Recusan is, in English law, a person, whether Papist or Protestant, who refuses or neglects to attend at the worship of the Established Church on Sundays and other days appointed for the purpose. The offence may be dated back in its origin to 1534, when king Henry became head of the Church; but, as a legal one, may be held to date from 1 Elizabeth, c . 2. "There were four classes punishable under the statutes against recusancy: simple 'recusants;' 'recusants convict,' who asented themselves after conviction; 'popish recusants,' who absented themselves because of their being Roman Catholics; and 'popish recusants convict.' who absented themselves after conviction. It was against the last two classes that the statutes were mainly directed. In addition to the general penalties of recusancy, the popish recusants, for wilfully hearing mass, forfeited 100 marks (£66 13s. 4d.); and for saying mass, 200 marks, or £133 6s. 8d., in addition (in both cases) to a year's imprisonment. They were disabled, unless they renounced popery, from inheriting, purchasing, or otherwise acquiring lands; and they could not keep or teach schools under pain of perpetual imprisonment. Popish recusants convict could not hold any public office; could not keep arms in their houses; could not appear within ten miles of London under penalty of £100; could not travel above five miles from home without license; could not bring any action at law or equity; could not have baptism, marrige, or burial performed except by an Anglican minister — all under penalties of forfeiture and imprisonment. Protestant dissenting recusants were relieved from the penalties of recusation by the Toleration Act of I William and Mary, c. 18. Catholics were partially relieved in the year 1791, and completely by the Emancipation Act of 1829." SEE MEMBERSHIP (IN THE CHURCH).

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