Catalogue description Palatinate of Chester: Exchequer of Chester: Sacrament Certificates

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Details of CHES 4
Reference: CHES 4
Title: Palatinate of Chester: Exchequer of Chester: Sacrament Certificates

This series consists of sacrament certificates presented in the Cheshire court in accordance with the Test Act 1672 (25 Chas II, c 2). The certificates mainly relate to parishes in the Palatinate of Chester for the period 1673-1763, many of them dating from the 1715 Jacobite rising. There are also, however, two small bundles from parishes in Cardiganshire, 1761-1768, and Denbighshire, 1821 and 1823.

The certificates are in English, on parchment and in the form of either hand-written or pre-printed pro-formas. The certificates contain the signatures of the minister and churchwarden of the parish, with the names of two witnesses appended.

Date: 1673-1823

The certificates are arranged in bundles. Certificates within each bundle are not arranged in any apparent order, either chronologically or alphabetically. They are not indexed.

Related material:

Apart from the Chester sacrament certificates in this series, sacrament certificates were presented at one of the central courts if within thirty miles of London and Westminster, and at quarter sessions if further away. As a result, the majority of sacrament certificates in the Public Record Office are from parishes in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent. Certificates presented to: Sacrament certificates presented at quarter sessions are in local record offices.

Chancery, C 224

Exchequer, E 196

King's Bench, KB 22

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 5 bundle(s)
Publication note:

Additional information about oath rolls and sacrament certificates held among Public Record Office series is provided in Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office, 4th ed, 1990, pp 99 and 184.

Administrative / biographical background:

In the decades following the Restoration in 1660, a number of statutes and ordinances were enacted in order to exclude Roman Catholics and nonconformists from holding office. These acts successively laid down that the oaths of allegiance (to the Crown) and supremacy (i.e. that the monarch was supreme head of the Church of England), as well as the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, were to be taken by all persons holding offices, civil or military.

The main statute was the Corporations Act 1661 (13 Chas II, c 1) which was primarily designed to destroy the political power of Dissenters in the towns and in Parliament. By this statute, it was enacted that no person could be legally elected to any office relating to the government of any city or corporation unless, within one year of accepting office, they had received the sacrament of the Lord's Supper according to Anglican rites, and on their election should take the oaths of allegiance, supremacy and non-resistance, and abjure (renounce upon oath) the Solemn League and Covenant.

This was followed by the Popish Recusants (or Test) Act 1672 (25 Chas II, c 2) which was directed primarily against Roman Catholics, but was equally operative against Dissenters. This obliged all holders of civil and military office under the Crown in England and Wales, the Channel Islands and Berwick on Tweed, to take the oaths publicly in the courts of Chancery or King's Bench, or locally at quarter sessions (if they resided further than 30 miles from London or Westminster), and to make a declaration against the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.

Their names were to be enrolled and publicly displayed. New office holders were also required, within six months of their admission, to produce a sacrament certificate, signed by the minister and churchwarden of the parish with the signatures of two witnesses appended, attesting that they had received holy communion according to the usage of the Church of England.

The requirements relating to oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and to the production of sacrament certificates, were amended under other subsequent Acts (in particular by the Security of the Succession Act 1702 (1 Anne, c 16) which permitted officials to also take the oaths and to deliver sacrament certificates into the courts of Common Pleas or Exchequer) and remained in force until the Sacramental Test Act 1828 (9 Geo VI, c 17) repealed the sacrament as a qualification for office.

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