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Declaration of Indulgence 1672

The Declaration of Indulgence granted by Parliament in 1672 allowed for the licensing of nonconformist ministers and meeting houses.   The records provide an insight into the widespread support across Northamptonshire at this time.  The records have been published in two booklets in 1875 an 1912.   Extracts from both are reproduced below, together with a summary of the records themselves.

Nonconformity in Northamptonshire 1672

Written specially for the Northampton Mercury, Saturday, Feb. 6, 1875 From the original documents in the Record Office, with notes.

by John B. Marsh

Though not generally known, it is a fact that in the Public Record Office, London, there exists a complete list of the founders of Nonconformity in England and Wales. Among many thousands of big brown paper bundles, containing memoranda relating to the domestic History of England during hundreds of past years, is one filled with scraps of paper on which names only are written. There are nearly 8,400 in all; and they are the names of those who in 1672 were licensed to preach, or licensed to have preaching in their houses. This was ten years after the Act of St. Bartholomew was put in force, by which several thousands of godly ministers were ejected from their Church livings, and. formed the first body of Nonconformist ministers. For ten years, notwithstanding the moat fearful persecutions, the ejected maintained their independence. Now the time had come for a respite, and the process by which it was effected created the list still preserved. Charles II, instigated by some of his advisers — Parliament not sitting at the time — constituted the Nonconformists a power in the State, by conferring upon them civil rights and religious liberty. This was effected by issuing what was called a Declaration of Indulgence; all the penal laws in operation against them were suspended, and they were directed to apply forthwith for licenses to secure themselves from the troubles they had endured in the past. Applications were sent to Whitehall, that old palace of the King’s, which was the scene of most of his revels, and of which a fragment only, now remains. Here in a leathern sack, hidden away in some cellar, the precious list of names survived the disasters which befell the palace by fire and water; and after the lapse of nearly two centuries have been brought to light once more. This list has never yet been published, either as a whole or in part. Such a task was surrounded with many difficulties: the names were without order and difficult to read. To be of use it was necessary, first, to copy the whole; then arrange them in the order of counties; afterwards to place the names in alphabetical order; and, finally, selecting such as were ejected in 1662, to write a few lines of biography for each. — The following are the names relating to Northamptonshire. It will be noticed that many of the places are spelt in a strange way. They are exact copies of the originals, and it was not desirable, therefore, to introduce the modern spelling. The abbreviations used are as follow: — O.H., own house; P., Presbyterian; C., Congregational; B., Baptist; A., Anabaptist; I., Independent.

A close examination of the list will reveal many interesting facts. For instance, Thomas Came preached the Baptist faith in one village and Presbyterian principles in another. Lady Pickering also allowed a Presbyterian to preach in her house one day and a Congregational preacher on another.

The fate of the Indulgence was soon sealed. As soon as Parliament met in 1673, it was withdrawn, on the ground that the King had no right to suspend penal statutes in matters ecclesiastical.

Northants Nonconformity 250 Years Ago

by F. Ives Cater, 1912

In Northamptonshire (including Market Harborough and Bowden) 44 ministers were licensed (21 Presbyterian, 19 Congregational, and 4 Baptist), and 74 meeting places (38 Presbyterian, 34 Congregational, and 2 Baptist).

By far the larger part of the Northamptonshire licences were applied for and received by Nathaniel Ponder on behalf of the various persons and places concerned, Probably he was connected with the Rothwell Congregational Church, for John Ponder was one of the first elders there, and Susannah Ponder’s house in Rothwell was licensed. John Browning, the second minister of that church, and the one licensed in 1672, married Susannah Ponder as his second wife. The licences for Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering and all the middle part of the county, were obtained through Nathaniel Ponder. Those of Daventry were applied for by Robert Steele. Some for the north of the county came through Thomas Taylor.

We now proceed to give a complete list of all ministers and places licensed in Northamptonshire. The letters “C” and “P” placed after the names indicate “Congregational” and “Presbyterian” respectively. Of the forty-five men ejected from Northamptonshire pulpits in 1662, twenty two remained in the county, and were licensed in 1672. It is worthy of notice, however, that with the exception of Maidwell of Kettering, Resbury of Oundle, and Courtman of Thorpe Malsor (a family chaplain), all of them had removed from the town or village where they originally ministered — an indication, forcible enough, of the effect of the Five Mile Act. (Floyd of Woodford removed to Ipswich, and then returned).

The Indulgence was cancelled, under pressure of Parliament, in 1673, and the licences were recalled in 1675, but the results for nonconformity were permanent. Sir John Reresby, writing at the time, describes it as ” the greatest blow that ever was given, since the King’s restoration to the Church of England; all sectaries by this means repairing publicly to their meetings and conventicles, insomuch that all the laws and care of their execution against these separatists afterwards could never bring them back to due conformity.” The two or three years’ breathing space it secured enabled nonconformists to organize themselves, and to recover the position lost during the period of rigid repression. More persecution was to follow before legal toleration was granted them, but henceforth they were too strong for repressive measures to be successful in putting them down,. In the episcopal return for 1675 it is asserted that “many left the Church upon the Indulgence, who before did frequent it.” That is to say, many who from fear of persecution, had adopted occasional conformity now took courage to worship with their brethren. A large number of nonconformist churches existing to-day date their formation and continuous life from the Declaration of Indulgence of 1672.

In Northamptonshire the following churches can claim a consecutive existence from 1662 to the present day, viz., Rothwell (1655), Kettering, Market Harborough, Northampton (Doddridge), Oundle, Weedon, Wellingborough; and possibly Daventry and Kilsby. Ashley, Geddington, and Yardley Hastings date from 1672.

ParishPreacher or Meeting HouseDenominationNotes
1GREAT ADDINGTONHouse of Samuel WhitbyeP
2ADSTONEROBERT ALLEN (ejected from Norton)P
House of Edward Hardy, Esq.P
3ASHBY ST LEGERSWILLIAM BUTLER (ejected from Hazlebeach)P
House of William ButlerP
4GREAT BOWDENNICHOLAS KESTIN (ejected from Gumley, Leicestershire)P
House of Nicholas KestinP
House of John HeathC
5LITTLE BOWDENHouse of James TaylorP
House of Christopher StanleyC
7BRIGSTOCKHouse of Edward BrookesC
8CRANFORDNATHANIEL WHITING (ejected from Aldwinckle)C
House of Nathaniel WhitingC
9CRANSLEYHENRY WILLES (ejected from Loddington)P
House of Henry WillesP
10DAVENTRYÿJAMES CAVE (ejected from Crossthwaite)P
DANIEL WILLIAMS, D.D. (silenced in 1662, and here received a "general" licence)P
House of James CaveP
House of Widow ManleyP
House of John HawtynP
House of Allen LinzeyP
11DENTONGEORGE BIDBANCKE, M.A. (ejected from Scotto, Norfolk)-C
12DOGSTHORPEHouse of Walter SlyeP
13DUNCOTRALPH PUNNE, at the house of John OvertonC
(See Green?s Norton)
House of William HoltAnabaptist
House of Baxter SlyesP
15GEDDINGTONVINCENT ALSOP (ejected from Wilby)CVincent Alsop, M.A.,was ejected] from the Rectory of Wilby. He was imprisoned for six months at Northampton for praylng with a sick person. This was the only occasion he was imprisoned. Many informations were afterwards sworn against this, but they failed in their object through Ignorance of Mr. Alsop?s Christian name. He died in 1703.
House of Vincent AlsopC
Application was also made for a licence for "the schoole house," but this was not granted
16GREEN?S NORTONHouse of Ralph Punne (see Duncot)C
House of Rebecca MulsoeC
18ISLIPJOHN SEATON (ejected from Twywell)PJohn Seaton was ejected from the Rectory of Tywell, and afterwards he established a school at Islip.
A "general" licence.
19ISHAMÿJOHN BAYNARD (ejected from Burton Latimer)C
House of Robert GrayC
20KETTERINGJOHN MAIDWELL (ejected from Kettering)CJohn Maydwell, MA., was ejected from the Rectory of Kettering. Sir Thomas and Lady Alston were amongst his best friends. He was once imprisoned for Nonconformity, and on several occasions escaped arrest by adopting a disguise. In 1692 he died, aged 83.
THOMAS PERKINS (ejected from Burley, Rutland)P
House of John MaidwellPMaidwell was first licensed to preach in Widow Cooper?s house, and afterwards applied for a licence for his own house In the actual licence it is incorrectly endorsed "Presbyterian"
House of Widow CooperC
21KILSBYSTEPHEN FOWLER (ejected from Crick)P
House of Stephen FowlerP
22KINGS CLIFFEHouse of Thomas BroomeC
23MARKET HARBOROUGHÿMATTHEW CLARKE (ejected from Narborough)P"It is desired by Matthew Clarke of the Presbyterian Persuasion, living at Market Harborough in Leicestershire, that he may be Licensed to preach in any Licensed Place"
House of William HartshorneC
House of Robert BasseP
House of Thomas MoreP
In the Episcopal Returns for 1669 we have an earlier glimpse of nonconformity in Market Harborough It is reported that there are about 100 Presbyterians "of the middle sort" (ie station in life) and the "Heads or Teachers" are returned as "Mr Matthew Clarke Chaplaine formerly to Colonell Hacker, Thomas Lang dale, Mr Browning an ejected minister, and Mr Shuttlewood"
The return for Great Bowden reads: "About 200 Presbyterians" " of the better sort," Teachers "Matthew Clarke and Mr Shuttlewood, one Mr Southall an ejected minister, Mr Kestyn ejected out of the vicaridge of Gumley, Mr Langdale formerly Curate of Bowden Magna, Mr Wilson ejected out of the vicaridge of Foxton" This valuable information deepens our regret that the returns for Northamptonshire have not been found.
24MEARS ASHBYTHOMAS ANDREWS (ejected from Wellingborough)PThomas Andrews was ejected from the vlcarage of Welllngborough. He afterwards frequently preached at Lady Tyrrel?s.
House of Thomas AndrewsP
House of William GarrettP
25NASSINGTONWILLIAM OLIVER (ejected from Glap. thorne)PWilliam Oliver was ejected from a church at Glaptborn. For several years he acted as chaplain to Lady Norcliff. He died in 1686, aged 72.
House of William OliverP
House of John OliverP
26NEWTONHouse of John MansellC
House of Robert MaunsellP
27NORTHAMPTONRICHARD HOOKE (ejected from Creaton)PRichard Hooke was ejected from the Rectory of Creaton, and afterwards established a school.
JOHN HARDING (?ejected from Melksham, Wilts)P
House of Richard HookeP
House of John HardingP
House of John ClarkP
House of Valentine ChadockP
House of Robert MasteyC
House of Samuel WolfordC
28GREAT OAKLEY" MR. FRANCIS DANDY In ye mansion house of Mrs. Margaret Brooke ."P
29OUNDLERICHARD ROSBURY (ejected from Oundle)CRichard Rosbury resigned the Vicarage of Oundle six weeks before Bartholemew day arrived. He subsequently practised physic, and preached as opportunity served.
ROBERT WILD (ejected from Aynho)PRobert Wilde, D.D., was ejected from the Rectory of Ayno. He is said to have been a very worthy, as well as a very serious-minded, man. There were two candidates for-the Rectory, Dr. Wilde and someone else, and each preached a sermon to the parishioners before a choice was made. After his appointment, the Dr. was asked whether he had been chosen. He replied, "We have divided it; I have got the Aye,? and my opponent the No.?" He died in 1679. aged 70.
House of Richard ResburyC
House of Robert WildP
House of Thomas FownesP
House of Mary BritonP
House of Isaac SpenceAnabaptist
House of William ShippsP
House of Barnaby KnowlesP
House of John BladwickP
31POLEBROOK" MATTHEW ORLEBAR to be a Pr. Teacher in his house in Polebrook."P
House of John MortonC
33ROTHWELLÿTHOMAS BROWNING (ejected from Desborough)CThomas Browning was ejected from the vicarage of Desborough, and was imprisoned for preaching, in Northampton Gaol. He died in 1685.
House of Thomas BrowningC
House of Susannah PonderC
Application was also made for "Mr Thomas Browning in a place called ye Nunery in Rothwell " result not stated
34RUSHDEN (?Rushden or Rushton)House of Mr. WolestonC
House of Samuel SturgessP
36SIJLGRAVEHouse of Thomas HaycockP
37THORPE MALSORJOHN COURTMAN (ejected from Thorpe Malsor)CJohn Courtman, B.D., was ejected from the Rectory of Thorp Medsworth. He afterwards preached in the house of the patron of the living, and practised physic with great success.
House of John MansellC
38TITCHMARSHHENRY SEARLE (ejected from Cranford)C
NATHANIEL WHITING (ejected from Aldwinckle)CNathan Whiting, MA., was ejected from the Rectory of Aldwinckle. The Earl of Peterborough offered him his choice of three livings if he would conform, but he courteously refused.
Whiting was licensed for Titchmarsh in addition to Cranford because Henry Searle died about April, 1672
In" ye mansion house of ye Lady Pickering"C
George Fowler in "ye house and barn of James Cole".C
39TOWCESTERHouse of Charles GoreC
40TWYWELLROBERT EKINS (ejected from Trinity College, Cambridge)C
House of Mrs. Elizabeth MulsoeC
42WARMINGTONJOHN ROWLETT (ejected from Sudborough)PJohn Rowlett was ejected from the Rectory of Sudborough, but continued preaching until his death.
"Ye mansion house of Mrs. Anne Elmes "P
House of John BillingP
44WELFORDHouse of Henry SteeleP
House of Richard BarnesC
"A Large Roome Adjoining to and belonging to ye house of Richard Atkins ".C
Application was also made for "Mr Vincent Alsop in a certaine room over ye schoole in Wellingborough " but this was not granted; Mr Alsop received one for Geddington, and could use it in Wellingborough
46WILBARSTONHouse of Thomas AldwinckleC
47WOLLASTONTHOMAS BRETT in "John Morice his barn ".C
THOMAS EDMONDS in John Brook?s house-C.C
48WOODFORDWILLIAM FLOYD (ejected from Woodford)CWilliam Floyd was ejected from a living at Woodford. lie practised physic, and was commonly called Dr. Floyd.
House of William WellsC

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