William and Mary: Toleration Act, 1689




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's 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, intituled, 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, intituled, 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, intituled, 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 or 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, intituled, An act for the better discovering and repressing popish recusants; nor that other statute made in the same year, intituled, 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, intituled, 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, intituled, 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, intituled, 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 the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, 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 of 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, 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, ar assizes, or general or quarter sessions to be held for the country 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 of 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 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, intituled, An act to retain the Queen's majesty's subjects in their due obedience; nor in an act made i the two and twentieth year of the reign of the late King Charles the Second, intituled, 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 non-conforming 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 persons 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.

VII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person dissenting from the Church of England, as aforesaid, shall hereafter be chosen or otherwise appointed to bear the office of high-constable, or petit-constable, church-warden or overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward office, and such person shall scruple to take upon him any of the said offices in regard of the oaths, or any other matter of thing required by the law to be taken or done in respect of such office, every such person shall and may execute such office or employment by a sufficient deputy, by him to be provided, that shall comply with the laws on this behalf. Provided always, the said deputy be allowed and approved by such person or persons, in such manner as such officer or officers respectively should by law have been allowed and approved.

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 of 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 empowered 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 rites 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 inn the seventeenth year of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled 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, intituled, 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.

IX. Provided always, That the making and subscribing the said declaration, and the taking the said oaths, and making the declaration of approbation and subscription to the said articles, in manner as aforesaid, by every respective person or persons herein before-mentioned, at such general or quarter sessions of the peace as aforesaid, shall be then and there entered of record in the said court, for which six pence shall be paid to the clerk of the peace, and no more: provided that such person shall not at any time preach in any place, but with the doors not locked, barred, or bolted, as aforesaid.

X. And whereas some dissenting Protestants scruple in the baptising of infants; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every person in pretended holy orders, or pretending holy orders, or preacher, or teacher, that shall subscribe the aforesaid articles of religion, except before excepted, and also except part of the seven and twentieth article touching infant baptism, and shall take the said oaths, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, every such person shall enjoy all the privileges, benefits, and advantages, which any other dissenting minister, as aforesaid, might have or enjoy by virtue of this act.

XI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every teacher or preacher in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, that is a minister, preacher, or teacher of a congregation, that shall take the oaths herein required, and make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and also subscribe such of the aforesaid articles of the Church of England, as are required by this act in manner aforesaid, shall be thenceforth exempted from serving upon any jury, or from being chosen or appointed to bear the office of churchwarden, overseer of the poor, or any other parochial or ward office or other office in any hundred of any shire, city, town, parish, division, or wapentake.

XII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every justice of the peace may at any time hereafter require any person, that goes to any meeting for exercise of religion, to make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, and also to take the said oaths or declaration of fidelity hereinafter mentioned, in case such person scruples the taking of an oath, and upon refusal thereof, such justice of the peace is hereby required to commit such person to prison without bail or mainprize, and to certify the name of such person to the next general or quarter-sessions of the peace to be held for that county, city, town, part or division, where such person then resides; and if such person so committed shall upon a second tender at the general or quarter-sessions refuse to make and subscribe the declaration aforesaid, such person refusing shall be then and there recorded, and he shall be taken thenceforth to all intents and purposes for a popish recusant convict, and suffer accordingly, and incur all the penalties and forfeitures of all the aforesaid laws.

XIII. And whereas there are certain other persons, dissenters from the Church of England, who scruple the taking of any oath; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That every such person shall make and subscribe the aforesaid declaration, and also this declaration of fidelity following, viz.
I A. B. do sincerely promise and solemnly declare before God and the world, that I will be true and faithful to King William and Queen Mary; and I do solemnly profess and declare, that I do from my heart abhor, detest, and renounce, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position, That princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope, or any authority of the See of Rome, may be deposed or murdered by their subjects, or any other whatsoever. And I do declare, that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate, hath or ought to have, any power, jurisdiction, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority ecclesiastical or spiritual within this realm.
And shall subscribe a profession of their Christian belief in these words: I A. B. profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ His eternal Son, the true God, and in the Holy Spirit, one God blessed for evermore, and do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be given by divine inspiration. Which declarations and subscription shall be made and entered of record at the general quarter-sessions of the peace for the county, city, or place where every such person shall then reside. And every such person that shall make and subscribe the two declarations and profession aforesaid, being thereunto required, shall be exempted from all the pains and penalties of all and every the aforementioned statutes made against popish recusants, or Protestant nonconformists, and also from the penalties of an act made in the fifth year of the reign of the late Queen Elizabeth, intituled, An act for the assurance of the Queen's royal power over all estates and subjects within her dominions, for or by reason of such persons not taking or refusing to take the oath mentioned in the said act; and also from the penalties of an act made in the thirteenth and fourteenth years of the reign of King Charles the Second, intituled, An act for preventing mischiefs that may arise by certain persons called Quakers, refusing to take lawful oaths; and enjoy all other the benefits, privileges, and advantages under the like limitations, provisoes, and conditions, which any other dissenters shall or ought to enjoy by virtue of this act.

XIV. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any person shall refuse to take the said oaths, when tendered to them, which every justice of the peace is hereby empowered to do, such person shall not be admitted to make and subscribe the two declarations aforesaid, though required thereunto either before any justice of the peace, or at the general or quarter-sessions, before or after any conviction of popish recusancy, as aforesaid, unless such person can, within thirty one days after such tender of the declarations to him, produce two sufficient Protestant witnesses, to testify upon oath, that they believe him to be a Protestant dissenter, or a certificate under the hands of four Protestants, who are conformable to the Church of England, or have taken the oaths and subscribed the declaration above mentioned, and shall also produce a certificate under the hands and seals of six or more sufficient men of the congregation to which he belongs, owning him for one of them.

XV. Provided also, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That until such certificate, under the hands of six of his congregation, as aforesaid, be produced, and two Protestant witnesses come to attest his being a Protestant dissenter, or a certificate under the hands of four Protestants, as aforesaid, be produced, the justice of the peace shall and hereby is required to take a recognizance with two sureties in the penal sum of fifty pounds, to be levied of his goods and chattels, lands, and tenements, to the use of the King's and Queen's majesties, their heirs and successors, for his producing the same; and if he cannot give such security, to commit him to prison, there to remain until he has produced such certificates, or two witnesses, as aforesaid.

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.

XVIII. Provided always, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, That if any person or persons, at any time or times after the tenth day of June, do and shall willingly and of purpose, maliciously or contemptuously come into any cathedral or parish church, chapel, or other congregation permitted by this act, and disquiet or disturb the same, or misuse any preacher or teacher, such person or persons, upon proof thereof before any justice of peace, by tow or more sufficient witnesses, shall find two sureties to be bound by recognizance in the penal sum of fifty pounds, and in default of such sureties shall be committed to prison, there to remain till the next general or quarter sessions; and upon conviction of the said offence at the said general or quarter sessions, shall suffer the pain and penalty of twenty pounds, to the use of the King's and Queen's majesties, their heirs and successors.

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 archdeacon of that archdeaconry, 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 archdeacon'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.