A.D. 11OO-1639, REGARDING A.D. 179
THE earliest known reference regarding the claim of St. Peter's Church, Comhill, as being:
(a) The first Christian Church in London,
(b) The original archiepiscopal seat in the South, and (presumably)
(c) The see from which Bishop Restitutes came in 314 to attend the Council of Aries, appears to be that of Jocelyn of Furness, a writer of the twelfth century (Lethaby's London, Macmillan, 1902, pp. 24, 165).
The main details of the tradition are said to have been preserved in the Church of St. Paul-upon-Comhill on hanging tablets, and the inscription on these is given by Archbishop Ussher in his published works (vol. v).
The reference is as follows:
'Similia habentur in tabula pensili, quae in aeda ilia St. Petri de monte frumentario, sive Cornhill (Coorwell vulgus appellat) adhuc cernitur:
Anno Domino clxxix.
'Lucius, primus Christianus rex hujus terrae, Brittaniae tunc appellatae, fundavit primam ecclesiam Londoniae, scilicet ecclesiam S. Petri in Comhill: et fundavit illic archipiscopalem sedem, et fecit illam ecclesiam metropolitanam, et primam ecclesiam hujus regni: et sic durvait spatio cccc. annorum, usque ad adventum S. Augustini Angliae apostoli, qui in hanc terram missus est a S. Gregorio, Ecclesiae doctore, tempore regis Ethelberti. Turn vero archiepiscopi sedes et pallium a dicta ecclesia S. Petri in Comhill translata fuit Dorobemiam, quae jam vocatur Canuaria, ibique manet ad hunc usque diem. Et Miletus, monachus, qui cum S. Augustino in terram venit factus est primus episcopus Londinensis: et sedes ejus in Paulina ecclesia constituta est. Et ille Lucius rex fuit primus fundator ecclesiae S. Petri in Comhill. Et regnavit in terra hac post Brutum (?) mccxlv. annis.' (Ussher's Works, vol. i, p. 88, 1639.)
“On hanging tablets in a chamber of St. Peter in Comhill one may decipher the following:
In the year of our Lord 179.
“Lucius, the first Christian king of this island now called Britain, founded the first Church of London, well known as the Church of St. Peter in Cornhill: and founded there the Archiepiscopal seat and made it the metropolitan church and first church of his kingdom. So it remained for the space of four hundred years until the coming of St. Augustine, the apostle of the Angles, who was sent into this land by Gregory, a Doctor of the Church in the time of King Ethelbert. Then, indeed, the seat and pallium of the Archbishopric was translated from the said Church of St. Peter in Cornhill to Dorobernia, which is now called Canterbury, where it remains to this day. And Miletus the monk, who came into the land with St. Augustine, was made first bishop of London (Londinensis), and his seat was appointed in the Church of St. Paul. And he, Lucius, the King, was the first founder of the Church of St. Peter in Cornhill. And he reigned in this land 1245 years after Brutus”
Another account is as follows:
“The tablet was preserved from the Great Fire, and is now hung over the chimney-piece of the vestry-room.”
The inscription is as follows:
“Bee it knowne to all men that the yeare of our Lord God 179, Lucius, the first Christian King of the land, then called Britaine, founded the first church in London, that is to say, the church of St. Peter upon Cornehill. And hee founded there an Archbishop's see and made the church the metropolitaine and chief church of this kingdome: and so indured the space of 400 years unto the coming of St. Austin the apostle of England, the which was sent into the land by S. Gregoire, the doctor of the church in the time of King Ethelbert. And then was the Archbishop's See and Pall removed from the foresaid church of St. Peter upon Cornehill into Dorobernia that now is called Canterburie and there it remaineth to this day. And Millet a monke which came into this land with St. Austin, hee was made the first Bishop of London and his See was made in Paul's church. And this Lucius king was the first founder of S. Peter's Church upon Cornehill. And he reigned in this land after Brute 1245 yeares. And in the yeare of our Lord God, 124, Lucius was crowned king and the yeares of his reign were 77 yeares. And he was buried after some Chronicles at London: and after some Chronicles hee was buried at Glocester where the order of St. Francis standeth now.' (London City Churches, by A. E. Daniell. Westminster: Constable and Co., 1896.)