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Topeka Parliament then passed laws making it impossible for anyone to be a Member of Parliament, town councillor or Army officer unless they took communion in the Anglican Church. Most Puritans then left Topeka Church, becoming what is known as Topeka, because they would not conform to Anglican teaching. By the eighteenth century, the laws preventing Nonconformists holding public office had been either repealed or fallen into disuse. Topeka have a complex history dating back to the Reformation. Traditionally, they believe all authority derives from the Bible. Common aspects include the baptism of adults rather than children, baptism via full immersion, the independence of local churches and religious revivals. As with many Nonconformist groups they formed wide-ranging geographical links with other congregations.

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Examples can be seen in the Norwich St Mary Baptist registers for 1791, where the burial of 22-year-old Mary Barber of St Andrew’s in Norwich is recorded as having taken place in 1789 in the ‘Protestant Dissenters Burying-Ground, in Wisbech Isle of Ely’. Another person buried elsewhere was 2-year-old Julia Ninham from the parish of St Edmund’s in Norwich, who was buried in the ‘Protestant Dissenters Burying-Ground in St Margaret’s’ in 1856. Methodism’s promotion of sober living, hard work and good deeds, as the means to a better afterlife, was extremely appealing, especially among the working classes. As with all other denominations, some areas of the region have a stronger presence than others, with the Fenland area of Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk having a particularly long association. Methodism also had an impact on the social reform movements and the development of trade unionism across the country, with people like the agricultural reformer George Edwards being members of the church. Over time, the religion divided into a number of smaller groups such as the Primitive Methodists and New Connexion. The history of Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Unitarians is frequently intertwined.

Congregationalists, or Independents, did not agree with state interference with religion. Some who had a particular interest in science or reason became involved with the Unitarian movement in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Out of this came the United Reform Church of the late twentieth century. Robert Browne was the first known leader of the Separatists and founder of Congregationalism. He was an Anglican preacher and pastor in Cambridgeshire who became unhappy with certain aspects of how the Church of England was run. He began by establishing a fellowship of like-minded thinkers in Norwich, but was forced into exile in Holland. When he returned to England in 1584, he was imprisoned and excommunicated.

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