Brawling in a church was an offence which formerly fell solely under the cognizance of the spiritual courts, but by the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act 1860 any person guilty of brawling in churches or chapels of the Church of England or Ireland, or in any chapel of any religious denomination, is liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment (see Brawling), while clergymen of the Church of England may also be dealt with under the Clergy Discipline Act 1892.
The ecclesiastical courts are for the most part officered by laymen, whose subordination to the archbishops and bishops is purely formal, and the final court of appeal is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
With equal firmness and success he vindicated his rights, whether against the indirect attacks of the papacy on his independence, or the claims of the ecclesiastical courts which, in principle, he made subordinate to the jurisdiction of the crown; whether in episcopal elections, or in ecclesiastical reforms which might possibly imperil his power or his revenues.
Thirdly, there was the inevitable jealousy between the secular and ecclesiastical courts and the serious problem of the exact extent of the original and appellate jurisdiction of the Roman Curia.
Educated at the neighbouring Benedictine abbey of Cerne and at Balliol College, Oxford, he graduated in law, and followed that profession in the ecclesiastical courts in London, where he attracted the notice of Archbishop Bourchier.
He held his canonry at Westminster in conjunction with the regius professorship. The strain of the joint work was very heavy, and the intensity of the interest and study which he brought to bear upon his share in the labours of the Ecclesiastical Courts Commission, of which he had been appointed a member, added to his burden.
Proceedings under this act are to be deemed to be taken in the appropriate ancient ecclesiastical courts (Green v.
C. 9, which reserved to the ecclesiastical courts their jurisdiction over heresy and similar offences, and their power of awarding punishments not extending to death.
At the diet of Piotrkow in 1562, indeed, the king's sore need of subsidies induced him, at the demand of the szlachta, to abolish altogether the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts in cases of heresy; but, on the other hand, at the diet of 1564 he accepted from Commendone the Tridentine decrees and issued an edict banishing all foreign, and especially Anti-trinitarian, heretics from the land.
He even took the hazardous step of separating ecclesiastical courts and lay courts, giving the church leave to establish separate tribunals of her own, a right which she had never possessed in Saxon England.