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1. THE ecclefiaftical divifion is, primarily, into two provinces, those of Canterbury and York. A province is the circuit of an arch-bifhop's jurifdiction. Each province contains divers diocefes, or fees of fuffragan bifhops; whereof Canterbury includes twenty one, and York three: befides the bishoprick of the isle of Man, which was annexed to the province of York by king Henry VIII. Every diocese is divided into archdeaconries, whereof there are fixty in all; each archdeaconry into rural deanries, which are the circuit of the archdeacon's and rural dean's jurisdiction, of whom hereafter; and every deanry is divided into parishes".
A PARISH is that circuit of ground in which the fouls under the care of one parfon or vicar do inhabit. These are com puted to be near ten thousand in number'. How antient the divifion of parishes is, may at present be difficult to ascertain; for it seems to be agreed on all hands, that in the early ages of christianity in this ifland, parishes were unknown, or at least signified the fame that a diocese does now. There was then no appropriation of ecclesiastical dues to any particular church; but every man was at liberty to contribute his tithes to whatever prieft or church he pleased, provided only that he did it to some: or if he made no fpecial appointment or appropriation thereof, they were paid into the hands of the bishop, whose duty it was to diftribute them among the clergy, and for other pious purpofes, according to his own difcretion'.
MR Camden" fays England was divided into parishes by archbifhop Honorius about the year 630. Sir Henry Hobart lays it down that parishes were firft erected by the council of Lateran, which was held A. D. 1179. Each widely differing from the other, and both of them perhaps from the truth; which will
1 Co. Litt. 94.
t Seld. of tith. 9. 4. 2 Inft. 646. Hob. 296.
u in his Britannia.
w Hob. 296.
probably be found in the medium between the two extremes. For Mr Selden has clearly fhewn, that the clergy lived in common without any divifion of parishes, long after the time mentioned by Camden. And it appears from the Saxon laws, that parishes were in being long before the date of that council of Lateran, to which they are ascribed by Hobart.
WE find the diftinction of parishes, nay even of motherchurches, fo carly as in the laws of king Edgar, about the year 970. Before that time the confecration of tithes was in general arbitrary; that is, every man paid his own (as was before obferved) to what church or parifh he pleafed. But this being liable to be attended with either fraud, or at least caprice, in the perfons paying; and with either jealoufies or mean compliances in fuch as were competitors for receiving them; it was now ordered by the law of king Edgar', that "dentur omnes decimae primariae "ecclefiae ad quam parochia pertinet." However, if any thane, or great lord, had a church within his own demefnes, diftinct from the mother-church, in the nature of a private chapel; then, provided fuch church had a coemitery or confecrated place of burial belonging to it, he might allot one third of his tithes for the maintenance of the officiating minifter: but if it had no coemitery, the thane muft himself have maintained his chaplain by fome other means; for in fuch cafe all his tithes were ordained to be paid to the primariae ecclefiae or mother-church.
THIS proves that the kingdom was then univerfally divided into pariflies; which divifion happened probably not all at once, but by degrees. For it feems pretty clear and certain, that the boundaries of parishes were originally ascertained by those of a manor or manors: fince it very seldom happens that a manor extends itself over more parishes than one, though there are often many manors in one parish. The lords, as chriftianity spread itfelf, began to build churches upon their own demefnes or waftes,
x of tithes. c. 9.
y 6. 1.
z Ibid. c. 2. Canute, c. 11.
See alfo the laws of king about the year 1030.
to accommodate their tenants in one or two adjoining lordships; and, in order to have divine service regularly performed therein, obliged all their tenants to appropriate their tithes to the maintenance of the one officiating minifter, instead of leaving them at liberty to distribute them among the clergy of the diocese in general: and this tract of land, the tithes whereof were fo appropriated, formed a distinct parish. Which will well enough account for the frequent intermixture of parishes one with another. For if a lord had a parcel of land detached from the main of his eftate, but not fuflicient to form a parifh of itself, it was natural for him to endow his newly erected church with the tithes of thofe disjointed lands; cfpecially if no church was then built in any lordship adjoining to thofe out-lying parcels.
THUS parishes were gradually formed, and parish churches endowed with the tithes that arose within the circuit affigned. But fome lands, either because they were in the hands of irreligious and careless owners, or were fituate in forefts and defart places, or for other now unsearchable reasons, were never united to any parish, and therefore continue to this day extraparochial; and their tithes are now by immemorial custom payable to the king instead of the bifhop, in truft and confidence that he will diftribute them, for the general good of the church': yet extraparochial waftes and marfh-lands, when improved and drained, are by the statute 17 Geo. II. c. 37. to be affeffed to all parochial rates in the parish next adjoining. And thus much for the ecclefiaftical divifion of this kingdom.
2. THE Civil divifion of the territory of England is into counties, of thofe counties into hundreds, of those hundreds into tithings or towns. Which divifion, as it now ftands, feems to owe it's original to king Alfred: who, to prevent the rapines and diforders which formerly prevailed in the realm, instituted tithings; fo called, from the Saxon, becaufc ten freeholders with their families compofed one. Thefe all dwelt together, and were
a 2 Inft, 647. 2 Rop. 44. Cro.. Eliz. $1.
fureties or free pledges to the king for the good behaviour of each other; and, if any offence was committed in their diftrict, they were bound to have the offender forthcoming. And therefore antiently no man was fuffered to abide in England above torty days, unless he were enrolled in fome tithing or decennary. One of the principal inhabitants of the tithing is annually appointed to prefide over the reft, being called the tithing-man, the headborough, (words which speak their own etymology) and in fome countries the borfholder, or borough's-ealder, being supposed the discreetest man in the borough, town, or tithing".
TITHINGS, towns, or vills, are of the fame fignification in law; and are faid to have had, each of them, originally a church and celebration of divine fervice, facraments, and burials: though that seems to be rather an ecclefiaftical, than a civil diftinction. The word town or vill is indeed, by the alteration of times and language, now become a generical term, comprehending under it the feveral fpecies of cities, boroughs, and common towns. A city is a town incorporated, which is or hath been the fee of a bishop; and though the bishoprick be diffolved, as at Westminster, yet ftill it remaineth a city. A borough is now understood to be a town, either corporate or not, that fendeth burgeffes to parliament. Other towns there are, to the number fir Edward Coke fays" of 8803, which are neither cities nor boroughs; fome of which have the privileges of markets, and others not; but both are equally towns in law. To several of these towns there are fmall appendages belonging, called hamlets; which are taken notice of in the ftatute of Exeter', which makes frequent mention of entire vills, demi-vills, and hamlets. Entire vills fir Henry Spelman* conjectures to have confifted of
ten freemen or frank-pledges, demi-vills of five, and hamlets of less than five. Thefe little collections of houfes are fometimes under the fame administration as the town itself, fometimes governed by feparate officers; in which laft cafe they are, to fome purposes in law, looked upon as diftinct townships. These towns, as was before hinted, contained each originally but one parish, and one tithing; though many of them now, by the encrease of inhabitants, are divided into feveral parishes and tithings: and, fometimes, where there is but one parish there are two or more vills or tithings,
As ten families of frecholders made up a town or tithing, fo ten tithings compofed a fuperior divifion, called a hundred, as confifting of ten times ten families. The hundred is governed by an high constable or bailiff, and formerly there was regularly held in it the hundred court for the trial of caufes, though now fallen into difufe. In fome of the more northern counties these hundreds are called wapentakes'.
THE fubdivifion of hundreds into tithings feems to be most peculiarly the invention of Alfred: the inftitution of hundreds themselves he rather introduced than invented. For they feem to have obtained in Denmark": and we find that in France a regulation of this fort was made above two hundred years before; fet on foot by Clotharius and Childebert, with a view of obliging each district to answer for the robberies committed in it's own divifion. Thefe divisions were, in that country, as well military as civil: and each contained a hundred freemen, who were fubject to an officer called the centenarius; a number of which cen tenarii were themselves fubject to a fuperior officer called the count or comes". And indeed fomething like this inftitution of hundreds may be traced back as far as the antient Germans, from whom were derived both the Franks who became mafters of Gaul, and the Saxons who fettled in England: for both the thing and