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

. (page 26 of 83)
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 26 of 83)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

that this determination was agreeable to the general feelings
of the Church) to make this alteration in his next mandate,
viz. that the chosen presbyters from each diocese should no
longer be selected at the discretion of the respective bishops,
but should be elected by the diocesan clergy according to that

Archiejnscopi supradicti. Dat. apud Cronden, 4 id. Sept. a.d. 1273." — Ex Reg.
Giffard Wigorn. fol. 41.

To the original of this writ I have had the opportunity of access, by the courtesy
of the gentleman in whose custody it is, in the registry of Worcester Cathedral.

See also Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 26, and Wake's State, p. 11 1.

* av^tv^aq mavTi^ icai ^vo yk rivag rwv ik tov Stvrepov Opni'ov. — Euseb.
Eccl. Hist. lib. x. c. 5.

A.D. 1070

<^ Hume,
cap. xiii.

•* Bine ham,
book ii. c.
19, sec. 12.




A. D. 1070

representative system which to this hour prevails in the
English Church. For in the fourth year after the provincial
synod held at the New Temple, a.d. 1273, and to which the
bishops were to bring from each diocese, according to their
own selection, " chosen presbyters^'' another synod of a like
character was ordered to meet in London, a.d. 1277. By
the mandate issued for this latter provincial synod, the next
in succession to that before mentioned, the clergy proctors
were specially summoned. The representative principle was
here clearly established, and the record which asserts it is
as plain as words can well be. The objects of this meeting
were for ecclesiastical purposes ; and it was evidently a pure
provincial synod, for the writ recites that " sundry business
touching the usefulness and honour of the whole English
Church had been proposed .... but still remained unfinished,
and that certain fresh circumstances had arisen also, which
threatened the overthrow of her rights, customs, and liberties,
and were full of great danger to her '." To remedy such evils
this provincial Synod of London was called, and among the
members are specially mentioned in the mandate the proctors
of the clergy^ i. e. the chosen presbyters, selected on the re-
presentative principle. The bishops were ordered " to meet
in London, together with some of the greater persons of
THEIR CHAPTERS, tlic archdeacons of the several arch-
DIOCESE, in order to treat with the archbishop more effec-
tually on the aforesaid and on other business ®.'''' From this

* " Negotia varia utilitatem pariter et bonorem totius Ecclesiae Anglicanae
tangentia in medio fuisse proposita . . . qujedam autem penitus inconsummata
existunt, emerserunt autem quaedam nova quae ad aversionem (nostrorum) juriura,
consuctudiimm, libertatum, et grave periculum Ecclesiae Anglicanae redundant." —
Reg. Giffard Wigorn. fol. 71.

« This mandate of Archbishop Robert Kilwarby is so important, as unanswerably
proving that at this time the representative principle was introduced into the
EngUsh Church in respect of chosen presbyters to attend in provincial synods, that
it is here given in full :

" Robertus Cant. Archiepiscopus 11. Lond(m Episco salutem, &c. Memi-
nimus, in congregatione nostra communi dudum habita Northampton, negotia varia
utihtatem pariter et honorem totius Ecclesiae Anglicanae tangentia in medio fuisse
proposita, in quorum executione licet viae dc communi consilio excogitatae fuisscnt,
et executorcs viarum priedictarum varii deputati, quia tamen in quibusdam nego-
tiis seu executionibus eorundem nobis adhuc exitus est incertus, quaedam autem




time, then, we may date the present constitution of the con-
vocations or provincial synods of England, settled on its
existing basis by pure ecclesiastical authority. Those pro-
vincial synods are in their united capacity the " true Church
of England ^ by representation." Long may they so continue
as the authorized interpreters of her doctrine, and the bul-
warks of her holy faith !

XXI False Statements have been most boldly promul-
statements re- gated and vcry widely spread, that the present

specting the con- . . ''„ J f ^ r

stitution of the Constitution of our convocations, and the pre-

convocations. • xi i i- n i i i i_

sence in those assemblies or elected proctors,
are to be traced not to the acts of the Church herself, but
to the policy of K. Edward I., and his exertions to tax the
clergy in order to satisfy his pecuniary needs. And these
statements have been received with extreme favour in some
quarters, though it can hardly be imagined for what reason,
save that such a theory tends to derogate from the genuine-
ness of our provincial synods, and to bring down contempt
upon the constitution of our national Church. During the
year 1852 they were repeated times without number. Most
mischievous statements they are, and most injurious to the

penitus inconsummata existunt, emerserunt autem quaedam nova quae ad aver-
sionem (nostrorum) jiirium, consuetudinum, libertatum, et grave periculum Eccle-
sise Anglicanoe redundant : fraternitati vestrse per prsesentia scripta mandamus,
quatenus omnes fratres et coepiscos seu suflFraganeos nostros auctoritate nostra
faciatis peremptorie per vestras literas evocari ; quatenus nobiscum in civit. Lon-
don in crastino B. Hylarii in propriis personis conveniant una cum aliquibm
personis majoribus de suis capitulis et locorum archidiaconis, et proctiratoribus
totius cleri dicecesium singularum, nobiscum super negotiis memoratis tam prsedic-
tis quam instantibus efficacius tractaturi : ut eisdem, eorundem communi mediante
consilio, finis imponatur laudabilis, ut ita incerta certitudinem et inconsummata
consummationem et emergentia nova consilium debitum sortiantur. Qualiter autem
hoc nostrum mandatum fueritis executi, nos per vestras literas patentes harum
seriem continentes certificare curetis die et loco prsedictis."

Dat. apud Mechlindon, 16 cal. Decembris, a.d. 1277- Ex Reg. Giffard
"Wigorn. fol. 71.

To the original of this writ I have had access, by the courtesy of the gentleman
in whose custody it is, in the registry of Worcester Cathedral.

Compare also " Wake's State," Appendix, p. 11, No. xv., where he transcribes
this very writ, thus falsifying his own statement made at p. 107 of his dreary
folio, in which he says, " Upon the best observation I can make, the cathedral
and diocesan clergy were not called to any of our provincial synods before the
10th of K. Edward I. (1282)." Such a statement suited the archbishop's con-
troversial purpose.

A.D. 1070

eCan. 139.



[chap, i

f Virg.
Georg. i.


K Cone.
Mas. Brit,
ii. 91.

es Atterb.
Rights, 350.
•> Ibid.

i Ibid. 352.
J Ibid.

k Ibid. 358.
' Atterb.
c. 2491-2.

"" Cone.
I^Iag. Biit.
ii. 215.

true interests of the Church. They are the commencement
of operations portending still more dangerous attacks, —

" Ergo <^e omnem impendes operam te opponere parvis

Foremost in the van came that ephemeral literature which is
daily wafted on the wings of steam to every part of the United
Kingdom, and from which too many in these days derive their
religious belief, their political bias, and their historical lore,
instead of thence learning this wholesome lesson, that hap-
hazard thoughts thro\\ n off under press of time are scai-cely a
safe basis upon which to lay the foundations of religion, of
government, or of knowledge. Then followed pamphlets,
documents of a still more august cliaracter, and speeches,
" thick as leaves in Vallombrosa," their authors hastening to
outstrip each other in the race, in order to appropriate to them-
selves the treasures of this fresh-discovered field of information.
The numbers, pages, and authors are too many to specify —

"... . agmine f magno
Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis,

Nesciof f qua prseter solitum dulcedine Iseti
Inter se strepitant foliis."

All, however, positively and absolutely referred the present con-
stitution of the sacred synods of the English Church to the acts
of K. Edward I. It is by no means here denied that that
monarch took strange liberties with the rights of the clergy;
that subsequently to the present constitution of our provin-
cial synods he used the most extraordinary means in the year
1282 to unite the lower clergy with the parliament (at first
indeed unsuccessfully), and to bring ^ the temporal goods of
the Church within the clutches of his tax-gatherers. It is not
denied that "he seized"" on all the clergy's wool — demanded''
half their movables, putting them under his own lock and
key — prosecuted' the clergy in his own court — ^judged J
them out of his protection, using these memorable words,
uttered '', alas ! by one of tlieir own order, ' that no right '
shall he done on their hehalfin the king''s courts, ^chat ever injuries
they receive, hut justice shall he done upon them at the suit of any
man.'' " It is not denied that he sunnnoned them to attend upon
his secular p)cirli(iment'' by the " pra'iuunientes '""'■' writ, a.d.

' The history of the summons of the clergy to parliament by K. Edward I. is
given in the following cliapter.



1295, with a view to make a more easy appropriation of their
worldly possessions. All this is by no means denied ; it is
admitted to be as true in fact as it is discreditable to his
memory ; but that these subsequent events altered the con-
stitution of our ecclesiastical synods, as previously settled, is
here most emphatically and unequivocally denied. To assert
that we derive the benefit of the constitution of the English
Church, previously settled on its present foundation, fi-om the
subsequent policy and acts of K. Edward I., is to take a like
liberty with historical truth, as though one should ascribe
Magna Oharta to the Long Parliament, date the Bill of Rights
from the accession of the Hanoverian dynasty, or refer the
present constitution of the House of Commons to the next
ensuing session of the imperial legislature. It requires an
understanding more than commonly improved to compre-
hend how the acts of K. Edward I. in 1282 and 1295 could
have affected the constitution of the Church's synods in 1273
and 1277.

An error of Lord When, as was observcd above, the clergy of
^°^^- England were put out of the protection of the

law by K. Edward I., and their property was not allowed to
stand upon the foot of those rights which are common to the
subject, it was not Sir Roger Brabazon ", as " Lord Coke too
hastily thought," who was employed in the vile office of pro-
nouncing that judgment. "No!" says Dr. Atterbury, "it
was John de Metingham, a clergyman, who uttered those
words, as the Annals" of Worcester expressly tell us, a fit
instrument to be made use of in the oppression of his bre-
thren.'" And then our author, perhaps too unkindly, remarks :
" For look through p all our history, and you shall find that
wherever the clergy have smarted under any great hardship,
some of their own order have been still at the bottom of it,
without whose helping hand the rights and privileges of the
Church never were and never would be invaded."

But the Church has rights far dearer, privileges far more
sacred than the lawful enjoyment of worldly possessions ; and
if the clergy had good reason then to complain that they were
unjustly despoiled of these, the Church has far greater reason
now to complain that in the endeavours which have been made
to date her constitution from a secular origin, and to sap

A. D. 1070

n Attcrb.
Rights, ?..57.

p. 520.




q Cone.
Ma2. Brit,
ii. 30.

>■ Hor. Epist.
i. 8. 16.

' Cone.
A.D. 747,
can. 25.

her divine foundations, she has been put out of the pro-
tection of history, and denied her just inheritance grounded
on the foot of those common rights, which are universally
claimed upon the authority of authentic records. And to any
one, be he clerk or layman, who makes such reckless assaults
upon the genuineness of her synods, and who, helping to de-
spoil her of her holy character, takes such unwarrantable
liberties with the ancient landmarks of history, I hope it is no
offence to say that Archbishop llobt. Kilwarby's mandate ^ to
the provincial Synod of London, a.d. 1277, is worthy of inves-
tigation and due consideration. It is not unreasonable to
make the poefs request in respect of it :

" Prseceptum ' auriculis hoc instillare memento."

^^„ „ , When by the archbishop's mandate the

XXII. Form of , , , f , , . , ,

a provincial sy- abbots and othcr prelates, with the religious

nod of this period. p n j ,1 , 7 • /» • 1

01 all orders, the rectors ana vicars oi parishes,
were called to a provincial synod, all matters were there ex-
amined which respected the wellbeing and discipline of the
Church, and the reformation of manners both among the
clergy and laity. It was the practice for each bishop to
represent to the synod those matters which he was unable to
reform within his own diocese ; and such complaints were
made publicly before the metropolitan and ^ the whole synod,
in order that the benefit of common deliberation and judg-
ment might be obtained.

At the appointed time of meeting the bishops ' appeared
vested in their albs ', with amyts ', copes, festal mitres, and
gloves ; the abbots came in surplices and copes, the privileged
abbots wearing their mitres ; the deans and archdeacons in
surplices, almuces, and copes ; and the rest of the clergy in
proper and decent attire. Two taper-bearers, clad in albs
and amyts, and bearing lighted candles, then preceded the
deacon and sub-deacon, the former of whom having first

* This is translated from Wilkins, " Epistolaris Dissertatio," Cone. Mag. Brit,
vol. i. p. 7-

' Vide Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. i. pp. GO?- 8, ad an. 1225.

^ Alb, made of fine linen. It was strait, without any surples, and had strait
sleeves. It had a headstall, and covered the whole body.

' Amyt. The innermost garment encompassed the breast and reins, and was
tied with two strings. Johns. Can. vol. i. p. 419.




sought the benediction from the president *, or, in his absence,
from the senior bishop, proceeded to read the Gospel, " I am
the good Shepherd." At the conchision of the Gospel the book
was kissed by the president and each bishop in turn. The
president then began the hymn, " Veni Creator,"" and between
the singing of each verse the altar was censed by the bishops.
After the hymn was finished, and the benediction had been
pronounced by the president, the preacher began his sermon
at the horn of the altar. At its conclusion the names of all
those who had been cited to the synod were called over, and
absentees were punished according to the canons.

It was in these times the established custom, that in such
provincial synods diligent care should be applied to the cor-
rection of excesses, and the reformation ' of manners ; and
that canonical rules should be read over and enforced, espe-
cially such as were authorized by general councils. It may
also be remarked that there is a footstep to be found during
this period of a practice, afterwards common in our provincial
synods, viz. — that the greater " prelates should separate from
the lower members of the assembly for private consultation. It
may be thought by some that this practice is now too uni-
versally carried out, and that a constant separation is not
warranted by the example of primitive Church synods, such
separation having now become the rule, the union of all the
members the exception. On the other hand, it may be said
that due reverence owed by presbyters to their reverend
fathers in God would naturally, and very justly, prevent the
former from using that freedom of speech and expression
before them, which are within their due bounds very whole-
some elements in the discussions of a deliberative assembly.
But whatever different opinions may be maintained on this
important subject, it is to be hoped that the right of presby-
ters to present in person, if they please, their peculiar " grava-
mina et reformanda " (in addition to their power of speak-
ing through their prolocutor) will never be curtailed ; and it
is also satisfactory to know, that whenever the metropolitan
and his suffragans deem it expedient, they may join into one
body the two assemblies now designated by the somewhat

* " Conservator." Vide can. seq. in loco.

A. D. 1070

- 1279.

' Cone.
Mag. B.
i. 607.

" Vid. Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 420.





A. D. 1070

* Cone.
.Mag. Brit,
i. 38-2.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 410.

X Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 382, quotes
& Eadmer.

exceptionable terms of "upper" and "lower house," and
thus at their discretion give thera the united character of
the apostolic synods of the primitive Church.

The admission of faithful laity to witness the proceedings in
which they ought to feel so deep and abiding an interest should
never be denied, except on cxtraordinai-y occasions, when, for
the general good of the Church, private deliberation may
appear to be desirable. That such a practice was admitted
in the period now before us, we may gather from some
vestiges which may be traced on the passages of history
during this period. For instance, at the national ^ Synod
of Westminster, a. d. 1102, there were present, "at Arch-
bishop Anselm''s request, some nobles of the kingdom ^^ To
witness the proceedings again of the national '^ Synod of
Westminster, a.d. 1127, a synod of a most august charac-
ter and prolonged through three sessions, " vast multitudes',
not only of the clergy, but of the laity, both rich and poor,
congregated together." Such facts are evidences of that
union of interest between the clergy and laity which is the
best security for the Church. The imitation of such examples
might tend to secure the happy event so anxiously desired
by Archbishop Anselm, and most assuredly by every well-
wisher to his country, that " whatever "" may be decreed by
the authority of the synod should be religiously observed, with
unanimous and sedulous care, by both orders in the common-

XXIII. Gene- Though a full meeting of all constituent mem-
rai remarks on bcrs would have sccured the perfection of a

the constitution . ^ _ ...

of national and national or provincial synod of this period, it
provincia synoi s. .^ ^^^ meant here to assert that all were on
every occasion summoned. Indeed such matters of detail
rested at this time, to some extent, upon the nature of the
business to be transacted ; and were arranged in some
measure according to the discretion of the archbishop who
called the synod together. But from the records existing

* " Huic conventui affuerunt, Anselmo Archiepiscopo petcntc a rcgc, primates
regni." — Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 382, quotes Eadmer, Hist. Nov. lib. iii. p. 07

^ " Confluxerunt quoquc illuc magnie multitudines clericorum, laicorum tam
divitum (juam mediocrium." — Cone. Mag. Brit, quotes Continuator Flor. Wigorn.
et MSS. Reg. 10, A. viii.




there is the evidence before adduced to shew that during this
period of our inquiry the constituent members of proper
provincial synods or convocations were those before specified,
viz. — 1. Archbishops. 2. Bishops. 3. Deans. 4. Abbots.
5. Priors. 6. Archdeacons. 7. Chosen Presbyters. These
are the constituent members now, as they were then, with the
exception, of course, of the abbots and priors, whose offices
were abohshed in our Church, when the nobles of this land,
urged on by the example of their king, betook themselves to
the practice of appropriating ^ to tlieir private use that which
belonged to others, and superadded to flagrant breaches of
the eighth commandment the more fearful crime of sacrilege,
so offensive in his sight who visits " the sins of the fathers
upon the children," even upon generations yet unborn —

" .... qui y vitse post mortem vindicat acta."

It is, then, upon the foundations of the provincial synods of
the period now before us that the constitutional fabric of the
English convocations at this day is built. Those synods were
usually engaged upon matters purely ecclesiastical, and were
commonly called at the will of the archbishop, though the king
sometimes took advantage of their meeting to sue benevo-
lences at their hands ; and sometimes, indeed, directed the
archbishop to call them, as in the case of the provincial ==
Synod of London, a.d. 1 226, for the purpose of obtaining
grants for his needs. We shall find this habit carried to a
far greater extent during the next period, insomuch that the
synods were frequently convened for fiscal purposes only ;
but their constitution was the same as that above described.
K. Edward I., and his successors, in summoning the clergy
to supply pecuniary wants, often desired the archbishops to call
together the convocations in their ecclesiastical form, and
composed of such members, and such members only, as had
before been admitted by ecclesiastical authority. In his
policy he did not initiate, but he followed the constitution of
the Church as already established. It is both unjust to the

7 " Prsedam adservabant : hue undique . . . gaza
Incensis erepta adytis, mensseque Deorum,
Crateresque auro solidi, captivaque vestis
Congeritur . . ."— Virg. ^n. ii. 763—66.

A.D. 1070

y Virg.
Culex, 275.

'• Cone.
Mac. Brit,
i. 603.



A. D. 1070

a Chas.
Spelm. apud
Cone. Mag.
Brit. vol. iv.
p. 783.

Church, and a violence to history, to refer to the exercise of
his arbitrary will that constitution of our convocations which
was the previous result of the wise discretion of her arch-
bishops, and of the acts of her proper synods. Our national
records are sufficiently clear on this point : of those who
ignore, misapply, or mutilate them it may justly be said —

" Qui a veteris Ecclesiae monumenta quae ipsi non sapiunt, mutat mutilatve, non
edit antiqua sed condit nova, synodorum decreta juris publici non facit, sed
proprii cerebelli somnia."







, Explanation of the tabular list. II. Accession of Archbishop John de Pec-
cham to the see of Canterbury. III. Convocations pure provincial synods.
IV. Of the royal writs commanding the metropolitans to summon provincial
synods— Set on foot by K. Edward I. — But for a time abandoned — Attempts to
execute them renewed by K. Edward II.— The clergy resist— They assign their
reasons for so doing — Their reasons for awhile prevail — Milder measures pur-
sued by K. Edward II. — Arrangements for a time satisfactory — Fresh diffi-
culties — Final arrangement of the matter — Royal writs issued and cheerfully
obeyed in the time of K. Edward III. — But metropolitans also summoned their
provincial synods whenever they pleased — Restraint upon them in this particular
dates only from a. d. 1534. V. Of the " prsemunientes " clause in the bishops'
writs of summons to parliament— A summons to parliament not to convocation
— Clergy summoned to the parliaments which met at Northampton and York,
A. D. 1283 N. s. — They decline to appear — " Prsemunientes " clause first ori-
ginated A. D. 1295 — The first occasion on which the constitution of convocation
was copied into a parliamentary summons — Convocation and parliament proc-
tors held different offices, and were frequently different persons — The clause
constantly executed and obeyed — Sir E. Coke's opinion on this subject — Due
execution of the writ neglected in the present day. VI. Constitution of the
English provincial synods or convocations of this period — Canterbury, list of
members in that synod — York, list of members in that synod. VII. General
remarks on the foregoing lists. VIII. Form of holding provincial synods during
this period — Canterbury — Yoi-k. IX. Of the separations of the provincial

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 26 of 83)