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Rediscovering Anglican priest-jurists: VI - Francis Mason (1566/7-1621)

Doe, Norman ORCID: 2024. Rediscovering Anglican priest-jurists: VI - Francis Mason (1566/7-1621). Ecclesiastical Law Journal 26 (1) , pp. 66-81. 10.1017/S0956618X23000492

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During the reign of Elizabeth I the ecclesial and legal ‘revolution’ under Henry VIII, to establish in England a national church under the royal supremacy, was converted into a ‘settlement’. It steered a course between radical puritans and recusant Catholics. Clothed in legal propriety, this settlement was articulated both juristically and theologically by the great Richard Hooker (d. 1600). After the return to Rome under Mary, the Elizabethan Acts of Parliament re-established the English Church, revived legislation made under Henry VIII and Edward VI, and imposed uniformity in worship. The period also sees the use of ‘soft-law’, like Articles, Admonitions, and Advertisements. Parliament rejects the Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum in 1571, but Canons were passed piecemeal in 1571, 1575, 1585, and 1598. The turn of the Welsh Tudors to rule ended in 1603. The Scottish Stuarts came next. The reign of James I (1603–1625) saw bitter dispute between the King and the common lawyers over the royal supremacy in matters ecclesiastical. But there was one lasting legal landmark: the Canons Ecclesiastical 1603/4. This new code was studied theologically by a contemporary cleric, Francis Mason. Whilst several notable civilians from that time have become well-known – such as John Cowell (d. 1611), Daniel Dun (d. 1617), Clement Colmore (d. 1619), and Thomas Ridley (d. 1629), Francis Mason is largely unknown. However, he is very worthy of inclusion in the canon of Anglican priest-jurists. What follows sketches the life and career of Mason, outlines his treatise on the Canons, and discusses that treatise in a wider context, including comparing it with a similar work by Bishop Edward Stillngfleet (d. 1699).

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Cardiff Law & Politics
Centre for Law and Religion (CLR)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0956-618X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 12 April 2024
Date of Acceptance: 15 September 2023
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2024 13:45

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