An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

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Loyalty Oath to the English Sovereign

Beginning in 1549, a person ordained in the Church of England was required to swear an Oath of Loyalty to the sovereign. In the liturgy for ordaining deacons, the ordinand had to say: "I, A. B., utterly testify and declare in my conscience, That the King's Highness is the only Supream Governour of this Realm, and of all other his Highnesses Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spiritual or Ecclesiastical things or causes, as Temporal: And that no foreign Prince, Person, Prelate, State, or Potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority Ecclesiastical or Spiritual within this Realm. And therefore I do utterly denounce and forsake all foreign jurisdictions, powers, superiorities and authorities; and do promise, That from henceforth I shall bear faith and true allegiance to the King's Highness, His Heirs and Successors, and to my power shall assist and defend all jurisdictions, priviledges, pre-eminences and authorities granted or belonging to the King's Highness, His Heirs and Successors, or united and annexed to the Imperial Crown of this Realm. So help me God." All Church of England clergy in the American colonies had taken this oath of allegiance to the King. When the colonies declared independence from England, Loyalist clergy who believed this oath was binding fled the country. After American independence, the requirement for the loyalty oath delayed the ordination of Samuel Seabury as first Bishop of Connecticut and the first bishop in the Episcopal Church. Seabury was finally ordained bishop in Scotland by nonjuring bishops of the Episcopal Church in Scotland in 1784, with no loyalty oath to the English sovereign required. See Loyalists.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.