33. Bill on Church Reform read twice in the House of Lords.[1]

[House of Lords' MSS. First reading July 1, second reading July 3, 1641.[2] See Fuller, Church History, ed. Brewer, vi. 188; Hist. of. Engl. ix. 409.]

An Act for the better regulating of Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Canons and Prebends, and the better ordering of their revenues, and for the better governing of the Courts Ecclesiastical and the Ministers thereof, and the proceeding therein.

Whereas the preaching of God's Holy Word hath of late years been much neglected in several places, and to the end that Archbishops and Bishops may from henceforth give good examples to others in Holy Orders, by doing their duties in their own persons for the better instruction of the people committed to their charge, His Majesty, out of his abundant goodness and religious care of the souls of his people, is graciously pleased that it be enacted, and by the authority of this present Parliament be it enacted, that every Archbishop and Bishop, being under the age of seventy years, and not being hindered by sickness and being within his diocese, shall from henceforth, from and after the first day of January now next ensuing, upon every Lord's Day throughout the year, preach in some one Cathedral Church, Parish Church or public Chapel, upon pain to forfeit the sum of five pounds for every default therein, to the use of the poor of the same parish where the said Archbishop or Bishop shall then be, where he make such default, and of the poor of the four parishes thereunto next adjoining, the same to be levied of the goods of every such offender by distress and sale thereof, and rendering the overplus to the owner thereof, by warrant of any one Justice of the Peace next or near adjoining to the place where such offence shall be committed, to be directed to the constable, churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the said several parishes and every of them. And to the intent that the said Archbishops, Bishops and all other persons now or at any time hereafter being in Holy Orders, may not be hindered to discharge their duties in the office of the Ministry by intermeddling with secular affairs: be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no Archbishop, Bishop, Parson, Vicar or other person whatsoever, that hath received or at any time hereafter shall receive any degree in Holy Orders with cure of souls, shall at any time from and after the said first day of January have any suffrage or vote, or use or execute any power or authority in the Court usually called the Star-Chamber, nor shall have any suffrage or voice, or use or execute any judicial power or authority in any other temporal Court whatsoever; nor shall be any Justice of Peace, nor use nor execute the office of a Justice of the Peace by virtue or colour of any statute, commission, charter or otherwise within the kingdom of England or dominion of Wales; nor shall have or enjoy any judicial room or place in any of the said Courts, nor shall execute any commission that shall issue from any standing temporal Court whatsoever; nor shall be of the Privy Council of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, but shall be wholly disabled and incapable to have, receive, use or execute any of the said offices, places, powers and authorities aforesaid. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all acts from and after the said first day of January which shall be done or executed by any Archbishop, Bishop, Parson, Vicar or other person whatsoever in Holy Orders, and all and every suffrage, vote and voice to be given or delivered by them or any of them, contrary to the purport and true meaning of this present Act, shall be utterly void in law to all intents, constructions and purposes; and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any Archbishop, Bishop, Parson, Vicar or other person whatsoever in Holy Orders from or after the said first day of January, shall give his or their votes, suffrage or voice, or shall do or execute anything prohibited or forbidden by this Act, contrary to the true intent and meaning thereof, shall for the first offence forfeit and lose so much money as shall amount unto the full and true value of one whole year's profit and benefit of all his and their spiritual and ecclesiastical livings, benefices, dignities and promotions whatsoever, the same to be recovered in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record by action of debt, bill, plaint or information by him or them that will sue for the same, in which suit no essoine, protection, wager of law, aid, prayer, privilege, injunction or order of restraint, nor any more than one jmparlance shall be in anywise prayed, granted, admitted or allowed, the one moiety whereof to be unto our Sovereign Lord the King, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to him or them that will sue for the same. And if any Archbishop, Bishop, Parson, Vicar or other person whatsoever, once convict of any offence concerning the premises or against whom any such recovery shall be had as aforesaid, shall therein offend again or shall thereafter do anything contrary to the true intent and meaning of this law, and shall be thereof duly convicted by indictment, information or any other lawful ways or means, then such party shall from and after such conviction, forfeit and lose, and be incapable to hold all and every the spiritual and ecclesiastical livings, benefices, dignities and promotions which he shall then have, and be from thenceforth utterly disabled to have, receive, take or enjoy any the same spiritual or ecclesiastical livings, benefices, dignities or promotions whatsoever; and that all the spiritual and ecclesiastical livings, benefices, dignities and promotions which he shall have at the time of such conviction[3], shall be to all intents, constructions and purposes utterly void. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no lapse shall incur against the patron or such person as ought to present unto, collate or dispose of all or any such spiritual or ecclesiastical benefices, livings, dignities or promotions until six months after notice given by the Ordinary of the Diocese within which such spiritual or ecclesiastical living, benefice, dignity or promotion shall be, unto the patron or other person that ought to present thereunto, or collate or dispose thereof. And be it likewise further provided and enacted, that this Act, or any clause or thing therein contained, shall not extend unto the exercise of any jurisdiction, power or authority within either of the two Universities or the liberties thereof, nor unto any person or persons being or who hereafter shall be in Holy Orders, and who is or hereafter shall be a Duke, Marquis, Earl, Viscount, Baron or Peer of this kingdom by descent, nor unto the exercise of any the power of a Justice of Peace at any time heretofore given by any Act of Parliament to the Dean of Westminster within the liberties of Westminster, at Saint Martin's Le Grand in London.

And to the end that Archbishops and Bishops within their several dioceses may have such assistance as may hereafter tend and be for the better execution of their said offices and places, be it therefore enacted by the authority aforesaid, that within every shire or county of each several diocese within the kingdom of England and dominion of Wales there be nominated, in such manner as is hereafter expressed, twelve ministers being in Holy Orders, and being fit both in respect of their life and doctrine, to be assistants to every such Archbishop and Bishop, together with the Dean and Chapter of each several diocese, in conferring of Holy Orders and in the exercise and administration of ecclesiastical jurisdiction, and for such other purposes as be hereafter declared; and that none of the said Archbishops or Bishops at any time from henceforth shall confer any Holy Orders upon any person or persons without the presence and approbation of four of the said assistants at the least; and that none of the said Archbishops or Bishops, or any Dean, Archdeacon, Chancellor, Commissary, Official, Surrogate or other person having or exercising any ecclesiastical jurisdiction within any of the dioceses aforesaid, or within any places of peculiar or exempt jurisdiction whatsoever, shall pronounce any sentence of degradation, deprivation or suspension against any minister or other person in Holy Orders, or any sentence of excommunication or absolution of or against any person whatsoever, or shall proceed to the final sentence of any cause whatsoever depending in any of their several Courts, or to the sentence or taxation of costs or charges of suit, or to the making of any request or instance to any ordinary or superior Judge to hear or determine any cause depending before them without the presence and approbation of two or, at the least, of one of the said assistants next dwelling; and that the said assistants shall from time to time be nominated or chosen in manner following, that is to say: before the said first day of January four of them by the King's Majesty, his heirs or successors, under the sign manual; four other of them by the order of the Lords in Parliament assembled, and the other four by the order of the House of Commons in Parliament assembled; and upon the death or removal of any of the said assistants out of any of the shires or counties in the several dioceses aforesaid respectively, such other person or persons shall be named in their stead and to supply their rooms, as by His Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall be nominated and appointed in like manner as is aforesaid, which said assistants and every of them respectively, shall from time to time hereafter give their personal attendance in and for the due execution of the trust by this Act in them reposed, at each public Ordination within each several diocese, and at such other times when any such sentence, or any such taxation of costs, or any such act for request or instance shall be made as is aforesaid, upon sufficient notice to be given or left at their several dwelling-houses by the known apparitor of any such Archbishop or Bishop by the space of fourteen days next before any meeting shall be had for any of the purposes aforesaid; and if any such assistant, having such notice as is aforesaid, shall fail to appear at the place so intimated unto him as is aforesaid, that then the said assistant for every such default shall forfeit 10, to be levied by distress and sale of the goods of every such offender (rendering to every such offender the overplus) to the use of the poor of the parish where such assistant shall be then dwelling, by warrant from any Justice of the Peace next or nigh adjoining to the said parish, to be directed to the constable, churchwarden or overseer of the same parish or any of them, unless the said offender shall have such reasonable excuse for his said default as shall be allowed by the said Archbishop or by the Bishop of the same diocese and the said then other assistants respectively, or the greater number of them, within three months next after any such default. And be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all sentences and other of the acts of Courts aforesaid, which at any time hereafter shall be sped, pronounced, declared or made in any other manner than is by this present Act appointed, shall be utterly void to all intents and purposes; and that all and every Archbishop, Bishop and other the ecclesiastical Judges aforesaid, which shall speed, pronounce, declare or make any of the said sentences or acts of Court, or which shall confer any Holy Orders otherwise than as by this Act is limited and appointed, shall ipso facto be suspended from the exercise of their said respective places, offices and functions by the space of one whole year next ensuing every such offence, and shall forfeit for every such offence the sum of 100, to be recovered by bill, action, plaint or information by any person that shall sue for the same in any of His Majesty's Courts of Record, in which no wager of law, essoine, protection, privilege, injunction or order of restraint, nor any more than one imparlance shall be admitted or allowed, the one moiety of the said forfeiture to be to such person or persons as will sue for the same, and the other to be employed to and for the relief of the poor of the parish where the said offence shall be committed.

And that from henceforth such persons may be preferred to be Archbishops and Bishops which shall be of the best integrity of life, soundness of doctrine and fitness for government, be it therefore enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that upon every avoidance of any of the Archbishops or Bishops aforesaid at any time hereafter to be made, the Dean and Chapter of each several diocese respectively, and the said assistants of all the shires and counties within the said diocese, so to be named as is aforesaid, or the greater number of the said Dean, Chapter and assistants then living within twenty days next after every such avoidance, shall, by a writing under their hands and seals, recommend and present to His Majesty, his heirs or successors, the names of three persons in Holy Orders within the same or any other of the said dioceses, whom in their judgments they shall hold fit and worthy for so great a function; and that thereupon His Majesty, his heirs or successors, shall and may be pleased by his or their Letters Patents, under the Great Seal of England, to nominate one of the said three persons to be Archbishop or Bishop of the see so respectively being void; and if the same be a Bishopric which shall be so void, that then the nomination by His Majesty, his heirs or successors, to be as aforesaid made, shall be made to the Archbishop of the Province within which the see of the said Bishopric shall happen to he; and if it shall be an Archbishopric which shall be so void, that then every such nomination shall be made to the other Archbishop or, in his vacancy, to four such Bishops within this realm of England as shall be thereunto appointed by His Majesty, his heirs or successors; and that with all convenient speed, after every such nomination to be made as is aforesaid, the said Archbishop or four Bishops, to whom the same shall be made as is aforesaid, shall invest and consecrate the said person so nominated to the said Archbishopric or Bishopric so being void; and that every person hereafter being so nominated as aforesaid to any Archbishopric or Bishopric, and so invested and consecrated and receiving their temporalities out of the hands of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, and taking their oath and making their homage as in such case is now accustomed, shall and may from thenceforth be installed and have and take their restitution out of the hands of His Majesty, his heirs or successors, of all the possessions, rents and profits belonging to the said Archbishopric or Bishopric whereunto they shall be so nominated as is aforesaid, and shall he from thenceforth enabled fully and to all intents and purposes to do, execute and perform all and every thing and things in the present Act expressed and declared to be done by every such Archbishop and Bishop respectively, and in such manner as in and by this present Act is expressed, limited and appointed, and also to do all such other thing or things as any Archbishop or Bishop of the same see might lawfully do before the making of this present Act; and if the said Dean, Chapter and assistants shall defer or delay such their nomination and presentment of the names of the said three persons longer than by the space of twenty days next after the avoidance of any such Archbishopric or Bishopric as is aforesaid, that then upon every such default the King's Majesty, his heirs and successors, at their liberty and pleasure, shall and may nominate and present any such person as they shall think fit, as if this present Act had not been made, anything herein to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. And for every such default the said Dean and Chapter and assistants, or such of them as shall be in such default as is aforesaid, shall forfeit the sum of 100 to be recovered by bill, action, plaint or information by any person that will sue for the same in any of His Majesty's said Courts of Record, in which no wager of law, essoine, protection, privilege, injunction or other order of restraint, nor any more than one imparlance shall be admitted or allowed, the one moiety of the said forfeiture to be to such person or persons as will sue for the same, and the other to be employed to and for the use of such Commissioners as shall be hereafter nominated by this present Act for the buying in of impropriations.

And to the intent the revenues of Deans and Chapters and of all Cathedrals and Collegiate Churches may be better employed for the good of the Church and advancement of religion, and that the Deans, Canons, Prebendaries and Residentiaries may not themselves live idly during the time of their residencies, but spend their times for the instructing of the people, well ordering of the Church, and good example of other Ministers; be it further enacted, that all Deans and Chapters, and Residentiaries and Prebendaries in Cathedral or Collegiate Churches, that hold any living or livings with cure of souls, shall so dispose of their time of residency in the said Cathedral or Collegiate Churches, as that they shall not severally and respectively spend more time in their said residence than sixty days in one year, all local statutes of the said Churches to the contrary notwithstanding; and that they shall likewise preach or provide to be preached two sermons upon every Lord's Day, the one in the forenoon and the other in the afternoon, and one upon every Holy Day, and one Lecture upon every Wednesday, for which they shall pay to the Lecturer one hundred marks per annum at the least, in every one of the said Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, upon pain and penalty of 100 to the King upon every default, and to be suspended from the profit of their places for one whole year, and the profit of that year to be employed to raise a stock for the poor of that city or town, where such Cathedral or Collegiate Church is situate. And further, that when any Archbishop, Bishop, Dean, Dean and Chapter, or any other Dignitary or Prebendary of any Cathedral or Collegiate Church, Master, Fellows and Scholars of any College in either University or elsewhere in the kingdom of England, shall take a fine or sum of money for the renovation or letting of any lease belonging to any of their several corps or the communalty of their Church or College, or shall increase the rent upon any such lease, they shall lay aside one-fourth part of that fine or sum of money, and of that increase of yearly rent, for the buying in of impropriations of parsonages or vicarages or portions of tithes now made lay fees, all such sums of money to be delivered into the hands of so many able Commissioners as shall from time to time be nominated by the orders of both Houses of Parliament, in every shire or county of England and Wales, for the collecting and receiving of the said money, and for the purchasing and bringing in of such impropriations, when the money shall arise to a sufficient sum for such an employment, and that such fine shall not be agreed or concluded of between the lessors and lessees, or any other on their behalf, without the approbation of three of the said Commissioners under their bands in writing.

And be it further enacted, that every impropriation or parsonage or vicarage or portion of tithes now impropriate, shall by due course of law, upon the purchases thereof, be made disappropriate and annexed to the Church, and made presentative for ever, without any license of mortmain to be obtained for the same; and that the said Commissioners shall present a Clerk for the first time: the Archbishop, Bishop, Dean, Dean and Chapter (wherein these Dignities and Prebendaries are endowed), as also the Master, Fellows and Scholars of the said Colleges from whom those sums of money are received respectively, shall ever after the first time severally and respectively present or nominate such Clerks as shall have and receive the benefit thereof. And it is further provided and enacted, that of the sum remaining of any fine or sum of money received by or from any of these persons, bodies or corporations before mentioned, for any lease or increase of rent upon any impropriate rectory belonging to any of the said Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Dignities, Prebendaries, Masters, Fellows and Scholars of any of the said former Colleges, one-tenth part of the remaining fine shall be duly paid unto the Vicar or Curate (where no vicarage is endowed) that dischargeth the cure of the said impropriation, until the same shall be reunited and annexed to the Church, and be employed for the use and benefit of that minister who shall officiate the cure; and if any of the said Archbishops, Bishops, Deans, Deans and Chapters, Dignities, Prebendaries, Masters, Fellows and Scholars of any of the said Colleges, or any of them shall defraud or fail to pay unto the said Commissioners, or the said Vicars respectively, the said several apportioned fines and sums of money, the same being lawfully demanded at the two usual feasts of the year, the one of St. Michael the Archangel and the other of the Annunciation of Our Lady, all persons and corporations so offending shall forfeit unto the said Commissioners and Vicars respectively three times the value of that fine or sum of money so detained or not justly and duly paid, the same to be recovered by the Commissioners and Vicars respectively in any Court of Law or Equity.

Be it likewise enacted, that every Residentiary or Canon of any Cathedral or Collegiate Church, that hath a living with cure of souls, shall pay unto his Curate that preacheth and officiates that cure at or upon that living for his hire or his wages (over and besides his ordinary entertainment for the other part of the year), a proportion of the moiety of the value of that benefice, be it more or less, for that time of the year wherein such Prebendary, Residentiary or Canon liveth at the Cathedral Church, and is non-resident from his parsonage or vicarage; and that every Parson or Vicar that hath two or more livings with cure of souls, shall maintain upon that living on which he doth reside, an able minister and preacher, that shall preach twice every Lord's Day, and shall pay unto him for his entertainment a full moiety of the profits of the said benefice for the time he doth not reside thereon, first-fruits, tenths and subsidies being first deducted.

And for the better regulating of Ecclesiastical Courts, which are now an extreme grievance and vexation to the common people of England, be it enacted, that no citation shall at any time hereafter issue forth against any of the King's subjects, without the articles and libel be first left in Court ready to be showed and delivered to the party cited, under pain of suspension ab officio et beneficio in both the Judge and Registrar; and that no cause hereafter be proceeded in against any of the King's subjects ex officio mero, but both the Judge and Registrar shall be liable to pay the costs and double damages to the party so proceeded against, in case the cause be not confessed or proved against him; and further, that none of the King's subjects hereafter be put to accuse themselves by or upon their own oaths in any criminal cause whatsoever in any of the said Courts Ecclesiastical, unless it be voluntarily taken by them to clear themselves from a fame, thereby to satisfy the Church or Congregation; and that the defendant being cited, shall answer within twenty days after the day assigned for his appearance, and the agent and defendant shall examine all their witnesses in that cause, which they mean to produce upon the articles, libel and interrogatories, or other proofs and evidences, within four months then next following, or else the defendant to be dismissed and have costs paid unto him, her or them, for their unjust vexation. And to avoid that dilatory and vexatious course yet in use, it is further enacted, that no exceptions be admitted against witnesses, but either for some matters appearing of record in one of the King's Courts, or for some matters proved against or confessed by the party produced in some Ecclesiastical Court before that time, whereby it shall appear that such witness is a party interested in the cause, or a person to whose testimony credit is not to be given; and that causes in this Court may come to a speedier end than heretofore, be it further enacted, that if any cause be protracted so that it be not ended within one twelve-month after the first beginning of the suit, then at the end of the year the defendant shall be dismissed with his costs, to be paid, the one half by the plaintiff, and the other by the Judge and the Proctor for the agent or plaintiff in that Court, unless they shall show unto the Bishop of the diocese, with the attestation of one or more of the assistants, that the defendant did wilfully hinder the same, in which case the Bishop, with two or more assistants, shall order according to reason and justice.

And to avoid the excessive number of Proctors and Apparitors in Courts Ecclesiastical, be it farther enacted, that the Bishops and six of the assistants shall name the number and also the choice of the Proctors and Apparitors in their several dioceses respectively, that are to plead and serve in all the several Ecclesiastical Courts within this kingdom, and that no Judge, Proctor or Registrar shall suffer any suitor, plaintiff or defendant, to go upon trust for their fees in any cause of instance, under pain of suspension from their places for one year for every time so offending; and that the Proctor shall have no fee allowed him at the taxation but for those days only wherein he doth plead or defend actually, and not for desiring continuance of days; and whereas there are now, by reason of unnecessary appeals, four or five instances or processes in all or most causes and proceedings ecclesiastical, to the great vexation and undoing of the plaintiff and defendant, and the apparent wrong and scandal of all inferior judicatories, Bishops, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, be it enacted, that from henceforth there shall lie from the first ecclesiastical Judge in the cause, be he Dean, Archdeacon, Prebendary, Official, Commissary, Chancellor, or of any other title whatsoever, assisted as is before required, but two appeals only, one to the Bishop of the diocese, who shall not hear the same otherwise than accompanied with six of the said assistants at the least, so to be nominated as aforesaid, and then from the Bishop so assisted to the King's Majesty's delegates only and immediately, amongst the which the Archbishops of Canterbury and of York, with respect to the causes arising from their several provinces, shall be always in every Commission, and of the quorum in ferenda sententia, in all causes wherein the appeal lieth not from their own sentence, and all other appeals from the several dioceses to the Arches or audience to be from henceforth utterly abolished as an intolerable vexation to the subject — and altogether unnecessary; which Courts of Arches and audience are by virtue of this Act utterly suppressed and made void as concerning appeals from inferior Courts; and the Lord Keeper for the time being is hereby required to be very careful what persons he doth nominate for Judges delegates in this high and supreme Court in causes ecclesiastical, which care hath hitherto been much neglected.

Lastly, because the Church of England hath now lived under no certain ecclesiastical laws, but in an interim only, from the 25th of Henry VIII to this present, by reason that the persons for the purging of the ecclesiastical laws and the squaring of them to the common laws of the realm have not as yet met together, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that sixteen persons, to be named, six by the King's Majesty, five by the House of Lords, and five by the House of Commons respectively, understanding in both the laws, do presently meet, and taking the form begun by Doctor Haddon into their consideration, reduce by their general assent, or by the assent of the major part of them, all the canon laws of use and practice within this kingdom into as short a body and digest in the English tongue as well can be, so as they may be understood as well by the Bishops, Deans, Archdeacons, and Prebendaries, as also by the rest of the King's liege people, and may be more ascertained in matter and form, and receive the allowance of the King and the Parliament.

[1] Indorsed 'The Bishops' Bill. Hodie 1[d] vice lecta est Billa, I[o] Julii, 1641. 2[d] vice lecta est 3[o] Julii, 1641. Committed to the whole House.'

[2] Fuller says that the bishops and divines, directed by the lords ' to consult together for correction of what was amiss ' in the Church ' and to settle peace,' of which John Williams, Bishop of Lincoln, was chairman, considered four subjects: — Innovations in doctrine; innovations in discipline; the Common Prayer; and regulation of government. Their proposal on the latter head, he says, ' was not brought in, because the Bishop of Lincoln had undertaken the draft thereof, but not finished it.' Fuller seems to have been mistaken, as the Bill here given was certainly brought into the House of Lords, and can hardly be other than that proposed by Williams.

[3] Convention in MS.


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