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The Church of England and the Bangorian Controversy, 1716-1721

The Church of England and the Bangorian Controversy, 1716-1721

ANDREW STARKIE
Volume: 14
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81jgz
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  • Book Info
    The Church of England and the Bangorian Controversy, 1716-1721
    Book Description:

    The Bangorian Controversy was the most bitterly fought ideological battle of eighteenth-century England. Benjamin Hoadly, the low-church Bishop of Bangor, brought the wrath of his fellow churchmen upon himself when he preached his sermon ‘The nature of the Kingdom, or church, or Christ’ before the king in 1717: it denied the spiritual authority of the church, and was a call for a further Reformation. The struggle that followed was bitter, with far-reaching consequences. This first full-length study of the Controversy highlights its relationship with the 'Whig schism', illuminating an important aspect of the early career of Robert Walpole; it also brings out the theological and political tensions within English society during this era. High churchmen, low churchmen, Dissenters and deists all published their own controversial works, taking positions for or against the Bishop of Bangor. ‘The Church of England and the Bangorian Controversy’ is therefore an outline of the ideological landscape of English society as it entered the Georgian age. ANDREW STARKIE is Curate in the Diocese of Newcastle.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-519-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Chapter One LOCATING THE BANGORIAN CONTROVERSY
    (pp. 1-18)

    Writing in the late nineteenth century, the church historian Charles Abbey confessed, ‘our readers are spared the once famous Bangorian controversy. Its tedious complications are almost a by-word to those who are at all acquainted with the Church History of the period.’¹ A century later, J. C. D. Clark was keener to emphasize the great importance of the dispute – ‘the most bitter domestic ideological conflict of the century’ – to the history of English church and society. He nevertheless lamented that the literature of the Bangorian controversy was ‘[s]o extensive . . . that historians have been deterred from...

  5. Chapter Two RELIGION AND THE WHIG SCHISM
    (pp. 19-48)

    The fierce divisions amongst whigs between 1716 and 1720 found expression in large part in Bangorian discourse. During these years the prince of Wales set up a rival court against the king, and Robert Walpole and Viscount Townshend led a group of whigs in opposition to the ministry of Stanhope and the earl of Sunderland. It would be simplistic to say that divisions amongst the whigs were simply about religion, but attitudes to the church did occupy a pivotal place in shaping those divisions.¹ It is instructive therefore to examine both the context of these divisions amongst the whigs, and...

  6. Chapter Three CULTURE AND CONTENTION
    (pp. 49-72)

    Whilst the conflicting Bangorian discourses found their political embodiment in the whig schism, they also found material expression in paper and ink. The historian of ideas is concerned solely with the intellectual content of controversy, but the historian of print culture must, on the other hand, attend also to the processes of writing, printing and distribution, to the work of hack writers and doggerel poets, to satire and to the visual dimension of print, as well as to the learned treatises and the formulations of doctrine of eminent divines. This chapter examines the carrying on of controversy – the writing,...

  7. Chapter Four THE ANATOMY OF THE CONTROVERSY
    (pp. 73-102)

    In March 1719 a six-penny pamphlet was published, written by a young whig fellow of Merton College, Oxford, Thomas Herne, under the pseudonym ‘Philanagnostes Criticus’. Entitled An Account of All the Considerable Pamphlets that have been Published on Either Side in the Present Controversy between the Bishop of Bangor and Others, to the End of the Year MDCCXVIII, it was an astute contemporary assessment of the controversy. Herne held strong latitudinarian and tolerationist views, and he did not disguise his Hoadleian bias in his Account. His partisanship, however, did not significantly impair his judgment about the importance of the various...

  8. Chapter Five POPERIES AND REFORMATIONS
    (pp. 103-125)

    An examination of the literature of the Bangorian controversy reveals that one of the main issues dividing the controversialists was their understanding of the history of the church, and especially their understanding of the English Reformation. Hoadleian low churchmen understood the English Reformation to have been carried on by parliament and the crown, to have restored the rights of the laity against the clergy, to have been driven by a liberty of private judgment against enforced dogma, to have been carried on in stages for reasons of political pragmatism, and to be incomplete. High churchmen in contrast held to a...

  9. Chapter Six THE HERMENEUTICS OF HERESY
    (pp. 126-154)

    Perhaps the most striking feature of the Bangorian controversy, given the moderate reputation of the eighteenth-century Church of England, is the absence of the middle ground. The rhetorical appeal to the via media was not, of course, absent – it was, in fact, ubiquitous – but in reality Hoadly’s sermon acted as a catalyst to polarize opinion within the Church of England. Even Roland Stromberg, eulogizing in the 1950s upon the religious ‘liberals’ of the eighteenth century, conceded that the middle ground had disappeared from the Church of England during the Bangorian controversy, and that, in his words, one was...

  10. Chapter Seven THE POLITICS OF PIETY
    (pp. 155-187)

    Piety was amongst the most fiercely disputed issues in the Bangorian controversy, and, as well as being the subject of the opening part of Hoadly’s sermon, also dominated much of the immediate response to it. Andrew Snape’s first Letter to Hoadly, for example, the prompt high church answer to the low church bishop, had almost half its pages dedicated to the subject of piety. Not even the question of church authority could rival that of piety for the vehemence that characterized the debate.¹ Existing analysis of the controversy has, however, tended to overlook the dispute concerning piety, and when it...

  11. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 188-191)

    As Thomas Herne’s apology for his own labours indicates, the Bangorian controversy has from the beginning required its digesters and commentators. Much of the dispute concerned the question of what the dispute was about: Herne’s view that the controversy concerned ‘Protestant Popery’ took a Hoadleian perspective. That view has had its proponents in the intervening years. Henry Hallam, for example, writing in the nineteenth century could confidently maintain that ‘the principles of Hoadley [sic] and his advocates appeared, in the main, little else than those of protestantism and toleration’.² Were this actually the case, the dispute would, of course, be...

  12. Appendix I. NEW PAMPHLETS PER MONTH
    (pp. 192-192)
  13. Appendix II. PAMPHLET MAP OF THE BANGORIAN CONTROVERSY
    (pp. 193-201)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 202-252)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 253-259)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 260-263)