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 43 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 43 of 83)
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Cranmer. p.
24. Ilevlin-s
Ref. p.' 20.
Att. Rights,
p. 183.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 845.
A.D. 1.539.
P Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 8.50.
q 15,39.
>■ Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, ]). 72.

suiting on the affairs of religion." Burnet ^ and ^^'ake*' both
speak of this book as having been the work of convocation.
Furthermore, the preface to the book itself is called the
" Convocation's preface' to their book, entituled, the Godly
and Pious Institution of a Christian Man," and this document
runs in the name of " Thomas J, archbi-shop of Canturbury,
Edward, archbishop of Yorke, and all other the bishop.s,
prelates, and archdeacons of this realme." To which it may
be added, that in this preface they take occasion to remind
the king, when offering their book to be printed, that without
his power and licence "we have none authority eyther to
assemble ourselves together for any pretence or purpose, or
to publishe any thing that might be by us agreed upon and
compyled." This is a convincing proof that the as.sembly
using such expressions considered itself a duly constituted
and authoritative synod, having regard to the terms of the
late Submission Act, the provisions of which referred only to
such a body.

After the convocational business connected with this re-
markable book was completed, leave for the bishops to depart
to their respective homes was obtained, as the plague was now ^
raging in Lambeth, and the people were dying even at the
palace doors. Cranmer retired to his house at Ford, near
Canterbury. But the book was delivered to Cromwell, who
placed it in the king's hands.

Before taking leave of the year 1.537, it may be remarked
that in this year the translation of the scriptures called
" Matthews'" Bible," printed by Grafton, was ' completed and
delivered into Archbi.shop Cranmer's hands'", in August, at
his residence at Ford. Tt will be remembered, that the trans-
lation of the scriptures had been recommended by the Canter-
bury Convocation three .years before, in their session held "
December 19, 1584.

Thus some further advances were made towards a true re-
formation, under legitimate synodical authority.
VIII. A.D. 1539, The Convocations of Canterbury ° and York p
Ankiel;'3"lHcn' "^^t in thc year 1 .",39 i simultaneously on the 2nd
ry viii. .-. 14. of ^M^y. The king had become displeased ' with
Archbishop Cranmer and some of the bishops of the reform-
ing party, because they had resisted propositions in parliament,




which suggested that all the monasteries should be suppressed
solely for his majesty's enrichment. They assented so far, as
that the king should reclaim what his ancestors had bestowed
upon religious foundations ; and this was a concession not unex-
ceptionable : but they thought that the residue at least, even if
it had been misapplied, should be now devoted to some * pious
uses. It is believed, on account of their incompliance on this
head, that the king prevailed with his parliament in this year to
make the " terrible bloody act of the six articles '," which im-
posed some of the most offensive doctrines and usages of the
Roman Church, under the most fearful penalties for non-com-
pliance ; death by burning, and forfeiture " of all possessions
to the king's use, being some of the punishments awarded.
This was certainly reforming backwards. But the king's
principles, with all reasonable regard to his memory, appear to
have been of the most changeable character. He hanged three
Romanists ' at Smithfield for denying his supremacy, and, at
the same time and place burnt three reformers ^ by virtue of
the act before mentioned ' ; no unity appears in his proceed-
ings, except in those which appropriated the goods of others
to his own use. If his faith had been as firm and uncompro-
mising as his determination to furnish his exchequer and fill
the privy purse, his whole character would have had a clearer
complexion, and his conduct would not have carried upon it
so plain a face of interest. But he was apt to do and undo,
to make and unmake in such sort, as to lead to the belief that
no lasting object was consistently proposed by him, except to
" make a gain of godliness." It must be confessed that his
proceedings, in spiritual matters, have all the appearance of
the fickleness of a child :

" . . . . as'' when ashore an infant stands,
And draws imagined houses in the sands,
The sportive wanton, pleased with some new play,
Sweeps the shght works and fashioned domes away "'."

And if his pubhc and private misdeeds could all be set
down to childish impertinence, if no deeper motives of avarice

1 Three Romanists, Ed. Powell, Thos. Abley, Rich. Fetherston.

2 Three reformers, Robt. Burns, D.D.,Thos. Gerard, B.D., Will. Jerom, B.D.

3 .... we OTS Tig \fjafia6ov Tvaig dyxi QaXaaar]Q,
out' iirtl ovv TTOiriay aOvpfiara vrfiniyaiv,

"Avp avTig avvfx^vf nofflv koi x^P'^'^ aQvpwv. — Horn. II. xv. 362-4.

A. D. 1539.
K. Henry

s Strype's
Mem. Cran-

t 31 Hen.
vni. c. 14.

" 31 He

s. 1.

V Fuller,
Ch. Hist,
b. 5, p. 235.

" Pope's
Homer, II.
XV. 416—




A.D. 1539.







y Coll.


' Strypo's
Mem. Cran-

" Strype's
Mem. Cian-
mer, p. 73.

l> Coll.

' Coll. V.

or lust prompted them, much injustice has been done to his

On the third day after the meeting of the two con-
vocations, the lord chancellor acquainted the upper house*
of parliament, that the king, being anxious to set at rest con-
troversies connected with religion, had desired him to move
that a committee of the lords should be appointed for examin-
ing differences of opinion and making a report. The com-
mittee was appointed, but as the members were divided in
their views, no good result ensued ; the Archbishop of Canter-
bury, the Bishops of Ely and Worcester, togetlier with Crom-
well, favouring opinions which were not palatable to the re-
mainder of the committee, viz., the Archbishop of York, the
Bishops of Durham, Bangor, ]?atli and Wells, and Carlisle.

As the committee made no progress, the Duke of Norfolk
being desirous that the matter should be treated of by the
whole house, submitted six articles, with a request that, after
examination, they might be passed ^ into an act. Archbishop
Cranmer argued, with much vehemence and learning, against
them ; and as he was himself a married ^ man, the third article,
which enforced celibacy on the clergy, may be justly supposed
to have called forth all his powers of eloquence, and the king^
had such opinion of Cranmer's learning, that he sent for a copy
of his arguments. On the same side with Cranmer were the
Bishops of Ely, Sarum, Worcester, Rochester, and S. David's;
against him were the Archbishop of York, and the Bishops of
Durham, Winton, and Carlisle. The king argued himself on
the latter side, and the lay lords of parliament seemed unani-
mous for the bill ; the " pliant "" Audlcy and Cromwell, as
usual, taking part with their royal master. On the thirtieth^
of INIay, Lord Chancellor Audley moved the lords, that this
business .should be brought to an issue, and in consequence of
his urgency two committees were appointed. Each were to
draw their own bill, and a choice between the two was to be
made by the king. The first "= committee was composed of
Archbishop Cranmer, the Bishops of Ely and S. David's, as-
sisted by Dr. Petre. The second committee consisted of the
Archbishop of York, the liishops of Durham and Winchester,
assisted by Dr. Tregonnel. But as the business touched mat-
tors (jf faith and ecclesiastical discipline, it was thought right to




consult the convocation, before the bill selected should be passed
into an act. For the time had not then arrived when the dis-
tinctive functions of synods and parliaments were so hope-
lessly confused as has been the case in later times.

Canterburypro- On the 2nd of June, therefore, certain ques-
vincial synod. tious ^ bearing on the matter in hand were
sent down to the Canterbury Convocation. They were laid
before the whole assembly, and delivered by Cromwell into
the hands of the prolocutor, with a request that answers to
the several inquiries should be returned on the following

The questions submitted by parliament to the convocation
were as follow : —

1 . Whether there be in the sacrament of the altar transub-
stantiation of the substance of bread and wine into the
substance of flesh and blood, or not ?

2. Whether priests being ordered may, after they be
priests, marry by the law of God, or not ?

S. Whether the vow of chastity of men and women, made
only to God, bindeth by the law of God, or not I

4. Whether auricular confession be necessary by the law of
God, or not ?

5. Whether private masses may stand by the law of God,
or not ?

6. Whether it be necessary by the word of God that the
sacrament of the altar should be ministered in both kinds, or

To these specific questions the convocation returned
answers ® which were in accordance with Romish doctrine.

In answer to the first, they assert unmistakeably the grave
error of transubstantiation.

As to the second, they forbid the marriage of priests.

As to the third, they insist on the obligation of monastic

As to the fourth, they say that "auricular confession is
expedient and necessary to be retained, and" continued, used,
and frequented in the Church of God.

As to the fifth, they urge the necessity of private masses
being maintained in the English Church.

And as to the sixth, they permit half communion.

A.D. 1539.
K. Henry

<^ Cone.
Miig. Brit,
iii. 845.

^ Cone.
Mac.'. Brit.
iii. '845, 846.




A.D. 1539.







e June 10.
h Coll. V.

' Hume,
chap, xxxii.
p. 335.
J 31 Hen.
Vni. c. 14,

^ lliid. sec.


' Ibid. sec.


"' Ibid. sec.

n Ibid. sec.


o Ibid. sec.


P Ibid. sec.


n Hume,

chap, xxxii.

p. 336.

"■ Strype's

Mem. Cran-

mer, j>. 73.

» Hume,

chap, xxxii.

p. 337.

' Soutliey's
Book of the
C'h. vol. ii.
p. 85.

Its cruel pro

, , On the 7th ^ of June the draft of the bill

Statute of the

Six Articles pass- wliich had been prepared by the Archbishop of
York and the committee joined with him was
brouoht into the House of Lords ; and its contents being
fortified by the answers received from the convocation, it was
read the first time. With such dispatch was this business
hurried on, that three days^ afterwards*' the'bill was engrossed
and read the third time. In the commons no difficulty was
interposed, for on the 14th of the same month it went through
that house, was remitted to the lords, received the king''s sign
manual on the 28th, and so passed into the act 3i Hen. VIII.
c. 14.

The provisions of this "bloody bill'''" were
of the most unheard-of severity. A denial of
the first article, relating to transubstantiation, subjected J the
offender to death by burning and a forfeiture of goods, as in
case of high treason. A denial of any of the other five, which
maintained half-communion ^, celibacy of the priesthood ', per-
petuity of monastic vows'", private masses", and auricular
confession ", was punishable with death p and forfeiture, as in
cases of felony. The king when framing this law meditated
rough treatment both for reformers and Romanists i ; but
the reformers suffered most lamentably. Cranmer, who had
married Osiander's niece, was obliged to remit her to her
friends at Nuremburg. Latimer, bishop of Worcester, and
Shaxton, bishop of Sarum, were con\pelled "■ to throw up their
bishoprics, and changed their palaces for a prison. No less
than five hundred^ persons of slenderer figure and fortune
were incarcerated. As some of the courtiers, however, to-
gether with Archbishop Cranmer, remon.strated against the
extreme cruelty which would attend the full execution of the
statute, these prisoners were afterwards set at liberty, and the
"bloody act" slept for a season. Ihit it was shortly after re-
vived in all its horrors. K. Henry VITI. under its provi-
sions worked destruction to the reformers ; while, on the other
hand, he put to death Romanists for denying his supremacy.
Both* were dragged on the same hurdle to Smithfield,
and perished together. And so our king made use of the
acts of his servile legi.«lature to prove to all men by the
bitterest examples that he would permit none to differ with




impunity from the uncertain standards of faith and doctrine
which were acceptable to his own capricious will.

This terrible act, 31 K. Henry VIII. c. 14, was quali-
fied by 35 K. Henry VIII. c. 5, and happily repealed by
1 K. Edward VI. c. 12, s. 3. Perhaps no greater blot ever
appeared on the English Statute Book.

After the six questions before referred to had been pro-
posed to the Canterbury Convocation on the 2nd of June,
that assembly held six sessions, and on the 1st" of July was
^^ ^ ^ The Canterbury Convocation met again on

IX. Canterbury *' °

provincial synod the 4th of November (]539). The Romanist
party having, as they hoped, gained a step by
i the enactment of the statute' of the six articles, endeavoured
to push their advantage by obtaining the sanction of convoca-
tion to a book entitled " Ceremonies to be used hj tJie Church
of England.'''' The whole tendency '" of this production was to
favour the superstitious usages of the Roman Church. The
topics on which it dwelt were these: churches'^ and church-
yards ; baptism ; the ordering of ministers ; divine service ;
matins, prime, and other hours ; ceremonies used in the mass ;
Sundays, with other feasts ; bells ; vesture and tonsure of
ministers, and what service they be bound unto ; bearing
candles upon Candlemas day ; fasting days ; the giving of
ashes ; the covering of the cross and images in Lent ; bearing
of palms ; the service of Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
before Easter ; the hallowing of the oil and chrism ; the
washing of the altars ; the hallowing of the font upon Satur-
day in the Easter even ; the ceremonies of the resurrection in
Easter morning ; general and other particular processions ;
benedictions of bells or priests ; holy water and holy bread ;
a general doctrine to what intent ceremonies be ordained, and
of what value they be ^. According to Strype's behef it was in
this convocation^, which began sitting November 4, 1539,
that these subjects were reduced into eighty-eight articles.
Archbishop Cranraer argued strenuously against their adop-
tion, and confuted the doctrines contained in them, " which ^^
were laboured to be received, but were not."

This convocation was continued to the 16th of January,
1540 N.S., and then prorogued.

A.D. 1539.
K. Henry

" Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 840'.

' 31 Hen.
Vlll. e. 14.

" Strype's
Mem. Cran-
raer, p. 74.

'' Strype's
Mem. Cran-
uier, p. 74.

.' Strype's
Mem. Cran-
nier, p. 74,
Citing Cott.

Cleopat. E.
5, p. 259.
^ Strj'pe's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 75.
^ Strype's
Mem. Cran-
mer, p. 75.



A.D. 1540.






a Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 846.
b Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. p. 850.
c Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 850.
<> Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 851.

e Coll. V.

X. A.D. 1540. On the 14tli^ of April, 1540, the Canterbury
National synod. provincial synocl met at S. PauFs, London. In
the first'' session Mr. Gwent, archdeacon of London, was
elected prolocutor, and in the second was duly presented for
confirmation. In the two next*^ sessions questions of subsidy
were arranged. And then, by the admission of the Archbishop '^
of York, the Bishops of Carlisle and Durham, the Archdeacons
of ^'ork, the East-riding, (Cleveland, Northumberland, and
Carlisle, together with a large number of the northern * proc-
tors, this convocation was converted into a national synod.
The object of calling this full ecclesiastical assembly was to
have questions discussed and evidence produced relative to
the proposed divorce between K. Henry VIIL and Anne of
Cleves, in order to a final settlement of that matter.

A digie^sion— ^^^' ^^^® *^"® Understanding of this business
Contract of miir- we must rcccdc a few paces. Cromwell, per-

nage between K. ,, i-. it i/^i

Henry viii. and ceivuig his mtcrcst at court dechne, and find-
ing that of his opponents in the ascendant,
imagined that, if he could arrange a matrimonial connexion
between his royal master and some of the princes of Germany,
lost ground might be recovered; for the minister's observation
had led him to believe that the king was somewhat swayed by
the influence of his queens. He therefore urged a treaty with
Duke AV'illiam, the brother of Anne of Cleves, for an alliance
between that lady and the king. Her portrait, drawn by
Hans Holbein, was sent over for the king's inspection, and his
approval of the original. But that renowned painter took
leave, as is not unusual with the popular members of his pro-
fession, to improve on his subject. The king misliking neither
the portrait nor the alliance concluded the match, and the be-
trothed lady arrived in England •* with a splendid equipage. On
the occasion of a meeting at Rochester the difference between
the representation of the lady's person and the real life dis-
appointed his majesty ; but nevertheless he concealed his
feelings, and treated her with sufficient propriety. As the
business had proceeded so far, he thought it too late to dis-
entangle himself by any rough measure, but still a circum-
stance existed which for a time brought matters to a stand :

" Necnon clero utriusque provincite in frequcnti admodum muititudinc." —
Cone. Mag. Brit. iii. 851.




for a pre-contract of marriage existed between ^ Anne of Cleves
and the Duke of Lorraine's son. After some delay, however,
the Duke of Cleves' commissioners = undertook to procure a
formal discharge of this previous instrument, and a declara-
tion of release was also made by the lady. Under these cir-
cumstances the king told Cromwell that there was no room
for evasion, and that he must now of necessity " put ^ his neck
in the yoke." The next day the royal nuptials were cele-
brated at Greenwich ; and the king at that time resolved to
cement a confederacy with the German princes, provided
that a satisfactory agreement on the subject of religion could
be arranged. But as the queen's person and language — for
she spoke nothing but Dutch — were distasteful and strange to
his majesty, and moreover as she had no skill in music, an ac-
complishment valued by her husband, he appears to have found
no engagement in her society. In addition to this, the pro-
mised instrument for annulling the pre-contract was either
not now produced or unsatisfactory. The king therefore
determined to part with the queen, and with Cromwell also,
who had promoted the marriage. Cromwell was arrested ' at
the council table, attainted of high treason, convicted, and ex-
ecuted^ on Tower Hill, July 28, 1540. The proceedings against
this man, by the way, " were thought extremity '^ of justice, to
speak softly ;" but it may be remarked, that in the severities
which the government inflicted on others, he had not himself
exercised any remarkable strains of compassion. As an am-
bassador to the Duke of Cleves, John Clarke, Bishop of Bath
and Wells, was sent to say that the instrument for annulling
the pre-contract between Anne of Cleves and the Duke of
Lorraine's son was deemed insufficient, and that the king-
had determined to dissolve his marriage. The Duke of Suf-
folk also waited on the queen at Richmond to acquaint her with
her husband's resolution, and persuaded her to comply with
the terms he proposed — which were "first', to refer the
matter of the pre-contract to the decision of the English
clergy ; secondly, to drop her title of queen, and take that of
the king's adopted sister."

The question of To the national synod, constituted as before de-
Ieferrer"tr''"the tailed, the qucstiou above mentioned was referred.
national synod. For tliis purpose the assembly met at the chapter -

A.D. 1540.
K. Henry

f Coll. V. 57.
S Jan. 16,
1540 N.s.

1' Coll.

i Coll.

J Bio^raph,

Diet, in


k Coll. V.


I Coll. '
63, 64.




A.D. 1540.






™ Cone.
Mag. Brit.
iii. 851.
" Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 851. &
supra, p.3!)8.
° Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 851.
P Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 851.
t Cone.
Mag. Brit,
iii. 851.
*■ Cone.
Mae. Brit,
iii. '851.

« See Att.
Rights, p.

« Att.
Rights, p.

" Att.
Rights, p.

> 25 Hen.
Vlll. c. 19.

" 25 Hen.
vni. c. J 9,

house*", We.stniinster, on the 7th of July (lo40). The synod
was fully attended both by members of the nortliern and
southern" provinces. Archbishop Cranmer detailed the object °
of the meeting; and INIr. Gwent, the Canterbury prolocutor,
exhibited p the royal letters calling upon the synod to proceed
in the matter of the divorce. Gardiner, bishop of Win-
chester, in a lucid speech laid before ^ the assembly the causes
which, as he maintained, discharged the obligation of the
king's nuptials. A committee '^, consisting of the two arch-
bishops, the Bishops of London, Durham, A\'inchester, and
Worcester, together with j\Ir. Gwent, Drs. Thirlby, Incent,
Leighton, Robertson, Layton, Ryvet, and Thomas Magnus,
archdeacon of the East-riding, were appointed by common
consent to examine witnesses and receive evidence. The
labours of this committee were ultimately to be referred to
the judgment of the whole assembly.

A digression— And here it may be remarked by the way,
ment* of commU- ^^^^^ ^^^^^ practice ^ of appointing select corn-
tees by svnods. mittees by our synods or convocations was a
very common one at this period, and that what was done by
such committees so approved or appointed, must be reckoned
to bear upon it the stamp at least of synodical authority. It
must be remembered that for the transaction of practical busi-
ness large assemblies are ill qualified. Abstruse points must
be examined in more retired situations, and documents involv-
ing nice distinctions must be prepared in less crowded company.
One of the admitted forms of proceeding by the canon law * in
elections was by delegating the authority of the whole body
(" per viam compromissi ") to a few, whose decisions concluded
all. And, indeed, in the proceedings of the imperial legisla-
ture instances arc not wanting of such managements. In the
reign of K. Henry YL^^ lords and members of the king's
council had delegated authority for settling bills ; and in this
very reign before us, and by an act previously considered \
the authority of the three estates for the reformation of the
canon law and the commutation of the same into statute law
was confided ''■ to a committee of thirty-two persons, whose
decisions were to have, with the king's assent, statutable
force without any further recourse to parliament. It is,
therefore, no cause for wonder if the convocations of the




Proceedings of
a committee of wif;li
the synod in re-
ference to the con-
tract between K.
Henry VIII. and
Anne of Cleves.

clergy at this time had recourse to the same modes of procedure,
having such ilhistrious examples before their eyes. And thus
many acts connected with ecclesiastical proceedings of this
age were arranged by committees of divines ; and when these
were appointed with full powers by the authority of convoca-
tion, it is unjust to deny to their labours the weight of
synodical authority.

But to return to the proceedings connected
the divorce. After the committee had
been appointed the lower clergy retired from
the chapter-house, with the exception of those
members who had been associated with the
archbishops and bishops aforesaid to receive evidence. The
assembly then remaining appointed a sub-committee consist-
ing of five persons only, viz. the Bishops of Durham and
Winchester, Mr. Gwent, Thirlby^, archdeacon of Ely and
elect of Westminster, with Leighton, dean of York. These
were empowered, in the name of the whole synod, to impose ^
oaths, to examine witnesses, and to reduce their evidence to

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 43 of 83)