Religion in Lancashire 1603-1640

Webb, Carol (1993) Religion in Lancashire 1603-1640. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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At the close of Elizabeth I's reign, some Lancashire ministers asked Archbishop Matthew Hutton of York, to remember 'the general state of the people amongst whom we live, standing of two sorts, the obstinate papists and the zealous professors of religion'. (1) Such sentiments were echoed in 1608 by Edmund Hopwood, the leading Protestant gentleman of Manchester deanery: 'I beseech God deliver this kingdom and state from all my sins, all atheism, popery and puritanism, which in this corner grow ripe for the sickle', and in 1617 James I complained 'that two sorts of people wherewith that county is much infected (we mean papists and puritans) have maliciously traduced and calumniated these our just and honourable proceedings' . (2)
The Reformation in Lancashire, whatever may have been the case elsewhere, had failed to achieve the replacement of one uniform orthodoxy by another. Rather, it had resulted, as contemporaries contended, in the division of the county
into two competing factions. Reformation by official decree had failed to destroy widespread popular Catholicism, while the 'unofficial' reformation of preachers and itinerant traders had failed to win over more than one corner of the county. Thus, at
the opening of the seventeenth century, there were marked geographical variations in the distribution of Catholics and Protestants within Lancashire. The indigenous Catholic population were more intensely settled in the deaneries of Warrington, Amounderness and Leyland. whilst Protestantism initially in the form of clerical, and then later lay Puritanism, had entrenched itself in the southeastern corner of the county in the deanery of Manchester, and to a more limited extent in the deanery of Blackburn.
Therefore, roughly speaking, the two religious extremes were housed in two separate portions of the county.
Indeed, though it would be erroneous to conclude that religious allegiances followed ecclesiastical divisions

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