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 30 of 83)
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never assembled together at a convocation, but by the king's
writ." Such an assertion is as false in history as such a
strain of authority, if exercised, would have been subversive
of the proper ecclesiastical liberty which prevailed in this
country previously to K. Henry VIII.'s tyrannical eccentrici-
ties. Convocations were, doubtless, often summoned, as we
have seen, in accordance with royal writs ; but to say that they
were always so summoned, and that they were not very com-
monly convened without such writs, is simply untrue.

Restraint upon Since, how^ever, the time of the enactment of
ti'ciikr date's^ only ^^^^ statutc abovo referred to, royal writs neces-
from A.D. 1534. garily precede the summoning of convocations
by the archbishops, who are restrained from convening such
assemblies without them. But we may remark that the
royal bidding did not in those earlier times, nor does it now,
alter the spiritual character of our synods. The difference
between those times and the present is this : then the royal
authority occasionally interposed to secure the holding of con-
vocations ; now it always does so. Jiut they are now, as
they were then, the pure provincial synods of England ; nor
does any restraint as to the times of convening them rob
them of one particle of their spiritual character. The royal
writs for convocation now issue as a matter of constant
custom acourse with the writs issued for convening the par-
liament ; and by this practice there is at least secured some
remnant of that ancient connexion between the Church and
State of England, which every wise well-wisher to his country
would grieve to see relaxed or dissolved.

We must here make a brief digression,

V. Of the , . , „ , ., p /^, , I

" praemunicntes" takmg IcaVc tor awhilc ot Churcli matters, and

clause in the bi- -j • j.i • 11 1 1 • j

shops' writs of considermg those more specially belongmg to

ligament"' "^ ^"" ^^® ^*^^®- % ^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^^^^ Studied our
constitutional history the " prsemunitory " or
" prseraunientes " clause (in the writs by which the English
bishops were in those earlier times, and still are in these
days, summoned to parliament) has always been considered a




matter for curious inquiry. It is called the " prsemunitory "
or " prseraunientes " clause from the word with which it
originally began. That word is certainly not a type of pure
Latinity, being of a piece with the jargon in which many of the
documents of our mediaeval history were written. It was a
vulgarism of that day, and was used instead of " prasmo-
nentes,"" "admonishing;" for by the clause in question the
sovereign, on calling the English bishops severally to parlia-
ment, admonished each one that he would bring with him to
that assembly the prior or dean of his cathedral, his arch-
deacons, one proctor for his cathedral chapter, and two proc-
tors for his diocesan clergy. As this clause was first addressed
to the English bishops during that period of our history which
we are now considering, it seems desirable to give here some
account of its origin, its date, its objects, and its execution.
A copy of the original is inserted in the note', and it must be
observed that, in the writs by which our bishops are summoned
to parliament at this day, the clause is retained ' with a slight

* " Breve regium Archiepiscopo Cantuar. directum de parliamento tenendo apud
Westmonasterium cum clausula ' Prsemunientes.' " — Ex Rot. Claus. 23 Ed. I.
M. 3, dorso (apud Cone. Mag. Brit. ii. 215) :

" Rex venerabili in Christo patri R. eadem gratia Cant. Archiepiscopo totius
Anglise primati salutem. Sicut lex justissima, provida circumspectione sacrorum
principum stabilita, hortatur et statuit, ut quod omnes tangit ab omnibus appro-
betur ; sic et innuit evidenter, ut communibus periculis per remedia provisa com-
muniter ob\ietur. Sane satis nostis, et jam est, ut credimus, per universa mundi
climata divulgatum, qualiter Rex Franciae de terra nostra Vasconise nos fraudu-
lenter et cautelose decepit, eam nobis nequiter detinendo : nunc vero praedictis
fraude et nequitia non contentus, ad expugnationem regni nostri classe maxima, et
bellatorum copiosa multitudine congregatis, cum quibus regnum nostrum, et regni
ejusdem incolas hostiliter jam invasit ; linguam Anglicanam, si conceptae iniqui-
tatis proposito detestabili potestas correspondeat (quod Deus avertat) omnino de
terra delere proponit. Quia igitur prsevisa jacula minus Isedunt, et res vestra
maxime, sicut ceeterorura regni ejusdem concivium agitur in hac parte ; vobis man-
damus in fide et dilectione, quibus nobis tenemini, lirmiter injungentes, quod die
dominica proxime post festum Sancti Martini in hyeme proximo futuruni apud
Westminster personaliter intersitis ; " preemunientes " priorem et capitulum ecclesiae
vestree, archidiaconum , totumque clerum vestrae diceceseos : facientes, quod iidem
prior, et archidiaconus in propriis personis suis, et dictum capitulum per unum,
idemque clerus per duos procuratores idoneos, plenam et sufficientem potestatem
ab ipsis capitulo et clero habentes, una vobiscum intersint, modis omnibus tunc
ibidem ad tractandum, ordinandum et faciendum nobiscum, et cum cfeteris prselatis,
proceribus et aliis incolis regni nostri, qualiter hujusmodi periculis et excogitatis
malitiis obviandum. Teste Rege apud Wengeham, 30 die Septcmbris."

A.D. 1279

' Lathl)uvy,
Hist, of
tion, (Jc
Johns. V.
M. vol. i.
p. 146.




A. D. 1279

" See Pari.
& Counc. of
England, p.

"" Sup. chap,
viii. sec. 21.

" Wake's
State, p.

. , The following seems to have been 'the origin

A summons to " - o

parliament not to of tliis summons to the clercry to attend in par-

convucation. . i i •

liament — not, be it remembered, m convocation,
but in parliament. That the assembly to which they were
thus first called was a parliament, and not a provincial synod
or convocation, no historian has ever for a moment doubted.
But for the satisfaction of the numerous writers who have of
late confused this meeting with a convocation, and supposed
that our present convocations thence derive their origin, it is
well to state that this assembly was a parliament in the most
emphatic sense of the term. Writs were issued, commanding
attendance, to eight earls, forty-one barons, to the sheriffs of
all counties (except Chester and Durham), bidding them take
measures for the attendance of two knights from their re-
spective shires, and two burgesses from each borough ". So
little did this meeting resemble a convocation ; so undeniably
was this assembly a proper parliament.

The endeavours of K. Edward I. were directed to bring
the clergy of England into his parliaments, that he might
there more easily levy subsidies upon their possessions than
he could well hope to do while their aids were granted in their
synods. They were these endeavours, and the circumstances
surrounding, and the consequences attending upon them,
which, it is presumed, must have led to those very serious
misapprehensions before "" referred to ; and thus plainly ex-
pressed — " K. Edward I. * devised the present lower house of
convocation for the purpose of obtaining a taxation of the ec-
clesiastical property r The parliament and the ' convocation
were very different bodies then, as they are now, and as they
are likely to remain. If this distinction is kept in view,
certainly not a difficult one, the acts of K. Edward I. will
appear not to have been directed towards inaugurating a
synod, but filling his parliament ; not towards remodelling
the English convocations, but adding to the civil assemblies
such of his subjects as could most liberally contribute towards
his needs. And if our eyes are now withdrawn entirely from
ecclesiastical matters, and fixed upon secular ones for a brief
space, some light may, perhaps, appear on this subject.

^ Archdeacon Hone's Charge, 1830. See also Bishop of Worcester's and Bishop
of S. David's Charges, 1851.




Towards the end of the year 1282 K. Ed-
moned to the par- ward I., being engaged in an expedition against
meTaTSortWp'^ the Welsh, was quartered at Rothelan- Castle,
^°D r"83N^°'''' "^ Flintshire. His needs were pressing, and
money was with him scarce. Nor were the
means which he took to procure it of the most creditable
character, for it was about this time that the large sum ^
here collected for a subsidy to the Holy Land, and deposited
in sacred places throughout England, was reported to have
been pillaged by his order and for his use. The assaults of
Lewellin, the Welsh king, and the disturbances which ^ he
caused, together with his allies, gave K. Edward I. a pretext
for seeking constant supplies from his subjects. In further-
ance of these designs he determined to hold two parliaments,
one at Northampton ^, on the octave of Hilary, i. e. Jan. 20,
1283 N.S., and another at York^. In these assemblies he
desired to unite the clergy and laity together, in order to levy
a subsidy on both simultaneously. For this purpose ^ he
issued a writ from Rothelan Castle, before mentioned, on the
22nd of Nov., 1 282, But the reader is begged here to remember
that these proposed parliaments had no more connexion with
provincial synods, or, as we now term them, convocations, than
the court of the Emperor Constantine with the Council of
Nicsea, or the assembly of the imperial legislature of France
with a Galilean ecclesiastical synod. The laity were called to
the Northampton parliament in the usual way ; the clergy of
Canterbury were summoned by a writ '^ directed to their arch-
bishop, requiring him to ensure their attendance ; but,
curiously enough, the clergy and laity north of the Trent ^
were both summoned to attend the parliament at York by
the same writ ^. Now it may be instructive, though perhaps not
agreeable to those who delight to date the present constitution
of our provincial synods from the parliamentary assemblies of
K. Edward I., to hear that he did not even now cite to these
Northampton and York parliaments, in 1283 n.s., the same
clergy as were members of our provincial synods or convocations
at that time, and as remain so to this day. In his summons to
the parliament at Northampton there is no citation whatever to
the archdeacons or to the diocesan ^ proctors to attend, who,
as we have seen in the last chapter s, were members of the

A.D. 1279

'' Kennctt,
Eccl. Syn.
p. 135.

'^ Cone.
M.n^. Brit.
ii. 94, citing
Rig. Peck,
fol. m, B.

y Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 91.

z Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 91.
* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 9:2.
^ Kennett,
Eccl. Syn.
p. 135.

= Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 92.

d Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 93.

e Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 93.

f Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 91. &
Eccl. Syn.
p. 135.
K p. 238.





A.D. 1279

h Conr.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 30.
i Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 93.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 9-2.

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 215.

' Kennett,
Eccl. Sjn.
p. 135.

" Kennett,
Ecel. Syn.
p. 275.

" Kennett,
Eccl. Svn.
p. 136. ■

convocation^, a.d. 1277, under Archbishop Robert Kilwarby,
and who were also called to the convocation held three weeks
after Easter in this very year (1283), at the New' Temple, Lon-
don — a pure provincial synod, summoned exclusively by eccle-
siastical authority, and to a place exempt by ecclesiastical
privilege. In his majesty's suramonsJ to the York parliament,
as in the case of the Northampton one, the archdeacons are not
cited, nor is any specific mention made of the diocesan proctors.

Consequently to these parliaments the whole of the constituent
members of our provincial synods as existing then, as abiding
now, were by no means cited ; so untrue is it to attribute to K.
Edward I., and to a secular origin, the present constitution of
our convocations. He had not yet learnt to imitate and follow
their ecclesiastical constitution in his parliamentary summons.
It was not till many '^ years after this (a.d. 1295) that he copied
the constitution of our Church assemblies, and then, in imita-
tion of what he found long previously established by ecclesias-
tical usage, he cited the lower clergy by royal authority to
appear in his parliaments, in the same manner as they had
been previously accustomed to attend in their provincial
synods. This, however, will appear in its proper place here-
after, as we prosecute the subject.

They decline to ^he parliaments at Northampton and York
^PP^*"^- were far from gratifying the king''s expecta-

tions. The laity attended at Northampton in the usual
manner. But to the clergy the course taken by the sovereign
in calling them to parliament was both " new ' and surprising.
This bringing the lower clergy to attend the parliament was
a sort of military force upon them, and they never would have
yielded, if they had not been in a manner conquered and sub-
dued by an irresistible™ power." Nor did they on this
occasion yield so far as even to make an appearance. They
were unwilling to be thus forced into an attendance upon par-
liament. Moreover, a parliament called for the avowed inten-
tion of extracting money was not likely to hold out any peculiar
inducement to them to present themselves; "and" therefore
the greatest part absented." They had always been in the
habit of voting their benevolences in their own ecclesiastical
synods, and very naturally a forced parliamentary attendance
of this character was as unpalatable as it was unusual.




A.D. 1279

So these Northampton and York parliaments, as far as
the clergy were concerned, proved an utter failure, and were
a considerable stumbling-block in the way of raising the
desired supplies. The king, for a time foiled in his new
scheme for bringing the clergy into his parliament, was obliged
to content himself with such aids as they chose to vote in
their proper provincial synods ; and which, according to
ancient usage, they shortly after proceeded to supply.

And thus matters proceeded for some years,

Pncmunientes '■ . . ,

clause fii-st origi- until K. Edward I., bemg agam grievously
pressed for money, devised another scheme of a
new, and as yet unheard of character, for bringing the clergy,
not according to their respective provinces, but nationally, to
parliament. From this scheme originated the " praemuni-
tory ■'■' or " prsemunientes " clause in the bishops' summonses
to parliament, which is the present object of our investigation.
In the year 1295, the twenty-third of K. Edward I., a rebel-
lion among the Welsh ° again broke out. The armies of | ° .'.f ""''','^''^
Philip, king of France, were successful against K. Edward's
troops in Gascony ; they took Podensac, Reole, and S. Severe,
threatened England with an invasion, and indeed succeeded in
gaining a landing and burning ? Dover. Nor did matters in
the north wear a more peaceful aspect. Apprehensions were
entertained i of a Scottish invasion ; and the King of France, 1 1bid.
not content with his successes in Gascony and in his English
campaign, formed an alliance with John Balliol, king of Scot-
land, in order to compel a diversion of the EngHsh forces, and
to place K. Edward in a network of complicated difficulties.
Under this combination of circumstances large supplies were
needed, and a fresh desire on the part of K. Edward I. was
aroused of bringing the clergy to parliament, that he might
obtain more ample assistance for his needs. His plans for
securing their attendance twelve years before at Northampton
and York having then failed, he now devised a new scheme,
and in the writ directed to each bishop of the realm, calling
him to his place in the parliament, the " prsemunitory " or
'^' prsemunientes''"' clause was inserted, desiring him to bring
also with him to parliament the prior of his cathedral, the
archdeacons, a proctor for the chapter of the cathedral, and
two proctors for the diocesan clergy.




A. D. 1279

r Cone.
Masj. Brit,
ii. 215.

• Cone.
Majr. Brit,
ii. 30.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 93.

u Atterb.
Rights, p.


" II,

y Kennett,

Eccl. Syu.
p. 279,
quotes Bath
Reg. p. 159.

'■ See Att.
Aildiiiil. 1)1).
61«— 0-2i;.
» Att.
Addend, p.
■> Cone.
Mac. Brit,
ii. 534.

And this was the first time that K. Edward I.
precisely imitated the constitution of the convo-

The first oeca-
sion on which the
eonstitution of .

convocation was cations, whcn he simniioned the lower clergy to
u'amentaiy 'sum- his parliament at Westminster


parliament at >vestmmsier' in November,
A.D. 1295, a summons which they then obeyed.
Now surely it would be arguing backwards in a way hardly
consistent with chronological accuracy or logical precision, to
attribute to his acts in 1295, when summoning a parliament,
the original constitution of that convocation which we have
seen existing under Archbishop Robert Kihvarby in ^ the pro-
vincial Synod of London in 1277, and under Archbishop Pec-
cham in the provincial * Synod of the New Temple in 1 283.

From that time, a.d. 1295, the praemunitory

Convocation .

and parliament claUSC became a USUal " part of the writs sum-

proctors held dif- . ,i i • i , ^^ , 11

ferent offices, and moumg the bishops to parliament, and has so

were frequently
different persons.

remained, not as a matter of form merely, for it
was often repeated, and when repeated ex-
pressly complied with. Under its injunctions the several
chapters " met " and deputed one, and the clergy of the dio-
cese two proctors, to appear for them in parliament."'"' The
persons so deputed had letters of proxy given to them by
those whom they represented. These instruments were exhi-
bited ^ by them on the first day of the session of parliament,
or at least on the first day of their appearance there, and
" memorandums ^ of them were entered, together with the
other proxies, by the clerk of the parliament."" During
K. Edward I."'s time this clause, whenever issued by the king,
had its full effect, the clergy resorting y to parliament by vir-
tue of it. But this was totally irrespective of their meeting
in their own assemblies, the convocations or provincial synods,
whither they were summoned in the usual way by their metro-
politans. The parliamont proctors thus chosen by the clergy
were not usually in that age the same persons as the convoca-
tion proctors, and very many instances occurred in subsequent
times which manifestly prove the same practice to have pre-
vailed, one set ^ of proctors being elected for convocation,
another for parliament. Sometimes indeed the same * persons
were appointed to serve the two offices, as was the case on
one occasion in the Lincoln ^ diocese, at the especial request
of the bishop of that see. But then the same persons ap-




peared in two several capacities. In the convocation they
appeared as the chosen presbyters, according to primitive
usage, attendant in a spiritual capacity on a provincial synod;
in the parliament they appeared as members of the civil state,
and as the representatives of their brethren for the dispatch
of the business of the realm. Even where the persons elected
were identical, the offices they held were as diverse "^ as a par-
liament and a synod — as the kingdom which is of this world,
and that which is not.
„, , The last parliament of K. Edward I., held at

I he clause con- '

staiitiy executed Carlisle ^, was very fully attended by these par-
^^ ' liament proctors, whose names are recorded^

even to this day. In K. Edward IL's time^ the same prac-
tice ^ was continued, the writ being then sometimes executed
provincially ^ ; and in the reign of his son and successor,
K. Edward III., it became universal. Before his days the
praemunitory clause was "inserted or left out at the king"'s
pleasure ; in his reign it grew a constant and necessary part
of the bishops'* writ V' and was executed by the several dioce-
sans. And it is said^ that no parliament ever met without it
after his sixth year, that is, after the complete settlement of
our legislature upon those foundations on which it now stands.
The clergy sat in the parliaments, 1 Rich. II., 2 Rich. II., and
are often mentioned in the rolls of that reign^, as well as in the
parliamentary rolls of K. Henry IV. \ and of 6 Henry VI. '^

Indeed, from the twenty-third year of K. Edward I., a.d.
1295, to the reign of K. Henry VII., this clause "had™ its
regular course and influence all along ;" and records * also

* Parliament proctors were elected, according to remaining records,

n diocese of Exeter . .

.. 1529

In diocese of Exeter


York ....

.. 153G

SaUsbury ....


„ Exeter ..

.. 1538

„ Exeter


York ....

.. 1539

„ Salisbury


„ Exeter ..

.. 1541

,, Peterborough


„ Exeter ..

.. 1542

„ Exeter


„ Exeter ..

.. 1544

„ Exeter


„ London..

.. 1544

„ Lichfield and |


„ Exeter . .

.. 1545

Coventry . . /

Exeter ..

.. 1547

„ Exeter


Exeter ..

.. 1552

„ Peterborough


Exeter ..

.. 1553

A. D. 1279

c Wake's

State, p.

•i Kennett,
Eccl. Syn.
p. 282.
e Rilev's
p. 321, apud
Att. Rights,
p. 238, &
No. 12.
f Wake's
State, p.
s Att.
Rights, pp.
238. 244.
'' Cone.
Mag. Brit.
ii. 408. 506.
557. Wake's
State, pp.
261. 274,

i Att.

Rights, p.


J Ibid. 246.

^ Hody, pp.


1 Hody, p.


I' Hody, p.


■» Att.


Addend, p.


Records given in full, in Att. Rights, Addend, pp. 616—626.




A.D. 1279

n Hody, 424

o Wake's
State, p. 5.

P Coll. Eccl.
Hist. V. 22-2.

q Ibid.

r Wake's
State, p. 6.
Coll. Eccl.
Hist. V. 222.

« Coll. Eccl.
Hist. V. 222.

'Vid. Att.
i Kigbts, p.

I mi.

remain of its execution, and of the elections of parliament
proctors under it (independently of the elections of the con-
vocation proctors), certainly so far down as the latter end of
the reign of K. Charles II., a.d, 1676®. But this writ is
now disregarded, though at the present day regularly issued,
and though the bishops arc solemnly commanded by the sove-
reign to require by its execution the presence of the persons
named in it at each successive parliament. During those
periods of our" history, when the sovereign's commands in
this respect were duly obeyed, the clergy, thus summoned by
the royal writ executed upon them by their respective dio-
cesans, met for the choice" of their proxies. The dean or
prior held his chapter, and the archdeacons their synods, and
the representatives p then chosen received their procuratorial
letters, giving them authority to act in parliament in the
names and on behalf of the electors. These letters were
generally "addressed^ to the king, though sometimes they
began with a general application to all persons whom it might
concern," but the purport of them was to ordain " their "^
proctors to appear on their behalf in 'parliament,' there to
treat, with the prelates and great men of the realm, of the
things to be debated there for the interest of the king and
kingdom, and to consent to what should be agreed to on their
behalf, and to engage themselves to stand by what their
proctors should do under the caution or forfeiture (many
times) of all their goods." Two copies* of these letters
were deli\'ered to each proctor, one to be kept by himself,
the other to be delivered to the clerk of parliament for

„. „ , , . When Sir Edward Coke treated of this sub-
Si r h. Cokes
opinion on tbis ject, he was misled in some degree by that

*" '■''"^ ■ imposture, the treatise " De * Modo tenendi Par-

liamentum," as members of his profession sometimes have wan-
dered in matters connected with the clergy, — it is to be hoped
always from mistake, and never from somewhat more deeply
to be deplored. Still his judgment on the main point is much to

* Kennett says that returns to the crown under this writ cannot be shewn to
liave been made by records lower than the third or fourth year of Q. EHzabcth. —

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 30 of 83)