Alfred Plummer.

English church history, from the death of Charles I. to the death of William III. Four lectures online

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presented to the


Dr. and Mrs. John Galbraith



(Uniform in size and price with this Volume.)


From the Death of King Henry vn. to the Death
of Archbishop Parker, 1509-1575.


From the Death of Archbishop Parker to the
Death of King Charles I., 1575-1649.

' In two Volumes of English Church History Lectures,
1509-1575 and 1575-1649, Dr. Alfred Plummer, late Master
of University College, Durham, shows how skilfully a
learned man, who is also a teacher of experience, can
gather, and invest with something of a new freshness, the
conclusions of original authorities and modern investigators.
Dr. Plummer has read very widely, and he has the art of
seizing the salient points and making them emphatic by
a sharpness of phrase, or an aptness of quotation, which
helps to fix them in the memory. There is no wonder
that these lectures have been widely popular. They
are eminently candid, judicious, and unprejudiced.'
W. H. HUTTON, B.D., Fellow and Tutor, St. John's College,
Oxford (in the Journal of Theological Studies. )



From the Death of Charles I.
to the Death of William III.





Quin etiam infelix virtus et noxia felix,
et male consultis pretium est, pradentia fallit,
nee fortuna probat causas sequiturque merentes,
sed vaga per cunctos nullo discrimine fertur.
MANIL. iv. 94-7.



Printed by





THESE lectures, like the two volumes which have
preceded them, 1 were written for popular audiences
in connexion with the Exeter Diocesan Reading
Society. They are not intended for experts, but
were delivered, and are published, in the hope that
they may induce a few English people to take more
interest in the history of the English Church than
they have hitherto done. The three little volumes
take the reader, in a somewhat rapid, but (it is
hoped) not unintelligible way, through the momen-
tous period during which the Book of Common
Prayer first took shape and reached almost exactly
the form in which we possess it now, and during
which the English Church passed through vicissi-
tudes, of the critical nature of which the changes
made in the Prayer-Book are only a faint reflexion.
In all three volumes the aim has been to select,
from the overwhelming abundance of facts, just

1 English Church History from the Death of Henry VII. to the
Death of Archbishop Parker. Four Lectures by the Rev. A.
Plummer. T. & T. Clark, 1905. 3s. net.

1 English Church History from the Death of Archbishop Parker to
the Death of Charles /. Four Lectures by the Rev. A. Plummer.
T. & T. Clark, 1904. 3s. net.


a few of the most important, and to give to the
selected facts enough colour and clothing to leave a
definite impression upon the hearer's or reader's
mind. It has been very gratifying to the writer of
these lectures to learn from competent critics that
they have been regarded as impartial and fair. They
have certainly been written with a strong desire to
do justice to both sides independently of the writer's
own sympathies. Very possibly this ideal has not
always been reached ; but, if only the effort to attain
to it is manifest, the reader will be able to sym-
pathize with that effort, whatever he may think
of the actual results. It is not likely that many
readers will agree with quite all that is said about
those who were making history during this highly
controversial period.

Although original authorities have been much used,
these lectures, like their predecessors, are mainly
based upon the best modern works which have come
within the lecturer's knowledge, and in some places
are derived directly from such works. Yet he has
endeavoured to form his own conclusions, and to
put forth only what he has made his own by reflexion
and conviction.

The following are the principal modern works
that have been used in preparing the lectures :

AIRY, 0., Charles II.

BOGUE and BENNETT, History of Dissenters.
BITRROWS, MONTAGU, Commentaries on the History of England.
BUKGHCLERE, LADY, Oeorge Vittiers, Second Duke of Buck-
Cambridge Modern History.


CARLYLE, T., Oliver Cromwell's Letters and Speeches.

Church Quarterly Review.

COLVILLE, A., Duchess Sarah.

Dictionary of National Biography.

Encyclopaedia Britannica.

FREEMAN, E. A., Growth of the English Constitution.

GARDINER, S. R., Cromwell.

Cromwell's Place in History.

The Puritan Revolution (Epochs of Modern

GARDINER and BULLINGER, Introduction to the Study of

English History.

GASQTJET, F. A., The Adventures of King James II.
GEE and HARDY, Documents illustrative of English Church


GREEN, J. R., History of the English People.
GUIZOT, F. P. G., Causes of the Success of the English Re-
HALLAM, H., Constitutional History of England.

Introduction to the Literature of Europe.
HORE, A. H., The Church in England from William III. to

HUNT, J., Religious Thought in England from the Reformation

to the Eighteenth Century.
HITTTON, W. H., The English Church from the Accession of

Charles I. to the Death of Anne.
LATHBURY, T., History of the Nonjurors.
LECKY, W. E. H., History of England in the Eighteenth

Century, vol. i.

LINOARD, J., History of England, vols. viii. to x.
MACAULAY, T., History of England, vol. i.


MACOWER, F., Constitutional History of England.
MARSDEN, J. B., History of the Later Puritans.
MORLEY, J., Oliver Cromwell.
MOZLEY, J. B., Essay on Cromwell.
OVERTON, J. H., Life in the English Church, 1660-1714.


OXENHAM, H. N., Studies in Ecclesiastical History.

PERRY, G. G., History of the Church of England from the

Death of Elizabeth.

RANKE, L., History of England, vols. iii. and iv.
SCHAFF, P., The Reformation.
SHAW, W. A., History of the English Church during the Civil


SKEATS, H. S., History of the Free Churches of England.
SMITH, GOLDWIK, The United Kingdom, a Political History.

Three English Statesmen.

STEPHEN, LESLIE, English Thought in the Eighteenth Century.
STEPHEN, SIB J., Essays in Ecclesiastical Biography.
TASWELL-LANGMEAD, T. P., English Constitutional History.
TATTNTON, E. L., History of the Jesuits in England.
TOUXMIN, JOSHUA, Historical View of the State of Dissenters

in England.
TREVELYAN, G., England under the Stuarts.

For those who like to take their ideas of history
from novels, there is a very large supply dealing with
the period between Charles I. and Anne. Only a
small portion of them can be mentioned here. Defoe's
Life of Colonel Jack and History of the Plague ; Scott's
Peveril of the Peak and Woodstock ; Ainsworth's
Talbot Harland, Old St. Paul's, Beatrice Tyddesley,
and James II. ; Mrs. Marshall's Memoirs of Troublous
Times, Winchester Meads, By the North Sea, and
Kensington Palace in the Days of Mary n. ; Miss
Yonge's The Danvers Papers and The Last of the
Cavaliers ; Miss Everett Green's After Worcester and
In Taunton Town ; Miss Christabel Coleridge's Lady
Betty ; Miss Sarah Tytler's Duchess Frances ; Miss
Braddon's London Pride ; Blackmore's Lorna Doone ;
Leigh Hunt's Sir Ralph Esher ; Anthony Hope's


Simon Dale ; Austin Clare's The Carved Cartoon ',
Conan Doyle's Micah Clarke ; Stanley Weyman's
Shrewsbury ; Max Pemberton's A Puritan's Wife.

The lectures in this volume were delivered at
various centres of the Church Reading Society in the
Diocese of Exeter during the autumn of 1905 and
the spring of 1906. They were also delivered to a
large gathering of clergy at the Palace, Gloucester,
in May 1906. By the invitation of the Professors
of Theology, the first and second lectures were
delivered in June 1906 in the Divinity School of
Trinity College, Dublin. The first, second, and
fourth were delivered to clergy of the diocese of
Wakefield in October 1906 at Huddersfield.



26th January 1907.














" Great revolutions happen in this ant's nest of ours. One
emmet of illustrious character and great abilities pushes out
another : parties are formed, they range themselves in for-
midable opposition, they threaten each other's rain, they cross
over and are mingled together, and, like the coruscations of the
northern aurora, amuse the spectator, at the same time that
by some they are supposed to be forerunners of a general dis-

" There are political earthquakes as well as natural ones, the
former less shocking to the eye, but not always less fatal in
their influence than the latter. The image which Nebuchad-
nezzar saw in his dream was made up of heterogeneous and
incompatible materials, and accordingly broken. Whatever is
so formed must expect a like catastrophe."

WILLIAM COWPEB, Letter to Joseph Hill, 1783.




IT has been remarked that the two most sensible
things to be said about the trial and execution of
Charles I. are (1) that it was an act of war, just as
defensible or as questionable as the war itself ;
(2) that the regicides treated Charles precisely as
Charles meant to treat them. Throughout, it had
been " My head or thy head," and Charles had lost. 1
But, while we admit the lawfulness of war, we do
not admit the lawfulness of putting prisoners-of-war
to death. Charles was a prisoner-of-war, and that,
not by capture on the field of battle, but by self-
surrender. Civilized nations do not put such prisoners
to death. And, if the first plea is invalid, the second
is untrue. It is not true that, from first to last
the contest had been " My head or thy head."
Until the Second Civil War in 1648 no one thought
of taking the King's head ; and at the time when
it was resolved, in the event of victory, to put Charles
1 J. Morley, Oliver Cromwdl, p. 286.



to death, the King was already a prisoner. There
are some ways of looking at the execution of Charles
which are less sensible than others ; but there is no
way in which it can be regarded as other than a
crime of great magnitude. And that for two reasons.
First, the King had committed no offence for which
the penalty of death was due. Secondly, there
was no court competent to sentence him to death. 1

But, what concerns us more with regard to the
period immediately before us, is, that the execution
of Charles was not only a great crime but a great
blunder. It was a political error of the very first

Cromwell had said, " We will cut off his head,
with the crown upon it." But that was precisely
what could not be done. Directly the head of
Charles i. was off, the crown went to Charles n.
So long as Charles I. was in safe custody, the King
and his crown were in custody. But to put Charles
to death was to release the King : le roi est mort,

1 The way in which the execution of Charles L was regarded
by Royalists, and perhaps by many more, has been eloquently
described by Dr. O. Airy : " It was murder, murder most foul
and most unnatural. A band of wicked men had done to death
more than their King, more than a good and gracious master,
and a man of pure and pious life. In his person they had violated
the sacredness of monarchy, the sacredness of the Church, the
laws and liberties of England, everything for which his servants
had sacrificed home, friends, children, and estates, and for
which they had been at any moment willing to give their lives.
This drumhead court-martial was not the act of the people of
England ; it was not an execution, or an incident of warfare ;
it was murder, which cried for vengeance " (Charles IT., pp. 58, 59).


vive le rot. The son, who was free, at once became
dangerous. The thousands who valued monarchy,
but detested the tyranny of Charles I., would never
have moved a finger to help the Prince of Wales to
set free his father. But they were not unwilling
to help Charles n. to avenge his father ; and, when
they saw that there was no other way of getting
rid of military despotism and restoring monarchy,
they were very willing indeed to help the son to mount
the throne of his father. Nor was this the whole
of the blunder. The violent proceedings against
Charles I. gave him an opportunity of putting him-
self right with his justly offended subjects. Not
merely royalty, but the King himself, was thereby
planted afresh and firmly in the affections of his
people, and those who had abhorred and opposed
his policy, at once began to cherish his memory.
As Macaulay says, " No demagogue ever produced
such an impression on the public mind as the captive
King, who, retaining in that extremity all his regal
dignity, and confronting death with dauntless courage,
gave utterance to the feelings of his oppressed people,
manfully refused to plead before a court unknown
to the law, appealed from military violence to the
principles of the Constitution, asked by what right
the House of Commons had been purged of its
most respectable members, and the House of Lords
deprived of its legislative functions, and told his
weeping hearers that he was defending not only his
own cause, but theirs." *

1 History of England, i. p. 128.


Those who committed this act of guilt and folly
were Republicans, who professed to be acting in the
name and for the interests of the nation. But the
majority of the nation (including not a few Re-
publicans) abhorred the deed ; and this fact at once
made a genuine democratic form of government
impossible. You may get rid of despots, but you
cannot establish freedom, by the sword.

We must pass on to consider the first, and, thus
far, also the last, English Republic.

Of the eleven years which separate the death of
Charles I. from the restoration of Charles n., less
than half can be called, even in a limited sense, a
Republic. During the first four years, and during
the last year, some of the forms of a Republic were
observed ; and a shadow of republican formality was
observed even during the Protectorate. But, in
reality, the government, during what is called the
Commonwealth, was a military Oligarchy, with a
tendency to become closer and closer, and end, as
it sometimes did end, in the rule of a single despot.
It started, at the very outset, in a glaring inconsist-
ency. It professed to be setting up free and popular
government in place of the tyranny of an hereditary
monarch ; and yet it did not dare to appeal to the
people whom it claimed to have freed. From the
point of view of the Rump Parliament and the
regicide army, a dissolution was impossible. There
was a multitude of religious and political questions
of the utmost importance still unsettled ; and the
peril of throwing all these before the electors, excited


and sickened as they were by recent civil convulsions,
was enormous. It was risking all that had been
fought for during the last seven years. This refusal
to appeal to the country was natural, and perhaps
necessary, but it was fatal to the establishment of
a true Republic.

A Republic, which is the spontaneous outcome of
a nation's own thoughts and desires, has a prospect
of becoming permanent. It wins sympathy and
respect from those who accept it, and it stimulates
them to political and moral activities, which tend to
give them unity, strength, and self-respect. But a
Republic, which is forced upon a people that has
neither thought about it nor desired it, which is out
of harmony with national traditions and aspirations,
which is introduced by violence and maintained by
faction, is not likely to be very long-lived. It may
be accepted for a time, either of necessity or as an
experiment. But the longer it delays putting its
professed principles to the test by a genuine appeal
to the people, the more sure, and the more complete
in the end, will be its downfall. And such a Republic
does more than simply fail and pass away : it dis-
credits in the eyes of a generation or two the very
principles of popular government.

Perhaps it would not be untrue to say that the
violent measures by which the Commonwealth was
introduced placed an amount of power in the hands
of Oliver Cromwell which was incompatible with
the Commonwealth's growth. He was frequently
hampered, and even thwarted, no doubt, by lesser


men, who dearly loved to play the part of " candid
friend," or simply grudged to him the power which
they could not wield themselves. But, when he was
not being made to act as the " drudge " of the army,
it would hardly be exaggeration to say that, in the
main, Cromwell did what he pleased. 1 And what did
it please him to do ? What is there that he has
established ? No doubt his services to the nation
then were numerous and substantial : some of them
will have to be noticed presently. But what is there
of his initiation that still survives ? Not very

It is Cromwell's destructive work that has been
permanent ; his attempts at construction all failed ;
in some cases they did not last as long as himself.
Cromwell's power was always in the sword ; he was
a great general, and a still greater commander in the
field. But, where force was of no avail, Cromwell
was impotent. The sword can destroy, but it cannot
build up ; and Cromwell's system of government,
both in Church and State, quickly fell to pieces.
But his destructive blows were permanently effective.
He struck down the persecuting Church which had
inflicted cruel penalties on conscientious dissenters.

1 The expression, " drudge " of the army, is his own. In
addressing the Hundred Officers touching the Kingship, 27th
February 1657, the Protector said, that " they had made him
their drudge upon all occasions." He mentions the dissolution
of the Long Parliament, the nomination of a convention, the
Parliament which followed it, its dissolution, the appointment
of Major-Generals, and the Second Parliament, as among these


He struck down the tyrannical monarchy, which
claimed by divine right to do as it pleased. He
struck down the worthless Parliament, which set at
defiance both the nation which had elected it and
which it grossly misrepresented, and also the army
by which it had been kept in power. And none of
these things, in the noxious form in which he de-
stroyed them, have ever been set up again. 1 As
Guizot has remarked, Cromwell remains for ever
" a striking example to the world of what a great
man can do and what he cannot do. By sheer force
of genius he made himself master of his country and
of the revolution which he let loose upon his country ;
and he died, consuming his genius in an ineffectual
effort to restore what he had destroyed a Parlia-
ment and a King." 2

But we must devote our attention chiefly to the
work of Cromwell and the Commonwealth in reference
to religion.

Episcopacy and the historic Church of England
had been disestablished by the Long Parliament,
when it made its bargain with the Scots, to induce
them to help in overthrowing Charles I. Presby-

1 S. R. Gardiner, Cromwell's Place in History, pp. 45, 46.

1 Causes of the Success of the English Revolution, p. 72. In-
deed, what Cromwell said of himself was not far from the truth ;
he was a constable set to keep the peace of the parish. He
could maintain his rule against those who opposed it, but he
could not obtain for it any sure basis, because he could not
win for it the approval of the nation. " The fabric ho had
reared was overthrown without an effort, offering no resistance
to the destroyer " (Lord Acton, Lectures on Modern History,
p. 203).


terianism had been adopted by Parliament in 1646 ;
and, as an experiment to be tried for three years,
it had received the very reluctant sanction of Charles
himself. Now that Charles was gone, Presbyterian-
ism was regarded as in permanent possession. Why
did it not remain in permanent possession ? Why,
after such a signal triumph, was it, in less than fifteen
years, compelled to retire from the field discredited
and disliked ? In the main there were three reasons.
1 . It was an alien religion, out of harmony with the
English character. 2. It was greedy of power, and
in the attempt to make itself absolute overreached
itself. 3. It vexed the spirits and shocked the
consciences of the majority by its tyranny and
intolerance. Each of these three points requires

1. Presbyterianism, i.e. Church government by a
select body of presbyters or elders, with strict dis-
cipline enforced upon all members by means of
assembly and classes, is a system of foreign origin.
The originator was the Frenchman Calvin, and its
headquarters were at Geneva, where he established
it. Its rigid methods, attractive to the Scots, never
became popular in the English nation, which has no
liking for persistent drill, either in public worship
or in private life. 1 Moreover, there was in England
no enthusiast, like Knox, with the ability and energy
to carry congregations along with him. But for
the necessity of gaining the Scots, who would accept

1 Shaw, The English Church during the Civil Wars and under
the Commonwealth, ii. p. 22.


no other terms than the adoption of the Covenant,
the Long Parliament would never have forced Pres-
byterianism on the nation. And even the Long
Parliament was powerless to enforce it everywhere.
There were plenty of places, especially in the North
of England, in which the hateful discipline of the
courts of elders, inflicting fines and imprisonment
for supposed spiritual offences, never got a

2. And the Presbyterians, where they did become
dominant, as in London and many large towns and
also in various rural parishes, were not content with
being the ecclesiastical organization which was
established by the State, protected by the State,
and controlled by the State. They claimed absolute
independence of all State control. 1 If their system
and the Government should come into collision, it
was the Government that must give way. " The
want of Eldership," they said, " was the cause of all
evil. No Commonwealth will flourish without it.
This Discipline is not a small part of the Gospel ;
it is the substance of it. Without this Discipline
there can be no true religion. This government is
the sceptre whereby alone Christ Jesus ruleth among
men. The establishing of the Presbyteries is the
full placing of Christ in His Kingdom. They that
reject this Discipline refuse to have Christ reign over
them, and deny Him in effect to be their King or
their Lord. It is the blade of a shaken sword in the
hand of the Cherubins, to keep the way of the tree
1 P. Schaff, The Reformation, p. 74.


of life." 1 The Papacy, with the prestige of many
centuries behind it, hardly made greater demands
upon the submission of mankind than did this brand-
new system from Geneva.

3. But the English people might have been willing
to tolerate this system a little longer, if it had shown
anything like moderation in using the position of
advantage which Parliament had given to it ; or in
exercising the discipline which was of the essence of
the system. Before very long, persecution is sure to
produce a revulsion of feeling in favour of the per-
secuted ; and the way in which the thousands of
ejected clergy, with their wives and children, were
treated, steadily increased public sympathy for the
sufferers. It is difficult to obtain anything like
exact numbers ; but John Walker, Rector of St. Mary
Major, Exeter, 2 estimated that not less than 7000
clergy were ejected from benefices. In Exeter only
one, a " compiler," retained his living. In Cornwall
70 out of 160 were ejected ; in Northamptonshire
100 out of 150. In Suffolk, he was told, scarcely

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Online LibraryAlfred PlummerEnglish church history, from the death of Charles I. to the death of William III. Four lectures → online text (page 1 of 13)