James Wayland Joyce.

England's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic online

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Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 12 of 83)
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Cone. i. 61.

h See also
Cone. Mag.
Brit. vol. i.
p. 7, note.




A.D. 39—

' Aichasol.
Journ. vol.
iv. p. 243.

J Spelm.
Cone. i. 61.
Coll. i. 136.

k Stilling-
fleet's Orig.
Brit. pp. 357.

1 Stilling-
flcct's drig.
Brit. p. 358.

"• Spelm.
Cone. i. 61
in tit. cone.

""" Infi-a,
sec. 18,19.

honours both ecclesiastical and civil were conferred. Dubri-
tius on this occasion desiring a more secluded mode of life,
resigned' his metropolitical see of Caerleon-upon-Usk to
David, the king's uncle ; but though this change then took
place, it appears by comparing the acts of this council with
those of the following one, that David was not confirmed in
the archbishopric until three years afterwards. Here also
other ecclesiastical appointments were made, bishoprics being
conferred on Diuvanius and on Mauganius.

XII Mi.x-ed ^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^ sixth J British public

Council of Lian- assembly was held at Llandewy Brevi, — " the
church of S. David at Brevi," — in Cardigan.shire,
This is now an inconsiderable village, lying at the distance of
a few miles from Lampeter College. Of this mi.xed council
the learned Spelman takes but little notice, not mentioning the
place at which it was convened. The accounts ^ of it are de-
rived from Giraldus Cambrensis and the Utrecht MSS. All
the bishops of Britain were there assembled, besides abbots,
religious men of all orders, lay lords, and people collected from
the whole surrounding country. The chief ecclesiastical mat-
ters debated in this mixe J council referred to the revival of the
Pelagian heresy. Notwithstanding the number of ecclesiastics
assembled, David, metropolitan of Caerleon, was' absent at its
opening. Paulinus having been sent to desire his presence,
could not at first prevail upon him to attend ; but subsequently,
at the joint solicitation of Dubritius and Daniel, he consented
to appear, and by the interposition of his authority and power
of his eloquence, he put an effectual check to that heresy, which
had so frequently threatened to taint the pure faith of the Church.
At this mixed council David was confirmed as metropolitan
of all Wales by the common consent and with the acclamation
of all, both clergy and people ; and the metropolitical see was
removed™ from Caerleon-upon-Usk to Menevia, now S. David's.
But notwithstanding this change, it must be borne in mind
that the old title of Metropolitan of Caerleon-upon-Usk was
still retained, as will appear ™™ in the history of the subse-
quent provincial Synod of Augustine's Oak.
,,„- „ . In the year 529 the seventh British public

XIII. Provin- •' . . , ^.

ciai Synod of Vic- asscuibly was hold — the provincial Synod of Vic-
toria or Victory. No account of it is given by







the learned Spelman. Its name is believed to have been derived
from a battle fought by the Britons, and a victory won on or
near the spot, where the synod was subsequently convened.

Near the town of Mold", in Flintshire, the Britons were
surrounded by an army of Saxons, who had joined themselves
to the Picts, and thus by their united forces endeavoured to
crush the natives of the British soil. Germanus or Germain
was sent for to encourage the Britons by his presence and
exhortations, and by his arrangements they were enabled to
surround their enemies and defeat them with great slaughter.
It was at Easter that this battle was fought, at which season
many of the younger soldiers were baptized. From this cir-
cumstance, and from the shout* of triumphant hallelujahs
which the Britons raised as they attacked and vanquished
their invaders, that battle was known to posterity under the
appellation of "Victoria AUeluiatica" — Hallelujah Victory,
From the part taken in this event by Germain, the spot on
which this victory was gained was, as Archbishop Usher °
supposes, afterwards called " Maes p Garmon," i. e. " the field
of Germain;" and that is believed to have been the scene of
the provincial Synod of Victory. In this provincial synod all^
the clergy of Wales were present, or as Ricemarchus' says,
"a crowd of hishops^ priests, and abbots.'''' The decrees of the
previous mixed Council of Llandewy Brevi were here con-
firmed, and new canons also were made for the government of
the British Church. All of them were orally promulgated by
the Archbishop David % and were moreover committed to
writing by his own hand. He also required in addition that
they should' be preserved in his own as well as in other
churches of Wales.

XIV. Diocesan ^^ ^hc year 560", and after a lapse of about
Synod of Liandaff. thirty-onc ycars, we find accounts recorded^ of
the eighth British public assembly. It was convened by Oudo-
ceus, bishop of Liandaff", and appears to have been a purely
ecclesiastical assembly : indeed in the strictest sense of the
word a diocesan synod, to which that bishop summoned all
the clerpi/^, from Taratyrin Guy on the Wye to the river

* ^wi'fj d' . • , .'iKiT ovpavbv aartpoivTa

KtKXofievdjV oi Se ^vviaav ^iya\<^ a\a\r]T<p. — Hes. Theog. 685-6.
3 " Omnes clericos."

A. D. 39—


n Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 23.

o Quoted by
Eaily Eng.
Ch. p. 22.
P Fuller,
Ch. Hist,
bk. i. p. 30.
q Still. Orig.
Brit. p. 359.
■■ Quoted by
Hody, p. 17.

>* Hody, p.

' Gi raid us,
quoted bv
Hody, p.' 17.
" Coll. i.

" Spelm.
Cone. i. 62.
Hody, p. 18,




A.D. 39-

« Vcr. 7.
" S])elin.
Cone. i. 6

y Spe]m.
Cone. i. 63.
Coll. i. 139.


•> Quoted by
Collier, i.

c Ilodv, p.
18. Coll. i.
140. Spelm.
Cone. i. 63.

Tyvy. The occasion of this synod was as follows : Mouricus,
king of Glamorgan, in contravention of a solemn treaty of
peace, had murdered Cynetu; upon which Oudoceus convened
his synod to confirm a formal declaration of excommunication
against the transgressor for his crime. The king, as well as
his family and kingdom, were placed under an interdict, the
synod confirming the decree, while these words from the 109th
Psalm were recited : " Let his days "^ be few, and let another
take his office." Nor was this sentence removed'' until a period
of more than two years had elapsed, and the king's open
repentance had been declared by his meek demeanour and the
effusion of a flood of tears*.

XV Mixed "^^^^ ninth British public assembly >' was held
Couneil of Llan- at Llautwit. This place was originally called

Llaniltut, " the church^ of Iltutus," the termi-
nation iitut having been corrupted in modern language into
ticit. Iltutus was one ^ of Germanus''s scholars, and was re-
markable for having established, together with Dubritius, very
famous schools of learning ; one of which was probably fixed
upon this spot, which derived its name from the founder.
Camden says that " it is still ^ called Lantuit," where the
foundations of many houses were to be seen in his time.
Llantwit is not far from Cowbridge, being situated between
Llandaff and Neath ; and connected with the place are many
accounts tending to convince us of its ancient importance
in ecclesiastical history. At this mixed council Oudoceus,
bishop of Llandaff, with three abbots and a large con-
course of the faithful, met to witness the treaty of K. Mor-
cant and his uncle Frioc, which was entered into before
the altar at Llaniltut, many solemnities being added to
confirm the obligations of the contract. The conditions
were, that if either of the contracting parties should kill
or deceive the other, perpetual banishment should follow as
the penalty.

XVI Diocesan ^^^^ tcutli British public assembly, of which
Synod "ad Podum an account '^ is furnished by historians, was held

near Llandaff, " ad Pedum Garbani Vallis.''"'
The occasion of this assembly, a diocesan synod, was as fol-
lows. Notwithstanding the solenm treaty entered into at the

* " luclinato capitc cflusis lachryniis." — Spol. Cone. i. 62.



previous mixed Council of Llantwit, K. Morcant, "at the
instigation of the devil," to use Spelman's language, put his
uncle Fi-ioc to death. Either struck with remorse, or fearful
of the consequences of this conduct, Morcant repaired to
Oudoceus at the church of Llandaff, seeking pardon for his
broken faith, and for the homicide of which he had been
guilty. After hearing the king"'s petition, Oudoceus sum-
moned to a sacred synod his three abbots, with his clergy,
from the Tyvy to the mouth of the Wye. To this diocesan
synod, held " ad Podum Carhani Vallis,'''' K, Morcant came
with his elders. The members considered it inconvenient
that the king should live out of the country; and deter-
mined that the penalty of banishment, which he had incurred
in conformity with the contract entered into at the mixed
Council of Llantwit, should be commuted for fasting, prayers,
and alms. Consequently, with the consent of his elders, Mor-
cant pledged himself to obedience, placing his hand on the
four Gospels, and on some holy relics presented to him by
the bishop. And then, having promised to administer the
public affairs with justice and clemency, the king was re-
ceived to holy communion.

The eleventh British public assembly"^ upon

XVII. Dioce- , ,,1. , ^r.^ T T

Ban Synod of Lian- rccord w^as held in the year 597. It was a dio-
cesan synod, convened by Oudoceus at Llandaff,
and the members were summoned from the mouth of the Wye
to the Tyvy. Its object was to solemnize the excommunica-
tion of Guidnerth for the murder of his brother Merchion.
This sentence of excommunication remained in full force for a
period of three years, Guidnerth being entirely forbidden all
Christian communion for that time. At its expiration he
applied to Oudoceus to remit the sentence, but the bishop
still imposed penance upon him. The term of penance not
having been completed before the death of Oudoceus ^ he
never had an opportunity of receiving Guidnerth back into

* It is right to observe, that some of the circumstances mentioned as accom-
panying the sentences of excommunication pronounced by the Bishops of Llandaff
cannot be correctly handed down to us, since forms are said to have been ob-
served on those occasions (" depositis crucihus et cymbahs versis * ") which were not
at that time known in England f, according to Spelman's % authority. Indeed all
the accounts of early Welsh synods must be received with caution.

Im. Cone. i. p. 64.

t Hody, p. 63.

Spelm. Cone. i. p. 386.

A.D. 39—


d Spelm.
Cone. i. 64.
Hody, p. 18.
Coll. i. 140.




A.D. 39—


p Innett,
Oric;. Aug.
p. 31.

f Fuller, Ch.
Hist. bk. ii.
p. 60,

XVIII. Provin
cial Synod of Au
gustine'sOiik, ses
sion 1.

1. Its object.

the Cliurcli ; that act was reserved for the bishop's successor,
Berthguin, who, at the joint request of Morcant and Guid-
nerth, absolved the latter after he had made a promise of
amendment of life, accompanied with fasting, prayers, alms-
giving, tears, and penitential sorrow proportioned to the
enormity of his crime.

The twelfth British public assembly upon
record was held in 601 ^. This was a provin-
cial Synod of Caerleon-upon-Usk, convened at
a spot since ^ named Augustine's Oak ; but from
having been held on the borders of Worcestershire, this
assembly has sometimes been called the Synod of Wor-
cester. It is a synod of far deeper interest to us than any
of those which have been as yet detailed ; indeed the histo-
rical importance of the circumstances which attended it can
hardly be overrated, inasmuch as they clearly prove that the
native British Church, so far from having been founded
by Roman missionaries, as has often been asserted, was
incontestably of an Eastern origin. This will appear as we
proceed. Fifteen years had now elapsed since the cruelty
of our Saxon invaders had driven the British Christians from
the eastern parts of their native land. Indeed so terrible had
been the persecution at that time, that Thconas and Tha-
diocus, as was before observed, were obliged to fly from their
respective metropolitical sees of London and York, and to
take refuge in AVales among the Christians of the third
British ecclesiastical province of Caerleon. About five years
had elapsed since the arrival of Augustine the monk in
England, by whose teaching a partial revival of the Christian
faith had been effected in Kent, and by whose exhortations
K. Ethelbert had been converted from paganism. How
cheering must have be6n this news to the scattered Christians
of Britain ; how great their hopes that with such assistance
their Church would again regain her former position, and re-
claim her influence for good over the hearts and affections of the
people ! In order to secure a union, desirable on every account,
between the native Churcli and that body of Christians which
was now multiplying in the south-eastern portion of this island
under the united influences of Augustine and Ethelbert, the
provincial Synod of Augustine's Oak was convened.




As regards the time of its meeting there is a

2. Its date. ... * . ,. , . , °

shght variation among nistonafis, Kanulphuss
placing it in 599, Angelocrator in 601, Balseus in 602, Wigor-
nensis in 603. The learned Spelman fixes the date as 601, and
to that year the synod is here attributed.

3. The place of ^01" 's the exact place of meeting easy to
assembly. ascertain with positive certainty, though suf-
ficient records remain to assure us at least as to the neigh-
bourhood in which this provincial synod was held. For there
is evidence to shew that it met in West ^ Worcestershire, not
far from the borders of Herefordshire, upon a spot after-
wards called " Augustine's ' ac, ok, or oak." Spelman hints
that this synod assembled near a village called "Ausric,"''
as though contracted from " Austins-ric." Others speak of
the place as " Haustake ^ or Ossuntree," i. e. the modern
village of " Martin Hussingtree,"" near Droitwich.

But there is, not far from the present high road leading
from Ludlow, in Shropshire, to the city of Worcester, a spot
called the Apostles' Oak, which local tradition marks as the
scene of this memorable provincial synod, and there is good
reason for giving credit to the tradition. Upon that road
is an old inn, named the " Hundred House," and about
a mile short of it, as one approaches from the Ludlow
side, is a hill still called the " Apostles' Oak Bank." A
few hundred yards upon the left of the ascent stands an
oak tree, which is known to have been planted during the
earlier half of the last century, on the site where the hollow
trunk of an exceedingly aged oak had been then latel}
burnt by a fire lighted within it by some careless person.
That aged trunk was known as the '•''Apostles' Oak,'''' and
that was generally believed to have been the spot where
the British bishops met Augustine and his followers. In
1 732 ® " the original tree (it is believed) was standing then
in a state of great decay — quite hollow — and in it was
placed a seat for the accommodation of the toll-keeper of the
adjoining new turnpike road .... the gate was denominated
the Apostles' Oak Gate," and it is said that in the act passed
for the management of that road the " Apostles' Oak " was

" At this date the grandfather of the gentleman, who kindly supplied some of
this information, became rector of the parish in which the oak stood.

A.D. 39—

g Spelm.
Cone. i. 107.

I' Spehii.
Cone. i. 107.

' Soames,
Ch. p. 55.

k ^Velsh,




I Vid.
Cone. i. 107.
Cone. Mag.
Brit. i. 25.

mentioned by name ^ The road is now diverted from its ori-
ginal course, so that the present traveller does not pass the
spot unless he purposely seeks it. In a letter dated May 31,
1797, Dr. Perry, bishop of Dromore, after mentioning some
of the facts here recounted, adds, " I remember being told
this by the rector of the Rock about the year l7o4 or 17o5,
when I was on a visit at his parsonage-house. That parish,
which originally extended to this celebrated oak, was called
'•Aca'' in Latin (so it is still in the Valor Beneficiorum from
it), and the English, ' The Rock,'' is only a corruption of the
old Anglo-Saxon ' ^oep Sc,"' i. e. ' ther oak' or ' the oak."* """
Some objections have, I believe, been raised against this
locality ; but in the copy of Dr. Perry's letter now lying
before the writer, he says, " I formerly considered the sub-
ject, and think I can answer every objection, and confirm the
tradition." A very important fact in connexion with this
subject must not be overlooked. That ancient oak marked
the boundary line of the two dioceses of Hereford and Wor-
cester, and was therefore not unlikely to be fixed on as the
place of assembly for a provincial synod ; and this fact may
also very easily account for the statement " that the synod
was held on the borders^ of Herefordshire and Worcester-
shire," although, the boundaries of the dioceses and of the
counties not being here coincident, the count?/ of Hereford
does not really approach within some few miles of the place.

4 The persons ^^^ whcrevcr the exact locality may have been,
P'"''*™*- this synod was held according to the custom of

that time, under some known and wide-spreading oak, which
might mark the place of meeting, and afford, as circumstances
should require, shade from the sun or shelter from the rain. On
one side were British bishops and doctors ; on the other side,
Augustine with his Roman clergy. Upon such an occasion the
hopes and expectations of both parties must have been raised
to a high pitch. On the one hand, the British bishops and
doctors, having witnessed in their own lifetimes the persecutions
against their brethren, ending in the expulsion of two out
of the three native metropolitans lately comi)clled to seek
a refuge in the west, must have well-nigh despaired of

' From a Icltor of Dr. Perry, bishop of Dromore, to Mr. R. Bromley, of which
a copy has been kindly supplied by a descendant of the latter gentleman.




the prosperity of their national Church. Still late events must
have inspired thera with freshening hopes. They must have
now begun to expect that their sore trials were passing away,
and that a happier state of things would succeed. The con-
version of K. Ethelbert to Christianity, and the favours shewn
by him to the Roman missionaries of Christianity, must have
appeared as hopeful omens of future prosperity to the Britisii
Church. The prospect, moreover, of entering into Christian
communion with Augustine and his companions, who had
effected such good and holy service at so critical a period, must
have gladdened the hearts of the representatives of our native
Church as they bent their steps towards the spot appointed
for this provincial synod.

On the other hand, Augustine and his clergy approached
the place, anxious not only to secure native assistance in
spreading the truths of the Gospel, but eager also, as the
event proved, to bring the ancient Church of this land under
their own ecclesiastical discipline and jurisdiction. Their
determination to insist upon implicit compliance in all par-
ticulars with Roman customs, discipline, and authority, shews
how great was their anxiety on these points ; but that deter-
mination was fatal to such union between the British bishops
and Augustine, as all had good reason to desire.
. ^, This provincial synod consisted "* of two ses-

5. Computation ^ ^ •'

of Easter a sub- sious. lu the first, Augustine endeavoured"
veisy, andaproof to persuado the British clergy to associate with
ein'o'f'^lTe Bril^sh h"^ in preaching the Gospel ; but he insisted
thurch. Qj^ ^]^Q necessity of their keeping the Easter

festival according to the computation of the Roman Church
at that time, i. e. on ° the Sunday which fell between the fif-
teenth and the twenty-first day of the Paschal moon inclusive.
This would have entirely contradicted the traditions and habits
of the British Christians, " who p adhered to an ancient mode
in fixing the festival of Easter, and varied in many other par-
ticulars from Roman practice."

The question of the difference of the computation of the
Easter festival will be considered more in detail when we
come to the second session of this provincial synod. That ''
difference, however, it may here be observed, places it beyond
a question that the British Church was of an Eastern origin,

A.D. 39—

■" Spelm.
Cone. i. 104,

n Innett,
Orig. Ang.
p. 31.

o Cliurton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 4.H.

P Soames,
Ch. p. 56.

t Bingham's
Ei-rl. Antiq.
vol. vii. pp.
87 et seq.





A.D. 39—

' Soaraes,
Ch. p. 56.

8 Spelm.
Cone. p.

« Spelm.
Cone. i. 105,
106. & see
also a book
" Survey of
Cath. Ch. of
S. David,"
by Browne
Willis, p.
95, quoting
Spel. Gloss
i. 107. &
Heip to
Eng. Hist,
p. 92.
" Spelm.
Cone, ut

^ Soames,
Ch. p. 58.
w Churton's
Early Eng.
Ch. p. 25.
» Innett,
Orig. Ang.
p. 32.

y Coll. i. 176.

as it was thus connected immediately with the Churches of
Asia, " the ' cradle of our holy faith," where the mode of
computation, originally prevailing in Britain, was adopted. The
Britons at this provincial synod clung most tenaciou.sly to
their ancient traditions, and after a long ^ discussion, notwith-
standing the prayers, exhortations, and even threats of Augus-
tine himself and of his companions, they stoutly refused to con-
sent to any such alterations in the observation of the highest
festival of the Christian Church as those which he proposed.
They added, that they believed it to be " the way of truth
which Augustine preached, but that they could not consent
to abandon their ancient * customs without the leave and con-
sent of their brethren." They therefore demanded a second
session of the synod, in which the British Church might be
represented in larger numbers.
XIX. Provin- To the sccoud session of this synod there

giiiKak,^"- repaired seven British prelates — the Bishops
*'"""• of Bangor', Hereford, Llanbadern', Llandaff,

Maro;am\ S. Asaph ^ and Worcester. In



addition to these bishops other ecclesiastics attended as mem-
bers of the provincial synod. Of these one of the chief was
Dinoth, abbot of Bangor Iscoed. He arrived, together with
"wry" many learned m^w'," of whom the greater part be-
longed to his most noble monastery, situated ' in Flintshire,
on the Dee, near Wrexham and INIalpas, about ten miles south
of the present city of Chester, and reported to have then con-
tained 2 1 00 monks. This was a famous ^ place of education,
founded by Germain, and " the remains of it were still visible,
after the lapse of a thousand years, a short time before the

Before* proceeding to the place of meeting the British
clergy took counsel of a holy man of that time, who passed
his life as a hermit, and had obtained a high reputation
for wisdom. The object of their inquiry was to ask
whether they ought to accept the propositions of Augustine.
The hermit's y answer was, " If the man be of God, follow

* " Priscis moribus."

' Patornensis, bishop of Llanbadern, in Cardiganshire.
' Morganensi.s, bishop of Margam, in Glamorganshire.
^ Cluiensis or Eluiensis, bishop of Llanelvy or S. Asaph.
^ " Plures doctissittii viri."




him." "But how," they asked, "shall we discover this T'
" Our Lord," he replied, "has said, 'Learn ^ of me, for I am
meek and lowly in heart."* If, then," the hermit added, " Au-
gustine is meek, believe that he bears the yoke of Christ and
offers it to you ; but if he is ungentle and highrainded, it
shews that he is not of God." To bring this matter to a
practical proof, the hermit then advised his countrymen not
to approach the synod until after Augustine had taken his
place, and to observe carefully whether he rose up to salute
them upon their arrival. He suggested that by this means a
distinguishing evidence of meekness or of pride would be
afforded. The Britons took the hermifs advice, and were

Online LibraryJames Wayland JoyceEngland's sacred synods : a constitutional history of the convocations of the clergy, from the earliest records of Christianity in Britain to the date of the promulgation of the present Book of common prayer; including a list of all councils, ecclesiastical as well as civil, held in England, in whic → online text (page 12 of 83)