Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Association Oath Rolls
Following the discovery of a plot to assassinate William III in 1696, Parliament established an association for the defence of the king and in support of the succession. These are the rolls of subscribers to that association.
The records are very detailed and include the names of members of the House of Commons, freemen of city companies, military and naval officers, household, tax and customs officials, judges and members of the Inns of Court and Doctors' Commons, servants of the prince and princess of Denmark, heralds and pursuivants, members of the College of Physicians, and the clergy and gentry in all the counties of England and Wales.
There are separate rolls for some of the colonies and dependencies. Rolls 474-476 are contemporary catalogues.
The bulk of the rolls are arranged on a geographical basis by county, borough or hundred, although sometimes occupational groups in a given locality are represented.
In the context of Whig and Tory politics after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the establishment of such an association was a significant one. By securing an acknowledgement in the oath that William was 'rightful and lawful' king, the Whigs accomplished something which they had failed to carry on four previous occasions.
Now the Tories could no longer pretend, upon taking this oath, that they were acknowledging William III as mere de facto monarch; they would have to disavow James II as de jure king as well. As a consequence of this some one hundred Tory members of the House of Commons, and twenty members of the House of Lords, declined to subscribe to the association.
The luxury of abstention, however, was not available to others outside Parliament; not, at least, if they wished to retain office. The Security of King and Government Act of April 1696 made subscription to the association obligatory for all office-holders, both civil and military. The oaths could be taken at the courts either of Chancery or King's Bench, or alternatively at the local quarter sessions. Although the act did not provide for it, some oaths were also taken at assizes.
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