During the reign of James I, the Presbyterian majority unsuccessfully attempted to impose their ideas on the established English church at the Hampton Court Conference (1604). The result was mutual disaffection and a persecution of the Puritans, particularly by Archbishop William Laud, that brought about Puritan migration to Europe and America (see Mayflower). Those groups that remained in England grew as a political party and rose to their greatest power between 1640 and 1660 as a result of the English civil war; during that period the Independents gained dominance. The great Puritan apologist of this period was John Milton. During the Restoration the Puritans were oppressed under the Clarendon Code (1661–65), which secured the episcopal character of the Established Church and, in effect, cast the Puritans out of the Church of England. From this time they were known as nonconformists.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.