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 41 of 83)
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its provisions must be restrained within the limits of its primary
intention by the aid of more just and careful investigations.

A.D. 1.534.
K. Henry

J 2,5 Hen.
vni. c. 10.

e See Judg-
ment, Court
of Queen's
April 2,5,

f Hume, ell.
x.xx. p. 317.

& Lord Her-
bert, Life ot
K. Hen.
Hist. vol. ii,
p. IGl.
I> Eitlier
Nov. U or
Jan. 25.




A.D. 1534.






' Wake's
State, p. .534.
Coke's Kep.
xii. 70 et
seq. Pearce,
Law Conv.
p. 104.

J AVakc's
State, p. .53.5

k 2.5 Hen.
VIII. c. 19,
sec. 2.

To return to the point before us. The decision that the
clergy in convocation " cannot confer to constitute* any canons
without Hcense del roy " was doubtless a resolution of the
judges, but whetlier it was warranted by the terms of the
statute is another question. That the clergy may not " enact,
promulge, or execute new canons " is a point on which the
statute is decisive, but that they may not (as some would
have us believe) confer upon such subjects and prepare matter
for the consideration and, if it be so, for the approval and con-
sent of the sovereign, to be signified by a license for pro-
mulgation, is more than appears. Dr. Wake, whose volumi-
nous labours were directed certainly not towards the exaltation
of ecclesiastical power, and who in due time was recompensed
by very solid rewards for his performance, does not hesitate to
make this admission : " AVhether the convocation may not,
without the king's license, deliberate of such things as may
be fit to be done by them for the service of the Church, I
shall not undertake to say. ... To deliberate of what might
usefully be considered by them, and to petition the king there-
upon for leave so to do, this, as it is no attempting to make a
canon, so does it not, I conceive, come within the design of
that prohibition which this act has laidJ upon them."

4. Enacts that ^^^'^ fourtli provision contained in this act,
no canons shall be accordiuo; to the Order in which it is convenient

made repugnant ^ p

to the preiojrativc to vicw its enactments, was, that no ^ canons

royal or tlie laws , i n i i i i i

and customs of Whatever shall be made, or executed by the
authority of the clergy in convocation, which
are repugnant to the prerogative royal, or to the laws or
customs of the land. Now not to dwell here upon the utter
impossibility (considering the present constitution of England)
of any canons being executed by the clergy under the circum-
stances supposed, it is, I think, no unreasonable flattery to that
body of men to say that a more loyal portion of her majesty's
subjects does not exist ; that none has a more earnest desire
for peaceable and liarmnnious relations between the Church
and State; and that a just respect for the prerogative royal,
and the laws and customs of their native land, will ever ex-
ercise over them a moi-e powerful and a more wholesome
influence than any fears of those penal provisions which this
statute contains.




5 Enacts that "^^^^ ^^^^^ provision of this act was, that
thirty-two persons thirty- 1 WO persons should be nominated^ by

shall be appointed , , . t <» • i •

to revise the ec- the King, coiTiposed of Sixteen clergy and six-
c esias ica aws. ^^^^ laity, with powcr to revise the then existing
canons ; and that the result of their labours, when authorized
by the king's assent under the great seal, should be received
as the ecclesiastical law of England.

The "Refer- Eleven years after the passing of this act
matio legum." ^^j^ j^^^') ^ ^j.^j-|. ^f j-gform was prepared " by
the influence of Cranmer, and still later, in conformity with its
provisions, fortified by subsequent statutes " in the fifth year
of K. Edward VI. (a.d. 1551), the following" persons were
appointed p to revise the ecclesiastical laws. They consisted
of the Archbishop of Canterbury and seven bishops, eight
divines, eight civilians, and eight common lawyers.


Canterbury Dr,

London ,,

Winton ,,










M. Parker
A. Cook
P. ISIartyr
J. Cheke
J. Alasco.

Mr. Peter Justice Hales

„ Cecyl
Sir T. Smith
Mr. Taylor
Dr. May
Mr. Traheron
Dr. Lyel







Mr. Skinner. Recorder Brook.

Although these thirty-two persons were appointed in ac-
cordance with the provisions of the statutes mentioned, it ap-
pears from a letter "J of K. Edward VL, dated from West-
minster ^ that the chief business in this matter was committed
to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Ely, Cox and
P. Martyr, May and Taylor, Lucas and Goodrick. By their
labours that well-known book entitled " The Reformation ^
of Ecclesiastical Laws, first commenced hy the authority of K.
Henry VIII., and afterwards matured hy K. Edward F/.,*"
was compiled. It never, indeed, was invested with statutable
authority, nor did it receive the ^ royal ratification, which

2 " Reformatio legum ecclesiasticarum ex authoritate primum Regis Henrici
VIII. inchoata; deinde per Regem Edovardum VI. provecta, adauctaque in hunc
modum, atque nunc ad pleniorem ipsarum reformationem in lucem edita."—

A.D. 1534.
K. Henry

I 25 Hen.
VIII. c. 19,

sec. 2.

™ Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 133.

» 35 Hen.
VIII. c. 16.
3 & 4 Ed.
VI. c. 11.
° Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 271.
P Vid. inf.
this chap,
ad an. 1551.

1 Reform.


Eccl. ad


f No^'emher,


* Strype's
p. 271.




A.D. 1534.






' Strype's
p. 271.

" 25 Hen.
VIII. c, 19,

sec. 1.

V Black-
stone's Com.
i. 88.

was delayed " partly * by business and partly by enemies ;"
and as the death of the young king soon followed, the matter
slept. The book was first printed in 1571, with a preface by
John Foxe the martyrologist, having remained in manu-
script until that year. But though this work never received
such sanctions as to render its contents legally binding,
yet it is of use in shewing what were the sentiments of our
reformers ; what were the regulations which they thought
expedient for the Church's and nation''s welfare ; and what
would have been the authoritative rules for the decision of
ecclesiastical questions if their principles had been fairly
and finally carried out. Such a reform in ecclesiastical law
as was here inaugurated has been ever since much required.
Nor do the circumstances of the present day render a final
settlement of so needful a part of jurisdiction less desirable
than formerly.

The sixth provision of this act, according to
the order in which we are viewing them, was,
that any " breach of its enactments on the part
of the clergy should be punishable by imprison-
ment, and fine at the king's will. On which it
is only necessary to remark that this, being a penal statute, and
involving moreover an extremely fearful degree of punishment,
requires to be very ^ precisely construed — that all proceedings
taken under it must be restrained within the strict terms of
its provisions — and, further, that fanciful inferences from mis-
statements of historical facts, together with all flourishes of
" illustration and ornament,'" must be considered as ill-suited
for its elucidation, and can never be permitted to stand as
footstones upon which to rear a superstructure of acceptable

It is the more necessary to insist on these points, because
reliance has been placed on this statute for raising objections
even to diocesan synods, as well as for hampering in every pos-
sible way the action of the English convocations. It has been
supposed to carry with it some expansive powers and myste-
rious terrors, by which the reception of petitions, appointments
of committees, deliberations on ecclesiastical questions, and
all the proper engagements and legal functions of our provincial
synods are restrained, unless those assemblies should be pre-

6. Enacts that
a breach of this
statute shall be
punishable by im-
prisonment and
fine at the king's



viously qualified by royal license over and above, and in addition
to the royal writs for convening them, which issue as matters of
course. But such suppositions rest on no foundation what-
ever ; they are merely creatures of the imagination, and begot-
ten by the wishes of those who suggest them.

It is a matter of history that, in the twenty-fifth year of K.
Henry VI., a.d. 1447, there were like attempts to overstrain
the statute law to the disadvantage of the clergy, who con-
sequently then took leave to remonstrate. " The "^ Arche-
bishopes of Caunterbury and of York, the bishopes and other
prelates, and al the clergie of" this " reame of Englande" made
a representation to that sovereign respecting the interpreta-
tion of the statute of prasmunire passed in the sixteenth year
of K. Richard II. That representation the clergy of this
day have good reason to repeat in respect of the interpretation
of the statute of submission passed in the twenty-fifth year of
K. Henry VIII. The very words of the clergy of that time
befit the mouths of the clergy of this, — not a syllable requires
alteration. They are as follow : — " Now of late tyme some
men have extendid and peyned'em to make to straunge and to
bitter interpretation of the said statute, such as, if it shulde
be suffi-ed and have place, shold turne to intolerable hurt and
prejudice of the said prelates, and of spiritual juges in the
lande .... for hit most of reason be trowed and thought that
in the making of the said statute, thentente of the makers was
to ordeyne, mesur, and proportion the peyne contiened
therein lyke to the offence and trespass, and may not re-
sonably be suppozed that the prelates of the Church that were
in the said parlement or other of the king's lieges wold have
involved hemself in every caas, that might be comprehended
in the said bitter interpretation, in so grete and so grevous a
peyne .... and semblably some, that rejoyse hem in vexation,
trouble or daungeryng and undoyng namly of persones of
the Church, make such interpretation as theym list, over and
otherwise thenne the wordes sonne ''."

It has been thought necessary to dwell thus long on the
subject of the Clergy Submission Act on account of the
historical interest which attaches to it in connexion with our
subject. As regards its present influence over the provincial
synods of our own days, the first point of importance settled by

A.D. 1534.
K. Henry

** Cone.
Ma?. Brit.
iii. 555.

'f Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 556.




A.D. 1534.






y See Hody.
iii. 281.

it is, that a royal writ must precede the assembUng of a con-
vocation. Secondly, as touching the enactment of any new
canons, it is clear by this statute that they would not be legally
binding (however binding they might be considered in foro
conscientiw by Churchmen) unless they received the sove-
reign's license and assent. And even when fortified by such
high approval some authorities imagine that by the present
constitution of England the subsequent sanction of the impe-
rial legislature would be required to make them obligatory
in foro externo ; so that fears on the subject of ecclesiastical
encroachment in this respect seem highly unreasonable.

III. An un- ^^ ^^^^ heen a favourite theme among many
founded assertion, persons to suggcst ' that the convocations had
but little to do with the formal acts connected with the reform-
ation in England ; and this theme has supplied matter for
sundry essays which are not borne out by the facts of history.
Previously to the death of Archbishop Morton, a. n. 1500,
as was before observed, the acts of the Canterbury Convoca-
tion were recorded in the archbishop's registers. After ^ his
time they " were recorded not in the great registers, but in
distinct volumes ;" and these were kept as the records of
convocations, and preserved in their own archives. But
these documents, unhappily, perished in the fire of London,
A.D. '[QQQ, so that the difficulty of tracing synodical proceed-
ings, during the several stages of the reformation, is much
increased. Thus the Church is taken at a vast disadvantage
in repelling those rough sallies which have been continually
made against her legitimate authority, and in contradicting
those positive assertions which deny that she exercised her
proper functions in her legitimate synods during that very
important period of her history. Still, notwithstanding such
disadvantages, sufficient records remain to shew that very much
which has been said on tliis subject is historically false, — a
conclusion at which the most prejudiced person who has the
patience to consider the facts of the case cannot but arrive.

IV. Proceedings The altered situation of the Church of Eng-
in convocation j^nd, in reference to the papal power, and her

after the discharge . ^ r i r '

of the papal supre- new relation in reference to the civil state, were

* See speeches delivered in the House of Lords, July 11, I80I.
Archbishop of York, 1853, &c. &c.

Charge of the




niacy and the ^ow preo^nant witli remarkable consequences.
Hen! Till. c. 19. The supremacy of Rome had been discharged by
competent authority, the " Act of Submission,'' had become
the law of the land, and the great era of the English reform-
ation had now fairly commenced. On account of the important
matters upon which we shall henceforth find our convocations
engaged, it will be necessary to proceed gradually, and to mark,
year by year, the advances which were made by their authority,
in bringing back religion to the primitive standard, and also to
detail, with greater precision and in chronological order, the
exercise of their proper powers in the general management
of ecclesiastical affairs.

On the 4th of November * (1 534) the Convo-

Title of legate , , • j x

struck off from cation of Canterbury met, and was contmued to
f;jhe"c2rlur; the eleventh of that month. On the latter day
provincial synod. ^ formal act took placc, confirmatory of the
renunciation of the papal supremacy. It ^ was ordered, that
in all documents to be exhibited in this provincial synod, or
henceforward in the convocations, the archbishop should be
styled "metropolitan," and that the term "legate of the
apostolic see," a flourish formerly added to the archiepiscopal
title, should be struck out. This convocation was also en-
gaged in the consideration of many " urgent ^ matters con-
cernino- heresy, with a view to reformation," and its attention
was moreover directed, during its sessions in the •= month of
December, to some English books which had lately been
printed ; these were committed for examination, in the first
place to the ^ bishops, and afterwards to the prolocutor and
the clergy of the lower house. Among them, a " prymer * "
was produced, in which some rubrics were contained, which
were condemned by the archbishop ^ and the upper house, as
inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church, and therefore
improper for the instruction of the people.

But the last day (Dec. 19) of meeting in the
the^fno^for^^ present convocation appears to have been the
suppression of he- jj^qq^, important in its results; for after the

retical hooks and ' • i - ii

for a translation prolocutor had communicated to the upper
of the Scriptures. ^^^^^ ^^^^ ceusurcs which had been passed in

* This is supposed to have been Marshall's primer,
the publisher.— Lathbury, 2nd edit. p. 133.

called because he was

A. D. 1534.
K. Henry

^ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 769.

a Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 769, and
Coll. iv. -266.

•> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 769.
i; Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 769. 776.

•1 Cone.

e Cone.
Mag^. Brit.
iii. /70.




A. D. 1.534.





f Cone.
Mag. Brit.
p. 24.

e Ibid, and
Ref. p. 20,
and Eccl.
Vind. p. 8.
'' Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 77<).
' Atterb.
Rijrbts, i>p.

J Cone.
Mag Brit,
iii. 785.

k Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 780'. '[)d.

' V'id. Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 785.

'" Vid. infra,
sec. 17.

the lower upon the books committed to their examination,
the bishops, abbots, and priors agreed upon an address to the
king on the subject. They " unanimously ^ did consent that
the most reverend father the archbishop should make instance
in their names to the king, that his majesty would vouclisafe,
for the increase of the faith of his subjects, to decree and
command that all his subjects, in whose possession any books
of suspect doctrine were, especially in the vulgar language,
imprinted beyond or on this side the sea, should be warned
within three months, to bring them in before ])ersons to be
appointed by the king, under a certain pain, to be limited by
the king. And ° that, moreover, his majesty would vouchsafe
to decree, that the scriptures^ should^ he translated'^ into the
vulgar tongue, by some honest and learned men, to be nomi-
nated by the king, and to be delivered to the people accord-
ing to their learning."

Thus, in our first provincial synod after the assertion of the
independence of the English Church, were advances made
towards a true reformation, at least, if the discharge of the
papal flourish attached to the archbishop's title, if the censure
of heretical books, and if the request that the scriptures
might be translated into the vulgar tongue, may be so

The year 1535 was remarkable for the ap-
pointment of Thomas Cromwell, as vicar-general,
with a commission to exercise such authority as
appertained to the king by his title of " supreme
head." The grotesque consequence of this
delegated power will appear in the detail of the proceedings of
convocation in the next year. A visitation of the J monasteries
and religious houses was also contemplated, in which Cromwell
was destined to play a conspicuous part ; and instructions were '^
issued for the management of this enterprise. \Vhether the
recorded appointment of Cromwell on this occasion did not
contain ' matter which extended the regale beyond any just or
reasonable bounds, may be left to the unprejudiced judgment
of those who may direct their studies that way. This subject of
the visitation of the monasteries must ™ be hereafter consi-

* Ileylin seems to say that this request was put up by both Houses. — Att.
Rights, pp. 183, 184, quotes Heyl., Ret'orm. Justified, p. 8.

V. A.D. 1535.
Cromwell. Mo-
nasteries. K.Hen-
ry VIII. c.xconi-




dered at some length, as the effect of that proceeding was
to diminish the number of the members of our provincial
synods, so that it will necessarily come within the scope
of our present enquiry. The formal excommunication of K.
Henry VIII. was also issued this year" by Pope Paul III.
Such a fulmination naturally tended to render the breach
already existing between the Eoman and English Churches
still wider than before.

VI A D 1536 ^" ^^^ 9th ° of June (1536) a new Canterbury
Canterbury pro- convocatiou met, in which much important busi-
ness was transacted. The usual ^ solemnities
having been observed, Hugh Latimer, Bishop of Worcester,
preached the sermon. The second session was held i on the
sixteenth of the same month : and Mr. Gwent, who had been
elected as prolocutor of the lower house, was admitted by the
archbishop to that office. Upon the same day a starthng claim
was set up by Mr. William Petre, who challenged'^ the chief place
in synod, introducing himself as the deputy of Vicar-General
Cromwell, and stating that, to the latter, as representing the
king's supreme headship, such a mark of pre-eminence belonged.
This was certainly an unheard-of proceeding, as being a deriva-
tion of ecclesiastical distinction from a somewhat doubtful
source, and through a most exceptionable channel.

But this alleged supremacy of Mr. William

Cromweirs ri- t-. i p i i • n • .

dicuious assump- Petre was but 01 short duration, lor^ in the
following session* Thomas Cromwell himself
appeared among the prelates, and took the place "^ of the
archbishop. This flourish of usurped power was peculiarly
remarkable, and the figure which that gentleman made in
an ecclesiastical assembly was somewhat singular, not only
because he was a layman, but because he " had ^ neither birth,
learning, nor character to bear him out." " For an ignorant
layman," says Bishop Godvvyn, " to preside in a synod of the
most learned bishops that ever were in England was but a
scandalous sight. If this function could have been executed
by one of the laity, the king would have done much better in
person than by such a proxy." There is something shocking in
such affectation. The constitution of the English Church, up
to this time, knew nothing of laymen taking authoritative places
in pure ecclesiastical synods, nor has such a soloecism ever

A.D. 1535.
K. Henry

1 Cone.
Map. Brit,
iii. 79'2.

A.D. 153R.
o Coll. iv.
P Cone.
Mag. Brit.

1 Cone.
Ma?. Brit.
iii. 803.

r Cone.
Mag. Br
iii. 803.

* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 803.
' June 21.
" Coll. iv.

' Coll.




* Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 803.

" Coiir.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 804.
y Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. "803.

» Cone.
Mag. Brit.


been repeated .since the time of Thomas Cromwell. Some
wild and unfounded fancies upon this subject, with a view to
the introduction of laymen with votes decisive into synods, have
of late years, indeed, been broached ; and should such enter-
prises produce any practical results England may see some
strange institutions, adorned with still stranger names, inau-
gurated ; but in their establishment apostolical precedent and
primitive practice will be disregarded, our provincial synods
rudely annihilated, and the principles of the English con.stitution
subverted. Nor will such managements receive much lustre
from the ridiculous and solitary examples which our records
furnish of the like singularities in the persons of Mr. William
Petre and the notorious Thomas Cromwell,

On thesame day on which Cromwell appeared in
Queen Anne Bo- this prepostcrous positiou, Ai"chbishop Cranmer
introduced into the convocation the sentence of
divorce between the king and Anne Boleyn. It was ^ agreed
to by both houses at once ; and the necessary seals, with signa-
tures of the members, were attached some days ^ afterwards.
In the fourth session y, June 23, on which

Erroneous ojn-

tions represented occasiou it docs uot appear that Cromwell dis-
lesjno. played himself in his borrowed decorations,

Mr. Gwent, the prolocutor, together with the clergy of the
lower house, submitted to the archbishop a list of erroneous
opinions which some preachers, in the province of Canterbury,
had taken leave to promulgate. These opinions were reduced
into ^ sixty-seven articles ", and though the lower house then

' Art. 3. " Tliat priests have no more autliority to administer the sacraments
than tlie laity." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 80.").

Art. 10. " That a man hath no free will." — Ibid.

Art. 34. " That it is not necessary or profitable to have any church or chancel
to pray in or to do any divine service in." — Ibid. 80(>.

Art. 36. "That burying people in churches and church-yards be unprofitable
and vain." — Cone. Mag. Brit. iir. 806.

Art. 52. " That the singing or saying of mass, mattens, or even-song, is but a
roring, howling, whistling, murmuring, tomring, and juggling, and the playing
at the organs a foolish vanity." — Ibid.

Art. 53. " That a man is not bound to the Church, but only to the preaching."

Art. 64. " That no human constitutions or laws do bind any Christ'an man but
such as be in the Gospels, Paul's Epistles, or the New Testament, and that a man
may break them without any offence at all." — Ibid. 807.




conceived them to be worthy of censure, Fuller makes bold to
call them the Protestant^ religion in "oare;"" but as has been
remarked^, "unless we had found a richer vein, it may very

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 41 of 83)