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Ecclesiastical Commission

Ecclesiastical Commission, 1686. The Court of High Commission, to impose uniformity in the church, was abolished in 1641 by the Long Parliament. The abolition was reaffirmed in 1661 and ‘the erection of some such like court by commission’ expressly prohibited. Nevertheless, in 1686 James II named seven ecclesiastical commissioners with sweeping disciplinary powers. The commissioners immediately summoned Henry Compton, bishop of London, to explain why he had not suspended Dr Sharp for preaching what some took to be an anti-catholic sermon. Compton challenged the commission's authority but was himself suspended, and in 1688 was one of the ‘seven’ who appealed to William of Orange for help. Meanwhile the commission had deprived the vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge and ordered the expulsion of the fellows of Magdalen College, Oxford, for refusing to elect as president a royal nominee. James's commission was declared ‘illegal and pernicious’ by the Bill of Rights in 1689.

Judith Champ

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