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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
Royal assent19 May 1662
Commencement7 January 1662
Status: Amended
Revised text of statute as amended

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

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

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. 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.

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.[5]

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

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

Modified in 1872

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



  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. Page 63, read with pages viii and x.
  5. ^ "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". British History Online. Retrieved 17 April 2022.

Further reading

External links

1893 text

An Act for the Uniformity of public prayers 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 text comes from a footnote on a diary entry in the 1893 edition edited by Henry B. Wheatley.

5 Annotations

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

The book of common prayer, as revised by the convocation [the Savoy conference], was submitted to and approved by the parliament; and measures were immediately taken to secure its adoption throughout the country. On the 19th May, 1662, an act, called the Act of Uniformity, received the royal assent. It was enacted that it should come into operation on the 24th of the ensuing August. By this act every minister was compelled to subscribe to every thing contained in the book of common prayer. It was also enacted, that no minister should officiate in the church of England without episcopal ordination.
---The Reformation of the Church of England. J.H. Blunt, 1882

Bill  •  Link

Sorry, the about section was from:
---A History of the English Episcopacy. T. Lathbury, 1886.

Bill  •  Link

The effect of these provisions of the Act of Uniformity was that a large number of the non-episcopal accepted the conditions imposed — that they should be episcopally ordained, accept the Prayer Book system as now set forth, and renounce the obligations into which they had entered for the destruction of Episcopacy, and for opposing the Crown by force of arms. These incumbents thus legalized their position, and qualified themselves to carry out the system of the Church of England according to its long-established principles. Those ministers who declined to accept these conditions and to "conform" to the Church system, and who were hence called "Nonconformists," amounted in number to about eight hundred; and on August 24, 1662, they were obliged by the provisions of the Act to vacate their benefices. Some of these established themselves as ministers of separate congregations of Presbyterians or Independents, or of some of the many other sects which were gradually formed among the remnant of the Puritans.
---The Reformation of the Church of England. J.H. Blunt, 1882

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.