Forfeiture Act 1870

The Forfeiture Act 1870 (33 & 34 Vict c 23) is a British Act of Parliament that abolished the automatic forfeiture of goods and land as a punishment for treason and felony. It does not apply to Scotland,[1] which did not fully abolish forfeiture until the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1949. Prior to the Act being passed, a person convicted of treason or felony automatically and permanently forfeited all of his lands and possessions to the Crown. The old offence of praemunire, which was also punished with forfeiture, was only a misdemeanour, and so the Act did not apply to it.[2]

Forfeiture Act 1870[a]
Long titleAn Act to abolish Forfeitures for Treason and Felony, and to otherwise amend the Law relating thereto.
Citation33 & 34 Vict c 23
Territorial extent England and Wales, Northern Ireland
Royal assent4 July 1870
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

Although the Act is mostly repealed today, section 2 remains in force and states that anyone convicted of treason shall be disqualified from holding public office, shall lose his right to vote in elections (except in elections to local authorities),[3][4][5] and lose his pension. (His pension can however be restored, in whole or in part, under section 70 of the Criminal Justice Act 1948.)

Section 31 of the Forfeiture Act also abolished the final incarnation of the punishment of being hanged, drawn and quartered, which had been law in various forms since ancient times.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title was authorised by the Short Titles Act 1896, section 1 and the first schedule.  Due to the repeal of those provisions it is now authorised by section 19(2) of the Interpretation Act 1978.


  1. ^ Section 33
  2. ^ Kenny, C. Outlines of Criminal Law (Cambridge University Press, 1936), 15th edition, p. 323
  3. ^ Local Government Act 1933, Schedules 10 and 11 (Part IV)
  4. ^ Local Government Act 1939, Schedule 8
  5. ^ Local Government (Members and Officers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1964, Schedule

External linksEdit