6. Civil War and Restoration

Parliament replaced the traditional system of  county government with a series of committees.

Parliament replaced the traditional system of county government with a series of committees.

During the Civil Wars, the gentry of Surrey were largely committed to the Parliaments cause. It is not clear how far normal administration continued. Surrey was governed by committees set up by Parliament, whose members were not necessarily drawn from the same social classes as the magistrates. An Act of Parliament in 1652 made civil marriages compulsory, and no religious ceremony was permitted. Once more it was the magistrates who had to carry out this additional duty, though only until its abolition at the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

Magistrates could authorise collections to  defray losses caused by fires.  From The British Museum Collection  (Ref: AN961069001).

Magistrates could authorise collections to defray losses caused by fires.
From The British Museum Collection
(Ref: AN961069001).

The Restoration saw the Justices of the Peace (JPs) involved once more in the religious disputes of the times. Unauthorised gatherings for worship were banned in 1664. The magistrates themselves did not escape the effects of religious discrimination: under James II in 1686 many Protestant JPs were dismissed to be replaced by Roman Catholics.

Under Cromwell, Surrey JPs were required to  conduct civil marriages.

Under Cromwell, Surrey JPs were required to conduct civil marriages.

Magistrates were also responsible for authorising ‘briefs’. These were licences to hold a collection at parish churches to recompense those who had lost goods or money in a fire or other disaster.

Read more about 17th century Surrey.

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