ABJURATION (of the Realm) sig nifies a sworn banishment, or the taking of an oath to renounce and depart from the realm for ever. By the ancient com mon law of England, if a person guilty of any felony, excepting sacrilege, fled to a parish church or churchyard for sanc might, within forty days after go clothed in sackcloth before the coroner, confess the full particulars of his guilt, and take an oath to abjure the king.
dom for ever, and not to return without the king's licence. Upon making his confession and taking this oath, he be came attainted of the felony; he had forty days from the day of his appearance before the coroner to prepare for his departure, and the coroner assigned him such port as he chose for his embarkation, to which he was bound to repair immediately with a cross in his band, and to embark with all convenient speed. If he did not go immediately out of the kingdom, or if he afterwards returned into England with out licence, he was condemned to be hanged, unless he happened to be a clerk, in which case he was allowed the benefit of clergy. This practice, which has ob vious marks of a religious origin, was, by several regulations in the reign of Henry VIII., in a great measure discontinued, and at length by the statute 21 James I.
C. 28, all privilege of sanctuary and ab juration consequent upon it were entirely abolished. In the reign of Queen Eliza beth, however, amongst other severities then enacted against Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters convicted of having refused to attend the divine service of the Church of England, they were by statute (35 Eliz. c. 1) required to abjure the realm in open court, and if they refused to swear, or returned to England without licence after their departure, they were to be adjudged felons, and to suffer death without benefit of clergy. Thus the punishment of abjuration inflicted by this Act of Parliament was far more severe than abjuration for felony at the common law : in the latter case, the felon had the benefit of clergy ; in the former, it was expressly taken away. Protestant Dis senters are expressly exempted from this severe enactment by the Toleration Act; but Popish recusants convict were liable to be called upon to abjure the realm for their recusancy, until a statute, passed in the 31 Geo. III. (1791), relieved them from that and many other penal restric tions upon their taking the oaths of alle giance and abjuration.