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The ecclesiastical identities of Puritan and Nonconformist clergy, 1640-1672

This thesis is a study in the evolving ecclesiastical identities of the Puritan/Nonconformist clergy between 1640 and 1672. It will supplement the historiographical definition of Nonconformity and argue that a shift towards a 'soft' denominational identity more accurately represents Restoration Nonconformity. It will show how particular ecclesiastical tendencies crystallised in the 1640s as Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Baptist identities. However it will demonstrate that individual ministerial identities were not fixed. Clerical identities shifted and blended, adapting to the circumstances within the Puritan/Nonconformist movement as well as those forced upon them from without. The demarcations between Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists were often blurred. Using data gathered from a Nonconformist ministerial database the thesis will substantiate an observable tendency during the Restoration for some former Presbyterians to shift towards a Congregationalist/Baptist identity. It will provide evidence that, in the absence of a classis system, many pure Presbyterians progressed to a Presbyterian/Congregationalist or even Baptist identity as documented by the 1672 licenses. It will track the evolution of Nonconformist ministers by way of dated identity markers based on primary source self-identification including: attestations, confessions, trier, classis, and ejection records, clergy associations, and ministerial licenses. It will discuss a variety of possible motivational factors allowing for observable clerical identity migration across denominational lines. These include an educational emphasis on an irenic view of ecclesiology, intermittent cooperation during the Commonwealth and Protectorate, the formation of ecumenical pastoral associations and the enforcement of penal laws charging ministers with sedition should they not conform. In addition, this thesis raises questions about Edmund Calamy's list of ejected ministers and the 1669 Episcopal Returns, both of which lead historians to underestimate the number of nonconformist ministers active during the Restoration era, which in turn complicates the assessment of ecclesiastical identities, thereby creating a distorted picture of Nonconformity in the Restoration.
Date January 2015
CreatorsSkea, Kinda
ContributorsCoffey, John; Hopper, Andrew
PublisherUniversity of Leicester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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