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taken up by other organisations having a national character. Their opinions, however, still command large and just deference from statesmen in reference to all questions affecting the civil and religous rights of Nonconformists.

in 1836 the deputies appointed by those Presbyterian congregations which had become Unitarian followed the example of their ministers and seceded from the General Body of Deputies. The Independent deputies were delegated from 53 congregations, which were all orthodox : the Baptist deputies from 36 congregations, 32 of which were orthodox; the Presbyterians from 13 congregations, 3 of which were orthodox. The seceding Presbyterians, therefore, represented 10–or, at most, 13-congregations out of 102. For the secession and its causes, see pp. 497-498, and 640 foll.


The Regium Donum In the reiga of Charles II. a pension of £50 a year was granted by the King to a considerable number of the ejected Presbyterian clergy, and {100 to some of the leading men among them. Richard Baxter sent back the money, and declared that he would never touch it. John Owen also received a thousand guineas from Charles to distribute among the Dissenters who had suffered severely and had been reduced to poverty by the laws against Nonconformity. Towards the end of the reign of Queen Anne, Dr. Daniel Williams refused a thousand pounds which was offered him as coming from the Queen for distribution among the Dissenters.

In 1723-on the suggestion of Daniel Burgess, and with the concurrence of Sir Robert Walpole, the annual grant known as the English Regium Donum was first made. In 1837, on the motion of Mr. Charles Hindley, a Return was made to the House of Commons " of the names of the Committee by whom the Parliamentary Grants to Protestant Dissenting Ministers have been distributed, and the mode in which they are apportioned.” The following statements are made in the Return 27 :

“It appears . . . that when in the year 1723 his Majesty King George I., out of his royal compassion to the distressed condition of many of the Dissenting clergy and their families, directed an annual allowance to be paid out of the royal treasury for their relief, the money was issued every half year, under the customary order, to a gentleman appointed to the office of receiver by his Majesty's Government. After the money had been obtained by that gentleman, the entire sum was divided in equal portions among nine Protestant Dissenting Ministers of great respectability, of the Presbyterian and Independent denominations, residing in London

27 Parl. Papers, 1837 (127)

and the neighbourhood, for the purpose of being distributed in the manner best fitted in their judgment to answer the benevolent intentions of the royal donor.

“These nine Dissenting ministers were in this way constituted the first Committee' (by which, it is presumed, is meant the board of trustees) for the appropriation of the royal grant, each trustee being held responsible for the application of that portion of the money which was placed at his disposal.

The Return goes on to say that this plan was generally acted on in after times. Each trustee distributed his share of the grant, at his earliest convenience, in small sums among such poor Protestant Dissenting ministers as he deemed to be proper objects of the royal charity.

The course thus pursued, with very rare exceptions, during the whole period that the fund to be distributed was strictly a charitable grant from the King's personal bounty, was uniformly followed after the year 1804, when, on the settlement of the civil list by a compact entered into between the King and the Parliament, in reference to the hereditary revenues of the Crown, the grant was directed to be made in future by an annual vote of the House of Commons.

“In the year 1806, after the Royal bounty had thus assumed the form of a Parliamentary grant, the board of trustees consisted of eight Dissenting ministers, highly esteemed in their respective denominations, three of them being Presbyterians, three Independents, and two Baptists. But in 1810 another Baptist minister was added, to make the number equal from each of the denominations ; and this proportion has been maintained to the present time.

“The plan uniformly observed in the apportionment of the Parliamentary grants has been as follows :—The money ... has been divided among them in nine equal portions to be distributed, according to the best of their judgment and discretion, among the most deserving objects in that class of necessitous persons contemplated by the grant-namely, the poor Protestant Dissenting ministers of England and Wales.

“No trustee, however, has made it a rule to confine his exhibitions to the ministers of his particular denomination; the general practice of the whole board has been, when acting collectively or individually, to administer relief, on application, to poor Protestant Dissenting ministers of good character, without reference to the religious class or party to which they belonged."

The trustees made it a rule that not more than £5 should be granted at one time, unless in very exceptional instances, and then only on the approval of the whole board ; and the grant was never repeated to the same person within fifteen or eighteen months. An annual meeting was held, at which the trustees compared their lists to prevent more than one of them making a grant to the same case.

The Return was made by the nine distributors of the grant

and it contains the names of the distributors for the preceding thirty years. At that time the grant amounted to £1,000 a year.

The grant was condemned in a Resolution passed at a meeting of the ministers of the Three Denominations held on January 28, 1834, and it had previously been condemned by the Dissenting Deputies. In 1836 Mr. Aglionby moved for a Return to the House of Commons “ of the names of the Dissenting Ministers who received grants out of the sum annually voted to poor ministers.” This Return appears to have been refused. In March, 1837, a powerful article against it appeared in the Congregational Magazine under the title Historical Notes on the Regium Donum.

For some years the subject provoked warm controversy. Dr. Pye Smith, one of the distributors, who was a member of the Anti-State Church Association-now the Liberation Society-was the principal defender of the Grant. He maintained

1. That George I. and George II. had paid the money out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown, derived from the rents and profits of the royal demesnes, which had always been at the personal disposal of the Kings of England, and which had been expended partly, indeed, in defraying the charges of the executive government, but partly in maintaining the royal establishments, and partly in charitable gifts, permanent or occasional.

2. That on the accession of George III. it was thought advisable to substitute for these hereditary revenues a fixed annual sum, equivalent to them in amount, which obtained the name of the Civil List, and the charges which had hitherto been defrayed out of the hereditary revenues of the Crown were then transferred to the new fund.

3. That a readjustment of the Civil List was made in 1804, under which certain payments which had previously been charged on the Civil List were to be provided for by an annual vote of the House of Commons. Among these payments were certain royal charities, including the bounty to poor French refugee clergy and laity, and to the Dissenting ministers of England and Wales.

4. That although by this change the Regium Donum became a Parliamentary grant, it still remained one of the royal charities which were permanently charged on the royal estates. Parliament took the revenues from the estates and became the royal Almoner. And Parliament made an excellent bargain with the Crown on behalf of the nation : for after defraying all the charges included in the annual votes, the revenue from the royal estates yielded a considerable balance that was appropriated to the public service.

5. That, therefore, the Regium Donum is not derived from the compulsory taxation of the people, and is not open to the objections urged against it by those who object to levy taxes for the support of religion.28

28 See Brief Statement of the Regium Donum and Parliamentary Grant to poor Dissenting ministers by the Trustees, 5-7.

This ingenious argument did not satisfy the opponents of the grant; but though the Nonconformist feeling against it grew in strength every year, the House of Commons showed for some time no disposition to discontinue it. In 1845 Mr. Charles Hindley moved that the grant should cease, but he obtained the support of only three members. In 1847 another return was laid before Parliament, showing (1) the names of the persons by whom the grant was distributed; (2) the proportion of the grant allocated to each sect or Body of Dissenters ; (3) the regulations under which grants were made to individual ministers ; (4) the salaries or allowances made to the persons by whom the grant was distributed. It was stated that the services of the Trustees were entirely gratuitous, and that the whole cost of administration did not exceed £25 a year. Parl. Papers, 1847 (611).

The opposition was renewed with great vigour in 1848 and 1849, without success. The question was raised again in 1850, and Mr. Bright spoke against the grant, which, however, was maintained on a division. Parl. Debates, (Hansard : T.S.), cxiii. 128–131. But in 1851 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that, in deference to the general protest of the Dissenters, the Government would not place the grant on the votes, and from that year the English Regium Donum ceased. The grant appears for the last time in the Estimates for 1851. Parl. Papers, 1851 (211), 1852 (238).29

The Irish Regium Donum, which has a curious history (see an article reprinted in The Congregational Magazine, July, 1835,451-457), was a sum distributed among the Presbyterian ministers of Ireland. In 1836 it amounted to £25,579. It ceased, with provision for existing interests, on the passing of the Act disestablishing the Irish Church in 1869.

29 See, in addition to the references given above, Calamy, Historical Account, ii. 466-468, and the authorities quoted in the notes; and Thomas Rees, Sketch of the History of the Regium Donum and Parliamentary Grant to Poor Dissenting Ministers of England and Wales : a Vindication (1834).







N 1717 the Dissenters of Exeter began to fear that some

of their ministers had surrendered their belief in the doctrine of the Trinity, and had become Arian. The controversy created by their alarm extended from Exeter to London, and had important results on the relations between the Presbyterian and Congregational Churches, and on the subsequent fortunes of Congregationalism.


The denial of the doctrine of the Trinity had long been regarded in England with great horror. It was a crime for which nothing short of death was an adequate penalty. This was the offence for which Bartholomew Legatt was burnt at Smithfield, and Edward Wightman at Lichfield in 1612." But the flames had not destroyed the heresy. It reappeared among the innumerable forms of religious speculation which alarmed the grave and sober theologians of the Westminster Assembly, when the repression of the bishops ceased at the

1 Fuller, v. 418-425; and see p. 211.

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