Church lecture, 1630

The documents below are preserved in the State Papers. The sort of lecture which is meant here is defined by the OED as "a course or series of lectures", where the lectures were "discourses of the nature of sermons, either less formal in style than the ordinary sermon, or delivered on occasions other than those of the regular order of church services" and "preached by a lecturer".

The problems for Winslow were in the King's Instructions to the Clergy, drawn up by Charles I and William Laud, Bishop of London (later Archbishop of Canterbury) in December 1629. The third instruction about lectures was:

That where a Lecture is set up in a Market-Town, it may be read by a Company of Grave and Orthodox Divines near adjoining, and in the same Diocess; and that they preach in Gowns, and not in Cloaks, as too many do use.

Winslow was in the Diocese of London because of the St Albans connection, but most of North Bucks was in the Diocese of Lincoln. Lectures had to stop because the neighbouring clergymen who assisted Robert Maynwaring, Vicar of Winslow, were from a different diocese. That is the reason for the following petition to Bishop Laud.

National Archives, SP16/167/41 (May 26 1630)

Right reverend father in God

May it please yo(u)r good L(o)rd(shi)ps to take into yo(u)r notice that motion which wee ministers (whose names are underwritten, your submissive petitioners) present unto you concerninge the lecture  of Winslow in the Countie of Bucks, w(hi)ch may stand or fall as yo(u)r L(o)rd(shi)p will for the towne belongeth to the jurisdiction of St Albans, and so is a branch of London Diocesse By reason whereof wee have alwayes sought to establish it w(i)th the consent of your predecessors who willingly yelded the same unto us. Bishop Montaigne your immediate predecessor confirmed us in it all his time and afore him Bishop Kinge did the like. And now we intreate your Lordship favor to give way unto yt so pious, so blessed a worke, so necessarie for that place so profitable for the whole countrie that if anie out of the pretence of your authoritie have or shall hereafter oppose us in our proceedings we may out of your countenance and reestablishinge of the lecture be able to controll them. We denie not that most of us are out of London diocesse yet seeinge we are neighbors to the place, and such as not onely embrace the Rites & ceremonies of the Church, but obey the rules lately prescribed, having alwayes bine peaceable and conformable to the present disciplines we hope your Lordship will take us into your patronage, and strengthen us in that lecture that hath bene so well begun, & so happily continued without anie just offence to anie man. Wherein we desire your Lordships approbation though it be but in a line or two, that we may goe on without let or impediment when we can shew your Lorships hand for our confirmation against all opposites.  Thus intreatinge your Lordship to interpret our boldness to the best, with all due respectivenesse we humbly take our leave.

Your honors to be commanded
William Sparke, Rector of Bletchley
Richard Brett, Rector of Quaynton
Robert Whitehall Rector of Addington
Henry Wilkinson, Rector of Wadesdon
Samuel Friers Rector of Horwood Mag.
Robt Maynwaring Vicar of Winslow
Robert Wallis Rector of Mursley
Samuel Clutterbuck Rector of Dunton
Robert Sharrock of Drayton Parslow
John Aris, Vicar of Steepcleydon

The question was referred to the Archdeacon of St Albans, whose office sent this not very helpful answer.

National Archives, SP16/168/6 (1 June 1630)

Right Reverend                                                                                                                
Beinge given to understand by this Bearer Mr Robert Mainwaringe Vicar of Winslow that upon the petic(i)on & request of Doctor Brett & others for yo(u)r L(or)d(shi)pps app(ro)bac(i)on of the Lecture latelie held at Winslow w(i)thin yo(u)r L(or)d(shi)pps Diocesse & now latelie discontinued by reason of his Ma(jes)ties late instrucc(i)ons w(hi)ch he receaved from your L(or)d(shi)pp : you were pleased to give answers that the state & condic(i)on of that place was best knowne to me, beinge Officiall of the Archdeacionrie of St. Albans, & therefore could give noe further \answere/ untill you were advertised by me what was meete to be done in that p(ar)ticular parte of the Archdeaconry scituate w(i)thin the County of Buck: These are to certifie your L(or)d(shi)pp that the Minister of the place beinge verie able sufficient & diligent in preachinge & officiating that Cure & all the Lecturers besides him of Lincoln diocesse & noe parte of my Jurisdiction either as Officiall of St. Albans, or as Commissary & Officiall for the Archdeaconry of Hunts in the diocesse of Lincoln & soe not subiect to my Visitac(i)ons I shall not be able to doe his Ma(jes)tie that service w(hi)ch I desire, nor to make such due Certificate to yo(u)r L(or)d(shi)pp of their conformities to the doctrine & discipline established as is meete & therefore can give yo(u)r L(or)d(shi)pp noe encouradgment for the establishinge of that w(hi)ch is soe opposite to his Ma(jes)ties saide instrucc(i)ons beinge most proffitable & necessarie for the happie estate of the Church & which I shall alwaies endeavo(u)r to my uttermost to be dulie obeyed in my Chardge. And even soe with remembrance of my humble service & dutie to yo(u)r good L(or)d(shi)pp: he takes leave.
St Julians neere St Albans                                                             Yo(u)r Honors to  Command
1 June 1630                                                                                         Ja(mes)  : Rolfe

Nevertheless, Winslow was granted a special exemption to resume the lectures.

National Archives, SP16/169/43 (21 June 1630)

Right Reverend Father in God   

Understanding by your leters directed to Mr Maynwaring vicar of Winslow, and by him with your love commended unto us what a care your Lordship hath had of our in our late motion, that neither the reputation of your Officiall suffer, nor our Lecture be quite silenced; we cannot but very greately blesse God for your Lordship and acknowledge our unfained thankefulnes in that behalf: the rather because your Lordship out of your singular propension to goodnes, and zeale to uphold so noble a worke hath importuned his Maiesty to dispense with his own Instructions in this pointe whereunto, throughe the speciall favour of God seconding so happy a tongue, his Maiesty hath yeelded, upon this condition that all we who are Colleagues and fellow labourers in this worke signifie in a Leter subscribed with all our hands that we have continued this Lecture with peace concord and conformity to the Church of England both in doctrine and discipline and that we will so continue it, and that none be chosen into our number hereafter but with the leave of the ordinary. All which we willingly embrace affirming seriously that we have observed these cautions both for doctrine and discipline heretofore, and that we will doe the like hereafter: and for election in the time of a vacancy we purpose to leave it to the Ordinary alone. We waite your Lordsh(ip)s receipte of these lines desiring to understand it with the soonest that we may revive our Lecture instantly according to the expectation of the country. Thus craving your Lordships patronage and countenaunce in all that we lawfully undertake, with all due respectiveness we humbly take our leave

June 21 1630
your Honours to be commaunded

William Sparke                 Robert Brett
Thomas Egerton              Henry Wilkinson
Samuel Frier                    Robt Maynwaring
John Aris                         John Bartin
Robt Whitehall                Robert Sharrock
Samuel Clutterbuck        Edmund Cowdall
Robert Wallis

Copyright 27 May, 2020