The later Stuart church inherited many of the problems that had been faced by its antecedents at institutional, social, and intellectual levels, but was also rocked by several new and profound challenges. It is important, therefore, to locate the established church within a long-term framework of gradual developments and sharp disjunctures. This book offers an account of how clerics and laymen experienced the events of the period between the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660 and the Hanoverian succession of 1714. Politics and religion under the later Stuarts were powerfully intermingled, rather than sharply differentiated categories. Some clerics exercised considerable secular power, whilst many laymen dictated the terms of the church's position at local and national levels. Indeed it could hardly have been otherwise when religious beliefs were made into a shibboleth for holding public office and clerics expounded political maxims from pulpits across the land. Having sketched in the basic framework of relevant events in the later Stuart period, and their historical and geographical contexts, it remains to conclude by drawing them together. Three themes emerge as paramount because of their capacity to ignite contemporary discussion in the light of past experience. These include: the conflicting sources of authority for the Church of England, the relations between clergy and laymen, and the question of how successfully the church exercised its pastoral function.
The later Stuart church inherited many of the problems that had been faced by its antecedents at institutional, social, and intellectual levels, but was also rocked by several new and profound challenges. The predominance of the Church of England was shaken by the Toleration Act, which removed the option of persecuting dissenters for their religious beliefs. The apparent amnesia or ingratitude of many clerics after the legal re-establishment of the church in 1662 was the product of the consequences of the schism that ensued from it. Between 1660 and 1662 Charles II's efforts to implement his deeply held desire for 'a liberty to tender consciences' were frustrated and a narrowly based, intolerant church was established by law. In the parliament of 1685, the bishops had spoken out against James II's efforts to maintain a significant standing army that contained Catholic officers.
This chapter focuses on the three aspects of chaplaincy in William Sancroft's life. They are resisting becoming a chaplain in the 1640s and 1650s, acting as an episcopal and royal chaplain in the 1660s and 1670s, and interacting with his own chaplains while Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1680s and 1690s. Sancroft's reluctance to contemplate life as a chaplain stemmed from more than love of collegiate life. Although the Restoration of the monarchy transformed the political and religious landscape of England, Sancroft's career initially failed to soar, not least because of the leisurely pace of his return from the continent. Sancroft's chaplains were, lobbied in 1679 about the need for convocation to sit in order to concede changes within the Church there rather than at the hands of a hostile House of Commons. The need for conviction in 1679 is expressed as 'We are already upbraided for a parliamentary Religion'.