The word was coined in the 19th century from the much older ‘Anglican’, perhaps under the influence  of the contemporary French term, Gallicanisme. It properly denotes the system of doctrine and practice of those Christians who are in communion with the see of Canterbury [England], but it has come to be used especially in a more restricted sense of that system in so far as it claims to possess a religious and  theological outlook distinguishable from that of  other Christian communions, whether Catholic, Orthodox , or Protestant. The original formulation of Anglican principles [arose in the mid-16th century] in the reign of Elizabeth I rather than Henry VIII or Edward VI, for it was under her that the via media  between the opposing factions of Rome and Geneva became a political necessity and Anglicanism as a doctrinal system  took shape.  Its formularies, including the Book of Common Prayer, the Thirty Nine Articles, and the two Books of Homilies…became core of Anglican self-understanding, preaching and doctrine.

     After a period in which Calvinistic influences were dominant, the 17th century is often seen as the Golden Age of Anglicanism.  In the lives and writings of Lancelot Andrews, William Laud, Herbert Thorndike, Jeremy Taylor, John Cosin, Thomas Ken, and many others…known as the Caroline Divines, the Church of England at once confirmed her rejection of the claims of Rome and refused to adopt the theological and ecclesiastical  systems of the  Continental  reformers. Continental Classical Anglicanism avoided the tendency to confessional systems and refused to accept any form of  authority as absolute.  The historic episcopate was preserved…The Church’s right to adapt its ministry and even  the form of its doctrine  to changing times was not  denied, but the extent of legitimate change was held to be limited by appeal  to Scripture as containing all things necessary to salvation.   Truth was therefore to be sought from the joint testimony of Scripture and ecclesiastical authority, which in turn was to be based on the tradition of the first four centuries….[These contentions have been]  distinctive features of Anglicanism until 1948 when the Lambeth Conference held the Book of Common Prayer to be a bond  in the Anglican Communion.  [The phrase is well translated “as we worship so we believe”].

Excerpted from
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 1997