Act of Settlement

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Settlement, Act of,

1701, passed by the English Parliament, to provide that if William IIIWilliam III,
1650–1702, king of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1689–1702); son of William II, prince of Orange, stadtholder of the United Provinces of the Netherlands, and of Mary, oldest daughter of King Charles I of England.
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 and Princess Anne (later Queen AnneAnne,
1665–1714, queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1702–7), later queen of Great Britain and Ireland (1707–14), daughter of James II and Anne Hyde; successor to William III.
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) should die without heirs, the succession to the throne should pass to SophiaSophia
, 1630–1714, electress of Hanover, consort of Elector Ernest Augustus. She was the daughter of Frederick the Winter King and Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was the daughter of James I of England.
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, electress of Hanover, granddaughter of James IJames I,
1566–1625, king of England (1603–25) and, as James VI, of Scotland (1567–1625). James's reign witnessed the beginnings of English colonization in North America (Jamestown was founded in 1607) and the plantation of Scottish settlers in Ulster.
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, and to her heirs, if they were Protestants. The house of HanoverHanover, house of,
ruling dynasty of Hanover (see Hanover, province), which was descended from the Guelphs and which in 1714 acceded to the British throne in the person of George I.
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, which ruled Great Britain from 1714, owed its claim to this act. Among additional provisions, similar to those in the Bill of RightsBill of Rights,
1689, in British history, one of the fundamental instruments of constitutional law. It registered in statutory form the outcome of the long 17th-century struggle between the Stuart kings and the English Parliament.
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, were requirements that the king must join in communion with the Church of England (see England, Church ofEngland, Church of,
the established church of England and the mother church of the Anglican Communion. Organization and Doctrine

The clergy of the church are of three ancient orders: deacons, priests, and bishops.
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), 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 JacobitesJacobites
, adherents of the exiled branch of the house of Stuart who sought to restore James II and his descendants to the English and Scottish thrones after the Glorious Revolution of 1688. They take their name from the Latin form (Jacobus) of the name James.
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 prompted the act.