Religion, Reform and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century

Religion, Reform and Modernity in the Eighteenth Century

Thomas Secker and the Church of England

Robert G. Ingram


Boydell Press



A new interpretation of English history and religion in the eighteenth century.
The eighteenth century has long divided critical opinion. Some contend that it witnessed the birth of the modern world, while others counter that England remained an ancien regime confessional state. This book takes issue with both positions, arguing that the former overstate the newness of the age and largely misdiagnose the causes of change, while the latter rightly point to the persistence of more traditional modes of thought and behaviour, but downplay the era's fundamental uncertainty and misplace the reasons for and the timeline of its passage. The overwhelming catalyst for change is here seen to be war, rather than long-term social and economic changes.

Archbishop Thomas Secker [1693-1768], the Cranmer or Laud of his age, and the hitherto neglected church reforms he spearheaded, form the particular focus of the book; this is the first full archivally-based study of a crucial but frequently ignored figure.

ROBERT G. INGRAM is Assistant Professor at the Department of History, Ohio University.

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November 2007
1 black and white illustrations
335 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Modern British Religious History
ISBN: 9781843833482
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
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Table of Contents

`Efforts at Amendment'
Becoming an Anglican
Becoming an Insider
The Church and the Enlightenment
The Church and the Parishoners
The Church and the State
The Church and America
The Church and Churches Abroad


This well-written and well-structured study is important. [It] sets the bar for writing about a somewhat neglected archbishop and his period. THE SCRIBLERIAN

Ingram's scholarly and persuasive book is now the leading study of this wide and important field, and will need to be consulted by historians of modernisation and secularisation, as well as of the church. ENGLISH HISTORICAL REVIEW
[This] excellent book is a foray into the ongoing dialogue about the nature of eighteenth-century English Church, society and politics. [...] A marvellous window into the eighteenth-century. Ingram's research is meticulous and exhaustive, and his coverage extensive. One gets a tremendous understanding of the Anglican Church and its milieu through this study. [...] A wonderful contribution to the burgeoning literature on eighteenth-century church history. ANGLICAN AND EPISCOPAL HISTORY
[This] fine scholarly volume [...] is far more than a biography and amountsto a careful analysis of the Church of England in the middle and later years of the 18th century. Dr Ingram has given us a first-class contextualised treatment of a highly-significant Georgian churchman and produced what will undoubtedly become the standard work on its subject. In doing so he has illuminated the political and ecclesiastical landscape in ways which place his readers heavily in his debt. PARLIAMENTARY HISTORY
A well-researched and serious biography of a distinguished Hanoverian churchman who fought tigerishly to preserve the Established Church from its enemies. TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
It is to be hoped that this well-written book, drawing on extensive reading in contemporary sources and demonstrating wide reading in the cultural, social and political history of the period, will be read by a wide audience. [.] This is an important contribution to eighteenth-century historiography [...]. JOURNAL OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY
Uses the career of [the] subject [...] as a key to achieving a deeper understanding of English society and historical development during the eighteenth century. This book is important because it transcends the existing historiography by approaching eighteenth-century religion and society from an entirely new perspective. SOUTHERN HISTORY
[A] first-rate book. [...] A most distinguished first work that promises very well. Jeremy Black, ARCHIVES

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