« PreviousContinue »
THE RESTORATION, 1660. " That Puritanism regarded as extreme expression of Protestantism and as upholding the rights of the individual conscience against authority did not perish at the Restoration is beyond all reasonable doubt. It ceased not to find worthy champions to uphold its banners, and by penetrating and informing the conquerors it became the most precious possession of the nation."-PROF. GARDINER.
Cromwell died on September 3rd, 1658, and in consequence of the unsettlement of the Government after his death, Lord Wharton was, like others, in favour of the Restoration of Charles II., relying on his declaration from Breda that “no man shall be disquieted or called in question for differences of opinion in matters of religion," and expecting the settlement of the National Church on a moderate and comprehensive basis.
“I spent no small amount,” he says, “in preparing for the event; and was careful to appear in the King's train on the day of his return to London and at his coronation." He joined the cavalcade formed to welcome the King at Greenwich (May 29th, 1660), and occupied a conspicuous place therein, the mourning habit which he wore on account of the recent decease of Lady Wharton being adorned with sparkling diamond buttons to relieve its sombre appearance.* At the coronation (April 23rd, 1661) the furniture of his horse, it was supposed, cost £8,000, the bit of his bridle being valued at £ 500.
He was, however, regarded by some of those who were in the ascendant with a considerable amount of vindictiveness. It is said that he was even in danger of being excepted from the Act of Indemnity (though it is difficult to see any adequate grounds for such an exception); that his daughter, Lady Willoughby, when crossing the ferry at Lambeth, overheard a gentleman mention the name of Lord Wharton as about to be
“ My Lord Wharton, Sir Philip Musgrave and Sir Edward Musgrave went to Greenwich in their coach and came with the King to London." (Hist. MSS, Commission.)
placed on the list of exceptions, and forth with induced her husband, who had been a Cavalier, to make inquiry and use his influence on her father's behalf with the King ; who in consequence ordered the omission of his name.
Wharton's own account of the matter is as follows:"A few days after the King's return certain persons unjustly sought to have me excluded from the King's amnesty; but the Duke of York, unsolicited by me, spoke a few friendly words on my behalf, and the plot failed. My pardon was made out, not only in common with other noblemen, but even before theirs. It was expressed in few words, and he has probably forgotten it, but I shall always remember it, and attribute it to God's Providence and the Duke's friendship.” (Letter.)
THE ACT OF UNIFORMITY, 1662. “The bishops were resolute to enforce the law; and on St. Bartholomew's Day nearly two thousand rectors and vicars, or about a fifth of the English clergy, were driven from their parishes as Nonconformists. No such sweeping change in the religious aspects of the Church had ever been seen before.”—J. R. GREEN.
“Shortly before his return,” Wharton says, “during the Session of 1660, the King, to the great joy of all good men, published a declaration from Breda granting freedom of conscience to all but Papists. In 1661, he summoned a new Parliament (the Cavalier Parliament, which was not dissolved till 1679), and in 1662 a great change of policy took place; by a single Act of Parliament 2,000 Dissenting Pastors, most of them very worthy men, refusing to bow the knee to prelacy and ritual or submit to Episcopal ordination after being ordained by the Presbytery, were ejected from their offices and benefices.
“During the debate I complained seriously and openly in the House of Lords of the injustice of debarring pastors ordained by the Presbytery, or a foreigner, from performing the ministerial office or obtaining church preferment without ordination, whilst
those who had been priests in the Romish Church might, without re-ordination, by simply professing our faith, enjoy that freedom. The chief prelate (the Bishop of London (Sheldon), soon after Archbishop of Canterbury) replied that those pastors might have the same freedom if that lord, or anyone else, could show that they had the same right as priests of the Romish Church. He then sat down without attempting to prove his point, whereat several noblemen in private expressed their displeasure.” (Letter to Von Spaen.)
The Act of Uniformity required that, in addition to submitting to Episcopal ordination, every incumbent should openly declare his “ unfeigned assent and consent to the use of all things contained and prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer; that it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatever, to take arms against the King; that there lies no obligation upon me or any other person from the oath commonly called the Solemn League and Covenant, to endeavour any change or alteration of government either in Church or State; and that the same was in itself an unlawful oath."
When this Act came into operation (August 24th, 1662), Lord Wharton rendered generous assistance to many of the ministers who could not conscientiously comply with its terms, and were consequently deprived of their “ecclesiastical benefices and promotions," and driven forth
“A voluntary prey to poverty and grief and disrespect, And some to want as if by tempests wrecked
On a wild coast." On account of the leading position which he held among the Nonconformists he was suspected of having a hand in the so-called Farnley Wood plot. This plot, as Hunter remarks, “has every appearance of having been artificial-a contrivance of Government itself" ; invented on account of the disaffection which largely and naturally prevailed, for the purpose of striking terror into the disaffected; and it was carried out by bribing spies, trepanners and informers to give such
evidence as resulted in the execution of twenty-two persons and the imprisonment of many Nonconformist ministers and a multitude of other innocent victims. The “rebels" were said to have met in Farnley Wood, four miles from Leeds, on the night of October 12th, 1663. Sir Thomas Gower, of Stittenham, Sheriff of Yorkshire,* wrote to Secretary Williamson, October 24th, that "he had caught the most active rebels, having excellent instruments that impeach one another, and great men are named; he wonders whether Lord Wharton be one, his carriage being much suspected, but he could get little, and might lose much, considering his great wealth.”+ There is also a letter in the Public Record Office written by Captain Robert Atkinson, of Mallerstang, Westmorland (November 26th), stating that the plotters “intended to force the King to fulfil his promises made at Breda, grant liberty of conscience to all but Romanists, and restore a Gospel magistracy and ministry; and Lord Wharton was privy to it.” It is needless to say that this last assertion was groundless.
“Most of these pastors" (ejected by the Act of Uniformity), says Lord Wharton, “continued to preach in private conventicles, their reputation increasing with their sufferings. In 1663 or 1664 Parliament ordered heavy penalties to be inflicted on those who attended their services [the Conventicle Act], and many were severely punished. But as the people persevered, in 1665 Parliament prescribed an oath to be taken by the pastors under pain of six months' imprisonment (the Oxford or Five Mile Act). Whereupon all, except
“ The discovery of the plot came from Col. Smithson and Col. Greathead, who had been in service against the King, and were solicited to engage with these rebels. They pretended they would, and met to consult for carrying on the plot, but discovered it from the first to Sir Thomas Gower, who advised them still to dissemble till they had drawn in all the friends they could, and join with them, and then to give evidence against them. Some condemned this in Sir Thomas, because upon their several examinations in the taking of which I was summoned as deputy-lieutenant) there seemed some to be engaged not so much from inclination as persuasion of those that evidenced against them."--Memoirs of Sir John Reresby.
† Calendar, State Papers, Dom. 1663.
perhaps twenty in the whole realm, obeyed their consciences and refused to take the oath.” (Letter.)
“The Five Mile Act,” says John Locke,“was strongly opposed by Lord Wharton and others [October 9th, 1665), not only in the concern of those poor ministers that were so severely handled, but as it was in itself a most unlawful and unjustifiable oath.” He was also conspicuous by his opposition to the new Conventicle Act (1670), which was still more severe than the former. All these Acts were intended to render the existence of religious communities outside the Anglican Church impossible, and made the condition of Nonconformists one of intolerable hardship, the time during which the King's Declaration of Indulgence was in force being, indeed, the only interval of rest they enjoyed from the Restoration to the Revolution.
SYMPATHY WITH NONCONFORMIST MINISTERS. “On the expulsion of the Puritans on St. Bartholomew's Day, in 1662, under the disastrous and suicidal Act of Uniformity, they carried with them the spiritual light of the Church of England; and in the course of seventy years the nation descended to a state of irreligion which we now contemplate with feelings of dismay.”CANON MILLER.
In London, Lord Wharton maintained intimate relations alike with Presbyterians and Independents, who in their common trouble became practically one, and he frequently attended religious services conducted by Nonconformist ministers, in spite of the penalties to which they were liable. A letter in the Record Office, dated February 16th, 1665, contains “information of a Fast held January 26th, at Mr. Jackson's, Whitefriars; Matthew Pool (the learned author of the ‘Synopsis Criticorum'], Dr. Manton, and Dr. Bates praying or preaching; three rooms filled; the Countess of Exeter, Sir William Waller, Lord Wharton, and others were present.”
Thomas Manton, D.D., was ejected from St. Paul's, Covent Garden, where Lord Wharton, when in town, usually attended divine service, and after his ejectment his lordship continued one of his hearers and allowed