Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Act of Uniformity, August 24, 1662

After the Interregnum and with the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in England, Parliament also restored the Church of England, a thoroughly Anglican church allowing no variations. Under Parliament and Cromwell in the years before the Church of England had been dismantled and proscribed while various denominations and some radicals had taken over.

With the new Clarendon Code of legislation, the Book of Common Prayer was proclaimed again as the one guide to worship in this Act of Uniformity. The Episcopacy was also restored, and episcopal ordination required. The Book of Common Prayer adopted by Elizabeth I was to be used by all members of the Church of England. The Test Act of James I was revived and strengthened, requiring office holders to take communion in the Church of England and swear the Oath of Supremacy. As Winston Churchill notes in his A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, there was no spirit of compromise in the Cavalier Parliament.

About 2,000 ministers from the Interregnum church left upon this law's passage. Later acts in the Clarendon Code, the Conventicle Act of 1664 and the Five Mile Act of 1665 marginalized those former ministers further preventing them from gathering congregations in private residences or coming within five miles of towns or their former livings or teaching in schools. And the Test Act already referenced meant they would not be able to attend the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford, as they had to swear that oath upon graduation.

It was in the Restoration period that the Authorized Version of the Holy Bible, the King James translation truly became popular, because it symbolized the stability of the Stuart Dynasty and the hierarchy of the Church of England. In rejecting the Interregnum period and restoring the monarchy Parliament and the Church of England sent firm signals that dissent and Puritanism especially were not welcomed or tolerated.


  1. I could study this subject for a thousand years and still not understand it. The Church of England was thoroughly Genevan ( just look at the BCP catechism ). In spite of a Romish leaning garnered here and there from the Carolinian Divines - that were later so trumpeted by the Tractarians in their effort to demonstrate the Catholic nature of their Church - they considered their ministry an office and not an order. I cannot even imagine the fanaticism of the Puritans.

    And on that subject: Visiting old Philadelphia churches in the Society Hill section is very telling. Colonial Presbyterian churches are practically no different from the Anglican churches on the inside.