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VIII

THE CORPORATION ACT. No. 21
(THE FIVE MILE ACT)

17 Charles II. Cap. II., 1665.

An act for restraining Non-conformists from inhabiting in corporations.

Whereas divers parsons, vicars, curates, lecturers, and other persons in holy orders, have not declared their unfeigned assent and consent to the use of all things contained and prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer, and administration of the sacraments and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Church of England; or have not subscribed the declaration or acknowledgment contained in a certain act of parliament made in the fourteenth year of his Majesty's reign, and intituled, An act2 for the uniformity of public prayers and administration of sacraments,

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. . or any other subsequent act: And whereas they, or some of them, and divers other person and persons not ordained according to the form of the Church of England, and as have, since the act of oblivion, taken upon them to preach in unlawful assemblies, conventicles, or meetings, under colour or pretence of exercise of religion, contrary to the laws and statutes of this kingdom, have settled themselves in divers corporations in England, sometimes three or more of them in a place, thereby taking an opportunity to distil the poisonous principles of schism and rebellion into the hearts of his Majesty's subjects, to the great danger of the church and kingdom.

II. Be it therefore enacted . . . That the said parsons, vicars, curates, lecturers, and other persons in holy orders, or pretended holy orders, or pretending to holy orders, and all stipendaries and other persons who have been possessed of any ecclesiastical or spiritual promotion, and every of them, who have not declared their unfeigned assent and consent as aforesaid, and subscribed the declaration aforesaid, and shall not take and subscribe the oath following;

'I, A. B. do swear, That it is not lawful, upon any pretence whatsoever, to take arms against the King; and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissionated by him, in pursuance of such

1 Repealed by 52 Geo. IV. c. 155, § 1. See also p. 184 (for 9 Geo. IV. c. 17). 2 14 Cha. II. c. 4.

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commissions; and that I will not at any time endeavour any alteration of government, either in church or state.'

III. And all such person and persons as shall take upon them to preach in any unlawful assembly, conventicle, or meeting, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion, contrary to the laws and statutes of this kingdom, shall not at any time from and after the four and twentieth day of March which shall be in this present year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred sixty and five, unless only in passing upon the road, come or be within five miles of any city, or town corporate, or borough that sends burgesses to the parliament, within his Majesty's kingdom of England, principality of Wales, or of the town of Berwick upon Tweed, or within five miles of any parish, town, or place wherein he or they have since the Act of Oblivion1 been parson, vicar, curate, stipendary, or lecturer, or taken upon them to preach in any unlawful assembly, conventicle, or meeting, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion, contrary to the laws and statutes of this kingdom; before he or they have taken and subscribed the oath aforesaid, . . . in open court, (which said oath the said justices are hereby impowered there to administer ;) upon forfeiture for every such offence the sum of forty pounds of lawful English money; the one third part thereof to his Majesty and his successors, the other third part to the use of the poor of the parish where the offence shall be committed, and the other third part thereof to such person or persons as shall or will sue for the same. wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of law,

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IV. Provided always, . . . That it shall not be lawful for any person or persons restrained from coming to any city, town corporate, borough, parish, town, or place, as aforesaid, or for any other person or persons as shall not first take and subscribe the said oath, and as shall not frequent divine service established by the laws of this kingdom, and carry him or herself reverently, decently, and orderly there, to teach any public or private school, or to take any boarders or tablers that are taught or instructed by him or herself, or any other; upon pain, for every such offence, to forfeit the sum of forty pounds, to be recovered and distributed as aforesaid.

V. Provided also, . . . That it shall be lawful for any two justices of the peace of the respective county, upon oath to them of any offence against this act, which oath they are hereby impowered to administer, to commit the offender for six months, without bail or mainprize, unless upon or before such commitment he shall, before 1 12 Cha. II. c. 11.

the said justices of the peace, swear and subscribe the aforesaid oath and declaration.

VI. Provided always, That if any person intended to be restrained by virtue of this act, shall without fraud or covin be served with any writ, subpoena, warrant, or other process, whereby his person and appearance is required, his obedience to such writ, subpoena, or process, shall not be construed an offence against this act.

(Hallam, C.H. ii. 329; Ranke, iii. 447; Gneist, E.C. 584; Perry, H.C.E. ch. xxvi.).

IX

THE SECOND CONVENTICLE ACT1
22 Charles II. Cap. 1, 1670.

An Act to prevent and suppress Seditious Conventicles.

I. For providing further and more speedy remedies against the growing and dangerous practices of seditious sectaries and other disloyal persons, who, under pretence of tender consciences, have or may at their meetings contrive insurrections (as late experience has shown), be it enacted . . . that if any person of the age of sixteen years or upwards, being a subject of this realm, at any time after the tenth day of May next shall be present at any assembly, conventicle, or meeting, under colour or pretence of any exercise of religion, in other manner than according to the liturgy and practice of the Church of England, in any place within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, or town of Berwick upon Tweed, at which conventicle, meeting or assembly there shall be five persons or more assembled together, over and above those of the same household, or if it be in a house where there is a family inhabiting, or if it be in a house, field, or place where there is no family inhabiting, then where any five persons or more are so assembled as aforesaid, it shall ... be lawful . . . for any one or more justices of the peace of the county, limit, division, corporation, or liberty. . . and he and they are hereby required and enjoined, upon proof. . . made of such offence, either by confession of party or oath of two witnesses (which oath the said justice and justices of the peace, . . . are hereby. .. required to administer), or by notorious evidence and circumstance

1 Repealed 52 Geo. III. c. 155, § 1.

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of the fact, to make a record of every such offence. . . which record ... shall, to all intents and purposes, be in law . . . a full and perfect conviction of every such offender for such offence; and thereupon the said justice, justices and chief magistrate respectively shall impose, on every such offender, so convicted as aforesaid, a fine of five shillings for such first offence; which record and conviction shall be certified . . . at the next quarter sessions of the peace for the county or place where the offence was committed.

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II. And be it enacted further. . . that if such offender . . . shall, at any time, again commit the like offence or offences contrary to this Act, and be thereof, in manner aforesaid, convicted, then such offender ... shall for every such offence incur the penalty of ten shillings; which fine and fines shall be levied by distress and sale. ...

III. And be it further enacted . . . that every person who shall take upon him to preach or teach in any such meeting, assembly, or conventicle, and shall thereof be convicted as aforesaid, shall forfeit for every such first offence the sum of twenty pounds, to be levied in manner aforesaid upon his goods and chattels; and if the said preacher or teacher . . . be a stranger, and his name and habitation not known, or is fled and cannot be found, or in the judgment of the justice, justices, or chief magistrates, shall be thought unable to pay the same, the said justice, justices, or chief magistrate respectively are hereby empowered and required to levy the same, upon the goods and chattels of any such persons who shall be present at the same conventicle; anything in this or any other Act, law, or statute to the contrary notwithstanding; and the money so levied to be disposed of in manner aforesaid: and if such offender . . . shall at any time again . . . be thereof convicted in manner aforesaid, then such offender so convicted. . . shall . . . incur the penalty of forty pounds, to be levied and disposed as aforesaid.

IV. And be it further enacted . . . that every person who shall wittingly and willingly suffer any such conventicle, meeting, or unlawful assembly aforesaid to be held in his or her house, outhouse, barn, yard, or backside, and be convicted thereof in manner aforesaid, shall forfeit the sum of twenty pounds, to be levied in manner aforesaid.

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And be it further enacted . . . that the justice, justices of the peace, and chief magistrate respectively, or the respective constables, headboroughs, and tithingmen, by warrant. . . shall and may, with what aid, force, and assistance they shall think fit, for the better execution of this Act, after refusal or denial to enter, break open

and enter into any house or other place where they shall be informed any such conventicle as aforesaid is or shall be held, as well within liberties as without, and take into their custody the persons there unlawfully assembled, to the intent they may be proceeded against according to this Act; and that the lieutenants or deputy-lieutenants, or any commissionated officer of the militia, or other of his majesty's forces, with such troops or companies of horse and foot, and also the sheriffs, and other magistrates and ministers of justice, or any of them, jointly or severally, . . . with such other assistance as they shall think meet, or can get in readiness with the soonest, on certificate... of any one justice of the peace or chief magistrate, of his particular information or knowledge of such unlawful meeting or conventicle held or to be held in their respective counties or places, and that he, with such assistance as he can get together, is not able to suppress and dissolve the same, . . . are hereby required and enjoined to repair unto the place . . . and, by the best means they can, to dissolve, dissipate, or prevent all such unlawful meetings, and take into their custody such and so many of the said persons so unlawfully assembled as they shall think fit, to the intent they may be proceeded against according to this Act.

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V. Provided always, that no dwelling house of any peer of this realm, where he or his wife shall then be resident, shall be searched by virtue of this Act, but by immediate warrant from his majesty, under his sign manual, or in the presence of the lieutenant, or one deputy-lieutenant, or two justices of the peace, whereof one to be of the quorum of the same county or riding.

And be it enacted further. that if any constable, headborough, tithingman, churchwarden, or overseer of the poor, who shall know or be credibly informed of any such meetings or conventicles held within his precincts, parish, or limits, and shall not give any information thereof to some justice of the peace or the chief magistrate, and endeavour the conviction of the parties according to his duty, but such constable, headborough, tithingman, churchwarden, overseers of the poor, or person lawfully called in aid of the constable, headborough, or any tithingham, shall wilfully and willingly omit the performance of his duty . . . and be thereof convicted in manner aforesaid, he shall forfeit for every such offence the sum of five pounds, to be levied upon his goods and chattels, and disposed in manner aforesaid: and that if any justice of the peace or chief magistrate shall wilfully and wittingly omit the performance of his duty in the execution of this Act, he shall forfeit the sum of one hundred pounds.

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