Select Documents of English Constitutional History

Contents:

167.

The Act of Supremacy

(1559.1 Elizabeth, c. 1. 4 S. R. 350. The whole act reprinted in G. and H. 442–458.)

MOST humbly beseech your most excellent majesty, your faithful and obedient subjects, the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons, in this your present Parliament assembled, that where in time of the reign of your most dear father, of worthy memory, King Henry VIII, divers good laws and statutes were made and established, as well for the utter extinguishment and putting away of all usurped and foreign powers and authorities out of this your realm, and other your highness’s dominions and countries, as also for the restoring and uniting to the imperial crown of this realm the ancient jurisdictions, authorities, superiorities, and pre-eminences to the same of right belonging and appertaining, by reason whereof we, your most humble and obedient subjects, from the five-and-twentieth year of the reign of your said dear father, were continually kept in good order, and were disburdened of divers great and intolerable charges and exactions before that time unlawfully taken and exacted by such foreign power and authority as before that was usurped, until such time as all the said good laws and statutes, by one Act of Parliament made in the first and second years of the reigns of the late King Philip and Queen Mary, your highness’s sister, entitled, An Act repealing all statutes, articles, and provisions made against the See Apostolic of Rome since the twentieth year of King Henry VIII, and also for the establishment of all spiritual and ecclesiastical possessions and hereditaments conveyed to the laity, were all clearly repealed and made void, as by the same Act of repeal more at large does and may appear; by reason of which Act of repeal, your said humble subjects were eftsoons brought under an usurped foreign power and authority, and do yet remain in that bondage, to the intolerable charges of your loving subjects, if some redress, by the authority of this your High Court of Parliament, with the assent of your highness, be not had and provided:

II. May it therefore please your highness, for the repressing of the said usurped foreign power and the restoring of the rights, jurisdictions, and pre-eminences appertaining to the imperial crown of this your realm, that it may be enacted by the authority of this present Parliament, that the said Act made in the said first and second years of the reigns of the said late King Philip and Queen Mary, and all and every branches, clauses, and articles therein contained (other than such branches, clauses, and sentences as hereafter shall be excepted) may, from the last day of this session of Parliament, by authority of this present Parliament, be repealed, and shall from thenceforth be utterly void and of none effect.

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XVI. And to the intent that all usurped and foreign power and authority, spiritual and temporal, may for ever be clearly extinguished, and never to be used or obeyed within this realm, or any other your majesty’s dominions or countries, may it please your highness that it may be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, spiritual or temporal, shall at any time after the last day of this session of Parliament, use, enjoy, or exercise any manner of power, jurisdiction, superiority, authority, pre-eminence or privilege, spiritual or ecclesiastical, within this realm, or within any other your majesty’s dominions or countries that now be, or hereafter shall be, but from thenceforth the same shall be clearly abolished out of this realm, and all other your highness’s dominions for ever; any statute, ordinance, custom, constitutions, or any other matter or cause whatsoever to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

XVII. And that also it may likewise please your highness, that it may be established and enacted by the authority aforesaid, that such jurisdictions, privileges, superiorities, and pre-eminences, spiritual and ecclesiastical, as by any spiritual or ecclesiastical power or authority hath heretofore been, or may lawfully be exercised or used for the visitation of the ecclesiastical state and persons, and for reformation, order, and correction of the same, and of all manner of errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, offences, contempts, and enormities, shall for ever, by authority of this present Parliament, be united and annexed to the imperial crown of this realm.

XVIII. And that your highness, your heirs and successors, kings or queens of this realm, shall have full power and authority by virtue of this Act, by letters patent under the great seal of England, to assign, name, and authorize, when and as often as your highness, your heirs or successors, shall think meet and convenient, and for such and so long time as shall please your highness, your heirs or successors, such person or persons being natural-born subjects to your highness, your heirs or successors, as your majesty, your heirs or successors, shall think meet, to exercise, use, occupy, and execute under your highness, your heirs and successors, all manner of jurisdictions, privileges, and pre-eminences, in any wise touching or concerning any spiritual or ecclesiastical jurisdiction, within these your realms of England and Ireland, or any other your highness’s dominions or countries; and to visit, reform, redress, order, correct, and amend all such errors, heresies, schisms, abuses, offences, contempts, and enormities whatsoever, which by any manner of spiritual or ecclesiastical power, authority, or jurisdiction, can or may lawfully be reformed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained, or amended, to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue, and the conservation of the peace and unity of this realm; and that such person or persons so to be named, assigned, authorized, and appointed by your highness, your heirs or successors, after the said letters patent to him or them made and delivered, as is aforesaid, shall have full power and authority, by virtue of this Act, and of the said letters patent, under your highness, your heirs and successors, to exercise, use, and execute all the premises, according to the tenor and effect of the said letters patent; any matter or cause to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding.

XIX. And for the better observation and maintenance of this Act, may it please your highness that it may be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every archbishop, bishop, and all and every other ecclesiastical person, and other ecclesiastical officer and minister, of what estate, dignity, pre-eminence, or degree soever he or they be or shall be, and all and every temporal judge, justice, mayor, and other lay or temporal officer and minister, and every other person having your highness’s fee or wages, within this realm, or any your highness’s dominions, shall make, take, and receive a corporal oath upon the evangelist, before such person or persons as shall please your highness, your heirs or successors, under the great seal of England to assign and name, to accept and to take the same according to the tenor and effect hereafter following, that is to say:

’I, A. B., do utterly testify and declare in my conscience, that the queen’s highness is the only supreme governor of this realm, and of all other her highness’s dominions and countries, as well in all spiritual or ecclesiastical things or causes, as temporal, and that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate, hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm; and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities, and authorities, and do promise that from henceforth I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the queen’s highness, her heirs and lawful successors, and to my power shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, pre-eminences, privileges, and authorities granted or belonging to the queen’s highness, her heirs and successors, or united and annexed to the imperial crown of this realm. So help me God, and by the contents of this book.’

XX. And that it may be also enacted, that if any such archbishop, bishop, or other ecclesiastical officer or minister, or any of the said temporal judges, justiciaries, or other lay officer or minister, shall peremptorily or obstinately refuse to take or receive the said oath, that then he so refusing shall forfeit and lose, only during his life, all and every ecclesiastical and spiritual promotion, benefice, and office, and every temporal and lay promotion and office, which he has solely at the time of such refusal made; and that the whole title, interest, and incumbency, in every such promotion, benefice, and other office, as against such person only so refusing, during his life, shall clearly cease and be void, as though the party so refusing were dead.

XXI. And that also all and every such person and persons so refusing to take the said oath, shall immediately after such refusal be from thenceforth, during his life, disabled to retain or exercise any office or other promotion which he, at the time of such refusal, has jointly, or in common, with any other person or persons.

XXII. And that all and every person and persons, that at any time hereafter shall be preferred, promoted, or collated to any archbishopric or bishopric, or to any other spiritual or ecclesiastical benefice, promotion, dignity, office, or ministry, or that shall be by your highness, your heirs or successors, preferred or promoted to any temporal or lay office, ministry, or service within this realm, or in any your highness’s dominions, before he or they shall take upon him or them to receive, use, exercise, supply, or occupy any such archbishopric, bishopric, promotion, dignity, office, ministry, or service, shall likewise make, take, and receive the said corporal oath before mentioned, upon the evangelist, before such persons as have or shall have authority to admit any such person to any such office, ministry, or service, or else before such person or persons as by your highness, your heirs or successors, by commission under the great seal of England, shall be named, assigned, or appointed to minister the said oath.

XXIII. And that it may likewise be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any such person or persons, as at any time hereafter shall be promoted, preferred, or collated to any such promotion spiritual or ecclesiastical, benefice, office, or ministry, or that by your highness, your heirs or successors, shall be promoted or preferred to any temporal or lay office, ministry, or service, shall and do peremptorily and obstinately refuse to take the same oath so to him to be offered; that then he or they so refusing shall presently be judged disabled in the law to receive, take, or have the same promotion spiritual or ecclesiastical, the same temporal office, ministry, or service within this realm, or any other your highness’s dominions, to all intents, constructions, and purposes.

XXIV. And that it may be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every person and persons temporal, suing livery or ouster le main out of the hands of your highness, your heirs or successors, before his or their livery or ouster le main sued forth and allowed, and every temporal person or persons doing any homage to your highness, your heirs or successors, or that shall be received into service with your highness, your heirs or successors, shall make, take, and receive the said corporal oath before mentioned, before the lord chancellor of England, or the lord keeper of the great seal for the time being, or before such person or persons as by your highness, your heirs or successors, shall be named and appointed to accept or receive the same.

XXV. And that also all and every person and persons taking orders, and all and every other person and persons which shall be promoted or preferred to any degree of learning in any university within this your realm or dominions, before he shall receive or take any such orders, or be preferred to any such degree of learning, shall make, take, and receive the said oath by this Act set forth and declared as is aforesaid, before his or their ordinary, commissary, chancellor or vice-chancellor, or their sufficient deputies in the said university.

XXVI. Provided always, and that it may be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person, having any estate of inheritance in any temporal office or offices, shall hereafter obstinately and peremptorily refuse to accept and take the said oath as is aforesaid, and after, at any time during his life, shall willingly require to take and receive the said oath, and so do take and accept the same oath before any person or persons that shall have lawful authority to minister the same; that then every such person, immediately after he has so received the same oath, shall be vested, deemed, and judged in like estate and possession of the said office, as he was before the said refusal, and shall and may use and exercise the said office in such manner and form as he should or might have done before such refusal, anything in this Act contained to the contrary in ally wise notwithstanding.

XXVII. And for the mote sure observation of this Act, and the utter extinguishment of all foreign and usurped power and authority, may it please your highness, that it may be further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any person or persons dwelling or inhabiting within this your realm, or in any other your highness’s realms or dominions, of what estate, dignity, or degree soever he or they be, after the end of thirty days next after the determination of this session of this present Parliament, shall by writing, printing, teaching, preaching, express words, deed or act, advisedly, maliciously, and directly affirm, hold, stand with, set forth, maintain, or defend the authority, pre-eminence, power or jurisdiction, spiritual or ecclesiastical, of any foreign prince, prelate, person, state, or potentate whatsoever, heretofore claimed, used, or usurped within this realm, or any dominion or country being within or under the power, dominion, or obeisance of your highness; or shall advisedly, maliciously, and directly put in use or execute anything for the extolling, advancement, setting forth, maintenance, or defence of any such pretended or usurped jurisdiction, power, pre-eminence, or authority, or any part thereof; that then every such person and persons so doing and offending, their abettors, aiders, procurers, and counsellors, being thereof lawfully convicted and attainted, according to the due order and course of the common laws of this realm, for his or their first offence shall forfeit and lose unto your highness, your heirs and successors, all his and their goods and chattels, as well real as personal.

XXVIII. And if any such person so convicted or attainted shall not have or be worth of his proper goods and chattels to the value of twenty pounds, at the time of his conviction or attainder, that then every such person so convicted and attainted, over and besides the forfeiture of all his said goods and chattels, shall have and suffer imprisonment, by the space of one whole year, without bail or mainprise.

XXIX. And that also all and every the benefices, prebends, and other ecclesiastical promotions and dignities whatsoever, of every spiritual person so offending, and being attainted, shall immediately after such attainder be utterly void to all intents and purposes, as though the incumbent thereof were dead; and that the patron and donor of every such benefice, prebend, spiritual promotion and dignity, shall and may lawfully present unto the same, or give the same, in such manner and form as if the said incumbent were dead; and if any offender or offenders, after such conviction or attainder, do eftsoons commit or do the said offences, or any of them, in manner and form aforesaid, and be thereof duly convicted and attainted, as is aforesaid; that then every such offender and offenders shall for the same second offence incur into the dangers, penalties, and forfeitures ordained and provided by the statute of Provision and Prœmunire, made in the sixteenth year of the reign of King Richard II.

XXX. And if any such offender or offenders, at any time after the said second conviction and attainder, do the third time commit and do the said offences, or any of them, in manner and form aforesaid, and be thereof duly convicted and attainted, as is aforesaid; that then every such offence or offences shall be deemed and adjudged high treason, and that the offender and offenders therein, being thereof lawfully convicted and attainted, according to the laws of this realm, shall suffer pains of death, and other penalties, forfeitures, and losses, as in cases of high treason by the laws of this realm.

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Chicago: "The Act of Supremacy," Select Documents of English Constitutional History in Select Documents of English Constitutional History, ed. George Burton Adams (1851-1925) and Henry Morse Stephens (1857-1918) (New York: Macmillan Company, 1916), 297–302. Original Sources, accessed September 21, 2018, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYIWSTVY1IFV3D.

MLA: . "The Act of Supremacy." Select Documents of English Constitutional History, in Select Documents of English Constitutional History, edited by George Burton Adams (1851-1925) and Henry Morse Stephens (1857-1918), New York, Macmillan Company, 1916, pp. 297–302. Original Sources. 21 Sep. 2018. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYIWSTVY1IFV3D.

Harvard: , 'The Act of Supremacy' in Select Documents of English Constitutional History. cited in 1916, Select Documents of English Constitutional History, ed. , Macmillan Company, New York, pp.297–302. Original Sources, retrieved 21 September 2018, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=CYYIWSTVY1IFV3D.