Gloucester Cathedral Chapter Act Book 1616-1687

Suzanne Eward

(Record Series 21, 2007)

The book recording the acts of the dean and chapter of Gloucester cathedral in the period 1616-1687 spans a time of far-reaching changes in the life of the Church of England and in the history of the country. It is the earliest such book to survive for Gloucester, and it may well be that it had no precursor. It begins with the installation of William Laud as dean. That was his first major preferment, launching him on the career which took him to the archbishopric of Canterbury and the scaffold, and the book records his attempt to shape worship in the cathedral and the conduct of its personnel in the form which he and his royal masters wished them to take. The record of the proceedings of the dean and chapter cover a wide range, from the formal and long-winded accounts of the installation of deans and canons, through the business of administering the chapter's landed property and the managing of the cathedral precinct, to the appointment of minor officers and alms men and the correction of their shortcomings. While the cataclysmic events of the 1640s and 1650s are represented largely by a gap in the record, the Act Book reflects the later friction between the cathedral establishment with its High Church views and the city, leaning towards Whiggism and nonconformity. The personalities who figure in the book include those of national importance, like Dean Accepted Frewen and Canon Gilbert Sheldon, each to become an archbishop, and local worthies like Canon Abraham Gregory and the self-seeking members of the Wrench family.

xxxii + 187 pages, ISBN 9780900197697