Act Against Jesuits and Seminarists
27 Elizabeth, Cap. 2
Gee, Henry, and William John Hardy, ed.,
Documents Illustrative of English Church History
(New York: Macmillan, 1896), 485-92.
Hanover Historical Texts Project
Scanned and proofread by Heather Haralson, May 1998.
Posted by Raluca Preotu, July 1999.
Proofread and pages added by Jonathan Perry, March 2001.
THIS Act was the first passed directly against Jesuits and Seminarists, although they virtually came under the penalties of the Elizabethan Supremacy Act (ante, No. LXXIX), and also under the Acts 5 Eliz. cap. I, and 13 Eliz. cap. I, sec. I. The present Act was stringently reinforced by I Jac. I, cap. 4, 'For the due execution of the Statutes against Jesuits, Seminary Priests,' &c. Proclamations were issued expelling Roman Catholic priests in 1604, 1606, and 1625. After this time the special anti-Jesuit laws slumbered until 13 Anne, cap. 13, vested the punishment of Jesuits in Scotland in the Lords of Justiciary.
[Transcr. Statutes of the Realm, iv. pt. i. p. 706.]
Whereas divers persons called or professed Jesuits, seminary priests, and other priests, which have been, and from time to time are made in the parts beyond the seas, by or according to the order and rites of the Romish Church, have of late years come and been sent, and daily do come and are sent, into this realm of England and other the queen's majesty's dominions, of purpose (as has appeared, as well by sundry of their own examinations and confessions, as by divers other manifest means and proofs) not only to withdraw her highness's subjects from their due obedience to her majesty, but also to stir up and move sedition, rebellion, and open hostility within the same her highness's realms and dominions, to the great endangering of the safety of her most royal person, and to the utter ruin, desolation, and overthrow of the whole realm, if the same be not the sooner by some good means foreseen and prevented:
For reformation whereof be it ordained, established, and [Page 486] enacted by the queen's most excellent majesty, and the Lords spiritual and temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same Parliament, that all and every Jesuits, seminary priests, and other priests whatsoever made or ordained out of the realm of England or other her highness's dominions, or within any of her majesty's realms or dominions, by any authority, power, or jurisdiction derived, challenged, or pretended from the see of Rome, since the feast of the Nativity of St. John Baptist in the first year of her highness's reign, shall within forty days next after the end of this present session of Parliament depart out of this realm of England, and out of all other her highness's realms and dominions, if the wind, weather, and passage shall serve for the same, or else so soon after the end of the said forty days as the wind, weather, and passage shall so serve.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall not be lawful to or for any Jesuit, seminary priest, or other such priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person whatsoever, being born within this realm, or any other her highness's dominions, and heretofore since the said feast of the Nativity of St. John Baptist, in the first year of her majesty's reign, made, ordained, or professed, or here after to be made, ordained, or professed, by any authority or jurisdiction derived, challenged, or pretended from the see of Rome, by or of what name, title, or degree soever the same shall be called or known, to come into, be, or remain in any part of this realm, or any other her highness's dominions, after the end of the same forty days, other than in such special cases, and upon such special occasions only, and for such time only, as is expressed in this Act; and if he do, that then every such offence shall be taken and adjudged to be high treason; and every person so offending shall for his offence be adjudged a traitor, and shall suffer, lose, and forfeit, as in case of high treason.
[Page 487] And every person which after the end of the same forty days, and after such time of departure as is before limited and appointed, shall wittingly and willingly receive, relieve, comfort, aid, or maintain any such Jesuit, seminary priest, or other priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person, as is aforesaid, being at liberty, or out of hold, knowing him to be a Jesuit, seminary priest, or other such priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person, as is aforesaid, shall also for such offence be adjudged a felon, without benefit of clergy, and suffer death, lose, and forfeit, as in case of one attainted of felony.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, if any of her majesty's subjects (not being a Jesuit, seminary priest, or other such priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person, as is before mentioned) now being, or which hereafter shall be of, or brought up in, any college of Jesuits, or seminary already erected or ordained, or hereafter to be erected or ordained, in the parts beyond the seas, or out of this realm in any foreign parts, shall not within six months next after proclamation in that behalf to be made in the city of London, under the great seal of England, return into this realm, and thereupon within two days next after such return, before the bishop of the diocese, or two justices of peace of the county where he shall arrive, submit himself to her majesty and her laws, and take the oath set forth by Act in the first year of her reign; that then every such person which shall otherwise return, come into, or be in this realm or any other her highness's dominions, for such offence of returning or being in this realm or any other her highness's dominions, without submission, as aforesaid, shall also be adjudged a traitor, and suffer, lose and forfeit, as in case of high treason.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, if any person under her majesty's subjection or obedience shall at any time after the end of the said forty days, by [Page 488] way of exchange, or by any other shift, way, or means whatsoever, wittingly and willingly, either directly or indirectly, convey, deliver or send, or cause or procure to be conveyed or delivered, to be sent over the seas, or out of this realm, or out of any other her majesty's dominions or territories, into any foreign parts, or shall otherwise wittingly or willingly yield, give, or contribute any money or other relief to or for any Jesuit, seminary priest, or such other priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person, as is aforesaid, or to or for the maintenance or relief of any college of Jesuits, or seminary already erected or ordained, or hereafter to be erected or ordained, in any the parts beyond the seas, or out of this realm in any foreign parts, or of any person then being of or in any the same colleges or seminaries, and not returned into this realm with submission, as in this Act is expressed, and continuing in the same realm: that then every such person so offending, for the same offence shall incur the danger and penalty of a Praemunire, mentioned in the Statute of Praemunire, made in the sixteenth year of the reign of King Richard II.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall not be lawful for any person of or under her highness's obedience, at any time after the said forty days, during her majesty's life (which God long preserve) to send his or her child, or other person, being under his or her government, into any the parts beyond the seas out of her highness's obedience, without the special licence of her majesty, or of four of her highness's privy council, under their hands in that behalf first had or obtained (except merchants, for such only as they or any of them shall send over the seas only for or about his, her, or their trade of merchandise, or to serve as mariners, and not otherwise) upon pain to forfeit and lose for every such their offence the sum of one hundred pounds.
And be it also enacted by the authority aforesaid, that [Page 489] every offence to be committed or done against the tenor of this Act shall and may be inquired of, heard and determined, as well in the court commonly called the king's bench in the county where the same court shall for the time be, as also in any other county within this realm, or any other her highness's dominions where the offence is or shall be committed, or where the offender shall be apprehended and taken.
Provided also, and be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that it shall and may be lawful for and to every owner and master of any ship, bark or boat, at any time within the said forty days, or other time before limited for their departure, to transport into any the parts beyond the seas, any such Jesuit, seminary priest, or other priest aforesaid, so as the same Jesuit, seminary priest, or other priest aforesaid so to be transported, do deliver unto the mayor or other chief officer of the town, port or place, where he shall be taken in to be transported, his name, and in what place he received such order, and how long he has remained in this realm, or in any other her highness's dominions, being under her obedience.
Provided also, that this Act, or anything therein contained, shall not in anywise extend to any such Jesuit, seminary priest, or other such priest, deacon, or religious or ecclesiastical person as is before mentioned, as shall at any time within the said forty days, or within three days after that he shall hereafter come into this realm, or any other her highness's dominions, submit himself to some archbishop or bishop of this realm, or to some justice of peace within the county where he shall arrive or land, and do thereupon truly and sincerely, before the same archbishop, bishop, or such justice of peace, take the said oath set forth in anno primo, and by writing under his hand confess and acknowledge, and from thenceforth continue, his due obedience unto her highness's laws, statutes and ordinances, [Page 490] made and provided or to be made or provided in causes of religion.
Provided always, if it happen at any time hereafter any peer of this realm to be indicted of any offence made treason, felony or Praemunire, by this Act, that he shall have his trial by his peers, as in other cases of treason, felony or Praemunire, is accustomed.
Provided nevertheless, and it is declared by authority aforesaid, that if any such Jesuit, seminary priest, or other priests abovesaid, shall fortune to be so weak or infirm of body, that he or they may not pass out of the realm by the time herein limited without imminent danger of life, and this understood as well by the corporal oath of the party as by other good means, unto the bishop of the diocese and two justices of peace of the same county where such person or persons do dwell or abide; that then, and upon good and sufficient bond of the person or persons, with sureties, of the sum of two hundred pounds at the least, with condition that he or they shall be of good behaviour towards our sovereign lady the queen and all her liege people, then he or they so licensed and doing as is aforesaid, shall and may remain and be still within this realm, without any loss or danger to fall on him or them by this Act, for so long time as by the same bishop and justices shall be limited and appointed, so as the same time of abode exceed not the space of six months at the most;
And that no person or persons shall sustain any loss, or incur any danger by this Act, for the receiving or maintaining of any such person or persons so licensed as is aforesaid, for and during such time only as such person or persons shall be so licensed to tarry within this realm, anything contained in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.
And be it also further enacted by authority aforesaid, that every person or persons, being subjects of this realm, [Page 491] which after the said forty days shall know and understand that any such Jesuit, seminary priest, or other priest abovesaid, shall abide, stay, tarry, or be within this realm or other the queen's dominions and countries, contrary to the true meaning of this Act, and shall not discover the same unto some justice of peace or other higher officer, within twelve days next after his said knowledge, but willingly conceal his knowledge therein; that every such offender shall make fine, and be imprisoned at the queen's pleasure. And that if such justice of peace, or other such officer to whom such matter shall be so discovered, do not within eight and twenty days then next following give information thereof to some of the queen's privy council, or to the president or vice-president of the queen's council established in the north, or in the marches of Wales, for the time being; that then he or they so offending shall, for every such offence, forfeit the sum of two hundred marks.
And be it likewise enacted by the authority aforesaid, that such of the privy council, president or vice-president, to whom such information shall be made, shall thereupon deliver a note in writing, subscribed with his own hand, to the party by whom he shall receive such information, testifying that such information was made unto him.
And be it also enacted, that all such oaths, bonds, and submissions, as shall be made by force of this Act, as aforesaid, shall be certified into the chancery by such parties before whom the same shall be made, within three months after such submission; upon pain to forfeit and lose for every such offence one hundred pounds of lawful English money; the said forfeiture to be to the queen, her heirs and successors:
And that if any person so submitting himself, as aforesaid, do at any time within the space of ten years after such submission made, come within ten miles of such place where her majesty shall be, without especial licence from her [Page 492] majesty in that behalf to be obtained in writing under her hand; that then and from thenceforth such person shall take no benefit of the said submission, but that the same submission shall be void as if the same had never been.
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