The First Chapter of Canons

Consultative Bodies


From early on in the Church’s history, Bishops had had a group of clerics to help them run their dioceses. So, on 24th June 1852, Bishop Wareing appointed the Northampton Chapter of Canons. Their job was to assist the Bishop in his care for the Diocese and, on the death of the Bishop, the Chapter would succeed to his ordinary and customary jurisdiction. They would have to elect a Vicar Capitular and send up three names of a possible successor.


The first members of the Northampton Chapter were appointed by Bishop Wareing and took their stalls according to seniority in the priesthood. Frederick Charles Husenbeth was elected Provost. He was a learned man with some forty-nine books to his credit, the most important of which was the life of Bishop Milner. The Canons were; John Abbot, Thomas Macquaran (Penitentiary), Seth Eccles, John Dalton, Thomas Quinliven, George Rigby, Thomas Seed, Henry Thrower, Joseph Mayland (Theologian), and John Morris.


In the first session, a letter was read from Cardinal Wiseman, summoning the Chapter to elect a procurator to attend the provincial synod to be held on the 6th July at Oscott. Provost Husenbeth was elected. The early sessions were held in a room, formerly the upper part of the old chapel, afterwards known as the dormitory, which the Bishop gave as the Chapter Room.


The early years saw the gradual making of rules and the steady organisation of the Diocese. The Holy Father was petitioned for the Chapter Mass and Office to be said but twice a year. On 8th May 1855, it was decreed that the Chapter must meet every month and that every Chapter Mass must be said for all the Benefactors to the Chapter, living and dead. It was also decreed that, on the death of a member of the Chapter, a High Mass of Requiem should be sung at the first Chapter meeting afters, followed by Terce and a low Mass offered by one of the Canons for all Benefactors. At this meeting five Missionary Rectors were appointed for Cambridge, Lynn, Marlow, Norwich and Stoke-by-Nayland.


IN the early days, the bishop asked the Canons to pay one shilling for breakfast and he announced that he could not engage himself to provide any other entertainment, as all could be on their way home by one o’clock.


In regard to choral dress, Propoganda in 1968 agreed that the rochet should be allowed to Canons, the cappa parva to Provosts and some further distinctions to Metropolitans. Through Cardinal Wiseman the choral dress was settled and Bishop Amherst, our second Bishop, ordered the Canons to provide, as soon as possible, the dress appointed by the Holy See, even to the smallest detail of form and material. An interesting detail, the origin of which is unknown, is the custom of Northampton Canons wearing a ring at Chapter functions.


And so the Canons began their work with the Bishop of organising and building up the diocese.




“The parish participates in liturgy as a celebration of faith. This celebration then becomes the catalyst for a hope-filled action of evangelisation to the rest of society”

Bishop David Oakley