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Sancroft, William

William Sancroft (săng´krôft), 1617–93, English prelate, archbishop of Canterbury. His opposition to Calvinist doctrine caused him to remain abroad during the latter part of the Commonwealth. After the Restoration, he returned to England in 1660 and advanced through various ecclesiastical offices to become (1678) archbishop of Canterbury. Earlier, as dean of St. Paul's, London, he directed the building of the famous cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren. He crowned James II at his accession, but refused to serve on the newly reconstituted court of high commission. In 1687, with six of his bishops, he signed a petition asking that the declaration of indulgence, which suspended the penal laws directed against non-Anglicans, be withdrawn, on grounds that it represented an illegal use of the royal dispensing power. The imprisonment, trial, and acquittal of the seven bishops greatly heightened religious tension prior to the deposition of James. Sancroft refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary. He was suspended (1689) and deprived (1690) of his office, and in his retirement became leader of the nonjurors.

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Sancroft, William

Sancroft, William (1617–93). Archbishop of Canterbury. Sancroft was a graduate and fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge (1637), but during the Interregnum moved to Suffolk (1651) and then to Europe (1657). He became master of Emmanuel (1662), dean of York, then of St Paul's (December 1664), where he worked closely with Wren on the new cathedral, consequently refusing the bishopric of Chester (1668). As archbishop (1678), he hoped to refurbish clerical learning and Anglican discipline, especially through the church courts. He crowned James II (1685), but refused to sit on his Court of Ecclesiastical Commission. Leader of the seven bishops petitioning the king against the Declaration of Indulgence (1688), he was committed to the Tower, tried, but acquitted. After James's departure, Sancroft refused to swear allegiance to William, was deprived of his see (1690), and, as the leading non-juror, lived in Suffolk until his death.

Revd Dr William M. Marshall

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