(Latin: recuso, reject)
Those who violated the laws of England which commanded attendance at the services of the Church of England.
The vast majority of those who came under the penalties of the laws were Catholics.
Some of the punishments attached to the non-observance of the recusancy laws were: a fine of twenty pounds per lunar month; disability for holding office or civil employment, for keeping arms in one's house, for maintaining actions or suits at law, for being executor or guardian, for practising law or physics, and for holding military office.
Furthermore the recusant might suffer the penalties of excommunication, was forbidden to move five miles from his house without a license, under pain of forfeiture of his goods.
Recusants convicted were within three months of conviction either to submit and renounce their belief in the supremacy of the Pope over the Church, or if required by four judges, to abjure the realm.
If they did not depart, or returned without a license, they were guilty of capital felony.
These laws were in force from Queen Elizabeth's reign to that of King George III.
They were enforced with varying strictness.
New Catholic Dictionary