Enlightenment Prelate: Benjamin Hoadly, 1676-1761

By William Gibson

A revisionist study of Benjamin Hoadly in the context of church, national and international politics in the eighteenth century.

ISBN: 9780227176771


Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop successively of Bangor, Hereford, Salisbury and Winchester, was the most controversial English churchman of the eighteenth century, and he has unjustly gained the reputation of a negligent and political bishop. His sermon on the nature of Christ’s kingdom sparked the Bangorian controversy, which ranged from 1717 to 1720 and generated hundreds of books, tracts and sermons, while his commitment to the Whigs and the cause of toleration for Dissenters earned him the antagonism of many contemporary and later churchmen.

In this powerfully revisionist study, Hoadly emerges as a dedicated and conscientious bishop with strong and progressive principles. His commitment to the ideology of the Revolution of 1688 and to the comprehension of Dissenters into the Church of England are revealed as the principal motives for his work as a preacher, author and bishop. Gibson also shows how Hoadly’s stout defence of rationalism made him a contributor to the English Enlightenment, while his commitment to civil liberties made him a progenitor of the American Revolution. Above all, however, the goal of reuniting of English Protestants remained the heart of Hoadly’s legacy.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 156 mm
Pages 399
Illustrations 2 b&w

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Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

William Gibson is Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford Brookes University, and Director of the Oxford Centre for Methodism and Church History. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries. His recent books include Samuel Wesley and the Crisis of Tory Piety, 1685-1720 and The Oxford Handbook of the British Sermon 1689-1901.


Foreword by James E. Bradley
Preface to the Updated Edition


1. Hero and Villain
2. Early Life, 1676-1701
3. Political Apprenticeship in a London Pulpit, 1701-1710
4. Sacheverell: Adversity and Triumph, 1710-1717
5. The Years of the Bangorian Controversy, 1717-21
6. Hereford and Salisbury, 1721-1734
7. Hoadly at Winchester, 1734-1761


Appendix: Hoadly in Poetry



Endorsements and Reviews

William Gibson’s Benjamin Hoadly set a new standard for ecclesiastical biography on its first publication in 2004 and rescued its subject from caricature. This welcome second edition, taking account of the most recent scholarship, restates the convincing case for Hoadly’s enduring influence and his centrality to theological debate for most of the eighteenth century.
Nigel Aston, Honorary Fellow in History, University of Leicester, and Research Associate, University of York

Through a deep, sympathetic, and sustained analysis of Hoadly’s thought, we find here a convincing account of the Whig side of the leading debates of late Stuart and early Hanoverian England. … Hoadly emerges from this important study as a more faithful churchman, a more loyal friend, and a better politician than even the best scholars had previously thought.
James E. Bradly, Geoffrey W. Bromiley Professor of Church History, Fuller Seminary

In Gibson, Hoadly has found a diligent and thorough modern defender, with a fine grasp of contemporary ecclesiastical politics. Gibson’s research, in both printed and archival records, is painstaking and admirable.
Paul Monod, in H-Albion

Gibson has rescued the personality and character of Hoadly from the level of caricature. Here Hoadly emerges as the hero of Protestant Dissenters. … fascinating, scholarly, exhaustively researched.
Peter Nockles, in English Historical Review