Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Glorious Revolution III: theToleration Act

Although the Glorious Revolution was viewed by many as enabling the restoration of the supremacy of the established Church, they were soon disappointed. In May 1689 the Toleration Act allowed:
1. Freedom of worship to all who took the oaths of supremacy and allegiance and made declarations against transubstantiation.
2. Dissenters’ meeting-houses to be registered with the bishop or at the Quarter Sessions. Services had to be conducted with the doors open. The Test Acts remained; this led to the practice of occasional conformity.
In effect, the Act allowed freedom of worship though not rights to hold public office to Protestant Dissenters. John Locke:
‘Toleration has bow at last been established by law in our country. Not perhaps so wide in scope as might be wished for … Still it is something to have progressed so far.’
The exclusive relationship between citizenship and Anglicanism was severed. Meeting-houses proliferated. By 1710 over 2,500 places were licensed – there were about 9,500 Anglican parish churches. Although Dissenters were still deprived of public office by the Test Act, the practice of Occasional Conformity and the granting of indemnities in practice allowed many of them to sit on corporations and to vote.