BISHOPRIC is a term equivalent to diocese or see, denoting the whole district through which the bishop's superinten, deny extends. The final syllable is the Anglo-Saxon pace, region, which entered in like manner into the composition of one or two other words. The word Diocese is from the Greek dioekesis (6wisenets), which literally signifies ad ministration.' (See the instances of the use of this word in Dion. Cassius, Index, ed. Reimarus.) In the time of the Em peror Constantine and afterwards the word Diocese was used to signify one of the civil divisions of the Empire. The word See, in French siege, in Italian sedia, signifies seat," residence,' and is ultimately derived from the Latin seder.
The Italians call the Holy See, La Sedia Apostolica ; and the French, Le Saint Siege.
In England there are two archbishop rics, and twenty bishoprics : in Wales, four bishoprics ; the Isle of Man forms also a bishopric, but the bishop has no seat in the English parliament.
The basis of the present diocesan dis tribution of England was laid in the times of the Saxon Heptarchy. At the Conquest there were two archbishoprics and thirteen bishoprics: Canterbury, Exeter, York, Worcester, London, Hereford, Winchester, Coventry and Lich Chichester, field, Rochester, Lincoln, Salisbury, Norwich, Bath and Wells, Durham.
The first innovation on this arrange ment was made by King Henry I., who, to gratify the abbot of the ancient Saxon ibundation at Ely, and to free him from the superintendence of the Bishop of Lin coln, in whose diocese he was, erected Ely into a bishopric, the church of the monastery being made a cathedral. He assigned to it as its diocese the county of Cambridge, and some portion of Nor folk, perhaps as much as had formerly been comprehended within Mercia, for we have no better guide to the exact limits of the ancient Saxon kingdoms than the limitations of the ancient dio ceses. This was effected in 1109.
The second was in 1133, near the end of the reign of Henry I., when the see of Carlisle was founded. The diocese, before the alterations effected by 6 & 7 Wm. IV. c. 77. consisted of portions of the counties of Cumberland and West moreland, perhaps not before compre hended within any English diocese.
No other change took place till 1541, when King Henry VIII. erected six new bishoprics, facilities for doing so being afforded by the dissolution of the mo nastic establishments, which placed at the king's disposal large and splendid churches, and great estates, out of which to make a provision for the support of the bishops. These were, 1. Oxford, having
Air its diocese the county of Oxford, which had previously been included within the diocese of Lincoln. 2. Peter. borough : this diocese was also taken out of that of Lincoln, and comprised the county of Northalpton and the gram. portion of Rutland. 3. Gloucester, having for its diocese the county of Gloucester, which bad been previously in the dio cese of Worcester. 4. Bristol, to which the city of Bristol and the whole county of Dorset, heretofore belonging to the diocese of Salisbury,- were assigned. 5. Chester ; to this a very large tract was assigned, namely, the county of Chester, heretofore part of the diocese of Lichfield and Coventry, and the whole county of Lancaster, part of Cumber land, and the archdeaconry of Richmond, all which were before in the diocese of York ; and 6. Westminster; the county of Middlesex, which before bad belonged to the diocese of London, being assigned to it as a diocese. This last bishopric, however, soon fell. In about nine years, Thirlby, the first and only bishop, was trauslateci to the see of Norwich, and the county of Middlesex was restored to the c I T O' don.
Pim the year 1541 until 1836 no chang•: was 'le in the diocesan distri bution .ind. There was at first no among the dioceses ; some, as thoge or York and Lincoln, being of vast extR:A. ar.o. others, as Hereford, Ro chester, &la C,anterbury, small. The change which has taken place in the po pulation parts of England heightened the irregularity in respect of the butt:len of these sees. Before the passing of 6 & 7 Wm. IV. c. 77, the revenues were not in any degree pro portionate to the extent or population of the diocese, as they consisted for the most part of lands settled upon the sees, often in times long before the Conquest, the revenues from which varied greatly, according as the lands lay in places to wards which the tide of population bad been directed, or the contrary. The act 6 & 7 Wm. IV. c. 77, created two new bishoprics in England (Ripon and Man chester), and provided for the union of the bishopric of Bristol with that of Gloucester. The bishopric of Bristol no longer exists. The bishop is called the