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§ 38.



In the earlier part of the Anglo-Saxon period the bishop commonly had with him a deacon as his subordinate assistant. From the beginning of the ninth century, when the number of the ecclesiastics to be superintended had considerably increased, an archdeacon is sometimes named as the assistant of the bishop in the work of supervision. Towards the end of the Anglo-Saxon period there was, as a rule, one archdeacon appointed in every diocese. Simultaneously, however, the archdeacons began to claim, as their own, rights which they had hitherto only exercised under authority from their respective bishops. In this way the archdeacon gradually ceased to be a dependent assistant of the bishop and became an independent official. This development was favoured by the circumstance that towards the end of the eleventh and in the course of the twelfth century, in many bishoprics several archdeacons were appointed and separate districts assigned to each. The place which the archdeacon had previously filled was now occupied by officers with new names: the vicar-general, to represent or assist the bishop in matters of administration proper; the official, to represent or assist the bishop in his position as judge of the episcopal court and in other affairs wherein special legal knowledge was required. The two offices were not always sharply marked off. Moreover, instances some


1 Stubbs, Const. Hist. I, 245 c 8 § 85: The deacon' acted as his (the bishop's) secretary and companion in travel, and occasionally as interpreter.'

2 Cf. § 42, note 1.

3 On the powers of these two officials see Decretals of Boniface VIII (Lib. Sextus) I, tit. 13 c 2: Licet in officialem episcopi, per commissionem officii, generaliter sibi factam, causarum cognitio transferatur, potestatem tamen inquirendi, corrigendi aut puniendi aliquorum excessus, seu aliquos a suis beneficiis, officiis vel administrationibus amovendi transferri nolumus in eundem, nisi sibi specialiter haec committantur. c3: officialis aut vicarius generalis episcopi beneficia conferre non possunt, nisi beneficiorum_collatio ipsis specialiter sit commissa.-John of Actona 24 cites the rule laid down in c2 above, and adds: Vicarius tamen generalis Episcopi haec omnia facere potest, exceptis Beneficiorum Collationibus. Cf. also Lyndwood Bk. II tit. 4 p. 105.

The official was originally only an assistant of the bishop appointing him; thus his office ceased upon the death or translation of the bishop. The present custom of appointing the official by patent from the bishop with confirmation by the chapter, whereby appointment is for the lifetime of the official, probably began in the seventeenth century. Stubbs, Hist. Appendix to Report of Eccles. Courts Commission, 1883, I, p. 26.

A collection of the forms of the letters patent which in the nineteenth century were given to the officials in the several archbishoprics and bishoprics of England, will be found in the Report of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission, 1833, II, 659 ff. Parliamentary Reports vol. XXIV.

times occur of the existence of several vicar-generals or several officials in the same diocese at the same time.1

In both the archiepiscopal sees of England, so far as is manifest, the offices of vicar-general and of judge of the archiepiscopal court were sometimes separate and sometimes united. The offices of the supreme judges of ecclesiastical courts in Canterbury and York were in 1874 fused; and in this way an independent court, the provincial court, was constituted.5 The archiepiscopal vicar-general [vicar-general's court] has to manage current ecclesiastical business and to grant marriage licences; as a matter of custom he is also, as well as the judge of the archiepiscopal court, appointed head official of the archbishop within the province (in Canterbury also in respect of the exempt districts); but exercises as head official hardly any rights; lastly, also as a matter of custom, in Canterbury he is commissioned once for all by the archbishop, to conduct the procedure, in form retained, upon the ground of which the archiepiscopal confirmation of bishops' elections is pronounced [Confirmation Court]."

In all the non-archiepiscopal sees of England the offices of vicargeneral and official have for centuries customarily and with few exceptions been bestowed on the same person, who then is by usage designated the 'bishop's chancellor.' 7

4 Under William III it was the old usage in Llandaff to grant the office of vicar-general to two persons, to hold jointly and severally. Phillimore 1194. In the bishopric of Sodor and Man until recently two vicar-generals were appointed who jointly or singly disposed of the judicial business in all the ecclesiastical courts of the diocese. Now only one vicar-general is appointed. Report of Eccl. Courts Commission, 1883, II, 692.

5 The documents relating to the appointment of the first judge of this court are printed in the Report of Eccles. Courts Com. 1883, II, 663 f. Nos. 7, 8. The archbishops appointed in virtue of the Worship Regulation Act and in exercise of any other power enabling us in this behalf.' See the Report p. 664, Nos. 10, 11 for the patent (not necessary), which the archbishop of Canterbury gave to the same judge, when the offices of Dean of the Arches and Master of the Faculties were by a former statute abolished and their powers vested in the judge of the provincial court.

The patent of the vicar-general of Canterbury, 1872, and of the vicar-general of York, 1877, are in Report II, pp. 666, 667. The office managed by the vicargeneral of the archbishop of Canterbury is called 'Vicar-General's Office for Granting Marriage Licences, and Court of Peculiars.' The court of peculiars is the court for districts exempt from episcopal jurisdiction.

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7 Gibson, Codex, Introduction p. 22. Phillimore, Eccles. Law 1203, 1208.The term chancellor' is also used in some acts of parliament. Some of these are cited in Phillimore, l.c. 1207, note 1.-Different from the bishop's chancellor is the cathedral chancellor, the latter being the designation of one of the canons in chapters of the old foundation. (Cf. § 37, note 14.)

§ 39.



Certain rights of confirming, ordaining and consecrating being reserved for those in bishop's orders, the diocesan bishop could not be adequately represented, when prevented from discharging his duties, by those in lower orders; representation by those of episcopal rank was then necessary. The difficulty was met in various ways at different times.

In France in the eighth and towards the middle of the ninth century the purpose was served by what were called chorepiscopi.' But, so far as is known, such bishops were not found in England proper, or were, at most, of exceptional occurrence.2

1 Against these chorepiscopi there are resolutions of the eastern councils dating from as early as the fourth century. The institution became extinct in France about the middle of the ninth century, in Germany in the tenth. Richter, Kirchenrecht § 139.

On the chorepiscopi in the church of St. Martin at Canterbury to the time of Lanfranc (1070-89) cf.:

Gervasius, Actus Pontificum (Rer. Brit. Scr. No. 73) II, 361: Habebat etiam quondam Cantuariensis archiepiscopus corepiscopum quendam qui in ecclesia Sancti Martini extra Cantuariam manebat; qui adveniente Lanfranco deletus est, sicut ubique terrarum factum esse audivimus.

Fragmentum de Institutione Archidiaconatus Cantuariensis (printed in Wharton, Anglia Sacra I, 150; written apparently shortly after the death of archbishop Peckham, 1292):

A tempore B. Augustini primi Archiepiscopi Cantuariensis usque ad tempus bonae memoriae Lanfranci Archiepiscopi per 462 annos nullus fuit Archidiaconus in civitate vel Dioecesi Cantuariensi. (This not correct. Cf. § 42, note 1.) Sed a tempore B. Theodori Archiepiscopi (668-90) qui sextus erat a B. Augustino, usque ad tempus praedicti Lanfranci fuit in Ecclesia S. Martini suburbio Cantuariae quidam Episcopus auctoritate Vitaliani Papae (657-72) a S. Theodoro ordinatus : Qui in tota civitate et Dioecesi Cantuariensi vices Archiepiscopi gerebat in Ordinibus celebrandis, Ecclesiis consecrandis et pueris confirmandis et aliis officiis Pontificalibus exequendis ipso absente. Idem etiam Episcopus omnimodam jurisdictionem in civitate et Dioecesi Cantuariensi sede plena auctoritate Archiepiscopi ipso absente, et Sede vacante in tota Provincia auctoritate Capituli exercebat per 399 annos usque ad tempus praedicti Lanfranci.

Postmodum tempore praedicti Lanfranci Archiepiscopi praedictus Episcopus in fata decessit. Sed idem Archiepiscopus alium substituere non decrevit.

The names of two only of the bishops of St. Martin have been preserved, Eadsige (from 1038 archbishop of Canterbury) and Godwin (d. 1061). Stubbs, Registrum 142.

▪ Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, printed by and for J. Nichols, vol. VI, London, 1790, contains essays printed in 1785 upon suffragan bishops in England, viz. 1. Brett, Letter on Suffragan Bishops; 2, Lewis, An Essay concerning Suffragan Bishops in England, 1738 ; 3, Pegge, Letter on Bishops in Partibus Infidelium, 1781; 4, Reprint of a list left behind in MS. by Henry Wharton (died 1695) of English suffragan bishops.-Stubbs, appendix V to Regis trum Sacrum Anglicanum, Oxford, 1858.


From the thirteenth century there appear in England, as simultaneously on the continent, assistants of episcopal rank, variously designated (episcopi suffraganei, episcopi in partibus infidelium); in the following centuries the number of them increased.

As the reformation was being carried out, it became requisite to regulate anew the manner of nominating these suffragan bishops and the position they held. The regulation was effected by 26 Hen. VIII (1534) c 14. By this act an archbishop or bishop, desiring to have a suffragan, shall present to the king two persons, of whom the king nominates one as suffragan bishop, and presents him for consecration to the archbishop in whose province lies the place whence the suffragan's title is derived. The rights of the suffragan are limited by the commission he receives from the diocesan bishop whom he is to assist. As suffragan bishop he has no independent income; his stipend consists of revenues specially assigned him by the bishop and of the fruits of the benefices, as a rule, conferred upon him.+

"In isolated cases bishops without dioceses (or without English dioceses) are mentioned in England as early as the tenth and eleventh centuries. Such are (Stubbs, Registrum 142):—

Siegfried, a Norwegian bishop of the time of Edgar. William of Malmesbury, De antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae (ed. Migne vol. 179) 1722 C. (Cf. Historia Eliensis in Wharton, Angl. Sacra I, 603: Sygidwoldus Episcopus, natione Graecus.)

[On Siward, abbot of Abingdon, see § 40, note 1.]

Ralph, a cousin of Edward the Confessor, a Norwegian bishop, abbot of Abingdon (1050-1052). Hist. Abingdon. (Rer. Brit. Scr. No. 2) I, 463, II, 281. Osmund, consecrated in Poland. Adam of Bremen (Mon. Germ. Script. VII) 340 and note 16.

Christiern, a Danish bishop, came to England with Sweyn in 1070. AngloSax. Chron. (Rer. Brit. Ser. No. 23) I, 345.

Cf. also the lists of Wharton in Bibliotheca Topographica, l.c. According to Stubbs, Introduction to Memorials of Dunstan (Rer. Brit. Scr. No. 63) p. xci Dunstan, afterwards archbishop, was perhaps originally consecrated (957) without a definite see.

An Acte for nominacion and consecracyon of Suffragans within this Realme.

s 1. The following_towns: Thetforde, Ippeswiche, Colchester, Dover, Gylford, Southampton, Tawnton, Shaftesbury, Molton, Marleburgh, Bedforde, Leycester, Gloucester, Shrewsbury, Bristowe, Penreth, Bridgewater, Nottingham, Grauntham, Hulle, Huntyngdon, Cambridge, the towns of Pereth, Berwyke, Sayncte Germayns in Cornewell and the Isle of Wight are to be sees of suffragans. An archbishop or bishop, being disposed to have a suffragan, shall and may name, elect, present to the king two persons. Upon such presentation the king may give to one of them the title of one of the sees named, provided it be within the same province whereof the bishop that doth name him is. Then the king by letters patent under the great seal presents the chosen to the archbishop of the province in which the see lies, requiring the said archbishop 'to give all such consecrations, benedictions and ceremonies as to the degree and office of a bishop suffragan shall be requisite.'

s 2. The suffragan bishops have the rights given them in the commission of their diocesan bishop, as custom has been.


s 3. The archbishop must fulfil the king's request within three months. s 4. The suffragan bishops are to have no profits of their sees nor any jurisdiction or episcopal power,' except in so far as such profits, jurisdiction etc. are expressly assigned them by their diocesan bishop. Every diocesan bishop may

This act was repealed by 1 & 2 Phil. & Mar. (1554 and 1554/5) c 8 s 4, but revived by 1 Eliz. (1558/9) c 1 s 2. By degrees, however, the practice of appointing suffragans was discontinued; the last nomination before the nineteenth century took place in the year 1592.5 For nearly three centuries no such appointments were made. In 1870 a suffragan bishop was again nominated, and the institution has since then again won favour, so that these episcopal assistants are now found in a large number of bishoprics.7 By 51 & 52 Vict. (1888) c 56, the Suffragans Nomination Act, some formal difficulties occasioned by the statute of Henry VIII were removed. The older act named certain towns as the only possible sees of bishops suffragan; the king was now empowered to add new towns to the list by order in council.

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Before the revival of suffragans proper, from the middle of the nineteenth century onward, it became customary for colonial bishops who had withdrawn temporarily or permanently from their dioceses to officiate as the assistants of English bishops. Such bishops are generally designated 'assistant bishops.' Their position is in part determined by statute and corresponds to that of suffragans. In particular, colonial bishops like suffragans are confined in the exercise of their powers by the terms of the commission wherein the diocesan bishop confers those powers.9

make such assignment in the extent to which it has been customary or to which they think fit. If the suffragan exceeds the jurisdiction assigned him he becomes liable to the penalties of praemunire according to 16 Ric. II c 5.

s 5. The diocesan or the suffragan bishop shall provide two bishops or suffragans to assist the archbishop in the consecration and shall bear their reasonable costs.

s 6. The suffragan must have his residence within the see of his diocesan; his residence in the diocese shall serve as residence on his benefice.

s 7. A suffragan may have two benefices with cure of souls.

5 A suffragan bishop of Colchester. Charles II in his Declaration concerning ecclesiastical affairs, 25th Oct. 1660 (Cardwell, Doc. Ann. II, 234 ff.) c 2 contemplated the nomination of suffragans; but no such appointment was actually made.

6 Perry, Hist. of Engl. Church III, 515 c 31 § 1.

According to the Church Year-Book, 1894, pp. 583 ff. there were in 1893 suffragan bishops with the following titles: Dover (diocese of Canterbury); Beverley and Hull (York); Marlborough and Bedford (London); Guildford (Winchester); Barrow-in-Furness (Carlisle); Shrewsbury (Lichfield); Reading (Oxford); Leicester (Peterborough); Richmond (Ripon); Southwark (Rochester); Colchester (St. Albans); Swansea (St. David's); Derby (Southwell); Coventry (Worcester).

According to the Church Year-Book, 1894, pp. 583 ff. there was an assistant bishop in each of the dioceses of London, Durham, Gloucester and Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and Peterborough. The assistant bishop in London was for British subjects in northern and central Europe.-According to Chronicle of Convocation of Canterbury, 1889, appendix No. 237 p. 8 in the American church'assistant bishop' means a coadjutor with right of succession.

15 & 16 Vict. (1852) c 52 An Act to enable Colonial and other Bishops to perform certain Episcopal Functions, under Commission from Bishops of England and Ireland. Any person who has been bishop of Calcutta, Madras or Bombay or who, in virtue of royal letters patent, is or has been bishop in an English colony, may, at the request and by the commission of any bishop in England or Ireland and with the consent and licence of the archbishop, within the bounds of the see in question, ordain the persons presented to him under

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