Coventry and Lichfield Diocese

Prior to the Reformation, the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield comprised the whole of Derbyshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire (except for a couple of parishes in the extreme south), northern Warwickshire (including Birmingham and Coventry), northern Shropshire (including Shrewsbury), southern Lancashire (between Ribble and Mersey) and a handful of Welsh parishes. The three diocesan sees were Coventry, Lichfield and Chester: in Latin the bishop was generally referred to as the bishop of Lichfield, in French as the bishop of Chester.

There is a more or less continuous series of ordination lists from the start of the earliest surviving bishop’s register, 1300, enrolled in the registers until 1502 (B/A/1/13); and then a separate ordination register for 1503 to 1532 (14 ii). The whole sequence reproduced here was transcribed by David Bethell from microfilms. The text includes the monitions occasionally made to the ordinands before ordination. Complete lists of subdeacons, deacons and priests were recorded, and in some period acolytes also. Distinction was always made between secular and religious, usually but not always with a note of the title by which the ordinand claimed qualification, either by patrimony, his own self-sufficiency, or a sponsoring house of religion. It is generally assumed, and sometimes specifically stated, that the ordinand was ‘of’ the diocese of Coventry and Lichfield, i.e. was born or at least bred there. Ordinands from other dioceses had to present letters dimissory from their own bishop or ordinary, and in such cases a note is usually made on the ordination register. In all cases the names seem to have been transcribed into the register from the letters presented by the ordinand, and consequently there are some cases where unfamiliar surnames and placenames have been copied corruptly.