Tracts for the Times

Tracts for the Times

The Tracts for the Times were a series of 90 theological publications, varying in length from a few pages to book-length, produced by members of the English Oxford Movement, an Anglo-Catholic revival group, from 1833 to 1841. There were about a dozen authors, including Oxford Movement leaders John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey, with Newman taking the initiative in the series, and making the largest contribution. With the wide distribution associated with the tract form, and a price in pennies, the Tracts succeeded in drawing attention to the views of the Oxford Movement on points of doctrine, but also to its overall approach, to the extent that Tractarian became a synonym for supporter of the movement.



Many of the tracts were labelled, indicating their intended audience: Ad Clerum (to the clergy), Ad Populum (to the people), or Ad Scholas (to scholars). The first 20 tracts appeared in 1833, with 30 more in 1834. After that the pace slowed, but the later contributions were more substantive on doctrinal matters. Initially these publications were anonymous, pseudonymous, or reprints from theologians of previous centuries. The authorship details of the tracts were recovered by later scholars of the Oxford Movement, with some tentative accounts of drafting. Through Francis Rivington, the tracts were published by the Rivingtons house in London.[1]


The Tracts also provoked a secondary literature from opponents. Significant replies from the evangelicals were those of William Goode in Tract XC Historically Refuted (1845) and Isaac Taylor.[2]

The series was brought to an end by the intervention of Richard Bagot, Bishop of Oxford, not unsympathetic to the Tractarians,[3] after the appearance of Newman's Tract 90, which suggested a heterodox reading of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, and caused controversy in the University.


William Palmer in 1843 published A Narrative of Events Connected with the Publication of the Tracts for the Times, dedicated to Bagot.[4] In the Preface he is concerned with arguing against the point of view that the Tracts were an attempt to introduce Roman Catholic beliefs; to place the Tracts in the context set up by the 1833 formation of the Association of Friends of the Church (set up by Hugh James Rose, Hurrell Froude and Palmer himself) that was the initial step in the Oxford Movement; and to distance his views from the editorial line of the British Critic. This work then provoked a major statement of his position by William George Ward.[5]

Table of the Tracts

Number Date Title Author Comment
1 9 September 1833[6] Thoughts on the Ministerial Commission, respectfully addressed to the clergy[7] John Henry Newman
2 9 September 1833 The Catholic Church Newman
3 9 September 1833 Thoughts respectfully addressed to the Clergy on alterations in the Liturgy. The Burial Service. The Principle of Unity.[8] Newman
4 21 September 1833 Adherence to the Apostolical Succession the safest course. On Alterations in the Prayer-book.[9] John Keble
5 18 October 1833 A short address to his Brethren on the Nature and Constitution of the Church of Christ, and of the Branch of it established in England. By a Layman. John William Bowden
6 29 October 1833 The Present Obligation of Primitive Practice. A Sin of the Church.[10] Newman Ad Populum
7 29 October 1833 The Episcopal Church Apostolical[11] Newman
8 31 October 1833 The Gospel a Law of Liberty[12] Attributed to Newman. Possibly Hurrell Froude (ODNB)
9 31 October 1833 On Shortening the Church Service Hurrell Froude
10 4 November 1833 Heads of a Week-day lecture, delivered to a country congregation in -------shire. Newman
11 11 November 1833 The Visible Church Newman
12 4 December 1833 Richard Nelson. No. 1 Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. Thomas Keble "Richard Nelson" was a pseudonym.
13 5 December 1833 Sunday Lessons. The Principle of Selection. John Keble
14 12 December 1833 The Ember Days. Alfred Menzies Ad Populum. Menzies was a Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.[13] Graduating B.A. in 1832, he was ordained deacon and appointed Curate of Godalming in 1834, and ordained as priest in 1835.[14] He died in Torquay, aged 26, on 24 February 1836.[15]
15 13 December 1833 On the Apostolical Succession in the English Church. William Palmer, completed by Newman
16 17 December 1833 Advent. Benjamin Harrison (archdeacon)
17 20 December 1833 The Ministerial Commission, a Trust from Christ for the Benefit of His People. Benjamin Harrison (archdeacon)
18 21 December 1833 Thoughts on the Benefits of the System of Fasting Enjoined by Our Church. Edward Pusey
19 23 December 1833 On arguing concerning the Apostolical Succession. On Reluctance to confess the Apostolical Succession. Newman
20 24 December 1833 The Visible Church. Letter III. Newman Ad Scholas.
21 1 January 1834 Mortification of the Flesh a Scripture duty. Newman Ad Populum.
22 6 January 1834 Richard Nelson. No. II. The Athanasian Creed. Thomas Keble
23 6 January 1834 The Faith and Obedience of Churchmen, the Strength of the Church. Arthur Philip Perceval
24 25 January 1834 The Scripture View of the Apostolical Commission. Benjamin Harrison (archdeacon)
25 25 January 1834 The great Necessity and Advantage of Public Prayer. Reprint, extracted from William Beveridge's sermon. Ad Populum.
26 2 February 1834 The Necessity and Advantage of Frequent Communion. Reprint, extracted from William Beveridge's sermon.
27 24 February 1834 The History of Popish Transubstantiation. Reprint, by John Cosin.
28 25 March 1834 The same, concluded.
29 25 March 1834 Christian Liberty; Or, Why Should We Belong to the Church of England? By a Layman. John William Bowden
30 25 March 1834 The same continued. John William Bowden
31 25 April 1834 The Reformed Church. Newman Ad Clerum.
32 25 April 1834 On the Standing Ordinances of Religion Charles Page Eden (ODNB)
33 1 May 1834 Primitive Episcopacy. Newman Ad Scholas.
34 1 May 1834 Rites and Customs of the Church. Newman Ad Scholas.
35 8 May 1834 The People's Interest in Their Minister's Commission. Arthur Philip Perceval
36 11 June 1834 Account of Religious Sects at Present Existing in England. Arthur Philip Perceval
37 24 June 1834 Bishop Wilson's Form of Excommunication. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
38 25 June 1834 Via Media. No. I. Newman Ad Scholas. Later as a Catholic, in his 1845 Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (the Retractation of Anti-Catholic Statements), Newman recalled his language in this tract: In 1834 I also used, of certain doctrines of the Church of Rome, the epithets 'unscriptural,' 'profane,' 'impious,' 'bold,' 'unwarranted,' 'blasphemous,' 'gross,' 'monstrous,' 'cruel,' 'administering deceitful comfort,' and 'unauthorised,' in Tract 38. I do not mean to say that I had not a definite meaning in every one of those epithets, or that I did not weigh them before I used them.[16]
39 25 June 1834 Bishop Wilson's Form of Receiving Penitents. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
40 25 June 1834 Richard Nelson III. Baptism. John Keble
41 24 August 1834 Via Media. No. II. Newman Ad Scholas.
42 24 August 1834 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. I, Sunday. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
43 21 September 1834 Richard Nelson. No. IV. Length of the Public Service. Thomas Keble Ad Populum.
44 28 September 1834 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. II, Monday. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
45 18 October 1834 The Grounds of our Faith. Newman Ad Clerum.
46 28 October 1834 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. III, Tuesday. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
47 1 November 1834 The Visible Church. Letter IV. Newman Ad Clerum.
48 30 November 1834 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. IV, Wednesday. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
49 25 December 1834 The Kingdom of Heaven. Benjamin Harrison (archdeacon)
50 26 November 1834 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. IV, Wednesday (continued). Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum.
51 6 January 1835 On Dissent without Reason in Conscience. Robert F. Wilson
52 [Undated] Sermons for Saints' Days and Holidays. No. 1, St. Matthias. John Keble
53 24 February 1835 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. V, Thursday. Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum
54 2 February 1835 Sermons for Saints' Days and Holidays. No. 2, The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. John Keble
55 25 March 1835 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. V, Thursday (continued) Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum
56 25 March 1835 Holy Days observed in the English Church John William Bowden Ad Populum
57 25 March 1835 Sermons on Saints' Days. No. 3, St Mark's Day. John Keble Ad Populum
58 19 April 1835 On the Church as viewed by Faith and by the World. John William Bowden Ad Populum
59 25 April 1835 The position of the Church of Christ in England, relatively to the State and the Nation. Hurrell Froude Ad Clerum
60 25 March 1835 Sermons for Saints' Days and Holidays. No. 4. St. Philip and St. James. John Keble Ad Populum
61 1 May 1835 The Catholic Church a Witness against Illiberality. Antony Buller
62 1 May 1835 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. V, Thursday (continued) Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum
63 1 May 1835 The Antiquity of the existing Liturgies. Hurrell Froude Ad Clerum
64 11 June 1835 Bishop Bull on the Ancient Liturgies. Reprint, by George Bull Ad Populum
65 28 June 1835 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. VI, Friday (abridged). Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum. Later editions printed the work in full.
66 25 June 1835 Supplement to Tract XVIII; On the Benefits of the System of Fasting Prescribed by Our Church. Edward Pusey
67 24 August 1835 Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism. Edward Pusey Ad Clerum. "In these [67, 68, 69] Pusey maintained that regeneration is connected with baptism both in scripture and in the writings of the early church. A second edition of the first of the three tracts appeared in 1839; in it the argument was entirely confined to scripture, but was expanded from forty-nine to four hundred pages."[17]
68 29 September 1835 Scriptural views of Holy Baptism (continued). Edward Pusey Ad Clerum
69 18 October 1835 Scriptural Views of Holy Baptism (concluded). Edward Pusey Ad Clerum
70 28 October 1835 Bishop Wilson's Meditations on his Sacred Office. No. VII, Saturday (abridged). Reprint, by Thomas Wilson Ad Populum
71 1 January 1836 On the Controversy with the Romanists (No. I, Against Romanism). Newman Ad Clerum
72 6 January 1836 Archbishop Ussher on Prayers for the Dead (No. II, Against Romanism). Reprint, by James Ussher
73 2 February 1836 On the Introduction of Rationalistic Principles into Religion. Newman Ad Scholas
74 25 April 1836 Catena Patrum No. I. Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the Doctrine of the Apostolical Succession[18] Newman Ad Populum. "It contains extracts from the writings of forty-three English theologians, the first being Bilson who died in 1616, and the last Mant who died in 1848. In the entire list there are but four Archbishops of Canterbury (Bancroft, Laud, Wake and Potter). There are very many non-jurors, some very distinguished typical Anglicans and others of no great note or weight."[19] They were: Thomas Bilson; Richard Hooker; Richard Bancroft; Lancelot Andrewes; Joseph Hall; William Laud; John Bramhall; Joseph Mede; Francis Mason; Robert Sanderson; Henry Hammond; Jeremy Taylor; Peter Heylin; Richard Allestree; John Pearson; John Fell; George Bull; Edward Stillingfleet; Thomas Ken; William Beveridge; John Sharp; John Scott; William Wake; John Potter; Robert Nelson; John Kettlewell; George Hickes; William Law; John Johnson; Henry Dodwell; Jeremy Collier; Charles Leslie; Thomas Wilson; Joseph Bingham; Philip Skelton; Samuel Johnson; George Horne; William Jones; Samuel Horsley; Reginald Heber; John Jebb; William Van Mildert; Richard Mant.
75 24 June 1836 On the Roman Breviary as embodying the substance of the Devotional Services of the Church Catholic. Newman Ad Clerum. Draft by Hurrell Froude
76 1840[citation needed]; 29 September 1836[20] Catena Patrum No. II. Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration[21] Newman Ad Populum. John Jewell; Hooker; Andrewes; John Donne; Richard Field; Thomas Jackson; Laud; John Bramhall; Hammond; Taylor; Heylin; Allestrie; Isaac Barrow; Herbert Thorndike; Pearson; Bull; Thomas Comber; Ken; Simon Patrick; Beveridge; Sharp; Scott; Robert Jenkin; Thomas Sherlock; William Wall; Potter; Nelson; Daniel Waterland; Kettlewell; Hickes; Johnson; Leslie; Wilson; Bingham; Skelton; Horne; Jones; Reginald Heber; Jebb; Van Mildert; Mant.
77 1 November 1836 An Earnest Remonstrance to the Author of 'The Pope's Letter. Edward Pusey, reprinted.
78 2 February 1837 Catena Patrum. No. III. Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the duty of maintaining, Quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus traditum est. Henry Edward Manning and Charles Marriott Ad Populum. The authors cited are: Jewell; Convocation of 1571; The Queen's Council of 1582; Bilson; Hooker; Convocation of 1603; John Overall; Morton; Field; White; Hall; Laud; Richard Montagu; Jackson; Mede; James Ussher; Bramhall; Sanderson; John Cosin; Hammond; Thorndike; Taylor; Heylin; Commissioners of 1662; Pearson; Barrow; Bull; Edward Stillingfleet; Ken; Beveridge; Patrick; Sharp; Potter; John Ernest Grabe; Thomas Brett; Hickes; Jeremy Collier; Leslie; Waterland; Bingham; Jebb; Van Mildert.
79 25 March 1837 On Purgatory (Against Romanism, No. III). Newman Ad Clerum.
80 [Undated] On Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge, Parts I-III. Isaac Williams This tract was criticised by James Henry Monk.[22] Williams replied, taking the criticism to be hasty.[23]
81 1 November 1837 Catena Patrum. No. IV. Testimony of Writers in the later English Church to the doctrine of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. with an historical account of the changes in the Liturgy as to the expression of that doctrine. Edward Pusey Authors cited: Jewell; Bilson; Hooker; Overall; Field; John Buckeridge; Thomas Morton; Andrewes; Mason; Francis White; Laud; Hall; Montagu; William Forbes; Mede; Brian Duppa; Compilers of the Scotch Prayer Book; William Nicholson; Bramhall; Cosin; Heylyn; Anthony Sparrow; Henry Ferne; Hammond; Thomas Barlow; Thorndike; Taylor; Daniel Brevint; William Sancroft; Matthew Scrivener; John Fell; Patrick; Gabriel Towerson; Bull; Stillingfleet; Smith; Beveridge; George Hooper; Henry Dodwell; Hickes; Comber; Collier; Nelson; Wake; Johnson; Wilson; Sherlock; Grabe; Leslie; Brett; Thomas Bennet; John Potter; John Hughes;[24][25] Roger Laurence; William Law; Charles Wheatley; Glocester Ridley; Compilers of the American Prayer Book; William Jones of Nayland; Horsley; Charles Daubeny; Alexander Jolly; Henry Phillpotts. "[Pusey's] ‘Tracts’ on the holy eucharist appeared in 1836. Their primary object was to recall the attention of churchmen to the almost forgotten sacrificial aspect of the eucharist, as it was held by the early church and constantly asserted in the writings of the best Anglican divines. At the same time he was careful to guard his statements against any popular confusion with the distinctive doctrine of the Roman church."[17]
82 1 November 1837 Preface, Title-Page, and Contents to Volume IV. The Preface includes Letter to a Magazine on the subject of Dr. Pusey's Tract on Baptism. Newman
83 29 June 1838 Advent Sermons on Antichrist. Newman
84 24 August 1838 Whether a Clergyman of the Church of England be now bound to have Morning and Evening Prayers daily in his Parish Church. Thomas Keble, conclusion by George Prevost.
85 21 September 1838 Letters on the Scripture proof of the Doctrines of the Church. Part I. Newman
86 25 March 1839 Indications of a superintending Providence in the preservation of the Prayer-book and in the changes which it has undergone. Isaac Williams
87 2 February 1840 On Reserve in communicating Religious Knowledge (conclusion). Isaac Williams Ad Clerum.
88 25 March 1840 The Greek Devotions of Bishop Andrews, translated and arranged. Newman
89 [Undated] On the Mysticism Attributed to the Fathers of the Church. John Keble " attempted exposition of the “principles” governing patristic figurative exegesis of the Scriptures"[26] It was attacked by Samuel Roffey Maitland in A letter to a friend, on the Tract for the times, no. 89 (1841).[27]
90 25 January 1841[6] Remarks on Certain Passages in the Thirty-Nine Articles John Henry Newman A protest within the University of Oxford was brought against Tract 90 by John Griffiths, Thomas Churton, Henry Bristow Wilson, and Archibald Tait;[28] the resulting furore eventually led the Bishop of Oxford to bring the series to a close.

Further publications

Two other ambitious projects of the Oxford Movement as a whole were conceived and launched in the same period: the Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology that gave extensive republication to the works of the Caroline Divines and others who were cited in the Tracts; and the Library of the Fathers. Isaac Williams with William John Copeland edited Plain Sermons by Contributors to the Tracts for the Times, in ten volumes, appearing from 1839 to 1848.[23]



  1. ^  "Rivington, Francis". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ Peter Toon, Evangelical Theology 1833–1856: A response to Tractarianism (1979), p. 119.
  3. ^  "Bagot, Richard". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  4. ^ Google Books
  5. ^ The ideal of a Christian Church considered in comparison with existing practice, containing A defence of certain articles in the British critic, in reply to remarks on them in Mr. Palmer's Narrative (1844); online at
  6. ^ a b Donald S. Armentrout, Robert Boak Slocum, An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: a user-friendly reference for Episcopalians (2005), p. 523; Google Books.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Clergy of the Church of England database. See also
  15. ^ The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol. 160, p. 561
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b  "Pusey, Edward Bouverie". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^  "Monk, James Henry". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  23. ^ a b  "Williams, Isaac". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  24. ^ Hughes, John in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  25. ^ Translator of John Chrysostom; see
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^  "Griffiths, John (1806-1885)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

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