Settlement, Act of

Settlement, Act of, 1701, passed by the English Parliament, to provide that if William III and Princess Anne (later Queen Anne) should die without heirs, the succession to the throne should pass to Sophia, electress of Hanover, granddaughter of James I, and to her heirs, if they were Protestants. The house of Hanover, which ruled Great Britain from 1714, owed its claim to this act. Among additional provisions, similar to those in the Bill of Rights, were requirements that the king must join in communion with the Church of England (see England, Church of), that he might not leave England without parliamentary consent, and that English armies might not be used in defense of foreign territory without parliamentary consent. The act also prohibited royal pardons for officials impeached by Parliament. A clause providing that no appointee or pensioner of the king should sit in the House of Commons was repealed (1705) before the act became effective. The unpopularity of William's pro-Dutch policy, the lack of an heir to William or Anne, and fear of the Jacobites prompted the act.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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