A Protestant who did not conform to the disciplines or rites of the Anglican Church. Nonconformists include a number of groups. The Puritans wished to purify the Church from within, while the Presbyterians were specific in their demands for the replacement of organization by bishops for a system of elected elders. The separatists under Robert Browne left the Anglican Church entirely. All Nonconformists were subject to penalties; the Pilgrim Fathers emigrated to escape persecution. During the Civil War Nonconformists (especially Congregationalists and Baptists) fought on the Parliamentary side and the Restoration Settlement (1660) enacted harsh measures against all Nonconformist groups. The 1662 Act of Uniformity deprived them of freedom of worship and subsequent persecution led to a further exodus to North America. In 1681 Pennsylvania was founded as a refuge for Quakers. The Toleration Act (1689) brought some improvements in England, but until the 19th century Nonconformists were debarred from holding political office.
Subjects: World History.