Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Writings of Canterbury Cathedral Clergy, 1700-1800

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Writings of Canterbury Cathedral Clergy, 1700-1800

Article excerpt

A neglected aspect of the life of the English cathedrals lies in the writings of their clergy. In earlier studies I attempted to consider the voluminous publications of these clerics during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These discussions included, for the Tudor period, a section in my book The Reformation of Cathedrals: Cathedrals in English Society, 1485-1603} and, for the following century, two articles in the Anglican Theological Review' as well as a chapter in Cathedrals under Siege: Cathedrals in English Society, 16001700.3 It would obviously be of interest to continue this account into the eighteenth century, particularly since several recent studies suggest the need to reconsider traditional views of the eighteenth-century church.4 At one time I hoped to undertake an examination of the writings of the eighteenth-century clergy, but since I no longer have access to the excellent research assistants who helped me before my retirement from the University of Minnesota I have concluded that it is impossible for me to manage such a large project.

In place of examining the writings of all the clergy with cathedral appointments during the eighteenth century-there were about two thousand of them-I have now taken the published writings of the clergy of Canterbury cathedral as a sample. This group, which includes the prebendaries who formed the cathedral chapter as well as the several deans and archbishops, is relatively small-just under a hundred clergybut it is large enough to enable us to chart general trends and provide an ample number of interesting specific examples.3 It is not a representative group, for its members were more highly educated and better connected politically than the clergy at most other cathedrals. Almost certainly they were more active in publishing than most of their colleagues elsewhere, especially those in such remote cathedrals as Lichfield, Hereford, or Carlisle. Many of them held office at Canterbury relatively briefly before receiving more important appointments, often as bishops. Others were pluraliste who combined membership in the Canterbury chapter with other offices in the church or the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge. Some of the clergy whose careers spanned the year 1700 are included both in the present account and in the studies of the seventeenth century. Not all of the writings were composed or published during the years the authors held cathedral appointments, and not all were written during the eighteenth century itself: a number of publications had appeared before 1700 and some were to reach publication only after 1800. Anything published by a cleric who held cathedral office during the eighteenth century is included.

Fifty-six of the ninety-six eighteenth-century clergy of Canterbury published one or more books.6 At 58%, this is more than half of the men; it contrasts favorably with the 18% of all the cathedral clergy who published in the seventeenth century (716 out of 2533) or the 7% (197 of 1849) whose works were printed during the years 1485-1603. Sermons were the works most often published during the eighteenth century; they account for 58% of the writings from Canterbury. Theological treatises comprise 14%, political or controversial works and popular or devotional guides 8% each. The actual numbers are set out below.

Since they were the most numerous, we will consider the sermons first. Many of the best known were preached by the archbishops of Canterbury. Eight men held this office during the eighteenth century. Thomas Tenison (archbishop from 1698 to 1715), William Wake (1716-37), and Thomas seeker (1758-68) were leaders of considerable stature. The remaining primatesJohn Potter (1737-47), Thomas Herring (1747-57), Matthew Hutton (1757-58), Frederick Cornwallis (1768-83), and John Moore (1783-1805)-are now largely forgotten, but they too published sermons that were favorably received in their time.7

Tenison's career spanned the reigns of Charles II (1660-85) and his Roman Catholic brother James II (1685-88), the Glorious Revolution of 1689, and the age of the later Stuarts William and Mary (1689-1702) and Queen Anne (1702-14). …

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