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 37 of 83)
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VII Canterbury ^^® ^^^ ^^^® Icavo of the provincial synods
synod a. d. 1532. of Canterbury and York, which broke up on the
28th 1 of March and 4th'" of May, 1531 respectively, and
pass on to some matters which, in point of time, must be
considered before we come to the last formal step which con-
cluded the rejection of the papal supremacy in England ".

The Convocation" of Canterbury met again on the 16th
of October, 153], and was continued to the 21st of March,
1532 N. s. That assembly was engaged in ecclesiastical
business, such as testamentary matters, clergy discipline, and
the submission of Mr. Hugh Latymer, subjects unnecessary
to dwell on in our present inquiry. From the day last men-
tioned the assembly was continued to the 12th p of April, 1532 ;
and as in the sessions resumed on that day a submission
on the part of the clergy in convocation was made, which has
exerted a remarkable influence on the subsequent history of
our Church, the acts of this synod deserve the most careful

On the 12th of April, 1532, the Convocation
of Canterbury met in the chapter-house i at
clergy. ' Westminster ; and on the first day of their

assembly Archbishop Warham introduced ^ as the subject for
discussion, a supplication which had been presented to the
king by the lower house of parliament against the " arch-
bishops % bishops, or ordinaries." The lower house of
convocation was informed that the king required a speedy
answer, and the document submitted for their consideration
was handed to the prolocutor, in order that he might read
it to the assembly. The supplication of the commons con-
tained several articles of complaint'; but those chiefly insisted
on, and which indeed constituted the chief burden of their

Complaint of
king and com-
mons against the

A.D. 1531.
K. Henry

A.D. 1533.

1 Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 740'.
I" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 744.
n Vid.

pnstea,p. 351
o Cone.
Maa;. Brit.
iii. 746.

P Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 748.

<I Cone.
Mas;. Br
iii. 748.

■■ Cone.
Mag. Br
iii. 748.

s Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 748.

' Att




A.D. 1532.






" Att.
Rights, p.

* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. /48. &
Att. Rights,
p. 87.
" Cone.
Macr. Brit,
iii. 748. &
Att. Rights,
p. 87.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 750.
Att. Rights,
p. 87. Coll.
iv. 188.
y Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 750.
^ Cone.
M:.g Brit,
iii. 751.
» Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 751.
b Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 751.

<: Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 751.

J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 751.

c Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. /51.

alleged grievance, were 1st, that " the ecclesiastical laws then
in force, that is, the old canonical constitutions, contained
many things injurious to the king's prerogative, and burden-
some to the subject ; and 2ndly, that the clergy claimed to
enact iiew canons by their own sole authority, without consent
of the crown. These complaints, if not previously forged on
the royal anvil to serve as weapons ready made for this sally
of the then subservient commons, were, at least, likely to
prove acceptable to the king's hands. For they were service-
able not only for making a thrust at the clergy, but for secur-
ing to his majesty, in the collision of forces which was likely
to ensue, a fresh accession of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. To
these complaints the clergy made a reply which was approved
in the upper house of the synod on April 1 5th ' ; and in the
lower four days afterwards, on the ^ 19th of the same month.
Clergy's first This reply was drawn by way of address to the
king'^. The clergy express themselves with great


deference to the royal authority, declare that they have con-
sidered the supplication of the commons ; and in accordance
with the king's command now make answer " beseeching ^^ his
grace's indifferent benignity graciously to hear the same."
As regarded the complaint touching the old canons and
constitutions, they suggest that their authority was grounded^
upon the Scripture of God and the determinations of the
Church, which should be " the rule ^ and square to try the
justice of all laws, as well spiritual as temporal : " they trust,
as the laws of this realm have been " made ^ by most Chris-
tian, religious, and devout princes and people," and have
proceeded from one fountain, that so, if sincerely interpreted,
there will be found no inconsistency between the regulations
of Church and State, but that the one will conduce to aid *=,
maintain, and support the other. But if it should appear
otherwise, they assure the king that they will endeavour to
"reform^ their ordinances to God's commission, and to con-
form their statutes and laws" to the determination of Scrip-
ture and of the Church ; and at the same time they express
a devout hope that the crown and people of England will
temper the laws temporal of this realm in such sort that there
may " ensue ^ a most sure and perfect conjunction and
agreement, as God being ' lapis angularis!^ to agree and




conjoin the same." Thus far their reply as regarded the old
canons and constitutions of the Church. In reference to the
desire, that the royal assent should be required for the ratifica-
tion of neio canons to be made by the Church, they think
that they may not in such sort absolutely "restrain^ the
doing of their office in the feeding and ruling of Christ's
people." But they so far decline from any intention of bring-
ing themselves into collision with the crown, that their words
are, "we most humbly s desire your grace so from henceforth
to shew your grace's mind and opinion to us what your high
wisdom shall think convenient ;" and this in order that they
might attend and act accordingly, under God's direction.
Further, they desire ^ the king to follow the steps of his progeni-
tors, to defend such laws as the clergy, according to their
calling and by the authority of God, shall make for his honour,
the edification of virtue, and the maintenance of Chi-ist's faith.
Of this faith they take leave to remind the king that he is '
defender in name, and has, up to this time, been a special
protector in deed. They conclude J by desiring the king to
discharge from his mind every suggestion that they had
endeavoured to presume or usurp beyond their proper bounds,
and add their hope that he will excuse them from any such

It is believed that Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester,
had the chief hand in drawing up this address, as a letter of
his is^ extant in which he excuses himself upon the matter,
though without receding ^ from those principles which were
contained in it. But neither the address nor the letter were
at all satisfactory to his majesty, who forwarded the former
to the speaker of the House of Commons with this remark,
" We think this answer will smally please you, for it seemeth
to us very slender. You be a great sort of wise men ; I doubt
not you will look circumspectly on the matter, and we will
be indifferent between you." That the king ever was or
ever could be an indifferent mediator in such a business, in
his own sense of the word, is incredible. That he was so in its
modern acceptation is matter of history.

ciercry's second The convocatiou were now under the necessity
•epb- of entering further upon the matter, and their

debates were resumed on Monday ™, April 29th, 1 532, and

A.D. 1532.
K. Heniy

f Cone.

S Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 751.

I' Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 751.

i Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 751.

J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 752.

k Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 752. Att.
App. vi. (a.)
1 Coll. iv.

■n Att.





A. D. 1532.






" Att.

Riehts, p.


o Att.

Rights, p.


P See Cone.

Mas. Brit.

iii. 75;i &

Coll. iv.


q Att.

Rights, p.


r Att.

Riffhts, p.

« Att.
Riglits, p.

t Cone.
Mag. liiit.
iii. Ini.
Coll. iv.
>' Ibid.
V Ibid.



iii. 754.

continued to the following Monday, May 6tli, without effect.
On that day the " prelates desired the lower house to draw
a fresh reply ; and consequently a committee was appointed
and a new document penned. This was laid before the
upper house on Wednesday °, May 8th. Upon the assent of
the upper house being signified to this second reply p, which
was drawn with great spirit and firmness, the Bishops ^ of
London and Lincoln, the Abbots of Westminster and Burton,
Sampson, dean of the chapel, and Fox the almoner were
appointed to present it to the king, and, at the same time, to
be instant with him for the protection of the immunities and
privileges of the Church. The convocation was then con-
tinued to the following Friday '^, May 10th, in order that the
king's opinion, on this second reply of the clergy, might be

The clergy's second reply turned upon two points, 1 st ^, as
regarded neio constitutions to be made by them ; 2ndly, as
regarded old constitutions to be reformed by them. In
reference to the first, they argue from the plain history of
the Christian Church that, in* matters of faith and good
manners neces.sary to the soul's health, the Church has a spi-
ritual jurisdiction and judicial power, and that such authority "
has " always been allowed to the spiritualty by Christian
princes, whose consent to the laws of the Church is involved
not only in the princes' own submission to the faith Catholic,
but is ratified by themselves, first generally at their baptism,
and after, more specially and most commonly by their corporal
oaths at their coronation. They remind the king that the
authority which the clergy claim was asserted to belong to
them most vehemently by himself, in his book written against
Martin Lutlier ; and this essay they reckon that of his
honour he cannot, so of his goodness he will not revoke.
But they so far give way as to say that they will not "^ publish
or put forth any constitutions without his highness' consent,
except they concern the maintenance of faith and morals, and
the reformation and correction of sin. Thus far they delivered
their sentiments in respect to the enactment of w<?z^ constitutions.

As regarded the old constitutions they say, if there be any
such containing matter contrary to the laws temporal, and
the royal prerogative, not being now in use, and not concerning




the faith or reformation of sin ^, that they will right gladly
in that part revoke them.
. . , ^ , When this reply was offered to the king he

Articles of sub- . ,. • n ^ i i i

mission transmit- was stiU unwilluig to be Satisfied, and ordered
e syno . ^ {qyi^ to be delivered to Fox the almoner,
which he was to carry back to the synod with a request that
the members would sign it. The convocation had been, as was
said, continued to^ Friday, May 10th, and on that day Fox
reported the dissatisfaction of the king, and produced the fresh
document, with nothing less than which his majesty, as was
said, would be content. It was couched in these words : —

1. " That no ^ constitution or ordinance shall be hereafter by
tlie clergy enacted, promulged, or put in execution, unless the
king's highness do approve the same by his high authority
and royal assent ; and his advice and favour be also inter-
poned for the execution of every such constitution among his
highness' subjects."

2. " That whereas divers of the constitutions provincial,
which have been heretofore enacted, be thought not only
much prejudicial to the king's prerogative royal, but also
much onerous to his highness' subjects, it be committed to
the examination and judgment of thirty-two persons, whereof
sixteen to be of the upper and nether house of the tempo-
ralty, and other sixteen of the clergy ; all to be appointed by
the king's highness, so that, finally, whichsoever of the said
constitutions shall be thought, and determined by the most
part of the said thirty-two persons, worthy to be abrogate
and annulled, the same to be afterward taken away and to be
of no force and strength."

o. " That all other of the said constitutions, which stand
with God's law and the king's, to stand in full strength and
power, the king's highness' royal assent given to the same."

Proceedings of When Fox brought these three articles
ar['icier'of°"sub- ^^^^ ^^ ^^^^ convocatiou ou Friday, May 10,
mission. they were read^ over first in S. Catharine's,

and afterwards in S. Dunstan's Chapel within the monastery
at Westminster. The result of the ensuing debate was that
four of the upper house, viz. the ^' Bishops of Lincoln and
Bath and Wells, the Abbots of Westminster and S. Ben-
nett's, together with six of the lower house, viz. Fox, Powell,

A. D. 1532.
K. Henry

'^ Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 754.
Coll. iv.

y Att.
Rights, p.

' Att.
Rights, p.
89. Coll. iv.
193. Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 749.
These Arti-
cles are
taken from
the copy in
the acts of
cited liy
ut sup.

" Cone.
Mas. Brit.
iii. '749.
Att. Rights,
p. 90.
•) Att.
Rights, p,




A. D. 1532.






c Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 749.
Att. Rights,
p. 90.

1 See Coll.
iv. 274.

e Coll.


g Att.
Rights, p.

h Att.
Rights, p.
534. k
Coiic. Mag.
Brit. iii.
' Att.
Riglits, p.

J Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 752.
^ Att.
Rights, p.
Rights, p.
91. Coll.
iv. 197.
"> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 753.

Wilson, and Duck doctors of divinity, with Raynes and Cliff
doctors of law, adjourned to the residence of Fisher, Bishop of
Rochester, for his advice in this perplexing business. In
expectation of the result of their counsels the convocation was
continued <= to Monday, May lo.

Now Fishei'^s principles, which afterwards cost him his life,
when it had extended to the lengthened term '^ of seventy-
seven years, were by no means likely to suggest such courses
as would be acceptable to the king, who, on hearing to whom
the matter was referred^, "sent for the speaker of the House
of Commons,'''' and complained to that gentleman that " the
clergy were but half his subjects.''' In order to justify this impu-
tation upon them, he remarked upon the inconsistency between
the oaths taken to himself and to the pope by the dignified pre-
lates, and ordered that those documents should be read ^ in
Parliament, in order to draw attention to the subject, and awe
the clergy generally into a more complete submission, and an
acceptance of the three articles lately transmitted to them.

This management of the king, supported by the parliamen-
tary influence ^, wrought so effectually upon the convocation,
which met on Monday, May 13th, according to the continua-
tion from the previous Friday, to discuss the three articles
before mentioned, that the upper house assented to the king''s
terms'^ on the first article, which treated of neio canons and
constitutions; and they agreed' "not to enact, promulge, or
put in execution any constitution by them to be made in time
coming, unless the king, by his royal assent, should license
them to make, promulge, and execute such constitutions, and
the same, so made, should approve by his highness'' authority.'"''
To this promise, framed upon the first article proposed, and
relating to new constitutions, the lower house also consented,
with, however, one condition, that the concession should be
confined to the termJ of the king's natural life''. Rut upon
the second article, which referred to old canons and the pro-
posed commi.ssion of thirty-two persons for their review,
neither of the houses ' would come up to the royal demands.
They, however, agreed to refer all ™ the old canons to the
judgment and examination of the king himself, promising to
moderate or annul them according to his grace's judgment,
by their own ecclesiastical authoritv, but with the addition of




a general proviso ", " saving all such immunities and liberties of
this Church of England, as had been granted by tlie king's
ancestors, together with such ° constitutions provincial as do
stand with the laws of Almighty God and Holy Church."'

The latter clause of this submission, which seemed to leave
the abrogation of old canons ultimately at the discretion of
the synodsP, and made them "masters of any doubtful construc-
tion," gave the king no contentment ; nor was he satisfied with
the restriction to the term of his natural life, relative to new
canons, as inserted in the first clause; so he pressed on the
clergy more closely, rose higher in his demands, and transmitted
to them at their next session % on Wednesday, May 1 5th ■■,
another form, without the limitation as to his life, or any
reserve whatsoever.

Of this new document the terms were that " they ^ should
never, from thenceforth, presume to attempt, allege, claim,
or put in ure, or to enact, promulge, or execute any canons,
constitutions, or ordinances provincial, without leave of the
crown." And this restraint appears to have been meant to
extend both to old and neiv canons at once, — the first part
of the clause referring to the former, the last part to the
latter. This form was considered by the convocation as too
extensive in its claims, and over-rigorous in its restraint ; it
seemed to disable their spiritual authority, and extinguish
their proper functions. They thought they had previously
receded from their ancient position far enough, and positively
refused' to take this last step backwards. To compel them
to do so, the king sent six noblemen to hold a conference with
the upper house", viz., the Duke of Norfolk, the iNIarquis of
Exeter, the Earl of Oxford, and Lords Sands, Bullen, and
Rochford. After an hom-'s conference, these noblemen carried
back to the king the final resolution of the prelates, that
whatever^ might be the consequence of the refusal, they
would not submit to the terms proposed as regarded the old
canons. But while this conference between the prelates of
the upper house was going on, the lower house were engaged
also in debating the matter. The attack opened by the king
and his commons prevailed more easily there, and the lower
clergy carried the form transmitted in its entirety ; the minority
opposing the first article amounting only to eighteen, and that

A.D. 1532.
K. Henry

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 753.
o Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 753.

P Coll. iv.

1 Att.
Rights, p.

r Att.

Rights, App.
p. 537.

s Att.
Rights, p.

« Att.
Rights, p.

» Att.
Rights, p.
93. Coll.
iv. 198.

» Att.
Rights, p.




A.D. 1532.






« Att.
Rights, I).

s Att.
Rights, p.

y Att.

Rights, p.

^ Att.
Rights, p.

" Cone.
]\Iag. Biit.
iii. 749.
i" Att.
Rights, p.
.04. & Coll.
iv. 199.

<• Cone.
Mac Brit,
iii. 749.
<• Cone.
Mag. Biit.
iii. 7.U. &
Att. Rights,
p. 94.
f2.i Ilcn.
VIII. c. 19.

opposing the second and third to nineteen ; eight members in
the former case, and seven in the hitter dechning to vote at
all. When the prolocutor came up with the resolution of the
lower house, admitting the whole of the terms proposed by the
king, the arclibishop made known the answer which the upper
house had sent to his majesty, and adding that "he'*^ expected
the return of the king's messengers, with some abatement of
the terms of submission," desired the lower clergy to retire
to their own house, and await the event. About noon the
lords ^ returned with the welcome intelligence that the king
would consent to the submission, without the terms M'hich gave
so much reasonable oifence to the prelates, and would be satis-
fied if they promised not to " enact y, put in ure, promulge, or
execute any new canons ^^

Final fonn of Upon this foundation a new draft of submis-
submission passed sion was executed, and agreed to by all the

in the synod. '^ , t*>. i

members of the upper house ^, the Bishop of
Bath and Wells only excepted =*; the Bishops of London,
Lincoln, and S. Asaph admitting it under conditions. When
this ^ last and less stringent submission was proposed to the
lower house, they considered that tlieir consent to it was in-
volved in the more ample form to which they had agreed in
the morning, and therefore tliought it needless to put the
matter to the vote. This draft of the upper house was the
only form presented to the king, and is therefore the only
authentic one''. It was carried up by Archbishop Warhara'^,
on the following day, Thursday, May 16, 1532 ; and as it is a
document of the highest importance to the English Church,
and also as it led to a subsequent statute^, which has exerted
a very sensible influence over her movements, a copy of it is
given in full in the note ^ L^pon perusal it will appear that

' This point is worthy of consideration, as suggesting that the words " attempt,"
" allege," " claim," in 25 Hen. VIII. c. 1!), refer to old canons only.

2 " We, your most humble subjects, daily orators and beadsmen of your clergy
of England, having one speciall trust and confidence in your most excellent wisdom,
your princely goodnesse, and fervent zeal to the promotion of God's honor and
Christian religion, and also in your learning, farr exceeding in our judgment the
learning of all other kings and princes that we have reed of, and doughting
nothing but that the same shall still continew and dailey increase in your majesty,
— first do offer and promise in vcrbo saccrdotii here unto your highness, submitting
our selfs most humbly to the same, tliat we will never from henceforthe enact,




this submission, extorted from the clergy, comes up in sub-
stance to the demands made originally by the three articles
sent down to the convocation by the hands of Fox, the
almoner, on the 10th of JSIay. Their promise amounts
briefly to this — that they would not enact any new canons
without the royal assent, and that the old canons should be re-
viewed by the king and a body of thirty-two commissioners,
with a view to a reform in the laws ecclesiastical^, — but
whether the moral obligation of such promise was more than
personal, and died not with the makers of it, has been ques-
tioned. Upon the conclusion of this business, the convocation
was continued to November 5th, 1582.

It has been thought necessary to give a detailed and precise
account of these debates, on account of the effects which
followed the decisions arrived at ; since this submission of the
clergy, agreed to on Wednesday, May loth, 1532, laid the
foundation for that important act^, usually termed the
Clergy Submission Act, which was passed in the early spring
of 1534 N.s. For I must take leave again to say that such is
the date of this act, notwithstanding that remarkable essay
in history, which lately '^ proceeded from the united judgment

put in ure, promulge, or execute any newe canons or constitution provinciall, or
any other newe ordinance, provinciall or synodall, in our convocations or synode,
in time commyng, which convocation is, alway hath byn, and must be assembled
onely by your high commandment of writte ; only your highness, by your royall
assent, shall lycence us to assemble our convocation, and to make, promulge, and
execute such constitutions and ordiuaments, as shall be made in the same, and
thereto give your royall assent and authorite. Secondarily that whereas diverse of
the constitutions, ordinaments, and canons provinciall or synodall, which have
been heretofore enacted, but thought to be not only muche prejudicial! to your
prerogative royall, but also over muche onerous to your highnesses subjects : your
clergye aforesaid is contented, if it may stand so with your highnesses pleasure,
that it be committed to the examination and judgment of your grace, and of thirty-
two persones, whereof sixteen to be of the upper and nether house of the temporalte,
and other sixteen of the clergye, all to be chosen and appointed by your most
noble grace. So that, fynally, whichsoever of the said constitutions, ordinaments,
or canons provinciall or synodall shall be thought and determyned by your grace,
and by the most part of the said xxxii persons, not to stand with God's laws,

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 37 of 83)