Thomas Spyre

The first vicar of Cocking listed during the Reformation is Thomas Spyre (also spelt Speyre or Spyer). It is not clear when he was installed, although he is first mentioned in the episcopal registers as vicar of Cocking in 1543.

He was installed as Rector of Stedham cum Heyshott in 1518 and retained this post until his death in about 1549. In 1520, he was installed as Rector of St. Peter’s Church in East Blatchington in East Sussex, but resigned the following year. In 1521, the Register of Bishop Sherborne 1508 – 1536 reports the collation of “Thomas Spyre to the Prebend of Wyndham, jam nuper erectam”.Note 1 He retained his post as prebendary until 1528.

The Prebend of Wyndham was founded by Bishop Robert Sherborne in 1521 and was endowed with lands around West Sussex, including at Angmering. In 1523, the medieval Hospital of Wyndham, which had been founded by St. Richard of Chichester in about 1252 as a home for sick clergy, was suppressed by Bishop Sherborne, with the revenue going to the Prebend of Wyndham.Note 2.  In 1535, the living from the prebend of Wyndham was estimated at £9 16s.Note 3


Note 1         “Jam nuper erectam” translates as “recently created”.

Note 2         A prebendary is a canon who has an administration role in the cathedral. A prebend is the form of benefice held by the prebendary, with his stipend drawn from specific sources in the income of a cathedral’s estates.

Note 3         In the mid-16th century, the average annual earnings in England was about £6.