Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

he had to fly for his life in the disguise of a priest. In the next year he was sent by the earl of Oxford to serve definitely under the prince of Orange. After a year’s service he obtained leave to return to England, and after many adventures and narrow escapes in a journey through hostile territory he embarked for Guernsey, and thence for England. His patron, Lord Oxford, disowned him, and the poet, whose health was failing, retired to Bath. He appears to have made a very unhappy marriage at this time, and returned to the Low Countries. Falling into the hands of the Spaniards he was recognized as having had a hand in the Antwerp disturbance, and was under sentence to be executed as a spy when he was saved by the intervention of a noble lady. This experience did not deter him from joining in the defence of Zutphen in 1572, but this was his last campaign, and the troubles of the remaining years of his life were chiefly domestic.

Churchyard was employed to devise a pageant for the queen’s reception at Bristol in 1574, and again at Norwich in 1578. He had published in 1575 The firste parte of Churchyarde’s Chippes, the modest title which he gives to his works. No second part appeared, but there was a much enlarged edition in 1578. A passage in Churchyarde’s Choise (1579) gave offence to Elizabeth, and the author fled to Scotland, where he remained for three years. He was only restored to favour about 1584, and in 1593 he received a small pension from the queen. The affectionate esteem with which he was regarded by the younger Elizabethan writers is expressed by Thomas Nashe, who says (Foure Letters Confuted) that Churchyard’s aged muse might well be “grandmother to our grandiloquentest poets at this present.” Francis Meres (Palladis Tamia, 1598) mentions him in conjunction with many great names among “the most passionate, among us, to bewail and bemoan the perplexities of love.” Spenser, in “Colin Clout’s come home again,” calls him with a spice of raillery “old Palaemon” who “sung so long until quite hoarse he grew.” His writings, with the exception of his contributions to the Mirror for Magistrates, are chiefly autobiographical in character or deal with the wars in which he had a share. They are very rare, and have never been completely reprinted. Churchyard lived right through Elizabeth’s reign, and was buried in St Margaret’s church, Westminster, on the 4th of April 1604.

The extant works of Churchyard, exclusive of commendatory and occasional verses, include:—A lamentable and pitifull Description of the wofull warres in Flanders (1578); A general rehearsall of warres, called Churchyard’s Choise (1579), really a completion of the Chippes, and containing, like it, a number of detached pieces; A light Bondel of livelie Discourses, called Churchyardes Charge (1580); The Worthines of Wales (1587), a valuable antiquarian work in prose and verse, anticipating Michael Drayton; Churchyard’s Challenge (1593); A Musicall Consort of Heavenly harmonie . . . called Churchyards Charitie (1595); A True Discourse Historicall, of the succeeding Governors in the Netherlands (1602).

The chief authority for Churchyard’s biography is his own “Tragicall Discourse of the unhappy man’s life” (Churchyardes Chippes). George Chalmers published (1817) a selection from his works relating to Scotland, for which he wrote a useful life. See also an edition of the Chippes (ed. J. P. Collier, 1870), of the Worthines of Wales (Spenser Soc. 1876), and a notice of Churchyard by H. W. Adnitt (Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Nat. Hist. Soc., reprinted separately 1884).

CHURCHYARD, a piece of consecrated ground attached to a parochial church, and used as a burial place. It is distinguished from a cemetery (q.v.), which is also a place of burial, but is separate and apart from any parochial church. A cemetery in England is either the property of a private company, incorporated by special act of parliament, or of a local authority, and is subject to the Cemeteries Clauses Act 1847, incorporated in the Public Health Acts. The practice of burying in churches or churchyards is said to have been connected with the custom of praying for the dead, and it would appear that the earlier practice was burying in the church itself. In England, about the year 750, spaces of ground adjoining the churches were enclosed and appropriated to the burial of those who had been entitled to attend divine service in those churches.

The right to burial in the parish churchyard is a common law right, controlled in many points by the provisions of the law ecclesiastical. This double character is sufficient to explain the controversy which has so long raged round the subject of burials in England. Every man, according to the common law, has a right to be buried in his own churchyard, or, as it is sometimes put, in the churchyard of the parish where he dies. But the churchyard, as well as the church itself, is the freehold of the parson, who can in many respects deal with it as if it were a private estate. A statute of Edward I. (35, st. 2) speaks of the churchyard as the soil of the church, and the trees growing in the churchyard “as amongst the goods of the church, the which laymen have no authority to dispose,” and prohibits “the parsons from cutting down such trees unless required for repairs.” Notwithstanding the consecration of the church and churchyard and the fact that they are the parson’s freehold, a right of way may be claimed through them by prescription. The right to burial may be subject to the payment of a fee to the incumbent, if such has been the immemorial custom of the parish, but not otherwise. The spirit of the ancient canons regarded such burial fees as of a simoniacal complexion, inasmuch as the consecrated grounds were among the res sacrae—a feeling which Lord Stowell says disappeared after the Reformation. No person can be buried in a church without the consent of the incumbent, except when the owner of a manor-house prescribes for a burying-place within the church as belonging to the manor-house. In the case of Rex v. Taylor it was held that an information was grantable against a person for opposing the burial of a parishioner; but the court would not interpose as to the person’s refusal to read the burial service because he never was baptized—that being matter for the ecclesiastical court. Strangers (or persons not dying in the parish) should not be buried, it appears, without the consent of the parishioners or churchwardens, “whose parochial right of burial is invaded thereby.”

In Scotland the obligation of providing and maintaining the churchyard rests on the heritors of the parish. The guardianship of the churchyard belongs to the heritors and also to the kirk-session, either by delegation from the heritors, or in right of its ecclesiastical character. The right of burial appears to be strictly limited to parishioners, although an opinion has been expressed that any person dying in the parish has a right to be buried in the churchyard. The parishioners have no power of management. The presbytery may interfere to compel the heritors to provide due accommodation, but has no further jurisdiction. It is the duty of the heritors to allocate the churchyard. The Scottish law hesitates to attach the ordinary incidents of real property to the churchyard, while English law treats the ground as the parson’s freehold. It would be difficult to say who in Scotland is the legal owner of the soil. Various opinions appear to prevail, e.g. as to grass growing on the surface and minerals found beneath. The difficulty as to religious services does not exist. On the other hand, the religious character of the ground is hostile to many of the legal rights recognized by the English law.

See also Burial and Burial Acts; Cemetery.

CHURL (A.S. ceorl, cognate with the Ger. Kerl and with similar words in other Teutonic languages), one of the two main classes, eorl and ceorl, into which in early Anglo-Saxon society the freemen appear to have been divided. In the course of time the status of the ceorl was probably reduced; but although his political power was never large, and in some directions his freedom was restricted, it hardly seems possible previous to the Norman Conquest to class him among the unfree. Some authorities, however, accept this view. At all events it is certain that the ceorl was frequently a holder of land, and a person of some position, and that he could attain the rank of a thegn. Except in Kent his wergild was fixed at two hundred shillings, or one-sixth of that of a thegn, and he is undoubtedly the twyhynde man of Anglo-Saxon law. In Kent his wergild was considerably higher, and his status probably also, but his position in this kingdom is a matter of controversy. After the Norman Conquest the ceorls were reduced to a condition of servitude, and the word translates the villanus of Domesday Book, although it also covers classes other than the villani. The form ceorl soon became cherl, as in Havelok the Dane (ante 1300) and several times in Chaucer,