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The Third Succession Act of King Henry VIII's reign was passed by the Parliament of England in July 1543, and returned both his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, to the line of the succession behind their half-brother Edward.

Succession to the Crown Act 1543
Citation35 Henry 8 c.1
Territorial extentKingdom of England
Royal assentJuly 1543
Other legislation
Relates to
Status: Repealed


The Act was formally titled the Succession to the Crown Act 35 Hen. 8 c.1, and is also known as the Act of Succession 1543. The royal assent was given to this bill in the spring of 1544 at the conclusion of the 1543/1544 Parliament, but until 1793 Acts were usually backdated to the beginning of the session of Parliament in which they were passed. (The Act is also often dated 1544.) It superseded the First Succession Act (1533) and the Second Succession Act (1536), whose effect was to declare both Mary and Elizabeth bastards, and allow Henry to name his own successor. When Henry's son Edward was born in 1537, he then became the heir to the throne. This new Act returned both of Henry's daughters Mary and Elizabeth to the line of succession, behind Edward, any potential children of his, and any potential children of Henry by his then wife, Catherine Parr or any future lawful wife Henry might have.

With the 1536 Act, Henry VIII was authorised to dispose of the Crown by letters patent or by will, in default of any legitimate heirs. This means that the place in the succession for Mary and/or Elizabeth remained doubtful. Henry's actual will (1547) simply confirmed their position as outlined in the 1543/44 statute. Mary and Elizabeth, who had both been declared illegitimate and incapable to inherit, expressly remained so in the 1543/44 Act; they were only capacitated to succeed to the Crown (with several provisos, such as they could not marry without the Privy Council's approval).

The Treason Act 1547 made it high treason to interrupt the line of succession to the throne established by the Act of Succession. Edward VI meant to bypass this Act in his "Devise for the Succession", issued as letters patent on 21 June 1553, by naming Lady Jane Grey as his successor in place of Mary.[1] Prevailing over Lady Jane Grey, Mary ascended the throne under the terms of the Third Succession Act.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dale Hoak. "Edward VI (1537–1553)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008. Retrieved 2010-04-04. (subscription required)

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