As Jonathan Clark has shown, the 1832 Reform Act was a hurried and unplanned consequence of Catholic emancipation. If the repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in 1828 initiated the breach of the alliance between Church and State, the divisions over the Reform Act of 1832 were evidence of the breach. As many as 250,000 dissenters were expected to obtain the right to vote as a result of parliamentary reform, and this represented a massive erosion of the Establishment of the Church. The Church’s particular difficulty was that the leading churchmen ranged themselves on the side of the Tory Ultras, against reform. In doing so the Church had miscalculated the mood of the people; most people felt that reform was necessary, and were prepared to break with the Church to achieve it. At Cricklade, for example, the election occasioned by the failure of the first Reform Bill saw an unprecedented alliance of High Church and evangelical clergy oppose the reform candidate. But the electors defied the clergy and voted him in.
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- The Church and the Reforms of the 1830s
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