Video Vision by Fearson S.

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By Fearson S.

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Several loyalist bishops exerted pressure on the clergy to produce addresses. 40 But the addresses from the clergy of the Church of ­England accounted for only six out of more than two hundred published in the Gazette. It is less likely that the government engineered many of the other addresses, such as the address sent by the Congregationalists of Cockermouth in Westmorland. It seems unlikely that either the central or the county administration would have felt a need to engineer a public endorsement from such a remote and obscure congregation.

It would be preferable to describe the king’s tolerationist supporters using a name that they gave themselves. But we cannot do so, because they did not choose a name. The men and women who rallied together for religious toleration in ­England in 1687 and 1688 saw no need for a collective name. They presented themselves as a large group of concerned citizens. 25 They were visionaries. They claimed that their program had universal benefits and was not designed to aid a mere clique or party. ”26 These were descriptions, but they were not names.

Many historians have treated with skepticism the king’s Declaration for Liberty of Conscience of April 1687, in which he proclaimed his belief in liberty of conscience and suspended the execution of the laws and Test Acts that penalized religious nonconformity. Almost as soon as James issued his Declaration, contemporaries questioned his sincerity in issuing it, and historians have expressed similar doubts. Many of the king’s contemporaries contended that James was engaged in a duplicitous design to divide and conquer his enemies by detaching the Protestant dissenters from the Anglicans and using their support to destroy the Church of ­England, after which the dissenters themselves would be destroyed.

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