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Discovering the provenance and history of the Caius and Lambeth choirbooks.

The Caius and Lambeth choirbooks, the chief repositories of the music of Robert Fayrfax and Nicholas Ludford, are the most complete manuscripts of their type to have survived from the reign of Henry VIII.(1) Noteworthy is their remarkable similarity, not only in terms of size, general layout and hand, but also in repertory. The man responsible for their production has long been held to be Edward Higgons, a prominent Tudor lawyer and multiple pluralist who was a canon of St Stephen's, Westminster, where Ludford was employed from the early 1520s. The writings of Geoffrey Chew and Paul Fugler have provided a palaeographical and iconographical introduction to Caius and Lambeth, and have established that both manuscripts were largely copied by the same person.(2) Their provenance has, however, been left entirely to speculation until now.

On the last page of the Caius Choirbook is written the inscription `Ex do no et opere Edwardi Higgons cuius ecclesie canonicis', which may be translated as `By the gift and work of Edward Higgons, canon of this church'; the `ecclesia' is now believed to be St Stephen's. The origins of the Lambeth Choirbook have been much less well understood, though it has been generally accepted that it too was produced for one of the ecclesiastical institutions with which Higgons was associated.

In this article I shall introduce genealogical records and new archival documents which cast light on the hitherto unknown origins of Edward Higgons, who, after a successful legal career in Shropshire and Westminster, retired in 1520 to the mastership of Arundel College in Sussex. There he was joined by two brothers: John, who held the manor house of Bury (five miles north of Arundel), and Humphrey, who became a singing man of Arundel College shortly after Edward's arrival. I shall also demonstrate that a manuscript roll containing Ludford's music found in the archives of Arundel Castle was copied by the person who produced Caius and Lambeth, which leads to the hypothesis that both books originated from Arundel. I shall trace a plausible line of descent for the Lambeth book from Arundel College to Lambeth Palace Library, its final resting place: strong circumstantial evidence points to its possession by Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, the bibliophile John Lumley, and Archbishop Richard Bancroft, founder of the Lambeth Palace Library.(3)

Edward Higgons

Since early this century, the inscription in the Caius Choirbook was thought, not unreasonably, to indicate that Edward Higgons was the scribe of these manuscripts.(4) This theory gave rise to a distorted image of Higgons as a great Tudor musician and music copyist, until recent research suggested that he would have been far too involved in current affairs to have had the time or inclination to copy large music manuscripts. The word `opere' most likely implies that it was through Higgons's enterprise (i.e. his financial support) that these magnificent choirbooks were executed.(5)

As well as being a prominent legal advisor to the Tudor court, Higgons held at least 13 rectorships and four canonries, in counties as geographically dispersed as Wiltshire, Shropshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Surrey, Lincolnshire, Sussex, Middlesex and Montgomeryshire. Benefices (or royal grants) were frequently issued to the elite of Tudor society simply to confer status or recognize service, and to provide an additional source of income. Their holders were in most instances not directly involved with the institutions concerned, although, as in Higgons's case, some offices may have been granted near the residence or interests of the holder. Fortunately the dates of a large majority of Higgons's appointments are known, and are of help in identifying his movements throughout most of his active career. They can be seen to follow a coherent geographical and chronological pattern, showing that he was based chiefly in Westminster during the height of his legal career, and at Arundel College during the last 18 years of his life.

The Higgons family genealogy, not hitherto noticed by musicologists, provides a fairly accurate record of the family's pedigree from the 15th to the early 17th centuries (see table 1). In 1634 an Edward Higgons, whose great-grandfather was John Higgons (being a younger brother of the earlier Edward Higgons), entered his family's pedigree in the Heralds' Visitation of Sussex. From this and other Sussex visitations and historical documents, William Berry, an early 19th-century antiquarian, further reconstructed the Higgons family tree in a study encompassing all the major early Sussex families, which was subsequently published in 1830.(6) Berry commences his account of the Higgons family of Sussex with a description of a certain Richard Higgons of Shropshire. Richard's eldest son is given as a John Higgons, also of Shropshire, whom Berry shows to have been a lessee of Bury Manor in 1526, a property under the jurisdiction of Arundel College; the second son is Edward Higgons, LL.D., styled simply as Master of Arundel College; while a third son, Humphrey Higgons, was later added to this generation and shown to have died in 1565. The remaining generations are firmly rooted in Sussex, either as holders of Bury Manor or as resident in other villages surrounding Arundel. The original visitation documents were compiled over one hundred years after the first record of the Higgons family in Sussex, which might account for the number of discrepancies found in Edward's generation. These discrepancies are evident when one studies two separate accounts of the same Higgons family in the 1623 visitation of Shropshire, which record the ancestry back five further generations and fill gaps in the earlier part of the Sussex record.(7) Another important document recently uncovered is the will of John Higgons made in 1539, a year after Edward's death, in which Edward is mentioned in his capacity as master of Arundel College, and Humphrey acts as John's executor.(8)


The Higgons family appears to have flourished in Church Stretton (also known as All Stretton) and Shrewsbury, Shropshire, throughout most of the 15th and early 16th centuries. John Higgons states in his will that his father, Richard, was buried in the parish church of St Julian in Shrewsbury. (Richard Higgons is therefore unlikely to be the same person as the composer represented in the Eton Choirbook, who is known to have spent most of his working life in Wells.)(9) Richard apparently married twice and had five sons: Peter, Edward, Richard, John and Humphrey. It is difficult to place the brothers in any precise chronological order as the Shropshire and Sussex records conflict at certain points.(10) As indicated above, the Sussex record states that John was the eldest; Shropshire, however, lists Peter as the first son and Edward as `fil. et haer. vtriusque juris Doctor' (`son and heir, doctor of both laws [i.e. canon and civil]'). In the respective visitations Peter heads the Shropshire line of the Higgons family and John the Sussex line. However, the fact that Edward is acknowledged as `son and heir' suggests that he was the eldest son, and either John or Peter was the second son; Richard and Humphrey were most probably the youngest brothers.

Edward Higgons must have been resident in Oxford for some years before 1501, when he entered holy orders and was ordained subdeacon and deacon on 6 and V March respectively at St Frideswide's Priory (now Christ Church Cathedral). He had also taken his B.Cn.L. and B.C.L. by this date.(11) His whereabouts in the seven or eight years after 1501 are unclear, although it appears that at some point he moved to London or Westminster to embark on a legal career. By 1504 he had already begun to accumulate royal benefices for his services to the crown, attesting to his success at court. By 1508 he is found operating in the legal courts in the vicinity of his home county of Shropshire. In a document dated 13 March of that year he is described as a public notary, working in the Coventry and Lichfield diocese (in which diocese Church Stretton lay at this time).(12)

Higgons was almost certainly based in Westminster between 1509 and 1513, when he is known to have sat as a judge on the Court of Requests at Whitehall.(13) However, from 1513 to 1517 he seems to have returned to Shropshire; during this time he no longer served on the Court of Requests and received a number of benefices attached to that county. On 7 June 1513 he was appointed to the deanery of the royal free chapel of St Mary in Shrewsbury on the resignation of a certain Adam Grafton. (Higgons is described as a clerk and one of the king's chaplains.)(14) Perhaps more significantly, Higgons was appointed rector of Church Stretton, the town of his parents, on 12 December 1514,(15) which provides the first link between the Higgons family and the Earls of Arundel. From at least the early 16th century the Earl of Arundel served as a patron to members of the Higgons family, although the origin of this relationship between the two families is not dear. Upon the death of a certain `William Higgyns', Edward Higgons was appointed to the rectorship of Church Stretton. Edward's patron was `Richard Hyggons' (presumably Edward's father), who acted in the absence of Thomas Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel, through the Earl's proctor `Peter Hygyns'. the latter may have been Edward's younger brother.(16)

On 9 July 1518 Henry VIII granted Edward Higgons a canonry and prebend stall at St Stephen's, Westminster.(17) Approaching his early 50s, Higgons was at this time probably settling into retirement from his mainstream legal activities and the position may be seen as his golden handshake from the crown. While he enjoyed the benefits of being attached to this prestigious royal chapel, and his interest in the music performed there is attested to by the Caius inscription previously mentioned, he most likely did not hold the canonry in a residential capacity.(18) He was to occupy the majority of his remaining days outside London, and on 28 August 1520, doubtless owing to his family's earlier connections with the Earls of Arundel, he was elected to the mastership of Arundel College (illus.2).(19) It is probably no coincidence that the majority of his benefices were awarded before this date, and the move from Westminster to Arundel would also indicate his impending retirement from the centre of court life (although there is evidence to suggest that Higgons still advised the king on certain legal matters, including the divorce of Catherine of Aragon). The post of Master of Arundel College was not a royal benefice, but a position elected by the brethren of the college as head of one of the most important collegiate foundations in early Tudor England.(20)


A rundel Castle Archives Ms. A340 and the Caius and Lambeth Choirbooks

The rich musical history of Arundel College was introduced by Roger Bowers and William Summers in 1984, following Summers's discovery of a parchment roll in the archives of Arundel Castle containing the bass part of a previously unknown votive antiphon, Gaude flore virginal), by Nicholas Ludford.(21) The music was copied on to the back of a 15th-century account roll which Roger Bowers has identified as a single membrane from a longer roll forming a list of receipts from manors under the jurisdiction of the Honour of Arundel in the lordship of the Earls of Arundel.(22) The account roll, catalogued as Ms. A340, seems to be a rough draft of material intended to be transcribed neatly as a formal copy (now lost); this may explain why it was soon discarded and less than a hundred years later its blank verve used to copy music. The inscription `hundredum et Curia de Nundinis de Arrundell', added to the top left-hand corner of the music side of the roll by a 16th-century hand, shows that it was catalogued as an archive of the Arundel estate.

Bowers supposes that the provenance of the roll is fairly dear, and that it must have originated from one of two Arundel institutions: the household chapel of the Earl of Arundel, as an archive of the earldom, or the collegiate chapel of the Holy Trinity, as an archive of Arundel College. Bowers offers the former as the more probable origin, despite the absence of any documentation relating to organization and constitution of this `household chapel'. There is, in fact, no evidence to suggest that such a chapel choir existed. However, as Bowers's research has shown, it is known that a rich musical tradition was maintained in the chapel of the Holy Trinity at Arundel College since its foundation in 1380.(23) A well-preserved, though incomplete, series of the college accounts surviving in Arundel Castle shows that the foundation regularly provided for four clerks, four choristers and two acolytes, who with 12 residential chaplains and a master constituted the entire choral staff. (The numbers of clerks and choristers fluctuate from one year to the next, especially in the late 15th-century accounts, owing chiefly to extra deputies who were brought in from time to time to cover an illness or death in the choir. As late as 1535, when the commissioners of Henry VIII's Valor ecclesiasticus surveyed the college, the official choral staff still numbered four clerks, four choristers and two acolytes.)(24) Bowers has shown that this musically ambitious chapel once boasted the employment of Richard Blome, Nicholas Hutchyn and Walter Lambe (the last composer is represented in the Lambeth Choirbook),(25) and a list of chapel members can be drawn intermittently between the years 1404 and 1543, the year before the college's dissolution.(26)

Most significantly, the Arundel music roll Ms. A340 can be shown to have been copied by the person who produced the Caius and Lambeth choirbooks, which, with Edward Higgons's known association with Arundel College, leads to the inescapable thesis that the origin of Caius and Lambeth is likewise Arundel. The palaeographical evidence that the two choirbooks and the music roll are of the same hand is overwhelming. Ms. A340 is Written in black void notation, with black full coloration; the notation of Caius is in black full throughout, with black void coloration. The majority of works in Lambeth are similarly copied in black full, but also contain examples of red full and, fortuitously in an anonymous setting of Gaude flore virginal), black void--the same text and notation used in Ms. A340. It is difficult to imagine why the copyist should have chosen black void notation for this particular prayer; nevertheless an example of black void notation from Lambeth allows for easier comparison with Ms. A340.(27)

Ms. A340 is heavily soiled and partially damaged, having for over 450 years been kept loosely rolled up with similarly shaped documents in the dusty confines of Arundel Castle, whereas the contents of Lambeth (and Caius) have long been protected within the closed pages of a large choirbook. Aside from any contrasts in the physical preservation of Lambeth and Ms. A340, the scribal hand is remarkably concordant in almost every aspect of notation and text. Indeed, it is hard to find any convincing examples of discrepancy between the two, suggesting that the two choirbooks and Ms. A340 were prepared within a short period. Compare illus.3 and 4.


The staves in Ms. A340 are freely ruled with a five-pin rastrum.(28) The quality of ruling in both choirbooks varies from one stave to the next, but this seems to be the result of loose or defective quills. There are several instances in each manuscript where the five lines rise and fall together. (Illus.4 does not illustrate this particularly well, but a careful examination of the first three staves shows that a rastrum was indeed used in this source.) It is likely that the staves in Ms. A340 were pre-ruled before the music and text were added, as two blank staves appear at the bottom of the manuscript. This does not, however, seem to be a consistent feature of Lambeth and Caius, although there are instances where more staves are drawn than are required.

The design of the clefs, directs, rests and prefatory signatures in all three manuscripts is identical. The scribe consistency places the signatures directly over the first pair of rests which lie in succession (compare illus.3, stave 9, and illus.4, stave 2). In addition, all aspects of the musical notation correspond. Minims are formed by two strokes: the first begins from the top of the stem, and works down to form a hook to the right, while the remainder of the note-head is created by a second downward stroke beginning from the base of the stem. This procedure frequently results in a slight dip in the top right-hand side of the note-head and a smoother, more controlled, execution of the left-hand side, as well as the occasional gap at the bottom of the note-head (see, for example, the eighth note in stave 2 of illus.4). Semibreves are formed in the same way, with the quill again starting at the top of the note-head. Breves and longs are formed with four separate strokes of the quill, quite carefully produced: the horizontal lines rarely fall short of, or extend past, the vertical lines. Coloured notes and crochets are outlined in the same way as minims and breves, and are simply filled in. This is hard to distinguish in Lambeth and Caius, but quite obvious in Ms. A340, where the ink has worn thin (see, for example, staves 6 and 8 in illus.3).

The text is executed by a bold and clear hand with certain characters distinctively formed, in particular `v' (or `u') and `g' (note the abbreviated form of the word `virgo'; stave 8 in illus.3, and stave 11 in illus.4). The fetter `d' is also distinctive, with the arm extending like a canopy over the body of the letter. Another characteristic habit is the formation of the double `s' where, quite consistently, the first's' tends to slant to the right to touch the top of the second `s', which is usually fairly vertical (see, for example, `piissima', `esse', and `session)' in illus.3, staves 11 and 12, and the corresponding section in illus.4, stave 11). The scribe was inconsistent in his word abbreviation, although when formed in the same way his abbreviations make excellent points for comparison; notable examples may be found in the abbreviated forms of `per', `quicquid', `virgo', and `proxima'. The only immediately obvious inconsistency in the text hand is in the formation of the letter `1': in Lambeth and Caius it appears as a simple vertical stroke while in Ms. A340 it is looped. But this is a relatively minor variable and well within the margin of tolerance.

The identity of the scribe, and circumstances surrounding the survival of the manuscripts

With two large choirbooks containing collectively over 375 pages one could continue such comparisons at greater length, but the above examples from Lambeth suffice to illustrate beyond reasonable doubt that Ms. A340 and the Lambeth and Caius manuscripts were copied by the same scribe. A more pressing issue is his identity. The informal manner in which Ms. A340 was produced suggests that it was copied for use in chapel, and, to judge from its large size, performed from by singers who found difficulty in reading from a choirbook in medio chord. This accepted, it would then appear that Caius and Lambeth are not the products of a professional workshop, but were copied `in house'. A holograph letter by Higgons survives, as well as a document carrying a clear specimen of his signature, but neither bears any resemblance to the text in the music manuscripts or to the inscription in Caius.(29) Additionally, there is nothing in the wealth of biographical material now available on Higgons to suggest that he was a skilled musician--the ascription at the end of the Caius Choirbook attests only to his interest as a patron. The scribe of both choirbooks and of the music roll therefore seems to be a musician based at Arundel College during Higgons's mastership, or a singing-man who might have been associated with both Arundel and Westminster.

The choral staff from the early years of Higgons's mastership may be found in the Bishop of Chichester's visitations of 1521, 1524 and 1527.(30) Unfortunately these lists include no known composers, but those for 1524 and 1527 show that a `Humphrey Hygons' was employed among the clerks. There can be little doubt that this is the same person who is listed in the Sussex genealogies as the younger brother of Edward and John Higgons, and the person mentioned in the latter's will. By 1524/5 Humphrey was already holding property in Arundel like other clerks of the college, so he would appear to have joined the choir some time previously, perhaps soon after the 1521 visitation was drawn up.(31) Unfortunately there is no evidence to support the theory that Humphrey was the scribe of these manuscripts. It is interesting to note, however, that of the three Higgons brothers residing in Arundel in the 1520s and 1530s, only Humphrey lived to witness the dissolution of Arundel College in 1544, after which he would probably have been privy to the fate of the choirbooks commissioned by his brother. (Edward died in 1538, and John, the executor of his will, died in the following year.)(32)

The only known music scribe employed at Arundel around this time is the singing-man Nicholas Wykes, who received payment for the copying of Masses and other works in 1513/14.(33) Wykes was still a member of the choir in 1519/20 but does not appear in the 1521 visitation record of the college, so he seems to have left Arundel at around the time that Higgons became master. It is unlikely that Wykes moved on to Westminster as his name is not recorded among the singing-men in the Westminster lay subsidy roll of 1524/5, nor can it be found in other contemporary Westminster records.

The third possible candidate is Nicholas Ludford himself, whose works occupy a substantial portion of both choirbooks, and who obviously would have had a direct link with Edward Higgons at St Stephen's. The three specimens of Ludford's handwriting recently unearthed offer little in terms of palaeographical evidence (see illus.5).(34) All are signatures written in the early 1550s when Ludford was an old man collecting his pension, some 25 to 30 years after Ms. A340 and the choirbooks were copied. There is no evidence that Ludford ever had any dealings with Arundel College, although it is known that his music was performed there. Additionally, at the top of Ms. A340 are the words `Bassus' and `Ludford' which are almost certainly written by the same hand as the rest of the manuscript (this is apparent from the distinct formation of the double letters `s' and the letter `d', previously discussed). It was not uncommon at this time for an author's signature to be accompanied with the words `by me' or `by mine own hand' or some such variation of the same; if Ludford was responsible for the work, he need hardly have penned his own name at the top to remind himself of the composer's identity.


Although the scribe of these manuscripts remains anonymous at present, it must be more than coincidence that the only two choirbooks to have survived from this period are in the same hand. It is their connection with Arundel College which seems to have saved them from almost certain destruction. Arundel College was dissolved in 1544, but the chapel escaped the vandalism and ecclesiastical spoliation associated with these years. This extraordinary good fortune can be credited to the personal intervention of William Fitzalan, 11th Earl of Arundel. Henry VIII's benevolence toward Arundel College during these turbulent years is noteworthy; as late as the king is found bargaining with the master and fellows for one of their manors (interestingly it was the manor house at Bury, of which the Higgons family were the principal lessees).(35)

In a letter to Henry VIII dated 28 September 1542 William Fitzalan acknowledged the existence and worth of his college, but also petitioned that it might remain in the control of his family and heirs. To this end a forfeiture of 1,000 marks was offered to the crown.(36) No reply from the king survives. In January Henry, Lord Maltravers, succeeded his father as 12th Earl and on 12 September of that year Arundel College and all its possessions were surrendered to the crown. The deed of surrender was duly drawn up and signed by the last master of the college, Alan Percy, and two fellow chaplains.(37) (This action took place 11 months before the legalization of the parliamentary act outlining the suppression of chantries and colleges.) However, it would appear that the officers of Henry VIII never intended to seize the Earl's lands and revenue. On 23 September 1544, only two weeks after the college was suppressed, a patent was issued from the king's court at Westminster returning all possessions of Arundel College to Henry Fitzalan and his heirs. The initial offer of 1,000 marks was duly paid to the crown, and an annual rent of 16 [pounds sterling] 16S 3/4d was fixed on the property.(38) On these terms the Earl regained

... the whole site, circuit, and precinct of the late collegiate church, or college, of the Holy Trinity, the belfry and cemetery of the same, together with the lead, bells, and all other goods and chattels pertaining thereto: all and singular the messuages, houses, buildings, barns, granges, gardens, and fish ponds, belonging to it; and all writings, charters, evidences, and muniments, connected with, or relating to, its possessions, or its inmates.(39)

So brief was the period between the crown's possession of Arundel College and the Earl's subsequent repossession that it is almost certain that in addition to the above list, all ornaments, books, and other goods relating to the chapel of the Holy Trinity remained the property of the Earl and his family.

Towards reconstructing the history of the Lambeth Choirbook

While it is likely that Ms. A340 never left the precincts of Arundel Castle, the subsequent histories of the Caius and Lambeth choirbooks after 1544 are less clear. The Caius book, being a formal presentation copy, was probably given by Higgons to St Stephen's, Westminster, some time in the mid- to late 1520s (possibly as a gift to the chapel's chief officer and verger, Nicholas Ludford). The Lambeth book, being less formally produced, includes a layer of compositions which all appear to be by Arundel musicians (including one work by Walter Lambe), and seems to have been a working choirbook of Arundel College itself.(40) The history of Caius requires further research: space does not permit the elaboration of theories here, though it would appear that the book fell back into the hands of the Higgons family before it was ultimately donated in 1665 to Caius College, Cambridge, by the bibliographer William Crowe.(41) However, if Lambeth may now be accepted to have originated from Arundel College, then a plausible line of descent from there to the library at Lambeth Palace can be proposed, supported by some positive evidence (albeit in some instances circumstantial) for each step.

Lambeth Palace Library, as it stood at the beginning of the Civil War, consisted largely of the private libraries of archbishops Bancroft (1604-10) and George Abbot (1611-33).(42) Bancroft was a great collector of books and built up an impressive library of over 6,000 volumes, including more than 350 manuscripts. By his will, dated 28 October 1610, he left all his books to his successors at Lambeth Palace, thus establishing the first permanent library there. George Abbot, his successor, was interested mainly in printed books: of the 2,667 volumes he added to Bancroft's collection, only 39 were manuscripts. Inventories of Bancroft's and Abbot's books were made in 1612 and 1633 respectively, upon the death of each archbishop. Both, however, were made in a rather perfunctory fashion, the descriptions of most items being somewhat brief. No evidence of the Lambeth Choirbook appears in either catalogue but the manuscript seems to have been part of the library before their compilation.

In anticipation of the extinction of the archbishopric, steps were taken to secure the safety of the Lambeth library.(43) On 17 February 1646 a petition was laid before the House of Lords setting forth an application from the University of Cambridge, whose delegates sought to acquire the collection. In his will, Bancroft had layout specific terms concerning the perpetuity of his library, and the following clause was cited on this occasion:

I give all the books in my study over the cloisters to my successor, and unto the Archbishops of Canterbury successively forever; if he my next successor shaH yield to such assurances as shall be devised by such learned council as my supervisor and executor shall make choice of for the continuance of all the said books unto the said Archbishops of Canterbury successively according to my true meaning; otherwise I bequeath them all to his Majesties College to be erected at Chelsey, if it be erected within the six years; otherwise I give and bequeath them all to the public library of the university of Cambridge. Touching this my bequest and legacy there may be some defect in the same which I desire may be so supplied, as that all my said books may remain to my successors, for that is my chiefest desire.(44)

As an archbishop was no longer at Lambeth to care for the books, and the royal college at Chelsea had not come to fruition, the library was transferred to the University of Cambridge as the only apparent heir under the will. The precise date of the library's arrival in Cambridge is not known, but in 1648/9 Thomas Buck, Printer to the University, was paid 5 [pounds sterling] 7s 8d `for Moneys laid out by him for removing and sorting the Lambeth Books'.(45)

A catalogue of the library, made at Lambeth before the books were moved to Cambridge, was delivered to the House of Commons on 29 April 1647. The Lambeth Choirbook is the 33rd book listed among the contents of folio manuscripts, and is described as `Anonymi Anthemae, Cantus. etc. vol[umine] magno'.(46) Once the collection had arrived in Cambridge another catalogue was made and shelf-marks were assigned to the Lambeth books according to a system already in use.(47) The Lambeth Choirbook is here described in a similar fashion, and was assigned the shelf-mark #T[Alpha]1; `#' signified that it was a manuscript, `T' informed the reader that it was kept on a single shelf (no doubt owing to its exceptional size), and `al' indicated that it was the largest book in the Lambeth collection--hence its modern shelf number Ms. 1.(48)

Upon the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, appeals were initiated by the newly reinstated Archbishop of Canterbury, William Juxon, for the return of the Lambeth books from Cambridge. Juxon's primacy ended with his death in 1663; through the perseverance of his successor Gilbert Sheldon (1663-77), however, the books were finally returned to Lambeth Palace in the following year.(49) It is curious that the origin and contents of the Lambeth Choirbook were apparently unknown to the numerous bibliographers who came in contact with it. The earliest detailed catalogue of the Lambeth books was prepared by a Henry Wharton in 1688, who provided the following description of the choirbook: `Hymn), cantica, et preces Ecclesiasticae, cum Notis Musicis interlinearibus, in volumine membranaceo ingenti pulcherrime descripta, et minio [sic] ornata'.(50) During this time all the books at Lambeth were reordered and classified, largely by Archbishop William Sancroft (1677-93), whose original pressmarks are still in use today.(51)

It would at first seem reasonable to conclude that the Lambeth Choirbook became part of the Lambeth collection at some time between 1633 and 1647; that is, after the death of Archbishop Abbot (it will be remembered that the choirbook does not appear in the earliest inventories of Bancroft's and Abbot's books), and before the library was transferred to Cambridge, when the choirbook is known to have been among the collection. Suspicion then points to William Laud (1633-45), the last archbishop before the Commonwealth. However, most of his private library, including 1,315 manuscripts, was deposited in the Bodleian Library, Oxford; in fact, only a few books in the present library at Lambeth can be found to have originated from his collection.(52) If Laud did not donate the choirbook to Lambeth Palace, how and when could it have entered the collection?

There are several manuscripts presently at Lambeth Palace of unknown provenance. M. R. James noted 31 manuscripts (including the Lambeth Choirbook) which occur in the Cambridge catalogues but not in those of either Bancroft or Abbot.(53) He points out that as these early catalogues are `old-fashioned ... we must allow a margin for simple omissions', although he also acknowledges that several books `are too important in mere bulk to have been passed over'.(54) Here James is no doubt referring to the Lambeth Choirbook, the largest manuscript in the collection; however, it may be that it was because of its extraordinary size that it could not be shelved with the rest of Bancroft's collection.

Fortunately, the provenance of a number of Bancroft's manuscripts can be identified with a fair degree of certainty. For example, James concludes that at least 130 of Bancroft's manuscripts now at Lambeth originally came from the Augustinian Priory of Lanthony II, near Gloucester.(55) More significantly, however, he states that the second largest homogeneous group among Bancroft's collection--some 21 volumes--contain the name of `Lumley' as their previous owner.(56) John, Lord Lumley, is well known as having been a passionate collector of books and having assembled by his death in 1609 one of the most important private libraries in England in his palace at Nonesuch. What is perhaps less well known is that the nucleus of Lumley's collection was formed from the library of his father-in-law Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel--the same earl who witnessed the dissolution and organized the reacquisition of his family's collegiate church and its possessions at Arundel in 1544. Although none of the Cambridge press-marks previously mentioned are now present in the Lambeth Choirbook, there is one distinguishing feature of great importance which seems to have been overlooked by previous writers, including James. Inscribed on the top left-hand side of the verve of the last folio, in an apparently 17th-century hand, are the initials `A' and `L', the latter incorporating a small `I' or `J' (see illus.7). This monogram may represent the names Arundel and John Lumley, perhaps signifying that the Lambeth Choirbook was once part of the great Arundel-Lumley collection, thereby providing a direct link between Arundel College and Lambeth Palace Library.


The story of the Lumley library has been told by various writers this century, the most comprehensive still being that of Sears Jayne and Francis R. Johnson.(57) What concerns us here is how Henry Fitzalan Arundel acquired his personal library. As he was no scholar, and lived an active life in politics as a prominent courtier, it is generally believed that Arundel kept his library more as a showroom than a study. However, the nature of its content must surely have been influenced by us strong Catholic beliefs. Many of his books were acquired by virtue of his acuity in acquiring items from the libraries of dissolved monasteries, and it is evident from his surviving collection in the British Library that he had a particular interest in large folios and fine bindings. Of the several volumes formerly owned by Arundel College (to which, it has been shown, he would have had access), a great choirbook containing some of the musical treasures of the pre-Reformation English church would almost certainly have been one of the books retrieved from the old college library at Arundel to be incorporated among his own private collection at Nonesuch.(58)

Henry Fitzalan had three children--Mary, Jane and Henry--for whose education he greatly expanded his library. Shortly before 1553 his daughter Jane married John Lumley, from which time the couple resided principally at Lumley's estate in County Durham. Henry Fitzalan (fils), Lumley's old classmate, died in 1556, and in the following year Arundel's wife and daughter Mary also died, leaving him virtually bereft of family. In 1557 Lord Lumley and Jane removed permanently from Durham to Nonesuch, probably at Arundel's request, bringing his extensive library with him to merge with that of Arundel. In 1580 Arundel died of influenza and was buried near his father and great-grandfather in the old chapel of Arundel College. All of Arundel's personal possessions and library were bequeathed to John Lumley. (Henry Fitzalan's estate and title passed to the husband of his late eldest daughter, Philip Howard, Duke of Norfolk, who incorporated the title of Earl of Arundel.)(59)

John Lumley thus had complete control over the library during the last 33 years of his life, although he was active in collecting books for only 17 of those years. In 1591 Lumley passed the deeds of Nonesuch Palace over to Elizabeth I and remained there as a tenant, apparently still in full control of his library. From this time he collected fewer and fewer books, and in 1596, when the collection had reached virtually its final state, he had the library fully catalogued. (The 1596 catalogue has not survived, but served as the basis for the of drawn up in 1609 which does survive.) At this time Lumley seems also to have been more concerned was disposing of his many duplicate volumes than with acquiring new ones: 89 of his duplicate volumes were sent to Cambridge University Library in 1598, and a further 34 volumes went to the Bodleian Library in the following year. Although no record exists of Lumley's gift of at least 21 volumes from his library to Richard Bancroft, it must have occurred sometime between 1580 and 1596; that is, between Arundel's death and when the last catalogue of the library was prepared before Lumley's death. It seems a logical conclusion that the Lambeth Choirbook was part of this gift, and there is a strong likelihood that the manuscript once rested on the shelves at Nonesuch Palace before its arrival in Lambeth.(60)

While there is no direct proof t,hat the Lambeth Choirbook ever belonged to Arundel College or the Arundel-Lumley collection, or that it was part of the library at Lambeth Palace before its first appearance among the Lambeth collection at Cambridge in 1649, the evidence presented above, while mostly circumstantial, is nonetheless more than a little compelling. In addition to providing a coherent narrative thread, connecting the choirbook's production with its present location, the story can also be told in an unusual degree of detail. To summarize the main points: the Lambeth and Caius choirbooks can now be proposed to have been copied in Arundel during the mastership of Edward Higgons and probably by an Arundel scribe. Evidence comes from the fact that the choirbook was copied by the same person who produced Ms. A340, who is likely to have been an Arundel musician. The Caius book is conjectured to have been a presentation manuscript from Edward Higgons, as Master of Arundel College, to St Stephen's, Westminster, and its subsequent history is open to speculation. Upon the dissolution of the Arundel College in 1544 the Lambeth Choirbook probably fell into the hands of Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, whose own great collection of books was wholly bequeathed to his son-in-law John, Lord Lumley. As a generous giver of books, Lumley seems to have presented the choirbook, along with no fewer than 21 other volumes, to Richard Bancroft sometime between Arundel's death in 1580 and the making of the catalogue of his own library at Nonesuch in 1596. In 610 Bancroft bequeathed his books to his successors at Lambeth Palace, where the collection grew under George Abbot. The archiepiscopal library, including the Lambeth Choirbook, was temporarily located in Cambridge between 1649 and 1664, since when the collection has resided in the library at Lambeth Palace.

(1) Cambridge, University Library, Ms. 667; London, Lambeth Palace Library, Ms. 1.

(2) G. Chew, `The provenance and date of the Caius and Lambeth Choirbooks', Music and letters, li (1970), pp.107-17, and P. Fugler, `The Lambeth and Caius Choirbooks', Journal of the Plainsong and Medieval Music Society, vi (1983), pp.15-25.

(3) This article summarizes the findings presented in D. Skinner, Nicholas Ludford (c.1490-1557): a biography and critical edition of the antiphons, with a study of the collegiate chapel of the Holy Trinity, Arundel, under the mastership of Edward Higgons, and a history of the Caius and Lambeth choirbooks (DPhil thesis, U. of Oxford, 1995).

(4) See M. R. James, A descriptive catalogue of the manuscripts in the library of Lambeth Palace, i (Cambridge, 1930-32), p.1n. This view was later accepted by various writers including Hugh Baillie and Frank Ll. Harrison.

(5) R. Bowers, in Cambridge music manuscripts, 900-1700, ed. I. Fenlon (Cambridge, 1982), p.127.

(6) W. Berry, County genealogies: pedigrees of the families in the County of Sussex (London, 1830), p.71. The copy in the West Sussex County Record Office was heavily annotated C.1930 by J. Comber with information gleaned from other Sussex visitations, including that made in 1570 by John Pecke, Mayor of Winchelsea, printed privately in 1845 by Sir Thomas Phillipps. (Three copies are in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, where a 17th-century manuscript visitation of Sussex also survives--Ms. Rawl.B.435.A., f72--lacking a number of names given in other sources.) For a summary of Sussex visitations, see Visitations of Sussex, and 1634, ed. W. B. Bannerman, Harleian Society, liii (London, 1905),

(7) The Shropshire branch of the Higgons family survives in two manuscripts: London, British Library, Ms. Harley 1396, ff.128v-129, and Ms. Harley 1241, f.125 (new foliation). See Visitation of Shropshire, 1623, ed. G. Grazebrook and J. P. Rylands, Harleian Society, xxviii (London, 1889), p.240.

(8) West Sussex County Record Office, STC 1/2, f.135.

(9) N. Sandon, `Richard Hygons', New Grove.

(10) The Shropshire visitations show that Richard had all five sons with his first wife, Margerie, daughter of an Edmund Forster of Wellington, Shropshire; the Chrishan name of his second wife is not given, although she came from the family of Charleton in Appelley. John and Humphrey appear in Harley Ms. 1241 in place of Edward and Richard, and are absent in Harley 1396.

(11) See A.B. Emden, A biographical register of University of Oxford to AD 1500, ii (Oxford, 1958), p.932.

(12) Registrum Ricardi Mayew, Episcopi Herefordensis, ed. A. T. Bannister (London, 1921), pp.26, 29.

(13) The Court of Requests, also known as the `Court of Poor Men's Causes', dealt chiefly with civil cases and hearings of criminal matters. It was set up in the reign of Henry VII and its judges were furnished by members of the ancient Star Chamber. See Select cases in the Court of Requests, 1497-1569, ed. I. S. Leadam (London: Selden Society, 898); references to Higgons occur on pp.cix, cxxii (n.153).

(14) Calendar of letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII, ed. J. S. Brewer, J. Gairdner, and R. H. Brodie (London, 1862-1932), i, 4184.

(15) Higgons did, however, gain benefices in other counties at this time. On 1 January 1515 he was made rector of Chislehurst, Kent, and on 26 October of the same year rector of Newington, Surrey see Emden, A biographical register of the University of Oxford, p. 932. I am grateful to Roger Bowers for pointing out that in early 16th-century England it was not uncommon for individuals to acquire benefices attached to their home county.

(16) Registrum Ricardi Mayew, p.282.

(17) Letters and papers, ii, 3227.

(18) It is dear that a certain number of St Stephen's canons served in a residential capacity, and Higgons was not among this company. See Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.35-8.

(19) West Sussex County Record Office, EP 1/1/5, f.17. A transcript of relevant portions of the registers of the Bishop of Chichester made for Arundel Castle Archives sometime in the late 18th century (Arundel Castle Archives, Ms. FA 18) erroneously gives the year of Higgons's appointment as 1517.

(20) Masters at Arundel College were normally selected from among the college brethren, although the statues stipulated that candidates could be sought from outside the community if there were no suitable internal candidates. See Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp. 87-92.

(21) R. Bowers and W. Summers, `New sources of English fifteenth- and sixteenth-century polyphony', Early music history, iv (1984), pp.298-304.

(22) Bowers and Summers, `New sources', p.301. 23 Bowers and Summers, `New sources', p.301. On the early history of Arundel College, see M. A. Tierney, The history and antiquities of the castle and town of Arundel (London, 1834), and Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.86-93

(24) Valor ecclesiasticus, ed. J. Caley and J. Hunter, i (Record Commission, 1810), p.314.

(25) Bowers and Summers, `New sources'.

(26) See Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.94-108.

(27) Detailed measurements for Ms. A340 may be found in Bowers and Summers, `New sources', p.298; for Caius see R. Bowers in Cambridge music manuscripts, p.`26; and for Lambeth see P. Fugler, The unpublished antiphons in the Lambeth Choirbook: an introduction, source study, edition and commentary (MA thesis, U. of Exeter, 1978), p.3.

(28) Curiously, Fugler states that a rastrum was not used in Caius and Lambeth, and that the lines were ruled separately. See Fugler, `Lambeth and Caius Choirbooks', p.16.

(29) London, Public Record Office [PRO], SP1/128, p.89; London, British Library, Add. Ms. 38656.

(30) West Sussex County Record Office, EP 1/1/5, f.106v and EP 1/1/4, ff.94 and 101. Listed in Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, p.118.

(31) J. Cornwall, ed., `Lay subsidy roll, 1524-5', Sussex Record Society, Ixi (Lewes, 1956), pp.43-4: `Humfre Hegons'; a `Felys Howchyn', probably a relative of Nicholas Hutchyn, also appears in this document. See Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.106-8.

(32) For information regarding Higgons's final years and the establishment of the Higgons family in Sussex, see Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.126-30.

(33) Bowers and Summers, `New sources', p.303n; Arundel Castle Archives, Ms. CA24: `... ac in denariis solutis Nicholao Wykes pro le prykyng diversum missarum et aliorum cantnum per mandatum magistri.'

(34) PRO, E407/60. Twelve miscellaneous notebooks of Nicholas Brigham, a teller of the Exchequer, covering payments for the reigns of Edward VI and Mary I; the books are neither numbered nor foliated, and seem to have strayed from the teller's receipt books normally classified in E40s (for these, see A. Ashbee, Records of English court music (Aldershot, 1992), vii, p.xx). One of the 12 books includes receipts from and issues to former members of St Stephen's Chapel, and contains two payments to Ludford listed under `Annuities': one of 6 [pounds sterling] for the quarter ending Easter in the first year of Mary's reign (1554), and one of 3 [pounds sterling] for the quarter ending 24 June in the same year. Ludford signed for both. In the same year Ludford collected 28 [pounds sterling] 6s for John Vaughan, a former canon of St Stephen's, for which he also signed.

(35) Letters and papers, xvi, g.1056(69); xvii, 258 (53 [pounds sterling]). Henry VIII received `the manor or lordship of Burye, in Burye, Westburton, Hurste and Sonde in Sussex, and the woods called Tymberley, Southwood, Prestcombes, Newe Wood, Fernfelde, and Marsshewood'. The manorial jurisdiction of Bury was very extensive, containing around 5,500 acres, most of which was reputed to have been excellent hunting grounds. See T. W. Horsfield, The history, antiquities, and topography of the County of Sussex (Chichester, 1835), p.148.

(36) Tierney, The history of Arundel, p.612.

(37) Tierney, The history of Arundel; Letters and papers, xix, 734.

(38) Tierney, The history of Arundel.

(39) Tierney, The history of Arundel, p.612n; Letters and papers, xix, g.800(35).

(40) Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.148-52.

(41) For possible theories regarding the history of Caius and its association with St Stephen's, see Skinner, Nicholas Ludford, pp.168-87, and D. Skinner, forthcoming article in Musical times.

(42) The following discussion on the history of Lambeth Palace Library during the Commonwealth is largely reliant on A. Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library, 1610-1664', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, ii (1958), pp.105-26.

(43) Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library', p.113.

(44) London, Lambeth Palace Library, Ms. 577, p. 58; see also Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library', p. 105.

(45) J. B. Mullinger, The University of Cambridge, iii (Cambridge, 1873-1911), p.336, and Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library', p.116.

(46) Oxford, Bodleian Library, Ms. Arch. Seld. B.5, f.65v, `Catalogus omnium librorum a bibliotheca Lambethana ad Academiam Cantabrigiensem transmissorum'. This is apparently the original list. Archbishop Selden was on the committee for settling the affair and presumably retained the catalogue.

(47) Now Cambridge, University Library, Ms. O0.7.51. Reference to the Lambeth Choirbook is on f.77v.

(48) On the early Cambridge pressmarks, see E. G. W. Bill, A catalogue of manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library: MSS 1222-1860 (Oxford, 1972), p.2.

(49) On the return of the Lambeth collection from Cambridge, see Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library', pp.119-26.

(50) London, Lambeth Palace Library, Ms. Wharton 580, p.25.

(51) I am grateful to Miss Melanie Barber, the present archivist at Lambeth Palace Library, for providing this information.

(52) Cox-Johnson, `Lambeth Palace Library', p.110.

(53) M. R. James, `The history of Lambeth Palace Library', Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society, iii (1963), p.1. James's account was completed in 1935, but not published in his lifetime.

(54) James, `The history of Lambeth Palace Library', iii, p.28.

(55) James, `The history of Lambeth Palace Library', iii, p.10.

(56) James, `The history of Lambeth Palace Library', iii, p.13.

(57) For a history of the Lumley collection of books and manuscripts, see The Lumley Library: the catalogue of 1609, ed. S. Jayne and F. R. Johnson (London: British Library, 1956).

(58) Of the 21 Lumley books now at Lambeth Palace, two bear Arundel's name. Ms. 6 is a large, beautifully illuminated, early 15th-century volume of the chronicles of St Alban (possibly from St Alban's Abbey), while Ms. 51, an even larger book, is a late 1sth-century gradual. It is possible that the latter book came from Arundel College, if not acquired by Henry Fitzalan from a similar institution at the Reformation.

(59) The Lumley Library, ed. Jayne and Johnson, p.6. Jayne and Johnson point out that Arundel spends several paragraphs in his will (PRO, PROB 11, 1 Arundel) explaining how he had left everything to Lumley, and that he wished his son-in-law to remain sole beneficiary, so there is no confusion as to the fate of Arundel's possessions.

(60) For a comprehensive list of the Arundel-Lumley books now extant in the British Library, see J. Milsom, `The Nonsuch Music Library', Sundry sorts of music books: essays on the British Library collections, ed. C. Banks, A. Searle and M. Turner (London, 1993), pp.146-82.

David Skinner, co-founder of The Cardinall's Musick, recently gained his doctorate from the University of Oxford. He is currently preparing a book on the Caius and Lambeth choirbooks.
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Title Annotation:Music In and Around Tudor London
Author:Skinner, David
Publication:Early Music
Date:May 1, 1997
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