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right of subsequent approbation, which was not to be denied without a reasonable and just cause. King John expressly recognized this grant in his famous Great Charter, to which we refer our reader, and was re-established by Edward III.*
But on the suppression of the pope's supremacy at the Reformation by Henry VIII,† the ancient right of nomination was in effect restored to the crown. It was enacted that at every future avoidance of a bishopric, the king may send his usual license to the dean and chapter to proceed to election. This statute was afterwards repealed by Edward VI., and it was then enacted, that all bishoprics should be donative as formerly. The statute of Edward VI. states in the preamble, that these elections are in very deed no elections; but only by a writ of conge d'elire, have colours, shadows, or pretences of election. This is certainly good common sense; for the permission to elect, where a power of rejection does not exist, can hardly be reconciled with freedom of election. This statute was again repealed by Mary. The bishoprics of the new foundation were always donative, and all the Irish bishoprics are so. If the dean and chapter delay their election above twelve days, the nomination devolves on the king, who may by letters patent appoint such persons as he pleases. The election or nomination of a bishop must be signified by the king's letters patent to the archbishop of the province; but if it be of an archbishop, it must be signified to the other archbishop and two other bishops, or to four bishops, requiring them to confirm, invest, and consecrate the person so elected; which they are bound to perform immediately, and without any application to the see of Rome. After which the bishop elect shall sue the king for his temporalities, shall make oath to the king and to none other, and shall take restitution of his secular possessions out of the king's hands only. It is a prevailing vulgar error, that, before accepting the bishopric which is offered to him, every bishop affects a maiden coyness, and answers nolo episcopari. The bishops do not give any such answer at present, and it is more than probable that they never did at any time in this country. And if any such dean and chapter do not elect in the manner appointed in the act, or if the archbishop or bishop should refuse to confirm, invest, and consecrate such bishop elect, they shall incur all the penalties of a premunire. In the form of consecrating bishops, it is directed and confirmed by various statutes since the Reformation, that at his consecration a bishop must be full thirty years of age. But in popish times there do not seem to have been any such restrictions; for all history is full of instances of bishops and archbishops being appointed by the plenitude of the pope's power even in infancy. The archbishopric of St Andrews was held by an illegitimate son of James IV., who, doffing the episcopal robe, and encased in armour, was killed at the early age of eighteen years, fighting side by side with his royal father at Flodden Field.
The church of England is governed by two archbishops and twenty-four bishops, besides the bishop of Sodor and Man, who is not a lord of parliament. The church of Ireland is governed by four archbishops, and formerly eighteen bishops: but a recent act of parliament has reduced the whole number of archbishops and bishops to eleven. An archbishop is the chief bishop of the province. Next under the king he has supreme power, authority, and jurisdiction, in all causes and things ecclesiastical. In Italy the title of an archbishop is merely a title of honour; he has the precedence of, but no power or authority over other bishops. Metropolitan is a title given to the bishop of the chief city of a province. He is also styled primate, because he is primus, or first in the province. A patriarch is the chief bishop over several kingdoms or provinces, as an archbishop is of several dioceses.
An archbishop is the chief of the clergy in a whole province; and has the inspection of the bishops of that province, as well as of the inferior clergy, and may deprive them for notorious causes. In the eleventh year of William III., the bishop of St David's was deprived for simony and other offences, in a court held at Lambeth before the archbishop of Canterbury, who called six other bishops to his assistance. The bishop of St David's appealed to the delegates, who affirmed the archbishop's sentence; and after several fruitless applications to the court of king's bench and the house of lords, he was at last obliged to submit to the archbishop's judgment. In his own diocese the archbishop exercises episcopal jurisdiction,
25 Henry VIII., c. 20.
* Statute 52. c. 6.
* Burns' Ecclesiastical Law.
s the other bishops do in theirs; and he exercises archiepiscopal authority in his province. In his official capacity as an archbishop, on receipt of the king's writ, he calls the bishops and clergy of his province to meet in convocation; but as the law stands, he cannot assemble them without the king's writ. All appeals are made to him from inferior jurisdictions within his province; and as an appeal lies from the bishops in person to the archbishop in person, so it also lies from the consistory court of each diocese to his archiepiscopal court. During the vacancy of any see in his province, he is the guardian of its spiritualities, and the king of its temporalities; and he executes all ecclesiastical jurisdiction in such vacant diocese. During the vacancy of an archiepiscopal see, the dean and chapter are its spiritual guardians, ever since the office of prior of Canterbury was abolished at the Reformation. The archbishop is entitled to present by lapse to all the ecclesiastical livings in the disposal of his diocesan bishops, if they have not presented within six months. And the archbishop has a customary prerogative, when he consecrates a bishop, to name a clerk or chaplain of his own to be provided for by such suffragan bishop. In lieu of which it is now customary for the bishop to make over by deed to the archbishop, his executors, and assigns, the next presentation of such dignity or benefice in the bishop's disposal within that see, as the archbishop himself shall choose, which is therefore called his option; which is only binding on the bishop himself who grants it, but not on his successors. The consequence, therefore, is, that the archbishop can never have more than one option at once from the same diocese. These options become the private patronage of the archbishop, and on his death are transmitted to his personal representatives, and not to his official successors. The archbishop may direct by his will to whom his executors shall present on a vacancy; which direction is obligatory on his executors to observe, according to a decision of the house of lords.* If a bishop dies during the vacancy of any benefice within his patronage, the presentation devolves to the crown; and likewise if a bishop dies after an option becomes vacant, and before the archbishop or his executors has presented, and the clerk is instituted, the crown, pro hac vice, will be entitled to present to that dignity or benefice. For the bishop's grant of the option to the archbishop has no efficacy beyond the bishop's life. The archbishop's prerogative itself, seems to have been derived from the legatine powers formerly in popish times annexed by the popes to the metropolitan of Canterbury.† And we may add, that the papal claim itself (like most others of that encroaching see) was probably set up in imitation of the imperial prerogative primæ, or primariæ preces, whereby the emperor exercises from time immemorial a right of naming to the first prebend that becomes vacant after his accession in every church throughout the empire. A right that was also exercised by the crown of England in the reign of Edward I., and which probably gave rise to the royal corodies.
The archbishop of Canterbury is primate and metropolitan of all England, and has under him in his province twenty-one bishops, viz. Rochester, London, Winchester, Norwich, Lincoln, Ely, Chichester, Salisbury, Exeter, Bath and Wells, Worcester, Coventry and Litchfield, Hereford, Llandaffe, St. David's, Bangor, and St. Asaph. These were founded before the Reformation; after that era Henry VIII. founded the following, Gloucester, Bristol, Peterborough, and Oxford. Under the archbishop of York are four bishops: viz. Chester, Durham, Carlisle, and Sodor and Man. The four archbishops of Ireland, are Armagh, who is primate of all Ireland; Dublin, primate of Ireland; Cashel, primate of Munster; and Tuam, primate of Connaught. They have two concurrent jurisdictions: one as ordinary or bishop within his own diocese; the other as superintendent over all the bishops within his province, to correct and supply their defects.
It is likewise the privilege by custom, for the archbishop of Canterbury to crown the kings and queens of Great Britain; and it was the privilege of the archbishop of St Andrews to crown the kings and queens of Scotland. It is said that the archbishop of York has the privilege of crowning the queen consort, and to be her perpetual chaplain.§ The archbishop of Canterbury has also the power of granting dispensations in any case not contrary to the
*Burns' Ecc. Law. + Sherlock of Options.
Burns' Eccl. Law. § Ibid. p. 178.
Holy Scriptures and the law of God, which were formerly granted by the pope,* and which is the foundation of his granting special licenses to marry at any time or place, to hold tw livings, and the like. And on this also is founded the right he exercises of conferring degrees in prejudice of the two universities. When the dominion of the pope was overturned in this country, this prerogative of dispensing with the canons of the church was transferred by that statute to the archbishop of Canterbury, in all cases in which dispensations were accustomed to be obtained at Rome; but in unaccustomed cases the matter is always referred to the king in council. The pope took upon him to dispense with every ecclesiastical canon and ordinance. But in some of the cases where the archbishop alone has authority to dispense, his dispensation with the canon, such as to hold two livings, must be confirmed under the great seal. But although the archbishop can confer all the degrees which are taken in the universities, yet the graduates of the two universities, by various acts of parliament and other regulations, are entitled to many privileges which are not extended to what is called a Lambeth degree: as, for instance, those degrees which are a qualification for a dispensation to hold two livings, are confined by 31 Henry VIII., c. 13, to the twe universities.
Besides the administration of certain holy ordinances peculiar to that sacred order, the power of an archbishop principally consists in inspecting the manners of the people and clergy, and punishing them by ecclesiastical censures in order to their reformation. For this purpose he has several courts under him, and may visit at pleasure any part of his province, He appoints his chancellor to hold his courts for him, and to assist him in matters of ecclesiastical law; who, as well as all other ecclesiastical officers if lay or married, must be a doctor of the civil law in some university. It is also the business of a bishop to institute, and to direct induction to all ecclesiastical livings in his diocese.
Archbishoprics and bishoprics may become void by death, deprivation for any very gross or notorious crime, and also by resignation. All resignations must be made to some superior. Therefore a bishop must resign to his metropolitan, or archbishop of his province; but the archbishop can resign to none but the king himself. An archbishop has the titles and styles of Grace, and Most Reverend Father in God by Divine providence; the bishops those of Lord, and Right Reverend Father in God by Divine permission. Archbishops are enthroned, and bishops are installed.
II. A dean and chapter are the bishop's council, to assist him with their advice in affairs of religion, and also in the temporal affairs of his see. When the rest of the clergy were settled in the several parishes, the dean and chapter were reserved for the celebration of divine service in the bishop's own cathedral. The chief of those who presided over the rest, obtained the name of decanus or dean, being probably at first appointed to superintend ten canons or prebendaries, that is, clergymen.
All the ancient deans are elected by the chapter, by conge d'elire from the king, and letters missive of recommendation, in the same manner as the bishops; but in those chapters that were founded by Henry VIII., out of the spoils of the dissolved monasteries, the deanery is donative, and the installation is merely by the king's letters patent. The chapter, consisting of canons or prebendaries, are sometimes appointed by the king, sometimes by the bishop, and sometimes they are elected by each other. The new deans and chapters which Henry VIII. added to the old bishoprics, are eight, viz. Canterbury, Norwich, Winchester, Durham, Ely, Rochester, Worcester, and Carlisle. That bluff monarch founded five new bishoprics, with new deans and chapters, out of the lands of the suppressed monasteries, viz. Peterborough, Chester, Gloucester, Bristol, and Oxford. He also founded a bishopric at Westminster, and Thomas Thirlby was the only bishop that ever filled that see. He surrendered the bishopric to Edward VI., 30th March, 1550; and on the same day it was dissolved, and re-annexed to the see of London. Queen Mary afterwards filled the church with Benedictine monks; and Elizabeth, with the concurrence of parliament, turned it inte a collegiate church subject to a dean.
As before observed, the dean and chapter are the nominal electors of a bishop. The
* 25 Henry VIII., c. 21.
bishop is their ordinary and immediate superior; and, generally speaking, has the power of visiting them, and checking any irregularities into which they may fall. They had also a check on the bishop at common law, for till the statute 32 Henry VIII. the bishop's grant or lease would not have bound his successors unless confirmed by the dean and chapter.
Deaneries and prebends may become void, like a bishopric, by death, deprivation, or by resignation to either the king or the bishop. And it may be once for all observed, that if a dean or prebendary, or other spiritual person, be made a bishop, all the preferments of which he was before possessed become void, and the king may present to them in right of his prerogative royal. They are not void by the election, but only by the consecration. Every diocese in England is divided into archdeaconries. There are sixty altogether; and again each archdeaconry is subdivided into deaneries. Deaneries are again parted into parishes, towns, and hamlets. The divisions into parishes were not done at first, but a considerable time after the introduction of Christianity. For many centuries after Christ, every bishop was universal incumbent of his diocese, and which was originally called a parish. He lived at the mother church or cathedral, and all his clergy lived in common with him. Although the bishop sent out clergy to reside constantly in newly erected stations, yet he still reserved a certain number in his cathedral to counsel and assist him. These were afterwards named deans and prebendaries, or canons.
In their original institution archdeacons had no relation to the diocese. They were chosen by the bishop to have the charge of the deacons, who are the lowest order in the church. By degrees this office became universal, and they began to share with the bishop in his authority. Their proper business was to attend the bishop at the altar, to direct the deacons and other inferior officers in their several duties, for the due performance of divine service. They attended the bishop at ordinations, and assisted him in managing the revenues of the church; but did not possess any of that jurisdiction either in the cathedral or the diocese, with which they are now invested. The council of Laodicea, in the year 360, ordained that no bishops should be placed in country villages, but only itinerant or visiting presbyters. The archdeacon being always near to the bishop, was frequently employed by him in visiting the clergy of his diocese, and in the despatch of other matters relating to the episcopal cure; so that, by the beginning of the seventh century, the archdeacon seems to have been fully possessed of the chief care and inspection of the diocese, in subordination to the bishop. The canon law styles the archdeacon the bishop's eye. In the bishop's absence he has power to hold visitations, and, under the bishop, power to examine candidates for holy orders. He also gives institution and induction to benefices. He excommunicates, imposes penances, suspends, corrects, inspects and reforms irregularities and abuses among the clergy. He has the charge of the parochial churches within the diocese. In short, he supplies the bishop's absence, and is his vicegerent.
The institution of deaneries is something analogous to the division of the civil government into hundreds, tithings, and frank pledges. Bearing some resemblance to this, every bishop divided his diocese into deaneries, each of which contained a district of ten parish churches. Over every such deanery, or decennery, the bishop appointed a dean. In England there are four sorts of deans and deaneries. The first is a dean who has a chapter consisting of prebendaries or canons subordinate to the bishop. The dean and his chapter are the bishop's councillors both in the spiritual and temporal affairs of his diocese. This council became necessary after the subdivision of parishes, when the whole body of his clergy were dispersed throughout his diocese. This council was instituted to assist the bishop, that the burden of the whole church and its government might not lie entirely on the bishop's shoulders. The second is a dean without a chapter. He is presentative, and has cure of souls. He has a court, and holds jurisdiction, but is not subject to the bishop's visitation. The third dean is also ecclesiastical. His deanery is donative, but he has no cure of souls. He has a court, and holds plea and jurisdiction within his peculiar, of all ecclesiastical matters and things. The fourth are the rural deans. They have no absolute judicial power, but are to order the ecclesiastical affairs within their deanery and precinct under the bishop's or archdeacon's directions, and in many cases act as the bishop's substitutes. All the ancient deans were elected by the chapter, by conge d' elire from the king, accompanied by letters missive
of recommendation, in the same manner as the bishops. Those which have been erected since the Reformation are donative, and possession is given by letters patent from the
After the bishops dispersed the body of their clergy to the care of parochial churches, they reserved a college of priests for counsel and assistance to themselves, and for the constant celebration of divine service at the cathedral church of the diocese. Among these the tenth person had an inspecting or presiding power, till in time the dean swallowed up the office of all the inferior, and in subordination to the bishop became governor of the whole society. The dean had authority over all the canons, presbyters, and vicars. He gave them possession when instituted by the bishop. He inspected their discharge of the cure of souls. He convened and presided in chapters, and heard and determined causes. He visited all churches within the limits of his jurisdiction once in three years. Men of this dignity were called archipresbyters, because they had a superintendence or primacy over all their college of priests. The title of dean is a title of dignity. The canons require deans to reside at their cathedral churches fourscore and ten days at the least, conjunctim or divisim, in every year at least. And while there he is to preach the word of God, and keep good hospitality, unless he is otherwise hindered by good and weighty reasons known to, and allowed by, the bishop. A dean and chapter is a body corporate spiritual. They were originally selected by the bishop as his council, but they derive their corporate capacity from the crown. By degrees their dependance on and relation to the bishop gradually diminished, till at last the bishop has little more power left to him than that of visiting them, and he scarcely nominates the one half of them.*
III. An archdeacon has an ecclesiastical jurisdiction immediately subordinate to the bishop, throughout the whole of his diocese, or in some particular part of it. He is usually appointed by the bishop himself, and has an authority which was originally derived from the bishop, but is now independent and distinct from his. He therefore visits the clergy, and has his separate court for punishment of offenders by spiritual censures, and for hearing all other causes of ecclesiastical cognizance,
IV. Rural deans are very ancient officers in the church, but are now almost grown out of use, though their deaneries still subsist as an ecclesiastical division of the diocese, or archdeaconry. They seem to have been the bishop's deputies, planted all round his diocese, for the better inspection of the parochial clergy, to inquire into and report dilapidations, and to examine candidates for confirmation, and were armed in minuter matters with an inferior degree of judicial and coercive authority.
V. The next, and indeed the most numerous, order of men, in the system of ecclesiastical polity, are the parsons and vicars of churches. In treating of whom it will be necessary to mark out the distinction between them; to observe the method by which one may become a parson or vicar; briefly notice their rights and duties; and lastly, show how one may cease to be either. §
A parson, persona ecclesia, is one that has full possession of all the rights of a parochial church. He is called parson, persona, because by his person the church is represented; and he is himself a corporation sole, in order to defend and protect the rights of the church which he personates by a perpetual succession. He is sometimes called the rector or governor of the church; but the appellation of parson (however it may be depreciated by familiar, clownish, and indiscriminate use) is the most legal, and most honourable title that a parish priest can enjoy; because, says Sir Edward Coke, such a one, and he only, is said, vicem seu personam ecclesiæ gerere. A parson has during his life the freehold in himself of the parsonage house, the glebe, the tithes, and other dues. But these are sometimes appropriated; that is to say, the benefice is perpetually annexed to some spiritual corporation, either sole or aggregate, being the patron of the living, which the law esteems equally capable of providing for the service of the church as any single private gentleman. This contrivance seems to have sprung from the policy of the monastic orders, who have never been deficient
* Burns' Eccl. Law.