The Minor Clergy of Exeter Cathedral: Biographies, 1250–1548
Exeter Cathedral is rich in its medieval archives, which record not only its buildings but its personnel from the thirteenth century onwards. The present volume lists the names of about a thousand vicars choral, chantry priests, secondary (adolescent) clerks, and choristers who served in the cathedral between 1250 and the Reformation in 1548. It also provides their biographies in so far as these can be constructed, in the form of a medieval Crockford’s Clerical Dictionary.
The book recreates a medieval religious community in almost unparalleled detail. The biographies show that some of the clergy came from the locality and others from elsewhere. Some spent most of their lives in the cathedral while others passed through briefly. There were university graduates, distinguished musicians, and violent or unsatisfactory men, some of whom were dismisssed.
This is not merely a study of the cathederal, however. It traces many of the boys and men back to their places of origin in Devon and Cornwall, and shows how cathedral clergy often left to work in churches elsewhere in the South West. The biographies are therefore an important resource for local history, by providing information about the origins and careers of many of the clergy of the region’s parish churches.
Nicholas Orme has written many books on medieval history and on Exeter Cathedral in particular. His is Emeritus Professor of History at Exeter University and an Emeritus Lay Canon of Truro Cathedral.
The cover illustration, showing the college of the vicars choral in the nineteenth century, is reproduced by permission of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter.
Published by the Devon and Cornwall Record Society, 7 Cathedral Close, Exeter, EX1 1EZ, United Kingdom.
Return to Publications page