The Church in an Age of Negligence: Ecclesiastical Structure and Problems of Church Reform 1700-1840

By Peter Virgin

A ground-breaking study of the status of the Anglican clergy and the challenges of church reform in the political and social environment of Georgian England .

ISBN: 9780227679111


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.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 332

Trade Information JGEN

About the Author

Peter Virgin gained his PhD in ecclesiastical history from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently Director of Research for Morgan Grenfell Securities and lives in London.



1. Continuity and Change
2. Sources of Clerical Income
3. The Sound of Sovereigns
4. Image and Reality
5. The Clergyman as ‘Squarson’ and Magistrate
6. Problems of Church Reform
7. The Patron
8. A World of Pluralities
9. The Lives of the Subalterns
10. Conclusion

Statistical Appendix and Tables