Recusants

The name given to those in England and Wales and Ireland who refused to obey the Act of Uniformity* (1559) which required all subjects to acknowledge Queen Elizabeth as the Supreme Governor of the church and to attend services conducted according to the Prayer Book. The term was derived from the Latin verb recusare, “to refuse.” Although at first a fine of one shilling was levied against all those who disobeyed the law, because of threats of Roman Catholic invasions, plots against the queen's life and efforts, particularly in the north of England, to stir up rebellion, the penalties were greatly increased, culminating in death for treason. Numerous civil disabilities were also laid upon recusants, particularly in Ireland, reaching their climax after the “Glorious Revolution of 1688.” Not until the passing of the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 were most of the restrictions removed throughout Great Britain. A Roman Catholic still cannot become king or queen by the terms of the coronation oath.