Great Ejection

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Title page of a collection of Farewell Sermons preached by ministers ejected from their parishes in 1662.

The Great Ejection followed the Act of Uniformity 1662 in England. Several thousand Puritan ministers were forced out of their positions in the Church of England, following The Restoration of Charles II. It was a consequence (not necessarily intended) of the Savoy Conference of 1661.[1]


The Act of Uniformity prescribed that any minister who refused to conform to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer by St Bartholomew's Day (24 August) 1662 should be ejected from the Church of England. This date became known as 'Black Bartholomew's Day' among Dissenters, a reference to the fact that it occurred on the same day as the St Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572. Oliver Heywood estimated the number of ministers ejected at 2,500.[2] This group included Richard Baxter, Edmund Calamy the Elder, Simeon Ashe, Thomas Case, John Flavel, William Jenkyn, Joseph Caryl, Benjamin Needler, Thomas Brooks, Thomas Manton, William Sclater, Thomas Doolittle and Thomas Watson. Biographical details of ejected ministers and their fates were later collected by the historian Edmund Calamy, grandson of the elder Calamy.

Although there had already been ministers outside the established church, the Great Ejection created an abiding concept of non-conformity. Strict religious tests of the Clarendon Code and other Penal Laws left a substantial section of English society excluded from public affairs, and also university degrees, for a century and a half. Culturally, in England and Wales, nonconformism endured longer than that.


The Memorial Hall on Albert Square, Manchester, built to commemorate the bicentennial of the Great Ejection, at the suggestion of John Relly Beard[3]

The bicentennial in 1862 led to a sharp debate, with the nonconformist agenda being questioned, and the account in Calamy being reviewed.[4]

Iain Murray argues that the issue was deeper than "phrases in the Book of Common Prayer and forms of church order," but regarded the "nature of true Christianity."[5]


The Bishop of Liverpool, J. C. Ryle (1816–1900), referred to the Ejection as an "injury to the cause of true religion in England which will probably never be repaired".[6]

A Service of Reconciliation was held at Westminster Abbey on 7 February 2012 to mark the 350th anniversary of the Great Ejection. Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, preached at the service which was attended by clergy and laity of the Church of England and the United Reformed Church.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ William L. Sachs (4 July 2002), The Transformation of Anglicanism: From State Church to Global Communion, Cambridge University Press, pp. 11–12, ISBN 978-0-521-52661-6, retrieved 28 November 2012
  2. ^ "Calamy, Edmund (1671-1732)" . Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  3. ^ Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1885). "Beard, John Relly" . Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 4. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  4. ^ Timothy Larsen (2004). Contested Christianity: The Political and Social Contexts of Victorian Theology. Baylor University Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-918954-93-0.
  5. ^ Murray, Iain (1962), "Sermons of the Great Ejection: Introduction", Banner of Truth Trust, London, 8
  6. ^ Ryle, J. C., History of the Later Puritans, p. 469
  7. ^ A Service of Reconciliation, Healing of Memories and Mutual Commitment for the Church of England and the United Reformed Church, Westminster Abbey, retrieved 1 February 2012

Further reading[edit]