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Test Act

Test Act, 1673, English statute that excluded from public office (both military and civil) all those who refused to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, who refused to receive the communion according to the rites of the Church of England, or who refused to renounce belief in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation. Although directed primarily against Roman Catholics, it also excluded Protestant nonconformists. In 1678 it was extended to members of Parliament. The law was modified by the Act of Toleration of 1689, which enabled most non-Catholics to qualify. However, some Protestants did not conform and were disqualified from office until the repeal of the act at the time of Catholic Emancipation. See Penal Laws.

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Test Act

Test Act, 1673. Usually linked to the Corporation Act, but a later addition to the code of laws excluding non-members of the Church of England from public office (25 Car. II c. 2). It required all office-holders under the crown, including MPs, to receive communion according to the rites of the Church of England at least once a year. They were also required to take oaths of supremacy and allegiance to the crown and to make a declaration against transubstantiation. This was aimed more particularly at recusant catholics and the repeal of the Test Act was the principal aim of the successful catholic emancipation campaign led by Daniel O'Connell in the late 1820s.

Judith Champ

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