Ecclesiastical Court

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Court Ecclesiasticque.

This court is mentioned in 1391. It dealt with Church disputes, testamentary questions, and offences against morals. Before the reformation it also claimed the right to try all clerics accused of crime. During the Calvinist regime it ceased to exist. After its reconstitution in 1623, it was largely a Court of morals, dealing with "blasphemers, adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, and profaners of the Sabbath", its weapons being excommunication and public penance.

This side of its work was quietly dropped in 1838; but it still deals with cases of clergy discipline, disputes about church buildings, matrimonial cases, and the legitimisation of children. It swears in Church officers, registers Notaries, and was the Probate Court of the island. The Dean is the judge with the Rectors as assessors, whose opinion he is bound to ask, but is not bound to adopt. From its judgments appeal lies to the Bishop of Winchester.

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