The Clarendon Code was a series of legal measures passed during the immediate period of the Restoration and which sought to re-establish the supremacy of the Church of England and to drive out the Puritan faction in the Church. It effectively brought to end the toleration for dissenting Protestant faiths that had existed during the period of the Commonwealth and ended any possibility of compromise between the Presbyterian and Congregational principles enunciated by these dissenters and the traditionalists within the Church.
The Code was named after Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon who was Charles II's Lord Chancellor responsible for the passing and enforcement of the legislation and comprised the following four Acts;
This series of brutal and penal measures was designed to restrict if not eliminate the activity of the dissenters. They were excluded from public office, excluded from the Church of England, prevented from meeting for worship, their ministers excluded from the principal towns of the realm.
It should be remembered, of course, that it was these very people who had been the backbone of the Commonwealth and the supporters of the republic, the
object was as much political as it was religious; Charles II wished to protect the newly restored monarchy, he had no desire to end up on the executioner's block like his father.
The seventeenth century British state did not quite have the necessary apparatus to entirely eliminate dissent; the effect of the Code was to polarise religious life in Britain (or at least in England and Wales) between those who complied with the legislation and those who refused to conform, and therefore became known as Nonconformists.