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APPARENT DEFEAT OF PURITANISM
ACCESSION OF JAMES—THE MILLENARY PETITION-PROCLAMATION
AGAINST PETITIONS—“ SUPPLICATION OF THE EXILES IN HOLLAND
LIZABETH died on March 24, 1602-3, and James was
at once proclaimed as her successor. Whitgift sent the Dean of Canterbury as soon as the Queen was dead to assure him of the loyal support of the bishops and to implore his favour for the Church.
On his way to London in April, the Puritans met him with what was called the Millenary Petition. The promoters—as shown by the text of the petition-intended to get it signed by a thousand ministers; but they were probably obliged to present it before they had completed their canvass ; there were about eight hundred signatures, which were obtained from twenty-five counties. Nothing could have been more moderate than the requests of the petitioners. They asked for the relaxation of the laws enforcing those
1 The number of signatories is given by Fuller, v. 265, as 750, on the authority of Samuel Clarke's Life of Hildersham (at the end of his General Martyrologie (1651), 377). Neal, ii. 4-6, says “not more than 800."
ceremonies to which the least violent of the Puritans had always objected. They asked that more care might be taken to prevent the entrance of men into the ministry who had neither learning nor piety, and who could not preach. They prayed the King not to suffer Popish doctrines to be taught in the pulpits of a Protestant Church. They suggested some reforms in the ecclesiastical courts, and a more equitable and efficient administration of the revenues of the Church. They declared explicitly that they were not favourable to what they called “a popular parity in the Church " ; by which they meant that they did not ask for the abolition of bishops and the establishment of a Presbyterian polity. Other memorials poured in upon the King supporting the general prayer of the Millenary Petition ; among the rest, one from the justices of the peace of the county of Lancaster, who bore a strong testimony to the worth of the Puritan clergy.
The agitation alarmed the King. In October, 1603, he issued a proclamation in which he said :
Hereafter, if any shall either by gathering the subscriptions of multitudes to supplications, ... by contemptuous behaviour, ... by open invectives and indecent speeches either in the pulpit or otherwise, or by disobedience to the processes proceeding from their jurisdiction, give us cause to think, that he hath a more unquiet spirit, than becometh any private person to have toward public authority, we will make it appear by their chastisement, how far such a manner of proceeding is displeasing to us. . . . We admonish all men hereby to take warning, as they will answer the contrary at their peril."' 3
The Congregational exiles in Amsterdam sent over a deputation including probably Francis Johnson and Henry Ainsworth-praying that they might be allowed to live in peace in their native land without being urged to “the use or approbation of any remnants of popery and human traditions." 4 They also presented a “Supplication ” to James, in which they set out the “heads of differences” between
. For the petition itself, see Fuller, v. 305-309, and Neal, I.c.