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§ 56.

The houses of laymen.

From the year 1886 there has existed in close connexion with the convocation of Canterbury, but not as a part of it, a house of laymen. The members are elected by the lay members of the diocesan conferences,' whilst the archbishop of Canterbury may further name at most ten members. The summoning of a house of laymen was the result of a series of deliberations and resolutions of convocation, culminating in the resolution of 7th and 8th July, 1885.3 Accord


stress is laid on the following: the declaration made on behalf of Elizabeth in the house of commons on 22nd May, 1572: Her Highness' Pleasure is, that from henceforth no Bills concerning Religion shall be preferred or received into this House, unless the same should be first considered and liked by the Clergy. (D'Ewes, The Journals of all the Parliaments during the Reign of Elizabeth, London, 1862, p. 213); the attempted recurrence in 1661 of the house of commons to the second prayer-book of Edward VI, which had been accepted both by the commons and by convocation, instead of to the later book of Elizabeth, accepted only by parliament (cf. Perry, Hist. of Engl. Ch. II, 496, note 1, c 32 § 16); the parliamentary resolution (mentioned in § 54, note 67) of 1689; a resolution of the house of commons in 1710 to pay all regard to the house of convocation in matters ecclesiastical (cf. Perry II, 577 c 39 § 1; Phillimore 1932); lastly, the express mention in the preambles to a number of statutes (recently, for instance, in 35 & 36 Vict. c 35 An Act for the Amendment of the Act of Uniformity; not, however, in 34 & 35 Vict. c 37 Prayer-Book, Tables of Lessons, Act) of previous discussion by convocation.

The Public Worship Regulation Act of 1874 (37 & 38 Vict. c 85) was adopted without consultation of the convocations and in spite of the fact that the lower house of Canterbury had expressly declared its disapproval of the bill (Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1874, pp. 125, 126, 199, 228). Opposition to the provisions of the act when passed was offered by some of the clergy. Perry, Hist. of Engl. Ch. III, 482 ff. c 28 §§ 12 f.

1 Cf. § 57, near notes 12 ff.

Proposals of lower house of Canterbury on Lay Co-operation' in append. to Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1872. Resolution of lower house of Canterbury, 27th April 1877, in Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1877, pp. 157, 165. Amending resolution of upper house of Canterbury, 4th July, 1884 in Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1884, Summary xlvi.


Upper house and lower house of Canterbury in agreement passed on 7th and 8th July, 1885, the following (not binding, cf. § 55, note 24) resolution (Chron. of Conv. Cant. 1885, Summary pp. xxx f.):—

1. That it is desirable that a House of Laymen, being communicants of the Church of England, be formed for the Province of Canterbury, to confer with the members of Convocation.

2. That the Members of the House of Laymen be appointed by the Lay Members of the Diocesan Conferences of the Province, and that they continue to hold their seats until the dissolution of Convocation next ensuing.

3. That ten Members be appointed for the diocese of London; six for each of the dioceses of Winchester, Rochester, Lichfield, and Worcester; and four for each of the remaining dioceses.

4. That additional Members, not exceeding ten, be appointed by his Grace the President (i.e. the archbishop of Canterbury), if he see fit. 5. That the House of Laymen be in all cases convened by his Grace the President.

6. That the said House be convened only and sit only during the time that Convocation is in Session, and be opened by his Grace the President.

ing to this resolution the house of laymen should be an assembly to assist the archbishop in questions on which he may desire its counsel. All matters usually discussed in convocation, excepting only 'the definition or interpretation of the faith and doctrine of the Church,' are to be in its province. It is, however, to be observed that the resolution, the provisions of the submission act not having been complied with, is not a canon, and is thus not binding on any one, and, in particular, neither on the archbishop nor on the house of laymen.

In the province of York a house of laymen met first in 1892.4

§ 57.


In the Anglo-Saxon period the holding of a diocesan synod once in the year is apparently required, and sometimes taken for granted.1

7. That the said House may be requested by his Grace the Presi dent to meet in conference the Members of the Upper and Lower Houses of Convocation upon such occasions and at such place as his Grace the President may think fit.

8. That the subjects on which the House of Laymen may be consulted shall be all subjects which ordinarily occupy the attention of Convocation, saving only the definition or interpretation of the faith and doctrine of the Church.

9. That his Grace the President, in opening the House of Laymen, or at any other time in their Session may lay before them any subject (with the limitation provided in Resolution 8) on which he desires their counsel, and that the results of all the deliberations of the said House on any subjects, whether thus referred to them or originated by themselves, be communicated to the President.

10. That if the above Resolutions be adopted by Convocation a Joint Committee of both Houses be appointed to confer with any Committee that may hereafter be appointed by the House of Laymen, in order to frame such rules and orders as may be found necessary.

Provided that nothing in this Scheme shall be held to prejudice the duties, rights, and privileges of this Sacred Synod according to the laws and usages of this Church and realm.

Journ. of Conv. York, 1892, p. 79; Church Year-Book, 1893, p. 367.

One diocesan synod in the year is mentioned in can. sub Edgaro (circ. 960; Wilkins, Conc. I, 225) c 3: And we laerap þaet hi to aelcon sinope habba aelce geare becc and reaf to godcundre penunge, and blaec and bocfel to heora geraednessum, and reoro daga biwiste. (“And we teach that they [the servants of God] should have for every synod each year books and clothes for God's service and ink and parchment for their resolutions and provisions for three days.")

c 3:

Councils of Pincahala and Celchyth, 787 (Haddan and Stubbs, Counc. III, 449) perstrinximus, omni anno secundum canonicas institutiones, duo concilia et unusquisque Episcopus parochiam suam omni anno semel circumeat; diligenter conventicula per loca congrua constituendo,

Cf. the works cited in § 54, note a II.-Gibson, Of Visitations Parochial and General. London, 1717, pp. 57 ff.-Pound, William. The ancient practice and proposed revival of diocesan synods in England; a Paper London, 1851.

Nevertheless, in the face of the few accounts of such synods preserved, it would seem doubtful that they were held so regularly. At the diocesan synod presented themselves, apparently without any sharp separation, all the clergy who laboured in the diocese under the bishop, especially after the establishment of numerous ministers in fixed parishes, the parish priests. Besides holding diocesan synods, it was the duty of the bishops to traverse their districts annually in order to administer their sees, hold divine service and visit offences by the imposition of ecclesiastical penances.3 In the later middle age as a rule we find mention in England of yearly diocesan synods; the constant visitations by the bishop of


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omni anno in synodalibus conventibus ab Episcopis singularum ecclesiarum presbyteri de ipsa fide diligentissime examinentur]. The duo concilia mentioned in c 3 are frequently referred to diocesan synods. But on comparison with the regulation in c 1 it seems more probable that in c 3 provincial synods are meant. The heading of c 3: Ut Episcopus bis in anno synodum cogat was added by Spelman.

On the continent diocesan synods are first mentioned at the end of the sixth century; there yearly session was at that time prescribed. They subsequently fell into decay in the empire of the Franks; in the ninth century, however, attempts were made to revive them and the holding of two annual gatherings was now sometimes prescribed. From the eleventh century onward now one, now two diocesan synods have been ordained. Hinschius, Kirchenrecht III, 583 ff. A reference to the canons such as is found in counc. of Pincahala and Celchyth c 3 occurs in the conc. Tolosan. 844, where the allusion is without doubt to diocesan synods: Ut episcopi synodos a presbyteris, nisi sicut docet auctoritas canonum, duos scilicet et per tempora constituta, non exigant.

2 Cf. Poenitentiale Theodori (probably end of 7th cent., Haddan and Stubbs, Counc. III, 173 ff.) lib. II c 2 § 3: Episcopus non debet abbatem cogere ad synodum ire, nisi etiam aliqua rationabilis causa sit.-Council of Clovesho, 747 (Haddan and Stubbs III, 363) c 25: Ut Episcopi a synodo (the archiepiscopal synod) venientes in propria parochia cum presbyteris, et abbatibus, et praepositis conventum habentes, praecepta synodi servare insinuanda praeci piant, Norohymbra preôsta lagu (probably about 10th cent.) c 44: Gif preôst sinôð forbûge, gebête paet. ("If a priest evades a synod let him do penance for that.")

3 Annual visitation of the diocese is, for example, prescribed in the council of Clovesho, 747 (Haddan and Stubbs, Counc. III, 363) c 3: ut singulis annis unusquisque episcopus parochiam suam pertransiendo, et circumeundo, speculandoque visitare non praesideat, populumque diversae conditionis ac sexus per competentia ad se convocet loca, aperteque doceat, utpote eos qui raro audiunt verbum Dei, prohibens, et inter caetera peccamina, paganas observationes

Councils of Pincahala and Celchyth, 787, c 3 (see note 1); constit. of archbishop Odo, 943 (Wilkins I, 212) c 3: episcopi suas parochias omni

anno cum omni vigilantia praedicando verbum Dei circumeant.

Cf. from later times (1433) Lyndwood, Book I, tit. 14, p. 68 [to const. Bonif. episcopi in suis synodis et aliis convocationibus], gloss to aliis convocationibus: Quas ex variis causis facere potest Episcopus, viz. propter subsidium Charitativum exhibendum; propter visitationem exercendam; item propter praedicationem verbi Dei; et in aliis quae variis de causis possunt occurrere.

Wilkins, Concilia I, 365 gives from different MSS. two separate series of capitula ascribed to the council of Winchester, 1076, one of them (according to MS. C.C.C. Cambridge 190) perhaps rather belonging to a council of Windsor. In one series c 4 runs: Quod episcopi bis concilia celebrent per annum. In the other c 13 runs: Quod quisque episcopus omni anno synodum celebret.

his diocese and the meetings held by him on such occasions in the several parishes gradually ceased, probably owing to the fact that about the time of the Norman conquest the division of the bishoprics into archdeaconries and rural deaneries called into existence supervisors resident in the districts so formed. The annual visitation. now became the duty of the archdeacons, probably also, in part, of the rural deans. But in so far as the bishop still retained competence, the business of the old visitations was transacted at the diocesan synod. As the latter in this way served the purpose of an united visitation assembly, it also became entitled a 'general visitation.' The development which took place in England in this respect seems to have corresponded closely with that on the continent. At this period, too, all the clergy of the diocese were obliged to appear at the diocesan synod. With them attended also lay representatives from the parishes, testes synodales or synodsmen, whose duty it was

Lyndwood, Book I, tit. 14, p. 68 [to const. Bonif. episcopi in suis synodis et aliis convocationibus], gloss to synodis: Hae dicuntur conventus sive congregationes senum et Presbyterorum, et (with reference to Decretals of Greg. IX [lib. Extra] V tit. 1 c 25) debent fieri per Episcopos annuatim. Const. of archbishop Peckham, 1281: quod jurent decani (rurales) se fideliter facturos in episcopali synodo omni anno. (Wilkins, Concilia II, 57.)

Two diocesan synods were to be held, e.g. in the diocese of Durham according to the constitutions of the bishop of Durham, 1312 (Wilkins, Concilia II, 416) c 3: decrevimus, quod bis in anno de caetero, proximis videlicet diebus Lunae post festum sancti Michaelis, et octabis Paschae, synodus annis singulis in dicta nostra ecclesia perpetuis temporibus celebretur

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5 In the 13th cent. the kings sometimes forbade the bishops to summon the laity to visitation assemblies. Cf. the answer of the king to the complaint of the clergy (circ. 1245? Cole, Documents 356) Art. 13: Si fuerint aliqui specialiter nominati quorum testimonio indigeat judex ecclesiasticus ad hoc ut in foro ecclesiastico justicia vel correctio fiat, non impediuntur Prelati per Regem neque per alios auctoritate ipsius, verumptamen si ad conventicula magna vocantur liberi vel servi non videtur Regi aut proceribus hoc esse tolerandum cum ad eos et non ad alios pertineat hujusmodi convocacio laicorum, veluti ad Prelatos convocacio Clericorum. Et insuper Rex et proceres tempore hujusmodi convocacionum servicio et obsequio tam liberarum personarum quam servilium carerent, quod eis invitis auferre non possunt Prelati Prohibition of a certain king Edward, time unknown (§ 60, note 79). Cf. also const. of archbishop Boniface at the council of Lambeth, 1261 (Wilkins, 1.c. I, 751) Evenit etiam interdum, quod cum praelati ecclesiastici, ex officii sui debito, de morum disciplina, peccatis, et excessibus subditorum inquirunt, dominus rex, caeterique magnates et aliae potestates seculares et milites officia impediunt eorundem, personis laicis inhibendo, ne ad mandatum patrum et praelatorum spiritualium de veritate dicenda subeant juramentum ;

. statuimus, quod laici ad praestandum hujusmodi juramentum per excommunicationis sententiam compellantur

• Cf. § 42, note 11 and § 43, note 3.


Cf. on the continental development Richter, Kirchenrecht §§ 150, 173. According to Wilkins, Concilia, vol. I, Introduct. p. 7 there were present at the diocesan synod all holders of benefices tam regulares quam abbates et monachi, archdeacons, priests, vicars and chaplains. Const. of bishop of Durham, 1312 (Wilkins, Conc. II, 416) c 3: Quodque omnes abbates, priores, archidiaconi, praepositi, rectores, vicarii, et capellani parochiales civitatis et dioecesis Dunelm. et alii, qui tenentur synodo hujusmodi interesse de consuetudine, vel de jure, intersint synodo personaliter,

to make presentments of offenders, clerical or lay, in their parishes.9 There grew up in England even before the reformation the custom that the bishop should make personal visitation of his diocese every three years.10


With the reformation the holding of diocesan synods fell almost wholly into disuse; only in isolated cases did such meetings take place. In the nineteenth century likewise, the summoning of diocesan synods was at first of exceptional occurrence. When, however, the convocations had resumed their activity, development took a new direction. The idea of reviving the old diocesan synods, which, as the earlier practice of inviting the laity had become obsolete, had represented only the clergy, was abandoned; but an effort was made to establish regular meetings of the clergy and laity in each diocese. The first such assembly was at Ely in 1864. Since then the institution has been gradually adopted in almost all the bishoprics, under the name of diocesan conferences. Their statutes are not quite uniform. For the most part the conferences are voluntary undertakings, for which the countenance of the heads of the church is sought, but which are in a legal sense independent of them; on the other hand, in some cases the diocesan conferences have been founded by the competent ecclesiastical power 13 and are consequently, in the eye of the law, authorities of the established church. In addition to the diocesan conferences


Lyndwood (above, note 4) congregationes senum et Presbyterorum. the testes synodales cf. § 48, note 2.-On the appointing of special laymen in the several rural deaneries or parishes to make reports to the ecclesiastical authorities cf. constitutions of archbishop Edmund of Canterbury, 1236 (Wilkins, Conc. I, 635) c 21: Sint autem in quolibet decanatu duo vel tres viri qui excessus publicos praelatorum, et aliorum clericorum, ad mandatum archiepiscopi, vel ejus officialis, ipsis denuncient.-Const. of archbishop Chichele, 1416 (Wilkins, l.c. III, 378): singuli confratres nostri suffraganei, singulique archidiaconi per se aut suos officiales sive commissarios inquirant, ac in singulis decanatibus singulisque parochiis, in quibus fama est haereticos habitare, tres vel plures boni testimonii viros, ad sacra Dei evangelia jurare faciant, ut reticos .. in scriptis denuncient, 10 Legatine council under Pole (Wilkins IV, 121; promulgation in Feb. 1556) c 12: placuit, ut episcopi et alii locorum ordinarii dioeceses et loca sibi commissa juxta antiquam hujus regni consuetudinem saltem singulis triennis per seipsos, sin autem legitimo aliquo impedimento detineantur, per idoneos substitutos visitent.--Can. 60 of 1604 (appendix XII) lays down that the bishop should hold a confirmation at his triennial visitation, as was already the custom.

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11 Prideaux, Churchwardens 9th Ed. p. 178, for instance states that in the diocese of Norwich since 1641 there had been held annually assemblies which he terms diocesan synods, the clergy of Suffolk meeting at Ipswich, those of Norfolk at Norwich.-It is sometimes maintained that the cessation of diocesan synods was connected with the act of submission. So Kennett, Eccles. Synods 201, who adds that after the repeal of the act in Mary's reign several bishops again held diocesan synods. On the question whether the act applies to such synods see § 54, note 56.


E.g. one was summoned at Exeter, 1851 (Perry, Hist. of Engl. Ch. III, 285 ff. c 15 § 11), at Lincoln, 1871 (Perry, l.c. III, 421 c 24 § 6).

13 So, e.g. in Lincoln. Perry, l.c. III, 421 c 24 § 6.

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