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Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion

In 1779 the Consistory Court in London disallowed the Countess of Huntingdon's claim that as a peeress she had the right to appoint as many chaplains as she chose and to employ them in public ministry. She responded by registering the 67 proprietary chapels she had built as dissenting places of worship under the Toleration Act and they became part of her 'Connexion' in 1781. A 'General Association', similar to that of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, formed in 1790 and divided into 23 Districts with an annual Conference, met with little approval, resulting in the bequest of her chapels to four trustees, including Thomas Haweis and his wife. The Anglican liturgy was used in services, and from 1849 fraternal links were established with the newly formed Free Church of England, whose Constitution framed in 1863 was based on the abortive Huntingdon one of 1790, although no formal union took place. In the Religious Census of 1851 the Connexion was reported as having 98 chapels and 11 other places of worship; but an increasing tendency to Congregationalism over the years and the inevitable closures had reduced the number of churches by 1999 to 23, with 20 ministers and a reported membership of c 1,000. The Connexion has recently developed closer ties with the IM and WRU Churches. It has an overseas branch in Sierra Leone, where freed slaves from Nova Scotia were evangelized by John Marrant, one of George Whitefield's converts.

Sources

  • Gilbert W. Kirby, The Elect Lady (1972)
  • Alan Harding, The Countess of Huntingdon and her Connexion in the 18th Century (Oxford, 1992)
  • Alan Harding, The Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion: a sect in action in eighteenth century England (Oxford, 2003)

Entry written by: PWG
Category: Denomination

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