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The First Restoration Crisis: Conscience and Coercion in London, 1667–73

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2014

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The years between 1667 and 1673 marked a crisis in the English Restoration. This crisis was produced by parliamentary consideration of an act to replace the expiring Conventicle Act of 1664. Hoping for relief from the provisions of the first act, dissenters in London and elsewhere were described by late 1667 as “mighty high and…expect[ing] to have their day now soon.” But having briefly experienced de facto religious freedom, the English nonconformists met with disappointment in 1670 when parliament adopted a second Conventicle Act. The act of 1670 reaffirmed the settlement of religion in an established Church protected by a coercive and persecuting state. Indeed, it offered the Church even greater security than the act of 1664. It provided for the distraint of the goods of those convicted of attending conventicles, and it established fines for justices and magistrates who failed to carry out its provisions. In renewing the policy of persecution, parliament also repudiated arguments made in public and in the prints, since the fall of the Earl of Clarendon, for such other ecclesiastical options as comprehension, toleration, and indulgence. The result of parliament's decision was a crisis—a period of confrontation, throughout the country, between the defenders of conscience and many magistrates charged with the enforcement of religious policy.

Order and Authority: Creating Party in Restoration England
Copyright © North American Conference on British Studies 1993

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1 The Diary of Samuel Pepys, ed. Latham, Robert and Matthews, William, 11 vols. (Berkeley, 19701983), 8: 584Google Scholar; also 9: 30–31,277–78, 398–99; also see The Diary of Bulstrode Whitelocke, 1605–1675, ed. Spalding, Ruth, British Academy Records of Social and Economic History, NS, XIII (Oxford, 1990), pp. 753–54Google Scholar.

2 For the concept of Restoration England as a “persecuting society,” see: Goldie, Mark, “The Theory of Religious Intolerance in Restoration England, “ in Grell, Ole Peter, et. al., eds., From Persecution to Toleration; The Glorious Revolution and Religion in England (Oxford, 1991), pp. 331–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

3 Seaward, Paul, The Cavalier Parliament and the Reconstruction of the Old Regime, 1661–1667 (Cambridge, 1988), pp. 301, 318Google Scholar; Hutton, Ronald, Charles II: King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Oxford, 1989), pp. 266–67, 274–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Greaves, Richard L., Enemies Under His Feet; Radicals and Nonconformists in Britain, 1664–1677 (Stanford, Calif., 1990), pp. 142–45, 153–55Google Scholar. Gordon Schochet is preparing an examination of parliamentary considerations of comprehension and toleration in 1667–68. For a general discussion of these protests, see: Greaves, ibid., pp. 155–66.

4 Scott, Jonathan, Algernon Sidney and the Restoration Crisis, 1677–1683 (Cambridge, 1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 For dissenting arguments on behalf of conscience, see De Krey, Gary S., “Rethinking the Restoration: Dissenting Cases for Conscience, 1667–72,” forthcoming, 1994, Historical JournalGoogle Scholar. Major works published on behalf of conscience in these years included: Locke's, John 1667 “Essay concerning Toleration,” in Bourne, H. R. Fox, The Life of John Locke, 2 vols. (New York, 1876), 1: 174–94Google Scholar and in Locke, John, Scritti Editi e Ineditit. Sulla Tolleranza, ed. and trans. Viano, Carlo A. (Turin, 1961), pp. 81107Google Scholar; Milton, John, Of True Religion, Haeresie, Schism, Toleration (1673) in Complete Prose Works of John Milton, 8 vols. (New Haven, Conn., 19531982), 8: 408–40Google Scholar; Marvell, Andrew, The Rehearsal Transpros'd (1672)Google Scholar, and The Rehearsal Transpros'd; the Second Part (1673), ed. Smith, D. I. B. (Oxford, 1971)Google Scholar; Bunyan, John, The Heavenly Footman (1671?)Google Scholar; Owen, John, Truth and Innocence Vindicated (1669), in The Works of John Owen, vol. 13 (London, 1852), pp. 345506Google Scholar; Ferguson, Robert, A Sober Enquiry into the Nature, Measure, and Principle of Moral Virtue (1672)Google Scholar; Penn, William, The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience (1671), in The Select Works of William Penn, 3 vols. (London, 1825), 3: 128–64Google Scholar; Bethel, Slingsby, The Present Interest of England Stated (1671), in The Interest of the Princes & States of Europe, 3rd. ed. (1689)Google Scholar.

6 Spurr, John, The Restoration Church of England, 1646–1689 (New Haven, Conn., 1991)Google Scholar.

7 Diary of Samuel Pepys, 8: 585Google Scholar; Harris, Tim, “The Bawdy House Riots of 1668,” Historical Journal 29 (1986), 545–47Google Scholar. Also see: BL, Add Ms. 36,916 (Aston Papers, XVI), fos. 107, 137, 139; Turner, G. Lyon, ed., Original Records of Early Nonconformity under Persecution and Indulgence, 3 vols. (19111914), 1: 86, 87, 89, 143Google Scholar; Baxter, Richard, Reliquiae Baxterianae (1696), 3: 1823ffGoogle Scholar; [Withers, George], Vox & Lacrimae Anglorum: or, the true Englishmens Complaints (1668), p. 10Google Scholar; Spurr, , The Restoration Church, pp. 52–53, 199Google Scholar; Seaward, , The Cavalier Parliament, p. 192Google Scholar. The total number of clerical ejections in London and Middlesex was 76: Matthews, A. G., Calamy Revised (Oxford, 1934, 1988), p. xiiGoogle Scholar.

8 CSPD 1671, p. 581.

9 CSPD 1668–69, pp. 420, 616 (quotation); SP 29/207/74; CSPD 1667, p. 240; Diary of Bulstrode Whitelocke, 1605–1675, p. 754; Farnell, James, “The Politics of the City of London (1649–1657)” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1963)Google Scholar; Biographical Dictionary of British Radicals, ed. Greaves, Richard L. and Zaller, Robert, 3 vols. (Brighton, 19821984), 1: 61–62, 2: 155–56Google Scholar; Beaven, Alfred B., The Aldermen of the City of London, 2 vols. (London, 19081913), 2: 247–48Google Scholar. At least one-sixth of the membership of Common Council can be identified as nonconformist by 1670 (see De Krey, Gary S., “The London Whigs and the Exclusion Crisis Reconsidered,” in The First Modern Society, ed. Beier, A. L., Cannadine, David, and Rosenheim, James [Cambridge, 1989], p. 464Google Scholar).

10 CSPD 1668–69, p. 420.

11 BL, Stowe Ms 186, fos. 5–6, reprinted in The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 39 (Nov., 1769), p. 515Google Scholar and by Turner, G. Lyon in Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society, 3 (19071908), pp. 195–96Google Scholar; BL, Add Ms 36,916, fos. 186, 190; CSPD 1671–72, p. 148; Baxter, , Reliquiae Boxterianae, 3: 48Google Scholar; The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell, ed. Margoliouth, H. M., 3rd. ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1971), 2: 350Google Scholar.

12 BL, Add Ms 36,916, fos. 178–79; SP 29/268/47; SP 29/275/18–18A; CSPD 1670, pp. 96, 182; Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, p. 159Google Scholar.

13 Hayes and Jekyll, a member of Thomas Watson's church, had attended the parliamentary debates in the spring in opposition to the Conventicle Act. Grey, , Debates of the House of Commons, 10 vols. (London, 17631769), 1: 297Google Scholar; Woodhead, J. R., The Rulers of London 1660–1689 (London and Middlesex Archeological Society, 1965), pp. 87, 98Google Scholar. Hayes: “Register of all the Names of the Members of the Church of Christ…Bury Street in Duke's Place,” Congregational Library Ms 52.a.38 at Dr. Williams's Library; PRO PROB 11: 341 Pye, qu. 33 (will of Rev. Joseph Caryl). Hayes was brother-in-law to Sir John Hotham Bt. of Yorkshire, a leading opposition MP for much of the Restoration (Henning, Basil D., The House of Commons, 1660–1690, 3 vols. [London, 1983], 2: 584–87Google Scholar). Jekyll, : A Complete Collection of State Trials, ed. Howell, T. B., 13 vols. (18161826), 5: 113–21, 187–88, 191–92Google Scholar; CSPD 1651, pp. 249, 253; PRO PROB 11: 401 Dyke, qu. 155 (will of John Jekyll).

14 Henning, , The House of Commons, 3: 340Google Scholar: Robinson's father was Laud's half-brother.

15 Joyce had secured Charles I for the Army in 1647, and Boteler was one of Cromwell's Major Generals. PRO SP 29/275/104, 152, 173; 29/276/63; CSPD 1670, 209, 220–21, 234, 239–40, 314; BL, Add Ms 39,916, fos. 181–84; Grey, , Debates, 1: 295–96, 305Google Scholar; The Parliamentary Diary of Sir Edward Dering 1670–1673, ed. Henning, Basil Duke (New Haven, 1940), p. 6Google Scholar; Abbott, Wilbur C., “English Conspiracy and Dissent, 1660–1714, II,” American Historical Review 14, 4 (July, 1909): 713–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

16 BL, Add Ms 36,916, fos. 181, 184; Grey, , Debates, 1: 295Google Scholar.

17 For different approaches to dissenting arguments about resistance, see Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 121–29Google Scholar, and De Krey, “Rethinking the Restoration.”

18 In general, see BL, 10260.t.1: Middlesex Sessions Book Calendar, 1664–1673 (vols. 217–301); Greater London Record Office: MJ/SR 1389–90; CLRO: Lord Mayor's Waiting Book, VI, 1670–71; CLRO: 1670 Sessions in Sessions Minutes 33–35 (Sessions Files 201–212); Middlesex County Records, ed., Jaeffreson, John Cordy, 4 vols. (18871892), 4: 1431Google Scholar; Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 154–60Google Scholar.

19 BL, 10360.t.1; Middlesex Sessions Book Calendar, p. 102: Book 270 (August 1670), p. 41.

20 CLRO: Sessions File 201, Recognizance 75 (15 May 1670); Sessions File 203, Gaol Delivery (31 Aug. 1670).

21 Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 136–37Google Scholar; CLRO: Lord Mayor's Waiting Book, VI, fo. 23: 3 July 1670.

22 CLRO: Sessions File 203: Gaol Delivery, 31 Aug 1670; BL, Add Ms 36,916, fo. 188; Grey, , Debates, 1: 294–98Google Scholar.

23 SP 29/276/63.

24 De Krey, “Rethinking the Restoration.” Several different cases for conscience were made in the literature of 1667–73, but these arguments shared a common elevation of individual conscience and personal rights above magisterial authority, a consensual or contractual understanding of the origins of government, an emphasis upon the limitations of political obedience derived from natural law, and an assertion that errant magistrates might release individuals from political obligation entirely. In addition to the dissenting literature cited in n.5 above, also see the following: [Humfrey, John], A Defense of the Proposition (1668)Google Scholar; Humfrey, John, The Obligation of Human Laws Discussed (1671)Google Scholar; Humfrey, John, The Authority of the Magistrate, about Religion, Discussed (1672)Google Scholar; [Humfrey, John], Comprehension Promoted1 [1673 or earlier]Google Scholar; Nye, Philip, The Lawfulness of the Oath of Supremacy, and the Power of the King in Ecclesiastical Affairs (1683, but composed before Nye's death in 1672), pp. 4154Google Scholar; [SirWolseley, Charles], Liberty of Conscience, the Magistrates Interest (1668)Google Scholar; [SirWolseley, Charles], Liberty of Conscience upon its true and proper Grounds Asserted & Vindicated (1668)Google Scholar.

25 CLRO: SF 202 Calendar; CSPD 1670, pp. 254, 264, 275, 300, 312, 566; Marvell, , Poems and Letters, 2: 117–18, 317–18Google Scholar; Grey, , Debates, 1: 294–300, 303–10Google Scholar; Diary of Sir Edward Dering, pp. 4–7, 9–12. Hayes was also accused of having offered the Lord Mayor a bribe not to enforce the new conventicle act. Jekyll dropped his suit after a second appearance before the House.

26 CLRO: SM 34, p. 29; SF 202; [Rudyard, Thomas], The Peoples Antient and Just Liberties asserted, in the Tryal of William Penn, and William Mead (1670), pp. 11, 31, 4748Google Scholar. The authorship of this tract has recently been assigned either to Rudyard alone or to Rudyard and Penn, but it clearly presents Perm's thinking in 1670: The Papers of William Penn, vol. V, ed. Bronner, Edwin B. and Fraser, David (Philadelphia, 1986), p. 119Google Scholar. Most of the pamphlet is reprinted in Cobbett, , State Trials, 6: 9511,000Google Scholar. For recent accounts of the trial, see: Green, Thomas A., Verdict According to Conscience (Chicago, 1985), pp. 229–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Horle, Craig W.; The Quakers and the English Legal System, 1660–1688 (Philadelphia, 1988), pp. 116–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar. For the vigor with which Restoration Quakers confronted the political order, see: Greaves, Richard L., “Shattered Expectations? George Fox, the Quakers, and the Restoration State, 1660–1685,” Albion 24 (Summer, 1992): 237–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

27 Rudyard, , The Peoples Antient and Just Liberties…, pp. 3, 4748Google Scholar; State Trials, 6: 975, 990Google Scholar; Papers of William Penn, 5: 119–20Google Scholar.

28 Rudyard, , The Peoples Antient and Just Liberties…, p. 48Google Scholar.

29 Ibid., pp. 15–23, 58–59; Cobbett, , State Trials, 6: 964–69, 982–83, 989–92; 9991025Google Scholar; BL, Add. MS. 36, 916, fos. 191, 233; SirSterling, Samuel, An Answer to the Seditious and Scandalous Pamphlet, entituled, the Tryal of W. Penn and W. Mead (1671), pp. 89Google Scholar; English Historical Documents, 1660–1714, ed. Browning, Andrew (New York, 1953), pp. 8689Google Scholar; Horle, , The Quakers and the English Legal System, pp. 116–17Google Scholar; Green, Verdict According to Conscience ch. 6.

30 The Case of Edward Bushel, John Hammond, Charles Milson and John Baily [1671]. I am grateful to the Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn for permission to consult the apparently unique copy of this broadside in their library: M.P., 104 (No. 37). Also see, Rudyard, , The Peoples Antient and Just Liberties…, p. 15Google Scholar; PRO SP 19/275/8211; Cobbett, , State Trials, 6: 1002–19Google Scholar; Grey, , Debates, 1: 6164Google Scholar; Browning, , English Historical Documents, 1660–1714, pp. 8689Google Scholar.

31 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report #51 Leyborne-Popham (1899), p. 167Google Scholar; CSPD 1682, p. 610; The Life of Richard Kidder, D.D., ed. Robinson, Amy Edith, Somerset Records Society Publications, vol. 37 (1924), pp. 4041Google Scholar; Bate, Frank, The Declaration of Indulgence 1672 (Liverpool, 1908), p. xlGoogle Scholar; Pinto, Vivian De Sola, Peter Sterry Platonist and Puritan, 1613–1672 (Cambridge, 1934), pp. 5960Google Scholar; BDBR, 3: 206–07.

32 For additional examples of anti-Catholic rhetoric in contemporary dissenting literature, see: [George, Withers], Vox & Lacrimae Anglorum (1668)Google Scholar; Wilson, Joseph, Nehushtan: or, a Sober and peaceable Discourse (1668)Google Scholar; The Englishman, or a Letter from a Universal Friend (1670); [Mead, Mathew], Solomon's Prescription (1665)Google Scholar.

33 CLRO: MS 40/30 includes the subscription lists for both the Corporation loan and that sponsored by the City dissenters. BL, Add. MS. 36, 916, fos. 186, 190, 192; Marvell, , Poems and Letters, 2: 318Google Scholar.

34 CLRO: MS 40/30; Marvell, 2: 318. The remaining subscribers who were elected to Common Council or to the aldermanic bench between 1648 and 1651 were William Allen (d. 1678), Maximilian Bard (d. 1691), James Blatt (d. 1673), Capt. John Brett (d. 1685), Thomas Essington (d. 1673), John Langley, Harmon Sheafe (d. 1681), Col. Matthew Shepherd, and William Vyner. For Thomas Daffeme [Dafforne] as a Leveller, see Tolmie, Murray, The Triumph of the Saints: The Separate Churches of London, 1616–1644 (Cambridge, 1977), p. 180Google Scholar, and BDBR, 1: 209. For biographical information about these individuals, see, generally, Beaven; BDBR, Liu, Tai, Puritan London; A Study of Religion and Society in the City Parishes (London, 1986)Google Scholar; and James Farnell.

35 See Greaves, Enemies Under His Feet, chs. 4 and 6, for the extensive country counterparts to the London scenes of 1667–73.

36 CSPD 1671, p. 496 (SP 29/293/28); CSPD 1671–72, pp. 28, 45 (SP 29/294/178 & 235); Browning, , English Historical Documents, 1660–1714, p. 387Google Scholar. The development of ministerial fears about London dissent in 1671–72 can be traced in Greaves's analysis of the notes of Williamson, Joseph (Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 215–23)Google Scholar. Stephen C. A. Pincus examines the impact of changes in public opinion on Stuart diplomacy in “From Butterboxes to Wooden Shoes: The Shift in English Sentiment from Hollando-phobia to Franco-phobia in the 1670s,” paper delivered at Western/North American Conferences on British Studies, Boulder, Colo., 10 October 1992.

37 The Parliamentary Diary of Edward Dering, ed. Henning, Basil D. (New Haven, Conn., 1940), pp. 114–23, 133–35Google Scholar; Grey, , Debates, 2: 13–48, 89106Google Scholar; Greaves, , Enemies Under His Feet, pp. 225–27Google Scholar; Tyacke, Nicholas, “The ‘Rise of Puritanism’ and the Legalizing of Dissent, 1571–1719,” in Grell, , ed., From Persecution to Toleration, pp. 3234Google Scholar; Lacey, Douglas R., Dissent and Parliamentary Politics in England, 1661–1689 (New Brunswick, N.J, 1969), pp. 6670Google Scholar. Also see: Fletcher, Anthony, “The Enforcement of the Conventicle Acts 1664–1679,” in Shells, W. J., ed., Persecution and Toleration (Oxford, 1984), pp. 235–46Google Scholar.

38 Scott, , Algernon Sidney, pp. 20, 2838Google Scholar.

39 This is not to deny the importance, in supporting the ideology of popery and arbitrary government, either of the prospect of a popish successor or of perceptions about the international weakness of the Protestant states. Neither is it to deny that anglican Protestants, as well as dissenting Protestants, were to make effective political use of the ideology of popery and arbitrary government in the early 1680s. Dissenting subscription to the ideology of popery and arbitrary government nevertheless has its own distinctive history. For changing public perceptions of the international situation in 1667–73, see Pincus, “From Butterboxes to Wooden Shoes.” For Tory use of the ideology of popery and arbitrary government, see, for instance: Harris, Tim, Politics under the Later Stuarts; Party Conflict in a Divided Society, 1660–1715 (London, 1993), pp. 98100Google Scholar.

40 Scott, , Algernon Sidney, pp. 9–25, 4449Google Scholar (quote at p. 14).

41 BL, Stowe MS 186, fo. 8. For the problem of defining party in the late Stuart period, see Harris, , Politics under the Later Stuarts, pp. 5–6, 1314Google Scholar.

42 CSPD 1671, p. 496 (SP 29/293/28). This is not to deny either that many conservative Presbyterians like Richard Baxter continued to hope for preferential inclusion within the establishment or that the Quakers remained aloof from the dissenting mainstream. On the division within the Presbyterian clergy, also see: C. G. Bolam and Jeremy Goring, “The Cataclysm,” and Thomas, Roger, “Parties in Nonconformity,” in The English Presbyterians, ed. Bolam, C. G., et. al. (London, 1968), pp. 87–90, 94–95, 9899Google Scholar.

43 Harris, , Politics under the Later Stuarts, p. 6Google Scholar.

44 Ward was the Lord Mayor in 1680–81, and Pilkington was Lord Mayor in 1689–90. Each was an Exclusionist MP (see Henning, , House of Commons, 3: 245–47, 667–70Google Scholar).

45 Scott, , Algernon Sidney, pp. 115, 162Google Scholar.

46 Bethel's, Present Interest of England Stated (1671)Google Scholar, first published during the Restoration crisis about conscience, for instance, is better understood as an example of seventeenth-century interest theory, than as an example of republicanism. See De Krey, “Rethinking the Restoration.”

47 Most recently in Revolution redivivus: 1688–89 and the Radical Tradition in Seventeenth-Century London Politics,” in The Revolution of 1688–89: Changing Perspectives, ed. Schwoerer, Lois G. (Cambridge, 1992), pp. 198217Google Scholar.

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