Religion was a constant for medieval Londoners. The vast majority were Christians (Jews were expelled from England c. 1290) and identified strongly with their local parish, which provided not only religious services, but also charity and a strong social community, particularly through the many parish gilds or fraternities that Londoners could join. Monasteries, priories, and hospitals were all run by religious orders and represented one of the chief landlords of London because of the numerous properties they owned.
This section has four parts: 1) Religious Houses; 2) Hospitals; 3) Parishes and Fraternities; and 4) Clergy.
For an introduction to these religious institutions, see The Religious Houses of London and Middlesex, ed. Caroline M. Barron and Matthew Davies (London, 2007), which reprints the original descriptions of religious houses published for the London (1909) and Middlesex (1969) volumes of the Victoria History of the Counties of England (the VCH), but with new bibliographical introductions, revised lists of the heads of houses, and additional maps and figures. The London VCH and Middlesex VCH volumes on religious houses are available online at BHO. See also Nick Holder, The Friaries of Medieval London: From Foundation to Dissolution (Woodbridge, 2007) for an interdisciplinary approach that draws on archaeological, architectural, cartographic, and documentary evidence.
The London Franciscans C. L. Kingsford, The Grey Friars of London (Aberdeen, 1915). Contains the Latin Register of this Franciscan convent, which records details about the structures and monuments in the church and cloister, donations of rents and property, the names of friars and those buried at Grey Friars, and other documents relating to the history of the convent and the Franciscan order. The Appendix contains a wide variety of other documents, such as leases, payments for saying masses, and records relating to the dissolution of the convent in the sixteenth century. Originally published as volume 6 of the publications of the British Society of Franciscan Studie See also Additional Material For the History of the Grey Friars, London, ed. C. L Kingsford (Manchester, 1922 ). A companion volume to The Grey Friars comprising addenda, corrigenda and additional documents. It also includes extracts of wills relating to the Grey Friars (1374-1543.) Originally published as part of Collectanea Franciscana 10 (1922). On BHO.
St. Bartholomew’s Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great The Records of St. Bartholomew’s Priory and St. Bartholomew the Great, West Smithfield: Volume 1, by E. A. Webb (Oxford, 1921). A history of the Augustinian priory until 1560, when it was dissolved. St Bartholomew the Great was a hospital founded for the sick poor; its staff included a master and both brothers and sisters. The volume also includes Latin transcriptions and English abstracts of many primary sources, including rentals, charters, letters patent, and wills. On BHO.
Parishes and Fraternities:
Churchwardens’ Accounts of St Mary At Hill The Medieval Records of a London City Church St Mary At Hill, 1420-1559, ed. Henry Littlehales (London, 1905). Middle English transcriptions of the accounts of parish revenues and expenses kept by the churchwardens, elected lay representatives of the parish. They include accounts from 1420-29, 1476-1559, as well as inventories of the church furniture (1431, 1523, 1553), and inventory of the content of the house of John Port, c. 1531.
Members of the Fraternity of St Nicholas The Bede Roll of the Fraternity of St Nicholas, ed. N.W. James and V.A. James, London Record Society, 39 (London, 2004). The Fraternity of St Nicholas was the brotherhood of parish clerks. Bede rolls were lists of people to be prayed for, in this case, c. 7000 people between 1449 and 1521 who joined the fraternity. Members included c. 900 parish clerks (and c. 300 of their wives), as well as clergy and nobles, but most members were middle-ranking Londoners who paid to become members of the fraternity expecting extra prayers, and the more elaborate funeral ceremony that the parish clerks could provide. Among the members were lay choir clerks and professional ecclesiastical musicians.
Taxes and Rent Assessments of London Clergy The Church in London 1375-1392, ed. A. K. McHardy, London Record Society, 13 (London, 1977). Lists: (1) clergy who paid the subsidy of 1380 in London and the poll taxes of 1379-81 in London, the archdeaconry of Middlesex, and the deanery of Bow; (2) a 1392 assessment of rents on properties held by ecclesiastical landlords in London, organized by ward; (3) acta of William Courtenay, Bishop of London, 1375–81. On BHO.
London Clergy Virginia Davis, Clergy in London in the Late Middle Ages: A Register of Clergy Ordained in the Diocese of London Based on Episcopal Ordination Lists 1361-1539 (London, 2000). Includes a CD-ROM containing a database (using Idealist software) of c. 30,000 secular and regular clergy ordained in London, along with a short book that introduces the database.