Laud, William

(Oct. 6, 1573-Jan. 10, 1645). Archbishop of Canterbury and the chief theological advisor of kings Charles I and Charles II of England. Laud was born in Reading, England. He studied at St. John's College, Oxford University. In his dissertation he stressed the divine right of episcopacy. He was ordained deacon and priest in 1601. In 1611 he became president of St. John's College and in that position was a leading opponent of Calvinism. Laud became dean of Gloucester in 1616. On Nov. 18, 1621, he was consecrated Bishop of St. David's in Wales. On Sept. 18, 1626, he became Bishop of Bath and Wells, and on July 15, 1628, he became Bishop of London. He was named Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. Laud was a practical reformer. He enforced the canons of the church and restored the dignity of public worship. Laud encouraged the use of the surplice, kneeling to receive Holy Communion, bowing at the name of Jesus, placing the altar at the east end of the church, railed altars, and making the sign of the cross. He became one of the most unpopular statesmen of his day. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to enforce liturgical reform in Scotland. His attempts to tighten church organization and impose uniformity of ritual made him the object of intense popular hatred. His policies toward religious dissidents in England and Scotland was a major cause of the outbreak of the English Civil War. He was accused and found guilty of treason by the House of Commons and beheaded on Tower Hill. Laud is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on Jan. 10.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.