Act of Settlement 1701

Act of Settlement 1701

Context and Adoption

  • The Act of Settlement 1701 was enacted by the Parliament of England to secure the Protestant succession to the throne.
  • It was passed because the preceding Act of 1689 failed to ensure a Protestant-successor following Queen Anne, a decision shaped by the political and religious context of the era.

Key Provisions

  • The Act declared that only a Protestant could hold the British throne.
  • It mandated that any future monarch must be in communion with the Church of England.
  • It barred any monarch from leaving England without the Parliament’s consent.
  • The Act also imposed limitations on the royal prerogative: the monarch was prohibited from engaging in war without parliamentary consent.

Influence on British Politics

  • The Act of Settlement 1701 laid the groundwork for the UK’s constitutional monarchy and reinforced parliamentary authority.
  • It emphasized that the sovereign must consult with Parliament on important matters, a significant milestone towards the prominence of Parliament in governance.
  • It further excluded Catholics from the monarchy and codified anti-Catholic sentiments into law.

Legacy and Later Amendments

  • The Act remains part of the law, but amendments have been made over the centuries. Most recently, the Perth Agreement of 2011 led to the enactment of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.
  • The 2013 Act ended male primogeniture, allowing the first-born child, regardless of gender, to succeed the throne.

Overall, the Act of Settlement 1701 was instrumental in defining the relationship between the monarchy and Parliament, playing an enduring role in UK governance.