Sancroft, William

Sancroft, William săngˈkrôft [key], 1617–93, English prelate, archbishop of Canterbury. His opposition to Calvinist doctrine caused him to remain abroad during the latter part of the Commonwealth. After the Restoration, he returned to England in 1660 and advanced through various ecclesiastical offices to become (1678) archbishop of Canterbury. Earlier, as dean of St. Paul's, London, he directed the building of the famous cathedral designed by Sir Christopher Wren. He crowned James II at his accession, but refused to serve on the newly reconstituted court of high commission. In 1687, with six of his bishops, he signed a petition asking that the declaration of indulgence, which suspended the penal laws directed against non-Anglicans, be withdrawn, on grounds that it represented an illegal use of the royal dispensing power. The imprisonment, trial, and acquittal of the seven bishops greatly heightened religious tension prior to the deposition of James. Sancroft refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary. He was suspended (1689) and deprived (1690) of his office, and in his retirement became leader of the nonjurors.

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