There were five presbyteries holding monthly meetings and annual visitations of all the congregations within their bounds, and coming together in general synod four times a year.
Entire conformity with the Scottish Church was maintained, and strict discipline was enforced by pastoral visitations, kirk-sessions and presbyteries.
These were usually regarded as visitations of chastisement for national sins and vindications of divine righteousness or judgments, i.e.
During the 8th and 9th centuries the office tended to become more and more exclusively purely administrative, the archdeacon by his visitations relieving the bishop of the minutiae of government and keeping him informed in detail of the condition of his diocese.
The clergy having thus another authority, and one moreover more canonical, to appeal to, the power of the archdeacons gradually declined; and, so far as the Roman Catholic Church is concerned, it received its death-blow from the council of Trent (1564), which withdrew all matrimonial and criminal causes from the competence of the archdeacons, forbade them to pronounce excommunications, and allowed them only to hold visitations in connexion with those of the bishop and with his consent.