THE CONSTITUTION OF THE CHURCH OF IRELAND, 1541–1632
In November 1638, Wentworth was directed by Laud to answer those Scots in Ireland looking for the same concessions as their countrymen that ‘whatsoever he [the king] has indulged to Scotland, is because they have had there sometime a church government, such as it was, confused enough without bishops; but for Ireland, it has ever been reformed by and to the Church of England’.
This response was, broadly speaking, correct. A reading of Meredith Hanmer's recently published translation of Giraldus Cambrensis's account of the last canon of the council of Cashel, ‘that all the divine service in the Church of Ireland shall be kept used and observed in the like manner and order as it is in the Church of England’, would have lent a gratifyingly ancient tone to Laud's argument. The Henrician statutes did declare ‘the King's Majesty to be only supreme head on earth of the church of England and Ireland’ and they did endorse the validity of Irish canons, constitutions and other instruments of church government until ‘such time as the King's highness shall order and determine according to his laws of England’. While the Act for Kingly Title of 1541 caused the term ‘Church of Ireland’ to be used on its own, the titles and contents of statutes tended to mirror those of their Westminster equivalents. They did this so completely that some statutes ended up with inappropriate references to York and Canterbury.