Leland L. Duncan – about him and his work
An introduction to Leland L.
Duncan's field notebooks by Frank Bamping
OBITUARY. Archaeologia Cantiana Vol XXXVII (1926)
LEWIS DUNCAN, M.V.O., O.B.E., F.S.A.
Lewis Duncan died at Lewisham on 26 December1923, aged 61. He had for some time been in poor health,
but so sudden an end was quite unexpected and came as a great
shock to his friends
Parish Church of St. Mary, Lewisham, and an account of its Vicars
and Curates. 1902.
of the borough of Lewisham. 1908.
History of Colfe's Grammar School and a life of its founder. 1910.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO Archaeologia Cantiana OTHER THAN THAT MENTIONED ABOVE.
Renunciation of Papal Authority in West Kent, 1534. Vol. XVII.
Rectory of Cowden with a list of Rectors.
of Abp. Courtenay. Vol.
Notes on Shoreham. Vol. XXIII.
of Cardinal Bourgehier. Vol. XXIV.
from some lost Parish Registers.
Who would have thought that he who delighted us in, last
summer's  K.A.S. expedition with his illuminative description of
Warehorne Church should so soon have ceased from teaching, and that never again
should we hear that quiet voice and see that kindly smile as he put us in
possession of all that was to be known of an ancient site or building? Under that pleasant friendly exterior was a
wealth of knowledge of the past, a persistent diligence in recording it, and a,
charm of expression which is given to few.
Never in a, hurry to overwhelm a more eager, but less ill formed
brother, his "Don't you think it may be so. and so?" saved
many of us from too quick a judgment and fixed the truth which was obvious to
him so firmly in his hearer, that he in turn could almost believe that he
himself' had discovered it. Ars est celare artem, and this art he
had in perfection. Of his published
work the list is a long one, and this outside of a very responsible post in the
War Office, and when, but a short year ago, he retired from his public work, he
seemed to be endued with a renewal of his untiring energy. In that year he had copied all the ancient
inscriptions in fifteen East Kent churchyards, had transcribed a, large number
of the " Aid " lists in the Record Office, besides many other
documents noted and epitomized for his, Kent work. The present writer can but add this little -tribute to his old
friend. How, after the meetings of the
'Society of Antiquaries be used to walk home with him all through the darkened
streets of London during the long years of the war and discuss many things,
seldom of raid or other dangers, largely of Kent antiquarian topics, and hardly
ever missing asking advice how he could be of service to his “boys" of the
War Office, who were on service at the front, home on furlough, or wounded in
hospital. Always .thoughtful of others,
with no delight in contradiction, his friendship was a, liberal education to me
as we took sweet ,counsel together, and in thought were not divided. Vale,
F. W. C.
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE TRANSACTIONS OF THE ST. PAUL'S ECCLESIOLOGICAL SOCIETY.
dedication, altars, images and lights in parish churches in West Kent. Vol.
commemoration of John Potter of Westerham at Westminster. Vol.
CONTRIBTUTIONS TO THE PUBLICATIONS OF THE LEWISHAM ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY.
Register of St. Margaret's, Lee. 1888.
Inscriptions in St. Mary's, Lewisham. 1889.
of Kentish Wills in P.C.C. 1890.
of St. Mary's, Lewisham. 1891.
Kent Records – Index of Wills (KAS 1924) compiled by Leland L. Duncan
been asked to say a few words about my friend Leland Duncan in introduction to
this Index of Rochester Wills, which he compiled.
Lewis Duncan was born in 1862, the son of Leland Crosthwait Duncan, of the
Inland Revenue Office and of his wife, Caroline Ellen Lewis, also of Government
Official ancestry, her father being in the Paymaster General's Office.
at Colfe's School, Lewisham, under the Rev.
Thomas Bramley, D.D., from 1874 to 1880, he entered in 1882, the War
Office, from which he retired in 1922, having occupied a most responsible and
laborious position with such distinction that he was given the M.V.O. in 1901
and the O.B.E. during the War. He was
elected Fellow of the Society of
Antiquaries in 1890. He died suddenly
on Boxing Day, 1923, after a year of obscure invalidism, which nevertheless,
was characterized by a wonderful total of solid antiquarian work. Whatever Duncan put his hand to, he did it
with all his might. Laborious,
conscientious and most minutely accurate, he was a pattern antiquary with a
power of synthesis which made all he wrote easy to understand and withal,
nothing was left out in the statement of facts. A man of a charming personality, with a quiet musical voice, a
cheerful friendly smile, he was a most entertaining companion, informative and
with the great gift of correcting the erroneous statement of another so that
that other took no offence and was almost persuaded that he had been right all
last year of his life, when emancipated from the responsible work of the War
Office, he seemed to be filled with renewed energy, although troubled with what
was undoubtedly the beginning of the terminal disease. He made a good many researches at the Public
Record Office, tabulated and extracted a large number of Kent Wills,
principally at Lambeth, copied out the inscriptions of no less than fifteen
churchyards, took rubbings of Masons' marks in many of the Weald Churches and
read an interesting and exhaustive paper on the Church at Warehorne, when the
Kent Archaeological Society met there in the summer of 1923. Of his work for his old school at Lewisham,
both in writing its history and furthering its interests in every way others
have written. I cannot omit here how good he was to all under him, always
thinking of his " boys " in the office. When during the War, he and I were walking homewards in the
darkened streets, from the meetings of the Society of Antiquaries, there was
but little talk of raids and suchlike, but much eager questioning as to how he
might be of use to these " boys " whether on furlough, at the Front,
or invalided in Hospital. Ante them periit, but he will always
remain an inspiration.
added a list of his printed works, known to me, but there may be many other
items hidden away in Transactions, Proceedings and similar publications.
Duncan took in hand he carried through to completion and death alone wrote
" Unfinished " on what he had commenced in the last few months of his
life. This Calendar, or Index as it is
being called, in conformity with modern usage, has had a long history. It took Duncan close on seven years to
compile, as he only had an half-hour available most mornings. He made a good many notes, some of which
were printed in " Testamenta Cantiana " and some in the St. Paul's
Ecclesiological Society's Publications, Vol.
III. Then his father wrote out
for him from his note-books the greater part of it, on foolscap paper, still in
the order in which the wills occurred in the registers. The whole work was then checked through most
carefully by Duncan himself, so that he spared no pains to make the Index as
perfect and as correct as it could be made.
In 1917, the late Hon. Treasurer
of the Records Branch, Mr. Churchill, offered to transfer the entries to slips
so that they could be sorted and arranged alphabetically. He had completed the task a short time
before his death in December, 1922, and Duncan finally pasted these slips on to
foolscap paper in their proper order, grouping the names and generally
preparing the index for the printer. He
seemed to have a premonition of his own approaching end and hurried on the work
so that it might be finished, although it was, as he described it in one of his
last letters to me, " a dull, somewhat laborious and distinctly messy
job." Those who have had much to do with paste will appreciate the last
though all the pasting and most of the editing was done, the MS. was completed
for the press only to the end of the letter P, and no introduction had been
written. It was felt that in issuing
the work now, as little as possible should be altered or added to the MS. as
left by him. Perforce the final editing
from Q to Z has had to be done by the general Editor, but no material
alteration of the grouping of the names in the part completed by Duncan has
been made : all that has been added are some further cross references. The queries of which he left a list, have
been verified and others that arose in the course of seeing the work through
the press have been checked. The Index,
therefore, is issued substantially as he left it.
Mr. Churchill undertook to write the slips it was decided to put the modern
spelling of the place names and to include in the Introduction a list of the
most out of the way varieties, since these often give the local pronunciation
and sometimes a clue to the earlier forms.
But it was not without regrets that this decision was carried out, for
in March, 1918, Duncan wrote: " I have a great pang at the modernisation
of the names." It was to lessen this pang if possible, that Mr. Churchill
compiled the list of Place Names and their variants with dates now given as an
appendix at the end of this Index. He
likewise made out a list of Clergy, whose wills are given in the Registers
following notes on the registers have been sent me by the Editor:
Registers used in the compilation of this Index comprise the first twelve
volumes in the series of Rochester Wills preserved at Somerset House. They are stout volumes measuring roughly 12
ins. by 9 ins., containing any number from 153 to 413 leaves in each, and
yielding nearly 8,000 references. In
many instances, besides the original pagination in roman numerals, there is
also a modern arabic numbering, sometimes at variance with the roman ; in most
cases the reference in this Index is to the old paging, but there are
exceptions, as in volume III., when after cclxxixb the modern numeration is
followed. The references in this Index
to V* and VI* require explanation.
There are no volumes so labelled at Somerset House, but Vol. V. as now bound contains two parts. Part I. is a section of 70 leaves covering
from 1482-1501 and containing probate acts and administrations, while Part II.
is the Register of Wills. In this Index
V* is used to designate Vol. V. Part I.
Similarly in Vol. VI. there is a section
of 29 leaves (inserted between pages xxiii and xxiv of the Wills) containing
probate acts, which is referred to here as VI*.
Wills registered in these volumes are those of persons dying in the diocese of
Rochester, exhibited and proved in the Consistory Court of Rochester before the
Bishop, his Official, his Commissary, his Vicar-General or their deputies. It is worth noting that between 1554 and
1558 the Vicar-General is John Kenall, Archdeacon of Rochester. The Wills are proved variously I coram nobis
johanne Kenall legum doctore etc.
Reverendi in Christo patris ac domini Domini Mauiicii, permissions
divina Roffensis Episcopi vicario in spiritualibus generali' or, ' coram
venerabili viro Magistro Johanne Kenall etc. vicario in spiritualibus generali'
or, in the case of his deputy, ' coram...... deputato magistri Johannis Kenall,
etc. Archidiaconi Roffensis (etc.)
instance the scribe wrote ' vicarii' after the name then crossed it out and
wrote ' Archini,' the abbreviation for ' archidiaconi.'
note affixed to the first volume of the series by William Petyr, Registrar, is
of considerable interest, for he states that it is a register of testaments and
codicils of the last wishes of those dying in the Rochester diocese and proved
in the Consistory and before the Official of Rochester, hitherto registered in
various books among Corrections and Causes, from 1440 and continuing in another
book during the episcopate of John Low, 1444 to 1467. On the back of this page as a heading is the following: Registrum
Renerendi patris johannis Lowe Roffensis Episcopi de testamentis continentibus@1) vltimas voluntates decedencium in diocesi
Roffensi. A similar beading marks some, but not all,
of the beginnings of registers kept under successive bishops.
The volumes do not follow in strict chronological order, but the arrangement so far as can be judged is contemporary, and it does not seem to be possible to identify from the bindings any earlier system of arrangement. Thus volume III. contains the register of the time of Thomas Rotheram (1468-71) and John Russell (1476-80), with a contemporary note at the end of Rotheram's stating that the Register.of Dominus John Alcok (1472-76) is missing here, but will be found in another register. This is the present volume IV., described as the register of Dns. John Alcok, bishop of Rochester consecrated by the Lord Cardinal Archbishop of Canterbury (Bourgchier). The wills registered in the time of Edmund Audley (1480-92) and Thomas Savage (1493-96), when Master Martin Bere notary public is ' Registrarius Episcopatus Roffensis' are contained in volume V. But volume VI. goes back in date being labelled 1478-1513. It begins with a section of 24 leaves for 1478-84, containing part of the registers of Russell and Audley not able to be included in their proper order in volumes III. and V. because they had been carried off and afterwards restored, as may be learnt from a note roughly contemporary at the beginning of the volume. Between the last two leaves of this section have been inserted the Probate Acts to which reference has already been made.
earliest will in English is that of John Spreuer, 'Barbor and Leche' of Cobham
dated 9 December, 1448 (i. 61ab), the testament is in Latin; a@d the first
filed Will is that of Dominus William Quyntyn, parish priest of Bromley dated
16 February, 1498[-91 (v. 332a).
F. W. COCK.
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