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“6. An act for preventing dangers which may happen from Popish recusants, commonly called the test act, whereby (as afore-mentioned) every person is incapacitated from holding a place of trust under the government, without taking the sacrament according to the rites of the church of England." 65
65 Neal, iv. 423-424. And for a schedule showing the full range of the King's power in ecclesiastical affairs, see L. J., xi. 487-489.
ACCESSION OF JAMES II.—HE AVOWS His Faith—ROMANISM IN THE
ASCENDANT_PENAL LAWS SUSPENDED-PARLIAMENT REMON-
ORANGE-COLLAPSE OF ROMANISM-WILLIAM LANDS IN ENGLAND—THE NATION RALLY TO HIM-JAMES TAKES Flight.
ING CHARLES died on February 6, 1684-5. He was
reconciled to the Roman Church just before his death, and received absolution and the last Sacraments from Huddleston, a Romish priest, who had saved his life after the Battle of Worcester. James II. was a Catholic when he came to the throne, and on the ground of his Catholic faith a powerful party had endeavoured to exclude him from the succession.
When he met the Privy Council he declared that while he was resolved to maintain unimpaired the authority and ancient prerogatives of the Crown," he would not invade any man's property, but would preserve the government by law established in church and state." 1 The clergy, who for many years had been insisting on the duty of passive obedience, received the King's assurance with unmeasured confidence and delight. As to our religion,” said Dr. Sharp, in a sermon
1 Burnet, iii. 6. Cobbett, Parliamentary History, iv. 1342. Repeated, May 22, 1685, on opening the session of Parliament, ibid., 1351-1354.
at St. Lawrence Jury,“ we have the word of the King, which (with reverence be it spoken) is as sacred as my text.” ?
But notwithstanding his declaration, it was the King's firm resolve to restore England to the Roman communion. The second Sunday after his accession he went openly to mass. Huddleston was told to make it publicly known that Charles had died a member of the Roman Church.3 Within a few months all the laws which excluded Catholics from civil and military offices under the Crown were disregarded ; and very soon Catholic statesmen controlled the policy and Catholic soldiers commanded the armies of the kingdom.
It seemed as if England were on the point of returning to the ancient faith. The clergy were forbidden to preach against the King's religion.” The Catholic worship was celebrated with gorgeous pomp in the King's Chapel at St. James's. The Jesuits had a large school at the Savoy in which half the children were Protestants. Carmelites, Benedictines, and Franciscans walked the streets of London. Four Catholic bishops were consecrated in the Royal Chapel, and their pastoral letters to the catholic laymen of their dioceses were printed by the royal printers and with public licence. The Lord High Treasurer and the Lord Privy Seal, the Earls of Rochester and Clarendon, were Catholics; several Catholic peers, and a Catholic priest-Father Petre-were sworn members of the Privy Council. In Scotland a Catholic was made Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh. In Ireland a Catholic, Colonel Talbot, afterwards Earl of Tyrconnel, was put at the head of the army. There were Catholic officers in the army which the King assembled on Hounslow Heath ; mass was openly celebrated in the tent of Lord Dumbarton, the second in command to Lord Feversham; and the Protestantism of Lord Feversham was regarded with suspicion. Hull and Portsmouth, two of the principal ports in the kingdom, were in the hands of Catholic governors.
In November, 1685, the Commons carried an address to the Crown in which they showed their alarm at the suspension
2 Calamy, Historical Account, i. 118. Evelyn, iii. 211-215. Sharp was afterwards Archbishop of York. He was the first to provoke the King's displeasure by preaching against the Church of Rome. See p. 448.
3 Burnet, iii. 11. Evelyn, iii. 139.
of the penal laws affecting the Catholics, and declared that the disqualifications imposed by the Test Act could not be removed except by Act of Parliament. The King was greatly provoked by their boldness, and Parliament was immediately prorogued.
In order to secure a legal sanction for his dispensing power, he had an indictment laid against Sir Edward Hales, a Roman Catholic, who had been appointed colonel of a regiment and governor of Dover Castle, but who had neither received the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the English Church, nor fulfilled the other conditions imposed by the Test Act. He pleaded the King's dispensation in bar of the penalty. The case was tried before the Court of King's Bench on June 21, 1686, and of twelve judges eleven agreed
“(1) That the laws of England are the King's laws. (2) That, therefore, 'tis an inseparable prerogative in the Kings of England, as of all other Sovereign Princes, to dispense with all Penal Laws in particular cases, and upon particular necessary reasons. (3) That of those reasons and necessities, the King himself is sole judge: and then which is consequent upon all, (4), That this is not a trust invested in, or granted to the King, by the people, but the ancient remains of the sovereign power and prerogative of the Kings of England; which never yet was taken from them, nor can be.”
“ Thus,” adds Echard, “by the breath of a few mercenary judges, in effect, the laws of England were basely given up at once into the Power and Will of the King."
In the summer of 1686 James proceeded to set up once more the Court of High Commission, which had been abolished for ever with the Royal consent in the early months of the
5 C. J. (Nov. 16, 1685), ix. 758. Parliament was first prorogued on November 20, 1685, and then, by successive stages, to November 22, 1687. It did not sit again during James's reign.
Howell's State Trials, xi. 1165-1199. Echard, 1077. Sir Edward Hale's coachman was set up to inform against him, and to claim the £500 that the law gave to the informer." Burnet, iii. 97. See also Hallam, Const. Hist., iii. 61-62 and notes.
Long Parliament.? Jeffreys, who was Lord Chancellor, was at the head of the Commission ; the other Commissioners were the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Durham and Rochester, the Earls of Sunderland and Rochester; and Sir Edward Herbert, Lord Chief Justice. Any three of the Commissioners, provided that Jeffreys was one of them, were empowered to call before them all ecclesiastical persons, “of what degree and dignity soever," and to punish them by excommunication, suspensions, deprivations, or other ecclesiastical censures for any ecclesiastical offences. 8
The Commission began by calling Compton, the Bishop of London, to answer for his contempt of the command of the King, requiring him to suspend Dr. Sharp. Sharp was the clergyman who at the beginning of the reign made the King's word as sacred as a text of Holy Scripture ; but he had recently preached a sermon against Popery, at which the King had taken offence. Compton alleged that Sharp's sermon had not been subjected to judicial inquiry in the ecclesiastical courts, but that when the case was tried he would deal with him as the canons warranted ; and that he had complied with the substance of the King's mandate by requiring him to abstain from preaching. The defence was declared to be unsatisfactory; the bishop was suspended during the royal pleasure, and the administration of the diocese of London was placed in the hands of the Bishops of Durham, Rochester, and Peterborough. Dr. Sharp expressed his sorrow for having incurred the royal displeasure, and was then relieved from further punishment.10
The King now resolved to compel the universities to throw open their gates to Catholics. He directed the ViceChancellor of Cambridge to admit Alban Francis,“ an ignorant
? Burnet (iii. 108) says that it was proposed to set up an ecclesiastical commission, without calling it the high commission," but with unlimited powers in ecclesiastical cases.
8 Kennet, Complete History of England, iii. 454-456. Sancroft, the Archbishop, declined to act : '"He objected to the superior authority given to a layman, the chancellor, and excused himself on the ground of his age and infirmities. James saw his true reason, and erased his name, not only from the list of commissioners, but also of privy councillors, saying that if he was too infirm to be of the first, he was equally so to be of the other.” Lingard (1830), viii. 377, note.
9 See pp. 445-446.