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On the Civil Disabilities of the Scottish Episcopalians.

Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1861.

IN 1610, after Scotland had been for a time under a semi-Presbyterian church government, James the First of England (Sixth of Scotland), having resolved to reestablish a genuine Episcopacy in his Scottish dominions, issued a Commission under the Great Seal, for the consecration of certain persons to be bishops in Scotland. Under this Commission there were consecrated an Archbishop of Glasgow, and Bishops of Brechin and Galloway.

Episcopacy fell with royalty and at the Restoration it was found necessary, when Charles II. resolved to reestablish Episcopacy in Scotland, to apply once more to England for an Episcopal succession, the bishops formerly consecrated, and their successors, having all died during the period of Cromwell's power.

Accordingly, in the year 1661, there were consecrated in London an Archbishop of St Andrews, an Archbishop of Glasgow, and a Bishop of Galloway and a Bishop of Dunblane.

[4] From these archbishops and bishops so consecrated, the bishops now ruling in Scotland, and all the Episcopal clergy of Scottish ordination, hold their office and characters as genuine ministers of the Church of Christ in communion with the Churches of England and Ireland.

Faithful in her allegiance to the line of her ancient kings, the Episcopal Church in Scotland experienced the vicissitudes and shared the misfortunes of the later princes of the House of Stuart. Conspicuous by their devotion to the cause of Charles Edward, the Episcopalians in Scotland drew down upon themselves, in 1745, the heavy punishments with which the Government of the day visited the adherents of that unfortunate prince. To be a member of the Episcopal Church was held equivalent to being an open and avowed enemy of the House of Hanover; and, by Act of Parliament, the celebration of the Church's rites, and the reading of her services, was punished by fine, imprisonment, and exile.

"Bowed down, but not destroyed," the Church still continued to exist. In secret and in sorrow she brought up her children, and preserved, in pure and due order, the succession of the Episcopate which she received in 1661.

She soon became the principal actor in an interesting event.

The Protestant Church of America owes its origin and character to the humble bishops of the depressed Episcopal Church of Scotland; for in 1784, when the bishops of the Church of England felt themselves in difficulty on the question of consecrating bishops for the newly ace knowledged independent States of America, the Scottish bishops, with the entire approbation of the Church of England, and with the express approval of the then Archbishop of Canterbury, consecrated Dr Samuel [4/5] Seabury to be Bishop of Connecticut, and so enabled him to establish and perpetuate a pure Protestant Episcopal Church over all America.

And again in 1825, the bishops in Scotland, with the full knowledge and the tacit approval of the Government and of the heads of the Church of England, exercised their powers, as Bishops of the Church of Christ, by consecrating Dr Luscombe, Chaplain to the British Embassy at Paris, to be a bishop "not a diocesan bishop in the modern or limited sense of the word, but for a purpose similar to that for which Titus was left by St Paul in Crete." Following out his mission, Bishop Luscombe proceeded to Paris, and was thereafter appointed permanent Chaplain to the British Embassy at Paris, and was received and treated by the Ambassador and English residents of all ranks with every mark of respect due to his Episcopal office.

In England we find the Scottish bishops officiating at the request, and in aid of, the English bishops, in the most solemn services of the Church.

We see these Scottish bishops serving at the altar, and doing the work of the English bishops over all the continent of Europe.

Yet, up to the present day, these Scottish bishops and all the clergy ordained by them are under political ban denied the privileges conceded to all other subjects of her Majesty; denied what is conceded even to bishops and clergy of the Church of Rome, wherever ordained, all over the world denied what is conceded to Presbyterians of all classes, to Dissenters of every form, And why is all this? Simply because, in former clays, the Episcopalians of Scotland were, as a body, faithful to their ancient loyalty to the House of Stuart.

But in 1778, when the death of Charles Edward [5/6] relieved the Episcopalians from what they thought their obligation of loyalty to the fallen rulers of ancient days, the Episcopal Church of Scotland, at an Episcopal Synod held in Edinburgh on 24th April 1788, resolved to declare their adherence to the reigning House, now acknowledged as the rightful sovereigns. And, accordingly, they resolved unanimously to publish their loyalty to King George, by praying in all their churches for the King by name, and for his royal house, in the express words of the English liturgy. This resolution of the Synod was carried into effect. On 25th May 1788, all the Episcopal clergy in Scotland, with one solitary exception, prayed for his Majesty King George, and his Queen and the royal family and from that day to the present there has never been an omission so to pray. Her Majesty's Government have long known that there are not in her Majesty's dominions a more loyal class of men than the Scottish Episcopalian clergy and laity. [The exception was the Rev. Mr Brown of Montrose, the father of the late Dr Robert Brown, President of the Linnaean Society.]

Why then is it that there should he any political ban against these men? clergy or laity?

Do her Majesty's advisers really think that her peaceful possession of the crown which she adorns is yet in danger from these ancient adherents to the House of Stuart? May we not rather believe that her Majesty and her advisers are ignorant that the oppressive restraints exist; and that the Government fail to do justice to those who suffer from them, simply because of indolence; because the sufferers are few in number; not of much political weight; peaceful, not noisy, under their oppression?

We proceed to explain the subject more closely.

In 1788 Charles Edward, Count of Albany, died, The [6/7] same year the Episcopalians in Scotland declared their submission to the House of Hanover; they prayed openly for King George and the royal family in the very words used by the Church of England; they took the earliest opportunity of addressing the reigning sovereign in terms of loyalty and affection.

In 1792 a bill was brought into Parliament for relieving the Episcopalians in Scotland from their disabilities. The then Lord Chancellor (Thurlow) opposed the bill, and there was much discussion; but the result was that an Act was passed (32 George III. cap. 63), intituled "An Act for granting Relief to Pastors, Ministers, and Lay Persons of the Episcopal Communion in Scotland." The Act, in its whole terms, shows that it was wrung from an unwilling and ungenerous foe. Instead of simply repealing the persecuting Acts, and leaving the Episcopalians in Scotland free like their fellow-subjects, there is throughout the Act a narrow, illiberal spirit. But the practical effect was to relieve the laity from the pressure of the persecuting Acts, except that certain penalties appear to be still open for recovery by the common informers, if they think it fit to reap the rich harvest which my Lord Thurlow has provided for them. And as to the clergy, they have ample toleration in their own country, provided only they make certain entries in registers appointed to be kept in counties and burghs, but which are not, and never have been kept,--"Copies of which entries shall likewise be transmitted by the said clerk (the clerk of the shire or burgh) to the clerk of each House of Parliament, to be laid before the said Houses respectively, at their next meeting."

But, though tolerated in their own country, the clergy of the Episcopal Church in Scotland are so tolerated only subject to an enactment in these terms:--

[8] "Provided also, and be it further enacted, That no person exercising the function, or assuming the office and character of a pastor, or minister of any order, in the Episcopal communion in Scotland as aforesaid, shall be capable of taking any benefice, curacy, or other spiritual promotion, within that part of Great Britain called England, the dominion of Wales, or town of Berwick-upon-Tweed, or of officiating in any church or chapel within the same where the liturgy of the Church of England as now by law established is used, unless he shall have been lawfully ordained by some bishop of the Church of England or Ireland."

This enactment is the great evil under which the clergy of the Scottish Protestant Episcopal Church now suffer.

The effect of this enactment, as usually interpreted, is to render it impossible, till this law be repealed, for any man who has been ordained a priest by a Scottish bishop in Scotland, ever to hold office in the Church of England, and to render him incapable "of officiating in any church or chapel within the same where the liturgy of the Church of England as now by law established is used."

By an Act afterwards passed in 1840 (3d and 4th Victoria, cap. 33), which will be noticed more particularly before concluding, this evil was so far amended that a Scottish Episcopal clergyman may, in certain circumstances, be licensed by an English bishop to officiate in a Church in England where the liturgy is used, but only for one or two days named in the licence. Subject to this qualification, the original prohibition of the Act of 1792 is still in force.

Now, let us observe the import and effect of that prohibition.

As now interpreted, the prohibition is simply a political [8/9] disability, in a priest canonically ordained by a Scottish bishop in Scotland, from exercising his office of a priest in England. It is not that a bishop in England is not bound to receive a Scottish priest into his diocese, but that, even though it be desired by the bishop, the bishop cannot receive him.

From men not cognisant of Church principles, the first remark naturally is,--Let the English bishop who desires the Scottish priest reordain him. And if reordination of a priest were consistent with the rules of the Church of England, then this would be a good solution of the difficulty. But the Church of England holds that a priest once canonically ordained is always a priest--he cannot be reordained; he is a priest--he cannot be made a priest a second time; you cannot slay the slain.

It is this fact which produces the painful and extraordinary result under which this unfortunate class of men suffer. If I am a Presbyterian, ordained by a Presbytery, and see cause to depart from that form of Church government, I have only to declare my change, and offer to sign the Thirty-nine Articles, and a bishop so inclined may grant me ordination; and I am then qualified for any office in the Church of England the same as if I had taken my degree at Oxford, been ordained in Oxford, and spent all my days in England. So as to any Dissenter, clerical or lay. Ordination by an English bishop is open, if only he can find a bishop willing to lay hands upon him. So as to a priest of the Romish Church. He has been ordained, by a bishop--it may be in Rome itself; the Church of England disowns the doctrines of the Church of Rome, but she acknowledges that the Romish bishop is duly consecrated, and, that his ordination is effectual. [9/10] And therefore a priest ordained in Rome, who sees his error, and acknowledges and subscribes the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England, needs no second ordination; but, on being presented to a benefice, is entitled to demand admission the same as if he had been ordained in England by an English bishop. So as to a priest ordained in the United States of America by the successor of Bishop Seabury, who was consecrated at Aberdeen by the Scottish bishops in 1784; until the Act of Queen Victoria (Viet. 3d and 4th, cap. 33, s. 3) was passed, he was qualified and entitled to hold office in the Church of England the same as if he had been ordained in England by an English bishop, if only he was politically qualified as a subject of the British Crown.

But the Protestant priest ordained in Scotland by a Scottish bishop is excluded. He cannot, like his neighbour the Presbyterian, or the Unitarian, or the Quaker, go to England and be ordained, for he is ordained already. He cannot, like his neighbour the Romish priest, say, “I was in error, and now renounce my error and subscribe the Thirty-nine Articles," for he was right in doctrine from the outset, and subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles at his ordination. He is not even like his brother priest in New York for, though both subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, and both had their origin alike from the spiritual descendants of the bishops consecrated for Scotland under King Charles's Commission, yet, unfortunately, the one was ordained in her Majesty's dominions in Scotland under a political ban,, while the other was ordained in America, which, till 1840, in Queen Victoria's reign, was as free in the matter under consideration as Rome then was and still is.

All this seems so oppressive, and not only oppressive but absurd, that one does not wonder to find that men [10/11] do not believe that the case of Scottish priests is really such as we have stated it to be.

In 1857 a case was submitted to Dr Addams and Mr Mundell to ascertain whether the law really is as has been stated.

The Queries and Answers run thus:--

1. Assuming the Legislature to have been silent upon the subject, would a Scottish priest, upon producing his letters of orders to an English or Irish bishop, be entitled to claim institution to a benefice, as a priest in orders from an English or Irish prelate could and might upon the same terms and under the same restriction

2. Whether the Statutes referred to requiring registration of orders have had any effect upon the validity of the orders in the Scottish Church, or whether the meaning of the term "Protestant bishop," in the Act of the 10th of Anne, has any bearing upon the question?

Whether a Romish priest ordained by a foreign bishop could upon his orders claim institution; and whether there be any and what distinction if such priest's orders are conferred by a Romish bishop within the United Kingdom.

4. Whether, but for restrictive legislation, all degrees of the Scottish Episcopal priesthood would, as far as orders are concerned, be entitled to the like privileges, both England and Ireland, with the priesthood of the United Church of England and Ireland?

And generally to advise upon the above case.


1. We think that the only hindrances to the clergy of the Scottish Episcopal Church holding benefices and preferments in England are the provisions contained in the Statute 32 Geo. III. cap. 73, s. 9, and Statute 3 and 4 Vict. cap. 33. Our opinion is founded upon this: Prior to the Act of Uniformity, 13 and 14 Car. ministers ware admitted to benefices and preferments in England upon foreign orders not Episcopal. By that Act, however (constantly so interpreted), ministers to be so admitted must be episcopally ordained, but episcopally ordained generally, that is, not by Anglican bishops only, or according to any prescribed ordinal, Otherwise, how is it that ministers have constantly been admitted to benefices and preferments upon Romish orders, equally since as before that Act? As, therefore, ministers of the Episcopal communion in. Scotland. have been so episcopally ordained (generally, that is), the conclusion follows that, but for the statutory impediments pointed out, they would be admissible to benefices in England equally with ministers ordained by Anglican bishops, and according to the ordinal in the Book of Common Prayer. And, indeed, the provisions of the 32 Geo. cap. 73 (vide s. 9), if not necessarily, strongly imply this. For the prohibitions contained in this section would have been unnecessary if Scotch Episcopally ordained ministers had been already prohibited without these provisions.

2. We think that the Statutes referred to, requiring [12/13] registration of orders, did not affect the validity of such orders; and that the term, "Protestant bishop," must be held to include the Scotch Episcopacy, and has no bearing upon the case submitted to us. [If Scottish bishops were not "Protestant bishops," the English Episcopate, from whom the Scottish Episcopate was renewed, cannot be "Protestant."]

3. We are not aware that there be any difference whether orders be conferred by a foreign Romish bishop or by one in the United Kingdom. We believe the orders in either case to be sufficient.

4. Irrespective of the Statutes mentioned in the case, which have been before referred to, we have no hesitation in answering this question in the affirmative.

(Signed) J. ADDAMS.

Doctors’ Commons,
Feb. 16, 1857.

There can then be no question that, but for the Act 32 George III. cap. 63, s. 9, and the subsequent Act of Queen Victoria (3 and 4 Vict. cap, 33), the canonically ordained priests of the Scottish Episcopal Church might hold office in the Church of England.

So the question again rises, Why was the Act of 1792 passed? and why did it create this disability?

The answer to these questions may be best found in the preamble to the Act itself:--"Whereas by several Acts of Parliament now in force, disabilities, forfeitures, and penalties, have been imposed in certain cases upon persons frequenting, resorting to, or officiating in, certain Episcopal chapels and meeting-houses in Scotland: And whereas there is sufficient reason to believe [13/14] that the pastors, ministers, and laity of the Episcopal communion in Scotland are now well attached to hisMajesty's person, family, and government: And where,, as it is just and reasonable that such of them as are willing, in a proper manner, to manifest such attachment, should receive relief with respect to certain ells abilities, forfeitures, and penalties in the said Acts mentioned: May it therefore please your Majesty," &c.

The Act, so far as it gives relief, passed because of the pastors, ministers, and laity of the Episcopal communion having become well attached to the King, his family, and government; the miserable enactment which perpetuated the disability of the clergy was the crotchet of the ill-regulated mind of Lord Chancellor Thurlow.

Is it consistent with the character of the Government of Queen Victoria in these days to let such all enactment remain in the Statute-Book? Why should one class of her Majesty's subjects in Scotland be under political disability from which all other classes are free? Why should there be denied to a priest ordained in Scotland what is conceded to priests ordained in Rome or any other place on the continent of Europe?

To show the absurdity of the whole matter yet further, turn to s. 3 of the Act of Queen Victoria already noticed (3 and 4 Vict. cap 33). It will there be seen that the disabilities of the Scottish Protestant Episcopal clergy are extended to the Protestant Episcopal clergy of the United States of America: "Be it therefore enacted, That all the several provisions hereinbefore contained with respect to the bishops and priests canonically ordained of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland shall respectively extend to the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and to the priests canonically ordained by a bishop of [14/15] such Church residing and exercising at the time of such ordination Episcopal functions within some district or place in the United States of America."

So the Protestant Legislature of her Majesty in 1840 thought it fit to extend the disabilities to Protestant bishops and priests of the United States, but not to Romish bishops or priests; the former, because they are already Protestant, and have already adopted the Articles of the Church of England, are for ever incapable of exercising their office in the English Church. But not so those ordained by Romish bishops in the same United States. These latter have only to do what the Protestants did from the outset while the Protestants, because they are not first Romish and then Protestant priests, are disabled. On the like principle of action, the prohibition is confined to the United States. Let the Scottish bishops again consecrate a bishop for America, as they did in 1784, and let him this time go to the Romish Brazil instead of the Protestant Connecticut, and the priests he ordains are free as if ordained in Oxford. The disability of his having been ordained in a Protestant country does not attach to him. He is favoured as if Rome or Madrid were his origin, or as if the Romish bishop of Edinburgh had ordained him.

Let us look to this Act of Queen Victoria's reign a little more closely.

It was professedly passed as a means of relief to the Scottish Episcopalian clergy. It was intended to slacken the cords by which they were bound. Her Majesty and her advisers of that day were merciful. Let us see the measure of mercy which was so graciously granted.

“Whereas an Act was passed in the thirty-second year of the reign of his late Majesty King George the Third, intituled An Act for granting Relief to Persons [15/16] of the Episcopal Communion in Scotland: And whereas it is expedient to alter and amend the said Act, and to enable the bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland, and the priests of such Church canonically ordained, under certain limitations and restrictions, to perform divine service, to preach and administer the sacraments, according to the rites and ceremonies of the United Church of England and Ireland, where the liturgy of the said United Church is used: Be it enacted," &c., “That it shall be lawful for the bishops of any diocese in England or Ireland, if he shall think fit, on the application of any bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland, or of any priest of such Church, canonically ordained by any bishop thereof, residing and exercising at the time of such ordination Episcopal functions within some district or place in Scotland, [It appears that if the ordaining bishop chanced to live out of Scotland--in Carlisle or Northumberland, for example--at the time of the ordination, the unfortunate priest is by that circumstance deprived of the benefits of this Act.] to grant permission under his hand, and from time to time, also under his hand, to renew such permission to any such bishop or priest to perform divine service, and to preach and administer the sacraments, according to the rites and ceremonies of the United Church of England and Ireland, for any one day or any two days, and no more, in any church or chapel to be specified in such permission or renewed permission; and thereupon it shall be lawful for the party mentioned in such permission or renewed permission, with the consent of the incumbent or officiating minister of such church or chapel, to perform divine service, and to preach and administer the sacraments therein, according to the rites and ceremonies of the United Church of [16/17] England and Ireland, on the day or days specified in such written permission or renewed permission, and on no other."

But by s. 2 of the Act, it is provided that no such licence shall be given till certain letters commendatory be produced to the bishop. Then follow penalties.

The whole extent of mercy, then, which the Act of 1840 conferred, is nothing more than this--that from time to time a bishop may, under certain conditions, give leave for a Scottish Protestant bishop or Scottish Protestant Episcopal priest officiating on one or on two days named, in an English or Irish church or chapel, according to the rites of the Church of England. [If a Scottish bishop or priest has boldness to adopt my Lord Ebury's amendment of the liturgy then he is free from all ban; for the prohibition of 1792 goes only to prevent him from officiating in a church or chapel where the liturgy of the Church of England, as now liturgy by law established, is used. The Act may be termed olio to promote dissent from the Church of England.]

So, after the merciful interposition of the Legislature in 1840, the matter stands thus. A priest ordained in Scotland by a Scottish bishop is for ever incapable of exercising his office in England, except under a special licence for one day or for two days named in the special licence. And this disability rests, not on there being doubts of his being canonically ordained, for it is because of his being already beyond doubt canonically ordained that he cannot be ordained by au English bishop; not because his doctrine is in doubt, for the rules of faith of the Scottish Episcopal Church are identical with those of the English Church, and the priest has subscribed the Thirty-nine Articles, and is ready to satisfy every requirement for ordination in the Church of England; not because he is suspected of having Romish tendencies, for even Romish priests are received into the English Church if they do what the Scottish ordained priest has [17/18] done, and is ready to repeat; not because he is suspected of inclination to Presbyterian doctrines, for the minister of the Scottish Kirk is received with open arms when he subscribes the Thirty-nine Articles. For none of these reasons is the Scottish priest rejected, but simply because his predecessors, the Scottish Episcopal clergy and laity, were faithful in their adherence to the House of Stuart. His grandfather fought at Culloden.

Should this state of things continue?

There is no question of doctrine involved. The Scottish bishops have their consecration from the bishops of the Church of England. The Thirty-nine Articles are the rule of faith in Scotland as in England. The two Churches are in perfect accordance in doctrine and practice. We see every year the Scottish bishops officiating along with or as commissioners in the place of the English bishops. We see occasional relief to individual priests of the Scottish Episcopal Church by private bills. We see the two Churches agreed. Nothing to prevent perfect union between them, in. all things spiritual, except this remnant of political persecution and intolerance--the Disability Act of 1792.

Nor is it any question of learning or fitness. The Episcopal clergy of Scottish ordination are, as respects learning, as respects morals, as respects aptness for parochial duty, as a class, equal at the least to their brethren of the Church of England.

Nor need there be any dread of evil to the English Church from change in the character of the Scottish priest, or from individual scapegoats; for there is no reason why ample provision may not be made to prevent any Scottish priest being able to force his way into a diocese without the full approval of the bishop. As the law now is, a Romish priest from Madrid or Brazil may [18/19] demand induction on renouncing his errors of doctrine, producing his letter of orders, and satisfying the other rules of the Church of England. Let that privilege remain for such men, if it be thought right so to favour them; but, if you please, place restraints on the Scottish priests of Protestant ordination--require them to prove their learning--satisfy the bishop of their moral fitness--and satisfy him also of their aptness for their calling,--all such precaution is not only reasonable but right. But do not let the law any longer say to the English bishop, “You shall not receive a priest who chanced to be ordained by your brother bishop resident in Scotland, however fit; for his predecessors were adherents of the Pretender." Do not say to the unfortunate priest of Scottish origin, You are a bastard--you have been ordained by a bishop whose spiritual character we acknowledge was pure--but you have placed yourself in illegitimacy by accepting ordination from a bishop having his consecration from those who, so long as he who called himself King James the Seventh was yet living, denied the right of King George.

Is it in the reign of Queen Victoria that we are writing this? Does the spiritual guide of my Lord Palmerston tell him that it is right to allow a priest ordained by the Romish bishop of Edinburgh to be received into the English Protestant Church, provided he subscribes the Thirty-nine Articles, but to exclude the priest ordained by the Protestant bishop of Edinburgh? Do the heads of that party who arrogate to themselves the defence of Protestantism think that this is the way in which to protect the Church of England from the errors of Rome? Does my Lord John Russell think that he did all that was necessary when he removed the Tests and Corporation Acts--relieved the Dissenters, but left [19/20] a more peaceful, but not less loyal class of men, under yet greater and more unjust and oppressive disabilities? Do that numerous and influential body of the Lower House of Parliament, who call themselves Independents in religion, and the friends of political freedom, know that there is a class of men yet remaining under political disqualification in matters of religion; and do gentlemen, in the face of all their profession of true independence and love of toleration, sit quietly, without making one effort for the repeal of a law so unjust and so intolerant? Can the Right Reverend Bench of Bishops think they have fulfilled their duty as God's ministers, while they sit in the Legislature and fail to do what they may do and ought to do for the relieving of those of like calling with themselves from that political, unjust, and oppressive prohibition which hinders them from labouring in God's vineyard though called to be servants?

Take all measures which can be devised for securing the purity of the Church; let no foreign priest enter into any diocese contrary to the will of the bishop set over it; but do not withhold from the priest of Protestant ordination what you concede to him on whom the Romish bishop laid hands. Do not prefer the priest ordained in Romish America to the priest ordained in the Protestant States: do not visit on the men of Queen Victoria's reign the political sins of those who lived and died a hundred years ago.

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