Feathers Tavern Association
Feathers' Tavern Association a society of Englishmen, clergymen and laymen, formed to secure a reformation of the English liturgy in the latter part of the 18th century. The name is derived from the "Feathers' Tavern," in London, where their meetings were held. The number of clergymen in the body was nearly 300. Gilbert Wakefield (q.v.) was a leading spirit in the association. "They signed a petition requesting the excision of the damnatory clauses in the Athanasiaum Creed, and the relief of their consciences in the matter of subscription; and with this, no doubt, many of them would have been satisfied. But the laity went much further. In the war of pamphlets which this affair created, some of them spoke of the Reformation, the doctrine of the Trinity, and the Thirty-nine Articles with ridicule. 'When the matter was debated in the House of Commons, the doctrines of the Church of England were treated with contempt. 'I would gladly exchange all the Thirty-nine Articles,' said one of the speakers, 'for a fortieth, of which the subject should be the peace of the Church.' The doctrine of the Trinity was denounced by one of the writers of the association as ' an imposition-a deception of a much later date than Athanasius-a deception, too, on which an article of faith is rested.' The whole system of Christian doctrine, as taught by the Church of England, was assailed. The same writer affirms, with a degree of effrontery that might well rouse the indignation of the clergy, 'that certain parts in the public service and doctrine of the Church are acknowledged by every clergyman of learning and candor to be unscriptural and unfounded; no man of sense and learning can maintain them' (Hints submitted to; the Association, etc., etc., by a Layman, 1789). Bishop Horsley answered with force, but with the unbecoming asperity which defaces all his controversial writings." The society was not long- lived, and, for many years after, any voice raised in the Church of England in favor of liturgical revision was silenced by 'the mention of "the Feathers' Tavern."-Marsdeen, Churches and Sects, i, 314; Baxter, Church History of England (London, 1849), p. 668.