Protestation Returns

The protestation was an oath of allegiance to the King and the established church. Just prior to the English Civil War a bill was passed in Parliament in July 1641 requiring those over the age of 18 to sign the Protestation. In practice, this meant all men, as women were not usually asked to sign. No one was allowed to hold office in the church or the state unless they signed. Accordingly a committee of ten members was appointed to draw up a form of Protestation and it was ordered that no member should stir out of the House without leave, nor speak to the messengers. The Protestation was agreed upon and all members were ordered to sign it. On the following day, the 4th May, the Protestation was agreed to by the House of Lords and all the Protestant Peers signed it.

I, A.B., do in the presence of Almighty God, promise, vow and protest to maintain and defend, as far as lawfully I may, with my Life, Power and Estate the true Reformed Protestant Religion, expressed in the Doctrine of the Church of England, against all Popery and Popish Innovations within this Realm, contrary to the same Doctrine, and according to the Duty of my Allegiance, His Majesty's Royal, Person, Honour and Estate, as also the Power and Privileges of Parliaments, the lawful Rights and Liberties of the Subjects, and every person that maketh this Protestation, in whatsoever he shall do in the lawful Pursuance of the same; and to my power, and as far as lawfully I may, I will oppose and by all good Ways and Means endeavour to bring to condign Punishment all such as shall, either by Force, Practice Counsels, Plots, Conspiracies, or otherwise, do any Thing to the contrary of any Thing in this present Protestation contained; and further, that I shall in all just and honourable Ways, endeavour to preserve the Union and Peace betwixt the three Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland: and neither for Hope, Fear, nor any other Respect, shall relinquish this Promise, Vow and Protestation.

A letter was sent by the Speaker of the House of Commons to the sheriffs instructing them to take the protestation with the justices of the peace in their county, and then the incumbent of each parish was to read the protestation to his parishioners and they were all to sign. This took place in February and March 1641/2. The Protestation Returns were then sent back to Parliament.