Living with Uniformity: the Church of England and Dissent, 1662 to 1689, A conference to mark the 350th anniversary of the Act of Uniformity, The John Rylands Library, 27 June 2012.
2012 marks the 350th anniversary of the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Widely regarded as the act which both defined what it was to be a member of, or a dissenter from, the Church of England, it was of vital importance for English political, social, and cultural, as well as religious, history. Politically, for example, during the next twenty five years, major pieces of legislation were passed which either enforced or softened the implementation of the act, and within nonconformist historiography this is often seen as ‘the age of persecution’. While there is no doubt that dissenters could be treated harshly in this period, nevertheless, as some recent research has indicated, the history of dissent was more nuanced and multi-faceted than this blanket label assumes. Moreover the terms ‘Church of England’ and ‘dissent’ are complicated by the fact that a growing body of evidence suggests that people were not simply members of one or the other, and that boundaries between ‘the Church’ and ‘dissent’ were more fluid than some older research implied.
This conference will explore the history of all Protestant nonconformist denominations in the period between 1662 and the so-called ‘Toleration Act’ of 1689, when they were given (some) relief, and their relations with the established Church. Some questions contributors might ask include: what was the relationship between ‘the Church’ and ‘dissent’; how did the different nonconformist denominations fare; and what were the social and cultural consequences of and for dissent during these years?
- Dr Jacqueline Rose (University of St Andrews)
- Dr George Southcombe (Brasenose College, Oxford)
The Conference will coincide with a major exhibition at the John Rylands Library on ‘St Bartholomew’s Day 1662: the triumph of bigotry and the birth of toleration’.
Dr Peter Nockles