Politeness, hypocrisy, and Protestant Dissent in England after the Toleration Act, c. 1689 - c. 1750

16 Feb 2018

The concept of politeness has been central to studies of eighteenth-century England; less attention has been given to its impact on religious coexistence. This article argues that, while politeness has typically been associated with rejection of the religious divisions of the previous century, it could also be used to perpetuate them. Focusing on the position of Protestant Dissenters in relation to wider society after the Toleration Act of 1689, it argues that cultures of politeness complicated, rather than eased, their social integration. Furthermore, it highlights the centrality of religious questions to social and cultural change in eighteenth-century England.