Chancery: Petty Bag Office: Sacrament Certificates
Sacrament certificates presented in Chancery by Crown office-holders in accordance with the 1672 Popish Recusants Act (or Test Act).
They are signed by the minister or churchwarden of the parish in which the office-holder received communion, most of which are within a thirty mile radius of London and Westminster (in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent).
By the Test Act of 1672 anyone holding office or a place of trust under the Crown had to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. If the office-holders lived within thirty miles of London the oaths were to be taken in either the Court of Chancery or in King's Bench; if the office-holders lived further afield the oaths were to be taken at the local quarter sessions.
Since the purpose of the act was to ensure that only Anglicans could hold office, the act also provided that anyone taking the test oaths must recently have received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to the usage of the Church of England. As evidence that someone had received the sacrament a certificate was to be completed, signed by the minister and churchwarden of the parish where communion had taken place, with the signatures of two witnesses appended. The certificate was then to be delivered to the court at the same time as the office-holder took the test oaths.
Taking the test oaths and presenting a sacrament certificate was not a requirement solely for existing office-holders; future holders of office had to do the same, within a term of being admitted to office. Between 1708 and 1711 all foreign Protestants who took the oaths of allegiance and supremacy in court, and who produced a sacrament certificate, were deemed to have been naturalised.
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