nonjurors [Lat., = not swearing], those English and Scottish clergymen who refused to break their oath of allegiance to James II and take the oath to William III after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. They upheld the principles of hereditary succession and the divine right of kings, and their refusal to recognize William as king led to their removal from office. In England, the original nonjurors included William Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, some bishops, and about 400 other members of the clergy; their ranks were later augmented by those who refused (1714) to take the oath of allegiance to George I. In Scotland, most of the Episcopal clergy became nonjurors when their church was disestablished (1690) in favor of Presbyterianism. Many nonjurors were active in the rising of the Jacobites in 1715, despite their doctrine of nonresistance to established authority. Later their numbers dwindled, however, and their attention turned to theology. Their high standard of thought was notable and influential in its day. The Bangorian Controversy, in which nonjuror William Law was prominent, precipitated the prorogation of the convocation of the Church of England in 1717. The exiled Stuart pretenders continued to appoint nonjuring bishops, including Jeremy Collier, preserving the nonjuring episcopal succession until 1805.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.