Trinity College and the 1641 Rebellion
Tensions simmered below the surface throughout the three Stuart kingdoms during the 1630s, as a result of attempts by the protestant Charles I to impose religious uniformity. In Ireland, the king feared that Trinity College, Dublin would become a hub for protestant dissent. To prevent this, he appointed the former chancellor of Christ’s College in Cambridge University, Anthony Chappell, as Provost. Chappell’s remit was to unite a fractious faculty and convert the college into a model for reform as espoused by William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Deputy Wentworth.
Following the outbreak of the rebellion in Ireland in October 1641, Chappell’s successor, Richard Washington, fled Dublin for England leaving behind a power vacuum in the faculty, duly filled by Charles’s political opponents. Life for students at Trinity College during this time proved turbulent, while the authorities, starved of cash, pawned or melted down college plate for money.
During the 1640s, Charles and his supporters in Ireland repeatedly attempted to clamp down on seditious preaching. The most notorious case occurred in 1643, when Charles ordered the removal of John Harding as Chancellor of Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin.