Book of the Month – Numbers and Sufferings of the Clergy (1714)

Posted by Tenby Museum on Jan 6, 2018 Blog No Comments

John Walker born in 1674 was the son of Endymion Walker (Mayor of Exeter in1682). He was a clergyman and ecclesiastical historian, known for his written and collated biographical work on Church of England priests during the Civil War and the Interregnum (the period between the execution of Charles I in 1649 and the restoring of his son Charles II as monarch in 1660, which marked the start of the Restoration). Walker was a Fellow at Oxford from 1695 to 1700 before being a rector in Devonshire. He died in 1747.

The elegant book Numbers and Sufferings of the Clergy is bound in dark brown leather with a ridged spine and the title in gold lettering against a red box. The book’s size is 35.5cm x 24cm x 5cm. It was printed in London by W.A. for J.Nicholson, R.Knaplock, R.Wilkin, B.Tooke, D.Midwinter and B.Cowse in MDCCXIV (1714). The title page states it is: “An attempt towards recovering an account of the numbers and sufferings of the clergy of the Church of England, Heads of Colleges, Fellows, Scholars, etc who were Sequester’d, Harrass’d, etc in the late Times of the Grand Rebellion: occasion’d by the Ninth Chapter (now the Second Volume) of Dr Calamy’s Abridgment of the LIFE of Mr Baxter. Together with an Examination of That Chapter.” The next page states: “To the Most Reverend the ARCH-BISHOPS; And to the Reverend the CLERGY, of the Provinces of Canterbury and York, now Assembled in Convocation; This Attempt, to Recover the Number and Sufferings of the LOYAL CLERGY, is most Humbly DEDICATED by, MY LORDS, Your Lordships most dutiful and Obedient Son, And, Gentlemen, Your most Affectionate Brother and Humble Servant, JOHN WALKER.”

The book consists of two parts:

  • A history of ecclesiastic affairs from 1640 to 1660, the object being to show that the ejection of Puritans during the Restoration period was just a reprisal for their actions when in power;
  • A catalogue of the removed clergy with particulars of their suffering after the 1660 English Restoration.

It contains the names of many clergy and provides biographical details such as the name of his father and any other important relations, where educated, career details, date and place of death. Many of the biographies contain very detailed information. Information is arranged in alphabetical order by place. The book also contains detailed chapters about the environment in which these people lived and worked, the politics of the day and how it affected them directly.

Walker’s research involved the circulation of a number of letters of enquiry, via archdeacons, to the families of clergy who had suffered from the Act of Uniformity of 1662 and he received more than a thousand replies. The Act required churchmen to use all rites and ceremonies as prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer and also for all ministers of the Church of England to be ordained and governed by Bishops in a diocese – something the Puritans refused to do, as they had dominated church rule during the Civil War. In the end, nearly 2,000 clergymen were “ejected” from the established church for refusing to comply with the provisions of the Act. John Walker claimed that when the Church of England was restored in 1662 it was “so clean swept with the Besom of Destruction, that there was scarce anything left to shew that the Gospel it self had been once planted in our Island”.

By law and social custom, non-conformists (those Protestants or Puritans who did not “conform” to the governance and usages of the established Church of England) were restricted from many spheres of public life – including access to public office, employment in the civil service or degrees at university. Non-conformists or “reformed” groups/sects included Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, Calvinists, as well as Methodists, Unitarians and Quakers.