On the 1st of July 1416 Chicheley directed a halfyearly inquisition by archdeacons to hunt out heretics.
It was partly in order to counterpoise the power of archdeacons that bishops created officials (Fournier, p. 8).
Archdeacons in course of time created officials who presided in court in their stead.
The extent of jurisdiction of archdeacons depended much upon local customs. In England the custom was generally in their favour.
In the absence of such consent, the bishop may hear the cause with three assessors, of whom one shall be a barrister of seven years' standing and another the dean of the cathedral, or one of the archdeacons, or the chancellor.
The council of Trent took away the jurisdiction of archdeacons in marriage questions.
It is specifically used as a title of address given to archdeacons in the Anglican Church.
In the Armenian Church priests and archdeacons, as well as the bishops, wear a mitre.
In the East, in the 5th century, the archdeacons were already charged with the proof of the qualifications of candidates for ordination; they attended the bishops at ecclesiastical synods, and sometimes acted as their representatives; they shared in the administration of sees during a vacancy.
In the West, in the 6th and 7th centuries, besides the original functions of their office, archdeacons had certain well-defined rights of visitation and supervision, being responsible for the good order of the lower clergy, the upkeep of ecclesiastical buildings and the safe-guarding of the church furniture - functions which involved a considerable disciplinary power.
This process received a great impulse from the erection in the 11th and 12th centuries of defined territorial jurisdictions for the archdeacons, who had hitherto been itinerant representatives of the central power of the diocese.
The bishops, now increasingly absorbed in secular affairs, were content with a somewhat theoretical power of control, while the archdeacons rigorously asserted an independent position which implied great power and possibilities of wealth.
The custom, moreover, had grown up of bestowing the coveted office of archdeacon on the provosts, deans and canons of the cathedral churches, and the archdeacons were thus involved in the struggle of the chapters against the episcopal authority.
His jurisdiction has become, in fact, not subordinate to, but co-ordinate with that of the bishop. Yet, so far as orders were concerned, he remained a deacon; and if archdeacons were often priests, this was because priests who were members of chapters were appointed to the office.
These were the officiales: the officiales foranei, whose jurisdiction was parallel with that of the archdeacons, and the officiales principales and vicars-general, who presided over the courts of appeal.
The clergy having thus another authority, and one moreover more canonical, to appeal to, the power of the archdeacons gradually declined; and, so far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, it received its death-blow from the council of Trent (1564), which withdrew all matrimonial and criminal causes from the competence of the archdeacons, forbade them to pronounce excommunications, and allowed them only to hold visitations in connexion with those of the bishop and with his consent.
The archdeacons are appointed by their respective bishops, and they are, by an act of 1840, required to have been six full years in priest's orders.
In the colonies there are two or more archdeacons in each diocese, and their functions correspond to those of English archdeacons.
4 This more or less regular sale of licences by bishops and archdeacons flourished from the days of Gregory VII.
They include those of patriarchs, archbishops, metropolitans and bishops in the first rank of the hierarchy, with their subordinate officials, such as archdeacons, archpriests, deans and canons, &c., in the lower ranks.
Middleton as bishop of Calcutta, with three archdeacons to assist him.
He strained every nerve to induce his clergy to accept his ruling on the questions of the reservation of the Sacrament and of the ceremonial use of incense in accordance with the archbishop's judgment in the Lincoln case; but when, during his last illness, a prosecutor brought proceedings against the clergy of five recalcitrant churches, the bishop, on the advice of his archdeacons, interposed his veto.
Laud's infatuated policy could go no further, and the etcetera oath, according to which whole classes of men were to be forced to swear perpetual allegiance to the "government of this church by archbishops, bishops, deans and archdeacons, &c.," was long remembered and derided.