AFFIRMATION is the solemn asse veration made by Quakers, Moravian, and Separatists, in cases where an oath is required from others. This indulgence was first introduced by the statute 7 & 8 Wm. III. c 34, which enacts that the solemn affirmation of Quakers in courts of justice shall have the same effect m an oath taken in the usual form. The pro. visions of this statute are explained and extended by 8 Geo. I. c. 6, and 22 Geo. IL a. 46,s. 38; but in all these statutes there is a clause expressly restraining Quakers from giving evidence on their affirmation in criminal cases. This ex ception, which Lord Mansfield called "a strong prejudice in the minds of the great men who introduced the original statute " (Cowper's Reports, p. 390), has been entirely removed by a recent enactment (9 Geo. IV. c. 32); and Quakers and Moravians are now entitled to give evi dence in all cases, criminal as well as civil, upon their solemn affirmation. By 3 & 4 Wm. IV. c. 82, the people called Separatists are allowed to make affirma tion instead of taking an oath. The Act 1 & 2 Viet. c. 77, allows the same pri vilege to persons who have been at any time Quakers, Moravians, or Separatists, and have ceased to be such, but still en tertain conscientious objections to the taking of an oath. [OATH.] A curious question arose during the session of par liament of 1833 respecting the sufficiency of the affirmation of a Quaker, instead of the customary oaths, on his taking his seat in the House of Commons: the sub ject was referred to a committee, upon whose report the House resolved that the affirmation was admissible.
AGE. The common law of England has fixed certain times in the life of a man and woman at which they become legally capable of doing certain acts and owing certain duties, of which before attaining this age they were incapable. Thus, at the age of twelve years a man may take the oath of allegiance ; at fourteen, which for many purposes is considered the age of discretion, a person of either sex may choose a guardian, and may also, accord ing to ancient authorities, be a witness in courts of justice. As to the capacity to be a witness, the rule is at the present day considerably relaxed, for much younger children are 'frequently per mitted to give evidence, after it has been ascertained by examination that they un derstand the nature of an oath. A female
at the age of twelve years, and a mule at the age of fourteen years, could formerly make a will of personal estate ; but it was provided by statute (33 & 34 Hen. VIII. c. 5) that no person under the age of twenty-one years should make a will of lands. The act of 1 Viet. c. 26, declares that no will made by any person under the age of twenty-one years is valid. A person may be appointed executor at any age, but he cannot act till he is twenty one.
With respect to matrimony, a woman may consent to marriage at twelve, and a man at fourteen years of age ; though parties under the age of twenty-one years cannot actually marry without the con sent of their respective parents or guar dians. [MARRIAGE.] The age of twenty one years is, for most civil purposes, the full age both of a man and woman, at which period they may enter iuto pos session of their real and personal estates, may manage and dispose of them at their discretion, and make contracts and en gagements. All persons under the age of twenty-one are legally called Infants. A man cannot be ordained a priest till twenty-four, nor be a bishop till thirty years of age. A man cannot be a mem ber of the House of Commons before be has attained the age of twenty-one. In the Congress of the United States of America, a member of the Senate must not be under thirty, and to be eli gible to a seat in the House of Repre sentatives it is necessary to have attained the age of twenty-five. In the French Chamber of Peers a member might take his seat at the age of twenty-five, but lie could not vote until he had attained the age of thirty. A member of the Na tional Assembly must not be under the age of 25. An elector must be 21 years old ; and before the Revolution of 1830 no one could vote under thirty. The deputies of the Swedish Diet must be twenty-five. A deputy of the Spanish Cortes must also be twenty-five. Under the new Greek constitution a senator must be at least forty years of age ; er he must have filled certain offices in the state.