Online Encyclopedia

DOCTOR (Lat. for " teacher ")

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V08, Page 367 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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DOCTOR (Lat. for " teacher "), the title conferred by the highest university degree. Originally there were only two degrees, those of bachelor and master, and the title doctor was given to certain masters as a merely honorary appellation. The process by which it became established as a degree superior to that of master cannot be clearly traced. At Bologna it seems to have been conferred in the faculty of law as early as the 12th century. Paris conferred the degree in the faculty of divinity, according to Antony Wood, some time after 115o. In England it was introduced in the 13th century; and both in England and on the continent it was long confined to the faculties of law and divinity. Though the word is so commonly used as synonymous with " physician," it was not until the 14th century that the doctor's degree began to be conferred in medicine. The tendency since has been to extend it to all faculties; thus in Germany, in the faculty of arts, it has replaced the old title of magister. The doctorate of music was first conferred at Oxford and Cambridge. Doctors of the Church are certain saints whose doctrinal writings have obtained, by the universal consent of the Church or by papal decree, a special authority. In the case of the great schoolmen a characteristic qualification was added to the title doctor, e.g. " angelicus " (Aquinas), " mellifluus " (Bernard). The doctors of the Church are: for the East, SS. Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil the Great, John Chrysostom; for the West, SS. Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Anselm, Bernard, Bonaventura and Thomas Aquinas. To these St Alphonso dei Liguori was added by Pope Pius IX. DOCTORS' COMMONS, the name formerly, applied to a society of ecclesiastical lawyers in London, forming a distinct profession for the practice of the civil and canon laws. Some members of the profession purchased in 1567 a site near St Paul's, on which at their own expense they erected houses (destroyed in the great fire, but rebuilt in 1672) for the residence of the judges and advocates, and proper buildings for holding the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts. In 1768 a royal charter was obtained by virtue of which the then members of the society and their successors were incorporated under the name and title of " The College of Doctors of Law exercent in the Ecclesiastical and Admiralty Courts." The college consisted of a president (the dean of Arches for the time being) and of those doctors of law who, having regularly taken that degree in either of the universities of Oxford or Cambridge, and having been admitted advocates in pursuance of the rescript of the archbishop of Canterbury, were elected fellows in the manner prescribed by the charter. There were also attached to the college thirty-four proctors, whose duties were analogous to those of solicitors. The judges of the archiepiscopal courts were always selected from this college. By the Court of Probate Act 1837 the college was empowered to sell its real and personal estate and to surrender its charter, and it was enacted that on such surrender the college should be dissolved and the property thereof belong to the then existing members as tenants in common for their own use and benefit. The college was accordingly dissolved, and the various ecclesiastical courts which sat at Doctors' Commons (the Court of Arches, the Prerogative Court, the Faculty Court and the Court of Delegates) are now open to the whole bar.
End of Article: DOCTOR (Lat. for " teacher ")

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