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Corporation Act, being applicable to every sect, produced widespread disorder. The Nonconformists, for the most part of the lower middle class, became implacable, charging the king with broken promises, and threatening all manner of violence. Their meeting-houses being the chief centres for these threatening speeches, were regarded as breeding places of sedition and were shut up by the Conventicle Act. The Act of Uniformity which preceded this demanded that religious worship be conducted in licensed churches and chapels under men better disposed to the government. The form of worship these people had been using also seemed a cause for their treasonable action-hence the demand for the use of that form of worship prescribed by the Church of England.
The last chapters of the Puritan rebellion had just closed when all this began. It is not probable that the Restoration government would take many chances with the very people who had caused its earlier troubles. But instead of these acts quieting the Dissenters, they became more abusive and obstinate. The fourth act shows how gravely the government looked upon the situation. It was a blow at the preachers and school-teachers who were supposed to be the ringleaders of the sedition. They were forbidden to come within five miles of an incorporated town. It is significant that the Clarendon Code extends over a period of five years and that each act grows in severity. This indicates that it was a product of the timesdemanded by conditions. If it were arbitrary legislation, why did it take this course when the parties in power could have accomplished at one stroke that which, according to history, required five years?
From the Restoration to the Revolution England was a storm centre of religious protest out of which came a vast literature. The greater part of it was from the Dissenters and indicates a united think in terms of that day-they refused the oath of allegiance and supremacy and many such things, which marked them as treasonably disposed. This is only another proof that these three were the trouble-makers of that day as the authorities saw it and as we shall later try to show. This proclamation against them was the most natural thing possible, and to pretend that the government was using this as an excuse to further some design, is but a step toward the common error of attempting to palliate by twentieth-century thinking that which to the people of the seventeenth century was inexpressibly horrible. The government was getting ready to handle these three sects and other extremists as early as January 2, 1661, as an order of the king in Council shows. See Kennett under that date, p. 352. They had been gathering from various cities, "meeting at unusual hours and in great numbers ", and many things indicated an alarming situation. See Cal. St. P. Dom., 1660, November 4, 13, 21, 24, December 11, 13, 15, 18, 19, 20, 24, 29, and 1661, January 2. Also Kennett, December 15, 1660. The Quakers, Fifth Monarchists, and Anabaptists were the great sufferers by this proclamation. See Besse, I. 43, 307-310; also Bate, The Declaration of Indulgence, 1672, p. 17.
protest against cruelty and injustice. For the most part it consists of tracts and diaries, though Baxter, Fox, Calamy, and others have left extended works. It is from the tracts, in part, that students have received the impression that there was universal suffering. The important question therefore is, who wrote these tracts? Careful investigation shows that by far the greater number were written by the Quakers and other extremists.15 If this argues anything, it shows who suffered most, and their contents significantly sustain the opinion. If the question be asked why the Quakers, Anabaptists, and Fifth Monarchists suffered most, the answer is found in the fact that the last two were practically anarchists and that the Quakers, because they refused to take an oath, were looked upon as highly dangerous. They were even regarded as a secret society of the Catholics, and upon the Great Rolls of the Pipe they were counted among the Recusants.16
But this does not fully meet the condition. The State Papers, and in fact the entire literature, leave the impression that the Clarendon Code fell with equal weight upon all. Despite the many things that make this view unsatisfactory, little investigation has been made into it. It is not that students openly affirm a universal suffering but they practically reach this position in their conclusions. No one will deny that the Presbyterians and Independents suffered, and that they represented the largest and strongest element of Dissent, but there is no proof that they were the victims about whom we read so much. Undoubtedly there was great suffering among the Presbyterians by the loss of livings in 1662, and the Five Mile Act probably added hardship in 1665.7 The Independents suffered also but their distress was chiefly through the loss of money in church and crown lands. We would not minimize the suffering of these two but the evidence does not seem to show that they were the ones who were rushed into court in great droves, who crowded the jails, who were raided in their meeting-houses and were sold out of house and home to pay fines for violating acts of the Clarendon Code.18
"This is especially true of those tracts depicting actual suffering. See Smith's two volumes in which he has collected the tracts for and against the Quakers. Most of the tracts not written by Fanatics are doctrinal, sermonic, etc. 18 St. P. Dom., Various, 1660–1665, no. 11, p. 62. Also Add. MSS. 20739, Brit. Museum, and Bate, p. 3.
Sylvester, Baxter, pt. II., pp. 432; Pepys, Diary (ed. Bohn, 1875), August 21, 1665; Cal. St. P. Dom., 1662, p. 452.
18 Men like Samuel Parker, brought up among the Sectaries, are very deceiving in their later writings against Dissenters in this matter. For example in his Ecclesiastical Policy all nonconformists are judged according to the erratic follies of those " among whom he was bred". Parker is widely quoted and often misunderstood, and it is from just such contemporary writers that students get a
There seems to have been a definite use for the word "Fanatic " in the literature. Not that it was used of any one sect, but in a broad sense it covered all Dissenters except Presbyterians. The expressions "Anabaptist fanatic", and "Fanatic Fifth Monarchy Men" are common, but rarely, if ever, do we read of Presbyterians as "Fanatics ".19 This is significant, for those who gave the authorities so much trouble, and against whom the government was so active, were persistently spoken of as "Fanatics". There is a logical basis for this, for in 1660 the Dissenters were divided into two parts, the Presbyterians forming one part, while all other Dissenters formed the other part. This was clearly seen by October 25, 1660, when the Presbyterians and the Church of England were arrayed against all others in the struggle over comprehension. The Presbyterians were usually called by their own name, though sometimes they were spoken of as "Schismatics", as in the "Presbyterians and other schismatics ".20 It is not safe to press the terms "Fanatic" or "Schismatic" too far but in a general way the former was used of the violent and persistent offenders, while the latter was used of the more moderate sects. The numerous cases where the terms "Schismatic" and "Fanatic" shade into one another make it difficult to draw clear lines of distinction.21
false view of the character of Dissenters and the extent of their suffering. See Sylvester, Baxter, pt. III., pp. 41. The same thing is true of Bugg in his Progress from Quakerism to Christianity. In early life Bugg was an ardent Quaker, later he was one of their worst enemies.
19 Baxter explains "the true state of the Conformists and Nonconformists in England at this time". Sylvester, Baxter, pt. II., pp. 386, 387. His analysis is lengthy, clear, and convincing. It is in speaking of the Independents that he draws the distinction contended for in this article: "Others of them... addicted to Separations and Divisions . . . have opened the Door to Anabaptists first, and then to all the other Sects. These sects are numerous, some tolerable, and some intolerable and being never incorporated with the rest, are not to be reckoned with them. Many of them (the Behimists, Fifth Monarchists, Quakers and some Anabaptists) are proper Fanaticks." Also Cal. St. P. Dom., 1660, November, p. 382; 1661, December 4; 1663, October 12; 1664, November 18; 1666, July 17. Also Kent, p. 152, n. 1. The word "Fanatic" is said to have come into general use after February 6, 1660, see Bate, p. 7, n. 27.
66 Sometimes Presbyterian seditious Schismatics". Sylvester, Baxter, pt. II., p. 432. There seems to have been a sharp distinction between the "Schismatics and the "Sectarians ": " The Sectarians (as they then called all that were for Liberty of Sects, and for separated Churches) were for the way of Indulgence." Sylvester, Baxter, pt. II., p. 433. Sometimes, however, the Presbyterians are called Sectaries, which is explained by note 31 below. See Cal. St. P. Dom., 1661-1662, p. 209, no. 71; 1661, November 13; cf. 1661, July, p. 50.
21 No one word needs to be more carefully guarded as to its meaning than the word "Presbyterian ". Baxter explains its specific use: 'Here you may note by the way, the fashion of these Times, and the state of the Presbyterians; Any Man that was for a Spiritual serious way of Worship (though he were for moderate Episcopacy and Liturgy), and that lived according to his Profession,
This brings the study to narrower limits in that it marks the Fanatics as those about whom we read as suffering violently. Some of them, like the Quakers, were open and persistent offenders; others, like the Fifth Monarchists, were underhanded and malicious. The Anabaptists were held in grave suspicion, more, however, on account of their supposed progenitors on the Continent than from any actual uprising during the period. A few of their members confirmed this opinion by rash actions.22 The Independents and Baptists were milder than the three above mentioned. The Presbyterians, like the Independents, seem to have been unusually quiet. John Whitehouse went to the expense and trouble of publishing a pamphlet in which he chided them for letting the law silence them.23 These distinctions may seem trivial, but they are essential to an understanding of the literature. They allow us to study the subject analytically and preserve us from false conclusions as to the extent and amount of suffering.
The social standing and general character of the Dissenters is worthy of careful consideration. A brief comparison will show that they were much inferior to the Recusants who stubbornly fought the established Church under Charles I.24 There is a disposition to look upon Calamy, Baxter, Owens, and others, as fair types of Restoration nonconformity, whereas they were much superior to the average sectarian of the time. We find very few was called commonly a Presbyterian, as formerly he was called a Puritan, unless he joyned himself to Independents, Anabaptists, or some other Sect which might afford him a more odious Name. And of the Lords, he that was for Episcopacy and the Liturgy . . . if he conformed not so far as to Subscribe or Swear to the English Diocesan Frame, and all their Impositions. I knew not of any one Lord at Court that was a Presbyterian; yet were the Earl of Manchester (a good Man) and the Earl of Anglesey, and the Lord Hollis called Presbyterians, and as such appointed to direct and help them; when I have heard them plead for moderate Episcopacy and Liturgy my self; and they would have drawn us to yield further than we did.
"And if ever any hereafter shall say, That at King Charles the Second's Restoration, the Presbyterian Cause was pleaded, and that they yielded to all that was in the King's Declaration, I leave it here on Record to the Notice of Posterity, that to the best of my knowledge the Presbyterian Cause was never spoken for, nor were they ever heard to petition for it at all." Sylvester, Baxter,
pt. II., p. 278. Again: "When the King's Declaration was passed, we had a Meeting with the Ministers of London called Presbyterian (that is, all that were not Prelatical, nor of any other Sect)." Ibid., p. 284. Also see Kent, p. 152.
Egerton MSS. 2542, f. 370, Brit. Museum.
John Whitehouse, A Few Words by Way of Query to Presbyterians and Independents, Select Tracts, vol. 69, no. 199, Devonshire House. For confirmation of this see Sylvester, Baxter, pt. 11., p. 436. After the great fire in London, Presbyterians and Independents came boldly into open conventicles, "connived at", says Baxter. Ibid., pt. III., pp. 19, 22.
24 Middlesex County Records, III. 267, 342. Also many places in the Book of Sufferings, as under Bristol, 28 of 6 month, 1683.
"persons of quality", and the number of those who were comfortably furnished may be easily overestimated. But there were prominent merchants and employers numbered among the Dissenters. It seems there were wealthy serge-makers in Plymouth and prominent woolen-workers in Suffolk who employed great numbers who were themselves Dissenters.25 In speaking generally George Fox said, "many tradesmen, and seamen, merchants, and husbandmen, their callings and families have been neglected and wasted" 26 In like manner Chr. Bernard, deputy remembrancer of the Exchequer, drew up "at the King's special command" in 1672 a list of the convictions turned into the Exchequer "with their respective qualities and places of abode" and observes: "None of the nobility are here mentioned" except one who later conformed. "Very few of the considerable gentry of England, it being rare through all this book to meet with the addition of Knight or Sir. In those Counties where I have been able to make inquiry as in Yorkshire, the persons are unknown, or so poor they are scarce worth the penalty of one twentieth. In Suffolk there are persons of quality but such as either in person or their fathers did eminently serve the King."27 In a tract supposed to have been written by Lord Clarendon it is said, "Now upon a just conclusion 'twill appear that the sea-faring man, and the trading part of the nation does in great measure consist of nonconformists and that much of the wealth and stock of the nation is lodged in their hands."28 This statement is confirmed in an order handed down by the justices of the peace at Hicks Hall wherein mention is made of the Tower Hamlets and the nonconformists in those nineteen parishes, "The people for the most part consist of weavers and other manufacturers and of sea-men, watermen, and such as relate to shipping and sea service."29
While the movement itself seems to have drawn its support from the humbler classes, the leaders were frequently people of prominence. We do not here allude to men like Fox, Baxter, or Owens, who had long before distinguished themselves, but a group of leaders less well known though they were people of standing and
25 Tracts, vol. "C", no. 206, Devonshire House. Also Book of Sufferings under Bristol, 8 of 11 month, 1681.
26 Somers Tracts, VIII. 254. "For the King and both Houses of Parl."
23 Second Thoughts, supposed to have been written by "Edward Hyde First Earl of Clarendon ". Brit. Museum.
29 Law Tracts, Trials, etc., September 6, 1684. This was especially true of the Walloons who settled around Canterbury. They hold a more important place in the study of this subject than might at first be thought. See Cal. St. P. Dom., 1661, August 2, October 12, 18, and 21; 1662, September 3, November 3 and 14. and March 20. The society dealing with Huguenot history discusses the Walloons fully.