A History of the Nonjurors/Chapter 5

A History of the Nonjurors - ornament 3.png



A. D. 1694—1701-2.

Tillotson's Death.—Hickes's Remarks on Burnet and Tillotson.—Attacks on the Archbishop.—On Burnet.—Fund for the Relief of the Nonjuring Clergy.—Proceedings of the Government.—Circumstances of the deprived Bishops.—The Absolution of Perkins and Friend by Collier, Cook, and Snatt.—Works on the Subject.—Sir John Fenwick.—Death of Bishop White.—The Succession to the Throne.—Dodwell and Hody.—Death of Bishop Turner.—Death of King James.—Oath of Abjuration.—Death of King William.

Archbishop Tillotson, the successor of Sancroft, died shortly after his excellent predecessor in 1694. Tillotson was a man of no ordinary character: but, from his position as Archbishop of Canterbury at such a period of excitement, he was exposed to severe animadversions from the Nonjurors, who regarded him as the leader of a schism in the Anglican Church. It must, however, be confessed, that Tillotson's views of ecclesiastical matters were what were termed latitudinarian. In this work, it is no part of my business to enter into particulars respecting those persons, who complied at the Revolution, except so far as it may be necessary for the purpose of throwing light on the subject, of which I am treating. Consequently I shall not be expected to give an account of Tillotson's life. It will be sufficient to confine myself to those points, which are immediately connected with the Nonjurors.

Soon after the Archbishop's decease, Burnet published the sermon which he had preached on occasion of his funeral. This was a signal for renewed attacks upon the Bishops and Clergy, for their compliance with the new order of things. Hickes was perhaps the most severe in his animadversions, which must be regarded with some suspicion, since they proceeded from a man, to whom the Archbishop, in consequence of the line which he had taken, was most obnoxious. I am, however, inclined to think, that the severe remarks were partly called forth by the strain of panegyric, in which the preacher so largely indulged. "Burnet," says Ralph, "preached his funeral sermon; and the character he gave of the deceased (severely true, as he declares it was, and rather less than larger than the life) together with the overflow of rancour, which in the same breath he rashly discharged against the deprived clergy, drew both on the dead and the living as severe invectives: according to the preacher, Tillotson was a man whose life was free from blemishes, was shining in all the parts of it, was an example of all sublime and heroical piety and virtue, and a pattern both to Church and State: according to those who answered him, supposing these things to be true, they were not to be admitted on the authority of him who delivered them: according to them, Burnet had no authority, and Tillotson's life abounded more with blemishes than beauties: and the truth of the matter is, that prejudice was equally predominant on both sides."[1] Undoubtedly Tillotson was a man of high character; but on Church matters his opinions were extremely lax. That the invectives of Hickes were unjust may be admitted, without involving an approval of all the praises of Burnet.

Some of Hickes's statements are extremely curious. For example, we are told, that Burnet was once turned out of the house by Dr. Dove, for arguing too warmly in favour of the Oath, though the latter had complied. Hickes remarks of Scott and Dove, that they were men of a different stamp from Burnet, who, having experienced a difficulty themselves respecting the Oath, retained a tender compassion for those who refused. It was alleged, that some of the complying Clergy acted very unkindly towards the sufferers, especially in preventing their private meetings, and in suppressing their books. According to Hickes, many of their books were actually destroyed. "There must," says he, "be something formidable in their writings, and some reasonings in them which these men of latitude cannot well answer, that they use so much diligence to suppress them, at a time when atheists, heretics, and republicans print and publish what they please, with little or no molestation." He prints a paper containing an account of the seizure, by the government, during the years 1692, 1693, and 1695, of five printing presses, with a considerable number of pamphlets. The titles of several of the works, which were seized and suppressed, are given by Hickes, together with a list of books, which, as he states, had not been answered. The circumstance shews, that the government acted with considerable severity: they would not permit the Nonjurors to publish their reasons for non-compliance. Anderton, whose case has been already mentioned, was one of the printers.

That many of the Clergy of the Revolution were latitudinarian in their opinions, is, as we have seen, admitted by Mr. Hallam, than whom a more unexceptionable witness could not be adduced. This charge is strongly urged by Hickes against Burnet. In his sermon, Burnet had said, that Tillotson left men to use their own discretion in small matters. Hickes, commenting on this assertion, states, that the Archbishop was accustomed to administer the Lord's Supper to some persons sitting, and that especially a certain lady of Dr. Owen's congregation was so accustomed to receive it in the chapel of Lincoln's Inn: that he walked round the chapel, administering the elements first to those who were seated in their pews, and then to those who were kneeling at the rails, not, however, going within himself, but standing without. This was a direct breach of the order of the Church, and may be regarded as an evidence of the extent of latitudinarian practices. It seems that Tillotson did not stand alone in this particular: for Hickes asserts, that the Bishop of St. Asaph adopted the same practice, at Kidder's church, in administering the Lord's Supper to Dr. Bates, and other nonconformists.[2] When we contemplate such proceedings on the part of men high in station in the Church, we cannot close our eyes to the fact, that the latitudinarian principles, which prevailed to a considerable extent after the Revolution, did really place the Church in some danger. By the good providence of God, however, the Clergy in general were actuated by purer notions: and within a few years the danger was averted.

It was not unnatural for the Nonjurors to form harsh views of Tillotson, viewing him as they did as an intruder into the place of Sancroft, whom they regarded as a confessor: but in some of their productions they over-stepped the bounds of truth and justice, to such an extent, that they injured their own cause. Thus the charge of Socinianism was alleged shortly after the Archbishop's death—a charge of a most unfounded description, though, undoubtedly, Tillotson's latitudinarian notions on many subjects appeared to afford some colour for the allegation. One work in particular, supposed to have been written by Leslie, abounded in severe and unfounded remarks on this subject.[3] At a later period, after Birch had published his very laudatory Life of the Archbishop, all the old charges were revived by Smith, in his Remarks on that production. An account of Smith and his writings will be found in a subsequent chapter; but this is the proper place for alluding to his work on the Archbishop. It is a most severe and unjust attack upon Tillotson's memory. While Birch's work partakes of the character of Burnet's Sermon, Smith's volume resembles in its bitterness the animadversions of Hickes. His censures on the Archbishop, for entering upon the see of Sancroft, may be pardoned in a Nonjuring writer; but no excuse can be pleaded for the severity which is displayed, in almost every page, against a kind and amiable man. Some of Smith's works were distinguished for candour and good temper; but, in speaking of Tillotson, he forgets himself so far as to indulge in very great bitterness. Birch's was a very partial and a very prejudiced production; yet, neither the work itself, nor the Archbishop, merited the treatment which they received from Smith. Some of Tillotson's views and practices were justly liable to censure; but no justification can be pleaded for the acrimony and personal abuse, with which the Remarks abound. Probably there was some foundation for Smith's charge, that Tillotson recommended the abolition of episcopacy in Scotland: but he further alleges that the Archbishop would also have sacrificed it in England, if the Revolution could not have been completed without its destruction. In some things Birch, who was ever ready to throw out insinuations and reflections against the Nonjurors, is subjected to deserved castigation. One of Birch's charges is thus indignantly, but justly repelled by the author: "he brings a charge against the non-swearing Clergy, which is most injurious and false: that they hoped and wished the alterations in the Liturgy might have been made by the convocation, that they might have been furnished with more specious pretences for a separation. For the Archbishop and Bishops of that communion did not separate at all from the Church of England, either in doctrine, worship, or government. It is, therefore, a calumny to assert, that they hoped and wished for the alterations, since they did all they could to put a stop to such a dangerous project: and they used their strongest interest and the best arguments they could think of with the more orthodox part of the complying Clergy, who never betrayed their order, and were against comprehending away the Church, and retained a very tender respect for their old brethren, and wished they might come again to communion with them."[4] Smith's statement is strictly true, and Birch must be regarded as a calumniator of the deprived Bishops and Clergy, in imputing to them such a wish. It is an undoubted fact, that they used their utmost exertions to prevent the contemplated alterations.

Burnet's conduct was, in many respects, as will be gathered from a preceding chapter, more open to animadversion than Tillotson's: and his Funeral Sermon on the Archbishop was the occasion of renewed attacks upon him, for the part he had acted in the Revolution. He had formerly preached strongly against the power of the people, and in favour of non-resistance. "Less disorder," said he on one occasion, "was to be apprehended from the pretensions of the Roman Bishops, than from those maxims of judging and controlling the magistrate, and which opened a door to endless confusion, and set every private person in the throne." To these passages from his own writings, "they opposed," says Ralph, "his own practice in persuading the Princess of Orange to the unnatural invasion of her father's crown."[5] Thus, we are told, "he was engaged in aid of the deepest and most heinous treason, that subject ever was engaged in: I mean in persuading the Princess of Orange to consent to the unnatural invasion of her father's kingdom, by the Prince, which then was resolved upon, and with him to take his crown, if the invasion should succeed. This he thought so meritorious and honourable a piece of service, that soon after he came to London, he could not deny himself the satisfaction of telling some friends that he was the man pitched upon to break the design of deposing the King her father, to her Royal Highness, two years before the Revolution: and that he gained her consent upon condition, that the Prince might assume the royal power with her, and be crowned with her. He told it to this purpose in the Deanery House of St. Paul's, and for the truth of it I appeal to the then Dean of that Church, I mean Dr. Stillingfleet, and to the worthy Bishop of Peterborough, I mean Dr. White, who was present, when he spoke to that effect."[6] Hickes is undoubtedly more severe on Burnet, than truth and justice required; but it cannot be denied, that the Bishop was too much of a partizan to be an honest actor in such times as those, in which he lived. He was uncharitable towards the Nonjurors, who on their part regarded him as a man of no principle. His predilections for the Prince of Orange were so strong, that on some occasions, in his zeal for William, he appears almost to have lost the sense of right and wrong. Calamy states, that there were only five Nonjurors in Burnet's diocese, a circumstance which he conceives redounds to the Bishop's credit. Calamy mentions Martin, who was continued in his living though he refused the Oath: Spinkes, who was permitted to serve his parish by a curate: Jones, who was allowed to nominate his successor: Dickson, who died shortly after the period fixed for the deprivation: and Beale, who retained his living two years after the first of February 1690.[7] It certainly happened, that there were fewer Clergymen, who refused the Oaths in the diocese of Salisbury, than in some others: but this circumstance cannot be attributed to the Bishop's influence, or to the affection of the Clergy for his lordship: for it is certain, that he was very unpopular with many. There were, however, more than five Clergymen in the diocese of Sarum, who refused the Oath: nor is Calamy's account of Burnet's lenity in the cases already cited to be depended on. The Bishop was not lenient with the Nonjurors. His dislike to them was too strong to permit him to connive at their remaining in their livings, after the period fixed by the Act of Parliament for their deprivation. In many other dioceses they were kindly treated by the Bishops, though in none were they permitted to hold their livings, after they had refused the Oath. Indeed, the Bishops had no such power: for when the appointed day arrived, the patrons were at liberty to present other Clerks for institution.

We have seen, that the Nonjurors, both Bishops and Clergy, suffered the loss of all things, rather than act against their consciences. Worldly substance, honours, station—all were given up by these truly devoted men. Their conduct, throughout their whole career, is a triumphant answer to the flippant charge of a popish leaning. Had such been the case they would have taken the Oath, in order that they might secretly promote their own designs. But they resorted to no unworthy arts. They were content to suffer in what they deemed a righteous cause. Their sufferings and self denial are little known to the public, because no chronicler has yet been found to gather up the scattered materials of this despised but interesting body. Calamy and others laud the patience of the ministers ejected in 1662; but their sufferings were in no case greater, while, in many instances, they were less, than those of the Nonjurors. There is, moreover, this striking difference between the two classes of sufferers. The ejected ministers did not suffer in silence: they raised their cry, and it was heard: they found numerous advocates; but the Nonjurors were left to themselves; they endured their trials in silence and with meekness; and few persons were found to afford them so much as their sympathy.

Some even of the Bishops, men who had lived in honour and affluence, were reduced to the greatest extremities; becoming dependent on the bounty of others; though previous to the Revolution they possessed an abundance. In some cases they were in a state of actual poverty: while in none did they possess more than a mere pittance. Ken lived chiefly with his noble friends at Long-leat: and Sancroft had only a trifle to sustain him in his last days. The Primate of the Anglican Church, who had been the occupier of more than one Palace, was brought to end his days in a cottage. In the time of Queen Elizabeth the Deprived Romish Bishops were provided for; but in the case of the Nonjuring Prelates no provision was made by persons in authority.

In January 1694-5 a plan for the relief of the suffering Clergy was devised by Mr. Kettlewell, by whom also a model was drawn up for the management of a fund, which was placed under the control of the Deprived Bishops, with such clergymen, as they might think proper to associate with them for its distribution. Something of the kind was rendered necessary by the indigent circumstances, in which they were placed. An inquiry was to be made respecting the incomes of the deprived Clergy, as also their expenses; but, to guard against pretenders, evidence was required, that the deprivations had taken place on account of the Oaths. It was thought, that by granting them relief, they would not be under the temptation of deserting the truth or acting dishonourably. There is a curious regulation respecting the Clergy in London. "The Clergy here who have no business, but stay in Town as the best place of gifts, may be sent into the counties, where they will be much better maintained at half the charge, and where they may do service. And others will have no excuse to spend most of their time in CoffeeHouses and hunting after gifts; but when they are not employed in their holy functions, may follow their studies to improve themselves." All was managed with prudence so as not to give offence to the government. "In speaking of themselves, if they add an epithet, noting only the actual suffering and force they are under, but not the justice of it on one side or other, they would neither assert their titles to offend others, nor any ways forego or give them up to prejudice themselves."[8]

Kettlewell died April 12, 1695, before the plan could be carried into effect. An account of his last moments is given in a letter to Nelson his Executor, by an individual who was present. He was resigned and cheerful in the prospect of entering the eternal world. Ken performed the Funeral Service over the grave of his friend in his episcopal robes, having also read the Evening Service, by permission of the minister of the Parish. He was buried in the Parish Church of All-Hallows, near the Tower, and in the same grave, in which the body of Archbishop Laud had rested, from his death until the Restoration, when it was removed and deposited in the chapel of St. John's College, Oxon, of which he had been a member, and to which he was so liberal a benefactor.[9]

The plan, however, was sanctioned by the Deprived Prelates, who wrote the following letter in its recommendation:

"To all Christian people, to whom this charitable recommendation shall be presented, Grace be to you, and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Whereas, We, the present Deprived Bishops of this Church, have certain information that many of our deprived brethren of the clergy, with their wives, children, and families, are reduced to extreme want, and unable to support themselves, and their several charges, without the charitable relief of pious and well-disposed Christians: and being earnestly moved by several of them to represent their distressed condition to the mercy and compassion of such tender-hearted persons, as are inclined to commiserate and relieve the afflicted servants of God.

"Now We, in compliance with their intreaty, and with all due regard to their suffering circumstances, have thought it our duty, (as far as in law we may) heartily to recommend their necessitous condition to all pious, good people: hoping and praying, that they will take their case into their serious consideration, and putting on the bowels of charity, extend their alms to them, and their needy families."

"And we will not cease to pray for a blessing upon such their benefactors; and remain in all Christian Offices, Yours,

William, Bp. of Norwich
Robert, Bp. of Gloucester
Francis, Bp. of Ely
Thomas, Bp. of Bath and Wells
Thomas, Bp. of Peterborough

July, 22, 1695."


It might have been supposed, that no one could have been offended by this simple appeal to the sympathies of the affluent, in behalf of a body of peaceable sufferers for conscience sake. Yet the jealousy of the government was aroused by this proceeding on the part of the Bishops. The pious Ken was summoned before the Privy Council to answer certain interrogatories. He was asked, "Did you subscribe this Paper?" He replied, "My Lords, I thank God I did, and it had a very happy effect: for the will of my blessed Redeemer was fulfilled; and what we were not able to do ourselves, was done by others." It was said by the council, "No one condemns charity, but the way you have taken to procure it: your Paper is illegal." This was an extraordinary charge; and was thus met by Ken: "My Lords, I can plead to the Evangelical part: I am no lawyer, but shall want lawyers to plead that." He then states, that the project originated with Kettlewell, who was now deceased: that having signed it he retired to the country in an obscure village, "where I live above the suspicion of giving umbrage to the government." It was then objected by the council, that the money had been given to immoral men: "particularly to one, who goes in a gown one day, and in a blue silk wastcoat another." Ken remarked, that to give to an ill man might be a mistake, but not a crime. He stated also, that a thousand persons were imprisoned in his Diocese, after Monmouth's rebellion; that he had relieved their wants; and that King James had never complained of his conduct. They admitted, that they did not charge him individually with giving to improper persons, but that it had been done by others. But they add, "The Paper comes out with a pretence of authority, and it is illegal, and in the nature of a brief." Ken replied, that he was not prepared to argue the legal point. It was then pretended that the Bishops by their Paper had "usurped Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction." The Bishop replies to this strange charge: "My Lords, I never heard that begging was a part of ecclesiastical jurisdiction: and in this Paper we are only beggars, which privilege I hope may be allowed us."

Ken left the account behind him signed with his own name, and dated April 28 1696.[11] The government must have been under some very erroneous impression to pursue so singular a course. Nothing could have been more harmless than the plan adopted by the Bishops: and, therefore, I am convinced, that some prejudiced persons must have persuaded the authorities to take up the matter, and summon Ken to London to answer the interrogatories of the council. The Clergy were in a starving condition; yet some persons were unwilling that the hand of charity should be opened for their relief. The council must have felt the reproof conveyed by the fact, that Ken had relieved the persons who had been implicated in Monmouth's rebellion, and that King James did not complain of his conduct.

All the Bishops were in very narrow circumstances. This was especially the case with Turner, who was chiefly dependent on the charity of others. The man, who, by adhering to the new Sovereigns and taking the Oath, might have ended his days amidst an abundance of earthly blessings, was actually sustained, in his declining years, by the bounty of those who sympathized with him in his distresses. Yet this man was exposed, while living, to all kinds of charges: and after his death, his memory was traduced by a set of men, whose principles allowed them to adopt any line of conduct in support of their worldly ink terest. There is something exceedingly painful in the fact, that men, who preferred a good conscience to a bishopric, should not only have been in poverty, but also maligned and traduced by many, whose principles changed with their circumstances.

We now come to a singular circumstance, on the part of Collier, and some of his brethren. In the year 1696, a plot was discovered against the life of King William: and Sir John Friend and Sir William Perkins were brought to trial on a charge for being implicated in the conspiracy. These gentlemen were found guilty, and sentenced to death. At the place of execution, Collier, Cook, and Snatt appeared on the platform with the criminals: and just previous to the completion of the sentence, Collier publicly absolved the parties, performing the ceremony with the imposition of hands. It struck many persons as strange, first, that absolution should have been granted under such circumstances, and secondly, that the ceremony of imposition of hands, which was not practised by the Church of England, should have been used.

So great an impression was made on the public mind by the circumstance, that the two Archbishops and ten Bishops published a declaration against the practice, intitled: "A Declaration of the Sense of the Archbishops and Bishops now in and about London upon the occasion of their attendance in Parliament, concerning the irregular and scandalous proceedings of certain clergymen, at the execution of Sir John Friend and Sir William Perkins." The document is somewhat curious, as expressive of the opinions of the Bishops respecting the schism, which had now occurred. A paper or papers had been delivered by the criminals to the sheriffs, which were afterwards printed and circulated, and in which Sir John Friend speaks of the Church of the Nonjurors as the Church of England. The Bishops say, that they felt themselves obliged to express their sense of the conduct of the three clergymen. Alluding to Sir John Friend's expression, they remark of the Church of England, "that venerable name is, by the author of that paper, appropriated to that part of our Church which hath separated itself from the body; and more particularly to a faction of them, who are so furiously bent upon the restoring of the late King, that they seem not to regard by what means it is to be effected." His words were as follows:

"I profess myself, and I thank God I am so, a member of the Church of England, though, God knows, a most unworthy and unprofitable part of it, of that Church which surfers so much at present, for a strict adherence to the laws and Christian principles.

For this I suffer, and for this I die."

The Bishops add, that they conceive, that Sir William Perkins used the term in the same sense, "being assured (as we are by very good information) that both he and Sir John Friend had withdrawn themselves from our public assemblies some time before their death." They then proceed to arraign the conduct of the three clergymen, Collier, Snatt, and Cook: "For those clergymen, who took upon them to absolve these criminals at the place of execution, by laying, all three together, their hands upon their heads, and publicly pronouncing a form of absolution; as their manner of doing this was extremely insolent, and without precedent, either in our Church or any other that we know of, so the thing itself was altogether irregular. The rubric in our office of the Visitation of the Sick, from whence they took the words they then used, and upon which, if upon any thing in our Liturgy, they must ground this their proceeding, gave them no authority nor pretence for absolving these persons." They further state, that the rubric relates to sick persons who have made a confession; while these clergymen absolved notorious criminals, without even moving them to make a special confession of their sins, the parties themselves not desiring absolution. It is alleged, that the Clergy, as they knew nothing of the state of mind in which the criminals were, could not absolve them, without a breach of the order of the Church. The Bishops also add, that the Clergy, if they were aware of the sentiments of the criminals declared in their papers, must have viewed them as hardened impenitents, or martyrs. The Bishops consider the former supposition as quite out of the question: but they remark on the other, "If they held these men to be martyrs, then their absolving them in that manner was a justification of those grievous crimes for which these men suffered, and an open affront to the laws both of Church and State." The Bishops then add, that they were moved by a desire to prevent the Church from being misunderstood; and that, therefore, "we disown and detest all such principles and practices; looking upon them as highly schismatical and seditious, dangerous both to the Church and State, and contrary to the true doctrine and spirit of the Christian religion."[12]

It was to be supposed, that the government would not remain quiet, especially after such a document from the Bishops. Some of their advocates indeed charged the act as popish—a very convenient charge at all times for what is disliked, or cannot be disproved. The act of the Bishops was made the ground of a proceeding against the three Clergymen. "In pursuance of this, the Court of King's Bench gave orders for an indictment against them, on the 7th of April following: and Mr. Cook and Mr. Snatt were committed to Newgate on suspicion of High Treason, and treasonable practices: but such was the lenity of the government, and his Grace of Canterbury's moderation, in interceding for the delinquents, that no manner of punishment was inflicted on them, and Mr. Collier was not so much as called in question, on account of his great endowments and parts, for justifying his practice in several printed papers."[13] In the present day we may feel surprise at this statement, as if the men had really been guilty of any crime, at which the government could justly take offence.

Collier absconded, but Cook and Snatt were admitted to bail. Collier refused to give bail, because he imagined that by doing so, he should acknowledge the government of King William. He was accordingly outlawed: and under this sentence he continued, because he refused to submit He printed his "Case of Giving Bail," of which it was said, only five copies were struck off. If, therefore, he was not called to account, it was because he was not discovered.

But though outlawed and living in retirement, Collier was not the man to remain silent. Soon after the appearance of Sir John Friend's paper, a Pamphlet was published containing animadversions on that document, taking it in separate paragraphs.[14] In the outset, the writer charges the authorship upon the three Clergymen. He grounds this charge on alleged internal evidence, arid on certain circumstances, which in his opinion, rendered it impossible for Sir John Friend to write it. Sir John said, that the cause for which he suffered, was the cause of God and true religion. On his trial he had denied the charges alleged against him: and moreover proved by witnesses, that he had attended the church in which King William was prayed for. The author of The Letter, therefore, charges him with hypocrisy if he considered the cause of King James as the cause of God. He prayed for King James's restoration in the very paper given to the Sheriffs.

Collier found means, in his retirement, to publish a defence of his conduct in the absolution of the two criminals at the place of execution.[15] In an advertisement he states that Cook and Snatt "have been altogether unacquainted with, unconcerned in, and unconsenting to, the penning or publication of these two Papers." Whatever appearances may be, at first sight, against Collier, no one ought to come to a conelusion, until his defence has been considered. He commences by stating, that his being present at the execution had been misunderstood. It seems that strong censures appeared in some of the newspapers, and that Collier, in consequence of what he heard, secreted himself. He adds, "not without reason; for on Monday about twelve at night, six or eight persons rushed into my lodgings, broke open a trunk, and seized some Papers of value, though perfectly inoffensive and foreign to their purpose. And since I understand there is a Bill found against me for high misdemeanor. And now one would think I had done something very extraordinary.[16]"

Collier then gives a narrative of his proceedings. After his trial, Sir William Perkins, whom he had not seen for four or five years, sent for Collier, who visited him in Newgate. After two days he was not permitted to see the prisoner alone: and at length he was refused altogether, so that he did not see him from Wednesday, April 1, until Friday, at the place of execution. Sir William had spoken freely to Collier on the state of his mind, and desired that the absolution of the Church might be pronounced the last day. On Friday Collier was refused admittance to the prison: and therefore he went to the place of execution and gave the absolution there, since he was not allowed to give it elsewhere, using the Form in The Office for The Visitation of the Sick. Collier states, that when a man had declared his sorrow for his faults, the Absolution was not to be denied. He then comes to the imposition of hands, arguing for it as an innocent and an ancient ceremony. Others, he says, are shocked at the thing itself; and he asks, "are all people damned that are cast in a capital indictment? If so, to what purpose are they visited by divines; why are they exhorted to repentance, and have time allowed them to fit them for death?" He asserts that he considered Sir William to have a right to the privileges of communion; and that, in refusing him absolution, he should have failed in his duty. In reply to the objection alleged against the publicity of the ceremony, Collier declares, that it would have been performed in private, if the authorities had admitted him to the prison. He also denies, that Sir William confessed to him that he was privy to the Assassination. The first Paper was dated April 9th, 1696.

The second paper was printed a fortnight later, in consequence of the Declarations of the Bishops. Collier regards their paper as an unsupported censure. In this paper he enters, at some length, on the defence of the practice of the imposition of hands, on the ground of its primitive use. To the charge, that no such ceremony is enjoined by the rubric, he replies: "true; neither is there any prohibition. The Rubric is perfectly silent both as to posture and gesture, and yet some circumstances of this nature must of necessity be used. Now since our Church allows the priest imposition of hands in another case, and does not forbid it in this, is it any harm if our liberty moves upward, and determines itself by general usage and primitive practice?"[17] Some "Animadversions" on Collier's Two Papers were speedily published. They were written by Hody, and at the command of the Archbishop, Tennison. Collier, who seldom allowed an opponent to remain unanswered, was soon ready with a reply. The only point which it is necessary to notice, relates to the same question as the preceding extract: and as Collier enters fully into the matter, which is really one of great interest, another quotation will not be unacceptable to the reader. The animadverter states, that the ceremony is not retained by the Church of England: and that consequently ministers should not make use of any, which are not positively enjoined. Collier replies as follows. "His affirming that imposition of hands is not retained in the Church of England, will not hold generally speaking. For this ceremony is retained both in orders and confirmation: which is a sufficient argument of its being approved by the Church. But the Church does not retain it in her absolutions. I grant 'tis not in the rubric for that purpose. And therefore, had it been used at the Daily Service or upon any solemn occasion regulated by the Church there might have been some pretence for exception: but the rubric and act of uniformity, mentioned by the animadverter, provide only against innovations, in stated and public administrations. 'Tis in Churches and Church appointments that the rubric condemns adding or diminishing. But this is none of the present case. For the Church has not prescribed us any office for executions. Every priest is here left to his liberty, both as to office and gesture, to substance and ceremony. The devotion may be all private composition, if the confessor pleases. And when out of respect to the Church, he selects any part of her liturgy, though the form is public, the choice and occasion are private, which makes it fall under another denomination. The selected office in this case, is like coin melted into bullion. The public impression is gone: and with that the forfeitures for clipping and alloy are gone too: and the honest proprietor may add to the quantity, or alter the figure as he thinks fit. I confess had the Church excepted against the imposition of hands in absolution: had she condemned the ceremony thus applied, and laid a general prohibition upon it: her members ought to govern themselves accordingly, and not to use it, so much as in private: but since the Church prescribes this rite in her rubric, and takes notice of it only by way of practice and approbation: when matters stand thus, I say, her non-prohibition implies allowance in private ministrations, and in cases no way determined by herself. For pray what is liberty, but the absence of command, the silence of authority, and leaving things in their natural indifferency? Thus the point was understood and practised by the famous Bishop Sanderson, upon one of the most solemn occasions, and in which himself was most nearly concerned. This eminent casuist about a day before his death, desired his Chaplain Mr. Pullin, to give him absolution: and at his performing that office he pulled of his cap, that Mr. Pullin might lay his hand upon his bare head."[18]

This is a curious, and by no means an uninteresting question: and whatever we may think of Collier's prudence in using the ceremony of imposition of hands, we certainly cannot allege that he was guilty of any crime. It was unwise on the part of the government to prosecute him for such an act, and on the part of the Archbishops and Bishops to publish a Document with so much solemnity. The thing was magnified into a matter of importance by the proceedings of the government and the Bishops. It can scarcely be supposed, that a clergyman in repeating the Absolution from the order "For the Visitation of the Sick," in a sick room, is restrained from placing his hands upon the head of the individual, if he be so disposed. All ceremonies must necessarily be performed with some attendant circumstances. The Absolution is to be repeated: but the Church does not prescribe the particular manner. As, however, it relates to an individual, and not to a congregation, it seems reasonable to suppose, that the placing the hand, on the head of the sick person, is a ceremony innocent in itself, though significant to the individual, and such as the Church could scarcely mean to prohibit, if the Clergy should feel disposed to adopt it, in their private ministrations.[19]

Collier published another pamphlet on the same subject in reply to a fresh attack. This was entitled "A Reply to the Absolution of a Penitent, according to the Directions of the Church of England, &c. &c." The same arguments are enforced with Collier's usual ability.[20]

Sir John Fenwick also was brought to trial, the same year, for conspiring against the government. There were, however, difficulties in his case, which might have led to his acquittal by a jury: and therefore he was proceeded against in Parliament by way of attainder, a practice not uncommon in those times. Nelson was induced, by Sir John's wife, to apply to Tennison to procure his support against the attainder; but the Archbishop replied, that, as he considered him guilty, he could not declare him innocent. All interposition, therefore, in his favour failed: and he was condemned and executed. The majority for the Bill in the Lords was only seven; so that the government might reasonably have spared his life; and it is evident, that a jury would not have found him guilty, in a case in which the penalty was death. He avowed himself a member of the Church of England: and he was permitted to seek the aid of any of the clergy, who had taken the Oaths: or any of the Bishops, who had opposed the Bill of Attainder against him. On his refusal, the names of three or four Nonjurors were mentioned to him; but these individuals declined to attend, on the ground, that the Oaths might be tendered to them, and that, on their non-compliance, they might stand convicted. This circumstance shews the distressing state of fear and apprehension, in which the Nonjuring Clergy were placed, and how ready the authorities were to lay hold of any thing, which might occur to their disadvantage.[21] The Author of the Letter in the State Tracts says, they might as well have trusted the honour of the government as live under its protection; but surely the cases were very dissimilar.[22]

White, the deprived Bp. of Peterborough, died in the year 1698, having lived in retirement since his deprivation. The circumstance is thus mentioned by Evelyn: "June 5. Dr. White, late Bishop of Peterborough, who had been deprived for not complying with government, was buried in St. Gregory's Churchyard or Vault, at St. Paul's. His hearse was accompanied by two Nonjuror Bishops, Dr. Turner of Ely, and Dr. Lloyd, with forty Nonjuror Clergymen, who could not stay the office of the burial, because the Dean of St. Paul's had appointed a conforming minister to read the office, at which all much wondered, there being nothing in that office which mentioned the present King."[23] Certainly, the retirement from the grave was a singular circumstance, and contrary to their practice in many other cases, in which they attended at those services, which did not mention the name of the reigning sovereign.

The succession to the throne was a question of serious and anxious consideration during this reign. Having excluded one sovereign on account of his faith, the country decided that none but a Protestant should be permitted to reign. Anne, the second daughter of King James, was next in succession to King William, according to the settlement made at the Revolution: but the death of her son, the Duke of Gloucester, in the year 1700, filled the nation with alarm, and pointed out the necessity of taking some further step, in this very important matter, especially as there was no prospect of other issue from the Princess. To cut off the hopes, therefore, of the Jacobites, a new settlement was made. Besides James's son, respecting whose legitimacy there was no reason whatever to doubt, there were, first, the Duchess of Savoy, the daughter of Henrietta, the sister of Charles II., and secondly, several of the Palatine Family. But all these were Roman Catholics; and though some of them might have embraced Protestantism, in the hope of ascending the English throne, yet the Parliament were resolved not to offer them such a temptation. It was determined that all Roman Catholics should be excluded: and, therefore, the Princess Sophia of Brunswick, the grandaughter of James I. and the next Protestant heir, was made the source of the new line.

In this settlement, all parties acted with much craft and dissimulation, except the Nonjurors, who remained true to their principles, even though they might be erroneous. The question of the settlement was accomplished chiefly by the Tories, under the guidance of Harley.[24] The Princess Anne, it was thought, would favour her brother's cause: so that the Jacobites and the Nonjurors looked forward, with satisfaction, to her accession. "For six years she had maintained a fair correspondence with her Father, full of assurances of duty and expressions of repentance." She wrote, however, to ask him if he would allow her to succeed according to the Act of Settlement, in the event of William's death, urging that she should thereby serve her Father. James was displeased, and the proposal was not entertained.[25] Still the friends of the late King continued to look to the Princess. Even William was indifferent respecting the future, provided the crown was secured to him during his own life. Circumstances, which were unknown at the time, have since been brought to light by the production of documentary Papers. Thus, in 1697, in the negotiations for a Peace, William secretly entered into an arrangement in favour of James's son. "Lewis, unwilling to desert James, proposed, that the Prince of Wales should succeed to the crown after the death of William. The King with little hesitation agreed to this request. He even solemnly engaged to procure the repeal of the act of Settlement, and to declare by another, the Prince of Wales his successor in the throne. Those, who ascribe all the actions of William to public spirit, will find some difficulty in reconciling this transaction to their elevated opinion of his character. In one concession to France, he yielded all his professions to England; and, by an act of indiscretion, or through indifference, deserted the principles, to which he owed the throne. The deliverance of the nation, however, was not the sole object of this Prince. The projected peace was to secure the crown in his possession for his life. The successors provided by the Act of Settlement, he either despised or abhorred. Though James had displeased the nation, he had not injured William. The son had offended neither. The supposed spuriousness of his birth, had been only held forth to amuse the vulgar."[26]

This project, however, was defeated by King James, who would not allow his son to be made a party to such an arrangement. Thus did James sacrifice the only prospect of the restoration of his family.[27] Still from the general dislike of the nation to George I. it has been supposed, even by Mr. Hallam, that the Pretender might have obtained the throne, if he had embraced Protestantism.

We must now revert to the controversy arising from the deprivation of the Bishops, in which we left Dodwell engaged in the year 1692. It was not until the year 1695 that Dodwell published his Defence of the Vindication, in reply to Hody.[28] In this work he contends that the oath of canonical obedience to the deprived Bishops was binding. This argument explains Dodwell's subsequent views, when, after Lloyd's death, Ken ceased to claim the submission of the Clergy; and it is quite consistent with his return to the established Church at that time. It is a most elaborate and able performance.[29]

It will be seen from the title page of the preceding work, that a treatise on The Independency of the Clergy of the Lay-power was intended to accompany the volume. From some unknown cause this treatise was suppressed in 1695. The author of his Life states, that it was suppressed because it could not be answered.[30] At all events, it was published as a separate work in 1697. It appears strange, that any interference should have been employed, to prevent the free and full discussion of a subject of so much interest. Dodwell enters fully into the question, which had been raised by Hody, relative to the deprivations at the commencement of the reign of Queen Elizabeth: and, after pointing out the dissimilarity between the two cases, he admits that, if the recent deprivation had been synodical, even though unjust, they ought to have submitted. Kettlewell, on the other hand, denied this position, contending that it would be a sin to submit to such deprivations.[31] The difference between these two eminent men was very material. In Dodwell's case, his principle led him only to continue the separation during the lives of the deprived Bishops: while Kettlewell's went to perpetuate it by new consecrations. This point, however, will necessarily come under our notice in another chapter.

On Nov. 2nd, in the year 1700, Turner, the deprived Bishop of Ely, died in very straitened circumstances. So that now three only of the deprived Prelates, Lloyd, Ken, and Frampton, survived. Bp. Nicolson, writing to the Earl of Thanet, says: "My Lord, the deprived Bishop of Ely is (to my knowledge) in very needy circumstances: having a large family, and no support out of the common bank of charity: but if your Lordship thinks fit to have Mr. Carlton's sum thrown together into the public stock, your commands will be punctually observed."[32] This letter is dated 1706, consequently there must be an error in the date or the name, as Turner died in 1700. But in either case the circumstance shews the sad state in which the deprived Bishops were placed, and how much they suffered for conscience sake. Probably none of their detractors ever suffered for conscience. He had lived in retirement since his deprivation: and was buried in the chancel of the church of Therfield, Herts, of which place he had formerly been rector. One word only was inscribed on the stone by which his mortal remains were covered, Expergiscar! He was a man of considerable eminence and of great sincerity.

King James died on the sixth of September 1701, at St. Germains, after which the King of France recognized James's son as King of England, Scotland, and Ireland. This led to certain Parliamentary enactments against him under the designation of the Pretender, the name by which he is usually known in English history. Thus an Act was passed for securing the succession, and for extinguishing the hopes of the pretended Prince of Wales. All official persons, including ecclesiastics, were required to take an Oath of Abjuration before the 1st of August 1702, the penalty of refusal being the forfeiture of their posts or preferments.[33] Thomas Turner, brother of the deprived Bishop of Ely, who complied at the Revolution, stumbled at the Abjuration Oath. He went, on the passing of the Abjuration Act, from London to Oxford, with the intention of not taking the Oath. He did not, however, resign his preferments: nor was he called upon to take the Oath: so that he held all his places until his death in 1714. But in most cases the Oath was required to be taken, and especially in those which were suspected. It was an impolitic act, since it grieved the consciences of many good men, and really did nothing towards strengthening the government. Not a few of the Nonjurors would have complied, after King James's death, but for this Oath of Abjuration. They considered themselves released from their Oath to King James by his death: and they would have submitted to the government. But they looked upon the Oath of Abjuration of the rights of the Pretender as so unnecessary, that they could not take it: and even some, who had formerly complied, now became Nonjurors. Whiston tells us: "Mr. Billers and Mr. Baker, who loved their religion and their country as well as any jurors whomsoever, but having once taken an oath to King James, could not satisfy their consciences in breaking it, while he lived, for any consideration whatsoever. I well remember that when King James died, which was in 1701, they began to deliberate about taking the Oath, and coming into the government, till the unhappy Abjuration Oath, which was made the same year, had such clauses as stopped all their farther deliberations."[34]

Ken too was deeply distressed at this new Oath. Writing to his friend Harbin, he says: "I am troubled to see the nation likely to be involved in new universal oaths, but hope they will be imposed on none but those who were employed or promoted in Church and State."[35] The Oath made William rightful King, at which many were staggered, who were willing to render him allegiance, and who would not endeavour to disturb his government. It was almost the last thing that William did. Indeed the Bill was signed by Commission, as the King was too ill to attend in Parliament for that purpose. King William died on the 8th of March 1701-2.

From the various statements of the preceding pages, it will be seen that King William was not influenced, as some of his panegyrists have insinuated, only by a desire to promote the civil and religious liberties of the people of England. He sought his own interest, at all events, as well as that of the public. Since his death, many things have transpired, which prove that he was determined, if possible, to ascend the English throne, though the Church and the country might have been saved by the establishment of a regency in the person of the Prince of Orange.[36] Undoubtedly a signal deliverance was wrought for the country in 1688: and the present generation have reason to be thankful for the interposition of King William: but our gratitude must not make us blind to his errors, or lead us to represent him as free from selfish and sinister motives. That all his proceedings were overruled, for the welfare of the nation, we have reason to be abundantly thankful: still the success must not be attributed to William's intentions, or to his disinterested conduct; for the preceding pages shew, that he did not, on all occasions, adhere to rigid principles of virtue. A concurrence of circumstances, as I have shewn, favoured his enterprise: but had he fairly and honestly told the people of England, in his First Declaration, that he was coming to seat himself upon the throne of his father-in-law, much as they were opposed to King James's measures, and great as were their fears of the introduction of popery, they would not have accepted deliverance on such terms. While, then, we have reason to be grateful, that the events of the Revolution were so graciously overruled, we have also much cause for gratitude to Almighty God, that the various motives of many of the actors were not so marked, by the Divine displeasure, as to involve the nation in trouble and confusion."[37]


  1. Ralph, ii. 535, 536.
  2. Some Discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson, occasioned by the Funeral Sermon of the Former upon the Latter. 4to. 1695. Preface, and pp. 72, 73.
  3. The Charge of Socinianism against Dr. Tillotson considered, &c. By a true Son of the Church of England, 4to. 1695. Birch's Life of Tillotson, 322—324.
  4. Remarks upon the Life of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, compiled by Thomas Birch, D.D. 8vo. London 1754. pp. 45, 79, 80.
  5. Ralph, ii. 536.
  6. Some Discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson, &c. &c. pp. 12, 13. Some curious particulars of Burnet, though of a different description, are given in this work by Hickes. In the year 1673, he published "A Vindication of the Authority, Constitution, and Laws of the Church and State of Scotland," with a Dedication of a highly laudatory character to the Duke of Lauderdale. A large number of copies was sold by the author to Moses Pitt. Some time after, Burnet quarrelled with the Duke, on which account he requested Pitt to cancel the Dedication in the unsold copies. Pitt replied that he could not sell an imperfect as a perfect book. Burnet, therefore, received the unsold copies again, and they were afterward circulated in a mutilated form: so that when Hickes wrote in 1695 it was difficult to meet with a perfect copy. Ibid. p. 19. At present the book is met with in both states, some copies having the Dedication, others being destitute of it. It is singular that Burnet's Work on the Articles, the work by which perhaps he is best known, should have been condemned by the Lower House of Convocation, on the ground that it encouraged diversities of opinions, which the Articles were especially intended to prevent. His "Own Times" is a work full of gossip: but he did a service to the Church in his "History of the Reformation."
  7. Calamy's Abridgement.
  8. Ibid. App. These extracts are from the model.
  9. Kettlewell’s Works, i. 177, 187, and Appendix.
  10. Kettlewell's Works, Life, 163, 169, and Appendix, xxv-vii. It seems not to have been an unusual thing to enter the private meetings of the Nonjurors. Thus, it is said, that Grascome was interrupted by a Messenger, while he was ministering to his little congregation in Scroop's Court, near St. Andrew's Church. Ralph, ii. 526.
  11. Hawkins's Short Account, pp. 48—56. Kettlewell. Appendix, pp. xxviii-ix. Biog. Brit. Art. Ken.
  12. State Tracts, vol. iii. 692-3. Ralph remarks, that among the Bishops "were Crew of Durham, Mew of Winchester, and Sprat of Rochester." Vol. ii. 646. These three Prelates had acted very inconsistently in the preceding reign.
  13. Life of Tennison, 60, 61.
  14. A Letter to the Three Absolvers, Mr. Cook, Mr. Collier, and Mr. Snatt, being reflections on the Papers delivered by Sir John Friend, and Sir William Parkyns, to the Sheriffs of London. At Tyburn, April 3, 1696, which said paragraphs are printed at length and answered, paragraph by paragraph. Fol. London, 1696.
  15. A Defence of the Absolution given to Sir William Perkins at the Place of Execution. With a further Vindication thereof, occasioned by a Paper, entitled, a Declaration of the Sense of the Archbishops and Bishops, &c.
  16. Defence, &c. p. 1.
  17. Defence, &c. p. 9.
  18. An Answer to the Animadversions on the Two Pamphlets lately published by Mr. Collier, &c. 4to. pp. 9, 10.
  19. Ralph remarks, "though it should be acknowledged, that a more seditious use could scarce be made of the Priestly Office, there was more of passion than policy in the methods taken to punish these men for this misdemeanour: where there is no law there is no transgression: and yet the Grand Jury were prevailed upon by a remonstrance from the Bench, exhibited by Chief Justice Holt, to present the said clergymen, for having countenanced the treason by absolving the traitors." Vol. ii. 646.
  20. Evelyn says, April 19th, "Greater offence taken at the three ministers, who absolved Sir William Perkins and Friend at Tyburn. One of them (Snatt) was a son of my old schoolmaster. This produced much altercation as to the canonicalnesse of the action." Vol. iii. 350, 351. The circumstance is also alluded to by Galamy under the same date. Calamy's Life, vol. i. 382, 383.
  21. State Tracts, vol. ii. 561.
  22. The severity of the Government appears to have caused a reaction in favour of the Nonjurors. Whiston, speaking of Lloyd, Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, says: "I remember to have heard him once say, that after the Assassination Plot, a.d. 1696, the odium of it was so great, that not a Jacobite would have remained in the nation, had not the extreme rigour of the following Act of Parliament against those, who would not sign an association, kept up the spirit of opposition to the government ever afterward." Whiston's Memoirs, 132.
  23. Evelyn, iii. 364, 365.
  24. Hallam, Hi. 246, Macpherson, ii. 187.
  25. Macpherson, ii. 121.
  26. Macpherson, ii. 123-4.
  27. Ibid. 125.
  28. A Defence of the Vindication of the deprived Bishops. Wherein the case of Abiathar is particularly considered, and the invalidity of lay deprivations is further proved, from the doctrine received under the Old Testament, continued in the first ages of Christianity, and from our own fundamental laws. In a reply to Dr. Hody and another author. To which is annexed the doctrine of the Church of England, concerning the independency of the Clergy on the lay-power, as to those rights of theirs which are purely spiritual, reconciled with our oath of supremacy and the lay deprivations of the Popish Bishops in the beginning of the Reformation. By the author of the Vindication of the deprived Bishops. London. 4to. 1695.
  29. See the Defence, &e. See also Dodwell's Life, for an abstract, 254, 267.
  30. Dodwell's Life, 268.
  31. Kettlewell's Life, 126.
  32. Nicolson's Epistolary Correspondence, i. 305.
  33. Life of Queen Anne, i. 64.
  34. Whiston's Memoirs, p. 32. Mr. Hallam very justly remarks of this new Oath: "Of all sophistry that weakens moral obligation, that is the most pardonable which men employ to escape from this species of tyranny. The state may reasonably make an entire and heartfelt attachment to its authority the condition of civil trust: but nothing more than a promise of peaceable obedience can justly be exacted from those who ask only to obey in peace." iii. 265. Baker wrote Socius Ejectus on his books. See Life, 34.
  35. Bowles's Ken, i. 228.
  36. Mr. Hallam, speaking of the opinions of the actors in the Revolution, admits the risk which was incurred. "Notwithstanding the splendid success of the opposite counsels, it would be judging too servilely by the event, not to admit that they were tremendously hazardous." iii. 111.
  37. King William's views and motives, in coming into England, have been considered in a former chapter: but I wish to add, in reference to his Declaration respecting the Prince of Wales, the following passages from Mr. Hallam. "It is the only part of the Declaration that is false." And again: "It cannot be said without absurdity, that James was guilty of any offence in becoming the father of this child: yet it was evidently that which rendered his other offences inexpiable." Hallam, iii. 112, 113.