master Robert Godde, vicar of Kingston, Som., whose office within the archdeaconry administration is uncertain. Similarly, the officials from the archdeaconry of Nottingham who came into contact with Worsley's receiver included the Dean's kinsman Thomas Orston, a lawyer, the collector Richard Samesbury, the registrar Master John Kendale and a number of officials including Master Robert Colyngham, rector of St. Peter, Nottingham, and Master Robert Wilby, rector of Woollaton, Notts., as well as Richard Breych, probably a civil lawyer.

As noted above, the accounts edited in this volume do not represent Worsley's full income, but show only the revenue rendered to his receiver. This averaged between £500 and £600 per annum, but in 1495–96 came to as much as £844 4s. The bulk of this increase is accounted for by monies from Worsley's personal estate at Hackney and from his northern and southwestern benefices, revenue which was usually paid directly to the Dean by the local collectors, and did not appear in the receiver's accounts. (fn. 45) Taken together, the accounts make it possible to gain an impression of the total sums of money which the estates and spiritualities were annually expected to return. If paid in full, the Dean's potential annual income should thus have amounted to over £760, and probably reached as much as £800.

More difficult to establish is the Dean's annual disposable income, after a string of regular financial commitments arising from the estates had been met. In the first instance, substantial sums fell due to the cathedral's common fund as farms for the manors the Dean held from the Chapter in addition to his own prebend and deanery. Over the course of Worsley's tenure up to the late 1480s this annual payment steadily increased, peaking at £246 1s. 4d. in 1488–89. Although there is no conclusive evidence of this, fluctuations in this annual figure were probably influenced by two factors other than economic change. On the one hand, the sum retained by the Dean on account of his residency was dependent on the number of days he actually spent resident at London or Hackney. On the other hand, no additional evidence (for example, accounts of the cathedral chamberlain) survives to show whether the payments made by Radcliff accounted for all monies passed to the chamberlain from Worsley's estates. In addition to the payments to the common fund, a quantity of grain was due to the cathedral's bakehouse every year, to provide for the residentiaries' livery of canonical loaves (cf. above, p. 27). From his manor of Heybridge the Dean annually had to find thirty-two quarters of wheat. As he no longer farmed the demesne himself, this grain had to be bought, or a cash payment made in lieu. A further larger sum was paid in cash to the clerk of the bakehouse every year, presumably in place of the grain due from Worsley's other manors. (fn. 46) As both of these payments were dependent on the amount of time Worsley spent in residence at the cathedral, they fluctuated to some degree, peaking in 1488–89.

Smaller sums had to be paid annually as rents to other feudal lords from whom some of Worsley's estates were held. The sum of 19s. was annually due for Bowes and Polehouse which were held from the manor of Shingleford. This manor was in the hands of the Bourgchier earls of Essex until 1485, thereafter passing to Edmund, Lord Roos. When the latter was found to be unsuitable for his dignity, the custody of his lands was granted to Sir Thomas Lovell, to whom Worsley paid the 19s. in 1495–96. The Bishop of London received £1 13s. 4d. p.a. for property held from his manor of Chadsworth, and the same prelate was also annually paid £9 15s. for the lease of a marsh at Stepney. The sum of £1 2d. p.a. (20s. in 1480–81) for Bowes and Polehouse was paid to Sir Richard Charlton and, after his death in 1485, to his sister Agnes and her husband Sir Thomas Bourgchier. (fn. 47) Further payments were made to exempt the Dean from various feudal services, such as the suit he owed at the court of Edmonton, and homage owed to William Lawshull for lands in Rochford hundred, Essex. (fn. 48)

As distinct from the parliamentary taxation to which the farmers of the Dean's manors were subject (cf. above, p. 21), some of Worsley's benefices were liable to pay clerical taxes granted by convocation. (fn. 49) The most common grant made by convocation was a tenth on the value of benefices, based on an assessment made by Pope Nicholas IV in about 1291. (fn. 50) Six full tenths were granted during the period covered by the accounts, to Edward IV in 1481, to Richard III in 1484 and 1485 (although in the event the second half of the second grant did not fall due for collection until after Bosworth) and to Henry VII in 1487, 1489, 1492 and 1495. (fn. 51) Worsley's accounts record the payments due for the benefices he held directly: the rectory of Lambourn, for which a tenth came to £5 6s. 8d. and the prebend of Willesden, for which 8s. had to be rendered. (fn. 52) Payments from Willesden are recorded in 1481, 1484, 1487 and 1495, but not in 1485 or 1492. In 1487–88, 4s. was levied additionally for the 'grace' of the rectory of Willesden. The statutory payments from Lambourn appear in the accounts in 1481 and 1495. (fn. 53) Only in 1495–97 are payments recorded for St. Paul's itself, assessed at £11 16s. for a full tenth. Understandably, by Worsley's day circumstances had changed and as in the case of lay taxation, the Crown sought to find ways of increasing its revenue in a variety of ways. In the case of clerical taxation this involved the taxation of previously unassessed benefices and on one occasion – in 1489 – the grant of a specified sum of £25,000 in subsidy by convocation. (fn. 54) This subsidy came to nearly the value of two tenths, and consequently Worsley's contribution also came to twice the normal level. The payment of £5 6s. 8d. for half a subsidy is recorded at Lambourn, while Willesden paid 16s. with an additional levy of 8s. by hand of the farmer for the 'grace' of the rectory. (fn. 55)

The sums at Worsley's disposal after subtraction of such payments still regularly exceeded £300 p.a., and probably even came to over £400 p.a. This placed him among the very wealthiest of English clergy below the episcopal level. On the basis of the 1535 Valor Ecclesiasticus, Christopher Dyer has calculated that the seventeen members of the fifteenth-century English episcopate could expect an annual income of between £400 and £3500, but few other beneficed clerics could even expect £40 p.a. Including the laity, there were only two hundred households with an annual income of £300 or more in fifteenth-century England. (fn. 56)

The period covered by the surviving accounts is too short, and their topographical distribution too patchy, to make any meaningful statements about economic change. What seems clear is that Worsley's management of his estates followed patterns conventional in the south-east of England in the fifteenth century. At the same time, it appears that he did not always exploit his lands to their full potential. The tightening up of the administration and the consequent increase in revenues from almost all his estates, occurred only after the Warbeck episode, when cash was needed to satisfy the Crown.


  • 1. Documents 11, 12, below.
  • 2. Radulfi de Diceto Opera, ed. Stubbs, vol. i, p. lxxiii.
  • 3. Document 13, below.
  • 4. For these manors and their acquisition by the Dean and chapter cf. Visitations of St. Paul's, pp. xv–xxiii; VCH Middlesex, v. 151; vii. 213–14. Walton-le-Soken is today called Walton-on-the-Naze.
  • 5. CCR, 1476–85, no. 39. Cf. p. 5, above.
  • 6. For the chronology of demesne leasing on other ecclesiastical estates see P. J. Taylor, 'The Estates of the Bishopric of London from the Seventh Century to the early Sixteenth Century', (2 vols., unpubl. Univ. of London Ph.D. thesis, 1976), ii. 294–96; F. R. H. Du Boulay, 'Who Were Farming the English Demesnes at the End of the Middle Ages?', Economic History Review, 2nd Ser. xvii (1964–65), 443–55, p. 445; B. Harvey, 'The Leasing of the Abbot of Westminster's Demesnes in the Later Middle Ages', ibid, xxii (1969), 17–27, p. 19; eadem, Westminster Abbey and its Estates in the Middle Ages (Oxford, 1977), pp. 148–51; C. Dyer, Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester 680–1540 (Cambridge, 1980), p. 209. By 1450 the bulk of the estates held by M. John Bernyngham, a prebendary of St. Paul's, including Worsley's later manors of Drayton, Norton and Ardleigh, were in the hands of farmers, and the same was probably true of other Dean and chapter properties: PRO, SC6/1108/19. For Bernyngham cf. below, n. 97.
  • 7. Wholesale leasing was also dominant on the estates of the bishops of London and Worcester: Taylor, 'Estates', p. 307; Dyer, Lords and Peasants, p. 209.
  • 8. This appears to be the implication of the farms paid: John Kent, who from 1479 to 1483 held Thorpe rectory at an annual farm of £4, in 1484–85 held 'Kent's tenement' which continued to be let for the same amount until 1497. John Percy, farmer of 'Thorpe Hall' in 1487–88, was said from 1488–89 to be farmer of the manor and rectory at a farm unchanged since the early 1480s. Cf. documents 1–4, 6–8, below.
  • 9. Document 12, below. By contrast, the tenants of the bishopric of Worcester received no livestock (Dyer, Lords and Peasants, p. 210), and on the estates of the bishop of London the practice of letting livestock with the demesne continued only on a few select manors, probably at the farmers' insistence (Taylor, 'Estates', pp. 312, 314), whereas on the estates of Westminster Abbey the practice varied between manors (Harvey, Westminster Abbey, pp. 153–54).
  • 10. It is possible that this practice resulted from Bernyngham's need to let his demesnes for terms shorter than those for which he himself held his manors from the cathedral chapter: PRO, SC6/1108/19. For Bernyngham cf. Fasti, v. 26, 46, 53 and above, n. 93
  • 11. Dyer, Lords and Peasants, pp. 210–11.
  • 12. PRO, C1/240/7.
  • 13. PRO, C1/534/6.
  • 14. Taylor, 'Estates', p. 323.
  • 15. John Candish until 1481, Robert Pere 1481–82, John Pere, by 1484–1488, Geoffrey Dallyng 1488–96, Robert Bette from 1496.
  • 16. PRO, C1/258/85.
  • 17. PRO, C1/61/553.
  • 18. GL, MS 25342; PRO, C106/149.
  • 19. PRO, C1/61/553, 258/85.
  • 20. Du Boulay, 'Demesne Farming', p. 446; Taylor, 'Estates', p. 308. By contrast, the abbot of Westminster's farmers were generally required to repair any defects at their own expense, even if the abbot provided the necessary timber: Harvey, 'Demesne Leasing', p. 24.
  • 21. Substantially higher expenses such as were incurred at Runwell in 1496–97, where the farmer was allowed 59% of his farm for repairs, were the exception: document 12, below.
  • 22. Document 8, below. On mills and their repair more generally see R. Holt, The Mills of Medieval England (Oxford, 1988), esp. pp. 99–101.
  • 23. GL, MS 25342. The livery is documented in the 1480–81 receiver's account, albeit by then commuted (cf. below, p. 49).
  • 24. Document 9, below. A similar practice was followed by the archbishop of Canterbury on some of his demesnes: Du Boulay, 'Demesne Farming', p. 445.
  • 25. Document 7, below; M. Jurkowski, C. L. Smith, D. Crook, Lay Taxes in England and Wales 1188–1688 (Kew, 1998), p. 122.
  • 26. Document 12, below.
  • 27. Documents 7, 8, 9, 12, below. For the background and early development of this levy see O. Jensen, 'The "Denarius Sancti Petri" in England', Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, n.s. xv (1901), 171–247, based on his doctoral thesis 'Der englische Peterspfennig und die Lehensteuer aus England und Irland an den Papststuhl im Mittelalter' (Doctoral thesis, Heidelberg, 1903); William E. Lunt, Papal Revenues in the Middle Ages (2 vols., New York, 1934), i. 65–71; idem, Financial Relations of the Papacy with England 1327–1534 (Cambridge, Mass., 1962), pp. 1–54.
  • 28. Jensen, 'Denarius Sancti Petri', pp. 186–88, 206; Lunt, Papal Revenues, i. 65–69, ii. 69.
  • 29. J. J. Scarisbrick, 'Clerical Taxation in England, 1485 to 1547', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, xi (1960), 41–54, p. 42; documents 7–9, 12, below.
  • 30. Documents 11, 12, below. On the subject of arrears more generally see R. R. Davies, 'Baronial Accounts, Incomes and Arrears in the Later Middle Ages', Ec.H.R., 2nd ser., xxi (1968), 211–29.
  • 31. In the two years of his tenure for which separate figures for Caddington and Kensworth survive, Counteys paid less than a third of his farm: documents 7, 8, below.
  • 32. A similar tightening up of the administration is documented on the bishop of Worcester's estates after 1450: Dyer, Lords and Peasants, p. 171.
  • 33. For Hugh Shaa: CIPM Hen. VII, iii. 677.
  • 34. For biographical details of all these individuals see below, app. 2.
  • 35. E.g. in 1480–81 John Nayller paid an entry fine of £16 15s. 4d. for his holdings in the soke in Essex: document 2, below. For estreat and court rolls of the Dean's manors see GL, MSS 25281/1, 25311 (Heybridge), 25287 (Norton Foliot), 25301/1 (Ardleigh).
  • 36. Dyer, Lords and Peasants, pp. 267–68; document 12, below.
  • 37. R. N. Swanson, Church and Society in Late Medieval England (Oxford, 1989), pp. 220–21. Income from spiritualities at the higher – episcopal – level, and the difficulties in calculating them, are discussed by idem, 'Episcopal Income from Spiritualities in Later Medieval England: The Evidence for the Diocese of Coventry and Lichfield', Midland History, xiv (1988), 1–20; idem, 'Episcopal Income from Spiritualities in the Diocese of Exeter in the Early Sixteenth Century', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 39 (1988), 520–30.
  • 38. Cf. e.g. documents 4, 5, 7, below.
  • 39. Edwards, pp. 41–43.
  • 40. For the duties and methods of medieval auditors and stewards see Davies, 'Baronial Accounts', 222; D. Oschinsky, 'Medieval Treatises on Estate Accounting', Ec.H.R., xvii (1947), 52–61.
  • 41. Documents 2–9, 12, below.
  • 42. GL, MS 25287, rot. 15; document 5, below. The steward recorded at Heybridge in 1484–85 was a Master Marke, probably the bishop of London's receiver general who may have been employed on a temporary basis during a vacancy of the manor.
  • 43. For biographical details of these men cf. appendix 2.
  • 44. Visitations of St. Paul's, p. xvii.
  • 45. Cf. documents 6–8, below.
  • 46. For instance, in 1481–82 £15 3s. 4d. was paid for the 32 quarters and £74 3s. ¾d. for the remaining wheat: document 3, below.
  • 47. Documents 1–10, below.
  • 48. Documents 2, 7, 8, below.
  • 49. For Worsley's membership of convocation see above, p. 10.
  • 50. A. K. McHardy, 'Clerical Taxation in Fifteenth Century England: The Clergy as Agents of the Crown', in The Church, Politics and Patronage in the Fifteenth Century, ed. R. B. Dobson, 168–92, p. 169; Scarisbrick, 'Clerical Taxation', pp. 49–50; Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae auctoritate P. Nicholai IV. circa A.D. 1291, ed. T. Astle, S. Ayscough and J. Caley (London, 1802).
  • 51. McHardy, pp. 188–89.
  • 52. PRO, E359/35, rot. 51; The Taxatio estimated the annual value of the church of Lambourn as £53 6s. 8d. and of the prebend of Willesden as £4 (Taxatio, p. 19).
  • 53. Documents 2, 5, 6, 9.
  • 54. McHardy, p. 189; Jurkowski et al., pp. 122–24.
  • 55. Documents 7, 8, below.
  • 56. Dyer, Standards of Living, p. 32.