Millenary Petition

The Millenary Petition was a list of requests given to James I by Puritans in 1603 when he was travelling to London in order to claim the English throne. It is claimed, but not proven, that this petition had 1,000 signatures of Puritan ministers. This carefully worded document expressed Puritan distaste regarding the state of the Anglican Church, and took into consideration James' religious views as well as his liking for a debate, as written in Basilikon Doron. In a time where it was unfavourable to criticise the King directly, there was no hint of dissatisfaction with the royal supremacy in the petition, and the Puritan reformers stressed that they were not separatists or schismatics throughout.

The general Puritan feeling was that, despite Elizabeth's best efforts and the introduction of the new Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican church still remained too popish/ catholic. There were, however, different types of puritan reformers. On one hand, there were the moderate reformers, and on the other, there were the extremist revolutionary reformers, who had hoped for deep, structural changes within the Anglican church. While many of the main Puritan goals were rebutted, the petition did culminate in the Hampton Court Conference, which eventually led James to produce an English version of the bible, now known as the King James Version. Interestingly, none of the original petition has been found to exist.

The Demands

The Puritans rejected the following popish ceremonies :

  • The signing of the cross during baptism
  • Confirmation
  • The administration of baptism by women
  • Use of the ring in marriage
  • Bowing at the name of Jesus
  • Dress of the ministers
  • Priests living in the church

They also disliked perceived popish terms such as Priest and Absolution, and rejected popish garments the clergy were obliged to wear at service. They wanted better observance of the Sabbath, which was originally supported by James up until The Book of Sports. They wanted to end Pluralism, and claimed that ministers should only be both "able and sufficient men".

The Puritans also requested some changes to ecclesiastical discipline. First, they asked, in a rather ambiguous statement, that punishment only be enforced by Christ's own institution. Second, they claimed excommunication should not be imposed by lay officials. Third, they asked that men should not be excommunicated for "trifles and twelvepenny matters". Finally, they asked for better restraint in the use of ex officio oath.

Sources and further reading

  • Roger Lockyer, Tudor and Stuart Britain: 1485-1714, 2004. ISBN 0-582-77188-9.

See also

External links


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