RepositoryLambeth Palace Library
Alt Ref NoF V
Extent2 subseries
DescriptionThe chaplains of noblemen were entitled to hold two livings in plurality besides their chaplaincy. Appointments were therefore carefully restricted according to the rank of the nobleman. The Act 21 Henry VIII, c.13 (1529), lists the chaplains who are qualified to claim dispensations and requires them to exhibit letters under the seal of their lord before a dispensation can be granted by the Faculty Office. Only the King's chaplains may accept as many livings as the King may give. A further act, 25 Henry VIII, c.16 (1533), gives the following list of noblemen, restricting the number of chaplains to be retained by each:
Royal family any number
Almoner 2
Archbishop 8
Baron 3
Bishop 6
Lord Chancellor 3
Chief Justice 1
Clerk of the Closet 2
Clerk of the Rolls 2
Comptroller of the Household 2
Duke 6
Earl 5
Knight of the Garter 3
Marquis 5
Secretary of State 2
Treasurer of the Household 2
Viscount 4
Warden of the Cinque Ports 1
Dowagers of all peers though married to commoners 2
Widow of the Clerk of the Closet though married 2
The appointment was in the hands of the nobleman who chose his chaplains and gave them the qualification or appointment deed, with his signature and seal. In order not to grant dispensations to clergy not holding such qualifications it was imperative that all new appointments should be recorded in the Faculty Office. This section consists of the records kept by the Faculty Office to ensure that noblemen did not appoint chaplains over the allotted number and to prevent the granting of fraudulent applications. There are several cases of a nobleman insisting that he has never heard of a man who claims to be one of his chaplains. Once appointed the connection between the chaplain and his lord is by no means close. In many cases the appointment may have been to help a friend, or a friend's son, and often a son succeeds his father in the same post. In 1795 Lady Ailesbury writes to John Groves entrusting him with the supervision of the redecoration of her London house and, at the same time apologising that she has not yet a vacancy for his son. Death certificates, sent in to prove vacancies often many years after the death, show that chaplain and lord might never meet after the appointment. In 1771 Lady Chesterfield claims that she has not heard 'anything of John Robins' and states 'I believe him to be dead'. Lord Cadogan, in 1774, believes that his chaplain 'is dead or did resign'. Owing to the vagueness of the relationship the Faculty Office had to keep a careful record of appointments, resignations, revocations, and deaths.
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