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NONCONFORMITY UNDER THE "CLARENDON CODE"
THE disintegration of Puritanism was accompanied by a rise of religious free-thinkers, the growth of the Royal Society, and a period of social unrest which made the restoration of Charles II. inevitable. Negotiations with the exiled court were begun with amazingly quick results. In his Declaration from Breda Charles promised liberty to tender consciences, subject to the approval of Parliament, and agreed to use his power in securing a religious settlement. This declaration accomplished its purpose by creating false hopes and the king returned in 1660 amid unrestrained expressions of joy. The objection of Presbyterians to Episcopacy was in matters of church polity. They thought the system would be modified to suit their tender consciences and that comprehension within the Church would follow. Therefore the Declaration from Breda meant a Presbyterian-Episcopate to this element of Dissent. It meant a different thing however to the other nonconforming bodies. They looked upon "liberty to tender consciences" as giving them the right to a free exercise of worship. They did not care whether the Church was strict or limited; whether the prayer-book was modified or destroyed. Therefore the plea of the "Fanatics" and that of the Presbyterians was different, though it does not seem
1 Address of Anabaptists to the king: "We have sown the wind, and we have reaped a whirlwind; we have sown faction, and we have reaped confusion." Clarendon, History of the Rebellion (Oxford, 1816), III. 806. In the Declaration from Breda, Charles alluded to the confusion as, men engaged in parties and animosities against each other". As late as 1668 they were still in bitter contentions: "In every Town almost which was capable of two Preachers, one Presbyterian and one Independent were planted . . . condemned . . . to Dispute and Preach and Strive." Kennett's Register, June 8, 1662.
2 The king" smoothed them with some good Words, which they, afterwards, most brazenly called Promises ". North, Examen, p. 431; Clarendon, History of the Rebellion, III. 991.
3 Documents relating to the Settlement of the Church of England by the Act of Uniformity, pp. 105-111. Sylvester, Reliquiae Baxterianae or Mr. Richard Baxter's Narrative of the Most Memorable Passage of his Life and Times (London, 1696), with special reference to the Declaration on Ecclesiastical Affairs, pt. 11., pp. 259-264, also 230. It is essential to keep in mind this hope of the Presbyterians all through the struggle. Their ideas and expectations were always different from those of the other nonconforming bodies and it is a mistake to associate them except in a general way. This has been a persistent error which has resulted in giving to the Presbyterians a greater share of suffering than the evidence warrants.
to have come to an issue until October, 1660. The Presbyterians wanted to get into the Church upon a modified basis; the Fanatics were fighting to keep out of the Church upon any terms whatever.
The Presbyterians showed their uncompromising and bitter determination in the struggle that now began. Baxter knew that the king desired a union of the Presbyterians and the Church of England but the king told him that "this Agreement could not be expected to be compass'd by bringing one party over to the other, but by abating something on both Sides". This was refused, "and tho' desired by the King, to read so much of the Liturgy as themselves had no objection against . yet the Honour of their Party, and their Credit, was not to be reconciled". Knowing that the Church
had passed into the hands of Parliament, and that the king desired unity, the Presbyterians felt secure, little suspecting that "the Bishops who had been formerly allowed to persecute by favor of the King in spite of the House of Commons" would have power "to persecute by favor of the House of Commons in spite of the King ". The Fanatics began to realize that the Presbyterian plan was to limit Episcopacy, comprehend Presbyterians, and crush all other Dissent.
A large amount of material has been opened in Devonshire House, London, which throws much light upon this period. This consists of the Quaker records for England. Devonshire House. was the centre into which written reports were sent describing the treatment of Quakers in all parts of England. These reports were transcribed into large volumes called "The Books of Sufferings" and in them we have a picture of the Friends as they lived and suffered under the Restoration. Court trials, fines, imprisonments,
The reasons for nonconformity were reducible to five. Kennett, June 9, 1662. This was clearly shown in the Savoy Conference and the subsequent action of the Fanatics upon the attitude of the Presbyterians who quibbled over allowing "others" to share the benefits of indulgence. Sylvester, Baxter, pt. II., pp. 259-270; H. S. Skeats, History of the Free Churches in England (London, 1869), p. 73. For the attitude of Fanatics see Cal. St. P. Dom., 1660, September to December.
Calamy, An Abridgement of Mr. Baxter's History of his Life and Times (London, 1713), I. 140.
Kennett, 1662, June 29 and August 3.
7 The care with which the Quakers kept the records of their sufferings was due to orders handed down from Devonshire House. They had specific instructions to note everything pertaining to their sect in every part of England and were to send it to Devonshire House to be recorded. Their Yearly Meeting was also held there and at that meeting the affairs of the Friends were carefully discussed and recorded. This meeting directed that one or two Friends be at all assizes and ascertain every possible fact relative to accused Quakers with specific instructions that a report be sent to Devonshire House for record. Thus we find a most minute statement of all that happened to the Friends during this trying
deportations, conventicles, those present, raids made by officers, and all such indispensable information is given in a most minute way. In addition to these Books of Sufferings there is a large collection of Quaker tracts in bound volumes, which are carefully arranged and marked in order of importance. They describe the distraint of goods for fines, enumerate the approximate losses, injury to trade, and such things as they hoped would appeal to the authorities and bring relief. Many duplicates of these tracts are found in the British Museum and elsewhere, but in their isolated situation they have proved quite misleading as they cannot always be identified as Quaker tracts. With the Book of Sufferings as a parallel guide the field is made clear. There is also a great mass of letters and unbound manuscripts at Devonshire House the importance of which has not yet been determined. In these records we discover who those Fanatics were that crowded the jails, suffered such losses, and throughout this period defied the government under the Clarendon Code-they were the Quakers, Anabaptists, and Fifth Monarchists.8 The Presbyterians and Independents were secret in their movements and allowed the law to silence them in a manner unknown period. Through Devonshire House passed all matters of printing, petitions to the king, etc. It engineered questions of finance, borrowed money, and received all collections. The Yearly Meeting was composed of six from London, three from Bristol, two from Colchester, and one or two from each county of England and Wales. On one occasion as much as £500 was sent to Poland from Devonshire House. Yearly Meetings, I. 60-95, Devonshire House, London. Cf. Cal. St. P. Dom., 1663, August 24. To show the care with which they kept their records, there are the names and addresses of 3898 persecutors of the Friends at the end of the Book of Sufferings, III., Devonshire House. It is no wonder that the Quakers could spread news all over England in a week. Cal. St. P. Dom., 1664, March 7. See also A Collection of the Epistles from the Yearly Meeting of Friends in London, 1675-1805 (1806), pp. 5-20. It is evident that Joseph Besse's Collection of the Sufferings of the People called Quakers was largely drawn from these records. For this reason, his work is of more value than is generally thought.
The financial extremity to which the Dissenters were driven has attracted considerable attention. In the absence of documentary evidence students have concluded that it was quite severe. It is only when we get the Stock Book of the Quakers at Devonshire House, giving their receipts and disbursements, that we see how well furnished this sect was. There was no time when they were in need of money. They even conducted foreign missions in the heat of persecution, and contributed large sums to local causes which apparently did not need them. If this was true of the Quakers, what shall we think of the other sects who were never attacked with such violence as they? See Yearly Meetings, I. 87. Also the National Stock Account at Devonshire House.
Seen abundantly elsewhere. Cal. St. P. Dom., 1664, March 7 and June 24. Joseph Allen said in 1662, "Amongst Christians Bellarmine . . . hath this Gradation in his Observation of Sufferers, wherein he placeth the worst first. To suffer (saith he) the Anabaptists were forwardest, the Calvinists next, and the Lutherans very slack. And if it may be no Offence to my Brethren, we may easily note, that with us the Quaker is forwardest, the Anabaptist next, the Independent and the Presbyterian last." Kennett, August 26, 1662.
among the Quakers." These Devonshire House records form the basis for the opinions expressed in this paper.
Episcopacy was fast settling itself upon its old foundations by October 25, 1660. The Presbyterians had made some advance and were hopeful-all other sects were ignored. Whatever the religious settlement would be, it was now clear that it would be arranged between the Presbyterians and the Episcopalians, and that the Fanatics would have to comply, regardless of their wishes. Charles made no attempt to disguise this in his Declaration on Ecclesiastical Affairs. Trouble from the Fanatics was inevitable for they would not yield to any kind of conformity. Between October and January they were active and, smarting under their unhappy condition, were abusive in their private and public utterances. The sects were so different in their temperaments that it is unsafe to speak of them collectively, attributing to them a united activity in one great movement. This has been the persistent error of nonconforming writers. To tell what the Fanatics were doing during this period would necessitate taking up each sect separately. The more violent type, like the Fifth Monarchy Men, later showed that they were planning insurrection. Those of a milder type, as the Anabaptists, were using the pulpit and press in scurrilous denunciation of the higher powers-it must be said to the ruin of themselves and the Presbyterians. Baxter says: "The Sectaries (especially the Anabaptists, Seekers, and Quakers) chose out the most able zealous Ministers, to make the Marks of their Reproach . . . reviling them, and raising up false Reports . . . thro' their Sins have ruin'd themselves and us . . a few Dissenting members did all this."10 This pitiful lament of Baxter deserves no sympathy, for the folly of the Fanatics here depicted was but a reaction against the treachery of the Presbyterians in which the whole body of Dissent fell. It is noteworthy that Baxter here incidentally confesses that the way was paved for the Clarendon Code by the action of the Dissenters-that instead of the code being forced through the hatred of Clarendon, the Dissenters brought it upon themselves by their rash actions.
About the time of the Savoy Conference the controversy assumed a changed aspect. The ignored Fanatics were arrayed against
Contrast paragraphs 429 and 431, p. 436, of Sylvester's Baxter, pt. 11., in which Baxter confesses this identical thing: "The Quakers so employed Sir R. B. and the other Searchers and Prosecutors, that they had the less leisure to look after the Meetings of Soberer men; which was much to their present ease." Again, "The Quakers kept their Meetings openly, and went to Prison for it cheerfully", P. 437. Cal. St. P. Dom., 1664, no. 56, p. 143. According to Potter, the Presbyterians" admit none to their meetings but by ticket, and sometimes exclude their daughters and wives ".
the Presbyterians and Episcopalians." Ralph says, "They even conspired to further the Bill for Uniformity by which the Presbyterians would suffer more than themselves." How true this is we may never know for the literature of the period is more concerned with "broken promises of the King" than with Presbyterian intrigue. Toleration was the thought uppermost in the minds of the Fanatics. But the dispute over toleration and comprehension was settled by the return of the Cavaliers in 1661, guaranteeing the misfortune of Presbyterians and Fanatics.12 The Presbyterians were soon brought to suffer with the same people whom they could have befriended, and suffered at the hands of those whose favor they had courted.
It is the accepted view that Lord Clarendon used these young Cavaliers to secure the four enactments that carry his name: the Corporation Act, 1661; the Act of Uniformity, 1662; the Conventicle Act, 1664; the Five Mile Act, 1665. These acts were supposed to crush Dissent and establish the Church of England, which was the ultimate result. But to regard them as part of an arbitrary plan is more than the evidence seems to warrant. Economic and political conditions evidently influenced this drastic legislation.13
When the Fanatics realized that their hopes for toleration were being lost through the efforts of the Presbyterians for comprehension, certain of the more violent ones rushed out of a meeting-house on Coleman Street in London and terrified the city for three days. A proclamation was immediately issued against all such private meetings and the Corporation Act followed, which prevented Fanatics from holding public office. The proclamation and the
"Sylvester, Baxter, pt. 11., pp. 370-380.
12 A most interesting and minute picture of these young Cavaliers is given in C. B. R. Kent, The Early History of the Tories (London, 1908). This study of the Tories is necessarily bound up with a study of nonconformity and is a most interesting piece of work.
13 Kent, pp. 148 ff. Also Tracts, vol. "C", no. 187, and Select Tracts, vol. 57, Devonshire House. Also Book of Sufferings under date, all of which show that the laws passed against the Fanatics were measures of protection to the state. The state demanded certain visible expressions of loyalty which the Quakers, Fifth Monarchists, and other extremists would not give upon religious grounds, therefore in attempting to force loyalty, persecution followed. The Book of Sufferings makes this clear on almost any page by showing that the disloyalty of which they were accused was the very thing of which they were innocent and at no time does it appear that they thought the state was otherwise concerned. It was not a question of heresy, it was a question of treason: Sovereignty is the design, and godliness is the pretense". Ignoramus Justices, British Museum.
This riot of the Fifth Monarchists, January 6, 1661, was only a visible expression of their treasonable doctrines. It was necessary to stop such conventicles and on January 10, 1661, a proclamation to this end was issued. St. P. Dom., Various, no. 11, p. 38. While the Quakers and Anabaptists had nothing to do with this riot they were affected by the order and very justly so if we