Uniformity, Act of 19 May 1662 (England)

 An Act for the Uniformity of Public Prayer and Administration of Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies; and for Establishing the Form of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating, Bishops, Priests and Deacons in the Church of England.

This Act was part of what has been called the Clarendon Code, one of four acts sponsored by Edward Hyde, the Earl of Clarendon and Lord Chancellor to Charles II all of which were aimed at enforcing uniformity of religion and its practice.

 In England throughout 1661 there were consultations and consideration of proposals  for the uniformity of public prayers and administration of the sacraments. On the face of it there was a genuine attempt at compromise which at one point produced a watered down episcopacy that may have been acceptable to many non conformists, including some Presbyterians. However the final Act was severe and the date for implementation was changed first from Michaelmas to Midsummer Day and then to St Bartholemews Day, 24 August. Significantly the date meant that failure to conform resulted in loss of the stipend that was due in September.

 The Act was explicit in its coverage and directed that every Parson, Vicar or other Minister whatsoever` was required on or before the Feast of St Bartholomew, 24 August 1662, to use the new Prayer Book and read Morning  and Evening Prayers in his church; and in the presence of his congregation  to make a declaration:

I, .. do here declare my unfeigned assent and consent to all and everything contained in and prescribed in and by the Book entitled  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, together with the Psalter and Psalms of David, pointed as they are to be sung or said in Churches; and the Form and Manner of Making, Ordaining and Consecrating of Bishops, Priests and Deacons.

 Any who failed to conform were to be deprived of their living and all future appointees to the ministry were required to comply within two months.

A further and more stringent oath was required  of all persons ecclesiastical, curates, teachers, schoolmasters, professors

 I do declare 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 commissioned by him; and that I will conform to the liturgy of the Church of England as it is now by law established: and I do declare that I do hold there lies no obligation upon me or on any other person, from the Oath commonly called The Solemn League and Covenant, to endeavour any change or alteration of government either in Church or State; and that the same was in itself an unlawful Oath, and imposed upon the subjects of this realm against the know laws and liberties of this Kingdom.

 The problems for the non conformists were the recognition of the Prayer Book; acceptance and swearing of oaths, including obedience to the Canons; the need for ordination and the rule of the bishops. Rejection of the Solemn League and Covenant finally ended any Scots aspirations of extending Presbyterianism into England.

 The numbers vary somewhat but the most accurate count (cited in  J T Wilkinson`s 1662 and after)  claims 1909 ministers were outed.

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