St John's College MS K.54 (James 547)

Copies of deeds of foundation relating to John Dowman. Latin, 1516-26


John Dowman (d. 1526) was the son of William of Pocklington, Yorkshire. He took the degrees of BCL and DCL at Cambridge in 1488 and 1494. Dowman served as rector of various Hampshire livings, as archdeacon of Suffolk and canon of Sarum, as prebendary and canon of St Paul's Cathedral London, as canon of Lichfield and prebendary of Offley, and as precentor of St Mary's Southampton. He requested burial in St Katherine's chapel in St Paul's and bequeathed his law books to Cambridge University and St Clement's Hostel, and his divinity books to St John's College.

1. A contemporary copy of Dowman's foundation charter of the Fraternity or Guild of the name of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of St Nicholas in the parish church of Pocklington, Yorks, and of a grammar school for poor scholars next to Le West Grene, Pocklington. Dowman appoints William Dowman as the first master and John Sowthby and Richard Langthorn as the first guardians of the Fraternity or Guild, and appoints Walter Carr as the first master or instructor of the scholars. Dowman details the statutes for the school, covering daily prayers, the master's stipend and residence, his deputy's stipend, the election of the master, the form of words for his admission (in English), the participation of the master and scholars in church services, the common chest, the illness or absence of the master, and his oath. Dated 3 February 1516/17. (fols. 1-11v).

2. A contemporary copy of the charter founding five Dowman scholarships at St John's College, Cambridge. Dowman gives land in Yorkshire (Burythorpe, Kennythorpe, Birdsall, Langton, Leavening) and Derbyshire (Staveley) to support five scholars, chosen by Dowman during his lifetime and thereafter by the master, guardians and brethren of the Fraternity or Guild of the name of Jesus, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of St Nicholas, Pocklington. Dowman's scholars are to enjoy the same advantages as the College's foundation scholars. They are to come from Yorkshire, with preference being given to Dowman's kindred, and are to have studied at Pocklington school. Dowman's regulations include provision for the Master of the College or his deputy to examine the schoolmaster at Pocklington, and to remove and replace him if found negligent. Dated 1 December 1525. (fols. 12-15).

3. A contemporary copy of the deed of foundation of two chantries in St Paul's Cathedral London. The indenture is between Richard Pace, Dean of St Paul's on the one part, and John Dowman and William Barde, London fishmonger, on the other. Barde gives an annuity of twenty-two pounds, payable to him by the master and guardians of the Guild or Fraternity of St Katherine of Haberdashers in London, in perpetuity to the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's for the maintenance of two priests to officiate in two chantries founded by Dowman. Dated 12 March 1525/6. (fols. 15-16).

Bound at the front of the volume is a document relating to an ecclesiastical law suit between Margerie Walker, wife of John Walker of Richmount in the diocese of Winchester, and William Warde. The document contains the date 1509 and refers to Richard bishop of Winchester – Richard Fox held this office 1501-28. Written on one side of a single folded sheet of parchment, in a cursive hand.

Manuscript extra information

295 x 205mm. 1 leaf + 17 folios. Parchment, pricked and ruled. Binding: late eighteenth-century quarter leather and marbled paper over pasteboards; 'Dowman's foundation' tooled in gilt on spine. The main text is written in two fine hands of Gothic appearance. Item 1 opens with a handsome foliate nine-line initial U, in brown ink on a pale yellow ground. Item 2 opens with an uncoloured shield bearing Dowman's arms.

A note at the head of the front flyleaf reads 'Gough's Sale 1810', putting the volume at one time in the possession of the antiquary Richard Gough (1735-1809). It later came into the hands of Sir Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872), as the inscription 'Phillipps MS 8169' at the foot of folio 1r shows. The manuscript was purchased for Robert Forsyth Scott by Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge at the sale of the 'Bibliotheca Phillippica' on 27 June 1908 (lot 245) for the sum of £13.5 (note pasted inside back board and description cut from sale catalogue pasted inside front board). Scott, who served as Master of St John's College 1908-33, presented the manuscript to the College Library in 1921 (book label inside front board).