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Jo. Parkhurst. An.
1620. Lincoln. Lib. Act.
ad An. 1640.
to transact matters of civil right, and grant aids to the crown, Abp. Cant. in the name of the whole body of the clergy.
Whether the inferior clergy sat in the same house with the commons, how long they appeared in this civil capacity and acted as members of parliament, and whether this custom was discontinued in the reign of king Henry VI., I shall not inquire. But, let that be as it will, it is certain the præmu
nientes clause inserted in the bishop's writ was kept on and Regist. executed, and the clergy gave subsidies for their own body as Brev. Epist.
before. The proportion which every one was to pay was
assessed by ecclesiastical commissioners, and the money levied 1572. Re- by methods of their own appointment. In case of nonLitch. An. payment, the censures of the Church were exerted; and, if the
sheriff proved negligent in executing the writ de excommunicato
capiendo, the bishops had prisons in their respective dioceses, Capit. Not. 20. fol. 204. to mortify those who proved refractory. Besides, we may Bishop
reasonably conclude, it was within the jurisdiction of the
diocesans to sequester the profits of those incumbents who Church, &c. refused to comply with the assessment. These aids, from the
reign of king Henry VIII. downwards, are generally confirmed by act of parliament; and therefore, from this time, I suppose the property of the clergy came under the compulsion of the laws, and the money might be levied by way of distress. The provincial convocation of the clergy is to be considered under a capacity distinct from that above-mentioned, and met only for transacting Church business. This assembly was sometimes convened by the archbishop's mandate, without any authority from the king. Of this we have an instance as late
as archbishop Warham, about the beginning of the reign of Regist. king Henry VIII. However, these two different conventions Fitzjames.
grew by degrees, as it were, into one body: the provincial 893. writs and the præmunientes clause generally bringing the
clergy together at the same time. And, to return more directly to the matter in hand, it has all along been the custom for the English clergy to tax themselves. The rebellion in the reign of king Charles I., and the following usurpations, were the first that broke in upon this privilege : for now the Dissenting ministers, either out of voluntary compliance, affectation of popularity, or because they wanted proxies to represent their body, had their benefices taxed with the laity, in the pretended parliaments. But when the king
returned, this ancient right of the Church was restored with CHARLES him; and thus the matter continued for three years. For instance, in the fifteenth year of this prince's reign, the clergy's grant of four subsidies was confirmed by act of parliament. But now, as it happened, some of the bishops 15 Charles 2. and clergy fell into sentiments much different from those of cap. 10. their predecessors. They began to think this customary method of taxing themselves somewhat burthensome : they thought, it is possible, the expectations of the court might be set too high upon them this way; and that the commons were often discontented, unless they overcharged themselves, and swelled their subsidies beyond a reasonable proportion. How well these jealousies were founded, I shall not examine; but, it is supposed, the being apprehensive of such inconveniences brought archbishop Sheldon and some other leading prelates into a concert with the lord-chancellor Hyde, the lordtreasurer, and some others of the ministry. And now, at a consultation, it was concluded the clergy should silently waive the custom of taxing their own body, and suffer themselves to be included in the money-bills prepared by the commons; and, to encourage their assent to this cession, two of their four subsidies were to be remitted ; and, over and above, they had the promise of a clause for saving their ancient rights. This security was accordingly given, and a very clear comprehensive proviso inserted in the statute for this purpose. The act stands thus :
16 & 17 Charles 2.
“Provided always, and be it enacted by the Rot. Parl.
A full and authority aforesaid, that all spiritual promotions, and all lands, express possessions, or revenues, annexed to, and all goods and chat- reserving tels growing, or renewed upon the same or elsewhere, apper- their ancient
. taining to the owners of the said spiritual promotions, or any of them, which are or shall be charged, or made contributory by this act towards the payments aforesaid, during the time therein appointed (which was to be raised, levied, and paid in the space of three years) shall be absolutely freed and discharged from the two last of the four subsidies granted by the clergy to his majesty, his heirs and successors, by an act made in a former session of this present parliament, entitled, • An Act for confirming of four Subsidies granted by the Clergy,' any clause or thing in the said act to the contrary
SHEL- notwithstanding. Provided always, that nothing herein Abp. Cant. contained, shall be drawn into example to the prejudice of the
ancient rights belonging unto the lords spiritual and temporal, or clergy, of this realm, or unto either of the said universities, or unto any colleges, schools, alms-houses, hospitals, or cinqueports."
That the clergy were gainers by this change, is more than appears; were they allowed to elect some of their function to represent them in the house of commons, the quitting their ancient right would be more intelligible. But such a choice will not pass the committee of elections. The consenting therefore to be taxed by the temporal commons, makes the clergy more dependent on a foreign body, takes away the right of disposing of their own money, and lays their estates in some measure at discretion. And being in no condition to give subsidies, and present the crown, it is well if their convocation meetings are not sometimes discontinued, if they do not sink in their significancy, lie by for want of a royal license, and grow less regarded when their grievances are offered. And here I cannot forbear saying, their having the liberty of polling for parliament men, seems short of an equivalent for the privileges resigned. However, the reader may see there is an express clause in the act for reserving their right, and returning them to their former circumstances.
But if this should be insisted on, it is a great question, in the opinion of a late historian, whether the house of commons would allow the saving clause mentioned. Does this learned writer then suppose this extraordinary usage would be the consequence of such a claim? He grants the clause for reserving the right to tax themselves is sufficiently plain and explicit. Can he then imagine those gentlemen who represent the commons, would strain the statute, and deny the subject the benefit of the constitution? Or are the clergy the only people that must claim no advantage from the laws? Must they fare the worse on the score of their character, and suffer for their commission from Christ Jesus? Does not such a supposition sound harshly, and imply somewhat of reflection on a Christian legislature!
To proceed. The behaviour of the Nonconformists grew more unacceptable to the government. It cannot be denied,
there was some umbrage given for jealousy and caution. Some CHARLES fanatics took service under the Dutch, against their own prince and country: for which they were attainted in the Oxford parliament; and even some of the moderate Dissenters discovered a disinclination to a war with Holland. Farther, the Conventiclers in Scotland appeared bold and mutinous, and were supposed to correspond with some of that party in England. Now, to be better informed of the numbers and strength id. of these dissenting and disaffected people, orders were sent from the archbishop of Canterbury to the suffragans of his province,“ requiring them punctually to observe all the canons July 5 and rules concerning ordination, and that for the future they yearly certify the names of all ordained by them, and that they forthwith make a return of the names and degrees of all the beneficed clergy, and of lecturers, schoolmasters, ushers, and practitioners of physic, as likewise of all ejected Nonconformist ministers, with their place of abode and manner of life.” The returns of the several bishops are still remaining in Lambeth library.
The Oxford parliament being apprehensive of danger from 894. the Dissenters, passed an act, “ That no parsons, vicars, curates, The Oxford lecturers, and other persons in holy orders, or pretended holy conventicles. orders, should come within five miles of any city or town corporate, or borough, that sends burgesses to parliament, or within five miles of any parish town, or place, wherein he or they have, since the act of oblivion, been parson, curate, stipendiary, or lecturer, or taken upon them to preach in any unlawful assembly, conventicle, or meeting, unless they take and subscribe the oath following :
“ + 1, A. B., do swear that it is not lawful upon any pretence whatsoever to take arms against the king : and that I do abhor that traitorous position, of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him in pursuance of such commissions ; and that I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government either in Church or State.'
It is farther provided, that those who were restrained from coming to any city, town corporate, &c. as aforesaid, or any other person who shall refuse to take the oath abovementioned,
and not frequent Divine service at Church, shall not be allowed DON, Abp. Cant. to teach any public or private school, or take any boarders.
The penalty of contravening this proviso, and the former part
of the statute, is forty pounds, and six months imprisonment, 17 Charles 2. unless they take the said oath before their commitment.
Another act passed this session, for uniting Churches in
cities and towns corporate. I shall insert the preamble, which An act for begins thus :-“ Forasmuch as the settled provision for minisChurches in ters in most towns corporate within this realm, is not sufficient cities, fc. for the maintenance of able ministers fit for such places,
whereby mean and stipendiary preachers are entertained to serve the cures there; who wholly depending upon the goodwill and liking of their auditors, have been, and are hereby under temptation of too much complying, and suiting their doctrine, and teaching to the humour, rather than the good of their auditors; which has been a great occasion of faction and schism, and of the contempt of the ministry: the lords and commons in parliament assembled, being deeply sensible of the evil consequences thereof, and piously desiring able ministers in such places, and a competent maintenance for them in the union of Churches; which is also become necessary by reason of the great ruin of many Churches and parishes in the late ill times, and otherwise. It is therefore enacted," &c.
By this statute, no union was to be good where the settled maintenance exceeded an hundred pounds per annum clear. It is likewise farther enacted, that all proprietors of tithes, or owners of impropriations, may lawfully convey, annex, and unite the said tithes, or any part of them, to any parish or chapelry, within the kingdom of England or dominion of Wales, where such tithes shall lie. They are likewise enabled to settle the same in trust for the benefit of the said parsonage or vicarage, or of the curate, where the parsonage is impropriated, and no vicar endowed : and this settlement they are allowed to make without any licence of mortmain. And, lastly, it is “lawful for the parsons, vicars, and incumbents, to take, receive, and purchase to themselves and
successors, lands, tenements, rents, tithes, or other heredita17 Charles 2. ments, without any licence of mortmain."
When the king recovered his dominions, the hierarchy of Ireland revived to their former condition. To give the Church