THE DEPENDENCY QUESTION


CHAPTER SIX

NOTES ON THE LAW AND THE CHURCH

From 1634 in the reign of Charles I by Order in Council the Church overseas is under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of London. The Caymanas Church from its beginnings after authorised settlement is subject to this Order. Records exist dating from 1802 that refer to activities of the Caymanas Church. No subsequent legislation has been found to change this legal position for the Cayman Islands.6.1

2. Acts were passed between 1681 and 1799 by the Jamaican Legislature restricting the exercise of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of London (before the Diocese of Jamaica was constituted). This legislation has no connection, however, to the Caymanas Church, for there is no enactment at this time of a dependency relationship making the Caymanas subject to the Laws of the Jamaican Legislature. There is no known record of any directive of the Governors of this period to the Caymanas authorities about this matter or about the Caymanas Church in any respect.

3. In 1824 Letters Patent issued by the Crown supported by subsequent confirming legislation by the Jamaican legislature form an Establishment of the Church of England in Jamaica as part of the Diocese of Jamaica. The Letters Patent refer to the See of Jamaica as intended to include the Island of Jamaica, the Bahama Islands, and the settlements in the Bay of Honduras "and their respective dependencies".6.2 Since the Bishop of Jamaica shortly after taking office approached the Caymanas with the assumption of jurisdiction there,6.3 it is reasonable to think that the Bishop and others took the Letters Patent to include the islands of the Caymanas on the assumption that they were a Dependency of Jamaica. However, this assumption, which was itself invalidated later by the Jamaican legislature, took no account of the fact that Jamaican legislation was not applicable to the Caymanas. Since the Clergy Acts of Jamaica,6.4 which confirmed the Diocese in that Island, could not apply to the Caymanas, no establishment of the Church of England could ever take place in the Caymanas.6.5 This legal position corresponds with the historical reality that the relationship between the Bishop of Jamaica and the Caymanas authorities, after its consensual character was admitted by 1836, failed in 1839, when the Island Clergyman left and the initial hopes for an establishment of the Church of England there within the Diocese of Jamaica were altogether abandoned.6.6 It also corresponds to the listing in the S.P.C.K.'s Colonial Church Atlas of 18456.7 of Cayman as not included within the Diocese of Jamaica (although it is specifically listed as a Colonial Dependency in the West Indies equally to others such as Jamaica and Trinidad), and to the subsequent detailed descriptions of the Diocese of Jamaica in numerous editions of the Church of England Yearbook, none of which mentions the Cayman Islands. To summarise, the Cayman Islands are never successfully attached to or included within the nineteenth century Diocese of Jamaica, and the prior legal position of the Caymanas as within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of London is unchanged.6.8

4. Twentieth century claims that the Cayman Islands are legally included in the Diocese of Jamaica, which in 1964 took itself outside the Church of England,6.9 rest on the assumption that that Diocese in 1970 had legal power over the Cayman Islands, an assumption that is clearly incorrect. The form of this assumption is that in 1970 the Synod of the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies possessed lawful authority, with the concurrence of the Bishop of Jamaica and subject to the Provincial Synod, "to re-arrange the boundaries of the Diocese of Jamaica to include the Cayman Islands".6.10 It is to be noted that from 1840 to 1970 no suggestion was ever made, either before or since their anomalous legal condition was corrected in the 1860's, that the Cayman Islands were already within the Diocese of Jamaica.

5. A Caymanian law "The Anglican Church of the Cayman Islands Law, 1979"6.11 exists, whose preamble states erroneously that "the Church in the Cayman Islands for the past one hundred and fifty years has been and remains part of the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies". It can have no power to affect the legal position of the Church of England here or the currency of the pre-settlement Order in Council by King Charles I, which is esteemed and accepted in the Cayman Islands by the members of the Ecclesiastical Corporation, the locally incorporated body of the Church of England in the Cayman Islands.6.12 S. 18 of the 1979 Law indeed states:- "Nothing herein contained shall affect or be deemed to affect the rights of Her Majesty the Queen or of any bodies politic or corporate, or other person or persons, except such as are mentioned or referred to in this Law and except those claiming by, from, through, or under them."

6. The current pastoral oversight graciously extended to the Anglican congregations of the Cayman Islands by the Episcopal Missionary Church and its Presiding Bishop on the one hand, and by the Church in Jamaica in the Province of the West Indies and its Diocesan Bishop on the other has no legal implications and confers no legal authority in the Cayman Islands upon those bodies, an authority which would clearly conflict with that which the Law within these Islands still invests without diminishment in the Church of England and the Bishop of London.