Sacrist from Michs. 1291 to Michs. 1292.
This is the earliest Roll of the Ely Monastery now known to exist.
For how long a period the accounts of the Sacristy had been annually
presented in this same form we know not; but there is reason to believe
that considerable reforms in the account-keeping of the Monastery were
effected by Bishop Hugh of Balsham.
After a visitation of the Cathedral in 1261 the Bishop singled out from
other matters calling for correction the disordered condition of the finances
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of the House, and after deliberation with the Prior and the Senior Brethren
he promulgated certain rules for their future guidance of a very simple and
elementary character 1 . Having himself been a monk and an office-holder
in the Ely Monastery before his elevation to the Episcopate, he may have
been moved to an official investigation into the finances of his Chapter
by his personal experience of the faulty manner in which its business had
been carried on in his own time.
But evidence is also forthcoming that other, if not all, the Benedictine
Houses in England were open to the same charge. The two "Innovations"
or "Reformations" of the Status of the Black Order which were addressed
to the Abbots and Priors assembled in London in the years 1238 and
l MS. Laud. Misc. 647, f. 157. Bodleian, Oxford. — "Ordinacio Episcopi super statu
Prioratus anno ab Incarnacione Domini MCCLXI. pridie Kal. Marc, cum Nos Hugo
miseracione divina Eliensis Ecclesie Minister humilis officio visitacionis exequendo in
C. VOL. I. I
2 (Roff ®o. i*
1253 1 were motived to a great extent by a knowledge that the financial
condition of the Monasteries was being jeopardised, partly indeed by the
practice of borrowing money, but more especially by faulty systems of
The Roll now before us, although thirty years had passed since Bishop
Balsham's Visitation and Reform, still bears an aspect of youthfulness and
rudeness. Payments of all kinds are entered under the months in which
they were made, special purchases being occasionally grouped together in
a section at the close of the quarter. The scribe professes to gather up the
figures of each paragraph into a "summa" or total, leading to a "summa
omnium summarum" at the close of the year, but the arithmetical result is
somewhat perplexing as the figures stand in the Roll.
When Alan of Walsingham enters on the office of Sacrist some thirty
years later, the yearly compotus will be found to take a clearer and more
business-like form which facilitates the comparison of the expenditure of
one year with another, and enables any purchase to be found under its
Clement of Thetford's Compotus requires some dissection before a
general idea of its contents can be arrived at.
The Bishop who appears occasionally in the Roll was Bishop de Luda,
who had been consecrated on Oct. 30, 1290. By the entries he seems to
have been in London about the end of March 2 , at Balsham Manor about
Lady Day 3 , and he may have come into residence at Ely or Downham in
September, as a present by way of hospitality was then sent to him — a usual
offering on such an occasion 4 .
An entry at the beginning of the 3rd quarter (Lady Day to St John the
Baptist's) concerning 6 golden rings and 6 covering tiles on a sarcophagus,
probably refers to the burial of the late Bishop John de Kirkeby, to whom
a tomb was placed in the Cathedral 5 .
Bishop de Luda's absence from the diocese a little later seems to be
marked by the entry that the Sacrist's "socius" journeyed to Norwich to
obtain chrism from the Bishop of that diocese 6 .
The Prior to whom (p. 7) a gift of an exhennium was given was John
Saleman or Solomon of the Goldsmith family.
1 1238, Matt. Paris, Chronica majora. Rolls Series. Luard, iii. 501. 125;,, ibid.
vol. vi. 240.
2 " Cuidam eunti apud London, ad Episcopum," p. 5.
3 "In expensis versus Balsham ad Episcopum," p. 7.
4 "In uno exennio misso Episcopo,'"' p. 10.
5 " Pro vij anulis aureis emptis, pro sex cooperturis ad Saicofagum," p. 7.
6 " In expensis Socii mei versus Norwic. pro crismate querend.," p. 7.
(goff Qto* U 3
The Sacrist's duty of providing candles for the altars of the church
occupies a prominent place in the Roll. The wax and tallow are obtained
in 3 purchases from Lynn amounting to ^72. is. 8d. ; and in the octave of
the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, the chief manufacture for the year
took place, the parishioners of the two Ely parishes being called in to take
their share of the work, and receiving in food or money some portion of
the large sum of nearly ^14.
Other purchases the Sacrist makes at the different fairs. On
St Edmund's day, Nov. 20, he purchases rice, sugar, etc., at the Bury
fair 1 . At Barnwell, wheels, axles, etc. for carts 2 . At St Botolph's
(Boston), wine 3 — at Reche, steel and iron 4 . At London principally things
needed in the Vestry for the service of the Church. For such things
we may suppose a spring journey is taken after Ladyday, "for the
expenses of some one going to London and returning — pro vestimentis
querendis 5 ." In the spring, too, he looks after the fish-ponds, and
purchases fish for them 6 .
The farm house at Tydbreye, which belongs to the Sacristy, is a place
of retreat for Sacrist Clement. On St Withburga's Day he receives a party
of the brethren and of the townsmen of Ely there, expending jQi. \s.od. on
their entertainment. About Trinity, after attending the Bishop's Synod,
he holds his minucio at Tydbreye with his brethren during a week; pro-
viding largely for their food; — a sheep, and calf, chickens, etc., and wine 7 .
From the 1st Quarter of the year to the last the tax collector was
at hand at Ely in the 13th century as to-day. The King's tax for the year
was one fifteenth, and a visit has to be made early in the year to London
concerning arrears unpaid; a second journey and a third follow on the
same errand and payments and expenses amount to ^10. 7^. od. 8 Later
in the year two persons, Philip and Richard, have to journey to town to
pay the tenths 9 , with a fine of £1 to the Bishop of Winchester who was
collecting them. And in the 4th Quarter the usual tithes for the Sacrist's
Temporalities and Spiritualities are entered amounting to ^14. 3s. 3jd.;
the tithe due on the property at St Botolph (Boston in Lincolnshire) was
four year&in arrear 9 .
1 " In nundinis Sci. Edmundi...amigdalarum," etc., p. 4.
2 "In nundinis de Bernewclle pro iij paribus rolarum," etc., p. 8.
3 " Pro uno doleo vini empt. apud Scum. Botolphum," p. 10.
4 " Pro calibe et ferro et cust. axium in Nundinis de Reche," p. 8.
5 Page 7.
6 The fish-ponds of the Monastery lay in the low land in what is now called the park.
The fish-ponds of the Bishop remain in part in the garden of the present palace.
" In lupis aquaticis ad viuariam," p. 7.
7 Page 8. 8 Page 4. 9 Page 10.
4 Qfoff (Jt0* *♦
There occurs a payment of 5^. in each half-year, which as it is repeated
in the form of a single payment in every subsequent Roll, may be fitly
referred to at once and explained.
Capellano Stephani Mareschalli $s. or 10s. By a special deed the
Sacrist was bound to find and to pay for a secular chaplain to say mass for
the soul of a certain Stephen Marshall, and was prohibited from using the
services of one of the regular chaplains attached to the churches of Ely
which were under him 1 . One special entry in Roll ix. b, page 118, is
more explanatory on the subject and gives the name of the secular
chaplain then employed.
"Paid to Dom. Martin Chaplain celebrating in the Chapel for the
soul of Stephen Marshall from the Monday following St Andrew's Day
to Christmas 2 ."
The servants employed in care of the Church and other minor officials
of the Sacristy are paid quarterly, at the close of each quarter.
The entry at the close of the Roll recounting the cost of a New House
naturally excites some interest : it runs thus :
"Expenses about the New House from Michaelmas for stone and
timber and other necessaries; and for the roofing of the Houses, together
with wages of Masons, Carpenters, and Workmen as appears by the Par-
ticulars in the Roll of the expenses of the aforesaid House ^51. 9^. iod. 3 "
The only indication concerning the position of this House appears in
an entry at the opening of the 4th quarter of the accounts, " For the
roofing and repair of the Camera Infirmar' next to or touching the New
House 4 ."
1 Lambeth MS. 448, f. 56.
2 By a deed of Bishop Hugh of Northwold without date but apparently written
between 1230 and 1240, Stephen seems to have been the son of a blacksmith and a
valuable assistant to the Bishop in ecclesiastical matters. Episc. Registry Liber M,
This Stephanus Marescallus is probably the man who gave a benefaction to the
Church to provide lights for the altar of S. Mary in the presbytery — see Appendix A.
3 Roll i., p. 12.
4 " Plumbariis pro coopertura et reparacione camere firmarie juxta nouam domum," p. 9.
Of this New House, which apparently adjoined the Infirmary, we have no further
account; but there has been preserved a document dated 1277 which refers to certain
agreements between Bishop Hugh of Balsham and Prior John de Hemingstone concerning
the Building by the Convent of a new stone Chamber. It is possible that further research
may reveal a connection between that Building and the Nova Domus.
The erection of the Refectory although perhaps scarcely completed in 1277 had been
commenced as early as 1270. Cf. Lambeth Library no. 448, also "The Architectural
History of Ely Cathedral" (Stewart), p. 261.
(Roff (Ho. u
The Balance sheet at the end of the year, Michs. 1292, is thus given by
Total receipts ...
Total expenses in the four quarters ...
Cost of the New House
Et sic expense excedunt Receptas per
The roll is 38 inches long.
Although the parchment is of a very bad character, the writing is good,
firm, and clear, except in the 1st paragraph, which is illegible.
The receipts are in Dorso.
(goff (Jlo* in £0e Com^otm of (gaff of