There were some 9,000 parish churches in medieval England, though far exceeding the really able ordinands, barely enough to satisfy the innumerable clerics of that time. 1 Consequently competition was fierce, as a few examples will recall. Early in the sixteenth century Geoffrey Philipp of Paignton sent a messenger to inform the patron of Ringmore, who was in London, that the living was vacant; so hard did this messenger spur his horse to London that the creature died. 2 A little later George Hampton, on his way between Canterbury and Dover, met a scholar going from Oxford to Paris, who told him that the benefice of Melton had fallen vacant; Hampton soon struck off a letter to Wolsey, reminding him that Melton had been promised to his son, James Hampton, who was still at school. 3 It was for himself, perhaps, that Thomas Bennett, priest, sent to Wolsey brisk, bare details of the living of Brixton Deverill, just vacant, in the gift of Campeggio, and worth ₤ 10 a year. 4 Others put their trust in Cromwell. He was asked by George Lawson to ‘be at some point’ with the prior of Lewes to whom Lawson was sending his chaplain about a benefice. 5 A priest by the name of Copland 28had been promised by Cromwell the parish church of Yardley, but the advowson was still in the hands of Sir William Gascoyne; Copland spent Christmas with two men who were going to use their influence, but he wrote to ask Cromwell, should he meet them, to stress the urgency of the matter. 1 Influence, vigilance and pertinacity were essential for the clerk in search of a benefice. Yet for some men the quest was ended easily and quickly, and there were even some benefices which excited no quest at all.