Foundation Charter of the Collegiate Church of Dunbar – 1342.

Letters of Henry, Bishop of St. Andrews, making known that letters of the late William, Bishop of St. Andrews (containing the erection of certain churches and their chapels, in which the late Patrick, Earl of March and his heirs and successors have and had the right of patronage, into the collegiate church of Dunbar, at the desire of that earl, together with certain statutes), presented to him [Bishop Henry] by Robert Young, dean of the collegiate church, in presence of George, Earl of March began thus: William, Bishop of St. Andrews, confident that he is issuing a decree for a good object and securing the reward of the eternal Lord, ordains the increase of divine worship in the churches subject to him so far as their resources permit. Accordingly, as the revenues of the parish church of Dunbar and its annexed chapels:- Whittingehame, Spott, Stenton, Penshiel and Hedderwick-are large and, through the Lord’s generosity, likely to increase, and with the annexation of the churches of Linton, Duns and Chirnside can provide for more priests and ministers in that church, the bishop, at the request of the patron, Patrick, Earl of March and with the consent of his chapter, erects the parish churches of Dunbar, Linton, Duns and Chirnside with their chapels into a collegiate church, so that in the collegiate church there will be in all time coming a dean, an archpriest having the cure of the parishioners and the parochial chapels, and eight canons holding prebends, in the presentation of the earl and his successors. The dean and archpriest are bound to continuous residence unless non-resident by episcopal dispensation and serve the church in priest’s orders. The other canons who have failed to reside will not only receive nothing from the revenues but a third of their prebends will be forfeit to the use of those resident or to the common fund, three months’ continuous or intermittent absence in a year warranting the withholding of these portions ; nor will the dean, archpriest and other canons, once instituted to their prebends, receive anything from the great fruits [i.e. the rectorial teinds] of their prebends unless they have previously made con tinuous residence, day and night, for two weeks or have had a dispensation; and, in any case, the dean, archpriest and canons, whether resident or not, are to have priests continually residing at the collegiate church, serving it in the proper garb of secular canons, singing the day and night hours, according to the Scottish use, and singing daily two masses, one of the Blessed [Virgin] Mary and the other of the day, and on every second week day a mass, in solemn manner, for the dead-if a feast comes in the way, this mass is to be sung on the next available day ; and the archpriest’s chaplain, when absent from any of the hours on account of the parochial cure, is excused as on duty. The dean’s office involves presiding over the archpriest and the other canons and servants of the church, the correction of their negligence and excesses, the rule of the school, the exercise of ordinary jurisdiction and the regulation of worship. His prebend will be the whole teinds, great and small, and altar-dues of the parish of Whittingehame, where he will have a perpetual vicar whom he will present to the bishop, to whom the vicar’s institution and removal will belong, the vicar to receive ten merks. To the archpriest’s office belongs the cure of the parish, the rule of the parochial chaplains except the vicar of Whittingehame, the supply of the sacraments to the parishioners at the newly built Lady altar in the nave of the church, service [in the choir] in person or by substitute and responsibility to the bishop for his special charge. His prebend is the whole teinds and altar-dues of the parish of Dunbar except the teinds of the chapel of Whittingehame and excluding the teind of wool, sheep and lambs; he will hold all the church lands of the parish save those of the church of Whittingehame. To the other canons, who hold office in the church according to [its] ordinances and [their] standing, prebends are thus assigned : to the canon prebendary of Dunbar the whole township of Dunbar with all its pertinents; to the canon prebendary of Pinkerton the whole township of Pinkerton with all its pertinents ; to the canon prebendary of Spott the whole township of Spott with its pertinents; to the canon prebendary of Belton the whole township of Belton with its pertinents however assigned; to the canon prebendary of Pitcox the whole township of Pitcox with its pertinents except those in any wise assigned to the arch-priest ; to the canon prebendary of Linton the whole parish of Linton with all its pertinents and he will have there a vicar, whom he is to present to the bishop to whom will belong his institution and removal at an annual stipend of ten merks; so of the canons prebendaries of Duns and Chirnside. On the death, resignation or removal of the dean, arch-priest or canons, others will be presented to the bishop by the patron. The remaining revenues of the churches of Dunbar and the annexed chapels will be assigned to the canonical uses of those in residence and an account of the portions is to be given twice a year (non-residents to receive nothing) reserving to the bishop his annual tax, procurations and other episcopal dues in these churches and chapels and annual visitations as well as archidiaconal rights and the jurisdiction of the archdeacon of Lothian over the Arch-priest, the vicars of Whittingehame, Linton, Duns and Chirnside, the parochial chaplains and parishioners as in vogue hitherto. The rebuilding or repair of the choir of the church of Dunbar is to be borne by the dean and canons from their common fund; but the rebuilding and repair of the nave will lie with the parishioners as formerly. The rebuilding or repair of the choirs of the churches of Linton, Duns and Chirnside will concern the respective canons. Should the churches of Dunbar, Linton, Duns and Chirnside be transferred by the bishop with the earl’s consent to a canonry or college of canons, the right and honour of patronage will remain with the earl, who will present suitable men to the deanery, arch-priestship and the other prebends, the dean and archpriest to be instituted by the rural dean of Haddington and the other prebendaries, after presentation to the bishop, by the dean of Dunbar or his deputy. The dean, archpriest and canons are bound to attend the bishop’s synod and the archpriest [in particular] for the making of chrism like other rectors and beneficed clergy. A chapter is to be held daily and especially on Saturday, when excess of negligence is to receive correction and a list of those taking duty for the week is to be written. Immediately the canons have heard of the earl’s death, that day there will be solemnly sung by them at vespers with music the vigils of the dead for his soul. Next day, after the mass of the B.V.M., a solemn mass with music for his soul will be celebrated at the high altar and his obit written in their martyrology or some other book and read out for ever in their chapter once a year and thereafter solemn vigils and a mass on the morrow for his soul performed; the same observances to be made for ever for the souls of succeeding Earls of March, for the bishop’s soul and the souls of succeeding Bishops of St. Andrews. Anything done by the dean and chapter contrary to these statutes or any claims subversive of their privileges shall be of none effect. Before their institution, the dean, archpriest and canons will take oath to do nothing contrary to the present ordinance; and if they do so, they are to be removed from their benefices by the bishop and others presented in their place. The dean and chapter will have a common seal enclosed in a common chest, which is closed with the seals of the dean, archpriest and one of the canons until, with the consent of the dean and chapter, it is opened when use or necessity arises. At the high altar of the church of St. Andrews, Patrick, Earl of March, took oath never to violate the ordinance of the bishop and chapter, granted that all his successors shall be bound by a similar oath and consented that on his infraction or theirs, 100 poundlands of his land shall fall, without legal process, to the church of St. Andrews for ever and that the bishop and his successors shall not be bound to admit a presentee in contravention of the present ordinance, which he has approved. The seals of the bishop, the chapter and the earl are attached in the chapter, where the transaction took place, on St. Matthew’s day [21st September] 1342. After the presenta tion of these letters, Robert Young, the dean, with the consent of Earl George, craved that the bishop would confirm them and the statutes contained therein. Accordingly, Bishop Henry, with the consent of the prior and chapter and of George, Earl of March,ratifies and confirms these letters and statutes ; and his seal and the common seal of the chapter and the earl’s seal are attached at St. Andrews on 23 October 1429 and the 27th year of the bishop’s consecration.

 Domino largiente ‘ may, however, mean ‘by the generosity of the lord (earl).

We shall happily provide the original Latin text should anyone wish a copy.


Other pages in this section: