Commonwealth Ministry

I sometimes detect a degree of snobbery found on those lists of clergy found in our ancient parish churches. During the Commonwealth period, ministers will sometimes be called ‘intruders’ or ‘usurpers’; in this example at Otley in Yorkshire, no dates have been given (the records may be scant, to be fair), but their association with the despised Commonwealth is noted.

Commonwealth and Protectorate-era ministers were usually more earnest and diligent than the mediocrities or dross that went before them and followed them. Although not all clergy were exemplary, the prospect of removal by triers and ejectors ensured a higher quality parish ministry than that offered by those guaranteed a job for life. I would sooner hear a Commonwealth minister preach than a Restoration cleric read aloud from a prayer book and set of homilies.