Benefices Act 1898

Benefices Act, 1898

(61 & 62 Vict.) CHAPTER 48.

An Act to amend the Law relating to the Patronage of Benefices, and to their avoidance on Sequestration, and to amend the Pluralities Acts, 1838 and 1885.

[12th August 1898]

Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

S-1 Transfer of patronage rights.

1 Transfer of patronage rights.

(1)1.—(1.) A transfer of a right of patronage of a benefice shall not be valid unless—

(a ) it is registered in the prescribed manner in the registry of the diocese within one month from the date of the transfer, or within such extended time as under special circumstances the bishop may think fit to allow; and

(b ) it transfers the whole interest of the transferor in the right, except as herein-after provided; and

(c ) more than twelve months have elapsed since the last institution or admission to the benefice.

(2) (2.) It shall not be lawful to offer for sale by public auction any right of patronage, save in the case of an advowson to be sold in conjunction with any manor, or with an estate in land of not less than one hundred acres situate in the parish in which the benefice is situate or in an adjoining parish and belonging to the same owner as the advowson, and any person who offers any right of patronage for sale by auction in contravention of this section, or who bids at any such sale, shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding one hundred pounds.

(3) (3.) Any agreement for any exercise of a right of patronage of a benefice in favour or on the nomination of any particular person, and any agreement on the transfer of a right of patronage of a benefice—

(a ) for the re-transfer of the right; or

(b ) for postponing payment of any part of the consideration for the transfer until a vacancy or for more than three months; or

(c ) for payment of interest until a vacancy or for more than three months; or

(d ) for any payment in respect of the date at which a vacancy occurs; or

(e ) for the resignation of a benefice in favour of any person,

shall be invalid.

(4) (4.) For the declaration set forth in section two of the Clerical Subscription Act, 1865 , shall be substituted the declaration set forth in the schedule to this Act which shall be taken in the prescribed manner, and if any person knowingly makes any false statement in this declaration he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and shall be liable to the punishment attaching by law to perjury.

(5) (5.) If any clergyman is knowingly party or privy to any transfer, presentation, or agreement which is invalid under this section, or commits any breach of the promissory part of his declaration, he shall be guilty of an offence in respect of which proceedings may be taken under section two of the Clergy Discipline Act, 1892 .

(6) (6.) The expression ‘transfer’ in this section shall include any conveyance or assurance passing or creating any legal or equitable interest inter vivos , and any agreement for any such conveyance or assurance, but shall not include—

(a ) a transmission on marriage, death, or bankruptcy, or otherwise by operation of law; nor

(b ) a transfer on the appointment of a new trustee where no beneficial interest passes.

(7) (7.) Nothing in this section shall prevent the reservation or limitation in a family settlement of a life interest to the settlor, or in a mortgage the reservation of a right of redemption.

S-2 Grounds for refusal to institute.

2 Grounds for refusal to institute.

(1)2.—(1.) A bishop may refuse to institute or admit a presentee to a benefice—

(a ) if, at the date of the vacancy, not more than one year has elapsed since a transfer, as defined by the first section of this Act, of the right of patronage of the benefice, unless it be proved that the transfer was not effected in view of the probability of a vacancy within such year; or

(b ) on the ground that at the date of presentation not more than three years have elapsed since the presentee was ordained deacon, or that the presentee is unfit for the discharge of the duties of the benefice by reason of physical or mental infirmity or incapacity, pecuniary embarrassment of a serious character, grave misconduct or neglect of duty in an ecclesiastical office, evil life, having by his conduct caused grave scandal concerning his moral character since his ordination, or having, with reference to the presentation, been knowingly party or privy to any transaction or agreement which is invalid under this Act.

(2) (2.) A bishop shall not collate, institute, or admit any person to a benefice until the expiration of one month after notice, in the prescribed manner, that he proposes to collate, institute, or admit such person has been served on the churchwardens of the parish, who shall publish the notice in the prescribed manner.

S-3 Appeal against refusal to institute.

3 Appeal against refusal to institute.

(1)3.—(1.) Where a bishop, on any ground included in section two of this Act or of unfitness or disqualification of the presentee otherwise sufficient in law, except a ground of doctrine or ritual, refuses to institute or admit a presentee to a benefice, he shall signify the refusal in writing together with the grounds thereof to the person presenting to the benefice and to the presentee in the prescribed manner, and within one month after the signification either of those persons may, in the prescribed manner, require that the matter be heard by a court consisting of the archbishop of the province and of a judge of the Supreme Court, who shall be nominated by the Lord Chancellor from time to time for the purposes of this Act, and the bishop shall be made a party to the proceedings. The court constituted under this Act shall be a court of record and shall be held in public, and at any hearing the legal rules of evidence shall prevail.

(2) (2.) The judge shall decide all questions of law and find as to any fact alleged as reason of unfitness or disqualification and his decision on such questions of law and his finding as to any such fact shall be binding on the archbishop, who shall thereupon—

(i) if the judge finds that no such fact sufficient in law exists, direct institution or admission; or

(ii) if the judge finds that any such fact sufficient in law exists, decide if necessary whether by reason thereof the presentee is unfit for the discharge of the duties of the benefice and determine whether institution or admission ought, under the circumstances, to be refused,

and in either case the archbishop shall give judgment accordingly, and that judgment shall be final.

(3) (3.) The court shall have the same powers of administering oaths and of requiring the attendance of witnesses and the production by them of documents, and as to the payment and recovery of costs and expenses, as are exerciseable by the High Court of Justice.

(4) (4.) If, within one month after a judgment of the court in favour of a presentee, the bishop fails to institute or admit him, the official principal of the archbishop shall institute or admit him if there is no other impediment.

(5) (5.) If in any case to which this section applies the bishop signifies his refusal in manner provided by this section, no proceeding in the nature of quare impedit or duplex querela shall be taken in any other court in respect of the refusal.

(6) (6.) Where the presentation is made to an archbishop, the archbishop of the other province, whether Canterbury or York, and such judge as aforesaid, shall constitute the court.

S-4 Provision as to grounds of refusal.

4 Provision as to grounds of refusal.

4. The bishop may, on the...

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