While secular law prevails and causes millions to ascribe a pencil cross on a slip of paper this coming Thursday, another election will also take place, of a religious variety.

The below notice is on the board at St Mary-le-Bow church in the City of London, which apart from being a church is also a legal court. And although based in London, The Court of Arches is actually the provincial court for Canterbury, and this week, there will be a sitting to confirm the election of each new diocesan bishop in the province.

Which leads to the use of wonderfully archaic language of the sort that frankly, I love.

Justin Portal by Divine Providence Lord Archbishop of Canterbury Primate of all England and Metropolitan

To all persons in Our Province of Canterbury and in particular to the Reverend George Raymond Bush and to the Churchwardens of the Parish Church of Saint Mary-le-Bow in the City of London Greeting

Whereas The Episcopal See of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich having become vacant by the resignation of the Right Reverend Father in God William Nigel Stock the College of Canons of the Cathedral Church of St James and St Edmund, Bury St Edmunds after having petitioned for and obtained the Royal Licence for an Election to be held for a new Bishop did assemble and elect The Reverend Canon Martin Alan Seeley to be the Bishop and Pastor of their Cathedral Church

And Whereas Her Most Excellent Majesty Our Most Gracious Sovereign Lady Elizabeth the Second by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen Head of the Commonwealth and Defender of the Faith has at the humble Petition of the College of Canons of the Cathedral Church given her Royal Assent and Consent to such Election of Martin Alan Seeley as Her Majesty has signified to Us by Her Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm requiring Us to confirm such Election according to the tenor and exigency of the Laws and Statutes of England with all convenient speed (as more fully appears by Her said Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm inscribed and directed to Us)

And Whereas in obedience to Her Majesty’s Royal Command We have decreed that any persons who shall except to or question the validity or form of such Election or the identity of the person elected shall be cited and summoned to appear on the day at the hour and place for the purposes underwritten (justice so requiring)

Now We commit and strictly enjoin and require you the said Incumbent and Churchwardens to cite or cause to be cited (by affixing these presents in some proper place at the Parish Church of St Mary-le-Bow in the City of London or such other public place as shall be most expedient) any persons who may desire to raise any such objection that they appear before Our Vicar General or his surrogate in the Parish Church of Saint Mary-le-Bow aforesaid on 7 May 2015 at the hour of Four o’clock in the afternoon And all persons intending so to oppose shall make their objections in writing and deliver the same at the Principal Registry 16 Beaumont Street in the City of Oxford before Four o’clock in the afternoon of 1 May 2015

The Vicar General will sit in Chambers at the Parish Church of St Mary-le-Bow aforesaid on Thursday 7 May 2015 at Fifteen minutes to Five o’clock in the afternoon to consider any objections that may have been delivered and no objector who shall not have given such notice and appeared in Chambers at such time may appear or be heard during the business of Confirmation

We and Our Vicar General or his Surrogate will then proceed in the business of Confirmation as our duty shall require according to the exigency of the Laws and Statutes of England

And what you shall do or cause to be done in the premises you shall duly and authentically certify Us Our Vicar General or his Surrogate or so let one of you certify who shall execute this Our Mandate

Dated this seventh day of April in the year of Our Lord Two thousand and Fifteen and of Our Translation the Third

Principal Registrar of the Province of Canterbury For and on behalf of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury



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  1. Andrew says:

    Oh, the language is wonderful, but surely they have held the election already? This hearing will consider any objetcions to the result.

    And isn’t it a sitting of the Court of the Vicar General, rather than the Court of Arches?

  2. Dave says:

    My first thought was “what if there are objections by certain religious sectors to the use of a religious symbol (a cross) on the ballot papers in the secular elections”? As I understand it, any other symbol invalidates the vote (although it may be brought into consideration by agreement if the result is close and a recount is requested.

  3. Rosemary Pettit says:

    If you mark your ballot paper clearly with a tick, for example, or write ‘Yes’ against one name that will be counted.

    • Simon says:

      Re: voting

      These are quite interesting ideas, but can anyone back them up with actual evidence?

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