Oath of Allegiance

The oath to the sovereign taken by the clergy of the Church of England at ordination and on admission to a benefice. Such an oath existed before the Reformation; but at that time a supplementary Oath of Supremacy was introduced, recognizing the Crown as supreme in spiritual as well as temporal matters, and renouncing allegiance to any foreign jurisdiction (i.e., the pope). The equivalent declaration enjoined in the Elizabethan Supremacy Act was later incorporated in the 1604 Canons as part of clerical subscription to the Anglican establishment, alongside acceptance of the Book of Common Prayer and the Thirty-Nine Articles.* In 1865 the form of clerical subscription laid down in this canon was altered, and all reference to royal supremacy thereby omitted. Consequently, the form of the oath of allegiance was altered by Parliament in 1868. The occasions when the oath is required remain unaltered, but exceptions are made in the new Canons of 1969 to cover overseas clergy serving in England.