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 39 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 39 of 83)
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Feb. 27, 1543 n.s.

Cant. Provinc. Synod,
with continuations to
May 12.

Cant. Provinc. Synod,
with continuations to
March 31, 1544.

Provincial Synod.

Provincial Synod.

York Pro\-inc. Synod,
with continuations to
Feb. 25, 1546 n.s.

Provincial Synod.

Provincial Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
York Provinc. Synod.

Profane. Synod, conti-
nued to Nov. 22, and
through eight ses-
sions to Dec. 17.

Provincial Synod.

Provincial Synod.
Provincial Synod.
Cant. Pronnc. Synod.

York Provinc. Synod.
York Provinc. Synod.
[1549 N.s.




those aggressing pontiffs who were ever exerting some fresh
strains of interference with the just rights of this Church and
nation. But lamentable as had been the success of Rome's
repeated aggressions upon the liberties of the English Church,
more lamentable still was the corruption of the faith which
had been the consequence. The light of the Gospel which had
first shone upon these shores was never indeed, by God's
grace, totally eclipsed, but yet a dark veil of superstition had
been drawn over the nation''s eyes. The Catholic faith had

A. D. 1534.
K. Henry

LIST OF ENGLISH SYNODS, A. D. 1534 — 1553 — Continued.






Nature of Assembly.

1549 N.s.
Mar. 16

1549, Nov.

Th. Cranmer . .

Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Th. Cranmer . .
Robt. Holgate . .
Th. Cranmer . .

Robt. Holgate . .

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Edward VI

Cone. M. B.
iv. 26

Ibid. 26. 32..
Ibid. 32 ....
Ibid. 32. 60..
Ibid. CO ....
Ibid. 60 ....
Ibid. 60 ....
Ibid. 60. 68..
Ibid. 68 ....
Ibid. 68. 73..
Ibid. 73 ....
Ibid. 73. 88 . .

Ibid. 73 ....

Cant. Provinc. Synod.

N.B. On this day was
sumably it had been
sitting previously.
After the prorogation
on April 21, 1548,
we are not informed
when it was sum-

Cant. Provinc. Synod.

Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Provinc. Synod.
Cant. Prov. Synod.

York Provinc. Synod,
dissolved May 4.

Cant. Provinc. Synod,
dissolved April 1,

Provincial Synod, with
various continuations
to April 15, 1553.

1550 N.s.

Feb. 3
1550, April

1650, Oct.

1651 N.s.

Jan. 21
1551, Mar.

1651, Oct

1551, Nov.

1552 N.s.

Jan. 24 *

1553 N.s.
Mar. 2

15n3 N.s.
Mar. 2

York ....

* " Jan. 24, a quo die usque ad dissolutionem ejus [April 16, 1552, Cone. Mag. Brit,
iv. 73] Synodus convenit pro more soUto," i.e. this synod sat till April 16, 1552, and was then
dissolved. This was, there is reason to believe, the synod in which the second Prayer Book
was sanctioned. The parliament which ratiiied the second Prayer Book (an. 5 & 6 Ed. VI.)
began Jan. 23, 1552 n.s., and ended April 15, 1552.




A.D. 1534.






•> Psal. Ixxx.

c 25 Hen.
VIII. c. 19.

d See Chap.
X. p. 336,
e Coiic.
Mao;. Biit.
Hi. 725.
Mag. Rnt.
iii. 744-5.
K Conr.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 754-5.
h See Chap.
X. p. 346,

mission Act
Hen. VIII. c. 19.

been obscured, and those who walked walked in partial dark-
ness. But so soon as the English Church had recovered her
ancient liberty, aroused herself to a sense of her true position,
and directed her eyes to the sources of primitive truth, then
the freshening rays of another morning dawned, the harbinger
of still brighter day. The seed which had been so early sown
in our native soil by the hand of God again burst forth into
fresh life. Beautiful in new vigour, that tree began again to
spread which has now " stretched ^ out her branches unto the
sea, and her boughs unto the river," laden with the be.st hopes
of men, the ornament and glory of distant lands, as well as of
our own.
„ ^, ,, , Before we proceed to the consideration of the

II. The Sub- *■ . . , , • •

25 part which our provmcial synods (the only right-
ful authorities in such matters) took in the re-
formation of religion, after they had formally rejected papal
jurisdiction, it is necessary to remark upon a change which at
this time passed upon the relations between the Church and
State of England, in consequence of a statute ^ enacted by par-
liament in the year 1534, and usually denominated the " Clergy
Submission Act.'''' From that moment when there was a
prospect that this Church and nation were about to discharge
the usurped power of the pope in spiritual matters, K. Henry
YIII. seeuis to have entertained the project of transferring to
himself every possible particle of that authority which should
be withdrawn from Rome. The tyrannical bearing of his
character would never have allowed him to take the sound
advice once tendered to a Theban king, " that ' he should not
affect universal jurisdiction." This enterprise K. Henry VIII.
promoted, as we have seen in the ^ last chapter, by obtaining
for himself, from the clergy, in the year loSl, the title of
" supreme "^ head of the Church, so far as the law of ^ Christ
permits" — and by extracting from them, in the year 1532,
thc*^ promise, that "they'' would not enact any new canons
without the royal assent, and tliat the old canons should be
reviewed by the king and a body of thirty-two commissioners,
with a view to a reform in the laws ecclesiastical." As a
means of crowning these endeavours to increase his jurisdic-

^ ndvra fit) (SoiiXov KpareXv,
Kal yap a '(cpdrjjerag, ov tjoi t(i) /3«(/> KwiawtTo. — Soph. CEd. Tyr. 1550-1.




tion, the king so managed that in the year 1534 the "Clergy
Submission Act " was made law of the land. A copy of those
parts of this act which are connected with the convocations is
here appended in the note '. Upon due consideration, it will

^ The submission of the clergy, and restraint of appeals.— Ex Reg. Convocat.

" A ceste bille avec une provision annexe les seigneurs sont assentuz."

" Where the kyngis humble and obedient subjects, the clergie of this realme of
England, have not onely knaweleged, according to the treweth, that the convoca-
cions of the same cleregy is, always bathe ben, and awght to be assembled onely
by the kingis wrytt, but also subraytting themselfys to the kingis magestie, have
promised ' in verbo sacerdotii ' that they will never from hencefurth presume to
attempt, alege, clayme, or put in ure, or enact, promulge, or execute any newe
canons, constitucions, ordinannce provincial!, or other, or by whatsoever other name
they shal be called, in the convocacion, oneles the kingis most roiall assent and
licence may to them be had, to make, promulge, and execute the same ; and that
his magestie do gyve his most royall assent and auctoritie in that behalf: and
where diverse constitucions, ordynancis, and canons provinciall or synodall, whiche
heretofore hathe ben enacted, and be thought not onely to be muche prejudiciall
to the kingis prerogative roiall, and repugnant to the lawes and statutes of this
realme,*but also over muche onerouse to his highnes and his subjects ; the said
cleregy hathe most humbly besought the kingis highnes, that the said constitucions
and canons may be committed to the examinacion and judgement of his highnes,
and of xxxii. personnes of the kingis subjects, whereof xvi. to be of the upper and
nether hows of the parliament of the temporaltie, and other xvi. to be of the
cleregy of this realme, and all the said xxxii. personnes to be chosen and
appoynted by the kingis magestie ; and that suche of the said constitucions and
canons, as shal be thought and determined by the said xxxii. personnes, or the
more part of them, worthie to be abrogated and adnulled, shall be abolite and
made of no value accordingly ; and suche other of the same constitucions and
canons, as by the said xxxii. or the more parte of them, shal be approved to
stand with the laws of God, and consonante to the lawes of this realme, shall
stand in their full strenght and power, the kingis most roiall assent first had and
opteyned to the same.

" Be yt therefore nowe enacted by auctoritie of this present parliament, accord-
ing to the said submission and peticion of the said cleregy, that they, ne enny of
them, from hencefurth shall presume to attempt, alege, clayme, or put in ure any
constitucions or ordinanncys, provinciall or sinodalys, or any other canons, nor
shall enact, promulge, or execute any suche canons, constitucions, or ordinannce
provinciall, by whatsoever name or names they may be called, in their convoca-
cions in tyme commyng, whiche alway shal be assembled by auctorite of the
kingis wrytt, oneles the same cleregy may have the kingis moste roiall assent and
licence to make, promulge, and execute suche canons constitucions, and ordi-
nanncys provinciall or sinodall, upon pain of every one of the said cleregy doyng
contrary to this act, and being thereof convicte, to suffer empresonament, and
make fyne at the king's will. And forasmuche as suche canons, constitucions,
and ordinannce, as heretofore hath ben made by the cleregy of this realme, cannot
nowe at the session of this present parliament, by reason of shortnesse of tyme,
be vewyd, examyned, and determined by the kingis highnes, and xxxii. personnes

A. D. 1534.
K. Henry




A.D. 1534.






' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 754. Att.
Rights, 1.1).
9-2. 94.
J See Att.
Rights, pp.

Rights, 102,
and pp. 99
— 101.
''k See last
clause of act,

appear that the following are, in brit^f, the main points which
its provisions enforce, placed according to the order in which
it is most convenient to view them, and it will be seen that
they are built on the footstone of the synodical' submission of
the clergy, conceded in synod on the loth of May, 1532.

This statute enacts — First. That the convocations " always
shall be assembled by authority of the king''s writ."

Secondly. That the clergy^ shall neither collectively nor indi-
vidually ^ attempt to enforce any old canons * ; but this with a
proviso^'' that all such canons as were then in force, and

to be chosen and appointed according to the peticion of the said cleregy, in fourme
above rehersed ; be yt therefore enacted by auctoritie aforesaid, that the kingis
highnes shall have power and auctoritie to nominate and assigne at his pleasure
the xxxii. personnes of his subjects, whereof xvi. to be of the cleregy, and xvi.
to be of the temporaltie of the upper and nether hows of the parliament. And yf
enny of the said xxxii. personnes soe chosen shall happen to dye before their full
determinacion, then his highnes to nominate other from time to time of the said
two howsis of the parliament, to supple the nowmber of the said xxxii. And that
the same xxxii. by his highnesse so to be named, shall have power and auctoritie
to vewe, serche, and examyn the said canons, constitucions, and ordinannce pro-
vinciall and synodall heretofore made ; and suche of them as the kingis highnes,
and the said xxxii. or the more part of them shall deme and adjudge worthy to
be continued, kept, and obeyde, shal be from thencefurth kept, obeyd, and
exemted ' within this realme, so that the kingis most roiall assent, under his great
seal, be first had to the same. And the residewe of the said canons, constitucions,
and ordinannce provinciall, wliich the kingis highnesse, and the said xxxii. per-
sonnes, or the more parte of them shall not approve, or deme and judge worthie
to be abolit, abrogate, and made frustrate, shall from thencefurth be void and of
noen effect, and never be put in execution within this realme.

" Provided alway, that noe canons, constitucions, or ordinannce shall be made
or putt in execution within this realme by auctoritie of the convocacion of the
cleregy, whichc shal be contrariannt or repugnant to the kings prerogative royall,
or the custumos, lawes, or statutes of this realme ; any thing contained in this
acta to the contrary hereof notwithstanding.

" Provided also that suche canons, constitucions, ordynannces pro\-incyall and
synodalls, beyng allredy made, which be not contrariannt nor repugnant to the
lawes, statutes, and customes of this realme, nor to the damage or hurte of the
king's prerogative royall, shall now still be used and executyd as thei were affore
the makeing of this act, tyll suche tyme as they be %'ewed, serched, or otherwise
ordered and determined by the said xxxii. persons, or the more part of them,
according to the tenour, fourme, and effect of this present act.

" Soit bailie aux communes. A cest provision les communes sont assent«z." —
Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. iii. p. 770.

* There are historical reasons for believing that the words " attempt, allege,
claim, or put in ure " had reference to old canons. See authorities quoted in the
margin, and the historical account of the clergy's submission in the last chap., ad
an. 1532.




which were not contrary to the laws of the realm or the king's
prerogative, should be used and executed until reviewed.

Thirdly. That " the clergy in convocation shall not enact or
execute any ™ new canons without the royal license.

Fourthly. That no canons whatever shall be made or executed
by the authority of the clergy in convocation which are repug-
nant to the prerogative royal, or to the laws or customs of the

Fifthly. That thirty-two persons shall be nominated by the
king (composed of sixteen clergy and sixteen laity, the latter
to be chosen from the two houses of parliament), with power
to review the existing canons, and that the result of their
labours, when authorized by the king's assent under the great
seal, shall be received as the ecclesiastical law of England.

Sixthly. The breach of the provisions of this act on the
part of the clergy was made punishable by imprisonment and
fine at the king's will.

Some other" enactments are contained in this statute, re-
ferring to the ° gradations of appeals in ecclesiastical causes —
theP ultimate court of appeal — forbiddingi appeals to Rome —
and providing for appeals in cases'^ exempt from ordinary
jurisdiction. But as these do not come within the im-
mediate scope of our present subject, they may be here
omitted, as being of secondary importance to an enquiry
into the extent of authority challenged by this act over the
English convocations. Tn pursuing this matter it is neces-
sary to bespeak the forgiveness and consideration of " the
members of the learned profession, for, according to the usual
fate of those who write out of their own calling, I shall doubt-
less express myself now and then somewhat improperly." The
object, however, is to give a clear and honest account ; and if
the manner should not be according to strict rules of art, the
matter, if just and true, may perhaps be accepted as a sufficient

Now in the first place, with all deference to the

The preamble « , , i i i i ,i

of this Act uot memory of the learned gentleman who penned the
accor ing o lu . p^g^^^j^jg ^f ^j^jg g^^^^ j^ luust be confesscd, that

he flourished overmuch in his style, and drove on too furiously,
tramphng upon precedents, and riding down the facts of history ;
so that, even from a distance, we may recognize his raanage-

A. D. 1534.
K. Henry

11 Atteib.

Rights, p.


■n Atterb.

Rights, pp.


n See Sta-
tutes at
large, 25
Hen. VlII.
c. 19.
o Sec. 3.
P Sec. 4.
q Sec. 5.
■• Sec. 6.




A.D. 1534.






* See Cliap.
X. p. 346,

' AVake's
State, p. 439.
<■ Wake's
Auth. of
Princes, p.

* Wake's
State, pp. 10.

" Cone.
Mag. Biit.
iii. 6")1, and
Coll. iv. 237.

" Coll.

ment. It looks much as if it proceeded from the same hand
which drew those articles of submission sent down^ to the
clergy on Wednesday, ]\Iay 15, 1532, and of which the accep-
tance was then wrung from them. Certain it is, that most
astonishing lapses are frequently committed by those learned
persons who prepare drafts of acts ; and further, that
our legislators are often, even in these times, entrapped into
the snare, and so set the stamp of their authority on bad
grammar and worse sense. But to invest with all the solemn
circumstance of an act of parliament historical statements
directly contradictory to the truth is not a common practice,
and when such a contingency occurs, as in the present case,
it augurs most unpardonable carelessness or ignorance, or
somewhat even still less deserving of forgiveness. For the
preamble of this act states that "the clergie . . . have . . .
knaweleged, according to the treweth, that the convocacions of
the same cleregy is, always hathe ben, and awght to be assem-
bled onely by the kyngis wrytt." Now, granting that they
did make such an acknowledgement, to say that it was
" according to the treweth " is an assertion which must be
approached with extreme caution. In fact, the statement that
our * convocations were always assembled by the king's writ is
simply false" ; and to say that they were only so assembled, is
to take another step still further from the truth. To quote
instances of the convocations being assembled previously to
this date at the sole ^ motion of the archbishop, without royal
writs, would be to recapitulate facts which would fill a volume.
Such metropolitical authority had been exercised even "" in this
very reign, so late as in the year 1510 n.s., when, by Arch-
bishop Warham's mandate only, the Canterbury Convocation
met at S. Paul's, London, on the 26th of January. Whoever,
therefore, penned this preamble, did not only fail to " consult '^
the ancient practice," but, if honest, showed extraordinary
lack of knowledge as regarded the events of his own times. It
is perfectly true that the clergy did admit, two years before,
what this preamble falsely sets forth to have been " accord-
ing to the treweth." But it is only just to their memory to add,
that the draft of submission was penned and sent down to them,
and that compliance was extracted from them under press of
time and circumstances, and, moreover, with some applications



of tyrannical force. Under ordinary circumstances, it would
indeed have supplied cause for wonder that "the^ clergy
should have fallen into such an oversight, wanted skill or
courage to maintain their privilege, and contradicted un-
doubted records to their own disadvantage."''

It is however time to consider those provisions in this
statute which affected the functions of our provincial synods,
and still exercise an abiding influence over the relation be-
tween the Church and State of England. In some respects
this enactment laid heavier restraints upon the synodical
action of the Church of England and the jurisdiction of her
metropolitans than were imposed by the exercise of the papal
power. For instance, while subject to papal tyranny, our
metropolitans exercised ^ an independent jurisdiction in con-
vening their provincial synods at their own will, which by
this act was restrained. And though solid advantages were
secured by discharging the Pope"'s supremacy, which far out-
weighed the disadvantages of falling under the eccentric
tyranny and capricious jurisdiction of K. Henry VIIL, yet at
that time the Church of England was certainly placed in this
dilemma, —

" Aut a haec cum illis sunt habenda, aut ilia cum his amittenda sunt ;
Harum duarum conditionum nunc utram malis, vide."

To choose the least of evils is the result of a wise philosophy,
and of that philosophy she now became a disciple.

But to consider in order the six provisions of this act
which had special reference to the convocations.
, ^ , It was here enacted that the convocations

I. Enacts that

the convocations " always shall be assembled^ by authority of

Now these words have

"always shall he ., , . , .. ,

assemhled by au- the kmg S Writ.

kingWrir' ^^^ generally been interpreted to a sense of re-
straint. They are, however, capable of being
understood as a promise that such a writ should never be
withheld, but for the present we will admit the common

It is abundantly notorious '^ that previously to this time the
metropolitans of the English Church, in accordance with
primitive practice, had exercised constantly a prerogative, in-
herent in their office, of summoning provincial synods when-

A.D. 153
K. Henry



^ Wake's
State, p. 439.

a Terent.
timov. A. II.
sc. iii. 8-1-5.

b 25 Hen.
VIII. c. 19,
sec. 1.

<: Wake's
State, p. 439.




J" Autho-
rity of Chris-
tian Princes

ever such a course appeared to them desirable. The kings of
England indeed had often issued their writs in order to urge
the metropolitans to exercise that prerogative ; but it was
never supposed that royal writs were necessary for the due
celebration of provincial synods; or that a metropolitan might
not call together the bishops and clergy of his province when-
ever he pleased, and independently of the receipt of such docu-
ments. However, from the date of this act, 1534, it is said
that royal writs are by statute a necessary precedent to the
meeting of our convocations ; and that the metropohtans can-
not of their own motion assemble them, without subjecting
themselves and the members to highly penal provisions. Thus
a new and extensive power, and one which might be exercised
with manifest disadvantage to the national Church, is annexed
to the crown. For it is left to the discretion of the monarch
to silence the voice of the Church ; and when we consider the
character of that one who, at the period before us, sat upon
the throne of England, it is only wonderful that the power
here said to be intrusted to him was not more arbitrarily
asserted and more unjustly exercised.

It has happily been now acknowledged as an inherent
part of the British constitution that royal writs for sunuuon-
ing our two convocations should issue concurrently with
the writs for summoning our parliaments; and this usage
has now become so constant, as to have obtained the force of
custom, and is so firmly established as to carry with it much of
the weight of common law. Thus though the Submission Act,
as it is said, at first placed it in the power of the king to call
the convocations into action or to hold them in abeyance, yet
the custom which has so long prevailed could now very hardly
be contravened, and the withholding of the royal writs would
be an exercise of authority so new and surprising that there is
no reasonable ground for fear that such a course will ever be
pursued. Indeed those who most incline towards the highest
claims of authority on the part of Christian princes over
synods, and most vehemently oppose just ecclesiastical liberty,
would hardly recommend such a stretch of power. Dr. Wake,
who favoured the world with a book ^ on this subject for the
express purpose of asserting the regale in its highest extent,
and therefore cannot be objected to as a witness, did not




" doubt ® to affirm that, whenever the king is in his own con-
science convinced that for the convocation to sit and act
would be for the glory of God, the benefit of the Church, or
otherwise for the public good and welfare of his realm, he
is obliged both by the law of reason as a man, by his duty to
God as a Christian, and by his duty to his people as a ruler
set over them for their good, to permit, or rather to command
his clergy to meet in convocation and transact what is fit for
any or all these ends to be done by them."

But this f, it may be said, resolves the meeting of convoca-
tions into a question of the conscience of the prince ; and lest
this might not prove a sufficient security for the satisfaction
of all men, this writer makes a still further concession,
" agreeing" and "allowing" "thats the Church has a right to
have its convocation called as often as the parliament is
assembled ; that the convocation thus called has a right to sit

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 39 of 83)