Page images

to be an abbot; and whenever there will not be such, the case is similar to that before mentioned, i.e., of the tribe to whom the land belongs binding the tribe of the patron saint by a guarantee to the tribe to whom the land belongs upon the annoit church." "The Succession shall not devolve upon the Branches of the Tribe unless God has given it to one of them in particular; but he (the candidate) shall be rejected, and named according to his dignity.That is, the order of the succession by lot shall not devolve upon the branching tribes unless there is a person better than the others; ie, there are two reasons why the succession does not devolve upon the branches if it be assumed by one, or unless there be a person fit to be an abbot in common among them. There are two reasons why it (the lot) is cast, commonness of claim and equality of persons fit for the office.”1

Such are the rules of the Celtic Church as to the succession to the headship of the tribe of the saint. Much in them is obscure; many of the numerous details are almost unintelligible; yet they show clearly that in the election of the abbots to the Celtic monasteries the prevailing rules were wholly different from any that either existed in, or were advocated by, the Latin Church. From these rules it clearly appears that the right of succession to the abbacy was in the following order :

1. The tribe of the saint, presumably monks in orders. 2. The tribe of the land, presumably lay men.

3. The tribe of the monks, the tribe to which the monasteries belonged (the "fine manach").

4. The annoit church.

5. The dalta church.

6. The compairche church. These three last being related to the tribe of the saint by the tie of ecclesiastical kinship.

7. The cill church.

8. A stranger.

Except in the first three cases, the tribe of the saint, the tribe of the land, and the tribe of the monks, every one, on succeeding to the abbacy, was bound to give his property to the monastery.

From these rules it appears that a layman who was 1 Rolls Ed., p. 79.

an abbot of a lay tribe, by holding a monastery was not in the Celtic church guilty of an act of lay usurpation over the church, but was only exercising his regular legal rights.

It would be beyond the limits of this paper to discuss the peculiar custom of the rule of the selection of the fittest "ecclesiastical tanistry", as it may be called, as to how and when an existing abbot was displaced by another and fitter person making his appearance. The chief point of interest is that the Irish laws here give us an account that is obviously genuine of the organisation of the Celtic monasteries. We see here, as we see nowhere else in the same degree, the ecclesiastical system as it existed under the Celtic rule. No part of the organisation is brought out more strongly than this, that the whole system was based on kinship, or on the relation of the churches to each other by the tie of kinship. The idea that the monasteries were related because they belonged to the same order, Benedictine or Cluniac, never entered the Celtic mind. As in the lay tribe, kinship, descent in theory from a legendary ancestor, united the tribe, and bound it together, so in the tribe of the saint, kinship, descent in theory from a legendary saint, was the basis on which the tribe was united, the link that bound it together. This fact may furnish one of the reasons for the great care and attention that were paid to the genealogies of the Welsh saints.

The rules also bring out another very important point. The succession to the Celtic abbacy was hereditary, not elective, or, more accurately, elective out of an hereditary class, the descendants of the founder, While any one might become a bishop, priest, or deacon, no one could become an abbot except, to use a modern phrase, he was of "founder's kin". From among the founder's kin the fittest, in theory, succeeded. The abbots of the mother church and the abbots of the offshoots were all called "conharbas", "coarbs" (joint heirs or coheirs). From among those who represented the founder's kin the abbot was elected according to cer

tain definite rules. If one of the "coarbs" happened to be a bishop he might be elected to the abbacy; he would, at least, be eligible for election. But unless he was a "coarb" (one of the founder's kin) an apostle would have had no chance of being elected a Celtic abbot.

It is worthy of notice that in the whole of this legal account of the Celtic Church organisation there is no mention of a bishop. Throughout the Corus Bescna it is doubtful if the word bishop occurs; it may, therefore, fairly be inferred that the Irish Celtic Church, as then constituted, knew nothing of episcopal government or episcopal rights. Neither bishop nor pope had any right of electing, or interfering with, or opposing, the election of any abbot to a Celtic monastery. When in later times we meet with episcopal and papal claims to rights and jurisdiction over monasteries, we may feel sure that such claims are traces of the rule of the alien over the national church. The great features of the Celtic Church, as shown by the Irish laws, were, therefore, three,-(1), that it was not independent of, but mixed up with, the civil organisation of the tribe; (2), that it had monastic rule by abbots; (3), that there is no trace of anything like a claim to or exercise of episcopal jurisdiction or supremacy. These are all the theories and ideas of a later age and another Church. This tribal as opposed to a national character of the Celtic Church is well described by an Irish writer :'— "The nation was split into independent tribes, the Church consisted of independent monasteries. The civil chaos out of which society had not yet escaped was faithfully reproduced in a Church devoid of hierarchical government; intensely national as faithfully reflecting the ideas of the nation; but not national in the ordinary acceptance of the term, as possessing an organisation co-extensive with the territory occupied by the nation."

1 Introduction to the Rolls Edition of the Ancient Laws of Ireland, vol. iii, p. lxxvi.

(To be continued.)





Knight of the Order of Merit of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, Officer of Public
Instruction in France, and Corresponding Member of the
Society of Antiquaries of Normandy.

(Continued from p. 206.)

IN tracing the descent and record-evidences of the Barrys of Manorbeer and Olethan we arrive at the conclusion that up to about the year 1325 they were unmistakeably the same people, and that the Pembrokeshire possessions continued with the same descendants (English and Anglo-Irish) down to that time, for irrespective of documentary evidence, it is hardly to be supposed that such belief should arise from a mere coincidence of names. We shall assume, therefore, that up to that date the lords of both properties were the

same persons.

It is quite possible that after the acquisition of their Irish estates, over which they exercised almost regal sway, the Barrys were less troubled about their Welsh property, though the evidence is as conflicting on this as on some other points; but it is unmistakeably shown. that towards the end of the reign of Edward III this last had entirely passed out of their hands. It is said of William de Barri (third in descent from the first known head of the family) that being a favourite of King John he assigned his Irish estate to his brother Robert, and lived in England, Kent being the district in which he located himself. This assertion may be true; equally that Manorbeer may have been too remote a residence for his purposes. At a later date we

also find some of the Irish estates conveyed to a brother by another of the family.

We have already spoken of William de Barri, one of Arnoul de Montgomery's adherents, as the common ancestor of the family. Robert, the eldest son,' was concerned with Fitz-Stephen in the first invasion of Ireland, being one of the advance detachment of the expeditionary force which first set foot in that country. He was slain at Lismore in 1185. Philip, the second son, went over to Ireland a few years later, as did also, in company with Prince John, as secretary, the younger son, Giraldus de Barri (or Cambrensis).

We give, in tabular form, the first four indisputable and authentic generations of the Barri family :

Rhys ap Tewdwr, 1090,-Gwladys
Prince of South Wales

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

A.D. 1140, 1166, 1176-85. Philip de Barri occurs at some date before quitting Pembrokeshire for Ireland, in 1185, as witness to an undated inspeximus charter of Peter de Leia, Bishop

1 Walter is recorded by some to have been an elder brother by a former wife, making Robert the eldest son by the second marriage. Of this Walter nothing is otherwise recorded.

« PreviousContinue »