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NOTE II: THE ECCLESIASTICAL COMMISSION - Albert Venn Dicey, Lectures on the Relation between Law and Pubic Opinion during the 19th Century (2nd ed. 1919) 
Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century (London: Macmillan, 1919). 2nd edition.
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THE ECCLESIASTICAL COMMISSION
The rapidity which between 1836 and 1850 marked the reform of the Church Establishment (see pp. 342, 343 ante), though due in the main to a general improvement in the tone of public opinion, must be ascribed in part to the whole body of legislation of which the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act, 1836, forms the best known and by far the most important portion.
This legislation, some part of which was of earlier and some of later date than 1836, produced the following (among other) effects:—
(1) The efficiency of episcopal supervision was increased.
This resulted from the abolition of peculiar and anomalous jurisdictions and the rearrangement of diocesan areas, as well as the creation of the new sees of Manchester and Ripon. All this was effected soon after the Act of 1836. Some of the sees were vacant. Bishops of other sees waived their vested interests and assented to the proposed changes.
(2) The stringent provisions of the Pluralities Act, 1838, with regard to pluralities, non-residence, and so forth, tended to put an end to the abuses at which they were aimed, and worked quicker than might have been expected. The operation of the Act was delayed only by the vested interests of incumbents who were in possession at the date of the Act and had already taken advantage of the greater license of the law. Death, resignation, or preferment, each year diminished their number.
(3) A large increase was rapidly effected in church accommodation.
The Church Building Commissioners were created in 1818; by 1835 they had, by aid of parliamentary grants of £1,500,000 administered by them, and of private donations called forth to meet their allotments out of these grants, built 212 additional churches, which provided additional accommodation for 283,555 persons. The Incorporated Church Building Society was at the same date credited with having spent on the enlargement of churches, etc., £196,770. This was raised by private subscription, and, it was believed, caused the expenditure on the same objects, by persons locally interested, of £900,000. Provision was thus made for the church accommodation of 307,314 persons.
(4) The creation of new parochial districts and the endowment thereof, as also the improvement of the parsonage houses and of the incomes of underpaid incumbents, was carried on with vigour.
Between 1818 and 1850, the Church Building Commissioners created 764 new parishes or separate ecclesiastical districts. Between 1843 and 1850 the Ecclesiastical Commissioners had under the New Parishes Acts, 1843, 6 & 7 Vict. c. 37, and 1844, 7 & 8 Vict. c. 94, created, in addition, 228 ecclesiastical districts; and in order that their operation might be carried on with the greater rapidity, the Commissioners were permitted by the New Parishes Act, 1843, to borrow, and they did borrow, a sum of £600,000, which they were allowed to spend as income in anticipation of their own rapidly increasing income. As early, further, as 1850 the Commissioners’ funds had enabled them to provide, in the case of necessitous benefices, large capital sums for the provision of parsonage houses, and as much as £50,000 per annum (in addition to some £30,000 for the new districts above mentioned) for the perpetual augmentation of the incomes of under-paid incumbents.
(5) Much was done to reapportion and equalise the revenues of parochial benefices.
The Ecclesiastical Commissioners have never possessed any power of general reapportionment of such revenues, similar to that which was given them in relation to the revenues of bishoprics, but under several enactments, such as the Ecclesiastical Commissioners Act, 1840 (3 & 4 Vict. c. 113), s. 74, extended by the Augmentation of Benefices Act, 1854, s. 8, the Ecclesiastical Leasing Act, 1842, s. 13 (and see 21 & 22 Vict. c. 57, s. 10), they had been enabled, with the required consents of bishops and patrons, to do a great deal indirectly to equalise the incomes of benefices, and their action in increasing the incomes of necessitous benefices has all told in the same direction. To this add, that under the Augmentation of Benefices Act, 1831, the incumbent of a mother parish is able, with the consent of his bishop and patron, to charge the revenues thereof in favour of the incumbent of a daughter parish formed wholly or partly out of the mother parish. Legislation, in fact, had by 1850 done a good deal, though it has since done more, towards the equitable apportionment of parochial revenues, and towards raising the income of the poorest class of incumbents. Here, as elsewhere, one reform added to the effect of another. The want, for example, of parsonage houses, and the under-payment of incumbents, was an excuse, or even at times a justification, for pluralism or non-residence. As parsonage houses were built and something done towards equalising clerical incomes, and thus alleviating the poverty of the poorer clergy, the excuses for pluralism and non-residence lost their force.
The details of a reform as rapid as it was effective cannot be here pursued further, but they deserve consideration since they enforce two conclusions directly bearing on the relation between law and opinion.
First.—The rapid internal reform of the Established Church between 1830 and 1850 owed both its origin and its effective working to the active support it derived from the moral opinion of the day.
Secondly.—Public opinion was, in this instance, unmistakably affected by legislation of which public opinion was itself the author. When the law had been strenuously directed towards the putting down of pluralism and non-residence, good men began to perceive that practices which they had through habit come to look upon with easy tolerance were in reality unbearable abuses.