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 25 of 83)
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empowered to act in synods for the clergy of their respective
archdeaconries, appears to have been common during this

It seems thus clear that archdeacons were members of the
national synods of this period ; that they were members also
of the provincial synods is capable of easy proof.

To the provincial synod held at S. PauFs Cathedral ",
London, a.d. 1226 x.s,, the archdeacons"' were summoned
specially by the mandate transmitted from Archbishop Ste-
phen Langton to the Bishop of London, according to present

^ " Qui publica voce testati sunt," &c. — Cone. Mag. Brit, quotes Eadmer, lib.
iii. Hist. Nov.

1 " Rex archiepiscopis, episcojiis, abbatibus, archidiaconis ct omni ikro ajiud
S. Albanum," &c. — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 514.

* " Insuper et arckidiaconos vestrae diceceseos universes." — Cone. Mag. Brit,
citing Annal. Burton, p. .388 seq.




XVIII. Chosen
presbyters con
stituent members.

usage. The mandate of Archbishop Boniface called the arch
deacons to the provincial Synod of London, a.d. 1257; and
on this occasion they were to bring letters of proxy ^ as was
the case in the national Synod of ^lerton, empowering them
to act for the clergy whom they represented. In the account
of the provincial synods ^ held concurrently at Lambeth and
Beverley, a.d. 1261, we find archdeacons expressly mentioned^
as having been summoned. And finally, to the provincial
Synods of London, a.d. 1277, the archdeacons^ were sum-
moned by the writs directed by Archbishop Robert Kilwarby
to the suffragan bishops.

It is certain that in the early ages of the
Church presbyters were admitted as members
of the greater ecclesiastical synods. Of this
proofs have been adduced in the third chapter' of this inquiry.
It is not so certain how those presbyters were chosen ; but
from the command given to Chrestus, bishop of Syracuse, that
he would bring with him to the provincial ^ Synod of Aries
" two of the second thrones," i. e. two presbyters, and from
other circumstances, it has been supposed that the choice
of those persons rested generally with the diocesan bishops,
though the custom may have varied according to the usages
in different parts of the Church. Now though one may meet
during the earlier part of our present period with no decided
assertion of the presence of chosen presbyters in national
and provincial synods, yet certain expressions occur in the
records of our ecclesiastical assemblies of that date which
may well be supposed to include them ; and without doubt
towards the latter part of this period the presence of sucb
members is distinctly asserted. In proof of this we may
observe, that at the national Synod * of London, a. d.
1075, the assembly is said to have been composed of
bishops, abbots, "and also of many persons of the ecclesi-
astical orderT In the national^ Synod of Lambeth, a.d.

' "Ac dicti archidiaconi cum Uteris . . . factis ex parte clericorum qui subsunt
eisdem," &c. — Cone. Mag. Brit, citing Annal. Burton, p. 381.

■• " Conveniant una cum aliquibus personis majoribus de suis capitulis et locoruni
archidiaconis, et procuratoribus totius cleri dioecesium siugularura." — Cone. Mag.
Brit, citing Reg. Giffard Wigorn. fol. 71. ' See chap. iii. pp. (J2 et seq.

'' Concilium AngliciE regionis." — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 364.

' " Necnon et multarum religiosi ordinis personarum." — Couc. Mag. Brit. i. Wi

A.D. 1070

"■ Coiic.
Mag. Brit.
i. 755, &
note, & 746.
" Conr.
Ma^'. Brit.
citing Matt.
West, in
an. l-2(il.
5' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. bO.

'■ Bingliam,
Oriar. Eccl.
book ii. c.
19, sec. 1-2.

' Cue.
IM^i- Brit.




A. D. 1070


^ Cone.
Maz. Brit.
i. 410.

c Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 41 1.

•■ Cone.
Mag. Brit.

•^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 314.

f Cone.
IMag. Brit,
ii. 1.

1100, Archbishop Anselm declared that the cause in ques-
tion, being the marriage between K. Henry I. and Matilda,
"should be determined by the judgment of ihe ecclesiastical
persons of ihe kingdom *." In the account of the national **
Synod of Westminster, a. n. 1127, the assembly is said to
consist " of sundry * ecclesiastical persons of aM England.'''' To
the national '^ Synod of London, held at Michaelmas, a. d.
1129, '"'■ all^ to whom the care of religion teas committed''''
were summoned. At the legatine Synod of Winchester, .a.d.
1143, ^^ many ^persons of the ecclesiastical order'" are repre-
sented as sitting with the archbishop, bishops, and abbots.
In the case of the national^ Synod of S, Alban's, a.d. 1206,
after the higher members of the assembly are mentioned, it is
said that '"'' other "^ of the clergy also met to treat" of the matter
in question. And the prohibition, moreover, sent by K. John,
was directed in similar' terms : " To the archbishops, bishops,
abbots, archdeacons, and to all the clergy assembled at S. Al-
ban's, greeting,'' &c. To the legatine synod held in S. PauFs
Cathedral *", London, a.d. 1268, there were called, besides the
greater prelates, "all those . . . who had any office of dignity
in the Church *." Such expressions, connected with the earlier
portion of this period, may be supposed to include chosen
presbyters, though they do not actually assert their presence
in the greater ecclesiastical synods.

But towards the latter end of this period we find positive
proof that chosen presbyters were most assuredly constituent
members of our provincial synods, and that they do not date
their right to seats in those assemblies from any financial
arrangements of K. Edward I. That right depends on the
ancient principles of the Christian Church, and has been

* " Causam judicio religiosanim personarum regni determinandam pronunciat."
— Cone. Mag. Brit, citing Eadmer, lib. iii. Hist. Nov.

' " Quarumque religiosarum personarum totius Angliae." — Cone. Mag. Brit,
citing Continuator of Flor. Wigorn.

* " Omnes denique quorum curae religio erat commissa." — Cone. Mag. Brit,
citing Chron. Sax. in an. Xti. 1129.

2 " Et alii ex clericis apud S. Albanum conveniebant," &c. — Cone. Mag. Brit,
i. 514.

' " Rex arehiepiscopis, episcoi)is, abbatibus, archidiaconis et omni clero apud
S. Albanum eonvoeato salutem," &e, — Ibid.

* " Convocatis universis . . . qui quoeunque prselationis titulo prsesidere vide-
bantur."— Cone. Mag. Brit, citing Chron. Wikcs. in an. 12G8.



handed down through all periods of her history. Tn the
provincial Synod of Canterbury, held at the New ^ Temple,
London, a.d. 1269, the gravamina of the clergy of that
province were proposed, and those gravamina were addressed
to the members of the synod, among whom rectors * and vicars
are expressly mentioned by name. To the provincial synod
held at the New'' Temple, London, a.d. 1273 (held, be it re-
membered, not for granting subsidies, but for pure® ecclesi-
astical purposes), each bishop was commanded " to bring with
him certain chosen assessors, to the number of three ' or four,
from his Church and diocese," after the example of that primi-
tive practice to which reference has before been made. And
finally, to the provincial J Synod of London, a.d. 1277, the
clergy ' proctors for the several dioceses were distinctly and
specially summoned by the writs issued to the suffragans on
that occasion, in accordance with the mandate of Archbishop
Robert Kilwarby. And that this was a pure provincial synod,
convened for ecclesiastical purposes, we are assured by the fact
that the clergy proctors were to meet there in order to treat
with the bishops and other members on matters touching
the " rights, customs, liberties, and dangers of the English

In speaking here of the diocesan proctors, it should be
remembered that the capitular proctors are reckoned under
the same head q^ chosen -presbyters \i\\X\ \h^m.. The capitular
proctors sit as of ancient right in our provincial synods,
having been summoned, for example, by name to the provincial
synod held at S. Paul's '', London, a.d. 1226 n. s., under the
term '■'' proctors^ of the cathedral churches^'' By the mandate

^ *' Coram vobis venerandi patres et episcopi provinciEe Cantuar. abbates, priores,
rectores et vicarii . . . congregati," &c. — Cone. Mag. Brit, citing MS. CCC.
Oxford, Numb. 154.

^ " Super statu Ecclesiae et ecclesiasticarum libertatum." — Reg. Giffard Wigorn.
fol. 41.

' " Suffraganeos nostros auctoritate nostra faciatis peremptorie per vestras lite-
ras evocari, quatenus nobiscum in civit. London in crastino B. Hylarii in propriis
personis conveniant, una cum aliquibus personis majoribus de suis capitulis, et loco-
rum archidiaconis, et procuratoribus totius cleri diaecesium singularum, nobiscum
super negotiis memoratis tam prsedictis quam instantibus efficacius tractaturi." —
Reg, Giffard Wigorn. fol. 71.

* " Procuratores ecclesiarum cathedralium." — Cone. !Mag. Brit, citing Reg.
Poore. Sarum, fol. 100—138 seq.

A.D. 1070

g Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 19.

h Cone.
Mag. Br
ii. 2G.

' Cone.
Masr. Brit,
ii. 26.

J Cone.
Ma?. Brit.
ii. 30.

k Cono.
Man;. Brit,
i. 603.




A. D. 1070


Mag. Brit.
ii. 26.
w Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 30.

""" See p.
231, note 7.

to the provincial synod held at the New' Temple, London,
A. n. 1273, '■'•tliree^ or four persons of the greater^ more discreet^
and prudent of Ms Church and diocese^'''' were to be brought
by each bishop. And lastly, to the provincial'" Synod of
London, A. D. 1277, "some' of the greater 2)ersons of the cathedral
chapters'''' were summoned.

Thus clearly do we find during this period of our history that
chosen preshyters were members of our provincial synods, and
clearly also the precedent is laid down, in the mandate '"™ to
the synod last mentioned, for that part of the constitution of
the English convocations which gives the diocesan clergy, as
we shall see hereafter, the right of deputing their chosen re-
presentatives to attend in those ancient ecclesiastical assem-

All the foregoing detail must of necessity appear intolerably
dry : by some it may be thouglit to have a worse fault — that
of being useless. But it can hardly be justly so called, if those
pertinacious endeavours are borne in mind which have been
made in many quarters to shew that archbishops and bishops
only are the proper constituent members of the greater eccle-
siastical synods ; and that the right of the second order of
the priesthood to have seats and voices there, is one of com-
paratively modern growth in our Church, dating its origin
from the pecuniary needs of that somewhat expensive monarch,
K. Edward \. A more reckless sally upon tlie truth of history
lias seldom been made; and even though the process of coun-
termining may be somewhat tiresome, yet it does seem neces-
sary by positive proofs to defend the essential outworks of our
position, and to maintain the integrity of our convocations as
built upon the ancient foundations of the provincial synods of
England, and of the primitive assemblies of the Christian Church.

XIX. Reprc- But it becomes at this point a matter of
^ntrm"umi'"7nt^ interest to inquire how it is that the chosen
EngianiL prcsbytcrs in the English convocations are not

now selected by their respective diocesans, according to the

' " Et ducat secum ad prjedirtam congi-egationem 3 vel 4 personas de majoribus
discretioribus et prudontioribus sua; Kcclesite et dioeceseos." — Reg. Gifiard
Wigorn. fol. 41.

' " Conveniant una cum ali(iuibus ]iorsoiiis majoribus do xiiix cnpitiilis." — Reg.
Giftard Wigorn. fol. 71.



A digression.

practice which seems to have prevailed in the primitive Church,
but are elected by the voices of their brethren to take a part
in the deliberations of those assemblies. To set this matter
in a clear light, it is necessary to glance at some facts connected
with our national history.

The constitution of this country underwent a re-
markable change in the reign of K.Henry III. After
the Norman Conquest the great councils or parliaments of Eng-
land consisted, 1 , of the king ; 2. of the greater clergy sitting by
"a double" title — by prescription as having always possessed
that privilege through the whole Saxon period . . . and by their
right of baronage as holding of the king in capite by military
service" — and 3. of the barons", who, as holding under the crown
by military tenure, had a right to be consulted, and, as being vas-
sals of the sovereign, were bound to give attendance upon him.
There was also another class who were constituent members of
those assemblies; these were " the tenants p in capite by knights'
service." " A barony pp was commonly composed of several
knights' fees," but even " where ^ a man held of the king only
one or two knights' fees, he was still an immediate vassal of the
crown, and as such had a title " to give his voice in the great
councils of the realm. Such were the constituent members of
the great councils or parliaments of this country down to the
year 1258, the forty-second year of K. Henry III. In that
year there assembled at Oxford, on the 11th of June, that
great council which, from the subsequent confusions attending
its measures, has been denominated in history the " mad"^ par-
liament;" and whether every parliament which works such
radical changes upon our constitutional system will receive a
similar appellation, must depend greatly upon the particular
views of those who shall chronicle its acts.

From that date, however, we may trace the rise and progress
of our present representative system. A feud of long standing
had existed between the king and his barons, which, as a fire
previously smouldering, at length burst out with unquenchable
violence. The barons brought with them on this occasion
their vassals % and appearing in military array, in reahty held
the king as a prisoner, who had taken no precautions against
such an unexpected proceeding, and was obhged to submit to
those terms which they chose to impose. Twelve' barons

A. D. 1070


" Hume's
App. No. :

P Ibid.
PP Ibid.

■■ Ilunie,
cap. xii.

Rvmer, i.

2445. &
Chion. vol.
i. p. 334.




A.D 1070

" Ilunic,
cap. xii. p.
13'2, quotes
Rynier, vol.
i. p. 802.

were chosen from the king's ministers, twelve more by the
great council, and to these twenty-four was committed au-
thority to reform the state, the king having previously bound
himself by an oath to maintain such ordinances as they should
enact. It was ordered by this commission that four knights
should be elected by each county, whose duty it should be to
make inquiry into the grievances complained of in their respec-
tive localities, and " to attend at the ensuing parliament in
order to give information to that assembly of the results of
their investigations. This was "a nearer' approach to our
present constitution than had been made by the barons in the
reign of K. John, when the knights were only appointed to meet
in their several counties, and there to draw up a detail of
their grievances." The present proceeding was one great step
towards the existing state of our representative system, and
was the uniting link which connected the feudal and elective
principles of our constitution together.

Six years and a half afterwards, a.d. 1265, Jan. 20, a parlia-
ment was summoned to meet in London under the auspices of
the Earl of Leicester, and from this assembly the constitution
of our present parliaments may be fairly dated. The principle
of elected knights, which had, as we have seen, been before
acknowledged, now took a definite form, in its main features
similar to that by which our representatives in the House of
Commons are to this day chosen. On this occasion an order
was promulgated that two knights should be returned for each
shire, and that deputies should be sent up from the boroughs ;
and thus an order of men was brought in, who aforetime " had
been regarded as too mean to enjoy a place in the national
councils ^^." Thus was the representative system introduced
into England. And from this date we find that principle
contained in the constitution of this country, which, what-
ever may be its drawbacks, is our best defence against
monarchical u.surpations, as well as against those petty but
far more galling tyrannies which sycophants and time-serving
courtiers, too plentiful a crew in every generation, are always
ready to inflict upon the weak and defenceless.

XX. How It is not wonderful that this principle, so

ca'rtor:Eed agreeable to the genius of our race, and so

by the clergy.

instrumental in that great change which now




passed upon the feudal system, should have exercised a great
influence over the minds of men. It was a principle which
had before been recognized in the ecclesiastical system ; and
now that it was fairly introduced into the constitution of the
state, it is reasonable to suppose that its claims would be more
commonly canvassed, its advantages more fully estimated,
and its adoption more widely spread ; nor is it surprising
that while extending its influence more generally, it should
not have remained confined to the selection of the lower
constituent members of our parliaments. For it was a
principle generally applicable to all the great institutions of
the country ; and among the rest, the Church, which had long
before partially sanctioned it in the matter of the archidia-
conal letters of proxy, now extended it to the election of
the '■'• chosen presbyters,'''' called ^roc^ors, under the auspices of
Archbishop Robert Kilwarby.

It has been shewn in a former part ^ of this inquiry, that
presbyters were, in the early ages of the Church, members of
the greater ecclesiastical synods, — it has been shewn that
they were members of those assemblies during the British and
Anglo-Saxon periods ^ of our national history ; and in this
chapter we have seen that, in this respect, after the Norman
Conquest their ancient rights were recognized. The change,
therefore, which now took place made no alteration in the
constitution of our synods by introducing a new order of clergy
into those assemblies, but only in the manner by which the
members of that order were chosen. In the primitive Church
it is believed that the presbyters who sat in the greater
synods were usually selected by the bishops of the several
dioceses (though it is said that the rule in this respect
probably varied according to the usage of the respective
Churches) ; and this practice, during the earlier part of the
present period, obtained in the Church of England. This
is plain from the account remaining upon our records of the
legatine Synod of Westminster % a.d. 1138. On that occa-
sion Thurstan, archbishop of York, was unable to attend on
account of illness; but besides William, the dean of York,
" he sent * thither some of his clergy." There is still, however,

2 " Infirmabatur Thurstanus Eboracensis Archiepiscopus, Willielmum tamen
ecclesise S. Petri Eboracensis decanum, cum quibusdam clericis suis illuc direxit."

A.D. 1070

Chaps, iii.

y Chaps. V.
vi. vii.

'■ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 413, 414.




A. D. 1070

> Cone.
Majr. Brit.
ii. •_'().

more direct and unanswerable evidence that at tliis time
certain chosen presbyters were selected by their bishop from
the respective dioceses to attend with him in the greater
synods, according to primitive usage. This may bo learnt
from the writ before referred to, and directed in the year
J1273 by Archbishop Robert Kihvarby to the Bishop of
London, directing him to summon a provincial synod to
meet at the New ^ Temple, London, in that year. That synod
was convened for purely ecclesiastical purposes ; for the
archbishop, "directing^ his mind with all anxiety to the
state of the Churches and of ecclesiastical persons, had
observed many things requiring correction and reformation.""
For such correction and reformation this provincial synod
was convened. The mandate ^ issued on that occasion, com-

— Cone. Mag. Brit, citing Rich. Hagustaldensis, de Gest. R. Stephani apud x
Scriptor. p. 324 seq.

•■' This mandate is so important to the present argument, that it is here tran-
scribed in full :

" Robertus, &c. mijeratione divina Cant. Archiep, totius Anglise Primas
venerabili in Christo fratri et Domino H. Dei gratia London Episcopo salutem
et fraternje dilcctionis in Domino sempiternum augmentum. Postquam cura
solicitudinis pastoralis officii nobis fuit divina permissione commissa et injuncta, ad
statum Ecclesiarum et ecclesiasticarum personarum quoad potuimus nostrae mentis
intuitum dirigentes, multa circa ea corrigenda et rcformanda comi)erimus : qua; de
fratrum et coepiscoporum nostrorum salubri consiUo necesse est sine morae dispendio
jier Dei adjutorium digne comgere ct in mehus reformare. Hinc est quod vene-
randae paternitati vestrse tenore praesentium mandamus, quatenus omnes Ecclesise
nostrae Cant, suffraganeos auctoritate nostra vocetis, quod conveniant apud Novum
Temjilum, London, die Mercurii prox. post initium festi Sancti Dionysii, super
statu Ecclesiarum et ecclesiasticarum libertatum, ac aliis quibusdam articulis neces-
sariis nobiscum tractaturi provisuri ct ordinaturi, quod ad Dei honorem et Eccle-
siae suae sanctae visum fuerit conveniens expedire. Et ut negotium liujusmodi
sanioi-i consilio fulciatur injungatis ex parte nostra singulis episcopis Ecclesitp
nostrai suffraganeis, td quilibet eorian vocet et ducat secum ad pnedictam con-
gregationem 3 vel 4 personas de majoribus discretioribus et prudentioribus suee
Ecclesiee et dioeceseos, nt communi mediante consilio tantum Ecclesice Dei nego.
Hum, ipsius misericordid suffragante, felicem sortiatur effectuni. \os etiam sub
forma comimili dictis die et loco compareatis et faciatis nos, per literas vestras
patentcs praesentium tenorem continentes, de hujus mandati nostri executione dili-
gente certiores. Dat, apud Aldington vn idus Sept. consecrationis nostrae anno

That this writ was duly executed by the Bishop of London, in compliance with
the commands of Archbishop Robert Kihvarby, is evident ; for in the registry of
the diocese of Worcester the summons of the Bishop of London in accordance
with it thus appears: "Hujus igitur auctoritate mandati vos vocamus ac vobis
injungimus, ut dictis die et loco compareatis secundum tenorem mandati Domini




manding the Bishop to London to summon the suffragan
bishops, contains these words : " Yott are to direct^ on our part.,
each of the suffragan bishops of our Church to call and bring
with him to the aforesaid synod three or four of the greater, more
discreet, and prudent persons of his Church and diocese, that by
the assistance of their common counsel such important affairs
of the Church of God, by his aiding mercy, may be brought to a
happy conclusion^''

Now the reader will be pleased to observe that K. Ed-
ward I. could have had nothing to do with these arrangements.
He was abroad at this time, not having yet returned from the
Holy Land, nor was he crowned •= as king until the following
year, viz. Aug. 19, 1274.

Here, then, we have in the year 1 273 a distinct and un-
answerable proof that at this time the principle was admitted
in the English Church of bishops bringing with them chosen
'presbyters to the greater ecclesiastical synods ; and tliis was
in accordance with the practice which obtained in the fourth
age at the provincial Synod of Aries, on which occasion the
names ^ of fifteen presbyters are found as having subscribed,
and whither Chrestus, bishop of Syracuse, was ordered " to
bring* with him at least two of the second throne," i.e. at
least two chosen presbyters.

At this point, then, we have chosen presbyters selected
by their bishops to sit in an English provincial synod ; and
now, as was before remarked, the representative principle
was gradually gaining ground in England. In accordance
with it, Archbishop Robert Kilwarby appears to have come
to the determination (and it may be reasonably supposed

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 25 of 83)