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of the parish who were engaged in carrying torches at the burial, or had promised to offer up prayers for the soul of the testator. Besides these general features of interest, the wills in question show us that building operations of great magnitude were being carried on at this time in the parish churches of the North, and they thus furnish an additional proof of the very remarkable interest thus taken by the people at large in the rebuilding and adornment of the parish churches of England right up to the very overthrow of the old ecclesiastical system. These particular wills also bear a singular testimony to the kindly feelings which existed at this time between the general body of the clergy and the regular orders. Nearly every will of any cleric of note contains bequests of money to monks, nuns, and friars, whilst in particular those of the canons and officials of the great metropolitan church of York bear testimony to the affection and esteem in which they held the Abbot and monks of St. Mary's Abbey in the same city, which from its close proximity to the minster might in these days have been regarded as its rival.
As an illustration of the religious spirit which pervades these documents, we may take the following preface to the will of one John Dalton, of Hull, made in 1487. "In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen. I, John Dalton of the Kingstown upon Hull—considering and remembering, think in my heart that the days of man in this mortal life are but short, that the hour of death is in the hand of Almighty God, and that He hath ordained the terms that no man may pass. I remember also that God hath ordained man to die, and that there is nothing more uncertain than the hour of death. I seeing princes and (men of) great estates die daily, and men of all ages end their days, and that death gives no certain respite to any living creature, but takes them suddenly. For these considerations, I, being in my right wit and mind, loved be God, whole not sick, beseech Almighty God that I may die the true son of Holy Church and of heart truly confessed, with contrition and repentance, of all my sins that ever I did since the first hour I was born of my mother into this sinful world, to the hour of my death. Of these offences I ask and beseech Almighty God pardon and forgiveness; and in this I beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary and her blessed Son Jesu, our Saviour, that suffered pain and passion for me and all sinful creatures, and all the holy company of Paradise to pray for me. . . . For these causes aforesaid, I, being alive of whole mind and memory, loved be God, dispose and ordain such goods as God hath lent me movable and immovable by my testament, and ordain this my last will in the form and manner that followeth: First, I recommend in humble devotion, contrition, and true repentance of my faults and sins, praying and craving mercy of our Saviour Jesus Christ . . . my soul to our Lord Jesus Christ when it shall depart from my body, and to our Lady St. Mary, Saint Michael, St. John the Baptist, St. John the Evangelist, St. Katherine and St. Barbara, and to all the whole company and saints of heaven: and my body I will to the earth whereof it came."
The testator then proceeds to direct that his executors shall give his wife a third of his property, and his children another third. The rest he wishes to be bestowed in charity as they may think best "to the pleasure of God and the health of my soul" . . . "as they shall answer before God at the dreadful day of doom. (Especially) I will them to pay my debts, charging them before God to discharge me and my soul; and in this let them do for me as they would I did for them, as I trust they will do."1
Of much the same character is the briefer Latin preface to the will of a sub-dean of York in 1490. "I protest before God Almighty, the Blessed Mary, and all saints, and I expressly proclaim that, no matter what infirmity
'Testamenla Eboracensia (Surtees Society), vol. iv., p. 21.
of mental weakness may happen to me in this or any other sickness, it is not my intention in anything to swerve from the Catholic faith. On the contrary I firmly and faithly believe all the articles of faith, all the sacraments of the Church; and that the Church with its sacraments is sufficient for the salvation of any one however guilty." 1
To take one more example of the same spirit. Thomas Dalton, merchant of Hull—probably son of the John Dalton whose will is quoted above—died in 1497. After charging his wife, whom he leaves his executrix, to pay all his debts, he adds: "And I will and give my mother forty shillings, beseeching her meekly to pray for me and to give me her daily blessing, and that she will forgive me all trespasses and faults done by me to her since I was born of her, as she will be forgiven before God at the great day of judgment." 2
Much the same spirit evidently dictated the following clause in the will of John Sothill of Dewsbury, 1502: "Also I pray Thomas my son, in my name and for the love of God, that he never strive with his mother, as he will have my blessing, for he will find her courteous to deal with."8
Other examples of the catholicity of these mediaeval wills may be here added as they are taken from the volume almost at haphazard. In 1487, a late mayor of the city of York leaves money to help in the repairs of many churches of the city and its neighbourhood. He charges his executors to provide for the maintenance of lamps and lights in several places, and specially names a gold ring with a diamond in it, which he desires may be hung round the neck of Our Lady's statue in York Minster, and another with a turquoise "round Our Lord's neck that is in the arms of the said image of Our Lady." After making provision for several series of masses to be
said, as for example one of thirty in honour of the Holy Trinity, another in honour of the Holy Cross, a third in that of Our Lady, &c, the testator bequeaths a large sum of money to dower fifteen poor girls, and to find fifty complete sets of beds and bedding for the poor, as well as other extensive charities.1
Thomas Wood, a draper of Hull, was sheriff in 1479 and died in 1490. By will he left to his parish church a piece of worked tapestry, and the clause by which the bequest was conveyed shows that the church already possessed many costly hangings of this kind. It runs thus: "To the Trinity Church one of my best beds of Arras work, upon condition that after my decease the said bed shall yearly cover my grave at my Dirge and Mass, done in the said Trinity Church with note (in singing) for ever more. Also I will that the said bed be yearly hung in the said church on the feast of St. George the Martyr among other worshipful beds, and when the said bed be taken down and delivered, then I will that the same bed be re-delivered into the vestry and there to remain with my cope of gold."2
The same kind of gift appears in the last testament of William Rowkshaw, Rector of Lowthorpe, in 1504. "I leave," he says, "to the Church of Catton a bedcovering worked with great figures to lie in front of the High Altar on the chief feasts. And I leave also a bedcovering (worked) with the image of a lion (a blue lion was the family arms) to place in front of the altar in the parish church of Lowthorpe on the chief feasts." Also in the will of William Graystoke of Wakefield, executed in 1508, there is made a gift to the parish church of "a cloth of arras work sometime hanging in the Hall."8
Poor scholars at the universities were not forgotten in the wills of the period. Mr. Martin Collins, Treasurer of York, for instance, in 1508 charges his executors to pay
for a scholar at either Oxford or Cambridge for seven years to study canon law, or the arts. The only condition is that they are to choose him from the "poor and very needy, and even from the poorest and most necessitous."1 So, too, William Copley in 1489 leaves money to support two poor priests for the purpose of study at Cambridge. Archbishop Rotheram in his long and most Christian will, executed in June 1500, makes provision for the education of youth. He founds a college in the place of his birth—the College of Jesus at Rotheram—in thanksgiving for God's providence in securing his own education. "For," he says, " there came to Rotheram, I don't know by what chance, but I believe by the special grace of God, a teacher of grammar, who taught me and other youths, and by whose means I and others with me rose in life. Wherefore desirous of returning thanks to our Saviour, and to proclaim the reason, and lest I might seem ungrateful and forgetful of God's benefits and from whence I have come, I have determined first of all to establish there for ever a grammar master to teach all gratuitously. And because I have seen chantry priests boarding with lay people, one in one place one in another, to their own scandal and in some places ruin, I have desired, in the second place, to make them a common dwelling-house. For these reasons I have commenced to build the college of Jesus, where the head shall teach grammar and the others may board and sleep." Moreover, as he has seen, he says, many unlettered and country folk from the hills (rudi et mcntant) attracted to church by the very beauty of ceremonial, he establishes at Rotheram a choir-master and six singing boys to add to the attraction of the services, and for such of these boys, who may not want to become priests, he endows a master to teach them the art of writing and arithmetic2
A merchant of Holme, one John Barton, after leaving