Act of Uniformity 1558

The Act of Uniformity 1558[1]

Long title An Acte for the Uniformitie of Common Prayoure and Dyvyne Service in the Churche, and the Administration of the Sacramentes.[2]
Citation 1 Eliz 1 c 2
Status: Repealed

The Act of Uniformity 1558 (1 Eliz 1 c 2) was an Act of the Parliament of England. It was actually passed in 1559.[3] It set the order of prayer to be used in the English Book of Common Prayer. All persons had to go to church once a week or be fined 12 pence (equivalent to just over £11 in 2007 [4]), a considerable sum for the poor.

After passage, fourteen bishops were dismissed from their sees, leaving all but one see, Llandaff, vacant.[5] A new Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, was appointed, and the question arose of how he could be consecrated while preserving the apostolic succession. The bishop of Llandaff, Anthony Kitchin, refused to officiate at Parker's consecration; thus instead bishops deposed and exiled by Mary assisted: William Barlow, former Bishop of Bath and Wells, John Scory, former Bishop of Chichester, Miles Coverdale, former Bishop of Exeter, and John Hodgkins, former Bishop of Bedford. Barlow and Hodgkins had been consecrated in 1536 and 1537 using the Pontifical, the Latin Rite. Barlow was chief consecrator of Parker. The other two had been consecrated using the First Book of Common Prayer. The solution would give rise many years later to the Nag's Head Fable.

The Act was part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement in England instituted by Elizabeth I, who wanted to unify the Anglican Church. Other Acts concerned with this settlement were the Act of Supremacy 1559 and the Thirty-Nine Articles (1563). Elizabeth was trying to achieve a settlement after thirty years of turmoil during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I, during which England had swung from Catholicism to Protestantism and back to Catholicism. The outcome of the Elizabethan Settlement was a sometimes tense and often fragile union of High Church and Low Church elements within the Church of England and Anglicanism worldwide.


In 1650 the Rump Parliament of Commonwealth of England repealed the Act on 27 September 1650 with the "Act for the Repeal of several Clauses in Statutes imposing Penalties for not coming to Church",[6] but this Act was rendered null and void with the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660.

Most of the Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1888.


  1. The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by section 5 of, and Schedule 2 to, the Statute Law Revision Act 1948. Due to the repeal of those provisions, it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.
  2. These words are printed against this Act in the second column of Schedule 2 to the Statute Law Revision Act 1948, which is headed "Title".
  3. Acts of Parliament were dated by regnal years, but, by legal convention (prior to the passage of the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793), an Act was deemed to have come into force on the first day of the session of Parliament in which it was passed.
  4. Measuring Worth - Purchasing Power of British Pound
  5. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
  6. Firth, C.H.; Rait, R.S., eds. (1911), "September 1650: Act for the Repeal of several Clauses in Statutes imposing Penalties for not coming to Church", Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660, pp. 423–425

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