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John Henry Williams (1747-1829): `Political Clergyman'

John Henry Williams (1747-1829): `Political Clergyman': War, the French Revolution, and the Church of England

COLIN HAYDON
Volume: 16
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 192
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt81pmd
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  • Book Info
    John Henry Williams (1747-1829): `Political Clergyman'
    Book Description:

    John Henry Williams was the vicar of Wellesbourne in south Warwickshire from 1778 until his death some fifty years later. A dedicated pastor, displaying an `enlightened and liberal' outlook, his career illuminates the Church of England's condition in the period, and also a clergyman's place in local society. However, he was not merely a country parson. A `political clergyman', Williams engaged fervently in both provincial and national political debate, denouncing the war with revolutionary France between 1793 and 1802, and published a series of forceful sermons condemning the struggle on Christian principles. To opponents, he appeared insidious and blinkered, but to admirers he was 'a sound divine, and not a less sound politician'. This book, the first to examine Williams' career in full, is a detailed, vivid, and sometimes moving, study of a man who occupies an honorable and significant position in the Church of England's history and in the history of British peace campaigning. Dr COLIN HAYDON teaches in the Department of History at the University of Winchester.

    eISBN: 978-1-84615-558-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-xi)
    Colin Haydon
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xii-xii)
  6. EDITORIAL NOTE
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. Chapter One THE GRAVE AND THE MEMORY
    (pp. 1-17)

    John Henry Williams was vicar of Wellesbourne in Warwickshire for over fifty years. He died on 12 May 1829 at Leamington, and, six days later, when his body had been brought back to Wellesbourne, his funeral was conducted at the church, St Peter’s, which he had served so faithfully. He was buried in the graveyard, by the church porch.¹ If one visits Wellesbourne today, his resting place is easily overlooked: the worn, dingy horizontal slab which marks it has no decoration, no laudatory epitaph, only the simple inscription ‘IHW 1829’, the letters and numbers thick with moss.

    Williams’ inconspicuous grave...

  8. Chapter Two THE FORMATIVE YEARS
    (pp. 18-36)

    On 10 April 1747, John Henry Williams, the son of John and Mary Williams, was baptized in Gloucester cathedral.¹ As an adult, he would carefully commemorate the day on which he had received the sacrament admitting him to the body of Christ’s church.² That the infant was christened in the splendid medieval cathedral which dominated the city of Gloucester, and not merely in his parents’ parish church, was a mark of honour in a society wedded to conceptions and expressions of hierarchy.³ For John Williams was a prominent citizen of Gloucester and a scion of a proud, distinguished family.

    The...

  9. Chapter Three THE IVY-MANTLED TOW’R: PARISH AND PASTORALIA
    (pp. 37-62)

    It is unclear whether, in 1778, Williams envisaged spending the rest of his life in south Warwickshire. It is possible that he developed reservations about resubscribing to the Thirty-Nine Articles and that, since resubscription would have been required had he obtained significant preferment, he became content to remain at Wellesbourne.¹ But there is evidence that, as late as 1807, he hoped for a more lucrative and more prestigious living.² Nonetheless, he doubtless found Wellesbourne and its locality congenial.

    During the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, south Warwickshire became increasingly sophisticated. Its towns prospered and developed leisure facilities; and Williams no...

  10. Chapter Four THE GATHERING STORM
    (pp. 63-90)

    Besides his clerical circle, Williams had friends in Warwickshire’s landed society. He was, it seems, always conscious that he himself was a gentleman, with an honourable pedigree. When his mother died in 1800, he conducted the funeral and noted, slightly unnecessarily, in the Wellesbourne parish register ‘Widow of John Williams Esq.’.¹ Williams’ education, both at school and university, gave him poise in polite society. He displayed the social graces, sense of honour, and masculine virtues of the landed gentlemen with whom he mixed, and shared their cultural interests, if not all their social and cultural presumptions. Williams might easily socialize...

  11. Chapter Five BY FAR THE HEAVIEST OF ALL EARTHLY CALAMITIES: WILLIAMS’ ANTI-WAR SERMONS
    (pp. 91-114)

    When he received the instructions for the 1793 fast day, Williams no doubt wondered whether he would be asked to bow the knee to Baal on just that one occasion. Despite the Younger Pitt’s sanguine prediction that the war would be short, it is likely that Williams was pessimistic about the conflict’s duration. The century after the Glorious Revolution had been punctuated by lengthy wars: the War of the League of Augsburg (1689–97); the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13); the War with Spain/of the Austrian Succession (1739–48); the Seven Years’ War (1756–63); and the War...

  12. Chapter Six ANXIETY, THE 1797 CAMPAIGN, AND AFTERWARDS
    (pp. 115-138)

    From 1792, Crown, government, and Parliament sought to subdue radical politics in England.

    In May 1792, George III issued a proclamation urging magistrates to suppress ‘seditious Writings’ and ‘all Riots, Tumults and other Disorders’.¹ The government encouraged the authorities to prosecute radical authors and publishers and, in December, when it apparently thought an insurrection imminent, a second proclamation was issued, embodying the militia.² In May 1794, Habeas Corpus was suspended,³ and, in the same month, the leading radicals Thomas Hardy, John Thelwall, and John Horne Tooke were charged with high treason – though they were subsequently acquitted. The next year,...

  13. Chapter Seven ASSESSMENT
    (pp. 139-154)

    It has been seen that, in his last years, Williams chose to undertake personally, for as long as possible, his duties as vicar of Wellesbourne with Walton Deyville.¹ Now, he was the patriarch of Wellesbourne; in 1828, the year before his death, he celebrated fifty years of his ministry there. His interest in politics continued to wane – hardly surprisingly, since the Tory administrations of the 1810s and 1820s seemed for so long all but invulnerable. Regarding his private concerns, Williams wished to organize his finances effectively and make proper provision for his children after his death. And, having settled...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 155-168)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 169-174)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 175-177)