Church and State in England in the mid-eighteenth century: the Newcastle years 1742-1762

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Taylor, Stephen John Charles 

This dissertation is a work of political and social , as well as ecclesiastical, history, a contribution, above all, to the reassessment of the nature and functioning of the English state in the eighteenth century. It takes issue with the assumption that the Church of England can be regarded as a discrete subject in the history of eighteenth-century England. During this period it was still a central part of the English state; its courts remained important, its parishes had many secular functions, it controlled most of the nation's education and organized much of its charity, and, preeminently, it was responsible for teaching men to be 'good' citizens and subjects. It is the contention of this dissertation both that the Church was an integral part of politics in the eighteenth century, and that the interests of the Church were not wholly subordinated to those of a secular state. These themes are developed through the thesis which is divided into five sections. Part I, the introduction, is itself divided into two Chapters. The first emphasizes that eighteenth-century politics was concerned, above all, with the exercise of power. It is within the context of government and administration that the importance of the Church is most apparent. The second chapter provides an account of the physical and spiritual state of the Church. Each of the remaining four sections concentrates on one aspect of church-state relations. Section 2 examines contemporary ideas about the relationship of church and state, demonstrating the emphasis that was placed on their interdependence and the inseparability of secular and spiritual matters. Through an examination of the management of the crown's ecclesiastical patronage section 3 explores ministers' perceptions of the Church's role and the extent to which they were able to determine its character. The next section considers the clergy's perception of the role of the Church, both as part of the temporal government and as an institution concerned with the spiritual condition of men, and the ways in which they were able to resolve the apparent contradictions in this dual role. Finally, the place of the Church in parliamentary and high politics is discussed. This final section explores the tensions and conflicts that did arise between church and state in the years 1742-62, the extent to which the Church was able to preserve its independence against secular encroachments, and the willingness of churchmen and ministers to contemplate reforms to enable the Church to perform its duties, both secular and spiritual more effectively.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge