Colleges: Collegiate church of All Saints, Derby

Pages 87-92

A History of the County of Derby: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

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In the days of the Confessor Derby was an important centre of the Anglo-Saxon Church. There were then within the borough no fewer than six churches. Two of these on the royal demesne were of a collegiate character; the one served by seven clerks, who held 2 carucates of land in Little Chester; the other by six clerks who held 9 bovates of land in Cornun (Quarndon) and 'Delton,' the latter place-name being an error of the Domesday scribe for Eaton, i.e. Little Eaton. There can be no doubt that the church of All Saints was one of these two collegiate churches, and in all probability the one to which seven clerks were attached.

The church of All Saints was given by Henry I together with that of Wirksworth to God and the church of St. Mary of Lincoln, to be held in praebendam. . . . From the names of the witnesses to this charter, and from others mentioned in the document itself, it becomes evident that its date lies between the years 1100 and 1107. (fn. 2) On the accession of Henry II, in 1154, the gift of his grandfather was formally confirmed.

The important Derbyshire churches of All Saints, Wirksworth, Chesterfield, and Ashbourne, which were royal gifts to the minster church of Lincoln, as well as the advowsons of Matlock, Kirk Ireton, Thorpe, Fenny Bentley, and others of minor importance, were from an early date considered to pertain exclusively to the dean of Lincoln, and with them the chapter of Lincoln was in no way concerned. It is therefore fruitless to expect to find any reference to the history of this important church in the exceptionally early and exceptionally perfect series of Act Books in the chapter muniment room. There is, however, one folio volume there of particular value to the Derbyshire antiquary, which is an early chartulary of the dean's possessions and privileges. It is entitled Chartularium Decani, and the longer title within the cover is Carte tangentes Decanatu Ecclie beate Marie, Lincoln. (fn. 3) From the various charters in this collection it is clear that the gift of Henry I constituted the dean of Lincoln dean also of this collegiate church. He is sometimes described as rector of All Saints; sometimes as parson (persona), and in two instances he is described as 'Dean of Lincoln and Dean of the free Chapel of All Saints, Derby.' The estates specially attached to the dean or presiding canon of All Saints were reckoned as an intrinsic part of the endowment of the deanery of Lincoln. The dean of Lincoln, however, did not interfere with the estates attached to the office of sub-dean of All Saints, or with those pertaining to the remaining six prebends (save so far as memorial rights were concerned), but all those clergy were nominated and instituted by the dean instead of being co-opted by their own chapter, and instituted by their diocesan, which would have been the normal course under canon law.

Some confusion has arisen from Hugh, the founder of Darley Abbey, c. 1160, being described in their charter as dean of Derby. The chartulary of that day also names other deans of Derby, such as Henry and Robert, about the beginning of the next century; but it is quite clear that these were merely the (rural) deans of the town at large and had no connexion as deans with All Saints. (fn. 4)

In 1252 a dispute arose between the canons of All Saints and the abbey of Darley relative to tithes, which was eventually referred to the papal court for settlement. Innocent IV appointed Giles, archdeacon of Berkshire, to act as papal commissary. The archdeacon, after summoning before him the representatives and witnesses of both parties, gave his decision in the conventual church of St. Frideswide, Oxford, on 7 May, 1253. The canons claimed, in the names of the churches of All Saints and St. Alkmund, that the abbey should pay tithes to them of all their demesne and other lands, of hay, of the profits of the mills and fisheries, and of all other titheable articles within the limits of the two parishes. They stated that the boundaries of these parishes were coterminous with the royal demesne; that the abbey of Darley had been erected and lands bestowed on it within those limits; and that they specially claimed tithes of the cultivated land called Abbotsflat, between Derby and the abbey on the west side of the Derwent, and of the tilled land within the field of Little Chester on the other side of the Derwent likewise known as Abbotsflat, and also of all that part of the pasture of Kings Mead that pertained to them. The canons of All Saints further protested that the Austin Canons of Darley obtruded themselves into their churches, where they celebrated mass, heard confessions, injoined penances, performed the rites of sepulture, and administered blessed bread, holy water, the Eucharist, and extreme unction, not only to their own servants, but to certain others. The archdeacon, associating with himself in the judgement the prior of Frideswide and John the Constable, decided most conclusively against the abbey, ordering the abbot and convent of Darley to make an annual payment of not less than one or more than two marks to the canons of All Saints in recompense for the loss they had sustained, and a further annual sum of 20s. to cover the cost of the suit. (fn. 5) From this document the interesting fact is first established that St. Alkmunds was the other collegiate church of Derby named in the Domesday Survey, and that it had by this time become united with All Saints.

In the following year Henry III addressed the bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, warning him not to collect the tithes of the prebendaries of All Saints, as Ralph de Bakepuze and John de Sutton had been by him appointed receivers, with the assent of the papal legate, and that 6 marks were to be paid by them into the treasury through the hands of the dean of Lincoln. In this document, as well as in the Patent Rolls of that reign, the dean of Lincoln is described as 'Persona hujus ecclesie pro se et canonicis libere capelle.' It was on the ground of All Saints being a free chapel that exemption from ordinary episcopal control and from the usual way of taxing emoluments was claimed. The expression 'Free Chapel' seems to have originally implied that the church thus designated stood on the royal demesne and was therefore free from wonted jurisdiction; but in later times it came to be applied in a wider sense to various chapels that were not subject to the mother-church of the parish within whose limits they stood.

The diocesan addressed on this occasion by Henry III was Roger de Weseham, who had been dean of Lincoln from 1239 to 1245 and was then consecrated bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. It seems likely that disputes, which about this time kept recurring as to jurisdiction over All Saints, were at least in part owing to the previous control that Roger de Weseham had exercised as dean, and which he was loth to part with when bishop. (fn. 6) On 13 April, 1263, Master Ralph de Strataforti, one of the canons of All Saints, had the honour of being made one of the chaplains of Urban IV. (fn. 7)

Henry III kept Easter 1267 at Derby, and finding that one of the prebends of All Saints, that had become vacant through the death of Elias de Heminbury, had remained unfilled for some time, he appointed one of his chaplains named Roger to the vacant stall in the quire, and to the seat in the chapter-house, with full possession of the prebendal farm attached thereto. Roger was instituted by proxy, his representative being a priest named Thomas de Thurgarton. The king having performed this semi-ecclesiastical function, sent word of the same to the dean of Lincoln by letters patent dated from Derby, wherein he addressed him as dean of Lincoln and of the chapel of All Saints at Derby. (fn. 8) It should be remembered in connexion with this incident, that the dean claimed the income of these various All Saints prebends during vacancy.

Edward I caused it to be formally put on record in 1278 that the church of All Saints was a free chapel of the king, exempt from all episcopal and archidiaconal jurisdiction, and immediately subject to the pope. (fn. 9) In the following year, he strenuously maintained the rights of All Saints as a royal free chapel, for when Jordan de Wynburn, archdeacon of Derby, claimed jurisdiction and, on resistance, excommunicated the ministers of the church, the king intervened, and by letters patent prohibited Master Oliver de Sutton, dean of Lincoln, and all the canons of the church (asserting that in this he followed the example of Henry III) from obeying the bishop and the archdeacon or their officials, claiming to exercise such jurisdiction. Further, as the king had heard that, on pretext of a contention of this kind touching the liberties of this free chapel, certain appeals (to Rome) had been lodged whereby prejudice might arise to the king, he prohibited the said archdeacon from setting on foot any such plaint or appeal without the realm. (fn. 10)

Bishop Longespée was not, however, content to obey the letters patent of the crown, and on his persistently attempting to interfere with the administration of All Saints, he was summoned at Michaelmas 1285 before the king's court at Winchester, for presuming there to exercise his ordinary jurisdiction to the prejudice and contempt of the king, and of the apostolic see, and in direct defiance of the royal inhibition. The dean of Lincoln, who appeared in person, complained that Robert de Redeswell and two other clerks of the bishop had cited Roger and Thomas, chaplains, and Robert, deacon of the church of All Saints, and other vicars and ministers of the same church to render due obedience to the bishop. The bishop, who appeared by attorney, not only contended that All Saints was within his jurisdiction and sought judgement in his favour, but also raised the point whether the question of his jurisdiction could be argued in the king's court. The objection was overruled, and the dean then produced proof that All Saints had been exempt from diocesan control from time immemorial; that when any prebend was vacant he instituted to it; that he held visitations there; and that he was the ordinary for the correction of abuses. The jury found that the bishop and his predecessors (instancing Alexander Stavenby, 1224-40) had always had certain jurisdiction within All Saints, such as the holding there of ordinations, the taking of synodals and the exercising discipline over the chaplains, clergy, and parishioners; but that the dean of Lincoln had the power of collating the prebendaries or canons, and instituting whomsoever he wished without any presentation to the bishop. (fn. 11)

Neither bishop nor king appears to have been satisfied with this mixed verdict; for when Edward was at Lincoln in 1288, he again issued letters to Longespée prohibiting his interference with All Saints and its dependent chapels, and warning him against holding visitations therein; the latter being a point that was left somewhat vague in the Winchester decision. However, at Easter 1292 the matter seems to have been definitely arranged for the time being, as a composition was then entered into between the king and the bishop to the effect that the latter was definitely excluded from all visitation powers within the whole of the royal free chapels of the diocese, which in addition to All Saints, Derby, included those of St. Mary, Stafford, Penkridge, Tattenhall, and one or two others. (fn. 12)

The decision of 1288, as amplified and confirmed by the composition of 1292, was carried out with good faith for about ninety years, but the dispute broke out again both in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There is not a single institution to All Saints or to the subject church of St. Alkmunds to be found in the whole of the pre-Reformation diocesan registers; but there are several instances of bishops holding ordinations within its walls. In the earliest volume, that of Bishop Walter de Langton, there are two such instances, in both of which John Halton, bishop of Carlisle, acted for the diocesan. The bishop of Carlisle, having a palace at Melbourne, Derbyshire, not infrequently acted as suffragan for Lichfield. The first of these ordinations was held at All Saints in December 1301, when the bishop of Carlisle admitted sixty-four candidates to the subdiaconate, diaconate, and priesthood. (fn. 13) In September of the following year there was again an ordination at All Saints, when the same bishop admitted 139 candidates to the three grades of the sacerdotal office.

In 1269 the conjoint value of the prebends of All Saints was returned at 60 marks. (fn. 14)

The Taxation Roll of 1291 gives the annual value of the prebendal church of All Saints at £25 6s. 8d., and the dean of Lincoln was further accredited at the same time with lands and rents at Little Chester, Little Eaton, and Quarndon of the united annual value of £17 14s. 8d. An account of the decanal property in 1329, when Anthony Beck entered upon the deanery, estimated the annual value of his estates, as dean of All Saints, at the considerable sum of £30 7s. 4d. The water mill at Little Eaton brought in 30s., the quarry at Little Eaton 6s. 8d., and fisheries at Little Chester and Little Eaton £1 7s. The income of the dean of Lincoln was at that time an enormous one, and quite outstripped that of several of the bishops; his total receipts in 1329 were £469 7s. 6d., which would represent a sum of over £10,000 according to the present value of money. (fn. 15)

The rights of free warren, and other manorial privileges over the manors of Quarndon, Little Eaton, and Little Chester, as held by the deans of Lincoln, were resisted in the beginning of the reign of Edward III; but they were effectually defended by Anthony Beck, who proved that they had been granted to his predecessor Philip de Willoughby, who was dean from 1289 to 1305. (fn. 16) The way in which the deans of Lincoln eventually lost their rights of free warren, &c., over these and then other Derbyshire manors in the time of Richard II is not a little curious. The dean, in his manorial courts in 1384, punished offenders against the statute regulating the price and quality of bread and ale (51 Hen. III) by fines, whereas the proper punishment was the non-lucrative one of pillory or tumbrel. The imposing of fines was held to be an infringement of the royal courts, and the dean consequently forfeited his various manorial rights, including the valuable one of free warren. (fn. 17) It may here be mentioned that the manorial rights and certain estates held by the dean of Lincoln as part of the emoluments pertaining to the prebendal church of All Saints afford proof positive that this collegiate church was the successor to the united property of the two churches on the royal demesne in the Confessor's days, namely, All Saints and St. Alkmunds, which seem to have coalesced at least as early as the middle of the twelfth century. St. Alkmunds, to which parish Little Eaton still pertains, seems to have been granted soon after the Conquest to the canons of All Saints as a tributary church, and was served by them and their vicars, losing its own distinctive rights.

Towards the end of the thirteenth century Thomas de Baliol, the pope's penitentiary, wrote to the bishop of Candida Casa (Withern in Galloway) asking him not to remain at Chester taking his ease whilst matters were waiting for him as bishop. He asked him, inter alia, to be sure to be at All Saints, Derby, to take the Ember-tide ordination at the end of Lent. (fn. 18) This probably came about through the frequent absence of Bishop Longespée, of Coventry and Lichfield, on the continent. A mandate of Peckham, archbishop of Canterbury of 1282, ordered him to reside within his diocese.

The canons of All Saints, save the sub-dean, seem to have been often non-resident from the thirteenth century onwards; their places being taken by vicars. John de Brantingham, who held a prebend of All Saints, value 5 marks a year, and the rectory of Askeby, worth 20 marks annually, was empowered by Pope John XXII in June, 1318, to hold with this canonry the rectory of Huggate in York diocese, which was worth £40 per annum. (fn. 19) Richard de Barwe, the queen's chaplain, obtained permission from Pope John XXII in June, 1329, to hold a canonry of All Saints, Derby, although he then held a canonry of St. Mary's, Warwick, and was also rector of Chiltington, in Chichester diocese. (fn. 20)

The dean of Lincoln in 1342 had bestowed canonries in this church on two of his nephews, one resident in the diocese of Norwich and the other a student in Bologna. (fn. 21) In 1341, when Henry de Chaddesden obtained the archdeaconry of Leicester, he was already holding prebends in Lincoln, London, and All Saints, Derby. (fn. 22) The pope, Boniface IX, in 1391 made provision to John Benyngton, of the prebend and canonry of 'Stononprovyndyr' in All Saints, Derby, worth 15 marks, void and reserved to the pope by the death of Thomas Palmer at the apostolic see, 'notwithstanding that he holds a perpetual benefice called a chantry, worth 8 marks, in the said church.' (fn. 23)

On 12 June, 1380, prohibition was issued by the crown of all archbishops and other ecclesiastics, and of John de Bircheover, clerk, in particular, from doing anything prejudicial to the king's right in his free chapel of All Saints, Derby, it being exempt from all ordinary jurisdiction. (fn. 24) On 24 June the sheriff of Derby, Henry de Brailsford, Oliver de Barton, Nicholas de Knyveton, and William Dethick were appointed to arrest and bring before the council all infringers of the king's rights in his free chapel of All Saints contrary to the statute of provisors. (fn. 25)

In the register of Bishop Boulers there is a memorandum of October, 1453, stating that Helias Tyllesley, of the priory (sic) of All Saints, Derby, appeared before the bishop and was examined as to the jurisdiction of the church. He said he knew well that the bishops of Coventry and Lichfield and their officials exercised jurisdiction there, except for four years in the time of William Heyworth (1420-47), when it was usurped by Master Mackworth, dean of Lincoln. Thereupon Helias received absolution from excommunication incurred by contumacy in not appearing before the bishop, and he took oath to do nothing against the jurisdiction of the bishop. He was adjured by the bishop to make confession of the same before the dean of Derby openly in the church of St. Peter. (fn. 26)

The Valor Ecclesiasticus of 1535 gives the clear annual value of the collegiate church at £38 14s. apart from the very considerable share held by the dean of Lincoln. The Easter offerings brought in an average of £6, the tithes of lambs and wool 10s., the tithes of corn and hay £18, the tithes of hemp, flax, pigs, and geese 20s., and the oblations on four yearly occasions, termed 'offering days,' 26s. 8d. This amount of £26 16s. 8d. was common for the whole college. The amounts definitely assigned to the seven prebends differed yearly. The sub-dean's prebend, which was at Little Chester, produced £3 6s. 8d.; that office was then vacant. Prebendary Thomas Lyllylow obtained £3, and the other prebendaries as follows:—Richard West 45s. 8d., William Browne 40s., and Nicholas Smyth, William Cokland, and Master Liderland 13s. 4d. each. In addition to these prebendaries, Henry Pott, chantry priest of Our Lady in this church, had a house and 4 marks a year from a separate endowment. The sub-dean also received an annual payment of £11 from Darley Abbey, according to an agreement made in the previous century between Roger Newton, abbot, and John Lawe, sub-dean; this payment was a composition for the tithes of grain on lands within the parishes of All Saints and St. Alkmunds held by the abbey.

The following is the Chantry Roll entry respecting this collegiate church and its chantries:—

College or Parsonage of All Hallowes in Derbie beyng the Kyngs ffre Chapell collegiated ther and founded by his progenitors. John Makeworth Deane of Lincolne made an ordinance Ao Dom. Miiijcxxxij that the mynysters shoulde daylye praye for the prosperous estate of the Kyng xxxviijli. xiijs clere value, xili. ixs. jd. to iii Prystes called curates, xvjli. eyther of them cvjs. viijd., to ij Prystes deacons iiijli., and j clerke deacon to eyther xxvijs. viijd., for wine wax breade and other charges in the quyre lx., and the residue xvijli. ixs. for the lyvyng of the Deane (subdean) and vj prebendaryes. It is a parishe churche where there is xvc houselynge people of whose sowles the subdean hath care and charge. It hath a mancyon comenly called the Colledge or Parsonage and is charged in the rental at xiiijs. iiijd. The jewels plate ornaments etc. be suche as have been ordeyned by the parishioners and mayntayned by the same to serve the Cure there.

The Chantrye of Our Lady founded by the deane of Lincolne liijs. iiijd. clere value ciijs. vjd. Thos. Rayner chauntry Pryste. Stock ljs. ijd.

The service founded by Will. Shore for a pryste at S. Nycholas alter iiijli. ijd. Stock lijs. vjd.

The Trynytye Guyde ordeyned by the Baylyffs and Burgesses of the Borowe for a pryst to saye mass att the Trynyte alter at v of the clock in the morning and to pray for the lyves and sowles of all the brothers andsysters of the guylde, and that all persons travalynge by the daye and all other inhabitants myght have masse. Clere viijli. xjs. ijd. Stock lxixs. iiijd.

The college was dissolved in the second year of Edward VI, and its estates sold to Thomas Smith and Henry Newsam for the sum of £346 13s. 4d. The rental of the collegiate house is given as 10s. The whole of the prebendal farms were situated in Little Chester. The farm of the prebendary lately held by Magister Ramsey, clerk, was then valued at 13s. 4d.; those of Magister Elien and William Taylor at a like sum each; that pertaining to Richard Weste at 46s. 8d.; that of Thomas Smyth at 60s.; that of John Wilkes at 40s.; and that farm called 'Le Subdeens' prebend or Stone prebend at 66s. 1d. Other rents pertaining to the dean at Little Chester were valued at 46s. 8d. The lead, bells, and advowson were to be excepted from this purchase. At the same time the tithes of grain of the town of Derby, that had belonged to the abbey of Darley, by agreement with All Saints, were sold to Robert Carre and John Almonde for £200, being at the rate of twenty years' purchase. Both these sums were handed over to the boy-king's council, and no provision was apparently made for the spiritual needs of the parishes of All Saints and St. Alkmunds. (fn. 27)

In addition to the lands, tenements, and rents attached to the different prebends of All Saints, which were confiscated at the dissolution of the college, there was also considerable property pertaining to the church that was held by the wardens for the repair of the fabric, which could not therefore be appropriated by the crown as involving any 'superstitious use.' (fn. 28) Of most of this property the parish gradually got rid, in its meaner days, to spare the rates.

The fine common seal of this church, circa 1300, was a pointed oval, bearing in the centre, seated under a canopy, a nimbed figure of the Deity, in a pointed quartrefoil above the three lions of England, and in base a small kneeling crowned figure of the royal founder. Legend:—


There was also a pointed oval seal of the fifteenth century bearing a representation of the Trinity in a Gothic niche, with heavy canopy and tabernacle work at sides. Legend:—

SIGILLV : COVE : ECCLE : ŌV : SCŌR : DERB'. (fn. 29)


  • 1. This account is in the main taken from the large quarto monograph on this church by Rev. Dr. Cox and Mr. St. John Hope, issued in 1881, with a few additions and corrections.
  • 2. Lincoln Chapter MSS. 'Reg. Antiquissimum,' fol. 6; also 'Chartularium Decani,' fol. 48. The copy of this charter in the Monasticon is somewhat incorrect; it is taken from Cott. MSS. Vesp. E. 16.
  • 3. This chartulary begins with Chesterfield and ends with Derby; the portion relative to All Saints extends over fols. 48–55.
  • 4. Cott. MSS. Titus, C. ix, fol. 55, 56, &c. The possibility of these deans of Derby having been subdeans or acting-deans of All Saints is named on p. 5 of the monograph on this church; but it is clearly untenable in the light of later knowledge.
  • 5. Darley Chartul. Cott. MS. Titus, C. ix, fol. 75, 76.
  • 6. Chart. Dec.
  • 7. Cal. Papal Let. i, 388.
  • 8. Chart. Dec.
  • 9. Pat. 6 Edw. I, m. 17.
  • 10. Pat. 7 Edw. I, m. 18.
  • 11. Placita, 13 & 14 Edw. I, m. 4.
  • 12. Chart. Dec. fol. 55.
  • 13. Lich. Epis. Reg. Langton, fol. 95b.
  • 14. Pegge, MSS. (Coll. of Arms), v.
  • 15. Ibid. iii, 196.
  • 16. Plac. de Quo War. (Rec. Com.), 161; a transcript of the original grant of free warren at Little Eaton to Dean Willoughby is in the Chart. Dec. fol. 48.
  • 17. Pat. 8 Ric. II, pt. 2, m. 36.
  • 18. Hist. MSS. Com. Rep. iv, 393.
  • 19. Cal. Papal Let. ii, 176.
  • 20. Ibid. ii, 292.
  • 21. Ibid. i, 1013.
  • 22. Ibid. 133.
  • 23. Cal. Papal Let. iv, 418.
  • 24. Pat. 3 Ric. II, pt. 3, m. 10d.
  • 25. Pat. 4 Ric. II, pt. I, m. 40d.
  • 26. Lich. Epis. Reg. Boulers, fol. 55.
  • 27. Aug. Off. Misc. Bks. vol. lxii, fol. 72, 90.
  • 28. All this is set forth at length in Cox and Hope, All Saints, ch. ii.
  • 29. B.M. lxi, 42.