Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

10 January 1645 A.D. William Laud's Head Rolls.

10 January 1645 A.D.  William Laud's Head Rolls.  A welcomed departure, the Billygoat of Canterbury heads off to another life.  A few words from Wiki.

(7 October 1573 – 10 January 1645) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1633 to 1645. One of the High Church Caroline divines, he opposed radical forms of Puritanism. This, and his support for King Charles I have been considered by some as reasons for his beheading, which was brought by 10 specific articles of Attainder, in the midst of the English Civil War.


Early life

William Laud was born in a house on Broad Street in Reading, of comparatively lowly origins; his father, also named William, was a wealthy cloth merchant (a fact about which Laud was to remain sensitive throughout his career). He was baptised at St Laurence's Church in Reading.[1] He was educated at Reading School and, through a White Scholarship, St John's College, Oxford. Laud was appointed a Fellow of St John's in 1593, gaining a BA in 1594, and an MA in 1598. On 9 May 1601 he was elected a Senior Fellow, and he became a university proctor in 1603.[2]

Early clerical ministry

Laud was ordained on 5 April 1601. He soon gained reputations for Arminian and High Church tendencies, antipathy to Puritanism, as well as for intellectual and organisational brilliance. At that time the Calvinist party was strong in the Church of England. Thus, Laud's affirmation of apostolic succession was unpopular in many quarters. In 1602 Laud argued for the eternal visible continuity of the Church, which led Bishop George Abbot to condemn the young priest. Laud told James I that Abbot believed in the continuation of the Church of England through various medieval heretical sects.[citation needed] In his BD thesis, Laud argued for the absolute necessity of baptism and that without bishops a church would not be a true church. Another Calvinist, Oxford professor Thomas Holland, claimed that Laud had taken most of his arguments from the Jesuit priest Robert Bellarmine and sought to foment disunity between the Church of England and foreign Protestant churches.[2] However, Laud's copy of Bellarmine's Disputationes contains his annotations up to 1619, which supported Calvinist doctrines on such issues as predestination, defended the orthodox Calvinist Theodore Beza against Bellarmine's criticisms and upheld the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.[2]

In 1605, Laud obliged his patron, Lord Devonshire, by conducting his marriage to a divorcée, Penelope, Lady Rich. Laud later regretted this liturgical action and for many years fasted and prayed on its anniversary, begging for God's forgiveness for serving the ambition and sins of others.[2]

In October 1606, Laud preached a controversial sermon in St Mary's, which the vice-chancellor, Henry Airay, denounced for "sundry scandalous and Popish passages", summoning Laud to appear before him. However, Laud's friend Sir William Paddy petitioned Chancellor Lord Buckhurst and protected Laud.[2] In 1608, in his DD thesis, Laud claimed that only a bishop can confer holy orders and that episcopacy is not only a distinct order from presbyters but superior to them by divine right. Laud's critics claimed this deprived foreign Reformed Protestants of the status of churches.[2]

Laud's refusal to follow the Protestant versus Catholic controversy predominant in his day confused many contemporaries. In 1608 Joseph Hall published the Epistles in which he said to Laud: "Today you are in the tents of the Romanists, tomorrow in our's, the next day betweene both, against both. Our adversaries think you our's, wee their's". Regius Professor of Divnity Robert Abbot, a few years later thundered: "What art thou, ROMISH or ENGLISH? PAPIST or PROTESTANT? Or what art thou? A Mungrel, or compound of both?" In his later years Laud mentioned a troubling dream that he had been reconciled to the Catholic Church, though there is no evidence he seriously thought of converting.[2]

Richard Neile appointed Laud his chaplain in 1608 and became his most important supporter during the next fifteen years. As clerk of the closet, Neile thus enabled Laud to enter the court. In 1609 Laud became rector of West Tilbury in Essex. Continuing his rise through clerical ranks, Laud became the President of St John's College and a royal chaplain in 1611; a Prebendary of Lincoln in 1614 and Archdeacon of Huntingdon in 1615. James I purportedly distrusted Laud, warning his son Charles and the Duke of Buckingham: "I keep Laud back from all Place of Rule and Authority, because I find he hath a restless Spirit, and cannot see when matters are well, but loves to toss and change, and to bring Things to a pitch of Reformation in his own Brain...take him to you, but upon my Soul you will repent it".[citation needed] However Laud was devoted to James and after the King's death listed his virtues and achievements.[2]

In a sermon on Shrove Sunday, 1615 Laud (according to Peter Heylin) "insisted on some points which might indifferently be imputed either to Popery or Arminianism (as about that time they began to call it)" and attacked Presbyterians as being as bad as Catholics.[citation needed] Robert Abbot criticised Laud and questioned his adherence to Protestantism, an allegation heard before King James but dismissed by him along with an apology from Abbot for his conduct.[2]

In 1616 King James appointed Laud to the Deanery of Gloucester, where the next year Laud caused controversy by placing the cathedral communion table altarwise in the church's eastern section and made people bow in its direction when they approached. The Bishop of Gloucester, Miles Smith, was among those outraged. However Neile protected Laud in the dispute and in 1618 Laud accompanied James to Scotland, where again Laud provoked controversy by being one of the bishops who wore a surplice at a funeral. King James purportedly later complained that Laud was not satisfied with the Scottish Parliament's passing the Five Articles of Perth and argued strongly that he should make the Scots "to a nearer conjunction with the Liturgy and Canons" of the Anglican Church and sent to him two unsolicited proposals on the subject.[2]


He was consecrated Bishop of St David's in 1621. He was employed by James in the delicate matter of Buckingham's mother's conversion to Catholicism. On 24 May 1622 there was a conference between Laud and the Jesuit John Fisher who wanted to convert her. Laud later discussed the matter with her but was unable to persuade her not to convert to Rome. However he did become chaplain to Buckingham three weeks afterwards and for the next six years he was devoted to him. Laud's account of his conference with Fisher was published (as an appendix to Francis White's account of his conference with Fisher) in 1624 at James's instigation. In it, Laud was reticent about condemning churches or individuals as heretical or to ponder on what doctrines could hinder salvation.[2]

In 1621 he preached that "Commonwealth and Church are collective bodies made up of many into one, and both so near allied that the one, the Church, can never subsist but in the other, the Commonwealth...the Commonwealth can have no blessed and happy being, but by the Church". In 1626 he said that people who were sacrilegious towards the Church inevitably became violent towards sovereigns as well. By the mid-1620s Laud had abandoned earlier support for Calvinism and argued that anti-Arminianism was threatening both Church and civil unity, warning Parliament in 1626: "Divide the minds of men about their hope of salvation in Christ and tell me what unity there will be". The disputes over predestination he condemned, remarking that "something about these controversies is unmasterable in this life", though he was aware of the dangers of extreme anti-Arminianism.[2]

Laud played a leading part in Charles I's coronation and preached at the opening of Parliament in 1625 and 1626. Through Buckingham, Laud was in contact with Charles and was dispatched by Charles to Lancelot Andrewes to enquire into Andrewes' opinions on Church matters. Laud considered Andrewes "the great light of the Christian world" and edited a collection of his sermons. Upon Andrewes's death Laud was appointed Dean of the Chapel Royal and promised the Archbishopric of Canterbury by Charles. Laud was also appointed Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1626, to the Privy Council in April 1627 and became Bishop of London in July 1628.[2]

However Laud had enemies at court and John Williams was constantly intriguing against him and Laud feared that he would reconcile with Buckingham and secure his revenge against him. According to one biographer, Laud possessed an obsessive fear of Williams and believed his hand lay behind the agitation of the anti-Laudian's Henry Burton, John Bastwick and William Prynne and even the Prayer Book Rebellion in Scotland.[2]

In his sermons in Parliament in 1626 and 1628, Laud hoped for peace and unity along with an emphasis on the power of the King in alliance with the Church, warning against radicals who would subvert both. In a court sermon in 1625 Laud said the King's power "is not any assuming to himself, nor any gift from the people, but God's and the same action is God's by ordinance and the King's by execution". Parliament's sole duty was to provide the King with money: "The King is the sun. He draws up some vapours, some supply, some support, from us. It is true he must do so: for if the sun draw up no vapours, it can pour down no rain". In July 1626 in a sermon at court, Laud claimed that the King's office and person were sacred and so irreverence towards him was sacrilege.[2]

Laud drafted many speeches for Buckingham to defend himself and for Charles to defend Buckingham. He also drafted the King's response to the House of Commons's remonstrance of June 1628 which strongly defended Charles's policies and Buckingham but ended with the plea: "Let us see moderation and the ancient parliamentary way, and we shall love nothing more than parliaments". However on another occasion Laud tried unsuccessfully to secure a conviction for treason for the author of a pamphlet attacking the King's forced loan as it would divide the King from the people. He also weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of the King calling a Parliament and dwelt on the drawbacks, claiming that parliamentary subsidies to the King were ordained by God, not for Parliament to barter concessions from the King in return for subsidies. Another paper to the King outlined the history of parliamentary subsidies and Laud claimed that Magna Carta "had an obscure birth by usurpation, and was fostered and shewed to the world by rebellion"; the King could revoke Magna Carta as he pleased and that Parliament should vote taxes "without dispute".[2][3]

Laud was unpopular in the Commons and a remonstrance there in June 1628 had condemned him and Neile as Arminians. Laud also heard rumours that a newly called Parliament would mean he would be sacrificed to appease their anger at the King's policies. Buckingham was assassinated to national rejoicing in August 1628 but Laud described his death as "the saddest news that ever I heard in my life".[4] Laud was perhaps closer to Buckingham than even Charles and in his will Laud left Buckingham's son a chalice and gold paten "as the memorial of him who had a faithful heart to love, and the honour to be beloved of his father".[2]

In February 1629 it was rumoured that Laud had preached against Arminianism at court and Parliament was informed by Humphrey May that Laud and Neile had knelt before the Privy Council to deny that they were Arminians. This may have been tactical on Laud's part as the King wanted money out of Parliament but Parliament was dissolved soon after so the matter was heard of no more.[2]

Chancellor of Oxford

In 1630 Laud was elected Chancellor of the University of Oxford by nine votes. He took an active part in university affairs, more so than his predecessors, keeping up a weekly correspondence with his Vice-Chancellor throughout his tenure as well as receiving detailed letters on Oxford matters from other friends there. In June 1636 came the fruition of many years work on a new code of statutes, with Laud the primary author. He extended the power of the Chancellor and strengthened discipline, and in a separate campaign he secured the rights of visitation of the university. He insisted on his right to examine the religious conformity of every member of the university though he did not in the end practice them. These statutes remained in force until the University Reform Act of 1854.

Laud presided over the King's visit to Oxford in August 1636, as well as building a new quadrangle to St John's College, donating to the Bodleian Library over 1,000 books, manuscripts and coins, and founding a lectureship in Arabic.[2] He also acquired, at some expense, two Arabic script printing sets from the Netherlands, first publishing in Oxford in 1639.[5]

Archbishop of Canterbury

Altar, c. 1635, the centre of dispute between Puritans and Laudians, possibly consecrated by Laud himself. St. Peter's Collegiate Church, Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. Parish of Central Wolverhampton WV1 1TS.

Laud was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury on 19 August 1633 and confirmed on 19 September. The pun "give great praise to the Lord, and little Laud to the devil" is a warning to Charles attributed to the official court jester Archibald Armstrong. Laud was known to be touchy about his diminutive stature. He was almost sixty when he became Archbishop, and having waited with increasing impatience for a decade to replace Abbot, was no longer prepared to compromise on any aspect of his policy.[6] Laud wrote to the King that "if it [the Church] had more power, the Kinge might have more both obedience and service"; Laud's vision was of Church and state in union, working together to strengthen the Church as well as cultivate obedience to the King independent of Parliament. A close working partnership was consequently formed between Laud and Charles, with Laud implementing the practical policies inspired by Charles.[2]

Laud also drew up a list of what he wanted to do for the Church; these included securing the economic power of the Church. He also wished to restore St Paul's Cathedral which he devoted himself throughout the 1630s. This included in a new west front designed by Inigo Jones, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666. He also helped improve the administration of cathedrals but this led to complaints from clergymen that he was infringing on their jurisdiction. Laud used the Court of High Commission to punish clergy who he felt were not fulfilling their duties, remarking in the case of Ireland that if one Irish bishop was deprived of his position it "would do more good in Ireland, than anything that hath been there these forty years".[2]

The main controversy of his time as Archbishop, however, was his conflict with the Puritans. Whereas Lord Strafford saw the political dangers of Puritanism, Laud saw the threat to the episcopacy. (Their political programme, centring on the unquestioned authority of the King, was generally called the Thorough policy.) But the Puritans themselves felt threatened: the Counter-Reformation was succeeding abroad and the Thirty Years' War was not progressing to the advantage of the Protestants. In this climate, Laud's high church policy was seen as a sinister development. A year after Laud's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, the ship Griffin left for America, carrying religious dissidents such as Anne Hutchinson, the Reverend John Lothropp and the Reverend Zechariah Symmes.

Laud's policy was influenced by his desire to impose uniformity on the Church of England, which was driven by a belief that this was the duty of his office but, to those of differing views, it came as persecution. Perhaps this had the unintended consequence of garnering support for the most implacable opponents of the Anglican compromise. In 1637, William Prynne, John Bastwick and Henry Burton were convicted of seditious libel and had their ears cropped and their cheeks branded. Prynne reinterpreted the "SL" ("Seditious Libeller") branded on his forehead as "Stigmata Laudis". Laud moved to silence his principal episcopal critic John Williams who was convicted of various offences in the Star Chamber; but contrary to Laud's expectation, Williams refused to resign as Bishop of Lincoln, and waited patiently until 1641 when he moved to bring about Laud's downfall.

Laud believed ceremonial conformity was essential because (as he expressed at his trial) "the hedge that fence the substance of religion from all the indignities which profaneness and sacrilege too commonly put upon it...unity cannot long continue in the church, where uniformity is shut out at the church door". By upholding a more decorous form of worship and church decoration, Laud believed his was restoring the Church "to the rules of its first reformation", although he admitted that the Book of Common Prayer and Church canons could be beneficially amended. In his visitations of twenty dioceses between 1634 and 1637, Laud set out to impose uniformity of worship in a campaign not seen since the Reformation. However he was unsure of the legal position of imposing altar tables at the east end of churches so held back from forcing them until inserting the need for them in the Irish canons of 1635 and the English canons of 1640. In his speech of 1637 in the Star Chamber against Burton, Bastick and Prynne, Laud claimed that he had not imposed the new position of the communion table but its arrangement was not just an issue of taste as it was "the greatest place of God's residence upon earth...yea greater than the pulpit, for there 'tis Hoc est corpus meum, 'This is My body', but in the pulpit 'tis at most but Hoc est verbum meum, 'This is My word'."[2]

In 1633 was reissued the Declaration of Sports that permitted certain recreations on the sabbath. He was not greatly involved in this area, though he was strongly opposed to fasting on the sabbath. He was concerned how Puritan lay justices were using strict sabbatarian orders to infringe on the Church's jurisdiction.

Due to his stringent opposition to Puritanism and his emphasis on ceremony, Laud was accused of harbouring Catholic sympathies. He was twice offered the position of Cardinal in the Catholic Church, possibly by the English Benedictine David Codner. However Laud rejected this offer, saying that "something dwelt within me which would not suffer that, till Rome were other than it is". He also refused to meet the unofficial papal emissary Gregorio Panzani and showed hostility to the papal agent George Con. He reacted to his friend Kenelm Digby's conversion to Rome with distress and raised the problem of conversions to Rome by members of the court at a council board and secured a royal proclamation against them. In 1639 Laud published an expanded account of his conference with Fisher in 1622 in which he offered a legalistic defence of England's separation from Rome; unlike more fervent Protestants he did not regard the Pope as Anti-Christ, or as a false church and only in certain respects was Rome considered idolatrous and heretical. He even admitted that salvation within the Catholic Church was possible. Some who were not usually Laud's supporters admired this work, including James Ussher who wanted it translated into Latin; John Hacket, who called it a "Master-Piece in Divinity"; and Sir Edward Dering who predicted that the book "shall strike the Papists under the fifth ribbe when he is dead and gone" and would be Laud's "lasting Epitaph".[2] Laud viewed the book as his lasting testament against charges of Catholicism and left £100 in his will to have it translated and dispersed far and wide so "that the Christian world may see and judge of my religion".

Laud was unenthusiastic when the Scottish Calvinist John Dury approached him with a scheme for pan-Protestant unity across Europe, although he admitted that reunion with the more episcopal-minded Swedish Church was more likely than the Presbyterian Swiss. The churches in England for Dutch and French immigrants were pressured by Laud into conforming with the Anglican Church, as Laud believed that "their example is of ill consequence...for many are confirmed in their stubborn ways of disobedience to the Church-government, seeing them so freely suffered...[their separation from the Anglicans] alienate them from the state". Laud also sought to make sure English people abroad stuck to Anglican forms of worship. such as merchants in Holland and English soldiers in Dutch pay.[2][7]

Similarly, Laud sought to impose conformity on all of the King's dominions. He wanted Guernsey brought under episcopal control and was the head of a commission for the English colonies in America, ruling that no one could emigrate to New England without a certificate showing their religious conformity. In Ireland he supported the introduction of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Anglican Church and a court of high commission. Initially he wanted the Irish to adopt all the English canons but compromised in allowing a modified set of canons to be adopted in Ireland, remarking that some improvement on the English canons was the result. In Scotland he wanted the Anglican prayer book adopted whole but this was rejected by Scottish bishops, being left to revise the prayer book for Scottish use. However even this revised prayer book was strongly objected to by the Scots but Laud did not believe the fault of the ensuing conflict lay with him but the Scottish bishops: "[I warned them] to be very careful what they did and how they demeaned themselves...that they should be very moderate in the prosecution and temper themselves from all offence" and on another occasion lamenting the "want of care and the way of managing the thing...and then in timely suppressing the first disorders about it".[2]

The conflict with the Scots led to him becoming a hate figure amongst them and also to the recall of Parliament in April 1640. Many MPs condemned Laud for introducing Catholic-style forms of worship, especially bowing towards the altar, and Laud advised the King to dissolve Parliament, which the King did after just three weeks sitting. Charles enabled Convocation to sit after the parliamentary dissolution to discuss the new canons. Laud was associated with the King's high-handed policies and became extremely unpopular, with a mob laying siege to Lambeth Palace, Laud being forced to take refuge in Whitehall. With the Bishops' Wars going badly for Charles, he called another Parliament in November 1640.

Trial and execution

For more details on this topic, see Trial of Archbishop Laud.

Etching by Wenceslaus Hollar, Laud being tried for treason, with several people present labelled

Laud was aware of his unpopularity, remarking that "I am almost every day threatened with my ruin in parliament". He also told John Selden he would happily acquiesce in the dropping of the revised canons passed by Convocation if this was wanted. On 18 December 1640 the Commons, on a motion proposed by John Pym, impeached Laud for high treason. The MP Harbottle Grimston denounced him as "the roote and ground of all our miseries and calamities...look upon him as he is in his highness, and he is the very sty of all pestilential filth, that hath infected the State and Government of this Commonwealth".[8] The charges against Laud included the allegations that he endeavoured to set up an arbitrary government and thereby subvert the Fundamental Laws of England, that he hindered justice, that he altered the true religion and that he usurped papal powers, that he worked to reconcile England to the Church of Rome, that he persecuted Puritan preachers, that he sowed division with Protestant churches abroad, that he stoked a war with Scotland, and that he alienated the king from his subjects.[2] As a consequence, Laud was brought into the custody of the Gentleman Usher.[9][clarification needed]

The case against him was brought forward in February 1641 with fourteen articles of impeachment voted in the Commons on 24 February. On 1 March Laud was sent to the Tower of London. Maurice Wynn remarked eight days later that Laud was ready to die, as the King did not regard him now.[10] Laud, in his final service in his chapel, found comfort in chapter 50 of Isaiah and Psalm 94.

At Strafford's execution in May he fainted when trying to give him a final blessing, later complaining that Strafford had been executed because he had served a king "who knew not how to be, or be made, great". Charles did not favour Laud as previously and it was only at Edward Hyde's instigation that the King gave Laud a royal pardon with the imprimatur of the Great Seal of the Realm in April 1644, though this pardon did not save him. From 1641 to 1643 he remained imprisoned in the Tower. In 1643 he was ordered by Parliament to appoint Edward Corbet to Chartham. Laud had previously clashed with Corbet in Oxford and the King instructed him not to accept this promotion. Laud followed the King's advice and Prynne, another of Laud's old enemies, was ordered on 31 May to seize Laud's papers for evidence against him for a trial. The Commons voted another ten articles for Laud's impeachment five months later, with his trial beginning on 12 March 1644 and ending on 11 October.

The trial proceeded irregularly: witnesses were interfered with, and the lords who sat in judgement were not present throughout the whole of the trial (apart from the Speaker). Laud was given only two hours to form his answer to the prosecution and it was not until the last day of the trial that his counsel was heard on points of law. Prynne had access to twenty-one rolls of Laud's papers but was unable to find evidence to substantiate the charges. Although it seems that Laud did not consciously lie in his trial, he did hold back information that he knew his prosecutors could use as evidence for the charges against him. For example he brought as evidence docket books on church patronage which he knew were inaccurate and rejected accusations that he had promoted incendiary figures as he knew the prosecution did not possess the evidence that showed he did indeed employ them.[2]

The prosecution was unable to convict him by ordinary procedures and so Parliament passed a bill of attainder on 4 January 1645, with the House of Lords being pressured by a mob and with only nineteen peers present. Laud was executed on Tower Hill on 10 January and in his speech on the scaffold he denied he deserved this fate but was heckled by his enemies such as Sir John Clotworthy. Laud was initially buried in the chancel of All Hallows Barking but after the Restoration he was moved to the chapel of St John's College, Oxford in a vault beneath the altar.[2]

Laud was survived by his pet tortoise, who until its death in 1753 was the last survivor of the Civil War. Its shell is preserved underneath Laud's portrait at Lambeth Palace[11]


Stained glass windows in the Chapter House, Canterbury Cathedral, depicting Henry IV, Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer and Laud.

Lord Clarendon in his History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, summed up Laud's character from the view point of a Tory:

He was a man of great parts, and very exemplar virtues, allayed and discredited by some unpopular natural infirmities; the greatest of which was (besides a hasty, sharp way of expressing himself,) that he believed innocence of heart and integrity of manners was a guard strong enough to secure any man in his voyage through this world, in what company soever he travelled and through what ways soever he was to pass: and sure never any man was better supplied with that provision...He was a man of great courage and resolution, and being most assured within himself that he proposed no end in all his actions or design than what was pious and just, (as sure no man had ever a heart more entire to the King, the Church, or his country,) he never studied the best ways to those ends; he thought, it may be, that any art or industry that way would discredit, at least make the integrity of the end suspected. Let the cause be what it will, he did court persons too little; nor cared to make his designs and purposes appear as candid as they were by shewing them in any other dress than their own natural beauty and roughness; and did not consider enough what men said or were like to say to him. If the faults and vices were fit to be looked into and discovered, let the persons be who they would that were guilty of them, they were sure to find no connivance of favour from him. He intended the discipline of the Church should be felt, as well as spoken of, and that it should be applied to the greatest and most splendid transgressors, as well as to the punishment of smaller offences and meaner offenders; and thereupon called for or cherished the discover of those who were not careful to cover their own iniquities, thinking they were above the reach of other men, or their power and will to chastise.[12]

Lord Macaulay offered a contrasting view from the Whig side: "[For Laud] we entertain a more unmitigated contempt than for any other character in our history. The fondness with which a portion of the church regards his memory, can be compared only to that perversity of affection which sometimes leads a mother to select the monster or the idiot of the family as the object or her especial favour". Macaulay also claimed Laud's "mind had not expansion enough to comprehend a great scheme, good or bad. His oppressive acts were not, like those of the Earl of Strafford, parts of an extensive system. They were the luxuries in which a mean and irritable disposition indulges itself from day to day, the excesses natural to a little mind in a great place...[he was] a ridiculous old bigot".[13] Later, in his History of England, Macaulay spoke of "the energetic hatred which had burned in the heart of Laud" and "the tyranny of Laud":

Of all the prelates of the Anglican Church, Laud had departed farthest from the principles of the Reformation, and had drawn nearest to Rome. His theology was more remote than even that of the Dutch Arminians from the theology of the Calvinists. His passion for ceremonies, his reverence for holidays, vigils, and sacred places, his ill concealed dislike of the marriage of ecclesiastics, the ardent and not altogether disinterested zeal with which he asserted the claims of the clergy to the reverence of the laity, would have made him an object of aversion to the Puritans, even if he had used only legal and gentle means for the attainment of his ends. But his understanding was narrow; and his commerce with the world had been small. He was by nature rash, irritable, quick to feel for his own dignity, slow to sympathise with the sufferings of others, and prone to the error, common in superstitious men, of mistaking his own peevish and malignant moods for emotions of pious zeal. Under his direction every corner of the realm was subjected to a constant and minute inspection. Every little congregation of separatists was tracked out and broken up. Even the devotions of private families could not escape the vigilance of his spies. Such fear did his rigour inspire that the deadly hatred of the Church, which festered in innumerable bosoms, was generally disguised under an outward show of conformity. On the very eve of troubles, fatal to himself and to his order, the Bishops of several extensive dioceses were able to report to him that not a single dissenter was to be found within their jurisdiction.[14]

A year after Laud's death, his old enemy Prynne published Canterburies Doome, a hostile account of Laud's trial. In 1668 Peter Heylin published a defence of Laud called Cyprianus Anglicus. In 1695 Henry Wharton published Laud's surviving papers in The history of the troubles and tryal of the most reverend father in God, and blessed martyr, William Laud.

During the eighteenth century there were High Tory admirers of Laud but it was not until the Victorian age that his popularity amongst High Churchmen reached its apogee, with the Anglo-Catholics of the Oxford Movement revering him. Cardinal Newman in his Apologia Pro Vita Sua remarked that "I read Laud on Tradition, and thought it (as I still think it) very masterly".[15]

His collected works in seven volumes were published between 1847 and 1860 in the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology.

In 1895 came the 250th anniversary of Laud's execution and his supporters praised him as "one of the Fathers of the English of those to whom, under God, we owe all that we hold most dear".[16] C. H. Simpkinson claimed Laud was "the chief advocate of the Working classes, the defender of the poor, the Leader of the Education Movement, and the administrator who endeavoured to exterminate the corruption of the Civil Service".[17] An exhibition at All Hallows Barking was put on of relics of Laud and was seen by more than 2,000 visitors. On 10 January a big procession along with a choir made a pilgrimage to the location of the scaffold at Tower Hill, where a Te Deum was sung and the pages from Heylin's biography that dealt with his execution were read out. However the occasion was not without its controversy as the leaders of the commemoration received anonymous letters denouncing them: "You are doing the work of the great Whore of Babylon and leading them to the Pope as your Laud did".[18] As late as 1980 a historian (Patrick Collinson) condemned Laud as "the greatest calamity ever visited upon the English Church".[19]

He has been called "a public man without a private life"; as he seems to have lived entirely for his work, in that he had neither pastimes nor recreation, and remarkably few friends.[20] He was indeed far more inclined to make enemies than friends, due to his irritable temper and the extraordinary sharpness with which he reprimanded anyone, even his social superiors, with whom he disagreed. When he clashed with the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Thomas Richardson, in 1632, Laud so humiliated Richardson in public that the judge left the room in tears.[21] Charles I towards the end of his life admitted that he had put too much trust in Laud, and allowed his "peevish humours ", and obsession with points of ritual, to inflame divisions within the Church: he warned his son not to rely entirely on anyone else's judgement in such matters. Laud, on his side, could not forgive the King for allowing Strafford's execution and dismissed him as " a mild and gracious Prince, that knows not how to be or be made great".[22]

Laud is remembered in both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the United States with a Commemoration on 10 January.


1.      Jump up ^ Phillips, Daphne (1980). The Story of Reading. Countryside Books. p. 47. ISBN 0-905392-07-8. 

2.      ^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Anthony Milton, 'Laud, William (1573–1645)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2009, accessed 25 June 2013.

3.      Jump up ^ Conrad Russell, Parliaments and English Politics. 1621–1629 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), pp. 52–53, p. 338.

4.      Jump up ^ Trevor-Roper, p. 456.

5.      Jump up ^ Roper, Geoffrey (1985), "Arabic Printing and Publishing in England before 1820", British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Bulletin (12/1), pp. 14–5 .

6.      Jump up ^ Trevor-Roper, p. 42.

7.      Jump up ^ Conrad Russell, The Fall of the British Monarchies. 1637–1642 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), pp. 37–38.

8.      Jump up ^ Russell, Fall of the British Monarchies, p. 182.

9.      Jump up ^ Russell, Fall of the British Monarchies, p. 211.

10. Jump up ^ Russell, Fall of the British Monarchies, p. 268.

12. Jump up ^ Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, The History of the Rebellion. A New Selection (Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 22, pp. 24–25.

13. Jump up ^ Lord Macaulay, Critical and Historical Essays. Volume One (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1907), pp. 41–42.

15. Jump up ^ Martin J. Svaglic (ed.), Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1967), p. 186.

16. Jump up ^ W. E. Collins (ed.), Archbishop Laud commemoration, 1895 (1895), p. 63.

17. Jump up ^ Collins, p. 124.

18. Jump up ^ Collins, p. xiv.

19. Jump up ^ Patrick Collinson, The Religion of Protestants: The Church in English Society 1559–1625 (Oxford University Press, 1984), p. 90.

20. Jump up ^ Trevor-Roper, pp. 33–35.

21. Jump up ^ Trevor-Roper, pp. 156–158.

22. Jump up ^ Trevor-Roper, p. 409.


  • Charles Carlton, Archbishop William Laud (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987).
  • W. E. Collins (ed.), Archbishop Laud commemoration, 1895 (1895).
  • Conrad Russell, Parliaments and English Politics. 1621–1629 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979).
  • Conrad Russell, The Fall of the British Monarchies. 1637–1642 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).
  • Hugh Trevor-Roper, Archbishop Laud, 1573–1645 (Phoenix, 2000).

Further reading

  • E. C. E. Bourne, The Anglicanism of William Laud (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1947).
  • J. Davies, The Caroline Captivity of the Church: Charles I and the Remoulding of Anglicanism, 1625–1641 (1992).
  • K. Fincham, ‘William Laud and the Exercise of Caroline Ecclesiastical Patronage’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 51 (2000), pp. 69–93.
  • Kenneth Fincham and Nicholas Tyacke, Altars Restored: The Changing Face of English Religious Worship, 1547-c.1700 (Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • A. Ford, ‘Correspondence between archbishops Ussher and Laud’, Archivium Hibernicum, 46 (1991–92), pp. 5–21.
  • Peter McCullough, Sermons at Court: Politics and Religion in Elizabethan and Jacobean Preaching (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • W. J. Tighe, ‘William Laud and the reunion of the churches: some evidence from 1637 and 1638’, History Journal, 30 (1987), pp. 717–727.
  • Nicholas Tyacke, Anti-Calvinists: Rise of English Arminianism, c.1590–1640 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987).

  • P. White, Predestination, Policy and Polemic (1992).

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