“Dissenter” or “Nonconformist” are names given to British Protestants – notably the Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Quakers, General and Particular Baptists, Plymouth Brethren, Seventh Day Adventists and other less influential sects – who refused to conform to the doctrines or practices of the state church, the Church of England, and who therefore suffered various kinds of financial and political exclusion from offices of state. Both words are first used in this sense in the period 1643-1661 (see below), and continued to have relevance until the late nineteenth century when the penalties against them were progressively removed. The dissenters (which will be used here to refer to nonconformists as well) constituted a …
Clark, Robert, Alison Searle. "Dissenters". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 September 2007; last revised 30 November -1.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=284, accessed 19 April 2015.]