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The Church of England as a profession in Victorian England

Haig, Alan Graham Leigh

Description

The clergy in 1800 were by tradition part of the 'professional' world; but the professions were not large, nor were they clearly defined in terms either of their membership or of their duties and skills. Responding to both the pastoral needs and the political necessities of an industrialising, reforming nation, the Church reformed itself and greatly expanded its men and materiel. More clergy and clergy of higher calibre were ordained. At mid-century they compared well in education, zeal and...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorHaig, Alan Graham Leigh
dc.date.accessioned2013-10-29T23:47:06Z
dc.date.available2013-10-29T23:47:06Z
dc.identifier.otherb12462019
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/10666
dc.description.abstractThe clergy in 1800 were by tradition part of the 'professional' world; but the professions were not large, nor were they clearly defined in terms either of their membership or of their duties and skills. Responding to both the pastoral needs and the political necessities of an industrialising, reforming nation, the Church reformed itself and greatly expanded its men and materiel. More clergy and clergy of higher calibre were ordained. At mid-century they compared well in education, zeal and rewards with the other growing and reforming professions. Various factors were to weaken this position. The need for clergy ran ahead of the capacity of the traditional source of supply, the universities, to provide them. The clergy had always tended to be recruited from the poorer university men; now many were from modest backgrounds but without the advantage of a degree. This was at a time when educational background was more and more emphasised and when connections with the old but reforming institutions of university and public school were increasingly prized. The clergy's position within the universities, particularly, was anyway less assured after 1860: there were currents of thought and opinion hostile or indifferent to religion, while at the same time more churchmen questioned the sufficiency of the university course as a training for the Church. The interests, in both senses, of the universities and of the clergy were diverging. There was, nevertheless, considerable concern in the Church at the weakening of the tie to the universities. But there was no concerted response, if only because the Church possessed no means of making such a response. Theological colleges were set up and run almost as private institutions - or at the most, episcopal ones. They were needed, yet they were resented by many clergy and church people. Gradually there developed a feeling of corporate responsibility to them; at the same time - the last quarter of the century - ordination procedures and requirements moved closer to standardisation. But even in the early 20th century there was far to go. If entry requirements seemed to be approximating slowly to the standards of other professions, in their ordained lives the clergy were ever less like other professionals. The fact that, like them, their work was more specialised than before, was outweighed by the exceptional nature of the work itself, at a time when other professions largely rested their social acceptance upon their practical utility and disinterested services. And the careers of the clergy were even more clearly anomalous. The parochial system - with its concomitants of inflexibility, widely dispersed patronage, and an arbitrarily distributed and inadequate endowment income - was incapable of providing a satisfactory 'career structure' for most clergy. The apparent stability of the Church's agricultural income, and the widespread possession of private means by the clergy, delayed full recognition of the problems. By 1900 these factors were ceasing to apply. And though the town parishes were able to benefit from increased voluntary lay contributions, it was to prove immensely difficult to change the habits and assumptions ingrained by centuries of reliance upon an independent clerical endowment. Before about 1860 the Church recruited more men than the universities could provide. Thereafter it found that a massive growth in the traditional educating institutions of the clergy was accompanied by at best a slow, and certainly a disproportionately small, growth in the number of ordinands. Doctrinal unsettlement doubtless contributed to this fact; especially as the level of religious commitment required for ordination had risen. It was also important that young men had less contact with the clergy in their school and university lives. The practical and financial problems may, however, have been the most important of all; churchmen thought that such matters weighed particularly with parents, who usually had considerable influence on the careers of their sons. For the Church already presented an unhappy compromise: it would not renounce the social and intellectual standards of the professions, but it patently did not provide, for most of its clergy, the ways and means to maintain them.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.titleThe Church of England as a profession in Victorian England
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorMacDonagh, Oliver
dcterms.valid1981
local.description.notesSupervisor: Professor Oliver MacDonagh. This thesis has been made available through exception 200AB to the Copyright Act.
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued1980
local.contributor.affiliationResearch School of Social Sciences
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d778863e864a
local.identifier.proquestYes
local.mintdoimint
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