Page images

responsible, were among the most important officers of the church. They were to live together in common1, but there was the usual tendency in the direction of living separately, which had to be checked again and again.2 Leland speaks of the vicars' houses in a "fair quadrant of square stone "3; this quadrangle was called their College, or the New Bedern, whence "Bedern Bank," but no traces of the building remain. At Lincoln the vicars still reside in a “fair quadrant," called the Vicars' Court, and there are similar provisions for the vicars at Wells and elsewhere. A brief summary of the duties of the vicars, as well as of the other officers of the church, may be found in M.R., iii, Preface, pp. xiv, xv, xvii.

Something may now be said of the duties of the ministri or inferior officers of the church. The six vicars in Ripon have just been mentioned. One of them was on special duty each week. The three deacons in turn acted as deacons at high mass, singing the Gospel, in which duty was included the singing of the genealogies at Christmas and Epiphany4, taking their parts in the Gospels in Holy Week and reading the "Collation5." Collation." The sub-deacons sang the Epistle, and acted as sub-deacons at mass. Three readers read the three lessons from Isaiah on Christmas Day. Of the six choristers, two only appear to have been on duty in each week, a sufficient number for the kind of music then used. Of the three thuriblers and three patenars, one seems to have been on duty at a time. The patenarius' had certain duties at high mass, the thuribler attended to the incense, and there was a sub-thuribler, who probably carried the incense boat. The ministri helped at the Easter Communion of all the parishioners by administering the unconsecrated wine after the sacrament in one kind, holding the houselling cloths, keeping the doors, and so on. They most of them would perform in the miracle plays.8

Then we find regular payments to the schoolmaster, to the minstrels, to the man that carried the dragon in the Rogation processions, to the shrine-bearers, to the archbishop's park keeper for palms and ivy for Palm Sunday, to the chapter-clerk for writing out rolls, and to an auditor of accounts.9

The sacristan cleaned the church, including floors, walls, windows, gutters, etc., attended to a bell called the klank knoll, and to the clock, and to the setting up and taking down of St. Wilfrid's tent in

1 M.R., ii, 46, 60, 178.

2 M.R., i, 123-129, ii, 178.

3 Itin., in M.R., i, 85.

4 M.R., iii, 232.

5 M.R., iii, 274.

6 M.R., iii, 232.

M.R., iii, 232n.

8 M.R., iii, 235, 240.

9 Chamberlains' Rolls, in M.R., iii, 224,


Rogation tide.1 The Margler or sexton rang the curfew, and helped the clerks of the vestry in the washing of the relics. The vestry clerks cleaned the choir, made wafer-bread, and from the old palms made ashes to be used on the following Ash Wednesday. Certain clerks went to York for the holy oils, helped to take down the paschal candle, and filled the font twice in the year. The first payment for playing on the organs is in 14473, after which it occurs regularly, but there were organs, the bellows of which were then mended, in 1399.4 The chapter had their own plumber and glazier, and other artificers referred to in the Rolls.

Such, then, was the medieval constitution of the church, and it continued up to the time of the dissolution, when all was swept away. In the first year of Edward VI, the chantries went as a matter of course, and as collegiate churches were included in the Act, the fact of Ripon Minster being collegiate proved to be a deplorable calamity at that time. That it was also parochial did not save it, and while other parishes retained their endowments, Ripon was left wholly destitute. All its possessions were annexed to the Duchy of Lancaster, and leased out to various persons.5 We do not know how the parish was worked during the unhappy times of Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth. The old vicars appear to have continued in office into Elizabeth's time, and as late as 1567 to 1580 we find repeated proceedings against them promoted by the Archbishop of York and the Court of High Commission, for their reluctance to comply with the new regulations for public worship. In October, 1567, five of them were accused of refusing to read or cause to be read the lessons in the body of the church, and likewise the Epistle and Gospel and the Homilies. They were accused also of not communicating together when the communion was ministered, and of conveying forth out of the church by night all the images and other "trumpery," and bestowing them it was not known where. It was said that they suffered the stones and rubbish of the altars to remain in divers closets in the church, and that they did never after any homily or divine service exhort the people to remember the poor. Furthermore, it was alleged that there were in a vault of the said church reserved vj great tables of "alablaster" full of images, and xlix books, some antiphoners, and such books as were condemned by public authority. What would we not give to have those forty-nine books now? Perhaps one of

M.R, iii, 99n, 11on, 120, 133.

2 M.R., iii, 209.


* M.R., iii, 239.

4M.R., iii, 132.

M.R., iii, 33, etc., 331, etc.
M.R., iii, 344, etc.

them still exists, namely the " Ripon Psalter," which was presented by the late Marquis of Ripon to the Chapter Library. And it may have been preserved for the sake of the genealogical notes that had been added to its calendar. In the following February2 the courts decreed that St. Wilfrid's Needle was to be stopped up, and that an altar standing in a little chapel in the vault where the said. needle was should be taken down and defaced, and Sir Thomas Blackburne, the vicar, was to do public penance, and read a declaration from the pulpit describing himself as a most blind guide of an old and superstitious custom, in drawing people from the choir to the Ladyloft for the rites formerly practised, and he was to renounce his said evil and superstitious dealings, being penitent for the same, and was to confess that he, unto whom the charge of the fabric was committed, had suffered that old, abhominable, and superstitious vault called the Wilfrid's Needle, and the altar therein, and certain other altars, to remain undefaced, undestroyed, and untaken away. He had a day on which to certify of the performance of this penance, but we do not know whether it ever came off or not, or what became of Sir Thomas Blackburne, at last. But in March, 15713, he was proceeded against for hearing mass in the Rebellion time, that was, during the rising in the North in 1569, and taking part in other papistical service. It is interesting to note that a portion of one of the alabaster tables or sculptures that Blackburne tried to preserve still exists in the Minster, as do the foundations of the altars in the crypt and in the south-eastern chapel.

John Jackson, the parish clerk in 1567, was then in trouble for still making bread for the Holy Communion with the picture of the Crucifix and other pictures upon the same, contrary to the Queen's Majesty's injunctions. And here we note that the waferbread was not objected to, only making it with pictures upon it. John Jackson also used many times to scoff and scorn at the Queen's proceedings.4

A few years later, namely in 15805, William Sewall, of Ripon, clerk, was proceeded against for refusing to sign children at baptism with the sign of the cross, but he denied the accusation. What were the simple folk of Ripon to think, with spiritual guides holding such widely diverging views? One of the old vicars was accused of notorious incontinency, and John Birkbie, rector of More

1 Chapter Acts, 382; M.R., i, 26-30. The local portion was reprinted, with a translation, etc., by Mr. John Whitham, and published by Mr. W. Harrison of Ripon in 1893, 4to, pp. 10 and 36.

2 M.R., iii, 346.
3 M. R., iii, 348.
4 M.R., iii, 346.
M.R., i, 349.

Monkton and chaplain of Lord Latimer, was said to be of very dissolute life and lewd conversation, and to wear great bumbasted breeches cut and drawn out with sarcenet and taffety, and great ruffs with laces of gold and silk. And of late he said Divine Service in the Minster in his coat, without gown or cloke, with a long sword by his side. He was also vehemently suspected to be a notable fornicator, and had been taken abroad in the town by the Wakeman with lewd women, and he used to dance very offensively at ale houses and marriages. But he denied it all.1 Anyhow, it would seem that one way or other, during the reign of Elizabeth, the church. in Ripon, as elsewhere, was in very evil case. And this state of things continued until the time of James I, under whom the chapter was reconstituted, and re-endowed to a great extent out of the old endowments. It now consisted of a dean, sub-dean, and six prebendaries, with two vicars choral, organist, parish clerk, six lay-clerks, six choristers, and a verger.3

The chapter was again remodelled when the collegiate church rose to cathedral rank by the formation of the new bishopric in 1836. The dean and prebendaries were thenceforth to be styled dean and canons, the latter to be eventually reduced in number by suspension of vacant canonries, from six to four, and the sub-deanery was to be suspended at the next avoidance. As in other cathedrals of the New Foundation, twenty-four honorary canons were added about 1860. The two vicars were continued under the name of minor canons, and the rest of the officers remained as before.4 Such is the constitution of the church at the present time, though the chapter have augmented the staff by providing for a succentor and a choir-chaplain.

We have now touched on various phases in the history of the church of Ripon during about 1,250 years. I hope I have not detained you too long. I would gladly have made this paper much shorter or much longer, but I could hardly make it shorter without omitting matters of great interest and importance, as it seemed to me, nor could I have made it longer without wearying my hearers.

P.S.-It should have been mentioned above that the temporary offices of Keeper of the Fabric, Treasurer, Subtreasurer, and Chamberlain, were usually held by chaplains.

1 M.R., ii, 345.

2 M.R., ii, 257, 258.

3 M.R., ii, 259-325, 354.

4 M.R., ii, 325, 326,



ATHELSTAN, who had succeeded his father in 925, had obtained such a reputation for wisdom and valour, that Sigtrigg, King of Northumbria, had sought his alliance, and was given in marriage a sister of the English monarch. He died in 927. Athelstan, seizing the opportunity, immediately annexed Northumbria to his domains. Sigtrigg had left two sons, Olaf Cuaran, or "the Sandaled," and Guthrod. Immediately after the death of their father, both hastened to enforce their claims. But they were unable to succeed, and Olaf fled to Ireland, after having held his own for just six months. Guthrod surrendered to Athelstan, and then escaped. He died in 934. In that same year, Athelstan undertook a campaign in the north. He led his army into Strathclyde, routed Owain of Cumbria, and marched through the territory of Constantine, King of the Scots, whom he compelled to submission, and to acknowledge him as his over-lord.

As he was returning south he encountered Eric Bloodaxe, who had been expelled from his kingdom of Norway, and Athelstan in that same year, 934, appointed him his viceroy in York.

But the quiet life in York did not satisfy Eric; moreover, the people disliked him, and after a year he mounted his ships along with his followers, and spent his time in piracy. Meanwhile Constantine meditated revolt. He had married his daughter to Olaf Cuaran, and when Olaf suggested to him an attack upon England, and revenge upon Athelstan, he was ready to join in the undertaking.

The Aigla or Saga of Egill Skallagrimsson gives a very graphic account of the defeat of the allies by Athelstan, but it does not agree with the account of the battle of Brunanburh, as given by William of Malmesbury, and I cannot but think that the English historian has confounded two battles.

The Aigla1 was commtted to writing towards the end of the twelfth century, and William of Malmesbury wrote in 1142.

1 The Egils Saga was published at Hrappsey in 1782; again at Copenhagen,

1809; again at Reykjavik, 1856. Danish and Latin translations in 1738 and 1839.

« PreviousContinue »