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Last Updated 05/24/00

Records of the Moravians in North Carolina
edited by Adelaide L. Fries and others


1749: ACT OF ENGLISH PARLIAMENT

[English]

An ACT for Encouraging the People known by the Name of Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, to settle in His Majesty’s Colonies in America.

WHEREAS many of the People of the Church or Congregation called the Unitas Fratrum, or United Brethren, are settled in his Majesty’s Colonies in America, and demean themselves there as a sober, quiet, and industrious People; and many others of the same Persuasion are desirous to transport themselves to, and make larger Settlements in, the said Colonies at their own Expense, provided they may be indulged with a full Liberty of Conscience, and in the Exercise of the Religion they profess; and several of the said Brethren do conscientiously scruple the taking of an Oath, and likewise do conscientiously scruple bearing Arms, or personally serving in any military Capacity, although they are willing and ready to contribute whatever Sums of Money shall be thought a reasonable Compensation for such Service, and which shall be necessary for the Defence and Support of his Majesty’s Person and Government:

AND WHEREAS the said Congregations are an antient Protestant Episcopal Church, which has been countenanced and relieved by the Kings of England, your Majesty’s Predecessors:

AND WHEREAS the Encouraging the said People to settle in America will be beneficial to the said Colonies: THEREFORE,

May it please your MAJESTY,

At the humble Petition of Abraham Baron of Gersdorff, *  *  * Deputies from the said Moravian Churches, in behalf of themselves and their United Brethren, That it may be Enacted; And be it therefore Enacted, by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the Authority of the same, That from and after the Twenty-fourth Day of June One thousand Seven hundred and Forty-nine, every Person being a member of said Protestant Episcopal Church known by the Name of Unitas Fratrum, or the United Brethren, and which Church was formerly settled in Moravia and Bohemia, and are now in Prussia, Poland, Silesia, Lusatia, Germany, the United Provinces, and also in his Majesty’s Dominions, who shall be required upon any lawful Occasion to take an Oath in any Case where by Law an Oath is or shall be required, shall, instead of the usual Form, be permitted to make his or her solemn Affirmation of Declaration in these Words following:

I A. B. do declare in the Presence of Almighty God, the Witness of the Truth of what I say

Which said solemn Affirmation or Declaration shall be adjudged and taken, and is hereby Enacted and Declared to be of the same Force and Effect, to all Intents and Purposes, in all Courts of Justice, and other Places where by Law an Oath is or shall be required within any of his Majesty’s Dominions in the Kingdom of Great Britain, Ireland, Dominion of Wales, or town of Berwick upon Tweed, and also in all and every of his Majesty’s Colonies and Dominions in America, as if such Person had taken an Oath in the usual Form.

And be it further Enacted, *  *  *  [To declare falsely shall incur the same penalties as perjury] *  *  *

Provided, and be it Enacted, That no Person, being of the said Church or Congregation called the Moravian or United Brethren, shall by Virtue of this Act be qualified to give Evidence in any Criminal Causes, or to serve on Juries; anything contained in this Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

And be it further Enacted, that every Person who is a Member of the said Church or Congregation who shall reside in any of his Majesty’s Colonies in America, who shall at any time after the said Twenty-fourth Day of June One thousand Seven hundred and Forty-nine be summoned to bear Arms, or do military Service, in any of his Majesty’s said Colonies or Provinces of America, shall on his Application to the Governor or Commander in Chief of the said Colony or Province, or to such Officer or Person, by whom such person shall have been summoned or required to serve, or be mustered, be discharged from such personal Service; provided that such Person, so desiring to be discharged from such personal Service, contribute and pay such Sum of Money as shall be rated and assessed on him in lieu of such personal Service, so as such Sum shall be rated, assessed, and levied, and be in such Proportion as is usually rated, assessed, levied and paid, by other Persons residing in the same Colony or Province, who are by reason of Age, Sex, or other Infirmity, unable to do personal Service, and who are possessed of Estates of the same Nature as the Persons desiring such Discharge.

AND, to prevent any doubt which may arise *  *  *   [persons claiming exemption shall show certificate of membership signed by the Bishop or Pastor of the Moravian Congregation to which they belong] *  *  * 

AND, that it may be known whether such Bishops and Pastors *  *  be of the Church known by the Name of Unitas Fratrum *  *  *  [a list of the Bishops, with their handwritings and seals, shall be laid before the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, with necessary additions from time to time] *  *  *

And be it Enacted and Declared, by the Authority aforesaid, That this Act shall be deemed, adjudged and taken to be a publick Act; and shall be judicially taken Notice of as such by all Judges, Justices, and other Persons whatsoever, without specially pleading the same.



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