Charles II, 1662: An Act for preventing the Mischeifs and Dangers that may arise by certaine Persons called Quakers and others refusing to take lawfull Oaths.

Pages 350-351

Statutes of the Realm: Volume 5, 1625-80. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1819.

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Recital that Quakers have maintained that the taking an Oath is unlawful, and refused to take Oath; and that they met together to the endangering the public Peace.

Any Person maintaining such Doctrines, refusing to take lawful Oath; or by printing, & maintaining such Doctrine; if such Persons depart from their Habitations, and assemble to the Number of Five, &c; First Offence, Penalty.; Second Offence, Penalty.; Distress.; If no Distress, or Non-payment of Penalty.; Imprisonment for First Offence.; For Second Offence.; Penalties how employed.; Third Offence, Abjuration of the Realm, or Transportation.

Whereas of late times certaine persons under the names of Quakers and other names of Separation have taken up and maintained sundry dangerous Opinions and Tenents and (amongst others) that the taking of an Oath in any case whatsoever although before a lawfull Magistrate is altogeather unlawfull and contrary to the word of God and the said persons do daily refuse to take an Oath though lawfully tendred whereby it often happens that the truth is wholly suppressed and the Administration of Justice much obstructed And whereas the said Persons under a pretence of Religious Worship do often assemble themselves in great numbers in several parts of this Realm to the great endangering of the Publick Peace and Safety and to the terror of the People by maintaining a secret 'and' strict correspondence amongst themselves and in the meane time separating and dividing themselves from the rest of his Majesties good and loyall Subjects and from the Pubilick Congregations and usual Places of Divine Worshipp. For the redressing therefore and better preventing the many mischeifs and dangers that do and may arise by such dangerous Tenents and such unlawful Assemblies Be it enacted by the Kings most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Comons assembled in Parliament and by Authoritie of the same That if any person or persons who maintain that the taking of an Oath in any case whatsoever (although before a lawfull Magistrate) is altogeather unlawfull and contrary to the word of God from and after the Foure and twentieth day of March in this present yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred sixty and one shall wilfully and obstinately refuse to take an Oath where by the Laws of the Realm he or she is or shal be bound to take the same being lawfully and duly tendred or shall endeavour to perswade any other person to whom any such Oath shal in like manner be duly and lawfully tendred to refuse and forbeare the taking of the same or shall by Printing Writing or otherwise go about to maintaine and defend that the taking of an Oath in any case whatsoever is altogeather unlawful And if the said persons comonly called Quakers shall at any time after the said foure and twentieth day of March depart from the places of theire severall habitations and assemble themselves to the number of five or more of the age of sixteen yeares or upwards at any one time in any place under pretence of joyning in a Religious Worship not authorized by the Lawes of this Realm that then in al and every such cases the party so offending being thereof lawfully convict by verdict of twelve men or by his owne confession. or by the notorious evidence of the fact shall loose and forfeit to the Kings Majesty His Heires and Successors for the first offence such su[m]m as shall be imposed upon him or her not exceeding five pounds And if any person or persons being once convicted of any such offence shall againe offend therein and shall inform aforesaid be thereof lawfully convicted shall for the second offence forfeit to the King our Soveraigne Lord His Heires and Successors such su[m]m as shall be imposed upon him or her not exceeding ten pounds The said respective penalties to be levied by distresse and sale of the parties goods so convicted by warrant of the parties before whom they shall be so convicted rendring the overplus to the owners if any be and for want of such distresse or non payment of the said penalty within one weeke after such conviction that then the said parties so convicted shall for the [first (fn. 1) ] offence be co[m]mmitted to the Co[m]mon Goal or house of Correction for the space of three monthes and for the second offence during six monthes without baile or Mainprise there to be kept at hard labour which said moneys soe to be levied shall be paid to such person or persons as shall be appointed by those before whom they shall be convicted to be imployed for the increase of the stock of the house of correction to which they shall be committed and providing materials to set them on worke And if any person after he in form aforesaid hath been twice convict of any of the said offences shall offend the third time and be thereof in form aforesaid lawfully convict that then every person so offending & convict shall for his or her third offence abjure the Realme or otherwise it shall and may bee lawfull to and for His Majestie His Heires and Successors to give order and to cause him [her (fn. 1) ] or them to be transported in any Ship or Ships to any of His Majesties Plantations beyond the Seas.

II. Justices of Oyer and Terminer, & at General Scssions may determine Offences.

And it is ordained and enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all and every [Justice (fn. 2) ] of Oyer and Terminer Justices of Assize and Goal Delivery and the Justices of the Peace shall have full Power and Authority in every of theire open and general Sessions to enquire heare and determine all and every the said Offences within the limits of theire Commission to them directed and to make Processe for the execution of the same as they may do against any person being indicted before them of Trespas or lawfully convicted thereof

III. Justices of Peace, Mayors, & may commit or bind over.

And be it alsoe enacted That it shall and may be lawfull to and for any Justice of Peace Maior or other cheife Officer of any Corporation within theire several Jurisdictions to commit to the Co[m]mmon Goal or bind over with sufficient Sureties to the Quarter Sessions any person or persons offending in the Premisses in order to his or theire conviction aforesaid

IV. Proviso for Persons convicted taking the Oaths and giving Security.

Provided alwaies and be it hereby further enacted That if any of the said persons shall after such conviction as aforesaid take such Oath or Oathes for which hee or shee stands committed and alsoe give security that he or she shall for the time to come forbear to meet in any such unlawfull Assembly as aforesaid that then and from thence forth such person and persons shall be discharged from all the penalties aforesaid Any thing in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding

V. Lords of Parliament tried by their Peers.

Provided alwaies and be it ordained and enacted by the Authority aforesaid That all and singuler Lords of the Parliament for every third offence committed against the tenor of this Act shall be tried by theire Peers and not otherwise.


  • 1. interlined on the Roll.
  • 2. Justices O.