Friday, 22 April 2016

A-Z Challenge 2016: S is for Sacrament Certificate

Following on from yesterday's 'R is for Recusant Rolls', today's letter goes into a little more detail about what a recusant (especially a Roman Catholic recusant) was supposed to do when it came to sacrament certificates.

A certificate was required by the Quarter Sessions (my letter Q post) to prove that a particular individual who held an official post (civil or military) had:

a) taken the sacrament in a church of the established religion (i.e. not nonconformist)
b) taken an oath that the current king had sole authority in the land

The law began in 1673 and was not repealed until 1828.  The certificates are another source you can look at during your visit to the local county record office.  And this was not just a quick "yes, I agree" like you get in a lot of software these days.  The wording of the oath was really quite violent:

" swear that I do from my heart abhor, detest and abjure, as impious and heretical, that damnable doctrine and position 'That Princes excommunicated or deprived by the Pope or any Authority of the See of Rome may be deposed or murdered by their Subjects or any other whatever.'...I do declare that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath, or ought to have, any jurisdiction, power, superiority, preminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual within this Realm.  So help me God."


© 2016 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. When my daughters friend asked her to be godmother of their child, my daughter had to give proof to the priest that she had taken her first communion and confirmation. Good thing I gave in toy MIL and had her do the sacrements.

    1. You have to prove just about everything nowadays, don't you? I have just received my new passport - not because I want to travel, but because I need to be able to prove I exist!

  2. This just seems so overwhelming as to where to search and how to.

    1. I think you would have to narrow it down to a location first. For instance, looking for the sacrament certificates for the town of Ottery St Mary. The staff at the local record offices are very helpful.



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