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Act of Uniformity 1558

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The Act of Uniformity 1558 (1 Eliz 1 c 2) was an Act of the Parliament of England passed in 1559.[nb 1] 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.

The Act of Uniformity 1558[1]
Long titleAn Acte for the Uniformitie of Common Prayoure and Dyvyne Service in the Churche, and the Administration of the Sacramentes.[2]
Citation1 Eliz 1 c 2
Status: Repealed

The Act was part of the Elizabethan Religious Settlement in England instituted by Elizabeth I, who wanted to unify the 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In 1650 the Rump Parliament of Commonwealth of England repealed the Act on 27 September 1650 with the "Act for the Repeal of several Clauses in Statutes imposing Penalties for not coming to Church",[5] but this Act was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Most of the Act was repealed by the Statute Law Revision Act 1888.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 Act of Uniformity was passed in April 1559.[3] However, all Acts of Parliament prior to the Acts of Parliament (Commencement) Act 1793 were ex post facto laws that came into effect on the first day of the session. The first Parliament of Elizabeth I met three months earlier in January 1558; the year 1559 did not begin until 25 March 1559. Therefore, the Act of Uniformity was officially dated 1558 by the Statute Law Revision Act 1948.


  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. ^ "Elizabeth's Act of Uniformity (1559), 1 Elizabeth, Cap. 2". Hanover Historical Texts Project. March 2001. Retrieved 23 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Measuring Worth - Purchasing Power of British Pound". Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 30 March 2008.
  5. ^ 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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