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the statute of 1263 if he went to the dean's he was only to go
with a staff of fifteen, namely, two chaplains, two taper-bearers,
five clerks, two vergers and four residentiary canons ; if to any
lesser dignitary with fourteen only, and if to a simple canon with
thirteen only. The boy-dean was to go with three companions ;
the boy-residentiary-canon with two only. As there were suppers
also on Innocents' Day and the next day, it was provided that
the same company was not to sup more than once with the
same person. The earliest mention in England of the boy-
bishop is in connexion with this supper. A statute made
between 1189 and 1199 enumerates among the duties of a
new residentiary canon that after the supper he is to con-
duct the boy who supped with him back to the Almonry with
dancing and singing and torches, and there hand round drink
and spices and a livery of wine and candles, and two servants
are to wait there'till another boy comes from a senior canon's.
He is to give a second supper on the Octave of the Innocents,
entertaining the [boy]-bishop and his boys and their com-
panions, and giving them presents when they leave. It is
somewhat comically provided that if he has to wait till very
late for their arrival that evening he need not attend matins
next morning.

In the thirteenth century a reaction set in against the too
popular ceremony. While the men of old, says a statute of
St. Paul's in 1263, had provided that in commemoration of the
Holy Innocents, who had shed their blood for the Innocent
Christ, an Innocent boy should discharge the office of prelate,
and a boy preside over boys and an Innocent rule innocents,
now an unruly crowd converted the ceremony to the dishonour
and derision of the house of God. So they ordered the ser-
vice to be conducted with due decorum and made various pro-
visions, some of which have been already mentioned, for cutting
down the numbers and expenses and preventing crowding.
So at Salisbury in 1319, an edict was issued against the people
crowding in on the procession and the boy-bishop was forbid-
den to have a supper, or visit anyone, inside or outside the
precinct, except in the boys' common-room, and as soon as
Innocents' Day was over he and the other boys were to go to


school as usual. This was however brutum fulmen. There is
evidence at Salisbury of a feast in 1413 and of visitations and
collections amounting to 3 155. to 4 gs. lid. from 1440 to
1459. At Wells in 1331 the chapter condemned the theatrical
plays performed in the cathedral and the monstrous masks
worn at them, and ordered the service on Innocents' Day to be
performed quietly and without turnult or burlesque ; but this
had to be repeated seven years later. Bishop Grandison of
Exeter, who was very much of a Puritan, complained in 1360 to
the chapter of his cathedral and also of his collegiate churches
of Crediton, Ottery St. Mary, and Glasney that on Christmas
and the four following days not only during Hours, but, what
was worse, even during the solemnities of the mass, the vicar and
boys performed unfitting and noxious plays, indecent for decent
clerks, by which the vestments and other ornaments of the
church were spoilt. At Ottery in 1339 he had ordered that
the boy-bishop should not go about outside the parish with
" dissoluteness and insolence" collecting money and neglecting
his duty.

Yet at Worcester the first extant mention of the Grammar
School occurs in 1291 on a dispute between the rector of
St. Nicholas' Church and the master and scholars of the school
as to the right to the wax of the candles used on St. Nicholas'
Day by the boys, and it required the personal intervention of
the bishop to give solemn judgment in the boys' favour. At
York in 1396 the boy-bishop spent a whole month after
Innocents' Day in tours round his diocese with a mounted
staff consisting of a tenor singer, who led his horse, a middle
voice singer or baritone, a steward and preacher, and two
others whose duties are not specified in the account-roll. Only
once in the whole month of January is it recorded that he
went to school, and on that day they "went out of town"
directly after breakfast. The party levied half a mark each
from the heads of the greater monasteries, and half that, 35. 4d.,
from four of the lesser ones, with 2s. from five others.

The Countess of Northumberland contributed no less than
i and a gold ring ; Lady Marmion half a mark, a ring and
a silk purse ; Lady de Rous, and Sir Stephen Scrope each half
a mark. The oblations on the day amounted to no less than
i 45. id. with a silver spoon, a silver ring and a silk purse,


while the chapter gave over i IDS. more. The total receipts
were 8 155. 5<d. Of this, the supper on Innocents' Eve cost
153. 6d. and that on Innocents' Day i6s. which included
twenty-two fieldfares, eight woodcocks, a plover, 3d. worth of
small birds, and sixty warden-pears. The tenor singer was
paid a whole mark, 133. 4d., the preaching steward only 43. 8d.
Twenty-eight pairs of gloves at i^d. each were distributed
among the vicars choral and;the;two schoolmasters of grammar
and song, and the lucky youth who played the boy-bishop
pocketed no less than 3 i/s. I i|d. a year's income of most
grammar school ushers or chantry priests.

The ceremony was solemnly allowed by the statutes of
Winchester College made in 1400: "We allow that on the
Feast of Innocents the boys may say and perform vespers,
matins and other divine service to be read or sung, according
to the use and custom of the church of Sarum ". The allow-
ance was acted on. In 1400 the college paid 2d. for two
Founders'-kin's contributions to St. Nicholas Light. In
1404 the City minstrels were paid 2s. for their services on In-
nocents' Day. In 1462 the warden made the college pay 4d.
which he had given to Bishop Nicholas (Episcopo Nicolatensi],
visiting him in his lodgings on St. Nicholas' night. Though
the Council of Basle had in 1435 thundered against the dis-
graceful abuse of the Feasts of Fools, Innocents and Boys, in
which they dressed up as bishops and gave the episcopal bless-
ing, yet an Eton statute in 1443, cap. 31, said of St. Nicholas'
Day, which was the founder Henry VI's own birthday, " on
which day and by no means on the feast of the Holy Inno-
cents we allow divine service, except the sacred portions of the
mass, to be performed and said by a boy-bishop of the scholars
chosen yearly". Accordingly the accounts for 1446-7 show a
payment of is. 6d. for making a rochet for a Bishop Nicholas
(Nicolacensi). According to the Elizabethan schoolmaster
Malim the election had been held on St. Hugh's Day, 1 7 Nov-
ember, the accounts for 1536-7 showing a payment of 4d. for
a parchment roll on which to write the names of the bishop's
officers on St. Hugh's Day. Eton being in Lincoln diocese
the martyr boy-bishop St. Hugh had apparently superseded
or been added to the boy-bishop.

Colet as a Reformer was an enemy of old superstitions, yet


his statutes for the refounded St. Paul's School in 1518, though
not providing for his boys having a boy-bishop themselves,
recognized the old custom by ordering that " all these children
shall euery Childermasse day come to Paulis church and here
the chylde bisshopis sermon, and after be at the hye masse, and
eche of them offre a jd. to the child bisshope, and with them
the maisters and surveyors of the scole ". Erasmus indeed
composed a sermon for the boy-bishop. One such sermon
written about 1490 is preserved. It is a sober-sided perform-
ance enough ; the chief joke in it being that the boy is made
to wish that all his masters which taught him cunning in
his youth were promoted to be perpetual fellows of that
famous college of the King's foundation in Southwark
called the King's Bench, and end their life in the holy way
called in Latin Via Tiburtina and in English the highway to
Tyburn. Colet's view of the boy-bishop was probably very
much that of the German schoolmaster Schade, known as
Mosellanus, whose school books were read at Eton and other
English schools. In his Paedalogia or School Dialogues, pub-
lished in 1521, dedicated to the headmaster of St. Thomas's
School, Leipzig, he makes two boys discuss the boy-bishop.
One of them sneers at the celebration, but the other, asked
what is the good of it, says, " I don't know, but you get an
extra good dinner".

At length on 22 July, 1541, the King's Majesty, minding
nothing so much as to advance the true glory of God without
vain superstition, commanded that the superstitious and child-
ish observations, whereby upon St. Nicholas, St. Katharine,
St. Clement, the Holy Innocents and such like, children be
strangely decked and apparelled to counterfeit priests, bishops
and women, and so led with songs and dances from house to
house blessing the people and gathering of money, and boys
do sing mass and preach in the pulpit, with other unfitting and
inconvenient usages, be lost and clearly extinguished. Revived
under Mary they finally disappeared under Elizabeth. Even
in Catholic France and Germany the boy-bishop died at thesame
time in nearly every pi ace, though at Noyau he survived till 1721
and an Ass-Archbishop lived at Sens till the nineteenth century.
The truth is that in the sixteenth century the boy-bishop was
no longer required. Regular holidays had then been instituted.


The dramatic instinct in children and their elders was satis-
fied by the performance of regular stage plays at schools, of
which the Winchester and Eton accounts furnish more or less
continuous evidence from the end of > the fifteenth century, and
the Westminster Play is the surviving classical specimen.



THE twelfth century closed with a repetition by the
Council of London in 1200 of the decree of the
Lateran Council of 1179, " Let nothing be exacted
from masters for licence to teach ", and a revival once more,
following the English canons of 994, of the canon of the
Sixth Council of Constantinople in 692, that priests might
send their nephews or other relations to be taught in cathe-
drals, and that they in their turn should keep schools in the
towns or manors (villas) and teach little boys gratis, and have
schoolmasters in their houses to teach boys, without expecting
anything beyond what their relations were willing to give. A
decree of the Lateran Council of 1215 complained that the
former decree had not been observed, and ordered that not
only in every cathedral church but in all others of sufficient
means a fit master should be elected to instruct the clerks of the
church and others in the faculty of grammar gratis ; while every
metropolitical church was to keep a theological teacher to teach
the priests and others in the sacred page and matters concerning
the cure of souls. Both grammar and theology teachers were
to be given the revenue of a prebend, though they were not
necessarily to be canons. Four years later, Honorius III or-
dered this decree to be strictly observed, and that, if there was
any difficulty in finding masters, canons should be sent to theo-
logical schools for five years to study theology, while retaining
their prebends. In accordance with these directions we find
in the Lincoln Episcopal Register, the earliest extant in Eng-
land, frequent directions to rectors and vicars on institution
to attend schools. Thus in 1219 the Vicar of Barton-on-
Humber was directed to attend the Lincoln school for two years
to learn theology, and in 1225 the Rector of Potter Hanworth,





not yet even a subdeacon, was ordered, on account of his insuf-
ficiency in grammar, to attend a grammar school, no doubt that
at Lincoln. So in 1230 the vicar of a Northampton church was
ordered to attend Northampton school for a year and then re-
turn to the archdeacon to show what progress he had made.

The educational activity evinced by these papal and episco-
pal mandates found its chief embodiment in the establishment
of new universities, headed by that of Cambridge. Cambridge
first appears educationally in 1209 as a place to which a large
number of Oxford scholars seceded after one of the many bloody
town and gown riots there. By 1231 it had blossomed into a full-
grown university with a chancellor of its own. The existence
of a grammar school there before the university, and the effect
of the rise of universities in lowering the status of grammar
schools, are markedly shown in an entry in the Archdeacon of
Ely's book, preserved at Gonville and Caius College. Hugh
Balsham, Bishop of Ely, in the octave of Michaelmas 1276,
made an ordinance settling questions which had arisen between
the archdeacon, the chancellor of the university, and the master
of the grammar school as to their respective jurisdiction over
clerks and scholars and the dependents of scholars. As
between the archdeacon and the chancellor the points in dis-
pute as to the jurisdiction' over tradesmen and servants of
scholars were settled in favour of the chancellor, except for
moral offences, like adultery, of which the archdeacons took
cognizance, while the jurisdiction over priests who held chantries
and livings in the town, and yet were attending the uni-
versity schools, was to turn on whether they were principally
scholars or principally priests or whether the matter in question
concerned university acts. As between the grammar school
master and the chancellor and archdeacon, the decision was
that the master of glomery, as by a curious corruption of
the word grammar he was called had the jurisdiction in all
suits in which the giomericules (glomerelli), or grammar-school
boys, were defendants. Whether the plaintiff were cleric or
lay, the grammar master alone should try and decide the case,
unless it related to the rent of a house, a matter which was
settled by a joint committee of M.A.'s and burgesses, or was
one of some serious crime which entailed imprisonment or loss
of university privileges, when the case was to go before the


chancellor of the university. If, however, a university scholar
were plaintiff in a case against a grammar scholar, an appeal
was to lie to the chancellor.

The master's authority was shown by a beadle of grammar
carrying a mace before him. The right to have this mace
carried everywhere else was confirmed, but, as the university
statutes provided for two university beadles carrying maces
at all university convocations and assemblies, including burial
services, and forbade anyone else to carry them there, the
grammar master was forbidden to have his mace carried at
such meetings. It is rather surprising to find that, with this
important jurisdiction, the grammar master was required to
swear obedience to the archdeacon on appointment to the
school, and never to attempt anything against his jurisdiction.

After another secession from Oxford in 1238 universities
appeared at Salisbury and Northampton. The latter was
suppressed by the Crown in 1265. The former after produc-
ing two of the earliest university colleges in England was
sufficiently flourishing in 1279 to produce a quarrel between
the chancellor and the subdean of the cathedral on much the
same points as were determined at Cambridge in 1276. It
had died out by 1325.

All this theological and scholastic activity was no doubt
one of the causes of the codification into written statutes of
the body of customary law which had been developed in the
cathedral and collegiate churches. These bear witness to
the change in the status of the schoolmaster caused by the
development of universities, and of theological schools at the

We now find three schools attached to the great churches,
the theological school under the chancellor, who is generally
required to be a master in theology, a doctor of divinity ; the
grammar school under the grammar schoolmaster, generally
required to be an M.A., appointed by the chancellor, whose
deputy he was ; and the song or music school under the
song schoolmaster, appointed by the precentor, whose de-
puty he was, for whom no special qualification was laid down.
Oddly enough, the earliest extant edition of any English
cathedral statutes comes, not from an English source, but from
Scotland. When the Bishop of Moray was establishing a


cathedral at Elgin, he bestowed on the chapter the liberties and
privileges of Lincoln, and accordingly Lincoln was asked to
send a statement of its customs and constitutions. The state-
ments sent in response in 1212 and 1236 are earlier than any
statutes at Lincoln. In those sent in 1236 we find the first
mention of choristers or a choristers' school. The chanter
(cantor) is the second person in the church. The chanter's office
is to rule the choir in raising and lowering the chant ; and to
place the singers on " the table " the orders for the week. " To
him also belongs the instruction and discipline of the boys and
their admission and placing in choir." On certain days he
must himself lead the chant, and start the bishop when he is
present. He is bound to correct the chant-books and rebind
them after the first binding, and if new ones are wanted, to
get them written at the chapter's expense. The chancellor is
the third person. " The office of the chancellor is to rule the
School of Theology, to preach by himself or deputy ", on
certain days. " To correct the reading books and rebind
them after the first binding if any new ones are wanted
to get them written at the chapter's expense. To place the
readers and ministers of the altar on the table ; to hear the
readers and determine the lessons. To keep the chapter seal,
to compose the lessons and deeds of the chapter and read
whatever has to be read in chapter ; to keep the theological
books of the church and the others in an aumbrey. ' His
dignity is that no one can teach (lecture, legere) in the city of
Lincoln except by his license, and that he collates to all the
schools in the county of Lincoln at his pleasure, except to
those which are on prebends ' ", which fell under the jurisdic-
tion of the other canons.

Statutes made at St. Paul's, London, about 1250, during
the deanery of Henry of Cornhill, who had himself been chan-
cellor for twenty-four years before becoming dean in 1241, are
perhaps the next earliest. Here the chancellor took prece-
dence of the chanter, who was of later creation. The chan-
cellor, we are told, when present makes the table for lessons,
masses, epistles, gospels, acolytes and hebdomadaries (the
priests, who were in turn responsible for the services " in
course ", as they still say at Winchester School, for a week) ;
he hears the lessons, including that of the lord bishop on


solemn days, and carries him the book for the lesson at matins ;
and in a silk cope ministers to the bishop when he reads the
last lesson. He introduces the clerks of the lower grade of the
church who are to be ordained, and presents them to the bishop
for ordination after having examined them in school ; and does
justice for their excesses to any who complains of them.
Under him are all the scholars who live in the city, except
those of a school of the Arches, and of a school of the basilica
of St. Martin's-le-Grand, who contend that they are privileged
in this and other things. The same chancellor keeps an aum-
bry with the school books of the church. He also prefers
a master of arts to the grammar school (scolis gramaticis) and
is bound to repair the school. He composes the letters and
deeds of the chapter, and reads what has to be read in chapter.
He is the chief keeper of the seal, and receives a pound of
pepper for every deed sealed, and the chapter receives 33.
The precentor's duty is laid down in much the same terms as
at Lincoln. He is to rule the choir in raising and lowering
the chant and in psalmody ; to order the singers on the table
through the master of the song school, to goad the negligent
to sing, to chide and keep quiet those who make a noise or
rush about the choir in a disorderly manner. On the greater
feast he begins the Benedictus and Magnificat, the processional
chants and the sequences, and examines the boys for admission
to the choir and for being placed on the table to sing. But it
is specially noted that all power of punishing delinquents in
choir belongs to the dean and chapter as it did before the
creation of a precentor.

At Chichester Cathedral the ancient and approved customs
were ordered to be written down on 23 July, 1247. They
were, as to the cantor, that " he ought to rule the choir as re-
gards singing, and can raise or lower the chant, place readers
and singers both for night and day on the table, admit the
clerks to the choir ; when orders are to be conferred read out
the names of those admitted". It will be noticed that in
tabling the readers the precentor here performed duties else-
where done by the chancellor. The chancellor, however,
" ought to rule [regere, idem quod, legere\ school or present to
it, to hear the lessons and determine them ; to keep with the
help of a faithful brother the chapter seal and compose letters


and deeds". In 1232 a dispute with the treasurer had
caused a statute to be made which enlarged on the chan-
cellor's duties. It was added that he must hear the night
lessons himself, immediately after vespers, or by a fit person
" well learned in the method of pronunciation customary in the
church " a curious provision which looks as if some English
pronunciation of Latin was already in vogue. Some insistence
was exhibited on the point. The statute proceeds : " He can,
however, if he wishes to lighten his labours, call the juniors of
the second form and the boys of the third form and hear their
lessons before that office. But whoever is going to read must
present himself to be heard at a convenient time, otherwise if
through mispronunciation or absurdity or otherwise he offend
against the rule of the church, let him incur the penalty de-
creed below against those who commit default in duties as-
signed to them by the daily table, which in the church are
commonly called marances" These penalties were, for a vicar,
the loss of id. or 2d. ; if not a vicar, chastisement by the pre-
centor or his deputy ; " but if of the third form," i.e. a boy,
" let him be turned out of the choir, or receive from his master
or the precentor's deputy seven strokes, or if he has committed
a grave offence, fourteen ". The chancellor's duties also in-
cluded the maintenance of a notary and letter writer and
other fit person sworn not to reveal the secrets of the chapter,
to write the letters of the Dean and chapter. "He shall without
grudging or waste of time supply him with all things neces-
sary for writing. Also he shall himself, or through some
other fit corrector, correct the books of the Church which
need correction."

The earliest known appearance of the school at Wells is
in a deed between 1175 and 1185, witnessed by Peter of
Winchester, magister scolarum. An early grant in 1229 of
a separate endowment of the school remains, when Roger, a
canon, gave a house to be enjoyed by the schoolmaster for the
time being for the use of the school at Wells, in consideration
of which the master and scholars were bound to pray daily for
the soul of the donor and other Christian souls. The statutes
written down about the middle of the century are almost identi-
cal with the Institution of St. Osmund, the same distinction
being drawn apparently between the duties of the chancellor and


the " archiscola " on the one side for the grammar school, and
the chanter and his Official for the song school on the other.
In 1298 the vicar choralship of the prebend of Biddenham,
which as it was assigned to the fabric fund, was not represented
by any canon, was given to the schoolmaster, whose stipend
from the common fund was i ros. 4d. in 1327, 1 6s. 8d. in
1343 and^i los. 5d. in 1536; but he generally held a chantry
as well, and as chantry priest shared with seventeen others in
the endowment, 11 i8s. 8d. a year, of the New College of
Mountroy or Mounterey, founded for the chantry priests in 1401.
At York the statutes were not written as we now have

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 16 of 39)