The name given to the bishops and clergymen of the Anglican church, who in 1689 refused to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary and their successors under the Protestant Succession Act of that year.
They considered William and Mary in the light of regents, rather than sovereigns, since they felt that their oaths of office had bound them to the Stuart family.
They were suspended and later deprived of their offices.
After the death of James II, some of them rejoined the Anglican Church, while others held out until the death of Charles Edward in 1788.
They were conscientious men who suffered much for their Convictions.
The name is also applied to the Catholic clergy of France, who refused to take the oath of the Civil Constitutions of the clergy in 1790.
They constituted the vast number of the clerical body of France.
They paid for their loyalty to the unity of the Church and to the Holy See by having to endure bitter persecution.
New Catholic Dictionary