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 34 of 83)
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After this appointment of William Lyndwood in 1425, we
do not readily meet with the account of any person being
elected as a constant prolocutor like himself, though we find
the names of several gentlemen who in different convoca-
tions exercised the oi-iginal ofl&ce, that is, of reporting on
special occasions " the answers p and desires of the lower
clergy to the archbishop and bishops." This office was per-
formed by Mr. Thomas Bekynton % as prolocutor, in the con-
vocation held at S. Paul's '^, a.d. 1433, under Archbishop
Henry Chicheley ; l)y ISIr. John Lyndefield ^ in the convoca-
tion which met at S. Paul's*, a.d. 1438, under the same arch-
bishop ; by Mr. Richard Andrew " in the convocation begun
at S. Paul's^, A.D. 1439, under the same presidency; and by
Mr. William Byconnil in the convocation "^ at S. Paul's, a.d.
1444, under Archbishop John Stafford.

These executed the office as necessity for constituting it
arose ; but after William Lyndwood ^ we meet with no regu-
lar choice of a person appointed for a continuance until the
convocation held at S. Paul's y, a.d. 1453 n. s., under Arch-
bishop John Kemp. After the opening of that synod Mr.
John Stokys, under the direction of the archbishop, was
elected as prolocutor in the same formaP manner as when
William Lyndwood was appointed in 1425 ; and Mr. Stokys
is mentioned in a subsequent ^ session of this synod as the pro-
locutor of the clergy, from which it may be gathered that he
served the office throughout the duration of the convocation.
In the next convocation of Canterbury, held'' at S. Paul's,
London, a.d. 1460, under Archbishop Thomas Bouchier, the
same prolocutor was elected and formally presented as in the

2 " Peractis sacris, ac lectis mandato archiepiscopi, certificatorioqae episcopi
London, examinatisque procuratoriis, et espositis causis convocationis, reverendis-
simi jussu prolocutor mag. Jo. Stokys a clero fuit electus." — Cone. Mag. Brit,
iii. 562.

A.D. 1279

P Syn. Aug.
p. Go.

t Ibid.

■■ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 52].

* Syn. Ang.
p. 66'.
' Cone.
M:i£. Brit.
iii. 525.
" Svn. Ang.
p. 66.
*■ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 533.
'■" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 539.
^ Syn. Ang.
p. 66.
y Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 562.

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 563.

* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 577.




A. D. 1279

Mag. Brit,
iii. 58.5.

« Cone.

Mag Brit.

iii. «12.

d Cone.

Mag. Brit.

iii. «12.

e Cone.

Mag. Brit.

iii. 6"2.5.

f Conr.

Mag. Brit.

iii. 697.

S Cone.
I Mag. Brit.
I iii. 717.
i h Coll. Eocl.


' Svn. Ang.

p. 67.

J Svn. Ang.
p. 66.

k Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 562.

Sjn. Ang.
p. 66.

ni Il,i,l.

n iiiia.p.7:5.

year 1453, and he was a third time chosen in the convo-
cation held at S. Paul's'', a.d. 1463. From this date
the regular existence of that officer may be traced through
the subsequent history, the prolocutors being elected im-
mediately after the opening of convocation. For example,
we find Mr. William Pykenham elected in*^ 1481 n.s,,
Mr. Thomas Cooke '^ in 1486, JNIr. Humphrey Hawarden*

in 1489 K.S., Dr. John Taylor

1521, Mr. Richard

Wolmans in 1529, Mr. Gwent^ in 15.36. The office thus
seems to have arisen by degrees and as occasion required ;
and when the separation of the synod habitually took place,
then the regular election of prolocutor became a settled
usage. For Archbishop Parker laid down as an estab-
lished practice in his day that which is the custom in
ours, when he thus wrote : " It ' is the habit for the arch-
bishop to advise and exhort the members of the lower house
to withdraw thither, and with unanimous counsel and con-
sent to choose a learned, pious, and faithful man as pro-
locutor, whom they may present to the archbishop with all due
solemnity in the chapter-house at the subsequent session."

Presentation of After the election of a prolocutor by the
the prolocutor. lower housc, it is now the practice to present
him to the ai'chbishop and his suffragans, for admission to that
responsible office which his brethren have conferred on him.
This practice is of very ancient date; the first J account of it
we find in the year 1453 x.s., when the clergy having been
required to retire and choose their prolocutor (who in that
year'^ was ]\lr. John Stokys), first made their choice, and
then presented the person selected to the upper house \ The
same course^ was pursued in 1460; and from that time we
have common records of the practice. In the earlier instances
the archbishop is said to have "admitted*" and accepted" the
person presented ; in later times he is said to " have " ap-
proved and confirmed him, with the consent of his brethren "
the suffragan bishops.

Thus the office of prolocutor is one of very high antiquity.
For the forms of election and presentation, the foregoing
precedents may be quoted, and those forms are to this

* " Egregiumque \irum in prolocutorem cleri ut prsemittitur elcctum, rcvcren-
dissimo patri revercndiscjue patr'ihus prceseniarido." — Syn. Ang. p. 6"6.




day strictly adhered to in the southern province of England.
Immediately on the opening of the convocation at S. Paul's,
after divine service, the lower clergy retire to the north aisle of
S. PauFs Cathedral, where the election takes place. Two per-
sons are also chosen to present the prolocutor elect. At the
commencement of the ensuing session, now usually held in
the Jerusalem chamber, Westminster, he is presented by
those selected for that purpose, one of whom addresses the
archbishop in a Latin speech — the members of the upper
house being seated, those of the lower standing — and the
archbishop in an answer, delivered also in Latin, accepts and
confirms as prolocutor of the lower house the person so
presented to himself and his suffragans. The prolocutor,
then fully admitted to his office, replies in a Latin oration
suitable to the occasion, and touching on such topics as
appear to him proper.

The high honour attached to this office receives additional
lustre from such names as those of Dean Taylor, Dean Nowel,
Dr. Whitgift", Dean Overall, Dr. Jane, and Dr. Atterbury
having been since the Reformation connected with it. Nor can
it be thought that its former dignity will be a whit impaired in
the hands of its present possessor, on whom it w^as conferred
in the year 1852 by his brethren the lower clergy without a
dissentient voice. His zeal for the house of God has been fully
manifested in the late restorations of the decaying cathedral
of Ely to its original beauty, and perhaps more than its
original splendour ; — good works carried on with pious care
and unwearied diligence. The ancient and honourable office
of prolocutor may open opportunities for the exercise of
like qualities, in promoting God's glory by the re-edifica-
tion of the long neglected spiritual fabric of the Church of

York proiocii- ^hc rccords of the province of York never
*"'• having been kept in so full a manner as those of

Canterbury, we have not opportunities of tracing out the
origin of the prolocutor's office in the northern synod with
the same facility as in the southern. There is, however, a
very distinct account of the convocation p held under Arch-
bishop Kemp in the year 1426, the fourth of K. Henry VI.
In that assembly Dr. John Castell was elected unanimously

A.D. 1-279

Card. Syn.
i. 132.

P Cone.
Mas. Brit,
iii. '487.




A. D. 1279

1 Cone.
M-ig. Brit,
iii. 491.

'" Trevor, p.


>* Trevor, p.


< W-ikc's
iState, App.
No. clvii.

" March 5.

V March 10.

'" Cone.

Mag. Brit.

iv. 426.

" Trevor, p.


y Trevor, p.


as prolocutor, and was presented to the presidents of the York
Synod for confirmation, who " with all willingness admitted
him, as a useful and worthy man, to that office*." We find
him accepting the office with the usual protest' of his in-
ability to fill it properly; and from this protest being here
recorded as an usual one, we may well gather that the election
of a prolocutor in the northern province was at this time cus-
tomary. But this is made more clearly evident from the
answer given by the lower house to the upper at a subsequent
session of this convocation, in which it was stated that it was
" contrary ^ to the laudable customs of that province for any
articles to be brought up to the presidents except by word of
mouth of the prolocutor ^" Here is an evident proof that
the office of prolocutor in that province was one even of
older date than this (1426), though it is perhaps not pos-
sible to fix it precisely. Sub.sequently, the York records
supply the names of several prolocutors.

In the convocation held at York, November 24, 1545,
Mr. George Palmes^ was presented and admitted as prolo-
cutor; and he also executed his office at a session ^ held in the
month of December in that year.

In 1 G06 N.s., when the York Convocation was convened to
ratify the present canons of the English Church, and "to*
number them among the constitutions and canons of the
province of York," Dr. Goodwyn was elected" prolocutor;
and in the discharge of his duty at a later session ^, he read
over those canons to the northern synod, in order to their
being "examined^ and considered."

Dr. John Neil was elected^, presented, and admitted as
prolocutor by the northern synod in 1661, when K. Charles
II. sent down a requirement ^ to Acceptus Frewen, Arch-
bishop of York, to convene his provincial synod for a
revision of the Book' of Common Prayer, afterwards so
happily accomplished. And upon the last day of November
in that year Dr. Neil is mentioned as engaged in his duties,

* " Tanquam habilera atque dignum benevole admiserunt." — Cone. Mag. Brit,
iii. 488.

* " Onus refcrenderatus hujusmodi, cum protestafione consueta, spoute in se
suscipientem." — Cone, Mag. Brit. iii. 488.

* " Sed ore tenus coram praesidentibus per ruftrcndaiium profcrri." — Cone.
Mag. Brit. iii. 491.




together with the prelates and clergy of the lower house at
York, in electing proxies ^ from their body to attend in the
Convocation of Canterbury on their behalf, and for the purpose
above mentioned.

Thus in the northern synod this office dates its origin
from very early times, having probably arisen almost simul-
taneously in both provinces ; and in the York Convocations
it has been continued down to a comparatively modern date,
though from impediments, perhaps not altogether insurmount-
able, it is at this time in abeyance.

General re- Upon the officC of prolocutor it may be re-

office' of 7rolocu- marked generally, that at its first institution,
t"''- when the lower house retired for deliberation

upon any particular business, the prolocutor had no more to do
than to deliver, upon their return to the presence of the arch-
bishop and the upper house, the sense of the clergy in the hear-
ing of all. " And ^ in this united state, whatever directions the
president and bishops had to deliver to the clergy were given
immediately to the whole body. But as their debates grew
by degrees more separate," the clergy not only sent up their
opinions and resolutions to the upper house by their pro-
locutor, but it became customary for him to convey also back^
to them any commands or admonitions which the upper house
might have to give. Thus by degrees the duties of his office
arose. They chiefly consist now in moderating the debates of
the lower house, in conveying "to*' the bishops the petitions
and opinions of their clergy, and in carrying back to the
clergy the advice and direction of the bishops." By which
intervention the convocation, though separated into two
bodies, remains in effect a united provincial synod.

xin. Of the From the very earliest times the clergy were
fcfc)rm!i"da ^^n ^^^ays oucouraged to inform the ecclesiastical
convocation. syuods of our country when any matters came

within their cognizance which tended to the injury of religion
or the dishonour of the Church. It is clear that the parochial
clergy scattered throughout the length and breadth of the
land would have oppoi'tunities of obtaining much information,
which could hardly come to the knowledge of any other but
themselves. And not only was encouragement held out that
such information should be given, but canons of a very early

A.D. 1279

^ Trevor, p.


» Syn. A I
p. (38.

•> Syn. Ang
pp. ()8, 69.

r Svn. Ang
p. G9.




A.D. 1279

d Cone.
Mag. IJiit
i. 225.
e Can. iv.
fCan. V.

Ma?. Brit,
ii. 313.
h Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 335.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
ii. 313.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 523.

I k Svn. Ang.
I pp. '153, 154

' Syn. Ang.

pp. 159, m.

"' Vid. Syn.
Ang. i.p."
148, 149.

date exist on this subject. The fourth and fifth of those
called "Edgar's Canons," which were promulgated^ under
Archbishop Dunstan about a.d. 960, provide that "every
priest^ shall declare to the synod any injustice which may
have been committed against him;" and also, "that every ^
priest shall inform the synod if he is aware of any contumacious
person in his parish, — of any one who has fallen into mortal
sin and cannot be brought to repentance and amendment."

It was from this old custom of delating offenders and
offences to synods that the habit arose in convocation of
presenting grievances and matters requiring reformation
(gravamina et reformanda) ; a habit of constant occurrence
during the period before us. Sometimes "gravamina" were
presented by the prelates ^ of the upper house, sometimes by
the proctors'^ of the lower, to the archbishop and bishops" ;
and sometimes each bishop and the clergy of each diocese
were severally ' asked if they had their particular " grava-
mina " reduced to writing and ready for presentation. Some-
times also committeesJ were appointed to hear the complaints
of clergymen and form " gravamina " upon the evidence pro-
duced. And "gravamina" of such a formal and authoritative
character, if emanating from the lower house, were usually
presented by the prolocutor ''. ]iut it is clear that each indi-
vidual member of the synod has a rigbt also to present his
own peculiar "gravamina," not only by ancient usage, but by
the established practice ^ of convocation since the reformation.
Thus the fullest opportunity was always granted by these
various means for the discovery of grievances and scandals,
and this was a most salutary provision. It was usual for the
"gravamina et reformanda" to be considered in convocation,
and when, after deliberation, conclusions had been arrived at,
articles^ of (he clera?/, as tlicy were called, were framed in
accordance with those conclusions, and were presented in
parliament as the basis ■" upon which legal enactments might
be built. And this is the course, as regards ecclesiastical
legislation, which, so long as a connexion between Church

' " Coram . . . arcbiepiscopo et confratribus . . . coini)aruei-unt i)rocuratores
cleri qui pluia referebant gravamina." —Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 335.

" " Alia gravamina clero illata . . . super quibus certi articuli in jtarlianiento
pro parte cleri porrigendi concipiebantur." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 433.




and State lasts (and long may it last !) would appear to be the
most reasonable to pursue in this country. This would be in
accordance with the old Anglo-Saxon principle of govern-
ment, that the law divine and ecclesiastical questions should
be treated of in proper synods, and that their conclusions, if
deemed by the supreme civil legislature to be conducive to
the general good, should receive the sanction of the State,
and thus become binding not only in court of conscience but
in the exterior forum also. Thus would suggestions for the
good government and wholesome discipline of the Church be
made by her proper representatives, and by those who are most
conversant with such subjects ; and those suggestions being
presented as " articles of the clergy," might, in accordance with
the principles of the time-honoured constitution of England,
receive that powerful sanction from the imperial legislature,
which would ensure general obedience, and provide ready reme-
dies against numerous abuses, now grievous scandals to our
XIV. Spiritual Statements that originally the convocations
were chiefly called for the sake of granting
subsidies, and were principally employed in that
duty, are very favourite ones in these days, and have been
repeated with great assurance in many quarters. But those
large folios " which contain their voluminous acts relating to
ecclesiastical affairs, consisting of constitutions, canons, laws
of Church discipline, regulations for cathedrals, churches, and
monasteries, orders for choral services, examinations and trials
of Templars, Lollards, and other heretics, judgments passed
and executed, — all these can hardly have been studied with
accurate and painstaking research by such as make these
assertions. Those great monuments exist as an unanswerable
contradiction to such statements. And if the memorials of
our convocations are neglected or overlooked, it is hardly
sufficient to plead ignorance of their existence or contents as
an acceptable excuse for such unwarrantable announcements
respecting the engagements in which they were occupied.
So far from the subsidies having been considered the most
important parts of their business, it is not too much to say
that the accounts relating to such financial supplies form a
very inconsiderable portion of the records of the acts of our

character of the
employments of

A.D. 1279

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
vols. ii.& iii




A. D. 1279

o Cone.
Mag. Brit.

convocations. That subject is usually disposed of in very few
words. Generally the bare fact is mentioned that a subsidy
was sought and granted, and the matter is forthwith dis-
missed ; while the acts connected with purely ecclesiastical
affairs commonly extend over spaces somewhat daunting even
to laborious students. Indeed, in the treatment of eccle-
siastical business and spiritual affairs by our convocations
during a great part of the period now before us, that principle
of exclusive attention to one point appears to have been ad-
hered to, which Pericles recommended the Athenians to
adopt with regard to their naval force®. The spiritual duties
of convocation were not only not considered as an accidental
adjunct, but the rather no accidental adjunct was allowed to
attach to them.

To take one out of numerous examples which might be
quoted. On the occasion of the very first convocation held
in the reign of K. Henry lY., under Archbishop Thomas
Arundel °, at S. PauFs, a.d. 1399, that monarch sent the Earl
of Northumbei-land, together with others, to say that they did
not come, as royal commissioners had sometimes been sent
before, to ask for a subsidy. And the earl, on the part of the
king, further gave the synod an express ' assurance that it
was not the king"'s intention or wish to exact money, or
impose any burden upon them, but that he desired their
prayers, and gave them a solemn promise that he woidd
defend the liberties of the Church, and repress to the utmost
of his power all errors and heresies. The absence of all
financial engagements in this convocation certainly does not
tend to diminish its importance, for the two ^ houses having set
themselves to deliberation on ecclesiastical affairs, some very
important business, extending to sixty-three heads, was trans-

^ TO Sk vavTiKov TixvrjQ BffTiv wffiTfp Kai aWo rt, Kai ovk tvSex^rai, orav
Tv\y, iK irainpyov fiiXiTarrGat, aWd fiaWov ^trjdtv iKiii'Kp irapfpyov aAXo
•yiyi'£(T0ai.— Thucyd. lib. i. c. 142.

' " E.x parte regis expressc dixit, iion fuit intentionis neque voluntatis dicti
domini regis de csetcro alieiuam exactionem pccuniarum in suo regno facere, nee
eisdem imponcre nisi magna necessitate . . . certificans eisdem dominis prselatis et
clero quod ipse dominus noster rex omnes libertates EcclesiDe sustineret, necnon
haereses, errores, et liiereticos destrueret juxta posse." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 239.

* "Tractabant ipse dominus et reverendi patres episcopi antedicti per se de
negotiis omnibus Ecclesioe, aliis praelatis et procuratoribus cleri seorsim scparatis."
— Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 2.39.



acted. And this may fairly be taken as an example of the
convocations assembled at this time. Indeed, the business of
convocation during the earlier and middle part of our pre
sent period consisted chiefly in the trials of Templars, ac
cused of being a most pestilent sect, of Lollards, as well as of
misbelieving persons generally, and in examinations of books
accused of containing heresy. In the latter sort of employ-
ment the convocations were much engaged also towards the end
of this period p.

As regards books, if they were found to

Mode of deal- . » , . ' ^ ,

ing with heretical coutaui matter wliicli was Considered to be pre-
judicial to the faith, an order was usually made
that they should be burnt. This was done in the case of a
book belonging to John Oldcastell, Lord Cobham, which i he
had sent to one Lynmore, an illuminator, in Paternoster Row,
to be ornamented ; but which, on being examined, and found
to contain matter subversive of the faith and the Church, was
condemned, and burnt "^ at S. Paul's cross in 1413. It was
by the way this same Lord Cobham who sent about unlicensed
preachers sowing the seeds of Lollardism, in defiance of a
provincial^ constitution made in that behalf, and asserted
that provincial synods had ' no authority in such matters ;
which statement, among others, seems to have somewhat dis-
turbed Archbishop Arundel". Such assertions now meet
with greater favour, their author, however, on this occasion was
excommunicated ^. The books of John Claydon, among which
was " The^ Lanterne of Light," were also burnt, having been
examined and condemned in the convocation held^ at S. Paul's,
A.D. 1415, under Archbishop Henry Chicheley. Nor could
a like fate for many of the mischievous publications with
which this age is pestered be regretted by any well disposed

When persons were found ffuilty of heresy

Mode of deal- , /. , i • . "^

ing with heretical and lalse teachmg, they were sometnnes com-
persons. pelled to retract their tenets in the same place

in which they had taught. This course was pui-sued with
regard to John Russell, who was forced by the convocation
held at S. Paul's y, a.d. 1424, under Archbishop Henry
Chicheley, to recant at Stamford a profligate^ sermon preached
before a congregation in that place. Sometimes the offenders

A.D. 127


P Cone.
Mng. Brit.
iii. 719.

n Cone.
Masr. Biit.
lii. B.52.

■' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 351.

s Cone.
Mag. Br
iii. 353.
' Ibid.


* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 357.
"' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 274.
-^ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 371.

y Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 428.
^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 431.




A.D. 1279

a Cone.
Ma-. Brit,
iii. 2.53. 271.
•> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 375. 395.
406. 436.
« Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 172.
<* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 433.
e Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 434.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 435.
S Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 4.07-
*• Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 515.
' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 578.
J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 585.
'' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 747.

' Cone.
Mag. Br
iii. 431.

were delivered over to their respective diocesans * for punish-
ment and, if necessary, for imprisonment ; and sometimes they
were handed over to the secular judge '', who frequently com-
pelled them to enter into recognizances for future good be-
haviour. Instances of such proceedings before convocation
may be found in the cases of Philip llippyngdon " and John de
Asshton'*, in the year 1382; of ^Vinchelsy, liatton, Fleming,
and Russell *, of Robert Hoke, rector of Braybrook, and of
Thomas Drayton ^, rector of Snave, in the year J 425 ; of Ralph
Mungyns, Richard Monk, and Thomas Garenter, in 1428 ; of
Thomas Bagley**, vicar of Maunden, in 1429; of John Bud-
hill', in 1460; of Michael GerdynJ and Simon Harrison, in

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 34 of 83)