Period I The Aftermath of Toleration 1691-1737

CHAPTER 15

THE REACTION

THE Revolution of 1688 marks a turning point in the history of English Quakerism. The frank attempt of James II to bring about a Catholic reaction and the tyrannical measures used to accomplish it finally alienated practically all classes of the nation so that leaders of all parties invited William of Orange and Mary his wife, daughter of James, to become joint sovereigns.

William's experience as a Dutch ruler and his anxiety to unify his new kingdom led him to favor toleration, the comprehension of all Protestants in the national church and the revision of the Test Acts. He failed to accomplish the latter, but in 1689 the Toleration Act was passed, which changed the legal status of all the Nonconformist bodies. At the beginning the king was hostile to Penn and suspicious of the Quakers because of the friendship which James II had for them, but he was gradually convinced of their loyalty.

The Toleration Act merely suspended the penal laws against the Nonconformists, provided their meeting places were registered and they worshiped with unlocked doors. It did not include Popish recusants, nor persons denying

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