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Patronages et clientélismes 1550-1750 (France, Angleterre, Espagne, Italie)

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Roger Mettam
, 
Charles Giry-Deloison

III. Église et armée

The government and the Episcopate in the Mid-Eighteenth Century: the uses of patronage

Stephen Taylor

Note de l’éditeur

I would like to thank Professor D.E.D. Beales for his comments on earlier versions of this article. The evidence on which it is based is discussed at greater length in Stephen TAYLOR, Church and State in England in the Mid-Eighteenth Century: the Newcastle years, 1742-1762, University of Cambridge Ph. D. Dissertation, 1987, chap. 5.

Texte intégral

  • 1 David HUME, "On the independency of parliament", in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. T.H (...)
  • 2 William E.H. LECKY, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century, London, Longmans, 1878-1890, 8 (...)
  • 3 John H. PLUMB, The Growth of Political Stability in England 1675-1725, London, Macmillan, 1967, pp (...)
  • 4 John B. OWEN, The Rise of the Pelhams, London, Methuen, 1957, p. 62.

1Historians of eighteenth-century politics and society commonly view patronage as a tool of political management. There is nothing new about this. Patronage has for long been central to our understanding of eighteenth-century politics. As long ago as 1741 David Hume claimed that "the Crown has so many offices at its disposal, that, when assisted by the honest and disinterested part of the house, it will always command the resolutions of the whole"1. This theme was echoed by Lecky in the late nineteenth century, when he argued that Walpole "employed the vast patronage of the Crown uniformly and steadily with the single view of maintaining his political position"2. And in recent years it has been developed and reasserted by J.H. Plumb. "In the eighteenth century", says Plumb, "[patronage] scarcely bothered to wear a fig-leaf. It was naked and quite unashamed... It was patronage that cemented the political System, held it together, and made it an almost impregnable citadel, impervious to defeat, indifferent to social change"3. This interpretation has survived almost unchallenged, perhaps because patronage in the eighteenth century has been relatively little studied in comparison with earlier periods. There has, indeed, been a vigorous debate about the character of patronage. Some historians characterize it as a form of "private charity", whereas to Plumb and others it appears as "public corruption". But all agree that its "purpose" was to assist in the maintenance of government majorities in parliament4.

  • 5 Richard PARES, King George III and the Politicians, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1953, pp. 24- (...)

2The ecclesiastical patronage of the crown is easily incorporated into this general picture. Church preferments are viewed, even by ecclesiastical historians such as Norman Sykes, as just one more group of jobs distributed by eighteenth-century politicians to gain and maintain support. On the one hand parochial livings and canonries were used, like places in the customs service, for "rewarding powerful lay politicians", by bestowing them on their clients. On the other hand, they were the reward for loyal political service by the clergy, and in this context bishoprics were especially important as a source of "dependable pro-ministerial voting fodder in the House of Lords"5.

3This interpretation has the value of recognizing that eighteenth-century England was no longer the court-centred society that had existed before 1688. Political ministers, not the court, were the dispensers of patronage and political activity was concentrated on parliament, at Westminster, rather than on the court, at St James's. This article, however, will argue that to portray ecclesiastical patronage simply as a tool of parliamentary management involves a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the patronage System in eighteenth-century politics and government. It will concentrate on the appointment of bishops by the whig ministry, especially by the duke of Newcastle, in the middle decades of the eighteenth century. First, the article will look in more detail at the relationship between politics and patronage. Political considerations, above all the demands of parliamentary management, were an integral and unavoidable part of the patronage System, but they were not its rationale. Then the importance of theological considerations in the distribution of patronage will be discussed. Finally, the third part of the article will examine Newcastle's concern for promoting good government in both church and State. Overall, it will show that through the disposal of church livings, and through the appointment of bishops in particular, the duke of Newcastle and the whig ministry were consciously pursuing specific aims, that they were pursuing what might be described as an ecclesiastical policy.

  • 6 Memoirs of a royal chaplain, 1729-1763. The correspondence of Edmund Pyle, D.D. chaplain in ordinar (...)
  • 7 BL, Add. Ms. 32730, f° 144: Pelham to Newcastle, 19 October 1752.

4Before going on, however, the significance of the period chosen for study requires explanation. The middle decades of the eighteenth century, or, to be more precise, the years from the fall of Walpole in 1742 to the appointment of Bute as first lord of the treasury in 1762, witnessed the political supremacy and almost uninterrupted dominance of office by the Pelhamite whigs, led by the duke of Newcastle, his brother Henry Pelham, and their close friend the earl of Hardwicke. Within the ministry church affairs were Newcastle's province. He was, in the words of one critic, "the Fac Totum in ecclesiastic affairs"6. This situation arose primarily from the duke's own inclination and industry. But it also reflected the readiness of his colleagues to entrust to him this part of ministerial business, and the willingness of Pelham in particular to waive the traditional right of the first lord of the treasury to advise the king on the distribution of ecclesiastical patronage. Newcastle was, as his brother remarked, "the only person in the Administration" to speak to the king "upon those points of business"7.

5For twenty years Newcastle was, in effect, an unofficial "ecclesiastical minister". No other minister in the eighteenth century possessed so much influence for so long over the distribution of crown patronage. This period, then, offers a unique opportunity to examine the motives and objectives underlying the patronage of one minister and one administration. The years from 1742 to 1762, however, also have another significance. It is the years of the whig supremacy that lie at the heart of the interpretation of eighteenth-century patronage sketched above. For historians, Newcastle, with his ceaseless and voluminous correspondence about matters of place and pension, has come to symbolize the politician as the distributor of patronage. Opinions may differ about the duke's abilities, but almost without exception he is portrayed as the centre of a System in which politics was dominated by the search for places of profit and honour. To reappraise the patronage of the duke of Newcastle, even just his ecclesiastical patronage, thus has implications for our understanding of eighteenth-century patronage as a whole.

  • 8 Stephen TAYLOR, op. cit., pp. 76-86; John B. OWEN, "George II Reconsidered", in Statesmen, Scholar (...)
  • 9 The figures are for 1742. Daniel R. HIRSCHBERG, "The Government and Church Patronage in England, 1 (...)
  • 10 Including those of Windsor, Westminster and Ripon. The deaneries of St Asaph, Bangor and Llandaff (...)

6Two caveats, however, should be borne in mind. First, Newcastle's control of the ecclesiastical patronage of the crown was never complete. His brother's words are significant-Newcastle was "the only person in the Administration" to advise the king on the distribution of preferments. On the one hand, discussions went on within the ministry. Newcastle passed on to the king ministerial recommendations, and these did not necessarily reflect his own preferences. In 1759, for example, William Warburton was appointed to the bishopric of Gloucester at the insistence of William Pitt, the Secretary of State. On the other hand, the court provided other channels through which applications could be made. But, more significantly, Newcastle could only ever recommend. The final decision was the king's. Although the ministry generally got its own way, George II was never a cipher. He often had his own view and, on occasions, intervened decisively in the preferment of clergymen, even of bishops8. Second, the ecclesiastical patronage of the crown was very limited. The majority of church livings in England and Wales, 53.4%, were in the gift of individual laymen. A further 26% were in the hands of churchmen, mainly bishops and cathedral chapters. The crown was patron of only 9.6% of all preferments9. The influence of the whig ministry over the Church, however, was not as restricted as these figures might suggest. Although the crown was the patron of only a fraction of parochial livings, it appointed to a disproportionate number of the Church's dignities, including 25 deaneries10 and all 26 bishoprics in England and Wales. It is on the latter that this article will concentrate. If it was visionary for ministers to attempt to control the Church through the appointment of its clergy, they could at least hope to mould its character through the choice of its governors.

  • 11 William WEBSTER, A Treatise on Places and Perferments, Especially Church-Perferments, London, 1757 (...)
  • 12 The Weekly Miscellany, t. LXXXII, 6 July 1734, p. 1.

7Some eighteenth-century historians, preoccupied with parliamentary politics and perhaps unduly influenced by early nineteenth-century denunciations of "old corruption", appear to regard patronage in itself as improper and corrupt. But to do so obscures the fact that the rationale of the patronage System was primarily functional. It was a way of doing things, of selecting and appointing people to posts in all walks of life. Reliance on personal knowledge and personal recommendation meant that the System was open to abuse. There were, nonetheless, considerable pressures on patrons to appoint worthy and deserving men. Political historians are inclined to regard patronage as a right. In the eighteenth century, indeed, both the law and public opinion accepted that patronage was a right belonging to an individual. If anything, the concept of patronage as a property right applied most strongly in the Church. An advowson, the right to present to a church living, was a piece of property like any other, and often a very valuable one, which could be bought and sold. There was, however, a corollary. If patronage was a right, that right carried with it an obligation. Contemporary discussions of patronage emphasized its nature "as a Trust"11. In 1734 the Weekly Miscellany published an article which argued that patrons of church livings were trustees in three respects: "They are Trustees for the Clergy, who dedicate themselves to the Office of the Priesthood; they are Trustees for the People, for whose Happiness they were dedicated, and the Priesthood appointed; they are Trustees for Religion, whose Interest and Honour ought to be promoted, as far as may be, by the Administrations of the Clergy"12. The duke of Newcastle, as a devout churchman, would have been well aware of these arguments, well aware of the purpose for which all church livings had been instituted.

  • 13 "The Life of Dr Zachary Pearce", in The lives of Dr Edward Pocock... by Dr Twells; of Dr Zachary P (...)
  • 14 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 269-270: Herring to Hardwicke, 11 July 1747; Add. Ms. 32730, f° 182: Pelham (...)
  • 15 Stephen TAYLOR, "The Bishops at Westminster in the Mid-Eighteenth Century", in A Pillar of the Con (...)

8The vesting of patronage in the hands of ministers of the crown and reliance on personal recommendations, however, politicised the System and ensured that party politics could never be entirely divorced from patronage. This does not mean that dissident whigs and tories were excluded from consideration by Newcastle. On the contrary, numerous examples can be found of his promotion of men linked with his political opponents. In 1748 Zachary Pearce was made bishop of Bangor despite the fact that his patron, the earl of Bath, was in opposition to the ministry. Nine years later he was translated to the bishopric of Rochester and deanery of Westminster which, Pearce claimed, he accepted only at Newcastle's Personal and particular request13 No avowed tories reached the bench of bishops during this period. But Newcastle did promote Jonathan Fountayne, "the first Whig of a very Tory Family", to the deanery of York, and he secured a canonry of Christ Church for Richard Newton, the principal of Hertford College and former tutor of Henry Pelham, who had been "always w[hat]t they call a Tory, but never a Jacobite"14. Nevertheless, the majority of church preferments were undoubtedly bestowed on ministerialists. This was not because Newcastle adopted a vigorous policy of exclusion for the purpose of parliamentary management. Tory peers and members of parliament in particular neither were prepared to petition, nor had close social contacts with, whig ministers. Equally, clergymen with tory sympathies were averse to begging favours from whigs. Even if the ministry did not demand unwavering support in return for preferment, clients were generally recognized to be under some obligation to their patrons, though it is worth remembering that a client would feel the pull of different loyalties. This consideration was obscured in the 1740s and 1750s by the permanence of the whig ministry. But in the 1760s the bishops reacted to the fall of Newcastle in different ways. Some believed that they owed their allegiance to the king rather than Newcastle and gave their support to the ministry of the day. Others followed Newcastle into opposition. Others, including the two archbishops, felt acutely the pull of both loyalties and resolved their predicament by staying away from parliament15.

  • 16 Norman SYKES, Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, 1669-1748. A Study in Politics and Religion in the (...)
  • 17 Ridiard WATSON, "A Letter to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury Printed in 1783", in Sermons o (...)

9The patron-client relationship was, therefore, a complex one. However, these general comments do not answer the main charge against the mid-eighteenth-century episcopate, that it was simply voting fodder for the whig ministry in the House of Lords. This view of the bishops was common among contemporaries as well as historians. Opposition politicians claimed that ministers used the promise of advancement to richer and more prestigious sees as a bribe with which to corrupt the bench. Consequently a bill to prevent the translation of bishops was brought into the House of Commons in 1731 with the avowed intention of lessening their dependence on the ministry16. Half acentury later the same belief informed the ideas of Richard Watson. His proposals to make the revenue and patronage of bishops more equal were intended to increase episcopal independence in the House of Lords. They were framed not so much as a plan of ecclesiastical reform, but more as part of the political campaign for economical reform17. The basis of this opposition critique - the tendency of bishops to support the ministry of the day - cannot be denied. It is not so clear that support was gained by the deliberate exploitation of the patronage at ministers’ disposal.

  • 18 Norman SYKES, Church and State, op. cit., p.63.

10Firstly, an examination of episcopal careers hardly suggests the systematic use of translation as a tool of parliamentary management. Multiple translations were rare. Of the fifty-six bishops who sat on the bench between 1742 and 1762 only one, Benjamin Hoadly, was translated three times. Appointed bishop of Bangor in 1715 he rose rapidly in the Church, passing through the sees of Hereford and Salisbury before his elevation to the bishopric of Winchester in 1734. A further twelve were translated twice. Eight were removed for a second time to one of the five major sees of Canterbury, York, London, Durham and Winchester. One went to Salisbury, which was reckoned as valuable as London. Two went to Ely, another rich see, considered especially important because of the relation it bore to Cambridge University and translation to it was always regarded as the prerogative of the senior Cambridge-educated bishop on the bench not possessed of better preferment. This leaves only John Hough, who ended his career at Worcester, another one of the wealthiest sees, to which he had been translated in 1717. Unless a bishop was distinguished or senior enough to merit a place among the half-dozen most eminent churchmen in the country, the most he could hope for was one translation. What was supposed to be the "strongest weapon of discipline possessed by the political ministers towards the bishops of their creation"18 cannot have had the influence attributed to it by both contemporaries and historians.

  • 19 Ibid.
  • 20 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 65-66: Secker to George H, 7 August 1750; The Autobiography of Thomas Secke (...)
  • 21 BL, Add. Ms. 32721, f° 418: Hardwicke to Newcastle, 20 July 1750.
  • 22 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 108: Hardwicke to Newcastle, 10 August 1750.
  • 23 BL, Add. Ms. 32878, f° 278: Newcastle to Secker, 20 Mardi 1758.

11Secondly, in individual cases there is clear evidence that ministers paid scant regard to voting records when considering the claims of bishops to preferment. The career of Thomas Secker merits detailed consideration in this context because he is often portrayed as a bishop who was confined to the poor sees of Bristol and Oxford for sixteen years, with only the onerous parish of St James's, Westminster, as a commendam, as a "deliberate punishment for an early display of parliamentary independence"19. Secker certainly showed himself to be his own man politically. He had joined the parliamentary opposition on several occasions between 1739 and 1743, supporting place and pension bills and criticizing elements of the ministry's foreign policy. He was also an active leader of the episcopal opposition to the ministry over the Spirituous Liquors Bill of 1743 and the clause relating to episcopal orders in the Bill for disarming the Scottish Highlands in 1748, addressing the house on both occasions. But when his merit was finally rewarded with the deanery of St Paul's the opposition to his promotion came not from the ministry, but from the king. George II believed that Secker had joined Leicester House in open opposition to him and his court. In a letter to the king upon his promotion Secker admitted that he had made "great Mistakes", which he did not specify, but in later life he denied ever having any connection with the Prince of Wales's party. Just before the fall of Walpole he had acted as intermediary between the ministry and the Prince, but in his autobiography claimed that, contrary to the belief of the king, he had no influence over him20. In the eyes of the ministry, by contrast, Secker had wiped off the stain of having joined a "formed opposition", and "has expressed his Resolution in the rightest manner on that Subject"21. Hardwicke, indeed, believed that his promotion was the more desirable "as it shows that Desert will meet with Regard, notwithstanding some little Court-Objections"22. What is more, Secker was offered St Paul's despite his somewhat irregular attendance in the House of Lords, an irregularity the more pronounced because (in contrast to many of his colleagues) he was in good health and residing in London for the majority of every one of the parliamentary sessions of this period. Even when he had been relieved of his parochial responsibilities he did not become more diligent in the discharge of his political duties. What is perhaps most telling is that, despite his lack of political zeal, Secker was Newcastle's preferred candidate when the archbishopric of Canterbury became vacant in 175823.

12Considerations of party politics and parliamentary management were, therefore, at best of secondary importance in the appointment of bishops. This conclusion does not, of course, entail as a corollary that theological considerations, the second theme of this article, were of primary importance. Indeed, the infrequency with which Newcastle discussed the theological opinions of clergymen would tend to support the accepted view that he was little concerned with such issues. It is certainly true that Newcastle made no efforts to advance men from a particular party within the Church. Nonetheless, both in this negative way and in his creation of a broad, yet orthodox, episcopate, Newcastle's ecclesiastical patronage did reflect the main concerns of clerical opinion in this period.

  • 24 Ashridge Mss., HRO, A.H. 1996, f° 12,9: Charge to the clergy of the diocese of Bangor by Bishop Jo (...)
  • 25 Portland Mss., NUL, PWV/120/17: Thomas Herring to William Herring, 27 February 1738.
  • 26 The Works of Joseph Butler, D.C..L., ed. Samuel Halifax, new ed., London, 1844, 2 vol., vol. I, pp. (...)

13The theology of clergymen was perhaps of less relevance to ecclesiastical patronage in the mid-eighteenth century than it had been before 1715 or was to become in the 1780s and 1790s. Churchmen themselves laid less emphasis on the divisions between them. Within the Church a conscious reaction against the divisions of earlier decades took place. Controversy over disputed points of theology, or even about the nature of church-state relations, was avoided. The discussion of "subtile questions tending to Strife & fruitless Disputation" was deprecated. Instead, irenicism, moderation and "Christian Charity" were urged as virtues24. Hoadly and Sherlock, it is true, were widely regarded as leaders of opposing parties in the Church, an eminence attained by the leading role of both in the famous Bangorian controversy of 1717-1718. But, although they both lived until 1761, they were men of an older generation who had no obvious successors on the bench. Within Newcastle's episcopate were men of widely different theological views, who were able to work together harmoniously without the party rancour of the late seventeenth century. Thomas Herring, speaking of his sermon before the S.P.G., said he was considered to have gone "as high as I could in ye Lower Region", adding that "I am not gone so far, as discarding Demoniaks, melting down Miracles, & turning Redemption wholly into Metaphor-but I have not lost my Charity for them that do"25. Joseph Butler, on the other hand, put up a cross in the episcopal chapel at Bristol and was a reader of books of "mystic piety", which later gave rise to rumours of his deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism26.

  • 27 LPL, Ms. 1719, f° 15: Thomas Secker to his brother, 14 September 1739; Thomas SECKER, "Charge Deli (...)
  • 28 LPL, Ms. 1123/1/74: Herring to Samuel Chandler, 7 February 1754.

14Both Herring and Butler looked on Thomas Secker as a friend as well as a colleague. Yet his theology was mildly evangelical in tone. He distrusted the "Extravagancies" of methodism, but was well aware of its virtues. He believed that the Church had "lost many of our people to sectaries by not preaching in a manner sufficiently evangelical", and exhorted his clergy to "set before your people the lamentable condition of fallen man, the numerous actual sins by which they have made it worse, the redemption wrought out for them by Jesus Christ, the nature and importance of true faith in him, their absolute need of the grace of the Divine Spirit in order to obey his precepts"27. This emphasis on irenicism extended to relations with other denominations of christians. Clergymen did indeed define the via media of the Church of England by reference to the errors of dissent and popery. Many saw both as still dangerous threats to the security of true religion. But in practical relations the virtues of charity and toleration were stressed. The majority of churchmen looked upon the Toleration Act "as part of our Establishment"28.

15Newcastle's ecclesiastical patronage reflected and encouraged this tendency in the Church. Few of his episcopal nominees engaged in controversy with other churchmen, at least until the movement for the abolition of clerical subscription rose to prominence in the late 1760s. George Lavington and John Green both published fierce anonymous attacks on the methodists. But if they are excluded, only William Warburton, who, despite his claims to be defending orthodoxy, attracted more critics with every publication, falls into this category. Yet Warburton's promotion to the episcopate, as has already been shown, was due to pressure from William Pitt.

  • 29 Caleb FLEMING, A letter to the Revd. Dr Cobden, rector of St Austin's and St Faith's, and of Acton (...)
  • 30 For the ministry's opposition to Stebbing's preferment see BL, Add Ms. 32717, f° 74-75: Hardwicke (...)
  • 31 Home Papers, CUL, Add. Ms. 8134/B/l, pp. 2,111.

16The encouragement of moderation within the Church not only mirrored the theological aims and preoccupations of contemporary churchmen, but also furthered the whig ministry's policy, pursued by both Walpole and Newcastle, of avoiding the recurrence of the bitter parliamentary disputes over religion which had characterized the reign of Queen Anne. If there is little direct evidence that Newcastle deliberately exploited his control of ministerial patronage in this way, it is clear that a number of eminent clergymen, who were noted controversialists, did not receive the preferments they felt they deserved. Edward Cobden, a royal chaplain who resigned because he claimed that less worthy men were being promoted ahead of him, was particularly critical of dissenters and was believed to favour a more restrictive interpretation of the Toleration Act29. Another royal chaplain, Henry Stebbing, advanced no higher in the Church than the archdeaconry of Wiltshire and the chancellorship of Salisbury despite the repeated recommendation of Bishop Sherlock. Stebbing, however, was best-known by contemporaries for his many controversial writings, including a series of attacks on William Warburton30. Likewise, George Horne, one of a group of Oxford highchurchmen called Hutchinsonians, noted in the 1750s that he and his friends had no hope of preferment from either the civil or the Church establishment. Hutchinsonianism, however, was stridently critical of contemporary theological tendencies and, in his private writings at least, Horne went as far as to suggest that Archbishop Tillotson had been guilty of heresy31.

  • 32 Gilbson Papers, AUL, Ms. 5201: Gibson to Walpole, n.d. ; J.P. FERGUSON, Dr Samuel Clarke. An Eight (...)
  • 33 Norman SYKES, Edmund Gibson, op. cit., pp. 155-159,264-275.
  • 34 A.R. WINNETT, "An Irish Heretic Bishop: Robert Clayton of Clogher", Studies in Church History, 197 (...)

17One reason why theological controversy was deprecated was that churchmen of all shades of opinion agreed that the beliefs they shared were under threat from two tendencies in contemporary religious thought. On the one hand the foundations of revealed religion were being challenged by the deists. On the other hand trinitarian christianity was increasingly questioned by socinians and arians. Much of the Church's energy in the first half of the eighteenth century was devoted to the refutation of these assaults. Again Newcastle's patronage reflected the concerns of the Church. On two occasions during the Walpole era churchmen had been roused to protest against the preferment of heterodox clergy. In the late 1720s there was some talk of raising to the episcopate Samuel Clarke, who denied the doctrine of Christ's oneness with the father. A few years later the ministry proposed to fill the bishopric of Gloucester with Thomas Rundle, who was accused of, and did not deny, socinian tendencies. Clarke's promotion was quietly vetoed by Bishop Gibson32. But he was not so successful over Rundle, whose proposed advancement provoked a storm of controversy before the ministry, bowing to clerical pressure, gave Gloucester to Martin Benson. They compensated Rundle with the Irish see of Derry33. However, there was no recurrence of such episodes after 1742, nor is there any hint that Newcastle ever considered the promotion of those whose orthodoxy was in doubt. Indeed, when Robert Clayton, the bishop of Clogher in Ireland, published his unequivocally arian views on the Trinity in the 1750s, both the ministry and its episcopal nominees made clear their support for trinitarian christianity. First, Archbishop Herring accepted the dedication to an attack on Clayton. Then the ministry passed over Clayton for the archbishopric of Tuam. Finally, George Stone, the archbishop of Armagh, instituted his prosecution. Contemporaries believed that Clayton would have been deprived of his see had he not died before the ecclesiastical commission sat34.

18Up to this point the emphasis of this article has been largely on what Newcastle's patronage was not. It was not determined by considerations of parliamentary management. Nor was it used to promote an ecclesiastical party, though in his creation of an episcopate embracing a broad spectrum of opinion Newcastle certainly reflected, and may have intended to reinforce, the predominant concerns of the mid-eighteenth-century Church. The final part of this paper will look further at the considerations that did influence Newcastle's distribution of patronage. To understand the rationale underlying his policy it is important to remember that the Church had a secular role as well as a spiritual one. It was an integral part of the civil administration, responsible for education, charity and, above all, the inculcation of the duties of loyalty and obedience. In many respects the Church might be regarded as an agent of the State. Good government, not only in the Church, but also in the State, was the subject of Newcastle's ecclesiastical policy, and the corner-stone of this policy was patronage. The importance of patronage was recognized by William Webster in his Treatise on Place and Preferments. Moreover, Webster showed that there was no inherent conflict of interests between the Church and the State in the distribution of church patronage. The good government of both demanded the promotion of the same sort of men. Ministers of the crown, he argued, should

  • 35 William WEBSTER, Treatise on Places and Preferments, op. cit., p. 19.

have the strictest Regard to the Abilities of the Persons as Scholars, and their Qualifications as Christians, because such Persons will be best able to defend the Truths, to explain and enforce the Doctrines and Duties of Religion, which is the only sufficient Motive that can induce Men... to act with a proper Regard to the Welfare of the Whole.35

  • 36 BL, Add Ms. 32906, f° 387: Newcastle to Hoadly, 31 May 1760.

19Newcastle himself said that he applied two criteria in his selection of clergy worthy of crown patronage. In the first place, he recommended "None, whom I did not think, most sincerely well affected to His Majesty, and His Government, and, to the Principles upon which It is founded". His second rule was "To recommend none, whose Character as to Vertue, & Regularity of Life, would not justify it"36. Only through the advancement of such men, and in particular the promotion to bishoprics of men who would be effective administrators of dioceses and governors of the clergy, could the ministry hope to promote the security and good government of the State.

20The concern to confine crown patronage to those clergy whose loyalty to the Hanoverian succession was undoubted was a reflection of the continued importance of the dynastic issue in politics. The jacobite threat was still believed to be a reality, a belief confirmed by the outbreak of the 45 rebellion. The security of the state was, therefore, dependent on its high offices being filled with men who were loyal to the House of Hanover and to the Revolution settlement in church and State. This consideration applied as much to churchmen as to anyone else. Indeed their responsibility for enforcing the duties of loyalty and obedience made the dynastic loyalty of the clergy of particular importance, especially in those areas where the jacobite threat was believed to be concentrated. Two such areas were the dioceses of Chester and Lichfield, and in both considerable attention was given to the appointment of suitable bishops.

  • 37 Papers and memorials 1715-29, S.P.C.K. Archives, Cp.l, pp. 139-142, 146-147: Samuel Peploe to Henr (...)
  • 38 BL, Add Ms. 35598, f° 277-2778: Herring to Hardwicke, 29 August 1747.
  • 39 BL, Add Ms. 32720, f° 217: Herring to Newcastle, 13 April 1750.
  • 40 BL, Add. Ms. 32721, f° 54: Newcastle to Herring, 6 June [i.e. July] 1750.
  • 41 BL, Add. Ms. 32719, P 326-327: Herring to Newcastle, 23 December 1749.
  • 42 BL, Add. Ms. 35599, f° 3: Herring to Hardwicke, 7 January 1750; Add. Ms. 32720, f° 30: Herring to (...)

21In the diocese of Chester there was a large Roman Catholic community whose allegiance was always suspect. Samuel Peploe had been made bishop in 1725 because of his vigorous efforts to counter popery and jacobitism as vicar of Preston and warden of Manchester collegiate college. However, it took a man of his undoubted energy fifteen years to create a whig majority in the cathedral chapter, and he was even less successful at Manchester, which showed signs of support for the Pretender during the 4537. Thus, when Archbishop Herring reflected on the contingency of a vacancy at Chester in the aftermath of the rebellion, he argued that "a good Scholar, a good Xtian, & a stout Protestant of strong Spirits & Constitution, who knows how to fix his Post & how to maintain it... might do good & make an useful and lasting impression in that Jacobite & Popish Country"38. In 1750, when Peploe's death appeared imminent, Herring wrote to Newcastle repeating these considerations, and mentioning Richard Terrick and Edmund Keene as two men "of undoubted Credit & Integrity, both staunch & uniform in their Principles of Love to the King & our Constitution"39. Newcastle fully approved the idea of Keene. His "most judicious, and successful Conduct" as vicechancellor of Cambridge, where he had played a leading role in the introduction of measures to reform discipline and conduct, was evidence of his fitness for the see of Chester. He was duly promoted to it on Peploe's death two years later40. The situation at Lichfield was slightly different, but the same considerations applied. Staffordshire was a tory stronghold, at least until the defection of earl Gower to the ministry, and at Lichfield itself there was an aggressive jacobite element. Thus, the choice of a new bishop in 1749 was judged to be of "more than ordinary consequence". Nothing, indeed, was of "greater moment" than to place there a man who had "as much Goodness, & Learning, & Prudence & Courage, as one would wish to find in the character of a Xtian Bishop, & at the same time, as good an Heart towards the King, as your Grace has, & a Loyalty established upon Principles as firm & as unvaried"41. The vacancy was filled by Frederick Cornwallis, the son of Lord Cornwallis, one of the leaders of the Suffolk whigs. Herring thought that his character could hardly be better, the only possible doubt about his promotion being a reputation for poor health42.

  • 43 BL, Add. Ms. 32716, f° 281: Newcastle to Herring, 17 September 1748.
  • 44 BL, Add. Ms. 32716, f° 214: Herring to Newcastle, 12 September 1748.
  • 45 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 350: Herring to Hardwicke, 20 September 1748.
  • 46 BL, Add. Ms. 32717, f° 38: Pelham to Newcastle, 7 October 1748.

22The merit and character of clergymen were also prime considerations in assessing their suitability for preferment, particular emphasis being laid on their pastoral and administrative ability. In the case of parochial livings it was common for Newcastle to seek testimonials to the character of clergymen. Such action was clearly unnecessary in the case of bishoprics - clergy sufficiently distinguished to be considered as potential governors of a diocese were well-known to ministers. Nonetheless, particular time and attention were given to the consideration of episcopal vacancies. The disposal of the see of London on the death of Edmund Gibson in 1748 was a matter of the greatest importance. London was the senior bishopric after the two archbishoprics, and was of considerable importance in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs. The ministry felt greatly the death of Gibson. Newcastle remarked on it in a passage which is interesting for the light it casts on the qualities he valued in a bishop: "His known and unshaken Loyalty to the King, and Zeal for the Protestant Interest, and his great Ability & Integrity, make his Loss very great both to the Church and Kingdom"43. The ministry had already fixed on Joseph Butler as Gibson's successor, on the assumption that Thomas Sherlock, having refused Canterbury the previous year, would decline London also. But such was the importance of this bishopric to "Church and Kingdom", that Archbishop Herring reminded Newcastle that the choice of a new bishop was of "the highest consequence to the Publick" and required "more than ordinary attention"44 When it was rumoured in London that Butler would refuse, Herring wrote to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, reiterating these considerations, and urging the case of Bishop Mawson, "whose Learning, & Esteem p[ai]d him in ye University & by the Clergy, & whose cool Temper, cautious acting, & Integrity of Attachment to ye King, should at least support his claim of Seniority"45. In the event Sherlock, Newcastle's first choice, accepted. Nor was his character in any way lacking-Henry Pelham wrote to his brother that "everyone sees the convenience of it, and the dignity that attends the Government at having such a man resident att [sic] Fulham"46.

  • 47 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 284: Herring to Hardwicke, 17 October 1747.
  • 48 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 288: Hardwicke to Herring, 20 October 1747.

23The same considerations had applied the previous year on the death of Archbishop Potter. After both Gibson and Sherlock, Newcastle's first two choices, had declined for reasons of age and health, it was agreed that the archbishopric should be offered to Herring. Not only did Herring, as archbishop of York, have a strong claim by virtue of seniority, but he had revealed himself to be an excellent pastor in the dioceses of Bangor and York, and by his behaviour during the 45 rebellion he had shown himself eminently capable of an important station in civil affairs. Herring tried to prevent the offer, arguing that he was unfit "in every consideration to support the figure of that High Place & Dignity, to any purpose of Publick Good"47. Hardwicke, however, thought Herring's qualifications for the archbishopric to be so apparent, that in a long letter persuading Herring to accept, he dismissed this objection with the statement that "whoever is fit to be Archbp of York & has filled it with Reputation is fit to be Archbp of Canterbury"48. That church dignities, and bishoprics in particular, were often filled almost as soon as they became vacant was not, therefore, a sign of immature decisions. It was, on the contrary, indicative of the fact that for months, or even years previously, Newcastle had been considering the eventuality of a vacancy and discussing the possibilities with Pelham, Hardwicke and the senior bishops.

24It would be possible, if tedious, to examine one by one those bishops appointed or translated by Newcastle, assessing their abilities. Despite the opprobium heaped upon these men by successive generations, it is far from clear that the ministry failed to create a distinguished episcopate, well-qualified to act as representatives of the Church, administrators of their dioceses and governors of the clergy. One example, however, will serve to illustrate the argument: the removes occasioned by the vacancy of the bishopric of Durham on the death of Edward Chandler in 1750. Joseph Butler was translated from Bristol to Durham; Thomas Secker, who was discussed earlier, was given the deanery of St Paul's, also vacated by Butler, to hold in commendam with his bishopric of Oxford; and the bishopric of Bristol was filled by John Conybeare, the dean of Christ Church.

  • 49 Norman SYKES, Church and State, op. cit., pp. 346-347; Leslie STEPHEN, History of English Thought (...)
  • 50 Thomas SECKER, Works, vol. I, pp. i-xliv; James DOWNEY, op. cit. pp. 89-114; Secker Autobiography, (...)
  • 51 W.R. WARD, Georgian Oxford: University Politics in the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, Oxford Universi (...)

25All three would have graced the episcopal bench in any age of the Church. Joseph Butler was one of the foremost theologians of the age. During the first half of the eighteenth century deism was commonly seen as a powerful intellectual movement, threatening not only the Church of England, but christianity in general. On its publication in 1736, however, Butler's Analogy of Religion was acclaimed as the decisive rebuttal of the deist attack. He was also a respected, if demanding, preacher and an effective administrator while at Bristol49. Thomas Secker lacked the intellectual distinction of Butler, but he was a better communicator. One of the centurys most popular preachers, he also produced a widely used and often reprinted series of lectures for use with confirmation candidates. While at St James's, Westminster, he was an active and highly respected parish priest, despite the fact that he was one of the centurys most diligent and effective administrators. At Bristol, Oxford and Canterbury he compiled diocesan books which were used by his successors throughout the century, and his visitation charges were still being recommended to the clergy well into the nineteenth century50. Conybeare is the least known of the three. But in addition to being an energetic dean of Christ Church, he too was a popular preacher and had acquired a European reputation for his defences of revealed religion against the deists in the 1720s and 1730s, culminating in an attack upon Matthew Tindal's Christianity as Old as the Creation in 173251.

  • 52 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 5: Newcastle to Herring, 1 August 1750.

26Newcastle himself described these as "as great, and as reputable, Promotions, as ever were made at One Time, in the Church"52 If there is here an element of complacent self-congratulation, it is not altogether unjustified. If these promotions represent an ideal not always attained, it was an ideal to which Newcastle paid more than lip-service. He was constantly striving to further the interests of church and State. The overriding concern of his ecclesiastical policy, as expressed through his patronage, was to ensure good government both in the Church and, especially, in the State. Party-political considerations could not be ignored, but they did not dominate ecclesiastical policy. And in contrast to politicians of earlier and later decades, such as Nottingham, Rochester and the younger Pitt, Newcastle's correspondence is characterized by a marked lack of concern about church politics. Newcastle created a broad episcopate, embracing a wide spectrum of theological positions. Those at the extremes, notably those suspected of doctrinal heterodoxy, were excluded from crown patronage, but the duke made no effort to advance any particular group or party within the Church. Above all his restriction of crown patronage to those clergy of unquestioned loyalty to the Hanoverian succession, to the constitution in church and State, and of unblemished character, revealed his concern that the Church should perform both its spiritual and its secular functions effectively. It was only through the management of the crown's ecclesiastical patronage, especially in the advancement of men who would be effective administrators of dioceses and governors of the clergy, that the ministry could hope to promote the security and good government of church and State.

Notes

1 David HUME, "On the independency of parliament", in Essays Moral, Political, and Literary, ed. T.H. GREEN and T.H. GROSE, London, 1907, 2 vol., vol. I, p. 120.

2 William E.H. LECKY, A History of England in the Eighteenth Century, London, Longmans, 1878-1890, 8 vol., vol. I, p. 365.

3 John H. PLUMB, The Growth of Political Stability in England 1675-1725, London, Macmillan, 1967, pp. 188-189.

4 John B. OWEN, The Rise of the Pelhams, London, Methuen, 1957, p. 62.

5 Richard PARES, King George III and the Politicians, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1953, pp. 24-25; Roy PORTER, English Society in the Eighteenth Century, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1982, pp. 77, 129; John H. PLUMB, England in the Eighteenth Century, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1950, pp. 42-44; John B. OWEN, The Eighteenth Century, 1714-1815, London, Nelson, 1974, pp. 153-154; Norman SYKES, Church and State in England in the XVIIIth century, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1934, pp. 63-65.

6 Memoirs of a royal chaplain, 1729-1763. The correspondence of Edmund Pyle, D.D. chaplain in ordinary to George II, with Samuel Kerrich, D.D. vicar of Dersingham, rector of Wolferton, and rector of West Newton, ed. A. HARTSHORNE, London, John Lane, 1905, p. 218.

7 BL, Add. Ms. 32730, f° 144: Pelham to Newcastle, 19 October 1752.

8 Stephen TAYLOR, op. cit., pp. 76-86; John B. OWEN, "George II Reconsidered", in Statesmen, Scholars and Merchants. Essays in Eighteenth-Century History Presented to Dame Lucy Sutherland, ed. Anne WHITEMAN, J.S. BROMLEY and P.G.M DICKSON, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1973, pp. 113-134. For William Pitt see BL, Add. Ms. 32900, f° 20: Newcastle to Granby, 13 December 1759; Richard HURD, "Some Account of the Life, Writings, and Character of the Author", in The Works of the Right Reverend William Warburton, D.D. Lord Bishop of Gloucester, new ed., London, 1811, 12 vol., vol. I, p. 70.

9 The figures are for 1742. Daniel R. HIRSCHBERG, "The Government and Church Patronage in England, 1660-1760", J.B.S., 1980-1981, t. XX, pp. 112-113.

10 Including those of Windsor, Westminster and Ripon. The deaneries of St Asaph, Bangor and Llandaff were in the gift of the bishops of those dioceses. There was no dean of St David's.

11 William WEBSTER, A Treatise on Places and Perferments, Especially Church-Perferments, London, 1757, p. 15.

12 The Weekly Miscellany, t. LXXXII, 6 July 1734, p. 1.

13 "The Life of Dr Zachary Pearce", in The lives of Dr Edward Pocock... by Dr Twells; of Dr Zachary Pearce... and of Dr Thomas Newton... by themselves; and of the Rev. Philip Skelton, by Mr Bundy, London, 1816, 2 vol., vol. I, pp. 401-402.

14 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 269-270: Herring to Hardwicke, 11 July 1747; Add. Ms. 32730, f° 182: Pelham to Newcastle, 27 October 1752.

15 Stephen TAYLOR, "The Bishops at Westminster in the Mid-Eighteenth Century", in A Pillar of the Constitution. The House of Lords in British Politics, 1640-1784, ed. C. JONES, London, Hambledon Press, 1989, pp. 137-163.

16 Norman SYKES, Edmund Gibson, Bishop of London, 1669-1748. A Study in Politics and Religion in the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1926, pp. 149-150; Linda J. COLLEY, In Defiance of Oligarchy. The Tory Party 1714-1760, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1982, p. 106.

17 Ridiard WATSON, "A Letter to his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury Printed in 1783", in Sermons on Public Occasions, and Tracts on Religious Subjects, Cambridge, 1788, pp. 399-405; Timothy J. BRAIN, "Some Aspects of the Life and Work of Richard Watson, Bishop of Llandaff, 1737-1816", University of Wales (Aberystwyth) Ph. D. Dissertation, 1982, p. 160.

18 Norman SYKES, Church and State, op. cit., p.63.

19 Ibid.

20 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 65-66: Secker to George H, 7 August 1750; The Autobiography of Thomas Secker Archbishop of Canterbury, ed. J.S. MACAULEY and R.W. GREAVES, Lawrence, University of Kansas, 1988, pp. 21-22.

21 BL, Add. Ms. 32721, f° 418: Hardwicke to Newcastle, 20 July 1750.

22 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 108: Hardwicke to Newcastle, 10 August 1750.

23 BL, Add. Ms. 32878, f° 278: Newcastle to Secker, 20 Mardi 1758.

24 Ashridge Mss., HRO, A.H. 1996, f° 12,9: Charge to the clergy of the diocese of Bangor by Bishop John Egertcn, 1758; R.W. GREAVES, On the Religious Climate of Hanoverian England, Inaugural lecture, Bedford College, London, 1963.

25 Portland Mss., NUL, PWV/120/17: Thomas Herring to William Herring, 27 February 1738.

26 The Works of Joseph Butler, D.C..L., ed. Samuel Halifax, new ed., London, 1844, 2 vol., vol. I, pp. xxxvxxxviii.

27 LPL, Ms. 1719, f° 15: Thomas Secker to his brother, 14 September 1739; Thomas SECKER, "Charge Delivered to the Clergy of Canterbury in 1766", in The Works of Thomas Secker, LL.D., new ed., London, 1811, 6 vol., vol. V, pp. 479-480. The best account of the evangelical tendencies in Secker's theology is given by James DOWNEY, The Eighteenth Century Pulpit. A Study of the Sermons of Butler, Berkeley, Secker, Sterne, WWhitefield and Wesley, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 89-114.

28 LPL, Ms. 1123/1/74: Herring to Samuel Chandler, 7 February 1754.

29 Caleb FLEMING, A letter to the Revd. Dr Cobden, rector of St Austin's and St Faith's, and of Acton, and chaplain in ordinary to his majesty, containing an exact copy of a pastoral epistle to the protestant dissenters in his parishes, with remarks thereon... By a parishioner of the doctors, London, 1738.

30 For the ministry's opposition to Stebbing's preferment see BL, Add Ms. 32717, f° 74-75: Hardwicke to Newcastle, 9 October 1748; Add. Ms 32719, f° 97-98: Sherlock to Newcastle, 3 September 1749.

31 Home Papers, CUL, Add. Ms. 8134/B/l, pp. 2,111.

32 Gilbson Papers, AUL, Ms. 5201: Gibson to Walpole, n.d. ; J.P. FERGUSON, Dr Samuel Clarke. An Eighteenth-Century Heretic, Kineton, Poundwood Press, 1976, pp. 47-58.

33 Norman SYKES, Edmund Gibson, op. cit., pp. 155-159,264-275.

34 A.R. WINNETT, "An Irish Heretic Bishop: Robert Clayton of Clogher", Studies in Church History, 1972, t. IX, pp. 311-321.

35 William WEBSTER, Treatise on Places and Preferments, op. cit., p. 19.

36 BL, Add Ms. 32906, f° 387: Newcastle to Hoadly, 31 May 1760.

37 Papers and memorials 1715-29, S.P.C.K. Archives, Cp.l, pp. 139-142, 146-147: Samuel Peploe to Henry Newman, 29 January, 11 May 1714; S. HIBBERT-WARE, The History of the College and Collegiate Church of Manchester, Edinburgh, 1830, 2 vol., vol. II, pp. 82-87, 92-96; DNB, vol. XLIV, pp. 352-353; Norman SYKES, Church and State, op. cit., p. 73; BL, Add Ms. 32692, f° 448-449: Peploe to Newcastle, 7 November 1739.

38 BL, Add Ms. 35598, f° 277-2778: Herring to Hardwicke, 29 August 1747.

39 BL, Add Ms. 32720, f° 217: Herring to Newcastle, 13 April 1750.

40 BL, Add. Ms. 32721, f° 54: Newcastle to Herring, 6 June [i.e. July] 1750.

41 BL, Add. Ms. 32719, P 326-327: Herring to Newcastle, 23 December 1749.

42 BL, Add. Ms. 35599, f° 3: Herring to Hardwicke, 7 January 1750; Add. Ms. 32720, f° 30: Herring to Newcastle, 8 January 1750.

43 BL, Add. Ms. 32716, f° 281: Newcastle to Herring, 17 September 1748.

44 BL, Add. Ms. 32716, f° 214: Herring to Newcastle, 12 September 1748.

45 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 350: Herring to Hardwicke, 20 September 1748.

46 BL, Add. Ms. 32717, f° 38: Pelham to Newcastle, 7 October 1748.

47 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 284: Herring to Hardwicke, 17 October 1747.

48 BL, Add. Ms. 35598, f° 288: Hardwicke to Herring, 20 October 1747.

49 Norman SYKES, Church and State, op. cit., pp. 346-347; Leslie STEPHEN, History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, 3rd ed., London, John Murray, 1902, 2 vols, vol I, pp. 278-308; James DOWNEY, op. cit, pp. 30-57; Norman SYKES, "Bishop Butler and the Church of his Age", Durham University Journal, 1950-1951, t. XLIII, pp. 1-14.

50 Thomas SECKER, Works, vol. I, pp. i-xliv; James DOWNEY, op. cit. pp. 89-114; Secker Autobiography, p. 16; Christian Remembrancer, 1830, t. XII, pp. 241, 435, 509, 571, 642; Thomas SECKER, Lectures on the Catechism, London, 1769, 2 vol. ; 10th ed., London, 1804. Part of this work was still being reprinted as late as 1885. Thomas SECKER, Lectures on the Creed. Selected from the Lectures on the Church Catechism, Dublin, 1885.

51 W.R. WARD, Georgian Oxford: University Politics in the Eighteenth Century, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1958, pp. 137-138; J. CONYBEARE, A Defence of Reveal'd Religion against the Exceptions of a late Writer, in his Book, intituled, Christianity as old as the Creation, &c., 2nd ed., London, 1732.

52 BL, Add. Ms. 32722, f° 5: Newcastle to Herring, 1 August 1750.

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