Introductory: The Augustinian order

Pages 19-34

The Records of St. Bartholomew's Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1. Originally published by Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1921.

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St. Bartholomew's was a monastery of the order of the canons regular of St. Augustine, or Austin Canons, sometimes called the Black Canons, from the black cope and hood that formed the habit. They are not to be confused either with the Austin Friars or with the Black Friars who were Dominicans, and wore a black cloak and hood. The order takes its name from St. Augustine, who was made Bishop of Hippo in the year 395. (fn. 1) He lived with his clergy under the same roof in a form of brotherhood, observing a common rule or canon of life (from [kanon], rule, regular). (fn. 2) At the end of the eleventh century there was a division; some of the clergy dispensed with the greater part of the common rule, lived in a separate dwelling, and had a separate stipend allotted to them, called a prebend. These were called 'canons secular', from saeculum (the world), because they conversed in the world; in fact, were very similar to the canons of our cathedrals to-day. Others of the clergy continued to observe the rule, to live together under one roof, with a common dormitory and refectory, and to observe the statutes of their order: these were called 'canons regular'. They were a less strict section of the religious than the monks, but were, as a matter of course, bound by the rules of obedience, poverty, chastity, and observance of the seven canonical hours, and the ecclesiastical fasts. They could not undertake the cure of souls without dispensation, as the secular canons could do, but they were, in individual cases, allowed to serve the parishes impropriated to their houses, which was not allowed to monks.

Thus in 1137, as shown later, (fn. 3) Rahere granted the church of St. Sepulchre to Hagno the clerk, a brother of the order, for life. In 1398 the pope granted licence that three vicarages belonging to St. Stephen's, Launceston, might be served by Augustinian canons. (fn. 4) In 1443 the Archbishop of Canterbury gave licence to Thomas Thorn ton, professed to the order—but who had been in trouble at St. Bartholomew's—to serve a cure in the diocese of Canterbury until he might be restored to his house of St. Bartholomew. (fn. 5) At Rocester (Staffs.) the senior canon next after the prior often held the vicarage. (fn. 6)

The order included women as well as men, but there were only about six nunneries in England. One was the Abbey of Lacock, Wilts.; others were at Belton, Leicester (known as the Grace Dieu Priory), Burnham (Bucks.), &c.

The canons who occur in our records with the title Dominus were priests in holy orders. The Clerici were professed canons but not yet priests, and these would include the major orders as the diaconate, the subdiaconate, and those who had received the tonsure. There were also Novices, on probation as learners, though in the year 1532 four men who took part in the election of Prior Fuller are described as 'Novices in Holy Orders professed for life'. (fn. 7) In the Cistercian houses and in some of the Augustinian there were lay brothers called Conversi, who were laymen inasmuch as they never proceeded to the higher orders, but who had taken precisely the same vows as the other canons. (fn. 8) These were chosen as men instructed in some craft useful to the monastery.

A list of those in the priory of St. Bartholomew who were assessed for the clerical subsidy in the year 1379 included the prior, fifteen canons, with the title 'Dominus', three Clerici (of whom one was John Meryfeld, or Mirfield, the great physician), then two Clerici Ecclesie (one of whom would have been the clerk of the priory church and the other of the parish church within the monastic church), and the clerk of the refectory or frater, who would have been simply a clerk in office. No lay-brothers under the name Conversi are mentioned in our records, though 'canons not being priests' occur.

Thus in the year 1499 John Longe, a priest, (fn. 9) bequeathed to 'any channon (sic) there beynge a priest and helpinge at the said masse (of Requiem) and dirige xiid, and to every chanon there not beynge a priest viijd.' Alice Bysshop, also in 1458, (fn. 10) bequeathed to each canon outside the order of priesthood 6d. and to each clerk 4d. The novices are mentioned in the will of Thomas Peerson (fn. 11) in 1485, where there was a bequest 'to every novyse iiijd beside ther dewte to say placebo and dirige for' him. Outside the house, benefactors were admitted to the benefits of the order as confraters: Richard de Wendover, a prebendary of St. Paul's, who had in the year 1250 given to the prior and convent of St. Bartholomew's a psalter in two volumes, the epistles of St. Paul, an altar-slab, and an altar-cloth, was received as a brother by the convent and admitted into all the benefits of their house and his name was to be inscribed on their roll. (fn. 12) William Martyn, in his will, in the year 1531, referred to his 'patent of brotherhood of the chapel of the monastery', (fn. 13) and in 1539 Richard Bellamy bequeathed to the canons 13s. 4d. because he was 'a brother with them of their chapter seal'. (fn. 14) Confraters could be men or women, kings or queens. Thus, in the General Chapter held at Leicester in the year 1513, King Henry VIII, Queen Katharine, the Princess Mary, Cardinal Wolsey, the ex-queen of France, and her husband, the Duke of Suffolk, were all enrolled as associates of the order as confraters. (fn. 15) (Robert Flete, a 'confrater' of the hospital, was ordained a subdeacon in the year 1446.)

The first house of the order founded in England was, according to the bull of Pope Paschal II, that of St. Botolph and St. Julian, Colchester, founded about the year 1105; though Walsingham (Norfolk), Ikesworth (Suffolk), and Worksop (Notts.) are by some considered to be earlier. Dunmow Parva, Essex, and St. Mary Overy—now St. Saviour's, Southwark—were both founded in the year 1106; Holy Trinity, Aldgate, in 1108; the two last by Queen Matilda, who had herself been educated in the nunneries of Romsey and Wilton. Llanthony (Monmouth) was also founded about 1108; Leeds (Kent) in 1110; St. James's (Northampton) and Barnwell (Cambridge) in 1112; and Hexham (Northumberland) in the following year. Merton Priory (Surrey) and Cirencester Abbey (Gloucester)—the latter one of the wealthiest, with a mitred abbot—were both founded in 1117; St. Osyth's (Essex) in 1118, and Bolton Abbey (Yorkshire) in 1120. Plympton (Devon) and Kirkham and Nostell (Yorkshire) were founded in 1121; the abbey at Kenilworth about 1122, and St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield, in 1123. There were in all about thirty more or less important houses founded before that of St. Bartholomew's, in comparison with which, at the time of the suppression, Cirencester had a net income of £1,050, Merton £957, Plympton £912, Waltham £900, St. Osyth's £677, St. Mary Overy £624, and Kenilworth £538; as against £693 of St. Bartholomew's. Holy Trinity, Aldgate, was surrendered in 1532; its value, therefore, does not appear, but Stow said 'it was rich in land and ornaments and passed all the priories in London and shire of Middlesex'.

At the time of the foundation of St. Bartholomew's, the Augustinian order had become popular, and by the close of the first half of the century a further fifty houses were founded; while in the second half of the same century another fifty houses of more or less importance followed, including Nutley (Bucks.), 1162; Keynsham Abbey (Somerset), 1167; and Repton (Derby), 1172. Waltham Holy Cross, the second mitred abbey, was occupied by Austin canons in 1177. In the thirteenth century there were about fifty-six new foundations, the most important being that of Ashridge (Bucks.), in the year 1283. In the fourteenth century there were not more than fifteen new houses.

The great nunnery of Syon (Isleworth) was an Augustinian house as reformed by St. Bridget of Sweden. It was founded in 1414 and had a net income of £1,731. It was the only house of Brigittines in England.

In Carey and Ellis's edition of Dugdale are enumerated, all told, some 203 houses of the Augustinian order, and in addition 356 hospitals (including that of St. Bartholomew) for the relief of poor and impotent persons, all of which, he says, followed the rule of St. Augustine. Their distribution over the country is well shown in Gasquet's English Monastic Life by a map printed in the appendix. Four of these houses are now cathedrals;—Carlisle was so raised in the twelfth century, Bristol and Oxford in the sixteenth, and Southwark in the nineteenth century.

There were also varieties of Augustinian canons, such as those who followed St. Austin's rule according to the regulations of St. Nicholas of Arroasia, those who followed the order of St. Victor, and those of the institution of St. Mary of Merton, all of whom were represented by a few houses in England. There were also the Premonstratensians, who lived according to the rule of St. Austin as reformed—about the year 1120—by St. Norbert at Premontré in Picardy; they were, from their habit, called the White Canons and had about thirty-five houses in England. The Sempringham or Gilbertine canons were instituted by St. Gilbert at Sempringham in Lincolnshire, in the year 1148; he composed his rule out of those of St. Austin and St. Benedict. And lastly there were the canons regular of the Holy Sepulchre, or canons of the Holy Cross, which order fell into decay after the loss of Jerusalem in the year 1188. All the above orders are at the present time merged in the order of St. Augustine of the Lateran.

The Augustinian order was governed by a general chapter of the province which met from time to time as occasion arose, or every four years. It was held at different houses of the order: thus in the year 1231 it was held at St. Bartholomew's, when certain canons were published in chapter. (fn. 16) In the year 1328 it was held at Huntingdon, when one of the nine diffinitores (that is, one of those in whose hands was the chief authority of the whole chapter) was the Prior of St. Bartholomew's. (fn. 17) In the year 1331 it was held in the church of the parish of Cheshunt 'for good cause in the octave of Holy Trinity', (fn. 18) and the following extracts from the minutes of this chapter will serve to illustrate the nature of the business generally transacted at these chapters.

It was ordained that a common contribution should be made of one penny in every pound of the assessment of temporal and spiritual possessions for the expenses of a suit against the Abbot of Waltham, a manifest rebel and disobedient; the money to be raised by the visitors (duly appointed) by the feast of All Saints, or fifteen days after, to be paid to the Lord Prior of St. Bartholomew's, London (at that time John de Pekesden). It was also ordained that the levy of a farthing, granted in a previous chapter held at Huntingdon in 1328, should be raised by the visitors and delivered to the Prior of St. Bartholomew's. Next it was ordained that the prelates (priors) of the order in the province of Canterbury be circumspect in the reception of members to the order, so that they do not receive men lacking in letters, or unsuitable by reason of age or any other personal condition.

In the year 1339 the constitutions of the order were revised by Pope Benedict XII. The first chapter of which we have found a record after that date is that of the year 1343, (fn. 19) which record, translated from the Latin, commences: 'A provincial chapter of the canons regular of the order of St. Augustine in the provinces of Canterbury and York, which are reckoned one province for the purpose of holding such chapter, held at St James' without Norwich, under the presidency of the prior of Kirkham in the diocese of York, who was constituted and elected by the convent of the whole chapter aforesaid in place of the prior of Gisburne in the same diocese. The statutes written below were ordained and determined (one of the three determinators of the province of Canterbury being the prior of St. Bartholomew's):

'First that the manner and place of the general chapter to be held in future be according to the statute promulgated at Norwich in the year 1325.

'Next that in every monastery of the order enquiry be made by the prelates twice in the year concerning conspirators, informers and slanderers of the prelates and brethren . . . and if any such be found, which heaven forbid . . . let them be confined to close custody, like a sick sheep, lest they infect the whole flock, on a diet suitable for such, and estimated according to the judgment of the prelates until they shew clear tokens of satisfaction and amendment.'

Visitors were appointed from members of the order to conduct visitations of the various houses; so it was next 'ordained that, if any such were sick or otherwise prevented, a suitable person from the same convent, or another prelate from another convent, might be substituted, as set out in the chapter held at Dunstable'.

Next, they determined that the prelates should 'secure that the statutes, both old and new, promulgated by the lord the pope, be observed'; and that the contumacy of the prelates who were absent be duly punished in the next chapter according to the tenor of the said statutes.

Prior Bolton, of St. Bartholomew's, in the year 1518, (fn. 20) was punished under these statutes by a fine of the sum, large at that time, of £10. He had been appointed a visitor with the Prior of Aylesbury. These two failed to make the visitations, but the Prior of St. Bartholomew's appeared by proxy at the general chapter and was consequently excused on the plea that he was absent on the king's business (being master of works to the king), but, because he had not performed the duty of his visitation, either personally or by deputy, he was fined as above. (fn. 21) At a General Chapter held at Northampton in the fifteenth century a subsidy was voted to the Prior of St. Bartholomew's for his labour and expenses at the Council of Pisa. (fn. 22)

All the monasteries of the order were, in addition to the visitation of the prelates of their own order, subject to regular visitations by the bishops of the diocese (usually every three years), to inquire both as to their temporal and spiritual condition. Some monasteries were exempt from this episcopal visitation, as was Waltham Abbey, but this was a disadvantage to the house rather than otherwise. In the year 1250, Boniface, the archbishop of the province, claimed the right of visitation of St. Bartholomew's (and other houses) in place of the bishop, which resulted in a violent scene in the church, described later on. (fn. 23) An appeal to Rome apparently confirmed the archbishop's claim, because in 1303 Archbishop Winchelsey visited St. Bartholomew's as metropolitan.

This is the only instance we have found recorded where it was necessary to issue injunctions (for the injunctions said to have been issued by Walter Sherington during a vacancy of the see of London cannot be traced, as already shown (fn. 24) ), and the archbishop's injunction related merely to such matters as the disposal of goods without licence; the giving of garments to the brethren instead of money for their purchase; keeping better silence; the gates to be closed at proper times to prevent seculars disturbing the services, and so on. (fn. 25) From foundation to suppression there is no instance recorded of immorality in the priory.

In all cases there was an ultimate appeal to the pope. Such an appeal was made in connexion with the sentence of excommunication resulting from the disturbance at Archbishop Boniface's visitation, but it is shown later, when describing the disputes between the priory and the hospital, that the episcopal ordinance overruled the pope's injunction. As soon as Cardinal Wolsey had extorted the power of visitation from the pope, he issued, on 19 March, 1519, ordinances and statutes to be observed by every monastery of the order of the canons regular of St. Augustine. (fn. 26) Gasquet observes (fn. 27) that 'the ordinances thus enacted are valuable evidence as to the state of the great Augustinian order at that time in England. They point to a severity of discipline and a mortified mode of life altogether incompatible with that general laxity since attributed to them in common with the other great bodies of regular clergy.' Had Wolsey and the king continued this policy of reformation instead of that of annihilation it might have been better for England.

The Augustinian canons regular, like the monks, were governed by a rule common to all the houses of the order. The daily life was governed by another set of regulations due to custom only, known as 'observances' or 'customs', in accordance with the rule, which were of nearly equal value with the rule itself. (fn. 28) The late J. Willis Clark, in the year 1897, published the Consuetudinarium, or 'the Observances in use at the Augustinian priory of Barnwell', Cambridgeshire. (It forms the eighth book of the Barnwell Cartulary, MSS. Harl. 3601.) The customs were probably the same at St. Bartholomew's as at Barnwell, though, as there is no record, we cannot say so with any degree of certainty. In the same volume he has also published both the first and the second 'rules' themselves. From this work much of what follows is gleaned, and the reader is referred to it for further information on the subject: all we can do here is to quote the opening sentence of the first 'rule'.

'Before all things, dearest brethren, let God be loved, then your neighbour; for these be the commandments that are chiefly given to us. These, therefore, are the precepts that we lay upon you, who are established in monasteries, for your observance. In the first place, inasmuch as you are assembled together in one place, that you be of one mind in the house; and let there be to you one mind and one heart in God. And call not anything your own, but let all things be common to you. And let there be distributed to each of you, by him that is set over you, food and raiment; not equally to all, because you are not all of equal value, but rather to each of you as each shall have need.' (fn. 29)

The dress of the canons was a black cassock lined with fur (as were the garments of the laity), known as a pellicium or pelisse; over this was worn a super pellicium or surplice, or sometimes a white rochet with tight sleeves and a girdle. Over the breast was a fur almuce or amess for warmth, which varied in different centuries. (fn. 30) At first it was worn over the head (fn. 31) or thrown back over the shoulders and brought over the chest, where at one time it ended in fur tails. Early in the fifteenth century it was continued below the knees by two stole-like strips with rounded ends, as seen on the effigy of Rahere in the church (pl. IV, p. 72). (fn. 32) The outer garment was a black cope with its hood hanging over the shoulders, lined with fur in the winter; a four-sided cap, or biretta, was also worn.

The food was spare, only two meals a day, dinner and supper, being mentioned in the Barnwell observances. That at dinner consisted of fish, meat, and vegetables. The drink was home-brewed beer, which was taken both at dinner and supper, and also at collation before going to bed. As this was the drink also served to the many guests entertained by the monasteries, it is not surprising that the consumption was large. Especially would this apply to a large monastery in a place like London. (fn. 33)

The loaves at St. Bartholomew's were small, only weighing 17 ounces, as against 30 ounces at Holy Trinity, Aldgate, and 52 ounces for the large loaves and 26 ounces for the small ones at St. Paul's. (fn. 34) The canons at St. Paul's received two large and two small loaves a day; we do not know what was the allowance at St. Bartholomew's.

The canons kept the seven canonical hours. The great service of Mattins or Nocturns was at midnight, and consisted of psalms and lessons immediately followed by Lauds. This service of versicle, chapter, hymn, Benedictus, and prayer was sometimes preceded by the Te Deum. This was so at St. Bartholomew's, as thus chronicled in the Book of the Foundation: 'upon a day when by custom the canons of St. Bartholomew's, before the dawn, mattins being ended, began to sing Te Deum laudamus and a peal of bells was rung, a poor man imprisoned close by heard the sound of the bells and of the hymns.' Prime was held at daybreak, or six in the morning, or later on a fast day of one meal. This service, followed by morning mass and confession, was then followed by chapter, when the martyrology for the day and a portion of the 'rule' were read. Any temporal business affecting the whole convent, such as the execution of a deed (of which we have many records here) was also then transacted.

Terce was sung at the third hour of the day, about 9 o'clock. It followed immediately after chapter, and was succeeded by high mass.

After high mass came sext, at about noon, and then dinner, before which no food had been taken. In summer the canons then went to the dorter for repose until three o'clock.

None was at three, after which there was some relaxation or exercise and some drink in the frater and work.

Vespers, or evensong, similar to lauds, but with the Magnificat, were said at about 5 o'clock. On the eve of a festival this was the first evensong of the feast; that on the day itself was called, as now, the second evensong, at which the altar was incensed during the singing of the Magnificat. An illustration of this, which is referred to later, (fn. 35) occurs in the Book of the Foundation, when, in the year 1148, on St. Bartholomew's Day, 'the canons were chanting the second vespers' and 'when they came to the hymn of Mary, the most Blessed Mother of God, at the incensing of the altars', a girl—deaf, dumb, and blind—was miraculously cured.

After evensong the canons remained in the cloister until suppertime, though on fast days there was no supper. Collation was held in the chapter-house, when a canon of the church was read; after which the brethren either went to the frater, where beer was served, or went straight to the church for compline, which was said at about eight o'clock, and then to bed at nine.

Compline is twice referred to in the Book of the Foundation, in both cases in connexion with miraculous cures. In one case it was 'on a certain day after compline' that 'the bridle of the tongue' of a dumb youth 'was loosed'. (fn. 36) In another, in the year 1159, a woman was carried in a litter to the church and 'on the vigil of the festival of the most blessed apostle Bartholomew, about the hour of compline, she began to recover her long-lost strength'. (fn. 37)

Although the Austin canons were not bound to manual labour like the monks, their day was fully occupied by prayer, study, education, charity, great hospitality, and other good works. Dr. Cox, in his English Monasteries, quotes the report of the commissioners for dissolving the Austin priory of Ulverscroft, which says that the canons were engaged in 'embrothering (illuminating) or writing books in a very fair hand; making their own garments, carving, painting, and graffing; the house keeping such hospitality that except by singular good provision it would not be maintained; and the relief of the poor inhabitants'.

The vows of the order were only allowed to be undertaken after a man had had a year's probation, and after minute inquiries as to character, position, and health had been made. But a man having, at his own desire, and with the consent of the convent, taken the vows, then the law of the land compelled the fulfilment of them. Thus, King Edward III, in the year 1364, issued a mandate (fn. 38) to cause Richard de Hexton, canon, and John Kayso, lay-brother, of the house of St. Bartholomew, Smithfield, professed to the said order, who were then vagabonds in secular habit as rebels to their prior, as he had signified, to be arrested and delivered to him to be chastised according to the discipline of the order.

Blood-letting, or bleeding, which was also common outside the monasteries, was performed on each brother at least seven times a year. It took place in the infirmary, where the patient remained for three days. As conversation was allowed, and the food more generous than at other times, it was looked forward to as a relaxation from the usual monastic life.

The canons had their servants in each department of the house, who did the more menial duties; they also had horses on which to ride when they went outside the monastery—a necessity in the condition of the streets at that time. There is confirmation of this in an amusing account, in the Book of the Foundation, of how the prior rode from West Smithfield to Old Jewry to recover his lost antiphoner (referred to again later). (fn. 39)

When the prior of a monastery died, it was customary to enter the name on a roll,. which was sent round to the other monasteries requesting their prayers for the soul of their late prelate; hence this obituary roll was also called the bede roll. The oldest English roll extant is that on the death of Lucy, the prioress and foundress of the priory of Hedingham, (fn. 40) which dates from about the year 1230. No less than 120 churches acceded to the request for their prayers, the church of St. Bartholomew, London, being the twenty-third on the list. Each answered, 'May the soul of Lady Lucy, prioress of Hedingham, and the souls of all the faithful departed by the mercy of God rest in peace. We concede to her the benefits of our church. We pray for you; pray for us.'

The death day of a founder was kept, like that of the saints, as a festival or feast. At St. Bartholomew's that of Rahere (September 20) was kept as 'a new solemnity', and the writer of the Book of the Foundation says that 'the day of his nativity into heaven being known, it was celebrated on earth with great mirth and dancing'. (fn. 41)

Processions (fn. 42) were held on Sundays before terce, when the blessing of the water and the aspersions took place. Processions were also held on Candlemas, Palm Sunday, Easter Day, Ascension Day, the Assumption, and on the day of the patronal festival. The procession went round the cloister, returning to the church by the western cloister door, and so into the nave in double column, where a station was made before the rood; then passing through the two doors of the rood screen, the columns joined and entered the quire through the pulpitum or quire screen. On the feast of the Purification, the procession went first into the Lady Chapel. On All Souls' Day and other great festivals, the procession went round the cemetery. The processional path round the cemetery at St. Bartholomew's is mentioned in the will of Walter Whytefeld, in the year 1451, (fn. 43) and referred to later. (fn. 44) The attendance of the brethren of the hospital at the processions on festivals was one of the causes of disagreement between the priory and the hospital, and was only finally settled in the year 1373, when their attendance was entirely excused.

The canons were allowed to go outside the precincts of the monastery to collect alms or victuals for the poor and such-like purposes. This was so at St. Bartholomew's from the first, for the aged Alfune, we are told, was accustomed to so collect. (fn. 45)

Some canons were master builders, Prior Bolton, in the sixteenth century, being an example. Some studied medicine, as John Mirfield in the fifteenth century. Sometimes a canon would be sent to the university, with a student's pension, that he might acquire additional knowledge and impart it to the others.

The officials of an Augustinian monastery were, in the case of a priory, as follows:

The prior, or prelate, was the head of the house, and his decision in all matters was final. He had his separate 'lodgings' (as his house was generally called), his own chapel, his own kitchen and servants, and his own horses. In the earlier days it was his duty to take his meals in the frater and to sleep in the dorter. It was his duty to say mass on certain days and to preside at chapter. His seat in the cloister was next to the door of the church. He was chosen either from members of the convent or, if none such was suitable, then from some other convent of the same order; and this was the arrangement prescribed in the king's charter for St. Bartholomew's. On the death of the prior, the sub-prior and other members of the convent went to the king to report the vacancy and to ask licence to elect a successor, which being granted the convent proceeded to election. The result of the election was notified to the king and, when his assent was granted, the king notified the bishop. The convent then, by one or more of the canons, appeared before the bishop and presented a decree of the election of the new prior and asked for confirmation. On that being granted, and the prior-elect having done fealty to the king, the king issued a mandate to the escheator (who, in the case of London, was the lord mayor) to restore the temporalities which had been, in the usual way, in the escheator's hands since the death of the late prior. St. Bartholomew's, however, claimed that, as the charter of 1133 freed them from every earthly subjection and service, so the convent could retain control of the temporalities during an interregnum, and it will be seen later that the canons successfully pleaded this exemption in the years 1297, 1363, and 1414.

The licence to elect, the assent to the election, the notification to the bishop, and the mandate for the restoration of the temporalities are as a rule entered on the Patent Rolls; but in some early cases the enrolment was unfortunately omitted. The actual election of the prior was carried out by one of three methods. First, per viam scrutinii; that is, by the votes of the individuals of the convent. Secondly, per compromissum, when the election was entrusted to a small committee or was delegated to one eminent person; and thirdly, per viam Spiritus Sancti, or by acclamation of the common wish of the whole body by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The second process seems to have been in general vogue, at any rate in the later years, whereby the appointment was practically in the hands of the king or his chancellor. This, as will be seen, (fn. 46) was the case at the election and installation of the last prior, Robert Fuller, in the year 1532 (though in 1510 they proceeded to elect by inspiration of the Holy Spirit). (fn. 47) The election of the master of the hospital followed the same method. (fn. 48) In the year 1525 Cardinal Wolsey was delegated to elect a new master. The election, confirmation, and subsequent installation were set with many legal formalities, all of which, in the case of Robert Fuller, and the masters of the hospital above referred to, are fully set out in the bishop's registers at St. Paul's. (fn. 49)

The sub-prior of the monastery was appointed by the prior, whose place he took when the latter was absent. He slept in the dorter, and supervised the brethren. He appears many times in the records of St. Bartholomew's.

The other officials were generally called 'obedientiaries'. The armarius, or precentor, had charge of the choir and of the service books; he was also the librarian. He is referred to, together with the sub-prior, sacristan, and cellarer of St. Bartholomew's, in the year 1250, as having been excommunicated in connexion with the disturbance that arose at the visitation of Archbishop Boniface in that year. It was the precentor of St. Bartholomew's, London, who, in the year 1254, acting as the sub-delegate and conservator of the privileges of the prior of the hospital of Jerusalem in England, bade the abbot and convent of St. Dogmael, Pembrokeshire, to restore within eight days brother Richard de Kerren, apostate, and the goods which he had wrongly carried off with him. (fn. 50)

The Succentor had similar duties to those of the precentor, but it was necessary for him to have skill in singing.

The Sacrista, or sacrist, had the care of the fabric of the church; also of the altars, the reliquaries, the plate, candles, linen, vestments, &c. He is referred to in the will of Robert de Watford, in the year 1368, who, having willed to be buried in 'the churchyard of the priory of St. Bartholomew de Smethefeld', bequeathed a taper of ten pounds to be given yearly to St. Paul's church, to stand before the crucifix: it was the sacristan of St. Bartholomew's who was to cause the taper to be brought and to have the unconsumed remains of the same.

At St. Bartholomew's the sacrist had separate receipts allotted to his office, consisting of rents from houses in London (£14 9s. 8½d.); the offerings that came during the year to the altar of Hippolitus (£4); every fourth penny coming to the high altar during the year (£1 16s. 8d.); stallage at the feast of St. Bartholomew (6s. 8d.); grazing of the two cemeteries (4s.), and fruit growing in the garden and in the cemeteries (4s.); the total of which, in the year 1306, was thus £21 1s. 0½d. (fn. 51)

The cellerarius, or cellarer, was the right hand of the prior in temporal matters, and did the work of a senior bursar of a college, joined to that of a steward. With the prior he managed the estates of the monastery, visiting the manors under his care. He also, at St. Bartholomew's, had a separate income for his office, which, at the time of the rental (1306), consisted of rents from London parishes (£32 0s. 2d.); oblations at the high altar on St. Bartholomew's Day (£12); tolls at 'the Fair' (20s.); fruit from the garden in the close (13s. 4d.); rent from St. Mary's Blyboro' (£2 16s. 8d.); rent of glebe at Theydon Bois (13s. 4d.); rent from Bobbingworth (8s.); and half the advowson of the church at Danbury (20s.), and other rents £45 4s., amounting in all to £190 4s. 6d. (fn. 52) The friends of William Fynche, the cellarer, in the year 1527, offered Wolsey £300 for his college at Oxford (Christ Church), for his favour towards Fynche's preferment to the priorship. But without avail, as he was not made prior at Bolton's death in 1532.

The refectorarius, or fraterer, was responsible for getting the food on the table in a proper manner. The only record we have concerning him at St. Bartholomew's is that William, the clerk of the frater (clericus de refectorio), was assessed for the clerical subsidy at 4d. in the year 1379. (fn. 53) The only income allotted to him was the sum of 11s. 10d. from rents in the parish of St. Bennet, Woodwharf. (fn. 54)

The coquinarius, or kitchener, presided over the kitchen, and had under him a cook and caterer. At St. Bartholomew's his separate allotted income in the year 1306 consisted of rents in London (£55 10s. 3½d. net); from the garden of the morehawe (20s.); from the soil of the large garden within the close (6s. 8d.), and 1 lb. of cummin. (fn. 55)

The camerarius, or chamberlain, had, with lay officials under him, to do with the clothes of the canons. At Barnwell he provided a laundress, but at St. Bartholomew's we have a record of Prior Fuller appointing by deed a man and his wife as launders of the monastery. (fn. 56) Here the chamberlain also had for the use of his office a separate income of £12 which was derived from St. Sepulchre's church. (fn. 57)

The hospitarius, or guest master, had charge of the guests, and, although we have failed to find a record of this officer at St. Bartholomew's, he must have held a very responsible office considering the large number of guests that flocked to the monastery. (fn. 58)

The infirmarius, or master of the infirmary, had charge of the old and infirm, also of the sick: he had an infirmary cook under him. At St. Bartholomew's he was allotted rents from tenements in eight parishes in London, amounting to £3 15s. 2d., and in addition fruit of the garden value 2s., less socage to be paid 2d. (fn. 59)

The elemosinarius or almoner distributed the alms of the monastery, and in some houses had charge of the school, but this officer does not occur in the records of St. Bartholomew's.

The duties of the bailius or bailiff were considerable, as he had to deal with the tenants on the different estates and see that the farms were properly cultivated. The rental of the year 1306 mentions that the bailiff of St. Bartholomew's took the revenue from the Suffolk estates, at that time amounting to £40 2s. 1d. also that from Little Stanmore Manor, amounting to £10 7s. 4d. His accounts were verified by the auditors.

The auditor was appointed by the prior. An instance of such an appointment at St. Bartholomew's is in a deed among the Harleian Charters (fn. 60) of the year 1533, wherein prior Fuller appoints John Burgoyne, gentleman, and Thomas Burgoyne his son, both living in the close, as auditors of the accounts of all receivers and collectors of the possessions of the monastery within the city and suburbs of London, at an annual payment of 40s., and 20s. for a clerk. (fn. 61)

A steward of the manors was also appointed by the prior. Prior Bolton, in the year 1522, granted one Geoffrey Chambers the office of steward of all the manors of the priory, and an annuity of £4 out of the manor of Canonbury, which the Court of Augmentations consented to pay with all arrears in the year 1542. (fn. 62)

There was the office of clerk of the church of the priory as well as that of the parish clerk, for, as will be seen, (fn. 63) prior Fuller, in the year 1536, granted to Stephen Fyndley the office called 'the clerk of the church of the said monastery and the office of the parish clerk of the church or chapel of All Saints which is within the said church of St. Bartholomew, which offices he had exercised before the time of the grant'. The Court of Augmentations in consequence granted him £3 10s. 0d. and arrears for life. (fn. 64) In the Clerical Subsidy Roll of the year 1379, (fn. 65) in a list of those assessed for the subsidy occur Nicholas and Thomas clerici ecclesiae (clerks of the church); one we assume was the clerk of the priory church, the other the clerk of the parish church. The clerk had the ringing of the bells, at any rate when the Blackfriars were in occupation, because John Garatt in his will, dated 1556, bequeathed 1s. to the clerk of the church for his ringing. (fn. 66)

There was a portarius or janitor, who had charge of the great gate of the monastery and slept there. He was a layman, and his duty was to note those who went in and came out, admitting visitors and notifying the guest master of their arrival. At St. Bartholomew's there are instances of the janitor being a man of means, for there is a very early grant by William, son of Theobald, to Martin, son of Geoffrey de Cornhell, of all the land that Warin the porter of St. Bartholomew's held of him in the parish of Yseldun (Islington), paying 6s. 4½d. yearly. (fn. 67) And in the year 1336, as we shall see, (fn. 68) Stephen de Clopton, janitor of the priory, bequeathed 'to the prior his shops in the parish of St. Mary de Aldermannebury for the maintenance of the work of the chapel of St. Mary newly constructed'. (fn. 69) And in the year 1393 John Wrighte, janitor of the priory, who willed to be buried before the high altar, bequeathed to the church for a vestment for the celebration of masses money owed him by the prior, also 26s. 8d. for the making of a dorsal for the high altar, a penny each to a thousand poor persons, and a chalice of silver gilt for the service of the altar of St. Katharine, besides many bequests to secular chaplains to pray for his soul. (fn. 70)

There were, in addition, chantry priests saying masses within the church for the repose of souls, and of these there were apparently five in the year 1420, (fn. 71) when a return of benefices in the see of London was made. They are named and described as chaplains enjoying stipends in the priory church.

The Rev. Canon Gilbert Higgins, C.R.L., told the writer that Augustinian canons without any distinctive label, as at St. Bartholomew's, are extinct in England. The canons regular of the Lateran to whom they became affiliated now occupy their place. Their dress is a white cassock with a plain linen rochet, over which is worn in winter a black cope or cappa, very like the Dominicans, and in summer and on feast days a surplice or cotta.


  • 1. Rock, Church of our Fathers, ii, 80.
  • 2. Burn, Eccles. Law, ii, 519, ed. 1824.
  • 3. Below, p. 77.
  • 4. Cal. Pap. Reg. v, 156.
  • 5. Lambeth Lib. Reg. Stafford, 10.
  • 6. Hibbert, Mon. 11.
  • 7. Reg. London, Stokesley, 65.
  • 8. Willis Clark, Observ. lv.
  • 9. App. I, p. 538.
  • 10. Ib., p. 536.
  • 11. Ib., p. 537.
  • 12. St. Paul's Lib. MSS., Box 70, No. 1759.
  • 13. App. I, p. 540.
  • 14. Ib., p. 541.
  • 15. Heale, Tanridge Priory, 90.
  • 16. C.C.C. Lib. Oxon. MS. cliv, 403.
  • 17. Cott. MSS., Vesp. D, 1, 44.
  • 18. Ib., D, 1, 44 d.
  • 19. Ib. A. M., Vesp. D, 1, 47 d.
  • 20. Below, p. 226.
  • 21. Cott. MSS., Vesp. D, 1, f, 68.
  • 22. See later, p. 197.
  • 23. Below, p. 121.
  • 24. Below, p. 204.
  • 25. See below, p. 143, where the injunction is given in full.
  • 26. Wilkins, Concil. MS. Cott. Vesp. F. ix, f. 22 et seq.
  • 27. Gasquet, Hen. VIII and the English Monasteries, 15.
  • 28. Willis Clark. Observances, xxxi.
  • 29. Willis Clark, Observances, xxxi. 3.
  • 30. Ib. lxxv.
  • 31. Ib. lxxviii, figure of a canon, Christ Church, Oxford.
  • 32. See p. 71 for description of Rahere's habit.
  • 33. For a large bill for beer, see below, p. 215.
  • 34. Simpson, Reg. St. Pauli, 176.
  • 35. Below, p. 67.
  • 36. Book of Found., Lib. I, cap. xxi.
  • 37. Ib. II, cap. xxii.
  • 38. Cal. Pat., 37 Edw. III, pt. 1, m. 14 d.
  • 39. Below, p. 68.
  • 40. Egerton MSS., Mus. Brit. 2849, No. 23, Obit. roll, Hedingham Priory; also Ryl. MSS., report 5, p. 321; L. Majendie MSS.; also Vet. Mon. vii, pt. iv, p. 3, and Plates XV, XVI.
  • 41. Book of Found., Lib. II, cap. lxxvi.
  • 42. App. I, p. 527.
  • 43. App. I, p. 533.
  • 44. Vol. II, chap. v, Crypt; also App. I, p. 526.
  • 45. Book of Found., Lib. I, cap. xxii and xxiii.
  • 46. Below, p. 238.
  • 47. Ib., Tunstall, f. 80.
  • 48. Reg. London, FitzJames, Installations, f. 15.
  • 49. Ib., Stokesley, 65; see below, p. 238.
  • 50. Cat. of MSS. in Library, St. John's College, Cambridge, 1913, p. 7.
  • 51. Rent. Bodl. gives the total as £20 11s. 0½d.; see also p. 371.
  • 52. See p. 369.
  • 53. Cler. Sub. Roll 42–4 a.
  • 54. See p. 374.
  • 55. See p. 371.
  • 56. Aug. Off. Misc. Books, No. 93; f. 184 b.
  • 57. See below, p. 374.
  • 58. See ib., p. 198.
  • 59. See ib., p. 373.
  • 60. Harl. Chart. A. 43, Mus. Brit.
  • 61. See also below, p. 246.
  • 62. Aug. Off. Misc. Books, No. 101.
  • 63. See below, p. 245; also Vol. II, chap. iii, N. Transept.
  • 64. Aug. Off. Misc. Books, vol. 97, f. 99, 10 Feb., 32 Hen. VIII.
  • 65. Cler. Sub. R., 42/4a.
  • 66. App. I, p. 544.
  • 67. Cat. Anc. Deeds, R.O. II, A, 2382.
  • 68. App. I, p. 529.
  • 69. Cal. Hust. Wills, i, 427.
  • 70. App. I, p. 531.
  • 71. Add. MSS. Mus. Brit. 35096.