Nonjuring schism

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The nonjuring schism was a split in the Anglican churches of England, Scotland and Ireland in the aftermath of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, over whether William of Orange and his wife Mary could legally be recognised as King and Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland.

The word "nonjuring" means "not swearing [an oath]", from the Latin word iuro or juro meaning "to swear an oath".

Many of the Anglican clergy felt legally bound by their previous oaths of allegiance to James II and, though they could accept William as regent, they could not accept him as king. It was not necessarily a split on matters of religious doctrine, but more of a political issue and a matter of conscience, though most of the nonjurors were high church Anglicans.[1] Thus, latitudinarian Anglicans were handed control of the Church of England. The nonjurors thus were nominally Jacobite, although they generally did not actively support the Jacobite rebellions in 1715 or 1745.

Nonjuring bishops

Five of the "Seven Bishops" who had petitioned James against the Declaration of Indulgence became nonjurors, along with four other bishops. The nine nonjuring English bishops were:

* Among the Seven Bishops.

These nine nonjuring bishops were joined by about 400 other Anglican clerics,[2] a substantial majority of the bishops in Scotland and one bishop in Ireland. In February 1690, the six surviving nonjuring English bishops were deprived of their sees and deposed (Thomas, Cartwright and Lake had already died). In Scotland the Episcopal Church was disestablished and Presbyterianism reintroduced. When the vacant sees were filled, some refused to recognise the new bishops and the nonjurors appointed their own bishops. In 1694, George Hickes (Dean of Worcester) was consecrated nonjuring bishop of Thetford and Thomas Wagstaffe was consecrated nonjuring bishop of Ipswich.

Wagstaffe died in 1712 and Hickes remained the only surviving nonjuring bishop; however he himself consecrated several successors. The nonjurors themselves split about 1717 over the issue of whether to introduce modifications in the Book of Common Prayer. One party, the usagers, led by Jeremy Collier and Thomas Brett, supported the restoration of four apostolic usages to the communion service. These included the mixed chalice, the prayers of epiklesis and invocation and prayers for the dead. The non-usagers, led by Charles Leslie and Nathaniel Spinckes, opposed any change to the established liturgy. The dispute was agitated in several dozen pamphlets. The rift was repaired in 1732.


Some of the more prominent nonjurors included:

In addition, virtually all members of the Episcopal Church of Scotland were nonjurors, since that church, as a body, remained loyal to the Stuarts until the 1780s.


The nonjuring clergy and congregations gradually declined throughout the 18th century, as Jacobitism itself largely disappeared after the Second Jacobite rebellion of 1745. The schism was largely ended in 1788, when Charles Edward Stuart died in exile. Unwilling to recognise his heir, his brother Henry Benedict Stuart, who was a cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, the Scottish Episcopal Church elected to recognise the House of Hanover and offer allegiance to George III. Still, some lines of succession of nonjuring bishops were maintained until the end of the century, and the Scottish episcopate in 1784 consecrated the first American bishop, high church Samuel Seabury, of Connecticut and Rhode Island, who was made 2nd Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. Anglicanism in New England, and outside Virginia generally, was tied to Tory Loyalists ever since the Dominion of New England was set up by the Duke of York proprietor of the Province of New York (the later James II, progenitor of Jacobitism). The more low church and Whig Patriot wing of the American church stemmed from Virginia, and was secured in seniority for the presiding bishops' lineage of succession through Pennamite William White, who was consecrated by the English episcopate. Nonjurors would have an influence on John Henry Newman and other Tractarians in the early and mid nineteenth century, and the modern Anglican Use within Catholicism.


  1. Ashley, Maurice. Glorious Revolution of 1688. page 255.
  2. PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Non-Jurors". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Broxap, Henry, "'The Later Non-jurors," Cambridge University Press, 1924.
  • Cornwall, Robert, "Visible and Apostolic," 1993
  • Ollard, S. L., "The Nonjurors," 1912
  • Overton, John, "The Nonjurors," 1902

External links