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Act of Uniformity 1662

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Act of Uniformity 1662[1]
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act for the Uniformity of Publique Prayers and Administracion of Sacramentes & other Rites & Ceremonies and for establishing the Form of making ordaining and consecrating Bishops Preists and Deacons in the Church of England.[2]
Citation14 Cha. 2. c. 4
  • (Ruffhead: 13 & 14 Cha. 2. c. 4)
Territorial extent 
Royal assent19 May 1662
Commencement7 January 1662
  • 23 May 1950 (in Northern Ireland)
  • 1 January 1970 (sections 2, 3 & 17)
  • 12 December 1974 (except sections 10 and 15)
Other legislation
Amended byClerical Subscription Act 1865
Repealed by
Status: Partially repealed
Revised text of statute as amended
Text of the Act of Uniformity 1662 as in force today (including any amendments) within the United Kingdom, from legislation.gov.uk.

The Act of Uniformity 1662 (14 Cha. 2. c. 4) is an Act of the Parliament of England. (It was formerly cited as 13 & 14 Cha. 2. c. 4, by reference to the regnal year when it was passed on 19 May 1662.) It prescribed the form of public prayers, administration of sacraments, and other rites of the Established Church of England, according to the rites and ceremonies prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Adherence to this was required in order to hold any office in government or the church, although the new version of the Book of Common Prayer prescribed by the Act was so new that most people had never even seen a copy. The Act also required that the Book of Common Prayer "be truly and exactly Translated into the British or Welsh Tongue". It also explicitly required episcopal ordination for all ministers, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops, which had to be reintroduced since the Puritans had abolished many features of the Church during the Civil War. The act did not explicitly encompass the Isle of Man.[3]

A few sections of this Act were still in force in the United Kingdom at the end of 2010.[4]

Great Ejection[edit]

As an immediate result of this Act, over 2,000 clergymen refused to take the oath and were expelled from the Church of England in what became known as the Great Ejection of 1662. Although there had already been ministers outside the established church, this created the concept of non-conformity, with a substantial section of English society excluded from public affairs for a century and a half.

Clarendon Code[edit]

The Act of Uniformity itself is one of four crucial pieces of legislation, known as the Clarendon Code, named after Edward Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, Charles II's Lord Chancellor.[5] They are:

  • The Corporation Act 1661 – This first of the four statutes which made up the Clarendon Code required all municipal officials to take Anglican communion, and formally reject the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The effect of this act was to exclude nonconformists from public office. This legislation was rescinded in 1828.
  • The Act of Uniformity 1662 – This second statute made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious service. Upwards of 2000 clergy refused to comply with this act, and were forced to resign their livings.
  • The Conventicle Act 1664 – This act forbade conventicles (a meeting for unauthorized worship) of more than 5 people who were not members of the same household. The purpose was to prevent dissenting religious groups from meeting.
  • The Five Mile Act 1665 – This final act of the Clarendon Code was aimed at Nonconformist ministers, who were forbidden from coming within five miles of incorporated towns or the place of their former livings. They were also forbidden to teach in schools. This act was not rescinded until 1812.

Combined with the Test Act, the Corporation Acts excluded all nonconformists from holding civil or military office, and prevented them from being awarded degrees by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.

Quakers Act 1662[edit]

Quakers Act 1662
Act of Parliament
Long titleAn Act for preventing the Mischiefs and Dangers that may arise, by certain Persons called Quakers, and others, refusing to take lawful Oaths.
Citation14 Cha. 2. c. 1
(Ruffhead: 13 & 14 Cha. 2. c. 1
Royal assent2 May 1662
Other legislation
Repealed byPlaces of Religious Worship Act 1812
Status: Repealed
Text of statute as originally enacted

Another Act, the Quaker Act 1662, required subjects to swear an oath of allegiance to the king, which Quakers did not do out of religious conviction. It set out specific penalties for first (a fine of up to £5, or three months' imprisonment with hard labour), second (a fine of up to £10, or six months imprisonment with hard labour), and third (transportation) offence. It also allowed that should the defendant subsequently agree to swear oaths and not attend unlawful assemblies (as defined by the Act) then all penalties would be cancelled.[6]

Book of Common Prayer[edit]

The Book of Common Prayer introduced by Charles II was substantially the same as Elizabeth's version of 1559, itself based on Thomas Cranmer's earlier version of 1552. Apart from minor changes this remains the official and permanent legal version of prayer authorised by Parliament and Church.

Act of Toleration[edit]

The Toleration Act 1688 allowed certain dissenters places and freedom to worship, provided they accept to subscribe to an oath.

Modified in 1872[edit]

The provisions of the Act of Uniformity 1662 were modified and partly revoked by the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act 1872. This has been repealed by the General Synod.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by section 5 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  2. ^ These words are printed against this Act in the second column of Schedule 2 to the Statute Law Revision Act 1948, which is headed "Title".
  3. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainGordon, Alexander (1900). "Wilson, Thomas (1663–1755)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. 62. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 139–142).
  4. ^ The Chronological Table of the Statutes, 1235–2010. The Stationery Office. 2011. ISBN 978-0-11-840509-6. Part I. p. 63, read with pp. viii and x.
  5. ^ Dudley, Albert Cassell (1912). "Nonconformity Under the "Clarendon Code"". The American Historical Review. 18 (1): 65–78. doi:10.2307/1832693. ISSN 0002-8762.
  6. ^ "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. | British History Online". www.british-history.ac.uk. British History Online. Retrieved 17 April 2022.

Further reading[edit]

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