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 32 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 32 of 83)
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the communion office "de Spiritu Sancto ;" and towards its
conclusion, but before the singing of tlie " Agnus Dei," he pro-
nounced over the people a solemn benediction, by the especial
permission of the archbishop. At the end of the office the
archbishop also pronounced his benediction ; and after this
solemnity was concluded, while sitting in a chair before the
high altar, he preached a sermon upon this text : " Take heed
therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which
the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church
of God, which he hath purchased with his own bloodJ." No
more business was transacted in that session, but the as-
sembly was continued to the following day. On the second
day of the synod the forms of citation were read, the Bishop
of London's return as to the execution of the citation was
made, the excuses of absentees were put in, and the king's
deputies appeared, producing an inhibition, couched in the bar-
barous language which defaces the state papers of that day, and
forbidding the transaction of any business which might tend to
the prejudice of the crown, the injury of the subject, or the dis-
turbance of the tranquillity of the realm. On the following days
the ordinary affiiirs of a .synod were tran.sacted, such as the pre-
sentments of gravamina by the representatives of the Church ;
and that particular business was also taken in hand for which
the meeting was specially called, namely, an inquiry into the
practices of the Templars, against whom accusations of shock-
ing conduct were made. Whether the charges were false,

1 "CappA chori indutis." — Cone. Mag. Urit. ii. .'512.




and were instituted with a view of sequestering their pro-
perty, this is not the place to inquire. But of the character
of the accusations made, we may take as an example an awful
practice said to accompany initiation into their body, of
spitting upon the cross of Christ.

The ceremonial in the York province at this
time seems to have been much of the same cha-
racter. On the occasion of the provincial synod held there,
A.D. 1310, the archbishop"^ appeared with his suffragans
habited in their pontifical vestments, and took his place in
the archiepiscopal chair. The abbots of S. Mary''s, York,
and of Selby wore their mitres, the priors and masters of
foundations their proper ecclesiastical attire. At the
opening of the synod the communion office " de Spiritu
Sancto " was celebrated, after which the archbishop, having
taken his plac2 at the high altar, first preached a cermon, and
then proposed to the assembly the articles to be treated of
and concluded upon in the assembly. The certificates of the
execution of the citation having been returned, the excuses of
absentees put in, and other formal matters transacted, the
synod was continued to the following day, and ordered to
meet in the chapter-house of S. Peter's, York. The acts of
this provincial synod, which were like that of the provincial
Synod of London held in the previous year, were directed
chiefly against the Templars. The sessions were extended
over eleven days, and were held in the chapter-house, but no
further peculiarity respecting the ceremonial observed appears
specially deserving of notice.

The absence of the Archbishop of York himself, as well as
of his suffi-agans, at the assembling of his provincial synods,
has of late years become usual. Such a practice has not a
primitive appearance at first view, nor indeed is it in con-
formity with the examples of the apostolic age and the early
Christian Church. The reason of this absence, at least as far
as regards the metropolitan himself, seems to have arisen
from his attendance on the parliament in London, usually
meeting about the same time with his synod. This reason we
find given ^ in so " many words for the appointment of com-

2 " Commissio .... constituens cos presides synodi, eo quod arcliiepiscopus
parliamento 9 die Feb. convocato intercsse debebat." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iv. 444.

A.D. 1279
— 1500.

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 397.

' Cone. Mag-.
Brit. iv. 444.




A. D. 1279

"' Svn. Aug.
p. 7!>.

o Ihl.l.

1' Ibid.

missioners to sit in his place in the provincial Synod of York,
Feb. 10, 1610, N.s., by Tobias Matthews, then archbishop.
But whether a metropoHtan's duties in parliament should
always supersede his obligations to his province and to the
Church is a question which might supply matter for grave

IX Of the sc ^^ ^^^^ primitive Church the members of pro-
parations of the vincial syuods met in one body, and so transacted
into upper' ami whatever busiucss was brought before them for

settlement. In the British and Anglo-Saxon
times of our own Church the same method prevailed ; and no
difference in that respect seems to have been introduced
until we arrive at that period of our history which we are
now considering. But a practice then set on foot grew by
degrees into that constant usage which now obtains, viz. for the
archbishop and bishops, after the first opening of a convoca-
tion, to sit in deliberation by themselves, and for the second
order of the priesthood to withdraw into a separate place for
their consultations. These two bodies, though collectively
constituting the provincial synod, are denominated the upper
and lower houses of convocation in the respective provinces.
How this practice, peculiar to England, and unauthorized by
the example of other branches of the Church Catholic, arose
it may be interesting to inquire.

These separations seem to have arisen gra-

dually "", and first to have been commenced from
motives of convenience, and as peculiar occasions required.
While our archbishops, bishops, and lower clergy were in the
liabit of debating together according to primitive practice, we
find, from time to time, that they retired for separate consulta-
tion upon two" accounts; ]st, when, as in the year 1376, the
archbishop on two occasions thought it necessary to consult
with his suffragans in' secret", all other persons being ex-
cluded ^ ; and 2ndly, when any peculiar business was referred p
l)y the president and bishops to the particular consideration
of the lower members of the assembly. Of this separation
of the prelates from the second order of the ministry very
early traces may be found. Even during the last period

* " Dominus cum confratribus suis, exclusis omnibus aliis personis, secrete deli-
beravit."— Syn. Ang. p. ^0.




of our inquiry, in the reign of K. Stephen, on the occasion of
the legatine Synod of Winchester i under Henry, the king's
brother, the bishops went apart ^ first and held a secret de-
liberation, and afterwards the archdeacons ® by themselves
were called aside for the same purpose. But it was at a much
later period that such separations became common ; and they
may be fairly considered to have arisen during the period now
before us. And though they were by no means constantly
practised after their first introduction, yet they gradually
became more and more general, until at last they were adopted
as the universal habit.
The separations During the sessions of the provincial synod

arose by degrees. j^^jj ^^ S. PauFsS Loudon, A.D. 1370 N. S.,

Archbishop Wittlesey twice desired the clergy to withdraw
into a different part" of the church for separate deliberation ;
and beginning from this date we may trace, in the subsequent
accounts of our convocations, the gradual growth of this
practice until it passed into the present usage. On two occa-
sions, six years after ^ a.d. 1376, as was'^ before remarked,
the archbishops and bishops retired to consult by themselves.
Again, after a lapse of three years more, in the second year
of K. Richard II., a.d. 1379*, at the convocation held in S.
Paul's ^, Archbishop Sudbury desired ^ the proxies of prelates
and the proctors of the clergy to leave the chapter-house, in
which the deliberations took place, in order that the metropo-
litan with his suffragans might treat together in secret. And
from this date separations became continually more fre-

The place, moreover, to which the " lower house" (so deno-
minated in later times because the inferior clergy frequently
retired to a room under the chapter-house of S. PauFs)
betook themselves " was ^ not the same from the beginning,
but was settled by degrees." Thus in the convocation of 1 370
N.S., the synod then sitting in S. Paul's Cathedral, the clergy
were desired to withdraw to some distinct* part of the building^
though none was particularly specified. Twelve years after-
wards, A.D. 1382, the place was again left to their own choice,
the lower clergy being desired to meet in some convenient ^
place. In the next year they were ordered "^ to withdraw to

* The date in Hody is here wrong.

A. D. 1279

1 Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 4-20.
•" Coiic.
Mag. Brit,
i. 4-JO.
^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
i. 420.

' Cone.
Mag. Brit.

' Syn. Ang.

" Svn. Ang.
p. 79.

" Vid. sup.
p. 294.

'^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 141.
y Hody,
p. 229, and
Syn. Ang.
p. 80.

Svn. Ang.
,. 80. '

* Svn. Ang.
p. 80.

b Syn. Ang.
p. 81.

e Syn. Ang.
p. 81.




A. D. 1279

J Svii
p. 81.


« Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. "238.
f Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 239.

' e Svn. Ang.
p. 81.

•• Svn. Ang.
p. 81.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 284.

J Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 306.

k Svn
p. 81.

some place customary for such business. However, in the
year 1384 they deliberated in the school-room situated in the
crypt under the cathedral ; and eleven years afterwards,
A.D. 1395 N. s., they retired to*^ the room under the chapter-
house of S. Paurs. Four years subsequently, a.d. 1399,
the first year of K. Henry lY., in the provincial synod held
at* S. Paul's, Archbishop Thomas Arundel and the bishops
treated^ by themselves on ecclesiastical affairs, the prelates
below the episcopal rank and the proctors retiring apart for
the same purpose ; but on this occasion we are not informed
as to the place where the latter met. Again, in 1402, we find
the lower clergy retiring on two occasions s, once for the
choice of a committee, to the room below S. Paul's chapter-
house. In J 404 they ^ retired to the same place. At the
convocation held at S. Paul's', London, a.d. 1406, Archbishop
Thomas Arundel and his suffragans met in the chapter-house,
the clergy again going ' by themselves into the room under that
building. And as this separation is here said to be according
to the accustomed^ manner, we may gather not only that such
separations were now usual, but that the customary place to
which they retired was the room before mentioned. That room
it appears was a divinity school, because at the convocation J
held under Archbishop Thomas Arundel, a.d. 1408, when
the clergy separated from the bishops, they are said to have
met in the schools ^ of theology under S. Paul's chapter-house.
This had indeed evidently become at this date their regular
place of assembly whenever a separation was considered de-
sirable ; and during the several sessions of this convocation
the division into upper and lower houses appears to have been
continued throughout. Thus grew up this practice by degrees
until it became a constant habit. In 1419 the clergy w^ere'^
directed to retire to their "accustomed house," and two years
afterwards (1421) to the "lower house,"' under which term
simply ' we find their place of assembly mentioned in many

5 " In domo capitulari archiepiscopus et sui suffraganei, procuratoribus cleri
scorsum separatis et convenientibus in basso sub domo capitulari more solito," &c.
—Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 281.

" " In Scholis Tlicologiie sub domo capitulari prtefata." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iii.

^ " Quod rcccdcrent de domo capitulari et adirent domum inferiorcm." — Syn.
Ang. p. 81.



succeeding convocations', and whither they now appear to
have betaken themselves by regular usage ^
^, , ^ It is thus plain that at this period the upper

The places of ^ • c /^

meeting original- and lower liouses of the Couvocation 01 Oanter-
ya . au s. ^^^^ ^^^^ usually in the chapter-house and
divinity schools of S. Paul's Cathedral respectively. It was
not till a later date that their sessions were removed to
Westminster. It is true that an attempt was made to compel
the assembly of a national synod at Westminster by K. Ed-
ward I., A.D. 1294 ; and another to compel the assembly of a
provincial synod at the same place by his successor, K. Ed-
ward II,, A.D. 1314. The result, however, of these attempts
we have seen above ". But, with these exceptions, no eccle-
siastical assemblies appear to have been convened at West-
minster during the period now before us. S. PauFs was the
usual scene of those meetings.

Change to The regular practice of meeting for delibera-
Westminster. ^Jqjj ^^ Westminster seems to have been begun
in the year 1519, when Wolsey, as legate, convened there a
national synod "> of bishops. After that time it became com-
mon for synodical deliberations to take place there. For a
York provincial Synod" convened in 1523, a national synod"
under Wolsey, as legate, in the same year, and two provincial
synodsP of Canterbury, under Archbishop Warham, in the years
1531 and 1532 respectively, were all held at Westminster.

It is reasonable to suppose that this change in the place of
meeting was consequent on the arrogant conduct of Wolsey,
who, as Archbishop of York, was inferior to Warham as
Archbishop of Canterbury, but, as legate, affected a superiority
over him. When therefore the former desired to convene a
national synod of bishops in 1519, he considered Westminster,
a place exempt from ordinary authority, as more convenient
for his purpose than S. Paul's, or any other spot immediately
subject to the metropolitan see of Canterbury. Again in
1523 the same reasons probably weighed with him, when he
brought his own convocation to the same place, and
finally succeeded in convening there a complete national

8 " Pater decrevit eandem publice legi in domo inferiori, ubi clems dictse con-
vocationis tempoi-e ab antiquo solebat suarei communicationem exercere et habere."
— Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 577i ad an. 1400.

A.D. 1279

' Syn. Ang.
). 81.

" Vid. sup.
pp. 262. 7<)4.

m Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 661, and
see 682.
" Cone.
Mao;. Brit.
iii. \]9^.
° Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 700.
P Cone.
Ma^. Brit,
iii. 746—48.




A.U. 1279

1 Cone.
Macr. Brit,
iii. 754.

"■ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. /24. 742.

*^ Cone.
Mas;. Brit,
iii. 724.


iii. 740".

" Parry's
and Conn-
eils of Eng-
land, Introd.

^' Ibid, and
Cone. Mag.
"' Parry's
Pari, and
Councils of
Introd. xlii.

.synod. And as Westminster was convenient for such
purposes — the chapter-house being more commodious i than
that of S. Paul's for the upper house, and a room within
the precincts being found suitable for the lower — the practice
of meeting there became common. Indeed, the famous con-
vocation which assembled at S. PauFs"^ in 15.30, and subse-
quently granted the title of " supreme head as far as the law
of Christ permits'''' to K. Henry VIII., was prorogued to the
chapter-house at Westminster in a manner similar to the
practice prevailing at this day ; the formal opening of the
Canterbury provincial Synod now being celebrated in S. PauFs
Cathedral, the subsequent deliberations taking place in the
Jerusalem Chamber, Westminster Abbey.

TheWestmins- ^^ ^^Y ^^^° ^^ remarked, that on the occa-
ter protest. gJQn when Archbishop Warham continued this

provincial synod to Westminster in 1530, the Abbot of West-
minster, on bent knees % put in a protest that the assembly "'s
meeting, in that place exempt from ordinary authority, should
not be drawn into any precedent prejudicial to the rights and
privileges of the abbey ; — a protest which was again exhibited
on the next occasion ' of the meeting of the Canterbury pro-
vincial Synod in the same place in the following year, and
which it has been the custom to repeat even to this day.

To speak generally, S. Paul's appears to have been, at any
rate up to the beginning of the sixteenth century, the place
for the transaction of ecclesiastical affairs, and Westminster
the place for the transaction of secular business. The upper
and lower houses of the Canterbury Convocation, as remarked
above, usually met respectively in the chapter-house and divinity
schools of S. I^aul's Cathedral. The upper and lower houses of
the imperial parliament usually met in the " painted chamber"''"'
at the palace of Westminster : the lower house retiring for
their deliberations to the refectory ^ of Westminster Abbey.
And this was their ordinary place of meeting till 1547 ^, when
K. Edward VI. granted the chapel of S. Stephen's, West-
minster, for their use. The places for assembling the con-
vocations were destroyed by the fire of London, and have
never been restored in sufficient magnitude for the repetition
of such a purpose. The ancient places of assembly for the
temporal legislature, on the other hand, having witnessed



many changes, have now been adorned with new buildings
of a most august character. These are embellished with
gorgeous ornaments, and invested with those circumstances
of solemn splendour which well become the high purposes
for which the edifice is designed. But all this, it must
be confessed, tends to increase the whimsical contrast some-
times existing between the solid magnificence of the structure
and those feeble essays in political science of which it not
unfrequently becomes the scene. A question too may arise,
whether so lavish an expenditure for these purposes, drawn from
the public burdens, when compared with our national parsimony
exhibited in every case where the glory of God or the propa-
gation of the faith is concerned, might not lead some to the
belief, that this generation was more deeply concerned for the
things of this world, than for those of the next. But this
by way of query only.

From the foregoing particulars it may be gathered that at
first it was the habit for all the members of the Canterbury
Synod to meet together in the chapter-house of S. PauFs for
debate ; that by degrees rare separations into two houses took
place, according to the requirements of the occasion ; and
that eventually there ensued a regular "separation^ as to the
place of debate, the union and communication in other re-
spects remaining entire, and the correspondence about the
business of the synod continuing." And about the middle of
the fifteenth century, in the words of Bishop Gibson, the
clergy were " not ^ directed to retire, as they had usually been,
to debate apart about the matter of convocation laid before
them by the archbishop, because now they began, as to their
debating, to be in a more separate state, so that the bare
proposition of business, to be prepared or considered, was
notice enough that they were to retire to their usual place
and set about it."
,^ , ^ It is quite clear that as early as the year

\ ork. Separa- ' •' "'

tion into two ^ 426, but most probably before that time, the
province of York had followed in the foregoing-
respect the example of Canterbury. In the convocation begun
in that year, in the chapter-house of York Cathedral, we
find the members of the synod separated into two houses.
This convocation was continued through several sessions

A.D. 1279

Svn. Aug.
, 83.

y Syn. Aug.
p. 91.




A. I). 1279

* Cone.
Masr. IJrit.
iii. '489.
a Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 489-91.

•• Atterbury,
p. ')G8, and
Cone. M.ig.
Brit. iii. 491.

sometimes sitting in the chapter-house, sometimes in the
" new schools "" of the cathedral. On some occasions the
members sat and deliberated in one assembly ; but on others
they separated into two houses, according to the general prac-
tice which, as we have seen, now prevailed in the southern
province. The former course the northern synod pursued
when Thomas Richmond was sununoned to answer for
some heretical opinions ^ which he had propounded ; the
second course they pursued at two ^ different times, during
the sitting of this convocation, for separate deliberation on
questions concerning " certain arduous affairs, the state and
defence"" of the kingdom. At this time, then, we have posi-
tive records detailing the separation of the northern convo-
cation into two houses ; but there are some footmarks left
upon history which point to the conclusion that this was a
practice not commenced at this date, but rather handed
down from a somewhat earlier one. This may be gatliered
from an expression which occurs towards the close of the
acts of this synod, where it is declared that "it'' never" was
deemed right, but was expressly contrary to the laudable
customs of that province, for articles [of the lower clergy] to
be presented, or their answers to be reduced to writing, but
that these were made known to the presidents by word of
mouth through the prolocutor." This statement certainly
would lead a reader to infer that these separations were of
earlier date, and that while the records liere positively prove
such a practice as existing in 1426, its origin may reasonably
be referred further back, the northern and southern provinces
having probably adopted it almost simultaneously. That such
separations continued subsequently to prevail we are assured
by the acts of the York Convocation, a.d. 1545, Dec. 14,
where this expression occurs — " The prelates and clergy then
retired to their ' accustomed house below the cathedral with their
prolocutor." So that at this latter date their separations had
evidently become a matter of common usage.

^ " Quod nunquam fuit visum, set! cxprcsse contra consuctudiiies laudabiles
istius provinciae, facere aliquos articulos, seu saltern eorum responsum in scriptis
redigi, sed ore tonus coram pnesidentibus per Referendarium proferri." — Cone.
Mag. Brit. iii. 491.

' " Pradati et clerus ... ad domum suam solilam infra Eeclesiam nictropoli-
tanam Ebor se subtra.\crunt," &.c. — Trevor, p. US.


Having now arrived at that point of the
history where the convocations were respectively
separated into two houses [if not always, at
any rate whenever occasion required], it seems
necessary to inquire of what members the upper
and lower houses were respectively composed. And first of
the province of Canterbury.

Canterbury. Bishop Bumot belicved that "none'= sat in

Sonietimestheme- ^]jg lower housc but thoso who werc deputed by

tropohtan, with ^ *■

ops, abbots, the inferior clergy ; and that bishops, abbots

X. Of what
members the up-
per and lower
houses were re-
spectively com-


and priors consti- . -, , • i i • i j

tuted the upper mitred and not mitred, and priors, deans, and
oUier' cier^ the archdcacons sat then in the upper house of
i""'''^- convocation." But this is certainly incorrect ;

such a supposition tends to increase the number in the
upper and diminish the number in the lower houses of
convocation beyond the truth. Collier, however, while
combatting this supposition, and that most satisfactorily,
says that "the"^ bishops, abbots, and priors constituted the
upper house ; and that all deans, archdeacons, and proctors
of the clergy and of chapters of cathedrals sat in the lower
house of convocation."" Now though this statement may be
generally correct, yet it must not be considered as the uni-
versal practice for the bishops always to sit with the abbots
and priors in the upper— while all the rest of the clergy, viz.
deans, certain masters of colleges, archdeacons, chapter and
diocesan proctors deliberated in the lower house. For the
bishops alone sometimes deliberated with the metropolitan in
the upper house, as distinct from all other clergy whatsoever.
Instances of proceeding under both arrangements maybe found.

Collier's statement ^, that " the bishops, abbots, and priors
constituted the upper house," is fortified by the acts of the
convocation begun at S. Paul's ^ a.d. 1408, under Arch-
bishop Thomas Arundel. There it is evident that abbots and
priors deliberated with the bishops ; and indeed, in the nomi-

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 32 of 83)