The Rev. Philip, his surname is not known, was St Neot's "Leprous Vicar" in 1314. The information on this page has been taken from two books by F C Hingeston-Randolph (1889) edited from The Registers of Walter Bronescombe (AD 1257-1280) and Peter Quivil (AD 1280-1291) Bishops of Exeter and (1892) The Register of Walter de Stapeldon Bishop of Exeter (AD 1307-1326).


The first book, Bronescombe/Quivil, details the institution of vicars in St Neot in 1265 & 1279 (p176) and taxation of St Neot by Pope Nicholas IV in 1291 (p467). This book covers the later portion of the reign of Henry III and the first part of the reign of Edward I


Page 176

The 5 after "Master Martin de" informs us that there was a blank in the original Register that was never filled in!


Page 467


The second, the de Stapeldon book, shows that the Church at St Neot was Re-dedicated on the 14th October 1321 (p137) & the institution of a vicar, Sir John Achym, in St Neot on the 10th December 1318 (p256). This book covers almost the entire reign of Edward II.


Page 137



Page 256


The de Stapeldon book also provides the story about the arrangements made in 1314 regarding the vicar who had leprosy (p342). The church, during the middle ages, adopted a very supportive attitude towards the illness and its clergy who caught it. This is illustrated by the picture below.



A bishop instructing clerics suffering from leprosy” from Omne Bonum by 14th-century clerk James le Palmer (British Library, MS Royal 6 E VI, vol. 2, fol. 301ra). Medieval depictions of leprosy commonly showed the victim to have red spots.



Page 342


Below is the above typed out for easier reading!


Ordinacio super sustentacione vicarii Sancti Nioti


Apud Sanctum Germanum, die Luna proxima post festum Sancti Edmundi Archiepiscopi, Episcopus remisit domino Radulpho Retyn presbitero, custodi seu coajutori deputato per eundem Episcopum domino Philippo, perpetuo vicario ecclesie Sancti Neoti in Cornubia, lepre morbo laboranti, onus calculandi super administracione sua in dicta custodia. Et dabit statim idem dominus Radulphus ad elemosinam dicti Episcopi viginti solidos, et singulis annis durante dicta custodia viginti solidos, solvendos in festo Nativitatis Sancti Johannis Baptiste; primo termino solucionis viginti solidorum annuorum predictorum incipiente in festo Nativitatis Beati Johannis Baptiste proximo secuturo. Et ordinavit ulterius quod, quia sine periculo idem vicarius non potuit inter sanos ita communiter prout consuevit conversari, quod idem vicarius habeat meliorem cameram, cum domibus adherentibus eidem, excepta aula, ad inhabitandum, comedendum, et bibendum; et quod obturetur hostium inter predictam cameram et aulam, et fiat hostium de novo ad predictam cameram exterius in loco competenti per quod idem vicarius cum opus fuerit egressum habeat et ingressum; et cloaca similiter ad dictam cameram in loco competenti. Item quod prefatus dominus Radulphus solvat dicto vicario singulis septimanis pro sustentacione sua in cibis, potibus et calceatura et ceteris minutis necessariis duos solidos sterlingorum, et singulis [annis] in festo Sancti Michaelis in Septembri vel circiter viginti solidos pro roba sua, quodque sustineat domos dicte vicarie, tam illos quas inhabitat dictus vicarius quam ceteras domos omnes dicte vicarie; et omnia onera ad dictam vicariam spectancia interim subeat et agnoscat. Et super dicta ordinacione habuit literas tantum.


Register of Bishop Stapeldon, ed. Hingeston-Randolph, p. 342


The translation below is courtesy of Dr O Padel


Ordinance concerning the maintenance of the vicar of St Neot


At St Germans, on Monday after the feast of St Edmund Archbishop [= Monday 18 November 1314], the bishop assigned to Ralph Retyn, priest, guardian or coadjutor [= assistant] appointed by the bishop for Philip the perpetual vicar of the church of St Neot in Cornwall, suffering under the sickness of leprosy, the task of reckoning concerning his management in the guardianship. Ralph shall immediately pay 20s. towards the alms of the bishop, and 20s. every year, as long as the guardianship continues, payable on the feast of the Nativity of St John the Baptist, the first term of payment of the yearly 20s. beginning on the next feast of the Nativity of St John.


He further instructed that, since the vicar could not, as formerly, associate with the healthy without risk, he shall have the better chamber, with the buildings attached to it except for the hall, for living, eating, and drinking; and that the doorway between that room and the hall shall be blocked, and an external doorway shall be newly made for that chamber, in an appropriate place, through which the vicar may have egress and ingress when necessary; and a drain similarly for the chamber, in an appropriate place.


Also that Sir Ralph shall pay to the vicar every week, for his maintenance in foods, drinks, and footwear, and in other small necessaries, 2s. sterling; and every year at or about Michaelmas 20s. for his clothing; and that he shall maintain the buildings of the vicarage, both those which the vicar inhabits and all its other buildings; and shall undertake and acknowledge all costs pertaining to the vicarage in the meantime. Concerning this ordinance he has received letters only.


[Philip, whose surname I have not discovered, had been appointed as vicar at some unknown date after 1279 (when a William de Tottonia [= Totnes] was appointed to the vicarage); he was appointed probably during the episcopacy of Thomas Bitton (1292–1307), for which records have not survived. Philip seems to have lived until Monday 23 October 1318, on which date the vicarage fell vacant (Stapeldon, p. 256), and Sir John Achym of St Neot was instituted on 10 December 1318.]


Albeit one hundred and fifty years prior to our St Neot vicar catching the disease, part of this quote below shows that the attitude of some in the church towards Lepers, although segregating them was not overtly hostile or without compassion.


“In contrast to efforts to limit and restrict their lives, medieval communities sometimes were compassionate for people with the disease. In the twelfth century, at least in England, there was a strong sense of charity for people with leprosy (Mac Arthur, 1953). For example, Queen Matilda the spouse of Henry I, was known widely for her charitable acts toward the people with leprosy (Rubin, 1974). The English King John (1204) allowed people with leprosy to have a portion of all flour sold at market. In 1163, the Bishop of Exeter allowed them to enter the markets to collect food or alms and gave them special begging privileges.”

H.C. Covey / The Social Science Journal 38 (2001) 315–321 (page 319)


The word "Leprosy" came into the English language via Latin and old French. The first attested English use is in the Ancrene Wisse, a 13th-century manual for nuns ("Moyseses hond..bisemde o þe spitel uuel & þuhte lepruse." The Middle English Dictionary, s.v., "leprous"). A roughly contemporaneous use is attested in the Anglo-Norman Dialogues of Saint Gregory, "Esmondez i sont li lieprous" (Anglo-Norman Dictionary, s.v., "leprus").


In the Ordinance it is recorded that "...Sir Ralph (de Retyn) shall pay to the vicar every week, for his maintenance in foods, drinks, and footware, and in other small necessaries 2s sterling...". This would have been paid in silver pennies which was what was almost exclusively used for everyday payments. There were 12 pennies to the shilling (s). The vicar would have received 24 silver pennies every week. The only coins minted during the reign of Edward II 1307-1327 were silver pennies, halfpennies and farthings, groats (a four pence piece) had been minted at the start of the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) but not many were made and they were not produced for very long, ceasing production in 1282 and would have been very scarce indeed.


Most poorer villagers would not have used coinage on a daily basis but would have conducted their economy using a barter system. Tradesmen and skilled artisans would have used coins. It has been estimated that a silver penny would have bought approximately two dozen eggs or four pints of ale. Water was unsafe to drink. An Archer (considered to be skilled) was paid about seven pence per week, one penny a day!


Leper's Squint


The alterations to the vicarage would have been to one before the ruins that are beside the present one! It is possible that the "Leper's Squint" in what would have then been the outside wall of the church was constructed at that time. This would have allowed "Philip" whose surname is not recorded, to view Sir Ralph de Retyn conducting services inside the church.


It is probable that vicar Philip lived until Monday 23 October 1318 when it is recorded that the vicarage fell vacant. A new vicar was instituted on the 10 December 1318. If you want to know more about Lepers  and how they were treated at that time click on this link below:-


Silver Penny 1315-1318


The coin pictured is a coin of Edward II minted between 1315-1318 in Durham (Dunelm) it comes from the episcopal mint of Bishop Kellawe. The coin now weighs only 1.3 grams and is 19mm in diameter, it weighed more when first made but is now 700 years old! The two nearest mints to Cornwall functioning at that time were London and Canterbury. There were mints at Bristol and Exeter but they were not used during the reign of Edward II. Launceston minted coins during the reigns of Aethelred in Saxon times and William I & Henry I in Norman times but these would not have been in use in 1314.


 Silver Half Penny 1280-1281

London mint


The halfpenny was even smaller than the penny, this one weighs only 0.52 of a gram and is only 15mm in diameter. Below is  a Farthing (a quarter of a penny), this one was minted between 1302 and 1307. It is even smaller than the halfpenny, it weighs only 0.35 of a gram and measures 13mm x 11mm. This class 10 coin was produced on an oval flan.


Silver Farthing 1302-1307

London mint