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 9 of 83)
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cannot be maintained. First one discrepancy, then another
will creep in, each perhaps small at first, but by degrees
entailing increasing differences ; until these will multiply in
such numbers, and to such an extent, as to be subversive of all
order, and will finally produce the gravest difficulties, and so
end in confusions perhaps hopelessly irreparable.

But surely if "all things^'' should "be done ... in order,"
as S. Paul advises, then confusion is by all means and above
all things to be avoided in the Church of God. And on this
point the sweet and forcible language of F. Mason ^ is so ap-
plicable that there needs no apology for transcribing it. "The
whole fabric of the world," he says, " both the celestial orbs
and the globe of elements, are formed and upholden by order.
The fixed stars in their motions and revolutions keep a most
firm and fixed order. The planets, though compared with
the fixed stars they may seem to wander, yet in truth they
observe a most certain and never wandering order. The day
in opening and closing, the moon in waxing and waning, the
sea in ebbing and flowing, have their interchangeable course
wherein they continue in unchangeable order. The stork.

j Eccl. Pol.
vol. i. p. 256.

k 1 Cor. xiv.

1 F. Mason,
of Cli. in
making Ca-
nons, p. 11.



°> Jer. viii
7. & see Cic,
de Nat.

" Cant. iv.


" 1 Tim.iii


P Cant. vi.


m sup.


! Sum. i.

Ibid. 1.9.
Ibid. 20.

swallow, turtle, and crane "» know their appointed times, and
the cranes do also fly in order. The locusts have no king,
yet go they forth all of them by bands. The bees are little
creatures, yet are they great observers of order. Amongst
men in peace nothing can flourish, in wars nothing prosper,
without order. Order proceedeth from the throne of the
Almighty. It is the beauty of nature — the ornament of art —
the harmony of the world. Now shall all things bo in order,
and the Church of God only without order! God forbid.
The Church is ' a garden inclosed ",' and a garden must be in
order; 'the house" of God,' and God's house should be in
order ; an ' army p with banners,' and an army should be
marched in order."

XII. Their dis- ^^ ^^ ^^^ Want of such Order that in these our
use the cause of (Jays heavy troubles have afflicted our Church.

lamentable effects. '', -' ...... - , ,

Grievous scandals, divisions, and losses have
thence arisen. We have ourselves witnessed the lamentable
effects. Is it to be wondered at if we fear (should this want
of order continue to prevail) lest worse should follow I In
the case of many their hands have hung down, their knees
have waxed feeble, their hearts have failed for fear, while they
have beheld their spiritual mother " wailing 'i and wringing
her hands to see such distractions within her own bounds."
For some once warm and dutiful hearts have here proved
cold and disobedient ; some of her sons of brightest intellect
have shewn themselves unfaithful. Would this have been,
had all things within the household been set in order, as by
faithful servants watching for the sound of their returning
Master's footfall ?

In the case of those who abide stedfast and dutiful, sorrow
has "filled'^ their hearts" on account of "these things," for
they are bright and sharp weapons made ready to the hands
of our enemies. These scandals are published abroad ; and
while we in silence lament, as David weeping " over Saul* and
over Jonathan his son," that "the beauty* of Israel" is
dimmed and "the mighty" fallen," our deepest wounds are
proclaimed abroad — told "in Gath^" and published "in the
streets of Askelon ;" so that our enemies revile us all the day
long, "the daughters""" of the Philistines rejoice," and "the
daughters of the uncircumcised triumph." Such as have evil



will at Zion have not failed to hope that their cry, "Down
with it, down with it even to the ground ! " would be speedily
and surely realized. Meanwhile the godly have mourned,
fed with the bread of tears ; and moved with sad wonder that
the Lord's vineyard should be so rudely despoiled. But
while, in dutiful resignation to God's will, they have asked
with timid inquiry, "Why^ hast thou broken down her hedge,
that all they that go by pluck off her grapes?" they still
have been fain to add this hopeful prayer, " Turn thee ^
again, thou God of hosts : look down from heaven, behold,
and visit this vine." While tearfully bearing about these
heavy burdens they have ever remembered the Psalmist's
assurance, " He ^ that now goeth on his way weeping, and
beareth forth good seed, shall doubtless come again with joy,
and bring his sheaves with him." And they still look forward
with increasing confidence to that period when such trials
shall have passed away ; when the Church of God in this
land shall have recovered in all fulness her apostolic order ;
when peace shall have been restored within her borders ; and
when the grateful language of God's ransomed people of old
shall again be heard upon the lips of her faithful sons, "Then^
was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with


^ Ps. Ixxx.

y Ps. Ixxx.



» Kcimctt's
Ecd. Svn.
p. 199. ■




I. National synods the consequence of national territorial divisions. II. Peculiar
circumstances attaching in this respect to England. III. National synods held
in England previously to the Conquest. IV. National synods held in England
subsequently to the Conquest — 1. Some of these legatine. 2. But most of
them held under the authority of the Archbishops of Canterbury as heads of
the national Church. V. Form of holding a national synod in England.
VI. Four different courses have been pursued in England for securing the
authority of a national synod: — 1. By uniting the two provincial synods.

2. By transacting the same business simultaneously in the two pro\-inces.

3. By discussing the business first in the Synod of Canterbury, and then send-
ing drafts of the proceedings for the sanction of the Synod of York. 4. By
admitting proxies from the Synod of York to that of Canterbury. VII. The
question of the mode hereafter to be adopted for the same purpose a proper
subject for grave consideration. VIII. The subject of oecumenical synods not
within the scope of the present inquiry.

ElSoTtQ ovn ^i\iav iSiwraig jSijSatov yiyvo/ievrjv, ovt( KOivtiiviav TroXterij/ ig
ovSiv, ti fji)) {itT agiTriQ SoKouffrjg eg aWrjXovg yiyi'oivTo, Kal tuWu ofioio-
TpoTTOi tlti', ev yap rtf SiaWaaaovTi riig yi'ixifirjg, Kai at £ia(l>opai twv tpywv
KaOiaravTai. — Thucyd. lib. iii. c. 10.

" Sed omnes omnium caritates patria una complexa est." — Cic. de Off. lib. i.
c. 17.

I National s •- FROisithe grcat political changes consequent upon
nods the conse- the Separation of the Roman empire into eastern
ai territorial di- and westcm divisious, and from the dismember-
ment of the latter portion of it which speedily
ensued, great alterations passed upon the state of those parts
of the world in which Christianity was early planted. New
combinations of society arose, and the inhabitants of separate
countries * formed themselves into separate and independent




governments. Similarity of language, ties of kindred, iden-
tity of interest, the natural boundaries of mountains, rivers,
or seas, were all and each of them causes which tended to
unite the inhabitants of some districts in bonds of national
intercourse, and to separate them from the inhabitants of
other districts, with whom no such reasons for intimate union
existed. Hence that vast empire whose Csesars had swayed
the destinies of the civilized world, and whose eagles had car-
ried their terrors from the Caspian^ to the Atlantic, from
Numidia ^ to the north of Britain, was resolved by degrees
into independent governments, each ruled by its own laws,
adapted to its peculiar position and circumstances, and each
owning no other political jurisdiction than such as arose
within itself, and was established for the common good, and
for the maintenance of internal peace.

And as in every such kingdom or nation the power of
making and enforcing its own civil laws was exercised within
national limits, subject of course to those broad principles of
right and justice which are of universal obligation, and are
generally acknowledged among mankind ; so also within the
same boundaries the power of making ecclesiastical laws, of
equal extent with the limits of the body politic, was wont to be
asserted in national Churches, subject of course in like manner
to the general teaching of the Church Catholic, and confined
within such terms of truth as were generally received among
Christian men.

In the prosecution of this subject we have seen that in the
earliest ecclesiastical assemblies — the diocesan synods of the
primitive age — each bishop with his associated pi"esbyters
exercised all ecclesiastical discipline whatsoever ; this diocesan
power extending to the framing^ of liturgies, and the enacting
of canons, to be observed within the limits of its jurisdiction.
We have seen that such power was in course of time trans-
feri'ed to provincial st/nods, in which several dioceses were
represented, and in which by consequence a power of larger
extent was exercised. And so in like manner, after the division
of the empire into separate nations, this power was again in

' By Pompey's victories over kings of Armenia and Pontus.

^ " victorum nepotes

Retulit inferias Jugurthse." — Hor. Od. ii. 1. 28.

•> Bingliam,
Eccl. Ant.
book xvi.
c. 1 , sec. 1 3,




<= Kennett's
Eccl. Svn.

•1 Bingham,
Eccl. Ant.
book xvi.
c. 1, sec. 13.

f Bingham,
Eccl. Ant.
book xvi.
c. 1, sec. 13.

f IV. Cone.
Toled. can.

g Bingham,
Eccl. Ant.
book .xvi.
c. 1, sec. 13.

some instances still further extended, being confided to larger
assemblies — national synods — in which several provinces were
embraced, and in which the representatives of the whole
Church, existing within the limits of the body politic, united
to deliberate, and combined to give weight to such canons
as were there enacted. " And though •= w ithin this body
politic the single bishops might have synod ical meetings
in each diocese, and the several metropolitans might con-
vene synods within their larger jurisdiction, yet for the
more general interest of the whole nation .... the arch-
bishops and their distinct suffragans might all join in a
more comprehensive assembly to be then called a national

In proof of this assertion we have the fact recorded that
upon the occasion of Spain and Gallia Narbonensis being
united into one distinct kingdom this decree was made, "Thaf^
as there was but one faith, so there should be but one liturgy
or order of divine service throughout the whole kingdom.''''
Again, in the fourth Council of Toledo, a canon on this sub-
ject of uniformity in the national Church was made. As the
ancient canons had decreed^ that each province should observe
the same mode of chanting and administering divine offices,
so in this council it was decreed that "the same order of
prayer ^ and chanting should be maintained throughout all
Spain and Gaul — the same order in the administration of the
communion — the same order in the morning and evening
offices— so that among us who are united in one faith and
one^ kingdom no diversity of ecclesiastical usage may prevail."

Thus as nations of Christians became subject respectively
to the same political head, "and national Churches arose
from that distinction," it followed as a natural con.scquencc
that national uniformity should supersede provincial uni-
formity, and that the limits of ecclesiastical jurisdiction should
be enlarged, so as to 1)ccome co-extensive with those of the
bodies politic. It was highly convenient, as it was very natural
that those who traced their origin to the same source, who
were united not only by ties of kindred, similarity of language,
and identity of interests, but who lived under the same poli-

^ " Nee diversa sit ultra in nobis ecclesiastica consuetudo, qui in una fide
continemur et regno." — IV. Cone. Toled. can. 2.




ticalhead, enjoyed the same civil privileges, and acknowledged
the same civil obligations, should also unite in one uniform
mode of religious observance, and join in common acceptance
of the same code of ecclesiastical discipline. It was reasonably
to be expected that in each nation " the multitude^ of them
that believed" should, with one heart and one soul, seek to be
blended in the same spiritual polity, to enjoy in closer com-
munion the same heavenly blessings, and to render in common
a holy obedience to the same rules of Christian behaviour. To
secure these advantages certain provinces contained within
national limits were in process of time united more closely
than before "in rituals* and circumstantials of divine worship,
as well as faith and substantials; and from that time this also
became a necessary part of the union of national Churches, in
which all the bishops voluntarily combining, no one could
depart from that unity, without incurring the guilt of an
unnecessary breach of that union, which was so convenient for
cementing the several members of a national Church into one
II. Peculiar cir- From the iusular position of our native land

cumstances attach- .i ^• '>• c ■• I'j. • i i. r.

ing in this respect iho peculiarities ot nationality, as might be
to England. expectcd, liavo attached in an eminent degree

to our Church. One abiding peculiarity indeed may be traced
through many ages ; this peculiarity is, that ecclesiastical
and temporal laws have been very frequently made on the
same occasions, and at the same places. Not indeed that they
were made by the same persons — not that the law divine was
generally debated in lay assemblies — but the clergy of England
having been originally admitted as constituent members of the
" great civil councils" of the nation, and having through a
long space of time enjoyed that right, they always met to-
gether at stated periods, with the king and the other members
of the legislature, to enact the temporal laws. And when thus
assembled, the clergy took those opportunities of settling hy
themselves questions of an ecclesiastical character, frequently,
as was said, on the same occasions, and at the same places.
Having retired apart, they agreed on such rules as seemed
good for the Church, and then presenting the results of
their deliberations (binding in foro conscientiw by virtue of
their inherent authority) to the great council of the nation,

h Acts 1

i Bingbam,
Ant. book
xvi. c. 1,
sec. 13.




J Wake's
Auth. of
Princes, n

k Ibid. p.

1 Spclm.
Cone. i. 152.
™ Spelra.
Cone. i. 168.
n Cone.
Mag. Brit.

o 25 Hen.
VIII. e. 19.

that assembly usually added such civil sanctions as made
them to be binding in foro civili; in other words, to be-
come the law of the land. The "great councils" in the
Anglo-Saxon times consisted* of the king, the archbishops,
bishops, abbots, and others of the clergy, "andJ of the wise
men, great men, aldermen .... that is to say, of the chief
of the laity, indifferently called in those times by any or
all these last-mentioned names. In these assemblies they
deliberated both of civil and ecclesiastical affairs, and made
laws with the prince's consent and concurrence for the ordering
of both. . . . The bishops and clergy advised apart in matters
purely spiritual ; but the great men debated together with
them in civil and mixed affairs, and in which the interest of
the state was concerned as well as that of the Churcli.'' Thus
Athelstan, when " he published his ecclesiastical ^ laws, tells
us that he did it with the counsel of his bishops, but when
he came to his other constitutions we find, from their sub-
scription, that his noiles as well as hishojjs were present, and
that both assisted at the making of them."

In the English national Church, while bishops have held
their diocesan, and metropolitans their provincial synods ; yet
still more august assemblies have frequently been convened —
national si/nods — of larger jurisdiction and of wider influence
than either of the former. Sometimes indeed a pure eccle-
siastical " national synod," as in the case of the Synod of
Hertford', a.d. 673; of Hatfield'^, a.d. 680; and of Twi-
ford", A.D. 685, was called together independently of any
civil assembly; while both ecclesiastical synods and secular
councils were held at the same times — Christmas, Easter, and
Whitsuntide — and at the same places. Thus amid the very
foundations of the English Church and commonwealth we
find precedents for our convocations meeting "acourse with
our parliaments." It is clear, indeed, that during the early
ages of our history, and down to the year 1534, when the
Submission Act° was passed, our metropolitans could call
together their synods when they pleased, independently of
any meetings of the civil legislature, nor will any defence here
be set up for the restrictions imposed upon them in this

* For the precise constitution of the Wittena-gemotes, sec below, chapter vii.
sec. 2, § 2.




P Spelm.
Cone. i. 60.
q Vid. post,
c. V. sec. 9.

respect by that act. But over and above those occasions,
when synods were convened as need required by ecclesias-
tical authority, they appear also to have been generally held
whenever the temporal legislature assembled ; and should
any change in this respect be hereafter attempted, it will be
an aggression against that part of our present constitution,
in defence of which an appeal may be made to precedents
spreading over 1 890 years, i. e. as far back as to the mixed
Council of SnowdonP, a.d. 465, when the Britons "and the
clergy of the kingdom " being called ^ together, Aurelius was
made our king in the place of Vortigern.

III. National DuHug tlioso ages of our history which
Ei"id previous" ©lapsed before the Norman Conquest, many
ly to the Conquest, reasons existed to limit the number of the
national synods which were held in this country. Some
instances, however, are given below, but it must be observed,
that no assemblies are there mentioned but such as were pure
national spiods *. Many assemblies indeed of a national cha-
racter were held during the period in question, where both
ecclesiastical and civil business was transacted, the clergy
separating "■ from the laity when the law spiritual came into
question ; but these, as not exactly applicable to our present
purpose, are omitted ; and though this list may appear but
small considering the space of time over which the events
here recorded spread, yet it may be observed that during that
period the foreign invasions and intestine commotions, which
divided this country, forbid us to give to a lai'ger proportion of
its synods the designation of " national.''''









.. 664

/Spelm. Cone. i. 145—150.
I Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 37, note.


.. 673

Spelm. Cone. i. 152.

Hatfield ....

.. 680

Ibid. i. 168.

Twiford by river^ gg^
Alne J

Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 55.


.. 701

Spelm. Cone. i. 200.

Uncertain ...

.. 756

Ibid. i. 289.

Uncertain ...

.. 969

rSpelm. Cone. i. 479.
I Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 248 ad im.


.. 1041

Spelm. Cone. i. 570, and note, i. 534.

'■ Kennett's
Eccl. Syn.
p. 249.




» Cone. Mag.
Brit. vol. i.

*Conc. Mag.
Brit. vol. i.
p. 435.
Mag. Brit.
■ " P-


IV. National After the Conquest a more clearly defined

synods in Eng- . , . . ,

land subsequently Imc of demarcation between our ecclesiastical
onquest. ^^^ ^j^jj assemblies began to appear, K. Wil-
liam I. having separated^ the court of the bishop from that of
the earl or alderman ; for they had previously sat together as
executive authorities in the dispensation of justice. It followed
as a consequence little surprising, that in the legislative de-
partment also a more marked difference between the "eccle-
siastical"'"' and the "mixed councils"'"' (or "great councils,"'"' as
the latter were then called) began to arise, and by degrees
prevailed; for though the clergy*, i.e. archbishops, bishops,
abbots, and priors, at least (Joy Ecclesice^ rectores are once men-
tioned as summoned to a great council in 1299) were still consti-
tuent members of the "great civil councils," yet, as was said, a
more defined line was drawn, and continued to prevail be-
tween spiritual and civil assemblies; "ecclesiastical synods"'"'
being now more often held at times and places distinct from
the "great councils."'"' Hence "national synods""'"' became


Flare. Bate. Reference.


Windsor 1072

Winchester 1075

London 1 075

Winchester 107«

Gloucester 1085

Gloucester Uncertain

Lambetli 1 100

Westminster 1102

Westminster 1 126

Westminster 1127

London 1129

Westminster 1138

Winchester 113!)

Winchester 1 142

Winchester 11 43

London 1151

Westminster 117('

Uncertain 1 183

Windsor 1184

Ensham 1180

Pipcwcl), Northamptonshire . 1 189

S. Alban's 120G




J. Brit. vol. i. p. 324.
i. p. 3G9.


, 363.




368, 369.






382, 383.



408, and Wake's
Authority, ji. 7-




g. Brit. vol. i. p. 410.
. i. p. 411.





















492,and Hody,252.
g. Brit. vol. i.p. 514.





more frequent and were held as specified below. Traces
indeed of others may be found, but those assembhes only are
here included, which appear to fall unmistakably under that
designation. This statement, however, is made with a reserve
in one instance ; for the last assembly given below was
really a pretended national synod, since the convening of it
under papal authority, after the jurisdiction of the Pope had
been discharged by the sy nodical decisions of the Church of
England, must be held to have been an act of very unjust

1. Some of Now some of these national synods were
these legatine. convened Under legatine authority ; that is, by
such an authority as was boldly assumed and too readily
granted, even sometimes to foreigners claiming jurisdiction
here under the titles of " legates a latere "" from the Pope.
Such synods have been commonly denominated "legatine
synods." Those in the list below which deserve such a desig-
nation are specified in the note hereafter, with the names of the


Place. Date. Reference.

London m? /Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. i. p. C47, and

I CoU. Eccl. Hist. vol. ii. p. 478.

London 1 238 Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. i. p. 663.

London 1239 Ibid. vol. i. p. 6C3.

London 1240 Ibid. „ 681.

Oxford 1241 Ibid. „ 682.

London 12ri5 Ibid. „ 709.

London 1255 Ibid. „ 711.

Merton * 1258 Ibid. „ 736.

London t 1268 Ibid. vol. ii. 1.

London 1291 Ibid. „ 1»0.

Westminster 1294 Ibid. „ 201.

London 1312 Ibid. „ 421.

London 1408 Ibid. vol. iii. 306.

Westminster Abbey 1523 Ibid. „ 700.

rWake's State, p. 584, and Subscrip-

Records of the place lost ... . 1537 \ tions; Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. iii.

L p. 831.

Chapter-house, Westminster. 1540 Cone. Mag. Brit. vol. iii. p. 851.

King's Chapel, Westminster. 1555 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 131.

* To prove that the Synod of Merton was national, see Cone. Mag. Brit. i. 736
ad im. ; and 740 ad fin. cone.

t "The prelates of Scotland and Ireland were present at this synod." — Matt.
Par. apud Coll. Eccl. Hist. ii. 562.




* See chap.
ix. postea.

" Cone.

Mag. Brit.

vol. i. pp.

647. 709,


=« See chap.

ix. postea.

legates attached. Yet, though these last-mentioned national

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 9 of 83)