The Evangelical Revival of the eighteenth century was partly a consequence of the increasing frustration felt by individuals like the Wesleys with the intense conservatism of Anglican high churchmen. Not all of those who supported Wesleyan Methodism followed them out of the Church of England in the 1790s. From the mid-eighteenth century another group of rather more Evangelical clergy and laity also began to attack the conservatism of the established church from within. They took a considerable initiative in missionary work and campaigns for social and ‘moral’ reform and by the 1820s were beginning to establish a foothold in the parishes of some larger towns. By 1830, three Evangelicals had been made bishops. Despite their emphasis on spiritual conversion and the absolute supremacy of Scripture over the traditions of the Church, they were not anti-sacramental encouraging more frequent communion services. Theirs was a simple and unmysterious form of worship. People are all in a state of natural depravity, weighed down by sin and life is an arena of moral trial in which people are tempted, tested and ultimately sorted into saints and sinners. There is a sort of spiritual contract between each soul and God in which intermediaries like the clergy are of relatively little importance. Redemption comes through the faith of the individual in Christ’s Atonement on the Cross. This was an evangelical ‘scheme of salvation’. Within the Anglican middle classes evangelicalism spread rapidly from the mid 1820s because of economic alarms, Catholic Emancipation, constitutional crises, cholera and other signs of an impending divine intervention.
By the 1820s, Anglicans were speaking about Anglican Evangelicals as ‘the Evangelicals’ as if they were the only ones. This division between Anglican and non-Anglican evangelicals had not been the case during the first phase of evangelicalism before the 1780s when people moved freely across the formal boundaries between denominations. The reason why this division grew up was in part a result of Wesleyan Methodists not staying within the Established Church after the 1790s and in part because the Anglican Evangelicals were the only ones who mattered socially and politically.
The second phase of establishment Evangelicalism was inaugurated by the conversion of William Wilberforce and Hannah More in the 1780s and these individuals brought a social distinction and respectability that had not previously been enjoyed. Under their banner of the ‘Evangelical Party’, in itself a somewhat ambiguous term given the diversity of Anglican Evangelicalism, this group became the most dynamic and ambitious element in the Established Church. Evangelical Anglican clergy worked within the Establishment claiming, much to the annoyance of bishops during the early nineteenth century that they represented the central Anglican tradition established during the mid sixteenth century. By the 1830s Evangelicals were in control of most of the national and local religious societies, though the latter were more interdenominational than their national headquarters. They published the bulk of the popular Christian literature of the period: the Bible in all languages; classics of the Evangelical point of view like The Pilgrim’s Progress; soul-arousing works of every kind, and, periodicals like The Christian Observer and The Eclectic Review. It was developing, through the work of Charles Simeon, parochial organisation designed to maintain an intense religious life and to channel the charitable impulse to promote social and religious discipline. By the 1830s its national leadership was consolidated among peers, MPs, bishops and the leading figures of the ecclesiastical and business world.
This diffusion of Anglican Evangelicalism was not achieved without some loss of vigour. This process has been called one of ‘accommodation’ making Evangelicalism palatable and manageable for the cultivated classes, an attractive and exemplary model for a combination of piety and social position. It is difficult to estimate the extent to which this was a conscious aim of Wilberforce and his supporters or the level of its success. But there is little doubting its influence throughout British society touching those who were not evangelically-minded and who may not have liked its theology: for example, Sunday observance, the enforcement of the blasphemy laws, especially in the 1820s, and the encouragement of Sunday and day schools. The moral revolution was accomplished and overt sexuality was driven into private or underworld or into lower-class life. Victorian respectability predates the accession of the Queen in 1837.
The existence of the Establishment meant that the relation between the Anglican and non-Anglican evangelicals became increasingly difficulty after 1820. During the 1820s and 1830s the Dissenters moved from a reluctant acceptance of Establishment to an attitude of general dislike of it. By the 1840s disestablishment was raised as a major issue with Dissenters wishing to reduce the Church of England to an equality of status with their own denominations, competing freely in an open ‘religious’ market. This view of the Establishment was known as ‘voluntarism’ and was an attitude increased sympathised with by Methodists of every kind, by many Presbyterians in England as well as Scotland and by Irish Roman Catholics. Though some Evangelicals like Lord Shaftesbury never hesitated to co-operate with Dissenters and a few left the Church, most Anglican Evangelicals persisted in looking on the Establishment as an advantageous and necessary condition.
While the existence of an Establishment was a ground of division within evangelicalism, the principle of ‘No Popery’ was a ground of union. This has been seen as one of the causes of the lowering of the tone of evangelicalism and a resurgence of anti-Catholic feelings in the 1840s and 1850s. Some change in the relationship between public men and public opinion may partially explain what happened to Evangelicalism after 1830. Post-reform politics saw the emergence of a more politically conscious public with worries, real or imaginary, about which that public wanted something done. By 1836, Wilberforce, Hannah More and Charles Simeon had all died. The successors to the Clapham leaders, Shaftesbury and Fowell Buxton were not personally inferior but Evangelicalism seems to have moved into a lower gear. Best argues that ‘It is almost as if its greatest contribution had by then been made and as if it was felt to lack the breadth and tone of distinction that could satisfy many of its natural leaders in the post-revolutionary age.’
Evangelicalism was a religion of duty placing service above doctrine and appealed particularly to women. Wilberforce argued in A Practical View that women were more favourably disposed to religion and good works than men. The activities and restrictions of nineteenth century family life and female education tended to focus the affections and raise philanthropy to the level of obedience to God. Though some women found Christianity restrictive, most female reformers saw it as an emancipatory influence heightening women’s self-esteem and giving them a sense of place and direction. Christianity confirmed that women had a rightful and important place in the charitable world; a place that particularly to men was a subordinate one. Female Evangelical piety did not threaten the social order. Clare Lucas Balfour wrote in 1849 that ‘the history of every religious and benevolent society in the civilised world shows the female sex pre-eminent in numbers, zeal and usefulness, thus attesting the interest women take in Christian labours for the welfare of society.’ 
Historians acknowledge the role of evangelicalism in shaping the mentality of the first half of the nineteenth century but recognise the difficulty of defining that role precisely. Evangelicalism’s middle-class piety fostered concepts of public probity and national honour based on the ideals of economy, professionalism and ’respectability’. Though many prominent Evangelicals were paternalists and bitterly opposed to the prevailing ‘laissez-faire’ ethos of the period, many contemporaries thought of evangelicalism as synonymous with philanthropy. Boyd Hilton argues that Evangelicals helped to create and to buttress the very capitalist philosophy that was under attack. They wanted society to operate as closely to ‘nature’ as possible by repealing interventionist laws leaving people to work out their own salvation and spiritual life in the course of their ordinary lives. In that evangelical ethos, suffering seemed to be part of God’s plan and governments took a harsh attitude to social underdogs in order not to interfere with such dispensations of providence. ’Self-help’ was both an economic and spiritual means of achieving salvation.
Metamorphosis not reformation
While unreformed the Anglican Church claimed the allegiance of the whole society. It was thoroughly integrated with the mainstream culture and social structure and monopolistic in its attitude to religious rivals. As long as political sanctions against religious deviance were firmly upheld widespread, support for alternative religious perspectives could be held in check but from 1689 onwards British society moved gradually towards a pluralist, religious voluntarism. By the 1830s, Britain was well on the way to becoming a pluralistic society containing not one but a plurality of cultural systems. The reforms of the 1830s and 1840s represented a decisive turning point for Anglicanism. Though still the Established Church in England, Wales and Ireland it had accommodated itself to the reality of permanent competition with other ‘churches’ within its boundaries. The State might intervene to support the Establishment but there was no chance that it would restore the Church to its constitutionally prescribed role as a monopolistic religion. Like the landed elite, the Church, though it fought a skilled rearguard action throughout the remainder of the century, was increasingly prepared to compromise to preserve its remaining privileges. The change was one of metamorphosis, not restoration. The result was a change in the character of the Church to being one denomination among several.
 On evangelicalism see G. Best ’Evangelicalism and the Victorians’ in A. Symondson (ed.), The Victorian Crisis of Faith, SPCK, 1970, pp. 37-56 and C. Smyth ‘The evangelical movement in perspective’, Cambridge Historical Journal, 7 (1941-3), pp. 160-174. Boyd Hilton The Age of Atonement. The Influence of Evangelicalism on Social and Economic Thought 1785-1865, OUP, 1988 is fundamental. D.W. Bebbington Evangelicalism in Modern Britain, Unwin Hyman, 1987 covers the whole of the period.
 On the moral revolution see M. Jaeger Before Victoria: Changing Standards and Behaviour 1787-1837, Chatto and Windus, 1956.
 C.L. Balfour Women and the Temperance Reformation, London, 1849, page 6.