Home » Human Life » A Certificate of the Lord’s Supper for John Wildman of Whitechapel 1812

A Certificate of the Lord’s Supper for John Wildman of Whitechapel 1812

Regular readers will know that Eric Pemberton often sends in pieces of local history which often throws a light on the more unusual aspects of history. His latest document is very topical considering it is nearly  Guy Fawkes Night.

As many people will know Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 which was a failed attempt by a group of English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state.

Anti-Catholic sentiment was strong in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries with constant fears of a Catholic rebellion. One way that parliament sought to prevent the country from being taken over was to pass the ‘ Act for preventing Dangers which may happen from Popish Recusants’ (1673) which became better known as the Test Act.

The Test Acts were religious tests for public office and imposed severe restrictions on Roman Catholics, the principle was that only people taking communion in the established Church of England would be eligible for public employment. The oath for the Test Act of 1673 was:

I do declare that I do believe that there is not any transubstantiation in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or in the elements of the bread and wine, at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever.

Of course, no Catholic would agree with such an oath and therefore they would not be eligible for public office.

The sacrament had to be taken within three months after being admitted to office, and after the communion they were given a sacrament certificate signed by the minister and churchwarden of the parish and witnessed by two witnesses.

It is one of these sacrament certificates that Eric has sent in, the certificates were also known as a Certificate of the Lord’s Supper and in this particular case was in the name of John Wildman who attended the Parish Church of St. Mary, Whitechapel on the 5th day of April 1812. The certificate was signed by Daniel Mathias, Minister and Wm.Cooke, Churchwarden. Witnessed by John Flood and Thos. Barnes. Written on the certificate is sworn in Court 17th April 1812. At the top of the certificate is a Five Shilling Revenue Stamp.

Although the information on the certificate is quite limited, these certificates were produced in large numbers and are sometimes of interest to those looking into family histories and you can occasionally find the signatures of famous people of the time.

This particular certificate of 1812 is quite late because the Test Acts were abolished in 1828.

Many thanks to Eric for sending in this fascinating item.

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