Journal Article

‘Voluntary Bounty and Devotion to the Service of God’? Lay Patronage, Protest and the Creation of the Parish of St Paul Covent Garden, 1629–41

J.F. Merritt

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXV, issue 512, pages 35-59
Published in print February 2010 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cep408
‘Voluntary Bounty and Devotion to the Service of God’? Lay Patronage, Protest and the Creation of the Parish of St Paul Covent Garden, 1629–41

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While historians have long appreciated the political and cultural importance of the famous Covent Garden development of the 1630s, they have neglected one of its remarkable features, namely the building of an entirely new church combined with the creation of a new parish - an almost unparalleled phenomenon in post-Reformation England. This article investigates the previously-unstudied arguments and conflicts surrounding this new creation, located at the heart of the emerging West End. It maps the clashes between Covent Garden's developer, the earl of Bedford, and Laud's chaplain, William Bray, and then the continuing upheavals between Bedford and his allies in the new chapelry on the one hand and the ‘tradesmen’ of the chapelry. These disagreements, and the flood of petitions that they generated, focused on arguments over who should appoint the minister and pay his wages, who should pay for the new church and its furnishings, and how the parish should be governed. Broader issues lay behind these conflicts - which spread to involve Archbishop Laud and the king--regarding the role of laity in the church, the appropriate behaviour of lay benefactors, the location of authority within a new parish, and the legitimacy and representativeness of ‘popular’ petitioning. This episode also offers an intriguingly reconfigured religious politics of the period, where church building was the work of a non-Laudian layman, and popular petitioning was the work of non-puritan groups who yet failed to dissuade the king and Laud from supporting a puritan-connected peer seeking control over his church.

Journal Article.  12749 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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