I have in obedience to your Lordships commands considered the act of North Carolina communicated to me by Mr. Pownal together with an extract of a Letter from Governor Tryon so far as it relates to the passing of the said act I am very sensible of the difficulties which have hitherto attended every attempt to pass an advantageous Law for the Establishment of an orthodox clergy in that Province The two last acts of the assembly in 1755 and 1760 were thought liable to many objections which induced your Lordships to represent to His Majesty your opinion that they ought to receive the Royal disallowance—The present act is free from most of those objections which principally refered to the Powers claimed by the Vestry with regard to the Right of Presentation and to those provisions in it which seemed to affect the Prerogative of the Crown: It is silent as to any claim of that Right and therefore leaves it in the crown to be exercised by the Governor by virtue of his Patent from the King.
The provision made by this act for the clergy is likewise considerably augmented: By the former it was only £80 per ann. Proclamation Money. By this it is £133—6—8 and the Minister has a remedy which was not in the former act for the payment of his salary by a motion in the Superior court agt the churchwardens and vestry neglectg or refusing to pay it. The provision would certainly have been more eligible if as the Governor himself suggested to the assembly it had been directed to be paid by the public Treasurer of the Province Nor can we see any reason why that method should be objected to as they have an example of it in South Carolina
It were to be wished likewise that they would have been as indulgent to their clergy as in the other Province of South Carolina by agreeing to keep the parsonage house in repair solely at the expense of the Public which would not have left the Minister at the will and pleasure of the churchwardens who may oblige him to repair as they may direct nor expos'd his Executors to be harrassed by Law suits.
The act gives the Ministers a right to receive certain fees for the performance of Parochial duties but may there not be a difficulty in recovering them when refused? There is an easy method in one of the Barbadoes Laws which might have been followed in this—By a warrant from any of his Majestys Justices of the Peace as in case of money for Labourers hire and work done.
These are not mentioned as objections of weight against the act but rather as Hints which may be improved by the Governor and assembly in any future one. As the Governor has exerted a becoming zeal for the clergy in promoting this act and seems to think it upon the whole the best that was ever passed in that province I am rather inclined to consider it in a favorable light especially as it stands free from those unreasonable claims of Vestries which were not less grevious to the clergy than injurious to the prerogative of the crown.
There is one thing in this act which the Governor himself has pointed out and which therefore it can not be improper for me to take notice of. The not requiring the certificate of the Bishop of London that the person to be preferred to any Benefice hath subscribed before him That he will conform to the Liturgy of the Church of England as it is now by law established upon considering this matter with attention I don't see the same necessity for making this a part of the act as in the former acts By the former the Vestries claimed a Right of presentation. There was occasion therefore for a check upon them that they should present no one without such a certificate But as the right is now in the Governor there seems to be less occasion for such a check. He being by his instructions required to prefer no Minister to any Ecclesiastical Benefice without a certificate of his conformity If that standing instructn is not thought sufficient I see no objection against taking this occasion of its omission in the act to enforce it more particularly by a new
That the Assembly have indeed in another part of the Act shewn some regard to that relation which the Ecclesiastical state of the Colonies has always been supposed to bear to the Bishop of London by enacting “That if any Incumbent shall be guilty of any “gross Crime or Immorality it shall be lawful for the Governor “with the advice of His Majestys Council to suspend him; and that “such suspension shall remain until such time as the Bishop of London “shall either restore or pass sentence of Deprivation upon him by “notifying the same to the Governor.
In the present state of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction in the Colonies the power of suspension must be placed in some hands. It is certainly safer in those of a Governor than of a Vestry. It is indeed liable to be abused wherever you place it. But yet it is a matter of such consequence that a Clergyman found guilty of any grave crime or immorality should not be allowed to continue the exercise of his Function to the offence of his congregation that I am inclined to think the power of suspension (if it can be done legally) may be allowed to the Governor till a better remedy can be applied to those defects of Discipline which are owing to a want of a proper Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction This power of suspension is not indeed made absolute in the Governor It is only to continue “till such time as the Bishop of London shall restore or pass sentence of Deprivation on him by notifying the same to the Governor” But by what authority can the Bishop of London (who has no Commissn from the Crown) proceed judicially to restore or to pass Sentence of Deprivatn? As the case stands at present the Bishop cannot deprive him however guilty or if the Governor suspends the Clergyman however innocent he must remain suspended if it depends on the Bishop to restore him.
This circumstance affords a proper occasion of observing (and some late instances in the Island of Barbadoes will confirm the observation) not only how defective the Bishop of London's Jurisdictn is in the plantations but what Inconveniences arise from that defect. It is far from being clear that a Commissn granted to the Bishop of London as it was to Bishop Gibson wod be an adequate remedy to those Inconveniences: Bishop Sherlock who certainly cod Judge as well as any man how far the powers given by that Commissn wod enable him to go and who it is to be supposed had no objectn to the exercise of any Jurisdictn which wod answer the purposes for which it was intended stated his objectn to such a Commission to his late Majesty in Council as defective in many parts of it and giving Powers which no Bishop at this distance from the Plantatns cod exercise effectually. These objections were a sufficient inducemt to that prelate Humbly to offer his reasons for the necessity of establishing Bishops in America as the only method of introducing Order & proper discipline in the Churches of our Colonies: And whoever considers the superior Abilities of Bishop Sherlock as well as the more enlarged extent of our dominions in America since his time will readily allow that the same objections may be urged with additional strength by one who by experience feels the force of them & sees too much reason to lament that with the best inclinatns to do his duty He finds himself unequal to that important part of it—the care and superintendency of Religion in the Plantations.
I need not to enumerate to your Lordships the peculiar Hardships which the Church labours under for want of a more complete establishmt in America. Your Lordships attention to the important state of affairs in that Country must bring them. . . . . into your views & lead you to work success to a measure so necessary for the sake of Government as well as of Religion—It must be left to the Wisdom of Government to judge of the most favorable season for that important Consideration whenever that season comes. I doubt not but that it will have all the attention which it deserves, whatever may be my own private thoughts upon the subject I cannot have a wish to see any measure carried into execution if it is not found to be consistent with the Principles of true policy and free from every reasonable objection upon the principles of conscience and Religious liberty