Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 7 >> Connective Tissue to Cooke >> Convocation


church, clergy, province, england and provinces

CONVOCATION, an assembly of the clergy of the Church of England, belonging either to the province of Canterbury or to that of York, to consult on ecclesiastical matters. In both provinces the Convocation consists of two houses, an upper and a lower. In the former sit the bishops and in the latter the deans and archdeacons, along with the proctors, who represent the inferior clergy and the chapters of cathedral churches. In the Con vocation of the province of York the usual practice has always been for all the members to sit in one house. Originally convocations were merely ecclesiastical councils that had no special privileges.or recognized political status, but gradually they came to assume their present form, being endowed with the right of passing canons, of determining their own taxation, etc. When thus formed into an assembly, having certain political as well as ecclesiastical func tions, there was only one Convocation for all England, and this lasted down to the beginning of the 14th century, when the clergy of the two provinces began to meet in separate Con vocations. The archbillop of each province has the right of summoning Convocation, but he cannot do so without the royal consent, nor can Convocation pass any canons without the same authority; and from its judicial proceed ings there lies an appeal to the sovereign in council. In 1664 the practice of granting sub sidies to the Crown, in the exercise of the right of self-taxation enjoyed by the clergy, was discontinued, and since that time their functions have been mostly formal. In the

reigns of William III and Queen Anne the Convocation of the province of Canterbury re covered some degree of importance, but in 1717 that temporary influence was again lost, and from that year down to a recent period the practice was to prorogue the Convocation as soon as it had assembled. Since 1852, however, the Canterbury Convocation has met regularly two or three times a year for the transaction of business relating to the Church, and in 1861 it exercised its legislative power, the first time for a long series of years. On the opening of a new Parliament a new Convocation is sum moned. If the Crown desires to refer any question to Convocation, °letters of business' are issued, directing that question to be taken into consideration. Other boclies in touch with the work of Convocation are the House of Laymen and the Representative Church Coun cil, which, however, are without constitutional status in the Church of England.

The term Convocation is also applied to the legislative body of the University of Oxford, composed of all masters of arts, and has the power of acceptance or rejection of statutes passed by the Hebdomadal Council and the Congregation. Consult Trevor, (The Convoca tion of the Two Provinces: Their Origin, Con stitution, and Forms of Proceeding' (London 1854) ; Lansbury, 'History of the Convocation of the Church of England) (London 1842).