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The Nonjurors

By S. L. Ollard

From S.L. Ollard and Gordon Crosse, eds. A Dictionary of English Church History

London: Mowbray and Co., Ltd, 1912, pages 411-414.

Transcribed by the Right Reverend Dr. Terry Brown
Bishop of Malaita, Church of the Province of Melanesia, 2007

NONJURORS, The. This name belongs to the clergy and laity who scrupled to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, 1689, on the ground that they were still bound by their former oath to James II., 'his heirs and lawful successors.' If it had been possible to constitute William and Mary regents there need have been no Nonjurors, but, 7th February 1689, the Convention recognised the Prince and Princess of Orange as sovereigns of England, and the first means taken to secure the stability of this settlement was the imposition of an oath of allegiance. This was ordered to be taken before 1st August by all ecclesiastics, under pain of suspension. Six months' grace was allowed before deprivation. Nine English bishops, fearing to violate their consciences, refused the oath; they were Archbishop Sancroft (q.v.), Bishops Ken (q.v.), Turner (Ely), Lake (Chichester), White (Peterborough)--who had all been among those sent to the Tower by James II. [SEVEN BISHOPS]--Cartwright (q.v.), Frampton (Gloucester), Lloyd (Norwich), and Thomas (Worcester). One Irish bishop, Sheridan of Kilmore and Ardagh, and practically the whole Scots clergy, bishops, and priests, were in the same case. Three of the English' bishops--Cartwright, Thomas, and Lake--died before their deprivation, the last two each making solemn dying declarations of their reasons for refusing the oath. With [410/411] these bishops were about four hundred clergy and some eminent laymen.

The separation of the Nonjurors thus appears at first political, yet for a century past the English Church had taught so insistently the complementary doctrines of Non-resistance and Passive Obedience that politics and churchmanship were inextricably mixed. Bishop Lake in his dying declaration (27th August 1689) says that he took these doctrines (Non-resistance and Passive Obedience) 'to be the distinguishing character of the Church of England'; and Ken in his will declares 'that he dies in the communion of the Church of England . . . as it adheres to the doctrine of the Cross,' by which he meant the doctrine of Passive Obedience, following Kettlewell (see Kettlewell, Complete Works, i. 167; ii. 143-4).

Non-resistance was taught in the Homily on Wilful Disobedience (1569), and was the doctrine that rebellion of subjects against their prince was in every conceivable instance a grievous sin. Passive Obedience was the attitude to be adopted by the subject towards unlawful commands of his prince. No one was bound to concur in their execution, but no subject must resist them by arms. These doctrines, which involved further the Divine Right of Kings, 'were held as against "Papists" who set the Pope, and "plebists" who set the people, above the Lord's Anointed.'

But to 'the State point ' was soon added a 'Church point.' The bishops and clergy deprived in 1690 were deprived solely by Act of Parliament. There was no attempt at any canonical sentence, and whatever may be said for the necessities of the time, this was a grave violation of Church order. Many of the best churchmen who had taken the oaths refused sees thus irregularly declared vacant, as South (q.v.), Sharp (q.v.), and Beveridge. The sees were kept open for a time in the hope that the deprived bishops might return, and no bishops were consecrated to fill them until the summer of 1691.

Meanwhile the deprived bishops considered they held their canonical rights to the obedience of their clergy. Sancroft, urged by Bishops Lloyd and Turner, determined to continue the succession of bishops, since many of the English prelates were, in the Nonjuring view, schismatical intruders. The old archbishop delegated all his archiepiscopal powers to Lloyd, 9th February 1692. The question of the new consecrations divided the moderate from the more thoroughgoing party. Frampton stood apart from it, and Ken, though reluctantly giving his consent to the act, frankly disliked it. Great pains were taken to act constitutionally. The Suffragan Bishops Act (26 Hen. VIII. c. 14) was relied on since no 'election' was possible. Dr. Hickes (q.v.) was sent, May 1693, to James II. with a list of names. The King selected Hickes and Wagstaffe (q.v.), who were consecrated with great secrecy, 24th February 1694, by Lloyd, Turner, and White.

The accession of Anne might have done something to heal the schism, for James II. had died, 1701, but for an 'Abjuration Oath' ordered by one of the last Acts of William III., 1701 (13 Will. III. c. 6), which required as a qualification for all office in Church or State an abjuration of 'the pretended Prince of Wales.' In 1714 another Act (1 Geo. I. st. 2, c. 13) imposed on all who held a public post of more than £5 annual value an oath that 'George I. was rightful and lawful King, and that the person pretending to be Prince of Wales had not any right or title whatsoever.'

These later oaths were a blunder, since they prevented the return of many. The deprived clergy were by no means political Jacobites; they were not as a body engaged in plots for the return of the exiled family. They were scrupulous churchmen, who gave up income and position rather than violate the sanctity of their oaths. Queen Anne's churchmanship, the death of Ken, the last of the 'Deprived Fathers,' 1711, with his known wish to heal the schism, induced the more moderate Nonjurors to return to the English Church. Hickes and the stricter sort remained uncompromising, and in 1713, with the assistance of two Scots bishops, he consecrated Jeremy Collier (q.v.), Spinckes, and Hawes to the episcopate. These bishops took no territorial titles, and were consecrated 'not as Diocesan but as Catholic successors' to the bishops originally deprived. In 1716 two important movements took place. The Nonjurors attempted to establish communion with the Eastern Church by negotiations which lasted over nine years. [REUNION, II.] If some of their suggestions were fanciful, yet the Nonjuring bishops were uncompromising in their firmness to what they held to be the truth. In the same year the controversy on 'the Usages' began. Bishop Hickes, like other Anglican divines before and after him, had preferred the Communion Office in the 1549 Prayer Book to that of 1662. He had used the 1549 Office in his oratory in Scroope's Court, and had reprinted it in an appendix to his Christian Priesthood. In July 1716 it was proposed among the Nonjurors to use the [411/412] Liturgy of 1549. Meetings and discussions followed. The majority were against change. Collier with the most learned liturgiologists, Brett, and the Scots bishop Campbell, urged the addition to the 1662 book of what were termed 'the Usages.' These were (1) the Mixed Chalice at the Eucharist; (2) public prayer for the Faithful Departed; (3) prayer for the descent of the Holy Ghost on the Oblations; (4) the Prayer of Oblation of the Consecrated Sacrament, from the Book of 1549.

Thomas Deacon, later a bishop, then a very young priest, took an active part in favour of the Usages. Some Nonjurors, indeed, considered the Usages essential. Finally, in 1718, a new service-book, the work of Collier, Brett, and Deacon, was composed and published. It was largely the Liturgy of 1549, with additions and alterations from primitive Eastern sources. It contained further Offices for Confirmation (in which the Chrism and Sign of the Cross were restored) and the Visitation of the Sick (where Unction is prescribed). It was formally authorised for use by Collier, 11th March 1719. Meanwhile more consecrations had taken place. Dr. T. Brett and Henry Gandy, consecrated on 25th January 1716 in Mr. Gandy's chapel, were both men of learning and distinction. Brett was a member of an old Kent family, wealthy, and had been a country rector. Gandy had been a well-known Fellow of Oriel, Oxford, but had lost his preferment at the Revolution. He had succeeded Hickes at the oratory in Scroope's Court. After 1719 the 'Usagers' and 'Nonusagers' remained apart, each side consecrating bishops. On the Non-usager side Hilkiah Bedford and Ralph Taylor were consecrated, 25th January 1721, in Dr. R. Rawlinson's chapel at Gray's Inn. Taylor had been chaplain to the English churchmen at St. Germans. He consecrated two bishops alone and on his own authority. On the Non-usager side were also consecrated Henry Doughty (by four Scots bishops at Edinburgh, 30th March 1725, at the request, however, of Collier and Spinckes), John Blackbourne (Ascension Day, 6th May 1725, at Gray's Inn), Henry Hall (11th June 1725 at Gray's Inn), and Richard Rawlinson, the famous antiquary, 25th March 1728, at the chapel in Scroope's Court, Holborn. On the Usager side there had been consecrated John Griffin (25th November 1722) and Thomas Brett, junior (9th April 1727). George Smith was consecrated by Non-usager bishops, 26th December 1728, and to his good offices and those of Dr. Brett on the other side, is chiefly due the healing of the division, for bishops of both sides united in consecrating Timothy Mawman, 17th July 1731. A year later the separation, as far as the main body went, was formally healed. An 'Instrument of Union' was signed in London, 17th April 1732, by both the Bretts on behalf of the Usagers, and by Gandy and Rawlinson (for himself and for G. Smith) for the Non-usagers, by which the Usagers agreed to give up their 'New Office' after the following 1st September and to celebrate according to the form used in the 'Established Liturgy.' Phrases in that Office were stated, however, to be understood in the sense of the Usagers (Prayers for the Dead and Invocation of the Holy Spirit), and a little water was 'always to be privately mix'd with the Sacramental Wine before it be placed upon the Altar.' Further, it was agreed 'to consecrate at first rather more than sufficient for all the Communicants that there may never be any need of a Second Consecration.' (The documents printed in Athenæum, No. 4254, 8th May 1909.) Bishop Blackbourne is said to have stood apart from this union till his death, 1741. He was a saintly old man, and lived in London, 'almost lost to the world, and hid among old books.' He answered one who inquired if he belonged to Blackbourne's diocese. 'Dear friend, we leave the sees open, that the gentlemen who now unjustly possess them, upon the restoration, may, if they please, return to their duty, and be continued. We content ourselves with full episcopal power as suffragans.' It is an exact illustration of the position claimed by the later Nonjuring bishops. The last of the regular line was Robert Gordon, or Gordoun, consecrated 11th June 1741. He ministered at an oratory in or near Theobald's Road, London, and from an account of his services in 1764 appears to have returned to some of the Usages. In 1777 he commended his flock to the Scots bishops after his death, which occurred in November 1779. Their bishops were not the only distinguished Nonjurors. Among the priests were John Kettlewell (1653-95), a master among English devotional writers; Charles Leslie (1650-1722), the deprived Chancellor of Connor, whose brilliant gifts were used in defence of the Christian faith specially against the Deists, but who dealt with almost all the opponents of the Anglican position in turn (the publication of a complete edition of his works at Oxford, 1832, was the herald of the Oxford Movement, q.v.); William Law (q.v.) (1686-1761); Thomas Carte (1686-1754), a distinguished historian; and Thomas Baker (1656-1740), a Nonjuror of the type of [412/413] Ken, and one of the most learned antiquaries of the University of Cambridge. Among lay Nonjurors: Robert Nelson (q.v.); Francis Cherry (1665-1713), the cultivated Berkshire squire, and patron of Hearne; and Henry Dodwell (1641-1711), the learned Camden Reader in Ancient History at Oxford, returned to the National Church in 1710; Thomas Hearne (1678-1735), most famous of English antiquaries; Samuel Jebb (16941772) and his son, Sir Richard Jebb (1729-89), were among Nonjuring physicians. John Byrom (1692-1763), the poet (and author of 'Christians, awake'), though not strictly a Nonjuror, for he never refused the oaths, was both in theology and politics really of their body.

Two irregular successions of Nonjuring bishops demand notice. Bishop Ralph Taylor in 1722 (the year of his own consecration and death) consecrated Dr. Richard Welton and a Mr. Talbot as bishops for the American colonies. The act was irregular and uncanonical, since by Church law three bishops are required for a regular consecration. Necessity in this case may have been held to justify the act. Welton (who had been a well-known London rector) died in 1726, and Talbot probably in 1727. Dr. Timothy Newmarsh is said, on the strength of a MS. note in the possession of the late Dr. F. G. Lee, to have been consecrated by Hall and Welton in the oratory in Gray's Inn, 29th May 1726. Nothing is known of this consecration, and at the date given Welton was on his way from America to Lisbon, where he died in August. Recent investigation has made it practically certain that no such person as 'Bishop Timothy Newmarsh' ever existed, save as the picturesque figment of some imaginative brain, though Dr. Lee believed that he possessed the morse of a cope of this shadowy prelate.

The settlement between Usagers and Nonusagers in 1732 had not been accepted by the Scots bishop Campbell, or by two other learned priests, both friends of Collier, Roger Laurence and Thomas Deacon. Laurence was already famous before he joined the Nonjurors by his treatise, Lay Baptism Invalid, published 1708. It had roused a fierce controversy, in which Bingham (q.v.), Hickes, and many others took part. He was a strong Usager, and in 1733 Bishop Archibald Campbell consecrated him bishop, and Laurence then joined Campbell in consecrating Deacon.

Thomas Deacon (1697-1753), a man of many gifts, was born at Limehouse, the son of a sea-captain, and was ordained deacon, 12th March, and priest, 19th March 1716, in the Scroope's Court oratory by Collier when he was not yet nineteen years old. He was certainly learned and cultivated, and besides his part in the Usages controversy studied medicine under the well-known physician, Richard Meade. He removed to Manchester to practise medicine between 1719-21. He was much respected there as a physician, and he ministered also as a Nonjuring priest. After his consecration in 1733 he put forth a Compleat Collection of Devotions, 1734, which restored many primitive usages, such as Infant Communion, the draught of Milk and Honey after Baptism, and Exorcism of the Possessed. John Wesley (q.v.) gave him suggestions for arranging the Proper Psalms for fast and feast days in his Offices.

Deacon thus became the representative of the old Usager body, and when Bishop Campbell died, 1744, took over the superintendence of the London clergy and laity who had been in communion with Campbell. Deacon's family were deeply involved in the Forty-five. Three of his sons were taken prisoners, one was executed, one died in prison, and the third was transported for life. Deacon himself died at Manchester, 1753, where his tombstone describes him as 'the greatest of sinners and the most unworthy of primitive bishops,' and contains a prayer for his soul and that of his wife. He was a man of wide and deep learning, and was to the end a friend of William Law. Before his death Deacon had consecrated Kenrick Price bishop (8th March 1752). Price was a grocer, but for more than thirty-seven yeas he presided 'over the remnant of the ancient British Church in Manchester, without the least worldly profit.' Bishop Price died in Liverpool, September 1790, and either he or Bishop Deacon had consecrated to the episcopate a very shadowy but interesting figure, P. J. Browne, M.D., who is said to have been in reality Lord John Johnstone, younger son of the Marquis of Annandale. A letter from him occurs in Byrom's Remains. Bishop Browne, dying 17th June 1779, predeceased Bishop Price, who continued the succession, however, by consecrating in 1780 William Cartwright, a son-in-law of Bishop Deacon, an apothecary first in London and after 1769 in Shrewsbury. Bishop Cartwright was a very dignified and benevolent gentleman who ministered to the scattered remnant in Lancashire, and a record exists of a baptism with triune immersion, Chrism, and Communion administered by him, 7th May 1797. In 1761 he issued a book of the Day Hours, 'to be used by all religious Societies where there [413/414] is a Priest and in the Houses of all the Clergy.' Bishop Horsley of St. Asaph, when visiting Shrewsbury, surprised his hearers by maintaining that Bishop Cartwright was as much a bishop as himself. It is recorded that Cartwright used to dress in purple cloth. He died and was buried at Shrewsbury, 14th October 1799. Dr. Seabury, the first bishop of the American Church, seems to have applied indirectly to Bishops Cartwright and Price to know whether he could receive consecration from them. In 1795 Cartwright consecrated Thomas Garnett, who is said to have been 'keeper of the Communion Plate', of the congregation in Manchester. Bishop Garnett consecrated Charles Booth, a watchmaker in Long Millgate, Manchester, who removed to Ireland, where he died in 1805. With him the irregular line ended.

There are vague reports of Nonjuring congregations lingering on in the early nineteenth century in the west of England, and Lathbury had been told that a Nonjuring clergyman 'was living so late as the year 1815.' But the term 'Nonjuror' was later often loosely used to describe a strict High Churchman.

Little can be gleaned as to the worship of the Nonjurors. The Non-usagers would not differ from the contemporary practice of the Established Church. The Usagers, however, in 1718, and again after 1734, went further. Bishop Deacon in his portrait in episcopal dress wears a pectoral cross and carries a pastoral staff. The head of the pastoral staff of Bishop Kenrick Price was preserved as late as 1844, and is probably that now in possession of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cowley. A MS. in the Bodleian Library (Add. D. 30) asserts 'on information derived from Mr. Seddon' that the Nonjurors of Dr. Deacon's congregation 'had vestments, candles, etc., same as Catholics, dipped infants, and did not believe in Transubstantiation.' An extract from the New Manchester Guide, 1815, records that in 1815 the Nonjurors had no place of worship, says that Bishop Thomas Garnett 'sold the plate' at Halifax, and that his successor, Bishop Booth, 'burned his books in the street.' A small box containing a glass chalice, paten, flagon, and a corporal, probably belonging to Bishop Deacon, was given to the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Cowley, in 1906. Described as 'a medicine chest, together with two Nonjuring Devotional books,' it had been bought in Manchester by Dr. Sedgwick in the nineteenth century.

The Nonjuring secession was a grievous blow to the English Church. Eminent alike for their piety and learning, these men, who preferred poverty to perjury, were the type of clergy and laity who are the glory of the Church in every age. Posterity has dealt unjustly by them. Even Dr. Johnson repeated the unworthy slander of Colley Cibber, who in his adaptation of Molière's Tartuffe changed the title to The Nonjuror. More recent research has done them truer justice. Harassed by penal laws made by Whig governments, the Nonjurors meekly accepted their lot; they were, for the most part, scholars and gentlemen, and they carried on in their theology the tradition of the Caroline Divines (q.v.), and by preserving the Catholic tradition they were the precursors of the Oxford Movement. The supposed resemblance of the Tractarians to the Nonjurors indeed provoked the fierce invective of Dr. Arnold (q.v.) and the obiter dicta of various bishops, and led to a belief, current in the 'fifties, that the Tractarians were about to form a Nonjuring Church. [S. L. O.]

Lathbury, Hist. of the Nonjurors; Overton, The Nonjurors; H. Broxap, Biography of Thomas Deacon.

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