English Post Reformation Oaths

Oaths exacted by the Crown after it had imposed Protestantism on England.

  • The Oath of Royal Supremacy introduced by Henry VIII in 1534, repealed by Mary and revived by Elizabeth, was chiefly concerned with the succession
  • The Oath of Allegiance to James I, also called the Oath of Obedience, introduced in 1606, doing away with the deposing power of the pope, was objectionably worded, fraudulently intended, and a dishonour to the Holy See; its influence was great and its consequences lasting and far-reaching
  • These oaths fell into temporary disuse when the Puritans came into power, and the Oath of Adjuration under the Commonwealth, 1643, imposed monstrous penalties on anyone refusing to take it, the refusal branding him a papist; this oath, however, was sparingly enforced
  • The Test Oath, 1672, 1678, also called the Declaration of Attestation Oath, compelling office holders to make a “declaration against Transubstantiation” and other tenets, marks the consummation of English anti-Catholic legislation, as it insured that no Catholic could be admitted to office without renouncing his faith
  • The Quebec Act in 1771 was the first tolerant measure for Catholics since Mary’s reign
  • The Irish Oath of 1774 was followed by the so-called relief bills, and other tests involving also English Catholics, until, owing to the influence of Daniel O’Connell and the Irish, Catholic Emancipation was granted in 1829 without any tests