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Non-Jurors

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The name given to the Anglican Churchmen who in 1689 refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary, and their successors under the Protestant Succession Act of that year. Their leaders on the episcopal bench (William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Bishops Francis Turner of Ely, William Lloyd of Norwich, Thomas White of Peterborough, William Thomas of Worcester, Thomas Ken of Bath and Wells, John Lake of Chichester, and Thomas Cartwright of Chester ) were required to take the oath before 1 August, under pain of suspension, to be followed, if it were not taken by 1 February, by total deprivation. Two of them died before this last date, but the rest, persisting in their refusal, were deprived. Their example was followed by a multitude of the clergy and laity, the number of the former being estimated at about four hundred, conspicuous among whom were George Hickes, Dean of Worcester, Jeremy Collier, John Kettlewell, and Robert Nelson. A list of these Non-jurors is given in Hickes's "Memoirs of Bishop Kettlewell", and one further completed in Overton's "Non-jurors". The original Non-jurors were not friendly towards James II; indeed five of these bishops had been among the seven whose resistance to his Declaration of Indulgence earlier in the same year had contributed to the invitation which caused the Prince of Orange to come over. But desiring William and Mary as regents they distinguished between this and accepting them as sovereigns, regarding the latter as inconsistent with the oath taken to James. Deprived of their benefices the bishops fell into great poverty, and suffered occasional though not systematic persecution. That they were truly conscientious men is attested by sacrifices courageously made for their convictions. Their lives were edifying, some consenting to attend, as laymen, the services in the parish churches. Still, when circumstances permitted, they held secret services of their own, for they truly believed that they had the true Anglican succession which it was their duty to preserve. Hence they felt, after some hesitation, that it was incumbent on them to consecrate others who should succeed them. The first who were thus consecrated, on 24 February, 1693, were George Hickes and John Wagstaffe. On 29 May, 1713, the other Non-juring bishops being all dead, Hickes consecrated Jeremy Collier, Samuel Hawes, and Nathaniel Spinkes. When James II died in 1701, a crisis arose for these separatists. Some of them then rejoined the main body of their co-religionists, whilst others held out on the ground that their oath had been both to James and to his rightful heirs. These latter afterwards disagreed among themselves over a question of rites. The death of Charles Edward in 1788 took away the raison d'etre for the schism, but a few lingered on till the end of the eighteenth century. In Scotland in 1689 the whole body of Bishops refused the oath and became Non-jurors, but the resulting situation was somewhat different. As soon as the Revolution broke out the Presbyterians ousted the Episcopalians and became the Established Kirk of Scotland. Thus the Non-jurors were left without rivals of their own communion, though they had at times to suffer penalties for celebrating their unlawful worship. Their difficulties terminated in 1788, when on the death of Charles Edward they saw no further reason for withholding the oath to George III.


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