My Lord of Canterbury's return to His Majesty's Instructions, for the year 1636
May it please your sacred Majesty,
According to your royal commands expressed in your late instructions for the good of the Church, I do here most humbly present my yearly account for my diocese and province of Canterbury for this last year, ending at Christmas 1636.
And first for my own diocese.
I have every year acquainted your Majesty, and so must do now, that there are still about Ashford and Edgerton divers Brownists and other Separatists; but they are so very mean and poor people that we know not what to do with them. They are said to be the disciples of one Turner and Fenner, who were long since apprehended and imprisoned by order of your Majesty's High Commission Court; but how this part came to be so infected with such a humour of Separation I know not, unless it were by too much connivance at their first beginning, neither do I see any remedy like to be, unless some of their chief seducers be driven to abjure the kingdom, which must be done by the Judges at the Common Law, but it is not in our power.
Marginal comment by the king.[Inform me of the particulars and I shall command the judges to make them abjure.].
There have been heretofore many in Canterbury that were not conformable to church discipline, and would not kneel at the Communion, but they are all now very conformable, as I hear expressly by my Officers, and that there is no falling away of any to recusancy....
In the diocese of London I find that my lord the bishop there (now by your Majesty's grace and favour Lord High Treasurer of England) hath very carefully observed those instructions which belong to his own person, and for the diocese his lordship informs me of three great misdemeanours: the one committed by Dr Cornelius Burgess, who in a Latin sermon before the clergy of London uttered divers insolent passages against the bishops and government of the Church, and refused to give his lordship a copy of the sermon, so there was a necessity of calling him into the High Commission Court, which is done.
The second misdemeanour is of one Mr Wharton, a minister in Essex, who in a sermon at Chelmsford uttered many unfit and some scurrilous things, but for this he hath been converted, and received a canonical admonition, and upon his sorrow and submission any further censure is forborne.
The third misdemeanour which my Lord complains of is the late spreading and dispersing of some factious and malicious pamphlets against the bishops and government of the Church of England, and my lord further certifies that he hath reasonable ground to persuade him that those libellous pamphlets have been contrived, or abetted and dispersed, by some of the clergy of his diocese; and therefore desires me to use the authority of the High Commission for the discovery of this notorious practice, to prevent the mischiefs that will otherwise ensue upon the government of the Church. This, God willing, I shall see performed; but if the High Commission shall not have power enough, because one of these libels contains seditious matter in it and that which is very little short of treason (if any thing at all), then I humbly beg leave to add this to my Lord Treasurer's motion, and humbly to desire, that your Majesty will call it into a higher court, if you find cause, since I see no likelihood but that these troubles in the Church, if they be permitted, will break out into some sedition in the Commonwealth....
Marginal comment by the king.[What the High Commission cannot do in this I shall supply as I shall find cause, in a more powerful way.]
[Norwich.] His Lordship found a general defect in catechising quite through the diocese, but hath settled it. And in Norwich, where there are thirty four churches, there was no sermon in the morning on Sundays save only in four, but all put off till the afternoon, and so no catechising; but now he hath ordered that there shall be a sermon every morning and catechising in the afternoon in every church.
For lectures, they abound in Suffolk, and many set up by private gentlemen, even without so much as the knowledge of the Ordinary, and without any due observation to the Canons of the discipline of the Church. Divers of these his Lordship hath carefully regulated according to order, especially at St Edmundsbury [Bury St Edmunds], and viith their very good content, and suspended no Lecturer of whom he might obtain conformity....At Yarmouth, where there was great division heretofore for many years, their lecturer being censured in the High Commission about two years since went into New England; since which time there hath been no lecture, and very much peace in the town, and all ecclesiastical orders well observed.
Marginal comment by king[Let him go, we are well rid of him.]
But in Norwich one Mr Bridge, rather than he would conform, hath left his lecture and is gone into Holland, the lecturers in the Country generally observing no Church Orders at all and yet the Bishop hath carried it with that temper, and upon their promise and his hope of conformity, that he hath inhibited but three in Norfolk and as many in Suffolk, of which one is no graduate and hath been a common stageplayer.
His Lordship humbly craves direction what he shall do with such scholars (some in Holy Orders and some not) as knights and private gentlemen keep in their houses, under pretence to teach their children, as also with some divines that are beneficed in towns, or near, but live in gentlemen's houses. For my part, I think it very fit the beneficed men were presently commanded to reside upon their cures, and for the rest, your Majesty's Instructions allow none to keep chaplains but such as are qualified by law; all which notwithstanding, I most humbly submit (as the Bishop does) to your Majesty's judgement.
Marginal comment by king [I approve your judgement in this. I only add that care must be taken that even those qualified by law keep none but conformable men.]. . .
Worcester. My lord the bishop of this see certifies that your Majesty's instructions are carefully observed, and that there are only two lectures in the city of Worcester, but very conformable, and that they shall no longer continue than they are so, and that one of them preaches on Sundays in the afternoons after catechising and service in the parish churches, and ending before evening prayers in the Cathedral....
And so I most humbly submit this my yearly account of my province of Canterbury to your Majesty's princely wisdom. Whitehall 21 February 1637.