Extracts from The Uniformity Act 1559  (I Eliz. Cap.II )

The following two sections of the Act refer to the requirements made of ministers and the penalties for non compliance. In verbose language ( what we today would call `legalese`) the Act is very rigid and demanding with no variations whatsoever allowed. Even criticism  of the Church and the Book of Common Prayer was punishable.

 II.      And further be it enacted by the Queen’s Highness, with the assent of the Lords and Commons in this present Parliament assembled and by authority of the same, That all and singular ministers in any cathedral or parish church or other place within this realm of England, Wales and the marches of the same or other the Queen’s dominions shall from and after the Feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist next coming be bounden to say and use the Matins, Evensong, celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and administration of each of the Sacraments, and, all their Common and open Prayer, in such order and form as is mentioned in the said book so authorized by Parliament in the said fifth and sixth years of the reign of King Edward the Sixth, with one alteration or addition of certain Lessons to be used on every Sunday in the year, and the form of the Litany altered and corrected, and two sentences only added in the delivery of the Sacrament to the communicants, and none other or otherwise; and that if any manner of parson. vicar or other whatsoever minister, that ought or should sing or say Common Prayer mentioned in the said book or minister the Sacraments from and after the Feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist next coming, refuse to use the said Common Prayers or to minister the Sacraments in such cathedral or parish church or other places as he should use to minister the same, in such order and form as they be mentioned and set forth in the said book, or shall wilfully or obstinately (standing in the same) use any other rite, ceremony, order, form or manner of celebrating of the Lord’s Supper, openly or privily, or Matins, Evensong, administration of the Sacraments or other open prayers than is mentioned and set forth in the said book, ([by] open prayer in and throughout this Act is meant that prayer which is for other to come unto or hear, either in common churches or private chapels or oratories, commonly called the Service of the Church,) or shall preach, declare or speak any thing in the derogation or depraving of the said book or any thing therein contained or of any part thereof, and shall be thereof lawfully convicted according to the laws of this realm by verdict of twelve men or by his own confession or by the notorious evidence of the fact, shall lose and forfeit to the Queen’s Highness, her heirs and successors, for his first offence, the profit of all his spiritual benefices or promotions coming or arising in one whole year next after his conviction, and also that the person so convicted shall for the same offence suffer imprisonment by the space of six months without bail or mainprise; and if any such person once convict of any offence concerning the premises shall after the fist conviction eftsoons offend and be thereof in form aforesaid lawfully convicted, that then the same person shall be his second offence suffer imprison­ment by the space of one whole year and also shall therefore be deprived, ipso facto, of all his spiritual promotions, and that it shall be lawful to all patrons or donors of all and singular the same spiritual promotions or any of them to present or collate to the same as though the persons so offending were dead; and that if any such person or persons after he shall be twice convicted in form aforesaid shall offend against any of the premises the third time and shall be thereof in form aforesaid lawfully convicted, that then the person so offending and con­victed the third time shall be deprived, ipso facto, of all his spiritual promotions and also shall suffer imprisonment during his life; and if the person that shall offend and be convicted in form aforesaid, concerning any of the premises, shall not be beneficed nor have any spiritual promotion, that then the same person so offending and convict shall for the first offence suffer imprisonment during one whole year next alter his said con­viction without bail or mainprise; and if any such person not having any spiritual promotion, after his first conviction, shall eftsoons offend in any thing concerning the premises and shall be in form aforesaid thereof lawfully convicted, that then the same person shall for his second offence suffer imprisonment during his life.

 III. And it is ordained and enacted by the authority above said, That if any person or persons whatsoever after the said Feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist next coming shall in any interludes, plays, songs, rhymes, or by other open words, declare or speak any thing in the derogation, depraving or despising of the same book or of any thing therein contained or any part thereof, or shall by open fact, deed, or by open threatenings compel or cause or otherwise procure or maintain any parson, vicar or other minister in any cathedral or parish church or in chapel or in any other place, to sing or say any common or open prayer, or to minister any Sacrament, otherwise or in any other manner and form than is mentioned in the said book, or that by any of the said means shall unlawfully interrupt or let any parson, vicar or other minister in any cathedral or parish church, chapel or any other place to sing or say common and open prayer or to minister the Sacraments or any of them in such manner and form as is mentioned in the said book, that then every such person being thereof lawfully convicted in form above said shall forfeit to the Queen our Sovereign Lady, her heirs and successors, for the first offence a hundred marks and if any person or persons being once convict of any such offence eftsoons offend against [sic] any of the last recited offences and shall in form aforesaid be thereof lawfully convict, that then the same person so offending and convict shall for the second offence forfeit to the Queen our Sovereign Lady, her heirs and successors, four hundred marks; and if any person, after he in form aforesaid shall have been twice convict of any offence concerning any of the last recited offence; shall offend the third time and be thereof in form above said lawfully convict, that then every person so offending and convict shall for his third offence forfeit to our Sovereign Lady the Queen all his goods and chattels and shall suffer imprisonment during his life; and if any person or persons that for his first offence concerning the premisses shall be convict in form aforesaid do not pay the sum to be paid by virtue of his conviction in such manner and form as the same ought to be paid within six weeks next after his conviction, that then every person so convict and so not paying the same shall for the same first offence instead of the said sum suffer imprisonment by the space of six months without bail or mainprise; and if any person or persons that for his second offence concerning the premises shall be convict in form aforesaid do not pay the said sum to be paid by virtue of his conviction and this statute in such manner and form as the same ought to be paid within six weeks next after his said second conviction, that then every person so convicted and not so paying the same shall for the same second offence in the stead of the said sum suffer imprison­ment during twelve months without bail or mainprise; and that from and after the said Feast of the Nativity of St John Baptist next coming all and every person and persons inhabiting within this realm or any other the Queen’s Majesty’s dominions shall diligently and faithfully, having no lawful or reasonable excuse to be absent, endeavour themselves to resort to their parish church or chapel accustomed, or upon reasonable let thereof to some usual place where Common Prayer and such service of God shall be used in such time of let, upon every Sunday, and other days ordained and used to be kept as Holy Days, and then and there to abide orderly and soberly, during the time of the Common Prayer, Preachings or other Service of God there to be used and ministered; upon pain of punish­ment by the censures of the Church, and also upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit for every such offence twelve pence, to be levied by the Church wardens of the parish where such offence shall be done, to the use of the poor of the same parish, of the goods, lands and tenements of such offender, by way of distress.

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