|THE Constitution of the cathedral of Caithness.|
The constitution of the cathedral of Caithness at Dornoch was modelled, like that of Moray and Glasgow, on the cathedral of Lincoln. Bishop Bricius of Moray had obtained an account of the constitution of Lincoln cathedral in 1212 (Reg. Moraviensis), on which the cathedral of Moray was modelled. Bishop Gilbert's connection with Moray may well explain why the cathedral of Caithness adopted the same model. The cathedral was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and there were to be ten canons, with the bishop an ex-officio member of the Chapter. Five of these canons were to be dignitaries - the dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer, and archdeacon. The church of Durness was assigned for providing light and incense to the cathedral church.
The Dean (decanus) - was the administrative head, and possessed disciplinary power not only over every member of the chapter, but also over the lesser clergy who were engaged in the service of the cathedral. In chapter meetings where the bishop was a canon he was inferior to the dean, though from his spiritual pre-eminence acknowledgement in many ways was made of his dignity; but in the Chapter of Caithness Gilbert expressly says: "We ordain ... that in the said Church there shall be ten canons ... over whom, as their head, the bishop shall preside." And again, after mentioning the other dignitaries, he adds: "next after the bishop these persons are the principal and chief in the cathedral church." This act in itself was a major divergence from the 'norm'.
The dean, unlike he other canons who were appointed by the bishop, was 'elected or postulated' by the whole body of the canons, or by the "greater or saner part of them." The dean's allowance (prebenda) was the church of Clyne, with the whole revenues and pertinents, the teind sheaves of the city of Dornoch and town of Embo, with the fourth part of the altarage of Dornoch and the whole land of Mid Dornoch (Methandurnach). To the dean, in common with the precentor, chancellor and treasurer, there is assigned a "free toft and croft in the city of Dornoch" and the church of Farr with its whole revenues, except the teinds and revenues of Hallidale (which was only a chapel). The churches assigned to these dignitaries were to be free from all burdens to the archdeacon, officials and rural deans. In later times the dean had a deputy, the sub-dean, who acted in his absence.
The Precentor (cantor) - or chanter, was next in dignity to the dean. He regulated the services, the music, and admitted to office the singing boys, saw to their instruction and discipline, and appointed the teacher in the song-school. The precentor of Caithness had, as his prebend, the church of Creich, with its whole revenues, pertinents and chapels, the teind sheaves of Pronsy, Evelix, Strathormarly (Stradormali), Astle (Asdale), Rearquhar, the fourth part of the altarage of Dornoch, and the whole land of Uachdar Innis (Huctherhinche or Hoctor Common), Upper Meadow, at Dornoch; with a free toft and croft in the city of Dornoch and the church of Farr, with its whole revenues except the teinds and revenues of Hallidale, in common with the dean, chancellor and treasurer. His church was to be free from all burdens to the archdeacon, officials and rural deans. The precentor was appointed by the bishop. In later times the precentor, when absent, had a deputy, known as the subchanter or succentor.
The Chancellor (cancellarius) - was third in rank. It was his duty to see that the service books had been correctly transcribed, to compose the letters and charters of the chapter, to read in the meetings of the chapter letters and documents that had to be considered, to prepare the list (tabula) of singers and readers told off weekly for the several services. He looked after the books in the library of the chapter, and was necessarily a man of some literary attainments. To the chancellor was assigned the church of Rogart, with its whole revenues, the teind sheaves of Skelbo, that is twelve davachs, and the fourth part of the altarage of Dornoch. In common with the dean, precentor and treasurer, there was also assigned a free toft and croft in the city of Dornoch and the church of Farr, with its whole revenues except the teinds and revenues of Hallidale. The chancellor's church was to be free from all burdens to the archdeacon, officials and rural deans. He had also assigned to him in common with the treasurer and archdeacon the whole land of Pitgrudie and the two Herkhenys (which was to be divided between them in equal portions) with the common pasture of Dornoch.
The Treasurer (thesaurarius) - was fourth in dignity. He was custodian of the treasures of the church, relics, and the ornamenta, largely consisting of vessels of silver and gold and costly vestments. To the treasurer of Caithness was assigned the church of Lairg, with its whole revenues, the teind sheaves of Skibo and Cyderhall, except the teinds assigned to the precentor at Strathormlary, and the fourth part of the altarage of the church of Dornoch. In common with the dean, precentor and chancelor, there was also assigned a free toft and croft in the city of Dornoch and the church of Farr, with its whole revenues except the teinds and revenues of Hallidale. To him also, in common with the chancellor and archdeacon, were assigned the whole land of Pitgrudie and the two Herkhenys (which was to be divided between them in equal portions) with the common pasture of Dornoch.
The Archdeacon - whose chief functions were diocesan, in Gilbert's constitution, is specially mentioned as one of the dignitaries. As archdeacon it was his duty to visit the churches in the diocese and to supervise the parochial clergy. He examined candidates for ordination and clerks when presented to benefices. To facilitate his work, parishes in most diocese were grouped in sections, which were known as deaneries of Christianity, each presided over by a dean of Christianity or rural dean. Caithness, like Ross and Brechin, seems never to have been divided into such deaneries. To the archdeacon of Caithness were assigned the churches of Bower and Watten with their whole revenue and pertinents. To him also, in common with the chancellor and treasurer, were assigned the whole land of Pitgrudie and the two Herkhenys (which was to be divided between them in equal portions) with the common pasture of Dornoch.
The dean, precentor, chancellor, treasurer and archdeacon were known as dignitaries (principales personę), and occupied the four terminal stalls when sitting in the choir; besides them were five other canons in the cathedral - the Bishop, the Abbot of Scone, and three ordinary canons.
The Bishop - Bishop Gilbert reserved for the episcopal use six out of the fourteen parish churches then in the diocese, which were probably Golspie (Kilmalie), Loth, Rea, Wick,Thurso and Latherton. The teinds of Torboll and Kinnauld and twenty acres of land at Dornoch, with a toft and croft in the same, were assigned for the support of a vicar ministering on the bishop's behalf in the cathedral.
The Abbot of Scone - who acted as a canon of Caithness ex-officio, had assigned to him the church of Kildonan, with all its revenues.
Three canons in ordinary - had the parishes of Olrig, Dunnet, and Canisbay separately assigned to them, with the church of Skinnet to be held in common, and whose fruits were to be partaken only as was appointed with regard to the church of Farr, and if none of them happened to be resident then the fruits were to go to the maintenance and decoration of the cathedral church, provided one hundred shillings were first paid to William of Ross, clerk of Bishop Gilbert, and three marks to Eudo, his chaplain.
Seven priests and three deacons were also appointed. Each dignitary with the Bishop and Abbot of Scone had to provide a priest to minister for them in their absence. The other three canons had to provide a deacon, who were to assist and serve the priests. Each of these priests was to celebrate divine service every day, unless canonically prevented, and both priests and deacons were to be present at each canonical 'hour', unless any of them through sickness had leave of the bishop or dean. These deputies of the canons were known as Vicars of the Choir, or Vicars Choral, sometimes stallaries (stallarii), that is, vicars attached to the canon's stall, to distinguish them from the vicars in charge of the canon's parish.
A penalty for non-residence is mentioned in Bishop Gilbert's foundation. The dean was to be in residence for the half of every year and all the other canons, with the exception of the Abbot of Scone, were to be in residence for three months, unless they had leave from the bishop or chapter, failing which they were to pay twelve pence weekly, during absence, towards the maintenance and decoration of the cathedral. The Abbot of Scone was not required to be resident at all. Unlike some other of the Scottish cathedrals, Caithness does not seem to have suffered any troubles as the result of non-residence.
|This page was last updated on: 08 January 2006|
© 2005 Cushnie Enterprises