Act regarding the dilapidation of bishoprics

Our sovereign lord and estates of parliament, having consideration of that act of parliament made in the 10th parliament held by his highness in the year of God 1585, and in the 11th act of the said parliament, containing diverse cautions and provisions tending to restrain beneficed persons from putting away of any part of their benefice, whereby their said benefices may be left in worse estate than the same was at their entry thereto, as the said act does at more length contain, have ratified and approved the said act in all the articles, heads and circumstances thereof, declaring the same to remain in full strength and to have the effect and force of a perpetual law and statute of parliament in all time coming with these additions: they are to say, that it shall in no way be permissible to any person provided, or to be provided, to a bishopric within this realm to convey or give in pension any part of the patrimony of his said bishopric which shall endure and last longer space than the giver of the said pension shall possess the said bishopric; and if it shall happen the said persons provided to the said bishoprics now, or in any time to come, to dismember any part of their said benefices or patrimony thereof, our sovereign lord and estates of parliament decree and declare all such facts and deeds to fall under the compass, peril and danger of dilapidation of benefices and to be an express type and kind of dilapidation. And by reason it has ever been found necessary in all times past that the feuing of lands, setting of tacks and doing of such other lawful deeds by whatsoever bishop or prelate within this realm, of any part of the patrimony of their said benefices, should have the consent of the most part of their chapter, without whose consent had and obtained to the said deeds in whole or the most part thereof was in no way permissible to the said prelates to do any of the said deeds, therefore the said estates, according to the written laws made relating thereto and custom perpetually observed in such cases of before, find and declare that no bishop within this realm may set in feu, tack or otherwise, nor do any other deed in the conveying of any part of the patrimony of their said bishoprics, without the advice, consent and assent of their chapters, or the greatest number of them, duly procured and obtained thereto, in the purchasing of whose consent it shall in no way be requisite to have their said chapters convened (but the said deeds being otherwise lawfully done and subscribed by the most part of the said chapter), the not meeting and convening in full chapter at the time of the making of the said rights and subscribing thereof shall furnish no ground whereupon the said facts and deeds may be quarrelled or the said rights and titles impugned or annulled through the cause or occasion foresaid; which chapters decree and declare to remain now, and in all time coming, according to the foundations of the said bishoprics and as have been in time bygone, without any kind of alteration to be made therein, excepting always the chapter of the archbishopric of St Andrews, the alteration whereof (which is made in manner underwritten) necessarily proceeds in that the same, consisting of before of the priory of St Andrews, is suppressed by the new erection of the said priory, whereby the said chapter ceases; and therefore the said estates have declared, and declare, that the chapter of St Andrews hereafter shall consist of this number of persons following, namely: of seven persons of the ministry dwelling and having their charge within his diocese of St Andrews, to be elected and nominated by the said archbishop himself, to be perpetual convent and chapter of the said archbishopric in all time coming, and after the decease or removing of any one or more of them from their present places and function within his said diocese, the entrant succeeding in that place and charge to succeed also in that said room of the chapter and convent, reserving always to the said archbishop and his successors their ancient privileges, that the common seal of the said chapter to be made of new by their own advice, shall serve for their consents without their subscriptions. And further, the said estates find and determine that the present common seal of the said chapter, being appended to the evidents or rights whatsoever already made and granted by the said archbishop, has been, and shall be in all time coming, a sufficient and perfect consent of the chapter and as effectual for securing of the vassals and tenant receivers of the said rights as the same has been in any time of before, and so to endure in force hereafter for consent of the said chapter until the election of the said new chapter and making of the said new common seal. Moreover, our said sovereign lord and estates of parliament find and declare that it is, and shall be, permissible to the said archbishops, bishops and their successors to set as many tacks of the fruits and duties pertaining to their said benefices, either short or long tacks as they please and for as many years as they shall think expedient, which may subsist of the law, in doing whereof the said estates will make no restraint or limitation of time to the said bishops, and by reason that the duties of the said tacks to be set by the persons provided to the said bishoprics are to be applied and converted for satisfaction and maintenance of the ministers serving the cure of the kirks of the said bishoprics and for supply of a part of their stipends to be given to them, therefore the said estates ordain the said bishops to have a careful regard that the said tacks be set for a competent duty, which may in some reasonable proportion answering to that which is set in tack be more fit to supply a part of the said ministers' stipends, which duties of the said tacks, and also the stipends which shall be provided to the ministers serving at the kirks of every bishopric, shall be in all time coming reputed as a part of the rental of the said bishoprics, which rental shall in no way be hurt, spoiled or diminished by the titular of the said bishopric in any time to come. And to the effect that the ministers of the said kirks may be the more certainly provided and the rental of bishoprics may be made (which shall not be altered as said is), ordain all archbishops and bishops who are already provided, or shall be provided in time to come, to make a sufficient rental of the patrimony of each bishopric and to give in the same to the clerk register and his deputes, to remain in his register for future memory; and that within the space of a year after the date of this present act, under the pain of 1,000 merks to be paid by the person who shall fail in giving of the said rental within the space foresaid to [Master John Preston of Penicuik], our sovereign lord's collector general, of the which sum the said collector shall be held to make account and reckoning to the auditors of his highness's exchequer. Likewise it is provided that it shall in no way be permissible to the said archbishops or bishops to hurt or diminish any part of the said rental to be given in by them as said is, which will consist chiefly of the quantity of victual and silver which shall be provided to the said ministers for their stipends for serving the cures of the kirks of the said bishoprics as said is, but the said rental shall remain in the own integrity in all time coming, to the effect the said ministers and their successors serving at the kirks of the said bishoprics as said is may be assured of certain local stipends for their said service, not to be subject to the many changes and alterations with which frequently they have been troubled in times preceding. And last of all, because that the rental to be given in of the said bishoprics will consist and be made up partly of the duties of the said tacks to be set as said is, and that the certainty of the said local stipends stands in the giving up of the said rentals, which our said sovereign lord and estates ordain to be done with all goodly diligence within the time prescribed thereto, that the ministers serving the kirks be not frustrated or disappointed of due satisfaction and recompense for their travails taken in service foresaid, and that they may be put in certainty thereof in time to come, wherein the evident well and profit of the kirk does appear and manifest the self; and for that cause order is given and form prescribed for setting of tacks as the preceding articles of this act purport, through which that whatsoever acts and constitutions made by any either civil or ecclesiastic judge tending to the prohibition and restraint of setting of lawful tacks by any beneficed person ought to be annulled, seeing the said acts and constitutions which were made upon any preconceived fear of any lack or want of maintenance for sustentation of the kirk or upon any other ground are now clearly satisfied by the careful regard which his majesty and estates of this parliament have always had to the advancement of the kirk and to the certain provision of the ministry thereof, with constant stipends, a work very necessary and to be furthered and completed by the present bishops and to whose cares and travails our said sovereign lord and the said estates have recommended and commit to give order in the certain provision of the ministry serving at the kirks of their said bishoprics with competent, reasonable stipends answerable and agreeable for their travails and sustentation. And, therefore, our said sovereign lord and estates foresaid statute, decree and declare all and whatsoever acts, laws, statutes, ordinances and constitutions ecclesiastic or civil which are already made in time bygone, or shall happen to be made in time to come, whereby any beneficed person within this realm are prohibited and discharged to set any tacks of teinds (which may subsist of the law) and which acts and ordinances may directly or indirectly seem to infringe and annul the said tacks lawfully set as said is, or to inflict any pain or punishment upon the setters thereof, to be altogether null and of no value and to have no strength, force, nor effect now and in all time coming in the same way as if the same had never been made, which and all other acts, ordinances and constitutions to be made regarding the premises, and which may tend to the like end in any time to come, our said sovereign lord and estates discharge simply and for ever.

  1. NAS, PA2/16, f.74v-75v. Back
  2. '70' written in margin beside heading. Back
  3. 'St Andrews, the' in superscript, replacing three illegible words. Back