Proclamation of Archbishop Chichesley, against the Lollards (and against English Books) 1 July 1416.
Henry, by the grace of God, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the chief seat; to our reverend brother in the Lord Richard, by the grace of God, bishop of London, health and brotherly love, with continual increase. Lately, in our last convocation in St. Paul’s Church, in London, being kept by you and other our brethren and clergy of our province, we do remember to have made this order under written, by your consents: ‘Whereas, among many other our cares, this ought to be chief, that by some means we may take those heretics, who, like foxes, lurk and hide themselves in the Lord’s vineyard; and that the dust of negligence may be utterly shaken from our feet, and from the feet of our fellow-brethren; in this the said convocation of the prelates and clergy, we have ordained, that our fellow-brethren, our suffragans and archdeacons of our province of Canterbury, by themselves, their officials or commissaries in their jurisdictions, and every of their charges in their country, twice every year at the least, do diligently inquire of such persons as are suspected of heresy; and that in every such their archdeaconries, in every parish wherein it is reported that any heretics do inhabit, they cause three or more of the honestest men, and best reported of, to take their oath upon the holy Evangelists, that if they shall know or understand any frequenting, either in privy conventicles, or else differing in life or manners, from the common conversation of other catholic men, or else that hold any either heretics or errors, or else that have any suspected books in the English tongue, or that do receive any such persons suspected of heresies and errors into their houses, or that be favourers of them that are inhabitants in any such place, or conversant with them, or else have any recourse unto them; they make certificates of those persons in writing, with all the circumstances wherewith they are suspected, unto the said our suifragans or archdeacons, or to their commissaries, so soon and with as much speed as possibly they can; and that the said archdeacon, and every of their commissaries aforesaid, do declare the names of all such persons denounced, together with all the circumstances of them, the dioceses and places, and secretly under their seals do send over unto us the sense: and that the same diocesans effectually direct forth lawful process against them, as the quality of the cause requireth; and that with all diligence they discern, define, and execute the same.
‘And if perhaps they leave not such persons convict unto the secular court, yet notwithstanding, let them commit them unto the perpetual or temporal prisons, as the quality of the cause shall require, until the next convocation of the prelates and clergy of our province of Canterbury, there personally to remain: and that in the same prisons they cause them to he kept according as the law requireth : and that of all and singular the things aforesaid, that is, what inquisition they have made, and what they have found, and how in the process they have behaved themselves, and what persons so convicted they have caused to he put in safe keeping, with what diligence or negligence of the commissaries aforesaid, with all and all manner of other circumstances premised, and thereunto in any wise appertaining; and especially of the abjurations (if in the mean time they shall chance to abjure any heresies), that then, in the next convocation of the prelates and clergy under the form aforesaid, they cause the same distinctly and apertly to be certified to us and our successors; and that they deliver effectually to the official of our court, the same process to remain with them, or else in the register of our court of Canterbury; so that every one to whom such things appertain, for the further execution of the same process, may have recourse unto the same official with all effect.’
We therefore command, that as touching the constitution brought unto your city and diocese, you cause the same in convenient place and time to be published; and that an all points you both observe the same yourselves, and cause it also of others to be diligently observed: commanding furthermore, all and singular our fellow-brethren and suffragans, that they, in like wise, cause the same to be published throughout all their cities and dioceses, and both diligently observe the same themselves, and also cause all others to do the same; and, what thing soever you shall do in the premises, that you certify us betwixt this and the feast of St. Peter ad vincula, next coming, that you duly certify us of these things, by your letters-patent, containing the same effect, sealed with your seals.
Dated at our house in London, the first day of July, Anno 1416.