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Sacrament Certificates (Oath of Allegiance) (Immigration) (Nonconformists)

Nature of Source

Documents that certified that a person holding public or military office or any position of trust had received the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, in other words the Church of England communion. The regulations were laid down in the Corporation Act of 1661 and the Test Act of 1673. This provision effectively barred nonconformists, dissenters and Roman Catholics from gaining official positions. Those seeking office were also required to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy. If the person lived within thirty miles of London the oaths were taken in the Court of Chancery, Exchequer or King's Bench, otherwise the oaths were taken at the local Quarter Sessions. The office holder proved he had received the sacrament by lodging the sacrament certificate at one of the above courts or at the Quarter Sessions. The certificate was signed by the parish minister and churchwarden together with the signatures of two witnesses.

Protestant foreigners such as Huguenots seeking settlement in Britain were deemed to have been naturalised once the applicant had taken Anglican communion, taken the oaths and obtained a sacrament certificate.

Under the terms of the Sacramental Test Act of 1828 the regulations were loosened so that would-be officials only had to swear not to injure or weaken the Protestant church and not receive the sacrament.

Also see
Association Oath Rolls
Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy
Protestation Oath Returns

Where Found

The National Archives (C 224, Chancery: Sacrament Certificates, 1673-1778; C 214, Chancery: Rolls of Oaths of Allegiance and Test Oaths, 1673-1889; KB 22, Court of King's Bench: Sacrament Certificates Files, 1676-1828; E 169; Exchequer: Sacrament Certificates, 1702-1827; CHES 4, Palatinate of Chester: Sacrament Certificates, 1673-1823; E 169/86, Oath roll for naturalization of Protestant refugees, 1709-1711; KB 24/2, Association oath rolls)
County Record Offices (Quarter Session records)
London Metropolitan Archives

Period Covered

1673 - 1828

Genealogical Value

Name, address and occupation of individual. Date sacrament was received and the name of the church. Names of the minister, churchwarden and the two witnesses.

Further References

Bevan, Amanda. Tracing Your Ancestors in The National Archives: The National Archives, 2006


Kershaw, Roger & Pearsall, Mark. Immigrants and Aliens: A Guide to Sources on UK Immigration and Citizenship: PRO Publications, 2000


TNA Research Guide: Oaths of loyalty to the Crown and Church of England

Websites (Catholic Encyclopedia: English Post-Reformation Oaths)
(History Working Papers Project: The 1723 oath rolls in England: an electronic finding list, complied by Edward Vallance, University of Roehampton. The site lists surviving returns county-by-county as well as background information on the various oaths of allegiance) (Friends of Devon Archives: Devon and Exeter Oath Rolls, 1723. The site includes extensive background information including the Historical Context and a Glossary of Terms) (Texts of the Oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy) (Finding Georgian Ancestors and Tracing Ancestors Using Oaths of Allegiance)

Online Databases

Online Catalogues (Listing of online catalogues for the partial whereabouts of records including Access to Archives [A2A]) (Genhound: Hertfordshire calendar to the sessions minute books 1689-1831 including dissenters and papists rolls; Hertfordshire list of nonconformist chapels in 1829; Yorkshire North Riding Register of Oaths of Dissenting Protestant Preachers, 1791-1818; Hertford Quarter Session Rolls 1702 to 1706 including lists of names in receipt of Sacrament Certificates 1761 to 1828; Hertfordshire Oaths of Allegiance 1702 to 1732, 1723 to 1723 [In 1722 an Act was passed requiring 'every Person and Persons' to swear loyalty oaths to King George I by 25 December 1723]; North Riding Quarter Sessions Oaths of Supremacy and Allegiance)

CD Roms

Huguenot Society (Quarto series: Vol. XXVII-Letters of Denization and Acts of Naturalization in England and Ireland, 1701-1800)