Illustrative Documents: Archbishop Laud to the Dean & Chapter of Norwich concerning the choir and minor canons, 1634

Pages 420-421

Registrum Statutorum et Consuetudinum Ecclesiae Cathedralis Sancti Pauli Londiniensis. Originally published by Nichols and Sons, London, 1873.

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After my harty Commendacions &c.

S. in Xp[ist]o.

I doe very well remember ye late alteration of yor Statutes and ye settlement of them in Bp Harsnett and Deane Sucklings time, my Predecessor and my selfe amonge others beinge imployed in that service. Att that tyme it troubled me very much (as itt hath since done vpon the Considerac[i]on of other Churches,) to see ye weaknes of that Queere, and ye small meanes yt was left to make itt better; consideringe that neyther the Queere, nor any thinge else mor about the Church, can florish without some proportionable reward to service. The good old Deane, to helpe thinges on as farre as he might, projected twoe thinges. The one was some proportion of Corne to bee allowed them, which I thincke was then setled, and I hope continued. The other, I doe not well remember yt itt was setled by Statute (ye more e pitty), but itt was generally thought fitt, and approued by all of vs to whom the considerac[i]on of the Statutes was then recomended, yt is, yt such small Benefices, or Cures, within the Cittie or Suburbs, as are in the Churches guifte, should, as they fell voyd, bee given to the Petty Canons respectiuely and to noe other. And that the Church should bee very carefull from tyme to tyme to chuse such Petty Canons into vacant places, as might bee fitt and able to discharge both dutyes: both to singe in the Quire, and to Catechize or Preach in the parish. This custome of givinge these small Cures to the Petty Canons is vsuall with other Churches, where the Quire is as meane as yours, and it beinge great helpe to them; and fitt and able men will never bee wantinge, if this course for theyr preferment be held constant.

I write this unto yee, because I am informed, that there are divers very sufficient men already in expectation of those places whensoever itt shall please God to make any voyd; soe yt you neede not bee to seeke to furnish yourselves. But I heare withall, there is a purpose amongst some of you, without any regard of ye honor and good of ye Church, to bestowe these livinges, when they fall, vpon their private freindes, without any respect had to ye Quire, which if itt bee, will vtterly overthrowe ye Quire Service, and you will not be able to reteine either voyces or skill amongst you. I would bee glad to hope this informa[i]oon were not true, but itt is soe constantly affirmed to mee, that I cannot distrust itt altogeather. These are therefore to pray and require yee to bee carefull in this busines, as you have any care of the Churches good, or of any good opinion that I shall hold of you. And this I assure yee, that if I shall find yt you doe att any tyme putt other men into these Cures, and leaue the Petty Canons destitute to ye vtter preiudicinge of ye Quire, I shall take all the wayes that wisely I can to make you see your error. Butt I hope you will doe your dutyes, and soe preserve my loue and my care for you, which I shalbee glad to extend to ye utmost, if you shall make yourselves capable of itt.

Thus, not doubtinge of your obedience to this direc[i]oon, I leaue you to the grace of God, and rest

Your very lovinge freind

Lambeth, December 3, 1634. W. Cant. (fn. 2)

To my very lovinge ffreindes ye Deane and Chapter of ye Church of Norwich, these.

The Answere of the Deane and Chapter of Norwich concerninge their Pettie Canons.

Most Reverend ffather and our Gracious Lord,

As wee haue many wayes liberally tasted of your noble favours, soe doe wee most humbly thancke you for your last gracious Letter expressinge your ffatherly vigilancie for the good of our poore Queere. To the advancement whereof, as (accordinge to our duty) wee bend our vttermost care and endeavour, soe, by God's helpe, wee shalbee thereto the more styrred vpp by your Gracious admonition. And withall we most humbly beseech your Grace to bee perswaded that, though some overture hath beene made amonge vs to some suche purpose as to your Grace hath beene suggested, yett wee haue not hitherto aliened any Cure from any of our Canons, and soe farre wee are from any such intention that for the future wee are resolued by God's grace att our next grand Chapter (the Actes whereof, by the Statutes, bind as the Statutes themselves,) to settle a particular and perpetuall provision for every one of our Canons. And thus humbly desiringe in this and all other your Grace his fatherly directions soe to demeane ourselues as may both gayne and continue your Grace his good opinion of vs and gracious support to our poore Church, wee blesse God for you and beseech Him longe to continue you to His glorie, the Churches good, and your owne comfort: And rest most humbly

Your Grace his most ready to be commaunded
Jo. Hassall (fn. 3)
ffoulke Roberts
Jo. Spendloue
Nicho. Howlett
Samuell Garey
Edmund Porter
Edward Younge.

To the most Reverend ffather in God the Lord Archbishopp of Canterbury his Grace our very Gracious Lord.


  • 1. Printed from MS. No. 943, preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth.
  • 2. William Laud, translated from London to Canterbury, 1633; beheaded 10 January, 1644–5.
  • 3. Dean, installed 15 July, 1628; died 27 December, 1654. The other signatures are those of the six Canons.