On 27 March we were joined by Prof Peter Foley of University of Arizona to kick off our Second Annual Lecture Series at St Pancras Old Church. He has given us some of the key elements of the exciting life of Jeremy Collier, who was buried in our churchyard, below.
- Jeremy Collier stood by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leaders of the Church of England when William of Orange invaded and consequently the Archbishop of Canterbury, a third of the bishops and 400 other clergy were deprived of their livings by the civil authorities in 1691. They were known as Non-Jurors for refusing to swear oaths of allegiance to William of Orange and Mary Stuart.
- Collier worked as a historian and moralist writing widely received tracts attacking what he saw as the debauchery of the London stage as it had developed since the Restoration of Charles II.
- On the run and in hiding for most of his life he nonetheless became a leader of the church that claimed to be the true, “Faithful Remnant Church of England” that awaited the return of the King by Divine Right from his exile on the Continent.
- During the rule of Queen Anne there was an attempt at compromise, and he and his fellow churchmen were entreated by the Royal Court to rejoin the regnant church.
- In the subsequent reign a commercially and publicly successful satire directed at Jeremy Collier and his Church was staged at the Theater Royal in front of King George and the Prince, in which Collier was accused of Roman Catholicism and political subversion.
- Collier responded to the accusation by fostering the production of a remarkable historically grounded liturgy that has gone on to influence Anglican liturgies to this day.
- Collier was also the first to seek rapprochement with the eastern orthodox churches out of a sense for the universal validity of episcopal ordinations; a theological path that was subsequently pursued by the Church of England.
- The Vicar of St. Pancras at the time of the death of Jeremey Collier was Edward De Chair who also held the archaic but official title of “Senior Cardinal” in the Church of England. The connection with Edward De Chair is redolent of the general sympathy towards Collier’s church that follows an explicit path into the Anglo-Catholicism of the Oxford Movement of John Keble and John Mason Neale.