Page images

merely by the king's letters patent %. The chapter, consisting of canons or prebendaries, are sometimes appointed by the king, sometimes by the bishop, and sometimes elected by each other.

The dean and chapter are, as was before observed, the nominal electors of a bishop. The bishop is their ordinary and immediate superior; and has, generally speaking, the power of visiting them, and correcting their excesses and enormities. They had also a check on the bishop at common law: for till the statute 32 Hen. VIII. c. 28. his grant or lease would not have bound his successors, unless confirmed by the dean and chapterh,

DEANERIES and prebends may become void, like a bishoprick, by death, by deprivation, or by resignation to either the king or the bishop'. Also I may here mention, once for all, that if a dean, prebendary, or other spiritual person be made a bishop, all the preferments of which he was before posessed are void; and the king may present to them in right of his prerogative royal. But they are not void by the election, but only by the consecration j. .

III. An arch-deacon hath an ecclesiastical jurisdiction, immediately subordinate to the bishop, throughout the whole of his diocese, or in some particular part of it. He is usually appointed by the bishop himself; and hath a kind of episcopal authority, originally derived from the bishop, but now independent and distinct from his k. He therefore visits the clergy; and has his separate court for punishment of offendcrs by spiritual censures, and for hearing all other causes of ecclesiastical cognizance.

IV. The rural deans are very antient officers of the church', but almost grown out of use; though their deaneries still subfist as an ecclesiastical division of the diocese, or archdeaconry. They seem to have been deputies of the bishop, planted allround his diocese, the better to inspect the conduct of the parochial & Gibr. cod. 173.

Cro. Eliz. 542. 790. 2 Roll. Abr. 352. Co. Litt. 103

4 Mod, 200. Salk. 137. i Plowd. 498.

ki Burn. eccl. law. 68, 69. i Bro. Abr. f. presentation, 3. 61. 1 Kennet. par. antig. 633. B b 2


clergy,fo inquire into and report dilapidations, and to examine the candidates for confirmation; and armed, in minuter matters, with an inferior degree of judicial and coercive authority".

V. The next, ar i indeed the most numerous, order of men in the system of ecclefiaftical polity, are the parsons and vicars of churches: in treating of whom I thall first mark out the distinction between them ; shall next obferve the method by which one may become a parson or vicar ; shall then briefly

touch upon their rights and duties; and shall, lastly, shew · how one may cease to be either.

A Parson, persona ecclesiae, is one that hath full possession of all the rights of a parochial church. He is called parson, perPona, because by his person the church, which is an invisible body, is represented; and he is in himself a body corporate, in order to protect and defend the rights of the church (which he personates) by a perpetual succession". He is sometimes called the rector, or governor, of the church: but the appellation of parfon, (however it may be depreciated by familiar, clownish, and indiscriminate use) is the most legal, most bencficial, and most honourable title that a parish priest can enjoy; because such a one, (sir Edward Coke observes) and he only, is said vicem seu perfonam ecclefiae gercre. A parson has, during his life, the freehold in himself of the parsonage house, the glebe, the tithes, and other dues. But these are sometimes appropriated; that is to say, the benefice is perpetually annexed to some fpiritual corporation, either fole or aggregate, being the patron of the living; which the law esteems equally capable of providing for the service of the church, as any single private clergyman. This contrivance seems to have sprung from the policy of the monastic orders, who have never been deficient in subtile inventions for the increase of theirown power and emoluments. At the first establishment of parochial clergy, the tithes of the parish were distributed in a fourfold divifion; one for the use of the bishop, another for maintaining the fabrick of the church, a third for the poor, and the . Gibl. cod. 972. 1550. Co. Litt.. 300. .


fourth to provide for the incumbent. When the fees of the bishops became otherwise amply endowed, they were prohibited from demanding their usual share of these tithes, and the division was into three parts only. And hence it was inferred by the monasteries, that a small part was suflicient for the officiating priest; and that the remainder might well be applied to the use of their own fraternities, (the endowment of which was construed to be a work of the most exalted piety) subject to the burthen of repairing the church and providing for it's constant supply. And therefore they begged and bought, for masses and. obits, and sometimes even for money, all the advowsons within their reach, and then appropriated the benefices to the use of their own corporation. But, in order to complete such appropriation effectually, the king's licence, and consent of the bishop, must first be obtained : because both the king and the bishop may sometime or other have an interest, by lapse, in the presentation to the benefice; which can never happen if it be appropriated to the use of a corporation, which never dies: and also because the law reposes a confidence in them, that they will not consent to any thing that shall be to the prejudice of the church. The consent of the patron also is neceffarily im.. plied, because (as was before observed) the appropriation can be originally made to none, but to such fpiritual corporation, as is also the patron of the church; the whole being indeed nothing else, but an allowance for the patrons to retain the tithes and glebe in their own hands, without presenting any clerk, they themselves undertaking to provide for tile service of the church'. When the appropriation is thus made, the appropriators and their succeflors are perpetual parfons of the church; and must sue and be sued, in all matters concerning the rights of the church, by the name of parlons P.

This appropriation may be fevered, and the church become disappropriate, two ways: 2s, first, if the patron or appropriator presents a clerk, who is inflituted and inducted to the parfonage: for the incumbent fo instituted and inciucted is to all intents and purposes complete paríon; and the appropriation, being once levered, can never be re-united again, • Plowd. 496a goo.

Hob. 3o7
Bb 3


unless by a repetition of the same folemnities 9. And, when the clerk so presented is distinct from the vicar, the rectory thus vested in him becomes what is called a fine-cure; because he hath no cure of souls, having a vicar under him to whom that cure is committed'. Also, if the corporation which has the appropriation is dissolved, the parsonage becomes disappropriate at common law; because the perpetuity of person is gone, which is necessary to support the appropriation.

In this manner, and subject to these conditions, may appropriations be made at this day: and thus were most, if not all, of the appropriations at present existing originally made; being annexed to bifhopricks, prebends, religious houses, nay, even to nunneries, and certain military orders, all of which were spiritual corporations. At the dissolution of monasteries by statutes 27 Hen. VIII. c. 28. and 31 Hen. VIII. C. 13. the appropriations of the several parsonages, which belonged to those respective religious houf s, (amounting to more than one third of all the parishes in England ") would have been by the rules of the common law appropriated; had not a clause in those statutes intervened, to give them to the king in as ample a manner as the abbots, c, formerly held the fame, at the time of their diffolution. This, though perhaps scarcely desena vie, was not without example; for the same was done in former reizes, when the alien priories (that is, such as were filled by foreigners only) were dissolved and given to the crown And from these two roots have sprung all the lay appropriations or fecular parsonages, which we now see in the kingdom; they having been afterwards granted out from time to time by the crown".

These appropriating corporations, or religious houses, were wont to depute one of their own body to perform divine service, and administer the sacraments, in those parishes of which the society was thus the parson. This officiating minister was in reality no more than a curate, deputy, or vicegerent of the appropriator, and therefore called vicarius or vicar. His stipend was at the discretion of the appropriator, who was however bound of common right to find somebody, qui illi de temporalibus, epifcopo de spiritualibus, debeat respone dere W. But this was done in fo fcandalous a manner, and the parishes suffered so much by the neglect of the appropriators, that the legislature was forced to interpose: and accordingly it is enacted by statute 15 Ric. II. c. 6. that in all appropriations of churches, the diocesan bishop shall ordain (in proportion to the value of the church) a competent sum to be distributed among the poor parishioners annually; and that the vicarage shall be sufficiently endowed. It seems the parish were frequently sufferers, not only by the want of divine service, but also by withholding those alms, for which, among other purposes, the payment of tithes was originally imposed: and therefore in this act a pension is directed to be distributed among the poor pa, rochians, as well as a sufficient stipend to the vicar. But he, being liable to be removed at the pleasure of the appropriator, was not likely to insist too rigidly on the legal fulliciency of the stipend : and therefore by statute 4 Hen. IV. c. 12. it is ordained, that the vicar shall be a secular person, not a member of any religious house; that he shall be vicar perpetual, not removable at the caprice of the monastery; and that he shall be canonically instituted and inducted, and be sufficient. ly endowed, at the discretion of the ordinary, for these three express purposes, to do divine service, to inform the people, and to keep hospitality. The endowments in consequence of these itatutes have usually been by a portion of the glebe, or land, belonging to the parsonage, and a particular share of the tithes, which the appropriators found it most troublesome to collect, and which are therefore generally called privy or small tithes; the greater, or predial, tithes being still reseryed to their own use. But one and the same rule was not observed in the endowment of all vicarages. Hence some are more liberally, and some more fcantily, endowed: and hence the tithes of many things, as wood in particular, are in some parishes rectorial, and in some vicarial tithes.

q Co. Liit. 46.

• 2 Inst. 584. " [ Sine-cures might also be created by u Sir H. Spelman (of rithes, C. 29.) other means. 2 Burn. eccl. law. 347. says, there are now called impropriations,

& Seld. review of tith. c.9. Spelin, as being improperly in the hands of layApology. 35.



w Seld. tith. c. II. 1.

Bb 4


« PreviousContinue »