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 29 of 83)
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the following year (a. d. 1295). ]3ut this is an evident mis-
conception, as the " prremunientes "'"' call was to parliament %
this writ, on the other hand, now under consideration was

' "Clerusipse. . .vultu hilari ct jucundo . . .concessit liberaliter deciinam,"
&c.— Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 174.

* " Vocantesque prius arcliidiaconum totumque clcrum dictae diceccseos, facien-
tesque quod idem archidiaconus in propria persona sua, dictusque clerus per duos
procuratores idoneos plenam et sufficientem potestatem ab ipso clero habentes, una
vobiscum intersint," &c.— Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 201.



clearly intended upon the face of it to secure the meeting of a
national^ synod.

But for a time But the clcrgy of the kingdom were, it must
abandoned. y^^ presumed, unwilHng to be brought to an

ecclesiastical synod in this uncanonical way, for no repetition
of such an endeavour appears in this reign. In the following
year, indeed (a.d. 1295), the king endeavoured to bring them
to parliament by the " praemunientes '" clause, but of that we
shall see the event hereafter ; and that matter, moreover,
being beside our present purpose, must not be further entered
into here. It appears, as was said, that the clergy were
unwilling to give their attendance in an ecclesiastical
synod at the direct commands of the king, as '' tending to
abolish their provincial synods convened '^ by regular eccle-
siastical authority," and to supplant them by an assembly
convened under the secular power. For not only did no
repetition of this attempt occur for some time, but we find
that the six ' next provincial synods were held by the direct
commands and under the original jurisdictions of the respec-
tive archbishops, without any interposition of royal authority.
And when again some interference upon a subsequent occasion
did take place, it was only by an affectionate ^ request on
his majesty's part, that the clergy might be summoned to
their proper provincial synods in the due canonical way. This
request was made from S. Alban's (a.d. 1298); and Arch-
bishop Robert Winchelsey acceded to it on account of the
urgency ^ with which it was preferred. But on this occasion,
so far as records inform us, no royal writ was issued, but only
the above-mentioned milder course was pursued, as being
better calculated to soften the feelings of the clergy after
the very strange aggression lately made upon their rights *"
and persons as subjects, and as being also more likely to
secure a cheerful and willing grant of the substantial assist-
ance so much required by the king's needs. Indeed during
the remainder of the reign of K. Edward I. no royal writ for

3 New Temple a. d. 1295 Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 215.

S.Paul's, London.. „ 1297 n. s. „ „ 219.

S.Paul's, London.. „ 1297 .. „ 225.

New Temple „ 1297 „ „ 22G.

New Temple „ 1297 ,, „ 229.

York „ 1297 „ „ 235.

A. D. 1279

'' Wake's
State, pp.
Eccl. Syn.

<^ Pearce,
Law Conv.
p. 14.

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 236.

f Hume, p.




A.D. 1279

g Cone.
M:ig. Brit,
ii. 44-2.

Attempts to ex
ecute them re-
newed by K. Ed-
ward II.

the summoning of convocations appears to have been issued,
though such assembHes were continually held in accordance
with the mandates of the metropolitans. Nor was the king
careful to assign the seasons for the celebration of synods,
so long as his exchequer was supplied by the ^)ar//«mig?i#, to
which the clergy now came under the execution of tlie bishops""
writs containing the " prpemunientes " clause.

In the seventh year, however, of his son and
successor, K, Edward II. (a.d. 1814), an
attempt was again made to compel the attend-
ance of the clergy in provincial synod, by a royal writ
directed to Archbishop Walter Raynold during the first year
of his accession to the see of Canterbury. At that time Robert
Bruce and his adherents had occupied ^ sundry towns and
fortresses in Scotland, devastated churches, oratories, and
other sacred places in that country ; and had put to death
persons of both sexes who were there attached to the interest
of the English. The Scotch had marched on Berwick-upon-
Tweed'^, and threatened to invade the English frontiers.
Under these circumstances K. Edward II. determined to
advance as far as Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in order to check, if
possible, the encroachments of the enemy ; and thinking that
the clergy ought to bear a share in the expenses of this ex-
pedition, he directed a writ, dated from AVestminster on the
25th JNIarch, a.d. ]314, to Archbishop Walter Raynold,
desiring him to summon his provincial Synod of Canterbury
to meet at Westminster on the day following Ascension day
in that year *. The synod was to be held in the presence of

* The king's writ to the archbishop was couched in these words :
" Vobis mandamus rogantes quatenus aliis prsetermissis, sitis in propria persona
vestra aj)ud Wcstm. in crastino Ascensionis Domini pros, futur. coram fidelibus
nostris ad hoc deputandis, ad tractandum cum eisdem super competenti au.xilio
a clero provincise vestrae Cantuar. nobis impendendo, e.x causis praedictis pro utili-
tate reipub. et statu Ecclesise S. i-elevando a servitute prsedicta, i)rout in proximo
parliamento nostro apud Westm. habito tam per clerum quam per communitatem
regni nostri existit concordatum, et prout per prpedictos fidelcs nostros eritis requi-
siti ; et ad eundem diem venire faciatis coram dictis fidelibus nostris suffraganeos
vcstros, decanos et priores ecclesiarum cathedralium, archidiaconos, abbates ex-
emptos et non exemptos i)rovinciie vestrae in propriis personis suis, capitula etiam
singula dictarum ecclesiarum cathedralium per singulares jirocuratores, et clerum
cujus(iue dioeceseos ejusdem provinciae per duos procuratores suffi.iontes, ad trac-
tand. et consentiendum una vobiscum his, quae in premissis ibidem tunc contigerit




some of the king''s counsellors deputed by him to treat with
the members on the subject of a competent subsidy.

Tiie clercry re- -^^^^ *^^® d^rgy had before this submitted to
^'s*- the new call to parliament under the " prsemu-

nientes" clause in the bishops"' writ, and accordingly had
cheerfully and very fully given their attendance; as, for instance,
in the case of the last parliament held by the late king at
Carlisle. But they thought the present a dangerous aggression
upon the rights of the Church, and one which they were bound
to resist, as being an encroachment upon the liberty of the
metropolitans as to the times and seasons when they should,
in the exercise of their own discretion, sunmion their pro-
vincial synods. Moreover, the present proceeding seemed to
degrade the provincial synod to the level of a mere state con-
vention, as threatening the presence of la^ counsellors, who
were to appear there in order to set before the assembly the
exigencies of the royal exchequer. Upon the assembly ^ of
the synod the clergy therefore put in their objections against
the form of this royal citation, which had been repeated in the
archiepiscopal mandate.

The objections were briefly as follow :
their reasons for 1st. They allege that it tends manifestly to
the J subversion of ecclesiastical liberty that the
clergy should be called to convocation by the royal authority ;
that such an exercise of it was contrary to custom and to

2ndly. Tliat such ^ writs issuing from royal authority had
been condemned in a recent provincial synod, and that
the whole clergy had agreed that convocation could not be
thus rightly summoned, as all memory and history runs the
contrary way.

Srdly. That such' a royal command might hereafter serve
as a precedent prejudicial to the Church of Canterbury.

4thly. That a ^°^ metropolitan had no authority to convene
the clergy of his suffragans out of their dioceses, except in
certain cases, of which this was not one, and that such a writ

ordinari. Et hoc, sicut vos et honorem nostrum et vestrum, acutilitatem reipubl.
et relevationem Ecclesise sacrse ab hujus servitute diligitis, modis omnibus faciatis.
— T. meipso apud Westm. 25 die Martii, anno Regni nostri vii." — Cone. Mag.
Brit. ii. 442, citing Rot. Claus. 7 Ed. II. M. 8, d. et Reg. Henr. Prior Cantuar.
fol. 147.

A.D. ]279

' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 442.

J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 443.

k Ibid.





A.D. 1279

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 443.


o Ibid.

r Ibid.

'I Waki-'s
State, I).
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 444.

might tend hereafter to the prejudice of the bishops, and the
injury of their clergy.

5thly. That " it had never been usual to convene the clergy
at a place like Westminster, exempt from ordinary authority,
and that therefore the present summons for the purposes
enjoined was not binding.

6thly. That "" since laity could not be judges over persons
or causes ecclesiastical, the fact of the archbishop and his
suffragans, the prelates and clergy, being summoned to appear
in the presence of the king"'s deputies, persons armed with no
ecclesiastical authority, might serve hereafter as a precedent
not only pernicious, but utterly subversive of Church autho-

7thly. That° since neither the priors of monasteries, nor
the convents under abbots had been cited, the persons sum-
moned could not proceed to deal with property which was not
represented in the assembly.

Sthly and lastly. That p subsidies were only to be granted
by the Church in accordance with ancient rights, as specified
by the ecclesiastical canons ; and that the clergy could not,
therefore, vote supplies on the present occasion without
injury to the liberty of the Church, and manifest opposition to
sacred constitutions.

The clergy upon these grounds prayed the archbishop to
obtain a revocation of tlie royal writ^ and to cancel the
citation which he had himself issued — that citation having
been incorporated with the offensive document.

These reasons so fari prevailed with Arch-

licir reasons

tor awiuie pre- bishop Walter Raynold, that he withdrew "^ the
documents complained of, and gave the clergy
their option of now proceeding to treat under protest, or of
waiting for a more legitimate citation. On the latter course
they determined, at the same time claiming the archbishop's
protection against the indignant threats of some ill-satisfied
courtiers, and giving assurances of their loyal disposition
towards the king and country.

* " Rcvocationpin brevis liiijus impctrare, ot hujusmodi rcvocatione habita, prfc-
dictam citationcm, tarn pcriculosam et ecclcsiasticse libortatc quamplurimum dero-
gantom, ex patcrna provisione dignctur circumducere vcstra patcrnitas reverenda."
— Cone. JIag. Brit. ii. 443, citing Reg. Eccl. Cantuar. H. fol. 194 seq.




The archbishop subsequently issued his mandate ^ in the due
canonical way for a convocation, which was held at S. PauFs*,
London, a.d. 1314, and there being now no just exceptions
to the citation and circumstances of the meeting, as in the
former case, the required subsidy was granted ".

A like course was pursued in the province of York on this
occasion. The king's writ', directed to the archbishop of
that province, and similar to that sent to the Archbishop of
Canterbury, ordered the northern synod to meet on the mor-
row after Trinity Sunday, 13 14, It does not appear whether
the northern clergy remonstrated in the same terms as those
of the southern province, but at any rate the result of the
meeting was to the same effect. It was arranged that a pro-
per convocation, assembled in the ancient canonical way,
under the direct commands of the metropolitan, should meet
at York on the 26th of June, They met, and there granted
their subsidy.

,,., , Thus K. Edward II. found, by competent

Milder mea- , •' '■

suies pursued by experience, that these rough measures of com-
manding the metropolitans to summon their
provincial synods to meet in the presence of his commissioners,
and in the case of the southern province at a place exempt
from ordinary jurisdiction, were not likely to succeed; and
the metropolitans also perceived that the clergy were willing
and ready to attend, if summoned in the ancient way, without
the addition of the king's writ attached to the provincial
mandate. A more mild and conciliatory course was therefore
now pursued, and one which availed to secure the desired
results without raising scruples and remonstrances, which, to
say the least, were not groundless.

For shortly afterwards, the king having held his parlia-
ment "^ at Lincoln, and having been attended by the parlia-
mentary clergy, summoned, as was now the custom, under
the prsemunitory ^ clause, obtained the promise of a subsidy.
In order to assess the amount to be levied on the clergy, he
desired that provincial synods should be held, and directed a
writ from Lincoln (dated Feb, 16, 1316 n,s.) to the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, desiring him to call his convocation
together a fortnight after Easter. But this writ was couched
in a far milder strain than the former, against which so much

A. D. 1279
— 150U.

s Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 444.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 445.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 451.
* Wake's
State, p.

" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 256.

" Wake's
State, p.




>■ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 457.

^ Cone.
JMair. Brit,
ii. 458.
* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 46-2.

exception had been taken. The clergy were now to meet
before their" metropoHtan, his authority^ was justly recog-
nized, and they were also to assemble in their accus-
tomed * |)lace, subject to ordinary jurisdiction. No mention,
as in the former case, was now made of royal deputies as
about to be present in the synod, but only some of the king's
council were to attend at the appointed time to receive the
answers of the clergy, and report them to their royal master '.

In obedience to this writ, though without reciting it in the
archiepiscopal mandate, which might again have proved an
offence, the Archbishop of Canterbury smnmoned his convo-
cation to meet a fortnight after Easter at S. Paul's >', London;
and thus, in accordance with the king's desire, the clergy met
in their proper provincial synod, summoned in the due ca-
nonical way, without the public exhibition of any royal docu-
ment commanding attendance. The king's wishes were thus
satisfied, and the consciences of the clergy and the ancient
rights and privileges of the Church were in a manner

Another convocation was held at S. Paul's^ in this year,
which was summoned by the archbishop in the same way.
Four convocations^ were also held at York. Archbishop
Grenefeld had lately died, but during the vacancy of that see
the king's writs were directed to the guardians of the spiri-
tualties — the dean and chapter — who acted for the time in
the place of the metropolitan.

Arrangements ^^ ^^"^ *""^ ^^^^ arrangements seem to have
for a time satis- been Satisfactory. The kinjr, having: receded

factory. „ i m • ts' _ 6

irom the offensive matters contained in his
writs issued in the year 1314, upon which the clergy scrupled
to meet, now directed writs of a less assuming character to
the metropolitans, who in consequence sunmioned the clergy,
though at the royal instigation, yet upon their own authority ;
and then the clergy, " as they appeared ^ to obey their spiri-
tual superior, no longer hesitated to meet in convocation."

o " Coram vobis." — Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 456.
' " Vestra auctoritato intcrvenieiite." — Ibid.
* " In loco debito convocentur." — Ibid.

^ " Mittemus autem ad vos ad diem prsedictam quo-sdam de eoncilio nostro ad
responsionem vostram . . . audiendam, et nobis postmodum reportandam."— Ibid.




„,,.„, But ag-ain, in the year 1323 n. s. new diffi-

Fresh difficul- .

ties. culties of the old character again arose.

The king, troubled by fresh aggressions of the Scotch, and
requiring a subsidy, issued a royal writ *=, directing Archbishop
Walter Raynold to summon his provincial synod. The synod
was called in consequence of it by the archbishop, and met at
Lincoln"^ on the festival of Hilary, Jan. 13, 1323 n.s. But
the clergy, oppressed by the king\s demands, having lately
granted him two-tenths of their incomes, again remonstrated
against being called together under royal authority, and re-
ferred to the dangers which thus impended over the liberties
of the Church, and to the protests on this subject which they
had delivered between eight and nine years before at the pro-
vincial Synod® of Westminster, a.d. 1314, and which we have
previously considered.

And here a fresh hitch evidently arose, because, though the
king issued his writ ^ towards the end of this year for the
summoning of the York Convocation, and probably for the
summoning of the Canterbury Convocation also, those § writs
were withdrawn, and a memorandum is placed on the parlia-
mentary rolls, that the clergy of neither province should be
called together.

Final an-an e- Finally, howevcr, after the last disastrous
mentof the mat- evcuts of K. Edward II.'s troubled reign had

ter — Royal writs ,.,.,, .

passed, and the " whirlwmd s sweepmg sway
was hushed, in the first year of his son and
successor, K. Edward III., this long-rankling
sore seems to have been closed by some healing applications,
and an arrangement between the royal and archiepiscopal
authority in the matter of summoning provincial synods was
agreed upon, which prevails down to this day. This happy
conclusion to so long-pending a dispute we may date from the
provincial Synod of Leicester ^ a.d. 1327. The Scotch still
continued their aggressions. The young king held his parlia-
ment at Lincoln, in order to devise means for restraining them ;
and in accordance with the counsels' which there prevailed,
he directed his letters to Archbishop Walter Raynold, desir-
ing him to convene his provincial synod. In accordance with
this request the archbishop summoned the Canterbury Con-
vocation J to meet at Leicester on the 4th of November.

issued and cheer
fully obeyed in
the time of K.
Edward III.

A.D. 1279

e Cone.
Mag. Biit.
ii. 516.

d Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 517.

p Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 442, 443.

f Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 520.

g Rot.
Glaus. 17

F:d. II. M.

27 dorso.
cited in
Cone. Mag.
Brit. ii. 520.

h Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 538-9.

' Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 539.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 538. &
State, p.




A. D. 1279

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 546. &
I State, p.

'Nov. 16th,

I B Cone.

Mae. Brit.
I ii. 54C-7.

" Cone.
: Magr. Brit.
i ii. 5.58.

o Cone.
Mag. Brit
ii. 559.

P Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 575-6.
1 Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 575.

That of York met previously on the 12th of October '^j and
both transacted the business for which they were convened.
Thus Archbishop Walter Raynold, after having held his see
through troublous times, had the satisfaction at least of see-
ing this collision between the archiepiscopal and royal power
satisfactorily arranged before his death, which soon followed '.

One stretch of authority was, however, attempted by K. Ed-
ward III. in reference to the last-mentioned York Convoca-
tion, which was resisted in the northern province. It was
this : a royal writ was issued, desiring the Archbi.shop of York
to convene his convocation at Lincoln. This was inadmi.s-
sible, because, as the clergy justly pleaded, they could not be
summoned to a provincial synod out of their own province,
and their remonstrance was duly allowed ; the archbishop
receded from his original summons, and convened them in the
due canonical way in his metropolitical city of York™.

The practice, however, now became general, that the con-
vocations should be summoned in obedience to the king's
commands, but canonically by the archbishop commanding
the clergy to appear before himself, the king's writ express-
ing to the archbishop that they should meet "before you'","
the archbishop's mandate summoning to appear "befoiie
ME \'" Upon such terms the provincial Synod ° of Lambeth,
A.D. 1331, was held, and the York Convocation met also on
the same day and in the same year under the like united
royal and archiepiscopal authority °.

Finally, in the eighth year of K. Edward III., a.d. 1834,
we have the record of a royal writ, desiring the then arch-
bishop, John Stratford, to summon his provincial Synod of
Canterbury in order to vote a subsidy, neces.sary on account
of the expeditions against the Scotch and Irish. The arch-
bishop in con.soquence issued his mandate, and convened his
synod P at S. Paul's, London. The royal writ issued on this
occasion is recorded % and from that time to this, whenever
the sovereign has desired that provincial synods should be held,
the same practice has virtually prevailed ; and upon compari-
son it will appear that there is but little substantial variation
between the royal writ of that year and the royal writs for

'" " Coram vobis." — Cone. Mag. Bi-it. ii. 558.
' " Coram nobis." — Ibid.




convocation which are now issued in our own times. At any
rate the writ issued in the thirteenth year of this king, a.d.
1339, is very similar to those now in use in the reign of her
Majesty Queen Victoria. A copy of K. Edward III.'s writ is
given in the note \ that any reader who cares to investigate
the subject may compare it with the modern documents'.

By such gradual steps did the present practice obtain of
the sovereign's ordering the archbishops to convene their
synods ; and, as we have seen, it was finally settled in the
time of K. Edward III. without any remonstrance being then
raised against it. The clergy were content to meet, so it were
within their own province, and at the command of their me-
tropolitan, exercising his proper canonical authority; and
even if he was instigated by the king to exercise that prero-
gative, this did not, upon consideration, appear to lessen the
obligation of the ecclesiastical summons, or to absolve them in
any way from paying to it due canonical obedience. Nor
do they shew any less willingness at this day to respect the
commands of their spiritual and temporal superiors, though
when thus obedient their counsel and advice seems to be
easily dispensed with.

It must, however, be carefully remembered
tans also sum- that during the whole period now under con-
^ncki '^"synods sideratiou, and indeed to a later date, 1534, the
^ea^e^d'^'^ *^^^ ^^^^ ^^ which the Clergy Submission Act, 25
Henry VIII. c. 19, was passed, the convocations
were continually held, as provincial synods have been held in
all ages of the Church, whenever the metropolitans thought
good, without any writ from the king, or any expression what-

* " Rex venerabili in Xto. patri J. eadem gratia Archiepiscopo Cantuar. totius
AnglisE primati salutem. Cum qusedam alia et urgentia negotia nos et statum
regni nostri ac expeditionem negotioruiu nostrorum concernentia, &c. et nos in
hiis vestris et caeterorum prselatoriim ac cleri ejusdem regni consilio et auxilio indi-
gemus, nos de vestrae sinceritatis et benevolentiae puritate firmam fiduciam obti-
nentes, quod tam pro defendendis et recuperandis coronse nostrse regise juribus,
quam pro dictse sanctse Ecclesise salvations et tuition e nobis vigilanter velitis
assistere, et quantum ad vos pertinet efficaciter in opportunitatibus suffragan, vobis
mandamus rogantes quatenus, &c. totum clerum vestrse Cantuar. provincise apud
Londonium die Jovis proximo post festum Conversionis Sancti Pauli proximo fu-
turum convocari faciatis. Teste custode Anglise apud Langele vicesimo octavo die
Novembris. Per ipsum Regem et dictum custodem." — Ex. Feeder. Rymer, vol. v.
p. 137, cited in Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 653.

A. D. 1279

f See PeariM
I-aw of
Convoc. p.




A. D. 1279

« Pearce,
Law of
Coke, 4
Inst. 322.

ever of desire on his part upon the matter. This is so plain as
to need no proof, evidence of it occurring upon ahnost every page
of our historical records ; so that Sir E. Coke was egregiously
mistaken when he asserted that the " clergy of England ^ 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 29 of 83)