March 1672: The Declaration of Indulgence

The History of Parliament

In March 1672 Charles II issued a document to remove harsh sanctions against religious non-conformity. But what brought about this ‘Declaration of Indulgence’ and why was a supposedly tolerant measure met with heavy criticism? History of Parliament Director Dr Paul Seaward explores…

On 15 March 1672, 350 years ago, the English government issued a document headed His Majesty’s Declaration to all his loving subjects, but which has become known as the Declaration of Indulgence. It was an astonishing statement, reversing the position of English monarchical governments since Elizabeth I towards Protestant religious dissent or nonconformity. Not only that, but in explicitly suspending a large body of parliamentary legislation which required church attendance and forbade the holding of alternative religious meetings (‘conventicles’) outside the framework of the Church of England it overrode the authority of parliament itself.

“His Majesties Declaration to All His Loving Subjects, Concerning the Treasonable Conspiracy Against…

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