When an incumbent became too old or too feeble to fulfil his duties adequately he could resign on a pension. Although these were extremely common by the end of the Middle Ages they were by no means obligatory, being a matter of mutual arrangement between the retiring incumbent and his successor. The only guarantee of a pension was to negotiate for one before resigning, but as this was suspiciously like simony an episcopal licence was first necessary. 1 The bishop or his deputy could obviously refuse to allow negotiation if he thought there was little cause for resignation and still less for the support of the retiring rector or vicar. If the pension that was settled on looked suspiciously large, however, he could only intervene in certain cases; in a few licences to treat for pensions the parties are empowered to conduct and to conclude arrangements; but in others the clause to conclude is either omitted altogether or the power is specifically reserved to the bishop. 2 Yet some licences from London and Hereford dioceses suggest that a process very like simony often did take place. If the aspirant to a living would not spare the six marks or whatever the incumbent was asking as a pension, another more accommodating candidate, provided he had the favour of the patron, would secure the benefice. This is 184confirmed by the fact that many parties named in the licences did not subsequently obtain the living. Master Walter Blount, rector of Ribbesford, is typical; in March 1517 he was licensed to treat and settle with David Coupar, vicar of Caynham, for a pension from Ribbesford if Coupar succeeded him there; in 1519 Coupar is still at Caynham and in May 1520 Blount, still rector of Ribbesford, has another licence, this time to treat with Thomas Parker for a pension if Parker succeeds him. 1 To avoid all suspicion of simony it would have been necessary to leave all negotiations until after resignation and the induction of a successor, upon whom no legal, and very little moral, pressure could then be exerted to produce a pension. Some sanguine incumbents did just this. Geoffrey ap Howell resigned the vicarage of Lugwardine on account of his old age and infirmity and ‘in the hope’ that a pension would be provided for him till the end of his life by his successor; the bishop duly licensed him to treat with the new vicar, Thomas Wilmott. 2 Master John Yngham, S.T.B., on resigning because of infirmity the rectory of Teversham in Ely diocese appealed to the bishop for a suitable pension, and with the assent of the then rector the bishop granted him ten marks a year and free access to one room in the rectory to be assigned by the rector. 3 Yngham did not petition, as Howell did, for a licence to treat, but for a pension, and one worthy of his status; seemingly Yngham could not, or would not, prolong his incumbency in order to negotiate for a pension. It is noteworthy that the bishop sought the assent of the rector here, and it is likely that he also consulted the patron. Whether a patron's concurrence was always necessary for a pension cannot be said; his right after all was in the advowson and not in the fruits of the benefice, but a diminution of these would undoubtedly impair the value of the advowson; nothing is heard of a patron refusing consent. 4