The Church Union
The organisation was founded as the Church of England Protection Society on May 12, 1859 to challenge the authority of the English civil courts to determine questions of doctrine. It changed its name to the English Church Union in May 1860.
In particular, it was active in defending Anglo-Catholic priests such as Arthur Tooth, Sidney Faithorn Green and Richard William Enraght against legal action brought under the Public Worship Regulation Act 1874. This passing of this law was secured by Archbishop of Canterbury Archibald Campbell Tait to restrict the growing Oxford Movement and had the support of the then prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.
One of the most famous attempts at prosecution under the 1874 Act began in 1888. It was aimed against Edward King (bishop of Lincoln), but the Archbishop of Canterbury Edward Benson (bishop) revived his own archiepiscopal court (inactive since 1699) to avoid the prosecution of the saintly King in a lay court.
Such prosecutions ended in 1906 after a Royal Commission recognized pluralism in worship, but the act was not repealed until the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. In 1933 the English Church Union merged with the Anglo-Catholic Congress to form the present organisation.
- Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church (Part II), Adam & Charles Black: place, 1980, p.354.
- Official website
- The History of the English Church Union 1859-1894, Rev. G. Bayfield Roberts (1895).
- Historical resources on the ECU from Project Canterbury
- Records relating to the ECU at Lambeth Palace Library
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