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1372 A trade in Churches

The senior prelates of the Church grew used to taking the profits from the rents, tithes and crops provided by the "livings" to which they were appointed. Not surprisingly they grew accustomed to swapping the churches they had been appointed to for others as they became available, particularly if the latest church living available happened to provide a lot more profit. This was of no consequence to the humble parishioners, they would have a clerk to look after their spiritual needs paid a small wage from the profits taken by the absentee cleric.

Here Simon, now a wealthy and senior cardinal at the court of Gregory XI traded in the relatively poor church of Monks Wearmouth in the Diocese of Durham for the more substantial pickings that could be had from Somersham (pictured right) in the Diocese of Lincoln. As he was based in the papal court of Avignon he did not worry himself with the details, but was represented in the transaction by his English proctors William Palmer and John Rudeby:

Memorandum qdz decimo nono die mensio augusta anno domini millesimo ccc(mo) septuagesimo secundo in capella marii de lidyngton Lincoln dioc coram reverendo predicte domino et dei gratia epo lincolnensi personaliter constituti fuerunt domino William Palmer canonicus Derbeye lich dioc et Johanus Rudeby clericus benendissimi in Christi procuratoris domini Simonis tituli sancti sixti presbyteri cardinali rectoris ecclesie paroch de Wermouth Dunelmensis dioc et discreta viri domini Thome de Neweby rectoris ecclesie paroch de Somersham Lincoln dioc ac canonica in ecclesia Lincoln et prebendary prebend de Brampton in eadem ad infrascripta procuratores sufficint et legie consecrati domini Will et Johanus dicta beneficia ecclesiastica nomine procuratores quo superium in sanctus manus reverendorum in Christi patrii dominorum dei grati linc. Eadem gratia Dunelm episcoporum ex causis permutatonis faciende successime et non alte resignarint in forma que subsequentur seriose. In dei nominee amen.

Memorandum that 19th day of the month of August in the year of our lord 1372 in the chapel of Mary of Lydington in the diocese of Lincoln in the court of the reverend Lord aforesaid and by the grace of God bishop of Lincoln as was agreed personally with Lord William Palmer, canon of Derby in Lichfield diocese and John Rudeby clerk and most blessed in Christ proctors of Lord Simon, titled Cardinal Priest of St Sixtus (this was the honour title granted to Simon Langham) rector of the Church of Wearmouth in Durham diocese, and separately with master Thomas de Neweby rector of the parish church of Somersham in Lincoln diocese and canon of the cathedral of Lincoln and prebendary priest of Brampton in the same to the undersigned proctors sufficing and bequeathing to the holy lords William and John the said benefice by named proctors of their superior, into the sacred hands of our Lord in Christ, father lord (bishop) by God's grace of Lincoln. By the same grace the Bishop of Durham in the cause of making the exchange successful and not seriously effecting the form of the succession, resigns (his right to the benefice to enable the exchange). In the name of God amen.

Ego Wiliem Palmer canonicus Derbeye lich dioc procurator benedissimi in christo dominus Simonis tituli sancti sixti presbyteri cardinal rectoris ecclesie paroch de Wermouth Dunelm dioc ad infrascripta spiritualiter depricatus ecclesias paroch de Wermouth predicta in sanctus manus reverendi in christus presentis domini Thome dei gratia episcopi Dunelm (Thomas Hatfield) ut altius cuiuscumque potestate in hac parte licentis ex causa permutationis de ipsa cum ecclesie parochiale de Somersham linc dioc ac canonicatu et prebenda de Brampton in ecclesie linc.

I, William Palmer, canon of Derby in Lichfield Diocese and proctor of the most blessed in Christ Lord Simon titled Cardinal Priest of St Sixtus, rector of the church of Wearmouth in Durham diocese as undersigned spiritually cede the parish church of Wearmouth aforesaid into the sacred hands of reverend in Christ Lord Thomas, by grace of God bishop of Durham so that whatever power on his part may be used in the cause of exchange of the same with the parish church of Somersham in Lincoln diocese and a canon and prebend of Brampton in Lincoln diocese.

From John Buckingham, Bishop of Lincoln's register X, folio 301 (Lincoln Record Office)