Early churchwardens' account, St Mary Major

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. IX, (January 1916 to January 1917), pp. 220-223.


Ethel Lega-Weekes

Prepared by Michael Steer

The author reveals a comprehensive record of very early churchwardens’ accounts from one of Exeter’s oldest congregations. The Church of St Mary Major, formerly Exeter Minster pre-dated the first Exeter Cathedral by some five centuries, was rebuilt several times, but was finally demolished in 1971. It was situated to the immediate south-west of Exeter Cathedral, the site today being a grass lawn. The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 187. EARLY CHURCHWARDENS' ACCOUNT, ST. MARY MAJOR (Translation). - Account of John Sporier and John Root*, Wardens of the store of the Church of the Blessed Mary Major, Exeter From the Feast of St. Michael Archangel, A.D. 1410, II Hen. [IV.] to the same Feast, A.D. 1411, 12 Hen. [IV]

ARREARS (Arr') The same render account of 33s 9 ½d. - arrears (i.e. Balance) from the last Account of the preceding year.

                              Sum 33 9½d.

FIXED RENTS (Reddit' Ass') And of 13s 4d - rent from two shops in North Street, Exeter, which Ralph Swayn now holds.

And of 13s from the tenement late Peter Trobrigge's in South Street, in the parish of Holy Trinity, which Thomas Eston now holds by deed (cartam) for a term of 58 years, this 12th year from the giving of the same.


* The early Churchwardens' Accounts of this parish were believed to have been all destroyed by fire, but I came upon this one account written on a small roll of parchment) among the large collection of ancient deeds belonging to the Charity Feoffees. I have deposited in the Exeter City Library a transcript in Latin which some readers may care to compare with this translation. It is to be wished that all the Feoffees' Deeds could be transcribed in toto, as they contain many personal names and other particulars omitted in the MS. Schedule of this collection made by Samuel M. Cox, solicitor to the feoffees, in 1836.


And of 2s- from a certain place formerly Nicholas Taverner's in Smythyn-strete, which Will. Scotisham, butcher, now holds.

And of 12d- from the Tenement formerly Will. Hele's, outside the West Gate, which John Goodman acquired anew (ex novo).

And of 18d - from a chamber next the Church of St. Petroc, Exeter, which John Nymet held, when alive, on the west side of the little lane or " thrange " leading from the Cemetery of St. Peter's to the said church of St. Petroc.

And of 3s- 4d - from the tenement which Nicholas Goodman formerly inhabited in the parish of St. Petroc.

And of 5s - from the tenement formerly of Thomas Pik', now in the hands of the Mayor and Commonalty of Exeter.

And of 2s - from the tenement of John Candeler in High St., Exeter, opposite the Church of St Stephen, which John Hill, Knt. (miles) lately held, and Robert Hille [or Hulle] his son, now holds.

And of 12d - from the tenement of John Oxton, which the aforesaid John held when alive and which the said Robert his son now holds; which tenement lies in South Street Exeter and is now inhabited by John Brasyvter.

And of 2s - 4d - from the tenement of Andrew Lapflode, formerly Rector of the Church of the Blessed Mary Major, outside the East Gate with the adjacent garden.

And of 2s- 4d- from the tenement in St. Paul's Street, Exeter, formerly Hugh Ferrour's, which John Jolybloe now holds.

And of 4s - from the tenement of Baldwin Bolle.

                              Sum 51s l0d-


And of 3s 4d - received from the legacy of M[aster] Richard Wikeslond.

And of 11s 7d - collected from the parishioners on Easter Day called "Wex siluer."

And from sale of wool of the Store, this year 18d -

                              Sum 16s 5d.

                             Total sum of Receipts with Arrears 102s - 1/2d

DEFICIT OF RENTS (Defect' Redd') Whereof they reckon in deficit of rent from the tenement formerly Thomas Pyk's 5s because it is in the hands of the Mayor and Commonalty of Exeter.

In deficit of rent from the tenement formerly Andrew Lapflod's outside the East Gate 2s- 4d

In deficit of rent from the tenement formerly Baldwin Bolle's, which used to yield 4s - but now yields no more than 2s - and thus there is a deficit of 2s -

Sum 9s- 4d -

EXPENSES. For one flagon and threequart [s ?] of oil, bought, 21d -

For 4 lbs. of Paschal candle (parschcandel) bought for saying Mattins on feast days in winter-time 6'd -

For I lb. of green candle bought for Christmas night 2d

For 12 lbs. of wax bought against the Feast of Easter 5s - thus at 5d - per lb.

For making up the same wax 6d-

For washing† of vestments and surplices 7d-

For expenses gone.to, about the rent of Baldwin Bolle, and (? Swearing against ‡ the Warden and College of Vicars Choral of the Cathedral Church of Exeter several items this year 6s- 8d

For one flagon of wine for . . . of the church 6d -

For nails bought of Nicholas Ma[rschel] for the door- way above the bell tower and one little chest in the vestry, for placing the Church books [in] , viz. (? in) the altar there 6d.

Item, to the same for one round plate of iron (disco ferr') for the Thurible, and 1 nail for the coffer that is in the vestry l0d

For grease for the church bells this year 1 ½

For I cord bought for the lamp 1/2d

For tile-stone (lapid' tegl) bought for repairing the church 5s- price per thousand 2s- 6d.

For carriage 15d -

For grease (unctur') bought for the west door of the church, 8d –


The great Paschal candle, a column of wax of exceptional size, stood in a massive candlestick on the Gospel side of the High Altar. It was lighted with much ceremonial from the newly blessed fire on Easter morn, and remained in the sanctuary till Ascension Day. See Churchwardens' Accounts, Dr. C. J. Cox, pp. 60, 161. t

† Loc'oe, a contraction for lotione, a washing, commonly occurring in such accounts, is sometimes mis-rendered locatione, hire.

‡ Jurat' cont'" (contra) [or ?concnd (concernend)']


For mending one wheel for the lesser bell of the church 21/2

For the making of three corporals 10d - with 5d - for red tartarin for the same.

For the mending of the pavement in the nave of the church 6d-

For the mending of the principal chalice of the church 18d -

For one copy of the ... of the Town for the rents of Baldwin Bolle, 4d

For paper bought 1/2d -

                              Sum 28s- 21/2d -

PAYMENTS OF OBITS (Soluc' Obituu')

For the obits of William Taverner, Robert Taverner, John and Nicholas Godman and others 3s-

For the obits of Richard Olyuer, Joan his wife, John Dyrkyn, Agnes Wodelegh and other benefactors of the church 6s 8d -

For divers obits, paid the Rector of this church for (? souls) of [persons who died in] the olden times, 21d -

                              Sum 11s 5d -

                              Sum of all Expenses 48s- 11 1/2d -

And they owe 53s 1d - Of which there is allowed them 2s- of the rent formerly Baldwin Bolle's, which cannot be collected (levari), of last year.

And 2s - of the same rent, of this year because it cannot be ... . and because there is pending the arbitration of Richard Bosonn, Citizen of Exeter, as being newly elected in this negotiation.

                              And they owe 49s 1d -

Of which there is allowed them 6d - for expenses about the Plea (ci') of the rents of Baldwin Bolle for several times.

                              And they owe 48s -7d

Endorsed: — Account of John Sporier and John Roffe 11th and 12th years of H. iiij / 150 151.†

                              Ethel Lega-Weekes. 


* i.e. Clothier from Tartary. See Du Cange.

† The last was presumably the 151st of a series of bygone accounts which have unhappily disapeared.