Definition of Test Act in English:

Test Act


  • 1(in the UK) an act in force between 1673 and 1828 that made an oath of allegiance to the Church of England and the supremacy of the monarch as its head and repudiation of the doctrine of transubstantiation a condition of eligibility for public office.

    • ‘James II, when duke of York, was forced to resign as lord high admiral because the oath of office under the Test Act contained a declaration against transubstantiation which, as a Catholic, he could not take.’
    • ‘By 1675 the resurgent anti-tolerationists were seeking to extend the Test Act by enforcing an oath on all office-holders binding them not to endeavour the alteration of the Government either in Church or State.’
    • ‘When the Test Act requiring all who held public office to receive Holy Communion in the Church of Ireland was passed in 1704, two thirds of the members of Derry Corporation were removed when they failed to fulfil the law.’
    • ‘In 1828, he reluctantly became prime minister and allowed the repeal of the Test Act, the Corporation Act and put through the Catholic Emancipation bill - all of which he opposed, but the public demanded.’
    • ‘There was a powerful public reaction, which linked fear of royal absolutism to fear of Catholic plotting, and forced on the king the Test Act of 1673, specifically barring Catholics from any public functions.’
  • 2(in the UK) an act of 1871 relaxing restrictions on university entrance for candidates who were not members of the Church of England.

    • ‘The University Test Act 1871 abolished the theological tests required for the MA degree and for Oxford University and College offices.’
    • ‘The requirement for men attending or teaching at Oxford and Cambridge Universities was not lifted until the passing of the Universities Test Act in 1871.’
    • ‘The origins of St Edmund's College lay in the repeal of the Test Act in 1871, permitting Jewish, Non-Conformist and Roman Catholic scholars to return to the University of Cambridge for the first time since the religious revolution of the sixteenth century.’