HL Deb 17 December 1847 vol 95 cc1337-41

rose to put the question of which he had given notice respecting the appointment of Dr. Hampden to the see of Hereford: Having recently seen in the Times newspaper certain documents relative to the appointment of Dr. Hampden as Bishop of Hereford, and believing that they must have some foundation—though at the same time he was aware that many publications vent forth to the world in a shape which might not be altogether authentic—he felt it his duty, having heard very much on this subject in the diocese in which he lived, to put some questions to the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Lansdowne) respecting it. Though his diocesan, possessing great ability, might not, perhaps, have expressed his opinions on this subject as other right rev. prelates had done, yet he (the Marquess of Londonderry) had had various communications with many clergymen and others in that diocese, and he could say, that their alarm at the proposed appointment was equal to that entertained by the country at large. Having seen, he repeated, the published document, which was signed by no less than thirteen bishops, at the head of whom was a right rev. prelate of sound principles and great learning, he could not have believed that such a document, addressed to the First Minister of the Crown, would have received from that individual an answer which he must characterise as most inadequate and unsatisfactory. Since the period when that answer first appeared, it had received from a right rev. prelate so complete, able, and full a reply, that he did not suppose that any one could now attempt to uphold that communication of the First Minister of the Crown, if it really were his. If no more reason were given for the appointment in question than appeared in the letter of the noble Lord at the head of the Government, he believed that it would create great dissatisfaction in the country, prove highly injurious to the present Government, and tend to increase unfortunate differences in the Church. He was quite sure that the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), if he were determined to press this appointment forward, could not be displeased or surprised that a humble individual like himself should wish, if possible, to bring it forward in discussion before the Legislature of the country, because the noble Lord himself, at a former period, when an appointment was made of a high diplomatic character which there was no reason or ground to dispute, challenged that appointment, and said that it was the duty of every Member of the Legislature, if he thought any appointment of the Crown improper, to bring it before the face of the country. He (the Marquess of Londonderry), therefore, had a right, following the example of the noble Lord, to challenge the present appointment to the see of Hereford. Of course, he admitted the right of the Crown to make the appointment; but as to the wisdom of the advice given by the Minister to the Crown on the point, he had his doubts. Indeed, he considered that advice to be not only inexpedient, but unwise and impolitic at the present moment, and fatal to the best interests of the Church and the country. He had been assured that, if the appointment were persevered in, it would be the cause of great discontent. He thought he had a right to bring this subject before their Lordships' notice, because, following the example of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), he conceived that he was entitled to find fault or cavil at any appointment made by the First Minister of the Crown, and because he believed this appointment to be opposed to the universal feeling of the country. He therefore wished to ask the noble Marquess opposite, whether the published documents to which he had referred were authentic and official; secondly, whether it was the determination of the Government to persevere in the appointment to which they referred; and, thirdly, whether it was the determination of the Government to take measures between this and the termination of the recess, and before the return of the right rev. prelates from their dioceses permitted them to attend that House, to confirm that appointment, and thus to prevent any noble Lord moving an address to Her Majesty, if he should so think fit, on the subject of the appointment, before it actually took place? Whether, in other words, Her Majesty's Ministers intended so to hurry forward the measures connected with the appointment as to prevent it being discussed in their Lordships' or the other House of Parliament by those who thought the appointment uncalled for, inexpedient, and in every respect unjustifiable?


The noble Marquess gave notice yesterday of his intention to put two questions on the subject to which he has referred; and I am sure that the noble Marquess will excuse me, if, understanding those questions, I confine myself to answering them, and not his remarks, which, perhaps, I do not understand so well. The first of the two questions is, whether the remonstrance of the Bishops against the recommendation of the Rev. Dr. Hampden to the see of Hereford, addressed to Lord J. Russell, is an authentic and official document? I apprehend that document not to be an official document; but if the noble Marquess asks me whether I believe that document to be correct and genuine as published (I do not know how published), I have to tell the noble Marquess that I believe it to be perfectly correct. The next question is, whether the Government intends to persevere in that recommendation? My answer to that question the noble Marquess may infer from the best authority—the Gazette of Tuesday last, in which he will find notice of the issue to the Dean and Chapter of Hereford of a congé d'elire. The next question of the noble Marquess, of which he has given no notice is, whether the congé d'elire having been issued, that appointment will be pressed? I have to answer that the appointment will be pressed. The particular moment when it will take place I am unable to state, as that depends on certain forms with which I am not acquainted; but I can assure the noble Marquess that the matter will take the usual course. As to what the noble Marquess has stated as to the constitutional right of the Members of the Legislature to discuss this subject, there is no doubt, if due notice be given of the intention to do so; that due notice being most particularly required on a question directly affecting the prerogatives of the Crown.


My Lords, in the absence of so many of the right rev. Prelates more accustomed than myself to address your Lordships, I feel called upon to make a few observations on this subject. I have filled the office of bishop for thirty-four years, and during that period I have enjoyed the friendship of at least sixty bishops; and I must say that it was with very deep regret that I heard the determination which had been expressed in reference to the appointment in question. I believe that determination has been founded on very erroneous grounds, because, in the answer given to the Bishops, as well as in that given to the lay members of the Church, the noble Lord who wrote them seemed to have entertained the mistaken belief that the opposition had arisen from a certain portion of the Church to whom he alludes in these answers. I can positively state that this is not the case. There is no person more opposed than I am to what are called tractarian principles, and in my own diocese, comprehending upwards of 600 clergymen, the feeling is almost unanimous in opposition to those who are supposed to entertain extreme opinions in the Church. In one district 103 clergymen assembled, all having different views, and yet there were only two dissentients to the address which was agreed to. That address was moved by a person supposed to have tractarian views, and seconded by one supposed to entertain evangelical views. Therefore, I think that the noble Lord is deceived in this respect. I believe the noble Lord has acted from conscientious motives, and I have a great respect for the noble Lord personally, but I regret the determination to which he has come. We are told that the congê d'elire is issued. This may be true. I do not know what course the Dean and Chapter of Hereford may adopt. They may possibly decline the election, and in that case Her Majesty has the power of creating the bishop. Therefore, whether they elect or not is only matter of importance as far as regards the expression of their own opinion. But after this there is another step which must be taken. All the bishops in the province of Canterbury are obliged, before consecration, to appear at Bow Church, and go through the ceremony of confirmation, and at that assembly all opposers are called on by the Queen's Proctor to come forward and state whether they have any objections to make. The right rev. Prelate here read, in reference to this ceremony, the following extract from Burn's Ecclesiastical Law:A citation against opposers, which (the time of confirmation being first fixed) is published and set up by order, and in the name of the archbishop, at the church were it is to be held, as well to notify the day of confirmation as to cite all opposers (if there be any) who will object against the said election, or the person elected, to appear on that day, according to the direction of ancient canon law But if any appear, it seemeth that they shall be admitted to make their exceptions in due form of law. To which purpose, a passage in Collier's Ecclesiastical History (vol. ii., page 745) is applicable:—' Soon after the recess of Parliament, Bishop Laud was translated from Bath and Wells to London, and Montague promoted to the see of Chichester. Before he was consecrated an unexpected rub was thrown i in the way. At the confirmation of bishops there is a public notice given that if any person can object either against the party elected or the legality of the election, they are to appear and offer their exceptions at the day prefixed. This intimation being given, one Jones, a bookseller, attended with the mob. Appearing at the confirmation, he excepted against Montague, as a person unqualified for the episcopal dignity; and, to be somewhat particular, he charged him with Popery, Arminianism, and other heterodoxes, for which his books had been censured in the former Parliament. But Dr. Rives, who then officiated for Brent, the vicar-general, disappointed this challenge.' Now, these are my grounds for believing that if this appointment should be brought before the proper tribunal, it might not yet take place. I myself should be satisfied with its being brought before the proper tribunal. I have not the honour of knowing Dr. Hampden; but, with the exception of his holding what I conceive to be erroneous doctrines, I believe him to be a very estimable person. If the appointment were brought before the proper tribunal, no doubt the result, whatever it might be, would be satisfactory; but until it is so brought, my objections will remain in full force. I must state that I, for one, many years ago, informed candidates for holy orders from Oxford, that I should require them to have a certificate, not from the Regius Professor of Divinity, but a testimonial from the Margaret Professor. I can only add that, supposing at the confirmation, which is one of the most solemn ceremonies of the Church, and at which it is said by lawyers that bishops are not obliged to confirm against their consciences, any legal objection should be made to the newly appointed bishop, I will be no party concerned in the ceremony.


said, that as there was no Motion before the House, he certainly should not make any remarks on what had fallen from the right rev. Prelate.