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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
James II of England and VII of Scotland
James II Of England And VII Of Scotland,
son of Charles I and Henrietta Maria; was born October 15, 1633. In 1643 he was created duke of York. In 1648, during the civil war, which resulted in the decapitation of his father, he made his escape to Holland, and thence to France, where his mother resided. The early education of the duke of York. had, by the wish of his father, been entrusted to Protestants, but his mother, a bigoted Romanist, now improved her opportunity, and the young prince was surrounded by Roman Catholic influences, and, to be more readily inclined to Popery, was assured that the unfortunate end of his father was due only to his strict adherence to Protestantism, and that no prince could hold the reins of government successfully who was not supported by Rome. In 1652 he ‘ entered the French army under general Turenne, and served in it until the peace concluded with Cromwell (October,. 1655) obliged James to quit the territory of Louis XIV. He was then offered a position in the army of Spain, which he accepted.'
At the Restoration (May, 1660) he returned to England, and was immediately made lord high admiral of England. In the ensuing wars with Holland (1664-1672), which are generally supposed to have been instigated by this prince and his brother for the especial purpose of crushing the Dutch as a Protestant people, and to disable them from interfering with the re- establishment of popery in England, to which they themselves inclined, he twice commanded the English fleet. and was eminently successful. In 1660 he married Anne, daughter of Lord Chancellor Hyde, and the reason generally assigned for this act is that the lady was far gone with child when the marriage was contracted. But she lived only a few years (she died March 31, 1671), suffering, it is' supposed, from neglect, if not the positive ill-usage of her husband, who, not withstanding his professions of zeal for religion, indulged in a large share of the reigning licentiousness and kept a mistress almost from the date of his marriage. A few months before her death the duchess had signed a declaration of her reconciliation to the ancient religion (Romanism, of course), and shortly afterward the duke also publicly avowed his conversion to popery, an act which, although his concealed inclinations had been long suspected, did not fail to create a great sensation, especially as, from his brother's want of issue, he was now looked upon as Charles's probable successor to the throne of England. On the passage, in the beginning of 1673, of the Test Act, which required all officers, civil and military, to receive the sacrament according to the usage of the Established Church, the duke was, of course, obliged to resign the command of the fleet and the office of lord high admiral. These duties were, however, assigned to a board of commissioners, consisting of his friends and dependants, so that he still virtually remained at the head of the naval affairs. On Nov. 21, 1673, he married again; this time a Roman Catholic princess, Mary Beatrix Eleanora, daughter of Alphonso IV, duke of Modena, a lady then only in her fifteenth year.
During the great irritation against the Roman Catholics which followed the publication of the Titus Oates (q.v.) popish plot in 1678-79, the duke of York, by the advice of king Charles II, quitted England and took up his residence on the Continent. While he was absent efforts were made to exclude him from the throne, which would have been successful had not Parliament suddenly been prorogued (May 27, 1679). In 1680 he returned again to England, but so great was the opposition towards him that Charles was obliged to send him down to govern Scotland. The odium in which the duke of York now stood among the English was further manifest by a second attempt to pass in Parliament a bill excluding him from the right of succession to the throne, which again failed by another prorogation of the council of the nation. This time, no doubt, the effort was mainly the result of the discreditable relation which the prince sustained towards the Meal- tub Plot, an attempt on the part of his co-religionists to counteract-and in this they were grievously disappointed-the effect of the Titus Oates plot discoveries.
In 1682, when Charles was involved in difficulties with his concubine, the duke of York was invited over, and he improved the opportunity, and knew so well how to make himself an indispensable counselor of his brother, that, in spite of the Test Act he became (much more than Charles himself) "the mainspring and director of the conduct of public affairs." On the death of Charles II, Feb. 6, 1685, he succeeded to the throne, strangely enough, without the least opposition. His pledge to the people was, "I shall make it my endeavor to preserve this government, both in Church and State, as it is now by law established," a declaration which seemed rather necessary from a disciple of popery. It must, however, also be acknowledged that James II "began his reign with a frank and open profession of his religion, for the first Sunday after his accession he went publicly to mass, and obliged father Huddleston, who attended his brother in his last hours, to declare to the world that he died a Roman Catholic" (Neale, Puritans, Harper's edition, 2, 315).
But if the people, though hesitatingly, yet tacitly, submitted tot the freedom of the king' to worship according to the dictates of his conscience, and even suffered Romanism, the very name of which, just at this time, was despised by nearly every English subject, to claim their ruler for its convert, yet his display of the theory that a king was not subject to the criticisms of his people - in short, his theory of absolute supremacy soon aroused the nation from their lethargy, though it did not at once appear that the community would ever seek to relieve itself from the calamity which it had just incurred. Greater still became the anxiety of the nation when it appeared that, "in spite of his own solemn engagements to govern constitutionally, and heedless of ominous intimations which reached him, in the shape of addresses, that the religion of his subjects was dearer to them than their lives, he proceeded to carry out his projects with a recklessness amounting to infatuation" (Baxter, Ch. Hist. p. 637). Right in his first measures, king James showed, says Hume (Hist. of England, Harper's edition, 6:286), "that either he was not sincere in his professions of attachment to the laws, or that he entertained so lofty an idea of his own legal power that even his utmost sincerity would tend very little to secure the liberties of the people." Not satisfied with his avowed confession of Romanism, he even made unnecessary and offensive displays of his religious principles and thereby greatly wounded the pride of his subjects.
The mass was openly celebrated with great pomp at Westminster in Passion Week of this year (1685); an agent was sent to Rome to announce the king's submission to the so-called vicar of Christ; a close alliance was entered into with France; and it was even generally hinted that "the Church of England was in principle so closely allied to the Roman Catholic that it would not be difficult to prepare the way for the readmission of the English into the bosom of the Roman Catholic Church" (comp. Sir John Dalrymple, Memoirs of Great Britain, Append. pt. 1, p. 100-113; Fox, Hist. of early Part of the Reign of James 1 I). All this, too, was done at a time when "there was among the English a strong conviction that the Roman Catholic, where the interests of his religion were concerned, thought himself free from all the ordinary rules of morality; nay, that he thought it meritorious to violate those rules, if by so doing he could avert injury or reproach from the Church of which he was a member;" at a time when "Roman Catholic casuists of great eminence had written in defense of equivocation, of mental reservation, of perjury, and even of assassination," and the fruits of this odious school of sophists were seen in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, the murder of the first William of Orange, the murder of Henry III of France, the numerous conspiracies which had been formed against the life of Elizabeth, and, above all, the Gunpowder Plot, and when all these could constantly be cited "as instances of the close connection between vicious theory and vicious practice"-a series of crimes which, it was alleged, had every one of them been prompted or applauded by Roman-Catholic priests (comp. Macaulay, Hist. of England, Harper's edit., 2, 5 sq.).
It was certainly sheer madness (and we need not wonder that the so-claimed successor of Peter even so declared it) to still further aggravate the opposition of his subjects by persecution for religious belief. Himself anxious to obtain for the members of his own confession complete toleration, which, after all, was only "natural and right," it seems simply preposterous to find him persecuting the Puritans. ‘ Almost immediately after his accession to the throne James II convoked the Parliament of Scotland, where the majority of the population was firmly attached to the Presbyterian discipline, and where prelacy was abhorred "as an unscriptural and as a foreign institution," and demanded new laws against the unruly Presbyterians, who already "closely associated the episcopal polity with all the evils produced by twenty-five years of corrupt and cruel misadministration." In a slavish spirit, the Scottish Parliament complied with the royal request, forbidding under the death penalty preaching in any Presbyterian conventicle whatever, and even attendance on such a conventicle in the open air (May 8, 1685). — A short time after, the Parliament of England also was convoked (May 19), which, as readily as the Scottish, complied with the demands of the king, but, to his great sorrow, nevertheless evinced the possibility of opposition to popery, for which he was anxious to secure concessions.
But while both Parliaments were thus slavishly submitting to the wishes of the absolutist, the countries were invaded, and this afforded the king a favorable pretext for the introduction of Romanists into the ranks of the army, in spite of the legal test of conformity to the Established Church which was required to be taken by every person filling any public office; and when, after a successful suppression of the insurrectionary attempts, the king reassembled Parliament in November, he not only stated that these Roman' Catholics would now be continued, but requested extra supplies for the increase of the army, evidently for the purpose of adding largely men of his own confession to the rank and file of the army; and when the people seemed unwilling to grant this request, the king peremptorily prorogued Parliament, after it had sat a little more than a week. James, however, was determined to continue the policy initiated, and ordered patents to be made out under the great seal for every Roman Catholic officer that he had appointed, and upon the same principle continued the benefices of some Protestant divines who claimed to have been converted to Romanism. Quite different continued to be his dealings with the dissenters. Everywhere they were made to feel "the weight of the arm of the conqueror," especially in the provinces that had lately been subject to invasion, to which the Papists, as well as High-Churchmen, claimed that dissenters had lent their aid. "Thus were the Nonconformists ground between the Papists on the one hand and the High-Church clergy on the other, while the former made their advantage of the latter, concluding that when the dissenters were destroyed, or thoroughly exasperated, and the clergy divided among themselves, they should be a match for the hierarchy, and capable of establishing that religion which they had been so long aiming to introduce" (Neale, Puritans, 2, 319). Roman Catholic churches were everywhere opened, Jesuits and regular priests came in numbers from abroad, schools were opened under their control in the English metropolis even, men were forbidden to speak disrespectfully of the king's religion, and all seemed turning in favor of Rome, when at length the eyes of the clergy of the State Church were opened, and they deemed it high time to preach against the dangerous tendencies.
An open rupture with the State Church had become inevitable; for the king, haying been made acquainted with the position which the clergy of the Church of England had taken to recover the people, who were deserting their churches in numbers, and to rescue the Protestant religion from the danger into which it had fallen, sent circular letters to the bishops, accompanying them with an order to prohibit the inferior clergy from preaching on the controverted points of religion. It could not be otherwise than that these persevering attempts of his against the established religion, as well as upon the law of the land, should eventually involve him in a dispute with the Episcopalians, to be productive of the most important consequences. Finding that to carry his schemes in favor of Romanism he must strengthen himself by the opponents of the State Church, he suddenly, in the beginning of April, 1687, published the famous Declaration of Indulgence, a paper at once suspending and dispensing with all the penal laws against dissenters, and all tests, including even the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, heretofore required of persons appointed to offices civil or military; but at the same time he repeated his promise, "already often repeated and often violated, that he would protect the Established Church in the enjoyment of her legal rights." At first the dissenters hailed the seeming approach of a new sera, and great were the rejoicings in behalf of a declaration which secured them liberty of conscience, and threw open the doors of the prison that had so long barred them; and the king felt not a little encouraged in his new-chosen course when addresses came to him from some of the dissenters (though they afterwards proved to have represented only a small faction; comp. Neale, Puritans, 2, 328).
Emboldened, he immediately showed his predilections for his own Church.' In Ireland, all places of power under the crown were put into the hands of Romanists. The earl of Castlemaine was at the same time publicly sent as ambassador extraordinary to Rome to express the king's obeisance to the pope, and to effect the reconcilement of the kingdom with the "holy see." In return the pope sent a nuncio to England, who resided openly in London during the remainder of the reign, and was solemnly received at court, in the face of the act of Parliament declaring any communication with the pope to be high treason. Four Roman Catholic bishops were consecrated in the king's chapel, and sent to exercise the episcopal function, each in his particular diocese. In Scotland and England, as well as in Ireland, offices of all kinds, both in the army and in the state, were now filled with Roman Catholics; even those of the ministers and others who had shown themselves disposed to go furthest along with the king were dismissed, or visibly lost his favor, if they refused to conform to the ancient religion. At last James's "eye was delighted with the aspect of catholicity imparted to his metropolis by the spectacle of monks traversing its streets in the habits of their respective orders, he was gratified by the presence of an Italian prelate, D'Adda, as nuncio from the pope; and he entertained a sanguine hope of obtaining a Parliament elected under the new corporation charters, which should furnish a majority of his adherents, while the lords were to be swamped by a creation of peers compliant with his wishes.
The Nonconformists, he calculated, would support his views as long as their support would be important, and he was weak enough to imagine that his declaration of indulgence placed him in favorable contrast with the French monarch, to whose exiled Protestant subjects, since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1684), England was affording its hospitality, not aware that his subjects were sufficiently acquainted with the genius and tactics of his religion to know that indulgence and persecution were but indifferent instruments for its propagation, adapted to the different circumstances of an ascendant or a declining Protestantismone and the same spirit actuating the sovereigns of France and of Great Britain, in pursuance of common religions, in subservience to similar political objects" (Baxter, Ch. Hist. p. 639). The dissenters, in particular, soon learned to comprehend the reality of the situation-that a league of the court and Romanism was dependent on their assistance for its success to overawe the Episcopalians and secure victory to popery; and when they did comprehend the scheme, "notwithstanding the renewed sufferings to which they might be exposed, they took part against it. . Independents, Baptists, and Quakers vied: with each other in showing them (the Episcopal clergy) their sympathy…. None of them-not even Penn (q.v.) — was in favor of the toleration of Roman Catholicism. No man who valued the civil liberties of England dreamed of giving a foothold to the professors of that intolerant creed. Three generations had not sufficed to wipe out the memory of its curse on England. Thousands still living could recollect the Vaudois massacres, and the streets of London were at that moment crowded with sufferers from the revocation of the Edict of Nantes" (Skeats, p. 83). The Nonconformists, almost as a body, refused to recognize the legality of the indulgence, mainly, of course, because they saw in the encroachment against the law a prerogative which, if not resisted, might lead ultimately to the establishment of popery as the religion of the state. But, whatever were the reasons of the dissenters the attempt of the king to gain their-support evidently failed, and it became daily more apparent that the war which the ring had opened with the Church must soon reach a climax. An attempt had already been made to compel the University of Cambridge to confer a degree of Master of Arts on a Benedictine monk. This was not persevered in; but soon after, a vacancy having happened in the presidency of Magdalen College, Oxford, the vice-president and fellows were ordered by royal mandate to fill it up by the election of a person named Farmer, a late convert to popery for whom was afterwards substituted Parker, bishop of Oxford who avowed himself a Romanist at heart), and on their refusal were cited before an ecclesiastical commission and expelled. (See HOUGH, JOHN) (1).
Determined, if possible, to gain over the Nonconformists, whose aid he evidently needed to carry out successfully his projects, James published, April 27, 1688, a second declaration of indulgence to. dissenters, and commanded it to be read by the clergy immediately after divine service in all the churches of England. On this, Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, and six bishops-Lloyd of St. Asaph, Ken of Bath and Wells, Turner of Ely, Lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Trelawney of Bristol-met in the archbishop's palace at Lambeth, May 18, and drew up a petition to the king, representing their aversion to obey the order, for many reasons, and especially because the declaration was founded upon such a dispensing power as Parliament had often declared illegal. For this they were all, June 8, sent to the Tower, on the charge of publishing a false; fictitious, malicious, pernicious, and seditious libel. The history of the trial, and the verdict of Not guilty by the jury, June 29, 1688, which the nation approved, and which was hailed by the whole kingdom as a great national triumph, forms one of the most glowing passages in the splendid narrative of Macaulay (2, 293). This defeat, however, in no degree checked for a moment the infatuated king. To quote the summary of Hume, "He struck out two of the judges, Powel and Holloway, who had appeared to favor the bishops; he issued orders to prosecute all those clergymen who had not read his declaration, that is, the whole Church of England, two hundred excepted; he sent a mandate to the new fellows whom he had obtruded on Magdalen College to elect for president, in the room of Parker, lately deceased, one Gifford, a doctor of the Sorboilne, and titular bishop of Madaura; and he is even said to have nominated the same person to the see of Oxford." It was in the midst of this great contest with the Church and the nation that, June 10, a son was claimed to have been born to James, received, however, by the people with a strong suspicion that the child was supposititious, and that the queen had never been delivered or been pregnant at all. For this notion, however, it is now generally admitted that there was no good ground.
But the fact that a direct heir had been born, who, in all probability, would restore popery, in which, no doubt, he would be instructed from earliest infancy, turned the Protestants' eyes towards James's son-in-law, the prince of Orange, "for the deliverance of their country from the perils with which it was threatened; and James, before the end of September, learned with consternation that his own son-in-law, in obedience to their call, was preparing to land upon his coasts." On the night of the same day on which the seven prelates of the English Church had been pronounced not guilty, an invitation was dispatched to William, prince of Orange, signed by seven of the leading English politicians, to come over to England and occupy the throne, November 5, William landed at Torbay with 14,000 men. Vainly did James now attempt to regain his subjects' confidence by retracing his steps; no one would trust his promises, made in the hour of misfortune, and, finding himself deserted not only by the nation, but even by his own children, he retired to France, where he was hospitably received by his co- religionist and royal friend, Louis XIV, and obliged to live upon a pension settled upon him by the king of the French until his death, Sept. 6, 1701. For England his exit "effected a revolution (November, 1688) which has deserved the epithet of glorious, not less through its bloodless character than from its identification with those civil and religious liberties which it secured to every class of Englishmen." See, besides the authorities cited under James I, Hetherington, Ch. of Scotland, 2, 146 sq.; Stoughton, Ecclesiastical Hist. of England (see Index); Macaulay, Hist. of England, vol. 1 and 2; Clarke, Life of James 1 (Lond. 1816. 2 vols. 4to); Debary, Hist. of the Church of England from James II to 1717 (Lond. 1860, 8vo), chap. 1-5; Macpherson, Hist. of Great Britain, 1, 450 sq.; Burnet, Reign of James If (ed. 1852). (See PRESBYTERIANXS); (See SCOTLAND); (See IRELAND); (See ENGLAND). (J. H.W.)
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'James II of England and VII of Scotland'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/james-ii-of-england-and-vii-of-scotland.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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