Popery Act 1698
Section I was intended to address an alleged recent growth of Roman Catholicism by ensuring the existing anti-Catholic laws were more strongly applied. To this end, it provided that any person who apprehended a "Popish Bishop, Priest or Jesuite" who was then prosecuted for "saying Mass or exerciseing any other Part of the Office or Function of a Popish Bishop or Priest within these Realmes" was to receive £100 from the Sheriff of that county within four months of the priest's conviction. In effect, it placed a bounty on Roman Catholic priests. Section II provided for the Treasury to reimburse Sheriffs for money expended on such payments.
Section III, expanding on the existing legislation, enacted that if a Catholic priest took Mass, etc., as above; or if any Catholic clergy or layperson ran a school or "take upon themselves the Education or Government or Boarding of Youth"; then they were, on conviction, liable to "perpetuall Imprisonment" at the discretion of the King.
The Papists Act 1778 exempted those taking the oath under that act from some of the provisions of the Popery Act 1698. The section as to taking and prosecuting priests was repealed, as well as the penalty of perpetual imprisonment for keeping a school. The Act was repealed by section 1 of the Religious Disabilities Act 1846.
- 'William III, 1698-9: An Act for the further preventing the Growth of Popery. [Chapter IV. Rot. Parl. 11 Gul. III. p. 2. n. 2.]', Statutes of the Realm: volume 7: 1695-1701 (1820), pp. 586-87. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=46963. Date accessed: 16 February 2007.
- Religious Disabilities Act 1846 (9 & 10 Vict c 59)
- The Law & Working of the Constitution: Documents 1660-1914, ed. W. C. Costin & J. Steven Watson. A&C Black, 1952. Vol. I (1660–1783), p. 90-1.