22 January 2009

Church History: The Church of Ireland: 1660-1800 (1, 1660-1690)

Patrick Comerford:

1:1, 1660-1690, From Restoration to Revolution


The period 1660-1690 is important for a number of reasons:

Heritage and memory: This period is packed with negative memories for Presbyterians – who were excluded from the Restoration settlement; for Roman Catholics – who recall the martyrdom of Oliver Plunket); and for the Church of Ireland – for this is the age in which we really defined the Church of Ireland and differentiated ourselves from the other traditions arising from the Reformations.

Heritage and culture: Our church architecture owes much to this period. Lisburn Cathedral in the Diocese of Connor is an example of our architectural heritage from this period. But so too are Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London and Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Culturally, this too is also the age of baroque, Milton, Bunyan, Rembrandt, Vivaldi and Bach.

Heritage and theology: This is the age of Jeremy Taylor, but also the defining year (1662) for The Book of Common Prayer.

Heritage and politics: This period asks us whether Protestant political culture in Ireland – including the political culture of members of the Church of Ireland – was shaped definitively by the events of the Williamite Revolution.

1.2, The Church of Ireland from the Caroline Divines to the Williamite Revolution

The setting:

The restoration of Charles II was accompanied by the restoration of episcopacy in both the Church of Ireland and the Church of England. It marked the end of a period of great turbulence both in Church and State on these islands, and the introduction of a period of relative calm that would last for the best part of 25 years.

In this sense, these islands were catching up on the state of affairs that was unfolding throughout many parts of Europe. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) had already brought an end to a generation of war and a century of strife, and marked the end, not only of the 30 Years War, but also of religious wars in general.

During the next century and a half, the peace of Europe was often broken. There was warfare between the nations, but religion seldom provided the pretext. Henceforth, doctrinal disputes were settled within states and not between them. Matters of faith ceased to be an important irritant in international affairs, and the Pope’s influence had dwindled to a point where he could no longer effectively participate in the political affairs of Europe.

René Descartes: the world was beginning to think differently, and it was a different world

But it was also a world that was beginning to think differently. RenĂ© Descartes (1596-1650), who died in 1650, is best known for his proposition, “I think, therefore I am.” His Cartesian system of thought immediately posed a challenge to the Aristotelianism, which still held sway in most European countries. And those who opposed the new philosophy included one of the most brilliant figures of the period, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), who combined mathematical and scientific gifts with a religious faith of unusual depth and intensity.

In the second half of the 17th century, a new understanding of the physical universe became increasingly available. New discoveries revealed the nature of the universe, and the change that took place in the latter years of the century would profoundly affect religious thought. This change was in large measure promoted by convinced Christians, such as Thomas Spratt, Bishop of Rochester, and Joseph Glanvill, Rector of Bath, who claimed that faith could not be destroyed by knowledge. They saw science as being concerned with God, humanity and nature.

Among the scientists who agreed with them was Robert Boyle, the great chemist, who was born in Lismore, Co Waterford, into a family that provided many of the bishops of the 17th century Church of Ireland. In his will, Boyle endowed a lectureship for the defence of Christian truth.

But the restoration also ushered in a period in which there was a greater toleration of libertinism. It is not that in some way we might consider the general level of sin was higher than at any other time. But there was a libertinism in vogue in the court, on the stage, and among the coffee house intelligentsia that challenged the Church in many ways. How could the Church openly criticise the court when it so openly preached the divine rights of kings? When a courageous Vicar of Tewksbury tried to bring Charles II into line with a diatribe against royal adultery and fornication, he was ejected from office.

In this climate, there was a political justification of immorality that was combined with scepticism or atheistic flippancy, so that Thomas Fuller could warn: “Take heed, atheism knocks at the door of the hearts of all men, and where luxury is the porter it will be let in.”

Ireland at the restoration

By 1660, the impetus of the Puritan revolution had run its course. It had produced no leader to replace Cromwell, and it had no policy to enable it to continue to hold political power.

In Ireland, at the time of the restoration of the monarchy and the Episcopal model of the Church, the population of the island was estimated at about 1.1 million, of whom probably 800,000 were Roman Catholics and 300,000 Protestants.

Of those 300,000 Protestants, more than half were members of the Church of Ireland, with the rest mainly Presbyterians concentrated in Ulster – many of them Covenanters driven from Scotland by persecution.

The population of Dublin was estimated at 32,000, and the majority were members of the Church of Ireland. So, what was the state of the Church of Ireland in 1660 as it recovered its Episcopal structures and reintroduced its defining, Anglican liturgy?

We must remember that under Cromwell, while it suffered gravely, the Church of Ireland had not been disestablished.

Nevertheless, during the Cromwellian era, vacant bishoprics had not been filled; the parish system had been suspended; instead the church was served by 376 “ministers of the Gospel.” They might be Congregationalists (or Independents, probably the majority), Presbyterians (67), Baptists and Anabaptists, and we must remember that at least 65 of those clergy were Episcopalians of the Church of Ireland.

In some instances, the clergy of the Church of Ireland had remained in their parishes, officiating without salary, as was the case of Diggory Holman, Rector of Magheralin and Precentor of Dromore. Others had co-operated openly with and supported the Commonwealth; for example, Henry Jones, Bishop of Clogher, had become Scoutmaster-General to Cromwell. But the use of the Book of Common Prayer had been banned; there were no church courts or synods, church laws, &c.

These changes, issues and personalities raised questions not just about law and order within the Church in Ireland, but raised fundamental questions of ecclesiology, the theology of the church:

What was the nature of the Church in Ireland, who had authority, how was that authority to be exercised, and what force did it have, what were the visible symbols and signs of office? Who could hold office in the Church, and how was authority to be shared and delegated?

Obviously, in those days, those questions could not be resolved without some consideration by the civil powers. But who exercised civil power in Ireland in the aftermath of the Cromwellian Commonwealth before the king had been restored legally? There was a king, at least in theory. But he had not been proclaimed king legally by the beginning of 1660, and there was no parliament to legislate in his name. In January 1660, three people were appointed Commissioners for Government and Management of Affairs in Ireland. Instead of a parliament, a General Convention met and this also had the oversight of ecclesiastical affairs.

At the time, clergy numbers were estimated at about 500. A petition from Church of Ireland clergy from Co Cork for their tithes indicated the Episcopal clergy were ready to return and, slowly, the clergy began to recover their parishes.

The Restoration and the Church of Ireland

A monument to Charles II outside Lichfield Cathedral: the restoration of the monarchy brought with it the restoration of the episcopacy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2007)

In May 1660, Charles II was restored to the throne, and he was proclaimed king in Dublin on 14 May. Despite the restoration, we need to remember that in Scotland there was still a debate about the form the new establishment was to take: whether it should be Presbyterian or Episcopalian. Charles II had signed the covenant, the Presbyterians had played an important part in the Restoration, and so Presbyterians felt their hopes were well-founded in both Ireland and Scotland, and they had some hopes for a greater role in church and state affairs in England. A deputation of Presbyterian ministers arrived in Dublin to petition the General Council, only to find the majority were “prelatical.”

Lord Charlemont deemed the Presbyterians the “most dangerous” faction, saying they “preach up the authority of the kirk to be above that of the crown and our dread sovereign,” and that “the kirk hath power to excommunicate their kings.”

And so, from the beginning, questions of ecclesiology were also questions of politics, and church/state relations were inseparable. Preparations quickly began for the re-establishment of the Episcopal Church of Ireland.

Eight Irish bishops had survived the Cromwell: John Bramhall, Derry; Henry Jones, Clogher; Henry Leslie, Down; John Leslie, Raphoe; Robert Maxwell, Kilmore; Griffith Williams, Ossory; Thomas Fulwar, Ardfert; and William Baylie, Clonfert. But there were 16 vacant dioceses in 1660, including all four archdioceses: Armagh, Meath, Ardagh, Dromore, Tuam, Killala, Elphin, Dublin, Kildare, Ferns, Cashel, Waterford, Cork, Cloyne, Limerick, Killaloe.

Consider the names of those eight remaining bishops: at least four were of Scots birth or descent: Leslie of Down, Leslie of Raphoe, Maxwell of Kilmore and Baylie of Clonfert, and a fifth, Williams of Ossory, was of Welsh descent. This alone challenges the myth that the Ulster-Scots heritage is the preserve of Northern Presbyterians, or the image conveyed by some that the Church of Ireland was merely a transplant of the Church of England.

In August 1660, Bramhall of Derry was nominated Archbishop of Armagh.

Declarations and Instructions issued by the King on 30 November 1660 formed the basis for the later Act of Settlement. Lands held by the church in 1641 were to be restored, a glebe was to be provided for every parish, new provisions were made for the two cathedrals in Dublin, and provision was made for church endowments. But the doctrine and discipline of the church were not yet settled.

On 18 January 1661, Bramhall was formally appointed Archbishop of Armagh. Without waiting for Parliament to sit, he threw himself into reorganising the dioceses: Parker of Elphin became Archbishop of Tuam; Fulwar of Ardfert became Archbishop of Cashel; Henry Leslie moved from Down to Meath, but soon died and was replaced by Jones who moved from Clogher to Meath, and would be replaced in Clogher by John Leslie, who had been consecrated for Raphoe; Robert Leslie moved from Dromore to Raphoe; Maxwell remained in Kilmore, to which Ardagh was united; and Cloyne was united to Cork.

Bramhall also moved ahead to fill the ranks of the depleted episcopate: on 27 January 1661, more than three months before Parliament met, two new archbishops and ten new bishops were consecrated in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

The new archbishops were James Margetson of Dublin and Samuel Pullen of Tuam. The new bishops were: Michael Boyle (Cork and Ross); John Parker (Elphin); Robert Price (Ferns and Leighlin); Henry Hall (Killala); George Baker (Waterford and Lismore); Edward Synge (Limerick); Edward Worth (Killaloe); Robert Leslie (Raphoe); George Wild (Derry); and the saintly Jeremy Taylor (Down and Connor).

The five consecrating bishops were Bramhall of Armagh, Maxwell of Kilmore, Williams of Ossory, Leslie of Raphoe, and Jones of Clogher.

Some weeks later, Thomas Price was consecrated for Kildare, giving the Church of Ireland a complement of four archbishops and 17 bishops. And these diocesan structures were, more or less, retained unchanged for the next 170 years.

The attendance of church, university, state and civic officials at the large consecration in Saint Patrick’s provided a striking demonstration of the unity of church and state.

William Fuller, Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and later Bishop of Limerick, composed a special anthem, Quam denuo exaltavit Dominus coronam, with the opening lines:

Now that the Lord hath re-advanced the Crown;
Which Thirst of Spoyl, and frantick zeal threw down:
Now that the Lord the Miter restored
Which, with the Crown, lay in the dust abhor’d:
Praise him ye Kings,
Praise him ye Priests.

It was not until 8 May 1661 that Parliament met in Dublin, with one of the newly-consecrated bishops, Jeremy Taylor, preaching at its opening. Taylor argued for a state composed of none but those who accept the Apostles’ Creed, and that “tenderness of conscience” could not be pleaded against the law of the land.

Membership of the new parliament was overwhelmingly Protestant, with only one Roman Catholic MP. Archbishop Bramhall of Armagh presided in the House of Lords, where the bishops would often form the working majority.

By the beginning of June, Bramhall could claim victory: “We have established the liturgy, doctrines and disciplines of the Church. We have condemned the Covenant engagement.”

At the same time as Parliament met, the Convocation – the equivalent of a National Synod – met. This consisted of two houses: the archbishops and bishops formed the upper house, and the Lower House was composed of the archdeacons, deans and “proctors” of the clergy. It continued sitting until 1666, but from 1666 to 1692 there was neither Parliament nor Convocation, and although Parliament would meet again in 1692, convocation did not meet again until 1703.

In 1662, the Act of Settlement restored and protected much, though not all, of the property of the Church of Ireland. But in the north-east, particularly in Jeremy Taylor’s diocese, the clergy of the Church of Ireland found it difficult to assert their claims against the Presbyterians, with many Presbyterian ministers remaining in place.

Bramhall also wanted to exclude from the Church of Ireland those clergy who had served during the Commonwealth. He insisted on Episcopal ordination and refused to accept Presbyterian ordinations, even when these had been legal in the past.

Prayer Book revision

The 1662 revision of The Book of Common Prayer resulted in:

● The 1611 translation of the Bible being substituted in the prefatory sentences, in the Epistles and the Gospels, and in all other extracts (with the exception of the Psalter, the 10 Commandments, and some portions of the Communion Office);
● The direction to kneel at the Holy Communion, which had been in Edward VI’s prayer book, and omitted from Elizabeth I’s, was restored;
● In an explanatory note at the end of the Communion service, the words “corporal presence of Christ’s natural flesh and blood” were substituted for “any real or essential presence therein being of Christ’s natural flesh and blood”;
● The word priest was substituted for minister in the description of the person who was to read the absolution;
● Prayers were added for times of dearth and famine, for Ember week, for parliament, for the chief governor or governors of Ireland, and “for all sorts and conditions,” and a thanksgiving for restoring public peace and the general thanksgiving were introduced;
● In the prayer for the church militant, the clause respecting those who have departed this life was added;
● There were forms to be used at sea, and a service of baptism for those of riper years;

Special services were introduced for 30 January, 29 May, 23 October and (later) 5 November.

These four special commemorations cemented the links between church and state, and reinforced the established nature of the Church of Ireland:

● 30 January: The martyrdom of Charles I (commemorated in the dedication of the chapel at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham);
● 29 May: The anniversary of the Restoration;
● 23 October: The anniversary of the massacre of 1641;
● 5 November: The anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.

There were efforts too to introduce real reforms within the Church: in 1666, an act was passed disabling clergy from simultaneously holding benefices in the Church of England and the Church of Ireland.

Church and State

Meanwhile, many of the bishops also held high office in the state, and this also supplemented their income. In 1668, Primate Margetson had over £3,500 a year, including his fees as Prerogative Judge and King’s Almoner; Archbishop Boyle of Dublin had £1,200 a year, and was Lord Chancellor; Robert Mossom of Derry was the best paid bishop with £1,800 a year; of the rest, 12 had incomes ranging from £1,600 to £1,000, and five between £1,000 and £600. The poorest bishoprics were Clonfert (£400) and Kildare (£200).

The best-paid deanery was Christ Church Cathedral Dublin (£600 a year). The worst paid clergy were those in Connacht, where vicars received from 16 shillings to 40 shillings a year. Hardly one parish in 10 had a glebe. Despite his wealth, Mossom of Derry reported that all the churches in the city and county of L/Derry were ruinous, and that the “holy offices of God’s publick worship were, for the most part, administered either in a dirty cabin or in a common alehouse.”

The end of an era

Perhaps the end of an era came in 1671 with the death of John Leslie, Bishop of Clogher: he had been consecrated in 1633, and at the time of his death is reputed to have been the oldest bishop in the world. In a way we could say that his death marked not only an end of the personal links that bridged the Jacobite or even the Elizabethan church with the Church of the restoration, but also symbolised the shift in thinking that was taking place in the Church and throughout Europe.

The restoration era was distinguished by far-reaching intellectual changes. Evidences of a new spirit had started to appear with the Cambridge Platonists, who turned from the way in which religious problems had been conceived and debated. With the Puritans, the prevailing theology had become dogmatic and theoretical; the Cambridge Platonists showed that a broader and simpler system was necessary. They believed that preoccupation with abstruse doctrines did more harm than good. They sought a middle way between the Laudians and the Calvinists, and adopted a mediating position.

Nor should we should be in any doubt that the church was still in need of reform.

In 1678, the new Primate was Michael Boyle, who came from a family that might appear to have been a line of hereditary bishops: his father had been Archbishop of Tuam and his uncle Bishop of Waterford and Lismore. When he was Bishop of Cork he held six other benefices until his kinsman, the Earl of Orrery, as President of Munster, forced him to resign them.

Boyle was the last prelate who also filled the office of Lord Chancellor. But as Primate his biggest challenge was the change in religious culture throughout the land with the accession of James II in 1685.

James II was a professed Roman Catholic, and with his succession Anglicanism faced real dilemmas. For 25 years, the Anglican Church – both the Church of Ireland and the Church of England – had long been, effectively, the handmaiden of the state. For long, the concept of non-resistance had been regularly preached from the Anglican pulpit. What role would the Church now have with an antagonistic monarch on the throne? And how could it consider legitimately oppose any measures against its interests that were introduced by the king?

According to the Church historian Murray, with the accession of James II, “the Church of Ireland once more fell upon evil days. The Duke of Ormond was replaced as Viceroy by the king’s brother-in-law, the Earl of Clarendon, while Richard Talbot, Earl (and later Duke) of Tyrconnell, and brother of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, became commander-in-chief of Ireland.

Matters become worse for the Church of Ireland in 1687 when Tyrconnell succeeded Clarendon, and the outlawries resulting from the events of 1641 were reversed. Church of Ireland clergy lost their tithes, churches were seized and the Mass said in them, vacant sees, including Cashel, Clonfert, Clogher and Elphin, were not filled, and their revenues were handed over to the Roman Catholic bishops of those dioceses.

John Vesey, Archbishop of Tuam and Richard Tennison, Bishop of Killala fled to England, and were soon followed by the Archbishop of Dublin and the bishops of Kilmore, Dromore, Kildare, Ferns and Leighlin, Cloyne, Raphoe, and Derry. Those who are unkind would say they abandoned the Church of Ireland at the time, but many of them would return. And, indeed, many of the bishops remained, including the Archbishop of Armagh and the bishops of Meath, Ossory, Limerick, Cork and Ross, Killaloe and Waterford and Lismore.

Dean King, who had been left behind by Archbishop Marsh as his commissary in Dublin, said he knew of 16 or 17 clergymen who were assaulted, imprisoned and threatened with death.

In an effort to recover his throne after the Williamite revolt, James II left his exile in France in 1689, and landed in Ireland. The Irish Parliament was summoned, but few Protestants were in attendance: apart from four bishops, four lay peers and six MPs, the rest of parliament was made up of Roman Catholics. Those who were attainted and had their estates confiscated included Archbishop Marsh and Archbishop Vesey, and Bishop Hopkins, Sheridan, Moreton, Smith, Marsh of Ferns, Jones and Wiseman, and 83 of the clergy of the Church of Ireland.

The vacant sees were to be filled by Roman Catholics, churches were seized, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, was seized and mass was celebrated in it, part of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, was used as military stables, and finally an order was issued, under penalty of death, forbidding more than five Protestants to meet together.

William III landed in Ireland on 1 July 1690. He entered Dublin on 6 July, the same day a solemn service of thanksgiving was held in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and the sermon was preached by Dean King. A new era was ushered in, for both the island of Ireland, and the Church of Ireland. But there were problems for the Church of Ireland too, and we shall look at those next week.

1:3, Key figures:

1, John Bramhall (1594-1663), Archbishop of Armagh:

Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge: Archbishop John Bramhall of Armagh was an undergraduate here in the early 17th century (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2008)

John Bramhall, who was born in Cheshire, came to Ireland with Wentworth and had survived the Cromwellian era as Bishop of Derry. In August 1660 he was nominated Archbishop of Armagh. He arrived in Dublin on October 1660 to be greeted by Lord Caulfield (later Lord Charlemont), and was formally appointed 18 January 1661.

His rule as primate from 1661 to 1663 was vigorous and left its mark on the Church of Ireland at a critical period. The Presbyterians called him “Bishop Bramble,” but Cromwell had shown a more shrewd insight when he called him “the Irish Canterbury.”

Bramhall was a vigorous defender of the catholicity of the Church of England and the Church of Ireland against claims by Roman Catholics that it was either schismatic or heretical: “I make not the least doubt in the world that the Church of England before the Reformation, and the Church of England after the Reformation, are as much the same Church as a garden before it be weeded and after it be weeded is the same garden; or a vine, before it be pruned and after it is pruned and freed from luxurious branches, is one and the same vine.”

He offered a broad interpretation of the 39 Articles, with the Church including both Arminians and Calvinists, “walking to the House of God as friends.” He argued that the Roman Catholics of Ireland suffered no persecution for their religion, but only for their politics. He declared that he would admit all to communion, especially the Lutherans, but also Greeks, Armenians, Abyssinians, Russians, and all who confess the apostolic creed and accept the first four general councils, even the Roman Catholics “if they did not make their errors to be a condition of their communion.”

Bramhall believed firmly that Church and State must be one, and that unity could only be obtained under the crown as supreme in all matters both temporal and spiritual.

Overworked, he died in 1663 at the age of 68. His funeral sermon was preached by Jeremy Taylor. He was succeeded by James Margetson (1663-1678), who pursued a policy of conciliation, softened down the asperities of the ministers to Jeremy Taylor, and rebuilt Armagh Cathedral.

2, Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667):

Jeremy Taylor, described as “the glory of the whole Anglican Communion”

The saintly and ascetic Jeremy Taylor has been described as “The glory of the whole Anglican Communion.” Coleridge placed him among the four great geniuses of English literature, alongside Shakespeare, Bacon and Milton.

Outside Ireland, his fame rests mainly on his devotional writings, especially The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living (1650) and The Rule and Exercise of Holy Dying (1651), which are characteristic expressions of Anglican spirituality in their insistence on a well-ordered piety which stresses temperance and moderation.

Taylor was the preacher at his own consecration in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, in January 1661, and preached at the opening of the Irish parliament three months later.

He gave reluctant permission for the use of organs in churches, and although he allowed the use of hymns, it is not known whether he allowed them to be sung in public services.

He stated that if the Irish would not learn English, the sooner he learnt Irish the better.

In 1662, he made the parish church of Lisburn the cathedral for the united dioceses of Down and Connor, which had been without a cathedral since 1538. He also rebuilt the choir of Dromore Cathedral at his own expense.

A major weakness in Taylor was his antipathy towards the Scots, whom he regarded as “intolerable.” However, this was partly due to his experiences of the strong Presbyterian presence in his dioceses, which left him out of sympathy with the majority of people there. He told the Duke of Ormond: “Here I am perpetually contending with the worst of the Scottish ministers. I have a most uncomfortable employment, but, I bless God, I have broken their knot, I have overcome the biggest difficulty, and made my charge easy for my successor.”

When he declared 36 of the parishes in his dioceses vacant, seven of the former Commonwealth ministers conformed to the Church of Ireland, and the rest of the vacancies were filled with clergy from the Church of England.

Taylor hoped continually to be promoted out of Ireland, and he pleaded with Archbishop Sheldon of Canterbury not to overlook him. However, he was left in Ireland, and died here in 1667.

3, Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713):

Marsh’s Library, Dublin: a lasting tribute to the achievements of Archbishop Narcissus Marsh

Archbishop Narcissus March should not to be confused with Francis Marsh (1626-1693), whom he succeeded as Archbishop of Dublin.

Narcissus Marsh was born in Wiltshire and educated in Oxford, where he was ordained. He was chaplain to the Earl of Clarendon, who brought him to Ireland, and he was Provost of TCD (1679-1683). There he found that the undergraduates who came to college had little previous education, “whereby they are both rude and ignorant, and I was quickly weary of 340 young men and boys in this lewd debauched town.”

Marsh was especially zealous for the development of Celtic studies and for a knowledge of the Irish Bible and Prayer Book among the students of TCD. Thirty scholars, who were native Irish, had to learn Irish as well as Latin, Greek and Hebrew, and to teach these subjects he employed the Revd Andrew Sall (1612-1693), a former Jesuit, and the Revd Paul Higgins, a former Roman Catholic priest. Sall had been Rector of the Irish College in Salamanca in Spain (1652-1655) and Provincial of the Irish Jesuits (1662). On becoming an Anglican, he became both a canon of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin (1675-1682), and a domestic chaplain to Charles II, living first in Oxford (1675-1680) and then in Dublin (1680-1682).

Through the efforts of both Marsh and Sall, the Irish sermons and services in the college chapel in TCD were well attended.

Marsh became Bishop of Ferns and Leighlin in 1683, but fled his diocese during the reign of James II. After the Williamite revolution, he became Archbishop of Cashel, then Archbishop of Dublin, and finally Archbishop of Armagh.

Marsh founded, endowed and built Marsh’s Library in Dublin, was one of the founders of the Dublin Philosophical Society, a forerunner of the Royal Irish Academy, and maintained a lifelong interest in translating and printing the Bible in Irish. He is buried in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

4, James Butler, Duke of Ormond (1610-1680):

James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormond: strengthened the restored Established Church of Ireland

The Maynooth church historian Ray Gillespie says that ‘the Church of Ireland after the Restoration was caught between a Catholic anvil and a Protestant hammer.’ One of the priorities of James Butler, Duke of Ormond, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1661-1669), was strengthening the established church.

Ormond supported Bramhall’s demands for a full restoration of church properties. He thought the Nonconformists of the north the greatest threat to the security of the state. Ulster, in his judgment, was full of “the worst Protestants and Papists in the whole kingdom.”

His major building programme in restoration Ireland included the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, where his churchmanship is evident in the dedication of the chapel, used in the 1990s for the Holy Communion at the opening of General Synod, to Charles King and Martyr.

Ormond’s political career was linked to that of Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon and secretary of state in London, and the fall of Clarendon in 1667 led to Ormond’s dismissal in 1669.

1.4, The other churches in Ireland

1, The Presbyterians:

The Presbyterians were to be found mainly in the north-east, and remain the most lasting of the Crowmellian era traditions, as the Baptists dwindled and the Independents or Congregationalists virtually disappeared.

In doctrine and discipline, the Presbyterians maintained strict conformity with the Church of Scotland. But many of the Ulster Presbyterians were Covenanters, who had been driven from Scotland by the moderating policies of Lauderdale and the subsequent persecutions. Before ordination, a Presbyterian minister in Ulster was required to take the oath to the Solemn League and Covenant.

We find strong correspondence from leading state figures, including Ormond, Orrery, and Charlemont, and from the bishops of the day, including Jeremy Taylor, accusing the Presbyterians of preaching seditiously, and the House of Commons condemned the Covenant as “schismatical, seditious and treasonable.”

Griffith Williams (Bishop of Ossory, 1641-1672) celebrated the restoration with the publication of his Ho Antichristos, the Great Antichrist Revealed, in which he proved to his own satisfaction that the Antichrist was “neither pope nor Turk’ but in truth the Westminster Assembly of Divines,” whom he characterised as a “collected pack or multitude of hypocritical, heretical, blasphemous, and most scandalous wicked men, that have fulfilled all the prophecies of the Scriptures, which have forespoken of the coming of the great Antichrist.”

For their part, the Presbyterians feared the restoration of episcopacy was a step towards restoring Papacy.

2, The Huguenots:

Ray Gillespie identifies three major periods of Huguenot immigration into Ireland:

1, The early Ormondite period (1662-1669): As early as 1663, the first Huguenot refugees who had arrived were provided with the use of a chapel in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

They had been encouraged to come to Ireland for economic reasons, and were offered considerable latitude. But we should not see this situation as unique: similar hospitality was offered to the Huguenots in Canterbury Cathedral.

In return for a certain measure of self-government, the Huguenots for their part accepted the use of a French translation of the Book of Common Prayer, Episcopal ordination, and the ultimate authority of the Archbishop of Dublin.

This first community probably numbered about 500 throughout Ireland.

2, The late Ormondite period (1681-1687): This second influx followed the Draggonades of 1681. In 1685, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Huguenot refugees fled from France to Ireland in even greater numbers.

3, The Ruvignan period (1692-ca. 1706).

It is interesting to ask why, in the main, they and their descendants found a place within the Church of Ireland and not among Presbyterians. Certainly the Rye House Plot of 1683, which Ormond linked to dissenting Protestants in Ireland, was a clear motivation for Irish Huguenots, who had benefited from Ormond’s hospitality, to avoid too close an identification with Irish Presbyterians.

3, The Roman Catholics:

After the 1641 rebellion, the Roman Catholics had briefly gained the upper hand in Ireland.

An indication of Catholic liberties under Charles II is provided at a later date: When it came to signing the Treaty of Limerick in 1691, the defeated Roman Catholics appealed to “the privileges enjoyed under Charles II.” The appeal was to actual practice rather than the statutes on the book.

But the statute legislation made it a criminal offence for a Roman Catholic priest to say Mass and for a lay person to hear it; there were heavy fines for not attending the services of the Church of Ireland; priests, teachers, tutors and MPs had to take the Oath of Supremacy and to renounce the authority of the Pope in civil matters; no Roman Catholic could become a magistrate (JP), mayor, recorder, alderman, magistrate, or burgess of any corporation.

In 1662, the Papal Nuncio in Brussels, De Vechii, declared that a proposed address by the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland, stating their loyalty to the new monarch, was a violation of their faith. Cardinal Barverini and Cardinal Rospigliosi concurred.

Nevertheless, in 1666 the Roman Catholics held a synod in Dublin at which a loyal remonstrance was framed, expressing loyalty to Charles II, was signed by 69 of the estimated 4,000 priests and friars resident in Ireland.

There appears to have been a great measure of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This was enhanced by Ormond’s succession as Viceroy by Berkeley, who was openly sympathetic to Roman Catholics, and who was said to once sent a message to Archbishop Peter Talbot of Dublin that he “hoped to see high mass at Christ Church.”

That religious tolerance continued until the fictitious “Popish Plot” of 1678, which led to the execution of Archbishop Oliver Plunket, a saintly prelate who suffered a traitor’s death at Tyburn on 1 July 1681 on a false charge of having conspired towards a French invasion of Ireland. England’s fear of France was rivalled only by the Pope’s loathing of France, where Louis XIV had asserted royal prerogatives in many areas that Pope regarded as his own, and flirted with Gallicanism, whose model of the church stands up to interesting comparison to that of Anglicanism.

However, we should also remember that there was the Rye House Plot of 1683, which Ormond linked to nonconformists in Ireland. But the tide turned again in favour of the Roman Catholic Church with the accession to the throne of James II in 1685.

Two other communities with a strong presence in Ireland at the time and who survived the Cromwellian period with varying degrees of strength numerically and theologically after the restoration were the Baptists and the Quakers. They have been the subject of many scholarly studies and are worth exploring too.

1:5, The wider church:

The wider church, beyond Ireland, and beyond Anglicanism, at this time, produced great contributions to our theology, thinking and culture.

We have already referred to Descartes, who shaped and changed the thinking of this age, and to his greatest opponent, Pascal. But this period also saw the rise in France of Gallicanism and Jansenism.

Jansenism owed its origins to Cornelius Otto Jansen (1585-1638), Bishop of Ypres, and the posthumous publication in 1640 of his Augustinus, which was condemned as heretical by Innocent X. Jansen argued that without a special grace from God, the performance of his commands is impossible for us, and the operation of his grace is irresistible. Hence, human beings are the victims of either a natural or a supernatural determinism, limited only by not being coercive.

The most important centre of Jansenism was at the Convent of Port Royal, south-west of Paris, where Antoin Arnauld became the leader of the movement. The Jansenists sought to evade Innocent X’s condemnation by admitting that the propositions condemned were heretical, but declaring them to be unrepresentative of Jansen’s ideas. In 1668, the movement was persuaded into a qualified submission, but continued to gain followers and sympathisers.

The movement eventually led to the formation of the Old Catholics at Utrecht.

The other great movement to mark French Catholicism at this time was Gallicanism. In 1516, the Pope had conceded the right of the French king to appoint bishops. In 1663, the Sorbonne published a declaration, reaffirmed by the French clergy at their assembly in 1682 and known as the Four Gallican Articles. These denied the Pope had dominion over things temporal and affirmed that kings are not subject to the Church in civil matters; reaffirmed the authority of a General Council of the Church over the Pope; insisted that the ancient liberties of the French church were inviolable; and asserted that the judgment of the Pope was not irreformable.

Gallicanism persisted well into the 18th century. We see parallels with Anglicanism, and even with some of the assertions in the 39 Articles. But we can also see the beginning of thinking that would lead to the French revolution, and see the debate that would culminate, long after Gallicanism had become a spent force, in the crowning of Napoleon as Emperor by a captive Pope.

John Milton, the poet of mid-17th century England

In England, it was a period of great literary works by the heirs of the Puritan revolution. John Milton (1608-1674), who had been a radical Presbyterian, then an Independent, and a critic of Cromwell, was blind by the time his Paradise Lost was published in 1667.

At the restoration in 1660, John Bunyan (1628-1688) was imprisoned for preaching, and remained in jail almost continuously until 1672. He was jailed again in 1677, and died in 1688 as the persecution of dissenters was coming to an end. In jail he wrote his best-known works, Grace Abounding (1666) and Pilgrim’s Progress (1678).

The poet John Dryden ((1631-1700) had been brought up as a Puritan and had served under Cromwell, but welcomed the restoration of Charles II and in 1670 was appointed poet laureate and royal historiographer. He defended the biblical scholar Richard Simon (1638-1712), generally regarded as the founder of Old Testament criticism, and his work on the Old Testament as compatible with Anglican freedom in his Religio Laici (1682), depicting Anglicanism as providing a middle way between Rome and fanaticism. After James II’s accession, Dryden became a Roman Catholic, defending his new church as the “milk white hind” in the allegorical Hind and the Panther (1687).

Rembrandt drew on Biblical imagery and scenes for much of his work

Culturally, we must remember that Rembrandt was still painting in Amsterdam, drawing on many Biblical scenes. But this was also the age of baroque, which left its mark on church music, church architecture, and the paintings and sculptures in churches throughout Europe, particularly in France, Spain and Italy.

The west entrance of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, the crowing glory of Christopher Wren’s work in the City of London

Baroque became the style of the Counter-Reformation and one of its finest expressions is in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, completed in 1655. In England, the crowning glory of architecture for Anglicans was in Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London, designed by Christopher Wren. Building began in 1675, 20 years after Saint Peter’s was completed, but Wren’s real gems are the many smaller churches he built in London after the Great Fire of 1666.

Canon Patrick Comerford is Director of Spiritual Formation, the Church of Ireland Theological Institute. This essay is based on a lecture on Thursday 22 January 2009 on the Year II B.Th. course on Church History: The Church of Ireland 1660-1800.

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