Religion in the Age of Enlightenment


Religion in the Age of Enlightenment, William Sancroft, bishops


On Advent Sunday, 1660, seven bishops were consecrated in Westminster Abbey. The extraordinary number was made necessary by the anti-episcopal policies of the Parliamentary government of the previous fifteen years; a total of seventeen new bishops were consecrated in England and Wales in the first months of the Restoration. This particular consecration at Westminster Abbey remedied the situation in two Welsh dioceses (William Lucy of St. David's and Hugh Lloyd of Llandaff) and five English ones (John Cosin of Durham, Benjamin Laney of Peterborough, Richard Sterne of Carlisle, Brian Walton of Chester, and John Garden of Exeter). Several of these bishops were also noted for their service to the church and Crown, sometimes at great personal peril, and a number of them would go on to be distinguished prelates in the Restoration church. Advent Sunday was a particularly appropriate-indeed, propitious-day on which to hold the consecration, the first day of the first complete liturgical year of the restored monarchy. The preacher on this occasion was

William Sancroft, chaplain to John Cosin. Born in 1617, in the time of James I, he lived into the reign of William and Mary and died in 1693. Thus, his life spanned all the Stuart monarchs except Queen Anne, as well as the Interregnum. Like many royalists, he experienced depriva - tion under Cromwell-he was ejected as Master of Emmanuel College, Oxford-and was rewarded at the Restoration. The chaplaincy was an early mark of the favor that would be accorded him, as was his being chosen to preach at the consecration.