Declarations of Indulgence

Five English and four Scottish royal declarations may be so called. England. (1) In 1660 Charles II issued a Declaration on Ecclesiastical Affairs, wherein it was announced that differences of opinion in regard to ceremonies were to be left to the determination of a national synod. Its provisions lasted only briefly, and its principles were not made law by the Convention Parliament.

(2) In 1662 Charles issued what is usually called “the first Declaration of Indulgence,” announcing that he intended to ask the Cavalier Parliament to pass a measure to “enable him to exercise with a more universal satisfaction that power of dispensing which he conceived to be inherent in him.” No such measure, however, was passed.

(3) In 1672 Charles issued a Declaration of Indulgence for those with tender consciences and suspended the penal laws in ecclesiastical matters against Nonconformists. Both Protestants and Catholics made good use of this indulgence, which remained in force until March 1673.

(4) In 1687 James II issued a Declaration of Indulgence more thoroughgoing than his brother's of 1672. It suspended the Test Act* and all penal laws against Protestant and Catholic Nonconformists.

(5) In 1688 James issued his second Declaration of Indulgence. This repeated the substance of that of 1687 and promised that Parliament should meet by November that year. An order in council required it to be read on two successive Sundays in all parish churches. Seven bishops were imprisoned because of their opposition to it. Scotland. (1) In 1669 Charles II offered reinstatement to ejected ministers where their parish was still vacant, or alternatively institution to another charge, if they would undertake to be orderly, receive collation, and attend church courts. Lesser inducements were held out to those with reservations but of orderly behavior.

(2) In 1672 opportunity was given Nonconformist ministers to be appointed to parishes in pairs; each was to receive half the stipend; pastoral duty was to be confined to parishioners; preaching was to be in churches only; and ministers could not leave their parishes without the bishop's sanction.

(3) In 1679 “A Proclamation suspending laws against Conventicles” authorized the remission of fines and other disabilities on condition of good behavior; hitherto dissident ministers were offered appointment to parishes, with authority to dispense the sacraments, provided they had had no part in the last rebellion.

(4) In 1687 James VII announced toleration of moderate Presbyterians, with permission to worship in private houses and to hear indulged ministers; to Quakers with licensed meeting houses; and to Roman Catholics, against whom penal laws were abrogated and who were given political equality.