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The ninth Year of William III

A.D. 1697

Chap. III

An Act to prevent Protestants inter-marrying with Papists

Whereas many protestant maidens and women, as well such as be heirs apparent to their ancestors, as others, having left unto them by their father, or other ancestor or friends, mannors, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, or other great substances in goods or chattels real or personal, for their advancement in marriage; or having had considerable estates for life, by dower or jointure, or having had the tuition or guardianship of protestant children intitled to such estates or interests as aforesaid, by flattery, and other crafty insinuations of popish persons, have been seduced and prevailed upon to contract matrimony with, and take to husband, papists or popish persons; which marriages have not only tended to the ruin and destruction of such estates and interests, and to the great loss and damage of many protestant persons, to whom the same might descend or come, but as well to the corrupting and perverting such protestants so marrying, and the protestant persons in their tuition and guardianship, as aforesaid, that they forsake their religion, and become papists, to the great dishonour of Almighty God, the great prejudice of the protestant interest, and the heavy sorrow and displeasure of all their protestant friends: for remedy whereof, be it enacted by the king's most excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal and the commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That if any protestant maid or woman unmarried, being heir apparent to her ancestor, or having a sole or joynt estate or interest in fee-simple, or in fee-tail, or being seized in fee-simple, or in coparcenary or in common, or being seized of an estate for life or lives, by way of jointure, dower, or otherwise, or being possessed of, or intitled unto any beneficial interest, or term for years, of or in any mannors, lands, tenements, rents, and hereditaments, in possession, reversion, or remainder, or being possessed of, or intitled to any personal estate, either in money, stock, plate, jewels, or other goods and chattels, in law or equity, to the value of five hundred pounds sterling, or more, shall, at any time after the first day of January next, marry or take to husband any person whatsoever, without having first obtained a certificate in writing under the hand of the minister of the parish, bishop of the diocess, and some justice of the peace living near the place, or any two of them, where such person shall be resident at the time of such marriage, that he is a

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known protestant; which certificate shall also be attached under the hands of two or more credible witnesses, and shall be granted without fee or reward; that then, and from the time of such marriage, such protestant person so marrying, and the person she shall so marry, shall be for ever afterwards disabled and rendered incapable of having, holding, or enjoying all or any of the aforesaid estates or interests, which such protestant person so marrying shall, may, or ought to have at the time of such marriage; and that by such marriage as aforesaid, all and every of the said estates and interests belonging to such protestant person or persons, so marrying as aforesaid, shall go to, and be vested in, and in law deemed and esteemed to be the right, title, estate, and interest of the next protestant of the kin, to whom such estate or interest would descend or come to by law, were such protestant maid or woman, and all other intervening popish heirs, executors, or administrators, really dead and intestate at the time of such marriage; and that from the time of such marriage, such next protestant of the kin as aforesaid, to whom all or any of the said estates or interests shall come by such marriage as aforesaid, shall have, hold, possess, and enjoy all and every such estates and interests, in as large, ample, and beneficial manner, to all intents and purposes, as such protestant maid or woman might have held, possessed, or enjoyed the same, in case this act had never been made; and that at any time after such protestant maid or woman shall marry without such certificate as aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful to and for such protestant person or persons, to whom all or any of the said estates or interests shall come by such marriage as aforesaid, by any action at law, or other legal means whatsoever, to sue for, and recover all or any of the said estates or interests, as if such protestant person or persons, so marrying as aforesaid, and all other intervening popish heirs, executors, or administrators, were really dead and intestate, as aforesaid, and as if such person or persons, who shall so sue for and recover all or any of such estates or interests, were rightfully and legally intitled thereto, as heir, executor, or administrator to such protestant maid or woman marrying as aforesaid; such maid or woman being by such marriage to be deemed and esteemed dead in law, to the aforesaid intents, constructions, and purposes: and if any such protestant maid or woman as aforesaid shall, at any time after the first day of January one thousand six hundred ninety seven, marry any such person without such certificate as aforesaid, that then and from henceforth such protestant persons and such husband as she shall so marry, as aforesaid, shall for ever be incapable of being heir, executor, administrator, or guardian of or to any protestant or protestants whatsoever; and

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in case any protestant woman as aforesaid is now married to a popish person, and hath now by law a title, or is chosen or appointed to be guardian to any protestant person or persons, having all or any of the said estates or interests aforesaid, that in such case, from and after the said first day of January, such guardian shall be utterly uncapable of being any longer so guardian, or to receive any the rents, issues, or profits of the said estates or interests of such person or persons in guardianship as aforesaid; and the right and title of such guardianship shall devolve on and come to the next protestant or protestants of the kin, to whom the estate of such person or persons in guardianship as aforesaid cannot descend, unless such person shall be uncapable in law, or shall be adjudged unfit for such guardianship by the court of Chancery in this kingdom; in either of which cases such right of guardianship shall go to the next protestant of kin, who shall be capable and fit for the discharge of such trust, who shall take into his, her, or their care and tuition, such person and persons in guardianship as aforesaid, and receive the rents, issues, and profits of such estates and interests belonging to such person or persons so in guardianship: and that in case any protestant minister, or popish priest, or other person whatsoever shall, after the said first day of January, joyn in marriage any protestant maid or woman, having any of the said estates or interests aforesaid, to any person whatsoever, without having such certificate in writing as aforesaid, then every such protestant minister, popish priest, or other person whatsoever, joyning in marriage as aforesaid such protestant maid or woman to any person, without such certificate as aforesaid, for every such offence he or they shall so commit, being convicted thereof by his or their confession, or by the verdict of a jury of twelve men of the county wherein such offence shall be committed, shall suffer one year's imprisonment without bail or mainprize, and forfeit the sum of twenty poundssterling; the one moiety thereof to our sovereign lord the King that now is, his heirs and successors, and the other moiety to the party or parties that will sue for the same by any bill, plaint, action, suit, or information, wherein no essoyn, wager of law, or protection shall be allowed.

II. And whereas the marriages of protestant persons to and with popish maidens and women have proved pernicious to the protestant interest, it commonly happening such protestant persons and their issues, being influenced by such popish wives, are reconciled to popery, and become papists; for remedy whereof, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That in case any protestant person or persons shall, after the said first day of January next, marry any maiden or woman, without having obtained

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a certificate in writing under the hand of the minister of the parish, bishop of the diocess, and some justices of the peace living near the place where such maid or woman shall be resident at the time of such marriage, or any two of them, of her being a known protestant, (which certificate shall be attested by two credible witnesses as aforesaid, and shall be granted without fee or reward) such person or persons, so marrying any maiden or woman, shall, from and after such marriage, be in law deemed and esteemed to all intents, constructions, and purposes, to be a papist or popish recusant, and shall for ever afterwards be disabled and rendered incapable of and from being heir, executor, administrator, or guardian to any person or persons whatsoever, as also be disabled to fit in either house of Parliament, and rendered incapable of and from having, bearing, or exercising, any civil or military office or imployment whatsoever, unless such person so marrying shall, within one year after such marriage, procure such wife to be converted to the protestant religion, and shall obtain a certificate under the hand and seal of the bishop of the diocess, or archbishop of the province, or chancellor of this kingdom, that she hath renounced the popish religion, and is become a protestant, and shall procure the said certificate to be inrolled in the court of Chancery in this kingdom.

III. And whereas several popish priests have of late endeavoured to withdraw several of the soldiers inlisted in his Majesty's army, from his Majesty's service, by marrying them to popish wives: be it further enacted, That any popish priest, or protestant minister, or other person whatsoever, that shall marry any soldier inlisted in his Majesty's army in this kingdom, to any wife, without such certificate as aforesaid, shall forfeit the sum of twenty pounds for every such offence, to be levied by warrant from any justice of the peace in any county in this kingdom, where such offence shall be committed, of the goods and chattels of the offender, or in default thereof, the party so offending to be committed to the county gaol, there to remain without bail or mainprize, until he shall pay the said sum; one moiety thereof to such person or persons that shall give information, and make out such offence before any justice of the peace, and the other moiety to the treasurer of the county, to be applied to the use of the county; and that every justice of the peace shall give an account of his proceedings to the next quarter-session.

IV. Provided always, That any person that shall think himself aggrieved by the judgement of any justice of the peace, may have liberty to appeal to the next quarter-sessions, where the said matter shall be examined, and such relief therein given, as to the justices at the quarter-sessions shall seem reasonable.

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V. Provided always, and be it enacted, That in all cases where a certificate is required by this act, that the person marrying is a known protestant, if any marriage shall be made without such certificate, and it can afterwards be made appear by proof, that such person was a known protestant, that in such case they shall not be lyable to any forfeitures or penalties in this act.


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