From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Act of Uniformity was an Act of the
Parliament of England, 14 Charles
II c. 4 (1662),[nb 1]
which prescribed the form of public prayers, administration of sacraments, and other rites of the Established Church of England, following
all the rites and ceremonies in the Book of
Common Prayer. It also required episcopal ordination for all ministers, which was
reintroduced after the Puritans had abolished many features of the
Church during the Civil War.
An immediate result of this Act, nearly 2,000 clergymen chose to
leave the established church in what became known as
the Great Ejection of 1662.
The provisions of the Act of Uniformity 1662 were
modified by the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act, of 1872.
The Act of Uniformity itself is one of four crucial pieces of
legislation, known as the Clarendon Code,
named after Edward
Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, Charles' Lord Chancellor. They
- Corporation Act (1661) - This first of the
four statutes which made up the Clarendon Code required all
municipal officials to take Anglican communion, and formally reject
the Solemn League and Covenant
of 1643. The effect of this act was to exclude nonconformists from public office. This
legislation was rescinded in 1828.
- Act of Uniformity (1662) - This second statute
made use of the Book of Common Prayer compulsory in religious
service. Upwards of 2000 clergy refused to comply with this act,
and were forced to resign their livings.
- Conventicle Act (1664) - This act
forbade conventicles (a meeting for unauthorized worship) of more
than 5 people who were not members of the same household. The
purpose was to prevent dissenting religious groups from
- Five Mile Act (1665) - This final act of
the Clarendon Code was aimed at Nonconformist ministers, who were
forbidden from coming within five miles of incorporated towns or
the place of their former livings. They were also forbidden to
teach in schools. This act was not rescinded until 1812.
Combined with the Test
Act, the Corporation Acts excluded all
nonconformists from holding civil or military office, and prevented
them from being awarded degrees by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford.
The Book of Common Prayer introduced
by Charles II was substantially the same as Elizabeth's version of
1559, itself based on Cranmer's earlier versions of 1549 and
1552. Apart from minor changes this remains the official and
permanent legal version of prayer authorised by Parliament and
The '16 Charles II c. 2' nomenclature is reference to the statute
book of the numbered year of the reign of the named King in the
stated chapter. This is the method used for Acts of
Parliament from before 1962.