« PreviousContinue »
king. He may grant special licenses to marry, and confer the degrees in the two universities.
Powers of a Bishop. Beside the administration of certain holy ordinances, he inspects the manners of the people and clergy, and may punish them by ecclesiastical censures. For this purpose he has several courts under him, and is expected to visit every portion of his diocese. His chancellor is appointed to hold his courts for him, and to aid him in matters of ecclesiastical law. He institutes all ecclesiastical livings in his diocese.1
Termination. Archbishoprics and bishoprics become void, by death, deprivation for crime, and resignation.
II. Dean and Chapter. These are the council of the bishop, to assist him with their advice in affairs of religion, and also the temporal concerns of the see. The word dean or decanus was derived from the party originally being appointed over ten canons or prebendaries.
Appointment. All ancient deans are elected by the chapter, under letters of recommendation from the king, in the same manner as bishops. The dean and chapter are the nominal electors of a bishop. Deaneries and prebendaries may became void, like a bishopric, by death, by deprivation, or by resignation to either the king or a bishop.
III. Archdeacon. His ecclesiastical jurisdiction is immediately subordinate to the bishop, who usually appoints him. He visits the clergy, and has a separate court for the punishment of offenders by spiritual censure, and for hearing all causes of ecclesiastical cognizance.
IV. Rural Deans. These are ancient officers of the church, but almost obsolete. They seem to have been deputed by the bishop, to inspect the conduct of the parochial clergy, to report dilapidations, and to examine candidates for confirmation.
V. Parsons and Vicars. A parson, persona ecclesiae, is one who has full possession of all the rights of a parochial church. By his person the church is represented, and he is in himself a body corporate, in order to 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 title “parson” is the most honorable title that a parish priest can enjoy.
1 A bishop has the powers: (1) Of ordination, and hence may confer orders. (2) Of jurisdiction in his see. (3) Of the administration of the reve
He consecrates churches, ordains priests, confirms, suspends, excommunicates, grants licenses for marriage and makes probate of wills.
Emoluments. A parson has, during his life, the freehold in himself of the parsonage, the glebe, the tithes and other dues. But these are sometimes appropriated, that is, the benefice is perpetually annexed to some spiritual corporation, either sole or aggregate, being the patron of the living. At the first establishment of the clergy, the tithes of the church were distributed in a fourfold division for the use of the bishop, for maintaining the fabric of the church, for the poor, and for the incumbent. When the bishops became amply endowed, they lost their share of the tithes. The portion given to the officiating priests was then diminished, and they were often almost compelled to ask alms for their support. This appropriation may be severed, as if the patron present a clerk, who is inducted to all intents complete parson. And when such clerk is distinct from the vicar, the rectory thus vested in him becomes what is called a sinecure, because he has no cure of souls, having a vicar under him, to whom that cure is committed.
Vicars. These 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 no more than a curate, and, therefore, as vicegerent was called vicarius or vicar. His stipend was at the discretion of the appropriator, and it became so reduced in amount, that the legislature was forced to interpose, and order that out of the appropriations, the bishop shall see that the vicarage shall be sufficiently endowed.
Parsons and Vicars. The distinction between a parson and vicar is this: the parson has for the most part the whole right to all the ecclesiastical dues in his parish, but a vicar has generally an appropriator over him, entitled to the best part of the profits, to whom he is in effect perpetual curate, with a standing salary. The method of becoming a parson or vicar is much the same. To both these, four requisites are necessary: holy orders, presentation, institution and induction. Any clerk may be presented to a parsonage or vicarage. A parson or vicar may cease to be: (1) by death, (2) by cession, in taking another benefice, (3) by consecration, when he is promoted to a bishopric, (4) by resignation, (5) by deprivation, such as attainder of treason or felony, or conviction of infamous crime; for heresy or immorality, also for neglect, simony and other causes.
VI. Curates. A curate is the lowest degree in the church, being in the same state that a vicar was formerly, an officiating minister, instead of the proper incumbent.
VII. Church Wardens. These are the guardians and keepers of the church, and representatives of the body of the parish. They are sometimes appointed by the minister and sometimes by the parish, and occasionally jointly. They have no interest whatever in the lands of the church. Their office is also to repair the church, and to make levies for that purpose, but they are recoverable only in the ecclesiastical court. They are also joined with the overseers in the care of the poor.
VIII. Parish Clerks and Sextons. These have freeholds in their offices, and though they may be punished, yet they cannot be deprived by ecclesiastical censure. They are generally appointed by the incumbent, but by custom may be chosen by the inhabitants.
CHAPTER XII.—THE CIVIL STATE.
Division. The laity may be divided into three distinct classes: the civil, the military and the maritime. We will first treat of the civil state.
What It Includes. The civil state includes all orders of men, from a nobleman to a peasant, that are not comprehended among the clergy, the military or the maritime. It consists of the nobility and the commonalty. All degrees of nobility and honor are derived from the king as their fountain, and he may institute what new titles he pleases. Hence all degrees of nobility are not of equal antiquity. They are dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons.
1. Dukes. A duke is the superior in rank of the nobility, though of less antiquity than some. He ranks next to the royal family. The name duces, signifies as among the Romans, leaders of armies. After the Norman conquest, the kings for many generations continuing dukes of Normandy, would not honor any subjects with the title of duke, till the time of Edward III, who claiming to be king of France, lost the ducal in the royal dignity. He created his son the Black Prince, duke of Cornwall, and many more of the royal family were afterwards raised to the like honor. In the reign of Elizabeth, the whole order became extinct, but it was revived by her successor, who created George Villiers, duke of Buckingham.
2. Marquises. This is the next degree of nobility. The office formerly was to guard the frontiers and limits of the kingdom, which were called the marches, from the word marche, a limit. These referred to the borders of Scotland and Wales, which were hostile. The persons who commanded there were called lords marchers or marquises, whose authority was abolished by Henry VIII.
3. Earls. This is a very ancient title. Among the Saxons they were called ealdormen, or elder men, signifying the same as the Roman senators. They were also called schiremen, because they had each the civil government of a shire. On the irruption of the Danes, they changed their name to eorles. In Latin, they are called comites, from being the king's attendants. After the Norman conquest, they were sometimes called counts, from the French, but they did not long retain that name, though their shires are called counties. The government of the county at the present time is devolved upon the sheriff, the earl's deputy or vice-comes. In writs or commissions, the king usually calls an earl his “trusty and well beloved cousin."
4. Viscounts. The name of vice-comes or viscount was made a title of honor by Henry VI, without any shadow of office pertaining to it.
5. Barons. This is the most general title of nobility, for originally every peer had a barony annexed to his other titles. They were probably the same with our present lords of manors, to which the name of court baron gives countenance. Originally all barons had seats in parliament, but the number had become so great in the reign of John, that a division was made, and only the greater barons were admitted, which gave rise to the separation of the two houses of parliament.
The Right of Peerage. The right of peerage was originally territorial, that is, annexed to lands, honors, castles and manors, the possessors of which were, in right of those estates, deemed peers of the realm, and were summoned to parliament. When the land was alienated, the dignity passed with it as appendant. But afterwards, when alienations were frequent, the dignity of the peerage was confined to the lineage of the party ennobled, and instead of territorial, became personal. Actual proof of a tenure of barony became no longer necessary to constitute a lord of parliament.
Mode of Creating Peers. Peers are now created by writ or patent. The creation by writ, or the king's letter, is a summons to attend the house of peers, by the style and title of that barony, which the king is pleased to confer; that by patent, is a royal grant to a subject of any dignity and degree of peerage. The creation by writ is the more ancient mode, but a man is not ennobled thereby, unless he actually sit in the house of lords. A person created by writ holds the dignity to him and his heirs, without words of that purport in the writ; but in letters patent, there must be words to direct the inheritance, else the dignity enures only to the grantee for life.
Privileges Connected with the Peerage. In criminal cases, a nobleman shall be tried by his peers. The great are always obnoxious to popular envy; were they to be judged by the people, they might be in danger from the prejudice of their judges, and could not be said to be tried by their equals, whichi is secured by magna carta. If a woman noble in her own right weds a commoner, she still remains noble, and shall be tried by her peers, but if she be only noble by marriage, then by a second marriage to a commoner, she loses her rank. A peer or peeress cannot be arrested in civil cases, and they have many privileges in judicial proceedings. A peer, sitting in judgment, gives his verdict upon his honor, not upon his oath, but when he is examined as a witness, he must be sworn. Slander against a peer is a greater offense than against other men. It is termed scandalum magnatum, and subjected to peculiar punishments.
Loss of Rank. A peer cannot lose his nobility, but by death or attainder. He cannot be degraded but by act of parliament.
1 This applies only to treason, felony and misprison of the same. In all misdemeanors, a peer is tried like a commoner, by a jury. Peers have no exemption from arrest for treason, felony or breach of the peace.