Calculating with Calamy

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Despite the implied goading of the Pope of Ealing and the Dean of Westminster, I have no intention of engaging in a tit-for-tat with my brother Lee Gatiss, responding to all the various points of contention (and I do not mean by saying that to imply that all his points could be swiftly and dismissively rebutted, swept away with little concern). To be sure, I think that there are still misunderstandings of one another's positions, but I am not persuaded that post and counter-post is the way to reach a point of proper disagreement based on an agreed understanding of where we believe one another to be wrong! I should say, though, that I do not think that the issues are insignificant or secondary: they have to do, at root, with the nature of the church, and that is no small cheese.

However, Robert Strivens of London Theological Seminary suggested that it might be in order to provide a little clarification on the matter of the ejectees from the national church in 1662, and the bulk of what follows is in large measure an adaptation of figures and reasoning he offered, with my own conclusions and comments.

As many readers will doubtless know, the usual figure bandied about for those ejected from the Church of England in 1662 is 'about 2000.' Where, then, does Lee obtain his figure of 936, and who is right?

The usual source for such figures is A. G. Matthews' Calamy Revised, and both Lee and others would turn to Matthews/Calamy for the figures they quote. In his introduction to Calamy Revised (Clarendon Press, 1934, xiii-xiv), Matthews gives a figure for ministers and lecturers ejected in 1662 as 936 (the figure that Lee quoted). However, that is not the whole story. In addition to those 936, Matthews gives the figure of 695 for those already ejected in 1660 and a further 129 for those ejected "at uncertain date." This gives a total of 1760 (Matthews also notes that 171 of these "afterwards conformed"). Matthews makes clear that duplication (because some were ejected twice) has been eliminated from these figures - each individual is counted only once, even if they were ejected twice.

Also, the figure for the year 1660 includes those (290 in all) who lost livings because of the restoration of previous incumbents or due to other disqualifications under the 1660 Act for Conforming and Restoring of Ministers. Matthews also explains that a further 149 men were ejected from academic and scholastic posts in 1660 or 1662.

Adding the figure of 149 to the previous figure of 1760 gives a total of 1909 men. As Lee made plain in his paper at the Westminster Conference, and in his subsequent post, he is restricting his count of 936 ejectees to the men who left the established church in 1662 as a direct result of the imposition of uniformity (and not taking into account the 1660 and 'uncertain' figures, or the academic ejectees).

We must remember that not all of these men were ejected for precisely the same reasons (indeed, by various measures, some of them ought to have been removed or removed themselves for conscience' sake on other issues). Neither are we saying that the figure of 936 is 'wrong' in an absolute sense, any more than Lee would dismiss the figure of 1909. Furthermore, there is no suggestion that Lee is trying to downplay the issue by quoting the lower figure. It does depend on where you draw the lines of demarcation, and on what basis you calculate the ejectees. If you restrict your count only to those who left the church immediately and directly as a result of 1662's Act of Uniformity, the figure of 936 is strictly accurate (and it also serves Lee's purpose of comparison with evangelical ministers within the current national church). If, however, you calculate the impact of the strictures imposed leading up to and including the Act of Uniformity as it deprived men of their livings within and without the church narrowly defined, you arrive at the much larger figure of 1909, which is how the 'about 2000' figure is derived.

To be sure, on one level the number of ejectees is not the real issue, though the emotional force of the figures is enhanced or otherwise, but hopefully this at least provides some clarity on how that number might be calculated.

[Anyone wishing for a thorough and balanced assessment of the Great Ejection, its nature and effects, from a different source, might do well to seek out the Evangelical Library's In Writing magazine (free to members, £1.50 otherwise) for Spring/Summer 2012 (#120). A CD of the lecture is also available. Here, Garry Williams surveys the matter and suggests some helpful conclusions. Contact the Library here.]
Posted December 7, 2012 @ 6:43 AM by Jeremy Walker


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