Act of Settlement

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Settlement, Act of, 1701. This statute, 12 & 13 Wm. III c. 2, is strange and betrays the mixed motives of its authors. The immediate problem was to provide for the protestant succession after the death of Anne's son, the duke of Gloucester, in July 1700. This was done by putting aside more than 50 catholic claimants and offering the succession to Sophia, electress of Hanover, a granddaughter of James I. But the Tory majority in Parliament took the opportunity to tack on a number of incongruous clauses designed to limit the powers of the monarch, who was not to leave the country or engage in war without parliamentary approval. Placemen were not to sit in Parliament, judges were to hold office on good behaviour, and government business was to be conducted in the Privy Council, where counsellors were to sign their advice. Royal pardons were not to be issued against impeachments. The clauses devoted to the succession took effect in 1714, when Queen Anne was succeeded by Sophia's son George I. The other clauses were either repealed or circumvented. The clause forbidding placemen to sit in Parliament, which would have divorced legislature and executive, was nullified by the clumsy device of re-election on taking office.

J. A. Cannon

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Settlement, Act of (1701) English parliamentary statute regulating the succession to the throne. The purpose of the Act was to prevent the restoration of the Catholic Stuart monarchy, the last surviving child of Queen Anne having died. It settled the succession on Sophia of Hanover, granddaughter of James I, and her heirs, providing they were Protestants. The throne was inherited (1714) by Sophia's son, the future George I.

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Settlement, Act of a statute of 1701 that vested the British Crown in Sophia of Hanover (granddaughter of James I of England and VI of Scotland) and her Protestant heirs, so excluding Roman Catholics, including the Stuarts, from the succession. Sophia's son became George I.

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