There happened a Controversy sometime between the Citizens and the Parish Priests concerning the Tithe or Oblations under 10s. as a Noble; and for this they paid antiently in London, 14d. This in Henry the Eighth's Time passed into a Contest; and one Robert Hearne of St. Mildred's Poultry was cited by John Smith, Rector of that Church, into the Arches, for Refusal of the Payment of this 14d. in the Noble, before Dr. Ligham, LL.D. Official of the Court of Canterbury; and Sentence was given against him the 18 H. VIII. An. 1527, and he was declared to have incurred the great Excommunication.

The Oblation for a Noble.

About this Time a Suit began between the Citizens and the Priests about the Tithe (wherein all the City concerned themselves) which lasted thro' divers Kings and Queens Reigns; which underwent divers Arbitrations, provoked many Petitions, caused some Acts of Parliament, and was never fully accorded till the Act of Parliament under King Charles II. after the Great Fire, for settling the Tithe of the consumed Churches. But by the Advantages the Citizens got of the Priests by one means or other, the City Clergy (especially in the Times of the Reformation) became much impoverished; and the Livings came at last to so mean and poor a Value, that in one of their Petitions they complained, that it had been better for them if their Friends, instead of sending them to the Universities, had put them Apprentices to Taylors or Shoemakers, or some such mechanical Trades; for then they might have been able to maintain themselves and their Families, which now they were not by their Livings.

Suits between the Priests and Citizens.

The Means some of the Citizens used to defraud the Ministers of their Tithes in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, was, that to abate Tithes formerly paid, or to prevent any Increase of them, they reserved what had been formerly paid as Rent, by other Names; as, Yearly and Quarterly Fines, Annuities, Newyears Gifts, Interest of Money for Improvement, or Household Stuff. Some reserved it by several Bonds; some by double Leases, wherein was mentioned a small Rent, by which the Parson must have his Tithe; another, wherein was reserved the full Rent, after which they paid the Landlord: And when any Controversies should arise concerning Tithes, it was provided by a Law, that the Lord Maior should judge and decide these Matters; who commonly favoured the Citizens against the Parsons.

How Tithes were diminished.

This was long a Grievance; and at last was the Cause of a Bill put up in King James the First's Parliament, Anno 1604. Upon opening the Matter, the whole House took Notice of it; and Sir Henry Billingsley, Knight and Alderman, and Mr. Richard Gore, Members of Parliament for the City, spake to the Bill: But it was cast out by one or two Voices; the Occasion of which was thought not fit to be mentioned, saith mine Author. However, the said Billingsley plainly declared it; and he promised afterwards to get the Bill again put up by the Court of Aldermen at their own Charge: But the Parliament hasting to an End, nothing was done; and the Religious Intention of that good Man came to nothing.

A Bill in Parliament for Ministers Tithes.

Dr. Brian Walton's Treatise.

To all this I shall add a Petition put up by the Ministers of London to King James, Anno 1615; wherein their lamentable Condition, and the History of it may appear. They complained, that their Maintenance was taken away from them; and that they were brought to great Poverty by secret Frauds and Tricks, lately devised and put in Practice by some covetous Persons, to the Dishonour of God, and utter Ruin of the Church of God in this Honourable City, if not in time sup- pressed. And, among many other things, they shewed what the Benefices in London were in times past: which they found to have been the best in the Kingdom, by reason of their Tithes, Oblations, Church-Lands, Obits, Mortuaries, &c and therefore were so highly rated in the Exchequer, as they then were, to wit, at 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 Marks per Annum. For Tithes the Citizens paid the Tenths of their Personal Employments, which if they still paid, one Rich Man should pay more than some of their Benefices in the whole were now worth. For Oblations they paid a Farthing for every 10s. Rent, Pension, or Payment, upon every Sunday, and certain other Holidays in the Year; which amounted to 3s. and 6d. in the Pound, being 9d. in every Pound more than they at present had. That for discovery of Rents, Freeholders Houses were to be valued, and Offerings or Oblations paid accordingly; whereby no such Frauds could be put upon their Predecessors as were put upon them. That for Recovery of Oblations it was without Suit of Law, the Ordinary being to enquire of the Detention of them summarily without Citation, and to pronounce a Curse upon the Offenders. And lastly, that Men made Restitution in their last Wills and Testaments for Tenths and Oblations omitted, [to free their Consciences in case they had made default in the due Payment of them in their Lives time.]

The London Ministers Petition to K. James I.

That this was the State of the Benefices in London, until 27 H. VIII. about which time all their antient Contributions and Confirmations were disannulled; and a new Order and Decree made, pretending their Good, but indeed that it was the beginning of their Bane. For that thereby they had only 2s. and 9d. appointed to be paid out of every Pound Rent of all Housing, but no means to recover or know any Man's Rent; so that the Ministers Maintenance was concealed, and a thing invisible: And they were deprived also thereby, as some thought, of the Protection of their Bishops, who could not help them, as they did their Predecessors; and were put under the Government of the Lord Maior, being both Judge and Party in his own Cause for the most part. That their Church Lands also, that did remain, were taken from them, insomuch that many of them had no Parsonage Houses, and became for the most part Parish Lands, belonging to the Masters of the Parishes. That afterwards the Oath for Personal Tithes was taken away; by which means the Citizens detained those Tithes from the Ministers; supposing no Man to be bound to pay Tithes of their Personal Employments, or God's Blessing on their Labours, but Shepherds and Husbandmen. And last of all, that their Offerings that were left them were embezzled and purloined by divers fraudulent and covetous Devices. By which means aforesaid, and the like, the Benefices of London within the Walls were the poorest in the Kingdom: And tho' the Ministers were equal to the best Commoners in the City in all Charges, as Subsidies, Arms, &c. (besides First Fruits and Tenths;) yet their Incomes were ordinarily less than the meanest Tradesmen; their Livings not exceeding 20, 25, 30, 40, and most of them 50l. per Annum, and not many above 80l. within the Walls.

An. 2 Ed VI.

And in short, the Clergy of London in the Year 1634, addressed again to King Charles I. setting forth to him, how the Benefices of London, an hundred Years since were very great, but that they were then very small and mean; many of them not worth 40l. per Annum, the most not an 100l. And then shewing the Causes thereof.

And to King Charles I.

This Petition the King referred to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Keeper, the Earl