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VICAR OF s. Luke's, leek, 








26, ST. George's place, hyde park corner, s.w. 
BRIGHTON : 135 north street. 






H^iitox^ of tf)e J3iocf£(e 





This little book is not so much a personal history of 
the bishops, or a chronicle of the Cathedral of Lich- 
field, as an attempt to trace the course of religion in 
the diocese, and to show the various phases of feeling 
and the different classes of institutions in which it 
has blossomed forth from age to age. Materials for 
the work are remarkably scanty. The diocese has no 
great chronicle written within its borders, except that 
of Burton Abbey, though those of Bede, Ordericus 
Vitalis, and AValter of Coventry, are local in their 
sympathy. Our sketches of the Norman bishops 
have been largely drawn from fragmentary notices 
scattered through the public rolls, and, as such, are 
themselves fragmentary. The monks of Coventry 
have told their tale about the election struggles of 
the thirteenth century ; whilst, for the later mediaeval 
period, we have found a large body of manuscript 
notes on the Diocesan Registers, by Bishop Hobhouse, 
of great service. But we have followed as far as we 
could the main stream of history as handed down in 
the Lichfield Chronicles, begun by Thomas of Ches- 
terfield (1450), continued by William Whitelock 
(1560), and completed to 1794 by Samuel Pegge and 


Stebbing Shaw. And on all periods the precious 
collections bequeathed to the county of Stafford by 
the late William Salt, not less than the learning and 
courtesy of Mr. de Mazzinghi, the librarian in charge 
of them, have been found most useful. We venture, 
indeed, to hope that, as far as the Registers of the 
Diocese and the Salt Collections are concerned, this 
little book may be a helpful guide to subsequent 
labourers in the same field of research. The facts 
which it contains have, for the most part, never before 
been brought into the light of modern print out of the 
dust and darkness which settled down on their own 

The History of the Diocese of Chester, from its 
foundation in 1541, is to be told in a separate volume, 
which will, we hope, include some notice of the 
peculiar glories of the Abbey of St. Werburgh and its 
remarkable chronicler, Higden. 




Traces of Celtic Life and Religion — Roman Towns — Con- 
version to Christianity — Early Christian Settlements 
— Lichfield — Chester Pct'S'^ i 


Overthrow of Saxon Heathenism — The First Bishops 



St. Chad — Division of the Diocese of Mercia — Ancient 

Monasteries — Saints and Hermits 21 




Ecclesiastical Reunion of Mercia — Political Unification of 

England Page 32 


Wreck of Previous Institutions — The New Monasticism 40 



Removal of the Bishop's Seat to Chester and Coventry — 

Foundation of Monasteries 50 



The Soldier Bishop — Norman Institutions brought into 
Lichfield, Prebendaries Established, Cathedral Re- 
built, City Walled — Stern Reforms, the Cistercians — 
Free Churches — Durdent — Leper Hospitals — Peche, 
the Younger — La Pucelle 6j 




Election Quarrels^ Strife between Bishops and Monks — 
Remodelling of the Cathedral Fabric — A Traitor 
Bishop — Wolverhampton Pa-ge 78 



Early Coming of the Friars to Lichfield — A Friar Bishop 

— Chantries 94 



Burton — Chester — Coventry — Darley, &c 103 




Patteshull — The Pope spies an Opportunity — Clumsy 
Policy of Henry III. — Another Friar Bishop — The 
"Wild Soldier Bishop no 




Pas[e 122 



Acts of Bishop Norbury — Building of the Three Spires — 
The Black Death — Contents of the Cathedral in 1346 
— Thomas of Chesterfield 134 



Some Papal Aggressions — Reformers — William Thorpe — 
Desolation and Decline in Religious Houses — Bishop 
Heyworth — Change of Feeling towards Monasteries 
— Foundation of Manchester Collegiate Church — 
Anchorites 148 



Bishop Butler as a Specimen of Later Medisevalism — 
Wars of the Roses — The Lords Marchers— Preaching 
— Bishop Blythe — Burns a Lollard 165 




Bishop Lee and his Noble and Ignoble Deeds — Return to 
Older Type of Christianity — Sketch of the Minsters 
on the Edge of the Storm which destroyed so many of 
them Page 182 



Inquiry into the State of Religious Houses — Proposal for a 
See of Shrewsbury — Glimpses of Means employed to 
Dissolve Abbeys and Friaries — Sales of Goods — 
Wreck of Country Chapels — Foundation of Chester 
See 197 


Some Fruits of the Reformation 214 



Grammar Schools —Literary Bishops and Deans — State of 
the Diocese — Schools — Poverty of Clergy — Church 


Sports, Ales, and Plays — Rise of the Roman Catholic 
Sect — Controversy between New Roman Catholics 
and Old Churchmen Po^S^ 220 



Cireat Literary Bishops — They write whilst the Laity read — 
Roman Pretended Miracles — The Bishop of Lichfield 
sent to the Tower 229 



The Outbreak of the Great Rebellion — How Lichfield 
Cathedral fared — Sufferings of the Clergy — Some 
Good Features of the Anarchy — Boscobel 236 



Ejection of Intruding Clergy — Bishop Racket's Re- 
building of the Cathedral Ruins — The Great Plague — 
The Worst Bishop who ever ruled Lichfield — Quaker 
Troubles — The Revolution — Reaction from it — 
Sacheverell —Jacobin Riots 244 




How the Church vanquished the Deists — Wesleyanism — 
Aristocratic Bishops — The Church Asleep — Popula- 
tion lost — Difficulties of Church-building P<^g^ 260 



Ryder — Church-building — Church Reforms — Lonsdale — 

Selwyn — Work Achieved 276 




Traces of Celtic Life and Religion— Roman Towns— Conver- 
sion to Christianity —Early Christian Settlements— Lich- 
field — Chester. 

The diocese of Lichfield consists of the counties of 
Derby, Stafford, part of Salop, and a parish in Flint- 
shire. Until 1836 it included South Warwickshire ; 
before the Reformation, Cheshire also, and Lancashire 
south of the Ribble, were parts of it. But in the days 
of Saint Chad, and for some years before and after 
him, the bishops of Lichfield were bishops of all the 
kingdom of Mercia, which stretched from the Humber 
and Lincolnshire on the east, to Gloucestershire and 
the Wye on the west ; and southwards, almost to 
London. Thus Lichfield is the Mother diocese from 
which, at different times, no less than eleven dioceses 
have been thrown off, namely, — Hereford, Worcester, 
Lincoln, Ely, Peterboro', Chester, Manchester, Liver- 
pool, Gloucester, and parts of Oxford and St. Alban's. 
The following pages are devoted to a survey of the 
religious history of the area which was included in 
the diocese from the seventh century to the Reforma- 



tion, comprising Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire, 
South Lancashire, South Warwickshire, and Eastern 

The three features of this part of Mercia — peak, 
forest, and river — greatly influenced the habits of 
its early inhabitants. The river-valleys seem to have 
been first occupied ; then, as wave after wave of in- 
vaders came surging up them, the older races were 
forced forwards and upwards into the forests and hills. 
So, when the Gospel was first preached here, in the 
days of the Roman occupation, the uplands of Stafford- 
shire and Lancashire were inhabited by remnants of 
the Celtic race, who practised Druidism, and the rich 
valleys of the Trent, Mersey, and Dee, by a mixed 
population, who had adopted a smattering of Roman 

On a bleak and spreading moor of the Peak of 
Derbyshire, not far from Hartington, and between 
Buxton and Ashburne, stands one of the most 
striking of the many monuments which the highland 
Celts left behind them. A circular platform, 167 feet 
in diameter, is enclosed by a ditch 18 feet wide, and 
an outer bank of from 18 to 24 feet in height. Its 
gateways open north and south. Within the circle lie 
thirty to forty large stones, which may once have stood 
upright. In the centre are three larger stones, which 
may have formed a cist, or chest. And near the south 
entrance is a large barrow, which, like a neighbouring 
barrow, w^as found to contain the relics of very ancient 
interments, — ashes and urns, of " the Bronze Age." 

The wild old hills of our diocese shelter in their 
bosoms many traces, both of the habitations and 


the death struggles of the older Celtic races. A 
Roman altar is preserved at Haddon Hall, bearing 
the name of the Cohors Prima Aquitanorum of 
the time of Hadrian (a.d. ii8). Haddon, as 
every tourist knows, lies on the edge of the moors. 
Perhaps the Cohort stationed there, and another 
which was settled twenty years later at Melandra 
Castle near Glossop, were protecting the working of 
the lead-mines near Chesterfield and Wirksworth. In 
the year 1777, a pig^ of lead, bearing a stamp of 
Hadrian's time, was dug up near Cromford. And at 
this very time, the time of Hadrian, as shown by 
excavations made by the late Mr. Carrington, Britons 
were living in the limestone caves near Dovedale, 
perhaps driven thither by undying hostility to the 

What happened among the Celts dwelling in the 
hills of Derbyshire and the moorlands, happened also 
among the similar highlanders of the Longmynd and 
Wrekin country. A long and terrible struggle took 
place before the Ordovices, a brave Shropshire tribe, 
were subdued. Almost exactly 1,800 years ago, they 
surprised the Romans, and entirely destroyed a troop 
of cavalry. The insurrection was joined by other 
Britons, but was savagely crushed by Julius Agricola, 
who nearly extinguished the offending tribe. 

Once in possession of the Shropshire hills, the 
Romans began to work the lead-mines there, as they 
did those of the hills of Derbyshire, on the other side 
of our field of observation. Specimens of Hadrian's 
pigs of lead have often been found in Shropshire. 

Chester, or Deva, "the City of Legions," was the 
B 2 


chief Roman town in this neighbourhood, and was 
the head-quarters of a Roman legion. Roads ran 
thence eastwardly towards Mancunium (Manchester), 
another important station, and southwardly towards 
Uriconiiwi (Wroxeter), joining there the great Wat- 
ling Street. The Watling Street, on its course across 
the land, ran through the south of the diocese, 
passing Uxaconium (Oakengates), Pennocnicciicm 
(Stretton, or Penkridge), and Etocetum (or Wall), near 
Lichfield. Before the road left Staffordshire on the 
London side, a great branch^ struck out towards 
Derbyshire, running past a military station in a 
loop of the Trent, near Burton, on to Little 
Chester, close to the site of later Derby, and then 
away north, both for the mines around Liitudarinn 
(now Chesterfield), and for the magnificent baths at 
Aqiice (Buxton). 2 Military stations at Wall and Penk- 
ridge probably kept watch on the fierce Celts in 
Cannock Chase and South Staffordshire ; and others 
at Newcastle, Uttoxeter, Parwich, Haddon, Brough 
(near Castleton) and Glossop, seem to have hemmed 
in or dominated the equally desperate patriots of the 

Many traces of this Roman occupation are still to 
be found. An inscription till lately remained at 
Melandra Castle, near Glossop, giving the name of 

' The Rykneld or Rycknield Street. Dr. Pegge, the Rector of 
Whittington, Derbyshire, and Canon of Lichfield, a -ivell-known 
antiquary of the last century, observed and proved the character 
of this road, along which he constantly travelled. See Lyson's 
" Derbyshire," ccx. 

' For a description of the Roman Baths at Buxton and the 
seven roads radiating thence, see "Reliquary," iii., 207. 


the Cohort stationed there in a.d. 98. The baths 
used by them at Buxton are not entirely swept away. 
A milestone was lately found on a Derbyshire moor. 
The road from Derby to Shrewsbury still shows the 
straight stretches of its ancient track. The land about 
Wall, near Lichfield, has signs of rich archaeological 
treasures yet to be found in it. But the most interesting 
city of all — Wroxeter, has yielded so much to the 
diligent spade of the late Thomas Wright, M.A., F.S.xA.., 
that we can in fancy almost rebuild it. Its paved 
streets, its houses gaily painted inside and out, with 
their tiled roofs, glazed windows, and exquisite tesse- 
lated pavements ; its market-hall, surrounded with 
little bazaars ; its basilika, with three aisles ; its 
splendid public baths ; its many rooms for generating 
house- warmth ; its cemetery ; its coins, and much 
beside, — though but a very small part of what lies 
buried beneath the uneven fields of that lonely village 
on the banks of the Severn, — all tell of a great city, 
which was once full of civilised life. Such traces are 
of importance to our present subject. The preachers 
of the Gospel first came to towns as centres of popu- 
lation, and in them the Gospel lamp shone brightly 
long before its rays reached the open country. 

But was Uriconium ever Christian ? Mr. Wright 
thought not. Bingham tells us that the Christians 
always buried, never burnt, their dead. The ceme- 
tery at Uriconium has been found ; ^ large numbers 
of urns and sepulchral inscriptions have appeared, 

' A Roman cemetery at King's Newton, near Melbourne, 
Derby, was discovered some years ago, and resembles that of 


but none record Christian hope. Nor was there a 
single grave in which lay a body unburnt.^ The 
urns lie in rows, and, in some cases, it is plain that 
cremation was performed in the excavation intended 
for the grave. Curiously, lamps and little glass bottles 
for "tears "or unguents often accompany the urns; 
but only in two instances has the coin been exhumed 
which was usually buried with the ashes to pay the 
fare of Charon's boat, and these are coins of Trajan 
(a.d. 98-117), and Hadrian (a.d. 11 7-138). Only two 
of many heathen gravestones mention the gods. It 
would appear, therefore, that religion of any sort was 
fast dying out of this part of England when the Gospel 
came to it. Nevertheless, the name of Christ was 
not unknown in Uriconium. Coins in abundance, 
charged with the sacred monogram and the labarum 
(the sacred banner of the cross, seen in the heavens 
by Constantine), have been dug up, ranging in date 
from the first Christian emperor, Constantine himself 
(a.d. 305-306), down to Gratian (a.d. 375-381). All 
of them, however, are fresh and crisp from the mint, 
as though they had not long been in use. 

The great and godless city came to a bad end. 
Dense obscurity envelopes its fate. Traces of fierce 
fire in every part show what the final agent of destruc- 
tion was. And skeletons — an old man hidden with 

^ Near Burton-on-Trent, at Stretton, Roman interments were 
found in 1881, showing the transition from paganism to Chris- 
tianity. Among urns, &c., lay a full-length skeleton, with a 
metal cross on its breast. Nearly forty more skeletons were 
discovered in 18S3. A similar interment was found some years 
ago at Little Chester, near Derby, which is an undoubted 
Roman settlement. Pegge called it boldly Derventio. 


his money-box in a hypocaust under the baths ; a 
mother lying dead not far from her abandoned baby ; 
a group of women overtaken and butchered as they 
huddled together in the back yard of a house — 
indicate that the city was sacked and then burnt by 
soldiery, after the destruction, or in the absence, of 
its male defenders. 

In the darkness which besets the fate of Uriconium, 
the adjacent Roman towns disappear. Then, too, 
events must have happened which stained the site of 
modern Lichfield with the title Licid-field, a name 
which is preserved for us in Bede, and which may, 
perhaps, be best Englished as " Dead Men's Field " ; 
for, when the light of history next falls on this part 
of our diocese, Uriconium is but an overgrown ruin, 
so haunted, in the imagination of the new Saxon 
invaders, by the ghosts and goblins of its former 
inhabitants, that no man would pass through it ; and 
Licid-field, the blood-stained plot which " derived 
its name from war," shared its lonely silence only 
with the dreaded water-nixie and the croaking lich- 

' John Rous of Warwick, a herald of Edward IV. 's time, 
seems to have been the first writer of the legend of the massacre 
of Christians at Lichfield under Diocletian. As much as 200 
years ago, Dr. Plot searched in vain for the MS. in which 
Rous was supposed to have made his statement. The deriva- 
tion of the word Lichfield which we follow is that which Warton 
gives, " ^Jf Archivis Ecclesicz Lichfeldensis" viz., " Civitas 
Lichfeldensis olim ex bello Liches nominata fuit " (i. 459), a 
derivation which may somewhat strain etymology, but which is 
more firmly supported by history and authority than the other 
which makes Lichfield=Lakefield. Licid-field is King Alfred's 
version of Bede's " Lyccidfelth" 


Whilst, then, it seems probable that the religion 
of the older tribes in the hills passed, by conversion, 
into Christianity, and so remained, it is also likely^ 
that the richer and newer people of the plain had 
lapsed into utter scepticism when the Saxons fell upon 
them. But a pleasing exception is to be found at 
Darley Dale, in Derbyshire. The church there stands 
upon the site of a Roman villa, part of the floor of 
which remains. This was doubtless the spot upon 
which the Romano-Britons of the neighbourhood first 
learned to assemble for the worship of the Redeemer, 
and on it rose the church. A yew-tree, supposed to be 
2,000 years old, still flourishes in the churchyard. 

But where were the Christians of Uriconium? Such 
there surely must have been. A glance at the neigh- 
bourhood of Chester will perhaps help us to answer 
the question. But, first, of Shrewsbury. 

It is said by the celebrated antiquary, Leland, that 
when Uriconium was destroyed a remnant of the 
inhabitants fled over the Severn into the woods. 
Lighting on a spot where that noble river almost 
encircles a rocky promontory, they fixed their abode. 
The place was pleasant and peaceable, hence its name 
of Aniwyddig^ or Imwyddig, the delightful. They had 
reached it by a tedious path through scrub and brush- 
wood ; hence it was also called Pengwyr7i^ " head of 
the alders or willouis^'' and in later days Shrewsbury^ 
the " to7vn of trees.^'' Whether the ancient British 
Church, which had been already planted among the 

' See page 6. 

''■ No Saxon relics have been found at "Wroxeter ; no Roman 
ones at Shrewsbury. 


Ordovices, absorbed and converted the infidel fugi- 
tives, there is no record. But, since the Saxons were 
kept at bay until the days of Offa, we are sure that 
English heathenism never blasted Salop. 

Two traditional facts throw light on this period. 
By so good an authority as the late Robert Evans of 
Cambridge,^ it was thought probable that St. Augus- 
tine of Canterbury made a tour up the Severn 
valley, only, however, to find the district already 
Christian. At Cressage he preached under a tree, 
" Christ's oak," from which some think the village 
took its name, and which still stands. iVt Clive he 
found a little wooden church, which survived him to 
modern times. 

The second fact is well known. Just outside the 
north-east corner of the county of Salop, the Bishop of 
Lichfield has still charge of Penley, a parish in Flint- 
shire, adjoining Banchor, or Bangor Iscoed. Bangor 
was itself within the diocese of Coventry and Lich- 
field before the Reformation, and in that of Chester 
till 1836. It is well known as having been the seat 
of the most famous of the British monasteries. The 
name Iscoed, or "under-the-wood," tells of the sylvan 
character of the ancient district of Chester, which 
stretched thence in a northward direction as far as 
the river Ribble. The college, or monastic body of 
Bangor, has been supposed to have been at first a 
company of converted Britons. It was very likely a 
settlement into which converts to the Gospel were 
gathered for mutual support out of the terrible pollu- 

' Often said by him to Canon Lloyd of Shrewsbury. 


tions of surrounding heathenism. But we have no 
authentic record of its existence until the coming of 
the Saxons. They found here no less than 2,100 
monks. No traces of the monastery now remain; 
but in William of Malmesbury's time, 600 years 
ago, the site was marked by "so many ruinous 
churches, and such heaps of rubbish, as were scarcely 
seen elsewhere." When Leland visited it, 350 years 
ago, it was all " ploughed ground where the abbey 
was, by the space of a good Walsche mile, and they 
plough up bones of the monks ; and, in remembrance, 
were digged up pieces of their clothes in sepulchre." 

If, therefore, we may judge of pre-Saxon Cheshire 
by the condition of Romano-British Christianity in the 
Salop and Stafford lowlands, it seems likely, as hinted 
above, that this vast company of Christians was a sort 
of spiritual oasis in the midst of a desert — a Christian 
colony, surrounded by a sparse population which had 
lost faith in heathenism, and had not yet made up 
its mind as to Christianity. The monks lived to- 
gether in seven classes of three hundred each. Dinooth, 
Dunod, or Dunawd,^ their ruler, seems to have been 
at once mayor, abbot, and patriarch. He was one of 
the speakers at Augustine's Oak, where, if Geoffrey 
of Monmouth is to be believed, he told the great 
Roman missionary that the British Church owed no 
allegiance to the Pope, and would yield none.^ 

The part played by so large an organisation of 
Christians under a ruler like Dunod might have been 
great in the religious revival which, a little later, 

' A Welsh form of Donatus. 

' Bede II. 2., Geoffry of Monmouth, bk. ix., chap. 12. 


blessed the remnant of the British Church. But a 
crushing blow fell upon it about the year 613. 

Chester then lay in the heart of a British confedera- 
tion, which stretched from Scotland to Bristol. Ethel- 
frith, king of Saxon Northumbria, who had pressed the 
Britons hard in the north, determined to attack the 
middle of this chain of states, in the hope of cutting 
them asunder. Avoiding, therefore, the Peak-land, he 
swept down upon Chester. The Christian colony fasted 
for three days, and then sent its monks forth to support 
their armed fellow-countrymen with their prayers. The 
ruthless invader saw their wild gestures as they stood 
apart from the host, and put them first to the sword. 

The battle of Chester decided more than the fate 
of Bangor monastery. Henceforth the Britons rapidly 
gave way to the conquerors, and Christianity in 
Cheshire and South Lancashire was almost extin- 
guished, until the days of St. Chad. 

The fate of the Christian colony outside Chester 
reflects light on Lichfield. Is it not likely that Chris- 
tians had been massed here for mutual protection and 
support amid the heathenism of ancient South Stafford- 
shire ? Is it altogether unlikely that such a settlement 
should have been contemptuously dubbed * Dead 
Men's Plot,' from the fact that the Christians rather 
buried than burnt their dead? And was not this 
dismal title intensified and perpetuated by a slaughter 
of Christians here by the invading Saxons, such as 
took place at Banchor Iscoed ? Such a supposition 
accounts both for the ancient legends and arms of 
Lichfield city, and for the choice of that spot as a 
residence by St. Chad. 




Overthrow of Saxon Heathenism — The First Bishops. 

The terrific struggles in which the invading Saxons 
overthrew the great Romano-British civilisation which 
flourished on the banks of the Trent and Derwent, 
and stretched away westwardly to the Severn, have 
left no story behind them, except such as may perhaps 
be read in existing traces of encampments and place 
names. Coming along the Fosse Way, and up the 
Trent from the east, the tide of invasion would seem 
to have met and overwhelmed considerable opposition 
at or near Lichfield. It was then turned north by the 
wild lands and tangled scrub, and perhaps wilder 
inhabitants, of Cannock Chase. A line of forts^ — 
Castle Ring, near Beaudesert ; Bury Ring, at Stafford ; 
Bury Bank, at Stone ; and Camp Hills, near Maer — 
confined the invaders to the Trent and Churnet val- 
leys. Advancing up both these, their forces would 
seem to have joined each other at Rudyard, near 
Leek, and to have dislodged a great body of Britons 
from intrenchments at the top of Gun or Dun Hill, 
where the earthworks and names of adjacent lanes 

' The late Mr. Molyneux, F.G. S., of Branston, near Burton- 
on-Trent, did much to bring these into notice. Earthworks 


and farmsteads still speak of a sanguinary contest.^ 
The wreck of the defenders escaped probably thence 
into Cheshire, down the narrow ravine of the Dane, 
and the rage of invasion may have died out, so far as 
the upper Trent was concerned, in the broad valley of 
the " Frith," which forms the gateway to the higher 
and more barren hills where then dwelt a remnant of 
the older Celtic races, too poor to be robbed and too 
patriotic to be overcome. 

How long the land west of Cannock Chase and the 
Trent was held by the British, we cannot tell. But 
it is significant that a line of Saxon forts arose oppo- 
site the forts of the Britons. Tamworth kept watch 
on Cannock, Stafford on Bury Ring, and Stone on 
Bury Bank. 

The irreligion which had previously marked the 
Romano-Britons of South Derbyshire and Staffordshire 
lingered with the Saxons, their successors. The 
Christian settlements at Lichfield and Banchor had been 
stamped out. Whatever Christianity there was in the 
hills, and beyond their western frontier, the attitude 
of its professors was one of deadly hate and bitter 
hostility towards the invaders. While the one side 
burned in the merciless greed of conquest, the other 
maddened in the anguish of a struggle for very life. 
So time went on. Three Saxon kings ruled over 
Mercia, which included the Middle Angles, south of 

1 "Brundock," "Lock-gate," "Savage Heys," "Hostage 
Lane," " Hung-rills," or " Hungryhills." Traces of battle are 
ploughed up in Savage Heys. The valley, which abounds in 
Celtic traces, afterwards became the home domain of Dieu la 
Cres Abbey. 


the Trent, and the Mercians proper, on the north of 
it. What the nation became in that time is, perhaps, 
well shown by the character of Penda the Strong, its 
fourth king. " He was not baptised," says Nennius of 
him, "and never believed in God."^ But he was 
brave, energetic, and successful in war. Five kings 
had been slaughtered by him. He was, says Henry 
of Huntingdon, 

" Fierce as a wolf by hunger render'd bold " j 
relentless in the pursuit of conquest, and, we fear, 
unsparing towards his captives. 

The people, it would seem, were like their prince. 
They squatted like ghouls amid the ruins of the old 
Romano-British villages and towns. They were 
heathen if anything ; and their long opposition to the 
Gospel entailed upon them an utter absence of the 
arts and literature, ^ Brave and great as may have been 
their deeds, we know nothing of them except what the 
writers of other and Christian kingdoms have told us. 

But, whilst the condition of Mercia was thus dark, 
a better day was about to dawn. Already Northum- 
bria had listened to the preaching of men sent to it 
j7 from Ireland, which again had been converted by 
Patrick, probably a native of Britain ; ^ and in the 
year 653 the British bishop, Finan, was ruling the 
Northumbrian Church. Oswiu or Oswy, son of the / 
saintly Oswald whom Penda had slain, was then king. 
His son Alchfrid had married one of King Penda's 
.daughters ; and in 652 the hand of his own daughter 
was sought by Peada, son of Penda, who had been 

' Sec. 65. ^ " Lappenberg," i., 221. 

' Giraldus Cambrensis, Top. Ireland, xxii. 


admitted by his father into the government of the 
Middle Angles. 

Tliere was something very beautiful in the earnest 
piety of the Northumbrian court. The young suitor 
was received with kindness. ^ The princess was pro- 
mised to him on condition that his people became 
Christians, and her brother Alchfrid undertook to 
teach him. So well did Alchfrid explain the glorious 
hopes and truths of the Gospel, that Peada was 
greatly affected. " I would be a Christian," he said, 
" even if I might not have the virgin." 

Bishop Finan baptised the young king and all his 
attendants in 652, thus admitting them into fellowship 
;^ with the ancient British Church. And when Peada 
came home he brought with him four presbyters of 
the same old Church— Cedda, brother of St. Chad, 
and afterwards bishop of London ; Adda, Betti, and 
Diuma. They preached round Leicester, and as 
far north as Repton ; sometimes they even crossed 
the Trent into Staffordshire and the Peak, Nor did 
the old king, Penda, oppose them. His subjects might, 
for aught he cared, become Christian ; he only 
despised the poor half-hearted creatures who did not 
heartily serve the God whom they believed. 

But Penda's day was fast waning. In the autumn 
of the year 655, he gathered his pagans for a last 
assault upon Christian Northumbria. Thirty legions, 
and as many thanes, followed his banner to the 
north ; Oswy had but one. The armies met at 
Wingfield, near Leeds ; and in the utter rout which 

• See " History of Durham " in this series of Diocesan His- 
tories for other details. 


ensued Penda and paganism fell togetlier. There- 
upon Oswy became over-lord of Mercia, having Peada 
as under-governor on the south of the Trent. 

Meantime, the four priests, in close union with 
their king, worked well. The field was ripe for harvest. 
The Gospel rapidly spread among the 5,000 families of 
Middle Anglia.^ Those of Mercia proper, consisting 
of some 7,000 families, in Staffordshire, Derbyshire, 
and elsewhere north of the Trent, also showed signs 
of longing for it; and between the conquest of Penda, 
November 15, 655, and the murder of Peada, which 
happened about Easter, 656, Diuma, (656-658), with 
the joint consent of Oswy and Peada, was made 
bishop of the whole Mercian district. His see stretched 
from the Lindiswaras in Lincolnshire, over the rich 
plains of Mercia and Middle Anglia, to the dense 
forests of the Hwiccas along the Severn and the 
Wye. The new bishop was a wandering missionary. 
He had no cathedral, and no sedes. He and his 
immediate successors were content, says Wharton, 
"to live the life of the monastery"; that is, they 
followed the plan afterwards, to some extent, pursued 
by Bishops Sehvyn and Patteson. They gathered 
their converts, both male and female, into com- 
munities, over which they, or trusty persons under 
them, ruled in a fatherly way. Repton seems to 
have been the chief centre of this kind of work, and 
the place in which, at the end of his brief episcopate 
of two years, Diuma was buried. 

Diuma was, both by birth and episcopal succession, 

* Florence of Worcester, on year 653. Henry of Huntingdon, 
bk. ii. 


an Irish missionary. He came back to the land of 
his fathers as a stranger, and the brevity of his life 
seems to bear testimony to the biting toil with which, 
despite his foreign tongue and wide field, he gathered 
^' not a few people to the Lord." His chief interest 
for us is, that he was the first founder of the Church 
of Mercia, and of that long episcopal line which after- 
wards settled at Lichfield. That Church was, in its 
very beginning, closely linked with the king, and 
altogether distinct from, and independent of, any 
other Church. The Church of England did not 
as yet exist.^ 

After Diuma came Ceollach or Ceolla (658-659), 
who was a Briton by descent, and also consecrated by 
the British Bishop of Northumbria. After the death of 
Peada, 656, Oswy had governed the whole realm of 
Mercia ; and under his auspices the new bishop came. 
But in the year 658 the Mercians rebelled against the 
over-lordship of Northumbria ; and when Oswy fled 
Ceollach's heart failed him, and he deserted his huge 
charge for the repose of monastic life at lona. 
Doubtless, his Northumbrian connexions, not less 
than his British extraction and Irish brogue, made 
him obnoxious to the Saxons. It is noted that the 
next bishop, Trumhere (659-662) the Abbot, though 
consecrated in the Northumbrian Church was a Saxon 
by birth. Trumhere was, in fact, of royal blood, ^ 
and was appointed Bishop of the Mercians by the 
young King Wulfhere, son of Penda, who was now 
raised to the throne. He died in the year 662, and 

' Kemble, "Anglo-Saxons," ii., ch. viii., 366. 
* Bede, bk. iii., ch. xxiv. 


was succeeded by Jaruman (662-667), an English 
bishop of Northumbrian succession, who seems to 
have been a singularly active and able preacher. 
Bede tells us^ that when the people of Essex fell, 
panic-stricken, from the faith, and began to rebuild 
the idol-temples in a time of a plague which had slain 
their Bishop Cedd, King Wulfhere sent Jaruman to 
re-convert them. The bishop proceeded " with much 
discretion." Taking with him a company of priests 
and teachers, he travelled through all the country, 
far and near. The sub-king and his people listened 
to him. He persuaded them to forsake their temples 
and idol-altars, and to reopen the Christian churches. 
In the fervour of their faith they confessed themselves 
ready rather to die in the hope of the resurrection 
than to live in the filth of apostasy. So Jaruman and 
his clerks came joyfully home. 

Two years after the beginning of Jaruman's epis- 
copate, the church of Mercia was called to reckon 
with a new and subtle power. The famous mes- 
sengers from Rome had been the means of con- 
verting a small portion of Saxon England to 
Christianity. Along the south coast and in East 
Anglia were churches which they had planted : but 
from Lindisfarne to London, from the Lincolnshire 
coast to Lichfield, the Gospel had been spread by 
missionaries of the old British Church. Between 
this Church and that of Rome there was but 
little difference, but such as existed was unhappily 
magnified. The Britons always kept Easter on the 

' Bede, bk. iii., ch. xxx. 


same day of the month, March 14, without respect to 
the day of the week. The Roman Easter Day was 
always on a Sunday. The Queen of Northumbria 
kept the one, the king the other, to their great dis- 
comfort. The Synod of Whitby (Streanseshalch) was 
called (a.d. 664) to discuss the matter, and decided 
in favour of the Roman mode. The scale was turned 
by the superior intelligence, not to say craft, of Wilfrid, 
a brilliant young ecclesiastic, who had espoused the 
fashions of the Roman communion. This was the 
first step towards the eventual Romanising of the 
Mercian Church. But it also prepared it for the 
coming of the man who was to incorporate it into 
that unity of the Saxon Churches, out of which rose 
our grand old Church of England. 

Jaruman died in 667, and with him ceased the 
isolation of the Mercian Church. For two years the 
see was kept vacant, and it was perhaps indicative of 
what was coming that Wulf here invited Wilfrid to act 
occasionally as its bishop. Wilfrid had by that time 
been consecrated, but had lost his see. He had been 
invited by the Northumbrian Witan to be Bishop of 
York, and had gone abroad in search of Roman orders, 
and stayed there too long for the patience of his prince. 
Chad was, therefore, asked to fill the vacant see, and, 
though the archbishop was dead before he arrived a 
Canterbury, he got consecration from Wini, the British 
Bishop of Winchester. Presently Wilfrid arrived to 
find his place occupied ; so he turned aside into the 
monastery at Ripon to bide his time. This rebuff 
was by no means the last which Wilfrid earned in his 
devotion to the budding pretensions of the Italian see. 

c 2 


The year after Jaruman's death there came a 
great archbishop to Canterbury. Theodore of 
Tarsus, the city of St. Paul, came at the invitation 
of the EngHsh, and with the blessing and goodwill 
of the Bishop of Rome. He brought with him what 
was more precious still, a tact which was able to deal 
with the rude natures of our island home, and powers 
of organisation which, under God, were equal to the 
task of welding the churches of the English kingdoms 
into one. At a word from him in favour of Wilfrid, 
Chad retreated from the bishopric of York into the 
abbey of Lastingham. This was really the first step 
to his coming hither; for, in 669, when Wulfhere 
asked his friend Wilfrid to recommend a bishop for 
Mercia, he mentioned — 

Chad (Ceadda) (669-672). 

The saint had already received the episcopal orders 
of the ancient British Church. Theodore now pro. 
fessed to complete and seal them with the full authority 
of the great Western Communion. 

It would be interesting to examine the motives 
which led St. Chad to accept a second consecration — 
if such it was — on resuming episcopal work. But, 
unfortunately, history has preserved only one side of 
the story, and that the Roman. From Bede's words, 
however, it seems clear that St. Chad retreated from 
York, not because he doubted the validity of his con- 
secration, but because he felt himself unworthy to be 
a bishop at all ; and that he accepted the suggestions 
of Theodore for the sake of peace and harmony. 

The diocese of Lichfield dates from this time. 




St. Chad — Division of the Diocese of Mercia — Ancient Monas- 
teries — Saints and Hermits. 

None of the nursing fathers of the Mercian Church 
did more for it than King Wulfhere (659-675), and 
yet none has been so ruthlessly slandered. Like 
Penda the Strong in energy and mental power, he 
was altogether unlike him as an earnest Christian. 
The Church, when he came to the throne in 659, 
"scarcely yet breathed in his dominions." ^ He fos- 
tered it with all possible care, and after reigning 
nineteen years left it strong. Yet he has been accused, 
not only of apostasy, but of the murder of two sons, 
Wulfade and Rufin. The slander took the shape of 
a tragic romance of bewitching interest, which was 
handed down from age to age at Peterborough, and 
in the roadside priory at Stone. ^ But beyond what is 
related in Bede (iv., c. 16), of the execution of two 

' Will. Malm., " Histor. Kings," chap. iv. 

* See Dugdale, Leyland, "The Martyrs of Stone," modern 
R. C. legend. For the Peterborough version see "Diocesan 
History of Peterborough," page 5. " Stone Priory," a lecture by 
present writer. Transaction of North Staff. Field Club, 1880, &c. 
Wilfrid and not St. Chad, Csedwalla not Wulfhere, should have 
been dragged into it. The youths were slain at Stoneham. 


royal youths at Stoneham, in the South of England, 
the tale has not the slightest discoverable foundation. 

To his work in Mercia St. Chad brought the 
energy of a new and powerful race. The spirit of 
adventure, which had led his forefathers over the 
stormy seas, made him a tireless missionary. The 
stern self-discipline, which he had learned perhaps 
as a slave-boy before his redemption by the Church, 
and strengthened in the ocean-lashed solitude of 
Lindisfarne, and the heathery barrenness of Lasting- 
ham, urged his devout spirit to frequent retirement 
for prayer. So his life divides itself between vigorous 
journeyings and devout repose. His character has 
two distinct sides, the contemplative and the active. 
He was a man fond of quiet thought, full of faith in 
the supernatural, and loving to meditate on death. 
And he was also a worker who knew the value of 
time, and who was willing to exert himself to the 
utmost in preaching truth. He went his episcopal 
journeys on foot. 

Canon Bright has sketched him lovingly : — " If a 
high wind swept over the moors at Lastingham, — or, 
we may add, around the little cathedral at Lichfield — 
he at once gave up his reading and implored the 
Divine mercy for all mankind. If it increased, he 
would shut his book and prostrate himself in prayer. 
If it rose to a storm, with rain or thunder or lightning, 
he would repair to the church, and give himself with 
a fixed mind to prayer and the recitation of Psalms 
until the weather cleared up. If questioned about 
this he would quote the Psalmist's words, 'The Lord 
thundered out of heaven,' and urge the duty of pre- 


paring, by a serious repentance, for 'that tremendous 
time when the heavens and the earth should be on 
fire, and the Lord should come in the clouds with 
great power and majesty to judge the quick and the 
dead.' Yet, with all this dread of Divine judgments, 
Chad, in his own words, had a ' continual love 
and desire of the heavenly rewards.' ' And it was 
no wonder,' says Bede, ' if he rejoiced to behold the 
day of death, or rather the day of the Lord, seeing 
he had so anxiously prepared for it.' "^ 

St. Chad, on coming into the diocese, fixed his head- 
quarters at Lichfield. The place was then deserted 
Even the old Roman road was forsaken where it 
passed " Dead Men's Field." Yet, to the mystical 
spirit of the missionary, it was holy ground, hallowed 
by the traditions of the past. And it was beautiful 
with wood and water — the very spot that a lover of 
God's fair earth would choose as a resting-place. More- 
over, it was separated only by a gentle eminence — 
the " Green Hill " — from the Derbyshire Rycknield 
Street, not far from its junction with the Watling 
Street. It was thus a centre of easy access into his 
province in every direction, and could not have been 
used as the hiding-place of a mere recluse. 

At the eastern end of Stowe Pool, near a well which 
still bears his name, St. Chad built a small church 
and college, or monastery. There he gathered a band 
of praying brethren, whose business seems to have 
been to uphold him, hand and heart, in his toilsome 
efforts to convert Mercia. 

And now began, in greater earnest, the evangeli- 
^ " Early English Church History," 231. 


sation of this part of Mercia. Previous bishops 
had worked hard in Leicestershire ; St. Chad's 
centre of operations was in Staffordshire. His way 
of working was to spend some time in prayer and 
conference with his brethren ; and then to go out, 
refreshed in spirit, on foot along the old Roman road, 
perhaps chanting psalms as he and his band ap- 
proached a village ; preaching, and setting up the 
cross in the little centres of population, and in the 
old Druidic sanctuaries ; gathering the offerings of 
the people ; and then returning home to Lichfield 
for a short season of prayer and conference and the 
training of clergy. 

The eye of the great archbishop was upon him in 
all this. Theodore controlled and directed his strong 
Saxon energies with the gentler wisdom of southern 
lands ; and in the courtesy with which the archbishop 
gave Chad a horse, and lifted him with his own arms 
upon it, we see, perhaps, one of the secrets of Theo- 
dore's success in winning the Mercian Church to 

But the apostolic bishop was not entirely depen- 
dent on alms. When he founded the abbey of Barrow- 
on-Humber, Wulfhere gave him fifty hides of land as 
an endowment ; and there is good reason to believe 
that the same prudent king made over to him a large 
tract of land^ near his little cathedral. The land was 
probably more precious to Wulfhere in the bishop's 
hands than in his own. It was extensive, it is true, for 
it stretched at intervals from Eccleshall to Lichfield, 

" Domesday, "History of Brewood," 4; Leyland's "Ac 
count of St. Chad's 7nanse at Stowe " ; Pegge's " Eccleshall." 


and filled up a good deal of the valleys of the Penk 
and Sow ; but it was rough in more senses than one. 
Thick brushwood covered it, and tangled swamps 
made it pestilent. It was, moreover, debatable ground 
between Wulfhere and the terrible remnant of the 
Britons. In giving it to St. Chad, the king may have 
regarded a bishop as a convenient "buffer," or bulwark, 
between him and his foes. Such, however, as the gift 
was, the Church accepted it. What it afterwards became, 
the bishops made it. Chad himself had an efficient 
manager of secular business in one of his monks — 
Ovin, an ex-prime minister of East Anglia, Ovin 
had come to him at Lastingham, axe in hand, to 
offer such help as he could give in the way of manual 
labour ; book-work was not in his way of things. 

The saint's episcopate was "glorious," but it was 
short. At the end of two and a half years he was at 
Lichfield for a rest. A languishing sickness had 
already been fatal to many of his associates and 
converts. His own end came on him like a golden 

"A week before his death a sound of angelic melody 
was heard coming from the south-east, until it reached 
and filled the little oratory where he was praying. This 
the good bishop interpreted to be his summons to 
heaven. The voices, he privately told Ovin, were 
those of angels. The messenger of death, that 
* lovable guest,' was with them. They would come 
again in seven days, and take him with them. About 
the same time, Egbert, a Northumbrian who had 
been a fellow-student with St. Chad in an Irish 
monastery, dreamt that he saw the soul of Cedda, 


Chad's brother, descending from heaven with a comr 
pany of angels, to take the soul of Chad with him 
into the heavenly kingdom." ^ 

On Tuesday, March 2, 672, — the end of the week, 
as he had said — he died. Over his grave, outside 
Stowe Church, a wooden monument was erected 
like a little house. It was roofed, and through a 
hole in the wall devotees took handfuls of dust, 
which were mixed with water to make a healing drink 
for cattle or men. The memory of the saint is still 
green in the Midland Counties, where the cathedral 
and twenty-one parish churches are dedicated to him. 
Some of his bones, too, are yet in existence, having 
been taken from their shrine in the cathedral by a 
prebendary named Arthur Dudley, at the Reforma- 
tion ; and after many wanderings they are now in the 
Roman Catholic Cathedral at Birmingham.^ 

St. Chad gone to rest, the abbot of his abbey of 
Ad Barve, or Barrow-on-Humber — a deacon, Win- 
FRID (672-675) by name — was made bishop. In 
the autumn of the same year, namely, on September 24, 
672, a synod was held by Theodore to consider the 
state of the newly-organised Church. Winfrid was 
present. By the ninth canon it was agreed that the 
daily increasing number of the faithful needed more 
bishops. The resolution was especially aimed at 
Lichfield diocese, and it speaks volumes, not only for 

^ From an admirable and lovingly-written " Address on St. 
Chad and the Mercian Church," by Dr. Bickersteth, dean of 

' For a full account of this, by Bishop Abraham, see " Lich- 
field Diocesan Churchman," Sept. 1878. 


the labours of St. Chad and his predecessors, but 
also for those of the King of Mercia and his family. 
Winfrid, however, was probably influenced by Wulfhere 
to resist the ecclesiastical subdivision of the kingdom 
from political motives. As long as Wulfhere lived the 
diocese was kept whole, and Theodore and his asso- 
ciates were patiently and perhaps prudently silent. 
But in 675, when the king was dead, the voice of the 
bishops in synod prevailed; and, because Winfrid 
clung to the traditions of his great patron in refusing 
to divide his huge diocese of nineteen counties, he 
was deposed. 

Winfrid then went back to his old abbey, where 
for three years he brooded over the insult which had 
been put upon the chair of St. Chad, and at last made 
up his mind to go to Rome — probably about it. But 
fresh misfortune overtook him. As he travelled 
beyond sea, he was mistaken in name by some assas- 
sins who had been bribed to waylay Bishop Wilfrid ; 
they attacked him, killed some of his attendants, and 
after sadly ill-using him left him stripped and for 

Good King Wulfhere had died in the glorious hope 
of everlasting life. Abolishing and utterly uprooting 
the worship of idols among his people, he caused 
the name of Christ to be published throughout his 
dominions, and built churches in many places. ^ 
There can be little doubt that one of these was at 
Lichfield ; another, of collegiate character, is tradition- 
ally said to have been built by his queen, Ermenilda, 

' Florence of Worcester, year 675. 


of stones at a place in Staffordshire called Stone from 
that circumstance, and near a spot which was called 
Wulferecaster in Leyland's days. He seems to have 
lived a good deal on the West Staffordshire border of 
his dominions. 

Sexwulf (675-691), abbot of Peterborough, was 
now Bishop of Mercia. He soon began to divide off 
its various tribes into separate sees. The Hwiccas, 
of Herefordshire, the most distant and troublesome, 
he gave to Putta, refugee Bishop of Rochester, and 
a noted teacher of Church music. Two years after- 
wards, a portion of Lindsey was taken from Mercia by 
conquest, but soon returned. In 680 the Council of 
Hatfield decreed that the Hwiccas of the Lower 
Severn valley should be formed into a see, which took 
the name of Worcester. The Middle Angles were 
to be shepherded from Leicester; the Lincolnshire 
men formed the bishopric of Siddenna, or Stowe, near 
Lincoln ; while the newly-conquered races in the 
South may have been given to Dorchester.^ The 
Middle English, and their Cheshire neighbours, were 
the largest charge of all, and they remained to Lich- 
field. Shortly afterwards, Leicester fell to Sexwulf 
again, and he was bishop of both until his death 
in 691. 

This development of the Church turns our 
thoughts to the Churchmen of the time. " The 
sober recital of historical fact," said Bishop Selwyn, 
writing of this period, "is decked with legends of 
singular beauty, like artificial flowers adorning the 

' For the doubt as to this see Haddan and Stubbs, ' ' Councils, '* 
iii., 130, note E. The date of Hereford is also uncertain. 


solid fabric of the Church. Truth and fiction are so 
happily blended that we cannot wish such holy 
visions to be removed out of our sight." Bede never 
left Jarrow, and his narrative of what happened fa;r 
away, whilst he was yet a child, may be somewhat 
highly coloured ; but to him we owe not only the 
story of St. Chad's death, but also a glimpse of 
Kenred, son of Wulf here, who was King of Mercia in 
704. It is certain that the conversion of the country 
was not effected only by the teaching of ecclesias- 
tics. King Kenred, Ethelred's successor, often 
spoke on spiritual things to one of his thanes, — a 
man as good in military matters as he was bad in 
morals. Time after time that man promised to give 
himself up to godly discipline, but always deferred it 
to a future day. He was taken ill. The king came 
to see him, and again renewed his exhortations to 
repentance. Not then, he replied, but when he got 
better, lest he should be laughed at for yielding 
under fear of death. He grew worse ; and on his 
next coming the king found him in an agony of 
despair. He had, he said, been visited by two white- 
robed youths, bearing a light and slender book in 
which he had seen his few good deeds written ; 
then had come a vast number of evil spirits, bringing 
the volume of his misdeeds, scaring away the good 
spirits, and branding him for hell. In this terrible 
frame of mind he died. Bede is so affected by the 
narrative that he forgets to record the effect upon 
the king. William of Malmesbury, however, adds 
that he gave up the kingdom a.d. 709, and spent 
the rest of his life in religious exercises at Rome. 


Florence of Worcester tells us something of 
St. Werburga, one of Kenred's sisters. After the 
death of her father, King Wulfhere, she too gave her- 
self up to monastic work, founding two nunneries 
in Staffordshire, one at Hanbury in Needwood, and 
the other at Trentham or Hanchurch. In the latter 
she died ; and, as if the place could never forget her, 
a fringe of ancient yews still shadows and solem- 
nises her cloister square, and a tradition lingers 
that once upon a time a procession of white swans 
wended thence bearing something precious. The 
body of the holy maid was, in fact, carried to Han- 
bury for burial, where it saw no decay, it is said, till 
the coming of the Danes. 

Repton was still the seat of a monastery, which was 
under the rule of Elfrida, another royal lady. Thither, 
early in the eighth century, went Guthlac for training 
in good ways after a youth of unbounded excess. 
He, too, was of royal blood, and had sacked towns 
and burnt homesteads after the manner of his fathers. 
But the teaching of the Church got hold of him. 
Conscience woke one sleepless night as he lay 
among his followers in the woods, and with the dawn 
he set off to Repton, " where he shore off the long hair 
which marked the noble." But even here he could 
not rest; he must needs engage his spiritual foe "in 
the hazard of a single combat." So in the autumn 
of 699, when berries hung ripe over the stream, 
he drifted down the Trent in a fishing-boat, and 
settled as a hermit in the Fens, on the spot where 
Croyland Abbey afterwards rose. The lad whom he 
took with him was probably Bertram, or Bertoline, 


whom impossible legend makes the founder of a 
hermitage at Stafford, whence he was driven into 
deeper solitudes at Ham, where his tomb and well are 
still seen. When Guthlac died, in 714, Eadburga, 
abbess of Repton, sent him a coffin of Derbyshire 
lead and a shroud. Bishop Hedda visited Crowland, 
whilst Guthlac was there, and ordained him priest. 





Ecclesiastical Reunion of Mercia — Political Unification of 

As the first fervour of conversion died away, there 
came a century of reaction. The kings of Mercia 
were not all like Wulf here and his immediate suc- 
cessors. Ceolred^ (709-7 1 6) "governed with honour" 
for eight years, " but oppressed the Church and died 
unshriven." He was buried at Lichfield. Then came 
the long and peaceful reign of Ethelbald (716-756), 
whose character will scarcely bear the light. He 
gave alms freely, and prohibited oppression and 
robbery. But the great apostle of Thuringia told 
him, in a letter,^ *' that his name had come abroad 
with an ill savour; that both he and his nobles 
deserted their lawful waves, and lived in guilty 
intercourse with adultresses and nuns." The letter 
was not without effect, for, at the council gathered to 
consider it, Ethelbald, by way of reparation, granted 
a charter to exempt monasteries and churches from 
all " taxes, works, and impositions, except the 

' Henry of Huntingdon, year 699, bk. iv. 
•2 Wilkin'.s " Concilia," i., 87. 


building of castles and bridges, from which none 
can be exempt." 

It is clear from this charter that the clergy of 
Mercia were rapidly acquiring a share of the pro- 
perty of the country. As men became Christians, 
they recognised their obligation to bestow a portion 
of their goods upon those who ministered to their 
spiritual wants ; but, as yet, clergy and parish 
churches were few and far between, and what little 
belonged to them was too often seized by the king. 
Even monks were made to do forced work for the 
king. Nor did they escape the prevailing degrada- 
tion of morals. Too many fell into the national sin 
of drunkenness. Some monasteries resembled pro- 
prietary boarding-houses, and were religious only in 
name. In church, the priests were wont to " preach 
the prayers " in theatrical style, instead of chanting 
them to a simple melody, or reading them in a 
natural voice. These and other faults were attacked 
by the Council of Clovesho (747), at which Ethelbald 
and his nobles and twelve bishops were present. It 
was then decreed, among other things, that the Lord's 
Day, Saints' Days, Rogation Days, and the Ember 
Fasts should be kept ; that monks and nuns should 
live regular lives, and dress modestly and simply; 
that monasteries should no longer be the receptacle 
of poets, musicians, and buffoons; that the laity should 
be shut out of them ; and that nuns should rather 
read and sing psalms than work embroidery. 

The clergy still lived in clusters, either under 
monastic rules, as at Repton, Peterborough, and 
Barrow-on-Humber, or under the immediate eye of 



the bishop, as at Lichfield, or of, perhaps, an arch- 
priest, as at Stafford and Stone. Lichfield was, 
indeed, the central spot from which the Gospel was 
carried out in all directions over Mercia, and to 
which its preachers returned bringing the alms of the 

After the death of Sexwulf (691), the see of 
Leicester was intrusted to Wilfrid, who came to the 
Mercian king as a refugee from the north. But 
Wilfrid was again put to flight by the Council of 
Easterfield (702), and the see was reunited with 
Lichfield under Hedda (691-721). 

And now the Lichfield of later times begins to 
emerge from the gloom. Hedda pitched upon the 
present minster site, and founded a cathedral, into 
which he translated St. Chad's bones from Stowe. 
The church was probably built, like St. Alban's, out 
of adjacent Roman ruins, of which were many at 
Wall, three miles off. It was dedicated to St. Peter. 

Aldwin, or WoR (721-737), held both Lichfield 
and Leicester. At his death, Wicta, Witta, or 
HwiTTA (737-752), succeeded to Lichfield only. 

King Ethelbald died in 756, and then Offa, the 
English Charlemagne, succeeded to the Mercian 
throne. During his long reign (755-796) he restored 
Mercia to the old boundaries of King Wulfhere; 
and in 779 he drove the king of Powis from his 
capital, Pengwern, and changed its name to Scrob- 
besbyryg, Shrewsbury. On the ruins of the British 
palace, outside the town, a church was built and 
dedicated to St. Chad, and a part of Salop per- 
manently annexed to the diocese of Licfield. From 


that time to the days of Henry VIII,, the diocese 
remained in size the same, embracing the terri- 
tories afterwards divided among the archdeacons of 
Stafford, Coventry, Chester, Derby, and Salop-in- 

Little is known of the first three bishops of Offa's 
reign, Hemele (752-764 or 765), Cuthfrith or 
CuTHRED (765-768), and BerthunI (768-779). 
They lived in comparatively happy times. The rest 
of England was full of trouble, but Mercia was calm 
and prosperous under its vigorous king. Offa rapidly 
made himself over-lord of all England, and Charle- 
magne called him Emperor of the West, he himself 
being Emperor of the East. i2 / 'o4:23 

This great king little liked the fact that all the 
bishops of his kingdom of Mercia were nothing more 
than suffragans to an archbishop who lived in a petty 
southern state upon which he looked with contempt. 
He therefore determined to humble Canterbury and 
to exalt Lichfield, so as to concentrate his kingdom 
within itself. He began by confiscating the Mercian 
property of Canterbury. Then he brought all his 
influence to bear upon the great Primate of the West 
• — the pope — and drew from him the promise of a 
pall for Lichfield. Two legates brought the pall into 
England, but conferred it only some three years after 
a council had been held at Chelsea, 785, in which the 
matter was discussed and agreed to. And then, 788, 
Higbert, bishop of Lichfield, assumed metropolitan 
authority over all the sees which had been carved 

^ Berthun is called bishop of Dorchester, Flor. Wor,, 
year 785. 

D 2 


out of the original diocese of Mercia, viz., Worcester, 
Leicester, Lincoln, and Hereford, together with 
Elmham and Dunwich in East Anglia. Four sees 
only remained to the province of Canterbury. 

Higbert now signs all documents as Archbishop of 
Lichfield, on equal terms with Jaenbert of Canterbury. 
In 789 he sat as Archbishop of Lichfield at a council 
held at Cealchyej in 792 at St. Alban's ; in 794 at 
Cloveshoo; in 799 at Tarn worth. 

The aged Archbishop of Canterbury submitted 
reluctantly to his loss of dignity, and meditated a 
journey to Rome, to appeal against Offa's hard deal- 
ing. Death stopped him, but fortune favoured his 
successor, Ethelhard, who became Archbishop of 
Canterbury in 793.^ For just then both Offa and 
Adrian, the king and the pope, who had sanctioned 
the attack on Canterbury, died ; and Ethelhard had 
a powerful friend at Rome in the person of the great 
Alcuin, Moreover, Kenwulf, the new King of Mercia, 
the worthless and impolitic successor of Offa, now 
made common cause with Canterbury, and sent the 
pope a letter, which is the earliest document extant. 
The letter was accompanied by a statement of the 
case drawn up by Ethelhard and a present of 120 
mancuses. As to the Lichfield pall, the pope 
answered vaguely ; but he was very definite as to the 
annual present of 365 mancuses which Offa had 
promised to the holy see. There the matter rested 
for a while. 

' Jaenbert died in 791, and it is supposed that the Kentish 
clergy kept Ethelhard for two years out of the primacy because 
he had accepted consecration from the Archbishop of Lichfield. 


About the year 799 the Archbishop of Canterbury 
and Kinbert of Winchester went together to Rome, 
where Alcuin was. They brought back a letter to 
Kenwulf, which expressed the pope's consent that the 
acts of Offa and Adrian should be annulled and the 
full power of Canterbury restored. But this was not 
yet done, though the Mercian suffragans had antici- 
pated such a decision ever since the death of Offa, 
and had gone only to Canterbury for consecration. In 
802 Pope Leo sent a second letter, insisting on the 
restitution of Ethelhard to the dignity of his prede- 
cessors, and threatening degradation to any eccle- 
siastic who should dispute his primacy. Alcuin now 
came over to the Lichfield side, and pleaded that 
Higbert might at least remain archbishop for life. 
But in 801 the latter had appeared as bishop only 
at the Council of Cealchyth. On the accession of 
Aldulf (801) the dispute seems to have been in abey- 
ance, perhaps out of respect to the suffragans who 
had sworn allegiance to Lichfield. But the last of 
them, the Bishop of Leicester, soon died ; and in the 
Council of Cloveshoo, Oct. 12th, 803, the metropo- 
litan dignity of Lichfield was formally annulled. Still 
Aldulf signed next after Canterbury, and his attendant 
priest as the first of the clergy.^ 

' Professor Stubbs, in "Annals of the Diocese." The order 
of episcopal precedency was thus : — i, Lichfield; 2, Leicester ; 
3, Lincoln ; 4, Worcester ; 5, Hereford ; 6, Sherborne , 7, 
"Winchester; 8, Elmham ; 9, Dummoc; 10, London; 11, 
Rochester; 12, Selsey. It will be noticed that Lichfield was 
both made and unmade an arch-diocese by councils of the 
Church of England. The [popes and kings directed, but the 
national Church alone effected, these changes. 


The old jealousy between the kings of Mercia and 
the dignity of Canterbury now seems to have been 
revived. Kenwulf harassed the Church until his 
death, in 822, and there is some evidence for sup- 
posing that his hatred for the archbishop led him to 
interdict the practice of religion altogether. And 
during the terrible troubles which followed this prac- 
tical " separation of Church and State " the power of 
the State dwindled almost to nothing. 

Strong measures were then needed to preserve the 
Church alive, and, apparently as soon as the tyrant 
was dead, Bishop yExHELWALD (818-828) organised 
the cathedral upon the basis of its present constitu- 
tion. It w^as no longer the one church of the diocese. 
Parish churches were beginning to spring up in all 
directions ; built, perhaps, out of the materials and 
in rude imitation of the Roman ruins which still 
so richly spread the plains. The cathedral, there- 
fore, now obtained a new character. It was still 
to be the central church, the great gathering-place 
of all the Christians in the diocese. Its band of 
clergy were still to go out ministering on the various 
estates of the bishop. They were still to have 
common head-quarters at the cathedral, and to live 
under canon or rules. They were, moreover, to 
form a board of advisers for the bishop, and to keep 
up the minster services, and perhaps also the minster 
farms ; but the greater part of the diocese was to be 
left to the ministrations of the parochial clergy. And, 
to distinguish them from the parish priests, the 
cathedral clergy were probably now called canons. 

We have now, therefore, arrived at a period in 


which the Church of England appears in pretty 
much its present aspect. More than a century of 
storm and sunshine had passed over it. A line 
of thirteen bishops had ruled at Ivichfield, and the 
Church had already attained to a venerable antiquity 
when the great event of the year 827 happened. 
Then the union of the three clusters of the old hept- 
archy into one great nationality first "came within 
the range of practical politics." For Mercia was 
conquered by Egbert, king of Wessex, in 827. In 
829 the Northumbrian thanes met him at Dore, in 
Derbyshire, and offered him obedience and allegiance. 
From that meeting sprang united England. The 
" State " was thus at least a century younger than 
« The Church." 



Wreck of Previous Institutions — The New Monasticism, 

If tales of the wealth of English abbeys and churches 
fired the cupidity of the Danes in their own wild 
and barren land, and made them desirous of help- 
ing themselves to it, where were abbeys fairer or 
churches richer than in Mercia? Repton, Hanbury, 
Trentham, Stone, Tamworth, Chester, and Shrews- 
bury, not to say Lichfield, had been peculiarly favoured 
by members of one of the greatest of the Saxon royal 
families. Moreover, the Trent opened out a highway 
for them from the eastern shore to the heart of the 

In the lurid light which preceded the bursting of 
the storm, we have but a legendary glimpse of the 
bishop. At Easter, 851, he was, says Ingulphus, 
present, with St. Swithin and other bishops, at the 
Council of Kingsbury. Bertulf, under-lord of Mercia, 
was presiding. The previous winter had been bitterly 
cold, and the hands of the Archbishop of Canterbury 
were still numbed. When the king proceeded to 
open the business of the meeting, the archbishop pro- 
posed that Church matters should be taken first, and 
a letter from the Abbot of Croyland was put in. The 


moment the archbishop touched it, he declared that 
new life flowed from it into his chilled hands, 
" through the merits of the most blessed Guthlac," 
whose affairs as founder of Croyland they were then 
treating of. The letter was handed round with like 
results to others, and a document drawn up, in 
which the archbishop expressed himself " whole and 
healed"; St. Swithin "rejoiced in the miracles of 
the Lord " ; Elstan of Sherborne, and Orkenwald of 
Lichfield, expressed "their delight at the successes of 
the Church." 

Not long afterwards. Bishop ^thelwald died, and 
HuNBERGHT (828) succccdcd, followed by Tunberht 
(841 or 844). In 868 the Danes came as near as 
Nottingham, but a victory of King Ethelred turned 
their fury upon the Fens. Eadmund, under-king of 
East Anglia, they bound to a tree and shot ; the 
Bishop of Lichfield, who was with him, was mur- 
dered; and the abbeys of Peterborough, Crowland, 
and Ely " went up in flames." The news struck 
terror into the heart of this diocese, which had not 
long to await its turn. In 874, the black ships of the 
barbarians pushed up the Trent to the very walls of 
Repton. The monastery was attacked and levelled 
with the ground, and wild havoc made of all found in 
it. The under-king escaped, and, seeing nothing but 
hopeless " rapine and slaughter in every part of the 
land," hied him away to Rome, where he soon died. 
Thus perished the twin nursing cradles of Mercian 
Christianity, — the monastery and palace of Repton. 

The abbey had existed for two hundred years, and 
had become the "Westminster Abbey of Mercia." 


Burial within its sacred precincts had been eagerly 
sought. There lay Merewald, brother of Penda the 
Strong j Ethelwald and Withlaf, kings of Mercia ; 
Wymond, son of Withlaf, with Elfleda his wife, and 
St. Wystan their son; Kineard, brother of Sigebert, 
king of the West Saxons ; and others. But this was 
not only the resting-place of illustrious dead. Within 
its walls had lived a large community of busy people. 
They had cultivated the neighbouring lands, and ex- 
tended their care even to the old Roman lead-mines of 
Derbyshire. "In 835," we read, "the Abbess Kene- 
wara granted to Hunbert^ her estate at Wirksworth, 
on condition that he annually gave as rent to Arch- 
bishop Ceolnuth — a member of the Mercian royal 
family — lead to the value of 300s. for the use of 
Canterbury Cathedral." Thus the abbey was a 
pioneer in the art for which Derbyshire has ever 
since been noted. 

Before the approach of the Danes, the wonder- 
working remains of good St. Wystan were transferred 
to Evesham by the fugitives from Repton monastery. 
So, too, ere Hanbury was attacked, the nuns got away 
to Chester with the treasured body of St. Werburgh. 
Hanbury shared the wreck of Trentham and Stone. 
The Danes kept head-quarters at Repton all that 
winter, and the terror of their deeds remains in the 
district to this day. 

Once here, the Danes were not to be shaken off. 
Ethelfleda, daughter of King Alfred and Lady of 

^ Was this the bishop ? If so, we may have here a glimpse 
of the acquisition by the see of some of the chapter property in 
the Peake. 


Mercia, grappled with them vigorously and reduced 
them to a measure of quietness. At the head of her 
troops she " excelled the amazons of old." When 
she fortified Stafford, she " set up the gates of St. 
Bertoline's," — the church, out of which afterwards 
grew the collegiate church of St. Mary. She founded 
St. Alkmund's collegiate church at Shrewsbury, in re- 
membrance of a Saxon prince who, in 800, had fallen 
in defence of his father, and had been buried first at 
Lilleshall and then at Derby ; and to her presence 
in West Staffordshire, which was now the boundary 
line of the Danelagh, as it had been of the older 
kingdom of Mercia, may be owing the fact that some 
of the collegiate churches there became " royal free 
chapels." Stone was royal in tradition ; then came 
Stafford and Gnosall ; then Penkridge ; then Wolver- 
hampton and Tettenhall — royal minsters all, dotting 
the old Mercian border-line from "Wulfere-caster" to 
Wulfere-hampton } 

How the cathedral fared in the storm we have no 
record. The bishops were unpopular with the Danes, 
who looked upon them as the allies of the Saxon 
kings. Tunberht was followed in order by Ella — 
bishop in the time of King ^thelstan — Algar 

(941-948), KiNSY (949-963), WiNSY (964), ElPHEGE 

(973), — signing charters 995 and 998 — Godwin (1004), 
Leofgar (1020), and Brihtmar (1026), who died at 

Bald as may be this list of names, these bishops 

' The origin of the royal associations of these collegiate 
churches is obscure. It would seem to be owing as much to 
Wulfhere as to Ethelfleda. 


superintended most important work. Under them, 
notwithstanding the presence of the Danes, the clergy 
of the diocese took fresh heart. The invaders were 
converted. The clergy were now freed from the 
rivalry of the royal monasteries, and perhaps were 
the better, also, by losing the degenerate patronage of 
the old Mercian royal family, which, in its earlier 
and better days, had been their best helper. They 
worked as they had never worked before. Hitherto 
the alms of the faithful had been carried to the bishop, 
and converts drafted into monasteries for religious 
training. The clergy had been mere mission priests, 
who wandered through the country. They had neither 
spheres of work nor homes of their own apart from 
the cathedral or some large central church. Now, 
after the purifying deluge of the Danes, the cathedral 
survives, and new collegiate centres on the cathedral 
plan are planted down in the principal towns. Two 
such were established in Derby, — All Saints' and 
St. Alkmund's ; one in Stafford, Gnosall, Penkridge, 
Wolverhampton, and Tettenhall — the old Mercian 
border — and one, perhaps, at Tamworth ; two in 
Chester ; and four in Shrewsbury. To each of these 
an enrolled body of canons was attached, who lived 
on a common fund, and went out Sunday by Sunday 
to minister in surrounding chapels, as well as keeping 
up full and effective church work in the towns in 
which the minsters stood. 

But the parochial system also grew. The owners 
of estates built or re-built churches for themselves 
and their , tenants, and solemnly devoted — as their 
fathers had done — a tenth of the land to the main- 


tenance of their chaplains. The local clergy thus 
obtained a measure of independence, as well as the 
opportunity of watching their work grow under their 
hands, and also a direct interest in the mutual pros- 
perity of the people and their landlords. Whilst 
the collegiate churches had a large number of clergy • 
— Stafford minster having thirteen and Penkridge nine 
— the parish churches had seldom more than one 
beneficed priest. Bakewell and Repton are the 
only churches in Derbyshire which appear in Domes- 
day with two. Sometimes, indeed, as at Brailsford, 
one country church served two manors standing on 
the border-line between them. 

Relics of some of these pre-Norman churches 
remain. There is, for example, a bit of " long and 
short work" at St. Chad's, Stafford, a beautiful pillared 
crypt at Repton, a plain semicircular arch between 
nave and chancel at Marston Montgomery, — which, 
in Mr. Cox's opinion, is "the oldest bit of ecclesias- 
tical masonry " that he has met with in Derbyshire. 
There are traces also at Stanton-by-Bridge, in the 
windows in nave and chancel, and at Caldwell Chapel 
in Stapenhill parish by Burton-on-Trent, as well as 
at the prebendal church of Sandiacre. Of traces at 
Sawley, a village on the Trent, Mr. Cox says : — 

" Seeing that we know there was a church here in 
822, Saxon work is naturally looked for in this fabric. 
Nor is the expectation disappointed. The archway 
into the chancel is a semicircular one rising from 
plain imposts ; the masonry above the arch and on 
the north side within the chancel is rude, and a small 
part of herring-bone work can be detected." 


At Wilne, a chapel of Sawley, is a font which Mr. 
Cox thinks " by far the most interesting relic of early 
Saxon Christianity that the county of Derby possesses; 
indeed, we have doubts if there is an older font in 
the kingdom than that of St. Chad's at Wilne .... 
Its total height is 37 inches .... It is circular, but 
divided as it were into six compartments, sculptured 
with interlacing knot-work," &c. 

Doubtless, Staffordshire, Salop, and Cheshire,^ 
especially the latter, would yield like results by the 
discovery of Saxon relics if equally fortunate in the 

Side by side with the growth of the parochial 
system, the itinerating system of ministration, which 
had always prevailed in the cathedral, was still kept up, 
both in the cathedral and the collegiate churches. 
But as the former grew the latter declined, until the 
canons found a way of absorbing the parish churches 
into their own system by what is called appropriation. 
The founder of the church, or his heirs, having given 
lands or tithes to support an incumbent, was also 
patron of the benefice ; and had the right, not only 
of nominating a rector, but of " appropriating " or 
assigning all the endowments of the rectory, whether 
of lands, tithes, or offertories, to any cathedral or 
collegiate church in any diocese, on condition that 
the appropriating church undertook to send one of 
its canons to serve the parochial altar. So far as the 
system was confined to the cathedrals, it worked at 
first fairly well ; but another sort of appropriators 

' Some such traces are noted in the " Cheshire and Lanca- 
shire Hist. Soc. Transactions," 


began to spring up, whose greediness wrought endless 
mischief. These were the monasteries, of which, how- 
ever, there were but few in the diocese before the 
Norman Conquest, owing to poHtical faction and the 
hatred of the clergy for them ; but as soon as the 
ominous year looo had turned they began to 
appear. In 1002 Wulfric Spot, one of the Mercian 
earls, founded Burton Abbey, and Leofric, his son, 
Coventry, some thirty years later. The nunnery at 
Polesworth seems to have been already in existence; 
and it is said that another at Stone had been reared by 
Wulfhere's queen. The priory of Lapley was founded 
by Algar, grandson of Wulfric Spot, out of regard to 
the wishes of a dying son who had been tenderly 
nursed in the abbey of St. Remigius of Rheims, 
when overtaken by fatal illness. The latter was the 
first instance of an alien priory, /.^., of a monastic 
house subject to a foreign abbey, that we have in 
our field of observation. 

All these religious houses were filled with monks or 
nuns of the Benedictine order. They were of a type 
very different from that of old Repton and Hanbury, 
which were training houses into which persons of 
both sexes might retire for religious teaching ; being, 
in short, a sort of long "retreat." But the new kind 
of monasteries was of a more rigid type. Their 
inmates had for ever renounced the world, and lived 
under the strictest discipline. They aimed at being a 
standing protest against the terrible sensuality of the 
age, and at tasting a kind of heaven on earth begun. 
The older monks had gone the round of monasteries, 
reading in each some grand book or listening to the 


lectures of some famous teacher. The newer monks 
were chamed to one spot and were carried to their 
places in choir, on the day of their initiation, stretched 
on a funeral bier and under a funeral pall, as being 
dead to the outside world. 

The last two bishops before the Conquest were 
Ulsey or WuLSY (1039-1053), and Leofwin. The 
former saw the foundation of the abbey of Coventry, 
which was destined to play so great a part in the 
future history of the see. Its founder, Earl Leofric, 
had married Godiva, a rich Lincolnshire maiden, 
who was both very beautiful and very good. She it 
was whose famous legendary ride through Coventry 
drew from her husband the charter : — 

I, Luriche, for love of thee, 
Doe make Coventre toll-free. 

And at her persuasion he turned the old nunnery of 
Coventry into a Benedictine abbey. For the support 
of twenty-four monks he gave to it no less than twenty- 
three lordships. And Godiva " sent for skilful gold- 
smiths, who wrought all her gold and silver into crosses 
and images of saints, and other curious ornaments 
for the abbey." No other monastery in England was 
so rich in gold and silver and gems. "The walls 
seemed almost too strait to hold it all." And they 
failed to hold it, as we shall presently see. 

Leofwin, the last Saxon bishop, had been the first 
abbot of Coventry. After Leofwin, who went over 
sea for consecration,^ and who ruled from 1054 to the 
eventful year of the Norman advent, 1066, never 

* Because there was no archbishop in England a.c. 1053. 


more bishop took title from Lichfield only until the 
year 1836. How Leofwin died in 1066 may perhaps 
be inferred from the terrible havoc which William I. 
seems to have inflicted on the episcopal estates. 

We look upon these Saxon bishops with greater 
interest than on their Norman successors. They were 
the founders of our diocese, and the first teachers of its 
faith ; and what they taught was not " Romanism," 
but in substance the doctrine of the Church of 
England as we know it now. They were true shep- 
herds and pastors of Christ's flock, — true sons, not 
of Rome, but of Canterbury. They were surrounded 
with a halo of real Gospel sanctity ; and, in point of 
worldly esteem, were looked upon as of as high a life- 
value as the king or his chiefest thane. And yet 
they lived with and among their clergy. They were 
the king's best advisers, the trusty judges who sat on 
the judgment-seat of all his hundred courts in civil 
as well as ecclesiastical causes ; yet they were bishops, 
chiefest and through all. Vast, though probably 
worthless, were the estates which the piety or policy 
of former ages had given them ; but bishops were 
not yet barons. Taking them, indeed, altogether, 
they far more nearly resembled the Rackets and the 
Selwyns of later days than the covetous and soldierly 
prelates who came next after them. 




Removal of the Bishop's Seat to Chester and Coventry — Foun- 
dation of Monasteries. 

Three years after the Conquest the central part of 
this diocese was in a state of anarchy. Neither clergy 
nor laity regarded law. The woods were full of cut- 
throats, and Stafford was the rallying-point of a rebel- 
lion which brought William himself on the scene. 
The people fled before him; and the desolation which 
fell upon the neighbourhood was terrible. 

The city and cathedral of Lichfield seem to have 
been left untouched by the Conqueror. It was a 
poor little place, surrounded only by woods and some 
forty acres of meadow. The canons had dwindled 
down to five, noted as much for poverty as for piety, 
and they were serving five surrounding chapels. But 
the scourging sword almost touched them, five adjacent 
estates being utterly devastated. 

On the other hand, the college at Stafford seems 
to have been early re-modelled by Normans, for its 
thirteen canon's appear in Domesday Book as being 
also Prebe7idartes, — that is, members of the chapter 
or council, who held separate estates in right, not of 
the collegiate church itself, but of the stalls which 


they held in it. They were at this time, probably, 
installed in a new church of most exquisite work- 
manship, which was dedicated to St. Chad, and part 
of which remains to the present time. At Wolver- 
hampton, William left one of his chaplains as dean, 
though only a deacon. 

Wild havoc was made of the bishop's woods by 
the Conqueror, perhaps because they harboured the 
rebels whom he came hither to crush. Besides the 
five manors round Lichfield which were wasted, 
eleven similarly suffered in Eccleshall. Yet Peter 
(1072-1085), the Norman bishop whom William left 
here, seems to have had as many ploughs at work as 
the lands would bear, and to have owned no less 
than 93,740 acres of wood in Lichfield, 11,530 in 
Eccleshall, and 4,320 in Baswich and Brewood. His 
canons had 49 ploughs, and would thus seem to be 
beginning those extensive farming operations by which 
capitular bodies subsisted, and for which they were 
afterwards remarkable. The bishop was, indeed, the 
largest forest-owner in Staffordshire — a county which, 
out of a total surveyed area of 468,004 acres, had 
319,538 acres of wood. 

Population was scarce, and clergy few. There were 
less than thirty non-collegiate presbyters beneficed in 
Staffordshire ; and the rough character of the Trent 
Valley may be inferred from the fact that the Norman 
Earls of Chester endowed an hereditary guide who 
had to meet them, on their journeys from London, 
at Hopwasbridge, near Tamworth, and to conduct 
them through the mazy swamps and tangled woods 
to Radford Bridge at Stafford. 

E 2 


■ The parishes which the Saxon bishops had cleared 
in their woods were still in existence, and in 1087 
beneficed incumbents were living at Heywood, 
Longdon, Eccleshall, Brewood, Baswich, &c. 

Of Peter himself we know little (except that 
he had been William's chaplain) until the year 1075, 
when he attended the synod of London. It was 
then agreed that the seats of bishops should be 
fixed in large towns, as being centres of influence. 
Lichfield was but a village : Peter, therefore, trans- 
ferred his episcopal chair to Chester, which con- 
tained between 400 and 500 houses. And for many 
centuries afterwards his successors were commonly 
called bishops of Chester, though none of them was 
ever enthroned there. 

Domesday Book records several curious and very 
heavy dues payable in Chester at this time to the 
bishop. " If any free man does work on a holy-day 
the bishop has a forfeit of eight shillings. A slave 
or maid-servant so transgressing pays four shillings. 
A merchant, coming into the city and carrying a stall, 
shall pay to the bishop four shillings if he take it 
down between the ninth hour of the Sabbath and 
Monday, without license from the bishop's officer," 
and so on. An acre of land was then worth a 
shilling : the fines must have been tremendous. 

Peter found two important churches at Chester ; 
that of St. John, in which the bishop fixed his chair, 
had traditions stretching back to the days of King 
Etheldred, a.d. 689. To it King Edgar had, in 973, 
been rowed up the Dee by eight petty kings. Earl 
Leofric had established a dean and seven canons in 


it, Avho were appointed by the Bishop of Lichfield. 
The other, St. Werburgh's, was a royal free chapel, 
consisting, like the similar chapel in Stafford, of a 
dean and twelve prebendaries, and looking back 
to Ethelfleda as its founder. Here the great Norman 
earls of Chester, who were in reality princes, reigned 
as patrons ; and when Hugh the Wolf was on his 
death-bed the church was turned into a grand Bene- 
dictine abbey, into which he came to spend his last 
hours. Large, therefore, as Chester might be, and 
important as a centre of organisation, the rising 
abbey and its palatine earls eclipsed the little cathe- 
dral. So the bishops soon lost spirit. Peter died 
in April, 1084, and Robert de Lymesey (1086-1117) 
watched for an opportunity of getting away, which 
came thus.' In 1095 the Abbot of Coventi7 died, 
and Lymesey obtained — probably by purchase — the 
king's leave to farm the revenues of the abbey until 
a new head was appointed. For seven years he kept 
possession of them, and then, in 1102, by papal 
licence, he took his bishop's stool to Coventry, and 
fixed it in the abbey church, being henceforth owner 
of the barony (by purchase from the king) and abbot 
of the monastery as well as bishop. This position 
his successors strenuously maintained, planting down 
their palace at the north-east corner of St. Michael's 
churchyard. They held the abbey with its barony 
and all its possessions as a grant from the crown, 
renewed from bishop to bishop, for a hundred years 
till Bishop Nunant lost all by grasping at too much. 

So rich a prize was not allowed to pass from the 
Regulars to the Seculars without a contest. We 


gather from the chroniclers that the monks waged a 
costly law-suit against Lymesey at Rome, and that he 
stripped the church of its vast treasures to fight them 
there. It is said that he once scraped silver to the 
value of five hundred marks from a single beam.^ 
Greed of gold was the passion of the time. " There 
was no rich man that was not an usurer, no clerk that 
was not a lawyer, no priest that was not a profit- 
monger The halter was loosened from a 

felon's neck if he could promise any bribe to the 
sovereign." So the bishop kept the abbey, and 
starved and ill-used the monks. 

Stern as was the rule of the Conqueror, he never 
succeeded in breaking the spirit of the Saxons. 
Wherever his followers settled they had to fortify 
themselves. Castles sprang up in all directions, and 
with them chapels for the garrisons within, and 
churches for their dependants outside. Peverel 
Castle overlooks Castleton Church — "long called the 
church of Peake Castle " — and the twin towers of 
Stafford Castle still frown over the Castle Church. 

Nor did these Normans, notwithstanding their great 
expense in castle building, stint their church building. 
Underneath the walls of Tutbury Castle, a Benedic- 
tine priory was founded in 1080 by Henry de 
Ferrars, and annexed to the abbey of St. Peter 
super Divan, in Normandy. The west end and 
other portions of this work yet remaining show it to 
have been of marvellous beauty. But it was other- 
wise with the endowments. Instead of supporting 

' Probably from the shrine where an arm of St. Augustine of 
Hippo was preserved. 


their monks with a sufficient grant of land, or a rent" 
charge on their estates, as the Saxons had done, 
Ferrars had recourse to the pernicious system of 
appropriation. And thus it happened that, among 
the Derbyshire churches, the rectorial endowments of 
Broughton, Norbury, and Doveridge were now 
diverted from their proper purpose, and assigned 
to the support of Tutbury priory. About the same 
time William Rufus made, or more probably sold, 
a cheap augmentation of the revenues of Lincoln 
Cathedral by giving the important parish churches 
of Ashburne and Chesterfield to it ; to which his 
successor added Wirksworth. So there now began 
a new system of itinerating ministry — the sullen . 
monks galloping out on Sundays to say the services 
at the appropriated churches, and the cathedral 
canons going round to the benefices attached to 
their stalls, rather to collect offerings than to per- 
form spiritual functions. 

But what the Normans gave to the Church they 
gave heartily. In 1072 Robert de Stafford writes as 
follows : — 

Having a care over my soule and also for the souls of my 
foresaid lord "William, and also for my wife and my parents, have 
given certain land, Wrottesley by name, to the holy monastery 
of Evesham So that the Church shall for ever it pos- 
sess, and that none my adversary shall presume to detract from 
it, nor take awaie anything, and if soe be that anie my enemie 
shall presume to violate these my alms which I have geven to 
god for the remission of my sins, and the health of my soul, be 
he alienated from the inheritance of god and damned among the 
infernal ghosts. 

After describing the bounds of the lands given, the 


charter goes on, " These things done as is abovesaid, 
to wit in mlxxij. yeare of the incarnation of our 
Lord. These witnesses >J< in word agreeing whose 
names appeare underwritten, >J< I, Robert, delivered 
this my chyrograph of gift under the scale of the holy 
crosse, and in geving of it I layd it upon the holy 
aultar." Then follow the names of a great band of wit- 
nesses who saw the baron lay his deed upon the altar, 
and thundered forth Amen to its terrible imprecation. 

Strange to say, Robert was the first to infringe his 
own charter, but Peter, the bishop, reproved him for 
his impiety, and he made amends on his death-bed 
by adding to the gift. 

In order to understand the spirit in which monas- 
teries were founded we must strip ourselves of 
current prejudices and look upon the times as they 
were. To the flagrant lust and sin of the age the 
self-denial of the monks presented a strong contrast.^ 
What could a wild Norman baron, whose hand was 
against every man, see in the peaceful calm of the 
silent cloister but a type of rest of which the outer 
world knew nothing? The abbey chant stole over 
him on the night-wind as he paced his battlements ; 

^ See the arguments used by Orderlin to induce Roger de 
Montgomery to found Shrewsbury Abbey, given by Ordericus 
Vitalis : — "Consider well, most noble sir, how it is that the 
brethren are constantly employed in the monasteries. In them 

innumerable good deeds are done every day Who can 

tell the watchings of the monks, their chants and psalmody, 
their prayers and almsgiving, their daily offerings of the mass 
with floods of tears ? Followers of Christ, they have but one 
object, to crucify themselves that they may please God in all 
things."— Book V., ch. i. 


he knew the monks were praying for him, and 
watching Hke him. It was, indeed, his faith in the 
efficacy of prayer and fasting that made him beHeve 
in monks ; and he was glad to have them near him, 
and to gain for himself and his family the blessing of 
perpetual intercession.^ 

Bishop Lymesey, who, by the way, had taken part 
in St. Anselm's consecration in 1093, died in 1117, 
and was buried at Coventry. For three years the 
see was kept vacant by the king, and then Robert, 
a married chaplain, was appointed. The monks, who 
were then bitter in their hatred of married priests 
and ruthless in slandering them, blasted the new 
bishop with the title of Peccatum, or Peche (1121— 
1 126). He was buried at Coventry, where he left his 
son Richard, archdeacon, and probably another son, 
Geoffrey, a monk. 

The old English clergy had up to this time married 
and lived in their parsonages, much as their suc- 
cessors do now. Bishop Lymesey left a daughter 
comfortably settled with her husband, Noel, on the 
see lands near Eccleshall. Hugh, dean of Derby, was 
married. So was the rector of Bradbourne, till his 
rectory was taken by the canons regular of Dunstable. 
At Whalley, the rectory descended for centuries from 
father to son, until neighbouring monks found the 
house so warm and comfortable, that in 1186 they 

' So Randle de Blundeville, founder of Delacres, when caught 
in a storm at sea, said just before the matin-hour, 2 a.m., that 
the storm would soon be over then, for that his monks were 
about to rise to their prayers, and they would remember him in 


succeeded in ousting the parson and settling in it 
themselves as a monastery. So that, as collegiate- 
clerical life came into common practice, the beautiful 
family life of the old parish clergyman was obscured, 
only to blossom forth again when its destroyers were 
themselves overthrow^n by Henry VIII. 

Yet the monastic system fortified religion when 
sorely in need of it. Men said that Christ was 
asleep. Every strong man did what he chose, and 
took what he could. The weak and poor suffered ; 
and the clergy in many places would have had nothing 
left, unless allied by appropriation to some powerful 
religious body, which could enforce spiritual censures 
at the sword's point, or pursue a church robber to 
the ends of the earth. 

The monks of the Benedictine order w^ere utterly 
secluded ; but an order of a middle sort now came 
into Derby, under the auspices of its great earl. 

Close by St. Alkmund's church, where there were 
already six clergymen, yet just outside the little town, 
he planted a society of Austin Canons. These were 
parish priests, living together under monastic rules, 
and observing the seven canonical hours of service. 
To this, his second foundation, the Earl of Derby gave 
the churches of Uttoxeter and Crich, a tithe of all his 
rents in Derby, and some land. But the town of 
Derby, though small, had already six churches and 
at least seventeen clergy. It is hardly surprising that 
Hugh the Priest, dean of Derby, should speedily offer 
the new brotherhood a tempting site on his meadow- 
land, a mile or two away, on condition that they 
would betake their church and themselves thither, 


and remember him and his family in their prayers. 
This was the origin of Darley Abbey, Similar priories 
of parish clergymen also sprang up, about the 
same time, at Gresley, near Burton ; at Rocester, 
founded by Roger Bacon, 1 146 ; at Trentham, founded 
by Randle, second Earl of Chester. Stone Priory 
was founded by the Baron of Stafford; Caulke by 
Maude, widow of the founder of Trentham, and 
afterwards removed to Repton, 1172; Ranton, founded 
by Robert Fitz Noel, was a cell to Haughmond, 
which William Fitz Alan built in mo. Bishop 
Richard Peche, in 11 80, brought the same order to 
Stafford, but fixed them down in a wild and beautiful 
dell by the river, more than a mile from the town. 
So, too, Richard de Belmeis, dean of the collegiate 
church of St. Alkmund at Shrewsbury, finding that 
little town already overstocked with parochial clergy, 
transferred the endowments of his church to a small 
colony of the same black canons, who had come from 
Dorchester and were beginning to build on one of 
his prebendaries' estates at Lilleshall. In this instance 
the property, which had hitherto supported ten clergy 
in the town, was diverted to the sustenance of a 
greater number, devoting themselves to prayer and 
agricultural work in the country. 

The order of Clugny found but few supporters 
in this diocese. Before 1161 the great abbey of 
St. Milburga, at Wenlock, sent a small colony to the 
cell built by Gervase de Pagnell, under the walls of 
his castle of Dudley; and that of Bermondsey, in 
Surrey, had a cell before 1140 at St. James's, in the 
heart of Derby. 


The great Benedictine abbey of Shrewsbury, whose 
grand western tower still fronts the traveller as he 
comes out over the English bridge, has a special 
interest from its connexion with Ordericus Vitalis, 
one of the most important of our early English 
chroniclers. His father, Orderlin, came in the Con- 
queror's train from Orleans, and was a chaplain and 
counsellor to Roger, afterwards Earl of Shrewsbury. 
He lived with his family of three sons at Atcham. 
Siward, a Saxon priest of royal blood, who had pro- 
bably been reduced to poverty by the Conquest, had 
built a little wooden church, dedicated to St. Eata, just 
outside the eastern gate of Shrewsbury, and was eking 
out his living by tuition. To him the Norman cler- 
gyman sent his son Orderic, when five years old, as 
scholar and chorister. Forty years afterwards, when 
Orderic had long been a monk at Ouche, in Nor- 
mandy, he concluded his chronicle with an address to 
the Deity, in which he thus speaks of his childhood. 
*'I was baptised on the Saturday of Easter (1075) at 
Atcham, on the banks of the great river Severn. 
There, by the ministry of Ordericus, the priest. Thou 
didst regenerate me with water and the Holy Ghost, 
and gavest me the name borne by this priest, who 
was my godfather. When I was five years old I was 
sent to school at Shrewsbury, and I offered to Thee 
my services in the lowest order of the clergy of the 
church of St. Peter and St. Paul. While there Siward, 
a priest of great eminence, instructed me in letters 
for five years from ' Nicostrata Carmenta,' and 
taught me psalms and hymns and other necessary 
learning." - 


Whether the old Saxon priest died whilst Orderic 
remained at school we cannot tell '^ but before the 
boy was ten years old the Saxon dedication was 
superseded, and his father had begun to build 
a stone church on the site of the wooden one. 
This, however, Orderlin abandoned when he found 
himself able to persuade Roger de Montgomery to 
build a Benedictine monastery on the spot. Into 
that monastery he went as a monk, with his second 
son, Benedict. Orderic he sent over sea. The latter 
continues : — " It was not Thy good pleasure that I 
should long serve Thee in that place [Shrewsbury], 
subject to the disquietude of my relatives, for such 
are often a hindrance and burden to Thy servants. 
.... Wherefore, O glorious God, Who badst Abra- 
ham to depart from his own land and his father's 
house. Thou didst put it into the heart of my father 
Oderlin to separate me entirely from himself, and to 

' The narrative of Ordericus throws a ray of light upon the 
state of the vanquished Saxons at this period. Siward, the 
nobly-born priest, vi^as, it seems, allowed to teach in Shrews- 
bury ; most likely as long as he lived ; and then the Norman 
earl seized the site of his tiny college. The policy of the 
bishops of Lichfield was the same on their extensive estates. 
Frane, the forester of the Saxon bishops, held lands at Somer- 
ford in 1086. Bishop Robert Peche gave them to a Norman 
holder, but allowed Hainilda, the forester's daughter, to retain 
them as long as she lived. And "Walter Durdert granted to 
Ralph, his steward, the lands in Bromhall and elsewhere, which 
had been held by a knot of Saxons — amongst them Siward, the 
cobbler — together with the right of trying criminals by fire and 
water, and hanging thieves, on condition that he supplied the 
high altar at Lichfield with candles to the value of 4s. a year. 
(W. Salt "Collections," vol. iii. 178.) 


devote me body and soul to Thee. He, therefore, 
amid floods of tears delivered me, also weeping bitterly, 
to the monk Reynold, and never saw me afterwards. 
Being then a young boy, it was not for me to oppose 
my father's will, and he, for his part, promised me 
that, if I became a monk, I should partake with the 
saints of the joys of Paradise." 

The abbey to which the youth was consigned lay 
in the heart of woods, and there nearly all the rest 
of his life was spent. He was ordained deacon in 
109 1, and priest nearly sixteen years afterwards, 
having in common with men of that age a deep 
reverence and fear of the sacerdotal office. His 
books were written at leisure, and with a frank and 
unassuming simplicity. No others give us so much 
valuable information on the religious, social, and 
political life of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. 





The Soldier Bishop — Norman Institutions brought into Lich- 
field, Prebendaries Established, Cathedral Rebuilt, City 
Walled — Stern Reforms, the Cistercians — Free Churches 
— Durdent — Leper Hospitals — Peche, the Younger — La 

On the death of Robert Peche, 1126, the see was 
again kept vacant for two years, and at last given to 
Roger de Clinton, a man of noble birth and noble 
heart. He was Archdeacon of Buckingham and a 
deacon himself. On the 21st of December, 1129, he 
was ordained priest, and the next day consecrated 
bishop at Canterbury. 

Clinton is described in the " Acts of King Stephen " 
as one of the worst three bishops of that bad time. 
It is there said they went about the country on their 
war-horses, oppressing and robbing like the secular 
barons, and meanly laying the blame of their outrages 
upon their followers : but this can hardly be true. 
Clinton was undoubtedly a soldier, and he died 
eventually in the Crusades ; but he was also a 
reformer. As such, at all events, he writ himself 
large on this diocese. He it was who first brought 
Norman institutions into Lichfield. The five canons 
there had been noted for poverty, piety, and self- 
denial ; and they served a circle of five neighbouring 


chapels. The property they enjoyed belonged to 
the bishop. Clinton seems to have settled it on the 
cathedral as common chapter property, though he 
added, at the same time, a large additional body of 
prebendaries. The latter were non-resident canons, 
who were to be members of the chapter and to 
enjoy a stall in the choir. To each stall a small 
estate or prebend was attached ; and, as the names of 
the prebends are those of places on the old see lands, 
we know that Clinton's reforms were established at 
his own expense. The whole chapter was to pray for 
and to advise the bishop, — to furnish him, indeed, 
with that valuable brotherly counsel which was given 
by every monastic chapter to its head, and which 
made the monks so formidable to deal with. 

Moreover, in this division of property among the 
various clergy of the cathedral, we see a recognition 
by the bishop of the fact which had done so much 
for the parochial system, namely, that men prefer 
having an office and estate of their own to a mere 
share of common duty and revenue. And the 
cathedral needed reorganisation for another reason. 
It was no longer the sole head-quarters of the bishop. 
He had become a rover, carrying his court with him ; 
the cathedral chapter naturally wished to know 
exactly what they had to expect from him. 

Clinton rebuilt the old Saxon cathedral church of 
St. Peter on a plan which will presently be men- 
tioned, and re-dedicated it to St. Chad, whose bones he 
brought into it. He also fortified the Close, and 
enrolled the men-at-arms available for service. Out- 
side the south gate of the city he planted a colony of 


Austin canons, which he dedicated to St. John. He 
built the priory, perhaps, in the hope that the citizens 
might be able to worship there in war time, when cut 
off from the cathedral by his new ditches and strong 
gates. At Fairw^ell, three miles away, he left a 
nunnery ; and at Buildwas, in a damp meadow where 
a stream runs into the Severn, he founded an abbey. 
The ruins of its chapter-house, slype, &c., still 
exist, and the fair, pointed, massive Norman arches 
and lofty round pillars, which still stand fresh and 
sharp in the minster church, show what the first 
Norman cathedral at Lichfield must have been. 

The building of Buildwas for Cistercian monks, no 
less than the vigorous organisation of diocese and 
cathedral, shows the real character of this stern soldier- 
bishop. The wilder lust and anarchy of a previous 
period had now worked themselves out. Men had 
fled in disgust into the woods. There were hermit- 
ages at Armitage, near Lichfield, on a rock over- 
looking the Trent ; at Calwich, by the Dove ; at 
Sandwell, near Wolverhampton ; at Yeaveley, near 
Ashborne, and elsewhere. In a retreat of this sort, 
on Cannock Chase, a band of men had settled and 
were living under strict rules. The times were, there- 
fore, ripe for the coming of the hard-working and self- 
denying Cistercians, whose white robes matched well 
the marvellous self-denial and purity of their lives. 
These men were welcomed not only by the martial 
spirit of Chnton : in 1 176, after he was dead, Bertram 
de Verdun gave them a track of wet land in a valley 
at Croxden, near Uttoxeter; and on it rose the stately 
abbey whose ruined church, chapter-house, and 



cloister-square are still grand, even in decay. And 
even before Clinton came to the diocese a colony 
of " White-ladies " had settled in the woods near 

The Cistercians sought lonely and unhealthy neigh- 
bourhoods ; they courted hardship and death. But 
what they found ^^ild and barren they left fertile. 
Buildwas and Croxden, White-ladies, and Dieulacres, 
near Leek — the latter founded, in 12 14, by Randle 
III., Earl of Chester — have all left more than vener- 
able wrecks behind them. The adjacent lands afford 
plain proofs of the immense work done by the 
patient toiling " monks of old," in building bridges, 
embanking rivers, draining swamps, clearing woods, 
and, not least, erecting parish churches. 

The Cistercian movement was most felt in Cheshire ; 
Derbyshire it did not touch. 

Another great passion of the time, the Crusades, 
seized the martial spirit of Clinton, and carried him 
off to rescue the Holy Sepulchre ; but he died at 
Antioch, April 16, 1148, leaving behind him here, in 
heroic Derbyshire, a feeling which, in Henry II.'s 
time, resulted in the establishment of a Chamber 
of Knights Hospitallers at Barrow-on-Trent (at the 
expense of the rectory of that parish), and in the reign 
of Richard I. of an extensive " Commandery " or hos- 
telry of the same knights at Yeaveley, near Ashbourne. 
There, right liberal hospitality and the sacred rites of 
religion were open to all comers, especially to pilgrims 
bound for the Holy Land. At Balston, in Warwick- 
shire, the Templars had a Preceptory. 

So far the growth of Church organisation after the 


Conquest had been as rapid as the age was liberal 
in the foundation of religious houses. But the seeds 
of disintegration now began to show themselves. 
With the laudable desire to become a part of the 
great unity of western Christendom, the Church of 
England had, in Saxon days, agreed to acknowledge 
that the Bishop of Rome ought to have the first 
place among European bishops. This much clenched 
by Norman sword, the popes wrested more. In the 
age after the Conquest, Englishmen rapidly played 
their national Church into the yoke. Nothing more 
contributed to this than the quarrels which sprang 
from the pride of the monks. Lavishly endowed, 
powerfully supported by great men, Vv^hose pets and 
darlings they were, they began to despise diocesan 
bishops. They preferred the pope, as being a bishop 
of greater dignity and at a greater distance. Under 
his acknowledged supremacy their spiritual splendours 
and substantial wealth might be deemed secure 
from encroachment on the part of harsh bishop, or 
marauding baron, or pilfering king. With the case 
of Coventry Abbey before us, we cannot wonder at 
this. Every great spiritual corporation, therefore, 
aimed at being able to shut its doors in the bishop's 
face, — even the collegiate churches, and, last of all, 
the cathedral itself. 

In the days of a ruler like Clinton this was not 
not so easy. It would seem that the royal chapels 
on the old Mercian border had set up their claim 
for exemption. The collegiate churches at Stafford, 
Penkridge, Gnosall, and Wolverhampton had pro- 
bably all called themselves "free"; but Clinton got 

F 2 


a grant of them from the Crown, and annexed them 
bodily to the possessions of his cathedral, appointing 
Helias, archdeacon of Stafford, Dean of Stafford. 
The prebendaries of Stafford seem to have wriggled 
out of this under the auspices of King John, who 
founded for them a new and larger church ad- 
joining the hermitage of St. Bertoline, which they 
dedicated to St. Mary. Into that they seem to 
have migrated, leaving the beautiful old parish 
church of St. Chad in the hands of the bishop, where 
as a prebend of Lichfield it has ever since remained. 
Gnosall never shook off the cathedral, though it re- 
tained some of its remarkable special privileges down 
to the time of the present incumbent. Of the other 
free churches we may have to speak presently. When 
Clinton died their "freedom" was by no means 

The Church was, of course, all this time the Church 
of the nation. But it was not yet established, that 
is, its relation to the State had not yet become clearly 
defined. Hence there was continual strife. Supre- 
macy alternated between king and pope. The abbots 
and bishops played off the one against the other, as 
it happened to suit their purposes. Neither church 
nor churchman, however sacred the one or eminent 
the other, was secure from sudden and violent 
changes. The growth of establishment was the 
establishment of peace. 

Hitherto the bishops had been nominated to the 
see by the kings as rightful patrons and nursing 
fathers of the Church. But an influence, which has 
been already discussed in the earlier volumes of this 


series of " Diocesan Histories " had recently been at 
work, and now King Stephen gives the monks of 
Coventry and the canons of Lichfield and Chester 
leave to elect a bishop. They met at Leicester before 
Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury. The monks 
assumed the sole right of election, and chose a 
monk, Walter Durdent, prior of Canterbury. He 
had been precentor of Lichfield, and might, therefore, 
be supposed acceptable here as bishop. But the 
canons both of Lichfield and Chester vehemently 
protested against the election, — objecting, it would 
seem, not so much to Durdent as to his election by 
Coventry only. They carried an appeal to Rome. His- 
torians differ as to the result. " The pope confirmed 
the election," says the Prior of Coventry.^ " The king 
gave Durdent to Lichfield," says Thomas of Chester- 
field, canon of Lichfield. The fact is, that elections 
of this sort were a matter of amicable arrangement 
between the king, the archbishop, and the leading 

October 2, 1149, Durdent was consecrated by the 
archbishop at the altar of Christ, in the cathedral 
of which he had been prior. Bishops Robert of 
London, Walter of Rochester, and Nicholas of Llan- 
daff, joined in the laying on of hands. He was 
enthroned at Coventry, but when he came to Lichfield 
the gates of the close were shut in his face, and he 

' "Monasticon," vol. iii., 220. An account of the bishop's 
tenants will be found in the William Salt Society's " Staff. 
Collections," vol. i., 152, &c. Walter Peche had land at 
Pipe; Rabel Durdent had land at Wall, 1164, — both under the 

Professor Stubbs, preface to "W. of Coventry," vol. ii., xl. 


began his rule by hissing excommunication at the 
canons through the bars. How the storm was stilled 
we have no record. 

The struggles of the monks and greater collegiate 
churches for freedom from, if not supremacy over, 
the bishops — a freedom which, extending to the parish 
churches appropriated to them, ever more narrowed 
the authority of the bishops — now grew intense^ 
Monk though he had been, Durdent, when ac- 
cepted at Lichfield, drew his secular canons round 
him, and prepared to secure all that his predecessors 
had won in the struggle with the rising tide of monas- 
ticisni. Coventry Abbey was, of course, held fast. 
He and the prior were summoned by the monks to 
Rome, where it was agreed that the bishop should 
keep the abbey as a monastic cathedral, like St. 
Augustine's at Canterbury, but that the prior should 
have the first voice in the episcopal elections. 

Durdent died at Rome, December 7, 1159, and 
his body was brought to Coventry. 

The Pipe Rolls of Henry H. show the spread of 
agriculture in his time. The bishop's farm labourers 
were busy clearing his swamps about Rugeley, and, 
in their zeal, seem to have included some of the 
firmer land of Cannock Chase, which belonged to 
the king. Thereupon the bishop was called to account, 
and charged ;^ioo for the royal woodland which he 
had grubbed up. The magnitude of the sum shows 
either great wrath toward the bishop, or great dili- 
gence on his part as a farmer. 

We get a glimpse of the humbler Church life of this 
same period from " The Chronicle of Dale Abbey." 


A certain pious baker at Derby was wont every 
Sunday to bring the bread left in his shop to be 
given to the poor in the church of St. Mary, which 
then stood at the head of a large parish. One day, 
when indulging in an after-dinner nap, he dreamt 
that the Blessed Virgin called him to a hermit's life 
at a place which was named to him as Deepdale. 
He started thither, and when passing through the 
village of Stanley, wondering where Deepdale was, 
he heard a woman bid her child, " Drive the cows to 
Deepdale" (an indication that lands were still open to 
common pasture in East Derbyshire). The man fol- 
lowed the cows, and fixed on a lonely cell as his hermit- 
age. There afterwards rose the stately abbey of Dale. 

Another phase of contemporary Church life is 
startling to lovers of the good old times of Roman 
supremacy. The Normans, it appears, trafficked freely 
in Church livings and advowsons. One of them, 
Enison, is said to have sold the parish church of 
Stone for a good horse and a fur coat. ^ ' Domesday 
Book notes that the owner of a Derby church "might 
dispose of his tythes as he would," i.e., of the rectory 
of his church and not merely its advowson. And 
the late very learned antiquary, the Rev. R. W. 
Eyton, author of the " Antiquities of Shropshire," in 
the last paper which he published, a paper, namely, on 
"Staffordshire Charters," printed in the second volume 
of the William Salt " Collections," 2 writes: "This 

1 See the "Staffordshire Cartulary" in the W. Salt Society's 
** Collections," voh ii. 

"^ " Collections for a History of Stafifordshire," published by 
the William Salt Archaeological Society, vol. ii., 211. 


Osbert, here" — i.e.^ in a charter grantmg Castle Church 
Stafford to the canons of Stone— "here called 'my 
chaplain,' was a creature of the era at which the 
charter passed (1138-1147). The charter itself indi- 
cates that this Osbert held the chapelry .... with 
its appurtenant churches, lands, and tythes, the 
livings of Tyshoe and Great Woolford in Warwick- 
shire, under Robert de Stafford, and that Osbert 
concurred with that baron in conferring all three 
benefices on the priory of Stone. Osbert's position 
in this charter was probably that of a middleman or 
agent for the sale or disposal of churches in legal 
form .... Notwithstanding his seeming liberality, he 
remained a great pluralist. The church of Swinnerton 
was at that time portionary. Both its incumbents 
were named Osbert : one of the two was probably 
the pluralist. Their title came to be assailed by the 
canons of Stone. They lost the preferment by a 
decree of Bishop Durdent." ^ 

Another trafficker appears on the scene about the 
same date. Robert, archdeacon of London, and 
Osbert together lay claim to the living of Bradley 
on the Stafford barony. It is pleasing to find that 
Bishop Durdent was more than a match for both. 
Osbert bore the name of " de Diddlebury," from his 
holding also the rectory of Diddlebury in Salop. 
He was buying livings for Stone priory, and Robert 
probably for Lilleshall Abbey. Both these houses 
were to be filled with Austin canons ; and it may be 
that the founders intended their canons to be active 
in parochial work. If so, they were sorely mistaken. 

' The Archdeacon of Stafford conducted the inquiry. 


About this time another feature of mediaeval piety 
was developed : the Maison-Dieu began to appear. 
This House of God was a home of mercy wherein 
a band of clergy devoted themselves, as fellows under 
the direction of a master, to the tender care of lepers. 
The unhealthy dwellings of the period, the coarse 
swillings of bad fermented liquor, the exceedingly 
poor and unwholesome food produced a continual 
crop of horrible skin diseases, which required the 
separation of the patient and the strenuous help of 
devoted hands. At Derby, therefore, at Chesterfield, 
Ashburne, and Locko in Derbyshire, at Stafford, 
Lichfield, and elsewhere, arose the Lepers' Hospital, 
generally dedicated to St. Leonard. It was mostly 
about half a mile out of the town, substantially built, 
and endowed to afford the best of food and medicine. 
The chapel was open to the hall, so that patients in 
bed could hear divine service. But the ban of separa- 
tion must have made the life a hard one. They had 
even their own burial-grounds, wherein they laid each 
other to rest. That at Stafford has lately been iden- 
tified by the present writer. It lies about a couple 
of hundred yards from the site of the hospital ; and, 
among the many skeletons which have from time to 
time been disturbed there, were the bones of a priest 
with a chalice ^ by his side. No duty seems to have 
been more clearly set before the minds of men in 
those turbulent times than that of living a better life 
than was then common : and this the Church did by 
the institutions of the age. 

The poor also came in for a share of care. A 

' Of ^^hich chalice there is a drawing in the Salt Library. 


massive building still in part remains at Stafford, 
which is now used as a public-house/ but which was 
once the hospital of St. John, a home and church of 
Norman date for poor old men. 

Richard Peche, archdeacon of Coventr}', and son 
of the former bishop of that name, was, notwith- 
standing his birth, the first bishop unanimously 
elected by both chapters. He was consecrated in 
1161 by the Bishop of Rochester, in the presence 
of Archbishop Theobald, who, in his last illness, had 
been carried into the chapel to be present at the 
service. In 11 62 he laid hands upon the head of 
Thomas a Becket, when he was consecrated to the 
primacy, and, soon after that luckless prelate was mur- 
dered, he showed his sense of the crime by founding 
a priory of Austin canons in a pleasant valley by the 
side of the Sow near Stafford, on the fringe of his epis- 
copal estate, and boldly dedicating it to the memory 
of the martyr, 1180. He is said by some to have 
been sent by Henry, as joint viceroy, into Ireland, — 
perhaps to remove him out of the arena of home 
politics; but more probably Richard Pek, Richard 
of the Peake, was the real viceroy. 

Peche, like some other of our bishops, seems to 
have remembered his kith and kin — not by giving 
them good livings or canonries, but by settling them 
as permanent tenants on the episcopal lands. 

Finding his end approach, Peche resigned his 
bishopric and retired on a small daily pension — 
amounting in all to 40s. — into his priory of St. Thomas, 

' The " White Lion," Lichfield Road. 


and put on the white surplice and black cap of a 
canon, to wait for death in the character of " a priest 
of prayer." He lingered only from the Michaelmas, 
1 182, to October 6th, and when he died was buried 
before the altar in the priory church. 

Derbyshire had also its abbey in memory of 
St. Thomas, Robert Fitz Ralph, in 1 183, building 
Beauchief in a silent valley near Sheffield, and filling 
it with Pr^monstratensians. 

On the resignation of Bishop Peche, the Stafford- 
shire temporalities of the see were put by the king 
into the hands of Thomas Noel, who held them for 
three quarters of a year. They sprang from four 
sources, namely, manorial rents, visitation fees, — 
archidiaconal senages they were called, — episcopal 
perquisites, perhaps fines and profits of courts, and 
forest pannage. The total value was ;^i23. 15s. 2d. 
for the three quarters. Bishop Peche had augmented 
the deanery at the rate of twenty-five shillings for the 
nine months, and the co7nmuna or common income 
of the resident canons by four marks. The noto- 
rious John Cumin, archbishop of Dublin, one of 
King Henry's ambassadors to Rome during his con- 
test with Becket, had then a prebendal stall at Lich- 
field, to which the bishop's revenue contributed 4os.^ 

About this time lived Simon the Sage, or Simon 
Sapiens, a clerk of Lichfield. He was the bishop's 
tenant at Freeford — where the lepers' hospital stood — 
and elsewhere, and left at his death in 1 184 a daughter 
and heiress, — Petronella le Sage. The allusions to 

' Pipe Roll, Henry. 


her in the Pipe Rolls show the legitimate position 
of married clergy in the eyes of the civil law. As in 
the case of the Peche family, mere personal epithets 
became family surnames. 

Gerard Puella, or La Pucelle, was next chosen 
by the monks of Coventry. He was canon of Salis- 
bury, and with Petrus Blesensis, had been domestic 
chaplain to Richard, archbishop of Canterbury, a 
favourer of monks. The two chaplains were cele- 
brated men. They were among the earliest professors 
of ecclesiastical or canon law, which was just then 
being systematised and codified, and were famous 
throughout Christendom for eloquence and skill. 

Gerard was consecrated at Canterbury, Sept. 25, 
1 183, and having been enthroned at Coventry came 
to Lichfield, where, when the canons refused to 
enthrone him, he remarked, Unica est sponsa mea, 
nee habeo duo eubicula " (" I have but one diocese, 
and must I have but one cathedral ? "). 

Lichfield never appreciated the godly man. In 
four months he died, probably by poison, and was 
carried away to Coventry for burial. At Canterbury, 
where he was known and loved, his yearly obit was 
celebrated with the honours of an archbishop. 

During the vacancy which now occurred, Eugenius, 
bishop probably of Ardmore in Ireland, visited the 
diocese, and received 5 s. a day out of the episcopal 
revenues. The deanery, endowed out of the bishop's 
lands, w^as now worth ;^28.i The bishopric had 
increased to ;^i79 a year, or ^\\ more than it was 
in 1 183. 

' See W. Salt, "Collections," vol. ii., 207. 


The diocese was now permanently divided into 
the archdeaconries of Derby, Stafford, Chester, and 
Coventry. Ricardus Archdiaconus (R. Peche), 
appears as witness in a charter which the Rev. R. W. 
Eyton assigns to the year 1130. Robert Avas Arch- 
deacon of Stafford before 11 26, and Clinton's dapifer. 
Gorso, steward of the see in 1130, had a son William, 
who was in 1139 appointed Archdeacon of Chester.i 

' Ibid. If Clinton organised the archdeaconries, he did so 
before his consecration. But the fact that R. Peche was Arch- 
deacon of Coventry points rather to the elder Peche as intro- 
ducing the order into this diocese. N.B. — The connexion 
between the office and the stewardships of the see. 




Election Quarrels — Strife between Bishops and Monks — Re- 
modelling of the Cathedral Fabric — A Traitor Bishop — 

A STRANGE character now comes upon the scene — a 
character in the person of Bishop Nunant, or Novant, 
regular, secular, political, and religious, or anything 
but religious, by turns. 

Hugh de Nunant (1184-1199), a Carthusian 
prior, was apparently nominated to the see of 
Coventry and Lichfield by the Crown at Christmas, 
1 1 84; and it is worthy of remark that, though not 
consecrated until January, 1188, he came at once into 
possession of the temporalities of the see. 

Giraldus Cambrensis thought him a man of 
wonderful piety and eloquence ; Hoveden calls him 
singularly wicked. Before his consecration he was 
appointed legate, and sent into Ireland to crown 
Prince John; in 1189 he assisted at the coronation 
of Richard, and in 1190 he was summoned to that 
king's council in Normandy. As bishop, he was 
remarkable for his hatred of the monks, and was but 
newly consecrated when he took steps for strengthen- 
ing his hands against them, levelling his first 


measures against unfortunate Coventry. Proceeding 
to the place, he held a visitation in the priory church, 
and so exasperated the monks by his taunting words 
that they rushed in fury upon his chair and broke 
his head with a cross. But the astute bishop turned 
the assault to advantage. While yet black and blue 
he appeared before the king at Westminster ; told 
his tale wdth force at the council board ; got leave 
to turn the monks out, and to fill the stalls with 
secular canons. The monks remained dependent on 
him for bread, since he held their estates, and they 
were dead to the world ; and he kept them so ill as 
to have neither pluck nor power to appeal against 
him. But one of them contrived to get away to 
Rome, where, though he pleaded to pope after pope 
in vain, as long as Nunant retained King Richard's 
favour, he doggedly hung on at the papal court, 
begging his bread and biding his time.^ 

The Pipe Rolls, meanwhile, give us some curious 
glimpses of this strange bishop. It seems that he 
lost no opportunity of strengthening his secular 
minsters, and always at the cheapest rate. When 
Richard I. is raising money for his crusade at Easter, 
1 190, Nunant buys the manors of Cannock and 
Rugeley for his bishopric for twenty-five marks, or 
j£i6 13s. 4d. At the same time, and perhaps by the 
same means, he obtained a grant of freedom from 
fines in cases of murder and robbery on the lands 
belonging to his chapters at Coventry, Lichfield, 

' At the assizes, \vhich, by the way, were always held at 
Lichfield, in 1205, a plaintiff swore of Nunant that, m et 
injustc, he had instituted the Archdeacon of Stafford to Cheadle. 


Chester, Shrewsbury, and Gnosall. A year later, 
1 191, he is sheriff of Staffordshire, farming with 
the taxes of that county the manor of Trentham, 
which was the richest of the Crown lands in Stafford- 
shire. From 1 191 to II 93 he held also the shrie- 
valties of Warwick and Leicester, having paid the 
king two hundred marks for the three. 

But secular business was Nunant's ruin. The Pipe 
Rolls, which show how he farmed the taxes, give the 
first glimpse of the rock upon which his fortunes 
split. It happened thus. In 1191 Prince John set 
himself to undermine the authority of the absent 
king. Richard had left John in charge of a large 
tract of the midland counties under Longchamp, 
bishop of Ely, who was chancellor of England. The 
chancellor was a foreigner whom the English hated. 
The Rolls show that Longchamp had to insist upon 
Nunant keeping peace in Staffordshire. Nunant then 
spent p^9 2S. 6d. on ten sergeants-at-arms, who were 
to act as police and to keep malefactors down. But 
the " malefactors " would not be kept down. They 
were Saxons whom Prince John was rallying round 
himself, and Nunant was hesitating whether or not he 
should himself join them. Yet for a while longer he 
sulkily discharged the duties of underling to Long- 
champ, and at his bidding spent jQ2(i on fortifying 
a Leicestershire castle against the Saxons. At the 
same time he busily farmed his own estates, and was 
pushing on the clearing of land in the neighbourhood 
of Cannock. 

Next year, 1192, he called Robert, his brother, to 
help him with the Staffordshire taxes, appointing him 



under-sheriff. This brother seems to have brought 
misfortune with him. In 1191 the bishop had been, 
as we have seen, at least professedly loyal to Richard, 
and had even acted as a mediator between Prince 
John and the Archbishop of Rouen, whom the king 
had sent into the country to repress the rising dis- 
loyalty of the Saxons. He had also persuaded John 
to give up the royal castles which he had seized, 
himself taking possession of Peake Castle in the king's 
name. But, when his brother Robert joined him, the 
bishop went over altogether to John's side; accepting, 
however, what seems too much like a bribe, and that 
bribe nothing else than the parish church of Bake- 
well, in Derbyshire. 

The church of Bakewell, in the Peake, was then, as 
indeed it was long afterwards, the best endowed in 
the diocese. Its ample revenues supported a rector 
and three prebendaries. On week-days these said 
the services together in the mother church, and on 
Sundays ministered also among the adjacent depen- 
dent chapelries. John, as patron of the rectory, gave 
it by way of appropriation into the bishop's hands as 
an augmentation of his episcopal property. The 
bishop made the gift over to his cathedral at Lich- 
field. Thenceforth the revenues of Bakewel' ^^cre 
drained away from the parish ; the united worship of 
its ancient minster ceased ; and, of the clergy found 
there a hundred years later, two were begging their 

But the bishop's fortunes fell with Bakewell. The 
king was now in prison abroad, and the bishop con- 
spired with John to keep him there. Robert Nunant 



was sent to negotiate this evil business with PhiHp. The 
king heard of his coming, and sent for him. " Stay 
here as hostage for me/' he pleaded. " I am the 
man of Count John," was Nunant's proud reply. But 
Richard soon got free, and reckoned fiercely with the 
traitors. Robert Nunant fell into prison for life. 
Within a month after the King's landing, the bishop 
was deposed from his see, and deprived of the 
shrievalty of Staffordshire, which till then had remained 
in his hands (April lo, 1194). One of the great 
Staffordshire magnates of the time, Hugh Pipard, was 
now made guardian of the temporalities of the see.i 

In vain Nunant had advised the king to send all 
monks to the devil ; in vain had he sworn in Convo- 
cation that if he could have his way he would strip 
every cowled head in England. In vain had he 
turned them out of Coventry. The monk at Rome 
now got a hearing. His patience had outlived two 
popes j the third his cunning outwitted. The chroni- 
clers say that he was admitted to the pope in full 
conclave. Being roughly repulsed, he assumed some- 
thing of prophetic strain, and hinted that his holiness 
was rapidly drifting to the fate which had overtaken 
his two unfavourable predecessors. " Hear ye what 
this fiend says?" exclaimed the pontiff"; and then 

* The lands of the see were now : — Staffordshire — Lichfield, 
Brewood, Eccleshall, Baswich, Longdon, and Hey wood; 
Salop — Frees; Derby — Sawley; Wai^wick — Bishop's Itchington, 
Chadshunt, Bishop's Tachbrook, Coventry, Southam, Hard- 
wick, andWichford. — W.S., "Collections," ii., 64, 70. From 
Pipard's account it seems that one of the tenants held by the 
service of a "sore sparrow-hawk." 


turning to the monk, swore that by St. Peter he should 
have his way. The letter was written that very 
morning to order the Archbishop of Canterbury to 
change the canons of Coventry Cathedral for monks 
again. When they were restored, the prior obtained 
a foothold of his own, from which no subsequent 
bishop displaced him. 

The annals of Burton say that Nunant got his 
bishopric back again for 5,000 marks in 1194 j but he 
never recovered Richard's favour. And the chroni- 
clers have a characteristic tale of his dying days. 
Overtaken by sickness, as he in his turn went to 
complain at Rome, he sent, say they, for monks to 
tell them how bitterly he regretted his harshness to 
their orders, and to beg their acceptance of the goods 
and chattels he was carrying with him, in return for 
their forgiveness and the frock of a monk to die in. 
Dugdale adds, that he condemned himself to burn in 
purgatory until the Day of Judgment. He died 
March 27th, 1199, and was buried among the monks 
at Caen. 

An unwonted figure here flits hurriedly across 
he scene. Archbishop Hubert, of Canterbury, as 
viceroy, passed through Lichfield at the head of a 
strong royal force in the summer of 1195. AVhat an 
idea of bishops the men of the time must have had ! 
But that such bishops could exercise spiritual authority 
is evident from this same archbishop's proceedings at 

At this time Richard de Dalham, dean of Lich- 
field for more than forty years, bought his peace for 
ten marks. 

G 2 


When Nunant was gone, the election of a successor 
was the occasion for another display of the grasping 
character of the monks. Their policy being one of 
opposition to, and encroachment on, the old diocesan 
constitution of the Church of England, it was of 
course important that, as they had obtained a voice in 
the election of the bishop, they should choose one 
friendly to themselves. The canons of Lichfield, 
and perhaps those of Chester also, being electors, 
were not likely to endorse their choice, especially 
since the one cathedral held to King Richard, and 
the other to Prince John. The contest was, therefore, 
unusually keen. The prior of Coventry lay sick at 
Canterbury when the election came on before the 
archbishop in Tondon. But he sent a couple of 
monks with his letters patent to name Geoffrey de 
MuscHAMP 1 for the bishopric ; and when the name 
was formally proposed one of them broke out into 
a jubilant Te Deum, as if the election were complete, 
though the canons of Lichfield had not voted. "Who 
made you cantor here ? " growled the Archdeacon of 
Stafford, a strong partisan of Prince John, Muschamp 
being King Richard's candidate. " I am cantor here, 
and not you," was the curt reply — a hint that, as the 
canons of Lichfield were none too loyal, the monks 
of Coventry were inclined to usurp the functions of , 
sole electors. Lichfield, indeed, being thus under \ 
royal displeasure had not even been invited by 

' Muschamp had distinguished himself whilst Archdeacon of 
Cleveland by throwing sacred oil sent from Southwell upon a 
dunghill, because it had been consecrated by a suffragan of York 
who was just then under a cloud. 


Coventry to the solemnity,^ and, when Muschamp was 
consecrated, had to be content with a feeble protest 
agamst his election. But when he died, October 6th, 
1208, they secured his body for burial in their old 
diocesan cathedral, in spite of an appeal to the 
contrary by the monastic chapter. 

The next election was even more quarrelsome, 
Lichfield being this time in favour, for John was 
king. It happened at a critical moment, namely, 
in the time of the Interdict, when John was holding 
out against the appointment of Stephen Langton 
to the archbishopric of Canterbury, and when the 
Church was transferring all its influence to support 
the people against royal tyranny. The monks chose 
their prior, Joibert, and sent their deed of election 
to the incoming archbishop beyond sea. When 
the king heard of it he stopped the ports, and 
seized the prior's barony, but that was redeemed for 
300 marks. King John suggested that his faithful 
friend, the Archdeacon of Stafford, should be elected 
bishop, but Coventry refused. After that, he called 
the chapter before him at Tewkesbury, and proposed 
the Abbot of Binesdon ; but they declined him. At 
Nottingham Castle he asked them to elect either the 
Abbot of Binesdon or Richard de Marisco ^ ; they 
would have neither. Then a meeting of both chapters 
was held in the royal presence ; and when John 
threatened to annihilate the prior and all his order 
both monks and canons broke forth in a defiant 

' "Walter of Coventry," ii., 120. 

■■* Archdeacon of Richmond, and chancellor at the end of 
John's reign. 


Te Deum. Finally, the monks persisted in electing 
their prior \ the canons had chosen Walter de Grey, 
who was Lord Chancellor and afterwards Archbishop 
of York ; but, as the chapters were not unanimous, the 
pope's legate persuaded them to make another elec- 
tion. They agreed upon William de Cornhill, 
archdeacon of Huntingdon, and he was consecrated 
Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, January 23, 12 15. 
This election, as narrated in the "Monasticon" in 
the words of one of the priors of Coventry, gives us 
an interesting glimpse of the pluck and spirit with 
which English Churchmen of that day, who were now 
the only champions of the people against the tyranny 
of king and nobles, held out against electing a mere 
courtier. Unlike other monastic bodies, Coventry 
Abbey, in the struggles of John's time, outshines the 
older cathedral in dogged opposition to royal dicta- 
tion. Whilst at Nottingham Castle, six of its monks 
were waiting outside the royal chamber. Fearing lest 
the prior and two of their number who had gone in to 
see the king should be scared into the promise of an 
unpopular election, they made up their minds to 
betake themselves away, so as to reserve their votes. 
Fulk de Cantilupe shut the castle gate in their faces, 
and bore off the keys, swearing, in the low language 
of the time, per linguam Dei, that they should not 
leave till they had made a bishop to the king's liking. 
Even, when the prior himself had been threatened 
and bribed into a promise to elect the Abbot of 
Binesdon, one of his monks declared, before both 
king and courtiers, that he would die rather than 
accept him as his bishop. Coventry Abbey was, of 


course, not only one of the cathedrals of the diocese, 
but, as founded before the Conquest, was as free from 
obligation to any of the barons as it was to the kings. 
The history of our diocese at this period furnishes 
a very convincing proof of the importance of the 
struggle between bishop and monks. The point 
about which they wrestled was, virtually, whether 
bishop Or pope should rule the great institutions of 
the English Church. The collegiate church of Wol- 
verhampton had been founded subject only to the 
immediate authority of the pope. Rejoicing in this 
precious freedom, the nine canons who were there at 
the end of the twelfth century became flagrantly 
wicked. They misused their revenues and position 
so abominably as to be the common talk and song of 
the streets. Their church stood in a pleasant rural 
district, amid shady woods and bracing hills. The 
great Baron of Dudley, lord of their town, probably 
set them no good example ; and for the monks of 
Worcester, to whom their Church was subject, they 
cared nothing. The bishop of the diocese had no 
direct authority over them ; but it is perhaps indicative 
of that bishop's influence that Richard I. sent Petrus 
Blesensis (Peter of Blois), the chronicler, who had 
been brother-chaplain at Canterbury with Gerard la 
Pucelle, to be their dean. The good man's heart 
was sadly wrung by their badness. With the canons 
whom he found in the church he could do nothing ; 
and, as often as he appointed a better clergyman to a 
vacant stall, the old ones refused to associate with 
him, and stole his property and ran away with it to 
the woods, where they spent it on their lusts. Peter 


wrote an account of all this to Pope Innocent, their 
distant bishop. They were deaf as adders, he said, 
and gloried in their shame. In 1200, he resigned 
his deanery into the hands of the Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, and departed — probably broken-hearted — 
into obscurity. But Archbishop Hubert was equal 
to the occasion. Secure in the king's favour, he 
came down — probably at the head of troops — upon 
the offending canons, and deprived them all, driving 
them off as often as they reappeared. In order to 
set a better example to the neighbourhood, he laid 
the foundations of an abbey about St. Peter's, and 
intended to invite stern and strict Cistercian monks 
to fill it. But death cut short his work; and the 
secular college, purified and replenished with clergy, 
went on in better life. 

An important change now took place at Lichfield, 
The cathedral, scarcely yet fifty years old, had become 
antiquated. Clinton's structure was massive and 
cruciform, with a broad chancel, whose foundations 
still lie under four of the more modern bays of the 
present choir. This chancel had then a semicircular 
eastern apse, upon the chord of which the altar stood. 
A procession-path swept round it. The bishop's 
throne was behind the altar, facing west, and the 
canons' stalls curved out from it westwardly along 
the apse. The choir-stalls stretched under the 
lantern, or crossing, into the nave, as at Buildwas and 
Lilleshall. The nave was about two-thirds of its 
present length, and probably divided from its aisles 
by rounded pillars, supporting heavy pointed arches 
on square cushion capitals, as at Buildwas.. 


In the days of Nunant, Clinton's rounded apse was 
removed to make way for a square-ended choir of far 
greater length, which stretched eastwardly from the 
nave for seven bays, and provided for bishop, and 
choir, and canons within the screen and in their pre- 
sent decani and cantoris arrangement. To this chancel 
aisles were probably soon added. In 1220 the present 
south transept was built, and the present chapter- 
house and north transept some twenty years later. 

The first extant statutes of the cathedral date from 
Hugh de Nunant.^ They seem to recognise the fact 
that Lichfield had its own ancient cathedral " use," 
with which the bishop did not then interfere. He 
adds a few liturgical notes on minor matters. They 
are all such as might have been penned by an ad- 
vanced Anglican of to-day. There were four bells in 
the tower — the " smallest bell," the " sweet bell," the 
" great bell," and her " companion." Each of these 
had a well-known voice ; and, whilst they were mostly 
to be grouped in different couples for ringing the 
hours, they were all to peal out in chorus on great 
festivals, and "whenever God permitted a miracle to 
be wrought " at the shrine of St. Chad. A lesser, 
but equally well-defined, ringing was appointed when 
the shrine was carried forth into the diocese to col- 
lect alms, and when it came back. The whole system 
of ringing was, indeed, a code of signalling which, in 
those clockless times, tolled out, far and wide, the time 

' So the "Monasticon." But, from the mention of the pre- 
bend of Bolton in the "Statutes" ascribed to Nunant, it is 
likely that they are those of a later bishop. The prebend was 
not founded until much later. Perhaps Weseham revised them. 


of day and what services the brethren of the minster 
were about to begin. The curfew was rung at seven 
o'clock. Nunant also settled the order of business 
in chapter ; it was to be preceded and followed by a 
short service of prayers and psalms. He clearly de- 
fined also the duties of the cathedral clergy. The 
archdeacons, he said, were not cathedral officers, 
except him of Chester, who had a stall as prebendary 
of Bolton. 

Some points in these statutes strike one. The 
brethren were reminded to ask God's protection 
though they lived within strong walls and barred gates. 
A sense of military danger was ever present; the 
times were rude. The memory of the dead was care- 
fully cherished — a beautiful testimony to the comfort 
which hope in the resurrection has ever added to 
brotherly love. And in the directions for the employ- 
ment of deacon and sub-deacon, and for processions 
on high days — processions consisting of these officers, 
two incense-swingers, with three others in dalmatics, 
and three crosses, going before the gospeller, — we have 
a glimpse of the splendour which was concentrated on 
the singing of the Gospel in the first part of the Com- 
munion Service, and a hint at the means which the 
Church employed to teach rough men reverence for 
the Word of God, when first "these aisles of stones" 
were reared. 

The country was now Christian, at least in profes- 
sion. The cathedrals were, therefore, no longer great 
preaching stations ; they became simply places where 
worship was gloriously performed, and where the 
heart of the diocese uttered itself before God. 


King John favoured his many loyal friends in this 
diocese with frequent visits ; the episcopal manors, 
where the bread of the Church was to be devoured, 
being, as a rule, much more distinguished by his 
presence than the royal chapels. In March, 1200, 
he set out from Bolsover — of which castle, by the way. 
Bishop Nunant was at one time guardian — and came 
by Derby and Burton to Lichfield, where he spent 
two days (April 2-4). On the 4th of April he was at 
Brewood, where the bishop had then a manor-house, 
and soon afterwards a park. In 1204 he came again 
to Lichfield, March 7-10, spending March 13 to 15 
at Bridgenorth ; in 1206 he was at Brewood and 
Lichfield; in 1207 at Brewood; in i2i5at Lichfield 
and Bridgenorth ; in 12 16 twice at Shrewsbury and 
once again at Bridgenorth. Stafford, Penkridge, 
Tettenhall, and Wolverhampton, though possessing 
"royal free chapels," as did Bridgenorth and Shrews- 
bury, were never visited by John, though they almost 
lay in his way. The bishop's castle of Eccleshall was 
now fortified ; but its new and strong walls never 
gave John shelter. 

During the Interdict, and in the vacancy of the see 
which followed Bishop Muschamp's death, John had 
given the deanery of Lichfield to Ralph Nevill, one 
of his courtiers, who was very nearly lord-chancellor.^ 

On Nevill's elevation to the see of Chichester, in 
1222, Bishop Cornhill gave the canons leave to elect 
a dean to succeed him, and they chose William of 
Manchester, — one of the most interesting characters 

' " Aiclireologia," xxxii., 93. 


of the time. He ruled the cathedral from the end 
of 12 22 to his death, Feb. 7, 1253. He seems to 
have been as remarkable for humility as for practical 
wisdom. On the death of Bishop Cornhill, in 1223, 
he acted on behalf of the canons of Lichfield, and 
proved more than a match for Jeffrey, prior of 
Coventry, and his monks. They, as usual, tried to 
usurp the sole right of election, and appointed Jeffrey 
bishop. The dean appealed to the archbishop, and 
he again to the king, who passed the matter on to the 
pope. The archbishop in the meantime ascertained 
that the secular cathedral had co-equal right of elec- 
tion with the priory cathedral, and decided against 
the right of Jeffrey to the see. Thereupon both 
cathedral chapters appealed to Rome, and so gave the 
successor of Innocent HI. an opportunity of exercis- 
ing the power which King John had put into the 
pope's hands when he agreed to become his vassal. 
After some show of mediation, Honorius asked to be 
allowed to settle the dispute. Both bodies consenting 
to this, he took the nomination into his own hands, 
and appointed and consecrated a very able doctor. 
The king and clergy of England agreed to accept 
him. So Alexander de Stavenby (i 224-1 238) 
came to Lichfield. 

In the days of the next pope, Gregory IX. (1227- 
1 241), whilst William of Manchester was yet dean, it was 
settled that the elections should be made alternately 
by each chapter in the presence of the other, the Prior 
of Coventry keeping, however, the first vote through 
all. The next election came on Stavenby's death, in 
1823, when another dispute was only avoided by the 


self-negation of the dean. The monks had chosen 
Wilham de Raleigh, but he preferred to accept Nor- 
wich, which was offered to him about the same time, 
and from which he contrived to translate himself to 
Winchester. Thereupon, the canons claimed the turn 
and elected the dean. The monks also claimed it, 
and elected Nicholas de Farnham, the queen's chap- 
lain and physician. The dean withdrew on seeing 
the excellent choice made by Coventry, and persuaded 
his chapter to accept Farnham " for the good of the 
Church." But the latter was equally modest ; " I am 
scarcely able to bear the burden of the priesthood," 
said he ; " never will I venture to become a bishop." 

From the fall of Nunant, forwards, the constitution 
of Coventry Abbey was settled. The bishops were 
still enthroned in the church as well as at Lichfield, 
and one or two of the abbey manors remained per- 
manently annexed to the see. The prior became 
lord of the barony, and as such sat in Parliament. 
But the bloom of his prestige was short, no prior 
making any mark on his times, after the oppressions 
inflicted on the abbey by Henry III.^ 

Had Nunant lived into King John's reign he might 
have retained Coventry as a secular cathedral, and 
the glorious old pile would probably have been 
standing now. 

' Walter of Coventry, the admirable chronicler, was probably 
a monk of St. Mary's, York. 




Early Coming of the Friars to Lichfield — A Friar Bishop — 

Bishop Alexander de Stavenby deserves more than 
passing notice. His episcopate marks the beginning 
of a new era. His work was more spiritual than that 
of his immediate predecessors. He was a man of 
vast learning, having studied in the celebrated Uni- 
versity of Bologna, and been for some years rector 
of the Divinity school at Toulouse, and was con- 
sidered to excel most of the philosophers and 
theologians of the age, having travelled far in pursuit 
of knowledge. Pope Honorius III. had a special 
reason for sending him to Lichfield. The exactions of 
Innocent HI. had startled Englishmen. Walter of 
Coventry tells us it was feared that England would quit 
its allegiance to the pope altogether. ^ Stavenby, 
therefore, came to his diocese and rapidly surveyed it. 
We hear of him finding out and pleading with an ex- 
communicated rebel in Cheshire in 1225. In Septem- 
ber 1226 he is .going back to Rome ostensibly on the 
king's business, for Henry refunds a. loan of four 
hundred marks which Stavenby has taken up from 
merchants, and gives him letters of commendation 

' II., 278. 


to persons about the pope. "The bishop," he says, 
" is a man provident and discreet, and devoted to the 
Holy Roman Church.'' ^ His journey may have 
connected the settlement of the election controversy, 
of which both Coventry and Lichfield were now 
grown weary. But it seems more likely that Stavenby, 
having surveyed his diocese and ascertained its 
needs, went back to Rome for conference with the 
moving spirits of the age, with a vieAV of trying at 
Lichfield a new system of evangelisation which had 
not yet spread over England. 

Here, indeed, many such systems had been tried : 
the parochial system with its fixed, and the cathedral 
with its itinerating, clergy ; the monasteries as houses 
of praying laymen, and the Austin priories as bands 
of praying-priests, had each in turn paled their fires 
before the rigid Cistercians. And still the world 
grew worse. Monks proved to be good farmers and 
excellent landlords. Under the shadow of the 
monastery towns grew up and prospered. A well-to- 
do abbey was a commercial colony of the best kind 
planted down in the waste. Round it — as at Build- 
was — sprang up workshops, and mills, and barns, and 
many a cluster of cottages, with the great church 
towering above all. But abbey prosperity was chiefly 
of this world, it little blessed the hearts of the 
adjacent inhabitants ; and between monk and canon 

^ Pat. Rot. 10 Hen. III. m. i dors. Stavenby sat at Oxford 
in 1227 as commissioner for the pope in hearing an appeal 
from canons and friars as to the building of the friars' oratory in 


the parochial clergy and their flocks were trodden 
down and disheartened. In 1225, for example, 
when the poor foresters of the Peake of Derbyshire 
had built themselves a chapel, to which the bishop had 
given right of burial and baptism, Lenton Priory and 
Lichfield Cathedral both came down upon it and 
fought a lawsuit for the tithes of the land which was 
growing into cultivation around it. The possession 
of property which had been the mainstay of the 
parochial clergy, being just enough to bind them to 
the people, was the bane of the monasteries, which 
were mostly filled with foreigners. The latter were 
acting like wedges driven into the solid fabric of the 
English Church. appeared, therefore, to thought- 
ful men that some agency was clearly needed which 
should help to revive religion in spite of "the religious," 
and to keep the people true to the allegiance which 
the popes had won. 

So Stavenby came to England and soon went back 
again to his patron, Honorius III. But in or before 
1229 he is here again and building a religious house 
at Lichfield, from which he hopes the much-needed 
new influences will radiate. 

The building of religious houses had by this time 
become a common event. That which Stavenby now 
planted in the poor western part of his central city 
was of a quite new sort — a friary. It was dedicated 
to a man recently dead, namely, St. Francis, founder 
of the Friar Minors, with all the enthusiasm with 
which, fifty years before, another bishop had reared 
the x\ustin Priory of Stafford to the fresh memory 
of Thomas a Becket. But, whereas the latter house 


had been designed for stationary clergymen whose 
work should be farming and praying, Stavenby's 
foundation was meant for an order of roving 
emissaries, possessing nothing, who were to scatter 
themselves over the diocese, to beg their bread, 
to mingle with the people, to visit the sick, to 
preach in church, market-place, and village green, 
and so to stir up the inner life of the laity. The 
movement proved to be one of great vitality. Houses 
of Grey Friars sprang up directly in Coventry,^ 
Stafford, Shrewsbury, and Chester; and one of the 
most distinguished members of the order, Alexander 
of Hales, the " Irrefragable Doctor," was made 
Archdeacon of Coventry, a dignity which he could 
hold in his professional poverty, since it was un- 

The friars revelled in their work. They went 
everywhere, commissioned to preach in any church, 
and to administer the offices of religion in any house. 
Their ready tongues and sparkling wit, their merry 
music and taking tales, soon made them popular 
with the ladies, at least, of their respective " limits " 
or districts. But their meddling with parochial work, 
their underselling, as it were, and denouncing the 
ministrations of the parish clergy, opened another 
sore in the constitution of the Church. The monks 
had taken the endowments of the parish churches. 
The friars now began to sweep up the voluntary 
offerings of the people, and to supplant the parish 
clergy in their spiritual work. They even added the 

' Their chapel at Coventry was being roofed in 1234. 


trade of pedlars to their multifarious character as 
general preachers, jesters, gossips, and minstrels; and 
after some years, namely, in 1281, the king had to 
take the Friar Minors of Stafford under his protec- 
tion from the common hucksters " who daily aggrieved 
them in the to^^Ti and county of Stafford." 

There was close friendship between Stavenby and 
the celebrated Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln. 
Both sought the help of the friars ; and an interesting 
letter, written by Grosseteste to the bishop, probably 
in 1236, the year before the latter died, shows that 
Stavenby was not devoted exclusively to the Minor 
Friars, for Grosseteste has to beg of him to withdraw 
his opposition to the Minors settling in Chester, 
whither the Black Friars had first come. It may be 
that, like his friend, our bishop found out that the 
introduction of the mendicant orders was not an 
unmixed good. But the letter rather seems to hint 
that he feared two houses of begging preachers would 
be unable to find subsistence in one and the same 

Though Stavenby left no registers, one or two in- 
teresting glimpses of his character may be gleaned. 
He was, it appears, in the habit of holding ordinations 
in various parts of his diocese, and, amongst others, at 
All Saints', Derby. His "Injunctions," preserved in 
Wilkins' " Concilia,'' show great earnestness of mind, 
and contain some very inquisitorial directions to 
clergy about confession and penance. The " Coram 
Rolls " of Edward I. show that he kept a strict eye 

1 Willmm Salt Society's "Collections," vol. i., 193. 


upon lay offenders. Hugh of Bishopsbury, or Bush- 
bury, had married within the prohibited degrees. 
Summoned to answer in Stavenby's court, he made 
over the advowson of the church of Penne to the 
bishops of Lichfield on condition that neither he 
nor his wdfe should be further troubled upon the 

It is said that Stavenby cleared himself from a 
suspicion of conspiracy with the earl marshal against 
Henry HI. by putting on his episcopal robes and 
solemnly excommunicating all traitors against the 
king's life. The incident shows that, though innocent 
of treason, he was no abettor of tyranny, and that he 
took a share in the brave stand made by the English 
barons against Peter des Roches and the foreign 
hordes who were then swarming to the court of the 
foolish young king. About the same time, a number 
of " chaplains and clerks " lay in Stafford Gaol, and 
were ordered to take their trial at a special gaol 
delivery, 1234. It may safely be concluded that 
neither pope nor king found cordial aid in this 
diocese to their combined oppressions and exactions. 
In the same year the bishop was again sent to Rome. 

The Patent Rolls of 1225 show a feeling of the 
time with regard to church and Sunday. The 
sheriffs of Stafford and Salop were directed to 
summon a gathering of the knights of the counties; 
those of Stafford at Stafford on the Sunday before mid- 
Lent, and those of Salop at Shrewsbury four days after- 
wards, to elect four of themselves for each hundred, to 
go through it and to take a fifteenth of all the move- 
able goods they could find, by \ray of tax. The books, 

H 2 


church ornaments, jewels, and vestments of the 
clergy were to be excepted, and the proceeds of the 
levy be stored up in cathedrals, abbeys, and 
priories, until the king directed whither they were to 
be sent. 

Bishop Stavenby's latter years were occupied with 
the affairs of State. In 1234 he was, as we have 
seen, sent to Rome on the king's business, and in 
1235 into France and Gascony to negotiate a truce 
with the French king. But he was at home at 
Haywood Park in 1235, when he blessed an abbot 
of Evesham. He died at Andover in December, 
1238, and was buried, as Cornhill had been, at 

Had Bishop Stavenby lived longer, it is not at 
all improbable that his opinions would have followed 
the course of Grosseteste's in their alienation from 
the Roman see, as they did in the ordination of 
vicarages. But, as it was, his earnest and impassioned 
preaching and his devotion to his duties and his 
patronage of the friars must have done much to 
rivet the chains with which the Church of England 
was now bound to Rome. 

In his days began the institution of chantries. The 
chantry consisted of the establishment of priests in 
parochial or cathedral churches, whose sole duty was 
to say daily masses for the soul of some dead person. 
The bishop himself endowed a chantry of St. Chad 
in the cathedral. Hugo Sotesby, a canon, endowed 
a chantry of St. Radegund the Virgin with his right 
in the service and profits of six men at Whittington, 
of another at Elmhurst, and in the service of four 


Others at Whittington. Nicolas de Ley endowed a 
third chantry with houses and land. 

In the late years of the twelfth and the opening of 
the thirteenth centuries, there was an intimate con- 
nexion between this diocese and Ireland. Richard 
of the Peake, often mistaken for Richard Peche, 
was joint chief justice in 1181. John Comyn, 
who had a stall at Lichfield, became the first suc- 
cessor of the patriotic Irishman, Laurence, archbishop 
of Dublin, Comyn was appointed because he was 
"not an Irishman." The second English archbishop 
was Henry of London, archdeacon of Stafford, who 
has been already mentioned in connexion with the 
election controversy. After his elevation to Dublin, 
Henry de London remained for a time in England 
in the king's council. As a spiritual baron of the realm, 
he was brave enough to protest against John's sur- 
render of the crown to Pandulf, the pope's emissary, 
and to refuse to sign the deed in which the disgrace- 
ful transaction was recorded. He was present, too, 
at Runnymede, advising John to sign the Great 
Charter. In 12 16 John gave to him and his suc- 
cessors, archbishops of Dublin, who should '' not be 
Irishmen," the royal free chapel of Penkridge, with 
its dependencies, lying in his former archdeaconry, 
as part payment of a heavy debt of money and 
gratitude.! His position in history is almost unique; 
he was both an adherent of John and a friend of the 
people. He maintained the old ecclesiastical position 
by the king's side, and yet warmly advocated popular 

' Dr. Alton's "Archbishops of Dublin," S3. 


liberties. The latter aspect of his character was 
doubtless acquired during his residence in Stafford- 
shire among the secular clergy ; and it reflects a 
credit upon the older cathedral which might have 
been wanting, had his name been found side by side 
with that of Nunant as a close friend of John. 




Burton — Chester— Coventry — Darley, «S:c 

Sir Walter Scott has dubbed the abbey of Burton 
with a doubtful fame, as being the nursery from 
which sprang his celebrated "Friar Tuck."i We 
need hardly point out the mistake of deriving a 
" Barefooted Friar " from a benedictine abbey, or 
express surprise at meeting with such a character 
at all in the days of Richard I. There were no 
friars in England then. But the great novelist 
has hit upon one of the characteristics of Burton 
Abbey, namely, its good eating and drinking. 
On cook and kitchen successive abbots lavished 
endowments consisting of mills, rectories,^ small 
tithes, hogs, simnel cakes, wine, lands, &c., &:c., 
with such persistent reiteration as to account for 
the presence at the abbey of King John in 1200, and 
of a guest of like repute in 12 13. For at Michael- 
mas in that year, Nicholas, bishop of Tusculum, the 
pope's legate, came to England to remove the Inter- 

' Or his frock, rather. "Ivanhoe," ch. xxvii. 
^ Even the vicarage of beautiful Ham in Dovedale was dedi- 
cated to Burton Abbey kitchen. 

I04 lICHFlElLDi. 

diet. It was then that King John consented to 
become the vassal of Rome ; and the pope forth- 
with instructed his legate to fill up vacant English 
bishoprics and benefices without asking the consent 
of the patrons or regarding the fiitness of the nominees. 
This injustice raised a storm ; and Stephen Langton, 
though appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by the 
pope, determined to oppose it by an appeal to Rome. 
Gathering a council at Dunstable which endorsed 
his opinion, he sent its decision to the legate,^ 
who then lay at Burton Abbey^ with fifty horse- 
men and all the otherwise numerous trappings of 
an archbishop. But the legate was equal to the 
occasion, and immediately dispatched Pandulf to 
Rome to oppose the appeal. Then it was that 
Langton put himself at the head of the English 
barons, with the ever-memorable result of Magna 

Whilst Burton x\bbey was growing in wealth and 
kitchen capacity, the town of Coventry kept pace 
in progress with the town of Burton, but the priory 
cathedral itself fell into fresh difficulties. The monks 
held precious their right of electing the bishop, but 
found it much more difficult to disobey Henry III. 
than John. They adventured disobedience, however ; 
but the king's hand on several occasions lay heavily 
upon them ; and in the early part of his reign they 
had to ask the Austin canons of Darley, with whom 
they were always friendly, both to find a temporary 
home for some of their brethren and to render them 
other assistance, without which they must have dis- 
' Historical sketch oC the abbey, by Mr. Thomewill. 


persed. A trading compact, indeed, usually existed 
between the two monasteries, Coventry exchanging 
needles and soap with Darley for saddles and riding 
furniture. But, after the year 1250, the tide of 
prosperity set in again ; and amongst the numerous 
benefactions showered upon the priory were the ap- 
propriations of the two churches of St. Michael and 
Trinity with their chapels. In the fifty-fifth year of his 
reign, Henry III. gave them the privilege of having a 
coroner in the city, and of embodying the merchants 
in guild. The tradesmen of the town thus found 
themselves fostered by the cathedral-priory, and, in 
return, they heaped their gifts upon the Church until 
Coventry became a city full of glorious buildings. 

The work of the monks professedly was that of 
keeping themselves unspotted from the world. But 
their lands and learning made them men of " light 
and leading," and threw them, as it did the bishops^ 
into the van of all worldly progress. The great 
abbeys and cathedrals now appear as having huge 
farming colonies on their estates— Lichfield, Lenton, 
and Dunstable owning amongst them some fifty thour 
sand sheep on the Derbyshire hills. And the towns 
of the lowlands develope markets under the same 
fostering influences. Brewood gets its market charter 
in 1 22 1 through Bishop Cornhill, and Prees^ its 
market through Bishop Molend. Stone owes its- 
market to its prior ; and so it was in a hundred 

^ " The bishop had no pillory or tumberell or judgment, nor 
were offenders punished in the Assize of Bread and Beer." So- 
lenient were Church landlords. 


Many a town owes its very existence to its religious 
institutions. It was with Lichfield as with Coventry 
in this respect, though Lichfield never flourished like 
Coventry. Burton-on-Trent is, perhaps, a good 
example of an abbey town. Abbot Nicholas, who 
died in 1197, had founded Burton town, and built 
the first street there. Abbot Melborne, who died 
in 1 2 14, enlarged the town from bridge to bridge. 
Abbot Stafford built the Monk's Bridge at Eggington, 
to do which was, on the finding of a jury, " nobody's 
business." In a time of fire and flood, Abbot 
Laurence, to whom the town belonged, took no rent 
from the people ; and, during a great famine. Abbot 
Thomas Packington found the people employment 
in making a new street. 

Thus, tliough fenced off from the world by their 
rules and high walls, the monks were ever in street 
and market. Wayfaring men were continually coming 
and going, forcing them to keep almost open house, 
and to support kitchen and pantry with lavish hand. 

Moreover, as tliey maintained a large corre- 
spondence with brethren elsewhere, their cloisters 
Avere always full of news. So the abbey of Burton 
has an interest far beyond that of its bridges and 
beer. The " Chronicle" of its scriptorium is one 
of the most important, and, in some respects, 
the only source of our national history during the 
reign of Henry III. There is but one old manu- 
script copy of it extant, a quarto of parchment 
containing ninety-seven leaves of fourteenth-century 
writing, arranged in double columns, and prettily 
rubricated throughout. The record begins with the 


foundation charter of the abbey in 1004 ; its entries 
till 1 189 are meagre. Thence to 1201 it is a copy 
of Hoveden. In 121 1 the chronicle begins to be 
original and important, showing the deep and intelli- 
gent interest which the local monks took in the great 
matters of which news was brought into their abbey, 
and the rigid care with which they noted everything 
pertaining to the king, the bishop, and the Church. 

It contains copies of a large number of documents 
of the highest historical importance, though there is 
much less about Lichfield than might have been ex- 
pected. There are some interesting and unique bits 
of information about the doings and sayings of King 
John ; and occasionally the chronicler copies a letter 
which has been sent from the parliaments or great 
councils of the times. He also makes careful 
copies of local ecclesiastical inquiry papers, and has 
a full budget of papers relating to the election of 
Roger de Meuleng, canon of Lichfield and chaplain 
to the pope, to the see of Coventry and Lichfield. 
The election was made at Coventry. The commis- 
sary who had administered the diocese in spirituals 
during the vacancy of the see had been extremely 
severe. Grosseteste is spoken of in terms of deep 
veneration, and the chronicler shows the spirit of an 
English Churchman in his full record of the answers 
given by Englishmen to the demands of the pope for 

Turning now to other documents, we see from the 
Plea and other rolls of the time that monks were often 
in the law courts, and, owing to the shrewdness of 
their proctors, were frequently successful. It would 


seem thatheirs not seldom contested land left to monks^ 
and that the chapter-house meetings of the brethren 
were sometimes agitated by anxious deliberation. 
Take, for instance, the case of St. Thomas's, Stafford. 
The Austin canons were bound by their rule to 
abstain from law, yet this small brotherhood were 
wrangling, in the fortieth year of Henry III., with a 
Letitia Bek concerning a small farm at Hopton ; in 
the forty-second year, with Payn de Westeneys con- 
cerning rights in Tixall, and with Thomas Comyn 
about common in Gayton and Fradswell ; in the fifty- 
fifth year, with Geoffrey de Grisel about common in 
Haylesden ; and, in 1273, with Guy de Forr, master 
of the Knights Templars in England, concerning a 
ditch thrown down near Trentham. The list is not 
a long one ; but it is not small for a priory which was 
so poor as to obtain from Henry III. an order of 
exemption from the prise " of its carts as often as we 
travel in that neighbourhood." 

Many a noble family owes the fostering of its 
early greatness to the abbeys. " Nicholas, prior of St. 
Thomas, Stafford, did manumit Richard Norman, Ralph 
Norman, and John Norman, sons of William Norman, 
natives suos, 18 Richard II." — a simple record at the 
head of a pedigree which speaks volumes both for the 
prior of St. Thomas and his faithful slave, William. 
The noble house of Aston, long settled at Tixall 
Hall, sprang from Bishop Molend's dapifer. But the 
Abbot of Whalley, on the other hand, was the last 
to sell a slave in Lancashire, having in 1309 for one 
hundred shillings sterling, sold " one native with all 
his family and effects." 


The Prior of Birkenhead claimed a monopoly of 
the ferry, and sorely vexed the neighbourhood at 
one time by raising the fare from ^d. to ^d. "on the 
market-day at Lyverpol." 

The great abbey of Chester as yet hardly flourished. 
Time after time the Welsh ravaged, and high tides 
overwhelmed, their lowland farms on the Dee. But 
still the monks struggled on with their building, until 
the abbey became the heart of the fine old city. 

The town of Stone sprang up around its priory 
walls, and the prior obtained its market charter from 
Edward I. 

The Close Rolls of April, 13 lo, show how heavily 
the religious houses contributed to national expen- 
diture. Edward II. demanded from the Staffordshire 
monasteries the following supplies for his army when 
marching against Scotland : — 





Croxden . . . 

40 quarters 

100 quarters 








St. Thomas 




















Tutbury . . . 










Hilton ... 





Delacres ... 





Rocester ... 





Besides this, Burton, and its neighbour Tutbury, 
had to furnish sixty and fifty quarters of malt. Brew- 
ing was even then common in that locality. 




Patteshull — The Pope Spies an Opportunity — Clumsy Policy of 
Henry III. — Another Friar Bishop — The Wild Soldier 

The next bishop, Hugh de Patteshull (i 239-1 242) 
was chosen at the desire of the king. He was pro- 
bably a native of Patshull, in Staffordshire, and was, 
at all events, the son of Simon of Patshull, chief 
justice of England. He was treasurer both of England 
and of St. Paul's Cathedral. He seems to have 
continued the good pastoral work of his predeces- 
sors. We meet with him, for example, in the history 
of Ashburne. The church there, like many others — 
Croxden Abbey among the rest — was not consecrated, 
and the Dean of Lincoln drained away its revenues. ^ 
Without Avaiting for consecration himself, Bishop 
Patshull attacked the evil. In January, 1240, he 
made an order binding the Dean of Lincoln — Roger 
de Weseham — to accept only a certain small pension 
from the vicar. The vicar was to officiate himself at 
Ashburne with four curates, and to officer the chapel- 
ries with clergy who should be able both to officiate 
and to maintain hospitality. In May, 1241, the 
bishop consecrated the church in honour of St. Oswald,. 

^ Cox's "Derbyshire Churches," vol. iii., 363. 



king and martyr, and the fact was recorded on a brass 
plate which is still extant. 

Once again the promise of a noble episcopate was 
cut short. Patteshull died in " full strength" Dec. 7, 
1 241, after an episcopate of a year and a half. He 
was buried in the cathedral of Lichfield, before the 
altar of St. Stephen. The effigy from his monument 
is still in the cathedral. It represents a man ot 
powerful frame, with cleanly-shaven face and remark- 
ably plain attire. Some probably later hand has in- 
cised his boots and gloves with the jewel-holes which 
the monument may originally have lacked' ; and hence 
several worthy writers have hinted — not, perhaps, 
without a shadow of foundation— that Patteshull had 
the stigmata. 

Had Patteshull lived, his time would have be^n 
taxed for the king's business. Within a year of his 
appointment he was commissioned, with three others, 
to hear a case brought by the Seneschal of Chester 
against Llewellyn the Younger, son of the " former 
prince of North Wales."- Henceforward the bishops 
had much to do with the Welsh marches. 

The mind of Patteshull and the ceremonial deve- 
lopment of the age are perhaps illustrated by the 
cathedral statutes ascribed to him. He forbade talk- 
ing or laughing in choir, and ordered bowing towards 
the altar on entering, leaving, or crossing the chancel. 
As a rule, the Services were to be said standing, but 
the choir might sit during the long Psalmody of the 

' An eminent modern authority assigns this Pgure to Weseham 
(see page 117), and Weseham's to Patteshull. 
2 Pat. Rot. 25 Hen. III. m. 8. 


night office, as well as through the Lessons, and when 
not singing in the antiphonal parts of the Service. 
During the Glorias they were to stand towards the 
east. They were to wear black capes with surplices, 
and amices or hoods, but red might be used on great 
festivals. There were only four choristers until the dawn 
of the Reformation, when they were increased to twelve. 
The understanding which had been come to by 
Coventry and Lichfield before the pope in the days 
of Bishop Stavenby, did not prevent a fierce struggle 
with regard to the election of Bishop PatteshuU's suc- 
cessor.^ Richard Crasius, the abbot of Evesham, 
who had been blessed at Haywood, was urged upon 
Coventry Cathedral by the king. The prior voted 
for him, and he resigned the chancellorship of Eng- 
land in prospect of the bishopric. But the major 
part of the Coventry electors chose their precentor, 
William de Monte Pessulano, a very pious and learned 
man. The difficulty thus started was obviated by the 
death of Crasius. And then, rather than forego their 
choice of Pessulano, the stout monks of Coventry 
suffered greatly from the wrath of the king, to whom 
he was obnoxious. So heavily, indeed, lay the royal 
hand upon them, that they fled in all directions to 
other monasteries for refuge. 

^ " The appointments to the bishoprics were a constant matter 
of dispute. The freedom of election promised by John had 
resulted in a freedom of litigation, and little more. The attempts 
of Henry III. to influence the chapters were undignified and 
unsuccessful ; his candidates were seldom chosen; the pope had 
a plentiful harvest of appeals. Between 1215 and 1264 there 
were not fewer than thirty disputed elections carried to Rome 
for decision." — Stubbs' "Const. Hist.," vol. iii., 306. - 


Meantime, a council was assembled by the pope 
at Lyons. Thither went Passulano, and with tears 
and sighs unfolded his grief and resigned the 
bishopric. Thereupon the pope, still regarding 
England as a vassal kingdom of his own, ventured — 
this time without leave — to " provide " a bishop. 
Thanks to Bishop Grosseteste, who was then at 
Lyons, the appointment was that of a good man — 
Roger de Weseham^ (i 245-1 256), dean of Lincoln, 
A better man could hardly have been found. He was 
distinguished both by learning and piety, and had suc- 
ceeded Grosseteste, after a short interval, as lecturer in 
the famous Franciscan school in Oxford. He was con- 
secrated by Innocent IV. and the bishops of Here- 
ford and Lincoln at Lyons, February 19th, 1245. 
The king had kept the see vacant for nearly four 
years, during which time he had presented, among 
others, John de Francies, the Frenchman, to a pre- 
bend in the cathedral church of Lichfield, and 
Master Nicholas, of St. Alban's, to Penne Church. 

King Henry had visited the diocese in person in 
the autumn before Patteshull's death, and stayed at 
Lilleshall Abbey. When the bishop died, he had 
bidden the two chapters to elect a " pastor who 
should be devoted to God, needful to the rule of 
your churches, and useful to ourselves and our 
kingdom." He was very angry with his friend Pope 
Innocent for filling the see without consulting him, 
"to the prejudice of his dignity," and he seized its 

' Pegge's excellent tract upon this bishop is now in the Salt 
Library, r,t Stafford. 



endowments. But the pope — perhaps as a peace- 
offering — immediately proposed to make the royal 
chapels free from episcopal control.^ Weseham, 
however, in spite of both pope and king, went to 
work. He demanded admission to St. Mary's free 
chapel at Stafford to " celebrate orders." Against 
this the king appealed to Rome ; ~ but the bishop 
was admitted, and the canons of the free chapel 
rebuked and fined ; and in a year Weseham's pleasant 
manners, Avhich won all hearts, induced Henry to 
release the endowments of the see. So uncertain 
was papal favour, so fickle the English king ! 

In 1252 Weseham, keeping in mind the good ways 
of working which he had seen at Lincoln, issued a 
set of Visitation Questions, thirty-five in number. 
He asks about the life and conversation of his 
archdeacons and their families. Hitherto, the bishops 
had been great officers of State, who left the local 
oversight of their clergy to the archdeacons and 
the rural deans. The '' sumpnours " or " bull 
dogs " of the latter searched out and reported evil 
deeds. The archdeacons had been wont to visit 
attended by a goodly following of horses and hounds 
—hunting wild game, in fact, as they progressed 
from parish to parish. Weseham will inquire into 
this, and also into the acts of the rural deans. He 
wdll know whether the laity are getting Church 
l)roperty into their hands by way of ferm or lease. 
He asks whether clergy are incontinent, whether they 

' That is, beyond ihe reach of the bishop's ban of excom- 

- Tat. Rot. 27 February, 30 Hen. III. 


keep concubineSj or have female relatives living with 
them so as to raise scandal, or whether any of them 
are married. He. suspects witchcraft and sorcery. 
He wants to know whether the clergy frequent ale- 
houses and fight, or indulge in trade or usury, or go 
in non-clerical attire to market. He asks, also, as to 
clerical residence, licence, ordination, and simony, 
and wishes to know whether deacons act as priests 
in hearing confessions and consecrating sacraments. 
He has a question, too, as to the consecration and 
repair of churches, the fencing of churchyards, and 
the due keeping of communion vessels j and wishes 
to know whether the clergy duly keep the consecrated 
host and carry it solemnly to the sick, or improperly 
use the holy oil and balsam which the bishop has 

V blessed.1 

P The good bishop's health broke down in the 
middle of his work. In 1253 a suffragan, Brandon, 

^/7- bishop 9^ Ardacchen, probably Arsiagh, is officiating 
■ for him. In 1253 he induces the two cathedrals to 
agree to send an equal number of proctors to future 
elections of bishops, and sets the cathedral at Lich- 
field in order. The archdeaconry of Chester is now 
set apart as a prize to tempt men of power into the 

j diocese ; he annexes to it the rectory of Bolton as a 

' prebend, and so brings the archdeacon into chapter. 
Round him he gathers some of the best men of the 
time. His friendship with Grosseteste is cemented 
by the endowment of a chanting priest, who should 
pray for the bishops of Lichfield and Lincoln, and 

' " Burton Annals," p. 317, Oxford edition. 
I 2 


for the Dean of Lincoln. Richard de Mepham, a 
sagacious and learned man, who had helped the Grey 
Friars to settle in Oxford, is made Archdeacon of 
Stafford. Peter de Radnor, confessor to the Bishop 
of Hereford, is appointed Archdeacon of Salop, 
1246, and Chancellor of Lichfield, 1260. William 
de Kilkenny, handsome, eloquent, and learned in 
both laws, is made Archdeacon of Coventry 1246; 
and when in 1250 he is advanced to the bishopric of 
Ely he is succeeded here by the equally learned, 
though less scrupulous, John de Kirkeby, treasurer 
of England, who also follows him to Ely in 1286. 
But the greatest of this brilliant band is a famous 
Greek scholar, John de Basing, or Basingstoke, who 
had been a pupil of the Lady Constantia at Con- 
stantinople. He was the author of a Greek grammar 
and a " Harmony of the Gospels " — marvels in that 
purely Latin age. He succeeded to the arch- 
deaconry of Chester in 1247, when Silvester de 
Everdon went out of it to be Bishop of Carlisle. 

The good bishop was repeatedly absent from parlia- 
ments and councils. He was a friar, and his mind 
seems to have been set on spiritual duties. He saw 
that nothing but divine truth could make men free 
from the terrible sins of the age ; and, to put it in 
definite shape, he drew up a set of " Institutes "* for 
the instruction of his clergy, urging them to preach 
vigorously and in English. The " Institutes " told them 
what to preach. Founding his advice on Acts iv., 
12, he sets forth Christ as the only name of salva- 

' Quoted by Pegge, from the Bodleian copy. 


tion, and enumerates seven sacraments, the seven 
gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven virtues, the eight 
beatitudes, seven deadly sins, twelve acts of faith, 
&c. His tract is meagre though concise : in those 
days of dense ignorance it was, perhaps, all that 
could be attempted. 

Finding weakness increase, Weseham, in 1256, 
settled himself in his manor-house of Brewood on 
a retiring pension of 300 marks, and then resigned 
the see. On Sunday, May 20th, 1257, he died, and 
on the following Tuesday was buried at Lichfield 
by Fulk, archbishop of Dublin. His grave in the 
cathedral was afterwards covered by a little chapel 
of carved wood. We incline to believe that the stone 
effigy now lying opposite the Consistory court door 
is his. It represents a man of delicate build and 
moderate height, grasping the pastoral staff with thin 
hand, and wearing a slight, wavy beard; angels cense 
his head. 

A prelate of different sort succeeded, namely, 
Roger de Meuleng, or Molend, or Meyland, or 
LoNGESPEE (1256-1295), canon of Lichfield. He 
was unanimously elected by both chapters, the poll 
being kept open some time at Coventry for the con- 
venience of all comers. He was a natural son of 
William Longespee, earl of Salisbury, and was pro- 
bably chosen bishop because he was a nephew of the 
king. He was consecrated March 10, 1258, all the 
bishops being present or sending excuses, except those 
of Wales, who could do neither on account of the war. 
It is said that he could scarcely speak a word of 
English. In 1259, on the Saturday before Christmas, 


he made a furious attempt to visit St. Mary's, Stafford, 
one of the royal free chapels. A " multitude of 
clerks and laymen, bearing lances, swords, bows and 
arrows, and other arms,'' came with him, and " broke 
open the doors, and beat and wounded the canons." 
Summoned to the assizes, " the bishop, being present 
in court, says he is unwilling to answer this plaint 
here, because he is an ecclesiastic. Whereupon 
comes Richard de Clare, earl of Gloucester and 
Hertford, and says that Bogo, his son, is dean of 
the aforesaid chapel ; and he alleges, for the said 
Bogo, that no plea ought to be taken here concerning 
the rights of the said chapel."^ The end of the 
struggle was, that the bishop was allowed to use the 
free churches of Derby and Stafford for ordination 
and as meeting-places for his clergy, but was to 
be deprived of the power of excommunicating or 
otherwise punishing the clergy of the minsters 

This quarrel was probably revived after Molend's 
return to England in 1284, and was not settled till 
1292. Long before this latter date, Molend seems 
to have settled down into the utmost carelessness, and 
was probably non-resident, — living somewhere abroad. 

The minster clergy played wild pranks in his 
absence. Parish churches were ruthlessly appro- 
priated, and] chapter vied with chapter in greed. 
Religion rapidly declined until the wholesome visita- 
tion of Archbishop Peckham in 1282; then the 
monasteries were made to disgorge some of their 
spoils by endowing vicars, and the chapters admonished 
' "Assize Rolls." 


in severe terms ; the bishop was ordered into resi- 
dence, and told both to cease his permission of 
appropriations and to provide an English-speaking- 
suffragan who both could and would visit the diocese. 
Two years afterwards, thinking the bishop remiss in 
obeying, Peckham appointed Elias de Napton, arch- 
deacon of Derby, to act as coadjutor^ assigning him a 
stipend of loo marks out of the bishopric, and telling 
the bishop to consult him on every official act. This 
seems as if Molend were indiscreet and quarrelsome 
as well as idle. Some of his earlier acts point to 
the same conclusion. In March, 1264, his rela- 
tive, King Henry III., had intrusted him with the 
delicate duty of treating on his behalf with Simon 
de Montfort, the powerful earl of Leicester. He 
seems to have blundered, for the battle of Lewes 
followed. In the next year he was bidden to seek 
out all rebels in his diocese, and to admit them to 
the king's peace, Simon being one. These commis- 
sions are valuable as showing that, though Molend 
was a near relative of the king, he had, nevertheless, 
kept himself from espousing either side in the fearful 
and bloody quarrels of the age ; and that as bishop 
he could be hopefully employed as peacemaker, 
though, as a statesman, he did badly. Had he suc- 
ceeded better in political matters, he might never 
have withdrawn himself beyond sea. 

Bad as Molend's neglect was, the diocese probably 
owes three important gifts to him. The see was 
enriched by the grant of Cannock Chase from his 
royal relative. The plan of the splendid west front 
of Lichfield Minster was brought into England by 


him. It was the result, perhaps, of many a day 
wasted in sight-seeing abroad ; but it shows a mar- 
vellous taste for the beautiful, and — since the lower 
story of it was probably built by him — a prodigality 
of expense which his more thorough successors could 
not copy. By him, too, Lichfield House, or "Chester 
Place," was begun. He bought the site stretching 
from the Strand to the Thames, having trees and its 
own quay. In front of the palace rose a cross, 
where the itinerant judges used to sit to hear and 
determine cases. On one side was the palace of the 
bishops of Worcester. Molend brought stone from the 
Medway for his chapel. Of all the destroyed monu- 
ments of the past, this was, perhaps, one of the most 
exquisite. Built by Molend, in the best period of 
English architecture, it could not fail to be extremely 
beautiful. Somerset House stands on the site, which 
was wrenched from the see in the reign of the great 
spoiler, Henry VIII. , in exchange for Hanbury Rectory. 

The brightest character of this period is that of 
the archdeacon of Stafford, Thomas Cantilupe. Him- 
self of noble Derbyshire blood, he seems to have cast 
in his lot with one of the great barons of his arch- 
deaconry, Ferrars of Chartley, earl of Derby; for, after 
that unfortunate nobleman had been taken prisoner 
from among woolsacks stored in Chesterfield Church, 
Cantilupe received a patent of the king's pardon. 

The friendship and sympathy of so holy and gentle 
a man must have had a wonderfully softening and 
civilising effect upon the hard-fighting and rebellious 
baron. Cantilupe became Bishop of Hereford, and at 
length attained a place in the Calendar of Saints. 


Molend died December 26, 1295, and was buried 
January 3, near his throne in the old cathedral. 
His seal has a cathedral bearing three gables or 

The custom of going up to the cathedral on 
Mid-Lent Sunday, the day when the Lcetare Jeru- 
salem was sung, was kept up in the diocese at 
least as late as 1284. But in 1357 the register 
shows another custom. The parishioners of Longdon, 
Walsall, Yoxall, &c., trooped up to the mother-church 
in Whitsun week, headed by banners. Other bands 
came into collision with them, and they were requested 
by the bishop to come, indeed, as before, but to carry 
only a simple cross, without banners and without 
noise. The order for this reformation was to be 
written in the missal of every parish. The pilgrim 
bands came into the close over the pool, and entered 
the minster by the south door. Turning to the right, 
down the south choir aisle, they got, perhaps, a short 
exhibition of the head of St. Chad as they passed 
along under the little stone gallery over the pre- 
bendaries' robing-room door. Then they would go 
onwards towards the great shrine, where their yearly 
offerings were made. 

These old customs still live on in some sort. 
Whitsun Monday is still a great day at Lichfield and 
in the Close ; and " Mothering Sunday," when lads 
who have gone from home go back to visit their 
parents, still keeps a popular hold in South Stafford- 




Looking back upon the thirteenth century — the 
grandest of the Middle Ages — from the point at 
which we have now arrived, we see a gloomy picture. 

The great diocese of Coventry and Lichfield is 
united by the gathering of its archdeacons at Lich- 
field, and by the rotation of the bishops through the 
old manors of the see which lie round Stafford. The 
little towns of Lichfield and Brewood palpitate with 
Church life, and are more than once gay with royal 
presence. Coventry rallies round its cathedral and 
thrives. Chester is riddled by the raids of the Welsh, 
and continually noisy with passing armies. Derby 
trembles under the troubles of its brave earl, who is 
at last taken prisoner out of the Avool-bales stored 
in Chesterfield Church. Stafford, Shrewsbury, and 
Bridgenorth are closely linked together as gaol 
towns, and as possessing royal free chapels, Avhich 
have their own powers of life and death. 

Into the churches press criminals of all sorts for 
refuge. None but ecclesiastics can save them from 
injustice. There they can stay for six weeks if they 
choose, until the coroner holds an inquest about them, 


lid they abjure the reahn, and depart branded with 
le cross, to the nearest seaport.^ 

The bishops are great barons, responsible only to 
le Archbishop of Canterbury in spiritual matters, 
lough the Pope of Rome is continually over-riding, 
ut when, in 1257, Molend attacks the royal free 
lapel of Stafford, the king writes a secret letter to 
ly that he is to be called to order through his barony, 
'heir lordships live in pleasant parks. From that of 
ire wood, in 1243, after Patteshull's death, the king 
Lves three bucks and eight does to Fulk Fitzwarren. 
/"olves and bears are still extant. The bishops occa- 
onally hunt : and even AVeseham, in 1250, gets into 
le hands of the justice of the forest for taking a fawn 
5 he passes through the royal deer preserves of the 

Between the bishops and the parochial clergy there 
1 a wide difference, bridged over in some degree by 
le archdeacons and rural deans. The former are a 
Drt of local bishops, with every power except that of 
rdination and confirmation ; the latter certainly 
xist here in the thirteenth century, though their duties 
re chiefly those of spies and tax-gatherers," who 
2em to be as little beloved as the apparitors of the 
ishops themselves. 

' So, in 1282, " a certain unknown Christian woman put 
ereself in the church of St. Chad at Stafford, and confessed 
ereself a robber, and abjured the reahii before the coroner." 
-"Assize Rolls." 

- The Dean of Christianity at Stafford was written to in 1254 
) execute a grant of tenths to Heniy III. — " Annals of Burton, 
loIIs Series, 325." 


The churches are the common meeting-places of 
the people, and the services are made additionally 
attractive with stage plays and gorgeous pageants. 
At Lichfield there is a wonderful ceremony called the 
" censing of the clouds." 

The king interferes in small matters of religion, 
whilst greater ones are utterly neglected. In 1250 
the sheriff of Staffordshire is ordered to prohibit bakers 
from selling loaves marked with the Cross, or the 
Lamb of God, or the Saviour's name, lest the sacred 
device should be broken or dishonoured. But dis- 1 
order is everywhere rampant. The woods of Stafford- 
shire and the king's forests in Cheshire swarm with 
robbers. The men of Stafford and Salop are told to 
keep the king's peace, but in 1249 ^^e king has to 
do so himself and distrain the counties for the cost. 
The paths about Hopwas, in the old episcopal woods, 
have to be freed from trees lest they should shelter 
murderers, 1257. The bishop and the abbot of 
Burton have to swear in men-at-arms, 1229, each to 
procure by the Whit Sunday following a habergeon, 
if he be worth a knight's fee, or 15 marks; or a 
hauberk if half a knight's fee, or 10 marks. Men 
worth 40s. are to have iron helm, doublet, and lance ; 
or those of 20s. a bow and arrows, unless they live 
in the forests, when they must have hatchet and lance. 

The bishop farms many of his broad acres him- 
self When Stavenby dies, 1229, the corn he leaves 
in the ground is sold by the king for ;^ioo. 

A vast amount of Church building is going on. 
The cathedral has grown to its nineteenth-century 
size, though not yet standing in its present dress. 


The king constantly grants oaks from his forests for 
church building; forty, for example, to Lichfield in 
1243 ; two in 1250 to Penkridge to make stalls — for 
sitting is being introduced into the choirs of collegiate 
churches as a relief to poor human nature ; and six 
to the fabric of AVolverhampton ; twenty in 1255 to 
St. Mary's at Stafford from Teddesley ; five in 1255 
to St. Thomas's Priory, and six to Tettenhall. 

The exactions of Rome and the king go on hand-in- 
hand. Bishop Stavenby, in 1229, has to be reminded 
that he has been thrice asked to pay, and delayed 
to do so. And in 1244 the sheriff is to inquire what 
benefices are held in Staffordshire by Italians — viz., 
Romans, Tuscans, and Lombards — men appointed to 
livings by the pope, who draw away the revenues but 
never set foot in their parishes.^ 

The great collegiate churches do not secure even 
decent morality in their vicinities: in 1272 one man 
kills another before the door of Ralph, cancfh of 
Tettenhall ; Bishop Molend stops up a mile of road 
in or near Hatherton ; Ralph de Loges, of Rodbas- 
ton, outrages a young woman who falls into his 
hands, steals a neighbour's team of six oxen and a 
bull and ploughs his land with it, and when a 
canon of Penkridge rides into his court sends 
him away on foot. The matter comes to Stafford 
assizes, and all but the rape are excused, because 
" done in war time," or rather, perhaps, because 
Loges is too dangerous a man to be impleaded. The 
moat of the rich rascal's house still shows its strength. 

' "Close Rolls," Sa:t Library. 


A man is murdered at Dunstan, hard by; the hue 
and cry raised, but in vain ; and the jury " falsely 
present the plaint." Adam of Penkridge stabs his 
neighbour, and becomes an outlaw; at the inquest 
the coroner takes a bribe of two shillings.^ Almost 
every village has its murder or two. Trial by duel 
is twice mentioned in the early Rolls of Henry III.; but 
the better mode is rapidly feeling its way into existence. 

The great weapon of the Church at this time is 
the power of excommunication, which is terribly 
feared. A great evil exists in the filling of Church 
offices with foreigners who cannot speak the language, 
and who look upon benefices as mere property. A 
similar evil lurks in the monasteries, which are both 
alienated from the bishop and raking up the endow- 
ments of parish churches to themselves. Thus the 
laity are left to the care of mere hireling priests ; 
thus, too, the good work of endowment, done by the 
Saxons, is being undone by the Normans ; and, as 
the benefices become poor by the estrangement 
of endowments, the people fall back — in spite of 
hosts of monastic and minster clergy — into anarchy. 
Bishop after bishop strives hard against this ; they 
call in the aid of friars, but the friars are also foreign 
in their sympathies ; they are no part of the English 
Church, and England, in 1295, is rather permanently 
worse than better for their sixty-five years of work. 

The brightest features of the century are the 

' " Assize Rolls," Salt Library. One year's list of murders, 
&c., over and above those punished on the gallows and in the 
pits (for women), of chartered abbeys, minsters, and castles, is 
terrible readinc:. 



awakening earnestness and zeal of some of the 
bishops, and the holy fervour of church building, 
most conspicuous where the bishops had greatest 
influence. St. Michael's, Coventry, probably owes 
its first grand outlines to Bishop Patteshull, whose it 
was when he died,^ and Brewood Church to Bishop 
Cornhill. The cathedral, too, began to change its 
early English features three years before Stavenby's 
death, and masons were constantly employed after- 

The diocese of Lichfield had its full share of 
claim to the great men of the time. In politics, the 
archdeacons of Stafford were very conspicuous, one 
of them having borne an important share, as we have 
seen, in winning the great Charter ; another, Thomas 
de Cantilupe, the last canonised Englishman, being 
some time Chancellor of the Baronial Regency. 
Bishops Weseham and Stavenby were near friends of 
Grosseteste, and might have followed his policy in 
later years had they lived as long as he. 

But before the century was out another great 
politician became bishop. Walter de Langton 
(1296-1321), lord high treasurer of England, was 
chosen by both chapters in the present chapter-house 
at Lichfield, and his close connexion with Edward I. 
must have done much to bring order and justice 
into these wild regions. But Edward had to feel his 
way gradually. In establishing parliaments, he tried 
to conciliate all classes, and to win the best of the 
clergy to his side ; but he was only able to persuade 

' " Close Rolls," Salt Library. 


the deans of peculiars like Lichfield and St. Mary's^ 
Stafford, to attend; the parochial clergy still clung 
to their diocesan synods. 

The first part of Langton's life was deeply involved 
in the political work which had raised him to the see. 
He was friend and trusted adviser to Edward I. in 
his later years, and was left in charge of the great 
king's funeral. But his struggle with Edward II. set 
him free for distinctly episcopal work, not, however, 
without great unpleasantness to himself. The quarrel 
began whilst the young king was still Prince of Wales. 
The high-minded bishop rebuked the prince's folly and 
extravagance, and tried to keep him from taking the 
line which eventually destroyed him. In revenge, 
the Prince madly broke the bishop's parks and chased 
his deer, and, as soon as Langton had decently 
buried the old king, threw him into prison, and made 
Piers Gaveston the companion to himself which 
Langton had been to his father. 

Whilst Langton lay in prison, or was being moved 
about between Windsor and the Tower, the king 
aimed a blow at a great religious institution. The 
Templars were doomed to simultaneous extinction in 
every county in England. In Staffordshire the 
sheriff was ordered to be at Lichfield very early in 
"the morning of the morrow of the Epiphany," 1308, 
with a trusty band of fourteen men. Five days later 
came a secret letter directing him to pounce upon 
the knights of the order, and to seize their persons, 
property, writings, and chattels. They had a precep- 
lory at Keele, near Stoke-on-Trent. 


Langton got out of prison speedily ; for in 130S 
he held ordinations at Chester, Colwich, Ronton, and 
Tamworth. It presently fell into the bishop's power 
to ruin Gaveston, and his forbearing to do so pro- 
voked the archbishop to excommunicate him ; but 
the favourite died by the axe of the barons in 131 2, 
and the high-minded moderation of the bishop was 
rewarded by a return to his office of Treasurer. 
However, he soon shook himself free from Court 
trammels, and henceforth lived only for his diocese. 

Langton's registers are the first which have come 
down to our day. They record a multitude of 
rapidly-recurring institutions to the benefices of the 
diocese. Here, as elsewhere, it was usual for la}- 
patrons to confer livings on youths of tender years, 
who, after induction, were licensed to continue their 
studies for one, two, or three years in the schools. 
William de Draco, a youth of fifteen, was, at the 
pope's instance, licensed to hold a benefice in 1309 ; 
Conrad Homeschilt, a German, rector of Filingley, 
got five years' leave of studious absence. In a single 
month, February, 1300, licences for one year's study 
were given to Alexander de Verdon, rector of Bid- 
dulph, Roger Bagod, rector of Alvechurch, Nicholas 
de Aylesbury, rector of Pattingham, Roger Fitzherbert, 
rector of Norbury, and Richard Birchal, vicar ofTaten- 
hill. In the same month, Richard Touchet, rector ot 
Middlewich, and Simon Touchet, of Mackworth, 
were sent to college for two years, and "Walter 
de Fordingay, rector of Mackworth, for three. These 
facts show that lay patrons were eager to thrust their 



relatives upon benefices before they were old enough 
to be ordained. The system was much worse than 
the modern one of putting in "warming-pans," in 
the shape of clergy pledged to resign again wlien 
called on. 

Few Romans seem settled here then; but in 1307, 
at a hint from the pope, Richard de Belmont was 
licensed to hold two livings; in 12 13, "Robert 
de Patera " got the prebend of Pipa Parva ; as 
in 1307 Raymond, cardinal deacon of "the holy 
Roman Church," adds the precentorship of Lichfield 
and a prebend to his already ponderous plurality in 
other places. In 1230, a "cardinal deacon of St. 
Theodore " was made archdeacon of Coventry, and 
in 13 14 "James of Spain" died prebendary of 
AVolvey. But in 13 18 Richard de Verdon was made 
to disgorge Davenham, a family living, "' by reason ot 
the new law against pluralities." 

The monasteries were visited. In 1304, "G. of Glas- 
tonbury" was ordered by Langton to punish the canons 
of Haughmond, Salop, as "irregular, inordinate, incor- 
rigible " ; and in 1 2 1 3 and 1 2 1 5 there were faults among 
the Austin canons of Norton, Cheshire, and Repton, 
Derbyshire, which required amendment. Some eight 
or ten " curates" were assigned by the bishop, in 1304 ; 
to the vicar of Lapley, because he was old and blind ; 
to the rector of Maxstoke, in 1307, because he was 
infirm ; and in another instance because the rector was 
a minor. The bishop was still roving about the 
country ; but twice a year he contrived to be in his 
diocese, when he held ordinations like his pre- 


decessors, almost always varying the place, rotating 
through his own manors, and ordaining at Brewood, 
Chelsea, Eccleshall, Colwich, Itchington, Salop, 
Stafford, 1 Lichfield, Coventry, Derby, Wybunbury, 
Frees, Spondon, &c., — oftener at Derby than else- 
where, — and admitting hosts of candidates. At 
Derby, for example, in 1307, 93 sub-deacons, 69 
deacons, and 116 priests were ordained; and at 
Burton in 1300, 37 sub-deacons, 59 deacons, 99 
priests, and 61 acolytes; at Lichfield in 1303, 228 
sub-deacons, 99 deacons, and 79 priests ; and at 
Kenilworth in 1304, 84 sub-deacons, 119 deacons, 
and 5 priests. 

It was as founding our magnificent Lady Chapel, 
and for his other noble buildings, that Langton is 
commonly remembered. He rebuilt, also, Eccleshall 
and] Haywood manor-houses ; walled the close, for 
"the honour of God, the dignity of the cathedral, and 
the bodies of the saints there reposing, and also for 
security and quiet of the canons " : got leave from 
the king to crenellate his houses at Beaudesert, 
Asshely David, and elsewhere ; and to pave Eccles- 
hall and Lichfield with money raised by market dues 
and customs. In the thirty-third year of Edward I. he 
had further leave to crenellate his house in London. 
The prudent bishop may have foreseen trouble to 
himself from Prince Edward's lawless spirit. He 

' The right of ordaining was left to the bishop in the free 
chapels of St. Mary at Salop, and Stafford, but not at Wolver- 
hampton and Bridgenorth. 

K 2 


also enshrined St, Chad's bones in sumptuous work- 
manship, gave vessels and a jewelled cross of gold and 
costly vestments to the altar at the cathedral ;. made 
a bridge over the minster pool, and housed the 
choristers. But his greatest work was the splendid 
palace which he built for himself on the north-east 
side of the close, — a palace whose grey embattled 
walls, turrets, and high tower at the north-eastern 
angle, the base of which remains, were long a feature 
of the place. Its great hall was frescoed with 
Edward's wars. But all this work impoverished the 
bishop's see-lands. 

When the winter of 132 1 was setting in (November 
6th), Langton died in London, and was carried to 
Lichfield. Twenty monks from Coventry joined in 
his funeral, and from the cathedral the mourning 
brotherhood went in solemn procession to Stowe,— 
where St. Chad had first been buried, — in honour ot 
the munificent donor of the saint's new shrine. 

The present Lady Chapel was built during the 
next bishop's rule, mainly with money that Langton 
left. Langton's body was removed into it, and a 
sumptuous monument erected ovet it. 

And now we approach the period when the glorious 
west end of the cathedral and its three spires were 
built, and gain a glimpse or two of the means 
employed to build them. Similarity between the 
fabrics of Lichfield and Wells may be accounted for 
by the interest taken in both by Gilbert de Bruere, 
canon of Wells, and Langton's executor. Funds 
Avere raised for the work not only by large gifts 


^nd legacies from the bishops and clergy, but also by 
general contributions throughout the diocese, both 
under the name of '"Tchad's Pennies " and by way of 
direct subscription. Indeed, the next bishop, Nor- 
bury, expressly commended the fabrics of his two 
■cathedrals to the alms of the congregations, and 
banned the clergy from pleading for any other object 
•vwhilst the work was going on. 




Acts of Bishop Norbury — Building of the Three Spires — The 
Black Death — Contents of the Cathedral in 1346 — Thomas- 
of Chesterfield. 

The two chapters had been unanimous in burying 
Langton, but they disagreed in the election of a suc- 
cessor; and Pope Julius XXII. , doubtless spying 
therein an opportunity of strengthening his position 
against the policy of the English Edwards, intruded 
Roger de Norbury, or Northburg (1322-1359),. 
on the see. He was consecrated at Hales Abbey,* 
June 27, and for nearly forty years lived a diligent 
life among our forefathers, checking and punishing 
sin, and making every one of the many clergy under 
him do his duty according- to the light of the age 
and the means at his disposal. 

Norbury's "Register "' is still in excellent preserva- 
tion at Lichfield.i It is a goodly volume, written in 
clear characters on parchment ; and from it, and other 
contemporary documents, a fairly complete picture 
may be put together of the life and work of a medi- 
aeval bishop, — which is here attempted. 

The newly-consecrated prelate left Hales Abbey 

' A valuable paper on this " Register " will he found in the 
William Salt Collection, vol. i., by Bishop Hobhouse, to whose 
learning and kindness the writer of this volume is much indebted. 


with a token of his favour, promising a forty days' 
indulgence (a prospective relief from the penances 
to be imposed at the ensuing Shrovetide) to all who 
would pay a pilgrimage to Hales to see the head of 
St. Barbara and pray for the king and queen, leaving 
a gift behind them for the poor monks when departing. 
He began his episcopal career by renewing the 
commission of Langton's suffragan, the Bishop of 
Magdun (Melun in France), who was to help at 
ordinations. And such help was clearly needed ; for 
Norbury, like his predecessors, ordained candidates 
in troops. The examination of so many young men 
would in these days be a very serious business ; in 
those it was strict enough as to literary attainments. 
No one could be ordained who could not read ; and 
for the higher grades some knowledge of Holy Scrip- 
ture was required. But it was impossible to ascertain 
the moral fitness of numbers so large, and the bishop 
seems to have contented himself with a system of 
ban. Proclamation was made in the ordination 
service that every one who felt himself unworthy of 
holy orders must take himself off: but Avhen the 
motives which were leading men into orders were 
often of the most mercenary character, the ban must 
have fallen lightly on many a conscience. Rectors 
afterwards appear in the " Register " as only acolytes. 
One of the Derbyshire Segreaves, after living a life of 
lust and rapine, tried to save his life, when at last 
brought to bay, by declaring that he was and always 
had been a priest.^ 

^ In 149 1, it was possible for a bishop of Coventry and Lichfield 
to record in his register that a youth not yet in his first tonsure 


And many even of the better sort of ca)idi<lates 
were never intended for ordinary parish work. Some 
were to be Austin canons, and some chantry priests ; 
some secular canons, others chaplains in monasteries 
or friars. 

Violence still marks the times : a dispute broke 
out between the canons of Lichfield and those ot 
Penkridge with regard to the chapel at Cannock, and 
the former contrived to lodge the latter in Stafford 
gaol, whence they pleaded to the king that divine 
offices in his royal chapel of Penkridge had been 
extinguished by their imprisonment.^ 

The roads swarm with robbers : the canons of 
Rocester have a chantry by the Watling Street ; but, 
on account of the rude visits which their chaplain 
receives from highwaymen, they summon him to 
pray for his patron within the protection of their own 
strong walls. The friars, who are much on the roads, 
and are often well laden with the produce of their 
begging tours,- of course do not escape. In 132 1 the 

had been made warden of the collegiate church of Newport, and 
That he had given him seven years' leave of absence to prosecute 
his studies in the universities. 

'" Parliamentary Rolls," Edw. II., quoted by Mr. T. de 
Mazzinghi, of Stafford. 

^ The contents of a friar's bag may be inferred from Chaucer : — 

" Yeve us a bushel whete, or malt, or reye, 
A Goddes kichel, or a trippe of chese, 
Or elles what you list we may not chese ; 
A Goddes halfpenny, or a ma^^se peny ; 
Or yeve us of your brawn if ye have any, 
A dagon of your blanket, leve dame, 
Our suster dere (lo, here I write your name), 


bishop hands Edmund de Drayton over to the secular 
arm for robbing a Welsh friar. In 1338 a Grey Friar 
of Lichfield and his attendant bagman are both 
assaulted. This time the assailants are not caught, 
so the bishop flings excommunication broadcast at 
them from the altar. 

Adultery falls under the bishop's cognizance, and 
is severely punished; so, William de Kniyeton, in 
1328, is sentenced to be " fustigated " six times round 
the cathedral on six Sundays, and through Lichfield 
market-place on week-days. The archdeacon ot 
Stafford is to " fustigate " the first time in person. 
(Questions of legitimacy also come to him from the 
king's courts; and in 1322-3 he gives the judges 
leave to hold assizes at Derby in Advent and Lent, 
but will not make it a precedent. 

The bishop was, of course, surrounded by officials ) 
some of whom we may notice. His *' vicar-general " 
gave institution in his name, and notified his assent 
in provincial councils and Parliaments, of which two 
for the whole diocese were held at Stafford in 1336 
and 1337. In the former, a tax of a sbilling in the 
mark was voted to the king.^ A seneschal, or bailiff, 
looked after the estate, which was large and scattered. 
The bishop's ^^ paroc'/ius" — whom Dr. Hobhouse con- 
siders to have been a purveyor, — complains of being- 
Bacon, or beef, or such thing as ye find." 

A sturdy harlot went hem ay behind, 
That was hir hostes man, and bare a sakke, 
And what men yave hem laid on his bakke. 

' See Mr. Green's remarks, 'Tli^lory of the Knglish People,"' 
i- 35S. 


robbed of birds at Shrewsbury. A penitentiary, such | 
as Gilbert de Neunham, monk of Coventry, 1322, 
•was appointed sometimes for the whole diocese, and 
sometimes for parts of it, to hear the confessions of 
the clergy and laity; and a second and superior J 
officer, — at one time Friar Osbert, of Sutton, Salop, — ' 
was made preacher and confessor in the diocese, and 
penitentiary in cases reserved to the bishop. In 
1329 the rector of Hanmer was penitentiary for the 
"Welsh-speaking clergy and laity" of the diocese, 
the rector of Nepe acting for the other part of Salop. 

In 1328 a lord bishop of Assavens was authorised 
to ordain. 

In 1328 the rector of Walton, wanting a curate, is 
allowed to have one on his setting aside for him, by 
way of stipend, a house in the parish, the oblations at 
the altar, and at marriages and churchings, the tithes 
of a hamlet, and herbage of church and chapel yards ; 
but the curate was to find chaplains for the chapels, 
and a deacon at 20s. per annum for the church. 
The abbots of Lilleshall, Erdbury, and Shrewsbury, 
were permitted to retire on pensions. Two churches 
required " reconciliation " after bloodshed. Monks 
often ran away from their cloisters, and were induced 
by the bishop to return to their monasteries, or were 
publicly banned if they remained at large. Indeed, 
the most striking use was made of the power of 
excommunication. Park-breakers were threatened) 
from church altars, and offenders publicly banned 
whilst still at large. Thus, under terror of this sort 
of denunciation, poor Elizabeth Zouch, who with a 
companion had run away from the White Ladies 


of Brewood, came cringing to the bishop. She made 
confession in Brewood Church ; and being absolved 
was led by the bishop back to the abbey gate, three 
miles away, where she humbly sued for re-admission, 
and was admitted to penance. 

Bishop Norbury made a thorough visitation of his 
diocese : the clergy did not like it ; and one or two 
fierce assaults were made upon apparitors, especially 
in Newport Church. But the visitation was carried 
into every part of the diocese. Parishes were thrown 
into groups of four or five for this purpose ; the clergy, 
churchwardens, and five or six people from each 
being summoned to attend at particular places. 
Some of the meetings, however, were not held on 
account of the men being summoned to the Scotch 
wars. The cathedral vainly pleaded exemption and 
the absence of the dean. 

This inquiry unearthed some curious facts. The 
vessels and vestments of Greenby Church were found 
to be kept carelessly in a shed belonging to Ronton 
Abbey, the appropriators. The bishop orders them 
to be laid up in church with a deacon to watch them. 
The roof of Mayfield Church is dilapidated, and must 
be mended, though church-rates are not mentioned 
in the order. The parishioners of Rocester ask 
whether they ought to attend the eucharist at the 
abbey or the parish church, and are told they may go 
to either. A couple of strolling fortune-tellers and 
magicians skulking about Warwickshire are warned 
off by denunciation in all churches in the archdea- 
conry of Coventry. Monks of Sandwell are wandering 
abroad under pretence of pilgrimage to Rome. The 


prior of Holonde must not sojourn in solitude at 
Greston Manor, The bishop of Carlisle may ordain 
'''five or six friends" in 1334, and three more at 
Stanton-by-Bridge a little later, in 1345, — interesting 
glimpse of life at Melbourne, Carlisle's " half-way 
house." vStone Priory lying near the king's highway, 
complains that it is eaten up by passing guests, and 
gets the rectory of Madeley to help its buttery. The 
new prior of Tutbury, having visited the bishop at 
Frees in 1334, is kidnapped on his way home, and 
carried off no one knows whither, — the offenders 
are banned from the altar. There had been parochial 
troubles at Birmingham in Langton's time, — Bishop 
Norbury takes off a sentence of excommunication. 
A dead knight may be buried in 1342 at Arden in 
Cheshire, if any one can say he had repented before 
dying excommunicate. The monasteries a4"e visited 
■except the Cistercian houses. Hunting-dogs, fine 
dresses, and costly pleasures, are found among the 
White Ladies (Cistercians) of Brewood ; and the 
bishop's decree for reformation is translated into French 
because the prioress cannot read Tatin. Disorder, 
incontinence, arms, and hunting, appeared in Tut- 
bury Priory, and utter confusion in the alien priory of 
Lapley— cut off from its head-quarters by the French 
wars. Darley Abbey, too, needs reformation ; and 
the hospital of St. Thomas of Birmingham is " full of 
vile reprobates." St. John's Tower at Chester is in 
danger of falling ; the vestments are worn out, and 
the canons non-resident. The bishop first warns 
them, and then takes reformation into his own hands. 
The choir-men at Lichfield have ministered without 


the " choral habit " required by statute, — the bishop 
gives them the rectory of Penn Church wherewithal tO' 
buy surplices and tippets. 

Rectory after rectory still continues to be absorbed 
by monastic bodies : twenty-four parishes suffer thus- 
" by authority of the Holy See," under Bishop Nor- 
bury ; but everywhere he forces the monks to ordain 

How mercilessly the parishes are robbed by 
cathedral and monastery may be seen from the 
" Taxatio " of Pope Nicholas of Langton's time, 1288. 
St. Michael's, Coventry, was worth ^^33. 6s. 8d. a 
year to the prior, but only ;^5 to the vicar. Wirks- 
worth rectory was valued at ;^46. 135. 4d., which, 
together Avith a pension of ;j^i3. 6s. 8d. from the 
vicarage, was paid to the dean of Lincoln, leaving 
but ;^io a year to the vicar. How Bake well Rectory, 
worth ;^i94 a year, and the richest in the diocese, 
was spoiled has been already shown. From the 
black heather of Alstonfield, in the Staffordshire 
moorlands, the abbot of Cbmbermere took ;^i3. 6s. 8d. 
The people of Prestbury showed their appreciation ot 
this sort of robbery in 1326 by sending their tithe 
sheaves to the abbot of St. Werburgh's at Chester so 
loosely bonded as to fall to pieces. Bradbourn was 
worth ;^4o to the monks of I^unstable, Chesterfield 
^^T, to the dean of Lincoln. From Leek and its hill- 
side chapels the abbot of Dieulacres drew away ;^2S 
a year. 

The case of LUtoxeter, however, seems hardest. 
" Dominus Hugo, of Vienna," mulcted the living in 
jQio a year, and the abbot of Darley in ;£i. 6s. 8d. 


In Norbury's time the living was finally appropriated to 
the new chapel of twenty-four priests and twenty-four 
knights, which the king was founding at Windsor. 

Bishop Norbury's attachment to the papacy must 
have done much to keep alive the sore feeling of 
England toward Rome. In 1348 he gave the trea- 
surership of Lichfield Cathedral to " Master Hugh of 
Palermo," at the pope's request. In 1331 he had for 
three years kept no less than forty benefices vacant 
so as to send their revenues to the " French Pope "; 
and in 1332 he added twelve others to the number. 
The pope still regarded England as a vassal kingdom 
of his own. 

The appropriation of Uttoxeter to the Chapel of 
the Garter was by no means the only connexion 
between this diocese and English chivalry. In April, 
1348, Lichfield was selected as the scene of one of 
the few splendid Hastiludes which celebrated the 
glorious victory of Crecy, and it is even likely ^ that 
the incident then and there took place which sug- 
gested to the gallant and joyous king the foundation 
of that most noble order. There were water sports on 
the minster pools, and a passage of arms, in which 
the king, on his great war-horse, with seventeen 
knights, tilted against the Earl of Lancaster and 
thirteen others. The flower both of English chivalry 
and of English beauty was there. No less than two 
hundred and eighty-eight visors were provided for 
ladies. Amongst them were the Princess Isabel, the 

^ "Reliquary," for October, 1878, and January, 1879, where 
the question is discussed by Mr. Mazzinghi. " Archteologia," 
xxxi. 118. 


Lady Wake, the Princess Joanna, Lady Bohun, or 
Stafford, and others. Robes of blue and hoods of 
white were the prevaiUng colours. 

The three spires were then probably nearly finished. 
The next scene they looked down upon was of vastly 
different character. Treading on the heels of this 
gaiety came the Black Death, whose terrible 
ravages here have been already alluded to by Mr. J. 
C. Cox. 1 The havoc made among the clergy was 
terrible ; from the archdeacon of Stafford down- 
wards they stood to their posts, and died with their 

Bishop Norbury died November 22, 1358, and was 
buried under a sumptuous tomb in the cathedral. 
He was Lord High Treasurer of England in 1322, 
1340, 1341, and 1342 ; nevertheless, he seems to 
have been in constant residence in his diocese. 

The dean of Tarn worth now appears on the 
scene. ^ An ordination was held in his church in 
1359 by the suffragan of the diocese, Thomas Bishop 
Magnassiensis, a monk of Merevale. He had been 
consecrated for such work in 1353. In June, 
1360, he ordains again in the Friary church at Lich- 
field, and in August at Mancetter, 

The discovery of the "Sacrists' Roll " of 1346 — the 
year of the Black Death — which has recently been 
made at Lichfield,''^ gives us a glimpse into the 
interior of the cathedral at that time. It would 
appear that there were then only four residentiary 

^ "Derbyshire Churches," vol. iv., Introduction. 

' First mentioned, 1259. 

^ Derbyshire Archaeological Society's Journal, 1881. 


canons, though there had been five at the Conquest, 
as also there -were at the Reformation, There 
were also four choristers, who, on Innocent's Day, 
marched in copes in a procession of children, — one 
of the many pretty sights of the old ritual. The 
dean, Master Richard FitzRalph, was, by the way, 
on the verge of promotion to the archbishopric of 

Many precious things are mentioned in the "Roll," 
the first being the relics of St. Chad. The head in a 
certain painted wooden case ; an arm which could be 
kissed by pilgrims ; some of his bones in a portable 
shrine, which was occasionally carried round the 
diocese. Besides these, there was the great shrine 
of Walter Langton's sumptuous workmanship, which 
had cost ;^2,ooo. Ten boxes contained the remains 
of other saints ; and there were various items which 
spoke of pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and of the 
connexion of the cathedral with the saints of the 
Church in nearly all past ages and climes. There 
were bones of St. Stephen, St. James, St. Helen, St. 
Barbara, and St. Blase ; the head of St. Godric, a 
northern hermit, who mingled ashes with his flour ; 
a specimen of his bread ; blood of a bishop of 
Cologne ; part of the hair shirt of St. Cuthbert, <S:c. 

There was a noble cross of pure gold, worth ^£200, 
which Langton had given ; others of lesser value ; 
three especial processional crosses, one much the 
worse for wear, the other broken, and six or eight 
others, one of which, made of cheaper material, 
seems to have been used on ordinary occasions to 
save the others. There were two ivory images of the 


Blessed Virgin, four ivory pixes for the eucharist, 
four beryls for striking fire on Easter Eve, eight gold 
rings which had been offered by magnates, six 
brooches which had been given by Henry III. and 
P^dward I., and endless jewels and other trinkets. 

Generous Langton had given a chalice decked with 
precious stones, with two phials of pure gold, worth 
y^8o. There were nine chalices of silver gilt with 
iheir patens, and three others, five thuribles, of which 
four were "noble silver" vessels, tv/o having silver 
chains. King Henry had given two silver candle- 
sticks, and there were also other chalices, thuribles, 
&c., of smaller note. 

Langton had given "a most precious cope, decorated 
with figures, with fourteen sets, namely, four copes, 
four tunicles, two chasubles of white samite, powdered 
with gold." There were also two frontals for the high 
altar of the same set, and "two most valuable frontals 
with figures, of which one is wide and the other 
large, but narrow ; also one frontal, narrower than the 
others, which is joined with a pall for the high altar, 
and that frontal is exceedingly precious because it is 
wholly adorned with noble pearls, with two hundred 
buttons of pearls." There were, also, many other 
vestments, of which some were lent out to the 
prebendal churches ; many palls and hangings, which 
had been given by Kings Edward I. and III., by 
Queens Eleanor and Isabel, and other great persons. 
There were many chasubles, one of which, of bal- 
dekin, with the albe, amice or hood, stole, and fanon 
or maniple, was the gift of Dean John de Derby. The 
sacrist had made eight out of twenty-three " unsuit- 



able albes." There were thirty-two amices, thirty-four 
stoles, " one of which has twelve kiiops of silver," 
thirty-five fanons or maniples, some of which corre- 
sponded with the stoles, one having twelve silver 
knops. Queen Eleanor had given a good vestment ; 
Bishop Roger de Meuland another ; Master Roger 
de Rothwell, archdeacon of Chester, another, &c. 
The prior and brethren of St. John had borrowed a 
set of vestments and books. 

In the choir lay numerous books, some of them 
chained, including the Holy Bible, — which was then 
commonly divided into two volumes at the Psalms ; 
" two most ancient books which are called the books of 
the blessed Chad," and two ordinals, one within and 
another and a nobler volume Avithout the choir. 
One of the chained books was " The Acts of the 
English," and there were volumes on martyrology and 
lives of the saints. 

The " Roll " was written in plague time. It looks as 
if the canons were setting *' their house in order " in 
the very face of death ; and it shows plainly enough 
that the gorgeousness of the old worship was largely 
owing to the generosity of the worshippers. They 
gave to God in giving sumptuous vestments for His 
service, just as men now give to missions or the poor. 

Only one of all the volumes mentioned survives to 
tlie present day, and that is the precious, ancient 
volume of " St. Chad's Gospels." The book may, 
indeed, have belonged to that saint, though it had 
wandered a good deal since his day. It had been 
sold in Saxon times by Cingal to (lelhi " for a good 
horse." Gelhi gave it to a bishop of Llandaff'for 


the good of his soul,'"' and since Bishop Wynsy's 
time (a.d. 964-973) it had been at Lichfield,^ where 
it is in the present year of grace, 1883. 

Some of the history of old times which the volumes 
contained has been handed down to our day in 
Thomas of Chesterfield's " Chronicle." Thomas 
probably wrote this history in his younger days, and 
after many a leisurely perusal of the books then in 
the choir and of documents which have long since 
perished. His work in Latin was printed in Henry 
Wharton's " Anglia Sacra " ; but it used to be posted 
up on wooden tables near the south door of the 
cathedral, that every pilgrim who could read might 
know the antiquity of the holy fane. 

Thomas was archdeacon of Salop and prebendary 
of Tarvin, 1423-1425, and in 1447, five years before 
his death, he held the diocese in commission for 
spiritualties during the vacancy of the see. He 
bequeathed a garden near the friary to the vicars 
choral, and they sang him " an obit " every year. 

' The volume wandered during the Great Rebellion with 
William Higgins, the precentor. See Bishop Abraham's article, 
"Dio. Churchman," May, 1S76. 

L 2 




Some Papal Aggressions — Reformers — William Thorpe — Deso- 
lation and Decline in Religious Houses — Bishop Heyworth 
— Change of Feeling towards Monasteries— Foundation of 
Manchester Collegiate Church — Anchorites. 

The hundred years between 1360 and 1460 were a 
period of decline and decay, which were seen clearly 
in the state of the religious houses. Meantime the 
popes relaxed nothing of their exactions, except when 
forced by the awakening spirit of the English nation. 
The bishops were diligent in performing ''episcopal 
functions," but there was not a great man among 
them. Nearly all were " provided " by the pope on 
the nomination of the king ; the king sending a letter 
to the chapters to say whom he would accept if 
elected as bishop, and at the same time writing to the 
pope to ask him to " ])rovide " such a one to the 
see. Thus all parties enjoyed a share in the elections, 
and none had spirit to protest against the other. In 
one instance, that of Walter Skirlaw, 1386, the 
pope even removed the bishop, against his will, to 
what was considered an inferior see. 

Yet England seems to have been weary of papal 
aggression. Thomas of Chesterfield, who lived in 
the period now under review, breaks o!T his " Chro- 


nicle " at the year 1348, when he gets into the thick 
of the Roman robberies. From the days of Diuma, 
he had traced the annals of the see ; but, after 
recounting three successive intrusions of deans upon 
Lichfield Cathedral by the pope, his pen finally failed. 
Ill 137 1 a Roman cardinal held the deaner)^, and one 
whom the bishop described as " a stranger " occupied 
the premises, and duly sent the revenues of the 
deanery to his master over sea. Such exactions 
were grounded by the popes on the plea that Eng- 
land had become a vassal of St. Peter by the action 
of King John ; and they helped to prepare the public 
mind for the fierce reckoning with Rome which came 
in Tudor times. 

As Rome led the way downwards in doctrinal 
matters, she was patiently followed, as we shall see, by 
the bishops of the period, who meekly endorsed her 
opinions by attending her councils ; but the great 
upheaval caused by Wycliffe's doctrines Avas not 
unfelt here. John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, the 
political patron of Wycliffe, had his castle at Tutbury. 
No one who sees its ragged ruins can wonder that 
Lollardy should have some influence in the diocese. 
The brown old hills of North Staffordshire, too, seem 
to enshrine the memory of secret Lollard services 
held in " Lud Church " ; - but the movement first 
comes into clear daylight at Shrewsbury, wliere AVil- 
liam Thorpe was apprehended in 1407. 

Thorpe was apparently one of Wycliffe's " poor 
preachers"; he got leave to preach in the old Norman 

' See "Legends of the Moorland and Forest in North Staf- 


minster at Shrewsbury, and, being seized by the bailifif 
and burgesses of the town, was sent to Archbishop 
Arundel with a request that he should come back for 
" his duresse " at Shrewsbury. His examination, as pre- 
served by Bishop Bale, throws light oh the important 
character of these early Reformers. " My father and 
mother," he told Arundel, " spent mickle money in 
divers places about my learning, for the intent to 
have made me a priest of God : but I had no will to 
be a priest. And when they perceived this in me, 
for that they might make me consent to be a priest, 
they spake to me full oftentimes very grievous words : 
but at the last .... I prayed them to give me 
licence for to go to them that were named wise priests 
to have their counsel." Such were Wyclifie and 
Philip of Rampington, then canon of Leicester. 
" The third Sunday after Easter, 1407," ran his accusa- 
tion, from the worshipful communality of Shrewsbury, 
''William Thorpe came into the town; and, through 
leave granted unto him to preach, he said openly in 
St. Chad's Church in his sermon, that the sacrament 
of the altar after the consecration was material bread ; 
and that images should in no wise be worshipped ; 
and that men should not go on pilgrimages ; and 
that priests have no title to tithes ; and that it is not 
lawful for to swear in any wise." Asked if this were 
wholesome learning, Thorpe said, " I never preached 
nor taught thus, privily nor apertly." 

Then follows an interesting dialogue between the 
Archbishop and Thorpe, in which the Archbishop 
occasionally swears profanely. The Lollard shows 
that he desires to be a faithful son of holy Church, and 


:to obey ecclesiastical superiors in all that was not 
contrary to the law of Christ. He preaches, he says, 
because he is a priest. All the Lollards would gladly 
ask for the bishop's licence if there was any hope of 
getting it. What happened at Shrewsbury was this : — 
"As I stood there in the pulpit, busying me to teach 
the commandment of God, there knelled a sacring 
bell ; and, therefore, mickle people turned away 
hastily, and with noise ran from me. I seeing this, 
said, ' Good men, ye were better to stand here still 
.and to hear God's word ] for certes the virtue and 
meed of the most holy sacrament of the altar standeth 
more in the belief thereof that ye ought to have in 
your soul, than it doth in the outward sight thereof. 
And therefore ye were better to stand still to hear 
God's word, because that through the hearing thereof 
men come to the very true belief " 

We get here a glimpse of the old church of St. Chad : 
its nave unencumbered with seats, preaching going on 
in one part of the church and mass in the other, and 
the people standing to hear or rushing away to see 
as they pleased. 

Asked by the Archbishop whether he believed that 
aiothing of material bread remained in the elements 
after consecration, Thorpe replied, that such a phrase 
did not occur in Scripture, and that he had never 
used it. The very spirit of the Reformation lurked 
in his subsequent words, " The sacrament of the 
altar is the sacrament of Christ's flesh and blood in 
form of bread and wine. Whatever prelates have 
•ordained in the church our belief standeth ever 
whole. Sir, St. Augustine saith, ' That thing that is 


seen is breads but what men's faith asketh to be 
informed of is very Christ's body.' In the secret of 
the mid-mass on Christmas Days it is written thus. 
^ Idem refuhit jyeits, sic to-rena substantia nobis confe rat 
quod divinuni est.'' '' "Answer me shortly," broke 
forth the Archbishop. " Believest thou that after the 
consecration of thi& foresaid sacrament there abideth 
substance of bread or not?" And Thorpe replied, 
" Sir, as I understand, it is all one to grant or believe 
that there dwelleth substance of bread, and that this- 
most worthy sacrament of Christ's own body is acci- 
dent without subject .... I dare not deny it, nor 
grant it." The Archbishop said he would not oblige 
him by subtle arguments, but make him obey the 
determination of holy Church. He replied that "By 
open evidence and great witness a thousand years 
after the Incarnation of Christ, the determination, 
which I have here before you rehearsed was acce['t 
of holy Church." 

In the controversy which followed on the second 
count of the indictment, Thorpe declared that he had 
not said images were " not to be worshipped in any 
wise." The Archbishop granted that "nobody ought 
to do worship to any such images for themselves ; 
but a crucifix ought to be worshipped for the passion 
of Christ that is painted thereof," — just as men doft 
their hats to the seals of their lord's letters. Thori)e 
thought the argument did not apply, and the Arch- 
bishop then touched upon the spirit in which medi- 
aeval art-work was done. " Beyond the sea are the 

best painters that I ever saw This is their 

maimer, and it is a good manner. A\'hen that an 



image-maker shall carve, cast, or paint any images,, 
he shall go to a priest and shrive him as clean as if 
he should then die, praying .... and praying the 
[iriest to pray for him that he may have grace to 
make a fair and devout image." Thorpe thought 
that ihe holy living of priests was the best way of 
setting Christ's image before men, and a good sermon 
the best means of moving them to devotion. He 
had said at Shrewsbury that nobody should trust that 
there were any virtue in imagery made with man's 
hands ; nobody should bow to them, nor seek them, 
nor kneel to them. The Archbishop wound up the 
point by saying, that he was a rotten member cut 
away from holy Church or he would not think so. 

On the third point, Thorpe avowed that he had 
taught at Shrewsbury the lawfulness of two sorts of 
pilgrimages. It was right to travel towards the bliss 
of heaven, and to regard every good word spoken, 
good thought entertained, or holy deed done, as " a 
step numbered of God toward Him in heaven." The 
hosts of pilgrims who then passed to popular shrines 
showed by their works that this was not their style of 
pilgrimage. " Fond people " they were, " who blame- 
fully wasted God's goods, spending their goods upon 
vicious hostellers that were ofttimes unclean women, 
of their bodies." 

Thorpe's fate is unknown. The Archbishop was 
leaving Saltwood Castle that day, and had " far to 
ride": the poor priest probably languished long in 
its prison. One cannot but look back to him as one 
of the pioneers of the Reformation. His brave words 
for holiness of life, and his profound knowledge of 


Holy Scripture and Christian antiquity, were a century 
and a half in advance of his time. Like St. Chad 
and Weseham he made much of Gospel preaching ; 
like the Reformers, he was full of the early fathers 
and Bible lore. His views of Church reformation had 
hardly yet shaped themselves into the wild political 
''liberationism" of subsequent Lollards, or got free 
from communistic ideas upon Church property ; but 
he was sound in the main, and one of the first who 
brought into this diocese the ideas which resulted in 
the break-up of Mediaevalism. 

In 1423 one John Grace, an anchorite friar, came 
out of his cell and preached five days together in the 
" lytull parke" at Coventry, and "seying that he was 
licentiate and licence to preche of the bishop's minys- 
ters of this diocese ; and he had preched at Lichfield 
ther in the close among the canons three dales to- 
gether; and after he preched at Burmingham, and 
after at AVallsall, and after yt at Collyshull, and so 
come down hither ; the which John Grace was at 
that time a famous man among the people." The 
prior of St. Mary's and a Grey Friar opposed him, and 
said that he was unlicensed to preach, and were nearly 
killed by the mob. In this hubbub we hear nothing 
of the parochial clergy. Prior and friar are alone in 
their opposition to the reforming preacher. 

The state of Salop may be at least inferred from 
*' The Vision of Piers the Plowman," the author of 
which was born at Cleobury Mortimer ; whence he 
perhaps drew his sad description of the gulf which 
was opening between the people and the leaders of 
the Church in its then unreformed state. 


The first bishop of this period was Robert de 
Stretton (1360-1386), who found the diocese 
prostrate after the Black Death. He is remarkable 
as having failed to pass the examination for bishop's 
orders which the archbishop commonly held before 
consecrating. He could not even read his mother- 
tongue, nor recite his profession in Latin ; but, as 
the Black Prince and the pope insisted on his conse- 
cration, the archbishop delegated a couple of suffragans 
to perform it, disdaining to do so himself. 

One of Stretton's first acts was to admit a young 
lady of twenty to be abbess of Polesworth, expressly 
stipulating in his commission that no questions as 
to age were to be asked her. The unsettled state of 
the country after the plague is reflected in Stretton's 
" Register," by the fact that exchanges of livings 
became for a time remarkably frequent, and by the 
state of the monasteries. In 136 1 Breadsall Priory 
could not support its prior ; and the one remain- 
ing monk of Sandwell asked the bishop to choose a 
prior over the empty cells : he was sole remaining 
elector. The bishop appointed the survivor himself ^ 
Other items also illustrate the times. In 1368 the 
vicar of Walsall was recalled to his monastery at 
Hales Owen "for discipline." In 1380 the rector 
of Stoke-on-Trent, " only in his first tonsure," was 
licensed to lease his glebe, to be absent as long as 
the earl of Lancaster, his patron, wanted him, and 
to get higher orders wherever he could. 

' So with Canwell in 15 14. Stretton is quoted in the law- 
books as having been sentenced, at the end of a trial on a qiiaix 
iiiipedit, to go "to the devil," — the only instance of the kind. 


In 1363 a friar was inducted at St. John's, Chester, 
into an anchorite's cell in the churchyard, and Pope 
Urban annulled the exemption from episcopal visita- 
tion which his predecessor had granted to the abbey 
of St. Werburgh.i 

InStretton's days, and in the year 1378, the plague 
again broke out in the diocese, killing the clergy of 
Clown and Mickleover, both of them newly-appointed, 
and probably young men. The clergy of Loppington 
and Rodenin Salop also disappear at this time suddenly. 

Richard II. was present when Bishop Richard 
ScROPE (1386-1396), ill-fated like himself, was en- 
throned to follow the brief episcopate of Walter 
Skirlaw (i 386-1386), He was present again vrhen 
the dean, with his eight residentiaries and many pre- 
bendaries stripped off their shoes, met the king's 
confessor, John de Burghill (1398-1414), a bare- 
footed black friar, at the western entrance of the 
churchyard, and led him to the episcopal throne. 
On that September day the king made a huge feast] 
in the episcopal palace ; but the scene changed;] 
and in a year Richard was brought as a prisoner foi 
a night's lodging to Clifford's Tower, near the western! 
gate, whence he tried to escape by dropping through] 
a window into the lonely moat. 

Burghill, the barefooted bishop, seems to have 
kept his asceticism to the last, and to have bestowed 
his worldly substance upon the Church and the poor. 
His effigy was engraven in brass over his grave in 
Lichfield Lady Chapel, and his memory lived long 

^ The abbot had obtained exemption against the wish of his 
convent and of his patron, the Prince of Wales. 


in both cathedrals. At Coventry, 104 shillings were 
distributed to the poor at his anniversary. 

After him came John Catterick, or Ketterick 
(1415-1419), translated hither from St. David's. He 
sat in the council of Constance (141 5) — which burned 
Huss and Jerome of Prague, and forbade the sacra- 
mental cup to the laity, — and was a celebrated 
scholar of the older sort. On his translation by the 
pope to the bishopric of Exeter, William Hey worth, 
abbot of St. Alban's, succeeded, who ruled from 1419 
to 1447, in the interests of the older learning, and in 
Imrmony with the pope, who '' provided " him to 
Lichfield. He attended the council of Basle in 1434. 

A period had then begun in which the bishops of 
Lichfield were free from the cares of statesmanship. 
For nearly a century none of them seem to have 
been much about the court. Old institutions were 
passing out of date and new ones springing up. 
Secular churchmen seemed to turn their backs 
upon the monasteries, and to spend the little they 
had to spare either on the cathedrals or in founding 
colleges. So, in 1385, Stretton had left his mitre 
and pastoral staff to his successor, 200 marks and 
some plate and missals to the cathedral. Scrope had 
turned his attention to the vicars choral, and gathered 
them into a collegiate body, which was endowed by 
his successors, and housed in a fine brick building 
by Bishop Blythe, just in time to tempt, but to escape, 
robbery by Edward VL 

Indeed, thetemper of the time — a time which deposed 
a pope, and debated the re-union of the Greek and 
Latin Churches — was almost hostile to monasteries. 


Heysvorth came hither from the great abbey of 
St. Alban's, bringing Avith him full knowledge of the 
cloister life which lives for us in the pages of Chaucer. 
We get glimpses of it in our own diocese as we follow 
liim from place to place on his visitation tours. The 
abbot of Burton defied him, refusing to come to Lich- 
field to answer for his irregularities. The abbot of 
St. Werburgh's, Chester, confessed that the bishop had 
the right to inquire into the state of the abbey, but 
contrived to shut Heyworth out for life. 

In 1428 Heyworth visited the cathedrals, and set- 
tled for ever, by judicious compromise, the vexed 
question as to his right to do so. He came, he said, 
'"'■ tain jure ordliiario qua in aitctoritate a Papa delegato,'" 
and should come again every seven years. He would 
give due notice to the dean, who should summon the 
chapter. The accustomed peal should be rung at the 
time of his arrival, and the choir and chapter, in silk 
copes, should meet him at the west door ; thence 
they should conduct him in procession to the high 
altar, where he should stand or kneel alone in prayer ; 
and after that they should proceed together to the 
chapter-house, where he would inquire into the title 
and conduct of every canon. But the prebendaries^ 
and the vicars of prebendal churches, the priest 
vicars, and other officers and ministers of the cathe- 
dral, were to be free from the bishop, and subject 
only to the dean and chapter. After several days of 
deliberation the dean and chapter agreed to this 

^ The instrument of agreement ii printed in Wilkirs's " Con- 
cilia," iii., 508. 


New statutes, in 1428, were given to Tamworth 
Minster. In 1446 two of the Austin canons of Stone 
were allowed to undertake the care of the parish 
cliarch, just as a little later, in 1504, an Austin canon 
of Breadsall Priory was licensed by the next bishop 
to give occasional assistance in parish work. The 
novelty of these hints shows how little spiritual work 
the monks really did among their neighbours, and 
how seldom a hard-pressed clergyman could send to 
the monastery for help. The monks, indeed, were 
growing more and more secular; and in 1440 the 
bishop allowed Darley Abbey to throw the burden of 
maintaining chaplains at Glapwell and Walley, in 
Bolsover parish, and at Alvaston, in St. Michael's, 
Derby, upon the vicars of the mother-churches under 
pretence of re-uniting these chapels to their mother- 

In the time of Bishop Heyworth, the town of Man- 
chester first cropped out into importance. The greater 
part of Lancashire lay in this diocese, including y^;//' 
indeed, out of its six hundreds, and all the tract of 
woody country between the Mersey and the Ribble. 
This tract was reckoned in Domesday as part of 
Cheshire ; and Liverpool was as yet a lonely stretch 
of beach on the " Liverpoole," — an obscure creek of 
the Mersey. Manchester was, undoubtedly, the most 
wealthy and populous town in Lancashire. It seems 
to have consisted, before the reign of Edward III., 
of two towns, — the one, Aldport, or the old port, 
on the Irwell, near the Campfield, the site of 
the chief fortress of the Roman Mancunium ; the 
other was situated near the confluence of the Irwell 


iind the Irk. From the Conquest there had been 
two churches : the one near Aldport, dedicated to St. 
Michael ; the other near the new town, dedicated to 
St. Mary. In no other place in Lancashire, as far as 
I know, were there at that early time two churches 
so near to each other as these Manchester churches. 
Rude buildings of timber, they were richly endowed 
by the Gresleys and De la Warrs, the ancient lords 
of Manchester.^ The rector of ^Manchester was the 
first of the secular clergy resident in Lancashire ; and, 
in so remote a part of this great diocese, was, no 
doubt, a great personage. 

Thomas de la Warre was now rector. Succeeding 
to the family peerage on the death of his brother, he 
determined to mark the event by doing something for 
the good of the town. So he called the townspeople 
by sound of the bell, and addressed them upon the 
increasing magnitude and population of the town, 
on the deficiency of its religious instruction, on the 
decay of its old churches, and the non-residence of 
its rectors. He proposed, with their consent, to turn 
his parish church into a college for a number of 
clergy, who in prayer and pastoral visitation should 
work together for the good of the town ; to increase 
the endowments to ^^200 a year; and to provide 
the collegiate buildings at his own expense. Thus 
he sowed the seed from which the present cathedral 
of Manchester sprang. The bishop gave the new 
institution a body of statutes, which occupy a large 
share of the space in his " Register." 

' Halley's " Lancashire Nonconformity," i. 9 ; an admirable 
work if its unfair bias towards dissent be discounted. 


So, too, in 1 410, when Isabel, widow of Sir Fulke 
de Penbridge, desired to found an institution in which 
she and her family should be remembered and prayed 
for, she paid ^^40 to the king for leave to buy the 
advowson of Tonge Church, Salop, from the abbey 
of Shrewsbury. She rebuilded the church in its pre- 
sent beauty, and endowed it with about ^^500 a year, 
of modern value, to support a warden, five chaplains, 
and thirteen old men. Bishop Heyworth watched 
the growth of the new institution, and sanctioned 
the transfer to it of the property of the old alien 
priory of Lapley which Edward III. had dissolved. 
Every day in the new house had its duties : — on 
Sundays, Mondays, and Fridays, the " Mass of the 
Holy Ghost " was to be said ; on Tuesdays, a " Mass 
for the Salvation of All Men " ; on Wednesdays, 
"The Angels' Mass"; and on Saturdays, the "Mass 
of Rest." The chaplains were tied to the spot for 
life, being " incapable of other preferment " ; and 
only the warden might wander from the church. 

If any of the old men Avere bed-ridden they were 
to be visited three times a Aveek by one of the chap- 
lains ; and if any stranger dined in hall, the chap- 
lain who introduced him had to pay for his dinner — 
3d. if at the high table and |d. at the low. 

The battle of Shrewsbury was fought, according to 
the rhyming chronicle of Stone, 

On St. Mary's Even sickerlie 
In the year One thousand four hundred and three. 

There fell the hope of the Percies and the head 
of the Staffords. The latter earl was brought to 
Stafford. Over his grave was built a friary of a new 
kind — that of Augustinian hermits. A similar friary 



sprang up outside the gates of Shre'\\'sbury. On the 
field of the struggle itself, the rector of the parish 
built a small collegiate church, which was called 
"Battlefield," and dedicated it to St. Mary Magdalene. 
The rector thus recorded in the most striking manner 
the deep impression which the sanguinary fray had 
made upon the neighbourhood; but he also showed 
his leaning toward the Lancastrian party, — leanings 
which he shared with many a brother clergyman. 

The shutting up of anchorites in small cells attached 
to town churches seems to have been a feature of the 
time. The ceremony of enclosing them was apparently 
looked upon as of great importance and solemnity. 
In 1509 the bishop suffragan himself went to Mac- 
clesfield to shut up Joan Hythe, a nun from Derby, 
in a cell at the church. Such a cell, with a little 
awmbry or recess in the wall, seems to have existed 
on the northern side of St. Chad's chancel at Stafford.^ 

The anchorites were sometimes of noble birth, and 
were in any case necessarily waited on by servants. 
Neighbouring householders sent them food, which 
was passed in to them through a curtained hole in the 
wall. At these openings many a troubled conscience 
asked their prayers and advice, and sometimes, in the 
case of an anchoress, not a little gossiping was done. 
When not so employed, or at prayer, or listening to 
the service within the adjoining church, the anchorite 
was supposed to be musing on religious subjects, 
especially the Passion of our Blessed Lord ; and 
forth from such a cell, burning with the living fire 
of a soul which knew both itself and God, came one 

^ Traces of the cell were plain before the last restoration of 
ihe chancel. The awmbr}- is still seen. 


of the great diocesan preachers of the Middle Ages, 
John Grace, who is mentioned on page 154. 

One of the dukes of Lancaster gave two hundred 
and eighty acres for the support of two anchoresses 
" in a certain place in the churchyard of "Whalley, 
and their successors, being recluses, there to pray for 
his soul for ever." But, to the '• grete displeasaunce 
of hurt and disclander of the abbeye," "divers of the 
w}Tnen .... servants .... have byn misgovernyd 
and gotten with chyld within the seyd plase halow}'d.'' ^ 
King Henry VI., therefore, confiscated the propert}^ 

At Anchor Church, near Repton, and the Hermitage 
at Bridgenorth, there are curious rock chambers which 
belong to the hermit or country class of solitary recluse. 
The former lies in the rocky shore of a romantic 
bit of back-water from the Trent : the latter is cut in 
the rock overlooking the road through Morf forest 
It is said that a brother of Athelstan had once his 
lonely abode and rude orator}- in the latter place ; 
and in the time of Edward III. a succession of her- 
mits was ushered into it under royal seal and patent, 
with formalities the same as those used to introduce 
a dean or prebendary- to the constable of Bridgenorth 
Castle.- On the 2nd of Februar}-, 1328, John 
Oxindon was presented by the king : five years later 
Andrew Corbridge ; two years afterwards, Edmund 
de la Mare ; and eleven j-ears after that, Roger Burgh- 
ton. '• Either the hermits must have been near the 
termination of their pilgrimage when inducted, or a 
damp cell did not agree with them."' 

' ^^^littake^'s "History of ^Vhalley,■■ p. 77. 
* Ey ton's " Antiquities of Salop.*' 
M 2 


Curiously, both at Bridgenorth and at Macclesfield, 
tales of chests of buried treasure linger even to our 
day : that at Macclesfield is supposed to lie deep 
down in the old town well, in the church wall, and 
to be guarded by two mighty frogs which "spit fire " 
as often as their ward is threatened by adventurous 

In 1405 Coventry was the scene of a Parliament 
whose proceedings might have been tinged by nine- 
teenth-century radicalism. It was summoned by writ, 
dated at Lichfield, and was held in the Great Chamber 
of the Priory. Its mark was made on history by 
boldly proposing to supply the king's needs out of 
Church property. The Archbishop of Canterbury 
was, however, able to stave off the sacrilege. The 
clergy, he said, supported the State by their prayers 
as well as by the services of their lands. The Speaker 
thought the prayers were " a slender supply." 
Whereupon the Archbishop rebuked him, and was 
able to touch the king's conscience with regard to 
his coronation oath. Turning to the Commons, he 
added : — 

"You, and such like as you, have advised the king to con- 
fiscate the alien priories on pretence he should gain great riches 
by it ; and, indeed, they were worth many thousands. Not- 
withstanding, it is most true that the king is not half a mark 
the richer for it ; for you have extorted or begged them out of 
his hands and have appropriated their goods to your own uses. 
So it may be well conjectured that your request to have our 
temporalities proceeds not so much for the king's profit, as for 
your covetousness. For, without doubt, if the king should fulfil 
your wishes, he would not be one farthing the richer for it by 
the year's end. And, verily, I will sooner have my head cut off 
than this should be." 




Bishop Butler as a Specimen of Later MediEevalism — Wars of the 
Roses — The Lords Marchers — Preaching — Bishop Blythe 
— Burns a Lollard. 

The period which now comes under notice was one 
in which Church matters were well symbolised by the 
incoming mode of architecture. In many places, 
from the choir of Lichfield Cathedral downwards, the 
huge clerestory windows of the Perpendicular style 
were now introduced, pouring down floods of light. 
Grammar-schools and colleges were springing up in 
all directions ; as soon as people began to learn 
to read they provided these larger windows. The 
naves had hitherto been in great measure lighted only 
through the aisles ; but since they were still used as 
markets and exchanges, or as places to walk and 
gossip in, even whilst service was going on in the 
choir, the greater light from above must have revealed 
anything but religion in the crowd below. 

The first bishop of the period, William Booth 
(1447-1450), was speedily translated to York. Whilst 
here he found the numerous manor-houses of the see 
a cumbrous and expensive adjunct to episcopacy, and 
prudently resolved to reduce their number. Accord- 
ingly, he got leave from the pope, in 1448, to abandon 


all to decay except the palaces of Coventry and Lich- 
field, the castle and manor-house of Eccleshall, which 
latter two were probably the grim old fortress and 3. 
pleasant residence under its protection, — the manor- 
house of Beaudesert, which was conveniently near to 
and yet sufficiently far from Lichfield, and the beautiful 
and dignified town residence of the bishops in the 
Strand. But whilst keeping up Lichfield Palace, he 
had no intention of living there ; he committed it, with 
the pools, and the boats and swans upon them, to the 
care of William "Plumer," who was also commissioned 
to do the " plumbing " work in all the houses of the see. 

The next bishop, Nicolas Cloose (1452-145 2), 
had often been resident in the diocese whilst bishop of 
Carlisle; the " halfway-house " between Carlisle and 
London being at Melbourne, near Derby. He was 
famous for skill in the lightsome architecture of the 
time, and was trusted by the king to superintend the 
building of King's College chapel at Cambridge. 

Then came the busy rule of Reginald Bolars 
or Butler (1453 -1459), translated hither from 
Hereford by papal bull. His "Register" is full of 
characteristic incidents, at which, a cursory glance 
may be given in these pages. 

Some transactions of a familiar kind are recorded, 
and some new ones. Newport church, Salop, is 
made collegiate, and several rectories are appropriated 
to chapter-bodies ; but the older appropriations begin 
to be challenged : in 1456 an abbot has to prove his 
title to the rectory of Kinfare ; and the abbot of 
Burton has no less than five disputes of the kind. 

The rectory of Eckington, Derbyshire, was then 


held by two rectors. The patron petitioned the bishop 
to unite the moieties, which was done in 1456, on the 
resignation of one of the holders. But we are startled 
to read that, in 1455, "Friar Cliff" so far forgot the 
characteristic intention of his order as to bring a 
papal dispensation allowing him to hold a benefice, 
and to be made rector of Swarkestone, in Derbyshire. 
This, however, is by no means the only instance of 
papal meddling. The pope has apparently estab- 
lished also a claim that every bishop should, on his 
first appointment, bestow a benefice upon some papal 
nominee, or a pension if no living were vacant. Such 
a demand was made on Bolars. 

Benefices are now often exchanged, and as often 
resigned ; the old incumbents being entitled to pen- 
sions, secured by oath taken of their successors. In 
1457 two claimants demand institution to the vicar- 
age of Rotley ; the nominee of the prior of Clatercote 
being admitted on giving a bond to resign if his rival 
should prove his title. 

The old chapel of St. Helen's, Derby, is still in 
existence ; the abbot elect of Darley being " con- 
firmed " there in 1458. 

Rural deans are also still at work; for, in 1456, 
the dean of Stafford is to proclaim excommunication 
against some unknown breaker of warren on the 
bishop's lands at Berkswich ; and there is careful 
note of the fact that the archdeacon's officials had 
given in their obedience to the bishop. Perhaps the 
latter were trying to shake themselves free from the 
bishops, and to exercise independent authority, after 
the manner of their brethren in the extreme north of 


Lancashire. As yet, however, both rural deans and 
archdeacons are subject to the bishop. 

Derbyshire seems to have been just then proHfic 
in chantries, a fourth priest being admitted in 1454 
at Chaddesden. 

The improved style of manor-house, then rising in 
all directions, is reflected in the "Register" by fre- 
quent notices of licences granted by the bishop for 
celebrations in private chapels. Christopher de Holt, 
in 1456, has a two years' licence to hear mass in his 
chapel. In 1457 Henry, son of Humphrey, duke of 
Buckingham, is licensed to be married in the chapel 
of Maxstoke Castle to his cousin Margaret, countess 
of Richmond. Agnes Davenport, in 1455, is allowed 
to have her private chaplain for the celebration of 
divine offices. Sir Edward Talbot may have private 
mass at Blackburne, and Richard Erdeswick at 
Sandon. Another squire may worship at home during 

Confessions and indulgences claim much attention. 
John Woodcoat, chaplain, is in December, 1457, 
commissioned to " shrive the anchorite of Polesworth." 
Friar Gedne)^, a Carmelite, in 1456, may hear the 
confessions of a hundred persons. John Grene, M.A., 
a chaplain, may preach in the diocese. 

Indulgences figure largely in connexion with the 
architecture of the time, being lavishly bestowed for 
periods of forty days on all who would help in repairing 
old bridges or building new ones. The bridge at 
AVolsley, which connected episcopal property, was 
thus favoured in 1455. There was then a chapel at 
" Bridge foot." In the same year Packington Bridge 


received a like help ; the bridge at Weston-on-Trent 
and Yoxall, in 1458 ; at Oreton, and Aston, and How- 
bridge, perhaps Hugbridge, in 1457. And again, in 
1455, the bishop offers a forty days' indulgence to 
every one who would listen to the sermons of a canon 
of Haughmond who was to preach through the diocese 
in " Latin or English," 

Excommunicate persons now give the bishop con- 
siderable trouble, and he more than once petitions 
the secular arm to help him in catching them. On 
the other hand, he stoutly demands that convicted 
clerks be handed over from the king's prisons to 
his own. 

Lollardy has not yet died out, though it now appears 
as a wild and fanatical heresy, which would be abhorred 
even in the nineteenth century. In 1454 John 
Woodward, of Tamworth, is tried in Bishop Butler's 
court for flatly denying any sort of efficacy in the 
consecration of the eucharist, and maintaining that 
there was no saving power in baptism or Church 
ordinances, and that it mattered but little whether 
man and wife were married : the culprit saved him- 
self by abjuring his heresies. 

The morals of the people seem to have been fairly 
pure at this time. The bishop mentions no case of 
adultery in his Register : but when the nunneries at 
Polesworth and Chester were visited, slight abuses 
were found therein ; and in November, 1457, a run- 
away husband, who had gone into the diocese of Bath 
and Wells, was reached by the bishop from his ecclesias- 
tical court by a citation issued through the bishop of 
that diocese. Widows, too, v>'ho desired to devote 


themselves to Church work, donned the veil of per- 
petual widowhood on promising not to marry again. 
The veiling took place, we suppose, in the sacristy, 
not the church, before the bishop or his commissary ; 
and entitled the devotee to become a deaconess if she 
could obtain such an appointment. 

The bishop's own Hfe was by no means tranquil. 
In November, 1457, he issues a protestation touching 
the rights of his see, in preparation for some expected 
invasion of them, perhaps from the " Liberationists " 
of the day, of which there was then no lack ^ ; and 
in 1454, though master of a thousand a year in the 
money of the time, his clergy vote him a charitable 
subsidy of a shilling in the pound in " relief of his 
burdens." Does the bridge-building illustrate this? 
Or was it because he was then lying under the 
suspicion of the crown as having acted doubtfully, if 
not dishonestly, when, as abbot of Gloucester, he had 
been commissioned to pawn the crown jewels ? 

The state of the nunneries has been already 
noticed. That of the abbeys was far worse, though 
Haughmond appears to be in peculiar favour, judging 
from the important officers ^ thence selected. The 
once-famous abbey of Burton has sadly fallen. Forty 
years before this time, Abbot Sudbury had refused to 
come to Lichfield when summoned by the bishop to 
give account of his irregularities. Now, drunkenness 
is the least crime of his successor, Henley, who is 
dismissed by the bishop from his office. The prior of 
Burscough, in Lancashire, too, is, about the same 

' See note on Coventrj' Priory, p. 164. 

- Diocesan penitentiary as well as preacher. 


time, found guilty of having practised sorcery in con- 
junction with a neighbouring clergyman ; Butler 
punishes both, suspending the prior and depriving 
the vicar. 

Nor was there less to correct in the churchyards. 
The houses of the chapter at Lichfield were in 
"scandalous ruin," and the bishop ordered the 
canons to repair them. Blood had been shed in the 
cathedral graveyard, and in the churchyards at Ros- 
therne and Ellesmere. The churches of Wolver- 
hampton, Stone, and St. Werburgh's, Derby, needed 
" reconciliation," after like pollution, before the 
century was out. 

The decline of the once-popular Grey Friars may, 
perhaps, be indicated; Butler records that in 1452 
he had examined Friar Wells before licensing him to 
hear confessions. 

Towards the end of this bishop's Register we have 
a curious glimpse of old-world life at Gnosall. 
William Godthank had been accused of theft. He 
and eight of his neighbours were summoned into the 
church on a Sunday in 1458. He swears before 
the altar that he is innocent and the neighbours 
that they believe him, and the bishop thereupon 
threatens excommunication against any one who 
should in future slander him. This ceremony of 
"purgation " is not often mentioned in the " Registers," 
and when it is, Eccleshall Church is generally the scene 
of it. For example : when a felon at Chester Assizes 
claimed benefit of clergy, and was sent by the judge 
to the bishop for ecclesiastical trial, proclamation was 
made in church and market at Coventry that his 


purgation would take place in Eccleshall on a certain 
day, when and where all who desired to support his 
oath of innocence were to appear. 

Butler left his books to the library of Gloucester 
Abbey, and his chalice and vestments to Lichfield 
Cathedral, where, in 1459, he was buried. A prelate 
of higher type succeeded him. 

Wild as the times had been during the Welsh and 
Scotch wars of the early Henries and Edwards, they 
became wilder still in the wars of the Roses. No- 
where was the strife fiercer than in this diocese. 
Here were fought the battles of Shrewsbury and 
Bloreheath ; and from Coventry went the Lancastrians 
to the bloody field of Northampton. Tutbury was the 
castle of John of Gaunt ; the duke of Buckingham 
owned the towers of Stafford, and depended for his 
strength on his trusty troops of Stafford knots. In 
Cheshire were the Stanleys ; at Heeley, the Audleys, 
heroes of Poictiers, and losers of Bloreheath ; at 
Tamworth, the Marmions. The great king-maker 
himself lay on our border, and was obliged to accept 
alternate precedency as the first of the barons with 
the head of the Staffords now rising to the height of 
their bad fortune as dukes of Buckingham. It was, 
therefore, impossible that the Church should pass 
tranquilly through a period so tempestuous, or some- 
times avoid taking sides. 

John Halse, or Hales (1459-1492), had hardly 
got into his castle of Eccleshall, after his nomination 
by the Crown, before he was called on to give shelter 
to Queen Margaret. She had witnessed the battle of 
Bloreheath from Muccleston steeple, and when all 


was lost to the Lancastrians, had got her horse's shoes 
reversed by a smith (whose descendants still live 
amongst us), and fled for dear life to the new bishop's 
strong walls. The event showed Hales's leaning to 
the Lancastrian cause and its new- world sympathies, — 
a leaning shared by the vicars choral of Lichfield, as 
shown by the pardon granted them by Edward IV., 
"pro raptibus mulierum, rebellionibus, insurrectioni- 
bus, felonis, conspirationibus maintenenciis, ac aliis 
trangressionibus, offensis, &c." The terrible cata- 
logue probably only means that the cathedral at 
Lichfield, like that of Coventry, had been very loyal 
to the former government as long as it lasted. 

Conspicuous among the characteristics of this time 
is the extensive use of brick at Lichfield. This 
material was used in building a library between the 
nave and the deanery, and for canons' houses, and, 
a little later, on colleges for the choristers, chantry 
priests, and vicars. 

Under the long rule of such a bishop, the spirit of 
the coming Reformation could not but gather strength 
among the ordinary clergy of the diocese. He 
fostered solid learning, and invited able men from 
the University to fill his stalls at Lichfield. Foremost 
among these was Dean Heywode, who spent about 
;^6oo of money of modern value upon the library. 
In point of learning, James Beresford, vicar of Ches- 
terfield^ and Wirksworth, and one of the benefactors 
of St. John's College, Cambridge, outshone his 
brother canons ; and in 1493 Dr. John Yotton, 

' Whence his father had marched out at the head of a troop 
of his sons and servants to fight for the Red Rose. 


succeeding good Dean Heywode, gave loo marks 
towards finishing the library ; he left also a sum of 
money at his death to endow a clergyman, who should 
either preach the gospel in neighbouring churches, or 
plead the cause of poor churchmen when they found 
themselves in the bishop's courts. 

The short episcopate of William Smyth (1492- 
1496) is remarkable only for its large ordinations. 
The bishop was himself mostly absent, being lord- 
president of the Welsh Marches ] Thomas Fort, prior 
of Stone, being suffragan. 

During the vacancy of the see, before Smyth's 
consecration, Richard Wycherley, rector of Powick 
and suffragan bishop of AVorcester, ordained two 
days in succession ; and when the bishop began work 
in person, he ordained two hundred persons at once 
in Tutbury Church, 

As the founder of Brasenose College in Oxford, 
Smyth's interest in learning is beyond doubt. He 
showed it here by rejecting, in 1494 and 1495, can- 
didates nominated to livings by the monks of Repton 
and Beauchief, and in the latter year, especially, by 
turning out the Austin canons of St. John's Priory, at 
Lichfield, and refounding that house as a free grammar- 
school and a home for aged men. In building afresh 
there, he used brick ; and he furnished his poor 
beadsmen,, not only with the row of quaint chimneys 
for which St, John's is still remarkable, but with the 
luxury of a load of fuel from Cannock Woods once 
a day as often as they liked to send for it, 

Smyth's chief work was that of his presidency of 
Wales, and as such he lived in splendid state in the 


castle at Ludlow, or in the pleasant summer residence 
at Bewdley, which belonged to Arthur, Prince of 
Wales, to whom he was a sort of viceroy and 

This presidency had its own council, which sat in 
term-time at Ludlow, a mace of majesty being 
carried before the first lord as before the lord chan- 
cellor or the speaker of the House of Commons. 
The council heard appeals and redressed wrongs ; 
they issued warrants which were current throughout 
Wales ; they were on the commission of the peace 
for every county in the principality, and had a voice 
in the nomination of lords - lieutenant, sheriffs, 
€scheators, &c. From the revenues belonging to 
the Prince of Wales, the lord-president was allowed 
;^2o a week for a table for himself and the council. 
His chaplain, who was to be a master of arts at least, 
had a stipend of ^50 a year, ?>., of ^^500, at least, in 
modern money, and board for himself and servants. 

This high office fell to several succeeding bishops 
of Lichfield, who were thus drawn away from their 
diocese in stirring times. 

Smyth's "Register," and that of his successor, John 
Arundel (1496-15 03), afford a few characteristic 

In 1 49 1 the marriage of Sir W. Trotebeck and 
Joanna Butler was annulled by the archbishop, 
" causa co7isanguinifatis quarto gradu non dispensatcE.^ 
Such entries often occur in following years. 

Jacob Lawe and Sampson Meverell, base-born, 
and Godfrey Ely, blind of one eye, are dispensed by 
the pope for ordination. 


In 1493 the canons of Gresley Priory ask the 
bishop to choose a prior for them, instead of electing 
one themselves, — Robert Mogge is appointed. 

In 1495 the treasurership of the cathedral is 
looked upon as a Derby benefice, because deriving 
its emoluments from Sawley rectory. 

In 1493 the pope allows James Stanley, son of 
the earl of Derby, to hold preferment, but to post- 
pone priest's orders for seven years. 

Among others, the rectors or vicars of Stoke-on- 
Terne, Uttoxeter, St. Peter's, Derby, retire on pensions. 

In 1498 the four White Nuns of Brewood ask the 
bishop to appoint them a prioress, in the place of 
Alice Wood retiring on a pension. The abbot of 
Lilleshall also retires on a pension. 

The life of the next bishop, Geoffry Blythe 
(i 503-1 534), was not uneventful. He was a native 
of Derbyshire ; the house where his parents lived 
at Norton, near Sheffield, as well as his chantry- 
chapel and chantry-house, being still pointed out. 

Blythe was popular at Lichfield for his gifts to the 
minster. He built a house for the choristers, gave 
little silver images of St. Catherine and St. Chad, 
and delighted the hearts of the canons by dissolving 
Fairwell nunnery and bestowing its goods on them. 
In return, they bound themselves to say an obit for 
him every year, little foreseeing the ruthless over- 
turning in store for all such engagements. 

Blythe's episcopate seems to have been by no means 
of an even tone. In 15 10 he was prisoner in the 
Tower ; at another period he is surrounded by ener- 
getic Reformers ; and, again, he is burning heretics. 


Smyth had ordained John Colet, the well-known and 
enlightened dean of St. Paul's. Dr. Collingwood, 
dean of Lichfield, under Blythe, from 15 12 to 1522, 
was not unlike Colet. He was a busy preacher; 
and, when sermons were few and far between, 
preached half an hour every Sunday. 

Perhaps the fact that Collingwood was at length 
buried near St. Chad indicates a longing for the 
better, if ruder, churchmanship of St. Chad's day ; 
at all events, whilst Collingwood was dean, Blythe 
did not molest the Lollards, who were still to be 
found among the poor and uneducated, — the sort 
of people who are now Primitive Methodists. In 
the early part of his episcopate, Blythe had re- 
luctantly endeavoured to stamp them out; in 151 1 
bishops elsewhere had persecuted heresy, and in 
November Blythe tardily followed their example. 
He sat at Maxstoke Priory, holding the " Court of 
Heresy," of which Fox has made so much in his story 
of " The Martyrs of Coventry." Thomas Fletcher, 
smith, and others, were then tried for Lollard 
leanings. All saved themselves by abjuration ; but 
in the following March, when the scene shifted to 
Coventry Cathedral, Joan Warde, or Washbury, 
finally affirmed her want of faith in transubstantiation, 
pilgrimages, and image-worship, and was handed over 
to the sheriff for the flames. Her fate sufficed Blythe 
until seven years after Collingwood's death ; indeed, 
it seems clear that he, at least, did not persecute 
unless the state of ecclesiastical feeling forced him to 
do so. He had, as we have seen, tardily joined 
the general movement in 151 1; and the long list of 



Joan Washbury's recantations in his "Register" shows 
how slow he was to condemn her. Nor, again, till 
carried off his feet by the strong wave of passion 
raised throughout England in 1528 by Bilney and 
the English New Testament, did he resume the part 
of inquisitor. This time the culprit was a clergyman : 
reforming doctrines had reached a higher class once 
more. Richard Coton, for a sermon preached at 
Atcham near Shrewsbury, was sentenced to carry a 
faggot in procession round the cathedral, and after- 
wards round Atcham Church. 

The kindliness of Blythe, which crops out through 
all the enforced savagery of his conduct toward the 
Lollards, seems, as we have said, to have endeared 
him to the clergy. But, from his frequent absence 
as lord-president of the Welsh marches, they could 
not have seen much of him. 

For many years the real work of the diocese had 
been done by suffragan bishops, and a short cata- 
logue of their names may be given here. Under 
Bishop Heyworth, in 1428, we read of '•'■ Lao- 
mensis Eps^ In 1452 the bishop of Down and 
Conor ordains in the cathedral, and the bishop 
of Sodor in the Black Friars' church at Chester ; 
John of the Isles, Insulen, John Green (bishop of 
Sodor and Man), is ordaining in 1456, and the bishop 
of Aghadoe in the Black Friars, Chester, which was 
probably a larger church than St. John's, in 1481 ; 
in 1492-3 he is doing the same work at Tutbury; 
in 1494 at Coventry, and St. Peter's, Salop ; and in 
1495 at Eccleshall, Coventry, and Stone. Very few 
bishops after him seem to have itinerated for ordina- 


tions, which now began to be held at Lichfield only, 
and that four times a year. 

The number of candidates was still large : 42 
acolytes, 45 subdeacons, 42 deacons, and 51 priests 
being ordered at Coventry when last mentioned above. 

Arundel's suffragan is called ^'- Pavadensis Eps^ 

During the dark days before the Reformation, the 
evil habit of translating bishops was begun by the 
pope, Bishop Skirlaw being the first of our bishops 
who was moved. The monasteries, too, rather than 
lay patrons, in the fifteenth century, began to sell the 
"next two " turns to presentations in their gift. And 
in T547 Bishop Sampson (1543-1554) actually sold 
to three laymen the right of nominating an archdeacon 
of Stafford, and in 1554 the next presentation to 
three prebendal stalls ! 

But to return to Blythe's time. In 1529 the 
proctors of the five archdeaconries met to elect Dr. 
Ralph Sneyd and the archdeacon of Salop (Stete) tO' 
represent the diocese in Convocation. The two were 
paid wages for their maintenance by a tax upon bene- 
fices. They were elected to represent the diocese in the 
memorable Convocation of that year which met under 
the magnificent roof of St. Paul's, in November,^ and 
at which they deliberated upon the reformation of the 
Church. Their decision to extinguish abuses with 
regard both to monasteries and candidates for ordi- 
nation, and their strong protest against the encroach- 
ment threatened by Parliament upon the liberties of 
the Church as secured by " Magna Charta," show 

' For a full account of this Convocation see Canon Dixon's 
" History," i. 30. 

N 2 


how willingly Churchmen entered upon the great 
work of reformation which was now beginning in 

A note or two from Blythe's "Register" may be 
illustrative of the times. 

In 15 lo John Blyth, scholar of Paris, is made 
archdeacon of Coventry. He is also prebendary of 

In 1 5 15 three persons buy the next two turns of 
the advowson of St. Michaels, Coventry, and three 
others that of Arley. Birmingham and Avon Dassett 
were sold in 1523. 

In 15 16 John Bonde, citizen of Coventry, founded 
Wardend chapel, near Birmingham, and the vicar of 
Aston gave it certain parochial rights. 

In 1529 the vicar of Allestry is found to have a 
right to tithe of trees (fol. 17). 

In 15 14 but one monk remained in Canwell Priory: 
he was made prior. 

In 15 1 7 an acolyte, a minor, already doubly bene- 
ficed, is made rector of Leigh. 

In 1530 a canon of Ronton is rejected as indoctus 
and indigtms when nominated to the vicarage of 
Seighford. And John Blythe is made archdeacon of 
.Stafford in the place of Jeoffry Blythe, resigned. The 
bishop cares for his family. 

In 1506 the warden of Manchester, Stanley, was 
made bishop of Ely. 

In 15 19 Thomas Linacre, M.D., Henry VIII.'s 
physician, is made parson of Wigan. 

William Blythe is made joint keeper of Beaudesert. 

^\'illiam Setel is handed over from York Assizes 


convicted of felony. He claims to be a subdeacon, 
ordained by Bishop Hales, but his name is not on 
the lists. 

In 1509 the foundation of St. John's Chapel, on 
the south side of Manchester Minster, is confirmed. 

The espousals of two infants, Thomas Sothwell 
and Margaret Boteler, are declared null and void, 
in 15 13, by the pope. They are absolved for cohabi- 
tation, and allowed to marry, though cousins. 

In 1527 the Lichfield chapter bind themselves to 
say an obit for Blythe in return for his gifts, which 
are, p^^ioo, the union of Fairwell Nunnery to their 
funds, the chorister-house, &c. 

In 1 5 10 the king in council writes to the bishops 
of the province of Canterbury requiring them to 
forego their appeal to Rome against their archbishop 
in the matter of probate, and accept the king's deci- 
sion as final, — Bishop Blythe accepts it. 

In the last two entries we have the foreshadowing 
of two important events, — the fall of the monasteries 
and the rejection of the papal primacy. 

A noteworthy deed was done then by Denton, 
dean of Lichfield, who brought water into the close 
by means of leaden pipes. The Grey Friars had 
done the same thing, and their conduit now supplies 
the Black Country ; the Austin Friars of Stafford 
had set up water-works nearly a century before, thus 
achieving, four hundred years ago, what the corpora- 
tion of Stafford have for the last three years been 
attempting in vain. 




Bishop Lee and his Noble and Ignoble Deeds — Return to Older 
Type of Christianity — Sketch of the Minsters on the Edge 
of the Storm which destroyed so many of them. 

It was in the year 153 1 that the king forced the 
clergy to style him " their supreme head on earth, 
next after Christ," and fined them the enormous 
sum of ;;^ioo,ooo as the penalty, under the Act of 
Praemunire, for acting under Wolsey. Bishop Blythe 
scarcely siirvived this blow. He died in London the 
same year, and was brought to Lichfield, where he 
was buried near the shrine of St. Chad. 

During the vacancy which now occurred, the chan- 
cellor of the diocese, Rowland Lee,^ bore a share 
in an event of the greatest importance. Probably 
through his connexion with the bishops, as lords- 
president of Wales, Lee had been made one of the 
royal chaplains. Henry VIII. had for some time 
been troubled in mind about his marriage with his 
sister-in-law, Catherine. Whether his scruples arose, 
as well they might, from an honest doubt as to the 
pope's right to legalise such a marriage, or whether 
from sheer love for Anne Boleyn, — who would favour 

^ had gone with Beydell to examine the Holy INIaid of 
Kei:l, but could get nothing out of her. 


his suit only on condition that she became his wife, — 
cannot be decided. Certain it seems that Wolsey 
had urged the pope to annul the marriage with Cathe- 
rine. Both EngHsh and foreign Universities had 
declared that the pope had no power to grant such a 
dispensation as that under which the king had 
married Catherine ; they had declared the match 
contrary to the laws both of God and nature. The 
pope, being under the influence of Catherine's 
relatives, had trifled seriously with Henry's passions 
or principle : he had kept him for years in suspense. 
As it had been, therefore, in the beginning of papal 
primacy in England, when the fears of the king were 
worked upon to pronounce in favour of St. Peter 
lest he should shut him out of heaven ; as it had 
been, too, in the days of King John, when a powerful 
pope took advantage of the king's weakness to plant 
his feet on England's neck ; so now, it happens again. 
But this time it is a powerful king who flings a feeble 
pope aside when he refuses to listen to his suit for a 
fair trial of his great personal grievance, and deter- 
mines to act without him. Act King Henry did by 
marrying Anne Boleyn. 

The ceremony was performed early on a November 
morning in 1532, either in a chamber at Whitehall 
or in the chapel of Sopwell Nunnery, near St. Alban's, 
in Bedfordshire : Rowland Lee officiated. Lingard 
says that Henry deceived Lee as to the pope's con- 
sent, and sent for him as if to say mass. It is much 
more likely that Lee saw clearly enough that the pope 
ought really to have nothing to do with the matter. 

Some time afterwards Lee was promoted to the 


vacant see of Coventry and Lichfield. He ruled 
from 1534 to 1543, — nine eventful years. 

Having married the king to Anne Boleyn, he had 
to bear a heavy share in making the nation accept 
the marriage. The nun of Kent and her accom- 
plices, failing to accept his arguments, had been exe- 
cuted at Tyburn. Sir Thomas More and Fisher, 
bishop of Rochester, in spite of the new bishop's 
powerful logic, though not affirming that the marriage 
was unlawful, would not swear that they would 
preach and proclaim it to be just and holy, or that 
the king was head of the Church of England, and 
that the bishop of Rome had no more power in 
England than any other foreign prelate. Lee left 
them to their fate. They both went to the block. 
Lee failed, too, in persuading the Observant friars 
of Greenwich to take the oath, and left them to the 
king's bitter mercy when he came into his diocese. 

The choice of Lee for the difficult and delicate 
task of persuading the strong adherents of the Roman 
usurpation who held out for it when all the bishops and 
ecclesiastics in England had given it up and sworn 
against it, shows, at least, Henry's confidence in the 
powers of his new bishop — a confidence further illus- 
trated by Lee's immediate appointment to be presi- 
dent of Wales. To the Principality Lee betook him- 
self; the diocese was committed to the care of 
suffragans : hence his episcopal career is of strangely 
barren interest. His " Register " is remarkable for 
nothing but the enormous amount of traffic and 
trickery which was going on with regard to Church 
patronage. Caveats abound. In one year, 1532- 


1533, the prebends of Ufton and Oloughton, the chan- 
tries of St. Michael and St. Clement's, Coventry, and 
the livings of Aghton, Coleshill, Stoke-on-Trent, 
Ercall major, Southam, Fillongley, Forton, Plesley, 
Arley, Newport collegiate church, Quatt, Tarporley, 
Derby, St. Peter, Sandbach, Whitwell, Acton, Check- 
ley, Eckington, twice, Aldridge, and Sandon, twice, 
appear to have been in dispute, if not in the market. 

The great events of the time leave no trace behind 
them on the pages of the bishop's official record, 
excepting the erection of Chester into an episcopal 
see. No clergy seem to have resigned their livings 
when the Church and king adjudged themselves free 
from Roman control. This is surely a fact of the 
gravest importance. The Church consists of its 
members ; they were the same after as before this 
crucial period of reformation. No " Roman Catholics 
turned out "j no "Protestants came in." They who 
assert that the old Church ceased to be, and that 
a new Church was created by Henry VIII., assert a 
fancy of the most baseless kind. 

Lee's nine years of rule in Wales were of vast good 
to the Welsh people. He cleared their borders of 
robbers, knit them by wholesome legislation into the 
English nation, and divided their country into coun- 
ties ; so that much of the feeling which now exists 
between England and Whales, as contrasted with the 
ill-feeling between England and Ireland, is really 
owing under God to the calm wisdom of Rowland 
Lee. So clear, indeed, was his mind, that an Act 
of Parliament which he promoted *' for certain ordi- 
nances in the king's dominions and Principality of 


Wales," contains "a most complete code of regula- 
tions for the administration of justice with such pre- 
cision and accuracy that no clause of it has yet 
occasioned a doubt or required an explanation." 

Lee's suffragans were Pavidensis and John of 
Penrith. The former superintended the diocese 
during the vacancy between Blythe's death and the 
bishop's consecration ; the latter, John Bird, abbot 
of Chester, was consecrated by the archbishop on 
June 24th, 1537, under the Act for the appointment 
of suffragans. 

Amid the excitement of his political work in Wales 
and the courtly splendours of Ludlow Castle, Lee 
could^^give but little personal attention to his episcopal 
work. Burnet has preserved a set of Injunctions 
which he issued, 1538. In them he bids the "clergie 
within the diocess of Coventrie and Lichefelde " to 
observe the king's injunctions, and to procure copies 
of them before the " Feast of Lammas nexte ensuing." 
They are to teach their parishioners that the king's 
Majesty is only Supreme Head under Chryst in Erthe 
of this his Churche of England. That every parson 
or impropriator of any parish church shall, on this 
side Whitsuntide, provide a " Boke of the hole Byble 
both in Latin and alsoe in Englishe and lay the same 
in the Quiere for every man that will to loke and 
reade thereon," — gently and charitably exhorting them 
to use a sober and " modeste haviour in the readynge 
and inquisition of the true sense." Monastic and 
cathedral impropriators were to provide a sermon 
every quarter in their churches from which they drew 
profit. The Paternoster, ave, and creed were to be 


recited in English every Sunday from the pulpits, and 
every third Sunday the seven deadly sins. and the ten 
commandments. The certainty and severity of the 
final judgment were to be impressed upon penitents 
in the confessional. Friars and monks were not to be 
curates without licence. No one was to be admitted 
to holy communion till he could repeat the Lord's 
Prayer, ave, creed, and ten commandments without 
book. The solemnity and binding character of 
matrimony were to be taught twice a quarter. Parish 
clergy were not to be forsaken for the ministrations 
of friar or monk, — that were but " to cloke and hide 
lewd and naughtie lyvyng." No testimonial from 
monk or friar was considered trustworthy. Church 
ales, and the resorting of youths and other unthrifts 
in sermon-time to the ale-house for unlawful games, 
blasphemies, and other enormities, and for bowling 
and drinking, were not to be tolerated, and the pub- 
licans told so. Twelve times a year the form and 
manner of christening were to be declared, and mid- 
wives instructed how to christen, and exhorted to 
have a bowl of pure water ready as birth drew on. 
Certain clergy dressed and lived like laymen, — they 
were to wear only clerical attire. 

Many of these injunctions, — as, for example, the 
teaching of the creed, and Lord's Prayer, and ten 
commandments, the injunctions as to dress and 
drunkenness, — were but the echo of what was passed 
seven hundred years before at the Council of Cloves- 
hoo. Those on preaching were much like those of 
Weseham, three hundred years before. The only 
new feature in them is the opening of the Bible to 


the laity in the EngHsh tongue. Thus the Church 
of the diocese, at the Reformation, struck out no new 
line of doctrine. The errors of modern Rome were 
many of them fixed on the Roman communion by 
the Council of Trent, which as yet had not been 
summoned. The Church of England comes out of 
her Reformation with her old organisation of bishops, 
priests, and deacons ; her old Saxon doctrines ; her 
old parish churches and secular cathedrals ; and her 
old services purified, transla,ted, and condensed. The 
Church of Rome from this point goes deeper down 
into the mire of mediaeval fancy ; she embraces 
erroneous " developments " as articles of faith ; and, 
, in the days of Pope Pius V., contemporary with our 
Queen Elizabeth, she instructs her English votaries to 
discard her old services for new ones, "with some 
things added out of the old English uses.''^ 

But all this was not accomplished without serious 
loss both to the bishopric and Church of the diocese 
of Lichfield. A return to Saxon Christianity was 
only effected by the breaking up of the Norman and 
mediaeval institutions. 

The cathedral at Lichfield was now complete. A 
hundred years before, Dean Heywode had put the 
finishing strokes to its great beauty. He had given 
it, among other choice gifts, an illuminated missal, an 
alabaster altar-piece for the chantry-chapel of St. Blaise, 
and a pair of organs, one of which, of great power 
and beauty, was dedicated to St. Chad and placed on 
the screen. He had stained the windows and pic- 

' See title of Roman Mass-books. 


tured the walls of the chapter-house. He had given 
the great " Jesus bell," which had been solemnly 
dedicated by Robert, bishop of Achonry, the suffragan. 
Whitlock tells us of other gifts. Bishop Blythe also 
had been very liberal, having given, among much 
else, ;^"2o to be spent on tapestry. 

Not the least interesting feature of the cathedral at 
this time were the many memorials of the dead. Just 
inside the west door Bishop Hales had been buried ; 
his dean had chosen to be laid at his feet, and the 
band of learned canons who had helped him to 
redeem the fair fame of Lichfield, had come one 
after another to lie near him. Magnificent monu- 
ments with effigies marked the graves of Butler, 
Burghill (a brass in the Lady chapel), and Stretton, 
in St. Andrew's chapel. Blythe and Lord Basset lay 
in marble on the north and south sides of St. Chad's 
splendid shrine, between the great altar and the Lady 
chapel. Dean Hey wood lay in double effigy, the one 
in full doctor's robes, the other denuded even of flesh, 
in the wall on the south side of the choir. Not 
far away was Langton's monument. Another stone 
bishop's in a blue mantle, with gold quatrefoils over a 
red gown, lay where Hackett's lies now. Nearly 
opposite lay underground the stone coffin, discovered 
in 1662, of Bishop Cornhill, thus inscribed on a 
leaden breast-plate : — 

Anno ab icarnacoe dni mccxxii obiit Will 
Coventr & Lichefeld eps. xiii kal. Septembiis 
Regni reg. Henrici fil Job xii sub Honorio 
Pp iii & I. Stepho Cantuar, ecclie archieps h rexit 
Aut eccliam istam viii annos & I . . ., menses. 


Patteshull had been buried before the altar of 
St. Stephen; Weseham had an oratory over his grave. 
Tasteful and lazy Molend lay under a tomb on the 
south side of the presbytery. 

It would thus appear that the greater number of the 
monuments were ranged on each side the south 
aisle of the choir, increasing in richness until the 
spectator passed to the back of the altar, where lay 
the richly-decked shrine of St. Chad, blazing with 
jewels. Some of the saint's bones were there ; 
and his skull was encased in gold. The little cells 
in the wall of the Lady Chapel may have been 
occupied by the ecclesiastics who watched the 

Outside, the walls of the Close were strong, its 
moat deep, and its gates defended by towers. The 
palace filled the north-eastern corner. It was pro- 
bably entered by a gateway, over and about which 
were ranges of small rooms " for the bishop's gentle- 
men," after the manner of Battle Abbey gateway. 
Next, westwardly, came the deanery, a prebendiB?'^ 
house or two, and, west and south-west, a series 
of colleges — the passion of the age — for choristers, 
chantry priests, and residentiary canons. The eye 
fell on row after row of goodly buttress, and gable, 
and mullioned window — all in fair contrast with 
the western front of the minster. Unlike the abbeys, 
the cathedral church dominated the whole plan, and 
wrote in great hieroglyphics, " God is in the midst 
of her ; she shall not be moved." 

Within the ten years after 1531, a vast change 
passed over the external face of this diocese, and 


nearly all the religious doctrines and institutions of 
Norman growth were then uprooted and destroyed. 
The Church herself stood firm ; but every abbey fell 
in the storm, and among them the grand old priory- 
cathedral of Coventry. 

The abbeys, indeed, were now great farming com- 
munities, with granges scattered far and wide over 
the country, where some of their brotherhood culti- 
vated the glebes and drew away the tithes of parish 
churches. So Combermere Abbey, in Cheshire, had 
a grange at Wincle, to look after sheep on the East 
Cheshire hills ; another at Gateham to watch the 
rectory of Alstonfield in the moors; another at Yarlet, 
near Stone, to take care the vicar of Sandon got but 
a scanty share of the endowments of his parish 
church. St. Thomas's, Stafford, had huge farming 
plant at Baswich and Herberton, — on the one side 
keeping watch on the prebendary of Baswich ; on 
the other, on the canons of St. Mary's and the pre- 
bendal rector of St. Chad's, as well as making the 
most of the land itself. Oxen, sheep, cows and 
calves, and swine, hay and corn, wains and har- 
ness, and troops of servants, enter largely into the 
inventories of these monasteries. The home 
buildings were of exceeding beauty. At the little 
priory of St. Thomas, Stafford, there was a noble 
church with four bells and a clock, and chambers 
furnished with beds and hangings of beautiful 
material, whilst yet the lay people lay generally on 

The churches of the abbeys were, however, now 
little more more than the Westminster Abbeys of the 


great families. Before the altar at Hilton, near Stoke, 
and probably also at Darley, near Derby, lay the 
marble tombs of the Lords Aiidley. Stone Priory was 
encumbered both in chapter-house, cloister, chancel, 
and chapels, with the glittering tombs of the Staffords. 
Before the altar at Croxden lay three simple stone 
coffins containing two Verdons and a Furnival, — 
coffins which still remain in their places, though the 
altar is gone. 

As long as the old nobility flourished the abbeys had 
been secure, but many noble houses vanished in the 
wars of the Roses, and others fell before the Tudors. 
A new race was springing up who cared nothing for 
famous dust, and who longed only for the fertile lands 
which, under the careful husbandry of a long line of 
abbots and priors, had been developed round the 
stately minsters. Even the old nobility, who, like 
the Stanleys, had held lands under St. Werburgh's 
at Chester, and the old gentry who had here and 
there held a grange or two under an abbey, began 
to think that it would be just as pleasant to hold 
the lands in their own right. So that when Henry 
VIII. became strong enough to sway Convocation 
and Parliament against the English usurpations of 
the pope, the abbeys could look for stanch friends 
neither to the bishops, who had all along disliked 
them, nor to the gentry, who coveted their wealth. 
But the poor loved them as their nursing mothers. 
St. Thomas, Stafford, with seven monks, had thirty 
servants, including four plough-drivers, at its disso- 
lution ; and Delacres, with thirteen monastics, had 
thirty-three, besides troops of contented tenants, who, 


when the lands fell into the market, were able to buy 
their own farms.^ 

But debt pressed heavily. St. Thomas, with an 
income of ^141, owed ;^235. 12s. yd. at its disso- 
lution. Delacres, with an income of ;C'22'], owed 
^lyi. los. 6d. 

When Rowland Lee became bishop, Coventry was 
a city of wonderful beauty. Full of religious houses, 
and of citizens whose delight lay in honouring the 
Church which fostered them, the good taste of Old 
England had luxuriantly blossomed forth in stone. 
Here was the priory-cathedral, larger and richer far 
than its model at Lichfield, and possessing a revenue 
of over ;^7oo a year. The prior was a peer of Par- 
liament, and his abbey a fit tarrying-place for kings. 
Here Henry of Monmouth, Prince of Wales, had 
been arrested by the doughty mayor of the city for 
some wild freak in 1411. Here, in 1410, Bishop 
Cattrick had gathered his clergy to vote St. Osburga, 
the local saint, worthy of a " double festival." In 
the long room of the priory, in 1414, King Henry 
held the " Unlearned Parliament," which had not 
a lawyer in it, and the "Laymen's Parliament," which 
dealt hardly with the clergy. King Henry VL came 
in 1456, and on Whitsun-day went with his queen, 
crowned and in state, in a long and splendid pro- 
cession of prelates, nobles, ladies, and churchmen, 
through the mill-yard, and into St. Michael's Church 

' When Randle de Blundeville gave Leekfrith to Delacres, it 
was forest. When Sir Ralph Bagnall got it from the Crown 
after the sack of Delacres, it had almost as many farms as at 



by the western door. At mass he gave his gown of 
cloth of gold for an altar-cover, and returned to the 
priory by the cathedral-door, which opened into St. 
Michael's churchyard. In October he was here again 
with his court. In September, 1459, he held in the 
Chapter-house the Parliameiitum diaboHcum, which 
fulminated attainders against the Yorkists, who were 
so soon to triumph at Blore Heath. And here, directly 
afterwards, the Lancastrian bishop. Bishop Hales, was 
consecrated. In 1467, the Yorkist, Edward IV., and 
his queen, kept Christmas here; and in 1487, the 
Lancastrian, Henry VII., and his queen, were here 
in council, and the archbishop of Canterbury, sitting 
on the bishop's throne, cursed with bell, book, and 
candle, all who should impugn the king^s title to the 
crown. Henry VIII. and his queen visited the city 
in 15 IT, and in 1528 the Princess Mary came to see 
the plays. The whole city, indeed, was full of religious 
houses and " guildhalls," having in it the only Car- 
thusian monastery in the diocese. Its cathedral was 
certainly the finest church the bishop had. Some 
traces of it still remain : which shall be described in 
Mr. Fretton's words : — 

" On removing the old premises, which had been 
used as the school-house, and digging for the founda- 
tion of the new schools, the whole of the inner portion 
of the west front has been opened to view, with part 
of the exterior, in an excellent state of preservation, 
and clearly indicative of the splendid building of 
which it formed a part. What remained of the north- 
western tower has been incorporated with the new 
buildings, much to the detriment of the older frag- 


ment, for what was left of its characteristic ornamen- 
tation has been mercilessly sheared off, and in parts 
made as clean as a new pin, the turrets being capped 
with a nondescript species of pyramid, resembling 
extinguishers rather than anything else. The inner 
portion referred to of the west front has been left 
uncovered, the churchyard being sloped off to the 
original floor, so that the plan of this end can be 
easily traced, and displays the commencement of the 
nave and north and south aisles ; the great western 
doorway, deeply recessed, and originally decorated 
with detached columns, giving access to the nave. 
At the north-west and south-west of the aisles were 
towers, each of which had newel staircases in its outer 
turrets, the bases of the towers forming recesses at 
the extremities of each aisle. The aisles had not, 
however, as at Lichfield, western doorways, and 
were narrow, the style being that of the Early 
English, which prevailed in the early part of the 
thirteenth century. The south aisle wall is com- 
pletely buried under the debris which has accumulated 
between it and Trinity churchyard, and upon which 
the road alongside of Priory Row is now carried. 
Traces of the walling of the great transept are per- 
ceptible adjoining Hill Top, and still farther east an 
entrance to some wine-vaults gives access to what 
has been frequently but erroneously regarded as the 
cr}-pt of the cathedral. These vaults extend west- 
ward, under the houses in Priory Row, as far as 
Hill Top, and the original walling is clearly per- 
ceptible ; but I have not as yet discovered the least 
trace of vaulting, or of semi-columns or corbelling 

o 2 


that could have supported any. Nor would the level 
allow of it, unless we assume that the floor of the 
choir was elevated an unreasonable height. What- 
ever there may be of crypt (and I can readily believe 
in the existence thereof), it is below this level that 
we must seek for it ; and referring to the description 
of Willis, who speaks of chambers being buried under- 
ground, there is ample room for the supposition 
proving correct, could a thorough investigation be 
made in portions of the site. Between Priory Row 
and the river, in the gardens at the back of the 
houses, and in the wood-yard, in New Buildings, 
and, in fact, all over the site, are traces of the various 
monastic buildings, of which only a careful and com- 
plete examination would enable us to form an ap- 
proximate idea of their design, plan, age, and purpose. 
I am quite satisfied that even a partial excavation, 
where practicable, would richly repay both expense 
and trouble." 




Inquiry into the State of Religious Houses — Proposal for a See 
of Shrewsbury — Glimpses of Means employed to Dissolve 
Abbeys and Friaries — Sales of Goods — Wreck of Country 
Chapels — Foundation of Chester See. 

On the 22nd of December, 1536, Layton and Legh, 
two royal commissioners appointed to examine and 
report upon the state of monasteries and colleges, 
met at Lichfield and proceeded thence towards York- 
shire, visiting the Trentside abbeys on their way. 
They gathered the results of their inquiry into Com- 
perta, or Registers of Disclosures. The disclosures 
are, indeed, of the most abominable kind, Repton, 
Gresley, St. James, and the Nunnery at Derby, Dale, 
Whalley, St. Werburgh's, Chester, Birkenhead, the 
Nunnery at Chester, the college of Manchester, and 
St. John's, Chester, and Combermere — all are blasted 
with foul character, only varying in degree of iniquity. 
Every special sin of which a celibate could be 
imagined guilty by vile minds was laid by the com- 
missioners at monastic doors. The new Austin friary 
of Breadsall, and Bunbury College, Cheshire, are 
the only exceptions in this district. 

A Black Book was compiled from the Disclosures 
throughout the country, and read before Parliament 


amid cries ot " Down with them! Down with them!" 
Then came the Act which gave to the king all abbeys 
with incomes of less than ;^2oo a year. Not a 
mitred abbot in the House of Lords Hfted his voice 
against it ; and the bishops were by no means reluc- 
tant to the removal of so many of their most trouble- 
some opponents. 

By this sudden sweep the great abbeys were left in 
trembling loneliness. Instead of seven monasteries, 
with an aggregate income of ;,^ 1,6 9 9, Cheshire had 
now only three, — St. Werburgh's, with a revenue of 
^1,003. 5s. iid. ; Combermere, worth ^225; and 
the abbey of Vale Royal, which Edward I. had 
founded at a cost of ;^3 2,000, and which held out 
against plunder. In 1538, "William abbat there" wrote 
to Cromwell from Lichfield that neither he "nor my 
brethren have never consented to surrender our 
monastery, nor yett doo ; nor never will doo by our 
willes, onless it should pleas the king to bid us." 
Derbyshire, which had houses to the annual value of 
^859, had but Darley left (^258). Whalley (^321), 
which would have stood alone in Lancashire, had 
been dissolved for "treason." Staffordshire, whose 
monastic property had aggregated ^1,494, was bereft 
of all but Burton (^267), and Delacres in Leek 
(^^227). Combe (^3ii)» Merivale {£2^^), and 
Nuneaton (;^2 53) stood in Warwickshire, besides 
the cathedral of Coventry. The chantries, friaries, 
and collegiate churches were not then touched. 

Though the monasteries had all through their his- 
tory been thorns in the side of the Church, and 
had preyed without mercy on the parish clergy, 


the destruction of so many hallowed and beautiful 
buildings, the scattering of so many valuable libraries, 
the silencing of so many silvery bells, the secularizing 
of so many sacred sepulchres, cannot be thought of 
without regret. The contents of the houses were sold 
almost without reserve, the sites granted or sold to 
laymen, and the buildings demolished. On one 
Sunday, the grantee of Repton, assembling all the 
masons and carpenters from far and wide, pulled 
down the priory church, "lest the rooks should come 
back to their nest and build again." Cranmer prayed 
Cromwell to grant the site of Rocester to a friend of 
his. The new owner of Calwich, near Ashburne, 
"a Lancashire man, made," wrote Erdeswicke, "a 
parlour of the chancel, a hall of the church, and a 
kitchen of the steeple, which may be true, for I have 
known a Cheshire gentleman who hath done the 

The bishop of Lichfield, Lee, got St. Thomas's, 
Stafford, as a family possession, and settled Fowler, 
one of his sister's children, there as a country gentle- 
man. So it was everywhere. 

A bill is printed by Mr. Wright, which was unpaid 
as late as 1555. It goes far to show that brokers 
followed the auctions. "The Worshipful Johan 
Skudemore, esquyer," is reminded that he bought 
bell and other metal at the abbey sales, and that he 
still owes for lead — at Rocester, 6 foder^; Croxden, 
14 foder; Delacres, 4 foder j Tutbury, 6 foder, 
I quarter; St. Thomas, 44 foder; Lilleshall, 5 foder; 

^ igh cwt. to the foder. 


Shrewsbury, 67^ foder, 300 lb. ; Dudley, 4 foder — an 
enormous weight of metal ! Can we wonder that the 
poor lead-miners came to speedy ruin ? 

Whilst the wreck was going on, and Henry's heart 
was warmed by the smiles of his approving courtiers, 
as well as by the rapid filling of his coffers, he pur- 
posed devoting some of the spoil to an increase of 
cathedrals and colleges. A scheme was draughted 
in 1538 for endowing a bishopric of Nottingham and 
Derby out of the abbeys of Welbeck, Worsop, and 
Thurgaton. Shrewsbury and Wenlock abbeys were 
to be cathedrals for Salop and Stafford. The great 
minster of St. Modwen at Burton was to be made 
a collegiate church and school. This scheme was 
abandoned. But an Act had been passed in 1534 
to allow the appointment of twenty- four suffragan 
bishops, one of whom was to take his title from 
Shrewsbury. Under this Act John Bird, abbot of 
Chester, was, in 1537, consecrated as "John of 
Penrith," to assist Lee. 

It seems that Henry had a second scheme for the 
Shrewsbury bishopric. This is as follows : — 

[Fol. 72 of MS.] 
Fyrst a Bushope. 

Item a Deane for the corps of his promotion xxvii. //. ) ,. ^ 
Item iiiii. s. by day ... ... ... Ixxiii. //. ) 

Item vi. prebendaryes each of them in corps J 

vii. //. xvi. s. viii. d. ... ... ... xlvii. //. > cxx. //. 

Item to each of them viii. d. by day in divident Ixxiii. //. ) 
Item a scolemaster to tech gramer ... xx. //. 

Item vi. peticanons to kepe the quier of whice oon 

of them shalbe sexten (/or x. //'. ) every of them to have 


yerly x. //. and the vi. [th] that shalbe sexten to have 
yerely xii. //. Item a gospeller and a pistoler which 
shalbe bounden to kepe the quier every of them to 
have by yere vi. //. xiii. s. iiii. d. Ixxv. /i. vi. s. viii. (f. 

Item vi. laymen to sing in the quier every of them to 

have by the yere vi. It. xiii. s. iiii. d... ... ... xl. //. 

Item a master to tech the children of the quier by yere x. //. 

Item vi. Choristers every of them to have by yere 

iiii. //. vi, s. viii. d. ... ... ... ... ... xx. /;'. 

Item bred Wine Wax candell and oyle for the churche 

by yere ... ... ... ... ... ... ... v. //. 

Item to two servants for the church by yere wages and 

diete ... ... ... ... ... ... ... x. //, 

[Fol. 72 back of MS.] 

Item iiii. poore men or of the king's servants decayed 

every of them to have by yere v. //. . . . ... ... xx. //. 

Item to be distributed in Almes to householders yerely xx. //. 

Item to be imployed yerely for makyne of high wayes xx. //, 

Item for the Reparacions yerely ... Ixvi. //. xiii. s. iiii. d. 

Item to the steward of landes ... ... ... ... v.//. 

Item to the Auditor by the yere ... ... ... v. //. 

Item to the porter for his wages and diete by the yere v. //. 

Item to the butler for his wages and diete by the yere v. /{. 

Item to oon chief Cooke for his wages and diete yei'e v. //, 

Item a under Cook for his wages ... ... ... iiii.//. 

Item for a steward for the kechyn for making of his 

book by yere ... ... ... ... vi, //, xiii. s. iiii. d. 

Item a Cater which shal fynde his horse at his charges 
to have by the yere for hys diete and the fynding of 
his horse ... ... ... ... vi. //. xiii. s. iiii. d. 

Item for extraordinarye charges ... ... ... ... xx //. 


Sum of all the charges ... v. c. iiii. ix. //. vi. s. viii. d. 

[Fol. 73 of MS.] [U. ;^589, 6s. Scf.] 

Sum of the deductions not charged with tenthes in the 

commen possession... ... ... ... cxxxiiii. //. 

For the tenthes Iiii. //. xi. s. iiii. d. ob. \ xx. 
For the frutes xxvi. //. xv. .r. viii. d. gd. \ iiii. //. vii, s. ob. gd. 

li.e. £Zo. -js.l 


And soo to bere the charges and to pay tenthes and 
first frutes. It may please the kyng's Maiestie to 
endowe the church with ... vi. c. Ixix. //. xiii. s. ix. d. 

li.e. ^669. 1 3 J. ^d.l 

Thus ends the scheme for the Bishoprick of Shrewsbury, 

A titular bishop of Shrewsbury was consecrated 
in 1537 in the batch of suffragans, but for work 
elsewhere ; and Dr. Boucher, last abbot of Leicester, 
was nominated as bishop of that diocese. The 
abbey revenues were worth from ;^53o to ^650 
a year. But Henry's debts pressed heavily, and he 
sold the estates to two traffickers in monastic land, 
who again parted with them to a tailor ; and he, to 
secure his spoil, speedily reduced the minster buildings 
to ruin, leaving only the nave and its tower, which 
formed the parish church of Holy Cross. 

The disgraceful trickery by which the greater 
abbeys and the poor friaries were induced to yield 
themselves to the king is well known. Richard, bishop 
of Dover, "except that he was a lenient and simple- 
minded man," was not a bad specimen of the com- 
missioner sent to do the Avork of destruction. He 
naively tells Cromwell, in 1538, "I have ben at 
Coventre and Aderstone. In every place is poverty, 
and much shift made with such as they had before, 
as jewel-selling, and other shift by leases, but in all 
these plases I have sett stays by indentures making, 
and the comun seals sequestering. So that I think 
before the year be out there shall be very few houses 
able to live, but shall be glad to give up their houses 
and provide for themselves otherwise. At Atherston 
all is gone. They were not able to pay my costs, 


nor to give me one penny of the contribution to 
their visiter accustomed. All not worth 40s. and a 

And again, still speaking of the friaries, — 
" I have to bear into the king's hands ii convents 
at AVorcester, i in Bridgenorth, i in Atherstone, and i 

in Lechefylde Since then I have taken in the 

king's hands ii convents at Stafford, i in Newcastle 
Underlyne, and ii in Shrewsbury. And there one 
standeth still .... because I alvvay have declared 
that I had no commission to suppress no house, nor 
none I did suppress but such as was not abul to live. 
Iff they gave their howses into the king's hands for 
poverty,^ I received them, and else none. Now for 
that house in Schrewsburey that standeth yet, it is of the 
Black friars, and I could find no great cause in them 
to cause them to give up. And also it shall declare 
that I do not suppress the howses but such as give 
up. The Austen Friary at Stafford is a poor house 
with small implements, no jewels, but one little 
chalice, no lead in the house, in rents by year 6s. 8d. 
The Grey Friars there has half the choir leaded and 
a chapel, small implements, no plate but a chalice 
and 6 small spoons, in rents 26s. 4d. The Black 
Friars in Newcastle is all in ruin and a poor house, 
the quire leaded and the cloister lead ready to fall. 
Farms by the year 40s. One Master Broke hath got 
from the prior by three leases the most part of the 
houses and ground. He would have given me gold 
to have granted two of his leases, but I took no peny 

' The reader will see from the former letter how carefully 
Dover had made them poor. 


of him, nor of none other, nor non ever woll 

No silver there above xiii oz. 

" In Shrewsbury be iii houses. The Black friars 
stand. The Grey friars had conveyed all, and made 
a great rumour in the town, for which they were glad 
to give up all in the king's hands. That is a proper 
house .... no jewels, but a plate cross of silver 
and one little chalice ; no rents, but iii or iiii acres of 
arable land lying close to it. The Austen Friars are 
all in ruin ; nothing in the house. No chalice to say 
Mass, nor would anybody lend one. No friars there 
but the prior — like to be in a frenzy, and ii Irishmen. 
I have discharged the prior of his office and sent the 
ii Irishmen to their own country. . . . Pardon my 
rude writing and let Mr. John Bothe, a great builder 
in those parts, have Newcastle material for money. 
That Master Bothe for your sake, shewed me many 
pleasures and gave me venison. 

" I hear the prior (of the Austens, Salop) is come 
to London to sue for his house again. It were pity 
that he should speed." 

The reckless manner in which the sales were con- 
ducted may be seen from the inventories printed by 
the late ]\Ir. T. Wright and the late Mackenzie 
Walcot. At Dieulacres, six oxen sold for ;£4. 5s., 
sixty ewes and lambs for 66s. 8d., three horses for 
20s., and thirteen swine for as many pence a-piece.^ 
At the Grey Friars, Stafford, prices were — four vest- 
ments and two tunicles of old pressed velvet, 13s. 4d. : 
two copes of red tartan, T2d.; a suit of blue sarcenet, 
3s. 4d. ; green branched silk, 6s. 8d,j two tunicles of 
^ Sleigh's "Leek," first edition, p. 63. 


dunne silk, 2od. ; three altar clothes, 126.. A cope of 
linen, stained, was bought by a friar for 4d. Two rolles 
clothes sold for 6d. The prior bought two corporas 
cases for 4d. Churchwardens of a neighbouring church 
bought a corporas for 4d.; Friar Wood bought a vest- 
ment of blue fustian and one of white diaper for 6d. 
A yellow say vestment brought i2d. All the seats sold 
for 6d. ; an alabaster table for 2s. 8d.; the seats in 
St. Francis's chapel for 4d., an image of St. Catherine, 
6d. ; all the books in the quire and coffer in the library 
— a library enriched by the labours of Matthew Staf- 
ford, a local chronicler, — for 2s. A pair of organs, 2s. ; 
the books in the vestry, 8d. ; a missal, 8d. ; two altar- 
candlesticks and a pyx of copper, i2d. ; a bere frank, 
2d. The roof of the noble minster at Croxden, whose 
walls still partly stand, fetched ;£6 ; and the roof over 
the dortar, the range running south from the church, 
;^i. 13s. 4d. The three great bells of Hulton sold 
for ;^i9. 1 6s. 

Little though bishops regretted the downfall of 
the abbeys, Rowland Lee made an earnest effort to 
save Coventry Cathedral. Cromwell seems to have 
promised that it should stand. But in January, 1537, 
the bishop wrote from Wigmore Castle : — 

" I am informed by letters enclosed from the mayre 
and aldermen of the city that Dr. London repairs 
thither for suppression of the same. My good lord 
help me, and the city, both in this and that the 
church may stand, whereby I may kepe my name, 
and the city have commodity and ease of to their 
desire, which shall follow if by your Lordship's good- 
ness it might be a college church as Lichfield 


So that poor city shall have a perpetual comfort of 
the same, as knoweth the Holy Trinity." What 
happened we know. 

^Meantime the state of morality seems to have been 
low. " I have hitherto visited the archdeaconries of 
Coventry, Stafford, Derby, and part of Chester," 
wrote the notorious Legh to Cromwell in August, 
1538. Nothing there is lacking but good and godly 
instruction of the more rude and poor people, and 
reformation of the heads in those parts. For certain 
of the knights and gentlemen, and most commonly 
all, live so incontinently, having their concubines 
openly in their houses, with fiv^e or six of their 
children, putting from them their wives, that all the 
country be therewith not a little offended, and taketh 
evil example of them," He had taken order, he 
says, with such for their reformation under pain of 
the vicar-general's displeasure. 

The hint at the tail of this letter is of grim signi- 
ficance. When Lee, the bishop, told the Friars 
Observant of Greenwich that he left them to be 
dealt with by the king, the ensuing events were the 
suppression of the whole order and the death of 
mf^'- friars in prison. When Legh, the visitor, hinted 
to Cromwell that the gentry of the diocese needed 
chastisement it was time for them to anticipate trouble ; 
the tick of Cromwell's pencil would have sent the 
most powerful of them to the block. The northern 
district, in Cheshire and Lancashire, had been bitterly 
offended by the fall of the monasteries. The abbot 
of Whalley had been hanged, and multitudes of the 
lower class had taken part in the hapless "pilgrimage 


of grace." The letter shows the diocese cowering now 
at Henry's feet. 

Another letter to Cromwell from Sir William Basset, 
of Langley, near Derby, illustrates the superstitions 
which were now disappearing. He had, he said, 
within forty-eight hours after receiving Cromwell's 
letter fetched to his own house the images of St Anne 
of Buxton, and St. Modwen of Burton ; and, lest 
there should be a return to superstition, had defaced 
the tabernacle, severely lectured the attendants, and 
removed the shirts, sheets, and votive wax, and crutches, 
as things which allured and enticed the ignorant people 
to make offerings there. He had also locked up the 
baths at Buxton, and sealed the doors, lest any should 
wash in them till Cromwell's pleasure were further 

There was a similar shrine at lugestre. In the 
reign of Henr}- VH. a chapel had been built on the 
waste there, near some salt springs. An aged man, 
formerly clerk there, told Walter Chetw}-nd that the 
adjoining wells were '• much frequented by lame and 
diseased persons, many whereof found there a cure 
for their infirmity, insomuch that, at the dissolution 
thereof, the walls were hung about with crutches, the 
relics of those who had been benefited thereby. Xor 
was the advantage small to the priest, the oblations 
of the chapel being valued in the king's books at 
£6. 13s. 4d."i 

When the shrines fell into the royal coffers Lee 
again exerted himself on behalf of that of St. Chad at 

' "Chetw}Tid MS.,'- Salt Librarv. 


Lichfield. A prebendary ran away with tlie saint's 
bones, but the jewels and precious metals of the 
shrine were granted for the " necessary uses " of the 

In 1545 the collegiate churches, chantries, hospi- 
tals, guilds, and fraternities of the country were confis- 
cated. Then fell the old royal chapels of Stafford, 
Shrewsbury, Chester, Bridgenorth, Derby, and Penk- 
ridge, and the newer foundations of Newport, Astley, 
Macclesfield, Tonge, Battlefield, &:c. 

Some idea of the havoc thus wrought in Stafford 
alone may be formed from the fact that ten years 
before there had been, within a circle with a radius of 
half a mile, one royal college with twelve preben- 
daries; a dean in St. Mary's ; St. Bertoline's, a parish 
church, adjoined it ; another in the main street of 
the town, St. Chad's, had one clergyman. There were 
two hospitals, two friaries, and a priory. There 
remained but the parish church of St. Chad, with its 
one clergyman ; and the shell of St. Mary's Minster, 
with a lonely rector and vicar. St. Bertoline's 
Church was forsaken ; and a wide circle of country 
chapels, which had been dependent on the canons 
of the minster, were left to tumble into picturesque 

Nor did the bishopric escape. For nearly a thou- 
sand years the bishops of Lichfield had been lords of 
nearly all the land between Eccleshall and Lichfield. 
7^hey had redeemed it from a state of waste. In 
1547, Henry VIII. compelled Bishop Sampson to 
surrender the manors of Longdon and Haywood in 
exchange for tithes worth ^183 a year, in order to 


enrich the Paget fomily. By this iniquitous piece of 
tyranny the Church was robbed of her ancient rights 
in Longdon, Whittington, Haselour, Morehull, Street- 
hay, Curborough, Somerfield, Harborne and Smeth- 
wick, Pipe, Wall, Woodhouse, Pipe Ridware, Norton 
and Wirley, Fisherwick, Tipton, Freeford, Hanascre 
and Armitage, Weeford, Thickborne, Hints, Packing- 
ton, Tymore, Tamhorne, Corboro', Elmhurst, Caldi- 
cott, Stotfold, and Hammerwich. The bishop thus 
lost two of his principal manor-houses, and hence- 
forth lived at Eccleshall, as being the centre of his 
remaining lands. Then, too, the manors of Gayton, 
Chadsunt, Bishop's Ichington, Tachbrook, and the 
rectory of Fenny Compton, in Warwickshire, were 
wrested away. 

The see of Chester was founded in 1541. The 
abbey of St. Werburgh became a cathedral* church ; 
a bishop was domiciled in the abbot's lodge, a dean 
in St. Thomas's Chapel^ and a grammar-school set u]) 
in the refectory. Cheshire and Lancashire formed 
the see. 

After the loss of its minster, the population of the 
ancient and beautiful city of Coventry declined by 
half in a single generation. 

The city of Lichfield suffered little in the wreck, 
except in the final closing of the palace and the 
migration of the bishops to Eccleshall. 

Burton Abbey church was for a short time made 
collegiate, but, being again robbed, lost its chancel 
and degenerated into a feebly endowed parish church. 
So it was at Stone. 

Some antiquary in days to come will show in start- 


ling colours how heathen ideas of " boggart " and 
goblin, and pixie and fairy, re-appeared in the moor- 
lands of Staffordshire and the broad forest-slopes of 
East Cheshire, and how the people fell back into 
some of the groping darkness of Druidic tradition, 
after the wreck of Combermere and Chester abbeys 
drained away almost all the endowments of the scat- 
tered chapels in the wide parishes of Alstonfield and 
Prestbury into lay hands. 

In a list at the end of his noble volumes on the 
" Derbyshire Churches," Mr. Cox has given the 
names of ninety-five chapels in Derbyshire which have 
disappeared since King Henry robbed the minsters. 
And so it was everywhere ; for country- churches can- 
not survive the loss of endowment. 

Prayer and praise in many a lonely hillside chapel 
were then silenced. The ruins of such chapels round 
Stafford show the sweeping character of the desolat- 
ing blow which fell upon St. Mary's Minster. Hopton 
and Salt utterly lost their churches, though recent 
piety has now done much to recover the villages^ from 
the three centuries of barbarous semi-heathenism 
into which they then fell. The walls of Cresswell 
chancel still sadden the traveller as he passes along 
the railway north of the town. What had happened 
at Coventry happened at Cresswell. The silencing of 
worship in the village church was followed by the 
depopulation of the village. There are now but two 

' A late Earl Talbot built and endowed Salt Church a few- 
years ago, and the vicar, Rev. Prebendary Bolton, built and 
re-opened a mission-chapel at Hopton. 


houses in the parish, and the " vale of increase " has 
become a dismal swamp. ^ 

Bad as the monks had been, they were at least 
ecclesiastics, under control of the bishop, in their 
dealings with their poor village chapels. The life of 
the minster throbbed, if feebly, in the farthest of 
those chapels. The parish churches were the abbey's 
lungs ; their endowments the very breath of its 
nostrils. Henceforward, chapel was clubbed with 
chapel to eke out the beggarly stipend of a parson 
who on Sundays went afoot from one to another to 
say the services and preach the "Word. Little wonder 
that some of the people began to slip through the 
enfeebled Church's fingers. 

Even deeper depths of spoliation must be fathomed 
before we can turn to the brighter side of this period 
of history. The parish churches had lost much of 
their possessions in the wreck of the minsters by which 
half of them were appropriated. The laity, demo- 
ralised by so much robbery, now began to lay violent 
hands on church vessels and vestments. Lonely 
churches, such as Castle Church and Baswich, Staf- 
ford, were broken into and robbed. To Bonsall, in 
1553, came "John Nauton, and dyd take from the 
tabul two corporas with the case vioUnter, insomuch 
as the parsons did not minister for the want of them." 
Nauton was probably an ultra-Reformer. Another 
rogue, Henry Browne, was probably a Retrogressionist ; 

' "Chetwynd MS.," Salt Library. IMuch has lately been 
done to drain the marshes north of Staftbrd, but still they flood 

P 2 


for he " tooke away the Communion Boke violenter!^ 
The inhabitants of Rushton, near Leek, sold a chalice 
and a bell to repair Hug Bridge. At Shareshill a bell 
had been sold " by the assent of the whole parish 
for ;^4, whereof ^2 peyd to the bysshope for his 
laysance to byrrey, and 30s. to his officers for the com- 
positions, and ye resydeu, which is los., remenes in 
the hands of one Fyllyp Duffeld." Mr. Richard 
Norton, late churchwarden of Newcastle, had sold 
two brass candlesticks ; and a former surveyor " toke 
away one chalice weing 7 oz., belonging to the service 
of the Treneti." St. Mary's, Stafford, had lost a set 
of splendid vestments by lending them to Master 
Doctor Aparie. From the wrecked prebendal chapel 
of Hopton " three grett belles " were taken, and two 
from Salt. 

It was now no uncommon thing for a man's hall to 
be hung with altar-trappings, and his wife to be clad 
in costly eucharistic vestments. Friends pledged 
each other in chalices, and watered their horses in 
marble coffins taken not only from the ruins of the 
minsters, but out of the churches. The king's council, 
therefore, determined to stop sacrilege by taking the 
ornaments and vestments which were left. In the 
seventh year of Edward VI. they made a clean sweep 
of the vestries, leaving in each only a surplice for the 
curate, a chalice and paten, and one or two linen 
cloths for Holy Communion, the sacring bells, and 
the bells in the towers. What rich plunder the king 
thus gathered may be inferred from a few extracts from 
the inventories. At Alstonfield, a moorland parish 
church, which had already lost its rectory in the ruin 


of Combermere Abbey, the commissioners left as 
usual the articles mentioned above, the " gret bells " 
in the steeple being three. But they took two copes 
of blue velvet and gold ; one sepulchre cloth of yellow 
and red sarsenet ; three vestments of velvet, sey, and 
fustian; four other old ones, and an albe ; two 
stoles, five fans, twelve pelles, two chasubles, and 
four corporases ; five old altar-cloths, four towels, 
one font-cover, one rochet, eight old banner-cloths, 
two candlesticks of brass, three crosses of brass, a 
pair of brass censors, two wooden pyxes, and two 
cruets ; one lantern, one old veil, one chalice and 
paten of silver, a hand-bell, four little bells, a pyx 
and cover, a holy-water stock of wood [and a pick 
and spade to make graves with]. At Ranton, a 
church without a tower, two bells were left hanging 
on a tree, and a sanctus bell. The latter kind of 
bell seems to have been left in most places. 




Some Fruits of the Reformation. 

Had the Reformation consisted only of spoliation 
and destruction, it would — with the exception of 
clearing away superstitious objects — have been wholly 
bad. To this day the country has not recovered 
from the effects of the large measure of disendow- 
ment which then took place. 

But there was a brighter side. Light broke in 
through the rents made in the sanctuary walls. An 
English service and an open Bible — neither the one 
nor the other substantially new — were put into the 
people's hands. Parsons again became preachers ; 
and, though communities of religious men had been 
scattered, the lonely "curat" might now take to him- 
self a wife. And so, on the ruins of medievalism 
rose again the happy sight which England had lost 
for centuries — the English parsonage, with its blessed 
and powerful influences for good. 

The bishop of Chester was married. So was 
Laurence Saunders, the martyr, when he read accept- 
able divinity lectures in Lichfield Cathedral. , And 
when he was in prison, in Mary's reign, "his wife 
yet came to the prison-gate, with her young child in 
her arms, to visit her husband. The keeper durst 



not suffer her to come into prison. Yet did he take 
the little babe unto his father. Saunders, seeing him, 
rejoiced greatly, saying that he joiced more to have 
such a boy than two thousand pounds. And to the 
byestanders, which praised the goodliness of the child, 
he said, ' What man, fearing God, would not lose 
this life present, rather than by prolonging it here he 
should adjudge this boy to be a bastard, his wife a 
whore, and himself a whoremonger ....?'" 

Laurence Saunders was one of a band of power- 
ful and popular preachers, who, under the govern- 
ment of Edward VI., preached the reformed faith. 
These men were followed by vast multitudes, who 
hung upon their lips and drank in deep draughts 
of scriptural truth. 

A pleasant glimpse of reformed religion is seen in 
the life of Joan Waste, who was martyred at Derby, 
under Bishop Baine, in 1556. "When she was 
about 12 or 13 years old," says an old manuscript, 
which smacks of Fox,i " she learned to knit hosere 
and sleeves, and other things, which, though blind, 
she could in time doe verrie well, .... and in no 
case would be idle. Thus continued she with her 
father and mother during their lives. After their 
departure she kept with Robert Waste, her brother. 
In the time of Edward VI., of blessed memorie, she 
gave herself dailie to goe to the church to hear Divine 
service read in the vulgar tongue. And thus, by 
hearing homilies and sermons, she became marvel- 
lously well affected to the religion then taught. So 

' Printed in Glover's " Derljyshire," ii. 612. 


at length, having by her labour gotten and saved a 
New Testament, she caused one to be provided for 
her. And she was of herself unlearned, and by reason 
of her blindness unable to reade ; yet, for the greate 
desire she had to understand and have printed in 
her memorie the sayinges of the Holy Scriptures 
contained in the New Testament, she acquainted 
herself chiefly with one John Hurt, then prisoner 
in the common hall of Darbie for debts. This sober, 
grave man, of three score and ten yeares, did, for his 
exercise, daylie read unto her some one chapter of 
the New Testament. If he were otherwise occupied, 
or letted through sicknesse, she would repair unto 
one John Pemerton, clerke of the parish church of 
All Saintes, in Derby, .... and sometimes she would 
give a penie or two to such persons as would not 

freely read to her Without a guide she could 

go to any church in Derbie. In her life she expressed 
the vertuous fruits and exercise of her knowledge of 
God's Holy Word." 

Not less pleasant is Becon's account to his friends 
of the Peake country : — " Coming into Alsop in the 
Dale, I chanced upon a certain gentleman called 
Alsop, lord of that village, a man not only ancient in 
years, but also ripe in the knowledge of Christ's 
doctrine. He showed me his books, which he called 
his jewels. There was the New Testament, after the 
translation of Myles Coverdale, which seemed to be 
as well worn by the diligent reading thereof as was 
ever portass or mass-book, .... Many gentlemen 
do not only love but live the Gospel. He had many 
godly books, as 'The Obedience of a Christian Man,' 


* The Parable of the Wicked Mammon,' ' The Reve- 
lation of Anti-Christ,' ' The Law of the Holy Scrip- 
tures,' ' The Book of John Frith against Purgatory,' 

&c In these godly treatises, this ancient 

gentleman, among the mountains and rocks, occupied 
himself diligently and virtuously." 

A religious movement which could produce cha- 
racters of this sort was surely of God. They were of 
pure metal, and when the fires of Mary's reign tried 
them they shone out brightly. Saunders died grandly 
at Coventry ; Joan Waste at Derby. Actuated by 
the example of the former, Robert Glover and Joice 
Lewis, two Warwickshire gentlefolk, went to the 
stake. Baine sent the mayor of Coventry to appre- 
hend John Glover. The mayor disliked his errand, 
and sent Mr. Glover word that he had better be out 
of the way when he came. Robert was an invalid 
brother of John, and was then lying ill in the house. 
Failing to find John, the scoundrels forced Robert to 
get up and go with them, though the warrant was 
not for him. Baine ordered him and some of his 
companions in sorrow to Lichfield. It was four 
o'clock ere they reached that city and dismounted 
at the Swan. After supper, Jephcot, the jailer of the 
Close, came and hurried the invalid into a loathsome 
dungeon. Thence again he was sent to Coventry, 
where he and Cornelius Bungay were led to death in 
a place called the " Hollows," outside the city gate. 
Victorious over all the pains of death. Glover 
seemed to see his Master in person. He 'dapped 
his hands and cried, " Austin, He is come I He is 
come !" 


Mrs. Lewis, daughter of Sir Thomas Curzon of 
Croxall, and niece of Bishop Latimer, a neighbour of 
the Glovers in Warwickshire, fell into Baine's hands 
soon afterwards — coolly led to prison by her husband. 
She was burned at Lichfield. Some wine having been 
procured for her, she stood by the stake, saying, " I 
drink to all them that unfeignedly love the Gospel 
of our Lord Jesus Christ and wish for the abolish- 
ment of popery." Her friends drank also, and many 
vromen of the company ; numbers, including even 
the sheriff, cried ^^ Ameny 

Six persons are said to have been burnt in Lich- 
field diocese under Mary ; Sampson, the bishop, died 
at the beginning of her reign. Mary began by 
claiming headship of the Church of England, and, as 
such, she granted licenses to preach. But she stopped 
the pilfering of Church property; made Lichfield into 
a county of itself; and enabled Baine, whom she 
made bishop, to save something to his successors 
from the general wreck.^ Baine was a bishop to her 
mind. Having begun young to fight the pope's 
battles, he became hardened into his service by keen 
controversy, and held the belief that there could be 
no Church outside the Roman jurisdiction. He had 
squabbled with Latimer at Cambridge, in 1530, so 
furiously as to disturb the peace of the University. 
England had soon become too hot for him, till Mary 
recalled and promoted him to Lichfield. His dogged 

' Mary restored some fragments of Church property, endowing, 
for example, two clergy in All Saints', and one in St. Alk- 
mund's, Derby, in place of the thirteen whose maintenance 
Edward VI. had confiscated. 


adherence to the pope came out without restraint 
when he sat with Tonstall, Bonner, and others, to 
examine Archdeacon Philpot. And even after Mary's 
death he was still high in power and influence among 
the ruling classes, from which Mary's fires had burnt 
out the reforming party. He and Scott of Chester — 
a man of his own sort — were two of eight champions 
chosen to argue on the Roman side against eight 
English Churchmen in a dispute which was to have 
been held at Westminster. He buried Mary, and 
resigned the see when Elizabeth became queen. 

If Baine is to be regarded as belonging, after his 
resignation, to any Church other than the Church of 
England, that Church died with him. Neither he 
nor any of his brother seceders handed on their 
" succession " by ordaining others to follow them. 
At their deaths they left no other Church in existence 
than that from whose episcopal thrones they had 
retired. The modern Roman Catholic sect in Eng- 
land had then no existence in England. We shall 
presently note its arrival here. 




Grammai" Schools — Literary Bishops and Deans — State of 
the Diocese — Schools — Poverty of Clergy — Church Sports, 
Ales, and Plays — Rise of the Roman Catholic Sect — 
Controversy between New Roman Catholics and Old 

The furious storm through which the Church of this 
diocese passed in the days of Henry VHI. and his 
daughters did not overthrow it. With the exception 
of Bishop Ralph Baine (1554-1558), who treason- 
ably refused to own EHzabeth either as Christian or 
queen,^ Dean Ramridge, Draycott, the red-handed chan- 
cellor, a few canons, and a very few clergy,- the men 
who ministered in the churches in the days of the 
Latin mass went on without disturbance into the use 
of the reformed Prayer-book. For that book was 
only a version of the old services translated into 
English dress, and disentangled from the corrupt 
growths of centuries. 

Bishop Baine was full of disease when he resigned 

' He would neither swear allegiance nor give her the Eucha- 
rist. Scott, of Chester, went into lay communion at the same 

^ Perhaps fourteen out of 640. I have examined the bishop's 
*' Register" for this number. Dean Ramridge ran away into 
Flanders, where he was waylaid by thieves and robbed and 


the see, and was dead before his successor, Thomas 
Bentham (1560-1579), was consecrated. It is note- 
worthy that William Whitlock, the Lichfield chroni- 
cler, who lived through the Reformation, speaks of 
Bentham, not as the firsts but as the " sixty-fifth 
bishop in order from Diuma the first," ^ and with that 
remark the Mediaeval Chronicles end. Whitlock's 
chronicle ceases with the life of Bishop Bentham. 
His predecessor, Thomas of Chesterfield, ended his 
story at the height of Roman corruption ; Whitlock 
lays down his pen as soon as he sees the Church 
once more free. 

Whilst Baine had been sitting in judgment on 
Archdeacon Philpot, Thomas Bentham, his successor, 
was in exile with Ball, Pilkington, and others. Baine 
himself had come from abroad when Edward VI. 
died, and been made bishop ; Bentham returned 
before Mary's death. Indeed, during part of Mary's 
reign he had ministered to the one congregation in 
London which, amid " enemies more sharp-sighted 
than Argus and cruel than Nero," kept up the Re- 
formed Worship ; and which, though " often dispersed 
by the attacks of its enemies," and " losing a very great 
number of its members at the stake," had, " never- 
theless, grown and increased every day." A sermon 
of Bentham's after Mary's death set the Londoners 
in a blaze of controversy, and drew from the new 
queen an order to silence pulpits. 

Mild in the exercise of power, and exemplary in 
their daily lives, passing most of their time among 
the towers and trees of Eccleshall Castle, the Reformed 

' "Arglia Sacra," vol. i., 459. 


bishops of Lichfield were unlike their rich and bust- 
ling predecessors. For learning and contemplation 
then took the place of wealth and incessant excite- 
ment. Bishops no longer ruled provinces, galloped 
from manor to manor, or muttered curses from church 
altars at deer-stealers. Their full energy was spent on 
inquiry into that Divine Truth to which the destruction 
of Medigevalism had turned attention, and which has 
since become the passion of the English Church. 
The current period was a breathing-time, a time 
for weighing the many arguments which various 
parties had put forth, and for careful deliberation with 
a view to future action. 

Laurence Newell, the new dean of Lichfield 
(1559-1576), was one of the first fruits of the 
new style. The condensation of the minster 
services into mattins and evensong left the minster 
clergy full time for reading. He looked about 
him probably for the precious wreckage of abbey 
libraries which was then floating in the markets, 
and treasured up a number of documents which 
have come down to us in the Cotton Library. He 
even revived the study of Anglo-Saxon, and has left 
a Dictionary of the language in the Bodleian Library. 
His leisure became "learned." The Reformed cathe- 
drals were beginning to nurse the sciences as they 
had hitherto nursed the arts. 

During the Tudor period, a period of destruction, 
grammar schools struck root. Derby, one of the 
oldest in the diocese, had been founded as an abbey 
school by Bishop Durdent. Stafford, about 1450; 
Wolverhampton, 15 15; Sutton Coldfield, 1519; 


and Bridgenorth, 1503, were all probably schools of 
the new learning. Edward VI. and Elizabeth aug- 
mented them out of the wreck of Church property, 
and founded others. To Stafford Edward VI. gave 
the two old hospitals of St. John and St. Leonard. 
Shrewsbury Abbey School was saved from perishing 
by a share of the spoils of the royal collegiate church 
of St. Mary, Salop. Bridgenorth, in 1547, got part 
of the plunder of the chantries of the town. Walsall 
was similarly augmented by Queen Mary in 1553; 
Birmingham in 1552 by Edward VI. ; Nuneaton in 
1553 out of the possessions of the Trinity guild of 
Coventry; Wellington, 1549. In Mary's reign the 
bishop augmented Lichfield Grammar School. Queen 
Elizabeth founded Ashborne School in 1585 ; Chester- 
field, Tamworth (out of the guild of St. George), 
Atherstone, 1573. In her reign a number of schools 
were endowed by private individuals. Lawrence 
Sheriff in 1567, founded Rugby, settling on it the 
endowments of Brownsover Parsonage, Sir John 
Port, in 1557, bought part of the ruins of Repton 
Priory, and founded a school there; the head-master 
living in the Prior's Lodge to this day. Thomas 
Allen founded Stone and Uttoxeter schools. On 
the ruins of Coventry Cathedral a school had been 
grafted by Henry VIII. 

The dates of these schools show how lardy the 
crown was to recognise the duty of carrying on the 
good work of education which abbey and collegiate 
church had laid down at the general dissolution in 1538. 

Heavily as Elizabeth preyed upon Church property 
elsewhere, she did something here — little though it 


Avas — towards restoring it. Coming through Stafford 
on her way from Chartley Castle to that of Stafford, 
she was met at the Eastgate by the Corporation, who 
gave her a draught of fine ale in a grand two-handled 
cup. The schoolmaster made a pathetic statement 
of the misery into which the royal old town had 
fallen since the wreck of its Church institutions. 
Moved, either by the ale or the speech, she promised, 
and eventually accomplished, the return of some of 
the property of St. Mary's. But the gift was entrusted 
to the Corporation, and they kept the larger part of 
it for themselves. They paved the streets with the 
prebend of Marston. Nor did their brethren of 
Derby deal more honestly with the returns of INIary 
for the support of the two robbed minsters there. 
For hundreds of years both municipal bodies cheated 
the churches, until Henry Cantrell, vicar of St. Alk- 
mund's, Derby, in the last century, and William Cold- 
well, lately rector of St. Mary's, Stafford, forced their 

Deep indeed was the poverty of the clergy now. 
The vicar of St. Alkmund's, Derby, starving on ^8 a 
year, perhaps hardly ever received, hanged himself 
on the rope of his smallest bell. Not only had the 
endowments of the churches been swept into lay 
hands, but many of the sources of income open in 
pre-Reformation times were of necessity now closed. 
Marriage, too, now being fully permitted to the 
clergy, was more common, increasing poverty. 

The old style of religion had been endeared to the 
less educated classes — indeed, to the heart of- merrie 
England " — by its festivities. The churches had been 


pleasant meeting-places, not so much for worship as 
for gossip. Sunday was the great day for sport and 
relaxation, and many an old stone among us still 
bears marks of the arrow-sharpening which went on 
after service was over, in preparation for bouts of 
archery. The church ales were as popular as the 
church wakes. They were the "tea-parties" and 
" bazaars " of our fathers. Sometimes they were held 
in a circle of villages for the benefit of a particular 
church. So in 1532 the little village of Chaddesden 
spent 34s. lod. on an " aell " for the benefit of the 
grand tower of All Saints', Derby, which was then 
being built, and earned by it over ^25. 8s. 6d. — more 
than ;^4oo of our money; Brailsford spent 14s. 5d., 
and paid in ^^ii. 3s. 4d. to the same good work. 
Wirksworth, also, for an outlay of 27s. yd. returned 
a sum which is not named. These carousals were 
held in church. Henry VIII. succeeded in banishing 
them from the sacred buildings ; but whilst Bradford 
the Martyr thundered from the rood-loft at Man- 
chester to a breathless crowd, a greater crowd was 
engaged in boisterous sports outside. At Stafford 
the parish churches, and also the Grey Friars, were 
repaired by a fund raised at the " Hobby Horse," 1 — 
a procession of a wooden horse gaily decorated 
with ribbons, and accompanied by music and 
morrice-dancers who begged from door to door. 
Lichfield had its " Green Hill Bower," which is 

' "Old Hob," — a terrible figure, made with the skull of a 
horse and drapery covering a man who works the jaws, — acting 
"soulers," and soul-cake begging are still popular in East 
Cheshire and Staffordshire. 



Still popular ; and until lately there were merry pro- 
cessions at Wolverhampton minster. The Derbyshire 
Well Dressings grow in popularity year by year, and 
place after place is reviving them. 

Such was the beginning of Elizabeth's long reign. 
For years the same comprehensive spirit animated 
the Church, which yet embraced all parties, even 
those who longed for the return of Mediaevalism, and 
the " few" who, like Lever, archdeacon of Coventry, 
were inclined to push Reformation to Puritanical 

With the Papists, religion soon became treason. They 
spoke of England as ruled by a "female papacy, un- 
lawfully begotten, and lawfully deposed by the pope." 
In the year 1569, Pope Pius V. was foolish enough 
to issue a Bull to that effect. All his adherents, 
therefore, had to choose between obedience to him 
on the one hand, and schism from the Church of 
England, of which they were members, and treason 
to the queen on the other. And it was then that the 
English Roman Catholic sect first began to exist as a 
separate body. 

The dioceses of Lichfield and Chester furnished 
their share of these traitors. The hills of Derbyshire, 
the woods of Chester and Stafford, and the lonely 
sea-coast of Lancashire sheltered many a family who 
were slow to learn the Reformed faith. ^ From Rossal, 
near Fleetwood, the notorious Cardinal Allen sprang. 
He it was who gathered brave young English youths 

' The pre-Reformation Church was the Church of England. 
The Church of Rome was always a distinct and foreign body, 
never located in England till now. 


into seminaries abroad and then sent them forth to 
preach treason in England as " seminary priests." 
Whilst he remained secure over sea, they were taken 
like birds in the snare of the fowler, and died like 
Britons. The English felt the justice of Elizabeth's 
severity, but were sorry for the youths who perished. 
Ludlam, Garlick, and Sympson, who were condemned 
at Derby assizes, and executed on Derby gallows in 
1588, had something of the bearing of martyrs, and 
some of their quartered remains were fetched away 
at night for burial with full approval of the town 
watchmen. An entry in an old Stafford manuscript 
shows the feeling there : — 

"1587. This yere Mr. Baileffs tooke a seminarye 
preist called Sutton sayinge of masse in the town. 
And there was taken with him Erasmus Wolsley, 
Esquier, William Macclesfeilde, Esquier, Anthony 
Crompton, gent., William Mynors, one Mr. Sprott, 
and two others called Thornburye, who were all 
arraigned at the next assize and condemned of treason. 
The preist was a very reverend, learned man, and at 
his arraignment disputed very stoutly and learnedlye. 
He only was executed, that was hanged and quar- 
tered. And it was done in a most villainous, butcherly 
manner by one Moseley [town hangman], who with 
his axe cut off his head while he had yet sence and 
was readye to stand upp, through his mouth. The 
others afterwards fined out their pardons." 

The coming of the Spanish Armada in 1587, and the 
subsequent detection of many a foul plot here and else- 
where, justified the Government in the use of strong 
measures. But Churchmen left harsh measures to the 

Q 2 


civil power, contenting themselves with the use of 
moral and literary weapons. Thenceforward our 
divines bore the brunt of a fierce attack from the vast 
and powerful hosts of Papists abroad. The digni- 
taries of Lichfield were foremost in the fray. Thomas 
Morton began to write whilst bishop of Chester, and, 
when promoted to Lichfield (1618-1632), even ven- 
tured to engage Bellarmine on the royal supremacy.^ 
DeanTooker (1604-1620), a writer of elegant Latin, 
fought a literary " duel " with Martin Becani, a Jesuit 
of Mentz. The latter says he has heard of Tooker 
as a "genial and court-like minister, who eats and 
drinks exquisitely, and knows only the kitchen and 
the wine-cellar." The "genial" life of the reformed 
English clergy, forsooth, was not less a puzzle to 
the gloomy papists than the ponderous learning and 
crushing logic of the Anglican champions. 

After Bentham's time, a break occurs in the grand 
series of diocesan registers. From Langton, 1297, to 
Bentham, 1578, the series is complete and treasured 
up in fourteen large volumes. But, with the excep- 
tion of a few Acts of Overton and the Registers of 
Morton, 1618-31, and Hackett, 1662-70, the series 
is not resumed till 1692, whence it comes down to our 
own day, the whole being comj^rised in thirty-two 

' Both volumes — that of Morton on the " Supremacy," and 
Becani's reply — are in the Salt Library, which is .1 rich treasury 
of Staffordshire lore. 




Great Literary Bishops — They write whilst the Laity read — 
Roman Pretended Miracles — The Bishop of Lichfield sent 
to the Tower. 

William Overton (i 580-1 609), promoted to the 
see of Coventry and Lichfield from the rectory of 
Stoke-on-Trent, owed his education to Glastonbury 
Abbey. Like his dean, he was genial, hospitable 
and kind to the poor ; and he kept his house in good 
repair, " which married bishops were observed not to 
do." A printed sermon of his, on " Discord," may 
have been suggested by a famous quarrel which hap- 
pened between himself on the one side, and Beacon 
and Babington, struggling together for the chancellor- 
ship of the diocese, on the other. The dispute was 
carried to the council, who referred it to the arch- 
bishop ; he again " travailed much " with Overton, 
that both combatants might be appointed in com- 
mission, but had at last to send Whitgift of Win- 
chester to settle the dispute on the spot, Zachary 
Babington becoming chancellor. 

Overton, who was twice married, died at Eccleshall, 
and was succeeded for a month by Dr. George Abbot 
(Dec. 3, 1609, Jan. 20, 16 10), Dean of Winchester 
and Prolocutor of Convocation. Abbot could hardly 


settle here before his translation to London.^ He 
was the lifelong opponent of Laud, whom he pre- 
ceded to Canterbury, 2 

So far, the two dioceses of Lichfield and Chester 
had been governed by quiet inoffensive bishops, who 
fostered theological learning, and allowed the freest 
study of the Holy Scriptures. Our lonely woods and 
hills were last to feel the glow of enthusiastic devo- 
tion which the Bible inspired. But, in and about 
the larger towns, men of refinement and wealth were 
striving hard to mould their lives upon Bible rules. 
These men were the earlier Puritans, and were by 
no means Dissenters. But a series of causes began 
with the reign of James which did much to alienate 
them. Not least of these was the change in the 
character and policy of the bishops. 

One of them, Richard Neill (16 10-16 14), 
was an exaggerated instance of King James's rapid 
translations. Consecrated to Rochester in 1608, 
he came hither in 16 10; and, holding also the 
deanery of Westminster, was moved to Lincoln 
1 614, to Durham 161 7, to Winchester 1628, and to 
York 1632. No other bishop has ever been moved 
so often, " He hath made a shift to be taken for 
a knave generally with us at the Court." Abbot 
hated him, "He dealt ill with the late lord-treasurer, 
and most falsely with the archbishop (Bancroft)." 
He was one of the four bishops who concurred in 
divorcing the Earl and Countess of Essex in 1613, — 

^ Four or five of his works are in the Salt Library ; and also 
his brother's sermon at the wedding of Sir John Stanhope. 
* His sermon on "The Sabbath" is in the Salt Library. 


a dirty business. But his name has a deeper stain. 
When the king raised a storm by burning Bartholomew 
Legate, for a sort of Unitarianism, in Smithfield, 
Neill determined to support him by burning Edward 
Wightman, of Burton-on-Trent, at Lichfield. Wight- 
man held the " wicked heresies of the Ebionites, 
Cerinthians, Valentinians, Arians, Macedonians, of 
Simon Magus, of Manes, of Manichaeus, Photinus, 
and the Anabaptists, and other heretical, execrable, 
and unheard of opinions." 

From a picked body of the judges the king had 
obtained an opinion that heretics might still be burnt, 
and, when Neill had tried and excommunicated Wight- 
man, a royal warrant, dated March 9, 1611-12, was 
sent to the sheriff of Lichfield to burn him. Derby- 
shire men will hear with pleasure that the promoters 
of this bloody deed took especial pains that Lord 
Coke should not be included among the judges who 
were asked to decree it lawful. 

Neill's successor, John Overall (1614-1618), 
takes a high place in Church history. He wrote 
the part of the grand old Church Catechism which 
explains the Sacraments, and, in defence of the Divine 
Right of Government, a "Convocation Book" which 
was suppressed for a time, but which produced a 
profound impression when it converted Shirlock 
nearly a century later. He was the friend of Vossius 
and Grotius ; a man of deep scholastic learning ; 
and, as perhaps the greatest teacher of his time, 
was able to break up the narrow Calvinism which 
had taken possession of the Church, and to infuse 
into it something of his own better Arminianism. 


" I asked Archbishop Williams," says Racket, " what 
it was that pleased him in Dr. Overall above 
all others that he had heard. He gave me this 
answer : — ' First, Dr. Overall was used to prove his 
conclusions out of two or three texts of Scripture, at 
the most, and no more ; being such places upon 
whose right interpretation the judgement of the cause 
did chiefly depend. Secondly, that, above all men 
that he ever heard, he did most pertinently quote 
the Fathers. And thirdly, when he had fixed what 
was prime and principal in any debate, with great 
meekness and sweetness he gave great latitude to 
his auditors, how^ far they might dissent, keeping the 
foundation sure without breach of charity. ' " 

Overall was translated to Norwich in 1618, and 
died in the following year. 

Neill had burnt a heretic. Thomas Morton 
bishop of Chester 1 616-16 19, and of Lichfield 1619- 
1632, was destined to set the country in a blaze. '^ 

The definite teaching of Overall left this diocese 
quiet and orthodox. But schism grew apace in Chester, 
and soon spread into the hill country of Lichfield. 

As bishop of Lichfield, Morton travelled, con- 
ferred with schismatics, and preached as diligently 
as he had done while bishop of Chester. Here 
he wrote his Caii^a Regia against Bellarmine, and 
a small square tract against local Papists, whom, 
in 162 1, he found pretending to work miracles. 
" The Romish priests at Bilston are desirous that 

^ For a notice of the causes which produced Puritanism, see 
Chester m. this series of "Diocesan Histories." Morton wrote 
"The Book of Sports." 


their disciples should know whether the Protestants 
or Romanists are more safe in their religion. To 
this purpose they advise with their faithful doctor, 
the devil, and set the resolution down in what they 
call 'A Faithful Relation.'" This '^Relation" 
was an account of the Boy of Bilston, whom they 
had " possessed with a devil." " I," saith the priest, 
" commanded the devil to show how he would use 
one dying out of the Romish Church, which he did 

by violent pulling and byting of the clothes 

Then I asked him what power he had over a Roman 
Catholicke dying out of mortall sinne ? Hee then 
thrust doun his head, trembled, and did no more." 
The boy presently accused a woman of having 
bewitched him, and, at her trial at Stafford in 162 1, 
was handed over to the bishop for examination. The 
bishop fetched him to Eccleshall, posed the devil 
with a sentence or two of the Greek Testament, 
caught the boy in the manufacture of " symptoms/' 
and sent him back to Stafford effectually cured. 

One of the pleasantest traits of the time is the 
patronage of the bishops and nobles for promising 
scholars. Overall had young John Cosin, "whom 
he liked well for his knowledge and fair writing," as 
his secretary at Eccleshall, and Neill took the youth 
when Overall died. Morton fostered George Canner, 
a blind boy, whom he sent to Cambridge with an 
uncle to take care of him, and then, having taught 
him theology in his own palace, ordained him, and 
gave him the vicarage of Clifton Campville, the 
rectory of which he held with the see in commendam. 
The blind vicar used to recite the prayers and preach. 


The Lessons he could repeat after twice hearing them 
read by his uncle ; the Sacraments had to be ad- 
ministered by deputy. 

Gilbert Sheldon, the future archbishop, Avho was 
born at Stanton, near Ashburne, in 1598, and had 
received his baptismal name from Gilbert earl of 
Shrewsbury, his father's master, was now a young 
Oxford graduate. John Lightfoot, son of the vicar 
of Uttoxeter, had been born at Stoke-on-Trent Rec- 
tory in 1602, where his father lived as curate. In 
1 617 he went up to Cambridge from a school at 
Moreton Green, near Congleton ; and at nineteen 
years of age was a master in Repton school. At 
twenty-one, he was ordained to the curacy of Norton 
in Hales, Salop, where he met with Sir Robert Cotton, 
and began in earnest the study of Hebrew. He was 
vicar of Stone Prior}' in 1628, where he married, and 
in 1630 rector of Ashley, in the same county of Staf- 
ford. There he built himself a study in the garden, 
and spent day and night in reading the holy tongue. 

Bishop Morton was a friend of Isaac Casaubon 
and of the archbishop of Spalatro, who came over as 
a convert from the Roman Church. Spalatro got good 
preferment here, but went back again in hope of 
better when he heard that an old school-fellow was 
to be pope. Morton begged him to remain in Eng- 
land. " Does your lordship expect to convert the 

pope and his conclave ? " he asked " Do 

you take them for devils, that they cannot be con- 
verted ? " was the testy rejoinder. " No, my lord, 
nor take I Spalatro for a god that he should be 
able to convert them. What about the Council of 


Trent ? " "I will venture to say," returned the 
foreigner, " that there are thousands upon thousands 
in Italy with whom that council goes for nothing." 
On getting to Rome, Spalatro found that his friend 
was dead. The new pope knew not this Joseph ; but 
his defection from Rome he did know, and the luck- 
less wanderer died in prison. 

Robert Wright (163 2- 1644) followed Morton. 
He has been censured by some writers as a covetous 
man. They say that he made Bristol poor before he 
came hither, and that he laid his axe heavily on the 
Eccleshall timber. But he suffered much. For 
his share in Laud's "Canons" he was fined ;^5,ooo. 
Both the churches of the diocese and their services 
were greatly improved under him. Copes and music 
were again used in the cathedral, and something of 
Patteshull's reverence for the altar was re-enjoined. 
In 1 641 he was one of the twelve bishops who left 
the House of Lords because the populace were 
becoming excited against bishops. They left it with 
the famous protest against legislation in their absence. 
For this the twelve were taken into custody, and 
Wright, as an old man, was allowed to plead his own 
cause at the bar of the Commons. He appealed to 
the members from his present and past dioceses for 
their " knowledge of his courses." He desired to 
"regain the esteem which he was long in getting, but 
had lost in a moment." " For if I should outlive, I 
say not my bishopric, but my credit, my grey hairs 
and many years would be brought with sorrow to the 




The Outbreak of the Great Rebellion — How Lichfield Cathedral 
fared— Sufferings of the Clergy — Some Good Features of 
the Anarchy — Boscobel. 

In 1 641 the Puritan faction roused popular feeling 
against the Church. The bishops found it dangerous 
to attend the House of Lords. The famous protest 
of the twelve bishops, already mentioned, was then 
drawn up. On Jan. 30, 1642, the protestors were 
voted to the Tower, and episcopal voters banished 
from the Lords with the king's consent. Petitions 
then poured in to this maimed and defective Parlia- 
ment from all parts, interceding for episcopacy and 
the Liturgy. That from Cheshire was signed by 
10,000 yeomen and gentlemen. "Our pious, ancient, 
and laudable form of Church service," it said, "com- 
posed by holy martyrs and worthy instruments of 
reformation, with such general consent received by 
all the laity, that scarce any family or person that 
can read but are furnished with Books of Common 
Prayer, in the conscionable use whereof many 
Christian hearts have found unspeakable joy and 
comfort, wherein the famous Church of England, 
our dear mother, hath just cause to glory." But 
Scotch treason, Puritan malice, moorland ignorance, 
and city faction were now leagued against her, and 


the usurping Parliament swept her away. The over- 
whehning political influence of the Scotch insured 
the passing of the " Root and Branch Bill " in the 
autumn of 1642. In September, 1643, the "Pres- 
byterian Directory " was forced on the clergy ; and in 
February, 1644, every person over eighteen years of 
age was ordered to take the Covenant. Churchmen 
could not take it without " injury and perjury to 
themselves." The clergy therefore forfeited their 
livings in thousands, and went out in mid-winter to 
starve or beg. For a year the silence of utter deso- 
lation fell upon most of the sanctuaries, and blood was 
flowing like water : for war was raging now on every 
side, and Langton's strong walls and deep moats 
became useful. Though the king had betrayed the 
Church and led the clergy into ruin, they were loyal 
still. The old Bishop of Lichfield, robbed of his 
revenues, shut himself up with a royalist garrison 
in Eccleshall Castle. Chester, Stafford, and Lich- 
field, struck for the king. The cathedral close wsLSpj^, 
the point first assailed. Lord Brook prayed, as he . j 
approached it, for a token from heaven that the 
destruction which he designed for it was of God. 
On St. Chad's day, 1643, "Dumb Dyott " saw him 
from the central tower, and aimed a bullet, which 
struck a piece of timber and glanced off into his 
brain. Then Sir John Gell, of Hopton, took com- 
mand. Stowe Church became a Roundhead garrison ; 
and on Sunday, March 5, the Close capitulated, and 
was filled by roundheads. In April, however. Prince 
Rupert, after a ten days' siege, drained the moat and 
stormed the northern walls with great loss. The 


place yielded, on the 21st, and Colonel Hervey Bagot 
was left in charge of it for the king. 

During the short time that the Roundheads had 
the Close they wrecked it, destroying monuments, 
burning records, and smashing windows, bells, and 
organs. They hunted a cat through the aisles, 
christened a calf in the font, and carried away all 
they could before Prince Rupert came, leaving the 
great spire lying in ruin over the chapter-house. 

Stafford had been taken by treachery. Gell was 
now at the head of the mercenary Moorlanders, and 
a strong league took up quarters at Eccleshall, and 
stormed the castle for a week in vain, fortifying them- 
selves in the church when attacked by royalists who 
had come to relieve the castle. Captain Bird then 
gave place in the castle to " Abel a Dane," who 
betrayed it in three days. Only one of its brave 
old towers now remains to show what defiance the 
bishops of Lichfield could once hurl at their foes. 

Bishop Wright died during the siege. And in 1 644, 
Accepted Frewen, president of Magdalen College, 
Oxford, was consecrated in his college-chapel by the 
archbishop of York and four bishops, on the king's 
nomination. But, having neither cathedral, revenues, 
nor power, he retired into Kent, and lived there till 
t66o, v/hen he was translated to York. 

In 1646, when the king's cause had become des- 
perate, the close at Lichfield finally opened its gates 
to the Parliamentary spoilers. ^ 

' For the Earl of Northampton's sally from Lichfield, and 
death at Hopton, see "Peterborough," in this series of "Dio- 
cesan Histories," page 184. 


Coventry, during these times, was disloyal, — 
avenging the loss of its " holy and beautiful house " 
a century before upon the race of the sacrilegious 
king, — and in consequence lost the first place in the 
title of the bishop. There Baxter thundered. 

Meantime, the committees for " scandalous " and 
" plundered " ministers made havoc of the clergy 
who remained. Walker has told us of some of these, 
but as he was a Devonshire man he knew but little of 
the vast amount of suffering which here fell upon 

All the dignitaries of Lichfield were deprived ; 
and only eight or ten of them lived to be restored. 
Higgens, archdeacon of Derby, was precentor. 
When the Close was attacked he got away to the 
king's army, and ere long found himself a prisoner 
at Coventry. There he bought his liberty at a 
high price, and retired to his living at Stoke-on- 
Tern. He had been shot at as he went to prayers 
in the minster at Lichfield ; his wife and family 
were now turned into the street at Stoke, the 
neighbours being forbidden to give them shelter. 
When he got his " fifth " of the living he set up a 
little school, but was deprived even of that, and his 
family were reduced to beggary. " I myself," wrote 
his son, " not having tasted a bit of bread for two or 
three days, have been glad to satisfy my hunger 
on crabbs and hedge-fruits." The archdeacon of 
Coventry " was urged with drawn swords and bloody 

^ He mentions 20 in Cheshire, 5 in Derbyshire, 13 in Lanca- 
shire, 31 in Salop, 17 in Staffordshire, and 16 in Warwickshire. 


halberds to serve the idol " (so he called the 
Covenant) ; " they offered me ;^4oo per annum, 
sweetened with commendation of my abilities, to 
bow to it." At Alford, in Cheshire, soldiers drove 
the rector's wife mad by carrying her out of the 
house to abuse her on a dunghill. The rector of 
Clifton Campville was thrown into Coventry gaol 
when the plague was there. Mr. Langley was de- 
prived of St. Mary's, Lichfield, because he had 
preached and administered the Sacrament on Christ- 
mas-day. Soldiers broke into Staunton Rectory, Salop, 
at midnight, with cocked pistols, seized " the rogue," 
as they called the rector, and ripped open his beds 
to make sacks for his tithe-corn. When Dr. Temple, 
vicar of Burton-on-Trent,was gone to London to meet 
his persecutors, his wife was dragged out of childbed 
and placed in a chair in the churchyard in the middle 
of a cold night. The livings were left vacant or filled 
with makeshifts of the poorest sort. One Peartree, 
a pedlar, succeeded Dr. Arnway at Hodnet; Crutch- 
low, a butler, followed Mr. Orpe at Staunton ; and 
Hopkins, a glover, became quasi-vicar of High 

In 1643 the bishop's estates were confiscated; the 
manors of Frees, Burton-in-Wirral, Farndon, Knuts- 
hall, and Eccleshall were sold, together with various 
rents and the palace of Coventry, for a total sum of 
^^29,180. Deans and chapters had been abolished 
previously, though not without eloquent speeches 
from Sir Benjamin Rudyard, and from Dr. John 
Hacket, who was heard at the bar of the Commons. 

It is often said now-a-days that the Church of 


England is a " Parliamentary Church," The suffer- 
ings of our fathers at the hands of the Parliament 
show the falsehood of the statement. When Parlia- 
ment assumed the reins of Church government she 
was speedily brought to the state in which we see her 
in 1650, — a bleeding and mangled body, without 
resident bishop, cathedral, or canonical clergy and 

During the confusions which then prevailed, every 
man was allowed to be a law unto himself, provided 
he was lawless towards the Church. Yet the reign of 
anarchy had some good features. " Drunken Barnaby " 
sings, forsooth, of Cheshire puritanism : — 

I came to Over, O profane one, 
And there I found a puritane one, 
A hanging of his cat on Monday, 
For killing of a rat on Sunday. 

But there was much real religion. Many a godly 
churchman found rest and shelter among the Stafford- 
shire hills. Dr. Sheldon came to Mayfield, and 
Izaak Walton fished Beresford Dale and Bentley 
brook in peace, when London was no place for 
honest folk to dwell in ! Some of the Puritan 
ministers were exceedingly zealous and earnest. Mr. 
Machin, a native of Newcastle-under-Lyme, was 
" ordained " to the curacy of Ashburne. He found 
there that Quakerism was a " degree of possession," 
since a sick Quaker whom he visited "raved" the 
more, the more he prayed for him. Having a little 
property both in his own right and that of his wife, 
he set apart a portion of it for weekly lectures in the 



old minster towns of mid-Staffordshire, which he 
kept up for six years. Mr. Woolrich, a farmer at 
Chebsea, near Eccleshall, got the living when the 
vicar was deposed, but he faithfully paid him his 
"fifths," and spent the rest upon "supplies" for 
puritanical Sunday services. Moreover, the Govern- 
ment established lecturers in the market towns, and 
augmented the prebendal churches out of the confis- 
cated prebends of the cathedral. " Whereas," wrote 
the Trustees for the Maintenance of Ministers, in 1655, 
"for the better carrying on of the work of the 
ministry in the market town of Stafford, the charge 
whereof being very great, we have humbly presented 
to his highness and the Counsell, that the yearly 
summ of ffifty pounds be granted unto such godly 
and painful preachers of the Gospell as shall bee 
from time to time approved by his highness's com- 
missioners for approval of publique preachers, and 
appointed to bee assistant in carrying on the work of 
the ministry in the said town ; " his highness, Richard, 
Protector of the Commonwealth, then appointed 
Mr. Noah Brian to be vicar of St. Mary's in Stafford, 
and ]Mr. Greensmith lecturer. The latter got the 
handsome stipend of ;^5o a year out of the "Rectories 
of Gnosall, Stotfold, Bishop's Hull, Edgbaston, and 
Rugeley," which had been cathedral prebends. St. 
Chad's, Lichfield, was also augmented by ^50, and 
the vicarage of Gnosall by ;£!"]. But in 1654, " no 
provision had been made for Wolverhampton," whose 
collegiate church, having survived the Tudor wreck, 
was, like Manchester, confiscated in the Stuart 
troubles. Mr. Gibbs Gallimore, minister of Colwich, 



had a vote of ;£2o out of the rectory of Colwich, 
which was worth ;^iio; and ]Mr. John Butler, one 
of the ministers of the '' cittie of Lichfield," ;z^i5o. 
So it was in other places. But, from complaints 
which are constantly recorded, it seems that these 
admirable augmentations were not always paid. 

In the heart of the old episcopal woods of Brewood, 
the Giffards of Chillington had a hunting-box, 
which they built during the reigns of Elizabeth and 
James I. to shelter the emissaries of the new papist 
sect. The house still stands ; and near it, is a fine 
healthy, full-proportioned, and partly hollow old oak- 
tree, which professes^ to be that which shared, with the 
wonderful secret-places still to be seen in the house, 
the honour of hiding Charles II. He came thither 
after the battle of Worcester, September 6, 165 1, and 
was in a "pollard oak" with Captain Carless, and a 
good supply of bread, cheese, and small beer, when he 
saw soldiers going up and down the thickets of the 
wood looking for persons who had escaped." Not 
far away are the grey ruins of Whiteladies. The 
church was long used as a Romish burial-ground, and 
there lie the remains of '' Dame Joane," mother of 
the five brave Penderells, who, though Romanists, 
heroically sheltered the fugitive king from his remorse- 
less foes. 

' On a brass plate in front of it. The tree is fenced about 
%vilh tall iron rails, and its holes plastered over with lead. 

R 2 




Ejection of Intruding Clergy — Bishop Hacket's Rebuilding 
of the Cathedral Ruins — The Great Plague — The Worst 
Bishop who ever ruled Lichfield — Quaker Troubles — The 
Revolution — Reaction from it — Sacheverell — Jacobin 

England awoke in 1660 from the reign of Non- 
conformity as from a troubled dream, and asked at 
once for her Church. 

Church life rapidly revived in the diocese. The 
men who had usurped the livings — the glovers, tailors, 
soldiers, and others, as well as such churchmen as 
had drifted into incorrigible presbyterianism — were 
ejected in 1662. Palmer gives a list of them, naming 
thirty-seven in Derbyshire, forty in the whole of 
Shropshire, forty-nine in Staffordshire, and thirty-five 
for the whole county of Warwick. The purchasers of 
the bishop's property were also dispossessed. Such of 
the old and lawful clergy as survived were restored 
to their livings and dignities. The skinner in Ercall 
Vicarage and the butler at Staunton had now to give 
place to lawful clergy. It is clear, indeed, from 
Calamy's own pages that a large proportion of the 
ejected ministers were not episcopally ordained, and 


more than probable that many others had not been 
ordained at all. The ejected vicar of Tipton was a 
" moderate independent." The vicar of Clifton 
Campville had never found a bishop who would 
ordain him. Calamy makes much of the learning of 
his heroes, but Bishop Hacket found them " great 
dunces." The plague and debt drove out the vicar of 
Church Stretton. Jollie of Norbury was "not a man 
for Common Prayer, but much approved the Scotch 
presbitery." Norbury of Over Peover was apparently 
not beneficed. The list, in fact, will not bear investi- 

Some of the ejected ministers practised physic ; 
one dug coal profitably ; others farmed. Some 
gathered dissenting congregations, which built and 
endowed chapels. One of these was the " Old Meet- 
ing " at Birmingham, whose chapel was lately sold by 
the Unitarians for ;^3o,ooo. The general drift of 
such congregations was towards Arianism ; and many 
of them entirely died out. The Puritanism of the 
Reformation is now almost, if not entirely, extinct. 

Some of the ministers were blatant in their non- 
conformity, like Mr. Garside of Bosley, whom Sir 
J. Shakerley pulled out of the pulpit in 1660. They 
were always in trouble. Others, like Mr. Garside's 
next neighbour, were "prudent," and never met with 

Bishop Frewen was at once translated to York, and 
when Calamy at length finally declined the see, John 
Hacket (1661-1671) accepted it. He came in the 
spring of 1661, and was met on the road with unmis- 
takable tokens of welcome. At Coventry, Sir Thomas 


Norton made a Latin speech, and at the edge of 
Staffordshire the schoohiiaster of Stafford paid him a 
similar compHment on behalf of the county. 

Hacket went straight to Lichfield, where he found 
terrible traces of the late evil times. The cathedral 
had been devoted to destruction. Its materials were 
to have been sold, but it partly escaped this fate. Yet 
there was neither church nor home to receive the 
new bishop. Eccleshall Castle was in ruins, and 
the splendid palace which Langton had built, and 
the fortifications of the close were heaps of hopeless 
wreck. The minster was floorless, and half roofless. 
Its great spire lay over the chapter-house and choir ; 
and the monuments, Avindows, organs, and bells were 
utterly wrecked. Pickins, a pewterer, had " knockt 
in pieces " the goodly " bell of Jesus.'"' 

But Hacket was just the man for the time. He 
had been forty years in orders, and had climbed up- 
wards through every stage of ministry to the episco- 
pate. He was old when he came to Lichfield, but his 
small shapely figure, his pleasant face, and cherry 
ringing voice showed no signs of decay. His clergy 
said the king must have the " old apostolic spirit of 
discerning " since he had sent them a bishop so 
exactly to their minds. 

Hacket lost no time in beginning to build up Jeru- 
salem. He set his carriage horses to remove rubbish ; 
he furnished a prebendary's house as a palace ; he 
opened a subscription through the diocese, which 
brought in the grand total of ;,/^2 0,000. The king 
gave timber, Sir Christopher Wren was architect, but 
the bishop was life and soul of the whole work. And 


on Christmas-eve, 1669, the restored cathedral was 

That was a joyful occasion. The choir, clergy, and 
cathedral body entered by the west door saying 
Psalms. They passed up the south aisle, round by the 
Lady Chapel, down the north aisle, and up the nave. 
The choir-gates were formally opened and the choir 
space perambulated, the bishop settling at a fald- 
stool in the middle, where he offered the dedicatory 
prayers. Then morning prayer was said ; and for three 
days he feasted the officials of the cathedral and city, 
and the gentry of both, in succession in his house. 

The castle of Eccleshall, like those of Tut- 
bury, Stafford, and many another mediaeval fortress 
in the diocese, was now untenable. Hacket lived in 
his little black-and-white palace at the north-western 
corner of Lichfield Close. Twice in the month he 
preached in the cathedral, and on the other Sundays 
drove out to preach in neighbouring towns. His 
bright sermons and wise counsels must have done 
much to revive corporate Church life. And his 
hospitable habits drew the gentry round him. But 
he gave no countenance to the lasciviousness of 
the age. He refused to ordain men with long hair ; 
and on one occasion rose from table, pushed up 
his chair, and would have left the room, had not 
the gentleman Avith whom he was dining stopped a 
flow of impure talk which had broken out. 

Hacket provided a couple of organs for the 
cathedral. His last work was to restore the bells; but 
before they were hung, he bade farewell to tlie world 
and retired into his chamber to meet his approaching 


end. During that solemn week the tenor was hung, 
and when its clear notes boomed forth, Racket came 
out of his chamber to listen, " It is my passing-bell," 
he said ; and so it was. Sir Andrew, his son, saw the 
work completed. 

Whilst the great spire was rising, a calamity visited 
the diocese in common with the rest of England, 
which tested the stuff of which the restored clergy 
were made. The two western spires, in their new- 
ness hundreds of years before, had looked down on 
the Black Death. The great spire now rose again 
above the Great Plague, Hacket, in the midst of 
the building, collected nearly ;^35o for the smitten 
Londoners ; but William Mompesson, rector of Eyam, 
in Derbyshire, set an example of heroism worthy of 
the legitimate successors of the men who had stood 
to their posts in 1346, 

The plague came to Eyam in a tailor's package in 
September, 1665, and the tailor's death began a 
mortality which lasted a year and swept away 260 
out of a population of 350. When Mompesson 
found that his parish was infected he prevailed upon 
his people to shut themselves up within its limits. 
The Earl of Devonshire, then at Chatsworth, sup- 
plied them with food, which was brought to wells and 
stones on the borders of the plague-stricken area. 
The church was shut up ; the passing-bell rang till 
its tale became meaningless ; the churchyard had to 
be closed, and people buried their dead how they 
could. A family of Talbots was entirely destroyed. 
One woman buried with her own hands a husband 
and six children. The rector lost his wife, but he 


never forsook his post, and Mr. Stanley, his ejected 
predecessor, helped him bravely. The two were, 
indeed, almost the only " shepherds " left. The kine 
lowed unmilked in the fields, and sheep wandered 
where they would. The people were gathered three 
times a week into a rocky dell for prayers, and, in- 
spired by their heroic clergyman, were true to their 
promise to die rather than endanger their neighbours 
by wandering ov'er their border. 

Dissent had now almost died out. In 1676 there 
were, indeed, only 1,949 papists and 5,042 non- 
conformists to 155,720 churchmen in the diocese. 
The returns in which these figures are found show the 
localities in which dissent still flourished most. 
Popery was strongest at Solihull in Warwickshire, at 
Sedgeley in Staffordshire, at Norbury and West 
Hallam in Derbyshire, Birmingham had 2,582 con- 
formists, 1 1 papists, and 30 dissenters. The town 
was less than Tamworth, and only half the size of 
Bakewell. Dissent had 155 members in Stafford 
(where the Church had 1,100) and claimed larger num- 
bers in the moorlands than elsewhere, having one- 
third of the population of Grind on, and one-sixth of 
that of Ipstones. 

In Stafford the Roman Catholic influence of the 
once-powerful barons of the town only fostered 
thirteen of their own sect, and this, too, before the 
execution of Henry, Lord Stafford, who died for 
treason in 1680. The prevalence of popery at West 
Hallam and Sedgeley may be illustrated by the well- 
known trials of Busby and Bromwich as "popish 
priests." They were both found guilty of high 


treason, condemned, and — pardoned. At Glossop, 
where William Bagshaw, the " Apostle of the Peake," 
had been vicar, there were 52 nonconformists, 
and 1,984 Church people. At Kenilworth there 
were 618 conformists and 235 dissenters, with no 
very clear reason to account for the heavy percentage 
of the latter, except, perhaps, the fact that when the 
nonconforming minister was ejected he haunted the 
neighbourhood till " the country was too hot for 
him,'' and then " hid himself in a wood," whence he 
got away to London. 

Whilst Lichfield had thus the best of bishops, it 
had the worst of deans. In 1663, Tho^l\s Wood 
(bishop 1671-1692), son of a court official, had paid 
;^ioo to Charles IL and got the deaner}-. "A 
prett}' story," says Pepys, " was current about him. 
Hacket excommunicated him, and caused the sen- 
tence to be read in the cathedral whilst Wood was in 
church. The culprit not only refused to withdraw, 
but made the service to be gone through with, 
though himself, an excommunicate, was present (which 
is contrary to the canon), and said he would justify 
the quire therein against the bishop, and so they are 
at law." The whole chapter hated Wood, and sent 
a letter to the archbishop complaining that their 
stalls under such a dean were intolerable. The arch- 
bishop thought Wood '' puritan, covetous, sordid " ; 
yet court influence made him bishop at Racket's 
death. And then it was seen that he hated Lichfield 
as Lichfield hated him. He took money which had 
been provided for a palace, and retired to Hackney, 
where, though very rich, he lived in a mean house of 


his own, " sawing and cleaving of wood for exercise 
to save firing." In July, 1681, he was ordered to 
return to his diocese. He promised to do so "when 
the weather was somewhat cooler," but he was back 
at Hackney again next year. The king and the arch- 
bishop now both pressed him — the former to devise 
his fortune to a royal nominee, the latter to do his 
duty. He refused both, and in 1684 was sus- 
pended; but in 1686 he had influence enough at 
court to recover his revenues. Soon afterwards 
he placed ;^2,6oo in the hands of Dean Addison 
for the building of a palace at Lichfield, but after 
it was built, refused the keys of it as long as 

Wood was a servile flatterer of James II., but did 
not vacate the see, or rather the revenues, of Lichfield 
for the difficulties of the nonjurors. 

At this time a small but very interesting and excel- 
lent movement Avas bearing fruit, which had been 
originated fifty years before by Morton whilst bishop 
of Lichfield. This was no less than the augmenta- 
tion of poor vicarages at the expense of the appro- 
priated rectories. Morton's heart bled for the parishes 
of Northamptonshire from which he, as bishop of 
Coventry, drew away the tithes ; and both he and 
his successor, Wright, voluntarily gave back something 
of them to the parochial clergy. The movement spread, 
and at one time promised to become general. But in 
the end covetousness prevailed. Nevertheless, Bishop 
Kennett, in his " Case of Impropriations," has some 
good things to tell of the tithe-owners of this neigh- 
bourhood. Lord Digby restored the impropriate 


tithes to Coleshill and Upper Whitacre, near Bir- 
mingham. " As for Coleshill, by a solemn paper left 
signed with his own hand to provide against all 
casualties, lest he should die before he had accom- 
plished what he intended, he took care to tell his 
surviving relations how upon mature deliberation he 
was fully and religiously resolved to restore the tithes 
— which, as he words it, belonging to the Church by 
several titles, ought not to be withheld." Poor 
Whalley and other Lancashire churches got some- 
thing of their own again from the kindness of the 
archbishop. And Walter Chetwynd, Esq., of Ingestre, 
in dedicating his rebuilt parish church, laid a deed 
on the altar conveying to his clergyman the tithes of 
the church of St. Peter, Hopton, which had been 
destroyed in the wreck of St. Mary's College at 

Whilst Wood was bishop, Lancelot Addison 
became dean, and was superintending the building 
of the palace whilst Joseph, his son, was going to 
Charterhouse and Oxford. The elder Addison 
owed this preferment, and perhaps also the arch- 
deaconry of Coventry, to his services in a foreign 

Joseph Addison, the son, was born in 167 1, and 
was now at Magdalen College, where his classical 
knowledge and rare powers of expression began to 
attract attention. Dryden spoke of him as a "most 
ingenious " and " most excellent young man," who 
had pointed out many faults in his translation of 
Virgil. His verses to King William, who had spent 
a night at the deanery in 1690, made his for- 


tune. The dean intended him for Holy Orders, and 
young Addison went so far as to bid farewell to the 
Muses in near prospect of dealing with more weighty 
truths. But the eye of Lord Halifax — the cleverest 
writer of the day — was upon him, and ere he could 
take Orders, Halifax had secured his promising talents 
to the Government by the offer of an ample pension. 
And so this youth of " sweet seriousness " passed out 
from the fostering shade of the old cathedral on his 
brilliant career as a writer. The Government which 
wielded the mighty sword of William HI. were happy 
in perceiving the power of Addison's pen. What he did 
for them is well known ; but what he did for morality 
and religion was greater still. The Christian influence 
of his Lichfield home never forsook him. His pleasant 
and captivating essays were lay sermons, of quiet but 
marvellous power, and they never lost their true 

The influences of the Revolution were now 
strong at Lichfield. They were made stronger still 
in 1692, when the royal almoner, William Lloyd 
(1692-1699), bishop of St. Asaph, was appointed 
bishop. Lloyd ^ was a singularly holy and accurate 
man, and a popular preacher in high places. Whilst 
dean of Bangor, he had been a friend and fellow- 
student of Bishop Pearson of Chester (whose funeral- 

^ Addison's father, the dean, who died in 1704, and his mother 
and sister, lie in the minster-yard at Lichfield, The dean was 
bm-ied in the greensward at the west end. Dean Bickersteth 
restored the inscription in 1882. 

^ For more of Lloyd see "Worcester," in this series of 
Diocesan Histories. 


sermon he preached), and was himself the greatest 
Chronologist of his day. Marshall's tables were taken 
from his MSS. Bishop Burnet, in 1693, was glad to 
acknowledge that his " History of the Reformation " 
was undertaken at Lloyd's suggestion, with the help 
of Lloyd's wonderful historical collections.^ He 
speaks of him as having revised that work at a time 
when he was spending all day in parish work, and the 
greater part of the night in study. 

In the Salt Library are two MS. volumes of this 
date, in which, for forty years, the chancellors of the 
diocese jotted down memoranda. They contain a 
number of forms and faculties which illustrate the 
times. W. Blore, vicar of ISIancetter, has complained 
that the Communion-table in his church " stands in 
the middle of the high chancel, by reason whereof he 
is constrained to go in great disorder from seat to 
seat to deliver the Sacrament to the parishioners; but, 
where seats are double, he cannot distinguish whether 
people receive on their knees." The table is there- 
fore ordered to be removed to the east end and railed 
off. A large tank may be erected in St. Michael's 
Churchyard, Derby, for town water. There are one 

' "You know well, that you were tlie person that prest me 
most to undertake that work ; and, to encourage me to it, you 
promised me two very valuable things ; the one was the copying 
out of all your ' Collections ' relating to that time ; the value 
of this can only be judged by those who have seen with what 
an amazing diligence, and to hov/ vast an extent, and in how 
exact a method all those many volumes, — I had almost said, 
that library' of Collections, — is digested. No part of this pleased 
me more than that criticalness which is so peculiar to yourself, 
in marking all dates so punctually." 


or two half-obliterated orders for public penance. 
Adultery still comes within the cognizance of the 
bishop's court. A parish-clerk, of Wolfancote, is 
sworn before the vicar of Napton that he shall 
faithfully execute the office, " by taking care of 
church books and other utensils committed to his 
charge ; by not causing the bells to be range or 
jangled at unseemly times ; and by being obedient to 
his minister in all things lawful and customary." 
There are also writs to magistrates for committal to 
prison for non-appearance and contempt of court in 
cases of non-payment of tithe. The first is issued in 
1 68 1, at the request of Dean Addison, against Mary, 
relict and executrix of George Holland, of Wichnor. 
As the defendant had married again, the ecclesiasti- 
cal authorities could not have been very hasty in 
their proceedings. 

All three offenders were probably Quakers, for now 
began what the Quakers were pleased to call their 
" sufferings," about which a somewhat bitter con- 
troversy sprang up in the diocese. The " List of 
Sufferings," published by the Quakers themselves, 
shows an average of one prosecution in four years 
in each county in the diocese, and not more than 
twenty cases in the whole diocese for forty years. 
The greater part of their " sufferings " arose from 
attachments for contempt, and their chief complaint 
is, that they were cited into the ecclesiastical courts 
instead of into the presence of magistrates. 

The next bishop, John Hough (1699-17 17), had 
the good fortune to enjoy uninterrupted health and 
popularity to an advanced age. He began life as a 


scholar at Walsall and Birmingham, and was president 
of Magdalen College, Oxford, Avhere his brave stand 
in 1687 against a Roman Catholic whom James II. 
wished to foist into his place, made him the idol 
of people. For the nation was just then in an agony 
of fear for the stability of its Protestantism. The 
king, James II., was a Papist, and the Church was 
regarded as the bulwark of the Reformation. Hough's 
bold action in Oxford put him on the popular footing 
of the seven bishops ; and, as he, unlike the greater 
part of them, welcomed the advent of William of 
Orange, his advancement was certain. In 1690 he 
was made bishop of Oxford, a see which he held 
with his college presidency. The fame of his great 
exploit had gone before him when he came to the 
diocese of Lichfield in 1699. Here all the clergy 
but four had followed the example of the seven 
bishops, and refused to read James II. 's " Declaration 
of Indulgence." Hough, therefore, was a most ac- 
ceptable bishop, and his halo did not fade. He 
was learned and conscientious enough to command 
respect as a bishop, and yet withal so pleasant and 
cheery in manner as to pass for the ideal Englishman 
he had shown himself at Magdalen. But beyond 
the fact that he remodelled the palace which Lloyd 
had built on the ruins of Eccleshall, for his own 
comfort, and that, for the comfort of his dean, 
he annexed Tatenhill Rectory to the deanery, and 
refused the primacy in 17 15, there is nothing remark- 
able about his Lichfield career. He was an instance 
of a brave and good man in thorough harmony with 
the spirit of his age. 


The Church of England was now as popular 
among the laity as the bishop of Lichfield and 
Coventry. But all her members were not of the 
same mind. Violent disputes broke out between 
Whig bishop^ and Tory clergy, which raged fiercely 
in Convocation, where High Churchmen were led in 
1704 by Dr. Bincks, ^ dean of Lichfield, the pro- 
locutor. The clergy complained bitterly against 
being compelled by the Test Acts to administer Holy 
Communion to notorious schismatics, who only 
sought it as a qualification for ofiice. They asked 
redress at the hands of Parliament, and the bishops 
opposed them. Their fury increased when Queen 
Anne seemed to take sides against them, and when, 
in 1706, Convocation was prevented by prorogation 
from expressing its opinion on the union with Scot- 
land. Then, as the reaction from Revolution grew, 
the controversy on the divine right of kings revived, 
and the Whigs were denounced in unmeasured lan- 
guage. But Whigs were in office, and they deter- 
mined to make an example of the Tory preachers. 

They selected Dr. Henry Sacheverell as their victim. 
He was a Dorsetshire man ; but his Derbyshire 
extraction brought him to All Saints', Derby, as assize 
chaplain, in 1709. He was not an able man, but 
he had a caustic pen ; and his fine presence and 
grand delivery gave infinite force to his attack on the 

' Bincks was taken to task severely for preaching, on the 5th 
of November, that there was no reason to fear the Romanists. 
Before this he had been censured by the House of Lords for a 
sermon which he preached January 30th, 1702. See Smollett, 
chap. vii. , vol. i., p. 453. 



Government. For this sermon he was tried in West- 
minster Hall ; but, though found guilty, he could 
not be punished, for his cause was popularly identi- 
fied with that of the Church and throne, and the 
nation espoused it with vehemence. Parliament was 
dissolved and filled with High Churchmen ; Dissent- 
ing meeting-houses Avere pulled down, and the Church 
of England was for the time completely triumphant. 

A glimpse of the Derby clergy in 17 15 is given 
us by William Hutton. In that year " there were 
frequent riots in favour of the House of Stewart. 
Personal insults and broken windows were the result. 
This wild fire was fed by combustibles from the pulpit. 
Sturges, of All Saints', prayed publicly for ' King 
James — I mean King George.' The congregation 
became tumultuous ; the military gentlemen drew 
their swords and ordered him out of the pulpit, into 

which he never returned Harris, of St. Peter's, 

was repeatedly called to order by the powerful voice 
of the magistrates. Cantrill, of St. Alkmund's, drank 
the Pretender's health on his knees, and January 30 
became the holiest day in the year. But the wiser 
Lockett of St. Michael's rather chose to amuse 
himself with mowing his grass-plot than meddling 
with politics." 

Shrewsbury was even more disturbed than Derby. 
The following extract is from the diary of Mr, Rey- 
nolds, a Dissenting minister : — " At night, July 6, 
17 15, our meeting-house was pulled down"; and 
afterwards, on a review of the year, he proceeds : — 

" A hideous, malignant spirit broke forth, and was 
remarkably rampant in Lancashire, Shropshire, and 


Staffordshire. Mobs and riots arose in divers places 
and pulled down meeting-houses, unprovoked, unmo- 
lested. They began in Oxford ; then Manchester 
meeting-house came down ; then that of Wolver- 
hampton ; then ours in Salop ; scarce anything was 
done to prevent it. Then followed the ruins of those 
at Wem, Whitchurch, and many others. In Salop 
we were threatened with the ruin of private houses 
for divers nights together. The rioters usually came 
in the night, and worked at pulling down the chapel 
till they had demolished it as far as they pleased. 
Untoward boys carried on the desolation by day." 

This was, of course, not the work of the Church, but 
of the mob, who were agitated with fear lest England 
should, after all, be betrayed by the innovations and 
revolutions of the last decade or two, and who saw that 
the best pillar of the State was the Church, round which 
the State had sprung into being and power. 

s 2 




How the Church vanquished the Deists — Wesleyanism — Aris- 
tocratic Bishops — The Church Asleep — Population lost — 
Difficulties of Church-building. 

Deism sprang up in the Great Rebellion and grew 
through the Revolution far on into the eighteenth 
century. It was the earnest effort of reason to oust 
revelation and mystery from religion ; just as popular 
forces had driven the old dynasty of the Lord's 
Anointed from the English throne. The attempt 
succeeded best among the best educated. At Chats- 
worth, the " Palace of the Peake," in the greatest 
family in Derbyshire, Thomas Hobbes, of Malmes- 
bury, had lived as tutor and honoured guest for three- 
quarters of a century. His influence over neighbour- 
ing squires may probably be illustrated by what 
Cotton of Beresford said of him in 1683, four years 
after his death. The mischievous old philosopher 
was to Cotton's mind — 

In nature the best read ; 
Who the best hand has to the wisest head, 
Who best can think and best his thoughts express. 
("Wonders of the Peake.") 

Thus planted among the most influential classes, 
deism flourished. But it met its match. The bishops 


and a few others engaged its professors in a contro- 
versy, not of platform speeches or newspaper letters, 
but of considerable volumes. They encountered it 
fully and fairly ; and they stamped it out. England 
then settled down upon the firm basis of a reason- 
able faith to await the evangelical revival which 
blessed the Church later on. Such men did for 
Christian evidences what their predecessors had done 
for the Reformation. 

Edward Chandler (17 17-1730) had been Lloyd's 
secretary. He was one of the writers whom the 
controversy with the Deists called forth.^ His great 
opponent was Collins, and his first book, " A Defence 
of Christianity from the Miracles of the Old Testa- 
ment," was published in answer to the " Scheme of 
Literal Prophecy Considered." This came out in 
1725, and when the Schematist had replied, Chandler, 
in 1727, sent forth a "Vindication" of his Defence, 
in two octavo volumes. 

Well-placed Churchmen now sat writing in their 
libraries ; and, though their dioceses and parishes 
suffered, they did work which no other men could 
have done in defence of Christian truth. 

The next bishop, Richard Smallbroke (1730- 
1749), a native of Birmingham, was also a writer 
against the Deists. His style is Tillotsonian, and 
his sentences musical but immensely long. In his 
" Vindication of the Miracles of our Saviour against 
Woolston," he offended the Quakers, whom he called 

^ Curiously, Dr. Samuel Chandler, a Dissenting minister, was 
writing against the Deists at the same time, and with, perhaps, 
greater power than the bishop. 


" Deists in an allegorical disguise." He thought they 
"allegorized away the letter of the New Testament 
by opposing, or at least preferring, an inward Christ 
to an outward and historical one." The Quakers 
were just then in the height of their clamour for 
Parliamentary favours. Their grievances of forty 
years before were raked up and magnified, and tract 
followed tract about their supposed "wrongs." 

Smallbroke's Charge, in 1735-6, speaks of " extra- 
ordinary local efforts to spread Popery." In the 
year 1744-5, he attacked the prevailing system of 
clerical non-residence, which left the parishes to drift 
into dissent. Pluralists were beginning to introduce 
" half service," by giving only one service a Sunday 
to each of their parishes, instead of both morning 
and evening prayer. Clergy, dressed in lay habits, 
frequented stage plays, and other places of large 
concourse which he would only hint at. Clandestine 
marriages were too frequently encouraged. " I would 
endeavour," he concluded, " to refresh and reinforce 
the obligations of the clergy to a more than ordinary 
diligence in their proper studies, and to quicken and 
invigorate their more exact performance of the 
pastoral duties by an additional argument. I mean 
the absolute necessity of them, as more especially 
occasioned by those that are distinguished by the 
denomination of Methodists. For the preachers 
among those of that sect pretend to charge the 
parochial clergy .... with such gross neglect of 
their duty, and such remissness in instructing the 
people in the way to salvation, or their teaching them 
so falsely and erroneously the doctrines of the Gospel, 


that it is become necessary to have the supplemental 

preaching of true Christianity by themselves 

They throw all the disgrace and contempt they 

possibly can on the parochial clergy These 

new itinerants copy the popish pattern of regulars in 

contest with seculars They have thrown off 

all subjection and obedience to episcopal government, 
and act in defiance of the bishops that ordained 
several of them." 

Hostility was now opening between bishops and 
" some whom they had ordained," because the zeal 
of the latter outran the wonted limits of old-fashioned 
Churchmanship. But this zeal was to a large extent 
the outcome of the religious life of the Church of 
England, and was not more valuable in warming men 
to holiness and improved morality, than were the 
learned arguments of stately bishops in settling the 
foundations of faith. But Smallbroke spoke out the 
fears of the nation when he said that Wesleyanism 
was Popery. As such, and not as being a religious 
movement, people opposed it ; they feared it would 
lead back to the era of old and terribly troublesome 

The Wesleys, Whitfield, Fletcher of Madeley, were 
clergymen ; there is little need to trace their Methodism 
to its springs in the old Church. But the lay preachers, 
also, drew much of their Christianity from the same 
source. It seemed, indeed, as if, — since Church life 
had been restricted within the limits of severe dignity 
among its prelates, — it must need burst out irregularly 
elsewhere. It did so among Wesley's first lay preachers 
in this neighbourhood. In the " Lives " which they 


have left behind them, they own great obhgation to 
the Church. One of them, Mr. Robert Roberts says 
of Upton, in Cheshire, in his youth : — 

'' I went to church and received the sacrament 
ahuost every Lord's day. Divine light broke in upon 
my soul with so much clearness, that I was astonished 
at myself, and was ready to say, ' Where have I been, 
and what have I been doing all my life till now ? ' 
The Scriptures seemed new : as also the Book of 
Common Prayer, and everything that was spiritual. 
And I was fully convinced that doctrines taught by 
the Methodists, and those contained in the Word of 
God and the Common Prayers of the Church of 
England, must stand or fall together." Matthew 
Thomas Harly traces serious impressions to the 
evening of the day of his confirmation. He 
preached in Derbyshire. "In 1754," he says, 
" brother Mitchell desired me to come and help 
him in the Staffordshire circuit. Accordingly, I 
went to Birmingham, Wednesbury, &c. Brother 
Crab was then with us, and, as we were too 
many for the few places about Birmingham, I made 
an excursion into the wilds of Derbyshire, preached at 
Wootton, the Ford, Snelston, and Ashburne. I had 
often a great desire to preach in that town, but was at 
a loss how to introduce myself However, I provi- 
dentially heard of a Mr. Thompson, a serious man, 

who kept the toll-gate I took Thomas White 

with me I stayed a few days preaching morning 

and evening." But the road commissioners stopped 
the preaching, not, however, before one or two of 
the steadiest and most influential Church people in 


the neighbourhood had given in their adhesion to 
Methodism. One of them, Judith Beresford, was an 
intimate friend of Dr. Johnson, and cannot be con- 
sidered a Dissenter. 

James Pawson, another lay preacher, was appointed 
to Manchester circuit in 1766, and in 1768 to Wed- 
nesbury. He heartily blesses God that he had been 
taught the Church catechism. Another, Mr. Peter 
Jaco, who preached over Cheshire, Lancashire, and 
Derbyshire, in 1754, was first effectually roused to 
repent of sin by the pointed reference to " damna- 
tion," — " a most erroneous translation," — in the ex- 
hortation in the Communion office.^ 

Wesleyanism had thus unmistakably a broad 
footing in the Church of England, though the 
bishops, engrossed as they were in the vital struggle 
with intellectual evil, suspected it, because they did 
not understand it. Many good men joined it. The 
general body of Church people seem to have regarded 
it from a neutral standpoint. But the rabble, who 
frequented public-houses, and, in their own opinion, 
expressed the voice of the nation, proceeded to blows 
against it, and the Staffordshire black country was 
the scene of some very disgraceful riots. Mr. Wesley 
writes : — 

"Sat., Feb. 18, 1744, I received an account from 
John Jones of another kind of invasion in Stafford- 
shire .... On Monday, Jan. 23, a great mob 
gathered together at Darlaston, a mile from Wed- 
nesbury. They fell upon .... Joshua Constable's 

' These instances are all taken from a single bundle of 
' ' Lives " in the Salt Library. 


wife. Some of them threw her down .... Monday, 
30th. The mob gathered again, broke into Joshua 
Constable's house, pulled part of it down, broke 
some of his goods in pieces, and carried the rest 
away — particularly all his shop-goods .... They 
sought for him and his wife, swearing they would 
knock their brains out ; their little children, mean- 
while, wandered up and down . . . ." This was but 
one of a series of assaults, and Mr. Wesley com- 
ments thus on a paragraph in the papers of Feb. 
18, 1744 : — " ' By a private letter from Staffordshire 
we have advice of an insurrection of the people 
called Methodists,' — the insurrection was not of 
the people called Methodists, but against them — . 
' who, upon some pretended insults from the Church 
party,' — they pretended no insults from the Church 
party, being themselves no other than trne members 
of the Church of England ; but were more than 
insulted by a mixed multitude of church-goers (who 
seldom, if ever, go near a church), Dissenters, and 
Papists — ' have assembled themselves in a riotous 
manner.' Here is another small error perso7ice. 
Many hundreds of the mob did assemble themselves 
in a riotous manner, having given public notice 
several days before (particularly by a paper set up 
in Walsall market-place), that on Shrove Tuesday 
they intended to come and destroy the Methodists, 
and inviting all the country to come and join them. 
' And, having committed several outrages,' — without 
ever committing any, they have suffered all manner 
of outrages for several months past, — 'they proceeded 
at last to burn the house of one of their adversaries.' 


Without burning or making any resistance, some 
hundreds of them on Shrove Tuesday last had their 
own houses broken up ; their windows, window-cases, 
beds, tools, goods of all sorts, broke all to pieces, or 
taken away by open violence; their live goods driven 
off; themselves forced to fly for their lives, and most 
of them stripped of all they had in the world." 

On the 5th of March, Wesley " was much pressed 
to write an address to the king." He wrote — "We 
are a part of that Protestant Church established in 
these realms .... We detest and abhor the funda- 
mental doctrines of the Church of Rome." And he 
speaks of himself and his brother as " We of the 
clergy." The address was not presented, but it sets 
the rage of the Staffordshire mobs in its true light. 

The Wesleyan circuits in Birmingham and Derby 
were formed about 1782. 

Smallbroke is charged by Pegge with "filling the 
Church of Lichfield with his relations." In this he 
resembled Blythe; the two enjoying the proud dis- 
tinction of having been the only bishops of Lichfield 
who lavished public patronage on their private families. 
Blythe was far the worse of the two. Three Blythes 
obtained no less than two archdeaconries, two resi- 
dentiary canonries, and seven prebendal stalls, during 
his episcopate. But the time was now approaching 
when the very chair of St. Chad itself was to be too 
often filled from similar motives. 

Frederick Cornwallis (i 749-1 768) was the son 
of a peer, and was the second bishop of Lichfield 
who attained to the dignity of Canterbury, whither 
he was translated in 1768, after eighteen years of 


eighteenth-century " diHgence, wisdom, and benevo- 
lence" here. John Egerton (i 768-1 771) was the 
grandson of the earl of Bridgewater, and, being in ill 
health, in 177 1 was moved on by Lord North to 
Durham, to make way there, as he did here, for 
Brownlow North (1771-1774). North was Bishop 
of Lichfield and Coventry for three years. He 
was then translated to Worcester, and thence to 
Winchester. And then Richard Hurd (1774- 
1781), a native of Staffordshire, and a scholar of 
Brewood School, spent a decade as Bishop of Lich- 
field and Coventry before his translation to Worcester. 
Then came the long rule of James Cornwallis 
( 1 781-1824). Indeed, from the first Cornwallis, 
1750, to Henry Ryder (1824-1836), every bishop 
of Lichfield, except Hurd, was the near relative of 
the head of some noble house. And Hurd was a 
remarkable exception. Though the son of a farmer, 
he was one of the most courtly men in existence. 
His bearing won the heart of George IH. on his 
first appearance at court, and for a long time he was 
the friend and the trusted adviser of that good king ; 
but his cold and prim propriety saw little but 
fanaticism in the work of Wesley. He seldom ap- 
peared in public, and, when he did so, it was with 
all the pomp and circumstance of a splendid peer. 
Is it a marvel that such bishops had small share in 
the evangelical revival? 

All the bishops of the last century lived at Eccles- 
hall, which the Cornwallises greatly improved. Hurd 
planted and his successor drained it. They were 
not often at Lichfield, though one of them revived 


the early daily morning service there, which, before 
the Great Rebellion, had been largely attended by 
artisans and tradespeople. The statutes of the 
cathedral were also revised. 

Hough increased the number of the residentiary 
canons from four to eight, by heaping two prebends 
upon each of the additional stalls without giving 
them a vote in chapter. This was done by Act of 
Parliament. James Cornwallis, in 1796, got a second 
Act to reduce the number to six of equal standing 
on the foundation, but the fifth and sixth were still 
to retain double stalls. The arrangement brought 
two, at least, of the prebendaries into more real con- 
nexion with the cathedral. 

Sad havoc was now made of the beautiful fabric. 
No longer needed for great diocesan gatherings, 
since there was so little diocesan life, the grand old 
building was manipulated in 1789 in accordance 
with the spirit of the age. The pews and pulpit 
in the nave were removed ; the gravestones were 
swept out of it. A body which had lain near the 
pulpit for 500 years was overhauled, and a pair of 
boots taken from its coffin to adorn Mr. Green's 
museum. The soles helped to elucidate a passage 
of Shakespeare. The choir was enlarged to contain 
the whole congregation. The stone reredos between 
choir and Lady Chapel was abolished, though this 
happily carried with it a Grecian altar-piece. The 
fragments of the reredos were used to deck the 
loft on which the organ stood at the entrance of 
the choir. The length of the choir outgrew its width, 
and the wits of the day lamented that Milton's 


epithet of " long-drawn " had been changed at Lich- 
field into " wire-drawn." The old stalls were dex- 
terously painted with "the appearance of new oak." 
On a Thursday in June, 1795, after ;^8,ooo had been 
spent under the direction of James Wyatt, the crip- 
pling of the cathedral was completed by the addition 
of a painted east window from a design of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds. It was then that the massive buttresses 
of the south transept were replaced with cheap and 
clumsy substitutes of Wyatt's design, and the solid 
groining of four bays of the nave, which was pressing 
in the walls, was changed for lighter plaster. The 
sad transformation fitly symbolised the close of a 
century of drooping Church life. 

The beautiful stained glass which now adorns the 
Lady Chapel came from Herckenrode Abbey, near 
Liege. It was purchased by Sir B. Boothby, in 1802, 
for ;^2oo, and then generously conveyed by him for 
the same price to the dean and chapter of Lichfield. 

The dean and chapter had still sole jurisdiction 
over all the churches which had been appropriated 
to them in past times. The clergy of these "pecu- 
liars" were exempt from visitation by the archdeacons, 
and were the only clergy who met at visitations in 
the cathedral, and in chapter churches, such as 
Bake well. Before 1775, the dean used to charge them 
in the consistory ; but after that date they listened 
to a sermon from the pulpit, Canon Seward being 
the first preacher at Bakewell, and his sermon a fierce 
defence of the Test Acts. 

Nothing perhaps was more characteristic of the 
eighteenth century than its Pagan buildings and its 


galloping parsons. In many cases, fine old mediaeval 
fabrics, such as at St. Chad's, Shrewsbury, and the 
priory church at Stone,^ were the sole relics of splen- 
did minsters ; they were now brought down by neglect 
and by the pernicious custom of indoor funerals, 
which damaged the foundations ; and they were not 
restored. Large Grecian halls, with tiny eastern 
recesses to serve as chancels, were built instead — not 
seldom on other sites — and with funds raised by the 
sale of the pews. Thus the poor were gradually shut 
out of church altogether, and thus arose another of 
the difficulties which the apathy of the eighteenth 
century was preparing for the energy of the nineteenth. 

Another strand in the cord which helped to strangle 
the working-class element in the Church was the 
extreme difficulty of founding a new church. An Act 
of Parliament was necessary for every one, and it is 
said that John Thornton, the friend of Wilberforce, 
was obliged to spend ;^i 0,000 before he could lay 
the foundation-stone of a church which he desired to 
build. Something, however, was done in this way at 
Liverpool, where, in 1765, there were 29,000 people 
and three large churches. At Birmingham, about the 
same date, there were six ; whilst the chapels of the 
old Dissenters were but few and small. 

In country places there was a good deal of cheap 

' Browne Willis happened to come to Stone before the old 
priory church was altogether demolished, and he pleaded hard, 
but in vain, with Lord Gower and the bishop of Lichfield to 
preserve this exquisite relic of mediceval church-building. The 
old church fell at midnight after the funeral of Elizabeth Unit, 
on the last day but one of 1749. 


chapel-building. Over the door of Elkstone, in the 
moorlands, was a tablet, stating that the whole erection 
cost little more than ;^2oo. The services were not 
more costly. I knew a clergyman who had held 
three curacies in the hills early in the present century, 
which were four and six and seven miles apart — a 
mountain lying between every two. He rushed 
through the service at each, and walked the distances 
with a pebble in his mouth to keep it moist. ^ The 
gross endowments of all three were scarcely enough 
to live on ; and it has only been by hard saving, 
persistent begging, and the help of Queen Anne's 
Bounty, that these cures are now augmented. 

Towards the end of the century the Close at 
Lichfield was a garden of poesy. Dr. Johnson and 
Garrick had come and gone. In the palace lived 
Canon Seward, rector of Eyam, and his daughter 
Anna, poets both. Dr. Darwin's "Botanical Garden" 
was just outside the city ; Darwin himself was as 
fond of biological speculation as his descendants have 
since been. The Darwin theory of that day was 
that "All things are made from shells," and Seward 
thus bantered its ingenious author : — 

From atoms in confusion hurled 
Old Epicurus built a world, 
Maintained that all was accidental, 
Whether corporeal power or mental ; 
That neither arms, heart, head, or mind, 
By any foresight were designed. 

' This was the Rev. D. Turner, curate to his father, who 
was incumbent of Meerbrook and Rushton, and curate of Flash 


Darwin at length resolves to list 

Under this famed cosmogonist ; 

He, too, denounces his Creator, 

And forms all sense of senseless matter. 

Great magician ! He, by magic spells, 

Can all things raise from cockle-shells, 

Make men start up from dead fish-bones 

Just as Deucalion did from stones, 

And worlds create, while eyelid twinkles, 

Of lobsters, crabs, and periwinkles. 

(MS. Salt Library. ) 

A good feature of the century was the large number 
of charitable bequests, the rise of societies for pro- 
viding for "clergy widows and orphans," and the 
increase of church and school endowments by bequests 
of land from private individuals. A new spirit was, 
indeed, creeping in by slow degrees. The belter 
times of our own day began to dawn amid the 
densest darkness of eighteenth-century deadness ; 
and, through all, the heart of the country remained 
true to its Church. In the beginning of the century, 
as we have seen, the nation was rejoicing because the 
clergy proved more than a match for Rome. In the 
middle of the century, the same champions vanquished 
the Deists. In the end there was a scare lest the 
infidel and republican principles of the French Revo- 
lution should spread to England. This was the 

for thirty-five years. Between Meerbrook and Rushton lies 
Gun Hill, more than 1,000 ft, above the sea; and Flash lies 
nearly at the top of Axe Edge, by Buxton ; and between Flash 
and Meerbrook again are Goldsich Moss and the Roches, — the 
latter being some Soo or 900 feet above Meerbrook : all these 
were crossed by Mr. Turner in taking his three services. 



secret of the popular clamours at Birmingham in 
1 79 1 against Priestley, who was in open sympathy 
with the French. To the Church, men turned again 
for guidance, and meeting-houses were wrecked 
by " Church and King " mobs, because the people 
for the moment saw, in the lurid light from abroad, 
whence old England's greatness had come, and by 
whom it was threatened. 

The century had not waned before another eminent 
literary canon began to come for two months in a 
year to Lichfield. Robert Nares, M. A., F.R.S., F.S. A., 
lived at Reading, and had written some popular 
books, when, in 1798, Cornwallis gave him a stall, 
and in 1800 the archdeaconry of Stafford. He is best 
known for his " Glossary of Shakespearian Words," 
which he wrote in his leisure hours, and published in 
1822, seven years before his death. A Charge of his 
in the Salt Library shows the exquisite English which 
such men wrote, and also their strong feeling against 
the Wesleyans, who were then turning the world 
upside down, whilst dignitaries sat serene in their 

But if, instead of wasting energy in empty, though 
honest, declamation about the Methodists, Nares and 
his contemporaries had set themselves to carry the 
Gospel to the poor, a vast amount of mischief and 
sorrow might have been prevented. For just then 
large communities were being gathered together in 
commercial centres all over the north-western mid- 
lands. Liverpool imported, Manchester sold, Lanca- 
shire and Derbyshire spun cotton from America in 
enormous quantities. Wherever a stream rushed 


down the valleys in sufficient force, mills were erected, 
and thither workpeople flocked. A similar phenomenon 
occurred in the Black Country, where the coal and 
iron trades began to change the very face of the land. 
Round Birmingham, which got its first order for guns 
from William III., sprang up a great hardware trade ; 
and it was to the people thus drawn away from the 
old villages and their churches that Wesley and his 
followers addressed themselves. And the people be- 
came Methodists or nothing, because there was little 
else for them. Had the clergy, whose ministrations 
they ever valued and preferred, gone out to them, 
they would have been gladly received, and obediently 
followed. The case of the late John Cooper illustrates 
this. Mr. Cooper made a fortune in London, and on 
coming home again to Ashburne, early in the nine- 
teenth century, desired to found a church. But the 
way was hedged up with worse than thorns : — there 
was a stubborn patron, a stubborn vicar, and a still 
more stubborn statute law to overcome. He, there- 
fore, founded a chapel and an almshouse which now 
belong to the Independent sect. 

To overtake the spiritual destitution which then 
sprang up, and to train reclaimed Churchmen in the 
apostolic and evangelical worship of their forgotten 
forefathers, has been since the great and toilsome task 
of subsequent bishops, and has cost more than one 
noble life. 

T 2 




Ryder — Church-building — Church Reforms — Lonsdale — 
Selwyn — Work Achieved, 

There are people in Eccleshall still who remember 
the stately bearing of Bishop Lord Cornwallis. The 
castle adjoins the churchyard ; but, instead of walking 
through the shrubbery to church, this great man — 
the last of the old sort — drove with four horses 
through the town and solemnly marched from the 
gates to the church door between lines of gazing 
rustics. He carried his hat in his hand and, of 
course, wore a wig ; and no one thought of leaving 
church until he had gone out. He was, in fact, the 
patriarch and squire of the place as well as bishop of 
the diocese. His work for good was quiet and old- 
fashioned, but perhaps none the less real. But the 
churchmen of Lichfield diocese will never forget the 
meanness of his letter to Pitt in 1791 whining for the 
deanery of St. Paul's, or Pitt's dignified and crushing 
reply. Such letters would have been strangely im- 
possible to the next bishop. 

For better times began with Henry Ryder (1824- 
1836). He had been bishop of Gloucester from 
1 815, and came hither in the flower of that splendid 


manhood which still seems to breathe in Chantry's 
marble at Lichfield. The revival of religious enthu- 
siasm had now long touched individuals among the 
upper classes in the diocese. Reginald Heber had 
left rich Hodnet Rectory, in Salop, to spend his life 
in the Indian bishopric ; Rowland Hill sprang from 
the same county. Henry Ryder was a Staffordshire 
man, and the son of Nathaniel, earl of Harrowby. He 
was thus as nobly born as any of his predecessors. 
But, on coming to the diocese, he startled everybody 
by plunging into evangelistic work and preaching in 
all directions. The holy fire of his enthusiasm 
caught his more learned and old-fashioned arch- 
deacons, of whom Dr. Butler, the first great head- 
master of Shrewsbury school, was one. The old style of 
charge, therefore, now disappears, and the bishop and 
archdeacons address themselves to the Church's crying 
need — the reclamation of her poor. '•' How often," 
said the bishop in 1832, "must the Urbicus of our 
days have to exclaim in the bitterness of his heart — 
Where alas are those my ' stray sheep ' — stray from 
compulsion in the wilderness of this evil world ; those 
poor whom I might instruct, according to the promise 
of making them wise unto eternal life ? " 

With all the earnestness of Wesley and our last- 
century evangelists, Ryder worked on the old lines of 
the Church of England in his attempt to recover the 
masses. He used the parochial system as the basis 
of his plan, and strove to find room for every man to 
worship in his parish church. 

After eight years of faithful labour, he could 
point to twenty new churches opened and to ten 


more in building; 45,000 sittings had been added to 
the accommodation. In 1825 there had been double 
Sunday services in only 263 churches; by 1831 the 
number rose to 354 ; and in 1832 a searching inquiry 
was made throughout the whole diocese, which, in- 
cluding Coventry, was found to have a population of 
1,065,090 people. In each of 166 parishes there was 
an average population of 4,700 ; in the others, an 
average of 5 80, and church accommodation for 320,000 
only. Birmingham had not church room for one 
seventh of its people ; Derby, Coventry, and Wolver- 
hampton for not one fifth ; Leek, Tipton, Darlaston, 
AVestbromwich, Nuneaton, and the Derbyshire and 
Shropshire coal districts were worse off, and only a 
quarter of the existing seats VN'ere free. In fifty 
parishes there was no school. 

A glance at the charges of the archdeacons shows 
us the state of things in the counties. Dr. Butler, in 
182 1, advised the Derbyshire churchwardens, "on 
account of the agricultural depression, to do only 
such repairs to churches as are necessary," and to 
eschew ornament, but to accommodate the poor. In 
1825 he had 193 churches, of which 30 were exempt ; 
there were 135 clergy, 91 parsonages, and 11,759 
children in schools. He urges the increase of free 
seats, and presses forward the provision of schools. 
Ten years later he has 150,672 people in the Derby- 
shire towns, and only 12,000 free seats for them. He 
now suggests the building of galleries rather than 
that of new churches, since time flies and souls are 
scattered. "A gallery for 250 persons can be built 
for ;^3oo or less." 


In Salop Archdeacon Bather had, in 1830, a 
population of 92,000; 99 churches, of which 69 
were in good repair ; 37,134 seats, and 99 parsonages 
for 61 incumbents and 19 curates. There were two 
sermons a Sunday in 29 churches, and in 31 only 
one service. He had 67 day-schools, 43 Sunday- 
schools, and 3 for infants, with 4,293 free day scholars, 
and 2,792 Sunday scholars, making a total of 7,085 
children. In 1838 the scholars had increased to 


In 1839 Archdeacon Hodson says that since 
Ryder's accession 30 new churches had been built in 
Staffordshire, adding upwards of 30,000 sittings. He 
wants church room for 225,000 ; he has it for 125,000. 

But in 1835 five-sixths of the million souls in this 
diocese were still shut out of church. In order to 
remedy such a terrible evil, Ryder, with the advice 
of his gifted and constant companion, Archdeacon 
Hodson, determined to organise a Church-Building 
Associatiojn on the plan of the Incorporated Society. 
A great meeting was called at Birmingham, which 
was then the chief town of the diocese. The 
bishop took the chair, and amongst those present 
were the earls of Dartmouth, Aylesbury, and Bradford, 
Viscount Lifford, the Hon. Dean Howard, the four 
archdeacons, Sir John Wrottesley, &c. The bishop 
said he had long felt it imperative to give his gravest 
consideration to the extension of religious instruction, 
and was sure the attendance that day, and the con- 
tributions already received, were truly satisfactory 
evidences that the religion of the Established Church 
was most appreciated by those who were best able to 


form a correct judgment of its value and importance. 
Lord Dartmouth said he " believed that the seces- 
sions from the ranks of the Church .... were to be 
attributed to the want of church room more than to 
any other cause." "Religious dissenters had," he knew, 
" publicly acknowledged that the Established Church 
afforded the best security for the toleration they en- 
joyed." He proposed the first resolution, which was 
on the importance of finding church accommodation 
for all classes. Dean Howard prophesied success 
for the society. He always found that whenever the 
ministers and friends of the Established Church came 
forward and showed by their actions that they meant 
to do good, simply and purely, the people of the 
country were willing to meet them half way, and to 
receive any spiritual benefit which they, the clergy, 
were desirous of offering; but the clergy must depend 
on the laity for support. Lord Bradford proposed 
the erection of a Diocesan Society, and Archdeacon 
Hodson showed that they had no intention of tres- 
passing on the Incorporated Church-Building Society. 
Archdeacon Bather spoke warmly : — "Who then is to 
provide these churches ? It has been gravely asser- 
ted that the clergy may do the work. The clergy, 
gentlemen ! I address myself to candid and high- 
minded men. Public documents let you know the 
extent of our great revenues. To maintain ourselves 
and our families we have, one with another, yC^^5 ^ 
year. Can we build churches out of such means ?" 
A committee was then formed, and that year no 
less than ;^i 5,000 was subscribed to its funds. In 
1838 a second appeal under Bishop Butler produced 


^6,000, and, in 1841, Bishop Bovvstead pleaded 
hard for it and got ^^i 6,000. Bishop Lonsdale's first 
appeal, in 1846, brought in ^{^i 9,000. During the 
first twenty years of the society's life, the church 
accommodation increased in Derby, Stafford and 
Salop to 248,000; but at the same time the popula- 
tion had grown by 274,000. 

It soon became evident that church-building was 
not all that was needed. " Our society," said Arch- 
deacon Bather, " lately built a large church at Welling- 
ton, Salop. The incumbent offered it to thirteen 
clergymen in succession ; an endowment there was — 
;^4o a year and the pew rents. Nobody would take 
it — there was no house ; and on the very day after 
the consecration it was likely to have been shut up. 
It so happened that I was present. How could I 
endure this ? ' I'll find you temporary help at 
least,' I said ; for I knew what my own pious and 
excellent curate would do. He readily went at my 
request ; and after a Sunday or two the good people 
of Wellington coveted and desired their neighbour's 
curate. I forgave them that wrong. 'You shall 
have him,' I said, ' if he likes to go to you ; but I'll 
make a bargain with you. You shall find him a 
house at once to put his head in ; and you shall 
do your best to build a parsonage.' They agreed 
immediately, and there he is doing much good work ; 
but this could not have been done had not this 
society been able to make on this occasion its first 
grant towards parsonages of ^200. I would rather 
have five churches with resident incumbents, than ten 
served, as the phrase is, from a distance." 


Side by side with the raising of churches and 
vicarages went the effort to build schools ; but 
here, again, the chief difficulty was the want of 
able teachers. " A grocer has to be trained before 
he can sell a pound of tea," pleaded Archdeacon 
Hodson. " How can a schoolmaster teach without 
training?" The result of his pleading was the estab- 
lishment at Lichfield of a training-school for masters, 
the first of its kind in England, and of Boards of 

Bishop Ryder's eye and heart were ever among the 
poor. He noted their hard and unhealthy toil in 
mills and forges ; ^ spoke of temperance societies ; 
and urged on the Truck and Factory Acts, and lost 
no opportunity of visiting lowly homes. A clergyman 
who dined with him at the house of a lady, some 
little distance from Lichfield, remembers well how the 
bishop, instead of sitting over wine after dinner, 
asked the butler for a great-coat and lantern, and 
went to visit a sick man before following the ladies 
to the drawing-room. 

His confirmations were very striking. All the re- 
sources of a loving, holy soul Avere poured upon them. 
He sent a printed letter to the parents and god- 
parents of every candidate before the event, and 
Archdeacon Hodson, his chaplain, gave a second 
letter to each of the candidates as they rose from 
under the imposition of hands. Then followed a 
short pastoral charge from the pulpit, which the 

' He remarked that the Evanses of Darley were an honourable 
exception in their care for workpeople, for whom they built 
Darley Church. 


bishop repeated from place to place with marvellous 

Ryder was neither a great scholar like Lonsdale, nor 
a great administrator like Selwyn ; but, like Clinton, 
Stavenby, Hales, Racket, and Hough, he came to 
Lichfield at the right time, and did the special work 
which the age required. But the poor had been 
shut out too long, and gathered in manufacturing 
masses too grossly dense to be readily reclaimed. 
Moreover, the standard of church membership was 
now one of pure life and intelligent worship. It was 
no longer enough to herd together in the house of 
God ; and the Church ales and Sunday romps of 
former days were no longer used to entice, nor the 
strong whip of a coercive Uniformity to drive, the 
people into the sanctuaries. 

Division of the diocese was now imminent ; but 
it came too late. The holy bishop broke down 
under his work and died in March, 1836, having done 
wonders for the Church of England. The impression 
made by his personal character upon Birmingham is 
said to have kept the town quiet in a moment of 
great exasperation against the clergy. 

In July Samuel Butler (1836-1839), who for 
seventeen years had been archdeacon of Derby, suc- 
ceeded and carried on the good work so well begun. 

James Bowstead (1840- 1843) succeeded Butler. 
He laboured diligently and conscientiously during 
his brief episcopate, giving his life as the price of an 
effort to bear the terrible strain of so large a charge. 

And now came a time of sweeping changes. At 
the end of 1836 the archdeaconry of Coventry was 


severed from Lichfield and annexed to Worcester ; 
thus, though Coventry was never a diocese in itself, 
the two ancient cities and titles were sundered, and 
henceforward the bishops were bishops of Lichfield 
only in name, as they had been all along in reality. 

In 1846 the deanery of Bridgenorth was subtracted 
by order in council and added to Hereford. 

In the same year a still greater change was made in 

DICTION, and when Archdeacon Hodson, in 1847, 
gathered the re-united clergy under the roof of the 
cathedral, or St. Peter's at Wolverhampton, he spoke 
of the re-union as a most welcome and joyous thing. 
Thenceforth, the archdeacons were empowered to 
visit every church ; and their doing so has brought 
ventilation and life to the old waste places. Nor was 
this the only result of the revival of Church feeling. 
The mischief wrought by the appropriation of 
parochial rectories to the cathedral was, about the 
same time, reversed and turned to good. The livings 
annexed to monasteries had been for three centuries 
in lay hands, those of the cathedrals had been care- 
fully preserved as Church property ; and just when 
bishops like Ryder were straining every nerve to 
overtake the needs of the English people, by provid- 
ing them with the means of grace, this treasury was 
opened. The cathedrals found the funds out of which 
most of the immense number of new churches then 
rising in populous places were endowed. All the 
churches in Wolverhampton, for example, have been 
endowed out of the revenues of St. Peter's collegiate 
church, which was then dissolved as a minster. We 


need hardly tell oi;r readers that this was done by the 
incorporation of the bench of bishops and others as 
the Ecclesiastical Commission, whose power came 
from Parliament, but its revenues from the minsters, 
prebends, and bishop's lands. The number of resi- 
dentiary canons was cut down at Lichfield from 
six to four, and the stipends of the canons, which 
had varied with the amount of fines on leases, was 
fixed at ;^S'^'^ ^ year. The lands of the bishopric 
were valued at ;^3,923, and the episcopal stipend 
fixed at ^4,500; so that Lichfield profited by the 

The changes which were thus taking place amounted 
to little short of a revolution. Amid them all there 
sprang up again in Lichfield diocese the order of 
Rural Deans. Bishop Ryder and his archdeacons 
had talked over the revival of the order at their 
very last meeting. He had caused accurate search 
to be made for the ancient order in the Lichfield 
archives, but without result. In Derby they had been 
five — High Peake, Chesterfield, Derby, Ashburne, and 
Castellar ; in Salop, three — Newport, Bridgenorth, 
and Salop ; in Stafford, eight — Stafford, Lapley and 
Trysail, Leek and Alveton, Newcastle and Stone, 
Tamworth and Tutbury. Ryder intended to multiply 
the number largely, and to give to each rural dean a 
group of about a dozen benefices, making him rather 
the agent of the bishop for the guidance and en- 
couragement of diocesan work, than the mere mer- 
cenary deputy of the archdeacons as in older times. 
Bishop Bowstead consolidated the order by drawing 
up rules for it, and Bishop Lonsdale gave it steady life. 


The long and wise episcopate of John Lonsdale > 
(1843-1867) deepened Ryder's work, and added to 
it. Lonsdale was eminently a man of business ; his 
correspondence alone was marvellous, and he had 
the valuable faculty of encouraging good workers, 
and of winning the love and attachment of his clergy. 
"There is difference of opinion among us," said 
Lord Dartmouth, at the Wolverhampton Congress in 
1867, "but there is no difference in our feeling 
towards the bishop." Without a successor like him, 
Ryder's work might have been lost; under him it 
grew, and developed new features. The Training- 
College at Lichfield was moved to Saltley, when 
other dioceses were willing to join the work begun 
here. A college for mistresses was opened at Derby. 
Canon Hutchinson was encouraged in his novel but 
grand idea of a Diocesan Choral Association with 
magnificent triennial festivals in the cathedral. Pre- 
bendary Edwards, and Rev. E. T. Codd, Cotes Heath, 

' The previous career of Lonsdale was well told by his 
friend Archdeacon Moore in 1867, a fortnight after the good 
bishop's death : — "He was indeed no common man. From his 
earliest years he had been a diligent and successful student. At 
Eton he was one of the most distinguished of her sons ; and 
those who at some distance followed him at Cambridge can well 
remember how the fame of his two Latin odes, especially that 
on the death of William Pitt, was still living ; and how vivid 
was the recollection of his great and successful struggle with 
Rennell for the University scholarship, during the examination 
for which he produced those Latin alcaics, as a translation of 
part of a chorus in the 'Hecuba,' which are still presei-ved, 
and still continue to be admired as amongst the most perfect of 
modem Latin verses ; and, as some think, not vmworthy to 
stand beside those of ancient times. An eminent scholar he 


in 1852, mooted the foundation of a theological college 
at Lichfield. Though fiercely opposed, the founda- 
tion was effected in 1857. Under its first principal, 
Canon Curteis, the college became a great institution, 
and in its first twenty-five years trained no less than 
420 clergymen. Under Lonsdale, too, Mr. Erskine 
Clarke, vicar of St. Michael's, Derby, launched the 
first Parish Magazine. But the most notable feature 
of this episcopate was not only ^that more than 150 
churches were built, but that order, beauty, and good 
architecture characterised the work in countless resto- 
rations. William Coldwell, of St. Mary's, Stafford, 
led the way by the restoration of that weather-beaten 
minster under young Gilbert Scott ; Wolverhampton, 
St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, and countless others followed, 
and the cathedral itself was restored between 1854 
and 1 86 1. Writing in 1866, Archdeacon Moore said 
there was scarcely then a dilapidated church in 

certainly was ; perfect in Latin, thoroughly sound in Greek. 

For some time he was a student of the law As assistant 

preacher at the Temple, he soon obtained from that learned 
body the character of an able expositor and practical teacher of 
Scriptural truth : a character which was more than confirmed 
when, in after years, he became the preacher at Lincoln's Inn. 
.... He was chaplain to two successive archbishops ; he 
held at different times two country livings ; he was rector of the 
large parish of St. George's, Bloomsbury, which, however, he 
soon gave up ; he was precentor of Lichfield Cathedral, which, 
through Archbishop Howley, he exchanged for a stall in 
St. Paul's ; he was Principal of King's College, London ; had 
been a Fellow, and for a brief space Provost of Eton. He had 
just accepted the archdeaconry of Middlesex, when, in 1843, he 
became bishop of Lichfield." 


Under Lonsdale, too, appeared the first promise of 
much other good work which has since been devel- 
oped — notably the mission movement, which was then 
begun here by ISIr. Twigg, of St. James's, Wednesbury, 
under whom the Rev. George Body was trained. In 
the Diocesan Calendar^ which was established by 
Prebendary Edwards in 1856, Diocesan Synods were 
mooted \ and with his latest breath the great and good 
old bishop advocated Denstone College. ^ 

He was buried at Eccleshall. The alabaster effigy 
in the cathedral shows the massive character of his 
manly features. But his inimitable look, keen and 
yet playful, the venerable white head and expressive 
under lip, the high-keyed voice of pleasant changeful 
intonation, the gentleness, strong sense and keen wit 
of "good Bishop Lonsdale," will be cherished lovingly 
till the generation which knew him die out. " His 
works do follow him." 

As years pass on, the memory of Bishop Lonsdale 
seems to become brighter. It is far from being 
eclipsed even by the noble episcopate of Bishop 
Selwyn ; and yet, undoubtedly, George Augustus 
Selwvn (1867-1878) was one of the greatest bishops 
who ruled at Lichfield. Scarcely inferior to Lons- 
dale in scholarship, he brought with him an experience 

' Bishop Lonsdale's last ordination was held at St. Mary's, 
Stafiford. At Stafford he attended a stormy meeting about 
Denstone College on the last afternoon of his life. On reaching 
Eccleshall Castle after it, " he sat down to his always frugal 
meal, ate a little, and complained that he felt some unusual 
sensations, walked from the table to his chair by the fireside, 
sat quietly down, bowed his head, and died." 


of episcopal work which dated back two years before 
Lonsdale was consecrated, and a constitution trained 
to severe exertion by many a wonderful journey over 
sea and land. Many now living, of course, remember 
the marvellous force with which he spoke, and the 
ceaseless activity of his work in the first few months 
of his episcopate. There was a freshness about him 
then which smacked of the salt sea, and an ardour 
which seemed as if the warmth of southern suns still 
glowed in his veins. His bearing, as he entered the 
cathedral at his installation in 1868, made a great 
impression upon the handful of clergy present, 
an impression which deepened into loving awe and 
reverence on closer contact with him as he went 
through his diocese. His voice in the pulpit was like 
a great organ, rising into tremendous power as his 
earnestness kindled with his theme. Young men, as 
they sat by him at dinner, listening to the solemn 
words about God's work which fell from his lips in 
unwearied flow, were quickened to resolve greater 
earnestness in their own lives. 

The powers which, under God, had been success- 
ful in New Zealand, in the organisation of the Church 
of those islands, and the formation of daughter 
bishoprics, were here devoted to a revival of the 
CORPORATE LIFE of the diocese. The diocese was 
Selwyn's empire ; whilst thoroughly loyal to the 
Church, he would have it complete in itself. The 
cathedral was to be its centre. So he sold the 
palace of Eccleshall and came to live in the palace 
at Lichfield. The residentiary canons were sum- 
moned from the four quarters of the country, and 


are now, under Bishop Maclagan, all but one, resi- 
dent in the Close. The huge archdeaconry of Stafford 
was divided on the death of Archdeacon Moore in 
1877, and Canon lies and Sir Lovelace Stamer, two 
thoroughly successful parish clergymen, were appointed 
over Stafford and Stoke respectively. The clergy of 
the diocese were visited by the bishop in their isola- 
tion, and confirmations were brought into every parish. 
The last arrangement involved so large a tale of 
episcopal work, that Bishops Abraham and Hob- 
house were associated with the bishop as coadju- 
tors. In this, the Mediaeval spirit which mingled 
strongly with Selwyn's nineteenth century wisdom, dis- 
played itself Bishop Abraham was endowed by the 
virtual appropriation of Tatenhill Rectory on its sever- 
ance from the deanery at Dean Champneys' death in 
1875. The archdeacon of Stoke of course retained 
his rectory of Stoke ; Bishop Hobhouse became 
chancellor of the diocese ; and the principal of the 
Theological College was made a residentiary canon. 

But the bishop's greatest work was done for the 
clergy in the organisation of conferences, carried out 
almost at the expense of his life, and in the face of 
great opposition. Selwyn, too, gave countenance 
and development to other ideas which had been 
suggested in Lonsdale's time. The triennial choral 
gathering in the cathedral was so greatly successful, 
that similar festivals were made to alternate with it 
in the vacant two years. One of these was a 
*' Diocesan Home Mission Festival," in which the 
work of Church Defence Societies, Sunday Schools, 
and District Visiting, was recognised ; and the other, 


a " Diocesan Foreign Mission Festival," when emi- 
nent missionaries were brought face to face in the 
cathedral, or palace-garden, with the Church folk of 
the diocese. The hearty services and long proces- 
sions of clergy and choristers, and the friendly 
gatherings of these great days, did much for diocesan 
life. And in 1875, a '* Diocesan Temperance 
Society," and in 1876 a " Diocesan Sunday," were 
mooted. The former has now 30,000 members. The 
object of the latter was to appropriate a Sunday for 
general collections towards supplying the newly 
complete government of the diocese with funds. 
The first of these '' Sundays " was held in Selwyn's 
last year, and the result of its collections was 
^2,278. OS. 7d. 

Other features of Selwyn's episcopate, besides his 
strong and characteristic passion for foreign missions, 
were his establishment of the " probationer system," 
by which, through four half-yearly examinations and 
a year at Lichfield, young men of high character may 
attain to Holy Orders ; his granting licenses to lay- 
preachers ; his fondness for temperance work and 
for every agency which promoted the good of working 
men; his eagerness in visiting workhouses, prisons, 
and asylums : and his solemn sermons on coalpit 
banks and canal wharves. His last effort, that, 
namely, to provide a chapel-barge and an itinerant 
chaplain for mission work among the canal popu- 
lation, showed that the heart of the great sea mis- 
sionary was still true, both to its love for souls and 
its passion for the tiller. As he sat fainting in 
the vestry of St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, after his last 

u 2 


confirmation, he compared the effort which the work 
of that day had cost him to " holding on a ship in 
a storm." 

These are but some of the works on which Selwyn 
spent his powers, and which brought him to a too 
early grave. What Ryder planned and died over, 
and Lonsdale consolidated with almost more than 
human strength, Selwyn touched with new life. Ryder 
built churches, Lonsdale filled them, Selwyn united 
them. He had the power of stirring the diocese and 
concentrating its interest, and he used that power 
to the full, but it cost him life. 

Perhaps Selwyn's influence was never more clearly 
seen than on two occasions: — when, in concluding the 
Stoke Congress of 1875, he drew the mighty audience 
to its feet by his recital of the Ter Sanctus ; and again, 
when five hundred surpliced clergy, the present prime 
minister, Mr. Gladstone, the present lord chancellor, 
and thousands of others, assembled to see his body 
laid in the rock on which Lichfield Minster stands. 

The marble effigy of Selwyn in the Lady Chapel 
wall is considered a faithful likeness. It shows well 
the cast of his features ; but the commanding figure 
of the man, the way he stood, his immense range of 
bronzed forehead, the native blackness of his hair, 
his weather-beaten look, his strong hands and great 
depth of chest, lent a tinge of romance to the other- 
wise polished and handsome person of the great 
missionary bishop, which can neither, as a whole, 
be imitated in marble, nor ever forgotten. 

In taking leave of the diocese, we may glance at 
the results attained in providing seats for public 

WORK DONE SINCE 1819. 293 

worship, which will, to some extent, show the vitality 
of the Church herself during the last fifty years. At 
first sight those results are disappointing. 

In 1 80 1 there was church-room in the diocese for 
about one-fourth of the population. In 1831, owing 
to the enormous influx of operatives to our mining 
and manufacturing districts, the proportion fell to 
one-fifth; but, by 1846, it rose to one-third. In 
1836 the diocese was lessened by the excision of the 
archdeaconry of Coventry, and in 1846 by that of 
Bridgenorth Deanery. But, by 1851, its population 
in the lesser area had become nearly as large in 
numbers as had been that of the greater area ; yet 
the proportion of sittings remained more than one- 
fourth. In 1 88 1 the population had grown by half, 
whilst the proportion of sittings declined to less than 
a fourth. No argument could be stronger than this 
decline for the further sub-division of the diocese. 
A million and a half of souls are too great a charge 
for oversight by a single bishop. 

It will thus be seen that the position of the Church, 
with regard to the provision of public worship for the 
people, has been brought back to what it was when 
the century opened, and before the extraordinary 
development of towns in its first fifty years. In 
other words, the clergy of the last generation did 
their duty nobly in keeping pace with the growth of 
population, but they could not and did not regain 
what those of the eighteenth century lost. 

The average number of churches consecrated in 
Lichfield diocese per bishop per year since 1819 has 
been about as follows : — Cornwallis, 2 ; Ryder, 4 ; 


Butler, 9 ; Bowstead, ii ; Lonsdale, 6| ; Selwyn, 5^ ; 
Maclagan, 4^. The energy of Churchmen, never 
perhaps greater than it is at present, is thus passing 
into some new channel — that, perhaps, of extending 
mission chapels, which are now spreading in every 

Yet the actual tale of work accomplished is enor- 
mous. "Between 1831 and 1861," said Archdeacon 
Moore twenty years ago, "whilst the population did 
not quite double itself, the churches, the sittings, 
and the clergy, increased threefold." The poor 
have been rescued from the miseries of exclusion 
from public worship. Ryder's Church-Extension 
Society has encouraged the building of 180 perma- 
nent new churches, and 61 temporary ones, and the 
enlargement of 263 others, thus gaining 138,419 
seats, of which no less than 98,814 are free. Vast, 
therefore, as has been the expense to which Church- 
men had put themselves in church-building — and 
they spent ^^i, 177, 584, in lump sums of over ;^5oo 
each, between 1840 and 1876 — the provision for the 
poor has been still more marvellous. Instead of 
having only one-fourth of the accommodation, as in 
1832, they have now two-thirds. 

The increase in the various counties may be thus 
stated: — in Derbyshire we have in 1882 about 
110,000 sittings, of which 70,000 are free, instead of 
the 12,000 of 1835; and the clergy have increased 
from 135, their number in 1825, to 322. In Salop, 
the sittings were, including Bridgenorth Deanery, 
37,134; they are now over 50,000 without Bridge- 
north, 32,000 being free; whilst the clergy have risen 


from 80 in the larger area to 163 in the smaller. In 
Staffordshire the sittings are now about 190,000, of 
which the free seats are 120,000, instead of 27,000 
as in 1825, with 488 churches. 

The 320,000 sittings of Ryder's time may be very 
fairly estimated as having grown into 750,000 at the 
present day, over the whole of the area of his diocese. 

The bishop of Lichfield estimates the present defi- 
ciency as representing 40 churches and 75 mission 
chapels among a million and a half of people. 

But these figures do not represent the total growth 
of the Church. That must be looked for not only 
in the vast network of schools, but also in revived 
beauty of churches, frequency and heartiness of 
the services, and in the various agencies for good 
which now circle round a parish parson, and make 
glad the old waste places. Where, in the begin- 
ning of the century, there was one service a day, 
and where the worshippers divided their interest be- 
tween the curate's sermon and disorderly struggles 
outside the church, there are now schools and par- 
sonages, and peaceful Sundays, and double if not 
treble the number of services in the week. 

The diocese now awaits a new departure, which 
seems to be promised in the episcopate of William 
Dalrymple Maclagan (1878). Men are longing 
for revived spiritual life, and looking to the Church, 
under God, for it. Already the appointment of a 
"Diocesan missioner " and a system of visitation which 
brought the Bishop at once face to face with every 
individual clergyman have struck the key-note of the 
future. We trust it may be no idle dream that, 


when Dean Bickersteth completes his noble restora- 
tion of the west end of the cathedral, the bishop may 
be able to rally clergy and laity alike to a mighty 
effort of united prayer for a glorious outpouring of 
the Holy Ghost. The altars are rebuilt, and de- 
voted ministers stand beside them. May God send 
them a new Pentecostal gift of living fire which 
shall enable the Church of England to do in future 
for the toiling millions of the Midlands what she did 
for the scattered squatters of Mercia. 



Heyworth's Statutes make it clear that the Use of Sarum 
was followed at Lichfield in 1428. See Wilkins' Concilia, III. 
505. The Diocese had its own office for St. Chad's Day, 
March 2nd. Maskell's Ancient Liturgy, 3rd edition, LXX. 


Abbot, Bishop, 229 
Addison, Joseph, 252 
Adultery, 32, 137, 255 
Anchorite, 156, 162, 168 
Appropriation, 47, 126, 141, 


Arbor Low, 2 

Archbishopric of Lichfield, 34, 


Archbishop : Higbert, 36 ; 

Aldulf, 37 
Archbishop of Canterbury : 
Theodore, 20, 26 ; Hubert, 
83; Langton, 85, 104; Peck- 
ham, 118 ; Sheldon, 234 
Archdeacons, 77 : Stafford, 72, 
loi, 120, 167, 180, 274; 
Chester, 115 ; Coventry, 57, 
97, 116; Derby, 119; Salop, 
147 ; Stoke, 290 
Ardmore, Suff. Bp. , 76 
Ashburne, 73, no, 275 
Augmentations, 242, 251 
Austin canons, 52, 58, 108 

Batne, Bishop, 217, 218, 219 
Bakewell, 81, 270 
Bangor Iscoed, 9 
Battlefield, 161 
Bentham, Bishop, 221 
Bible, 186 

Birkenhead, Prior of, 109 
Birmingham, 140, 271 
Bishopric robbed, 208 

Bishops, suffragan, 76, 115, 

143, 178; co-adjutor, 119, 

Black death, 143 
Blesensis, Petrus, 76 
Blythe, Bishop, 176, 267 
Boleyn, Anne, 184 
Booth, Bishop, 165 
BoscoBEL, 243 
BowsTEAD, Bishop, 283 
Boy of Bilston, 233 
Bradbourne, 57 
Brewood, 91, 105, 117 
Brick, use of, 173 
Bridgenorth, 91, 122, 284 
Bridges, 106, 169, 2H 
Brook, Lord, shot, 237 
BuRGHiLL, Bishop, 156 
Burton Abbey, 47, 103, 109, 

124, 200, 210 ; Chronicle of, 

Butler, or Bolars, Bishop, 

166, 283 

Cannock, 65, 119, 173, 174 

Castles : Castleton, 54, 8l ; 
Stafford, 54 ; Tutbury, 54, 
149 ; Maxstoke, 168 {see 

Cathedral : founded by Hed- 
DA, 34 ; organised by Ethel- 
WALD, 38 ; clergy itinerate, 
24, 46 ; canons, 38 ; preben- 



daries, 50, 64 ; rebuilt, 64, 
88 ; poverty of, 50 ; fortified, 
64 ; statutes, 89 ; services, 
89, 90, 112, 269; endovi^- 
ments, 79, 81 ; furniture, 
144; aspect of, in Middle 
Ages, 188 ; three spires, 143; 
Ladye chapel, 132 ; re- 
opened, 247; Wyatt's alte- 
rations, 269 [see Coventry ; 
see Chester) 

Cathedrals, struggle between, 
69, 78, 112 

Chad, St. : 20-27 ; bones of, 
26, 144 ; Gospels of, 146 ; 
shrine of, 26, 132, 144 ; 
pennies, 133 

Chandler, Bishop, 261 

Chantries, loo, 168, 176 

Chester, Roman, 3 ; battle of, 
II; city of, 40; cathedral 
of St. John, 52 ; bishop at, 
52,80; friars, 97, 98; abbey 
ravaged, 109, 122 ; 141 ; see 
of, 209; earls of, 51, 53; 
anchorite at, 156; nunnery 
at, 169 

Chesterfield, 55, 120; Thomas 
of, 147, 148 

Church extension, 279 

Church of England, how much 
older than State, 39 

Cistercians : Buildwas, 65, 66 ; 
Croxden, 66 ; Dieulacres, 
57 ; White ladies, 66 ; Che- 
shire, 66 

Civil wars, 172, 237 

Clergy deprived, 239 

Clinton, Bishop, 63-68 

Cloose, Bishop, 166 

Colleges, 157, 174 

Collei^iate churches : Saxon, 
44, 80, 125, 128, 160 

Confirmation, Ryder's, 282 

Cornhill, Bishop, 86 

CoRNWALLls, Bishop, 267 

Councils and Synods, 26, 27, 
28, 32, 33.36,37,40,52,113 

Coventry : abbey founded, 48 ; 
bishop moves to, 53 ; 67, 79, 
80; monks turned out, 79; 
restored, 82, 112; grows, 
106; monks of, 112; events 
at, 164, 193; ruins of, 194; 
friars, 202 ; disloyal, 239 ; 
archdeaconry sundered, 283 

Dale Abbey, 71 

Danes, 40-44 

Darley Abbey, 59, 159 

Darwinism, 272 

Deans of Lichfield, Addison, 
252 ; Bincks, 257 ; Colling- 
wood, 177; Dalham, 83; 
Denton, 181 ; Ueyvvode, 
173; Manchester, 92; 
Newell, 222 ; Tooker, 230 ; 
Yotton, 173; Wood, 250; 
rural, 123, 167, 285 

Deism, 260 

Derby, 44, 58, 71, 73, 77, 98, 
118, 258 

Destitution, spiritual, 278 

Diocese : boundaries of, i, 20 ; 
endowed, 24 ; Salop added, 
34 ; divided, 28 ; Chester 
abstracted, 209 ; Coventry 
and Bridgenorth abstracted, 

Dioceses, daughter, i, 209 

Diocesan synods, 128, 170, 179 

Dissent, decline of, 249 

Dublin, 75, loi 

DuRDENT, Bishop, 69, 72 

Dyott, Dumb, 237 

Early inhabitants, 2 
Eccleshall, 131, 171, 172, 210, 

237, 247, 255, 268, 276, 289 
Election of bishops, 68, 84, 92, 

107, 112, 115, 134, 148 



Endowments, 24, 33, 44, 46, 
48, 51. 55. 58, 64, 71, 75, 
8t, 103, 160, 164, 197, 209, 
224, 240, 251, 273, 285 

Ethelfleda, 42 

Examination for orders, 135 

Exchange of benefices, 167, 185 

Excommunication, 169 

Families, rise of, 108 

Free churches, 67, 79, 87, 

114, 118, 158, 270, 284 
Frewen, Bishop, 245 
Friars, 96, 126, 171, 202 

Cell, Sir J., 237 
Glass, stained, 270 
Gnosall, 43, 67, 171 
Grace, John, 154 
Grammar schools, 223 
Grossteste, Bishop, 100 
Guthlac, St., 30 

Hacket, Bishop, 245 
Hales, Bishop, 172, 189 
Hales, Alex, of, 97 
Hanbury Monastery, 30 ; de- 
stroyed, 42, 47 
Haughmond Abbey, 59, 170 
Head of the Church, 182 
Hermitages, 65, 162 
Hkyworth, Bishop, 157 
Hobbes, 260 
Hospitals, 73 
Hough, Bishop, 255 
HuRD, Bishop, 268 

iMAGE-making, 153 
Indulgences, 168 
Ingestre, 207, 252 

Kings : {see Mercia) Wil- 
liam I,, 50; John, 81, 84, 
91 ; Richard I., 80, 82, 87 ; 
Richard H., 156; Edward 
I., HI., 145 ; Edward H., 

128; Henry HI., 1 12, 113; 

Henry VHI., 181, 182, 192; 

James I., 230; H,, 256; 

William HI., 252 
Knights : of St. John, 66 ; 

Templars, 66, 108, 128 
Knights of the Garter, 142 

Langton, Bishop, 127 

Lapley, 47, 161 

Lee, Bishop, 184 

Leofric, Earl, 48 

Lichfield : British, 7 ; le- 
gend of, 7, nofe ; dead at, 1 1 ; 
first bishop of, 20 ; diocese 
of, 20 ; cathedral founded, 
34 ; archbishop, 35 ; Nor- 
mans at, 50 ; fortified, 63 ; 
St. John's, 64, 174; king 
at, 91 ; made a county, 209 ; 
seized, 237 ; poets in, 272 
{see Deans of, 298) ; Lichfield 
House, 120 ; churchyard of 
close, 176 ; Hastiludes at, 
142 ; palace of, 132, 166, 
246, 250, 289 

Lightfoot, John, 234 

Lilleshall Abbey, 42, 59, 72 

Liverpool, 159 

Livings bought and sold, 71, 
180, 185 

Llewellyn, Prince, in 

Lloyd, Bishop, 253 

Lollards, 149, 169, 177 

Lonsdale, Bishop, 287 

Lymesey, Robert De, Bishop, 
S3, 57 ; daughter of, 57 

Maclagan, Bishop, 295 
Manchester, 159, 180, 197, 

225, 259 
Manor-houses, 168 
Marchers, lords, 175 
Markets, 105 
Marriage, 214 
Married bishops and clergy, 57 



Martyrs, 214 

Mercia, kings of : Penda, 13 ; 
Oswiu, 14; Peada, 16 {see 
Wulfhere) ; Ethelbald, 32 ; 
Kenred, 29 ; legend of, 29 ; 
Ceolred, 32; Offa, 34; Ken- 
wulf, 38 ; Bertulf, 40 

Mercia, bishops of : Diuma, 
16 ; CeoUach, 17 ; Trum- 
here, 17 ; Jaruman, 18 

Mercia : founded, 13 ; Pagan, 
13; extent of, 16; conver- 
sion of, 14; church of, 14-20 

Methodists, 262, 275 

MOLEND, JBishop, 117 

Monasteries : Saxon, 16, 46 ; 
rise of Norman, 58, 67 ; 
poverty, 155 ; decline of, 
157, 191 ; debts of, 193; 
destruction of, 197; sales of, 
204 ; in Staffordshire, 1 09 
(see Visitations and Appro- 

Monks : old and new, 46; Nor- 
naan, 56 ; orders of, 58 ; aims 
of, 56, 58, 66, 67 ; farm and 
trade, 95, 105, 191 ; bad, 

140, 158, 170, 187; igno- 
rant, 140, 180; poor, 155; 
turned out of Coventry, 78 ; 
restored, 83 ; turned out of 
Lichfield, 174 ; influence on 
parishes, 95, 106, 118, 1 26, 

141, 159 ; Coventry, monks 
of, 78, 104, 112; contribute 
to king's need, 109 

Morton, Bishop, 233, 241 
MuscHAMP, Geoffry de, 84 

Neill, Bishop, 230 
Nepotism, 267 
Nonconformists, 244 
NoRBURY, Bishop, 134 
North, Bishop, 268 
NuNANT, Bishop, 53, 78 

Ordericus Vitalis, the 
Shrewsbury Monk, 56, 60 

Ordinations, 129, 131, 135, 
178, 297 

Overall, Bishop, 231 

Overton, Bishop, 229 

Pagets enriched at Church's 
cost, 209 

Palace, the [see Lichfield) 

Papists : rise of, 226 ; their 
wonders, 233 ; their num- 
bers, 251 

Parochial system, 44 

Parsonages, 281 

Passulano, 113 

Patteshull, Bishop, no, 


Pec HE, Robert, 57 ; and 

Richard, 57, 74 
Penitentiary, 138 
Penkridge, 43, 67, 12$ 
Peter, 51, 56 
Plague, 146, 248 
Population, 278 
Processions, 121 
PuELLA, Bishop, 76 
Purgation, 171 
Puritans, 230, 23 

Quakers, 241, 255 

Ranton Priory, 57, 59, 139, 

Reformation, 151 
Repton: town, 15 ; monastery, 

30. 33> 40, 47 ; destroyed, 

41 ; persons buried there, 

42 ; priory, 1 74 ; school, 223 
Restoration, the, 244 
Retirement of clergy, 167, 176 
Rocester Priory, 59, 136, 139 
Romans at Haddon , 3 ; Glossop, 

3 ; Shropshire, 3 ; Darley 

Dale, 8 (see Papists) 
Roman cemetery, 6 
Roman exactions, 125, 149 



Roman towns, 4;Uriconium, 5 
Royal free chapels, 43, 208 
Ryder, Bishop, 277 

Sacheverell, Dr., 257 
Sampson, Bishop, 208, 218 
Sanctuary, 123 
Sandwell, 65 
Saunders, Lawrence, 215 
Saxon : churches, 45 ; bishops, 
49 ; forts, 12, 13 ; monks, 46 
SCROPE, Bishop, 156 
Selwyn, Bishop, 28, 49, 288 
Seward, Canon, 270 
Sexwulf, Bishop, 28 
Shrewsbury : origin of, 8 ; 
abbey of, 60 ; royal chapels 
at, 43, 59, 67, 80 ; school 
of, 60, 223, 277 ; friary at, 
204 ; bishop of, 200, 202 ; 
riots at, 258 ; bishopric of, 
200 ; gaol, 122 
Simon the Sage, 75 
Skirlaw, Bishop, 148, 156 
Smallbroke, Bishop, 261 
Smythe, Bishop, 174, 177 
Spalatro, Archbishop of, 235 
Stafford : 31, 12 ; college of, 
44, 50, 118, 128, 209, 224; 
St. Chad's at, 68, 123 ; priory 
at, 74, 108, 191, 192 ; hos- 
pitals at, 73 ; gaol at, 122 ; 
friary at, 204 
Staffordshire, woods of, 51 
St a yen BY, Bishop, 92; friars, 

96, 125 
Stoke: on-Trent, 155; on- 

Teme, 239 
Stone : 28 ; legend of, 21, 42 ; 
college of, 43 ; priory of, 
59, 72; market, 109; epis- 
copal prior, 174, 271 
Stretton, Bishop, 155, 715 
Suffragan bishops, 76, 174, 
178, 179, 186 

Sunday sports, 225 
Synods, 179 {see Councils) 

Tamworth, 40, 143, 159 
Tatenhill, 255, 290 
Templars [see Knights) 
Test Acts, 257 
Thorpe, W., 150 
Tonge, 161 
Tory riots, 257 
Translation, 179 
Trentham, 30, 42 ; priory, 59 
Twigg, R.. 2S8 

Uttoxeter, 141, 142 

Vestries robbed, 212 
Visitations, 114, 130, 139, 158, 
169, 295 

Walks, Presidents of, 175, 184, 

Walsall, 155, 255, 266 
Walton, Izaak, 241 
Wenlock, 59, 200 
Werburga, St., 30 
Weseham, Bishop, 113 
Wesley, 263 
Wesleyans, 264, 265 
Whalley, 57 
Whig riots, 257 
White ladies, 138 
Widows, veiled, 169 
Wightman burnt, 231 
Wilfrid of York, 20, 34 
WiNFRiD, Bishop, 26, 27 
Wolverhampton {see Collegiate 

and free churches), 242, 284, 

Wood, Bishop, 250 
Woods, 124 
Working class, 27 1 
Wright, Bishop, 235 
WuLFHERE, King, 21, 24, 27 






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