1689: The Toleration Act and the Bill of Rights

William III and his co-ruler Mary II. Portrait by Sir James Thornhill (Public Domain).


The Dutch William of Orange invades Britain and takes the British throne in the Glorious Revolution of late 1688.


One of the first deeds of William III and his queen Mary II is the Toleration Act of May 1689. The law grants religious freedom to most Protestant dissenters, but not to Catholics, anti-Trinitarians and Atheists.


In December, the regents give royal assent to the Bill of Rights, which secures freedoms like habeas corpus and free speech in parliament:


9. That the freedom of speech, and debates or proceedings in parliament, ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of parliament.
– The Bill of Rights (1689)


Read the Bill of Rights here.