Nags-head Consecration

Nag's-Head Consecration designates the questionable way in which Roman Catholics assert that the apostolical succession was preserved in the Church of England. They aver that on the passing of the first Act of Uniformity in the first year of queen Elizabeth's reign, fourteen bishops vacating their sees, and all the other sees excepting that of Llandaff being vacant, there was a difficulty in maintaining the hitherto unbroken succession of bishops from apostolical times; and that, as Kitchin of Llandaff refused to officiate at Parker's consecration, the Protestant divines procured the help of Scory, a deprived bishop of the reign of Edward VI, and all having met at the Nag's-Head tavern, in Cheapside, they knelt before Scory, who laid a Bible on their heads or shoulders, saying, "Take thou authority to preach the Word of God sincerely;" and they rose up bishops of the New Church of England! The story, which was first told by a Jesuit, Sacro Bosco, or Holywood, forty-five years after the event, intelligent Romanists themselves deny. Thus it is discredited by the Roman Catholic historian Lingard, and is carefully refiuted by Strype in his life of Parker. The facts of the case are best stated in archbishop Bramhall's account of the Nag's-Head fable (Works, page 436), and is the shortest and fullest refutation of the story: "They say that archbishop Parker and the rest of the Protestant bishops in the beginning of queen Elizabeth's reign, or at least sundry of them, were consecrated at the Nag's Head, in Cheapside, together, by bishop Scory alone, or by him and bishop Barlow, without sermon, without sacrament, without solemnity, in the vear 1559 (but they know not what day, nor before what public notaries), by a new, fantastic form. All this they maintain on the supposed voluntary report of Mr. Neale (a single malicious spy), in private to his own party, long after the business pretended to be done. We say that archbishop Parker was consecrated alone at Lambeth, in the church, by four bishops, authorized thereunto by commission under the great seal of England, with sermon, with sacrament, with due solemnities, on the 17th day of December, A.D. 1559, before four of the most eminent public notaries ill England, and particularly the same public notary was principal actuary both at cardinal Pole's consecration and archbishop Parker's." We may add that the election took place in the chapter-house at Canterbury, and the confirmation at St. Mary-le-Bone's church in Cheapside. Scory, then elected to the see of Bedford; Barlow. formerly bishop of Wells, then elected to Chichester; Coverdale, formerly of Exeter, and never reappointed to any see; and Hodgkin, suffragan of Hereford, were the episcopal officers who officiated at the consecration. The Nag's- Head story probably arose from the company having possibly gone from Bow church, after the confirmation, to take a dinner together at the tavern hard by, according to the prevailing custom. The due succession of bishops in the English Church it would seem the Nag's-Head's fable has never proved to have broken. Prof. Dollinger, at the recent Congress of the Old Catholics at Bonn (August, 1875), held that there can be no controversy regarding the legitimacy of Anglican ordinations, which was questioned last year by Orientals. He said there was no doubt of their succession. When, under queen Elizabeth, the present Episcopal Church was founded, those who disagreed were dismissed, and discussion turned on the legitimacy of archbishop Parker's nomination. Of this there was no doubt. It was proved by his journal, the Register, and by contemporary history. To doubt it would be like the doubting of the man who sought to show that Napoleon I was a myth. The succession of the Romish Church could be disputed. Things had occurred which would become formidable weapons if anybody cared to use them. But there was no room for doubt as to succession in the Anglican Church. See Courayer, Validity of the Ordinations of the English (Oxford, 1844, new ed.); Baily, Ordinum Anglicanorum defensio (Lond. 1870); Soames, Hist. of the Reformation, 4:691 sq.: Wordsworth, Eccles. Biog. 3:383, n.; Hardwick, Ch. Hist. of the Reformation, page 226; Burnet, Hist. of the Reformation, 2:624; Baxter, Ch. Hist. p. 481; E'nyl. Rev. 6:198; Ch. Rev. 1868 (July), page 301; Meth. Quar. Rev. 1874 (January), page 159. SEE PARKER (archbishop).

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