Select Documents of English Constitutional History

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238.

The Toleration Act

(1689, May 24. 1 William and Mary, c. 18. 6 S. R. 74. The whole reprinted in G. and H. 654–664.)

FORASMUCH as some ease to scrupulous consciences in the exercise of religion may be an effectual means to unite Their Majesties’ Protestant subjects in interest and affection:

II. Be it enacted by the king and queen’s most excellent Majesties, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and the commons in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that neither the statute made in the three and twentieth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, entitled, An Act to Retain the Queen’s Majesty’s Subjects in their due Obedience; nor the statute made in the twenty ninth year of the said queen, entitled, An Act for the more speedy and due Execution of certain Branches of the Statute made in the three and twentieth year of the Queen’s Majesty’s Reign, viz. the aforesaid act; nor that branch or clause of a statute made in the first year of the reign of the said queen, entitled, An Act for [the] Uniformity of Common Prayer and Service in the Church and Administration of the Sacraments, whereby all persons having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent are required to resort to their parish church or chapel or some usual place where the common prayer shall be used upon pain of punishment by the censures of the church and also upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit for every such offence twelve pence; nor the statute made in the third year of the reign of the late King James the First, entitled, An Act for the better Discovering and Repressing Popish Recusants; nor that other statute made in the same year, entitled, An Act to Prevent and Avoid Dangers which may grow by Popish Recusants; nor any other law or statute of this realm made against papists or popish recusants, except the statute made in the five and twentieth year of King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act for Preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants and except also the statute made in the thirtieth year of the said King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act for the more effectual preserving the King’s Person and Government by disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament; shall be construed to extend to any person or persons dissenting from the Church of England, that shall take the oaths mentioned in a statute made this present parliament, entitled, An Act for removing and preventing all Questions and Disputes concerning the assembling and sitting of this present Parliament; and shall make and subscribe the declaration mentioned in a statute made in the thirtieth year of King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act to prevent Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament, which oaths and declaration the justices of peace at the general sessions of the peace to be held for the county or place, where such person shall live, are hereby required to tender and administer to such persons as shall offer themselves to take, make and subscribe the same and thereof to keep a register; and likewise none of the persons aforesaid shall give or pay as any fee or reward to any officer or officers belonging to the court aforesaid above the sum of six pence, nor that more than once, for his or their entry of his taking the said oaths, and making and subscribing the said declaration nor above the further sum of six pence for any certificate of the same to be made out and signed by the officer or officers of the said court.

III. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every person and persons already convicted, or prosecuted in order to conviction, of recusancy by indictment, information, action of debt or otherwise grounded upon the aforesaid statutes or any of them, that shall take the said oaths mentioned in the said statute made this present parliament, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, in the court of exchequer or assizes or general or quarter sessions to be held for the county where such person lives, and to be thence respectively certified into the exchequer, shall be thenceforth exempted and discharged from all the penalties, seizures, forfeitures, judgments and executions incurred by force of any the aforesaid statutes without any composition, fee or further charge whatsoever.

IV. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every such person and persons that shall as aforesaid take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, shall not be liable to any pains, penalties or forfeitures mentioned in an act made in the five and thirtieth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, entitled, An Act to retain the Queen’s Majesty’s Subjects in their due Obedience; nor in an act made the two and twentieth year of the reign of the late King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act to prevent and suppress seditious Conventicles; nor shall any of the said persons be prosecuted in any ecclesiastical court for or by reason of their nonconforming to the Church of England.

V. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that if any assembly of persons dissenting from the Church of England shall be had in any place for religious worship with the doors locked, barred or bolted during any time of such meeting together, all and every person or persons that shall come to and be at such meeting shall not receive any benefit from this law, but be liable to all the pains and penalties of all the aforesaid laws recited in this act for such their meeting, notwithstanding his taking the oaths and his making and subscribing the declaration aforesaid.

VI. Provided always, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to exempt any of the persons aforesaid from paying of tithes or other parochial duties or any other duties to the church or minister, nor from any prosecution in any ecclesiastical court or elsewhere for the same.

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VIII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person dissenting from the Church of England in holy orders or pretended holy orders or pretending to holy orders, nor any preacher or teacher of any congregation of dissenting Protestants, that shall make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid and take the said oaths at the general or quarter sessions of the peace to be held for the county, town, parts or division where such person lives, which court is hereby impowered to administer the same, and shall also declare his approbation of and subscribe the articles of religion mentioned in the statute made in the thirteenth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, except the thirty-fourth, thirty-fifth and thirty-sixth and these words of the twentieth article, viz. * * * the Church hath power to decree rights or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith and yet * * *, shall be liable to any of the pains or penalties mentioned in an act made in the seventeenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act for restraining Nonconformists from inhabiting in Corporations; nor the penalties mentioned in the aforesaid act, made in the two and twentieth year of his said late majesty’s reign, for or by reason of such persons preaching at any meeting for the exercise of religion, nor to the penalty of one hundred pounds mentioned in an act made in the thirteenth and fourteenth of King Charles the Second, entitled, An Act for the Uniformity of Public Prayers and Administration of Sacraments and other Rites and Ceremonies, and for establishing the Form of making, ordaining and consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons in the Church of England, for officiating in any congregation for the exercise of religion permitted and allowed by this act. * * *

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XVI. Provided always, and it is the true intent and meaning of this act, that all the laws made and provided for the frequenting of divine service on the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday, shall be still in force and executed against all persons that offend against the said laws, except such persons come to some congregation or assembly of religious worship allowed or permitted by this act.

XVII. Provided always, and be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that neither this act nor any clause, article or thing herein contained shall extend or be construed to extend to give any ease, benefit or advantage to any papist or popish recusant whatsoever, or any person that shall deny in his preaching or writing the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, as it is declared in the aforesaid articles of religion.

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XIX. Provided always, that no congregation or assembly for religious worship shall be permitted or allowed by this act, until the place of such meeting shall be certified to the bishop of the diocese, or to the arch-deacon of that arch-deaconry, or to the justices of the peace at the general or quarter sessions of the peace for the county, city or place in which such meeting shall be held, and registered in the said bishop’s or arch-deacon’s court respectively, or recorded at the said general or quarter sessions; the register or clerk of the peace whereof respectively is hereby required to register the same, and to give certificate thereof to such person as shall demand the same, for which there shall be no greater fee nor reward taken than the sum of six pence.

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Chicago: "The Toleration Act," 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), 460–462. Original Sources, accessed August 17, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5213Y5Z27K28645.

MLA: . "The Toleration Act." 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. 460–462. Original Sources. 17 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5213Y5Z27K28645.

Harvard: , 'The Toleration Act' in Select Documents of English Constitutional History. cited in 1916, Select Documents of English Constitutional History, ed. , Macmillan Company, New York, pp.460–462. Original Sources, retrieved 17 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=5213Y5Z27K28645.