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b:blasphemy

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Blasphemy

9 & 10 Will. 3. c. 32., intituled “An Act for the more effectual suppressing of Blasphemy and Profaneness.”

“ Whereas many persons have of late years openly avowed and published many blasphemous and impious Opinions, contrary to the Doctrines and Principles of the Christian Religion, greatly tending to the Dishonour of Almighty God, and may prove destructive to the Peace and Welfare of this Kingdom.

Wherefore for the more effectual suppressing of the said detestable Crimes, be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and the Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same. That if any Person or Persons, having been educated in or at any Time having made Profession of the Christian Religion within this Realm, shall by Writing, Printing, Teaching, or advised Speaking, deny any one of the Persons in the Holy Trinity to be God, or shall assert or maintain there are more Gods than one, or shall deny the Christian Religion to be true, or the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be of Divine Authority, and shall upon Indictment or Information in any of his Majesty's Courts at Westminster, or at the Assizes, be thereof lawfully convicted by the Oath of two or more credible Witnesses.

Such Person or Persons for the first Offence shall be adjudged incapable and disabled in Law, to all Intents and Purposes whatsoever, to have or enjoy any Office or Offices, Employment or Employments, Ecclesiastical, Civil, or Military, or any Part in them, or any Profit or Advantage appertaining to them, or any of them.

And if any Person or Persons so convicted as aforesaid, shall at the Time of his or their Conviction, enjoy or possess any Office, Place, or Employment, such Office, Place, or Employment shall be void, and is hereby declared void: And if such Person or Persons shall be a second Time lawfully convicted as aforesaid, of all or any the aforesaid Crime or Crimes, that then he or they shall from thenceforth be disabled to sue, prosecute, plead or use any Action or Information in any Court of Law or Equity, or to be Guardian of any Child, or Executor or Administrator of any Person, or capable of any Legacy or Deed of Gift, or to bear any Office, Civil or Military, or Benefice Ecclesiastical for ever within this Realm, and shall also suffer Imprisonment for the Space of Three Years, without Bail or Mainprize, from the Time of such Conviction.

s. 2. “Provided always, [and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That no Person shall be prosecuted by virtue of this Act, for any Words spoken, unless the Information of such Words shall be given upon Oath before one or more Justice or Justices of the Peace, within four Days after such Words spoken, and the Prosecution of such Offence be within three Months after such Information.

s. 3. “Provided also, and be it enacted by the Authority aforesaid, That any Person or Persons convicted of all or any of the aforesaid Crime or Crimes, in Manner aforesaid, shall for the first Offence (upon his, her, or their Acknowledgment and Renunciation of such Offence or erroneous Opinions, in the same Court where such Person or Persons was or were convicted, as aforesaid, within the Space of four Months after his, her, or their Conviction) be discharged from all Penalties and Disabilities incurred by such Conviction; any thing in this Act contained to the contrary thereof in anywise notwithstanding.”

Repealed as to denying the Trinity, by 53 Geo. 3. c. 160. s. 2. which is extended to Ireland by 57 Geo. 3. c. 70. — See Libels.

53 Geo. 3. c. 1 60., intituled, “An Act to relieve Persons who impugn the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity from certain Penalties.”

s. 2. “And be it further enacted. That the Provisions of another Act passed in the Ninth and Tenth Years of the Reign of King William, intituled An Act for the more effectual suppressing Blasphemy and Profaneness, so far as the same relate to Persons denying as therein mentioned, respecting the Holy Trinity, be and the same are hereby repealed.

s. 3. “And whereas it is expedient to repeal an Act, passed in the Parliament of Scotland in the First Parliament of King Charles the Second, intituled. An Act against the Crime of Blasphemy; and another Act, passed in the Parliament of Scotland in the First Parliament of King William, intituled Act against Blasphemy; which Acts respectively ordain the Punishment of Death; be it therefore enacted, That the said Acts and each of them shall be, and the same are and is hereby repealed.

s. 4. “And be it further enacted. That this Act shall be deemed and taken to be a Public Act, and shall be judicially taken Notice of as such by all Judges, Justices, and others, without being specially pleaded,”

60 Geo. 3. c. 8. “An Act for the more effectual Prevention and Punishment of blasphemous and seditious Libels.”

” Whereas it is expedient to make more effectual Provision for the Punishment of blasphemous and seditious Libels; be it enacted by the King's most excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same. That from and after the passing of this Act, in every Case in which any Verdict or Judgment by Default shall be had against any Person for composing, printing, or publishing any blasphemous Libel, or any seditious Libel, tending to bring into Hatred or Contempt the Person of His Majesty, His Heirs or Successors, or the Regent, or the Government and Constitution of the United Kingdom as by Law established, or either House of Parliament, or to excite His Majesty's Subjects to attempt the Alteration of any Matter in Church or State as by Law established, otherwise than by lawful Means.

It shall be lawful for the Judge, or the Court before whom or in which such Verdict shall have been given, or the Court in which such Judgment by Default shall be had, to make an Order for the Seizure and carrying away, and detaining in safe Custody in such Manner as shall be directed in such Order, all Copies of the Libel which shall be in the Possession of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, or in the Possession of any other Person named in the Order for his Use.

Evidence upon Oath having been previously given to the Satisfaction of such Court or Judge, that a Copy or Copies of the said Libel is or are in the Possession of such other Person for the Use of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had as aforesaid; and in every such Case it shall be lawful for any Justice of the Peace, or for any Constable or other Peace Officer acting under any such Order, or for any Person or Persons acting with or in Aid of any such Justice of the Peace, Constable, or other Peace Officer, to search for any Copies of such Libel in any House, Building, or other Place whatsoever belonging to the Person against whom any such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, or to any other Person so named, in whose Possession any Copies of any such Libel, belonging to the Person against whom any such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had, shall be; and in case Admission shall be refused or not obtained within a reasonable Time after it shall have been first demanded, to enter by Force by Day into any such House, Building, or Place whatsoever, and to carry away all Copies of the Libel there found, and to detain the same in safe Custody until the same shall be restored under the Provisions of this Act, or disposed of according to any further Order made in relation thereto.

s. 2. “And be it further enacted. That if in any such Case as aforesaid Judgment shall be arrested, or if, after Judgment shall have been entered, the same shall be reversed upon any Writ of Error, all Copies so seized shall be forthwith returned to the Person or Persons from whom the same shall have been so taken as aforesaid, free of all Charge and Expence, and without the Payment of any Fees whatever; and in every Case in which final Judgment shall be entered upon the Verdict so found against the Person or Persons charged with having composed, printed, or published such Libel, then all Copies so seized shall be disposed of as the Court in which such Judgment shall be given shall order and direct.

s. 3. “Provided always, and be it enacted, That in Scotland, in every Case in which any Person or Persons shall be found guilty before the Court of Justiciary, of composing, printing, or publishing any blasphemous or seditious Libel, or where Sentence of Fugitation shall have been pronounced against any Person or Persons, in consequence of their failing to appear to answer to any Indictment charging them with having composed, printed, or published any such Libel, then and in either of such Cases, it shall and may be lawful for the said Court to make an Order for the Seizure, carrying away, and detaining in safe Custody, all Copies of the Libel in the Possession of any such Person or Persons named in such Order, for his or their Use, Evidence upon Oath having been previously given to the Satisfaction of such Court or Judge, that a Copy or Copies of the said Libel is or are in the Possession of such other Person for the Use of the Person against whom such Verdict or Judgment shall have been had as aforesaid; and every such Order so made shall and may be carried into effect, in such and the same Manner as any Order made by the Court of Justiciary, or any Circuit Court of Justiciary, may be carried into Effect according to the Law and Practice of Scotland.

Provided always, that in the Event of any Person or Persons being reponed against any such Sentence of Fugitation, and being thereafter acquitted, all Copies so seized shall be forthwith returned to the Person or Persons from whom the same shall have been so taken as aforesaid; and in all other Cases, the Copies so seized shall be disposed of in such Manner as the said Court may direct.

s. 4. “And be it further enacted. That if any Person shall, after the passing of this Act, be legally convicted of having, after the passing of this Act, composed, printed, or published any blasphemous Libel or any such seditious Libel as aforesaid, and shall, after being so convicted, offend a Second Time, and be thereof legally convicted before any Commission of Oyer and Terminer or Gaol Delivery, or in His Majesty's Court of King's Bench, such Person may, on such Second Conviction, be adjudged, at the Discretion of the Court, either to suffer such Punishment as may now by Law be inflicted in Cases of high Misdemeanors, or to be banished from the United Kingdom, and all other Parts of His Majesty's Dominions, for such Term of Years as the Court in which such Conviction shall take place shall order.

s. 5. “And be it further enacted. That in case any Person so sentenced and ordered to be banished as aforesai4 shall not depart from this United Kingdom within Thirty Days after the pronouncing of such Sentence and Order as foresaid, for the Purpose of going into such Banishment as aforesaid, it shall and may be lawful to and for His Majesty to convey such Person to such Parts out of the Dominions of His said Majesty, as His Majesty by and with the Advice of His Privy Council shall direct.

s. 6. “And be it further enacted, That if any Offender who shall be so ordered by any such Court as aforesaid to be banished in Manner aforesaid, shall after the End of Forty Days from the Time such Sentence and Order hath been pronounced, be at large within any Part of the United Kingdom, or any other Part of His Majesty's Dominions, without some lawful Cause, before the Expiration of the Term for which such Offender shall have been so ordered to be banished as aforesaid, every such Offender being so at large as aforesaid, being thereof lawfully convicted, shall be transported to such Place as shall be appointed by His Majesty for any Term not exceeding Fourteen Years.

s. 7. “And be it further enacted, That the Clerk of Assize, Clerk of the Peace, or other Clerk or Officer of the Court having the Custody of the Records where any Offender shall have been convicted of having composed, printed, or published any blasphemous or seditious Libel, shall, upon Request of the Prosecutor on His Majesty's Behalf, make out and give a Certificate in Writing, signed by him, containing the Effect and Substance only (omitting the formal Part) of every Indictment and Conviction of such Offender to the Justices of Assize, Oyer and Terminer, Great Sessions, or Gaol Delivery, where such Offender or Offenders shall be indicted for any Second Offence of composing, printing, or publishing any blasphemous or seditious Libel, for which Certificate Six Shillings and Eight-pence and no more shall be paid, and which Certificate shall be sufficient Proof of the Conviction of such Offender.

s. 8. “And be it further enacted. That any Action and Suit which shall be brought or commenced against any Justice or Justices of the Peace, Constable, Peace Officer, or other Person or Persons, within that Part of Great Britain called England, or in Ireland, for any thing done or acted in pursuance of this Act, shall be commenced within Six Calendar Months next after the Fact committed, and not afterwards; and the Venue in every such Action or Suit shall be laid in the proper County where the Fact was committed, and not elsewhere; and the Defendant or Defendants in every such Action or Suit may plead the General Issue, and give this Act and the special Matter in Evidence at any Trial to be had thereupon.

And if such Action or Suit shall be brought or commenced after the Time limited for bringing the same, or the Venue shall be laid in any other Place than as aforesaid, then the Jury shall find a Verdict for the Defendant or Defendants; and in such Case, or if the Jury shall find a Verdict for the Defendant or Defendants upon the Merits, or if the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs shall become Nonsuit, or discontinue his, her, or their Actions after Appearance, or if, upon Demurrer, Judgment shall be given against the Plaintiff or Plaintiffs, the Defendant or Defendants shall have Double Costs, which he or they shall and may recover in such and the same Manner as any Defendant can by Law in other Cases.

s. 9. “And be it further enacted, That every Action and Suit which shall be brought or commenced against any Person or Persons in Scotland, for any thing done or acted in pursuance of this Act, shall in like Manner be commenced within Six Calendar Months after the Fact committed, and not afterwards, and shall be brought in the Court of Session in Scotland; and the Defender or Defenders may plead that the Matter complained of was done in pursuance of this Act, and may give this Act and the special Matter in Evidence; and if such Action or Suit shall be brought or commenced after the Time limited for bringing the same, then the same shall be dismissed; and in such Case, or if the Defender or Defenders shall be assoilzied, or the Pursuer or Pursuers shall suffer the Action or Suit to fall asleep, or a Decision shall be pronounced against the Pursuer or Pursuers upon the Relevancy, the Defender or Defenders shall have Double Costs, which he or they shall and may receive in such and the same Manner as any Defender can by Law recover Costs or Expences in other Cases.

s. 10. “Provided always, and be it further enacted, That nothing in this Act contained shall be held or considered as in any respect altering the Law or Practice of Scotland regarding the Punishment of Persons convicted of composing, printing, publishing, or circulating any blasphemous or seditious Libel.” — See Libels.

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