This is a rewording of the question What differentiates a priest, a clerk, a capellanus, a subdeacon and a rector?. While I asked much the same questions within the body of the article there, the title was different, and I'm afraid that misled people. Can I try again? The specific questions I am asking are listed below.

I have been looking at the list of rectors of Eversholt church, Bedfordshire, from the Bedfordshire Archives Service Catalogue. The various people listed there are each described as one of: (with dates through which this description appears)

clerk (1290-1702)
priest (1331-1493)
subdeacon (1227-1293)
rector (1374-1680)
capellanus (1420?-1507)

and from 1680 onwards:


which are degree qualifications.

Here are my questions:

  • Are all of these words actually describing the qualifications of the man to become rector, or are they describing what the man was called after he became rector?
  • Do these different qualities mean that when they became rector, they did different things? Had different responsibilities? Or did all the rectors do essentially the same things? For example, would all of these people (before the switch to CofE) be able to hear confessions and give absolution?
  • Can we tell anything about the relative education level of these people from the descriptions? Or how rich they were, or how well connected?
  • Rector and capellanus seem to be jobs, while priest, subdeacon and clerk (in that order) are hierarchical grades within the Holy Orders of the Roman Catholic church. Do I have that right? Is it true that any of priest, subdeacon or clerk might have been a rector or capellanus? So where "rector" or "capellanus" is given as the qualification, I can't really tell anything about the person's position in the hierarchy?

Sorry to bang on about this but it has been puzzling me for years and I'd love to get to the bottom of it. Thanks!

  • This is essentially the same as your original question, so it would be better to edit that one instead. But you're now asking a lot of things. It might be better to break this question up into a few sub questions, asked separately.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 6, 2016 at 9:57
  • Rectors were either priests or bishops and thus are permitted to administer the sacraments. If a rector was from a Religious Order, he would have taken a vow of poverty and thus did not receive wages. He did however receive some sort of stipend in order to be able to obtain the necessities of life.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 6, 2016 at 12:56
  • "A parish church was staffed by at least one priest, known as the rector (literally, ruler). Often in the Middle Ages the parish rector was not resident, and the role of the parish priest was taken by the rector’s vicar (= substitute) or curate (priest with care of souls)." - The Medieval Church
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 6, 2016 at 13:14
  • 1
    This Question is hard to interpret without more adequate information, but my guess would be that the titles mentioned after the names are the clerical state of the individual upon his nomination as Rector of the Eversholt Church. Thus Robert de Cirencestre was a subdeacon when he was named rector of the church and was then ordained a priest in order to administer the sacraments and assume the title of rector.
    – Ken Graham
    Oct 7, 2016 at 0:06


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