1902 Encyclopedia > Convocation


CONVOCATION, an assembly of the spirituality of the realm of England, which is summoned by the metro-politan archbishops of Canterbury and of York respectively., within their ecclesiastical provinces, pursuant to a royal writ, whenever the Parliament of the realm is summoned, and which is also continued or discharged, as the case may be, whenever the Parliament is prorogued or dissolved. Oonstitu- r-T'lls assembly of the spirituality, which is at present sum-tion and moned only in pursuance of a writ from the Crown, differs purpose. ja ;tg constitution and in the purport for which it is summoned from an ordinary provincial council, such as the two metropolitan archbishops of England have also been in the habit of summoning from time to time ; for whereas the ordinary provincial councils of the metropolitans have comprised only the bishops of their respective provinces, with whom, however, the deans and the abbots and other governing dignitaries of the church have been on occasions associated, the Convocations of the two provinces have always comprised a definite number of representatives of the clergy of the chapters and of the beneficed clergy of the several dioceses. Further, whereas the purport of an ordinary provincial council is to cousult on matters which concern the faith or the peace of the church as a religious body, the Convocations are called together to treat of matters which concern the Crown, and the security and defence of the Church of England, and the tranquillity, public good, and defence of the realm itself. All these subjects are specified as probable matters for deliberation in the royal writs, under which the archbishops are commanded to call together their respective Convocations. These assemblies would thus appear to be integral parts of the body politic of the realm of England; but when and how they originated, and when and how they became so incorporated in it is not historically clear. This much is known from authentic records, that the present constitution of the Convocation of the prelates and clergy of the province of Canterbury was recognized as early as in the eleventh year of the reign of Edward I. (1283) as its normal constitution; and that in extorting that recognition from the Crown, which the clergy accomplished by refusing to attend unless summoned in lawful manner (debito modo) through their metropolitan, the clergy of the province of Canterbury taught the laity the possibility of maintaining the freedom of the nation against the encroachments of the royal power. It had been a provision of the Anglo-Saxon period, the origin of which is generally referred to the Council of Cloveshoo (747), that the possessions of the church should be exempt from taxation by the secular power, and that it should be left to the benevolence of the clergy to grant such subsidies to the Crown from the endowments of their churches as they should agree to in their own assemblies. It may be inferred, however, from the language of the various writs issued by the Crown for the collection of the " aids " voted by the Commune Concilium of the realm in the reign of Henry III., that the clergy were unable to maintain the exemption of church property from being taxed to those " aids " during that king's reign ; and it was not until some years had elapsed of the reign of Edward I. that the spirituality succeeded in vindicating their constitutional privilege of voting in their own assemblies their free gifts or " benevolences," and in insisting on the Crown observing the lawful form of convoking those assemblies through the metropolitan of each province.
The form of the royal writ, which it is customary to is-sue in the present day to the metropolitan of each province, is identical in its purport with the writ issued by the Crown in 1283 to the metropolitan of the province of Canterbury, after the clergy of that province had refused to meet at Northampton in the previous year, because they had not been summoned in lawful manner; whilst the mandates issued by the metropolitans in pursuance of the royal writs, and the citations issued by the bishops in pursuance of the mandates of their respective metropolitans, are identical in their purport and form with those used in summoning the Convocation of 1283, which met at the New Temple in the city of London, and voted a " benevol-ence " to the Crown, as having been convoked in lawful manner. The existing constitution of the convocation of Ccmstita. the province of Canterbury—and the same observation will than that apply to that of the province of York—in respect of its of parlia-comprising representatives of the chapters and of the ment-beneficed clergy, in addition to the bishops and other dignitaries of the church, would thus appear to be of even more ancient date than the existing constitution of the Parliament of the realm; for the council of the realm, to which representatives of the counties and of the boroughs were for the first time summoned to the same place with the barons, to meet the king at Shrewsbury in the same year (1283) in which the Convocation of the province of Canterbury was summoned to the New Temple, differed in several important particulars from the Parliament of the realm, as at present constituted, although it is sometimes styled the Parliament of Shrewsbury, or of Acton Burnell. It was, in fact, an extraordinary council, to which the prelates, who were a constituent part of the Commune Concilium of the realm, were not summoned, its object being to try David, the brother of Llewelyn, prince of Wales, who had surrendered himself a prisoner, on a charge of high treason against the Crown of England. The barons alone appear to have tried and condemned the prisoner, as far as may be inferred from the language of the annalists, although the commons may have been allowed a consultative voice. At all events the commons agreed with the barons in voting an " aid " of a thirtieth to support the king's expedition into Wales, and the issuing of the ordinance known as the " Statutum de Mercatoribus " concluded the business for which the council was summoned. The settled constitu-tion of Parliament as it exists in the present day was not completed until 1295 (23 Edward I.), when the repre-sentatives of the commons were summoned to the same place with the barons, and the clergy as a body were also convened with the laity, under a novel clause known as the "premunientes" clause, which was inserted in the writs issued by the Crown directly to the bishops.
From this period down to the eleventh year of the reign Contest of Edward III. there were continual contests between the beí™een spirituality of the realm and the Crown,—the spirituality and'crown. contending for their constitutional right to vote their subsidies in their provincial Convocations; the Crown, on the other hand, insisting on the immediate attendance of the clergy in Parliament. The resistance of the clergy to the innovation of the " premunientes " clause had so far prevailed in the reign of Edward II. that the Crown con-sented to summon the clergy to Parliament through their metropolitans, and a special form of provincial writ was for that purpose framed; but the clergy protested against this writ, and the struggle was maintained between the spirituality and the Crown until 1337 (11 Edward III.), when the Crown reverted to the ancient practice of com-manding the metropolitans to call together their clergy in their provincial assemblies, where their subsidies were voted in the manner as accustomed before the " premunientes " clause was introduced. The " premunientes " clause, how-ever, was continued in the Parliamentary writs issued to the several bishops of both provinces, whilst the bishops were permitted to neglect at their pleasure the execution of the Tne , writs. It is a moot question, in which of the two Houses place^in °f Parliament the representatives of the chapters and of the parliament, beneficed clergy sat, when summoned to Parliament, and whether they had a deliberative vote, or only a consultative voice. According to the "Modus tenendi Parliamentum " the proctors of the clergy sat and voted in the Lower House of Parliament. But the authority of that treatise has been impugned by many writers, because the introduc-tory paragraph announces it to be a description of the manner of holding a Parliament in the time of King Edward, the son of Ethelred, and of William the Conqueror and his successors. The treatise itself, however, is not a mere imposture, as Dr Hody has contended in his History of English Councils and Convocations. It is found in several MSS. of the 14th century, and the Parliamentary writs and records of the reign of Edward II. warrant us in re-garding it as a treatise framed after the actual constitution of Parliament in the reign of that king. This treatise contains a chapter entitled " De Auxilio Regi," in which it is explicitly stated that the proctors of the clergy sat in the Lower House, and voted as members of the Commons on all questions which required the consent of Parliament. "Ideo oportet, quod omnia qua? affirmari vel infirmari, concedi vel negari, vel fieri debent per Parliamentum, per communitatem Parliamenti concedi debent, quae est ex tribus gradibus sive generibus Parliamenti, scilicet ex procuratoribus cleri, militibus comitatuum, civibus et burgensibus, qui repraesentant totam communitatem ; et non de magnatibus, quia quilibet eorum est pro sua propria persona ad Parliamentum, et pro nulla alia." This view is borne out by the language of the petition of the Lower House itself in the Convocation of 1547 (1 Edward VI.), that " according to the ancient custom of this realm and the tenor of the king's writs for the summoning of the Parliament, which be now, and ever have been, directed to the bishops of every diocese, the clergy of the Lower House of Convocation may be adjoined and associated with the Lower House of Parliament" (Cardwell's Synodalia, p. 421). The weight of evidence would thus seem to be in favour of the view that the proctors of the clergy, when summoned to Parliament under the " praemunientes" clause, sat and voted in the Lower House of Parliament, which is not altogether irreconcilable with the statement in Lord Coke's Fourth Institute, that the proctors of the clergy never had a voice in Parliament, " because they were no lords of Parliament." The reason alleged in this passage of the Fourth Institute is clearly inadequate as regards the Lower House, inasmuch as the magnates were excluded from it; but if the compiler of the Fourth Institute had in view the Upper House he is justified in saying that the proctors of the clergy did not vote in that House. OGnvoca- It has been matter of controversy between divines and th°mm°re lawyers! whether the Convocations of the two provinces are provincial properly to be regarded as high courts of the spirituality council of the realm of England, or as ecclesiastical councils of their respective metropolitans. The divines prefer to regard them as provincial councils, although perhaps in so doing they unconsciously depreciate them. It may be admitted that there is nothing in the constitution of either Convocation which is inconsistent with its being a provincial council sui generis, as the constituent elements of provincial councils vary indefinitely according to the custom of different national churches,—for instance the parochial clergy, whose presence by their representatives is a remark-able feature of the Convocation of the two provinces, have been allowed to appear by their representatives in more than one provincial council of the ancient Gallican Church ; but the Convocations of the province of Canterbury and of York, as summoned in pursuance of a royal writ, are assuredly something more than ecclesiastical councils of their respective metropolitans. There is the high authority of Lord Coke for regarding the Convocations of the two provinces as courts of the spirituality, and the Upper House of Convocation is by statute (24 Henry VIII. ch. 12) con-stituted the high court of appeal in matters in which the Crown is a party in any cause before an ecclesiastical court. Perhaps the true solution of the controversy will be found in distinguishing' the LTpper House of Convocation from the Lower House, and just as the Upper House of Parliament is the High Court of Parliament which exercises the judicial functions of the Parliament, so the Upper House of Convocation is the High Court of Convocation^ the Lower House having the right to make presentments to the Upper House in like manner as the Lower House of Parliament has the right to prefer impeachments before the Upper House of Parliament, but not to take part in adjudicating upon them. There is, indeed, an instance on record of a kind of cumulative vote of the Lower House of Convocation in 1640, when it added its voice to that of the Upper House in suspending a member of the Upper House (the bishop of Gloucester) from his office and benefice; but this was rather a question touching the privileges of the two Houses in a business which they con-sidered to have brought scandal on the proceedings of the Convocation, the bishop of Gloucester having refused to conform himself to a resolution of both Houses in a matter of subscription to certain new canons. This, however, is not a precedent of a safe period. There is, indeed, another point of view from which the Convocation appears to have all the attributes of a high court of the metropolitan, inas-much as the metropolitan, when he presides, or his com-missary in the absence of the metropolitan, has the Authority coercive power of an ecclesiastical judge in respect of the "[J^j JJ. members of the Convocation : he directs absolutely the tan. course of business ; he may pronounce the members con-tumacious and punish their contumacy by suspension from office, or by sequestration of benefice, and at his pleasure may remit the penalties, and upon submission absolve the offender. He may further suspend the sittings of Convoca-tion when he sees fit, and may continue them to such timei as he thinks proper; and a schedule, or written sentence of continuation and prorogation at the termination of each session, is signed by the archbishop or his commissary, in which be is described as " judicially sitting." A curious argument has been raised in modern times upon the wording of certain ancient schedules in which it is recited that the archbishop has continued and prorogued the Con-vocation to acertain day "cumconsensu confratrumsuorum." It has been contended that these recitals are not consistent with the claim of the metropolitan to prorogue the Convoca-tion at his pleasure. But this argument is founded on a total misconception of the object of these recitals, which was to save the legal right of the metropolitan to pronounce the bishops and clergy contumacious, if they should not attend on the day to which the Convocation was continued. Of strict right the members of Convocation were not liable to be pronounced in contempt, unless they had been cited in lawful manner to attend upon the archbishop on a given day; but if they were consenting parties to the continuation of the sittings of the Convocation to a future day, and their consent was recorded in the instrument of continuation, which is read aloud before it is signed by the metropolitan, they would thereby be perempted of all excuse for non-attendance on the plea that they had not been duly cited. Such we conceive to be the true meaning of this clause, which is rarely found in the older schedules, but occurs frequently in the schedules of the most turbulent period of the history of Convocation, namely, during the reign of Queen Anne. It was probably inserted in those schedules, ex majori cautela, after an ancient precedent with which the registrar of the Convocation was familiar. This much, however, is certain, that the phrase does not occur in any schedule of prorogation, which is not also a schedule of continuation of the sittings of Convocation to a further day. Five eha- The history of the Convocation of the province of raeteristic Canterbury, as at present constituted, is full of stirring peno- s. incidents, and it resolves itself readily into five periods.
The first period, by which is meant the first period which
dates from an epoch of authentic history, is the period of
its greatest freedom, but not of its greatest activity. It ex-
tends from the reign of Edward I. (1283) to that of Henry
VIII. The second period is the period of its greatest
activity and of its greatest usefulness, and it extends from
the twenty-fifth year of the reign of Henry VIII. to the
reign of Charles II. The third period extends from the
fifteenth year of the reign of Charles II. (1664) to the
reign of George I. This was a period of turbulent
activity and little usefulness, and the anarchy of the Lower
House of Convocation during this period has created a
strong prejudice against the revival of Convocation in
the mind of the laity. The fourth period extends from
the third year of the reign of George I. (1716) to the
fifteenth year of the reign of Queen Victoria. This was a
period of torpid inactivity, during which it was custom-
ary for Convocation to be summoned and to meet pro
forma, and to be continued and prorogued indefinitely.
The fifth period may be considered to have commenced in
the fifteenth year of the reign of Queen Victoria (1852),
and it would be premature to pronounce an opinion upon
its character. It has not hitherto had to pass through any
severe ordeal of political strife.
During the first of the five periods above mentioned, it
would appear from the records preserved at Lambeth and at York that the metropolitans frequently convened con-gregations (so-called) of their clergy without the authority of a royal writ, which were constituted precisely as the Convocations were constituted, when the metropolitans were commanded to call their clergy together pursuant to a writ from the Crown. As soon, however, as King Henry VIII. had obtained from the clergy their acknowledgment of the supremacy of the Crown in all ecclesiastical causes, ho constrained the spirituality to declare, by what has been termed the Act of Submission on behalf of the clergy, that the Convocation "is, always has been, and ought to be summoned by authority of a royal writ;" and this declara-tion was embodied in a statute of the realm (25 Henry VIII. c. 19), which further enacted that the Convocation " should thenceforth make no provincial canons, constitu-tions, or ordinances without the royal assent and licence." The spirituality was thus more closely incorporated than heretofore in the body politic of the realm, seeing that no deliberations on its part can take place unless the Crown has previously granted its licence for such deliberations. It had been already provided during this period by 8 Henry VI. c. 1, that the prelates and other clergy, with their servants and attendants, when called to the Convocation pursuant to the king's writ, should enjoy the same liberty and defence in coming, tarrying, and returning as the magnates and the commons of the realm enjoy when summoned to the king's Parliament. Second The second period, which dates from 1533 to 1664, period. ]jas been distinguished by four important assemblies of the spirituality of the realm in pursuance of a royal writ—the two first of which occurred in the reign of Edward VI., the third in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and the fourth in the reign of Charles II. The two earliest of these Convocations were summoned to complete the work of the reformation of the Church of England, which had been commenced by Henry VIII.; the third was called together to reconstruct that work, which had been marred on the accession of Mary, the consort of Philip II. of Spain ; whilst the fourth was summoned to re-establish the Church of England, the framework of which had been demolished during the great rebellion. On all of these occasions the Convocations worked hand in hand with the Parliament of the realm under a licence and with the assent of the Crown. Meanwhile the Convocation of 1603 had framed a body of canons for the governance of the clergy. Another Convocation requires a passing notice, in which certain canons were drawn up in 1640, but by reason of an irregularity in the proceedings of this Convocation (chiefly, on the ground that its sessions were continued for some time after the Parliament of the realm had been dissolved), its canons are not held to have any binding obligation on the clergy. The Convocations had up to this time maintained their liberty of voting the subsidies of the clergy in the form of " benevolences," separate and apart from the " aids " granted by the laity in Parliament, and one of the objections taken to the pro-ceedings of the Convocation of 1640 was that it had con-tinued to sit and to vote its subsidies to the Crown after the Parliament itself had been dissolved. It is not, there-fore, surprising on the restoration of the monarchy in 1661 that the spirituality was not anxious to retain the liberty of taxing itself apart from the laity, seeing that its ancient liberty was likely to prove of questionable advantage to it. It voted, however, a benevolence to the Crown on the occasion of its first assembling in 1661 after the restoration of King Charles II., and it continued so to do until 1664, when an arrangement was madebetween Archbishop Sheldon Sheldonian and Lord Chancellor Hyde, under which the spirituality compact, silently waived its long asserted right of voting its own subsidies to the Crown, and submitted itself thenceforth to be assessed to the "aids " directly granted to the Crown by Parliament. An Act was accordingly passed by the Parliament in the following year (16 and 17 Car. II. c. 1), entitled An Act to grant a Royal Aid unto the King's Majesty, to which aid the clergy were assessed by the commissioners named in the statute without any objec-being raised on their part or behalf, there being a proviso that in so contributing the clergy should be relieved of the liability to pay two subsidies out of four, which had been voted by them in the Convocation of a previous year. There was also a further proviso inserted in the same Act, that " nothing therein contained shall be drawn into ex-ample to the prejudice of the ancient rights belonging to the lords spiritual and temporal, or clergy of this realm, &c," which Mr Hallam considers to be a saving of the rights of the clergy to tax themselves, if they think fit (Constitutional History, ed. 1842, ii. p. 395). But the spirituality has never reasserted its ancient liberty of self-taxation. In consequence of this practical renunciation of their separate status, as regards their liability to taxation, the clergy have assumed and enjoyed in common with the laity the right of voting at the election of members of the House of Commons, in virtue of their ecclesiastical freeholds, and this right has been recognized by subsequent statutes, such for instance as 10 Anne c. 23, and 18 George II. c. 18. According to a note of Speaker Onslow's, appended to Burnet's History of his Own Times (Oxford ed. vol. iv. p. 308), the matter was first settled by a private agreement between Sheldon and Clarendon, and tacitly assented to by the clergy. Onslow says, "Gibson, bishop of London, said to me that it was the greatest alteration in the constitution ever made without an express law." Revision of The most important and the last work of the Convocation daring this second period of its activity was the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, which was completed in the latter part of 1661. The revised book, after it had been sanctioned by the Convocation of the province of York, was presented to the Crown for its approval. The Crown having approved the book, sent it forthwith to the Upper House of Parliament, with a recommendation that the book, as reviewed by the Convocation, should be appointed by an Act of Uniformity ; and accordingly the two Houses of Parliament after a conference accepted the revised book, and enacted that it should be the book which should be appointed to be used in all places of public worship in the realm. It was believed for some considerable time that the original book which had been attached to the Act of Uniformity on this occasion had been lost from the archives of the House of Lords. It was, indeed, missing for some time, but in consequence of a more careful search having been instituted in 1870 by Dr A. P. Stanley, the dean of Westminster, the original book has been discovered detached from the Act of Uniformity in the library of the House of Lords, and a fac-simile of the book with the MS. revision was made under the authority of the lords of the treasury for the use of the royal commissioners on ritual in 1871.
Third The Revolution in 1688 is the most important epoch period. In the third period of the history of the synodical pro-ceedings of the spirituality, when the Convocation of Canterbury, having met in 1689 in pursuance of a royal writ, obtained a licence under the great seal, to prepare certain alterations in the liturgy and in the canons, and to deliberate on the reformation of the ecclesiastical courts. A feeling, however, of panic seems to have come over the Lower House, which took up a position of violent antagonism to the Upper House. This circumstance led to the prorogation of the Convocation and to its subsequent discharge without any practical fruit resulting from the king's licence. Ten years elapsed during which the Con-vocation was prorogued from time to time without any meeting of its members for business being allowed. The next Convocation which was permitted to meet for business, in 1700, was marked by great turbulence and insubordina-tion on the part of the members of the Lower House, who refused to recognize the authority of the archbishop to prorogue their sessions. This controversy was kept up until the discharge of the Convocation took place con-currently with the dissolution of the Parliament in the autumn of that year. The proceedings of the Lower House in this Convocation were disfigured by excesses which were clearly violations of the constitutional order of the Convocation. The Lower House refused to take notice of the archbishop's schedule of prorogation, and adjourned itself by its own authority, and upon the demise of the Crown it disputed the fact of its sessions having expired, and as Parliament was to continue for a short time, prayed that its sessions might be continued as a part of the Parliament under the " prsemunientes " clause. The next Claim of Convocation was summoned in the first year of Queen Lower Anne, when the Lower House, under the leadership of Dean House to Aldrich, its prolocutor, challenged the right of the archbishop sit i"*5" to prorogue it, and presented a petition to the queen, praying Her Majesty to call the question into her own presence. The question was thereupon examined by the Queen's Council, when the right of the president to prorogue both Houses of Convocation by a schedule of prorogation was held to be proved, and further, that it could not be altered except by an Act of Parliament. This decision of the Queen's Council is of great importance in its bearing upon the constitution of the Convocation as a part of the body politic of the realm, and is in striking contrast to a legal opinion which was circulated in print in 1855 with the names of two eminent lawyers subscribed to it, to the effect that the Convocation has the power of altering its own constitution, provided only that it has the licence of the Crown to make a canon to that effect, and such canon is subsequently approved by the Crown. During the remaining years of the reign of Queen Anne the two Houses of Convocation were engaged either in internecine strife, or in censuring sermons or books, as teaching latitudinarian or heretical doctrines ; and, when it had been assembled concurrently with Parliament on the accession of King George I., a great breach was before long created between the two Houses by the Bangorian controversy. Dr Hoadly, bishop of Bangor, having preached a sermon before the co^ro™" king, in the Royal Chapel at St James's Palace in 1717, versy. against the principles and practice of the non-jurors, which had been printed by the king's command, the Lower House, which was offended by the sermon and had also been offended by a treatise on the same subject published by Dr Hoadly in the previous year, lost no time in representing the sermon to the Upper House, and in calling for its con-demnation. A controversy thereupon arose between the two Houses which was kept up with untiring energy by the Lower House, until the Convocation was prorogued in 1717 in pursuance of a royal writ; from which time until 1861 no licence from the Crown has been granted to Convocation to proceed to business. During this period, which may be regarded as the fourth distinguishing period in the history Fourth of the Convocations of the Church of England, it was usual period, for a few members of the Convocation to meet when first summoned with every new Parliament, in pursuance of the royal writ, for the Lower House to elect a prolocutor, and for both Houses to vote an address to the Crown, after which the Convocation was prorogued from time to time, pursuant to royal writs, and ultimately discharged when the Parliament was dissolved. There were, however, several occasions between 1717 and 1741 when the Convocation of the province of Canterbury transacted certain matters, by way of consultation, which did not require any licence from the Crown, and there was a short period in its session of 1741 when there was a probability of its being allowed to resume its deliberative functions, as the Lower House had consented to obey the president's schedule of prorogation; but the Lower House having declined to receive a communication from the Upper House, the Convocation was forthwith prorogued, from which time until the middle of the present century the Convocation was not per-mitted by the Crown to enjoy any opportunity even for consultation. The spirituality at last aroused itself from its long repose in 1852, and on this occasion the Upper House took the lead. The active spirit of the movement Fifth was Samuel, bishop of Oxford, but the master mind was Penod-Henry, bishop of Exeter. On the Convocation assembling several petitions were presented to both Houses, praying them to take steps to procure from the Crown the neces-sary licence for their meeting for the despatch of business, and an address to the Upper House was brought up from the Lower House, calling the attention of the Upper House to the reasonableness of the prayer of the various petitions. After some discussion the Upper House, influenced mainly by the argument of Henry, bishop of Exeter, consented to receive the address of the Lower House, and the Convocation was thereupon prorogued, shortly after which it was dis-charged concurrently with the dissolution of Parliament. On the assembling of the next Convocation of the province .Revival of of Canterbury, no royal writ of exoneration having been activity, sent by the Crown to the metropolitan, the sessions of the Convocation were continued for several days ; and from this time forth Convocation may be considered to have resumed its action as a consultative body, whilst it has also been permitted on more than one occasion to exercise its functions as a deliberative body. Its first action as a deliberative body commenced in 1861, in pursuance of a licence from the Crown granted to it upon its prayer, to amend the twenty-ninth of the canons of 1603 on the subject of sponsors at baptism. Its deliberations, however, on this subject have not yet been brought to a final conclusion. Both Houses came to an agreement as to the form of a canon to be substituted in place of the existing canon, and the Convoca-tion of the province of York having consented to the amended canon, it was submitted to the Crown for its approval pursuant to the terms of the royal licence, under which the new canon could only acquire the validity of law by its confirmation under letters patent of the Crown. On this occasion, however, the new canon appeared to Her Majesty's Government to exceed in its terms the royal licence, and to be likely to cause greater perplexity to the clergy than the existing canon. It was accordingly sent back to the Convocation in 1865 for further amendment. The Upper House thereupon made a further amendment in the proposed form of canon, and sent it down to the Lower House for its concurrence, but the Lower House, in the Convocation of 1867, resolved to defer the consideration of the further amendment of the canon, until a committee, which has been appointed to consider the whole body of the canons of 1603 shall have made its report. This is a proceeding which cannot be considered of good augury to the Convocation as a deliberative body, seeing that the licence of the Crown to amend the particular canon was granted to Convocation at its own request. The proceed-ings of the Convocation on the second occasion have been Amended of more favourable augury. A royal licence was granted canons of to the Convocation of 1865 in response to an address on its part to the Crown, authorizing it to make a new canon in the place of the thirty-sixth, and to amend the thirty-seventh and the thirty-eighth canons so as to be in harmony with the new canon, and also to amend the fortieth canon ; and certain alterations and amendments in those canons having been accordingly made by the Convocation of the province of Canterbury, and agreed to by the Convocation of the province of York under a similar licence from the Crown, the royal assent was given to the amended canons in the Convocation of 1866. On this occasion the Convocations acted with becoming promptness and decision, as there was a pressing emergency for their co-operation with the Parliament in relieving the clergy from certain subscriptions and oaths, and in altering the forms of declarations to be made by them on their admission to office or benefice (28 and 29 Vict. c. 122.) With regard to the twenty-ninth canon there was no corresponding emergency, and it may be said of it, as of other canons which have been abrogated by custom—" ubi consuetudo loquitur, lex manet sopita." It appears, however, that the report of the committee of the Lower House on the subject of an amended code of canons ecclesiastical was laid on the Order of table of the Upper House in the session of 1874, but no convening further action has been taken upon it.
tionTOCa" orl^er °f convening the Convocation of the province of Canter-
bury is as follows. A writ issues from the Crown, addressed to the metropolitan archbishop of Canterbury, commanding him "by reason of certain difficult and urgent affairs concerning us, the secu-rity and defence of our Church of England, and the peace and tran-quillity, public good, and defence of our kingdom, and our subjects of the same, to call together with all convenient speed, and in lawful manner, the several bishops of the province of Canterbury, and deans of the cathedral churches, and also the archdeacons, chapters, and colleges, and the whole clergy of every diocese of the said province, to appear before the said metropolitan in the cathedral church of St Paul, London, on a certain day, or elsewhere, as shall seem most expedient, to treat of, agree to, and conclude upon the premises and other things, which to them shall then at the same place be more clearly explained on our behalf." In case the metropolitical see of Canterbury should be vacant, the writ of the Crown is addressed to the dean and chapter of the metropolitical church of Canterbury in similar terms, as being the guardians of the spiritualities of the see during a vacancy. Thereupon the metropolitan, or as the case may be, the dean and chapter of the metropolitical church, issue a mandate to the bishop of London, as dean of the province, and if the bishopric of London should be vacant, then to the bishop of Winchester as subdean, which embodies the royal writ, and directs the bishop to cause all the bishops of the province to be cited, and through them the deans of the cathedral and collegiate churches, and the archdeacons and other dignitaries of churches, and each chapter by one, and the clergy of each diocese by two sufficient proctors, to appear before the metropolitan or his commissary, or, as the case may be, before the dean and chapter of the metropoliti-cal church or their commissary, in the chapter-house of the cathe-dral church of St Paul, London, if that place be named in the mandate, or elsewhere, with continuation and prorogation of days next following, if that should be necessary, to treat upon arduous and weighty affairs, which shall concern the state and welfare, public good, and defence of this kingdom and the subjects thereof, to be then and there seriously laid before them, and to give their good counsel and assistance on the said affairs, and to consent to such things as shall happen to be wholesomely ordered and ap-pointed by their common advisement, for the honour of God and the good of the church.
The provincial dean, or the subdean, as the case may be, there-upon issues a citation to the several bishops of the province, which embodies the mandate of the metropolitan or of the dean and chap-ter of the metropolitical church, as the case maybe, and admonishes them to appear, and to cite and admonish their clergy, as specified in the metropolitical mandate, to appear at the time and place mentioned in the mandate. The bishops thereupon either summon directly the clergy of their respective dioceses to appear before them or their commissaries to elect two proctors, or they send a citation to their archdeacons, according to the custom of the diocese, direct-ing them to summon the clergy of their respective archdeaconries to elect a proctor. The practice of each diocese in this matter is the law of the Convocation, and the practice varies indefinitely as regards the election of proctors to represent the beneficed clergy. As regards the deans, the bishops send special writs to them to appear in person, and to cause their chapters to appear severally by one proctor. Writs also go to every archdeacon, and on the day named in the royal writ, which is always the day next following that named in the writ to summon the Parliament, the Convocation assembles in the place named in the archbishop's mandate. There-upon, after the Litany has been sung or said, and a Latin sermon preached by a preacher appointed by the metropolitan, the clergy are prfficonized or summoned by name to appear before the metropolitan or his commissary; after which the clergy of the Lower House are directed to withdrawand elect a prolocutor, to be presented to the metropolitan for his approbation. The Convocation thus constituted resolves itself at its next meeting into two Houses, and it is in a fit state to proceed to business. The regular forms of pro-ceeding have been carefully kept up in the Convocation of the pro-vince of Canterbury, which consists of 20 bishops, exclusive of the metropolitan, 24 deans, 56 archdeacons, 23 proctors for the chapter clergy, and 42 proctors for the beneficed clergy.
On the other hand, the proceedings of the Convocation of the province of York have been less regular, and no prolocutor of the Lower|House of the Convocation appears to have been appointed since 1661, until the recent resuscitation of the Convocation as a consul-tative body. Its constitution differs slightly from that of the Con-vocation of the province of Canterbury, as each archdeaconry is re-presented by two proctors, precisely as in Parliament formerly under the Prsemunientes clause. It consists of 6 bishops, including the bishop of Sodor and Man and exclusive of the metropolitan, 6 deans, 15 archdeacons, 6 proctors of the chapter clergy, and 30 proctors for the beneficed clergy. There are some anomalies in the diocesan returns of the two Convocations, but in all such matters the consuetudo of the diocese is the governing rule.
Bibliography.—Wilkins, Concilia Sfagme Britannia et Hibernice, 4 vols, folio, 1737; Gibson, Codex Juris Ecclesiastici Anglicani,2 vols, folio, 1713; Johnson, A Collection of all the Ecclesiastical Laws, Canons, and Constitutions of the English Church, 2 vols. 8vo, 1720; Gibson, Synodus Anglicana, 8vo, 1702, re-edited byDr Edward Cardwell, 8vo, 1854; Shower, A Letter to a Convocation Man concerning the Rights, Powers, and Privileges of that Body, 4to, 1697; Wake, The Authority of Christian Princes over their Ecclesiastical Synods asserted, occasioned by a late Pamphlet intituled A Letter to a Convocation Man, 8vo, 1697 ; Atterbury, The Rights, Powers, and Privileges of an English Convocation stated and vindicated in answer to a late book of Br Wake's, Svo, 1700; Burnet, Reflections on a Book in-tituled The Rights, Powers, and Privileges of an English Convocation stated and vindicated, 4to, 1700; Kennet, Ecclesiastical Synods and Parliamentary Convoca-tions of the Church of England historically stated and justly vindicated from the Misrepresentation of Mr Atterbury, 8vo, 1701; Atterbury, The Power of the Lower House of Convocation to adjourn itself, 4to, 1701; Gibson, The Right of the Archbishop to continue or prorogue the whole Convocation, 4to,1701; Kennet, The Case of the- Prarmunientes, 4to, 1701; Hooper, The Narrative of the Lower House vindicated from the Exceptions of a Letter, intituled The Right of the Archbishop to continue or prorogue the Convocation, 4to, 1702 ; Atterbury, The
Case of the Schedule stated, 4to, 1702 ; Gibson, The Schedule Reviewed, or the
Right of the Archbishop to continue or prorogue the whole Convocation, cleared
from the Exception of a late Vindication of the Narrative of the Lower House, and
'of a Book intituled The Case of the Schedule Stated, 4to, 1702,; Hody, A History
of the English Councils and Convocation, and of the Clergy's sitting in Parlia-
ment, 8vo, 1702 ; Wake, The State of the Church and Clergy of England in their
Councils, Synods, Convocations, Conventions, and other Public Assemblies, occa-
sioned by a book intituled The Rights, Powers, and Privileges of an English Con-
vocation^f ol., 1703; Burnet, History of his own Time, 2 vols, folio, 1734, re-edited
by Dr Martin J. Routh, 6 vols. 8vo, 1833; Hallam, Constitutional History of
England, 3 vols. 8vo, 1832; Cardwell, Documentary Annals of the Reformed
Church of England, 2 vols. 1S30; Cardwell, A History of Conferences and other
Proceedings connected with the revision of the Common Prayer, 8vo, 1841; Card-
well, Synodalia, a Collection of Articles of Religion, Canon, and Proceedings
of Convocation in the Province of Canterbury, 2 vols. 8vo, 1842; Lathbury, A
History of the Convocation of the Church of England, second edition, 8vo,
1853 ; Trevor, The Convocation of the two Provinces, 8vo, 1852; Peai-ce, The Law
relating to Convocations of the Clergy,Svo, 1848; Synodalia, a Journal of Convo-
cation, commenced in 1852, 8vo; The Chronicle of Convocation, being a record
of the proceedings of the Convocation of Canterbury, commenced in 1803,
8vo. (T. T.)


Sir Thomas Duffus Hardy, who edited this treatise for the Record Commissioners in 1846, places it somewhere between 1294 and 1327.

It had always been the practice, when the clergy voted their sub-sidies in their Convocation, for Parliament to authorize the collec-tion of each subsidy by the same commissioners who collected the Parliamentary aid.

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-21 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries