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Ecclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 4) online

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our review of the theology of the period — was not an
unconcerned spectator of the changes occurring at the
time, and the excitement which they produced; and
I find amongst the State Papers the following exquisite
specimen of the characteristic flattery of the age preserved

' State Papers, April 27, 1675.

Chap. XL] REVENUES. 197

in a letter which he wrote, on Holy Thursday, to his
friend at Court : — " Eight Honourable, — Having no way
else to express the sense of my greatest obligations to
you, I beg you will commiserate so far as to accept this
renewal of my heartiest acknowledgments. I hasten to
make it, not for fear I should forget your favours (I know
that to be next impossibility), but to shun the pain of
delay, from the weight and pressure of them. It is some
ease to a grateful mind, under such a load of obligations,
to air itself in the field where they grow. Most honoured
Sir, amongst all the rest of your noble kindnesses to me,
I must single that out of the crowd, which made you
unkind (I had almost said, unnatural) to yourself, to let
me know how much you are my friend. I can but thank
you, and tell stories at home and abroad of your goodness
to me, and heartily pray for the increase of all honour to
you, with a long enjoyment, and the reward at last of a
blessed immortality. ' ' ^

These well-timed compliments were not in vain ; for,
though Tully did not obtain any preferment in con-
sequence of the death of the Bishop of Lincoln, he was
immediately afterwards promoted to the Deanery of Ripon,
upon the death of Dr. John Neile.

Dr. Barlow, a well-known Oxford man, and an eager
aspirant for a bishopric, obtained the see of Lincoln,
and wrote on the 29th of May, as mentioned already, to his
friend, the Secretary, stating that fees, first-fruits, and
other charges cost him ,^1,500 or ^2,000 before he
could receive a penny from the bishopric. " I was never
in debt," he says, " yet borrow I must, and, to enable
me to repay honestly, I mean to stay here (as others I
see do in the like case) till a little after Lady-day next.

' Doin. Charles II. April, 1675.


My College and Margaret Lecture I can (without any dis-
pensation) keep, and perform the duties of both till then."^

Amidst the turnings of the preferment-wheel at that
time, Dr. Hall, referred to in Vice-Chancellor Fell's
letter, was elected to the Margaret professorship, vacated
at length by Barlow's resignation.

In July of the same year, 1675, another letter reached
Whitehall, upon a similar subject. "It is thought here,"
wrote Dr. John Wallis, the celebrated Mathematician
at Oxford, " that the Bishop of Worcester is either dead,
or at least not likely to subsist long, which will give
occasion of alterations. If that or any other occasion
give you opportunity of doing a kindness to your ser-
vant, or my son, I believe His Majesty would be very
ready to grant, if we knew what to ask. I have
signified to Dr. Conant by his son your good thoughts
of him." We must now terminate these illustrations.

IV. By an easy transition we pass from ecclesiastical
revenues to ecclesiastical courts. Both the Archidiaconal
and the Consistorial resumed their activity after the
Restoration, and before them were brought numerous
charges of delinquency, respecting clergymen and lay-
men. It would be beyond my purpose to enter into the
penetralia of these intricate proceedings ; it will be
sufficient to notice the nature of some of the accusations
on which individuals were arraigned, as illustrative of the
social life of the period. Yet before doing so I must

» State Papers, Dom. Charles II. person to be preferred, Dr. Barlow

Wood says [Ath. Ox. iv. 334), " On was introduced into the presence of

the 22nd of Ajml, 1675, being the His Majesty, and had the grant of

very day that Dr. Fuller, Bishop of that see, and forthwith kissed His

Lincoln, died, after several dis- Majesty's hand for the same."

cussions that passed between His Coventry and Williamson were his

Majesty, and certain persons of friends,
honour then present, concerning the


notice two circumstances, which require more attention than
they have received from historians. The first is this : —

By the Act of the 13th Charles II. cap. 12, which
restored the jurisdiction of the ordinary Ecclesiastical
Courts, but abolished that of the extraordinary High
Commission Court, it was expressly provided that there
should no longer be any administration of the ex-officio
oath, by which persons were compelled to accuse, or to
purge themselves of any criminal matter. But as it
has been recently remarked, whilst the letter of this
enactment seems to have been so far observed, that an
accused clergyman or other person, liable to deprivation,
could not be obliged to answer on oath as to the truth of
the charge, — the spirit of the enactment, in certain other
cases, was violated to a great extent. For, in the
administration of articles to a defendant in a cause
of correction, the practice was to charge the commission
of the offence on the ground of public " fame," without
specific evidence, and to require the defendant to answer
on oath, who, if he failed to do so, was treated as having
admitted the truth of the allegation. Thus, instead of
the burden of proving guilt being thrown on the accuser,
the burden of establishing innocence seems to have
rested on the accused, and he became liable to be called
upon to make " canonical purgation ; " i.e., " to declare
on oath that he was not guilty of the offence, and to pro-
duce a certain number of witnesses, as ' compurgators,'
to swear that they believed his declaration to be true."^
This circumstance shows, in what a limited degree the
Act of Charles II., restoriug the ecclesiastical courts,
diminished even oppressive tendencies ; how, whilst it

^ Parliamentary Return on Ec- p. xxviii. — Oughton's Ordo Judicio-
clesiastical Appeals, ordered by tlie rum, vol. i. 219, et seq.
House of Commons Aoril %. 1868,


altered them in form, it left scope for the exercise of
their former spirit, and how they remained instruments
of injustice and cruelty, to be used by those who were
malignantly or resentfully disposed. At the same time
we should carefully weigh the number and the nature
of the appeals made from the judgment of the lower
to the decision of the higher authority. To this I will
presently direct attention.

The second circumstance is that the High Court of
Delegates was restored upon the return of Charles II.
This court, which had from ancient times received secular
appeals, acquired, in the reign of Henry VIII., the power
of deciding ecclesiastical appeals from all ordinary eccle-
siastical tribunals in England and Wales. ^ It appears
that the only court not within its appellate jurisdiction
was the Court of High Commission. Cases of doctrine,
and cases of discipline, unsatisfactorily litigated in the
lower courts, came up before this tribunal of delegates
for final review and decision. The constitution of the
court was remarkable. Although exercising a supreme
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, the lay element preponderated.
Of the fifty-one Commissions between 1660 and 1688,
two were composed of Bishops and Civilians ; eighteen
included Bishops, Judges, and Civilians ; one contained
Peers, Bishops, Judges, and Civilians ; eleven of the Com-
missions were directed to Civilians only, and nineteen to
Judges and Civilians.^ It may be added that soon after the
Restoration the use of Latin was resumed in their proceed-
ings. The fact, with regard to the strong infusion of laical
power into the constitution of this important court, not
only throws an instructive light upon the relations of

' Act of 25tli Henry VIII., c. 19, 1533. — Pad. Return, p. iii.
* Pari. Return, p. xxx.


Church and State, but it proves that for none of the
acts of this court, at that time under consideration,
whether righteous or unrighteous, are the clergy to be
held entirely responsible ; with some of them they had
nothing w^hatever to do.

It is to the Parliamentary Keturns of the appeals
made to the delegates, that we are indebted for the know-
ledge of the following ecclesiastical causes : —

A clerg3anan, named Slader, Rector of Birmingham,
had been brought before the Court of Arches on an
appeal from the Consistory of Lichfield, and finally his
case came before the Court of Delegates, by which court
he was decreed to be sequestered ab officio suo dericali.
He stood charged with having forged letters of orders,
with disaffection to the King, with preaching amongst
the Quakers, railing in the pulpit at the parishioners, and
indulging in swearing, gaming, perjury, and incest. Some
of these charges were very scandalous, but to them were
added others of a most curious and extraordinary descrip-
tion, — for this man was accused of practising jugglery, of
pretending, on one occasion, to cut off his son's head, and
to set it on again, and of " taking money for the sight
thereof." One Dr. Meades was deprived, on an appeal
from the Arches, and from the Consistory of Winchester,
for non-residence, neglect of duty, allowing the vicarage
to fall into decay, and for not having read the Thirty-
"i^ine Articles within the time prescribed by law, after his
iistitution and induction. William Woodward, Rector of
T:otterscliffe, Kent, was charged with " having uttered
vaiious profane and blasphemous speeches, e.g., that the
Loid's Prayer was not commanded to be used ; that the
Chi.rch of England might as well be called the Church
of Home ; that he had attained such perfection that he
could not sin ; and that one William Francklin, a rope-


maker, who had lived with him, was the Christ and
Saviom-." Sentence of deprivation was ultimately pro-
nounced in this case.^ Theophilus Hart, in the diocese
of Peterborough, was corrected, punished, and condemned
in costs, for not conforming in the exercise of his clerical
office : he did not baptize infants with the sign of the
cross, he did not catechise the young, and he omitted
many parts of the services prescribed by the Book of
Common Prayer. Woodward and Hart seem to be the
only clergymen during this period who appealed to the
delegates in proceedings carried on against false doc-
trine. One Clewer, Vicar of Croydon, figures in local
history as a very disgraceful person ; he was tried and
burnt in the hand at the Old Bailey for stealing a silver
cup. His case came before the Court of Appeal, and the
deprivation previously pronounced by the Court of Arches
received confirmation.^

The laity, as well as the clergy, being subject to the
ecclesiastical tribunals, causes relating to the former,
after being tried elsewhere, w-ere finally adjudicated by
the delegates. One man was proceeded against for having
three children unbaptized, and for not receiving the
Lord's Supper ; a second, for absence from public wor-
ship ; a third, for not keeping in repair the chancel of
the parish church ; and a fourth, for contempt of the
law, and ecclesiastical jurisdiction, in teacliing boys with-
out having obtained any faculty or license.^ Ancient

^ There were two Commissions on Parliamentary Return ; they are

this case: the first contained four numbered :— 53, William Dun<ke ;

Bishops and ten laymen— the 74, Edward Hkst (there are toree

second, five Bishops and ten laymen. other cases for not resortirg to

■' There are papers relating to parish church, 53, 70, and 76 ; 78,

him in the Record Office.— Z)ow. Catherine Gounter; 82, Jonathan

C'AarZes//., 1673, October. Butter. Duncke and Rut:er were

The cases are given in the excommunicated.


forms of Church clisciplme sometimes followed con-
viction. A party, charged in the Consistory Court of
Norwich with defamation, was sentenced to do penance
in the parish church of Darsham, by repeating, after the
minister, words of confession and contrition.^

As to the number of appeals there may be reckoned
up forty-five during a little more than a century, between
the year 1533 — the date of the commencement of the
ecclesiastical power of the court — and the year 1641, the
period of its temporary suppression. There were forty-
six between the date of its re-establishment, in 1660, and
the year of the Revolution, 1688. This would look as
if more dissatisfaction was felt with the judgment of the
lower ecclesiastical authority during this twenty- eight
years after the Restoration, than during the hundred
and eight years before the outbreak of the Parliament
struggle with Charles I. Hence it might be inferred that
the grievances of ecclesiastical rule increased in the reign
of Charles II. ; but this would not be a fair deduction,
because the High Commission Court, which had been by
far the most oppressive tribunal for spiritual causes, and
which had been exempted from the supervision of the
Court of Delegates, remained no longer in existence ; and
thereby a large amount of injustice was prevented. Forty-
five appeals in twenty- eight years from all the ecclesias-
tical courts of England and Wales do not form a large
number, and would seem to show that trials in ecclesias-
tical cases must have been much less numerous than
when the High Commission existed in full play. Very
few cases of appeal touching Dissenters appear in the
records of the Court of Delegates. Dissenters, of course,
were subject to trouble and annoyance from Archidiaconal

' Return, p. viii.


and Consistorial authorities, but the main sorrows of
Nonconformity, under the last two Stuarts' reign, arose
from the operation of Statute Law, as found in the Uni-
formity, Conventicle, and Five Mile Acts.

Amongst instances of discipline exercised by Bishops
upon the clergy, there occurred one so striking and
curious that it deserves particular mention. Dr. Lloyd,
who held the see of Peterborough from 1679 ^^ 1685,
and was thence transferred to Norwich, seems to have
been extraordinarily strict in the discharge of his episcopal
functions, and to have visited offending ministers with
public punishment. In accordance with his habitual zeal
for purity in the faith and morals of the Church, he
required the follomng recantation to be read in his
cathedral by the person whose name is mentioned, and
whose case is thus described : — " I, Thomas Ashenden,
being deeply sensible of the foul dishonour I have done
to our most holy religion, and the great scandal I have
given by a late profane abuse of the Lord's Prayer, the
Creed, and the Ten Commandments, which I wrote and
caused to be published, do here, in the presence of God,
and of His ministers, and of this congregation, most
heartily bewail, with unfeigned sorrow, both that notori-
ous offence, and also all my other sins, which betrayed
me into it, most humbly begging forgiveness of G-od, and
of his Church, whose heaviest censures I have justly
deserved. And as I earnestly desire that none of my
brethren (much less our holy function or the Church)
may be the worse thought of by any, by reason of my
miscarriages, so I do faithfully promise, by God's grace,
to endeavour to behave myself hereafter so religiously in
my place and calling, that I may be no more a discredit
to them. In which resolution that I may persist, I beg
and implore the assistance of all your prayers, and desire


withal, that this my retractation and sincere profession of
repentance, may be made as pubhc as my crimes have
been, that none may be tempted hereafter to do evil by
my example,"^

V. There existed, in different parts of the country, build-
ings entirely set apart for Nonconformist worship. Some
of them were barns and warehouses adapted to the pur-
pose, and in Norwich the refectory and dormitory of
the old Blackfriars' Convent, which, after the Restoration,
had been turned into granaries for the City corn, were
fitted up by permission of the Court of Mayoralty, for the
use of the Presbyterian and Independent Congregation-
alists : also the old Leather Hall, in Coventry, a gloomy
but spacious room, fitted up with galleries, was used for
Nonconformist religious service.^ A large meeting-house
was erected in Zoar Street, Southwark, not far from the
spot occupied by the summer theatre of Shakespeare, and
within that building John Bunyan attracted immense con-
gregations. " If there were but one day's notice given,"
his friend, Charles Doe, remarks, " there would be more
people come together to hear him preach than the meet-
ing-house could hold. I have seen, to hear him preach,
by my computation, about 1,200 at a morning lecture, by
seven o'clock, on a working- day, in the dark winter time.
I also computed about 3,000 that came to hear him one
Lord's-day, at London, at a town's-end meeting-house [in
Zoar Street], so that half were fain to go back again for
want of room, and then himself was fain at a back-door
to be pulled almost over people to get up-stairs to his

' Salmon's Lives of the Bishops, Christian Directory is pi-eserved in

310. Dr. Williams' Library, and is said

^ I am not sure of the date in. the to have been chained to some part
17th century when the Hall was so of the porch of the great meeting-
used. A fine copy of Baxter s house in the City of Coventry.


pulpit."^, Mill Hill Chapel, at Leeds, was built during
the period of Indulgence, being the first edifice erected by
Dissenters "more ecclesiastico with arches." ^ A meeting-
house at Yarmouth is described as measuring fifty-eight
feet one way, and sixty feet another, with a gallery quite
round close to the pulpit, with six seats in it, one behind
the other, and all accommodation possible for the recep-
tion of people below. ^ The " fanatic party " at Margate
is referred to as building a "conventicle house" when
it was illegal to do so, and as making great haste to get
it up in spite of His Majesty's proclamation.*

In some cases, so favourably inclined were the parish
authorities, that they allowed Nonconformists to meet in
the Church. At Southwold, every fourth Sunday, the
incumbent and the Dissenting ministers both conducted
Divine service under the same roof. The first who came
took precedence, and after he had pronounced the Bene-
diction, his neighbour began another service in his own

The liberty of using a parish church was also enjoyed
by the Nonconformists of Waltham-le-Willows, a small
village in Suffolk, and in connection with this arrange-
ment there occurred a ludicrous circumstance. On one
occasion when Mr. Salkeld, the Congregational minister,
occupied the pulpit, Sir Edmund Bacon, of Redgrave, and
Sir William Spring, of Packenham, being greatly scan-
dalized at what they deemed a profanation of the edifice,
came, with other country gentlemen, and planted them-
selves at the church-doors. Sir Edmund wished to
compel the minister immediately to desist, but Sir Wil-

OJfors Life of Bunyan, Works, iii. Ixix.


State Papers, Bom. Charles //., 1674, Nov. 4.

State Papers, Bom. Charles II., 1674, Feb. 12.


liam thongbt it more seemly to wait until the minister
had finished his discourse. A noisy altercation conse-
quently arose in the church-yard between the two gentle-
men, when, upon the former becoming outrageously
violent, his friend observed, "^We read, Sir Edmund,
that the devil entered into a herd of swine, and, upon my
word, I think he is not got out of the Bacon yet."^

VI. Perhaps this is as convenient a place as any to
inquire into the relative number of Conformists and Non-
conformists, towards the end of the period, embraced in
this History.

The population of England towards the close of
the seventeenth century, has been computed by Lord
Macaulay at rather more than five millions.^ He bases
his estimate upon calculations made by King, Lancaster
Herald, in 1696; upon returns consulted by William HI.,
and upon conclusions drawn in the preface to the popula-
tion returns of 183 1. I find the estimate of about five
millions confirmed by the author of The Happij Future
State of Eiigland, ■j^uhlished in 1688, who states an ap-
proximate number as the result of returns reported in a
survey made by the Bishops in 1676.^ Of these five
millions and a-half, or so, the Conformists formed an im-
mense majority. In the returns which came under
William's eye, and in the report of the Bishops' survey, —
which seems to have been all but identical with them, — •
the Conformists, above sixteen years of age, in the pro-
vince of Canterb my are put down at 2,123,362. York
yields 353,892, making a total of 2,477,254. Against

' I find these anecdotes in a MS. ' The author, however, considers

History of the Suffolk Churches, hy that the Bishops' survey came far

the Rev. T. Harmer, author of below the mark, — he mentions a con-

Observations on Scrij^ture. jectural estimate of eight milUohs. —

* History of England, i. 294. Haj^py Future, d-c, 116.


these are reckoned the following number of Noncon-
formists above sixteen years of age : — 93,151 in the pro-
vince of Canterbury, and 15,525 in the province of York —
forming a gross amount of 108,676. The Conformists
to the Nonconformists here are as 22* to i . The author I
have just mentioned represents the Nonconformists as on
the decline ; and no doubt they were, during the reigns of
Charles II. and James II., much fewer than they had
been under the Commonwealth ; but there is reason to
believe, from their subsequent history, they were on the
increase before the period of the Revolution. The same
writer speaks of them, in the gross, as consisting of
artizans and retail traders in corporations,^ and probably
the bulk of them would be found amongst the humbler
classes ; but it is to be remembered that some county
families, including noble ones, to say nothing of old army
officers, and rich citizen merchants, continued still within
the ranks of Dissent. It is interesting and instructive to
ponder the following particulars appended to the returns
brought under the notice of William III., and certainly not
prepared in any friendly spirit. Many persons left the
Church upon the late Indulgence, who before did fre-
quent it. The inquires made (I presume those of 1676
are referred to) caused many to frequent church. Wal-
loons chiefly made up the number of Dissenters in Canter-
bury, Sandwich, and Dover. Presbyterians were divided;
some of them not being wholly Dissenters, but occasion-
ally going to church. A considerable number of Non-
conformists belonged to no particular sect. Of those
who attended church many did not receive the sacra-
ment. There were in Kent about thirty heretics, called
Muggletonians ; the rest were Presbyterians, Anabaptists,

' Haiipy Future, dr., 281.

Chap. XI.] PREACHING. 209

Independents, and Quakers, in about equal numbers. The
heads and preachers of the several factions had taken a
large share in the G-reat Kebellion.^

I may add that the Papists altogether are reckoned
in the same document at 13,856. It was thought that
they had increased in consequence of the Indulgence, and
that the Jesuits had been very active up to the time of
the plot, when they amounted to 1,800. After the ex-
citement created by Gates' business they are said to
have considerably diminished.^

VII. The contrasts between Churchmen and Noncon-
formists already described, suggest another of a corre-
sponding kind. Divine service in the Establishment,
especially as conducted in cathedrals, in Royal chapels,
and in large churches, would present an imposing ap-
pearance, such as never could belong to worship con-
ducted in a conventicle. And a social prestige pertained
to the Episcopalian priest, now forfeited by the Noncon-
formist preacher. Baxter, Owen, and Howe could not but
feel the change which had come over their external cir-
cumstances since the day when, from high places — West-
minster Abbey and St. Paul's, for example — they had ad-
dressed ex cathedra iliQ elite of Puritan intelhgence and rank.

The form of sermons, whether composed by Anglicans
or Puritans, continued after the Restoration to be that
which we may call textual, rather than topical, and San-
derson, who survived that crisis, broke up what he had to

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonEcclesiastical history of England : from the opening of the long parliament to the death of Oliver Cromwell (Volume 4) → online text (page 16 of 46)