Fermanagh Gold Introduction

There were 33 Church of Ireland Dioceses in 1931. All incumbents on vacancies occurring, were appointed by the several Boards of Nominations, except I some cases of District Churches and Parochial Chapels, where Trustees were appointed previous to the Dis-establishment, and in parishes where , under the statutes of the Church, Donors by Endowment acquired the Patronage.

Until Jan 1, 1871, the Church of Ireland was established by Law and was combined with the Church of England, by the Act of Union (1800). The Bishops and beneficed Clergy had a freehold in their offices, and in the emoluments and privileges belonging to these offices; the resources of the Church were practically all derived from the tithe rent charges, from the annual rents or produce of Church lands, from occasional private subscriptions, and from the income arising out of private benefactions. 

The lay members of the church were entitled to all the ministrations of its clergy without any liability to support it with their contributions; and they had neither authority nor responsibility in relation to the management of its temporal affairs.

The Irish Church Act, 1869, provided that from January 1, 1871, the statutory union between the Churches of England and Ireland should be dissolved, and that the Church of Ireland should cease to be established by law. Subject to the vested interests of the then existing Bishops, Clergy and other Church officers, all such Church property of every kind was vested in the 'Commissioners of Church Temporalities' who were created by the Act and who carried out al the transactions that the Act required - in realising all items of property, selling Church lands to occupying tenants and others and discharging all liabilities imposed by the Act, and, from time to time, as parliament might direct, appropriating the surplus to various Irish purposes.

All the Ecclesiastical Corporations that existed under former conditions having been dissolved by the Irish Church Act, the necessity arose for the creation of a new corporate body to take over from the Church Temporalities Commissioners whatever property and moneys under the e Act were to be transferred to the Authorities of the disestablished Church, and to be the trustee and agent in respect of property and funds subsequently acquired. This was met by the corporation in 1870 of the Representative Church Body. This body was constituted so as to include representatives from every part of Ireland.

By recognising the vested interests of the Bishops, Clergy and other church officers who were in office when the Act came into operation and their rights to receive their respective emoluments during their lives and by making it a condition, that in return they should render the same service as before, an opportunity was afforded by the authorities to make plans for future church sustentation. It was eventually decided that instead of having a general plan for all Ireland , local effort would be stimulated to a greater degree, and other advantages secured by having a separate plan for each diocese or group of dioceses in which the resources of all the parishes under the plan would be pooled, and by which a steady voluntary effort on a uniform principle from the very beginning on the part of all the parishes would eventually secure on the disappearance of the last surviving annuitant, an accumulated capital, the interest on which, with the same regular annual subscriptions from the parishes, would fully meet the Stipends secured to the Clergy of the Diocese under each particular scheme.

At a General Convention held in 1870, it was declared as a general and fundamental principle, that a General Synod consisting of the Archbishops and Bishops, and of representatives of the Clergy and Laity "shall have chief legislative power as may be necessary and consistent with its Episcopal constitution"

The General Synod consists of three orders, the Bishops, the Clergy and the Laity. These sit as two Houses, the House of Bishops consisting of all the Archbishops and Bishops and the House of Representatives, consisting of 216 Clerical and 432 Lay Representatives, distributed among the dioceses and elected every third year by the Diocesan Synods.

The Registered Vestrymen are Church members who either own property or are resident in the parish, or are accustomed members of the congregation of the Church or Churches in the parish. They are the constituency that elects 
(a) one of the Churchwardens - the other being nominated by the Incumbent; 
(b) members of the Select Vestry which controls the Parochial Charity and Church Funds 
(c) the Lay Synodsmen who sit in the Diocesan Synod and 
(d) the three Parochial Nominators who with the Bishop and the three Diocesan Nominators elected by the Diocesan Synod elect the Board of Nomination with whom rests the appointment of the Incumbent of the parish.

Published here with full permission of Jane Lyons