This is a study of the organized anti-Catholic movement in nineteenth-century Britain. The passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 was in some respects a triumph for religious toleration, but it was followed by a substantial Protestant backlash. This was further stimulated by the theological and evangelistic concerns of evangelicals, the growth of Catholicism in Britain, and the political actions of Irish and British Tories. In this
meticulously researched book, John Wolffe examines the anti-Catholic societies which played an important part in the shaping of public opinion, and which exercised significant leverage on politics, notably in 1834-5 and between 1845 and 1855. He explores the cultural and social dimensions of
anti-Catholicism, relating them to the values and impact of evangelicalism at a variety of social levels. The Protestant Crusade in Great Britain makes an important contribution to our understanding of Victorian religion, particularly in respect of the interaction between England, Ireland, and Scotland. Dr Wolffe demonstrates that, while the Protestant crusade failed in terms of most of its specific objectives, its impact on the life of the nation was
`One of the most telling features of the book is its scrupulous examination of the place of militant Protestantism within the Conservative Party. ... this is a work of impeccable scholarship. Its blending of evidence from private papers and obscure magazines is exemplary. It explores the implications of its subject for the arguments of other historians. And it shows how intricately religion and politics were woven together in Victorian society.'
D. W. Bebbington, The Higher
`This welcome addition to the series of Oxford Historical Monographs fills a gap in research ... This study has some timely lessons for today.
Church of England Newspaper
'in every way an admirable study The Protestant Crusade is an essential text for the ecclesiastical history of the early and mid-nineteenth century'
Arthur Pollard, Churchman
`an outstanding contribution to the history of the English religious scene in the first half of the Victorian Era'
'Dr Wolffe is able to demonstrate very effectively just how Victorian political Protestantism was both a widespread and consciously directed pursuit ... Dr Wolffe has made a significant contribution to nineteenth-century social and intellectual, as well as ecclesiastical and religious, history.'
S.J.D. Green, University of Leeds, History, October 1992
`thoroughly researched and soberly argued book.'
S.J.D. Green, History
`careful and illuminating monograph, which is a welcome reworking of his 1984 D.Phil. thesis ... authoritative ... For readers of this journal there is also much to absorb. Dr Wolffe has a knack of simplifying without over-simplifying political complexities, and his arguments are always lucid and often compelling ... it is an admirable book, and successfully fills what was once a serious gap in the historiography'
'John Wolffe's thoroughly researched book is the first comprehensive account of why anti-Catholicism was a major political question in Britain. Wolffe's book provides the definitive history of the major anti-Catholic societies, their activities, and their impact on national party politics. A polished work that improves on an excellent D.Phil. thesis, it is the definitive account of anti-Catholicism as a political question. It must be read by those
interested in extraparliamentary pressure groups, in the history of the Victorian Conservative Party, and in the political aspects of religion.'
D.G. Paz, Clemson University, Albion, Spring 1993, Vol. 25, No.1
'The growing number of such studies is capped by Wolffe's scholarly and massively researched book, at once detailed and broad-visioned. Wolffe's comparative study of the American movement adds a further merit to this fine study.'
Josef L. Altholz, University of Minnesota, American Historical Review, April 1993
'Dr Wolffe's case is well researched and well argued.'
David M. Thompson, Journal of Theological Studies, Vol. 45, Pt 2, Oct '94
'... a major contribution to English church history and important additions to the list of a publisher which, more that any other, has produced a steady stream of authoritative publications in this field over the past twenty years or so. ... an impressive piece of scholarship based on a most exhaustive examination of primary sources in nearly eighty different record repositories. ... much more wide-ranging that the title might imply, ... a much needed
contribution to a major topic and therefore particularly wecome. This is an important and meticulously reaserched book, much enriched by a comprehensive and extensive guide to further reading.'
Nigel Yates. Southern History Vol 15, '93
`an important contribution to nineteenth century historical understanding...his book is important.'
The English Historical Review
`a very able study of nineteenth-century anti-Roman Catholicism and of the anti-Catholic societies successively created to resist the advance of the Scarlet Woman ... Dr Wolffe's carefully crafted history of their membership, leading personalities, character and activities is based on a mass of primary archival research into their records and private papers.'
Sheridan Gilley, University of Durham, Irish Historical Studies, Vol. XXIX, No. 116, November 1995