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At a Meeting of the Council of THE SURTEES SOCIETY, held in Durham Castle on Tuesday, December 4th, 1877, Mr. Green well in the Chair-it was
RESOLVED, That a selection from the Ancient Charters, Rolls, etc., of Ripon Minster, should be edited for the Society by the Rev. J. T. Fowler.
This volume consists of two distinct parts, viz. the extracts from the Archbishops' registers at York, and the Fasti Riponienses. The former were undertaken some time ago at the suggestion of Canon Raine, whose intimate acquaintance with the registers enabled him to say with confidence that much might be found in them which would be of great interest in connection with the Church of Ripon. To go through all the likely portions of the registers, and extract the portions that seemed suitable for our purpose, was a work of some weeks of close application day by day, and after all it is quite likely that some matters of great interest may have been missed. It is hoped, however, that what is here presented will be thought by many members of the Surtees Society to fully justify all the labour and expense of collecting and printing. To attempt any complete analysis of the miscellaneous materials for Ripon history now made public for the first time would be almost superfluous. Anyone running his eye along the side-notes or the columns of the index, both of which have been made as complete as possible, may see that we have here much that throws additional light not only on Ripon Church history and social life, but is of interest in connection with the history of the Church of England and even of the country. In judging, however, of the moral and religious condition of the clergy and people the same kind of caution must be observed as was recommended in the Preface to the Chapter Acts. When men kept innocency
and took heed to the thing that was right, it was but their duty as Christians or as clerks, and, this being regarded as matter of course, finds no place, as a rule, in the Archbishops' registers. It was when they got into trouble on account of evil-doing or negligence in duty that such proceedings as are here recorded became necessary, and were registered. Accordingly, we find abundant illustration of the evils arising from such abuses as papal provisions, whereby Italian ecclesiastics, real or pretended, held prebends in Ripon ; pluralities and consequent non-residence, still more fully illustrated in the Fasti; the frequent incompetence of deputies; the occasionally unclerkly recreations of principals, etc.--things which went on until all wise and good men felt that a vigorous reformation of the Church was a matter of pressing necessity.
There are some curious and picturesque accounts of degradations of clerks'having the first tonsure,' and who seem by their conduct to have been persons who may be supposed to have taken it solely as a safeguard against being tried in the secular courts for any offences they might feel disposed to commit. The system of compurgation, too, of which we saw a good deal in the Chapter Acts, comes before us again and again. Local history is enriched by much information on the constitution of the chapter, the provision for vicars, and the foundation of chantries, as well as by the frequent indulgences and other provisions for the enlargement and repairs of the fabric of the church. Some minor matters of interest will also be found, such as the veiling of widows, the reconciliation of churches defiled by blood, the prohibitions against marketing in church and lay folk standing in the choir, a complaint from a preaching friar that one of the vicars had maliciously and rashly hindered him in his work, and finally how some sons of Belial' broke into the Archbishop's gaol with axes, chisels, hammers, and other instruments of iron and wood, and let loose the prisoners. At p. 72 will be found proceedings against a Ripon chaplain who was reputed to be the inventor of a pestiferous game called Dyngethryftes, and called himself
the master and abbot of that order'; he was also charged with other offences, and handed over for correction to the Archdeacon of Richmond, within whose jurisdiction, at Aysgarth, he was then living. In the levies, etc., that were made in times of war with Scotland, Ripon is brought into touch with the general history of the country.
Such are some of the principal subject-matters of the extracts, and, as above intimated, some readers, who may not have time or inclination to go through the whole of the original matter, may find it worth while at least to look through the side-notes and index.
The Fasti Riponienses, forming the second portion of the volume, were originally compiled, as is stated on p. 183, by Mr. Ward. It was intended that these collections should form a Surtees volume for 1861, but owing to his death, which occurred December 4, 1861, it was for many years abandoned. Since the present “Memorials' have been undertaken, Mr. Ward's family have again placed his MSS. at the disposal of the society, and during the past year considerable additions have been made to them from the York registers and other sources. They have also been brought up to date, in continuance of what Mr. Ward had done up to within a short time of his death. It would not, of course, have fallen within the scope of the society's work to issue notices of living or lately deceased persons, otherwise than in continuation of a work like the Fasti. We could hardly have stopped short of the Cathedral establishment; and, having mentioned that, it seemed undesirable to stop short of making the work complete up to the time of publication.
It is hoped that a third and concluding volume of these Memorials,' containing the very interesting account rolls and other things which have been too long promised, will appear at no very distant date, the materials having long been all but ready for the press, and only delayed by its having been thought better to issue the Registers and Fasti previously.
The Editor has now the pleasure of once more thanking
those kind helpers who are mentioned by name in the Preface to Vol. I., with whom he would now include his old friend, Mr. George Benson, who has afforded great help by collecting dates of installations and other particulars connected with the later foundations, and is exceeded by no one in genuine love of the Minster and lively interest in all its concerns.
BISHOP HATFIELD'S HALL, DURHAM :