« PreviousContinue »
Art. 14. THE CHURCH IN WALES.
1. Report of the Royal Commission on the Church of England and other Religious Bodies in Wales and Monmouthshire. Eight vols. London: Wyman, 1910. 2. The Church and the Nation: Charges and Addresses. By Mandell Creighton, sometime Bishop of London. London: Longmans, 1901.
3. Visitation Charges. By W. Stubbs, late Bishop of Oxford. London: Longmans, 1904.
4. A Defence of the Church of England against Disestablishment. By Roundell, Earl of Selbourne. Fifth Edition. London: Macmillan, 1911.
5. The Religious Aspects of Disestablishment and Disendowment. By Bishop Welldon, Dean of Manchester. London: Smith, Elder, 1911.
6. The Case Against Welsh Disendowment. By a Nonconformist Minister [Rev. J. Fovargue Bradley]. London: Pitman, 1911.
7. The Welsh Disestablishment Bill: what it means. the Bishop of St David's. London: The Central Church Committee for Defence and Instruction, 1911.
8. The Establishment and Extension of National Churches. By Thomas Chalmers, D.D. Glasgow: Collins, 1838. WELSH Disestablishment is a question of facts as well as of principles. In order to ascertain the facts a Royal Commission was appointed on June 21, 1906,
'to enquire into the origin, nature, amount and application of the temporalities, endowments and other properties of the Church of England in Wales and Monmouthshire, and into the provision made and the work done by the Churches of all denominations in Wales and Monmouthshire for the spiritual welfare of the people and the extent to which the people avail themselves of such provision, and to report thereon.'
Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman said in the House of Commons on July 11, 1906, that no enquiry by Royal Commission or otherwise was made into the condition and temporalities of the Established Church in Wales' before the introduction of the Welsh Disestablishment Bills of 1894 and 1895; and he regarded that omission as unfortunate because, owing to the absence of official
information on the questions which have now been submitted to a Royal Commission, the Government of the day were exposed to a good deal of embarrassment in the preparing and conduct of the measure.' * In appointing the Commission the Government had an eye on the conversion of English public opinion; at all events, Mr Lloyd George, addressing the Welsh National Convention at Cardiff on October 11, 1906, clearly anticipated a Report in favour of Disestablishment. The evidence and facts' (he remarked) 'collected and sifted carefully by the Royal Commission, they might depend upon it, would be accepted by English public opinion as more or less settling the dispute.'†
The first place in the terms of reference is assigned to the origin of Church endowments. The Chairman ruled that the historic legal origin of endowments was clearly included in the terms of reference (Q. 47133, 47169). Sir D. Brynmor Jones, the present Chairman of the Welsh parliamentary party, put several questions on the subject to two of the Welsh bishops, and intimated that he might introduce paragraphs upon the origin of endowments into the Report (Q. 47141), but apparently he thought better of it afterwards, for all that is said in the Report is: We think that it is not our duty to attempt to perform the almost impossible and very controversial task of ascertaining the historic legal origin of Church property, which includes property of such ancient origin as glebe lands and tithes' (p. 7). This sentence could hardly have been forgotten by Sir D. Brynmor Jones when he told a representative of the Press, 'I signed the Chairman's report, of course, . . . because every sentence in it is true.'§ Nevertheless, it appears from Mr McKenna's speech on January 25 last that he proposes to rest his case for Welsh Disendowment upon the narrow basis of a novel theory of the late origin of tithe in Wales. His words were:
'I venture to say there is not the slightest evidence whatever that there was any tithe system in Wales until after the Welsh Church was absorbed into the English Church.
*Hansard,' 4th series, vol. 160, p. 896.
† 'Western Mail,' October 12, 1906.
§ 'South Wales Daily News,' December 3, 1910.
did not exist in Wales until after their payment was imposed upon landowners as an obligation of law. Tithes in Wales were not the offspring of piety; they were the creation of law.' ('Daily News,' January 26, 1912).
Mr McKenna's theory is not based upon any evidence laid before the Royal Commission. No attempt was made to show before the Commission any distinction in origin between Church endowments in Wales and England. Mr McKenna has against him the pre-eminent authority of Bishop Stubbs, who said:
'The property of the Church has in great measure an immemorial title; and in the Welsh counties, I believe, one beyond the age of record, for the Christianity of Wales is, as I shall state by and by, the most ancient portion of the whole fabric of Church institution in these islands, and the property in the westernmost provinces far away the most ancient possession of the Church.' ('Visitation Charges,' p. 179.) During the time of fusion, says Bishop Stubbs, 'Welsh Bishops attended court and council, were consecrated and made their profession at Canterbury, bringing with them into the one system of established Churchmanship possessions of lands, tithes, canons, customs and traditions which they had from an antiquity to which our oldest foundations cannot pretend' (ib. p. 201).
According to all recognised principles of equity, when it is proposed to take away property after long tenure on the ground of an allegation of defective title, the burden of proof always rests on the attacking party. Under the Dissenters' Chapels Act of 1844 a prescriptive title of 25 years gives Nonconformist endowments full security irrespective of their origin. In face of the long prescriptive title which the Church in Wales has to its property, Mr McKenna must find some better reason for Welsh Disendowment than a mere assertion unsupported by the Report of the Royal Commission or by any historian of recognised authority.
Part II of the Majority Report (pp. 6-15) and Part II of the Memorandum of Archdeacon Evans and Lord Hugh Cecil (pp. 83-88) deal with the nature and amount of the endowments of benefices in Wales.* In a pamphlet
* Particulars of the nature and amount of these endowments, as laid before the Commission by Sir L. T. Dibdin, appear in Appendices A and B to
by the Bishop of St Davids, entitled 'The Welsh Disestablishment Bill; what it means,' the figures given in the Memorandum are brought up to the end of 1910 from the Reports of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and Queen Anne's Bounty for that year, and include under parochial endowments both temporary curates' grants and endowments of curacies from private benefactions. We take the figures, which are all net figures, from this pamphlet, as they have not been challenged in controversy. The two tables on p. 578 show the nature, sources and net amount of all the endowments of the Church in Wales at the end of 1910.
The Common Fund of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners is derived from property formerly belonging to bishoprics and chapters in England and Wales. The net income of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners from property in Wales is 33,7591. a year, of which 74937. a year† is the income of property situated in Wales formerly belonging to English bishoprics and chapters, leaving 26,2661. a year as the income of property formerly belonging to Welsh bishoprics and chapters. The payment made by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners to Bishops, Deans and Chapters and Archdeacons in Wales is 29,7601.† a year, which is more by 34941. a year than the revenue derived by the Commissioners from property formerly belonging to Welsh bishoprics and chapters. This deficit of 34947. a year, with the payments which the Commissioners make to parochial incumbents and curates in Wales, comes from the English part of the Commissioners' property.
The Bounty Fund administered by the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty is derived from First Fruits and Tenths paid annually to the Bounty by Bishops and Clergy since 1704. Since the grants to Wales out of the Bounty Fund between 1704 and 1906, amounting to 487,3501., are nearly three times the amount (viz., 163,000l.) derived by the Fund from Wales, it follows that two-thirds of Bounty Endowments in Wales (or 18,6261. a year) come from English First Fruits and Tenths and one-third (or
the Report (vol. i, part 2, pp. 3–76); and in Sir Lewis Dibdin's evidence (vol. ii, pp. 267-274) an account is given of the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in Wales and of the payments made by them to Diocesan and Cathedral officers and to unbeneficed clergy in Wales.
* Report, vol. i, p. 12.
† Ib. p. 86.