Declaration of Indulgence

Declaration of Indulgence

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The Declaration of Indulgence (or the Declaration for the Liberty of Conscience) was two proclamation
A proclamation is an official declaration.-England and Wales:In English law, a proclamation is a formal announcement , made under the great seal, of some matter which the King in Council or Queen in Council desires to make known to his or her subjects: e.g., the declaration of war, or state of...

s made by James II of England and VII of Scotland
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 in 1687. The Indulgence was first issued for Scotland on 12 February, and then for England on 4 April 1687. It was a first step at establishing freedom of religion
Freedom of religion
Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance; the concept is generally recognized also to include the freedom to change religion or not to follow any...

 in the British Isles
British Isles
The British Isles are a group of islands off the northwest coast of continental Europe that include the islands of Great Britain and Ireland and over six thousand smaller isles. There are two sovereign states located on the islands: the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and...


The Declaration granted broad religious freedom in England by suspending penal laws enforcing conformity to the Church of England and allowing persons to worship in their homes or chapels as they saw fit, and it ended the requirement of affirming religious oaths before gaining employment in government office.

By use of the Royal suspending power the King lifted the religious penal law
Penal law
In the most general sense, penal is the body of laws that are enforced by the State in its own name and impose penalties for their violation, as opposed to civil law that seeks to redress private wrongs...

s and granted toleration to the various Christian denominations, Catholic and Protestant, within his kingdoms. The Declaration of Indulgence was supported by William Penn
William Penn
William Penn was an English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania, the English North American colony and the future Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He was an early champion of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful...

 who was widely perceived to be its instigator. The declaration was greatly opposed by Anglicans in England and their Episcopalian counterparts in Scotland
Scottish Episcopal Church
The Scottish Episcopal Church is a Christian church in Scotland, consisting of seven dioceses. Since the 17th century, it has had an identity distinct from the presbyterian Church of Scotland....

 for it did not appear to guarantee that the Anglican
Anglicanism is a tradition within Christianity comprising churches with historical connections to the Church of England or similar beliefs, worship and church structures. The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 that means the English...

 Church would remain the established church.


In Scotland the Indulgence stated that subjects were to obey the King's "sovereign authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power" "without reserve". The Presbyterians initially refused to accept the Indulgence. The King re-issued it on 28 June giving the Presbyterians the same liberties as Roman Catholics; this was accepted by the Presbyterians with the exception of the extremist Covenanters. The Indulgence as well as granting religious liberties to his subjects also reaffirmed the King as absolute
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...


The English version was welcomed by most non-conformists but as in Scotland the Presbyterians were more reluctant to wholeheartedly accept it. There was concern that the toleration rested only on the King's arbitrary will. The Anglican Church was greatly disturbed by it.


The English Indulgence was reissued on 27 April 1688 leading to open resistance from Anglicans. Few clergy read out the indulgence in Church. The Scottish Declaration was reaffirmed in a second proclamation on May 1688. Some Scottish Episcopalians refused to recognise the Indulgence.

William Sancroft
William Sancroft
William Sancroft was the 79th Archbishop of Canterbury.- Life :Sancroft was born at Ufford Hall in Fressingfield, Suffolk, son of Francis Sandcroft and Margaret Sandcroft née Butcher...

 Archbishop of Canterbury
Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and the diocesan bishop of the Diocese of Canterbury. In his role as head of the Anglican Communion, the archbishop leads the third largest group...

 and six other Bishops presented a petition to the King declaring the Indulgence illegal. James regarded this as rebellion and sedition and promptly had the seven bishops
Seven Bishops
thumb|200px|A portrait of the Seven Bishops.The Seven Bishops of the Church of England were those imprisoned and tried for seditious libel over their opposition to the second Declaration of Indulgence issued by James II in 1688...

 tried; however, the bishops were acquitted. The Presbyterians supported the Church, and of the dissenters only the Quakers
Religious Society of Friends
The Religious Society of Friends, or Friends Church, is a Christian movement which stresses the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers. Members are known as Friends, or popularly as Quakers. It is made of independent organisations, which have split from one another due to doctrinal differences...

 gave thanks to the King for the Indulgence.

The Indulgences was voided when James II was deposed in the Glorious Revolution
Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

 and the Bill of Rights
Bill of Rights 1689
The Bill of Rights or the Bill of Rights 1688 is an Act of the Parliament of England.The Bill of Rights was passed by Parliament on 16 December 1689. It was a re-statement in statutory form of the Declaration of Right presented by the Convention Parliament to William and Mary in March 1689 ,...

 claimed that the suspending power was illegal.

See also

  • Royal Declaration of Indulgence
    Royal Declaration of Indulgence
    The Royal Declaration of Indulgence was Charles II of England's attempt to extend religious liberty to Protestant nonconformists and Roman Catholics in his realms, by suspending the execution of the penal laws that punished recusants from the Church of England...

    , 1672
  • Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom
    Religion in the United Kingdom and the states that pre-dated the UK, was dominated by forms of Christianity for over 1,400 years. Although a majority of citizens still identify with Christianity in many surveys, regular church attendance has fallen dramatically since the middle of the 20th century,...

  • Glorious Revolution
    Glorious Revolution
    The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, is the overthrow of King James II of England by a union of English Parliamentarians with the Dutch stadtholder William III of Orange-Nassau...

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