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Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae by John Le Neve
Volume 1: Introduction

INTRODUCTION.




THE importance of the Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ will not, it is presumed, be denied in the present day, when so many volumes illustrative of history and biography are constantly issuing from the press.

If any proof of the high estimation of the work were required, it is furnished by the fact of there being known to be extant at least twenty copies fully annotated by eminent men[1].

Many of these copies are apparently designed for new editions, but none has yet been given to the world.

Such a work manifestly requires continuation from time to time, and the compiler took some steps towards it[2]; but he did not effect his purpose, probably, as stated by Browne Willis, on account of the little encouragement he received when he published his volume. Browne Willis himself was one of the first who collected materials for the purpose, but they afterwards appeared in a different form[3]. Since his time various attempts have been made to produce a second edition, but without result[4], owing, perhaps, to the great labour attendant on such an undertaking, the expense of printing and publishing it, and the limited sale to be expected of such a work.

The present edition was undertaken under the following circumstances. For many years the Editor has been in the habit of making such additions to his copy of the Fasti as came under his notice merely for his own use ; but meeting with a remark of the Rev. Dr. Maitland, in his proposal for establishing " a church history publishing society," that a new edition of Le Neve was much required, and that it would be a fit work for such a society to undertake, the Editor put his notes in order, for the purpose of offering them to that society, if it ever should be formed. Unfortunately, however, for that department in literature, a sufficient number of spirited wellwishers to such a society was not to be found, and Dr. Maitland's proposition fell to the ground. Speaking afterwards on the subject of a new edition of the "Fasti" to several publishers, they all admitted the want of such a work, but were afraid to run the risk of its publication, under the apprehension that it would take many years to dispose of an edition large enough to cover the expenses attendant on its production. One gentleman among them however suggested, that a new edition would be a proper work to be brought out by the Delegates of the Press of the University of Oxford ; accordingly he put the Editor in communication with one of the Delegates, who brought the project before his fellows, and this ended in their agreeing to undertake the work.

It is necessary to say a few words upon the materials used in the present edition.

From the mission of Augustine A.D. 597 to the commencement of the reign of John in 1199 the Editor has taken Le Neve as his basis, but instead of resting upon the authorities he cites, such as Battely's edition of Somner's Antiquities of Canterbury, Godwin De Præsulibus Angliæ, Wharton's Anglia Sacra, Fuller's Church History, Isaackson's Chronology, Weaver's Fu- neral Monuments, (authors to whom every student is indebted, and who ought never to be mentioned without respect,) he preferred consulting the original authorities to which they themselves had referred. He wishes it, however, distinctly to be understood, that he has not seen many of the documents to which Le Neve and those authors have referred, arising either from their faulty citation, or from the MSS. not being now accessible; in all such cases, however, he has deemed it advisable to cite their authorities, in case any person should be fortunate enough to procure access to them.

From the year 1199 (the period at which the Chancery records commence, in which all the ecclesiastical appointments, over which the crown exercises any right or control, are registered) to 1715, where Le Neve's compilation terminates, the Editor, as in the earlier portions, has taken Le Neve's lists as the basis of the present edition ; and for that period down to the present time he has searched the Patent, Charter, and Close Rolls, at the Tower and Rolls Chapel, the Registers of the Archbishops of Canterbury, the Registers of such of the Dioceses and Collegiate Churches, as he has been able to obtain access to ; the Church Books in the Home Office, the Records denominated Bishops' Certificates at Carlton Ride and Queen Anne's Bounty Office, the MSS. in the British Museum, and such printed books as Godwin, Wharton, Browne Willis, Somner, the London Gazettes, the Historical Registers, Gentleman's Magazine, and various County Histories. In addition to which, he has been favoured with the loan of Bishop White Kennett's invaluable interleaved copy belonging to Sir Thomas Phillipps, bart., and another equally valuable, and, if possible, more fully annotated, copy belonging to Earl Powis ; he has also had access to the copies deposited in the Bodleian, the British Museum, and other public libraries.

He has added a few preliminary remarks on the ancient and present extent of each Diocese, and likewise a List of the Canons of the Collegiate Church of Southwell, prepared expressly for this edition by the Rev. J. F. Dimock, one of the canons of that Church.

It would be in the highest degree presumptuous to claim the merit of perfect accuracy for a work of this description, in which every line contains either a date or a fact, many of which are variously given by different authors and documents : such perfection is wholly unattainable, at least a perfect work of this description has never yet issued from the press. Had not the extent of these volumes rendered [5]it impossible to keep the whole of them in type at the same time, several errors, discovered by that close comparison of the different dioceses which is only practicable in a printed form, would have been rectified before the sheets were worked off. Others, it is feared, still remain for correction by local antiquaries ; for when an individual directs the whole of his inquiries to one given subject, he must necessarily acquire more information on that subject than he who has to treat of several. Those who have been engaged in similar undertakings scarcely need to be reminded of the labour and difficulties attendant on the execution of a work, the contents of which extend over a period of more than eleven hundred years, and they will be the most inclined to make allowance for any errors and deficiencies which may be found in it. Several causes may be truly assigned for these, but particularly, I., the vague or conflicting statements to be met with in our ancient historians ; II. the scantiness of ecclesiastical re- cords, owing to their destruction at the period of the Reformation and during the civil wars ; III. the difficulty of obtaining access to such as remain ; IV. the variation in the chronology employed by the monkish historians, and the public records. The first commencing the year at different periods, and making their calculations either from the nativity of Christ, from the 1st of January or from the 25th of March, while in the public records the dominical calculation is disregarded, and the regnal one only adopted ; and moreover during the greater portion of the Saxon era there is an additional difficulty arising from the variation of two years between the dates of events as given by the northern and southern chroniclers, the consequence of which is that the same events are assigned to different years by different authorities.

The Editor has had many doubts and some difficulty relative to the orthography of names, for in no two records are they spelt alike[6], and even in the same document variations occur. Foreign names and titles are thus especially puzzling; he has attempted however to preserve uniformity, though he has not always been able to do so, and sometimes to identify parties[7]. In some few cases he has departed from the usual mode of spelling names, but in such instances he has chiefly proceeded upon a principle and not from mere caprice and yet he must admit that instances have occurred in which he has not been able to carry out the principle which he had laid down for his own guidance.

The Index, now for the first time furnished to the work, will, it is hoped, be found useful. As it has been prepared solely for the purpose of affording the means of ready reference to any desired name, no attempt has been made to identify any of the persons ; for although in very many cases this could be satisfactorily done, in others an uncertainty prevails, which, as it proceeds from the deficiency or inaccuracy of the original documents, there appears no means of removing. Under these circumstances it has appeared advisable not to attempt what could not be satisfactorily and completely accomplished. For the Index, as also for much useful assistance throughout the progress of the work, the Editor is indebted to Mr. W. E. Flaherty.

The most pleasing part of the Editor's work remains to be performed, that of offering his warmest thanks to those noblemen and gentlemen who have most kindly aided him in preparing the ensuing pages for the press. As regards the diocese of Canterbury, he has to make his grateful acknowledgments to his Grace the Archbishop, lord Charles Thynne, and Mr. Foss. In the diocese of Bangor, to the very Rev. the Dean of Bangor. In the diocese of Exeter, to the Rev. Dr. Oliver and Mr. Pitman Jones. In the diocese of Hereford, to the Rev. John Webb, Rector of Tretire. In the diocese of Lichfield, to Mr. William Salt of Russell Square, and the Rev. Robert W. Eyton, Rector of Ryton, Salop. In the diocese of Lincoln, to Mr. John Ross and the Rev. John Hodgson, of St. Peter's, Thanet. In the diocese of London, to the Ven. Archdeacon Hale and Mr. Dyke. In the diocese of Norwich, to the lord Bishop of Norwich and Mr. John Kitson. In the diocese of Oxford, to the Ven. Archdeacon Clerke, and the Rev. Dr. Bliss, Principal of St. Mary Hall. In the diocese of St. David's, to the lord Bishop of St. David's. In the diocese of Carlisle, to Mr. G. G. Mounsey. In the diocese of Durham, to the Rev. Joseph Stevenson. For the portion relating to Westminster, to the Rev. John Jennings, and Mr. ex-Sheriff Evans. For Windsor, to the Hon. and Rev. H. C. Cust, Canon of Windsor. For Eton, to the Rev. John Eyre Yong. For Southwell to the Rev. J. F. Dimock, Minor Canon of Southwell. For the portion relating to the University of Oxford, he has especially to refer to the Rev. Dr. Bliss, Principal of St. Mary Hall; the Rev. Dr. Cardwell, Principal of St. Alban Hall ; the Rev. Dr. Bandinel, Principal Librarian of the Bodleian ; and the Rev. H. O. Coxe, one of the Librarians of the Bodleian. For the University of Cambridge, he has to refer to the Rev. Dr. Ainslie, Master of Pembroke College; the Rev. Dr. Cookson, Master of Peter-house; but more especially to the Rev. Joseph Romilly, Registrary of that University. He has also to mention particularly the Right Hon. the Earl Powis, Sir Thomas Phillipps, Bart.; Garter King of Arms, (Sir Charles G. Young); Somerset Herald, (Mr. Courthope); the late Deputy Keeper of the MSS. in the British Museum, (Mr. John Holmes); the Grenville Librarian, (Mr. Edward Bond); Mr. Roberts, one of the Assistant Keepers of the Public Records; and Mr. John Bond. Mr. Christopher Hodgson; the Rev. Lambert Larking; the Rev. James Bliss, of Ogbourn St. Andrews; the Rev. John Bateson, Rector of White Roothing; the Rev. G. T. Driffield, Rector of Bow; the Rev. T. F. Fearne, of St. Giles-in-the-Fields; the Rev. C. H. Davis, of Nailsworth; and the Rev. William Williamson, of Thornton-le-Moor.

  1. In the Bodleian Library are to be found one by Dr. Rawlinson, others by Cole, Masters, Lussan, Brooke, Dr. Tanner, the Rev. J. Gutch, Registrar of Oxford, the Rev. Robert Smyth, of Woodstow, and one by an unknown hand. There are others in the British Museum, and at Cambridge, besides that by Bishop White Kennett in the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps, bart., and that belonging to Earl Powis. This, perhaps, is the most fitting place for the Editor to offer his public thanks to Earl Powis and Sir Thomas Phillipps for their great kindness and liberality in lending him these most valuable copies, with permission to make all the use of them he might think proper.
  2. "If ever there should be occasion to print a second edition of this work," he says, "let Fuller's Worthies and the Athenæ Oxonienses be revised; which will furnish the birthplaces and an account of the several other preferments (not dignities) which many of the persons herein named enjoyed; which may conveniently be added. The said works will likewise furnish very many materials towards an Obituary of several eminent personages who lie buried dispersedly, and which, being duly placed under their respective years, may very properly be placed after the monumental inscriptions of each year, and help much towards a catalogue of the viri illustres of each age."—Jo. Le Neve, April 28th, 1716.
  3. A Survey of the Cathedrals of York, Durham, Chester, &c. 4to. 1728; and A Survey of the Cathedrals of Lincoln, Oxford, and Peterborough. 4to. 1730.
  4. About five and twenty years since, a Prospectus was issued by the Rev. William Richardson, M.A., of St. John's college, Cambridge, for a new edition of the Fasti Ecclesise Anglicanse, in two volumes folio; but the work was not proceeded with, for the want of a sufficient number of subscribers to defray the expenses. The late Earl Powis, having purchased an interleaved copy filled with annotations and additions by several persons, liberally offered its use to the members of the Roxburgh Club; but it was not a popular measure with the club, and the design was abandoned. Nichols, in his Literary Anecdotes, states that the Rev. J. Gutch " was only deterred from undertaking a new edition by its extreme labour, and from the fortunate circumstance of his obtaining the easier and more profitable employment of Registrary of his University; and afterwards the Rev. Charles Coates would have brought out a new edition, provided the University of Cambridge would have printed it."
  5. The reader may form some idea of the additions which have been made to Le Neve's portion of the work, by the fact that his volume contains only 11,051 entries, while this edition has more than 30,000, and that upward of six thousand Rolls and other records have been consulted, besides printed books.
  6. In numberless instances the same name occurs differently spelt in the Privy Seal Bills, the Letters Patent, Bishops' Registers, the Bishops' Certificates, and the Church Books.
  7. Dr. Monk (Life of Bentley, vol. ii. pp. 161, 162) gives a curious instance of the difficulty of all inquiry respecting identity in the case of the two Alexander Cunninghams, the one a critic, the other an historian, and this he says may serve as a caution to biographers and antiquaries, who are sometimes led by much slighter circumstances than those he has mentioned, to assign to one person the actions or writings of another.