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Presbyterian and United Reformed Church

Presbyterianism in England has its origins in the 16th century and the ideas of Thomas Cartwright, a Puritan academic. Cartwright advocated a national church in which there were no bishops and in which clergy were elected by congregations. These radical views resulted in the persecution of Presbyterians and other extreme Protestants in the late 16th century. However, with the accession to the throne of James I in 1603, English Presbyterianism experienced a gradual revival because of closer links with the Scottish Presbyterian church.

Presbyterianism enjoyed its greatest influence in the 1640s. However, after the Restoration a large number of clergy, many of them adherents of Presbyterianism, were ejected from their livings in the Church of England for their refusal to accept the Act of Uniformity (1662). The late 17th century saw Presbyterians and Congregationalists moving closer together but new problems lay ahead. In the early part of the 18th century English Presbyterianism was severely weakened by the rise of Unitarianism and many Presbyterian churches became Unitarian.

Presbyterianism in England was transformed in the 19th century by the missionary influence of Scottish Presbyterians. This culminated in 1876 in the uniting of the English congregations of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland and the English Presbyterians to form the Presbyterian Church of England. In October 1972 the Presbyterian Church of England joined together with the Congregational Church in England and Wales to form the United Reformed Church in England and Wales.

Click on a link below to browse the catalogue for records for a particular church.  You will also be able to see at which Archive Centre the original records are preserved. If detailed online catalogues are not yet available online you are then asked to contact the Archive Centre directly. Microform copies of many church registers are available and, for conservation reasons, must be consulted in place of the originals. Please note these links do NOT provide images of original records and registers.