Nonconformity

A term used generally to describe the position of those who do not conform to the doctrine and practices of an established church. The word “nonconformist” was first used in the penal acts following the Restoration (1660), to describe those who left the Church of England rather than submit to the Act of Uniformity* (1662). The earlier term “Dissenters” was superseded by “Nonconformist,” and this to a certain extent by “Free churchmen.” In England at present, nonconforming Protestants are composed largely of the Methodists, the Baptists, the Congregationalists, and the Presbyterians, but in Scotland the Church of Scotland is presbyterian, and the Episcopal Church in Scotland is therefore nonconformist.