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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 CLC/314
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1394-1982
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 60 production units.
Name of creator(s): St Paul's Cathedral | London


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Minor or Petty Canons were established as a distinct body within St Paul's Cathedral at an early date. They celebrated mass at the high altar and attended all services day and night. The Succentor was additionally responsible for examining the standard of singing of the choristers. The Sub Dean of the Cathedral was traditionally appointed from the Minor Canons. In 1366 Robert de Kyngeston, Minor Canon, left a site for the building of a hall where the brethren could live communally within the Cathedral close. By the terms of their royal charter, 1394, they became a corporate body, 12 in number, only having to eat together in the Common Hall and being allowed to live separately near the Cathedral. The charter established the Warden as the senior administrator of the College, to be elected annually on St Barnabas Day by his fellow-members.

The Minor Canons were financially independent of the canons they represented. Originally their income consisted of a weekly prebend, food allowances and a share of payments from obits. Gradually each of the twelve stalls acquired its own benefice for the maintenance of the stall-holder who would also frequently hold a further living in London or elsewhere. Additional revenues, such as the tithes of the parish of St Gregory by St Paul and, later, fees for showing the cupola to visitors, were collected as income in common. After the Great Fire, 1665, the Common Hall was let and houses on the south side of St Paul's Churchyard, known as College Houses, were built for occupation by the Minor Canons.

The organisation of the Minor Canons survived the Reformation unchanged, apart from a considerable loss of income from obits, but the St Paul's Cathedral, London, Minor Canonries Act of 1875 brought about major financial restructuring. All benefices were taken into the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, fixed annual payments in lieu being made to the College, and the number of Minor Canons was reduced to 6. In addition, the Dean and Chapter were to provide houses for the Minor Canons; these were built in Amen Court in the 1880s.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the College of Minor Canons, Saint Paul's Cathedral. The records comprise: charters and statutes, 1394-1640 (Ms 29410-19); minutes, 1760-1981 (Ms 29420); correspondence, 1966-82 (Ms 29424), accounts, 1722-1958 (Ms 29425-9); title deeds, 1246-1896 (Ms 19932-41, 29430-1, 29440); registers of estates, 1609-1874 (Ms 19859, 29432-3), and miscellaneous papers, 1663-1903 (Ms 29421-3, 29434-9, 30571-4). The covering dates given for the whole collection (1394-1982) are the dates of compilation. These records have been catalogued by various members of staff over many years.

The records are freely available for research with the exception of the minute book from 1872 (Ms 29420/5) and some recent papers (Ms 29424) both of which can only be examined with written permission from the Warden of the College for the time being.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English and Latin.

System of arrangement:

Records arranged by MS number, assigned during cataloguing at the Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section.

Conditions governing access:

Restricted access: please see staff.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to this collection rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The archives of the College of Minor Canons (Mss 29410-40 and Mss 30571-4) have been deposited in the Manuscripts Section of Guildhall Library at various dates since 1993. In addition a number of records, with earlier manuscript numbers, were deposited by the Church Commissioners and the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's Cathedral. The Guildhall Library Manuscripts Section merged with the London Metropolitan Archives in 2009.

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also CLC/313 (Dean and Chapter) and CLC/315 (Choir School).

Publication note:

For further information see A.R.B. Fuller, The Minor Corporations of the secular cathedrals . . . with special reference to the Minor Canons of St Paul's Cathedral . . . (London University MA Thesis, 1947) which also contains photographs of the charters,and W. Sparrow Simpson, The Charter and Statutes of the College of Minor Canons in St Paul's Cathedral (London, Nichols 1871). Both titles are available in Guildhall Library Printed Books Section. A manuscript list of known Minor Canons, 14th century-1908, is bound with the copy of W. Sparrow Simpson's book.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
August to October 2010.

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