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Counting Religion in England and Wales: The Long Eighteenth Century, c. 1680–c. 1840

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 September 2012

CLIVE D. FIELD
Affiliation:
35 Elvetham Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2LZ; e-mail: c.d.field@bham.ac.uk

Abstract

The statistical analysis of religion in England and Wales usually commences with the mid-nineteenth century. This article synthesises relevant primary and secondary sources to produce initial quantitative estimates of the religious composition of the population in 1680, 1720, 1760, 1800 and 1840. The Church of England is shown to have lost almost one-fifth of its affiliation market share during this period, with an ever increasing number of nominal Anglicans also ceasing to practise. Nonconformity more than quadrupled, mainly from 1760 and especially after 1800. Roman Catholicism kept pace with demographic growth, but, even reinforced by Irish immigration, remained a limited force in 1840. Judaism and overt irreligion were both negligible.

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Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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158 HLRO, Main Papers, 1 Mar. 1706, and references at http://www.brin.ac.uk/sources/2531.

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167 Lesourd, ‘Catholiques’, Information Historique, 37; unpubl. DLitt diss. ii. 327; and Sociologie, 46, 97–102, 159.

168 Currie, Gilbert and Horsley, Churches and churchgoers, 23, 25; cf. Ward, Bernard, The eve of Catholic emancipation, London 1911–12, i. 18, 186Google Scholar; Carson, ‘Multiplication’, 21–3.

169 Williams, Dictionary, 302; Morris, John, ‘Catholic England in modern times’, The Month lxxiv (1892), 356–74Google Scholar at p. 374; Ward, Eve of Catholic emancipation, i. 186; ii. 53; Watkin, Roman Catholicism, 158; Steel and Samuel, Sources, 837; Currie, Gilbert and Horsley, Churches and churchgoers, 25.

170 Hulbert, Religions, 462; Brady, Annals, 192, 227. 276, 312; Currie, Gilbert and Horsley, Churches and churchgoers, 25.

171 McCulloch, Statistical account, ii. 416; [Wylie, Macleod], The progress of popery, London 1838, 7Google Scholar; Statistics of popery, 3rd edn, London 1839, 37Google Scholar; Catholic Directory (1840), 60; Morris, ‘Catholic England’, 374; Herbert Thurston, ‘Statistical progress of the Catholic Church’, in Catholic emancipation, London 1929, 245–64 at pp. 253–7; Carson, ‘Multiplication’, 21; Philip Hughes, ‘The English Catholics in 1850’, in George Beck (ed.), The English Catholics, London 1950, 42–85 at p. 44; Gilbert, Religion, 46; Currie, Gilbert and Horsley, Churches and churchgoers, 25, 154.

172 HCP, 1852–3, lxxxix, p. clxxxii; Watts, Dissenters, ii. 28.

173 Connolly, Gerard, ‘“With more than ordinary devotion to God”’, North West Catholic History x (1983), 831Google Scholar at pp. 12–14, and ‘The transubstantiation of myth’, this Journal xxxv (1984), 78–104 at pp. 88–90.

174 Although some Muslims came as slaves and servants in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and as seamen and traders in the early nineteenth century, there was limited permanent Muslim settlement during this period: Matar, Nabil, ‘Muslims in seventeenth-century England’, Journal of Islamic Studies viii (1997), 6382CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Islam in Britain, 1559–1685, Cambridge 1998Google Scholar; Islam in Britain, 1689–1750’, Journal of British Studies xlvii (2008), 284300Google Scholar; and Britons and Muslims in the early modern period’, Patterns of Prejudice xliii (2009), 213–31Google Scholar, repr. in Malik, Maleiha (ed.), Anti-Muslim prejudice, London 2010, 725Google Scholar; Ansari, Humayun, The infidel within, London 2004, 2640Google Scholar; Gilliat-Ray, Sophie, Muslims in Britain, Cambridge 2010, 1327CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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176 Tovey, D'Bloissiers, Anglia-Judaica, Oxford 1738, 302Google Scholar; Lipman, Social history, 6; Endelman, Todd, The Jews of Georgian England, Philadelphia 1979, 172Google Scholar.

177 Philo-Patriae, , Considerations on the bill to permit persons professing the Jewish religion to be naturalized, London 1753, 17Google Scholar; Hyamson, Albert, A history of the Jews in England, 2nd edn, London 1928, 221Google Scholar; Roth, History of the Jews in England, 223; Lipman, Social history, 6; Endelman, Jews of Georgian England, 172; Katz, Jews in the history of England, 250.

178 Wendeborn, View of England, ii. 468; Endelman, Jews of Georgian England, 172.

179 Colquhoun, Patrick, A treatise on the police of the metropolis, 5th edn, London 1797, 120Google Scholar; Lipman, Social history, 6; Endelman, Jews of Georgian England, 172; Jonathan Campbell, ‘The Jewish community in Britain’, in Gilley and Sheils, History, 427–48 at p. 432; Katz, Jews in the history of England, 317.

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181 Hannah Neustatter, ‘Demographic and other statistical aspects of Anglo–Jewry’, in Maurice Freedman (ed.), A minority in Britain, London 1955, 53–133, 243–62 at p. 261.

182 HCP, 1852–3, lxxxix, p. clxxxii; Lipman, Vivian, ‘A survey of Anglo–Jewry in 1851’, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England xvii (1951–2), 171–88Google Scholar.

183 Thomas, Keith, Religion and the decline of magic, Harmondsworth 1973, 198206Google Scholar; Gerald Aylmer, ‘Unbelief in seventeenth-century England’, in Donald Pennington and Keith Thomas (eds), Puritans and revolutionaries, Oxford 1978, 1–21; Hunter, Michael, ‘The problem of “atheism” in early modern England’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5th ser. xxxv (1985), 135–57Google Scholar; Berman, David, A history of atheism in Britain, London 1988Google Scholar; Priestman, Martin, Romantic atheism, Cambridge 1999Google Scholar.

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185 Nash, David, Blasphemy in modern Britain, Aldershot 1999Google Scholar.

186 Field, Clive, ‘Churchgoing in the cradle of English Christianity’, Archaeologia Cantiana cxxviii (2008), 335–63Google Scholar at p. 346.

187 For example, in the diocese of Chester in 1804 and 1811: McLeod, Hugh, Religion and the working class in nineteenth-century Britain, London 1984, 20–1Google Scholar; Field, ‘A shilling’, 240.

188 Groth Lyon, Eileen, Politicians in the pulpit, Aldershot 1999Google Scholar.

189 Royle, Edward, Radical politics, 1790–1900, London 1971Google Scholar; Victorian infidels, Manchester 1974; The infidel tradition, London 1976; and ‘Secularists and rationalists, 1800–1940’, in Gilley and Sheils, History, 406–22.

190 For example, JSSL ii (1839–40), 374; iii (1840–1), 19; vi (1843), 21; xi (1848), 215.

191 Gentleman's Magazine xvii (1747), 326.

192 Bodleian Library, Oxford, ms Top. Cheshire b 1, p. 129; Heginbotham, Henry, Stockport, London 1882–92, 87Google Scholar.

193 Young, Arthur, General view of the agriculture of … Suffolk, 3rd edn,London 1804, 331Google Scholar.

194 Hume, Abraham, Missions at home, London 1850, 24–5, 29Google Scholar; HCP, 1851 ix, pp. 117–22; cf. JSSL ii (1839–40), 374; iii (1840–1), 19; vi (1843), 21, 255; xi (1848), 215.

195 Currie, , Gilbert, and Horsley, , Churches and churchgoers, 223Google Scholar.

196 Field, ‘A shilling’, 221–45.

197 Gilbert, Religion, 11–12, 28; Currie, Gilbert and Horsley, Churches and churchgoers, 22–3, 25–6, 85. Also to be found here, and of limited worth, are back-projections to 1800 of national totals for Anglican communicants.

198 Gill, Robin, The myth of the empty church, London 1993, 17, 169, 296–7Google Scholar, and The ‘empty’ church revisited, Aldershot 2003, 13, 124.

199 Obelkevich, Religion, 137–43; Barrie-Curien, Clergé, 312–19, 334–8, 431; Smith, Religion, 51–3, 244; Knight, Nineteenth-century Church, 80–2; Jacob, Lay people, 57–61; Spaeth, Church in an age of danger, 176–88; Gregory, Restoration, 262–70; Snape, Church of England, 16–19; Field, ‘A shilling’, 233–4; Marshall, Church life, 98–104.

200 CM n.s. x (1834), supplement; Monthly Repository n.s. viii (1834), 69.

201 Field, Clive, ‘A godly people?’, Southern History xiv (1992), 46–73 at pp. 50–3Google Scholar; ‘Counting the flock’, Norfolk Archaeology xliii (1998–2001), 317–26; ‘A shilling’, 221–45; and ‘Churchgoing’, 339–49.

202 HCP, 1818, xviii, p. 215.

203 Soloway, Richard, Prelates and people, London 1969, 306–15Google Scholar; Field, ‘Godly people’, 53–4; Gill, ‘Empty’ church, 13, 81, 220–4, 248–9.

204 HCP, 1852–3, lxxxix, p. clxxxii; Watts, Dissenters, ii. 28.

205 Dallas, Alexander, Pastoral superintendence, London 1841, 141Google Scholar. In a slum district of Liverpool, however, more than two-thirds of nominal Anglicans neglected worship: Hume, Missions, 29.

206 Mann, Horace, ‘On the statistical position of religious bodies’, JSSL xviii (1855), 141–59Google Scholar at pp. 152–3.

207 For example, Religion in Hertfordshire, 1847 to 1851, ed. Judith Burg (Hertfordshire Record Publications xi, 1995), p. xxix; Yorkshire returns of the 1851 census of religious worship, ed. John Wolffe (Borthwick Texts and Calendars xxv, 2000), p. v; Church and chapel in … Shropshire, p. xxiii.

208 Gilbert, Memoir, 351; Spinks, Allen and Parkes, Religion in Britain, 15–16.

209 This is suggested by Clark, Jonathan, English society, 1688–1832, Cambridge 1985Google Scholar, and English society, 1660–1832, Cambridge 2000Google Scholar.

210 Brown, Callum, The death of Christian Britain, 2nd edn, London 2009Google Scholar.

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