Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/259

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at court. On 29 July 1686 he recommended to the king candidates for election to the bishoprics of Chester and Oxford and to the deanery of Christ Church (Tanner MSS. 30, f. 69), but in no case was his advice accepted. The see of Oxford, for which he recommended South, was given to Samuel Parker (1640–1688) [q. v.]

Meanwhile the archbishop was assiduous in the duties of his see. In 1682 he had undertaken a metropolitical visitation, in which he had made a minute examination of each diocese (see Tanner MS. 124). He continued to collect information on all points of historical and antiquarian interest affecting his see and the church (see Tanner MS. 126, entirely concerned with ancient hospitals). He put out orders to check the celebration of clandestine marriages, on a report from the high commission. He was intimately concerned in protecting the privileges of All Souls' College, Oxford (Burrows, Worthies of All Souls'), and in establishing the position of the university printers (Gutch, Collectanea Curiosa, i. 269–85). He entertained men of learning (cf. wood, Life and Times, iii. 159), and did his utmost to promote distinguished scholars in the church.

At length he was compelled to enter upon an open contest with the king. He had already refused to order the clergy to give up the afternoon catechising, which James declared to be directed against his religion (Ranke, iv. 293–4, from Bonnet's manuscript), and had joined in the refusal of the governors of the Charterhouse to admit a papist on the king's orders, contrary to law. On 4 May 1688 the council ordered all clergy to read in church the king's declaration of liberty of conscience. Sancroft immediately summoned a meeting of the most prominent clergy, with the Earl of Clarendon and others, to consider the situation. Several meetings took place, of which Sancroft left copious memoranda (see Tanner MSS., especially 28). The decision was that the order should not be obeyed—not, in Sancroft's words (Tanner MSS. 28, f. 50), from ‘any want of tenderness towards dissenters, but because the declaration, being founded on such a dispensing power as may at pleasure set aside all laws ecclesiastical and civil, appears to me illegal,’ and was in fact so declared in 1672.

A petition was then drawn up and signed by Sancroft and six other bishops (Draft petition, Tanner MSS. 28, f. 34; actual petition with signatures, 18 May, f. 35; another copy with additional signatures, f. 36; a full account of the petition, and the proceedings thereon, f. 38; all in Sancroft's own hand). The six bishops presented the petition to James, Sancroft being still forbidden to appear at court.

On 27 May Sancroft and the six bishops were summoned before the council on 8 June, and after repeated examination, and on declining to enter into a recognisance to appear in Westminster Hall to answer a charge which was not specified, were committed to the Tower. Here crowds flocked to them with expressions of sympathy and offers of assistance. The Prince and Princess of Orange had already congratulated Sancroft on his firmness. On 15 June the bishops appeared before the king's bench, and were released on bail till 29 June, when they were put on their trial on a charge of seditious libel. The defence followed the lines which had been already sketched by Sancroft, and the verdict of ‘not guilty,’ which was delivered at 10 o'clock in the morning of 30 June, was received with universal enthusiasm (the proceedings of the trial were published in folio in 1689, and in octavo in 1716; Tanner MS. 28 contains full account of the expense. Sancroft's share was 260l. 16s. 8d.). Sancroft made a design for a medal to commemorate the trial (Tanner MS. 28, f. 142) The archbishop immediately after his acquittal drew up instructions for the bishops ‘of things to be more fully insisted upon in their addresses to the clergy and people of their respective dioceses,’ in which he enjoined great care against ‘all seducers, and especially popish emissaries,’ and ‘a very tender regard to our brethren the protestant dissenters’ (Tanner MS. 28, f. 121, afterwards printed). He engaged also in a scheme of comprehension with the dissenters (Wake, in Sacheverell's Trial), which was unsuccessful, and put out a ‘warning to the people’ (Tanner MS. 28, f. 153) against ‘deceivers,’ that is, papal vicars and bishops in partibus.

When the king perceived his danger, it was Sancroft who, on 3 Oct. 1688, headed the deputation which advised him to revoke all his illegal acts, abolish the high commission, and restore the city charters (the original manuscript of his speech, much corrected, in Tanner MS. 28, f. 189). He was ordered to prepare prayers for the restoration of public tranquillity (Tanner MS. 28, f. 192), which, Burnet says, ‘were so well drawn up that even those who wished for the prince might have joined in them.’ On 22 Oct. he was present at the examination of witnesses at Whitehall to ‘clear the birth of’ the Prince of Wales (William Penn to Lord Dartmouth, Hist. MSS. Comm., Report on Earl