The Georgian Church was, together with the State, a ‘temporal pillar’ of the fabric of the nation. The Church occupied an honoured place in political theory, and its clergy played an important role in the sphere of local government. Half of all university matriculants were subsequently ordained, and one in six of the parochial clergy had been, at come time, a fellow of a college at Oxford or Cambridge.
Yet the study of the Georgian Church has, despite its importance, been a neglected area of history.
In his comprehensive investigation into the status of the clergy of this period, Peter Virgin applies the methods used by Namier to dissect 18th century politics, and provides an elegant account of ecclesiastical structure, incorporating tithe income, patronage, pluralism and non-residence. He also examines the role of the clerical magistracy and elucidates the numerous problems of church reform.
Writing with clarity, the author overturns orthodoxies and puts forward a series of challenging views. His work opens up new avenues for investigation and will be used by scholars for many years to come.