THUS this City is signally blessed in respect of the Means and Opportunities of Grace that it enjoyeth. So that what Dr. Hall (afterwards the most pious Bishop of Norwich) observed of it an hundred Years ago in a Spittal Sermon, is much more applicable to it now. "I cannot but thankfully congratulate the Happiness of this famous City; which if in other Riches it equalizeth the best, I am sure in this it exceeds all. There is not a City under the Cope of Heaven so wealthy in the Spiritual Provision; yea, there are whole Countries in Christendom that have not so many Learned Preachers as are within these Walls and Liberties. Hear this, ye Citizens, and be not proud, but thankful. Others may exceed you in the Glory of outward Structures, in the Largeness of Extent, in the uniform Proportion of Streets, or Ornaments of Temples; but your Pulpits do surpass theirs, and your Preaching can lift up Cities to Heaven." I may add, that now in those other Accomplishments this City will scarce give place to any.]

Opportunities of Grace in London.

Spittal Sermon 1618.



The State of the Parish Priests and Parishioners of London anciently. The Offerings to be paid them. Pope Nicolas's Bull for that Purpose. More Contests about Offerings. Articles for a Visitation of the Parishes, Anno 1498. Inquisition in St. Magnus Parish upon those Articles.

AND thus at present it stands with the Churches and Parishes. But since our Business is also to represent the ancient State of London, it must be inquired, in what Condition things stood with the Parish Priests and their Parishioners in former times. And here we shall specify two Particulars that we meet with; viz. The Benefits accruing to the Incumbents of the Parish Churches by Offerings, and what Things were chiefly inquired into, and presentable in the Parochial Visitations.

The ancient State of the Parishes of London.

J. S.

Because the Parish Curates in former times made considerable Benefits by the Offerings of the Parishioners, which were to be made to God in their Churches upon certain Occasions and Days; and were the Priests Dues, but great Contests happened about the Quantity and the Offering Days: Roger, sirnamed Niger [the Black] Bishop of London, a wise and grave Man (possessing the Episcopal Chair from 1229 to 1241) made Constitution for this Purpose between the Priests and the Parishioners within the City and Suburbs; the Tenour whereof was, That according to the yearly Rent that the Inhabitants paid for their Dwelling Houses, so their Offerings should be; that is, after the rate of a Farthing for a House rented at 10s. a Year, and an Halfpenny for a House rented at 20s. a Year; and so proportionably. And these Offerings payable on all the Sundays, Holydays and double Feasts throughout the Year.

The Payments due to the Parish Priests for Offerings.

Bp. Roger's Constitution about them.

But this Bishop Roger's Constitution was not so exact, but that afterwards many Citizens contended with their Curates about these Offerings. For because in the said Constitution he that inhabited an House of 40s. Rent was to pay a Penny on all the Offering Days; and it was not mentioned in the Constitution, that according as the Rent advanced higher, so should the Payments due to the Priest; they refused to pay more than a Penny, were their Rents never so much above 40s. This occasioned Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury, to confirm Bishop Roger's Constitution, and to add an Explanation of that Particular contended about, which was in the Year 1327, by way of Letter to the Maior, Aldermen and Citizens; wherein he pronounced all liable to be cursed with the great Sentence that should disobey.

Confirmed by Thomas Archbishop of Canterbury.

And this was procured to be ratified and strengthened by Letters from Pope Innocent VII. Anno 1404.

And by the Pope. Hist. de Ep. Lond. per H. Whart.

Afterwards a Pretence arose to defraud the Priests of some of these Offerings, by urging, that they were to be paid only on Sundays and the Feasts of the Apostles. Hence one Robert Wright of the Parish of St. Edmund's Lombardstreet, refused Payment of Offerings on the Days of St. Stephen, St. John, St. Innocents, the three Days in Easter and Whitsontide, the Circumcision, the Epiphany, &c. This occasioned a great Process against Wright, and at length the Cause being removed to Rome, final Sentence was given against him. And this occasioned a severe Bull of Pope Nicolas V. Anno 1453, wherein he confirmed the Archbishop's Letters, and made farther Provision in favour of the Curates of London for time to come; and the other Offering Days were established by the said Bull. And a Power was also given to all Ordinaries to make Inquisition about the due Payment of these Offerings, and to ex-communicate such as were faulty therein.

Pope Nicholas's Bull in behalf of Offerings.

This produced a solemn Arbitration made between the London Priests and the Laity, for the ascertaining of these Offerings, and final Settlement of this Matter: And the Arbitrators were several Learned Civilians; viz. Laurence Booth (afterwards Bishop of Hereford) William Radclyf, Lucas Laycock, &c. and they at last made this Composition following:

A Composition for Offerings.

First, That every Person, Dweller, and Inhabitant in ony Houses in London or Suburbys of the same, hired and occupied for the full Rent and Pension of x Shillings yerely, shal offer to God and to the Chyrche, in whose Paryshe such Place standeth, one Ferthing every Day in the Festis that follow; that is to say,

Old Book of Customs.

Every Sonday in the Yere,
Christmas Day,
Purification of our Lady,
Matthei [Matthias] Apostle,
Annunciation of our Lady,
Ascension of our Lord,
Corpus Christi,
Matthew the Apostle,
Simon and Jude,
Andrew Apostle,
Conception of our Lady,
Thomas Apostle,
John Baptist,
Peter and Powle,
James Apostle,
Bartilmew Apostle,
Assumption, and
Nativity of our Lady,