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An Anglican British worldThe Church of England and the expansion of the settler empire, c. 1790-1860$
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Joseph Hardwick

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087226

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087226.001.0001

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The making of a colonial laity

The making of a colonial laity

(p.65) Chapter Two The making of a colonial laity
An Anglican British world

Joseph Hardwick

Manchester University Press

This chapter charts the emergence of a colonial laity and compares this with the contemporaneous development of the colonial political public. The colonial Church was transformed by the growing visibility and significance of a colonial laity that was increasingly being asked to stump up the cash that would facilitate the maintenance and further expansion of the Anglican Communion. The chapter shows that the identity and make-up of the colonial laity was a contested and problematic issue throughout the first half of the nineteenth century. In theory all the inhabitants of the British colonies were defined as members of the empire’s established Anglican Church; in practice, churchmen wanted to limit the right to sit in church vestries and administer Church property to a narrower community of regular communicants. Clergy also found that the growing strength of the laity posed a number of difficult questions: how could clergy articulate their clerical authority when they were dependent on the voluntary subscriptions of their churchgoers? How could a Church maintain centres of authority when much of the responsibility for finding and funding clergy was delegated to networks composed of evangelical lay persons?

Keywords:   Colonial laity, Political public, Church membership, Negotiated authority, Voluntary system

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