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VISITATIONS are of two kinds, diocesan and archidiaconal.
“In early times the visitations as well of bishops « as of archdeacons b
were made from parish to parish, and the burden of receiving the ordinary on his circuit fell upon the parochial clergy. The causes which brought about the change from parochial to what may be called synodical visitations were chiefly these : first, to relieve the clergy of poorer churches of the burden and cost of receiving the ordinary; and next, to relieve the visitors also, when by the great enlargement of the church a yearly visitation in each several parish became a severe task. Thenceforward the clergy were cited to meet at certain places in every diocese, bringing with them the churchwardens, and certain other men of kı own characters, as witnesses (testes synodales) of the condition of their parishes. This change was the more readily made because it was the custom for the BISHOP to hold his SYNOD twice, and the ARCHDEACON his CHAPTER four times, or even oftener, in every year.
And it had been the custom before the change was brought about, to hold sometimes a CHAPTER and a PAROCHIAL VISITATION on the same day and at the same place ;8 and for that reason the two concurrent functions of the ORDINARY more readily coalesced into one SYNODICAL act. In his VISITATIONS, the subject of his inquiry was the state of the church, and buildings belonging to it: the vessels, books, vestments, and other furniture : the state of morals, and the observance of the ritual and canons : in the SYNODS and CHAPTERS his office was either legislative and judicial, as in the person of the BISHOP; or judicial only, as in the case of the ARCHDEACon. And hence it followed that the VISITATIONS assumed a twofold character ;' and that of the ARCHDEACON partook of the nature of an inspection and a chapter: the same twofold functions are contained in them, and in some sort exercised, even to this day; the clergy and churchwardens, cited together, forming the Court of the visitation ; the clergy afterwards assembled by themselves, forming the CHAPTER of the archdeacon : the appearing of the clergy, and the exhibiting the articles and presentments by the churchwardens, forming the business of the visitation ; and any subjects relating to the pastoral ministry on which the clergy may desire to confer, forming the business of the chapter.
a Concil. Cloves, Can. iii. Wilkins's Concilia. tom. i. 95. Concil. Calcyth. iii; ibid. 147. Constit. Othon., xxii.; ibid. 654; and Gibson's Codex, 957, 8, note c.
b Const. Othon. xx. Wilkins i. 654.
e Archbishop Theod., canons 7. Wilkins, tom. i. 43. Archbishop Zouch. Constit. Johnson's Canons, 1347.
f Archbp. Mepham, viii. Johnson's Canons, 1330, n. r. “ Item statuimus, quod Episcopi in suis Synodis, et aliis conventionibus, et singuli Archidiaconi in suis Capitulis, &c.” Constit. Boniface, Lyndwood, p. 68. On these words Lyndwood observes, “ Nota bene proprietatem terminorum: nam Episcopis tribuit Synodos, Archidiaconis vero Capitula.”
& Constit. Steph. Lyndwood, 220, and note v.
h “Instead of a visitation, the archdeacon, by himself or his official, at two of his chapters held about Easter and Michaelmas, made an inquiry into the circumstances of every parish, and continues to do so; and this inquiry began at last to be called a visitation,” &c. “ And as the archdeacon held this capitulum or chapter, and visitation as it is now called, at the same time; so the bishop held bis diocesan synod and visited at once.” Johnson's Vade Mecum, vol. i. 167.
i Wilkins's Concilia, ii., 150. 1. Lyndwood de Off. Archid. 42.
kLyndwood, 51, note k, “ In hoc loco non solum Archidiaconi procedunt ut inquisitores, sed ut judices,” &c. Also p. 54, note c.
“In looking back on the history of these conventions of the church, we cannot fail to be impressed with the strength and stedfastness of her unwritten usages ; for these visitations stand upon the common law of England, and have their legal authority in immemorial custom. It is a prevalent but inexact mode of dividing the several parts of law to speak of common and ecclesiastical as two distinct kinds. It would be more true to distinguish laws as unwritten or common law, and written or statute law; and to comprehend among unwritten laws all immemorial customs, whether the matter of them be civil or ecclesiastical ;' and among the written, all statutes of parliament and canons of the church which, by incorporating with statutes, have become written law in these realms.” We meet, therefore, “not by voluntary compact, or by a mere rule of ecclesiastical propriety, but in obedience to the most peremptory canons of the church embodied in the unwritten law of England.”*
By the 137th canon, it is enjoined, “ Forasmuch as the chief and principal cause and use of visitation is, that the bishop, archdeacon, or other assigned to visit, may get some good knowledge of the state, sufficiency, and ability of the clergy, and other persons whom they are to visit ; we think it convenient that every parson, vicar, curate, schoolmaster, or other person licensed whatsoever, do at the bishop's first visitation, or at the next visitation after his admission, shew and EXHIBIT unto him his letters of orders, institution, and induction, and all other his dispensations and licenses, or faculties whatsoever, to be by the said bishop either allowed, or, if there be just cause, disallowed and rejected; and being by him approved, to be, as the custom is, signed by the registrar; and that the whole FEES accustomed to be paid in the visit
1 Ayliffe's Parergon, vol. ii. 515. m Bishop Stillingfleet on the antiquity and legality of archdeacons' visitations. “Usu et consuetudine, the archdeacons have proper and ordinary jurisdiction, &c.
And by virtue of this they keep courts, appoint officials, and visit churches within their jurisdiction. And that such authority had here in Eng. land appears, in the time of Henry III., by several passages in Matthew Paris, and the councils of that time; so that this kind of jurisdiction is within the liberties of the church confirmed by magna charta: for the jurisdiction and visitation of archdeacons is set down in the council at London, 21 Henry III." Miscell. Disc., p. 250.
Bishop Stillingfleet on the Foundation of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction. Ecclesiastical Cases, vol. ii. pp. 37, 38, 39.
Charge by Archdeacon Manning, 1841, p. 5–9.-Murray.
ations in respect of the premises, be paid only once in the whole time of every bishop, and afterwards but half of the said accustomed fees in every other visitation during the said bishop's continuance.”
None but the bishop, or other person exercising ecclesiastical authority by commission from him, hath right de jure communi to require these exhibits of the clergy; therefore, if any archdeacons require it, it must be on the foot of custom. (4 Burn's Eccl. Law, 19.)
Every spiritual person is visitable by the ordinary. The ordinary has also power of correction of a parson ; every hospital, if spiritual, is visitable by the ordinary. (Godolph. Abrid. 34.)
By a constitution of Othobon, concerning archdeacons, it is ordained, that they visit the churches profitably and faithfully; by inquiring of the sacred vessels and vestments, and how the service is performed, and generally of temporals and spirituals : and what they shall find to want correction, that they correct diligently.
By a constitution of archbishop Reynolds, it was enjoined that archdeacons and their officials, in the visitation of churches, have a diligent regard to the fabric of the church, and especially of the chancel, to see if they want repair, and if they find any defects of that kind, limit a certain time under a penalty, within which they shall be repaired.
Lindwood observes, that from this constitution it might be inferred that the archdeacon's OFFICIAL may visit, which he says is not true, at least in his own right; but he may do this in the right of the archdeacon, when the archdeacon himself is hindered. (Lindw. 53.)
By a constitution of archbishop Langton, archdeacons, in their visitations, are to see that the offices of the church are duly administered, and shall take an account in writing of all the ornaments and utensils of churches, and of the vestments and books, and shall require them to be presented before them every year, that they may see what has been added and what lost. (Lindw. 50. 4 Burn's Eccl. Law, 17.)
One of the duties to be performed at visitations is, for the churchwardens of parishes to make their PRESENTMENTS. This is enforced by an express canon of the year 1571. The presentments are required to be made on oath, and the church wardens cannot legally refuse it. (Gibs. Cod. 1001 ; 3 Keb. 126, 205; 1 Vent. 127; Ayliffe Parer. 170.)
No FEE can be demanded from church wardens for swearing them in or taking their presentments. (Hardres Rep. 364. Goslin v. Ellison, 1 Salk, 330.)
Dr. Ayliffe observes on the sixth book of the Decretals, that amongst the orders to be observed by the archbishops, bishops, and others in their visitations, the first is that they ought to preach the word of God, by giving the congregation a sermon. (Ayliffe Parer. 515.) This duty is generally devolved upon some other clergyman. It is doubtful, however, whether it be compulsory on a clergyman to preach on such occasions, though “it is presumed very few would refuse to discharge the offices of their function on the like occasion at the request or intimation of their superior.” (Burn's Eccl. Law, iv. p. 19.) A Charge is usually delivered by the bishop or archdeacon at the visitation.
Though it is obligatory on all the clergy, cited, to appear at the visitation, there does not appear to be any necessity to stay and hear the Charge.*
PROCURATIONS. In all visitations of parochial churches made by bishops and archdeacons, the law hath provided that the charge thereof shall be answered by the procurations, then due and payable by the inferior clergy; these are not paid by any certain rule, but by some ancient taxation ; and the word "procuration" hath its derivation from the duty incumbent, on the party visited, in “procuring” the necessary accommodations. Anciently the religious houses and clergymen at their own charges entertained the bishops and archdeacons in their visitations, but at length their attendants were so many, and their trains so great, that it gave occasion to some general as well as provincial canons and constitutions, in order to put some limit to this expense, but, in order to avoid it altogether, the religious houses and clergy came to a composition, every one to pay a fixed and definite sum to their visitors in order to be freed from so great an oppression. This payment is made not only by such livings as belong to the clergy, but also by those which are impropriations, whether there be a vicarage endowed or not, for perpetual curacies are visitable ; it is also saved by the statute 31 Henry VIII., and confirmed by the statute 34 Henry VIII., and remedy given them with costs, both in the spiritual court and at common law. (Degge. 283; Godolph. Abr. 67; 1 P. Wms. 661.)
There are payments called PROXIES, and it is said there are three sorts of procurations or proxies, ratione visitationis, consuetudinis, et pacti, the first of which is of ecclesiastical cognisance, but that the last two are triable at law. (Hardr. 180.) It is said, however, that procurations are only suable in the spiritual court, being merely an ecclesiastical duty. (1 Ld. Raym. 459 ; 1 P. Wms. 661.)
If there be a parsonage and vicarage endowed, only one is to pay procuration ; custom or the endowment is to determine which. Donatives pay no procuration, not being within the visitation of the ordinary; nor free chapels for the same reason. If there be a parsonage, with a chapel depending upon it, and both in the parson's care, no procuration is to be paid for the chapel. (Degge, 283; Godolph. Abr. 70; Lindu. 223.)
Churches newly erected are to be rated to procurations according to the proportion paid by neighbouring churches. (4 Burn's Eccl. Law, 31.)
THE office of RURAL DEAN seems to have originated with the Saxons ; but it is said, by Lindwood, to be of a temporary nature, and therefore the seals which they had for the due return of citations, and for the dispatch of such business as they were employed about, had only the name of the office, and not (as other seals of jurisdiction) the name of the person also engraven upon it. (2 Burn's Eccl. Law. 124 ; Ayliffe Parer. 206.)
* Letter of the Bishop of Lincoln to Rev. C. Hodges, Doncaster Gazette, July 23, 1841.
In the provincial synod of convocation held at London, 1571, it was ordained, that the archdeacon, when he hath finished his visitation, shall signify to the bishop what clergymen he hath found in his deaneries as well endowed with learning and judgment as to be worthy to instruct the people in sermons, and to rule and preside over others. Out of these the bishop may choose such as he will have to be rural deans.”
When they are deputed by the bishop, they may exercise all the power which, by canon and custom, resided in the said office before the reformation.
The little that remains of this dignity and jurisdiction depends now upon the custom of places, and the pleasure of diocesans. (Ken. Par. Ant. 652 ; Godolph. Abr. Ap. 7 ; 2 Burn's Eccl. Law, 125.)
In 1711, amongst other things which the convocation was directed to inquire into, was, “how rural deans might be made more effectual.” (Burnett's Hist. own Times, 4 vol. 264.)
The following is the usual FORM OF APPOINTMENT to the ofice of Rural Dean :
(“L. S.”) John, by divine permission, bishop of LINCOLN, John Lincoln. to our wellbeloved brother in Christ, A. B., clerk,
M.A., vicar of C., in the county of D., and our diocese of Lincoln, greeting : Whereas it hath been represented to us by the archdeacons of our diocese of Lincoln, that, for the purpose of enabling them more effectually to execute the duties of their office, it is desirable that we should revive the ancient use of rural deans; we, therefore, confiding as well in your zeal for the glory of God, and the good of his Church,
as in your prudence and discretion, do, by these preDeanery of
sents, constitute and appoint you to be rural dean of a certain district within the archdeaconry of E., and
our diocese aforesaid ; which district comprises the - including parishes specified in the margin of this commission;
and we will and desire, that in executing the duties
in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and and of our consecration the
Instructions to be observed by the Rural Deans in the
Diocese of The rural dean is required to visit once every year, or oftener if needful, the several parishes within his deanery;* and to make an
* His own parish will be considered as under the immediate superintendence of the archdeacon.