HL Deb 24 May 1867 vol 187 cc1016-20

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read the second time, reminded their Lordships that a similar Bill which he had brought in last Session had been withdrawn on its third reading in consequence of some objection which had been raised by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Bill did not propose to consecrate ground by Act of Parliament, but to remove legal disabilities which existed with regard to the performance of certain services in unconsecrated churchyards, by holding that to be consecrated ground which was added to ground already consecrated. He had received communications from clergymen and laymen, from all parts of the country, in favour of the Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Redesdale.)


gave full credit to the noble Lord for the object he had in bringing forward this Bill, which was to diminish the expense of consecration, and in some cases to do away altogether with those expenses. He, however, objected to the manner in which that object was sought to be obtained, for the Bill called upon the Bishop to pronounce under his hand and seal that a piece of ground was consecrated which had not really been consecrated. He should propose in place of the 1st clause the following words, which he thought would meet the objection—namely:— It shall be lawful for the Bishop, if he sees fit, to authorize under his hand and seal the addition of any contiguous portion to an existing churchyard, and that the portion so added shall be considered to be an integral part of the said churchyard, and shall be subject to all the laws, statutes, and canons which apply to that churchyard.


said, he should be glad to know from the author of the Bill what strictly was the meaning he attached to the word "consecration?" He understood it to mean the appropriation of anything to religious purposes, and nothing further; and therefore the Bishop merely recognised on the part of the Church that which was already done by the law. The Bishop merely perambulated the ground and pronounced a prayer; but his most important duty was to ascertain that the person who convoyed the land was entitled to do so in such a way that it became a gift in perpetuity, and to take care that the deed was registered in his court, so that it would at all times be accessible to all persons.


ventured to give an answer to the question of his noble Friend as to the meaning of the word "consecration." Consecration, if regarded as in its legal meaning, was most undoubtedly what the noble Lord had stated—it was only an act done according to the laws of a Christian country, setting apart that building or that portion of land for certain religious purposes. But in a Christian country, in the setting apart of such land or building for religious purposes, there had grown up, he might say, almost from the exercise of Christian instincts, a habit of hallowing the mere legal deed with an act of religious worship. This the minds of the people had been thoroughly accustomed to, and they therefore associated with the word "consecrate" not merely the legal deed which gave validity to the act, but also the religious act which gave a religious character appositely enough to that which is a legal act for a religious purpose. They admitted that there was an evil to be met, and they were quite ready to meet his noble Friend, and provide some mode by which the evil complained of would be obviated. It was an evil where a small addition was to be made to a burial-place that it should be necessary to have a great apparatus to take the Bishop and his officers round the ground, and see that the addition was made to it. All they wanted was to see that in securing the end in view they avoided violating those religious feelings which had grown up around the act of consecration. They proposed, therefore, that the portion added should be subject to the laws, statutes, and canons, to which the rest of the churchyard with which it is incorporated is subject. He could not doubt that his noble Friend would accede to the proposal of the most rev. Prelate. In the meantime the Bill might be read a second time.


thought if consecration was to be limited to the interpretation suggested by the noble Earl (the Earl of Ellenborough), it would be better to employ some other words. The Cemetery Acts provided that the ground should be partly consecrated and partly unconsecrated; because the members of some religious bodies objected to be buried in ground consecrated by a Bishop. But according to the theory of the noble Earl, the whole of the ground was consecrated by the Bishop taking care that it was legally handed over in perpetuity for the purpose of sepulture. It was therefore obvious that not only the Church of England, but other religious bodies in the country, considered consecration to be something more than the noble Earl had described. Of course, it was exceedingly desirable that no danger should exist of ground once used as a burying-place being taken back by the donor; he therefore hoped that after the lapse of a certain time such ground should be held to acquire a Parliamentary title.


said, he was not sure that he took quite the same view of consecration with his right rev. Friend; but he certainly did not adopt the view of the noble Earl. Consecration was recognised by the law in the Acts passed in respect of burial grounds, which directed that one part should be consecrated and the other unconsecrated, and clergymen were precluded from burying in that part of the ground which was unconsecrated. He thought it of considerable importance that the right rev. Bench should have the opportunity of considering the matter, although he believed the Bill in its present shape was preferable to that suggested by the most rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Oxford). But in all these matters it was most desirable that the object proposed should be attained in that form which would secure most general assent. He should therefore move that the debate be adjourned for a fortnight, in order that both Houses of Convocation might have the opportunity of considering the subject.


suggested that it would be more convenient to read the Bill a second time, and take the discussion on going into Committee.


observed, that there was a great distinction between an addition to a church and an addition to a churchyard. When a church was consecrated it was not usual to consecrate the foundations only, but a certain extent of land around it and when an addition was made to the church it was not necessary to consecrate the portion which was added to the former building. Did not the same rule apply to the churchyard?


thought it most important that no unnecessary or extraordinary expenses should be incurred in such cases. He therefore collected that the expenses and fees connected with consecration would no longer be required or enforced.


said, that much the greater portion of what were called fees of consecration were in fact fees belonging to the conveyance of land.


, in reply to the observation that when an extension of a church was made over consecrated ground no new consecration was necessary, said, he understood that where additions were made to the chancel, and also in the case of moving the communion table, though the removal was made from one part of consecrated ground to another, that new consecration was required. If there were any doubt on that point, it was desirable that it should be set at rest.


said, that if the Bill were allowed to be read a second time, he would postpone the Committee on it for some time.

On Question? their Lordships divided: — Contents 53; Not-Contents 12: Majority 41.

Chelmsford, L. (L. Chancellor.) Hawardon, V. [Teller.]
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)
Buckingham and Chandos, D. Sydney, V.
Devonshire, D. Carlisle, Bp.
Marlborough, D. Cork, &c., Bp.
Richmond, D. Down, &c., Bp.
Bristol, M. Bolton, L.
Townshend, M. Churston, L.
Airlie, E. Colville of Culross, L.
Bantry, E. Delamere, L.
Belmore, E. Egerton, L.
Cadogan, E. Feversham, L.
Camperdown, E. Foley, L.
Dartrey, E. Heytesbury, L.
Derby, E. Hylton, L.
Devon, E. Lyveden, L.
Ellenborough, E. Monck L. (V. Monck.)
Graham, E. (D. Montrose.) Ponsonby, L. (E. Bessborough.)
Grey, E. Portman, L.
Kimberley, E. Redesdale, L. [Teller.]
Sandwich, E. Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Shaftesbury, E.
Shrewsbury, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Stanhope, E. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Stradbroke, E. Stratheden, L.
Tankerville, E. Talbot de Malahide, L.
Taunton, L.
Eversley, V. Wynford, L.
Canterbury, Archp. Romney, E.
Bath, M. [Teller.] Bangor, Bp.
Chester, Bp.
Doncaster, E. (D. Buccleuck and Queensberry.) [Teller.] Ely, Bp.
Gloucester and Bristol, Bp.
Home, E. Llandaff, Bp.
Powis, E. Oxford, Bp.

Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 6th of June next.