The movement for the reformation of manners, 1688-1715
Craig, Andrew Gordon
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Previously unused manuscript sources and printed sources form the basis for an examination of the motivations, tactics and interactions with existing institutions of the participants in the movement for reformation of manners. Their providential and patriarchal beliefs are highlighted within the 1688 to 1715 period, whose climate of uncertainty and fear were crucial to sharpening the reformers' sense of urgency to achieve a more effective enforcement of secular laws against immorality and profaneness and thus ensure England's survival against foreign and domestic enemies. Founding members of the First Society for Reformation of Manners in London are identified, as well as their allies among the Anglican religious societies and elsewhere. Opposition to the ad hoc reforming societies from the capital's judicial establishment is analysed. The movement's efforts against sexual immoralities, swearing and cursing, and Sabbath-breaking are catalogued, together with attempts to suppress Bartholomew Fair and London's homosexual population. Sermons preached to reformers of manners in London are catalogued and studied for the reformers' views on magistracy, the community and the family. The final chapter examines opinions about the movement held by civil authorities, the Anglican leadership and champions of the High Church party, since reformation of manners became an element in the 'rage of party' in church and state. The conclusion places the movement for reformation of manners as one strand composing 'country ideology', a pervasive historical attitude in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries decrying any unbalancing of the constitution of the commonweal whether by immoralities, hypocrisy or political expediency.