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Bishop Hugh of Wells

The earliest surviving rolls for the diocese of Lincoln, indeed of any diocese, date from the time of Hugh of Wells (bishop 1209-1225). The entries shown date from his 14th year as bishop, and relate to the institution of clergymen to the benefices of Little Steeping, Dunsby, Nocton, Hagnaby and Claypole.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/ROLLS/WELLS/1A

Marginal doodles

The Register of Bishop Oliver Sutton, 1290-1300, is the first for the Diocese of Lincoln created in a modern-style book format. From the very beginning the main finding aid was headings and summaries written in the margins of the volumes and rolls. Significant entries were highlighted by the use of pointing fingers drawn in the margin. Those relating to the bishop sometimes also showed his crozier. Occasionally, these marks are elaborated to show faces or animals.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/1 folios 17v, 36v, 83v, 116

Enrolled Will of John of Gaunt, duke of Lancaster, d 1399

John of Gaunt was the father of Henry IV, who was born at Bolingbroke Castle. His will is written in Anglo-Norman French which was the language of the nobility at that time.

A large number of other wills are enrolled in the medieval Registers, including that of Ralph Lord Cromwell, the builder of Tattershall Castle.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/13 folio 13v

Bishop Thomas Wolsey

Entries showing the Ordinations of clergymen officiated by Bishop Thomas Wolsey at Buckden, Huntingdonshire, the location of one of the Palaces of the bishops of Lincoln, on 6 March 1514. Wolsey was briefly bishop of Lincoln in 1514, before being elected as Archbishop of York and, in the following year, appointed as a Cardinal. In this period ordinations are recorded for the Holy Orders of Acolyte (a minor order), Subdeacon, Deacon and Priest.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/25 folio 7

The Restoration

Following the restoration of the monarchy and the established church in 1660, many Puritans were no longer allowed to preach and new priests had to be found to officiate in parish churches. An unusually large number of ordinations of Deacons and Priests were carried out by the Bishop in the period 1660-1662 in an effort to alleviate this situation: there were 698 ordinations in the diocese in just three years.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/31 folio 129

An enrolled Petition, 1685

The churchwardens, and some parishioners of Sutton St Mary, petition the Chancellor of the Diocese for permission to raise the height of the church walls and rebuild the roof flatter. Their church is “very much out of repair the Timber thereof being much decayed and rotten And whereas the Roofe thereof is now very high and steepe and harbours Fowles which much annoyes the Church”.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/ADD REG/3 folios 317v-318

Politics and the Church

Entry showing the induction of Robert Wilby to the vicarage of Butterwick in the place of Martin Pinchbeck, the former incumbent, who had been deprived of his living under anti-Jacobite legislation. 28 September 1702.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/35 folio 89

A sede vacante Register

The business of the diocese continues even when there is not a sitting bishop - a “vacant seat”. The extract shown here records the death of Bishop George Pelham on 7 February 1827, followed by typical Register entries.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/40 p 349


As well as ecclesiastical appointments, the diocese licenced schoolmasters, particularly of Grammar Schools. This entry relates to John White MA, who was licensed as Headmaster of Louth Grammar School on 19 November 1814, following the death of Thomas Orme DD.

Lincolnshire Archives Reference: DIOC/REG/40 p 205

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Last updated: 3 March 2011

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