The Penal Laws


An Act for the Relief of the Protestant Purchasers of the forfeited Estates in Ireland (1702)
1 Ann c. 26

Sec. 15. No papist, during the time of his professing the popish religion, shall be capable to inherit, take or enjoy any other forfeited estates or interest therein, and if any person educated in the popish religion, or professing the same, shall not, within 6 months after the accruing of his title, or of attaining the age of 18, take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and the declaration against transubstantiation in the courts of Chancery or Kings-bench in England or Ireland, or in the quarter-sessions where such person shall reside, and continue to be a protestants, such person in respect of himself only, and not his heirs or posterity, shall be disabled to inherit or take any of the premises, or any trust or interest in the same, and during the life of such person, or until he shall take the oaths etc., the next of kindred who shall be a protestant, shall enjoy the premises.


An Act to Restrain Foreign Education (1695)
7 Will III. c.4

Sec. 1. In case any of his Majesty’s subjects of Ireland shall go or send any child or other person beyond the seas to be trained in any popish university, college or school, or in any private popish family, or shall send any money for the support of any such person, then the person sending and the person sent shall, upon conviction, be disabled to prosecute any action in a court of law, or be a guardian or executor, or receive any legacy or gift, or bear any public office, and shall forfeit all their lands and estates during their lives.

Sec. 9. Whereas it has been found by experience that tolerating at papists keeping schools or instructing youth in literature is one great reason of many of the natives continuing ignorant of the principles of the true religion, and strangers to the scriptures, and of their neglecting to conform themselves to the laws of this realm, and of their not using the English habit and language, no person of the popish religion shall publicly teach school or instruct youth, or in private houses teach youth, except only the children of the master or mistress of the private house, upon pain of twenty pounds, and prison for three months for every such offence.


An Act for the further regulating the Election of Members of Parliament (1727)
1 Geo II c.9

Sec. 7. No papist, though not convicted as such, shall be entitled to vote at the election of any member to serve in parliament, or at the election of any magistrate for any city or other town corporate.


An Act to prevent Protestants intermarrying with Papists (1697)
9 Will III c.3

Sec. 1.  Whereas many protestant women, heirs or heirs apparent to lands or other great substances in goods or chattels, or having considerable estates for life, or guardianship of children entitled to such estates, by flattery and other crafty insinuations of popish persons, have been seduced to contract matrimony with and take to husband, papists, to the great ruin of such estates, to the great loss of many protestant persons to whom the same might descend, and to the corrupting such protestant women that they forsake their religion and become papists, to the great dishonor of Almighty God, the great prejudice of the protestant interest, and the heavy sorrow of all their protestant friends, if any Protestant woman having any estate or interest real or, if personal of a value of 500 pounds, shall take to husband any person without first having a certificate from the minister of the parish, bishop, and justice of the peace living near the place where such person shall be resident at the time of such marriage, that he is a known protestant, which certificate shall also be attested under the hands of 2 credible witnesses, that protestant woman, and the person she shall so marry, shall be incapable of holding or enjoying any of her aforesaid estates or interests.

And by such marriage all said estates and interests shall be vested in the next protestant of kin to whom such estate or interests would descend were such protestant woman dead. And such protestant person may sue for and recover such estates or interests at any time after such marriage.

Sec. 2.  And whereas the marriages of protestant persons to popish maidens and women have proved pernicious to the protestant interest, it commonly happening such protestants and their issue, being influenced by their popish wives, become papists, any protestant man who shall marry any woman without having obtained a certificate as in section 1 hereof, of her being a known protestant, such protestant man shall be in law deemed a papist, or popish recusant, unless such person shall within one year of such marriage, procure his wife to be converted to the protestant religion.

Arms and Defense

An Act for the Better Securing the Government, by Disarming Papists (1695)
7 Will III c.5

Sec. 1. All papists within this kingdom of Ireland shall before the 1st day of March, 1696, deliver up to some justice of the peace or corporation officer where such papist shall dwell, all their arms and ammunition, notwithstanding any license for keeping the same heretofore granted. Justices of the peace, mayors, sheriffs, and chief officers of cities and towns and persons under their warrants, may search and seize all arms and ammunition of papists, or in the hands of any persons in trust for them, wherever they shall suspect they may be concealed. And such arms shall be preserved for the use of his Majesty.

Sec. 10. No papist shall be capable of having or keeping for his use, any horse, gelding or mare of five pounds value. Any protestant who shall make discovery under oath of such horse, shall be authorized with the assistance of a constable, to search for and secure such horse and in case of resistance to break down any door. And any protestant making such discovery and offering five pounds five shillings to the owner of such horse, in the presence of a justice of the peace or chief magistrate, shall receive ownership of such horse as though such horse were bought in the market overt.

An Act to make the Militia of this Kingdom more useful (1715)
2 George I c.9

Sec 1.  Whereas there have been frequent rebellions and insurrections formerly raised in this kingdom by the popish inhabitants, and whereas there is just reasons to apprehend that the main body of papists may hereafter again endeavor to disturb the public peace and tranquility, the chief governors of this kingdom may commission certain protestants to call together all persons being protestants and form them into militia, train the same, and raise money from the inhabitants of the several counties toward the support of the militia.

Full text of Penal Laws at



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