Act anent religion and the Test

Our sovereign lord, with his estates of parliament, considering that albeit by many wholesome laws made by his royal grandfather and father, of glorious memory, and by himself in this and his other parliaments since his happy restoration, the Protestant religion is carefully asserted, established and secured against popery and fanaticism, yet the restless adversaries of our religion do not cease to propagate their errors, and to seduce his majesty's subjects from their duty to God and loyalty to his vice-regent, and to overturn the established religion by introducing their superstitions and delusions into this church and kingdom; and knowing that nothing can more increase the numbers and confidence of papists and schismatical dissenters from the established church, than the supine neglect of putting into execution the good laws provided against them, together with their hopes to insinuate themselves into offices and places of trust and public employment; therefore his majesty, from his princely and pious zeal to maintain and preserve the true Protestant religion contained in the Confession of Faith, recorded in the first parliament of King James VI, which is founded on and agreeable to the written word of God, does, with advice and consent of his estates of parliament, require and command all his officers, judges and magistrates to put the laws made against popery and papists, priests, Jesuits and all persons of any other order in the popish-church, especially against sayers and hearers of mass, venders and dispersers of forbidden books and resetters of popish priests and excommunicated papists, as also against all fanatic separatists from this national church, against preachers at house or field conventicles and the resetters and harbourers of preachers who are intercommuned, against disorderly baptisms and marriages and irregular ordinations and all other schismatical disorders, to full and vigorous execution, according to the tenor of the respective acts of parliament thereon provided. And that his majesty's princely care to have these laws put into execution against those enemies of the Protestant religion, may the more clearly appear, he does, with advice and consent foresaid, statute and ordain that the ministers of each parish give up in October yearly, to their respective ordinaries, true and exact lists of all papists and schismatical withdrawers from the public worship in their respective parishes, which lists are to be subscribed by them, and that the bishops give in a duplicate of the said lists subscribed by them to the respective sheriffs, stewarts, bailies of royalty and regality, and magistrates of burghs, to the effect the said judges may proceed against them according to law; as also, the sheriffs and other magistrates foresaid are hereby ordained to give to his majesty's privy council, in December yearly, an account of their proceedings against those papists and fanatical separatists, as they will be answerable at their highest peril. And that the diligences done by the sheriffs, bailies of regalities and other magistrates foresaid may be the better inquired into by the council, the bishops of the respective diocese are to send exact duplicates of the lists of the papists and fanatics to the clerks of privy council, whereby the diligences of the sheriffs and other judges foresaid may be controlled and examined. And to cut off all hopes from papists and fanatics of their being employed in offices and places of public trust, it is hereby statute and ordained that the following oath shall be taken by all persons in offices and places of public trust civil, ecclesiastical and military, especially by all members of parliament and all electors of members of parliament, all privy councillors, lords of session, members of the exchequer, lords of justiciary and all other members of these courts, all officers of the crown and state, all archbishops and bishops and all preachers and ministers of the Gospel whatsoever, all persons of this kingdom named or to be named commissioners for the borders, all members of the commission for church affairs, all sheriffs, stewarts, bailies of royalties and regalities, justices of the peace, officers of the mint, commissaries and their deputes, their clerks and fiscals, all advocates and procurators before any of these courts, all writers to the signet, all public notaries and other persons employed in writing or agenting, the lyon king at arms, heralds, pursuivants and messengers at arms, all collectors, subcollectors and farmers of his majesty's custom and excise, all magistrates, deans of guild, councillors and clerks of burghs royal and regality, all deacons of trades and deacon-conveners in the said burghs, all masters and doctors in universities, colleges or schools, all chaplains in families, pedagogues to children, and all officers and soldiers in armies, forts or militia, and all other persons in public trust or office within this kingdom, who shall publicly swear and subscribe the said oath as follows, namely, the archbishops, chief commander of the forces and officers of the crown and state and councillors, before the secret council; all the lords of session and all members of the college of justice, and others depending upon them, before the session; the lords of justiciary and those depending upon that court, in the justice-court; the lords and other members of exchequer, before the exchequer; all bishops, before the archbishops; all the inferior clergy, commissaries, masters and doctors of universities and schools, chaplains and pedagogues, before the bishops of the respective diocese; sheriffs, stewards, bailies of royalty and regality, and those depending on these jurisdictions, before these respective courts; and provosts, bailies and others of the burgh, before the town council; all collectors and farmers of the king's customs and excise, before the exchequer; the commissioners of the borders before the privy council; all justices of peace, before their convener; and the officers of the mint, before the general of the mint; and the officers of the forces, before the commander in chief, and common soldiers before their respective officers; the lyon, before the privy council, and heralds, pursuivants and messengers at arms, before the lyon. And his majesty, with consent foresaid, statutes and ordains that all those who presently possess or enjoy any of the foresaid offices, public trusts or employments, shall take and subscribe the following oath in one of the foresaid offices, in manner before prescribed, between now and 1 January next, which is to be recorded in the registers of the respective courts, and extracts thereof, under the clerk's hands, to be reported to his majesty's privy council between now and 1 March next 1682; and thereafter in any other courts, whereof they are judges or members, the first time they shall sit or exercise in any of these respective courts; and ordains that all who shall hereafter be promoted to or employed in any of the foresaid offices, trusts or employments shall, at their entry into and before their exercising thereof, take and subscribe the said oath in manner foresaid, to be recorded in the registers of these respective courts, and reported to his majesty's privy council within the space of forty days after their taking of the same. And if any shall presume to exercise any of the said offices or employments, or any public office or trust within this kingdom (the king's lawful brothers and sons only excepted) until they take the oath foresaid and subscribe it to be recorded in the registers of the respective courts, they shall be declared incapable of all public trust thereafter and be further punished, with the loss of their movables and liferent escheat, the one half whereof to be given to the informer and the other half to belong to his majesty. And his majesty, with advice foresaid, recommends to his privy council to see this act put to due and vigorous execution.

Follows the tenor of the oath to be taken by all persons in public trust:

I, A. B. solemnly swear, in the presence of the eternal God, whom I invocate as judge and witness of my sincere intention of this my oath, that I own and sincerely profess the true Protestant religion contained in the Confession of Faith recorded in the first parliament of King James VI, and that I believe the same to be founded on and agreeable to the written word of God. And I promise and swear that I shall adhere thereto during all the days of my lifetime, and shall endeavour to educate my children therein; and shall never consent to any change nor alteration contrary thereto; and that I disown and renounce all such principles, doctrines or practises, whether popish or fanatical, which are contrary to and inconsistent with the said Protestant religion and Confession of Faith. And for testification of my obedience to my most gracious sovereign Charles II, I do affirm and swear, by this my solemn oath, that the king's majesty is the only supreme governor of this realm, over all persons and in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil, and that no foreign prince, person, pope, prelate, state or potentate has or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminency or authority ecclesiastical or civil within this realm, and therefore I do utterly renounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities and authorities, and do promise that, from henceforth, I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the king's majesty, his heirs and lawful successors; and to my power shall assist and defend all rights, jurisdictions, prerogatives, privileges, pre-eminencies and authorities belonging to the king's majesty, his heirs and lawful successors. And I further affirm and swear, by this my solemn oath, that I judge it unlawful for subjects, upon pretence of reformation or any other pretence whatsoever, to enter into covenants or leagues, or to convocate, convene or assemble in any councils, conventions or assemblies, to treat, consult or determine in any matter of state, civil or ecclesiastic, without his majesty's special command or express licence had thereto, or to take up arms against the king or those commissioned by him; and that I shall never so rise in arms or enter into such covenant or assemblies; and that there lies no obligation on me from the National Covenant or the Solemn League and Covenant (so commonly called) or any other manner of way whatsoever, to endeavour any change or alteration in the government, either in church or state, as it is now established by the laws of this kingdom. And I promise and swear that I shall, with my utmost power, defend, assist and maintain his majesty's jurisdiction foresaid against all persons; and I shall never decline his majesty's power and jurisdiction, as I shall answer to God. And finally I affirm and swear that this my solemn oath is given in the plain, genuine sense and meaning of the words, without any equivocation, mental reservation or any manner of evasion whatsoever; and that I shall not accept or use any dispensation from any creature whatsoever. So help me God.


That part of the act, if the Test should be put to the electors of commissioners for shires to the parliament, having been put to the vote by itself, before the voting and passing of the whole act, and the same being carried in the affirmative, [Andrew Fletcher], laird of Saltoun and [Ludovic Grant], laird of Grant, having voted in the negative, desired their dissent might be marked.

  1. NAS. PA2/31, f.9-10v.