Act for the restitution and reestablishment of the ancient government of the church by archbishops and bishops

Forasmuch as the ordering and disposal of the external government and policy of the church does properly belong to his majesty as an inherent right of the crown, by virtue of his royal prerogative and supremacy in causes ecclesiastical, and in discharge of this trust, his majesty and his estates of parliament, taking to their serious consideration that, in the beginning of and by the late rebellion within this kingdom in the year 1637, the ancient and sacred order of bishops was cast off, their persons and rights were injured and overturned, and a seeming parity among the clergy factiously and violently brought in, to the great disturbance of the public peace, the reproach of the reformed religion and violation of the excellent laws of the realm for preserving an orderly subordination in the church, and therewithal considering what disorders and exorbitance have been in the church, what encroachments upon the prerogative and rights of the crown, what usurpations upon the authority of parliaments, and what prejudice the liberty of the subject has suffered by the invasions made upon the bishops and episcopal government, which they find to be the church government most agreeable to the word of God, most convenient and effectual for the preservation of truth, order and unity, and most suitable to monarchy and the peace and quiet of the state; therefore his majesty, with advice and consent of his estates of parliament, has thought it necessary and, accordingly, does hereby redintegrate the estate of bishops to their ancient places and undoubted privileges in parliament, and to all their other accustomed dignities, privileges and jurisdictions; and does hereby restore them to the exercise of their episcopal function, presidency in the church, power of ordination, inflicting of censures and all other acts of church discipline which they are to perform, with advice and assistance of such of the clergy as they shall find to be of known loyalty and prudence. And his majesty, with advice foresaid, does revive, ratify and renew all acts of any former parliaments made for the establishment and in favour of this ancient government; and does ratify and approve all acts and proclamations emitted by his majesty or his privy council since 1 June last in order to the restitution of bishops; and further, it is hereby declared that whatever shall be determined by his majesty, with advice of the archbishops and bishops and such of the clergy as shall be nominated by his majesty, in the external government and policy of the church (the same consisting with the standing laws of the kingdom) shall be valid and effectual. And his majesty, considering how necessary it is that all doubts or scruples which from former acts or practises may occur to any concerning this sacred order, are cleared and removed, does therefore, of certain knowledge and with advice foresaid, rescind, cass and annul all acts of parliament by which the sole and only power and jurisdiction within this church does stand in the church, and in the general, provincial and presbyterial assemblies and kirk sessions, and all acts of parliament or council which may be interpreted to have given any church power, jurisdiction or government to the office-bearers of the church and their respective meetings, other than that which acknowledges a dependence upon and subordination to the sovereign power of the king as supreme; and which is to be regulated and authorised in the exercise thereof by the archbishops and bishops, who are to put order to all ecclesiastical matters and causes and to be accountable to his majesty for their administrations, and particularly, his majesty, with advice foresaid, does rescind and annul the first act of the twelfth parliament of King James VI held in the year 1592, and declares the same and all the heads, clauses and articles thereof void and null in all time coming. And his majesty, considering that the jurisdiction of the commissariats is a proper part of the rights and privileges belonging to the bishops, does therefore, with advice foresaid, restore the archbishops and bishops to their said jurisdiction of commissariats according to the sixth act of the parliament 1609, which is hereby ratified and renewed, and accordingly ordains that, in all time coming, the quots of testaments are paid in to the archbishops and bishops in their respective dioceses as formerly; and rescinds and annuls the twenty-eighth act of the last session of this present parliament anent the quots of testaments, and declares the same void in all time coming. It is always hereby declared that this act is without prejudice to the present commissaries, their clerks and fiscals, and their enjoying their places and benefits thereof conforming to their gifts and laws of this kingdom unless, for their insufficiency or misdemeanours, they be found incapable of the same. Further, his majesty, with advice and consent foresaid, statutes and ordains that no act, gift, tack or deed passed by whatsoever authority since the interruption of the government by archbishops and bishops in the year 1637, to the prejudice of their rights, patronages, admiralities, superiorities, rents, possessions and jurisdictions pertaining to the several bishoprics, stand valid or be in force, but that the said archbishops and bishops may have their claim, right and possession for the year 1661 and all years following to whatsoever was possessed by, or by the laws of the kingdom was due to their predecessors in 1637, and that notwithstanding of any donation or rights made to colleges, churches, corporations, ministers or any other persons since the year 1637 by whatsoever order, deed or warrant, excepting as is aforesaid in favour of commissaries, clerks and fiscals. And whereas diverse persons having right to lands, annualrents or some other estate held formerly of bishops, or who had succeeded or acquired rights to the said lands and others of the nature and holding foresaid, have been forced during the late troubles, there being no other way or superior for the time, to obtain themselves infeft therein, held of his majesty or his royal father, or of their donators having right for the time, and to that effect did take precepts out of the chancery and to pass infeftments under the great seal, and to obtain precepts and charters from the said other persons who had right to their superiorities for the time; and his majesty, being graciously pleased that such rights and infeftments as for the time were necessary and of course taken and passed in manner foresaid, should not be prejudiced; therefore it is statute and declared that all persons who, since the beginning of the troubles in the year 1638, are entered or infeft by his majesty or his royal father by the pretended authority for the time, or any other person having right from them in any land or estate held immediately of the bishops before the said troubles, shall now hold the same of the respective archbishops and bishops, their lawful superiors, in the same manner, as they, their predecessors and authors held the same before the late troubles. And it is declared that neither this nor any other act of the last or present session of this parliament shall prejudice any retours, signatures, charters, precepts, infeftments, sasines of lands, annualrents or any other estate held immediately of bishops, whereby the same are retoured, or infeftments of the same are taken to be held of the king or his donators since the time foresaid, upon retours, resignations, comprisings, adjudications or by way of confirmation or precepts of clare constat or otherwise; which infeftments, being orderly passed as they ought to have been for the time, with the retours, signatures and other warrants of the same, his majesty, with consent foresaid, does ratify and approve and declares to be valid rights, as if the same had been granted or renewed by the said archbishops or bishops. It is always declared that the declaration and ratification foresaid shall not be extended to any new gift or grant, or any other clause or right contained in the said infeftments or signatures, or other warrants of the same, whereby any new gift or original right of the said lands and others are given or the right of the same is granted or conveyed otherwise than conforming to the rights and infeftments thereof before the time aforesaid. Likewise, it is hereby declared, that the said ratification and declaration foresaid shall not corroborate or import any ratifications of the said vassals of their former rights which are to be in the same case as they were in the beginning of the said troubles in the year foresaid; in regard it is his majesty's intention, likewise it is declared by his majesty, with consent foresaid, that the archbishops and bishops shall be, as to their patrimony and rents, in the same case and condition as they were in the year foresaid, notwithstanding of whatsoever acts to the contrary of the pretended parliaments since the time foresaid; and notwithstanding of whatsoever rights, grants or deeds flowing from or depending upon, or done or granted by virtue of any act or acts of the said pretended parliaments, which his majesty, with consent foresaid, does declare, decree and determine to be void and null, except in so far as is reserved and ratified in manner above-written. It is hereby declared that this act of restitution shall give no right to any of the said archbishops or bishops or their successors, nor to the heirs or executors of the deceased bishops of any rents belonging to the archbishoprics or bishoprics preceding the year 1661 after the said year 1638; but that all the said rents intromitted with by and pertaining to such persons as had right thereto for the time, and with which they have or might have intromitted, shall be secured to them. As also, all such persons who in good faith have made payment of their feu duties, teinds and teind duties and other rents of their bishoprics, are and shall be also secured for bygones only free of any action or question, notwithstanding of this present act or any thing therein contained.

  1. NAS. PA2/28, f.4v-6. Back
  2. Perhaps sic. Back