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Saturday, 19 December 2015

William Laud

William Laud was born at Reading, Berkshire on October 7, 1573, the only son of William Laud, a clothier, and Lucy, née Webbe.

In 1589 Laud went to St John's College, Oxford graduating B.A. in 1594, M.A. in 1598, and D.D. in 1608. Laud was ordained deacon in early January 1601, and priest on April 5th in the same year.

The personal rule of King Charles I began in 1629 and Laud quickly became a key part of it as his High Church views fitted in well with the monarch's beliefs. He was installed as the Archbishop of Canterbury four years later at the age of 60.

The support Charles I gave to the unpopular Anglo Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury was the cause of much unrest. William Laud insisted on worship being according rigidly to the Book of Common Prayer. He also reintroduced stained glass windows, crucifixes and other Catholic paraphernalia.

The authoritarian Laud ruthlessly suppressed his opponents, and as a result many Puritans left for the Netherlands or America and King Charles was suspected of popish tendencies.

In 1637 William Laud's attempt to force the English Prayer Book, on Presbyterian Scotland caused the Scottish populace to rise up in fury. The riots started on Sunday, July 23, 1637 when Jenny Geddes, a vegetable-seller and a member of the congregation of St Giles' Church, Edinburgh, threw her wooden stool at the preacher, Bishop Lindsay, when Laud's prayer book was introduced at a service.

Riot against use of prescribed prayer book

The Bishop of Brechin was the only one who dared to use the new Prayer Book in the Kirk and he did so with loaded pistols pointed at his congregation.

The Long Parliament of 1640 accused Laud of treason and the Archbishop was imprisoned in the Tower of London, where he remained throughout the early stages of the English Civil War.

Parliament showed little anxiety to proceed against Laud; given his age, but eventually, in the spring of 1644 he was brought to trial. The hearing ended without a verdict: as it proved impossible to point to any specific action which could be seen as treasonable. Parliament took up the issue and eventually Laud was beheaded on January 10, 1645 on Tower Hill, London.

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