Apart from the Evangelical revival, religion was advanced in the church. In 1811 the education of the poor was provided for on church principles by the National Society; the Church Building Society was founded in 1818; and the colonial episcopate was started by the establishment of bishoprics in Calcutta in 1814, and in Jamaica and Barbados in 1824. Yet reforms were urgently needed. In 1813, out of about 10,800 benefices, 6,311 are said to have been without resident incumbents (The Black Book, p. 34); the value of some great offices was enormous, while many of the parochial clergy were wretchedly poor.
The repeal of the Test Act, long practically inoperative, in 1828, and Catholic emancipation in 1829, mark a change in the relations of church and state; and the Reform Bill of 1832 transferred political power from a class which generally supported the church to classes in which dissent was strong. The national zeal for reform was directed towards the church, not always in a friendly spirit. Yet wholesome changes were effected by legislation: dioceses were rearranged and two new bishoprics founded at Manchester and Ripon, the bishopric of Bristol, however, being suppressed; plurality and non-residence were abolished; tithes were commuted, and the Ecclesiastical Commission, which has effected reforms in respect of endowments, was permanently established in 1836. Some changes and proposals alarmed churchmen, specially as legislation for the church proceeded from parliament, while convocation remained silenced.
Latitudinarian opinions revived, and the church was regarded merely as a human institution. Among the clergy generally ritual observance was neglected and rubrical directions disobeyed. A few churchmen, including Keble and Newman, set themselves to revive church feeling, and Oxford became the centre of a new movement. The publication of Keble's Christian Year prepared its way, and its aims were declared in his assize sermon at Oxford on National Apostasy in 1833. Its promoters urged their views in Tracts for the Times, and were strengthened by the adhesion of Pusey. Hence they were nicknamed Tractarians or Puseyites.
Their cardinal doctrine was that the Church of England was a part of the visible Holy Catholic Church and had unbroken connection with the primitive church; they inculcated high views of the sacraments, and emphasized points of agreement with those branches of the Catholic Church which claim apostolic succession. Their party grew in spite of the opposition of low and broad churchmen, who, specially on the publication of Tract XC. by Newman in 1841, declared that its teaching was Romanizing. In 1845 Newman and several others seceded to Rome. Newman's apostasy was a severe blow to the church, though permanent injury was averted by the steadfastness of Pusey. The Oxford movement was wrecked, but its effect survived both in the new high church party and in the church at large. As a body the clergy rated more highly the responsibilities and dignity of their profession, and became more zealous in the performance of its duties and more ecclesiastically minded. High churchmen carried out rubrical directions, and after a while began to introduce changes into the performance of divine service which had not been adopted by the early leaders of the party, were deprecated by many bishops, and excited opposition.
This text forms part of the History of the Church of England originally part of the entry ENGLAND, CHURCH OF from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the content of which lies within the public domain.