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as before, in substitution for parochial ministers, but to assist them and to perform special official duties under their guidance.

A distinction is now drawn between diocesan readers and parochial readers. The former are less confined to officiation in a particular parish than the latter.5

The form of appointing a parochial reader is as follows: the vicar, rector or other parish priest nominates a suitable person to the bishop, the latter approves the appointment and grants his licence, which holds good until revoked or until a new parish priest is appointed. In the second case a renewal may be given upon application.

The extent and character of the ecclesiastical duties of the reader are determined by the commission given him by bishop and parish priest; the chief are to read passages from the Scriptures or from the book of common prayer and such edifying homilies or discourses as the parish priest may think fit, and to read and explain the Bible to the aged, sick etc.; power may also be granted him to expound in public.7

The ecclesiastical authorities require that the reader should, before his admission, subscribe a declaration of assent to the thirty

The Church Year-Book, 1891, p. 95 contains rules for both kinds of readers in the diocese of London.

5 According to the rules for the diocese of London, those who wish to become diocesan readers are, at the discretion of the Readers' Board for the Dioceses,' presented to the bishop. The latter gives them (after optional examination) a licence for a given parish, such licence being subject to revocation; they may, however, upon occasion officiate in other parishes of the diocese with the consent of the incumbent in question.

The bishop may make his approval depend on an examination in belief and Scripture knowledge, held by himself or his chaplain.

See the form for the admission of readers as agreed by the bishops (printed in Phillimore 592):

Christopher, by divine permission, Bishop of Lincoln, to our well-beloved and approved in Christ, A.B., greeting. We do by these presents grant unto you our commission to execute the office of a reader in the parish of C., within our diocese and jurisdiction, on the nomination of the reverend D.E., rector (or vicar) of the said parish; and we do hereby authorize you to read the Holy Scriptures, and to explain the same to the aged, sick, and such other persons in the said parish, as the incumbent thereof shall direct; (to read the appointed lessons in the parish church, and also) to read publicly in (the hamlet of F.) (or in the school room or other place approved by us) such portions of the morning or evening service in the Book of Common Prayer as we may appoint, and after such service (to expound some portion of Holy Scripture to those assembled, or) to read such godly homily or discourse as by the incumbent may be judged most suitable and edifying to their immortal souls. And we do hereby notify and declare that this our commission shall remain valid and have full force and authority until either it shall be revoked by us or our successors, or a fresh institution to the benefice shall have been made and completed, at and after which last-mentioned time it shall be competent for an application to be made to us or our successors for a renewal and continuance of this our present commission and authority. And so we commend you to Almighty God, whose blessing and favour we humbly pray may rest upon you and your work. Given under our hand and seal this etc. Cf. also resolutions of 16th May, 1884, 2 (above, note 3).

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nine articles and to the book of common prayer and of the ordaining of priests and deacons. If he is empowered to preach, such subscription is requisite according to law. Admission to office is through the bishop by delivery of a Bible, not by imposition of hands. The observance of this form, however, appears to be unessential from a legal point of view.


In several dioceses lay helpers' associations have been formed. These are voluntary unions whose members place themselves at the service of the parish priests for ecclesiastical and beneficent purposes, 10

§ 47.



Since the middle of the nineteenth century various deaconesses' institutions and sisterhoods have been formed, as also, somewhat later, brotherhoods. In 1891 the convocation of Canterbury laid down certain forms-the resolutions passed in one case by both houses, in the other by the upper only are not binding owing to non-observance of the submission act-to regulate the constitution of these associations and their place in the organization of the church.2

8 Canon 36 of 1865 (app. XII). Cf. resolutions of 16th May, 1884, 1 (above, note 3).-28 & 29 Vict. (1865) c 122 Clerical Subscription Act relates to preachers; it does not expressly name readers.

This usage rests on the agreement of the bishops and on the resolutions of 16th May, 1884, 3 (above, note 3). On the practice as to the ordinary lectors in the early centuries of the Christian era see Phillimore 590.

10 A list of lay helpers' associations will be found in the Church Year-Book, 1894, pp. 91 ff.

On the origin of such bodies (from 1847 onwards) see Perry, Hist. of Engl. Ch. III, 270 c 14 § 12. For a conspectus of the sisterhoods existing in 1892 and of the deaconesses' institutions (diocesan organizations) see Church Year-Book, 1893, pp. 132 ff., pp. 143 ff.

A. Upper and lower house of convocation agreed (1891) in the followingnot binding-resolution as to brotherhoods (Chronicle of Conv. Cant. 1891, Summary p. xvi) :— 1. That

the time has come when the Church can, with advantage, avail herself of the voluntary self-devotion of Brotherhoods, both clerical and lay, the members of which are willing to labour in the service of the Church without appealing for funds or any form of public support.

2. That a wide elasticity is desirable as to the rules and system of such Brotherhoods as may be formed in the several dioceses.

3. That such Brotherhoods should work in strict subordination to the authority of the Bishop of each diocese in which they are established or employed, and only on the invitation and under the sanction of the Incumbent or Curate-in-Charge of the parish.

4. That those who enter a Brotherhood should be permitted, after an adequate term of probation, and being not less than thirty years of age, to undertake lifelong engagements to the life and work of the com

The activity of the deaconesses is intended to be the same as that

munity, provided that such engagements be subject, on cause shown, to release by the Bishop of the diocese in which the Brotherhood is established. 5. That the statutes of the community should be sanctioned by the Bishop under his hand, and not be changed without his approval signified in like manner.

6. In every body of Statutes it is desirable that provision should be made for the exclusion of unworthy or inefficient members by the Brotherhood with the assent of the Bishop.

B. With regard to deaconesses' institutions and sisterhoods the resolution (not binding) of the upper house in 1891 was as follows (Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1891, Summary p. iii):—

That this House, recognising the value of Sisterhoods and Deaconesses and the importance of their work, considers that the Church ought definitely to extend to them her care and guidance.

I. Sisterhoods.

1. That those who enter a Sisterhood should be permitted, after an adequate term of probation, and being not less than thirty years of age, to undertake life-long engagements to the life and work of the community, provided that such engagements be subject, on cause shown, to release by the Bishop of the diocese in which the Sisterhood is established.

2. That the form of such engagements should be a promise made at the time of admission, before the Bishop or his commissary.

3. That the statutes of the community should be sanctioned by the Bishop under his hand, and not be changed without his approval signified in like manner.

4. That no statutes should contain any provision which would interfere with the freedom of any individual Sister to dispose of her property as she thinks fit.

5. That no branch house of a Sisterhood should be established, or any branch work undertaken in any diocese, without the written consent of the Bishop of such diocese.

6. That no work external to the community should be undertaken by the Sisters in any parish without the written consent of the Incumbent or Curate-in-Charge of such parish, subject, if that be refused, to an appeal to the Bishop.

II. Deaconesses.

1. That Deaconesses having, according to the best authorities, formed an order of ministry in the early Church, and having proved their efficiency in the Anglican Church, it is desirable to encourage the formation of Deaconesses' Institutions, and the work of Deaconesses in our dioceses and parishes.

2. That a Deaconess should be admitted in solemn form by the Bishop, with Benediction by laying on of hands.

3. That there should be an adequate term of preparation and probation. 4. That a Deaconess so admitted may be released from her obligations by the Bishop of the diocese in which she was admitted, if he think fit, on cause shown.

5. That no Deaconess should be admitted to serve in any parish without licence from the Bishop of the diocese given at the request of the Incumbent or Curate-in-Charge.

6. That the dress of a Deaconess should be simple, but distinctive. 7. That a Deaconess should not pass from one diocese to another without the written permission of both Bishops.

8. That special care should be taken to provide for every Deaconess sufficient time and opportunity for the strengthening of her own spiritual life.

of deacons in early Christian times, except that they are not to assist in celebrating divine worship. They devote themselves especially to the instruction of poor children and the tending of the sick. According to the resolutions quoted below, admission of deaconesses to office is to be by the bishop with benediction by laying on of hands. Before admission there is to be a period of probation. A deaconess may be released from her obligations by the bishop who admitted her. She shall exercise her office in a single parish under licence from the bishop, given at the request of the parish priest; in order to pass from one diocese to another, the permission of both bishops is required.

The sisterhoods and brotherhoods likewise devote themselves, in particular, to works of charity. The endeavour recently has been to give these associations more and more of a monastic character or at least the character of the Roman catholic congregations.' The resolutions would seem to sanction such endeavour. By them it is to be permissible for the brethren or the sisters, after the lapse of a due period of probation and after the attainment of thirty years of age, to undertake lifelong engagements from which they can only be freed by the bishop at his discretion. The individual sisters are to be allowed to dispose of their property as they please. Sisterhoods and brotherhoods are to work in the several dioceses only by consent of the bishops and in subordination to them. To work in the parish outside of their own communities the approval of the parish priest is needed, appeal to the bishop being, however, open if that approval is refused; brotherhoods must be invited by the parish priest to begin work in his parish, and must have his sanction to continue it.



THE office of churchwardens1 is first mentioned in the fourteenth century. These officers were laymen who were appointed in the

3 Civil courts would presumably not enforce the keeping of such life-long obligations, which are not reconcilable with modern notions of personal liberty.

The Latin designation is oeconomi.

On the earliest mentions see Smith, The Parish 2nd Ed. p. 69. According to Blunt, l.c. p. 255, note, the origin of the office dates from then because it was at that time (cf. e.g. const. of archbishop Gray of York, 1250, Wilkins I, 698; const. of Peckham, 1280, Wilkins II, 49 (on readings v. Martin, Regist. Epist. Peck., Rer. Brit. Ser. No. 77, vol. III pp. cxxxix ff.]; counc. of Merton, 1305, Wilkins II, 280) that the duty of repairing the nave and of furnishing the utensils for divine service finally settled on the parishioners. As far as investigation has hitherto been pursued the office of churchwardens is distinct in origin from that of synodsmen, the witnesses summoned to episcopal or archidiaconal visitation meetings; yet the two offices soon became closely connected

Blunt, The Book of Church Law Book IV, chap. 1.-Phillimore, Eccles. Law 1873 ff.-Prid. eaux. Humphrey, Directions to Churchwardens for the faithful discharge of their duty. 1701. 9th Ed. London, 1833, by Robert Philip Tyrwhitt.-Smith, Toulmin, The Parish 2nd Ed. pp. 68 ff.-Steer, Parish Law 5th Ed. pp. 96 ff.


several parishes 3 by their fellow parishioners to represent them in the duties of repairing the church and delivering the various objects required for divine service, and to exercise custody or guardianship of the church property. By degrees many other rights and duties became vested in them. In particular, owing to the legislation of the reformation period, they were engaged in such secular functions as the administration of outdoor relief; to them (with others) was conveyed the office of overseers of the poor.

Their position subsequently received attention in the canons of 1604,5 All churchwardens or questmen in every parish shall be chosen by the joint consent of the minister and the parishioners, if it may be but if they cannot agree upon such a choice, then the minister shall choose one, and the parishioners another.' The latter mode of appointment is now customary in most places; it or an analogous mode of procedure is statutably established in the case of new ecclesiastical parishes or districts. The canons of 1604 have not interfered with local customs fixing a different usage. After nomination churchwardens need formal admission by the bishop or the archdeacon.8 But such admission cannot, as a rule, be refused.9

and ultimately became fused. Smith, l.c. 69 ff.; Kennet, Parochial Antiquities Ed. 1818, II, 363 f.; Ayliffe, Parergon 515 f.; Gibson, Of Visitations 59 ff.; Gibson, Codex 2nd Ed. p. 960.


On sidemen cf. end of this §.-In the Latin canons of 1604 (cf. app. XII) in the heading of VI and in that of c 90 inquisitores and assistentes are identical, whilst in the text of cc 89 and 90 inquisitores oeconomi. In the English translation which appeared at the same time (Cardwell, Synodalia I, 245 ff.) on the one hand churchwardens and questmen, on the other sidemen and assistants are treated as identical.

3 The civil parish and the ecclesiastical parish coincided for administrative purposes. Cf. § 9 ".

4 Smith, l.c. 71 ff.

5 c 89 (append. XII).

658 Geo. III c 45 s 73 (one churchwarden to be chosen by the householders, resident in the new district, who are entitled to vote in the election of churchwardens); 1 & 2 Gul. IV c 38 s 16 (renters of pews), s 25 (vestry); 6 & 7 Vict. c 37 s 17 (inhabitants) ; 8 & 9 Vict. c 70 s 6 (householders), s 7 (renters of pews). According to Blunt, l.c. 259, the following are the principal customs of the kind: 1. In some large parishes in the north of England a churchwarden is chosen for each township of the parish; 2. In old London parishes both churchwardens are appointed by the parishioners; 3. They are sometimes appointed by the select vestry; 4. Sometimes by the lord of the manor; 5. In some few cases the incoming churchwardens are chosen by the outgoing ones.-By ordinance of the long parliament, 9th Feb. 1648, four, three, two or one substantial inhabitant or inhabitants are to be chosen yearly as churchwardens by the inhabitants of the parish, and are within one month after their choice to be allowed and approved by two of the nearest justices of peace. These churchwardens and the overseers of the poor are entitled to levy rates.

8 5 & 6 Gul. IV (1835) c 62 s 9 enacts that church wardens and sidemen are no longer required to take the oath which they formerly took on entering or quitting office, but before beginning to discharge their duties must make and subscribe, before the ordinary or other competent person, a declaration that they will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of their office.


Blunt, l.c. 261 f., Smith, l.c. 91. On the question whether acts done before declaration made are valid see the latter, as quoted.

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