Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Hay, William Anthony

Committee Member

Marcus, Alan I

Committee Member

Messer, Peter C.

Committee Member

Damms, Richard

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of History


This dissertation examines how leaders in the Church of England sought to reorganize the colonial church at critical moments, in the late 1740s, the early 1760s and the mid 1770s, by installing one or two resident bishops when the British government moved to bring the colonies into closer economic and political alignment with England. Examining Anglican attempts to bring bishops to the American colonies within the context of the Anglo-American world moves beyond the current literature and provides insight into the difficulties British political and ecclesiastical authorities had managing the colonies more efficiently. Even though the Church of England sustained wide influence over the population, the failure of the Anglicans’ proposal to install bishops into the colonies was symptomatic of the declining influence of the Church on politics in the eighteenth century. Differing views over political and ecclesiastical authority between the colonists and the Anglicans, and the possibility religious conflict might have on elections, concerned British authorities enough to reject Anglicans’ proposals for resident bishops for the colonies. The failure also highlights how the British government in the eighteenth century increasingly focused on the political and economic administration of the expanded more diverse British Empire than it did on religious administration.