The Peel Web

I am happy that you are using this web site and hope that you found it useful. Unfortunately, the cost of making this material freely available is increasing, so if you have found the site useful and would like to contribute towards its continuation, I would greatly appreciate it. Click the button to go to Paypal and make a donation.


The Religious Background to Factory Reform

Evangelical Anglicanism was as strong in the campaign for factory reform as it was in the campaign for the abolition of slavery. In the Eighteenth Century the Church of England (the Anglican Church) had become very lax, complacent and conservative. It was an integral part of the Establishment. Both Church and parliament were dominated by the same socio-economic class: the landed gentry and aristocracy. Defence of the status quo was prevalent and the ruling classes did not contemplate reform in any shape or form. Religion was comfortable and respectable. The Anglican Church ministered to the gentry in a form of what might be called 'snob Christianity'. Most people's interest in religion was generally academic and pragmatic. 'Enthusiasm' was considered to be dangerous - a left-over from the English Civil War (1642-9) and the Wars of Religion in Europe in the Seventeenth Century.

Methodism was regarded by Anglicans as 'ecclesiastical Jacobinism'. Methodism had come into existence thanks to the work of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitfield in the 1730s and 1740s. The movement split from the Church of England only in 1795. Methodism made religion democratic and it appealed to the poor and to workers in the industrial areas. The Methodists took religion to the people in the form of open-air meetings. As the Methodist movement grew, to the Church of England realised that its membership was in danger.

After the French Wars (1792-1815) the Anglican Church realised that it had to become more democratic in order to maintain its position (as did the State). This revival movement is known as the Evangelical movement: the aristocracy tried to justify their social and religious privilege through 'good works' and missionary zeal. This is particularly clear in the case of Richard Oastler and the Earl of Shaftesbury.

see the Glossary for explanations of various theological terms.


Meet the web creator

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Last modified 4 March, 2016

The Age of George III Home Page

Ministerial Instability 1760-70

Lord North's Ministry 1770-82

American Affairs 1760-83

The period of peace 1783-92

The Age of the French Wars 1792-1815 Irish Affairs 1760-89

Peel Web Home Page

Tory Governments 1812-30

Political Organisations in the Age of Peel

Economic Affairs in the Age of Peel

Popular Movements in the Age of Peel

Irish Affairs
1789-1850
 
Primary sources index British Political Personalities British Foreign policy 1815-65 European history
index sitemap advanced
search engine by freefind