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goes the disgraceful punishment due to that crime, the blot may be sufficient to make his ministry ineffectual all his life after.'
3. It is making clergymen parties to knavery and fraud, and putting the blame of the unjust practices of chancellors, commissaries, and registers, upon those, who, for the reputation of the church, as well as of themselves, are most concerned to prevent them. And thereby a great deal of clamour is drawn upon us, which we can never prevent, as long as any of the clergy are thus permitted in so mean and base a manner to be subservient to the knavery and unjustifiable practices of these men. For they, regarding nothing else but their gain in the choice of those, whom they appoint to be their surrogates, chuse only such as are properest for their purpose this way, who, being of the poorer and meaner sort, make their advantage of the employment, by marrying themselves all those that come to them for licenses, and, thereby advancing their own gain as well as that of their masters, become the more diligent agents for them. And I am told of some that keep markets weekly for this purpose, there exposing their blank licenses to sale, as tradesmen do their wares, which they fill up for any that will pay for them, without any other reserve, but that of the marriage to themselves, by putting in only those churches for the solemnising of it, where they themselves are ministers. But at best, though all surrogates do not thus carry their blank licenses to market, yet all keep shops of them, at home, and seldom or never refuse any customer that comes, on how unjustifiable an account soever. And therefore, when a wedding comes to them, and a marriage fee is to be gotten, without any further enquiry, the blank license is brought forth, the names of the persons to be married are inserted into it, and then the surrogate thinks himself safe, and away he goes to the church with them, and there marries them by vertue of a license from himself, without regarding how they come together, so he hath a fee to his masters for the license, and another to himself for the marrying of them. And, if it happens that any such are afterwards questioned for these marriages, the license is produced for their justification, which being under the seal of the office, and in the name of the chancellor or commissary that grants it, the matter is usually shuffled off, and no justice at all done to any that complain of the injuries, that they suffer in this kind. For the truth is, was the thing brought to an examination, the law would excuse the minister, who produceth the license (unless his being party to the fraud were proved upon him, which he usually takes care to provide against in the manner of transacting it) and lay the whole blame upon the chancellor or commissary, in whose name it is granted, who usually know ways enough to baffle all prosecution, that shall be made against them on this account, and therefore, no examples being made of those that offend in this kind, they are the more bold still to go on in the same illegal practices, and the church infinitely suffers in its reputation thereby; and in truth, no excuse can be made in this particular, while our governors, who have ofiitXTB under them for the putting the laws of the church in execution,
- permit them thus in so scandalous a manner to corrupt them all for their own advantage.
Of which scandalous corruption, being abundantly sensible, by what I found of it, where concerned, about two years since, I set myself to reform it, and drew up a monitory to be sent to all the clergy of my jurisdiction, wherein I inhibited them to marry any either by license, or otherwise, unless one of the parties lived in their parish, according as it is enjoined in the canon above mentioned. But hereon the commissary and register came to me with open mouths, complaining, that this would totally spoil their places. To which I answered, that my business was not to take care of their places, but that the canons be kept; and if they would make gain, by what was inconsistent herewith, they were not to be tolerated in it. Whereon the commissary told me, that, ' although the canon was as I said, yet he could assure me, that the practice was quite the contrary, through the whole kingdom; and that since the archbishops, and all their suffragans thought fit to tolerate it, he thought it would not become me to contradict it.' And on inquiry, finding it really-to be so, as he told me, 1 was forced to let the matter fall, because I thought it would appear a ridiculous singularity in me, to attempt a reformation in that which the archbishops and bishops of our church thought fit, in all parts of the nation besides, to allow. And besides, I had an account given me, that the late bishop of Norwich miscarried in the same attempt. For, on his first coming to his diocese, finding great clamour about clandestine marriages, he made his chancellor and commissaries call in all their surrogations, and suppress all blank licenses, and ordered, that no minister should marry any, but whereof one of the parties dwell in his parish: and by this means, for a while, things were kept in good order, but they had not been long so, but the master of the faculties, and the vicar-general to the archbishop, took the advantage to send their licenses into the diocese; which the bishop perceiving, and having no authority to con. troul them herein, he thought it better, since he saw there was no re. medy, to suffer the corruption to be still continued by his own officers, over whom he had some awe, than by those interlopers, with whom he had nothing to do; and therefore relaxed all his former orders, and left his officers to proceed in the same course as they did before; and the mischiefs, which have since followed hereon, are too many to relate. But two very signal ones, in my neighbourhood, I cannot pass over; the one of a man that hath married his father's wife, and the other of one that married a woman, whose husband was alive in the next parish, by vertue of those licenses. And this course can never be remedied, unless the two archbishops will be pleased to undertake it, and send their orders to all their suffragans, that the canons be punctually observed in these following particulars.
1. That all surrogates, with blank licenses, be suppressed, and no license for marriage at all granted, but by the person himself, that hath authority in this particular, or the deputy only who keeps hit teals, and presides in his court in his absence.
J, That all previous examinations be made, and all cautions aiul securities carefully taken, which are by law required, before any VL cense be granted.
3. That no parish church or chapel be put into the license for the place of celebrating the marriage, but those only where one of the parties, that are to be married, dwells. And if the archbishops have authority so to do (which I think they have, all licenses in this kind being only ex gratia) that they limit it to the parish church or chapel where the woman dwells.
4. That a severe prosecution be enjoined against all those that transgress in any of the premisses.
If the bill pass against clandestine marriages, which I hear is now before the parliament, I confess it will be too late for the church to meddle with this matter; but in case the bill be cast out (as perhaps it may) I think it will then be very proper for the church to under, take the business, and employ all the authority it hath to reform so great an abuse. And if the archbishops and bishops would be pleased so to do, to whom the cognisance of this matter doth most properly belong, I know no way can be more effectual for it, than the putting the canons in execution in the particulars I have mentioned. And if this be done as soon as the bill is cast out, by a publick order from the two archbishops, to their respective provinces, and the bishops be hearty and zealous in the executing of it, I doubt not there will be these following good effects thereof.
1. A speedy remedy will thereby be put to this great abuse, which hath raised the clamour of the nation so loud against us, and made so many disaffected to the church, by reason of the injuries that some of their families have suffered by our tolerating so unjustifiable a practice among us.
2. Full satisfaction will be given to those who so earnestly call for a reformation in this particular; which will be the most effectual method of preventing the ill designs of those who endeavour the bring. ing of sanguinary laws upon us for this purpose; which, if effected, will be a great severity, and may prove a constant snare to their lives, whenever the people have malice enough to raise a prosecution against them.
3. It will stop the mouths of those who are too often heard to re. proach the bishops with this whole abuse, as if the whole reason of it were from this, that they sold their chancellors, commissaries, and registers places, and therefore were bound to tolerate those officers under them in all their illegal practices, that they may thereby the better raise the money that they exacted from them, for their admission to those employments.
And thus far having stated to your lordship this whole case, and shewn you therein from whence the great abuse of clandestine mar. riages ariseth, the manner how the practice of it is grown so frequent, and the means whereby it may be prevented, I earnestly beseech your lordship to make use of that opportunity which God hath given you, in putting to your helping hand for the reformation of this corruption, that the reputation of our church, and the interest of so many families that are members of it, may not thus continually be sacrificed to the illegal gain, which chancellors, commissaries, and registers reap to themselves, from the practice of it. In order whereto, I wish your lordship would be pleased to lay the state of this whole matter before my lord archbishop of Canterbury, that if the parliament puts not that severe act upon us for the reformation of this abuse (as I hope they will not) his grace may do herein, what in his great wisdom he shall see may be most conducing to the good of the church. T.
lam, J)ecemb. 11, My Lord,
1691. Your lordship's most humble servant.
PROPOSAL FOR AN EQUAL LAND-TAX}
HUMBLY SUBMITTED TO CONSIDERATION. [London, printed in the year 1691. Quarto, containing 14 pages.]
The inequality of the land-tax presently appeared, even at a time when the legislature, by a pound-rate, thought to have remedied all the inconveniencies, which afore-time had attended that assess. ment upon the subject; and that, which was calculated for the good of the whole, was by the zealous loyalty of one part, and the crafty reservedness of the party that opposed the revolution, turned to the greatest oppression of the true-hearted Protestants, and to the real advantage of those, who rather than fairly contribute, in proportion, with their fellow-subjects, to withstand our common enemy, would risque the loss of their all by a passive concurrence to ruin our religion, laws, and liberties. For, upon so fair a pro. posal to settle the land-tax by a pound-rate, they, who wished well to their country and the Protestant establishment, gave in a just estimate of the intrinsick value of their estates, and were assessed according to their said valuation, and continue so to be even to this day; though in many places, through various accidents, as, the falling of rents, and the want of tenants, they are obliged, by a re-assessment, to raise a fourth or a fifth more than the current assessment is enacted for. But those, that waited an opportunity to recall a popish governor, gave in, some a half, others a third, and some only a quarter of the intrinsick value of their estates, and were, and continue to be assessed only according to that fal. lacious valuation; and it is against this grievance, which was early perceived, though not yet remedied, that this pamphlet was written, aud, I think, proposes a good method to settle it upon a better footing.
Here is a great and urgent necessity, at present, of raising great sums of money; to which the common people of England, we may safely presume, would willingly contribute their utmost; and matters might be so ordered, that their assistance would be very considerable. But some would have the gentry take the whole burthen upon them. selves and a few others; and would have this money raised by a landtax, which way will very probably be followed. Here it is confessed, that, though this tax prove heavy, yet upon this great occasion it would be borne with chearfulness, if it were made equal; but the monstrous inequality of it, as the rates are now, is more grievous than the tax itself. What can be a greater heart-breaking, than to pay double and treble, in proportion to other people? And many a poor gentleman must be ruined, if these rates continue.
A remedy for this evil hath been nobly attempted already, in parliament, by bringing the payments to a pound-rate. And surely it cannot be denied, but that the taxes of two shillings in the pound, and three shillings in the pound, were the fairest that ever were granted. Nor hath there been any thing done in England more be. coming a parliament. But that, which was well designed, was so villainously executed (I mean in the assessing) that even those taxes proved shamefully unequal. So that, notwithstanding all the care that was taken, some men paid double and treble to others. Not that much land was assessed above the true value, for that is not complained of; but, while some were assessed to the full, others were assessed at the half or third part, by which means they, that •were assessed to the full paid double or treble. For example: If there be three farms of equal value, that is, each of them worth threescore pounds a year; and one of these is duly rated at three-score pounds, the second unduly at thirty, and the third at twenty; in this case the first pays double to the second, and treble to the third. You will say, that, to rectify this matter, we must raise all those that are under-rated, and thereby have all lands assessed at their just and full value. In answer whereunto, I confess, that, if this thing were done, we might easily have equal taxes; whether they were laid by the pound-rate, or by a sum certain upon each county. But all the skill, and all the difficulty is, to get this thing done. The ordinary assessors will never do it; for experience hath taught us, that men will strangely swear and forswear, to save themselves and their neighbours from being screwed up. And it hath been proposed al. ready, to take a more effectual course by rewarding informers; but that way doth not please. Some would have a tax by the pound, rate, and the king to name the commissioners; but I doubt it will not be convenient for his majesty, or men deputed by him, to have any hand in screwing up people; others would have such a tax farmed out, and the farmers to try their skill; but a tax fit to be farm, ed out should be of some continuance; whereas this must be paid at once, or within a short time. Besides, these farmers and commissioners must do their work by the help of informers; who, as I said before, are not pleasing. Moreover, go which way you will, this