William and Mary, 1694: An Act for the more effectuall suppressing prophane Cursing and Swearing. [Chapter XI. Rot. Parl. pt. 4. nu. I.]

Pages 591-592

Statutes of the Realm: Volume 6, 1685-94. Originally published by Great Britain Record Commission, s.l, 1819.

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In this section

Recital of 21 Jac. I. c. 20.

Persons swearing; Penalties according to the Degrees of the Persons.

Whereas it is found by experience that an Act of Parliament made in the One and twentieth yeare of the reigne of King James the First entituled An Act to prevent and reforme prophane [cursing and swearing (fn. 1) ] hath proved ineffectual to the suppressing ( (fn. 2) ) those detestable sins by reason of some deficiencies in the said Act Bee it therefore enacted by the Kings most excellent Majestie by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Co[m]mons in this present Parliament assembled and by the authority of the same That if any person or persons shall (after the Foure and twentieth day of June in the yeare of our Lord One thousand six hundred ninety five) prophanely sweare or curse in the presence or hearing of any Justice of Peace of the County Riding or Division or of the Mayor or other Head Officer or Justice of Peace for any City or Towne Corporate where such offence is or shall bee committed or that shall [thereof bee (fn. 3) ] convicted by oath of one witnesse or by the confession of the party offending before any Justice of Peace of the County or Mayor or Bayliffe or other Chief Officer or Justice of Peace of such City or Towne Corporate where the said offence shall bee co[m]mitted that then for every such offence the party soe offending shall forfeit and pay to the use of the poor of the Parish where such offence or offences shall bee co[m]mitted the respective su[m]ms herein after menc[i]oconed (that is to say) Every servant day labourer common soldier and co[m]mon seaman One shilling and every other person Two shillings and in case any of the persons aforesaid shall after conviction offend a second time such person shall forfeit and pay double and if a third time treble the su[m]m respectively by him or her to bee paid for the first offence.

II. Penalties to be levied by Distress.

If no Distress, Offender to be put in the Stocks; Offender under 16 not paying the Penalty, to be whipped.

And it is hereby further enacted That upon neglect or refusal of payment of the said forfeiture any Justice of Peace of the County Riding or Division or Mayor or other Head Officer or Justice of Peace of any City or Towne Corporate where the said offences shall bee co[m]mitted shall and are hereby authorized and required to direct and send his warrant to the Constable Tythingman Church warden or Overseer of the Poor of the Parish where the offence shall bee committed or where the Offender shall inhabitt thereby commanding them or some one or more of them to levy by distresse and sale of the Goods of the offender the su[m]m soe forfeited for the use of the Poor of the Parish as aforesaid and in case noe such distresse can bee had then every such offender being above the age of Sixteen yeares shall by warrant under the hand and seale of the said Justice of Peace or other Officer as aforesaid bee publickly sett in the stocks for the space of one houre for every single offence and for any number of offences whereof hee shall bee convicted att one and the same time then two hours and if the party offending bee under the age of Sixteen years and shall not forthwith pay the said forfeitures then hee or shee shall by warrant as aforesaid bee whipped by the Constable or by the Parent Guardian or Master of such Offender in the presence of the Constable.

III. Justice of Peace, &c. not executing the Act; Penalty £5.

And bee it further enacted That if any Justice of the Peace or Chief Magistrate shall wilfully and wittingly omitt the performance of his duty in the execution of this Act hee shall forfett the su[m]m of Five pounds the one moiety to the use of. the informer to bee recovered by Action Suit Bill or Plaint in any of his Majesties Courts att Westminster wherein noe Essoigne Protection or Wager of Law shall bee allowed nor any more then one Imparlance.

IV. Action for executing Act, General Issue, &c.

Treble Costs.

And it is hereby further enacted That if any action or suit shall bee co[m]menced or brought against any Justice of Peace Constable or other Officer or Person whatsoever for doeing or causing to bee done any thing in pursuance of this Act concerning the said offences the [the (fn. 4) ] Defendant in such Action may plead the General Issue and give the special matter in evidence And if upon such Action verdict bee given for the defendant or the Plaintiffe become nonsuit or discontinue his Action then the Defendant shall have treble costs.

V. Limitation of Actions.

Provided always and it is hereby enacted That noe person shall bee prosecuted or troubled for any offence against this Statute unlesse the same bee proved or prosecuted within Ten days next after the offence committed.

VI. Act to be read Four Times a Year in Churches.

And it is further enacted by the authority aforesaid That this Act shall bee publickly read Foure several times in the yeare in all Parish Churches and all publick Chappells by the Parson Vicar or Curate of the respective Parishes or Chapples immediately after Morning Prayer on Foure several Sundays (that is to say) the Sunday next after the Foure and twentieth day of June the Nine and twentieth day of September the Five and twentieth day of December & the Five and twentieth day of March under the pain of Twenty shillings for every such omission or neglect.

VII. Justices, &c. to register Convictions, and certify to Quarter Sessions.

And bee it further enacted by the authority aforesaid That the Justice of Peace Mayor or other Head Officer shall register in a Book to bee kept for that purpose all the convictions made before him upon this Act and the time of making thereof and for what offence and shall certifie the same to the next general Quarter Sessions of the Peace for the said County or Place where the offences are committed to bee there kept upon record by the respective Clerks of the Peace to bee seen without fee or reward.


  • 1. swearing and cursing O.
  • 2. of O.
  • 3. be thereof O.
  • 4. O. omits.