Papists Act 1778

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Papists Act 1778
Coat of Arms of Great Britain (1714-1801).svg
Citation 18 George III c. 60
Introduced by Lord North
Royal assent 1778
Commencement 1778
Other legislation
Repealed by Promissory Oaths Act 1871
Status: Repealed

The Papists Act of 1778 is an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain (18 George III c. 60) and was the first Act for Roman Catholic relief. Later in 1778 It was also enacted by the Parliament of Ireland.


Before the Act, a number of "Penal laws" had been enacted in Britain and Ireland, which varied between the jurisdictions from time to time but effectively excluded those known to be Roman Catholics from public life.

Effect of the Act

By this Act, an oath was imposed, which besides a declaration of loyalty to the reigning sovereign, contained an abjuration of the Pretender, and of certain doctrines attributed to Roman Catholics, such as that excommunicated princes may lawfully be murdered, that no faith should be kept with heretics, and that the Pope had temporal as well as spiritual jurisdiction in Great Britain. [1]

Those taking this oath were exempted from some of the provisions of the Popery Act 1698. Although it did not grant freedom of worship, it allowed Catholics to join the army and purchase land if they took an oath of allegiance. [2] The section as to taking and prosecuting priests was repealed, as well as the penalty of perpetual imprisonment for keeping a school. Roman Catholics were also enabled to inherit and purchase land, nor was an heir who conformed to the Established church any longer empowered to enter and enjoy the estate of his "papist" kinsman. [3]

The passing of this act was the occasion of the Gordon Riots (1780) in which the violence of the mob was especially directed against Lord Mansfield, who had objected to various prosecutions under the statutes now repealed.

This Act remained on the statute book until it was repealed by the Promissory Oaths Act 1871 (c.48).

See also

Notes and references

  1. List of oath-takers under the 1778 Act Archived 2009-06-11 at the Wayback Machine
  2. "Catholic Relief Acts", Parliament UK
  3. Gerard, John, and Edward D'Alton. "Roman Catholic Relief Bill." The Catholic Encyclopedia Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 18 March 2020PD-icon.svgThis article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

PD-icon.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Roman Catholic Relief Bill". Catholic Encyclopedia . New York: Robert Appleton.


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