In 1529 when the king was beginning his intimidation of the Church in England among the first objects of attack was non-residence. A statute of that year, which professed to be for the better service of ecclesiastical cures, dealt, in some detail and with some severity, with absenteeism and pluralism. 1 Henceforward these offences were to be tried in lay courts and treated with appropriate penalties; benefit of clergy was explicitly denied, and, as was the custom at that time, 2 the laity were encouraged to inform against offenders by the lure of half the fine. The fines were substantial: ₤10 for each offence of absence ‘wilfully by the space of one moneth togather or by the space of two monethes to be accompted at severall tymes in any one yere’; ₤20 for obtaining from the court of Rome or elsewhere any kind of dispensation for pluralism or non-residence contrary to the act. Anyone who already held a cure of souls worth more than ₤8 per annum would automatically deprive himself of it by obtaining another cure of souls. Whether the statute was doing more than establish implicitly the right of the Crown to limit the application of the papal dispensing power in England, whether it was a serious measure of reform provoked by a scandalous abuse which the Church was unable or unwilling to curb, and whether in fact it would transform the scale of the practices which it purported to restrain are questions which deserve closer scrutiny.