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An Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery

An Act to Prevent the Further Growth of Popery

1704

This statute is the most important of the so-called penal laws that were enacted against Catholics beginning in 1695. Its elaborate provisions concerning the disposition of land that had not been confiscated from Catholics during the upheavals of the seventeenth century reflect the fact that propertied Catholics were the principal target of such legislation. Property was the key to political power in this period.

SEE ALSO Catholic Merchants and Gentry from 1690 to 1800; Council of Trent and the Catholic Mission; Eighteenth-Century Politics: 1690 to 1714—Revolution Settlement; Penal Laws; Politics: 1690 to 1800—A Protestant Kingdom; Religious Orders: Men; Religious Orders: Women; Religion: Since 1690; Roman Catholic Church: 1690 to 1829

AN ACT TO PREVENT THE FURTHER GROWTH OF POPERY

I. Whereas divers emissaries of the church of Rome, popish priests, and other persons of the persuasion, taking advantage of the weakness and ignorance of some of her Majesty's subjects, or the extreme sickness and decay of their reason and senses, in the absence of friends and spiritual guides, do daily endeavour to persuade and pervert them from the Protestant religion, to the great dishonour of Almighty God, the weakening of the true religion, by his blessing so happily established in this realm, to the disquieting the peace and settlement, and discomfort of many particular families thereof: and in further manifestation of their hatred and aversion to the said true religion, many of the said persons, so professing the popish religion in this kingdom, have refused to make provisions for their own children for no other reason but their being of the Protestant religion; and also have by cunning devices and contrivances found out ways to avoid and elude the intents of an act of Parliament, made in the ninth year of the reign of the late King William the third for preventing Protestants inter-marrying with papists; and of several other laws made for the security of the Protestant religion; and whereas many persons so professing the popish religion have it in their power to raise divisions among Protestants, by voting in elections for members of Parliament, and also have it in their power to use other ways and means tending to the destruction of the Protestant interest in this kingdom; for remedy of which great mischiefs, and to prevent the like evil practices for the future, be it enacted by the Queen's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by authority of the same, that if any person or persons from and after the twenty-fourth day of March, in this present year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and three, shall seduce, persuade, or pervert any person or persons professing, or that shall profess, the Protestant religion, to renounce, forsake, and abjure the same, and to profess the popish religion, or reconcile him or them to the church of Rome, then and in such case every such person and persons so seducing, as also every such Protestant and Protestants, who shall be so seduced, perverted, and reconciled to popery, shall for the said offences, being thereof lawfully convicted, incur the danger and penalty of premunire, mentioned in the statute of premunire made in England in the sixteenth year of the reign of King Richard the second; and if any person or persons being a papist, or professing the popish religion, shall from and after the said twenty-fourth day of March send, or cause, or willingly suffer, to be sent or conveyed any child under the age of one and twenty years, except sailors, ship-boys, or the apprentice or factor of some merchant in trade of merchandise, into France, or any other parts beyond the seas, out of her Majesty's dominions, without the special license of her Majesty, her heirs or successors, or of her or their chief governor or governors of this kingdom, and four or more of her or their privy council of this realm, under their hands in that behalf first had and obtained, he, she, and they, so sending or conveying or causing to be sent or conveyed away, such child, shall incur the pains, penalties, and forfeitures mentioned in an act made in the seventh year of his late Majesty King William, entitled An Act to restrain foreign education.

III. And to the end that no child or children of popish parent or parents, who have professed or embraced, or who shall profess or embrace, the Protestant religion, or are or shall be desirous or willing to be instructed and educated therein, may in the life time of such popish parent or parents, for fear of being cast off or disinherited by them, or for want of a fitting maintenance or future provision, be compelled and necessitated to embrace the popish religion, or be deterred or withheld from owning or professing the Protestant religion; be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That from and after the said twenty-fourth of March, one thousand seven hundred and three, upon complaint in the high court of Chancery by bill founded on this act against such popish parent, it shall and may be lawful for the said court to make such order for the maintenance of every such Protestant child, not maintained by such popish parent suitable to the degree and ability of such parent, and to the age of such child, and also for the portion of every such Protestant child, to be paid at the decease of such popish parent, as that court shall adjudge fit, suitable to the degree and ability of such parent; and in case the eldest son and heir of such popish parent shall be a Protestant, that then from the time of the enrollment in high court of Chancery of a certificate of the bishop of the diocess, in which he shall inhabit, testifying his being a Protestant, and conforming himself to the church of Ireland as by law established, such popish parent shall become, and shall be, only tenant for life of all the real estate, whereof such popish parent shall be then seized in fee-tail or fee-simple, and the reversion in fee shall be vested in such eldest son being a Protestant; subject nevertheless to all such debts and real incumbrances at the time of the enrollment of such certificate charging such estate, and subject also to such maintenances and portions for the other children, as well Protestants as papists of such popish parents then born, or after to be born, as the said court of Chancery in manner aforesaid shall order for them respectively; such portions not to exceed the value of one-third part of the inheritance of such estate, which shall be held and enjoyed accordingly, discharged of all voluntary settlements made by such parent, and also of all sales and incumbrances made by him after such enrollment of such certificate: and the said court of Chancery is hereby required to take care that distinct rolls be kept for enrollment of such certificates, which shall publicly hang up or lie in some public office or place belonging to the said court, for the purpose by the said court to be appointed, where all persons may at all seasonable times resort to and peruse the same without fee or reward; and for the enrollment of each and every such certificate the sum of six pence, and no more, shall be paid.

IV. And that care may be taken for the education of children in the communion of the Church of Ireland as by law established; be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that no person of the popish religion shall or may be guardian unto, or have the tuition or custody of, any orphan, child or children, under the age of twenty-one years; but that the same, where the person having or entitled to the guardianship of such orphan, child or children, is or shall be a papist, shall be disposed of by the high court of Chancery to some near relation of such orphan, child, or children, being a Protestant, and conforming himself to the Church of Ireland as by law established, to whom the estate cannot defend, in case there shall be any such Protestant relation fit to have the education of such child; otherwise to some other Protestant conforming himself as aforesaid, who is hereby required to use his utmost care to educate and bring up such child or minor in the Protestant religion until the age of twenty one years: and the said court of Chancery is hereby empowered and required, and by virtue of this act it shall and may be lawful for the said court, to make such order for the educating in the Protestant religion the child and children of any papist, where either the father or the mother of such child or children is or shall be a Protestant till the age of eighteen years of every such child, as to that court shall seem meet; and in order thereto to limit and appoint where, and in what manner, and by whom, such child or children shall be educated; and the father of such child or children shall pay the charges of such education as shall be directed by the said court; and such child or children shall and may be taken from such popish parent for education according to such order: and if any person or person, being a papist or professing the popish religion, shall take upon him or them the guardianship or tuition of any orphan, child, or child, contrary hereunto, he and they, so taking upon him or them the guardianship or tuition of any such child, shall forfeit the sum of five hundred pounds to be recovered by action of debt, bill, plaint or information, wherein no protection, essoigne, or wager of law shall be allowed, or but one imparlance; the whole benefit of the said forfeitures to be, and is hereby, given to the Blue-Coat Hospital in the city of Dublin.

VI. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that every papist, or person professing the popish religion, shall from and after the said twentyfourth day of March be disabled, and is hereby made incapable, to buy and purchase either in his or their own name, or in the name of any other person or person to his or her use, or in trust for him or her, any manors, lands, tenements or hereditaments, or any rents or profits out of the same, or any leases or terms thereof, other than any term of years not exceeding thirty-one years, whereon a rent not less than two-thirds of the improved yearly value, at the time of the making such leases of the tenements leased, shall be reserved and made payable during such term; and that all singular estates, terms, or any other interests or profits whatsoever, other than such leases, not exceeding thirty-one years as aforesaid, of, in, or out of such lands, tenements, or hereditaments, from and after the said twenty-fourth day of March, to be bought and purchased by or for the use or behoof of any such papist, or person or persons professing the popish religion, or upon any trust or confidence mediately or immediately to or for the benefit, use, or advantage of any such person or persons professing the popish religion, shall be utterly void and of none effect to all intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.

VII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the first day of February, in this present year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and three, no papist, or person professing the popish religion, who shall not within six months after he and she shall become entitled to enter, or to take, or have the profits by descent, or by virtue of any devise or gift, or of any remainder already limited, or at any time hereafter to be limited, or by virtue of any trust of any lands, tenements, or hereditaments, whereof any Protestant now is, or hereafter shall be, seized in fee simple absolute, or fee-tail, or in such manner that after his death, or the death of him and his wife, the freehold is to come immediately to his son or sons, or issue in tail, if then of the age of eighteen years, or if under, within six months after he shall attain that age, until which time from his being so entitled he shall be under the care of such Protestant relation or person conforming himself as aforesaid, as shall for that purpose be appointed by the high court of Chancery for his being educated in the Protestant religion, become a Protestant, and conform himself to the church now established in this kingdom, shall take any benefit by reason of such descent, devise, gift, remainder, or trust, but from thenceforth during the life of such person, or until he or she do become a Protestant, and conform as aforesaid, the nearest Protestant relation or relations, or other Protestant or Protestants, and his and their heirs, being and continuing Protestants, who shall and would be entitled to the same in case such person professing the popish religion, and not conforming as aforesaid, and all and other intermediate popish relations and popish persons were actually dead; and his and their heirs shall have and enjoy the said lands, tenements, and hereditaments, without being accountable for the profits to be received during such enjoyment thereof; subject nevertheless to such charges, other than such as shall be made by such disabled person, and in such condition as the disabled person would have held and enjoyed the same; the children of papists being to be taken to be papists, till they shall by their conformity to the established church appear to be Protestants; and also subject to such maintenance as the Lord Chancellor, Lord Keeper, or Commissioners of the Great Seal of Ireland, for the time being shall think fit to allow to the children of such papist, until such children attain their respective ages of eighteen years.

X. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all lands, tenements, or hereditaments, whereof any papist now is, or hereafter shall be, seized in fee-simple or fee-tail, shall from henceforth, so long as any papist shall be seized of or entitled to the same in fee-simple or fee-tail, be of the nature of gavelkind; and if not sold, aliened, or disposed of by such papist in his life time for good and valuable consideration of money really and bona fide paid, shall for such estate from such papist descend to, and be inherited by, all and every the sons of such papist any way inheritable to such estate, share and share alike, and not descend on or come to the eldest of such sons only, being a papist, as heir at law; and shall in like manner from such respective sons, being papists, descend to and be inherited by all and every the sons of such sons, share and share alike, and not descend to the eldest of such sons, being a papist, as heir at law only; and that for want to issue male of such papist, the same shall descend to all his daughters any way inheritable to such estate in equal proportions; and for want for such issue, among the collateral kindred of such papist, of the kin of his father, any way inheritable to such estate in equal degree; and for want of such kindred, to the collateral kindred of such papist of the kin of his mother, any way inheritable to such estate, and not otherwise; notwithstanding any grant, settlement, or disposition by will or otherwise, that shall be made by such papist, otherwise than such sale, alienation, or disposition, to be made by such papist as aforesaid; subject nevertheless to all such debts and real incumbrances at the time of the decease of such papist charging such estate.

XI. Provided nevertheless, it shall and may be lawful to and for such papist to charge such his estate with reasonable maintenances and portions for his daughters, to be raised and paid in such manner as he shall direct.

XII. Provided always, that if the eldest son or heir at law of such papist shall be a Protestant at the time of the decease of such papist, whose heir he shall be, such certificate of such eldest son, being a Protestant, not having been enrolled in the life of such papist, the lands, whereof such papist shall be so seized, shall descend to such eldest son or heir at law according to the rules of the common law of this realm, so as such certificate of the bishop's as aforesaid, be enrolled within three months after the decease of such papist in the said court of Chancery; subject nevertheless to such debts and real incumbrances at the time of the decease of such papist charging such estate: and if the eldest son or heir at law of any such papist, who shall at the time of decease of such papist, whose heir he is, be of the age of one and twenty years, shall become a Protestant and conform himself to the church of Ireland, as by law established, within one years after such decease of such papist, or being then under the age of one and twenty years, shall within one year after he shall attain that age become a Protestant, and conform himself as aforesaid, that then from the time of the enrollment in the court of Chancery of the certificate of the bishop of the diocese, in which he shall inhabit, testifying his being a Protestant, and conforming as aforesaid, in manner aforesaid, such enrollment being made within such year, he shall be entitled to, and shall have, and enjoy from thenceforth the whole real estate of such papist, as he might have done if he had been a Protestant at the time of the decease of such papist, whose heir he is; notwithstanding any grant, settlement, or disposition by will or otherwise, that shall be made by such papist, other than such sale, alienation, or disposition, to be made by such papist as aforesaid; subject nevertheless to such debts and real incumbrances at the decease of such papist charging such estate: and in every case where such eldest son shall be entitled as aforesaid by reason of his being a Protestant, such real estate shall be chargeable and charged with such sum and sums of money for the maintenance and portions of the daughters and younger sons of such papist, as the court of Chancery shall direct and appoint to be raised for them, and shall be raised and paid according to such direction; such portions not to exceed the value of one third part such estate.

XV. Provided always, that no person shall take benefit by this act as a Protestant within the intent and meaning hereof, that shall not conform to the Church of Ireland as by law established, and subscribe the declaration, and also take and subscribe the oath of abjuration following, viz.

I A.B. 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. And I so solemnly, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do make this declaration, and every part there of, in the plain and ordinary sense of the words read unto me, as they are commonly understood by Protestants, without any evasion equivocation, or mental reservation whatsoever; and without any dispensation already granted me for this purpose by the Pope, or any other authority or person whatsoever, or without any hope of dispensation from any person or authority whatsoever, or without believing that I am, or can, be acquitted before God or man, or absolved of this declaration, or any part thereof, although the Pope or any other person or persons, or power whatsoever should dispense with or annul the same, or declare that it was null and void from the beginning.

I A.B. do truly and sincerely acknowledge, profess, testify, and declare in my conscience, before God and the world, that our Sovereign Lady Queen Anne is lawful and rightful Queen of this realm, and of all other her Majesty's dominions and countries thereunto belonging. And I do solemnly and sincerely declare, that I do believe in my conscience, that the person pretended to be Prince of Wales, during the life of the late King James, and since his decease, pretending to be, and taking upon himself the style and title of King of England, by the name of James the third, hath not any right or title whatsoever to the crown of this realm, or any other the dominions thereto belonging: and I do renounce, refuse, and abjure, any allegiance or obedience to him. And I do swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to her Majesty queen Anne, and her will defend to the utmost of my power against all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever, which shall be made against her person, crown, or dignity. And I will do my best endeavour to disclose and make known to her Majesty, and her successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies, which I shall know to be against her or any of them. And I do faithfully promise to the utmost of my power to support, maintain, and defend the limitation and succession of the crown against him the said James, and all other persons whatsoever, as the same is and stands limited by an act, entitled An act declaring the rights and liberties of the subject, and settling the succession of the crown, to her present Majesty, and the heirs of her body being Protestants: and as the same by one other act entitled An act for the further limitation of the crown, and better securing the rights and liberties of the subject, is and stands limited, after the decease of her Majesty, and for default of issue of her Majesty, to the princess Sophia, Electoress and Duchess of Hanover, and the heirs of her body being Protestants. And all these things I do plainly and sincerely acknowledge and swear, according to these express words by me spoken, and according to the plain and common sense and understanding of the same words, without any equivocation, mental evasion, or secret reservation whatsoever. And I do make this recognition, acknowledgment, abjuration, renunciation, and promise, heartily, willingly, and truly, upon the true faith of a Christian.

So help me God.

XVII. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that all and every person and persons, that shall be admitted, entered, placed, or taken into any office or offices, civil or military, or shall receive any pay, salary, fee, or wages belonging to or by reason of any office or place of trust, by reason of any patent or grant from her Majesty, or shall have command or place of trust from or under her Majesty, or any of her predecessors or successors, or by her or their authority, or by authority derived from her or them, within this realm of Ireland, after the first day of Easter-term aforesaid, shall take the said oaths and repeat the said declaration, and subscribe the said oaths and declaration, in one of the said respective courts in the next term, or at the general quarter-sessions for that county, barony, or place, where he or they shall reside, next after his or their respective admittance or admittances into any such office or offices as aforesaid, after such his or their admittance or admittances into the said office or offices, employment or employments aforesaid, between the hours aforesaid, and no other; during which time all proceedings shall cease aforesaid: and that all and every such person or persons to be admitted after the said first day of Easter-term as aforesaid, not having taken the said oaths in one of the said courts, and subscribed the same and the said declaration as aforesaid, shall in the next term, or at the general quarter-sessions for that county, barony, or place, where he or they shall reside, next after such his or their respective admittance or admittances into any of the said respective offices or employments aforesaid, after such his or their admittance or admittances into the said office or offices, employment or employments aforesaid, take the said several and respective oaths, and make and repeat the said declaration, and subscribe his name, or make his mark, under the said oaths and declaration, in one of the respective courts aforesaid, between the hours aforesaid, and no other; during which time all proceedings shall cease as aforesaid: and all and every such person and persons, so to be admitted as aforesaid, shall also receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the usage of the Church of Ireland, within three months after his or their admittance in or receiving their said authority and employments in some public church, upon the Lord's-day commonly called Sunday, immediately after divine service and sermon: and every of the said respective persons, touching whom the said several provisions are here before made, in the respective court, where he or she takes the said oaths, shall first deliver a certificate of such his or her receiving the said sacrament as aforesaid, under the hands of the respective minister and church-wardens; and shall then make proof of the truth thereof by two credible witnesses at the least, upon oath: all which shall be enquired of and put upon record in their respective courts.

XVIII. And be it further enacted, that all and every the person or persons aforesaid, who do or shall refuse or neglect to take the said oaths and sacrament, and to deliver such a certificate of his receiving the sacrament as aforesaid, or to subscribe the said declaration as aforesaid, in one of the said courts and places, and at the respective times aforesaid, shall be ipso facto adjudged incapable and disabled in law to all intents and purposes whatsoever to have, occupy, or enjoy the said office or offices, employment or employments, or any part of them, or any matter or thing aforesaid, or any profit or advantage appertaining to them, or any of them; and every such office and place; employment and employments shall be void, and is hereby adjudged void; and that all and every such person or persons, that shall neglect or refuse to take the said oaths or the sacrament as aforesaid, and make and subscribe such declaration, and deliver such certificate of his receiving the sacrament as aforesaid, within the times and in the places aforesaid, and in the manner aforesaid, and yet after such neglect or refusal shall execute any of the said offices or employments after the said times expired, wherein he or they ought to have taken the said oaths, and made and subscribed the said declaration, and being thereupon lawfully convicted in or upon any information, presentment, or indictment in any of her Majesty's courts in Dublin, or at the assizes, every such person and persons shall be disabled from thenceforth to sue or use any action, bill, plaint, or information, in court of law, or to prosecute in any suit in any court of equity, or to be guardian of any child, or executor or administrator of any person, or capable of any legacy or deed or gift, or to bear any office within this realm, and shall forfeit the sum of five hundred pounds, to be recovered by him or them that shall sue for the same; to be prosecuted by any action of debt, suit, bill, plaint, or information in any of her Majesty's said courts in Dublin, wherein no essoign, protection, or wager of law shall lie.

XXIV. And for the preventing Papists having it in their power to breed dissention amongst Protestants by voting at elections of members of Parliament; be it further enacted by the authorities aforesaid, that from and after the twenty-fourth day of March one thousand seven hundred and three, no freeholder, burgess, freeman, or inhabitant of this kingdom, being a Papist or professing the Popish religion, shall at any time hereafter be capable of giving his or their vote for the electing of knights of any shires or counties within this kingdom, or citizens or burgesses to serve in any succeeding Parliament, without first repairing to the general quarter-sessions of the peace to be holden for the counties, cities, or boroughs wherein such Papist do inhabit and dwell, and there voluntarily take the oath of allegiance in the words following, viz.

I A.B. do sincerely promise and swear, that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to her Majesty Queen Anne.

So help me God, &c.

And also the oath of abjuration aforesaid: and after the taking of the said several oaths aforesaid, the clerk of the peace, officiating in the sessions, shall and is by this act directed to enter the same upon record in the rolls of the said sessions; and is hereby empowered and required to give and deliver to such person or persons, so taking the said oaths, a certificate of such persons so taking and subscribing the same, for which certificate the sum of one shilling, and no more, shall be paid; which said certificate being produced to the high sheriff of the said county, or any of his deputies at any such elections for knights of the shire, and to the respective chief officer or officers of any city, town corporate, or borough in this kingdom, to whom the return of any citizen or burgess to serve in Parliament doth or shall respectively belong, he or they shall be permitted to vote as amply and fully as any Protestant freeholder, burgess, or freeman, or inhabitant of the said county, city, or borough; but in case any freeholder, burgess, free-man, or inhabitant, being a papist, shall appear at any such election as aforesaid, and tender himself to be polled for any candidate, who shall stand for knight of the shire, citizen, or burgess to service in any ensuing Parliament, without producing such certificate as aforesaid to the said sheriff or other officer or officers as aforesaid, the said sheriff or other officer or officers, to whom such return doth or shall respectively belong, shall reject such person, and absolutely refuse to enter his vote, as if he were no freeholder of the said county, or burgess, freeman, or inhabitant of the said city or borough; any former law, statute, or usage, to the contrary notwithstanding.

XXVI. And whereas the superstitions of Popery are greatly increased and upheld by the pretended sanctity of places, especially of a place called Saint Patrick's purgatory in the county of Donegal, and of wells, to which pilgrimages are made by vast numbers at certain seasons; by which not only the peace of the public is greatly disturbed, but the safety of the government also hazarded, by the riotous and unlawful assembling together of many thousands of papists to the said wells and other places; be it further, enacted, That all such meetings and assemblies shall be deemed and adjudged riots and unlawful assemblies, and punishable as such in all or any persons meeting at such places as aforesaid; and all sheriffs, justices of the peace, and other magistrates are hereby required to be diligent in putting the laws in force against all offenders in the above particulars in due execution.

Statutes at Large Passed in the Parliaments Held in Ireland, 1310–1800 (1786–1801), vol. 4, pp. 12–31.

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