This article considers the sermons preached by royal chaplains at the court of James II and the organisation of the chapel royal by James as a Catholic organisation. In doing so, it addresses the question of where James’s assurance and certainty came from that he was ruling as God wished him to do. The evidence presented here is that James organised his Catholic chapel royal to be a conscious source of guidance and support. His chaplains reciprocated by addressing him as a Catholic king whose duty was to bring to heel a recalcitrant and stubborn people. His chaplains used historical precedent and theological argument to press on James his determination to bring his Protestant subjects to obedience. This is a study of the Catholic milieu of James’s court and of the theological impetus behind his rule.
This chapter considers the development of the culture of patronage in the relationship of a chaplain and his patron. It argues that there was an essential patronage association at the centre of the relationship. The relationship of the 7th Earl of Huntingdon and Samuel Willes, his chaplain between 1660 and 1684, was a building block and foundation on which other patronage networks rested. Willes's dependency on Huntingdon was naturally legitimised and magnified by the claims of Willes's own dependents. In 1682, Willes had been appointed prebendary of Bubbenhall in Lichfield Cathedral by Bishop Thomas Wood of Lichfield and Coventry. The facility shown by Willes in poetry and epistolarity extended into the spiritual aspects of his writing. One of the few published sources for Willes's chaplaincy is a poem contributed in 1665 to Hesychia Christianou; or, A Christian's acquiescence in all the products of divine providence.