Convocation (Lat. convocare, to call together), in the church of England, the assembly of the clergy by their representatives to consult on ecclesiastical matters, under the authority of a royal writ directed to the archbishop of each province. Assemblies of inferior clergy, at the call of their respective prelates, have been common from the earliest times; but, besides such councils, there were two other kinds peculiar to England, from which the present convocation is supposed to be derived. The first was the meeting of bishops and laity to legislate for the whole kingdom; the second was the assembling of the clergy to assess taxes on their own body at a period when they claimed to be exempt from taxation by parliament. With this latter purpose, convocations had been occasionally held in Saxon times, when the subsidies granted by the church to the crown bore the name of benevolences; but in the reign of Edward I. the practice was more definitively arranged. After the surrender of the right of self-taxation in 1665 had deprived the convocation of its political character, it continued to be held nominally for ecclesiastical purposes, though its real power was lost at the reformation.
An act was passed under Henry VIII. which restrained it from making any canon or ordinance opposed to the royal prerogative, or to the laws, customs, and statutes of the realm. The king's consent became necessary, not only to give validity to its acts, but to enable it to proceed to business. The provinces of Canterbury and York have each their convocation, though the latter is very rarely called. There is an upper and lower house, the former composed of the bishops, the latter of the inferior clergy, represented by all the deans and archdeacons, one proctor for every chapter, and two for the clergy of every diocese. The convocation has authority to examine and censure heretical and schismatical books and persons, but an appeal lies from its decisions to the king in council or his delegates, nor can it execute its laws and canons except under many restrictions. The clergy in convocation have the same privileges as members of parliament.