A significant aspect of the religious scene in the early Stuart period was the survival of vibrant religious nonconformity in spite of Bancroft's “reconstruction of the English Church.” Historians have recently concentrated on the periods of excited religious politics under Elizabeth and the latter part of Charles I's reign and have tended to accept Hacket's Restoration apology that there was no serious opposition to official religious policy in the intervening years. But attempts to explain the phoenix-like rise of Puritanism in Caroline England by reference to socio-economic disequilibrium are not fully satisfactory.
Decades ago, Roland G. Usher, who did much to highlight Bancroft's reconstruction, explained the origins of the resurgent Puritanism of the Laudian period by pointing to the mid-Jacobean period. W. H. Clark concurred: lax ecclesiastical administration under Abbot made it possible for Puritans to re-group, starting from about 1614. Both men assumed that there had been effective enforcement of the new Canons of 1604, and of the official policy enunciated at the Hampton Court Conference, until Abbot came on the scene. Analysis of the Church court records indicates that this was simply not so. The number of Puritans continued to rise while vigorous enforcement was spasmodic.
Ironically, the years to which Usher and Clark attributed the origins of Caroline Puritanism were in fact the period when enforcement was possible. First, the Pamphlet War aroused by the new settlement had died down. Second, only two bishops, John King and George Mountain, held the See of London between 1611 and 1628.