Simon Lewis, Jacobite Studies Trust Fellow

Lay Jacobitism and Theological Controversy in Britain, c.1689-c.1750

Simon Lewis recently completed his DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford. His doctoral project reintegrated eighteenth-century anti-Methodist literature into the wider theological and intellectual controversies of the age. The polemical attacks on such evangelicals as John Wesley and George Whitefield often interacted with and were informed by numerous theological controversies, including attacks on Deism, and debates on miracles and the afterlife. Furthermore, anti-Methodism was sometimes used as a forum for heterodox authors to voice ideas which were disagreeable to both evangelicals and High Churchmen, suggesting that – on various points of theology – Methodists differed little from their ‘orthodox’ Anglican opponents. Such conclusions, in turn, challenge the traditional stereotype that the eighteenth-century Church of England had largely given way to theological laxity.

As Jacobite Studies Trust Junior Fellow at the IHR, Simon will embark on a postdoctoral project, which will explore the role of lay Jacobites as theological controversialists in Britain between the ascension of William III and the period immediately after the 1745 rebellion. This project will focus on various themes, including the polemical engagement of artisanal Non-Jurors, and the religious ideas of such Tory-Jacobite women as Elinor James, Anne Finch and Susanna Hopton. By exploring the way in which lay Nonjurors interacted with conforming Anglicans in theological controversies, this research will enhance our understanding of Jacobitism’s influence within the social, religious and political mainstream.