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Parish Churches were not so numerous as afterwards. See Bp. Stilling. Eccl. Cases, p. 145.
The Norman Bishops did by degrees let Archdeacons into a considerable Share of that Bufi. ness, which before was thought peculiar to themselves, and the Chore-episcopi, (which last Officers are now universally laid alide ;) and the Visitation of every particular Church being a Business that requir'd much Time, and Travelling, this was chiefly left to the Archdeacon.
The Bishops did indeed, long after this, per fonally visit Monasteries, Collegiate, and other Churches within their jurifdi&ion, that were capable of entertaining their Retinue, in which there was not less than Twenty or Thirty Hor. fes and Men, so many the Canon allow'd every Bishop in his Visitation, but as for the lesser, and more remote Parish Churches, they visited them only (as they now do) by summoning their Incumbents, and other Clergy men, and credible Witnesses out of every Parish, to some convenient Place, at a reasonable distance from their Home: And of thefe credible Persons en. quiry was made upon Oath concerning the ftate of the Church, Parsonage House, 8c. Lyndw. in cap. Statuimus;v. Viros fide dignos.
Anciently Bishops took more Time to make their Visitations in, and when they visited a Rural Deanry, cited not above four Churches to one Place, in one Day, and in each Parish fix or eight, to answer to such Interrogatories as should be put to them, that the Bishop might have an exact understanding of his Diocefe. But now the Manners of the Clergy and Laity being so much mended, fifty or fixty Churches
can be dispatch'd in one Day, since most of the Church wardens return Omnia bene.
And 10 generous were the English Bishops in the Time of Atbon* the Gloflator, in the 13th Century, that they demanded no Procurations from their Clergy, when they visited them in this manner ; tho' fome Lawyers, it should feem, were of Opinion that they were due. See Conjt. Otbob. Naturalis, in Gloff.
Joh. de Athon, the Gloffator, liv’d in the 141h Century; be was Prebendary of Lincoln, and Doctor of Laws, as himself says, in the Preface to bis Ĝlolle. Bale and Pits léd Dr. Duck into the Error of his being tbat Magifter Atto, Clerk to Cardinal Otho, wko (we find in Grofthead Epift. 74. in Fascicnl. rer. expetend. Vol.2.) was commended to a Prebend in the Church of Lincoln, in the 13th Century, whose Name they Say was A&on, and corruptly called Athon. But upon perusal of the Registry at Lincoln, 1 find that one Joh. de Athon was admitted Prebendary tbere, 1329. Regift. Burghersh. and that be bad a Commission to take an Accaunt of the Admini. stration of Hen.de Maimesfeld, late Dean there, 1347. And that he was Prebendary of Welton Rival in tbat Cathedral, and died about 1351. Regift. penes Decan. & Capit. Linc.
In bis Glof. printed at Oxford, p.129. ke calls Vene. rabilem patrem dominum Joh. de Stratford Do. ĉtorem suum nuper Winton. Episcopum, jam vero Cantuariensem, (whicb John Stratford was Archdeacon of Lincoln, while he was Prebendary there) which shows the Gloffator liv'd not in the 137b, but in the 14th Century.
There was the less occasion for Bishops to visit every single Church in Person, when the Archdeacons were obliged to do it once in three Years, and might visit every Year, and cftner if there was a necefhty. Pro.L.T. 10. Glof.ino, Vifitatione. A most pious and excellent Discipline ; which if it had been kept up, Churches and Parsonage Houses bad been in much better Condition, than now they are in many places.
And there was no great danger of their being too frequent in their Visits, lince all the Advantage they receiv’d by it, was, that they them. selves, with five, fix, or at most seven Horses and Men, were modestly entertain’d by the Incumbent of the visited Church : The Entertainment was called a Procuration: Or if the Incumbent thought fit, he gave 75. and 6 d. in lieu of the Entertainment; viz. Is. 6 d. to the Archdeacon himself; Is, to each of the other fix: And if the Archdeacon visited inore than one Church in the same Day, he could receive no more than 75. 6 d. of all the Incumbents, whose Churches were that Day visited. See the Constitut. of Archbishop Stratford, Prov. L. 3. Tit. 22. Quamvis Lex.
Farther, There were several Canons made, that “no Procuration should be paid to the 66 Archdeacon, if he did not visit in Person; " that if he sent his Official, nothing should be "given but an Entertainment, or a moderate so Compensation for it,” And Archbishop Lang. ton,
tho' he had an own Brother for his Arch. deacon, yet made an excellent Constitution for the keeping up this Personal Visitation, ending thus: Let them (the Archdeacons, not presume
to take a Fee for not Visiting. L. 1. T. 22. C. ut fingula.
However, by degrees, in most places, by general content, ihese Fees were paid, notwith. standing this Confiitution; and instead of a Visitation, the Archdeacon by himself, or his Official, at two of his Chapters, held about Easter and Michaelmas, made an Enquiry into the Circumstances of every Parish, and continues fo to do; and this Enquiry began at last to be called a Visitation, and these Fees, Procurations.
And as the Archdeacon held this Capitulum, or Chapter, and Visitation, as it is now called, at the same time ; so the Bishop held his Diocesan Synod, and visited all at once : From whence 'tis, that Procurations are sometimes called Synodals. These Synodals may now in some places be due to the Archdeacon, by Compofi. tion with the Bishop. Gudolph. cap. 9. secz. 8. For Bifhops too have, for many Ages, received these Synodals or Procurations : but now these hillemblies are only to make Enquiry into the Neglects of Clergy and People ; and it often happens, that both Bishop and Archdeacon hold these Allemblies in the same Year, and both have Procurations paid thein : Of which fee Lyndw. in Gloff. ad L. 3. T. 22. ubi supra, v. Visitatione.
But it must be acknowledg'd, that these Payments are for the most part very moderate; and that a Personal Visitation from the Archdeacon once in three Years, would be a greater Expence to the Clergy, if they were every one to entertain him and his Retinue a Day and a Night, as of old, than is now paid to him in lieu of Procreations, in three Years time.
It is said by some, that Procurations are due to the Archdeacon yearly, tho' he do not Vilit; because by the 33 Hen. VIII, cap. 5. they feem to be made Pensions, where paid by Impropria. tors : And from hence they infer, that they are not now due, Ratione Visitationis, but by A& of Parliament. Godolph. cap. 9.
Sir Simon Degg labours hard to prove, that Archdeacons have no Right to Procurations that Year the Bishop Visits. Pars. Counsel. L. 2. 6.15. And yet if the Law allow that to be a Visitas tion, which is now commonly so called ; and if there be no Canon forbidding the Archdeacon to visit the fame Year, after the Bishop's Inhibition is relaxed, (and I declare I know of none) then why inay not the Archdeacon Vifit the láme Year; and if Visit, why not receive Procurations ?
CH A P. XVIII.
their Visitations suminon'd credible Persons out of every Parish, to give an Account upon Oath of the Condition of their Church and Parish ; but by degrees this Care was devolvert on the Church-Wardens, which were standing, Officers long before chosen in every Parish, thus