The excessive taxation and religious policies of Charles I, which caused great social unrest during the mid 17th century, eventually led to Civil War. The King’s army was finally defeated in 1646. He was tried, condemned to death and executed on 30th January 1649. On 17 March 1649. The monarchy, along with the House of Lords and the Anglican Church, was abolished by the Rump Parliament. England was then declared a republic. Thereafter there was much infighting between the Puritans and the army, which was controlled by Cromwell. The army won the day and in 1653 Oliver Cromwell accepted the role of Lord Protector of the Commonwealth.
Cromwell never ceased to plead with his Parliaments to extend and protect freedom of religion ‘for all species of Protestant’ , and he rejoiced to know good men ‘with the root of the matter’ in many different Churches. As a result, he refused to make attendance at the state Church a qualification for office. Despite strict rules as to how people should behave in any given circumstance, Cromwell’s rule allowed a great degree of religious tolerance. This resulted in the sudden growth in the number of religious sects. Many of them quickly faded from view, but amongst those which survived were the Quakers who, as the Society of Friends, are still with us.
Click on the links below to find more information on two areas of Nonconformity: