Diocesan Histories : Carlisle
Of the priors of Carlisle we know little; a careful examination of the local monastic chartularies would probably add some names to the list and transfer one or two to Lanercost. Among the deans the most celebrated have had little connexion with the city from which they took their name The deanery was secularised by Queen Elizabeth and for long was held by laymen; in the seventeenth century it was a stepping stone to other preferment, and if Dean Atterbury's name is associated with the Deanery of Carlisle, it is in connexion with the quarrels of which he was great part. Dean Percy is famed for his "Reliques of English Poetry." It is among the nineteenth-century deans that we find the most illustrious, - Milner, president of Queen's, Cambridge; Tait, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, and Close; these three in various ways, but particularly by their preaching and by their power of organising, did much to quicken religious life in Carlisle. There is no need here to further dilate upon such well known churchmen.
Among the list of chancellors of the diocese
which will be found in the county histories are some names which may be noted. Gregory
Scott, vicar of St. Michael's, Bongate, Appleby, was the first person in the diocese of
Carlisle to unite in himself the two offices of Official Principal and Vicar-General in
Spirituals, which were as early as 1570, granted to him by letters patent from Bishop
Barnes, who, probably, followed the form of letters patent under which he had himself been
appointed chancellor of York by Archbishop Grindal.3
These two offices together constitute the Chancellorship, which at first was only granted
by the bishops during pleasure. Bishop Meye in 1586 granted the chancellorship to Henry
Dethick for life, and the grant was confirmed by the dean and chapter: this practice has
been followed ever since. In 1622, Isaac Singleton was
"Lord, when we bend before Thy
Dr. Brown Grisdale next held the chancellorship, from 1804 to his death in 1814, when he was succeeded by his son-in-law, Walter Fletcher, vicar of Dalston and prebendary of York. On his death, in 1846, he was succeeded by Dr. Jackson, rector of Lowther, who retained it until 1855, when he vacated it on acceptance of the archdeaconry of Carlisle, which he vacated on becoming Provost of Queen's College, Oxford.
The Rev. C.J. Burton was appointed chancellor of Carlisle in 1855 by Bishop Percy, and retained the office until his death, in 1887, at the advanced age of ninety-five, with his intellectual faculties in no way impaired by his weight of years. No greater lawyer ever sat upon the bench, and some of his early judgements in matrimonial causes, before his court was deprived of the jurisdiction, are masterpieces, particularly his remarks on the mischievous results of the Scotch marriage laws so far as it affected the morality of the northern counties of England.6 His action had much to do with bringing about a great and beneficial change in the law.
On the death of Chancellor Burton the office was conferred by Bishop Goodwin, for the first time in its history, on a layman, who is, by the way, a native of and resident in the diocese. Advantage was also taken of the opportunity to put on a more usual footing the relations between the chancellor and the archdeacon of Carlisle, which had long been of an anomalous character.
For many years prior to 1887, under the supposed authority of letters patent granted him by the bishop, the chancellor of the diocese has cited the clergy and the churchwardens, and has held, from time to time, what of late has been called a visitation. The bishop, as a rule, has visited every third year, and has then inhibited both the archdeacon and the chancellor. The usual explanation given was that given by Chancellor Burn in his "Ecclesiastical Law" and his "History of Westmorland and Cumberland," namely, that the archdeacon had sold his visitatorial jurisdiction for a pension. The matter has been gone into most thoroughly by the present able and accurate holder of the dignity in his primary charge to the clergy and churchwardens or his archdeaconry. He explodes the notion handed down by chancellor Burn, and comes to the following conclusion:-
"The whole story seems to be perfectly plain. By a composition with the Bishop, the general or fixed Court of the Archdeacon was united with the Diocesan Court, the Archdeacon's power of Visitation and his Visitation Court being retained, and the money consideration for synodals, court fees and fines being paid to him by the Bishop. The difficulty both of travelling and of raising his Procurations became less frequent, and gradually fell into abeyance. Meanwhile, the Bishop's Official Principal held General Chapters, at different centres every year, for the correction of morals and other legal business. These General Chapters, in the years when the Bishop did not visit, assumed at length, in the last [18th] century, irregularly, the name and character of a Visitation, either from the Bishop or as inherent in the office of Chancellor."7
Various changes in the ecclesiastical law deprived the ecclesiastical courts of much, nay, of most of their jurisdiction.
"The result has been a gradual, but practical, extinction of the general archidiaconal court, though it still legally exists, and the reduction of the jurisdiction of the chancellor in the diocesan court to little more than the granting of faculties. The position, then, of the archdeacon of Carlisle, say some sixty years ago, was reduced to this, - the power of inducting clergy who had been instituted by the bishop, the right, not often exercised, of presenting candidates for ordination, and the occasional visiting of parochial churches."8
The addition of a new archdeaconry to the diocese in 1856 created further complication, and the two archdeacons of the diocese arranged with Chancellor Burton to hold visitations as his surrogate. On the resignation of Archdeacon Jackson in 1863, and the death of Archdeacon Evans in 1865, Chancellor Burton took upon himself the visitations in both archdeaconries. Legal procedings were commenced against him, but were not prosecuted to a decision: the question was allowed to slumber during the lifetime of Chancellor Burton. On his death, in 1887, Bishop Goodwin took all the steps in his power to make the jurisdiction of three of his archdeacons in all respects as in other dioceses, and modified the letters patent of the new chancellor by the removal of a clause as to synods and chapters, which had been relied upon as giving the chancellor power to hold visitations. The archdeacons held their first visitation in 1888.
The name of Paley sheds lustre on the archdeaconry of Carlisle, an office which has frequently been in the eighteenth century the stepping-stone to a deanery or bishopric, in three cases to the bishopric of Carlisle. The rectory of Great Salkeld was, from very early date attached to the archdeaconry of Carlisle, but when the archdeaconry was endowed with a canonry at Carlisle, the living passed into the patronage of the bishop under an Order in Council, dated May 1st, 1855. This Order saved the canonry in question from being suppressed by a bill introduced into parliament by the late Mr. Ferguson, of Morton, at the instigation of a large body of his constituents, who were desirous to devote its income in the augmentation of the poor livings in Carlisle. The bill was read a second time, when the bishop and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners intervened, bringing down on their heads the wrath of the Times.
The lists of the prebendaries of Carlisle include many names that have already been presented to notice as archdeacons, chancellors, deans, and bishops of Carlisle; others have found preferment elsewhere, like Sandys, in succession bishop of Worcester and London and archbishop of York; John Law, bishop of Elphin; George Law, bishop in succession of Chester and of Bath and Wells. The celebrated John Emamuel [sic.] Tremellius, professor of Hebrew at Cambridge, held a prebend at Carlisle in the sixteenth century. Arthur Savage, prebendary from 1660 to 1700, was a great benefactor to the chapter. Hugh Todd, in succession vicar of Stanwix, rector of Arthuret, and vicar of Penrith, is perhaps the best known of all the prebendaries of Carlisle; a man of great ability and scholarship, who has been handed down to fame by the many controversies he was mixed up in, some of which have already been alluded to. He was the compiler of sundry manuscript local histories, about whom there has always been a savour of mystery and controversy. He, Savage, and Bishop Smith founded the present chapter library at Carlisle. Joseph Hudson, prebendary from 1782 to 1811, was sprung from a family of statesmen (yeomen) near Caldbeck, and educated at Glasgow. As curate of Highhead, near Dalston, he took an active part in the great enclosures of the commons in Cumberland, and earned the name of the Pasture priest. His skill in decyphering ancient documents enabled him to render great assistance to the Duke of Portland in his celebrated litigation with Sir James Lowther, for which he was rewarded with the promise of an Irish bishopric, but this preferment he exchanged with Dr. John Law for a stall in Carlisle cathedral, and the vicarages of Newburn and Warkworth in Northumberland. Many stories are told of his eccentricities: he was ambitious of adding to his honours the archdeaconry of Carlisle, and employed all the political influence he could bring to that end. On hearing that Dr. Paley was appointed, the disappointed canon retired to his study and (so says his journal) prayed for the new archdeacon.
The prebendaries of Carlisle were at one time far from popular in their cathedral city: Whigs when the citizens were Tory, Tory when the citizens were Radicals, their meddling in the parliamentary elections, a pernicious legacy from Bishop Nicolson, was resented. Dean Tait put an end to the system, though Dean Close used now and then to urge his friends to vote for Sir Wilfrid Lawson. Better feelings prevail, and it will be long ere the good work done on the school board of Carlisle by the late lamented Canon Chalker will be forgotten in that City. Coming to the parochial clergy, allusion has already been made to the influence wielded by the Rev. John Fawcett, perpetual incumbent of St. Cuthbert's, Carlisle, far beyond that ever attained by any other incumbent in the diocese. Among the many earnest and generous lay churchmen in the diocese, the name of the late George Moore stands prominently to the front.
1. I gather these particulars from his
unpublished journals; he went in his coach and six with the posse comitatus to
confront the Highlanders in 1715, and when the Highlanders appeared, he was the only man
who refused to run. He was carried unwillingly off the field by his coachman.
Diocesan Histories : Carlisle,
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman