Page images

Church property could not be in the hands of a better Commission. All that seems wanting is that the Law should regulate the proceedings of that Commission, and point out the course which they are to pursue. If paid Commissioners are appointed, we shall, in the first place, have so much of the Ecclesiastical funds wasted in salaries; and in the next place, the result will probably be, to give a certain number of hangers on of government, or adventurers, pensions and Ecclesiastical influence. We do not want to see Mr. Horsman salaried by the Church, though we admit that his agitation has done some good as well as harm. We should say, Let the present Ecclesiastical unpaid Commission be limited and tied down to any extent; but let us have them in preference to any paid Commissioners appointed by government. We dread jobbing in the latter case; and the funds to be dealt with are at once so sacred and so very large in their amount, that there ought to be the highest securities for strict integrity of administration.

With reference to the second and third heads of the Plan, Mr. Colquhoun has the following explanatory remarks:

[ocr errors]

"First, I notice the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd heads of the scheme, which, as your Lordship will observe, relate to the present incomes of the bishops, the sources of their income, and a possible application of the surplus. We had to notice, that the revenues of the Ecclesiastical corporations, whether bishops or chapters, were, for the most part, derived from land; and yet, that this landed property, great in extent and value, is managed on principles which individual proprietors have long set aside as wasteful. It is generally held on tenures (leases for lives, or terms of years, with fines and small reserved rents) which obtain an occasional bonus and immediate returns, by a large sacrifice of the real income of the property. Nor is this tenure satisfactory to the lessee; for, it may be brought to an end, as has been done in certain cases, and is now more likely than ever to be effected through the intervention of Parliament. In this manner there is uncertainty on all sides: the possession of the property is, in fact, divided, and divided between parties, neither of whom have an interest in expending money on permanent improvements. That the loss thus occasioned to the Church must be large, is unquestionable, however difficult it may be to fix the precise amount. We have, however, some data, which enable us to conjecture it.

"In regard to one portion of the cathedral property, the legislature has already acted, and has placed the separate prebendal' estates under the control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, leaving them to be managed on the same principles on which private property is regulated. When the prebendal estates were managed by the prebendaries, they produced to the Church, as may be seen by reference to the Report

1 I use this as a generic term, comprising both the separate estates of prebendaries, and those of other Ecclesiastical offices in cathedrals. But besides these the Ecclesiastical Commissioners have now vested in them the estates of sinecure rectors.

on its Revenues in 1835, an income of 60,000l. per annum: not exceeding one fourth of the real annual proceeds of the property. These have now been ascertained to reach 240,000l. per annum, and it is calculated that, under the system of management now adopted by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, the available income will be at least 120,000l. per annum, or double their former amount.

"In the same Report the average net income of episcopal estates is placed at 160,000l. It is actually nearer 170,000%.

"I am far from saying that we should gain as much by a change in the management of episcopal estates. It is only due to our prelates to remark, that their estates, especially of late years, have been managed better than the separate chapter estates. Still, the vice of the system, to which I have referred, remains: no man will give a sum of money as a fine, without receiving a full equivalent for the advance; and the age and circumstances of the bishop will often make that equivalent more than a full one. Besides this, the bishop cannot be expected to make permanent improvements, where he may never reap the advantage: and the lessee is deterred from making them, both by the uncertainty of his tenure, which every agitation of this question unsettles, and by the fact that his outlay would enhance his fine."

"There is no doubt, therefore, that the increased income from episcopal property would, under a better system, be large. If we apply to episcopal property the same principle of calculation which is applicable to the prebendal estates, the 160,000l. per annum given in the Report as their income, would represent an actual value of 640,000l. per annum, producing, under an altered system of management, an actual available income of 320,000l. per annum. It would be quite indefen. sible, that, when we need all the income that the Church can yield, we should throw away wantonly a yearly income of above 150,000l. per annum; an income which would endow 1500 clergymen with 100%. per annum, supply pastors to 1500 parishes, and be the instrument of giving instruction to three or four millions of people."

In order to complete this view of the funds which may be attainable for Church Extension, we must refer to a subsequent part of Mr. Colquhoun's pamphlet, where he points to an improved system of managing the property of the deans and chapters.

"The estates of the chapters are still managed by them, as by an independent body. They are still subject to the evils of fines, and to the waste which fines must always occasion, when paid to a party who has a passing interest in the property. The consequence is (as in the case of the bishop) that the intentions of Parliament are defeated. Parliament intended (if I rightly conjecture) to give to the members of chapters a fixed income. Their income varies, and may rise to a large

2 Mr. Finlaison made an estimate, founded upon a great number of life and year leases, of which he ascertained the years outstanding, and the ages of the existing lives, and his calculation was, that the average share of the whole fee, in the possession of the Church, at any time under the present system of leasing, was only twenty-three per cent.-the remaining portion being in the lessees.

amount from the falling-in of fines. Parliament designed that this large property should be administered so as first to supply the chapter; secondly, to yield a large surplus for the pressing wants of the Church. The system of fines (as we need not again repeat) stops the improvement of the land, and makes the surplus dwindle away. The ChurchRevenue Commissioners have stated the cathedral corporate property to yield 200,000l. a year. It may be estimated that, if dealt with upon the improved system, that income would be doubled. Here again we may set down an income of 200,000l. a year as lost to the Church. Are we wrong in urging your Lordship to a prompt revision of this? The yearly income of the Church now abstracted, without benefit to any branch of it, stands thus, on the most moderate estimate :

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

We observe with satisfaction that a Commission has been appointed, with the object of investigating the subject of Church property, and ascertaining how it can be made more productive. The character of a measure of this kind depends chiefly on the animus with which it is undertaken, and the principles of those who are to take part in it; and in both these respects we see reason to hope for advantage to the Church's cause from the Commission. It has certainly not arisen from any feeling adverse to the Church; and it comprises several names which afford a sufficient pledge for the friendly character of its proceedings, and the intelligence and zeal which will be brought to bear on them. In point of fact, we may presume that the appointment of this Commission arose in no inconsiderable degree from the steps taken by Lord Harrowby and others last spring, and which this pamphlet relates. There cannot be the slightest doubt that, by a different system in the management of Ecclesiastical property, large sums may be raised for Church purposes in England. A measure of the kind has been actually in operation for many years in Ireland. When the Church Temporalities Act for Ireland was passed in 1833, the Irish Ecclesiastical Commissioners, constituted by that Act, were empowered to sell to the lessees of Ecclesiastical property a perpetual right to the lands they held, subject to a rent equivalent to the amount of the rent and renewal-fines which they had previously been in the habit of paying. We believe that several hundred thousand pounds have been paid in Ireland for the purchase of such perpetuities, and the amount ought to have been, and was evidently intended by the legislature to have been much larger; but the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, in their estimate of the value of lands for the

purchase of perpetuities, valued the lands, not according to their real and actual worth, which the Act of Parliament actually directed to be done in very plain terms, but according to the old conventional value which had been assumed by the bishops as the basis for calculating their renewal-fines, and which was in all cases much less than the real value, and in many cases extremely So. So that the tenants, by this very partial proceeding of the Commissioners, which ought to have been the subject of Parliamentary inquiry, were most unfairly benefited at the expense of the Church property. We trust that those who are interested in the English Church property will be on their guard against any similar sacrifice to the Church tenants in this country; and will so narrowly sift and examine any measure which may be brought forward, that there may be no mistake against the Church's interests. We hope that they will carefully and diligently consider all the details of the working of such a measure quite as much as the general principle, or else their labour may be in a great degree frustrated.

The increased amount which may be actually raised from the Church property by a different management cannot fail to be considerable. Even if we were to suppose that Mr. Colquhoun's estimate of 350,000l. per annum were somewhat too high (which we have no grounds at present for assuming), still, if we deducted 25 or 50 per cent. from his estimate, the income left would be one of the highest importance. We should have, by some arrange ment of this kind, a permanent fixed income secured to the bishops and to the chapters, who might still continue to manage their own lands; and we should gain perhaps from 200,000l. to 300,000l. per annum, for endowing parishes in destitute localities.

There is another measure proposed in this Plan, which is essential, in order to remove a very crying evil, and one which brings great odium on the Church. We refer to the last head, which recommends the annexation of canonries and minor canonries to ill-endowed benefices in popular districts. Under the present system, canonries are almost invariably held with parochial benefices; but, as there is no restriction as to the value of those benefices, it generally happens that those who have sufficient interest to be appointed to canonries have also sufficient interest to obtain the wealthiest parochial benefices. Thus cathedral preferment is heaped on the wealthy incumbent, who has no need of it, while the poor and hard-working clergyman is passed over. This is the sort of thing which is sure to be laid hold of by the enemies of the Church. Nepotism, or the exhibition of worldly interest in any shape, lowers and degrades the Church, and strengthens its opponents. To annex canonries to rich benefices

is an abuse which every one can understand; so that the present system is more than wasteful: it is directly hostile to the Church; it is fraught with danger. Mr. Colquhoun has observed, in his pamphlet (p. 25), that 215 dignitaries of our cathedrals hold 308 parochial benefices, and he takes as specimens,-"A canonry of 1000l. a year is united with the living of St. Giles', Cripplegate, of 2018/.; another with St. Pancras, whose income is 19107.; one with St. Giles', income 9687.; a fourth to St. George's, Bloomsbury, income 10007. While in Westminster, there are four parishes, with populations varying from 24,000 to 37,000 each. In Southwark, five parishes, with populations varying from 14,000 to 64,000 each."

Mr. Colquhoun adds, that, excluding canonries annexed to professorships in the Universities, there are 207 canonries which might be annexed to parochial benefices of small value; and as canonries in general are by the Parliamentary regulations to be made 500l. per annum, except those of St. Paul's, Durham, Westminster, Christchurch, Oxford, which will amount to 1000l. or upwards, it is clear that here is a fund of not less than 100,000%. per annum, which ought to be applied to increase the value of poor livings, by annexing the canonries to them.

The next question to be considered is, what is the amount of destitution actually existing. This is a point of the highest practical importance, and we greatly wonder, that amidst all the efforts which have been made to promote the cause of Church extension, no one has ever yet attempted to get something like an estimate furnished by those who are alone competent to give it-we mean, the bishops of the Church. Mr. Colquhoun agrees with Mr. Palmer's estimate of 3000 as the number of additional clergy now requisite. Lord Ashley, we observe, in a recent debate, stated his opinion that 500 clergy would be sufficient. Here are very different estimates certainly, and we really think that there ought to be some way of determining so important a question on grounds that may be depended on. For ourselves, we are inclined greatly to prefer Mr. Colquhoun's estimate to Lord Ashley's, for this reason: Lord Ashley states the number of parishes in England comprising a population of more than 4000 at 279; such, at least, is the number stated in the reports of his speech, which we have seen. We apprehend that there must be some mistake either in the report, or in the calculation, for, as far as we can judge, the number of parishes exceeding 4000 in population must largely exceed 279. We have taken the trouble to reckon the numbers of such parishes mentioned in the Clergy-list of this year, under the letters C, H, and T; and we find 113 parishes with upwards of 4000 inha

« PreviousContinue »