Act of abolition

The king's majesty, for the public peace and quietness of the realm, and that the occasions and pretences of diverse late troubles occurred within the same may be removed, after mature deliberation, the ministers of God's word being heard, conferred with and their petitions considered, with advice of the elected commissioners of the estates and council, declares and by this his highness's perpetual and irrevocable edict statutes and ordains that God's true religion publicly preached and by law established in the first year of his highness's reign shall only be professed and exercised by all his majesty's lieges within this realm in time coming, and that none of them presume or take upon hand to avow, profess or exercise any other form of religion within the same, or to harbour, maintain, supply, intercommune or entertain intelligence with any Jesuits, seminary priests or other adversaries of the said true religion under the pains contained in his highness's laws and acts of parliament made relating thereto. And that all his majesty's subjects which have not as yet embraced and professed the said true religion, or that have made defection therefrom in time bygone, shall, before 1 February next to come, effectually obey his highness's laws by professing and exercising of the said true religion and satisfying his highness, the true kirk of God and ministry thereof in underlying and fulfilling of such injunctions as shall be given by his highness and the kirk until there be a sufficient proof had of their effectual and unfeigned conformity in embracing and professing of the said true religion, or if any of them shall think it difficult so to do as not being persuaded yet in conscience, that then upon declaration to be made to his majesty of their choice and upon his highness's licence first sought and obtained, they shall depart out of the realm to such parts beyond sea as his majesty shall please and be contented with, between now and the said 1 February next to come, and there remain and in no way return in this realm until first they be content to embrace and profess the said true religion and satisfy his highness and the kirk and make security to that effect in manner after-specified, they and their heirs enjoying their lands, livings and goods in the meantime to their own uses, to whom his highness gives power and liberty by the tenor hereof, by their procurators in their names, to stand in judgement and to pursue and defend their actions and causes by order of law, notwithstanding any acts of parliament or process led against them with which his highness in that part by this act dispenses. Item, our sovereign lord, with advice of the said elected commissioners of the estates and council, decrees, declares, statutes and ordains that William [Douglas], earl of Angus, George [Gordon], earl of Huntly, Francis [Hay], earl of Erroll, Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindoun and Sir James Chisholm of Cromlix, knights, being suspected, accused and called to his highness's late parliament for treasonable causes and crimes contained in the summons executed against them upon occasion of blanks and letters intercepted concerning trafficking with strangers for the troubling of the said true religion, his highness and other professors thereof and liberty of the realm shall be free and unaccusable in time coming of the said causes and crimes and all process relating thereto to be abolished, deleted, extinct and remain in oblivion for ever, discharging all his highness's justices, advocates and others his officers present and to come of all calling, accusing or in any way proceeding against them or their heirs thereof in any time coming; but if they have already or shall happen hereafter to send pledges for them out of this realm to whatsoever strangers as for surety of fulfilling of any offers or conditions on their part tending to the harm and peril of the said true religion, his highness or other professors thereof, or liberty and quietness of this their native country, in that case this present abolition and annulling to be null, and the said persons to be accusable by law for the same crimes and causes contained in the said summons as if the same abolition and oblivion had never been granted. Which abolition shall be extended only to the crimes contained in the said summons, proceeding upon the occasion of the said blanks and intercepted letters and to no murders, slaughters, fire-raising or other criminal matters whatsoever, and that such of the said earls and others above-written contained in the said summons as shall deliberate to obey his highness's laws in professing and exercising the said true religion before the said 1 February next to come, abide and remain in the meantime in the places and bounds to be appointed to them by his majesty and utterly forbear to practice, traffick, harbour, supply or have intelligence with Jesuits, seminary priests, excommunicated or avowed papists, but debar them out of their bounds and company, that they shall forbear at their tables and otherwise to dispute or suffer disputation against the said true religion or in favour of the papistical religion damned by God's word and his highness's laws; and shall maintain a minister of God's word in their house and company, and be ready to hear him, confer with him and to be the better resolved of doubts by him again the time of their subscribing of the confession and articles of the said true religion, which shall be done by them at the farthest between now and the said 1 February, unless the kirk and ministry upon good occasion moving them shall condescend that the said day be prorogated for some longer space. That the Earl of Huntly shall between now and the said 1 February put out of this realm Master James Gordon, his uncle, and the said Earl of Erroll, Master William Ogilvie, brother to the laird of Duntrune, professed Jesuits or seminary priests and shall hold them out of this realm in all time coming; and that such of the said earls and others foresaid as subscribes and professes the said true religion shall in no way thereafter make defection therefrom, but truly perform the conditions above-written and every one of them and shall find sufficient sureties of barons, landed men, to that effect jointly, each one for their own part, which shall content his majesty; that is to say, everyone of the said earls under the pain of £40,000, and either of the said Sir Patrick Gordon and Sir James Chisholm, under the pain of £10,000. And such as shall make choice rather to depart and remain out of the realm than to profess and embrace the said true religion, shall before the said 1 February next to come find like surety and under the like pains that until their departing they shall abide and remain in the bounds to be appointed to them by his majesty, that they shall forbear to practice, traffick, harbour, supply or have intelligence with Jesuits, seminary priests or other avowed papists during their remaining within the realm; as also during their absence out of the same shall forbear all practising or doing to the harm, hurt or prejudice of his highness and professors of the said true religion, or commonwealth and liberty of this their native country in any time hereafter. And that the said earls and others which shall claim the favour and benefit of this his highness's edict, either by their acknowledging and professing of the said true religion within the realm or by departing and remaining out of the realm upon licence as not yet persuaded in conscience, make their declarations by writ of their choice of the said conditions to his majesty and to the kirk between now and 1 January next to come. And that the kirk also call all persons suspected to satisfy the kirk, and in case of their refusal to satisfy the kirk, to report their names to his highness and his council, that they may be called for loss of their liferents, as the acts of parliament made relating thereto appoints. And that the masters and landlords be held to answer for their men, tenants and servants suspected and accused of papistry as for persons indicted for crimes, and exact diligence to be done for calling and punishment of the contemners as well as excommunicated as others according to the said laws, and the pains to be collected to his highness's use, which his highness promises to see performed to the rigour and that he shall in no way discharge or dispose the same otherwise. And his highness and the said commissioners of the estates have thought fit and thinks this the best form and means to quiet the troubles grown through the bygone proceedings of the adversaries of the said true religion, and therefore have granted this present edict in case the said earls and others foresaid accept and perform the conditions thereof in manner and within the space above-specified, but always the same edict in no way to stand or have force of law until first it be accepted and surety made for accomplishing thereof, nor none shall have place to crave the benefit of the same in case it be not sought and accepted, the said 1 February being past. And in taking and witnessing of the premises, his majesty and the commissioners of the said estates have subscribed this act day, year and place foresaid, which his highness ordains to be ratified and approved in his next parliament, and to have full effect and force in the meantime, being accepted as said is. Likewise the said earls and others above-specified, in taking of their acceptance of the benefit and favour of the said edict and faithful promise to fulfil the conditions thereof appointed to them under the pecuniary pains before-mentioned, to be paid by their sureties beside the incurring of the pain of treason themselves if that shall happen (as God forbid) to do in the contrary, they and everyone of them shall subscribe the duplicate or copy of this present edict with their hands, and return the same with declaration of the choice of the conditions, to be kept in register between now and the said 1 January next to come, and that letters be directed for publication hereof and the same also to be imprinted, through which probably it may come to the knowledge of all the subjects. It is thus subscribed, James Rex, [Ludovic Stewart, duke of] Lennox, [John Erskine, earl of] Mar, [John Maitland, lord] Thirlestane, chancellor, [Alexander Livingston, lord] Livingston, Thomas [Lyon], master of Glamis, Sir Robert Melville [of Murdocairnie], [Master Robert Douglas, provost of] Lincluden, [David Seaton of] Parbroath, comptroller, J[ohn] Cockburn [of Ormiston], R[ichard] Cockburn [of Clerkington], [Sir John Carmichael of] Carmichael, [Sir John Murray of] Tullibardine, [Sir Alexander Bruce of] Airth, M[aster] G[eorge] Lauder of the Bass, James Scott of Balwearie, William Scott of Abbotshall, Alexander Home [of North Berwick], Nicolas Cornwall [of Bonhard], Clement Cor, Walter Hay, David Weland.

  1. NAS, PC1/15, 257-258.