middle-sized landowners who comprised the majority of the board of heritors, the Scottish equivalent of the parish council.
The system of congregational calls tended to work more smoothly in non-established denominations, yet even here there were important differences as to who exactly had the right to choose a minister. English Presbyterians had a variety of methods and, depending on the congregation, 'the people' could mean the trustees of the congregation, regular contributors, or the majority of hearers. In some cases the incumbent simply appointed his successor. Compared with congregational and Baptist churches, English Presbyterians had a much higher view of appointment to the clerical office. The former saw an appointment to a vacant charge as a transaction between the individual pastor and the congregation whereas Presbyterians emphasized the importance of the presbytery in ordination, a rite which could sometimes be extended over a couple of days. In a similar vein, Ulster Presbyterians in the late seventeenth century issued a call to a minister through the presbytery, which often proved problematical as a shortage of ministers meant that presbyteries had to adjudicate between the respective needs of several congregations when deciding which call to approve. Procedures for calling a minister were tightened over the course of the eighteenth century, as presbyteries further consolidated control over the process and as the Synod of Ulster introduced a form of social segregation by which a minister could only be appointed to a congregation if he had received the support of two-thirds of the membership and those who contributed two-thirds of the minister's stipend. Although Presbyterian and independent churches were in theory more egalitarian than Episcopalians, which groups actually comprised 'the people' was determined by the hierarchical assumptions of the period.
The means of appointing a minister had an obvious impact upon clerical career patterns and promotion opportunities. Even in Presbyterian and Congregational churches there developed definite hierarchies of remuneration, and certain congregations, especially in urban areas, were much sought after by candidates. In Episcopalian churches across seventeenth-century Europe, there emerged an identifiable career structure for clergymen. A prospective clergyman often began as a schoolteacher and could potentially work his way towards a bishopric and once there towards a better endowed see or even the primacy. In the Church of England, the league table of episcopal incomes was headed by Canterbury, which had an annual income of £7,000, and extended downwards through sees such as Lincoln, valued at £1,500, to poor sees such as Bristol at £450 per annum. Although the English episcopate became an increasingly aristocratic body over the course of the eighteenth century, this did not
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