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to the curate, who without help of another priest is not able to serve the cure there," as there were two thousand souls in the district. So, too, at Mildenhall there was a chantry established, as the parish was long and populous, “having a great number of housling people and sundry hamlets, divers of them having chapels distant from the parish church one mile or two miles, where the said priest did sing Mass sundry festival days and other holy days, and also help the curate to minister the Sacraments, who without help were not able to discharge his cure." At Southwold were four cottages left by one John Perce for an “obit.” The property produced twenty shillings a year, and of this sum ten shillings were to be distributed to the poor; eight shillings to maintain the town and pay the taxes of the poor, and two shillings to be paid to the parson and his clerk for their services in church. There was also in the same town a tenement called Skilman's, intended to supply a stipendiary priest for sixteen years to the parish, and after that to go to the town. The sixteen years were up when the royal commissioners visited the town, and the whole sum was then being spent on the town. In vain the people pleaded that “it was to be considered that the said town of Southwold is a very poor town, whereupon the sea lies beating daily, to the great ruin and destruction of the said town, if that the power and violence of the same were not broken by the maintenance of jetties and piers there, and that the maintenance of the haven and bridge of the same town is likewise very chargeable." The marsh belonging to the said tenement, called Skilman's, is let to the poor inhabitants of the same town, every man paying for his cowgate by the year 2od. only " to the great relief of the
So, too, the Aldermen of the Guild of the Holy Ghost in Beccles held lands to supply a priest to assist in the parish
3 Ibid. (18)
for ninety-nine years, to find money to pay the tenths, fifteenths, and other taxes, and for other charitable purposes. The property brought in £10 gs. 4d., and each year the poor received forty shillings; thirty shillings went to pay for the taxes, and the rest-some £6-to the priest. In order to induce the king to leave this fund untouched, the commissioners of 1547 are asked to note “ that Beccles is a great and populous town," there being eight hundred houselings, “and the said priest is aiding unto the curate there, who without help is not able to discharge the said cure."'1
The case of Bury St. Edmunds is particularly distressing. Amongst other charities, lands had been left by will or given by various benefactors to find priests to serve St. Mary's, to sing "the Jesus Mass," and to act as chaplain at the Lady altar. Property also was given in charge of St. Nicholas Guild of the annual value of 255. 4d., of which sum 22s. was to be distributed to the poor of the town, and the rest was to go to the annual anniversary services for members of the guild. More property, too, had been left by one Margaret Oldham for a priest to say Mass in the church of St. James on the week days, and in the jail on the Sundays, and to find the poor prisoners in wood for a fire during winter months. There were several other similar benefactions of the same kind, and the parishioners of St. James's church “gathered weekly of their devotion "the stipend of a priest paid to say “the morrow Mass"—that is, the Mass at daybreak intended for those who had to go early to their daily work. When the royal commissioners came on behalf of the said Edward VI. to gather in these spoils at Bury, they were asked to forward to the authorities in London the following plea for pity : “It is to be considered that the said town of Bury is a great and populous town, having in it two parish churches, and in the parishes of the same above the number of 3,000 houseling persons, and a great number of youth. And the king's majesty hath all the tithes and all the profits yearly coming and growing within the same parishes,' finding two parish priests there. And the said two parish priests are not able to serve and discharge the said cures without aid and help of other priests. And further, there is no school, nor other like foundation, within the said town, nor within twenty miles of it, for the virtuous education and bringing up of youth, nor any hospital or other like foundation for the comfort and relief of the poor, of which there is an exceeding great number within the said town other than what are before mentioned, of which the said incumbents do now take the whole yearly revenues and profits, and distribute no part thereof to the aid and comfort or relief of the said poor people.
* Ibid. (20).
“In consideration whereof it may please the king's majesty of his most charitable benignity, moved with pity in that behalf, to convert the revenues and profits of the sum of the said promotions into some godly foundation, whereby the said poor inhabitants, daily there multiplying, may be relieved, and the youth instructed and brought up virtuously, or otherwise, according to his most godly and discreet wisdom, and the inhabitants shall daily pray to God for the prosperous preservation of his most excellent majesty, long to endure." ;
* This was owing to the recent dissolution of the Abbey.
2 In one case it is said : “ Mem : The decay of rent is caused by the fact that most came from lands in possession of the abbey ; since the dissolution these have been sold, and the purchasers do not allow that they are liable to pay." The hospital called St. Parvell's, without the south gate, also had been dissolved by Henry VIII., and the property granted 1o Sir George Somerset (6th July, 37 H. VIII.). It had produced £16 135. 4d. a year, with £ 5 ios. “ paid out of the late abbey of Bury to the sustentation of the poor.” The whole charity, of course, by the dissolution of the abbey and the grant of the remaining property as above, had come to an end.
* Ibid. (No. 44).
It is hardly necessary to say that the petition had no effect. At Bury, as indeed all over England, the claims of the sick and poor were disregarded and the money passed into the possession of the crown. The hospitals that mediæval charity had erected and supported were destroyed; the youth remained untaught; the poor were deprived of the charity which had been, as it was supposed, secured to them for ever by the wills of generations of Catholic benefactors; the poor prisoners in the jail at Bury had to go without their Sunday Mass and their winter fire ; whilst the money that had hitherto supported chaplains and chantry priests to assist the parish priests in the care of their districts was taken by the crown.
For Yorkshire the certificates of the commissioners have been published by the Surtees Society. The same impression as to the utility and purpose of the chantry and other assisting priests may be gathered from almost every page. For example, the chantry of St. Katherine in the parish church of Selby : “ The necessity thereof is to do divine service, and help the parish priest in time of necessity to minister sacraments and sacramentals and other divine services." ... For “the said parish of Selby is a great parish, having but one curate, and in the same parish is a thousand houseling people; and the said curate has no help in time of necessity but only the said chauntry priest.” 1
Again: “Two chantries of our Lady in the parish church of Leeds, 'founded by the parishioners there to serve in the choir and to minister sacraments and other divine service, as shall be appointed by the vicar and other honest parishioners there, which they do. ... The necessity thereof is to do divine service, to help the curate, and minister the Sacraments, having 3,000 houseling people.'”?
In the same parish church, the chantry of St. Mary
| Yorkshire Chantry Surveys (Surtees Soc.), p. 213.
3 Ibid., p. 214.
Magdalene was “ founded by William Evers, late vicar of Leeds, to pray for the soul of the founder and all Christian souls, to minister at the altar of St. Mary Magdalene, to keep one yearly obit, with seven shillings to be distributed, and to serve in the choir at divine service all holy days and festival days, as appears by the foundation deed thereof, dated A.D. 1524."1
One more example may be taken out of the hundreds in these volumes : “ The chantry, or donative, within the chapel of Holbecke in the parish of Leeds, the incumbent is used to say daily mass there and is taken for a stipendiary priest paying tithes. And there is a great river between the said parish church and the chapel, whereby they can by no means often pass to the said church. ... The said chantry is distant from the said parish church one mile. The necessity thereof is to do divine service according to the foundation.'"}
A few words enforcing the lesson to be learned from these extracts taken from the preface to the second part of these interesting Yorkshire records may be here given. Mr. Page, the editor, says: “Up to the time of the Reformation nearly all education was maintained by the church, and when the chantries were dissolved practically the whole of the secondary education of the country would have been swept away, had not some provision for the instruction of the middle and lower classes been made by continuing, under new ordinances, some of the educa. tional endowments which pious founders had previously provided." 3
“ The next most important class of foundations, some of which were continued under the commission ... consisted of the chapels of ease, which were much required in extensive parishes with a scattered population, and had been generally founded by the parishioners for their own convenience. It seems, therefore, that the dissolution of these chapels was a peculiar hardship. As early as 1233,
1 Ibid., p. 215.
? Ibid., p. 216.
• Ibid., p. II.