A History of the Nonjurors/Chapter 3

A History of the Nonjurors - ornament 4.png



A. D. 1690—1694.

The Deprivations.—Numbers.—Sancroft's Retirement.—Hickes's Protest.—Dodwell's Letter to Tillotson.—Beveridge and others refuse to accept the Vacant Sees.—Kidder's Scruples.—Stillingfleet's Letter.—Forgery by Young and Blackhead.—The Deprived Bishops separate from the Church.—Sancroft Delegates his Powers to Lloyd.—Hickes and Wagstaffe consecrated.—Death of Sancroft.—His Character and Sufferings.—The Nonjurors' Defence of their Proceedings.—Some object to a Separation.—The Difficulties of their Case.—Severity of the Government.

The Bishops and Clergy remained in possession of their respective preferments, until the day fixed by the act of Parliament for their deprivation; but from the first of August 1690 to the first of February 1690-91, they were suspended from the performance of their ecclesiastical functions. This was a lay, not a canonical deprivation; consequently no process was adopted against the Bishops and Clergy, as is the case, when parties are charged with any ecclesiastical irregularity. By the Act of Parliament, it was declared, that all Clergymen, who did not take the Oath of Allegiance before the first day of February 1690-91, should be deprived of their benefices. When, therefore, the day arrived, the patrons were at liberty to present other individuals: and the government considered themselves in a situation to appoint to the sees of the deprived prelates.

That the approach of the day was contemplated with much anxiety, by all parties, is evident. Some of those, who had hitherto scrupled to take the Oath, complied at the last moment, and thus avoided deprivation: but the majority had counted the cost, and remained firm in their adherence to the principle, on which they had acted ever since the new Oath had been proposed. On the first day of February, therefore, Sancroft, Turner, Frampton, White, and Ken, were deprived by Act of Parliament of their sees. They were restrained from the exercise of their office in their dioceses, as well as deprived of the incomes of their respective bishoprics: but their spiritual character could not be touched by an Act of Parliament. After the first of February 1690-91 they were bishops of the Catholic Church, though they were precluded from the public exercise of their sacred functions, by authority of the civil power. The example of the Bishops was followed by about four hundred of the Clergy, most, if not all of whom, would have lived quietly and peaceably, discharging the duties of their office with diligence, if the government could have dispensed with the Oath of Allegiance. This was a considerable number; and when we consider, that all of them were so conscientious, as to prefer principle to expediency or interest, we cannot but regret, that some means were not adopted to prevent such a sad separation. The names of many of these peaceable sufferers are preserved in the Life of Kettlewell. Some, however, were omitted, and it is not now possible to recover them. In this list are the names of some of the chief men in the kingdom, both with respect to learning and influence. Not unfrequently the Nonjurors are spoken of contemptuously, as men of narrow minds and perverted principles: but no one, who fully examines the subject, will indulge in such a tone of remark respecting men, who suffered so much from adherence to their principles.[1]

Most of the Clergy quietly quitted their livings on the first of February: but some of the Bishops and Dignitaries felt themselves bound to offer such resistance as they were able. Sancroft, therefore, did not immediately remove from his palace. He was permitted to remain for a season; but only in the hope, that he would retire quietly, in obedience to the Act. During his continuance at Lambeth, his Chaplains, Wharton and Needham, were in constant attendance, even after they had taken the Oath to William and Mary. The Archbishop was also anxious to prevent a schism in the Church, which he perceived to be inevitable, if the Oath were enforced. The fact, that the Bishops were willing to remain in their sees, may be regarded as an evidence of their desire to comply with the existing government, as far as they could do so, without offering violence to their conscience: and had some relaxation in the matter of the Oath been permitted, the happiest consequences would have ensued.

It was intended, that Tillotson should succeed the Archbishop; yet his nomination did not take place until the 23rd of April 1691. He was confirmed in the see on the 1st of May. It is clear from this delay, that the government were reluctant to interfere: yet it is equally certain, that their reluctance arose only from the apprehension, that the public feeling would be against the measure. It was also hoped, that Sancroft would retire, and thus make way for Tillotson: but as the Archbishop did not recognize the authority by which he had been deprived, he refused to quit the palace. A process of ejectment, therefore, was commenced. Judgment was given on the 23rd of June: and on the same day, as force would otherwise have been applied, the good Archbishop quitted the palace. He proceeded by water to the Temple, where he remained six weeks: after which he retired to Fresingfield, his native place, which he never quitted.[2]

Hickes drew up a Protest against his ejectment and affixed it to the Cathedral Church of Worcester, of which he was dean. It was addressed to the Sub-Dean and Prebendaries. Mr. Talbot had been appointed by the government: and against this appointment Hickes protested as illegal. He, therefore, after asserting his own claims, called upon the Sub-Dean to support him in the maintenance of his rights. The Instrument, which is preserved in the Life of Kettlewell, was dated the 2nd of May 1691.[3]

Before Tillotson's consecration, Dodwell endeavoured to dissuade him from accepting the Archbishopric. For this purpose, he addressed him in a letter, in which he beseeches him not to be the aggressor in the new schism, "in erecting another altar against the hitherto acknowledged altar of your deprived Fathers and brethren. If their places be not vacant, the new consecrations must, by the nature of the spiritual monarchy, be null, and invalid, and schismatical."[4] It appears, that some reluctance to succeed Sancroft was manifested by Tillotson, which Dodwell endeavoured to strengthen. It is, however, probable, that his Erastian notions of ecclesiastical matters led him to think, that he was serving the Church by accepting the dignity, and that Sancroft was justly deprived for refusing the Oath.

Beveridge was nominated to the see of Bath and Wells: but this eminent man, though he had taken the Oath to the new government, positively refused to become the successor of Ken, during that Prelate's life.[5] At last, Kidder was commanded by the Queen to accept it: yet he complied with considerable reluctance. Mr. Bowles gives, from a MS. preserved in the palace at Wells, a very curious account of Kidder's acceptance of the see. This account was drawn up by Kidder himself. He states, that in the spring the bishopric of Peterborough was proposed to him for his acceptance, and that he had absolutely refused it. In his account of the manner, in which he had given his refusal, he says, "I added also, that I cared not to accept any other bishopric. And this I did, that I might avoid any further solicitation that way." In this document he alludes to Beveridge's refusal, stating that the see remained vacant for some time after. He then wrote to Dr. Williams, that he would not refuse another bishopric, though he must decline Bath and Wells. Williams communicated to Tillotson, that Kidder would accept a bishopric; but he concealed the exception respecting Ken's Diocese. He says, "Though I cannot say I thought it unlawful, yet I did not think it convenient for me to do it. I knew very well that I should be able to do less good, if I came into a bishopric void by deprivation." Soon after, the Queen sent her commands: and Kidder replied that he would accept the see, unless her Majesty would excuse him, or select some other person. He adds, "And this perhaps I did, not as wisely as I should. I cannot say I did it against my conscience; but of this I am sure, that, since I have considered things better, I should not have done it, were it to do again. I did not consult my ease. I have often repented of my accepting it, and looked on it as a great infelicity."[6] Such were Kidder's views, after he was in possession of the see. Burnet and many others would have entertained no such scruples.

Great disappointment was experienced by persons in authority, on Beveridge's refusal to succeed Ken. Stillingfleet, therefore, published a Letter on the subject, containing some severe animadversions.[7] A few extracts will shew the state of feeling at the time among both parties in the Church those who were reluctant to succeed to the vacant sees, and those who, like Stillingfleet and others, had no scruples on the subject. He is somewhat severe on Beveridge, who acted from the purest motives. In short, he shews himself too much of a partizan. In meeting the supposed case of another revolution, and the consequent dispossession of the new Bishops, he actually calls the restoration a revolution. "The experience of the Revolution in 1660 hath taught them how dangerous it may be in case such a revolution should happen, to change their old preferments for new ones, which may be challenged again by their old proprietors. But in our case there is the least to be said for this caution, that can possibly be in any revolution; for it is as vain a thing to hope to secure ourselves in such a revolution by prudence and caution, as it is for a man to fortify his house against the breaking in of the sea. If there ever be such a revolution as can unsettle what this hath done, God be merciful to this miserable nation." It is strange, that Stillingfleet should use such language, as if the commonwealth could in any way be compared to the lawful government which existed previous to 1688. "Whatever," he proceeds, "may be pretended, the world will not believe that Doctor B refused a Bishopric, but either out of fear or conscience: the first calls in question the stability or continuance of the present government: the second the authority of it. Now this confirms the enemies of the government in their opinion of the unlawfulness to submit to it, and encourages them to attempt its overthrow." Beveridge had been in a commission for administering the affairs of the Archbishopric, after the Archbishop's deprivation: and the charge of inconsistency is accordingly adduced. "He submitted to the government and took the Oath of Allegiance as early as any man: and never had the least scruple: and yet this was the time to have been scrupulous, if he would have been so: for it seems a little of the latest, when he is become a sworn subject to King William and Queen Mary, to question their authority to make a Bishop. And if the former Bishops were deprived, and new Bishops made, by such an authority as he can swear allegiance to, I cannot understand that it can be unlawful to accept a bishopric from the hands of those whom he owns. Besides this Dr. B was one of those who, by commission from the Dean and Chapter, hath exercised archiepiscopal authority during the vacancy of the see by the deprivation of the A. B." It is assumed that Beveridge deemed it unlawful to accept Bath and Wells, which was not the case. However Stillingfleet urges the point: "If it be unlawful to succeed a deprived Bishop, then he is the Bishop of the Diocese still: and then the law that deprives him is no law, and consequently the King and Parliament that made that law, no King nor Parliament: and how can this be reconciled with the Oath of Allegiance, unless the Dr. can swear allegiance to him who is no King, and hath no authority to govern." He argues that on such a supposition the Church of England was schismatical, and Beveridge himself a schismatic. The tone of the Letter proves that Beveridge's refusal was a keen disappointment to the government. Stillingfleet, as one of the ablest controversialists of the period, was employed to counteract the evils, which were apprehended from the refusal of such a man as Beveridge.

Beveridge was not the only clergyman, who refused to succeed to a see vacant by deprivation. Sharp, who had acted a conspicuous part previous to the Revolution, and who afterwards became Archbishop of York, entertained the same scruples. He was mentioned by the King as a proper person to succeed to one of the vacancies. Norwich was pressed upon him; but he refused to accept of any; not from scruples of conscience respecting the Oath, but from affection to the deprived Bishops.[8]

Some time after the deprivation of the Bishops, persons, Blackhead and Young, in order to implicate Archbishop Sancroft, Sprat, Bishop of Rochester, and others, in a correspondence with some persons in France. A document was dropped, by one of the parties, in the palace at Bromley: and when the information was laid against the Bishop of Rochester, this Paper was discovered in the spot where it had been placed by one of the conspirators, who had applied to his Lordship with a forged letter, pretended to have been written by a clergyman. To the Paper were appended the names of the Archbishop, the Bishop, and others: and the imitations were so good that it was difficult to distinguish between them and the genuine autographs of the individuals. In this document, the French were invited to invade the country: and it is evident, that it was the intention of the framers to implicate the nonjuring Bishops. However, the whole was soon unravelled by the examination and confession of one of the criminals. The Bishop of Rochester published a full account of the whole matter.[9]

The Bishops and Clergy being deprived, the question necessarily arose, what was to be done? Were they to continue in communion with the Church of England as private persons: or were they to exercise their office, as they might be able, and separate altogether from the Church? They were by no means agreed on these very important points. "As the swearers so also the non-swearers were divided among themselves in their opinions. Of them who dissented from the public on the political point, there were some who were not for puzzling themselves with the religious point." It is further said " there were no inconsiderable numbers, which were against making any separation at all in the Church, upon that account. These went to the public assemblies, but at the same time declared, that to communicate in some of the Prayers, they thought contrary to truth and justice. And when others taxed them for this, they answered, that they neither did, nor ought to be supposed to join in those Prayers."[10] Some expressed their disapprobation publicly in the Churches, at the Prayers for the new Sovereigns. Others thought such a practice unlawful; but even Tillotson concurred with the Nonjurors in thinking that they could not join in the Prayers.[11] It was urged against them, that they could not join in the Prayer of St. Chrysostom in giving thanks to God, that "with one accord" they had made "their common supplications to him." Others attended the Parish Churches on the ground of necessity, urging that they must otherwise be cut off from public worship: while some remained at the public assemblies, because the Clergy, under whose superintendence they had been placed, continued in their posts. On these several grounds many persons, especially among the laity, continued to worship in the parish churches, though they did not approve of the changes that had been made. The same feelings continued to influence considerable numbers during this and the succeeding reign.[12]

But the more strenuous Nonjurors were opposed to any such compromise. They argued for a separation from the Church established. It has been said, that Sancroft was at first against a separation, and that his reluctance to encourage it continued for some time. This feeling, however, if it ever existed, appears to have been relinquished after his retirement to Fresingfield: for he was accustomed to speak of the Nonjurors as the true Church of England, and of the National Establishment as an apostate and rebellious Church.[13] Thus in February 1691-2, Sancroft delegated the exercise of his archiepiscopal powers, by a formal instrument, to Lloyd, the deprived Bishop of Norwich:—a step which shews that he did not labour to prevent the schism, though perhaps he came reluctantly into the scheme. The following is an extract from this document.

"William, by Divine Providence, an humble minister of the Metropolitan Church of Canterbury, to the Right Reverend Father in Christ, and most dearly beloved brother in our Lord, William, by the same providence, still Bishop of Norwich, Greeting: Health and brotherly love in the Lord. Whereas, I very lately by a lay force being driven out of the house of Lambeth, and not able to find in the neighbouring city any place where I could safely or conveniently abide, have therefore retired afar off, seeking where in my old age I could rest my weary head: and whereas there were even then remaining many affairs, and there do also daily arise many more, and those too of the greatest moment, as being the affairs of God and the Church, the which can no where so commodiously and expeditiously be transacted as in that grand theatre of business: to you my well-beloved brother, who, out of that fortitude of mind, wherewith you excell, and that pious zeal for the house of God wherewith you are fired, do yet continue, and remain fixed in the suburbs of London, while the rest of us are every where wandering about: (so that I have not any one there who is so much one soul with me, or who hath such a natural concern as yourself for the Churches affairs and mine): yea to you, I say, do I commit in the Lord, as confiding in you, and in your wonted dexterity for business, all whatever belongeth to my place, and to the pontifical (or archiepiscopal) office, for the treating, consulting, and finally dispatching all those matters which thereunto do appertain: and by virtue of these presents, I do choose, make, and constitute you my Vicar for all that which is aforesaid, my agent of all things, and matters to me relating, Factor and Proxy-General, or Nuncio."

Afterwards he adds, "Whomsoever you, my brother, as occasion may require, shall think fit to assume and adjoin to yourself, whomsoever you shall elect and approve, confirm and constitute, I also as much as in me, and as I rightfully can, do in like manner assume and adjoin, elect and approve, confirm and constitute. In a word, whatsoever you shall of yourself do, or order to be done, in affairs of this kind, all that how great soever, or of what sort soever it be, boldly impute it to me: Lo I, William, have written it with mine own hand, and will stand by it."[14]

The instrument was dated from his own poor hired house within the district of the said (deprived) Bishop of Norwich. It was signed before a Notary Public the 9th of February, 1691-2, seven months after his removal from Lambeth. Still their affairs were by no means in a settled state. "So far was the provision from settling the affairs of their little communion, that there were new difficulties which successively started up hereupon, not easily to be stated and resolved, or at least without extreme danger; and though a separate communion was hereby kept up as a witnessing Church, according to the late Bishop of Worcester's hypothesis, who magnified the Providence of God in this case, though he himself held to the opposite side; yet was not this so compacted as, from the principles upon which they proceeded, might reasonably enough have been expected."[15]

Some time after the delegation of Sancroft's powers to Lloyd, another step was taken for perpetuating the schism. As long as they abstained from consecrating Bishops and ordaining Priests, the deprived Prelates could scarcely be regarded as setting up a separate communion. Measures, however, were soon taken for continuing the succession of Bishops. King James was applied to, who ordered a list of the Nonjuring Clergy to be sent to him in France. Accordingly Hickes went over to the Continent with a list of those, who were known to have declined to take the Oath. The list was not perfect, since many, who refused the Oath, did not wish to have their names mentioned. Lists were made by private persons; but, lest they should fall into the hands of the government, they were preserved with great care and secrecy. Hickes procured as perfect a catalogue of names as possible; and from the number the King appointed two, one to be nominated by the Archbishop, the other by the Bishop of Norwich. The former nominated Hickes, the latter, Wagstaffe. Hickes and Wagstaffe were accordingly consecrated, the former by the title of Suffragan of Thetford, the latter as Suffragan of Ipswich. The Archbishop dying before the consecration, the solemnity was performed by Lloyd and the deprived Bishops of Peterborough and Ely on the 24th of February 1693. The consecration took place in the lodging of the Bishop of Peterborough, in Mr. Gillard's house. Henry Earl of Clarendon was present at the ceremony.[16]

An account of this matter was drawn up and left in MS. by Hickes; and it is thus alluded to by Lindsay, a Nonjuror of eminence in the last century. "I have seen an account of this affair in MS. drawn up (I suppose) by Dr. Hickes himself; out of which I shall oblige my reader with the following particulars: viz. that after the deprivation of the Archbishop and his brethren, they immediately began to think of continuing their succession by new consecrations, and often discoursed of it, without taking any particular resolutions, till after the consecration of the intruders (as they called them) into their sees, that then the deprived Archbishop and Bishops resolved to continue the same, and to write to the late King James about it: that in their discourses on this matter, the deprived Bishop of Ely acquainted the Archbishop and his brethren with the letters in St. John's College Library in Cambridge, which had passed upon the like occasion between Chancellor Hyde and Dr. Barwick; that thereupon they had recourse to those letters, and resolved to impart the secret to the then Earl of Clarendon, who had been his father's secretary in that correspondence; that from those letters, and the additional light which they received from that noble Lord, it appeared that, in that case, in regard of the difficulties of making elections, it was resolved to consecrate the new Bishops with Suffragan titles, according to the statute of King Henry VIII. That therefore the deprived Archbishop and Bishops resolved upon the same method in this case also, and to write to the late King James for his consent to it in the way directed by that statute; though (it seems) they judged it a matter of so great importance as to resolve to do it even without his consent rather than not at all: that upon their application, the late King James returned his answer, that he would readily concur with it, and required them to send some person over to him, with whom he might further confer about the matter, and along with him a list of the deprived Clergy: that Dr. George Hickes being made choice of for that purpose, set forward from London May 19th, 1693, and, after many difficulties, arrived at St. Germains in about six weeks time: that there the late King James acquainted him that, for the further satisfaction of his own conscience, he had consulted the Archbishop of Paris, and the Bishop of Meaux, and the Pope himself, who severally determined that the Church of England being established by the laws of the kingdom, he (though a Papist) was under no obligation of conscience to act against it, but obliged to maintain and defend it, as long as those laws are in force: that the late King James put their said determinations into the Doctor's hands: which he read and found to be to the effect aforesaid; that the said late King James also assured him, that he had on all occasions justified the Church of England since the Revolution. That the Doctor returned to London 4th of February, 1693, and was consecrated on the 24th."[17] Such is Lindsay's account of this remarkable circumstance.

The Archbishop died before these consecrations took place. On his retirement to Fresingfield he permitted Nonjurors only to perform divine service in his presence: and of course he did not attend the Parish Church.[18] He died the 24th of November, 1693.[19] When he perceived his end approaching, he expressed his satisfaction at the course which he had adopted, adding, that he should pursue the same were he called again to make his decision. On the 27th of November his body was deposited in the churchyard of Fresingfield, in a spot which had been selected by himself.

In his last moments, he prayed for King James, being unable to renounce his allegiance. "I pray God Almighty for the poor and suffering Church, which is almost destroyed by this new Revolution, and I beseech God to bless the King, Queen, and Prince, and in his due time to restore them to their just and undoubted rights."[20] "His virtue," says Nelson, "was uniform: for when he was in his greatest elevation he declined the commands of his lawful and rightful Prince, rather than obey him, to the prejudice of the true religion and the established laws: yet he would not resist his Sovereign to save both, because he apprehended the laws of the land, as well as the precepts of the Gospel expressly forbid it: and chose rather the expulsion from all his honours and ecclesiastical revenues, than violate his conscience or stain the purity of those principles, which he had always maintained and defended."[21]

Though he had since his retirement communicated only with Nonjurors, who did not frequent the Parish Church, yet he was resorted to by many who had taken the Oath. Some, who visited him, asked his blessing, which was always bestowed without any hesitation. He remarked, sometimes, in allusion to those who complied, that "notwithstanding he and they might go different ways, with respect to the public affairs, he trusted yet that heaven-gates would be wide enough to receive both him and them."[22] Though he did not attend the Parish Church, yet the Clergyman of the Parish frequently visited the Archbishop. His opinions respecting the Parochial Assemblies, in consequence of the prayers for the new Sovereigns, were very strong. Thus it is said, that on one occasion, when his sentiments were asked, he replied, "That there ought to be an absolution at the end as well as at the beginning of the Prayers to absolve them from the guilt they had contracted in joining, or seeming to join in immoral and unrighteous petitions."[23] Of Archbishop Sancroft's sincerity, integrity, and piety, no one can doubt, however we may question the prudence of some of his last acts, especially his consent to the steps, which were taken for the continuance of the succession. Though the consecration of Hickes and Wagstaffe did not take place till after his death, yet we must view the act as having received his sanction, because he had delegated his powers to Lloyd. With his views of the Oath to the new Sovereigns, and of the deprivation of himself and his brethren, we cannot perhaps be greatly surprised at his consenting to a continuance of the succession. Still it would have been more consistent, had he followed in the steps of Ken, who took no part in the proceedings connected with the new consecrations, being content to suffer the penalties of non-compliance without any attempt to perpetuate a schism.[24]

We have seen, that Sancroft prayed for King James and the Prince of Wales. The Nonjurors could not join in prayers for the new Sovereigns. Kettlewell had very strong feelings on this point; and Sancroft and the Bishops entertained the same. Of Kettlewell it is said, he "could not by any motives be persuaded to cease praying for those persons, whom at the commencement of the Revolution he had prayed for; and whom he firmly believed to have the same right to his prayers now as then."[25] All the Nonjurors recognized James as their lawful Sovereign: and consequently they prayed for him in their assemblies. They did not however mention his name; but prayed for the King, the Queen, and the Prince. At all events, this was the general practice, though probably some might even introduce the King's name.

Though my sympathies are with the deprived Bishops on many points, yet I cannot refrain from expressing my opinion in this place, that they were not justified in attempting to perpetuate the schism by continuing the succession. They might have remained quiescent, having delivered their own consciences by not taking the Oath. Every one must revere them for their scruples, and for their adherence to principles, which enabled them to endure suffering and privation; but I cannot think, that they were called upon, even by their own views, to take so strong a step as that of new consecrations. They could not proceed regularly. Of this they were conscious, and therefore they resorted to the expedient of Suffragan Bishops. Besides, it is clear, that Sancroft could not delegate his powers to be exercised after his own death. Whatever may have been the effect of the Instrument, by which Lloyd was empowered to act, it certainly ceased with the life of the Archbishop. This subject, however, will necessarily come under consideration in the details of the controversy between the Nonjurors and their opponents: and I introduce it here, merely for the purpose of pointing out, what I conceive to have been an error on the part of the deprived Bishops.[26]

From the period of the new consecrations, therefore, the schism must be regarded as having been completed. "Thus not only a separation in the Church of England was actually formed, Dr. Sancroft being at the head of one communion, and Dr. Tillotson at the head of another: but a provision was made for perpetuating the former, in case the public affairs should stand in the same posture. However, for the more easy healing of this unhappy breach, and for avoiding disputes which might otherwise arise about the temporalities annexed to the spirituality of a Bishop, it was in favour of the Church in possession, provided, first, that none should be consecrated into any see: and secondly, that they who were consecrated should forbear to act till, upon failure of the Bishops now deprived, there would, for keeping up the succession, be a necessity for them to execute the powers committed to them, and to afford those who should adhere unto them orthodox and holy ministrations, as Mr. Kettlewell expresses it."[27] This writer states, that he shall not meddle with their reasons for so acting.

Their statement of their case was couched in the following terms:

"1st. That in the year of our Lord 1688, the ecclesiastical authority of the Church of England was with the most reverend Father in God, Dr. William Sancroft: as Primate and Metropolitan of all England, and with the right reverend the Bishops (now deprived) in their dioceses, and that the acknowledged altars were with them, is agreed on both sides.

2. That since that time, several Bishops and Priests subordinate to him and them, and to whom they were bound by oaths of canonical obedience, having rejected that authority, withdrew their obedience, and set up and owned another Primate and other Bishops against those acknowledged Bishops, is matter of fact.

3. Whence a separation being made by them, and there being two parties divided, with the old metropolitan at the head of one, and the late Dean Dr. Tillotson at the head of the other: the question is with which of these the faithful are obliged to hold communion. Now if the Archbishop and the rest of the Bishops deserted any doctrines of the Church, or otherwise made themselves irregular and so deserved deprivation: or if the civil power hath authority to deprive Bishops without a Synod: and if a legal civil power hath deprived these: Then they have no longer any ecclesiastical authority over the faithful. But if on the other hand, they are deprived for maintaining the Doctrine of the Church and for adhering to their duty: if the civil power cannot but in a Synodical way deprive Bishops, or if the power which pretendeth to do it is not legal: Then the sentence of deprivation is not only unjust, but null in itself, and the authority of the Bishops is in full force as before, and the obligation to adhere to their communion as strict as ever."[28]

This is the way in which the case was stated by the early Nonjurors. It will be seen that it is expressed with great moderation: with much greater indeed than was adopted at a later period, when the controversy became warm. It does not pronounce the Bishops and Priests, who complied, heretics. Though, therefore, I consider that the Nonjurors were in error in continuing the Schism, by providing for the succession, yet I must allow, that there was a strong colour for their proceedings, and that the great fault was with King William's government, in proceeding to deprive the Bishops and Clergy, who were so conscientious as to scruple the Oath. The mischief would have been avoided, if the Bishops and Clergy had been permitted to remain in possession of their preferments. It would have been wise in the rulers to have acted, as in an ordinary case of the accession of a new Sovereign. Ecclesiastical persons are not required in such a case to take the Oath afresh, unless on a new appointment. Had King William's government acted on this principle, no schism would have taken place in the Anglican Church: and surely such an indulgence was due to a body of conscientious men. The difficulties, with which they had to cope respecting the Oaths, were of no ordinary character. No person, who understands the question, will load their memory with reproach on that head. No doubt the Bishops and Clergy, who complied, were conscientious men, and acted on principle: but it would be uncharitable to condemn those who refused. The difficulties were of such a character, as to make us very cautious in pronouncing an opinion against such a body as the Bishops and Clergy, who submitted to deprivation rather than go against their conscience. These remarks apply especially to the first race of Nonjurors, who were not responsible for the proceedings of those who succeeded them, and whose case will be considered in the course of our narrative.

The perpetuation of the schism by the new consecrations, however, was not approved of by all the Nonjurors: so that even at this early period the house was divided against itself. The deprived Bishops had no sphere in which to exercise their functions. A lay power, even an unlawful power, may deprive a Bishop of his jurisdiction. I mean that when a Bishop is forcibly removed from his sphere, by the civil power, he cannot continue to exercise his authority. We need not discuss the question respecting the legality of the government of King William. All persons are satisfied with our present constitution: and though there were many acts, of which we may disapprove, yet no one will call the legality of the government of that day in question. But it is quite sufficient for my purpose to assume, that when a Bishop is removed, even forcibly and illegally, it becomes a question how far he can act; or whether he must not submit to the trial until the Providence of God sees fit to make his way clear. Bishops from another Church are true Bishops in England; but they cannot exercise their functions in this country without permission. And this, I conceive, was precisely the position of the deprived Bishops. This view, moreover, was adopted by many Nonjurors, as will be seen in another chapter. The principle on which they acted, in continuing the succession, does not admit of the same justification as their refusal to take the Oaths.

I have already alluded to the number of the Clergy who submitted to deprivation. Remarks were made at the time on the comparative smallness of the number; but I confess that my surprise is, that there were so many. When we remember how easy it is to go with the stream: when we recollect, that many complied with the existing authorities without inquiry, and that many more entertained scruples, though they did not separate from the Church, we cannot but be surprised that so large a number as four hundred should have refused the Oath. Thankful too should we be, that the consequences of the schism were not more disastrous: especially as we know, that if the government had forborne to press the Oath, all would have continued in their posts as quiet and peaceable subjects of the new Sovereigns, though they could not recognize their authority by an Oath.

The Bishops and other dignitaries, who refused to comply, were very cautious in giving their opinion respecting the Oath before the period fixed by the Act for their deprivation: and therefore many who took it, did so, because they conceived, that their ecclesiastical superiors, by their silence, sanctioned them in such a course. "Hence it came to pass, that some who took the Oath were willing to lay the occasion thereof upon the very Bishops whom they departed from in so doing."[29] The Bishops did not influence the Clergy: they did not express their opinions publicly on the proceedings of the government: and consequently some, who complied, were disposed to attribute their compliance to the Bishops themselves. But on the other hand it may be remarked, that the views of the Bishops were generally known. They had several meetings at Lambeth: and some of the Clergy did actually apply to them for their advice and assistance, which were never refused.

Alluding to the argument derived from the comparatively small number of the Nonjurors, Leslie somewhat coarsely remarks: "This is the common topic, and runs through them all, and yet there is not one of them but knows full well that this means nothing at all, that truth was never tried by rolling and telling of noses: that numbers were never any evidence of a good cause. At this rate the Alcoran will vie with the Gospel, and Turcism will be not only better than Popery, but even than Christianity itself. This therefore is nothing else but cheating and deluding the people, instead of informing and instructing them. And they are hard put to it sure, when to save their own credit, and to blast others, they are forced so frequently to inculcate such an argument, which they themselves in their own consciences (if they have any) know to be none at all."[30]

At all events, no one can deny, that their sincerity was put to a very severe test. By complying, the Archbishop, Bishops and Clergy might have retained their posts: the Bishops would have ended their days in affluence and surrounded with worldly honours: and the Clergy would have lived in comfort and in most cases in plenty. But by adopting the opposite course, they spent the remainder of their days in poverty and seclusion. There was no worldly inducement to such a course. It is not in human nature to choose poverty for its own sake. Some strong principle must have influenced them in their decision, and supported them in their subsequent course. In short they were moved by their own consciences: and it is not uncharitable to assert, that few of the complying Bishops were actuated by so strong a principle as the despised Nonjurors. Nor were they encouraged by King James. On the contrary they met with great discouragement.

James's infatuation with respect to Popery was so great, that he usually endeavoured to induce those Nonjuring divines, who visited him in France, to join the Church of Rome. These attempts were known and could not fail to cause any, who might be wavering in their opinions, to adhere to the new government, despairing of the safety of the Church of England under King James. Thus, when the Protestant members of his court at St. Germains requested permission for a chapel, in which the service of the Church of England might be conducted, the King again consulted the Jesuits, and refused the request. Dr. Granville, who had quitted the Deanery of Durham, was even obliged to leave St. Germains, in consequence of the insults to which he was subjected.[31] None of his Protestant followers were trusted. Colonel Cannan refusing to join the Church of Rome was reduced to a very small allowance. Being sick, he received the Sacrament of Dr. Granville, but some priests actually thrust a wafer down his throat after he became insensible, and published that he died a member of the Church of Rome.[32] It seems that the priests, and no doubt the King approved, endeavoured to bring over every Protestant to their own Church.[33]

The new government, as it appears to me, acted in some cases with unnecessary severity against those, who were suspected of favouring King James. Generally the Nonjurors remained quiet, though of course their affections were with the exiled monarch. There were, however, exceptions; but the evidence in some cases would not in our day be sufficient for conviction of a crime, to which the forfeiture of life is attached. Mr. Ashton's case was alluded to in the previous chapter: and it appears to me that Mr. Anderton, who was arraigned in June 1693, was convicted on evidence, which, in the present day, would not be deemed sufficient. He was indicted for printing two Pamphlets, entitled "Remarks upon the Present Confederacy and Late Revolution in England," and "A French Conquest neither desirable nor practicable." Grascome wrote an account of the trial under the title, "An Appeal of Murder," which, as well as that from the Sessions Paper, is printed in the State Trials. Anderton avowed himself a member of the Church of England; still he declined the services of the Ordinary, who appears to have conducted himself with much impropriety towards the prisoner. A Nonjuring Clergyman, probably Grascome, attended him in his last moments, using portions of the Office for the Visitation of the Sick, with such alterations as were suited to the circumstances of the sufferer.[34]

The narrative of facts has now been continued to the year 1694: but other matters of no small importance occurred during this period relative to the controversies, in which the various parties were engaged. These will be discussed in the ensuing chapter.


  1. Kettlewell, Appen. No. vi. for the List of Names. Mr. Bowles also has published a list differing only in some few names from that in the Life of Kettle well. He observes, that he was not aware of any published list. See also "The Hereditary Right of the Crown of England," pp. 71, 72. Mr. Hallam's testimony is too important not to be noticed. "Eight Bishops, including the Primate and several of those who had been foremost in the defence of the Church during the late reign, with about four hundred of the Clergy, some of them highly distinguished, chose the more honourable course of refusing the new Oaths: and thus began the Schism of the Nonjurors, more mischievous in its commencement than its continuance, and not so dangerous to the government of William III. and George I. as the false submission of less sincere men." He adds in a note, after assigning reasons in favour of the imposition of the Oath, "Yet the effect of this expulsion was highly unfavourable to the new government: and it required all the influence of a Latitudinarian School of Divinity, led by Locke, which was very strong among the laity, under William, to counteract it." Const. Hist. iii. 148. Thus we have the unbiassed opinion of Mr. Hallam, that the Theology of the Revolution was of a Latitudinarian tendency.
  2. D'Oyley's Sancroft, i. 462—470. Birch's Life of Tillotson, 246—248. "It must be acknowledged," says Comber, "by Dr. Sancroft's greatest enemies, that he acted on this occasion from principle, and on a thorough conviction, that it was not lawful to acknowledge any person as king during the life of James II. It was so manifestly against his interest, that a firm persuasion of its being his duty could alone have induced him to make so great a sacrifice." Comber's Life, 291.
  3. Kettlewell. Appendix. A pamphlet was published on the subject, under the following title: "Passive Obedience in Actual Resistance: or Remarks upon a Paper fixed up in the Cathedral Church of Worcester, by Dr. Hickes, with Reflections on the present behaviour of the rest of the family." It is scurrilous and abusive; and, therefore, entitled to no consideration.
  4. Birch, 268, 269.
  5. Beveridge consulted Sancroft on the subject. Evelyn informs us that Sancroft told him: "That Dr. Beveridge came to ask his advice: that the Archhishop told him, though he should give it, lie believed he would not take it: the Doctor said he would: why then, says the Archbishop, when they came to aske, say Nolo, and say it from the heart: there is nothing easier than to resolve yourselfe what is to be done in the case: the Doctor seemed to deliberate," Vol. iii. 304.
  6. Bowles's Life of Ken, ii, 210—214.
  7. A Vindication of their Majesties Authority to fill the Sees of the deprived Bishops: in a Letter out of the Country. Occasioned by Dr. B's refusal of the Bishopric of Bath and Wells. 4to, 1691.
  8. Sharp's Life, i. 108—110. Birch's Tillotson, 276, 277. Scott, the author of the Christian Life, refused the bishopric of Chester with other posts because they were vacant by deprivation. Hickes's Discourses on some Late Sermons. Preface—" A curious report was circulated in 1687 respecting Stillingfleet. In a Letter from Leyden that year: "There is a jealousy of Dr. Stillingfleet turning Papist." Marchmont Papers, iii. 72.
  9. Bishop of Rochester's Account.
  10. Kettlewell's Life, 138.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Kettlewell, 139, 140.
  13. D'Oyley, ii. 39.
  14. Kettlewell, 136, 137. A Collection of Letters concerning the separation of the Church of England into two communions. 1746. p. 49—53. The close of this document, dated February the 9th 1691, is really touching: "Dated from my poor cottage (which is not yet made a sufficient covering for me in this sharp winter) here in Friesingfield, at this time indeed very hard frozen, situate within the bounds of your diocese."
  15. Kettlewell, 137, 138.
  16. D'Oyley's Life, ii. 33, 34. Tillotson's Life, 269. Kettlewell, 134. Biog. Brit. Art. Hickes. Supp. Nichols' Lit. Anecdotes, i. 35, 36.
  17. Mason's Defence by Lindsay. Preface, lxxxiii. iv. 1728. See also Macpherson's Original Papers, i. 452—455.
  18. Letter out of Suffolk. Birch's Tillotson, 155—160. Kettlewell, 159.
  19. D'Oyley's Life, ii. 65.
  20. Macpherson's Papers i, 278.
  21. Nelson's Life of Bishop Bull, 356.
  22. Kettlewell, 159.
  23. Kettlewell, 159.
  24. It was said after the Archbishop's death, that he had communicated with his Chaplains after their compliance. This however, was not the fact, as is clear from The Letter out of Suffolk, Barberry's Admonition to Kennet and Marshall, and Bedford's Vindication of Sancroft. The Charge was also refuted in 1746 by the publication of the Testimony of Thomas Martyn. Martyn states that he, with other gentlemen, repaired to the Archbishop September 19, 1690: that they told his Grace of their dissatisfaction at the alterations in the prayers. He asked each if he wanted satisfaction, and on all declaring that they did, the Archbishop said that they "ought not to go to the publick, but get what opportunity they could otherwise." Mr. Snat promised to find out some means of affording- them the privilege of Divine worship, the Archbishop expressing his approval. It seems, that Snat began thus early to officiate privately to some of those, who scrupled to attend the Parish Churches. Previous to the Archbishop's removal from Lambeth, Martyn again resumed the question respecting the public prayers, on which occasion it was that his Grace replied, that they would need the Absolution at the end as well as at the beginning. See "A Collection of Letters concerning the Separation of the Church of England into two Communions," pp. 45—48.
  25. Kettlewell, 117.
  26. The leanings of the ruling powers are evident from the following circumstance, relative to the 29th of May. "Though this day was set apart expressly for celebrating the memorable birth, returne, and restoration of the late King Charles II., there was no notice taken of it, nor any part of the office annext to the Common Prayer Book, made use of, which I think was ill don, in regard his restoration not only redemed us from anarchy and confusion, but restored the Church of England, as it were miraculously." Evelyn, vol. iii, 316. This was in 1692.
  27. Kettlewell, 134.
  28. Kettlewell, 135.
  29. Kettlewell, 108.
  30. Remarks on some late Sermons: and in particular on Dr. Sherlock's Sermon at the Temple, Dec. 30th, 1694. In a Letter to a Friend, p. 11.
  31. Life of King James, 8vo. 1705. pp. 390, 391. Macky's Memoirs, xxix.
  32. Macky, xxxvi.
  33. Ibid, xliii.
  34. State Trials, viii. 71, 72.
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