Test Act

From Academic Kids

The several Test Acts were a series of English penal laws that imposed various civil disabilities on Roman Catholics and nonconformists. The principle that none but persons professing the Established Church were eligible for public employment and the severe penalties denounced against recusants, whether Roman Catholic or Nonconformist, were affirmations of this principle. The Act of 7 James I of England provided that all such as were naturalized or restored in blood should receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. It was not, however, until the reign of Charles II of England that actually receiving of the communion of the Church of England was made a condition precedent to the holding of public offices. The earliest imposition of this test was by the Corporation Act of 1661 enacting that, besides taking the Oath of Supremacy, all members of corporations were within one year after election to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the rites of the Church of England.

This act was followed by the Test Act of 1673. The immediate cause of the Test Act (the full title of which is 'An act for preventing dangers which may happen from popish recusants'. This act enforced upon all persons filling any office, civil or military, the obligation of taking the oaths of supremacy and allegiance and subscribing a declaration against transubstantiation, and also of receiving the sacrament within three months after admittance to office. The oath for the Test Act of 1673 was:

"I, N, do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantion in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsovever."

The act did not extend to peers.; but in 1678 the act was extended:

I, N, do solemnly and sincerely in the presence of God profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous...

The necessity of receiving the sacrament as a qualification for office was abolished by George IV of England and all acts requiring the taking of oaths and declarations against transubstantiation etc. were repealed by the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829.

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